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Deus Ex Aizen

[ Himmelsfestung ] Kingslayer - Part I - The Grand Illusion

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Orion stood his post behind the beast king, his eyes following that of the advisers that were like the king himself. Each would file into the room taking up their mantles near the king, each talking among themselves.

Other guards took up their places near the doors, other near the pillars that held the massive throne room as a whole.  The word was a royal entourage had made its way into the beast kings land, and that they were quite gutsy to meet with him.  

Orion kept his posture behind the king’s chair, his eyes constantly shifting throughout the room. Although it was his duty to protect the king, his heart didn’t exactly lay in alliance with his king. He knew the man was absolutely insane, and he would bring chaos down upon the people under his rule if it so suited him.

Pulling his thoughts to forefront of his mind, he would listen to the words that were spoken between the advisors, and soon the other men that served the king in his army. Shifting his armor with a light clinking of it against itself, he would move to trade places with the other guard as they did often. The men would rotate around the throne hall of the king, the idea was to keep them fresh to any possibilities of threats in the king’s own sanctuary.

With Orion being one of many personal guard to the king, it gave him the ability to get all the information he wished to know. With the word of another stranger daring to enter the lands, it raised the thought of a possible resistance may pop up against the king. It was indeed very intriguing to Orion, but he had to care for himself as he lived in the lion’s den.

 

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Her orders were simple, and precise. Best part was, she placed the responsibility of playing squad leader on him. If his allies simply obeyed their orders, none of them would be harmed or lost today. Not even in a worse case scenario. As he was swiftly introduced to an elemental twin of his, he simple gazed upon her with those empty, narrowed charcoal eyes. His black, shoulder length, unkempt hair moved ever so slightly in the passing current. At the right angle, one might catch a glimpse of one of his stray grey's that had began to appear in upon his scalp. After getting a good look at Vera, he looked back to his commander. After tagging her a fool, Arashi was an already acquainted addition to his party that he was certain would be a headache.

"Hai, Taichou....?"

As he answered his fearless leader he was cut off by the utterance of words "Don't stop me. I'm doing this myself.", though before he could finish his words the Commander had moved on. Great....This was his problem. He always had to get stuck with some chick that was too brawny and ballsy for their own good. And they were always hard headed, and arrogant as fuck. 

"Arashi, stop! We have our orders, if you cannot comply with them you have two options. Return to the earthen crust below, or subject yourself to the retribution fitting for only the likes of treasonous swine."

As he grew frustrated, his eyes went from looking dim and broken to the likes of a fierce, passionate flame. To deviate from the plan as given was to threaten the life of Raven. Regardless of what she meant to anyone else, to Jin she was Commander. She was a teacher. He loved her, he cared for her. It was very similar to the way he felt about Master James, but it was still different. Regardless, he was the sort to protect others. It was his job to protect all, it was his life to protect especially those he loved. If Arashi was willing to compromise a loved one of his, he would fail to hold back whilst comprising such a threat before it could succeed.

"Make your choice now, we don't have time to waste."

@Metty @Deus Ex Aizen

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Grant followed the procession from the alleys between buildings, being careful to stay off the main street. He was wearing an inconspicuous grey cloak, worn and ragged in places, hood drawn over his head. The locals in this part of the city paid him no heed, as people tended to mind their own affairs in this part of town; lest they bring unwanted attention down on themselves. Besides which, everyone was already busy trying to get a view of the strangers walking down the street. The sight of such people would be as strange to the citizenry as the sight of the half beasts was to the strangers.

His first impression of the Countess Raveena was one of strength and confidence, tinged with doubt. The way she held herself told him that she was not only well trained, but also experienced in actual combat. Though her facial expression remained neutral for the most part, the occasional scowl or look of disgust gave him a good idea of what she thought of the city she was in. He could hardly blame her. The conditions these people lived in were appalling. Though he tried to keep himself neutral, he couldn't help but think better of the Countess for her empathy.

Of her entourage, two people stood out. One was an older man who seemed to be keeping a running commentary of the things he was seeing as they made their way deeper into the city. The other was a formidable looking woman who was speaking with a minotaur girl who was interested in her gun. Interestingly, the woman allowed the girl to hold the weapon, after rendering it safe. 

As the procession crossed into the more lavish part of town, Grant ducked into an alley and discarded his cloak. Underneath he wore finer clothing, more in keeping with what the people in this district would be wearing. Barely breaking stride, he kept following, blending into the crowd with practiced ease.

