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The night we met.

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Leo_zps15a56ee4.png"Thank you so much."

Her weariness did not affect her projected appearance; the servant was warmed from his ears to his toes by the golden woman. 

She wore garments that were extremely extravagant, even by Wind Court standards, yet she held herself as an ordinary man or woman would. There was no loftiness in her voice, and as far as he could tell, there wasn't a bit of malice or deceit in her ways. Which is probably why he still felt at odds about her, with all her sweet smiles and the way she made him blush, there was something a bit odd about this individual.

The woman kept her smile, emerald hues dancing gaily as the servant looked her over, evaluating her as any reasonable person would in such a situation. On the streets, she had very openly asked to speak with the Raj of this Court, and soon enough she had caught a gathering that would otherwise see her thrown out. She was an oddity amongst the people, so she could not shame them for their disrespect towards her. 

Golden curls danced about her form, caressing the simple dip of her throat and the curve of her hips hidden beneath her heavy cloak; her eyes held a light that could blind and warm any who dare to hold her gaze. Indeed, this sprite did not fit in the dark-haired and dark-skinned individuals of the Flame Court.

"Ah ... excuse me! I-I did not mean ...!" He was fumbling now, and it caused the woman to laugh - a pretty sound. 

"No, it is alright. If I were you, I would also stare." She was eager to tease him, and when he began to fumble again, she raised hands to stop him. "I've requested an audience with your Raj; I'm afraid I grow a bit weary from my travels."

That snapped the servant out of his flustered daze. Immediately he apologizes, bows, and excuses himself to fetch the Raj as mentioned earlier so that he may meet this new guest. 

She watched until he disappeared around a marbled corner, leaving her alone to admire the rather beautiful and extremely stark home that looks a bit too empty for her comfort. When she had first approached the beautiful castle, she was enchanted by the white color that made it drastically stand out against the red cliffs surrounding it. Great care and much pride were put into the crafting of this mighty home. 

Curiously, she wanders to a nearby plant that looked a tad sad - oh this will not do! Quickly she grabbed hold of the sweet thing and searched for an open spot where more light flowed, and the chill wouldn't get to the pretty plant in dire need of a rescuer. This is not her home, but that doesn't mean she should allow such a beautiful place harbor weak plants. Every bit of greenery in her home was often tended to by her own hands, not at all believing the people her husband had hired were the right sort of catering to her precious creations. While he laughed at her accusations, he allowed his wife to take charge of their home - as did the gardeners. 

Why allow such a skill go to waste? This home of white could use a little color and life! 

The woman's sapphire cloak danced around her in giant waves as she hassled finding a spot for her new friend. A little diddy escaped her, as it often does when indulging in her favorite hobby; the tune danced along the vivid halls, penetrated the loneliness, and swayed delightfully to eager ears. The Raj of the Fire Court may have heard of it, depending on how close he has gotten to his Maharaja, if he's ever had the opportunity to see his leader lost in his books, indulging in the luxury of silence. 

All her children know the song, though Desmond was the only one to dedicate enough time to understand it, love it, and carry it with him into adulthood. 

"Ah yes, perfect! I think you will do well right here," kneeling, she spoke to the plant as if it understood her. The spot in question was next to the seat (belonging to the Raj, perhaps?) that was fixed beneath a stream of light pouring from the ceiling above. 

"Could use a bit more water, but we shouldn't overwhelm you."

Leoa never found harm speaking to the wilderness that occupied her homes. Often she felt more connected to the greenery when she talked to them about the mundane; they didn't argue, talk back, or even have a comment about what she's saying, they listen and appear happy just to do that. 


