(1866-07-26) A Dangerous Bet
A Dangerous Bet
Summary: Things between Corvin and Esyld take a surprising turn. Also, ale is bad. Bad bad.
Date: 1866-07-26
Related: Who Knew Foxes Could Dance?
Corvin  Esyld  

City Streets - Lonnaire
In set. A quiet street leading toward Highwater Castle.
Juiliet 26th, 1866

OOC: Mildly adult/suggestive themes

It's really not a long walk home from the tavern down by the docks. In theory. In a straight and steady line it's little more than a pleasant stroll. Zig-zagging, however, takes a while longer. Esyld is managing to keep relatively straight, although from the frown of concentration settled upon her features one might assume it's not exactly coming naturally, right now. Shaking a few errant strands of dark hair out of her blue eyes, the Captain mutters something softly under her breath, the words lost on the night air. It's not cold, exactly. But there's a brisk breeze, and as such she has her slender arms wrapped protectively about her midsection. Of course, enough ale does tend to numb out such trifles anyway.

Scuffing at a stray pebble with a booted toe, the tall mercenary makes her way past darkened houses and alleyways, only the occasional lantern still shining warmth and safety down upon her path ahead. It's a testament to her confidence, at best - arrogance, at worst - that she would wander alone at this hour. No trueborn lady would, obviously. But these aren't the sort of worries a Black Fox would waste time musing over… especially when she's relying on sheer instinct to keep her feet moving in the right direction. Ahh, ale is a grand thing.

Truth be told, Lonnaire is generally a quite safe city. Oh, it has its' crimes…every city of any real size does, but generally they are the province of the very stupid or the very intoxicated, as the l'Saigner are not exactly known for an abundance of mercy. Well, of course, there's the Syndicatos, as well, but that's a different beast altogether, and not generally inclined towards random acts of violence, much less right under the Duke's nose and without his consent.

But there is at least one dangerous fellow out and about this evening, even if at the moment he has no particular mischief on his mind. Corvin Fremont actually left the Tavern before Esyld, but he made a brief stop somewhere along the way, and now he finds himself approaching from behind, tilting his head slightly curiously, given that there aren't a great many of her height and attire wandering about…much less the same evening he already saw her attired so.

So he quickens his pace…not hurried, exactly, but swift enough that he can move up alongside her, just inside arm's reach though he makes no motion to touch her, at least yet.

"Captain." He offers by way of greeting. Not even any smug to it, really!

Is she unaware of approaching footsteps, or just choosing to ignore them in favor of focusing on that invisible line she's frowning down at? Difficult to say. Not that Esyld is ever likely to be the 'frightened damsel' sort. Such a pity for would-be saboteurs, that. It's difficult to imagine any measure of unease, let alone fear, assailing those fine features.. well, for most people. Corvin is likely more used to eliciting such expressions than most.

Regardless, when he appears alongside her, she doesn't seem surprised. Mildly sardonic, if anything, though that could just be how she looks after so many ales. The turn of her head to regard him is a calm motion, only emphasised by her heavy-lidded gaze; dark lashes partially obscuring the vibrant hue of her eyes as they settle upon her newfound company. Alas, the shifting of focus results in a fractional stumble, little more than an off-balance sidestep, from which she recovers admirably… then she stops altogether, perhaps assuming that might camouflage the rare falter.

Those eyes reflect oddly as lantern-light dances across their surface, eerily reminiscent of a feline caught unawares. "Corvin." Oh, on first name terms now, are we? A slow blink follows, as if she were taking a moment to gather muddled thoughts. It doesn't help much. "What do you want..?" Maybe she'd forgotten entirely that he'd be taking the same road.. or assumed he'd be long gone. Or, most likely, it's just the instinctive reaction to finding herself faced with him unexpectedly. Her fingertips tighten, almost imperceptibly, in their grasp upon the fabric of her shirt.

