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King

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  1. King

    For the Good of My House

    For as long as Andross could remember, House Kholin of Ursa Madeum and House Ul’Vandiir from across the Great Sea had been business associates. He’d been a young man during their family’s first trade agreement with the elves, back when the Tyrant King still sat upon his throne, and his father, Gavin Kholin, did well to ensure that the youngest of his twin sons understood why. Though he would not be head of the house upon his father’s passing—that charge fell to his brother, Alexandros, born just moments before him—it was of the utmost importance that he understood the intricacies of how their family played the great game. And so, by his father’s will, Andross learned, studied, and practiced. Still, he never understood why his father did business with elves. Yes, they had access to the rare runestone from the Far East, but was it worth their snide remarks so thinly veiled as compliments? Was it worth their sneers, and how they looked down their noses at them? It was a wonder they hadn’t yet developed vertigo as an inheritable defect. Even the Ul’Vandiir, so low on their own cultural hierarchy that they’d been forced to find greener pastures amongst the world’s mortal population, still had an air of arrogance and entitlement about them. It wasn’t nearly as thick as some of the others he’d read and heard of, but it was noticeable. Likely, that’s why he enjoyed his time with Vivienne as much as he did. Andross had never bothered to give it much thought. One hand on the elf’s shapely hip, pulling her into each blow, the other pressed just over her shoulder and firmly planted against the cool stone of the dimly lit corridor, the young lord worked tirelessly behind her. Andross had always suspected Vivienne wasn’t like her family, at least not entirely, and she’d confirmed it the day of their first affair. Now, it had become something of an annual expectation for both of them. While their fathers toiled away at the details of the latest contract, Andross would “show their honored guest’s daughter the grounds”, which always devolved into little more than a sordid romp wherever there were least prying eyes. This time, it was a corridor adjacent to Skyfall Manor’s grand hall. For the better part of a half-hour, they played their wicked game, just barely lit by the crystals mounted in the walls. Two phantoms tossing about the hall, locked in an intimate struggle with low, muffled sounds of pleasure. Andross leaned into her, putting all his weight behind his powerful stride, while he clamped his teeth down on the breadth of her tapered left ear. He’d been surprised to learn that wasn’t a very elven thing to do – biting another elf’s ear, though it seemed to bring them a great deal of pleasure. Elves, they had a strange sense of propriety, but one of little consequence here in Ursa Madeum. So he bit Vivienne’s ear, tugged on it with teeth and lips, knowing she loved every second of it. Before too long, the young lord was finished, and he slumped into the deep arch he’d made of her back. It had always been her way to quickly shove him off her after they’d had their fun, so that she could quickly set to the task of making herself once again presentable to their families. These last two years, though, something had changed. Now, he caught his breath, holding onto her as the heat continued to bound between their bodies to elevated heartbeats. There’d never been any romance between the two, not even a real sense of companionship – only a mutual, burning desire. But when she behaved this way, Andross could see the beginning of a favorable friendship taking root between them. It was unlikely, seeing as they only crossed paths once a year. But it was a nice thought. Andross untangled himself from the elf with a palpable reluctance and took a step back from her, adjusting his attire and quickly making himself presentable. He wore a simple militant uniform of Aegean blue with silver trim, set tight at the shoulders, waist, and wrists, with hardened leather boots that were well-worn. It was a stiff ensemble, sharp and freshly pressed, and fit him well both in form and temperament. He used the sleeve to wipe the sweat from his dark-skinned brow. He slicked his hair back, what curly, white locks managed to slip free of their binding and fastened them once again. Breathing slow and deep, he looked at Vivienne with dazed hazel eyes, still supporting herself against the wall, the appealing swell of her backside just barely covered by the skirt of her dress. “What were you saying about the mines?” He hadn’t forgotten their earlier conversation, in spite of such a thorough distraction. There’d been a concern in her expression when she first mentioned it, Andross remembered, though that had quickly matured into seduction and hunger. It wasn’t like Vivienne to discuss anything pertaining to her family, let alone their holdings. That she sought to do so now was troubling, though Andross did not reveal any of his concerns. Instead, he set his bearded jaw and looked the woman over more suspiciously. Could this all be some kind of game? It was easy to forget what she was when he was between her legs, working her with a fury. Vivienne was not some hopeless romantic or love-stricken maiden—she was an elf, a Hexmistress no less, as calculating as she was conniving. Andross frowned at that. “It seemed... important.”
  2. That would be cool! I posted in the noble house ooc a few days ago asking if someone wanted to rp a member of the Honorguard to help me push the thread along, but got no bites. I'll shoot you a pm tonight?
  3. I've been waiting on my writing partner for the last few weeks. I'll be skipping them and continuing the thread alone.
  4. King

    The Conception of an Empire

    There was a time, not so very long ago, when Gabriela’s words would have hurt him. The bitterness, the cruelty, the sheer viciousness in the manner at which she attacked those cherished memories he kept—it would have been a lethal strike, masterfully delivered, that left the elder vampyre without words, and least of all the conviction to pursue her further. Nothing burned quite like the cold, after all. But that time had passed, the opportunity squared away the moment his seed had stuck in her womb. True, he was a man in spite of his power and wealth, and he loved the petulant child-queen dearly, but her attempt to wound him had proven little more than a glancing blow. Rafael had the upper hand, and they both knew it. Buying into the comfort of Tenebre’s abyssal corroboration, Gabriela strayed threw herself into the dance of wolves, tempting her husband with the closeness of her lips, the iciness of her breath. He took her by the head with both of his hands, twisting and locking his fingers at the roots of her hair. Those coils, he secured in massive fists, ensuring she’d not be able to retreat until he desired to allow so. He kept her there as he bit onto her bottom lip, pulling back to stretch the flesh between them. Long, feral fangs pricked the inside of her skin, drawing small beads of her black blood to the surface. Even Tenebre’s presence could not dampen the sweetness of it. “Mm, my sweet Gabriela,” he purred against her lips. “Mouthy, petulant bitch doesn’t suit you in the least.” The elder vampyre had become something of an authority on the topic in previous weeks, his past company considered. “You aren’t nearly as clever as you think you are, my dear.” It was then that he released her with a dismissive flip of his wrists, looking down at her from the peak of his nose. “It was when you stood for something that you loved me,” Rafael corrected her, clearly more than amused that she believed herself to be somehow different from the child that ran away all those years ago. “You were a princess, the future of a nation. You had the potential to be the greatest monarch our kind had ever seen. Our people, they weren’t perfect, but they were ours—and you abandoned them. For what? Freedom? Peace? A people that you can be proud of? How has that gone, my love? How is your grand, complicated life panning out for you, hm?” Rafael thumbed the corner of his mouth where her flavor had collected, then gently sucked it away in a slow, pointed manner. “The truth, Gabriela? You’ve never been a simpler creature in your life,” he said with a low, derisive chuckle. “You aren’t a queen, and you have never been. You're barely a mother. You’re little more than a crown, Gabriela; something to be worn on display. If not by me, then by the devil—though he doesn’t seem too enchanted with you any longer—and if by neither of us, then by Tenebre. Smirking, he gestured to her in a revealing manner. “You truly believe that your love is required? That it is the final goal of all of this, the ultimate prize? Are you slow-witted? This is all that manners,” he said, gently pressing a hand beneath her navel. “Keep your heart, keep your soul; I have what I want. Just as the devil has what he desires. All that talk of love, of family, of happily ever after—ha! You were stupid enough to believe that?” The devil masked his pain behind apathy, but Rafael knew it was there. It was disappointing in some regards, and admirable in others—they were both so young. “I couldn’t care less how you feel about your predicament, so long as you understand it. This is your reality now, and whether or not you accept it, you belong to me. No one else wants you, Gabriela. There isn’t another soul alive that can stomach you as I do. Hate it, fight it, but I am all you have—all you’ve ever had.” Rafael allowed for a moment of silence as his words sank it, searching her expression. The cold did well to hide the things she felt, but it didn’t erase them. Rather, it encased them in sheets of ice, contained them—but there were ways to crack and chip away that casing, and with the proper leverage, one could shatter it. “Time is on my side, love,” he said softly. “By the right of our births, you will never be stronger than me. Never. And so, you will forever be subject to my whims. You may be rebellious at times, as is expected from a child, but you will grow. You will learn.” Thunderous blue eyes strayed from her face, eying the shadows. “And you will not be able to protect her always.” Yes, Tenebre had proven himself a worthy nuisance to Rafael’s progression. His obsession with Gabriela, while understandable, could no longer be tolerated. There wasn’t enough of her for the three of them, and the elder vampyre was only prepared to share her with a single soul—one whom, much to his pleasure, had no immediate interest in the offer. It was in the pursuit of distancing Gabriela from the Dark Father that Rafael had taken certain liberties in Cantorra, when this keep had been constructed to serve as a “mobile” throne for the royal pair. And while the halls remained absent of love and affection, the wards set into the foundation of their chambers proved quite powerful—and most of all, effective. “Come,” Rafael said, taking her by the wrist firmly. “Let me show you just how quickly ice can thaw.” He guided her further into Cantorra’s black depths, to a place where neither devil nor god could help her.
  5. King

