Title: Escova Prison Blues
Description: Aiden | the castle dungeons
Sven Winterborn - October 5, 2011 04:34 PM (GMT)
The lower and deeper they descended, the colder it got. The air, moist-filled, crawled his lungs with spiked limbs. Sven couldn't help pulling his cloak a bit tighter on his body, covering his neck. His eyebrows were almost unnoticeably frowning, though his face bore an overall pained expression.
The guards were silent. They didn't know him very well; definitely not well enough to be aware that he preferred them to talk to him rather than silently drape his surroundings as he walked. No matter. Sven hardly felt like talking now.
Once they had reached a bottom that seemed lower than the very seas themselves, they came to a long, dark corridor. It was incredible, how even the torches could not pierce the impossible frost of their surroundings. A large, heavy door, framed in metal was opened and they came to another location.
Sven absently wondered whether the design was especially labyrinthine to bemuse its prisoners. Unfortunately, the one he was visiting was unlikely to be addled by a place he probably knew by heart and could walk in his sleep.
The cell they eventually stopped before was far in the depths of the dungeon, having passed through an array of places Sven had never even seen before. The smell was enough to upset his stomach, but he ignored the stiff ball in his throat and stepped forward.
"Leave us," ordered His Grace and, bowing, the guards retreated.
Aiden Dax - October 5, 2011 04:39 PM (GMT)
He'd been unresponsive to any attempts from the guards to talk to him. Laying on the little wooden bench that served as his cot, hands folded behind his head, he'd stared up at the ceiling without expression since he'd arrived. The only times he got up were to eat, and afterward he returned right to the bench. He wasn't suicidal, and the lieutenant-- No, Captain, he reminded himself -- made sure that the food he got was decent.
If he remained down here for too long, he'd eventually have to find something other than his thoughts with which to occupy his time. Perhaps work out, or take to drawing on the walls.
Aiden's thoughts were broken by Sven's entrance.
He regarded the Duke from his position on the bench, too apathetic and numbed to consider sitting up. He should be standing, at the very least, to show respect. But hell, the cell told Aiden that he'd damn-well earned the right to be disrespectful. "Your Grace," he said. Although he'd not stood or bowed, his tone was nonetheless polite. "I have to admit, you don't fit in with the surroundings too well."
Sven Winterborn - October 5, 2011 07:30 PM (GMT)
Sven grinned and stepped forward until he was up to the bars.
"Neither do you, my friend."
He was a bit lost of what to say. The sight of Aiden in the cell alone made him incredibly sad and the fact that he couldn't do anything about it... that made him feel helpless. Helplessness wasn't exactly one of the duke's top experienced-on-a-daily-basis emotions.
Aiden Dax - October 6, 2011 03:55 AM (GMT)
The "my friend" softened Aiden's refusal to stand some, and he hoisted himself up, stretching his shoulders a little. Standing, he meandered towards the bars, threading his arms through and letting his forehead hit one of them with a dull little thunk. Flicking his fingers in dismissal, he murmured, "I was expecting it. Astra's never been the sort to stand helplessly by while something happens that she doesn't like." Not Her Majesty. Not the Queen.
Sven Winterborn - October 6, 2011 08:28 PM (GMT)
Sven smiled bitterly.
"Yes. I noticed that. Quite like a petulant child -- one with all the power a kingdom can provide." He paused, sighing. "I tried to convince her to release you; unfortunately, my long years away from the court have estranged me from the art of sabotage." If he'd actually tried harder...
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:39 AM (GMT)
Aiden shrugged, chuckling. "You can't convince her to do anything she doesn't secretly want to do, already." His smile faded. "You asked me, before -- what was she like? I've been thinking about it, formulating some sort of vocabulary, if you're still wondering." It had taken a while. Trying to explain the personality of someone you'd known and loved was like trying to describe your own hand. You knew the damn thing so well, you just never supposed it would come up as a topic of conversation -- that someone else might not know it.
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 09:46 AM (GMT)
He waited attentively for Aiden to continue.
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 02:20 PM (GMT)
Aiden considered the subject, then said, "I guess I'll start early. I was working in the stables, helping my father. She was the daughter of the lord, but she snuck in and got my attention, asking me if I wanted to have fun. I think we almost made the cook quit that day." His smile was brief, and bitter. Remembering happier times was always hard. "She was a mischievous kid, with no regard at all for station. We were best friends before she got sent away to that religious... whatever."
He shrugged. He'd never been a particularly religious person; neither had his dad. He believed in the proper deities and all that, just didn't really hold much faith in the system of belief. Few peasants did, really. After all, they were never chosen to get sent to the nice seminaries.
"When she came back, she was different. I mean, we both were. I'd been a soldier, so I was already mostly grown up. Seeing her grown up was weird." She'd been beautiful. He remembered his slack-jawed surprise upon first seeing her, how quickly he'd covered it up so nobody would notice. "She was more... shy, when she came back. Terrified of moving here, although she wouldn't admit it." He laughed, softly. "She'd always steadfastly refused to be weak. It boggled my mind. If her teeth were chattering with cold, she'd still obstinately refuse to admit she was chilled."
His smile died, and he continued. "Anyway... when we first got here, she was absolutely scared to death. We became close friends. I was her only real reminder of home, after all. It was hard for her to make friends at first."
