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PostPosted: Sun Jan 09, 2022 4:15 pm
"It's extreme, but I'm glad to have someone who will look out for us. We always need people to look out for us, there's plenty of powerful old nations in Greater Dienstad that would rather see us gone than worry about us. I don't think the old foes care much now but there's one thing for certain, we're too minor of a player to be bothered with but at the same time, that's also the reason why I suspect it'd be easy for someone to steamroll us if they really wanted. The marriage between my mother and father has kept Mokastana on our side, Holy Marsh's long old ties to the islands help, and Lamoni's humanitarianism...But governments come and go."

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2022 10:27 am
by Astares Amauricanum
"We understand perfectly what you mean Marcella." replies Adrean with a sigh. "It was the same for us a few hundred years ago, we were seen as nothing but a petty, disposable nation that could be trampled with by the French, Britons and Spanish. But unlike for you today, we had no ecterior help, so it was up to us to completely take care of our problems, which we did, and that gave us some recognition, which we nurtured and watched grow over time. And look at where we are now. This is why we feel the need to participate in the protection of you nation, because we have been there once too." says the Keisaer with a half-smile.

"On to a happier topic." continues Anna as she changes the subject of the conversation. "Do you have any funny stories that happened to you when you were working as a police officer during your service Marcella?" asks the Keisaerina with a happy tone.

PostPosted: Sat Jan 15, 2022 12:20 pm
"Fun stories huh?" Marcella thought, as her eyes rolled up into that thinking look people get. "Well I remember with a senior officer doing a community outreach at a village school. Very small village school too, only a handful of students. Anyway, one of the students had to bring along her baby sister, I mean literal baby too, maybe a year or a little less. Still I thought it was cute and offered to hold it while the student had to excuse herself a moment. Anyway, of all the things you might expect a baby to do when you hold it, spit up, urinate, defecate, any of that happen? Surprisingly no, rather the baby decided it was feeding time and well decided I was the one who'd feed it and well she decided to bite down. Mind you I was in uniform and everything...."

"My my sis. Natural mother it seems like." Gisella teased

PostPosted: Sat Jan 22, 2022 9:02 am
by Astares Amauricanum
When Marcella gets to the part where the baby bit her, every Astarian, both male and female, winces visibly.
"Ouch, that must have hurt." says Pavel after a few seconds. "Still, that's an interesting story Marcella." adds the male Morozov with a smile.

"Indeed." continues Adrean. "On our side, we have a fun one too. Back when we were all kids, between six and eight years old, what would be our actual Squadron, all of us here, was divided in two rival groups, for the boys that is." says the Keisaer as he looks to his male friends all around him.
"There was the group led by Pavel on one side." As he says this, half of the men lift their hands, and the AHSCAian women might see they belong to the Reaper and Stalker Squads of the Squadron. "And on the other side, the group led by Yuri." This time, Yuri, followed by his squadmates and the ones of Slasher Squad led by Thomas, raise their hands.

"For no reason whatsoever, these two groups were always bickering and sometimes even fighting, which was a bit annoying for me because both groups were friends to me, as I did not take any side. Unfortunately, one day, I had enough, and when Yuri and Pavel were once again ready to fight, I got in but got punched by accident." says the Keisaer with a small chuckle.

"The scene was quite funny." adds Anna "Adrean on his ass with a bloody nose, his five bodyguards not knowing if they should take out their handguns and shoot the threat or just lecture Pavel and Yuri, and the latters who were as pale as ghosts, for the big mistake they did, which was to punch the Imperial heir."

"Yeah, because as noble heirs ouselves, this was bound to put in trouble not only ourselves as kids, but our families as well." explains Yuri." Do not worry, I'm not talking about executions or a harsh sentence, but a sensation of uneasiness for our parents for quite some time."

"Iin the end though, I got back up, and told them to stop fighting because I did not want my friends to fight, and that we should try to work together instead of fighting constantly. They accepted the deal begrundgingly, but it worked in the end." finishes Adrean. "And now that I look at it, I'm glad I did. I don't imagine having to handle you guys as nobles if you would still be fighting as before." he adds with a small laugh, causing his friends to laugh too.

