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King last won the day on May 23

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About King

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    The Virtuoso
  • Birthday 01/11/1990

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  1. “We rest.” Rune is good at what he does, but he isn’t a machine. It doesn’t matter how easy the killing is, that kind of work is a full body exercise. It takes more energy than anyone ever truly wants to let on, and for Rune, he isn’t the spring chicken he once was. At nearly thirty seasons a piece, his joints have started to ache, his quickness slowed—but not too much. “We’ve got plenty of time, now.” Looking toward the north end of the city, he nods. “I saw the manor. It’s mostly ruined now, but it’ll be better than freezing in the snow. That’s where I wanted to start looking, anyway.” I’m still not even sure what we’re looking for. There’s an itch of irritation again, making itself known in the back of his mind. Their employer—whoever they happen to be—certainly has no intention of making their job easy. But the pay is worth it, Rune reminds himself. The crunching of snow beneath his booted heels barely masks the irate grinding of his teeth. The manor’s rotted doors sit awkwardly on their rusted hinges, nearly dangling in the threshold. Rune kicks one free, letting it fall to the powdered floor with a muted thud. There’s no need for subtlety. There are holes in the vaulted ceiling, but not in every room, and Rune quickly finds the most secure and welcoming. The furniture is in tatters, gone to rot and sport for rodents, but it’s dry, and the walls are wholesome barriers against the frigid winds. “I’ll get a fire going,” Rune says, collecting kindling.
  2. “No one that deserves your time,” Rafael replied, a hint of venom dripping in his tone. It seemed as though Koji and those that followed him had the rather nasty habit of showing up where they weren’t wanted, and more annoyingly, making something of a scene when they did so. Darkness, the great abyss, that ‘ominous aura’—yes, it seemed that the self-proclaimed emperor and those that followed him were rather partial to the theatrics. And while Rafael had always enjoyed a good drama, he found this particular cast wanting. “We’ll wait here until they’re finished.” Rafael untangled his hand from the raven’s and slid it into his pocket, while the other returned to those vibrantly painted pinions. He ran his fingertips along their lengths gently, lovingly, knowing how much pleasure these small acts of intimacy brought the High Lord. “Yellow, orange, and red,” the elder said, returning to their earlier conversation. “We can pick specific shades together, but that gradient will look spectacular.” Blue, silver-whites, and perhaps a deep purple for the winter… The uneasy crowd surrounding them brought his attention back to the present as they shifted and squirmed, parting for the man and his entourage like water against a stone. But while the civilians all but fled, whether out of fear or respect, Rafael remained motionless—not so far into the path that he would impede their departure, but well within a single armspan of Koji as he passed. Perhaps he would recognize the elder as he stood there tending to his lover’s wings, or, perhaps that knowledge had faded from memory? After all, Rafael was a particularly nondescript man, preferring the clandestine afforded with obscurity. When Koji and those nipping at his heels had passed them by, Rafael started toward the regent, Zenahriel at his side. “Lady Akako,” the elder called out to her sweetly, eyes bright and lips curved in a smile of delight. “The festival appears to be going quite well, sans some minor inconveniences.” A back-tilted of the head suggested his meaning. “That aside, I would like to introduce you to someone. This is Zenahriel Zacharias Darkness, High Lord of Genesaris and, to my eternal gratefulness, my mate.” Looking at the raven, he tilted his head toward the kitsune. “This is absolute beauty is Lady Akako Akari, regent of Port Caelum.”
