Umbra 15, 288: Games with Tigers

Games with Tigers
Summary: Roslin seeks out the new Jaddan Ambassador. While tigers and chess are involved, so is the Count Haravean.
OOC Date: 19/October/2013
Related: None
Roslin Naazil Aldren 
Game Room, Darfield Castle
As you step into the game room, you are greeted by a pair of card tables arranged in the area that previously was the waiting room to the castle infirmary. The tables rest on soft carpeting of a dark hunter green. Lining the walls about two thirds of the way from the bottom is dark wood paneling, beneath a green and gold chair rail. Above the chair rail, the ceiling and the rest of the walls are painted a rich cream color.

As you pass the card tables, which have been partially screened off to cut down on ambient sound, you note that the fireplace and dumbwaiter that graced the infirmary proper remain to fulfill their necessary functions. The former has clustered before it comfortable chairs, upholstered in green with gold accents. Also in the room are a billiards table, a dartboard, and a chess table with chairs flanking the left and right. A sideboard provides snacks and drinks to those who come here to relax and enjoy themselves.

Umbra 15, 288

Word has reached royal ears - the new ambassador from Jadda has arrived at Darfield Castle. Having arrived just last night, much of the palace is murmering over the man, and what it may mean for the war against the Laniveer. After all, Mobrin and Jadda share nothing if not a common enemy, these days. So perhaps it is of no surprise that the Princess Roslin Kilgour has dedicated her morning to seeking the man out. Wearing a brown dress of warm velvet against the cold, the royal redhead looks every bit the part. The hem of the dress, as well as the bodice and underdress, are a burnt ochre color, embroidered with small beads of pearl and gold. The dress has long sleeves that end cuffed delicately around her slender wrists, and the ensemble is accented by a gold eight-pointed star of the Light around her neck as well as a gold tiarra set among her crown of braids. She looks every part the Princess that she is, even if she is a bit small and young.
The woman moves into the game room with an unassuming yet perfectly poised air, flanked by a maid and a guard in Kilgour colors. The guard waits by the door as the woman moves into the room, heralding the sound of chairs sliding across the floor as male courtiers rise in order to bow to the girl, and women nod themselves respectfully from their seats. Then everyone seems content to go about their business.

After getting settled and resting for the night the Jadda Prince woke up that morning and sought out the game room. He sits at a chess table playing and winning against a rather surprised looking nobleman. “Checkmate.” The dark haired man says in a rich accent just as the Princess walks in. He rises from his seat and bows politely to her his blue eyes watching her curiously. Once the noble retakes his seat the man sees he has lost and sighs. Naazil chuckles at him and smiles. “You played well my lord, better than my own brother in fact.” This seems to amuse the man and he inclines his head before moving to another table to play cards. The Ambassador sits back down and looks around for another opponet to play against him at chess. No one seems willing though after all four of them have already lost to the man and Naazil’s pale blue eyes finally drift back over to the Princess curiously.

It is not hard to recognize the man that she seeks. The Prince from Jadda stands out as, really, only a prince from Jadda could. When her steps, slow and thoughtful as they are, finally bring Roslin close enough to the man to speak, she catches his eye and offers a warm smile. “Your highness,” she says, speaking softly yet clearly, lifting her hand in a gesture of repspect as is expected when one Royal, in her country, greets another. In doing so, she lowers her head in a respectful nod - after all, she is but a young woman, even if by title they are on equal footing. “I do beg that you forgive my intrusion, your highness, but I was made aware of your arrival yesterday evening, and I very much wished to welcome you to Darfield and Mobrin. I am Roslin, Princess of Mobrin and Laniveer.” No doubt the Ambassador has heard that the Kilgour family has claimed the right to the Laniveer throne as well as their own.

Pale blue eyes follow the young woman as she walks over to where Naazil sits. He rises to his feet once again smiling warmly at the young lady and returning the gesture of lifting his hand in greeting. “There is nothing to forgive Your Highness as you can see I am currently unoccupied. I am Prince Naazil Kassem of Jadda and it is a pleasure to meet you.” He studies her a moment. “I came to Mobrin hoping to forge an alliance between our peoples and hopefully we can succeed in this together. My father seems to think that an alliance with Mobrin would be good for our people and I find myself agreeing with him.”  He smiles again. “Still I do not wish to bore you with such talk if it is not of interest to you. Do you play chess Your Highness and would you be willing to honor me with a game?”

