Fool Me Once
Her father’s true return had been something of a blessing and curse. Time had not been kind to either of them and the quiet conversation the two would have proceeding the spite-filled report on her mother, more civil in nature. His silence hadn’t reassured the Princess. There were ways to gauge the man’s mood in his habits, but in the following days he expressed little of his ‘normal’ routine. Again, Adaria was sat on the sidelines and forced to watch, guess at which road her father might veer onto.

Restless, she took her leave of the estate. A change of scenery needed to clear her head. Everyone was preoccupied elsewhere, concerned with the plot going on in the dark, to notice another shadow gathering, splintering off. It had been her plan long before Alfred ceremoniously dropped that box into their excuse for a family dinner.

She was a number of cups in when the melody and beat played by the bard caught her attention. Her body moved on its own accord, turning towards the musicians with a sway of her hips, words of the song falling from her lips with a slight smirk. There was a playful play of looks back and forth between musician and royal, the latter animating with her hands and posture that oozed confidence. She knew this song. Intimately.

“... I could burn your motherfuckin’ village to the ground..”

ooc: Burn your Village - Song
Alfred felt like every way the family turned it was one thing after another, and there was little he himself could do to help, beyond being an ear or a shoulder. When the news hit that Frankie was no more, it took everything that Alfred had to keep his own shit together so that he could be there for the family. It was usually fairly easy for Alfred to stuff his own feelings down and be there for theirs, but Frankie was like a son to Alfred and that made it all much harder.

Initially when Alfred went to speak to Adaria, she wasn’t where he’d expected her to be, though he’d looked after Frankie enough in his lifetime that finding Adaria was no real challenge. When he finally spotted her in a tavern. Suddenly it hit him hard what he was about to do. He took some deep breaths to steady himself. Fuck it was hard. She looked so, he wasn’t sure the word he wanted, only that she’d yet to hear the news, and her life would change forever once she did.

He moved through the crowd, not really paying attention to who he might be bumping into as he made his way to Adaria, once there, he heard the words that escaped her lips and sighed. He tried to be funny but it was hard living under the weight of the news he was about to give, but he didn’t know how else to break the silence between them.

And what about the other villagers that live there. He tried to smile, but it just wouldn’t come, the omen of bad news etched on his face, in the way he carried himself. It would take a fool not to notice something was wrong.
Adaria’s eyes closed, her body moved with the song, the lyrics falling easily from her throat. Just like her parents, the princess had followed in their footsteps, performing for the crowded tavern as if she belonged there. Though the alcohol imbued and mood of the young woman had her flaunting, exaggerating her turns and articulation of the songs rebellious nature.

She caught Alfred’s entrance during a turn, ignoring him until the song ended. The bard would draw the princess into his side, briefly muttering into her ear before Adaria pulled away. Her posture straightened, and while her words to him couldn’t be heard over the bustling crowd of the tavern, his face perfectly painted that she had put him firmly in his place. The man’s pallor paled from a warm deep tone to ghostly white. Achieved without breaking that innocent doe-like appearance splayed across her face.

Turning swiftly on her heel, she’d skip off across the floor to Alfred, tension rippling up her spine with the look across his face. His expression didn’t match his tone, causing her brow to narrow, eyes squinting as she appraised his stiff posture.

“Small talk is for children…. What happened?” Her chest tightened painfully, hands instantly curling into fists though kept at her side for the moment. What new disaster had befallen them now?
This was a burden Alfred wouldn’t wish on anyone. Looking into Adaria’s eyes, breaking this news to her was the last thing in the world that he wanted to do, but what choice did he have. He just knew that he had to break the news to her before the rumours spread, he owed it to her to hear it from him. He took a deep steadying breath.

It’s not good. I’m afraid it’s your father. He paused and looked around, this wasn’t the place he imagined breaking the news to her, but he also didn’t imagine she’d agree to go somewhere else while she waited for him to tell her the rest of the news.