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The dark man sat in his study, a stack of parchment before him and a quill in his hand. He stared at the numbers on one sheet, willing his mind to calculate faster, more accurately; he had made three mistakes on this page alone, and he needed to be more precise if he was going to prevent his people from starving. Heaving a sigh, he shuffled the papers until a map of his kingdom stared back at him. Various areas had been furiously circled, some with arrows connecting them to other locations on the map. At the apex of it all was a massive volcano, which was penciled in an angry red; rivers of crimson were sketched onto the mountain side, predicting the most likely paths of lava based on the historical and geographical data available. Hasan stared at the many villages with lines of red running through them, the bold colors a stark contrast from his white desk, and his white chair ... the white floor, and walls, and ceiling ... A shudder passed through his body.

His face fell into his palms, calloused and burnt fingers rubbing at his eyes. They were so strained from staring and staring with a blinding field of ivory constantly in the periphery. Centuries ago, some unbelievably arrogant Flame Court Raj had imported the white marble and ivory and brick from foreign lands, and doomed a large number of slaves to construct this monstrosity of a palace over the course of only four years. So much blood had been spilled while raising these ivory walls, Hasan often thought, instinctively signing a holy circle over his heart. So many people had lived and died within this shimmering cage; now he was the palace's only victim. 

It had been five days since he had last heard from Desmond. 

They hadn't parted on pleasant terms. The Maharaja had stormed out of the throne room, leaving him to take care of the mess his king had made. And he had taken care of it, much to Desmond's chagrin, he was sure. Hasan pushed his palms against the desk, wrinkling a few papers as he stood. One of his messengers was quickly approaching, and by the look on the teen's flushed face, the news wasn't good. "What is it, Ritwik?" 

"Your Grace-"


"Y-your Hasan, I am sorry, but there was a breach in security-"

The dark man was up and moving toward the door in an instant, waving for his messenger to follow. 

"We tried to stop her, b-but," 

"It will be handled. Where is she?"

"Th-th-throne room." 

Upon hearing Ritwik's terrified stutter, the Raj turned suddenly, causing the messenger to shrink back. The man's hands were warm as he placed them on his servant's shoulders. "Thank you for bringing this to my attention. You've done well." With a forced grin, Hasan was up and moving again, leaving his messenger behind as he strode deeper into the white palace. 

It wasn't long before a familiar tune regaled his ears from one hallway leading into the throne room. Hasan's feet slowed to their usual catlike prowl as he approached, peering with some concern into the cavernous chamber. A sumptuously-adorned woman appeared to be ... redecorating? The dark man leaned against the door frame, utterly perplexed by the woman's actions, but he couldn't bring himself to interrupt. She was doing a stunning job. 

It only took a few moments of observation for Hasan to fit the pieces together. The softness of her smile; the hum in her voice; the physical likeness. Desmond spoke fondly of his mother -almost often enough to make a poor Raj jealous- and had characterized her well enough that Hasan was able to recognize the vision standing before him without an introduction. He finally took a step into the room, his shoes echoing on the smooth, white floor. "Have I fallen so far that my throne is now being usurped by a plant?" the man asked, not without some incredulousness in his voice. "While I do concede that it is a handsome thing, my penmanship, at least, must be far superior."

Edited by roboblu

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Leo_zps15a56ee4.png"Well, that is yet to be seen," was the Lion's quick retort. 

She stood and turned to face her companion, and was extremely pleased by the sight. Tall, long hair, and brilliant eyes that pulled together the entire canvas of envy that is Hasan. Emerald hues took their time to admire this specimen; from his curved brows down to his mouth but between said journey she smiled at the beauty mark at the corner of his right eye. He wore himself well, is what she immediately thought of the Raj but she allowed room to spare just in case he revealed his aching heart to her.

Pleased, Leoa gracefully approached with delicate hands reaching forward. The sleeves of her dress covered most of the markings, allowing only her hands to show what's hidden beneath the silky fabric of her attire. Her right hand was pitch black as if she had dipped it in the very cosmos themselves; the left hand glowed dully, her will keeping the brightness down to not frighten the Raj. Reborn a God, the woman was allowed to save a few gifts from her life before as a pure human. The act of kindness hadn't softened her heart towards Him any, only made her less inclined to kill him.