  3. Rafael sat alone in his study, an open tome posed in his lap, a stack of others he’d read that week piled high near the corner of his desk, and growing taller with each passing night. With the mutual “civility” between him and his wife proving to be surprisingly well-lived, the elder had found himself with something of an abundance of free time. No longer was there a need to stalk her every move, or play puppeteer, and so to fill that void, he’d once again fallen into the habit of extensive reading. His latest find, a religious chronicling of the immediate years after Zare’s creation of both Genesaris and its native men, titled The Beginning of All: A History of Man in Genesaris, was cumbersome and dense, but informative to say the very least. Rafael—the call seemed to slip through the walls, soundless and ethereal, dancing on the stillness of the study’s air. What a familiar voice… It had been well over a year since he’d heard it last, and though there were a great many differences, Rafael’s mind tingled with the stirring of long-buried memories, freshly exhumed by the love and affection of woman still captivated by his allure. Where have I heard you before? the elder wondered, delicately plucking the voice from the sea of others that lapped at the shores of the Faith. He listened to it closely, like a soft melody, searching the depths of his mind for similar tone and cadence, until at long last he stumbled across that which he sought. Were she born to any other bloodline, Rafael might have thought it impossible. Olympia had been little more than a child when they met, still short and thin enough to hide behind her father’s legs. The voice that dared to beseech him now, it belonged to a woman most certainly grown; and though still somewhat sweet and bubbly, was generously rich with both elegance and seduction. Let’s see what has become of you, little one. Closing the heavy tome and setting it down, Rafael answered the child’s prayer. # A simple breeze, soft and gentle, but wholly unnatural, swept across the hill and heralded the elder’s arrival. Rafael appeared not a moment after she’d finished her thought, as if summoned by her longing, standing but a handspan from the tips of her booted feet. He wore black silk that night, a loose pair of trousers and a long-sleeved tunic; both his hands and feet were bare. He’d been cleanly shaven the first night they met, properly groomed for her parents’ wedding, but now his beard was full and luxurious, dark as the hair atop his head. And though his eyes were not quite the same, no longer red but blue, bluer than the ocean at midday, the fondness he’d had for her still swam in their depths. “I gave that rose to a little girl,” Rafael teased, his accent thick. “And yet, a woman holds it now.” The Melisendes were the strangest creatures, in that regard. It seemed they were so eager to rob their ilk of their childhood. It pained some small part of him that Olympia, and her siblings as well, had been cheated of the opportunity to enjoy that—to simply be. “I suppose it should have been expected.” His gaze lingered on the blade she carried, a heavy burden, to be sure. A smile curved his thin lips. “It’s been quite a while, princess, and you’re a long way from home.” He extended a hand, large and pale as the moon, toward her in assistance. “Pleased as I am to see you, as your father’s ally, it would be unseemly of me not to ask… what are you doing here?”
  4. Much to Paris’ disappointment, the remainder of their journey—while undoubtedly beautiful and captivating—was an uneventful bore. It’d been weeks since his last duel, and longer still since he’d been forced to defend himself from a real threat. Like most warriors shelved from the fields of battle, the crown prince worried his skills had rusted, his edge dulled; fewer things terrified him more than that. Dusk set upon them, and night quickly followed. They’d made good headway into the northwest, and judging from the thickets and bubbling creeks, now stood amongst the outskirts of the kingdom’s northeast flank. Ser Solomon proposed traveling a little further, knowing of a town with a modest inn not several miles further, but Paris had grown stiff in his saddle and tired of riding. Besides, one could not marvel at the beauty of the world when caged. Paris took his time stretching, working the stiffness out of his legs and lower back. Helaine seemed to enjoy the space as well, arching her back deeply near his feet, then brushing her ears along the fine leather of his boots. When Solomon set off to collect firewood, the she-kitten took off after him, following him by his armor as it glinted in the moonlight. “Solomon makes a rather good stew,” Paris said idly. “I’m sure that’s what we’ll be having to eat. I saw him stuffing the ingredients into his satchel before we left.” There was a hint of displeasure in his voice, just enough to heat the air. “Hopefully, he’ll not attempt to scorch my tongue from my skull with too much spice this time.” Idly pacing about the low grass, Paris found his way to a tree and planted his back against it, arms at his sides, a single heel hiked up against the bark. He watched Okina move, almost dancing from light to shadow; she seemed free her, like him, more comfortable than in the grand halls of the palace or in the lavish chambers that filled it. “You truly are a magnificent creature, Okina,” he purred. “I’m rather pleased to have met you.”
