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Kaess Festival of Lights - Arcadia District

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Childish creatures enjoyed childish little games. Of course they would feel jealous of the grace and beauty of the elves of House Aetherion, but to go to this extent? Clearly Queen Raveena does not have as tight a hold on public order as a monarch should. Not to worry, Gentle Breeze was very glad to help with this little problem.

The first splatter of excrement landed not upon the float, but on an invisible force some feet above it. Just like their home in Genesaris, this vehicle contained sovereign soil of House Aetherion, which meant it was under full control of Gentle Breeze's divine power. Like rain upon an umbrella, the waste would collect high above them, eventually blocking out the light from their area entirely. While the smell was difficult to handle, it did stop many of the people in their tracks, including her own dancers. It was amusing how one little display of power got so many people's attention.

Perhaps when all of this was over, the Queen will learn something of respect and caution. Respect the guests who come to your home, give you gifts and spend their precious time traveling here. Caution what their response will be when slighted, and how foolish it will make you look when retribution is wrought.

By now the assault had stopped, and a large dome of droppings had collected right above the elve's float, but none would touch it. Removing waste was a natural, necessary part of living, but the insult carried with it being thrown upon one was clear. Now since the dear Queen of Hyperion feels so strongly about her guests, then perhaps she should see how her guests think of her. With a dejected sigh, Gentle Breeze gave her command, and the defecation was hurled away from her precious representation, and onto the spectators themselves.

Screams of disgust filled the air as people were covered with the white and black scat of the fowl bombardiers. Those who would doubt their power would know where their place was, and the common people would finally have a reason to stop chasing after them. Suffice to say, the parade was on the verge of total ruin, and Gentle Breeze held no reluctance on making sure who felt the weight of that responsibility. To think that the daughter of the legendary Sauriel would allow such a mockery to occur, it was absolutely abhorrent.

Nobody defiles the sacred beauty of the elves. There will be no tolerance for such blatant disrespect and vulgarity in her presence. Gentle Breeze was the living embodiment of all that an elf could achieve, a symbol of what they could hope for in a world that would stomp on them for sport. Her mood had soured, but the game was still afoot. Now the tables had turned in her favor absolutely, as her people, her float, her power, was the only thing left standing clean in a mess of filth. "Send word to Umbra. I believe Emperor Rafael should know of this outrage towards one of his faithful servants."

Nodding solemnly, the handmaidens left to send the message, the revelry of the event now turned to utter disaster. Think on this shame you brought on yourself Raveena, she thought sternly, as you face the consequences for your recklessness.

A massive plume of red lit up the streets, and the resulting destruction caused a new wake of death and chaos to run rampant. Gentle Breeze was left surprised, surprised and a little scared that such a thing could have happened to her and she wouldn't have even noticed. What in the god's name was happening?

"My lady, we have to get you to safety!" One of her handmaidens, dutiful in their service, was trying to get the elven leader towards a group of the other golden skilled attendants. They were gathered in a circle, the magical energy building up around them as they prepared the spell that would teleport them back to Genesaris. Yes, it was time to leave now, for she could not possibly risk her life for such trifling things. "Yes, it is time. I am sorry, Lapelle, I wish we could have had better circumstances to speak, but for my people I must take my leave. If you wish, you can join me, and we can talk in my homeland."

Spoiler

No poopoo on me. Also this will be my exit post. Lovely to write with you all. Have a good day.

 

Edited by Grubbistch

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Reyna heard Grant’s footsteps as he came up beside her. She continued to gaze off into the stars in silence. Why had he followed her?

"Can't blame you for wanting away from the fairy," he spoke, "I'd call him a narcissistic prick, but that would be an insult to the fine people of the narcissistic prick community."

A grin etched itself across her face as she looked away from the night sky and back at Grant.

“You must think you’re really funny, don’t you,” she teased. She scooted slightly to the side, leaving Grant sufficient space to sit down next to her- that was if he decided on it.

“You don’t sound like you’re much of a fan of him either,” she sighed glumly, looking back up into the stars. The world around her had died down. Everyone was at the party enjoying themselves. Everyone but her would be, as long as Souji remained there to torment her.

“Prince- Grant?” she would pause as she felt the name come off unnaturally on her tongue. Grant was the child of the empress so that technically made him a prince. She hadn’t really seen anyone addressing him that way, however. And let’s face it, he behaved and dressed more like a soldier than a prince.

@danzilla3

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"Wow! I don't think I've ever seen anything like this!"

Cinderella was blown off her feet, almost literally. Thankfully, the massive, musclebound minotaur girl didn't fall over at the mere sight of it, else there would have been casualties almost immediately. Still, she did, in fact, stagger, looking wide-eyed at that thing most beautiful and unique, that fascinating object, with its regal, yet simple design, and its almost godlike appearance. Without much time for thought, she made a made dash for it, brushing past--and knocking down--civilians in the way on her warpath, until she stood right in front of it, completely mesmerized.

The man behind the hot dog stand was uncomfortable, to say the least. He had difficulty maintaining eye contact with the minotaur.

"Uh...did you want a hot dog?" He asked feebly, only to be cut off in the middle of it by the massive woman slamming her hands down on the side of it.

"I have never wanted anything more in my life than I do right now!" The girl cried with delight. Obviously terrified, and more than a little flustered, he quickly handed over a 1/2 pound sausage on a sesame bun, topped with just about everything he could muster. She accepted the delicious-looking snack with a yelp of delight, and walked off with it, deliriously happy.

