[CRP] Family is Forever

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Cordelia
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[CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Cordelia » Fri May 07, 2021 11:03 am

Cordelia sighed quietly, grey eyes focused outside. She sat at a window, a cup of tea in her hands. The morning before, she had excused herself from Hart Helm. She explained to Rhozin she had some business to attend to in the Northern Hartlands and she would prefer if he stayed at Hart Helm. She said she hoped it would help him become more comfortable there, but in truth, she just could not bring him with her. While she did have business to attend to, it was not of state business nor was it in the north. It was more Northeast, along the edge of the Hartlands.

Along the major river that ran down the boarder of the territory, sat a small manor house. It was poised on the cliffs, with the water below, and forest surrounding it. It was a building much newer than the ancient Hart Helm, complete with a garden and its own staff. It was called Everden. The hunting lodge had been a gift from Alice’s father upon her marriage to Zaroffi Everhart. It was about a days ride from the nearest village, nicely secluded in a beautiful part of the Whisperwoods. The white stone stood in stark contrast to the landscape, and yet it was built to flow with the land in such a way that it felt like it had always been there.

It was within Everden Cordelia was sitting. Waiting. She sipped her tea quietly. A part of her felt guilt from lying to Rhozin. Surely, she could have just been honest. Yet, it was a private situation that she needed to deal with by herself. For now, at least. The whole ordeal was meant to be private, to save face for the family. Another sigh left her lips. She would tell him eventually, but for now, he needn’t know.
Lady Cordelia "Cora" Zabel Winterbourne Everhart-Gellygen of Hart Helm, the Horned Wolf
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Cousin to High King Zuan, Zhou, Ambra, Dahlia, Trinity, Serafay, & Thea | Married to Rhozin Gellygen of old Kiene

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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Thea » Sun May 09, 2021 9:05 pm

The southerly journey from the Imperian Castle felt extremely long, longer than Thea thought it should take anyway. She had taken similar trips before but not often. In truth it was not the journey that was too long, it was increasing anticipation and anxiety. This was not just a trip for pleasure. She was being sent away from the capital for her 'comfort' and 'privacy'. Thea honestly did not know if this was Zuan's idea or Cordelia's but at least it would be good to get away from the King for a while. Living under Zuan's very large roof had been very restrictive. It had been done in an attempt to reform her rebellious behavior but it had quite the opposite effect. Instead, her acts of defiance became increasingly outrageous. In December of last year, she had run away, only to be returned to the castle by the King's guards a short time later. Since then she had been mostly been kept under heavy supervision in her castle apartments. Now months later, it had been decided that it would be better to send her to stay with Cordelia, without any consulting with her it should be noted.

A few days after leaving Fenia, the young woman arrived via carriage at Everden. She arrived with only the company of guards, the King had chosen to stay behind in the capital to attend to his regular duties which Thea was glad for. The carriage slowed to a stop and the driver hopped down from this seat to open the carriage door for her.

"We are here, Lady Winterbourne."

"Yes, I can see that."


Thea gave a petulant huff to the driver as she helped herself down from the carriage by bracing herself against the door. Why was it that men felt the need to state the obvious? She was not stupid. One of the guards that had escorted her here dismounted his horse and moved towards her.

"Your cousin will already be here, waiting for you."

The man gestured for her to follow him towards the house, at least he did not try to grab her elbow to pull her inside. She gave a curt nod and followed him as he led her up to the house where he took the liberty of knocking on the door for her.
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Lady Dorathea "Thea" Winterbourne | Cousin & Ward of King Zuan | The Red Wolf

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Cordelia
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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Cordelia » Tue May 11, 2021 11:03 am

In due time, the sight of horses and a carriage emerged from around the bend of the drive, coming out from the thinning trees that surrounded the hunting lodge. Cordelia rose to her feet, finding the housekeeper. She asked for a fresh pot of mint tea to be put on. While Marion retreated to the kitchen, the Lady Everhart went to the foyer. Why did she feel anxious?

It was probably because Zuan had trusted Thea into her care. For anyone who knew the wild Winderbourne, they would understand that was a big task to undertake. Still, Cordelia was confident in her offer. Thea took to her better than their overbearing king. Perhaps it was because they were nearly the same age and grew up together, while Zuan was much older. Or perhaps it was because Zuan simply did not understand how to handle such rebellion. That would imply Cordelia did, but she supposed the next few months would be very revealing on the matter.

The knock on the door was swiftly (perhaps too swiftly) received. She opened the door herself, eager to greet her cousin. After inviting them all in, she gave Thea a light hug in greeting.

“I am glad to see you have arrived safely. I hope it was not too tedious.

Would you prefer to sit down or do you want to walk? The day is pleasant; we can walk the gardens. I do have a pot of mint tea brewing for you as well.”


