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Posts posted by roboblu

  1. 47 minutes ago, Witches Brew said:


    So in the Dali topic, @roboblu mentioned an Apprenticeship over at the Tankred house, and I think that's actually a cool idea for Merida, maybe not right now of course, but once things get settled, it may eventually lead up to an alliance, or maybe a marriage lmfao 


    Let me know what you think~ 

    Yeah, I’m all for it! At some point @Grubbistch mentioned an apprenticeship at Tankred as well. We’ll take all of your children. Give them to us. 

  2. "Grandfather." Valentine corrected him this time to save herself the trouble of keeping up a facade; Hector's death was difficult to talk about on its own. She wasn't in a place where every wayward mention of a father could simply roll off her shoulders, but, still, the interjection surprised her. Seldom did the florist open her mouth to interrupt, even if her one-word attempt was spoken gently, softly, almost like a suggestion as opposed to an immutable fact. A small seed of pride took root in her chest, and she carried it safe within her as Ampelos continued his proposition. 

    If Ameplos didn't carry such a serious weight in his eyes, she might have taken him as a comedian. As it were, she simply sipped her tea and quietly considered his plans, red brows furrowed over her nose in deep concentration. "What you're proposing may take months," she finally sighed, blue eyes wandering between his face and the garden behind him- Valentine had a habit of avoiding eye contact when she was thinking. "Genetic modification is a natural process in plants. It takes generations to select for the simplest of traits, like color, or height, or ..." She trailed off, studying one of her favorite plants in the garden: a pale pink peony whose blooms were still intact despite the changing seasons. Her conservation magic was keeping it preserved; her own two hands were changing the laws of nature on a daily basis. 

    "I suppose it could be done if we can isolate the specific gene sequence in bamboo, and devise a way to introduce it to other strains. Yes, it could feasibly work ... It would have to be an extremely delicate spell, and reliable across multiple species ... And I'd have to be able to teach it to other magic-users, potentially those without an aptitude for floral magic ..." At this point, young Valentine was talking to herself, resting her chin in one palm as her mind strove to connect the dots. What she knew about plants had come straight from her grandfather and the many textbooks and field journals he brought back from his travels. She wasn't sure she was the most qualified person for the task, but she'd be lying if she said the prospect didn't excite her. 

    Valentine's blue eyes fell to the stranger before her, considering him. "Ampelos, your project will demand most of my attention for the foreseeable future, and I have a business to run." A part of Valentine shriveled up at the use of such strong, direct language. Regardless, she continued. "What will the Floracle take away from this endeavor?"

  3. After experiencing the destruction wrought by Whispernight, trekking to the floating Necropolis Isles, and, most of all, playing slave to the sheer tediousness of the food industry in Hodra, few things worried Khaalida El Sayad- certainly not the wight walking toward her with quick, hungry steps. Khaalida gradually brought her horse to a stop, considering the unfortunate creature from her perch. It looked fresh, perhaps a recent victim of Whispernight, with its skin and clothes still mostly intact. A deep gash in its forearm was the only sign of decay; perhaps the victim had torn its flesh during the throes of death. Still, to Khaalida, it was unmistakably dead. What telepathic powers she possessed were for the sole purpose of identifying and ushering the deceased into the cool waters of death, and her consciousness had marked this figure as a wight long before it had come into view. 

    She took a long glance around the area, scanning for other potential attackers. There were only a few of the undead variety, though her radar was noticeably less reliable with living beings. How far had this creature walked to reach this point? Was there a decimated village lying just beyond her scope? By her own estimation, Khaalida was not an hour from her final destination, the city of Lyria; she did not anticipate to encounter any wights so close to the a bustling metropolis, and it put her task into perspective. The Lorean king had contracted her to address the growing number of undead in his domain, and, given the number of shambling things she had laid to rest in the past five days of travel, the kingdom had taken Whispernight by the horns. Frankly, Khaalida would not be surprised to find the city itself in ruins, swarming with undead creatures of the most horrifying variety. It mattered very little to her whether the dead lay outside or within the city; as the sole survivor of a long line of necromancers, it was her life's calling to seek and relieve the undead from their suffering. She had been following the stench of Whispernight for some time now, spurred by the destruction of her own town in the Cold Mountains. 

    It would not be difficult to lay this soul to rest from horseback, she thought, her angled, black eyes narrowing as her horse sidestepped the creature's first feeble swing. The mare's movements were ginger, not panicked; she had been reared to withstand the presence of the undead, and trusted her rider to keep her from harm. After a moment of consideration, Khaalida hefted a light sigh, and swung down from the saddle in one fluid motion. Over the course of her 28 years of life, she still hadn't overcome a soft spot for the recently deceased, and wanted to pay this wight the respect it deserved. A second shambling figure emerged from the shadows, and a third followed close on its heels; they were both as fresh as the first. 

    A few calculated, evasive steps were all it took for Khaalida to arrange the wights in a favorable formation around her. Her arms, six in total, unfolded gracefully like the petals of a lotus flower. Two of her hands held scimitars as a last resort, but the remaining four hands held mirrors with handles of different materials. The first mirror, held in her right upper hand, possessed a handle of petrified wood; this she swung before the nearest wight, instantly pacifying it as it caught a glimpse of its reflection. When the thing was snugly caught in her grasp, she fluidly transitioned its gaze into the second mirror, whose handle was crafted of ivory. In her mind's third eye, she met the creature in the swift river of death, ushering for it to follow her. The other two spirits joined her in short order, this dance of mirrors beckoning them forward, into the realm of the deceased. When at last she had all three wights locked into the depths of the fourth mirror, whose handle was crafted of stone, the four beings stood at the brink of death, the waters rushing past their feet, pushing them on through. 

    With an expenditure of will, the necromancer urged the three spirits forward, and they flowed down the river into waters unknown. 

