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EVENT RECAPS (COURTESY OF THE MERENIA DAILY)

The Merenia Daily is a tabloid based in the Aciran capital city and widely regarded as the most notorious tabloid in Merenia, 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 HaleyTheRandom
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The days leading up to the Welcoming Ball were hectic. Vivians dress had to be chosen, as well as Ravens dress. Color codes had to be coordinated for decorations. A five day long argument over flowers that resulted in no flowers at all had occurred, and Raven still didn't appreciate all of the yelling her sister did when she suggested that they go with red and white bouquets of roses.

"They don't look as pretty as sunflowers and roses!" Vivian had said, balling her fists at her side like a two year old.

"They don't go with the freaking color plan, Viv," Raven had shouted back twice as loud, slamming the gigantic binder of plans on the table in front of her sister. If you wanted to plan everything yourself, then all you had to do was say something." After that moment, Vivian finally left Raven alone to work her magic.

The final hours leading up to the ball, Raven was downstairs doing her best to make sure everything was in place. Maids, interior decorators and any one else that the royal family could spare was in the ballroom helping. The majority of the tables had been pushed to the back of the ballroom. The round tables had been draped in red and white silk table cloths - the colors alternating every other table. There were six chairs placed at each table for people to sit and eat. The round tables lining the left wall would be holding the food for the night as the chefs alternated the empty dishes with new ones. It was set up buffet style, and waiters had been hired for the evening to fill glasses for the attendees. The royal chefs had prepared all different sorts of foods for tonight's festivities. Tacos, BBQ, apple pie, cakes, soups, stews - if you could name it, you could probably find it on one of the tables. The food had also been organized so that appetizers came before entrees and so on.

Once she was sure that everything was good to go with the food prep, Raven moved on to making sure the chandeliers were spotless for the night. The windows had been cleaned, and the floor mopped and polished repeatedly. Raven wanted this to be a night that her guests would remember - hopefully in a good way. Getting so caught up in the preparations, Raven had hardly noticed the time until her mother informed her that she needed to get herself prepared for the ball. As soon as the Queen gave the world, her daughter was forced upstairs to her room in order to shower and change.

Normally Raven would insist on getting herself ready. However, the days leading up to tonight were stressful, and the young royal was more than happy to be assisted in prepping herself. Once her dress was on, and her hair styled, Ravens makeup was done simply for the night. A nude colored lipstick, mascara, light eyeliner... the only thing that was missing were her fishnet tights which she slipped on under her dress despite her attendants' protests. Settling on a pair of strapy red pumps for the evening, Raven took one look out the window as the cars started to arrive. At the end of the walkway to the castle entrance was where they would meet handfuls of other attendants' to unload their luggage to take it through the back doors and up to their assigned rooms. When the ball ended, the guests would find their names written on a sheet of paper and stuck to one of the various doors upstairs. It wasn't the best system, but then again it was Vivians suggestion.

Making her way downstairs once again, Raven took her place at the entrance to the ballroom beside her parents as she crossed her hands in front of her.

"Where's Vivian?"

"She's already inside with the other guests," the King replied.

Raven only nodded her head in recognition to what her father had said. Best to focus on the task at hand and not the fact that her sister didn't even have the courtesy to give the guests a proper welcome. Plastering a smile on her face as the guests began to arrive, Raven shook the hands and began to greet the first of the arrivals.
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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by Cerces22
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"Listen, I understand the amount of money I am sinking into this, it's all coming out of my pocket. This needs to happen this way in case it falls through, I don't want to cripple investors." Cass said as her driver wove through the streets. The young woman cracked a window and lit a cigarette.

"You have until the end of these damned wedding celebrations to have the announcements in order. I want to waste no time in moving forward with building." She took a drag on her cigarette and blew the smoke out the window. This project was to important to let some festivities slow it down.

Cassandra looked out the window as the buildings passed by, her mind drifting back to a few weeks ago when she was visiting her parents. It was than that they dropped this in her lap, her brother Patrick was off training with the Leprechauns, and her sister Felicity was to young to attend.

She was never a fan of giant celebrations and yet here she was, being dragged back into the public light. She had done everything in her power to stay out of the papers, but reporters hounded her at school, at Drs. appointments, anywhere they could. They might be focused more on the wedding, but with her first major appearance since her surgeries she knew the press would look at her as well.

The car pulled up to where the ball was being held, she spritzed herself with perfume to cut some of the smell of smoke. Cass stepped out of the car fixing her dress. She glided up the stairs with the rest of the arrivals, as she made her way to the entrance she was greeted by Princess Raven aswell as the king and queen. She stopped in front of them and extended a hand to the Princess.

"Lady Raven, thank you for invitations to the festivities. I so look forward to the event itself." Cass may have hated large crowds and parties, but that didn't mean she still wouldn't do her best to have fun.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Rodiak
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There was always some sort of excitement and fear about parties, events, or balls that Imani could never get over. Over the years, she had attended so many with her father back in Utasi, and even more now that she lived with her uncle in Massylii. It was always the same to her; excitement came first, followed by panic, regret, anxiety, and finally, panic again. Imani, no matter how many royal balls, always went through the same cycle. However, this one was even worse than the ones in the past. With the news of her recent engagement to Phillip, Prince of Maris, the media seemed to be buzzing around her, just the tiniest bit more.

Back in Utasi, Imani had been the invisible princess to everyone-- even the media. She had lived a relatively calm and quiet life, one that she had grown to be accustomed to. Then, out of the blue, she had been thrown into the spotlight when she was names Crowned Princess. Imani hadn't known how to react in the public eye. The poor girl had to deal with criticism from the Massylian public for not knowing her mother tongue. For the first time, Imani now had to be more careful in general. She wasn't invisible anymore.

Panic. That what was Imani was going through as her ladies in waiting rushed around her trying to twist and pin her curly hair into place. While in Utasi Imani had been forced to flattened her hair and pull it into tight hairstyles, now she was free to just her hair curl up and bounce freely. She had decided on a loose hairstyle with her natural curls and a few decorations on it-- nothing too fancy. Her make-up had been on the natural side with only a red tint on her lips, a little pop of color.

As for the dress, her ladies in waiting had helped choose a long beige dress with a train. The fabric was soft and flowy and light, just like Imani liked her dress. Her only main concern had been the amount of fabric that restricted the way she walked around, but Imani didn't complain. It beat wearing dark colors with leather and furs. Anything but fur was her new motto after starting her life in Massylii. It was too warm there to even consider furs.

Just enough loose curls and color to remind her she wasn't back in the Pale Palace.

When Imani finally arrived at the palace where the ball was being held, her hands were practically shaking. What if she stepped on her dress and tripped? What if she dropped food on herself or someone else? Would the press be inside the ball? What if-- no. No more what-ifs. She couldn't doubt herself anymore. She had to be certain and confident of herself if she wanted to be the Queen of Massylii one day.

The door was suddenly opened, making Imani gasp softly before she realized her driver had opened the car door for her and was waiting for her to climb out. After a second or two of composing herself, Imani finally climbed out of the car with the help of her driver. With a small thanks, she faced the large front door of the palace. She could see others climbing out of their cars and walking into the building like they had done so so many times, much like Imani. Yet, she just stood there until she realized she was the only one standing still.