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The front hall was empty. The east wing, empty. The west, empty. The whole property was absolutely empty now except for two areas. One was a room that was built into the area just behind the actual throne of the king in the throne room. The door to the room wasn't large and imposing as one would expect, but rather small and simple but also just slightly larger in size than the outline of the actual throne. No matter where you stood in the throne room, no matter how you look at it, you will always be able to see the door. A secret room of the king, both right there and yet just out of sight. Disturbingly as the door is opened, no a single drop of light can flood into the space. Past the thresh of the door, nothing can be sen therein, no matter the strength of ones eyes or the purity of their light. 

Not that any have ever seen the door opened anyways, as even the guards dare not turn to even face the door with our given permission...

It is in this room that a certain growl can be heard emanating out, echoing in the silence, which while not mountain shattering in volume, resounded out with a cold ferocity to chill to the bone. Though it seemed to be muffled, the roar flooded the entire palace, all the way to where everyone was gathered together with bowed heads. The area just past the front gates was a large courtyard at least three to four hundred meters long, and almost as wide. A large path led from the front gate to the palace entrance and was wide enough to accommodate the more than seven hundred people who worked and lived therein, and whom were all currently lined neatly in rows on either side.

The courtyard itself used to be verdant and green, filled with life and color everywhere you turned. Now it was all overgrown and now well kept. While still green, what was once a garden with plants full of life and the air filled with the intense scent of flowery and medicinal aromas, was now little more than a small jungle in the midst of a city of stone.

A look of veneration and fear flitted across the face of every man and woman, servant and soldier, beast or man. Their heads were forced lower as the roar which seemed to last into eternity shook them to their cores. Many could be seen breaking out into a sweat, gritting their teeth  as their minds reeled from the power felt behind the roar. Finally it died down and as it did, the room position right behind the centermost location of the palace opened a crack. An icy cold air flowed out from the room as it opened. The blackness seemed to be the cause of this, as if the room itself were a realm beyond hell. The air flooded through the throne room, through the empty foyer, the east, west, and front halls, all the way to out the front and past the bodies of the people standing in reverence to the being able to cause this to happen. 

The door finished opening and from within came a figure, while not massive in size, still gave the impression that he could shatter mountain and cover over seas just by treading the earth. He was only about eight feet tall. A minotaur with pitch black body. His body toned to the point it seemed like thick like steel, and that his body might be stronger than most armor. Even then he wasn't bulky or heavy looking. Rather, the aura that emanated off of him was one of a being who fought in countless battles, killed many heroes, and ended countless bloodlines. A force soaked and forged in blood, it was none other than this venerated ancient diety of the past, The Beast King, Raz-Nagore "The Butcher"!

He walked slowly with pride. He wore nothing, neither armor nor weapon could be found on his person. Yet despite how bare his form, he still emanated a feeling of profound royalty, was though he were wrought from head to toe in the finest steel or holiest of silks. On his head were two large and imposing white horns of a pure ivory color. The were so pure of a white they released an aura of death, as though their roots were as ancient as the stars and oceans. His eyes were red, large and sharp as the gazed forward as if fixated on an object off in the distance. He made his ways silently from the throne room, all the way to the front hall. The song of his two large hoofed feet clanging was all that filled the air for about the space of it takes to brew a cup of tea. He stopped just outside the main door and in front of the people outside.

His people. 

He looked them over with a sharpness, their heads continuously bowed the entire time. Not one dared to look up. Even if called, the presence he released made it so that even if you were called, you would still not want to lift your eyes for fear of incurring a fate worse than death. Finally after the space of about ten breaths, he spoke. His voice was both deep and boundless. It inspired fear from his enemies and adoration from his allies. 

"For the first time in a very long time, a sovereign is gracing us with their presence!" He narrowed his eyes. "You can say she is here for personal reasons, or for country, the outcome shall be the same... Now..." He voiced lowered as he walked down the center of the path, a way made for him immediately as he stepped down and walked towards the from gate. As he walked, the lips of his bull like head curled back into a sinister smile. "Now, I shall go fetch our guests! Prepare the dining halls for a feast! After all, it's not often we get visitors!" There was both sincerity and threatening tone in his voice just now. Two particular guards awaited for him at the gate. As he passed by, they moved to take place on either side just behind them. They were the first to lift their heads, a look equally as fierce as their kings in their eyes. 