The hot dog was quite possibly the greatest thing the minotaur had ever eaten. It was thick and savory, loaded with spices and from what she could tell, probably roasted in a proper oven, in a heat-proof bag to help seal in the food's sweat as it cooked. Not only that, but it was absolutely packed with everything you might ever expect to find on a hot dog of this magnitude. It had at least two different kinds of cheese that Cinder could identify, plus ketchup, some spicy mustard, sauerkraut, onion and a little bit of chili. The chili itself wasn't anything to write home about, but it did give her some ideas.

"Hey Ifrit, what if we make chili when we're done killing whoever you wanted to kill today?" She asked loudly. He, of course, ignored her. That was fine; she'd ask again later, when he could hear her over the lights and sounds of the city. 

The magnificent lights of the arcadia district were a stark contrast from nearly everywhere else that she and Ifrit had been since she'd first left her tribe behind. They'd been everywhere, certainly, and seen a lot together, from the long, low buildings of Umbra's residential district, to the quiet, almost surreal port city of Ashville. They'd seen mountain ranges and oceans, watched dragons soar through the air just above their heads and seen wolves try to sneak through the grass around them in an attempt to flank them. Yet, in all their travels, Cinderella had yet to see, or be so close to, a city with such opulence and luxury. She adored the sheen of it all; the bright, happy lights and the shadows they casted. She especially loved the way buildings just jutted out of the earth like spikes on the back of a razorpig, and how the streets were so smooth and clean and flat. 

But more than anything, she loved the parade. 

It was unlike anything a simple girl like her could fully comprehend. The entirety of the city's people might have been there today, for all she knew, and they'd all gathered for the same reason. Cinderella didn't know exactly why, but she could only assume that it was for the same reason Ifrit had been so adamant in his instructions today.

They roamed the streets, sticking closely together as people made room for her best pal as he forged ahead. They cast a few curious glances at him, and then a few at her as well. Whenever somebody made eye contact, she gave them a cheerful wave and grinned around the mass of meat and sauce and sauerkraut in her mouth, and most of the time they looked away. She got a few waves back, though! More often than not, however, the impressive majority of onlookers ignored them, instead choosing the pay attention to the road. Waiting for...something.

Cinderella took another bite of heaven, and in the process dribbled some extra toppings between her breasts. Oops.

At around this time, Ifrit finally spoke up while she tried to scoop the onion and chili out of her top.

10 hours ago, King said:

“Remember to wait for my signal.” Ifrit looked the minotaur over one final time, a mountain of muscle and furred flesh standing head and shoulder over the sea of people and non-humans flanking the floats.

 She nodded eagerly, yanking her hand out from between her bust immediately before he could chaste her for doing so. Her body wobbled at the motion, and she could have sworn she heard somebody in the crowd nearby mutter in shock at the spectacle. She took another bite of the hot dog, and Ifrit came close. Her ears perked up, and she swallowed the bit quickly. He was coming in for a hug!

She hurriedly stuffed the remainder of the snack into her gullet, and lifted her arms, ready to embrace him as he approached. Only, he surprised her by not going for the hug, and instead reaching up and grabbing her by the jaw, tugging her head down to eye level. Her arms dropped quickly, and she bent over as he tugged at her, ready to listen.

10 hours ago, King said:

“Cinderella,” he murmured sternly, reaching up to take her face with a gloved hand as he noticed her large, shimmering green eyes stray from him. “Look at me.” His fingers tensed around her jaw, squeezed her cheeks, puckering her full lips ever so slightly. “This is critical to our plans. We cannot afford to ruin this opportunity. You understand?” The Infernian’s expression, unsurprisingly, lacked the severity of his diction. Absent were the wrinkles of concern from the hard, chiseled lines that comprised his face, as was the bass of worry from his baritone. “Wait for my signal.”

Right. She remembered that Ifrit had been planning this particular spectacle for a while now. It was all he'd talked about for days on end when they traveled; he spoke about what they should expect, how much resistance there might be, and whether or not Cinderella would be expected to hurt anybody this time. Ifrit was always like this, planning far, far ahead in advance, poring over details every waking moment of the day. There were times when she could distract him long enough to do something fun, like stop by a farm in the countryside for some tasty home-cooked treats, or try to pet an animal she shouldn't have been petting. However, when he was in the zone, as she called it, there wasn't much she could do to deter him.

Besides, did she really want to deter him? As much of a downer as he could be when he was serious, she realized that it meant a lot to him when he got like this, and she was obligated to help however she could. She liked being useful to her friend, after all, and most of the time his requests were quite benign. He didn't ask her to kill anybody, didn't ask her to do anything she didn't want to do. So, she cleared her mind of distractions, just as he'd like her to, and nodded once more, even though it was tricky to move her face when he grabbed her like that.

"I goddit, I got it." The second time she'd said it, he'd already released her and begun to move on. She waved goodbye to him as he swam through the crowds in his own direction, leaving Cinderella to her devices. His command still lingered in her thoughts.

Wait for my signal.

She glanced back in his direction, and found that she already lost him. Cinderella shrugged.

Well, his signal was going to be very hard to miss. She was gonna go grab another hot dog while she waited.


As predicted, upon her appearance the float reacted. 

Lapelle watched, with a passive interest, as the very float itself bent and bowed in response to her approach. She walked upon gold-brushed leaves and garish silver branches, ascending to the float's level. Behind her the crowd was still quite excited at the whole spectacle, and behind her she was certain one or two citizens attempted to scale the staircase behind her. She didn't look back, however, and in no time at all she had reached paradise.

This was Lapelle's first annoyance. There was a metaphor here, and she disliked it.

Paradise wasn't a place, it was a standard of living. When you had so few concerns in the world that there was no real need to work hard, or adapt to the world around you, you didn't need to work as much, or care as much. As a result, life came down to a few basics; eating and enjoying yourself. In that sense, Paradise wasn't exemplified by wealthy or beauty at all. Such things were present even in the most vicious of dystopias, after all. From what Lapelle saw, the people throwing themselves upon the float couldn't see that in the slightest, so obsessed with the luxury they saw that not else came to mind. Similarly, Bodice had a very similar idea to living in luxury, one that Lapelle had never been able to fully reciprocate. In that sense, this place was not a paradise, but rather very violent propaganda suggesting such. 

