There Will Be Cake (Moved from NS, Now Wrapping up)

Where nations come together and discuss matters of varying degrees of importance. [In character]


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Postby Roania » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:17 pm

The Freethinkers 26-04-2009 03:00
“It has been, interesting, I feel myself as if a faux pas” Clodius said, sparingly, “was committed by myself as well, though I cannot know what it was. I feel as if the etiquette of these events seems only to exist to catch us out.” He let out a short sigh, his expression dropping to linger on Nathicana. Beautiful, certainly, and the power she radiated was something drakes particularly found themselves attracted to. Perhaps unlike any other mortal being it actually made him feel more at ease. “I trust your, misstep in their eyes didn’t work out too badly for you. I must also compliment you on your sirelings, they have matured majestically from when I last remember seeing them.” He said this slightly odd statement with genuine admiration, and it was perhaps obvious this was something important in his own culture.

Sempero finally espied Alessa walking over, back to them, her eyes settling on him. He bit his lip, words failing for a moment, her smile and his sudden protectiveness leaving him for once tongue tied. She was beautiful, fragile and yet seemingly vitality itself. He felt himself shine in her presence, and her smile back was as dramatic as a sunrise. “Lady D’Aquisto, my Lord, my leave, if you may. Enjoy the evening and I hope to catch up with you later.” He stepped out, strangely confident and yet the gesture seemed hollow. The noise and atmosphere and eyes watching him reminded him suddenly of how alien his surroundings actually were.

And when Alessa strode up to him, taking his hand, all he could manage was a simple “hi.”

Clodius meanwhile watched his subordinate step aside, his eyes following his own compatriot, in almost a paternal manner, but not filled with pride or malice but a slight worry that seemed aimed not at the younger vampire but at something praying more deeply on his mind. A quick shake of his head, and he turned back to the Dread Lady, proffering a black clad arm. “Care to dance, my lady?” He said, trying to smile again, the effect distorted by the scars that adorned him.


Sarah on the other hand had watched both Radmiel and Daria during their discussion, stepping back to Henry as the idea of changing partners seemed to lose favour, their rivalry almost amusing had it not reminded her more deeply of events at home.

“I don’t think it matters much. If now is inconvenient….” She muttered the last bit, her words trailing off. “I would like to meet in the most relaxed manner possible, her schedule is busy tonight so I think pressing to meet her now would be unfair upon her. “ The Ghoul said simply, letting the matter slide. She moved closer to Henry, realising he felt so much stronger than she did right now.

At first she didn’t even notice Ranisath’s approach, though this was due to his grace and her diverted attention rather than any intentional sub. Taken aback slightly as for the first time that night she had to look up at somebody (barely, but compared to everyone else…) she stammered for a second, before restoring her confidence in a heartbeat. “Elenaran?” She said, half in rich supplication, half in a tone that stated she was unsure of the pronunciation. She hoped intent mattered more than precision. “A pleasure to see you after all this time.” It had been a long time, far more to her than to him at a guess, and the prior conversation had been all too brief. “An interesting choice of costume, my lord, very nicely completed, though I’m guessing the locals have had mixed feelings.”

She smiled, white teeth framed within a strong but feminine face, the crescent scar almost complimenting the gesture. Giant dark eyes looked over his form, cheeks bordered by blond locks with a darker blend than what seemed to be the preferred platinum shade. Sarah hoped, for selfish reasons perhaps, that she looked at her best. She wasn’t going to win any prizes for softness.

Dread Lady Nathicana 29-04-2009 02:06

Naiya smiled wryly, and nodded in agreement with Trevor’s assessment of things in general. “Too good by far,” she murmured. “In a fair world, he’d have been … removed a long time ago. But then, life isn’t always fair.”

She was rather enjoying herself, following his lead with a grace that seemed to surpass that of a standard human, though exactly what made it so was elusive. It was almost as though she could anticipate his intentions to a point, and was able to react quickly to the changes in step and direction. Still, it was a challenge. She was young yet, and while both trained and dexterous, was still learning.

“You’re a very fine dancer, Signore Desorté. I appreciate the invitation to join you tonight – it’s been delightful.”


Nathicana looked over Clodius with a quiet weighing and measuring sort of thoughtfulness as he spoke, and shrugged casually at the comment concerning the Roanians and missteps.

“Frankly, whether or not it worked out well for me or not, what was done on our parts required doing, and I’ve no regrets – other than being prevented by protocol from solving things more to my, ah, satisfaction.” Her eyes carried a hint of delightful malice at that last word, leaving no doubt of her intentions there.

It was gone in a flash however, as she offered a demure nod and smile at the compliment. “My sincere thanks, Lord Clodius. I’m rather proud of how they’re turning out, if I do say so myself. There was a time in my life I would never have imagined being a parent, but now … I’ve no idea what I’d do without them. I can only hope that we are doing all we can to prepare them for their eventual duties – as you well know, these political arenas are not for the faint of heart or purpose.”

Upon Sempero’s leaving, she tilted her head and offered him a friendly smile as well. “It was a pleasure, Warlord Sempero,” she said simply, noting the direction of his exit, then turning her attention back to Clodius.

“I would love to,” she replied to his query, her smile growing radiant as she looped her slim arm around his. Her tastes had always run along a broad path, and his scars bothered her not at all. In her mind, they added to his character – not that she didn’t care for the usual pretty face.


Looking out over the gardens below the balcony he’d found his way onto, Marcus let out a long, slow breath. He ran his fingers through his hair, then rested his hands along the railing, closing his eyes, letting the soft breeze flow over him, and initiated a mental exercise his father had taught him involving the Wind, the Flame, and the Void.

He takes his time, clearing his mind of all other thoughts, letting his body relax, his emotions still. His breathing slows, his brow loses its creases, and gradually he enters a quiet state of zen.

Massetti & Pascalli

Both the bodyguards kept a close watch, taking advantage of the benefits offered by the Sentient People’s technological gadgetry. After a brief exchange, Mas gradually makes his way across the room to where a certain pirate lady was standing, and offered her a little bow and a mischievous sort of smile.

“Begging your pardon again having to run off like that. You know how these shindigs can get – never a dull moment save for when you’d rather there not be, and then it drags like a dead horse. And again, Signora Resnick my thanks for the surveillance assist – even if it was a bit disconcerting there for a moment.”

Roania 29-04-2009 04:10

Alessa took his hand, looking up at Sempero, her eyes on his. After a moment, she stepped forward and leaned up against his chest, her arms around his neck. She stood on tiptoe and kissed him on the lips, unembarrassed by the presence of Clodius or Nathicana. “May I steal you away, then?” The young empress said, delighted. “It won't be long.”

Her attention drifted to Nathicana, and she now gave the woman the same searching examination she had given Marcus. She wrinkled her lips in confusion once more, but she was far too taken with Sempero at present to consider what she was considering the 'Naiya question' right now. The empress smiled vaguely at Clodius, and then began to draw Sempero after her. Perhaps she would follow through on her intention to get changed behind a curtain this time. Perhaps not. At present, her entire thought process was dedicated to enjoying every moment she had with the Freestian, certain as she was that he would be leaving her soon.

The Garbage Men

Nesar bowed low and led her to a quiet table off slightly to the side, but still offering them a commanding view of the ballroom as a whole. He snapped his fingers, and a servant passed by and filled their glasses. “To our businesses, then.” He raised his glass to Nerrida, his eyes on her, twinkling in a semi-mysterious way. “Long may we be paid, even when we aren't actually needed to do any work.”

New Naggoroth

Casir took Scarlett’s hand, and gently pulled her up, cradling her against his chest gently in a well-practiced manner. “Did you sleep well, Scarlett, Ellenith?” He put the small child down on the ground and held her hand a bit tightly, then looked up at Aeselle, smiling slightly. “Would you and your daughters like to come with me behind the scenes to the ceremony room? I'm sure my niece would appreciate it.”


Kyrie nodded. “Yeah!” She said, brightly and with enthusiasm generally unknown in the more sedate Roanians. “It is traditional in 88% of all societies to bring presents when visiting foreign leaders, and traditional in approximately 95% of all societies, religions and cultures to present a present when attending an individual's birthday party.” She beamed at him, proud of her ability to remember this carefully placed factoid. “In many cases, these gifts represent valuable cultural treasures from which a great deal can be learned or inferred from the offering culture! In addition, the Empress and her ancestors have grown to expect that visitors would present them with such gifts, and not doing so would probably be construed as offensive!”

Kyrie blinked up at Naragan, her eyes perfectly innocent. “I mean, if you'd want to keep your gift secret, then I guess I understand... I'll just ask the Empress if I can look at it afterwards!” She beamed at the idea, clearly wanting to be as accommodating as she could be for this man.

The Freethinkers 05-05-2009 01:43
Sempero was still slightly overawed by Alessa’s appearance, her radiant form, tender, fragile, perfection regardless, arose in him several strong feelings, of protectiveness, of chivalry, of honour, every subconscious and indeed conscious drive infatuated with taking care of this extraordinary creature before.

He could muster few words. “Sure, baby.” A soft hand took his. He stepped forward to Alessa’s side, placing one agitated arm around her, the strength inherent in the limb contrasting against the softness of the frame beneath. He gave one last look at Clodius.

The glance they exchanged was cold, a mixture of emotions, pride, envy, and most of all a soft wordless betrayal. Clodius faked a smile for the benefit of his dancing partner (although if she had missed the look itself he would be surprised.) They broke their mutual gaze, Sempero disappearing after Alessa, whose own expression changed to one of genuine delight.

The older vampire led the Dread Lady onto the dance floor, such as it was, grip consciously gentle as his thoughts drifted into distant memories. Only the start of the steps, which he mistimed, brought his concentration back to the present.

“My apologies, my Lady, that was rather rude of me.” He did not elaborate. “So, I trust your offspring have been enjoying themselves? As I was saying earlier, they seemed to have matured into fine young heirs. If I might assume, yours is a hereditary system of government, no?” The question was fractious but said with genuine affection. There was a weight to the words as if the man beneath was asking more how she coped with the system more than anything else. He seemed, for all the strength his body possessed (and which became apparent as he spun her round, his frame now matching the notes with inch perfect steps with both grace and solidity), almost tired, his eyes almost distant. His smile, now perhaps more honest, nonetheless seemed broken, the deep scar cutting up across his cheek dragging it out of place.

He looked old. Older than he should, as if realisation alone overrode his physical age to seemingly add years onto him. He looked deeply, his eyes meeting hers as she answered his question. Nathicana, there was a physical attraction, of course, she was beautiful in the sense vampires were naturally drawn to (strength and command, inherent in her body language, were survival traits in the solitary, nomadic ancestry of his species), but somehow all he seemed to want to see was, he subconsciously guessed, understanding.

“You know”, he said again, at last, after a particularly energetic twirl and looking around the place in a rather obvious fashion, “one of my greatest regrets was not attending enough of these things. I feel I missed out on a lot.”

Dread Lady Nathicana 05-05-2009 02:48
It was obvious more was going on than met the eye, and while curious as always, Nathicana had learned the hard way over the years that sometimes, it was best to keep one’s mouth shut, and one’s opinions or questions to themselves.

That and meddling, however well-intentioned, could be the last thing really needed, especially when done by someone who had barely an inkling of all the intricacies involved.

Maintain awareness, weigh as best as one could how the situation might affect herself and the rest of their party, and try to enjoy the rest of the evening – that was the plan.

She smiled graciously at Clodius, gently waving away the apology.

“It would seem many of us have much on our minds tonight, Lord Clodius. There is no need to apologize for the fact. Thank you again for the compliment – and … yes,” she said pausing to ponder the proper phrasing. “For the Dominion, it has become hereditary, to a point. When I changed things the way I did, bringing back the aristocracy, introducing the concept of heirs, I did provide for some checks and balances. It is my intention that Naiya rule when the time comes, but her choices and actions will dictate much of that. The same applies to Marcus and his father’s nation, Treznor – though there are … other circumstances that apply there as well. Things were not always this way, but we both have had to make changes in order to secure our children’s future as best we can.”

Nathi shrugged slightly, and smiled, perhaps a bit wistfully as they danced, her expression thoughtful as she studied Clodius’ face. She was enjoying the dance – she always had liked dancing, and he was a skilled partner – and the emotions that seemed to play across his scarred visage piqued her interest. For herself, she was relaxed, yet confident. Perhaps a bit cocky in that confidence, feeling she had little to truly fear here. Maybe even a bit superior, at least in relation to some in attendance. Such was her nature, and she was clearly unapologetic about it all.

“There are no perfect systems, and the weight that duty and responsibility pile on us – chosen or not – can be a heavy burden to bear. I can only hope that we have been teaching them all the tools they will need to rule, and rule well. I could offer some tripe about how ‘ours is a high and lonely destiny’, but I believe any one of us in a position of authority or who understands that weight of responsibility knows there can be a bit of truth to it all the same.”

At the comment on missing out, she arched a brow, her smile twisting slightly to one more of mischief.

“My dear, if you’ve not attended more of these, I can say with confidence that the answer is both yes, and yet emphatically no. As you’ve seen, there’s the usual bluster and preening and showing off for one’s peers, the political and social maneuvering that goes on, the drama behind the scenes that undoubtedly has at least a few persons stirred up, and let’s not forget the constant plotting and scheming, all done beneath a veneer of civility, decorations, food, and frolic. It’s a damned dirty game we all play, and anyone saying differently is either lying or unsuited to the task.”

Oyada 05-05-2009 03:47
“Ninety-five per cent of all societies”, Naragan mumbled, feeling a familiar sensation of slight, controllable, but very much present capybara of panic gnawing at the periphery of his consciousness’ cage. Twang! Eighty-eight per cent of all societies. Twing, twang, twong – where’s your present, then?[i] Erm, well, um… [i]oh, this is ridiculous, he grumbled in a silent internal growl. He should have known, naturally (for even he, with his detached and often solitary childhood, had attended birthday parties before); but worse, his own staff should have seen to it that a gift, suitably cleared by all of the dozen ministries, committees and other consulting bodies that would doubtless scrutinise its progress towards the halls of diplomatic gifthood, was ready and waiting for him. Now he had to make a decision on the matter, alone and without the slightest input from anyone else.


“I don’t exactly want to keep my gift secret, Kyrie” he responded carefully, murmuring the reply in his softest, most burring tones, lest it go too far and be picked up by one of the over-preened puppets who now stood watching Alessa’s stately progress onto the colossal dance floor. “I’d just like to know,” he continued with a bare-toothed abomination of a smile, “what you think it might be.” A glance at the archivist’s unspoilt countenance, however, quickly made him revise his course; already he could see a cloud of suspicion passing over her, and saw no sense in continuing such a pathetic deception when it had already been penetrated. “Well,” he added sheepishly, “if the Ministry had furnished me with one, anyway.” Glancing thoughtfully at Alessa as she began a swift whirl around the dance floor, clasped in the arms of some suitor who was, if not actually smitten, certainly working hard enough at the pretence to have earnt the wealth and power it would bring him, Naragan considered. “In my country – I’m sorry, in Oyada - it’s traditional to give something that matters to you, as a sign of mutual respect and admiration.” He fingered the dead fur of the tiger’s head. “Somehow I doubt that her Majesty would particularly appreciate a head. Besides which, it would merely be seen as a sign of weakness.” He turned sadly to Kyrie’s diminutive form, and added forlornly: “to give up one’s first kill to a fellow man, who treats you as an equal and is treated thus in return, is one thing. To give it up to a foreigner, an alien, a woman, who leads a nation seen as…”

Naragan stopped, remembering his earlier promise to himself. It wouldn’t be kind to tell Kyrie – who he privately thought of as Keiri – that her people were viewed as arrogant, decadent, despotic layabouts by his countrymen. Seemingly unknowing enough to believe anything, she would almost certainly believe that the perception extended, wordlessly and inevitably, to her, and Naragan knew, with more certainty than he’d felt all night, that that would be wrong, and a travesty of the truth. Well, assuming she was on the level, anyway.

“It wouldn’t go down well,” he concluded simply, and went back to staring, and thinking, and pulling half-heartedly at the fur.

The Freethinkers 06-05-2009 01:27
“You see…” He said this slowly, pausing for a rather dramatic dip, leaning in close, his eyes darting around the room as a natural reflex, switching focus and adjusting for the light in the briefest of moments. Clodius’ seemed almost twitchy, as if his very nature wouldn’t allow him to relax fully even in this situation. The move is again perfect, but his partner’s body leans against flesh that is not giving, but rather wiry and hardened in its resistance to the momentum of her reclining form.

“I don’t really get it that well. The polite verbal butchery that goes on in these places.” Clodius finished lamely as he recovered. He said this almost apologetically, as if it was basic knowledge that he was genuinely at fault for not knowing. “My culture at home is…bereft of such distractions. Ours is a bloody, brutal and direct culture, in the past anyway, and such duplicity I could never really fathom.” It would have been easy to make these words sound insulting against humans in general, but as he pulled Nathicana into another twirl the phrase seemed merely a tried observation.

“A drink?” He slowed as they passed a serving girl, his feet swinging in a single half circle to bring Nathicana to a graceful halt as he took a glass with his now freed hand. Wine, he couldn’t tell the origin, dull to his palette no matter how much he had tried to be a fan, but for now adequate. He sipped slowly, letting his dance partner take her own drink, before continuing with a question that had suddenly crossed his mind.

“You seemed concerned about the locals. Beyond usual bluster, I mean.” He took a quick but complete glance around him, as if trying to pick out faces. “Nothing you can’t handle, I hope?” He suddenly looked crossed with himself. “Sorry, I shouldn’t presume. Too much going on tonight.” A quick sip as he tried to find a good word. “It….concerns me, that’s all.” He took a step to the Dread Lady’s side, as if trying to catch the same view she did, feeling oddly alone right now.

Dread Lady Nathicana 06-05-2009 02:34
Nathicana’s still slender form held a firmness of its own, which she used to her advantage as they danced. To be fair, it’s a cheat of sorts. For though she had steadfastly kept in shape over the years, most was attributed to the body augmentations she’d received from her sister-in-mind, S.H.O.D.A.N. Which could also explain her quick reactions now and then, seeming almost at times to anticipate her partner’s moves.

She listens, however, trying to read his mood, the things he seems to be leaving unspoken, his expression, body language, voice inflections.

Rather than answer immediately, she nodded and smiled pleasantly, close-lipped as has become a habit when among the more combative or martial races. “Yes, thank you,” Nathi replied when offered a drink, watching him quietly as she took a careful sip.

“Let us say that some …” She paused again, weighing and measuring. “Some took it upon themselves to become a nuisance, shall we say. Perhaps, even intended more than that.”

Adjusting her position to more comfortably compliment his own shift, she gently looped her arm around his, and looked up at him, her expression smugly satisfied.

“I understand all too well the desire to know your enemy, and deal with them quickly, and efficiently, avoiding all the wit and banter and doubletalk. I was forced to disabuse them of further notions. Or at least helped them understand the tenuousness of their position should they make any unfortunate choices.”

Then she drew herself up, and motioned for him to lean in a bit, whispering fiercely.

“I don’t like it when people insult or threaten. Anyone who looks to harm me or mine will soon learn why it is I earned the title ‘Dread Lady’.”

Nathi then settled back to comfortably accompanying him, arm in arm, sipping her drink politely, her face and voice the very picture of perfect civility again. “It would be easier sometimes to just be able to fight it out. Might makes right and all that. The problem there is there always seems to be someone else with a bigger gun, a harder head, or a stronger punch. The constant war of words can be tiring, and dull – not to mention cowardly,” here she glanced in the direction of where she last saw Calavyr, “all the same.”

The Garbage Men 06-05-2009 04:26


There was something about Nesar that bothered her, he was a womanising leech but, the tone of what he said had just recently seemed to change, adding to the fact that he took her away from being near enough from Trevor that she couldn't physically step in... and then there was the offer of a drink.

But there was something curious about Nesar too, she was here as covert security and this, whatever it was could have implications of her boss’s security. She managed to keep an awareness of what was happening below with Trevor, but still looked at Nesar.

It was hard to read him, but there was something she needed, She clinked the glass with a slim smile before putting it back down on the table untouched. “I don't drink on the job.”


“You are a fine dancer yourself, the pleasure, as they say, has been all mine. However it's time to rejoin the fray as it were and return to business. I'll make sure I'll speak to Marcus, very soon.” Trevor came to a graceful stop.

“Thank you for accepting the invitation, it has been wonderful.” he added before starting to lead her off the dance floor.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Postby Roania » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:17 pm

The Freethinkers 08-05-2009 01:44
Clodius listened to the words with rapt attention, but his mouth and eyes seem at first distant, the wheels in his brain applying the words she spoke to situations he was familiar with, applying his limited experience of the locals as appropriate. It is on the phrase regarding her own that he looks again at her, eyes locking again, his look one of…respect. Not awe, but admiration, a peer impressed by her standard against his own. His smile reflected this, short, not jovial but warm regardless.

“I have no doubt.” Was his succinct reply, said with absolute conviction despite his voice being barely above a whisper.

“And for might…it is something as you said, you can never guarantee. And it is something easily lost.” He seems wistful now, memory clawing back to his very earliest days. “We were once taught about how mighty we were. Then it all was lost. Now we serve humans, ghouls. Good for the breeding pool and ceremonial guards and that seems about it these days.”

He took the Dread Lady’s arm with slight surprise, but took it to be local protocol and guided her hand with his own. Walking with her slowly he found her companionship oddly soothing. Her rationality a wonderful contrast to the emotional baggage Sempero seemed to carry.

“I must admit to admiring your dedication,” he said finally, “that perhaps I cannot fully say the same for my own.” A hint of sadness, a quick sigh mixed in with the final word. “No, I lie and I would. But sometimes I find the ones we sacrifice for seem unwilling to return the gesture. And I know how that makes me sound.” Clodius finished weakly. “But they…never seem to appreciate what you endured in your upbringing compared to them, and the efforts we make to ensure they never have to go through that. They, try you, sometimes.” He looked across at Nathicana. God she smelled wonderful, though again the usual associated emotions of lust and pride seemed to be absent. He squeezed subconsciously on her arm, the unexpected strength in her body he found comforting.

The Freestian hoped she understood what he meant. Perhaps she could explain if he was right or not.

Dread Lady Nathicana 08-05-2009 02:29

It has been a pleasure, Signore Desorté – I hope the remainder of the evening is a pleasant one for you,” Naiya replied with a smile and a nod, slowly making her way through the crowd after he takes his leave to wander in the direction her brother had last gone.


Nathicana returned the squeeze, her free hand resting over his own, lingering, one fingertip seeming to almost idly trace along very slowly as she pondered, then replied.

“My apologies if I seem to pry,” Nathi said carefully, trying to gauge his reactions as she spoke. “It doesn’t seem fair when the blood and sweat one has invested goes largely without thanks or appreciation. No one likes that. And while we can teach those who follow, there is no guarantee how much they’ll learn or understand. Sometimes things aren’t truly appreciated until one has sacrificed of themselves for them.”

She looks up at him, unblinking, keeping comfortably close and showing no shame in the least in how comfortable she seemed to be with all of it, and with him.

“I don’t claim to know your history, but I do know something of your reputation, and others. Why do you serve them? Why do you feel your greatness has been lost? And if so, what is it that keeps you from taking it back?”

The Freethinkers 08-05-2009 02:57
Clodius almost blushed as he felt the finger trace the skin, each gentle dip and trace across the pale scar lines by the wandering nail suddenly became fascinating for him. Her closeness too was somewhat unexpected, and he found himself uncomfortably off guard. And yet…he found in the same thought, the same breath this simple act was extraordinarily satisfying, and Clodius found himself relaxing even as his conscious mind felt troubled even by the introductory line to her question.

“Why do we serve them?” He lets the question hang on his lips for a few moments. “At first, I guess, it was a matter of equal exchange. Knowledge for civilization, a place within their ranks and numbers and cities, helping lead them through our lands. I remember the first Midlonians to land on our shores, scared, primitive, hopeless. Five hundred years ago that was. We were masters of this domain, they were weak visitors. But we learnt that for all our physical strength we could never hope to match your’ species’ incredible ability to adapt any environment to their needs. Slow persistence brought them far more safety than our guiding or physical strength could offer them…” These were sharp memories for him. He uttered the words slowly, trying to snap a long and complex history to a few short phrases. He couldn’t help but notice the movement of the people around him.

A lot of people appeared to be waiting for something to happen. Clodius bit his lip suddenly. “Time is far too short for the answer to your question Dread Lady. I have enjoyed our discussion…but…” He looked genuinely torn, as if the opportunity to get something off his chest for the first time in an age was escaping him. “If I may be so exceptionally bold and I pray that you don’t take this as meaning or asking for anything inappropriate but…” He sighed outwards, his voice suddenly becoming far firmer and confidant as he looked up at her again. “Would you care to join me after the ceremony for a brief sojourn or even just a nightcap. It would be nice to actually have an adult to talk to for once.” The barb’s target was all too clear even if he wasn’t around. Clodius had a flash of self-recrimination before recovering with a confident smile. “Yours or mine. I can bring a bottle of something if you would like. I promise my intentions are…purely honourable. Few show an interest in our story, and it is a good one to share…”

Behind him, the atmosphere was building.

Dread Lady Nathicana 08-05-2009 03:20

Nathicana was intrigued. More intrigued than she had been in a while now. About a number of things, once she stopped to think about it further. His hesitation, his obvious desire to talk, his own strong presence that contradicted the conflict he seemed to be going through …

She smiled, this time not fretting about keeping the white flash of teeth hidden, though the smile itself was quite genuine. “My dear, intentions aside, I’m a big girl quite capable of taking care of herself, her actions, her choices. And my children are old enough that I needn’t tuck them in,” she added wryly.

“I’d be happy to spend some time and continue our conversation, wherever you’d care to continue it. I’ve always got a spare bottle or two of Dominion Delacourt, or perhaps something stronger, if that suits your fancy. If you’d like to provide, I’ll be more than happy to partake. Look me up when we’re done here, hmm?”

Nathi lets her fingertips trace their way further up his hand, then along his arm, giving it a final squeeze before slowly starting to slip away while offering him a graceful nod, her expression slightly mischievous.

“It's been a pleasure, Lord Clodius. I look forward to seeing you later.”

The C’tan 12-05-2009 20:04
“Not really: I’m dressed as one of their favourite emperors. Only a few of them seem to think I’m going to a funeral. But then, such ambiguities are endemic in Roanian culture. Not that my own people are so much different, though we never developed an indigenous funerary dress code, we have many of our own cultural traditions that are doubtless baffling to outsiders.

“Anyway,” he said, flexing his wings, “what is the point of being a shape-shifter in a nation of ersatz angels if you can’t dress up as one? Though I do tend to prefer this style of wings,” he said, “Feathers are more interesting to look at up close.”

“I’ve recently been contacted regarding certain projects by a number of Freestian cities to establish our infrastructure in the commonwealth,” he said, “I feel it important to stress that such things are contracts, rather than purchases, the system involved is very much a secret of our state,” he said. “The reason I mention this is for the sake of confidentiality, if you actually want to keep any colonial sites secret, we will be able to detect such things if they are connected to it.

“More importantly,” he said, “what areas of the commonwealth do you think are most in need of investment?”

His manner didn’t seem flirtatious, but rather, as if he were thinking about far more than he was saying.

OOC: Suck-tastic, I know. But… need to post something.

New Naggoroth 13-05-2009 20:25
Scarlett smiled quite brightly when Casir hefted her up, and she gave him a little hug before she was set down again. As her mother had said, she had taken to the man. She held his hand tightly as they walked.

