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The Hound

[Nymeria] About Damn Time (The Return of a King)

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Breathe.

That simple word repeated itself at a mile a minute, desperately bouncing about within the skull of the man whose consciousness gave it life, hammering away it's message as he fearfully convulsed in his bed. 

Breathe.

At last, the word and it's meaning took root. The man calmed down long enough to inhale deeply, feeling the familiar sensation of bubble-like sacs expanding at the sides of his neck, and water being first forced through, and then expelled out as the sacs deflated. This cycle continued at a rapid pace, before eventually slowing down and reaching a more steady pace. As feelings of terror left him, and sleep gradually made way for wakefulness, it all quickly came back to him.

Shcxay Signowr di Nymeria reluctantly recalled the nightmare that had left him in his breathless state. Memories of his fateful descent into the deepest reaches of the trenches outside of Nymeria had a tendency to haunt him, the feeling of being crushed by the pressures below forever etched into his mind. But that of course, was in the past. Nothing could be done of it now. The fresh pain in his legs on the other hand, were not. And there was little doubt in Shcxay's mind that a trip to see Juni would remedy it for the time being.

Sitting upright in his bed, Shcxay looked over to the corner of his chamber, turning his attention to where it met with the ceiling. Raising a hand, he groggily muttered the correct incantations under his breath, the dense fog of sleep clouding his mind and forcing him to give the simple spell much more effort than it typically required, almost causing him to forget to

Breathe.

He caught himself, afterwards returning to the spell with renewed vigor invoked by his near skipped breath.

A small, barely visible shimmer at the corner of the room appeared, and Shcxay was pulled up and out of his bed towards it, before being dispelled as he reached the center of the room. He floated down to the floor, now resting on its surface much like an average creature would on dry land, his mass now bound by the larger gravitational spell keeping those within the Mage Corps.' headquarters firmly affixed to the ground. His legs ached as the weight of his body pushed down on them, and his shoulders felt heavy as the apparatus around his neck performed it's life-enabling duty. The device was a strange thing, resembling a cross between a chitinous exoskeleton, a chest-plate, and a bulky life vest. It was elegant in it's design, but incredibly unwieldy in appearance and practice.

Shcxay limped over to a closet on the far side of his chamber, and began to adorn himself in his uniform. As a high-ranking officer of the Mage Corps., Shcxay's uniform consisted of a primarily silver hued light armor, accented with a light blue in places. The uniform would typically end there, but there was more to his role than that of a mere officer. Shcxay also served the important role of Nymeria's Grand Inquisitor, and both out of a sign of respect, and an understandable need for him to feed his ego, the position called for more formal dress. Over his armor, Shcxay slipped on a dark grey cloak, while atop his head he placed a circlet of jagged coral, colored a deep emerald.

Taking a moment to view himself in a mirror within the closet, Shcxay briefly entertained thoughts that had long since been eradicated after his incident in the trenches. His circlet did look an awful lot like a crown, did it not? What would his father have thought of him if he had come back from his trek in one piece, rather than the broken man that he is today? What doors could have been open to him that were perhaps now closed?

Breathe.

These thoughts would help no one. With a slam of his closet door, Shcxay banished them back from whence they came, and lurched his way out of his chamber, down the halls of the Mage Corps. headquarters, and out onto the streets of Nymeria, his beautiful home, a destination set in mind.

_

Shcxay floated through the colorful canvas township that was the Faliga, having given up on attempting to limp the whole way a quarter of the way there. Searching the crowd of huts and tents for Juni's abode, he eventually laid his eyes upon it, and steered his way towards it, drifting through it's flaps to see a rather unexpected sight. Sitting on the floor, seemingly fast asleep, was Ryxchra Alrandwe di Firdana. The King on the Waves himself. His Uncle. It had been somewhere around ten years since Shcxay had last seen this man, and it pained him to remember that it had been before he was resigned to his current state. What would he think, seeing his nephew, a young man of such potential, a bastard well on his way to proving his worth, now nothing more than a cripple, no more fit to live in the ocean than he was to live on land, his royal blood sorely lacking. Dark thought after thought collided around his skull, distracting him, consuming him, until his body betrayed him.

Breathe.

Edited by TheWilySpookster

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iPOkA4T.pngThere was a time when she loved to sit in the sun, surrounded by precious flowers and unruly weeds. She can almost remember the smell of fresh grass, and the scent of salt carried by the wind. These brief memories painted a world forbidden to be blessed by the daylight and darklight moon, leaving her feeling ... needy, almost too reminiscent. It's not often she indulges these memories with attention, but when she does, she was always bereft of color. 

Tonight, after a long days worth of attending to her fellow Nymerians and ensuring the proper teachings to her followers, she allowed herself to roam the halls of memory. Exhausted she slept the instant her precious head hit her pillow, forgetting the various trinkets and baubles attached to her person. The strand of imperfect pearls hung on her fine waist reflected the sway of the water; the shells hanging from the same strand floated and danced each time Juni moved in her sleep. You'd think such an uncomortable piece of jewelry would be bothersome, but her exhaustion made her numb to any nuisances.

Behind closed eyes she was dreaming about the garden and he man who had entertained her during that time. Something happened, something so gut wrenching painful that after she handed the man a plucked flower ... darkness. The darkness clawed at her with eager hands, and it suffocated her - an odditty now. Behind the haze of memories she understood that this is nothing any more, just a healed wound scarred over after many years. It still made her feel the searing pain in her gut; the tangible ache on her thighs, and the creeping pressure crawling from her knees to her shoulders.

Instantly, her eyes opened and ajusted quickly to take in the sight of her home. What she saw and what she felt destroyed the calm nightmare, causing her to suddenly wonder if this sight was another trick of the mind. 

Curious hands reached out to touch the pale strands, rubbing the silky stuffs between nimble fingers. Then, fascinated, she touched the ridge of his nose then the curve of his lips (lips too mean and stern looking), before poking the dip in his covered chin. Dazed by this tangible dream, Juni twirled a strand of his hair and stared at it in wonderment. Rxychra, carved from marble and shaped by time, visiting her dreams? As pleased as she is to have such a magnificent creature floating in her mind, she couldn't help but wonder why.  

But there's something different about this dream - Maro. The leafy-sea dragon was floating before her, his beady little eyes looking at her with some concern. As if it were made from fire, she dropped Ryx's hair and looked down at the man, not the dream, sleeping on her floor. She was exuberant, enthused, elated! All these things!

Instantly she was up, alive and awake; Maro quickly became entangled in her mass of hair shown to be decorated with a crown of pearls and jewels. Bare from the waist of, the only decorations she wore on her arm were intricate markings dedicated to the man on her floor; beneath her breasts a beautiful, feminine drawing of lace, which drew any onlookers attention. Unabashed she threw herself atop Rxy, who by this time may of woken up, but if not he'd feel himself be assaulted - but only briefly.

Her onslaught of attention, which would be a peppering of kisses, hugs, and words of love, are interrupted by the arrival of another. Shcxay, his brow and jaw proud, his eyes full of depth, floated there at her door. Stunned, she wondered what time it was, and why there was so much pain spilling from the young man - she could guess though. Shcxay has visited her more than a handful of times for his legs, but she hated to just assume that's why he's here now, fearing that being so eager would insult him. 

"Shcxay!"

Juni called out, reaching for him.

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"May! May!" Someone was calling for her. It sounded as if it was coming from far away... 

"May!" 

She suddenly realized that she was dreaming. She opened her eyes and stared into the deep blue eyes of Luna. Amaya blinked a few times, trying to focus. She was sitting with her back leaned against the totem pole that she was supposed to be painting, but it was still bare. Luna laughed and poked at her tail with her paintbrush, leaving a blue spot.

"You'd better get to work now, you're falling behind." She went back to her own totem of which she had already painted a great deal. Amaya rubbed her eyes with a groan. 

"I'm sorry. I was up practicing all night." She stretched and yawned, then flipped the end of her tail a few times to get her circulation flowing. 

