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[ Crystallo Stella ] Summer Solstice Coronation: A New Beginning

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Sabine leaned into the Queen’s ear and murmured quietly. It was a report that all was quiet and well. The small entourage that escorted Raveena were not slaughtered senseless by Souji this time around. Her son and Reyna were unbothered—mostly. The on-goings of Grant’s exchange were peculiar, but the nitty gritty details were left unsaid. None were accosted on this auspicious day—and that was as it should be.

She murmured something in return, and with a subtle nod from Sabine, the Captain stepped back and melted into the crowds. Inhaling deeply, Raveena watched—and as she watched, she learned. Magic—sorcery in particular—ran deep in her veins with her grandmother’s rise to power. And though her poor mother suffered the tragic fate of a daughter misled in her love, Raveena had been raised by a tribe that only had one another—and so she seemed to escape the ill fate of craving more power—always more, as her grandmother had, as her mother was used for.

Still, she could see it. Subtle, that it was, the struggle for power. To claim a queen as their ally and friend. Did they know how valuable Crystallo Stella as to Genesaris as a whole? Did they understand the resources, the rarities housed within this realm and its people? War was close—so close. Would Aurora be ready? Could Crystallo Stella and its beauty survive the vengeful sweep of power that was coming? Something stirred within her—perhaps it was the Sefirot. The innate need to protect. To grow and prosper so that others may grow and prosper. She had been so blind, not to see the supernatural community had become a threat to itself. Demons rising to fight Demons. Elves oppressed by man. Beasts enslaving humans. Entire species being driven to extinction. Deforestation of fae kind. Creatures lost to Whispernight.

Raveena continued to twist the dainty ring around her finger. It had served Hyperion tremendously in the years since it had been given to her—a ring, for a dilapidated house. Raveena realized her own fidgeting and smoothed her skirts down. She stirred, as if she had been deep in her thoughts and exhaled slowly. Surely she was a picture of anxiousness, but regained some measure of dignity and composure. The Viceroy had spoken—come and gone in a flash. Raveena stepped forward and swept into a deep and gracious curtesy, her head lowered before she rose. Aurora was beautiful, and Raveena could not help but smile a smile that hurt her cheeks and reached her eyes.

“You look radiant, Your Majesty.” She spoke breathlessly—and in a way, it was true that Aurora and her kind had an otherness to them that was remarkable, beautiful—and could leave one breathless. Raveena had had very little exposure to the Elven kind beyond those that had visited Hyperion for the Kaess Festival. They, too, were beautiful. Raveena could only surmise that this was simply a common trait among their kind. It was an envious one. She spoke to Aurora as if she were her own daughter, letting her own emotions get ahead of her. Another Queendom was not small feat, and if she carried herself with this much grace and dignity—her people would love her for years to come, “I am so very proud of you. Your rise to power to fortuitous for the Rising West. Would that more women of station could follow your example.” She held a hand to her heart and sighed proudly.

@Eternity

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After finally Xartia was finished with speaking with the Queen, Lothlorian found himself so rudely interrupted by none other than Raveena herself. It was no surprise that she would do something so impetuous, what right did she truly have to all the power given to her? Blood red began to overtake the mist within the staff he held, showing his frustration at the princess cutting in front of him.

Years of tutelage under his mother taught him to keep a cooler head, to forgive the transgression and to continue on with the party. It would have been just that simple to let it go, but every time he thought about his mother, he had to mentally stop himself from shaking with rage.

Politely he cleared his throat. "Excuse me." He said just as she was pattering on about how wonderful it was for a woman to be a queen in the West. Gentle Breeze was also a woman, but that didn't stop her from allowing such a brutal exercise in disrespect befall her right before she was kidnapped on her watch. "I do believe there is a line to introduce yourself to the queen, Your Grace. Not everyone is so privileged to simply be given a position of power as you have, so if you would not mind, I wish to give my blessings to hopefully a new friend of House Aetherion."

The crowd had all eyes now on the scene before them, gasps abound from the audacity Lothlorian showed to the princess. She was the daughter of Rafael, the emperor of both the Arcane East and the Great North. Words like that were sure to garner his wrath, but Lothlorian cared nothing for it. His house, his family had been disrespected for far too long, and he could not stand another moment of it. If he was to die on this hill to uphold the dignity of his station, then so be it.

Bowing to Aurora he spoke. "House Aetherion formerly recognizes your rule, Queen Aurora, and you have my solemn vow that I will do what I can to support you in your endeavors. The wonders of your kingdom must be protected at all cost, just as I would protect my own homeland. If I may, Your Highness, I wish to return to the festivities of your lovely party, and partake in a pleasant drink." He bowed once again, then turned to leave, shock and awe painted upon everyone's face as he located a passing waiter.