    Opening her eyes, Khaalida saw the three bodies crumpled on the ground before her. With a twirl of the wrists, the mirrors were tucked into their individual pockets, reflective surface in to avoid any wandering eyes from an embarrassing traipse into death. The scimitars, too, slid neatly into sheaths at both sides of her hips. Then she stooped, closed each corpse's eyes, and began the process of building a small funeral pyre to burn the bodies. It was her insurance against more sinister necromancers; she would burn a specific blend of herbs and spices to ward off evil energies, effectively sealing these three souls into the afterlife. 

    Before the quest for firewood began, Khaalida took a moment to weave her lustrous dark hair into a tighter plait, wiping a bead of sweat from her temple. She posed an intimidating figure at around six feet and two inches, with gleaming bronze skin and dark, intelligent eyes. There was nothing on Valucre like her anymore, but she bore the loneliness with square shoulders and a strong chin. Her clothes hung close to her body to avoid unwanted hands grabbing any loose folds, and the fabric of her tunic and breeches was soft and dark, with jewel tones in the details. A heavy sash was tied around her torso, and the handles of her mirrors projected from reinforced pockets. After double-checking to ensure that all of her mirrors were present and secured, she began the process of hunting for firewood. This was the task she had been hired for; Lyria could wait for a few hours more. 


  4. "Oh, gentlemen! Please, you flatter me, but I'm afraid I can't help you." 

    The three young Nymerians stared across the counter with hungry eyes all trained on Izusisil's fair form; she was certainly easy to look at, with long, silvery blonde hair that shone like silk with every slight current. Her eyes, two pools of grey green, glittered and flitted beneath heavy, dark lashes, and the frills of her irredescent tail teased them from behind the counter. It would be a lie to say she didn't enjoy the attention, but, regretfully, she was unable to give them what they wanted without her master present. Juni was far away tending to a foreign disease, and while the young ithfunzi would have loved to see the look on her mentor's face when she'd learn Iz had given away Naga venom to three teenagers, she wasn't in the mood for mischief tonight. It was late, after all, and she still needed to make the trek down to her isolated quarters far away from the bustling Nymerian capital.

    The life of an an ithfunzi was a lonely one, free of family or friendships or sex, though Izusisil had been enjoying a break in her studies to tend the healer's shop while Juni was away. The Nymerian beauty was still relatively young at only 22 years of age, but she was a gifted healer, and already knew how to make most common potions. Unbeknownst to Juni, she had even been flexing her magical singing voice to heal shallow cuts and bruises. Reluctant though Iz was to progress in her role as a healer, she'd make a damn good one if she put any effort into her studies. As it was, she was still pining over her lost potential as a member of the Meretricem, whose ranks she had been snatched from after showing signs of wiwasi illness. Izusisil felt her good looks and graceful charm were lost on the role of Mchogma, and, if this training period was any indication, the life of a healer was incredibly boring.

     So, when three young lads swam into the healer's hut, it was with a charismatic smile that Izusisil greeted them, her tail swishing lazily from side to side. Their query was irresponsible, and she was unable to fulfill it, but she turned them down as gently as possible, and dismissed them with a wink. She watched them go with narrowed eyes, smelling something fishy but not quite pinning it down; still, it didn't worry her much. The apprentice packed up her master's belongings, tidied up as best she could, and exited the apothecary after locking the door. 

    She hadn't gotten far when a rough set of hands pulled her back into the alley. "I don't think you understand," one of the teenagers whispered in her ear. "We need that venom. I hope there are no hard feelings." Watching the lights flicker out one-by-one, Izusisil took in a sharp breath of water. She could vaguely see the other two dark shapes moving around in the blackness of night, but it was hard to distinguish their forms. She supposed it didn't matter. Although they were difficult to see, she knew they would be listening. Her ruby lips parted to release a few lines of Kufumia, an entrancingly beautiful form of weaponized music only employed by the Mchogma. The hands holding her grew slack, and she wriggled out of them with little difficulty. 

    A noise near the neck of the alley caught Iz's attention, and her song cut off abruptly. She wasn't supposed to be practicing combat songs, and didn't want any of this to reach Juni's ears. With a scoff, she allowed herself to be re-captured. 

  5. There is an instant snap felt in the air between Azara and Leoa, though the Raj is quick to come between them. "She is important to me," he replies, though his cooing is directed toward the flaming mage held delicately in his arms rather than the empress. Regretfully, it is not enough to pacify Azara. Her golden eyes are molten with irritation. Juni is a foreigner in their proud lands, compounding the disease with her Nymerian witchcraft. She is nothing more than the Majaraha's slut, though even Azara is not bold enough to express these wicked thoughts in the presence of Hasan. Still, her next words carry venom. "I am nothing like her. My family has produced countless noble leaders of the Flame Court. Our last Maharaja was not one century past." For Azara, these words should be enough to bring this supercilious woman to her knees. After all, it is the royal blood of Kalopsia that flows through her hot veins. To her frustration, however, Hasan merely squeezes her hip and offers her a tight smile. 

    "That is enough." 

    The woman's cheeks grow scarlet with rage, but, locked in the stronger mage's grasp, she cannot retaliate. Hasan turns his attention to his adopted mother, the same strained smile still plastered on his face. "Leoa, would you like to see Darim? She's made herself very useful in my tailor's wing. We've found ourselves in need of blankets for the refugees, and her hands are quick and steady." The dark man releases his grip on his paramour in favor of the empress, offering her his outstretched arm. As they retreat, he casts a smouldering glance over his shoulder to Azara's lonely figure. "Wait for me in my quarters. We have a few things to discuss." With that, the handsome pair is gone, having retreated down one of many long, gleaming white halls. 

    Left alone in the throne room, Azara seethes in quiet rage. Only when the Raj and his guest are out of earshot does she let out a shrill scream, a whip of flame appearing in her left hand. One crack and the plant so lovingly placed on the throne falls to fiery pieces on the white tiles below. Azara is no fool; she is angry, yes, but also quiet, calculating, and attentive. Her golden eyes flicker over to the mirror in the corner of the room, which is now covered by a plush, white velvet throw. Stalking over to the mirror, she rips its curtain to the ground and stares at her own reflection. If she focuses just so, she can see the shadow of someone else moving beyond the plane of her reality. A hot breath leaves her parted lips; it is her only hesitation. The woman puts her fingers to the glass, then pushes; her fingers glide through the reflective surface. 