Roslin maintains her warm smile, speaking with a comfortable formality. “Not at all,” she says, when he mentions that he might bore her. “These are … lively times for both of our countries. To meditate on the fate of our people, particularly in our joint conflict, should be in everyone’s interest. After all, the people of Mobrin are just as much my people as the people of Jadda are yours. Surely we both want what is best for them.” Without missing much time, she bows her head to his request, moving to sit. “I confess I do not play very well - and I am sure I have even less hope of victory against a man so reputed for his skill as a strategist and commander. But if it would please your highness, I shall try my very best to provide a game that is not entirely dull for you.” Once seated, the woman maintains her perfect posture - her back is straight, never really touching the chair, her shoulders back, and her hands clasped lightly across her lap. “At the very least, it should give us some time to speak and I have been quite eager to do so ever since I became aware of your arrival here.”

“Indeed we do. Your are very wise Your Highness. Your kingdom is surely blessed by both your beauty and your wisdom.” Naazil retakes his seat and sets the board up for them. “You cannot possibly be a worse chess player than my brother….he is quite skilled at many things but there is a reason why I advise him on matters of tactics and strategy. I am sure this game will be most enlightening.” He plays for the black pieces allowing her to play white and go first. “You wished to speak with me then? What about? I can only wonder what I could have done to attract your attention so quickly.” He eyes her with curiously as he waits for her to make her move.

Roslin reaches forward to move her first piece, not without a moment’s condiersation. Easily and swiftly, one the small man has been urged closer to the field of battle, she retracts her hand to settle back into her lap, allowing her gaze to move to the man across from her. Has the cold touched her, or has his praise of her beauty and wisdom caused a slight pinkness to her cheeks? It is difficult to say. “You are far too kind, your highness,” she says, graciously, lowering her head for a moment in a respectful gesture. Then? Her eyes rise to his again. “We may be a great city here, your highness, but I have not had the opportunity much to speak to others from your homeland. I have studied it, of course, and know the histories, but much beyond that - the things that make it interesting, the sights and smells and ways people live - that I know so little about. The most I know is of the Kundari desert, between your land and mine. I have an instructor from there who has been helping me with the language. I believe you can learn a great deal from a culture simply by learning its language, and learning what items or phrases they have many ways of saying, and which they have few or none. It tells you …. mmm … what their culture values more, and what they find most important to speak of.”

Moving his first peice Naazil then settles back into his chair and smiles warmly at the Mobrin Princess. "I have studied the culture of your people as well Your Highness and I find myself agreeing with your statement on languages. They can tell you much about a culture and often the general mindset of the people as well. A people that values strength and warfare will have a diferent tone to thier language than a culture focused wealth and trade for example." He watches her a moment before adding. "If you wish to learn more about my homeland I would be happy to answer any questions you might have. I am very proud of my homeland but I find Mobrin to be a enchanting land as well. Very different to Jadda but no less interesting and remarkable."

Roslin lifts her hand and after a few seconds, moves another peice. "I think I should take up all your time, peppering you with questions then." The Princess says with a soft, light chuckle. "Though before I do, I should like to ask you one thing - if you are, in fact, enjoying your time here in my country. I should be very curious to know what things about Mobrin were surprising or interesting to a foreigner such as yourself - particularly one who was educated on my homeland before arriving here. What did the books not say?" She sits back a little, seemingly comfortable meeting the man's gaze. A rather remarkable amount of confidence for one so young.

Naazil moves his next peice and considers for a moment. "The books where mostly about the history, culture, and customs of your people I did not have the time to study the land itself or what to expect from it. The weather is much cooler than Jadda and surpised me a bit. I always wondered why the people of Mobrin wore so much clothing…now I know." He chuckles a bit. "Still I think Shiari likes the cooler weather better than the heat of the jungles. Do you like cats Your Highness? If so I will introduce the two of you at some point if you like?"

The game room door opens and in walks the Count. He is dressed quite nicely and has recently shaven as is plain. He seems lost though as he frowns when he looks about. He shrugs and approaches the princess and the foreigner. Deep bows are given to each and he says, "Princess. Sir" to each in kind. "No tiger?" He asks japishly. "Well, the princess here can be just as vicious." He flashes a playful grin to Roslin and finds a seat to observe their game. And their conversation of course…