Aeselle kept her other daughter in her arms as they returned to the party, and she sighed rather contently as they walked together. She didn't believe in love at first sight, but she had to admit to herself that she was feeling something for this man that she hadn't felt in a long time. It was making her nervous and almost giddy at the same time.

“Yes, my lord Casir,” she said softly, after giving the still-sleepy Elly a kiss on the cheek. “I think we'd all enjoy seeing the empress again, wouldn't we girls?”

“Yes mum!”

Dread Lady Nathicana 14-05-2009 21:49
Naiya found her brother out on the balcony, looking across the gardens and ornate statuaries and the like. She gently laid a hand on his shoulder, Pascalli trailing not too far behind, keeping a watchful eye on them both.

“Rough night,” she commented quietly, sensing his odd mix of emotions, to which he merely nodded, not turning his attention away just yet.

They stood for a while without speaking, just like that, looking out over the gardens and foreign architecture. When she sensed he was more relaxed, his thoughts less jumbled, she shifted the hand on his shoulder, whispering quietly.

“I believe they’re getting ready for something in there. Perhaps we can get our gift ready for whenever whatever it is finishes? I think it’s been waiting by far long enough.”

“Don’t worry,” he replied softly, a wry grin creeping onto his face. “We did put in air holes, after all.”

She gave him a playful shove and laughed softly, his own laughter soon joining hers in a quiet, shared moment of amusement. “I would hope so. Wouldn’t be much of a gift if ...”

He chuckled in spite of himself. “No, I would imagine not, though the chances of something of that sort happening are well … slim to none. Shall we give the heads up?”

“Yeah, I think so. When whatever they’re gearing up for is done, then?”


A quick message later, and ‘Wing and a Prayer’ was prepping for go, while the twins rejoined the rest of the party, arm in arm.

Roania 15-05-2009 05:00
Some cultures show that an important event is about to occur by lowering the lights. That is foolish and disrespectful, the Roanians believe. No, the Roanians show their esteem for someone by turning the lights all the way up, and that was what happened now. The lights in the ceiling, already very bright, now became, perhaps, almost blinding.

“And that, I'm afraid, is my cue. It's a pleasure to meet a fellow professional without it necessarily being... professional.” Nesar rose to his feet and turned, vanishing into the milling crowd. In truth, he had very quickly decided that whatever she was, Nerrida was not a colleague of his, nor was she particularly of interest. Not when there was other business to deal with.

The crowd parted for the Roanian as he moved through it like a knife through butter, and he very quickly reached Alakantar's side. Not much time for words, no, but plenty of time to say what was important. “Be ready, son of the twilight caves.” The Roanian murmured as he passed by, rejoining his father's staff. “I will do the best I can to help you, but I believe when the moment has come, it will all be up to you.”

And with that, the Cheruvs drifted quietly, but determinedly, out of the room, towards a door that had opened. After a moment or two, Greater House Darsal, led by the (amazingly) awake Metchier, followed, though the older man still seemed to have little idea of what was going on around him. Calavyr, however, was nowhere to be seen.

Daria sighed and gave up even pretending to have an interest in Henry. “I'm afraid, Your Majesty, that I must go to take my seat. Perhaps we will continue this conversation at a later date?” The woman smiled serenely and bowed low, flashing him a spot of pale skin in what seemed like an accident, though nothing Daria did was ever an accident. Radmiel... had already vanished, fading into the gaggle of Roanian dignitaries who were heading to another door, apart from the ones the nobility had entered.

The lights above flickered brighter once more, and began to dance, as if fireworks were on display inside the room. And then, for the second time that evening, Alessa made an entrance, dressed in a long, flowing and elegant robe, so large that she seemed almost lost in it. She was flanked on either side by masked guards in shining silver armor, who walked down the stairs carrying long polearms from another age, polearms whose shining metal shimmered in the dancing lights as they fell forward, forcing a corridor to open for the Lady-Empress. In her train, a small girl, no, two small girls, dressed in the deepest violet, walked, one of them carrying a small pillow on which rested the centerpiece, indeed the entirety, of the Radiant Empire's crown jewels.

The Imperial Diadem's gems flickered and shone with a flame all their own, unattached to the dancing lights above, the twisted orichalcum of the metal glimmering along with them. At one point, in the unimaginably distant past, the Imperial Diadem had been the symbol of office for the Commander of the Supreme Magister's Western Fleet, forged in the smithies of Koulenar, from a design created by the wonderworkers of Aelies, both worlds now lost to the empire forever, along with their secrets.

And still the Diadem shone, as Alessa raised her hand and another door opened, the music in the background suddenly swelling to a glorious finish. Sadly, the effect was spoiled slightly by a priest moving to block the doorway, chest swelling with arrogance, pride and self-righteousness. “Your Majesty, I must protest!” The words were jarring, and Alessa frowned, a circle of silence suddenly radiating out from her.

“Protest?” The empress murmured, her eyes shaded, watching the priest carefully.

“You intend to allow these... these... barbarians into the sactum sanctorum? I cannot, will not stand for such a thing! Never has it been done.”

Alessa stood there for a moment, her eyes fixed on a point three feet to the left and one foot above the priest's head. “I see. You presume to tell me that, in my own palace, I may not allow my guests free access to whatever chamber I choose?”

“I... I suppose so.”

“Well, that's alright then.” Alessa shrugged and smiled at the foreigners. “Sorry, everyone. I guess you can't watch my coronation. We'll do it tomorrow so as not to offend anyone's delicate sensibilities. I'm really very, very sorry.” Alessa turned on her heel, and then she stopped for a moment. “Oh, wait. I just remembered something...” She turned to face the priest once more, and her eyes flashed. “I am your Empress, and I find your obedience sorely lacking..”

It would be nice to say the priest didn't suffer, but that would be a lie. As brief as it was, his face was filled with exquisite suffering before his body discorporealised and floated off on an errant wind as so many strands of dust. “Does anyone else wish to prevent my will from being done?”

The Garbage Men 15-05-2009 05:14
Trevor walked past the balcony where Marcus was too late, Naiya was already there. Instead of disturbing them and their conversation he continued and passed by, He would talk to Marcus once he returned back to the main area. Doing so he also passed Nerrida and Nesar, though he acted as if he didn't know either of them and just walked past not even seeming to take an interest of any kind in what they were doing at all.

Once he was back down it didn't take long for Naiya and Marcus to return, Trevor was sure to position himself that he could “accidently” bump into the twins.

“Naiya, I didn't think we'd be seeing each other so soon.” he bowed “and Marcus, It is nice to see you again, hopefully we're able to have a proper talk this time. “ Trevor smiled and gave a bit of a chuckle , he remembered the very brief meeting they had before.

This was when the lights started to be turned up really high. Trevor raised his hand to shield his eye from the intensely bright light. “Though perhaps we should delay this talk for now.” he finished speaking and turned towards Alessa.

It was a pity they weren't allowed inside to watch the Coronation but, yes, everyone has their traditions and even Empresses with as much power as Alessa are expected to abide by them. The death of the priest was a matter of interest though to be honest expected when you go against anyone with that much power.

Trevor waited for further information on actions to be taken.

Roania 15-05-2009 06:36
The momentary roadblock solved, Alessa held her hands up and smiled. “Well? What are you all waiting for? Go inside.” She ordered, and then she swept through the doorway, the jewel-bearers following. And so, under the orders of the Empress, for the first time in history foreigners willingly entered a chapel of the Temple of the Light, to find...

nothing, really. Might have been kind of a disappointment, but there weren't even statues, merely flowing designs in intricate literary High Roanian, forming murals and pictures on the walls that might tell the Roanians a picture, but were so much squiggly lines to foreign observers. There weren't even chairs, only low cushions on the ground facing a fire on the floor.

As the foreigners entered, they were met by masked attendants, who directed each group where to sit, making sure that people were with those they had arrived with. The exceptions were Sempero, who (much to the discomfort of the Roanians around him) was sitting in the rear, amongst the greater dignitaries of the empire, and Aeselle and her daughters, who were sitting with Casir. The twins had had chairs been provided for them, to allow them to see, but they were the only people not allowed to sit low on the ground.

As Alessa entered, the attendants moved to her side, and gently stripped her of her robe, sliding it off her arms. There was no word about the priest's death, and she seemed almost at peace as she stood in front of the fire, dressed only in a golden shift, arms outstretched. Only the slightest tension in her movements revealed her stress, but she stilled herself and closed her eyes. And stood there.

And stood there. And after a moment it became clear that something was amiss. Alessa opened her eyes and looked around the room, slightly panicked. She had only just realised that the priest she had killed had a vital role in the whole ceremony, and now a thin bead of sweat formed across her pristine flesh.

“Who is it that seeks admission to the congregation of the light?” Daria murmured, stepping out of the crowd, fumbling with the ties of her dress. “Bring me a robe.” She hissed to one of the aides, who hurried off quickly. The former priestess dropped the dress to the ground unselfconsciously and stretched, shaking her long hair free and deliberately draping it over her brassiere, holding her own arms out to allow the attendant to slide a white priestly robe up her shoulders. The large robe, designed for the now deceased male, was almost comical on Daria's frame, but only for a moment, before her magic shrunk it closer to her body. She reached up and fixed her hair once more as her modesty was recovered, and smiled at the assembled body, as if to say “Don't worry, I've got this.”

“I am Alessa, daughter of Alysanyra of House Elystear...” The young woman whispered, a little tear of relief flowing down her eyes. Daria coughed. “A-a-ah...” Alessa touched her hand to her mouth, but remembered herself and dropped it to the. “A-and A-Aleazaner of Imperial House Anero, of the Line of Azrael the Great, through Mariel the Second...”

“Are you of the age?” Daria drawled, holding her hand out. One of the multitudes of attendants passed a small bowl and a brush to the minister, who approached Alessa and gently dabbed a sign onto her forehead, a long flowing river that brushed from one bang to the other in pale red that shone dramatically after a minute or two setting.

“I am of age, and I am pure of body, mind and spirit, and ready for the responsibilities of adulthood.” Alessa bit her lip as Daria gently traced more whirls and spirals on each shoulder, as well as a long band running around her neck and the portions of her chest not hidden beneath the golden shift.

“Do you renounce childhood for the blessings and curses of maturity? Are you prepared to cast away the relics of your past for your future, a future of service to the light and leadership as a woman of the empire?” Daria had done this a thousand times before, and seemed almost on autopilot, brushing back Alessa's hair and gently threading a thin gold chain into it, to hold it behind her ears. For possibly the first time in her life, Alessa's half-elven ears were bared to the air, and they twitched in embarrassment. Another long gold thread was put in place, and another, until it was allowed to fall forward, straightened and lying flat against the side of her head.

“I am.” And the second young girl opened the box she was carrying and presented the empress with a doll. It might have been a trick of the light, but there was about its aquiline face, its blue eyes, a striking resemblance not only to Alessa, but also, and far more poignantly and obviously, the male whose portrait was conspicuous in its absence from the wall of Emperors that greeted the guests as they entered. Her father. And it might have been a trick of the light, but her lips seemed filled with almost malicious glee as she removed the doll and threw it into the flames. “And I offer the Light this sacrifice, as a token of my readiness.”

Daria nodded, expressionless, and then stepped aside. “Step into the pool of flames and see what the Light wills for you, then, my lady.”

Alessa slowly removed the slip from her body, dropping it to the ground next to her as she turned to face the fire and slowly walked towards it, dressed in only the thinnest of garments. Her feet touched the edge of the liquid the fire floated in, thus fulfilling her obligations, but her eyes, curiously blank, did not respond. Slowly, she continued to step into the pool, approaching the flame at its center.

“Daria, what is she...”

“Be silent, Radmiel. You meddle in matters that don't concern you.” Daria crowed, delighted at this chance to shut her rival up. And still Alessa walked forward, not caring about her surroundings, the liquid now lapping around her hips, her waist, her breasts, her shoulders. And then she entered into the fire, and even Daria was surprised.

There was a burst of light, and a strange scent in the room, similar, perhaps, to roses. And the pale fire flickered, danced, and then, suddenly, its color changed, becoming a deep purple, then an even deeper blue, a blue that spilled out across the pool of liquid. Alessa laughed, and slowly she left the flame, slowly climbing up the stairs. The thin clothing she had been wearing was soaked through, clinging to her curves as if it were barely there, but of a sign of flames there was no sign.

“Your Majesty?” Daria whispered, a bit shocked but covering it nicely. “Are you quite well?”

“Oh... yes, very much so, Daria.” Alessa murmured, distantly. “Please, finish the ceremony. I am very tired and would like to rest.” Her eyes danced with a flame almost akin to the fire burning in the pool she had just left.

“Very well. By flower, blade and fire I greet you as a... a sister in womanhood and in the empire. Bring me the diadem, child.” Daria slowly lifted the diadem from the pillow it sat on, and then gently held it out. As if in a daze, Alessa slowly took the diadem and placed it over the first band in her hair. The gems flashed, whatever sorcery that filled them responding to Alessa and accepting her as their mistress. The young woman smiled, a bit unsteadily. “In the name of the Light, and through the glory of your ancestors, and as custom dictates, I now pronounce you to be in fact as well as name, in name as well as in truth, in truth as well as in dream, Alessa Tiyar, 23rd Empress of the Aner dynasty, heir to the...”

“Wait.” It was a quiet word, softly spoken, but spoken nonetheless. “I will not be that.”

“What, then, will you be?” Daria whispered, uncertainly.

“I proclaim that the Anero dynasty, having ended many years ago, and the dynasty of Drakharn having failed as well, that the time has come for a new dynasty to be announced and a new reckoning to be counted from, to honor those who have fought and died, to honor my fathers and my mother, to honor the new era that we are ushering in.” Alessa swayed, a bit unsteadily. “I... in the name of the Light, and by my prerogative, I declare a new dynasty, a new covenant between my family and the... and the Light. I am not the 23rd Empress of the Aner dynasty. I declare myself to be... to be the first Cadarea empress.”

The Roanians in the room muttered something to themselves, but Daria smiled. “Very well, Your Majesty. May the Flowering House prosper as well as the Mastery Dynasty.” Daria turned to the assembled crowd, and held her hands up. “The regency is declared null and dissolved in fact as well as name, in name as well as in truth, in truth as well as in dream. We have an Empress.” Behind her, Alessa, who ordinarily seemed so sure on her feet, quietly fell backwards in a dead faint, drained by whatever experience she had undergone in the fire.

Immediately, the Roanians in the first rows charged forward, but Kouran was there first, unfortunately for all concerned. “Locomote serendipitously away from her, gentlemen and ladies. I have seen this once before.” The ArchMage reached into the water and checked Alessa's pulse. “She will be fine in the morning. I recall that at one time there was...”

Radmiel took charge. “Yes, well, Thank you, ArchChancellor. It's been a very long day for all of us, and Her Majesty especially, and I believe that she is entitled to feeling a bit of a rest. Guards, please take her majesty to her chambers. As for the rest of you, you will be escorted to rooms for the night. Please, if you need anything, don't hesitate to ring for a servant.”

Dread Lady Nathicana 15-05-2009 23:33
Naiya and Marcus greeted Trevor quietly as they all went in to the lowering of lights, assuring him that they would be more than happy to pick up the convo after.

They and their mother, along with the two guards, met partway through the room, keeping an eye out for Alakantar, should he be joining them. Bits of conversation were relayed silently, via rapid hand movements, so as not to add any noise to the occasion, as the lights lowered, then began their flickering dance, though this too ceased once Alessa made her entrance.

Their reactions varied slightly at the priest’s sudden demise, and Alessa’s words and actions.

Nathicana’s expression showed clear approval, and she didn’t bat an eye when the man was efficiently dealt with. Naiya’s expression didn’t show anything, one way or another, seemingly keeping any thoughts or reactions to herself. Marcus on the other hand, first looked uncomfortable when Alessa entered, slightly irritated when the priest dared get uppity with the Empress, approving when she didn’t just sit there and take it from the man, then surprised when she, well … dustified him the way she did. He recovered quickly, true, but his idealistic nature made it difficult to guard his emotions the way others might when he wasn’t really thinking about it.

Obviously, none of the party had any intention of preventing Alessa from continuing with her ceremony.

They watched the ritual with quiet respect, unruffled by any clothing choices, or lack thereof, calling no attention to the minor hiccup created by Daria needing to replace the disintegrated priest.

They could all relate to the establishment of a new regime, fresh and obviously thought-out by Alessa, who seemed to have very good reasons for doing what she did – and they were even more impressed that the basis for much of it had been chosen to duly honor family, which Dominion culture, and their family in particular, held in high regard.

When Alessa fainted, Marcus rose to his feet, looking on with concern before being gently guided back to his seat with a touch on his arm from his sister. The whole group was tense until it was announced the Empress would be fine, though it was clear they weren’t sure what was expected after such a performance. No applause, no cheer, no affirmation seemed a bit … well, odd to their sensibilities, but as the saying went, ‘When in Rome’ …

The twins looked to each other in distress, messaging ahead that Operation Wing and a Prayer would have to be unexpectedly delayed until the next day, and on account of that, proper accommodations should be provided for aboard ship – with further apologies for all the trouble and wait. The reasons for which could be summed up in one word – Roanians.

“Well that’s somewhat awkward,” Marcus murmured. “I suppose we should retire then?”

“You kids go on ahead,” Nathicana replied, looking around for Clodius. “I’ve someone I’ve promised a talk and a drink to. Mas, Pascalli, if you would accompany our young lady and gentleman – they’ve got whatever freedom is allowed by our hosts, so long as it doesn’t include ‘trouble’.” She gave the twins a knowing wink before hugging and kissing the cheek of each in turn.

“Enjoy yourself,” Naiya said, smiling. “We’ll see you in the morning.”

And with that, the company parted.

The C’tan 16-05-2009 00:07
Ranisath was not a monarch in the sense Alessa was.

Ranisath was the highest representative of the necrontyr people.

But he was just that, a representative. A servant, albeit one of high rank. For a moment of the victim’s agony, he debated attempting to save him, or do something to that effect. He had the impression that the man would rather die than accept such aid, and it would make an already difficult situation even worse.

The representative of the necrontyr people, who had, as a rule, sworn to put such barbarism behind them, was duty bound to avoid any kind of public endorsement of such actions. It was unfortunate, of course, any display of disapproval would be petulant-seeming to the type of monarchist who viewed people’s objections – even people who were just plain pains in the ass - as something to be eliminated.

Personally, he was disappointed – not horrified at the act itself, his memory held far worse – even in his present form, he had seen deaths a thousand times worse, with the Yvressi on a dead world under leering skies. He was disappointed in Alessa, he had held - truly held, as emotion as a father would, almost - hope of her withstanding this stress more gracefully. It would seem hypocritical to an outside observer too, to complain. How many people had his antecedent-being whose memories he shared, killed? More than the Roanians could ever imagine existing. And yet, how different was he now?

No one outside his own nation save the Eldar and the Menelmacari truly knew the degree of his own dire history. And even the Eldar’s records were full of lies and exaggerations. But there were those that thought they knew how he had been. He liked to think that he was very different from that being.

Yet he could still sense, if he wanted to, the energies of countless lost lives. He could still imagine what immense joy he could have by, for example, consuming the mind of the Freestian woman beside him.

What right did he have for anger? That born of empathy, perhaps. The same empathy that had in the end tormented his predecessor and still burdened him.

Alessa was, he knew, mentally-damaged.

If he could blame his past – he didn’t, but he had thought of it at times – on his own heritage as something utterly ‘inhuman’ – then her own actions could be excused far more easily. Among his own nation, it was unlikely she would be considered responsible enough to be enfranchised – not yet, in time perhaps, but not yet. She was a child, in mind if not body and body mattered nothing to him.

Calculations flowed through his mind, the crude reduction of lives to numbers. Emotionally, it was personal experience against rationality. To him, very few people were friends, fewer still, he loved. Alessa was among those, in a paternal, proud way. Less proud now.

To him, everyone else was a complex balance of loyalty, utility, capability, and dozen other factors by which he assessed people, charted his courses of action, in line with what he felt as his duty.

If he had been a human, or an elf, he would have used it as an excuse to leave, allowing the disappointment he felt to control him. Or perhaps saved the priest’s mind anyway. But he was not. Such things were to him, learned behaviors, not instincts. He was a being whose kind were born to solitude. Empathy was, to his kind, as hard to comprehend as the most elaborate science was to humans.

And yet, that same empathy, which stopped him acting precisely as he pleased, was just as much a sign of the mature mind, to him.

In the end, it was no choice at all. Alessa was and remained the best choice for her position of all feasible alternatives. Continuing to actively support her was, in what the Roanians would call the long term, but which he merely thought of as the millennial term, very probably the best option.

Therefore, he did… nothing.

No sign of displeasure crossed his face, nor of shock, nor of the assessment he rendered. His body was ultimately, a machine, it did as he bid it, and he did not wish to display any of his feelings.

To do nothing was the best option available. So he would have to say when called to account, as he surely would be, by his superiors. As he folded his faux-wings behind him, and walked into the temple, as the last dust of the man dissipated, he began contemplating just how that meeting would go.

He might have considered giving up that duty, or resenting it. That too, would be immaturity - he had no use for such emotions, and had thus never felt them.

The Freethinkers 16-05-2009 02:04
“There are many opportunities for investment…” Sarah said this slowly, finally taking a sip of her drink. “As for where, there are various options. People will compete for it. Might be worth seeing what offers you get, as for power….”

She gave him a genuinely flirtive look. “I’m pretty sure you know all our secrets regardless, no?” The lights rose, and she accompanied her companion to the temple entrance with the rest of the crowd, trying to keep up the discussion though losing herself in the clamouring mass of people. Somehow she figured he knew what she was going to say anyway.

Clodius, in turn, was still somewhat lost in thoughts, quietly mulling his story as he watched the contents of his glass swirl. The lights rising in the room shook him out of his inward train of thought, causing the glass to drop, his reactions catching it an inch lower but the strength in his fingers sending web like cracks through the glass. He replaced the glass on the nearest table, looking sheepish, and wandered in the direction of the temple doors.

The death of the priest was something unexpected, but in retrospect not surprising. Somehow beneath all the glitz and etiquette something very cruel remained in the Roanian psyche, and Clodius merely noted to tell Sempero to remember this. Sarah held her hand to her mouth, but in reality her mind too quickly comprehended the situation and processed it as both soldier and politician. Local law, local custom, still though, incredibly harsh. Somehow she managed to feel both more and less respect for the Empress, though it was slanted in different ways. She seemed harder now, certainly, though whether this was a good thing…

It was Ranisath’s reaction that truly got to her though. His lack of emotion was terrifying, almost. She had heard stories about him, of course, but there was something about the level of restraint he had that emphatically emphasised how detached he was or at least could become from his surroundings. They entered the room, Sarah departing to find Henry, looking for his distinctive visage in the mulling and rapidly seating crowd.

Clodius meanwhile looked for Sempero, sitting away from him, distinct, tall and proud, rising above the Roanians around him, and giving him space. They weren’t keen, it seemed, and Clodius bitterly sympathised with them. The younger vampire did not turn around, but somehow knew whose eyes were upon him. He gave nothing away, merely smiling towards Alessa.

The ceremony itself aroused little in them, save for straight emotions. The dress or lack thereof simply seemed Roanian, after all. Sempero felt pride, his eyes always on the scantily clad figure of his lover, Clodius darting between his protégé and the subject of the ceremony with little outward signs. It reminded him of several similar…ordeals, he supposed, he had gone through from time to time. Such was the nature of these things. He never found them boring mind, then again there was usually something painful happening so it wouldn’t be a fair comparison all things considered.


Then, the collapse. Sempero reacted by raising sharply in his seat, awkward perhaps and causing the Roanians around him to edge away with expressions of distaste and more than slight fear as his body simply moved with enough power to carry him almost into the air. His sharp eyes focused on her, turning to look at the surrounding persons as he jumped the seats in front of him in almost animalistic leaps, his form landing heavily on the floor as he got closer to the collapsed figure of Alessa.

The vampire grew impatient, even with the announcement that she was fine. Even though inwardly relieved he still was not satisfied and as such Sempero forced his way to her side, any objections silenced by a strong and unforgiving gaze. He was in charge now, in this little sphere, and being taller by nearly a head and making every footfall shake the ground as needed ensured n one got either close or objected much.

He kneeled down beside Alessa. Her draped, fragile, horribly exposed form sent every protective instinct coursing through him.

“She’s going to be okay?” He asks this again, sure of the answer, but it’s hard to ignore the slumped form beneath him. He removed his tunic, almost reminiscent of so many years before, and covered her body in the grey material, before sweeping his arms gently under her and lifting Alessa up in his arms. A soft murmur, and he pulled her tight, careful not to let his now visible arms (save for the short sleeves of the black undershirt he wore that seemed just a little too tight for someone who didn’t care about showing off, deep down, though at least he was built for it) crush the soft body now supported by them. He frowned at those closest, clamouring around, growling to indicate he wanted space for her. Clodius himself made an appearance, looking slightly concerned, but Sempero politely shrugged him off.

“I will speak to you tomorrow.” He said simply, his eyes never leaving Alessa, cradling her body against his, letting her sleep in his embrace. His arms flexed, the Freestian trying to keep his grip as light as possible, before following Alessa’s servants off, carrying her to bed and some much needed rest. “I am so proud of you hunny.” He said in a whisper that only she could hear. She seemed to smile in her sleep.

Clodius nodded. He felt slightly put out and yet extraordinarily proud, deep down. He smiled half-heartedly, turning away into the talking crowd as it began to disperse. He had his own appointment to keep, and somehow he seemed even more anxious to keep it.

Dread Lady Nathicana 18-05-2009 00:48
Obviously something had happened that was unexpected - or so it seemed to Nathicana from the reactions, all priestly incinerations aside. The entire thing was alien to her, so she hadn't really known what to expect, but still ...

Of course there was Clodius, whom she could now see through the slowly-moving crowd of people. Making her way carefully over, she gently laid a hand on his arm to get his attention, then smiled, tilting her head slightly to the side in a questioning sort of way.

“Quite the ceremony,” she observed in a quiet voice, though loud enough to be heard. “No doubt Alessa will be well-guarded, and hopefully well-rested come morning. She seems to have had a rather trying day. After all of that, are you still up for some conversation over a quiet glass, Lord Clodius - or has the evening taken its toll on you as well?”

The Freethinkers 18-05-2009 01:42
Many thoughts can run through a person’s head in the briefest of times. Sempero’s act of dismissal, for all its brevity and reason, was an extraordinary act of defiance for what it was. The smallest event could have incredible consequences.

Clodius’ words from earlier in the evening had returned when he had looked at Sempero performing his guardian angel routine. The eyes, the simple words and commanding tone indicated that Sempero had indeed made his choice, though perhaps without the amount of meditation that Clodius would have wished. To be that brazen, that dismissive, against a superior and perhaps, more poignantly a friend and comrade spoke volumes in itself. Hierarchies were strict in their society, honour and loyalty mattered above all, and Sempero’s decision as to who he considered himself bound to now shattered a lot of hopes and perhaps…

…perhaps Clodius’ delusions. He had seen so much potential in him, of course, the raw brute power his species considered the benchmark for a person’s capacity to lead had always been present in the young Sempero. Strength, used wisely, and motivation and the ability to motivate his breed had always been the core values Clodius, and the system he sat at the titular head of, had espoused, and yet these strengths and the harsh brute realities that they were drawn from were from a time long ago, a time long before his young subordinate had even crawled upon the earth…

It is only the faint squeeze on his arm, the slightest of touches against wiry muscle that snaps him out of it. Realising perhaps how rude it seemed he shook his head gently as Nathicana spoke, suddenly realising why she might think him tired.

