Who

Willimina, Tallel

What

Happens directly after Family Dining. Willimina and Tallel have some things to discuss and while some VERY good news is brought up, some uneasy revelations are made in regards to Tallel's cousin Echo

BACKSCENED

When

It is evening of the nineteenth day of the eleventh month of the twelfth turn of the 12th pass.

Where

Igen Caravan Grounds, Willimina and Tallel's Yurt

OOC Date 07 Jan 2018 07:00

 

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"WHO?"


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Igen Caravan Grounds, Willimina and Tallel's Yurt

Unlike the outside of this dwelling, the inside of this round tent puts the bolder, more flamboyant side of Tallel's Zingari roots on display, though it's now been augmented by all that the rest of his family brings to it. While simple in layout, there is nothing simple at all about the intricate weave of the rugs thrown down upon the light, portable wooden slat-work spanning collapsible frames. Deep wine red is the most commonly found hue, though gold, green, and silver are found as well in the hangings that drape the tent walls at even intervals. A low, wide table to the left of the hanging door serves as Tallel's primary workspace for grinding herbs and mixing medicines, while another one further off to the right - round, this time - is laden with wood and steel serving ware and makes up a small dining area. Cushions lay around the yurt in abundance for sitting, the largest pile of which obscures the low mattress on which he and Willimina sleep. Nearby, a couple of folding dividers fashioned of woven reeds and silk partition off the beds their children sleep in. A few braziers for incense and candles, as well as some round red glow baskets, hang about the ceiling, which tapers up to a vent that can be shut against the weather but is wide enough to give a nice view of the night sky in the evenings.


Tallel finds himself in a silent yurt a few candlemarks before midnight, the thumping and booming of the dancers’ drums and the clapping of hands drifting in through the canvas walls. Echo has gone, the children have left to be with Ethelinda, and Willimina has not yet returned from wherever her need for getting some air has taken her. He scrubs at his face, marvelling at how effortlessly a seemingly simple gathering of family more or less fell apart. He feels like it’s largely his fault, but knows it’s really not that simple. For the moment, he sits on the edge of the bed, bare of chest and foot, swirling whiskey in a tumbler and nibbling at a well-cooled bubbly pie.

Willimina has been walking, and had a chat with her cousin on her way back, which is largely why it's taken her so long to get home. But finally, she does fold herself through the door of the yurt. She isn't really expecting Tallel to be awake, late as it is, but when she looks up and sees him, she gives him a thin smile. “Hi.”

Tallel looks up when Willimina comes in, knocking back a good swig of his whiskey before setting it aside and standing. “Hello, saikhan,” he answers quietly, his arms offered for her to step into if she wishes. “Did you get enough air to help?” In other words, did she do all she needed in order to vent all she needed.

“Aye, I think so.” Willa will indeed step into Tallel’s arms with a deep sigh as she snuggles into him. “I’m sorry I left like that, it was rude of me.” But Willimina would have preferred leaving to blowing her stack. “I hope I didn’t offend your cousin…” She needs to talk to Tallel about her too, but this comes first.

Tallel wraps his arms snugly around Willa once she steps close, burying his face in her wild curls as he lets loose a sigh of his own. “Nothing about tonight was ideal,” he says, “and I think she was more afraid she’d been the one to offend. She couldn’t have known what’s been going on. But I filled her in a little.” Not too much, but enough. “And…I think, saikhan, that there’s a little something extra playing with your emotions in most things these days.” It’s a note made gently as he pulls back to find her eyes, his own glinting along with a subtle smile.

Willimina nods along as Tallel talks, actually sort of glad that he’d filled his cousin in on things, it makes things less awkward. “No I have to agree it wasn’t ideal.” Willimina lets out a sharp sigh and then, Tallel’s next words catch her attention and she looks at her husband quizzically. “What are you hinting at husband?” She asks, catching that gentle note in Tallel’s voice and the subtle smile. She feels fine, and attributes her earlier queasiness and temper to the stress of the evening and her irritation with her daughter. A long, long walk and a talk with Timo had helped much with that.

