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 Checkmate -The Dersite Prison

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PostSubject: Checkmate -The Dersite Prison   Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:11 am

Her shadow was strewn across the room, flickering wildly with the candle she had set down onto the mahogany table in front of her. A violin case lined with dark, crushed velvet lay at her feet. Her fingers poised at the bow, the violin swept up to her collarbone, she waited for a conductor that would never arrive.

What was there left to do but to play on her own?

If someone had bothered to listen, they would have heard a strained, mournful melody drawn from the instrument, short staccato notes waging war against the longer keening of bow against string, a carefully concealed pain hidden in the twisting highs and lows of the music. She paced, her footsteps soft against the creamy carpet.

One last draw of horsehair against wire, and she let her hands drop to her sides, the music unfinished in a lingering death of a note against the air. The old Stradivarius violin was laid gently into its black coffin, the bow replaced upon the cover, and she shut the case without another sound.

It was nearly night upon Derse, and already she could see the last of the inhabitants silently moving into their homes from her vantage point. Being a Commander had insured her a place in the aristocracy's living quarters, though she suspected that was more to make sure there was someone to keep an eye on her than to give her the luxury of being able to stay on Derse's moon. Taking a seat on the chair in her study, she picked up the flute of cognac she had poured earlier and ran her finger along the sides, wondering how much pressure the thin stem could take until it completely broke. Tilting the remnants of the pale golden liquid to her mouth, she set the glass back down.

It wasn't often that she drank, but she made some exceptions now and then.

After all, she did have a decision to make tonight.

During one of the training drills earlier that day, while she had dismissed the recruits for lunch break, a paper had been slipped to her, the curling, elegant writing bearing a simple message: "Don't call checkmate just yet. I hear that the pathways underneath the castle are quite interesting to explore. You never know what you might find behind bars there." A small crescent moon had been drawn on the back, the crest of the old Queen.

She wasn't stupid; she'd made the connection on the spot. The writing was cultured, far too neat to have been a hoax, and she vaguely knew the handwriting from the few times she had been summoned to the palace.

The Black Queen.

It might just have been chance. Maybe the missive had been meant for someone else. Either way, she knew the Queen was alive, and though she had not approved of her earlier methods to rule Derse, the Prince had changed her. The Condesce had taken all that away.

She sighed and ran her fingers through her hair, her brow furrowed. If she got caught, she would be killed. If only Kairan were here. She'd have known what to do.

After her encounter with Neera Vee, she knew that there was a Rebellion, and she knew that the Queen could be rescued. The pros did outweigh the cons, at any rate; she was a monarch, after all- she was bound to know the palace inside out. She knew that the Prince and the Queen had grown close as well. He would probably be happy to see her again.

Pushing the chair away from the desk, Point stood and walked to her room. To hell with it. She might as well go for it, at any rate. If there was a prison underneath the palace, there was a tiny possibility that Daniel would be there as well.

Which was why she was currently crawling through the dusty air vents in the castle, cramped, half-blind, and very much dubious of whether or not this was such a good idea after all.

Clamping the light rod in between her teeth, she swore she could hear the pounding of her heart magnified a thousandfold in the damning silence, the rush of blood through her ears as she inched forward, the knees of her pants probably unsalvageable with all of the wear against the stone.

Her breath came in short clouds. It was a bitterly cold night, and the draft coming from somewhere didn't do anything to alleviate that fact. Shivering bitterly, she came to a T in the duct. The draft continued on her right, so she followed that way until she bumped into a grate. Point swore quietly as shadows drifted across her line of vision, scrambling back until she was sure that she was hidden again. The voices and thick boots passed by. She unhooked the dagger from her belt and jammed it into the opening, twisting until the entire thing gave way. Catching it before it fell with a loud clatter, she slid out into the corridor.

There was a single cell to her right, and inside the cell was a stately female carapace clothed in all black, her eyes fixed straight on Point.

The Queen.





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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate - The Dersite Prison   Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:30 am

The steady drip of some unseen trickle of water matched the steady pulse of the Queen. How long had she spent, pacing the dark decrepit interior of her cell? Never had she been down here during her life, even after her coronation. Her prisons were meant to instill fear in people's heart, not to be clean and comfortable.

Every footstep she made was muffled by grime and dirt. How many souls had screamed and pleaded to be set free, how many had continue the chain of suffering before she broke it with her silence, her stoic nature.

It doesn't matter, they aren't you

A grim smile danced across her lips. Her thoughts were right, they weren't her. They weren't the true queen of Derse, they had been underlings with no power, no way to change their fate.

But she did.

