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  1. Sikko walked into Blairville with an empty backpack and stomach. The city was no different from when he left it two years before. Even the old Sticks shop was still in the same place. “I’ll take two twangy lamb sticks.” He said to the man at the booth. He wiped his hands on his meat stained apron, writing down his order with a pen. “Anything else?” Nope, that’s it.” Sitting down in a nearby chair, he moved around, trying to get comfortable. Its metal flowers were beaten out of shape by years of use, making it an uncomfortable seat; but he smiled despite it. The sharp smells of meat and musk, held low by the smoke that was in the air, made his eyes water and smile widen. The sharp smells of meat and musk collided and were held low by the smoke that rose from the various fires in the market. Sikko was excited to be back, not just to visit the place he spent his teen years, but to ask his former teacher, Sanso Tson, to accompany him to Shannee Glacier. Of course there was the possibility of getting a no, but he’d work on the technicalities when they came. “Two twangy lamb sticks.” The man’s voice rang out, making Sikko stand. “Thanks.” Dropping two ounces of copper he walked through the busy market place. Biting down on a piece of lamb he sighed as rosemary pervaded his nose with each exhale. The lemon splashed, causing a zesty tingle to linger on his lips. Blairville was the only place to get food like this! An old habit overtook him as he weaved through the crowd, stopping and watching people and their interactions with one another. When he had first arrived in Blairville, Sanso would send him out on quick errands, and a lot of times he’d end up stay out a lot longer, watching and following various people. Some would call it stalking, but for a shy young teen it was more an adventure than anything else. Tossing his eaten lamb into a nearby waste bin, he started to eat on the other as the sounds of the marketplace faded behind him. The noontide sun beat down upon the city; sweeping gusts of wind regulated the heat to a cool, tropical temperature. Plants, flowers, trees and other foliage grew seemingly intertwined with the city. It wasn’t uncommon to see a root in the floor of your home or vines scaling up your walls, it was just a part of the harmony the people had with nature. It wasn’t a far distance to Sanso’s home, it sat on the edge of the river that winded through the city and Sikko would only have to go a mile or so downstream to reach it. Reaching a bridge, he went around and into the slope that led to the river. Rocks and mud caught into the soles of his boots, causing him to slip more than walk down to it. Upon arriving at the river, he held out his hands, freezing a small section of it into thick ice. Sitting on it, he broke it free of the bank the current whisking him down stream. Sailing down the river on a piece of ice didn’t warrant him any shocked glances or strange looks; just the occasional kid running along the bank trying to catch him, or Hello’s from people walking along the bridges overhead. He never felt his introverted side come out while he was here and it was a welcome change for his usual quiet, observing self. Passing under a tree, its thick branches and broad leaves casting a giant shadow over the river, he stood. Everyone called it the Giant’s Tree, one of the biggest in Blairville and also a personal land mark to Sikko. Steering his raft to the bank he jump off, landing with a soft ‘thud’ on the muddy bank. Sanso’s house was only a little ways away; he could even here the gentle ‘plinkle’ of chimes marking the entrance to his garden. He hesitated, what if he didn’t want to see him or something? Stop, He told himself. Sanso welcomes complete strangers into his home, why wouldn’t he accept you? With a mental shrug he walked on.
  2. A groan escaped Samuel a he became aware. Opening his eyes, he could see a peron on the floor, speckled with the green and yellow light that filtered through the trees above. Sitting up, he nearly blacked out at the pain that flooded his temples. Where an I he thought How did I get- A faint memory whisked in front of his mind and he reached out, only grasping the edges before it was whisked away in a flurry of pain. Obviously his mind didn't have the capacity to think about that right now. Standing up, slowly as to not irritate his brain further, he walked and grasp the trunk of a tree. It's rough, lichen laden bark was unfamiliar to him; being from a large city hadn't given him the privileges of nature; but the earthy smell emanating from it comforted him, reminding him that he was alive and indeed in the real world. Sliding down, he wriggled over the roots, trying to find a comfortable seat among them. He was surprised to see how dirty he was; his peach jacket and black pants hadn't held up too well to whatever handling that had brought him to this place; however he didn't mind, at least whoever had brought him here hadn't killed him. Upon habit, he slid his hands into his pockets, the warmth of his thighs heating his hands. It was colder than he like, 65 degrees at the most, and the heat was welcome. Flipping his hands over to warm the other side, he felt a paper in his right pocket, and upon pulling it out, blackout again. It all came back to him when he read the slip: Phase One Initiated: The Camp Subject: Telekinetic @AngryCacti
  3. Vdara Kingdom Marketplace NorthEastern Genesaris 597, Modern Era Despite telling herself that she wouldn't, the Runesmith was looking through crossbow bolts, again. The quiver on her back was empty, shamefully so, and sat in stark contrast to the heavy black-metal gunbow strapped to her back. The bolts on show weren't all that varied: you had your wooden bolts, of course, but also ones made of bronze, aluminum and even a handful of glass bolts, too. They were expensive, though, and well out of Priscilla's price range. This was why she'd been so averse to coming to this particular stand. She couldn't afford quality goods, and ought to have browsed cheaper stalls closer to the entrance of the market. But those stalls didn't have the specialized bolts the gunbow needed to fire, further adding to her dilemma. Thankfully, she didn't have to worry about wasting the vendor's time, as they were busy with another customer. This allowed her to walk away quickly, without making things awkward. She headed back the way she came. The sun was out, and it bathed the streets--and herself--in light. Vdara was every bit as beautiful as she remembered from her previous visits, but now she was returning not in trumph, but in disgrace. The familiar minishop she was so used to riding with had been gone for months now, and now, only the comforting weight of the crossbow on her back, and the knife strapped to her chest felt familiar. She was nigh unrecognizable, she realized upon passing a tall mirror on sale. Her natural hair color, that soft, cocoa-brown, was looking much healthier than when she'd started travelling to Vdara in the first place, and clothed in the thick, comfortable pirate's jacket and heavy boots she'd looted from the crash of Gehenna, she looked stronger than before, even. She didn't look the same as the woman who regularly visited Vdara and the Merchant's Guild, though. Her purple hair, and trim, effeminate appearance were gone, or at least hidden. Maybe that had something to do with why she was denied the majority of her insurance? Whether it did or not, Priscilla walked out of the Merchant's Guild less than wealthy. Worse still, nearly eighty percent of her gains were immediately handed over to the people involved in saving her. With what she had left, she'd been able to put some money into a hotel, buy some clean clothes and...that was it, really. She wasn't going to stop, though. If anything, the attempts on her life, over and over, had toughened her, and taught her a thing or two about how to stay alive, when people and animals and the environment itself desired otherwise. So, while she'd been resting in the tavern she'd holed up in, she'd come up with the idea of doing it again. Not the almost getting killed, part. The part where she didn't die while fighting things. Contract work wasn't unfamiliar anywhere within Genesaris, and loads of people made their living off of it. So, Priscilla reasoned, she could find a contract or three, and make enough money to recover her business. She passed beneath a bridge--or what it a road?--and focused on the tavern where she'd rested last night. The tavern was a classic, after all. She'd look for some hired help within, and get started before noon. She stepped inside, burying the quiet buzz of passing conversation for the louder clamor for the people within the bar, the bright sunlight for the dim candlelight of the tavern's interior, and the smell of fresh air for booze and sweat. She cringed, a bit, but pressed on, and found a spot at an empty table. And then, Priscilla waited, and watched. She didn't really know exactly who to look for, but she was confident they'd become obvious, in time.