Tallel’s smile grows as he studies Willimina’s face, a hand rising to cup her cheek as the other remains against her back, keeping her close. “Trust me as a healer as much as your husband when I say I’ve noticed,” he tells her. “You turned green at a whiff of perfectly good stew, your temper has been hotter than normal, you’ve been avoiding your whiskey…and you’ve also missed for a few months now.” Grinning now, he tilts his head close to rest his brow against hers. “I think you’re pregnant again, saikhan.” And it seems he’s the first to notice this time, much to his considerable joy.

Willimina leans into the cup of Tallel’s hand, her eyes closing for but a moment as she cherishes the feel of it. She opens them again when Tallel begins to speak, chocolate orbs alight with a bit of confusion. She turned green at the whiff of one stew, and she’s just been wanting water and tea more than whiskey lately, is that really so strange? Her thoughts run across her face, more than likely, clearly, to her husband, wild and fluid in their exchange. She looks thoughtful when he mentions she’s missed. Had she? She could have sworn…no…he’s right. Wait. And then he’s announcing his predictions and a soft, happy smile slides across her lips. They’ve been trying for awhile now, and it seems their efforts have finally come to fruition. She giggles, a bit light headed with the realisation. “I hadn’t even noticed…I feel fine other than a little tiny moment of nausea earlier this evening. And I just thought I had been a bit dehydrated lately, I was thirsty and whiskey wasn’t quenching the thirst.” Another silly little giggle erupts and Willimina is kissing Tallel, her happiness at the quite unexpected announcement from her husband vibrating through her very being. “When did you start to suspect?”

“Ah…I think when you started leaving off on the whiskey,” Tallel replies, “though a little when you missed the first time. I thought it could just have been stress, but then you missed another…and the way things went tonight sealed it in my mind.” So they can at least say that one good thing came out of what was otherwise a disaster. He can’t help but kiss her again, wrapping his arm around to join the other in embracing her ardently. “I’m bursting to have been the one to see it first,” he tells her with a grin. “It’s a bit different for you this time around. I wonder why…” Though it really shouldn’t be surprising; pregnancies don’t have to be predictable in the way they run if they don’t want to.

Willimina gladly takes another kiss from Tallel, wrapping her arms around his neck in the process. She laughs fondly when he mentions his pride in figuring it out first and nods. “Aye, the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind and I don’t know why it’s different, but I am grateful for the fact. I am not eager to spend another pregnancy ill and mostly bedbound.” And this time, Willimina has plenty of dancers to fill the slack, should she need them. But Willa is known to dance well into her pregnancies, when she isn’t ill, that is.

“I’m glad it seems you won’t be ill this time, too,” Tallel says, since one of the things he loathes most is to see his wife sick and unable to do the things she loves. His hands come up to run along Willimina’s arms, and he sighs once more. “I wish we could just end the night on that note,” he laments resignedly, “but…I suspect there are one or two more things we should probably discuss.” At least they’ll be touching on the matter with lighter hearts now.

Willimina sighs and nods her agreement, though the warm fuzz of their recent revelation still tingles it's way across her skin. A new baby, a new addition to their family. Willimina can't wait. “Aye, there's the matter of our eldest child and her inattention to her lessons. And…there's something about your cousin I'd like to speak with you about…” Willimina glances at Tallel and chews on her lower lip a bit. Knowing how protective her husband gets over his family, she's not sure he's going to take this particular bit of news so well.

There’s a nearly inaudible rumble of frustration that accompanies Tallel’s sigh as he steps back to take Willa’s hands and leads her to sit beside him on the bed. “I don’t think it’s simple rebellion we’re dealing with in Lillia,” he notes, and then rubs the middle of his forehead when it comes to Echo. “She’s always been shy, and awkward along with it. She didn’t mean to stir anything, saikhan, I’m sure of it,” he says, tawny eyes lifting to catch his wife’s intently.