The guards though at first cold and Condesce-fearing soon turned soft and manipulative. They weren't so easy to follow orders from a species that they considered lower than themselves. All she had had to do was ask and they had given her paper and a quill with ink. After a quick thought she had written down her message but hesitated, flipping the paper over, drawn her seal then had given back the quill.

They were curious but once she glared at them, they stopped asking questions.

She had slipped the paper through a crack in the wall when the two guards were chatting and hoped that some unseen force aided her in getting the note to someone, anyone that could help her get real information, or help her find a way to escape.

A rustling brought her to the present and she looked up. The guards had left but there was still noise echoing throughout the cell she had been imprisoned in.

Instantly, she froze and listened. Slowly, her eyes skirted around the edges of the growing shadows until they rested on the uncovered vent.

A figure stood in front, not just a figure, a woman and vaguely familiar. The Black Queen paused, studying the woman. She was muscular but on the short side, and covered in dust.

So this is my savior?

The sarcastic thought floated lazily in the chilly night and she felt herself muster a slight smirk.

Slowly, she raised her arm and motioned the woman forward, as if to assure her she wasn't a ghost.
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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate -The Dersite Prison   Sun Oct 07, 2012 4:21 am

Her stride smooth and unfaltering, Point approached the iron bars and sank into a bow.

The Queen was still alive. It was almost shocking, the amount of casual elegance she still displayed. Was that a smirk that played at the edge of her mouth? Of course. She'd always treated her summons to that same expression, that secret amusement of something they would never know lurking in a dark gleam in her eye.

Point knew exactly why she had been revered as one of the greatest rulers of Derse. That power of deadly grace was still present, hadn't diminished one bit- though she might be disgraced, she herself had not waned.

"My allegiance lies with you only, my Queen," she said, straightening, her face betraying no emotion. "Truth be told, I am surprised that the Condesce willingly kept you... alive." She slipped the dagger back into its sheath, took note of the cell and its inhabitant. "However, I am glad to see that you." She looked up into the Queen's eyes. "The whole of Derse believes you dead."

Her gaze wandered across the cell, unable to hide her morbid curiosity. Had the Queen paced her cell, wondered if anyone would come for her, shed no tears when they had struck her across her face and humiliated her?

Cold and utterly utilitarian, the floor and walls were stained with dark smears across the jagged stone. Of course Point knew what went on in these cells, the remnants of misery recorded into every desperate scream, every single rusted iron chain, every scratch gouged into the walls by desperate fools who beat their fists against them until they were bloody. She knew the exact effect of isolation on a captive, of being beaten and interrogated for hours until death was preferable, of when to stop just before that fine line between in(sanity) was broken.

After all, she was a warrior. She was trained to learn how deadly of a knife pain was. And by God, yes, pain was unsurpassable when it came to coercion.

The Queen herself looked remarkably undiminished, considering the fact that she had been held- and most likely tortured- by Noir. Hadn't he hated her? Or was there something else that kept her unscathed from the Condesce's wrath?

But enough of that; the Queen was here and alive, and she was already sketching out a plan in her head to liberate her. The Queen would raise morale, and more importantly, she would greatly aid in the Rebellion. Even if the Prince Dirk was deceased, something she doubted despite the word being widely circulated, she had information that would help the rebels.

"I know I may not seem trustworthy to you, my Queen," she began lowly, her eyes flickering towards the empty passageway, "but please believe me when I say that I will never willingly serve the Condesce or Jack Noir. I have the sway of an entire army behind me, and I have heard that the Rebellion is on the move. Allow me to aid you. I can get you out of here when the opportunity arises."
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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate - The Dersite Prison   Sun Oct 07, 2012 5:31 pm

The ceremonial bow caught the Queen off guard.

This warrior still honored her, as though the throne was still her own. Power seemed to seep through her shell and give her strength, give her hope that people would still follow her. Though this woman had found her, reasons for distrust were not so easily banished. Lies could be used to get information from her.

"Has Jack grown tired with me?" She asked, her voice strong but scratchy and worn. She brushed it off and kept talking. "Has he sent one of his commanders to show me false confidence and fill me with a flickering hope that is diminished when I tell you the supposed secrets I am suppose to know?" Her words were bitter, but her tone calm, factual.

She stared at the woman, trying to place her loyalties. Decided to indulge her with some answers she gave a slight laugh, one that was short and cold.

"I am here in this cell courtesy of my-, the Archagent you so freely call Jack Noir. He's kept me alive with the excuse of I might know where the Prince is. He expects me to be grateful, to be in his debt for saving my life but is this cell an equal replacement for my throne, my rule?" She paused, knowing she was getting emotionally compromised. Breathing in deeply, she closed her eyes, exhaled then looked at the woman again.

She's saying she will get you out.

