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Masquerade! Every face a different shade!

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Crowley slipped into the crowd, making his way towards the feast as people stumbled past, sloshing drinks and swaying to a rhythm he didn’t feel. The air was filled with music, warmth, wine, and laughter, and all the other necessities of a crowning celebration. He’d forced himself to come, with the argument that he needed to make an appearance, to show that, yes, he was alive and had officially returned to the court.

Now, that same court eyed him with thinly veiled suspicion. Every now and then he caught a glimpse of disgust or outright hostility. Whispers followed at his back like the faint buzzing of flies—some people even pointed. Rude, but more than well-deserved.


It wasn’t a title he’d come to terms with yet. His life wasn’t something he’d come to terms with yet. To the callow gladiator he’d been all those years ago—when all that mattered was coin, glory, and the fight right in front of him—it would’ve seemed like a wicked, cosmic joke with no punchline in sight.

He’d drawn the magic sword.

He’d gone on a quest to gather the chosen few.

He’d been named a hero by the people.

He’d become a mass murderer and a traitor to his friends.

And now I’m here, he thought. One wrong turn down the road too deep. Trying to get back on the right path, or at least one that wasn’t paved on good intentions alone. Maybe he’d still find hell waiting for him at the end, retribution for what he’d done. Until then, he’d have no choice but to find a way to live with himself.  

You look like you need a drink,” Orenmir said, a cold presence whispering in his mind. It preferred to hide when there were other people around, and not always in his shadow alone.

“An excellent suggestion,” Crowley said. He brushed past a few partygoers at a table, then picked out a champagne flute and went to go sip it in a quiet little corner. A handful of people glanced as he leaned against the wall, recognizing him by the way lights seemed to dim around his person. Some decided to leave, but surprisingly one person stayed.

“Well,” she said idly. “One of us is going to have to go home and change.”

Crowley glanced at the woman, raising an eyebrow. She had white hair and pale skin. Full lips painted in black and deep eyes ringed in kohl. She wasn’t wearing a mask, nor even a dress to match the hundreds of others in the room. Just a crisp black uniform that reminded him all too much of his own.  

“Well,” he said, matching her lilt. “I’m obviously the prettier one, so it’ll have to be you.”

He snatched a wine glass from a passing servant, then held it over to the woman.

“That was a joke, by the way. I’m only mildly cuter. Why don’t you keep me company here instead? We can talk about boys and how much they suck.”



Adrya managed to bluff and walk her way through the majority of the castle’s defenses. The uniform did wonders to avoid suspicion. Barely anyone had the wit to question her as she passed. Prior knowledge of the guard’s inner workings also had a hand in getting her this far, but she was growing rather fond of the jacket—not only did it look good, but it did most of the work for her.

Once she made it past the servants’ quarters, down a set of stairs, and into the basement cellar, it was easier to sneak around. Much easier, she found.  Fewer eyes, dimmer lights. Patrols who didn’t take their jobs as seriously as the ones upstairs; people who needed watching were in the ballroom, indulging in the pleasures of wine, song and dance.

Moving swiftly, Adrya ducked around a corner at the sound of slow-approaching footsteps. She’d been listening more intently since bumping into Crowley. She couldn’t afford another surprise like that again. A servant holding a bottle of gemwine passed, accompanied by an officer dressed in navy blue. They were chatting about getting together for a picnic, apparently having known each other well. Adrya waited until they were out of sight, breathing in the scent of crumbling brick and dried oak. She checked her surroundings before stepping out again. Better to avoid confrontation if possible.

She reached the crypt not much later, its vaulted ceiling held aloft by squat stone pillars. Coffins decorated the occasional platform, illuminated by the amber glow of lightstone sconces. Adrya remembered coming down here with her father—a single visit had been enough to satisfy her curiosity—less for the sake of historical ambiance and more for the purpose of pleasing a King who liked to flaunt his own possessions.

Damien always had a morbid sense of humour. At least some good had come out of exploring the tomb. Had Adrya never accompanied the King, she would have never discovered the location of the royal vault.

There. A wrought-iron door nestled away in an innocuous little passage, no different than the many others she’d passed on her way throughout the basement.

Adrya shot a look over her shoulder. No one had followed her so far. Hopefully this would only take a minute but knowing her-

Fuck,” she hissed.

The lockpick snapped like a pencil. Twist, click, chunk, of course it would. It was in situations like these that she wished she’d invested more time in the art.

Breathe. Try again.

Adrya looked around a second time, checking to make sure she was still, in fact, alone. With a deep breath, she tried another pick.

Twist, click, unlock.

The door swung open on well-oiled hinges, revealing yet another set of descending stairs. Adrya silently cheered at her own success.

Down she went deeper into the castle.

Edited by Wade

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@Dauner Light


This couldn't get any better, sensing the auras of the people who were starting to loosen up were coursing through his veins as he continued to dance and show off some incredible complex footwork. The ladies getting closer and closer till they smacked her hips against his and he grinned.

"Hola señoritas." He wrapped his arms around two of the ladies that smacked into him with their hips on purpose. "Maybe if we get some alone time..we can spend it together.." He kissed the woman's cheek on his right side, giggling towards his affection while the one on his left side placed a hand on his abdomen feeling does tight abs of his as she bit her lower lip. "What about me?" She asked. 

Jack looked at her as well and smirked. "Oh, that includes you as well, sweet heart." He kissed her cheek as well, incredible as it was. Getting a group of people dancing on the dance floor, finally there was some action going on and he wasn't talking about the women who had their hands all over his body as they danced.

But he could feel around the area how the people were loosening up and it made him that much more excited, he really could use this to relax because every since he made himself a name he was on the quest of power, making himself the strongest and most powerful Demon that would ever live. 

However, to achieve that it'll take more time than he originally expected or calculated, he is already 3000 years old and is strong as ever but he wants to be stronger and he doesn't know if it would take another 3000 years to accomplish his goal.