"Blueberry wine, thank you." Just like that he was continuing on with the visit as if he had not just insulted one of the highest members of royalty in Genesaris. It honestly didn't matter to him if she was the high queen of Valucre itself, insults could not be tolerated. His mother was gone, likely violated to cruel extremes before being murdered at the hands of some filthy excuse for a human, and now this wretch believed herself above the lords that manage her false father's land. Everything about her vexed him, and he refused to lie down in response to her sheer arrogance. He was still an elf after all.

@Eternity @Deus Ex Aizen

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Raveena turned to the Elf, her hands neatly clasped in her lap as she addressed Lothlorian, “The Golden Elves of the Great North. One of my most ambitious subjects.” The infliction of ambitious suggested she meant something more. “It's come to my attention that you have found yourself in quite a mess,” she responded plainly.

“A mess, it seems, I am graciously cleaning up.” Lothlorian would feel an imperious gaze on him, the brilliance of her hazel eyes bearing into him, despite her relaxed demeanor. “I find your insolence unfortunate but noted. You see, there is protocol to being received by a monarch. Stations, Ser. You, are but a mere House name and Lord. In my father’s absence, I am your Sovereign Empress. I am first to be officially received by her Majesty the Queen—and rightfully so. I come not only to see to the Queen’s prosperity, but with matters of national security.” There was a shred of vulnerability now as she looked to the young Queen Aurora. Her restless hazel eyes roamed her perfect features in search of answers to unsaid questions.

Can she rise? Would she?

Yes, Raveena decided. She would—and under careful tutelage.

Her eyes were focused again. She half-turned to Aurora and smiled a warm smile, “Forgive me my subject’s thoughtlessness. Truly, House Aetherion means you no disrespect by retracting recognition of your rule.” Formerly, Lothlorian had spoken, rather than formally. It was a grave insult to the Queen, and a terrible reflection of the Great North and the Carmine Empire. “They are in mourning after an incident with slave traders, one that I am actively and aggressively pursuing.” She looked up to Aurora with blazing eyes and a wide smile, “Slavery is outlawed in Hyperion, you see.” This, too, was a clear message to Lothlorian.

Gentle Breeze’s heinous actions did not go unnoticed, or unreported. And despite the poetic justice of the slave traders, it could not be said that Raveena was unforgiving. Where the elves resigned, Raveena pursued. If Gentle Breeze was not held accountable for the actions of their radical religion, someone else would be in her stead. Her eyes cut to Lothlorian once more as he sought to depart from them.

“Should anything of this nature arise in the future, I trust you will follow proper protocol to avoid tangling yourself up in another mess.”

Exhaling slowly and composing herself once more, her gentle smile returned, “Your Majesty. We must sit and discuss the protection of your borders very soon. War with the Midlands is inevitable. My father will not renege on his word, and you will be caught in the crossfire. I insist that you and I set up a time to discuss what can be done to protect your borders, your people, and your resources. I have brought one of my employees, Artamese along to survey. She is quite fascinated with Crystallo Stella and is an avid fan of yours.” Raveena began to twist the ring from her finger and presented it to Aurora in her palm, faced up.

“Before I was elected as Queen. Before I was much of anything, I exchanged my house for this ring. It is imbued with magic, a containment spell firmly in place. You will find emergency rations and supplies stored within for a small kingdom to last for a year, as it had been for me. Artamese will teach you to use it, so that if you find you and yours in a time of crisis, it will tide you through until relief can support you.” Her lips creased into a thin, “I hope you will never need to use this. But I’m fearful for a fledgling Kingdom at the advent of war. You have met with my regent Souji. We will do all in our power to support you, so that you may rise properly.” There were pleased murmurs among the crowd, though hush whispers and rumors were hard to repress after the display between Lothlorian and Raveena.

Talk was cheap, however.

Raveena did not come for talk.

 

She came to acquire a Queen Regent.

 

@Eternity

@Grubbistch

Edited by Deus Ex Aizen

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All Lothlorian could truly do was laugh.

Perhaps madness had taken over him, perhaps he was just fed up with all of it. Many things were possible, but what he found quite impossible was the ability to stifle the laugh that now echoed off the walls of the court. Using his staff to keep himself upright, the elf wiped a single tear from his eye and looked back to Raveena.

"Oh how wonderfully you twist words around, your Imperial Grace. Taking a homonym and replacing it with what I actually meant, that's sly even for you." His heart was racing, the smoke inside the orb atop his staff grew thicker with indignant rage. "Who are you to even speak of messes when you are actively trying to murder the queen!" His nerves were on fire, his senses firing on all cylinders as he hurled the accusation straight towards Raveena.

Whispers turned to murmurs, which were now becoming excited talk amongst the guests. Intrigue was at an all time high as Lothlorian made a spectacle of himself in front of the entire court.