Roslin sits across the chessboard from Prince Naazil, wearing a brown dress of warm velvet against the cold, the royal redhead looks every bit the part. The hem of the dress, as well as the bodice and underdress, are a burnt ochre color, embroidered with small beads of pearl and gold. The dress has long sleeves that end cuffed delicately around her slender wrists, and the ensemble is accented by a gold eight-pointed star of the Light around her neck as well as a gold tiarra set among her crown of braids. The Prince across is dressed in the Mobrin styles, though his appearance likely is enough to indicate that he is not local.
"Cats?" She asks, as she makes her own peice move. A wave of her delicate hand has a servant nodding, turning and bringing back two cups and a pitcher of warm cider, pouring some for each of the players. "I have never minded them, I darsay. Mother and father have a large wolfhound called Bird - such animals are what I have known. Is this cat from your home? If so, I would be exceedingly eager to make her noble aquaitence." She smiles warmly at that, and seems about to say more, but Aldren appears. Roslin turns her head, her posture remaining taut and proud. "My Lord," she says, by way of greeting. "I take it you have already made the aquaitence of Prince Naazil?" Another cup is brought for the Count.

Naazil chuckles at the question from the Count. "She is getting her morning excercise she should be along shortly…" Turning back to the board he moves his next peice and looks to the Princess with a amused glint in his eyes. "It seems speaking of her has summoned her…" Coming up behind Roslin just now is a Jadda servant and a large tiger who brushes by the royal and goes to sit at Naazil's feet. The Jadda prince pets her head and nods to the servant who bows and takes his leave. "Your Highness Princess Roslin this is Shiari my proud companion and one of my closest friends." The tiger eyes Roslin and chuffs in greeting before laying down at the princes feet.

Aldren waves the cider away and acting as if it were his own servant says, "I will have wine." He nods thanks to Roslin as if she were the one fetching it. Now the tiger makes itself known and the Count frowns. "So, they allowed the beast in the castle?" He seems irritated and adds, "I hope that is wise." He eyes the beast up and down and looks to the princess for her reaction.

A lucky thing happens. Before Roslin sees the beast, she has sipped her cider and set it down. That is likely the luckiest thing to happen today. For as the tiger brushes past the Princess' girth of dress and Roslin's green eyes flit downward, the woman gasps audiably, and almost ends up on the floor beside her chair - on the other side of the beast of course. It is only the archer reflexes of Aldren that saves her from toppling in a most un-Princessly manner. It takes a moment for Roslin's composure to return, and even when it does the fear and surprise can be seen in her face and her quick breaths. She is ready to fight or flee, if need be. But slowly, seeing that the animal has not lunged at her, she settles into her chair. When Shiari lifts her head, a nervous laugh escaps the girl and she backs into her seat a bit more. But slowly, slowly, she relaxes a little. Her contenence is that of a young woman trapped between fear and excitement - flushed cheeks, a nervous laugh and a nervous smile. "If his highness has vouched for her, I do not think it terribly dangerous, My Lord," Roslin says in a trembling voice, though her eyes are locked on the tiger. "She is bigger than Bird, perhaps, but Bird roams this place as free as any of us. Though I daresay they ought never meet." A bit more relaxation takes hold, and Roslin tilts her head to reguard the tiger. "Gods above, such color…"

Naazil gives the Count a hard look with those pale blue eyes that are suddenly cold. "She is the best bodygaurd a man could wish for. The only time she has ever attacked is when my life has been at risk….she will not attack unless I command it." He turns back to the game and pets the tigers head once more straching behind her ears and cuasing the large cat to make a purring noise. Roslin's reaction gets a worried look and Naazil looks from the princess to the tiger as if he is worried. Focusing on the princess he tries to sooth her. "Do not fear Shiari, Your Highness. She has been with me for ten years now and nothing but good has come of it. She is one of many types of large cats from my homeland."

After the Count has settled Roslin and she seems relaxed the nearby servant stands with his wine some feet away. She is trembling and seems in no hurry to approach. The Count frowns and crosses the room to retrieve his much needed drink. "Just bring a bottle." He says to her as he returns to his seat sipping along the way. "I'm sure if he has vouched it is fine." He says unconvincingly as he looks the creature up and down again. the princes cold look is seen but Aldren does not return it or elaborate. He just shrugs. "I would take a dog any day. More loyalty. Cats are too… selfish it would seem."

"And yet the cats of Jadda appear to be the size of dogs," Roslin suggests, pausing to thank the Count for his saving hand. "Perhaps their temperments are also similar." Roslin is settled in her seat now, leaning forward just so in order to look over the cat. "You have many cats of this size? They are bigger than near any dog I have ever seen, then. How very strange…" She holds out a hand, as though she were to let Shiari sniff her as a dog might. But then retracts it, leaning back with another nervous laugh. "Are they all so colored, your highness? And so…very large? Surely, at least, this one is full-grown." The chess game seems entirely forgotten as Roslin ooh's and ahh's over the animal.