Moreover was the story that was told by her invitation to board. How many people during this parade's journey had been cast off, or knocked down in their attempts to board what was purposefully designed to be a total overwhelming of the senses? Dozens? Hundreds? Lapelle suspected that almost nobody had gotten onto this float at all, except perhaps for a few scant elves somewhere. Meanwhile, she, a nobody in a very unremarkable dress, in a land where her identity, family and money meant nothing, had climbed aboard--no, been invited aboard, and ascended a comfortable staircase made of wealth in order to do so. The message was simple, and Lapelle found it to be instantly vulgar; there was nothing special about Lapelle at all. She was accepted because of circumstances of her birth that she could not control.

Upon her arrival, Lapelle was showered with compliments and praise, which she immediately tuned out. Automatons, all of them. Lapelle got the impression she was at one of Bodice's own parties, where a billion and one people lathered you in sweet words that meant nothing. They were parasites, trying to feed off of the belly of others. Only, in this sense they were more like the opposite of parasites. They weren't feeding off her success, Lapelle noticed; they were trying to spoon-feed her success. She kept them mostly out of mind as best as she could, and instead focused on the scenery, and the overall feeling of the air around it. It was...as you'd expect, peaceful. Yet somehow, whatever had driven those other poor sods mad had no effect on her, aside from a mild...ah, there it was.

While Lapelle focused on the sensation that she'd just detected, somebody else approached her, breaking her focus. She recognized the woman as the same person who'd approached her in the atrium earlier--the one who'd taken her away from drinking and idle chatter in exchange for this...cult gathering, as it was turning out to be. 

17 hours ago, Grubbistch said:

"This is all for you, you know. You and every elf out there who has felt mistreated at the hands of these people." It was the same elf who had extended her the invitation, wearing her elegant Celtic gown of purple and gold. "Follow me, and I'll lead you to Gentle Breeze, it'll be fun!" That same smile came upon her as she merrily walked in towards the back of the float, where the veiled leader stood patiently.

Hmm...

Lapelle followed without incident, lips pressed into a firm, flat line as she was brought before who she could only assume was either the leader of this particular scheme, if not the leader of the entirety of this group's agenda. 

18 hours ago, Grubbistch said:

Welcome, it is a joy to see you. Do you wish to come and admire my works with me?" She gestured to the two floating orbs in the sky, incredible recreations of the sun and the moon crafted in the finest gem stones, each one easily larger than a boulder. "They are my favorite part of this display, in that they work together so harmoniously."

Ironic. That was all Lapelle had to say on that particular comment.

The woman herself would have been pretty, Lapelle noted, had she worn less veils. She understood their symbolic meaning of course. She was meant to be ethereal, timeless, intangible even. The elven woman was disguising herself as something not unlike a goddess, or god-queen perhaps, either to better deceive her own people or to deceive those people in the streets around them. Lapelle doubted she was dressed as such specifically for Lapelle's own enjoyment, though the woman's message rang in her ears nevertheless.

This is all for you, you know.

Lapelle bowed politely, stiffly, at the neck, and exchanged a few polite words for the compliments the elves had paid her earlier.

"You've put a great deal of opulence on display here today. I think I'm beginning to understand why, now."

Lapelle did take the time to take in the sights from the inside, and, once again, just couldn't see the meaning behind it. It was gold, yes, but then what? Where was the appeal, the lustre? What exactly constituted for beauty, when everything was gold? Where was the contrast, the craftsmanship? She was riding along in a child's toy purse, for fuck's sake! She considered making a biting comment about just that, but decided against it, instead standing in silence for a while. She focused, instead on that pervading sense of calm that radiated from the world. Lapelle couldn't help but smirk at the sensation, not because she was familiar with it--she was, of course--but because it reminded her, again, of someone dear to her heart. Her sister would never have opted for such subtle tactics. If she was in your head, you knew it, and you were powerless. Only instead of making thralls of men and women, she used her talents to far worse ends; where this feeling should have been a relaxing one, Lapelle could only be reminded of the violating sensation of her sister piercing her thoughts experimentally, rooting around in her head in an attempt to find a way to make their relationship stronger. It was one of the things that had driven the two apart in the first place. Lapelle loved her sister, but she didn't love the thing that lived inside of her.

18 hours ago, Grubbistch said:

"You look just as I thought you would. So beautiful, so graceful, yet so troubled in your heart."

@Jotnotes

That voice came from within her. Around her, as if the girl next to her was trying to appear...royal, godlike...saintly. Lapelle stepped back in surprise, and with an astonishing amount of her own effort forced the paradise out of her head, forced the veiled woman out of her head. Her fists clenched as if she were tightening her grip upon reality itself, and her lip curled in disgust. She looked at the ground instead of at the woman before her, as only the most unpleasant of thoughts forced their way back through her mind.

Uneducated savage.

As much as Lapelle wanted to stay earlier, and learn more about the truth of these people and what they stood for, trying to worm into her thoughts so invasively, even with the best of intentions, was too far for her. She took a deep breath, and lifted her head, just as a cry of surprise rang out from the crowd outside. Lapelle turned her attention to the back of the float, where she was just in time to see an absolutely monstrous squadron of birds soar overhead. She watched in awe as the did what birds were wont to do, and blinked in utter surprise as they rained foul justice down upon the float--with her still in it.

