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Two Queens

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War is not a popular topic in Sai Herthe.

It occurs, yes. There are some tales of maidkind's heroic squirmishes, celebrated particularly in Amazonia, as unavoidable tragedies of fate that lead to destruction, devastation, and loss. The more West one goes, the more war is portrayed as vulgar, unfeminine acts of brute force. The tales surrounding it focus mainly on the stupidity and ignorance that led the women to meet such a terrible end, leading such media to be popularized as mainly ’penny dreadfulls’ or ’Yellow papers’.

Kinnies are seldom about war. Most of the entertainment industry chooses to focus on the maids who avert such events, by showing her wit and decorum to the best of her ability by means of spywork, diplomacy, and trusting in the right kind of forgiveness. To be a spy is to be dangerous, but also to have the power to keep the peace.

Trent in particular adores tales of spying; Many a young Brunette has marveled over the yellow pages of Jane Bond and Mata Hari Moore. She may even tune in to the radio serial of the ‘The Thin Maid’, or bring a friend to see the kinnied version of ‘Black Posies’ featuring Lara Vine, so that they may enjoy the Trentish view of Kadoria, and giggle over how sweetly the Blonde Miss Vine comforts and seduces various high-ranking Brunettes. Blondes generally shy away from that sort of thing, turn their noses up, narrow their lips ever-so-slightly, and call the experience ‘Very Mahogany’, which means ‘Good for Brunettes, I think, but not for me.’

Luckily, Queen Elsbeth of Quirinelle was no longer a child. She knew full well that a grown woman had the advantage of viewing any film she liked, as long as it had not been forbidden, and was not consumed in an unseemly manner. One just had to find the proper way to go about it, generally in the name of education.

For example, while entertaining an overpowering Brunette. She allowed herself to lean back just a little in her seat, enjoying the view of Miss Vine’s latest love interest, Andress Nau, dressed in full Arcadian uniform.

“Oh, Miss Nau, you mustn’t.” Miss Vine fluttered her eyelashes, gasping as Miss Nau tied her dress-strap together, camera lingering over her shoulders, capturing the firm delight of her long, beautiful neck.

Elsbeth cast an eye towards her companion during a brief flash of light. Queen Francesca Of Kadoria had not stirred. Her legs were close together, hands folded neatly in her lap - The very image of a soldiering Kadorienne, sworn to guard the empire for as long as her contract lasted. Even her clothes were smartly tailored, matching the drawn-back hair, fastened in a braided crown devoid of hairclips, ribbons, or the conspicuous bobby-pins so favoured by the frivolous Brunettes of Infra-Qirinelle. Elsbeth found her mysterious, like a moss-covered stone hiding a deep, magical secret.

The film ended with Miss Vine riding into the sunset. Francesca stood at the first sight of the credits — inadvertently showing off how neatly her skirt fit around her hips— but soon noticed that standing ovations were no Quirinelle custom, and sat straight back down.

Elsbeth didn’t blame her - Of all the ways to resolve diplomatic incidents, “How about we watch a film to wind down?” probably ranked very low on the list of Kadorian Ways To Resolve a Conflict. But the method was with Elsbeth; Kadoria’s forces were fully to blame. They had harvested several fields bordering on Quirinelle, based on a missed memo over the border having temporarily shifted to make up for the poor harvest of such crops in the neighbouring province. The generals were getting nowhere, outside of insincere apologies and icy politeness. Nothing had happened to shift the situation in weeks, and so, Elsbeth herself had finally extended an offer for a meeting with Francesca to have tea and propose a solution. She was not unfamiliar with the monarch - They had shared a few a diplomatic dinners together. Francesca was quite a lovely girl, really - Long, brown hair, dusty rose lipstick, and a proud regimental bearing that made Elsbeth feel as if her heart would start marching in tune.

Francesca had arrived as a true Kadorienne, very proud, and unwilling to admit to fault. She had presented the papers with an amicable, sincere nod, exhibiting just a hint of haughtyness in the way she recited the document. Well, she was a Brunette, and an army one at that. But despite Queen Elsbeth’s Blonde understanding, there was yet a piece of the Tigre in her. A weakness was a weakness, and as a Blonde, she was more attuned to handle the Aristasian condition. Some gentle reminding of Francesca’s place had resulted in more ice, and eventually a fist banged - Banged, upon the diplomatic tea table, shocking the nerves of the Blonde palace maids.

Elsbeth suggested that they take tea separately. She consulted with the Matri, before returning to invite the Kadorian delegation to watch the latest Trentish spy Kinny. Elsbeth led Francesca out of the castle cinema, delighting in the the look of confusion on her face. Once they were both in the hallway, she glanced down at Francesca’s arm, made a soft ‘Hmmm’, and smiled as she was offered the Brunette’s solemn duty: escorting a Blonde on her arm.
Francesca’s skin was cold, and goosebumps formed under Elsbeth’s fingers. Her lips curled with enjoyment, and she , gently nudged Francesca towards a parlour near the elevator.

