Private Tales The Whispers of A Friend

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Elise Virak

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Virak Winter Estate

The Virak Winter Estate was located just a few dozen miles away from the Falwood itself. Nestled within the Velmont mountains and guarded by steep cliffs, the castle had been built by Sarkus Virak long before the Second Elven War. It had stood as one of the final bastions against the knife-ear's tyrannical assault against Anirian lands.

A story was told of one of the final battles of the war. A tale where members of the Southern Army of the Guard and House Virak's own regiments fought bravely until they broke the Elven Siege. The armies were slain, nearly to a man, saving only the young sons of the Virak family. It was this that had allowed the Virak Family to rise to it's great Status in Vel Anir.

So it had always been claimed anyway.

In truth, the facts of the story were much different.

The men, neither Guard nor those in the service of House Virak itself, had not died fighting bravely upon the walls. Instead they had been slaughtered in the Great Hall. Five hundred of them. Their throats cut, their blood spilled onto the great rune carved into the marble floors. Each of their lives claimed by the Well. Each of them sacrificed for the great good.

Their deaths had allowed Elise's ancestors to survive. Their offering enough to allow her forefathers to shatter the Elven army. Thus was the power of their magic. The strength of the Well. Five hundred men made for an army, the power of their blood? That made for something greater all together.

Elise found herself musing on the story as she stared up at the mosaic now hanging within Grand Hall. The depiction of colored stones showing five hundred men upon a wall, each roaring in defiance, each ready to die.

Those had been the halcyon days.

When her family hadn't hid their magic completely. When they had called upon it, and the people had given themselves willingly to a greater cause.

Now they clamored for every little scrap of power they could get. Peasants fighting obscenely over anything and everything they could get their grubby little hands on. The New Republic was a battleground of a different sort, one that seemed strangely more difficult than the one she had grown up with. That was why she was here. A break.

Reprieve.

She had needed to get out of the city and go somewhere quiet, relax, or at least allow herself a moment away from the screaming children back in Vel Anir.

"Baroness, Lady Aisling has arrived."

"Wonderful." She had invited her old friend along, knowing that her mindset was...not the same, but similar. Aisling's outlook on life was far different than Elise's, but that didn't matter. Not after all they had been through together. "Please, show her in."

Elise said as she turned away from the Mosaic, taking a small sip of her wine.
 
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Aisling Weiroon

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It had been a little absurd that Aisling even had to justify her plans to take a vacation of sorts to the military and the Republic officials. Only after she had pointed out every action they'd asked her to do, the fact she'd fulfilled those obligations to the letter, and hinted that her father was already on death's door did they finally relent.

Despite all of the terrible things inflicted upon her growing up, despite the cruelty she saw him display on a regular basis, she couldn't help but continue to love the man. Or, at least, something like love.

Once he died the Republic would lose one of their biggest bargaining chips.

And so she'd made her way to the winter estate of House Virak. The invitation had been a welcome relief and exactly the sort of mental break that the Weiroon woman had needed. She'd been advised to dress warmly, it was high up in the mountains, and she'd insisted that her attendants pack coffee beans that had been roasted with pods of vanilla. It was one of her favorites and she knew her old friend would ensure there was plenty of alcohol.

"Ellie," she said warmly as she was shown into the chamber, "it's so good to see you."

She had said it not in the manner that some nobles did when they wished to appear disingenuous by being overly friendly but because she truly meant it. The past year had been hell and seeing her old friend, in an intimate setting, was a true relief.

"This place is incredible. I can't believe I never got to see it until now," they'd vacationed at other estates before and spent evenings at each other's home estates but this was her first time all the way out on the frontier at the fortress estate of the Virak's.
 
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Elise Virak

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Elise smiled warmly as she saw her friend, practically lighting up. She swept forward across the Great Hall in an instant. A servant seemed to appear out of nowhere, holding up a silver tray upon which she placed her cup of wine.

Without waiting even half a second Elise wrapped her arms around Aisling, pulling the other woman into a tight embrace. "It's good to see you too."

She said with genuine warmth in her tone.

As cold blooded as she seemed to most, as curt and cutting as she truly was, Aisling was one of the few people who could bring out the other side of Elise. Her friend simply sparked the old her, the young teenager that had not yet been broken down by Anirian Politics.

"Father never did like anyone coming here." Elise said as she pulled back from Aisling. "Not after mother passed."

The Castle had practically sat empty for more than a decade. "After his...well."

She shook her head.