"The regent she speaks of, the one she puts such high regard to put in such a position, is a cold blood murderer!" All eyed had turned now to Soulja, but Lothlorian did not dare stop his speech. "There was another festival, one you may not be aware of, but festive all the same, just like this place. Raveena's precious little catspaw decided to introduce himself there, by slaughtering nearly fifty guards trying to protect our Princess! Where was the justice for the families of those guards? Of the likely countless number of people he has killed, possibly even under our dear Princesses request."

Lothlorian wanted to drag her titles through the mud, to besmirch her name and taint it for everyone who even thought about it. All civility was gone now, he was on the war path to show everyone just who it was that ruled them. "My own agents have turned up more in finding my mother than your pathetic lies ever could. Justice is not a quality your new family shares, only brutality and ruthlessness." He was bordering dangerously onto treason, the line to him now non existent as he said his warning.

"Heed me, Queen Aurora. Bending the knee to the Carmine empire only exposes your neck to their ax. Once they've taken everything away from you, stripped you of everything you have to defend yourself, then they will take you over completely with lies and propaganda, just like they did with the Great North!" His voice was turning to a shout, his mind in a whirlwind of emotions. "Princess Raveena will serve your kingdom up to her false father on a silver platter, right before spreading her legs to take his godly member!"

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Grant had tolerated the antics of Lothlorian with as much grace as he could muster, though he had grown increasingly silent as the elf had gone on. His mother had handled the man with a great deal of civility under the circumstances, but it just wasn't enough for the bastard. When he had begun his tangent, the Prince's grip on his drink had begun to tighten, harder and harder with each accusation, each insult. As the elf spat out the last word of his raving, the glass shattered in his hand, the noise audible in the silence that followed the end of the speech. Anyone looking at Grant after that would only see a blur as he moved through the room at great speed. 

When he reappeared, he was standing in front of the bastard who had insulted his mother, staring him down as light and heat came off his body in waves. He had considered drawing his weapon, but had decided against it; managing to at least remember that he was in another persons home. The look in his eyes left no doubt about the rage that threatened to consume him.

"Say one more word, and I'll send you to join your mother in hell." 

 

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“Actually, Grant… I do believe that making those threats is a job that falls upon me, son.” An accented voice stated, cutting through the silence hung stagnant in the air, much like a pall of dark smoke after a raging fire. Making his way through the crowd, Rowan Knight revealed himself, drink in hand and wearing a decidedly unimpressed look on his face that seemed to contrast with the dull burning in his orange eyes. For the ensuing festivities, the assassin had chosen what his beloved had begun to call his uniform: An impeccably tailored charcoal-colored suit, complete with a striped black and white tie, and a matching ribbon that bound his hair in a neat ponytail. As he moved from the crowd that had gathered to watch the second-bit spectacle, the tall man’s steps were accentuated by the tap-tap of his ornate black and silver walking stick, which served to conceal a small blade.  As per usual he wore a carefully neutral facial expression, which only helped accentuate his high cheekbones and overall vulpine features that were almost entirely unmarred, save for a long cut that stretched from above his right eye all the way to the middle of his cheek. As per his lover’s request, he had forsaken the veritable arsenal that he usually carried…

 

Or at least most of it.

 

“My love. I am sorry that I have kept you waiting.” He said quietly as he leaned forward and placed a chaste kiss upon her forehead before taking a long pull of whiskey from his cup. Setting himself to purpose once more, Rowan stepped toward his son until he stood shoulder to shoulder with him. “Son. Unless you seek to look as much a bloody fool as this knife-eared ponce, I would recommend that you learn to rein in our temper. It is the… Knight-ly thing to do.” Rowan said quietly as the corner of his lip tilted up ever so slightly as he moved forward, letting his cane fall to the floor as he came face to face with the elf.

 

“Lothlorian, was it?” Rowan said a bit more loudly in a honeyed tone that seemed rather out of place coming from his lips. “I’m sorry, I do have a hard time keeping track of what my wife, the Empress Raveena keeps around as the help. But I digress. That was a rather inspired tirade, albeit lacking the grace that you slants seem to pride yourselves in. Now, I generally would balk at going on a long, tawdry tirade as you have done so amidst a coronation… But I suppose that since you seem intent on spreading around half-truths and insulting my wife, I must correct you. I understand, however, that you aim to cut at her with the keenness of your blade-like wit… It is only a pity that you seem to have forgotten to hone the edge.” The man took another pull from his cup, eyeing the elf for a moment before he deliberately tossed the remaining contents of his glass at his face.

 

“There. I do believe that’ll help you cool down as I educate you in these subjects you seem so remiss on.” Rowan said crisply, handing his glass to his son as he began to circle around the elf. “First things first, I find it interesting that an incestuous little house of pissant elves deem themselves well-versed in the subject of justice. Your retainers seem… Not entirely willing to serve you… Further displayed with your little fiasco with the parade floats. I do believe that slavery isn’t seen as a just thing, but this may be a key difference in our cultures. Additionally, I would pay special care when you decide to bandy about accusations of murder without a single shred of proof. Empress Raveena’s regent is a single man, and I’d find it rather unlikely that a single human could best such vast numbers. I guess this speaks of your rather sordid imagination.” Rowan tapped his lips gently with one hand as he spoke, stopping once more before the elf as he feigned thoughtfulness. “I am sincerely sorry that your mother has vanished, but with a spoiled, slow-witted son for a progeny I can decidedly and emphatically understand why she would do so willingly.”