His trace of thought would end when someone was making his way towards him, it was Dauner the guy he saw earlier sitting alone in a corner, contemplating what to do. "Thank you." He said briefly towards his compliment that he had good moves, but he was still dancing, however he extended his hand and gave it a squeeze before shaking it. "Jack, Jack O'Neal." He presented himself as he and the women lashed on to him danced, they were really attractive and eye catching. 

One had a red dress with chestnut brown hair and blue eyes, covered by a mask with gold designs to it she had the most potential which was rivaled by the other women who had green eyes and black hair with a black dress and she was wearing a black with bronze details mask

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"Haven't you had enough?"

Rufus looked at his sister from across the carriage, but continued to inhale the smoke from his pipe. Once he had taken in the vapor he held it in for a few moments before exhaling a series of rings; each smaller than the last.

Aura raised an eyebrow, "Very impressive."

"Your sarcastic tone would imply otherwise," coughed the Head of House Viridis. 

The golden haired woman sighed, "I think you've numbed yourself enough."

"I disagree," replied Rufus, taking another drag from his pipe before continuing, "I can still feel my toes."

Another sigh, but this time his younger sibling snatched the pipe out of his hands and held it out of his grasp. Rufus struggled to take it back, but with his senses dulled he was no match for Aura. Giving up, he leaned back in his seat and glowered at her.

"You're my sister, not my nanny."

"That's why I'm worried about you," her tone softened as she spoke, "You haven't been sober since we landed on the Isles."

Rufus looked away, not wanting to see the concern in his sisters eyes, "I don't want to be here Aura. You know that."

"I do," she acknowledged, "But we've no choice. You made father a promise before he died. You have to see it through!"

"So I'm to be punished for comforting the old man on his deathbed?" he grumbled, "I only said it to ease his passing."

"If that's how you really felt, you wouldn't have come back at all." Aura replied, taking his hand in hers, "I know it's hard. But this is the first step. We need to make a good first impression on these people. So pull yourself together, and get through this like I know you can."

Rufus didn't answer right away. He closed his eyes, and focused on his body; willing certain processes and reactions into motion until, in a matter of minutes, his body had purged the intoxicants from his system. 

"You're not stopping me from hitting the bar."

"I had no illusions otherwise."

The pair remained in silence for the rest of the way to the manor. Upon their arrival, they each donned their masks; a simple red one for him, and a Gold one for her. Then they walked into the party to see what the evening held for them.

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pluto had come to the masquerade by himself. Not a part of an entourage nor did he follow behind the Hildebrand family, but as an independent party, Pluto had come to the masquerade. It was an unusual choice to make for himself, a servant attending a party without their master, but it was not at all unusual if provided context, unless his reason to attend was far more unusual. He had left Ravenel Manor for one thing and one thing only: to run away.

And not running away from his duties, pah, he would never do that, who would ever—? No. He ran not from his duties but from a voice. It started ever since that day, ever since he had seen Crowley in those woods. Only he could hear it and only he could feel it. Every night and every waking hour, something from the deep bowels of the earth would come for him—ripping apart the ground with it's iron claws to open a ravine beneath him—to bear it's fangs and whisper to him in a horrifyingly baritone voice.

Guttural. Colossal. If he were to describe it, it was almost as if he had listened to . . . a dragon.

Men and women clapped to a wondrous rhythm; they sang at the top of their voices.

Fingers laden with black gloves trembled; shaking the stem of his mask in his hand. His consciousness drifted back towards the party, to the voices of drunken laughter and lively music. To the sun-kissed ballroom radiating with radiance. Yes, of course, Pluto thought to himself, almost embarrassedly, The masquerade. 

Though a servant through thick and thin, he was a servant and a swordsman who held a sense of propriety. He was a seneschal, a servant who ordered other servants, so he must hold himself with a higher solemn manner compared to cookmaids and cleaning butlers. He was a swordsman of the Orchid, so he must stand tall with elegance and militarist pride. His attire was ornate, though that may be credited to the jacket on his shoulders. His mask was golden, something he had made for himself. It was a complex gilded design; a half frown and half smile that masked his entire face. Pluto hid the crest of Hildebrand in his pocket, in fear it would ignite gossip and curiosity. 

Beneath his mask, his eyes paced back and forth until he decided to revel in his anonymity. Nobody knew, so nobody will ask!

He found himself escaping from the crowd, gliding across the dancefloor with utmost ease, entering the next room to explore. He had seen men and women, men and men, women and women partaking in one another with romantic passion; Pluto felt a timid embarrassment upon noticing their bold display of public affection, so he strayed away into the quieter regions of the party.

The garden. The place he truly enjoys the most. 

The warm colors of the masquerade reflected on his porcelain body as he paced down stairs lit by torch and candlelight. Strangely, he found himself drawn to it. The fire. They were like tiny dancers. Hypnotizing and beautiful. Urging him to look closer, tempting him to grasp it like a moth to a flame. In that moment, he reached to it. He reached the last step, but now he inched close to the fire within his reach. It called to him. It beckoned him. It spoke to him.


"Oh!" Pluto exclaimed. He had not noticed the woman that found herself slammed against him. Or was it him that slammed into her? He lowered his mask and anxiously assumed a posture of apology. "I'm sorry, my la—I mean, miss," he said, with an air of boyish innocence one would expect after accidentally hurting a woman, "are you quite alright?"

Pluto did not see her, but neither did he see the men and women sobbing into their sleeves.
Edited by SweetCyanide

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Riha was positively sprinting to keep up with the damned sprite, her heels clicking loudly as she ran. Teasing and cursing her out as it went, causing misery to those it flew over. Riha upturned the tray of a servant as she ushered past them, the resounding shout and shattering of glass lost to her as she continued on. Riha knew she was causing a spectacle, but the consequences of leaving that brat to its own devices would be twice as bad as an overturned tray. It was common for her to lose track of the world around her when dealing with a task or a mission, a shortcoming of hers that she didn’t mind to correct. Her twin was likely to be throwing a fit by now if she hadn’t already by Riha’s behaviors, but once she caught that fairy her actions would explain themselves. 

The end always justifies the means, Old man Uldwar always used to growl that at her. But to what end did his means bring him? Not a good one, that was for certain.  