"I thought I would go somewhere with pleasant memories." She could still remember running through these halls with her brothers, going up to the telescope in the tower, watching her mother in the Library. Echoes that she still clung to.
 
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Aisling Weiroon

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Aisling squeezed her old friend tightly. For a split second they were transported back to when they'd been growing up. When the two girls would sneak sweets from the Weiroon kitchen or convince one of the house maids at the Virak estate in the countryside to bring them Montcroix wine from Oban when Elise's parents were away for a week.

A small frown developed, "it's ok Ellie," she rubbed her friend's arm.

It was an ugly memory. Ellie's own father had tried to kill her, in their home. It was a miracle she'd managed to survive and fight him off. Aisling supposed that, to her core, that's who her best friend was. A fighter. The event must've still weighed on her though and the former corsair was happy to help her rest and recuperate at the winter estate.

"And we're about to make plenty of new pleasant memories," Aisling insisted with a broad grin. Her straw-colored hair fluttered as her head swiveled up to the mosaic of the brave Anirians who had fallen centuries earlier.

She only hesitated for a moment before joining Elise on a plush sofa in the center of the room, a raging fire right next to them, the heat from the fire radiated off the women's flesh.

"Red or white?" one of the Virak attendants questioned with two bottles of wine on a silver platter.

"Red," Aisling was quick to answer. "So, are you looking at suitors?" Elise was unmarried, there weren't any other Viraks as far as Aisling knew, and the Weiroon heir had plenty of advisors suggesting she take a husband. She just assumed Elise was in the same boat.
 
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Elise Virak

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Elise barked out a laugh as Aisling joined her on the sofa. "Me?"

She had been married before of course.

The fated husband had...unfortunately, passed away before the marriage could be consummated. Conveniently, he had fallen in public by a hand that never lead back to her. Aisling had known the circumstances of course, though not the truth behind who had guided the knife.

Her sweet, and ever so lovely friend, still believed that it had simply been a stroke of luck that Elise had not been stuck with her toad of a Husband. A fact that the Virak girl would protect until the end. "No."

She shook her head.

"Life is going a mile a minute." Elise said as she took a sip of her wine. "I barely have time to breath, much less sift through the gaggle of men and women trying to find their way into my vaults."

Elise let out a small giggle at her own double entendre. She couldn't believe how much she missed this. How good it felt to just be...honest.
 
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Aisling Weiroon

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Aisling giggled along with Elise as laughter overtook her. She listened patiently and allowed Ellie to finish speaking as one of the servants poured her a glass of whatever red wine they had on hand.

Although Aisling had never been betrothed she'd had a few crushes in her life. Her advisors, and even some within the Republic's innerworkings, had made suggestions that she take a husband as her fate seemed destined to rule over House Weiroon's affairs.

When she considered her dear friend there was always a concern that the death of her first husband had been far too hard on her. Elise hadn't been in the navy. There wasn't anything, to her knowledge, stopping her from re-marrying. Except, perhaps, a broken heart over her deceased lover. If Ellie wished to talk about it further Aisling was prepared to be that shoulder to cry on.

But, instead, Elise broke it back around to the diligent work they were both undertaking.

"I think I can relate," she said back. It was truth, the past year had been a whirlwind. The work of a corsair was dangerous but the work of an Anirian politician was unrelenting and just as cutthroat. "I'm not well suited for the affairs of running a Great House." She took a long sip of her wine and then swirled the contents in her glass.

Glancing back over at the blonde baroness of Virak she added, "but my advisors keep pressing. Insisting that I should take up a husband. I just assumed yours were the same."
 
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Elise Virak

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"Nonsense, Ais." Elise said with a shake of her head. "You're suited just fine."

In fact, by Elise's estimations Aisling was one of the few people who probably deserved to run a great House. She was competent, smart, kind, and most of all loyal. There was little doubt in her mind that her friend would eventually find the right footing. Even if it took a little more time than she had assumed.

The Baroness took a small sip of her wine, glancing away from Aisling for a moment and gazing Into the fire. "Advisors advise, it's what they do."

Sometimes for your benefit, others for themselves.

"But ultimately the decision lies with you, Aisling." Not that it made it any easier. "The question is, do you want to be married?"

Despite the push and press of others, despite the whispers, Aisling was the one who had to make the choice.

"If so, there are plenty of options. Some of whom it might not even be so dreadful to live out your days with." Even after the Revolution there were many Noble sons and daughters who would make for fine Partners. Elise had considered many options, if only to form political alliances, but had quickly decided it wasn't worth her time. No partner could match up to what she needed.

