Unexpected News

The region of Tian Xia (the Eastern empire).
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Ivone
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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Ivone » Tue Jul 26, 2016 9:18 pm

Li-sung was pontificating on the finer points of marital bliss when the women returned.

Ivone's gaze naturally sought Tius out. He was still here, not a figment of her imagination. He looked tired, but content. He wore a smile that made her heart pittypat and her stimach flip-flop. She couldnt held bit smile to see him thus.

"Mei-peng and I were thinkingvof looking at what else is on the wagons. Shall we?"

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Vicentius » Wed Jul 27, 2016 9:20 am

If ever there was a skill that the nobility had in spades, it was the ability to keep a conversation going. In some cases, the conversation didn't even need to be about anything, they could just talk and the rest would take care of itself. Tius wasn't a master by any means, but Li-Sung liked to talk, and it took little encouragement to draw more out of him. He had already worked his way through plans for a renovation, an argument with his son over fence foundations, problems with their irrigation systems, and a conversation he'd had with a man in town before working his way back to the concept of marriage. Tius, for his part, had been gently needling him about it when the women returned, and of course, he did not inform Li-Sung when he spotted them. Naturally, Mei-Peng then got to hear his latest meandering on the subject of husbanding, and the ensuing awkward silence and knowing looks were more than worth the effort.

Leaving them to exchange words, however brief, he returned his attention to Ivone fully, and smiled, noting the comfortable way she held herself. She was in good hands here, he knew that, but it did not hurt to have assurances of that either. He also had to remind himself that no matter how much he loved her, she was capable of handling things herself too. She would make an amazing mother, and he would have moved heaven and earth to make that happen for her. He smiled a little wider at her suggestion, standing easily and crossing to take her hand.

"I suppose we should," he said, "they have waited long enough."

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Ivone » Sat Jul 30, 2016 2:44 pm

There it was again, that moment of wonder and flush of desire and hope. How was this even possible? What horrible thing was going to happen to ruin it?

Ivone squeezed Tius' hand and looked away. The connection on her part was too real, too deep, and it would overwhelm her if she maintained eye contact. She wore her genial, small smile.

"Yes, I think so."

As a group they made their way to the main courtyard, pausing only to pull on coats. Here, the temperatures were warmer than they'd been on the plains, but the air still held a hint of frost.

Inside the wagon were two special gifts. The first, seedlings, which Ivone had made sure to tend during the trip. The second, the better prize: a flat of Eyropean Changer's Tears; the only ones in Tian Xia. Many negotiations had been required to allow them into Tian Xia. Sensibly, transplanting non-native species, required special care and cultivation to ensure the non-native species did not overtake native ones. But, they'd managed it and now Li-Sung and Mei-Peng would be the only Gardens to house them, at least for now.

Ivone looked up at Tius, watching his face. This was his triumph and gift for his friends. Their reaction would be his initial reward. Obviously, scents made from the flowers, combined with existing exotic fragrances, and the resulting sales demand should make things lucrative for all of them. Ivone couldn't wait to get started.

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Vicentius » Sun Jul 31, 2016 7:43 pm

Pulling on his coat, he paused a moment to drape his scarf protectively around Ivone, using the excuse to pull her into a brief kiss. Whatever was going through her mind, she was suddenly shy and looked away, smiling the way she did when she was covering herself. He wasn't sure whether to be proud or worried that he had that effect on her, but it was still a lovely gesture, and he took her hand gently as they lead the way out to the carts. The air was cooling now, and he knew they would be glad of the extra layers before too long.

Most of the gifts ranged in value, from articles of Marnian and Eyropan clothing, very different in make and feel than would be found in Tian Xia, to useful devices for the gardens and even pieces of art and jewellery, but the biggest two had rightly been kept for last. All gifts were appreciated, but Li-Sung and Mei-Peng did not operate the gardens strictly for a living; it was a labour of love. For all that Li-Sung complained about his back when seeing to the beds and tending the plants, he was always the first out and the last in, taking immense pride in all of it, and Mei-Peng was even more passionate, if that were possible, seeking new combinations of onditions to get the most out of their blooms. He really did hope that these went down well.