    Winter Lullaby

    “You’ll do not such thing,” Rafael said curtly, intercepting Gabriela’s hand with his own just as she reached for her scarf. His touch was not so much harsh as it was commanding, a gesture that served to underscore his authority over her welfare. “My apologies, master-servant, for Her Majesty’s hasty response. She is known to be somewhat impetuous.” While the weigh seemed to vanished from his thickly accented voice, there was neither smile nor smirk to confirm any suspicion of amusement. But his eyes, oh, how they scorched and admonished her. You forget your place far too often, those thunderous blue eyes said to her. You know better than to speak for me, Gabriela. Yet, his touch remained soft, as it had since their rendezvous in Veelos. With careful pushes and prods from his fingers, Rafael saw her work undone—button by button, strap by strap, until her coat hung loosely against her figure. He eased it from her arms and then off her shoulders, draping it over his right forearm once it had been removed. “We are guests in this man’s home, Gabriela,” he said, taking her by the chin with his left hand. Lifting her head, Rafael met her darkened eyes unfettered, studying her expression as he was known to do. “He has done well to make our lives simple, and for that, I am grateful. You will go to him,” he decided, punctuating his orders with loving strokes of the thumb across the swell of her bottom lip. “And you will not provoke him.” Frowning, he reached up and collected a single strand of her dark hair on his fingertip that had rebelliously fallen from its place and dusted her forehead. Tucking it back into place, he smiled, and dipped his chin to kiss her. She thought it boring to him, these shows of affection, or little more than a chore he’d long-since found himself enslaved to. But no, it was little more than an illusion cast by the ice that now clouded her vision. The passion, it burned hot in his veins; the sheer need and desire of it threatened to consume him at all hours of the day. That she carried his child only stoked the flames, and just as when she’d labored with Philippe, Rafael had never in his life craved her more. Her mind, her heart, they may have been ignorant of these things—but her body had always known its one true lover, its one master. Rafael kissed her with ravenous hunger, though for the sake of propriety kept the embrace brief. “Once you’ve concluded your meeting with him, we will return to the capital together. I will wait for you. We will tend to those other matters together, as is proper.” It was much too dangerous to let her saunter off into the wilderness, or wherever she believed she might find solace, to quell the storm raging inside her. While she seemed determined to focus her efforts on Philippe (which he could never fault her for), Rafael would not let her simply dismiss the safety of the child growing inside her. More than a child, more than an heir to the throne, it was the future of their species. Rafael lifted his chin in direction, dismissing her. “Now, go.” The matter settled, the elder vampyre looked at the dark-skinned man. “As for refreshments, I will have to decline. But, if it’s no issue to your Lord, I would prefer to stay here with the little prince. It’s been quite some time since last I saw him.” Rafael’s gaze slid to the child’s bed, his soft, rhythmic breathing telling of his sleep. A smile curved his thin lips. “They grow so quickly, and I fear I’ve already missed so much.” Of course, were the master-servant to protest, Rafael would make no fuss about it. Things had, indeed, gone swimmingly since that night in Veelos. There was no need to disturb the peace, least of all over a visit. After all, he had an eternity.
  6. King

    Winter Lullaby

    “You’ve always had a pleasant singing voice,” Rafael commented from the doorway, casting his long shadow over his wife and her little prince. His presence at the devil’s villa had disturbed the natural order of things, and the tension beyond the prince’s chamber was thick enough to cut with a knife. But Rafael shirked the curious glances he received, the murmurs that trailed behind his passing, and did not fault the servants for their suspicion or loyalty to their master. He was here for Gabriela and Philippe, and cared little else for the rest. “It’s quite a shame that you’ve not found more frequent uses for it.” In spite of his imposing figure, the elder vampyre moved without sound. There was nothing to herald his stealthy approach, and when caressed the side of her neck with his knuckles, and then placed that heavy palm on her shoulder, it was as if he’d simply appeared beside her. “You should use the native tongue,” he commented a moment later. “Your blood courses through that boy’s veins, thus, so does the motherland. He should know his roots, Gabriela.” His lips curved into a smirk as he thought of more unrefined blood Philippe had somehow inherited from his father. “Besides, it’s far more elegant than this crude common tongue the mortals use,” he continued. “His father may insist he behave like them, but he needn’t grow up idolizing them and all of their flaws.” While he still carried a great deal of love for the young prince, the devil’s continued presence—and Gabriela’s pregnancy—had, in some ways, resigned the elder vampyre to the reality he’d been so determined to cast aside. Philippe was not his child, not truly, and while he’d always seek the boy’s best interests, he’d not look to overstep and disturb the tumultuous peace they’d managed to establish. If it was Roen’s desire to dress and raise his child as a mundane child, then that was his prerogative. Rafael had his own child to look after, now. Letting his words hang in the air, his eyes were drawn to the window, gazing out at the swirls of snow as they swept across the roofs of the villa’s longer wings, layered across the ground in thick blankets that stretched on for as far as the eye could see, and the clouds that blackened the sky to a thick, impenetrable pitch. Reports from the mainland spoke of a highstorm brewing in the east, its winds terrible and its rain thick. Tendrils of it had spiraled across the pass, reaching Orisia’s borders, but seemed to compound with La’Ruta’s influence—which he knew had become entangled with that of his darling wife’s emotional state of being. A perfect mirror then, the elder vampyre thought. Unfortunately, these were not the capricious or sunken thoughts of a young woman. These were winds that could carve boulders into rubbles, or bury cities in ice and snow. It wouldn’t take much for the situation to become dangerous, and so, Rafael decided that he would monitor its development closely. Much like his cousin’s relationship with the island’s strange lifeforce, Rafael and La’Ruta’s affair was becoming more intimate by the day. The hole left in its chest by the Warlord’s departure was grand, but the elder vampyre had done well to tend to the wound. Already enamored with him for the connection he shared with Gabriela, it had been a relatively easy process, and the slow, steady growth of the ebony tree in the garden of Cantorra was a testament to that fact. While he might not yet have commanded the sheer force to break La’Ruta to his whims, he felt confident in the thought that he might be able to seduce her to his reasoning. All in due time, he supposed. “This is because of you,” Rafael said evenly, gesturing toward the window with his unburdened hand. The palm upon her shoulder remained, fingers caressing the skin it touched. “You know that La’Ruta is sensitive to your feelings. But, I fear that this might be something different.” His eyes darkened at the possibilities; none seemed pleasing. “There’s a highstorm in the East and it’s slowly been spilling its way here,” he said grimly. “They’re known to have a… mm, notable effect on the latent magic presence of the land. Combine that with what’s going on with you, and you can see my reason for concern.” He let her ruminate on the words for a moment, casting his gaze from the window to the babe in her arms. Surely, she realized the threat such instability could pose to the prince, as well as the child growing steadily inside her womb. “I understand that this may not have been the outcome you desired, Gabriela, but it is your reality. You need come to terms with it, and quickly.” While there was an unmistakable urgency in his tone, it was not so much disappointed, or off-put, as it was fatherly. While she’d lived several lifetimes as at a wholesome three hundred, Rafael was still her senior by a great deal. Speaking to her in such a way came naturally, though she proved herself determined to be seen as his equal for no other reason than her entitlement to it. Rafael looked at her keenly. “I’ve done my part to make you comfortable, have I not?”
  7. I figured I'd put this up here first. Is there anyone that would be interested in playing a member of the Kholin honorguard? The list of current members can be found here. Beyond the names, nothing is set in stone as far as the characters themselves go. Feel free to shoot me a PM or post on my profile, if you are.
  8. King

