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Hantei | Judgement

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Immediately following the completion and the hype of the Empress' coronation, a young woman appeared mysteriously. This of course happening just after the vengeful spirit of the late Empress paid them a visit to wreak havoc if only for a brief moment. The young woman came with her eyes and feet bound, and she refused to speak, or to make just about any sound for that matter. The Emperor has done little more than visually observe her, though the fact that she was marked with the number seven, and the way in which she was marked was indicative of the original plans for how they would mark their concubines, a choice that was never invoked upon the harem prior to Kimi's early departure from this world. The only thing he was certain he didn't regret in her passing was the fact that he kept his promise to her. Though Akako was alive and presumably well even now, there was no mistaking that he they had killed her. Penance had been delivered as it had been promised. What was more, Kimi was alive to witness her own vengeance. In which of course they conceived their heir in the entrails of the then slaughtered Yokai Queen. The simple occurrence of the number seven, and even now roughly two years later having never officially met the final concubine since the harem was formed, was enough to pique Koji's interest. Even though it had been nearly a year since Kimi's death, he wanted to believe this woman was but another gift that lavished upon him in her wake.

"Bring me the girl, summon Shuyi immediately, and inform the Empress that I require her company once the Prince has been put down."

With Katiya now filling the shoes of Kimi once wore, it was only right that she was present to observe and even differ to when he was unclear of his thoughts. If Nana could or would not speak, and he refused to express his own abilities upon her, then Shuyi would figure out the necessities he lacked for deciding first the authenticity of this young woman, and then as to if he was willing to accept her or not. His family and himself had been through so much. They've bonded in way he had never imagined he would care for another life. For a new face to suddenly join them was nearly a ludicrous thought in his mind without truly considering it. He never wanted a harem in the first place, and though he had learned to love this one, he consistently failed to replace a lost wife on his roster. With one delivering herself to him, he wasn't yet sure how to handle the situation. His thoughts fell to the Kodo in his lack of knowing what he wanted, in which it was announced in the beginning that those capable of completing the trials would be crowned as concubines, admitted into the sister wife lifestyle and charged with baring the Emperor's legacy. He had broken his Kodo before, for Katiya. More than once at that. If it was what he wanted, would he dare to do it again?

@Dreamer @Akako Akari

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It had been a long while since the Emperor had summoned The Plague, though she knew he would eventually. After Kimi had passed, his usefulness of her had dwindled, though, Shuyi didn't mind. Her patience was vast, as immense at the lands Koji would eventually claim as his own. It was unfortunate, Kimi's death, though incredibly necessary. Shuyi knew it was coming, though never gave any indication to anyone except the young Empress. Kimi had instructed Shuyi to keep that information between them and so she had. The eldritch abomination was loyal to the fallen Void Kitsune and still was even after her death. There was a purpose in that though. Kimi's involvement with the Emperor would lead to events that would fulfill the Seer's visions. It was why the archdaemon's lips curled into a smile as she glided through the halls to meet with her Emperor.

The demoness was escorted to the Emperor and upon arrival, she bowed at the waist as was proper. Upon righting herself, she spoke.

"My Lord, you've finally called upon me. I am honored to be in your presence once again."

Even as Shuyi spoke, the blind woman flanked by two faceless monsters was escorted down the hall. Her feet were barely touching the ground as she was basically dragged. Each of the demons held her roughly by the arms as she kept her head down, hair veiling her face and blood-stained cheeks. He had called her Nana, though she had no name that she could recall. A voice had whispered to her, guided her here. Not that she knew where here was. But her guide had sounded so sincere, so gently and kind that the woman felt compelled to follow.

The journey had been long and within her shoes, her feet bled. The voice was always there, chatting away telling her things about the man that she came to love from stories alone. Though, the voice gave her a warning that she was not to speak. Not a word could be uttered from her lips even if the man were to ask it of her. The blind woman had accepted this demand if it meant she could be with the man that the voice described. There was a desperation for it. It was unclear if the voice had instilled that feeling in her or if she had come to that feeling on her own. It didn't matter though. She was here now and she'd already heard his voice once and it inspired a longing that she'd never known before.

Finally, they arrived. Nana licked her lips nervously and lowered herself to her knees before Koji and the archdaemon that she couldn't tell was present. Her other senses had yet to begin making up for her lack of sight, so it must have been recently that she lost her eyes. Though, it must have been horrific because she couldn't recall how or when. She couldn't even remember her past... It left her in a vulnerable state of confusion.

