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Though the broad strokes remained the same, Iblis had found himself fascinated by the small details that had changed in the world while he had been gone. The city that he now walked through hadn't even existed when he had last ventured to this part of the world; yet now it was the center of a blooming empire. By far the most interesting thing about the city was its architecture, which reminded the Djinn of a world he had glimpsed long before he had come to Valucre. It was truly a shame that he didn't have more time to take in the sights, but he had come here for a reason; and he did not wish to tarry here longer than necessary. He was already more visible than he would like, as the time was not yet right for him to reveal his true self to the world.

But the possibility of making an alliance with such a powerful figure, the Emperor of a newly born nation, was worth appearing in person for. After all, the Emperor was taking a risk simply by agreeing to meet him and his two companions in the first place; never mind in such a public venue. Showing up in person showed that Iblis was willing to take the same risk he asked of the other man; and letting him meet the true leader of Crossroads indicated the respect the Djinn had for his station. No one else would be meeting him, or even be made aware of his existence for quite some time after this. Working in the shadows is difficult if everyone knows who you are.

Night had begun to fall, and the smell of cooking and the shouts of vendors began to fill the air. One stand in particular caught his eye; and he strayed from the path long enough to go and talk with the man running the stall. He returned with three skewers on which were four dumplings a piece; and handed one to each of his companions.

"The vendor called them Dango," Iblis explained before popping one in his mouth, "I've always adored confections."

@Twitterpated @carrionjackal

 

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"Dango?" a puzzled look graced the face of the pink haired geisha doll that accompanied the two men. Her complexion was already quite pale, so she only really needed some accents in black and rouge to complete the look. Both however were clad in silken robes, Hixel's vibrant in color, leaving Litalis in his usual shades of black.

Litalis did not question, however, and took the dango that was offered and promptly sampled one. The green one had a pleasant floral note accompanied by its sweet yet earthy base notes. The necromancer nodded to Iblis. He was not one for sweets, but this satisfied with its delicate flavor and texture. Hixel had already consumed hers with all the grace of a stock animal.

"You can put a hog in a dress, and yet... it is still a hog." Litalis said sharply as he eyed his minute companion. Turning his attention back to Iblis, he spoke. "It would be nice to remain here a little longer, but the matter of business at hand. We should be on our way to the tea house."

Litalis tucked the skewer between his teeth, motioning with his arm that they might continue. "A foothold of sorts in Genesaris would be mighty helpful. I hear that all the fall out from the Whispernight fiasco has left quite a few previous valuables unclaimed and out in the open." He looked briefly to Iblis before looking ahead once more. His arm caught that of Hixel's, corraling the nymph before she might be indulged by another street vendor.

"We shall eat after business, once Master Iblis can be out of the public eye."

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As omagatoki fell upon the lands, the Imperial City's famous Tea House made it's seamless transition into a Tavern. Particularly on this day however, the customer's were ushered out, leaving limited staff on duty and otherwise clearing out the establishment for a hopefully fruitful meeting. Chijono Heika had been particularly busy as of late, building his Empire whilst constantly in preparation for inevitable conflict. From training the average citizen as well as the average soldier, to building weapons of low and high tech alike, magitech even. Blazing a trail all their own, the Datsuzoku no doubt drew positive attention along with the negative. This particular positive attention was to blame for today's meeting to take place. A mysterious benefactor sought relations with the Dynasty, and its Emperor was eager to figure out exactly what that meant. Still, with his swift acquisitions across large and divided lands, Koji was weary of new faces. Ever vigilant to the likes of spies or even assassins. No attempt had yet been made on his life directly, though he had no shame in suspecting that any of those closest to him could in fact reveal themselves to be a snake in the grass.

