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Aleksei

This promise

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"Father has always been a sensitive sod when it came to his children doing something out of the preordained."

Lyonene said with a heavy sigh, her words not meant to be malicious but it was the Melisende way to be clipped and punctuated in their opinions. Corvinus is an overbearing man that wants nothing but the best for his children; all he does and ever will do is to create a world of peace and comfort for his lineage. While most will frown on his less than courteous ways of obtaining said peace and prosperity, he can't be faulted for being a loving individual soured by his life's experiences. 

The wind of change has caught her ear, bringing her down from her isolated mountain to once again mingle with a family that she has long abandoned. Her father may not have appreciated her ways, may even paint her as a traitor to her name, but how can he do such things without being hypocritical? By tooth and nail, she can admit that her pride overruled any reliable thought, spurred by the need to change, to find herself outside her father's looming shadow. He will say that no one is within his shadow and she will say he is a liar. Say all he wants; every child has been shaped by the man's shadow, cultivated by his massive hand, produced to spread his word across Valucre.

Emerald hues slivered against the rush of cold air, causing a shiver to crawl down her small spine as the chill spread from her face to her toes. Having been sheltered in the comforts of Alterion, she has forgotten the Cold South's wilds twofold. If it hadn't been for the mission of reacquiring something incredibly precious and valuable from the hearth of this godforsaken land, she would not have come back. Bitter memories aside, winter had never been a favorite season of her's. 

"Well, if he showed any reason when it came to our mother, perhaps this situation could have been avoided."

Though not everyone can have the same pragmatic view such as herself, so her opinion may be a tad too harsh in this matter. Her father and mother have a story that's damp with drama and its ilk; to expect him to react any differently is an inappropriate hope to have. Without his anchor, without the chain to his collar, the Emporer of Kadia is left to feel empty and lifeless in a world that gives him very limited kindness. Partially his fault. One can't expect sympathy when they are unable to offer a little themselves, adding weight to the old aged saying: you get what you give. Not everything is meant to go as planned; if it were, the world would not be as fascinating as it is. 

"Secrets, always secrets. 'I do it for your own good,' 'I was only thinking of you,' 'I couldn't risk hurting you' - blah blah blah. It's always the same."

She smiled when the voice in her ear laughed. Lyonene has been in contact with all of her siblings, from Ezio all the way down to Novalie, which is the only reason why she is in the current loop of events. Her mother's passing punched an aching hole in her heart - that's her mother. The woman who helped Lyonene escape, the person who ensured her child was always involved in the family dealings even though she was miles away, the individual who proved that love could be unconditional. The latter part of that information nearly crippled her.

Cornelius is a fragile man behind all his high spoken philandering ways. And because of her selfishness, she was not the one who assisted his escape nor was she there to ease his heartache. She's missed so much, lost precious opportunities to be with her loved one. Her actions this day will rectify her childish behavior, which will hopefully give her beloved answers - if she can find him, that is. Darim told her that Cornelius was somewhere in the wilds of the Cold South, then gave Lyonene random quadrants that may or may not be useful, and sent her on her way. 

Stopping to catch her breath, the small woman looked up to the branch riddled sky with a heavy frown. For once, let her be on time.

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The concept – and likewise value – of time had been the first thing Cornelius lost in the wilds of the Imperial South. Seconds, minutes, hours, days-- none of it mattered in the bitter cold, the violent tempests, or the sweltering heat. There were no diplomatic meetings awaiting his royal attention, no late night affairs with barons’ daughters, no battle against demons and darkness gathering at their empire’s doorstep, threatening to devour all that they had built.

None of that mattered now. Not since he murdered his mother and fled his father’s wrath. And in a way, Cornelius was thankful for that.

Stripped of honorifics and all the duties and privileges that came with them, the heir apparent of Leoa’s lionsblood was able to hone the most base and instinctual pieces of himself. While his brothers and sisters slept on lavish beds, wrapped in sheets of silk, blankets of swan feathers, and pillows softer than the clouds themselves, he’d learned to enjoy the comfort of the hard earth. Where they wore the latest in Kadian fashion, he was garbed in tatters and rags, the symbol of the empire – and their family crest – just barely visible on the weather fabric.