 

Turning his eyes toward Grant, Rowan offered a small wink before shaking his head.

 

“As for the Queen, I offer three things: Firstly, my Queen Aurora, I would offer congratulations on the day of your coronation. Secondly I would like to apologize for this rather dark debacle and the scene that this manchild has caused, seeing as only one of us is gentleman enough to do so. And lastly, a word of advice… I would disregard anything that this raucous child has spilled from his lips. Even covered in gold, gilded shit is still shit at its’ core.” Turning toward the man once more, Rowan flashed his teeth in the rictus of a smile. “I did tell my son that making threats is my job. Not only as Emperor Consort, but also as Raveena’s lover, so…”

 

With the blink of an eye, Rowan stood within a hair’s breadth from the elf, face contorted in an alien fury as he raised the back of his hand near the side of the elf’s face.

 

“The only member she takes between her legs is mine, not that a worm like you has any business commenting on business of his betters. You speak of justice and it not existing, and in truth… You’re correct. I could kill you here, where you stand, and largely escape anything akin to retribution. But the truth is? I am a man, Lothlorian, and the back of his hand is the only way a real man would consider hitting a quivering quim of a woman like you. So for the festivities’ sake, I shall hold back. Once. Spread false words about my beloved again, and I will tear you apart limb from limb, and then I will proceed to do the same to the rest of your inbred lot. Good day.” Rowan said, promptly spinning and eyeing Raveena with a smile as he moved to stand with his family.

Edited by The Hound

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She calmly regarded Lothlorian, patiently waiting for his temper to pass over. Under duress, a person’s true nature was revealed. This man couldn’t possibly benefit Aurora, but that was not for Raveena to decide. Rowan had materialized, and her heart was lighter just from the sight of her husband. Her eyes closed as she felt the sincere and apologetic peck to her forehead, “My love~.” She greeted him sweetly.

Her husband did what he did best, and though she secretly dreaded all that transpired between him and Lothlorian, she could not help that she—not as a politician, or royalty, but as a woman—felt a smidgen of satisfaction at her beloved speaking up for her. She had even gasped when Rowan threw whiskey in the elf’s face. Rowan, for all his dangerous work, retained the air of suave debonair. No matter how foolishly she acted, he always looked out for her best interest, her heart, and well-being. She could remember in that span of time with his exchange with Lothlorian, why she married him.

There was a time she thought she would never see him again. True to the Chimera’s word, he never strayed far from her again.

She pulled a silver compact from the folds of her sleeve and pressed the button along the side. A holographic image materialized, the personal security tech something she had learned to carry discreetly. It gave her access to mission communications feeds for the Web, one of which Grant also 

“Port Caelum, Hanami Festival. Grant Knight.” She spoke clearly, concisely. The image warped as it back-tracked through records of images taken from his security footage while they had participated at the Hanami Festival. It showed the awkward, backwards footage of their conversations of news of Akako’s disappearance at her own festival, of funerals to attend to and only when the man he spoke of appeared did Raveena speak again, “Freeze. Adjust frame. Zoom in, eighty percent.”

Quite the human looking man stood, feminine in his appearance with clever purple eyes that matched his pink and purple yukata. Smiling, always smiling. “This is the man who attacked my entourage at the Hanami Festival. Their funerals—as all funeral details are in Hyperion—were covered by me, personally. Those were my guards, after all. Your intelligence on this matter is severely lacking, as we left the festival entirely specifically to deal with those funerary arrangements. This,” She pointed to Souji, who looked nothing like the image that Raveena had displayed from Grant’s security footage. Souji looked something eerie and fantastic from a child’s fairytail. Wild, beautiful, and ferocious—the way she would image a Fae Royal to appear, “Is clearly not the same man you speak of or saw. He’s not even a man at all.”

“I have made my alliance with the Fae of the Forgotten Forest. The Unseelie Court of Hyperion have no business with humans outside of Hyperion. I provide them a place to call home, and they provide my city with the same protection the Forgotten Forest afforded my people. Those who wander into the Rift will find their memory lacking the longer they wander through.” Not once did she waver. Not once did her voice falter. For all the fury she felt white hot in her veins, she maintained her calm. It was not that he insulted her, no. Raveena had endured days of torture and insult from lesser beasts and lived. Raveena, for all the power and prestige she had been born into, had inherited, had suffered considerably to achieve it.

