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Akako Akari

Hanami - Flower Festival | Paradox

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Aiyoku's pale lilac colored eyes averted to the falcon at her side. Jun was glaring, it was unlike her to outwardly show hatred, but today Jun's wide kind eyes were narrowed with intense loathing on the culprit that killed Akako not too long ago. Unlike Aiyoku, Jun wouldn't act on her anger, she wasn't the kind to react on emotion, and that was likely the reason why Akako adopted her as her second familiar. The pair were absolute opposites and made up for what the other lacked. 

Despite her bravado, concern bubbled beneath the surface as Akako stared down the child Emperor. Preventative measures had been taken of course, though no one knew aside from Akako's pair of familiars. There were safeguards in place that would minimize the impact Koji or anyone with his ability should they decide to poison the minds of the port city's populace. It wasn't a perfect thing, this defense. If Koji repeated what he had done at his wedding with her daughter, there would still be casualties. Somehow, Akako thought she'd had more time to better prepare for his imminent arrival.

It was useless to mull over it now, though. 

"Charientism does not become you, Akako-dono." A perfectly manicured brow arched upward towards her hairline as he implied that she uttered a veiled insult. Unlike his younger half-brother, Koji was not a mind reader, so he'd never really know. There was no denying that she had always called him Lucius, so perhaps it was merely an unbroken habit. Regardless, Akako would not defer to him. There was only one that she would acknowledge with such a title and fortunately for all of them, he was somewhere in Port Caelum, likely to arrive at any minute. 

It seemed as if Xartia didn't share the sentiment as he spoke to Koji, referring to the child as Emperor. The vixen wanted to glance back at the Cambion— glower at him for conceding to the one that killed her, but she didn't, her gaze remained on Koji. Was he not angry? Did he not want to lunge across the space between them and wring his neck for what he did to her? Akako internally reasoned that he probably didn't. Koji was his son after all. Maybe part of him was proud that his progeny felled a great demon. The idea set her teeth on edge, and she forcibly quelled the thoughts before they distracted her to the point of detriment. 

Koji was introducing his new wife, and Akako realized then that the rumor of Akane's death had merit. It didn't bother the daiyokai as it should have. Akane was evil; her spirit was enough to put the universal balance out of alignment, so it was only natural that the universe corrects itself. Akane's chaotic energy was never meant to exist—especially not paired with Koji. Somehow, Akako felt that Koji being with someone else compared to Akane was preferable. 

Still, the vixen didn't bother offering the new woman a glance. Her dispassionate stare was leveled on Koji, unmoving and unafraid. 

"Nonetheless, I am prepared to deliver your gift on your terms. Preferably in a more private setting, though I completely understand if you—" 

"You can speak to This One here." 

She interrupted even as several familiar scents assaulted her sensitive nose. Someone she hadn't seen since the fall of Predator's Keep and then a few more that she'd attended to during the Heaven and Hell tournament. One scent, in particular, stood out above the rest and Akako nearly averted her honeyed eyes to find the source. The kitsune couldn't afford the distraction though. There was no time to be surprised, no time to even ponder on why he was here, how he felt seeing Xartia standing behind her, or even how she felt knowing he was here. While Koji seemed perfectly comfortable taking his eyes off of her, she wasn't quite so foolhardy—not after seeing first hand what he was capable of. 

The demoness parted her lips, and familiar black mist slowly seeped from her open mouth and then from her tear ducts. It pooled at the feet of Koji and Akako until it was a mass of rolling waves of dark smoke. Wisps of the vapor began to rise then weave together, climbing like scrambling limbs. After a few seconds, the onlookers would realize that the mist was forming a wall that would bar any onlookers from seeing the conversation that would take place between fox and dragon halfing. 

Once the pair were obscured from the outsiders view, the Lady of the Void expanded her yoki, forming a barrier around them to prevent anyone from overhearing whatever it was that Koji wished to say. 

"Speak. None will hear the knowledge you impart on This One." 

 

@Twitterpated @dvsn @Aleksei @Etched In Stone @Kalmuli @Dreamer @Voldemort @Damnatus @Tenkai Matsumoto @The Hummingbird @King

Edited by Akako Akari
Somehow didn't tag Kal. T^T

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As soon as the black smoke began to pour from her and even expand in his general direction, the Heika lifted his draconic hand in a closed fist. This was the non-verbal command he gave to tell his companions not to interfere. Despite just how dangerous the Kitsune was, especially in a bubble of her influence, Koji allowed her to trap him there with her. As she harbored no fear, neither did he. Even with the upper hand out of his favor, he always held confidence in his ability to survive. The Void failed to swallow him up, in which nothing could compare to the things he'd endured there. Not even the Lady of the Void herself. As the lurid plume devoured them, his eyes remained trained on the Daiyokai as they became secluded away from the world for an eternity. Once they were alone, he pondered just how willing she'd be to believe him, or perhaps she'd wondered herself yet denied the possible reality of it all.

"Speak. None will hear the knowledge you impart on This One."

"One year ago on this day, great tragedy befell you at the hands of your daughter."

If she recalled the finer details of that day, the most he'd done to her personally was undress her; In hindsight he'd also slapped her. The rest of the matter fell directly onto her daughter, from stealing her orb, to forcing her into suicide. Koji supported all of this, though it was her hand that played every roll in Akako's demise. Curious still though, how ever did Kimi managed to take her mother's orb?