Too much. She was being too much. However, she felt the pressure as she briefly looked the girl up and down. She wanted Thea comfortable and for this to be more like a vacation away from high society instead of an imprisonment.

“Not much has really changed since you were last here, but I can freshen your mind with a tour.” It may have been years, but with Everden being a newer building, nothing had really need replacing or updating. It was much more on par for the times than the ancient Hart Helm. “I will be here for two days before I have to return. Rhozin is officially here in Fenia. He does not know why I am here, or even exactly where I am, so I would rather not stay away too long. I will come back and visit every other week though. Just to check in and see how you are doing.”

She added the last statement in hopes of showing she was not here to be a warden, but rather a friend. Times would be interesting moving forward. She ceased her chatter, giving her cousin a moment to decide what they were doing.
Lady Cordelia "Cora" Zabel Winterbourne Everhart-Gellygen of Hart Helm, the Horned Wolf
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Cousin to High King Zuan, Zhou, Ambra, Dahlia, Trinity, Serafay, & Thea | Married to Rhozin Gellygen of old Kiene

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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Thea » Thu May 20, 2021 12:43 pm

Thea did not have to wait long. The door was quickly thrown open and she was received personally by her cousin. Cordelia, who was slightly her senior, embraced her as she crossed the threshold.

"Hello, Cora."

Thea greeted her before falling silent as Cordelia rambled a bit. It was clear that she was nervous and that Thea was the cause. She felt her cousin's eyes look her up and down. Probably she was looking for signs of her condition, the very reason that Thea had been sent here. The changes were obvious to anyone that knew her well. Her usual warm olive complexion was paler now and there were dark circles under her eyes. Overall her body appeared thinner. Her collarbone was more pronounced and her shoulder bones were noticeable through the fabric of her dress. The girl’s cheeks appeared less full. Her arms and legs were more narrow. The only part of her body that had not lost mass was her stomach which was hidden under a loose fitting dress but was visibly larger and round.

"A walk around the grounds is a good idea. I have not been able to stretch my legs in a long time."

Her words implied that she had been cooped up for the journey here, which was true, but Thea really had not been outside of the castle much at all since December. She turned back towards the door where two guards were standing and watching her. They were always watching. After a moment they moved aside and allowed her to exit the house again. For a moment she closed her eyes and turned her face towards the warmth of the sun as she waited for Cora to join her.

"How do you like him?"

Thea started with a simple question as the two began to walk. After a slight pause she added to clarify.

"Your betrothed."
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Lady Dorathea "Thea" Winterbourne | Cousin & Ward of King Zuan | The Red Wolf

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Cordelia
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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Cordelia » Thu May 20, 2021 2:30 pm

Cordelia was pleased that her cousin chose a walk in the fresh air. She felt the need for it. Perhaps due to growing up alongside each other, or some unknown reason, but Thea had a way to rile her up. It was like the lady Cordelia created was stripped back to a small girl when her cousin was around. In a way though, it meant she was more relaxed and content in her company.

She intertwined her fingers together as they began to walk, feeling the sun warming her dark hair. The woman considered the question a moment before responding:

“Rhozin is... He is pleasant. I am not entirely sure how he feels towards me, but I think I may have gotten lucky. He seems genuine, behind the nice clothes and proper manners. Very polite, but maybe we are getting past that stage...”

Cordelia was content with filling the silence as the turned to walk down the gravel path, following the hedges beside the house. The sound of a fountain became apparent as they got further away from the building, sitting center of the groomed lawn and garden.

“I do believe he shall treat me well... Even if it’s just because I am cousin to the king.” She faltered with a pause. “That was a bad joke. He is kind. I do not know if we will be happy longterm, but I think we have a chance. That is all I could ask for.

I was hoping you would still come to the wedding.”
Grey eyes shifted from ahead towards Thea, still following her pace and lead. “Would you? It would mean a lot to me. I’ve already spoken with Zuan. Even if we have grown apart in recent years, you are still like a sister to me.”

The little sister she wanted and had lost. Sometimes she wondered how different their childhoods would have been if Elisabeth had not been killed. The guilt was something she would always carry with her, taking up the space where the lifetime of memories would have gone.

“It is not like there are many of us around. I’ve yet it’s really grow close to Serafay since her return. Ambra has been missing since Widu’s fateful battle and I can’t remember the last time Dahlia was around. Not that we ever spent much time with them, it does make things feel a bit empty when you’re planning a wedding.”