"If not…" Elise trailed off and shrugged. "There are ways to turn this situation to your advantage."

She looked at her friend with a smile. This was a game she had played for years, and one she played well.
 
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Aisling Weiroon

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"Thanks Ellie. It's just, I was away for so long," she shook her head and thought back to her old life as a corsair. It'd been hard to slip back into the world of attending galas and speaking with dignitaries.

She let a laugh slip as her friend spoke of advisors and marriage. "I've one or two advisors I can't much ignore," the Republic council's adjutant and the Anirian Guard's representative, "and heavens no, I'm not in love with anyone."

As soon as the words were spoken she laughed again, "I guess my parents, and probably yours, have proven it's not really about that." A loveless marriage wasn't something that interested her. At least not in this stage of her life.

The game of politics behind it was just as much of a bore too. Picking the right family or striking a proper alliance or matching with someone who would publicly improve your image. It was all too much. Didn't suit her.

But then the other blonde woman said something that triggered a reaction from Aisling. A grin, the same grin she'd had when they were girls plotting a prank on the kitchen staff, pointed directly at her.

"I'm listening." Turning a situation to her advantage was something that Elise had been the master at. So far as Aisling could tell. She welcomed any advice on the subject.
 
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Elise Virak

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"I suppose they did." Elise said in regards to their parents.

Her father had always claimed that he'd loved her mother more than anything, but from what she could remember he had hardly ever been there. They had spent years and years here at the Winter Estate without him ever coming to visit.

He had been so far and distance, that she struggled to recall what he'd been like in those years. A part of her now realized that was likely because of his status in Vel Anir, the same that she held now. Yet setting that right in her head was...difficult to say the least.

Elise smirked at her friend. "It's easier than you would think, Ais."

Another sip of wine, and slowly she leaned forward.

"The key is not to entertain one suitor." She explained. "You entertain four, or five perhaps."

It really was easier than one would think. "A date to the gala with a Noble. A trek through the Gardens with a Merchant's son.

Though she would hope her friend wouldn't lower herself to choosing a merchant as her partner.

"Maybe even an excursion to the seaside with a Dreadlord." She let out a small laugh. "You play them against one another, and your advisors."

Elise said. "It doesn't matter what you do, only that their names and yours are intertwined, and that you continue to appear chaste."

Another small giggle.

"Keep their focus on what you might do. Not what you're actually doing." A trick she had used for most of her life.
 
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Aisling Weiroon

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Oh, how she missed this. Just talking with Elise about any number of topics. The glass of wine was a nice touch too, she reminded herself as Aisling took one more sip.

"That is so incredibly scandalous Ellie," she said with a snicker, "but I also absolutely love it."

Briefly her mind flickered through a few of the options she could pick for the maximum amount of confusion and excitement amongst the advisors back home pressuring her to take on a husband. It was a quick, fun, mental exercise. Though she wasn't entirely certain if she could play with all of their feelings like that. Maybe if she just made her intentions known outright but, the again, men could interpret attraction from some of the weirds cues.

Perhaps this was a piece of advice from Elise she'd simply pretend like she'd follow.

Aisling took another sip of her wine, "I'm definitely going to have to give that a try." A smile back at the other golden-locked woman before she shifted her weight once more.

"So, Ellie, what have you been up to? I haven't heard from you nearly as much as I would have liked to since," a frown touched her lips, "the revolution." It was just as much her fault as Elise's, Aisling had been terribly busy since she was ordered to resign from the corsairs and took up House Weiroon's affairs.
 
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Elise Virak

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Elise shrugged, the devious smiled on her face never fading. The method had worked well enough for her, and had kept attentions where she wanted them to be. It wasn't always easy, certainly not over the last year, but it was how she solved the problem.

"You have to find what works for you, Ais." Her father had said that no problem had just one solution, particularly when it came to matters of politics.

There were no rules in the Game of Houses, not really, and now that the scope of the board had widened it was even more so. One had to be clever, quick, and attentive when playing. A misstep could be fatal, or worse. Things were different in this Republic, and Elise was still entirely sure that more than a few of her new colleagues would like to see her in irons.

A frown briefly flickered over her features, but it was not because of Aisling's question.

After a passing second she seemed to snap out of a thought, the small smile returning to her lips as she took a sip of her wine. "I have been...adjusting."