“My apologies my lady. Yes, quite a ceremony.” He paused as she spoke, trying his best to adjust his face to a smile as she did so. Her comments about Alessa seemed to cause a nerve to strike, but any emotion was quickly reigned back in. It wasn’t right for his conflicting thoughts to surface now. His eyes seem slightly heavier, but as he spoke new excitement seemed to enter his tone. “It would be a pleasure my dear to pass the rest of the evening with you.”

God that sounded awful. Another flash of blushing, another quick adjustment. His crooked features helped hide it mind, but this Dread Lady was sharper than most. “I will admit some of it is troubling. I saw Sempero go off to take care of her. I’m sure he will do well. I just find myself worrying more than I should.” He looked at her again, eyes suddenly turning sad, his eyebrows slowly lowering. “I feel as if I’ve lost something tonight.”

Dread Lady Nathicana 18-05-2009 02:29
“I apologize if I've said anything to cause more concern,” Nathicana replied carefully at first, studying Clodius and his expressions. “I'm more than happy to listen if you'd like to talk, though I don't wish to pry where I shouldn't. Change ... can be hard, especially when it involves those close to us, perhaps taking paths we might rather they didn't.”

She paused, trying to make her next words feel as neutral as possible, considering the circumstances.

“We've effectively been told to go to our rooms by our hosts, so I suppose either would do for some quiet conversation. I'm not certain where your rooms are located, but if it would make you more comfortable to be close by if you are needed, perhaps that would allay some of that worry.”

New Naggoroth 18-05-2009 06:37
The druchii were quiet as they arrived back in the main hall, just in time to see the crowd heading into the temple chamber. Thanks to Casir's status, they were able to push through with relative ease and see the empress as she entered first. The three of them listened closely to their Roanian host as he explained what would happen within.

They all were awed by Alessa as she strode past, looking every bit the regal empress in her finery. The disintegration of the stubborn priest was rather surprising, but neither Aeselle nor either of the girls so much as batted an eye. Aeselle had seen far more terrible things done to those who would dispute the word of their lords, especially at the annual Hanil Kar, and she considered the priest lucky that any pain was only momentary.

The twins, on the other hand, were blissfully ignorant, and thought it was a neat trick. They'd ask their mother later, and she would explain, but for now, it was merely a neat magic trick to make him disappear.


The ceremony itself was impressive, though Aeselle had a hard time not crying out as she watched the young empress disappear into the flames. Such a similar trial was used in ancient times amongst her people, but had fallen out of use after the so-called 'sacred' flames rejected the rightful king, and left him scarred and ruined. As that was a rather important moment in druchii history, all children knew the story well. It was only natural that she shuddered at the thought of something like that happening to Alessa.

When Alessa fainted, however, Aeselle's first reaction was to ask Casir what was going on; he was the local, after all. The girls each stood up on their seats, trying to see what was happening, even as Sempero pushed through the crowd.

“What should we do?” she asked Alessa's uncle, concern for the poor girl plain on her face. She needed to do something, anything...

The Freethinkers 19-05-2009 04:18
Sempero carried Alessa’s curled up body through the halls, her staff cautiously following in his wake, taking her small fragile form up to the room. He remembered this place though it seemed an age ago he was last here. Still, with little redirection he ended up where he needed to be, the private chambers of the palace itself.

He was strong enough that the journey with his sleeping charge did not tire him, and Sempero placed the still sleeping Alessa with extraordinary grace and gentleness onto the soft sheets and did his best to wrap them round her. She seemed exhausted, weakened by the ordeal she had gone through, vulnerable, but then she always had. He often pondered both how extraordinarily fortunate and unfortunate one’s birthright could be, frequently for people like her who could barely comprehend the tasks laid down for them with little choice save for total abandonment and with it treason to their kind. Empires are cruel masters for even the most capable leaders, and it was perhaps in this shared realm of crushing heritage that he found his common link to the damaged soul he watched over now.

That was his vow, after all, to protect her now. Sempero’s conscious mind acknowledged fully the subconscious drive he had felt for a long time that his heart and mind dwelt here. Her guardian angel, her protector, he was strong, or could be for such a cause, for what else did he live for, truly. Strong fingers capable of ripping augmented men from their invincible armour softly caressed her delicate features for the briefest of moments. She gave him purpose, something for which he had long striven for but never seemed to be able to find back in the deserts and cities of his homeland. Every battle, every fight, every duel and run and march and hunt, couldn’t give him this.

He was home.

Sempero didn’t need sleep, not now at least, and instead wandered out onto the balcony. It was dark now, and the dull haze of the galactic core littered the night sky in a spectacular backdrop. He paused, leaning back into a chair that creaked beneath him, and stared up into the sky.


Clodius considered Nathicana’s words for a moment. “Perhaps my trying to be close caused my problem in the first place.” He smirked at something not particularly obvious, or perhaps just the situation itself. Roanian servants, small draped figures with rather timid constitutions hovered and offered to guide them to their rooms, causing the Freestian to pause and consider.

“It would be polite of me to play host.” He turned to follow the servant, taking comfort from the embrace of his companion. He remained silent for moments thereafter, words perhaps not necessary for the moment as he was lost in thought again. A single train of thought connected Sempero’s act with a single disappointment and loss so long ago, back in the realms of history far before the country he represented ever existed. Clodius felt old, now, older than he ever had, and could barely hide the dulled movement as his became distracted from the here and now.

The guest rooms were decently equipped, hotel like affairs, spacious, lavishly decorated and with the air and smell of somewhere more regularly cleaned than ever used for purpose. Clodius stepped inside, inviting Nathicana to follow. A bottle sat on the table, a request from earlier. “Delacourt?” He offered and enquired in equal measure.

He removed the jacket of the suit, enjoying the freedom, stripped to the black tunic beneath. Clodius was big, of course, but compared to Sempero’s polished form his muscle seemed rough hewn, shaped more by his occupation than by the finessed exercise his younger protégé employed. Scars ran down his visible arms as he poured himself a drink, deep long slashes, serrated splotches of burnt skin and the twisted mass around old bullet holes. It seemed an almost comical effect really, especially with the disjointed tattoos that had sat where the wounds had been inflicted, leaving large pink gaps in art that would otherwise have been spectacular patterns. The muscle itself was thick but wiry, veins bulged awkwardly along the arms, the fingers suddenly claw like with visible tendons. Whatever skin had not been stretched and distorted was dried and weather beaten. Clodius was, for all his grace and power, worn and used.

“Thanks.” The vampire said finally. “For…you know.” He perhaps didn’t. Not that he wasn’t grateful, of course, but he found himself unsure of many things. “I don’t suppose I could get your opinion of Alessa.” He asked plainly after a moment. “I can’t figure her out. She seems terrifying, sometimes phenomenal, sometimes her potential shines through and yet tonight she seemed…off, almost, terrified and unsure.” What really concerned him, his friend and his commitment to her, stayed out of the question, but it pained him still.

“I wonder, do you believe in the importance of tradition, my lady?”

Dread Lady Nathicana 19-05-2009 04:54
Nathicana accompanied Clodius to the room, accepting the offered glass of wine with a nod, a smile, and a murmured thanks, sitting down someplace comfortable and setting her ornate mask aside.

She watched the vampire as he made himself more at ease, studying his form with her usual curiosity when confronted with something, or someone new. It was obvious he was every inch the fighter his reputation inferred, and then some. The scars in some ways reminded her of another she knew who had been put into situations beyond his years, in her opinion, though he’d weathered them stoically. War was never gentle, and the scars it left physically were only part of the damage done. If he had been through so much that could be seen, what of everything that went with the marks that couldn’t?

Nathi nodded quietly to acknowledge the thanks. The questions required some careful thought, and she chose the last to answer first.

“Tradition can be a strong tool when used correctly,” she said, taking a slow sip of her wine. “It can also hinder or even harm when used improperly. Of course in the Dominion, there are many traditions that we observe day to day – it is something that sets us apart, keeps us together in spite of the various paths we follow. We’ve also changed many traditions out of necessity. For example, for the longest time it was ‘tradition’ that the strongest ruled until another came to topple them. That is a tradition I had to change in order to ensure a future for my children. And I would do it again in a heartbeat, tradition be damned.”

“As for Alessa … she reminds me of a child in a woman’s body, forced to deal with things she is emotionally unprepared to handle. Potential? Doubtless she has it – I’ve seen glimpses myself. Whether or not she is strong enough to break away from her handlers and live up to that potential while surrounding herself with the right people to help her make it work …” Nathicana spread her hands slightly and shrugged.

“That is another question entirely. It seems she’s been both horribly sheltered, and at the same time, terribly shell-shocked and forced to live up to nigh impossible expectations without the tools to properly handle them. She has a lot of power – perhaps too much. And I’m afraid she barely understands how, or when to use it.”
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Postby Roania » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:19 pm

Northrop-Grumman 19-05-2009 20:16
“Hmmm…interesting,” Alakantar mumbled partly to himself but also to Master Mary as he carefully studied the displayed holographic image of the web world while listening intently to what was being said concerning it. “Perhaps one of these days I might have the opportunity to see it in person; after all, it seems to already be quite an impressive place just from what I’ve seen here. Surely it would be even more so viewing it through my own eyes.”

However, whatever more could be said by the talking pair was immediately disrupted when Nesar passed the drow by and uttered those words that Alakantar had not wished to hear so soon. His previously cheerful and friendly expression mellowed slightly, briefly hinting at more of those dreaded feelings that bubbled up again. Then he sighed heavily and took a deep breath, now dropping his head and using the fact that his squinted eyes became quite irritated in such blinding light to cover up this anxiety.

When the Roanian disappeared with the rest of his House, he hesitated for a minute before speaking again to the spider-like being. “Well, it appears that the ceremony is about to start so it’s probably best that we don’t keep anyone waiting for us,” he finally answered. “I’ve gotta say that it’s been a pleasure to talk with you for this little while, and I hope that we do have the opportunity to meet again.”

With that, he departed from Mary’s presence with a polite bow and proceeded to trail Nathicana and her family into the chapel, but soon found that he was met by the Empress and a protesting priest. He made no attempt to do anything to calm the two down as that would have been pointless. There was already an impassable crowd of people ahead of him waiting to get in, and…unfortunately…the situation had managed to resolve itself on its own rather quickly – with the death of the priest.

Though unlike the others, the man’s demise had not come as much of a surprise to him as, much to his dismay, he had been a witness to such things in his past, whether it be during the great battle that encompassed the capital city or simply the workings of his mother. But it was a relief that the end was not terribly bloody all in all unlike those previous times; nevertheless it was still someone’s death, one that may have been prevented and one that just seemed needless. He was never this overly strict with his subordinates and never saw it all that right to take someone’s life for coming into conflict with his wishes (unless that involved a life-or-death situation). Even if they were an ass about it, that never changed the situation. He simply fired the person and tossed them out of the colony without a need for doing anything more. But alas, this was a different society and a different culture, that much he recognized.

Still beyond that recognition, Alakantar had felt that this party had been nothing more than a depressing affair, filled with constant conflict between the attendees, threats of harm from every corner of it, and even of death itself, serving only to make him wish that everything would end already so he could get away from it. This seemed more like work and stress than a celebratory event. And even as he was seated next to Nathicana’s family in the temple, his thoughts continued to be consumed by it all, leaving his eyes to take in the procession of the ceremony for processing later when he wasn’t so weary of it all.

Although, upon the conclusion of the day’s events, he was surprised by the ushering of the guests into the palace’s rooms to spend the night as he had been stressing with the issue of dealing Calavyr for all this while and hoping that at least he’d have the opportunity to spend the night back aboard the Dominion ship without any further worries. But it seemed that would be stuck here for the next several hours. He might have protested and wished to stay somewhere more secure, but he knew that he had a duty as a representative of the Grummian people to try to not offend the allied government while he was here. So the only thing that he could do was try to make do with what he had. But that did not mean that he had to be stupid about it either.

The guest bedroom was a pleasant sight to his eyes upon entering – it truly was one of the most luxurious that he’d seen in his lifetime – but he had not the slightest intention of sleeping in that bed no matter how comfy it looked. He knew that he was still in danger while he was here and that sleeping there would leave himself in the middle of a room, unprotected by anything and oblivious to all. Thus, he unfolded the plush sheets and shoved several pillows underneath them, giving the impression of a sleeping body, and then dragged a nearby chair behind the only entrance into the room where he settled down into it. A basic cup of iced water was propped up against the door, and the drow settled down into the chair for, hopefully, a long, pleasant night’s sleep.

The Freethinkers 21-05-2009 00:30
“So.” Clodius paused, his sip of the wine allowed to roll around his mouth a bit, “you actually believed in tradition up until the point it became clear it was no longer useful?” He asked this leadingly, with a glance back towards the Dread Lady with a raised eyebrow. “Which means I guess Sempero was right?”

“Let’s say I believe in tradition so long as it continues to be a benefit and not a hindrance as we progress and grow,” Nathicana suggested. “Might I ask 'right about' what?”

Clodius let out a long sigh. “It’s a long story. A very long one.” He put his glass down and turned to sit on the bed opposite Nathicana, his head hung in a mixture of contemplation and a faint frustration. “A long time ago, millennia or more. There was no Commonwealth, only us, but we were different.” The 'we' was ambiguous even in the context, the vampire left the word hanging for a second.

“There was a country, a nation of our species, strong, powerful, terrifying.” Another pained paused. “Gods. To our neighbours at least.”

Nathicana nods quietly, sipping her wine, encouraging Clodius to continue.

“Well, I was cast out, rejected, weak and unwanted. It was a society as decadent and as malicious as any human society could be. And like all others of its kind it was based on a belief that the world was made for us, that we were safe no matter what.” Clodius was remembering now, his face and even his hand gestures subtly mimicking the story's flow. “And then it disappeared. Consumed by its own corruption, destroyed totally and utterly. The technicalities of it we never learnt, but one day it simply ceased to exist, replaced by fire and ruins.”

“Death stalked the remainder of us. Few of us survived, beaten, nomadic, separated. Our biggest, our best were lost to us, along with every trapping of civilization with it.”

“I had been born, apparently, to the greatest chief and the greatest daughter of our nation. I never subscribed to their values, but their strength, I got, and I through blood and sheer desperation gathered what few survivors remained, scattered, likeminded monsters, people who had never succumbed to my people's weakness.”

“And it took, something extraordinary to survive, strength that humans, and I mean no offence by this, perhaps you are different, my lady, but a strength humans are not even capable of. Our land, is hell, for any life to survive it has to fight tooth and nail for its place. Everything, not just the giants that are our relatives but every primordial beast capable of accidently crushing you, insects from hell, predators of every breed in a kill or be killed mindset.”

“But we did survive, and we could show no mercy, no weakness to ourselves. It would be a betrayal of our few remaining people to be a burden. Our wounded, our dying gladly gave up their lives just to buy a few more weeks.”

“And then, something happened.” A dramatic pause. It hung in the air, but was cutoff as Clodius quickly resumed.

“The Midlonians. Not the arsy past their prime blowoffs you see today, no, a different race of men altogether. Explorers, fighters, disciplined, determined to conquer through slow bloody persistence and organised destruction. Great men, different to our memories of weakling slaves, men after our own.”

“The greatest of them forged a pact with us, after some initial scuffles, and they took us into their civilisation as their protectors and guides. We took them on incredible journeys, vast epic trails and expeditions. But they saw beyond the wilderness...”

“They saw the Commonwealth. A nation we could never forge, bringing ships and rail and organised warfare. For all our power, for all this individual strength...” He flexed an arm, not in a bodybuilder glory seeking stance but almost a simple biology demonstration. Fingers clenched and muscle beneath the battered skin moved with clear power and precision. “They knew how to truly survive. But we kept our deal, and with it our traditions and our social structures and beliefs.”

“The cult of the strong, it is called, and worship of the strength of our ancestors. The reverence. We believed it made us special, and as the Midlonians became the Freestians so we remained as the proud desert nomads, warriors without peer.”

He looked up now, sad, his narrative winding itself out. “I'm sorry, this is beyond your interest I am sure.”

“Not at all,” Nathicana replied. “I think I'm beginning to understand some of your dilemma. For all your people have suffered and sacrificed for ... have many of the younger forgotten, or do they seem in your eyes to take it for granted? Does it feel that you have in some way become less for your integration and acceptance of those, who by your own high standards, were lesser beings?”

“Yes and no. It is complicated. And I learned long ago about regarding humans as inferior. We learnt that lesson hard.” Clodius smiled though, connecting at a level he hadn't with anyone in a very long time.

Nathicana offers him a wry smile, taking a slow sip of wine before continuing. “Matters like this are always complicated, and seldom have any easy answers. We've all had our hard lessons, especially when dealing with others - races, governments, organizations. Perhaps you can clarify?”

“As I said, yes, in part, and Sempero is an example of that. The thing is, he is no less a warrior or hunter than I am, and I know to look at him he gives off the feckless air, but I've seen him actually fighting, and it is incredible. He is a prodigious talent in the values we crave, as I said, I think, strong beyond measure, fast, agile, tranquil in the heat of a fight.”

“But his generation never had the desperation ours had, and he could never commit to a life he had no advantage in doing so. And I felt him slipping away, integrating into the human society, and indeed our numbers are so few I fear many take a similar path. Someone so capable becomes soft.”

“So it isn't just a matter of remembering, its survival as a race?” Nathicana asks, thinking immediately of Alessa, and Sempero's obvious attachment there.

“Yes. It is becoming that.” Clodius turned and looked at the ceiling for a moment. “And yet, it is his right, but we are, by sapient standards a dangerously rare breed. And slowly but surely we are becoming...human, special, yes, but with the ghouls as well we are being absorbed, lost and drowned in the sea of humanity.”

“Sempero, he is the best of them. I cannot feel bad enough, I know it is selfish, but I cannot let him discard his duty, even though I know deep down he is absolutely right. “And that makes me ask myself, what am I clinging on to, what am I willing to wreck him for that’s so important?”

“Then I realise. A tradition, the thing that gives me my purpose, is an out of date survival mechanism for a time long past. But, if I lose it, if we lose it, we lose everything that makes”

Roania 21-05-2009 05:45


Kyrie blinked at Naragan. “You mean, you didn't bring something?” The young woman rose her hand to her lips. “I...” She dropped her hand to her side and slipped it along her thigh for a moment, then withdrew her fingers, holding a small metal device. “Computer. Open file on Oyada.” A small screen floated up and she began to fiddle with the little device on her hand. “Do not... believe... in presenting... presents on foreign visits or birthdays. Cross-reference with other societies...” Her attention wandered for a minute, but then she snapped back. “Oh! But, my lord, if you do not have a present, you might not be permitted to meet with the Empress! This won't do at all.”

The woman slipped her computer back onto the hidden holster along her pale thigh, and gave the Oyadan Emperor a very quizzical going over. “You simply must have something you could give her. Perhaps you could write a poem? Or a song? Maybe there's something on your ship you could present to her! Yes, that would do. Come on, we'll go somewhere private and you can call your ship, and while we wait we can get comfortable and you can give me everything I want to know about Oyada! How's that sound?”

Dread Lady Nathicana 22-05-2009 04:22
Nathicana thought carefully before answering, and even then, her words came out carefully, perhaps even hesitantly. “Perhaps ... tradition need not be abandoned. Perhaps, in order to preserve that which deserves and needs preserving, tradition need only ... adapt?”

Clodius pondered this statement. “Then it’s not really tradition is it?” HE said simply, finishing off his glass as he finished the question. “And, it’s not even that I'm truly scared of. I'm meant to lead, and I don't know what I need to adapt to.”

She accedes the point with a nod and a slight shrug. “Perhaps not, but the spirit of it could possibly be preserved - along with the more pressing need to preserve the genetic purity that I assume you, and your race, desire, especially given your rarity.”

“As for leadership ... that's always the rub, no? Learning to adapt, attempting to figure out what the best path is? It’s a never ending battle, but one that must either be met, or end in failure.”

She took a short sip, and then set her glass aside. “There is a saying I've learned from good friends and allies, and it does tend to hold true. 'Adapt and live; grow stagnant and die'. All that's left is to decide what methods of adaptation work for your present situation.”

“I like sayings like that. Good advice, but tell you nothing.” The vampire said this with uncharacteristic venom, but suddenly inclining in head. “I'm sorry. I understand, it’s just, I don't We don't have the numbers and we don't have the capacity, unlike most of humanity to...well..if you'll excuse my frankness, mate ourselves out of our numbers dilemma. And to be honest...” He paused, again, this time looking sadder still, like an old racehorse gone to seed, for all his remaining power a feeling of hopeless decay settled over him. “I don't know how to win this fight.” He finally admitted.

Nathicana simply nodded at his apology, understanding just how personal and emotionally charged the matter was. “Do you know of the Scolopendran Kzinti?” She asked, seemingly out of the blue, though she had a purpose in mind.

“Not directly aside from the briefest of acquaintances. I have heard of them, a proud warrior race though, one of many regrets really I never tried to meet more.”

“They were beset with the problem of losing their heritage entirely. Not exactly the same problem as you face, but similar in some respects,” Nathi replied. “Speaker-Rrit gathered the elders together, and restored the Patriarchy while remaining an integral part of the society that had adopted them. It brought them together, and reunited them, with pride, as I don't believe anything since the Break had done before.”

“Perhaps something similar could be done with your people,” she asked gently.

Clodius looked up at her again, directly this time, no furtive glance but a long lingering gaze with startling blue eyes. “That’s the thing.” The words seemed almost methodical. “We did that. We adopted, integrated ourselves, breed into the society, in fact...that’s the issue. We live a very long time, we have, these days, few children, and the ones we do have, well, they're mostly along Sarah's line than ours. The Kzin still had the numbers, and that's what it will always come down to. And I hate myself for sounding so defeatist, Dread Lady. I have faced and bested so many opponents, ones I could touch and hurt, but now...” He stopped, rose from the bed, and looked outside as he collected another drink. “We have our legacy in the ghouls, perhaps I just need to accept that.”

“Is there a reason why you could not begin a concerted breeding program? With the technology available today, even invitro efforts and other methods, along with preserving DNA, surrogates ... Clodius, there are so many avenues that could be employed, and they wouldn't necessarily have to depend on 'forcing' anyone into relationships they weren't ready for, or wanted, “Nathicana countered.

Clodius laughed at something he could see. “Yeah, surrogate an egg and a baby with the strength and ferociousness of a Bengal tiger, I can see the people just lining up.” He stopped himself. “Never forget, we are beast masquerading as men, Dread Lady, not the other way round. We remain monsters and all the biological baggage that brings. Two year gestation, thirty year adolescence, and they would still all go the way of Sempero regardless. “

“Are there not enough of you left to oversee it then? A few dedicated members who would be willing to make that sacrifice of raising and teaching?” she asked, pressing him regardless of the inherent danger in doing so. “Or are you so convinced that no matter what opportunity may exist, all is already lost, and all you have to do is choose how you end it all?”

IT’S NOT NUMBERS.” The sound is terrifying, the voice, the room almost shaking as the booming voice of a creature far larger than the man Nathicana saw reverberated around the room. His eyes turned black, he fangs suddenly clearly retracted. Another brief pause, his chest pounding, the sound of air drawing into his long like a crashing wave, and then...

Nothing. He backed down, eyes returning to normal, horror crossing his features on his loss of control. “It’s not numbers.” He repeated softly. We have ten million, we could have one, we could have a hundred. It doesn't matter.”

“You're right...” Clodius said it even softer, a true whisper. “We just have to adapt.”

Nathicana had braced herself at the outburst, expected though it was, her body tensed in expectation, were she required to take action. “And you're right - I don't understand it all. If it isn't numbers, what is it that has you in such despair, aside from the seeming loss of your protégé?”

Clodius looked at his hand, the glass that had rested in it had broken and crushed in the grip, leaving a crude sparkling powder and a few shards embedded in the skin. A slow trickle of blood drip from the small cuts, running in the small channels and pits of ancient scars. “I am a dragon, a pure honest to god winged draconid capable of tearing anything that opposes me to pieces, and I pretend to be a man. Sempero, is a man, who pretends to be a dragon.”

“But,” the Freestian looked at the trickling blood. “As you said, we have to adapt.”

Nathicana nodded, then quietly rose and retrieved a hand towel, bringing it back to Clodius, and gently placing it over his hand, fingertips lingering in what she hoped was a comforting gesture. “Would it be ... easier, if you had somewhere else to go, and attempt to thrive? Somewhere that the rules of the society you've chosen to become a part of would not hinder your natures?”

“I want...” He looked down at the towel as his hands left long crimson streaks across the material. The wounds closed rapidly, a biology built for survival gave his even simple advantages like that, but he appreciates the gesture still, subconsciously letting his fingers wrap around hers. “Yes. We need a home. But we do have our commitments still, and for one, I will always honour them.”

Her brows knit in a frown as she pondered the quandary, not making any move to withdraw her hand as she studied him quietly. “I wish I knew how to truly help. Aside from offering land ... though if I understand your people, a replacement isn't the ideal thing desired.”

She understood the lengths one might go to preserve what they felt was important, especially when it came to bloodlines and family. But this ... this was hard. “Is there anything I can do, Clodius?” she asked quietly.

“Maybe I just need time.” He smiled at her, genuinely affectionate; his scars seemed to recede slightly as his colour returned. “I have yet to bested, and perhaps I will find a solution. Life takes its course.” He held onto her hand. “Thank you.”

Nathicana squeezed his hand and nodded, smiling softly. “I've no doubt a warrior like you will overcome any obstacle thrown in your path. It may not be easy, but you will somehow find a way. As will Sempero.”

Clodius paused. “Maybe. His path is chosen, it seems, and I have never seen him more dedicated.” The pain associated with the name seemed to have receded. “Why are you doing this though?” He asked, again, his voice going soft, almost scared of the question.

“I suppose the expected answer would be 'I'm a damned meddler' - and there are no few who believe that, firmly,” she offered, her smile wry. “To be blunt, you intrigue me. And I've enjoyed your company. And well, you did ask me to join you for a nightcap and further conversation, and I was not averse to either one.”

Her smile turned slightly mischievous all the same. “And if you wished an opinion, or even someone to talk to, I intended to give you honest talk and opinion in return. I wouldn't think it that great a mystery?”

“I guess not.” His smile began to mimic hers. “I do appreciate it. And I am extremely grateful. I...” He paused, biting his lip, but his eyes now seemed bright and alert, his composure and pose returning. “Would you care to stay a while longer, it’s been a very long time since I've had such charming company?”

One of Nathicana's brows arched up gracefully, a single fingertip slowly tracing the curvature created by his thumb and forefinger as she looked up at him, unblinking. “How could I resist such a gracious offer? I don't have any pressing engagements,” she said, trailing off.

“Mei amica, sei molto bella,” he paused. “My apologies, that was awful.” He laughed. “Come, more vino, save our hosts deciding to change their plans again.”

“Agreed,” Nathi replied, laughing softly, and not unkindly as she kept his hand in hers, leading the way back to the couch and their glasses. “Good wine is never something to waste, and all the better when shared in good company.”

“Good company indeed.” He lifted the bottle and casually replaced the contents of Nathicana's glass for her. “Consider it a sign I trust you but, would you mind if I did something I haven't had the chance to do for a long while?”

“Trust is a valuable commodity,” she replied, tilting her head in a gesture of respect, then regarding him curiously. “Please, feel free.”

“It's a mistake I can afford to make. The question is, of course, if you trust me. I would politely ask you for a little discretion for a moment or two.”

