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  1. The city was burning. It had happened so fast that they were still struggling to learn all the details. The one detail that everybody could agree on was that it had all started with shards of glass, pieces of a mirror it seemed, had fallen from the sky. Soon after, everything had descended into chaos. People who had touched the shards had become psychotically violent; visiting death, torture, and worse, upon anyone they encountered. Though the Enforcers had tried to keep order, but even they were soon compromised by the spreading madness. Eventually they had fallen back to form a perimeter around the Arcadia district, thoroughly screening everyone coming out. But there were still people trapped within the quarantine zone; the elderly, the sick, and the injured. Prince Grant Knight wasn't willing to simply let them die, and had asked for volunteers from both the Enforcers and anyone else willing to go. He had managed to gather a group of about a hundred who weren't needed elsewhere, plus a few others. Now, as they stood in front of a hastily erected checkpoint, he turned to address them. "I want to once again stress that this is a strictly voluntary mission, so now is your chance to walk away, no shame, no guilt." When nobody left, he continued, "Our objective is to get to Arcadia General Hospital. As of one hour ago, we know that there were a number of civilians and Enforcers holed up there. We're gonna get them out; them and anyone else we come across." "We know that the plague was spread by shards of some kind of mirror. I probably don't have to say this, but DO NOT touch any shards you may find. Also, when you come across a civilian, check their eyes. The eyes of those affected by the shards take on a reflective quality. Do not allow anyone to get to the barricade without checking their eyes. Any questions?" Iblis looked out upon the Arcadia district from the rooftop of a palace of a home that had probably once belonged to some rich diplomat or some other such thing. Not that he particularly cared. He was here to do one thing; gain power, and this arrangement was perfect for that. Whenever one of the plague victims died, he would receive a portion of their power. Just from those that had fallen already, he had accrued quite a bit; and was sure to be significantly more powerful by the time this ended. But he was also interested in helping his partner Claudette achieve her goals. As the sun set, and the myriad fires that had been set across the district began to cast eerie shadows over the streets. "Not a bad start, eh?" @Rin @Thotification @THE_BULL @Deus Ex Aizen
  2. The Under-City of Nesthome Skarr Territory, Forgotten Woods Hammers and pickaxes rang out in unison, forging an impromptu tempo. The walls of Nesthome had grown taller in the last few months, to the point where now the constant ringing had depth to it. The acoustic ringing bounced off the high walls and carried throughout the tunnels, deep into the Skaven barracks and the mess hall and into out into the open air above ground. Under the fair blue skies of the clearing the Skaven made, the tempo perpetuated, with the ringing of hammers and picks being replaced with the steady striking of axes and saws against trees, accompanied by the steady crackle of controlled burns. King-King looked on from his place close to the tunnel's entrance, observing his efforts with silent approval. Four months ago, this clearing had barely existed. The Skarr had lived exclusively below ground. Only a few trees had been cleared down, then, as their numbers hadn't been greater than a couple hundred. Those numbers, and that progress, compared to the modern equivalent, were a testament to the Skarr Clan's strength, the strength of King-King's vision. Close by, a small gaggle of foremen gathered around a table. On top of it, scrawled in charcoal, was a rough approximation of the forgotten woods, namely the part of the forest Nesthome was closest to. The map was incredibly basic--it barely took note of the treeline, the size of the clearing they'd made, or even how dense the foliage was, and yet it provided a wealth of information. They were pushing deeper into the woods, now, and that meant they were drawing close to home of the forest's denizens. More blood would be spilled in the coming months, but it would all be worth it. King-King listened in on the foremen intently, then gave a few sharp orders before turning back towards Nesthome's entrance. Once the fae had been forced out of the woods, there would be no stopping them. They could clear the forest en masse, and Nesthome would span the full length of the forest's perimeter below the surface. They'd flourish once again, the Skarr clan would number in the millions, and King-King would deliver the city he'd promised his people. It wasn't far off, now. Lars exhaled loudly as he shrugged his bag down onto the ground. The nearly empty rucksack collapsed in on itself as he did so, but it took enough off his back to set down the crates he was carrying. With a grunt, he bent at the knees and finally lowered the boxes into the bed of his carriage. For the second time since he'd picked up this particular stack of boxes, he silently wished he'd paid somebody else to do the heavy lifting for him. He cast a wayward glance towards his hired guard, shooting a look his way. The stern-looking man didn't move an inch. Lars sighed, and glanced back the way he came. Only two more stacks of crates to go... Lars and Vance were both surrounded by the busy, shuffling masses of trader folk milling about in Hyperion's Market. The city itself was easy to get lost in, with its magnificent sprawling architecture, the city's rich history etched into the buildings and walls around them, but Lars had always been most at home in the Markets there. He'd been raised in a market booth for the most part, after all, and fed and clothed in similar conditions. He'd even bought his first kiss in Hyperion! Granted, his father was always there for the majority of those endeavors, which made this particular trip quite different. Lars stopped moving and admired his cart for a moment, pleased with the sudden realization. He was doing this on his own! Today marked the day that Lars struck out on his own. He'd hired his own help, bought his own supplies, and had planned out a route of his own. Fortune awaited him somewhere along the road, and, if the road ahead was willing, he'd make history here as well. Some time ago, Lars had heard a story in a tavern on the outskirts of some backwater town that talked of strange things brewing in the Forgotten Woods. The Woods were never really a concern to him, or anybody else for that matter, though there was the odd merchant that attempted to find a road through the forest. This talk described strange men moving in the woods at night. Intrigued, Lars had spent a small allowance on pursuing these rumors, paying off a few outgoing adventurers to investigate if they passed close by. On more than one occasion, they returned with beguiling tales of....ratmen. Their stories were a little jumbled each time, certainly, but the repeated information seemed to suggest that a band of ratmen had made their home within the woods, which was, as of until recently, completely unheard of. The woods were dangerous and deep, laden with beasts and fae that supposedly liked to prey upon wayward travelers. Moreover, the woods were supposedly enchanted, and getting lost in those trees could cause you to lose your sense of self, and your sanity if you were unlucky. However, if the ratmen were living in the woods, perhaps they'd figured something out. If Lars could figure it out, too, he might be able to establish some kind of road through the woods! He'd made a killing off of the trade route! However, they couldn't go just yet. Lars knew for a fact the roads weren't exactly safe these days, and though he had Vance, he doubted they'd get anywhere unscathed if it were only the two of them. He strode over to the next pile of crates and picked them up, straining as he did so. He scanned the passing faces again, hopeful that their hired help would be there soon. Maybe he could convince them to finish loading the wagon. @Bkfootball
  3. Charred bone crunched and crumbled beneath her feet. Smoke would rise for days ensuing the blaze that ripped through the city. Though Raveena tried to quell the disappointment in her son for this happening under his watch, she was not prepared to see the true destruction that took out the city. Dawn had not yet come. They were shrouded in the darkness just before. The airfield and it's tower was destroyed--they came in undetected. The familiar cadence of Enforcers and Aralim filled the air around her as they stepped off the Laureline. Sabine--now Imperatrix of the Aralim Knights issued their commands. Sweep around the perimeter--work their way inward. Pale blinks of light twinkled around their heads--Unseelie Fae who would assist in the recovery of what was left and neutralize threats that came up. More unsavory creatures from Aeldra's rift outside of Hyperion were waiting to move in. Raveena herself dressed in full Enforcer regalia, though her emblem was specialized--a black phoenix on a yellow field. She had cut her hair short for this excursion--and expected something nasty awaited them. Flanking her right, Vera inhaled sharply, "Mercy, Ilickai..." She spoke the name of the Matreyan God of War, and Raveena sighed softly--the first open show of her disappointment. It was difficult. She knew this was an intentional move. "You shouldn't be here, Your Majesty." Johari, of course, waited until they had touched down to voice his reproach. The others dared not breathe it. "I'm a Queen, not an invalid," Was her reply as she eyed their surroundings with a small measure of sadness, "I haven't lost my edge, Captain Ponsky, just my time to spend in the field. Rowan's training hasn't been for nothing." "Desk Jobs are no fun, believe me." Senior Lieutenant Vera Dafina spoke up. "Still, I agree--you shouldn't be here." Like Raveena--and all other Senior Lieutenants, their specialty lay in paperwork, but were required to keep their blades of their field services sharp. Raveena was excused, she simply fought her council to be here. This was her home, and someone had taken Rowan knowing she would follow. Losing Hyperion was not a heavy blow--there were twelve others, but it was her first--the one she was proudest of. It was a blow to her ego more than the Empire itself. "I'm keeping my oath." Was her only reply on the subject. Raveena knelt to the ground and pressed a palm flat. She almost immediately felt as though she were sinking into quicksand as she slipped into the earth to understand the lay of it. "The water is infected." She murmured. She could feel them. The strange, alien like creatures that snatched the bodies. She had attended countless meetings about them--and never had a chance to bring up the pending crisis to the A.N.T. Yh'mi was a whole other set of issues that she regretted being pulled away from. "The foundation is stable, but not for long if anything worse happens." Sabine's good hand raised to her earcom before glancing at Raveena. "We have movement up ahead." @danzilla3