@Dreamer @Twitterpated

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Akui reached for the leaf, Katiya lifted him to touch it, he giggled and batted at it, amused with himself and the feel of something foreign. It was clear he was ever curious to learn, she wasn't sure how rapid Akui would grow since he was not human. One thing was for sure, he was adaptive, and he had taken to her quite well even though she was not his birth mother. The thought of Kimi came to mind when she recalled how she had come to caress her son and locked eyes with her, still unsure of the meaning behind her haunting stare before leaving. Katiya felt like a protector of the young prince, she wasn't motherly, but Akui forced a side of her she wasn't used to and she accepted. Most of the people she had been around in her life, including herself, had killed, or been strong enough to be a fighter. An innocent like Akui made her want to fight for him, instead of with him. Although, who knew what the future would bring for the young prince. The thought of advising him was a nice thought. A soft smile escaped her as she whisked him down, kissing him on the nose.

"You're up past your nap." She murmured to him as if he was mischievously in on it with her. He reached out to pat her cheeks and laugh, "Cunning, Prince."

Kat looked about the room with some caution. Even though they were in the palace, it still occurred to her that such things were never as they seem up front. The room was filled with gorgeous paintings, wood furniture, toys and soft rugs strung about. The open nature wooed the prince into a more soft state as he began to slumber to chirping birds just outside.

A servant did not make a sound as she entered, with a low bow she locked eyes with the vampire empress. Red silks adorning her arms unraveled the bundle and she carefully placed him in her arms to put him away. There was other business to tend to, this mysterious woman who was to be a sister had she stayed in her concubine position. Katiya briskly made her way down the hall, followed by guards and a handmaid should she need. By time she had met with him, there was a picture already playing out. Since becoming empress she had yet to meet everyone in Koji's confidence, though she had yet to question any of them. Shuyi, as she would come to know was a seer, and behind her was the woman in question, Nana. Katiya stood diagonal, she was 'late' and therefore did not make her presence known until Nana was on her knees before Shuyi and Koji.

"Good afternoon."

Red eyes lowered to the woman and then she stared at Koji for a moment. There was nothing to be said after that until she was up to speed, or until Shuyi and Koji had questions for Nana.

@Twitterpated @Akako Akari


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Leave it to a seer to sense when their presence is needed. The moment he spoke her name she had already heard it minutes prior, perhaps even hours, days, or months. Regardless, she had been awaiting this day, and despite the short span of a human year, it sounded as if she had been left in the dark for an eternity. Awaiting his divine light to illuminate her presence. Not that he'd admit or convey the feelings aloud, though losing his Empress left him in a place where he didn't want to speak to Shuyi, for she served as an irrefutable memory. She had almost been there with them since the beginning, and by her visions this Empire has spawned, more or less to her expectation. Growing still at this very moment. 

"We are honored to have you."

He replied with the slightest bow of his head, his right hand closing into a fist and pressing into the knife hand that was his left. A salute of sorts. Bringing his indigo eyes to settle upon the young woman once more, Koji began to speak, his gaze cast upon Shuyi by the end of his words.

"This girl comes to us a cripple. Either she refuses to speak, or she simply cannot. She harbors the sacred number shichi."

"Good afternoon."

Perfect. As always, Katiya had impeccable timing. He smelled her before she entered the room to join them, harboring the scent of Lurid Tea Leaves and the illustrious Blood-cherry Blossoms. Surely as he spoke, she heard him. His gaze turned her her for a brief moment, his pupils dilated the moment they met her's. Silently, with nothing more than a look, he gave her the most intimate greeting afforded over all others present. Shuyi couldn't argue over which he loved more if such a thing were possible in the true sense of the human phrase. Though he certainly loved them differently. Looking back to the Archdaemon, Koji's half lidded eyes grew into a stern, narrow glare.

"What can you tell me about her?"

He had no doubts that Shuyi had words for him, though he knew and respected that certain details that may or may not reflect the future must not be shared; Lest the foolish become obsessed with controlling the outcome that was their destiny. Fate. 

@Akako Akari @Dreamer

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Koji only told the archdaemon what she already knew which she found amusing. Perhaps it was more for his benefit than for hers. In any case, the Plague knew this girl and why she didn't speak. For that same reason, Shuyi knew what she would bring to the empire and Koji. Her lips curled into a smile as she recalled the visions she'd seen.