Sabine shouldered through the masses, thirteen Enforcers flanking her. It was clear by the cold glint in her eyes that she was more furious than Raveena could be. Sabine was proud of her loyalty to Raveena. It had been the Captain that reported the slave trader ship that tried to infiltrate Hyperion during the festival. It had been Raveena that authorized the Web to mobilize, “My lies.” Raveena mused over this, “The incompetency of your intelligence agents is astounding, or they would know that my agents were intentionally captured along with your mother. There is nothing your agents can unearth that my own aren't already aware of because they infiltrated the ship on my orders. A slender brow arched as she rebuked him, still with the eerie calm of a woman unruffled. All eyes had turned on Lothlorian now. It had become increasingly clear that between the two of him, his outburst was more concerning that the Queen’s reserved response. It was not that she was too calm, too still.

Sabine was next the speak, and she held nothing but contempt for the noble, “It’s true. The ship, we had seen many like them before from the last time we infiltrated Slaver’s Bay. Her Imperial Majesty reviewed the images I sent her and signed off on a covert mission to infiltrate the ship. They reported this Noble’s mother was indeed on board with them. My Queen has been conferring with Master Jinsoku of Force Majeure to rescue them all.”

”Captain.” Raveena called. Sabine snapped to attention and saluted, her accompanied Enforcers following suit, “Arrest this man and inform the rest of his entourage they will be escorted back to their estate in the Great North. They are to remain under house arrest until my father returns.” She leaned against Rowan, her dainty arm snaking around his. Such a hostile exchange left her feeling more drained than she was prepared for. Sabine barked her orders, all too ready to remove the Elf from the court.  Raveena regarded the newly minted Queen with an apologetic smile, “As my beloved says. We deeply apologize for this spectacle Your Majesty. May the rest of your celebration pass peacefully. My family and I will be toasting to you, and I hope to have that meeting with you soon.” She departed with her family, looking up at Rowan with tired adoration as she mouthed her thanks to him silently and placed a tender kiss on his shoulder and nodding assurance to Grant that it was okay. Then she paused and extracted herself from her beloved's arms, glancing back at Lothlorian a final time. She could feel the waves of anxiety, of anger and resentment emanating from him. He seemed more like a wild animal cornered now, than the refined Elf from earlier. She had seen much like it at Alethea. There was a time, a place. Here was not one of them. Still, there had been one final thing that she felt a need to address.

"I was born into an Imperial family, it was not freely given to me. The Lord Father is indeed my father, however my family died for me to have the chance to be where I stand now. I have worked tirelessly and diligently for the influence and respect I have amassed. It isn't for me. It isn't for my father's political gain. It's for my husband and our children, and the families of my people. For Souji and his people. For Queen Aurora and her people. One day, I hope you realize this."

For a moment, she pitied Lothlorian and the hatred he held within him. There would be no more leniency for him and his own after the mission at Slaver's Bay was complete. "I will send word when we've extracted your mother."

@The Hound

@Eternity

@Grubbistch

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Grant’s sudden disappearance left Reyna confused. Extremely confused. There wasn’t a word of warning, nor an explanation. Weaving through the crowd, she squeezed between party goers in the approximate direction that she briefly saw her lover disappear off to.

It didn’t take long to find him. Or at least, hear him. Over the roaring of the crowd, she picked out three distinct raised voices. One belonged to the Empress, one was Grant’s. She hadn’t heard the third before, but it seemed that she was about to find out. With an impatient sigh, she made her way through several more throngs of party goers to get closer. Now that she was closer, she began to hear the raving of a fourth man whom she had also never met before. Grant had a tendency to get extremely aggressive, and she hoped that he wouldn’t snap now. He didn’t have the same thick skin that she had when bearing insults, and it would be most inopportune for him to lash out in the middle of a party. Perhaps it was the pride that came with most noble men and women. She would speak to him about it after. For now, she ran different scenarios through her head on how she could diffuse the situation without stepping out of line. She thought about formally telling Grant that there was someone looking for him so that she could bail him out. But as soon as she reached the outskirts of the confrontation, she knew that it was much out of her control to try to mediate.

Sabine was there. About a dozen enforcers with her. Reyna hadn’t seen her or the thirteen with the group that was to escort Grant here. As they neared each other, she and Sabine shared a brief nod before the enforcer captain hurried off towards the elven man who appeared to have been the source of the third voice. And then… right in the middle of it all.

It was him.

Grant had told her stories of his father. He told her about his Chimera gene that made him one of the deadliest assassins in the world. Even standing before him right now, Reyna was in awe. Her clenched palms shook with excitement and dread. She had always been curious about meeting the man himself but had also been fearful of what he might think of her. And now, with Rowan Knight standing before her, she was dumbstruck. Twitching her head anxiously to meet the eyes of her lover, she saw only glee in his eyes at the appearance of his father. She remembered him telling her that Rowan’s visits were getting more infrequent by the day and that every interaction that they had meant a lot to him. At that moment, she almost wished that he didn’t know that she was there so that they could enjoy the reunion to its fullest. But now that he had already seen her, she smiled to show that she was happy for him before her face abruptly returned to the uniform seriousness that every soldier had to express.