    Not a moment later, Azara is standing in the throne room of her Maharaja, who is pacing the room with a servant girl throwing petals at his feet. Feigning reverence, she falls to the ground before him. Only after he verbally relieves her does she sit back on her haunches, a malevolent glint shining from golden depths. 

    "Mighty Maharaja, king of my kings, jewel of the Kalopsian Isles," she cries, her lower lip trembling with false grief.

    "I have just overheard a plot for your murder."

  6. Her sentence is completed by Lady Halisera, drawing a deep scarlet into the inventor's dusky cheeks. The correction is made with good intentions, and Birdy can see that, but she is still ashamed and annoyed and most of all, frustrated by her inability to spit out even monosyllabic words without tripping over her own tongue. Will she be trapped in this voice forever? Birdy has never been a talker, but, now that the potential is gone, she feels suffocated. Her fork draws a piece of pork to her lips, but she abandons the morsel in favor of another sip of wine. The attending staff is quick to fill her empty glass, and she takes another long draught, willing the alcohol to numb her frayed nerves. Birdy does not attempt to speak again. 

    On the other hand, the color drains from Fitzhugh's freckled face as he is addressed by the woman to his left. The little screwdriver he had gifted is long gone within the folds of her sleeve, and he briefly regrets giving her something so pointed. Regardless, her salutation is met with a polite nod of the head and an awkward, sideways handshake. This mechanic does not deal in anything but handshakes, even to noble ladies of high status. "Fitzhugh Tankred. It's, uh-" His jaw goes slack for a moment as the lieutenant leans back to reveal a child, who is staring at him through a mop of ginger hair with wide, innocent eyes. Fitz had seen her enter, of course, but it had not registered in his head that he might be expected to speak to the girl. As a world-class inventor with too many thoughts to process into words, he often found it difficult to speak to regular adults, let alone children. The man swallowed, and forced a smile toward the youngster. "Nice to meet you, Lady Merida."

    He isn't sure what to make of the lieutenant's claim, though the color rising to Merida's cheeks means they aren't joking- or, at least, they don't know that they're joking. Upon closer inspection, Fitz decides that the girl is a few years older than he originally estimated, maybe 15 or 16. Her round cheeks give the impression of someone much younger, and the Tankred children were all more dark-eyed and brooding by the same age. Why, Ramhart Tankred, merely 18 years of age, had already taken the reins of transportation R&D. They had all grown up fast, as was necessary in times of war, but the stark difference between his impression of youth and the bright-eyed girl sitting before him left Fitzhugh at a momentary loss for words. 

    Finally, he finds the courage to answer Vesper's question. "I don't personally work in magicks, but my brother Davyn is an adept magitech engineer." Fitz considers the teenager with narrowed eyes, noticing a true spark of intelligence behind her eagerness. He may have been too quick to judge. In any case, any child would benefit from Tankred guidance, prompting his next words. "Perhaps, one day, you might consider studying beneath him. We often take apprentices who demonstrate, uh, as the lieutenant phrased it, dedication to their studies." The engineer wasn't sure if this was the proper place to extend an offer of tutelage, but he could think of no higher compliment than a Tankred apprenticeship. 

    Fitzhugh took a sip of water before adding, as an afterthought, "What are you working on now?"

    @Witches Brew@KittyvonCupcake

  7. Relief flooded the diplomat's face as Nur and Cadmium took the reins, and she allowed herself to be led through the thick tangle of greenery with Itylra at her side. The captain among them made a few astute observations that Maya was quick to absorb. Though she was undoubtedly uncomfortable in this wilderness setting, she would seize every moment as a learning opportunity. Learning had always been her safety net; even if she was unsuccessful in her endeavors here and beyond, the ram-horned woman came out of each new experience with a new tool on her belt, equipping her for future trials.  

    Both men expressed concern at her plan, which she quickly realized had been expressed poorly. "Let me clarify; we have permission to stay for around two weeks in total. I agree that one night is probably not enough to accomplish our goal." Maya felt blood rushing to her face as she considered the remainder of her explanation. Her plan was to return to the ship every two days or so to restock and regroup, then resubmerge in the forests of Amalia. Cadmium was right; it wasn't ideal, and they needed to immerse themselves in the land for the highest chance of success. However, Maya was unable to carry camping gear for extended periods of time. She was already struggling to keep up with a measly few days' worth of supplies on her back, and that was with Itylra sharing some of the burden. Her heart was beginning to flit irregularly against her ribcage, stifling the flow of oxygen to her extremities; before long, she would feel exhaustion dampening her muscles, the breaths coming rough and ragged from between her lips.

    She briefly considered admitting this weakness, but the admonition felt too personal for a military endeavor. Though her physical illness was a very real limitation on their progress, Maya didn't want to curry pity from people who had been recruited into this mission to focus on other, more pressing matters. Somehow, she would have to keep up. 

    Part of Maya's uncharacteristic embarrassment drew from the insecurity she was currently feeling. Her history in the military had begun over six years ago, but her progress had been hampered by an episode of cardiac arrest only two years into sniper training, necessitating a complete restart. Each individual in their party, even Itylra, had seen battles and missions and action far beyond her flimsy diplomatic career. In Maya's eyes, there was no actual experience behind her paper resume- even her most recent mission to Renovatio had gone down almost too smoothly. Now, at 24 -two years older than the second eldest among them- she still felt like a novice, and this stayed her tongue from divulging any personal concerns. She needed to keep up, and that was the end of it. Her eyes glanced briefly over to Itylra, but no words were exchanged. 