  4. "Have you decided on a name yet, Your Highness?" Sabine sat on a stone bench, her armor glinting in the light. It was one of the rare times she was at ease. There was a tenderness in her voice, for she was a loyal Knight and Imperator to Princess Raveena. Raveena walked casually, swathed in pale silks that draped her pregnant belly agreeably. She looked right at home in the Imperial Gardens of Umbra, the way the sun shone through the leaves, the gentle sway of the flowers--this seemed to echo in the very way Raveena moved. Sabine watched her Queen carefully, though the grin never left her. Motherhood suited her just fine, she decided. She wanted to think it was strange, knowing that Raveena had ascended to a higher state of being and yet--this avatar--whatever one would call it--seemed to human and sweet. "Everett," Raveena replied with laughter and smiles in her voices, "My brave little prince. My wild beast." She paused long enough to cradle a drooping flower between her palms. She whispered lilting, encouraging words in a language Sabine did not pretend to understand--it certainly wasn't any Vaa'denian she had picked up. While Raveena was a Terran citizen, her origins were from a whole other somewhere else entirely. Sabine felt very plain and boring by comparison. She missed Efrideet--and had hardly given up on her quest for vengeance. Raveena needed her now more than ever with Efrideet dead and Rowan in a coma. Prince Grant was still lamenting his failures in the wake of Hyperion's destruction. "Your son will be well loved, Your Highness. A new Imperial heir gives the people hope that--." She paused abruptly. She knew better than to speak his name. The Moon God had been cast out for killing his brother. Angry that his siblings turned on him, he was set to destroy the Hyperian Empire no matter the cost. Sabine thought back to Rowan's catatonic state and the demonic creatures from his world that attacked them. The God himself attempted to smite Rowan but Raveena had chosen to accept her mantle as Goddess of the Red Plane to even the playing field. Now an all out war between the gods and their champions was set to begin. The fate of the empire rest on who would come out as the victor. "I know," Raveena replied softly, sadly. The sun god--foolish oaf he could be, had done many great and terrible things to her through the course of her life. And yet...yet, she missed him. "He will carry and unfortunate burden. Be brave, my heart." She cradled her pregnant belly and began another circuit around the cut out. Just out of view, a retinue of the Daughters of Thaus and the Enforcers patrolled and waited patiently. Their life was to their ruler. Sabine rose to join Raveena, who casually opted to take to the main path again. Raveena tried to walk side by side with the Lady, but Sabine--by her own virtue--always remained flanked out of respect to Raveena's station in Umbra and beyond. "I'd like a hatchery," Raveena spoke suddenly, her attention admiring the flora. She would stop sometimes and read the signs, cross to the other side. She would tend to the dying or dead with encouraging words, and praise the living. "Pardon, Your Highess?" Sabine was startled by the sudden thought. "A hatchery? Here?" "In Hyperion. I will draw up the plans for it. I'll be damned if the South is going to wipe out one of Genesaris' oldest creatures. Oh?" She paused--though this was not to admire any plant or flower. Sabine recognized the look that Raveena sensed something. The Chimera gene was still strong in her, and she perhaps could smell something--maybe even see or feel something that the Lady Knight could not. "We are not alone." Raveena turned to glance at Sabine serenely, "This requires strict decorum. Five paces behind me, do not look nor acknowledge them unless you are given permission to." She returned her to leisurely stroll through the gardens, and Sabine grinned wolfishly before falling in line and assuming the part of of armed escort. "At once Your Highness." The Emperor's Paramour was here. @The Hummingbird
  5. [continued from As The Crow Flies ...] Long hours passed in the trek through the Forest of Ellwood, the Umbral entourage creeping along slowly, as the shadows of trees extended long beyond them. Rou even chanced to yawn, a good time or thrice, and though tire tugged ceaselessly at her eyes, she did not dare to sleep. The soldiers of Fowler's company did the same, knowing that their captain would have some indelicate words and choice punishment for them if they'd become lax in their duty. When the forest opened, thinning into extinction, the palpable sensation across the party was relief. "Pennants, men," Fowler commanded as their steeds stepped through the last of the thicket, half the riders circling around to the last wagon, doled out flags by the rider, on long pole masts that they carried like lances as they returned to formation. The graying naval captain, looking back over his shoulder, could still be heard definitively even through his mask he had yet to remove. "Banners, up." A great rush saw them all flap to attention in concert, deep cardinal-red fields adorned by the thorny black emblem of their master, insignia of the Carmine Emperor. Onward they proceeded like an official procession, not soon to be reminded of their messy conduct within the forest. Rou peered over Zenahriel's shoulder with curiosity, some resemblance of the tall towers seeming familiar. A party what felt like eons ago, she remembered, a party in celebration of the queen and her victory in Ellwood, Rou had confronted the Black Queen about her poor taste, given the stench of dead men had not yet left the room. Considering the conditions upon which she left, she whispered dryly to her confidante, "Of all the places I expected to be welcomed, I certainly wouldn't have thought here." As the guards drew closer, Rou didn't shrink from their arrival, but made no spectacle of herself, either. Best not to be turned away at the door, regardless of company. Fowler did all the talking, as chief officer among them. "Emissaries of the Carmine Dominion to audience with the Queen," he told them curtly, sitting up straight as he tightened the reigns on his horse, who adjusted at his master's command, "They will see her immediately. Please notify Her Grace of their arrival." Perhaps he'd done this often before, as Rou had no reason to think about prior, as she'd noticed that he'd ordered, rather than asked. To some degree of surprise, one of the Orisian soldiers bowed, before quickly running off to relay his message, while the other stayed and guided them to the courtyards at a brisk, walking pace. As they trotted beneath the first set of parapets, belaying the more intimate vision of the great Orisian palace, the men of the Umbral company relaxed with a palpable air of safety, peeling their masks from their faces and indulging in unstifled breaths. The dreaded forest was long behind them... but for Rou, she was creeping into the Lion's Den. Centrally placed within the pristine marble fortress, the caravan slowed to a halt, and Rou knew that they were not long from the throne room. As chanced a glance upward, the black sky of night was starting to streak with fair purple, their pace having devoured most of the night, and the Queen's time for audience was growing short. Time was of the essence, and no one could know that her heart was tying a vice around her throat. Steadying herself with an uncommonly chaste and pragmatic hand on Zenahriel's thigh, she won her leg from the other side of the horse, and then disembarked his saddle with a hop. The remainder of the party followed suit. Unraveling the many windings of scarves from around her neck, Rou dropped the pile on one of the wagons, and brushed the clinging dust and dirt of the forest off of herself. The spores were too few to taint in an environment of open air, however, scrubbing the forest from their skin and clothes would leave a greater satisfaction, if not peace of mind for risk of infection. Most of their clothes were dappled in green, effects of their endured time within the forest, looking as if stained-- Rou most of all, for her slip from the horse. But as she divested herself of unnecessary trappings-- her mask, her jacket, her belt and frog with the steel saber tucked away, it was as if she had peeled off a disguise-- she'd noticed as several eyes seemed to zero in on her. It was to be expected, to think she would go unrecognized was folly. Rou, with her jet black hair and olive skin now borne to the fading moonlight, eyes that shone like molten gold and deep, dusky maquillage that would make penitents blush, looked like no Orisian, nor any of the Carmine Dominion. As diverse as they may be, Rou was foreign, the Emperor's so-called Desert Bloom, thorns and all. Some recalled her for her brief time and spectacle in Orisia, others by reputation alone. Regardless, she could feel the hair standing on the back of her neck, and reminded herself to remain firm, her lips pressed into a thin line. By now, they could not remove her, as they had recognized Zenahriel, as well. Drawing in a deep, calming breath, Rou rejoined her companion with a leading hand. "The hour is upon us," she idled briefly in attention, though it seemed more to prepare herself, rather than him, fastening herself to the task with a projected sigh. "I need you now the most, my friend... I am left in your capable hands." The procession was making it's way towards the door, and with half a smile, Rou and Zenahriel would join them. The ingress was opened wide, like the maw of a great beast, intimidating and beautiful. Even in the dark cast of night, the bright white marble seemed nearly blinding by comparison, for the humans among them still found their eyes stressed from their travels through the forest. Adjusting took a few fair moments, but the path to the dais took longer-- Captain Fowler leading next to the Orisian soldiers, followed by the pair of An'She and trailed by their company. They did not look harrowed as if from battle, however disheveled and tired was an accurate depiction. Zenahriel shone out among them, as time nor wear could not diminish him, and he stood nearly a head taller than all else. As her eye trailed up the dais to its paramount, Rou expected to find a lion sitting atop its peak, though perched on the throne seemed arguably more a gazelle. Regal, indeed; beauty, unquestionable; but tooth, claw, and ferocity remained to be seen. In her natural element, surrounded by friends and peers without subterfuge, she looked positively peaceful, if not retaining that slightly forlorn cast behind her eyes. While Rou's anger was fire and destruction, she reminded herself that it was the predator you did not see coming that was more a threat than the ones that did. Very little reason had these two great women found to be in the same place, though they each remained a constant menace to the other-- Rou was hardly one to balk, brazen and arrogant as she was. Diplomacy may have seemed an easy charade for Rou to slip into, though it defied the reputation of her nature. She was determined for this to go well-- and for that, she would require rest, and privacy. Too many onlookers were eager to discern the reason of a formal party of the Carmine Dominion. Fowler stopped at the foot of the dais, pounding his fist at his heart in military salute, before managing a rigid bow, nearly to the waist. He made grand introductions, though Rou had seemed deaf to his words. With a step closer to Zenahriel, she kept her gaze ahead, not tearing from the Black Queen, but lowered her voice to a whisper. "Do not make mention that I am to be Empress," she warned privately, for he had already accustomed himself to the habit. Her eyes trailed warily to him, a subtle, firm plea, imploring him to heed her request, offering a plausible reasoning for his comfort, "I would not have us meet on unequal footing." Fowler's introductions concluded with a gruff cough, stealing Rou's attention back. As he sidled out of the way, there was nothing standing between Rou and Gabriela Du'Grace, now. In those few moments, Rou's gaze hardened, as even now she felt her blood start to boil. For all that she'd suffered, the Black Queen had earned her place in blame, and upon such close proximity in any other circumstance, Rou might've closed the distance between them with her hands wringing about Gabriela's iridescent neck. Burying the hatchet was notably difficult... particularly when it wasn't buried in the back of her skull. @The Hummingbird @Pasion Pasiva
