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"I'm ready." She spoke--to herself, or to her father remained unclear.

A dossier of information--of schematics, or plans and hopes and dreams--they were all neatly collected and organized--as was her way. She slid it across the little cafe table of the veranda they sat at. The Yor estate had become something of a retreat. The months went by and the wives became plumper with their pregnancies. Kirena showed far more these days than Raveena did. It was endearing and hard to believe all at once. Umbra was special like that.

"The water first. The supplies, next--including their biggest export. Banks and businesses. All of it is there from start to finish. No one has laid eyes on these but you." It was her first move as a ruler--a usurper of the divine. That is what the fae whispered in their chilling voices.



"Nymeria has given their aid through Kyros' regency. Honestly, I wish they would integrate themselves into the Empire already. Queen Rahab still pushes for it, but the Diarchy rule is old and solid." Raveena sighed softly and poked idly at the small garden salad she was presented with. She did not have Rowan's photosynthesis-like ability, nor Rafael's own means of sustenance. Divine Being that she had become, she was still stuck with eating a salad. She wasn't ungrateful, she simply wondered what her kind should rely on more. Or did they? Was she unique in that regard?

"I need to know how prepared I should be to be rejected by the North with my proposal moving forward. I have my secondary plans in place, but you taught me that a siege takes time and careful consideration." She paused long enough to sip water from a crystal goblet and sighed thoughtfully.

"I want to do this right. I'm ready for this. Seeing Hyperion in ruin...it woke something up. I can feel it--I can feel that divine power flowing through my veins now. I feel--stronger. I feel more confident, as if I've been waiting for this. Like a sign I'm doing what I am meant to." She looked at her father and studied his features with a deep measure of gratitude. "Thank you for all that you've imparted on me. I'm ready," She nodded, before looking out at the gardens, "I wish to rule--firmly, fairly, wisely. But first I must play the game, and I cannot always play fairly to win."



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Rafael sat across from Raveena dressed in a simple black suit, his beard full, his hair unruly but short. It was not the red eyes she’d remembered staring at her, but instead a pair bluer than the ocean at sunrise. It’d been quite some time since he’d been able to entertain his daughter, their lives drawing them to seemingly opposite corners of the world at time. But these moments, brief as they could be, were precious to him.

“You speak to the north,” he replied simply. “And the east, as well.”

Despite his growing absence in the day to day affairs of the Dominion, Rafael was—and always would be—the linchpin of his vast empire. That it survived without his possessive, and quite frankly paranoid, oversight was a testament to his planning and execution. He’d entrusted those matters to the nobles below him, those with faces the people knew intimately, recognized. So long as they obeyed the law—His law—and recognized the authority of his imperial agents, that is all the elder vampyre concerned himself with.

Genesaris had changed, quite drastically, in the recent months. While the Dominion with its acquisition of the Summer Isles, the Imperial South had become a shadow of its former self in terms of activity, with their efforts almost entirely focused on expansion off-continent. Many of their forces (some said all) had been shipped to the mysterious land of Kadia, which left many wondering just what had been left behind. Excursions into the outskirts of the inhospitable lands proved fruitless in that regard, though some felt brave enough to venture deeper into the land of Corvinites.

“It is a matter of not stretching my resources too thin, or worse yet, implicating the Dominion in your affairs. While many would like to believe that the old government has all but ceased to exist, I assure you that it is alive and well, and quite strong.” While the last of their known strongholds had been stripped from them with the loss of Union City, the Genesaris Government did not die that day. Weakened, surely, but not dead. There were many throughout the land that remembered the days before empires stretched across the continent, carving up their homes into territories and districts. Many who yearned for those days of yore still. “With those troublemakers in the Midlands, and our hostile allies to the south, it’s difficult.”

There was no denying the strategic advantage to his daughter’s plot. With the north and east in the empire’s control, and her securing the west, the Midlands would find themselves wholly contained. A kill zone, if you will. “This is not to mention that I have certain interests in the west, business associates for lack of a better term, and they might very well see me assisting you—my fairly ruling daughter—as a means of aggression, should your regime bring about change that threaten their way of life.” He spoke of course of Dairut, popularly known as the Slaver’s Enclave.

The elder leaned back in his chair, posing both hands beneath his chin as he looked his daughter over. While it did not show nearly as much as it did in Athyon’s wife, pregnancy suited Raveena well. “You say that you wish to play the game, so play,” he gestured at her with a smooth, inviting wave. “What do you offer your Lord Father in exchange for his assistance?”

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Raveena set her goblet down and rest her elbow on the table. She stared out into the gardens thoughtfully—a quiet, comfortable silence fell for a time as her chin rest in her palm.