Certain that a fate most vile was about to befall her, Lapelle closed her eyes and held her breath...but the deluge of doodoo never came. She opened her eyes, and glanced up in time to see a sort of field wrapped around the float. It halted the bird scat in its tracks, splattering all over it like rotten eggs hurled at a house. There was a pause, as the audience say this.

And then laughter.

The crowd around them began to chuckle, they began to snort, and in to time at all the same people who had fauned and adored the float were laughing in an uproar over the spectacle. Even with the field around it, protecting the dancers and such, the message was clear to all. Something this beautiful, this untouchable, this ignorant of the world around it was still a part of the world. And in this world, birds shit on things, no matter how beautiful they were. 

Some paradise. Lapelle couldn't help but chuckle at their own misfortune as well, keenly aware of how ridiculous she, too, would have looked if the barrier hadn't stopped any of it. Lapelle may have had differing opinions with everyone on this float, but she was still on the float. They were all held responsible for the same actions.

That last bit was important, because then the veiled woman decided to flick the excrement back onto the audience, to Lapelle bemusement. So she wasn't as graceful and poised she she wanted to pretend to be. 

The laughter on the streets turned to shouts of protest and annoyance, and then terror. Lapelle looked on to see a streak of flame sear through the air, striking the second float in line. Explosions rocked the float, and the elves on board their own vessel panicked, suddenly on edge. The high elf herself immediately looked for the source of the blow, but saw nothing from this angle. Worry crept into her otherwise annoyed mindset, and quickly the desire to expunge the truth here was replaced by the simple, more human desire to not immediately die.

Before she would get herself to safety, however, there were people that still needed help.

The elves themselves were already mobilizing around her, and Lapelle glanced towards the veiled woman in concern.

Quote

Yes, it is time. I am sorry, Lapelle, I wish we could have had better circumstances to speak, but for my people I must take my leave. If you wish, you can join me, and we can talk in my homeland."

"You're just going to leave? You have a means of instant teleportation out of here, and you're going to leave these people to whatever's going on out there?" Lapelle scoffed at her. Why was she surprised at this turn of events. Before the woman could leave, she gripped her arm tightly, and spoke to her keenly, earnestly. 

"I have no idea what you were trying to do by setting up this float, but you need to stop putting on airs for a second, madame. There are people that need to get out of here before somebody gets hurt. There could even be other elves in the crowd that way!"

However, there didn't seem to be any chance of the woman listening to her. Defeated, Lapelle had one other idea she wished to check upon before anything else.

"You there; on your way to see the Emperor." She pointed at the one maiden. "While you are in Umbra, please send my regards to Bodice Brouchard, Headmistress of Bronte, s'il tu plait." 

There was naught else for her to do. She quickly dismounted the float, escaped from the perverse sensation of peace that permeated it, and stepped out into the streets, into the beginnings of a riot.

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While she waited, Cinder tried to come up with a new word to describe something that didn't get old, no matter how often you had it. Like the feeling of smashing right on the head of a spike with your hammer, so that your instrument didn't roll to either side following the blow, and you got that really satisfying ping as the spike drove deep into the soil. Or, like the hot dog she was eating as she walked along, trying to keep up with what was going on in the streets. Ahead of her, while she continued to munch on the hot dog, she could see the first of...hang on a minute! That thing was crazy shiny!

Indeed, as the minotaur girl continued to snack and look on, the first of the floats rolled past nice and slowly. It was gold and silver all over, and glinted in the slowly rising sun like an egg yolk rolling across the street, all big and golden and nutritious. She stared on in awe; it was really really pretty, with lots of decorations, and lots of little people on it. They were dancing; they looked quite happy about it too, as if they had no idea that they were being watched. It was a spectacle to behold, and the minotaur girl couldn't help but stare at it in wonder. It was...well, it wasn't really like home. They were dancing and things looked pretty, sure, but where was the mud, and the wrestling and stuff? Heck, just looking at the float she had to wonder if it would support her weight at all if she were to approach it. The thought of toppling down such a happy seen didn't sit right with her, so she sat in place, eating her hot dog and looking just a little bit sad about it.

Other, smaller races didn't seem to have the same issues she did, though; lots of humans and a few other non-humans were shoving and pushing their way towards the front. Somebody elbowed their way past Cinderella, and she stumbled in surprise.

She collided, chest first with the back of somebody's head. They toppled over forward, face first into the pavement. 

"Oops." 

She took a step back to give them a chance to move. When her right leg came back down though, she stepped on some kind of uneven terrain, and somebody behind her yelped in surprise.

"Hey, watch my foot!" Somebody yelled at her.

"Sorry!" She quipped, growing a bit flustered. She spun in place to apologize to the man she'd stepped on, and her bust collided with another person trying to get past her. They, too, went sprawling out on the ground.

Cinderella bent over to help them back up, and knocked over another person, and this vicious cycle repeated until she'd effectively injured around a dozen people. At this point people had taken notice and given the minotaur girl a wide berth. She appreciated that a lot.

Ahead, the float had nearly completely passed them by, but the parade was still going strong. Cinderella glanced around to see if Ifrit was anywhere to be found, and when she could not find him, instead looked for something more accessible. She cast her eyes downward and bent over a bit so that her chest wouldn't get in the way as much. It only took her a second to find it, and she picked it back up. It was a little gravelly now, but her hot dog still looked delicious. She polished it off nice and quickly while turning her attention back to the parade. 

The shiny, golden, happy-looking float had passed them by, but not before a massive flock of birds flew overhead! Cinder looked upwards in open-faced awe to watch the frantic flapping of the critters as they made for the golden float directly. For a second, the cow girl's heart soared with them, and she laughed delightedly, like a child watching a mobile overhead. They must have seen the happy little float and wanted in on the fun too!

She watched it happen. They all did.