  4. The time had come. In the few months since he had begun his school anew, Yuyi Ren had taken an educational yet relaxed approach to his students training; mainly focusing on developing their Qi with some physical training added on. Recently he had begun to teach them some of the basics of the styles they had chosen; but he had still been fairly easygoing in his teaching methods. To their credit, his pupils had shown a good deal of development; all of them eager to learn, and each with their own reasons for desiring strength. Ren himself had felt more at peace then he had in a long while; slowly remembering the assorted pleasures and headaches that came with being a teacher. If things had kept on as they were, he might have been content to let his students continue at their slow but steady pace indefinitely. But all of that had changed at the recent festival in Hyperion; where the city had been attacked by a powerful demon that had only been fended of by the sacrifice of a god. Ren had debated getting involved more than he had, but in the end had decided that his responsibility for his students safety outweighed everything else. After the dust had settled, and he and his students were safely back at their aging compound in the mountains outside the city; the Shangdi had been troubled. The world seemed to be becoming an increasingly dangerous place these days; and he wasn't sure that his students were improving fast enough to meet it. If he had not been at the festival, might something have happened to them? It was a thought that disturbed him greatly. So last night he had made up his mind to begin their training in earnest; the way he had trained his sons so many years ago. Last night at dinner, he had told his students to meet him in the courtyard at dawn; and that he had something very important to tell them. He had asked Jin to pass word on to Rou, but given her aversion to group training he wasn't sure if she would be attending. Either way, he was pleased to see those who came and greeted them with a fatherly smile before his expression turned serious. "Thank you all for coming. I know it is earlier than we normally begin, but this is important." Ren looked at them for a moment before continuing, "I want all of you to come at me at once." @Twitterpated @Grim Wolf @Laughingmad @Narcissa
  5. Hyperion: The High Kingdom Queen: Raveena Jhanavi Senaria Contact: Deus Ex Aizen "Our sun sets to rise again." Geography Topography: Hyperion has been built against and on top of Thesdan Ridge. Thesdan Ridge is a mountain range that is as follows: Elevation 14,300 ft (4,359 m) Prominence 5, 812 ft (1,771 m) Population 252,529; 75,759 Enlisted The sun-dappled forests of Hyperion are a four-season wonderland. Rich blooms of springtime wildflowers come in all colors and sizes, while brilliant Emeri flowers light up the high-elevation meadows in summer. Autumn brings its own fiery rewards with quilted hues of orange, burgundy and saffron blanketing the mountain slopes. In winter, snow-covered fields and ice-fringed cascades transform Hyperion into a serene, cold-weather retreat. Hyperion commands an elevation high enough to see the Great Pine Barrens as a mesmerizing backdrop, harboring more biodiversity than any other forests in the Terran East. 4 miles west is a trail that leads to the tranquil Ponkapoag River. The Thesdan Ridge offers breathtaking views of the South Sea, with Predator's Keep to the West. On a clear day, it's possible to see Dead Peaks, the highest peak in Terrenus. Cityscape: Hyperion sprawls 10 miles in nearly every direction from its high rise plateau. A meshing of Matreyan and Terran culture pepper Hyperion, which is officially known as ‘the High Kingdom’ supposedly because it sits on a visible ridge. Arcadia hosts all the splendor of the regency and nobility. The newly built Corinthia district proudly hosts the new-found reputation for civic and militaristic domains, while Kastoria is sprinkled with several fine institutes of learning and cultural understanding. Messenia holds its reputation for being a powerhouse in research and development, while the famous Laconia district hosts a colorful array of businesses and merchant guilds. Beyond the walls of the city lay the four quaint villages that are quietly budding to life: Athadas, Vinosea, Imradel, and Brehill. Climate: Hyperion climate features warm summers and cool winters with a narrow annual temperature range. There is no dry season in this section, precipitation ranging from moderate to heavy, and the forests are temperate, especially in the Great Pine Barrens. Flora and Fauna Hyperion is a magical place to reconnect with nature. Days here are spent hiking past shimmering waterfalls and traversing well-worn paths alongside boulder-filled mountain streams, followed by evenings dining in the Atrium of Lights as stars glimmer overhead. The city’s abundant plant and animal species create memorable opportunities for wildlife-watching, whether seeing Braix grazing in the early morning light, watching the eerily glowing Chelae skitter down the mountains in the dead of night, hunting wild Calcatrix or perhaps admiring the Imperial Gardens and swooning over the scarlet brilliance of the Red Maple trees, or the various species of the Imperial Lotus bred by Raveena herself. Demographics Culture: A marriage of the remnants of Matreyan culture and the Terrenus way of life was at first met with resistance. The Matreyan culture, once regaled for its connection to the elements, the patient understanding of the value of life was marred by decades of slavery and genocide, leaving much of its culture undefined and in ruins. Many of the holidays, minor religions and customs are predominantly Matreyan, with major Terran influences. Many of these religions, customs and superstitions are celebrated and taught based on varying beliefs and influences, chiefly Gaianism. Economy: Despite being new, the Hyperion economy has reached stability. This is primarily due to its system of self-sustainability as well as carefully handled imports and exports. By welcoming in and rehabilitating liberated slaves, Raven has formed a system that allows immigrants to gain their citizenship by learning a trade that the city can benefit from. By focusing on supporting local economy, the city has thrived on business while maintaining amicable relationships with neighboring towns and cities and abroad. Several forms of currency can be found, brought over from the city’s original denizens of Sigil City and Matreya. For more information on the Hyperion Economy, see Chapter III of Kingdom, Rising: Concerning the Economy Parks and Recreation Landmarks and monuments Major Companies and Institutions: Arcadia – Citadel Corinthia – Civic District Kastoria – Academic District Messenia – Warehouse District Laconia – Trade District Government The Enforcers - Exclusive to Raveena. Many of the original Enforcers from Sigil City followed her to Valucre when she was promoted to their General and later Commander. Enforcers are volunteering Civilians who wished to have basic military training and law enforcement training to keep the streets safe. The Aralim - The Imperial Military, encompassing the Alethea Air Force and the Genesarian Naval Fleet as well as the Queensguard. This superior force serves as the military strength of the Hyperian Empire. The Web – A wetworks asset spearheaded by the King Consort himself, Rowan—better known as Agent Spider—has retained the best agents in the field to work under him in the shadows. A retinue of talent of the highest caliber, these refined individuals mix style, class and lethality with efficiency. Education Education is free, though taxation is higher to sustain this balance. Those who focus on their trade or work over their education come off as having more of an empirical mindset about the city’s workings. Hyperion boasts the budding vocational institute, the Hyperion Academy. Intent to rehabilitate and have her people thrive, Raveena herself invested in their education, focusing on the written and spoken language, creating a renaissance for the next generation and giving birth to the visual arts that dominate the city to this day. Transportation Roads and Highways: Hyperion sits several miles from major highways, but has constructed several local roads that cascade down the mountain and spread into the Great Pine Barrens, that follow the river to Ponkapoag Lake and lead to the east coast by skirting around the Forgotten Woods. The nearest major highway leads one to Ashville, with Last Chance to the south and Palgard to the far west. Rails/Subways: None Riverways: River Sine is the nearest river, eventually leading to Ponkapoag Lake and Timber Creek. Cab: Transportation in Hyperion is chaotic and varied. The most common method is by foot, the rik'shaa, as well as steam and spellcycles. Private: Personal mounts such as Thestrals, Horses, Dire Beasts, and Wyverns are scattered among the population. Upperclass citizens that can afford one have motorized bikes and/or vehicles. On the rarest occasion, outside of the Noble Houses, a personal airship is used as a method of transportation.