"You got this, Imani Kore." She told herself before she began to make her way into the building. There she was led to the entrance of the ballroom where the parents and sister of the bride-to-be were greeting everyone who entered. Surprised that the future bride to be was not there herself to greet her guest, she approached the rest of the family.

She pulled the sides of her full-length dress up enough to do a proper curtsy. While she knew Massylian people did not curtsy, but she was still half Utasi-- and Utasi customs were hard to shake off. Besides, it was royal protocol to greet any royal family like this.

"His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras I am Crowned Princess Imani Kore of Massylii, I am grateful for your invitation to the festivities." She said after her curtsy and looked at the King and Queen, and princess. As much as Imani disliked most royals, she had the obligation to be a polite young woman and show her people she was worthy of the crown. Her country's eyes would be on her for the remainder of the festivities, and Imani had to be at her best behavior.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Melo
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Finally the Austerian delegation’s eyes fell upon their destination. The towers of the castle peaked over the horizon in proud defiance of the sun behind it. Their mood, tired and travel-weary, was swiftly replaced by a sense of relief. No less could that be seen from the expression of Erik Bel Auster, duke of Turland, protector and master of the river Auster and heir apparent to the throne of the kingdom of Austerund. The dozen hours of air travel had left him weary, for he never slept well in the skies. And Erik refused to step out of this car groggily as a result from a short nap. As such, the king-to-be was forced to attend the first day of Vivian’s celebrations in a state of slightly diminished mental aptitude. However, that was something the world would not know.

Celebrations did nary to elicit excitement from Erik. What enjoyment was there in the presence of so many that all sorts of personal intimacy went lost? But that was only the ball. Indeed, surely there would be enough opportunity for joyous conversation with two people, in the confines of four simple walls. And there was far more to enjoy than personality at events such as these.

Naturally, everyone always had a hidden agenda. Such was the simple truth of politics. It was the world that he lived in, a world in which he would stay a player until the day he died. Naturally, the wedding was important and all. But how could he ignore the splendour that was the great Aciran castle? A true marvel of an age long past languishing in the shadow of the Aciran metropoles that surrounded it. Oh, every moment that Erik could relish its architecture was a moment spent truly living. The renovations the building had undergone throughout the years did little to diminish the enjoyment of the building’s splendid history, for at least it meant he could reside inside of its walls in welcome comfort.

But there was more than enough time to enjoy the antiquity. In the here and now, Erik had to prepare for the spotlight. Erik’s suit, a striking midnight blue coat and trousers, accompanied by a black bow tie, was only proper for an event of this magnitude for it was designed exclusively for him by Hansi Türsten, the most well-renowned Austerian tailor to grace the Savile Row. His younger brothers, Sindri and Arvid, wore matching, but distinctive, suits to make the three of them look like a true set. That was what Erik had demanded of them if they wanted to come with him. Their fashion sense was so boorish even a caveman would cringe. And Erik would not let his younger brothers make him look bad in the eyes of the international society, for shame! There were many other style icons, amicable as they may be, destined to be present at this event. Alejandro sprung to Erik’s mind immediately. He couldn’t let him catch all the eyes, could he? He had a reputation to uphold.

Their vehicle stopped in front of the grandiose entriance of the Aciran palace as silently as it had driven throughout the Aciran mainland. With Austerund’s top-of-the-line electrical cars, gas and diesel would soon be a thing of the past. Here it was a set piece to impress the other nations with his nation’s grandeur. Erik showed it off out of pride. Pride for the nation he would lead in mere years from now, the circumstances around his ascension notwithstanding. Had she not been so eager to procrastinate, the throne would already have been his. Erik could not really complain. His father, praise be to his name for all time, was truly a great king, albeit a very strict father. And Erik could enjoy the freedom of his current station a little longer. Being king left little time for more entertaining matters.

The doors on both sides were opened by their prime attendants. On his side it was Radke Rasmussen. Erik had never met anyone that didn’t have to look up at Radke, so giant was he. He still remembered the one time he had been foolish enough to challenge the man to arm wrestle,. He had sworn his arm was about to snap in two. The man had been in his family’s service for more than a decade. On the side of his brothers was stocky Reinhild, who was never far behind Sindri or Arvid on any occasion. Two other attendants were already unloading the car of all its baggage and wedding gifts and leashing Tiki and Coco. The matured Servals clamoured in their playfulness, but were relatively docile as far as this type of wild animal was concerned. They had been a gift by an allied African kingdom, young kittens at the time, nearly a decade ago.

The Austeran attendants would do all the heavy lifting and animal handling, leaving the Aciran attendant the single duty to guide the way to their quarters. Austeran customs considered it an affront to let a hosting nation take care of such matters when they were already providing accommodations!

Radke and Reinhild accompanied the princes on the walk towards the entrance of their residence for the next two months. Two. Months. Certainly Aciras was showing off with celebrations of this incredible duration. He only wondered how Raven pulled it off. Event management wasn’t something Erik would ever do himself. But if the event was going to be anywhere as fabulous as Raven’s dress choice, then the party’s success was guaranteed. The moment she came in sight, he could only nod approvingly.

And then it was time for formalities. Erik curtsied with a slight nod. His bow was slight, especially compared to is brothers. Of course, that was all according to the etiquette of a crown prince. ”His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras” God, he hated addressing Raven as anything besides just Raven. It felt off being so formal to a friend. ”I, Crown prince Erik Bel Auster of Austerund, express my gratitude in the name of the Austerian delegation for accepting us in your presence today. May the sun touch your kingdom eternally.” He spoke as was custom for ages long before Austerund even existed. Soon the sun would touch that kingdom again. Notably, the woman of the hour was not present at the entrance herself. Perhaps she was in the hall itself? Greeting the bride-to-be was of great prudency, almost as important as addressing the rulers themselves in his eyes.

Once the Aciran royalty finished formally addressing Erik and his brothers in similar fashion, only then were they released from their curtsies and were they allowed entry into the castle. Such was only proper. Erik took great care to not miss a beat all the way to the end. He would not allow himself the embarrassment in front of the Aciran court. What good would his suit do him if he might as well be wearing a clown’s costume? Every little thing had been forcefully pressed into the princes’ skull from a tender age.

Walking inside, even the entrance hall would reveal the incredibly intricate detail Raven and her team had put into every facet of this event. It was a feat that the Bel Auster siblings could only admire. Silently Erik was looking forward to the celebrations, and what they had in store for them. As long as it didn’t involve crowds all too often.

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Bee
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"Listen, Ricardo, all I'm saying is that this shit isn't supposed to snag on my fuckin hair!" Han Nguyen was currently situated inside her limo, fixing a rather bedazzled version of this dress that was specially tailored for her by some of the finest tailors the Kingdom of Tuyen Phu had to offer. "You think with all these fuckin' diamonds they'd figure out a way to not scalp the shit outta me." The Princess of Tuyen Phu was currently en route to the wedding that many royal figures had been invited to today. The Kingdom of Aciras was about to celebrate one of the members of their royal family being married off, and it was an event that the Nguyen family could not miss. Unfortunately, the Nguyen family had matters to attend to that were more dire than the wedding, thus leading to Han's presence at this event in lieu of her parents. Not like this was her first rodeo in a situation like this anyway. She'd been to many a wedding before. They weren't anything to her. She didn't spend the vast majority of her life in etiquette school for nothing.

