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Zeroth Post

The Lynston Daily is a tabloid based in the Aciran capital city and widely regarded as the most notorious tabloid in Lynston, if not all of Aciras. The paper can boast a widespread social media/online presence, steady sales, and all the hottest headlines...even if their stories are not always the most, ah, accurate. The daily gossip column is brought to you by Christina Li (check NPC section of character tab for more information). Assume that all articles are published the day after the event occurs.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ayzrules
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ayzrules Tree-Hugger Extraordinaire

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“Lea, are you ready yet?” The sound of her sister's voice rang out, though Lea could barely hear her over the cacophony of the hair dryer and the music she was blasting at full volume so that she could actually hear it over the hair dryer. Lea yelled back an "almost!" but apparently she didn't hear her, because there was a sharp knock at the door before it burst open.

"Ayleanna Katherine Lynton, what in the hell is taking you so goddamn long?"

Lea finished with the hair dryer and turned around, giving her older sister, the queen of Aciras, a mock-disapproving look, sticking out her tongue. "Cece, you should be more polite," she reproached, grinning at her. "And when did you get so old? You sound like Mom." Queen Cecilia "Cece" Lynton of Aciras made a dismissive gesture with one manicured hand, rolling her eyes.

"You've been 'getting ready' for five hours now, Lea. We need you downstairs in three minutes." And with that, Lea's sister turned on her heel and strode out of the room, the intricate beading of her royal blue gown shimmering in the light as she did so.

Lea sighed and rolled her eyes at the mirror. She was already done, anyway! Why's Cece making such a big deal about me taking a long time? Lea wondered incredulously as she flicked an invisible speck of dust off the sheer pink silk of her gown. This isn't anything new. I always take a long-ass time to get ready. But I definitely plan for it! You can't fault me for not taking this into account!

Lea's warm brown eyes took in her reflection one last time as she prepared to follow her older sister down to the grand ballroom. The dress she wore was by one of her favorite designers, made in partnership with People Tree, a fair trade apparel company founded in 1991 by Safia Minney. According to their Wikipedia page, anyway.

In any case, Lea adored the gown, and she adored the people from People Tree (they were all so nice to her, and they did so much good work. What was there not to love?). Everything from the bubble-gum pink drape to the intricate embroidered designs and the pink fringe at the bottom was absolutely perfect. She didn't even mind that the bodice was too sheer for her to hide a tube of emergency lip gloss in (just in case, you know?). She!!! Loved!!!! It!!

Lea's glittery gold acrylic nails (to match her glittery gold eyeshadow, and glittery gold jewelry) glimmered and flashed when she moved, and she was quite pleased with herself for doing her eyeliner, mascara, and lip gloss almost flawlessly. Lea's gleaming black hair was styled in a fun combination in between a pixie cut and a bob (with the bangs curled!), and she'd thrown on a couple of gold bangles that jingled as she walked. All in all, Lea thought she looked quite glamorous. And her strappy gold heels only added to the effect.

Of course, her parents had thrown a fit when they realized that she wasn't exactly planning on wearing red and white, the colors of Aciras, so to appease them Lea had used a set of silver-white hairpins to hold up her hairdo. There was no way that she wasn't wearing as much pink as he could. Besides, pink is basically just light red! Lea didn't understand why it was such a big deal.

Realizing that she had approximately thirty seconds to get down to the ballroom before her sister and her parents flipped, Lea booked it down the corridor, skipping the elevator for the stairs, her steps never faltering once-even in god-knows-how-high heels (Lea prides herself on being more than capable of sprinting through the Aciran palace in a floor-length gown and high heels, and one can see why. She also prides herself on being capable of applying cosmetics of all varieties, including winged eyeliner, while operating a motor vehicle, but shh. Her parents don't know that, and she'd prefer for it to stay that way). She made it to the ballroom in less than a minute, though definitely more than thirty seconds. Still. That was pretty good.

Fortunately, King Landon and Queen Cecilia did not notice that Lea was a few seconds late, nor did Lea's parents, the former monarchs of Aciras. Lea took her place beside them just as the ball officially started. She walked out into the ballroom proper with her family, grinning widely. Oh, but Lea loved parties!

Even as she smiled and waved and greeted the attendees of the welcome ball, Lea could not get rid of the pit of anxiety that had settled in her gut. In just a couple short months, she was to be married! She'd ignored this fact in the flurry of preparations that had consumed her life for the last month or so (there were many arrangements that had to be made, and many other things that had to be pushed back or re-scheduled due to the fact that Aciras would be hosting two dozen princes and princesses from around the world in the next two months, you see), but now that the welcome ball was upon her, Lea couldn't help but to feel...nervous. She was to marry one Prince Zhou Mei of Liang, who she knew nothing of besides what had been reported in the media and what her parents and their advisers had told her...and what she had been able to find on social media, of course. What was he like? What music did he listen to? Did he like the outdoors? Did he like to eat meat? Or fish? Or dairy and eggs? Did he think that the dress was white and gold or black and blue? Yanny or Laurel?

Lea's brother-in-law, King Landon Lynton of Aciras (well, the King Consort, technically. Or whatever the fancy word for it was supposed to be), raised his eyebrows comically in her direction. Relax, those expressive eyebrows seemed to murmur, and Lea decided to take her sister's husband's advice, smiling at him. It'll be fine, she told herself. Everything will work out in the end. Mom and Dad wouldn't have picked this guy for me to marry if they didn't think that he'd be at least a decent person.

Now that Prince Zhou was not so much of a pressing worry, Lea scanned the room, looking for faces that she knew. She knew everybody's names and faces and countries by heart, as well as what she could talk about and what she could not talk about. For example, she shouldn't talk about how much she loved the Britannian old-growth forests to Princess Valentine Blanchfleur of Luxième (duh). And human sacrifice was a no-no when it came to Princess Isabella del Reyes of Evalusia. Her thoughts regarding socialism and communism and how they had the potential to both hurt and help the environment were probably not to be discussed with Princess Mai of Liang, and she didn't think Prince Quentin of the Texas Sovereignty would appreciate a ramble about why concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs, for short) were not only torturing animals in the pursuit of wealth, but were also poisoning the Earth through excess phosphorus and greenhouse gases. Although, from what Lea knew, she was fairly certain that the Texas Sovereignty wasn't really big on factory farming and the like. Which could make CAFOs an interesting topic of discussion with Prince Quentin, but Lea supposed that she should save that "SJW-y stuff" (her sister's words, not hers!) for another day.

Really, though. This entire thing was going to be fun. It would be super cool to meet people from all around the world, yeah? And Lea was so looking forward to meeting the princesses from Notia, Talya and Ivelynne (whom Lea had been referring to as "Ivy" in her head, but you know. She would need to remember to not do that out loud!!). She wanted to hear all about the work being done in renewable energy in their universities and maybe even ask if she could meet their energy and conservation experts, if there were any that would be willing to talk with her. And she really wanted to ask the Veredunian royalty if they knew of any authentic Veredunian cuisine that was also vegan (because as much as Veredunian aesthetics were so lit, Lea really wasn't into sausage, ya know? But the chocolate!!! And desserts!!!!!!), and if they could maybe forward a recipe to her so that she could get the palace cooks to try it out (Lea herself was atrocious at cooking. The most she could do was microwave a piece of leftover pizza).

Lea's mind flitted to the third thing she loved most in the world (first came plants and animals and the Earth, since she couldn't possibly pick a favorite out of the three, and second was the colors pink and green)-fashion!!! Royalty from the various fashion capitals of the world would be here, and Lea was dying to see stuff from all of the cities, honestly. She'd heard that Prince Alejandro (from Castilya) was as into fashion as she was, and Lea had been in Portaya during the 2014 Spring/Summer shows. Officially, she'd been there to talk to Castilyan environmentalists, but hey she was already there-might as well go see some fashion shows, right?

All in all, Lea was super excited to get this show on the road. She stood with her parents near the entrance of the ballroom, greeting people as they filtered in. This was going to be so much fun!

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by shylarah
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shylarah the crazy one

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Rhiannon Heledd Cadfael of Wales

Rhiannon had actually arrived in Aciras a few days early, to spend time with her cousins before the main event started. As a result she was settled in already and ready for the ball some time before it actually began, and consequently one of the first people in the doors when the Acirans opened them. "I still think what I thought about that dress the first time I saw it," she whispered in Lea's ear as the two young ladies embraced, earning a laugh from her counterpart. "But you make it look stunning. Ta~" There were comparatively few pleasantries to exchange at the ball, since the stiffly formal welcome ceremony was already over and done with, and soon she was out on the main floor. She probably should have waited to arrive until after Prince Edwin's party, since he outranked her, but this was Lea's big deal event, and she had a good defense if anyone fussed about the matter. She doubted they would.

Her outfit was not super showy, though still gorgeous: an off-the-shoulder dress that hugged her top snugly with a cross-wrapped design and then turned into a generous chiffon skirt in turquoise, yellow, cream, and half a dozen shades of green. The ombre effect was lovely, and the skirt had a slit that ran up past her knee, perfect for moving or dancing or just showing off her legs. She'd gone with actual jewelry instead of her usual eclectic mix of resin, beads, and metal: an emerald-and-diamond set, bracelet, stud earrings, and a necklace that drew the eye down her collarbones to her surprisingly modest cleavage. Despite the low neckline, the dress was classy, and that meant it provided good coverage for what needed covering. Her hair was tamed to a quiet roar, a tumble of ruddy curls pinned back from her face and brushing the tops of her bare shoulders. She hadn't had the patience to do anything with it beyond that, even with the offers of help from her attendants. She was not just there as Lea's cousin but also as the future queen of Wales. It was public knowledge that she was unmarried, and an open secret that she was supposed to have something arranged soon. Rumor suggested that she as much as her parents would decide her spouse -- and that was where Princess Lea's event came into play. There were a few potential candidates among the guests, and while Wales had made no promises they'd dropped careful hints about her availability and the potential suitability of certain individuals. It was expected that she'd be getting a better feel for as many of the potential suitors as possible over the course of the months to follow, where she would (hopefully) have a chance to determine who had a good personality as well as the required skills to be her fellow monarch.

For the moment she took up a position near the main entrance, where she had a good view of those arriving. It was just the first day today -- a bit nervewracking, but nothing to worry about. And while she would have to get down to business eventually, for the moment she was there to have fun.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by lady horatio
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lady horatio

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When it came to going unseen, Genevieve Anders had two strategies: either become invisible, or put on a mask—literal or figurative.

For the welcoming ball, she had chosen the latter.

She had spent hours agonizing over an outfit meant to look like it had involved no agonizing at all. From the winged liner painted above her eyes to the careful array of tiny crystals scattered beneath them, every choice was precise. Long red-orange bangs hung in slashes against her cheekbones, easy to duck behind when she needed a moment to collect herself. The rest of her hair was braided into a crown and threaded with still more crystals, taking the place of an actual tiara.

Her floor-length gown was her nod to her country—layers of chiffon, all in shifting shades of blue and grey, like the Marisian sea. That, her parents had approved before she left. The mulberry lip color? Not so much, but it, too, was a strategic choice. She only knew a handful of people in this castle. The rest likely had almost no idea who she was—and if they did, it was through her skimpy social media presence.

Which meant the only hope she had of being recognized, short of tattooing a line of obscure poetry across her chest, was to show up wearing one of her signature lipsticks.

Genevieve stared at herself in the generous floor-length mirror tucked into one corner of her very lavish guest quarters. For a few moments, she let the self-consciousness she wouldn’t be able to afford in public filter into her expression.

“You look perfect, Highness,” Natalie said from behind her, coming forward to squeeze her shoulders.

Genevieve released a sigh. “Oh, don’t start that yet. Not before I go downstairs.”

Natalie’s mouth curled up at one corner. “Okay, but 'my dear Lady Gen' just doesn't have the same ring to it."

Christopher stepped into Genevieve’s field of vision, coming from her other side to meet her eyes in the mirror. “Your parents were very specific. We got to be the ones to come with you, on the condition that we maintain proper etiquette at all times.”

The princess of Maris had not brought many attendants with her. The small army her parents had wanted her to bring along would attract far too much attention, and would probably seem presumptuous for a princess whose kingdom was so small—and whose title was not “heir.”

