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Akako Akari

Hanami - Flower Festival [OPEN]

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Kalmuli collected a few more petals in her hair and on her clothes the more she sat under the trees, getting up and shaking it off of her clothes though there was no helping the ones that had nested themselves there.  With her hair as long as it was and neglected as it was, trying to untangle the petals would have taken all day. She rose from the bench to wander around the festival a little while longer.  As much as she liked the eastern style of clothes, they were tight and the shoes themselves chaffed her feet even through the split toe socks. She had to stop, tugging at the fabric between them a little to make a little bit of a barrier. She gave it a little bit of a wiggle and would move on. There was a variety of festival fare being sold, including lots of food she was familiar with from her own travels and some of the vendors sold masks or pinwheels. Kalmuli would stop at one, browsing through. 

'A mask for the pretty lady?' The vendor asked, getting up from his squat position on a crate.  

"Mmm...Maybe. How much is the mask with the fuzzy ears?"She asked.

'Three kites...but for four I'll include the matching fan.' He offered, Kalmuli rubbing her chin.

"Deal. I'll take five with the fans too."She said, fishing for her coin purse and passing him the payment. He pulled down the white cat mask that had little bits of faux fur in the ears for fluff and tassels that tied around with little bells. She slipped it on, the vendor passing her the fan that had a matching pattern on the mask. It would be a nice little souvenir of the festival for the Valkyries and a way to blend in while she was there.  An elf among demons just looked like a demon with the same shape of her ears...not to mention with her temper lately, she would have been considered pretty close. Kalmuli stopped by another stall to pick up the pink specialty mousse and sidestepped to the next for some hot green tea to sit with. 

'I'm starting to feel better already...I was probably due for a vacation anyway. I haven't really taken a break.' She thought, scooping a bit of mousse up with the little wooden spoon they provided. Kalmuli looked on at the people milling about, people watching as they paid her no mind. There were a few odd glances, some from those who had either neither seen an elf before or had never specifically seen her around before.  'I should pay my respects to Akako sometime soon...She's regent of this area right? Last I checked...granted the number of demons in this area would be a sign.'

A kitsune walking on two legs strolled by her with little kit children tagging along. 'And all the bipedal foxes...'

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Yes, the bipedal foxes; they all stared at the two quasi-hexapedal radar foxes. The mother with her kits finally made Nadia snap, and through the RF converter box around her neck, Nadia glared right at that kitsune mom and asked, "the fuck are you lookin' at?" The entire group nervously shuffles off as Nadia continues to glare the group down.

Meanwhile, Aveline picked out fifteen vibrant, inticately-patterned obi and pulls out some Renovatian gem coin to pay, much to the jorogumo's surprise.

"I honestly thought my appearance would startle you more," the jorogumo says, staying in spider-hybrid form.

"Once ya face down a rampaging hydra," Aveline says, referring to her sudden entrance into Taen, "the list of shit that scares ya gets reeeeeally fuckin' small."

Once the transaction is complete and Aveline gets her change in kites (or whatever the local currency is), the jorogumo starts questioning others around her as to what a "hydra" is.

Edited by notmuch_23
fat fongers on tiny phone jeyboard

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Boots shuffled upon the flowers which were crushed underfoot, one hand rested upon the hilt of his kbar while the other placed a toothpick between his lips. Crimson optics reflected the festivities as the boy simply decided to lose himself among the people. There was no particular reason for Xavier to honestly be there, yet he could not shake the feeling this was the place to be honestly. The youth wore a simple tux suit that made him slightly stick out to those who wore more traditional dress for their location. The bystander was simply there to enjoy the festival, after all, he had nothing to really hold onto since his teacher left and he himself had left Kadia. Besides the adorable doctor who helped amplify his abilities, Xavier kept to himself while here tinkering with the weapon on his hip. From within his jacket, a small orb floated about scanning the crowd. Running a hand through his hair it was no longer messy but well kept and cut low to give him a more professional look despite his short stature. Moving forward through the crowd Halvar watched the results through the contacts in his eyes, 'Nothing out of the ordinary really. Perhaps I was wrong??' His thoughts roamed before the AI picked up something unordinary. Disbelief rolled through the lad's chest as the AI picked up the traces of someone he long since believed to be dead. Then again it was his foolishness that led him to keep believing that Soap could die. From his own personal database, the facial and structural matched perfectly.  Holding himself back he watched the three people get the memory wipe in mere seconds before Soap once more moved into the crowd. "I'll be damned.." He thought to himself while ceasing his meaningless wandering to keep up. @Armada