When the boxes were uwrapped, and the contents displayed to them, the hushed silence that fell over the pair was almost reward enough. Slowly, and reverently, both approached, each holding back a certain eagerness that was evident in the way they held themselves. The seedlings were inspected first, of course, and with an experienced eye. The sounds were soft, and careful, but appreciative all the same, and Tius squeezed Ivone's hand slightly, a gesture of thanks for her choices. The sounds changed to more awestruck when they approached the Changers' Tears, the flowers changing just as subtly to reflect their closeness.

"These are..."

"I never thought..."

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Ivone » Mon Aug 01, 2016 12:03 am

Ivone returned the kiss, still dazzled, and felt another wave of warmth and love rush through her as Tius fussed with the scarf.

"I love you," she whispered.

Outside, they held hands and Tius squeezed hers as Li-Sung and Mei-Peng fell silent. The expression on his face was priceless and one she would recall often after Tius returned to Marn. Ivone stifled the panic and sudden sense of loss, lest the flowers pick up on her mood. Instead, she focused on the couple's awe and her sense of joy returned.

"Aren't they fantastic?"

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Vicentius » Tue Aug 02, 2016 9:23 am

"They are," Mei-Peng said, not quite reaching for the flower as it subtly changed again, "so very much."

"How were you able to transport them?"

"With great difficulty and considerable care," Tius said.

That was not the half of it, but it would do for now. In fact, transporting them had not been as difficult as he had feared it would be, as the same technology that allowed them to grow the plants outside their natural habitat was easily converted to the purpose of transporting seedlings. The difficulty lay in the distance and obstacles to be crossed, but the team had managed it admirably. He felt a certain change in Ivone's mood beside him, but did not divert his attention, merely holding her closer while the inspections continued.

"Still," Li-Sung said, not quite satisfied with that explanation, "I have only seen Tian Xian blooms once, and those do not move at all..."

"My friend," he said, "if you have to ask, then it is not a gift. These are yours now; give them a home."

They both turned their attention back to the plants, the conversation turning practical now as they discussed where to plant them. Tius leaned in and kissed Ivone again, softly, and met her gaze.

"I love you too," he said.

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Ivone » Sun Aug 14, 2016 3:27 am

Xi-Ling heard Vi-cen's voice and felt her heart leap. Then, she paused on the top step and surveyed the scene. Beside Vi-cen was a petite, blonde woman. She watched Vi-cen, pull the woman close. Watched him draw the woman's gaze to his. Watched him press a kiss to the woman's lips. Watched his mouth form words in the shape of his native tongue - ones she'd made considerable effort to learn.

Xi-Ling moved down the steps and threw her arms around Vi-cen's waist from behind.

"Vi-Cen! I thought you'd never return!"
"Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting."


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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Vicentius » Mon Aug 15, 2016 10:29 pm

Somehow, even now, Tius knew the sound of her steps; that hesitance and then the rush as she moved in. He shouldn't have been surprised when she decided to inject herself into their moment, but he was, and he chuckled, turning to introduce Ivone. Time had been more than kind to Xi-Ling, and she was prettier than ever, with that spark practically setting her ablaze from within. It had always been difficult to say no to her, he remembered, but he'd always believed that it was because he said no that she had remained interested.

"And I thought you would be hiding forever, Xi-ling," he said, smiling. "It warms my heart to see you again."

Extricating himself as politely as he could from her embrace, he met her gaze and kept his arm around Ivone.

"Xi-Ling, this is my wife, Ivone," he said. "Ivone, this is Xi-Ling, the mastermind behind these beautiful gardens, and the woman who hunted me relentlessly for the entire time I was here."

He was smiling when he said it, and he gestured to a few boxes away on their own.

"We came bearing gifts," he said.