    The Conception of an Empire

    “Fair enough.” It seemed that devil’s temperament concerning his cousin was as unpredictable as the sea; serene and inviting in one moment, a hellish and violent in the next. He spoke of the Summer Isles and its heir, but Rafael was not naïve enough to believe that this would be the final chapter in Gabriela and Roen’s story. It never was. Perhaps not that night or for many that followed it, but sooner or later, one of them would once again pick up the quill, ink its end, and continue writing. Still, he’d not argue with the man or force the issue, as the current terms were more than favorable to the elder vampyre’s ends. Rafael nodded to the devil’s terms, both more than acceptable. “I will do my best to respect your solitude and limit your involvement to the direst of situations, or when your particular talents will provide the most sensible course.” After so many years of turmoil and treachery, it almost seemed ludicrous that their long campaign of back and forth, tit-for-tat, came to such an abrupt and simple end. Rafael couldn’t help but wonder how much time they’d wasted pointlessly hating each other. Would this have been the result had they’d talked sooner? “One family,” Rafael agreed, nodding curtly as he met the devil’s eyes. “He is the heir of Orisia’s throne and will be looked—” It was the brush of Gabriela’s shoulder against his that killed his claim, earning a suspicious glance as she continued toward the Outsider. You again, he thought bitterly, having long-since grown tired of Tenebre’s obsession. While the coldness that crept into her heart from his touch was a welcomed reprieve from the overwhelming emotion she was prone to fall victim to, which often times proved too rich a meal for Rafael to stomach, that it was Tenebre’s doing vexed the elder vampyre to no end. She is mine by every right, he thought as he watched her walk and engage the devil over the wicked sword in his hand, and you won’t have her. Then she was off, gliding into the mouth of the grand hall so that her captors could finish their conversation. Rafael approached the devil next, hands clasped at the small of his back. “Not to occupy too much of your mind before your appointment,” he said in a hushed voice, as if the shadows themselves mind betray his confidence. But Rafael was not like Tenebre’s other children, and his words were his alone—mute to the Dark Father. “But once you return, I’ll need your help with something of great importance. We’re going to kill Tenebre.” After a moment, he added: “Or, if that proves impossible, we will seal him away. He’s toyed with our family long enough.” Then, after another moment and cautioned glanced at the sword in his hand. “Good luck with your match.” Continuing his stride, Rafael followed his cousin’s steps out into the hall, trusting the devil to see himself out. Gabriela’s pace was lackluster, uninspired. In fact, she almost seemed to be wandering the citadel’s halls in an aimless daze. “You shouldn’t have left,” he said firmly, announcing his presence from her rear. Several steps later, he was beside her, a hand around her slender arm to impede her gait. It wasn’t anger in his eyes, nor bitterness, but the hardness an adult takes when lecturing a child on inappropriate behavior. “You heard what he said, Gabriela. You belong to me, mind, body, and soul—just as I’ve always told you—and I did not dismiss you. Never do that again.” Guiding her closer to him, Rafael hooked a finger beneath her chin and tilted her head back. The smoldering flames of her golden eyes had gone out, leaving dark, honeyed cores behind. Not distant, not dull or unaware—just darker. “This is not a dream,” he whispered down at her, looking her over as he committed her expression to memory. This day, this face she made, he would remember for all time. “And now, you can finally cast off the last of those foolish, girlish notions you’ve clung to for nearly all your life. This is where you belong—by my side, in my hands, and in my bed. This is who you were born to be.” He thumbed her lips as he spoke this last bit, pressing the tip of the digit into her mouth at the crest of the motion. “Now, tell me: who do you belong to?”
  9. King

    Un-Foretold Journey

    “Fascinating.” Paris earnestly listened to the woman as she told her story, eyes not daring to move away, lest he distracted by the beauty of their surroundings. As a great admirer of all things strange and exotic, the crown prince did what he could to educate himself on matters concerning their origins, habits, and abilities. Unfortunately, there were few werewolves—lycanthropes, as she’d called them—this far north, and those south of the Great Barrier were stingy when it came to their heritage. “The books I have, they all seem to revolve around a curse of some sorts.” Paris frowned at the thought, realizing how one-sided his library was in this regard. “There are maybe a pair that reference lycanthropy as something one can inherit, and when they do, it’s done so in the same fashion one might a disease or other genetic anomaly. That’s probably because they’re written by humans,” he added after, to dissipate any insult she may have taken at the comment. Born a werewolf, the crown prince thought to himself. So, she wasn’t human—not entirely, at least. The wolf was as much part of her as the human flesh he saw, making her a cousin, at best, to his species. I’ll need to need to speak with the conscripts when I return, he decided. I’m sure they’ll be able to find something more satisfying in the Red City’s library. If not, perhaps the Midlands might have more books on this subject. “So, your clan,” he continued at a moment, eyes still trained on her. “Do they operate similarly to that of a typical wolf pack? Alpha male paired with an alpha female? If so, how is this determined? Brute strength, or are they elected by the others of the pack?” Perversion aside, Paris found himself intrigued by the balance of the wolf and human halves. Which proved triumphant in terms of government and social hierarchy? Okina was clearly sharp of mind, determined, but she’d been detached from her clan, it seemed, for quite some time. The others—were they more beast, or more man?
  10. King