Seconds passed, and then Cinderella couldn't help but start laughing. It was a happy, bellyful sound, and it was absolutely contagious. Slowly, but certainly, the rest of the crowd began to laugh with her. It was absolutely hilarious, wasn't it? The shiny, golden thing, so pure and opulent and decadent, was covered in bird poop.

Well, 'covered' wasn't the right word. There was a sort of magical tarp on it, but the fact remained that of all the places to do so, a massive amount of birds had decided to defecate all at once on the one float. It was...well, Cinderella didn't really know what it was. Funny, certainly, but she didn't know much about poetry to say what else it was. So instead of thinking about it, she laughed, and laughed some more, until her belly began to hurt from the exertion. The roar of laughter rolled down the sidewalk, wherever the float was headed, as more and more people say the mess that had occurred. 

Cinderella turned her back on that for now, still stifling giggles. She still had a job to do, and she needed to focus. 

Now, what did Ifrit tell her to do?

She frowned--really frowned, this time--and tried to remember just what he'd told her to do. There was the thing with the first hot dog, and then she followed him down the sidewalk. They'd parted ways, but before that he'd said...hmm...

She pondered this for several seconds, more like minutes, really, racking her brain for what she was supposed to do.

She was supposed to...hammer? Hammer! That was right, she needed to hammer stuff! She snapped to attention, and realized that nothing had happened yet. 

Oh, that was right. She needed to wait, first. Wait for the signal. Then, when the signal came--

Her train of thought was cut off by a brilliant, very familiar-looking plume of fire that erupted from the next float down. Cinder looked up in excitement, and quickly found the man she was looking for.

"Yay! Whoo! Go Ifrit!" She called from the sidelines, like a massive mountain of a cheerleader. For several seconds, the people closest to her cheered as well, before realizing what was really going on, and all around her, people began to scream and run.

...wait, was that the signal?

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Grant figured he must have done something right when the young lady smiled and seemed to gesture for him to sit next to her. He happily did so, taking off his hat and balancing it on one knee as he took his seat. She asked if he thought he was funny; but by the grin on her face he could tell that she at least seemed to think so. For a moment they sat in silence, enjoying the cool night air that carried the sounds of the festival to them. Reyna still wasn't completely at ease, which he guessed was because of Souji's presence; a theory vindicated when she guessed that he and the fairy didn't get along.

"You've a gift for understatement," Grant replied, "I despise the bastard. Sometimes I hope he betrays us just so I have an excuse."

He felt no need to elaborate on what that excuse would be for; knowing Reyna was smart enough to catch his meaning. 

10 hours ago, Frostbinder said:

“Prince- Grant?”

He looked at her and smiled, "Just Grant is fine."

@Frostbinder

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He looked at Reyna and smiled, "Just Grant is fine."

She chuckled.

“Not one for formalities, are you?” a bright burst of light from the parade lit up the night sky, consuming the stars and their beauty momentarily.

“Your mother is talented and respectable, to have this large a following,” she gestured to the hundreds of lights within small cottages that were spread out across the plain, residents of Hyperion who chose not to live in the city. The city was homely and comfortable. It reminded her of the town in which she had grown up. By now, she had long forgotten its name, but the images were still etched painfully in her mind. She wanted to forget, but some things just never leave.

For a while, their silence endured. It wasn’t an awkward silence, but a comforting and peaceful silence that was meant to allow one to clear the head. She still couldn’t figure out why the son of the Empress would have wanted to sit with her when he could have been in so many other places, doing so many other things that would have been worth his time. Huh. That brought a funny thought to mind.

“I don’t suppose you could tell me why you followed me,” she gazed into his irises. Comforting green irises that she probably spent a little too long staring into. But now she was very curious.

“Souji isn’t the only thing that’s bothering you,” she stated matter-of-factly.

@danzilla3

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19 minutes ago, Frostbinder said:

“Souji isn’t the only thing that’s bothering you,”

"He would be more than enough on his own," quipped Grant, "But no. He isn't the only thing."

That group of elves led by that strange woman was currently weighing on his mind; as he knew that they were up to no good, even if he wasn't sure how yet. The way Gentle Breeze behaved just didn't make any sense to him; calling for the Queen in her own kingdom and then letting the matter drop at the first sign of resistance. Sure, it was possible that she was just testing to see how much she could get away with, but it didn't track. Besides, he couldn't get that brooch the elf had given him out of his mind. It hadn't done anything to him, but that didn't mean it wasn't dangerous. He would have to get it examined once the festival was over.

"As for why I followed you..." he shrugged, "I guess that's because its been a while since I've been in the company of a beautiful young woman. Not since..."

The Knight stopped mid-sentence as he realized that he was about to tell a woman he had only known for a very short while the story of his wife. That subject was still a painful one; so much so that he rarely discussed it even with Raveena or Rowan. Yet here he was about to tell Reyna everything. It was then that he realized just how at ease he felt around her; how comforting her presence was. Then he realized that he had just trailed off and quickly spoke.

"Sorry about that. Like I said, its been awhile."

@Frostbinder

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"I guess that's because it’s been a while since I've been in the company of a beautiful young woman.”

Reyna’s cheeks turned bright red. Her eyes widened in her shock before she started laughing. She would take a few seconds to compose herself, her face still flushed.

“I’m sorry, it’s just- We’ve only just met each other Grant!” she exclaimed, shaking her head. Every single word that he had just spoken about her being ‘beautiful’ or ‘young’ was most absolutely and depressingly far from the truth, apart from the fact that she was indeed a woman.