"While I am painted the culprit, You know deep down inside I had little to do with it beyond threatening and belittling you. With Kimi now deceased, I come here today not to kill you again, but rather to affect you in a manner that hopefully helps to preserve your life in the future. You see, your folly upon myself, upon Kimi, are no different than the folly placed unto by your precious human."

Singular, one.

"I have no proof to afford you other than the results of your evening this day last year. Likewise, I never asked Kimi, nor did she ever tell. However, one sure thing she managed to do was steal your orb, while it was to be under the protection and supervision of the one whom was then closest to you. The one you shared your Yoki with. The very one you jump up to save every time she is in trouble....I can't help but wonder, how is it that Kimi managed to fool her? The easy answer is that, she didn't."

If it wasn't yet clear to her what he was getting at, it would be momentarily. Try as she might, she'd find no lies delivered from him. She would be left to speculate whether he'd learned how to lie to her undetected which was nigh impossible, or he was telling the truth.

"Red didn't lift a finger to stop your orb from being taken, yet she was capable of such was she not? The one entrusted to protect your orb."

While Koji hadn't been aware of such, even Xartia pondered this fact on his own. In fact it's why his duplicate was so eager to hold the orb for himself once they saved her, to be sure it didn't happen again.

"When you were distressed, she could have felt you. She could have come for you, saved you. Instead it wasn't until it was practically too late that she went above and beyond to revive you. Perhaps she was driven by a guilty conscience? As much as I'd like to make Xartia look bad in this revelation, I begrudgingly admit that he couldn't have made the difference even if the two of you hadn't have been arguing. Still, it made things more convenient for your sudden departure."

He paused briefly to let it all really sink in and hit home before finding his precise conclusion.

"With Kimi no longer being with us, and with her having fulfilled her vengeance on you beforehand, I'd like to reassure that I no longer have an interest in harming you. I don't know that'll you'll take it for what it is here and now, but I wanted to issue a warning of your trust as a gift, along with my forgiveness.

I forgive you."

Still his face and posture remained unmoved other than the previous signal he'd given his people to remain idle. Still no lies to be detected by the Daiyokai. Never would he ever apologize to her, though he managed to see reason enough in her ultimate failure of a demise that he could in fact forgive her. After all, to this day he'd dare to think that her own blood and viscera played a heavy role in the conception of his Heir. It stood to say that Red played no part in Akako's demise, though she played no part in stopping it either. Whether she was implausibly tricked by his late Empress, or decided to be distracted enough to miss such a grandiose happening, she failed to aid the one that had saved her so many times. To Koji, there was hardly a reasonable excuse as to why Red couldn't have at least tried to prevent what had happened. Especially having been so close both physically and intimately. He'd even wager that if Xartia were in Red's position, he'd have noticed such a grand breach in security over an ancient being's life source.

@Akako Akari  @dvsn @Aleksei @Etched In Stone @Dreamer @danzilla3 @Chappu

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"Go Kairos, take your cat and head back inside. I'll be in shortly."

"But - "

"Now!"

He hissed venomusly with excitement, yet without raising the volume of his voice. The boy didn't realize how dangerous it was to look so grown to the man that was now shrouded within a barrier, though Xartia was too well aware. All of Koji's siblings by Xartia had been murdered by except one, his first born, whom he hadn't seen in many many years. Arguable, the only one he'd actually pay to see dead considering Xartia didn't have it in him to kill his own children. Not even for another one of his children. Though who knew how his opinion might change in the heat of the moment. Right now he was too concerned for Akako though. Kairos was just another distraction when he was ultimately the largest target to the Ryu Kotei. Whether Koji planned to come for the boy or not, Xartia would do his damnedest to prepare him for that day. He sure looked the part now, but the look was hollow. 

Akako was right, Xartia was livid still, and he wanted to take Koji out to avenge her honor. However, he wanted to do this his own way, on his own terms. While he wouldn't kill his own child there were other ways to deal with him. Timing and placement was everything. This was not the time, nor the place, though eventually the chance would appear. When it did, he'd be ready. For now, it was best to keep things kosher for the sake of the public. Not need to jeopardize the entire port city for a half ass chance as getting rid of his koji problems for good. For this to be the first time he saw him in the past year, after thankfully missing his appearance in Hyperion, things were pretty quiet. Complying in his confusion and frustration, the prince retreated, Rex in tow. Xartia remaining vigilant as he awaited the barrier to fail and the black mist to clear. Beyond seeing the silhouettes of their profiles with his WIZARD EYES was nigh impossible, though at least he could see if Koji did in fact try to attack her.

He remained from willing it so, though he was prepared to beckon The Sorcerer to his hand. A weapon that was so much more than just, not only capable of cutting through the Yokai Queen's barrier, but through Koji's lurid scales as well.

@Akako Akari  @dvsn @Aleksei @Etched In Stone @Dreamer @danzilla3 @Chappu

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Pleasure swept through Zenahriel as Rafael touched his wings, complimenting the new color the High Lord had donned. In truth, nothing satisfied Zenahriel more than delighting Rafael, and now his irritation at the King of Umbra was all but gone. He smiled brilliantly as he bid the young jeweler farewell, though he stored his mate’s suggestion at the back of his mind. He fully intended to see to the jeweler’s personal growth and profit soon. Umbra would, Zenahriel decided, make a fine home for the man.

“Keep these as they are,” Rafael commanded.

“Of course, my Lord,” Zenahriel grinned with a teasing bow. “Perhaps, with autumn, I will find some red and orange dyes, yes?”

