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[Ravenspire] Finally.

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cntCfTv.png@roboblu @StarlingBird


"I hope she's enjoying herself. I was thinking of maybe giving her a sweet ricecake, if she's been good that is."

They did not matter. They should, but they don't, and so they are slightly ignored. They will titter and soak in the moment with hopes they'll find something scandelous, and they will. His hand on her waist - goodness, my! She looks just lovely - just lovely ey? tsktsk. Work for his paycheck - what exactly are they doing? 

Doesn't matter. Cosima hears none of the whispers between sips of wine and she certainly doesn't see the longing gazes of the men just waiting to swarm her. She doesn't hear or see any of it because none of it has any affect on her life, and even if it had, why should it matter? The words of her lessers should not dictate what she does. If they have nothing better to do than gossip about her interactions with Wren, then they can sit on their thumbs for all she cares.

She was in the middle of unwrapping said sweet cake (something she's been hoarding while preoccupied with the Duke? or whatever his name and title is with the unique nose and clear eyes) when he said a few words that made her stop and look at him with a frown.

Perhaps she did forget more often than not that Wren is not a toy she can play with when wanted, then later discard when done. His job is to protect her, to be the ever overbearing shadow attached to her person. Maybe it is disrespectful for her to treat him with her open kindness, something that she's never really thought about or even cared for. It's just a natural thing to be happy when you see someone you like and welcome into the fold of friendship, but maybe that's too much.

It made her feel suddenly awkward and shameful. The last thing she ever wants to do is make Wren feel meaningless and useless to her, especially when he's neither of those things. It had been so easy to just be friendly with him, pay him compliments and make sure that he's taken care of; Cosima doesn't see him like she sees the paid help. It had made her incredibly happy to have their outfits match, but maybe that was too much on her part. It didn't seem to really phase her that maybe she shouldn't wave her hands wildly to garner his attention and yell his name casually to the wind; then, none of these things appeared to be inappropriate. 

Her curls seemed to turn flat and the sparkle to her eyes dulled. He's not wrong, and maybe that's what hurts the most. Just because she hadn't thought about it at the time, there is a line between them that shouldn't be edged. What he has to say is true and she should be a bit more respectful, especially if it makes him feel a little more comfortable being paired with her. Maybe she should ask Oly and Rys how they do it, but ... when you really think about those two, they're more like a bickering married people. 

"I make my own decisions Wren. You and especially this crowd will not be the determining factors in how I conduct myself, but I do respect what you have to say and I should be more understanding ... more royal."

She thrust the cake towards him, making sure not to wrinkle the pretty paper it had come in. Cricket likes to play with pretty and bright things, so Cosima knows the lovely dragon would appreciate something to play with. Those are the kinds of small details you think about when you're friends with someone. Her smile is still apparent but not as whimsical, because that's not appropriate right now - she doesn't want him to wither under her exuberant ways, you know. 

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@Aleksei @Alexei @Pasion Pasiva @The Hummingbird

Raphael couldn’t help but lean into the Lion’s touch as if testing the strength of her grip, the weight of her being. She was unusually warm for a mortal, but it was not with the faith, fervor, and passion of religion as he was. This was something different: graceful, lovely, and inviting. It was the welcoming smile of an old friend after far too many years had passed; the tender, silken caress of your lover after the trials and tribulations of the day. It was the sun rising when, in the depths of your despair, you were certain it would not.

The Empress spoke her peace – to which he acknowledged with another of his charming, devilish smiles - and then moved on to the next soul in a long line of guests, all vying for her attention with sweet promises, gifts, and countless well-wishes. How fortunate, then, that there was only one gentleman competing with Raphael for the darling princess’s affection.

With a speculative, almost pleased shade darkening his merlot-hued eyes, Raphael glanced up at the guardian as he so graciously supplied in her stead. He studied the man for a long moment, quiet, reserved, his judgments far better hidden than the man’s own. That kind of ire – it gave off a particular taste to the atmosphere, hot almost like a spice far too intense for any reasonable palate. But there was something else there, festering behind the well of rage bubbling inside him. Disgust? Shame? How that Corvinus would allow such a man to shadow his daughter so closely. “Mm, it must be difficult…” To hold such bold opinions of those surrounding you, but be so utterly powerless as to find yourself a slave—a pet, even—to one of them. “… I’m so sorry.” he added with a salacious smile, thoroughly amused with the subject.

