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The Hummingbird

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  1. Pleasure swept through Zenahriel as Rafael touched his wings, complimenting the new color the High Lord had donned. In truth, nothing satisfied Zenahriel more than delighting Rafael, and now his irritation at the King of Umbra was all but gone. He smiled brilliantly as he bid the young jeweler farewell, though he stored his mate’s suggestion at the back of his mind. He fully intended to see to the jeweler’s personal growth and profit soon. Umbra would, Zenahriel decided, make a fine home for the man. “Keep these as they are,” Rafael commanded. “Of course, my Lord,” Zenahriel grinned with a teasing bow. “Perhaps, with autumn, I will find some red and orange dyes, yes?” The sun was slowly beginning its descent, and it was growing closer to the time to see the Regent. But there was still plenty of opportunity to witness the Sword Dancing, and Zenahriel made a point to use his and Rafael’s specially acquired tickets to gain as favorable view of the performance. It was quite the show, and Zenahriel clapped along with the crowd as the dancers completed the climax of their wordless, but intense, story. His only regret was that he had not signed up to perform himself… but then again, he hadn’t danced in many years, and the thought of embarrassing himself amidst such a crowd was terrible. After picking up a lantern for the wishing event, Zenahriel then began seeking out the Lady Akako in earnest, for he knew that many would be seeking her attention, her favor, as well as for simply the privilege of speaking to the Regent for any reason. He would have to wait his turn, and though he was in no great a hurry, he disliked having to wait for too long. Zenahriel was generally patient, but time was precious. There came gasps of surprise, shock, and some fear as a wall of black smoke rose up. From this and the whispers he heard with keen ears, Zenahriel immediately knew this as a command for peace and privacy as the Regent spoke to one of the more unwelcome visitors. He stopped amid the uneasy crowd, and made no move to interrupt the private conversation or eavesdrop, though he very well could. Not unless the rest of the visitors here were threatened would he disrupt the event here, for good or bad. "Anyone you might know, Rafael?" Zenahriel asked, for the King was more socialized than he.
  2. This is only my opinion and therefore doesn't matter much in the long run, but the first thing I thought when I saw Courage was "ew." It's hard on my eyes. It does catch the attention, but not much in a good way; more like, "Well now, that's a style I'll never use." At best, I'm with Carrionjackal on this one.
  3. There it was. Zenahriel’s eyes widened in shock as the Black Queen’s voice lashed out at him, venomous as it was dignified. Rarely did she ever speak as she did then, and Zenahriel could not remember the last time her normally serene and musical voice was raised in such anger and vengeful hate. Especially not at him – he, who had once shared her bed and partook of her love. He who had supported her at every turn, even when she chose to give her devotion to others, leaving his affection unrequited. It was just one finger, but he felt the power of La’Ruta behind it, and here in her land his power was severely compromised. He staggered back, almost falling as her unique power raged against him, striking him harder than her words did. But those words he did hear still, and anger flashed across his face at the insult. How dare she? How dare she blame him for all the faults that she had brought upon herself? Was it not her hands alone that had first donned that crown? He recalled the unmissed memory of when he had been devastated at her lack of love for him, when he had prepared to reenter the generations-long slumber that every High Lord underwent when tired of life. Raphael was the one who had come to him, awakening him as no other being could, and became his savior and mate… while Gabriela languished in the arms of Roen without a care. It was that kind of betrayal, that kind of crushed belief that she might come to him, that hurt him so much. Even now, with the soothing ointment of time, it stung. It scarred. It never faded. And it never hurt so much as it did now. The hate, the hurt, the betrayal, the sting of poisonous feelings she surely felt toward him – was it mutual? Perhaps. Perhaps. Slowly he straightened, regaining composure as she asked him if he was happy, going so far as to name him one of the sires of her latest child. It was too much. “No.” His