"You think I'll see lil' skinny dick there, Ricardo?" Han mused, adjusting her earring in the meantime, "I miss that guy." Han may or may not have been oblivious to the fact that maybe Erik wasn't entirely fond of that moniker, but it wasn't like he was able to change her mind anyway. "Ah shit! If Erik is there then that means Ara is gonna be there, right? Shit! I swear that bitch hates me, man. It's like she think I'm encroaching her territory or something!" Han scoffed, "Like shit! My pussy pop, but my pussy don't be poppin that hard. It ain't like I want his lil' skinny dick anyway! He cool, but he ain't that cool!" Han glanced out the window, watching the always gorgeous skyline of Aciras pass by. "I've always loved it her in Aciras, though. I'll tell you this right now they got some good ass food. I ain't ever had something slap as hard outside of Asia than I did the food here. I might have to talk to someone to see about getting that shit back home, you feel?"

Ricardo honestly couldn't follow half of what Han was saying, as he was just the guy who designed the dress. The rather vulgar and straight-forward tongue of Han had come as jarring to those that were close enough to her to access it. It didn't help that Ricardo didn't exactly have the best understanding of English, so most words just went in one ear and flew out of the other. The closer they got to the venue, the distant sound of cameras snapping could be heard. This event was a paparazzi hotspot, no doubt, even in spite of the possibility of no paparazzi at the event. It wasn't hard to identify which car was Tuyen Phu's, considering it had the flag plastered on the doors, nor was it the hardest to identify. They wanted to see what Princess Han Thuy Nguyen was up to at this event. Surely, whatever material these guys would get would make their way to Tuyen Phu.

As much as Han didn't want to act like she had a stick up her ass in the public eye, she had to. Censorship didn't go over so well among the citizens of Tuyen Phu. Whatever floated their way was what the public was going to get. No dictating what was to be spread on the news or what was to be posted in the newspaper. Han represented Tuyen Phu at this event, to say the least. It was a lot of pressure, but oddly enough, Han didn't feel it at all. As long as she handled herself just fine and dickhead slave-holder stayed out of her way, things would go smoothly, provided there weren't any dissidents of Tuyen Phu hiding about, because there were some. She was going to be switching the diplomatic switch real soon. The Kingdom of Aciras was nice enough to extend an invitation to them, and it would only be the right thing if she proved that it was the right choice to do so.

It wasn't too much later before she could see the rather grandeur event before her. It was about as flashy as she could've imagine, and rightfully so, as this was about as formal and flashy as an event could've gotten in this day and age. Taking a deep breath and sighing, Han rubbed the bridge of her nose as the car came to a stop. "Well shit, here we go, hm?" Han sighed, "Gotta do what I gotta do. Hopefully you'll enjoy yourself here, yeah? Don't go getting into no trouble, Ricky. I ain't tryna bust you out of Aciran jail or someshit." She laughed, before the doors were opened by Tuyen Phu officials.

Stepping out of the car, she could hear clamoring as she made her way down. Step after step, left foot after the right foot. Han had done this many, many times, and this was a breeze to her despite how many eyes were on her at this given moment. The Tuyen Phu entourage was making their way to the royal family which were no doubt there to greet everyone in attendance. Closing in on them, Han stopped in front of the royal family, before curtseying and bowing down in front of the royal family. "His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras." Han greeted, "I am Princess Han Thuy Nguyen of Tuyen Phu. On behalf of the Kingdom of Tuyen Phu, we are grateful for having us at these festivities."

After receiving the reciprocal greetings, Han made her way inside, leaving the royal family behind her as she continued inside. As she walked inside, she turned back to some of her loyal servants, winking. She mouthed at them briefly, "Fuckin' nailed it, eh?"

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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Pyxis
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"I still can't believe you were actually invited," Elias, Crowned Prince of Luxembourg, said to his younger brother, Prince Christian Henri. Elias was two years, five months, and ten days older than Christian- or Henri as he has requested to be called now. The Crowned Prince had what he called a complicated relationship with his younger brother. While Elias took pride and honor to be the eldest son, the heir, and the favorite, he was stilling missing something that only his younger brother had; the ability to be something else than just another royal in the world. Elias dealt trades, took parts in public hearings, diplomatic talks, and all sorts of political events while Henri was off doing whatever he pleased while the future king attended to his duties. No matter what he did, Henri always seemed unfazed and indifferent to every situation.

That was, of course, until the betrothal of Henri's dear friend, Raiden, was announced. Elias had been there when it had been broadcast on the television. He had been there to see Henri's usual distant eyes focus and narrow of the news reporter from Xi'n deliver the great news of their Crowned Prince. It was a truly delightful sight, really! Those scrawny fingers ball up, and those empty eyes glare daggers into the television as if he could just turn it off by looking at it. Elias had had his suspicions about his younger brother for a while now, but now he was sure about it.

"Do you think Prince Raiden will be there? I do love talking to the man. He is skilled in the piano, much like I am." Elias continued after a second- pale eyes staring at Henri's unmoving figure. They sat next to each other in a Rolls Royce that had been provided by them. Their driver, a woman with bright colored hair and gentle eyes, glanced back just briefly. Elias noticed this and shot the woman a glare before turning to his younger brother. "I wonder if he plays for her, Princess Beatrice I mean. I do hope. Must be wonderful to be betrothed to someone so beautiful." Elias pulled out his phone from the inside of striking white his blazer. After a second, he pulled up a photo of the newly betrothed pair and leaned over to put it in front of Henri's unfazed face. "They make a nice couple, they'll have the most beautiful children. I can see it now. Raiden is a lucky guy, I tell you."

"Yes, lucky." Henri's first words in a while brought a sly smile to his older brother's face. The younger brother had been sitting still for almost thirty minutes as their car made their way to the grand Aciran castle, where the Welcoming Ball would be held for the evening. Aciras was warmer that Luxembourg during this time of the year, which had prompted the younger prince to wear fewer layers than he was accustomed to. It also meant there was nowhere to shove his hands and claw at his palms as he listened to the words of the Crowned Prince of Luxembourg.

"I do hope we get to see the lovely couple tonight. We should congratulate them on their engagement. They'll probably say the same thing about your own lovely engagement with Princess Fareeha." Elias had put his phone away with a small laugh. Ah yes, the engagement Elias had forced on Henri. It had happened just weeks after Raiden's. Elias had somehow convinced their parents that it would be good for the younger prince of Luxembourg to wed a Crowned Princess thousand of miles away. Henri knew that Elias was the most compatible with the marriage with the foreign princess, but somehow, he had managed to convince their father that Henri should be the one to marry her.

"I doubt we will see them, Prince Raiden and Princess Beatrice will have enough on their hands planning their wedding to pay attention to us. We are but a small kingdom, brother. Xi'n and Königreich der Welten are much too important for a Crowned Prince of a kingdom who is only known for its landscapes and art." Henri didn't have to look at Elias to see his older brother's spiteful glare. Elias prided himself too much on being a prince but never worked to further his own kingdom. He simply lived to be the same as all of the kings before him, much like every other king would after Elias was gone. Pride. Ego. Henri knew his brother too well.