The sun was slowly beginning its descent, and it was growing closer to the time to see the Regent. But there was still plenty of opportunity to witness the Sword Dancing, and Zenahriel made a point to use his and Rafael’s specially acquired tickets to gain as favorable view of the performance. It was quite the show, and Zenahriel clapped along with the crowd as the dancers completed the climax of their wordless, but intense, story. His only regret was that he had not signed up to perform himself… but then again, he hadn’t danced in many years, and the thought of embarrassing himself amidst such a crowd was terrible.

After picking up a lantern for the wishing event, Zenahriel then began seeking out the Lady Akako in earnest, for he knew that many would be seeking her attention, her favor, as well as for simply the privilege of speaking to the Regent for any reason. He would have to wait his turn, and though he was in no great a hurry, he disliked having to wait for too long. Zenahriel was generally patient, but time was precious.

There came gasps of surprise, shock, and some fear as a wall of black smoke rose up. From this and the whispers he heard with keen ears, Zenahriel immediately knew this as a command for peace and privacy as the Regent spoke to one of the more unwelcome visitors. He stopped amid the uneasy crowd, and made no move to interrupt the private conversation or eavesdrop, though he very well could. Not unless the rest of the visitors here were threatened would he disrupt the event here, for good or bad.

"Anyone you might know, Rafael?" Zenahriel asked, for the King was more socialized than he.

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The elder fox lifted her chin, practically looking down her nose at the dragonkin as he reminded her of her greatest folly. It took every ounce of effort to fight the sneer that begged to be expressed, but she remained controlled—her face indifferent as she kept her lips sealed to listen to the child emperor. 

A child he was. Foolish to think that her daughter was the only culprit. Koji was just as much a villain as her daughter had been, if not more so, in the events of that day. He could be charged with capital murder—premeditated since the moment that Akako had punished them. He gave orders on how she was to take her own life. Akako remembered so vividly what he had done, and despite his best efforts, she would not be manipulated into fooling herself that he wasn't just as guilty as her progeny had been. No, he hadn't killed her with his own hands, but he might as well have. He ordered the killing blow—instructed her to mutilate herself until she was unrecognizable. Was he delusional, she wondered. Did he honestly forget that Kimi did little more than retrieving the orb? The power one could hold with that precious item; it was a terrifying thing. 

He silenced her inner musings by suggesting another offender.  Golden eyes narrowed on the halfling as he spoke, his manipulation knowing no bounds. Akako didn't appreciate his presumptuous tone as he painted Red to be less than innocent.  While the daiyokai never wanted to consider it, Koji was forcing her to now. Red was distracted by a particular Devil, even after their tryst when the kitsune had to wrap her in warmth and affection to soothe the emotional wounds that Roen left. That distraction was how her orb had been taken. The psion was sloppy; certainly not fit to rule. That much was abundantly clear.

Koji planted the seeds of doubt and resentment in the daiyokai's mind; however, she merely frowned as he said he forgave her. It lit a fire in her—those offensive words. He should be on his knees, begging her for mercy after what he had done, yet he was posturing before her, her murderer.  It was an insult of epic proportions, but Akako couldn't react now, not during her festival. For the sake of appearances, she needed to reign in the wrath that was simmering just beneath the surface. He was mad, perhaps more so than her daughter. It was abundantly clear that he was a threat to the empire, one that would need to be fixed sooner than later. 

War. 

The vixen didn't utter a word, instead, her lips parted and she sucked in a breath, the black vapor funneling back into her body as the barrier of yoki withdrew into her lithe form. Even with her eyes on Koji, Akako could feel the Emperor's presence within her estate which afforded her with the barest hint of relief, though her guard remained up. Allies that she trusted surrounded them, the yokai in her service were all vigilantly watching. Koji was grossly outnumbered and outmatched in this current setting, though for how much longer? Despite all of this, he was still a threat as was chaos which he was the embodiment of. 

"You have said your piece. You may take your leave." 

The demoness didn't wish for the dragonkin and his entourage to be in her presence any longer, much less the presence of her people given the miasma he seemed to seep. In addition, she had many guests that wished to speak to her and she sorely wanted this moment to end. She wanted to forget the fact that Red might have been the reason that she was killed in the first place. 

 

 

@Twitterpated @dvsn @Aleksei @Etched In Stone @Kalmuli @Dreamer @Voldemort @Damnatus @Tenkai Matsumoto @The Hummingbird @King

Edited by Akako Akari

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As soon as Akako and Koji were shrouded in smoke, Aiyoku sighed heavily and finally took a moment to look up to see who all had arrived. Her light violet eyes scanned over the heat signatures of those currently watching the happenings. Her lips parted, and she drew in a breath to taste the air. There was a sharp flavor, like lightning, that made her senses tingle. The serpent familiar glanced in the direction that she assumed it had come from, her focus landing on the monk. 

The other near him was one she recognized, the asshole that brought sake for Akako once upon a time. Her brows knit together and she assumed that the monk was an ally of his; however, she was certain the rest of the yokai on the estate weren't aware. 

Casting her attention to Jun, who was still hyper-focused on the mass of black mist,  she nudged the girl. Jun's wide owlish eyes blinked rapidly before averting to the serpent. Aiyoku nodded in the direction of the monk then leaned in toward Jun's ear to speak. 

"There are too many scents. There is a monk near Arthur. I assume he's with him, but I highly doubt anyone else recognizes either. Take a look for me?"

Jun snapped her beak in acknowledgment then glanced around at all of those that worked for the daiyokai. As Aiyoku expected, most everyone in Akako's employ was staring at Tenkai, some with nervous apprehension, others with disdain. The yokai closest to the monk was a pair of inu and she could see from where she stood that their hair was standing on end. Jun made a noise in the back of her throat then leaned toward Aiyoku. 