"You are a magnificent man Hasan," when she finally reached him, she shamelessly grabbed his hands and squeezed his fingers.

Leoa's warmth would swathe the man, perhaps making him feel a bit uncomfortable or a tad overwhelmed, but this was not an assault on his senses. Naturally, she has always been a warm woman with overbearing power, and that is felt by those around her; as a mage, Hasan would feel it the most, his sensitivity to magic forcing an understanding upon him. With her random ascent to godhood, she can't imagine how it must feel to be around her now that she just oozes power that will never be used to its full potential. This newly acquired title was something she never wanted, and now that she has it, she must learn to use it wisely or else fall victim to it. Hopefully, Hasan will forgive her for invading his space, physically and mentally.

"Tall, dark, and handsome! How we Melisende's get mixed up with such reputable partners, we may never know."

Easy to tease, she released him from her hold and folded her arms easily across her ribs. 

She didn't come here to compliment the man on his looks nor did she intend to make friends, but she can't outright betray herself by being someone she is not. Corvinus does not know that she is alive, he is also ignorant of the fact she knows what's been happening between him and his son. In thought, she frowned and looked to the side, her sadness painting a perfect picture of melancholy. There is so much her husband does not know - that Hasan does not know. Today will be full of betrayals, and it hurts her heart that she will have to be the one delivering the final blow.

"I'm so sorry for this mess Hasan," the Lion wore her emotions clearly; brows stitched together, emerald eyes glistening with unspent tears. "Your home shouldn't have to suffer because of these petty differences and our secrets."

Edited by Aleksei

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As the lioness neared, Hasan was struck by the intensity of her aura; it was immediately clear that Leoa was no longer hume, having ascended into some higher plane of existence. Still, she did not frighten him. The Raj had spent too many hours in the company of his closest companion to fear the woman who had brought Desmond into the world. Instead, her familiar smile and gestures brought some comfort to him in this maddening state of separation; he saw his friend reflected in her eyes, and smelled the familiar scents of his unkempt, dark hair. Hasan met Leoa's embrace with warmth of his own. Though they had just met, they greeted one another like old, dear friends. His glowing right hand met her shimmering left, their fingers intertwining to produce a bright red aura with streaks of holy gold. Seeing this, the fire mage smiled, at peace if only for the briefest of moments. He was not able to sustain physical contact with the magical being for long, but her touch left him with a burning warmth in his chest that spread into his fingers and toes. He didn't know how much he had needed Leoa's visit. 

"You are a magnificent man Hasan," 

He gave a humorless chuckle, clasping his hands neatly behind his back. "So I've been told."

"Tall, dark, and handsome! How we Melisende's get mixed up with such reputable partners, we may never know."

"It seems to be a fatal weakness," he remarked, offering a smile. "Though apparently fatality does not last for long in your family." He would be lying if he claimed her words hadn't stung, even if unintentionally. Every word that left the lioness's lips seemed to be a reflection of a recent conversation he'd had with Desmond, and the familiarity of it all brought an aching to his troubled heart. That the holy mother considered him to be Desmond's partner ... well, it left a melancholy smile lingering on his lips. Even if he himself did not believe the words, they had a curiously bittersweet impact. With Desmond brooding in his castle miles away, and Hasan nursing his wounds across the vastness of the sea and mountains, he felt like anything but a partner. After the Maharaja's recent display of anger, Hasan wasn't sure the man he thought he knew existed in flesh and blood. Perhaps he had been blinded by love, and, in his reverie, had constructed a version of Desmond to adore- a version that had been rudely shattered by recent events. Still, he owed it to his friend to find out, and would investigate once the smoke had cleared. The damage had been done, but he would not be Hasan if he did not at least try to mend something that had become very precious to him. 