"Yes there are many large cats some larger than Shiari some smaller. Their colors vary. We have soild black pathers and black and gold spotted leopards, several types of lions and the orange and black striped tigers like Shiari." Naazil explains and smiles watching as the Princess reaches her hand out. The large tiger eyes the hand and moves forward just as Roslin pulls her hand back. Shiari takes another step forward and sniffs Roslin setting down at her feet and tilting her head to the side in consideration and then chuffing softly. Naazil watches the cat carefully and then grins at the Princess. "I think she likes you Your Highness. If you wish you can stratch her behind the ears, she enjoys that." The tiger leans her head forward slightly offering her ears up for a pet to confirm what Naazil has said.

The count listens along with feigned interest and continues sip sip sipping. "I doubt that." He says in response to the princesses assesment of possible shared qualities. When the animal gets up and nears her he seems on edge and sets his wine down. Looking on intently as the cat takes in her scent and offers his ears up for a scratch. Aldren seems uneasy now and is biting his lower lip.

"Truly? So many colors as that? I should like to see such things in my life," Roslin says, lifting her eyes from the tiger for just a moment. That proved to be an inopportune time, for that is just when the beast lumbers toward her. The Kilgour royal, already small, seems to endeavor to make herself even smaller in her chair as the beast comes to her. But the Prince informs her that it is safe so slowly, gently, Roslin reaches a delicate hand out to place it on the animal's head just behind his ears. She remains there, poised as if for an attack for a moment, before she finally begins to stroke it gently, just from the ears to the back of the skull and then back again. A breath escapes her that she may not have even known she was holding. After a few seconds, she looks over her shoulder to Aldren with a grin of awe and wonder; the sort that if it had been given a few hundred years later would amost certainly be followed with the phrase, 'Get the camera.' "She seems quite like a dog in many respects," Roslin notes, continuing to pet and relaxing with each stroke. "I find it terribly hard to believe these run wild in your home. Where do they live? What do they eat?"

Naazil smiles at the young lady as she pets Shiari's ears. "They live in the jungles of my home and they eat other smaller animals. Some of them, the lions hunt in packs but tigers are more solitary. They are not too many now though especially with the hunters that seek them for thier pelts. It quite sad but the hunters are slowly killing them all off. Shiari's mother was killed by a hunter and she was brought to me as a cub." Shiari seems to enjoy the petting and tilts her head further tot he side purring slightly. Naazil grins. "Once you get past her size she isn't that different from a house cat or at times a large dog. My father has hunting dogs and she gets along with them well enough. She should not cuase any problems."

Roslin's grin is returned with a frown. "Be careful." Aldren says pointedly to her. He looks at the huge cat with a poisinous look and shakes his head. "How long do they live?" He asks Naazil as he slowly moves his gaze to the prince.

"How very sad," Roslin says, when the Prince speaks of the killing of the tigers. "They do seem friendly enough. This one is … oh." The tiger stepped a bit closer for more petting, and Roslin became stiff a moment. But then, there is more petting, and it seems to quiet both the creature and the girl. "I shall be most cautious, My Lord. I do give you my word. But there seems to be little to fear - perhaps you might try to pet her?" Roslin suggests lightly, before flitting her eyes back up to the Prince. She is still flushed from the excitement, but is much calmer now. "Perhaps there is nothing to fear from her, your highness, but I should still recommend that she not come too near Bird - or your diplomacy work, I think." She laughs a little. "I think in such a meeting your cat would be quite too intimidating for proper negotiations." It's a joke, told lightly and with an airy tone.

Naazil laughes softly. He then whistles lightly cuasing Shiari to turn and move back to lay at his feet. She glances to Roslin but goes about cleaning her paws rather than seek more pets. "I will keep her away from Bird and negotiations then. She has been useful in battles before but diplomacy tends to require a different approach." He smiles warmly and glances to the Count his expression far more cautious now. "If you wish to pet her just ask Your Excellancy. She will not bite you or the princess she is very well trained." With that he turns back to Roslin and smiles warmly once again.

The Count listens to the two of them as they say he should try petting the animal and a look of confusion takes hold. "I think not." Is all he says. He picks his cup back up and sips, when he is done he looks to the prince and says, "She rides into battle with you?"