"Well mostly, I had rather thought I'd return to the castle, which happens to be in this direction." Corvin replies, a touch sardonic himself, "Then I saw an acquaintance wandering in the same direction and thought I'd say hello." He doesn't comment on the state of inebriation. That's a vice that's hardly unique to her, and she's not on duty. "I'll admit I was mildly disappointed that I was called away. I'd rather thought I might ask you for a dance next." he chuckles, then shrugs slightly, "Alas, not to be this night, it appears." A hand does move out at that sidestep. Just the lightest of touches to her elbow…meant to be steadying, but he makes no comment upon it, nor does it linger overlong.

"..oh." She has the good grace to look momentarily sheepish. He wasn't following her, then. Why would he be? Psshh. But she doesn't quite muster an apology. That'd just go too hard against the grain. "Fair enough." With that matter apparently settled, the young woman presses her lips together briefly in a thin line, setting off at a sedate pace again. All the better to walk convincingly. Again, in theory. The barest touch at her elbow was noted; if only for distant appreciation of Corvin's reflexes, which are, for now anyway, superior.

The revelation of an almost dance takes her aback, quite visibly. Drink apparently eases that stubborn mask of indifference she relies on in daylight hours. She glances sidelong toward the Wraith Commander, arching a slender brow as she regards him. Mocking her, or genuine? She can never tell. "Yes, well. You're clearly quite the dancer.." It's almost comical, the way the usually stoic cavalier shakes back her hair and looks ahead of her, keeping her gaze determinedly averted, she tells herself, from this point on. "The Lady Angelique. She's a relation of the Viscountess, no..?" That is decidedly not an innocuous remark, no matter how hard she tries to affect it with her expression.

"I wouldn't go so far. I had some lessons in it when I was younger. I've put them into practice a few times since." Corvin shrugs, smirking just a bit as the latter bit issues forth, "The Lady Angelique is a cousin of the Viscountess, yes. We've been acquainted for some time." Unlike Esyld's statement, there doesn't seem to be any additional connotation attached to "acquainted." "You looked to be quite the dancer yourself, Esyld. Or at least seemed to greatly enjoy the attempt, though I would not have judged it a poor one myself."

"Music is what I was best at, when I was younger.. before I became a page, anyway." That's a rare mention of her past, uttered quietly as her mind wanders in lines about as uneven as her footsteps. "After that it was all swords and footwork. Of a different sort, I mean. And horses. And getting knocked on my arse a lot." Rousing from the vague reverie she'd lapsed into, Esyld clears her throat; still avoiding actually looking in her companion's direction. It's troubling, this awkward manner he seems to bring out in her. But now is not the time to examine it too closely.

"I'm not sure the standard of Foxes dancing would quite meet those of court. But thank you. Assuming you aren't just taking the piss." She badly wants to gauge that, but it's impossible when staring straight ahead. "Everyone needs to let their hair down, now and then. Not that I've ever seen you do it, to my recollection. Wraiths have invite-only functions, I'm guessing. That, or you're secretly just.. I don't know. Taken a vow of sobriety or chastity or something else damn ridiculous."

"Hm. Fear I never had much time available to develop any real hobbies." Corvin doesn't venture anything further as to his past, nor his training. Less out of secrecy and more out of…well, not inciting her by appearing to be trying to "one up" her tale. That's just annoying, after all. "This must be a very fascinating road we're walking along, as you seem positively transfixed by it." He notes, some humor in his voice.

"No, not taking the piss. It's not uncommon for good swordsfolk to be good dancers, I find. All that footwork comes in handy for other things from time-to-time." He smiles, seemingly a bit genuinely, but it's interrupted by a sharp, mirthful laugh, "Ha! No, I assure you we've taken neither such vow. Truth be told I was originally intending on simply relaxing this very evening, but a brief spate of duty called." He cants his head, adding, "I suppose I drink less than most, though. I never know when I may have to work unexpectedly…generally best to keep my senses sharp."