There was silence as violet hues observed the grounds around Koji's gathering. It was not uncommon for Ydris to travel from lands outside of Renovatio; however,  it was rare that the man traveled in a pack. Few here had gotten to meet him, but he had seen just about every single one of the crew here besides Ozu. The Renovatian accent in one of Koji's most trusted Concubines made him smile beneath the face mask which covered from his nose down from ear to ear. That left his violet hues and large horns to sit in the open while his salt and pepper dreadlocks were wrapped together in a large ponytail. Its length stopped at the lower section of his back and swayed as he paced behind the seemingly seated crew. The next was a Kadian soldier of immense strength that he admired greatly, perhaps one day he should ask to cross blades for a learning experience. Metal crunched into flower petals as he ever remained fully armored beside his helmet at this time. There had been a brief exchange of words between him and the Emperor upon the Kommadants festival, the man spoke of adventure and Ydris was not one to turn such things down. "When shall we take their heads?"

@Aleksei @dvsn @Etched in Stone @Twitterpated @danzilla3

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A familiar, however, foreign presence caught his attention. From underneath the straw hat he glanced around the crowd searching for whomever the pair of eyes belonged to, while the Ajna searched methodically within the parameters of the inner and outer world, building within a three dimensional blueprint of the grounds. He would analysis this while attempting to comprehend the status (friend or foe) of those residing inside the festival and determine their threat vector and the possible methods of dealing with them. All while eliminating future prospects of being recognized.

Soap MacTavish weaved deeper into the crowd, diminishing his height slowly with each step and entered the shop of one particular vendor. The woman smiled, greeting him as he stepped forward and approached the side wall. Here, masks were offered of different varieties. He selected one. The snarling Oni was blood red, with two horns protruding from the forehead, and had narrow eyes seemingly slashed from a sword. Below the nose there were no material to conceal his mouth. But he was satisfied.

Now for the final touches.

A raised hand showed the ring made from black jade on one finger, glistening with brilliance, and etched with ancient Sanskrit in platinum. The source of his Artificer's pride, the Anvil, became alive with the Sanskrit changing from mantra to mantra and connected to the Final Rune within. From different points he drew resources needed for the specific task, weaving and knitting them together as his hand dropped down changing his attire entirely. A beautifully tailored montsuki, black, with lotus flowers stitched in gold on the sleeves and one color, over the cotton under-kimono and hakama. He carried the short spear Gin in one his dominant hand, auras of despairing cold barely visible and walked onward.

@Chappu

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WE GOT A RUNNER!!! 

@Armada


Soaps movements changed on the drop of a dime, calculated and methodical. Xavier was not surprised about what was taking place, the swift denial in any future ability to scan for him followed by what he had learned while studying under him. A change of appearance and something to fit into the scene no? Wrinkling his nose he allowed his senses to now roam free from his body. An upgrade he was fond of from his ascension within his Soulseeker class, maybe even a divergence from the main path thanks to the good Doctor. When he sniffed the air he knew two things, Soaps natural scent and how to tell the difference in aura usage, after many hours of having his own face between in it was hard to forget both. Soap was a thorough teacher if not one of the best he had encountered yet; glancing around his optic vision sharpened and enhanced when focusing on the specific individual. His stride slowed only for a moment as the left hand reached into the pocket before he himself stopped before the shop of masks. First prime location to investigate for sure, stepping inside he knew he was behind but he could not help but entertain this game of cat and mouse. He might even be the mouse right now instead of the cat itself, the reality was still to be decided. 

Sniffing the air Xavier mentally pulled at the tale-tell signs of power used within the shop. It was, fortunately, the only one at this time which made him smile, not careless but calculated in the traces left behind. As his vision adjusted he held on to the single strand of energy that had recently been used within the shop. "Mmmm. Fashionable and neat as always Boss." Joy radiated through his core as he perked up with joy the corners of his eyes creased like crows feet. Handing over a bit of currency to the vendor he took pulled on a mask. It was that of a wolf covering his whole face but not enough to impede his ability to see. Stepping towards the back of the store he ducked behind the tent and adjusted his attire. Pulling out the AI bot, Xavier gave the creature the trail to follow swiftly dumping his nice clothing. Pulling through the pile up he found a pair of shorts a spare set of boots and a t-shirt. Putting them all on he found himself a bandana and placed it around his head to cover his hair. Placing the wolf mask back on his face Halvar was back on the street the Kbar was tucked away out of sight. 

Crimson optics narrowed at the iris in a vertical fashion, it was time to hunt. The mix of smells prevented a clean sniff of Soap but he wasn't wrong on who it was. His steps were light as he himself blended into the crowd nicely, after all, he hadn't exactly grown much besides reaching the 5' range. Keeping his posture relaxed and less regimented Xavier allowed himself to follow the strand to the center of folds. Looking up as he should have he was constantly being updated on the AI's distance as it floated on the outskirts of the crowd and away from people. It blended well with many of the other objects that hung from buildings and vendors. 'Some many people, what if we lost him?' 

