flung open the door to the room where Marcus, Zara,
Iyah, Callista, and Kat had taken refuge. She was
drunk. She was very drunk. She was holding a bottle
of wine in each hand ... this was not a night for
glasses. "Where is he? What is the bastard?" she
said angrily, as she looked towards everyone in the
room in rapid succession. She was wearing a barely
there nightgown, and could barely remain upright,
but the news that her husband had not only cheated
on her, but had not taken the necessarily
precautions was an unthinkable insult. Her entire
world was crashing and there was not enough wine in
the castle to save herself.
stood next to a very excited, extremely hyped up
Callista, her thoughts were elsewhere. She was very
concerned with what was going on inside the Duke's
suite between father and son. That man was the first
one she'd seen Mug feel such animosity for. It
practically was tangible when she informed him of
the news. She wished she could be there to support
her boyfriend...and to stop him from killing the
Duke, should it come to that. Her opinion of the
Duke and Duchess of Delaya would never change. They
had both shown her daughter a shred of humanity, but
it wasn't enough to unravel all the detest. Zara was
probably the one she disliked most out of the group
(excluding Kat), though she suspected that there was
no real love between the couple. The man was nearly
old enough to be her father. However, she'd been a
normal woman who married into nobility. That was the
position that she would find herself in should her
and Mug ever wed. Her conversational skills sank
like the titanic while worried plagued her mind.
benefit she had to give Zara was that she, also, was
kind to Callista. As soon as Callista warmed up to
her, they chattered away like the best of friends.
It didn't seem like some façade like the Duke and
Duchess. Zara and Callista talked about a range of
things. Topics were constantly changing from what
their favorite colors were to how absolutely
adorable nerfs were. The mother-to-be was happy to
play with the sweet girl. It made her realize how
much she anticipated the arrival of their babies.
She wanted to hold them, play with them, and nourish
them. Her parents hadn't excelled at being there for
her. While she loved them, they had always been very
focused on their Rebel activities. Her older brother
had raised her more than anyone else. She peered
over at Marcus, wearing a smile that was almost as
large as the child's. She was hopeful that Marcus'
half-brother would take the throne, thus leaving
them to the life that they had created. Everything
was coming along in the chalet. They'd even managed
to put together their daughter's crib. They had also
begun to prepare her room. In a matter of months,
Zara and Marcus would be parents.
passing so slow. Uncaring for her visitors, the
Commander began to pace. She was waiting someone to
burst into the room and inform them that Mug had
killed the Duke. Would she blame him? No. Would she
break him out? Of course. What was having a
girlfriend for!? She was ready to lash out at the
royal couple for appearing and added onto an already
long day. Mug had barely any time to recover before
he was thrust into this. Her irritation feelings
mounted when the door flung open and it *wasn't* Mug
who entered the room. Instead, it was Livia. She was
so drunk that you could smell it from the building
across the way. Even worse, she barely wore anything
at all. Iyah saw Zara cover Callista's eyes and,
naturally, block the girl from the drunk Duchess'
view. Commander Xergo was not fooling around. She
moved as swiftly as she would on the battlefield. In
the span of a heartbeat, she was across the room, in
front of Livia, with her hands locked around the
woman's frail wrists. "You're drunk." She told the
Duchess in a firm voice. One of her hands quickly
rolled from her wrist to one of the wine bottles. It
was easy to pry it from her grasp. She set it aside,
then repeated the process with the other bottle. She
always kept the woman within the grasp of one hand.
Now, her hands were locked around her wrists again.
The Commander then led the woman out of the room,
where she spoke to her. "Your husband's accidents
are not Mug's responsibility. If you want to have a
drunken rant, Julius' room is several doors over."
She was unaware that Mug was close by, likely
witnessing Iyah's mistreatment of the Duchess. "I
will *not* have you busting down Mug's door while he
recovers. While my *daughter* is present. Remember?
He got shot because some idiot was willing to hurt
my daughter to get to your husband. Show some
respect. I highly doubt this is the only time he's
been disloyal." Her hands remained locked around her
wrists. Iyah looked so calm externally, but
internally, she was very angry.
anyone touch her in the way that Iyah just did, and
the look on her face was one of anger and
embarrassment. There was no outburst on Livia's
part, rather she sunk down into herself, fully aware
of how she was behaving, despite her intoxication.
"I am sorry," she said, as she looked to the ground
in shame. If she weren't being held she likely would
have collapsed to the ground. "I never thought him
disloyal ... *never*," she complained bitterly,
before unexpectedly collapsing onto Iyah's chest.