So she just had Christopher and Natalie, and that was more than enough for her. A modern lady-in-waiting, Natalie could easily do the work of five girls with the same training, and she and Christopher had memorized almost as many rules of etiquette as Genevieve had. They’d all learned alongside each other, raised as nearly equal in station. And despite their closeness, nothing could be said against Natalie’s professionalism or Christopher’s respectability.

Genevieve held out her hands at her sides, and wordlessly, her friends took them.

After a moment, Natalie let go. “Okay,” she said bracingly. “Showtime.”

One breath in. One breath out. Genevieve nodded, allowing Chris’s hand at the small of her back to guide her toward the door. The moment he slipped away from her to hold it open, he changed, warm features slipping behind a formal mask—no longer the very first boy she’d ever kissed, but the official bodyguard of Her Highness Genevieve Anders, princess of Maris.

And as she moved into the hall, Gen felt her face change, too—chin steady, but not too high; eyes cool; corners of her lips ready to curve into a smile should she meet anyone on the way.

She made it downstairs without incident. She stepped into the receiving line with Christopher shadowing her, one respectful step behind. She listened to her name and title being announced, feeling it like a weight about her shoulders.

And then she swept the bubbly princess of Aciras a perfectly-practiced curtsey. Too much? She honestly had no idea, but it was a safe bet that “more formal than expected” was always better than “unforgivably rude.”

“Princess Ayleanna,” she murmured, head still bowed. As she straightened, she couldn’t help the warmth that infused her smile, despite her attempt to remain formal. Princess Lea looked exactly in person as she sounded on social media, and Gen admired her determination to be her sparkly self. “Your castle is absolutely stunning.” She risked letting her lips quirk, just a bit, as she added, sincerely, “And I love your dress.”
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by HaleyTheRandom
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HaleyTheRandom ☣ Hurricane Eyes ☣

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Talya Jade Burnley
The dress.

Talya had spent the greater part of the day getting settled into her guest room at the Aciran castle. She hadn't brought any attendants with her, much to her parents disapproval. This ment that she had to spend the majority of her time here at the castle unpacking. Once her clothes were hanged and everything was in it's place, she barely had two hours to get ready for the welcoming ball. Luckily she had picked out her outfit before hand. So out of her beloved jeans and into the dress she went.

It was a high-necked dress, white in color except for the gold outline at the neck and mid-stomach. The top half was backless, made of lace and embroidered with an intricate floral pattern. The bottom half was surrounded by a sort of skirt that reached the floor with a split that reached clean up above her hip. The young woman had chosen such a dress because she felt that it suited her. The flower design reminded her of the fields back home, and the color white had always reminded her of the seafoam upon the shore.

Talya had decided to accessorize with golden bracelets on each wrist. For footwear, she had chosen a pair of two inch high peep-toe stilletos, light gold in color. Her hair was left nearly untouched and free falling. All she had really done was brush it. With one quick glance in the mirror, she exited her room to make her way to the receiving line.

Once there, she waited patiently until her sister came up behind her. Though Ivy was always dolled up, the sight of her in her dress for this special occasion made Talya smile. Giving Ivy's hand a small squeeze, she gave slight smiles to the other royals as they approached. Once her name was called, she entered the ball room, chin ever so slightly up. The young woman made her way gracefully over to Princess Lea. Giving a curtsey in greeting, she met the other girls gaze with a smile. "It is an honor to be here, Princess Ayleanna. Thank you for inviting me." Hearing Genevieve's comment - who's name she only knew from the announcement - she nodded. "I agree. You look absolutely stuning."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Ezmeralda
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Ivelynne Maria Burnley


Ivelynne's guest room was next to Talya's for obvious reasons. She was glad they were more or less the same room and that she got her own. It made her feel like she was equal to her sister in terms of importance... although it was probably just how the quest rooms were designed and really had nothing to do with that at all. Still, it felt nice to have her own room.

At first their parents were reluctant to let her go with her sister, but they let her go so she could introduce herself to the world, and in a sense, show her off. She was almost 18 now, and her parents wanted grandchildren, and who knows if Talya would ever give them any. She was however, surprised they didn't send any attendants. Ivy didn't necessarily need one, but her sister probably could've used one.

Although, maybe that was her now since she was also sent to try to keep an eye on Talya. Ivy knew what a prankster her sister was. Then again she could usually keep herself proper when needed, but she knew her sister didn't like it and who knows when those urges would slip, and it wouldn't be a good idea to ruin relations with another nation for some silly jape.

She had spent some of the day helping her sister get settled in before settling in herself, which took a bit more time than she thought. Were she not as used to putting on fancy dresses and putting on her makeup how she liked Ivy might've been late.

Ivy decided to go for something more cutesy and modest than sexy. She certainly didn't want to upstage her sister, or worse, the bride to be at the mere welcoming ball. The masquerade later was another story though. So instead she went for a different style. A long, full length, light blue dress with white embroidery and a few jewels to continue the ocean/sea foam trend with matching light blue heels, as well as her usual necklace and earrings. Her makeup was much like what she usually wore except she replaced some colors of her eye shadow with different colors of blue. She left her very long, curly hair down. She didn't think she would stand out more than her sister, but she wanted to pop in her own way, although she had to admit it was something very similar to something a princess out of one her romantic novels would wear.

Ivelynne joined her sister outside their rooms and took her hand, returning her squeeze. She let go as their names were announced, allowing Talya to enter first, and then followed behind after her name was called. She joined her sister, giving Ayleanna an almost too perfect curtsy. Ivy listened to the conversation, and agreed with it all. She smiled and nodded, "Yes. Thank you for having us." she added, giving her sister a small smile. "And you do indeed look gorgeous, Your Highness."
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Amethyst


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Liviana and Domitia

The palace staff had been nice enough in getting them settled. If they had objected to the …eclectic luggage that the Lusitanians brought, their comments had been kept to themselves. Originally the plan had been made for the two to have separate rooms, just across the hall from each other, but within just a few minutes all of Liviana’s belongings had ended up in Dom’s room. They shared a room and a bed not even half this size back in Lusitania, after all, and both knew it would be better if they had at least one thing to stay consistent while they were here.

Liv had taken to the washroom to get dressed for the ball, having dragged a chair in with her to boost herself up to the mirror. Between the orchestral music playing full-blast on her Papyrvs and her intent focus on her eyeliner, she did not hear the clattering kerfuffle occurring in the room itself as Dom got ready.

Had she heard such a thing, she might have been mildly concerned. But, she did not hear it, and so she continued to focus on her makeup, on the heavy layers of blush and lip color to try to make herself look less like a ghost. Shimmery gold eyeshadow, layers of mascara, and a delicate coral lipstick finished off her look.

Her curls were combed, spritzed generously with water and lightly oiled in a diluted rose oil, to force them to lie mostly evenly in their cascade down her back. The front strands were braided, pinned back with a pair of gold laurel leaf combs. Though the event likely called for a proper updo, Liv had neither the time nor motivation to coax her hair into such a thing. Besides, her stunningly long curls (hanging down to her thighs) might well make a more dramatic impression on their own.

As she clambered off the bathroom counter, shedding her oversized tunic to put on the gown she had chosen, she felt a wash of anxiety. The gown was midnight blue, embellished heavily with gold – all the maids back home had sworn that the blue would make her eyes all the more brilliant, but she was worried of wearing such a strong color. Still, it was either this dark blue or white – she dared not wear pink to such an event, not with Ayleanna’s love for it. It was doubtless that the Aciran princess would be wearing something flashy and pink, and Liv didn’t want to steal her thunder. Or rather, be completely shown up by her. But anyway, wasn’t it a social custom somewhere that one never wore the same color dress as the host?

The gown fit her snugly, in part thanks to the generous pads sown in at all the pertinent parts, to give her the illusion of a feminine figure. It was modest enough, the midnight chiffon covering almost all of her chest and shoulders, and the ‘sleeve’ (such as it was, from the artful draping of the material in the back) would cover most of her bare arm. With that being said, she still was wary- people back home would call it a scandal if she dared go with her hair uncovered, or with her other arm still bare.

She put the thought out of her mind, donning liberal accessories to take her mind off of it. A simple gold necklace, ever present when she went out, with a crescent moon pendant on it. Laurel leaf ear cuffs that climbed up the edges of her ears without any dangles – given that she did have a pet bird, she was often wary about anything that could be tugged off in beaks or tangled in claws.

A variety of dainty gold rings adorned her fingers, and a golden arm cuff on her bare left arm. She stepped into the shoes she’d brought (gold-toned strappy sandals, in a traditional Lusitanian style,) took one final look in the mirror, steeled herself, and opened the door, stepping out into-

…A perfectly ordered room, at first glance. Qvi took off from her perch, settling on Liv’s bare shoulder and immediately beginning preening. Ana had definitely done some work on the bird, who’s feathers were glossy and bright and extra vibrant, having been slightly enhanced by the various semi-permanent vegetable dyes that were in fashion amongst bird owners in Lusitania. A bit of gold dust had been brushed along the dark edges of Qvi’s primary feathers, rendering the bird quite dazzlingly shiny.

“Did I do okay, lady Liv?” came a timid voice. Ana, the girls’ maidservant, looked up anxiously from her embroidery work. “It was a bit of work to get her to hold still.”

“You did very well, Ana.” The voice was not Liv’s, but rather emanating from a –

… suit of armor.

Gods damn you, Domitia.

Liv fought to keep her expression blank as she sized up her niece. Dia wore their officer’s armor, a piece looking like it had waltzed straight out of the sixteenth century. Burnished black steel, ornately filigreed with the ever present laurel branch motif in brilliant gold. Their helm was molded in a fairly stereotypical knight’s shape, made of the same burnished dark metal, and had a close-cropped plume of tyrian purple rising from the point and extending down the back of the helm.

They looked like a badass.

A badass from the sixteenth century, but a badass nonetheless.

“Dia, I don’t know about the helm. It’s not a masquerade.” Liv finally said, in quiet Latin. “How is Edwin to recognize you if you hide your face? Or our gracious hosts, for that matter?”

The suit of armor gave a heavy sigh, hands reaching to pry the helm from its head. Ana rushed to take it, setting it on the dresser with a heavy clunk.

Dom had done their makeup, at least. Bold black eyeliner, winged out well past the corner of their eye, with three small dots along the underside of the eye, and a thin white line along the top to really make it pop. They had heavily contoured and highlighted their face (which quite frankly didn’t need it) and painted their lips in a bold, bloody red.

Their hair had, perhaps, been pinned back – but being in the helm, for however short of a time, had tousled it. They saw that in the mirror at least, and cursed, reaching for a comb and forcing it to lie flat against their head once more.

Liv grimaced. The armor was… a bold choice.“Are you certain you do not want to change, Dia? I worry that you might… draw the eye, moreso than you are comfortable with.” She asked, softly.

Dom stared at her. “Liviana, I’ll be forced into those pretty dainty gowns for the rest of my time here. I’m here to make an impression. I graduated the academy with the right of any Lusitanian centurion; the right to wear my insignia at court. You know damn well Father won’t let me do it more than once; he doesn’t even know I brought it from the armory.”

Liv sighed, but knew there was no point in arguing with Dom once their mind was made up. Plus, if the argument continued any longer, they would have been late for the ball.

Knowing they had won the argument, Dom scooped up the leather belt on which their ceremonial rapier and dagger hung. It was tradition, of course, that Lusitanian commanders be adept at fighting with any manner of gladius, and any one of five variants of spathae, but Dom had always had a thing for the more elegant and ostentatious renaissance rapier. The rapidly darting, stabbing fighting style had been more suited to their body shape than it had been for many of their classmates. So upon their graduation they had a rapier commissioned for them, one with an especially ornate handguard, made again in the twisting laurel and ivy motif.

Liv thought to object to the swords, or perhaps to the fact that – Epona save them, Dom couldn’t even move without a faintly echoing clank! But she held her tongue. Her elder niece was not ever to be trifled with, but certainly not about matters of appearance and presentation…

They descended the stairs without incident, and stood before the gathered nobles and press. Liv fought the urge to bury her face in her hands- what a picture they must have been, a child with a sparkling bird on her shoulder, and a stubby suit of armor sans helmet.