As if she had pried into the elder’s thoughts herself, Olympia, the precious flower she was, made a show of her status as a princess; and all at once, reminded all those close by how far beneath her the guardian truly was. With a calm and almost dismissive pat to his hand still firmly planted on her shoulder (which every bit appeared a paw against the small girl’s figure), the princess asserted herself as royalty ought to.

“You needn’t apologize for him,” Raphael replied smoothly. “It’s a guard dog’s duty to protect its master, even if that means being disruptive with their barking at all hours of the night.” The elder’s hallowed red gaze flickered toward the girl’s guardian, almost in challenge. “But yes, I’m quite sure he means no harm. They may bark, and they may even show their fangs, but they know better than to bite without their master’s command. And that, Your Grace, is the difference between a well-trained hound and a wolf.”

Raphael’s mockery bled away as his expression turned serious. Instinct turned his eyes aside, his gaze following the path his wife had taken just moments ago. “I am rather excited,” he answered the young princess with a touch of distance to his baritone. “I have lived my entire life for this moment, Your Grace. I am more than willing accept any and all responsibilities that are tethered to it. But I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t scared. Pregnancies can be… Complicated, something I am sure you will learn when you are yet a woman.” His eyes returned to Olympia, and for that moment, she was all that he saw. “Men like your father and I—well, there is no shortage of people that would seek to cause harm to us or those we love…”

The elder felt it again, sharper this time.

With a nasal scoff, and all but forcing a smile, Raphael rose to his feet. “Unfortunately, it would seem one such complication has arisen, and I must tend to my wife. But I will be sure to return, even if only to continue our conversation. You are such pleasant company, Your Grace.” Reaching out toward the child with his pale hand once again, he rolled his fingers above her right shoulder, just beyond her peripheral and close enough to her ear to feel the air weave around and between his fingers with the gesture. Presenting the same hand just a moment later, he held a gorgeous rose pinched in his grasp, its petals blacker than ink and shimmering like starlight. “For you,” he explained as he handed it to her. The moment its stem touched the skin of her fingertips, a petal flourished a dark, vibrant red. “By the time this rose is wholesome and properly red, I shall return with the hope you’ll find it in your heart to grant me a dance.” He glanced at the Kadian Emperor, nodding. “Corvinus.”

Then he was off, making his way through the crowd to find his beloved.

Raphael found his empress out alone on the balcony, curled over a potted plant and retching her dinner into its soil. A frown creased the elder’s thin lips as he watched in mute displeasure, now committed to seeing her punished for this blatant waste. Raphael’s blood was a precious commodity, not some common feeding Maiden's or stag’s crude bounty. Gabriela drank freely from a deep well of practice, knowledge, and power, only to squander it over her pitiful sentiments toward the animals of the realm? How terribly ungrateful you can be, my love, he mused morosely in the privacy of his thoughts.

When next the elder moved, he gathered up the thick, luxurious tresses of her raven hair that had fallen free during the violent spasms of her body and tucked them neatly back into place. Then he settled both of his large, smooth hands along the curve of her back and rubbed gently, lovingly, easing her into the motions. The tapered pressure of his nails easily pressed through the dense fabric of her dress, raking at her skin as they glided to and fro. “Shh,” he cooed sweetly as she continued to sob and heave. There would be time to spend his ire, when next a more appropriate venue presented itself. But for now, the elder played his role as the concerned, loving husband that he was. “Shh, my love. It’s all going to be alright, I promise.”

Edited by King

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@Aleksei @King @Pasion Pasiva @Roen @ODSTDRAGON

Corvinus returned his wife's smile with one of his own, albeit a quick one that only she could see. It was not often he expressed himself in so open a forum, though it seemed his Lion's happiness was beginning to effect his usually somber mood. If Corvinus was the Mávros Ílios, she was the Chrysó Ílio. Both vastly different, yet absolutely unable to break orbit from each other.