  5. King

    Time will tell

    “Our ancient traditions are nothing more than a history of reckless gambling. Sometimes, we're rewarded with kindness, but others, with brutal tyranny and utter incompetence,” Alexandros added when quick-tongued woman, Abigail, finished her spat. “I find both ridiculous credentials to inspire any manner of pride or following, and judging from the rather animated cast of characters assembled here today, I find it equally ridiculous to imply that any of our houses have produced a proper monarch to govern us. “I believe there is a saying, penned by some famous physicist that goes by the name Albert: The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.’” Alexandros cut the woman a look so sharp it could cleave to the bone, though his tone remained balanced. “Keep your generational slavery to tradition for the sake of it to yourself.” In his father’s abdication, of which even Andross was unaware, Alexandros had sworn they would never serve another monarch. House Kholin had lost far too much under the Tyrant King’s reign and gained far too little under the neglectful rule of their current handler. There would be a republic, or they would set out on their own, a city-state, answering to none but themselves. But there would be time to address that later. For now, there was a murdering bastard and his simple-minded daughter to deal with. The young man, Grant, spoke – or rather he opened his mouth and strange noises came out, none of which sounded intelligent. Then came the blind elf lord, more eloquent and poised, although somewhat longwinded. Alexandros settled into the role of witness and audience as the elf lord prattled on, nimble fingers brushing over unfolded parchment as he spoke their content. Elves, drow, an ‘angel’ as their ‘ruler’—where had these invaders come from? How had the nobles, pureblooded and humane, become so blind as to allow these fiends to penetrate their councils and break the sacred lines of humanity that had governed these islands for generations? It was pitiful. When the elf lord finished with his odd request, Alexandros stole the silence for himself. “Again, for those that did not hear, Oscar’s fate for his crimes against the nation of Ursa Madeum is not for any single person here to decide, even the Lady Varda. “It will set a precedent, a dangerous one at that. We cannot control the actions of every individual linked to our Houses. If we grant Lady Varda the right to singlehandedly choose whether or not this man lives or dies, then we equally invest that right in ourselves—and say what you will, lie to yourself if you must, but there will come a time when you will use that right, for better or for worse.” Alexandros set his elbows on the table, laced his gloved fingers together and posed them just before his face. “There is a difference between true justice, which is blind, and mob justice; a justified execution and a revenge killing. It would seem that the majority of you lack the awareness to determine which is which,” he said calmly, eying all those that had so eagerly chanted for Oscar’s death. “Or, perhaps you simply don’t care, which would be even more telling. “Sir Ampelos is correct. At a bare minimum, the future livelihood of the slain knight’s families should be ensured by House Uldwar. As for Oscar and his simpleton daughter, they should be jailed, for the time being, their titles stripped along with all the honors and rights that come with them, until the future of Ursa Madeum’s government is settled. Then we can discuss trials and executions based on a universally agreed upon standard for the entire nation.” Then, he turned his hazel eyes toward the young child that believed himself witty, or superior, and then toward the over-the-top-in-vulgarity drow. “As for the other criminal, the drow there,” he noted with a point of his chin, “Shouldn't she be jailed, as well? None can say whether or not her little secret may have averted some of Oscar’s wilder antics, but aiding and abetting piracy is, and always has been a crime."