    Maya had a lovely thought break through the haze of self-doubt, causing her to perk up considerably. "Nur," she called, gingerly stepping over a gnarled, fallen branch. "Am I wrong to assume you speak Giant? Let's see, with your background ... I would guess either Kurz or Ozogruk. Are one of those right?" Maya wasn't very familiar with Giant, but she knew enough of Oldspeak and other Terric dialects to hazard a guess. "Sum iea amjolcgumja no?" Seeing no recognition on Nur's face, she scrunched her nose in concentration, and tried again with slightly different roots. "Wlaek aedaik kl't?" The words felt choked in her throat; it was very clear to her that this was not proper pronunciation, but it didn't really matter so long as her meaning was expressed. 

    [ "Do you understand me?" // "This yes speech?" ]

  8. "Valentine will suffice, Mr. Spiderwalker." There was kindness in her eyes, but it was not without wariness. The man's bloodshot eyes raised a few red flags in light of the recent plague, and her gazed flicked over to the window in nervous anticipation. Her blue eyes met Caspian's green before they receded from view, a slight raise of the brow her only response. 

    The florist pursed her lips at the dismissal of "niceties," as Ampelos called it- she quite enjoyed being nice, and his mannerisms were perhaps a little abrasive to her. 'Is this how business is done in Ursa Madeum?' she wondered, nodding politely as the man finished his thought. "Yes, I am familiar with it," she said, slowly tracing the damp circle her cup had left on the table with the tip of an index finger. "We grew bamboo in our summer collection two years ago. It wasn't very popular, so I'm afraid I don't possess any starts at the moment." She considered the latter half of his question, placing her teacup back into its saucer. "It wasn't difficult to grow. ... I could very feasibly accelerate the process even further." Was she a fool to have forfeited this knowledge so soon? "May I ask why you're interested, Mr. Spiderwalker?"

    He hadn't touched his cup of tea at all, which she took note of and filed away beneath her impression of the peculiar man. Ampelos was rather bird-like, she thought, with ruffled, messy russet hair and wide eyes that were constantly shifting to take in the surroundings. Even over the radio, he always seemed to be hurrying his words; was he determined in his cause, or was he a touch manic? Valentine wasn't sure, but for now, he was behaving, and she was slowly growing more comfortable in his presence. 

  9. The tap-tap-tap-tap of a nervously jiggling foot was the only sound in the empty courtyard, save the occasional whisper of leaves rustling in the wind.  Even after spending eighteen hours per day tending to the gentle beast that was the Floracle Flower Shop and Apothecary, Valentine found herself unable to suggest a different meeting place. With the plague running rampant through quarantined sections of the city, business had been terrible, as evidenced by the lack of patrons in the perfectly quaint courtyard adjacent to the main shop. Whether because of her own social anxiety, the responsibility she felt as a shop owner, or the stress of the past few weeks, the redhead had been unable to leave the Floracle in days. Faerin, her newest employee, had been running most of her errands in town, even if he often returned with a few new scrapes and bruises for her to mend. He was a decent lad, with a good head on his shoulders, and she appreciated the extra set of hands in what was becoming a serious recession. 

    When Valentine had read the first line of the mysterious letter -and she sure was receiving a number of mysterious letters as of late- her lips had pursed in attempt to seal in the anxiety. Her mind had immediately leaped to legal troubles, perhaps brought on by Faerin's penchance for mischief, though her grim expression had melted into a smile only a few words later. Though this 'Ampelos' offered little information on his proposition, his letter had brought some warmth to her heart, and, without consulting her twin brother, she called him a few short minutes later. The time and place were set without Val fully realizing what she had done. 

    The full weight of her decision bore heavily on her nerves as she sat in the courtyard, a cup of hot tea cradled between her trembling hands. Val did not have her brother's talent for negotiation, and was worried that she had invited a new host of problems onto her limping business. Still, Ampelos had been polite enough over the radio, and she knew Caspian was sneaking peeks from the window every few seconds. Faerin wasn't nearly as concerned, but, if she needed him, she knew he'd be around- and his scrappy nature might come in handy. Valentine looked over the white picket fence covered in ivy, and vaguely hoped her directions had been sound. She took a sip of tea. 

  10. Maya smiled bashfully when her colleague expressed surprise. "Thank you," she began, drawing one of her hands up to fiddle with the tip of her horn. The diplomat didn't often bring up her past training; her dreams of being a sniper had been cut short by an episode of cardiac arrest. She'd had an impeccable eye for detail, and was one of the most physically fit recruits in the program. Her introverted nature had been well-suited for the job, too, as she was able to spend long periods of time alone and still maintain focus. It was only after starting over in diplomacy did Maya learn how to talk to people, and discover that she possessed a natural aptitude for learning languages. Despite her newfound success, however, the diplomat still grieved over her wasted time in the sniper program. At the ripe old age of 24, she felt a little foolish in the presence of someone like Hana, who was so young but had already climbed rapidly through the ranks of the military. The same opportunity had been ripped away from her because of an unreliably beating heart. 

    Melancholy thoughts began cascading through her head as she and Hana made their way to the teen's residence, chatting a little on the way. Hana didn't seem used to company, but Maya didn't mind carrying the conversation. All it really took was a few gentle prompts on weaponry to get the mechanic talking away, with Maya interjecting to ask questions from time to time. It was nice to flex her own knowledge on weapons, which didn't usually come up in normal diplomatic conversation, and she genuinely enjoyed spending time with someone outside of official military business. 

    When at last they reached Hana's apartment and the mechanic pulled out a beautiful rifle, Maya's dark eyes sparkled with a special something. She took the gun in her hands, and for a moment she was back in training, her rifle constantly slung over a shoulder or nestled safely in her grip. After a quiet moment spent holding the rifle, she glanced up at her younger friend. "It's perfect. How soon would you be able to have one ready?" After a moment, she added, "And what's your price?"

  11. 2 minutes ago, Ataraxy said:

    I'm just fucking around lol I like teasing people and it always annoys Tyler. I can't help myself when. I see the opportunities lmao

    If you don't believe me ask mag! You'll have to go meet him in a box tho *snickers*

    En garde! ? 