This of course, only increased her curiosity, and she sat back into the couch, studying him for a moment. “I don't think I would be here unattended if I did not trust you, or my abilities to handle myself were my instincts for once horribly off,” she stated, not taking her eyes off him. “My discretion you have, Lord Clodius.”

“Good.” He stripped the black under tunic off, indeed, in very quick succession the rest of his clothing followed, quick, simple, a military fold and the clothes themselves lay in a small black pile on the table. Whether she choose to watch or not seemed irrelevant to him, but the rest of his body seemed to follow his arms, wiry muscled, scarred, athletic and worn. He didn't look back at his companion, but simply walking to where the suite was widest, threw his head back and roared.

He dropped to all forms, his pale flesh disappearing in a bulge of black as his body morphed, the floor beneath him shuddering as his very being changed. The tables and furniture vibrated, the bottle smashed on the floor. Where Clodius had been sat an arched, twisting scaled form.

The beast unfurled slowly, a tail, long and whip like uncurled and slowly meandered behind the bulk of the body. Wings, folded up tightly still put a small aircraft to shame as the bulk of the dragon slowly rose on its four limbs.
A head, snout and all, jaw lined with razor like teeth and a pair of dagger sized sabres. Horns protruded from the rear of the armoured, thickly muscled skull, from nose to tip as long as Nathicana was tall. Hands the size of dustbin lids produced scimitar like claws, followed by even more curved blades on his hind legs. The limbs themselves were pillars, with muscles like butcher's carcasses hung upon them. Every sinew and every fiber showed through the thick hide, wings and all, a monster that rose to its full height, still on all fours, scrapping the ceiling a dozen feet overhead.

“Boo.” Clodius the dragon whispered, his grin still recognisable even a foot across and flanked by his tyrannosaurus like jaw muscles. He stretched, cracking and creaking his long unused form, a sound like a car being crushed being brought to mind. Giant 6 inch gouges appeared in the floor as his talons tore through the stone like paper.

“I swear this gets harder every time.”

How does one react to their first time witnessing such a magnificent transformation? Nathicana had heard of, but never seen, a trueform Freestian. And whatever it was that she might have expected, it fell far short of the beautiful, bestial symmetry that Clodius' natural form comprised.
Certainly, she could have suppressed her reactions, maintained her cool, aloof demeanor she usually chose to exhibit in situations like this, but there was no need here. And her amazement, and to some extent, instinctual fear and appreciation, was clear on her face, though there was no hint of disgust or rejection.

Her eyes tracked the graceful curve of his tail, the fold of his wings, and she licked her now dry lips slowly as she studied his vicious claws, and further up to those dreadful teeth.

“I can see why your humaniform trammels you so,” she said quietly. “You ... are ... quite breathtaking, Lord Clodius.”

This. This is what we truly are.” Clodius offered a hand, the thick individual fingers each thicker than a man's arm. “Thanks again. I haven't had the opportunity for a while.” It is a warm but guttural sound, causing low vibration through the ground.

Nathicana shivered in spite of herself, letting out a slow breath she'd barely realized she'd been holding. “No, thank you for choosing to share. My God ... I had no idea. How hard it must be.” The latter seemed to be spoken almost to herself as she continued to study his serpentine form.

The vampire, the name seemed inappropriate now, cocked his head slightly to look at Nathicana with one eye. “I know. But it’s a price willingly paid.” Evident now as he leaned in closer were the scars that remained. Seemingly bunched and numerous on his smaller form they now appeared in their original size, giant slashes across his whole body, the bullet holes now cannon bore splotches the size of dinner plates. “Just...this is what I am, for all appearances, for all efforts at grace. I'm a dinosaur, I suppose, in more ways than one.”

“Bah. Dinosaur my ass,” Nathi said, choosing to be more direct in light of things, though her voice still held a touch of awe. “There's much more to you than whatever form you happen to be in - I've seen that, even in the short time I've had to spend with you. You're not extinct, you're not some non-sentient beast, and you've got a damn sight longer to enjoy the pleasures life has to offer, or I'm going blind.”

“You are too kind.” He backed up, even the simple movement of weight causing the room to shake, a vase dropped off a table and smashed on the floor, the sound echoing the mighty footfalls. Clodius looked awkward, or as awkward and apologetic as his form allowed. “I better, yeah...”

He reclined, sitting back on his haunches like an oversized dog, his tail wrapping up around him. Another cry, another roar, another horrific blur of flesh and colour, and sitting in the centre of the floor sat Clodius the vampire again.

He spat, the pain of the transformation slowly receding to a dull ache, he rose slowly, jittering, but his body now seemed slightly different, as if the joy of finally being back in his true form had caused a few subtle changes, he seemed more lithe, quicker, the hint of silver in his black hair now gone. “Damn, that felt good.”

Nathicana watched him from her seat on the couch, eyeing him appreciatively. “It looked pretty damned impressive too,” she commented.

He cracked his body again, its reformation require another stretch as his bones popped back fully into place. “Honestly, you have no idea what a pain in the arse the tail is to retract.” He smiled now, and he actually seemed, happy, not just appreciative but almost smugly relaxed, back in his element. He turned and picked up a spare glass, finishing off the bottle. “Should I grab another?”

She chuckled, tilting her head to the side, her smile once again mischievous. “I'm afraid any thoughts of drinking me under the table may misdirected,” she teased. “I cheat. But still, it is good wine, and if you'd care to share some more, I'd be quite happy to.”

“The night is young. And I think it would be fun to test your enhancements. Tis only fair after all.”

Both brows arched up at that, a light of challenge showing in her eyes. “Testing my enhancements, is it? Just how ... much of a test are you pondering?”

“Let’s go for endurance, shall we?”

Her smile grew positively wicked at that, and she nodded slowly. “I hope they have something to eat in these rooms,” she commented idly, rising gracefully to her feet, then stretching languorously. “You're in for a long night.”

The Garbage Men 23-05-2009 01:31
Nerrida looked as Nesar fled, it finally twigged. He was an assassin and he thought she was one too. That was certainly interesting he must thing that she's targeting Trevor.

“Damnit” she spoke out loud as she got up and followed the mass into the room. Now that he had basically told her what he does, when he finds out that the pretenses that it was gained under were false. Then perhaps she might be a target.

She sat down, a row behind and a couple of seats over from Trevor, just far enough away to have trouble hearing what was going on but close enough to step in should it be necessary.

Trevor on the other hand was intrigued by what was going on, seeing a nation's ceremonies for things like this gave an insight into the national identity. Though when the Empress fell things had a whole new meaning. He could tell that something wasn’t right, partly because usually the potential physical injury is not apart but primarily because of the priests and everyone's reactions, particularly Kayel's.

He watched quietly sitting as Sempero picked her up and took her away, presumably to a private area though he had to wonder how Sempero knew and why he would be allowed into such area.

Trevor sat quietly give due recognition and respect to the circumstance that a ruler of a people like the Roanians deserved. After a minute or so after they had left. “I don't know what's happening now, but I suppose this will be as good a time as any to talk, at least until we know what's going to happen.”

He turned to Naiya and Marcus gave a concerned smile, noting the events around Alessa

Roania 23-05-2009 04:08
Alessa slowly woke up and looked at the ceiling. She sat up urgently, touching her arms as she realised she was wearing someone else's shirt. “What's going on?”

Sempero rose slowly from his chair, his eyes still wide awake despite his ceaseless vigil over the night. He walked into the room, bringing with him a fresh breeze of cool morning air. The vampire, treading softly, walked over to the bed and climbed so he knelt next to Alessa on the covers. “Morning, Empress.” He said, softly.

She looked up at him, tracing her eyes over his face, then she reached out and took his hand, squeezing it.

Sempero squeezed with the lightest touch back, smiling in as reassuring a manner as possible. “How are you feeling?”

She fell back onto her pillow, closing her eyes. “Sick.” She mumbled. “But better for having you here.” She wriggled her way out of his shirt and dropped it on the ground. “You need to shower.” She sighed and turned away. “I mean. Before you go...”

“Yeah. I wanted to talk to you about that...” He didn't let go of her hand. His face dropped slightly. “I want to ask you a question, Alessa. I know I have been a bastard to you, an absolute arsehole, I know that the last few months have been...I know I haven't been the best of people to you.” He tried to look at her. “Thing is. I want to make it up to you.”

“Make it up to me?” She asked, still not looking at him. “Sempero, there's nothing to forgive.” She shuddered, putting her other hand on her waist for a moment.

An instinctual reaction flowed through the vampire, and he leaned forward to cradle her, to try and protect her from the pain. Unsure of how much good he could do Sempero stopped in the middle of the action. “If you can forgive me, I am eternally grateful, whether I can forgive myself for that I am unsure, but...” He moved his free hand under her chin, a gentle touch to try and encourage her to look back up at him.
“Alessa. Last night I....resigned my commission in the Navarrok Guard. Clodius is no longer my Lord and I am no longer a servant of my people.”

Alessa turned back to him, but drew away. She sat up rapidly, staring at him, then coughed heavily. “You did what?” She demanded of him. “Did Lord Clodius approve of that?”

“No. It doesn't matter.” He responded simply. “You, are my mistress now.”

She turned her head away. “Sempero...”

The silver shoulder length hair shook gently as he leaned closer in, so his lips brushed her ear. “I am here, now, and for as long as you want me to be. No conditions, no regrets, nothing. I love you, and I will not abandon or betray you again.”

She shivered as his lips touched her. “Sempero, you can't just turn your back on everything...” She touched his face, looking at him for a long moment. “I love you too, but I wouldn't... I wouldn't just abandon my responsibilities.” Alessa reached forward and kissed him on the lips. “Please, talk to Clodius again.”

Sempero withdrew slowly. “I...” He was lost for words. “There is nothing that needs to be said. But for you...” He moved back fully into his kneel position, almost like a sentinel as he scanned her and the room over quickly. “For you anything.” He finished belatedly.

She reached up and kissed him again, throwing her arms around his neck, clinging to him tightly, her eyes closing. She trembled with emotion. “Sempero...” She whispered.

“Is my name. Yes.” He laughed, and kissed her softly back, wrapping one strong arm around her to support her fragile form.

She sighed.”I love you. But if you do stay, what will you do?”

“Look after you, of course.” Sempero replied simply.

She smiled. “It might get boring.”

“Oh I am sure you'll get yourself into trouble before long. Anyway, as you said, shower, want to go back to sleep or?”

She shook her head. “I should... I should go to meet with people.” She stood up and staggered a little. “I'll get dressed...”

“Hey now, you need to be clean too!” Sempero said, jokingly perhaps, but still in a single motion swept her up in his arms and jumped off the bed, landing the floor with a dull thud as his legs bent to take the force of deceleration. Smiling mischievously, he carried her in the direction of the bathroom.

Nathicana and her children were woken up shortly after the sun rose The male by the door studied his list and yawned exaggeratedly. “Her Most Radiant Majesty is unwell this morning, so please keep your meeting brief, my lady. Especially since you're the first guests, on her special request.” He picked up his staff, opened the door, and thumped the wood on the floor. “Presenting Imperatrice Nathicana, Prince Marcus Treznor, and Princess Naiya to your court.”

The second set of doors swung wide, and revealed the glowing throne room just as Rudan's orange sun flooded the chamber with light. The marble floors shone, as did the strangely swirling carpet that led up to the grand throne of the Empire, a massive silver edifice on which the current occupant seemed very small indeed. Smaller now, too, as she sat there, her chin resting on her shoulder as she leaned against the cushion, seeming very weak.

Even the sight of Nathicana and Marcus did not inspire more than a weak smile. Naiya rated Alessa raising her eyebrows, and she turned her head away for a moment to speak to someone. A familiar voice in her ears. “Be careful, oh enchanting one.” Nesar's ventriloquism reached her from where he stood by a pillar, filing his nails unconcernedly. “Our dear empress seems to have taken against you for some reason. I blame your beauty, myself.”

Slowly, Alessa rose from her seat and walked down the stairs to greet her guests. Behind her, Radmiel and Daria watched with concern as she staggered across the room, occasionally leaning against one of the guards who accompanied her. As she came closer, her strain showed itself in the dullness of her eyes and the seeming limpness of her hair. “I want to apologize for the unfortunate events of last night and for making you wait.” She murmured, a wan smile crossing her lips as she reached the small party. “I hope it wasn't too dreadful in my palace...”

She managed to find some energy and rose to her (rather unimpressive) height. “I have done some thinking, and I have made some decisions regarding the issues discussed yesterday. But that might wait for a few moments.” She swayed slightly and closed her eyes, finding a reservoir of internal strength. “I understand that you have a present for me?”

Dread Lady Nathicana 24-05-2009 00:22

TGM – the night before …

Both the siblings remembered their promise to meet with Trevor afterwards, and so were not surprised to see him after all the turmoil, and their mother had parted company.

“Of course we’d be happy to discuss,” Naiya replied pleasantly. “Perhaps you could join us as we walk – we could offer you a drink when we get to the rooms, no doubt.”

Roania – the next morning …

Nathicana and the twins were prepared for the following morning, in spite of the earliness that might be thought of as being mildly inappropriate considering the events of the previous night. They had thought that there was a chance tradition would be given a miss on account of Alessa’s apparently fragile state, but as that was not the case, they carried on.

A quick message over Spook was sent, and Operation Wing and a Prayer was activated and set on notice once again, simply awaiting the key words.

Dressed in simple yet formal Dominion attire, the trio entered the throne room together, Nathicana in the middle, her children to either side. If the previous evening had been less than restful, none showed any signs, though there was a watchfulness about their demeanor, even before the whispered warning reached Naiya’s ears.

Well that’s just fantastic. A hypermagical empress, irritated at me for simply being me? What next? I was asked here with the rest, she thought petulantly, maintaining as neutral an expression as she could manage.

The party met Alessa as far forward as protocol allowed, Marcus looking on with clear concern as the delicate empress approached.

“Again, Divine Empress,” Nathicana replied to the first, offering the pale girl a respectful nod – perhaps a degree or so deeper than might ordinarily be expected between peers of state. “Your palace and staff have been more than pleasant, and it has been a pleasure to be able to partake of your hospitality. I think we’ve all been more concerned for you and your health. There is truly no need to stay standing on our account, especially given how much you have been through in the past day, if you would be more comfortable on your throne?”

“Or if you require some support,” Marcus offered quietly, clearly ready to assist if Alessa required it.

“We do indeed have a gift, though it might be thought of as mildly … unconventional,” Nathicana continued. “At your leisure, Divine Empress.”

Roania 24-05-2009 01:07
Alessa smiled wanly and quietly leaned against Marcus's side, her soft body once again melting into him. “It is a shame...” She whispered, for his ears only, as her hand momentarily traced up the small of his back. “Thank you, Your Highness.” She said, out loud, closing her eyes for a moment. “These states come and go, and I will recover soon, but I appreciate the gesture. It is so formal to sit on a throne when greeting people, I believe...” She took a deep breath, brushing against Marcus again, and smiled. “Now. Present!”

Scolopendra 24-05-2009 01:19
The “present” is a three-meter cube wrapped in silvery mirror-finish paper being carried in on the shoulders of a full dozen burly palace peons using handles provided for them on the bottom of the cube; the wrapping paper is cunningly cut around the handles, so its apparent perfect flatness remains unmarred and yet there is still no hint of what is inside except for the distinct smell of fruit, flowers, and cinnamon. Maybe it's some sort of absolutely huge pastry.

One side of the present bursts open in a blur of white, paper shredding as the whole squadron of muscular servants are sent tumbling harmlessly like bowling pins. The eye resolves the white blur into a horse somewhere in mid-flight just before it lands before the throne, steaming softly in horsey excitement, and from nowhere a gentle but firm breeze whips in to ruffle through the horse's mane. Then again, looking at the horse's mane, it's not a horse, if the curled pointy horn in the middle of its forehead is any indication. Oh, and it has a rider, too, riding bareback whilst wearing buccaneer boots, black breeches, and white tunic conveniently untied over the top of the man's chest so as to reveal his bronzed, well-defined muscles. The inexplicable breeze also blows through his moderately short blond hair, which always seems to fall back in just the right place in a sort of tousled ruggedness. His lantern jaw ends in a moderately cleft chin hard enough to crush diamonds, his broad grin exposes preternaturally white teeth, and his blue eyes are simultaneously piercing and gentle, depending on how one looks at them.

Magnus Hesche wiggles his eyebrows and grins before raising one hand in a little wave of greeting. “Happy birthday!”

Roania 24-05-2009 01:35
Alessa blinked at the box as it opened. There was a moment when the entire world seemed to go fuzzy, and then Alessa was suddenly away from Marcus and at the side of the newcomer, clinging to him with a passion. “M-Magnus Hesche!” Her beautiful body immediately folded against him and she closed her eyes, finding a much needed stability against his rock-solid body. She seemed to forget that Nathicana and her family were even present for a moment as she suddenly kissed Hesche, then looked down at the unicorn, then back up at Hesche.

“This might take a few minutes.” Daria said, coming down the stairs to meet them. She, herself, was clenching her fingers so hard that her nails almost drew blood, as if struggling with her own strange desires. But that would be ridiculous, of course. “Perfect timing, then, to discuss what we can do for you, Imperatrice.”

Dread Lady Nathicana 24-05-2009 01:36
Marcus tries to support Alessa as chastely as possible, in spite of her teasing, though he finds it impossible to suppress a shiver at her light touch, which brings immediate color to his face. He clears his throat, and looks self-consciously away from his sister and mother for a moment all the same.

Nathicana does her best not to show any amusement at her son’s seeming predicament. After all, he pretty much put himself right in it, and he would have to learn sooner or later how these things panned out. She doubted Alessa meant any real harm to the boy, and thus she saw no reason to do or say anything about any of it for now.

As if summoned – which in a way, it was – the ‘gift’ arrives with all the flash and sexiness which one might expect, and the two women step back, not wanting in any way to distract. Marcus remains supportive for only so long as the Empress seems to want or need, then joins his family as well.

Naiya nods and smiles at the entrance, taking the opportunity of attention elsewhere to give her brother a look that he recognizes all too well. There will be much teasing and tormenting later. Much more than he would like, no doubt.

“Divine Empress, if I may … your present,” Naiya says, still smiling. “We hope it in some small way makes up for the unpleasantness you've gone through of late.”

All three smile and signal their eternal gratitude to Magnus for this rather huge, and very much appreciated favor while the Empress is otherwise occupied.

“Lady Daria,” Nathi says quietly, not wanting to detract from Alessa's moment. “You've already done enough, what with the trade contracts and the opportunity to design for the Empress, and with her hospitality. Truly, we require nothing further.”

Scolopendra 24-05-2009 01:50
Magnus aids Alessa in front of him on the unicorn's back--although, given her ecstatic leap he really doesn't have to work too hard--and he of course returns the heartfelt kiss in properly heroic fashion. He looks at her, then down at the unicorn, who swishes his tail patiently for the bipeds on his back to do something.

“So,” Hesche says, grinning broadly, “wanna go for a ride?” His eyebrows once again waggle impishly.

Roania 24-05-2009 02:20
Alessa nodded, not trusting herself to speak, all other thoughts having flown from her mind as she tightly squeezed herself against Hesche. “Oh my...” She whispered.

“Well, that was interesting.” Radmiel said, coming down from his position by the pillar and joining Daria, followed shortly after by Nesar. “I believe, however, that Her Majesty did have some gifts for our friends here, Daria.”

“Oh, quite right. But we shouldn't distract her from her own present. She'll be happy just to know that her gifts got to their correct owners.” Daria smiled a bit sickly at agreeing with Radmiel. “You see, it is our custom that on a birthday, gifts are exchanged, so as to prevent either party from being obligated. A strange custom, I know, but nevertheless ours.” The beautiful woman brushed her hair back and sashayed across the room, the influence of Hesche seeming to have momentarily made Daria forget her hatred of femininity. “Now then... Radmiel, pay attention. Sword and sheathe for Marcus.”

Radmiel sighed and presented Marcus with a short 'gladius' sword, one with the Dominion's Falcon carefully worked out in a stylized fashion in gold and silver. “Careful now, it's sharp.” He withdrew the blade for a moment, and it caught the light, shining with a radiance all of its own. “Don't worry, we know how you people don't like magic, so we didn't put any in there. It's the finest craftsmanship the forgers have made in decades.”

“Lady Naiya. This necklace was a personal favorite of our Empress' mother, and she specifically asked it be given to you.” The thin silver chain with its small jade pendant and studs. “And an anonymous...” Daria glanced at Nesar, who continued to keep his eyes fixed on Calavyr, who had entered the room just in time to catch Alessa leaving it and whose face was somewhere between 'apoplexy' and 'fury', “friend asked that we provide you with this ring.” The ring was nothing particularly fancy, a piece of worked white gold with the bow of House Cheruv worked out on it in turquoise.

“And of course, Lady Nathicana. What to get the woman who has everything, hrm? A problem we deal with every day.” Radmiel pumped up his charm and gave off a distinct impression of a peacock ruffling its feathers. “Beauty, wealth, charm... alas, you are our superior in all these things. But a little bird suggested to us that a knife would be an appropriate gift, and so our empress ransacked our stores for it.” The knife was also presented on a small cushion, and was similarly worked into jade, with a blade of shining metal. “Don't let its looks fool you. This blade was old when our empire was young, and will slice as well as any weapon of steel. It's made in a craft we no longer possess. A token, I believe, of our affection and esteem.”

“It was also suggested that your crown jewels might be missing a certain something. We were going to present this to your ambassador on the anniversary of your acceptance of the throne, but now seems an appropriate time.” Daria clapped her hands, and some servants filed in slowly, bringing with them a case much like the one the imperial diadem had sat in last night. Sitting on it was a Royal Orb, of shining platinum, studded with rubies and with a cross on top made of a strange red stone. “Please, take this with our regards.”

Dread Lady Nathicana 24-05-2009 03:49
Marcus accepted the sword with a graceful and practiced air, having been exposed to, even trained rather extensively, in the handling and use of various arms. He inspected it appreciatively, nodding at Radmiel’s explanations, and smiling genuinely as he re-sheathed the fine weapon, and offered the Roanians an appropriate bow.

“My sincere thanks,” he said simply. “It is truly a beautiful blade.”

Naiya’s eyes were drawn immediately to the direction the Empress had left at the explanation of the necklace’s origins, though she looked back quickly to Daria, then to Nesar, then to his target, and back. She shivered almost imperceptibly at knowing the man was in the room with them, though she kept her attention on those presenting the gifts for now.

Why Alessa would give her something that sentimental was a mystery, especially after the odd warning she’d received. And one brow arched up curiously at the gift of the ring, though she accepted both with a graceful curtsey, her eyes unblinking, gently smiling in spite of her growing agitation.

Bene grazie – thank you, very much. I will cherish them both, though I’m not certain I deserve them,” she murmurs softly.

Nathicana watches the situation closely, quite frankly not trusting a damn one of these Roanians further than she could spit if the truth were known – not after all the maneuvering from the night before, in any case, now that Alessa was no longer present. Calavyr’s entrance had her immediately on her guard, though she hid it well, and she kept an eye on him until it was her turn to receive a gift.

And what a gift it was. First the knife, which was rather beautiful in and of itself, and certainly looked to be more than simple ornamentation, as indicated. The fact that its production was a lost art, and yet they were parting with it willingly, impressed her even more.

The orb was stunningly beautiful, and quite appropriate, given the color accenting it. She accepted the gifts with a gracious nod, and a sincere smile, thanking each of them together.

“Please, convey our thanks to the Divine Empress when next the opportunity arises, if we are not in a position to thank her ourselves. And thank you both for your part in presenting them. It will be the first time the crown jewels contain a foreign-made object. I believe history has been made with this gift in particular.”
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Postby Roania » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:21 pm

Scolopendra 24-05-2009 04:00
Without sparing a glance to the Dominioners to see that they're sufficiently distracted--for one, this is their plan and for two they had him in a box with a unicorn for a day and a half--Magnus smiles down at the Roanian practically in his lap, holds her close, and tilts his heels into the unicorn's sides, putting one hand on the side of the fantastic horned-horse's neck to guide him. The unicorn winnies happily and rears back on his hind legs because unicorns must always strike a pose rampant, then turns on its cloven hooves towards the door and bolts into a gallop. Magnus guides the unicorn at breakneck pace through the palace, deftly dodging servants and peons and people that just happen to be in the way with a schoolboy grin and the wind whipping through his hair. The unicorn bounds down stairwells, seeming to glide down rather than jump--it is a magical animal, after all--and gallops down to the first floor, past guards who have already been briefed that this will happen and to not be alarmed.

Speeding through the main hall, Magnus leans over just enough to snag a bottle of wine and two glasses from a relatively passing tray, then a small basket of hors d'oeuvre from another tray, surprising the carrying servants with a gust of air and a flash of friendly but oh so bright teeth. Somehow pouring a glass for Alessa on the back of a running unicorn, Magnus holds the glass steady so she can sip from it without spilling a drop while digging his heels a little more into the unicorn's sides.

On the signal, the unicorn jumps.

Seeing the jumping unicorn, two guards open the window the unicorn is attempting to jump through.

The unicorn lands gently but firmly, and still Magnus keeps Alessa's drink steady as the unicorn gallops into the thicker and more secluded portions of the palace gardens.

Roania 24-05-2009 05:02
“Well. That went well, I think, Daria.” Radmiel said after a few uncomfortable moments, studying his watch. The Dominion Party had been escorted quietly to the side for the moment.

“Yes... very well. Radmiel.” Daria studied her own watch, then pulled out a newspaper and began to read it.

“So, how are the... uh... the Eagles doing?”

Fortunately, the two enemies were spared any more forced banter after Alessa's return. She took her accustomed seat without any word on where Hesche or the unicorn were, though it was her plain intention to rejoin both of them once this was finished. “So, uh, who's next?”

“Lord Alakantar Aleanrahel, Your Majesty.”

“Oh! Excellent, excellent...” Alessa smiled at the room, seeming to have recovered some sense of equilibrium. “Send him in, then!”

Northrop-Grumman 24-05-2009 18:43
Utter silence persisted throughout the entirety of the darkened guest quarters, broken only in the slightest by the evenly-paced, deep heaving of Alakantar’s chest, as he laid his back against the wooden bed’s footboard while in meditation. He had been resting here in such a state for the past hour, in an attempt to clear his thoughts of any undue anxiety concerning what he had to face within the next several hours and to restrain his emotions so that they would not impair his judgment in any such way. And for the most part, he had managed to achieve these goals which was apparent if anyone could catch a glimpse of him in this unlit room. His hands, palms up and suspended in midair over his thighs, were completely steady without any trembling or twitching, his expression was in no way distressed and actually maintained a rather emotionless tone about them, and his heartbeat and breathing fluctuated little from their steady pace.

Though, as is typically the case with almost all these things, any moment of relaxation and peace with the world and one’s self must eventually meet their end, and a sharp rap upon the guestroom’s door brought this end to the drow. But he did not jolt in surprise nor did he immediately answer the person on the other side, knowing full well that he was being called to present himself before the Empress. His eyes slowly opened, staring across the floor at the entrance, before he rose to his feet, stepping over toward the doorway and removing the glass of water propped up against it.

“Alright, I’m coming,” he answered the servant, before taking a long drink of the still somewhat-cold beverage and placing it down upon a nearby nightstand.

Thankfully, he had been expecting this summoning for quite some time and already had been completely dressed and situated well before departing the room to be led through the maze of halls to where he was being expected. But as opposed to the prior evening, Alakantar had decided that he would opt for more comfortable clothing, partially because he was tired of the constricting tuxedo but also because he needed some flexibility in the event of a duel, so he instead chose black slacks with accompanying shoes, a buttoned snow-white dress shirt without a tie and partially opened toward the neck, and a black suit jacket that matched the pants – all trying to maintain a relaxed fitting upon him without severely sacrificing formality, which was still quite important. The finishing touch to all this was that he tied his hair back into a pony-tail behind him, so that it would keep from falling into his eyes and being an unnecessary distraction.