She absently twisted the ring on her finger, thinking deeply. “I think I am going to ask Zuan if he will give me away. It seems most appropriate. June 1st is approaching too quickly! I find myself thinking about the wedding far too much, though my mother has it well underhand.”
Lady Cordelia "Cora" Zabel Winterbourne Everhart-Gellygen of Hart Helm, the Horned Wolf
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Cousin to High King Zuan, Zhou, Ambra, Dahlia, Trinity, Serafay, & Thea | Married to Rhozin Gellygen of old Kiene

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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Thea » Thu May 20, 2021 4:45 pm

Thea moved along quietly and listened to her cousin's smooth voice fill the space between them. Cora seemed perfectly happy to do the majority of the talking and just let her chime in when she felt like it. However, Thea's brow did arch as she tried to make a joke about her intended only treating her well because she was Zuan's cousin. It was clear that Thea was not the only thing making Cordelia nervous. Thea could not imagine wanting to be tied to someone that another had chosen for her. At this thought, her hand moved instinctively to her neck where a plain silver ring hung on a delicate chain. Then again, she probably was not a good person to judge.

"I do not get many choices on where I am allowed to go. Has His Majesty agreed to allow me to attend?"

She responded to Cordelia's question of whether or not she would attend the wedding. Her voice stressed the words 'His Majesty' in a manner that suggested a high level of annoyance with the King.

"If he has agreed to let me go then, of course, I will attend."

Thea continued to listen to Cora chatter about wedding plans. To herself, she wondered if she would be able to hide her own transforming body. It seemed increasingly unlikely the longer things went on. They continued to meander down the gravel path and came upon a large fountain. She looked towards her kin with a sideways glance. Cordelia appeared to be fidgeting with the ring on her finger.

"Do you really want to get married to this man? A man that has been chosen for you?"

As she said this, Thea took a seat on the edge of the large basin and stretched out her legs in front of her.

"You do not have to marry him. I know you think it is your duty, but it is not. You owe nothing to anyone but yourself."
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Lady Dorathea "Thea" Winterbourne | Cousin & Ward of King Zuan | The Red Wolf

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Cordelia
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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Cordelia » Fri May 21, 2021 10:17 am

There was reassurance that Thea would be there. It may prove to be tricky, but Cordelia would not take ‘no’ from Zuan on the matter. Ultimately though, she did not think he’d consider otherwise - public appearance aside, family was everything and a wedding was a big deal. He would want everyone present if possible.

Still, she would much rather it be Thea’s choice. So the confirmation was exactly what she wanted.

While her cousin sat, Cordelia lingered on her feet for a moment before sitting beside her. The question posed was a bold one, but she knew Thea meant well by it. All the same, it required her to think deeply, letting silence fill the space between them. She imagined the two women had very different views in the topic, Rhozin aside. One craved freedom, the other strived for duty. It was no wonder the question rose.

“Well...” The horned wolf considered her words carefully. “I think I like him.”

Was that enough? Cordelia crossed her ankles, clasping her hands together on her lap.

“I am not like you, Thea. I doubt I could find myself a husband. How do you even find a man? You can’t go to the market and order one.” Her tone was a bit lighter, trying to make a joke despite being very serious: she had no idea what she was doing when it came to men. Thea, well, that didn’t seem to be the case. They had not really discussed whatever had happened because she respected the space Thea seemed to desire. But obviously, Thea knew what she was doing. “I wish I knew how to be like you. So... Carefree. You say I do not owe anyone anything, but I feel that I do. When I marry, I secure my lineage, my father’s lineage. My family home remains secure, my mother remains with a roof over her head, and I have income in my pockets. I cannot afford to... Follow my heart, like you.”

And there was the difference. Cordelia came from a high noble family, and was in much closer relation to a king than her cousin was. Such relations came with their burdens.
Lady Cordelia "Cora" Zabel Winterbourne Everhart-Gellygen of Hart Helm, the Horned Wolf
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Cousin to High King Zuan, Zhou, Ambra, Dahlia, Trinity, Serafay, & Thea | Married to Rhozin Gellygen of old Kiene

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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Thea » Fri May 21, 2021 1:00 pm

Thea gave Cordelia a curious look. She wondered if Zuan had in fact told her the details of the rebellious cousin's escapades. Cora had not brought up anything directly. Did she know what Thea had done or what had become of the man she had lured away from the city? After a moment she kicked off her slippers and pulled up her skirts, revealing just how thin her legs had become. She piled up the fabric in her lap so that it would not get wet, then she pivoted on the spot and put her legs into the fountain. The cool water rose to her knees. She peered down at her legs though her mind was very far away. The thoughts would creep up on her suddenly. Memories on a loop playing back what had happened. It took her a moment to realize that her cousin had stopped speaking.

"That is the problem with society. The idea that a woman needs a man to have a full life. It is nonsense. You are a smart, capable woman. You are more than enough on your own. I have no doubt that you are capable of providing for yourself and your mother and can take care of Hartland all on your own. It is society that tells you you need a man and children. You are your own legacy, not a marriage and children."