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Ivone » Mon Aug 22, 2016 3:06 am

Tius' hand tightened on hers as arms came around his waist. Ivone turned partially to see the woman attached to the voice. She was stunning and though slim, as different in looks from Ivone as a person could be. Both women were fair skinned, but Xi-Ling's skin seemed like perfect ivory where Ivone's was porcelain. Xi-Ling's eyes were dark and her hair a glossy black, tamed into a thick braid that lay across her shoulder. Ivone's fingers itched to touch the woman's hair, which would be a very rude thing to do. Xi-ling was surprisingly taller than her mother by a few inches and by virtue, taller than Ivone. Had he chosen Xi-Ling, Tius would not have had to stoop so much, not that he seemed to mind.

Ivone smiled, observant, as Tius disentangled himself from the woman, and introduced her to his wife. If Ivone had cause to feel insecure, for even a moment, that word and the way he said it washed it all away.

Xi-Ling kept her gaze on Tius' face for a few moments, as if to see if he meant what he said. Some marriages were arranged and had no love. Some had love. Xi-Ling knew in her heart Vi-cen would never have mouthed those words if he hadn't meant it. But, that didn't make it any easier to accept. She turned her gaze to look at this little, porcelain, blonde-haired, blue-violet eyed minx that stole her Vi-cen's heart.

"Xi-Ling!" Both parent's voices were chiding that their headstrong daughter would so readily embrace a man obviously with another woman. That girl... but, as always, Vi-cen neatly side stepped the girls fiery impetuousness.

Ivone suddenly felt warmth for the woman, even under the assessing gaze turned her way. She knew how she would feel if she were in Xi-Ling's shoes.

"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Xi-Ling. I look forward to seeing the extent of your work. Vi-cen says they are a marvel to behold and I do not doubt that. I hope you will like the seedlings as much as your parents seem to do. And, I hope we can become good friends."

How could one begrudge kind words? One couldn't, not without looking bad. Time would tell, of course.
"Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting."


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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Vicentius » Thu Aug 25, 2016 9:03 am

A lot was made of youthful infatuation, Tius felt, and while it could be troubling if it continued on into adulthood, people were usually sensible about these sorts of things. Xi-Ling, for all her words, was no exception, and Tius still had to smile at the way she so readily used him to rile up her parents. She was someone not easily dissuaded, which he admired, and a force to be reckoned with in trading, but that same tenacity lended itself to possessiveness too. He disliked having to throw the word wife around at the best of times, because it sounded that little bit demeaning towards a woman who was so much more, but it was necessary to establish boundaries. That said, he chuckled at Ivone's mention of friendship, drawing a very pointed look from Xi-Ling.

"Be careful what you wish for, Ivone," he said, "friends of Xi-Ling are often drawn in to her many schemes."

He held his hands up defensively before she could do anything, smiling knowingly.

"And do not say that is not true," he said, "because I have the scars to prove it."

Winking to show he was jesting, he cleared his throat and allowed himself to look at her properly. She was still herself, yes, but the small tells were there too; better clothes, practical adornments, small marks of responsibility and success. She was moving up in the world.

"Li-Sung tells me you are single-handedly keeping him in business," he said, "despite his attempts to the contrary."

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Ivone » Sun Sep 04, 2016 5:00 am

Xi-Ling studied Ivone, surprised but not showing it, that the woman seemed to accept her so readily; as if she did not view Xi-Ling as a rival at all. This confused her. Shouldn't she?

Xi-Ling smiled.

"Well, we all know what an excellent story-teller my father is."

Ivone watched the exchange, amused.

"And, this just means I will be kept on my toes, which under the circumstances, is a good thing."

Practice makes perfect after all.

"Miss Xi-Ling, will you come see what we've brought for you?"
"Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting."


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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Vicentius » Mon Sep 12, 2016 5:28 am

"Oh, I don't know if that's the word I would use," Tius said, "persistent seems so much more apt."

Looking from one woman to the other, he smiled, gently acknowledging Ivone's point and allowing the two to get to know each other. It was a delicate balance, but he had faith in Ivone, and in her ability to find her feet. Xi-Ling was a fierce woman whenever opportunity presented itself, and a loyal friend, so he did not doubt that Ivone was in good hands either. Still, there were an interesting few weeks and months in store for them both, he felt, and it would be strange to return to Marn after this. Tian Xia had a way of making him feel more at home than his home ever did.