  6. King

    Time will tell

    “I don’t see why you need me here.” “Because you’re my brother, and more importantly, I want you here.” “There are more pressing matters that need my attention.” “More pressing than the future of our house? No, I thought not.” “I’ll not be able to contribute anything from the viewing.” “You don’t need to. This is my forte, Andross.” “We are agreed. So again, why am I here?” “To mingle. I need people to know who you are for when I marry you off.” “What?” Teasing Andross had long-since been a favored pastime of the elder twin, but also a manner of diluting conversations he deemed too personal, too intimate. It would be unfitting for Alexandros to tell his younger twin that he felt vulnerable without him, and that if—by some unholy curse—the worst came to pass and violence erupted in the halls, there wasn’t another soul in the world he’d rather have there to defend him. Alexandros was far from helpless by any means, but years of study in the arts, philosophy, commerce, and political doctrine came at the expense of martial prowess. He was to be a general, a tactician, and his brother the warrior – he the wielder, and Andross the sword. And such a truth, engraved into them since birth, showed in their appearance. Whereas his brother wore his hair longer, free at the base but tailed at the top, Alexandros kept his white hair short, neatly cropped and tamed. He was several fingers taller than most men, and though less muscular than his brother, still boasted a generously athletic physique that his formal military attire, a soft blue in color and trimmed with silver, complemented quite well. His bronze face was freshly shaven, his jawline sharp, lips full, nose a slender slope, and his hazel eyes held in their gaze both a nobleman’s curiosity and knowing. In his right hand he carried a single folder, filled with documents no doubt similar to those the other representatives have brought. At his hip hung a saber, its handguard gilded and encrusted with old Rosinderian jewels that still held the shimmer and gleam of the old homeland. There was a notably inquisitive air about him as he entered the room, surveying the other attendees. Alexandros knew none of them by face, what with House Kholin’s isolationist practices, but he caught a name here and there as they were flung in cursory introductions, and quickly learned who was who. Alexandros took his seat quietly near the Lady Varda, uninterested—at least for the moment—in any small talk the other nobles might take comfort in. Instead, his eyes drifted off to the piano, where Rozharon, the “angel-queen,” brought to life a tune the elder twin had never heard before, but appreciated. The motive for its birth mattered little in the face of its beauty.
  7. The rider arched a dark eyebrow. “Ezekiel,” he clarified. “And only two types of people use poison – cowards and assassins. I’m neither.” Then he went back to shoveling spoonfuls of soup into his mouth, seemingly paying his guest no mind. “But if I wanted to kill you without getting my hands dirty, I would’ve just let Rohirym do it. He’s good at that.” Sure enough, the rider knew nothing of the man standing before him, but he’d never met a man, shade, spirit, fiend, beast, or any mix of the lot that could withstand a dragon’s truefire. As if summoned by the mention of his name, the massive wyvern rose over the treeless western ridge. Clenched in its jaws was the throat of a troll, no smaller than the one Ezekiel leaned against, yet looking almost childish when compared to the serpent. Its black scales shimmered with violet highlights as they caught the sun, red frills running the length of its neck and spine, bright, tapered ivory horns curving back along the sides of its face. The wyvern studied the guest with keen, molten gold eyes – surprisingly aware and inquisitive – before setting its meal across a slab of stone and scorching it black with flames. Then, it tore away limbs and chunks with enormous bites. “You want the lantern,” Ezekiel said matter of factly. “I’ve no reason not to give it to you. I needed it for killing undead, unnaturals, but that was when Rohirym—well, I’ve found that dragonfire does that trick just fine.” Setting his spoon in the wooden bowl, now filled with little more than a puddle of broth, the rider retrieved the iron-wrought relic from his belt clip and tossed it at the stranger with a dismissive flip of an armored hand. “I’ve got some unfinished business on the Mountain. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there, but there’s a darkness about it, rooted deep in the rock, and somehow, it’s tied to that lantern. I’d appreciate it a great deal if you’d let me borrow it when the time comes, to sort all that out. Or to come along, if you care to. Or tell me to fuck off, if that’s your way.” Finished with his stew, the rider eyed the pot. “You sure you don’t want some? I’m not half bad a cook.”