So when he had finally entered into the throne room, he performed a last minute check of his hair to assure himself that it was all in place and then stepped forward toward where Alessa was seating, but making sure he was at the proper distance mandated by Roanian protocols when meeting this leader – even going through a rapid calculation in his head to estimate distance using the floor tiles with a two foot buffer just in case.

A quick glance and nod in greeting was given toward Nathicana at the back of the room before his attention was redirected forward in the direction of the throne. “It’s an honor to have this opportunity to speak with you, Your Highness,” Alakantar greeted her, bowing his head respectfully to her. “Your party last night was quite a spectacular event. I don’t believe I’ve ever experienced one quite like that, I must say. But I did miss out on saying one thing and one thing only, it would seem…” He smiled broadly. “Happy birthday.”

The Garbage Men 24-05-2009 23:17
“How can I say no?” Trevor responded eagerly. Nerrida was seemingly floating around with no real purpose.

“Seeing as we are just about to finish up, I suppose I should introduce my security... Nerrida?” He turned to beckon her over. Totally breaking the covert nature of her security but seeing everything was winding down it didn't seem to matter to Trevor.

“This is TGM Security Officer Nerrida, I believe you have met.”

Dread Lady Nathicana 25-05-2009 00:29
“A pleasure,” Marcus responded, with Naiya nodding in agreement, each offering a hand in greeting to Nerrida as well, then making their way with an easy-going pace towards the rooms.

“I hope you’ve been able to enjoy the evening somewhat,” Naiya comments. “I’m not sure Mas or Pascalli have.”

The two guardsmen tailing the twins continue to do so, unconcerned with any introductions or lack thereof, and quietly commenting between themselves as they keep a very careful eye on their charges. It simply wouldn’t do to have anything happen to the cubs whilst mama bear was away, after all. And considering the events previous, they weren’t inclined to take any chances.

“Not to worry, ma’am,” Mas pipes up with, lifting his shades for a moment to offer Naiya a wink and a grin. “So long as you’re content, we are, right Pas?”

Pascalli sighs and rolls his eyes slightly, though hidden behind his glasses. Mas was always the more smartassed of the two, and age hadn’t beaten that quality out of him. “We’re here if you need us, as always,” he replies, giving his long coat a brief tug, nodding at the twins firmly.

“You’d think after so long they’d be tired of having to watch after us,” Marcus says wryly. “I mean, we have put them through it a time or two. I don’t suppose you’ve given Officer Nerrida the same hard time, Signore?”

Roania 25-05-2009 01:22
Alessa blinked slowly at Alakantar. “Well, thank you, then.” She said after a moment. She gave it a few more seconds, inspecting her nails. “So... How is my cousin? I hope you're treating her well? Maybe you should stop by the souvenir store on your way home and bring her a present?”

This was Calavyr's moment to shine. “Arrest that male!” He rose to his feet and pointed at the Drow. “On my authority as Prince of the Realm and Viceroy of Mars, I declare that Alakantar Aleanrahel is guilty of grand theft spaceship, abduction, rape, perjury, interference with an arrest, insults to the dignity of an official of Her Majesty's government, the breach of regulations involving the transport and securing of noxious chemicals, milking a cow that belongs to another individual, simony, throwing stones at a do-not-throw-stones-at-me-sign, jaywalking, littering, adultery most foul, blasphemy, heresy, removing the little tags from mattresses, possession of gardening paraphernalia without a license, feeding the animals in zoos, not feeding the animals in zoos, frottage, and providing aid and comfort to aliens.” The Roanian rose to his full height, towering over the others of his race, and clamped his hand down on Alakantar's shoulder. “He is a liar, a thief, a scoundrel, and a racketeer, a...... a buffoon, a loiterer! He and his wife have conspired to humiliate me at every turn, but I know their crimes, and I demand punishment! Guards, take him away and execute him!”

“Bravo, bravo.” Nesar clapped his hands slowly from where he stood by the pillar, then detached himself from his shadows and walked down to join Calavyr and Alakantar. “Well done, dear boy. You've caught the notorious criminal, Alakantar Aleanrahel.” Nesar took Calavyr's hand off of Alakantar's shoulder and absentmindedly squeezed it. Hard enough that Calavyr winced in pain before the other Roanian released it. “I'm sure we're all agog to hear about how you singlehandedly caught the master criminal as he entered the room.”

“Am I agog, Daria? I don't feel agog.” Radmiel touched his chin. “What is 'agog', anyway? I've never seen it written.”

“You're always agog.” Daria growled softly, dismissing this entire thing as unimportant and wandering off to see if she could find where that unicorn had disappeared to.

Nesar ignored them both. “Your Majesty, while I am, of course, in awe of Prince Calavyr's epic conquest, I believe that we have a law that the accused should be allowed to speak in their favour? Perhaps you might indulge it, just this once? Justiciar Daria, perhaps you might recall it as well?” Daria slowed and stopped at the exit, watching the proceedings, a strange smile hovering on her lips.

Calavyr grew mottled with fury. “There is no such law! My Empress, I demand that you execute this rotten pile of filth this instant!” He crossed the floor to the throne and placed his hands on the armrests, just inches from his cousin's fingers. “I demand that justice be done. Do you hear me, you... you...” Alessa's attention had wandered away and she was no longer paying anyone any attention. “You idiot. Are you even list...” That got her attention. Alessa rose her finger, then lowered it for a moment. One of the guards standing by her throne clubbed Calavyr across the face with the butt of his rifle, sending the prince sprawling.

“I am listening to the rantings of a man who is under a great deal of stress, Calavyr.” Alessa murmured, her eyes glowing soft blue again even as her voice grew hard. “You seek the Law. I am the Law. Alakantar, speak your case, honestly and truly.”

“Your Majesty...” Calavyr gagged as Nesar grabbed his shoulder, squeezing down hard.

“You heard the Empress, my friend. It's time for you to be quiet. After all, surely Alakantar can only confess. Right, criminal scum?” Nesar turned to Alakantar, idly tossing Calavyr on the floor in front of him.

Dread Lady Nathicana 25-05-2009 01:36
It had begun. And they had been prepared for it.

Perhaps some might be confused at the demeanor of the entire Dominion party, standing together, and looking, if anything … quite secure, unruffled, and confident. In Nathicana’s case, mildly amused and even eager.

She in particular watched Calavyr with a coolly-pleasant smile, none of the three rushing forward to Alakantar’s defense, nor making any sudden movements. He should know that he had their full support, and their confidence, as had previously been discussed.

And so they watched; quietly, unblinking, in patient anticipation for whatever was to come.

Oyada 25-05-2009 01:59
“It’s not that I didn’t bring a present,” Naragan began, somewhat testily, as Kyrie’s question percolated through his musings; “it’s merely that… er… well, things haven’t gone to plan.” By now becoming used to Kyrie’s seemingly endless ability to squeeze an innuendo into every sentence, he was not particularly surprised when her dress, already graced with a long slit up each leg, suddenly parted smartly as she withdrew something from it. Then, swiftly and without warning, he was surprised, indeed slightly shocked. For a moment he tensed every muscle in the “fight or flight” reaction that was as old as mankind, every paranoid suspicion about Kyrie’s nature and motives leaping nightmarishly to his consciousness, as she withdrew her hand and brought it upwards, clutching in her hand a small metal object.

He felt rather foolish when he realised that, far from being the great threat his brain had concluded it must be, it turned out simply to be a small computer. The adrenaline still thumping through his veins, sweat drops half-formed slowly dissipating on the surface of his browned skin, Naragan relaxed and went back to listening to Kyrie, very studiedly not looking anywhere lower than her chin, especially as the computer returned to its hiding place. When all was said and done, he was here to represent the people he ruled; it simply would not do to act like some common lecher, though many of those people (in a paradox he had often contemplated in quieter moments) would do so at the drop of a hat. Wearily, for her ceaseless chirpiness could be slightly wearing and his evening was not going at all as he had planned, Naragan cast a long appraisal over the assembled group, pondering his position.

“Why not? As long as there are chairs, snacks, drinks, and somewhere I can put this head.”

The Freethinkers 25-05-2009 02:00
“Clodius.” The dull footsteps that hankered down the hall behind the Freestian lord caused him to turn, his face maintaining his calm demeanour even when he saw his pursuer running down towards him.

“Sempero.” He replied briefly, trying to belie as little emotion as possible. “Good to see you this morning.” Clodius held in his hands a small crimson package; Sempero meanwhile was trying to manhandle a large silver box that he gently placed on the floor with a little fuss. “I trust you slept well.”

“Not really. I’ve thought about your request, and I’ve come to a decision after…much consideration.” The younger vampire said, shaking his silvered locks a little. “I have decided to resign my commission. I have no regrets.” He said it quickly but unmistakably clearly.

“I know. I accept it.” Sempero raised an eyebrow at the lack of challenge. “Sempero, I,..I want to say that it has been a pleasure, not much time for speeches or anything aside from a few old clichés about it being an honour and all, but to be honest I don’t intend for this to be a last conversation or anything.”

“This doesn’t sound like you mate.” Was the confused reply. Sempero still seemed taken aback as Clodius started smiling.

“I had an interesting conversation last night, someone wise enough to point out that my anger, my disparagement of you was….a mask, a pitiful attempt to hide the fact that it is my own failing, my own unwillingness to embrace the present that truly terrified me. You have been nothing but loyal, and the number of times you have gone beyond your duty is uncountable. I will not hold you back from your choice Sempero. You need her, and I think she needs you. Alessa needs help, guidance, love and protection, and I know you can without peer provide that. You have found your calling, Sempero Dyria, I grant you now the title of Dyriandae, Sempero, I consider your commission and position now passed on to your successor. You are free, don’t waste it.”

Sempero nodded. “Thanks Clo.”

The older vampire smiled further. “Just out of cur…” There was a loud crashing sound, followed by the sound of increasingly nearing hooves, and across the hallway in front of them rode a unicorn. With Alessa riding it, enthusiastically enjoying the experience. Behind her sat an unmistakable face that flashes the briefest of white pearly grins as they passed.

The two vampires stared blankly at the brief interruption. It took about ten seconds for the image to figure itself out.

“Was that Alessa on the back of a unicorn riding through the halls with Magnus Hesche?” Sempero asked simply.

“Yes, yes it was.” Clodius turned back to look at Sempero. “Are you feeling that?” He asked, almost troubled.

“It's okay Clodius. That feeling means you are gay for Magnus Hesche. It’s okay, so am I.” He bit his lip and put his arm around his former superior’s shoulders. “Everyone is gay for Magnus.”

The Garbage Men 25-05-2009 02:21
Trevor responded by bending in as if letting the twins in on a secret. “I'll let you in on something, I don't really like having guards. It's not like I have any personal enemies, or enemies of the corporation that can't be easily dealt with. And so basically security people turn into glorified babysitters. It's wasteful of resources, not needed and I can look after myself, it's just surplus to requirements.”

“See, this is the reason why the Chief Security Officer has such a hard time. We think he's got a death wish.” Nerrida half-joked.

“alright, alright, that's enough from the peanut gallery. We have business to discuss.”

“Fine, you're the Boss.” Nerrida replied as she snuck back next to Mas and Pascalli. “Hey.” she added greeting the other guards.

“Sometimes I think they enjoy making my life hard.” Trevor chuckled

“So what was it that you wanted to talk to me about?”
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Dread Lady Nathicana 25-05-2009 04:16
The twins laughed softly at the tease, nodding in understanding. They’d grown up with all of it after all, and while Mas and Pas and the rest were understood to be guarding their lives, nothing truly horrible had ever happened, and the closer ones like these two, had ended up feeling more like protective uncles than ‘just the security’.

“I know what you mean,” Marcus said, reaching for the doorknob to open it for the group – only to be replaced by Pascalli, who shook his head and nodded for Marcus to hold up until Mas could check the room out.

All seemed in order, and after a quick scan, everyone was invited in – with Pascalli bringing up the rear. Both gentlemen nodded and smiled to Nerrida, relaxing a bit more once everyone was safely out of the corridor.

“You’ve got your hands full there too I see,” Mas commented to the lady, nodding in Trevor’s direction, clearly intending no insult by it.

“Could we offer you both a drink?” Naiya asked, going to the wet bar and quickly perusing the contents. Meanwhile Marcus went to the desk to retrieve a paper and pen, writing down several names and various bits of information down.

“Ah yes,” he said in response to Trevor. “You’ll need to get in touch with the people who can actually make things happen for you, and I just happen to know who those people are. I figured it would be simpler to get the information right to you so you could do with it as you saw fit.”

He listed off the ministers one by one, detailing what it was they did, and why Trevor would have to work with each of them.

“Your biggest contact point will be Bernardo di Medici, Trade Minister. Machiavelli is one of his pet projects, and given its purpose, the Trade Ministry oversees much of what goes on there. Antonio Pellegrino’s offices will need to pass off on your credentials, and any security scans required for staff and such. Evangelista Ravanelli, Public Relations, will be key in smoothing the way forward and getting you in touch with the various nations represented on the station, should you care to make contact, and Donatello Calfa is over Finance – his office will decide whether or not we can afford your services in the end. It would be good to get to know all of them, and approach them with the various aspects of the overall plan.”

Northrop-Grumman 25-05-2009 18:32
Throughout the verbal onslaught of charges that had been placed against him and even when he found Calavyr grasping tightly upon his shoulder to be placed under arrest, Alakantar remained steadfast, refraining from any attempts to forcibly push anyone away but at the same time not allowing anyone to pull him from where he stood. And his previously cheerful and personable demeanor melted away at the first sight of the Martian Governor – from then on, retaining an entirely serious expression as he was well aware of the gravity of the situation, no matter how much he had planned for it. Furthermore, his eyes were the only portion of himself that he allowed to move about, flickering back and forth between the two Roanians bickering about how to proceed.

When he was finally allowed the opportunity to address these charges, he clasped his hands neatly behind his back and began to speak, albeit without the slightest hint of anger, irritation, or displeasure in his voice. “Thank you, Your Majesty,” he began with a bow of his head yet again. “These charges that have been placed against me are entirely false and are nothing more than a rationalization – and I use that word very lightly – of a vendetta that Governor Seraph and Lesser House Hakoen have placed against myself and my fiancée for our relationship together. In addition, they have become even more remarkably silly each time I’ve been accused of such, as additional charges are placed against us – most of which make entirely no sense at all – and serve nothing more than to make a mockery of Roanian law or the law of any rational minded nation.”

In trying to resist glancing over toward Calavyr any, the drow cleared his throat with a cough before continuing. “However, another problem lurks beyond these charges and has been a source for much of the conflict that exists between me, my fiancée and House Seraph, which would be that the Governor here has repeatedly committed the acts of attempted assault and murder against us whenever given the opportunity to do so, and has only fallen back upon hiding behind Roanian law when it appears he has failed or when trying to justify his actions. Although, we have not been the only ones found to be at odds with this man as he has already made the attempt to uses whatever is within his power to forcibly take advantage of women at your birthday party and others. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a trend for this man, and I’m sure that others would verify what has been said here and how they’ve been wronged, were they not fearful of the Governor’s power…or had their lives brutally taken from them…”

Dread Lady Nathicana 26-05-2009 00:46
“Not everyone who has been wronged is afraid of the bastard,” Nathicana states simply, the three of them standing if possible, just that much more straight, silently challenging any one of those there with daring to call them liars, making certain the Roanians all understood that the Dominion party very much agreed with and supported Alakantar.

The Garbage Men 26-05-2009 03:00
“It's a challenge, yes, but that's why they don't let just anyone take the role. Which is complicated by the fact that ultimately I'm responsible to follow his orders in addition to performing my job, though it hasn't been a problem, yet.”

While Mas and Pascalli were responsible for taking care of Naiya and Marcus, they were responsible up through the chain of command to the twins’ mother. Though while their charge and the man they were ultimately responsible to were the same, she still had the authority to make appropriate judgments on the spot.

Trevor may not have liked having security people around him 24/7 but there were certainly times when it was handy and increased his standing in front of certain people, so it was as they say 'A necessary evil'.

“If you have some red wine, I'd be delighted” Trevor responded “Nothing for me, I'm still on duty.” Nerrida added.

Trevor accepted the cards, “I'll get the manager of our Martian Depot to start the process then.” He looked over the cards briefly before tucking them away in one of his pockets.

Roania 26-05-2009 03:12
“Well, this can all be discussed at your trial, Alakantar. Plenty of time for you to bring up your accusations against my cousin there, right?” Alessa yawned and waved her hand. “Take them away, and bring him a recorder to...”


“Excuse me?” Alessa blinked at Calavyr.

“I have grown tired of this... creature's petty accusations. I demand trial by combat!”

Alessa's jaw dropped slightly. “Denied, Calavyr. I have better things to do then...”

“It is my right!”

Alessa sighed and turned to Alak. “Well, your thoughts?”

Northrop-Grumman 26-05-2009 03:59
“In all honesty, I have concerns that Governor Seraph might unduly manipulate the proceedings of a trial to my detriment, considering his position and influence in society, in addition to his willingness to discourage others to testify against him. And even if I were to be cleared of all charges against me and my fiancée, there is nothing stopping him from attempting such a thing again or worse.”

“Like the Governor, I too feel that a trial by combat is the only effective way to resolve this manner so that it does not occur again. I understand the risks involved, and I understand that losing this would cause my death.” While briefly pausing what he was saying, Alakantar turned his head toward Calavyr before responding. “I accept your challenge.”

Now, finally moving his entire body for the first time since he arrived, he fully faced his challenger. “And as I understand the rules of such a duel, he who is challenged is the one who selects the weapons for the match. I choose swords.”

Roania 28-05-2009 23:42
"Radmiel, give me options."

The Grand Vizier sighed and looked up at the ceiling. "Well, I suppose we could put them in the garden... or maybe in sub-basement three... I guess we could teleport them to a pocket dimension and then teleport back the survivor?" Radmiel shrugged at his Empress, seemingly at a loss. "Frankly, Your Majesty, our options are limited. Calavyr does have the right to challenge Alakantar to a trial by combat, and Alakantar has the right to accept."

Alessa grumpily collapsed back into her throne and crossed her arms, glaring at Calavyr. "Your Empress would very much prefer if you let this follow usual procedure, Patrician Seraph. Fighting this out by combat is so... barbaric."

"Perhaps, Your Majesty, Calavyr is simply scared about what might come up about his own activities while on Mars in a trial of Alakantar." Daria murmured, her eyes twinkling with barely suppressed merriment. "Perhaps this is his way of confessing to us?"

"You watch your tongue, whore." Calavyr snapped at Daria, growing unnerved by the Dominion party. "I am not in the mood to sit in a courtroom and have lies be paraded about me by worms. Even less am I in the mood to stand in this throneroom and have my motives questioned by sluts."

Alessa's cheeks flared, and her nails dug into the throne. Radmiel quietly leaned onto her spell-slinging hand and shook his head. The Empress kicked her heels in silent fury for a moment, then threw her hands in the air. "Fine! You want to do this? You're such men!" In the same general tone that she would use for 'idiots'. "Guards, bring Calavyr and Alakantar to one of the gardens, arm them, and set them loose on one another."

The guards swaggered forward and took Calavyr and Alakantar brusquely by the arms. "Your majesty?" Nesar rose his voice for a moment. "Perhaps you should set a limit? After all, it would be very bad for our reputation if Calavyr butchered an innocent dignitary from a country we have good relations with."

"Yes, and I suppose it would be a nuisance to deal with the paperwork if, by some good fortune, Calavyr was to die..." Alessa sighed and rubbed her forehead, feeling the silver chain locking her hair in place. "Very well. You may fight to the first blood. If one of you kills the other, I will personally make him wish he was dead."

"Your Majesty, I protest! This man has slandered me in the presence of my peers. Honour demands..."

"Honour will accept what it is given, Calavyr." Alessa turned her head away.

Radmiel stepped forward and held his hands up. "The Empress has spoken, in light, in truth, in dream, in flame. Let her will be done."

Roania 29-05-2009 00:23

New Naggoroth

Casir sighed and squeezed Aeselle's hand with a smile. "She's in good hands now. I'm just upset because I went and had to get ready for my part in this, and now it seems to be canceled." He was, in truth, very worried, but he didn't want to concern the dark elves. "No you don't, little lady." He picked up the over eager Scarlett and put her in his lap. "Miss Alessa is just tired." He sighed again and stood up, holding Scarlett appropriately and also catching the slightly less ambitious Ellenith. "I'm sure she's fine and she'll be very happy to see us in the morning."


Kyrie deftly grabbed Naragan's arm and pulled him along. "You don't like these events either? Oh, good. I was afraid I was all alone in the galaxy, which is statistically improbable. Come on, I know just where to take you." She pulled him to the door and through it, giving the guards a perplexed smile when one of them snickered and winked at Naragan.

New Naggoroth 29-05-2009 00:52
Aeselle sighed as she scooped up Elly, who yawned almost immediately. Scarlett squirmed a bit in Casir's arms, but stilled and gave him a big smile.

"You know..." she commented as she brushed back Elly's hair back, tucking it behind her ear. "It's well past the bed times of these two, naps or not. Perhaps we should retire as well..."

Briefly, she quirked an eyebrow as she followed the crowd out of the coronation chamber, and smiled a little impishly at the host she'd become quite attached to. "Perhaps, hmm, perhaps you might have a bottle of wine in that suite adjoining the bedroom these little darlings were occupying earlier? While they need to be put down for the night, I think I would rather enjoy a nightcap," she paused, and reached out to take Casir's hand. "If you would as well, of course..."

Dread Lady Nathicana 29-05-2009 18:00
The Dominion party continued to watch the scene with quiet confidence, matching Calavyr’s nervous looks with cold emotionless stares. While now and then their fingers briefly flickered in their silent mode of communication, no further words were offered.

Nathicana however did roll her eyes when talk began of ‘limitations’. And Alessa’s rather childish reaction to it all. Calculations started rolling around in her head on how to properly solve Calavyr herself if the opportunity arose – perhaps allowing Alakantar to exact some private revenge. This duel was absolutely ridiculous as it stood, but as the Empress had spoken, and Radmiel had confirmed, there really wasn’t anything to be done, as disappointing as it was.

One thing was certain however, should there be any … slips, Nathicana planned on being prepared.

“Lord Radmiel, Lady Daria, if we may make a request of the Empress?” She asked in a quiet voice that carried nonetheless. “We wish to serve as witnesses if we may. Representatives uninvolved in the actual duel surely would be a welcome witness, so as to confirm the ah, outcome to any parties daring to question?”

The unspoken insinuation was of course, that their word should bloody well be sufficient and taken honorably, and those who would question it would … be dealt with appropriately.

Roania 29-05-2009 20:19
Alessa sighed and held her hands up. "You too?" She asked Nathicana, dejectedly. "Oh, very well. If you want, feel free to watch it." The Empress sighed and rubbed the bridge of her nose. "May the Light choose the innocent, etcetera, etcetera. I'm going to my room."

Daria coughed. "Your Majesty, it is considered fit for the Empress to preside over these duels as well." The Justiciar looked to Kouran for confirmation, but Kouran was busy haranguing some aids about the importance of oral hygiene.

"But... I..." Alessa grimaced and rose off her throne. "Oh, fine! Let's get this bloodsport over with, then."

Dread Lady Nathicana 29-05-2009 23:33
"Merely supporting our friend and ally, Divine Empress," Nathicana replied, nodding politely to her fellow monarch. "Bene grazie."

Meanwhile, Naiya communicated with the ship via Spook, very, very quietly, requesting they, and their two bodyguards be prepared for an emergency evac if the word was given - tracking of their now activated signals to facilitate location.

All three continued to watch Calavyr impassively, their only outward reactions those of simple politeness to Alessa and the other Roanians present.

Roania 30-05-2009 03:10


Casir smiled down at Aeselle as he led them back to the guest room. "I believe I would like that," He said, stroking Aeselle's hand with his free fingers even as he shifted the dozing Scarlett. He looked over at a servant and cocked his head slightly.

After Casir opened the door, it was obvious that something was new about the room. A bottle of wine, two glasses, and a bouquet of roses were waiting for them. "Lovely, aren't they? Though they pale by comparison to you, of course..."

Northrop-Grumman 30-05-2009 13:36
The restrictions suggested by Nesar and imposed upon the duel by the Empress had come entirely unexpected to the drow, who arched his eyebrow and frowned slightly- in the only expression of emotion thus far – the moment he had heard of it. This was mainly because he had barely any understanding of why the former would even consider commenting on such a thing, much less actually petition for the change to be made, for it made little sense that a long-time rival of the House would suddenly be granted the opportunity to escape here with his life and cause all sorts of future trouble from what had been done. Even the rationalization behind it seemed rather off, particularly for a Roanian, considering that the consent had already been given by Alakantar and there was this tendency for the Eternal Empire to not really give a damn about foreign consideration. But then again, there was always the possibility that perhaps matters were not as they seem and there was something else going on behind that man’s eyes.

Now when considering what the Empress had spoken about, Alakantar believed that she was being largely inconsistent about this decision. On one hand, she had managed to vaporize the High Priest – who simply opposed her decision to allow foreigners into the temple – without a second thought and in front of the entirety of her guests, and currently on the other hand, Calavyr, who obviously had managed to garner such hate from her to be sent to Mars, had repeatedly verbally abused her far more than the priest ever did, and already seemed to be someone the Empress wanted to die, had gotten another chance at life after a slap on the wrist because of a fear of paperwork.

But of course, despite his qualms about the decisions being made here, he wasn’t in any position to make demands from the Roanian leader because he was simply a guest here and held no real rank in which to make this request. Plus, considering the response given to Calavyr’s demand, he wasn’t all that likely to have any progress with it than the Governor did. So without any further thoughts, he followed along with the guards without any resistance to the place where the duel was going to be.


The warming, morning sun shone radiantly overhead, casting upon Alakantar’s snow-white hair a light golden tinge, and a pleasant breeze, filled with the sweet smelling aroma of the gardens surrounding him, blew gently across his face, kicking up a few strands of hair as it passed over his head. It all would have been quite pleasant, a relaxing place where one could take in the beautiful landscape, had it been another time than this.

But now standing toward one side of an open yet grassy patch of ground, his suit jacket resting nicely upon a nearby bench, he could not help but be taken in by the beauty of all that surrounded him. He was almost tempted to close his eyes and relax for a moment or two, allowing nature to consume his thoughts. But his mind was flowing in another direction, finding it regrettable that blood would be shed in such a peaceful place and wondering if perhaps another suitable place could have been found.

Though, he understood that all of that was nothing more than a distraction and something else that would cause him to stray from this path he took. There was no backing out of this, no changing what could be done, just to follow through with what had been the plan and what needed to be done. The cold harshness of reality yanked his thoughts back to reality and pressed him to make the first moves into beginning the duel.

“I won’t need your sword. I already have one,” Alakantar politely answered the guard who brought swords for the pair. “But thank you.”

Then his obsidian-toned hand extended from his side, opening up into the sunlight above, and his mind refocused clearly upon the shape of his weapon, the weight, and the balanced feel of the blade within his hands. A shimmer of light and the rippling of the air surrounding his palms began only seconds later and then began to extend forth from his body with every passing moment.

“Hrm…” the mumble passed through his lips, as some slight frustration came to mind due to the difficulty of performing such a task, mostly brought about by the distance between Mars and Rudan.