  6. The Vagrant Queen, flagship of The Forgotten Fleet. It’s massive size and frame appeared on the horizon in the waters outside of Port Caelum, and aboard it was the one and only Dredge. The Nightmare King and Dark Lord of Legion. He who had brought ruin and death to countless lives. But today wasn’t about ruin and destruction, quite the opposite really. Since the battle of Last Chance, Dredge had time to think while sailing the seas. It wasn’t brought on by losing a battle, Dredge had lost battles in the past. His thoughts were that of his people for once, not the selfishness and desire to conquer, not the need to bend the dark races of the world to his service and throw their lives away as if they were nothing. For this first time in forever, he found himself giving a damn about the goblins, trolls, and orcs he took in. He cared for their well-being and today would prove it. Living out at sea was not sustainable for them. They needed land, resources, and the ability to live peacefully. Or at least as relatively peacefully as a nation of monsters and beasts could. From the beach anyone staring could see the blackened leathery wings of a massive beast open up. Letting loose a deep and sharp ear piercing scream, the monster took flight and made its way to the sands outside the port. Riding atop a truly gargantuan bull wyvern was the dark overlord, he had finally arrived to get the measure of Akako. His emissaries had given their reports of the woman, his walk about her town during the festival gave him some insight on the woman and how she ruled, now it was time to see if all of what he heard lived up to the real deal. Quickly locating where the lone Queen of Port Caelum stood, the Wyvern made haste to approach. Another ear piercing shriek filled the skies above and descending from the air the wyvern bared its gleaming rows of fangs at the Queen. Lowering it’s long head and neck, the beast went silent as the loud thump of metal hitting sand sounded off at his side. Standing there in all his unholy glory was Dredge. Blackened war torn armor covered his body from head to toe. At his back was a jagged blade formed of bone from what one could only imagine to be a true horror. With every step the man took power and darkness radiated off of him in spades, a true dark lord to command the forces of evil. But what caused chills to roll down the spines of men were his eyes, two burning red points that shined brightly through a Stygian abyss of blackness that shrouded all other features of his face that the faceplate did not. Those eyes reduced even the bravest of men to nothing. So what would the dark lord do now that he was face to face with the true Queen of Yokai? Simple. He turned around, looked to his wyvern and spoke. ”Whose a good boy, Jeremy?!Whose a good boy?! You’re a good boy! Yes you are! Yes you are!” lovingly petting the wyvern, the beast returned the favor by nuzzling into his master and extending its slimy disgusting tongue to lick the helmet of his blackened armor. ”You want a treat?! Yeah you do!” letting down one of the large leather sacks attached to the wyvern, Dredge reached in and pulled from it the entire severed leg of a goblin who most likely died in an industrial accident. Taking the limb and throwing it into the air the wyvern flew up and caught it in its mouth only to devour it whole. From there the Wyvern would fly back to the ship and remain until the meeting was over. Turning to face Akako, Dredge smiled a wicked toothy grin beneath his helmet before his next move. Which was of course this. ”Hey, I’m Dredge. It’s so nice to meet you. My people call me the Nightmare King, Lord of Fire and Ash, Slayer of Men, and Dark Lord of Legion. But you can just call me Dredge. Easier that way.” Dredge said in a very casual and friendly tone. ”So let’s get these negotiations started! Again super nice to meet you.” With the snap of his fingers the man transitioned into full on finger guns before giving a slight bow at the waist and moved to rustle through the leather sack he dropped from the wyvern. @Akako Akari
  7. Dauner stood on the hill taking one last glimpse of his village as he was about to walk into the outer world on his first ever adventure. Dauner was born in a tiny village north of Yh’mi in Terenus where he had lived his entire life. He had always dreamt of going out of his village and living epic adventures like most of the adventurers that had been through his village had. Each time they came, they told tales of their adventures. How they discovered new places, explored dungeons and fought monsters. Each tale he heard just kept increasing his desire to taste that same adventure. Simply killing the little monsters that bred by his village wasn’t enough. He wanted to meet new races, to fight tougher monsters and to see the world as broad as it was. For this reason, he had made up his mind to leave his village as soon as he turned 17. After an eternity of waiting, the time had finally come to say goodbye the only world he’d known his whole life. He turned and walked away with the village settling behind the hills which now stood between them. He had a backpack with his food and water with him. He was well prepared for what awaited. The first place he had in mind was the mysterious land of Yh’mi. He had heard from one of the adventurers who had been there and lived to tell the tale, that there was a precious mineral there known as Ercaniron ore. He wanted to use this mineral to make an even stronger and heavier sword than the presently had. It took him 4 days to get to the entrance to Yh’mi. “The town of inns’th. My first adventure awaits” he said to himself putting on a beaming grin.
  8. "I'm ready." She spoke--to herself, or to her father remained unclear. A dossier of information--of schematics, or plans and hopes and dreams--they were all neatly collected and organized--as was her way. She slid it across the little cafe table of the veranda they sat at. The Yor estate had become something of a retreat. The months went by and the wives became plumper with their pregnancies. Kirena showed far more these days than Raveena did. It was endearing and hard to believe all at once. Umbra was special like that. "The water first. The supplies, next--including their biggest export. Banks and businesses. All of it is there from start to finish. No one has laid eyes on these but you." It was her first move as a ruler--a usurper of the divine. That is what the fae whispered in their chilling voices. Usurper Usurper... "Nymeria has given their aid through Kyros' regency. Honestly, I wish they would integrate themselves into the Empire already. Queen Rahab still pushes for it, but the Diarchy rule is old and solid." Raveena sighed softly and poked idly at the small garden salad she was presented with. She did not have Rowan's photosynthesis-like ability, nor Rafael's own means of sustenance. Divine Being that she had become, she was still stuck with eating a salad. She wasn't ungrateful, she simply wondered what her kind should rely on more. Or did they? Was she unique in that regard? "I need to know how prepared I should be to be rejected by the North with my proposal moving forward. I have my secondary plans in place, but you taught me that a siege takes time and careful consideration." She paused long enough to sip water from a crystal goblet and sighed thoughtfully. "I want to do this right. I'm ready for this. Seeing Hyperion in ruin...it woke something up. I can feel it--I can feel that divine power flowing through my veins now. I feel--stronger. I feel more confident, as if I've been waiting for this. Like a sign I'm doing what I am meant to." She looked at her father and studied his features with a deep measure of gratitude. "Thank you for all that you've imparted on me. I'm ready," She nodded, before looking out at the gardens, "I wish to rule--firmly, fairly, wisely. But first I must play the game, and I cannot always play fairly to win." @King
  9. @King She left with no other reason than she wished to go. Kadia has finally exchanged hands, leaving the throne and all its lovely ornaments to her youngest siblings - Connor. There was no reason for her to be against this, not when they had fought beasts and their ilk together, shed blood together, nearly died together, and have given their youthful years to the warp that had almost destroyed Kadia. Through all those moments of near-deaths and near failures, Connor showed that he was the hateful mix of their mother and father, bearing the pride of their mother and the coldness of their father regally. So naturally, the throne belongs to him. And it should have bothered her. There is a strangeness surrounding her sibling, something she can't exactly put her finger on, but it was enough to make the young lady relinquish her titles to find a life outside the Empire. It bothered her, yet it did not. Failsafes are in place for a reason, mother and father have made it clear they'll be watching from a distance and will step in when necessary. Olympia knows her home will be in good hands, no matter her feelings towards Connor, who has earned his strangeness. Aside from her parents, she understands that Cornelius is also watching with Lyonene right at his side. Kadia is safe - for now. With that for now in mind, she escaped into the night, never to return. Freedom is a strange burden. The event in Kadia did more than just age her a handful of years; it made her a little less wary of strangers and the world they inhabit. Her childishness is still worn in her manner of speech: the abundance of each word, the misuse of her excitement, the tone of curiosity. Sheltered for most her life, she can't help but look at the world with wide-eyed wonder, even though she has told herself to play cautious and coy. Weary, sure. Careless? Absolutely. It's the freedom flowing through her veins that's making her appreciate the world around her a tad more. It has also made her remember. Sitting beneath a withering, cold tree, she stares fondly at a rose. Its stem is being spun between gloves fingers, while dark eyes admire the loveliness of the gift that had been given to her some time ago. Rafael, his name echoes through her mind with immense fondness attached to it. If she were home and the devout knew of her like for the man considered less than human, they'd have her stripped and flogged, maybe even brainwashed. Out in the wilderness, she is free to think of Rafael and enjoy the memories brought on by merely whispering his name to herself. He had created a new world for a young girl hiding behind her father's legs. He had spoken to her sweetly, given her a gift, and promised her a dance under the moonlight. It was in that moment she had broken her religious fanaticism towards her father's belief; there was no way she could be faithful to his cause when Rafael had shown her in a few gestures that the world is painted using many different strokes. Then, just like now, she whispered his name to the stars and spoke to him as if he had always been there. The conversations vary, and the chosen piece for tonight are the fears. Sleep is difficult due to the memories of the warp and what she had gone through; the inability to accept such a weakness that she would struggle with such a trivial matter. He wouldn't judge, she is sure of this, which is why she speaks to the air around her as if it were him with ease and comfort.
  10. Continued from Chapter 7: After the Requiem | Table of Contents Sai, the Chibas and Claire ended up spending the rest of the day together, and when the sun grew low in the sky, Sai and Claire boarded the Lightning Rail train that would get them close to the Grey Manor. It was twilight when they finally reached their destination. There seemed to be more guards than usual, and there was an unmistakable air of tension as the carriage bearing the two visitors was admitted through the gates. Ever since the mysterious explosion that had rocked the castle several months ago, the guards had all redoubled their vigilance, determined that no other intruders would slip past their watchful eyes. But they had instructions to let Claire and her friend through, so they did so, leading the pair into a modest private chamber where the Countess awaited them. As soon as they entered, Amirah rose and embraced Claire, her eyes lighting up. "Claire! It's so good to see you're alright. We've been worried sick about you," she admonished gently. Taking in Sai's Welander features and garb with a quick, knowing glance, she offered him a slight bow, smiling as he returned it with a much deeper one. "And who's your friend?"