Willimina joins Tallel on the bed with a soft sigh of her own, nodding at the comment on Lillia. “You may be right there…” Again, she's chewing at her lower lip and looking thoughtful, but they'll get to Lillia in a minute…

Willimina shakes her head avidly when Tallel brings up his cousin’s social faux pas, a slight smile tilting her lips. “That's not what I was getting at. I intend to apologise to your cousin about that, I was more terse with her than I should have been, it was rude of me.” Willimina normally has more tact, but the subject of her daughter's defiance as of late is a sore spot. “No…I wanted to talk about the collar around her neck…” Willimina calls it for what it is, knowing at least some of them had thought it just a new piece of jewelry. Willimina however, recognised it for what it was: a stamp of ownership.

It’s a good thing Willimina starts to clarify, because Tallel would not for the life of him have been able to think of what else might need discussing where Echo is concerned. He had noticed what was around her neck and thought it to be something new she was trying - jewelry, yes, and possible from someone from the caravan who had taken a fancy to his cousin, which would have pleased him to no end. But Willa, having phrased things as she had, has him doubting now…end he’s not entirely sure why. His wife knows what’s what when it comes to jewelry, of course, but is it possible she could have misspoken? “Collar,” he echoes, his brows lowering in puzzlement. “You mean the choker?”

Willimina swallows, here goes. “No dear, not a choker. A collar.” Tallel never really had got too involved with what happened with the escorts, and the ones that double as spies, well, they have tastes that run far darker than Willimina has a liking for, but to each their own. However, she cannot let loose the feeling that Tallel should know what his cousin has got herself into, hence this incredibly awkward explanation. Willa swallows and continues. “Some of the escorts we have indulge in fantasy play, some that leads into…darker things than I am uncomfortable explaining. But part of their play is heavily based on a dominant/submissive role, and the submissives wear those collars. It's a way to show which dominant ‘owns’ which submissive so the escorts don't tramp on each other's territory…” Willimina is a bit red in the face when she's done explaining this…her mind running through scenarios Willa would rather it not. “I recognised the mark on Echo's pendant, I know who she's given herself to…”

Tallel goes very still as Willimina explains the significance of what they’d seen Echo wearing, a tangible shadow passing over his features when she speaks of those who decide that domination is something that is necessary to employ. He has always been neutral about the escorts, preferring to keep his nose out of what goes on surrounding them. He has no need to know, after all, not when he has above and beyond what he needs and deserves with his wife. But he’d been unaware that it had a darker side for some. Surely, he’d reasoned, his own proud people would not have need of such a sordid side when their sensuality and exotic nature was so renowned. But it seems he isn’t without naivete in some things yet.

When the full implication of what this means for his cousin hits him fully, he feels a handful of things at once - a punch in the gut, a surge of fear, a wave of revulsion at the possible scenarios that flicker unbidden across his thoughts. He forgets to breathe for a moment, pulling in a deep breath as dusky features begin to darken with an angry flush. “How…is this allowed, Willimina?” he asks in a strained, hushed tone. “We are a proud, independent people…free spirits…and yet there are those among us who would literally claim ownership of their brethren this way? They’d actually enjoy banking our fire like this? I…I can’t…” He swallows, his eyes suddenly sparking into a furious blaze. “Who?” he demands of her last. He’s not yelling yet…but he easily might end up there.

Willimina near squirms under the changes in facial expression her husband goes through. “It is allowed because all the participants are willing Saikhan…” She answers, but stops when Tallel's growing fury becomes apparent in his words and expressions. She can feel the boil of it coming off him. “Milosh…he used the sign he sends his missives with on the pendant. Igraine wore something similar once, it's how I recognised it.” Willa is not sure she should have brought this up now, but his cousin seems so… innocent, and shy, Willimina isn't sure the girl knows just what she's got herself involved in.