Dom seemed unfazed, only the brilliance in their eyes and color on their high cheekbones betraying their embarrassment at how they stood out. In perfect, nearly accentless English, they greeted the hosts and swept into a surprisingly delicate, shallow bow, nudging Liv into a curtsy beside them.

With such formalities addressed, and a brief and cursory assessment of those few who were already here, they both endeavored to find themselves a quiet corner. Liv quite easily found her own, perched conveniently near one of the side doors (the better to let Qvi out to take care of her business – the bird was house trained, yes, but such a tiny creature needed let out often multiple times an hour) and near enough to the orchestra that she could nearly make out their sheet music.

Oh, how her hands itched for the cello, laid out on the bed upstairs. She knew it went against all social protocol, but at the same time… she was here, and unbetrothed. It was Dom that everyone had eyes on; surely they’d understand if Liv snuck away to join the orchestra, right?

She made a mental note to ask the concertmaster, after the ball, if they had need of another cello or violin for the next week’s festivities. She began mentally constructing those words, at times pulling her Papyrvs smartphone from her delicate gold clutch to make certain she had conjugated her words correctly. Writing in English was hard but doable, but speaking it was… not remotely so. It was partly for this reason that she had found herself this corner – her eldest brother and father had made it perfectly clear that she was not to embarrass them in any way while she was here, and not being able to converse elegantly was precisely one of those embarrassing things.

Dom, meanwhile, found themself near to the refreshment table, close enough to the reception area to hear all the newcomers’ introductions, and to seek out their betrothed when he arrived. They did their best not to look suspicious, having seen the men in suits standing quietly in the corridors and being altogether too interested in the weapons strapped to their belt.

Social events had never been their strong suit. Even Edwin, the Britannian heir to whom they were supposed to be wed, had commented wryly to that effect once. The two of them had reached a sort of understanding, the weight of tradition heavy on both of them and their conduct at their few state visits to each others’ homes. Plus, Dom had seen first-hand that the Britannian military were at least as …ostentatious in presentation as their own. To be honest, they were quite eager for their husband-to-be’s arrival, simply so the two of them would compliment each other’s ostentatious and archaic aesthetics.

That said, they hadn’t had a formal meeting since the engagement had been announced. It had been a state visit where it had been arranged, but the results of the discussions didn’t come until some months later at home. It had seemed, going into the arrangement, that Liviana was the favored candidate to be his wife, an arrangement that Dom almost would have preferred. Edwin was an honorable man for certain, but nonetheless the thought of ‘wifely duties’ and all those traditions that Britannia doubtless had as Lusitania did… such thoughts turned their stomach.

They took a deep, shaking breath, clearing their mind from such unpleasantries and instead focusing on the lovely people surrounding them. Though the clamor of the receiving line had been too much to really focus through, they now clearly saw those who had come in before them. Ayleanna herself looked a confection in a glitzy and… fluffy pink gown (oh, how Liv’s face had fallen to realize that she couldn’t wear her own signature pink!) just dripping with golden accessories.

The delightful Rhiannon Cadfael looked stunning, in a gown of deep green that made her hair look like fire and eyes shine like amber. Dom could appreciate the color green, so often overlooked especially in Lusitania, but all tones of emerald were just lovely – the right balance of delicate and powerful, natural and yet intentional. And they very much suited Rhia, Dom noted, a faint color returning to their cheeks. They made a note to strike up a conversation at some point, though perhaps not in the confines of this event.

Genevieve Anders wore a demure gown of steely ocean blue; the shade suited the girl’s rather …mysterious existence, as well as her complexion. Dom had to appreciate that. Though they did not know much about the Marisian princess, from their scrutiny they could see nothing other than a perfectly pretty, proper noble.

The Burnley sisters were interesting, the younger following her elder sister at a distance, dressed in a style that Dom could easily tell was to distance herself from the dramatic look of her older sister. It was rather ironic, really- that same assessment could have been passed off on Dom and Liv’s arrival.

Dom’s sharp eyes continued across the gathered people, the majority still servingfolk and press. For a split second, their eyes locked with the dark gaze of one Aulus Crispin. He afforded them a tiny salute, but did not otherwise acknowledge or move towards them, instead continuing to converse with the palace servant he was interviewing.

“Damn it.” They muttered, quietly. Crispin was well-known for his …romantic turn of phrase, in prose turning Liv and her chronic illness and stunted growth into a ‘gentle maid blessed by forces Endovelican and prized then by Diana’s silver grace’ and Dom and their host of issues into ‘..that which gentle Proserpina’s light has blessed and cursed in alternation’. And while to some extent it was nice to have their glaring faults for once not on display, Aulus’s regular romanticization of them and likening them to ancient heroes has left Dom to …question his reporting ethics. The man could probably find a way to glamorize slavery.


The thought put a bitter smile on Dom’s face as they turned their gaze once more to the receiving line.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Glyph
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Glyph Aged like a / fine wine

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The long corridor, not far from the sectional suite where Alex and her family were set up within Aciras, was one of the more fascinating areas of the castle. At least from her perspective. It’s floors, with intricately woven patterns that ran parallel with the walls, shined with a mirrored finish which reflected the beautiful natural lighting that beamed from the skylights high above. As the girl walked barefoot slowly along the cool marble floor, admiring the many oil paintings of people and places, sculptures of both animal and human, and large frescos that took up at least half of the hallway, she couldn’t help but allow a subtle sigh. You see, Alexandra Joi Bonnisseau loved art, as not only was it intertwined throughout her heritage as a member of the Castellevé royal family, but her passion to create life from nothing but a brush or a pen astonished her even from the day she could scribble on the walls of her home. She recognized some of the artwork, as several pieces were purchased from or directly commissioned by artisans of her homeland, indicated by not only their signature and Guild crest, but their specific style, brush stroke, and aesthetical flare. Essentially, they were one of the best.

Most however, she did not recognized, perhaps as they were from far off lands, or artists from the local Aciras guilds whom she was unfamiliar. Either way, Alex stared at each of the foreign pieces hanging on the wall, and after a few moments of putting very little thought into any real critique...

“Lame.” She said in a flat, unimpressed tone.

The abrupt and poorly timed sound of heels echoing and hastily making their way closer to where Alex was standing pretty much knocked the girl right out of her little fantasy world.

“Where the hell have you been?” The fairly tall, slim, and beautiful Queen Larissa of Castellevé whispered in a not-so-subtle way, trying to keep her voice low enough due to the immense acoustics.

“In the castle, mother.” The girl sighed, avoiding eye contact with the other. “Just like you demanded. I mean, forcefully requested.”

“Don’t be smart with me, child.” Her mother hissed, fussing with the girl’s wardrobe, which for all intents and purposes, was quite unorthodox for one of royalty, as well as a female.

“I swear, Alex, it was bad enough that your father and I allowed you to wear…” Her mom motioned to the girl’s choice of clothing for such an occasion. “Well, frankly, men’s clothes.”

“Tuxes aren’t just for guys.” Alex said, shaking her head, before muttering. “Geez, it’s the twenty-first century for cryin’ out loud...”

And so it was, and within the last few years, Alexandra turned away from her once “glitz and glamour” archetype, and went a bit more obscure at times. While it all started with having her hair cut short and more pixie-like, it continued with more of a gender-neutral look, not wanting to get all dolled up just to look like a doll. Her choice this time was a slim fitting tuxedo jacket, pants, satin tie-neck blouse, and a pair of comfortable leather wedges.

“Well did it have to be black?” Her mother continued the rant. “I mean it looks like you’re going to a funeral.”

Her daughter could only smirk at that comment, and of course, respond in kind. “Well, you know what they say mother. Marriage sometimes is the death of all life.”

“Let’s please not start with this.” Her mother, smoothing out a few wrinkles in the girl’s sleeve and running fingers through the short, dark, disheveled hair as though it’s going to make it any better. “Alex, please don’t embarrass this family.”

Oh…” Her daughter’s eyes grew twice as large for a moment, mocking a gasp as though she’d been hit with an arrow in the heart. “So now I’m an embarrassment?”

“You know what I mean.” Larissa said in a calmer tone. “This is a special occasion for Princess Ayleanna and-”

“Yeah but she’s Jack’s friend.” Alex said matter-of-factly. Which was true, as Lea and Jack were fairly good friends, keeping in touch online and such, while Alex really didn’t socialize much with the Princess of Aciras. It wasn’t that she didn’t like Lea, it’s just they didn’t really seem to have much in common, at least nothing Alex cared about.

“I wish you’d stop interrupting me.” Her mom retorted. “And besides, Jack is back home in Castellevé sick.”

“Mhmm.” Alex raised a suspicious eyebrow. “And you believe that shit, mother?”

“Watch your mouth young lady!” She hissed, her voice echoing off every nook and cranny of the vast corridor.

“Jack’s playing you guys.” The girl crossed her arms. “Haven’t you ever seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off?.” A cheesy grin crossed her lips. She tried not to allow it, but it happened nonetheless.

Her mother on the other hand cocked her head and raised a curious eyebrow. “And why on earth would he miss this though? Princess Lea is a good friend of his, and I know he’d been wanting to attend.”

“Mom, he’s probably out cruising around with his buddies while you guys are all the way over here in another region of the world.” This time Alex raised her brow as though the girl was giving her mother something to think about.

In truth, Jack Bonnisseau, the Crown Prince of Castellevé, was not only upset that he didn’t ask Lea out a long time ago and perhaps even ask for her hand in marriage, but decided a long time ago that he wasn’t even going to attend her wedding party. He didn’t need the drama of being in Aciras, nor did he really feel like being around anyone associated with the Princess. Stubborn to a fault he was, the boy decided to suddenly come down with the flu.

“Oh shush, we’ll talk about this later.” She waved her hand in front of her as though to shoo away the topic like an annoying gnat. “Anyway, my dear, this is an important day for the Princess and you know your father and I love her, the family, and all of the wonderful things she’s been doing for the environment.”

Not wanting to start yet another royal argument with her mother, she let the woman off the hook for that comment. Sure, Ayleanna was the picture perfect poster child for everything that sparkles, and is about as “green” as a person can be when it comes to saving the world, but the girl has also made it extremely difficult in the past couple of years to obtain certain paints because of bans that had been put on certain -and allegedly- harmful chemicals found inside oil based paints. The problem is, these particular paints were Alexandra’s favorite, and with them being much harder to come by, she’s had to work with alternative methods.

Thanks Princess. Go hug a tree.

“Yep, she’s done some wonderful things.” Alex said with a shrug, allowing the subject to drift away before she became upset herself, which wasn’t easy for her to do, but when she did jump on something she didn’t agree with, it was hard for her to get off of it.

“Oh, and also...” Her mom let that word dangle in the air for a moment. “I don’t want you or, oh...what’s his face-”

“Elijah” She sighed, having to remind her of the one male kid she’d probably hung out with the most growing up.

“Well, I don’t want you two causing any trouble. Not like during Jack’s birthday celebration.” She shook her head in disgust. “You two and those damn water balloons.”

“Pfft!” The girl couldn’t hold it in, holding her stomach as she tried to stifle a chuckle. “That was classic if I say so myself.”

Her mother’s face was not amused, giving the girl an evil eye that could wilt a newly bloomed rose.

“Fine, yes, I’ll be good. And honestly, I don’t know when Elijah will be here.” She hoped soon, perhaps for her own sanity.

They both parted ways for the moment, her mother headed down to the courtyard to fetch her husband, King Gregory Bonnisseau, as he was busy chatting it up with friends, colleagues, and various constituents who’d travelled far and wide for the party. Alex, on the other hand, made her way to the foot of the grand staircase, which lead down into the ground level foyer, and which also meant she might just have to socialize after all. Thankfully, there were still several friends that had been tolderable through the years, and it appeared that a few may even be at the party from a quick glance along the receiving line, so it wouldn’t be all bad. And as long as there was a possibility of stealing a drink or two…

“Hi Lea.” She finally said with a smile to the glistening Princess herself, as she passed by in none other than pink and sparkles. “Congrats.”
Hidden 3 mos ago Post by shylarah
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shylarah the crazy one

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> S P A R K S , A C I R A S I T
status: servitor

> > John adjusted his bowtie for the last time. He really didn't like having to wear them, but sometimes he got drafted from his usual job and put on other duties. In this case, "other duties" required him to wear a three piece suit, and the unfortunate bowtie. At least they let him leave his hair its sky blue hue, a splash of gentle color in contrast to the black and white of his clothing. He had a bluetooth walkie nestled discreetly in one ear, so he was reachable in case of emergencies, but most of his usual tech was either left behind or secreted in one of his several pockets. He was signed off for the duration of the event -- barring catastrophe, or a reasonable excuse to be otherwise.