"Yeah. Some of them look concerned."

"Hm..."

"Perhaps one of us should go talk to him, show the others he is okay?"

"Because you kindly offered..."

Jun gave the serpent a withering look before sighing and nodding her head in resignation. The falcon yokai shivered, the feathers on her head ruffling at the movement. She then made her way over to the men that had just arrived. 

"I assume you are all here for Akako-sama?" Jun asked, her beak only moving ever so slightly as she spoke. 

Just as the second familiar asked the question, Akako was removing the barrier and drawing the mist back into herself. Jun glanced over her shoulder for a brief moment, before glancing back up at Tenkai again. 

@Voldemort @Damnatus @Tenkai Matsumoto @Kalmuli

Edited by Akako Akari

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For the briefest of moment, the silence that fell beyond his speech felt like an eternity. His facial expression and body language remained unchanged, though on the inside he could feel just how far he'd pushed the proverbial blade. Even if she didn't accept his forgiveness, and even if she wished to continue blaming him for his misfortunes, it was no longer her problem unless she chose to make it so. For even if he was as guilty in her faux death as she implied against his perception of things, she still ultimately did it to herself. Twice. As for his presence and the threat it brought, if she was concerned about how just looking at him made others feel, imagine how much more concerned she'd be if he did repeat the atrocities he committed on his wedding day.

"You have said your piece. You may take your leave." 

"As you wish."

He stated plainly before turning his back to her and receding back into the comfort of his entourage. As he by passed them, he was certain they'd recoil, reforming their formation as they participated in leaving the Daiyokai's estate. As the crowds parted awkwardly, giving them a clear birth out of the estate, Koji's closed Draconic fist pumped into the air, his final address being more audible to the general public.

"Long live the Yokai Queen!"

He shouted as he continued to walk, his hand falling naturally to his side once more.


When Akako's barrier fell, Xartia initally felt a mild sense of panic. Though the revelation of each of theirs energy signatures unperturbed by the barrier allowed him the relief he was beginning to desperately seek. Though she mentally patronized the Cambion for his reactions to Koji, or lack there of, it seemed she now held a similar stance judging by her words of parting with him. His all too easy compliance revealed itself when he mocked the Yokai Queen, causing his fists to close tightly at his sides as he quite literally bit his tongue. Over and over he reminded himself that there was a time and place, neither of which was now. Stepping closer to Akako once more, his right hand sought the small of her back, in which he remained facing the exiting party, his eyes watching them as he whispered to her.

"I'm going to monitor them until I'm certain they've left the city. I'll find you once they have."

Considering their means of arrival, Xartia was all too weary of the groups decision to walk out of the estate and into the city, in a region where they were most unwanted. On the anniversary of his distasteful deed, in the expanse Carmine region where an investigation took place of Koji's involvement. The proof was in the pudding, and while nothing had been done about it, Xartia found himself both mortified and relieved. His wished no death upon one of his children, though the one had killed the many. No Xartia wouldn't kill him, though his ultimate motives against Koji could prove much more severe than a mere death. Would prove much more given the chance. Blending into the crowds, the Cambion remained vigilant of the unwanted visitors, praying that they'd leave as soon as possible, and hoping that if they did stick around for a while that it might be on the best of terms possible. A blessing and a curse considering the recent, official proclamation of the the New Union Frontier.

@Akako Akari  @dvsn @Aleksei @Etched In Stone @Dreamer @danzilla3 @Chappu

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Kalmuli jumped a little when someone approached from behind. She couldn't sense things as exact as she normally could with the yokai around. Turning around, the bells on the cat mask jingling, she reached to it and slipped it up so she could see who was speaking better. They were another yokai, most likely under Akako's employ by the way that they spoke and asked. She would manage a smile, sitting mask atop her head to give the female a small nod. "Ah yes...I'm another Queen Regent...or was. I'm more of a Queen Regent Substitute."Kalmuli answered, awkwardly fiddling with the end of her side ponytail. "I thought I would come to visit...and I was asking Mr. Monk here for a bit of a prayer for someone back home."

She stopped fiddling. "Though, I suppose amongst yokai, monks are quite intimidating aren't they? I will have to hold off a prayer for another time then."Kalmuli would step away from the monk to join the side of the falcon envoy. "Should you be in Weland or Altissium Bay, Mr. Monk, feel free to visit. I wouldn't mind the company."

Giving the falcon yokai a small bow, Kalmuli would dismiss herself and go back to waiting for a chance to speak with Akako. On the way through, her eyes passed over the Dragon Emperor and his Empress, giving a small bow as they passed as a courtesy before continuing on to stand in the well-worn spot where others had stood to greet. Looking down, her wooden shoes barely filled in space where the man stood before. Kei, who had been following along with her at her side, stood to her right and tapped his spear to make a small announcement. "Substitute Queen Regent Kalmuli of Altissium, Akako-sama." 

@Akako Akari @Twitterpated @Tenkai Matsumoto @Voldemort 

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Before the Time Skip                                                                                                                                  

Tenkai turned his head towards the approaching guest, struck once more by a brief pang of recognition. What little memory he had of Kalmuli from several years ago was at least present enough to stir in his mind upon the sight of her, though perhaps not enough to breach his countenance. Truth be told, there was not very much of the Tenkai most people remembered from back then. With the exception of the eyepatch, he more or less looked the same, but the exterior mattered very little in this case. Even so, it would seem that his appearance as a monk was still enough to convince Kalmuli that he would be able to aid her in her moment of spiritual crisis. Tenkai knew not what ailed her, but there was one thing he did know.