'Don't speak like that Cortana, we will find him.' The mental conversation remained unheard and secured from prying ears. Slowly but surely Halvar pushed his intent out from his core. He had but one intent at this festival now, to reconnect with the teacher and figure out the rest from there. Perhaps someone or something might pick it up and help out or Soap might even register it. Who knew.

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On any given occasion such as this one, the Heika would have preferred to have Kenshinobu along. Unfortunately, as the nation grew even larger, so did his responsibility to it as the General of the Imperial Army. Instead he sent along one of his kin, a gifted student whom Kenshi thought ready to accompany the Emperor himself on such an important, and dangerous mission. While he knew little of Ozu, and had no trust to afford the boy, he trusted Kenshi. If Kenshi put faith behind the boy, Koji respected said faith.  As if any of his companions were lacking in ability, not to mention himself. He could only hope that the pup would survive to return to his home, his family.

“Please allow me to stay close by your side during our tenure here...” Evaristus spoke just after the Emperor made his declaration. “The only sword I believe in is my own.”

The Emperor acknowledged Evaristus with nothing more than his red plum gaze, half lidded in a lethargic fashion. His visage lingered on the former sword of Kadia as he approached Ozu, as well as his dearest Celine. If public knowledge of Evaristus' involvement with kidnapping Celine and Noi several months ago, then his current allegiance could be nothing more than a pipe dream. Thanks to the fragile secrecy around the Royal family and their affairs however, he was spared from holding a grudge against the man, Dynasty and reputation considered or not. Never would he talk bad about a man that follows orders, for Koji himself could always use another one like him. Ultimately, his saving grace was Celine's mild reaction to having him about in the first place. If he made her feel uncomfortable enough, or if he had particularly caused her grief, then he wouldn't be here.

Celine carried on about her homes traditions, entertaining herself as much as her audience as she often did. Internally, he smiled, though his face refused to harbor any indication of emotion for the moment. It wasn't until his gaze found his Empress once more that his lips curled into a smile, akin to the one she had produced herself. He could feel her, he knew what she was thinking. What she wanted. She'd been patiently waiting for this moment for a couple years, hoping the day would come soon that she would have her revenge for being made the fool of. Immortal creatures could hold a grudge like no other, for they literally had all the time in the world. Striding up beside her, his Draconic, right, arm wrapped around her, his lurid talons wrapping about the delicate fabrics layered over her waist.

"Nomagqe ti naeck sia itov, shar soon. zi soon."

He spoke lowly, only to her. Not to say nobody else heard him or that he cared if they did, though he was only speaking to her. Squeezing her ever so slightly, he planted a kiss to the side of her head before pressing his own against it.

"Si inglata."

Begrudgingly, he relinquished his hold on her, turning to face the rest of his party once more. There was only a handful of them, though he was certain that their handful was formidable enough to ensure their survival. While he held no concerns for himself or his Empress, the fact that they were both present warranted the company of some protection. Celine has demonstrated prior that she works well in tandem to her Lord, her company alone was rather invaluable. The two swordsman, while leagues apart in many ways were both assuredly capable, willing, and ready. Defaulting his face once more, he addressed them all, 

"It's time we made our appearance. Come, stand close to me."

The natural shadows cast all around him within a ten foot radius, including his own, grew darker that usual. In unison they began to shift and expand, creating a patch of darkness beneath him that consumed every inch of the ground beneath his feet. The plant life beneath the black mass undoubtedly shriveled and died, in which the area shall remain marked by a barren scar in the midst of the beauty this season brought the region. Once they all gathered within his circle, the Heika allowed the animate shadow to consume them before Koji's affect diminished. Into the plane of shadow they went, out of the plane of shadow they would come.

@dvsn @Aleksei @Etched in Stone @Chappu @Dreamer

 

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Kalmuli noticed two men that seemed to be dodging around each other, sitting with the mousse spoon in her mouth to finish the last of it. She would watch from her spot, pulling the spoon out and setting it inside the empty cup. Stacking her trash, she deposited it in the trash and gathered the souvenirs. A festival, it seemed, was a good place to hide.  With the look of some of the faces, this would be the first place hunters would look.

Continuing down the path, there were a few activities she spotted that she wanted to try. There was a goldfish game she had seen before and when she knelt down, she watched them swim around undisturbed. 'Would you like to play?' The gamemaster asked.

Kalmuli looked up. "I'm afraid it wouldn't live very long. I'll be in the area for a while and it's a long trip home."She said, rising. 

'Hai, but it would be good company for a lonely traveler.'

He had a point. 