Leoa's face fell into darkness, and the fire mage waited patiently for her to speak. When at last her red lips parted, it was to utter an apology- but what Hasan needed would not come from Leoa. Still, he allowed her words to sink into the moment before speaking himself. "As of yet, it hasn't," he began with some difficulty, beginning to pace as he searched for a way to express his complicated feelings. "But I fear for the day when Corvinus decides to strike back." There was a knot in his throat as he struggled with the wicked thought he had been grappling with over the course of the past few days. It demanded release. "At times, I ... I regret having reached out to Primera. If Kalopsia falls ..." His dark green eyes were misty now. "My hands will be stained with the blood of my people for having placed him on the throne." Speaking his truth brought a tremble to the man's usually confident hands; the words seemed to hang in the air, dangerous, burning. He hadn't voiced his feelings aloud, and now, with his heart on his sleeve, he felt a new responsibility to face the truth. 

His adoration of Desmond had become directly opposite of his love for his country. It had happened slowly, with small acts of revenge snowballing into an all-out feud with Corvin's empire. It was not supposed to be this way, Hasan thought, his pacing coming to a gradual halt with his body turned away from Leoa. Desmond had brought healing to Kalopsia, but the larger effects of his rule may bring much more severe destruction than any plague or famine. Actions had consequences, and the weight of the impending war was bearing down on Hasan's shoulders. A lesser man would have already broken under the pressure. 

He had no words left to speak, instead staring, wetness in his eyes, at the hall through which he'd come. He did not expect his admonition to sit well with Leoa, but being trapped in his ivory prison had left him with few outlets. He had needed to get this off of his chest. 

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Leo_zps15a56ee4.png“When Desmond was 13, he tried to kill me.”

Leoa would stare at Hasan, her own hands clasped behind her back casually and calmly. She would not turn her back to him; it was the last thing this man needed.

“He sliced my eye, and then he got a particularly good shot near my heart, but his hand was never incisive.”

She spoke almost fondly on the buried memory; just a twinkle of pride in her emerald eyes. All her children make her proud as she is blinded by the title of a mother for each of them, though she is not entirely ignorant to their faults. Their upbringing was less than kind and forged each child differently; with Desmond, he was such an easy thing to break, he never stood a chance.

“He hated me from the very first day he was born. Corvinus had a better time taming the boy, but later on, Desmond became more difficult.”

These snippets of Desmond’s life were never kept secret, as he grew into adulthood he began to use the twisted truths to his advantage. A skirt chaser, a disobedient prince, the weak link, the unwanted one - the list of hateful monikers goes on for miles. He never tried to defend himself, carrying the burden of his actions and choices with him wherever he went. If any of them had known the man was never sleeping with everything that moved, was instead sneaking into his father's library, secretly reading Corvin's notes, lurking in his father's shadow … they wouldn't have believed any of it.

Desmond looked exactly like his father and was compared to the man always. You are not him; they would tell the impressionable child. You look like him, but you will never be as strong, as bright, as hungry like him, they said to the man with an already weakened heart. He took each blow to his pride, using his kindness and ready smile as a balm against the ache. Leoa briefly drew her hands before her, remembering the number of tears she had wiped from her son’s face.

“Our relationship now is mended; I've never faulted my child for his pain. I will do the same for you, Hasan, you have every reason to regret.”

Leoa would not tell the mage how his regret matched her own. When she helped Corvinus retain the Cold South, she never realized the weight of her actions for the only thing occupying her thoughts was Corvin. The man was the most amazing thing she had ever seen; their time in the temple so many years ago still left her breathless with wonder. She loves him, her Raven. Their life together has been difficult; there hasn't been a single day where a part of her regrets just a little helping Corvin yet … if she hadn't, how worse would things be?

If Hasan removed himself from Desmond’s side, how much worse will this become?

“Tell me, Hasan, what do you know of daemons?”

Hasan doesn't know Desmond’s quiet suffering, and that's forced a rift between them,  the very same Desmond placed between himself and his father. Leoa was the only one with the tools to build a bridge across these differences. It would be an act of betrayal against her son.