"I'm sorry," Tenkai said, solemn and stone-faced, "But I can provide you no succor. Not any longer. Look to the priests of these lands if you need guidance."

Perhaps in the past, Tenkai would have been able to aid her, and perhaps anyone seeking spiritual guidance. But aiding in matters of the spirit was only possible when ones' own was at peace. Far too much had changed since then, and much of Tenkai's hopeful, borderline naive idealism had faded away. Though he was still more or less an altruist, the path he had chosen for himself made him ill-fit to act in the manner of a priest. Hopefully, Kalmuli would understand this.

..................

At the very least, the attention of all those present would be suddenly taken by the festivities, so perhaps the awkwardness of that chance meeting would fade soon enough. For that matter, it seemed as if the performance had granted them all a reprieve from the building tensions between the hostess of this festival and her most infamous and ignoble guest. Tenkai, at the very least, found himself watching the sword dance intently, though perhaps not with as much of a relaxed disposition as he would have liked. After all, there was always the chance that some opportunistic party might take advantage of the performance to achieve some ill-meaning end while everyone was otherwise predisposed. At the very least, Tenkai allowed himself enough of a luxury to observe.

It was a rather odd mix of cultures, that it was. Thus far, the festival had reminded him of something he would have experienced back in Kyoto, a place now more than worlds away from him. But the performance involved music and dress that was far more reminiscent of Chinese culture. Tenkai knew little as to whether or not this was some Valucre-born natural analogue or simply something from outside introduced by Lady Akako, as many things here would have been. It certainly raised the question as to whether or not the yokai in these parts were natives of Valucre, framed by the same conventions shared by their Terran counterparts that were stars apart from them. It was not the first time Tenkai had observed that phenomenon, like some sort of gestalt natural and cultural framework that spanned the universe itself. Much in the same way that one would find humans, horses and dogs on one world and another with little difference in between, so too could that be said of other creatures. Or perhaps these yokai were members of Akako's original court, having made the exodus along with her? These were curious questions indeed, ones that Tenkai would probably like to discuss with Arthur or some other knowledgeable mind. 

As it seemed, the sword dance was more than just a display of practiced flourishes. There was a narrative involved, of that Tenkai was certain. It was most likely symbolic of something, perhaps a story that Akako herself wished to share. What it all possibly meant was still a matter that eluded Tenkai, but that was fine. There would be more time to ponder these things later. As the performance ended, the monk modestly joined in the applause out of a humble expression of gratitude for the performance. 

 

                                                                                                                                                                         

 

While Tenkai and his compatriots were thus preoccupied with the performance, something was amiss between Akako and Koji. One moment they had been within sight of the group, only to end up completely obscured by a black mist the next. Should Arthur or Artanthos become alarmed, Tenkai would have been quick to ease their concerns. This wasn't the work of Koji's miasma. No, something so brazen in the face of the daiyokai's retainers would have ended up causing instantaneous chaos. This magic was Akako's doing. She was using some form of localized sensory deprivation in order to gain a moment of privacy with Koji. Whatever they were discussing, it was not something she wanted any of her guests to pry on. She was best left to her business.

It was at this point that Tenkai noticed the apprehension in the faces of several individuals around him. It didn't take much, least of all from Tenkai, to tell that the pensive gazes were all coming from yokai. Members of Akako's court, like as not. They did not seem that bothered by the presence of Arthur or Artanthos, but Tenkai was a different story. Being dressed like a Buddhist monk and possessing the spiritual presence of one at that, Tenkai carried the all too familiar feeling of those exorcists from "back home" who would routinely perform rituals that drove their kind away from the dwellings of men and into the forests and mountains. In some cases this was justified, though in others it was little more than invasion, and Tenkai would not be able to tell whether these yokai had been driven away before due to some past evil, or if they had been scorned by the capriciousness of humanity. Suffice it to say, Tenkai did not come here with intent to harm them, and certainly did not want any trouble to start between the lot of them and his companions merely due to his presence. That being said, Tenkai had no intention of leaving early to suit their sensitivities either. If it came to it, he would have no problem bringing the full weight of his aura to bear upon them to drive them back should any seek to start trouble with him and his. 

"This place is teeming with yokai," Tenkai said to Arthur and Artanthos quietly. Arthur likely knew what they were, though it was probable that Artanthos was still unsure. "Some consider them demonic, but they're mostly similar to fae, if you're familiar with that. I don't think they're very fond of my presence..."

One particularly brave yokai stepped up to the three of them to speak with them. She appeared to be some form of avian yokai. It was not uncommon for yokai to come in varieties with the aspect of certain animals, There was a wide amount of diversity amongst yokai, but only a few among the animal-aspected kind were considered to be the most powerful and prominent. Kitsune such as Akako herself and the dog-based inugami were among the highest tier of these creatures, though there were also many yokai that did not fall under such categories connected with the natural world. Not wanting to alarm the curious creature, Tenkai made no sudden motions as she approached.

"I assume you are all here for Akako-sama?" Jun asked, her beak only moving ever so slightly as she spoke. 

The monk briefly turned his head to Arthur before looking back at the falcon yokai. "I would say so, yes. We are acquaintances of hers."