"And ensuring my cousins adjust with me."
More than a few of them had all but threatened civil war before she'd managed to wrangle them into line. "They were not happy with the Revolution, my fathers death did not help with that."

Elise let out a long sigh. "There were questions about my...status as well. Particularly there being no Heir and I couldn't te-"

Her lips snapped shut.

There were so many secrets. She never shared her life with anyone, she never spoke of how she felt or what she was doing. Yet with Aisling it came so naturally, so easily that she hadn't even thought about it. Then her tongue slipped. A rare mistake, but one that she'd made nonetheless.

Elise closed her eyes and took a long breath. She knew Aisling would be curious, she also knew that she wouldn't ask. Yet a part of her wanted her friend to dig.

There were so many secrets, and Elise wasn't sure how much longer she could keep all of them.

"I…" Maybe it would be better this way. If she couldn't trust Aisling, who could she trust? Besides...maybe she deserved to know. She'd grown up with Elise's brothers, she'd known them. "You can't...you can't tell anyone. Not even Val."

It wasn't that she didn't trust their friend, but the more people knew the bigger chance there was something would slip out. The bigger danger there would be. "But...Aisling...Erich is alive."

Both of her brothers had been declared dead at fifteen years old. The story being that they had tragically been caught up in an accident at one of the Virak mines. A tale that even Elise had believed, at least until she'd discovered the truth of their families magic. By then Erich had been across the world, gone from her life and never expected to return.

Until she'd found him at this very castle, his wife in tow.
 
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Aisling Weiroon

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She nodded, it was a relief talking to someone who actually understood her. Who cared about her well-being instead of just trying to find an angle. It was more than a little refreshing in this world of politics being played at breakneck speeds.

As she listened on she stayed silent but her demeanor made it clear she could relate. None of the nobles, as far as she was aware, were all too thrilled with the Revolution. Even those who might have agreed with parts of what was being attempted the threat of instability was around every corner and it was hard to argue that the sudden shift in governance hadn't weakened Vel'Anir. And of course, there was Elise trying to deal with what had happened with her father and the fallout within Virak.

Aisling really couldn't relate to that last part, she could just be here for her friend and listen.

Then, Ellie started to say something before stopping herself. Aisling inched slightly forward in her seat, ears perking up, but she wouldn't pry. Luckily, Elise didn't leave her in suspense. She kept pushing onwards until...

"What!?" Erich was still alive? But, "how? How long have you known? That is wonderful news," her face lit up, her wine glass placed on the end table lest she spill everywhere from the rush of excitement.

Placing a hand on her friend's she stared at Elise expectantly. "Where is he now? Why is he not back?" Surely she could've kept him safe, even with the chaos post-Revolution. "Of course I won't tell anyone but really Ellie you've got to tell me everything now!"

They hadn't all been together since they were children and the memories of spending time with Elise and her older brothers were all fond ones. Well, most of the time anyway. Regardless it was wonderful news, it likely had lifted her friend's spirits immensely to learn that Erich was still alive. Aisling was practically on cloud nine and it wasn't even her kin.
 
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Elise Virak

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That was, of course, where things got complicated. "He..."

Elise wanted to say a thousand things. Wanted to tell Aisling every detail, but she couldn't do that. No. It wasn't entirely her story to tell. Erich would have to do that if it ever came to it, but for now she would just tell her friend what she could.

"I found him here, after what happened with my father." That wasn't true. She had found Erich just a few months before everything had happened. "He and his...wife."

She wasn't sure if they were actually married, but the distinction hardly mattered. "I don't know everything...we didn't have much of a chance to talk. Not with everything going on."

"I sent them both to the Spring Cottage."
Another building that had been all but abandoned, one even more isolated than the Winter Palace. "He didn't...doesn't want to be involved in Politics. He never wanted to be, that was why he left."

That was the truth, or at least what Erich had told her. There was more to the story. Elise knew that, had guessed it long ago, but she couldn't tell Aisling. It would reveal too much. "So I agreed to keep them hidden."

A small touch of excitement replaced her trepidation.

"He-they're having children." Elise's expression broke into a wide, almost beaming, smile "Twins."
 
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Aisling Weiroon

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Aisling had been excited to see her friend but now she was completely captivated by the tale of Erich's sudden reappearance. It took enough twists to make her heart flutter.

Wife? Surely not an Anirian, which was fine by Aisling but she couldn't help but wonder if the woman was from Alliria. Or perhaps a well put together Obanese girl. She could see the Erich she knew matching with someone like that. Ah, or maybe something far more exotic like a woman from Dornoch or Elbion! So many questions and...