    Valucre music thread

  11. Marcellus could barely contain the disgust – but more importantly, the shame – as he pored over the report in his gauntleted hands. The news of Antigua’s gruesome demise had come swiftly in the previous days, and likewise, the erection of a new city from its ashes. Pyres stilled burned, blood turned the rivers red, and the mangled corpses of Antigua’s people laid strewn about, or stacked high in messy piles of severed limbs and spilling entrails. By all accounts, it was a nightmare – separated from their paradise by a calm channel of water which, Marcellus suddenly began feeling, was much too narrow. “The number of confirmed deaths is in the tens of thousands, my queen,” Marcellus said gravely, crumpling the parchment in his fists. “They say it continues to rise with every passing hour.” The old knight said nothing of the difficulties mentioned by his scouts, for piecing together butchered corpses was troublesome work. “What’s more, there is no telling how many poor souls are yet accounted for. We’ll be sorting through our dead for weeks.” The knight approached his queen’s desk, a broad furnishing of smooth roahn wood, black as coal, smooth as polished glass. Like the rest of her royal cabin upon the Black Swan, the desk was stylized in the ways of the old world, covered in the elaborate etchings of their history; sigils of houses that had risen to prominence and fell to ruin even before his birth; and of course, at the center, the DuGrace shield paired with the Bartolome sword vertically crossing its bulk. It was a marvelous piece of furniture, and had it been from any man other than Rafael, Marcellus would have likely found it nostalgic. Presently, it filled his stomach with disgust for the words he was to utter next. “Still, there are more pressing matters at hand, my queen.” It seemed ludicrous, even to Marcellus, to suggest that any issue might supersede the tragedy that had befallen Ceyana. And yet the knight’s eyes steeled, his jaw set, and his lips pressed into a thin line across his dark face. It was the look of displeasure that marred his handsome features whenever he spoke of the devil, or worse, her cousin. Marcellus held little love for either and, unless called upon for the sake of ceremony, made no attempt to hide the disdain. “I believe that the emperor means to depart, and with him, the Carmine Host.” From his satchel, the old knight produced yet another scroll. The seal already broken, he pushed it to the center of the Queen's desk for ease of reading. “I’ve noticed since your return from Terrenus that you and the emperor have been— withdrawn, as of late. From each other, I mean. And the less I saw of you two together, the less I saw of him. These deployment orders – rescinding large numbers of the host’s forces back to the mainland – confirmed my suspicion. When the emperor leaves, if he hasn’t already, our military force will plummet to its original numbers.” There was no doubting the skill of the men and women that took up sword, spear, shield, and magic to defend their home – their queen. However, they were a small, elite force. Whatever had taken Antigua so effortlessly, it was a force well beyond the scope of their management. “If whatever did this,” he lifts the note still in his hand, “were to turn its eyes to our shores, I fear we would not be able to repel it so easily. Orisia might be overrun.” Of course, he’d squeezed the fear out of himself a long time ago. Death was a long-time friend of a warrior. You knew it intimately. Walked hand-in-hand with the finality of it; breathed it. But while Marcellus did not fear death, he did not actively – recklessly – seek it. He learned from it, kept a respectful distance, until its black eyes turned to him with interest. Until it was his time. As he thought of the possibilities now, there was only one question that crept into the corner of his mind. Who would take care of the Queen and Prince? @Pasion Pasiva @Dolor Aeternum
  12. 01/01/2019 A major event has been launched to start the new year. The Stormwatch post has been added to the Magestorm thread. The current magestorm lasts from January 1 - April 31, and its nature is the weakening.
  13. While the individual sections of Genesaris may have their own update threads, this will serve as a universal hub for information concerning changes and updates to the forum at large, including structural/administrative changes, major events, lore changes/updates, and other such activities. All subsequent posts will be dated and detailed, with this original post serving as a convenient master list. Note that these posts will be sorted based on the bulk of the content. So, if there's a one board change but a ton of lore changes, you'll find the link in the lore update section. Administrative Changes 10/23/2018: Board changes. 10/25/2018: Board Changes/Slaver's Enclave lore update. 10/27/2018: The Rules of Engagement have been updated. 11/07/2018: Material List update/MOA for airships update. Major Events 01/01/2019: Magestorm Event: The Weakening. Lore Updates 10/24/2018: Airship, Bounty Hunting, and Magestorm lore updates. World Building/Canon --
  14. King

    Magestorms

    Stormwatch Here you will find the current status of all official* magestorms in Genesaris. This mainly includes their current location, nature, and duration, though any other unique factors and information will also be listed here. *Official magestorms are setting elements and cannot be ignored. Players are more than welcome to write their stories during magestorms or not (even when an official one is or isn't active), but for threads seeking canonization, the story itself should be in line with significant events of the board. Jan 1st - Apr 31st: The Weakening January 1 - February 1: Orisia/Arcane East February 1 - March 1: Midlands/Great North/Cold South. March 1 - April 1: Midlands/Southern Swell. April 1 - April 31: Rising West.
  15. General Information “For this is no ending, but the eye.” -- Unknown A magestorm, popularly known as a highstorm, is a devastating weather system that traverses the entire continent of Genesaris from east to west, starting at the Cold Mountains. A highstorm can last for days to weeks to months, and the sheer brutality of these storms has begun shaping much of the ecosystem of Genesaris, with most eastern lands developing the hardiest of flora and fauna. In addition to the highstorms’ meteorological significance, they have recently become a source of clean energy for the more technologically advanced regions of the continent. Forming in the eastern skies above the Cold Mountains, highstorms are at their fiercest there, lasting for weeks or months at a time as they build themselves into continental-spanning weather systems. As the storms progress westward, they gradually subside. Those located at the center of the continent (the Midlands) experience slightly weaker storms, which become timider toward the Northern and Southern coasts. Those in the west often experience little more than soft rains. The life of a highstorm can be broken down into two stages. The first stage is the most dangerous, called the squall. This is a massive wave of water and violent wind, casting dirt and debris high into the air. Occasional gusts can even lift and toss larger objects (such as boulders), hurling them hundreds of feet. As the storm passes and gradually depletes its strength, the trailing end, or second stage, called the weeping, is little more than a peaceful rainfall. Predictability The majority of the recorded highstorm effects appear to be random. Those caught in the storm’s tempest can be imbued with dangerous levels of arcanum; other studied cases showed mutations in already magically-rich creatures and entities. It is believed that a large number of the continent’s Elementals were born from a magestorm interacting with the base element in question. You're as likely to be blessed with newfound abilities are you are to be killed. Alternatively, the tracking ebb and flow of Genesaris’ magical saturation is among the more predictable effects highstorms have on the continent. These occur in two “natures”, known as the strengthening and the weakening. In the strengthening, the highstorm significantly increases the levels of magical saturation, boosting channeling, conduction, and production. This boon gradually weakens with the strength of the storm. With the weakening, the storm suppresses the channeling supernatural saturation (levels similar to the current state of magical affairs in Terrenus). This too weakens as the storm subsides. These two natures appear sequentially, coming one after the other, never simultaneously. It is extremely rare for either one to occur twice in a row, though such phenomena have been documented. It is worth noting that this manner of either amplifying or inhibiting is not limited to traditional schools of magic and can have similarly drastic effects on more exotic practices like psionics. Stormwatchers are scholars with a pension for studying magestorms and determining their coming, duration, and nature. Typically, they can be found in all megacities and prominent towns, selling calendars with magestorm dates and seasons. Notable Magestorms The Great Fire: In the great city of Northern Seltaria, a massive fire broke out. It spread fast, running down the streets and devouring buildings as it grew. Many died in the flames, trapped inside their houses and shops. To this day, no one knows how the fire began. Whatever the cause, the number of casualties was staggering. When it seemed that the entire city would be burned to nothing more than smoldering embers, a powerful Magestorm rumbled over the city, banishing the fire. The Arcantian Storm: The Arcantians believe that the High Lords are the demigods of Altus Arcantium, God of Mysteries and Secrets. A strong Magestorm washed over them when they were no more than a simple, beginning cult. The magic of the storm infused them with the power to cast spells using any of the elements (Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Lightning, Light, and Dark). The BloodMage Storm: Occurring soon after the Arcantian Storm, another magestorm infused the Arcantians with magic that allowed one to use his own blood as a weapon, to form supernatural armaments crafted of gore. The Arcantians thought this was punishment for being unfaithful, and cast the BloodMages out, who thought this was their gift for being faithful. The Aurora MageStorm: Once, during the night, a shocking stream of magic shook the heavens, and the entire night sky lit up with blazing white fire. It seemed to have no consequences or effects, either negative or positive in Genesaris. However, the sky still lights up with white over the city of Aelindra City (now a very rich capital). It is said that beautiful Magestorms are a sign of favor and good fortune. The Ragnarok Storm: The most recent highstorm of note, it is believed that this particular storm was the cause of what some refer to as the Whispernight Ragnarok. Empowered by the storms abundance of magical energy, the horrors of the dreadful Whispernight plunged Genesaris into chaos. The result was widespread destruction, resulting in the complete annihilation of multiple cities and villages across the continent. Nearly a year later, the realm trembles at the grim memory.
  16. King