Not paying attention to where she was going, Riha plowed straight into someone else. The solid mass colliding with her already battered self and she stopped quite abruptly. A small oof escaped her as she attempted to prevent herself from toppling over. She regained her bearings enough to hear the politest of apologies and looked up to see a face quite unlike one she’d seen before. Not only had she run into someone, but it was a complete and total stranger minding his own business. 

“Ah - no - it was me.....” She bowed quickly, her mask toppled off and she had to scoop it up. 

Riha was quick to put it back on lest he notice the offending gash on her face. It didn’t embarrass her, she just didn’t want to answer questions about it. 

“I’m sorry.....I lost track of where I was going.” Her eyes scanned the gardens to find the fairy torturing more guests. 

She would have brushed past him without another word, however something caught her attention about this particular guest. His aura was ..... well ..... she didn’t know what she was seeing. Lavender eyes squinted and she tipped her head, even bothering to take off her mask to look closer. She’d read all kinds of auras, humans, vampires, bugbears, if it walked the earth she’d read it - yet this one was a first. Sure, it was rude to stare, she’d been beaten plenty of times for it as a kid. But she just couldn’t help herself. 

“I.....um.... I was chasing after a misery fairy.” She offered by way of explanation, she pointed to the sobbing guest in a flower bush  “It’s just over there, I was hoping to stop it from causing any more damage.....” 

His aura was too distracting to think around it and she had to force herself to look somewhere else. Now she was really torn - her night of to do’s just kept growing. Catch the fairy, meet with the dryads, figure out what the heck she was seeing in front of her with this gentleman. Odelia was right, this was turning into quite the party. 

“If you don’t mind my asking -“ She was stepping over what would consider being rude, “But - Ah, well never mind on that one. Mind helping me catch that miserable fairy?” 

Perhaps she would use the time to figure out the conundrum that was in front of her and take care of a problem all at once. 


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0JTdvJv.pngAustere tucked Odelia's hand in the curve of his arm and gently guided her out to the covered terrace. The night air was relatively fresh, but it was also swarmed with the celebratory noises that now poured from the grand ballrooms and beyond. Grateful to be away from the busy crowd, he can enjoy a moment with his wife. Life has undoubtedly kept them preoccupied, and he hopes to rectify these terrible instances with some well-deserved attention to her person.

The elf guided his imp to take a seat on a stone bench swathed in the moonlight. When she took her place, he joined her; lacing a long arm around her waist, he pulls her close so they can enjoy this moment of silence together.


Killian is a mother-hen. He made sure Austere knew that Odelia had been feeling a little under the weather, and in his own way expressed his worry that she may be feeling ill. Austere, being oblivious to most things, assumed it has to do with the sudden weight of responsibility placed upon his imp's shoulders. Milorian now sat on the throne as King, making Austere and Odelia Lord and Lady of the house. The decision came with some minor backlash from their older siblings who were still feeling the wounds of the past and refused to accept the current. But neither Odelia or Austere had time to even worry about the opinions of the siblings, they were too busy trying to acclimate to their new titles.

He held her left hand in his ever so casually, thoroughly enjoying the closeness and uninterrupted moment. Sure, they had found seconds in their busy days to see one another, but he felt like it just wasn't enough and he regretted leaving her mostly alone.

"My mother has told me you've gotten accustomed as Lady of the house," he said, raising her fingers to his lips briefly. "You're not feeling overwhelmed, are you? If it's too much, you can always have Marina help you."

Marina, he thought sadly. The young lady has been met with some terrible luck, and the wounds she has acquired are not the sort time, and medicine can genuinely cure. He made the suggestion to Milorian that perhaps it would do her best to live with him in the castle, give her a reputable position that could possibly brighten her spirits. The Free Marches just held too many terrible memories for Marina and Austere hates that she can't seem to escape her current situation. Gerald had left, marring the brightness that had once cloaked the young woman with immense eagerness.

"I thought that maybe we could run away, yes? You, myself, and Easton - go somewhere we can't be found for a few days."

Easton had eagerly set aside both his parents to take control of the grand castle, keeping Milorian and Birdy preoccupied with his childish curiosity. The sweet boy had attached himself to Odelia the first week she had arrived in the Free Marches, but somehow still showed how much he favors Milorian above all the rest.

"Or perhaps just you and I? I have a feeling Easton has completely abandoned his parents for greener pastures," he says, gesturing to the grandness that is the castle and its beautiful surroundings. "I think we're perpetually stuck in the number two spot, forever overshadowed by the magnificence that is Milorian."

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9TV3flF.pngLyrei had been kidnapped by an all too eager gentleman who is up to his ears in wine and sweets; the amount of liquid courage flowing through his veins was admirable enough to keep Delaney bemused and minorly alert. The elf wasn't some delicate creature who needed constant protection, she had become a reasonably worthy person fitting into society and such. For tonight, she can have her freedom without Delaney or Milo breathing down her neck.

"Mm, what you say is debatable, to say the least, Ser Crowley."

She grasped the offered drink between gloved fingers and saluted him graciously.

"Standing next to you will do nothing for my reputation."

If she were the dramatic sort, she could say how much he smelled like blood, how a majority of such came from the very House she has sworn her life to protect. The failures of such an avowal are burned into her flesh and memory, becoming constant reminders that she was no innocent creature herself. Things could have gone better, but there was no use in trying to overthink on the past while they have a future and present to enjoy.

In her case, company and wine to enjoy.

"I had hopes of finding a husband tonight, and yet here I am next to possibly the most hated individual in Ursa Madeum. You've scandalized me."

Delaney smirked against the rim of her glass, hinting that she was being rude and teasing him in the driest fashion possible. Everyone at this party has thus far moved away from him as if he was diseased, others were bold enough to throw him dirty looks and sneers. A tad rude when you could barely move without bumping into someone who had spilled blood for what they believed was for the greater good. Crowley had just become the unfortunate depository for everyone's hate.

Taking one final sip of her wine, she relocated the glass to a passing tray. She never was a fan of wine.