As they spoke, the mist subsided, with Akako seemingly concluding her business with the Datsuzoku Emperor. The dispersal of the mist drew Tenkai's immediate attention once more. From what it seemed, Koji was about to depart. Mayhap their business been concluded? Regardless of what had transpired, Akako seemed to be unharmed. That was good, to say the least. Anything otherwise would have resulted in an international disaster. Probably not the kind of thing that he or his companions would want to get tied up in. Still, Tenkai found himself somewhat disappointed that Koji was departing so early. As tenuous as this peace was, it was probably the only moment he would have had to get close enough to Koji in order to size him up, getting a measure of his character and perhaps glean some of his intentions. There wasn't much telling how Koji would have responded to the presence of one of the Order's knights, if at all, provided that Tenkai's status as a knight was even well known. After the events that transpired at Last Chance and his subsequent attendance as representative at the Symposium, Tenkai would have been surprised if it wasn't.

The warrior monk peered at the emperor and his retinue as they made their way out of the festival. The crowds split nervously to make way, few daring to risk drawing Koji's ire by impeding his procession while those of even weaker will were simply repelled by his miasma. Tenkai stood there quietly, as Arthur and Artanthos notably would be, getting as much of a read of Koji and his entourage as they could without overtly staring. When he stopped to bolt out his patronizing exclamation, Tenkai looked on impassively. Was this meant to taunt those among Akako's court that had been so wrought with tension over the possibility that harm might have come to her at the emperor's hands? It certainly wasn't a phrase absolutely brimming with sincerity, thought not overtly mocking enough to be a clearly intended insult. If any among Akako's people were to react poorly to that, there would be no way to blame Koji. Perhaps it was not best to dwell on what may have been.

For the briefest of moments, his eye caught that of Koji's Empress, and in that moment came yet again the unexpected and uncomfortable feeling of familiarity. Uncomfortable in the sense that he knew there was something uncannily familiar about Katiya, but it had to have been so long ago that he was frustratingly bereft of a clear memory. Perhaps this was just a fluke? Memories were not as reliable as people would believe them to be, and it would be folly of him to wrack his brain over what could have been him being reminded of someone completely different. Still, he could not help but feel bothered by how much his mind kept attempting to drag him by the arm down memory lane. Tenkai was no longer the same person from back then. There was a different path to walk.

Speaking of which, Kalmuli seemed intent on leaving things open for Tenkai to take her up on her request. The monk would not say he could oblige her, but keeping her in mind as a possible contact should he ever find himself in the neighborhood wasn't a bad idea.

"Though, I suppose amongst yokai, monks are quite intimidating aren't they? I will have to hold off a prayer for another time then."Kalmuli would step away from the monk to join the side of the falcon envoy. "Should you be in Weland or Altissium Bay, Mr. Monk, feel free to visit. I wouldn't mind the company."

"I'll keep that in mind," he replied. 

With that being settled, Tenkai turned to Arthur and Artanthos once again. "Well, then. Shall we pay a visit to the hostess of this festival?"

 

@Akako Akari@Voldemort@Damnatus@Twitterpated@Dreamer@Kalmuli@dvsn@Aleksei@Etched In Stone@danzilla3@Chappu@The Hummingbird@King

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Katiya didn't move as Koji became swallowed up by the mist of Akako and signaled them to stay. It blocked the view of both entourages, leaving them to stare at a black mass. The Empress wasn't worried, after all whatever struggle he had with his then mother-in-law was of none of her concern. Any ill will toward Akako was her own just as his was also his own responsibility. Knowing Koji, she knew that the black wall that came down eventually would reveal them both in good health. At least on the outside, what went on emotionally might not be known to her right away. How nervous was Xartia? From the corner of her eye she caught the boy with him earlier running off, clearly, that nervous. 

This made her pause, that must be someone he is close to, if not his own kin. The vampire took mental note to ask Koji later, she wasn't about to assume anything with this family. Katiya's other pause came from from her own previous thoughts, twisting them into Xartia's. It was as if Xartia was holding a sword to her own neck, and Koji to this boy's. She didn't put the thought past him, now that he knew where she stood and that he had even considered putting her there. The vampire had enough enemies at the moment, the thought of one more wasn't concerning. Knowing her Emperor, she knew he would not display her if he felt she couldn't handle herself or that she was in mortal danger. Koji brought her here to face the very people she had meant to so long ago. She was sure he had already thought of the fact that once Xartia or Akako saw her, they might use her as a pawn to get back at him.

More people began to gather, most likely to greet Akako in person. Ruby eyes wandered around to view who was in tow, those that began to speak caught her attention. The appearance of someone familiar made her emotionless face turn to a light confusion. It was fleeting as Koji had returned from the mists, she quickly turned face with him, it became very clear that they were not staying. She did not find herself heartbroken, the outcome seemed to be as any negotiation between rivals would go. What he did next made her pause, his talons in the air wishing Akako long life. Katiya's brows rose and she smirked slightly, waiting for the crowd to die down with their amusement of such a display.

"Vorqic hefoc dout regipre jahus met mrith petranaswin." Sarcasm dripped from her low sultry voice.

As they passed by those looking to greet the Yokai Queen, she caught the one eye of a monk who had stared at her for a minute. He looked painfully familiar, despite his newer appearance, perhaps she had given him a drink in her years as an owner, or tender for the Halo. She had not lost her memory, but instead pushed it in the back of her head as she had other things to tend to. Perhaps another time if fate had presented itself, she would meet him to quell her curiosity.