Golden mane, once cropped short and neat, had grown in the months since his disappearance. The longest lengths swept at his shoulders, matted with sweat, grime, and grease. A beard of similar time, equally neglected, added a number of years to the prince’s formerly young, childish looking features. The scars that riddled his muscled chest, arms, and back, were as much trophies as the bones that dangled around his neck, wrists, and waist – the grim remains of horrors he’d fell while in his isolation.

Still, in spite of his tribal – no, barbaric – appearance, Cornelius had not lost his wits. There was still a man within the quiet fortress of muscle and spirit. He was at war with the soulseeker within him, beating it back from the surface, keeping its beacon of light and radiance far from his father’s vigilant eyes. The Kadian Emperor had many agents in his employ, a legion of desperate souls eager to prove themselves to the God of Mankind. A cruel, blind, unforgiving god--

Cornelius silenced the thought as he brought his titanic blade heaving down. The metal cleaved through the horror with ease, greedily drinking the creature’s black-red blood and vomiting the rest across muddy earth. Around them, a horde of other monstrosities lay butchered in the grass, their blood and entrails strewn about. With the emperor’s continued absence from the south, the Sea of Corruption had taken the offensive. Its polluted tendrils woven deep into the earth, rooting out formerly garrisoned posts and well-defended territories.

More and more, these psychic horrors plagued the lands.

With the final beast laid low, Cornelius slammed his sword into the ground, leaning into the breeze. Closing his eyes, he invited her into the silence.

You can’t keep going like this, Cory, Leoa’s voice flooded his mind. You’re going to get yourself killed. Is that what you want?

“It doesn’t matter what I want,” he replied dryly. “Either I die here, fighting, or I die by Father’s hand. If I am to die, I would rather it be on my feet, like a warrior, than broken like a dog.”

You underestimate your father’s sense of reason—

“He has no reason when it comes to you,” he snapped. “Do you think he cares to know that you made me do it? All I am to him is the man that killed his wife! All I am to my brothers and sisters is the sibling that killed our mother!”

We are stronger than that, my love. You know that.

“No.”

You need to go home.

“Leave me!”

Gripping the hilt of his blade tight, Cornelius ripped the sword from the earth and swung it at the trees. The pressure from the blow cut through wood and stone, ripped dirt and eviscerated corpses from the floor and sent them careening deeper into the woods in a typhoon of wind, debris, and gore. Heaving with frustration, Cornelius shook his head and turned away, continuing his search for the next battle.

“I have no home,” he said to himself. “Not anymore.”

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l1tACaC.pngShe had tried long ago to be the delicate woman that wilts prettily beneath the flowery words of a fine gentleman. The sort of lady who fits in with society and stays there, dare not move an inch or be branded as different, but she was born to be just that - different. As an Untouchable, she was already marked to be an outlier no matter how she wore the airs of common royalty, damn did she try to be that sort of woman who could wrap a man around her finger, who could be that damsel high in her lofty tower. 

Her attention had gone from one gentleman to another; first, it had been a man who wore no title, held no land, and certainly did not deserve the attention of an imperial princess. Young and dauntless, she fell in love quickly without a single drop of preparation for her flounder. Secondly had been Ceron, a man from another world where he sat on a throne as Emporer. Whatever happened to him, she has not a clue, which is shameful considering he held a majority of her heart for a very long time. If life turned upside down and granted her one wish, she would love to speak to Ceron and give him thanks.

Love, her life has never been without it. The shape and form it comes to her though is a variety. 

Lyonene tried to be that delicate woman - for him. He had always shown a taste for a lady who was willing to throw petals at his golden feet. The women who hung from his arm always looked the best, garbed in the gaudiest, the brightest, and the most expensive; they glorified his overall beauty and strength. To her, he was the very first God that had ever blessed her with his time and honored her with his love - there are no others. The need to be a delicate woman was stripped from her as the want to be a woman of worth overcame her in a huge wave. 

Cornelius belongs to her just as much as the stars belong to the sky, the moon to the sun, the oceans to the earth. The heart in her timid chest beat to the tune of his shattered soul; they are connected by more than blood, threaded together by an unshakable bond.