"It does odd things to my line of thought when I.. ahem." Well, that sentence got cut off abruptly! Inhaling a slow breath, the young woman just dismisses it without any explanation at all, feigning a cough none too convincingly behind the fist she brings to her lips. Up ahead, the gatehouse of Highwater has come into view, if distantly, and she sets her sights upon that now… at least for a short while.

In spite of her usually better judgement, Esyld relents to a faint smile in the wake of that sharp laugh and snatches a glance toward Corvin. He's both smiling and being… charming. In his own way. That's unsettling.

Reaffirming the fold of her arms, hands balled into fists against her slender ribs, the Captain shakes her head slowly. "..you're only human. Underneath all that swaggering bluster, anyway. Nobody expects you to be on top of everything all the time, do they? Can't they manage a few hours by themselves, for goodness' sake?" Her mouth is running away with her and she doesn't seem to care. Everything seems so simple, through a haze of alcohol. "When was the last time you actually had fun? Not just a little while off-duty. Fun. If you can tell me without naming names, please. I don't want to know in that much detail." That quiet smile twitches to a smirk.

"When you what?" Corvin's not letting her off the hook that easily! He glance stowards her, curiously, and a bit expectantly.

But then her latter line of questioning comes, and he shrugs, "Assuming we're not counting moments where I very much enjoyed my work, it's been…" He searches his memory, reaching up and giving his chin a bit of a scratch as he frowns ever-so-slightly, "A while. We do get more than a few hours more than occasionally, but of late it's been more scarce. Cleaning up the late Cardinal's messes has been quite an undertaking."

"When I look at you." replies the mercenary, calm as you like. Because she's had enough time to think of adding, "..and walk at the same time." My, but ale must be so befuddling to the senses, to have her looking so resolutely ahead. And to have brought such a rosy warmth to rise along her high cheekbones. The lanterns flanking the gatehouse can be more clearly seen now; little beacons of guidance to those in danger of becoming lost. "I would imagine so." This in response to Corvin's remark about the late Cardinal. "It's almost beyond belief, how he had everyone fooled for so long. I can't help but wonder how far those ripples have truly spread, if I'm being honest." A moment of brilliant clarity struggles through the drink-fog long enough for this to be pondered upon. "But I'm sure you and yours will get to the bottom of it. Maybe me and mine will even help. Unwittingly, I expect. But still." Good grief, is she really still sore about that? Actually, her offhand remark says perhaps not. It's just an easy dig to make at him. She falls quiet thereafter, save for the crunching of her boots on the dirt underfoot, the occasional, slightly clumsy scuff of a heel.

"Oh?" Corvin does seem amused, "I wasn't aware I was so inherently distracting." He does, however, offer an arm towards Esyld, "Don't worry, I won't bite." He assures her, before grinning ever-so-coyly, "At least, not unless asked." He couldn't resist that one, but the conversation turns to more weighty matters and he nods, "I'd wager the ripples go all across the Edge. We've done what we can, for now, though I suspect tidbits will crop up for years." He adds with a faint, genuine smile, "And you've already helped, even if just by keeping things stable here, so we can work elsewhere. Don't discount your value simply because you're not swinging the blade at every turn. A knight needs a shield as well as a sword or lance, much of the time, do they not? So too is it with our lands."

Slowly, reluctantly, she turns her gaze toward Corvin at the offer of his arm. It's accompanied by an odd look, following his quip. Offense? No, it seems not. "A man worth his salt wouldn't need asking." It's out before she can even entertain stopping it. Ah well. He started it. And his grin is answered with a rare flicker of one in kind, little more than a glimpse of white teeth in the half-dark. Oh, serious discussions (tm). Right.