“Your highness, about yesterday’s incident.” Elsbeth said, pressing her fingertips more firmly into the curve of Francesca’s arm.
Francesca stopped and froze. She nodded, casting down long, feathery eyelashes, cooly reverting to the tigerish professionalism of a servicemaid. “Yes. We were hoping that a donation of wares to those in need would suffice to soothe the wounds, if only for as long as it takes for the army to rebuild the fields. I will personally send my best engineers to make sure that they receive the best possible amendment.”

“It is a very, very good and thoughtful idea.” Elsbeth said. “It will really help the farmers.” She kept gazing into Francesca’s eyes, mouth widening ever so slightly. “Matri Theodosia would probably agree. She was very firm on Sucri’s being wronged, as this endeavor of love was twisted into potential conflict.” Elsbeth kept smiling, like a good Blonde was wont to do in the face of just about anything.

Francesca’s eyes widened at the mention of first a priestess, then a deity. “Very well," she said. "We will single out the perpetrators, and send them to the head temple in Romanova for correction - “ Francesca stopped as Elsbeth made one soft shake of her head, feigning a slight frown.

“I am very sorry, but the Matri was quite firm on the matter,” Elsbeth said.

Francesca’s face fell. She glanced aside, frowning in a very undignified manner, before dragging her smile back by the corners of her mouth. Her unsmiling eyes scanned the corridor, possibly to see if this were a dream or some strange hallucination.
Poor little darling - But so pretty. Elsbeth rearranged her gloves in excitement. Seeing the strong Kadorienne shackled by the veneer of propriety tickled something deep within her, heating her cheeks, making her pulse quicken with the desire to bestow adoration upon a loved subject. She looked forward to solving the Kadorian mystery, to slide open the sacred box that was Queen Francesca, and see what lay hidden at her centre.

"Well, shall I lead you to the temple?" Francesca asked. The lightness in her words did not hide the implication in 'I' and 'you'. Judging by Elsbeth's momentary glare, the message had not gone unnoticed.

The temple was not far. Down the elevator, past the courtyard, and through the holy garden, Elsbeth happily holding onto Francesca’s arm. People did steal the occasional glance; Two royals acting like sisters were a view to behold, inspiring hope and confidence in both of their abilities. Elsbeth knew this. Francesca probably did, too, although her flushed cheeks told a story of self-impressed shame and worry. Very endearing and emblematic of her need for chastisement. Correction would soon strike that out of her.

The Matri greeted them outside of the temple. Francesca curtseyed shakily;. Elsbeth subtly moved her arm to steady the poor dear, who was oddly stiff and startled, though her gait fought not to betray it. Francesca made a silently motion to the Matri. The door opened, the two stepped inside, away from the eyes of the castle.

The Temple was a sacred space, open only to those confirmed by the Matri’s loving gaze. White, healing light cascaded down from the glass-covered ceiling, accentuated by the floral design of stained glass panels. Two long pools filled with knee-deep water cut through the pristine, tile-covered floor, leading the eye to the altar. The bottom half of the large table-shaped slab of marble was adorned by Art Neo-style figures posing in submission to Sucri, the light of the hearth, the Blonde whose bed had room for all the Brunette worry in the world.

While the Kadorienne trembled as she stepped down the marble aisle, she had nothing to fear in regards to her reputation: Worshipping together was not uncommon in an amicable relationship. Elsbeth let go of her arm, taking the lead. It was perhaps only a thing of ritual, but she knew that it would make Francesca’s cheeks redder still. A grown Brunette did not take correction from a Blonde, it was an act reserved for unruly children, or couples so isolated that none could be found to deal with a Brunette unable to carry herself in the presence of a Blonde.

As they reached the altar Elsbeth placed her hand on the smooth marble, shivering at how firm and cool it felt against the palm of her hand, freed from the silk gloves resting in her pocket. She sat down, gazing at Francesca. The poor darling looked as if the air had left her, her eyes were cast down, and her toes were curling ever-so-slightly inwards. ”Won’t you look at me?” Elsbeth asked, fluttering her eyelashes in a way that usually drove other girls wild.

Francesca swallowed, lifting her head to meet Elsbeth's gaze. Her eyes were very soft and evasive, a frightened deer cornered by Diana.

”You’re still on both feet," Elsbeth said. "Did anyone ask for your strength?”
Francesca’s voice was low and meek, no more than that of a Trentish girl. ”No, Your Highness.”

”Miss.”

”No, Miss Elsbeth.”

”Where does your strength belong, then?”

Francesca took a deep breath, lips twitching. ”At your feet, miss.” The deep growl in her voice told a different story, one that hungered for power and selfishness. Elsbeth was more convinced than ever over this being the correct thing to do, for both Kadoria and Quirinelle, lest Queen Francesca be driven to desperate measures.

"Well then." Elsbeth smiled, looking up at Francesca with an expectant gaze.

Francesca's fists clenched. "My maids will attend to your every-" Her voice trembled slightly.