The knowing smile never left Shuyi's lips even as Katiya entered the room. Despite not having any eyes to speak of, the eldritch turned her head as if to gaze at the new Empress. Shuyi's smile widened at the woman before she turned to Koji once more to answer his question.  

"She is your final consort, my Lord," she answered simply as if that would quiet the questions that he surely had. He must know that she rarely divulged information unless it was in the form of an impossible riddle. 

While the trio spoke, Nana listened in silence. She was beginning to feel somewhat restless, wanting the man named Koji to address her which he had yet to do. On her hands and knees, the blind woman moved without turn and began to approach where she assumed Koji was. Her hands groped at the ground as she moved forward only for her to be grabbed by the back of her neck and hauled backward by one of the guards. 

She was placed back where she had been and her face twisted into a grimace at the rough handling. Her lips parted as if she wanted to speak though she didn't utter a sound. Pressing her lips closed again, the girl hung her head and waited. 

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Perhaps one could not control their fate. Even changing such a thing might still result the same. The seer knew this, she in fact seemed coy about the details that she knew. Kat quietly took in the details of Shuyi, she was a rather intricate looking being. While she didn't possess the features of more human like creatures her mouth did all of the emotions needed to give Katiya some consensus about her.

"She is your final consort, my Lord." The amusement Shuyi had in her face in the beginning seemed overshadowed by the underwhelming simplistic way in which she answered Koji. It reminded her of a cat, a cat would kill a bird and give it to it's master without a thought. It was a simple gesture that made a human's stomach churn. Yet delving deeper the cat was giving the bird away as a way of devotion and love. There was always more to it than the simple answer she spoon fed Koji. Though Katiya was curious if he would be annoyed by the answer.

An anxious energy filled the room, one that made her skin prickle. Nana groped restlessly at the ground to get to Koji and was quickly put in her place. The woman seemed hopelessly defeated by her failure. Nana gave her the feeling of an obsessed and possessive sort of nature, masked in a 'mute', blind woman. This lead her to worry about what would happen if a fox was let loose in the hen's pen. Would Nana be so possessive she would kill the other concubines, or worse, their children?

"You've given the least amount of information needed to even consider keeping her here. Shichi, Seven, jaws of death, or even, a pawn." Katiya looked down at Nana.

"Svabol possesses wux ekess nakta jacioniv?" She said openly without looking at him. She wanted honesty, was it Nana's number? Was it that she was a mysterious box he wanted to unravel? What were his reservations at first glance and how she acted. Did it not make him wonder? 

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He endured the short answer that sounded as if it was left unfinished. Thanks to her usual nature, it was unclear if Shuyi had done so intentionally or not. Suddenly Nana clamored at his feet, a single finger glancing the edge of his robes nearest her before being dragged back to where she knelt prior. Her twisted face of confusion and sorrow meant nothing to him. It inspired no feelings in response. 

"You've given the least amount of information needed to even consider keeping her here. Shichi, Seven, jaws of death, or even, a pawn." Katiya looked down at Nana.

"Svabol possesses wux ekess nakta jacioniv?" She said openly without looking at him. 

"Vi visidark ios eschoup anyui."

He answered swiftly, hardly letting her questioned settle before spitting an answer out in mild annoyance. A lot had change since Kimi's untimely demise. The nation hadn't grown much more, though its presence solidified, its Emperor having changed the most out of all. Mourning Kimi, and recovering from her loss was perhaps the toughest thing he had ever endured. Much more difficult than his time imprisoned in the Void. In all honesty, had it not have been for their son, the heir to the Datsuzoku throne and namesake, then perhaps he would have died shortly after. He'd never admit it, but the thought briefly crossed his mind. He could have brought her back, he could have resurrected her, but by his methods she'd have hardly been herself as he knew her. As he loved her.

"As I explained to you in the beginning, I never wanted this harem to begin with. Kimi formed it on my behalf, primarily to ensure the continuation of my lineage. My legacy. Each and every woman that has devoted themselves to me has done so with something unique to offer, a sure benefit to interbreeding. Despite being a cripple, she surely hosts something valuable, as all of your former sisters have proven. If she hadn't have been selected as the number seven specifically, I'd be driven to say she was sent to us to replace you in the harem. Though her timing seems to be more a coincidence than anything. None the less at the same time she arrives, were we visited by the spirit of Kimi herself. Almost as if she was a gift to us..."

