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"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
Benjamin had never been to school, or at least he had never stayed in any one school for very long; and he had definitely never been to any institution of higher learning. When you spend your childhood moving from town to town so no one learns your family secret and come after you, education just isn't a priority. He hadn't become fully literate until well into young adulthood, and he still loathe math with a burning passion. These days though he had managed to accrue enough knowledge through study and experience enough knowledge to be of just above average intelligence. Above average wouldn't normally cut it at a place like Bronte Academy, but luckily for him, there was one area of magic study where he shined. Alchemy had been taught in his family for generations, possibly even before their bloodline was altered, though no one was really sure. Their signature alchemy was the potion known as Atavism, a formula that brings normally dormant portions of a persons ancestry to the fore. While this was there specialty, the complicated nature of the formula required an extremely advanced knowledge of the discipline; which meant that anyone who could brew it was a master of alchemy. Ben had hit upon the idea of using this to Infiltrate the academy, and get close to the headmistress, Bodice Brouchard. This led to the problem of not knowing what an educator would look like. His normal look was usually somewhere along the lines of mercenary barbarian, which he was fairly certain wouldn't blend in on campus. So he had spent a few nights people watching in bars frequented by faculty, and he finally got a decent idea. He had shaved and dyed his hair, put in contacts to make his eyes look normal, and then chosen some fitting attire. The black dress pants, dress shoes, white dress shirt, and brown coat. Now he waited outside the Headmistress' office while he waited to be seen. @Jotnotes
Damien opened the door at the top of the stairs. His room was neat and tidy, organized in the way only scarcity made possible. There was a rickety bed in the corner, a plain desk at the centre, and an accompanying chair positioned by a stack of five leather tomes. The only other furniture was a small cardboard box where he stored his clothes. Nothing decorated the walls or covered the wooden floor. He walked over to the box and emptied its contents into a grey travel sack. It was a ratty little thing he’d dug out from the closet downstairs. He didn’t have enough money, let alone the time to go buy a proper one, since he’d already spent most of it securing passage aboard an airship that was leaving in an hour. Dear Damien Dark, He picked up the letter sitting on his desk. Its script was written in cursive, with a crimson emblem gracing the upper corner of the page. He gave it one long look, as if that would make the day feel any more real, or at least lessen the guilt weighing in his chest like a stone. Congratulations, and welcome to the Bronte class of 590 WTA. His blue eyes lingered, sightlessly drifting over the rest, before he folded the letter, tucked it into his front pocket, then made his way back downstairs. “You have everything you need?” His mother was sitting in the kitchen: a tall, thin-boned woman armed with a severe jawline. She bore no resemblance to him. Her skin was a mellow bronze, whereas his was a translucent white, though it had taken on a paler complexion this past year. She held a cup of coffee in her hands. Black, just black. Sugar was a luxury they could hardly hope to afford. They’d actually stopped buying coffee altogether when she'd been forced to quit her job at the market, but she’d insisted that they celebrate this morning, and Damien knew better than to argue with her. “I think so,” Damien said, accepting the cup with a nod. It was pleasantly scalding and almost as bitter as he remembered. “Got my letter of acceptance, my ticket, too much empty space in my bag, never enough socks…” “So, the usual,” she said, coughing into the crook of her elbow. “Smartass.” Damien took another sip. “That is why I got in.” He grinned over the rising steam, but only for a moment. His mother recognized the look, and she moved to squeeze his hand. “Honey, we’ve already talked about this,” she started. “I’ll be fine. Really. Stop worrying so much and think about what’s waiting ahead of you.” Damien let the words roll over him, feeling their tug like the pull of a wave. “I don’t have to go,” he offered. “There’s always next year, or the year after that. And if you don’t get better by then, I wouldn’t mind-“ “Damien.” Her tone was firm and vexingly kind. He closed his mouth on reflex and waited for her to continue. “You’ve worked too hard for this. People like us can’t afford to throw these chances away.” “I’m not throwing it away," he said mildly. “Good. This is your dream we’re talking about here.” She squeezed his hand tighter now, careful to remain gentle. “I won’t have you putting your future in jeopardy just because I’m turning into an old lady. Besides, we already agreed that Ferdinand would help out around the house while you’re gone.” Ferdinand’s an idiot. That was what Damien wanted to say. The man was as incompetent as a baboon with a typewriter. Seeing the clench of his jaw, his mother let go and rose from her chair. The effort of it provoked a wet cough that nearly bent her over. “Promise me you’ll stay out of trouble,” she whispered, wrapping her arms around him. Damien returned the gesture. She felt too small against him. “I’ll try,” he said, resting his chin in the dip of her shoulder. That seemed to satisfy her. She didn’t say anything else. They only held each other in that moment before eventually pulling themselves apart. “It’s time to go,” she said slowly, cupping his face; watching as the bones and skin seamlessly rearranged themselves under her fingers. By the time the change was over, Damien had darkened to a soft beige, and his hair was a windblown mocha set above a pair of green eyes. “How do I look?” he asked. “Still adopted,” she said, and they both chuckled while she attempted to wipe away a single tear. “But very much handsome. Don’t you dare get anyone pregnant.” Damien gulped the last of his coffee and set the empty cup aside. He glanced between his mother and the front door, not quite knowing what to say. “Make sure Ferdinand knows I’ll break him if he breaks anything.” And then a hesitant second after that, “I