"Yeah, it would be quite messy." agrees Pavel. "But hey, not everything we do as kids follows us in th adult age."

PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2022 2:05 pm
"Hehe it did hurt a little but not that bad." Marcella chuckled, well this seemed to be a trading of stories which they told their own and Marcella replied "If anything what happened in your story sounds more painful. But you're right about that, we do grow from time we're children to adults."

PostPosted: Thu Jan 27, 2022 2:47 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
"Indeed, and if we can, we must try to keep a part of our inner children alive when we're adults." replies Adrean.

"So, Miss Kotobuki, how are you enjoying the trip so far?" asks Anna as she turns to the young journalist. "I know that you role in the visit is not exactly the most vocal one, but that does not mean your opinion is not important. So, what are your impressions so far?" asks the Keisaerina with a warm smile.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2022 6:39 pm
"Oh don't worry about me!" Asuka smiled "I'm the reporter I'm here to observe and document the trip first and foremost! But I've been having a lovely time here so far. It's been delightful seeing how everyone has been getting along and talking to each other, plus the training exercise was hardly what I was anticipating. It's going to make a fine article for the Press when I return to the Islands."

PostPosted: Sun Feb 13, 2022 2:07 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
"We don't doubt that you will write a great article, please make sure to send us copies once it's done." says Anna with a small laugh.

"Indeed, it seems we're all getting along well, and not only on a political, but personal level as well. Wouldn't you agree Marcella?" asks Adrean to the Duchess with a sincere smile.

PostPosted: Fri Feb 25, 2022 11:42 pm
"Oh quite, I will make sure everyone gets a copy! You can also read it anytime, our more national interest stories do get picked up by our friends! Madam Gozen, my boss is very good about really getting our major press stories out to major news outlets who want them."

"Mhm." Marcella agreed with Asuka and then agreed again, "We're getting along great! This visit is delightful and productive on so many fronts, truly! The only trip I can think of that went this well was my visit to Kyrenaia. The fact you're willing to reach out to us is also just delightful. I mean it's as you say, how easy it would be for you to just seize the Malditas and tell us to deal with it but here we are being able to talk like this." Well maybe or maybe Greater Dienstad's other powers had something to do with that but for now Marcella wanted to believe in an altruistic motive.

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2022 2:24 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
"Thank you very much for your kind words Marcella, we greatly appreciate it." replies Adrean with a large, grateful smile. "And it's a delight for us to have you here, and for us to enjoy this moment like normal people, and not as heads of state of nations. We could have indeed seized the Malditas and told you to shut up about it, but where would this lead us now?

Our nation was trampled upon by Spain, France and Great Britain in the 16th and 17th centuries because they thought themselves superior, and they were in many aspects, such as technology. But we managed to push them back. We do not want to repeat this by ourselves, never. Sure, we are a militaristic people, but we will always use words first. Well, strong words backed by actual military action, I'll concede.
But in any case, regarding the Malditas, it's just a case of us taking it since no ones officially wants it, and trying to be good neighbors. Especially to the UIS and its people, who have gone through the same ordeal as us. Your War of Independence is not very different from our own war against the Europeans back then." finishes the Keisaer.

"Speaking of the Kyrenaians," continues Anna, "with all due respect, I find a bit strange that you think your trip went so well. Wasn't there a thing that happened regarding you, Princess Gisella, with a photo that escaped in the press?

PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2022 9:59 am
"I'm glad you could be thoughtful of such thing. It's true those islands have largely been sparsely populated by a handful of people here and there beyond that, they've mostly been used for naval training and weather watching by us so you are welcome to them. Be mindful of the other nations of Greater Dienstad, this is a region of a lot of powerful and influential nations, not that I suspect they'd bother." The mention of that old situation? "What that silly gaffe by the yellow press? Nah forget about it, it hardly did a thing to dent my relationship, I was personally more worried about Gisella and Aurelia after that. But as I suspected, it blew over and everyone forgot about it after a while. Well I wish people would forget about hounding Aurelia for a little while, maybe then we'd have an easier time in our relationship. I can already tell you The Sultana is pretty tepid about us as is, if anything else goes awry, I'm afraid of what she'll do then The ongoing pandemic in many nations has made it tough enough."

PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2022 1:29 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
"Thank you, we're glad you do not hold it against us." replies Anna. "And do not worry about your Greater Dienstad neighbors, the last thing we want is to startle them and create an unecesary storm in the area that could affect the UIS in a negative way. So we are very mindful in our actions, especially the military ones, in the Malditas."

"Okay, cool to know you moved past it." continues Adrean about the yellow press incident. "I admit that I would have reacted in a worse way than you did, but since it's over, it's over.
We agree with you on the fact that indeed, the Kyrenaian press could go waaaaaaaaaaaaay easier on Aurelia. I fear that she may have come close to suicide all those years ago with the Fafia scandal, and will never truly recover from it no matter what."

"You are also right on the Sultana being a possible problem in your relationship." adds Pavel. "It is well known she is staunchly against homosexual relations, so I wouldn't be surprised to know she may have asked already Aurelia to end her relationship with you. Whether or not it happened does not matter to us. And since the issue of Aurelia and you divides Kyrenaia quite a bit, and the fact they are having a hard time with COVID, we must be on guard for a potential situation."

"You're right Pavel, but we'll talk about this in due time, and pray that it never happens." says Adrean to his friend, with a tone that clearly says that the discussion on the topic is over, and that they will move on other subjects.
"On another topic, are there any myths or legends regarding cryptids or other similar, terrifying creatures in the UIS? With all the jungle on your islands, there must be some legends no?" asks the Keisaer with a curious tone and a smile.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2022 2:32 pm
"Myths and legends huh? Oh plenty, maybe too many to get into here. Let me think....Well just about every island has its own unique creature. Growing up I remember learning from our mother about Will-o'-wisps that could be seen in the overgrowth outside villages. Supposedly many a foolish traveler has gotten lost trying to chase them. Actually I remember Gisella thinking she saw some and darted out to go find them. But don't worry she didn't get lost, I caught up with her before she got too far and we found our way back just as quickly. Another Auroran spirit are the Ghosts that would come to pray on farmer's livestock. People say the creature or ghost or whatever is a man-like figure with a round, red face surrounded by a pointed, hood-like shape and piercing red eyes that also protrude as beams of light to scan the area. Talking very tall, 300 centimeters tall! I've never seen one myself so who knows if they exist or not. Compared to the Wisps, I have seen odd lights like that, I suppose they could be other explanation for that."

PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2022 2:34 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
"Very interesting." replies Adrean once Marcella has finished her explanation. "Will o' wisps were also a part of Astarian Folklore for some time, until advances in chemistry have shown that in most cases, they are just pockets of gases who consume, especially in graveyards. This could maybe be the case in the UIS, with plants decomposing in the undergrowth, and their fermentation creating gases who could be burning. If you agree, we would gladly send a team of scientists to examine the situation."

"Regarding the Ghosts, if they are ever real, count on us if you need to handle the threat." continues Anna with a smile.
"You see, compared to the UIS, us Astarians have many creatures that roam in our forests and isolated areas. Some could be thought as the produce of imagination, but they are quite real, and not so often dangerous.
The Skinwalkers, for example, are humans who partook in evil rituals, giving them a sort of ability to turn into animals, and run very fast among other things. Or the Bigfoots and others, large humanoid figures who live in remote forests.

Ever since the Imperium's creation, us Astarians have faced and battled these creatures. We have managed to reduce their occurences greatly over time, but two years ago, in 2018, it was as if there was a sudden reemerging of all these evil spirits, clearly threatening various settlements and our compatriots lives all around the Imperium.
So, with the rest of the Bodarks of the Imperial Guard, we carried out what is now known as Operation Green Night: a massive hunt with military gear and support, to eradicate or reduce greatly the numbers of those spirits and creatures. And it worked."

