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About King

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    The Virtuoso
  • Birthday 01/11/1990

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  1. Raphael Bartolome.

    10/19/2017 Update: Reformatted layout. Added: Homo Nocturnus, the Orisian Vampyre. Expanded history. Expanded Acausality and Paracausality.
  2. [Lorean] Wandering Lone Wolf

    “Okina,” she said as if to correct him. The hand on her thigh reached up and lovingly took her by the face, cupping her cheeks in fine-leather fingers, squeezing just enough to pucker her already pouty lips. “You belong to me now, she wolf,” he said pointedly, his tone low and threatening. Paris ran his thumb over her full bottom lip, pressing down on it. “I will call you whatever I like, no matter how unsavory, degrading, or irritating it may be, for that is what my coin has purchased me. Do not ever presume to correct me again.” Smiling, Paris gave her lips a single tap from his thumb and then relinquished his hold on her face. “A lone wolf, eh?” The prince’s expression turned thoughtful. “There’s an old saying of sorts about lone wolves,” he murmured. “Something about the lone wolf is the most dangerous, as they abide by no rules other than their own. But, for that, they’re twice as likely to die.” He looked her over, though she could not see it. Then he took her by the hip and pulled her back more generously, until her bottom was flush against his lap. “You seem to be doing quite well for yourself, thus far. Don’t you think so, old man?” Ser Solomon glanced over his left shoulder and nodded, then looked ahead. “Yes, My Lord.” “Don’t mind him,” Paris whispered into her keen ears. “He’s always been a bit of a stick in the mud.” His eyes wandered down to the woman’s swords, bundled up nicely and fastened to the saddle’s leather. “Tell, what type of swordsmanship do you practice with those blades? There are several types here in Lorean, but they all share a common ancestor and thus are particularly similar in many instances.”
  3. Landfall.

    Mercy, patience, understanding—many believed Raphael to be without peer, without limit in these regards, for they had been the cornerstones upon which he built his mighty empire. But there was a time not so very long ago when Ryzerus’ unsavory prompting would have disturbed his disposition, soured his mood and left him awash with ire. And yet he stood unmoving before the other High Lord’s goading, at long last the master of his pride and vanity. He knew who he was, what he was, and Ryzerus’ was of no consequence to the fact. This wasn’t about Zenahriel, he knew. He wouldn’t give Ryzerus the satisfaction of making it so, either. After holding the man’s golden gaze for a long moment, Raphael turned his attention aside, once again favoring the snow beneath their feet. He half-turned, searching, studying the mountain that curved up around them and fanned out into a great plateau. The wind impatiently swept over them again, dusting the pair in a cloud of snow and frost. Much like Ryzerus, the elder ran a hand through his raven locks, combing away the snow, and then through his downy beard, though the motion transitioned into a pensive stroke of the chin. “This looks like it will be a good place for a garden.” Raphael took a knee and eased his left hand beneath the snow, fingertips touching the firm rock below. “I promised Gabriela that I would build her a garden; a sanctuary, really, where she can retreat from the world when it all becomes too much. I think this will do just fine.” In the next moment, shadow burst free out the back of his shimmering, frosted attire. The darkness cascaded twenty feet out from his flanks, and it was from the heart of this black mist that his wings emerged. They were the first gift Zenahriel had given him, the hallmark of the High Lord and kin; and this was just the second time since his ascension that he’d ever revealed them. The feathers were full and vibrant and dark, ranging in color from the deepest blues to the darkest blacks, with a tapered scope of purples caught in between. A single, powerful beat of his wings chased away the bitter cold and snow, unearthing the mountain’s flank for a hundred feet around them in every direction. When the tempest settled, Raphael looked to the sky. It was a beautiful day. “It doesn’t matter what you call me, Ryzerus. You know who I am, what I have become. You can feel it, can't you?" Raphael was in the air they breathed, in the mountain and rocks beneath their feet. He was in the seas lapping at the eastern shores and in the creatures that fed off his land. He was in the people - their hearts, their dreams, and their fears. A knowing smile crept over his lips as ruby eyes sank like the sun, slowly, hauntingly, and settled their piercing gaze on the High Lord. “Call me whatever least unnerves you.”
  4. The Art of Acquisition