    The Conception of an Empire

    Indeed, there were a myriad of feelings that Rafael felt assaulting his senses through the bond he shared with Gabriela. They weren’t explicit in detail, nothing so clear as to say he could read her thoughts, but rather, impressions of raw and unfiltered emotion. Anger, insecurity, disbelief, pain, sadness—and, if he didn’t know better, he could have sworn there was a sense of relief buried beneath it all. It was little more than a thin, errant strand of emotional fabric that had woven itself into the tapestry of her state of being, but it was there. “How could you?” she asked the devil. “I hate you! I hate you!” Sadistic as she liked to believe her cousin to be, Rafael took no personal enjoyment in her despair, and it showed in the muteness of his expression. Gabriela’s loss and sacrifices were all necessary, though she often failed to see how or why. Young as she was, her vision proved too crowded, too unfocused. Where she saw only that which was placed before her, he, one many times her age, was cursed to see both the then, now, and what could be—every action and its consequence days, weeks, months, and years down the road. Everything the Black Queen had endured, it had led her to this moment. To the lap she sat upon; to the ruby eyes that searched her expression from across the room; to the soft, pale palms she sobbed into now. “Don’t be childish,” Rafael murmured from behind her shoulder, his voice strangely empathic as it passed his thin lips. He began gathering the child-queen’s hair in his hand leisurely, setting the thick, dark tresses over her right shoulder when he was finished. “There’s no need to say such things, especially when they are untrue. You love that man, the same as you love me. Otherwise, you’d not be sitting here, your son at home, resting well, and our son”—he could not help but caress her belly at the words—“growing inside you.” Rafael paused, humming in satisfaction. “Whether you know it or not, Gabriela, this is what you wanted. It’s what you’ve always wanted.” It might have disgusted her at the moment, hearing the truth put so plainly, but she would learn to accept it. Rafael suspected the devil to be unbound by time, and the vampyres lived long, robust lives. She would have all but an eternity to adjust to her new circumstances and the parameters of her relationship. After all, Gabriela was a marvelous student, when the proper leverage was applied. In a show of manners, Rafael shifted Gabriela’s weight from the bowl of his lap to the left, then slid from beneath her. He left his child-queen sitting on the throne, whether she be crying, murmuring, or glaring bitterly at the two authors of her fate. However, as her ire seemed more fixated on the devil, he remained between them, more than aware to catch her mid-stride were she to attempt something foolish. The sword in the devil’s hand was a concerning matter, though the elder vampyre chose to acknowledge it as a precautionary measure. Fortunately, Roen would find no need to defend himself. “Peace,” Rafael said, the wording tasting strange on his tongue. “It is my motive, yes, but not so to have you serve me. It is as I’ve said to Gabriela just moments before: that the three of us form a collective of our resources and powers, governed together… as a family.” His head tilted ever so slightly toward his shoulder, as if to silently ponder Gabriela’s position amongst the triumvirate. Neither of her lovers had ever paid any heed to her council, and Rafael suspected that would not change once these arrangements were finalized. She was at her best when she was seen, not heard—at least for now. Perhaps when she was a bit older the elder vampyre supposed, they could revisit the subject. Then, Rafael stepped aside in a single motion, allowing the devil a clear viewing of their sobbing beauty, if he so chose to look. Already knowing what he would find if he dared look himself, Rafael kept his attention focused on the devil, still gauging his reaction. “What I propose is acceptance. We should share her, Roen, and all that entails. She will never stop loving you, no matter what you do to her, no matter what happens between the two of you, and I have denied that truth for too long. At the same time, Gabriela and I’s attraction is beyond either of our control,” he said, flattening a pale hand against his stomach. “We were born to be paired together, and that is not something that can be”—he snapped his fingers—“turned off. To that end, no matter which man she chooses, the other will always be there. We are all, in a sense, a single package. Let us be that and prosper.”
  17. King

    Blood on the Crown [Ild Pass]

    There was no offense to be taken by the Queen’s command. This foreigner was no friend of his, no “brother” or ally, as she had so aptly described herself, and so the line he walked was clear. He served his monarch first, and then his people, a close second. Gabriela’s relationship, however, was naturally more complicated than that—as always. This was someone that she trusted, someone she held a history with, and so it was easy—albeit disappointing—to understand how she might stray from the path, opting to wade through muck and foliage. “My Queen,” Marcellus replied, nodding his armored head. The knight removed himself from the room with a series of prompt steps, stepping beyond the cabin’s threshold and out into the hall. The door remained open, however, and his gilded form well in view. Hopefully, Raylon would see how a subject should behave under their monarch's oversight. Gabriela’s Queensguard regarded him with a curious look, rightfully perturbed by their queen’s blatant disregard for her safety. She was too trusting, they knew, and far too eager to martyr herself. But they noted their captain’s change in posture, in stance: how his armored hand now rested on the pommel of his blade, how he seemed to stand on the balls of his feet, ready to act at a moment’s notice. Even with the brief distance between them, she was safe. There’d been few swordsmen as accomplished as Marcellus in Atitlan, with some praising him as the best of his generation. While his position may not have been as ear-grabbing as devil king, or emperor, becoming the Captain of the Queensguard was not a matter of political savvy or a path one could tread lightly. Each step was marred with strife, each page of that story inked in blood. The Queen did not know what the men and women that surrounded her had endured, had survived, so that they could protect her. But if the foreign king sought to bring her harm, she would see.
  18. King

    The Conception of an Empire

    Rafael frowned at his cousin’s bold accusations, leaning back from the arch of her spine, allowing his fingers to resume the trail his nose has previously blazed. He stroked her idly, consoling her with the gentle touch, as he ruminated on her worries—unfounded though they may have been. “You truly do think the worst of us, don’t you? If it was the devil’s desire to take Philippe from you for this transgression, he would have done so already. He certainly wouldn’t have let you come all the way to Veelos, by yourself, and deliver this news to me.” Despite the firmness of his tone, the Elder’s touch remained soft as a feather, reassuring as the most supportive of lovers dared be. Of course, she was right to worry. While it may not have been either of the two titan’s agendas, if ever such vindictive intentions bore fruit, Gabriela would be helpless to dissuade either of them. Beautiful, elegant, persuasive—but utterly powerless in the face of the two men she’d enraptured with her love. They could take what they chose from her at will, and she knew it. She’d always known it. And yet, it seemed that only now, as his seed took root in her womb, that she felt the gravity of the fact. “As for our child, I’ve no desire for my son or daughter to grow up without the presence of their mother. A terribly capricious lover you may be, but a terrible mother, you are not. Our child will know your company intimately, and they will be better for it.” The hand he’d placed on her hip worked its way around the swell, cupping the rise of her belly now that she’d buried her face in her palms. Rafael thumbed beneath her navel pensively, a habit he’d formed during her pregnancy with Philippe. He always seemed to be touching her stomach those days, as if the child’s presence brought him clarity. “Your devil will never let you go, Gabriela,” he said matter of factly, just barely able to bite back the disdain in his voice. “You, Philippe, a family – it’s what he’s wanted for years. He has that now. It may not be perfect, or even close to what he’d hoped for the very first night he took you to his bed, but reality is often disappointing.” Finally, the stroke of his thumb came to a halt at the peak of her stomach’s dull hill—and the blood there became keenly aware of him, as if focusing on the single touch of his fingernail. “But, as you know, you already belong to me.” Lifting his leg a little higher, angling it toward him, he eased her back until she was flush against his chest and her bottom sat centered in the bowl of his lap. The pressure of his hand against her stomach remained lightly, barely there at all, and yet an immovable barrier to any escape. “You’ve made a mess of things, my love,” he whispered against her neck through the thick, luxurious veil of her hair. “And now, as always, it’s up to me to clean it all up.” If he was bothered by the notion, wasn’t audible in his tone, nor visible in the light, amused expression she could not see behind her. “You belong to me,” he reminded her darkly. “But, there is a part of you that also belongs to him. I’ve spent too much time ignoring it, trying to eliminate it, and for all my failures I’ve naught but exacerbated the issue. We are a family”—he pressed his hand against her stomach for emphasis—“all of us, and it’s time for us to accept that fact. I’ll not have our child separated from his brother because of petty in-fighting. We’re better than that, and if we plan to be a strong example for our people, we’ll need to start thinking, working, differently. Outside of the box, so to speak.” The enthusiasm in his voice vanished as he leaned away from her, parting his lips from the lobe of her ear, and instead let his weigh anchor against the tall back of the throne. “You can’t very well run your own life, Gabriela, you’re too indecisive for that. You’d bring all the world’s nations to war if you were allowed to follow your heart, or yet alone, acquire that elusive freedom you’ve been searching for. It’s clear to me, now more than ever, that you are in need of education—to remind you of your place in all of this nonsense and chaos.” With his left hand, hooked around and arrested her wrist, pulling her hands from her face. Not firmly, but dismissively, as if the mere act of her crying—or languishing—was a sight too lowly to behold. Then he pressed his fingers against her spine, forcing her upright, and adjusted her shoulders with light pinches as he maneuvered her into a more stately posture. “You’ve slouched long enough, my love,” he whispered, leveling a finger beneath her chin, tilting it back so that she had no option but to hold her head high, honeyed eyes gazing out into an empty room. “We’ll have no more of that, you understand?” The fingers beneath her chin pressed to the opposite side of her jaw, turning her head so that she could see him over the supple rise of her shoulder. “The devil and I will work together in the endeavor of your education,” he said plainly, though the hint of a smile touched his lips. “Together, we shall love you, protect you, guide you… and you will serve us with all that you are.” Instinctively, his thumb rolled beneath her navel, emphasizing the point. “We will become the family we should have been years ago, the three of us. We will consolidate our power and resources, govern it all as a triumvirate. It will bring peace. You understand that, don’t you?”
  19. King