  8. As I mentioned in Discord, I'll be posting tomorrow.
  9. King


    Had things gone a bit differently that day, it would have been easy for the ranger to take Eleri’s offer without hesitation. The celebrations of mortal folk were something the elf had come to enjoy during his stay in the east, from the various ales and meats to the equally various types of people. A handful of those young, bright-eyed maidens his partner spoke of had already been introduced to him in a more intimate state, and yes, even a handful of the handsome gentlemen. But at that moment, he couldn’t have cared less for their company; something far more pressing weighted his conscious. Ashelewyn looked at her with solemnness in his bright blue eyes. “I suppose we’ll both just stay in tonight, then.” Music already filled the air by the time they reached the stable, along with the strong aroma of smoked meats, fresh bread, and bubbling stews. The ranger took his time shuttling all of their spoils from the hunt into the barn, and when he was finished, he let his horse roam freely about the grounds. His birthright may have severed his connection to the magic of the land, but as with all their kind, he possessed a unique relationship with the creatures that inhabited it. He and the horse were bonded, more friends than rider and mount, and that bred a certain trust between them. “It isn’t the most luxurious,” Ashelewyn said as he carried the heaviest satchel toward the back of the barn, setting it down carefully at his feet. “But, it will give us some privacy. Close the door when you’re in?” Loosening the satchel’s neck, he let the fabric slump to the side. It burped out the small chimera pup, still fast asleep from the starguide’s magic. She winked into view in a soft glow of white light, looming over the creature’s three heads. The light pulsed. “You can wake him up, sure,” Ashe replied. “But keep him relaxed.” The mote of light circled around the creature, letting stardust fall in its trail. As it touched the chimera pup, sluggish wakefulness worked its way back into it. The first head to awaken was the dragon’s, with a roar more akin to a soft yelp; then the ram’s, bleating mercifully; and then finally came the lion, purring and droopy-eyed. It took the pup a moment to find its balance, and it fell onto its collective faces and side several times, but then it was steady, moving with a slow, curious pace. Ashelewyn intercepted the creature’s path and crouched down to stroke a finger beneath its chins, one after the other, and to his surprise, the creature relished the affection. You probably miss your mother, the ranger thought, a displeased frown pulling at his mouth. That is my fault, and my fault alone. I’ve spent too much time on this quest; I’ve started losing sight of the big picture, of what is truly important. How different things might have played out if only he’d taken the time to notice the signs, to piece things together. “I’m sorry, little one,” he murmured. Standing, he crossed over to a bale of hay and plucked a handful from its flank. The goat bleated tiredly, and the chimera slowly meandered over to him. He set the hay on the ground, along with a scrap of meat for both the lion and dragon. With the chimera taken care of, the ranger finally sat, gazing up at the sky through a large slot in the barn’s roof. He said nothing for a long, long while.
  10. Alexandros. Andross will be spectating.
  11. Alexandros and Andross Kholin will be in attendance.
  12. There… Except, he wouldn’t—and didn’t. While it was clear that Cain had done his research on the Lion’s Lantern, insofar as who possessed it, it was equally clear he’d done no such digging on the man himself. Ezekiel was many things, but a duelist, he was not. So, the figure that stalked the horizon, blurred by heat mirage, revealed itself to be none other than the boy Cain had sent in the first place. There was an eagerness to his step as he approached, not to present the news Ezekiel had charged him with, but to spend the two gold pieces he’d received for his hard work. With one, perhaps he’d buy some fresh clothes and treat the butcher’s daughter, Alalynn, to the lunch he’d been daydreaming of since he’d first laid eyes on her. With the other, he’d be able to put a good meal on the table for his mother and siblings for the rest of the week. At an armspan from the man, favoring his unarmed side, the boy presented Cain with a crumpled piece of parchment. There was a simple message scrawled upon it, rough but legible. Head north. Follow the smoke. His duty complete, the boy turned and headed for Blairville, two gold pieces clicking in his pocket. Somewhere north… Ezekiel sat amongst the smoldering ruins of an orc encampment, back against the belly of a decapitated troll. Its massive, doughy body was a comfortable alternative to the harsh bark of the arch trees surrounding them, and his nose had long-since been desensitized to such awful odors. A small fire burned at the rider’s feet, while a cauldron dangled from a spit above it. Beef stew bubbled loudly inside the black iron, its spiced aroma struggling against the foul stench of rot wafting through the woods. On the log that served as his seat sat a pair of wooden bowls, spoons, and a single ladle. “Apologies for declining your invitation,” Ezekiel spoke over the gurgling of stew. “I’d already been contracted to handle this encampment. Priorities.” He gestured at the cauldron. “There’s some stew, if you’d like some. Orcs didn’t have much in terms of spices, but they had good hog meat.” The rider was armed, of course. His sword lay flat across the ground beside him, sunken in a bed of grass, its blade gleaming, broken at the tip. A name was etched into the bevel near the hilt, but it had been scuffed and scratched beyond legibility. The wind seemed to howl as it swept over the steel, slicing against its unnatural edge. Ezekiel eyed the man. “You got a name?”