    November 21, Year of the Falcon— Today, I visit the North. It’s been a rather eventful set of weeks since my last entry. Between cleaning up that ugly business in Kadia, my dealings with Ser Paendrag, and orchestrating this audience with the Council of Coastal Grande, I’ve found incredibly little time to write. But our journey thus far has proven rather uneventful, much to my design, and Ser Paendrag is neither the most talkative nor engaging company when sober. We’ve been flying for little under an hour now, and Seven—our pilot—has informed me we’ve covered more than half of our journey already. It would seem the Everlinde’s schematics proved useful in the Artificers’ overhaul and modifying of the Ambrosia class prototype. Perhaps I’ll have Seven take us on the scenic route when returning to the Red City. It would be nice to finally see the Summer Isles, having read and heard so much about them. Though, I must admit to a worry of what influence La’Ruta may have on the ship. Initial reports seem to suggest that Orisia’s strange magic and technology-deadening atmosphere fluctuates, with its furthest reach of influence being documented along the Genesarian shore opposite of the islands themselves. Due to its adverse nature, it has been excruciatingly difficult—impossible—to study the La’Ruta phenomenon at length. Is it growing? And if so, is it exponential? Or is it more like the tides, merely adhering to the push and pull of some external force. Is La’Ruta even able to be studied, I wonder? Is it even possible to understand it, to comprehend it? Thoughts for a later time, I suppose. In lieu of possible spiritual enlightenment and scientific discovery, I will settle for the political gratification of acquiring the North. If half of what I’ve heard about the Northerners are true—namely their indomitable pride, which often borders on the lines of sheer arrogance—then this promises to be my most challenging venture yet. And who could blame them? For the longest time, the North’s army terrorized its Eastern and Southern sisters, raiding, pillaging, and plundering their fill before returning to the high plateaus and peaks of the northern coast. They have a strong, independent economy and are rely on no one other than themselves. But times have changed—Genesaris has changed. The East and South have become powerful nations unto themselves, and the Great North is no longer the fearsome threat it once was. The North’s loss of Mageside to the Empire is arguably the most significant achievement in imperial history, as it has since paved the road to this fateful meeting. Already, smaller northern cities and villages have seceded from the native government; whittling away, inch by inch, at the hold Coastal Grande retains over the land. The Council must seek that which is most beneficial for their people, and the people have spoken. Of course, no alliance—or annexation, for that matter—is ever entirely altruistic. The Empire has managed to become the monolith it is through diplomacy and peace, but that will not always be the case. There will be nations in the Midlands, perhaps in the West, that will choose war. While I find the idea of conflict particularly distasteful, it is my duty to the Empire to ensure it is ready to respond in kind. The Great North is far from defanged, and their army is indisputably revered as one of the greatest military forces to have ever existed within Genesaris. Their addition to the Imperial Host would prove invaluable, but more importantly, solidify the East’s position as the single most significant force in recent Genesarian history. The Kadians provide themselves as an unwitting accomplice in the pursuit of this goal, what with their rampant prejudice and racism. It’s an exciting bit, the God of Mankind, but one that stirs discomfort rather than soothes it. The Southern Emperor has made his edict known, and to be a subject of the South’s rule is to abide by their unrelenting conservative fanaticism. They are a threat, not only to the vast majority of non-humans—Xenos, I believe the Kadians call them—that call Genesaris home, and one I intend to take full advantage of. As it stands, the East is the high wall that shields the North from this vicious tyranny. But if we should falter, or perhaps even step aside, what would become of them then? The threat of total war and the possible extinction of one’s way of living is always a strong catalyst to inspire change in a man, but rarely can it be your only approach. Like in all things, you must need variety; you must combine that fear of loss with the certainty of profit, which is far more alluring in all regards. The Cold Mountains and the Great Barrier belong to the Empire, as do their near limitless wealth of resources. Few understood the genius of the Emperor’s selection of territory until the Umbral mining corporations, and artificer enterprises took root. The Empire’s fortune is one of great substance, and available to those within its fold. Coastal Grande is by no means impoverished, but even they wouldn’t be foolish enough to turn away such a lucrative investment. Then again, should the worst come to pass, I suppose we can always just take the North from them. We’ll see what they choose.
  5. Something of worth.