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"If you could be on time for just once in your life, I wouldn't have to make the threats; goddamn Brit."

While his words were tinged with annoyance, it was plain to anyone who knew him that his fathers presence calmed the young prince significantly. The light and heat emanating from his body all but vanished; and his eyes showed the happiness he wouldn't let himself outwardly express. Still, at least some of the annoyance in his voice was the real thing. For the life of him, Grant would never understand why his old man always had to wait to make an entrance. It was like he couldn't simply walk into a room like a normal person. But overall, his joy at seeing his father outweighed his irritation at his bad habits.

Noticing that Reyna had joined the family, he smiled reassuringly; content that the matter had been settled, or soon would be. Sabine was one of the most feared and respected members of the Enforcers, and he had little doubt she could handle the uppity elf. In the unlikely event that she couldn't, he and his father would put an end to any resistance from Lothlorian promptly. As his mother and father began to walk away, he gestured to Reyna, and walked with them.

"You've been gone too long, you miserable old bastard."

It was the closest he would ever come to admitting aloud that he had missed his father.

 

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First it was the runt, the one who spoke of hell and his mother. Gentle Breeze, the woman who had cared for him, raised him and guided him through his life. To imagine her in such a terrible place, suffering for all eternity, it made his stomach churn and his blood boil. This however would not be the last time he or his family would be disrespected by these curs.

Predictably he was as condescending and contrite as the princess, his ever movement a lie that tried to deceive one into thinking he wasn't a monster. It was just as well he spoke with the same undeserved bravado as the rest of them, as if they had any real power to them. There were forces on this planet beyond anything they could understand, and still they played at politics and squabbled like idiots towards their greater. No matter what exaggerated physical qualities they had, they were still only human, and humans always had a tendency to believe themselves more important than what they really are. So much so that the bastard made an attempt to throw his drink in the elf's face.

Frozen in midair, the liqueur disappeared into thin air with nothing more than a small pop. Did all these people understand was insults and flinging things at people?! His words meant nothing to the elf, for he knew the truth of it, of all that was transpiring. Never did he take his eyes off Raveena, for she was the snake that had coiled itself around everyone here. When he dismissed the actions of the Fae as the decision of a different man, it felt like something was cracking within his psyche. Could they really not see who it was that stood right in this very room?

It took much of his willpower not to blast the imbecile of an assassin to another dimension, somewhere one could truly call hell. Hollow threats meant nothing to him, the wasted wind from an empty human who lived for violence. With the power Lothlorian held in his grasp, he could show them true terror, horror beyond their wildest imagination. What then would he be able to threaten Lothlorian with when his head was nothing more than dust? This buffoon couldn't even understand the culture of House Aetherion to truly know why the Neophytes weren't slaves and yet he dared to paint him the monster.

Where was Olandra? Where was Iselda? Where was anybody when he really needed them? Lothlorian was alone against what seemed like an entire cohort of conspirators making him look the fool. Already the crowd was turning on him, his image irreparably destroyed by this entire fiasco, this farce of a battle of words. All they had were lies, but lies cleverly formed to discredit the elf at every turn.

Finally she spoke once again, going farther and farther to discredit him, but her explanations were far more than just rebukes of a social nature. She knew that the ship was used for slaving, yet did nothing but send in her own agents to investigate it? With his mother as live bait?! What was the point of having all this power if she couldn't even use it effectively!...unless...by the gods...

All of this has been a ploy, to destroy him and his house, a ploy that he fell for...

When the knights approached to arrest him, an electrical surge sparked from his staff. "Don't you dare touch me." He sneered, voice dripping with venom. "I can show myself out." With but a thought he was gone, having transported himself via magic to his homeland, to prepare for the inevitable visit of the Emperor of the Carmine Empire...

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From the shadows he watched, lurking just beyond the veil. Waiting. What he saw just now was more interesting than the sight of his father, though it hardly held a candle to the level of excitement he held when standing in Lothlorian's very shoes moons ago in Avylon. Hell, it wasn't much different when witnessing the wedding in Kadia either. Raveena put her proverbial balls on the table, only for them to each sprout sentient life and insist on acting on her behalf always. Especially when not necessary in his opinion. Still, he was reluctant to admit that at least he could trust that the All-Mother was safe with them around. As much as he wished to reveal himself in the wake of Lothlorian's absence, he decided it best to stay put for now. While he did not fear Raveena's entourage, he was in no mood to play their little game of salad tossing, nor making an ass out of himself by killing anyone of them here on this day. For now he simply waited for the excitement to dull and for them to make their leave as his father had. That's when he would approach this newly crowned Queen.