  6. Never send a pathetic seed to do a job. They'll only mess it up. said Claudette Virga Von Ja'Guthra Talia as she looked at the road. The sign post saying the city of Hyperion 10mi with it pointing right. The elf was cloaked in a black hooded cloak, a design of the black heart mirror cross on the back entwined with a black heart mirror piece. The symbol of the Black Heart Mirror Organization. Idiotic Platinum, does he not realise that combining both seed and mirror piece will spread a beautiful plague? One the likes of humes have never seen? Tis remarkably beautiful. Claudette chuckled to herself as her barefeet crushed the ground beneath her. The soft dirt felt nice and the elven princess could hide such a pretty face under that hood. Upon her back, was a sack full of mirror pieces and seeds. And as she reached the outskirts of Hyperion, the girl licked her lips. It was time to harvest the city into a plague to spread upon these lands, enslaving their hearts and minds to a new found cult. Come to me, if you dare. I have some nice wares to see even the mightiest of Kings. whispered Claudette to the entire city as she entered it then. O' how it would begin. The sowing of seeds as the humes would say.
  7. For weeks, Grant Knight had been holed up in his mother's- no, for the time being, his- office, trying to get the Hyperion government back on track. So many things had to be stopped, rearranged, or postponed; and he had to be read in on things that only his mother had previously known. He barely slept, and ate at his desk, not having the time to take a proper lunch break. Meetings with senior officials and others were often done back to back, with his personal best being twenty sit downs in one day. By the time a new month rolled around, he felt like he was running on fumes, but it had worked. Things we're mostly back on track, and he could begin preparations to officially take over as acting King. After taking a few days to recover, Grant had showered, shaved, and eaten a large breakfast before attending to some business that circumstances had necessitated be put off. The man named Bishop was a friend of his mother's, the brother of the husband she'd had before marrying his father. He knew virtually nothing about him, but he supposed that if his mother considered him a friend, then he should as well. So when the man had asked for a meeting, he had told him that he would work him in as soon as possible. Today was the first man it had been possible. He walked into his office with a nod to his secretary, and greeted Bishop, who would already be inside. "Hello Mr. Bishop," he began, "I apologize for delaying this meeting for so long. How can I be of assistance to you." @Twitterpated
  8. She inhaled the night air, the breeze flowing into the room that set her robe fluttering. Even her hair, a tangle of long, wild curls settled around her like an unkempt blanket. Her skin seemed to glow the moment she touched the outside world beyond the walls, the same ethereal silvery-white of the moon cast overhead. It was the thing that made her Matreyan, despite worshiping the Sun over the Moon. Even at night, the soft glow of the symbol at the center of her forehead— the ever-present sign of Cancer —stood out. It was quiet, and there was something private and comforting about the silence. She stepped out to the intricate wrought railing and leaned against it for a moment, peering over the ledge. If Rowan had been there, he was surely gone again. How, would remain a mystery. She was surprised by her own disappointment. She knew he preferred to be both unseen and unheard, but she hoped some part of him forgave her. A hand came to rest of the slight of her pregnant belly. Month by month it was growing more and more noticeable. The declaration of the news had not been made to the people—though many knew and still, security had doubled. Raveena tucked her chin into her arm and exhaled a slow and tired sigh. Beyond the veil of long lashes, she saw the movement, and glanced up curiously. She didn't want to make the announcement without the father of the child present to know. Snow drifted down silently, calmly. It was a serene thing to bear witness to, the way the silence of winter blanketed the mountain side. They were not so high up that snow was a constant, but now—in the dead of winter, it snowed in Hyperion for the first time—and Raveena was in awe of it. Winter had arrived in the mountains, harsh and unforgiving in its treatment of the Hyperion people. Though most of them were ready, it had not been without hardship. It was a solemn time of year for the Matreyan people, and for Hyperion as a whole. This single moment of beauty and serenity… It was nice to decompress. It was nice to get away from the stress of what all had happened in her life. Rowan was still missing, and she still grieved over the emptiness that came with it. Her workload increased, the military activity increased, and her son’s business in the south had taken him further from her. There was a strange emptiness in Hyperion without her family. Despite the memories that had returned to her, nothing had changed about the present. She pulled away from the railing and turned, the flakes of snow that drifted into her curls melted. She gently closed the doors behind her, letting the warmth of their room comfort her. Jesta’ lay sprawled across the bed—on Rowan’s side, of course. Though the Daemon watched her with knowing eyes, she said nothing, and Raveena quietly left her there. She paced through the suite that made their living quarters, wanting to curl up by the fire and read. It was another lonely evening. Another night to be left to her thoughts, or to drown herself in the imagination of her reading. She was certain that if she caught her reflection, she’d be appalled. There was something exhausting about harboring another human being in your body—an Immortal, at that. The tips of her fingers danced along the walls lined with books—for that was one thing both her and Rowan agreed upon, was an endless and easy access to books in their home. She pulled one randomly as she walked and tucked it against her side. Though her eyes were on the floor, the flickering of light drew her attention to shadows cast—and she knew the servants who had prepared the room should have long been dismissed for the evening. Raveena reached out with the newfound senses that Rowan’s blood afforded her. Smells were like layers that she could peel back—and so she had. The old, musty scent of books. A newly renovated wall and the nearly dried paint. The smell of burning wood and cinnamon. The smell of him. Raveena dropped her book unexpectedly—and then startled herself in her confusion. She grunted as she leaned to pick the book up—which had landed on her bare toes. Sweeping a hand to tuck strands behind her ear and hugged the book close to her chest and briskly closed the distance between the hall and the den where she wanted to read in peace. Without even thinking, she transferred the book to her left hand and gripped the archway with her right, leaning into it—almost breathless. It was strange and beautiful the way the light of the flames flickered and danced along his skin. Her stomach sank—because first she was confused—then she was scared—and then she felt a spike of anger at being scared. Then there was an insurmountable amount of unyielding happiness. Her mouth opened—and then it closed. She tried again, but she struggled and sputtered in her anger. Of course, he’d be poised and calm—as if he had been there all along—and maybe he had been in some way. Rowan was good at hiding. Rowan was good at not wanting to be found. He was not, however, good at handling her tears—and they began to well up in her eyes. She was trembling—the way she had when she spoke to her father and delivered the news. When she had come home from meeting after meeting—the same meetings and pressing matters that she used to distract herself from the strange feeling of not knowing what to do between Rowan and Andrew. She was exhausted. She thought her legs would give out beneath her if she shook any more than she was. “You’re home…” She choked the words out—the tears spilling, her voice cracking in a strange mixture of happiness and sorrow. @The Hound