For the remainder of the ride, Elias stayed quiet.

It left Henri alone with his thoughts while the busy streets of the Aciran capital. Outside, he could see the oranges, purples, and blues of the sky tinted by the dark window that separated him from the outside world. Aciras was a lively country with well-rounded connections, resources, and an economy to boom. Unlike Luxembourg, it was a growing kingdom ruled by growing royals that sought for the future and not longed for the past. There was no stopping it. Luxembourg was a small country with minimal connections to other kingdoms. Henri's marriage to Princess Fareeha had not only been a move by Elias to torture him further but to secure a powerful ally. The only question was, why had Elias not been the one to be married to the Princess of Mamlakat Asslahra?

It didn't matter now. Henri was only going forward with this farce until Raiden knew what he had felt. The second his betrothal to Fareeha had been made public; his phone had rung, and Raiden's face had popped up. Henri hadn't spoken to Raiden since his own betrothal had been made public. The man had ignored Henri's calls and texts up until Henri was set to marry a woman he had only met during diplomatic talks. The whole situation had been ridiculous. Both men had handled everything like children, but it was far too gone now.

Henri loved Raiden, he truly did. Loved him through the lies and the half-truths he had given him. Henri knew that Raiden had only meant well and was only trying to find a way out before it had been announced, at least that is what Henri had convinced himself of. Both of them ended up hurt: not just them, but their friends too- those who knew about them. Leo had been furious at Raiden from the start, which only fueled Ryn to lash back at her with the same anger. Unlike Leo, Ryn knew something. Henri could feel it and hear it in her voice- yet she never mentioned or explained anything to him.

It was like he was in the dark, and the celebrations of Princess Vivian of Aciras just seemed like the culmination of what these past weeks were to be leading up. He truly wished to avoid Raiden or his betrothed during tonight's welcoming ball, and that would near impossible. It was easy to spot the Crowned Prince of Xi'n through the seas of people anywhere. Just thinking about bumping into the man made Henri's heart skip a beat and his head spin. It was horrible. Henri did hope to at least settle things between them and come to a closure. It almost sounded like Henri just wanted to move on with his life and finally accept that he'd forever be his family's puppet. Just be a grown man and come to terms with his situation as Raiden had.

Acting like a grown man was something his older brother did not know the concept of as Elias practically glued his face against the window of the car as they rolled up the entrance of the grand Aciras Castle. The castle towers loomed over Henri, and suddenly he was five all over again staring up at the towers of his own home. Henri felt lost and out of place. There was no wind, but he could see the trees around the entrance to the castle rustle and dance in silence.

Everything came back, snapping into place around him as the door was opened for the two Princes of Luxembourg. The warm hair slapped Henri's face with the reality of his current situation. Elias was the first one out of the car. It looked like Henri's snarky comment had been forgotten inside the vehicle, and now he stood up tall and proud with his chin high up. Unlike Henri, Elias was a man of luxury and expensive tastes. He basketed in the attention of others, be it good or bad. Elias had been dressed by one of France's top designers that Henri hadn't bothered to remember. The white blazer trimmed with gold and royal blue looked good on Elias, he looked like he belonged in the scene of the Aciras Welcome Ball.

On the other hand, Henri had chosen to keep his outfit on the download to attract less attention. A dark gray suit with a black vest, and a pop of red in his tie and handkerchief. While Henri had no intention of bringing attention to himself, he wouldn't dress down because of it.

After the formalities of tedious royal protocols, their brief introduction, and a warmed welcome, the two brothers were finally allowed into the ballroom. Beautiful and intricate decorations greeted them. It was apparent the Aciran court had taken their time to make everything look perfect and in order- something that Henri could easily appreciate. Although he did marvel at the beauty of the ballroom, his eyes scanned his vicinity for any signs of a tall man with long black hair and neatly groomed beard. When there were no signs of Raiden, or his betrothed, Henri's shoulders fell just the slightest in relief and what felt disappointment.

"What? Your friend isn't here yet, is he? He's probably going to get here with his fiancee." Elias turned his head towards the smaller brother and looked him over. "I'll leave you alone now; everyone knows how fun you are in these events." With a roll of his eyes, Elias left Henri standing awkwardly near the entrance of the ballroom.

Henri watched his older brother make his way to one of the servants holding a tray of champagne glasses before looking back at the marvelous room he had been left alone to wonder. "I just got here, and I already need a smoke." Henri made his way around the ballroom looking for a place to get away for a second, but only ended up spotting the princes from Austerund and a few others he wasn't very friendly with. All Henri could do now was stand in a corner with a full glass of champagne in one hand, the other on his phone and hoped that no one would come up to him for the rest of the night.
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by Aewin
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A collaboration between @NeoAJ & @Aewin

The day had started early at Arcton Palace. The flight from Arcenia to Aciras was over twelve hours with no stopovers. With the flight departing at six, the two princesses set on their long journey had little time to rest and say their goodbyes to everybody. Boarding the flight in comfortable, but dressy attire, the first thing on Arabelle’s agenda was to take a couple hour-long nap before being dressed up by the half-dozen palace staff the princesses had brought along for the two-month stay at Aciras.

Out of everyone in the Arcenian royal family, only the two Arcenian princesses were expected to partake in the two-month celebration of Princess Vivian’s upcoming nuptials. Prince James, Arabelle and Catherine’s elder brother, was currently busy with military service while their youngest brother, Prince Theo, was far too young to be introduced to the royal courts. This left Princess Arabelle and Princess Catherine to accept the wedding invite, although Arabelle was very aware that Cat had very little choice but to accept.

Catherine tapped the button on the earbuds that had kept her in a world of her own choosing for the first few hours of the flight as it appeared her sister was stirring from her nap. Honestly, she was surprised the headphones weren’t completely worn out at this point. After the Houghton incident, her parents had her on lockdown for the majority of her time outside of school. There were unbribable guards posted outside her door, following her to class, it was a nightmare scenario for the 20-year-old. Then came the suggestion of the two-month stay in Aciras for the wedding of Princess Vivian. It was actually well-received on both sides. Her parents get Catherine out of the country until the incident blows over, while the princess gets out of the castle for two months and gets a whole new country to explore. Win-freaking-win. Although Candice gets to run around being famous for another couple of months without explaining what that kiss was about.

It was clear that the scandal following #HurriKate hadn't helped tensions at home, as their parents decided that Catherine would be best suited out of the country while the tabloids calmed down. It was also a way of keeping Cat away from the 'terrible influences' and realise her duties as a born princess. Arabelle disagreed with their decision, trying to support her sister as family and, particularly the media, tore Cat's character apart. It didn't mean Arabelle was any less concerned for her sister's wellbeing. Their parents had high hopes that sending Catherine away would yield a marriage proposal and further secure the Almore line in history.

"I know you don't want to look for a partner," Arabelle started, an hour after she woke up from her naps and four hours into their journey. "And you shouldn't be forced to find someone. We will get through this together, and when we go back home we can talk to mom and dad." Surely they could convince their parents to change their mind if they face no troubles in the next two months. It was hard enough for Arabelle to grow up knowing that her marriage was not going to be one of love but of convenience. The last thing she wanted was for her sister to expect the same.