“Then let them be ‘willing’ invisibly, and let their masters reap the consequences of their own tendencies if territories get impinged upon,” Tallel snaps, uncaring if his words are impulsive or not. To parade about wearing a mark of submission is something unconscionable in his mind. Shells, he’s probably going to be seeing collars everywhere now that he knows what they are. “Milosh… I know his face.” Even if he’s never had a true conversation with the man. He knows him better as one of their spies.

Tallel is on his feet suddenly, pacing a line alongside their bed. “Echo is impressionable, easily swayed by suggestion… Faranth, how must it have gone? I don’t care if someone’s desires run toward a darker bent; it isn’t my business. But I know my cousin; she’d wanted to get away, to experience different things, and I can’t imagine that he didn’t take advantage of that want in her somehow. What is the difference, Willimina,” he asks, stopping suddenly to look at her, “between intimidation and domination? Can you tell me? And doesn’t domination imply that there is some sort of resistance that needs to be curbed? Echo is one of the gentlest, kindest souls I have ever known; what is there of her to dominate? Why would she even feel the need for it?”

He goes back to pacing a bit more, shoving both hands through his hair. “Not my blood. Not my family. I’ll not have her going around collared like some canine-handler’s cur,” he declares, and folds onto the bed again, twisting and reaching for something in a small chest nearby. Turning back, it’s revealed to be a leather bracer with a blade sheathed in the forearm. He’s only worn this in earnest once before - when Willimina was taken. It’s a sure sign of the internal turmoil he’s dealing with now, and extension of the anger and pain already evidenced outwardly. After he straps it on, he pauses, catching his breath…and suddenly drops his face into his hands, stilling like the eye of a storm, broad shoulders rising and falling pointedly with his breathing. It isn’t immediately clear what’s happening out of sight, if he’s just gathering himself or something else…until his shoulders hitch, interrupting the pattern of his breath. Once, twice, and then the fact that he’s weeping becomes more readily discernible. “I don’t know what to do, Willa,” he manages eventually, his tone muffled and rough. “I know what I want to do…but not what I’m supposed to do.”

Willimina flinches at that first snap, and though she feels much the same way, she can't stop someone from doing something they want or wearing something they want to wear, and surely Tallel knows this subconsciously. She sits quietly after, hands folded in her lap as she watches Tallel get up and pace. She’d known this was going to be a touchy subject to broach. When Tal asks her the difference, between intimidation and domination, it’s one she actually knows the answer to, because she had asked Igraine much the same thing. So, she gives him the answer Igraine had given. “The difference, my love, is the simple ability the submissive has of saying ‘No’.” Willimina blushes prettily then, remembering the off conversation she’d had with the healer about it. “According to Igraine, the submissive holds all the power with that one simple word, if uttered, all play ceases immediately….or so I’m told.” WIllimina’s flaming red cheeks tell enough that one would probably guess that it’s something she would find incredibly embarrassing to do in any way, shape or form. “It ….it may have been her innocence and shyness that drew him….”

Tallel’s declarations have Willimina a bit concerned, particularly when the blade makes it’s appearance. Woah. Isn’t this usually the other way around? It scares Willimina because it is she who is quick to draw a blade, not Tallel. No, not her even tempered, level headed husband. And she is even less likely to draw blades now, still troubled slightly by how it felt to execute Essus and sometimes she can swear she still feels the late elder’s blood, stick on her hands. Willimina shakes her head, trying to rid it of sensory memories long past, rubbing her hands on her thighs a bit to rid them of sweat. “Tal….” She begins when his head drops, placing a hand on those shoulders, but then he’s weeping, and asking her what to do and Willa has no idea.

Willimina opts for holding her husband, wrapping him in her arms and hoping she isn’t pushed away, because she’s got a slight inkling he might be mad at her for allowing the escorts their…odd desires. “I don’t think that knife is going to help the situation no matter what you decide to do.” She starts off with this, hoping to appeal to Tallel’s more logical side, violence is a last response, or hadn’t he always said that to her? Seriously, the role reversal here is dizzying.