A prepared gift, could Nana really be such a thing? Did Kimi know she was going to die? Did she hide it, choose it even? Did Shuyi know, and did she tell Kimi? Did they plot this together or was Shuyi simply too aware? He could never tell, part of the reason he never dealt with her directly, only enjoyed her presence second hand. She was a creature of chaos, and of ageless time. He could only imagine holding her capabilities within his hands, her age and her wisdom. Though that is what encouraged her sense of insanity. 

"While I feel certain she poses no threat to myself, or to my children, I cannot assume she will not target her sisters. Or even you, my Empress. This concubine was chosen, as were the others. The prevailers of the games, she is intended for a harem that no longer exists. Excluding our loses, all concubines accounted for have either barred a child of mine or is currently preparing to do so. All of each, in such little time, have been through so much together. Our bonds are much more than what a mere harem would stipulate. Your former sisters are content with one another and where they stand. I never wanted what I have, and now that I'm used to having it, I do not wish it to change."

Though he refrained from saying it out loud, there was the fact too in his mind that perhaps there was more to her he just had to wait and see. There was no telling what Kimi had prepared now how long ago she'd done it. This was worrisome solely because he remembered how intimately Kimi loathed Katiya, for reasons both known and soon to be.

"Sjek wer ocuirar tepohaic thric throdenilt yenta, si siofme yth jalla observe jacioniv vur confn ekess vin anyui ulnaus."

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That familiar voice spoke in Nana's mind. It was a tranquil and melodic sound that calmed the blind woman. The disappointment that she felt, given Koji's lack of response, faded and she relaxed. There was an awareness in her, unlike before. She knew then that she just needed to wait and soon the Emperor might address her. While Nana had sworn herself to silence, there were other ways she could communicate, but not yet. Nana wanted to ask her what to do, but not in a room full of people.

One of the women sounded less than pleased and Nana internally flinched as the stranger bit out the word 'pawn'. While her tone didn't necessarily hold contempt, the newest concubine could practically feel it radiating off of her. She wondered if this woman was his lover or someone that simply wanted him. It didn't matter, but she was curious anyway. Nana wanted to know everything about the Emperor. From the stories, she heard from the mysterious voice in her mind, he very rarely showed anything on the surface; however, he was a complex individual. Koji was an enigma to her and she was compelled to learn more. 

While Nana settled herself and became still, Shuyi also remained silent. Her vast well of patience was the reason her smile never faded even as the second Empress spoke to her in such an accusatory manner only to question her Lord after that. It was humorous really. Shuyi could imagine how Kimi would have reacted to such disrespect, but she wasn't here. 

They spoke in Koji's native tongue, a language Shuyi had made a point to learn eons before meeting the late Empress and Emperor. Even then, Shuyi remained quiet, waiting for Koji to address her again. If he had more specific questions for her, she would do her best to give him answers as she could. There were things that she was unable to divulge, but that was the nature of her gift. 

After Koji fell into silence, Shuyi stepped forward towards the girl while speaking. "A gift... from your true love." Shuyi's lips were curled into a smile even as she spoke the words. She knelt and gripped the girl's arm and forced her to stand. "A romantic thought." The archdaemon continued as she reached with her free hand to trace the girl's face which she realized was shaped much like Kimi's. "Her purpose isn't limited to serving as a concubine. That much I can tell you..." 

At first, when the stranger touched her arm then gripped with bruising force, Nana nearly panicked, but the voice murmured and instilled a sense of ease. Nana should trust this stranger, the one that touched her face with a gentleness that was at odds with the opposing hand that clutched painfully. 

"As you know, my Lord, our Empress never did anything without thought. Each woman, with the exception of her successor, was selected with purpose. There was always a plan even when she seemed erratic. You would know best, my Lord."

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"Ui ti coi though?"

Something she would have answered if there were breath left to answer. Yet it was clear that he had to give her justification, in fact almost a lecture in why Nana should stay. Even more so, even if he hadn't intended to, she again questioned what she brought. If it was her honest opinion he was asking, if it was her genuine answer, then he wasn't going to like it. He had already made that clear just by questioning it. Katiya didn't, and couldn't, question how Koji and Kimi had lived before her, nor could Kimi fathom how they existed before even their parents decided their fate. Yet it seemed as though that was scrutinized ever since he asked her to stand next to him. Would he have answered Kimi the same if it was a replica of Katiya standing before him?

The Empress chalked it up to curiosity. He must have been very curious about this 'gift' left on their door step. Truly a theatrical genius.

"While I feel certain she poses no threat to myself, or to my children, I cannot assume she will not target her sisters. Or even you, my Empress. This concubine was chosen, as were the others."