Esyld nods to convey her agreement, not needing to speak it aloud, as she gently slips one hand through the crook of the Wraith's arm. There's nobody around to see it and they likely wouldn't believe it if told, so what harm? Besides, she's getting tired of the constant effort walking requires. Anyway. There's no doubt the Cardinal's influence will be further reaching than any of them will have anticipated. The best she hopes for is to keep safe what matters to her. Her home, her liege and her men. Wait. He's being nice again. With her scant weight pressed only ever so slightly against his arm for support, barely brushing his attire, she can afford to regard Corvin more fully. "It's not that I discount it, exactly.. I'm just constantly aware that yours is greater, in some eyes. Most eyes. And what can I say? I like being the one to bring the blade down. It's what I do." True, there is an underlying ferocity to her… no, let's be honest, there's a blatantly apparent ferocity when she's in his company. She feels no need to disguise it. Nor to hold back the question on the tip of her tongue. "..why is it that you're being pleasant, lately? To be honest, I find we are on more even footing when you're being a smug arse. It's easier to be angry, that way."

"If you were to think on it, Esyld, I think you might realize that outside our initial meeting those years ago, I've rarely made any particular attempt to be unpleasant to you, at least directly." Corvin replies, still looking a bit bemused, "Though certainly, smugness is an affectation that comes easily." He pauses a moment, then frowns a bit, "But you deserve a proper answer. You spoke of trust. A valuable commodity in this house, not easily won and not always easily kept. Second only to secrets in value to us, and in some ways even more valuable." He glances towards her, his expression, perhaps off-puttingly solemn, "You gave the impression you felt distrusted, and that is not the case. So I resolved to be more…truthful…in my conversations with you." Another faint grin, "And perhaps I'd rather not have you angry with me all the time."

He adds, "The Wraiths are favored, but we are also often at great risk. Much like a pitched battle, on our missions, a single mistake can mean ones' end." He adds, "Any greater portion of favor being granted to us is also, however, a statement more upon the nature of my family and the things they value than any slight upon your own ability."

"You've never gone out of your way to be anything to me, directly." mutters the woman, though she does remain otherwise quiet; listening to the given explanation and coolly regarding Corvin in profile. Until he looks, of course. Then her cerulean eyes are swiftly averted, at least momentarily. They draw ever closer to the gatehouse.. and she's not convinced this discussion is quite concluded, as yet. So she slows her pace still further, clasping her fingers gently at Corvin's forearm to have him do the same.. and then she just stops altogether, turning to face him and seeking to guide him into meeting her gaze without demanding it. The merest shadow of a frown darkens her features as she searches his.

"Let me be certain I have this correct.." Withdrawing her hand, she briefly closes her otherworldy eyes and raises her index finger, apparently either silently asking he be silent, or.. she's about to list arguments. Or both. Both is just as likely. "..you noticed something was bothering me, and tried to improve on it?" Lashes drift upward again, along with one arching brow, and she studies him, openly skeptical. "Since when do you care what bothers me? You bother me, remember? I know.. or at least I think it is not your intent. I just don't… ach." She brings that risen hand back to rake through her dark tresses, looking back toward the castle and shaking her head. "I'm never going to understand how your mind works. I'll just shut my trap and try to be more.. gracious about you being.. whatever it is you're being." A wary glance flits toward him, the next words quieter. "..and you just concentrate on not making one of those mistakes."

"You'll have to forgive me, Esyld…while I'm willing to make some concessions, I'm afraid ceasing to exist altogether is a bit extreme even for me." Corvin looks entirely amused at that, when the Black Fox Captain reminds him of her oft-expressed distaste for him, "Would you like me to give you a list of reasons as to why I feel it's a matter worth concerning myself with?" Corvin's tone is still amused, perhaps mildly challenging, but at the last bit he tilts a brow, "First you imply you'd rather I cease to exist and now you warn me not to get killed. I feel I'm getting rather conflicting messages here." He's jesting, but there's no venom in it, really. "I was actually considering a potential mistake just this very moment, I must admit."

With a weighty sigh, Esyld rubs her fingertips across her forehead, closing her eyes against whatever it is that's troubling her now. "Yes, Corvin. You do that. You make me a list. Have it on my desk by midday tomorrow, though.. because I'm not sure I can stand and wait to hear it, here and now." Is she getting a headache? Or is the odd, buzzy sensation behind her eyes just a comedown from ale and merriment? Dropping her hands out to her sides, widely emphasising her silent and dramatic gesture of 'I don't know', the dark-haired Captain opens her eyes and meets Corvin's gaze levelly, no longer bothering to avoid it. She's not afraid of him. Not exactly.