"Indeed." adds Alicia. "A Nantinak, which is a type of Bigfoot located in Alaska, who is very strong and massive, might resist a few shotgun bullets, but surely not an anti-tank missile." she says with a small chuckle.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2022 1:46 pm
"Oh. no need to go to trouble by sending out people for something like that. You may be right as is but it's not a big concern, if we ever need an answer, It'd be just as easy for UNIMO to dispatch researches to look into it that. As is, it's not a major concern. Skinwalkers. Sounds painful and frightening at the same time. To have such fearsome beasts wandering around sounds like trouble."

PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2022 3:11 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
"Okay, suit yourself." replies Adrean with a shrug. "Just remember that if you need us, we'll be there." adds the Keisaer with a smile, before getting out of the tub, and going to grab a water bottle from a rack nearby.

"Indeed, Skinwalkers are one of the worst creatures you might encounter in the Imperium's western territories, especially in areas populated by Native tribes." explains Anna to the UIS women. "As I said, they can run pretty fast and outrun you, or even keep up with your vehicle until a certain speed. There is a part of the legend where they can enter the body of people they encounter by their gaze, and take control of their body as a result. Although various reports over the years have shown this is just a myth. And another key part, is that they can not enter the residence of someone unless they have been invited to do so. Which is why their method of gathering victims has nearly always been to pick off small group of travellers on transport routes. That's exactly actually how Adrean, me, Pavel and Alicia encountered our very first one during Operation Green Night." finishes the Keisaerina as she turns to her husband, who has gone back to sit in the tub.

"I remember it as if it was yesterday." continues Adrean with a mysterious tone. "We had landed a few hours before in Arizona, in a location where about 15 apparitions had been reported in the past two months alone. While we were with the rest of our friends who are all present here, we decided to separate in teams of ten, two squads each, to cover more ground. Pavel, Alicia, Anna and me went on our own.

As we were travelling along A.A. Route 195, we heard on the police scanner we had in our pick-up truck that there was a motorist who reported having encountered a scary creature, who had left dented and scratch marks on his car door when he had fled away.
We told the local dispatch we would handle the situation, and went to check the place where the apparition had occured, about two kilometers away.

But after just 600 meters on our way, our truck was rocked by something impacting the front passenger side door, along with the sound of scratching in the metal. As I was the front passenger, Anna driving, and Pavel and Alicia on the back seats, we all took a look to see what had caused the nuisance, and that's when we saw it."

Adrean then lets a few seconds pass in silence, to keep the suspense up for his audience.

"A terrifying face, as though it was the one of an old lady, skeletal, with a few strands of white hair, but with glowing red eyes staring intently at me and Anna. Needless to say that upon seeing this, my dear wife put the pedal to the metal and we started to accelerate as fast as possible away from this horrifying vision."

"But to my horror," continues Anna, "the creature wasn't moving away. I thought at first it had clung to the car, but its arms moving up and down made us guess it was in fact running alongide our vehicle, at a speed impossible for normal humans.
But even if we got away, this Skinwalker would continue to roam this area and surely end some lives. So, no matter what, we had to engage it. And as I was just finishing this thought, I heard the distinctive sound of two assault rifles and one semi-auto shotgun being checked. So I knew, without a word, that my husband and two brother and sister in arms were ready. With this in mind, I slammed on the brakes."

"The creature did not expect this, and got ahead of us before coming to a stop. In the meantime though, we had gotten out, and positioned ourselves on both sides of our car, weapons in hands and shining the attached flashlights in its face." adds Adrean. "I shouted a warning, that we were with the Keiserlig Custos and that it must surrender, but it didn't comply, instead letting out a frightening scream-slash-wail, and got ready to charge us.

However, if Skinwalkers are fast, us Bodarks, with our animal side in us being more in the open, have very sharp reflexes. As the Skinwalker started to close the distance, we fired our rifles and shotgun. Precise shots, no full auto. The Skinwalker was on the ground in a mere second, thanks to a well-placed slug courtesy of Pavel in its right kneecap. After that, it was only a matter of finishing it with round to the head. We all emptied a full mag in it for good measure.

After that, we called for police backup, and the corpse was taken away to be analyzed." finishes Anna. "We didn't know it at the time, but after analysis, we discovered this Skinwalker was a woman who was born in the 1880s, and had apparently become a Skinwalker around the 1920s. But we couldn't dwell on it too much, for she was not the only one we would have to take out."