voice was dark. At his side his hands clenched into bone-white fists. Behind him his wings trembled, stiff and severe. “Once I loved you. Once we were friends. Once I would have followed you to the depths of hell and beyond. But when I burned and screamed, where were you?” Though dark, though deep, his voice was quiet, almost a whisper, and naked of emotion. “Where were you, Gabriela, when I needed you most? It was Raphael who came to me, not you.” He turned away from her, his head lowered. “Is it so strange I would choose someone else, anyone else, to lie with when you would not? Can you really call it betrayal, Gabriela? And are you really a victim, and nothing else? Yes, I swore love and loyalty to you. But what did you give me in return in the end?” He laughed, a painful sound. “You call me a dog in heat? Maybe I am. An unworthy, filthy dog. Well, this dog will not and cannot be a father to a child you bore with someone else. Even if that someone else is my mate.” He glanced at her over his shoulder, his eyes distant. “Did you expect me to grasp at the scraps you’ve thrown at me? Not this time, my dear.” He looked away. “I will not remove my support of you. Aletheiar would be displeased with me if I did so. But I will not stand here and be insulted by your words… and your paltry offerings.” A pause. Then he strode out the door.
  4. This is my dad, gone hunting in his old, old age for fat turkeys. I'll be visiting him in August.
  5. “You want to go to the… dragon?” Landon wiped a hand across his brow. He backed away from the mural, away from the overpowering heat. The space he left was immediately taken by more fire elementals, murmuring in unintelligible voices. “You’ve got to be mad,” Landon sighed. “But we already knew that, I guess.” Aslashar bobbed around Akni. “Girl know Arkanalandis?” it inquired. “Arkanalandis friend, maybe? Yes! Yes! Arakanalandis be happy with Mighty Aslashar if Mighty Aslashar bring him friend! Smart, smart Aslashar! Come, come!” it piped as it whirled away. Speaking praises of itself the entire way, Aslashar led them outside the temple, and it appeared a considerable amount of time had passed. The sun was already touching the horizon, with pink and gold streaks passing across the sky with the onset of dusk. It temperature had cooled, and Landon sighed with relief. He wasn’t sure he could stand another day in the heat. Aslashar led them deep into the city, past rubbles of buildings and other temples. Many of these collapsed structures had odd, glowing carvings on them; many displayed strange creatures and murals of men and people praising them. As they delved deeper into the ruins, Aslashar grew quieter, until it fell completely silent. The stars were beginning to creep into view when Aslashar stopped before a massive hole, ten feet wide, leading deep into the earth. It bounced around the hole a few times, then, with power all out of proportion to its size, blasted a burst of flame into the hole. Immediately torches lit up, showing the hole had steps leading into the bowels of the earth. “Ooooh, Aslashar gooooood! Follow, follow!” it squeaked. “I’ll go first,” Landon said sharply. The going was relatevely easy; the steps led into a broadly angled, slow descent. But as they walked, the cool smell of earth and night air became one that reeked oddly of burnt metal and smoking coals. Then Landon stopped. “Do you… do you hear that?” It was a slow, rhythmic sigh, in and out. Air rustled their hair. Breathing.
  6. With sun slowly completing its arc, the festival was now in full swing. Soon, the events - the sword dancing and lantern prayers in particular – were to take place, and Zenahriel knew there was not much time to waste before he would come to meet Her Majesty Akako herself. He was looking forward to it, and although he said nothing, he already found a note of respect within himself for the Regent who managed to bring Yokai and human together in a time perfect for civil unrest. He glanced at his mate, and laughed a little, somewhat nervously. “Ah, do not flatter me, Rafael. Being a High Lord is less grand than you believe.” The High Lords did precede over the greatest of matters in the nation, but those matters were those that could only belong to ones great in power and greater in authority. All other matters were left to the kings, queens, and smaller lords of the mortal races, and as such, a few had never even heard of the High Lords. And a very, very small handful disdained the title. The reeking scent of darkness did not escape Zenahriel’s attention. At first, he thought it might be the Devil, but no, this was