“My god. Your mother would have my head for allowing you to speak to me in this manner. I’ll assume that you are aware of the kind of work that I did for her? It generally didn’t involve getting in and out with clean hands,” she now took a moment to look around, making sure that they were still absolutely alone. But while her words spoke in one way, her tone spoke in another. In truth, she didn’t want Grant to leave. She enjoyed his company, in some ways that she shouldn’t have. She was starting to feel increasingly warm in her dress.

@danzilla3

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25 minutes ago, Frostbinder said:

“I’m sorry, it’s just- We’ve only just met each other Grant!”

Grant's heart sank for a moment; and he wondered if he had gone too far too fast. All of the false memories he had of his wife only depicted him and her as happy; and most importantly, already married to each other. He had no memories of a courtship, or dating, or anything that would come before that. At first he had assumed it part of his memory loss; but now that he knew the truth he realized that the people implanting the memories simply didn't see a need to make up any kind of history. The memory of his wife was there to keep him compliant in case he ever broke free from them; a purpose that it had served well. 

This meant that when it came to talking to people with whom he might have a romantic interest; he had no real idea what to do. It was part of the reason why he had never pursued much of a love life; as he felt that he would only embarrass himself. But then it was in his personality to be honest with people; at least when he was off the clock. Maybe he didn't know all the proper steps to courting a woman; but maybe he didn't need to. Perhaps honesty was enough.

34 minutes ago, Frostbinder said:

“My god. Your mother would have my head for allowing you to speak to me in this manner. I’ll assume that you are aware of the kind of work that I did for her? It generally didn’t involve getting in and out with clean hands,”

Screw it.

Grant gently took Reyna's hand and held it in his own; holding up the entwined hands so they could each see both side by side, and looked into her eyes.

"If your hands are dirty, then mine are equally so."

They were so close now... he leaned in halfway; making his intention known, but leaving Reyna space to back out if she wanted to refuse. 

@Frostbinder

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The Cambion was pleased with the turnout despite the lack luster appearance of the other half of the float in comparison to his own. The crowd seemed equally pleased, at least with their theatrics. The joy and merriment did not last for very long however. Though he was sensitive to energy and able to identify most types there of, Xartia initially paid no mind to the accumulation and molding of infernal flames somewhere off to the side among the crowds. Then of course there was the ruckus a float or two back concerning some rather embarrassing elves compared to those he had associated with over the years. Ultimately, the shrieks and cries of the citizens begged him to look towards the source as they scattered away from the Infernian like roaches. His sparkling emerald eyes grew wide as he saw a javelin of flames within his grasp. The formal act of preparing to throw it, and before that the obvious intent in the Infernian's gaze, made telegraphing his intent more than easy to the experienced eyes of Xartia. 

"Get closer to me now!"

He exclaimed as he worked the Great Aether to his whim. A translucent orb akin to a bubble the size of a baseball appeared betwixt his hands, encased within ghastly tricolor flames of purple, blue, and green. Rapidly the orb expanded hundreds of times it's size by fractions of seconds, in which his fellow arcanists swarmed around him as instructed. The javelin struck true to it's intended target, triggering a grandiose explosion of coppery flames that completely enveloped the float it was thrown at, and seemingly those upon it as it worked to burn the object of the javelin's affect to cinder. To those keen to sensory like Xartia himself, or perhaps even more so than himself, they could feel that in the belly of the flames, he and his colleagues were currently unscathed in the assault. It appeared that the Magician had afforded them each their safety, thanks to his quick thinking of expanding a barrier.

"Keep up, I cannot release the barrier without first escaping these wretched flames."

As furious as he was deep down inside, he was also finding an odd sense of gratitude about this attack. He was in fact advertising an academy angled to teaching other's the arcane arts, primarily with the intent of self defense. Beyond the live action application of free advertising however, a fire of it's own lit up within Xartia. A flame of ire and of retribution. Stepping forth over the coppery flames and the debris they shrouded, the quartet strolled out of the aftermath of the explosion. While others attempted to escape the one responsible, the Arcanists approached the offender. Once they had found themselves free of the threat of the coppery flames, the stance of Xartia's arms released, and the barrier slowly diminished from around them. This left his associates to flee in fear with the crowds as they grew awry over the act. Xartia however simply stopped walking and cast his narrowed green eyes upon the Infernian. For the briefest of moments, he considered that Koji might have been responsible. Though such thoughts quickly vanished as he recalled his son being the sort to want to hash things out personally himself regardless of his status.

"Brother give me strength."

He muttered to himself as he assimilated and pooled more of the Great Aether from the infinite sources constantly surrounding him, even from the flames projected at him mere moments ago. Should sensitive ears pick up on his words, or keen eyes read his lips, it would be up to the recipient of his words to himself to understand them for what they were, or to mistake them for what they thought they were. No, he wasn't asking his brother for the strength to fight as if praying to some god. He was hoping that thoughts of his brothers would suffice in helping him have the strength to hold back, lest his wished to threaten the livelihood of one of his dearest friends and current allies civilians, as well as their beautiful city. As for the Infernian, he had no words of the peon that chose him as the perfect target for a terrorist attack. He simply prepared himself to respond in kind. Whether or not the Infernian would take it upon himself to attack again before he could or not was completely up to him. Regardless, for the first time since his arrival and even the arrival of his Avatar before him, the wrath of Xartia was seconds away from being witnessed by the general populace. The final warning would be the mysterious reveal of two small orbs like the one glimpsed before becoming a barrier. They appeared out of thin air and immediately took to orbiting their caster on a bouncing, broken pattern. Unlike his pooling energy from his personal reserves, these orbs were a product of borrowed energy from the Great Aether itself. It should be noted that in their current state of pure, infinite potential, the orbs were completely incapable of creating any affect as is, as well as completely incapable being physically affected. At least until Xartia defined them through dedicated purpose.