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Seemingly alone, the Dragon Emperor waiting in silence. His emotionless mug harbored a cold smoldering gaze of violet, the natural darkening of his iris', testament of him growing into full maturity. Dressed without his traditional robes, he wore a purple over white haori, a black hakama, and a meager pair of oak geta. Black tabi socks to boot. One might see him at first glance and count him double the fool to appear unarmed, just as he did unaccompanied. Though any outsider looking in would be the ever greater fool to think that the Emperor was not well protected in his own nation, or to mistake him less of a threat without conventional weaponry. Still, it was a risk none the less to meet with a stranger so suddenly, for reasons much more troublesome than death given the right circumstances. With that narrowed gaze he watched the door intently. His serpantine slits for pupils dilated briefly, growing as thin as single strands of hair as he could feel his company arriving before they even breached the walls of this fine establishment. The rice paper doors slid ajar to great the outsiders entrance into the building, only to shut beyond them, leaving the wanting patrons to wait for business to resume for the evening. Seemless to the visits expectations, the strangers would surely be escorted out a different way than they entered, thus allowing the patrons to flood the establishment without seeing faces that wished not to be seen, and without the spreading of whispers on the wind breathing into rumors like fanning flame. 

@danzilla3 @carrionjackal

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The crowd of curious onlookers that had gathered outside the tea shop silently parted as Iblis and his companions neared; as though they could sense that they were the ones the Heika awaited. As the rice paper screens parted as they approached, the djinn had no doubt that they were being watched; and if he truly felt like it he could likely find all of them, but refrained as a courtesy to his host. It was most pleasing to know that the Heika had taken the proper precautions for their meeting; not allowing his home field advantage to make him complacent. Caution and discretion were vital at this stage of their enterprise; and it seemed like Koji was a man who understood such things.

Inside the establishment the group was approached by several servants offering to take their weapons and other such accessories. Iblis gladly parted with his hat, and most importantly the sword at his hip; demonstrating both respect, and that he felt perfectly comfortable without a weapon. He walked over to stand a respectful distance from the Emperor and bowed deep enough to convey respect, though not so deep as to demonstrate subservience.

"Greetings, your Imperial Majesty. You honor me with this meeting."

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The pair followed Iblis through the entrance to the establishment; the necromancer was easily overlooked for his bright, and colorful companion. All the same, the raven veil his hair often fell into did him no disservice keeping his features from being noticed. Hixel continued to beam about, soaking in every aspect of their visit to this kingdom within the Midlands. The Imperial City was nothing if not incredible, and her reactions were evidence enough of that. Litalis had not been false earlier, he really would like to partake more of the culture and perhaps their arts and literature if time permitted. Business first though; Litalis nodded cautiously as they made their way into the Tea House.

Litalis was sure to mimic the actions of Iblis precisely. The world they were in was one firmly seated in tradition and protocol. It would do them poorly to lose face over some tiny gesture. Hixel had already been warned long before they reached the Imperial City of the expectations both men had for her. It was not to be in any manner one of her usual tavern visits.

As they disarmed, emerald eyes took in the delicate features of the building's interior. He understood guards to be everywhere and yet unseen. It amused him, but out of a sense of appreciation. Too often these days there was a needy for a show. Guards needed to be present to enforce an idea. This was an altogether different world. Litalis nodded to Hixel as he surrendered his blade and concealed knives, so she too would surrender her own hidden blades. She silently protested, looking immediately to Litalis and then to Iblis, but she made no comment, nor further fuss.

Litalis and Hixel flanked Iblis on either side, but about a foot behind him. Both kept a sharp eye on Iblis, matching the depth of their bows and watching for further direction. This was a meeting where they were not necessarily participants. Protocol would be to let the Emperor lead the conversation, and Iblis was their leader; he could handle business for the time being.

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He watched intently at their respective reactions to handing over their weapons. While he would have allowed them to keep their weapons should they have denied the request, he would not have taken it personally. He would've allowed it even. Yet, he seemed to find an immediate source of admiration to their arrival, followed by their respectful greetings in the form of bodies folding at the Emperor's presence. He returned half he depth of their bows, as a sign of acceptance and as mutual respect as he could afford them given the venue. 

"I appreciate the formalities, please, join me."

He told them plainly as his draconic hand motioned for the small table before him, in which they would be expected to take kneeling seats on the mats in kind to the nature of the Emperor himself.

"Usually I would dress in my Imperial Robes, though your request of discretion managed to persuade me to take a more casual approach. Allow me to refresh you all as we get down to business. Having caught The Black Dragon at its transitional phase of the day, you are free to elect either menu you prefer. You may have food prepared if you wish, along with your choice of some nice tea or some of our home brewed Kitsune wine, courtesy of the Empress herself."