Catherine moved to tuck the buds into a pocket, but forgot that hoodies were still frowned upon for royals, even on trips to the airport. She just ended up grazing the fabric of her blue turtleneck sweater before adjusting and tossing her iPod into her purse. "I mean, I don’t know what they think is going to happen," she stated. "None of their preferred choices for me are going to be interested after what happened. Which, I mean, thank fuck for that, but still. Just gonna be frosty as ever when I come back." Cat put her hands on the armrest next to her sister and gave her best puppy dog-eye stare. "Protect me, Ara. You’re my only hope."

"All they have is high expectations, Cat,” Too high and unreasonable. Cat deserved that freedom to have a good time. It’s not like she’s a terrible princess. “Even if you come back with nothing, perhaps just being away from them for a while will help them realise they don’t want their baby flying from the nest too soon.” Arabelle smiled as she tried her best to resist the dog eyed look.

“Even if they do not agree, once I wed… Prince Erik, I will become queen. Then unless you wish for it, no one can force you to marry.” Arabelle grimaced upon saying his name. She’d been practising referring to the Traitor Prince by his actual name - it wouldn’t look good on her if she caused a stir during Vivian’s wedding.

Cat made an unpleasant face upon hearing that name. "Ugh, maybe as queen you can lock that fuckhead in a tower," she offered as an option. It was no secret that neither girl was a fan of the Crown Prince of Austerund. More like Garbausterund. "You know, twist on the old trope. Helpless king kept hidden away. Let the princesses have fun." She giggled slightly, a brief moment of hope in the face of, well, everything that happened. "Seriously though, if he is a total douche, you just say the word. I know people who can do things now. At least they say they can do things. Pretty sure that dude was lying about the ear poison."

Arabelle snickered at the suggestion. It was a tempting idea, but it would undo all the hard work Pops had done for peace between Austerund and Arcenia. “I’ll be fine. It should be me looking after you, not the other way around. I’m certain that he will not cause me any problems. You on the other hand, with your friends. It would give dad a stroke if he heard.”

A weak chuckle escaped Cat’s lips at that last remark. It was a tough decision to laugh at the thought or wish it into existence. In the end, she leaned more on the former side. "I dunno, I think some of them are pretty smart. I don’t think they get listened to enough when it comes to things the kingdom should be doing." She looked out the window over the vast amount of ocean that kept surging underneath their plane. "Hey, at least when you’re queen, you’ll keep listening to me, right? Help me give some voice to the voiceless? Cause I swear, if Erik separates us, ear poison time."

“Of course, there is no doubt about it.” There was no way that Erik could keep the sisters apart, and she was certain that marriage would not change their relationship. In fact, knowing that her sister would be with her throughout anything was comforting, especially since Arabelle knew that she couldn’t turn to her future husband for that support. “You’ll always be the People’s princess. I’d be a fool not to listen to you.” Given Catherine’s penchant for attending protests beside her people had earned her the nickname before the scandal. “However, should you get married… who will I listen to?” She gave her a light, teasing smile.

That did get a full laugh out of Cat. "I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about that for a looooooong time, sis," she assured her. "Believe me, I’m gonna be right here, by your side, bugging the fuck out of you, making sure Erik doesn’t get a moment alone with you. Because that’s what a little sister is for."

“Oh the horror, whatever shall I do with so much support!” Arabelle joined in with the laughter, suddenly feeling much better about the upcoming trip. Although she’s on friendly terms with most of the royals, her concern was spending so much time with who she considered her ‘Enemy Number One’. It was easy for the Arcenian princess to slip into her hatred in his presence but she had been given clear terms from her family to not start any fights with the crown prince.

“That reminds me. Did you read the booklet I sent you? Pops wanted us to be prepared for meeting royals from all over the world. It had everything about Tuyen Phu to Maris.” The festivities excited Arabelle, but what good would it be if she inadvertently insulted someone due to ignorance? She couldn't let that happen. Although Arabelle was familiar with most customs, it did not hurt to be completely prepared.

"Well, I definitely saw it," Cat jokingly admitted. "That big binder with the flag on it, right?" She laughed, hopefully a sign that she was kidding. While there are some aspects of royal life that Catherine pays complete lip service to, the socio-political aspect was not one of them. She read the booklet a couple times, but not recently. "Yes, I read it, sis. Don’t worry. I won’t be asking the delegation from Tuyen Phu for a takeout menu. Han would kill me if I ever did that." She laughed again. She was in a surprisingly good mood now. The power of Arabelle was coming in strong.

Arabelle nodded approvingly. There was no way she could or Catherine be unprepared for such a momentous occasion. She eventually stood up, straightening her limbs with a grimace. “The day teleportation becomes a reality, I’ll be glad.” She complained. For the remainder of the flight, Arabelle had been burning off restless energy by either pacing up and down the cabin, talking to Catherine or studying the customs of kingdoms she was not knowledgeable of. The staff were clearly impacted by the elder princess's restlessness. So when the jet was close to Acirian airspace, the stylists were glad to finally get to work. Like usual, Arabelle's makeup was done to exaggerate her doll-like features, done with a heavier hand than Catherine's to hide any sign of imperfection.

By contrast, allowing the makeup artist and tailor to attack her was the most preparation that Catherine was allowing to be done to her. She had done a little research of her own beforehand. Aciras was known for being a cultural hub, and there were dozens of venues in the area near the castle. She just had to find someone at the party who would be willing to get her the heck out of there to find out exactly what they had to offer. Hopefully the Acirian tabloids won’t be on the lookout for her in the same way the Arcenian tabloids are.

Once the plane landed, the princesses were quickly ushered into a protected vehicle. Shuffling into the car was no easy feat for Arabelle, who had now donned a dress with a gorgeous iridescent blue sheen. It was a custom dress, gifted from the most esteemed Arcenian designer, Alexandrea Volcov. The dress was the perfect representation of Arcenia, from the national colours being played off against each other in the midnight blue of the dress and small silver and gold flecks of hand-stitched floral artwork decorating her chest, to the design in and of itself. The sleeves, although sheer, covered her shoulders and satisfied her grandmother's fondness of modesty. Her hair was inspired by none other than her good friend, Princess Leonor of Nevarrea. The braids were wrapped by the nape of her neck, secured in place with a flattering gold headpiece that acted as a clip with some curled pieces of loose hair framing her face. It was a well-known rule that unwed princesses were not to wear tiaras or crowns. Even the Queen would rarely be seen wearing her crown, only wearing it on diplomatic dinners with other royalty. The rules applied to Arabelle and Catherine, the former which would accessorise with intricate hair clips or hats to compensate.