"Twins!" Aisling wrapped her arms around Elise, careful not to rock her friend's wine glass too much, "oh Ellie that is so exciting! You're going to be an aunt!" Aisling pulled away, a huge smile radiating from her own face as well.

"Which means, obviously, you and I both will be showering them with gifts." Spoiling someone else's children was a great deal of fun for everyone but the parents. Besides, Aisling had always wanted to be the cool aunt.

A brow lifted high as the questions kept coming. "So, what is Erich like now? It's been so long. And his wife? I'm sure she's lovely. We'll have to do a dinner date together. Soon!" The hidden part of it kept back up in her mind. "We can be discrete, of course. I'm sure they want their privacy but, oh, this is just so exciting."
 
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Elise Virak

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"I know." There was true joy in that.

It was a strange feeling, but there was no doubt that the idea made her happy. There was no doubt that she would love her niece and nephew despite who their mother was...what she was. It was why she'd made the bargain.

Part of why she had killed her father. So that Erich's children could both live.

Elise couldn't help the outpouring of conflicted feelings that ran tumultuously through her in that moment. It was as though everything that she'd felt when first seeing Erich suddenly flooded back into her. The joy, the anger, the disappointment, the utter mirth, and that hint of confusion and disgust.

She still did not know how to feel about it all. Still did not really understand what she was supposed to feel like. "He is..."

A frown touched her face.

"Strong." She didn't know how else to put it. "Intelligent, but so unlike my father. He is kind, caring, loving. Even after..."

After he'd seen what she'd become. Her lips thinned for a moment and she went on. "Ever after all he's seen in this world."

That wasn't a complete lie, so she told herself. "His wife is..."

Well. That was the thing wasn't it?

"She's..." Elise bit her tongue. "She is not from Vel Anir, nor from Liadaid, but lands beyond."

Sheketh, Erich had said. A world away from Vel Anir. "She's...some sort of..."

They had never much spoken about these things, but Elise knew Aisling was far more accepting than most Anirians. More accepting than herself. "Elf."

The word was practically a squeak, and she couldn't bring herself to mention the dragon.
 
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Aisling Weiroon

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"An elf?"

Aisling's face was one of confusion at first. She had been incredibly progressive within her house, much to the chagrin of her family, and throughout her travels with the navy she had discovered a truth that much of Vel Anir had tried to hide for generations. People were, regardless of race, pretty much all the same.

Realizing that her silence could be misconstrued for disapproval she chimed in again. "I think that's great," though she really had imagined Erich with an Obanese woman, "but I understand now why you're so secretive about it. Why they have to stay hidden."

Their home was not one for progress and while Aisling's views on non-humans had developed around the same time she and Elise had been seeing less of one another she simply assumed her old friend was of the same mind as she.

The fact that Erich was married to an elf, having children with an elf, had to be the only reason why Elise kept him out of the spotlight. Out of Vel Anir.

"Hopefully one day the rest of our Anirian brothers and sisters will realize that elves, orcs, and whatever else aren't much different than you and I." She picked her glass back up and pressed the edge to her lips, taking what was supposed to have been a quick sip which ended up turning into a long gulp of red wine.

Putting it back down she smiled at her friend. "The offer still stands though. I'd love to see them. And shower their children with fancy gifts." If anyone was going to be the 'cool aunt' it was absolutely going to be her.
 
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Elise Virak

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Elise smiled a tight smile.

Somehow she had known that Aisling wouldn't care, that she would accept her brother without a moments notice. It was heartening, especially because Elise herself...couldn't.

A part of her was still disgusted at the idea. Her mind turning and churning at a constant rate. She couldn't understand how her brother could have done such a thing, how the woman...how the woman was so kind and poised when she was what she was.

It ran counter to everything she'd ever been told. Taught.

It was so wrong.

But she couldn't help the feeling of excitement towards being an Aunt. Towards the fact that her brother was alive and that she might have some family left after all. Despite everything, despite what she had done. Elise was still human. Still desperate for some sort of love.

Even if she did not deserve it. "I'll send him a letter."

Though she'd no idea what his response would be. Erich was paranoid, careful, understandably so. She considered for a moment, though, and then shook her head.

"But I think..." She looked up at her friend. "I think maybe we should do something fun, first."

Elise had wanted Aisling here so they could enjoy themselves. Their world was filled with serious concerns, doubts, questions. That wasn't what this place was for. It had never been.