Tallel is listening to the further explanation Willimina gives, though nothing really gives away whether or not he’s processing it. He has to question whether or not the power of ‘no’ has been explained to Echo, but it’s a thought that gets caught up in the maelstrom with all the rest as he opts to vent it all in tears rather than in a far more…uncharacteristic manner.

There was something that had snapped in him during the ordeal with Willimina being kidnapped, something that had caused more primal instincts come far closer to the surface than he’d been comfortable with. It had been the need to protect, even to the point of taking actions far more dire than anything he’d ever done before. He’d knocked a man unconscious with a punch, violating a promise to always heal rather than hurt, and that is something that has never truly mended for him. Perhaps that is the place where his skin is thinnest, allowing the instinct toward violence to protect his family to rear its head again. He didn’t think it would happen again. Yet here he is…

The important thing, however, is that he does not pull the knife in his bracer free. It’s there, felt like a weight made of forge-heated metal strapped to his forearm, and he lets it remain, to remind him and to make him think about what is happening within him. It doesn’t help his thoughts line themselves up any better for the moment, but it serves to keep them from swerving into darker territory.

But it’s Willimina’s embrace that truly grounds him. It always is. He isn’t mad at her, not really; he’s just…bewildered. And frustrated with himself for not acknowledging the existence of what’s suddenly cropped up now. “I know,” he grits out in response to her last, scrubbing at his face and finally lowering his hands. His eyes are rimmed in red, his skin damp with tears…and those haven’t stopped completely. “But I can’t allow Milosh to mark my cousin as his. If this is what she’s discovered she…likes,” is he ever going to be able to get over being repulsed by the thought? “…So be it…but she is her own woman, blood of my mother’s sister, and I will not see her marked as anything else.” And somehow or other, he means to drive that point home to Milosh.

“I don’t think she understands,” he continues weakly, clearing his throat. It doesn’t help much. “Maybe, like she mentioned earlier, she isn’t cut out for marriage, and she doesn’t have to be. But whatever she needs can be given to her by someone who cares about her and doesn’t view her as a possession, or one on a list of dozens, or…whatever they might view their clients as.” It is extremely hard for Tallel to believe that someone wouldn’t want the depth of love and passion he shares with Willimina…but he does swallow it, and can eventually accept it even for Echo, if that’s what she really wants. But it makes his heart ache in a way he can’t rightly describe.

Willimina is not exactly the same after their ordeal with the Elders either, still plagued occasionally by nightmares that have her waking up shaking and cold, sense memories of blood running down her hand and arm, slight claustrophobia caused by being locked in a room with no light or warmth….it’s something that perhaps caused the changes Willa went through in regards to violence.

Tallel’s gritted response has Willa’s heart aching for him, her entire frame full of nervous tension. She has torn feelings about the collars themselves, particularly because from what she can see, they are willingly worn. “I don’t think there’s much you can do if Echo chooses to wear Milosh’s mark, my love. It is her choice after all.” As to Echo fully understanding…well…

“Perhaps you should talk to your cousin about this husband, since it is so disturbing to you.” And Willa, it disturbs Willa too, but this is not her business. Family Echo may be, but it is Tallel that knows her. WIllimina does not. “And I think perhaps it should be Echo you speak with first, before you speak with Milosh. I know I’m right about the collar….but we don’t know exactly what has happened between them… and I don’t think we should assume much either.” Willimina sighs, straightening so that she can look directly at Tallel, her nervous worry and her concern for Echo warring for space.

“How can she choose to wear it if he tells her to wear it or else? Is that not how it would work?” Tallel snaps yet again, a fresh welling of tears streaming from the corners of his eyes. “If it’s true, then she can sharding well keep it out of sight when she’s around me.” If that will even happen again after their next conversation. He also knows they shouldn’t assume too much, but… “There is a usual way an escort operates, yes? I’m sure that much can be assumed.”