The latter hated having to wear her hair done up. It just never looked completely right on her skull, it exposed her giant forehead, and it relegated the streaks to going backwards. Catherine campaigned to be allowed to wear a hat as she usually did, but she was voted down by her parents. As such, she just had it done in a simple tie-back updo, golden clips, ribbons and a fake yellow flower were inserted by the makeup artist to accentuate the blond and better compliment her own dress, the Arcenian yellow to match her sister’s Arcenian blue. Continuing her trend of selecting lesser-known artists to patronize and donate royal funds to, it was designed by Chelmsford Row newcomer Hannah Chung, and Hannah did a great job sneaking in some of Cat’s preferences while keeping to her parents’ wishes of a relatively conservative dress. The benefits of having a designer one can drink with. Ms. Chung was going to go places, that’s for sure.

The drive from the airport to the palace was a surprisingly quick one. It was given that the roads would be semi cleared to make way for the wave of royals coming from across the globe, prioritising their safe travels most efficiently. After all, only the best could be expected from Aciras as hosts. The princesses could tell they had arrived once the car had stopped within the palace grounds, surrounded by cheers. Harold, their dear butler, was the one to open the door for the princesses once the coast was clear. Harold had been a faithful servant of the Almore family for nearly four decades, employed since the crown prince himself was a child. He presented his arm, allowing to take hold and gracefully pull herself out of the vehicle. She gave Harold a sweet smile in thanks. Being the older sibling had some benefits.

Cat sat in the limo for a moment. She had to compose herself and get ready to go full royal mode. It wouldn’t do any good to be her usual self on the royal carpets, so she prepped silently to get into the mental state necessary to be Princess Catherine. "All right, girl," she said to herself, the mantra prepared to help enter the necessary mindset. "For the people. For Arcenia. For Arabelle." She nodded and took Harold’s offered arm as she hoisted herself out of the car.

The camera shutters were loud as she expected. Arabelle took a moment to look around at the people and wave with a practised motion to the crowd, smiling graciously as she waited for her sister to join her outside. When she noticed her staff had carefully taken out their combined luggage, wedding gifts and Cotton's travel case, and were beginning to follow Aciran staff to the princesses assigned quarters, Arabelle began to head over to the King and Queen. Catherine followed, and behind them were Harold and two attendants, prepared to take care of the princesses personally.

Like the Royals before them, the princesses approached the awaiting King and Queen of Aciras when it was time for formalities. Arabelle curtsied in a fluid motion, greeting the three royals with a smile on her face. "His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras," She greeted politely. Arabelle was certain that by the end of the day, the royals would get tired of hearing their titles back at them. "To thank you for your hospitality, I, Princess Arabelle of Arcenia, would like to offer you a token of gratitude. May our gifts be to your satisfaction."

Catherine moved in lockstep behind her sister, bowing slightly to repeat the greeting. "His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras," she parroted. "I, Princess Cat...herine of Arcenia, thank you for the kind welcome to your great country. I look forward to the festivities planned for such a momentous occasion, and humbly offer a token of gratitude on behalf of the Arcenian people. Thank you." She knew she stumbled slightly on her name. She blamed the high princess. Her eyes were killer.

Arabelle waited for Catherine to finish her greeting before curtsying again. To make way for the next set of royals, Arabelle continued inside into the grand palace. From here on out, the princesses would only be joined by key staffers, including Harold.

"Our two month celebration begins..." Arabelle smiled to no one in particular, as she prepared herself for a night of fun. She looked at the people that were already there, eyes narrowing in the direction of one in particular, but pointedly ignored.

"Let’s get this party started," Catherine said to herself, saying it more glumly than she usually did as she prepared to enter the grand display in front of her.

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Hidden 3 mos ago 3 mos ago Post by jetipster
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jetipster Not all those that wander are lost

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A collaboration between @Jetipster & @Pyxis


Chris shifted in his plush leather seat, the perfectly air-conditioned car doing nothing to relieve his discomfort. His eyes flickered as they tried to focus on the seemingly endless stream of immaculately pruned trees flashing by the tinted window of the Nevarrean vehicle. Only moments ago, he had been joking with his best friend, but passing through security and onto the royal estate had shifted his demeanor.

He’d spent the last three weeks in the beautiful Nevarrean sunshine, celebrating pride, releasing turtles, and all with his best friend — a fantastical bliss. Now life was real again. Despite the glamour and wealth that encompassed him, he had never felt more vulnerable than at this event. Numerous promised betrothals had been announced by many sitting royals for their children, his friends. He was both furious at their situation and in many cases, apathy and wholeheartedly relieved that he did not have a childhood promise to fulfill. Yet the latter came with a sting. He knew of no other openly out young royals to which there was even that option. He knew that he would eventually have to take a step back from his royal life, as his country’s staunch traditions would not comfortably allow his continued status if he was seen to ‘marry down.’

As he thought of the promised marriage of the glamorous gowned figure seated beside him, a tanned manicured fist clenched on his knee in silent fury at his powerlessness. She had accepted it so easily. He’d flown over as soon as possible to comfort her, but she was… fine. Sure he liked Asher. He was a great guy. A good man. A good prince. But not Leo’s choice! He knew all about her crushes and little secrets, as she knew his. But here she was anyway - marrying a MAN for one thing, and one she doesn’t even know at that. And here he was. A royal. A celebrity. An influencer. A millionaire. Her confidant and best friend. Yet there was nothing that could help her.

Still staring at the manicured lawn, his left-hand reaches across the middle seat for hers.

When Leo felt the warmth from Chris' hand over her own, she turned her head to look at him. The"We're gonna party all night, right? I brought some sandals for both of us when we get tired of these stuffy shoes." She took his hand and intertwined their fingers together like always. She gave her best friend a quick smile before turning back to look out to the scenery that was the Aciran gardens. Leo didn't like silence, especially between them. She had noted his change of demeanor was soon as they had been cleared by security, and she wanted to keep things between the light and bubbly. "I hope they have good wine too, the last time we were in an Aciran ball the liquor they had chosen gave me the worst hangover ever. Do you think we'll see Rhys? I haven't talked to him in a while. Don't worry about Ryn Ryn; I'll keep her away from you two- even if she bites me." Leo offered a small laugh as she looked back at Chris.

The weeks leading up to Princess Vivian's celebrations had been somewhat surreal for the next queen of Nevarrea. While news of her arranged marriage had shocked her country and many of her friends alike, Leo had stepped back from the spotlight and shut herself in the Bourbon Palace. It was not secret that the Crowned Princess of Nevarrea preferred women, and many in the country supported her. It was in her blood. She was a Teoko, and Teoko people put no boundaries on love. Leo wanted to live by that standard, yet it seemed like she was stuck in the endless loop of arranged marriages of the monarchs, and there was nothing she could do about it. As the Crowned Princess of Nevarrea, she had an obligation to her country to further the bloodline and keep her country safe- even if that meant giving herself up to a man, she didn't know.

Shortly after the announcement Chris had been the only one to drag her out of her room and into the celebrations of Pride in her country. The colors, the laughter, and the happiness that brought the festivities had momentarily pushed her betrothal to the back of her mind. Those three weeks had been the best weeks of her life so far. From the dancing to the drinks, the shared laughs with Chris to the drunken singing- it all came crashing down as soon as they stepped foot in Aciras.

These two upcoming months in Aciras would be her chance to get to know the man Leo was set to marry. She wanted to make a good impression on Asher and prove that she was a worthy wife. That she would do her best to please her people, her mother, and her bloodline. To show her best friend that she really was fine and everything would be okay.