Meanwhile, within the rock and earthen terrain of the region was hidden a single man. He had arrived there in secret the moment that their borders became open to the public. Remaining hidden amount the terrain itself, the man served as an extra pair of eyes, ears, and protection of his Emperor. While Koji would typically have a squad of Tengu Knight marching with him, along with at least two smaller squads of ninja, it was understood that this visit was to be kept a bit more low key. That meant bringing along more capable and experienced warriors, or in this case just the one. It was also understood by Gaki that this deployment was meant to be a lengthy one. Upon Koji's departure he was to remain here in surveillance of the new Queen and her little diamond in the rough.

Spoiler

Doton: Iwagakure no Jutsu (Earth Style: Hidden in Stones Jutsu) - This technique allows the user to camouflage themselves with the earth around and move freely through earth surfaces undetected.

 

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Souji noticed the presence of Persephone as soon as she entered, he could feel the length of their bond shortening and it had been quite the while since he had last laid eyes upon her. A feeling came, but was dismissed as nothing. Longing perhaps? No. Perhaps he just missed her presence. The thickness of their bond was on him like a comfortable blanket and he turned to greet her with a smile painted on his face as if he were a doll. It was there but meant nothing. Just as he was about to make in her direction his attention happened to be called elsewhere. 
Elves, lesser beings proclaiming that they had some right to recognize the rule of a fae? We’re they insane? It proceed his anger which smoldered like embers close to ignition. It seemed that today was anger the Souji day, perhaps it would be a day stained red by the blood of those who fanned those embers crackling lowly inside him. 
The fae took moved to Persephone's side and allowed a comfort to set in.
“Hello my young vampire. It has been a while yes?” 
His voice was low, but edgeless and wild. 
“How have you been since last we spoke? Have you eaten well?”
He wanted to ask her many questions but stopped at just the two, as he did not wish to recount the idiocy that was the past few months of his own life, and was comfortable allowing them to slip away as of they hadn’t happened at all. Perhaps it was better that way. 
“I must warn you to be on your guard. It seems most of these people have a great distaste for me. Perhaps it is because they are jealous of my boyish good looks.”
He smiled, this time a real one, a sheepish grin that showed his small front fangs. 
What sort of mischief would they find themselves in this evening. 
@Abigail666

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The words being thrown on the political battleground washed around Persephone, she paused briefly as the bond between them turned almost taunt with their closeness. He seemed… Troubled, the feeling only further enhanced by the sight of that painted mask being applied. She frowned slightly at the sight, the creasing marking her face, but she couldn’t help a tiny smile touching her lips at the sight of him. It seemed to have been an age since they had last spoken. “Good evening old fae, it’s been too long,” Persephone replied wickedly, Souji’s voice bringing out the wildness that lurked close to her surface. To forget manners and protocol, free as the wind.

 

She was glad he had not changed since the last meet. “I have been, busy.” She decided an appropriate answer. “I swear, you ask the most inappropriate questions, my eating habits are not be discussed at such a prestigious event.” She replied, shaking her head in mocking despair. But how had he been? Flying free and high? Getting into trouble? She wished to ask much, each question bubbling to the surface, she would have answers. Persephone was quite determined on this and stubborn as a mountain against the howling wind.

 

A small laugh burst from her lips at his playfulness, feeling the undertone of something dark, but Persephone was content to enjoy the real, honest smile that quirked his mouth. Such a charming smile. Once she had more control, she turned to him, with a confused expression. “Boyish good looks? You must be mistaken.” She teased lightly, wishing to enjoy his company as much as she previously. 

 

Goodness, everything had seemed have turned rather dark very quickly. Like the sun setting in winter, the party atmosphere settled with a hint of danger as members of households stood against one other. Such words, such insults and proclaims with threaten to number. Persephone watched with avid curiosity, rather enjoying the liveliness of the event before her. Each moment, another plot seemed to be constructed

 

A new move on a chessboard, another piece placed as the figures danced among each other. Her eyebrows arched in curiosity, how far was Souji involved in this? It brought the fact home, as she watched the conflict seemingly dissolve and reach a conclusion, how much did she know about this teasing fae with many faces? He was practically a stranger. Her voice was quiet but firm as she whispered next to him, turning to stare at him with a searching gaze. “Souji, what trouble have you gotten mixed up in this time?”

@Bardic Knowledge

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And with that Aurora watched Xartia lip a thank you to her attendee followed by his wicked grin, a grin that for some reason she couldn’t ignore with a smile of her own. Bowing her head to the man who now turned to allow others to come and greet her, she was eagerly approached by a woman.

The compliment that came from her lips left Aurora blushing, the heat of her cheeks made her very aware of what the words did to her. It wasn’t often she was told how beautiful she was, but especially in this light she had to somewhat expect it, right? “Oh, well thank you.” Reaching up with her right hand to touch the heat on her cheek, her eyes then shifted to the man who interrupted the two.