He swept his designated tray up off the counter and balanced it on one splayed hand, then pushed out the side door into the ballroom proper, taking up his position among the other servitors. It was hard for him to keep from smiling. They looked like a bunch of penguins scattered about the room, but that wouldn't last. The bright colors of noble attire would cover them like wildflowers taking over a bare lot.

He could see the lady of the hour and her family, greeting the guests as they entered. Princess Ayleanna was a sweetheart, and she was handling her upcoming marriage with enthusiasm. She always had a friendly word for the castle staff, especially the fellow that kept her net connection alive and well. She wouldn't be saying hello at the event, of course, but he'd have a chance to watch all the guests, and that was a good way to pass the time.
Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Eric Horst
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Eric Horst Sociopath With Your Number

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Elijah Lewis Rothchester of Ivunate Empire

Eli got a trench coat. Insert edge joke here.

"What do you mean you gotta check my coat for hidden counter-band?!" This place was beginning to piss him off. It hadn't been even five minutes since his family had arrived at the scene of the party, otherwise known as the celebratory pre-wedding shindig of extravagant proportions, at least to his family, within the kingdom of Aciras. It'd taken them a bit, they kept getting lost when Elijah accidentally misread one of the directions.

Most people would've used a GPS, but after an incident involving a hatchet and a flock of birds, Eli's parents refused to install a new one at risk of it getting it ruined again.

Regardless, they were here now, standing patiently at the entrance of the spectacular castle entrance, possibly forming a bit of a road block to any guests who hadn't made their way in already.

Elijah had a tendency to attract attention, but this was absolutely ridiculous.

They insisted on checking him over several times, just because he happened to be wearing his stylish and somewhat expensive trench coat. In fact, he might argue that it actually was the most expensive and luxurious item in his possession, he was far to busy gritting his teeth and forcing his mouth to remain shut. Oh how he wanted to make a scene.

Of course, doing so would probably result in him and his family being tossed in whatever amounted to a prison around the capital, and he wasn't planning on getting tossed anywhere, at least for now. So he held his tongue, though it was rather clear that he wanted to the doorman to get his hands away from his pockets and go bother somebody else.

The doorman didn't need to speak, his mother was the one to speak up and explain the situation to her son. Much to her disappointment that he hadn't yet caught on as to why he was being searched. Again.

"Your father and I did tell you, wearing that long coat of yours doesn't usually fly well with security."She chided him.

His father silently agreed, shaking his head is minor annoyance. They all wanted to enter, but Eli was holding them up, and it wasn't even on purpose this time. Well, he'd kinda of wanted to plant a firework on his older brother, but he'd forgotten to, and now the end result was the same, for all the wrong reasons.

Remembering this, he growled low in his throat, and then..."...This is discrimination, I demand to speak to your superiors! Get me my lawyer! Goddamnit somebody strangle this guy for hunting through my pockets! I won't stand for this!" His shouting was sure to attract attention, and the guard was already stumbling away, already in a panic as to either call for assistance, or lunge forward and take this raving lunatic down to the ground before they began to cause some real trouble, and then the Rothchester family decided now was the time to go inside before things escalated any further.

Pushing the angered Eli into the castle, his family lowered their heads as if to try and hide their identity's, while his father quickly tossed the doorman a tip, alongside an apologetic smile. "So sorry about that, he actually quite harmless, just a little, hehe, yeah... good day."

"HE'S GOING ON THE LIST!" Eli's voice echoed from the down the hallway.

King Gregory flinched visibly, then turned and followed after his family. The doorman stood there in mild shock, eyes moving from the crumpled bills in his hand, to the fleeing family. Never again did he hope to have to deal with such a situation ever again. What a bunch of loons.

Elijah finally ceased his ravings when he realized they were inside, and he immediately composed himself, swiftly stepping away from his family. "Ahem. It seems my brilliant plan worked." He scoffed cheerfully.

"Plan? What plan? All you did was make a bigger scene then we already needed." The eldest Rothchester brother, Jerome, muttered, his glare attempting to pierce Elijah's heart and end his antics for good.

"He does have a point..." The youngest, Wesley, quietly mumbled, his eyes focused on the beautiful interior of the castle. It was nothing like the one they resided in, this was something new.

"Hey! At least we got in! Jeeze that guy had no sense of urgency!"

Jerome laughed. "With good reason."

"My coat, my privacy...jerks." Elijah Rothchester wouldn't stand for such insolence, so he did the only logical thing when he couldn't think of a good retort.

Turning in a random direction, he walked away in a huff, trying to straighten a few locks of his ginger mop that had gone astray in his fit.

"You be careful now! Try not to cause any more problems!" His mother called after him, before sagging, almost as if worn out. "As long as I live, I will never understand that boy... hopefully he and his friends stay out of trouble..."Her crossed an arm across her lovely dress, using it as a prop for her other, which pressed against her cheek. She didn't believe her own hope.

"Friends?" The eldest brother spluttered. It took a lot to surprise the Rothchester family at this point, but the thought of somebody like Elijah having friends was almost preposterous to Jerome.

"Yes, a few of his friends are also attending this event, so at least he'll know a few others here."

Elijah's ears tuned out the rest of the conversation as he slid back around the corner. So a few of his comrades were out and about at this shindig? Sounded like he had more then enough backup to mess with his family, and for that matter, get back at the doorman. He was pretty sure they'd swiped his penlight.

Raising his fist in the air, Eli boldly stated aloud to himself:

"Vengeance shall be mi-" It was at that moment that his fist struck a rather splendid painting that sat on the wall directly above him, shaking the entire piece of art off the wall, striking his head with a low THWACK.

"Owwww..." He murmured, reaching up to knock whatever had landed on him off of his noggin. Sadly, when his hand made contact with the painting, he realized his mistake. He really shouldn't have stood so close to the wall when he made his vow to get even. For that matter, he could feel his penlight in his other pocket now. Mother of god.

The painting was in the perfect position, if he moved, it would fall, and most likely rip over his head, unless of course it was one of the sturdier canvases that it had been crafted upon.

He didn't want to risk moving, and since he was in the perfect position to just pretend he just happened to be standing at the same height as the large work of art, he made himself comfortable.

Goddamn did he hate everything.

Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ayzrules
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ayzrules Tree-Hugger Extraordinaire

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Mai had been getting ready for hours. First, she’d combed her long, wavy hair, ensuring that her midnight locks were free of all knots and snares. Sitting in front of her mirror, Mai had stared at herself in silence, thinking about all that her life had been up to that day. In her twenty-four years that she'd been alive, Mai had gone from hiding her identity from everyone to practically flaunting it in front of the most powerful people of Liang, and now the entire world. "Leonard Ford of Krieg-Königreich," she said out loud, clumsily. The foreign name sat heavily on her tongue, while her native language flowed fluidly out of her mouth. Mai winced, more aware than ever of her slight accent. She sighed-there was not much that she could do about that right then.

Mai had mixed feelings about being betrothed to Leonard Ford. On one hand, she understood the political implications of her marriage; Krieg-Königreich would provide her uncle's precarious regime with much-needed advanced technology, especially in terms of military technology. But on the other hand, Mai had never been particularly fond of soldiers. She tsked irritably to herself. Now was certainly not the time to be remembering that kind of stuff. Mai steeled her resolve and settled into the rhythmic motion of combing her hair. No, she would play her part, as she had always done. There was no need for the royalty of the entire damn world to know about the things that she'd seen and the things that she remembered. Besides, we've met before, she reminded herself. Even if the first time Mai had been sixteen and Leon eleven, and all subsequent encounters had been...awkward.

From what she'd seen and read, Leon was friendly enough, if on the more private side. He'd be the first of the royal family marrying a foreigner, and most news reports painted him in a relatively positive light. What more could she ask for?

Mai was not so foolish as to believe everything that people said, though. Being the crown prince of a kingdom with the world's most advanced military required more than just friendliness. No, there would be a certain cunning that only rulers and politicians and generals had within him, too. Mai had spent her life around that lot, for goodness's sake. She of all people would know.

After she had combed her hair until it shone, Mai pinned it out of her face while she went to get dressed. She carefully slipped into the gown that was hanging in the closet, admiring the smooth silk and the rose motifs. The billowy skirt fell down to the ground, almost covering Mai's feet, and Mai couldn't help but to think that it would be exceedingly easy to conceal a weapon underneath it. The bodice was a snowy white, featuring a wide black sash and a large silk rose, velvet ribbons creating the effect of leaves. The white gradually darkened into gray and then black as one traveled from bodice to hem, bright red accents that resembled rose petals splayed out across the bottom half of the skirt.

Mai sat down again at the vanity and prepared to work magic with her hair. With a veritable arsenal of bobby pins, hair gel, and combs spread out on the vanity in front of her, Mai eventually managed to tease her hair into a half-up, half-down hairstyle. She curled the ends of the tendrils of hair that hung against her back just so, examining her handiwork in the mirror. Satisfied with her hair, Mai retrieved her wooden jewelry box decorated with intricate carvings of koi fish and lotus flowers and pagodas, opening it and assessing her collection of hairpins, earrings, bracelets, rings, and necklaces with a critical eye. A particular set of hairpins with bright red glass beads hanging from a butterfly caught her attention, and Mai picked two of them up. She examined the ends, which were wickedly sharp, albeit extremely tiny, blades of sorts. Mai nodded idly to herself-they would do-and arranged them in her hair on the back of her head, crossing them in a manner that reminded Mai of hairstyles that featured two chopsticks in the bun.

After ensuring that no parts of the bladed ends were visible, Mai moved on to make-up, putting away her hair products and shoved her jewelry box to the side for the time being. She went through the motions of rubbing foundation across her skin and applying a slight hint of pale pink blush with a practiced ease, her mind on other things. Mai had pored over the reports of the other royalty that her uncle had provided her and listened intently to what Ming Mei said about each and every person that would be in attendance. Zhou had been there too, but he had seemed rather bored.

Mai rolled her eyes when she thought of Zhou; her cousin was much too rash for his own good, but there was something endearing to her about the the prince’s rashness. Not that she would ever tell him that, mind you, and his rashness had gotten him into plenty of trouble in the past.

Mai allowed herself a small grin. Despite all his glaring flaws, Mai had grown quite fond of Zhou. She finished touching up the light blush and carefully applied eyeliner and a pale gray eyeshadow, dusting her eyelids with the soft hue that set off the inky black of her hair. Then came the lipstick, which had always been Mai's favorite part about makeup. She went with her usual deep-red color, smiling at her reflection. Perfect.

Just a few more things left to do, she thought idly to herself. She put away her cosmetics and picked up the jewelry box again. A collar-like necklace of rubies, set in gold, went around her neck. She settled on ruby studs for her ears, to match the necklace. Mai pulled on a pair of evening gloves, the black satin gleaming in the soft glow of the electric lights in her room. A tiny dagger-the size of a nail file-went into her bodice. To top off the entire ensemble, Mai slipped into a pair of spiky black high heels that added a few inches to her height, making her almost freakishly tall. That was alright, though: she could deal with being extremely tall if it meant that she had an extra pair of weapons, so to speak.

Mai knew that having weapons on her was not something that she should be doing. But old habits die hard, and you would have to be a fool to go around weaponless in court back in Liang. It wasn't like she was planning on using any of them anyway; they served more as a reassurance than anything else. And if somebody happened to discover them-well, considering where her daggers were placed, they'd have a hard time justifying why they'd been looking there in the first place.

Mai stepped out of her room, taking a deep breath. Now that she was dressed, Mai felt a good deal better. Her heels click-clacked against the fine mahogany floor of the hotel room. One of her uncle's advisers-Liu-rose to meet her. "You look beautiful, as always," he said politely when he laid eyes on her.

"Thank you," Mai replied.