A little more focused thought brought about the desired outcome though, and a longsword, mostly comprised of a consistent blackened color throughout its entirety – aside from a crimson gen at the pommel’s base and light patches of the same color fading in an out sporadically through the length of the weapon – materialized within his hands, which grasped it firmly and lowered the tip of it toward the ground. He now gazed across the opened area toward his opponent to await the first movement of this duel.

Dread Lady Nathicana 31-05-2009 00:36
"It's a challenge, yes, but that's why they don't let just anyone take the role. Which is complicated by the fact that ultimately I'm responsible to follow his orders in addition to performing my job, though it hasn't been a problem, yet."

"If you have some red wine, I'd be delighted" Trevor responded "Nothing for me, I'm still on duty." Nerrida added.

Trevor accepted the cards, "I'll get the manager of our Martian Depot to start the process then." He looked over the cards briefly before tucking them away in one of his pockets.

"Perhaps some water, then? Or juice?" Naiya asked Nerrida as she selected one of the better wines available, and poured a practiced glass for Trevor.

Mas and Pascalli faded into the background so to speak, present yet not intruding on the conversation, though they did go so far as to wordlessly offer Nerrida a seat, should she be interested.

"I know how that goes," Mas comments, giving Pascalli an amused look that is returned. "While I won't say working for the Dread Lady has been unpleasant, it has definitely had its moments."

"Angelus Massetti, are you insinuating my mother is ... difficult?" Naiya says in mock outrage. "Why, I ought to have you flogged. Or something. They do flog still in some places, don't they, Marcus?"

"Mi sorella, don't tell me the atmosphere here is rubbing off on you!" Marcus said, also jokingly. "Next you'll be yelling 'off with their heads' and thinking you can vaporize people on the spot for looking at you funny."

"Ah ..." Pascalli clears his throat uncomfortably, looking around at the room meaningfully. "Perhaps its best to leave some jests for home? Walls and ears and all that unpleasantness."

"Well she does have a temper," Massetti mutters, winking at Naiya.

Marcus just rolls his eyes and chuckles.

"Begging your pardon, Signore Desorté. It's been a bit tense tonight, and we're used to winding down after being paraded about all night - the lot of us. I'm sure if mother were here she'd be joining right in, and then apologizing as well for any discomfort she may have caused you. I hope we've not inadvertently offended - please, make yourselves at home."

Roania 31-05-2009 21:00
Calavyr said nothing to Alakantar as he waited for his sword to be brought forward. The weapon was a thing of beauty, shining in the light of the sun. It didn't matter what it looked like, though. The Drow had his answer soon enough as the Roanian lunged forward, bringing his blade in a clumsy attack almost certainly designed for lethality. "I'm going to kill you, drow." Calavyr whispered, laughing. "And my cousin won't do a damn thing to me, because I'm her heir."

Up above, Alessa was looking at anything but the duel, staring blankly into space. She tapped her small hand on the balcony, humming. "Isn't it over yet?"

"Your majesty, Calavyr once again disobeys your instructions." Nesar murmured in her ear, standing next to her, for all the world like a predatory bird. "He intends to kill the Drow, you see? He believes that you will preserve his life once more out of whatever sense of responsibility you might have." The Cheruvi smoothed back his hair and dropped his sunglasses over his eyes. "Do you have a light, Empress?" He asked as he picked up a cigarette and held it to his mouth. "Anyone? Lord Radmiel? Lady Daria?"

Daria sighed and held up her finger to the edge of the cigarette. Her nail burst into flame for a moment. "Your Majesty, the nelekr does not fall far from its root. The father was a traitor, and the son is one as well. To let him get away with a explicit murder, against your orders, will be a mistake."

Alessa said nothing, but tightened her pale fingers onto the railing of the balcony. Radmiel looked over. "Wow, that Drow can fight surprisingly well. He might actually win this battle." The Grand Vizier sipped from his flask of tea and shrugged. "Or not. If he wins, Calavyr lives. Of course, it seems that if he loses, he dies." The Empress looked away. "You know, it seems odd that you were willing to kill that idiot priest last night for insulting your guests, but..."

Alessa shuddered and brought her hand around hard in a circle, striking all three advisers on the face in the movement, then withdrew from the balcony, curling up on one of the chairs waiting there.

Dread Lady Nathicana 31-05-2009 23:11
Off in whatever corner they were allowed to observe from, the Dominion trio let their fingers dexterously speak for them, watching the goings on in silence.

He cheats.

Yes. Expected as much.

Granted. Assistance?

Negative. Look – situation well in hand.

Target is unskilled.

Or employing ruse.

These people are insane.

Agreed. Too much power, not enough sense.


A collective glance in the direction of the loud slaps.

Their money is good though.

The Garbage Men 31-05-2009 23:51
"No, that's fine. Thank you for the offer though." she stepped back and sat down on the seat indicated by her opposite numbers, this should be quick a small social exchange cementing a relationship and building trust for business operations.

"Oh, don't be ridiculous, I deal with all sorts of different cultures, it’s quite difficult to make me uncomfortable. One in particular where instead of praising someone, you insult them instead. The worse the insult the higher the praise."

He swirled the wine around and took in its aroma before took a sip. "A lovely wine, indeed. Who chose it?"

Trevor was right he didn't seem at all perturbed by anything that they had said and was far more interested in the wine than anything else.

Dread Lady Nathicana 01-06-2009 09:36
“I’ve no idea,” Naiya replied concerning the wine. “There were several varieties in the room, though I admit, my preferences tend to lay with our home labels, of which this is one. A rich Barolo- Sansovini vineyards, nicely aged.” She poured herself and her brother a light glass as well, then took a seat, as did Marcus, making themselves comfortable and hoping their guests would continue doing the same.

“So how about yourself, Signore Desorté. How has the evening found you?” Marcus asked, relaxing back in his chair, for a moment looking very much like his father to anyone who knew them both, though he held a glass of wine as opposed to Devon’s favored Scotch.

“Nerrida, have you worked for Desorté long?” Pascalli asked casually, popping open a bottled water and taking a slow swig.
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Postby Roania » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:22 pm

The C’tan 01-06-2009 19:07
The Elenaran of the C’tan had looked shocked and concerned in the ceremony.

He had been concerned, and for a far briefer time, shocked, when Alessa passed out, and his first action had been to examine – not quite ‘read’ or ‘probe,’ her mind and its current state, as well as her body¹ before determining that there was no real danger to her. Instead he had done nothing more than most of the others present. He had great regard for her, but he didn’t want to interfere with Sempero’s “rescue” – his intention for Alessa was not for her to regard him as a desirable mate – more than she already did, at any rate.

The night had passed eventfully for him.

After returning with his wife, and entourage, to Gilthoniel, and spending some time with her. He had then returned briefly to Duat, where his activities in the night had been interrupted by something immensely interminable.

A three hour meeting to talk about what had happened on Rudan, primarily his inactivity in what had been labeled, in the sealed archives of the C’tani people, The Matter of the Roanian Priest. Then there had been some brief missals to talk about military matters with those in, as he was, the business of predicting events.

He had briefly stopped for a soothing, relaxing – not that this would do any harm, of course – ‘bathe’ in the convection zone of Rudan Prime’s parent star, known as Rudan.

Then, finally, he had returned to Rudan Prime itself, once again assuming the body he had worn last night. Now his raiment had changed to a light green and teal robe, which still bore the feathered wing motif, here it was, in a turquoise pattern, part of the back of his outermost robe.

Not being up as early as some others, he came to find Alessa a little time after the duel between Alakantar and Calavyr had begun, though he had been watching it for some time on his way. Calavyr was, of course, cheating, and on the off chance that he won – Ranisath rated Calavyr’s skill at arms… significantly less than Alakantar’s, if the dossier held on the drow was to be believed. Supposedly he’d been trained by the Anti-Siri herself.

Ranisath smiled a little, barely sparing a glance for Alessa’s trio of slapped advisors, and walking over to her, “Good morning Alessa,” he said, “I believe it is a little late, but still, customary to give presents on birthdays…”

Northrop-Grumman 01-06-2009 20:02
This moment in time, these series of steps that I will begin to take, is when I finally discover the result of everything I’ve learned throughout all these years of training. Most of what I’ve done with swordplay has been merely practicing with my mother…and has only come close to actual fighting for my life just once. Punctuating the end of that thought came the sharp clang of the two swordsmen’s weapons meeting upon their initial strike as Alakantar sought to block himself from being impaled by this man. He wasn’t the least bit surprised at the statement made by the Governor either, as the attack against him already gave away what Calavyr’s desired ending was.

So that’s what he wants…I either leave here with my blade coated in his blood or I simply don’t leave at all…that’s great…I’m under the threat of death anyway if I dare kill him, but I run the risk of being killed myself if I’m not careful enough either way… His blade swung around for yet another block as his solemn expression only served to mask everything he was thinking. It looks like I have very few alternatives so I’m going to have to decide on something now…

For only a few moments, he stepped backward away from his opponent to give himself a chance to ponder at least one thought over. He’s clearly emotionally invested in all this…entirely too much, I’d think…there’s not the slightest bit of restraint so it might be possible…hrm…let’s see what happens… And from then onward, the drow chose to do nothing more than block every single strike thrown toward him without the slightest bit of exertion placed in them, not even daring to strike back toward Calavyr, just remaining as relaxed and calm as he was during the confrontation earlier in the palace.

“Why don't you fight back, darkness take you?” Calavyr slashed at Alakantar again, overextending, his own overconfidence drawing him out. “You think you're better than me, worm? After I'm done with you, I'm going to go back to mars and make your whore-wife scream my name before I kill her, too.”

Within himself, Alakantar could feel that anger churning around, wrestling with the calmness that he had so desperately tried to maintain all this while, sensing that the moment he lost his temper from Calavyr’s provocative words was the moment he would lose this battle. His thoughts, while maintaining his original game plan, now focused on trying to prevent himself from doing anything to stray from it. I need to calm…down…he’s just trying to goad me into doing something foolish which will only serve to get me killed. He knows just what gets to me, and he has no qualms about using it to his advantage…just stay focused…. He forced himself into taking a deep breath and readied himself for what was coming.


His crimson eyes then narrowed, eyeing his opponent as he caught the first glimpses of this strike coming straight for him; he brought his longsword around from his side, clashing against Calavyr’s weapon with a resounding crash as the full force of his arms exerted their strength. The drow shoved the other blade away with his own, and as soon as he had the opportunity to do so, slung the sharp tip of it backward and across the side of the Roanian’s face.

Roania 03-06-2009 17:41
"You... you..." Calavyr screamed furiously and raised his sword. Before he could try to attack Alakantar, the weapon went spinning from his hand, striking the opposite wall. "How dare you!" It was at the dark elf, it was at Radmiel, it was at the whole unfair universe.

"Her Majesty said, Patrician Seraph, that the duel was to be to the first blood." Radmiel replaced his wand, raised his ringed fingers to his thin lips, and yawned. "I believe that Aleanrahel has won. Daria, you're our go-to girl for judicial advice. Doesn't that mean that Alakantar is cleared of all charges against him?"

"I would assume so." For once, Daria had no problem with agreeing with Radmiel, the look on the hated Calavyr's face more than making up for it. "It's a shame that Patrician Seraph demanded a trial by combat, because for all we know, Alakantar would have been found guilty in a criminal trial. But, that was Patrician Seraph's choice. You might as well come up here, Alakantar, so Her Majesty can give you the gift she had in mind before she was so rudely interrupted."

Northrop-Grumman 03-06-2009 18:06
Exhaling heavily, the drow was quite relieved that the battle was finally over and that all the charges placed against him had been cleared entirely. But there was still that nagging part of him aware that this did not resolve the problem of Calavyr still being alive, still being around to do whatever he wished. There was nothing stopping him from starting this all over again and threatening his life and his fiancée’s once more, but the other problem was that he simply could do nothing to change that as anything he did would surely end his own life.

Alakantar sighed inwardly in exasperation toward this situation and lowered the tip of his tightly-clutched sword to the ground as there was no longer a real need to use it, no matter how much he wanted to. Then he bowed his head toward those assembled in the balcony before turning his back toward his opponent and setting off to the stairway.

Dread Lady Nathicana 03-06-2009 18:40
Granted, the outcome was unsurprising yet in some ways ... disappointing to the Dominion party, as at least two of them would prefer to see Calavyr bleeding out his last as opposed to standing there seething.

Still, by unspoken agreement, their attention divided at that point, with Nathicana remaining focused on Calavyr, Naiya on Alakantar, and Marcus eyeing Radmiel and Daria with the occasional glance at the Empress, just 'in case'.

Suggestions that someone intervene had been quite firmly put down in a flash of fingers. In spite of preferences, the reality was that taking action unprovoked - and even perhaps it were provoked - would have rather severe consequences, and make leaving all the more difficult.

As Alakantar turned his back, Nathicana's eyes narrowed - the only indication of emotion she allowed to show as she stood there, tensed and now subtly gripping the hilt of their gifted sword tightly.

Roania 03-06-2009 20:02
Calavyr growled under his breath. "I think not." There was a quiet thrum of an energy pulse powering. "You're not walking away, drow." The Roanian had pulled a gun from his boot and held it unsteadily. Before anyone could say anything, he fired, the gun going off twice in rapid succession.

One shot grazed Alakantar's shoulder just slightly, barely singing his shirt. The other went wild, just missing Nesar (who dove to the ground with surprising agility) and threatening to hit Alessa. The Empress looked up suddenly, and her eyes sparked with blue fire. The shot slowed to a halt, and then dissipated.

Calavyr swore and began to recharge his weapon, aiming it at Alakantar, steadying his hand. "I'm going to kill you, Drow." He hissed. "You hear me? I don't care what it takes." That was all he got to say before the gun melted away in his hand, dripping to the ground as a puddle of boiling steel. Alessa had come to the balcony and was looking down on the scene with interest.

The Garbage Men 03-06-2009 22:27
"Lovely" he commented about the wine to no one in particular as he took another yet larger sip.

"Business-wise, I'd have to say very successful, it was a great evening just topped off nicely with the Dance. Though there were some matters of concern however they are truly Roanian matters..." he let the conversation hang for a moment before continuing on. "How about you? What did you get up to, Marcus?"

"I'm not sure how it is for either of you but security is a life calling for me, I've been doing it a long time, though being security for Trevor only about a year hasn't been long at all, mainly been staying in the background keeping an eye or two out for trouble."

Oyada 04-06-2009 01:26
Was it even worth answering? Not really, Naragan decided. It wasn’t really in the Archivist’s purview, he suspected, to care too much about the personal opinions of potentates; opinions resisted stubbornly any attempt, no matter how ingenious or subtle, to simplify and categorise, and the only point at which the exercise appeared to be enjoying success was usually that at which it had plunged irretrievably into failure. He gave a thin-lipped smile to the sniggering, smirking Roanians as he passed, wondering how Keiri would categorise their opinions. Probably under L, he decided; L was a good letter. Lecherous, Lustful, Loathsome. Possibly with a link to Perplexing, he thought mischievously, the smile broadening a little as his eyes twinkled with amusement. Already, the noise of the party and its guests receding, he was beginning to brighten a little. The burden of appearance was lifting from his shoulders somewhat, for Kyrie was not, he decided, one who associated much in these circles, let alone in the circles of tabloid journalists, that other species which made its life around the petty, unimportant dross that flowed from all high office.

Just remember who you are, my boy, retorted his caution, regarding the sashaying form before him with a gimlet eye. And remember who they are, at that! But the voice was grumbling its message to a dispersing crowd that grew more distant with every minute; Naragan’s earlier shock at the appearance of that cunningly concealed, inscrutable metal object had made him realise just how unthreatening Kyrie was. With another royal, he might have been surprised and afraid; with anyone else, fearful but defiant. But when he had, in those seconds, put together the available information and concluded that Kyrie’s behaviour this night bad been a feint to lure him to destruction, his overriding response had been one of sheer, unbridled shock at the possibility that this nervous, innocent, mouse-like woman could turn out to be a sultry assassin. It had been akin to discovering that your new wife was, in fact, a shark in an extremely cunning disguise, and had been preparing to eat you during the entirety of your romance but been thwarted by the proximity of a mysteriously (and rather disturbingly) omnipresent Robert Shaw.

A Robert Shaw who smiled all the time.

And so, suitably reassured and, shortly, to be ably assisted by the small bottle of a nameless spirit he had discreetly swiped from the table just after Kyrie had first entered his world in uncharacteristically spectacular fashion, he followed her gaily click-clacking form through the winding corridors of Alessa’s palace, half-absorbing the information she cheerfully doled out to him about the palace’s age, its layout, who had built it, who ran it, how much various things had cost. The last item was a fairly pointless exercise for anyone but the most dedicated researcher; even the most cursory glance at the thickly-gilded walls, lined with the inevitable ranks of mirrors and artfully-executed portraits that seemed to follow you with their haughty gaze that rang with smugness, could tell the most casual of observers that the palace had cost quite a large sum of money. It could also tell our hypothetical observer pretty much everything he needed to know about Roanians. As one wit had put it, “no species in the galaxy has ever had such an insecure superiority complex.” Roanians had to prove to everyone, all of the time, just how much better than them they were. Naragan’s gaze wandered over the half-darkened panels, his mind perturbed by the troubling thoughts intruding on his detached study. It was all so familiar; that constant drive for superiority, the distrust of and distaste for anything foreign, the all-consuming imperative to better, to beat, to conquer. It was familiar because he, with each heavy-booted step that sends his array of weapons clattering softly against the woven belt, was its embodiment.


The balcony was spacious, though not ostentatiously so; even the Roanians, for all their vaunted ability, had not yet quite managed the achievement of ignoring physics. Or at least, not all of the time; doubtless the paranormal investigators of Oyada would give their eye teeth to have a good snoop around Alessa’s quarters, given what Keiri – the name was now sticking firmly in his mind – had told him in her inimitable cheerful chatter as they ascended the ranks of stairs to this high eyrie. Overhead, one of the planet’s twin moons hung motionless, watching them with a single white, lidless stare. Its smaller companion was still visible, but only as a black smudge, a great gaping hole disfiguring the distant, glittering iridescence of the galactic core. Naragan padded forward in his boots, rested his forearms on the lukewarm stone and stared into that far-off mass of white, glowing with inestimable energies that would easily swallow all of the teeming array of life it had created, strung out like pearls on the necklace arms of the Milky Way, without a single gasp. It was, to him, as alien as any of the weird and wonderful creatures that populated the galaxy, for Oyada, far beyond his sight, lay within the grasp of the distant Canis Major dwarf galaxy. Already the stars that sustained his empire, that caressed his homeworld’s lush forests, burned her arid deserts and set the snow capping her thrusting mountains sparkling, were dying, as its great celestial neighbour continued the slow, steady process of swallowing the tiny cluster of stars in its grasp. Oyada was in a better position than most of her immediate neighbours, shielded from the constant, gradual erosion by the core of the dwarf galaxy itself, and lying sufficiently far from the core – their core – to be free of the fatal walls of radiation that emanated from the slowly turning clusters of red giants at its centre.

Oyadans did not look into the skies at night and see the thin, straggling band of white which Earth’s residents had seen for millennia, let alone the broad and bright band that now seemed to fill Rudan’s clear air. Naragan, like every other Oyadan, saw instead the dull, deeply-glowing panorama of their dwarf galaxy’s core, a distorted ellipse, ringed with scarlet and thrust through with red and white, a blossoming cherry tree in an ocean of blood. In many thousands of millennia to come, while his long-dead body crumbled to dust and then to atoms, his descendants and his subjects’ descendants would watch, together, as the greedy arms of the Milky Way stripped their pitiful home of its stars, and began killing off the tiny sparks of life in its tortured, irradiated breast. Then it would be their turn to begin their own journey, and it would be a journey of truly staggering proportions, for the Milky Way was no more their home, and there was no reason to return to its embrace; in his heart Naragan knew that those far-off men would instead set their sights beyond the titanic, sweeping spiral of the Milky Way, and perhaps, he reflected with uncertain pride, become the first men ever to set foot in another galaxy…

Kyrie interrupted his reverie, handing him a glass of the clear spirit he had purloined and joining him, withdrawing the computer from his hiding place with a brisk flick of her slim wrist. She inhaled a little, turning towards him, and stopped. Naragan’s face bore a slight frown at the loss of his solitude, but that was nothing compared to the focus of his eyes as they fixed, searching, on the shimmering carpet of stars. She looked at him for a few seconds more, as if trying to break his concentration with a stare, and then quietly tapped on the computer’s screen with a perfectly manicured fingernail. Naragan recognised the gesture for what it was, and, to her surprise, was smiling almost serenely when she turned back to him. The glass was untouched, the clear liquid within shaking ever so slightly. Below them, the guests were beginning to part; staccato bursts of laughter echoed from the walls and around the garden the room overlooked, mingled with the constant babbling undercurrent of chatter. Kyrie peered downward for a moment, and then back to Naragan, her quizzical expression reminding him of a puzzled collie. “What is it?”

“Hm?” he replied, still concentrating on the view.

“What are you looking at?” Or for?

“Oh!” said Naragan, his concentration returning to the task at hand, somewhat abashed. “I do apologise. I was just looking at the core. It’s not something we see at home, you see. We’re constantly hidden from it by that of our own galaxy – well, our dwarf galaxy. Somewhere behind that light, as I imagine you’re aware, is home; I suppose, somewhere in my mind, I thought I might pick out the faint glow of my own home star, all the way through those millions of stars. It’s quite different, and really quite beautiful,” he sighed, the image of the cherry tree playing in his eyes. “But I must admit, the sight I see here is majestic beyond all description. Alien, yes, but majestic.” Abruptly he tore his gaze from the blanketing stars and turned to her, his bony hand closing gently around the glass. “So, Keiri – do you mind being called Keiri? – what is it you want to know?”

Northrop-Grumman 04-06-2009 20:40
When the first bullet nearly struck his shoulder, only managing to zing past it and ring sharply in his ears, Alakantar instinctively dropped onto one knee at the moment the second shot rang out. He cringed, shutting his eyelids tightly, in expectation that this bullet would surely be more accurate than the first, spelling his doom, but by the time the sound had ricocheted against the nearby palace and the rest of the gardens, along with not the slightest hint of pain, he knew that it had fortunately missed him again.

The drow’s eyes flew open upon hearing the immediate silence afterward along with Calavyr’s angered shouting, so he rose up onto both feet and turned toward his aggressor, his longsword consistently maintaining a readied position in his hands, expecting yet another shot to come tearing through the air toward him. But this threat, as quickly as it had come, became entirely meaningless when the Roanian’s gun melted away from his grasp, removing the remaining method by which the man could possibly harm anyone else around him.

His outward focus was entirely on his defenseless opponent but inwardly his thoughts were tumbling over one another. He had many opportunities so far to retract all these charges placed against me, to deal with this through civil resolutions, or even accept the final verdict of this duel peacefully and go his separate way. But all he seems to want to do is kill me, no matter what the cost to himself, no matter how he manages to do it. There’s no way to get around it anymore…one of us must die for all this to end… He tapped the tip of his sword onto the grass as he approached the Governor, still not saying a word and still not allowing his face to part from the man. …and it’s not going to be me…

Nothing betrayed Alakantar’s whiling thoughts until the obsidian-toned blade, in rapid succession, lifted from the ground and drew back beside his waist, and then much like a slingshot, every ounce of built up energy stored within his muscles was expelled through his arms, driving the weapon forward and plunging its sharpened tip into Calavyr’s chest.

“This is for all you’ve done to Arielle and I,” he muttered, his glowing eyes of scarlet burning in intense fury, not parting them from those of the Roanian, but then, his wrists spun around for a different grasp of the hilt and, using this body as leverage, jammed the entirety of the weapon upward. “And this is for all that you’ve done to everyone else.”

Dread Lady Nathicana 04-06-2009 23:42
Things happened rather quickly, and likely of the Dominion group, only Nathicana really got a good grasp of the entirety of it. Every fiber in her being wanted to vault the wall and make quick work of the bastard who’d tried to shoot her friend in the back. All three took cover, though Nathi didn’t take her eyes off Calavyr for a moment. Just as she started to gather herself to do the very thing she’d sworn not to, that being interfering, someone melted the gun.

Which of course, changed everything. She stood, as did the children, one coming in close to either side of her, watching the scene now slowly come to its conclusion. She made no effort to shield them from what must certainly come given the situation, nor did she utter a word or make a sign as she watched closely, making certain her hearing augmentations were tuned so as not to miss even the slightest exchange if she could help it.

Her blue eyes were bright with the intensity of the moment, and she gave a sharp nod of approval as Alakantar drove the sword home and took his well-deserved revenge.

He was a good man, of that she had no doubt. And he was no murderer, nor she suspected, took any real joy in doing what he had done. He acted of necessity, his hand forced, and in doing so, had lost some of the innocence he’d had before. For this, she felt sorry. Such things once lost were never regained, and he would likely never be the same again on account.

She hoped he lived up to expectations, and would rise above it, becoming stronger rather than have it eat at him. And she hoped that he and Arielle would finally be allowed to leave in peace, and that she would accept what he had been forced to do on her behalf. God willing, he would never have to face this sort of choice again – the path her own choices had taken her down had hardened her, and she preferred others not follow in her footsteps if it could be avoided, though she would likely not admit it. Which of course turned her thoughts to her own children and what difficulties they might face

“And that, my children, is how vendetta is satisfied,” she murmured to them, resisting the urge to put her arms around them and pull them close. It was not pleasant, it was not pretty, and it was a part of the lessons they needed to understand that she had admittedly hoped she would not have had to show them all the same. It was best they saw it for the ugly truth, however harsh. Undramatized, unsanitized, and in all its stark finality.

Marcus seemed quietly resigned, his brows furrowed in a deep frown. His idealistic spirit was dampened both by the seemingly unnecessary violence and the incredibly dishonorable conduct of the Roanian. While doubtless, as opposed to the priest from the night before, this man deserved to die, he was disappointed that some other end had not been arranged, somehow. It seemed like such a tremendous … waste.

Naiya on the other hand, looked smugly satisfied, gradually relaxing from her initial reaction when she had stifled a very unladylike curse when the first shot had rung out. Her pulse was still racing, and there seemed to be a pressure of sorts in her head that made her heartbeat echo loudly through it. While on some levels she was horrified at watching another life so swiftly and brutally extinguished, part of her was filled with exhilaration at the act. And she found the contrast somewhat frightening.

Quietly, Nathicana waited to hear what would happen next, remembering all too clearly that there had been reasons to prevent the death of one or both of the combatants.

“Stand by,” she nearly whispered to the men who were waiting for a possible extraction order. Only two kinds, after all. Best be prepared for the worst.

Roania 05-06-2009 00:57
No one said a word. It became so quiet that the slight breath of the Roanians became audible. Calavyr's eyes widened, and his hand reflexively reached up to grab at the sword in his chest, but he sagged and fell to the ground with a soft thump. His eyes glared at Alakantar, all his contempt in them in this last moment of life. "I... win... dark elf." And then his head rolled back, a strange grin on his face.

Nesar slowly took off his sunglasses and wiped them on his robe. For once, the Roanian had nothing to say. He himself seemed... amused? No, he was not callous enough for that. Perhaps he was pitying. But he said nothing to Alakantar, instead taking up quiet position against his pillar, eyes watching the Dominion party and Naiya in particular.

Daria's expression remained static. The woman didn't look away, but she did stagger slightly, falling against the balcony. One of the pillars of the empire had not just been cracked, it had exploded. She opened her mouth as if to speak, but instead chose to just look at her hands, shaking her head.