Kalmuli would kneel down again. "How much to play?"She asked.

'Five bronze for five chances.'He said, Kalmuli passing him the payment. She received a bowl and a thin rice paper hoop. She would watch a few others play before deciding to make her move. With the first attempt, she managed to get it but the wet rice paper tore quickly. 'Hehe, it's not easy is it?'

"I've got four more chances," Kalmuli muttered, accepting the next hoop. 

Another hoop ripped.

"Three more."

By the end of her chances, she managed to get three of them with the last of the three hoops. She would pass the bowl along to the gamemaster who would bag them with water, passing them along with a neat little ribbon around the top. Kalmuli stood with her prize, feeling a little satisfied. At least she wouldn't be alone...she'd have to give them names as well as a nice little fishbowl when she was back in town.

Though now she was out of five bronze and she now had three fish to take care of. Kalmuli huffed. "Can't say I didn't walk into that one...I guess I'll just have to name you for now..."She said, poking the bag. "Gin...Kin...Kuro..."

 

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A lesson in fundamentals needed to be learned. The student had learned his mistakes and improved drastically during Soap's absence, becoming more flexible in his mindset and abilities to the point of being somewhat competent. However, Halvor needed to suckle his mother's tit for another four decades before he could be called a threat. Guess the lesson can continue from last year. He only hoped the pupil could handle the manhandling as his cherry get popped.
Since Halvor decided to eyeball his goodies (my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard!) instead of being proactive, he provided the Artificer more than enough time to analyze the situation and determine a solution to the problem. His Ajna continued to build, opening his third eye completely, and made the two-dimensional blueprint in his mind accurate, updating with real-time information. His decision for precaution, his actions paused and stagnant, would create a small crack in Halvor's confidence once Soap completed the lesson. Underneath the Oni mask, he scanned the crowd noticing patterns and habits of those around him. Information feeding his mind nurtured the decision which arrived promptly, nourished by hardened combat instincts. The first lesson began with blinding the opponent, effectively cutting him off from essential information like a crackhead seeking help, which determined life and death on the battlefield.
A snapped finger. An action so simple it seemed idiotic, even childish in the eyes of professional killers. He knew there were professionals attending the festival, battle-hardened warriors who excelled in dangerous powers so fierce even the Gods above dared not to depart the clouds. Soap used to be one. However, he had learned over time that simple, basic, and yes, even idiotic appearing actions were more functional than overwhelming abilities. When Soap MacTavish snapped his finger while moving forward, the presence of Halvor would be met with resistance from an equal and opposing force that rippled from the point of contact he made, causing it to amplify and rebound. The presence came from Halvor’s focus on his target which his new abilities had ‘amped up’ and would essentially cause him to become blind because of the wave of nausea it caused. Upon contact with Halvor, the ripple itself would strike between the eyes of his wolf mask after feinting a strike to the right shoulder, completing the first form of the divine spear technique.
Hope you paid attention to our training, kid.”

(I advise being very careful here.) @Chappu

Edited by Armada
Forgot to mention Chapp

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Well-placed, indeed.

For all his effort (or the lack thereof), Rafael was more devil than angel, more sinner than saint, and those he loved and collected were often made to shoulder the burden of such an unfortunate truth. Zenahriel, magnificent and deific as he was, was no exception to this rule. But the High Lord had proven himself far more resilient—loyal—than the other poor souls occupying his lover’s attention, and so his trials and tribulations were rewarded with tenderness, these sweet moments when all the affairs of Church and State were set aside, and they were allowed to simply exist.

At the raven’s mention of a gift, Rafael’s lips curved into a slight frown behind the blackness of his beard. “Is an introduction to a High Lord of Genesaris not gift enough?” Like all the other immigrants that found themselves washed up on the shores of Valucre’s realm, himself included, their past lives—triumphs, failures, power, and status—meant nothing. “There are kings and queens of this realm, borne of founding bloodlines, that have still yet to even glimpse your face. You underestimate the value of your own existence, darling.” It was no matter of opinion, either.

While some might have considered Zenahriel’s humility one of his greatest assets, of which Rafael was sometimes inclined to agree, the elder vampyre had also seen it become detrimental to his well-being. But, not wanting to sour their time together, the elder vampyre raised a hand in surrender. There would be time to discuss the pros and cons of their personalities later, or in the centuries that followed—eternity was rather long, after all.

However, if it will make you feel like a better guest, yes, let’s find her a gift.” Rafael harbored serious doubts they would find anything of real worth here in the stalls, but perhaps. It would be an entertaining process, at least. “You have a better eye for jewels than me, dear,” the vampyre spoke from over the High Lord’s shoulder. “A necklace, perhaps? Something that she can wear proudly and that also complements her exotic beauty.” Thinking to their last encounter, he remembered how gorgeous the demoness was, and then, what a shame it was he’d not yet been able to request she let him paint her.