Less than half of the young woman's tail was covered by a skirt that was weaved in a thin, silver-like fabric. If she had had legs at the current time, it would reach around mid-thigh. She was wearing nothing else, not even jewelry of any sort. Amaya preferred simplicity; she preferred that nothing would serve as a distraction when she danced - or even in general. She preferred for her motions, her expressions, her own look to speak for itself. Her long, blonde hair floated around her, since she hadn't bothered tying it up. It moved along with the movements in the water, sometimes leaving her light, unmarred skin bare, sometimes covering it up. There wasn't the slightest shadow of a smile on her lips, but her eyes were shining. She was looking forward to the festival - as well as laying eyes upon their long lost king. Even though she had seen him before - he was their king after all - the memory was a bit faded to her. She had only been fifteen years old when he disappeared, barely a woman yet.

She turned towards her totem with a slight frown, picked up her paintbrush and sighed. At the moment she felt less than inspired. She closed her eyes, trying to clear her mind and go with the first thing that came to it. The sound of music nearby was distracting, though mostly in a she-wanted-to-join-and-dance-kind of way. Luna always said that she had a tendency to want to do the exact opposite of what she needed to do; when she needed to rehearse the dances, she was inspired to paint, and the other way around. That was the reason for her exhaustion - due to postponing she had needed to rehearse all night.

She opened her pale-green eyes and dipped her brush in green paint, then led it to the pole. She was thinking too much, and she knew it. When she came too far into her own head, she had trouble getting out - and being inspired. 'Don't think, just do,' she thought, then smiled a bit - a small pull in the corner of her mouth - at the irony. A line on the pole. Then another. She took a deep breath, the saltwater pleasantly tickling her tongue, and painted. She tried to focus on the cause of the festival and their celebration; tried to imagine what it had been like for their king to be away from his home, his family, his kingdom, for ten years. The sadness, the loneliness. There was beauty in these emotions, too, sometimes even more than the happier ones.

Change of color. Now red. She no longer heard the music or the scattered talk and laughter around her; she saw images in her mind, transferred them to the pole. She didn't realize that she had been holding her breath until she suddenly gasped for it. This pulled her back to reality. She looked around and smiled at Luna who was starring at her with a grin.

"It's not fair! I've been at this far longer than you, and yours is already better than mine!"

Amaya took a step back with a flip of her tail to have a better look at what she had created. It wasn't finished yet, but she knew now where she wanted it to lead. She wanted it to have feeling; to show both the brutality and the sadness she imagined in the journey of Rxychra Alrendwe di Firdana. She just hoped that others would able to see it, as well.

Edited by Tia Dalma

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"The penalty for espionage is execution. This applies to every citizen of every class barring the functionality of the Psyren faction, which maintains the dignity, integrity and loyalty to the diarchy rule under jurisdiction of the King in the Waves. Upon review of evidence, a secondary form of punishment may accompany the final punishment. Upon delegation, the presiding King of their domain may exercise the full extent of their martial law prior to execution."

- Concerning the Fury of the Seas Constitutional Jurisdiction, as outlined in the Nymerian Constitution of Diarchy rule

 

The pads of her fingers skimmed the etchings of his shoulder’s muscles, nails raking upwards as their bodies shifted. Those fingers coiled at the hair along the nape of her captor’s neck as she forced his head back. Rahab was perched in his lap—he was an Adonis if ever she knew one. He was all energy and zeal and lust. He carried her like she was nothing, and they had lost themselves to the throes of passion far too many times.

She studied him, her pale, lilac eyes raking him from head to toe. She caressed the hard line of his jaw and purred thoughtfully, pondering which part of him would please her next. She was a voluptuous creature of unparalleled grace, seamlessly twisting herself around to perch in his lap from her straddled position. Rahab remained nestled against his muscled thighs and came to rest her back against his chest as he fondly stroked his fingers up the length of her own muscled thigh.

“You are my throne now.” She dictated. He brushed her hair aside, and it pooled over her shoulder in prismatic colors. His lips trailed along the nape of her neck, his hands wandering. Rahab found herself annoyed in that instant. This throne was greedy now. She was bored by him, he gave her nothing. The arch of his hips would grind her plush bottom against his groin, the press of twitching, throbbing desire against naked skin intentional.

Then he worked upwards, letting her feel the heel of his palms along her curves, his own nails skimming the underside of her breasts as he encircled his arms around her. He seemed all too fixated on them, needlessly fondling. His calloused thumbs were rough and ungraceful, but he relished in the notion he pleased her. Let those be his last pleasant thoughts.

It was not until her doors burst open that Rahab unceremoniously peeled herself from her silent lover, whose hands still groped at her rear end, peering around her supple body to observe the intruder. “Your Highness,” It was a herald, and he was breathless, “I-it is your brother! The King has returned!” Rahab felt the shock before she expressed it—and by way of expression she nodded coolly, “Very well, you know what must be done. Prepare everything—leave nothing out of place.” She turned on her lover as the herald bowed out, perched upon his lap, her lips skimming his own teasingly.

For the first time, he voiced his concern, “Is it wise to be seen with me, princess? My disapproval of your brothers and their reign, certainly—.” Rahab pressed a finger to his lips and shushed him, “Why do you think you are here my love? I do as I please, conspirator. She nipped at his jawline with fervor, feeling the coils of his muscles tighten with hunger beneath her as she pulled away. Her mind was elsewhere--another man, another time. A time before her brother, a time before everything came crashing down around her.

“You’re here because you are exactly where I want you to be. I had you removed from your cell because it is to my pleasurable benefit.” She crafted the half-truth carefully, “You think I am satisfied with my brother’s return? My mate is dead because I was called to war, that is not so easily forgiven.” There was a chuckle in ear her from him, but he did not readily touch her--she would not have let him, “What is said about you is true, then.” Yes, what they say is what they want to believe. She knew the hidden meaning behind his words;  “You have a heart of darkness in you.” The words were murmured along the curve of her ear, chills filling her.

“I’ve no doubt we could take the throne with you as Queen.” Such treasonous thoughts.

Queen Rahab Alrandwe di Firdana, the Fury of the Sea.” Such poisoned ambitions.

“I have laced fear, dissatisfaction and malcontent in plain sight.” His words turned Rahab around, her cold gaze watching him pace. He was young enough, an unassuming soldier who undoubtedly held a grudge, but she was no fool. “You’re not just a conspirator.” Rahab realized, “You were a spy, first. What made you come out of hiding, little eel?” The fullness of her lips slowly curled into a smile. That was his fatal flaw, the ambition of one who wanted to be more than what they were.

“Nymeria has become stagnant. I have no faith in the Kings nor their people, and I have found worthy cause to believe I can do better. And a beautiful woman who has the power to influence.” Now he was close. What had been his name? Did it matter? She named him Golharin. Rahab was intimate with the soldiers of the Nymerian Army, for she claimed most of their broken souls for her own. He would have been unassuming, but she had her eyes upon him and let him go--studying and watching. Rahab danced around his presence within their city, teasing him with her existence--always just out of his reach just until word of his conspiracy left him imprisoned; She was undeniable. The callousness of his fingers traced the intricate tribal ink from the swell of her thighs, along the elegant curve of her hip. He dipped into the small of her back and skimmed delicately up her shoulders.

“You would have me as your Queen? You would forsake the foundations of the diarchy rule and take it as your own, with me at your side? You are a flatterer.” Rahab stepped away from him. Scant clothing littered the floor, yet she leisurely made her way to the scabbard of her sword that rest against the wall. It was an uncommon weapon. It’s name was old, named for the stars above them that so few Nymerian saw. Tidewalker, she dotingly called it--for it’s unique construction to swim through the water like the most graceful of eels when it suited her. The sound of metal hissed as she relinquished the blade from its scabbard. “I’m bored with you, conspirator. Will you indulge me?”