"Well, that was a rum business." Radmiel said, businesslike as always. "Guards, please seize Alakantar, disarm him, and bring him up here." The Grand Vizier looked at Nathicana, and one of his eyes flickered in what might have been a wink. "Don't worry, My Lady we don't intend to keep him. Or his weapon." The guards, who at the party had seemed almost avuncular, now seemed particularly serious. Stern-faced and without words, one of them held out his hand for the sword, keeping it back as Alakantar was escorted up the stairs.

"Daria, I believe this is your job." Radmiel said pleasantly. The young woman didn't look up, her equilibrium utterly shattered. "Tsk." The Grand Vizier sighed as Alakantar was brought before him. "Well, well, well. Alakantar of House Aleanrahel. You do seem to cause trouble. Do you know what you've done?" The Grand Vizier held up his hand. "Don't bother to say anything witty, please. It was a rhetorical question and I have no time for your answer. You have murdered three very important personages, all at once. You have assassinated the Governor of our territory on Mars." Radmiel counted off with his fingers in the Midlonian style. "You have assassinated the Prince of the Empire, the Heir to Our Beloved Empress. And you have assassinated the Patrician of Greater House Seraph."

"Whatever else Calavyr may have been, he was all of those things." Radmiel turned to look down at the balcony, and one of his hands reached up to touch Daria's shoulder. She shivered, but did not back away, seemingly in far too much shock. "And as my colleague here would no doubt tell you, if she wasn't getting over seeing a man die in front of her for the first time in her life, by rights we should have you executed."

"No." It was a quiet word, softly spoken, by a woman whose presence might almost have been forgotten. Alessa slowly crossed the floor of the balcony, the blue mist of her eyes masking any thoughts or emotions she might have. She quietly stepped in front of Alakantar, and reached up to touch his skin, her soft white hand a contrast to his coal-black skin. Her next words appeared inside his mind, and her lips did not move. "You have done what you thought was right, and you have done what I should have done many years ago. But you are hurt by it. And one day, you might have reason to believe that Calavyr did not lie in his dying words." The Empress remained still, even the rise and fall of her breasts having slowed almost to a standstill. "It is a terrible thing to kill a man, Alakantar. And the more you kill, the easier it is to just keep killing, and maybe someday you could even drown out the quiet voice in your head that tells you that murder is wrong." Alessa's lips perched in a dry smile, but she continued to speak directly into his head. "I cannot excuse you, nor would I if I could. And while I can take the pain away, I won't do that either. All I can do is give you what I wanted to give your lady."

Alessa quietly backed away and drew a piece of paper from some hidden compartment in her dress. She slowly handed it over to Radmiel, who unfolded it and glanced down the page. "In the Name of She Whose Radiance Illumines the Galaxy, By Sword, Light, Flame and Power, Alakantar of House Aleanrahel, and Arielle, of House Hakoen, are declared innocent of all charges laid against them. In fact as well as name, in name as well as in truth, in truth as well as in dream, Let the Will of the Imperial Diadem Be Done." Radmiel folded the paper back up and placed it in Alakantar's hands. "However, we can't just let you get off 'scot-free', as I believe the saying on your world goes." The guards quietly made a new appearance.

Behind the Dominion party, Nesar tensed, one of his hands slowly reaching towards his belt. Radmiel stood there for a few minutes, then looked around. Daria had drifted off into a world of plots and plans, Alessa had withdrawn from the tableau and was returning to her earlier seat, not wishing to look at them. Radmiel smiled slightly. "Lord Cheruv, do you have a suggestion for what we should do with this criminal?"

Nesar moved his hand from his belt as quickly as it had traveled there. "My father, alas, was unwell today, and could not be present to see this, but I believe he will have my full support when I declare in his name that Aleanrahel has earned a place in House Cheruv's halls." The Roanian sighed and rubbed his sandy hair back. "Alas, it would be best if Alakantar would never set foot within this empire again, and it would be best for Arielle if she were no longer of House Seraph. Banish the one and decree the other disinherited."

"Very well. Let it be done. Alakantar, you are to leave this system, and our empire, and never return for so long as you live. Subject to her Majesty's wishes, of course." Radmiel stroked his chin for a moment. "And with the power invested in me by Her Majesty, I declare Arielle of House Hakoen to be ruamylu, and disinherit her from membership in both House Hakoen and in House Seraph."

Nesar placed his sunglasses back on his head and smiled at Radmiel. "Well. I, acting as legal heir of House Cheruv, adopt Arielle as my scion, granting her the name of... let's say Aleanrahel. It has a nice ring to it. I claim all rights and responsibilities as her father."

"Granted!" Radmiel said, cheerfully.

"I also hereby emancipate her from parental control. You are all my witnesses." He drew his own piece of paper from one of the many pockets on his outfit and stamped it with his signet ring, then crossed the floor and passed it to Alakantar. His voice echoed across the Drow's ears. "Give my love to my 'daughter', will you?"

Daria jolted back to the here and now so quickly that she might as well have never left. "I believe we owe you a debt of gratitude, Alakantar." She murmured, a small smile crossing her lips. "You've saved a lot of people a lot of trouble. But I think it's best if you leave now. I'll have my guards escort you all to your ship. Try not to look too satisfied, please. For the look of things."

Nesar crossed the floor to reach Nathicana, Marcus and Naiya before the guards did. He smiled and bowed, in the Dominion style. "I'm afraid I have put you all through a great deal of trouble this past day, but it was all in the cause of... well, of my own amusement, and I also helped get a couple of you out of some trouble. I hope you enjoyed yourselves somewhat as well." His eyes twinkled with merriment.

"Now, I don't have long, but I can't stand not to say goodbye to you." The Cheruv turned to Marcus. "You're a bit shorter than I was led to believe, but you should grow into the blade. If not, well, my brother knows a good smith. Drop him a line, as they say. And you'll be happy to know that Lady Ophar's shift as a serving girl starts tomorrow, though the Empress... can be merciful at times." His current mood of conviviality faltered, as if he also had his own problems with that statement. "Either way, it'll be a lesson she never forgets."

"Imperatrice. You were particularly hard to sort out, as it's very hard to find people willing to discuss your private life." He shrugged his shoulders elegantly. "I do hope you're still collecting knives, and a kristin coronation, according to the archives, just doesn't seem right without an orb." Nesar bowed again, and turned to Naiya, his smile fading. "Most Enchanting One, I'm afraid that I don't quite know what to say. My research was impeccable, my agents certain, but the Empress acts as she does and I am not willing to speculate." The Roanian shrugged once more. "However, I believe the necklace might almost succeed at making you even more beautiful than you are now. The late Empress Alysanra always had good taste. Still, and all, you have my ring." Nesar's smile returned in full force. "Should you ever have need of me, well, simply find a way to let me know that I can have it back."

The Roanian rubbed his chin, watching the three of them. "I studied you all for so long I almost felt as if I know you all personally, and yet I only met you in actuality last night. My agents, all of whom have of course been withdrawn, did not do your bravery and heroism credit, Prince Marcus, your wisdom and beauty credit, Imperatrice Nathicana, or your intelligence and loveliness credit, Princess Naiya. I suppose you all saw through me as soon as you met me." Nesar tilted his head low. "I am honored to have met you, and hope that you don't leave us with too poor an impression of our empire, or, if you do, that you at least know that I did my best to make your stay here as smooth as possible." Nesar drew back a bit, placed his hand on his heart, and bowed at his waist.

Slowly, he rose, and his next words were addressed to Naiya, and thus brushed across her ears alone. "I apologize for my deception, most beautiful flower, but last night I still had an act to play." He paused, and then he had his smile on once more. "Have I earned that kiss?" He asked with a wink. Perhaps it was inappropriate, especially considering what had just happened, but he found it hard to mourn a man he hated, and he wouldn't be himself if he didn't try one last time.
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Postby Roania » Tue Jul 13, 2010 5:23 pm

Dread Lady Nathicana 05-06-2009 11:06
As the pieces all fell into place, Nathicana smiled, genuinely. She had of course been duly concerned at first, though the Roanians wisely did not take any sudden unexplained actions in taking Alakantar into custody. She’d been confident she could at least create enough of a problem that they would have time to get her own forces in, but was pleased none of that had to be attempted.

Slick. Very goddamned slick. And something to remember – they’re not as ridiculous as they seem on the surface. Bastards require some rather careful watching.

“Masterfully done,” she commented quietly to the group in general, gently applauding.

Which was of course, one of the higher compliments someone familiar with the intricacies of Dominion politics could offer.

Leaving wasn’t going to be a problem, and honestly was for the best all around, so the fact that they would be escorted out quickly did not particularly offend. Nathicana hoped Alakantar was doing alright, but it wasn’t the time yet for discussion. Especially as Nesar approached and offered his own explanations, of sorts.

Nathicana briefly entertained the notion of hiring him off. Naiya was likely to live for quite some time, and unless he had nefarious intent … possible … another long-lived advisor of his talent would be well worth having around. Something to ponder, that.

The party returned his bow with polite greetings of their own, though Marcus still looked bothered by the whole affair. Yes, it was pretty damned slick, and underhanded, and contrived, and dirty – even if it was effective. His father would most likely approve, and would have no problem explaining exactly why it was for the best this way, and why sometimes these things simply had to be done, and stop letting your emotions get in the way of doing what was right whether you liked it or not, and any number of other things. Of course he could see how perfectly it all came together, but once again he was disappointed in the duplicity of so many of those around him. His own rather sharp mind had already comprised several scenarios that could have ended without the required death … too late now, of course. It was frustrating, and again he vowed that when he was finally in a position to effect change, by damn he would, and he would show the rest of them that the same success could be achieved without all the dirty dealings. Somehow.

“Again, my thanks, Nesar. And please, if you could encourage the Empress towards measured mercy should it seem things are going otherwise, I would be …” he paused, as ‘indebted’ was not something he truly wanted to be to the wily Roanian. “I would very much appreciate it. For any offenses on my part at least. What she does concerning the offenses against her is none of my business.”

Nathicana smiled, perhaps somewhat slyly as Nesar addressed her. “Those prying too closely into my personal life have simply discovered there are better things to do with their time,” she said lightly. “You’ve had a hand in creating a decidedly interesting visit, Nesar. My thanks for your contributions both in the choices of gifts, and interference on our behalves. Should you ever find yourself in our general area of the multiverse, do drop in, yes?”

Naiya watched Nesar carefully as he greeted her family, then came to address her. She arched one delicate brow slightly at his once more subtle inferences and unexplained suggestions. He was indeed a right slick son of a … yes, slick. But not repulsive. Charming, yes … trustworthy? That remained to be seen given his rather brilliant illustration of his capabilities in subterfuge and political savvy. Useful though, it seemed. So long as it suited his purposes at least. And she still wasn’t sure of exactly what those purposes were.

She offered him a smile and a nod all the same. “Thank you, Nesar. I will certainly keep your offer in mind. One never knows when one might find oneself playing the part of damsel in distress, no? And if you could, give my regards to Lord Clodius, and the other guests? I had hoped to say our farewells in person, but circumstances being what they are, perhaps this is for the best.”

They all offered him return bows or nods appropriate to station, and murmured thanks at his ending compliments, then as a whole looked at him curiously as he had the audacity, or was that simply the balls, to flirt with Naiya one last time. At least insofar as an inexplicable look, wink, and smile, unaware of his request..

Marcus looked at the man slightly askance. After all, he must be … hell, he’d likely been in office longer than his mother had been alive, by several magnitudes, and had just adopted a woman as his daughter who had no doubt lived longer than their entire group, Alakantar aside, put together. Granted, that translated differently one supposed, given that long-lived races had different ideas as to what passed for proper age relations or not, but still. Perhaps he was reading more into it than need be, but he’d caught glimpses the night before, and didn’t entirely trust the man when all was said and done.

Nathicana simply watched passively, curious to see how Naiya would handle the situation.

Naiya … paused. A kiss, was it? A simple kiss, after all the subterfuge and teasing and maneuvering. She had every right to deny him of course. And she probably should do just that, she reasoned. She’d never been one for a lot of meaningless affection, though her reputation for creative flirtation with little to nothing backing it up was well known among the boys her age back home, much to their overall dismay.

She surprised herself as much as anyone else there as she sauntered forward, eyes locked on Nesar’s, meaningfully working her youthful body to exude as much subtly sensual charm as she was capable of. With a more-than-human grace, she closed the gap, looking up at him with a mysterious little smile, reaching up to cup the side of his face and gently guide him down to where she could face him fully with the barest tilt of her head.

“Perhaps,” she whispered quietly, “you can see your way clear to speak plainly someday about all your careful inferences and teasing hints. Until then …”

And with that, she placed a soft, gentle kiss on his lips, lingering yet chaste, drawing back from him in slow, measured steps, her arm stretching out as she moved backwards leaving her fingertips as the last thing to leave his face – just before she dropped her gaze and turned to walk the last few paces to her family. She again turned upon reaching them, facing the rest with a cool, confident smile on her face, clearly unconcerned with what any of them may or may not think. Even Marcus, who looked decidedly confused.

Nathicana cleared her throat quietly after a curious glance at her daughter, then carried on as if nothing had happened.

“Divine Empress, please accept my thanks for your hospitality, our congratulations on your birthday and ascension, and our apologies for having had to deal with so much unpleasantness during it all. We hope that your rule will be a peaceable and prosperous one. On a personal note, I hope that you can take at least some of the conversation we had to heart. Rule well and wisely, Alessa,” and here, she and both children, following her lead, offered Alessa the appropriate bows and curtseys, perhaps on Nathicana’s part with a bit more consideration than was technically due her station.

“All well, prepare for departure,” Marcus said quietly over Spook. It seemed their visit was, for all intents and purposes, over. The ride home however promised to be verrrrry interesting.

Northrop-Grumman 09-06-2009 20:51
Calavyr, the one who cruelly and endlessly tortured the daily lives of Alakantar, Arielle, and countless others, was finally dead by the drow’s hand; his body now laid upon the grassy open ground, broken by the still profusely bleeding wound in his chest, devoid of all life and spirit, and surrounded by none who would grieve for his loss. Perhaps a fitting ending for someone who caused so much pain in others lives.

Although, perhaps in contrast to what others might have thought, Alakantar did not share in this sentiment; he was neither particularly gleeful from having killed this man nor was he relieved that this was at last finished, but on the other hand, he had no regrets for what he had done. But he could not find himself able to think clearly, could not express anything other than the reversion back to the emotionless stare from before that was now focused downward on the lifeless form at his feet, and he could not move. His blade was still clenched tightly in hand and its tip dripped from the blood that coated it, but had not yet lowered from the final attack. Releasing this weapon or even stepping away from the damage that had been done was now beyond his present state of shock as he was unable or maybe more accurately, unwilling to part from this place by his own volition.

Only through the Grand Vizier’s commands for the guards to apprehend the drow did he finally move from beside the corpse, and even then, it would seem that he was functioning solely by automation than actual thought. He dropped the tainted swords into the guard’s hand and allowed himself to be escorted up to meet the Roanian leaders face to face without the slightest resistance. There, the actions that he had committed, the killing of three very important figures in this society, were brought forth and threats were made in regards to these “wrongs”, but Alakantar made no attempts at a response for some time. Even the approach of the Roanian Empress and her delicate touch upon his arm would not bring forth a single reaction from him, other than his eyes following the blue pools that were her own as she moved across the balcony.

But her voice, soft and seemingly quite comforting, even when not audibly being spoken, managed to rise up through the tangling morass of conflicting thoughts that comprised his focus, being forced into prominence by the will of this powerful woman, and lent a minor distraction from this state of being, at least temporarily. He sought to respond to her; though, he did not know whether or not she could read his thoughts, but ultimately it mattered little. His words were really only important to himself, and if she heard them then all the more better.

Do I believe that my course of action was right? he responded mentally. It was necessary to solve the problem; it was the only thing left that I could do that would end this once and for all. But while I don’t regret what I’ve done and would most certainly do it again if given the choice, I just wish there was a better course of action that I could’ve taken, something that would’ve prevented…death…of all things. I don’t want to have to kill, I don’t want this to become a growing trend for me, and I don’t want this to be the way I resolve all my problems. But that’s all in the future, where I hope that I have the strength and patience to learn from what I’ve done now and not fall into an endless cycle of death like so many others before me…

His thoughts once more consumed him, returning rather drearily to his previous mindset, as his face fell from the sight of Alessa moving away from him. He then merely listened to the pardon that he and Arielle had been given for all their crimes and received the paper stating such into his hands with a simple ‘thank you’. In another place, in another time and occasion, he would’ve been almost dancing, overjoyed at the grace that he’d been given, but here, after such bloodshed, it seemed to be out of place. He could not find it in him to do much more than that, and the disinheritance of Arielle from House Hakoen and acceptance into House Cheruv did little to change that either.

Though, when these pleasantries had reached their conclusion and when requested by Daria to leave the premises and subsequently the Empire for all eternity, Alakantar was more than ready to make his exit from this place, but paused in mid-step and peered back toward the Empress. He had almost forgotten to do something, the entire reason why he had come all these millions of miles.

Excuse me, Your Majesty?” the drow softly whispered as politely as he could, almost forcing himself to actually speak for once, despite his innermost wishes not to. “Despite all that’s gone on today, all the commotion related to myself and the former governor, I still would like to give you your birthday gift that I had brought along with me.”

He then dipped his fingers into his pants pocket, retrieving what appeared to be a pocket watch, carved in intricate scrollwork that patterned those same devices of Earth those centuries ago, and suspended upon a brass chain. A press of the button where the chain had met snapped the cover open revealing, not the hands of a clock face but what amounted to the single arrow of a compass, but without any such symbols of direction.

“I molded all the gear work inside and carved out the case for the mechanical bits, but additional help, involving imbuing it with magical properties was done by the Chief Advisor, since I don’t possess any such capabilities myself unfortunately…but I digress,” he began rather flatly and sounding more like an engineer than a salesman in his speaking. “Basically what this device is designed to do is to direct you to where you want to go. You might say that a compass can do just that, within a manner of speaking, but the magical parts of this allow it to compensate for doorways, walls, and other obstacles, and allow you to simply think where you want to go and it will direct you, within reason of course.”

He kindly offered the device to her, now that he’d finished with his explanation, and stepped back from her bowing his head as he was reading himself to depart from her presence. “It’s really just a token of my appreciation for you allowing all of us here this past day, and most importantly, in celebration of your birthday.” The drow sighed heavily and a tinge of sadness perked up within his voice. “I suppose I have helped to put a damper on all of it by dragging you out here. It wasn’t my intention to ruin your special day in anyway, and I certainly hope I haven’t, but if it’s the case, you have my apologies.”

He straightened his head slightly and peered over toward her. “Also, I know this is our first real time meeting, but I have to say that it’s been an honor to finally have this opportunity to speak with you, no matter what the situation was. I sincerely hope that we have this chance in the future, hopefully under better circumstances than this.”

Respectfully bowing his head once more to her, Alakantar turned away from the Roanian royal and departed from her presence, taking the staircase that led downward back into the gardens were his other fellow party members were still waiting for him and conversing with Nesar. He just about passed the man by until he offered a handshake and a somber thanks to the one who had aided him in all the events of today. Though there was nothing more to say, so he left it at that, until the occasion seemed right to talk about this more on end.

“I think it’s time for us to leave,” he stated bluntly, wearily and just plain tiredly to Nathicana as he headed toward the door and hopefully home.

Dread Lady Nathicana 10-06-2009 01:34
Marcus cleared his throat and loosened his cravat before shrugging slightly, and offering Trevor a rakish sort of grin. "Oh, a bit of this and that. Some pleasant, mostly nerve-wracking - you know how it can go." He took a slow drink, then offered his sister an apologetic look.

"Honestly though, I spent a good lot of the evening trying to avoid trouble, and missing out on more pleasant opportunities for conversation for the most part on account. Roanian women can be ... persistent."

"Right down evil, more like," Naiya mutters, not quite under her breath. "I'll be happy when we're safely home."


"Rather much the same," Pascalli replied, Mas nodding in agreement. "We've had the good fortune - or bad depending on how you look at it - at working our way up the ranks to be some of the few trusted with the Imperial family."

Massetti pipes up right after. "Though truth be known, it’s a damn fine job. And I admit, it’s been fun being around to watch the kids there grow up."

The Garbage Men 10-06-2009 05:25
"I'd reckon it has been rather interesting, especially with Calavyr hanging around... anyway. I better not delay you any further, it's been a great pleasure to have this opportunity to meet with you."

Trevor extended his hand to Marcus.

Nerrida had one final thing to say, "Well, I haven't had that opportunity though, you never know. Trevor's not far at all away from getting married, so you never know."

She stood up and smiled at her counterparts as Trevor was preparing to leave.

Dread Lady Nathicana 10-06-2009 11:29
The Dominioners all rose to their feet to extend their farewells, Marcus shaking Trevor's offered hand firmly.

"The pleasure has been ours," he replied. "I'll be certain to put those wheels in motion as soon as we depart tomorrow - you should expect a response within the next day or so, no doubt."

"I hope this will be the beginning of an excellent business relationship," Naiya added, also offering her hand. "And thank you, Signore, for the dance. It truly brightened my evening."

Mas and Pascalli, offered Nerrida a polite bow and offered hands as well. "Heads up then, my lady," Mas said with a grin. "Little ones are a helluva lot more work to keep track of than the adults."

"Best of luck," Pascalli said with a respectful nod. "Perhaps we'll run into one another again."

Dread Lady Nathicana 10-06-2009 11:32
Nathi nodded in response, looking at Alakantar with some measure of compassion. The poor man truly had been through the wringer on this one, and even if it were for the best in the end ... the price had obviously been high for him.

"You can get some rest on the Revenge, she said quietly as the group gathered together. "A hot shower, a good stiff drink, and a comfortable bed might not be amiss."

The Garbage Men 11-06-2009 22:51
"Of course, Thank you, I'll make sure the call will be expected." He released his firm but controlled grip on Marcus. Before taking Naiya's hand to shake. In contrast to the grasp with Marcus he held Naiya's hand gently, shaking it and adding a bow in at the same time. "Indeed, it was a time I truly enjoyed. Hopefully this will be the last time I see either of you. Good night."

"Perhaps, who knows. What's the saying? oh, yes. Only time will tell, farewell." Nerrida left first with Trevor following behind quickly, assuming nothing hindered them. They would soon be off leaving the unusual politics of Rudan behind.

Roania 14-06-2009 21:08
Keiri smiled at Naragan, her eyes twinkling in the moonlight. "You can call me whatever you want, Your Majesty. And..." she murmured, her voice soft, low, and almost sexy. "I was thinking..." And her hand gently rested on his arm. "That you, and me, could get to what I asked you about earlier..." Then the feeling of innuendo and sexiness passed as she held the computer up, and once more a childish curiosity at odds with her appearance filled her voice. "I want to know everything! I've never met an Oyadan, and getting an interview with their emperor would be fantastic! I want to know what it's like where you live, and what the animals are, and what your country does, and who you worship, and who you are, and about your family, and... and... and... everything!" Her enthusiasm had long outstripped her limited ability at this kind of thing, but the application of enough energy would probably more than make up for it.

Her slim body brushed against his accidentally as she leaned against the balcony, and she studied the sky above him, then turned to look at Naragan, her mind working overtime. "I'd be more than happy to tell you or show you anything you want in exchange, Your Majesty! And if I don't know it, I'm sure one of my masters would!"

Oyada 23-06-2009 03:50
Naragan grinned – Keiri’s enthusiasm was infectious, in an eclectic sort of way - , and set his glass down upon the stone, looking for the bottle absently. “Well, before we start, relax and pour yourself a drink. And see if you can’t set that thing to record, because you’ll probably fall asleep and writing all this stuff down would doubtless be a chore for anyone, even an archivist.” He passed her the small bottle and watched, still being careful to avoid holding his eye on her for too long, as Keiri poured herself, and then him, another measure of the spirit. Taking the proffered glass, he placed it upon the stone and motioned to the deep armchair opposite his own.

“Well, I suppose I might as well tell you then,” he said affably, glad to see her smile approval. “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin,” he continued, grinning a grin that broadened at her puzzlement.

“Is that an Oyadan custom,” she asked, all innocence. He chuckled slightly.

“Not quite. It just seemed appropriate. Anyway, let me tell you about my humble kingdom, shall I?”

He told her.

He told her of the departure, the long-lost moment, frozen forever in dimly-known myth, when Oyada's ancestors forever parted company from the world of their birth and set out on their great journey to the stars, to the unknown, in search of a new home. Behind them, the once-proud disc of Earth, deep blue mottled by swirling patterns of clouds and blocky, khaki tapestry of continents, faded slowly, receding into the infinite vastness until it was no more than a tiny, pale glowing speck to even the most potent of their telescopes, a miniscule mote hanging against the cluttered emptiness. And eventually, as they tore further and further into space, the Earth and the solar system had vanished altogether, to be forgotten, along with so much else, in the centuries that would follow the long, silent, straggling convoy's departure. For by the time the planet they would henceforth call home was close enough to be seen with the instruments (better instruments than their fathers had possessed, themselves thirty generations removed from the originals that the expedition had set out with), the fleet had dwindled to less than half of its original size. Many thousands had been lost, betrayed by imperfect technology that failed at critical moments or simply elected, with neither warning nor identifiable cause, to plunge a ship into certain doom at the drop of a hat. Many more had perished in the roaring infernos of stars approached too closely, in the terrible, tolling ring of the meteor strike, in the crushing impact to planets drawn incautiously toward, in the failure of navigation equipment that left ships, executing the few jumps their limited fuel would permit, stranded beyond any human aid, sailing the void forever, their crews sealed in perpetuity against the ravages of time and its inevitable companion, decay. Legend had it that the first flight out of the system had encountered a ghost ship drifting close by a barren world; her beacons still calling to anyone who could hear them, engines still keeping aeons-old machines supplied with power, to produce status reports that flashed to monitors and dials manned by a crew of skeletons, perfectly preserved in compartments long devoid of the slightest breath of air...

And after the landfall, there came the crash. As the survivors of the beleaguered colonists picked themselves up from the wreckage of the ships that had borne them there, built their fires and their crude shelters and learned the ancient and near-lost art of survival, the world around them must have seemed a paradise; as varied and teeming with life as Earth, covered with lush forest and jungle that held within it weird and wondrous wildness, at whose edges spread soft meadows and rolling hills that led to distant, purple mountains which rivaled, and in some cases surpassed, the mightiest Himalayan peaks. Tiny streams babbled down their rocky crevasses, flowing to the plain to become mighty rivers and empty into seas of unbelievable wealth in fish - and things that were neither fish nor mollusk, nor mammal, and would have given any of the zoologists of Earth a lifetime's work. As those first hardy souls picked they way to clearings, the small creatures of forest and field scattering before the strange newcomers, the gods seemed munificent indeed. But then came the first evenings while the glow of the warm star faded, followed by the deep, devilish darkness of the first nights, and men became the hunted rather than the hunter, and huddled fearfully around their fires and their huts (or, where they had survived, their prefabricated shelters), with whatever weaponry was to hand, poised to fend off the beasts that came for them by night - and then by day, as they learned that the alien arrivals were far from invulnerable. Their numbers depleting by the day under the onslaught from violated nature, the humans that had sought so boldly a new home teetered as that new home sought to purge them from its surface, like a dog scratching at its fleas. There, he explained, was the root of the Oyadan obsession with action, with the warrior and the hunter, with the need constantly to be vigilant and to act with ruthlessness, complete and compassionless, toward whatever lay against them. The bitter lesson of near-extinction had been burned into their collective consciousness by five centuries of urgency in fending off the attacks the planet threw at them, while they had struggled to recover the knowledge, the skills and the technology lost in the thundering impacts that had all but destroyed the colony ships - which had been designed to shield their cargo at all costs, no matter what the circumstances. That puny cargo had joined battle with the planet - and had won, just barely, scraping through by the skin of their teeth as they adjusted to their new home, and began taming it; with spear, with blade, with bow, and eventually, symbolically marking their return to strength, with the familiar crackle and tang of powder and shot, let fly at the enemies of the race.