She’d make a lovely addition to my—

Rafael’s attention drifted beyond the festivities, beyond the port, called by the impending arrival of his realm’s newest guests. It was an essence he hadn’t forgotten from Southern Wedding, a stench of the abyss that made even the Devil’s foul aroma of hellfire and brimstone seem floral in comparison. The little troublemaker shows himself—but, perhaps he would behave himself, as he’d done in the Imperial South, and give no cause for a scene? Jealous as Zenahriel could be, he was infinitely more wrathful—and ruining an outing with his lover could prove fatal for even the most entitled of self-fashioned Emperors.

“I love what you’ve done with your wings,” Rafael said, smiling as his fingers danced along the length of several pinions. “This color suits you.”

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The ticking in the back of his mind, made Halvar pay very close attention, his left hand slipping free of its pocket. Corvinus influence washed over him pouring anti magic strength into his body. As he watched the line he saw the flux of magic rushing towards him. The energy levels threatened to overwhelm him, yet with a bold upward cut of his hand the anti magic of the Corvinus influence cut the rippling over flow of energy in a single cut.

The released anti magic did not stop there, it followed the source of the attack. Eating away the magic trail left behind by the ring closing in on Soaps location. Keeping the influence flowing through his body it began covering his body and clothing in layers. After a fifth layer a sixth took place before shredding itself to threaded tendrils.

When the anti magic hits the ring it’s ability to function would be cancelled out for the duration till Halvar released the influence. 

@ShogiJesus

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Young, yet seasoned.

This was true, the 16 year old Okami was a 1st Division member of  Akatsukizukyo among the ranks of his ichizoku Clan. Those innocent whites masked the true visage of the boyish one that spoke beyond the misleading eyes. A calculative figure, an elite Shugenja Bladeslayer. Yet, the yoki dwelling within his spirit told the power this teenage Yokai boy possessed. As he bit into the lower lip with a fanged uncanny tooth that would cause a trickle of blood to roll down the corner of his mouth, clenching the tsuba on the faithful blade more firmly he could only dream to hope that today, perhaps someone from these foreign lands was foolish enough to give way to some type of battle against the talented Moromichi. He adorned himself comfortably in silver and white silks this afternoon, a piece of cloth from his summer robe had tied itself in a lazy knot around his unkempt ponytail, his almond brown eyes glanced up at the ghost-haired swordsman in the ivory garments kneeling besides him with slight interest. Rather, his impression of the man was a brash one - but, he did have the right to feel he was enough to protect the Heika. So did everyone else bearing weapons. A man of great experience, no doubt. Though even in Ozu's brief acquaintance of him, he would know the Emperor had vouched in his services. Hence, along with the several others that accompanied. Fresh out in the open fields, he found himself shade underneath the canopy of a Sakura tree just before, Evaristus had seemingly appeared down and at his side. While enjoying what little relief was provided from the veil of the Spring sun, he shut his eyes once to concentrate on the area about them, feeling for more than what met the eyes of the behemoth swordsman. It was his Wolf instinct to discern his truths from falsities, intentions and so forth. Natural predatory senses benefited him well because of this, sniffing out the bullshit in any one and separating it from whom they really were. 

"I don't need you to hover me, every where I walk …. Unless, there is something I can assist with?"

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Even in his tenseness of having to deal with a constant shadow following your every move that had Ozu become irritated at the fact, he felt like he was being supervised and for what? This mug threw down and held his own weight. He didn't need a big brother figure, or an extra uncle …. So, he voiced an opinion and let his mouth be heard. The beast within him did not ever hold back it's retaliating words, but for now it remained soothed by the concubine and her mystifying presence. Celine had pretty much entertained herself with the pup’s attention all the way to the Carmine region. Her company was appreciated more than any of the others whom tagged with the entourage there. As she spoke of Renovatio painting an image of the Spring celebration her words, were up lifting to his yokai spirit so-to-say. She never held a dull moment and even in the short while he's known her, she'd sweeten any spiced soul with her air and grace. A true optimist in which, the boy Swordslayer could not help but relinquish his former reserves against Evaristus to lighten his mood for the sake of the man and the wondrous, Celine intriguing him of her homeland. Truth be told, it was the demon within him he could not often control; the Ookami Okoto curse; the twisted representation of his soft, playful natures. He admired her, not only because her beauty was beyond natural grace (the boy might have been seasoned in battle, but he was not experienced when it came to the opposite sex), no but because she was within the harem and no matter how the Emperor felt about Katiya his new Empress even the Blind Soke Kenshi knew she was perhaps more special than herself. The lord however, could not make himself two wives, Ozu was still very much unsure as to why the Vampress was selected over the latter. It was definitely one of those moments, when what you wanted wasn’t necessarily the thing that was best. Or perhaps, it was the fact he had yet any time to converse with the woman personally other than seeing her at the celebration back home to even get an understanding of whom in fact she was as an empress, and individual amongst the Imperial Nation.