    There was no light in the space between life and death, only darkness. It stretches on cold and unending in every direction, a vast, lightless infinity. I waded the darkness for hours, no sense of course, neither here nor there and yet everywhere. I too felt infinite, eternal. I thought I saw faces in the shadows, phantoms, but they were just memories of the life I was leaving behind. My success, my failure—the people I had saved and those I had not. It was not my entire life, only the critical pieces, the ones that made me who I am. But then the darkness swallowed them whole, and I was utterly, perfectly alone. There is a pit in this seam between here and there, drinking from the darkness and likewise offering it in kind. “So, this is the end?” I stared into the abyss. It stared back. “No.” Ezekiel awoke cold and in pain. Cold because he was naked, and neither the many bandages layered to dress his wounds nor the massive, dense wool blanket pulled tight over his body could chase away the chill of the night, let alone death. His body ached, made familiarly stiff and rigid from what he could only imagine had been at least two full days of immobilizing sleep. His wounds, though properly tended to, still burned hot. Where am I? A quick survey of his surroundings revealed a modest room, plainly decorated with sturdy wooden furniture. Across from the foot of the bed was a hearth, dead and quiet; a series of slow-burning candles lined the mantle above it, the long dresser on the wall, while a few sat on the windowsill, and a lone, thickly-waxed candle stood on the stout end table near the headboard. Camila sat deeply in a chair pulled close to the bedside, slumped back and fast asleep. She looked clean, well-kept; wherever they were, she was being taken care of. The rider tried to speak, but the air felt like a bag of broken glass being dragged up his throat. He hadn’t realized the extent of his thirst before that. His tongue felt like a swollen roll of sandpaper against the roof of his mouth, his lips cracked and splintered, and his throat felt tighter than a serpent’s coil. Maybe she could fetch him a drink? “Camila,” he whispered. The sound was thin, dry like a desert wind sweeping over a smooth stone. She didn’t stir. Taking stock of his surroundings once again, Ezekiel noticed an iron pitcher and small cup on the end table. He could almost feel the cold water inside, and the thought only punctuated his rapidly growing thirst. He managed to slip onto his side and shimmy an arm free from the blanket’s weight, reaching for the cup. His bandaged arm trembled, his fingers shook, and the dull embers of pain scattered throughout his body were quickly being fanned into roaring flames. Hooking a finger over the lip of the cup, Ezekiel tugged, but it was too heavy of a pull, and the iron tipped over and crashed to the floor with a loud clang, throwing a quick splash of water. An embarrassed smile greeted the startled noble.
  6. The Sitraic Faith

    The Kraken and the Sea of Corruption The following are the decrypted personal memories of [REDACTED]; Third Chief Seraphim of the Sitraic Host, retrieved from his sword found along the black sands of the Shattered Coast. They detail the discovery of the Kraken and the incursion of its domain, the Sea of Corruption, at the furthest reaches of the Maelstrom. Several sequences have been omitted from all records. The Shattered Coast; Six Hours before Contact— It’s been some time since I last saw the interloper. I remember when he shed his former self down to the bone, name and meat, to become something new; something made of this place. He killed a demon and took its strength, I remember, and with that strength he forged a blade. [CORRUPTED], Sitra Ahkra named him. I wonder what has become of him. Has he grown fat from strength, as is the one true way? Has he sharpened his blade— What was that? I can tell from the looks of the brothers and sisters among me that they’ve felt it too. Something has come; it lingers still, beyond the black horizons, at the furthest reaches of the Maelstrom where not even the tempest dare stray. But we are not the violent winds, the lapping sea, or the crumbling earth. We are the lords of this realm; our charge is to go where others will not. We will see this commotion settled. The Maelstrom; Two Hours before Contact— The tempest is calm. In all my existence, never have I see it so. From the strength of the disturbance, I thought we might witness the birth of an archdaemon—but there is no sign of such an occurrence. The skies are dark, undisturbed. The winds are silent. Only the sea churns beneath us, tireless, until its black waves reach high enough to lick my heels. Something is wrong. I can feel it. The others can feel it, too. The Dark Horizon looms before us. We press on. The Maelstrom; Contact— We were fools to come here. It reaches up from the waves, an endless coil of flesh and malice, and swallows [REDACTED] whole in its spade-shaped petals. Another crushes [REDACTED] into the black depths. I draw my sword, one of the first born of the Deep’s logic. It rends the coil’s flesh with ease. The severed limb bleeds taint; it tastes of poison. More come, and I cut and tear and rip myself free of them. I will not let the beast have me. The others are not as strong—their blades not as sharp. [REDACTED] is gone. A coil curls around [CORRUPTED] and crushes them into chunks of meat and splinters of bone. There’s a pressure at my back, then pain. My wings are gone. I plummet into the ocean, dragged down by the beast. The surface creeps slowly out of my reach. I will not make it back. I will die here. Below is a tear in the ocean, a great and terrible eye, and within it a pit of void and starlight—not of Sitra Ahkra. I am somewhere else. The others, they must know. Unknown; Moments before Death— I have destroyed myself to do this. The creature has tasted my flesh, ate of my power and now demands more. I feel its will in my blood and in my brain. I look to my sword. My blade is forever. Within this old blade are the laws of existence and even in this damning hell the world creases along its smooth edge. I will make this creature understand our power. It will be my final act of service to the Host. I place all myself into the blade – what I know, what I have seen. Look to it, and understand: this knowledge will be your deliverance. It will help you blind this great eye. It will change your fate. I summon all the strength left in me and throw my sword. It cuts free, parting tidal waves of tainted reality and black ocean. It vanishes into the sky. The waters rush back in, crushing, consuming me. I see the beast— [CORRUPTED] A great deal of the information regarding the Kraken and its primary domain, the Sea of Corruption, is still subject to conjecture among Sitraic scholars and cryptarchs. The predominant theory, however, is that the beast was lured to the shores of the neighboring sub-plane (underlining the Genesarian prime material) due to its almost identical composition to the Sea of Corruption. As described in the Liber Corvinum (Verse 18:12), the Sea of Corruption is a highly concentrated vat of sentience and emotional energy. Unlike Sitra Ahkra, which can only be touched and affected by those of the Faith, the Sea of Corruption is subjected to the influence of every creature capable of complex thought and emotion. It is especially sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of humans, which has caused the human-centered Kadian Empire to become the greatest culprit in feeding the Sea’s ravenous tides. Within the Sea of Corruption dwells the Kraken, the All-Devourer. It is an eldritch entity born from the depths of the rolling sea of chaos, corrupting all that it touches with its presence into scourgeborn, loyal thralls to its will. It is believed by many to be an amalgamation of all the plane’s aspects in their most extreme state; and as such, there are those that feel the Kraken is little more than a reflection of humanity’s true self, a beast born of their impulsive ways and uncompromising behaviors.
  7. As I told Missfortune, enjoy your stay in Umbra. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. I'm always around.