If Corvinus was bothered by Raphael's affections towards his daughter, he showed no sign of it. He was one who taught his children to stand on their own, their parents offering only advice or a hand to gather them up when the fell. They had already grown beyond the need for discipline, many of them having already fallen into their great responsibilities with no more need for the calm nurturing warmth of their mother or the cold and stern guidance of their father. 

His thoughts were interrupted by first the quick retreat of Gabriela who seemed to be stricken by an illness, and then the arrival of Rysorian to whom he gave a long look. His eyes held all the expression of obsidian, black and flinty in the light. He would have to discuss the man's attitude, especially towards those of superior rank. His focus returned to the Eastern Emperor, his expression saying the guardian was not his choice. As ever he was beginning to think he gave too much ground to his wife.

While Raphael resumed his conversation with Olympia and her guardian his eyes travelled along the crowd, falling on Celine and meeting her gaze. The Emperor gave her a slight, but respectful nod of recognition. It had been a shame to lose her, a Soulseeker was a valuable force within his military. Trained by Prince; or Grand Duke as he called himself, Deiter. Perhaps later he would have to have the Duke greet her.

His attention broke away from her as his wife directed him to a man in white, who seemed rather eager to do business with them. He had caught sight if the Patian king, though it seemed Leoa was intent on having him deal with the fiend later rather than sooner. Straightening his coat, he advanced through the crowd to meet the stranger. "Welcome to Ravenspire, do you have business with my Empire as well?" He asked, getting to business, better to get through all of these guests so he could enjoy what party would be left with his wife.

Edited by Alexei

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If looks could kill... well, the Outsider, Roen Jaeger would be on fire.

Fact of the matter was, James probably could set the Devil on fire just by looking at him, and so kept his murderous hatred under inhuman control. This was a wedding reception, not a warzone. The last time James had seen Roen was when he was fleeing from another formal event, fleeing justice for his crimes of genocide.

Of course it was never a good idea to fixate too long on one person, especially in a venue as crowded as this one. Haphazardly clutched, the pelisse he had draped over him fell when the young lady bumped into him.

She was quite pretty, James thought, allowing her to fetch the fur. Although many, many attractive women were here at the ball, the warrior had a particular penchant for brunettes, and he was capable of being a charmer.

"No no, I should've been more aware" he replied smoothly to try to set her at ease, his voice low and soft, yet it carried clearly despite the din of neighboring conversations. When she handed him back the fur after a brief examination, he quirked a corner of his lips and chuckled, "Don't worry, I was looking to retire it anyway".

He was pleasant enough. Only a master could see that his smile did not quite reach his eyes however, although that was no fault of Darim's.

"Hells, I need the distraction", James reflected. Anything to keep him from dwelling on how to break the Devil's face and get out without pissing off an entire nation. That would be quite a public relations nightmare for the Order.

"Here, you spilled some on yourself as well", James turned away to reach out for a passing member of the wait staff, "Excuse me, but could you please bring this young miss a damp white cloth? There's been a minor mishap, thank you" and the waitress nodded before scurrying off to procure the hand towel.

Turning to face Darim now, James gave her a wry smile, one that was genuine this time. "I'm afraid if you set out to ruin my outfit, you'll be coming off from it worse off... Miss...?" he trailed off, seeking her name.


Edited by Fierach

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Hate, whether righteous or entirely unfounded, was a strong emotion, and Rysorian’s had reached critical levels. Only through a tremendous will did he manage to keep his breathing even, and his malevolent glare hidden beneath an indifferent stare. He concentrated on what he liked most as this disgusting Umbra royalty likened him to nothing more than an annoying dog. One fist was clenched at his side as the other remained possessively on Olympia, and though he wished mightily to strike the king in the face, the only sign of his tension was in a slight tightening of his fingers on the princess’s shoulder.