If she was feeling vain she would have growled, laughed, something in between. However nothing came out, instead she stared at him for only a moment, she was expressionless. It was then that Shuyi broke the silence, only to add her two cents, as well as her discontent with Katiya.

It was then that she finally broke, and laughed.

The vampire's laugh echoed through the large hall they were in, finally breaking her silence.

"True love." Katiya put her hands behind her back and began to stride forward, toward Shuyi, "Selected with purpose. Kimi, wasn't my purpose, her poised line wasn't my purpose, therefore I am not disheartened she didn't 'choose' me. Your Lord, did. But you knew that."

Katiya looked down at Nana, not with contempt, or understanding, she was neutral once more. It wasn't Nana's fault after all that she was standing before them, clutched in Shuyi's grasp. 

"Truly a romantic gift." Nana even looked like Kimi, there was no mistaking what kind of gift it was.

Katiya's eyes then left Nana and Shuyi entirely and she found herself drifting to Koji. A pale hand reached out to grab his fingers carefully, "I told you I would stand next to you. This is your selection. One that is clear. Perhaps my anger comes deep within, feeling as though a ghost stands between us. One that I likely wouldn't attempt to banish, simply because I am in no competition, I am here." 

A slow grin appeared on her full lips, 'But make no mistake, I am death, and it follows me.'

So she left it up to him to decide where Nana was to go, what she was to do. After all, it seemed that was what the seer wanted as well.





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It was clear to him that perhaps the seer didn't like Katiya for a reason, he dare not think the archdaemon was so attached to Kimi that it could check it's bias. Of course there was so much the seer saw and knew that he wasn't permitted the knowledge of, none of them were. It briefly crossed his mind that perhaps the future seen with Katiya in Kimi's place wasn't quite the same. He knew better than to ask about the differences, though his confusion stemmed from the fact that his plans had yet to change. His path was a divine one, as well as selfless. A necessary one. His decision to accept the responsibility of restoring balance was one he refused to go back on. He accepted long ago that he would not live to see the results of his work, though he left it in the hands of the generations that followed to fulfill his legacy. 

"A gift... from your true love....A romantic thought."

While there was no lie found in this statement, the Heika found himself curious as to why she chose such a rhetorical question. Had he not asked for anything he may not know? Shuyi could have done better to simply answer no, but instead she felt the need to rub the point in. Finally, the Seer quieted his frustration and doubts with at least one valuable detail.

"Her purpose isn't limited to serving as a concubine. That much I can tell you..."

His mind reeled a brief moment, grasping for reasoning premature of it's time. He speculated over what else this concubine was capable of, what other purpose would she serve? The fact that Kimi's restless spirit was openly among them at this point was one happening all it's own, though perhaps this woman is what she'd been waiting for all along. Had Kimi planned to return to him all along? Was Nana a vessel for her spirit? Was it a temporary, or permanent solution? If he was correct in his predictions to any degree, would she even be the same woman he loved so deeply? His Kimi. 

The vampire's laugh echoed through the large hall they were in, finally breaking her silence.

"True love." Katiya put her hands behind her back and began to stride forward, toward Shuyi, "Selected with purpose. Kimi, wasn't my purpose, her poised line wasn't my purpose, therefore I am not disheartened she didn't 'choose' me. Your Lord, did. But you knew that."

Koji gazed upon Katiya as she finally made noise for the first time since entering. Her laugh was sarcastic, with a hint of complete seriousness. He couldn't speak for his Empress, though he liked to believe that there was no such thing as a one true love. This singular point he has driven home by learning to love all of the women he had the pleasure of sharing his life with. Not to mention his children, and even his most loyal of subordinates such as the Nation's beloved General. While true love existed in his mind, it was nothing like the human conception of the word. As if he wasn't at least a little human beneath his apparent mutations. Despite the chill that ran up his spine, and the goosebumps prickling at his skin beneath his robes at the flare of Katiya's emotions, Koji remained more or less still, his face unchanged.

"Truly a romantic gift."

Indeed it was, though that didn't necessarily make it a good one. Weary as he was, he was curious still. 

Katiya's eyes then left Nana and Shuyi entirely and she found herself drifting to Koji. A pale hand reached out to grab his fingers carefully, "I told you I would stand next to you. This is your selection. One that is clear. Perhaps my anger comes deep within, feeling as though a ghost stands between us. One that I likely wouldn't attempt to banish, simply because I am in no competition, I am here."