Waiting for their exchange to finish, he lead Xi-Ling to the wagons, where Li-Sung and Mei-Peng were still discussing the practicalities of moving the seedlings and saplings they had brought for them. Her eyes widened at the sight of the Tears, quietly glowing in one corner, and her hands itched to examine it more closely. He smiled, aware that one gift was definitely appreciated. The other, smaller, pile of gifts were more practical things mostly, but all things that he had spoken about with her during his time there. From clothing items, to small pieces of technology and history, and a Saddle of worked, Marnian Leather for her, he'd tried to be as personal as possible in what he chose.

He could only hope that she approved.

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Ivone » Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:37 am

Xi-Ling approved. Of course, she did. She could see Vi-cen's touch in each gift. For a moment, she hated him for being so thoughtful. Though she had tried to school herself, seeing him again brought all the feelings back. Feelings she'd hoped she had gotten under control. Things would have been easier if he weren't so likeable. If he could have been less kind, maybe... Xi-Ling felt like a selfish brat, clinging to Vi-cen as she did. It hurt, this. She hadn't expected two additions.

"The saddle is beautiful." Her fingers drifted across the designs.

Ivone watched the exchange, watched the glances Xi-ling cast in Tius' direction. Ivone's hand drifted to her belly. Would she be safe? Would they? Jealousy drove people do to strange and horrible things.

Later that evening
The garden tour had been a whirlwind and Ivone had done her best to keep up. As the day wore on she grew tired, feet feeling like lead weights as she placed each step. She smiled and nodded, listening, asking questions, absorbing information, but by the time the sun had set, a purplish smudge showed under her eyes. Had she known, she would have powdered her face to keep from giving it away. Add to things, she knew Tius wouldn't be able to stay. He had perhaps another two weeks before the weather would require him to leave. If he didn't, he would be stuck in Tian Xia, which would leave things too open in Marn. She didn't want him to leave, but knew, without a doubt, returning to Marn was necessary.

Ivone surveyed the group. The four of them spoke quickly, too fast for her to catch every word, but she caught most. Genial small talk, mostly philosophical. Tius sat on the floor, one knee up, arm propped upon it. His cup hung at his fingertips, dangling from long fingers. Light caught in the blue of his eye, making them twinkle as he smiled, laughing in that soft way that he did. Ivone basked in the warmth he gave off, less guarded here than in Marn. He was the Sun and she the moon, a pale reflection. Tears formed suddenly and without warning, surprising her. Ivone tried not to blink, holding back the awkward, hormonal things as best she could. How could one feel such love for another person? Would they be strangers when they next met? Ivone stifled a yawn and blinked slowly, twice, fighting the weight on her eyelids.

A weightless sensation startled her and the exhaustion flitted away for a moment. Owlishly, she peered up into Tius' gently smiling face. He was carrying her. Color flooded her cheeks. Had she really been so rude as to fall asleep?

"Oh! I'm so sor--"

"Shh." Tius only shook his head, holding her a little tighter. The look in his eyes made the butterflies go crazy. She didn't deserve that look. Ivone curled into Tius and inhaled the scent of him. The feelings came back again, threatening to overwhelm her.

I love you.

Fiercely.

Once in they were in their room, she reached for him. Hungry, craving.

"You look exhausted. You should rest."

"I am not too exhausted for you." The desire wasn't one for taking its time. "I'll show you."

She noticed Tius resisted, but barely, concerned for her, but her insistence was not to be ignored. Barely naked, they came together, clothes shed in a trail to the bed and shoved away.

The purple shadows made the violet of her eyes darker as she poised above him for the span of a breath. Her mouth met his as their bodies came together. Quick and hot.

This exhaustion kept the worries and thoughts from her dreams.

One Month Later

Do you really have to go?