@Twitterpated @Akako Akari @Tenkai Matsumoto @Aleksei @Chappu

 

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“No one that deserves your time,” Rafael replied, a hint of venom dripping in his tone. It seemed as though Koji and those that followed him had the rather nasty habit of showing up where they weren’t wanted, and more annoyingly, making something of a scene when they did so. Darkness, the great abyss, that ‘ominous aura’—yes, it seemed that the self-proclaimed emperor and those that followed him were rather partial to the theatrics. And while Rafael had always enjoyed a good drama, he found this particular cast wanting. “We’ll wait here until they’re finished.”

Rafael untangled his hand from the raven’s and slid it into his pocket, while the other returned to those vibrantly painted pinions. He ran his fingertips along their lengths gently, lovingly, knowing how much pleasure these small acts of intimacy brought the High Lord. “Yellow, orange, and red,” the elder said, returning to their earlier conversation. “We can pick specific shades together, but that gradient will look spectacular.”

Blue, silver-whites, and perhaps a deep purple for the winter…

The uneasy crowd surrounding them brought his attention back to the present as they shifted and squirmed, parting for the man and his entourage like water against a stone. But while the civilians all but fled, whether out of fear or respect, Rafael remained motionless—not so far into the path that he would impede their departure, but well within a single armspan of Koji as he passed. Perhaps he would recognize the elder as he stood there tending to his lover’s wings, or, perhaps that knowledge had faded from memory? After all, Rafael was a particularly nondescript man, preferring the clandestine afforded with obscurity.

When Koji and those nipping at his heels had passed them by, Rafael started toward the regent, Zenahriel at his side. “Lady Akako,” the elder called out to her sweetly, eyes bright and lips curved in a smile of delight. “The festival appears to be going quite well, sans some minor inconveniences.” A back-tilted of the head suggested his meaning. “That aside, I would like to introduce you to someone. This is Zenahriel Zacharias Darkness, High Lord of Genesaris and, to my eternal gratefulness, my mate.” Looking at the raven, he tilted his head toward the kitsune. “This is absolute beauty is Lady Akako Akari, regent of Port Caelum.”

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It was fortunate that the dragon-halfling agreed to leave so readily; however, she was taken aback by how he turned his back to her without a thought, as if she wasn't a threat to him and his in the slightest. Perhaps he was just confident that she wouldn't lash out amongst her people. Hopefully, it was the later, but like Koji, she couldn't read minds.  All the daiyokai could do was identify scents that offered her insight to emotional well-being and lies. If he believed that he could best her and hers, it wasn't something that Akako could ascertain within the limits of her abilities. It was for this reason that the demoness relinquished that line of thought as Koji threw his fist into the air and shouted disingenuous words.

With Koji far enough away from her, Akako's golden hues searched the crowd and landed on Arthur as Xartia's hand touched the small of her back. She sucked in a breath and tensed at the touch despite whom it belonged to. The daiyokai was on edge and understandably so. With her gaze still on Arthur, Akako nodded silently to Xartia.  Despite her distraction, she had heard him and was grateful that the Cambion was going to keep watch over Koji. The child emperor's presence in her domain meant nothing good for those in her care, and she felt a bit better with Xartia handling the situation while she continued to greet visitors. 

Xartia stepped away, and the demoness seemed rooted to the place she stood. Her tails swayed and twitched every so often giving away her apprehension. He hadn't been invited yet the alchemist still saw fit to come to her festival despite how she had left him without a word. A moment ago, she had been grateful for his presence as it gave her a little more confidence when faced with a nightmare from her past, but now she was admittedly nervous. She'd never given him a chance to speak to her; now she would be forced to face him. It wasn't as if she could run from her event. 

"Substitute Queen Regent Kalmuli of Altissium, Akako-sama." 

Fortunately, her attention was diverted as someone she didn't recognize announced Kalumli's arrival. Pushing whatever internal conflict she was battling aside, the Regent's lips upturned into a smile as her gaze landed on Kalmuli. The last time they saw each other was at Predator's Keep after the attack that left the city bereft. Kalmuli was one of those that arrived shortly after to assist in the aftermath. 

"It has been quite a long time-" 

“Lady Akako...”

Her attention averted again, following the familiar baritone and the vixen allowed her smile to widen just a bit more for Rafael. Even though she couldn't entirely forget what transpired moments ago, the demoness certainly made it seem like she wasn't bothered by it all. 

"Please Rafael, no need to be so formal." She cut in as she stepped into his space to brush a ghost of a kiss against his cheek before frowning at his mention of her unwanted guests. 

"Minor, indeed," the vixen stated under her breath, though her voice was cold, colder than she had intended. 

Refreshing her smile, the kitsune followed Rafael's gaze to look at the man standing at his side. High Lord Zenahriel, someone Akako would be sure to remember in the future. A beautiful creature and she found it fitting that he was the mate of someone of Rafael's station. The corners of her eyes wrinkled as she bowed her head politely in greeting. When Rafael introduced her, Akako's brows rose a fraction. "It is a pleasure and please do not listen to anything he says about me, Lord Zenahriel. I am sure most stories are exaggerated." She teased lightly before looking to Kalmuli. 

Taking the woman's hand in her own, Akako brought her closer. "Allow me to introduce a friend of mine, Queen Regent Kalmuli of Altissium. Perhaps you've already met?"

 

@Twitterpated @Voldemort @Kalmuli @King @The Hummingbird

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This Akako Akari was indeed a most striking figure of authority. She was dressed in a lovely array of fine silks, neither too modest nor too revealing, and the jewelry she wore sparkled in a number that never reached the excessive. Yet it was not her groomed and perfected appearance that captured Zenahriel’s attention, but her poise. The way she carried herself, her focused and intelligent gaze, her smile and even her tone of voice – it was this that demanded the most respect.