darker than that, infinitely more hateful. He cast his eyes about, searching, but for the moment found nothing, and so put it in the back of his mind. He didn’t exactly ignore it completely, but he still thought any being foolish enough to cause trouble would be dealt with well and sternly by their fellows. “My wings?” Zenahriel smiled, his own gaze following along the gold-tipped primaries. “I’m glad you like them. I thought perhaps it was too gaudy. Come,” he said briskly, leading Rafael by the hand, “let us find a gift for Her Grace.” The jewels were plenty here, and crystals and sterling silver were to be found in plenty. But Zenahriel was looking for something better, something rare and special, and know that such a prize would be hard to find. Connoisseurs and aficionados of such things would have already snatched up most of the finest. Fortunately, Zenahriel was one of them, and passed over the gaudy and the garish without much of a time-wasting glance. He picked up a few necklaces studded with gemstones, running the strands through his hands. Gold and diamonds had different values, different levels of purity and clarity. He browsed until he came up on a small stall selling a variety of jewelry, and recognized the owner as one he had once commissioned a jeweled peacock feather from for a certain Black Queen. The young jeweler was as man of rare talent and integrity. Zenahriel exchanged greetings and compliments before picking up a truly beautiful necklace, a plate of pure solid gold, wide enough to cover the base of the throat and shoulders, from which there hung droplets of deep green emeralds of the finest quality. Among the band of gold itself were gems of firestones, gleaming a brilliant red. “This,” Zenahriel said confidently. Payment was given and received, the necklace packaged in a velvet box filled with soft satin and silk. “Come, my love,” Zenahriel said, smiling vibrantly. “Let us go meet the Regent.” @King
  7. The tavern was an ostentatious place. Brilliant, multicolored lights flashed around the singer and her musicians, with intricate lamps and chandeliers adding to the effect over the various tables and bars where men and women sat. Various foods and drinks were served to the patrons by well-dressed waiters and waitresses – there were fresh meats and vegetables, fruits and sweets to be washed down by glasses of wine, champagnes, or beers or rare ales. Further to the back of the establishment was a curving set of stairs, presumably leading to the private quarters of guests willing to pay the price to stay for the night. It seemed an innocent, if flashy, enough place. But as Iris walked among the patrons, she might see that there were not just men and women, but girls and boys too. There were those her age and older, and there were a few younger than her too. And as the men and women were often laughing and joking, the prepubescent and adolescents remained silent. A few did look up as Iris passed by, but just as quickly looked away. The singer moved on to a different song, swaying all the while. A glitter of light passed over the singer’s face and throat. She was wearing a collar. As Iris moved on, a man suddenly called out to her. “Little girl! Little girl! Sit down, won’t you? Here, here. Let me buy you a lemonade.” He gestured, insisting she sit at a fine redwood table across from him. He was dressed in a fine gray suit, with a navy blue tie and gold cuffs. His hair was black, peppered with bits of gray and silver along the sides. He was older yet still handsome; as a younger man, he would have been quite dashing. As it was, his twinkling gray eyes and infectious smile was very charming indeed. “Aaaah, yes,” he said to her. “Shanna is a quite the songstress, is she not? The suns loves the moon, yes? What do you think?”
  8. Below Iris, the concrete and cobblestone roads and pathways were occupied, but not crowded. Most civilians had already found their way home from their daily work schedules, and were busy with dinner or already in bed. The few still awake and about were those fond of late night drinks and the guards tacked with the unwanted night shift. Crime was at an all-time low in Antigone however, and as such, the guards were lax. As a result, Iris went unseen. She found the tavern, right where it was said to be; at the corner of Center and Union. The two streets were clean and, if worn, were otherwise well maintained with few cracks and less broken steps. The buildings itself seemed separated from the other establishments to either side of it, with alleys bordering the exterior walls, making for a suitable place for Iris to land