  9. Guardsmen and citizens alike were alarmed when they saw the massive shadow bursting through Hyperion’s streets in the middle of the night. It travelled quickly, leaving their line of sight as quickly as it had appeared. The shadow had an intent, to get into the Queen’s quarters, or so currently, the Prince Regent’s. Stumbling past a pair of enforcers, the shadow spilled out into the hallway, deposit a lone figure on the carpet. The enforcers rushed in, weapons drawn. As the shadow sank back into the ground, color and complexion returned to the woman who sat in its place. “Lady Reyna!” the enforcers hastily sheathed their weapons, rushing forward to help her up. “I’m fine!” she snapped, brushing them away harshly, her fingers trembling as the shadows receded into the ground. Looking up, she exchanged glances with the two. “I-I’m sorry... I’ve had a long day, please forgive my ill manners,” she began to brisk towards the garden. “Shall we wake the Prince? Tell him that you’re here?” one of the enforcers asked. “There’s no need to,” she replied. “I’ll get to him personally in a moment.” Entering the garden, Reyna found an empty spot with few trees to block the sunlight. Bending over, she dug up the soil with her bare hands, before placing A’aria’s seed in the ground. “You’re safe now, brave one,” she brushed a layer of soil over the seed. Before she left, she made sure to instruct the gardener to take exceptionally good care of whatever sprouted from it. @Knighto The door to Grant’s room slid ajar. Reyna knew that he would hear it opening. Without stepping fully into sight, she allowed some of her body’s artificial heat to dissipate. His room immediately sank to a comfortable temperature. Not wanting to blind him, she left the lights off as she entered. She made very sure that she had closed the door behind her. @danzilla3
  10. I haven’t had time to talk to her since she was crowned, maybe I should slip in and make some time? I don’t really know what to do, but for some reason, I feel this ache at the pit of my stomach. I need to do something. Souji sat quietly against the castle wall. He was still, lost in thought, and secluded between a bush and a lone standing tree. Birds danced across his shoulder and head yet, he did not move, even as the hummingbirds drinking from the flowers that grew from his hair. He was half naked, as was normal for his kind but this time it was as if the plant life grew on him where he sat. Ivy spiraled up his arms springing to life and feeding on the magic he radiated. The grass grew over his legs, it was comfortable, like a blanket. His hands lay in his lap cupped and filled with a pinkish water that magicked him a vision of Aeldra. He needed to be sure his children were behaving themselves while he was away. There was nothing official about him yet, however, technically he was the king of all fae, and that power seemed to radiate through and around him like a living cloak. Just what should I do? Is it weird? Will she forget me? What will she say? How will she act to me? Why the hell am I thinking about a single person so much? Irritation began to show on his face and began to grow around him like a dark cloud. His concentration was broke. The vines slithered away, the grass receded, and the birds scattered as if someone threw a stone at them. He drank the water. Go find her. So, he would. The fae stood and began to make his way back to the castle. It seemed so quiet now. Not a peep but the sounds of distant and close footsteps that his keen pointed ears picked up. Methodically he would begin to move through the beautiful castle looking for its queen. @Eternity
  11. Though the outside was pristine, orderly and minimalist, the inside was warm with terracotta walls, bold patterns, high arches and cheerful, bright lantern light. Wide windows framed by wooden shutters let light filter through, illuminating lacquered mahogany tables and floors. Each table sat low, an engineering feat of interlocked pieces held in place by pegs that allow the staff to adjust the tables to greater heights for the evening crowds. Colorful futons were sprinkled throughout the area between tables, and fluffed pillows adorned the cushioned couches that were interspersed with ottomans. A long stretch of counter space where led towards the back kitchen, accessible only by the staff. Along a section of the counter were. The floors always feel warm, and the breeze from the open windows makes the enjoyment of tea all the better. The menu was rumored to be local and seasonal, based on what the gardens could provide. Laconian market provided fresh produce, dairy, and meats, while the fishermen caught beautiful salmon that were passing through the streams at the base of the mountain. A portion of the counter was lined with baskets filled with fresh baked goods from breads to cookies, some which came as suggestions to pair with a favorite tea. A set of stairs going up leads to the inn, while a second set of stairs vanish into the cellar floor. After lunch in the late afternoon, the Sadira Amar would close its doors for a few hours, and make its transformation as the staff would rearrange the furniture, close the shutters, change the menus, prepare the rooms on the upper floor where patrons could rest. A fire would occupy the grand fireplace along the far wall, the cellar would open as kegs, barrels and caskets of alcohol would make its way to the kitchen. The meats roast and the potatoes cook as a rousing night of bustling business come and go. When the doors open, patrons know they are always treated to a good time, and always come back for more. -- Welcome to the Sadira Amar Tea and Tavern, a long-awaited dream of Raveena herself and the age-old tradition of tea ceremonies. Feeling as though the practice of tea-making was a lost art, she swore one day she would open her own tea house—a dream that became a short-lived reality when she met her husband and they built a tea house over their workshop. When the siege of Predator’s Keep came about and most of the city was razed, Raveena lost both her husband as well as her dream. With the coming of Hyperion, change was in the air. Determined to make her dream a reality, she built her workshop underground adjoining the cellar—endearingly named the Crucible after her late husband, with the Sadira Amar on top, and an inn as the second story. By day, the Sadira Amar is a quaint tea house and café, serving weary travelers who need repairs to their weapons while recovering with a light meal and tea. By night, the tea house is rearranged to accommodate the rowdier tavern crowds. Meals, drinking, gambling and entertainment keeps the staff busy. Patrons pick up orders for custom weaponry soul-forged by the Raveena herself, or prepare for their next adventure while getting a feel for the local life. Though the Sadira Amar is known for its good-natured rowdiness, few have been turned away, and invoked violence is prohibited. Above all else, no one goes without a warm meal and a full cup.