"Would you like to dance or would you rather sulk in some dark corner?"

The Seeker turned and held out her hand for him to take. Whether she'd lead them to the dance floor or the dark corner previously mentioned is all up to him.

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Image result for alternate scp symbol

"Ursa Madeum Negotiation Mission"

Mission Log: Day [1]
Assessment: Subterfuge complete, parameters set in place. Beginning negotiations

        6 has been recovering after his last debacle within the Orisian isles, but the council decided his wounds were not severe enough to excuse a medical leave and he was assigned a new mission, one of negotiating with a newly crowned monarch. 

        If he was going to do a mission though, he was going to do it his way, and he certainly loved flying.

        The hum of the magi-tech engine fills the interior of the plane, as they descend from the sky, lighting the clouds with a warm blue hue. "30 thousand feet" the pilot spoke, the 4 suit-clad men tightened their ties. "20 thousand feet", the 4 men put on their backpacks. 

        The next transmission would be cut, as the magi-tech engine would choke and send its last burst of energy. "ENTERING URSA MADEUM AREA OF INFLUENCE, DROP IN 5.... 4.... 3...." the doors open;

        "...1, HAVE A FUN TIME BOYS" the pilot shouted with a grin and a hint of excitement. The 4 men dropped in sync and formed an X shape with their body to slow their descent. They were still falling fast, but the clouds parted enough that they could see their drop point; a gleaming castle of splendour architecture amidst the darkened skies of Ursa Madeum.


         Another day, another mission. 

         No rest for the weary. 


        Each pulled a chord, and each of them produced a hexagonal-shaped parachute from their back, with the clear emblem of the VCF imprinted on top, the black symbol seemingly integrating itself to the night sky. They reached their rendezvous point on time and location; 300 meters away from the castle to avoid suspicions, they stuffed their parachutes within the bag and set it beside a tree.

[Translated from Foundational dialect]

        "Very well gentlemen, on-field briefing begins now. No one is to use our agent number or real names. Fox, you will be designated 5 and will be my second in command. Cryst, 3. You will be following Lyle, 4. I assume you all know your tasks." 6 spoke, to which everyone nodded in unison. 

        "Very well, sync up your watches" 6 continued, pulling up his watch with the others following suit. Each pressed the edge, a tick following after. "From this point forward, as far as anyone's concerned, we've all never met." with everyone nodding suit, none daring to utter a word.

They all split in different directions, each having their own assigned task to accomplish. 3, 4 and 5 disappeared, leaving 6 to enter the castle alone. Before he leapt onto the main road, he donned a simple mask, white with distinct details of the structure of his face, almost as if it was a second skin.

        He walked up to the castle doors, a magnificent building with much history behind it, he is sure. Luckily it's a negotiation mission, would be a shame to reduce such grand architecture to rubble.

        He entered the building, jam-packed with royalty and commoner alike. He shoved and nudged his way through, being on a tight schedule, as usual. The council expected results, quickly too. He mustn't exceed 72 hours, and he surely knows how quickly time can pass. 

        He goes through the ocean of people, faces melding together to an indistinguishable sea of identities, voices syncing to an indiscriminate hum. Walking up to the main crowd, he saw the king standing there with a lady dressed rather finely. The king was no slouch either, his suit was tailored well to his body and paired nicely with his naturally attractive face. It was odd, the newly crowned monarch as of the moment didn't have a line of people willing to talk with him. All the better for 6.


        He straightened his dark tie and pulled down his dark suit, he mustn't look tardy nor dishevelled in front of the new sovereign of Ursa Madeum, no he must be well-dressed and his manners in check. He put on his best voice and confidently strutted towards the king. 


        "My liege, it is an honour to finally make your acquaintance," he spoke to the monarch as he bowed his head down, hands in the proper position. Introductions are a crucial part of negotiations, and his was a routine well trained; all the right moves in all the right places to show his submission towards a superior authority, without degrading himself to a lowly commoner.


        He pulled out a small wallet-shaped badge holder, a thin veil of leather holding a card within. He opened it to show to the king, and within there lay a small metal sheet, with the mark of the VCF within. 

        "My sincerest congratulations on your new title as monarch of this domain, may your reign be long and prosperous. I am a representative of an organization, and I have been sent here to conduct negotiations. Is there perhaps a place more... Private?" he asked, still always so formal and polite.


Information to be known:

Related image-6's current appearance

Image result for alternate scp symbol -Badge Emblem

Image result for modern welrod-6's only sidearm, "FIUM-Negotiator", gunpowder flint-lit pistol [single use]

Directed: @Aleksei

Within Earshot: ? ? ?

Mentioned/referred: N/A


Edited by Sanonymous

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“Well, you see,” Crowley said as he drank the last of his champagne. “Sulking in dark corners is kind of my thing. No one does it better than me.”

He set the glass down on another passing tray—there seemed to be a lot of those, lately—and regarded her hand with an expression caught somewhere between amusement and reluctance.  

“But I suppose,” he continued, shooting a glance at the rest of the ballroom. “That a dance couldn’t hurt. Unless we’re still talking about your reputation.”

He took her hand into his, calloused fingers brushing against soft leather.   

“Just don’t step on the shoes. Took me a whole minute to get them this polished.”

She led him deeper into the venue, and he graciously allowed himself to be led. Heads swiveled as they wove their way through the crowd. It was almost comical how the two of them left a trail.

The dance floor, already brimming with people, swallowed them in a wave of music and swaying bodies. Crowley surveyed the sea of masks, the colourful ball gowns and jewelry, the way everything came together in a portrait of glaring extravagance.

And there they were, dressed in black.

It was odd, but he remained silent. There was something to be said about embracing your own strangeness. If people were going to talk, regardless of what he did, he might as well give them something to talk about.

Crowley placed his free hand on the small of her back, while the Grand Seeker returned the gesture by cupping his shoulder. Together, they started to turn, first slowly and then steadily, always facing each other with eyes locked. He wondered why she hadn’t bothered to wear a mask.