if she was careful. As if on cue, the electronic voice spoke again. “Do not use any magical powers or abilities while in contact with the public. Your collar is deactivated but is assumed to restrict your abilities. This illusion is to remain in place at all times.” The Times Clock’s sign was well-lit with red neon lights, and even outside the music playing within could be heard clearly. It was the sound of a few wind and string instruments, playing harmoniously together to accompany the sweet voice of a female. “I love you Like the sun loves the moon Even so The moon adores the stars Even more, even more…” As it was, Iris would find no other way to go in but the front door. There she was met by a ma, heavily built with a scowl. One that lightened a bit as he examined Iris up and down. Then his eyes settled on her collar and the scowl returned. “No trouble, little lady,” he growled as he opened the door for her. Blue and yellow lights accosted Iris as she entered. The songstress was in front of the tavern bar, swaying back and forth as she sang her romantic tune. The instrument players were to either side of her, and to either size of the tavern were people. Endless people, drinking and talking, laughing and smiling or otherwise staring into their drinks with glum looks. The moment Iris stepped into the tavern she would sense something was… off.
  9. Unable to handle the heat, Landon stayed well away from the crowd of Fire Elementals gathered before the massive depiction of the dragon. Yet even as he watched Akni warily, he could feel the strange power of the raised carving, the way it radiated a certain energy that differed from anything he felt before. He knew himself to be sensitive to magic in ways others were not, but he felt that even if he wasn’t he would still feel the magic of this image. Mighty Aslashar bobbed over the Akni. “Mighty Aslashar show,” it said, its voice quieter. “Touch dragon?” it requested. “Mighty like Aslashar, magic hides things,” it explained. The moment Akni touched the picture, the room exploded in crimson light. Blinding at first, the light filled the temple, drowning out sight and sound before melting away. Like water it drained out, and when it was gone Akni would see she appeared no longer to be in the temple, but flying high above the desert. A desert filled with mortared buildings and temples, towers and forts whole and complete. People wandered streets made of red brick, dressed in light desert robes meant to guard from the harmful rays of the overpowering sun. It appeared what Aki had surmised – that the desert city was once a place of culture and civilization – was true. A shadow that blocked the sun for several seconds. Suddenly, a dragon landed among the city buildings, crashing down amidst screaming people and collapsing stone. A thing of hard red scales and crimson horns, it opened its mouth and fire crashed out from its maw, engulfing the city in flame. As Akni was forced to watch the destruction, she would recognize something about the dragon. It was not Arkanist, but it looked very much alike. The city was crushed in a matter of minutes, and the dragon was flying above the ruins, roaring its victory the vision shattered like glass, returning Akni to the present, inside the temple, unharmed. Landon, drenched in sweat, was in front of her, shaking her by the shoulders. “What happened? You… you… turned all red!”
  10. Iris would find herself still lying on the table. Only now, as light slowly illuminated the operation chamber, she would find herself completely alone, save for the words that flickered across her vision in hues of red and green. Her first instructions. With them, a voice, perhaps live or recorded, it did not matter, matched the words that scrolled across her vision. - “A man by the name of Gradius Entreve is suspected to be a sympathizer to magickers. His location varies but has been seen frequently occupying the tavern The Timed Clock between the hours of 3 and 9, and varying times in the late evening and early morning. Without disturbing the tavern or alerting authorities, you are track and eliminate him within ten days.” With a sudden sound of sliding metal and concrete, a wide, tall door opened at one end of the room. The light spilled into it, revealing a long hallway. The dispassionate voice continued. “Follow the hallway and proceed left, right, right, and left. Open no doors and do not deviate from the instructions. Punishment will follow if you deviate.” Once Iris followed the instructions (indeed experiencing punishment if she made a mistake), she would find herself… outside. She was standing on the rooftop of the tall medical hospital building, the cold air whipping her hair around her head. Lights from the stars, crescent moon, and city buildings all mixed and mingled together in the air. The sounds of traffic and voices reached even this high up. The voice sounded once more. “The Timed Clock is located at the corner of Center and Union.” - Then the voice of Vance said, “Good luck, darling.”