"Ios visidark sia itov."

His voice boomed in his native tongue, his tone deep with an accented with a rasp. His indigo eyes found her scarlet ones as soon as he felt the electricity of their touch. He settled for the minute touch of her cold, alabaster skin against the lurid, ebony scales of his Draconic arm. It wasn't until he initially answer her that he returned her grin, his left, human arm snaking around to the small of her back. Moving their bodies closer together, he kissed his Empress with passion and a certain primal urge, reminiscent of a secret night, or rather short series of nights spent with Katiya at Sakura Onsen. His half lidded, lackadaisical gaze found sharp edges as they narrowed. He made certain to look at Shuyi from the corner of his eye as he did so. Afterwards he kept her close, holding her tightly with his human limb, while his Draconic flanges continued to dance with Katiya's with a certain gentleness, as if he might crack her porcelain skin.

"You know I'm going to try keeping her, just like I know your answer would go against those wishes, yet even in your ascension you afford me the same values as before. Lae sjek si expect nuri de sia chosen ir."

He spoke low, only to her. He cared not if the Seer heard him or not, for her seclusion was not the point so much as his intimacy shared with his Empress. His True Love. With a peck upon her head, Koji released Katiya and stepped back to meet her gaze once more for any split moment, silent messages that sometime only a look could share. He didn't expect a surprise with her reaction, though he hoped she would truly forgive him for this regardless of the results. Not just live with it, but truly forgive him. Just as he once hoped that Kimi would truly forgive him for going back to bring along his now Empress when this whole thing had hardly began. Turning to face the guards and Nana, his Draconic limb lifted, signalling the guards to release the poor girl. Stopping before her, Nana, Koji offered his Draconic limb to her. He'd instruct her to take his hand before pausing to allow her to find it with her own. Once she did, he'd continued he helped her to her feet.

"Take my hand, rise...Though you may not speak, you require a name that is more than just a number. From this day forth, you shall be known as, Kimiko."

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Shuyi released Nana's arm and placed her opposite hand on the girl's shoulder to apply slight pressure to let her know to kneel again. Nana did so without complaint while the eldritch horror merely smiled as Katiya continued. Eventually, her head tilted to the side as if she was mystified by the vampire. What Shuyi knew was Katiya wasn't enough as she was now to inspire Koji to be the force of nature that he would eventually become. He needed more, needed her to be more, but Shuyi had seen that Katiya wasn't as manipulative or as ambitious as the void kitsune had been. Kimi was the daughter of Akako after all. There was something in her lineage that demanded extremes. However, the Seer's visions hadn't altered as of yet, which was promising. 

The Plague had chosen her words carefully, knowing that they would shape her relationship with the newest concubine and herself. Everything was deliberate. While the vampire likely deduced that the archdaemon was petty, there was more to it than that. Perhaps the Emperor was intelligent enough to know better considering he had interacted with her several times, but it didn't matter. All that mattered was how Katiya viewed Nana and how she remembered Kimi. 

Shuyi allowed the silence to fill the room as the Emperor and Empress shared a moment. When they disengaged, Shuyi's lips cracked open as she grinned, which looked more like she was bearing her teeth than smiling. She bent at the knees and bowed her head. 

"I shall take my leave, Heika." Then she turned, and the pair of monsters that were at her disposal followed along with her leaving Koji's guards, Nana, and Katiya behind. 

Nana thought it would have made her anxious when Shuyi left; however, she found herself oddly calm. His voice came again, and the mute lifted her chin as if she was trying to see the face that belonged to the sound. Her right hand stretched out and didn't even need to feel around the air. It was as if she could see precisely where his draconic limb was. Her fingertips quickly found his palm and slid across the scales before she rose to her full height and placed her left hand beneath his to cradle his knuckles in her palm. Her right hand lifted and away from his before she touched her index finger to his palm. 

Her given name gave her pause, and she lifted her chin again, lips parted in wonder. Kimiko. No noise came out, but eventually, her lips closed and upturned into a kind smile. It sounded so familiar and gave her such a sense of fulfillment that she stood still for a long moment before moving again. Finally, lowering her chin again, the mute drew a single character in his palm. 

To see. 

Then she waited. The voice that was ever present cooed in her ear, and she smiled gently, more to herself than to anyone else. 