Golharin chuckled--the sound of hubris. The sound of doubt. For a spy, he knew so little about Nymerian women, least of all her. Let that be his final mistake, she decided. She was no demure little princess, but a woman of prestige and hunger who devoured the sultry gazes of many who found her to their liking. Very few knew the power and skill that came unparalleled for a woman of her station. Rahab was unbridled, untamed, unyielding. Come, she invited him. Test your merit against my steel. Would his mettle hold against her desire for blood? It was what elevated a true Nymerian man above anything else.

“I would mar your pretty flesh, and then what would I make love to?” He pawned it off as an excuse, and Rahab was disappointed. A man who sought to be a King over her brothers would not fight one of the most skilled women in the kingdom. “Make love to my sword, and sing the song of steel and the passions of conquering like the King you wish to be.” She encircled him, bare and enticing, the lithe of stride of her predatory gait firmly holding his attention, “Nymeria women,” She began, choosing her words carefully, “We are not beneath our men, nor above. We are without equal in our passion, however. I am not Yxohch Telondwe for my demure disposition.” It was a gentle reminder, the flat of her sword  trailing across his chest as she stepped. He followed it with a nervous eye.

“I would rather conquer you as I did before, when you were tangled and writhing beneath me.” He insisted, still with that nervous laughter. Still with that excuse to prove his worth. Though the look of rapture at the sensation of being teased by a beautiful woman with a sword seemed to pull him more towards the fantasy and facade she lay out for him. It was a pity.

“I am not conquered, conspirator.” The flat of her blade lifted his chin, for he was a puppet for her. A toy. “I, Rahab Alrandwe di Firdana bear witness to your confession of treason and espionage--the punishment of which is execution in the name of the Kings. For the Kingdom of Nymeria, I am your judge, jury and executioner. By my mercy I grant you a swift death.” Confusion and slow realization blossomed across his features at her declaration. A sharp exhale exuded as she thrust the blade under his chin, permeating the soft palette of his mouth to break his skull. “You will never take the throne from my brothers.” In his ear she whispered, “And you will never conspire against my family again.” He tried to fend her off, but the shock of his fatal wound left him stunned and gurgling. Again. Again. Again. His deeds, his vile, treacherous words filling her with deep-seated fury as she executed him--as were her orders and right. He disgraced his clan, he disgraced the throne, he disgraced their people. His death was imminent, and in the absence of their king, his crimes fell to her jurisdiction.

His corpse teetered over and collapsed onto the floor. She was soiled, the musk of sex and blood its own perfume. As if on cue her attendants bustled in and began to remove the corpse and clean the chambers. She stood in her naked glory as they cleaned her, purging her of the filth she lay with. He was no man by her standards, but a cowardly eel who found himself in dangerous waters.

It was true.

In his last moments, in his darkest hour, she had abandoned Jawan--called to her duty against the Elder God. It was not a moment she would easily forgive of her brothers. In the face of tragedy and war she saved face and remained true to her honor as a warrior. It had cost her the greatest love, and her heart. 

"Leave me, and have the corpse delivered to Shcxay. He'll be pleased to have something viable to work with.”

Only when she was left in silence, when she was certain she was alone did her sword slip from her hand, clattering on the floor. Rahab trembled, a terrible choking sob filling her chest. She swallowed it down, fighting to breathe, fighting for control. It came and went, as did her moment of weakness. She stood alone for some time, carefully reconstructing the mask of her composure with silence as her only companion.

 

What had she become?

Edited by Deus Ex Aizen

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Hoist the colors on high.

The King has returned.

It had been years since any true celebration had been had, the paltry festivals that their culture demanded had been morale lifting, but hardly a celebration.

Not like this one would be. The ghost of a woman was sure of this, her porcelain and graceful – colorless – visage twisted in delight, pale rose eyes sparkling in delight. Truly this would be a day to remember. Her lithe figure, well bosomed and well endowed in hip was shapely and curvaceous, a marble beauty unmarred and well sought. She was graceful and not – a primal sort of pull as her long lashes and unique beauty drew in throngs of those who would provide her pleasure and pleasure returned in kind. Her face, narrow and pinched, a bit hawkish was adorned with a  crown of shells and kelp. The only decoration that adorned her unmarred beauty, though bare and unabashed, the woman spread her arms in delight as she peered upon the Meretricem as they spent the last few moments gathering before her. 

"My precious Meretricem, come! Today we dance like we never have before! Everything you know, everything you have learned...for this day! We welcome the King of the Waves back to the Deep!" She cries, her voice carrying through the water with delightful glee as her rose gaze crinkles in delight. Her bare chest heaves with excitement, as she instructs the Meretricem in their movements and their paintings. Pride swells in Eilwen's chest as she watches her warriors paint themselves for the battle of spirits that was sure to come later that evening. A myriad of dark and colored ink awashed their flesh and painted in totems and powerful creatures of their kind. 

Webbed fingers and toes caressed the water near, small claws adorning each digit as it sliced through the water as the woman walks amongst her kin. She inspects their work, gently correcting a few here and there as they prepare. When this is done, Eilwen moves further in to the staging area. Inspecting and ensuring all was in place, the achromatic form flutters on the current like an ocean ghost. Lengthy tresses cascade behind her, floating above and around her visage - a mane of stark contrast to all the darkness of the deep. The gentle lamps of bioluminescent jellyfish float about, anchored gently to keep them in place as they give a gentle glow that adds a romantic, if not eerie aspect to the large amphitheatre. 

As the years had passed, time had ravaged their war torn land, and the sea had given them plenty of bounty. Eilwen had seen the tides of fortune favor them many a time, often in battles and harvest. The children that had been produced in the time of waking had been the most beautiful, courageous creatures that had graced their culture in entirety. How she loved them, and all their faults. The thought of seeing the man who had presented himself as a friend in her childhood excited and made her tremble in trepidation. It had been many a year since she had acquired her mantle of Vault Keeper and Mistress of the Arts. A twofold title that both restrained her - and gave her unbridled freedom. Fingers curled around a pillar of the theatre, even as her visage curled into a sparkling smile, gills on the side of her neck flaring as her knuckles reddened with her grip before releasing as she withdrew. 

"Yes. Everything will be perfect." This she assures herself, even as her figure floats back to the Vaults and the largest gathering of dancers and artists known to Nymeria, easily a thousand or more of them gathered, painted and gorgeous in their deliberate markings and their excitement. It bubbled through the group like a whisper that eventually broadened into a roar. 

"LET US SING!" The cry is heard from her pedestal, and Eilwen throws back her head in delight, a single - perfect pitched note escaping her maw. 

Strike the bell, second mate
Let us go below
Look away to windward
You can see it's going to blow
Look at the glass
You can see that it is fell
We wish the you would hurry up
And strike, strike the bell

Edited by Lacernella Rubra

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ARRRRRRGH!

His battle cry would bellow throughout the training facility followed by a giant boom, the crashing of another man’s body into the ground. The traning facility had been strewn with fellow soldiers, those of the younger, spritelier variety. A lot of them still privates, not really gaining their sea legs, as some would graciously put it. Though he himself was merely a Private alongside them, he was held in…a bit more esteem, His namesake damn there required it, and while he might’ve not called attention to it as the others in his clan might it was still something he held in pride.

He flexed by cracking his neck, taking solace in the takedown of his fellow soldier They have all been going through hand to hand exercises, in this case takedowns. With his opponent already lying in a heap on the ground. “Pathetic attempt, next time don’t use your double leg so much, unless you like eating knee.” While he was merely just a private he was also held in high regard by the others, especially when it came to training situations such as this. His opponent had let himself up, and grunted, showing clear sighs of frustration. A lot of the others did as well. He was…unbearable when he got like this, confident, but stern, and while it was clear that he KNEW he was good (And he had the family name to prove as such.) One could see the frustration of the men as he showed this off. Some believed that he might actually take his small position too seriously.

“Goddamn boy, that was fast, You keep that up, you might have your ass a recommendation for Corpsman.”