"Are you ready to go?" Liu asked.

Mai nodded. They set on their way.

As they made their way to the ballroom, Mai began thinking about the other people who would be there, as well as the prince that she was betrothed to. Mai and Liu said nothing to each other. What needed to be said had already been said many, many times. However, it was not an awkward silence that the two lapsed into, but a companionable one. If Ming Mei was like Mai's father, then Liu was like her uncle. It was Liu who had marshaled mass support for her uncle when he was trying to restore the dynastic rule, it was Liu who had risked everything for them in opposing the socialists, and it was Liu who her uncle had first contacted when he came out of isolation. Mai glanced at the austere man-with his salt-and-pepper hair, severe expression, and rigid posture, one would never have guessed that he had a warmer side to him. Mai considered it a great honor that she was privy to this warm side.

As they walked, Mai mentally went through everything she knew about the other royalty. First and foremost, there would be her betrothed, the prince of what some would argue was the most militarized nation in the world. Mai wasn't so sure about that part; she hadn't exactly had a great experience with soldiers or their commanding officers in the past, to put it lightly. Liu must have seen something in Mai's eyes, because he gave her a reassuring look. "You're going to be alright," he said. "Your uncle would not have betrothed you to somebody that he didn't approve of." Mai nodded, her face expressionless. Whether or not her uncle approved of Prince Leonard was not the question. It was the question of whether or not Prince Leon's kingdom could help Liang, if a marriage to him would help her people. And, of course, the answer was yes.

The Aciran ballroom was lovely. Crystal chandeliers glimmered up above, the gilt accents of the massive room sparkling in the light. The herald announced Mai's arrival, and she strode forward to greet the hosts, the king and queen of Aciras. Princess Ayleanna (whom everyone referred to as "Princess Lea") was there as well. Mai had read and heard many interesting things about the Aciran crown princess, from her commitment to the environment to her unhealthy obsession with social media and her love of fashion and haute couture. Mai smiled internally. She and Prince Alejandro probably got along swellingly.

Mai shook hands with Queen Cecilia, King Landon, and Princess Lea. The other princess flashed her a broad, genuine smile. "Oh wow, Princess Mai, I absolutely adore your gown," Lea gushed. "You look so lovely tonight."

Mai allowed a small but sincere smile to slip onto her face. "You flatter me, Princess Lea," she murmured softly. "But I must say, your gown is very beautiful as well."

Lea's sparkling eyes lit up, and she gave Mai another wide grin as Mai plunged into the crowd that had started to form inside the ballroom. She swept her gaze around the room, taking in the scene. Her betrothed had not arrived yet, but Princess Rhiannon of Wales was standing near the entrance, absolutely stunning in her gown. Princess Genevieve Anders of Maris-a small, isolated, and frankly, rather insignificant nation (at least, from the perspective of the Liangii. There was not much they could do with a tiny kingdom in the far north, in terms of trade or alliances)-was also already present, and Mai just had to take a moment to admire her hairstyle; it was quite pretty. The two sisters from Notia were there, together; Talya, the older one, in a pretty white dress with a lacy bodice, and Ivelynne, the younger one, wearing blue.

Wasn't their brother killed a year or two ago? Mai thought idly, pushing a strand of hair behind her ear. Hmm.

Finally, there was the diminutive Princess Liviana Viriatus, accompanied by her niece, Princess Domitia. Mai admired Liviana's gown, for a moment, before-

-wait. What was Domitia wearing?

Well, I must say that I am impressed by her boldness, Mai mused to herself. I certainly would not have been gutsy enough to wear a...a suit of armor to a ball. Heavens above. How did she ever get away with that, if what I have heard about the Lusitanians is true?

In any case, she needed something to do as she waited for Prince Leon to show up. She accepted a glass of champagne from one of the members of the staff, taking a few dainty sips as her gaze swept over the ballroom once again. Her eyes were drawn in Princess Genvieve's direction. The blues and whites and greys of her gown were a stark contrast to the mulberry lipstick she wore. Deciding that out of all the people in the room, she knew the least about the red-haired princess of Maris, Mai wandered over to her, giving her a warm smile.

"Princess Genevieve, is it?" she asked, pleasantly. "Pardon me for being forward, but I simply adore your gown. As well as the lipstick. It is absolutely gorgeous."

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Garden Gnome
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Garden Gnome Not made in IKEA

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Hye-ri was preparing to get ready for the party, just as her parents and the rest of the palace staff that was to be coming along with them. There was still some time she could afford to kill before she had to get dressed, so she thought it an opportune time to fool around and take one last selfie before she was glad in the traditional garb, and her hair all done up in a similar traditional way.

She was already starting to get envious of all the other princesses that would be attending the event here in Aciras. They would all be dressed in beautiful western gowns, and she'd even picked one out that she'd loved very much, but her mother had gotten wind of it and her it removed from her wardrobe and had forbidden her from wearing it for this event. Tradition was one of the key traits and values in the Kingdom of Haneul and in all formal events, they would all be clad in traditional garb, not just her but her parents as well.

"It's time to get dressed now, your highness. We haven't have got much time left!" Her lady-in-waiting, Ji-ah urged. It was true they were running out of time, and the both of them did not want to rise the ire of the queen's wrath again once more. Once had been enough. And so, Hye-ri found herself clad in a purple and pink traditional Haneul robe that was worn by all ladies back in the olden days. Her hair was pulled back into a simple braided ponytail and yet another traditional head ornament rested on her head. She left out a huge sigh.

At least the rooms they had been provided to stay in here at the Aciran palace was really nice. The design was hugely different from what she was used to and it was indeed refreshing change for her. She'd always like seeing new things, especially when it came to other nations and their culture. Her footwear was equally simple and traditional, a pair of hand-sewn embroidered cotton slippers with soft leather insoles that made it comfortable to wear for long durations. Light makeup was added to complete her look, and she was now ready to make her entrance. "We're now ready your highness. Let us make our way before the queen comes looking for us."

Hye-ri entered the ballroom and was awe-struck by the name of people there dressed to their nines. She felt wholly inadequate compared to most of the princess elaborate gowns. As if sensing what her princess was feeling, Ji-ah mentioned to her. "Remember, Tradition is key in Haneul." Letting out yet another quiet sigh, she made her way over to Princess Ayleanna to give her greetings to the fellow princess and give her the thanks for the invitation of the event. "Greetings Princess Lea, you look beautiful, and I love your dress so much." A slight accent was noticeable in her speech, but it definitely less pronounced when compared to her parents.

Hidden 3 mos ago Post by lady horatio
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Genevieve had hoped for a minute to talk with Princess Lea, but quickly realized that would not be the case—the Aciran court was many times larger than the Marisian one, the receiving line more like a fast-moving river than an ambling stream. So she allowed herself to be bumped along, hoping Lea had at least recognized her attempt to bond over style before the next person chimed in.

Genevieve drifted forward, feeling strange with Christopher just out of view but hovering behind her—and feeling stranger without a particular destination in mind, no corner to duck into or group to join. She took a glass from a passing tray simply to give her hands something to do and occupied herself with skimming the growing crowd, in the unlikely hope of finding a familiar face. She might have settled for one that simply looked friendly.

Before she could decide who to approach (with a compliment about their attire to break the ice), someone beat her to the punch. She turned toward a voice she didn’t recognize—and a face she did, from all of her careful pre-trip research.

Princess Mai Mei. Daughter of a war-torn country. Cousin to the crown prince who would, as it happened, marry Princess Lea in a few short months. A young woman who dazzled in every interview, who always seemed to know exactly what to say and had never created even a whisper of scandal. She and Genevieve would almost have been of a height, if not for the considerably higher heels Mai wore. And while Genevieve felt a sweep of ready admiration for the older girl’s lush dress and flawless makeup, the first thing to sink into her gut was a cold twinge of discomfort, almost embarrassment.

Though not a bit of it showed in her pretty face and perfect bearing, Mai Mei had seen more horror in her lifetime than Genevieve could imagine. Maris had simply cut itself off from its original host country, the way some people cut toxic family members out of their lives—painful, but otherwise a mostly clean break.

Liang had torn itself apart from the inside.

That’s not something you can help, Gen told herself, not for the first time.

“Princess Mai?” she said, and despite the lilt to her tone—part question, part a natural rhythm to the Marisian accent—she had no doubt of who she was speaking to. “There’s no pardon necessary; I’m honestly flattered that you recognized me.”

At Mai's compliment, Genevieve inclined her head in thanks, lips curving into the smile that almost came second-nature to her: the one that took up the majority of her Twitter icon, that could sometimes be glimpsed beneath the brim of a downturned sun hat or beneath the shadow of ginger bangs. Playful without mocking; coy without teasing.

Outside of practicing in her mirror, she had no idea how it translated to real life—where one could not reshoot the moment as many times as needed—but Mai’s warmth made her comfortable enough to reciprocate a bit. “Thank you. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who went a bit bold. And as for your dress…” Genevieve shook her head in honest and open admiration. “It’s easy to see why they call you the ‘Rose of Liang.’” Again, a twitch of the lips as she acknowledged the petals that drifted across Mai’s skirt. “With a name like that, it would be a shame not to lean into it.”
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by madmonarchist


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Erik von Rothschild of the Empire of Veredun

Literally, any time Erik was away from Veredun, he was happy. To be fair, he loved his homeland. He really did. It was diverse, beautiful, had great food and was filled with some of the most interesting people he'd ever met in his life. What he didn't enjoy about his homeland was his family. His grandmother hated him and to be fair, he didn't really feel too much of familial affection towards her either. He was fairly certain that at least half (maybe more) of his extended family were essentially either psychopaths, sociopaths and everything in between. He could tolerate his siblings, but he tried his best to limit his interactions with his older siblings to an obligatory phone call every few weeks. The only members of his family Erik truly did enjoy spending time with were his brother, Ferdinand; sister, Juliet; and his niece, Helene. He genuinely did not like to be around any other member of his family. And to be fair, nor did they like to be around him. And he was fine with that: live and let live. That was his life's motto.

Of course, that didn't quite fly with any member of the nobility in Veredun: higher and lower. And especially not now. Erik could only imagine what his grandmother would do to him if he ever dared to say those words to her.

Well, actually he knew. Chances were that he'd mostly end up like his parents and brother-unofficially assassinated, he thought to himself. But that was far too morbid of a topic to think of right now. He had constant reminders of that in Veredun. And now that he was in Aciras, he intended to fully enjoy himself.

And on that note, Erik turned his attention back to his reflection in the mirror before him. He was dressed in all black. From head to toe. Black tuxedo blazer and pants, a pair of black oxfords and a light black, turtleneck sweater. Had this been one of his brothers or relatives, a much more formal attire would be donned for this event. But to Erik, this was formal enough. Wearing the formal Veredunian military outfit would be far too much for this event (for Erik anyway). Not to mention, it would be exceedingly uncomfortable. Not that it would matter at all if this was Veredun, Erik thought to himself dryly. God, being away from his relatives was so refreshing. That was also the reason as to why Erik insisted on not bringing anyone from Veredun with him- no attendant, no one. This was his time alone, and he was going to cherish it for whatever it was worth.

Besides, he a few medals of honor pinned to his blazer, the important ones anyway. It was formal enough, Erik thought to himself decisively before leaving the room.

As Erik walked down the gilded hallways of the palace, he mentally took a note of how many people he already knew here. As a rule of thumb, Erik preferred to stay away from all those of royal standing. This was simply because his friendships never did remain as friendships when noble rank was involved. There was always something more- Veredunian foreign policy and interests somehow seemed to interfere. 9 out of 10 times, this ruined almost all chances of an actual relationship for him. Which his why, he much preferred to socialize with those without noble rankings and titles. It just made things so much easier, Erik thought to himself. But despite having said that, Erik was genuinely surprised as to how many people he did know here. From what he could tell so far, his fiance Talya was already here, as was Genevieve and Hyeri. He'd run into them at some point yesterday, but had only time to meet them in passing. Other than that, he'd heard from Yelena that Vera was going to be here. He knew 4 members of foreign royalty already, and for Erik that was too many already.

But either ways, he was looking forward to seeing them again. After all, it had been far too long in some cases.