The silence of the wilds made her mind wander, for that she was punished by the sudden swoosh of air whipping her face with icy tendrils. With it, a voice was carried to her ears, a sound that prompted the small woman to run through mountains of snow in a less than ladylike manner. Creatures, no matter their make and kind, kept away from the woman out of fear and disgust as they're unable to withstand the immense influence that surrounds her. Without hindrance, she was able to amble through the snow, his name on her lips like a prayer.

"Cornelius!"

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The sound of her voice cut through the howling wind like a knife, piercing his ears and pinning him in place. The echo of it dancing between the trees, gliding over the snow, hand in hand with the breeze, sent a shiver down his spine more powerful than even the coldest ice. How long had it been since he last heard the angelic choir that was Lyonene’s voice? Likely too long, if the yearning it stirred in the pit of his stomach was any indicator. It was enough to give him pause, even convince him to half-turn in the direction her voice rippled from.

Yet, the disgraced imperial son had no desire for her to see him in such a way. He was a savage, hollow shell of the young man he’d once been, and Lyonene, sweet, precious Lyonene, she deserved far better than what he’d become. Even Darim had seen less and less of her brother as he retreated into himself, shying away from one of the last bonds he had to civilization and the life he threw away.

Why have you sent her here, sister? Lyonene would not have been able to find him were it not for Darim, his insistent little sister. I told you I didn’t want to see her; didn’t want her to see me. Perhaps she’d come to simply express her wishes as Darim had done, promise to protect him if only he’d come home. Or worse, perhaps she was coming to inform him that she’d been given to another, as their betrothal had no doubt been rendered illegitimate by their vindictive father.

“Cornelius!”

Her voice rang out again, louder this time, and when once again turned away from his path, Cornelius saw his beloved sister through a dancing veil of snow. Move, he told himself. She was still far enough that he could escape, lose her in this wintry hell and force her to return to the safety of the keep. But his body betrayed him, and so he stood there, sword in hand, watching as she picked her way through the thicket and cold.

“What are you doing out here, Lyonene?” His voice is colder than winter, rough as his appearance. “You shouldn’t be here. You’re putting yourself in danger.” They both know he speaks not of the beasts or even the marauders that stalk the woodlands, for her very presence is more than enough to offend them. Were it not for their close proximity throughout their childhood, and the lionsblood they shared, even Cornelius might have been unable to stand the very sight of her.

All the same, it was impossible for him not to enjoy her. In all his years, Cornelius had never seen a woman more beautiful than his mother – and her beauty, she passed directly to Lyonene. There were those that mocked the affection Cornelius had for his mother and sister (due to their likeness), some which called it inappropriate. But through his eyes, they were two sides of the same coin, perfect made manifest, and it was his privilege to love them both.

“You’ll catch a cold,” he said more softly, tilting his head to the side as he inspected her. “And then I’ll have to carry you.”

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l1tACaC.png"I'm here for you," she responded only to be met with a warning. "You shouldn't be here either, yet you are."

Their father's wrath is far-reaching; here in the wilds of his former empire, they felt his looming shadow edging closer and closer to snuff what light is left in their lives. There's a reason - always - for what he does, be it for his children's welfare, the deep and penetrating love he has for his wife, or for the goodness of his people; Corvinus stretches his mighty hand across them all, like a shooting star ripping across the heavens. In this moment of reunion, she could feel the tips of her father's worn fingers pressing against her back.

Love cannot stifle nor can it dictate. Either of those circumstances will turn a tender feeling into something ugly. She took one step forward, parting herself from her father's distant touch.

Snagging his evaluating stare, the woman was overcome with desire and something more, something so soul-stirring she did not comprehend until that moment how much she had missed him. She should have known, for these last months had been hellish. It was disquieting to admit such vulnerability, and Lyonene felt uncomfortable as any person forced to acknowledge so strong a dependence on another human being. This was the complete opposite of a life she's ever wanted to live. Cornelius barged his way into her world, breaking down walls and shattering glass in his usual magnificent way. He occupied her mind, body, and soul. 

"You can hardly carry the breath in your chest."

The Lionness stepped forward some more, sinching the space between them step by step. When she was close enough, the woman fell to her knees and looked up to her beloved with daring emerald eyes.

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