Everything would be okay, a phrase that Leo had been repeating to herself for the past hour.

"We're gonna kill it. Like always."

Chris smiled as he felt her fingers entwine with his and gave it a squeeze. Typical Leo, filling any silence with chat and endless attempts at rousing a laugh from him. Of course, they’d have a great time! They always did. First on the dance floor and last off - unless tryst or intoxication found them first. He smiled, grimly at her mention of booze. How could she even think about that when he was still feeling fragile from all the rum, tequila, and cachaça cocktails of her homeland he was plied with by her mother last night? And she knew he got car sick… Typical Leo.

He squeezed her hand tighter as the car slowed to a stop. "I know we will. Like always." he whispered, repeating their mantra. The car finally stopped, and he straightened his tie. ‘Come on Kalymnos it’s just a party.’ Yeah, but it was a celebration full of his friends that he had either slept with or wasn’t speaking to. Despite the large number of his peers invited, including his two best friends, he’d honestly never felt more lonely...

He turned with a grin to his best friend as the door on his side was opened by a footman. "Come on, then, let’s show them what a proper couple looks like." he joked with a wink.

Leo returned the grin to Chris and gave a nod of encouragement before her door was opened by a footman who helped her out. As she walked to Chris, she kept an easy-going smile on her signature red-colored lips. Leo's dress had been a gift from a famous fashion designer in Notia who had visited Nevarrea a few weeks before. The dress was a beautiful tan with golden sequence that hung from various places and reflected the lights of the flashing cameras around them. While Leo had planned to wear a dress from her close friend and designer, Fernanda Gonzales, her mother had pressured her to wear the Notian dress to impress Prince Asher of Notia. Fernanda's gown would have to wait for a later date. As for her hair, Leo continued her tradition of braids and flowers. Her hair had been braided into one loose braid that had other smaller braids intertwined in it. It had been decorated with small flowers and gemstones, Leo only hoped it held up all night.

Chris was in a dark purple suit, slightly more adventurous than the crowd of blacks, greys, and blues ahead of them but still regal. His gold tie had been selected to complement Leo’s dress. As usual, they milked the cameras for all they were worth. As he stood there with his best friend, just for a moment, all his worries disappeared. A genuine smile was back on his lips by the time he untwined his arm from Leo’s and prompted her forward. He knew that some commentators would scorn him, allowing a woman to go before him, but it was the 21st century for God’s sake. And anyway, as a rightful heir the Nevarrean throne, in theory, she did outrank him.

After Leo and Chris waved a bit, she wrapped her arm around Chris' arm and led the way into the entrance of the ballroom where other royals were being greeted by the King, Queen and their daughter Raven. The duo moved closer until they were standing in front of them. Instead of following royal protocol, the Princess of Nevarrea stepped up before Chris and placed a hand over her heart, followed by the usual curtsy. Leo loved to incorporate her Teoko costumes with those of royalty protocol- it always made her mother scold her, but they were small signs of rebellion against the whole royal protocol crap everyone had to follow. It also helped greatly that Chris had let her go before; she'd thank him once they were inside. He always knew how to stick it up to the royals.

"His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras," Leo kept her hand over her heart as she greeted the Aciras royal family, "I, Crown Princess Leonor Sofia Acosta Bourbon of Nevarrea, am grateful for the invitation to the festivities of Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras Vivian. May the gifts from Nevarrea please you and your family during these festivities." With that, she bowed her head slightly and removed her hand from her chest to finish the Teoko greeting. She stepped aside to let Chris do his own greeting. Leo was already tired of the whole royal protocol; she only hoped that they didn't have to do the same once inside.

After Leo had completed her official greeting, he completed his own rehearsed repetitive greeting with a bow of his head. "Your Majesties the King and Queen and your Royal Highness," to which the Queen and Princess cordially offered their hands to be kissed as per Hellenican custom. Is mother had always held the Acirans as exceptional hosts. "Thank you for the invitation, your majesties. I bear the apologies of my parents and brother but hope that my presence will more than make up for their absence, especially my selection of specialties from home." He stepped aside, and with a wink at Leo, they were quickly hooked arms once more and strode into the ballroom, him steering her quickly toward the nearest champagne bearing server and relieving the tray of two glasses.

"They're probably tired of hearing their damned titles being repeated to them over and over." Leo had taken one of the champagne glass and given Chris a small thank you. With their arms still hooked, she led the way further into the ballroom. She had to give credit to the Acirans. They knew how to decorate their place and make everything look even more stunning. Though, Leo would have gone with something more colorful and vibrant- but that was just her.

Her eyes quickly scanned the ballroom to see who was present at the ball already and who would be arriving fashionably late. The Crown Princess of Tuyen Phu was already present and standing out like always with those perfectly sculpted tattooed arms, her perfect legs, and- Leo had to take a sip of her champagne before she began drooling all over herself. While she didn't want to take her eyes off Han, she continued to look around at the various familiar faces that had already arrived at the Welcome Ball.

Chris had clocked the Asian princess as well and smirked at Leo’s casual sip - a tell that he’d clocked over their many years. But he was the one caught out after meeting eyes with Henri and choking on his own fizz. He had not expected the quiet Luxembourger to be present, especially not in such a dapper outfit and quickly looked away to find the Arcenian princesses who’d arrived just before them.

"Well, here we are." Leo turned to look at Chris with a grin. "Might as well make the best of it, no?" Make the best of it until these two months of balls and parties were over, and she had to face the fact she would be getting married to the Crown Prince of The Land of Ice. Why did it have to be a cold place of all places?

Chris could only raise his glass to hers with a mirrored grin. “Yamas!”
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by HaleyTheRandom
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HaleyTheRandom ☣ Hurricane Eyes ☣

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Unlike most people, Asher was looking forward to the Aciran festivities over the next few months. He had met Raven on a few occasions where they had spoken about random things. She seemed like a girl who enjoyed planning things, and had an eye for fun. He was excited to see what she had in store for her sister Vivian's wedding activities. Of course the events that were to happen in Aciras weren't going to be his usual parties where he could just get drunk and block out most of whatever was going on around him. While he doubted he would be waking up with a different girl in his bed every night, it wouldn't stop him from trying. Of course his mother had to scold him before getting on the flight about his normal shenanigans. She was right though. Leonor was going to be there. He had to prove to her that he was a suitable match despite the tabloids and constant social media posts that stated otherwise. But how was his undivided attention supposed to be on Leo when he hadn't seen Marcy in so long? Her hair. Those eyes. That spitfire attitude. Last he had heard, she was dating someone now. That introduction would be nice.

His flight to Aciras was a long one, which made the young man was thankful that he slept most of the way there. He decided to change from his comfortable clothes into his suit. His attendees styled his hair into his usual carefree look. By the time they touched down at the airport, the reporters were already there. Straightening his tie before getting off the plane, he politely smiled and waved at the cameras as he walked to the car. Reporters attempted to shove mics and recorders at him as the guards carved a path through the crowd for their Prince to walk. Questions about his betrothal to Princess Leonor were thrown at him, along with questions about his latest party. It was true that he had gotten black out drunk. It was also true that he woke up with not one, nor two, but three random people in his bed. While Notia was not an anti LGBT Kingdom, and Asher had always been open about his sexuality, the magazines and papers still insisted on asking about his choices of sexual partners. He ignored them and climbed into the back seat of the car.