    House Kholin

    One of the eldest noble houses of Ursa Madeum, yet surprisingly regarded as one of the weakest in terms of wealth and political standing, said to have been born during the Age of Strife when Terran men first settled the island cluster. Its founder, Thadeas the White-Mane, was rumored to be one of the greatest duelists to have ever lived. When he slew Boris the Bold, the Lord of Wolves, in single combat, he was rewarded with Boris’s lands, and daughter. Thadeas took the girl to bride, and adopted the banner, honors, and words of her line. The Kholin sigil is a white-maned lion flanked by two black wolf heads, a sword set at the heart of the three. Their words are For honor. GAVIN KHOLIN, Lord of Skyfall, Head of House Kholin, — his wife, {LADY AURORA, of House Boriar}, died in childbed, — their children: — ALEXANDROS, the elder twin, and heir to Skyfall Manor, — SER ANDROSS, the younger twin, and Lord Commander of the Honorguard, — ADRIANNA, the only daughter, fifteen — his ward, VIVIENNE UL’DANIIR, elven Hexmistress, — his siblings: — {DANIEL}, his elder brother, slain during the usurping of the Tyrant King, — {SEBASTIAN}, his younger brother, slain during the usurping of the Tyrant King, — his household: — CECIL LANCE, counselor, healer, and tutor, — SEVERUS GLASS, called the Undaunted, master-at-arms, — GABRIELA MORNE, captain of the guard, — his Honorguard [The Wolves of Kholin]: — SER ANDROSS KHOLIN, Lord Commander, — SER ODETTE GORMON — SER MARCUS TRENT — SER ARYS MOORE — SER IKORA LOCH — SER LANCEL GLASS — SER TRISTAN SADE ESTATE/DOMAIN The lands of House Kholin are located toward the far southeast of Corinth, amidst an otherwise abandoned frontier. While many along the coast found themselves shunned from their homes during the Tyrant King’s rule, those under Kholin oversight managed to endure. Skyfall manor is located near the peak of a high outcropping, equally as built into the stone as it is atop of it. Due to their location, the keep is known to experience a great many deal of storms. AFFILIATIONS Allies: The Veluriyam Throne Enemies: -- Neutral Parties: Ursa Madeum nobility CULTURE House Kholin is one of several more militant-based noble houses found in Ursa Madeum. This has led to something of a strict, code-based social order throughout their lands, though it is more heavily followed within the house, itself. Many of their public events tend to be gladiatorial in nature, with a heavy emphasis on dueling (which is said to pay homage to their founder, Thadeas). However, duels are also used as a means to satisfy issues between individuals, as well. Unlike some houses, however, “military strength” does not simply equate to power. The Kholins are avid collectors of information and technology, as well. Still, because of their rather diminutive numbers and lack of interest in acquiring more land, wealth, and standing amongst their fellow noblemen, their forces are notably small. To compensate for this, they are exceptionally well-trained, which has led to the establishment of a “second motto,” being Quality or quantity. They favor honor, discipline, and integrity over all else, and expect all representatives of their order to conduct themselves in manners befitting of their homestead. BACKGROUND/HISTORY A comprehensive list of all canonical events involving House Kholin or its agents. 1. For the Good of My House (Incomplete). 2. 3.
  20. King