“Have you ever seen one, known anyone possessed by one?”

Edited by Aleksei

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Leoa's confession was met by a surprised, amused glance cast over one shoulder. Hasan could not picture his soft-spoken friend attempting a murder, but, remembering the savage look Desmond had given his sister, Hasan mused that perhaps this angry side had simply been laying dormant. "So he has a mother and a father complex," the mage sighed, turning around to face the golden goddess. "Splendid." Hasan understood complicated familial relationships, but the Melisende family drama was far beyond his scope. Despite his frequent squabbles with Kaseem, the Inderpal family had always been a tight-knit unit. With the harsh judgement they had faced because of his parents' unlikely marriage, the family's unification had been a necessity against a hostile, fearful Kalopsian society. Hasan had taken after his mother, a talented earth mage: stubborn, conscientious, and willing to make difficult choices on behalf of his people. Kaseem, on the other hand, had taken after their father, the fire mage: clever, often difficult, and fierce in his own quiet way. It was a strange twist of fate that had given Hasan the powers of flame, and his brother the gift of earth. 

Regardless, as he grew older, Hasan felt a closer connection to his father through his position as Raj. The struggles of leading a fractious kingdom had already taken its toll on him, not to mention the fear and disgust he often faced in the eyes of other court subjects. Though his father had died years ago, Hasan often felt himself drawing on the strength of Krishanu, wondering if the man had made similar decisions during his reign, during his youth ... He often questioned his mother during visits to the Earth court, trying to glean information on her long-dead husband without seeming desperate. Krishanu had soiled his reputation upon marrying his wife, and so history obscured what had been a prosperous, fair rule. Hasan hoped his term as Raj would prove just as successful, but given the recent conflict, his hope was steadily failing. 

“Tell me, Hasan, what do you know of daemons?”

He frowned, walking toward her across the ivory, tiled floor. "A passable amount. The Wind Court had a possession almost ten years ago, but we haven't had an issue since." The fire mage shuddered internally as he remembered the incident, which had demanded the attention of the Maharaja and all of his Raj's. The wind mage had contracted the daemon while traveling in Genesaris, and had carried it with her into Kalopsia without realizing it. The creature had grown more active in the tropical environment, taking strength from the thick magical aura. The possessed woman had gone violently rogue. It had taken them several days to follow the trail of bodies she had left in her path, but eventually she had been apprehended and brought to the Maharaja. He'd called an audience of his Council and his Raj's to determine the best course of action; the resulting exorcism had killed the woman. It was a painful memory. The screams of the tortured, dying mage still rang clearly in his ears. 

The implication of Leoa's question did not slip by the Raj, though he wouldn't believe it until she'd put her claim into words. Aside from the most recent outburst, he had not seen any violent symptoms in the man, his friend, his Maharaja; the possibility only deepened his guilt. If a daemon sat upon the gilded throne ... 

Hasan's eyes flickered to his own throne, so white and pristine. It was not hard to imagine a stain of red spreading from its head to the ivory tiles beneath. His green gaze found Leoa, silently pleading with her.  

Edited by roboblu

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"We call them Heathens," she started, and this time she turned from his pleading gaze. 

"The people of Kadia before we invaded - heathens. They are mages in their own right, using the land to enhance their abilities, where their beliefs spur them forth."

Leoa sighed, gathering her thoughts so that they were not so burdensome or heavy with unnecessary words. She sifted through her memory of the war, picked from it what would drive her implication forth and what would help soothe Hasan. Or, at least help him understand that all the blame on his shoulders is not of his doing nor is it his to carry. 

"He fell during the war, on land that was poisoned by its rulers, and those weakened in mind and body we dealt with - no matter which side they claimed home."

They had killed so many they knew and believed were corrupted. Leoa was not involved, she refused to be part of such an act when proof was not given for those claimed unable to be saved. 