She began to cry uncontrollable, revealing her
vulnerability and pain, as her husband's death was
now being marked with scandal. "I cannot go to him,
and any of my complaints would fall on deaf ears, or
add to his ill health," she said, as her arms
wrapped around the teenage Rebel, squeezing her for
dear life. "Cherish what you have, because you do
not know how long you have it," she said, before
pulling her head up to look at her. Her violet eyes
were purging years, ruining her heavy makeup that
was designed to conceal her age. "Both of you," she
said, as she looked past Iyah to Zara. Privately,
she was jealous of the two young women and their
budding, passionate relationships. The flame had
gone out of her marriage decades ago.
stood firm all up until the point when Livia began
to crumble into her arms. She could feel the old
woman's weight shifting to her body. Iyah couldn't
let go, no matter how badly she wanted to. If the
woman hit the ground, she could break her frail,
bird-like bones. She didn't know what to do. Indeed,
she felt *slightly* bad for Livia. There was the
stress of a dying spouse paired in with the pain
that he'd cheated on her over three decades ago,
then kept it hidden like it was nothing at all. Iyah
loosely wrapped her arms around the old woman,
patting her back. "You should take your own advice."
The Commander said, looking down into the woman's
eyes. "The end is too close to hold grudges. Think
of all those moments when your husband made you
happy. I'm sure they exist. Don't let this tarnish
everything. He wasn't completely horrible. Not to
you, anyway." She carefully led Livia to a bench
where she lowered her down to sit. It was a horrible
situation for Livia, honestly. Iyah would have been
demolished if the same had happened to her. "You
should rest, Livia." The Commander advised, taking a
step away from her.
relieved to have been taken to the bench, as
standing was becoming a difficult task for the old
woman even when sober. "I suppose I am behaving
quite foolishly," she said, as she ran her hands
over her lap to flatten her skirt. Her appearance,
despite all that was transpiring, was still of great
importance to her. "So which one of you is going to
succeed me at Duchess?" she asked, getting right to
the point immediately, as she looked from Iyah to
Xergo. "I find it slightly bothersome that something
I have been proud to be all my life is no longer
something anyone wants," she mused, bitterly, as her
eyes bounced from Iyah to Zara repeatedly. "I do not
want that Kuati, Nona Jast, to be Duchess. I do not
trust my nephew," she said, hoping that *someone*
... *anyone* ... other than Gaius would step up and
claim the throne.
caught Iyah by surprise. She was still trying to
process the idea of *Duke Mug*. Her mind hadn't made
it to *Duchess Iyah* yet. The blood seemed to drain
from her face. Suddenly, the Commander was weak
kneed to the point where she had to sit next to the
Duchess. She sighed. Mug hadn't even asked her to
marry him. While she knew they had a future
together, they hadn't really seriously discussed
marriage. They hadn't even talked about him
potentially becoming the Duke of Delaya. Iyah fell
silently into her own head.
in the doorway where she had watched everything go
down. This situation had been weighing on her and
Marcus. As the Duke's condition worsened, so did the
pregnant woman's fear of actually becoming the
Duchess of Delaya. She leaned on her husband for
support. She looked forward to retreating from the
city back to the icy seclusion of their home. "Livia...
I know you want to see something happen here with
Marcus and I ... but... We're happier in the north.
Family is our top priority. When the twins arrive,
we both want to spend time with them. I can't see
any situation where becoming Duke and Duchess would
make us happier than we are now." She explained,
glancing upward at Marcus.
half-listened to Zara. She was asking herself one
question: Could Duke Mug be a good thing? Her eyes
darted down the hallway. They needed to talk.
walked into the overcrowded suite, having waited
outside to take a moment to speak with Mug in
private. As he stepped into the room, his eyes
widened, and he felt slight overwhelmed by just how
many women were in the room at the same time. He
took a step back, jokingly, before his face lit up.
"It looks like everyone is here but Claudius and
Htaere," he explained, as he moved his head around
the room, manually counting each individual present.
He took a step towards, Iyah, and dropped to one
knee in front of her. He felt a twinge in his lower
back as his muscles popped from the maneuver, which
he immediately regretted. "Your grace," he said to
Iyah, as he placed a kiss of obedience on her young
palm. It was his way of letting her know ... of
letting everyone know ... that Mug had made his
family reunion of the century, huh? Hopefully no
more bastards of Julius Rodney came creeping out.
Zara had found the news to be shocking. While he was
a spiteful old man that she didn't like, she had
assumed that he and Livia had something like love
between them. She was happy to see that Marcus had
rejoined the party. His presence made all the crazy
moments less crazy. Her eyes followed him through
the room until he dropped to one knee in front of
the Rebel commander. He made it crystal clear that
the nightmare was over for them. The growing worry
of their future had lifted from her shoulder. Duke
Marcus and Duchess Zara would never happen.
Everything she wanted was happening. Marcus could
continue to have a relationship with his parents for
the rest of their days. The Rodney name would stay
noble. Julius would die with something resembling
peace in his heart. With tears in her eyes, she let
go of all that stress. It was over. Over.
Iyah, on the
other hand, was experiencing some very different
emotions. She stared down into Marcus' eyes, clearly
several planets away. Mug *wanted* to be Duke? He
would be the greatest Duke in the history of Delaya.