"I don't want you to cease existing, that's not.." Oh, wait. He's teasing her. Again. Damn, she's not keeping up well; she's too blurry 'round the edges. Softening her tone, for once not seeming to want to provoke him into an argument, she reconsiders her answer. "..you getting yourself killed would just mean me having extra work, in a roundabout way. No, thank you. Stay alive, do your own paperwork." That said, crisis averted, she smirks slightly and shifts her weight, turning a glance toward the looming outline of the castle.

"You're a remarkably bad liar, Esyld." Corvin notes, still looking a touch amused, "And I'm afraid you might be waiting a wihle for that list if you insist on a written one." He cants his head slightly, glancing briefly to follow Esyld's gaze to the castle, then looks back to her, a bit of a smirk crossing his face as well, "But I might be able to sum up at least a significant portion with the potential mistake I just mentioned." His own weight shifts then, a step taken, and…now he's closer. Rather well into the "invading personal space" zone. He's not touching her, though…or at least he wasn't until a hand actually moves to try to rest at her hip. Not quite indecent, but perhaps nearing the border.

"I most certainly am not." replies the young woman, automatically. She's not remarkably bad at anything, thank you very much. Or so says the indignant expression she turns upon him. Though that fades swiftly as he ventures that step closer, uncertainty as to the meaning of his words replacing the mild annoyance. "What mis-.." Oh. Oh no. Those unnatural eyes widen in increments, tracing Corvin's features in proximity as her question trails off. This close, it's a genuine concern that he might actually be able to hear the sudden thudding of her heart against her ribs; certainly it's tangible to her.

The fingers of both hands, down by her sides, flex slowly, curling inward against her palms then out again. No weapons. Not even unjustifiable irritation with him. What is she supposed to do? Doing her utmost to conceal the subtle quickening of her breathing, though one much-needed lungful of air visibly heaves her chest, the mercenary falls back on what she knows best. Challenge. Setting her jaw, she swallows hard before murmuring, little above a whisper as his hand settles at her hip, "..you wouldn't dare." It's a dangerous bet. And the tenuous force of it perhaps weakens a touch further as her gaze flits from his, to his lips, and back up again; stray wisps of dark hair left unchecked as the nightbreeze casts them against her cheek.

Ah, such conveniently unruly strands, all the better for his other hand to reach up and smooth them away from Esyld's face, and allowing his fingers to curl slightly into that dark hair. Whether he notices those subtle signs or not, he leaves unspoken, mostly because words are just likely to get in the way at this point.

A dangerous bet? Well, perhaps, but it seems as though it's very much "challenge accepted" as both hands pull her against him, and he leans in to bring his lips against hers.

And it's rapidly apparent after a moment or two that this is no timid or chaste peck, either. It's passionate…lusty…even hungry one might say.

The softest of sounds escapes Esyld as she's pulled abruptly against him; whether of surprise or half-hearted protest, it's impossible to tell. Both palms rise to lie, in instinctive motion, upon Corvin's chest as his lips descend possessively upon her own.. but she doesn't push him away. Not yet. Given a second or two more and she begins to respond, shaking off the initial.. well, it can't be shock, not really; perhaps doubt would be a better term?.. yielding and letting herself sink slightly in his hold. A sigh breathes across the Wraith's cheek as Esyld arches her slender back, pressing gently, yet invitingly against him, fingertips curling now in the fabric of his attire. To keep him close or to keep herself grounded? The sharp nip of a canine tooth upon his lower lip implies the former. Her dark hair is surprisingly silken to the touch, even in the most calloused of hands, and her lithe form is more slight than one might expect, out of her armors.

More unexpected than all this, however, is the way she kisses him in return. For all that she's melting against him, that inexplicable fire of passion is not only met.. it's matched. Easily and unrestrained.