“So, Delaney,” he said quietly, foregoing the use of her title. “What’s it like being the king’s new bodyguard? Can’t be too stressful, I imagine.” A lazy smile creased his face, small enough that it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Or maybe it is. Keeping an eye on me, keeping me within arm’s reach…”

He twirled her around and brought her back.

“I can understand how that might fall under your job description.”



Step, step, step. The sound of her own breathing. A rush of anticipation, building in her chest.

Adrya followed the dark tunnel, listening to each of these things in turn. The sounds of the party were far away, smothered into nonexistence by layers of ancient stone. She found herself all alone—something that didn’t bother her as much as it had once before. The silence wasn’t comforting, but it was familiar in a way that made it feel inconsequential.

No, what worried her the most was what lay up ahead: one last hurdle she’d have to leap.

A moment worth years in the making.

She couldn't screw it up.

Reaching a bend, she heard voices drifting from the other end of the tunnel. Tinny and warbled, suggesting guards armoured in full sets of plate. A steady, continuous light emanated from a room just up ahead. Adrya slowed, hugged the wall, and fetched a metal cylinder from inside her jacket.

Step, step, step.

The sound of her own breathing.

A rush of anticipation, but now it was all afire in her veins.

One of the guards, which she could see clearly now, was leaning against a pillar. True to her suspicions, he was dressed in plate, balancing his halberd in one hand like an unruly burden.

“…and I’m telling you, it doesn’t make a lick of sense,” he said. “Why does Sylvain get the night off? Man’s the biggest loon of us all, couldn’t even polish his own armour if his life depended on it.”

Another voice chimed in. “So you should be the one getting knackered, is that right?”

Adrya continued to inch forward. She didn’t have an angle on the source of the second voice. He was around the corner by the sound of it; there were probably more inside than just the talkative pair.

“Naturally,” the first guard said. “Thanks to a little something I like to call seniority.”

“Rubbish. I’ve got two years on you, you janky little swine.“

“Shut it, you daft tits.” This voice belonged to someone else. It had slightly more paunch than the other two, sounding older and gruffer. “Sylvain’s not on duty because his wife went in labour this afternoon. Now quit slouching and-“

The voice stopped. Adrya saw the first guard look over to his right. “And what? Gonna tell me to readjust my knickers? Should I maybe put on some makeup for you, dear?”

“Quiet, you idiot!” Surprisingly, the man listened. “Do you hear that?”

Everyone paused.

“Yeah. Sounds like…hissing?”

As if on cue, Adrya tossed the bomb she’d lit into the room. She didn’t see it bounce and roll to a stop because she was crouching and holding her hands to her-

THWOMP! Thunder shook air, cracking stone and raining dust. Gouts of bulimic fire—igniting packets of wyvern oil tucked within the bomb—swallowed the guards, consuming the entire room in a blinding flash powered by arcane glyphs. Adrya felt the heat reach into the corridor, clammy and oppressive against her skin. Several seconds passed before the eruption relented—a few more before the screams of the dying ceased.

Unclenching her teeth, Adrya stood up and entered the room.

The blast had scorched nearly everything in sight. Adrya felt her chest tighten at the destruction as she walked through it all. Banners and tapestries, gone and reduced to silent piles of ash; stone pillars blackened to a char, glassed in a few areas around the point of detonation; soldiers bent at all the wrong angles, encased in suits of still-bubbling metal.

Adrya didn’t check to see if they were dead. There wasn’t a shadow of a doubt in her mind. She counted five bodies in total, three of which likely belonged to the men she’d overheard earlier-


The blow caught her along the arm as the halberd swung out from around a pillar. She barely managed to dance away, staggering back into a semblance of a guard. The remaining soldier—a towering bear of a man, quickly joined by a hidden second—pushed forward, warding her away with another jab of his weapon.

Shit. Adrya was pressed back against the wall, blood leaking from her shoulder. The pain made it hard to think; he’d nearly sliced her all the way to the bone. She drew the stiletto from her sleeve, flipped the blade open with a snap of her wrist. It almost felt like a toy in comparison, pitted against something as far-reaching as a poleaxe.

The Bear stepped up, glaring at Adrya through the blackened wreck of his helmet. Must’ve survived by hiding behind the pillars. Him and his equally burnt companion. He swung at her face, scything the blow down from a steep diagonal drop, then at her chest as she spun away, moments before she threw herself into his space. The sudden momentum saw him attempt to rear back, to put as much space as between the two of them as he could. But then Adrya latched onto his collar and rammed her blade into the narrow slit of his helmet.

Chunk. A familiar sound. The sound of metal snapping like a pencil. The sound of the guard whipping his head back, reacting to a knife lodged firmly between the eyes. Adrya’s stiletto broke at the hilt, something she didn’t realize until she’d leapt away from the second guardsman. Looking around, she replaced it with a nearby halberd, severed in half so as to make a crude sort of axe.

The guard thrusted forward, aiming to spear her clean through the stomach. Adrya sidestepped, then again, while he cautiously pressed the offensive. He never strayed too close where she could surprise him in the split-second it took to make a mistake. Irritation swelled within her breast. She had to end this quickly, before anyone else came to investigate.

There. That was her opening. Fatigue and overextension. The guard had gotten tired, then impatient, and he threw too much of himself into his swing.

Ducking low, Adrya pounced. Her legs propelled her in a breathless surge of adrenaline. She swung wide, cleaving his midsection.

He toppled over in a dying heap.

Adrya bent over, suddenly exhausted. Her lungs burned. Her hands shook. She took a moment to look around, glad for the opportunity to catch her breath, and when she didn’t hear reinforcements coming from the hallway, she made her way to the far end of the room.

A large, singular door drew her to a stop. Unlike the other doors she’d opened so far, this one had a clear sense of finality to it. A dial at the centre, split into five rings inlaid with varying symbols, barred her from entry. The code was supposed to change at least once every month.

She pulled out another canister from her jacket. This one was different from the last one. No fire, no wyvern oil; just raw, concussive force. She removed a band wrapped around its width, exposing an adhesive that held it firmly against the door. She lit the cannister’s fuse before hiding behind a pillar, covering both ears with her hands.