His hand withdrew, yet his offer remained. He himself seemed to have nothing before him, with a desire for nothing. Granted he would likely partake in his visitors choice as to not be rude. Still, his kind didn't require sustenance like those of the hume variety. Though he could digest them none the less. Eager to get down to talking business, he silently waited for one of the men, perhaps the one already speaking, to say more. There was no need for formal introductions. They knew he he was, and he had a vague idea of whom they were despite their wishes to remain hidden from general existence.

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At the emperor's request, Iblis lowered himself to the floor, crossing his legs; gratefully picking up the tavern menu once he was seated. Once his companions had sat beside him, he would gently place a reassuring hand on Hixel's in a low key gesture of comfort. He had noticed her apprehension in handing over her weapons, and felt that a bit of reassurance was in order to put her at ease. It never stopped being strange to him, how quickly he had become fond of the two who walked at his side. He had always respected them, as he never would have recruited them otherwise, but now he also felt genuine affection alongside that respect.

"I'm afraid I know very little about tea," Iblis replied, "But I am well versed when it comes to wine. I would love to sample some of this Kitsune brew."

As the waiter bowed and went to fetch the wine, Iblis began, "With your permission, I shall skip the formalities and move straight to the business which has brought us here today."

If Koji didn't object, he would continue, "I am the founder of an organization that seeks to move this world into the next phase of its existence. For too long mankind has been content to stagnate; to simply exist instead of striving for more. If they will not move forward on their own, then we will become the force that pushes them over the edge; whether into ruin, or new glory."

"You are a man of wisdom and ambition; your creation of this empire is proof enough of that" Iblis bowed, stopping only so he did not hit the table, "I humbly ask that you lend us your strength."

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The duo graciously took there seated places beside Iblis, grateful for the audience they were given. Hixel was reserved but still struggling to overcome the severe nature of the visit. A thin smile was painted on her lips, much like the very red and rouge used to paint her face. She cautiously looked to the two men at her side, and then down to the hand resting upon her own. The corners of her mouth slowly began to pull back and she began to breathe a little easier. Both of her companions seemed well at peace, without any unease. The prospect of a drink was also more than welcome at this point, her nerves were in dire need of something to break the tension that held her body in knots.

Litalis on the other hand seemed well at ease, still evaluating each little thing, but ultimately content to remain minimal in the current portion of the meeting. As their conversation briefly shifted to the matter of refreshment, he spoke up. His voice firm, yet calm and dark. "I agree, Iblis, if wine is the specialty of the realm, then by all means. We should sample of their graciously offered fruits." Litalis nodded deeply to their host and offered a nod to Hixel as well. "Our smallest companion will have the same. She may look a bit slight young, but it is all part of her deception."

The necromancer took pause at this, letting the conversation return to the Emperor and Iblis once again. Hixel looked about the room, taking a look at each of the men but each time returning to the emperor. Her exposure to different cultures had been rather limited, particularly as her experience as a soldier of fortune rarely afforded her the opportunity to be in such an audience. She smiled politely and mimicked Iblis' actions; she was somewhat restless being so quiet and still, but the experience held her interest regardless. Her eyes alone were watching for any hint of the wine's arrival. A bit of refreshment would be reward enough for her momentary patience. 

Edited by carrionjackal

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simple nod was all he afforded the foreigner, granting the man's request to get right down to business as to not waste either of their respective, valuable time. It seemed that the request was just as simple as his nod. The unmistakable brain of the organization was in search of desired muscle. While Koji was almost insulted by one asking him for brawn, he had to understand just the type of people he was dealing with. Besides, the request was easy to fulfill if granted. Though of course the Emperor was more than curious to know; 

"In return for my strength, what do you deem of equal or lesser value to offer?"

By the time the Emperor started to give his response, the service delivered the Kitsune sake as intended. It was served in a complete set of a porcelain vase or gourd of some sort, and accompanied by a matching cups in the amount of three. One for each of the person's setting at the only filled table in the dining room. As the service dismissed itself, the Emperor continued as he had formally intended.

"It is clear that your Organization has goals in tandem with those set by my Empire. Though unfortunately that is not enough to afford my strength. Likewise, you need strength, therefore I can assumed you have none to offer me in return. Though something tells me you have something you know I must need or want. Perhaps something that could in fact be another key to my success."