"Just one day, maybe. You can take me to see those manabi'wok?"

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Ozu stood in preparedness at the command of the Heika no more than maybe, ten meters away from his majestic lord. Standing around pointlessly as it seemed, though he knew better than to doubt the Emperor and his judgements. Yet as Chijono spoke of finally entering the City, he knew well that it was time to depart and just in time peaking over the eastern horizon it would seem a pack of three artic wolves acquired from the forgotten city of Cobran had arrived as reinforcements. These dire wolves had extraordinary build and stature weighing in over two-hundred pounds with fur as white as snow that on their four limbs, easily standing to a height of Fifty inches. Since Kenshi's acquisition of the Three-hundred, they served as protectors and watchdogs alongside the Okami clan back in Jigoku. These fearsome creatures were unbreakable in spirit and their entire loyalty lied with the Imperial Nation. Soon, before the group had vanished into the Plane of Shadow under Chijono's influence the Cobran wolves closed the distance as the Alpha took a squat on his hind legs at Ozu's side, eyeing the white-haired swordsman for the first time. One of them nudged their muzzle coyfully against the fabrics of Celine's blouse obviously familiar with the concubine and her relationship to the Empire. Oddly enough, she was no longer baring child in womb as it would recall in their last encounter. The other trotted it's way towards Chijono and the Empress rather to greet and take a kneel beside them, but not before it circled the entourage and took a good sniff of the company they was keeping. Any strains in the heartbeat, or if they were too suspicious acting, even though these were members of the Nation that did not necessarily ease the wolves into trusting them just because. No. This was their job. Spotting out the rats, the snakes, or any bad apples of the matter. One thing was for certain though, it was time to enter the city.

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Edited by Etched in Stone

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The issue the child presented couldn't be solved by education alone considering the cost and time required. There was something else wrong with the infrastructure of their economy that would likely take time to resolve. Wages for unskilled jobs didn't seem to be enough to maintain a family, which was unfortunate. The demoness also didn't want to overwhelm her citizens with a substantial increase in taxes to those more profitable in her city. Perhaps the formation of a council to discuss these issues would be beneficial to have more minds and opinions come together to solve the problems to better the lives of her citizens. The vixen was cautious because she had lived several millennia and witnessed a multitude of governing bodies struggle with the same issue.

Her musings were banished temporarily as a group of emissaries from Alethea approached and introduced themselves. Thinking back, she recalled that Alethea was under Raveena's jurisdiction, someone that was a comrade once upon a time. Memories of the past surfaced for a blink before her focus narrowed on Dorian who was speaking. Human from his scent and without ill-will. His scent was bright and crisp, someone with honor. To this, she smiled. Lifting her hand, her fingers motioned for her staff to approach. Several yokai of various species came at their Lady's command holding empty trays to accept the gifts on her behalf.

Akako let her eyes sweep over Raz-Nagore's horn before a female attendant stepped forward with her tray to accept the gift. Her long, stick straight, black hair was tied back at the nape of her neck, and she wore a light grey kimono with the Akari house symbol etched on her left shoulder in black. Dark violet scales glimmered prettily on her forehead and cheekbones, and her eyes were the color of peridot gems. Upon receiving the gift, the girl bent her knees and bowed her head to Dorian before stepping back.

"Caelum's military forces aren't grand; however, we will offer you aid in time of war and refuge to your citizens. Hopefully, there will never be a day that we must rely on these promises." Akako spoke solemnly then nodded at Dorian before he returned to his group.

The next to approach was a female minotaur who offered an unusual gift that Akako considered carefully. She could undoubtedly appreciate the meaning, probably more than most as complex as her life seemed to be. Another one of Akako's attendants stepped forward, a tray in his hands. He was tall and lean. His skin looked to be a strange texture, almost as if it was bark and his hair was a dark green that fell down his shoulders and was dreaded. He looked almost like a willow tree personified. As the gift was given, he too, stepped back into line with the others.

"This One appreciates your thoughtfulness. I will cherish it." With a nod, Morningside then returned to her group.

Next, was a woman that looked near human, but her markings gave her away to be anything but human. A necklace was offered, and Akako listened as Selesia spoke before smiling and nodding her thanks silently. The attendant that approached this time was a man that was shorter than the last with dark brown hair that was pulled up into a bun at the back of his head that showed his pointed ears. His eyes were an icy blue color and skin bronzed. He accepted the gift on Akako's behalf before returning to the others.