CRACK! Like a thunderclap, the explosion shook the very earth. Adrya felt the shockwave run through her chest, deep and resonant as a punch.

She glanced around the pillar, squinting, first spotting the dust floating in the air.

Behind it, the door hung open.

She rushed into the vault. 

Edited by Wade

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The moment Austere’s arm wrapped around her waist and pulled her close she rested her cheek on his arm. Odelia took the rare moment to enjoy the rather romantic spot they sequestered to. When they first arrived in the Free Marches together, there was so much less responsibility. Sure they rarely had but a stolen moment or two together, but it was more than what they had now. There simply was not enough hours in the day to dedicate both to her husband and keeping their home running. To be able to steal him away, for him to grace her with choosing her over schmoozing at the party..... it made her nearly glow. 

She looked up at him as he asked her if she was doing better. The cool breeze, sitting down, being near him - yes she was doing better. Not the best she’d ever felt, but better. What she really wanted was to go to their room and sleep, throw up first, then sleep. Nausea was ever her companion lately, and while her husband was too busy to notice - others were not. 

“I am feeling - better.” She answered a bit cryptically, “The cooler air is helping. Having such a handsome escort helps too.” 

Despite her nausea she attempted to flirt. It wasn’t all too foreign to them, but still she had trouble initiating things at times. He took her hand and she watched him play with her fingers, kissing them occasionally and smoothing them. It seemed to be a habit of his, Austere likely never noticed, but Odelia certainly did. She noticed everything about him, right down to when he was too tired. His favorite tea that usually appeared in his workspace when he was up too late, the occasional treat left where he would find it - all her doing. While running the house Odelia secretly assured her Husband’s job was no harder than need be. If he didn’t need to be troubled by it - it didn’t reach his ears. 

He continued to express concern for her, asking if she needed help with her duties. For a moment her eyes strayed down to where his fingers rested just above where a little bump would soon form. Yes, she certainly needed help - but not for the reasons he thought. Would he be mad? Would her doubt his parentage? So many fears and so little time to overcome them. Tonight was not that night though, it provided another excuse for her to avoid it. 

“I am not overwhelmed.” She was quick to assure him, “I ran my father’s household quite well - and that was while dodging his blows......” 

Perhaps she could hint at it? Maybe he would figure it out on his own? Not likely given he was quite oblivious to most things. She even explained away the few times Killian caught her getting sick in a flower pot. An awkward encounter to be sure when she made him hold her hair back while she vomited and then demanded a lavender scone all in the same breath. 

“Though I agree that it would be good to give Marina a job. She seems so lost all the time. She and Riha would connect well over their losses I should think.” Odelia decided to be brave, “I will certainly need the help in the coming months. I fear we will have even less time for all our responsibilities, old and new.” 

Her heart beat a terrible rhythm, nerves threatening to upend her stomach right there. She managed to swallow them down and he changed the subject for her - suggesting they escape together for a little while. Gaia knew they needed it desperately, they’d never gotten a honeymoon following their nuptials. There was simply too much going on in their lives for them to make time for it. 

Bright eyes looked up at him with glee and she nodded her agreement. Her hand tightened in his as she looked down once more at her stomach - how had he not noticed the weight she put on at such an alarming rate? She would need new clothing by the end of the month at this rate.

“I -“ She swallowed, “I would really like to escape, just you and I. There will be plenty of times Easton can come along, but there wont be many other opportunities when it will be just you and me.....besides, he loves Milo. To take away Milo’s most trusted helper at such a time of need would be a crime.” 

She patted Austere’s knee with a twinkle in her eye. “Don’t you worry about that little boy abandoning us. He will have reason to spend plenty of time with us soon enough.” 

A soft sigh escaped her lips and she leaned into him once more, exhaustion pulling at her slippered feet. Odelia wasn’t one to let opportunity pass though and she was going to soak up this moment with her husband. She hadn’t used the ‘L’ word with him yet, but it dripped from every action and word she said. 

“I’ve missed you.” She ran a hand up his arm, “Maybe I am selfish - but is it so bad to want you to myself all the time?” 

Soon I will have to share you...... 



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Knowledge of all things arcane fueled everything she did; every place she traveled was because there was something new to learn. It was the reason for this particular quest to the archipelago islands southwest of Yh'mi. It was close enough of a trip, and after several days of travel by carriage and then by boat, she landed on the shores of Corinth near Ilvor. The climate was vastly different, which promised new vegetation which she could add to her ever-growing index and catalog of herbs and plants. A rumor of a masquerade floated about and didn't pique her interest until she heard of magical beings and witches being present. It was an excellent chance to learn new magick. 

She swept through the foyer with purpose, a blur of white, green, and violet, dressed in special attire which was not a typical affair for the young sorceress. The heart-line bodice of her white dress clung to her waist and hips before flowing out in a sheer curtain of white chiffon. As the skirt neared her calves, the chiffon seemingly faded to moss and small purple blooms, a fantastical gown expertly crafted. A matching mask made of moss only covered from her left brow, over the bridge of her nose, and her right eye. Large violet flowers decorated the simple mask, and live butterflies rested on them occasionally opening and closing their baby blue and black wings. 

Pausing at the entrance of the grand room, Iona's light green eyes swept over the crowd before seeing the door to toward the left. There was more movement there and probably where she would find others like her. Her right hand gripped the skirt of her dress and she hiked it up a fraction before making her way towards the ballroom, her heels clicking against the linoleum floor as she went. 

Iona's violet dyed locks were pulled up into a rose-shaped braided bun which provided an unobstructed view of the occult tattoos just behind her right ear, the base of her neck, and between her shoulder blades. As she stepped to the threshold of the ballroom, her left hand lifted and she covered her eyes. Her lips moved wordlessly as she barely mumbled archaic words with a sing-song quality. The rune at the center of her left palm buzzed as magick provided her a brief unobstructed view of what was around her, seeing what could not be seen. 