  11. Jealousy was a sour thing, and the taint of it lingered still in Zenahriel’s mouth. Though it was Rafael’s right to spend time with whomever he wished, whenever he wished, Zenahriel had begun to resent that time and those who claimed it in place of him. It didn’t matter who they were or what the circumstances happened to be; he was Rafael’s mate. And yet, that revered status seemed to no longer hold any meaning. However distasteful it was, Zenahriel felt the jealousy might be well placed. But High Lords were supposed to be fairly indifferent to mortal affairs, even powerful, godly mortals, and such emotions were unbecoming. So Zenahriel turned his attention to the markets, tucking the pamphlet into the breast of his surcoat. There was indeed time to spare before the Sword Dancing, and to pass on any sightseeing would be a shame. With elegant movements that let him pass others with barely a brushing touch, he merged into the crowd. The market held everything, it seemed. Hawkers and more experienced merchants plied their goods and waved to others at every side, showing of their wares with pride and greed. Yokai and many other races browsed the stalls, much of them dressed in the finest of clothing – silks and carefully woven wools, rich fabrics and textiles of all cultures and lands. Jewelry flashed in the light of the sun – crystals and diamonds, blood rubies and opals, pearls and gemstones of varying rarity all glittered around necks and wrists. Even more impressive, perhaps, was the food. Samples were being given out near temporary stalls where more sizeable portions could be purchased. There was roast duck and swan, spitted and turning slowly over burning coals. There was fish, freshly plucked from the coastlines and baking in ovens besides crayfish and lobster. Breads contained rare olives or glazed with decadent cheeses or stuffed with vegetables and mushrooms were being served to any who wanted a taste. There were rare exotic fruits of strange shapes, bursting with color and juice, and vegetables ripe and fresh with the season. There were sweetmeats – chocolates and candies, cookies, cakes, and pies. And, of course, there was wine, champagnes, ciders and beers, ales and even sparkling waters. Zenahriel took his time sampling a bit of everything, taking care not to appear a glutton. He did try to persuade Rafael into trying a bit of the food himself, but took as much care not to press too hard. With all the good cheer and spirits the festival radiated, it was becoming increasingly hard to remember Rafael’s neglect, and Zenahriel eventually allowed himself to relax a little. He was feeling forgiving when Rafael mentioned Lady Akako. “Of course we will speak to the Lady,” Zenahriel agreed, eyeing the jewelry the merchant had on display. They were magnificent pieces, combining Terrenus simplicity with Genesaris flair. It would have been nearly scandalous if it were not for the ceasefire established among the two nations. “I’m afraid I’ve been a little behind on matters of state, and I’d like to mend that as soon as possible.” Zenahriel leaned closer to the sparkling gems. “But it is traditional to bring an offering – a gift. You know that. Shall we find something for Her Grace?”
  12. Warm but not unpleasantly hot, the sun beamed above them. Golden rays shone down upon the buildings, tents, on roads, trees, flowers, and all manner of life. Long gray shadows stretched out over colorful cobblestone paths as the sun continued its stately ascent, and with every passing moment the busy festival grounds grew ever more crowded, filled with cheer and spirited bliss. Hawkers called out their wares, brought from all over the world; exotic fruity wines of Terrenus and strange baubles from Tellus Mater to the indigenous goldwork of local cities and jewelers. It was all here, though none of these compared to the people brought from nations far and wide. Yokai and man of all species and race had come to peacefully celebrate the Flower Festival of Port Caelum. Moving beside Rafael, Zenahriel observed the great gathering with approval. With the catastrophe Whispernight had wrought upon the land, Genesaris was in need of such gaiety. Even he had dressed for the