  12. He couldn't remember the last time he actually had to peak a mountain to get somewhere important. Rockfist maybe. Still, this was a cake walk compared to the journey across time and space to get here. A one way ticket it was, at least until he figured out how to get back home. He looked on with a narrowed, honey gaze. His auburn hair mopped short yet messily out of his hood. He had obviously aged, though arguably well considering his past life style that wasn't as far enough behind him yet to say half a lifetime ago. A decade ago for that matter. So many memories, good and bad. When he was fortunate enough to find his end game and ultimate happy ending, he prided himself knowing he walked away with all his boys (and girls) were accounted for. Alive even if they weren't well. Their condition of life was for them to decide, just as he had done for and with them those several years ago. It was both a blessing and a curse to seek out a familiar face in a world where The River Styx meant little to nothing, though given the right reasons, it certainly would learn. Broke and alone, he appeared with nothing more than the clothes on his back, and his immediate inventory seen or unseen. Readily available was an old arsenal he had grown very comfortable with. To wear them again after years of wasting storage space felt like putting on one's second skin. It felt so natural, it was as if he was nearly whole again in regards to his abandonment of the street life. While this as not meant to be a trip to return to form, it was one dedicated to his old ways. One of his brothers, a man he held dear in his heart had been slain, in which this world carried his last whereabouts. Drew. The neutral state of his BLAST Knuckles was all it took to know the man had met the end of his days after cheating death for so long. Rumored to be one of the last to see him and talk to him was someone just as familiar if not even more so thanks to having met her sooner. Raven. Though his blast knuckles were dormant, he still carried them in their box sheath. To the opposing hip was his custom Morning Star, and two ballistic knives. To his lower back was a holster with an odd handgun of some sort. Certainly it couldn't shoo munitions, though surely it shot something. A type of energy perhaps. While she wasn't one of them per se, he saw Raven as family. Before being involved with The Brit, she used to mingle a bit with his brother Saint. They had fought against and beside each other numerous times, and despite her superior prowess he managed to match her on average. Very seldom did he ever push her into submission, though admittedly he could only be thankful for such. Sometimes he didn't know when enough was enough. Sometimes his anger got the best of him. Her running away was her way of sparring him, though back then he was too egotistical to realize it. From gang leader, to brawling and prize fighting, to organized crime, and ultimately to a free and honest life raising a family. Bishop built his reputation and fame with his fists, chrome teeth, and bad attitude; Only to become a ghost of hood's past. Nobody else had been contacted of his to these stars, though he bet if he put out a call, some would answer if not all. Not that he needed them. He never needed anyone, or so he preferred to think. Approaching the Hyperion City limits, a grin crept onto the Russian Meta's face exposing his chrome teeth. The one canine exposed most obviously hosted a small jewel in the fanged tip. As he approached, he did so with an air of familiarity. He was primed and ready to walk right the fuck in the front door as if he owned the place. Perhaps he was over zealous thinking that his sister was the Queen around these digs, or so he heard, thinking that granted him some sort of special treatment. If Enforcers decided to investigate his presence on the way in, he was willing to entertain them a bit, though if one thing remained ever true it was that old habits died hard. Nobody would tell him anything about how he was to conduct his business here, and nobody would get in his way. For if they did, he would inevitably remove them from it. Standing at about 5'11" and weighing about a buck fifty soaking wet, he wasn't very impressive to look at. Though beneath that skinny structure was hard, compact muscle. The toning of his bare arm would be the only hint at there being more than met the eye. Anyone to see his physique and limit his potential prowess solely on that observation would learn the hard way that he was so much more. Tzak the Ripper has come to Valucre, and he wouldn't be leaving at least until he completed an investigation of what happened to Drew. @Deus Ex Aizen
  13. A new land. Hyperion laid upon the bought map in the hands of a seed. One that was sent here on an errand by the leader of the Red Blood Moon Children Organization. Garnet who was now running the group had desired to strike out and bring more into the fold. That and make new partnerships. Platinum however wasn't here for that. He was here to do things he wanted to he knew that would make Garnet extremely upset. And it seemed the two were at each others throats lately. Platinum came to the city because he wanted breath of fresh air and time alone. Staring at the map, the oddball seed was completely lost. He could not find his bearings and it showed that he was not of this land. The seed cared not of this as he didn't want to think of theoncoming nightmares that plagued his mind of late. Not fully acquiring the answers he seeked, he learned of his homeland's plans and future for him. Not something he desired. "At least the boat ride here was nice. Better than that shoddy airship that helped me leave that stuffy land." Platinum mused to himself as he stood there gaping uselessly at the crumbled up map. "Maybe I should look for a road or sign..." Taking a step forward, Platinum made his way into Hyperion.
  14. In the Kastoria District, within the Iron Stronghold the street outside is crowded with a procession of priests. The Bravot Library stood as a two-story tower of polished marble, with several stained-glass windows and dwarf-wrought iron furnishings. The further corners and outline were lit by glowing gemstones set into the ceiling, casting eerie shadows on the flying machines and dangling bones of fantastic creatures overhead. The well-spaced domes of intricate detailing and artistry allow natural light to filter in. It's as charming inside as it is on the outside. Marble pillars support the upper floor and the fans attached to them. No corner is left unfilled with otherworldly gadgets, whirring gizmos, and skeletal remains of fantastic creatures. Spaced throughout the Library’s main and second story are globes—detailing far away planets and mysterious lands. There’s no discernible directory to be found, yet the plentiful staff guides have detailed and intimate knowledge of where to find just the right book. It is said that the Bravot collection is vast enough for several stories to be built underground. Some of the books could be seen floating through the halls. Tourists and scholars seem to be the primary clientele here—a good sign. Several long tables are occupied by, what seems to be entire intrigued visitors, dressed eloquently for an evening of spooks and fun, all enjoying the open space. lounging in conversation while accepting unusually colored drinks. The other, smaller tables are also occupied by people who are indulging in carving gourds and pumpkins, while others venture off to explore the complex halls of the Library. Veils of fog hover along the ground, while furniture draped in white sheets are sprinkled throughout rooms. Intricate webs are tastefully placed, courtesy of Rowan, while flickering candles hovered and wandered through over the heads of others. Mysterious twinkling lights--the mischievous Fae, no doubt--blink in and out of existence. Though the machinations that run the Bravot Library are unclear, it is immediately evident that it is no ordinary Library. While the layout presumably is all it appears, the Library itself is not—as rooms upon rooms that could not possibly fit within the confines, do! With books collected from across the multiverse, the Bravot Library is a gem to Kastoria. A lavender feline sits on a table by the entrance, the gentle echo of a voice reverberating in the minds of all who enter: Welcome, Seeker. I am called Mephisto. What and who I am is the same. I am the Articat and the Book of Descendants is my charge. You have questions, I have answers. Please enjoy a bite of food and dessert. Spirits are being served all around, drink at your own discretion. Please be aware that the rooms are very much alive, and it is easy to get lost if you wander off. There are several tricks as well as treats waiting for you within. Please be safe, and enjoy the soirée.