  11. Continued from Chapter 4: Broken Wings | Table of Contents ____________________________ The dark of the night was deep as she walked home through it, head bowed. Streetlights flickered overhead. The wind walked with her, whispering comfort, but she could not hear it. Her mind was far away. Someplace secret. Someplace safe. Safe as houses. Safe as death. "Kneel." Her body reacted to the harshly-spoken command without her mind's leave, and she was on her knees on the cold sidewalk. The Kharn circled around in front of her. She hadn't heard him sneak up on her. But that was no surprise; of all the families of Elves, the Kharn were the masters of stealth. She did not dare look up at him as he examined her again, but she recognized him by his garb as the same one she had seen at the hospital. "So, you are one of ours," he mused, crossing his arms as he contemplated the ramifications. "You know, I think I remember you. You were smaller then, slave. But I remember you were a healer....Come, we're leaving." Helpless to resist a command from the lips of a dark elf, she rose and followed him as he turned down a side street, choosing the darkest paths that would take them to the city limits. "Tell me, slave, how did a weakling like you escape the Deep Realm? Speak." he asked as they continued onwards, she a proper two steps back from him, and walking with her head carefully bowed. The dark elf didn't sound angry, merely curious, but Florica knew better than to think for a minute he was just making pleasant conversation. He might well just be taking her down to the water to execute her, tying up a loose end his family had missed. She remembered him, now, as the sinuous cadence of his voice unlocked the waiting rooms of memories. Fourth son of the matron who owned her. She tried to remember his name, but it escaped her. He had been away at the military academy during most of her years spent in Eshdraemoir. "Master, please forgive me," she answered softly. "My master Sielnaac brought me on a raid, as was his wont, and we were attacked near the surface. He told me to hide, and I did, but then he was slain. They all were. I would have returned to Kalenturazzan, to Matron Bezhai, but I did not know the way." Her voice took on a piteously pleading tone, the better to represent her regret. "We had walked for many miles, and I cannot see in the dark. I swear by Enua's song, I did not wish to run away. I have always been faithful to your House. In all my years lost on the surface, I have not spoken of the realms of the Kharn to anyone." Though she did not see it, his amber eyes were gleaming with interest, even excitement. He brushed aside her simpering apologies. "You were there when Sielnaac's party fell? Can you attest whose blades cut the life from my mother's favourite son?" "I did not see them, master. I only heard their voices. But their accents were from Triel'daer, and...they called their leader Makhish." The dark elf stopped and whirled around to face her, and she bowed her head more deeply. "Makhish? That thrice-inbred son of House Eshniel? Are you certain, slave? It was years ago. Perhaps you misremember. Tell me, are you sure? Speak." She made no attempt to hide the fact that she trembled beneath his gaze, fearing a sudden blow if she spoke amiss. "Yes, master. That day is burned into my mind forever." The Kharn let out an utterly inhuman snarl of triumph, and started walking again. "We are going back. This news will bring me favour in the eyes of old Bezhai at last. You will tell her what you have told me." Florica's heart sank. "Yes, master," she murmured.
  12. Juliana Shale was dressed in what had to be the finest clothes she'd ever worn in her life. The dress itself was worth more than she'd made on her last three jobs combined, and the jewels (assuming they were the real thing) would probably fetch enough to live comfortably on for quite a while. It was a testament to her reputation that her employers trusted her not to take off with the valuables, and a testament to the generosity of their payday that she never even considered doing so. In her opulent attire, she blended right in with the society types milling about the inn foyer. She sipped wine from a crystal goblet and watched the parade of nobles. A woman with a pinched face and elaborate hair caught her eye and smiled. Juliana smiled back, thinking about the disgust that woman would feel toward her if she knew what she really was: a poor merchant's kid turned highway bandit turned high-priced expert thief. Juliana scanned the foyer. Not a face in the crowd she didn't recognize...except one. She caught it in a flash, then it disappeared into the crowd: a pale, thin face, a child's face. "You're not supposed to be here," she said under her breath. She set her goblet down on the pedestal of a marble statue and headed for where she'd last seen the stranger.
  13. “So what do you plan on doing with her?” A brow rose at the question that one of her subordinates allowed his curiosity to form. Luz was tired of attempting diplomacy, of caring for anyone outside of Illyrian interests. As she walked beside the hovering mechanism that now encased what she considered her burden, eyes bore hard into the form of the draconic girl that had allowed herself to lose control and nearly killed that other gangly man. She would never understand how whatever deities or forces out there thought to create such volatile power and allow someone as hotheaded and immature to wield it. Tapping the top of the metallic, portable containment unit that housed Arashi she sighed audibly. “She must be contained for our safety as much as her own though I could care less about the latter.” It would have been at least an hour since she had left her Light to endure this task and she already felt herself feel a longing to return to his side. The thought alone brought the slightest tinge of red onto her cheeks before she drowned it all with a sense of duty and irritation that she could not have the luxuries she desired. Having descended down a circular platform that hummed slightly and glowed just as brightly as the spire above them, they descended for quite a while into a subterranean facility that the Scientific Division reserved for experimentation that was far too dangerous to be seen. Magical wards coated this area with their protective magic meant more to contain than to protect from outside influence. If Arashi still held enough energy to keep herself alert and awake she would feel an overbearing sense of pressure that would make her feel sluggish and disrupt the balance of energy around her. This sensation was not reserved only for her, however, as it was clear that Luz and everyone else initiated every step and every action in reserved fashion so as not to expend too much energy. That feeling would soon subside once they entered a large chamber at the end of an long hallway. Large transparent doors infused with energy slid open to allow them all entry. In the center of the circular room was a device that seemed tethered by tubing and fixed into the floor beneath them. A planar surface marked the top of the device made of a material that seemed to move fluidly as if it could be manipulated. “Place her there and make sure she is well contained.” One of her subordinates gladly obliged, the young girl activating the opening mechanism for the metallic containment unit to attempt to manipulate Arashi to stand and lead her toward the device that now began to tilt into a vertical position in preparation. The sound of whirring and a distinct hum of energy could be heard all around them now. Luz motioned for a few other men to help the young girl, fully expecting Arashi to be resistant as was clear by her next words. “Comply dragon girl or I will be forced to make you more malleable to make sure you don’t attempt to kill anyone else.” Moving some stray silver hair from her face she crossed her arms and seemed ready to react forcefully should her subordinates be unable to lead her newest burden to her rightful place. @Flame Hero: Endeavor
  14. Continued from Chapter 3: Lovers and Thieves | Table of Contents _______________________________________________ It was a pitiful group that finally made their way through the doors of Ashville's hospital. Nero was still unconscious. The other three had fallen into a silence deeper than snowy winter, limping along with the last dregs of their strength burning into fumes. A bed with wheels affixed to it was hustled out for Nero, and creaked under his weight when Audric laid him upon it, with help from a male nurse. Everyone was rushing, and talking, and moving. Pointless. Couldn't they see it? He was gone. Florica stood beside the little bed, holding his warm hand, her eyes searching his face again and again for life she knew she'd never find. Her heart felt like a stone, cold and heavy in her chest. Claire's last words to her spun around and around in her head, destroying another small shard of her soul with each iteration. He wouldn't want you to die here. He was willing to put his life on the line for you. They both did, and they died for you. They died for you. They died for you. Another nurse came to wheel the bed away, and Florica moved with it, keeping hold of Nero's hand, her eyes still on his face. The nurse stopped, and sighed. "I need to take him to the healer now," she explained slowly, as though speaking to a small child. "You need to stay here." Florica gave no sign of hearing the woman, and when the bed started moving again she still followed it, clinging to Nero's large hand as before. The nurse stopped again, a look of mingled frustration and pity crossing over her face. "Come on," she muttered under her breath, and moved around to Florica's side. She tried to tug Florica's hand loose, but despite the gentleness of her grip, the little blond gypsy squealed in pain. The nurse quickly let go, and her eyes widened as she took a closer look at the gypsy's hand. "Shit," she muttered. The gypsy's hand was covered in blood, dirt and grime, and the nurse had at first assumed that the blood belonged to the big fellow on the bed. But the girl's hand was badly burned, and had a deep cut in it that looked like the work of a blade of some kind. "On second thought, I'll take both of you together," she conceded. "If they ask, just tell 'em you're family." She glanced back at Claire and Audric, and then over at the male nurse, who was just disappearing around a corner. "Hey Peter," she called. "Can you get these two checked in for me? Thanks," she added as he spun around on one heel and came back down the hall, a longsuffering look on his face. * * * The room they brought Nero to felt cold, to Florica. They didn't have to wait long for the healer. An older man came in, moving with a sense of brisk purpose. He checked Nero first, and his brown eyes narrowed. He shook his head at what he found. "Does he have a will?" he asked gently. Florica didn't answer. She didn't know. The question, and the tone in which it was asked, made her feel even more awful, so she ignored the healer. His attention turned to her, next. He reached over to raise her chin to look at him, but as soon as he touched her, his hand jerked back again. "Holy Gaia's tits," he swore. "What happened to you!?" He shuddered at the feeling of her aura, reflexively wiping his hand on his shirt. Quickly, he came around to her side of the bed, took a moment to steady himself, and then laid his hands on her, one on her forehead and one on her heart. He grimaced at the damage