occasion, wearing a sleek outfit of black silks and finely woven wool. Cloth of gold and silver were worked into the surface in glittering patterns down the chest and side; though it lacked a back to allow for the great expanse of his wings. Normally they were a smooth black with subtle highlights of midnight blues and royal purple, but today the ends of their long pinions had been bleached and dipped in a striking gold paint. Zenahriel did not often allow himself to relax so completely, but he thought he could afford to be a little more lax than usual. With such creatures of mysterious powers and abilities gathered in one place, to produce any trouble here would be an act of such foolishness it would be astounding. He glanced at his partner with affection as the King of Umbra locked arms, leading him down the busiest street Port Caelum had to offer. He could hardly hear his Lord above the din of voices. “Wine! Dark cherry and rich oak, rose petals and peach from Terrenus!” “None of these local baubles matches the elegance of jewelry of Kadia!” “Come get your fix with these chocolates of the Rising West!” “Where the fuck did you go!” Yes, it was all here. Zenahriel cast a cursory glance at the pamphlet Rafael held. “I’d like to see the Sword Dancing as well,” he said casually. He actually hoped to get involved himself. “But surely your Highness would like to eat something exotic first?” he suggested with a nod to an array of food carts on one side of the street. He shrugged carelessly – he had not yet forgiven Rafael for his negligence, and half expected the King to run off claiming more important business. “Don’t mind me though.”
  13. I went to a seminar one time, featuring a famous woman artist. I don't think she was that great, but that was just my personal opinion. I went up to her after she finished speaking and asked her, "As a woman, do you have to be exceptionally special to succeed as an artist?" Her answer? "Yes." Think of all the people who will never be recognized because they decided they weren't exceptional enough.
  14. Not yet. It was true. For the moment, Gabriela was the Black Queen, and Raphael was not yet Lord of Orisia. He would be soon, though, and a flicker of guilt passed through Zenahriel’s eyes. It was a bitter downfall, of sorts, for the Island of Summer, and his part in it was bitter knowledge. Unfortunately, Raphael was the only hope Orisia now had. The small nation was bankrupt, failing financially and morally. He had seen and sensed it, though the citizens tried their hardest to cover it all. As cruel as it was, the Black Queen was teetering on the edge of a throne that might soon welcome a new sovereign. It hurt now that she could not even look into his eyes, that she backed away from him as he drew closer. Once they had been companions, once they had been lovers… even though it was only for one night. But they had been closer than this, willing to trust and confide in one another. Now all that was left was a growing distance. Zenahriel had responsibilities to attend to in Umbra, just as Gabriela had her own wavering duties to attend to here. That only added to their crumbling relationship. As content as he was in his position as Umbra’s highest An’She, Zenahriel cursed the circumstances that led to such a failure in the friendship once grandly promised to the queen. She suggested that he talk to his mate, the man he couldn’t find. The man whose presence radiated strongly from her. His dark eyes narrowed as his wingtips flicked in irritation, for it was not the lingering presence a man left on his chosen bedmate. It was something more. Slowly his hand rose, leisurely drifting toward her. His fingers touched her forehead, then slid down her finely crafted face, tracing a line down her cheeks, over her chin, down her throat. He followed the pulsating sense of his mate, and his hand continued, almost of its own accord, to glide down Gabriela’s slight form. The it paused, stopping suddenly, just above her belly. He drew his hand back then and stepped back, his wings flaring, his eyes wide, his brows furrowed in an expression of enraged bewilderment. “You are pregnant… again.” But it was not Philippe’s blood, in which raged the fire of the Crimson King. Anger flashed across the Lord of Darkness’ face. It was unseemly. He didn’t care. “Did you grow tired of him, then, as you grew tired of me? How long did it take him to plant that seed in your belly? Where is your other child? Or did you grow tired of him as well!”
  15. Does anyone want to be my partner? I want to attend, just not alone.
  16. Games I wanted on Steam are on sale! 