As the gates closed, all the beastmen lifted their heads, a cold killing intent billowing off of them, and a look of horror and dread spread across the face of every human servant. For they knew what was about to happen... But as little more than slaves to the king, they had no choice but to comply. The other human soldiers like Orion also knew, and soon their heads were once again lowered in anger and frustration, pale from the fear that gripped their hearts. 

And it was with an almost gleeful joy that the beastmen actively got to work coercing their lesser counterparts into actively preparing for the feast... 

More slaves, who had just been brought in, were all lined up in front of the current servants. Particularly, the cooks... It was with a look of horror in the human cooks and helpers eyes as they were made a game of by the beasts of the caste. The approached the slaves with tears in their eyes and that began to dispatch each one. The slaves were mostly exhausted and broken beyond hope. It was these who went quietly without a struggle... But then there were those who let out blood curdling screams as they were killed. Both the silent ones, and the ones who cried out in their moment of death were equally as horrifying... And it was only afterwards the brokenhearted servants, who were mostly women and children, were then set to the task of assisting the head chef, a beastly turtle of immense size, in the preparation of these slaves for the guests...

 

 

~ ~ ~

 

 

Some time later, near Raven's group.... A group of four soldiers who happened to be patrolling in the area were eyeing the group from off to the side. They knew way beforehand they were to keep a close eye on these strangers, and while they were all told not to cause trouble without necessity, not one beastman of pride was about to take such an order seriously. It hadn't even come from the king, so in the matters concerning pride, few others could dissuade them from acting upon their anti human prejudices. It was when the one called Efrideet handed the empty pistol over to the child who was inquisitively playing near them, that they began to move their direction with cold looks in their eyes. 

The four, who were about the size of a regular human, but looked like ostriches with arms that were like a humans, but covered over with feathers like a birds wings. The slowly approached the group and surrounded it, bringing their march through the city to a halt. The oldest of the group spoke clearly and crisply, but with an edge in his voice revealing a displeasure on having to deal with these people. "Hey, who do you think you are giving a weapon to a child?", he said with disdain, the sharp look in their eyes only growing sharper. "Giving a child a gun, are you trying to teach our citizenry that violence is alright? Such an act could be seen as a call to arms depending on how might want to take it..." Squinting his eyes thoughtfully as he locked gazes with Raven, he commanded. "I fear it's for your best interest that your lot comes with me. You can explain yourselves behind bars! Guards!"

The other three ostrich men began to step forwards towards the group. While they weren't armed, their bodies were ungodly sturdy. Their legs longer and harder than most swords, the claws on their feet were sharper than as well. Whole Raven's group was thoroughly tough in every aspect, these birds felt their strength sufficient enough to suppressive them should they resist. So they approached slowly, preparing for an arrest. 

 

....

 

It was at that time right as they took their second step that a sudden pressure bore down on everyone on the street. Anyone who wasn't a soldier or a part of Raven's group immediately began to back up and return to their homes in hurried silence. The girl who was near Efrideet and holding her Hawkmoon let go of the gun unconsciously and let it fall to the ground as she scurried back to her mother, who then quickly took her inside. The four guards who had been prepared to fight the people suddenly turned back to see the image of their king walking down the street with the two strongest beastmen in the kingdom walking behind him. The one on the left was a colorful toucan looking man who was tall and lanky, absolutely thin looking to the bone. He was taller than the king by three full feet. So while he looked thin and frail, his hight and demonic pressure made him the image of something straight out of a nightmare. The one on the right of the king was ferret... A giant ferret who walked on two legs like a human and standing at a foot taller than the king. While not huge, he was the second largest of the three. There was no deadly aura coming from this ferret man, but rather, a calm blankness. Almost like everything around him didn't exist. All past lives he has taken, and all future lives were not revealed in this person who treated killing like he treated breathing air. 

As soon as these three appeared the guardsmen, who at this point were the only ones left of the town still out on this road knelt down in front of him right in their places as he approached. He didn't need to say a word. After all, when his majesty appears, who dares to move without permission?! As he got about a hundred feet away, he stopped before the group and stared them down. 

With his scowl still on his face, he introduced himself. "Greetings, your eminency. I apologize for my mens lack of manners. Had I known you would be coming beforehand, I could have prepared a warmer welcome for you. You four!" The guardsmen rose to their feet and lifted their heads as they awaited their command. "Bring them to the palace! Lets welcome our guests properly! I bet they haven't eaten well in a long while.... Come, let us rest and then we can talk later over food and wine!"