he found, hardly knowing where to begin. It was a miracle she was still alive, nevermind standing. "This might hurt a bit," he muttered, and set to work. * * * When she woke up, Florica found herself in one of the hospital beds. Her aura had been mended, it didn't hurt to breathe anymore, and her hand no longer felt like it was on fire. But that only made the pain of the memories all the worse. She kept her eyes closed, wishing again that she could have just died. She didn't know how long she'd been unconscious. It only felt like it had been a few seconds, but from the feel of it, someone had washed her, and taken away her clothes, dressing her in a soft white gown instead. Hearing voices outside the open door of the room, she opened her eyes. The healer was speaking with one of the nurses. Florica's eyes fell on Nero, and she felt another surge of remorse as she watched the steady rise and fall of his chest. They had washed him, too, and moved him to a solid wooden bed. He looked smaller somehow, without his armour, without those blue eyes looking back at her reassuringly. She'd never seen him asleep before. "Nero," she whispered, but he didn't stir. Her jaw clenched in frustration and grief, and she lay back in the bed, staring at the blank white ceiling as she listened to snatches of the conversation outside her room. "...must have been a talented healer, but our arts can only go so far." "You think it was her?" "Could be, she has the right aura for it. But she was torn up pretty bad. I don't know if..." The rest of the conversation was drowned out by the rattle of another rolling bed being pushed down the hallway, its creaking wheels slowly fading away after a minute. "...all we can do. You get the paperwork yet?" "Yeah, just need the gypsy's. She didn't have any ID or anything, and her friends weren't very helpful. Think she'll wake up soon?" Florica looked out at the door, and met the healer's brown eyes. He gave her an understanding look. "I don't know, Caroline. She's been through hell. Go easy on her for me, will you?" "Sure thing, Dr. Gregore." The nurse slipped into the room, carrying a clipboard, and stopped in surprise. "Oh, you're awake! Good, then, uh..." she glanced down at her papers. "...Florica, right? How are you feeling? Can you sit up for me?" The nurse was obviously making an effort to be gentle, and was just as obviously impatient and tired. Reluctantly, Florica sat up. The movement made her ache down to her bones, but it was easily bearable now. The doctor knew his trade well. She glanced down uncomfortably at her hospital gown, feeling underdressed without her clothes and headscarf. The nurse gave her a drink of water, and then settled onto a chair with her clipboard. "I just need to fill out some of this with you, and then you can rest," Caroline assured her. "Name?" "Florica Veshenga." "Can you spell that for me?" Florica obliged. Nero had managed to teach her that much. "Age?" "S-seventeen." "Birthday?" The gypsy didn't know it, so she instead gave the date when Nero had rescued her from Weland. "Home address?" Florica recited it, her voice trembling a bit as she thought of that empty house. "Next of kin?" "N-Neromius Caesar," she answered dully. "That name sounds familiar, uh..." Caroline flipped through the sheaf of papers clipped to her board, glancing at one further down. Then she glanced over at the man on the bed. "...Oh." A note of awkwardness entered her voice. "Uh, anybody else?" "N-n-n-n-no. It's j-just...us." The nurse sighed. "I'm sorry for your loss," she intoned, sounding as though she had already said the words a hundred times that week. "Well, you've got a clean bill of health, so just let us know when you're ready, and we'll get you signed out." "M-m-my clothes?" Florica asked weakly. "Oh sweetie, they were ruined. Whatever was in your pockets you'll find in that drawer, but we had to burn your clothes. There was just too much blood. Do you have a friend that could fetch you clothes from your house?" Florica shrank back to lean against the corner of the wall, the bed creaking under her. She shook her head silently, her eyes welling with tears again as she thought about Nathaniel and Claire. "Well, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it," the nurse concluded, a tad exasperated, and left the gypsy to be miserable in peace.
  15. Somnolent Nova @vielle Andromeda. Her name echoed within the cosmos’ immensity – it thundered at first before drowning into minuscule whispers. She was drifting, nude and seemingly vulnerable whilst the swell of galaxies carried her with ease. Even though the stars melodically voiced her name, there was something different amongst them. They were weak, starved from the essence that only Bolmjir could provide and with that sudden realization, the stars were not calling out to her out of recognition but of torment. Her stars cried out in agony, the name which she bore laced with distress amidst their broken symphonies. Andromeda had betrayed them, crossed them with her own personal vendetta. A consequence that she should have known right from the start. Being the embodiment of the cosmos herself, it was not long before she, too, felt the anguish it carried. Her chest ached and flooded with grief as she allowed the infinity to carry her, listening with a broken heart of the weeps ringing within her soul. Stars reached out to her with pleading gravities, trying their best to grasp onto any light she may hold; yet, even her own illumination grew dimmer with each and passing second. Andromeda could not move nor speak any apologies, and though her eyes were wide open, all she saw was nothing as she was soon consumed by a black hole. There was silence. How long had she been drifting? To mortals secured on their planet, it may have been simply months, probably a few years. However, for her where time was presently nonexistent, it felt like an eternity and perhaps it was – a punishment fit for a traitor of the heavens. Andromeda had been transported into the outer system beyond her will, plucked swiftly from the embrace of one she loved. Does he remember her after all this time? Or, has she been erased from history forever, only to be another tragedy written in Evalise’s grand tome? What of her proclaimed father and sister in Mageside? Was everything she had done and felt for naught? It would certainly appear that way. “Look at this pathetic nymph, brothers,” A female voice resonated in the gravitational field after a long moment. “Seems to me as though heaven Herself has turned its back on this one if it has led this traitor to our midst.” The Ultima. “Bolmjir’s eldest daughter. The one who brought shame and humility to us all,” A male’s voice this time, wails of the dead entwined with each syllable uttered. “What did you hope to achieve, little one? Your hands are stained with disloyalty and for what? To avenge that wretch’s death? You sicken me.” Andromeda knew that she should have felt fear but there was nothing. Not even a tear. “It’s a pity that we cannot crush you into the stardust you merely are, Phaerl,” Another male’s voice, gruff and evidently older. “Yet, unlike you, we will always remain loyal to Bolmjir and honour his dying wish. Your expiration has not come but we shall make sure that every moment of your life is filled with throes.” The voices agreed in unison. “She is weak, Enir. Let her be with the rest of the weaklings on that planet she has come to care for so much. We’ll be watching you, nymph.” In an abrupt moment, Andromeda was thrust out of the black hole with great force that caused her to faint instantaneously. And, whilst she accelerated back through the universes’ cries and woes, she began to cry as well in her unconscious state. She no longer drifted. Now, she was falling. -- Lush grass tickled the side of her face, kissing lightly at the tear stains that left trails down her almost translucent skin. Andromeda, still nude and vulnerable, laid in the middle of green grasslands, away from any means of nearby civilizations. She stirred, her eyes opening narrowly as she slowly came to her senses and slowly brought herself up. Well, she nearly brought herself up but with little prevail as exhaustion coursed throughout her body. Her limbs trembled, violet hair cascading over her face whilst she tried to take a gander at her surroundings; only to fall back onto the bed of grass with a tired exhale. Normally, it would have been easier for Andromeda to teleport somewhere else, somewhere safe. However, with the incredible exhaustion came with the price that whatever power she once had was now stripped away. Alone, powerless, cold – this was her predicament, presently. Channelling her sisters for aid would fail, asking the cosmoses for energy even more so. What’s worse was that she could not recall this area, the memory of it hazy as if it was all new and foreign. Was she anywhere or nowhere at all? After a long while of laying down, trying to piece together everything that had transpired with little to no victory, Andromeda tried to sit up again with irritated breaths until she finally stood. One thing that she could remember vividly was Mageside: Aignéis’ face and her father’s smile. That is where she had to go, that is where she was meant to be. Covering her nudity with delicate hands, she stumbled almost absentmindedly towards the direction where she felt home was.
  16. It was a strange vehicle. Completely unlike the traditional cars that she found on the mainland of Geneseris and in the more technologically advanced countries of Terrenus. It was elegant, almost like some miniature airship -- aerodynamic -- and almost completely silent, save for a seductive purr that hummed along. This is where she had been led, and this is where she sat to wait, with the doors closed and locked until such a time as when Marigold decided to appear. She was seated near one of the exits, peering out a window at the quiet but animated street. There were people moving about, they were still talking about the announcement, they seemed jittery and exuberant, even with the recent events that had brought them here. But then again, there was much to be thrilled about. These new lands would afford them a lush greenery that they had, perhaps, never known. There were glorious flowers blooming along their sidewalks, trees were settling in comfortably with their thick and twisting vines. All of Illyria appeared something of a strange dream, a mixture between elegant technology and savage beauty. But it was simply too much for Gabriela. She could not be as glad as they were, not with the steep price that had bought this strange combination. Even if it was Raylon and his people, so many had died for this to happen. Shifting uncomfortably, she adjusted her dress and leaned back with her hands neatly folded upon her lap. Her mind was racing, as was her heart. She never expected to see the doctor again -- hell, she never expected to see any of the people from that awful night ever again. It had all started to feel like a bad dream, like some ugly memory that was more fiction than fact. But seeing Marigold was all the shock her system needed to remember how she had nearly lost her life, and how she had nearly lost her son. Now, while she waited, she found herself teetering between relief that Marigold had made it out alive -- unhurt by his own people or any of hers. But there was also rage. She felt it hot and white. He was a part of it, even if he had changed his mind halfway through. He had been a part of the horrors.