There is a difference, too, he thought heatedly, between mere ignorant fools and true scum like you, O’ King. He glanced towards the Umbrian King’s wife rushing off, and thought he might become ill himself at the thought of the bitch spawning some monster to carry on the royal line’s murderous ways. His teeth gritted as he imagined how she must have laughed joyfully when her husband ripped the horn from the unicorn’s head, how she must have applauded the massacre of all the innocent beasts that had done nothing to her.

His eyes tore themselves away from the retreating King’s back to fall on the black rose Olympia now held. She would get to look at the flower for only a second before his hand whipped out, snatching the rose from her hand viper-quick. It took all he had not to crush the flower before her eyes. Instead, he lifted the rose and examined it with sight and smell, until he confirmed that it was nothing more than just that – a plant. One that was unnaturally dark and might change colors, but a plant, harmless to the princess.

He narrowed his sharp, green eyes at Olympia. “Do not fall for his temptations, Your Grace. You are worthy of better than him” Even you.

He reached out and slid the stem of the rose through her hair, fixing it just above the jeweled tiara she wore. It was a stunning addition, the single red petal standing out like a small magical flame. He studied his work, nodding once in satisfaction. He aspired, then, to let no one else have her.

Dance with me,” he hissed.

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Weak fingertips caressed the edge of the potted plant. The terracotta material was cool, and it soothed her warm forehead as she rested her face against the curving like that separated the bloodied dirt from everything else. She had fallen to her knees, and she was resting now in a doubled over position with her eyes closed and her lips half parted, breathing soft and easy the damp smell of earth and the distant fragrance of perfume mingled with a variety of alcohols. It was a heady concoction that nearly made her stomach twist and turn in on itself again. Without much control of her bodily functions she felt the muscles in her abdomen clench tight and her diaphragm push up. A terrible and painful dry heave shook her entire frame until fresh tears were forced out of her eyes and she was once more left quietly whimpering against her only friend at this awful event, the lonely little potted plant alone in the corner of this abandoned balcony.


She didn’t know the extent of what transpired inside the grand ballroom, and she didn’t care. Along with Raphael’s poisonous blood, she seemed to have also lost all desire to go on with this charade. A singular thought sprang into her mind. She was here in a room full of powerful people -- surely there was someone to whom she could implore for help. Maybe even Corvinus and his wife, maybe they would listen if only she told them everything and begged for sanctuary. Once upon a time, Corvin had loved Orisia -- or at the very least felt something akin to responsibility for it. Not for her sake, but for the sake of the land itself, which held wonders and mysteries the likes of which no other country in Valucre had ever seen, or would ever see. If she told them that he was a vicious man -- that he had threatened the unborn child in her womb -- that she lived in constant fear of his heavy hand.


Her eyes squeezed shut and black tears pierced through the corner of her sealed lids. It took just about everything she had not to scream. Desperation had turned to anger, and even her sadness and her disgust was transforming to rage. The helplessness of her situation was a weight that was only growing heavier and heavier. It wasn’t enough that he had her. It wasn't enough that she was under the yoke of his power -- a toy to his every perverse, and now political, desire. It wasn’t enough because even all of that didn’t keep Orisia safe.


What were a thousand horses to a man who had never spent so much as a single sleepless night with stable-hands trying to help a mare deliver a foal? Had he ever been elbows deep inside a magnificent creature trying to birth its baby? What did he know of raising those creatures, of seeing them set free to run wild in their ancestral plains -- nothing, he knew nothing, and cared even less. Life was meaningless to him, save for what personal gain he could make off of it.


And now his shadow fell across her and she felt how her blood ran cold and deadly.


“Would that I could purge every last drop of your blood from my veins. I would cut myself open, slice every last passage that you have burned your way through. I’d do that and more to rid myself of you…”


The words were weak, a mere whisper that even he would strain to hear. But though they came from trembling lips, there was an edge to them that could not be denied. He wanted to break her. So badly, he wanted to break her -- but every injury done to those she loved, and the land she cherished, only served to make her see that he would never be satisfied. He was not the sort of man with an end goal in mind. He would push and push, not in search of boundaries -- but rather to force them to extend beyond their limits, and then even farther than that.