Her left hand lowered and her lashes lifted as she peered back into the crowd of strangers. Auras of various pigments moved across her vision, blurring together in a kaleidoscope of colors. It was beautiful and for a moment her breath hung in her chest as she watched motionlessly. 



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Even if she said she were fine, Pluto still had plenty of room to worry. Bumping into him was the equivalent of hitting your nose into a brick wall. Pluto and the enchanting stranger promptly exchanged apologies as he failed to offer to pick up her mask. He had one good look at her face before it was masked again.

Then she took off her mask. She started to stare at him as if he had something ungracious on his face. On his mask. Pluto suddenly felt conscious. Was it the design? Is the half-frown, half-smile too much? He found himself imitating her, tilting his head rather confusedly.

She was thinking about something. So he was he. 

If he were more of a human, the face of this particular stranger would have reduced his cheeks into a flaming spectacle. Maybe the way her dress hugged her body, too.

Fortunately, Pluto was unlike any other man. He was missing the one thing all men had. Manhood. Therefore, he had no ability or reason to lust. Though he admired her beautynow that this woman had pushed her face within an inch of his—was this really necessary? He lowered his gilded mask, stopping below his eyes where he stared into her eyes. Purple. Rare eyes. But so were his; a single glint of metallic silver, a rare eye.

“I . . . um . . . I was chasing after a misery fairy.” Pluto glanced to where she pointed. Someone was crying. But—a misery fairy? He's never heard of that before. 

"I've never heard of that before," Pluto said, absentmindedly.

He also froze in place.

He was in the presence of a courtesan!

He hesitated to offer her a flower, a Hildebrand tradition, but now that they've entered conversation . . .

"It’s just over there, I was hoping to stop it from causing any more damage . . ."

Though conflicted over to give or not to give the flower hidden somewhere on his body (obviously prepared in advance for an occasion such as this), Pluto looked, only now noticing the small number of men and women in the garden who were bawling their eyes into whatever they could grab a hold of; the ground, the garden statues, a nearby pillar or, each other. Or they sobbed into their palms. However they did it, they were a mess nonetheless. 

So, a misery fairy brings misery. Simple enough.

He brought up his hand, leathered with a black glove, and pressed two fingers onto the temples of his head. He moulded it, his mask; gold folded and melded as it obeyed his mental command, taking shape into a rather more casual version of his previous design. Still gilded and complex, but now shortened above his nose. Now he didn't have to hold it. His chin and lips were exposed.

"If you don’t mind my asking—“ Pluto turned to her; half his body bathed in flickering fire. It reflected against him. “But—ah, well never mind on that one. Mind helping me catch that miserable fairy?” 

Pluto is a rather altruistic servant—or improperly—an altruistic slave. He placed a hand to his breast and bowed at the shoulders. "Of course, Lady Carthrage." He'd made a mistake by addressing her as miss before. "It could be dangerous," he explained, walking forward as he loosened his gloves, "so I will shield you."

@DarkHorse @Aleksei
Edited by SweetCyanide

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ArITw9J.pngThe world of Valucre has certainly changed through the years; shifting and churning as the years, and the abundance of people occupy its beautiful expanse. With such changes come opinions that hash out what should be allowed, why it should be allowed, how it should be allowed - so forth and on. Though these mass-like opinions are based on years of truth and evidence; hardly items that should be avoided in any academic conversation. No matter how hard we wish to set aside nature for items that are deemed grander with splendors beyond any magician's imagination, nature does find a way to show its strength and power. As is the way of change.

Ursa Madeum is a place where nature has slowly begun to eat away the technological wonders of the world; magi-tech is also a victim to the loci growing in power and strength upon the islands. Planes, watches, guns, and their kind are all rendered useless once they are dipped in the wells of Ursa Madeum. Things have been ... exasperated, in a sense, due to the loci. Port Moon was relocated due to the technology it had supplied no longer worked or did not work correctly, rending the port useless - in a sense. Some individuals have left because their bodies functioned poorly, as the technology attached to them could no longer associate with Ursa Madeum.

That is the current state of the islands. Technology is no longer sustainable.

A bit of a loss, if Milo is allowed an opinion. Alas, he has little power over how the world operates, the best he can do is help his people acclimate to the changes affecting their land. His gestures are not very grand, or at least that's what Primera has told him - constantly. Bigger, louder, better! She says in that excitable voice, one can barely understand for her accent is terrible thick and just as exaggerated as her gestures. Unfortunately, the elf doesn't have her ... manner of expression.

"Milorian," Primera says, grabbing his sleeve to turn him around.

He turned in time for a new figure to make their introductions. In his blind eyes, the elf could see the outline of the stranger, his colors were muted and bland, which could say many things about a person. Knowing that this night was bound to bring out the notorious and opportunists, Milo deems this gentleman as dangerous until he can prove otherwise. Unable to see what the badge holder held, he turned to Primera who had simply shrugged with uncertainty.

"Of course, ser," Milorian says, giving the man a gentle bow with his response.

Primera bowed towards the two before excusing herself from their conversation. She would ensure that the King's whereabouts would be known though, so she watched as Milorian led the stranger into the lounge that is connected to a conference room. The woman assumes that is where the two will be conducting their meeting.

Once the two were in the conference room, Milorian offered the stranger a seat before sitting down himself. Private conversations can't be utterly private, not when you wear a crown have a title, but he will entertain this gentleman for a bit the best he can. Just outside the doors to the conference room are Seekers, individuals who've dedicated their time and lives to protecting the newly crowned King. Their ears will not be pressed against the doors, they allow the King to have a private audience - for now.

"How can I help you?"

Edited by Aleksei

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The slip of green fabric draped across the marble steps, fluttering upward with each ascending step like a reversed waterfall, narrated in sway by shapely hips that swept side to side like a pendulum.  Layers of sheer fabric painted the curvature of Rou Ji, tapered at the waist with gold fletching, and pinholed at the chest by a simple necklace.  Her hair was bound up, bangs positioned aside and her hair curled into a loose, full bun, kept it from obscuring her shoulders and back.  Her skin, dark and tan by nature, was unglamoured, not even to cover the few scars that decorated her skin like gentle etchings, with not even a fraction of the cruelty that saw them placed there.  The long scar running down the length of her spine was inadvertently covered by a suspended golden snake, embossed in scales, the only shielding from the night air and the many eyes behind masks.