More High praise, not a surprise. Just one more inch to a goal He thought nothing of it, and merely gave a nod. While his fellow soldiers found him more than a bit annoying, it was the higher ups who saw him as a stud. Which was all he was focused on, take orders, and make sure to excel in that, It was how he was raised after all. He placed himself back in line, waiting for the orders of his commanding officer with the others, only for the door to the training facility to be opened by the general.

“ATTENTION!”

 

Stand in place, their focus on the generals sudden command as they all enacted a salute. The general took note and nodded. “We have been assigned to a special objective, our King has returned, and our platoon has been sent to protect his hide as he make his way back home. The land Invasion unit has already been held in high praise, you guys will be randomly assigned on a month to month basis based on your performance to keep tabs of our king, DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR?!”

“SIR YES SIR!”


“Goddamn right, back to your business.”


His first deployment, a small one, but a Deployment no less. This was what Trexasle had been wanting since he had assigned himself to this platoon. For the first time that his fellow soldiers noted, he gave off an odd smile. They were quick to take note of this.

“Have you ever seen him smile like that before?”

“Nah, it’s…actually kinda creepy, Hey Trexasle you allright over the…”


It wasn’t full blown action, but it was well enough for Trexasle to finally take notice. He turned toward his fellow soldiers and gave a dismissive nod. “Everything’s gonna be JUST peachy keen.”

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Either the man was brave, or foolish. To those that actually knew him would likely dare to say that he was a bit of both. Such a thing would be apparent right here, right now. It had been a long season since the King in the Waves had come around, let alone executed a deployment. To be more precise it had been nearly a decade, in which this brave and foolish man had been keeping himself busy with the likes of looking after the woman he had grown oh so fond of, Juni, as well as pulling volunteer shifts within the unsavory trenches. Society lulled with it's leadership, in which it seemed in most cases that the current Deepwatch was either too lacking in ability or numbers to contend with the dangers of the deep. While Uru cared not directly for any one of these men on watch, he so dearly loved his nation and his people as a whole. Thus he had taken it upon himself to do some of the dirtiest work his nation had to offer. While he would refrain from traveling as far as the bone forest, he spared no effort to patrol beyond the usual limitations of said watch. To the few that knew him on a more intimate level such as Juni, Rahab, or even the King in the Waves himself, people like these knew he was brave...And that his foolishness lied in severely different manner than when it came to running solo through the trenches.

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It was a joyous day and occasion to see boys and girls become men and women respectively through the rites provided within the renown coming of age ceremonies. Great pride was the most wide spread feeling among the people. By this time, one knew their purpose in life. They would no doubt have already been seeded into their service roles and even been prepared to receive their marks, respective to their totems. While Urukehu had withstood his fair share of teasing over not being chosen by the Shark, it was a feat that was easier to overcome considering the way he embraced being chosen by something much more dangerous. The land dwellers had a saying about the lion being the king of the jungle. In his culture, a shark was not so different. However even Uru had learned enough to know that lions seldom traverse jungles, more accurately they were kings of the savanna. The true king of the jungle was something unclear to Uru, for his knowledge at such a ripe age was limited by bounds. However there was no disputing his claim of being blessed by the true king among the animals in the limitless waters. The Orca. The majority of those in his generation held much humor over such a thing, though the smaller groups that disagreed could see the danger in Uru's totem. They could even see why such a totem would have selected him to attach itself to. It wasn't obvious on the outside, especially considering he was more average than he was big, but on the inside his size knew no limits. His mental and spiritual depth knew no bounds, and his righteous and pure nature alluded to an enormous heart. 

These features would become apparent to all on this day however, for one of Urukehu's childhood friends had the pleasure of completing his coming of age long side of him. A childhood friend that seemed to disagree with his own life. Foolishly the boy refused to be branded as was. He wished to serve other purpose in life, yet his aptitude only seemed fit to land him among what was seen as the real men of the nation. In denial of his own ability as a warrior, the boy was frowned upon, ultimately being sentenced to serving his due time in the trenches as their culture would dictate. Punga was the gentle giants name. From his birth to his naming, to his development, the boy always seemed to be a promising addition to the ranks. Mentally he lacked the fortitude to fit the constraints of his people however, thus his stigma was born. Uru knew that he wouldn't stand a chance in the trenches alone. He was too timid and withdrawn for that. He could survive for a while, yet in the face of true danger he stood no chance. That was where Urukehu came into play. To see his friend exiled was something he couldn't outright let go. He stood by the decision made as their culture was their way of life. Despite agreeing with and failing to hold a grudge against his nation, he refused to let his friend be sent off alone to die! He did the only thing there was to do within his power to do...

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Suddenly he became distracted from his purpose, though it wasn't his reminiscing that played the culprit. A nearly forgotten familiarity graced the waters as his blood felt warm for a brief moment. Not having any signs to go off of in terms of discovering the source of this feeling, Uru did what any smart Nymerian in his position would do. He went home. Little did he know that this was all inspired by one very important man's choice to do just that. Just like that he turned tail before jutting off into the water, not unlike any other creature of the deep. He swam with a haste that was only comparable to the haste one would have when they moved with purpose. The sudden anxiety brought on a sense of panic. 'I'm going, and yet I'm uncertain of where exactly I'm going. What is this?' Surely he was capable of discerning sensations that inspired his body to so naturally react? Perhaps something was wrong with him? He felt fine, that much was certain. Regardless, he figured it was a perfect chance, an excuse rather to pay a visit to Juni. Besides, she seemed to enjoy his visits a bit more when they weren't spent with her mending him. 

Despite how far his travel home actually was, it felt like it was only a few minutes. His swim slowed down as he would round the citadel, his eyes catching sight of a creature he hadn't seen most recently, and when he had seen it it hadn't been so happy and full of life. 'I wonder what's gotten into Pyxiz?' He thought as his visage channeled the creatures path back in the direction of the Healers tents. Suddenly his eyes grew wide and a pang of realization hit him.  Looking to Juni's tattoo upon his right forearm in bewilderment, he wondered if she somehow caused the feeling he felt earlier. Perhaps she called to him, or perhaps she had experienced something of great emotional....trauma? But then why would the feeling have felt so good ? Continuing his swim, he would ultimately wind up finding himself in a rather crowded tent. From the looks of it she was greeting Schxay, though it seemed just prior she had to have been with Ryxchra. 'RYXCHRA!?' His eyes widened once more in surprise, though he fixed them quite fast enough to save face. Stepping all the way into the tent, Uru would simply stare for a moment, as if to be sure he wasn't dreaming or seeing a ghost.

"Surely as all waves return to the seas from which they came, our King in the Waves has returned. Hail, and welcome home!"

He spoke more in excitement than volume. Fortunately his sincere welcome and joy was enough to hide his jealousy over the King's relationship with Juni. As a leader he loved the man, and was proud to serve within his Legions! Yet as a man, he nearly seen the man as a rival or a grand obstacle that needed to be overcome before he could have his life partner. For ten years Rxychra was gone, and in that time it was Uru whom had filled the void in her heart. Now he was back, almost as if nothing had happened. Then again what did he know. He only understood their closeness, yet he didn't fully understand the King himself. Part of him was weary of how much of the King in the Waves he even wished to know, for few could survive the loss of their life partner. Yet another fact that Uru used to try and deny himself of his desires, of his love. Despite his conflicting thoughts, the warrior produced a genuine smile with a slight bow after his words, his turquoise eyes remaining on the King until he was inevitably distracted by someone else.

@The Hound @TheWilySpookster @Aleksei

Edited by Al Sa-her

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Incredible Concept Art by Tatiana Kirgetova «  CruzineThe Return of the King and close Inspection of the Keeper.


Harbinger


The only thing to Fear in these depths,

is the crushing reality that your imagination became reality.