So zealous, indeed, had they been, that they had nearly wrought their own extinction even as the planet was losing the battle it had begun to ensure it. Isolated and self-sufficient communities were reluctant in the extreme to simply be subsumed by another, and where resources were scarce - as they always were, despite the decidedly meager population in comparison with a later age - or one side desired something owned by the other, the inevitable conflicts broke out. In a terrible, accelerated repetition of the destruction their forefathers had both wrought and sought to escape, the new Oyadans had raged convulsively across their subdued planet, as if so accustomed to the constant threat of destruction that they were unable to live without it. A century of intermittent but exceedingly violent conflict, each fought with techniques and machines of ever-greater lethality, had come closer to ending the human habitation of Oyada than even Oyada itself could manage at their moment of greatest weakness; perhaps, he speculated thoughtfully, taking another measure of the clear spirit in his glass as Keiri's device recorded silently, the realisation had come to them just in time. Another half-century, especially after the development of their first fully effective atomic (and later nuclear) weapons, could have been the end of the Oyadan race.

Keiri stared, fascinated, as he knocked back slightly more than half of the glass, clearing his throat quietly as the spirit warmed it, descending to his stomach with the easy-going sedateness of lava. For the moment, the flow had stopped; Naragan turned briefly to look at the shimmering iridescence of the far-off core again. She took a small sip of her own drink, and considered for a moment, her expression contorted awkwardly by a frown.

“Were they really that terrible?” she asked, still frowning as he turned to look at her again, smiling benignly.

“Hm? Were what that terrible?” he replied, puzzled, but still not as earnestly so as she.

“These wars. I mean,” she said, fiddling slightly nervously with her hair as she carefully thought of how to phrase the question, for she was aware that she might be treading on dangerous ground. “If their weapons were so primitive, and the number of them was so small…” she trailed off, apparently unable to conclude her thoughts adequately, or at least unable to do so without risking causing offence, and considering that to proceed further might only compound any already committed error. Her heart sank as Naragan’s frown merely deepened; after a moment’s consideration, he responded, surprising her with the care in his words.

“Perhaps, by the standard of an age in which fleets can steam around their respective galaxies and put entire worlds to the sword – or to the flame, perhaps – in the space of an afternoon, they were not so terrible as they appeared to those who had to endure them. But you forget that the scale of the matter was essentially the same; the wars that disfigured Oyada were a microcosm of the wars that will, I have no doubt, disfigure this galaxy in my lifetime.” Keiri did not pick up on his use of the words this galaxy, and continued to listen. “So although in absolute terms the scale of destruction was less, it does well to remember that in relative terms, the scale was the same. Do you see?” He looked at Keiri for a second and saw that she did not, and sighed ever so slightly; for how was he to fulfill his self-imposed mandate of preserving her delightful ability not to understand the manifold evils and sorrows that accompanied life wherever it went?

“Let me give you an example. During the Second Great War, there was a battle, huge by the standards of the time, at a place called… what was it…” He paused, fumbling in his memory for the name. “Seyan Valley, that was it. Yes, the Seyan Valley. During the battle, around three hundred thousand troops from both sides were engaged – both sides, you remember, being Oyadans. The same race, the same people, the same families even, fighting one another, in this shallow, green, probably rather pretty little valley.” Keiri nodded. “The men who fought there – it was exclusively men, I should add – marched, sometimes, for weeks to get there. There’s an old song about it, actually, sung by both sides in the end.” For a moment he became a little distant, remembering his grandfather, whose own grandfather had seen the war first-hand, singing to him. He echoed the old man’s wavering voice to Keiri, softly, and sang:

“Father, how strong you were, marching o’er the plains,
Underneath the sun that burned the helmet on your head;
Marching through the field, in the snow and in the rain,
Laying down your head at night, to sleep among the dead.

Onward, ever onward, on the long march with death;
Through it all, father, you marched to strike for us!...

“It went on like that for another four stanzas; I can still remember them. A lot of people can, because the marches were bad; the vehicles couldn’t get too close to the front for fear of attack, or of giving away what their side was doing with its troops. When supplies and trucks fell behind because of bad weather or enemy attack, or couldn’t get through the terrain, the men had to march. They’d march for hundreds of miles, day after day, carrying their packs and their weapons, suffering with the heat, the flies, the mud, the cold, the wet, whatever the place they marched through could throw at them.” He took another sip of the spirit, becoming more animated as he warmed to his theme.

“And that was before the fighting even started seriously. There’d be attacks on columns moving up, where the enemy – who were other Oyadans, remember,” he added, shaking his head, “could mount them; but the serious fighting started once you reached the battle line. And the lines at the Seyan Valley became pretty clearly defined before the battle. It was spring, so the river that ran through the pass was swollen with snow-melt from the mountains. The attacking side didn’t want to attack across the river when it was swollen, and the defending side were, they knew, too weak to make a similar attack. So both sides just sat there, for two months, building up forces and shooting at each other.” Another gulp of the spirit slipped down his throat, and he stood, agitatedly, resting his palms on the balcony and looking out into the silent gardens as the night began to recede; dawn was coming.

"For two months, two groups of the same people from the same planet, who could trace their origins back to the same country on Earth, sat in the middle of a lot of mud and the ruins of what had been two small towns, and battered each other constantly with artillery, aircraft, and small infantry raids. And then, finally, the attackers attacked. They came at dawn, preceding the attack with a monumental artillery barrage. By most accounts, it lasted for around six hours – they started at midnight, and just kept shooting until the first wave’s guns and rocket launchers had run out of ammunition. By the time they’d finished, the ruins of the village on the defenders’ side were nothing but rubble and the ground looked like what I believe those from Earth call a moonscape. Just craters, and corpses, and burning tanks and shot-down aeroplanes, nothing more. Nothing even moved. Except the attacking side’s tanks; they moved. Thousands upon thousands of tanks; the survivors who’d been defending their positions, who came out after the bombardment had finished and saw them coming, described it as being like watching a tide of beetles coming towards them. The defenders made themselves ready; they opened fire on the tanks as they forded the river, which had now subsided sufficiently for them to get across. They returned the artillery fire with their own massed guns and rockets, and their own aircraft streaked out to attack the attackers and do battle with their aircraft.” Naragan glanced back at her, all friendliness gone from his expression, purged and replaced with cold, hard grimness. “This all happened,” he said, in a voice filled with hollow mirth, “in around the same time it takes to read a newspaper.” Then, after a pause, he remembered that newspapers were rarities these days. Oh well, a little late to remember that now. On with the story, man!

“Anyway, on came the attackers. Tanks, armoured vehicles carrying infantry” (Naragan was fairly sure Keiri would not be familiar with the acronyms “APC” or “IFV”), “anti-aircraft guns, missile launchers, the works. The infantry had to dismount under fire from machine-guns, tanks and artillery, so around a quarter of them were probably killed before they even had chance to see what they were supposedly going to attack. The infantry went forward to try to clear out the concealed anti-tank defences, missile launchers mainly, because the tanks were very vulnerable.” Keiri looked puzzled again, and he smiled wanly. “A tank looks formidable; it’s thickly-protected and well-armed, and moves fast, but it’s pretty much blind. Spotting a concealed missile launcher was a nightmare for tank crews.” He did not add that his grandfather could only tell him what his grandfather had told him, which was that he still had nightmares about the blind terror of trying to spot the hidden, broad, stumpy muzzle of a launcher and direct one’s own fire onto it, before it loosed its deadly payload and turned the tank from a secure, rattling, rumbling monster into an inferno of searing metal and seared flesh.

“They came on, and they were on the point of breaking through. The defenders were stretched to their limits. Above them, both sides were still beating hell out of each other in the air, but on the ground, the issue was being decided, slowly, in favour of the attackers. So the defenders realised that this was not at all good, and decided to send in a large part of their reserves – which were pretty large – to try to get around the back of the attacking force and cut it off, so they could destroy it and prevent it from being reinforced.” Keiri nodded comprehension again, and he continued: “The problem was, the attackers knew that their first wave was exhausted; if they tried to make them press the attack much more, they might simply collapse altogether, and all the gains they’d made would be lost. So they, too, attacked. Another wave, the same mixture of tanks and infantry carriers and so on, went charging across the river as fast as it could. Then they formed up and started advancing to relieve the first wave, and try to break through the defence for good.” He sighed, as the worst part came, remembering the films – in glorious Technicolor, and filmed by cameramen apparently devoid of a sense of self-preservation – that he had watched, dumb and awestruck, in his younger days. He drew on them now, recounting to her every aspect of the battle that he could recall.

“The two forces – totaling about twelve thousand tanks in all, plus other vehicles, and their infantry – met around two miles behind the line the first wave had established. Just imagine that, Keiri; twelve thousand tanks. Each with a three-man crew, or possibly four if the army in question felt no shortage of manpower or no need for automatic loaders. Twelve thousand tanks, each with a three-man crew. And then think about the infantry, sat inside their little thinly-protected boxes, waiting to be told to jump out and get shot, or just waiting for the thing they were in to explode without them even knowing why. At the very least, there were something like sixty thousand men fighting in those two forces alone, on a front three dozen miles long. It was like a scene from hell; it must have been. By the time they were done, eight hours later – yes, it took eight hours, because another wave and another went into action on both sides”, Naragan confirmed as Keiri’s eyebrows rose smartly, accentuating for a moment her almost golden eyes. “By the time they were done, the defenders had won, just; and what did they have to show for it? Forty-one thousand dead men. Forty-one thousand corpses, sitting in their demolished positions or roasted alive in tanks, or lying moaning in the dirt and waiting to die, alongside the seventy-eight thousand dead the attackers had lost. And what for? For nothing!” Keiri’s eyebrows rose again, her breathing quickening, as she saw anger in him for the first time. “Nothing! Just some barren, wrecked ground that hadn’t been worth much to start with. Just a giant open charnel house, littered with the dead and the dying and the smoking wrecks of tanks and planes and everything else that had been anywhere near the wretched place.”

Naragan sought to take another measure from the small bottle, only to discover that it was quite empty. “Oh. That’s a shame,” he mumbled equably, losing both his passion and his train of thought. “I rather liked that.” Before he could resume, Keiri rose and padded across the room on the thick carpet, leaving him to look bemused for a moment as she knelt and rummaged around in one of the richly-carved cupboards that occupied one wall. After a moment’s searching, she rose to her feet again and gravely brought him a bottle of the same clear spirit, handing it to him warily. Naragan grinned, surprising both of them, at her timidity; like a child that has just been growled at by a normally friendly dog intent on protecting its meal, uncertainty radiated from her in a wave.

“Relax. I’m not going to bite, y’know.” A crack of a wry smile provoked, to his pleasure, a slightly more nervous grin from Keiri. “It’s just something I’ve often thought of. Wars, and what they produce.” He turned again to the window, resting his folded arms on the polished stone balustrade. “That war produced nothing, except the death of nearly one hundred million Oyadans who’d been so busy getting worked up about being themselves that they forget that they were all Oyadans, all of the same stock; one might say all of the same family. Their ancestors endured the Great Journey to find a new home, where they could be at peace, and safe from the world of Earth. They came unbelievably close to annihilating themselves before they realised how utterly futile it all was, and the sadness, and the waste of it. The waste of good men and lives in some inane internecine battle.” He poured himself and Keiri yet another measure of the clear spirit, and continued his tale.

“By the end of that war, the first atomic weapons were in use. Both sides had access to them, so both sides used them. They were small, by later standards; these days, you can have a multi-megaton explosion out of a naval gun, I believe. But they were enough to wreck a good few cities and kill millions of people, either in the explosions or in the aftermath, before both sides finally agreed to stop. It was out of that that the decision in favour of a world government came about, and tradition, really, did the rest; Oyadans had always had an Emperor, so much so that the fleet commander during the Journey was referred to as ‘Commander of the Fleet and Emperor of the New Oyadan Peoples’; it must have seemed natural, I suppose, after some reading of the historical texts. So,” he beamed, by now feeling the effects of the alcohol, “there’s at least one thing came out of it, I suppose. One good thing, I should say.” Naragan sat back down in the voluminous, voluptuously-padded chair, leaning his head against its soft back, and closed his eyes with a deep, satisfied breath.

Having waited a few moments, Keiri decided it was worth, cautiously, pressing him a little. “So, er… what happened after that? Because my history says that the last intra-planetary wars on Oyada occurred one hundred and forty-one years before your birth, but there was another conflict which concluded only thirty-nine years before that date and, well, I thought it was important enough to tell me about.”

Naragan did not respond, and momentarily Kyrie froze with fright at the thought of having to go outside and tell the two marines, who had discreetly followed them up the stairs, that their Emperor was dead. “Oh… Emperor, are you all right?” Still no response.

She stood, quivering slightly, and approached him cautiously. She could see his chest rise and fall steadily, so he was still breathing; but her knowledge of anatomy was not so comprehensive as her knowledge of statistics (including the fact that, on Rudan Prime, there were at last count ninety-six thousand, one hundred and two persons trained to one level or another in anatomy), and she quickly began entertaining the thought that something was seriously wrong with him. Creeping to his left side, she bent her head closer to his and leaned in close to his ear.

Kyrie took a deep breath and said, loudly and clearly, “Emperor!”

“What!?” Naragan shouted in return. “I heard you! I was just thinking, that’s all!”

“Oh! I, er… I, well… I’m so sorry, please don’t be angry!” Kyrie shrank from his bark as though she had been slapped, a gasp of fright and hasty supplication accompanying her sudden, shrinking stumble backward across the room that nearly set her colliding with the small table judiciously placed between the two chairs, at a distance calculated to be out of reach of anyone whose arms were not more than six feet long. Managing to avoid that, she instead crashed back into her chair, the nervousness still set in her every movement and expression. He waited, trying to judge what to do or say as Keiri appeared to try to force herself back into the seat, and finally resolved simply to let her calm down for a moment. Carefully avoiding looking at her yet again – for as she curled herself up on the chair, tucking her legs beneath her and still looking at him timorously, he could not for a moment deny that she was both attractive and vulnerable, the two triggering instincts that led him to one conclusion, and it was a conclusion that would generate an awful lot of problems. Not to mention betray his own vow and the duty he was performing, however badly or oddly, this night.

“I wasn’t angry with you, Keiri,” he said carefully, keeping his voice low and trying to infuse it with more good humour than he felt as he glanced to her. “I just didn’t expect it, that’s all. Surprise does that to people.” Giving her a half-hearted smile, he nodded to her. “Just look at you now; point proven, no?” The archivist bobbed her head, but said nothing, and Naragan’s heart sank like a stone. How in hell can anyone be so nervous, so skittish – so innocent?

“You just surprised me, that’s all. Honestly, it’s fine. I’m… I’m sorry,” he added, after a brief thought as to whether this was a good idea, “if I shouted. But as I say, you gave me quite a startling there. It’s all right, really. Shall we go on, or have I bored you to death?” he asked, in an attempt to breathe life back into Keiri’s voice.

“N-no, let’s go on,” she replied, her tone high and quavering. And, in a steadier voice: “I’m sorry for startling you. I just thought something was wrong. I didn’t think you were just… thinking.”

“It does happen, occasionally,” he said smoothly, and grinned again. This time, to his relief, she returned the gesture. “So, the Belt Wars. Well, the same act, but with new characters. You know the basics, I take it?”

Keiri nodded, and tapped at the computer for a moment. “Yes, I think so. Is this right?” She proffered the device, and he strode carefully over and took it, reading the block of text thoroughly.

“Yes, that’s pretty much correct. I suppose the wealth of literature on the subject helps,” he mused, feeling Broken on the Rock against his chest. “It was much the same, really, but on a grander scale. Interplanetary combat among the stars, whole planets and indeed a whole system as the stakes. The same, but bigger and bloodier, though probably no more or less terrible than the strife that preceded them for those caught up in it.”

And so he continued, telling her of the desperate, see-sawing battles that raged through their galaxy, the dire need to rid it of the invaders who sought its wealth at any price, and who were bent on sweeping aside the fledgling Empire, no matter what the cost to its inhabitants. Of the brutality that was total war’s inevitable bedfellow, the terrible nuclear firestorms that had swept worlds clean of humanity and left little more than flash-burned, charred deserts, glowing faintly in parts with residual radiation; of the horror of the plague planets, to which it was forbidden, more than half a century later, to travel, on pain of exile or death, such was the potency of the pathogens that had torn over their surfaces, wiping out humanity wherever it lay, whatever its ways. He spoke of the final, decisive action at the Diamond Rock, the battle that broke forever the invader’s power to conquer and destroy and permitted the long, hard-fought struggle to reclaim the worlds lost, where there were any worlds worth reclaiming; of the final stalemate, made more bitter still by the struggle that had been endured before it, and of the peace treaty that had finally brought to a definite end a war that could otherwise have gone on right up until the present day. To his surprise, Keiri seemed to grasp thoroughly just what effect it had had on the already self-reliant, paranoid, defensive Oyadan psyche; he would have been quite satisfied had he known that she felt she suddenly understood quite why Oyadans were so harsh; why their entire mindset seemed to revolve around conflict, superiority, the constant and overriding drive to safeguard against attack. The attitude they held was simply the inevitable, almost tragic culmination of a millennium of fighting, first against a planet that seemed consciously to wish to exterminate them, then against one another, before finally realising the critical importance of avoiding doing their hostile world’s work for them. After all that, any race would be cautious; but their first encounter with an outside race, the meeting that would determine their attitude to all others for ages to come, had resulted in their near-destruction once more.

Yet there was a paradoxical quality about Naragan that was difficult to reconcile with the qualities of his countrymen. His was not the way of the sword, the way that dedicated itself to safety by preparation; he did not, as almost every Oyadan seemed, subscribe to Vegetius’ famous maxim, “let him who desires peace prepare for war”. It would, perhaps, be foolish to assume that Oyadans liked fighting; she could not be sure, but she found it difficult to believe that any people could actually desire the suffering he had described at such length to her. But it seemed to be ingrained into their minds, too deeply to be expunged, that the best, indeed the only, way to ensure one’s safety was to ward off the outside at sword-point, to trust no-one, to treat everyone as the enemy until they provided final and incontrovertible proof that they were not; and yet Naragan seemed, rather than taking pride in his people’s martial achievements, their skill in fighting to save themselves from destruction, to be more enamoured of construction. Naïve though she was, Kyrie saw clearly the joy and pride in his face as he described to her the sprawling chaos of Oyadato, crisscrossed by road and rail, divided by waterways spanned by graceful bridges over which people tramped and trundled without a second’s thought to the skill and dedication that let them move so freely between the buildings great and small, the tall towers and stark chimneys and low, huddling houses that dwelt in their shadows; of the colonies they had founded, that gradually beat back the inhospitable natures of the worlds they conquered – where they could conquer them – and brought to them peace, and tameness, and prosperity for those who went to seek a new life upon them, at some length. It took time, and the process was not always orderly or beautiful, but it was something that gave him joy, plain and simple.

And after a while, she realised that his drive to build, to forge a new and peaceful existence for his people, was not confined to his own sphere. After three hours – more, in fact, she realised as she glanced at her computer’s clock – it had finally dawned on her that Emperor Shokiwe Naragan was possibly the first Emperor in Oyadan history who was willing, cautiously and carefully, to open his long-closed kingdom to the foreigners his people so hated. Hated was the only right word, for they both loathed the foreigners and feared them. They loathed their arrogance, their smugness, their avarice, their innate desire to dominate everything for their own ends; but they feared, just as much, that they could not match the challenge, and were doomed to be consumed by those outsiders. To die, in fact, as a civilisation and, in the long run, as a race. That was the essence of Oyadans’ paranoia; it was not the assumption that they were the most important people in the galaxy, but the possibility that, if someone thought they were, they would be unable to prove that they had strength and skill enough to be unimportant.

Oyadans, she decided as the two of them sat in silence, absorbed in their respective thoughts, were strange. And, in their way, very sad; they could not repair the damage caused by past which gave them much of which they might be proud, and that damage was corrosive. For in the end, a people dominated by the desire for absolute safety could only reach one logical conclusion: that absolute safety required absolute control, of everything. Roanians, she knew, had once tried such an approach; the result was still lamented, even centuries later, for it had failed. That was woeful enough, but the worst of it was that, in failing, it had brought about the loss of much of their great Empire. The bitterest pill of all had been forced down their throats: to be at the mercy of the outsiders once again, and with nothing to show for it but loss. As she closed the computer down, Kyrie decided that she hoped the man sitting opposite her would prevent his own people from following the same sad path to ruin. Characteristically, it did not occur to her that, even if he would, there was no guarantee that he could.
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Postby Roania » Thu Jul 15, 2010 6:05 pm

"So, um... Emperor Naragan!" The awkwardness of this silence got to the cheerful young woman after a minute or so, and she smiled widely. "If you're going to open Oyada up to foreign travel, could I go visit? I want t o see all these places! They sound very interesting! And maybe you could show me around if you're not too busy!"
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Postby Oyada » Wed Aug 18, 2010 4:40 pm

Naragan did not respond, at first, as yet wreathed in dreams unborn, barely conceived. It took some time for Keiri’s idea to percolate through the mist still swirling around his mind; when it did, he could hardly help but inwardly start, though his countenance remained contemplative, turned towards the far-off kaleidoscope of colour in the heavens.

“Visit?” The word seemed almost ludicrous. Oyada was not renowned for its love of outsiders; many of his subjects, still reeling under the impact of war and burdened by aeons-old hatred of the foreign power that had subjugated their ancestors, observed them yet through bifocals of fear and suspicion that refused to lift. The very forbidding nature of their world, in its turn, made it an unlikely destination for anyone looking for a holiday. Naragan wanted to change that, for some reason; he did not quite understand why, yet, but he knew it was there. Perhaps it was a realisation that they could not go on alone; they were one small speck in a vast and nearly boundless universe, and the giants they so feared would always be able to overpower them in the end, no matter how much they prepared, or how hard they fought. But there was, too, something else at work; unlike most of his people, Naragan had seen, had met, had begun to know those much-feared outsiders, that nebulous, ill-defined and ever-present threat that hung in a blooming, sullen cloud over their lives, and discovered, as men had done through the ages, that all too many of them were little different from he and his.

“Visit,” he repeated, slowly, still not able to drag his sight from the coruscating skies. “I suppose you could, but I’m not sure why you would. It’s probably not your sort of place, and my people are… cautious with those they don’t know. Very cautious,” he added, doubtfully. “And besides, it might not be your sort of place.” He looked at her at last, worrying. What in all the heavens made her want to do something that silly?

“I could arrange certain things, of course, but you need to be absolutely sure you want to come to my country before you do it.” Not even she, surely, could mistake the anxiety in his voice now. “I don’t want to disappoint you, and I don’t want you to come away with a bad impression of them, but they’re different from you, very different, and our world is not like this one. It’s more chaotic, it’s loud and bustling and dirty and sometimes seedy. It’s also a place of honour and dignity, and order, too,” he added hastily, not wishing quite to malign his own land quite so enthusiastically in his concern for her safety – for preserving that unique naïveté.

“It’s up to you. I could probably make it work, but you must be sure.” He stared straight into her eyes, hard. “Very sure.”
Last edited by Oyada on Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Freedom's price is liberty. The individual and his liberty are secondary to our objectives; how are we to protect our lives, our culture, our people, if they all act independently? If each man pursues his own petty aims, we are no more than tiny grains of iron in a random heap. Only by submitting to the need of the whole can any man guarantee his freedom. Only when we allow ourselves to be shaped do we become one, perfect blade. - General Jizagu Ornua, The cost of freedom for Oyada, 1956.

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Postby Roania » Sun Aug 22, 2010 2:13 pm

Kyrie beamed, the subtext behind his remarks going completely over her brown haired head. "Of course! I like visiting new places, and I'm sure you could help me learn all the interesting things there are to learn about it, and then I'd come back here and write it all up and I'd send you a copy! Then I'd be famous and I could finally become a doctor at the Archives! And then I could show you around the Radiant Empire because I know all about it!"
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Founded: May 13, 2008
Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Fri Sep 03, 2010 4:52 pm

The young potentate rubbed the bridge of his nose again, eyes scrunching into a weary squint. Taking a deep breath, he returned his vision to Keiri’s smiling, oblivious personage and shook his head slightly, wonder a dismay blending in roughly equal proportions.

“All right… if you’re sure.” And she is, the insane girl. “I can arrange for some kind of visit, without a doubt. Fact-finding mission or somesuch, it’ll all sound good… I’m not sure how we could arrange it, exactly, but I’ll have a word. Wouldn’t your employers miss you,” he asked carefully, suddenly seeing a get-out clause.

Keiri was not going to like his country, Naragan realised with sudden, appalling clarity. In the grand scheme of thing, that didn’t matter much; but it seemed such a pity to see an immaculate flower destroyed by the hard frost.
Freedom's price is liberty. The individual and his liberty are secondary to our objectives; how are we to protect our lives, our culture, our people, if they all act independently? If each man pursues his own petty aims, we are no more than tiny grains of iron in a random heap. Only by submitting to the need of the whole can any man guarantee his freedom. Only when we allow ourselves to be shaped do we become one, perfect blade. - General Jizagu Ornua, The cost of freedom for Oyada, 1956.

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Founded: Antiquity
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby Roania » Sun Sep 05, 2010 11:30 pm

Keiri rubbed her delicate earlobes thoughtfully, looking up into the air and letting the chill night wind blow across her earrings and lift up the edges of her dress. The chill didn't seem to bother her, any more than the flash of some of her cleavage when she leaned forward to fix the trim (prompted solely by the irksome feeling of it tracing against her knee) did. "I don't think so!" After a moment of silence, her voice was loud. "It's my job to explore new nations and discover new cultures! Not to mention that this would be a great opportunity for the archives to collect new data! They'd probably give me a promotion and a large budget for research when I tell them about it! They'll be very proud of me, I'm sure!"

Keiri stood up and curtsied to the Emperor, sinking low to the ground and leaning her head forward slightly. "Thank you, Emperor Naragan! Is there anything I can do to repay you for this great opportunity?"
Ten Thousand Years to the Lord and Lady of Ten Thousand Years!

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Posts: 219
Founded: May 13, 2008
Father Knows Best State

Postby Oyada » Wed Feb 02, 2011 5:16 pm

The Emperor assumed an expression of resigned bafflement and smiled, quizzically, as the light began to increase. "I don't think so, really. It's been... a pleasure, I think, to meet you, Keiri. Kyrie." He closed his eyes for a moment. "Ma'am. And I hope we shall see each other soon, preferably under happy circumstances."

With a sudden flash of unexpected romanticism, he took her small hand and bowed, gently pressing his lips to her skin. "This is how we say goodbye, sometimes, in Oyada." As the shadows shortened slowly upon the balcony's walls, he trod his path back to the docking bays, his overwhelming intent being to leave that extraordinary woman quite, quite alone.
Freedom's price is liberty. The individual and his liberty are secondary to our objectives; how are we to protect our lives, our culture, our people, if they all act independently? If each man pursues his own petty aims, we are no more than tiny grains of iron in a random heap. Only by submitting to the need of the whole can any man guarantee his freedom. Only when we allow ourselves to be shaped do we become one, perfect blade. - General Jizagu Ornua, The cost of freedom for Oyada, 1956.



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