    The Conception of an Empire

    There was no call to impress or stand on ceremony between the two cousins, and such frivolity hadn’t existed for quite some time. It wasn’t that Rafael saw Gabriela was unworthy of the propriety, or that he was simply too lazy to champion such demands, but rather, it was disenchantment with the need of it. Thick-skulled as he was known to be, it had taken the Elder quite some time to realize there was no fruit to be had in impressing Gabriela. Where other women might throw themselves upon a sword without hesitation to be subject to his obscene wealth and power, his cousin did not so much as bat an eyelash. He’d thought her playing a game at first, exemplifying her humility and frugalness for the sake of being spiteful, but time was the greatest of all teachers. Rafael had learned, albeit slowly (as he was known to do when it came to matters involving her), that he could give her this world and a thousand others, and she would love him no more, hate him no less, and their cyclical existence would continue unbroken. It was for that reason his great hall was rather lacking in regards to exuberance, which was, indeed, a stark contrast to the elder vampyre’s grand tastes. Even the thrones, one of which Gabriela sat upon, might seem plain—dull, even—when compared to the descriptions he would often talk of as they strolled the palace halls in Versilla, her close at his side, never by choice. They were hollow remnants of a life he’d envisioned for them, the fragments of a plan that now lay broken at their feet, the shards treacherously sharp as they mockingly reflected their faces back at them. But there was no bitterness in the way Rafael carried himself as he strode into the room, no regret weighing on his broad shoulders, or trouble tilting his proud head south. The Elder stood tall, hands clasped at the small of his back, keen eyes—notably blue (a testament of his absence from the Red City, his seat of absolute power—appraising Gabriela as she promptly rose to greet him. As in all things, he stood dressed in her opposite, matte black slacks and a tunic that fit him loosely but displayed his muscled physique in a most appealing manner. He looked every bit the Mediterranean prince he was, ready to lounge ‘pon cushioned divans as he endured the stuffy Orisian weather. But there was only rain her in Veelos, buffeted by the highstorms that brewed on the eastern Genesarian coast. After a moment of his eyes lingering on her, Rafael met her eyes, held her gaze. “You looked comfortable.” It was an invitation for her to sit once more, though he doubted she would accept. “Rafael…” “You look as though you’ve come to tell me someone is dead,” Rafael said, his tone expressing neither excitement, anger, nor confusion. He continued his unhurried approach until she was within arm’s reach, though abstained from reaching for her temporarily. “Philippe is well,” he continued matter of factly, gesturing with his hand to the east where the capital awaited. “And, from what I hear, so is his father. So, you needn’t look so glum.” At long last, a smile curved his thin lips behind the fullness of his dark beard. His eyes fell to her stomach, hugged tightly by the white dress she wore, and he palmed her belly in that loving, caring way he had for all those months she’d carried little Philippe. “This is what you asked me for that night I visited you,” he reminded her in their native tongue, the words a whisper on his lips. “It’s what you wanted more than anything.” It didn’t matter to him if it had only been in that moment, or if she’d called it a mistake the morning after, and the way he thumbed beneath her navel, those gentle, broad strokes, conveyed his sentiment on that fact. “It’s what I have wanted from the moment you were born, and at long last…” The words fell away from him, and Rafael’s smile grew brighter, broader. With his right hand, he cupped her cheek and lifted her face, no longer content to have her cast those eyes down at the hand against her belly. He pressed the crown of her head into his nose and breathed in deep, savored the sweetness of the orange blossom extract thick in her tresses, and for a quiet moment, allowed her to bask in the wholeness that was only ever possible when he possessed her. Then he tilted her head back further and captured her gaze as he thumbed her full lips, already parted in that way she knew he enjoyed most. He thumbed them firmly, opened her mouth further, but did not nip his flesh against her fangs. “You should have known that I would never let you go, Gabriela,” he whispered against her tongue, hot and slow. “Tha you will never escape me; that I will never let you go. And now—,” he pressed his palm flat below her navel in emphasis—“We are bound as we have never been before. Did I not tell you that this was inevitable, my love? That you were born to be mine, to bear my children into the world? Destiny is all.” His smile matured into a satisfied grin, borderline smug, as he eased spaced between them. Then his lips pursed as he maneuvered his hand around, learning her body, gauging the changes he could feel—through their bond—as he guided and directed it. He could feel the addition of a thread, so thin it was barely palpable, but it was there. This signature, it was unlike the chord that tied him to Philippe. This, it was unique and familiar, a combination of the DuGrace and Bartolome essence as is only possible through pregnancy. It was his child—the fact still a surreal truth to him. Nearly fifteen hundred years of wading through this existence, and now, Rafael finally had a child. It nearly brought him to his knees. “I would be lying to say that I’m not displeased you’ve waited so long to relay this news to me. Though, I suppose late is better than never.” He spared a deep, penetrating glance at her. “I suspect you’ve already informed Philippe’s father of this development.” This, too, vexed him, but he made no mention of it. Only a curt twist of the lips, and a harsh set of the jaw, expressed this particular ire. Stepping further away, Rafael circled to her backside, then took his place upon the throne which she had just sat. He tilted his head to the side, nursing his cheek with a pair of fingers, while he commanded her to his parted lap with an inviting pat of the other hand. “You carry inside of you the future of our species,” he praised her, thumbing the curve of her hip. “A fact which has pleased me beyond words.” Leaning forward, he ran his nose along the length of her spine, breathing her in once again. “Oh, my sweet love, why do you look so crestfallen? If there is one thing that Irene Gabriela DuGrace de Bartolome enjoys more than her freedom to live as she so pleases, it is being a mother and creating life. Have I not granted you this? So tell me, what is it?”
  21. I regret watching these trust issues eat me alive, and at the rate I'm going, they'll probably still be there when I die. Congratulations, you'll always have a room in my mind. The question is, will I ever clean the walls off in time.

  22. King

    For the Good of My House

    Andross was rather content to allow his father and brother to have their way with the negotiations thereafter, and settled for peeling the ore samples away from his blade and sheathing it in his boot once again. The false triastine, he tossed across the table with the rest of the elves' dismantled treachery, a haughty flick of the wrist as if he were discarding trash. It felt good to have the high ground, at long last. For too long they’d been at the mercy of these foreign dignitaries, the lowborns of a mysterious society come to distant lands to flaunt their status. Finally, they had the upper hand—and though his expression remained cool, cold as ice, even, Andross could see the barely visible lines of frustration along Vhoori’s face. It killed him to be in this position, looking up—not down—that long, slender nose of his at his business partners. No, they weren’t quite partners anymore. For this treachery, this betrayal, they now stood beneath the humans they’d mocked for so many years. A feat only made possible by the betrayal of his daughter, no less. Oh, how that must have scorched the old elf’s soul. As the witnesses and retinues filed out of the great hall, Andross cast his gaze toward his brother. Alexandros had likely thought to slip out before his younger twin noticed, but he was still by a hand on the shoulder, its counterpart held out in expectancy. He’d not received his father’s praise, not yet – that would come after this farce had been put to rest, and the elves were ousted from their homeland. But his brother, he would pay now. “You have something that belongs to me,” Andross said. Alexandros eyed his brother’s hand disdainfully. “Mm.” “We’ve already seen one noble betray his word. I’d doubt you’d like to be cast in with that lot, no?” “You cheated.” “Cheated?” Andross cocked a brow. “It isn’t cheating that I happen to be in good standing with Lady Vivienne, enough that she was willing to entrust this critical information to me. I do believe you refer to that as networking. Now, give it over.” With no ground left to argue, Alexandros fished into his pocket and retrieved an ivory king chess piece. It was smooth and polished, looking brand new as he pressed it into Andross’s palm. “Kings to you.” Then, he turned and walked away. Kings to me, Andross thought proudly before tucking the piece into his pocket. He was a step from leaving when he heard the smack, loud and sharp as thunder as it cut through the room. Keen eyes swept over the empty face, finding Vivienne cupping her cheek, and Vhoori standing tall above her, palm pink from the impact. Instinct nearly kicked in as the young lord reached out to summon his blade—but years of propriety proved a far stronger influence, and succumbing to it, his battle sense quickly dulled, then vanished altogether. They might kill her when she returns home, Andross thought to himself. She’s betrayed her House, but also brought ruin to their rebellion? If Vhoori doesn’t desire retribution, his allies might. How much had she truly sacrificed for the good of his House? Could he just stand idly by and watch as she was carted off to what promised to be a painful, lonely death? Was it obligation he felt warring inside him, honor, or was it something else? What was she to him—stranger, lover, friend, all of these things? Did he care for her at all? Again, Vhoori raised his hand to her, the only retort that could be mustered, but it didn’t fall. Andross gripped the elf’s wrist tight, keeping it hoisted. “I don’t know much of your lands or customs, Lord Vhoori, but here, we do not strike our women.” The young noble tossed Vhoori’s hand aside with an almost excessive boast of power, a testament that the tall, thin elf would be a poor match for him in a contest of strength. With a step, he placed himself to their sides, and then with another, set himself as a bulwark between the father and daughter. He didn’t bother sparing the red-eyed elf a glance, knowing she was all right. Instead, he kept his gaze focused squarely on her father, meeting his icy glare uninhibited. “My father and brother may have been content to settle the matters as they are, but I am not.” Andross posed both hands behind him, linked at the small of his back. “As the lord commander of my father’s Honorguard, I do not overlook matters of betrayal and treachery so easily.” Vivienne would see the mighty fists that formed, strained with unspent fury. “By the law of my lands, it would be well within my right to challenge you to a duel, Lord Vhoori.” His voice was bitter, vicious and curt. “You’re good at this political game, far better at it than me, I confess, but how long do you think you would last in the square with me?” Gavin Kholin had given the elf more than just a chance to lick his wounds and reassess his dealings. He’d given him his life. “You will make this right,” Andross said coldly. “Starting with your daughter.” A third step and he was beside her, arm around her waist, holding her in a manner both exalting and possessive. “She has proven herself a true ally of my family, and therefore, is invaluable to us. She will remain here, at Skyfall, where I can ensure that you’ve hatched no more nefarious schemes at my family’s expense. She will be well-kept and looked after, an honored guest.” He saw the rage in the man’s face, the hate just seconds from spewing from his thin lips. “Or, we can draw the square and you can fight for these terms.” Andross, though no politician, was confident he’d worked Vhoori into a corner – the only exit, that which he provided. “Make your choice, Lord.”
  23. King