One chance. Without trying to butter him up before hand, this motley crew had afforded themselves a single chance to strike a worthy bargain with this young, ambitious Emperor. He was almost certain he had no need for them specifically, though Iblis hadn't even revealed as much about himself as he knew about the Emperor. That gave the young Lord hope that they might actually have a chance at creating a mutually beneficial relationship. As he waited for Iblis to begin talking again, Koji took it upon himself to serve the sake for them each, in which he would take the first cup and drink from it. The extraordinary rice wine was sweet and smooth, there was a flavor of particular spice though the only heat afforded the liquid was from that of the wormed porcelain. 

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Iblis had known the moment would arrive when the Emperor would ask him to prove that Crossroads had the power to be of use to him. It had proved to be more of a challenge then he had first thought. A display of destruction would prove his power beyond all doubt, but it seemed unwise to destroy the man's land while asking him for help. Healing usually impressed the skeptics, but he hadn't brought any wounded with him, and it seemed unlikely the Emperor would approve of the injury of his citizenry just to prove a point. No, for this he would have to get creative; something that showed not only his power but his creativity. 

The Djinn reached deep within himself, summoning the power he would need to accomplish the feat. In centuries passed, he would have been able to achieve such a thing with barely a thought, but his power had diminished during his time in captivity. For the moment it was almost impossible for him to achieve anything but the most basic of powers unless someones wish allowed him to do so. But he had slowly begun to build his power back by granting wishes to the downtrodden, and while he was still a shadow of his former self, he could still occasionally pull off something impressive using his own strength.

When he had gathered the requisite power, he smiled and raised his right hand to snap his fingers. Instantly his group and the Emperor were surrounded by a ring of swords that looked as though they had been thrust into the floor. The guards around them instinctively reached for their blades... only to find that it was their own swords that now surrounded their Emperor. In the stunned silence that followed, a commotion could be heard outside, and one of the guards went to open the doors to see the cause of the ruckus. Outside, the streets were lined with swords as far as the eye could see; seemingly sprouting from the ground like steel flowers.

"You've a lovely armory," Iblis said, taking the cup in front of him and taking a sip, "And you're bodyguards carry some of the finest steel I've ever seen."

Taking another sip of the fantastic wine, Iblis looked up at the Emperor, "Such things are of course not the only thing I offer. Even as we speak, other members of my organization move to insert themselves into places of power and influence. From these corners of power, we will alter the course of the world itself."

Edited by danzilla3

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Though it was closed and hidden, even the dormant Mugen-me wasn't completely blind to the prowess of Iblis. Having never met one before personally, the preternatural senses he harbored could pick out that he was a creature of great magic, though this was a fine display of just how impressive he really was. The prowess of a Djinn was apparently of no laughing matter. Even more so when they weren't deigned as slave to someone undeserving of their power. This free Djinn was a true danger to all, even to the Emperor himself. Yet here he was, bargaining for relations with his brand.

"While I am curious to know of the places you are moving on, I will refrain from asking and simply request that I be made aware if or when necessary."

He spoke without showing any signs of reacting to the impossible feat that had just occurred. His face remained a blank slate, his narrowed eyes staring on in disinterest despite his rather high level of interest by now. He drank of the Kitsune sake again, continuing once he had done so.

"From this moment on, you may consider the Crossroads and the Datsuzoku as allied fronts. Do not hesitate to request my assistance with anything, for I am already certain I have a favor in mind for you to assist me with carrying out."

With his plans to return to Union City following his previous visit, he was certain his intervention would be needed once more. These people seemed to be a key in his immediate success after all, for with their help, he needed not to lift a finger to help persuade the Midlands to back his cause. Once they had made acceptance of any terms, Koji would certainly proceed to debrief them on the important details of the beginning power struggle, and his desire to nip things in the bud from the get go. With them on his side, orchestrating the perfect plan would certainly be easier. Likewise, if they had an immediate request, then Koji would already be willing to make accommodations. Despite how young their established relationship was, Koji was primed to proceed, considering neither of them were human even if they looked more or less like one. Without all the extra, these wolves in sheep clothing bid in minimal nature, trusting nothing more than their instincts. Or at least it seemed that way from the Emperor's perspective. 

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