The daiyokai's brow rose as an overzealous Squelk approached. She watched him and the way his fur moved as he spoke excitedly. When he presented his gift, it took every amount of effort to school her expression into one of gratitude. A small woman with blond hair and round black eyes approached. Where a human would have ears, what looked like fins were in their place, orange, and black, which matched the scales that trailed down the sides of her neck. She accepted the gift and quickly shuffled back to the line of attendants.

She nodded to Squelk then turned her attention to the Blood Talon. Amusement lit her features as she watched him grope at his pockets fruitlessly. The interaction with the Dragonborn gave her an idea of what might have occurred, and she watched on in amusement even as her nose discreetly scented the air to memorize each scent. She could smell Blood Talon's mortification, and she did little to refrain the curl of her lips.

"Your well-wishes are appreciated. This One will strive not to disappoint." Akako offered in hopes to mollify the feathered emissary.

The dragon then approached, and the vixen eyed his gift with curiosity. It could be useful, but she was incredibly careful. She wouldn't use it or dare to keep it anywhere she could have crucial conversations until she could ascertain if they would or wouldn't have access to the discussions as well.  Another attendant appeared to take the gift though she looked mostly human except for hooven feet and her eyes. She had auburn hair and light brown eyes with horizontal pupils.  The attendant bowed politely then returned to fall in line next to her colleagues.

"A useful gift, many thanks," Akako spoke with a nod of her head.

The last of the group approached with no tangible gift; however, depending on what precisely this nest he suggested meant, it could be the most valuable of the offerings. The kitsune's brows furrowed, her tails swaying as she considered the Antec for a long moment. "This One would like to discuss in more detail. If you are planning on staying the night in my port, we can reconvene tomorrow morning at the Capital to discuss in detail." Akako then looked over her shoulder to Xartia. "This One would like to request your presence as well if you can afford it, Xartia." Although she did not doubt that he would jump at any excuse to stay the night.

Looking back to Alethea's diplomats, Akako nodded her head once again. "This One is grateful for your presence and to meet all of you." The vixen hadn't decided on how to introduce Khaliq, and part of her was concerned that introducing him would possibly draw too much attention. Though, he would always be in the limelight given that he was a Prince. With that, Akako continued to introduce both the man and child in her presence as her attendants retreated into Akako's estate to put her gifts away.

"Allow This One to introduce my companions. This is Lord Xartia Raye Pendragon the First, an esteemed colleague of mine." The motioned to Xartia as she spoke, then she looked to Khaliq and motioned for him to approach her side before looking back to the envoy.

"This is Kairos Halcyon Yusuke, Prince of the Scarlet Region. His mother regrets not being here today, so she permitted he come to observe appropriate manners during events such as this one. It is never too early to teach our successors." With that, she offered the group another polite smile.

"Please, take time to enjoy the city and everything it has to offer. We have a few hours before the performances begin."

@Twitterpated @Grubbistch

Edited by Akako Akari

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They came from the shadows that splayed as the day wore on. From the shrubs and trees, under quaint wooden bridges. The air’s temperature dropped a few degrees as a pair of large white wolves stalked into the open, their wary, intelligent eyes searching—their heads dipped low. An unfortunate gust of wind knocked a child over, a yōkai giggling at the sight until it too had been knocked over rambunctiously. A troop of impish Spriggans danced nimbly out of hiding, trailing at the wolves’ heels.

It was an interesting clash of culture—a strange mix of magic and demonology; Yōkai and the Unseelie were threads of the same tapestry yet woven differently. They came for their Queen, who felt the nausea splash along her like a cresting wave. It was something she had nearly forgotten—and yet, couldn’t forget the moment it hit her. Your auxiliary security detail is here, young queen. Jesta’ dryly announced. Her tail flicked irritably. She was an ancient creature, but a magical one. The air was permeated with an uncomfortable essence. Or perhaps it was the lack of one—which made better sense in the mind than to speak out loud. The anti-magic-like feeling made Jesta’ less than appeased.

89a00d22c7.jpgThe white wolves bowed in a way that only animals could, with a strange sentience that was unbecoming of animals. Jesta’ was a rare exception, for only the truly advanced and gifted could see her. It made her comfortable with insulting those around them. Closer now, Raveena could see the fur of the wolves was hardly fur at all—but thin needles of ice and snow. They nearly came to her chest at full height—and though she was petite—they were not.

One wolf took a long, hard look at Jesta’, who sprawled comfortably at the end of the table and bench. He says he does not understand his King’s decision to swear fealty to the Sun, but they have come to you to Ældra if trouble arises.