Only minimally did he notice the fox ears topping her head, looking almost cute if not regal in their adornments. A kitsune. It was fitting that a yokai should rule over yokai, but Zenahriel admitted to himself he’d expected something more extravagant, something more inhuman. A naga perhaps, or demonic mistress. He felt something of Lady Akako’s power, and seen some of it in the black smoke, but it was nothing he’d call exceptional. Not today.

He was glad. Demonstrations of power, even unintentional ones, were always uneasy occurrences. They may breed respect, but fear, defiance, and resentment often followed.

Entire kingdoms had risen, and had fallen heavily, under such feelings.

Akako extended her hand to another woman whose elegant features spoke of elven blood. Zenahriel stepped forward, gently nudging Rafael aside as he set down the wishing lantern. His wings spread only just enough to allow them to wrap around his body in a cloak, shrinking his body mass in a humbling manner as he bowed low before the two Queens.

“It is a great honor to witness Your Grace,” he said courteously, “and you as well, Your Majesty Kalmuli.” He waited until they bid him rise, and when they did, he held out the satin box in both hands to the Regent Akako. It was a most formal and polite way to present an offering. “I and my esteemed mate Rafael have brought a gift, if Your Excellency pleases. It is not much, I’m afraid, but I beg thee to accept, if it is not too paltry. And I am truly sorry,” he added softly, his eyes moving to Kalmuli, “that I have not brought a second gift. I was not expecting Your Highness as well, Queen Kamuli. If I can rectify the error, please do speak.”

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Kalmuli hadn't expected to but cut off but compared to the two she may as well not have shone as brightly. She held back her response to Akako until they finished before she raised her head. "Yes, it has been a long time."She said as she would join Akako at her side, raising her eyebrows when their hands connected. Her eyes went distant a moment, not out of habit, but it was something she couldn't control when she came into contact with someone. A sheen of sweat glistened against her forehead that when she snapped back to reality, she used the hand fan to cool off a moment as Akako guided her over to meet the pair.

"Ah..."She said as she stopped fanning a moment and gave a small nod to the angel-like being and his partner. "I appreciate the gesture, though it is unnecessary. This festival is truly a moment for Akako to shine, I'm merely on a casual visit like all others attending the event.  One day, should you be there, I shall be at the palace at Altissium. Who knows...maybe we'll hold a festival there as well."

It was a possibility, but not a promise. Kalmuli had no idea when the young Queen Regent whom she temporarily replaced would come back. For now, she enjoyed the bit of attention as well as the view of the festival lights throughout the grounds. 

Zenahriel's wings were what caught her eyes the most between the pair. Not just for their beauty, but for an old ache of hers that had come to the festival to escape from for a little while. Had they been solid black, it would have made her even more uncomfortable.  "That's a beautiful dye work you've had done to your wings,  Lord Zenahriel.  I do not see many who have wings adorn them in such a way."She complimented. "I look forward to seeing whatever new styles you've come up with should we meet again."

She glanced to his partner. "Rafael...The name is familiar. I've heard it spoken in Orisia a few times around my Keep at Drakiss. It's nice to place a face to the name."She said, giving a slight nod. "It's a pleasure to meet you both. I hope we can speak more in the future."

@King @The Hummingbird @Akako Akari

Edited by Kalmuli

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Rafael’s attention shifted to the woman at Akako’s side, the lovely Kalmuli, and found himself staring as distantly as she’d done the moment her hand touched the kitsune’s. Perhaps I’ll ask her for a portrait, as well, he thought, letting his imagination enjoy itself, conjuring poses, attire, whether to use pastels, water colors, or acrylic. Mm, she would make such a lovely addition to my gallery. They both would. Such were matters he would most certainly address at a later time. For the moment, introductions appeared necessary.

Zenahriel did so with all of his usual pomp and flourish, once again feeding his own sense of humility. Rafael couldn’t help but smile as he stood in the shadow of the High Lord’s wings, restraining the urge to touch those beautiful pinions again. For a man known to be so calculating, meticulous, desire and passion were ultimate catalysts for his more impulsive behaviors. This beast of raw instinct and desire that dwelt in him, Gabriela had long-since insisted he tame it.

Only recently had he begun to do so.

“It’s a pleasure to finally meet you,” Rafael finally replied, extending a pale hand toward her. If she found herself bold enough to accept his offer, she’d find her delicate hand turned over, palm down, and brought to his bearded face for a delicate kiss above her knuckles. “Indeed, it is good to finally put a face to the name I’ve heard spoken of so fondly back home.” He’d not hold her hand hostage, letting her slip free just moments after his lips brushed across her silky skin. “You’re a credit to Drakiss and to all of Orisia, Your Majesty.”

His eyes turned to Akako and the gift Zenahriel had presented her. “Yes, I hope that you find it acceptable. My raven, he has a talent for matching jewelry with those that should possess it.” Half-turning to look back at the festival, only partly to ensure that Koji and his ilk had gone without issue, Rafael spoke longingly. “Compared to what I’ve brought you, well, one might call me a rather uninspired man. But,” he faced them again, a lazy, smug slant of a smile playing at his lips, “I suppose I am what nature made me.”

Stepping closer as to eliminate the need for raising his voice over the joyous sounds of the festival, Rafael looked to Kalmuli, then to Akako. “Intentions for the evening?”

@Akako Akari @The Hummingbird @Kalmuli

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