    Better Devils

    Angels can't help you here... Quinton checks his watch for the third time, only a little dissatisfied that so much time has passed since their agreed rendezvous. It’s one of the more difficult aspects of dealing with people rooted in the deeper soils of archaic governments. They are all of the belief that they are god-anointed (humorously, even the lowly barons and lesser lordlings), that they exist beyond reproach, and of course, that the world itself revolves around them. At least, in the general sense of things. From time to time, unique individuals appear in the world – those that go against the stereotypes of their order and define themselves through character and action, rather than rumor. He’s heard good things about this Aurelius the Kadian, inspiring things. His is a traditional rags-to-riches story, wherein dedication, commitment, and sheer determination prevail over even the most insurmountable odds. The castle surrounding Quinton is testament enough of his host’s success. While lacking the finery of more grandiose establishments, the relics and tapestries of lords that define themselves by their wealth (and the need to ensure everyone knows just how wealthy they are), Aurelius’ home is one of practicality and simplistic beauty. The furnishings are neat, well-made, and all the interior is tidy. The servants are well-kept individuals with clean attire and practiced manners, and a subtle strangeness to them that Quinton can only surmise is pride in one’s duty. They hold their chins high as they walk, their shoulders squared, and look you in the eyes when conversing. Still, in spite of all that Aurelius has accomplished, there’s still much more to be done. Expansion and development can prove costly, and for a fledgling lord, capital can be difficult to come by. Quinton stands to resolve all of Aurelius’ monetary issues, both immediate and potential-- assuming agreeable terms can be met. “It truly is a beautiful place,” Quinton murmurs, looking through the nearest window to study the landscape. “I can see why so many people are attracted to this manner of living.”
  24. King

    A Room with a Weave.

    “You’re correct,” Quinton confesses. “It’s rare that I do anything these days that does not move the chains, as it were. I’ll have plenty of time for rest, relaxation, and leisure when—if—I retire.” It isn’t the first time one has shared their desire to know his plans, to understand his goal, and he doubts it will be the last. Evienne fancies herself his partner, and that is her right to assume such. It will likely make things easier between them, Quinton reasons, and thus makes no effort to correct her on the matter. “However, honesty does not come freely, partners or otherwise.” Still preferring to nurse his wine rather than taste it, Quinton idly runs a finger around the lip of his glass. “For instance, what if I were to ask you to take off your clothes and undergarments right now? Not to touch you or have my way, but simply to see? For honesty and openness, as you put it.” There’s a curious light in his gray eyes, which for a moment, gives them more of an ice blue tint. “Asking me to reveal my intentions and plans is sort of like that, you understand? Now, you might say you would rather know than not know, and I counter that by saying the same – as a man and artist, I would very much rather know what you look like nude than not know. But alas…” Finishing playing with his glass, Quinton sets it down atop the tray, continuing to pace about the room. His journey takes him nowhere in particular, though his eyes always managed to find their way back to her. They study her in an appraising manner, undressing her as some might say, or perhaps just gauging how she’s managed to gather his words. There’s no smirk to betray his true intentions, no twitch, no tell; and though he’s smiling, a curve of thin lips behind a groomed beard, it might as well be neutral and gray. “That being said, if you wish to know that deeply, by all means, shed every article of clothing on your body and bare yourself to me. I will sing my deepest secrets like a songbird as I admire your nakedness.” Quinton gestures to the center of the room, her stage, if she dares take his proposal. “Otherwise, you will need to wait. In time, everything will become clear to you. I do not make investments lightly or for the short-term, Evienne. We will be business associates well into your years, and that will be impossible if this dialogue does not exist, as you’ve mentioned. But, not everything needs to be immediate.” Hands in pockets, he approaches the young woman, standing head and shoulder above her as he steps within an arm’s length of her. “Now, if there’s nothing else, I ought to be going. I’ll send a courier within the week with official contracts for you to sign. All bookkeeping shall fall to you, but should be readily available for my viewing at any moment. I should be able to trace every coin of my money, see where it’s going and how it’s being used. I appreciate tidy business associates.” Noting the loose thread she’s been toying with, he reaches out and brushes her hand aside – gently, respectfully – before pinching it between two fingers. With a brief twist of the hand, the thread severs at the base, its presence all but erased. “I look forward to future visits, Evienne. Perhaps, next time, you’ll come to my gallery in Ignatz.”
  25. King

    For the Good of My House

    Andross eyed the woman sharply as she drove her elbow into his side, a bony dagger with more prod than pierce. Knowing it would be a waste of time and effort to caution patience, he instead left Vivienne where she stood, enacting his intervention. He passed the elf lord first, paying his respects to the foreign noble-turned-petty thief with a curt nod of acknowledgment. Vhoori, true to his icy reputation (which had proven startlingly accurate over the years Andross had known him), responded in kind with a nod of his own, equally as curt and disinterested. Then he was alongside his father and brother at the head of the great oak table, the latter of which can him a suspicious, knowing glance. “Finished showing our guest the grounds already?” Alexandros’s grin was sly, but brief. Andross frowned. “Please, have some class.” Their banter earned a questionable glance from their father, though thankfully, he remained void of inquiries. The old lord instead turned his hardened gaze back to the mineral in his hand, this piece a jagged splinter with deep emerald hue. Lord Vhoori likely saw it as a dismissal of responsibilities, being the youngest twin (and thus fashioned into a man of battle as opposed to politics), for he too seemed unbothered by the words. “So, you intend to buy the entire mine then, father?” Andross asked. Gavin nodded. “Lord Vhoori has made us a generous offer.” Andross cut his eyes to the elf lord, wintry and hellish. “How kind of you.” Then, he returned his attention back to his father. “Has the ore been tested?” It used to be that all the ores were rigorously tested, even the samples. Gavin’s trust was something earned, not recklessly given. It wasn’t until recent years that Andross could remember his father becoming lax in receiving their shipments, simply trusting their elven partners to uphold their end of the bargain. Besides, the ore was still good—better than the ore they mined from the nearby mountains—for a land as rich with magic as Genesarian typically produced quality material, which sometimes made discerning what from what difficult. Gavin looked at his son incredulously. “No, why?” Andross didn’t meet his gaze, but instead looked a small way’s to his left, studying Vhoori. The elf’s expression was terse, doggedly glacial. “This is probably going to be one the largest purchases our house has ever made, father. While I mean this as no offense to Lord Vhoori’s intentions, we cannot shirk precaution and duty for the sake of familiarity. The ore should be tested.” Alexandros scoffed, gesturing at his younger brother. “You say that you mean no offense in one breath, then spit in Lord Vhoori’s face in the next.” Though Alexandros smiled, he set a hand heavy hand on Andross’s shoulder, squeezing in a gesture that said, Brother, this was my deal. There will be hell to pay if you ruin this. Andross’s resolve didn’t waver. “The ore should be tested.” Alexandros’s smiled died, buried beneath a deep frown. The older twin looked to their father, hoping to rally support for his claim. Gavin’s expression was pensive, his brows wrinkled as he considered Andross’s words. Then, he nodded. “We’ll test the ore, then. You” – he gestured toward a darkeyed servant – “Go fetch the—” With a swiftness and grace that came from years of practice, Andross knelt and drew his marked blade from inside the lip of his boot. The rune Vivienne had fashioend was small and near the base of the blade, a hair’s breadth from the hilt. He noted the queer looks from his sibling and father, and the suspicious glare from Vhoori, but ignored them as he rose. “We all know that the trademark of triastine is its greenish hue, but also, that it lacks magnetic properties like steel or iron. My knife has been modified to test just that.” Vhoori opened his mouth to speak, but Andross’s hand was already in motion. The blade clanked against a small shard of ore, and when he lifted it, the jade-hued sample clung to the steel like ice to stone. Saying nothing, Andross extended his arm, asserting it in the view of all those nearby. The silence in the room was deafening.
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