  15. The Atrium of Lights and the Royal Gardens - Arcadia District Amber light filtered through panes of glass that sinuously stretched from floor to ceiling, casting sepia scattered light. Rainbow hues ambitiously illuminated every inch of the marble flooring, casting stretches of shadow. Somewhere nestled in the botanical splendor that filled the Atrium was the peaceful cascade of a fountain. The Atrium had given pause--as it were between each match--to recover the integrity of the Atrium. It stood like a crystal palace. Blood was cleaned, cracks were repaired by the marvel of Magi. The Gardens--a gem to Hyperion--were tended to by the best. The wards were replaced, enforced by strength of Raveena's will. Hyperion had suffered a great deal of grief and stress over the months since inhabiting the mountain's peak. Still, they prevailed, and planned such a celebration for months. That so many were willing to compete and showcase their skills, to represent the city and its people's struggles--it warmed her heart. Standing at the dais, the Queen Regent stretched her legs. Each fight proved enthralling, and she found herself tense and in deep discussion with her son about who would prevail. That she would take such keen interest startled some, and surprised others. When she was sure that she was seen, and the room quieted, she gestured to the two new combatants, "Welcome to Hyperion. You come at a time when you can see the city in its element. We do not simply survive, we live and we thrive. Kaess is our holiday of life, and living. We celebrate the struggle, and you represent triumph." She cast a knowing glance at her Enforcer Captain, Sabine. "The floor is yours, combatants." She seamlessly slipped to sit on her throne, "Good luck, you may begin." @Piperpie
  16. The Atrium of Lights and the Royal Gardens - Arcadia District The Atrium's pillars glowed warmly, casting deep shadows and phantoms of rainbow hues from the glitterglass panes. It had always been designated as the most romantic, intimate venue in Hyperion. It seemed romantic still to see the embodiment of the Kaess festival matches carried out there. The crowds were boisterous as families and friends reunited for a happier occasion since the deaths and destruction during the Parade of Worlds weeks ago. That such comradery could manifest in the wake of tragedy gave the Queen Regent hope. The wards were replaced, the paths were cleared. As the last pastel hues of daylight succumbed to the early evening, flickers of mysterious Faerie light twinkled in the Royal Gardens--for the denizens of Aeldra had come to watch the struggle as well. Lanterns of Exalta and Magic illuminated the hedges, and many excused themselves to enjoy the cool evening air. As Raveena finished her goblet of juice and was sent word that the last round to begin the first batch of matches was ready, Raveena sat poised in her seat to regard the new combatants "Good evening and welcome. As the last match for the evening before the next round begins, I want to thank you for volunteering to showcase your skills. Hyperion has faced dark times, and this is our reminder of those struggles, and the struggles we have yet faced." Leaning back into the throne, she nodded her assent, "The floor is yours, combatants. Good luck, you may begin." @Grubbistch @Ataraxy
  17. In the dusty roads of the Laconia district, two elder men remained squat, staring apprehensively at an uninteresting, wadded up cloak. They had remained squat there for some time, muttering amongst themselves. How did it get there? Who did it belong to? There was no name stitched into it. “I smell rain on the wind.” One wheezed. “Aah, you know what they say!” The other cackled. And they cackled together, wondering how to split their boon. The say went among the Matreyans that happening by a cloak during a rainstorm foretold good fortunes ahead. They would sit and greedily guard their boon so they could reap the benefits on their good fortune! Overshadowing them, an imposing woman with ebony skin and auburn hair scrutinized their every move with vibrant green eyes and a taut frown. They could not see her—and for good reason. She was bored, and as most things went with her siblings, sought to further the inane machinations of mundane life. With her was one of her many brothers, Anakoe. He shared her ebony skin, though he sported waist-length hair that was shockingly white. His eyes reflected like brooding storm clouds as he shared his sister’s frown. How long do you think they will wait, brother? Her rich tone inquired. As long as it will take, Thaus. A lifetime for them is naught but a blink for our kind, you know this. Both God and Goddess hovered over the two, waiting to see what their silly mortal worshipers would do… Ratra and Jamy roamed the districts, enticing men, women of age and youth. They were a magnetic force, and likely responsibility for Hyperion’s fertility rate. Ratra and Jamy were pale beauties, inundating their mortal worshippers with desire, inspiration, wrath, passion and love-making. Too often did they circle an attractive individual with wolfish gazes that hungered. In the evening they would cozy between their elder brother Sioram, the God of Night and Shadows where lovers would hide their love-making in plain sight. He didn’t care for it, dissatisfied by the deceit—no doubt an influence from their young and innocent sibling Dreao. Zaell always tended to the elder, those whose minds were afflicted by age. She longed to see her brother Dema again, but he was not welcome in Hyperion following brother Arun’s demise at the Kaess Festival. Dema was a clever thing, and though Matreyans still worshiped him, Arun’s influence as a minor god had soared to great heights. Cy, the eldest of them all, judged Dema for his destructive acts and banned him from the city, establishing Arun as a major deity once more posthumously. A child that drank by a fountain cried out as the water jettisoned up his nose. Deceitful God Shiz howled with laughter at the child’s dismay and tears, his sapphire eyes practically glittering with tears. He would torment the child for the rest of the day with deceitful, mean-spirited jokes. He envied their fallen brother Arun and aspired to become the next Trickster. Like phantoms they haunted Hyperion and beyond, bored with their immortal lives—yet with so much at stake. Despite their complex layers of fighting, infighting and alliances—they could all pause to appreciate the uniqueness of the mortal life. They were inferior beings in a way, yet superior in that they could capture attention so wholly. They were a simple pleasure in their long-lived world. Now, sister? Anakoe sighed with boredom, gazing up at Thaus who assented silently with a nod. It began with a drizzle, sprinkling the dirt and catching the attention of everyone in the market. Anakoe was the God of Rain, and Thaus was a Goddess associated with hardships. As such, she had the divine power to grant boons. They were immortal Kings and Queens to the Matreyan race. For all the worship, service and sacrifice given they held a duty to return the favor now and again. It was a vicious cycle that wouldn't end any time soon. The two elderly men cackled and howled as torrential downpour ensued, snatching up the cloak and dancing with glee. Thaus rolled her eyes and sighed, lazily waving a hand. Good fortune would, as the superstition went, come their way. @The Hummingbird
  18. The Atrium of Lights and the Royal Gardens - Arcadia District The setting sun filtered through panes of glass that sinuously stretched from floor to ceiling, casting pure scattered light. Rainbow hues ambitiously illuminated every inch of the marble flooring. Somewhere nestled in the botanical splendor that filled the Atrium was the peaceful cascade of a fountain. The air was electric with excitement. It was akin to worshiping a blood sport, though Raveena wouldn't welcome death in the Atrium halls. An excited, dull roar filled the protected area. Kyrosian wine filled their veins and flushed their cheeks as they talked animatedly of the fight they had witnessed. Beyond the Atrium doors sprawled an outdoor terrace to enjoy evening festivities, leading out into the intricate maze of the Royal Gardens. Amber light was cast on new opponents, who--like the fighters before them would have ample room to showcase their skills. Sitting upon the makeshift throne on the dais, Raveena smiled at the two--for they were practically family to her, if not two dear friends she was happy to see again. "Settle down," She pitched her voice over the others, and the dull roar hushed to a murmuring, "Settle down everyone." When she was sure she held their attention, she nodded to the fresh combatants, "Good evening, and welcome to the First Annual Kaess Festival. Like the combatants before you, you represent the struggles of the Matreyan people--and of Hyperion's triumph. The floor is yours, and you may utilize the Atrium, as well as the gardens. The wards have been renewed for public safety, and your own." She felt a fierce amount of pride as she nodded and gestured, "Best of luck, you may begin." @Metty @Twitterpated
  19. The sun had begun to rise over the trees in the forest where Yuyi Ren had decided to gather what students he could to lay the foundations of Tiandi Wushu. He had first arrived a week ago, and for the first few days it seemed as though no one would be coming. But then on the fourth day a man had shown up seeking out the tutelage of the Wandering Dragon, as some had come to call him. Ren had greeted the man warmly, invited him to share a modest dinner with him, and then helped him set up his own gear in the camp. As the days had passed, five more had arrived, and he had welcomed them in the same fashion. Until now he had not spoken of martial arts other than to confirm that he was the man they all were seeking. Now, as the sun rose on the eighth day, he gathered the would-be students in a clearing. While he had hoped to draw in more than six people, Ren was still greatly pleased by the turn out. From this seed he would grow the Tiandi Wushu into a force of both learning and aid for the people of Valucre. Assuming of course that the six before him proved themselves worthy of his teaching. Not that he felt that he was in any way above them; he just wanted to make sure they had what it took to stick with the training that would become a part of their lives. So as they gathered before him, he smiled warmly and bowed. "Greetings. My name is Yuyi Ren, Shangdi of the Tiandi Wushu school of martial arts. You have all come to learn under me, and I am eager to teach you. First however, I would know the people who are to be my students. Each of you please tell us your name, and perhaps a little bit about yourselves." @dvsn @Twitterpated @Grim Wolf @Diremast @Laughingmad
  20. There was an unrivaled stillness in the air. The city seemed to hold its breath as the morning mist veiled the mountain. The wind billowed and swirled gently, quietly—as if in reverence for the dead. Twenty-two individuals were garbed in white silk. They stood outside the Great Hall at the Pavilion of Prayers in somber silence. Every move, every act was well practiced. They stood equidistant in pairs of two, primly holding the long piece of paper that bore the name of their loved one. There was no crying. There were no tears to be shed. Mourning had passed—now it was on towards duty. Duty to lay the dead to rest. They were organized by their rank. Nobles and Knights at the head. Merchants and Scholars. The civilians were last. It felt wrong for Sabine to grip the delicate piece of paper that she did. In Vaadenian her lover’s name was scrawled with a practiced hand in beautiful black ink. It felt wrong because Sabine knew what she had seen. Though her lover was but ash, she knew that somewhere, somehow Efrideet was alive and enslaved. The skies were grey as clouds lazily stretched across them, though the sun tried to peek out from time to time. They waited in patient silence for the rest of the ceremony to finish its completion. Somehow this day could not end soon enough. The Great Hall had already filled with those who had come, but ample space had been made for the ceremony and funerals. “Ja’kaarn se Laa’zera!” Enter for the Queen! A herald called for them. Loud, precise and commanding—and so they would proceed with their practiced gait.