Another shrug rolled through his shoulders. "Then... well, you were there." Looking at Sven plainly, he made a dismissive face, as if to say What can you do? "I stopped being her only friend, and pretty soon I was hardly a friend. She barely spoke to me. Hated speaking to me. Which is why I'm a little confused as to why she won't let me leave." He'd honestly thought she'd have been happy to see the back of him.
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:13 PM (GMT)
As Aiden spoke, Sven did not make any effort to interrupt, but listened carefully, his face calm and open. Once Aiden's monologue came to an end, there was a pause.
"I am aware of your feelings towards her," Sven simply declared. It wasn't an accusation; it was a mere acknowledgement between friends.
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:21 PM (GMT)
Aiden nodded. "I figured." Sven was no idiot, and Aiden's ill-planned kiss had probably been seen by someone.
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:23 PM (GMT)
He grinned. "You don't think your feelings are reciprocated?"
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:24 PM (GMT)
Aiden rolled his eyes. "Yes, I can just imagine her filling a scroll with Ms. Astraea Dax and covering it in wee little hearts."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:26 PM (GMT)
"Why are you here, then?"
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:27 PM (GMT)
Aiden's voice was flat. "Because she's a petulant child who can't understand why her pet dogs don't do exactly what she wants them to."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:31 PM (GMT)
He shrugged. "My children adore their pets."
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:32 PM (GMT)
"Astra is not one of your delightful children."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:35 PM (GMT)
That was more than true. Spoilt children liked punishing the pets who did not submit to their will.
"I... usually trust my instincts. My brother always wanted me around because I was a good judge of people. Astraea is by far the most interesting person I've met, but her reactions are often very clear."
She wouldn't give him up even when Sven threatened with cancelling the marriage. That was either lunacy or something else. "I refuse to believe she is insane," he continued.
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:37 PM (GMT)
Aiden scoffed. "She's just a selfish little girl." There was really no mistaking her reaction to Aiden's forcible kiss. She had been shocked and tried to push him away. Sven was wrong in this; Aiden knew that much.
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:40 PM (GMT)
He disliked pursuing such an unstable argument.
"I... cannot do anything to help you."
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:41 PM (GMT)
"I know. She'll have to let me out or execute me eventually," Aiden sighed. "The worst part is the boredom."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:43 PM (GMT)
He couldn't stop it. "She won't execute you."
Then, Sven frowned. "That, I will not allow."
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:44 PM (GMT)
"When you marry her, you could give me a pardon," Aiden reminded him.
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:45 PM (GMT)
He'd been leading onto this. The duke looked away, silent.
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:46 PM (GMT)
He threw his hands up, misreading the look. "You're not going to give me a pardon?"
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 03:55 PM (GMT)
"I have to be careful, Aiden." Very careful. "What would you do, once pardoned?"
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 03:59 PM (GMT)
He exploded. "Go home. I'm going home!" He calmed himself, and shut his eyes, inhaling. When he spoke again, it was in a normal tone. "I haven't seen my family in fifteen years, and they've all thought I was dead for about twelve of those. I gave up everything for this, thinking I had to sneak around, in case she got hurt. If I'd known she was handing my secrets to the fucking governor, I wouldn't have bothered."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 04:04 PM (GMT)
He ignored the outburst.
"There's a fine line between what I want -- what my heart's desire is -- and what I should do."
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 04:05 PM (GMT)
Aiden sighed, pushing his palm against his eyes. "And what should you do?"
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 04:12 PM (GMT)
"I must not interfere with any decisions... my wife has made after I am crowned. The purpose of our marriage is to strengthen Escova's leadership. If I undo her decisions, we both appear weak."
Of course, that was not everything.
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 04:13 PM (GMT)
"Of course," Aiden said, exhausted by the conversation. "She'd probably throw a shitfit, anyway." He turned to head back to his bench.
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 04:17 PM (GMT)
He almost burst into laughter. "I've had the pleasure of witnessing that."
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 04:17 PM (GMT)
He flopped back onto his bench. "Yeah, it's a barrel of laughs the first couple of years."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 04:19 PM (GMT)
Sighing, the duke unceremoniously let himself drop on the ground, his back resting against the wall at the end of Aiden's cell. "If Fenrys could see me now. Oh, how he'd laugh in my face."
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 04:20 PM (GMT)
"Now, now... he saw something in her," Aiden said, helpfully. "Probably he's giving you a wink and a thumbs up from beyond the grave."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 04:21 PM (GMT)
His face darkened and he ran a hand over it, sluggishly.
"We're broken people. Broken people don't mend each other; they make each other worse."
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 04:22 PM (GMT)
Aiden considered that, then noted, "Not a lot of still-whole people our age, out there."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 04:23 PM (GMT)
"No. That's true," he affirmed, snorting to himself.
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 04:24 PM (GMT)
"Besides... this is a solution best for the people," Aiden reminded him, flatly. "They don't like her."
Sven Winterborn - October 7, 2011 04:25 PM (GMT)
Sven frowned. "No..."
He'd have to work on that.
"I suppose I should be livid right now -- unforgiving of both you and her." Fenrys would have.
Aiden Dax - October 7, 2011 04:26 PM (GMT)
"She didn't do anything."