The thought burrowed it's way into her brain and she narrowed her eyes, her curiosity overtaking her caution.

Perhaps she is sincere, perhaps....

"If I humour you, and say that I believe you, that you have an army at your sway, that you do not follow the Archagent or the False Queen and that indeed a Rebellion is forming...how do you plan on aiding my escape? You haven't even given me your name or your title. How am I to trust you?"

She walked up close to the bars and looked at the visitor vehemently, her rage boiling over in this constant loss of hope and dampened spirit.
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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate -The Dersite Prison   Sat Oct 13, 2012 3:11 am

If I humor you.

Of course. What else had she expected? The Queen was not going to welcome her with open arms. Anyone subjected to Noir's every sadistic whim would eventually crack, even the strongest of minds.

The Queen's anger was like ice as opposed to her own fiery temper.

It somehow irked her that she didn't remember her as well. Even if it had been two years before she became Commander, the Queen might have at least put in some kind of effort to recognize her clothing and her formality.

But again with captivity and torture. Lines and memories became blurred when it came to solitude and desperation.

"Yes, well," Point began wearily as she folded her arms across her chest. "It is hard to trust the person on the other side of the bars, isn't it? And you've forgotten me already." She shrugged. "I don't blame you." I don't pity you either, came the unspoken thought.

Silence.

"All I'm asking is for you to hear me out," she said. "You have no idea the amount of surprise that I had when I received your missive and found you here. I thought you dead. However, the Rebellion is near, and I am confident that the man leading it knows you very well. The Prince, I am sure, is still alive." She considered, brushing back her hair. "And regardless, you are still the Queen. I will do anything in my power to assist your escape. That is a given. I am one of the Commanders of the Dersite Army. I would be a fool to leave you here. And what would Jack gain if he simply used me to raise your hopes? Nothing. He isn't that petty. He knows that having me near you is a great risk already.

"I am sure that you knew my father, Aleister Ardenwell, as one of the former Commanders. I have no proof but my word and my blood. My name is Point Ardenwell, and I swear that I will free you, my Queen, if you are able to trust me as well."

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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate - The Dersite Prison   Fri Oct 19, 2012 4:57 pm

The Queen stared levelly at her guest, secretly enjoying how annoyed she looked. If she thought she alone could break her out, then they both were doomed to the noose.

The steady drip of water was silenced as the conversation started up again. Her guest crossed her arms and the Queen nearly smiled at the most likely defensive move. She listened quietly, waiting for the others explanations to come to an end before starting her rebuttal.

"You think me weak, unable to trust anyone who has the freedom that I lack? You're quite wrong. I decide who is worthy to gain my trust and I don't need your pity." She brushed her hand through the air, lazily acknowledging the unspoken words.

"Forgotten midst the many troops, and commanders that my army has? Do you feel insulted that I, the Queen of Derse, didn't remember your name, Point Ardenwell?" She leaned onto the bars, her face inches away from the cold stone.

"You seem unsure." She paused and glanced at the wall behind Point before continuing. "Do you have confirmed information that the Prince is alive?" Worry snaked it's way into her voice and she stopped talking abruptly, trying to calm herself down.

"You really think that the False Queen would kill me when I was the one close to her biggest threat?" She asked quietly, a smirk on her face.

"You have amused me enough. I give you my hesitant trust Point Ardenwell, now what do you wish to know?"
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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate -The Dersite Prison   Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:01 pm

She set her jaw. The Queen had always been condescending at the best of times.

"Worthy to gain your trust? Wise words to say to someone who's served you faithfully- and someone who's offered to break you out." She tilted her head, expressionless. "I never insinuated that you were weak. Yes, indeed on the contrary, I think quite highly of you. Perhaps a little surprised that your memory has failed you so quickly, especially for one who was present in the crowd when the King's execution was staged. Surely you saw me then."

That was maybe a kick below the belt, but again, the Queen didn't seem like the type who cared for the King- maybe she was more incensed that they had humiliated her in front of the crowd.

Her eyes were averted, her gaze set on the stone behind her.

Strange.

"I have reason to believe that he is alive," she said, noting the worry that made its way into the Queen's voice, remembering how she had been so fond of Prince Dirk. "I have not seen him, but the person whom I trusted with my information has promised to send a message to him. Seeing as the Agents have not been sent after me for my treachery yet, I have reason to believe that he is still alive."

Hopefully that would pique the Queen's interest. "As entertaining as I am sure I am--" obviously she wasn't; any humor she might have possessed before had died when she had become a Commander-- "I will tell you this: the Rebellion is in need of information, especially the layouts of the palace. While Prince Dirk is busy, the others need guidance, and that is where I believe you may come in handy. They will be the ones to free you as well, I'm sure."