  21. The Atrium of Lights and the Royal Gardens - Arcadia District The setting sun filtered through panes of glass that sinuously stretched from floor to ceiling, casting pure scattered light. Rainbow hues ambitiously illuminated every inch of the marble flooring. Somewhere nestled in the botanical splendor that filled the Atrium was the peaceful cascade of a fountain. All seating had been rearranged to give a wide berth to the exhibition combatants. The Atrium itself was an impress 1,851 feet long, ending in the dais that Raveena and her family and guests occupied. The ceilings stretched high, high up at 128 feet. All manner of mage had been called upon to ward the crystal panes, the smooth marble flooring and the ornate fountains with their trickling against severe atrophy and destruction. A thin veil would protect onlookers surveying the fight. They murmured to themselves, sharing their hors d'oeuvres and inspecting the wines and Matreyan finery. There had been speculation that the exhibition matches would be cancelled following the funeral. Still the people prevailed and the first match was set to begin shortly. Beyond the Atrium doors sprawled an outdoor terrace to enjoy evening festivities, leading out into the intricate maze of the Royal Gardens. With the night quickly approaching, both opponents would have ample room to showcase their skills. Sitting upon the makeshift throne on the dais, Raveena observed the Atrium's wards with her Sight and nodded thoughtfully. It would do, and while there was surely to be some damage, it would be incredibly difficult to destroy the Atrium. It as a match of showmanship and ability, not one for the death. "We are here to commemorate the struggles of our people. Kaess: Light. Our spring holiday, and for good reason. We must honor those who have lost their lives for this city. We must honor the struggle and remember where we came from. Tonight is a special evening, as we allow our first match to begin. Combatants, you may have the floor at your leisure, and spill out into the gardens if need be. Best of luck, as you may begin." She gestured to them both. @Paroxysm @ethela penna
  22. A thick fog rolled through the thicket of the Forgotten Wood. So thick, that the underbrush and trees were hardly visible. There was, however, a circular clearing in the center an eye to the fog. The clearing sported many great trees whose leaves hung downwards, enveloping the area in a canopy. Unlike most of the forest, Souji had outfitted the branches, arranged them by asking so that light beamed through. A thick greenish blue plain of grass stretched all along the floor, dotted with various colors of flower. Fireflies and other such creatures made their likeness known by contrasting against the darker colored fauna. In the center lay a magically created lake with flecking purple and blue look. A sign of his homeland. Souji had chosen this place for his home, out of all the other places he could have selected, he decided that for the time, this was the best place for him. A crackling broke the silence, coming from what looked like a large greenish cocoon. The outside shell fell away and the fae slowly emerged pulling himself from the tight hold. There was a rustle as his body fell from the hold. “I’m covered in slime, I’m covered in slime!” It was his solitary thought as he attempted to find his vision and legs. Almost like a newborn calf, he crawled through the grass in the direction of the lake. Once there he took a hard look at himself in the reflection pool. Gone, was his black hair, and in its place, along with ivy green hair dotted with lavender leaves as if they were growing from him. He was also unable to control his eyes, they remained a bright purple with no whites, and lines of gold and silver traced his body as if there were vines of ivy growing under his pale skin. That’s what he could see through the greenish goo that coated him. When he found himself sturdy enough to crawl into the water, he did so if only to feel normal again. The fae reached up and touched the black markings on his face, it had been a while since he had last seen the one tethered to him, in fact, it had been a while since he had seen anything living aside from the inhabitants of the Wood. A pixie here, a dryad there nothing to write home about and they rarely spoke to him. Was it because he scared them? Perhaps. Or perhaps it was because they knew that one day, they would fall under his court and would have to treat him as a noble. He signed, leaning back slightly to look up at the canopy of leaves. “I want sunlight.” The fae said calmly, and the trees as if they heard him parted their branches so that a beam of light fell over the lake, so he could bask in the sun for a while. The light was bright to his new eyes but, he would soon get over it.
