A Comforting Masquerade

PCs : Augustine, Isabella

A Shattered Castle on the Hill
Hills once lush, now barren, fields once filled with the bounty of the common man, now little more than fodder. Graves litter the countryside, erected with haste and as much love as a few moments would provide. These were the lands of Lo'Kier.

Lo'Kier has changed greatly in the past year: Struck down by a mysterious curse, stricken with a nameless plague, and abandoned by her once proud knights. Beneath the blanket of night a carriage approaches the last salvageable bit of Lo'Kier, The Keep of Rol na Feinne.

Sandstone walls appear even older than ashen countryside it overlooks. Hanging limply the keep's standard simply flitters lifelessly above the rusting portcullis. The carriage wheels squeak to a slow halt before the gates.

Isabella leans forward within the confines of the carriage, lace-gloved hand pulling back the small curtain over its window a notch for a peek outside as the driver slows their pace to a crawl. "E cosi bello..(it's so beautiful)" she whispers under her breath. The countryside, though ruined, seems to bring a childlike excitement to her, so reminiscent of a beloved home left behind. She looks over her shoulder to Augustine, eyes sparkling. "This is where we go?"

A black gloved hand slips from the shadowy recess of the carriage compartment to rap against the procured vehicle. Turning his steel gaze to the woman he has grown to trust as friend Augustine flourishes his hand towards the deteriorated structure.

"Si Caro Flower, questo 'e dove rimarremo, almeno per un breve tempo.(Yes Dear Flower, this is where we will be staying, atleast for a brief time.) Eyes that seemed to be poured from the very umbra flicker as he notices the smile. "Gradite si? (You like, yes?)"

Isabella nods quickly, already gathering the few belongings she'd brought for the trip - a book of literature, velvet wrist pouch, and her strand of rosary beads. "How long since we see land as open as this since home, no?" she smiles, unaware of the broken accent. As the driver opens the cab for the two within she eagerly accepts the outstretched hand, carefully stepping out with still slightly unsteady balance.

"Grazie", she nods to the squat man as he helps her down, her attention quickly stolen from him by the sprawling landscape outstretched about the castle.

Augustine watches her childlike innocence and manages to smile himself "I must thank my most gracious benefactor who has such a heart to send us here." A plot of the land was recently purchased by Duke Luther, in his desire to accumulate power abroad.

Hearing of the purchase Augustine managed a way to embed himself within the political wheels of Darkhaven in the role of Land surveyor to the Lord Duke Luther. Pouring himself from the carriage Augustine Ignores the offered hand with a scowl.

Isabella leaves the task of fare and seeing the driver off to Augustine, rather taken in by the unexpected destination. She draws in a deep, indulgent breath, stooping just enough to pull her glove off and run her fingers through the damp grass. "Agostino, what is the name of this place?" she questions distantly, her attention seemingly riveted by the simplistic rural growth.

Augustine nods coldly towards the hired help: They quickly place the travelers belongings in a neat pile. Without a word Augustine passes a sealed envelope to the driver, it will be delivered to his Lordship well before the setting of the next sun.

"Agostino?" she reiterates at his lack of response, glancing back to him with a shade of concern. She slowly rises to join him, a tiny handful of the wilting blades still in hand. "Do you not approve?"

She motions to the looming structure ahead with her still-gloved hand, wrist purse dangling. "So much more fitting than that Dark-haven.. ripugnante!" she nearly spits the word, the bitter memory of their last dwelling still fresh on her tongue.

Augustine returns this attention to the recently awakened beauty "Nessun approvo il fiore caro. (No I approve dear flower.) I am overjoyed that you are pleased. The name of these lands is Lo'Kier, and the keep is called Rol na Fen I believe."

Stopping for a brief moment to take note of Isabella's flourishing demeanor Augustine shakes his head, these lands are dead yet she is struck with awe, such simplicity is a blessing.

Isabella nods, repeating the foreign-sounding name with some deliberate effort. "Rol-na-Fen.." She nods again, as though satisfied. Her smile returns, holding the torn pieces of grass out to him proudly. "Touch it.. still wet!"

Tilting her head upward she breathes in, sniffing at the air. "Do you smell that?" she asks, eyes closed though with a widening smile. "Sale del mare! (sea salt)" she exclaims.

Augustine laughs despite his unease with allowing himself to be so vulnerable. Augustine removes his gloves, all the while shaking his head, a feared trade Lord, dread pirata, playing in damp grass.. "Si fine, mi Fiore."

Fingers tentatively grasp the wet grass, it has been a century or three since you have actually enjoyed such trivial behavior, relish this Augustine, soon it is back to angry peasants and trade pacts. Augustine inhales the scent carefully "Dama Fiore, you speak truth. Salt and sea air! Hah, I am dreaming, pinch me."

"It *is* just like home then!" She closes her hand around his, sealing the blades between them in some unspoken pact. For now, little else seemed to matter aside from the blissful respite into nostalgia this place somehow provided. Tugging anxiously at his hand she pulls him toward the castle gates. "Venuto.. venuto! (come, come) I wish to see all of it!"

Augustine looks over his shoulders to the baggage left unattended, a small fortune therein should the belongings be lost or stolen, yet for her first smile in over a year this is well worth any cost.

He accepts her gesture with the softest of squeezes and follows her towards the strangely quiet castle. There is much to be done in the coming days and months, but for now, only her laughter seem to be his priority.

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