The comment given of how proud Raveena was of Aurora left her speechless until the man who interrupted with his introduction and a pledge to her. The man's name was foreign to her as many of her guests, Aetherion was made a mental note in her mind as he turned and walked away. Aurora knew she had to make well on the meeting of the gentleman, as she watched him disappear among the crowd.

The display before her left Aurora with many questions, but the comment about national security peaked her interest more than ever. Information about entanglements in slavery and a mess to be cleaned up was presented, but with the changing of conversation like the tides in an ocean her attention was brought to the ring Raveena twisted off of her finger. “Thank you, I would like to sit with you and have these discussions.” Was it a mistake for her to so freely open her borders to all of these people? To everyone who claim a title and a house, who may or may not have thoughts of war to take from her people?

Smiling, Aurora took the ring from Raveena sliding it upon her left hand. “I will keep this close, and I appreciate the gesture to help protect my home.” Looking around Raveena for the one who would be teaching her to use the ring, she brought her emerald hues to the ruler before her. “Is Artamese with you now? I would like to put a face with her name.”

Before much of what she said could be heard, the man who had walked away made a bigger scene among her court. Men and women of her land seem appalled by what was being said about Raveena and the Carmine Empire even though they didn't know much about them, it just didn't seem right.

The music had died as the people whispered among themselves, Aurora’s head was spinning with all of the political arguing and the berating. Turning her gaze to guards who were in the process of moving in to detain anyone who may put her life in danger, a wave of her hand sent them to stand still. No longer shocked by the show before her, and the exit that left the taste of magic in the air.  

Aurora felt stuck and alone as she stood among those who promised to support her, spinning on thoughts of what was going to happen next. Searching the crowd for her mother, it seemed she had long retired to her chambers. Still standing before her throne, she started to walk past those who stood around her. Air, she needed a breath of fresh air. Making a beeline for the massive balcony that overlooked the city, people moved out of her way as her attendee opened the doors for her allowing her to never break her stride.

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Maya had watched with a polite smile plastered on her face as the first man had interrupted her motion to speak with Aurora. After all, he was easy to look at, and it was very possible that he had not seen her in the swarm of guests. However, when a second man interrupted her, and then the bloody Empress Raveena, the diplomat couldn't help but feel irritation rise in her throat. There was a literal queue lining up behind the newly crowned queen, with honored guests and diplomats and loyal subjects of Crystallo Stella all wishing to pay their respects- and she, Maya Zapatero, was at its apex. As a woman in the military, much less in the diplomacy sector, Maya was accustomed to being interrupted and ignored, and had fought tooth and nail to earn her current position. To be so blatantly disregarded at a foreign celebration was an annoyance at best and an insult at worst. Ever the professional, however, the ram-horned woman simply gritted her teeth and produced a hazy smile, keeping her facial features slack to avoid any bad blood. She would not bring personal grievances into this military endeavor no matter how jaded she felt in the moment. 

Her neutrality proved to be a blessing in the next few minutes as the situation unraveled before her very eyes. An elf from House Aetherion had insulted the Empress, who naturally fired back in kind. A bold move, Maya thought, her brow furrowing slightly as she listened. Sure enough, Raveena's son stepped in, followed closely by her husband, the elusive Rowan Knight. The diplomat inhaled sharply. The Terran military kept tabs on most high-profile individuals across Valucre, but Rowan had evaded them for weeks now, and his absence had begun to raise questions. Raveena was too highly respected to garner any serious inquiry, but her husband's infrequent visits had resulted in whispers behind closed doors. Maya, of course, was not one to talk; she was a professional, and preferred a written record to idle gossip. Still, staring at the powerful man, she found it impossible not to feel a hint of curiosity. What was life like for these men and women who stood so tall among the rest? 

Maya could only guess; she was not in a position to ask. She silently watched the rest of the confrontation unfold with dark, intelligent eyes. A bitter taste rose in her mouth as the queen fled to the balcony, likely overwhelmed by the drama. To begin one's rule as a mere spectator to such nasty political conflict ... well, it seemed unfair. Maya felt the urge to follow the young queen out onto the balcony, but refrained with great effort; she, a stranger, could not offer comfort to Aurora, especially when she had come for political reasons. Any words she spoke to the queen would be tainted by her position, her genuine warmth put under question. Taking advantage of the queen in her vulnerability was a very real possibility- one that Maya would avoid. The last thing the red-headed beauty needed was another person to mistrust in this game she was now expected to play.

When elves and faeries began to scale the walls of the ballroom, Maya knew it was time to leave. She picked up her skirts, smiled politely at the guest waiting behind her, and swiftly glided across the glittering ballroom floor. On her way, she bade farewell to her new Genesarian friend, and, of course, took a minute to say hello to Hoshozel. With her business more or less resolved, the diplomat made her way to the exit portals. She had a great deal to report to her commanding officer. Though she hated to leave the celebration early, the diplomat suspected her career would bring her back to Crystallo Stella in the near future. 

[exit]

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