  17. Light filtered through drawn curtains, glimpses of the first rays of sun blinking into the room. It was still early in the morning; the sun only just rising to peek shyly over the horizon. The sky was dusted in bright pink and orange hues which colored the room respectively. It was not yet bright enough outside for most people to be awake. The port city was quiet except for fishers that were already on the water. Within the Regent's estate, all was quiet. Not a soul had risen yet; even the servants were still sound asleep. Across the bed of the Regent's room was a mound of white fur that rustled as what lay beneath stirred from slumber. It was warm, comfortably so. Humming softly, the vixen slowly lifted her lashes before closing them again, not yet ready to wake up. Her cheek nuzzled against the warmth that was beneath her face. Hints of a smile curled her lips as she shifted, her thigh rising a bit as she clung to whatever she was clinging to. Finally, her lashes lifted again, golden orbs blinking away sleep as she tried to recall where she was. She was mostly buried beneath her nine tails, only her nose and eyes visible from beneath the mountain of fur. Shifting again, Akako slowly began to remember the night before and how she and the Cambion had stayed up until odd hours discussing his son and what he had done with the Port that she would be assuming responsibility for. The daiyokai then realized that her warm pillow was rising an falling and it had a heartbeat. Breath caught in her throat and her nose twitched as she identified who she was with, already knowing who it was. There was a small part of her that hoped that maybe she'd summoned someone in the middle of the night after Xartia left. It would be less complicated if that were the case. Once she realized that Xartia was who she'd conveniently cozied up to, blessedly with both of them fully dressed, she took stock of how they were positioned. Her head was on his chest, his hand on her shoulder, holding her to him. His hand furthest from her was draped over the wrist of her left which gripped at his dress shirt (probably the reason he didn't leave). Her leg was most concerning. Her thigh was on his thighs; her foot hooked around one of his legs. Their position, if anyone were to see, was far more intimate than strictly necessary. Confusing the pair for lovers or more would be easy. Akako gently removed her leg from Xartia's body before releasing his shirt from her left hand and trying to slip it out from beneath his hand. While she began unraveling herself from the Cambion, Akako's mind wandered. She could remember the last time she had been in a bed with a man without becoming intimate. It had been eons ago when Snake was alive. Her lips turned down as she recalled how that entire thing fell apart. It was best to keep distance, especially with Xartia leaving to raise his and Red's son in Predator's Keep.
  18. Clink It pealed across the comfortable, bland, and quiet restaurant, loud and distinct. A summoning bell for the nervous waitress, the sound of ice on glass. She didn't like those eyes, yellow like a wolf's and just as predatory as they followed her shuffled approach. This customer's expression was neutral, framed by the inky curtain that was her hair, giving away neither joy nor displeasure. Something about that gaze made the waitress feel like she was being judged, compared to something lowly and small, like a worm turning through dirt. Her hands did their best to remain steady, but the shaking clipboard they grasped juxtaposed her forced smile. "Yes, ma'am... er, I mean, my lady?" She corrected herself. She'd been instructed to address the small woman with no less of a formality by the 'lady' herself. She had a terrible feeling about what was to come. The poor table waiter had no idea how right she was. "Your best." A pause. Illisandra's eyes went half lidded, looking up at the meek server girl with the slightest hint of disdain in the curve of her lips. "I instructed you to bring me your best drink. I will say it once more, and only once more. Bring me your best drink," her voice, noble, commanding, and saturated with dissatisfaction, was low, almost a whisper. The hand which held the glass of iced rum, soft and adorned with amethyst painted nails, lazily tossed the drink. The sound of shattering glass was sharp, punctuated by a glare just as sharp that bored into the waitress' eyes. "Y-y-y..." the yammering of a dog that knew only how to whimper, and not properly obey. It was offensive to her ears. "Go!" she barked, no longer willing to suffer the noise. The waitress turned and ran, not wanting to be stared at like that anymore. She'd brought their most expensive rum... now what was she to do? Illisandra tapped the table top with a series of clicks, growing impatient. Her food was late, and her drink was unsatisfactory. An urge to kick her footstool, the orc slave she had on hands and knees beneath the table and thankfully out of her sight, gripped her. However, the noblewoman of house Ravenstone resisted the temptation. It would hike her scant black sundress up and give the cretins that worked here a view of something they simply weren't worthy of beholding. The contact she was to meet in this town had better be worth the peasant's treatment she'd endured thus far, or she would make sure to turn the place into an economical ghost town in the coming months... @King
  19. -Lilium-


    It is an expressionless void that blemishes the facets of a genuinely soft face. Cold, hard, and set in emptiness as dark eyes view the crystalline word of advanced constructs and brilliant illumination through glass. The rolling vehicles increasing speed causes them to melt into refractive streams of radiant color against the night, which forces her to avert her eyes. Turbulence is the thunderous force behind her silent constitution, as a plague of memories and old emotions threatens to falter her rigid form. Ages… It had been so long. Time had gone by so fervently, forever burying the footsteps she'd once tread in the kingdom of Shrine City. It was with bitter perturbation that she acquiesced to return as an Ambassador of Umbra, scouting an alliance she has no hand in. For the girl who had once made her appearance here, fell into the shadow of the woman who now encroaches upon it. And to think it originally began with her father, as most stories start with an inheritance of sorts, all on a foundation laid by simple infatuation with her soon to be host’s sibling. Lady Darim, oh how she had once deeply missed the trappings of such a friendship. But days, then months, then years drew onward to cut a jagged rift of time between them. The tides had shifted and left her wanting something she now believes nonexistent, though she had purposefully sheared through those fraying threads. In order to carve out an eventuality that cannot be deterred. Her father’s death smiting any chances of personal connection thereafter. His loss...a powerful turn of page in her story. Nara deigns not to partake in the last leg of her journey. The start having been so much more pleasant than the tension she now feels welling within.Had she been hiding from the world all in order to keep from allowing one presence to quake her newfound path? This she cannot yet answer. An inkling of regret still holds fast to the unsteady thumping beneath her breast. Sudden stops at checkpoints mark their arrival, unsettling the the still form resting in the rear seat. Their admittance leads the vehicle into a slow curving stop and colors her sullen. In the end there is little to do but slide out of the open door and nod in polite gratitude to the one who had permitted her exit. Daunting is the task of refraining the want to turn back. Absolution from hesitation is born through focus made on pulling long fabrics around her frigid stature and fixing a long wooden handle to her hip. Hung now from her shoulders, the cloak hood is pulled over her poised head in order to shroud her face. The exposure of her eyes liable to suck the soul from any daring to catch a detailed glimpse of her turmoil. Every step closer to the massive doorway is a pain that prickles at her chest. As turbid as the freshly winded feeling may be, she continues onward. Carrying herself through the opened threshold. Guidance to the throne room is done succinctly with the announcement of her arrival before it. Those faces nearby, distorted by her inability to allow adaptation of any and all light not gracing the statuesque lines of her host’s face. “The Huntsman of Umbra.” A nickname from an elder tale. Of a man wielding an ax against forces of Darkness in order to save what little there is in the way of Light. A title somewhat unfitting for comparison between her small lithe stature against that of the ruler. A carefully weighed bow of the head and shoulders moves her a fraction forward in step, “Your Highness.” @Alexei
  20. Players: @Aleksei @Alexei @danzilla3 @Garion @Grizzly @Grubbistch @EpicRome23 @Maverick Posting Time: 3/days - absolutely no exceptions.
  21. It was becoming more and more common that she would find her shadow as the only consistent companion in her life. It was purposeful; though it didn't make it any less painful. Humans craved and needed companionship, touch, and love. In this, she was no different from them. It was deplorable, burdensome, and entirely unacceptable. After all these years, she'd hoped to turn it off entirely. While she had come close, she still had urges and moments where those longings haunted her like an unyielding phantom, an emotional poltergeist that tormented her. She was immortal, once called a Queen in rumor and reputation only. Whispers of the Queen of Yokai had since quieted with her frequent disappearances. The longer she lingered here, the more ties she made, the more relationships she built only to tear apart. It was a predetermined cycle that despite others' efforts, remained. As a series came full circle, the demoness would return to the void. In her seclusion, she precariously rebuilt the wall, the defenses she guarded so carefully. Over the last few years, she was absent more often than not. Lately, Akako had made many appearances throughout a few weeks to visit acquaintances despite her reluctance. Favors had been called in, and she found herself involved in foolishness, though, it did help the time pass. She justified returning because her impassive nature was intact and her ironclad walls were in place. There had been a slight misstep, but Akako had swiftly corrected the error and felt confident enough to wander Arcane East after her brief visit to Terrenus. It seemed like no matter where she went, it was unbearably cold. Drifts of snow fell in hypnotic swirls that the daiyokai watched with mild interest. Everything else was quiet. Rarely did she pass any other travelers, likely because of the mage-storms. Though, Akako didn't seem to care either way. Perhaps to onlookers, it was reckless, but the demoness could and would slip beyond the veil to avoid the worst of it if it came down to it. She always seemed to have a contingency plan, or she didn't honestly care. If she were meant to die, then she would and hopefully if she did again, no one would be so foolish to bring her back. Several millennia was enough. Her travels were aimless, passing Umbra, hugging the mountain line as she went. There were no used roads here. However, there were small settlements here and there that she didn't pause to explore. Smoke from fires warming homes drifted up to the heavens and served as an implicit warning that the houses weren't vacant. Her true nature was hidden behind a glamour as it usually was. The curtain of her black hair fell down her back and spilled over her shoulders offering a bit of additional warmth. She was dressed in a traditional winter hikizuri kimono, her hands hidden within the sleeves. The top layer was a crisp white with golden cranes suspended in flight stitched into the fabric in an intricate scene. The layer beneath was a bright red that only showed at the vixen's neckline and each time she stepped. The obiage was a deep violet fabric that a golden obi was layered on top. It was fastened tight around Akako's waist. Even with as many layers as she wore, the demoness was cold, her fingers chilled beneath the fabric of her kimono sleeves. Memories of heat surfaced to her mind, and she craved it despite herself. It was easy to justify. It was a recent memory and pleasant. With a huff of amusement, Akako looked back to the sky again as if to dare it to open up.