She knew this. She knew that it was essential for
him to become Duke. If he had decided otherwise,
then she would have persuaded him to become the
Duke. Mug was a good person. He deserved this. She
exhaled slowly. "Please, stand. Where's Mug?" It
seemed that Kat had become the momentary baby sitter
while Iyah swallowed all this new information. She
stood up, looking down at Livia. "It looks like I'll
be succeeding you." She announced.
"Mug is right
here," Mug announced, as he walked awkwardly into
the room with an expression looking like he had just
been hit by a speeder bus. There were so many people
in the room that he thought perhaps now was not the
time, but he could not wait. As his half-brother
Marcus rose, it was he who dropped to a knee in
front of Iyah. He was trembling and there looked to
be a bit of cold sweat upon his forehead. He
imagined doing this alone ... somewhere private ...
but he knew that if he did not marry her *before*
Julius died it was very likely he would not be
allowed to as Duke. Fearing for an arranged marriage
to a noblewoman, he used the time to summon a
specimen from the House of Rodney crown jewels. He
nervously raised the ring, anicnet and gaudy, to the
young Commander who captured his heart. "Iyah, will
you marry me?" he asked, as he looked up to her with
endless hope with his innocent Hazel eyes. It was
perhaps an awful thing to put her on the spot like
he had just done, but his desire for this to happen
overcame his better judgment.
look good. His face seemed pale. He was walking
around and over exerting himself. He needed his
rest, Iyah thought. It was time to shoo away all
their uninvited visitors so that Mug could recover.
Mug completely blindsided her with his marriage
proposal, though it wasn't a bad blindsiding. She
watched him drop to his knee in front of her. It was
enough to shake the collected Commander. Iyah and
Mug had quickly bonded with one another. He improved
her life...he improved her too. Thanks to his big
heart, Callista had become their daughter. She was
there, witnessing the whole thing through her teary
blue eyes. The little girl had never seen anything
like it. Iyah knew what catapulted him to do this
right now. There was no reassurance that they'd be
able to stay together once he became Duke. Iyah was
ready to reveal who her family was, or do *anything*
to make sure nothing took Mug away from her. He had
it all figured out. His proposal was beautiful and
fulfilling. She didn't think about all the strangers
around them. She thought about those that mattered;
Mug and Callista.
The ring was
gaudy, ridiculous, and *precious*. Tears streamed
down Iyah's cheeks. Her emotions were flung into
overdrive so quickly that she couldn't stop herself.
"*Yes*." The word dropped from her lips just as her
knees fell from the bench onto the floor directly in
front of him. She brushed passed the ring, instead
embracing him in a tight, loving hug. She could hear
Callista's little happy squeals. People were
cheering. Iyah was crying. "I *will* marry you." She
whispered into his ear. "I love you, Mug." Losing
him wasn't an option. He'd locked them in for the
long haul. Iyah was so happy for that. She kissed
him. Now she *really* wanted other people to start
filing out of the room.
silently as the title seemed to pass down to her
husband's son who was not of her loin and it ate at
her soul. "Congratulations," she said, politely,
before rising back to her feet. She took a look at
the ring, recognizing it instantly as one of the
rings going back to the formation of the Duchy.
"Hanson, help me to my speeder," she said,
instructing the guardswoman to abandon Callista, and
attend her, as she waited impatiently by the door.
"My husband will be so pleased," she said to the
bastard Mug, before she was led off to cry herself
to sleep with another bottle of wine. She made a
deliberate point of *not* saying goodnight to her
Zara's hand, and squeezed it reassuringly, before
turning his head to whisper into her ear. "We're
free," he said to her, quietly so that the young
could would not hear their joy. "Congratulations,"
he said, as he moved towards Iyah. "Welcome to the
family, Mya," he said, getting her name wrong, as
they had only just met. He took his right hand and
slapped it on Mug's back, forgetting his wound, as
he congratulated him also. "In my earlier days I
would have thrown you an exciting bachelor party,
but I am a husband, and an expectant father, so now
all I can offer is a game of Sabacc and Corellian
ale," he said, as he looked towards Zara, and
offered her an impish smile. The burden of
responsibility had *finally* been lifted from him,
and he could now retire to the north to be with Zara,
the children, and their beloved sea monster in peace
Mug could not
resist himself, and as he rose he plated a
passionate kiss upon his young fiance that very
nearly swept her off her feet. He even used tongue
in front of his adopted daughter, half-brother, and
sister-in-law. He had lost control and the
impulsiveness had take over him. Almost as soon the
kiss broke, Marcus slapped him, and caused him to
let out a yelp of pain. "Thank you ... thank you
everyone," he said, as he suddenly felt overwhelmed,
staggering backwards and taking a seat. What a
whirlwind of events had brought him to this moment.
Father ... fiancé ... heir apparant.