He’s dead Adaria, there’s no easy way to say it I’m afraid, but there it is. Of course, he’d been dead before, and he’d turned up alive and minus his memories. As much as Alfred wished that would be the case again, he just felt in his heart that wasn’t the case.
The sharp blues of her eyes watched him intently, hanging on to every word while the rest of her senses focused on his bodily cues.

He’s dead Adaria…

Whatever else he said failed to register. The coolness in her eyes turned almost glassy and then froze their blue hues into glowing chips. The Princess strode forward with speed, clutching the old servant by the neckline and shoving the two into a darker corner. Her breathing deepened, slowed in an effort to keep a semblance of calm, though her shaking hand hadn’t seemed to got the memo.

“Tell. Me. Everything, you know.” The clipped, deliberate cold tone of her voice left no room for permission. Her free hand came to the man’s temple, thumb pressing firmly as Adaria willed her power into being. Delving into his mind, she’d search for the truth. See for herself what he saw, heard, if this was reality or another lie to enact further discord. Her father’s words to her, she had kept in mind, along with everything else the man had taught her, entrusted her with. Court chaos, with fact. Not stupidity.

“Show me the truth,” hissed through her lips. "What... who exactly is responsible for this."
Alfred was old enough and experienced enough to keep his cool, he understood it wasn’t an easy thing to hear, after all that’s happened so he wasn’t going to hold her temper against her. His face was a combination of sorrow and sympathy. After all, he’d basically raised Frankie from a toddler, back when he joined the family after leaving Orlais. He was certainly more a parent to Frankie than his mother had ever been. It was hard keeping it together, but he owed it to Adaria to keep his cool, the last thing they needed was for both of them to lose control in the heat of the moment.

Adaria, it won’t bring him back…. He winced slightly at the pressure, taking a few steadying breaths, he didn’t want her to see the things, but he knew he wasn’t strong enough to keep her out of his mind. She was bound to see every detail, totally unsensored. He wanted to protect her from it, but there was only so much he could do. Images flashed through his mind, Eularia, Elgar’nan, all the things he wanted so badly to protect Adaria from, but she wasn’t a kid any more, not really, and she certainly wouldn’t be one after learning these truths. As the images flashed through his mind, a tear slid down his cheek. Adaria…. He pleaded quietly.
His voice barely registered while she wretched her desire from his mind. She would see everything. Every action, motion, thought, and conversation overheard by her father’s most loyal servant. Too often, people sought to coddle her, protect her from the worst of things when nothing more was fraught with deepening resentment. Just because she was younger, afflicted with the same condition her father had, did not mean she was equally bound to his fate. Yet nothing would prepare her for the scene unfolding in her mind's eye.

Her expression froze, her autonomy soon following, adapting the most rigid posture. Air in her chest seemed to evaporate, her breath caught, almost stolen. The silence between them was palpable, but soon broken by the joyful and momentary naivety of its patrons filtering through. How naïve and unaware they all were that the ground beneath was about to shift entirely. The eerie quiet that followed the young woman encroached like a growing thunderstorm, a sudden thickness, and an increase in humidity became increasingly noticeable. In the same moment Adaria dropped her physical and mental hold over him, her attention shifted to face the direction of her father’s ashes.

Words failed her, the expression across her face unreadable, caught between grappling with reality and dismissing her own investigation. It was no-one's fault what happened next. The man’s laugh merely pitched louder among his and his friends, sharing a joke that she, perhaps, would have enjoyed once upon a time. Whatever incited it only managed to sever what restraint the Princess maintained.

In the echo of her heartbeat, the blues of her eyes changed to hollow pools. The room’s activity froze as wills were surrendered with the rolling out of her command. A ripple of confused panic echoed out, glances cast around and at each other until settling on the mage who shuffled into the centre of the room. Fists clenched at her sides and with laboured breaths, Adaria did her best to will back the pain. Her hands shook with the effort, but to no avail. She’d scream, yell her frustration and pain into the air.

The answer, a bolt of crackling lightning from the darkening sky above. It burst through the roof, splitting the flagstones near her feet.