A thousand horses today.


A thousand people tomorrow...


He could not love her if he did not love her land -- not when it was her very blood that had brought it back. Raphael failed to see the one thing that the Great Devourer and even the selfish Devil had seen. Gabriela was Orisia, and Orisia was Gabriela -- and the thousand slaughtered horses might as well have been a thousand bloody slashes against her own throat.


“Shh…” she was gathered up in his arms, a wide embrace of strength that she did not attempt to break from. There were fingers combing through her hair, pushing back the dark-chocolate locks to fold behind her ears. He was rubbing her back, scratching at her marred flesh beneath her lovely dress. And she knew in that moment that no one here would care about her plight. No one would hear her, or grant her sanctuary, or fight for Orisia -- even if she offered her life in exchange. Her life had no more meaning, not beyond what Raphael allowed it to have. “Shh, my love. It’s all going to be alright, I promise.”


There was only one person in the world, only one creature left who might strike a bargain to help her rid Orisia of the plague that was Raphael Bartolome. But she would have to find him -- find a way to talk to him. Little did she know that that very man had just entered the party. However, Raphael's curse remained fix and she was unaware, as if his existence no longer pivoted in time with her own.


She peered up and over her shoulder at him. He looked so handsome -- so put together and so full of concern. For a moment -- for just a split second -- it looked like he was actually worried about her. It filled her with sadness, and it showed in the way her angry eyes suddenly filled with hurt. He’d never care enough to look at her like that. It was all pretend. It wall for show, so that even the people they didn’t know were watching, could see that he loved her so very much. Any word spoken against him here would be considered a heinous lie.


She was alone.


So utterly alone.


“I want to rest,” she said suddenly -- a request made by trembling lips and freshly moistened eyes. “I don’t feel well. I feel sick.” Her voice was small and afraid, and her anger lost its edge to the ever growing fear of isolation that he was so masterfully implanting in her. She had never feared loneliness, she had always preferred to be alone. And now the mere thought of it made her so afraid that she could not stop trembling. The nightmares would come if he wasn’t around to chase them away. The horrible nightmares. “I just want to rest…” she closed her eyes, she touched her forehead to his arm and settled against him as well as she could while they both knelt on the floor.

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His armor gently clattered with each step as the An'She walked silently beside him, the movement of her hips shifting fluidly from side to side like the body of a cobra; all she was missing was its magnificent crown.  The bottom of her dress fluttered like the kimono of the painted geisha of far-off Weland, light and delicate, as if her step hadn't even touched the ground.  Her dark sable locks, wound in elegant braids and and draped down her back in such a fashion that she'd captured the tresses from Venus, herself, inked to fashion in the shades common to Hades and his light-forsaken realm.  While the vampires of Umbra sported a nearly porcelain-white pallor of their skin, the diurnal mortals that compromised Kadia were of fair complexions, though none had seemed so dark and kissed by the sun as Rou, skin nearly the color of the cinnamon fragrance that accompanied her.  Even dressed in all black one could not nearly call her monochrome, for the ruby-red pin of the Umbral insignia at her breast matched the color of her plush, painted lips.  To say that she stood out among the guests back in the ballroom or out in the gardens was an understatement, but after present company could not wholly be attributed to herself.

Lean beneath his armor, Deiter carried himself with the confidence of a true and gallant knight, considerate and gentlemanly as he escorted Rou by a linked arm.  But the grin he wore on his face was proud and amorous, with the sort of suave that made her assume he'd be strutting through the gardens, were she not slowing him down.  His black hair regaled a youth not yet beyond his prime, still upon the staunch ascension of life, and even the scar across his nose was somewhat charming, like the way his cheeks dimpled when he flashed that presumptive grin at her.  For his position, as well, the Grand Duke was hailed by nearly every passersby.  "Do they always bow so low to even the noble houses in Kadia?" Rou privately wondered, as she'd passed another pair that had bowed and curtsied in what seemed like far more decorum than just a polite greeting.