"So, how did you like the story?" asks Pavel.

PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2022 3:41 pm
The women all listened to the story with such interest and well it was kind of scary. For Marcella and Gisella, they both enjoyed it, so did Asuka who looked on it wide eyed like woah I just hit journalism pay dirt!. "Wow!" Marcella said "That's quite a story."

"I don't think we have anything quite as scary in the islands" Gisella mused, "but I don't know every legend out there."

Sayaka seemed just neutral about it all just relaxing and taking in the water, a guess if she was really listening or not or just letting her mind wander. Asuna however, was stiff, upright, alert and wide-eyed and if you look close enough, shaking just a bit.

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2022 1:18 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
"Glad you like it." says Anna to Marcella and Gisella. "Granted, it would have been a bit better if we had told it at night with the lights off, like people usually do when they share horror stories. But as our guests, we would not want you to have nightmares over it, hence why we tell it now in the day. Although it seems that even with this factor, some people are still affected by it." adds the Keisaerina as she turns her gaze towards Asuna.

"Hey, are you alright?" asks Alicia as she slowly puts her hand on Asuna's shoulder in a reassuring manner, not wanting to startle her.

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2022 2:00 pm
"F-f-fine!" Asuna replied sharply "I'm just fine!" She let out a nervous giggle "Not scared at all. But oh my I think the heat is getting to me now and I've thoroughly soaked. Milady, I think I will get dried and dressed now if you have no issue!"

"Hehe, feel free Asuna. I'm sure we'll be joining you soon enough. Sayaka?"

"Mmm? Oh yeah, I suppose I've had enough time too. Take your time, Miladies, don't rush on our account."

PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2022 2:33 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
Alicia, just like her friends, did not really buy Asuna's answer, but did not say anything about it.

"Okay, see you later Ladies." says Anna as the two Scarlet and Cerulean knights leave the bath and go back to the changing room.

Once they have gotten out, Adrean leans in towards Marcella.

"If I may ask Marcella, are you aware of a situation related or similar to the story we've told that would have happened to Asuna? Because she seemed pretty affected by the story." asks the Keisaer with a concerned tone.

PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2022 6:39 pm
"No, I'm sure the story was just scary for her. Not that she'd admit that, far too proud too so best let her be and just go along with her excuse. She'll be fine and back to herself in no time."

PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2022 11:27 am
by Astares Amauricanum
"Okay, we'll do that." replies Adrean with a nod. "It's pretty understandable why she would be spooked, not many people like to hear that the stuff normally found only in stories can sometimes be very tangible and real." adds the Keisaer with a sigh.

"Well, Ii don't know about you all, but I'm getting out." says Mark Vitela from a nearby tub, as he stands up, grabs hos towel and wraps it around his waist. On cue, his wife Caroline stands up too and dries herself with her towel.

"Yeah, we've thoroughly soaked, so I think we might be good on our side." answers Anna with a nod, before turning to Marcella, Gisella and Asuka. "Ladies, do feel free to stay a bit longer if you want. But as for us, we will get out. Perhaps you wish for us to show you something, before we all go rest for a bit and prepare for tonight's dinner?"

PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2022 11:36 am
"I think I've had my long soak, how about you, Gisella?"

"I'm ready to get out myself"

"Yes I think I'd like to get out and dressed too think the heat is starting to get to me too" Asuka agreed the women all seem to concur they were ready to leave "If you have something more to show us, we'd be delighted for you to show"

PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2022 2:22 pm
by Astares Amauricanum
"Okay then, how about the galleries of portraits?" offers Adrean. "As the name suggests, various portraits and other representations of the previous monarchs of the Imperium, aka my ancestors, as well as other persons in our country's history, are displayed there.

We also have the War Gallery, where various objects of the Imperium's past help us remember the battles we fought, won or lost, to reach the level we are now".

PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2022 12:39 pm
"The portrait gallery of prior monarchs sounds nice. I'd like to see the men and women who previously reigned as well as others you've immortalized forever. So please, let's do that."