    1. supernal


      Which ones?

    2. The Hummingbird

      The Hummingbird

      Sword Art Online games. Casual stuff. Most of my games are "serious", so I want something chill to cool off with.

  17. Theaters here a booked solid everywhere. Nevertheless, Avengers must be seen.

    1. Show previous comments  1 more
    2. princeben07


      1. Read the Comics when I was but a wee-puppy. ^_^

      2. Re-visited the re-prints in High School

      3. Read the Comics once more online

      4. Seen every SINGLE marvel Animated work and live-action movies in a nutshell to keep up with Hollywood Screenwriters and how faithful of a rendition to the comics most of these were to try to remain.

      5. I want 2 hours and 51 minutes of my time back from yesterday. =(



    3. The Hummingbird

      The Hummingbird

      Marvel Studios never wanted to copy the comics <_<. They created their own version and universe, and they did a hell of a good job imo. You have Disney for live-action remakes.

    4. princeben07


      Maybe because I'm old school lol.

  18. Next to her own warped reflection, Garnet’s face also looked weary and exhausted. What they had endured for only a few hours had beaten at the soul so thoroughly he felt he might shatter if the day demanded more. He felt battered, in body and mind, so much that death right now would have felt like a relief. An endless, dreamless sleep would have been welcome next the nightmare he had pushed through, as if he were some kind of hero. He couldn’t imagine what Adira was enduring then, what memories she would never forget. He was still dabbing absentmindedly at her back when her fingers reached up and seized hold. He froze, expected her to throw his hand off in hate and indignation, but instead she held it close. And what she said next absolved him from al the guilt and sin he had accumulated throughout the years of a hard, enslaved life. He had been with other women before. He had heard those words of devotion before, from men and women alike, pretending they served his heart. Maybe they even sincerely believed they did. But they all disappeared, in one way or another, and he had gone on his way, deserted again and again. They either left, or he did – it was simply the way life was. No one ever stays for another. Not for long. That was the way life was, but now… He would change that. He decided it quickly, before the pain of memories and abandonment could change his mind. He dropped the sponge into the water, where it sank and bobbed up, floating along the water now streaked with dust and grime. There was another tub here, waiting for him, but that could wait. He tilted his head over her shoulder, and kissed her, softly and gently. Let me protect you. He didn’t say it aloud. Women like her didn’t need nor want to be protected. It offended them. So instead, he gave her the oath made to be broken. Made to be kept. “I promise… I will never leave you.”
  19. Eyeing the rattle, Zenahriel admired the beauty of even such a small thing as this. He accepted it with a nod, smiling as he gave it a quick shake, the chime emitting a sweet sound before being put away in the satchel he kept as his side. Though it had been many, many years since he had directly dealt with children, he still remembered the daughter of his host, retaining the memories of when she too was but an infant. Yes, children liked “this sort of thing.” He turned back to the stall, picking up one bauble after the other. The merchant stood off the side, offering suggestions and doing his best to pry as much money from Zenahriel as possible. In the end, the High Lord settled on a circlet, a high-quality ring of gold and cut crystal small enough to fit the queen’s brow. It was elegant and lovingly crafted, and would be a striking addition to her dark hair. Thereafter, the rest of the market was browsed leisurely and thoroughly. Wordlessly, Zenahriel allowed himself to relax as he walked by Rou’s side, observing the goods of the stalls and the various items sold by hawkers of every race and class. Such was the variety of culture and race here that he almost could blend in despite his height and the wings flowing down his back. Indeed, even those who gave him a second glance were too preoccupied with their own lives that their gaze did not linger too long. All in all, it was a pleasure to walk in anonymity and comfort. Unfortunately, it did not last long as the sim made a quick journey through the sky. As it began to touch the edge of the horizon in swaths of gold and brilliant shades of red, Fowler appeared, with such a display of grandeur and ostentation carriages that even Zenahriel himself sighed, avoiding the look Rou shot him. In some things, Zenahriel was a simpler man and hardly sought attention, and traveled lightly. It made for quicker, easier, and stealthier travel, attracting less stares and expressing a humbler attitude. The latter, he found, made others like one better, even from kings and queens who were used to vanity and pompous personalities. But there was no helping it. Taking up one of the great Clydesdale horses, Zenahriel spoke quietly to the horse, soothing it with his low voice. It nickered, snorting distrust as this strange man whose scent and sight was so different from the regular humans it was used to. The