While that response is perhaps not entirely a surprise to Corvin, the intensity of it does actually catch him a bit off-guard. Not that he has much opportunity to show it, really. After all, such a reaction does seem to demand that the fervent embrace linger a bit longer. His arm slips more fully around her waist, keeping her close against him, and for several more moments, he's quite content to enjoy the kiss. But finally, reluctantly, it is broken, though he's certainly not pulling away, and even punctuates it with a second, far more brief and almost tender caress of his lips.

It may be a touch gratifying to make note of a husky touch of breathlessness to Corvin's voice when he speaks. "Well…" His smiles is but a glimmer, but no less sincere for it, "I would judge that more than worth the wait."

Brought up onto tiptoe within the circle of Corvin's arm, Esyld glides her palms upward, skimming over his chest and coming to rest either side of his throat. Soothing the sting left by that tiny, un-asked-for bite with a gentle flick of the tip of her tongue across his lip, she doesn't seek to hold him when he draws back; instead lowering gently back down on her heels and regarding him, up close and similarly breathless. She nudges fleetingly at his nose with her own, before enough distance is granted just to stand in quiet regard of one another. The spell of tranquility is a fragile one, though. While she lowers her faintly trembling hands once more to a calm lay upon his shoulders, she does indeed notice the husky timbre of his voice. And, belatedly, the actual words. "..been planning it for a while had you? Arrogant ass." The reply is typical Esyld.. but less acidic than has been seen in the past. A tremulous smile tugs at one corner of her lips when she dares to look up into his eyes with a few murmured words further, echoing a sentiment from a previous discussion. "..I'll probably still hate you in the morning.."

"There's a rather large gulf between actual planning and hopeful musing." Corvin replies, smiling once more, "And I'd say in this case it veered more towards the latter. At least until fairly recently." He takes in a deep breath, letting it out slowly, "Perhaps." He replies to her declaration of future animosity, his lips quirking in a half-smile. "But in that case, I'll try to leave you with a pleasant farewell, at the very least." He notes after a moment, "And then, later, when we're both more clear-headed, perhaps we can discuss a proper schedule and circumstances for when we pretend we dislike each other and when we acknowledge that we don't, even if it's only ever between the two of us."

"Corvin.." Her voice is soft but laced with wry amusement. "..I've been 'disliking' you for a decade. You'll forgive me if that's going to be a hard habit to break." As she speaks, her gaze lowers to her hands, following their gradual exploration downward over the planes of his chest. "..and I'll forgive you for your musings." It seems as though the reality of what just happened has yet to actually strike Esyld. But it's dawning, gradually. Looking more sharply upward again to meet his gaze, her blue eyes widen a touch. The thoughts are almost written within the cerulean depths. She's given him the upper hand. Not acceptable! But what can she do about it? He kissed her and.. she wanted him to. And he knows it, now.

Withdrawing her hands slowly, the Captain visibly begins to rein her emotions in; that infuriatingly impeneetrable mask returning, after such a brief, bittersweet moment of truth. "I shouldn't have.. I mean.." There it is again, that flit of focus from eyes to lips and back again. Closing her eyes tight, she covers her face for a moment with both palms, her voice muffled by the press of hands. "..I should go." Maybe she just doesn't trust herself to look at him again.. not when he's looking at her that way. Regardless, she gently frees herself, stepping away from the inviting warmth of his body and beginning to stride toward a side-street.

"I didn't tell you to stop entirely. Where's the fun in that?" Corvin notes with a bit of laughter in his voice, though as she extricates herself from the embrace, he cants his head, "You should have. And did, and I'm thankful for it." Corvin doesn't impede her "escape," though as she starts to turn away, he does catch her hand, and lift it to kiss the back of it, before releasing it, "Good evening, Esyld. Until later." He inclines his head, and with another glimmer of a smile, turns away to head back towards the Castle. He manages to keep any smug smiles off his face…for a while, anyway.

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