There was a pause as Thea looked up from the water that splashed at her legs. Her gaze turned to Cora. Her grey eyes, common among some of the Winterbournes, looked appraisingly at her cousin.

"I was never with a man for love or because I was following my heart. I did not need or want a man to take care of me, nor do I want that now. What I want, what I have always wanted, was to just be myself."

She turned her eyes back towards the fountain before continuing.

"I married a man thinking that would buy me freedom. Now I am here in this... situation. He is gone and there is no one to blame for what happened but me."

Thea splashed some of the water towards the center of the fountain with a kick of her foot. She really could go for a drink right now.

"If you are happy to marry this man, I will not try to stop you."
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Lady Dorathea "Thea" Winterbourne | Cousin & Ward of King Zuan | The Red Wolf

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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Cordelia » Fri May 21, 2021 2:34 pm

Her eyes followed Dorathea’s movements. Not in a nosy sort of way, but with a rising, mild concern. It had not escaped her notice how frail her rebellious cousin appeared. She wondered how much weight she had lost, even in the last few weeks since they had seen each other.

It wasn’t sooner after Thea turned around that Cordelia decided to follow. Slipping her feet out of her slippers, she maneuvered her dress up while she turned around. The water brought instant relief to the warm sun. She adjusted the dress so the fabric hung off the ledge behind her, before placing her hands back in her lap. By this point, silence settled between them once more.

Was she happy to marry Rhozin? Or perhaps the better, more daunting question should be: did she value herself beyond a ring on her finger?

Grey eyes dropped down to her hand. The heirloom ring was delicate, likely a result from the Gellygen magic she had heard about, but had yet to witness. The petite details of the stag and flowers were mesmerizing.

She sighed quietly. She would fight tooth and nail to be seen as a man’s equal. She was the Everhart heir, heir to the wild Hartlands. It was not a rare instance where she felt underestimated solely for her gender. So, why was she so adamant about marrying in the duty of family? Somehow, there laid a disconnect between her fiery independence and her need to serve.

“I do like him.” The words fell from her lips like raindrops off a petal. Soft, natural. She almost surprised herself, feeling like she had spoken a silent thought aloud without the intention. But, she did not take it back. “You are right: if I am to marry Rhozin, it should be because I wish to.”

She paused, extending her leg out far enough to catch the falling water from the center column of the fountain.

“I have arranged for a few different midwives and physicians to come in a few days. I’d like you to pick two. They will stay here with you for the duration of your stay to make sure you stay safe and healthy. I want the choice to be yours, seeing as you’ll be spending time with them. I told Zuan not to bother with that cranky bat he had caught for you back at the palace.”

She hoped Thea could appreciate the efforts Cordelia was putting forth. She did not follow up her request with the threat of choosing for her, if she did not make a choice. While that would be the case, she did not wish to make Everden just another pretty prison.

“We have not really talked about all of this yet, but... Have you thought about what you wanted to do? Zuan is not here.” She shifted, looking at Thea directly. Her voice grew quieter. “Accidents happen, Thea.”
Lady Cordelia "Cora" Zabel Winterbourne Everhart-Gellygen of Hart Helm, the Horned Wolf
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Cousin to High King Zuan, Zhou, Ambra, Dahlia, Trinity, Serafay, & Thea | Married to Rhozin Gellygen of old Kiene

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Re: [CRP] Family is Forever

Post by Thea » Fri May 21, 2021 8:58 pm

Thea could sense the doubts in Cordelia. Duty could be as much a cage as any prison cell. How often had women lost themselves in blind obedience? She would have to trust her cousin to be smart enough to not make those mistakes. Maybe Cordelia was the smart one. She was far more free than Thea ever was in all of her acts of rebellion. The grip that was around her only tightened more and more.

When Cordelia moved on to talking about arrangements for Thea's stay she remained silent. She did not say anything to the mention of midwives and physicians. She gave no acknowledgement to even hearing the words. It was only when she was asked a direct question did she speak again.

"Zuan has decided to grant me a manor with a small title after... the birth. Something outside of the city but near enough that he can keep an eye on me per his agreement with Mother. It does sound better than having to go back to the castle again. He is too overbearing."

She sighed quietly to herself. At least, even if she was still under the eyes of the King and his guards, a home away from the Imperian Castle should allow her some space to breathe. Some space to be herself. She had not factored in that she would also be expected to take care of a child, an infant. The King had probably already thought of that and likely had already hired a fleet of servants to make sure the baby was cared for. Her instincts were wild, not maternal after all.

"I am not sure you can call this an accident, can you? Stupidity might be a better word for it."
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Lady Dorathea "Thea" Winterbourne | Cousin & Ward of King Zuan | The Red Wolf

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