“I am my own woman.” She remarked after a stretch. It was not a declaration—only a statement, plain and simple. “I have been pressed to appeal to you, and I have firmly spoke against it for this very reason. This is my endeavor, and mine alone. And while I am your daughter, I am very tired of people fearing me because of you.” She sat up, letting her hand fall and she smiled tiredly at Rafael, “I want your guidance more than your assistance. You taught me all I need to know but having my work checked over never hurt.” It would serve her well to have an insurance policy in place, all the same. She was still a little hurt that he thought she only came to him for his resources. Despite the blow to Hyperion , they had rebounded quicker than even she had anticipated. Four more smaller villages were already in the works to building Hyperion into a Queendom proper.

She knew how important Dairut was to her father—and though she was firmly against slavery, she understood its importance and culture. The Empire was vast and having the extra bodies to keep the wheels oiled as they turned did well for them. He was about how it worked for his Empire and for that she was grateful to an extent. It was a hard thing to shake. “I can’t always get what I want—particularly when it comes to the freedoms of others. I’m placated with the notion that they can at least work off their worth—if it doesn’t kill them first.” She replied dryly. Slavery was a culture—a carefully practiced one. Treat them badly and they aren’t worth anything. Spoil them heartily and they won’t listen. There was a careful, controlled balanced that Raveena both admired and feared. OXY had learned this well and utilized the fruits of their labor through her.

She was their realized dream—and in a lot of ways, it made her stomach twist.

Politics were trickier, “I would, however, like to buy a patent or two of military encryption for exclusive rights.” She leaned back and stared at her swelling belly and sighed softly, running fingers over the thin and delicate material. It was a soft powder blue and draped her figure fetchingly and made her skin seem less pale and sick and livelier.  “Since the excursions to Antigone, my other endeavors in the technology field are growing exponentially. It helps to keep my company offshore, and its branches are growing. It makes things like this a reality.” She pressed her palms together—the acrid stench of magic wafting in the air before she pulled her hands apart. The edges burned white-hot and indigo as she reached into the small portal and pulled from it an apple of strange color—it was a dark purple, lusterless yet otherwise ordinary in its design. The portal dissipated and she placed the apple between herself and her father.

“These were cultivated exclusively for Carmine. It was meant to be a wedding gift,” Raveena explained, “The trees they grow on are natural filters. What you have here is purified; a safe, alternative blood source. It has been exceptionally productive in the medical field, but it’s primary focus is a food source.” A.M. Technologies was already moving to advance this hybrid into other forms—replicating the process for more viable avenues—be it medical, technical, luxury or all of the above.

“A.M. Tech was born in Terrenus and by design boasts the competitive edge of Terran technology that will be quite useful as I put the appropriate spin on it. The Web comes with its own foreign, modernized technology—and those are closely guarded secrets. I would offer a competitive edge against the Enclave but I also know you are quite set in your ways on that front.” She reached for the goblet again and hummed thoughtfully.

“Keep your ties with your city-state.” She sighed her defeat there—not that she didn’t know he wouldn’t budge on that matter. She knew damned well he wouldn’t give up that business venture—nor would the others. Those possessive qualities she found endearing.

“While my Empire is my own, it is not just the home of my people. It is Genesaris, even the unsavory bits. When I take the west we will speak more on a solid trade in bolstered magitechnology. The south and its distaste for the magical have gone to great lengths to kill off the draconic population in the south and I am fighting to bring it back to stable conditions. There is an island just off the coast and I am not against establishing an outward trade route through that way. My business partners and I are already working out the details of the matter to build up the species again properly, among other things. What you have is domestic. What I have is foreign.” She sipped the water delicately—it had become warm already from her touch.

“Only in my direst of needs will I call on you, father. I wish to stand apart from you, but alongside you. I’m neither going to lean on you, nor take when I owe so much in just what I’ve learned over the years. You give me a model to learn from, adapt and mold to my own needs and desires. I can accomplish great things with Carmine technology." Holding the rights to the patents legally would serve her best of all in the future, but she had come to Rafael first as a daughter seeking the confirmation of a father than one allied nation to another. It was the biggest step of her life, and there would be no backing out after.

I don’t want to take the Rising West from its citizens and make it the Hyperian Empire. I want to take the Rising West and wield it better than it currently is through my influence and the Hyperian Empire. I will do what is necessary to succeed. Your grandson deserves that much and more.” It was not that her ire was directed at Rafael as she spoke firmly on her thoughts on the matter.

People feared Raveena because she was the daughter of Rafael—who orchestrated the greatest Empire of the continent—arguably more so than abroad.

She wanted people to respect her because she had learned from Rafael and orchestrated her own great achievements.




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“People will always fear you because you are my daughter,” Rafael opposed, not bothered by the woman’s desire for independence. “No matter what you accomplish, no matter how high you ascend, that you are so dear to me will forever be a factor in your relationships. But for that same reason, you will always have enemies, those that despise you simply because of our love, Raveena.” It was foolish to pursue the impossible, no less than it was to flee the inevitable. “What you seek—need—to do is give them more reason to fear you than me,” he amended her claims, rolling his hand toward her invitingly. “You have been too kind to your allies, and even kinder to your enemies. They take this generosity and kindness as a show of weakness, as some have done to me; you know how best to rectify that.”