"Desmond never told Corvinus because he knew his father would be overbearing and want to help his son. Whatever anyone thinks, Corvinus loves his children a great deal, but his people demand Corvin's hand to be righteous."

Desmond and Corvinus were the closest, and she knows that Corvin's heart must be hurting to have his son so viciously attacking his laws and his morals. It is a relationship she does not have the magic to portray the relationship between the two. What she can say is that Corvinus loves Desmond, probably the most or at least second to Connor. 

"He begged me not to tell him, and so I didn't. When Desmond was taken down during the war, he was weakened, and a daemon took advantage. He was tortured in his mind for a whole week, and when he woke up, he was terrified."

Again, she looked down at her hands, but this time she frowned prominently. Desmond was found screaming in his tent, smashing his head against the ground until it bled, grinding his teeth to the point he had lost a few. Only when Leoa had approached him did he calm; she held her son for almost two weeks, the two locked inside his tent where he screamed, clawed, and wished death. Between moments of consciousness he begged and pleaded with her to not tell Corvinus, and stupidly she did just that to protect her son's trust. 

Now he sits on a throne, desperately fighting the evil inside him while trying to rule a land he has no right to rule. 

"Desmond doesn't sleep, terrified that if he does the daemon will completely control him and in those small moments of reprieve he is tortured senseless. You've probably never seen him eat either, and that's because everything tastes like ash to him. He drugs himself to numb his sensations; he is in constant pain, constantly fighting the daemon's whispers of corruption wear him down."

Leoa turned her green gaze upon the struggling Raj. She was sorry, this was her fault for being secretive, this is her fault for not doing what was right to protect her child. There is no way her poor sorry will do anything to ease his apparent horror, so she would not voice it. 

"He will eventually die or succumb to the daemon. I can deal with him, Hasan."

He was capable of catching the first implication, he would surely catch this one.

Edited by Aleksei

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Every word that left the lioness's lips was like a stab to his chest, deflating him just a little bit more each time she opened her lips. Hasan hadn't felt this emotional in a long time, and it showed in his smoking, crimson right hand; the thin black tendrils curled up toward his face, stinging at his nose and eyes. First, he felt angry that his close friend and companion hadn't found this information relevant enough to share, essentially inviting a daemon up and onto the high throne of Kalopsia. Desmond had made his Raj an unwilling accomplice, and it wasn't only irresponsible- it was a direct betrayal of trust and a violation of national security. Hasan hated that he had to be the responsible person in this partnership, the only person, really, whose mind was always focused on the betterment of Kalopsia. He had taken a gamble in placing Desmond in the Crown, and it seemed that risk had been fulfilled. Desmond had not only stained the jewel of the Ariatic ocean with his family drama,  but he had also brought a daemon in and hadn't told anyone because of his own selfish fear ... Not even his best friend, his champion, his love- 

With a grunt, the fire mage struck out at the air with his closed fist, sending a burst of flame shooting out from his knuckles. The blast was not directed toward Leoa, instead licking at the corner of the domed ceiling above them. Fortunately for Hasan, the flame court palace had been designed with fire mages in mind, and the red-hot flames merely danced around the material before dying away. He panted after the sudden exertion, and remained turned away from his honored guest in shame and embarrassment. It seemed that he, the greatest fire mage in all of Kalopsia, was not above losing his temper. The skin on his knuckles stung, having been burnt by the uncontrolled magic; he held his right hand gingerly in his left, and stared out of the window with an expressionless look on his face. 

"He should have told me." 

Hasan knew the real reason he was so upset, but he didn't dare voice the words out loud. Someone he cared about immensely had been too afraid to come to him for help. Something in the Raj's demeanor had prevented Desmond from speaking his truth, and the man was literally wasting away because of it. Hasan wondered if had been the teasing, or the relentless flirting, or maybe his intense focus on fixing Kalopsia- but it had to have been something. Either he had intimidated Desmond enough to keep the man locked in a mental prison, or something in him, in Hasan, hadn't been trustworthy enough to warrant the truth. In either case, the Raj felt a deep sense of grief, hurt, and guilt as he cradled his burnt hand, feeling the flesh bubble into small heat blisters. He was sure that Leoa understood what he was feeling, so the tall, dark man took his time in processing the complicated mix of emotions. Finally, he spoke. 