And with that, Erik entered the Aciran ballroom, standing in the receiving line behind other royals from across the world. Almost every woman he looked at had an extravagant gown and was draped in jewels, and Princess Ayleanna was no exception. Pink and glittery, she seemed to embody the vibrancy of her gown as she greeted her guests.

When the herald pronounced Erik's arrival,like any other royal guest, he bowed lightly to greet the Acirian Princess and her parents.

"Princess Ayleanna," Erik began. "Greetings, it is an honor to be invited. I thank you on the Empire of Veredun's behalf for inviting me," Erik continued, flashing the princess and her parents an appropriately pleasant smile with a curt nodd.

"I look forward to getting to know you and your kingdom in the period of my duration at Aciras," he added with another polite smile before stepping into the ballroom.

As he walked away, Erik managed to flash Talya and Hyrei brief, friendly smiles each. Both were engaged in conversations with Princess Ayleanna that he hadn't wanted to disturb. Instead, Erik went straight for the champagne flute, picking it up from the tray of a passing member of the Acirian staff.

Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by polyatomicbeing
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*italicized dialogue is spoken in a language other than English.*
mentions: @Eric Horst

"Wake up! Wake up already! You've slept through every single one of your alarms!"

Days without an irritating voice urgently pleading with the young noble to wake up as though he would suffer horrifying consequences if he didn't, were scarce and considered a blessing. Unfortunately, this particular morning was not uncommon in the slightest. It was, in fact, one out of the thousands that began with his ever-so-gentle servant, shaking Yu Liang's shoulders with the most precisely calculated amount of violence needed to rouse the boy from his deep slumber.

"Let me be, Nianzu", mumbled the boy. He buried his head into his pillow, hair splayed across the grey cover in a messy array of blond, tangled strands that would surely take a good twenty minutes' worth of brushing (hence why he should really move). The combination of a hoarse morning throat along with his general tendency to mispronounce words (even in his native language), meant his words were likely lost on the man. Yet, it seemed the retainer actually did understand his muffled words- Yu Liang was pleasantly surprised when he could no longer sense his presence by the bed.

His feeling of contentment was sadly short-lived when he realized there was now silence, save for the sound of what sounded like ... running water. "Nianzu?", he called out, slightly wary. His suspicions were confirmed when he heard footsteps approaching his bed. Said person spoke again, a thinly veiled threat underneath his otherwise cheeriness this time.

"With my left hand, I hold a glass filled with the purest water collected from the highest of mountaintops as well as five, sparkling ice cubes", Nianzu paused. Yu Liang could practically feel the raven-haired man staring him down as he tried, in vain, to ignore his friend by sinking into his blankets. "And with my right, I will not hesitate to spill everything on those who refuse to listen."

At this, Yu Liang had no choice but to sneak a glance at the man's face to assess the gravity of the situation. Met with the sight confirming that Nianzu did, indeed, have a cup of water looming over his head, the boy heaved a sigh of resignation that dissolved into a series of yawns.

"Do you know how much of a pleasure it is, to see your face as soon as I open my eyes?", Yu Liang asked, eyebrows furrowing as he squinted up at the figure. His twitching lips betraying him when he attempted feigning exasperation, he gave way to a tired albeit fond smile, rubbing the sleep away from his eyes. Sitting up at last, he stretched his body, stiff from sleep.

"Yes, I am very well aware. Now, please, I beg of you. Will you hurry?", Nianzu replied with a pained expression on his face.

After rolling his shoulders, twisting to the right then to the left, and reaching upwards with his arms behind his head (all while taking his time), Yu Liang stood up and allowed the valet to usher him out his bedroom and through the grand, mahogany doors leading to what boasted the treasures acquired from several hours spent roaming the streets of Weifeng: his walk-in closet.

Two sizable suitcases sat in the corner holding, at most, two weeks' worth of clothes. The bag stored basic essentials. Strange, considering the lengthy amount of time the prince would be staying in a kingdom overseas, but the attendants had long established a routine that surprisingly worked out well for both their lord and themselves.

Upon noticing what had captured his attention, Nianzu smiled wryly. "Need I remind you of what happened five years ago, young master?" 

Turning to the man with a scandalized raise of his eyebrows, Yu Liang exclaimed, "Must you always bring that up? Haven't I apologized enough?" He'd had no intentions of making his attendant work tirelessly for him, but somehow, even as he tried to lessen the man's load, he'd ended up carrying all of the prince's newly purchased items as well as caring for a fifty-pound puppy and two fussy kittens.

"Fair enough. Looking after them wasn't much different from what my job normally entails me to do, anyways."

Wisely choosing not to justify the last remark with a response, Yu Liang slipped out of his sleeping clothes and into the casual street dress his tailor had handed him. If it wasn't deemed inappropriate for a noble to be seen in public wearing pajamas, Yu Liang wouldn't have bothered getting dressed. After all, he would be changing once he had reached his destination on the plane anyways.

Giving himself a quick glance at the mirror, he nodded, satisfied, before walking over to the vanity area where a woman sat with her eyes lowered, patiently waiting for him to finish dressing. Once seated, she began gently brushing through the knots of his hair and patting his face with a thin powder. Although he disliked the feeling of having his face covered with unidentifiable substances, his mother had implored him to be on time and look presentable. The former, he was sure would not happen. The latter, he had actually been offended by- he thought he took care of his appearance fairly well. To each their own.

Two hours passed before Yu Liang found himself seated on a plane, preparing for a flight from one side of the world to the other.

As he absentmindedly stared at the screen of the television in front of him, barely registering the general gist of the characters' interaction and not entirely sure which character each name belonged to, Yu Liang thought back to when he had first heard of Princess Ayleanna's engagement.

Weddings weren't out of the ordinary--in fact, it seemed that most royals his age were already married or engaged. He himself had never shown much interest in relationships, so Yu Liang had always felt a strange sense of anxiety whenever the thought of marriage crossed his mind. His sisters had already done their part, marrying strategically so Weifeng would benefit as much as possible. Meanwhile, he'd remained completely single for most of his life despite gossip columns constantly releasing new articles detailing the latest updates on his relationship with a mysterious lover he'd supposedly been hiding from the public. When a wedding invitation with his name on it arrived in the mail, Yu Liang had been surprised. Though he'd long heard of Princess Ayleanna's engagement to Prince Zhou Mei, he hadn't expected to be invited and halfheartedly thought about pretending that he never received the news, but alas, he knew it would disappoint Emperor Guiren if he did not at least do this much for the kingdom.

By the time Yu Liang arrived in Aciras, he had changed into a black blazer patterned with gold flowers over a white collared shirt, solid black trousers, and black dress shoes. Rather than the traditional bowtie or long tie, Yu Liang had opted for a more delicate silk ribbon tie. Once his feet were finally on solid ground after the plane landed, Yu Liang followed Nianzu to a relatively deserted area, where a man dressed in a pinstriped suit stepped out of a rather luxurious-looking vehicle. Typically, getting into the car of a man he'd never seen until then would've been cause for concern, but everything had already been arranged beforehand, including a thorough background check on the man who would be their ride to the castle.

At the entrance, he'd been halted by two guards who let him pass after verifying his identity. Several, if not all, of the guests were already mingling, it seemed. Yu Liang spotted several faces he recognized as well as those who were a bit blurry in his memory. True to his prediction, he was one of the last ones to arrive.

Walking up to the rulers of Aciras, he bowed deeply and greeted them. "Good afternoon. I am the son of Emperor Guiren. I'm so incredibly honored to finally meet the esteemed King and Queen of Aciras. And to Princess Ayleanna, I extend my congratulations." Yu Liang bowed once more, thanking them for the invitation, before continuing on. Nearby stood a man with brightly colored orange-red hair who had been in the middle of making a declaration of anger and, before Yu Liang could even think to warn him, had knocked over the large painting that'd been hanging above him, causing it to drop onto his head. Turning his head away to hide a quiet chuckle, Yu Liang was about to leave and pretend he hadn't seen the incident lest the man be embarrassed there had been someone to witness his mistake when he heard a voice behind him.

"Your parents have spoken to you about this.", Nianzu sighed from behind him.

The younger of the two yelped. The last he'd seen the man, he was making a phone call. "Where did you come from?"

"Go.", Nianzu ordered, nudging his charge in the general direction of the other man. "You should socialize more. Besides, he looks like he could use some help."

Yu Liang sighed, but complied nonetheless. Arranging his facial features into what he deemed looked friendliest, he approached the prince with Nianzu in tow. Upon coming closer to the prince, Yu Liang realized his companion was, as always, right. While the red-haired prince had, at a glance, looked like he'd simply chosen to remain standing in that particular spot with the painting dangerously close to his head, it seemed he was actually stuck. Standing a bit to the side, Yu Liang watched Nianzu lift the painting with ease and lower it to the floor, letting the painting lean against the wall. After bowing to the other prince, Nianzu turned to Yu Liang and tilted his head subtly towards the red-haired man with a look that clearly said, "There. Now talk."

With a potential painting fiasco successfully prevented, Yu Liang introduced himself.

"Good afternoon. Prince Elijah, was it? I'm Yu Liang, from Weifeng. Sorry to intrude, but you looked like you were in quite the predicament. Are you alright? That seemed painful." Giving the other prince a curious look, Yu Liang smiled before adding, "I hope you don't mind me asking, but what vengeance, exactly, were you hoping to get from smacking the painting?"
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by murdoc
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ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴀᴄᴛɪɴɢ ᴡɪᴛʜ: ᴀʏʟᴇᴀɴɴᴀ @ayzrules, ᴊᴏʜɴᴀᴛʜᴀɴ @shylarah

Growing up, his father often said that he was he was a monster wearing a boy’s skin — a changeling.

But when it came to his youngest, the King of Argenyonne did always have a flair for the dramatic.

As a child, Dirk would often hear his father mutter disparaging remarks about him under his breath, saying things about how much he took after his mother, about how having him was a mistake. At first, the young prince was perplexed. How could a person be a mistake? And didn’t all fathers love their children? Dirk knew the man was capable of warmth. After all, he saw how happy the King looked whenever he was around Prince Moritz, Nicolas, Julius, and Princess Claudia. None of that kindness, however, ever extended to him. Rather than treating him like a son, King Andreas only saw Dirk as an inconvenience.

Even so, Dirk would often try to impress the King, to show him that he was just as worthy of love as the rest of his siblings. But it seemed that matter what he did, it was never good enough — he was never good enough. And every little mistake he made was magnified tenfold under the scrutiny of his father. But as the years passed, Dirk’s desperation to please turned into apathy. If the King was content to act as if he didn’t exist, then there was no point in keeping up the charade, was there?

And so, the already precocious Dirk became a hellraiser. Gone were the days of stiff-collared shirts and delicate ballads on his favourite pianoforte. Instead, what replaced them were guitar solos loud enough to thunder through the entirety of Tjällhofte Castle’s residential wing, and all the way up to the heavens. Dirk also became known for his outrageous disregard for the standard dressing conventions of Argenyonne. Over the course of a year, he allowed his hair to grow long, far longer than a proper gentleman’s had any business being. Much like his mother, he had thick, dark hair that began to curl past a certain length.

It was also around this time that Dirk began to cultivate his own style of dress. He’d always hated the shirts, vests, and jackets he’d been made to wear — all of them in grey, white, or navy. Imagine that! An entire closet full of the same, boring thing, and it was a very large closet indeed.

Now, much of it has been usurped by pieces that were a little more… unorthodox. It’s no secret that the youngest Prince of Argenyonne had a soft spot for anything silken, embroidered, or both at the same time.

Which was why Dirk found himself rather puzzled by the expression his valet was making. Was it confusion? No, perhaps mortification would be a better word to describe the goggling, slack-jawed look that the man’s face appeared to be frozen in.

“Your Highness…! I beg your understanding, but you simply cannot wear that to the ball!”

“Why? What’s wrong with it?” Dirk asks simply, without looking away from his reflection in the mirror.

The young prince was clad in a loose, silk shirt of pearlescent white, unbuttoned just enough to show off his collarbone, and the thin, silver chain hanging around his neck. The front of the shirt was casually half-tucked waistband of his trousers, which was a gift from one of the most sought-after designers of Argenyonne (who also happened to be a relative on his mother’s side). Made from the finest Borsian cotton, it was dyed a pale, dusty pink, and cut off right above the ankles.