handler had given it the generic name Thunder. Zenahriel patted and caressed the horse until it calmed, and finally mounted it with one bound. The horse shifted under his weight, pawed the earth, and settled. All was ready. With the sound of clopping hooves, creaking wagon wheels and harsh footfalls, the assembly entered the Ellwood. The cursed ground upon which so many had died, and hunted, and been transformed from great monstrosities to poisonous poppies tainting the air with their slumber-inducing seeds. It was a pleasant sight, to be sure. Despite its unkind reputation, the Ellwood was still beautiful. The green of the trees and overgrowing plant life shone of health and vigor, undisturbed by the intrusions of men and beast. The colorful poppies, some a brilliant pink and yellow, flourished in great abundance, though upon growing close to them everyone made sure to cover their faces with filtering masks and kerchiefs. It was almost a pleasant ride, but Zenahriel disliked the soundless environment, the unnatural quiet of the wood that lacked the skitter of squirrels or chirping of birds. Where before it had been a thriving paradise of wildlife, now it was not a land that welcomed life at all. They came upon a cabin, abandoned when the tragedy had struck. It was wrecked, completely in shambles, the door hanging off its hinges and the windows broken. Who knew what lay inside? Not far from its grounds, lay a dusty, dirty doll, no doubt the plaything of a child who lived, and perhaps died, here. “I pray no such a tragedy will happen to Umbra,” Zenahriel murmured. “it has stood strong against the Whispernight, but there are horrors in the world worse even than that.” He looked around cautiously, his eyes sweeping across trees and thorny bushes and poppies, endless poppies. “Keep a close watch about you, my Empress,” he said gravely. “My brother did his best to purify this place, but some things find way to survive nonetheless.”
  20. Basically, a supernaturally-attuned man lives a fairly normal life, except for a friendly ghost. But when a werewolf shows up in his bathtub, things quickly escalate into mysterious and sometimes frightening encounters with all sorts of equally mysterious people. The relationships the mains have with one another is believable and sometimes even kind of touching. Every page is in full color, which, while not necessary, a cool bonus. It moves at a steady pace, kind of slowly at times, but it's never really actually boring. I haven't read all of it though, so I can't say too much.
  21. What's the problem? Or rather, what's her problem? Is she trying to take everything you own?
  22. Looking for Group xkcd Wilde Life
  23. Whatever color or design she chose to wear, Gabriela was the very image of beauty. Her serene manner and composure only added to this, but there was still a feeling in the air that Zenahriel was no stranger to. It was a sadness – a weary, tired aura that permeated the otherwise peaceful environment of Gabriela’s simply furnished room. The Black Queen had gone through much, seen and endured tragedy of all levels and heights, and it seemed the future would bring more of the same. For a moment, Zenahriel regretted coming here, as much as he regretted his part in bringing those tragedies. Unfortunately, he was too irritated, too annoyed this day. His eyes scanned her room, roaming from corner to corner, making it clear he didn’t believe her. His mate had to be here, he felt him. The feeling was so strong, it was impossible that Raphael wasn’t here. Without asking for permission, Zenahriel stepped into the room, pausing only to shut the door behind him, making escape equally unlikely. Just as the door slipped closed, the throbbing feeling of Raphael’s presence abated. Just as it had been here, so great it was nearly uncomfortable, it was gone. Zenahriel’s brow furrowed in frustrated confusion. What was happening? His eyes finally landed on Gabriela, and stayed on her, as if realizing she was here for the first time. “Your Majesty,” he finally greeted her, rather stiffly. Another pause, and then he sighed. He straightened his posture and bowed. “I apologize for my unseemly intrusion. As you can tell… I’ve been looking for our Lord, but I’ve been unable to locate him. I thought I sensed him here, but apparently, I was wrong.” The problem was, he was not often wrong. That too nettled him. Zenahriel had heard of the troubling affairs in Orisia. It seemed it was all true. The land was quiet, but disturbed, with the Queen helpless to aid her own kingdom. “Your Maj… Gabriela,” he finally said, her name nearly a plead, “surely, not all is lost. I know I have not been here for you as I should have been, but let me be here for you now. I have never stopped…” His words faded, stopping as again the throb returned. Like heartbeat, it shot through the room in great pulses, stronger than ever before. Zenahriel’s eyes narrowed in a glare as he searched again the room, and at last, at long last, finally landed on the very source of the pulse. But it was not Raphael he saw. It was Gabriela. He moved like lightning, was suddenly looming over her, breathing in her sweet scent with his wings shadowing over them both. “What is this?” he demanded. “Why do you feel like him?”
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