Spoiler

+1 Prep Gained

+2 Materia Gained

 

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Perhaps not getting involved sooner would prove to be his fault on this day, though Jinsoku was certain that rashness would have earned him no positive results. However, it seemed that the proverbial shit hitting the fan was on a constant slope towards the worst. There was no doubt in his mind that the Enforcers were activating as he watched the events unfolding one by one, inspiring chaos and panic among the people here today both native and otherwise. As his training and experience dictated, Jinsoku first ensured his own safety and composure. After a deep breath and a mild exhaling sigh, he swiftly took to action amidst the crowds. His first task was to help evacuate the immediate area, and to try and do so as safe and orderly as possible. Not only did he reassure those he could that they would be fine, and that those able should help their neighbors so to speak, but he also ensured that as least amount of people as possible found themselves knocked down and/or trampled as a result of the brewing shit storm. While he wondered where the Queen was, he was more than certain she was safe, though  if he knew Raven as much as he thought he did, she wouldn't be for long. Not because she would find herself threatened, but because like a moth to flame, she would surely be drawn to her people in a moment where they needed her most. Even though those under her employ were worthy of handling the situation themselves. As much as she wished to come see the parade, he was more than pleased to not have Kotori to watch over in this moment. She might have wanted to help as he did, though she was still too small, too young to help him accomplish things in situations as these. Besides, last thing he wanted was for her to be like him or to do as he did, even if those around these parts especially had began to see and claim him as a hero. A champion of the Queen herself.

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To be chosen by the gods is not the same as being one of them. Even elves are flawed in a way, my child. Will you overcome these flaws and surpass expectations into greatness? or will you drown in them, never to be seen again?

The elf who spoke those words had been dead for hundreds of years, but his wisdom still rang out as clear as when first spoken. Behind these gilded walls and over the top opulence lied a girl scared of the world, refusing to leave the comfort of what she knew instead of venturing outward. It had always been fear that motivated a great many of Gentle Breeze's actions, and slowly, it had changed her entirely. How did she loose sight of her true self so easily?

In truth, she was not only scared for herself, but for her people as well. She was so afraid of her people dying, she constructed a living paradise that kept them safe, at the expense of what made them unique and truly beautiful. Death, struggle, hardship, these were what forged a truly strong people, what allowed them to survive even the harshest of storms. For too long she had coddled them with her power, and in doing so, made herself into the largest fool of them all. Perhaps there can still be a chance to rectify that mistake however, but she had to buy her people time.

Looking to her Handmaidens, they seemed scared, but resolute to get Gentle Breeze to safety. Many of them looked to her as a mother, some even were her daughters, but today she had failed them, for they were completely unprepared for this. "We are not leaving, not until everyone is okay."

"What?" One of them said in surprise. "My Lady it's not safe here, we have to go now!"

"No place is truly safe. I apologize for not teaching you all that, for not teaching you many things that I should have. Please, go out and help whoever you can, no matter who they are. We are better than no one if we value one life more than another. Quickly now, while I draw this monster's attention." Understandably they protested, not wanting to leave the person they loved most behind to such a fate. Had any of them even seen someone die? Good Gods, she thought, how could I have been so foolish? Fortunately their loyalty was great enough that they did as they were told, lending their magical talents to help anyone in harm's way, providing protective barriers so they could escape into safer parts of the city.

Trees began to twist and uproot from the ground, converging upon the she-elf as she spoke the ancient words of power. Something about this land had weakened her magic, making it difficult for her to bring about her full power, but she still had enough at the moment to fight. Silver and gold meshed together, conforming around her body until her shape became obscured by the thick, metallic foliage. When the process was finished, Gentle Breeze no longer had the form of an elf, but that of a shining golem of nature's fury, twelve feet tall and covered in razor sharp points. With glowing eyes of silver and gold, it let loose a roar like the coming fury of a tempest.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcTqhULIxLTNzITBfAkBFTu

"My name is Gentle Breeze. You have trespassed here and slaughtered the innocent. By the will of Gaialustrasiona, Solariamelosalia, and Lunaluthlorial, I will strike you down." With large, lumbering steps, it began to charge forward towards the Fire Lord.

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There was a sudden warm silence that lingered in the air. For a while, Reyna was lost in Grant’s eyes as he gazed back at her. The gentle night breeze whistled by, running through both of their hair. Then, he took her hand. She gasped, her mind telling her to pull away, but her heart pleading that he wouldn’t stop.

"If your hands are dirty, then mine are equally so.”

What did that mean? Reyna couldn’t think. Her heart pounded as her eyes followed the movement of his hand. It was almost as if he had her in a trance. Was her mind that weak? And then he leaned in, silencing all thoughts within her mind. In the back of her head, a weak voice willed her to consider the consequences of what she was about to do. But that voice had no power over her sudden overwhelming desire. She leaned in as well, her other hand reaching to touch his neck-

“Master Knight!” an emissary yelled as he turned the corridor into the corner where they had been sitting. “Master Knight! This is very bad! Someone has attacked- Oh. Am I intruding, sir?”

Reyna’s hand fell. She broke away from Grant, turning on the man. Dark purple streaks of mana formed in her eyes. The man turned in terror, trying to flee, but she had her grasp on him much faster than he could react. A small purple ring formed around his forehead.

Forget,” she said. She turned her fingers, slowly spinning him around, before breaking the spell.

He continued to ramble as if he had seen nothing, “Master Knight! This is very bad! Someone has attacked the parade! You must return to your mother’s side immediately!”

“What?” Reyna’s eyes widened.

“A minotaur, and some… pyromancer blew up one of the floats. Everyone is trying to run away, but there are still some trapped in the fire,” the emissary replied.