Over his shoulders was a billowing, grey greatcoat, cut from lighter material than your usual fare; and as Dirk does a spin in front of the mirror, the layers of chiffon on the hem flutters in the breeze. The coat is just a little too big for him – he has to keep shrugging his shoulders to keep it from slipping – but the entire ensemble seemed to give him the appearance of a rakish boulevardier, or perhaps a pirate that was exceptionally fashionable. His feet, however, were still bare. No point stomping about in his boots when he hasn’t even decided what to wear yet, right?

“It’s a little…” The valet’s voice trails off, hands anxiously clasping and unclasping as he frets over how to speak without offending. In the end, he settles for a suggestion, rather than criticism. “Why don’t we try something a little more conventional?”

At the mere mention of conventional, Dirk almost seems offended. Deciding to take a break from preening in the mirror, he pads towards his valet, steps rendered soundless by the plush carpet.

“Klaus,” he begins, voice tinged with the stern, somber gravity that his father often spoke with. It was a useful skill to have when it came to dealing with household staff. “You must know the importance of making a strong first impression.”

“Well, yes but—”

“I know, I know. It wouldn’t do to have a prince making a fool himself in front of hundreds, would it?” Once, twice, Dirk nods in understanding. Then, he all but dances away, swinging open the door to the walk-in closet, and spins around to face his valet once again. “But these are just clothes, man. Worst case scenario: they’ll be talking about how Prince Diederik dresses like a charlatan who swindles poor, innocent heiresses out of their inheritance.”

For a moment, Klaus is speechless, but that was sort of the norm for him. It was then that Dirk seized his change to fling a linen cloak over Klaus’ head, which earns him yet another strangled ‘Your Highness!’ from the valet as he struggled to free himself. Dirk just laughs, grabs his favorite pair of boots, and starts pulling them on.

“Lighten up, Klaus. No time to waste!”

The trip to the ballroom is uneventful. After all, there wasn’t much mischief he could get up to flanked by not one, not two, but four bodyguards. All of them were dressed in identical black suits, and really, they had to weigh at least a ton between them. Once or twice, Dirk had tried to make them laugh by cracking a joke about how they all looked exactly the same, but he might as well have been talking to a brick wall.

It’s a welcome relief when they made it to their destination, mostly because of how three of his bodyguards – along with Klaus – were made to remain outside. Dirk would’ve gladly flung himself from the third-floor balcony if he had them following him around all day. Still, he’s a little caught off guard when the herald announced his arrival. Was he supposed to bow, curtsey, do a little dance? Due to Dirk being fifth in line to inherit the throne, his teachers had been exceptionally lax when it came to lessons on etiquette. And right now, as he was being put on the spot, he almost regretted not paying more attention to their teachings

But at the sight of Princess Ayleanna, instinct takes over, and Dirk sinks into a bow that was only slightly off-balance. There’s a radiant smile on his face when he straightens once again, reaching up to push a few stray locks out of his face. The beaded bracelets around his wrists made a jangling sort of noise whenever he gestured.

“It’s great to be here, Princess. You look dazzling this afternoon.” Dirk’s accent is a strange mixture of Argenweise, Borsian, and a touch of something else that was difficult to place. Aciran, maybe? He has, after all, picked up most of the local dialect from watching Aciran-produced movies. Dirk couldn’t help but feel that the subjects they broached were often more practical than things like: I would like to know where the nearest zoo is.

With another, better-practiced bow, he takes his leave of Princess Lea. It’s an easy matter to lose his bodyguard in the crowd, ducking and weaving like he does; and eventually, Dirk finds himself standing next to someone with real, honest-to-goodness blue hair. For a second or two, he mentally rifles through the names and faces he’d been made to memorise before he came here, though his efforts soon come to naught. Whoever this was, they weren’t royalty, and that was perfect by him.

“Mind if I have one?” Dirk asks, and plucks a glass of champagne from the tray the man was holding. He eyes him curiously, head tilting to the side like an inquisitive cat, before the corners of his mouth quirk up in the beginnings of a smile. “I like your hair. It’s sick.”

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by shylarah
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shylarah the crazy one

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> S P A R K S , A C I R A S I T
status: gotta have blue hair!

> > Some royalty had interesting fashion sense. The first several were pretty standard, but then came a fellow in a full suit of plate mail, and it took all John's control not to chuckle. The herald had named them Princesses Liviana and Domitia, and from the staff briefing he was pretty sure Liviana was the one in the blue dress, so that meant Domitia was the one in the armor. Even though he was amused, he was also impressed. An outfit like that, it took guts.

Another princess favored all black, which was daring but in a very standard sort of way. The loud prince not long after had Sparks hiding a wince. Mentally, he took bets over whether the lad would end up confronting him over some detail of palace IT. He sincerely hoped not.

The Liangii contigent sent quiet ripples through the room -- after all, Princess Ayleanna would be marrying into that nation's government. The Haneul group sent ripples of a different sort, and their princess looked like a cotton-candy confection in pink and purple. Traditional dress was fine, but the colors were a bit much, in John's opinion. Still, she wore them well.

A handsome fellow -- John was pretty sure he was the Veredunian prince -- grabbed a flute of champagne off his tray without comment. Several people had, actually, but the prince was a particularly fine specimen of humanity and worth notice. Hos outfit was nothing special, a suit and some medals that were probably Very Important, but damn the man was hot.

And then the Argenyonni prince, in pants that matched Princess Ayleanna's dress, was...asking his permission for a drink? No, no, just being polite. "Of course, your highness," John replied smoothly, subtly adjusting the height of his tray for maximum convenience. He expected that would be the end of their exchange, but instead the prince lingered, looking him over with interest.

The commentary on his hair brought a wide grin to John's face, even though he wasn't really supposed to be interacting with the guests. "Thank you~ Gotta say, you look dashing yourself." Keep it simple, man -- this isn't the time or the place to be socializing. Even if his accent is hot. And isn't he in a band, or was that one of his siblings?
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by ayzrules
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At Princess Genvieve's comment, Mai let out a light, tinkling laugh. "Oh, but of course," she said warmly, letting her eyes linger on Genevieve's lipstick. "It is not often that I find someone who appreciates lipstick as much as I do." And then it was Mai's turn to incline her head as Genevieve complimented her gown.

"You are much too kind, Princess Genevieve," Mai murmured, smiling at the other princess. "And, well..." Mai trailed off in the middle of her response to Genevieve's comment regarding her nickname, laughing softly. "Yes. I certainly have no reason to object to it, no?" She flashed her a mischievous grin.

Mai's gaze flitted discreetly across the room, making note of some new arrivals, as well as some princes and princesses that she'd missed the first time around. Princess Alexandra Bonnisseau of Castellevé was dressed in a sleek black suit-Mai found the look to be quite stylish, even if she did not particularly care for how...childish Princess Alexandra came off as-while Hye-ri, who Mai had met on a couple occasions in the past, was in the traditional dress of Haneul. Erik von Rothschild of Veredun had a few medals pinned to his black blazer, and although she tried to ignore it, her stomach twisted at the sight of them. Her eyes quickly flicked to Prince Diederik Isidor of Argenyonne, dressed in a rather carefree, cavalier manner, chatting with a member of the palace staff with blue hair. Mai thought that Zhou might have liked the dark-haired prince. Neither of them were particularly...conventional, one might say.

Mai stifled a giggle as she contemplated her cousin and Prince Diederik next to each other. She would have paid to see Zhou in pink pants, honestly.

Finally, she noticed Prince Elijah Rothchester of the Ivunate Empire, dressed in a black trench coat. He was talking to Prince Yu Liang, from Weifeng, whose platinum blond hair raised eyebrows no matter where he went. Mai thought that although it was a rather unusual look, Yu made it work very well.

She re-directed her attention to the red-haired princess of Maris, a slight smile playing at her lips. "How are you enjoying Aciras so far? I must admit, this is my first time in the kingdom. It is quite different from what I am used to, though that is certainly not a bad thing." She laughed, a tad sheepishly. "I will freely admit that the food took me a little bit of time to get used to, although the palace chefs seem to be nothing short of geniuses, of course. And our hosts seem to have a wonderful taste in foods of all kind...especially desserts. Princess Lea does love her desserts, or so I am told," Mai continued, grinning as she gestured vaguely in the direction of the tables lining the walls-which were, for the most part, filled with pastries and chocolates and sweets of all different shapes and sizes (complete with fancy labels detailing the ingredients and whether or not they were vegan or not).

Mai turned back to Genevieve. "The weather here is not too much different from my home in Liang, though I imagine that this may not be the case for the others. Is it very different from Maris?"

Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Prince Alejandro Aguila de Agustin making his grand entrance with all his usual flair, and she resisted the urge to roll her eyes good-naturedly. The blond Castilyan prince was truly something else.

(Interacting with @lady horatio)
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Prince Alejandro Álvaro Aguíla de Agustín of the Kingdom of Castilya was perfectly aware of how long his name was, thank you very much. Yet his best friend and most valuable source of gossip (as well as one of the most promising reconnaissance officers in the Castilyan military), Vhalery de Mirabel, insisted on reminding him of this fact every single day.

"Mirry, my darling, deadly pearl, you simply must lay the matter to rest," he said to her. Most people could not fathom calling Vhalery de Mirabel a "darling pearl", for she was quite possibly the most accomplished operative that had served the Castilyan military so far-and very, very deadly indeed. However, nothing was 'unfathomable' to Alejandro, save for perhaps a leopard-print miniskirt (those were old-fashioned by 2010, for heaven's sake) or wearing white at a wedding one was merely a guest to (a huge no-no).

Vhalery gave a noncommittal shrug. "I am merely suggesting that it will be a mouthful to say, when you are introducing yourself to the other royalty in attendance," she answered, arching an eyebrow.

Alejandro sighed dramatically. "Well, Mirry, consider this: since when has that stopped me?" he asked in a lightly teasing tone.

Vhalery shrugged again, as if she were saying there's no helping you at this point. Alejandro grinned widely and continued filing his nails. Alejandro was going to be late, of course, but he was going to be fashionably late, and there was quite a world of difference in between that and just plain late, thank you very much. "I am so looking forward to the ball tonight. Perhaps you would be amenable to refresh my memory on who shall be in attendance, my dearest jewel?"

Vhalery scowled. "You insufferable piece of shit," she answered him. Both she and Alejandro knew full well that Alejandro knew exactly who would be at the Aciran ball.

Alejandro's eyes twinkled with mischief. "Mmm, indeed, but you love me for that, don't you, my dearest Mirry?" Vhalery did not deign to respond to that. Just imagine it-Vhalery de Mirabel, a woman who could kill a man in ten different ways with her bare hands, being called the flowery bullshit that Alejandro called her? Any person with a modicum of common sense would see how, well, contradictory of an image that was. Alejandro, being Alejandro, thought nothing of it. He inspected his nails. "Princess Lea will be there, mm? I've met her before. She has such a brilliant taste in fashion. Prince Elias too, mm. He and I are...acquainted. As you are aware of. And Mai Mei of Liang, yes, my dear?"

Vhalery rolled her eyes skywards. "Yes, my prince, Princess Mai Mei of Liang, soon to be Queen Mai Ford of Krieg-Konigreich, 'Mai' spelled m-a-i, 'Mei' spelled m-e-i, Liang being the large country located in the eastern part of the world. Do you understand my meaning?"

Alejandro grinned. "Splendid, absolutely splendid!" he exclaimed. "I do recall that she and her cousin visited a few years ago, with her uncle. That beautiful weapon of a woman, hmm?" he thought out loud in a slightly more serious tone of voice. "If I recall, she was quite charming, and her cousin, oh-what a headache he was to my poor, dearest brother. Though I look forward to the wedding. Princess Lea is the only person in the world with more energy than Prince Zhou, I would imagine." Alejandro popped a compact mirror open and checked his reflection. His honey-blonde hair fell in waves down a couple inches past his shoulders, though for the welcome ball, it was tied back in a neat little ponytail. Alejandro had left a couple tendrils of hair hanging loosely in front of his face, in the same way that a woman would leave a curl or two out of an updo to frame her features. Alejandro was mightily proud of his hair, in fact. It was soft and silky and shiny, and he'd be damned if there ever were a man who had better hair than he did.