“Escort me? Why do you hear them, but I don't?” Raveena looked down at the Spriggans. They were far more dangerous than the wolves, this she knew. Though they peered shyly from between the wolves legs like impish children, she had seen their devastating power in action and was secretly thankful for their presence.

Because you’re not listening. The Daemon replied crisply with disdain.

Though one wolf’s gaze focused on the disruptive behavior, the one that stared at Jesta' now turned his eyes on Raveena. They exchanged a moment of silence and—despite the brewing trouble not far from them—she nodded and swallowed her nausea before speaking with some measure of conviction, “Flesh still burns in the winter, because the sun wills it.” There was a long pause of silence before Jesta’s voice floated into her mind again.

He says he may have underestimated his King’s decision after all.

The corners of her lips twitched into a faint smile. She thought—for a moment—she could hear the soft cracking of ice, a sigh of cold air, a faint wintry voice that was alien, cruel and beautiful all at once.

She could tell from the way her retinue hovered close to her—and each other—that they were intrigued and equally terrified of these creatures—as well they should. Even the sun could be eclipsed and shrouded in darkness. She ruled two sides of the same coin; her life was becoming a strange duality.

The UnSeelie were ruthless, cunning and deadly. Her attendants had every right to be afraid.

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"That is acceptable." The Antec stated. "This one will remain in Port Caelum until a suitable agreement can be reached between us. Thank you for your time." 

"With our business concluded, we shall take part in these festivities and enjoy your hospitality." Dorian said with a bow. "Long live the Emperor."

"Long live the Emperor." The others said, departing to partake in their own vices, finally able to split apart, and perhaps properly behave within the port city now that they weren't so close. With their mission completed, they were satisfied that they had proven their ability to not only act in a united front, but to also do so while keeping the honor of their Royal Rulers intact. 

The fear of death via tyrant had a way of bringing opponents together when put in a position to work side by side. 

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Kalmuli had made it nearly to Akako's residents when she heard giggling. Her ear perked, making her look over to the trees to see a mother jorogumo and a small child playing amongst them. The child had managed to make it up into the tree though the larger female looked a little worried. Kalmuli would approach just to watch the interaction but her mouth opened to make a comment. "They're very rambunctious at that age."She commented, startling the mother a little.

"Yes...especially little jorogumos. They want to climb on everything and leave their webs everywhere."She said as she managed to coax the child down though the little girl wiggled herself free and ran over to Kalmuli.

"Hi!"

"H-Hello..."Kalmuli said, kneeling down as much as she could. "What's your name?"

"Minako-gumo!"The little spider girl said enthusiastically. 

"It's just Minako..."The mother said a little exasperated. The jorogumo woman sat under the trees, taking out a little hand fan to cool herself off a little from running around. Kalmuli would take the little girl's hand, walking her back over to join her mother. 

"Well, Minako-gumo..." Kalmuli said, playing a long with the little girl. "It looks like you've tired your Mommy out. Shall we sit with her for a little bit and keep her company?"

"Okay!"

The little girl's enthusiasm was contagious and Kalmuli found herself smiling until it almost hurt. She would sit under the trees with the two locals, setting down her bag of masks and the little bag of fish. She would take her own fan, using it to cool off while the little girl sat next to her, playing with her hair. "I'm Kalmuli."She introduced herself.

"Junkou."The larger spider demon responded. "Thank you...I've been chasing her around for hours now."

"I have been there too...a long time ago, I had many children. A lot of them as high energy as her but they all got that from me."She laughed a little nervously before feeling a yank on her hair, grunting a bit. "Be careful, I don't have a tough scalp."

"Mama, can I have the comb?"Minako asked, Junko fishing out a beautiful turtle shell comb that the child took, going back to Kalmuli and sitting behind her, brushing it.  Kalmuli didn't mind...getting her hair brushed was a pleasurable experience and not to mention, it had been sorely neglected. She would remove the mask and Junko let out a little gasp.

"You look so exhausted..."Junko mentioned.

Kalmuli looked away. Her eyes had bags and dark circles with the whites of her eyes pink and sore looking. She covered them, her lips quivering. Junko moved, shifting all of her legs and gently patting her head. "Do you want to talk about it?"She offered, Kalmuli looking up with tears in her eyes. Her head bobbed in a solemn nod. 

After nearly a half an hour of talking, sobbing and trying to control all the emotions that were spilling over, Kalmuli had poured out the story of what had happened. Someone she had loved so much had been withering before her eyes...A mentor, a lover, a constant companion was just...disappearing. It pained her so much, especially considering that they had been planning to have a child of their own and to become a real family. A thing she had been keeping herself from having for the longest time. Something that would never happen now. Junkou let Kalmuli cry while Minako kept busy with untangling her hair as carefully as her tiny hands could. 

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