The minotaur king burst out in uproarious and frivolous laughter as we invited the group to a feast. Of course, 'No' was not an acceptable answer. He was polite with his words, but his presence here only made one thing clear... That he had no problem ending their lives right here if they did not comply. Wether they wanted to or not, they would come to the palace for the feast...

 

As for the others, they were all ignored by the king. Past regular surveillance by the other beastmen soldiers of the king they were left tot heir own devices, although under constant scrutiny to see if they would slip up somehow. And like this, the beastmen waited for any chance they could to arrest these people...

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Raveena watched as the King himself emerged, powerful and strong. She retreated into the shadows—for she was not amongst the group—not truly. They were none the wiser and she preferred it this way. Cloaked and hunched, she retreated into the crowd that had amassed—and was just as quickly dispersing. It was easy to find a stoop, and the clouds that were lazily passing by overhead brought the promise of rain. It was eerie, the shadow that was cast as the Beast King took his prisoners—his guests as he called them, to the Keep.

She clutched a hand to her shawl and pulled her hood lower, obscuring the human features of her face. Your sun sets to rise again, she thought silently as she saw them off from a distance. It as a solemn prayer that they would make it to see the next day. Away she turned, the first lattices of fear like ice in her veins. Connecting and weaving, threading through her until it gripped her tightly. She had no way to know if she had condemned them or saved them. No, so long as they believed Raveena was among them, they would be safe. They pledged their lives to her, and they would carry out their duties. The anxiety nearly crippled her, the noblewoman staggered and sank to rest on the stoop—further adding to the façade of her supposed age. It was her hands that would give her away, she knew immediately. From her sleeves, she produced the pad and utensil she wrote with. Simple charcoal she had written in the elegant script. It was not like the spidery scrawl she wrote in fanciful loops to Rowan. This was cramped and hurried, frightened and jarring. A tug at her sleeve nearly undid her nerves, the scrawl an abrupt end with a single line scratched across.

It was the little girl from before that was so curious of Efrideet. Raveena swallowed her heart down her throat and shakily reached out to pay the girl on her head. Curious. Always curious. She pondered the oppressive regime, the inability to think. If you were intelligent, you were a threat. Better to be a mindless flock that responded to fear for cooperation than anything else. It seemed so innocent then, that curiosity—and Raveena admired it. The little girl took her charcoal stick, spinning around and holding it up. The Countess smiled tiredly, even as the little girl ran across the street to her beckoning mother. It was only when the shadow loomed over the women, and a guard snatched the now-squealing child that Raveena bolted upright. The color drained from her face as the mother’s worried cries turned to pleaded. The world seemed to tilt, and Raven felt the air leaving her.

Flogging?

“She won’t survive such a beating.”

“The poor child.”

“How could this happen?”

“Who is that?”

 

She was a child! It seemed barbaric. Cruel. The small crowd that gathered scattered like cockroaches. Raveena barely heard them, the world seemed to slow. What had she done? What had she caused?! The sound of the girl’s shrieking was lost on her as they dragged her away with haste. Tears as big as her wide eyes spilling, reaching out, the pencil dropping—and others shied away as if it would hex them—and in many ways, it seemed to.

“Where are they taking her?” The words were forced, pushed. Her lungs were working again but it was barely a whisper. She grabbed the weeping mother and knelt, only to be forcefully shoved back, “GET AWAY FROM ME!” It was a terrible cry and chills ran down Raveena’s spine, “THIS IS YOUR FAULT. YOU AND YOURS. MY ONLY DAUGHTER! MY ONLY DAUGHTER! ALETHEA!” For moments, the world was still again. Perhaps it had been the name. The child’s burning curiosity. Perhaps it was the heavy realization that it was her fault—hers and her own. That alone placed the responsibility on her shoulders. Raveena was on her feet in an instant, throwing the hood of her cloak back. She folded the paper in her half before tossing it into the breeze between building, “Find Rowan!” She spoke to no one, the paltry piece of paper tossed and turned, traveling at its own pace down the street. Though her legs felt like lead, she ran after them. Rain had begun to fall.