  23. The whole city had been talking about it for nearly three days, the Battle for Last Chance had been won against the invaders from the Legion of Doom, backed to retreat. There had been some casualties, even from Hyperion's loaned forces that helped on the Southern front, and the streets of the market were busy with prepared food, music, and throngs of family members. The soldiers had nearly completed their march home, the small battalion from Hyperion's reserve due to arrive, the sons and daughters of the small, noble nation having much national pride for their contribution in the efforts, alongside the Terran Military, enforcers, and the Order of the Force Majeure. While the Force was destined to return to the Bastion by way of portals East of Hyperion's border, the marching soldiers welcomed Jin as their comrade in arms for the journey he desired more than home. Hyperion's thoroughfare had almost erupted with noise when the soldiers had reached the gates, spilling in for the tender-hearted reunions of their sons and daughters returned safely, and supportive grief for those that did not, while relatively few. Most businesses had closed for the day, a holiday decreed for the spending of time with loved ones and to relish in their victory, though From the Ashes had remained open, if only by the continuous ringing of steel. When Jin arrived, Brovnik was in the doorway, and the sight of the noted Second of the Force Majeure had made whatever semblance of a content smile he had left drop from his face. Gray at the temples, and streaked through his reddish hair, the obvious sinking of his heart looked like it had added a few new silver strands to his age. "A great victory; congratulations to you, boy," the elder smith said, his squared shoulders taking up the majority of the space in the wooden frame of the door. He wasn't forcing Jin out, though he was obvious to stand in the way of his entry, more than just by happenstance. There was something in the forge he hadn't wanted the Second to see. "You should go home, rest. Come back tomorrow." With his tenacious energy and his impervious youth, Jin would've been able to pass by him without much struggle. Brovnik sighed before relinquishing his post, casting a look deep into the forge, and slowly retired to his home. He assumed they wanted to be alone. The banging of steel continued, as if Rou hadn't heard him enter. A bit topheavy, Rou was slouched over her work as she slammed a hammer onto a glowing-hot orange steel; it sparked like starlight when struck, before fading out into ash that gathered on the floor at her feet. Over and over, she slaked at the steel, a slow, methodical beat, her eyes dedicated to the precision of her task, yellow irises hidden heavily under her brow. It wasn't until he was nearly next to her that she'd realized she wasn't alone, and Brovnik was gone. Rou raised her head in a start, almost like a meerkat popping tall from it's den. Her eyes were wide, lips gently parted in her pause, stunned by him as if she'd seen a ghost. On her left cheekbone, previously obscured from his view, was an unsightly bruise. "Jin..." she breathed, as if she'd forgotten about her injuries and they were, for only a brief moment, invisible... until she could see his eyes on her cheek. She was happy to see him for that instant, before pangs of shame prickled apprehensively at her heart. Her gaze diverted to the side, unable to maintain eye contact with him, unable to endure the weight of his stare. "Welcome home... I'm glad to see you safe." Her tone was soft, an uncommon color on Rou, nowhere near the hero's welcome he was likely expecting. A cut to her upper lip had healed, but some semblance of a scar remained, a much fairer scene than the bloody split it had been a few nights previous. It had healed quickly, much to Rou's thankfulness, but it still tasted of iron when she swept her tongue across it in idle moments, and could feel the divoted indentation. The comely blacksmith looked positively harrowed, and it wasn't chalked up to only the sweat of her work. @Twitterpated
  24. Nearly a week had passed since Rou's trek into the mountains, imparting her presence on the camp known as Tiandi Wushu. Master Ren had done his best to try to convince Rou to partake in training with the others, a method he insisted might help relieve some of her burden in camaraderie and toil, though she could not be persuaded. By her own admission, Rou had deemed herself too old and too bullheaded to learn another method of discipline, so many haphazard styles and shortcuts to earn the quickest results had branded her repertoire into something of a hot mess. More than a little spoiled of late, she struggled to become accustomed to roughing it in the mountains, though out of a rare token of respect, had kept her complaints to herself when she returned to the meager dormitories of Tiandi Wushu upon day's end, quiet as she partook in an evening meal. Joining the other women of the training ground only to sleep for the night on a rolled pad and blanket, the simple wood dojo did little to keep out the nightly cold. Upon each dawn as the pupils beneath Master Ren began to prepare for their day's instruction, Rou was already gone, leaving to train on her own. Not far from the dormitories was a small waterfall nestled in the base of a cliff among the trees, a pristine pool at its base feeding into a twisting stream, and the marbled stone reaching towards the sky. With some effort, Rou had managed to push a large boulder with a flat side underneath the rush of water, a place for her to assume a cross-legged sitting stance as the water pooled and splashed over her head and shoulders. It was there she sat, from dawn until noonday, when the sun reached directly overhead, that Rou would remain in concentration, trying to foster a small flickering flame from her palm, just in front of her chest. This was the way she'd begun her journey as a firebender, under the tutelage of her father, and felt as if this was the only way to restore her honor to the method. Spring was late, winter still holding onto the tendrils of the nearby plants with icicles by each morning, and Rou was subject to the worst of it in the freezing cold water. It soaked through her clothes and her hair, pruned her bronzed skin, and nearly turned her lips blue, hardly improving by noon even if the sun had decided not to hide itself shyly behind clouds. While the rush of the water created an almost peaceful white noise that blocked out her other senses, water was chaotic and erratic when falling, making it hard to protect the small flame cradled in her hands. Her fire started as little more than a flicker upon the first day, and each time it dampened out, she could practically hear her father's voice demanding she start again... though it had truthfully been so long since she'd heard it. When the sun was directly overhead, she was cold, and exhausted... and her stomach growled terribly. However, the day was not yet over. In a tall tree, Rou had tied two long silks from a strong branch, and spent the rest of sunlight's hours twisting herself through them. Her muscles ached with each towering climb as she'd pull herself up to the top, looping the silks around her feet, knees, or arms to secure herself in place, and maneuvering herself into a sequence of poses that required strength, control, and focus. The first day, especially, had acquired her a number of new bruises and scrapes, the unfortunate cost of tumbling a bit too far and falling, often. Rou was frustrated by her lack of flexibility, nearly burning down the forest immediately around her a half a dozen times in upset, cursing herself for the trial that used to prove so easy. The Buxom Bandit wasn't a spry young chick any more, and out of practice-- reclaiming her feats weren't as memory to her muscles as she'd hoped. She attended dinner sporting a number of bandages that night, and the next. By the fifth day, managing the flame, and feats of flexibility had come much easier... yet her stomach still growled fiercely after emerging from the water at noonday. Much to her surprise, as she waded barefoot through the small pool that came up to her knees, feet squishing through the mud, that just beside the pond lay a nearly pristine bowl of rice, topped with a single, thin, grilled fish. It wasn't anything special, and Rou hadn't seen who had left it, though she gobbled it down thankfully. With the strength of extra food in her belly, the strength of the afternoon's silk training had proved much easier, and invigorated her to push til day's end. She arrived to dinner with no bruises that night, the old ones starting to fade, and gone after a night's rest. Still, she was gone by dawn. On the sixth and seventh day, again, a bowl of rice and fish was waiting for her at noonday, just beside the pond. Muscles that had become plush and soft in the Buxom Bandit's recent life of luxury were starting to return to form, and her flexibility was astonishing, tying herself through the silks to accomplish all matter of tumbles and contortions that strained her arms and legs in a way that made her sore, but proud. Each night she joined the pupils for dinner, playing the unnaturally (for her) quiet spectator, but even occasionally managed a private smile. The eighth day's training in the waterfall had been especially cold, but the rice and fish had warmed her to the core, despite her damp clothes. She'd worn a tight black binding around her chest, covered by a loose-fitting, sleeveless tunic, the linen stretched out and the arm holes cut too big, showing off her bare ribs beneath. Rou sported tiny red shorts that could hardly be called clothing, most of her legs bare so better to grip the silks, and her boots discarded into the dirt since they had no place in the air. As she pulled herself into a stretching pose, hanging upside down and stretching a foot to the crown of her head, her sable black hair hung just as the silks did, swaying gently from the chilly breeze that dried the clothes that clung to her. This was the eighth day that she'd spent training in her own way, but would be the last day she'd remain undisturbed at her own little training ground alone. @Twitterpated
  25. Raveena walked with purpose. Disturbing news reached her and now was the critical moment to make decisions. The Council of Nine were convening to discuss the matter. The air was buzzing with activity, that as tangible in the city. People were preparing for the worst, hoping for the best. It was not the first time a displaced population was welcome—but never on the cataclysmic scale of what happened in Ashville. The entirety of the city was decimated, and the population of 5 million had been reduced to 250,000 in an instant. With no home, and life-threatening raids taking place at the coastal shores of Last Chance, they fled to their nearest neighbor: Hyperion. The Hall of Sigils echoed with footsteps. A dull roar in the background as city officials were running back and forth, receiving and delivering reports. A long table sat stretched—the chamber designated for meetings. Sat already were Seven of the Nine. Raveena swiftly took her seat with a flutter. Water and refreshments had been provided by the staff but none hardly touched their food. The air was tense and energetic beyond measure. There was far too much anxiety to eat. “Council,” Raveena purred her greeting, the flare of her Matreyan accent creeping into her words, “I appreciate the swiftness of your response. Here is the situation.”
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