How long had it been since Krava had pulled himself up from the dregs of the Abyssal pits below? What was his main reason for even leaving the deeper darker regions of the vast water ways? It surely was not for wealth for he had no one to send the money back to, and it was not for fame for the world below was small compared to the vast seas. Time was of no consequence at this point, he had made a place for himself among the ranks of the Legio Typhonas. His talent with multiple weapons and ranges made him a rather valuable body along with countless others. There was a need and a drive for talent within the kingdom; it was needed everywhere at every level. It would seem that as vast as the Kingdom of Nymeria was it lacked in its diversity in species. Thus he was being called by his Commander to meet with Eilwen, no doubt for an inspection of sorts. He couldn't blame them for wanting to look him over, as it was he was the only one of his kind here within Nymeria. Had there been more Naga folk no doubt he would have easily been passed over and left alone to train.

The Naga slithered across the palace grounds with ease and silence, he felt bad for the people who needed to cross corridors with him moving between them. Being thirty feet in length from stomach to tail end his main body was six feet wide and strong enough to crush three marble pillars at one time. His scales were ebony black like the pits below while his underbelly was a dark cream color, his upper torso however was ebony like the rest of his scales. Muscled trunks for arms and a ripped chest accented with scars remained bare for all to see. As a Naga clothes and armor were something of a myth, because there were never full armor sets for them besides tassets and a chest plate. The remainder of the body underbelly and top were already naturally hard and impenetrable by natural means. 

Krava on one hand did not enjoy clothing in the least bit, thus the most that anyone ever found on him was a black metal tasset with gold trimming to guard his neither region. His body moved quickly across the floor as he sought out his Commander in order to get this meeting over with. Passing through the palace hall ways he did not spare a single person a glance, his onyx optics remained locked upon his destination. The Palatial Gardens where the Beast Tamer often resided in his spare time. Krava thought about the luxury of being able to meditate with other creatures of the deep freely without fear of being scolded. It must be nice no doubt? Just like it was nice for him to have a snake like body to make running, climbing, and swimming so much faster. Not to mention he was able to attack while doing so without need of using his hands, small fins peaked out along the ridges of his back which helped with his swimming and navigation through the water.

A single cry brought him back to reality as a maid servant nearly walked into his body. Looking back he observed the train of people needing to get past his long tail in order to continue preparations. "Apologies.." He said lightly before speedily departing while climbing up the side of the walls he would travel as to not interrupt anyone during their work period. Picking up his pace he did not like being on time for things but rather early. As his demon mother always told him, it was always best to be early than it was to be on time. To be on time was to be late for the appointment and that's now how Krava functioned. With a subtle blink the lad found himself at the entrance to the garden. Looking around the walls had stopped but he was not too keen on getting down off of the walls in order to see what was outside. Instead he slithered up the ceiling and gazed down into the garden till he spotted the lad. "Commander.. You called for me.. Something about taking me to meet with Lady Eilwen.. Shall we depart soon? Or can it wait till after the festival..?" Blinking slowly the man placed his hands upon his hips as his black hair remained in cornrolls in a pony tail.  With his brow crocked and his eyes narrowed he observed the creatures that the shark man had obtained during his time as Beast Tamer. The more he observed the more he understood, he was less of a Soldier to them at this point. Right now he would be seen as a pet to be explored.. How.. Original.

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                                                                                                                              Ohiyra and Ayyhat

“The blade against your skin… A lullaby…”

 

“Things are better done in the darkness of the abyss.”

 

“My my…”

Frustration, anger, rage, and delight. Pleasure, a euphoric feeling expressed in any form, but to Ayyhat, this was all just a game. The room was dimly lit, the small lighting above them in the shady confines of the room. She came here every now and then to play, her fingers pressed against the token, her eyelids low as she listened to the sounds of the other players. A sigh, one had a bad hand… The sound of a chair creaking back… Another one was cocky… The other one was silent, which was enough for her to know that he had a good hand. A good player as the man was, she knew that she had them. The crimson token was toyed with between her fingers, before it was placed up against her plump lips, a small smirk finally creasing her stoic face as her golden optics glanced around.

“You are all silent, is something wrong?” Her voice, a mere whisper that still echoed through the stagnant room. One of the others seemed to grow irritated, especially as soon as she placed her token down, keeping it in the way of all of the other tokens, which had meant that no matter what they would have placed down, they wouldn’t have won.

Suddenly, in a fit of rage, one of the men seemed to emit a low growl, reverberating from deep within his core. Ooh, he was angry, Ayyhat could feel it, she couldn’t help but chuckle, holding her hand out and on the table; payment.

The other men all expressed their frustrations with mere mumbles and groans, all while her eyes were set on the one across from her, as his anger exceeded him, causing him to grip the edges of the table, ready to flip it over. And he did so, with the tokens and money flying everywhere, hitting Ayyhat and the others. A purse of her lips, “temper …” She cooed.

“You’re receiving NOTHING from me you prude woman!” He shouted.

She seemed so calm, relaxed…

Though the room was dark, and only four people were present, there was in fact another…

Golden optics opened from within the dark behind Ayyhat, teeth opening to reveal nothing but razor teeth, like one similar to that of a shark. It’s head, though unseen, tilted to the side.

“Pay,” the feminine voice echoed. The man didn’t move from his spot, unsure of who or what was behind Ayyhat, until the blurred figure leaped from across the room, pinning the male down, the silvery glint of the blade pressed up against his skin.

When realization kicked in, the man gulped loudly, “
Ohiyra, I-I didn’t know you were here.”

“PAY UP!” She shouted, and he did so, scrambling out from under the larger sister as he fiddled through his sack to take out all of his coins.
Ohiyra stood up and pointed to the others as Ayyhat finally stood as well, turning her back to the scene as she headed for the door. Ohiyra growled and lifted the same male up, pinning him against the wall while her fingers pressed further around his neck.

Ayyhat stood still, “enough, we must go. They will gather my money and send it to me, just like they always do.”


Ohiyra had let out a small noise of discomfort, letting the male go as he tried to breathe, following right behind Ayyhat, “to where sister?”

“Well, to be honest, I’m not so sure.”

“Beautiful, you know, I’m going to get into some trouble being around you.”

Ayyhat grinned, before walking further ahead, “I hear there is something going on, perhaps a festival.”

“Hmm… Knowing you, you won’t stay long.”

Edited by AmillianLuud

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As one might assume, the entity was present within the gardens. Q'myha'myha was known for such a thing. It gave his war-driven spirit moments of tranquility. Even then, he still conceptualized and moved through many styles and methods within his head; he also pondered on the information gathered through shared thoughts from various glimpses into sea life among him. They told him of Rxychra and Pyxiz returning before the capital was aware -- hell, he could feel  them coming. Pyxiz was, after all, one of his own kin. The great beast hailed from Carchaeron's waters, just as he did. The shamans had remained vigilant in their assessing of what and who came about within their region -- from true sharks to those mannish descendants born with leg or fin... and those blessed with both.

Sharks and sea wolves surrounded him dominantly, as well as fish and more peculiar beings such as one small quadruped he'd managed to catch and coax -- For Eilwen, of course. He had spoiled her greatly in the past few years. Unable to venture out as being bound by duty to remain present unless outwardly oppressing other regions to keep them from infringing upon an Empire a King short, he'd been mostly delving distance reaches and sea forests for gifts of shiny and companion-esque sorts. This little companion seemed quite fit for a companion of rarity and intrigue. What that was, one could only ponder as it was an elusive breed of changed animal the ocean and its exceedingly present aura of Change blessed them with. The little thing was curious -- it'd not strayed far from the man beast, and by its own fault fell weak to his compulsion.