Rou's own eyes, she'd not taken to place a mask upon her face, but rather painted.  With an artist's hand, she wore the guise of scales, the reptilian green highlighting the abrupt gold of her eyes, framed by dark liner.  She was not Eve in the garden, but the covetous, alluring serpent.  Were she a younger women, perhaps, she might've lured a naive thing among the mass to their damnation, but alas, she did not come alone.

"You know, Rafael's going to have a field day when he finds out who you came with," Rou warned Zenahriel, dressed in dashing blue and silver, his own mask doing a much better job of concealing his identity.  She gifted him a tilted smile, as they'd reached the paramount of the steps together, before Rou placed a gentle hand on his arm to halt, and fixed his tie.  Her eyes were fixated on the knot, adjusting with the pull of her fingers.  "Hope you've come to peace with it; you might be the only amusement he has, for awhile," she said, flashing her grin up at him.  With a shared look, it seemed they both were acutely aware of the severity of Rafael's attentions, but perhaps Rou had been the better judge of his ire.  She couldn't say she was glad to be rid of him, but she'd certainly been less sore.

Slithering her arm around his like a proper serpent, Rou guided them into the foyer, brightly lit, the occasional beam of light bouncing off the gold of her attire and reflecting on the walls like glass.  The music echoed even through the halls, though she hadn't quickened her pace, despite the others who brisked past the pair of An'She... well, one and a former"Before you ask, know that I've made up my mind," she said, looking sternly ahead.  Rou did not waver in her conviction, neither somber nor angry, but resolute.  "I can't return to Umbra or the East; I have to give the Empire it's best chance to succeed."  Complications were grave and delicate, as they'd unfolded strangely in the previous months, though the thought of having to face it, in truth, made Rou's stomach turn unpleasantly.

Tilting her head --never in any short supply of coy flirtation-- Rou smirked at Zenahriel, her simper the mask that disguised her guilt in the way that her scaling paint did not.  "Bold move, inviting a traitor to the ball.  I'd thought you to be more cautious than that.  We must be terribly good friends for you to stake on this..." she paused, looking drably around the grand room as they entered, vaguely aware of the political interest that had been dropped from her docket, "...dance?  Coronation?  It seems it can't decide.  Though, I can't say I'm stranger to the crowd that will have a party for any trifling reason."  Her purposeful humor made light of the event, but given that she'd relinquished her title, she hadn't seemed afraid of the consequences of disrespect.  That alone made her feel a bit more like the Buxom Bandit, pleased with herself that she hadn't lost her snappy wit.  "Though, I could really do some damage on an unchaperoned bar, for once.  Join me?" she asked, her voice nearly purring with invitation.


@The Hummingbird

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Beyond the borders of his donned guise, Zenahriel stared out over the great throngs of people. Of every race and lands they had come, droves of men and women – even children! – to celebrate the crowning of King Milorian. In respect and reverence, most everyone had dressed in their finest attire; velvet and satin gowns studded with diamonds, silk tunics chased with gold and silver seams, extravagant jewelry of the most precious metals and rare stones, and of course the masks. No one’s face was laid bare here; whether by plaster, plastic or paint or molded metal, all came disguised and unknown. There were foxes and wolves here, mingling among the faces of grand angels and fearsome demons. There were even stranger faces too, some covering the entire face with permanent smiles or a frown with a teardrop painted below the eyehole.

Zenahriel too had chosen carefully for this event. He had chosen a metallic blue suit that shone and glimmered slightly when he moved. The waist, collar, and custom tie were embossed with silver designs of elegant vines. Nothing overly flamboyant or eye-catching, but becoming beside those who had chosen the garish over a more discerning style. His wings were hidden away, for he did not wish to be known or garner attention here, when such belonged only to the King himself.

Beside him, Rou might have preferred paint, but Zenahriel had tied his hair back and donned a mask of carefully carved metal. It was done in a filigree style with red rubies adorning the black frame. While it truly did well to concealed his face, at the same time it accentuated his fine features. And there was no other mask like it; like his clothes, it had been custom-made and designed solely for him. The famous jeweler who had drawn the designs and set the stones was only too happy to provide for the High Lord when Zenahriel approached him with the request.

He looked down at his partner, made beautiful to ravishingly gorgeous in her flattering green gown and golden accessories. There were many unidentified ears here, and that made any place dangerous, and so he whispered more than spoke his words.

“Even he knows better than to strike me.” Zenahriel shook his head as she adjusted the tie. “He is fickle and violent, but he is not stupid.”

They moved into the foyer, where music echoed throughout the chamber and light shot across in slender beams. Tiny rainbows danced across the ceiling and walls as crystal chandeliers refracted the rays. Zenahriel sighed in contentment before shooting a glare at Rou. Yes, she had made her choice, but he still though it foolish. Even so, he did not broach an argument, for it was useless to try to change the mind of a woman such as Rou Ji.

“Keep your voice down,” he chided her. “There are too many ears here…” A woman, sporting long rabbit ears, brushed by. “… With some keener than others,” Zenahriel finished wryly.

With his arm hooked around Rou’s, he suddenly pulled her close, leaning over her like a man caught in sudden lust for his wife. “Hmm, a bold move? Maybe. But who could resist taking you to this event?” He pulled back and smiled rather wickedly. “Don’t get too close to other men, my dear. Their thoughts are often impure.”

He straightened and looked around, spotting the bar. Enormous in its initial state, the bar had been generously expanded and stocked to the brim with food and drink to accommodate all the guests. He didn’t wait for his lovely partner to begin; he started toward it, leading the way. “I don’t doubt you could do some heavy damage. Try not to get us in trouble,” he warned playfully. “Shall I order for us? Perhaps they have some Orisian house wine, a favorite of yours, yes?” he grinned.


Edited by The Hummingbird

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