    *goes back to studying feverishly*

  12. 20 minutes ago, Grubbistch said:


    Would House Tankred be interested in a storyline concerning helping with the production of prosthesis for all the war veterans/victims of King Damien and the war that followed? Its this thing I've been referencing in a couple threads in how the populace had been terrorized and brutalized during his reign.

    Sure! That sounds like a swell idea.

  13. I am not tagging anyone because I’m losing track of the going’s on, but LISTEN UP 

    • yes, Tankred would receive the Uldwars, but don’t expect a “yes” for another month or two when shit hits the fan. 
    • My new house actually specializes in livestock, and the Lady would definitely be interested in rehabbing the land should a movement spark up. The grounds were torn to shit during Damien’s reign. Count me in! 

  14. Delilah Winshire wakes before the cock crows, her grey eyes snapping open to a room filled with quiet darkness. Her body has been rising earlier and earlier each day to avoid a rude awakening by the farm’s rooster, but she doesn’t mind. It gives her a few minutes to collect her thoughts and steel herself for the long hours of work to come. Today, she simply lays in bed and stares at the ceiling, instantly wide awake despite having been sleeping less than a minute ago. She is avoiding getting up, as she was kicked squarely in the thigh by one of their old buffalo yesterday, and the skin below her hip is still swollen with a bruise she’s sure has melted into deep purple overnight.

    As with many other days, her mind in this hazy dusken darkness drifts to her childhood on the Winshire ranch, before the tyrant king takes control of the land. Her first five years were a blissful, prosperous time for the ranch, with ostriches and horses and buffalo stretching as far as her little eyes could see. She would name each newborn calf, stroke the ewes with loving hands, play tag with the chickens and roll in the mud with the piglets. Her father often tosses her in the air with his rough hands, causing her to scream with laughter until her mother chastises him to put Delilah down, she’ll get sick for Gaia’s sake!

    They pay fealty to House Hildebrand, who are gracious lords, every one of them. The agricultural dynasty often hosts celebrations at their manor, and Delilah remembers hating the feel of that old calico dress on her skin, and her mother tugging her wild brown curls into braids. Still, she loves running around the spacious estate, and is the fiercest child among the bannermen houses. She bosses the other youthlings around, even those older than her by several years; with her stubborn chin and bright eyes, Delilah Winshire is not one to be tamed. Her father laughs at her when she inevitably returns to him with mud all over her dress, having wrestled one (or several) of the Hildebrand children into the dirt. Well, he chuckles, Did you at least win?

    She always does.

  15. The song dies away, as most songs do, with a round of applause, though this particular song draws thunder from the quiet village market square. Fitz does not clap; by clapping, he will concede his enamor for the siren, and Fitz is not one to be swayed by his emotions. A grim smile briefly crosses his lips, followed by a light sigh. He turns his attention back to the drawing beneath his fingertips, and he adds a few revisions. Although he is free of the enchantment, the man is a perfectionist, and will not allow this portrait to remain in his sketchbook until he deems it is acceptable. The switch has been flipped, and his more romantic side is discarded in favor of a more analytical eye; the woman on the page gains a few decided, concrete lines, becoming less abstract and more realistic with each stroke of charcoal. After a few minutes, she is finished. The inventor stares down at the page, and feels a remnant of desire tugging at his heartstrings when he meets the singer's gaze. It is more difficult than he would like to admit to close the sketchbook. 

    Fitz draws his cup of tea closer, and takes a long sip while gazing out across the courtyard. His eyes stray to the stage, but, of course, the singer has long gone. Once again, that grim smile makes an appearance before melting away; he does not expect anything different, but her absence is still a disappointment. The town square resumes its goings-on, with children weaving in and out of the forest of legs with dashing smiles and cries of merriment. Soon, the weaponsmaster thinks, soon Davyn's child will run down the halls of Torinne with delight on its face, bringing some much-needed life to the gloomy castle. Elina is nearly there, or so she often complains with one hand propped on the small of her back and a frown tugging those fair lips downward. Fitz is not sure how his brother deals with the moody woman- though he has always been a little afraid of Elina, whose sharp eyes and tongue have often taken him by surprise. Fitz is intelligent, sure, but his sister-in-law is another beast, fierce in temper and wit. She always got along better with Birdy ... too well, he thinks, remembering his younger sister's hungry eyes and the secrets trapped in her throat. Everything is different now, but for most of his life, he, Fitzhugh Tankred, was the lonely one among them.

    He is in the middle of reflecting on this when a content sigh draws his attention to the right, where a beautiful young woman with silver in her hair has decided to sit. The inventor feels his breath catch in his throat; it is the singer, and she is more lovely up close than he could have imagined. Fitzhugh shoots a panicked glance at the sketchbook on the table. Though it is now closed, he isn't sure how long she has been sitting there- did she see? Does she know? He is a nervous wreck, an odd feeling of embarrassment bubbling up from his stomach and into his throat. Remarkably, words come from his quivering lips. 

    "Your voice," he says, pausing slightly until he has met her gaze, "-goes straight through me." He attempts to make her understand the effect she has on him, but his inventor's vocabulary is not enough to express soft things like feelings. Pointing to his own chest, right above his heart, he adds, "Straight through to the center of it all, right here." Sitting there, regarding her with his hazel eyes and long, dark hair, the freckles dotting his cheeks and the curious look on his face ... well, one would not have expected Fitzhugh to carry such anxiety in his heart in this moment. The white-knuckled grasp on his teacup is his betrayer. He takes a long sip and returns his attention to the town square, having said all that he needed to say. With trembling hands, he slides his sketchbook closer to him, and begins to stand. 

    With a beautiful woman sitting so near, he needs to leave. Immediately. He is engaged. 

  16. A humorless chuckle escapes him as the princess offers her reassurances: it seems he gives too little credit to the man he has become, but what Cosima doesn't know is that he is only half a man. His legs have been torn out from under him, and he has fallen, hard, having seen and done terrible things in the name of home and country. Her home and country. When he finally dares to catch her eyes, it is to ascertain whether or not she is mocking him, and the sincerity reflected back at him is of some comfort. Swallowing, he takes the quill from her hand and scribbles his notes in neat, uppercase letters. His initials, WS, stare back at him from the well-worn page. With a shaking hand, he sets the quill down and turns back to the woman he has been pining for for months. 