It had been in his lap for some time, now, relaxing as he was -- as all the sea life was with him. Many sea wolves sat around him, and many more swam about. But now his peace was disturbed and his companion stood on edge, along with some of the other quadrupeds in the water. No threat seemed imminent, but they were all in touch with Q'm, and him being disturbed meant them being disturbed. The more... "natural" sea life like the true sharks and fish that whirred about made way in varying directions. He'd been addressed. His thick mane of shimmering tresses hung densely about, moving with the passive currents within the palace territory as he turned to face the man.... snake? Naga! That's what the word was. He'd encountered a handful in the near seas in his time of living -- none so close to the Throne, though. Esoteric and powerful entities, they were a rather clandestine breed altogether, it seemed.. at least from his perspective. As he moved to address the male, his appearance would further expose itself. Dark flesh would meet a stark contrast along his front half, though his extremities drowned the light midway. He was heavily tattooed, an ever-continuous process through his life as it were at this point. A feat, an event, most anything significant could be recorded in some memorable fashion. His body told stories as well as exemplified his very Self. Unspoken expression -- The epitome of it, at that. 

He floated into a stand, moving on toward the male with a grin. The little gift for Eilwen was perched in the bend of his arm. "No, no. It is best we do not keep the little Mistress waiting. Depending on her state of mind, she could grow impatient.. though considering the subject of the celebration, it will be hard to displeasure her on this day. We've not too much to do, outside of gather the Fourth up for a little show, I suppose. Eilwen first, though. I have not been to her in a few days." He'd nod and move forward to where the naga had come from -- that's right, backtracking for the snake. The pack moved with him as he adjusted his gear, gripping belts and the net he wore around his form into a position of comfort.

Q'm positioned his hook into comfort on his person and moved toward the Vaults with Krava now, pleased all was in position. "She will be pleased to see you, and this little one." He said, cradling the sea creature as the quadrupedal sharks followed on after their "leader". Eilwen always did love the exotic and the monstrous.. this one took the cake for the moment, though he'd hoped to be able to surprise her further. A naga or a little sea animal seemed to be a hearty decision between the two on which to be more excited about. The thought pleased him, and he made way with Krava and sea wolves. 

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Whilst the meretricem gathered, Eilwen watched with prideful gaze. Ever mindful of their placements, she gently directed them to their garbing halls. This dance, while in celebration, required something flashy and appropriate. So she left them to gather their outfits while she turned to return to her own quarters for the briefest of times. It was here that she consults her scrolls, visage furrowing as she gives the gentlest of prayers to their ancestors that today would go well, and find no harm come to them.

With this action finished, Eilwen hums quietly to herself as she gathers what she deems necessary. An adjustment of the shell and kelp crown that graces her ghostly visage – and a small dagger that is tucked in sheathe that rests behind the said crown. Deeming these actions finished, Eilwen turns her attention to a statue that has taken up the space of her home now for several years. In a dark corner of her home it rests beneath a veil of black – hidden from prying eyes. Never had it been deemed finished…but now. Now it was perfect.

She returns to the Meretricem with a warm smile. As they are finishing their projects and find themselves looking to their leader for further instruction, she leads them to the stage so that it too, may be decorated and set up appropriately. The large Amphitheatre requires much to be at peace with the large quantities of decorations and people that will likely clamor to it in celebration. Nearby, food and drink vendors are setting up, preparing for the undoubtable onslaught that will plague them later that night – if not sooner. A smile ghosts across her visage, lightening the furrow that had been present prior.

As the apparition floats across the stage, dainty webbed toes settle upon the large structure as she stands back, washing it in her gaze as contemplation reigns in the flighty womans desire to prance along with her kind. Instead, she designates out the tasks, hard at work as rose colored hues take it in. The splendor and grandness of it gives her only a secondary pause, before she’s off once more. Instructing and moving each project and totems, lining them along the sides as others pitch in, an equal effort given by all.

As she turns, Eilwen is greeted by both Q’myah and the Naga he has promised to let her see for some time now. While ever defiant, Eilwen had given to his request and not sought the man out this time…but the future was possibly different. Whatever the man might assume their use of him, Eilwen was polite and proper, despite her flighty and tempestuous nature.

“Q’myah!” She calls in delight, glee overtaking her visage as she floats forward to press the gentlest of kisses to his dark cheek, before withdrawing. “Who is your friend?” She asks, even as her gaze settles on the large Naga. Curiosity and willingness to explore his being are shown clearly in her gaze, but Eilwen acts on neither, instead offering a dainty webbed hand.

“It is a pleasure to meet you, I am Eilwen.” Her titles are left off for now, unimportant for this particular meeting. “If you ever need anything, don’t hesitate to let me know.” It is a twofold invitation, but the nagaman can take it how he pleases. Eilwen is not pushy, she doesn’t party where she’s not wanted.

Behind them, the artists and dancers have broken into yet another song whilst they work, while somber, it seems to uplift their spirits as their pace increases.

Robed in royal purple, royal raiment of the wave,

Lie crunched and shattered timbers, ribs of might ships;

Yeah, and limbs of some who, craving one more kiss of loving lips,

Were stifled in the violent froth, jammed beneath black stones,

Whose glossy weed may dally with their coral crusted bones.

Where no mortal breath dare whisper, only hollow sounding surges,

A welter of wild waters with their melancholy dirges. Behold they rave in echoing cave their wrath rent long ago.

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Sleep had never come easy to the King on the Waves, but surrounded by the familiar scents of the Head Healer’s hut and comforted by the warm, ever-present memories of his time spent with Juni the man found himself finally answering sleep’s seductive calls. It had been rumored for years that after the death of his wife, the King on the Waves had never quite found himself sleeping soundly… But the few who knew him well would’ve been able to amend the statement so it accurately fit the man. After the death of his wife Rxychra’s heart had shattered, and for a while sleep never came. Erratic, impulsive, and taciturn, the Black King had become a maddened blade for a while. And it was only with his family at his side, and Juni’s constant ministrations that he had found himself once more. Unwilling to leave his side throughout the months of his rehabilitation and keeping a watchful eye over his mental health Juni was the one constant presence in his life after the death of his wife, filling the void she had left to the best of her abilities.

 

In many ways, it was her presence that had restored him from the madness that came from losing his mate.

 

She became his sheath.

 

Losing grip of himself in the sweetness of slumber, Rxychra found himself far away from his current reality and drawn back into the deepest parts of his mind. No matter how many years had passed, in his dreams Rxychra could still hear her voice and feel her touch. He could still taste the strawberry-and-honey flavor of her lips, and feel the weight of her head resting on his chest as they slept soundly beneath the sunlight. With her laughter as the soundtrack of his dreams, Rxychra’s memories of the perfect afternoons he had spent beneath sunlight with his beloved Queen played in his mind as a small patch of sunlight that warded off the torrential rain that surrounded the two. In these dreams, Rxychra felt whole. He felt strong, confident, and happy. Almost as if the events that had left to the sinking of Nymerius never happened. But even now, Rxychra was aware of what was dream and what was reality…

 

Because all dreams came to an end.

 

Twitching in annoyance, Rxychra fought his way out of what felt like the drunken stupor of sleep as he felt something tug at a wayward strand of his hair… Which was swiftly followed by a caressing of his nose, nimble fingers against the curve of his lips as soft as a lover’s caress, and a poke to his chin. Quelling the annoyance that had nearly roused from his sleep, the king attempted to relax once more as he felt a hand twirl the same strand of hair that had been tugged at earlier. For a moment, he felt the sleep tug at the edges of his consciousness once more, urging him to relax as the sweet susurrus of slumber seduced him once more… And then he felt something drop right atop of him, wrapping its’ arms around his neck.

 

Instantly Rxychra’s eyes snapped open, an alarmed expression playing on his usually serene face even as his body, honed by years of conflict, sprung to action. Tensing, the Nymerian’s hand went for one of the knives he kept at his side as he was met by… Hugs, kisses, and adoration. For a moment, Rxychra was intensely confused as he shook the last kernels of sleep from his eyes and saw… Juni. His Juni. Wrapping his arms around her waist, the King did something that had been hardly heard in years: He laughed as he pulled her into a tight embrace, crushing her chest against his before touching his forehead to hers and pressing a gentle kiss against her lips.