"As for Mai's betrothed...he seems like a military type, Prince Leon, if I am correct. Reminds me too much of my brother. Oh, how awkward they shall look, standing together-can you imagine a drab old military uniform next to Mai's wondrous ball gowns? It's unspeakable, such a thing, simply unspeakable." Vhalery largely ignored Alejandro's rambling. She had learned the hard way that it was the best method to preserving one's sanity when he got into a state like this.

Vhalery rubbed her temples and prayed that this would be over soon. The two began walking towards the ballroom. "Oh, how wonderful...we've arrived, and we are perfectly, fashionably, late!" With that, Alejandro stepped gracefully towards the ornate doors. He wore a rather flashy ensemble of metallic gold brocade, decorated with copious amounts of floral embroidery-simple, but impossible to miss, and perfecting complementing the gold eye-shadow that shimmered over his eyelids (okay, so his parents would have a minor heart attack when they saw the eye-shadow, but Alejandro just could not help himself when it came to make-up). His polished (and heeled!) dress shoes were decorated with sparkly gold hearts, and ruby rings adorned his fingers. A pair of unduly large ruby studs adorned his ears, and strands of rubies glittered around his neck. The added height that his shoes gave him did nothing but emphasize the tight cut of the gold trousers and jacket.

As he approached the herald and the entrance to the ballroom, Alejandro's decidedly unusual manner of dress garnered quite a few looks. Alejandro responded to these looks by flashing people a wide, cheery smile, breezing past them-like he was walking on air-and towards King Landon and Queen Cecilia Lynton, the hosts of this big gathering

Alejandro pranced up to them and made all the proper greetings, albeit in a slightly, er, outrageous manner. He turned to Princess Ayleanna-Lea-and grinned. "Hello, hello, Princess Lea," he sang out, pecking her on both cheeks. He glanced at her gown, and his eyes lit up. "And oh, what an exquisite gown you are wearing tonight, my friend!" he exclaimed. He leaned in closer, giving her a mischievous grin. "Now, pray tell, who are you wearing? I do love that color."

The Aciran princess grinned at him. "People Tree," she said, and Alejandro chuckled. "And how are you, Prince Alejandro? I see that you look as awesome as ever tonight," she replied.

"I couldn't be better, Princess Lea, couldn't be better!" And with an exaggerated flourish, Alejandro sailed away, in search of someone to talk to.

"Tastefully decorated, wouldn't you say?" Alejandro commented as he took in everything-the chandelier, the paintings, the people, the gowns. He skillfully wove his way through the crowd, Vhalery close on his heels, as he searched the room for someone...interesting.

Alejandro's eyes alighted on the familiar profile of Mai Mei. her back was to him; she was conversing with a shy-looking red-haired princess, likely Genevieve Anders of Maris. A flash of amusement flickered across Alejandro's face; both of them had such wonderful tastes in lipstick. They would get along swellingly.

On the other side of the room, Princess Liviana Viriatus of Lusitania was dressed in a dark blue gown, and her long hair was the most beautiful thing he had ever laid eyes on. Beside her was...Domitia, her niece. In a suit of armor.

Well, Domitia and Prince Edwin will make a perfect pair, Alejandro thought wryly to himself. A suit of armor and some undoubtedly ostentatiously traditional Britannian get-up, likely in a bright shade of red. I cannot wait to see it.

Princess Rhia Cadfael of Wales was sporting the most wonderful ensemble, and just a ways from her were the Notian princesses. Alejandro made a mental note to compliment all three of them on their outfits at some point during the ball.

Alejandro's gaze passed over the outspoken princess of Castelleve, the rather belligerent prince of the Ivunate Empire (who was currently talking to the considerably more mellow prince of Weifeing, Yu Liang. Alejandro liked his hair), and there was Princess Hye-ri of Haneul, dressed in pinks and purples. Prince Diederik Isidor was conversing with a blue-haired member of the Aciran palace staff (Alejandro quite liked the Argenyonni prince's outfit, especially the pants)...and ah, there was Prince Erik von Rothschild of the Veredunian Empire, casually sipping champagne. Alejandro took a moment to admire the cut of his sleek black suit from afar. Erik had the reputation of being a partier, and, well, Alejandro loved parties. The two of them were friends, of a sort, and they had definitely spent some time together in the past, after Erik joined his kingdom's navy. Though Alejandro was always quite scandalized by the other prince's inexplicable love of beer.

Alejandro's eyes slid from Vhalery, and then to Erik. He glanced back at his friend's chocolate-brown eyes and tilted his head ever-so-slightly in the direction of the Veredunian prince. Vhalery's eyes shifted imperceptibly, and Alejandro knew that she was rolling her eyes without actually rolling her eyes, if that made any sense at all (he guessed that it didn't to most people, but whatever) in response to Alejandro's unspoken shall we?. A pang stabbed Alejandro in the gut. The way that Vhalery immediately knew what Alejandro was saying, and vice versa...he had shared that with Eduardo, too. Alejandro's features tightened at the thought of Eduardo, and his beautiful hazel eyes, flecked with gold and brown, and his fine, chestnut-colored curls, and his sweet, soft mouth....

No. Alejandro thought ruthlessly, shutting down that line of thinking, mercilessly crushing the longing inside of him. That does not matter right now.

Vhalery, god bless her heart, was as perceptive as usual. She crinkled her brow at him, and Alejandro gave her a little half-smile before prancing off in the direction of Prince Erik. Vhalery didn't follow, instead melting away into the crowd to better observe everything that was going on.

Alejandro's trademark wide grin fell over his face as he glided over to the Veredunian prince. "Well, hello there," he greeted, his eyes twinkling with mirth as they flicked downwards to the delicate champagne flute in Erik's hand. "I see that you are busy keeping yourself, mmm, hydrated," he continued, grinning mischievously. "Though I am quite surprised at your chosen method of hydration." He lowered his voice, leaning in conspiratorially, his voice full of playful mischief. "Disappointed that there is no beer to be found? I am sure that our lovely hostess would be quite willing to accommodate your preferences."

Alejandro withdrew, slightly, taking another moment to admire Erik's outfit. That suit really did, ahem, suit the Veredunian prince. Alejandro found a glass of champagne for himself and took a dainty sip, turning back to Erik. "I trust that your journey to Aciras was pleasant enough?" he asked, examining a painting on the wall in front of him. "It must have been quite long."

(Interacting with @madmonarchist)
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Erik von Rothschild of the Empire of Veredun

Erik continued to sip his champagne, silently watching more notable royals enter. Had any of his brothers or male relatives been here instead of Erik, they would have conducted thorough research on the other royal guests at the ball and would have probably used the opportunity to conduct diplomacy between Veredun and other kingdoms. But Erik wasn't as politically invested as they were. Arguably, he wasn't politically invested at all. The further away from politics, the happier he was. As a result of this, Erik really didn't know a good portion of the young royals that filled the Acirian ballroom.

Once more, Erik interrupted his thoughts with a sip of champagne. He could feel rather sweet-tasting, bubbly alcohol flow down his throat. So sweet, Erik thought to himself silently. Really, the only time he ever drank champagne was at celebrations or official events, like the ball. Other times, Erik preferred literally anything else. Champagne was far too light and sweet for his tastes. But well, it would do for now. It would have to anyway.

And then he took another sip of the bubbly liquid, finishing the last remnants of the narrow flute. Upon seeing a passing member of the Acirian staff with a tray of champagne flutes, Erik switched out his empty one for a fresh flute. As he did, a wide grin stretched across his lips at the sight of a particularly familiar face: Prince Alejandro of Castilya. Now, the Castilyan prince and Erik had known each other for a few years now. Often running into each other at various locations and parties across the world, Alejandro was one of Erik's most reliable companions. No celebration was worth attending if Alejandro was not present. Flamboyant, lavish and proud, Alejandro quite literally personified the life of the party.

"Hello to yourself," Erik returned the greeting with a wide grin before a light chuckle escaped his lips upon hearing the Castilyan prince's next comment. Briefly, Erik's eyes flickered to the flute of champagne held between his fingers. Really, it was quite uncharacteristic for Erik to be seen holding something so delicate. After all, he was almost always seen with pints of Veredunian beer in his hands. And when beer wasn't available, bottles and shot glasses filled with hard liquor usually was used as a replacement.

"Is it that obvious?" Erik asked flashing the fellow prince a wide grin.

Once more, Erik brought the bubbly champagne to his lips. Another sip. Already, a good portion of the flute was empty. But that really was not his fault. He blamed it on the narrow design of the flute. When Erik's gaze returned to Alejandro, he noticed the prince taking a few steps back to assess his outfit.

"Well, what's the verdict? Did I impress the mighty eyes of Prince Alejandro of Castilya?" Erik teased with another chuckle and a wide grin.

He knew he was under dressed compared to some of the other royal princes. But really, this was classic Erik: simple and sleek. Always making a statement wherever he went. He didn't feel the need to sport more elaborate attires, which possibly would be more fitting for the formality of the ball. And to Erik, comfort always came first in any situation. They were most likely to be heirs of the state and more politically active (and interested) than Erik was anyway. And Erik wanted that to be known to all: he was here to have fun.

Composing himself once more, Erik took another sip of the champagne- the flute was almost empty.

"I did," Erik assured the Castilyan prince with a light shrug. "You really loose the conception of time when you spend a good majority of your year at sea like I do," he added with another chuckle.

By choice, Erik thought to himself. The navy was possibly the easiest way to "responsibly" avoid his relatives. It worked out for everyone: Erik and his relatives limited their interactions to the occasional conversation each year, and the Veredunian navy had one more captain contributing to its efforts.

"And yourself?" Erik asked. "I trust it would have been quite long for you too," he remarked.

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Hui-Bawa scratched at the tie around his neck. He felt like an idiot. No matter how often he put on the suit, it felt constricting, nothing like the loose clothes of the Hui-Eehi. Perhaps the man who sold him the suit was right, and he should have paid for something more expensive. A shake of the head threw the notion away. He was spending the people's money on himself as it is, and that sat heavy in his stomach. He can deal with a scratchy outfit for a couple more days. Hui-Bawa tried to ignore his discomfort by focusing on his goal. He's here for a reason, and it would do him well to remember it.

"Curses," he muttered to himself, standing on his toes to look over the crowd. Some of the pale people around him gasped, or shuffled away nervously. He tried to pay little attention to them. He was here to meet someone he's never seen in person, and his only clue as to who she is are vague descriptions of her appearance. White skin, red hair, facial spots? That could be a solid tenth of the people in this room alone. Who knows if the wealthy here are having some sort of red-hair party in any of the hundreds of chambers that litter this palace like flies on a body?

The entire party was a testament to wealth. Some people had land. Some people had money. These people embodied it. Robes the size of automobiles adorned every body, inlaid with more precious metal than ten thousand of his countrymen would have seen in their lives put together. Some chose to wear masks, embedded with so many jewels Hui-Bawa began to wonder how it does not slip off their faces. A vision flashed through his head, of him tearing the masks off, and throwing them to the ground, where the jewels would shatter on the ground, as easy as glass did.

For now, though, syndicalism would have to be put on hold. He had to remind himself that he was no philosopher, and it was not his place to take the wealth of these foreigners from them. Right now, the people that need him most are at home, and helping them meant meeting with one Genevieve Anders.

There, in the corner of his eye, he spied a face that seemed almost perfect. It matched all the few descriptions he had. "Lady Genevieve!" he shouted, his voice booming across the room. Quite a few heads turned towards the dark-skinned stick racing across the room to accost some poor girl on the other side of the room. "I've been looking for you!"

"I'm terribly sorry, you must have the wrong person," she said.

"Ah, I see. You've never seen my face before. I am Hui-Bawa Du-Butha Hui-Hooseng, the one who has been in communication with you for these past moons. Surely, Lady Genevieve, you must remember that."

" . . . My name is Johanna. I am a part of the court. Pleased to meet you too," she said, smiling wanly. Hui-Bawa clasped a hand to his forehead and squeezed his eyes shut. Oops.

"Terribly sorry, I have wasted your time," he said, walking away before he could make a fool of himself any longer. Well, this party has certainly been off to a wonderful start for him.
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