    He finds the princess in six places at once, pulling books and notes out of the chaos with delicate, excited hands. She pores over each new piece of information with eager eyes, and, for a moment, despite every tragedy and tear and bitter word, he has to fight not to smile. He has forgotten what it feels like to have his words cherished by open ears. His voice has mattered very little over the course of the past few months, but the woman before him is spurred into action by nothing more than a few syllables strung together. Watching Cosima alight with scholarly flurry, he finds it impossible not to adore her a little. 

    "You've got a fresh pair of eyes and a mind not worn away by the grief of present failures. You have unmeasurable attributes that will assist us."

    Once again, her words only inspire sadness within him, but he understands the good intentions behind them. Cosima is trying to do the unimaginable and mend the gap between them; he reaches back. "You've been busy, Cosima. I know the circumstances are heavy, but ..." For a moment, he falters. "Well, the people are lucky to have you here." A smile crosses his lips, but he doesn't look at her. Instead, he leafs through a nearby tome, seeing the words scribbled down on crumpled pages, not really reading them. When the princess had first told him that she was leaving, his heart had broken inside of him, and he had dished it right back at her. Now, seeing this hurricane of papers and seeing the desperation in her eyes, the long lists of notes covering every surface ... He regrets leaving her in this time of need. His chest hurts. He feels a strange amalgamation of guilt in his decision, but he knows it was the right thing for him at the time. The blue look in his princess's eyes are complicating his feelings, and he can't quite bear to meet her gaze again for fear of doing something drastic and irreversible. 

    Wren's head is spinning, and he lacks the balance to keep himself from gripping the edge of the table with white knuckles. "I ... the flight was long. Cricket and I need some rest. Can you, or ... can someone show me where I can stay?" 

    He allows himself to be led to a spare room in the palace, but he says very little on the walk. His concentration lies in his uneven gait, willing himself not to fall. By some miracle, he reaches the room and bids a vague farewell to his guide, finding that his dragon has already been led to their accommodations. A deep rumbling fills the room when she sees him, and the space between his neck and shoulder is instantly filled with dragon. "Cricket," he says softly, his voice coming out strangled, weak. Sensing his distress, the dragonlet offers her neck for support, and he leans on it heavily as they hobble over to the bed. His body is in so much pain, and his mind is alight; in this moment there is nothing but agony. He fumbles with the latches on his legs, and lets them clatter to the ground. The fresh scars beneath his left leg are a bright and angry red, and have oozed some blood, leaving a thick crust of black around his hip socket. Carefully, he cleans the area with a rag and basin he finds in the room, and is careful not to disturb the staples keeping his skin together. Other scars, too, have begun to bleed, and he moves onto his abdomen, back, and shoulders sequentially. The physical task takes some strain off of his troubled mind, but leaves him exhausted once his body is clean. Sleep comes easily. 

    With wounds on every side, he wakes early, and takes the dragonlet out for a quick ride. She needs the exercise to keep her happy, and he needs the peace of mind that only lungs full of fresh air can bring. Since dawn has yet to come, they fly to a nearby beach, where there is sparse vegetation and a blue ocean that stretches for miles. In this hazy light, trapped between a palace full of heartbreak and a sea full of tears, Wren allows himself to reflect, keeping one hand on his dragon to steady his false feet. 

    He doesn't know what kind of relationship he can piece together with Cosima. Is it possible to return to being friends? Professionalism seems to be off of the table, as he has already held her in his arms, whispered promises in her ear. Can they be something more? Does she want something more? Does he

    This final question takes his attention for a long time, and he and the dragon walk for around an hour before he finally comes to a conclusion. 

    Memories flood in and out of his head, but one familiar spectre refuses to fade. It's the wedding again, and, as their first song together fades, Wren remembers staring down into pools of darkness, uncertain, watching him. He feels something melt inside of him, seeing her wide, young eyes. Cosima seldom acts her scant years, but here, in unfamiliar territory, her youth betrays her. He allows her to take a step back, out of his arms. As clapping rises around them, the two just stare at one another, unsure of what to do next. He feels very light, but very heavy, too, and knows in a deep part of him that nothing will be the same. Embarrassed, he begins to walk away just as the opening notes of the next song rise into the fading applause. 

    "Wren, wait."

    A hand catches his sleeve. He looks back at his princess, and sees stars in her eyes. 

    "One more song?" 

    As Cosima melts into his arms again, he takes a deep breath, his fingers tingling. The words of the song echo in his mind, even now.

    Should I try to hide

    the feelings deep inside 

    my heart 

    for you?

    He looks down at the raven-colored head leaning against his chest. 

    In your mind

    could you ever be 

    really close to me? 

    I can tell the way you smile.

    Wren can feel eyes on him, but he doesn't care. Soon, everything fades away but he and the woman in his arms. They are alone, together. 

    If I feel that I 

    Could be certain, then 

    I would say the things

    I'd like to say tonight.

    Standing on the Crown, his gaze cast out toward the sea, the veteran feels a warmth radiate from his heart and throughout his whole body. He spies a patch of nearby wildflowers, thriving on the rocks against all odds, and hobbles over to pluck a few stems. One of the plants puffs its seeds out toward him in a cloud of pollen, but he coughs and waves the powder away. When he finally straightens, he has a fistful of weeds- pathetic, he knows, but he thinks the meaning behind them will shine through. His feet are lighter than air as he mounts his dragon, and, with a pump of her powerful wings, they are off. 

    The flight leaves him dizzy, his head filled with visions of her. His breath comes quick and shallow, excited by the cool morning air, his rush of emotions ... His hands shake, though the cluster of weeds remained locked in his grip. He becomes less and less present in the moment, carried alight by a new resolve lodged between his ribs; Crickets' reins grow slack in his left hand. 