  22. Alexei

    Shrine City

    Regent: Neronius, Kaiser of the Cold South Contact: Alexei Current Aid: Shrine City is the strong Capital of the Imperial South, and the place where the seed of the Corvinite Cult was planted. The people here are hardy, strong, and incredibly pragmatic despite their xenophobia, traits that have, in fact, kept them alive after the devastating invasion of the Great North then the trials and tribulations of constant non-human incursions during Corvinus’ rule. Shrine City currently has a population of approximately 1,550,000. GEOGRAPHY Topography Shrine City is built with the great cluster of mountains at its South, and access to rivers to its North. This has allowed the city both access to vast stores of precious metals and minerals, and great fertile valleys during the planting season. These factors have made the city not only self-sufficient but the center of the region. Under Corvinus and now his son, Neronius, this influence has only increased, and this is now true to the greater Imperium. Without Shrine City’s protection of these factors, much of the Cold South would starve. This has made sure the other cities remain compliant. The city itself has natural protection. To its rear, a vast cluster of mountains protect it, for an army would surely die to attempt to cross them. Especially when they would only find themselves before the great white wall of the outer ring. To its front is the fertile river valley. The soil is tilled deep during the spring and summer months, and due to the rain can often become deep mud traps for an advancing army. Forcing them to wade through it before reaching the front of the city. With its wall to intimidate an already exhausted invading force. In the winter it is far more treacherous. The cold is biting and with the lack of trees, as they have been cleared for farmland, the wind can kill an unwary man in a moment. Blizzards can come without warning, and fog can shroud the view. This makes the footing treacherous, and those unwary crossing the frozen rivers can find themselves drowning beneath the ice. While these factors might not destroy an army on their own, they will affect morale. Shrine City soldiers are well versed in surviving these times, often using them to hit the foe with unconventional war tactics. Attacking in the whiteout of a blizzard, striking from the dense fog, and then disappearing just as quickly as they came. It makes the city a nightmare to siege and a jewel to defend. Cityscape Shrine City—seat of the Kaiser—is a swell of curves and high walls and enormous, tapered spires. Most of the buildings are built from white kadium reinforced concrete, color accentuates the city in statues if gold, silver, and onyx, as well as Imperial Banners. The center of Shrine City has been built not only to represent the strong faith of the people, but also their will to survive and succeed. High walls of Kadium reinforced concrete, pure as the snow, surround each ring of the city, extending over 30 feet into the air, and 30 feet beneath the soil. Built into the walls are the barracks for active duty Legionnaires, where their power armor and weapons can be maintained and stored. These walls are not only thick enough to withstand prolonged abuse from conventional siege weapons but also the more metaphysically inclined. The buildings in each ring reach higher the more one draws closer to the center. A testament to mankind's struggle to rise. Ravenscar palace, the First Temple and largest structure in all of Shrine City, is located at the center of this great and holy city. Birthplace of the Corvinite Faith, it is one of the holiest and most sacred of locations to the faith, and likewise the only temple to Corvinus’ name in all of Shrine City. Ravenscar dominates the entirety of the centermost district, with all other structures of the area either built into it or under its imposing arches. In spite of its archaic appearance, beautiful though it may be, Shrine City is the result of ingenious human engineering. That the majority homes support features such as central heat and insulation and indoor plumbing, is credited to the work of the city’s people and its unique non-magic technology. However, this is not to say that the latter has not accentuated the residents’ manner of living, assisting in things such as transportation, communication, and entertainment. Climate Situated between the rivers and valleys and valleys to its northeast and west and the Dragonfall Mountains to its south, Shrine City has been known to experience a variety of climates. Only one word can describe the nature of the Cold South. Unforgiving. Winters are harsh and deadly to the unprepared, fraught with the danger of deathly cold, hunting beasts shrouded in fog or hidden in snowstorms, and recently non-humans. Springs are rainy, and chilled, summers less so but one will never find the warmth expected farther north. Fall us bitter cold and short-lived, a quick death heralding winter’s deathly grip. Magestorms are not incredibly common but can be quite powerful. Recently Shrine City has survived many magestorms, this is attributed to the construction of the Corvinite Obelisk. The city is now shrouded in the God Emperor's influence, a testament to his people that they are always under his protection. Flora and Fauna As a city of Genesaris, common flora and fauna can be found in abundance around the city and its territories. These listed below are merely a few that are exclusive to Shrine City and its immediate demesne. Ravenwing (Flower): A small, black flower with wing-shaped petals. They grow abundantly throughout the city, and a rumored to be a gift from the Empress Leoa to her Emperor Corvinus in the early years of their rule. They are known to break away from their stems and fly in the breeze during the spring. Wintersbreath Roses (Flower): These strange, unique flowers can be found growing along the city’s outermost wall. Their name is derived from their ice-like petals, which appear to shimmer like freshly fallen snow in full bloom. Frost Sprites (Elemental): Otherwise known as “frost spirits,” these small, floating elementals have the appearance of a swirling snowstorm. These particular sprites tend to gather in valleys along the Cold South, subject to frequent blizzards, feeding off the latent energies. Frost sprites are rather vicious creatures, drawn to the biological warmth of living creatures, and have been known to attack large groups traveling to and from Shrine City. Southern Trout (Fish): Colloquially known as the “Crystal Trout,” these deceptively crystalline fish inhabit the rivers of Shrine City. Known for their hearty size and crystalline scales, the southern trout is known to reach weights over eighty pounds (when fully matured). These fish are greatly sought after for their flavor and above all their scales. White Wolves (Animal): These pale, heavily-muscled, wolves are found exclusively in the Cold South. Used in the Ritual of Struggle, it is said that Shriners send out those on the cusp of manhood to hunt these great beasts with the more archaic rifles of the past. Only upon successfully killing one or surviving the three week period in the wild are the boys then considered men upon their arrival. Those who return with the body of a wolf are hailed as heroes, and feast upon its flesh. These wolves are known for their large size, great strength, and intelligence. They are a deadly opponent for any human or non-human, even more so in the winter months. DEMOGRAPHICS Culture Shrine City is a bastion for those of mankind who seek unity, spiritual evolution, and enlightenment. This evolution, or enlightenment, generally takes shape in conforming to the faith of the Corvinite (the only religion legally practiced within the borders of Shrine City). Humans are the only inhabitants of this city, having been the majority and since the so-called “Xenophobic” decree, make up one of the only recognized species allowed to be in the city (Elves and Dwarves are allowed but segregated). What numbers had been lost due to the decree were replaced, and even increased by the influx of Renovatian and Alterian immigrants. Alternatively, life in Shrine City is not one of placid utopian dreams. As it is written among the Corvinite’s holy tomes, “only the strong survive the winter cold”; the citizenry of Shrine City stand firmly on the principle that the strong are forged upon the crucible of struggle and the weak broken. They believe that true strength can never be given, but instead, it must be taken -- earned through blood and sweat, yours of your enemy's. It has created a people who, while they consider each other an extended family, have no tolerance for those who do not pull their own weight and burden others. A harsh people, but a people who can survive. And since they pride themselves as the moral vanguard of the Imperium, the people of Shrine City adopt seemingly totalitarian measures to ensure their moral code remains untarnished. Crime of any form is harshly punished; there are no misdemeanors within the city. This seeming cruelty is countered by a thorough justice system, one that incorporates fair and just consideration of all the circumstances involved. Economy Shrine City as with the rest of the Imperial South, is not known for trading with the neighboring regions. Largely independent its wealth is gained through the tribute of the various cities that make up the Empire. This is done in in exchange for food, materials, and the continued aid of the empire. Since Nero’s taking of the throne, there has been a shift of a more active economy within the Cold South and the greater Imperium. Much to Union City’s chagrin, the Cold South maintains an isolationist economic policy. Major Companies and Institutions Corvus, Academy of War: Second only to Ravenspire in Kadia, this is where much of the education of the Southern Empire’s citizens take place. Raising up the youth in a strict scholastic and martial regimen. It is famed for its high achievement, even outside the Imperium, and stands as a testament that the Southerners are not some primitive minded society. Veche, Soulseeker Academy: A branch of the Eichmann academy, the youth showing potential enough are taught and trained to be the greatest warriors of the Imperium. Soulseekers. Focusing more on theology and war, it produces some of the most stalwart and unshakable Soulseekers to serve the God Emperor’s will. Eichmann Industries (Branch): The main supplier of weapons, transportation, and infrastructure in the Cold South and the greater Imperium. Created and overseen by Deiter, the Crown Prince, this company provides the non-magical technology which brings power, purifies water, and defends the vast cities, Shrine City is no exception. PARKS AND RECREATION Landmarks and Monuments Crucible Arena: A large, arena located in the first. Fully equipped, with reinforced rooms and a slew of both real and practice weaponry, it is a place where individuals can come to practice their martial skills. The Lion’s Square Garden: The largest inner-city greenhouse garden in all of Shrine City, this beautiful stretch of vibrant emerald grass is teeming with enormous clusters of flowers: roses, lilies, lilacs, lotus, and everything in between. The park also houses a large playground. Ravenscar: The palatial fortress of the Kaiser, Ravenscar derives its name as the birthplace of the Imperial Faith. The palace has since then become a place of great pilgrimage for all the religiously devout, as a Corvinite’s greatest honor is to behold the origin of their faith and mighty deity. Ravenscar is the largest structure in all of Shrine City, a mountain of walls and spires and towers of white reaching deep into the sky above, and bathing the city below in its shadow. GOVERNMENT · · Primacy The Imperial South is overseen by the Kaiser or KaiserinEmperor or Empress, who hold absolute authority over the matters of state. Though this position is inherited amongst the bloodline of the founding family, is is very much a position still earned. While this position has the final say, they must still gather a council of all city state representatives to change laws. The Kurfürst or KurfürstinPrince or Princess-Elector is a position second only to the Emperor and Empress, similar to that of a Regent in other countries and empires. Their duty is to oversee the Empire should the Emperor be away from administrative duties. The power of their office is limited only to enforcing the laws and seeing that the administrative machine of the Empire continues to run smoothly. Markgräf or MarkgräfinMargrave or Margravine are the heads of each City StateProvince of the Imperial South, Shrine City is exempt as the seat of the Kaiser. They are granted a degree of sovereignty to rule over their people as they deem fit, so long as they pay tithes to the Empire. Should they not pay their tithes, are suspected of heresy, or rule in a manner harmful to the people, they will answer to the Emperor. They form members of the Imperial Senate during the removal, drafting, or implementation of laws. Landgraf or Landgräfin are below the Markgräf and the Markgräfin. They rule over certain areas within a City State, which are usually smaller cities or large towns. Their degree of autonomy is controlled by their superiors. · ·National Security While the ReichsheerArmy of the Holy Southern Empire is an omnipresent force within the Empire, acting as both a police force and military; it is the UntersuchungInquisition that oversees matters of National Security alongside the Kaiser and Kurfürst of the Imperial South. When decisions need to be made or discussed they will convene a SitzungCourt or Gathering to find solutions for problems known or unknown. The Reichsheer ultimately answer to the various Gräfs of the cities in which they are stationed, the Kaiser’s authority is ultimately absolute. The ReichsritterImperial Knights faction is a group of Knights made up entirely of Soulseekers, warriors who have resonated deeply with the Authority, the essence of the God and the culmination of Mankind’s will. The order answered directly to the Untersuchung and the Kaiser. Their main objective is the protection of the Emperor, by choosing an Inquisitor and a Soulseeker from their number. Their orders’ secondary function is the rooting out of heresy and the purging of heretics, heathens, and Dämonen. Flag: Military Extended Information The Fist of the Emperor (Imperial Legion): The military forces of Shrine, known as the Fist of the Emperor, or the Fist, make up one of the smallest percentages of the Imperial Legion (the combined forces of all the Corvinite Imperium and its domains). The Fist is responsible for handling all matters of Shrine City, namely defending the Temple Square and its surrounding areas should they ever fall under attack. Because of this, their various divisions -- such as the Southern Wolves, or TEMPLAR Knights of the Raven -- are often considered the Legion's elite forces. They are stationed in every ring of the city, their barracks built into the massive walls, and by the great gates. During times of invasion, they become a gauntlet to fight through. Highly knowledgeable of the city and Urban warfare they are a force to be reckoned with. Every citizen is a member of the military, having access to a polybolos rifle, and a suit of power armor only their biometrics can access, making up both active and reserve forces. — 1,550,000 Imperial Military Forces (Legionnaires, TEMPLAR, Inquisitors), total. EDUCATION Under the God Emperor’s rule, education throughout all of Shrine City – and to a greater extent, the Imperium itself – has flourished to an all-time high. Shrine City hosts two of the most prestigious postgraduate institutions in all Genesaris: Corvus, Academy of War, and Veche, Soulseeker Academy. TRANSPORTATION Boat: Great waterways wind their way through the city, crafted by channeling the hidden mountain streams to provide a source of clean water to the people, and advanced technology maintains it. Specialized boats carry many citizens and tourists throughout the city. Automobile: Paved roads, highways, and bridges provide quick routes through the city. Vehicles of steels and fusion batteries drive seamlessly through the city and are usually the general means of travel for the citizenry. A system of different colored lights and signs help to keep traffic smooth. Walk: Sidewalks, walkways, and small bridges are also built to accommodate those who prefer to travel on foot. Signs and lights help protect and direct pedestrians. NOTABLE RESIDENTS Neronius C. Melisende: Kaiser of the Cold South, and one of the many sons of God Emperor Corvinus and God Empress Leoa. He is a man of great passion, unwavering fortitude, and intellect. It is said he is akin to a war god, and perhaps even the greatest representation of the Cold South and its people. HISTORY A list is currently being compiled, all threads, however, are to be considered cannon(Especially done by Aleksei or myself) unless otherwise stated.
  23. It had been a while since the teenager had settled in. Her sights were not only set on conquest of the remains of Palgard, but on other things far greater. On her spare time the engineer turned over rumors, manuscripts and other information from various sources. It was mostly technical information and reports on prospective enemy forces and the success or failure of a given operation, but other mysterious goodies were peppered throughout. Most of this allegedly extraneous information was simply passed over, but there was one item that gave a chill to her nerves. There was a log of a ship that came into the industry controlled port, but a physical description of the individual who allegedly departed the craft was missing. Taking up a techno-magical tablet she browsed through the surveillance footage to the given log time. No person was seen departing the ship for the entirety of its visit. Was there an intrusion into the surveillance network or what other trickery could potentially be at play? Sanu knew a few things about sailing craft and potential mysteries they could bring, but so unfortunately he was on an extended vacation. This anomaly would need to be investigated, but another just as important event would occur first. What could that possibly be? A lunch meeting of course! The Direktor had eyes and ears all over the city. The surveillance which not limited to the industrial district found an individual of interest. A particular blue haired mercenary whom she'd briefly met before. Curiosity bade discovering what the individual was up to. Caerula would receive an invitation to meet with the General'ny Direktor in a private upper floor of the Zephyrus tower. Should Cae accept and approach the tower at the appointed time she would be met with an armored and armed escort consisting of firearm equipped soldiers. Soon taken off the path of the regularly traveled lower levels a lift would take her up and up and up. Once they departed the lift the lead soldier would direct Cae to a door which slid open upon approach. Hana could be seen sitting at a table with two settings of food and an empty chair across from her. "Welcome back. Things have changed a bit since we last met."
  24. Silence. Like the neverending sound ripped away from a voice that needed to speak. Silence that came made the fear all the more powerful as it came to be. It was here, standing in the rain did the first seed stand. Looking over the plans he had written in an old scratched up notebook. If he was to succeed in gaining Athentha to his own goals he needed to do something drastic. It seemed that he had called the seeds here. The dying organization he was trying to build would be destroyed in time. But as he looked over at Vanilla, he had an idea. People knew the legend of the beast and the organization of the blood red moon children. It was here that he formed a plan. He would need to sacrifice the second seed and combine her with the princess. Without another word, he looked at Vanilla again. He had kept her safe during all this time, and she was the only one he could stand. But his feelings for the half breed seemed to now run his brain, trying to self destruct everything he worked for. Taking a step as the rain continued to get heavier he would come here, to the princess's home city and lure her here. The first seed sat down on the bench now as he placed the notebook into his bag. Vanilla taking her seat beside him. It wasn't a secret she held a torch for the first seed. But she would never be able to be with him. Not the way the second seed wanted it. The two remained in silence. Garnet's eerie golden yellow eyes traced every figure that walked by. No elves, just demons. He smiled to himself, if he could harness the half breed then the land could become his, and he could make it good. Create something different from what Rin wanted to do at least. The elders are onto us aren't they? They have acquired knights and soldiers to keep tabs on us. Garnet, why are we the enemy? What did we do to deserve such hatred? We exist Vanilla. That is all. They think we are helping the monster to acquire her land back. And we are somewhat. Let them gather whoever they want. If my plan succeeds, it will be futile. You shouldn't worry yourself to death about these things. You should think of the future. Of course Vanilla didn't know she wouldn't see the future as she was now. That Garnet planned to fuse her with the half breed. He didn't care about the elders. They could do what they wanted and everything would work out in the end. Yet, in the end things wouldn't be the same. Athentha was on the brink of being destroyed. The war would come, but he would have a weapon at least. But he was wrong. Garnet was not prepared for what happened, he would never be. And so they sat there in the rain watching the people come and go. The inn wasn't open yet so they couldn't get a room to take a nap in. It would be open in an hour before the mid-afternoon sun would appear in the sky.
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