The fire mage turned, his dark green eyes falling upon her with a great and terrible sadness in his gaze. "If it comes to it, I will deal with him." Hasan walked toward his goddess, his footsteps echoing through the cavernous room. "It's my country to defend, and he's my ..." His voice trailed off, ending in grimly pursed lips. It suddenly dawned on Hasan that Desmond would never be anything more than his Maharaja- there was no future for the two of them, not anymore. He took a shaky breath in. "But I refuse to believe that he's beyond help." With his mouth softening into a tired smile, the Raj opened his arms and wrapped Leoa into a hug, pressing his face into her golden locks. "I won't stop trying," he spoke softly, more for his benefit than for hers. They stood there for a long time, two strangers in a large, white room, a sad little plant sitting on the throne not ten paces away. 

"And to think I was waiting for you in the bedchamber this whole time," a feminine voice hissed from an adjacent hallway, breaking up Hasan and Leoa's embrace. "It seems you've already found enough female company for the day." A tall, blonde woman slipped into the great hall, her hair tousled and falling over caramel shoulders. She was not wearing much, only a thin kimono tied loosely at the waist, showing off her voluptuous figure and long, tanned legs. When she smiled at her Raj, the woman's topaz eyes narrowed, letting him know that he would be receiving the full force of her anger later. "Now Hasan, who, may I ask, is your lovely guest?" The woman's arms folded beneath her ample bosom, pushing her breasts up slightly; she was insecure in Leoa's glorious presence, and needed to remind her lover who he belonged to. 

"Azara," Hasan sighed, giving the lioness's hand a squeeze before releasing it. His voice was filled with unusual apprehension for such a magnificent man, but he was quick to turn his disappointment into a wry grin. "Don't you see the family resemblance?" By the irritation plain on Azara's face, it seemed she did not. "This is my second mother, Leoa." He reached forward to take the woman's hand, and felt a small spark pass between their fingers. That spark never failed to stir his senses, drawing new life into his pale cheeks. "Leoa, this is Azara Laghari, the daughter of a very old and powerful family in the Flame Court." Sensing the woman's steely gaze on the back of his head, Hasan was quick to add, "-And she's a talented mage in her own right." Azara's face broke into a smile, her beauty dazzling, her teeth pearly white. "She's my ..." He struggled to find the right word for this enchanting snake. "Paramour." The smile was wiped from Azara's face. 

Edited by roboblu

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Leo_zps15a56ee4.pngAs a Queen, an Empress, a Grande, she has been forced to place herself in situations that would benefit the lives of those she has ruled over. Many have died due to her instruction, and while there will always be a tinge of guilt, it is her understanding that some must die for the rest to live. No matter what is done - in love and in war - there are victims in the aftermath of deep pride and determination. 

She would have done it, killed her child for the betterment of Kalopsia. Her love would have to be snuffed once the decision to slip her blade into his chest; to keep him alive is a danger, to kill him would be a pain. Whatever she is, Grande Ucissore comes first and foremost, a harbinger of revolution, for that is what she has always been. These are the risks one takes when handed the helm of leader, and though she had fought tooth and nail not to be that leader, she wears the title with all the pride of a Lion.

Leoa would hide her thankfulness, for she was relieved that the act would be given to another, yet a pang of guilt made her reluctant to allow Hasan to carry the burden. His emotional attachment to Desmond would not supersede that of Leoa's, a trained individual for such things; she wonders if the time were to come to dispose of Desmond, could he do it? Would the man be able to raise his sword to the neck of the one he loves? How much does Hasan truly love his country and his countrymen? 