Roslin lowers her hand after the tiger moves away, brushing some orange and white hairs from her skirt. Even that seems to fascinate her for a few moments. "Indeed, your highness, it does. It is particularly dependent on what is being negotiated, whether or not a tiger might be appropriate." She lifts her eyes then to regard the man and finds his warm smile on her. It causes the young woman to pinken again in the cheeks, glancing down and away and turning to Aldren's question as a distraction. "Does she? I would be particularly concerned for her safety in such a scene. Is it common in Jadda for soldiers and commanders to have such beasts at their side?"

"She does and she is quite a fierce fighter. Though she is more for protection and company than war. Sometimes she will accompany me when I fight and sometimes not. She is in her middle years now and half her life is half over so I tend to be rather protective of when she gets to fight with me. A tigers life expectancy is roughly twenty years when not in the wild. She has been me for ten so far." Naazil pats Shiari's head with a fond smile and rises to his feet with a brief look around the room. He inclines his head. "If you will excuse me Your Highness there are some things I should see to. I hope we can speak again later. Good day to you and you as well Your Excellency." He heads for the door and turns speaking in Jadda and then Shiari gets up to follow him out.

Aldren listens to his account of the tigers actions and nods. When he stands to leave so does the Count. Offering him an abbreviated bow -as is proper- he says, "Good day to you, your excellancy." The words are short and brief. When he has gone he says to the princess, "I believe he saved you a proper beating on the board there." He motions to the chess pieces and grins down to the girl.

Roslin rises as the man goes to leave, bobbing herself in a respectful nod to the other prince. "I shall look forward to it, your highness. Perhaps we may complete our match, next time." She smiles warmly to the man as he goes, and lowers herself slowly down, watching the man until he is gone. Then, belatedly, she turns back to Aldren. "Hmm? Perhaps so…" She looks down at the board with a little frown. "But then, his reptuattion as a soldier and a military commander are known even to us here. But since he is gone … show me how you would have defended against his play, if you would be so good."

Aldren frowns as the princess watches him leave and even more so when she speaks of his accomplishments. "I do not think he is to be trusted either way. Any man who keeps a cat is…" He does not finish his sentence but instead sits down looking at the board. He moves the princes bishop out and places Roslin in check. A good move except that in his haste he has left a rook vulnerable. Though while she is in check there is little she can do - for the moment.

"The man comes to represent the interests of his own home. Of course, he is not to be trusted any further than that," Roslin agrees, moving her peice out of check. "But the man has put his talents to work killing Stewart's men - that in and of itself is commendable. A full military alliance with them does not hurt either of our interests." She sits back to look over at Aldren. "If Tyrel believes that battle strategy is innappropriate for me, perhaps he shall have a fairer view of diplomacy. Why is it you do not like cats, My Lord?"

The Count nods as she agrees with him and moves her piece. He moves his rook to a safer place now and says, "Tell that to citizens in Weston. There is bad blood there. And many pirates that raid my shores are of Jaddan descent." He shrugs though and says, "It will give the Lanny's pause though." He looks at her now and adds, "They are disloyal and selfish creatures. No loyalties. And they see need to shit in your house." The disgust in his voice is plain but if he is wholly referring to the animals is not.

Roslin laughs lightly, softly. "Gods be good, Aldren - they are cats. Mere creatures that do as creatures will. I think you give them too much credit," She moves her peice again, negating the moves that his rook can now make. "As for pirates, I am sure if we went down into the cells of the dungeons we would find men of every decent. Although it must be said that the Jaddans have much less industry and opportunity than other country. Perhaps it comes from worshiping your King as a God, and ignoring the true ones. Still-" She sips her cider, which is by now cold. "More immediately, one should consider what you say - the Lanniveer. And how they will frown when they find they are now facing the Hill tribes, the Jaddans, us, and ships from the Aberdeens and the Moniwids."

"Cats are treacherous, And so are the Jots." He says poisinously. "and yes, they are heathens and barbaric in nature. Truly godless and ignorant." His disgust is quite plain now and he moves his queen out to a hasty posistion where she can be took. He curses under his breath allmost immediately after his hand leaves the piece.

Roslin moves to take advantage of his mistake. "Checkmate," she says, smiling sweetly. "All that may be the case, my lord. And yet his highness seemed as civilized as you or I. Moreso than some who were born and raised here, or even in Laniveer." She glances to the door again, dreamily for a moment before moving to rise. "I should dress for this evening, I will see you there yes?"

The princesses words and her checkmate do little to improve his opinion on the subject. He says, "Yes you will. I will drag my sisters as well if possible. You will love Rorey as I have said. Hopefully she will be up to coming." He stands and bows deeply, much more deeply than he did for the prince and says. "That is two for you now. Next time it shall be darts."

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