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Perhaps it would be a surprise if Nana was not Kimi in disguise, even though everything screamed it was looking to be so. What would happen? The Emperor loved the late Empress in his own way. Her erratic nature was intoxicating and willed him to the ledge with her time and time again. Surely in his own way he could not believe there was only one true love, for himself perhaps, but she wondered if hands were laid on her by another, would he feel so freely then? It was a fleeting thought but if he knew anything about her, it was that she was a witty realist. While she did not possess the nature of an mercurial spirit, she possessed a certain gravity, dragging him back down when no one else could say it. 

It seemed as though her outburst had struck something. A red string tied around his hands gripped him back to her if only for a moment. The low grumble of dragon was soft instead of the growl he had earlier. This felt more like them, seeing a grin appear on his face she was delighted to meet his eyes. The touch of his hand at the small of her back made her skin prickle, his lips greeting her own with such passion and assurance made her smirk between each kiss. Katiya felt her own control loosen a little as a porcelain hand snaked its way around his neck, ever so slightly did her thumb and index finger apply pressure. How badly she wanted to put a grip around his neck and yet she elegantly moved her hand to the back of his jaw and ear. When they released, the hand to his draconic smoothed over the scales as if daring them to pierce her. 

"Si mi ti tesantamaso." Was all she answered back, after all, she wasn't and he knew just what she meant. There was something different about how Katiya came to be and how Kimi was coming back, so to speak. This was his choice, as was she was at one point in time. 

As he stepped away and gave her knowing gaze, her eyes closing for a moment and her head almost nodding. It should have come as a surprise, but with their entire meeting she knew he would most likely name her something that reminded him of Kimi. Katiya looked to the ceiling, inhaling as he read her name aloud. The Empress made her own mental note, knowing that if it was her, she would do as she planned for Xartia. If Kimiko demanded any sway over Koji she would truly feel what kind of a monster lurked below Katiya's good graces, something she wondered if Kimi thought about long ago. The odds were already stacked neatly against her by everyone in the empire, what was adding one more name to the board. 

"Perhaps we would show her to her new quarters?" She watched as the woman seemed to be drawing something in Koji's palm. There was a moment of silence as she waited to see what he would do or say. 

The Empress merely looked at the servants near by, two bowed out and left to seek preparations. 

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For the briefest moment, Katiya could see the glint of a smile, yet only in his eyes. A knowing gaze indeed. While it showed positive reception of her message, it failed to taunt any of his personal bias in the matter. No matter how good an impostor, there was no replacing Kimi. It was sweet how this girl was a great echo in her image, though that's all there was to it; Or so it seemed. Patience was afforded to her, in which she seemed to find his hand with greater ease than he anticipated. After taking his hand, the smile she held told him she liked her new name. That or perhaps she liked any name so long as it came from him. Curiously, she traced upon his palm simple kanji that delivered unto him no immediate meaning. Simultaneously, Katiya made a great suggestion. While he could just as easily have someone escort her to the pagoda in which her new sister's occupied, perhaps it was better to deliver her personally. 


"Perhaps we would show her to her new quarters?"

"It would be wise. Who better than to deliver her to her sisters?"

Relinquishing her hand, Koji stepped around and beyond her, starting at his leisure for the corridor leading out of the throne room. Out of the Emperor's pagoda altogether. It wasn't long ago that Katiya was living in just this same pagoda. Thanks to there being less than half of the Harem left, Kimiko had her choice out of a few rooms. Not that she could see them. Assuredly, Koji sought to deliver her to the lowest floor available to her for the sake of convenience. It wouldn't be wise to put a blind, mute woman up flights of stairs to be left unattended, especially with her feet.

"Originally the Harem possessed 6 out of 7 planned Concubines total. With your arrival as the seventh, that brings us back to three including yourself. Your sisters are Celine, and Noi. Celine had the pleasure of being the mother of my first child, Kaori, shortly before the Prince Akui was born. Noi is currently with child, I feel it will be another boy. What do you think?"

He questioned Katiya as he slightly turn his head so that he might look at her beside him as they walked. As custom dictated, Kimiko was to remain a step behind. A lesson she'd learn upon failing to realize this sooner. As all else in the Dynasty, she was able to be subjected to learning through trial and error. Granted, she at least carried the privilege of being one of the Emperor's wives. He didn't expect her to know their ways, though he was willing to see just how fast of a learner she might prove to be.