  8. Enjoy your stay in Umbra. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.

    1. LikelyMissFortune


      Thankyou so much! I'll make sure to!

  9. [Ravenspire] Finally.

    It appeared the culprit, this Farkis, saw no reason to maintain his facade as carefully as he had mere moments ago. As the troupe of guests and soldiers made their way back to the private chamber in wait, the Titan opened up to the young girl in the Imperial’s coil with a sense of finality, as if it were to be the last time they spoke and this would help her understand why. He revealed past grizzly crimes (the killing of Terran innocents, some of which were undoubtedly children), but more important, and far from hidden, was his complete lack of remorse regarding the matter. Making matters worse, this lack of empathy was not primal, instinctual—in which case the vampyre would have understood. Lions, wolves, and bears do not mourn their prey, fire does not pity the burned, and floods certainly do not pity the drowned—but instead came off boastful, even satisfied, as if confessing to some unintentional masterpiece that only confirmed his genius. Farkis, Raphael noted with mounting unease, was little more than a psychopath. Even so, it would be easy enough to protect Gabriela when—no longer a matter of if, the vampyre surmised—things turned ugly. The Kadian knights were powerful men and women, and the fragility of their birth was safely walled away behind their augmentations, their tempered steel, their rigorous training, and their keen battle tactics. And with the boon of Corvinus’ tyrannical aura still very much a factor in play, they would likely prove a surprising nuisance even to the Titan. But it was the young girl that complicated the situation, if only by being there, by being a victim. If by some stroke of misfortune the child was placed in harm’s way, Raphael was not foolish enough to believe Gabriela would stand idly aside. Just as she had gotten them into this mess by doing the “right thing,” by demanding they assist the wounded child rather than keep their distance, than take time to access the situation, she would not hesitate to throw herself into the fray. It was in her nature to be impulsive, and in a dance where every second mattered, every moment even more critical than the next, the vampyre could not help but worry his cousin’s bleeding heart would prove more costly than ever before. Indeed, it was an uninspiring sort of affair, and the exhaustion Farkis partook of also found companionship in Raphael as well, leaving his expression weathered, his eyes dark, and a soured frown on his thin lips. Up ahead, the remaining half of the guards stood in silent vigil. Gabriela, listen to me very carefully. They’re bringing him back to the room so that the child can identify him, but this man doesn’t intend to suffer the consequences. There is a window on the north wall. Stand by it, and keep the girl close to you. Should the worst come to pass, you take her and run. You run as far away from this place as you can. I will find you. The guards parted with practiced, mechanical sync as Raphael neared the opened doors first, the Titan behind him, followed closely by Altair and the young woman. The men and women formed a funnel of sorts at the threshold, spilling the newest arrivals into the room in a neat, orderly fashion. Raphael stood at the center, tall and broad at the shoulders, nearly obscuring Farkis’ entire figure from those inside (all things considered). The child, awake but drunk with the weariness of her ordeal, hugged Gabriela close as she looked upon her healer once more—not with disdain, but neither was it with favor. She would not forget the pain his help had caused her – that cold, joyless eye would forever be a momento of this horrible night. It wasn’t until the vampyre moved deeper into the room, favoring the northern wall almost immediately, that Farkis became the grand centerpiece. Gabriela and the child’s position allowed for a perfect view of those coming and going, and now the child could once again see the monster that had wounded her. And see him she did, in perfect clarity - all the exhaustion and fatigue bled from her face, and she pressed herself close to the Black Queen, tension welding her grip and making her rigid with fear. Eyes wide, the trembling child pointed to the Titan and screamed.
  10. Landfall.