  13. King

    Laws Yet Inked

    Yes, how cruel and heartless Gabriela could have been if only their latest understanding had come from a place of love and adoration; if it were even an echo of the sentiment she shared for the devil that no longer cared to love her. It might have wounded his pride to see her reached for the dull blade resting quietly on a stack of unopened envelopes, and wounded him further still when she brought it to his palm and began working it into his flesh. You see, the problem with elders – especially those as powerful as Rafael – was that they healed remarkably fast, even amongst their own kind. So as that dull blade bit into his skin, opening him, it fought to close itself, healing as quickly as the wound was delivered. Rafael might have flinched at the pain as she gored his palm, working that dull edge against his magnificent skin, had he not already lost an eye for her. He may have grimaced as she bored for her single droplet of blood—her inheritance—like a madman seeks oil, had he not already suffered far worse on the battlefields of Atitland, or in the capital, reclaiming Orisia from the grips of her usurping cousin, Desmond. Rafael had come to know all manners of pain on his conquest for Gabriela’s heart and the birth of their child, but this? It was little more than an itch, an irritant dismissed from his mind the moment she pulled the blade away and lapped at his skin, an unintentional kiss to a wound no longer there. Still, he could hardly deny this about-face in persona suited her. “You’re right, of course,” Rafael said as he removed his hands from her, righting his posture, standing tall and proud above his dark, elegant wife. “You’ll forgive me. Old habits and all that.” If she thought that she might sour his mood with her sudden declaration of agency and demand for respect, she would find herself sorely mistaken. For years, Rafael had enjoyed his liberties in great excess—none of them necessities, merely debaucherous joys he’d allowed himself while she took her sweet time sorting her affairs. The page she believed herself to be writing, Rafael had inked more than his share of prose in blood, and had, for all this time, been eagerly awaiting her collaboration. “I will certainly do better.” The mention of their child, however, spurred within him an affection that would not be cast aside so easily, no matter what she believed this newfound equality to entail. The same hand she’d used to pay his blood debt pressed against her belly, just beneath her navel, where he thumbed the hint of a swell. He could feel the little light growing inside her, warm like the sun, his progeny—it was unlike anything he’d ever experience. “For the both of you.” Whether it was wisdom or manipulation, or perhaps some devious combination of the two, Gabriela spoke with sagely wisdom in regards to their unborn child. He’d grown lax in Philippe’s extended absence, no longer expected to play the role of father, like a blade left to weather the storm rusts. You will set a proper example for your son, he thought while caressing her belly with the gentlest of strokes. Or daughter, should that be your fate. It hadn’t been until recently that he’d grown more comfortable with the prospect of his heir being a girl, and though he’d dare not speak it, there was a part of him that longed for a princess of his own. “I’ll leave you to it, then,” Rafael said in a murmur, dipping his chin to kiss her—only to rein in the impulse that had him hungrily seeking her mouth, freshly wet with his blood. Instead, with a soft scoff through the nose and then a knowing smirk of his thin lips, he turned his mouth and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. “I have other matters to attend to for the time being. Let me know when you’ve finished with your revisions to the document and we will go over them again.” There were a handful of guesses as to what she might change, all of them no doubt weakening his grip on the island and challenging the legitimacy of his rule—or, perhaps she would surprise him? Rafael allowed himself a final appraising look of his wife before he spun on his heels and made for the door of his study. Perhaps I should speak to the Dark Father, he thought curiously. He’d been involved with both of their games far too long not to recognize when Tenebre’s influence was at play; but this time, it seemed to have played into his favor. His blood was her inheritance, of this there was no doubt—but had the abyssal entity told her that thirst, the pendulum of that legacy, swung both ways? Likely not. Her blood is your inheritance, a voice whispered in his mind. Take it. One drop at a time, if you have to.
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