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The mute remained still for a moment. listening as the pair discussed taking her to what she assumed would be her room for the time being. Then the warmth of the Emperor's hand was gone and for the briefest moment, she felt anxiety seize her heart. It was gone as quickly as it came and the mute turned as if to follow Koji with her eyes, though she could see nothing. Even though the anxiety was gone, Kimiko wondered how she would follow with none to guide her. Her thoughts then strayed to the voice that led her here and she wondered if maybe, just maybe, she would return to save her the embarrassment of fumbling along behind the Emperor and Empress. 

She waited a moment, listening to the many voices that were a cacophony in her mind, trying to single out her voice. It was a failure so she lifted her hands and groped at the air in front of her. She followed behind, using Koji's voice as a beacon. Before even exiting the room, she slammed her shoulder into the siding of the door. No noise was rendered from her and she merely winced and kept going. 

The words Koji spoke were lost on her as she remained focused on following the couple blindly down the halls. She feared to touch the wall to use it as a guide. What if there were decorations and she knocked something over? She would be thrown out and left with no one to care for her. It was not something she was willing to risk, so instead, she tried to walk in a straight line, her fingers felt around her to avoid bumping into anything. 

After a moment, Koji's voice faded. It only took a second, Kimiko's pace quickened wondering if she had fallen behind. It wasn't so. 

Her petite form collided against Katiya's back before the Empress would even be given the chance to respond to Koji. Kimiko tripped and unfortunately, clung to the Empress as she felt herself loose balance. 

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Katiya watched as Koji started to leave the girl mostly to her own devices. Some of her wondered about the move to do so, was he testing her? Did he wonder if she was really incapable of supporting herself? Or was it his ignorance to her conditions? Could it have been his willingness to show Katiya that the woman, while looking like Kimiko, did not possess him? Ever the case, she was curious herself, while she didn't look back she could hear stumbling every now and then, it wasn't long before her mind had been made up about Kimiko's capabilities. Perhaps over time she would gain some of her own way of navigating, she had to guess by the girl's determination that her elegance might return in other ways. The Empress made a note that a servant would need to be assigned to her until she did find her footing. They passed the elegant hallways of the palace, something the blind woman would not be able to enjoy. Though she could hear the sounds of open air, birds chirping, water trickling between rocks from the gardens, the sweet scent of spring drifting in to summer, and a breeze caressing her porcelain face. At least from that, Kimiko could paint a picture for herself as to what kind of place she was about to call home.

Koji had began speaking about Kimiko's role as a concubine as well as who she would be rooming with. His face turned to ask her a question about Noi's child, just as she was about to answer she was cut painfully short. Normally it would be difficult to hold balance with the amount of robes she found herself in, yet Katiya stiffened upon Kimiko's impact. The vampire could feel her hands cling to her robes as if to find any amount of stability not to hit the cold marbled floor. In doing so, the Empress could feel the robes become much heavier and they began to slink away from their proper place, pulling them back and opening her collar ever so slightly.

Servants far behind them lifted their hands to gasp while no one was looking, guards took pause at the scene. Katiya's eyes widened ever so slightly, "We will have to work on your elegance, Kimiko."

Her head turned to the side of her right shoulder, looking downward at the possibly petrified woman. A small grin began to form, a pivotal moment for the Empress to show both humility and authority. Katiya reached to touch Kimiko's wrist, putting enough pressure to assure the woman to let go. When she did, if she did, she carefully turned to face the new concubine. Taking in what features she could of the late empress, she reached her free left hand to Kimiko's face with patience. 

Katiya's hands were like ice, yet soft as a silk scarf as they carefully went down Kimiko's cheek to her soft lips. Most would think a vampire smelled of death and iron, yet Katiya smelled of bergamot and tea leaves, something she found relaxed the servants around her. After all, she could only be so forgiving until one or two went missing and Koji would simply turn his head the other way.

"Truly uncanny, as if you were a sculpted piece of artwork." She murmured to Kimiko, her voice low and analytical. It wasn't long before Kimiko would feel another set of hands on her, this time she would hear rushed footsteps first. Quickly a servant bowed and transferred Kimiko's hand to her own, she would feel the warmth in her hand return as the woman was clearly alive. The coolness in Kimiko's face fading away just as Katiya intended. It left the Empress to adjust herself accordingly and turn to Koji, without skipping a beat she finally answered him.

"I would have to agree, an old wives tale I read about suggested the way a woman's stomach is shaped. Either way, I can only assume the child will have a fighting spirit like it's mother." They continued to walk, the servant stopped Kimiko and kept her in place, just behind them as Koji had expected. There would be no error in where she was supposed to be, as well some guidance around before she truly gained her footing.


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