    A lone man stood atop one of the many nameless peaks of the Cold Mountains. Shorter than the mighty Ruzhal, less enchanting than the mystical Tyrin, and depopulated unlike the inviting Eira, it was nevertheless a good mountain. The snow was soft, fresh, and the weather was fair: a quiet overcast of iron gray that stretched on, vanishing into a black horizon. The wind was inexplicably calm, settled—but whenever it stirred, weaving through the high peaks and combing the low valleys, small flurries of snow and frost danced around his ankles to its whisper. To any of the mountain’s denizens, the man standing there in the snow would have been inappropriately dressed for such a harsh climate. He was clad in black silk that shimmered in the gray, filtered sunlight, and rippled wildly at the slightest touch of the wind. The thin material hugged his figure loosely at the arms, and legs, but held tight at the waits, chest, and shoulders, favoring his breadth. And though bare at the hands and feet, the man in black neither shivered nor trembled from the cold. “You’ve kept me waiting,” the man in black said. Closing his eyes, he dug his toes deep into the snow, smiling. “I thought you might show some punctuality for once.” The Cold Mountains was their home, his home. It hadn’t always been this way, of course, but the man in black had learned a special appreciation for the mystic chain after his ascension. It was the blood of the High Lords that flowed through his veins, he knew; and though his might was not shackled to the sprawling continent below as theirs was, he was never more powerful than when he stood upon the land of his second birth, his ascension. Perhaps that is why his host had chosen this place? If this meeting were to turn harsh, the Cold Mountains provided the closest setting to neutral grounds. Or they had, at one time. Opening his eyes, the man in black leveled a red gaze on the shadow across from him, further along the mountain’s crest. His eyes were darker than any blood, soaked so heavy in color and power they were nearly black. They were the same eyes he’d last seen before that infinite black, only to be reborn some hours later, and yet this time they held neither the same wicked intent nor malice. Eyes that once seemed to look upon the shadow with admiration, respect, and a firm sense of equality now seemed to look down from highest reaches of ascension, as a man might an ant before he crushed it beneath his heel. “What is it, Ryzerus?” The man in black asked.
  11. The Book of Insight

    Verse 3:1 — Snakes in a Dragon's Shadow "I trust things are going smoothly?" "We finalized the last of the countermeasures this evening, Lord Imperator." "Ha, even better than I imagined. You've truly proven yourself invaluable to the Empire, Ser Victor. Your Lord Father was right-- is something wrong?" "The countermeasures, sir." "What of them?" "These are warfare protocols, Lord Imperator. They seem..." "Excessive?" "Merciless." "These are not for our protection so much as they are to make a point. Your Lord Father may be content to dance with snakes that would sooner bite him at the crack of a fiend's tail, but I do not intend to play such a dangerous game. If there comes a time the Regent forgets the Empire's generosity, I will remind them of its wrath-- and reduce everything they have built here to ash." "I see." "I don't think I've ever seen you smile before, Ser Victor. Something amusing?" "No, Lord Imperator. It has just become unquestioningly clear why the Lord Father made you Hand."
  12. Good to see you posting. I hope life has been well for you and the family.

    1. Ayden


      Thank you, we're still adjusting but I'm just happy I still get some time to do what I enjoy. I appreciate you reaching out. 