Tallel’s head drops into his hands again, though he doesn’t cover his face this time. “It doesn’t make sense to me, Willimina. I don’t think it will ever make sense. I almost…regret saying she could come here.” He grimaces, realizing just how selfish it probably sounds. “When I thought to give her a way to have a change of scenery, to discover new things and keep chipping away at her anxiety…I never imagined something like this would end up happening. Not even in…certain corners of my mind.” Willimina would know full well that Tallel has a naughtier side, of course…but it’s in been in the context of their relationship for so long now, and probably seems downright tame compared to this.

Willimina blushes, flinching again a little when Tallel snaps. It’s not a tone she’s used to hearing. “I….I think that decision is made…before….” Willlimina isn’t as sure of this answer but in the light of things, it doesn’t really matter if she’s sure or not, she has a feeling Tallel would feel the same way about it. Willimina nods a ‘yes’ when Tallel asks about excort services. “Aye.” Her answer is quiet and she looks away.

She looks back when Tallel drops his head, a hand lifting to move in comforting circles on his back. “I… I don’t really understand it either my love…but other’s desires are not my own, I know that.” She can understand certain things pushing at one’s sex drive, finding certain things appealing, even if they aren’t the things she finds appealing herself. It’s a bad time for humor….but Willimina can’t help just a little when Tallel mentions letting Echo come to Igen to discover new things…she can’t help it, emitting a nervous giggle she covers her mouth with her hand and turns away, face flushing red.

“Well she is certainly discovering new things…”

When she looks back at Tallel, she feels a bit mortified that the thought even crossed her mind, but it had. “I’m sorry….that was inappropriate.” She apologises immediately, given the levity of the situation. She really couldn’t help herself though.

It may, in fact, end up being one of the few things Tallel is actually prejudiced against…and doesn’t know how to change. No matter how he tries to wrap his mind around it, he simply can’t figure out how it is right in any way, shape, or form. As for the matter of the desires of others not being hers, he can commiserate with Willa on that point easily enough, his dark head nodding between his palms. Then, inconceivably to him for the moment, Willa makes that quip, and he looks at her with a deeply pained expression that doesn’t diminish much with her apology. Standing, he dazedly peers around for a moment, then sees his whiskey bottle and moves to pick it up. “Now I need some air,” he grumbles, and starts for the door, which he fully intends to go out…unless Willa stops him.

That pained expression cuts Willimina to the core, and she gives one in return, anxious at the pain she’s caused Tallel. Her quip had been inappropriate for the moment. She watches him pick up the bottle and start for the door. She reaches for him, but pulls back at the last second. She knows what it’s like to need to think, to need to breathe, and she’ll let Tallel have his time. Even though she wants to stop him at the door and kiss it all away, to apologise using her words and kiss. But somehow….she doesn't think that’s the kind of contact he would appreciate just now. So she watches him go, a hand over her belly as she holds her tongue and anything else she might want to say at bay.

Even wives say dumb, dumb things sometimes.

It’s debatable how Tallel would receive Willimina’s interception right now, though the time to find out comes and goes. He slips out into the night, taking a long walk around the perimeter of the caravan grounds, not even taking a peek into the midst of the festivities carrying on around the fire. He wanders, his mind still churning and trying to process, the bracer sheath still lashed to his arm and reminding him of the paper-thin line he’s currently walking. The longer he goes, however, the further away from the line he veers until his feet are quite safely in non-violent territory again.

There is a half-candlemark until midnight by the time he comes back to the door of the yurt. There are only a few sips gone from the whiskey bottle, his mind made up not long after he’d left that drunkenness wouldn’t help his situation, either. Expecting his wife to be asleep by now, he heaves a quiet sigh, slips inside, and fastens the door shut, then turns toward sleep.

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