Raveena was often to praise her father for how rightly and justly a ruler he’d taught her to be, for it was a righteous ruler she desired to be, more than anything. A beacon of light in a world filled with so much darkness and despair. But Rafael had also taught her cruelty, for it was the light and heat that, if left unchecked, burned away all that it touched with impunity. He taught her the ways of ruthlessness and cunning, of merciless tyranny that, if necessary, could be applied with ease. She’d seen firsthand how her Lord Father dealt with those that displeased him, those that would bite the hand that fed them, those that would desecrate his sacred name and attempt to stain his immaculate reputation. He’d made her hold the blades with her own hands, feel the blood course over her fingers and saturate her flesh.

He turned his thoughts elsewhere as he palmed the strange fruit, sniffing it himself before digging a tapered thumbnail beneath its skin. The juice all but burst over the digit, smelling sweet and oddly familiar to blood. Remembering his poor encounter with the Terran blood oranges, however, he decided against tasting it himself. “The Dairutians are a proud people,” he noted. “They existed long before you and I, and will continue to do so long after we’ve left this world. My ties to that city-state and the Alcove are the reason our prison systems are not bloated, and our construction sector has not collapsed beneath the empire’s demand.” He owed her no explanation and knew her to be well aware of his reasoning, but found no issue in repeating the sentiment. “It would be wise for you to prove yourself an ally, as opposed to an enemy.”

Inspecting the fruit for a moment longer before setting it down, Rafael’s face remained a shifting tide between intrigue and indifference. He wiped his thumb on a napkin, then nursed his chin with the same hand, thoughtfully stroking his beard. “Even since its assimilation into the Dominon, the north’s entire focus has been on one thing: profit. A great deal of our wealth arrives from the north, and unfavorable outcomes ripple throughout the rest of empire.” Not only their wealth, but a great deal of their military’s might, as well. While the east had favored more arcane methods of combat, the north—much like the southern threat—poured all of their efforts into technology surpassing their allies and enemies alike. It had made the acquisition of the Great North all but invaluable to the Dominion. “The price of the patents you seek will scale depending on the level of encryption you desire,” he finally said. “At any rate, it will not come cheaply.”

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Raveena chuckled at his hesitation with the fruit and gently took it from as it sat it down, placing her hand in his instead, her thumb gently rolling across the cool skin of his skin. "These have a high concentration of blood in them. Vine mages have discovered the use of Harvester trees. It allows us to bury the dead. Their blood is siphoned through the roots and purified through the trees. The fruits collect this harvested blood. The medical sector has had promising results with them but I figured you'd find the community to have an interest in them." Raveena did not hesitate to bite into the fruit. The fruit bled as she tore the skin.

She chewed it thoughtfully, but ultimately wrinkled her nose and swallowed it. It was not a dietary supplement for her, but it had its uses. It was fleshy like a heart, and even looked like one in a way. It was not the first time she had taken blood, but she was very particular about the kinds of sacrifices offered to her. The Circle of the Living Star was growing bolder in their claims. She was no longer the Avatar of a Sun God, but a Sun Goddess herself. Though she had her minor position among the Matreyan Gods, she could no longer ignore the cult's rise.

Raveena gently squeezed her father's hand. He knew what to say to bring her back to reason. It was true. He had taught her many things--and though she sought to try and do things differently, this was an art form that did not change. And so, she would heed his advice. She had liberated Hyperion of it's crazed influence and they looked to her for answers. They bathed in her divine light and saw nothing but the veritas of it all.

The Gods were known for their peculiar ways, cruelty among them. Rafael was correct, though. She sighed and set the bleeding apple down, taking time to wipe her lips clean and down the rest with her water. She did not want to be Corvus--but that was denial she needed to shirk off. Corvus was she, and she was Corvus and whatever unspeakable horrors Corvus was capable of, Raveena could execute with equal or greater measure.

"There are a few things I want to dabble in. A.M. Tech is thriving with its ideas, but it still needs a platform. Voice and traffic seem like the two most insignificant of what I hope to accomplish, but are in fact the two biggest weaknesses in the Rising West. People love to talk. Letters love to be written. I trained my magic to identify eyes so that the truth can be revealed to those eyes only." She gently tapped on the dossier, "Anyone reading this but you and I and those keyed for it see a very engaging but useless essay about different species of Patian mushrooms. But it's still not enough. Alethea is modernizing and Kyros is right behind it."

Raveena pulled the dossier closer to her. She turned it around and took her time to organize it and shuffle the papers neatly. She smiled at them but inwardly she knew her father was correct.

Defense was only one half of things. Her offense would be unrelenting.

"I will bring what's left of the council to its knees."


But I will cripple them severely before I do.

Edited by Malintzin

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