  13. [Lorean] Wandering Lone Wolf

    While the mercenary’s independence and hardened sense of self was one of the many attractive qualities she possessed, Paris was undeniably pleased with her acquiescence to his offer. Her submissive ways, even if purchased, were far more appealing to a predator of his likes. “Ladies first,” he purred, taking two generous handfuls of her hips. He lifted her with his monstrous strength, unnatural for one his size, and placed her daintily upon the steed’s back. He climbed up after, just as swift and seamless, and secured an arm around her while the other took the reins. “We have a lovely view of the country on our ride back the capital,” Paris whispered against the smooth paleness of her neck, caressing its curve with the stubble of his chin and the softness of his lips. The goading drive of his heels into the mare’s sides spurred her into a light, casual trot. A final wave to the village’s people marked his farewell, and soon, the modest establishments were behind them. “I suppose that’s one of the reason I have never taken issue with visiting these out-of-the-way abodes, sprinkling the outskirts and mountain valleys. It’s all so…” He trailed off, his pause owed to their overwhelmingly gorgeous surroundings. Even in the bleak aftermath of the Whispernight, the worst in all the recorded histories of Genesaris, the loveliness of Lorean’s wilderness persisted, unscathed, untainted. “…beautiful.” Paris returned his attention to the she wolf against his lap with a squeeze to her nude thigh. “But enough about that,” he averted in an even softer tone. “I want to learn more about you, she wolf.” The crown prince nuzzled his nose into the bed of her hair, tickling just beneath her sensitive ears as he took in a slow, hearty breath of her wild scent. “If you are a wolf, certainly you have—or had—a pack. What has become of them, do you know? Why are you here alone?”
  14. Confession Thread

    I confess that I can't masturbate with my left hand. I tried it the other day and it just felt like some clumsy stranger was touching me; totally took me out of the mood.
  15. [Ravenspire] Finally.

    Irritated, baffled, and a little more than incredulous, Raphael leveled his acute gaze on the royal child standing before him. His fetching appearance was about all he had inherited from the Kadian Emperor, it seemed, and what a pity it was. How one could find such behavior acceptable was beyond even the vampyre’s understanding. Feeling safe and protected in the comfort of his father’s shadow, Raphael supposed, and the realization showed in the way his expression visibly relaxed. You could not fault a child for their behavior, uncouth though it may have been, no more than you could a poorly trained dog for its excessive barking or snapping. The fault rested with his parents, and regrettably, neither Corvinus nor Leoa were within reach to put Altair over their lap for a proper spanking. At the same time, Corvinus and Leoa had done wonders with the lion’s share of their lot, with the time and resources allotted to them. Taking into consideration the enormous size of their pride, and of course, their odd inclinations for rapidly maturing their offspring (predominantly in the physical, it seemed), Raphael could see how one might slip through the crevices. “Yes,” Raphael agreed with a friendly, inviting smile. “There’s no need for veiled threats. I’m sure the young child will confirm your innocence, decrying my senses which have served me without fail the entirety of my life. After all—mm, what’s that old saying you humans use?” Raphael pursed his lips as glanced at the ceiling, pensive. “Ah, yes, I remember it now: there’s a first time for everything.” Half-turning, which caused the guards tight at his flank to step aside in proper militant fashion (no doubt at the imperial’s command), Raphael paused as he glanced back, ruby eyes finding Farkis once again. There was no hiding the way his gaze scrolled the man’s height, neither curious nor alarmed, but instead critical. The Titan truly was a handsome man, Raphael noted sadly, with those shifting eyes of his, gold, then blue, being the most enjoyable feature. There were things you could change about yourself, things you could mask, and then others you could erase entirely; but so too were there things that remained as they were, immune to manipulation or alteration. The latter, Raphael engraved into the very bedrock of his deep memory. “No matter what fate awaits you at their hands for harming that child, I will repay you for making me endure this little charade. You have irreparably ruined my night,” he said as a father might to their child, lips creasing with the hint of a frown. “I don’t take kindly to that.” There was no imposing defiance against Corvinus’ tyrannical will and influence to punctuate the vampyre’s claims; no uncontrollable surge of raw existence, no coruscating radiance, blinding as it was beautiful, to mark the stirring of a power cultivated long before even the first of the Melisende lions had learned to crawl, let alone walk. Instead, he remained quite content to profit from the investment of their ill perception of him, as was his way. Raphael’s smile returned, charming and notably harmless. “This way.” One could only hope this farce wouldn’t cost him his dance with Olympia. He’d made a promise after all, and Raphael was nothing else if not a man of his word.