Elsbeth's smile deepened. She raised one eyebrow, because everyone knew that armies, maids, or kingdoms were nothing in the house of the angels; All maids were equal in standing, answering only to the orders of the Matri. Francesca's lips parted, she opened her mouth, her fists unclenched. Finally, her gaze hit the ground. Her knees buckled. She knelt lower and lower, until the top of her forehead touched the ground in front of Elsbeth's pink laquered flats. 

”Good girl.” Elsbeth whispered, running her hand over the top of Francesca's tightly drawn-back hair. ”But I am being quite foolish. Calling you good, when you have yet to earn that reputation.”

A tiny gasp sounded from below Elsbeth’s knees, sending a hot flush over her cheeks. Elsbeth reached down to run her fingers over Francesca's hair, pressing just lightly enough to remind her of her place.

”Stand up." Elsbeth commanded. "Remove your skirt.”

Francesca did as she was told, shaking as her long, toned arms moved to unzip the side of her skirt, drawing it off to reveal a satin slip trimmed with white lace. How garish for a soldier - Probably the work of some Blonde court advisor. A slit in the back of the slip gave a glimpse of brown, sensible garters holding up nylon stockings that showcased Francesca's solid, muscular legs. The contrast only made Francesca more beautiful as she heeded Elsbeth’s motions, climbing onto the marble, kneeling like an orphaned fawn. A pat over Elsbeth’s thigh, and Elsbeth had the Kadorienne queen right where she wanted her. Francesca's girdle, warmed by the heat of a thousand marches, fit snugly against Elsbeth’s legs.

Elsbeth sighed with delight, reverntly folding back the slip, gently pressing against Francesca's firm, bare thighs. They filled the stocking out like the finest souffle, She couldn’t resist plucking at the garters, delighting in the way Francesca’s leg stiffened at the shock.

”In the name of Dea Sucri, I hereby cleanse thee.” Elsbeth chanted, gently smoothing Francesca’s hair. This was not meant to be cruel, it was a way to release the past, make things anew.

She lifted her hand to mete out the punishment, planting several firm swats at Francesca’s thigh. Francesca didn’t stir, although Elsbeth’s rubbing her thumb over the spot made Francesca shudder ever-so-slightly. It sent a cool sense of rapture through Elsbeth's nerves, making her feel perfectly in tune with the marble alter and the power it represented. She would right this wrong; correct this mistake, cleanse her ward of a childish sense of entitlement that threatened to ruin the harmony of Sai Herthe. She pressed gently at the spot in between swats, and was rewarded with a short gasp. This made Elsbeth wonder about the rest of Francesca, if there were more to her vocabulary than just calm Brunette command. The idea that that Elsbeth had managed to touch something made her even more determined to root out the evil within, stirring her hand to swat harder, faster, and finally fire off three rapid strikes in secession, before letting her hand rest while she recovered her breath. Francesca's form loosened over her knees, melting against her thighs. It brought on a deep sense of satisfaction; causing Elsbeth's heart to swell with the anticipation of task worth doing.

”In the name of Dea Sucri, thy sin is being cleansed. Thou has taken three swipes, fifteen more shall fall.” Elsbeth mumbled the chant, before raising her hand again, striking Francesca’s backside hard enough to leave red marks.
The Brunette took them willingly, without bracing herself, every strike causing her to pant through clenched teeth. Her body grew warmer against Elsbeth’s thighs, sending a rush. So rigid in the field, but ever so pliable and willing to submit to proper chastisement in the name of love.

By the time the last stroke hit her posterior, Francesca had grown soft and pliant against Elsbeth’s hand, relaxing into the depths of her saviour's loving arms, marked with a red-hot spot spreading over her thigh.

”In the name of Dea Sucri, the sin has been cleansed. Thou are now free from thy burdens.” Elsbeth whispered. She smoothed the slip back over the mark, caressing the place with long, languid motions. Francesca lay easy over her thighs, gently inhaling with the long, rejuvenated gasps of one brought back from the brink. Silence swept through the temple, cleaning out the very last aires of what could have once been called defiance.

”For amity and harmony, I welcome this lesson.” Francesca said, the faintest quiver in her voice. "Thank you, Miss Elsbeth."

Elsbeth gave her permission to rise. She looked a mess: A stray hair over her brow, jacket askew, skirt rumbled - inevitable after being corrected by a full-grown Blonde. Elsbeth had to help Francesca to draw her skirt on and adjust her uniform, a service she did partially out of duty - this ’solution’ would remain a state secret - but mostly out of desire to savour the trembling weakness of the stately Francesca, resting in her arms like a tired kitten.

They left the temple hand-in-hand, Elsbeth leading Francesca in a custom that looked to be as if between two good friends, a manoeuvre of possession that every good diplomat knew how to harness. They attended dinner, the solution was proposed by Francesca, and Elsbeth demurred and pretended to have known nothing of it prior, though she did let a smile slip when she noticed Francesca wincing on the hard seat of her chair. From now on, Francesca would no longer know the anger that drove kingdoms to ruin. Instead, she would know the kindness that aids diplomacy, and restores harmony to hearts of maidkind.