    When they land, Wren feels euphoric. He is barely aware of the dragon beneath him, but some half-conscious urge tells him to dismount. He attempts to swing his leg off of the saddle.

    The next thing he knows, his face is sideways in the dirt, and there is a searing pain in his forearm. Someone is screaming. He thinks it is Cricket, but the voice reminds him of his mother. It is his voice. 

    The world fades to black for Wren Sheppard. When they find him, they will notice a bedraggled cluster of weeds still locked in his right hand. 

  17. 46 minutes ago, KittyvonCupcake said:

    WHO IS BIRDY MARRYING @roboblu !!!

    I joined these shenanigans for one reason and one reason alone.

    Certainly not because of the character development and practice with writing more social interactions and super neat political intrigue or anything.

    M-milorian Mythal ? 

    I definitely came for the sex scandals and stayed for the political intrigue

  18. "What are you doing?"

    Bernadine looked up and around the table, only to find the voice seated next to her. Varda Hildebrand, one of Ursa Madeum's most powerful political players, was smiling timidly in their direction with a cluster of flowers in one hand. 'Odd', the inventor thinks, her eyes flicking from the Lady's face to the bouquet and back to Varda's quivering lips. 'Is it customary to bring flowers to dinner here?' Though none of the Tankred children are particularly well-endowed in social graces, Davyn had taken most easily to the frivolities of high society. The second eldest Tankred had been adopted from the lowest class of the isles, and so one might expect he'd be the most adverse to this game of smiles and handshakes. From Davyn's perspective, politics were nothing more than street smarts with an added algorithm. The basic wants and needs of the individual man were amplified on a larger scale, and all he needed to do was play to those desires with a grin and a few silken words. Bernadine and Fitzhugh had no aptitude for it, but, sitting at a table full of money and influence, Birdy wished she had had least taken more interest in the political sphere. She didn't know what to do but accept the bouquet with a hesitant smile, shooting Fitz a desperate sideways glance. Were they supposed to have brought party favors as well? 

    Fitz managed to return the glance, but for different reasons. A rather fierce-looking woman had planted herself next to him, and immediately caught onto the pair's uncertainty like a shark smelling blood in the water. Still, she offered solid advice- even if his initial hypothesis had been incorrect. The weaponsmaster hefted a disappointed sigh, picking up the smaller fork after considering his defeat. "Thank you," he managed after a moment, too nervous to make more eye contact than a brief flicker of the eyes. He chewed his food slowly, as did Bernadine; they were not used to eating so much in one sitting, much less with an audience- and besides, with so many pieces of this unfamiliar puzzle, both found themselves with many thoughts to organize. 

    Fitz took a draught of his wine, savoring the taste of something other than mountain swill. 

    "Your flower is in bloom, young Lady."

    He choked mid-sip, spitting some of the contents back into his glass. Birdy kicked him underneath the table, adding a few tears to his eyes. 

    "Beautiful flowers draw the eye, the nose, the hand. One should mind to whom these things are attached. Beauty can be appreciated but it can also be coveted, and a plucked rose does not endure very long. Many men and women will have many promises for you."

    The somber words resonated with Birdy, though her brother was busy clearing his throat with water. It was possible that Lady Hali had offered the advice in response to Varda's greeting to Tankred, which would have stung if Birdy cared even a little. Instead, the mechanic mused on her own house and its main symbol. A well-placed candle could provide its owner with warmth and light, but a candle burning from both ends resulted in nothing more than a puddle of wax. Much like a freshly picked flower, Birdy felt as if she were slowly wilting, melting away to nothing with the weight of a house on her shoulders, on her bare left ring finger ... The parallels between she and Varda did not go unnoticed in that moment, though the inventor knew her options were slimmer, the suitors more sparse. Her house's dealings with the tyrant-king had resulted in a demotion, and she imagined that Cassidy's recent flurry of activity was looked upon with pity, if not disgust. If Birdy knew her mother at all, she expected that Varda would soon be the subject of more desperate Tanrked promises. 

    "Steel doesn't wilt." Bernadine turned her head sharply to look at her brother, who wasn't typically one for words. He had since recovered from his fit of coughing, and apparently had received her earlier message. From the depths of a pocket he had withdrawn a small set of tools, and was extending a lovely little wrench to the Lady Hildebrand as repayment for the bouquet. Birdy stifled a groan, but didn't stop her brother from hesitantly offering a screwdriver to the woman seated next to him. "May your house be, uh ... may it burn bright." After the exchange had been finished, Fitz gave his sister a confused look- did he pass around more gifts for the entire table, or was it enough to only offer a gift to their neighbors? Birdy's furrowed brows answered his question, and Fitzhugh pocketed the remaining tools in his set. She had avoided speaking lest her stutter gain the upper hand, but the situation demanded mending. 

    "O-o-o-our ch-ch-chef r-r-r-ref-refuses t-t-t-t-t-t-t-to c-c-c-c-cook-cook w-w-w-w-w-wi-with any-any-anyth-th-th-thing-anything bb-b-b-b-b-but-t-t H-H-Hilde-Hildeb-b-b-brand p-p-p-p-prod-d-d-duce th-th-th-these d-d-d-d-days," she managed to spit out, stutter aggravated by her nervousness. Birdy loathed the way the table needed to fall silent for her to finish her sentence, and, at the end of it, wasn't even sure that her words had been comprehensible. She looked to her brother for help, but the bastard was apparently engrossed in his food. Useless. "W-w-w-w-we h-h-h-h-hope f-f-f-f-for pl-pl-plen-plent-t-t-t-t-pl-plen ..." The mechanic trailed off, unable to finish the sentence, and too embarrassed to continue trying. A humorless laugh escaped her lips. She settled for a long sip of wine, swallowing her pride along with it. 

    She was going to kill Fitzhugh when they got home. 

  19. Spoiler

    OOC: I didn't originally mention this, but, for all subsequent interactions with the hub, please specify the date/time of your leading post. That way I can respond in a more organized fashion, and we can have multiple interactions going on in the same thread. ? For the purpose of this post, I will say it's around 7am on 12 August, 29 AO.