love you, Mom.” “I love you too, dear.” She smiled at him one last time. “Show those university brats who they’re dealing with.” It was early September, so the weather outside proved reasonable that morning. Reasonable, because he’d spent most of the summer with his shirt sticking to his back. He passed by the farm where he’d worked for five years - just yesterday had been his last shift - then a small church at the edge of town, which was drawing in its weekly Sunday crowd. Some of the townsfolk recognized Damien. It was usually the overalls that gave him away. Today, however, he’d ditched those for a loose-fitting button-up, his cleanest pair of pants, and a fraying straw hat he’d tried (and failed) to leave at home. They waved at him, a few of them cheering, and he waved back. Then he crossed an old stone bridge, wondering how long it would be until he saw any of them again. The docks themselves weren’t very large. A population of five thousand didn’t warrant many airships. Freedom of destination was also a bit of a problem, by extension. Fortunately, Damien’s trip turned out to be a straight shot to Umbra. A popular choice, apparently, since the boarding line dwarfed all others in the nearby vicinity. It took maybe ten minutes before his turn came up, and he handed over his ticket. It felt sacrilegious, discomforting even, to watch the paper slip get punched; knowing someone was permanently defacing the object he’d spent seven months of his savings on. The cherry on top was the way the attendant took her time, beaming at him, flirting with her eyes- somehow, enjoying the small talk of an obviously inexperienced romantic. “Enjoy your flight,” she purred. “You too," Damien said automatically. He’d never blushed so furiously in his entire life. A half hour later, Damien leaned against the metal railing. Several others did the same as the airship's engines shuddered to life. Most of them were waving at someone they knew. He scanned the crowd, looking for his mother, even though the futility of his search reminded him of what it was like to be alone and selfish. “Now what’s a young man like you heading out to Umbra for?” Damien turned to face the man. He was around sixty or seventy. Dark skin, a full head of hair, and an absurdly bright white smile. He wasn’t very short. He probably stood a few inches below six feet. Damien, being rather tall, found himself looking down anyway. “I’m going to Bronte,” he said simply. “Bronte?” The man’s smile widened a fraction. “You say that like you’re going to prison.” “Oh, I- it’s, well…” The man cocked a bushy grey eyebrow. Damien motioned idly with his hand. Searching for the words was difficult, especially when all the right ones made him feel like a dewy-eyed idiot. “Guess I'm just nervous," he said lamely. "I’ve never been away from home.” The man nodded his head sagely, as older people often tended to do. “But you do realize that you’re going to Bronte, right?” Damien glanced at the passenger. His wrinkled eyes brimmed with an infectious sort of energy. “Believe me, young man,” he continued. “This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I would give an arm and a leg to be a student there again.” Something suddenly tingled in Damien’s gut. Something juvenile and exciting. It was that little spark he got whenever the library received a new shipment of books. “You went to Bronte?” he asked, grinning despite himself. “I did,” the man declared proudly. He stuck out his hand, puffed out his chest, and spoke with a charming amount of gravel. “Theodore Ripley, but you can call me Theo. Ripley works too.” Damien shook the man’s hand. He was surprised by the firmness of its grip. “Damien Dark," he said. "Either or works for me." “That sounds like a superhero’s name.” Ripley considered the idea with a chuckle. “Tell me, Damien, do you happen to be staying in the student block this term?” “Seventh floor," Damien answered too quickly. He'd burned the information into his memory. There were also other campus-related minutiae buried in there, in case someone never asked him for it. “Good." Ripley clapped his hands once. "That’s where all the parties are. Word to the wise, keep your doors locked unless you want to have a ghost problem, among other things.” Damien nearly frowned. “Can't ghosts just pass through walls?” “Ah, Damien,” Ripley sighed. “You have so much to learn. Come, why don’t we head downstairs and chat over brunch?” This time, Damien really did frown. “What the hell is brunch?” Ripley laughed. “Now you really have to come.” @vielle @Csl @SweetCyanide @Thotification
Among the dreams of many children of the ground, there is one that finds its way into the thoughts of many and intrigues them to no end. And that would be, the dream of being able to fly in the sky, to navigate the air and transcend the limitations of being stuck on the ground. Whether it be the freedom, the ability to bypass traffic, or simply because it would let them be able to not be late or get lost to anything, this is a dream shared by many and all. However, for those who can fly, they might contest that last one. At the moment, Ayan Yurian, a young Alura Boy who had set out to see the world and become an adventurer, was lost beyond all reason. He had found the city of Umbra, sure, but it was starting to get late, and he had absolutely no idea where the tavern was. He had a map, but it made no sense to him. Of course, it didn't help he was looking at the map upside down. Either way, it was not like he could just fly forever non-stop. He spotted what appeared to be a large park or something like that, and glided down until he was at a low enough altitude. After that, he retracted his wings and bent his legs as he kicked off his boots, letting them land right next to him as he landed in a sitting position on the ground. He then let his wings stretch out once more as he stretched out his arms, enjoying the mobility he felt wearing a sleeveless jacket and shirt along with his shorts. "I suppose if I cant find the place, I could always sleep here. Could probably find a river to bathe in too....but I was kind of looking forward to enjoying a tavern, and a real bath. Or at least a real shower...I wonder what they are like?" Ayan had only lived with his family, his clan, and so his curios mind started to wonder if they had different customs then what he was used to or not. Despite his curiosity, he had yet to consider asking for directions yet, which could indicate a bit of airheadedness.... @The Hummingbird