A shadow cast over them in the fleeting evening rays, the remnants of the sun's day dwarfed by the penumbra of a large airship that flew overhead.  Rou drew closer to Deiter's captive arm as she took in the sight above her; even the hull's designs were intricate and unmistakably new.  It wasn't until it gained some distance that she could make out the whole arrangement, from its slender bow to the heat-packed engines at the stern that it truly resembled a pristine work of art.  With a sidelong glance that followed Deiter's thoughts he shared aloud, she found in common the use of the pronoun 'her' alike Umbra's esteemed Captain Fowler, ships being regarded as if a child they'd birthed and raised with care.   "It's quite the marvel, your Grace," she commended him politely, although her stomach turned briefly at the thought of flying.  She cocked half a smile at him, as his investments unearthed themselves.  "Grand Duke of Kadia, an accomplished knight, and an airship commander?  You're just full of surprises, aren't you?"

Being led further into the gardens and very close to their destination, Deiter slipped from her grasp in order to hold her by the hand, her fingertips gently balanced in his glove, clutching tightly.  Once they'd arrived, the Duke paused only to press another kiss to her knuckles-- he'd find that the seemingly dainty digits were much more calloused than the refined, silky skin of a noblewoman, a testament to the labors and hard work that brought her to the esteemed position.  Rou could feel her heart thumping in her chest as his eyes cast an upward glance over the horizon of her knuckles, nearly looking through her, so caught aback by the warmth of his lips on her skin that she'd inadvertently forgotten to breathe.  Suddenly, her dress had felt much tighter, and felt a warm flush to her cheeks, a phantom touch as he'd slipped away from her.  For the last several years the Buxom Bandit had been plying her wiles to Kings who were far from easy targets, thinking that her youth and beauty had already peaked and nearly reached its end, but the flattery of a young mortal Duke was all it had taken to make Rou feel like her youth was not yet spent.  With confidence renewed, Rou cleared her throat behind a cautious hand to cover her ruby lips, and quelled the blush in her cheeks.

She paid careful attention to Deiter, who stood in the center of what appeared to be a memorial, for a small stone plaque etched in words she hadn't yet cared to read.  A silver aura spread from him, branching out in all directions and seeping like a mist, an energy that called out to the magics that invisibly lingered in this place.  By Rou's side, an orb of light flickered-- circular and gold, nearly transparent though with an apparent core at its center-- and then another appeared, followed by another, and another.  Her amber eyes widened and lips parted in awe as the garden began to glow, as if lit up by strings of lights strewn across in their private little square of the garden.  She could feel the way they reverberated and hummed with presence and heat, as if she were surrounded by a crowd of people, yet there were only two bodies made out within the brush.

"All of them?" Rou asked, almost disbelieving, as more and more of the souls began to populate "Patians, and the mercenaries, too?"  She turned in stupefied circles, stunned as she regarded the sheer number that truly resembled the fallen she'd shared that gruesome battlefield with.  Though their spirits were all that remained, Rou could feel them.  She raised her hands to her mouth, covering her cheeks delicately with her fingers, every so often passing a digit over the bottom swell of her lip.  She resisted the shedding of tears, though her eyes shone in the golden glow light, threateningly watery.  "Lady Leoa did all this?" she asked, the lady's reputation and accolades seeming to excel by the minute, in a way that had made Rou truly, and honestly, thankful.  "I hardly know what to say... your Empress is most gracious..."  It had taken one Empress to clean up another one's mess-- if Gabriela had cared about the men who died on her island nearly half as much as she cared about her horses, maybe Rou would have reason not to regard her as a heartless monster.

Too many nights she'd been haunted by their memory, the horrors she'd seen alongside the dead and dying, the guilt and grief that came with the loss of those she was forced to fight alongside-- and the irreplaceable anger from the disrespect of their sacrifice.  They'd been rescued from that awful place, and while not being able to be put to rest, had their own Eden to reside in, safe, and remembered.  "Thank you, your Grace," Rou said finally, with a heartfelt smile paid Deiter for his kindness, "My memories may yet find peace knowing that their souls have been delivered to Kadia.  I should like to share my gratitude with her Highness, too, when the time permits."

Edited by Narcissa

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