    Although it had been several weeks since her grandfather's passing, Valentine still wasn't used to waking up in the more spacious apartment he had once owned. Caspian had insisted she take the larger room because of her new status as the Floracle's shopkeep, but the space felt both too empty and too full for her comfort. Her previous room had been much tinier, with four walls, half of a bathroom, and a sprawling ocean view - but not much else. Hector Marie's apartment left her feeling so small and young and alone at the center of it all. On the rare occasion that she felt content with her new room, she would often shiver as if her grandfather's ghost were hanging over her shoulder, a grin on its face. Although they had sold some of his old furniture to pay for the Floracle's opening, the few pieces left were enough to make her feel like an impostor in someone else's home. 'Silly,' she would think to herself, 'You've lived right across the hall your whole life. This isn't much different, is it?' Still, even now, with the bright golden light of dawn streaming in through an open window, birdsong wafting in on the fresh sea breeze, Valentine felt unsettled. A light sigh permeated the quiet of her new bedroom. 

    She did what one always does in the morning: gets dressed, makes tea, and eats a bit of breakfast in the courtyard. Sometimes Caspian joined her, but today she ate alone; she assumed he had spent a late night reading or poring over his textbooks. Eventually he joined her in the main room at quarter to seven, and together they prepared the store for its eventual opening at eight. 

    A cheerful jingle at around seven drew Valentine's attention to the storefront, where a rather oddly-dressed customer came stalking in with a bit of parchment in hand. She cursed herself internally; Caspian had told her not to open the door until opening, but she had gotten in the habit of exiting through the front to water their display flowers outside, and often forgot to re-lock the main entrance behind her. She didn't want to take an opportunity away from a customer, however, and so waited politely for the gentleman to reach the cashier's counter. 

    “Is Valentine Marie here? I have a letter for her.”

    The woman in question nodded, a smile tinged with curiosity sitting brightly on her lips. "Yes, this is she," the florist replied, reaching out to take the envelope gently from the courier's hands. "Thank you. I wasn't expecting mail so soon- my goodness, you must have woken early this morning! Can I offer you some ... um ..." Her voice trailed off as those quick blue eyes scanned the page, her expression shifting from pleasant anticipation to something a little more nervous and uncertain. When she was finished reading, Valentine's gaze flicked back up to the elf standing before her, and only just then noticed the dark bruises marring his nose and cheeks. Her lips pressed together, and, in a moment of resolve, she tucked the letter into a pocket of her apron. "Faerin, is it? It's nice to meet you. I have a few questions, but first, let's do something about those bruises." Without waiting for Faerin's say, the shopkeep turned to lightly rap on the glass window behind the counter. A mop of red hair popped out from behind a shelf. "Warlock's hazel?" she mouthed, tracing the shape of the leaf on the glass between them. The scholar shot a glance between his sister and their unusual guest, the question obvious on his face. "WAR-LOCK HAY-ZEL?" she mouthed again, pausing to smile politely over her shoulder at Faerin. Caspian was out in a minute with the salve in his hand, which Valentine swiftly plucked from his grip. 

    "Vaaaaaal, who do we have here?" he asked, standing awkwardly next to the shopkeep with his hands tied in knots. The two were nearly identical in appearance, though Valentine was only five feet to her brother's six, and, while her eyes were baby blue, he had their father's leaf green gaze. Both Marie children beheld Faerin with some hesitation- and, in Caspian's case, a bright red flushing around the cheeks. While Valentine's stare was decidedly more friendly, her brother had a decided penchant for tall, handsome strangers; paired with the social ineptitude of a bookish scholar, he was in desperate need of saving. Thankfully, an additional customer walked through the doors at that very moment, drawing a relieved sigh from Caspian's lips. "I'll go help her," he offered, not bothering to chastise his sister for leaving the door open. A hint of a smile played around Val's lips as she turned back to Faerin, the salve already dabbed onto her fingertips. 

    "Now sit here- this is Warlock's hazel ointment, and it will help with the pain and swelling." Many wonderful things could be said of Valentine Marie, but respect for personal space was not among them. In a few moments, she had somehow wrangled the waiting elf onto a stool behind the counter, and leaned in close to inspect the damage. Her hair smelled of lavender, and her fingers were cool and gentle on his cheeks as she dabbed on the salve. "Your cousin is asking for a few very .... interesting items." A slight frown tugged the corners of Val's mouth down. Myrtle incense was meant to bring a patient back from the brink of death. Wormwood guarded the wearer against demonic possession. Wakeflower tea induced hallucinations and vivid, often prophetic dreams. While it was true that Caspian had the ingredients necessary to make each product, their commission raised more than a few questions. 

    "Can you tell me more about this business of hers? We certainly don't want any trouble, you see, but I would be lying if I said we couldn't use an extra set of hands." Valentine paused, drawing back a few inches to inspect her work. The bruises were already fading thanks to the ointment, and Faerin would likely feel a pleasantly cool sensation radiating from his cheeks. Seeing this, Val couldn't help but smile despite her misgivings. "Faerin, tell me- did you agree to this? I'm not in the habit of keeping slaves." Satisfied with her treatment, the redhead stepped back to size up her potential employee. He was enormous, with a brutish air about him, and seemed to be recovering from a nasty hangover. She suppressed a sigh: they were very low on staff. 

    Her eyes fell to his hands, which had made an appearance from the depths of his pockets. "Oh, your knuckles! Why didn't you say something sooner? Here, I should have something for that-" 

    Even before agreeing to his indentured servitude, Faerin was effectively trapped. 

    @Witches Brew

    Caspian walked around the newcomer quickly, his crimson face matching the tangle of red hair on his head. The scholar was well-meaning, but Valentine had been his entire social network for the majority of his life, and he was woefully unequipped to handle the scarlet heat in his cheeks. He pushed the round-rimmed glasses further up his nose as he approached the latest customer, another elf, who was looking around the shop with wide, curious eyes. "Welcome to the Floracle," he said through gritted teeth. "Can I help you?"

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