Ivone didn't ask the question, knowing the answer and knowing the asking was unfair. The bulge of her belly was more pronounced now and her breasts had gotten bigger as well; changes Tius had noted on more than one occasion. Ivone liked the way he traced the blue veins that ran the length of her breast and how the curve of her belly fit perfectly along the length of his hand. She also liked the way he marveled at the changes, at her ,and said so in explicit ways that made her bite her lip. When he talked like that, she loved her body even more. She loved him even more.

What was she going to do without him?

"You should get dressed."
"Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting."


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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Vicentius » Mon Oct 31, 2016 7:24 pm

Tius stood, looking out at the gardens in the early light. The turn of the season was almost upon them and the weather was quickly turning with it, but the gardens were still beautiful. Mei-Peng and Li-Sung had planted things so that the new series of Winter blossoms were coming in at a pace with the receding blooms, bringing in a new wave of colour and growth. The cold was also a convenient excuse to snuggle up with Ivone under the covers or in the bath whenever the opportunity presented itself. He didn't think it was possible, but Ivone's desire for him and his for her had only increased as time passed, and he was enjoying every moment of it. The flip side was that every moment of tenderness only increased his anxiety about returning to Marn, and every careful conversation with Xi-Ling was another reminder of opportunities lost.

"You should get dressed."

He smiled at Ivone's words, hearing the real question behind her words. She wanted him to stay, and he wanted to stay with her too; he wanted it so badly that he could taste it, but staying here was unfair on Li-Sung and Mei-Peng, and it was unfair on Xi-Ling, without even considering how much was being left to chance back in Marn. He was not the same young man he had been when he first stayed with them, and his presence now would undermine them in their business dealings, even though his desires could not be further from that. They had been reluctant to even mention the topic, but they did not have to, and they had had several conversations to that effect. His efforts, with that in mind, had been to paint himself as an investor looking to put more money in, and he had done so. Ivone was to keep an eye on his investment, while teaching Xi-Ling about the foreign markets, at least as far as any onlookers were concerned.

Xi-Ling herself was a very different case. While she had learned admirable self-restraint since he had last known her; she was still a woman who grasped what she wanted with both hands. There was a time when he had considered a future with her, though he had never told her that. It was an appealing dream, but it would not have worked then. They were both too young, and he would never have been respected in Tian Xian society, just as she would have drowned in Marnian society. They were good then, and those memories were golden, but he was thankful that they had not pushed beyond that. Even if she was looking at him with a longing that spoke of very different thinking on her part.

Aware that he had not spoken for some moments, he cleared his throat, turning to face her.

"You say that as though I were parading around in nought but my socks, my love," he said, raising an eyebrow, "though that is an appealing idea."

Buttoning his shirt, he returned to sit by her, and entwined his fingers with hers.

"I will miss these moments," he said.

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Re: Unexpected News

Post by Ivone » Fri Nov 04, 2016 7:51 pm

Ivone smiled, softly, and drew Tius' hand to her belly. Beneath their hands, the baby moved, tumbling somersaults. Ivone stared at their hands before shifting. She looked up at Tius, eyes shining. Usually when the baby moved, she'd call him to come feel the movement, but the child would settle down by the time he arrived.

Her motions weren't as graceful and without thought as they had been. She sort of roll sideways, gingerly holding the underside of her rounded abdomen, to get out of the bed. Five and a half month's in and from the side and front, one could obviously tell she was pregnant. The baby's motions were easily visible and would become more so the further along the pregnancy went. The semi-sheer, pale lavender negligee she wore clung to her breasts and backside. Her hair, golden, which had thickened and gained extra curls, hung around her face and shoulders.

Ivone's fingers curved under Tius' collar, then drifted down to fidget with the buttons, though they did not need fixing. She smoothed her hand down the plackard.

"It's strange to see you in Marnian clothing now. I've become accustomed to seeing you in Tian Xian styles."

Ivone's mouth flexed and pushed out slightly accompanied by a breath. A tell-tale sign Tius had come to learn meant she was marshalling her emotions. More obvious was the way she didn't look him in the eyes. Non-existent fluff was plucked from his chest and shoulders.
"Forgive, sounds good.
Forget, I'm not sure I could.
They say time heals everything, but I'm still waiting."


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