The only question left is whether or not you're willing to share it when them. She watched the Queen, curious as to see what she would say.
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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate - The Dersite Prison   Fri Oct 26, 2012 4:55 pm

"Do not try and make me guilty, Commander." She growled lowly. Her hand gripped the stone bar tighter, wishing to teach this girl a lesson in respect. "You really shouldn't think I need to respect anyone who is out there serving the False Queen, willingly or otherwise."

She let go of the bars and crossed her arms. This girl....Point. Was she really bringing up the King?

"I saw many faces but I was focused on the King's execution. I'm so very sorry that you didn't catch my eye." She said, sarcasm dripping from every word. She hid that she had felt lost, terrified almost when they killed him. Even though she didn't think highly of him, he had still been as close to a friend as anyone could get.

She glanced at the wall again, just waiting for the click of the slick black carapace of her hated Archagent, the reason she wasn't dead.

The Black Queen blinked and look at Point again. She was unsure if he was alive but any chance was a chance none the less. She held a hand out to silence her visitor.

"If you agree that as soon as you can, you will get me out of this hell hole...then I will give you information, I will join your Rebellion and we will overthrow the wretch on my throne."

Slowly, she held her hand outside the bars, unsure if the girl was really sincere.
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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate -The Dersite Prison   Mon Nov 05, 2012 1:53 am

Point smiled bitterly.

"I give you my word, your Highness. I'll find a way to get you out."

She reached out and took that graceful black hand, bowed again once she let go, feeling more sorrowful than triumphant.

Silence echoed. Point listened for any footsteps and relaxed once she made sure there was none.

"And for the record, I'm..." Point hesitated, looking away. "I'm sorry for all that's happened. That remark about the King was uncalled for.

However, when the Condesce is overthrown, grant me this one request. Allow me to execute the Archagent- personally. I have quite a score to settle with him, and I'm sure you do as well. The Rebellion will be glad to see you."

And for the better as well. She needed some kind of trust offer to give to the Rebellion, especially since she was so highly ranked- they would be suspicious, and the whereabouts of the Queen would be precious information.

Nevertheless, she'd have to get her out first.

"I will contact the Prince through the informant as soon as possible. Rest assured, your trust will not be in vain or misplaced. We'll come for you as soon as possible; I swear it."

Point backed away from the bars, glancing at the corridor. "I should be going. Thank you for trusting me. Should you need any further assistance, please send me some kind of missive. I know the first one wasn't by accident." Turning with one last look at the Queen, Point crossed back over to the wall. "Until we meet again."

Quickly getting back into the vent, Point slipped her dagger through the thin slats and jammed the tip into each corner, effectively nailing them back into place. It wouldn't hold up if someone kicked it, but it was enough to conceal the fact that anyone could have gotten through.

The journey back through the streets was nervewracking. Every single shadow, every single carapace on the road seemed to loom and glare at her.

Once she was home, she splashed water onto her face, looking into the mirror. Clear beads of liquid dripped from her hair onto the counter.

Sighing, she toweled herself off and sat down at her desk, taking out a quill and a piece of paper. It was time to contact Neera Vee again and inform her of her latest discovery.
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PostSubject: Re: Checkmate -The Dersite Prison   Tue May 21, 2013 9:24 pm

The Queen shook Point's hand once before withdrawing her hand back through the cold metal bars, meeting the other's bow with a nod of respect.

"I accept both your word and your apology. You did what you had to, there is no need for remorse now...."

When the second part of the soldier's request echoed boldly in the room, the Queen felt her heart freeze for the briefest of moments. The girl was asking so plainly to kill her Archagent, her kismesis.

Her expression hardened from slightly sympathetic to calculating once again. Giving the other a very brief smile, she laughed quietly.

"As for your...request. I cannot agree to it so easily. However, I will think about it while you plan to have me removed from this place. Just rest assured that when the time comes, and that troll is in it's grave, you will have my answer about the Archagent."

The Queen deliberated ending the conversation there, the girl who had just offered her freedom, asking such a high price for her Rebellion.

However, when she mentioned Dirk, the Queen softened, her thoughts traveling to happier times. "If you could, have your...informant...tell the prince that I am alive but that he must stay hidden? My freedom isn't worth the price of his capture."

Watching the girl turn away, the Queen mirrored her, facing the wall with a growing uneasiness.

"I hold you to your word Point. If luck or fate is with either of us, I hold you to your promises."

Hoping her voice followed the girl, the Queen closed her eyes, exhaling silently.

The quiet and utter helplessness descended upon the Royal with relish, leaving the Queen with her thoughts in the silence once again.
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