Her lungs burned, anxiety plagued her. Dirt and sweat she wore like war paint. All around she was given a wide berth—so even screamed as she tore down the street. They were so far ahead now, moving at a pace only a soldier could match. The narrow streets were giving birth to a large and open square—Raveena recalled seeing the entourage pass through here, into the open market. It was instead replaced by a terrified little girl and a very lethal looking whip. Raven shoved through the crowd, feeling the pangs of desperation. She exerted all the force she could. The whip slithered along the ground, preparing its strike. Raven felt cobbled stones pounding on her heels, slippery and dangerous. She was so close, so close!

Snake-like, the leather soared through the air, and Raven felt those same cobbled stones gliding along her hip and thigh as she slid along the ground, flinging the cape around to shield the girl as her arm snapped out, the searing sting and harsh crack of the whip leaving a welt along her forearm. Raven seize the tip and wound it around her arm to prevent it from being used again. Alethea burrowed herself under the cloak and into her arm. “This child is innocent in her crime!” She glared at the guard who was momentarily confused then angered by his whip being halted. Seven swords unsheathed at once as she let the child go. “As a guest I request you spare her of this.” The guard was an unruly-creature. Half boar, half man. His tusks jutting out as he leveled his gaze to glare at her, “And who are you,” He croaked angrily, “To make such requests?!”

“I am the Countess Raveena, I am here to see your King—and to slay him.”

That earned attention, a horrified gasp rippling through the crowds, and then a dull roar as the word traveled. The guards were moving in, clearly unconvinced of her claim, “By the might of Arun’daeraa—you will not touch this child.” She warned, a single ray of sun piercing the rain clouds to illuminate the square. The guards hesitated, but only for a moment, “You speak of Treason! Seize her at once!” Holding their line, Raveena uncovered Alethea and urged her to run. The guards were no longer interested in a petty crime of alien technology. She was an extremist, making bold claims that couldn’t possibly be so. They had just escorted the Countess with the King himself! No, but they would make an example of one who threatened the life of the Beast King. There was no struggle. No words. Only complete obedience as they forcibly bound her arms, covered her head with a sack and led her away. All her life as a solider, Raveena knew how this would go.

They would interrogate her.

She would reveal others, or her plans.

She would tell them everything they needed to know.

They would beat her until she broke and revealed the truth.

But that was what she wanted them to believe they would accomplish. It would be enough to bide time for the Lady in Red to make her move. Even through her left eye, Raveena could see as Kirena saw. Felt as Kirena felt. Second Skin was a gift among the Ar’el that served her—so that she may always be aware of what her spies knew. Kirena was the second most important member of the Ar’el save for Rowan himself. Four valiant individuals who were her closest allies, confidants and employees. Kirena, her most talented spy with her Glamour magic proved to pass herself off as a perfect replica of Raveena. She knew the words to speak, the pace to walk, the habits. Kirena was the most charismatic courtesan of Genesaris. Liberated slave, she became Raveena’s shadow—for whores heard tell of things that others did not. For now, she could watch from the safety of her cell until her time came. She would mouth the words that needed to be said, counting on Kirena to know and convey them.

For now, that would have to be enough.

---

“Your highness.” Kirena addressed the King, dipping into a well-practiced and formal curtsy. Her Enforcers followed suit out of respect. “We are guests here. Lower your weapons.” This was further instruction to her own, who acted on instinct to defend the noblewoman; reluctantly, they agreed. Despite the rumble of thunder and the beginnings of rain, the falling droplets glanced off and evaded the entire group—as though a barrier were in place. Perhaps this was the workings of the King, or one of his two escorts. The Bird Man, Kirena did not mind. He was a colorful sort she had never seen before, though the pressure she felt from him was her only annoyance. The Weasel-looking one, she did not like—for even at this distance, he smelled a musky scent she didn’t like.

She maintained the Glamour with no effort, her pace matching the soldiers. It had been the twist of a plan all along, though she knew things were bound to be awry. Raveena was somewhere watching and listening through Kirena, who had spent countless hours mastering her Ladyship’s ability to use Second Skin just for this moment. Through many adventures, it had served the two women well, “It is a pleasure to meet your acquaintance at long last. You honor us as guests to such a feast. I very much look forward to learning a great deal about your culture.” And your atrocities. Raveena was on her own now, for it would be some time before the Enforcers would arrive to help secure Himmelsfestung.

Be safe, my Lady. Bring hope to those who have none…

 

 

 

Part I: Concluded

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