The woman knows she would kill whoever she had to without a second thought. Her children, her husband, the people she chose to protect - there is no ending to who she would dispose of if there is a threat to the society comforts that's been built.

She returned the hug, squeezing him close, giving him the comfort and strength he so needed in this time of distress. If there is a chance to save Desmond, then that is a chance they will take; if it turns out they are wrong, well ... surely there are other chances to be given. The Raj is a determined man with love on the mind and pain swimming in his heart, the desperation to save something so precious to him will drive him to the end of the world; he will try to keep the thing most precious to him. 

The Lion will follow.

They were interrupted, introductions made promptly to ease the sudden tension between the now group of three. Leoa beamed when Hasan claimed her as his mother and her smile continued when he introduced the other woman.

"Oh! You are like Juni."

The statement would be left up to the voluptuous women to chew on. Leoa couldn't approach her son without being revealed, so from afar she watched and evaluated her child from the shadows where she was the safest. From her lurking, she saw how Juni doted on Desmond, and by the whispers dotting the halls of his home, Juni and Desmond have found reprieve in each other's company. She wondered if it was the same for Hasan and Azara.

"It is a pleasure to meet you Azara; I hadn't meant to take away Hasan's attention for so long."

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There is an instant snap felt in the air between Azara and Leoa, though the Raj is quick to come between them. "She is important to me," he replies, though his cooing is directed toward the flaming mage held delicately in his arms rather than the empress. Regretfully, it is not enough to pacify Azara. Her golden eyes are molten with irritation. Juni is a foreigner in their proud lands, compounding the disease with her Nymerian witchcraft. She is nothing more than the Majaraha's slut, though even Azara is not bold enough to express these wicked thoughts in the presence of Hasan. Still, her next words carry venom. "I am nothing like her. My family has produced countless noble leaders of the Flame Court. Our last Maharaja was not one century past." For Azara, these words should be enough to bring this supercilious woman to her knees. After all, it is the royal blood of Kalopsia that flows through her hot veins. To her frustration, however, Hasan merely squeezes her hip and offers her a tight smile. 

"That is enough." 

The woman's cheeks grow scarlet with rage, but, locked in the stronger mage's grasp, she cannot retaliate. Hasan turns his attention to his adopted mother, the same strained smile still plastered on his face. "Leoa, would you like to see Darim? She's made herself very useful in my tailor's wing. We've found ourselves in need of blankets for the refugees, and her hands are quick and steady." The dark man releases his grip on his paramour in favor of the empress, offering her his outstretched arm. As they retreat, he casts a smouldering glance over his shoulder to Azara's lonely figure. "Wait for me in my quarters. We have a few things to discuss." With that, the handsome pair is gone, having retreated down one of many long, gleaming white halls. 

Left alone in the throne room, Azara seethes in quiet rage. Only when the Raj and his guest are out of earshot does she let out a shrill scream, a whip of flame appearing in her left hand. One crack and the plant so lovingly placed on the throne falls to fiery pieces on the white tiles below. Azara is no fool; she is angry, yes, but also quiet, calculating, and attentive. Her golden eyes flicker over to the mirror in the corner of the room, which is now covered by a plush, white velvet throw. Stalking over to the mirror, she rips its curtain to the ground and stares at her own reflection. If she focuses just so, she can see the shadow of someone else moving beyond the plane of her reality. A hot breath leaves her parted lips; it is her only hesitation. The woman puts her fingers to the glass, then pushes; her fingers glide through the reflective surface. 

Not a moment later, Azara is standing in the throne room of her Maharaja, who is pacing the room with a servant girl throwing petals at his feet. Feigning reverence, she falls to the ground before him. Only after he verbally relieves her does she sit back on her haunches, a malevolent glint shining from golden depths. 

"Mighty Maharaja, king of my kings, jewel of the Kalopsian Isles," she cries, her lower lip trembling with false grief.

"I have just overheard a plot for your murder."

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