 

“Hello, Juni.” He said quietly in his deep, melodious voice as his body relaxed against hers and he got his first good look at her after a long, long time. Rubbing his hands against her arms, the king offered her a small but sincere smile that touched even his usual cold silver eyes. Gently putting some distance between their bodies, the king sat her in his lap and looked her up and down. A decade had passed, but not a lot seemed to change with Juni. Not the way her eyes looked at him, nor the way she fit in his arms, or her scent. Distractedly Rxychra’s fingers traced the lattice-like framework of tattoos that decorated her left arm, especially meaningful for the reason she had placed them there. “I am h-”

 

"Shcxay!"

 

Snapping his head up at the name of his nephew, the King eyes widened slightly as he realized that their intimate moment was being watched by one of his nephews. Shcxay. Xaprychor’s son, and a promising youth on his own was nothing like the Black King remembered him. Gifted in magic and physical combat alike, the young man’s Land Invasion Legion outfit had been changed by the silvery armor of the Nymerian Mage Corps, further adorned by what appeared to be the official symbols of the Grand Inquisitor. Gone was the look of boyhood and ambition that had been Shcxay’s standard, replaced by the serious eyes of a man who knew duty, strength, and pain. Feeling the same smile he had flashed Juni tug its’ way back on his lips as pride swelled in his chest… Only to be replaced by a swelling rage that ached to claw its’ way out of his chest as the smiled died away in his face, replaced by the blank mask the Black King had been known for as he placed Juni gently on the floor beside himself. Pushing himself to his feet, Rxychra walked toward his nephew, raising a hand to brush the boy’s cheek gently before kissing his forehead.

 

“Shcxay. My nephew.” Rxychra said quietly, his silver eyes darkened by the anger that prefaced his serene expression as the water around the king began to heat up, causing the man’s hair to billow behind him. “Tell me who did this to you. Tell me, and I shall slay them where they stand. I shall rip them apart with my own hands, I swear it on Myra.” Rxychra said, breath deepening before he pulled his nephew into a gentle hug for a moment before yet another arrival rocked his train of thought.

 

"Surely as all waves return to the seas from which they came, our King in the Waves has returned. Hail, and welcome home!

 

Turning his head toward the new arrival, the man fought the anger that had been building in his chest, sparing a glance at Juni as he attempted to temper the indignation he had begun to feel within on his nephew’s behalf. Focusing on the voice that had called out to him, rousing the man beneath the beast once more as his brother’s other bastard came clear in his view. Urukehu did not look like a son of Xaprychor. Taller than the average Nymerian and boasting of bright red hair and turquoise eyes, there was something about him that seemed… Certain. About everything he did. Or so was the memory of his nephew from so long ago. Standing before him, there was something that appeared solid in the young man’s eyes now. Adult. Flashing the young man a smile, Rxychra nodded toward him and moved his right arm from hugging Shcxay to patting the other  young man’s shoulder.

 

“Always so formal, Urukehu.” Rxychra chided him with no real heat, separating himself from his nephews and flashing them both a smile before heading back toward Juni and sitting himself beside her. Wrapping his left arm around her, he pulled his closest friend back toward him and felt her presence quell the rage within him. Closing his eyes, Rxychra took a deep breath. And another. And one more. Like so many years ago, when the loss of his wife had cut him deep in his soul, Juni’s presence provided him solace. “You should know better than to refer to me as King in private. Here, I am your uncle, Rxychra.”

 

Sharing a glance with Juni, the man offered her a small mischievous smile as he lifted the woman and sat her atop of his shoulder, wrapping an arm around her legs and slinging his pack over his shoulder as he stood. Moving as if the Healer weighed no more than his pack, the Black King looked at his nephews and rushed out of the tent, sparing them both a glance over his shoulder.

 

“Schxay, Urukehu. Let’s go back to the Throne of the Oceans… I’ve a feeling that if we keep our lot waiting, they will get a tad bit cranky with me. Juni can tend to you when we’re in the Keep once more.” He called from over his shoulder, flashing his nephews a toothy grin as he began to swim toward the alabaster walls of the inner city. Nymeria, in its’ days in the land, had been a sight to behold. Built by his ancestors from a small gathering of tents into heavily fortified city, surrounded by the marble-like fortifications of the Wall of the Ancients. Raised by his ancestors, and built upon the bones of fallen Nymerian Soldiers, the wall served as a final resting place for those who once served and pledged their souls to serve one final time. Increasing his speed as he swam toward the city, the King put distance between his relations and himself, halting a couple feet from the citadel’s entrance.

 

“Juni… I am glad I got to see you alone. If only for a few moments. It has been much too long…” Rxychra said quietly, turning his silver eyes toward the woman sitting on his shoulders and offering her a small smile as he looked upon his kingdom and felt uncharacteristically… Nervous about entering. With a deep breath, Rxychra looked back toward the gate and forced his face to become neutral once more, as had become expected from the man both feared and revered as the Black King of Nymerius. “It has been ten years since I had gotten a night of peace… But with you at my side once more, I feel almost at peace my dear friend.” He forced the words out in a strangled whisper as he approached the citadel’s gates.

 

“Who goes there!” A thunderous voice called out to him as he approached the old gate of Firdana. Raising his free hand, Rxychra’s eyes sought out the man atop of the wall and stared at him. For a moment, everything stood still as suspicion, followed by surprise, fear, and finally excitement flashed through the soldier’s face as he finally recognized the King on the Waves. In hushed tones, he heard the soldier whisper words of excitement amongst his peers, who began to glance at him from atop the wall. Swiftly, he heard the chains pull at the entrance gates allowing Rxychra and his companion entrance to the inner sanctum of the citadel.

 

Without delay, the Nymerian stepped through his beloved city’s gate and was bombarded by a wave of emotion he had not expected. Nostalgia burned bright in his chest as he looked around at the city he had grown up in. Fierce pride, so strong that it threatened to tear through his chest flooded his being as he saw rows upon rows of men and women whom he had trained with, fought beside, and shed enemy blood with met him at the entrance, pounding their various weapons against the ground and crying out to their King who had returned to them once more… And as ever, words failed him. Raising his free hand Rxychra met their cries with a bestial roar of his own, expressing his pride and joy at having returned to them once more. One by one, the soldiers of the Deepwatch dropped to one knee as their King approached them.

 

“Sons and daughters of Nymeria… Brothers and sisters. I am home.” Rxychra called out to them, the end of his phrase lost in the maelstrom of voices that greeted him as he addressed his soldiers. Raising his hand once more, the king bade them to quiet down as he walked forward. “I am back. Spread the word, and let us rejoice in a way that none but us Nymerians know how to!” He called out to them, motioning for them to stand as he clapped a few soldiers on the shoulders as he made his way through the gathering crowd. Sparing a glance at the shimmering blue building before him, Rxychra forgot about propriety as he began to swim forward once more.

 

Swiftly, the faces of those he had left behind in doing his duty played through his mind. Xaprychor, Rahab, Kharibdys, Urukehu, Schxay, Eilwen, N’ataeya, Q’myha’myha, Ultix, Ulrix, Urzix, and his Juni… They all had awaited his return. And at last…

 

At last…

 

Rxychra Alrandwe di Firdana, the Black King, The King on the Waves… Rxychra, the broken man who had left them.

 

He was home.


And he would keep his family waiting no more.

 

@Aleksei@TheWilySpookster@Al Sa-her

Edited by The Hound

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“All that work, wasted.” Said the traitor. His arrogant and foolish face sneering at Urzix as they stood across from each other. As the Srax'throgar heir had calculated, Rahab had coaxed every bit of information out of the foolish usurper she had decided to play her games with. “Indeed, even now your co-conspirator has met his end to Rahab’s blade.” He stated blandly, golden eyes measuring the distance as he drew his blade. The traitor also drew his. “What?” He said in surprise, causing the young Srax'throgar to scowl at the arrogance of the very idea they could even conquer such a woman.