“Grant, go take your side by your mother. I’ll head to the floats and deal with the situation,” she began to leave. If Grant decided to follow after her, she would turn and take his hand, looking sadly into his eyes, “Your rightful place is by your mother’s side. I’m an expendable mercenary. Now go.” Then, she would turn to leave, her bullwhip unfurling into her palm as she hurried to the parade.

 

 

The scene was one of utter chaos. The fire was spreading in every direction, although a single hollowed out area was visible, where a standstill between Xartia the Black and an unknown man was taking place. Partially obscured by the smoke was a gigantic treant creature that was beginning to lumber over to the fight. All this happened while the fire continued to spread to nearby buildings and vegetation. Reyna had heard stories of the legendary power that Xartia commanded at his fingertips. Intruding on his fight would be suicide. And at this moment, she realized the danger that such a powerful man posed to those around him. She didn’t have time to think, however, as a burning beam came crashing down nearby onto an injured woman. Reyna’s hand shot out, albeit a little late. The burning beam slowed down, before hovering above the woman.

“Go!” Reyna yelled to her, her face contorting. Her entire body felt as if it was under the pressure of that single beam. The woman managed to squirm away before Reyna’s grip faltered, and the beam came crashing down just inches away from her. Bending over and panting, she whipped her head from side to side. This wasn’t working. There were simply too many people, and the area that the fire affected would just continue to grow. She had to stop, or at least slow down the fire.

Removing her gloves, she would allow the magical energy to conjure fully in her palms. She needed gloves to maintain control over unstable spells like pyrokinesis that her body was not capable of performing. Ice was a different story; she had a natural affinity for it. Turning away from the battle and towards the edge of the fire, Reyna ran along the flames, blasting them with cocoons of frozen water, which when melted, gushed over the flames. As she attempted to put out the fire, she looked into the distance where she had last seen Raveena. She hoped that no harm had come to her. Then she thought about Grant. Then her mind went silent as she reflected on what had just happened as they were sitting under the stars.

@danzilla3 @Deus Ex Aizen @Twitterpated @Bardic Knowledge @Grubbistch @King

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In the moment that Reyna leaned in to kiss him, Grant felt a happiness that he had not felt in a very long time. More than just a physical reaction; it was a joy inspired by the knowledge that he could still connect with another person on such an intimate level. For the longest time now he had wondered if he was capable of romantic attraction; and if he could, whether he would be worthy of having that attraction returned. But now, in this moment, he was sure of all of those things. The moment could have lasted forever and he wouldn't have cared, but sadly time continued to move forward. A guard came around the corner calling for him. When he saw the pair Reyna took action and erased the mans memory. He wasn't sure that was necessary; but from what the guard was saying, there was no time to think about it further.

2 hours ago, Frostbinder said:

“Grant, go take your side by your mother. I’ll head to the floats and deal with the situation,”

The spy-prince wanted nothing more than to follow Reyna into battle; and for a moment he was able to rationalize it fairly well. After all did he not have a duty to his people, the very ones that mercenary was now going to aid? The answer to that question was yes; but it also forced him to realize that his duty to his people was to ensure that his mother came through the night alive. So he gritted his teeth and nodded; but as she turned to leave, Grant called out.

"Don't die out there."

With that, he and the guard took off back toward the palace. Grant took off his hat and coat; knowing they would restrict his movement, and handed them to the guard before boosting the MERLIN implant to twenty percent and leaving the guard behind him. 

Now he just had to make it back in time.

@Deus Ex Aizen @Frostbinder @Twitterpated @Bardic Knowledge @Grubbistch @King

 

 

Edited by danzilla3

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SHANGDI.jpg?width=199&height=300

 

It was truly a lovely festival; one that reminded him of the ones that they had in his homeland to mark the summer and winter solstices. Generally he did not permit himself to think about the home he had left behind; as it inevitably led to thoughts of the people he had failed to protect. Dwelling on his past failures was unproductive; he had already made his mistakes, and all that was left was to press forward. But tonight he allowed himself to indulge in a small bit of nostalgia; the revelry around him transporting him to a land far from here, to the happiest he had ever been. After a few minutes, he allowed himself to come back to the present moment; realizing that he had lost track of his students.

After a month of intense training during which they had exceeded his expectations, Ren had decided that a night spent at the festival would be the perfect way for his students to let off a little steam. When he found that he couldn't see any of them around him he felt a small twinge of worry that he quickly banished from his thoughts. They were all adults and could take care of themselves just fine. Well, except for Kotori, who was still a child; but he knew Jinsoku would look after her as he always did. Perhaps he would take some time to visit a certain tea shop he had heard of...

Such thoughts were dashed when a man from the crowd stepped forth to fling a javelin of flame at one of the floats; causing it to explode into flame. For a moment he worried that those on the float had perished, but he then saw the man leading it protecting himself and his people from the flames. As men and women rushed away from the scene, Ren saw Jin and Kotori helping those trapped by debris escape. He approached and clapped the young man on the shoulder.

"Your instincts are correct Jinsoku. I shall leave the evacuation of these people to you. Spread word to the others should they arrive. I shall attend to the perpetrator."

In the blink of an eye, Ren moved to stand beside Xartia as the elf from one of the other floats moved to intercept the attacker. Smoke and dust filled the air, and small fires burned everywhere. Such things could be troublesome for those looking to escape, and those looking to protect them. Ren channeled qi into his arms and clapped his hands together. The resulting shockwave was enough to blow away most of the smoke and put out the smaller fires. Now that the air was clear he stared down the man who had turned this festival into a night of terror for so many. Power radiated off him in waves; and Ren knew this would not be an easy fight.

"My, my," he said as he gathered his qi for battle, "Even I won't escape this one unscathed."

@Twitterpated @Grim Wolf @Laughingmad @Diremast

Edited by danzilla3

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