“Damn! No matter, you will die, boy.” Said the traitor whose name Urzix had learned. Vicsik.  They slowly began to circle each other. “On guard! It is time we ended this foolishness!” They were now within reach of each other, and Vicsik, in the midst of his sentence, suddenly plunged forward, thrusting viciously. A slower man had died there, but Urzix parried and sent his own blade in a silver streak that slit the other man’s shirt as he bounded backward. He admitted the failure of his trick with a wild laugh and came in with the breath-taking speed and fury of a tiger shark, his blade making a white fan on steel about him.

Blade clashed on blade as the two swordsmen fought. They were fire and ice opposed. Vicsik fought wildly but craftily, leaving no openings, taking advantage of every opportunity. He was a living flame, bounding back, leaping in, feinting, thrusting, warding, striking--laughing like a wild man, taunting and cursing. Urzix's skill was cold, calculating, scintillant. He made no waste movement, no motion not absolutely necessary. He seemed to devote more time and effort toward defense than did Vicsik, yet there was no hesitancy in his attack, and when he thrust, his blade shot out with the speed of a striking eel.

There was little to choose between the men as to height, strength and reach. Vicsik was the swifter by a scant, flashing margin, but Urzix’s skill reached a finer point of perfection. The traitor’s fencing was fiery, dynamic, like the blast from a furnace. Urzix was more steady--less the instinctive, more the thinking fighter, though he, too, was a born slayer, with the coordination that only a Srax'throgar possessed. Thrust, parry, feint, a sudden whirl of blades--”Ha!” the Traitor sent up a shout of ferocious laughter as the blood started from a cut on Urzix's cheek. As if the sight drove him to further fury, he attacked like a hunting shark. Urzix was forced back before the blood-lusting onslaught, but the Sword Saint's expression did not alter.

Minutes flew by; the clang and clash of steel did not diminish. Now they stood squarely in the center of the room, Vicsik untouched, Urzix's garments red with the blood that oozed from wounds on cheek, breast, arm and thigh. The Traitor grinned savagely and mockingly in the dim light of his hideaway, but he had begun to doubt. His breath came hissing fast and his arm began to weary; so this man of steel and ice, who never seemed to weaken was the heir to the Srax'throgar? The traitor knew that the wounds he inflicted on Urzix were not deep, but even so, the steady flow of blood should have sapped some of the man’s strength and speed by this time. But if Urzix felt the ebb of his powers it did not show. His calm, even gentle, expression did not change, and he pressed the fight with as much cold fury as at the beginning.

Vicsik felt his might fading,  and with one last desperate effort he rallied all his fury and strength into a single plunge. A sudden, and seemingly unexpected attack too wild and swift for the eye to follow, a dynamic burst of speed and fury no man could have withstood, and Urzix reeled for the first time as he felt cold steel tear through his body. He reeled back, and Vicsik, with a wild shout, plunged after him, his reddened sword free, a gasping taunt on his lips. Urzix's sword, backed by the force of his cold determined duty, and the confidence in his calculations, met Vicsik’s. In midair, met, held and wrenched. The traitor's yell of triumph died on his lips as his sword flew singing from his hand. For a fleeting instant he stopped short,  his arms flung wide as a crucifix,  he heard a roar of rage peal forth, as Urzix's blade made a silver line in the dim light.

____________

He had washed himself of blood, bandages his wound, though it was hardly with the skill or care of Juni, his smaller cuts having knitted themselves back together leaving his face unmarred. Urzix replaced his garments for fresh ones, though most preferred to walk in the nude. He refused to do so, a Srax'throgar must always provide the vision of strength and to show he had been wounded did not provide such an image. He stood, pulling his long Malbec hair into a tight knot atop his head, wincing from pain. It was good he has refused the ministrations of servants. Satisfied that his appearance was as impeccable as ever he left his the privacy of his palace quarters.

By now Rahab will have had her end all tied up, the body removed, floors cleaned. Now that most of his minor wounds had healed he could report the completion of his end. It had been a joint venture, Rahab pulling information from a fool who thought he could conquer Rahab, and like all fools after a lustful encounter, he talked. One by one he revealed his co-conspirators, and one by one the young Nymerian put them to the sword, until he at last came upon the last. The man had spoken much of him, giving Urz insights, and allowing him to calculate every possibility.

Just as he cut his way to the final loose end, he knew Vicsik's personality, his skills and habits. It allowed him to formulate plans, and today he set them into motion. He knew his style of attack, deduced his arrogance, calculated even the most minute probability. He lead him in their fight, allowing him to push with all his fire and rage, and then ended him. For the young Srax'throgar, had all been according to plan. Dull. Indeed even him taking that blow had been a possibility well before he had cornered the rat.

He paused outside Rahab's door, and knocked. He awaited permission to enter, or silence to leave. Though he would prefer to see a friendly and familiar face. When she finally admitted him, he would step gracefully into the room. Only she could notice the slight hitch to his gait, how he favored his right side, and his pale, almost wane complexion. “It is done.” He said simply, taking the effort to kneel and offer his respect along with his news.

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“Eilwen is here!” Luna’s voice disrupted Amaya’s concentration. She quickly gathered her tool, both the colored ink and her brushes, and followed Luna.

Everything you know, everything you have learned… for this day!

The words rang through the water, Amaya felt an excitement that tingled through every cell of her body. This was what counted; every moment since the day she had been chosen as Meretricem, every song, every dance, every training and rehearsal… it had all led to this. Amaya watched their beautiful teacher when she swam between them, guiding and aiding. She looked happier than Amaya had ever seen her.

She removed her skirt and shifted from tail to legs - a swirling in the water, her tail parting and becoming two. The skin on her legs gained the colored scales that had decorated her tail, as well. Then she started painting. She used almost the same shades of color that could be found on her legs; orange, yellow, and then a darker shade of red, creating a wholeness and suiting contrast between the spots on her legs and the stripes of the Lion Fish that was her totem, which she painted on her upper body. The colors of the dangerous beauty of a venomous fish suited her perfectly; it almost seemed as if the creature was alive and moving every time she moved, every time her hair floated for long enough for the entirety of her painted skin to be visible. Her totem was what came easiest to her to paint at all times. She knew it better than the back of her tail, had painted and dreamt about it so many times now. It was she, and she was it.

The excitement amongst the Meretricem grew higher for every line they sang; so many different tones collected in perfect harmony. They were a beautiful, deadly force, and Amaya felt the pride of being a part of them swell up in her chest. Her singing was light; she was able to reach the highest of tones, though not the lowest.

When Eilwen directed them to the garbing halls, Amaya followed the stream, not paying much attention to her surroundings. The young woman, though having reached maturity, was still at times lost in her mind and dreams almost like a child would be. Everything had a colored glow; she imagined this being what music would look like if one could see it. A poke in the side made her return to reality.

“Hm?” She turned towards Luna with the little pulls in the corners of her mouth that most commonly was her way of smiling. It was quite the show of happiness on her part.

“Outfits, doll.” Luna shook her head a bit, though with a smile to show her that she wasn’t angry about her friend’s distractedness. Luna spent too much time worrying, Amaya did the opposite, making them the perfect team to outweigh one another. Amaya always focused on following her instincts, her passions, which for those who accompanied her made her interesting, but impractical company.

“Ah!” Amaya turned her attention back to her surroundings. Everything was rather flashy for her taste, but she looked around for the simplest of things, managing finally to gather something that she felt was appropriate and yet still… her. She imagined herself standing out in her simplicity, imagined her movements being more graceful than the others, her gaze freer, wilder. She yet had the youthful naivety of wanting to make her own imprint on the world, believing that it would somehow always bend in her favor.  

Time flew by. It was time to prepare the stage. Amaya enjoyed decorating more than the practical aspect of carrying heavy things and managed to disappear and reappear in just the right places to be put to the tasks that she preferred. Out of the corner of her eye she noticed their leader having visitors, one of whom had the strangest appearance. His tail was part of why he seemed so large, Amaya realized, but his skin and muscularity was also what called for her attention. A light slap from Luna on her shoulder made her return to her current task, though her mind was now occupied with curiosity. 

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