Once he arrived at the castle, there were more cameras. Such was expected, but he hoped there was no more than professional photographers inside. If there were, he hoped they focused on the royal family more than the royal guests. Could he get that lucky?

He thanked the Willow family for their warm welcome - something he was sure that they had heard for the last half hour and were beginning to get tired of. Once inside of the venue, he declined the waiters offer of champagne and politely asked for a glass of scotch on the rocks. While he waited for the waiter to bring him his drink, he surveyed the room. Han looked drop dead gorgeous in her dress; Henri was a sight to behold himself. He made sure not to stare to long at either one of them. The Arcenia sisters were quite the lookers themselves. Once his eyes landed on Leonor, Asher made sure to gracefully make his way over. With a curt nod to the other man beside her, he bowed to Leo.

"Princess Leonor," he said, giving her a charming smile. "Lovely to see you again. You look absolutely gorgeous."
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by KZOMBI3
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KZOMBI3 sucha bakuhoe

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a collaboration between @KZOMBI3 & @Rodiak

In the few weeks that were leading to the event of the century, the Raske twins were blessed with the arrival of a long-time friend, Zhao Raiden. A pleasant surprise for the younger twin. It was always a big deal anytime her best friend were to make an appearance. This time was no exception. With the new announcements of their own love lives coming to light for the entire world, time well spent in each other's company was much needed. So their days and nights spent out traversing the city of Kyiv and visiting all that Dredalan has to offer in the form of museums, landscapes and of course, nightlife. All in an attempt to clear their minds of the impending doom that came in the form of assigned betrothals. And in all that time, neither one of them even broached the topic of their own betrothals though it was clear that it was ever-present and that it took up a lot of the real estate within their minds.

In order to even sneak away to grant the visit to the Raske clan, Raiden had used the excuse to get some work with the Xi'n Embassy in Dredalan. In truth, he had just spent most of his time with the Raske twins, specifically Ryn of course. Ever since his engagement had been announced, he stopped talking to Henri. He couldn't bring himself to talk to the younger man no matter how hard he had tried to pick up his phone. Eventually, Henri's calls stopped coming, and Raiden gave up trying to come up with something to say to the other Prince.

Raiden, instead, joined Ryn and her brother in some relaxing in the Raske home. King Merrick and Queen Mazarina, or as he had been told to call them since he was a kid, Rik, and Rina, had been happy to see him again. Raiden always treated Dredalan as his second home- though the Raske Palace felt more like a home than Xi'n did. While Raiden did get some work done while he stayed with the Raskes, he mostly spent his time with Ryn trying to help her with her pets or holding her back from her usual antics. It was fun until the day of their departure came and was slapped with the reality that he would have to face Henri face to face soon. Something that Ryn had been supportive of. Raiden felt like the biggest idiot in their whole plane ride.

The morning that they were to take off, Ryn was startled awake by her brother waltzing in, followed closely by his adviser, Lolan. "What time are we scheduled to depart?" Ever the early bird, Morrhys strode to the far side of the room and pulled the drapes and curtains back, allowing what little light to filter in.

A heavy sigh emitted from the older male, and if Ryn were looking up from the covers, then she'd have seen Lolan pinch the bridge of his nose. "Wheels are scheduled to go up at 6:45 am. Good morning, Ms. Maeryn. Apologies for the intrusion." She ended up waving him off as she slumped over into a seating position. Morrhys, however, waved off his adviser, "Don't apologize to her; she ditched me last night at the Demon. Show her no sympathy. Make sure you're ready to go by 6, dear sister." And with that he sauntered out of the room, Lolan following close behind.

She rubbed her face a few times, smacking herself lightly in order to rouse herself from a drowsy state before rolling out of bed and making her way out of her room and across the hall to where the gorgeous prince of Xi'n. Ryn opened the door without a care and shuffled across the hardwood floor, throwing herself into her best friend's temporary bed for the last couple of weeks. The room already smelled of him; cherry blossoms and cedar wood. It always had this calming effect on the youngest Raske princess. There were times when they were younger that she would purposely steal blankets of his and just wrap herself in their familiarity when she experienced outbursts of manicisms, and Raiden was nowhere near her to provide comfort. A habit that she has yet to kick in all their years of knowing one another. One that she doesn't ever plan on ceasing either.

Slipping under the covers to join her bestie, she began to wrap her arms around his torso, jolting him awake at the cold touch of her fingers against his skin. Raiden was typically a heavy sleeper. He was known to sleep through thunderstorms and five-alarm clocks, but the feeling of Ryn's cold fingers on his skin pulled him from his dream. His eyes snapped opened, and he instinctively pulled away from the cold but stopped when he saw who it was. "Why?" Raiden let out a groan and turned on his side to face - only making his long hair tangle up even more. With a yawn, he sat up slowly and began to de-tangle the hair that had been wrapped around his neck. "What time is it? Do we have to leave already?"

Ryn's sleepy smirk curled up on her face as her eyes raked across the prince's features, "What-?"

She tried to hold back the laugh that was threatening to spill past her lips. To no avail. "Your Highness, Hair of Xi'n." It was then that he stomped off to the en suite to get ready for the day and to de-tangle his own personal rat's nest. Ryn's laugh was heard throughout the room even as she left and traveled back to her own room to get ready for the day.

The dining room had already been set for them by the time they entered the room. While they ate breakfast, they talked about their plans after they arrived at Aciras. Rhys had suggested going out to party the day before the Welcome Party - something Raiden and Ryn weren't looking forward to. The trio had done quite a lot of partying during Raiden's stay, and the Xi'n Prince was starting to look tired. And honestly, Ryn felt tired too. However, as Raiden had explained to Ryn, the exhaustion wasn't in part because of the parties or the drinking, but more so because of the two-month celebration. None of them were looking forward to spending those two months stuck in close quarters with the people they had been betrothed to. Especially since the only interactions they have had before hand was few and far between and less than a few words here and there.


Their drive to the private airport was quick. All three of them had packed their belonging a few days before they were set to leave so that there would be more time to relax and de-stress before it all came crashing down on them. Seeing as how Ryn was the one with the most luggage of the three, Raiden had convinced her to pack first. Double checking her own packing skills to make sure it was together before they left. Otherwise he was going to have to listen to her bitch and complain. So, there she was, sitting across from her best friend, while Rhys was busy taking selfies in the front of the cabin with Bela, his Russian Blue, as they traveled in style on Raiden's private EL 650 towards Aciras. Sipping mimosas and munching on croissants and jam. The teacups on saucers tinkling softly as the background noise of the engines hummed on in, almost, absolute silence.

As the flight continued, the friends began to conduct business. "Ol has been pulling in great sales the last few months. The last fall/winter event was a success..." she noted as she filled in some paperwork that laid out on the table between them. Boris, her large Stuffawler pitbull, was sat atop her foot, the other placed up under her as she sat there. Raiden nodded, a tablet of his own within eyesight and reach, continuing to stroke his rabbit on his lap.

"I thought so too. These are some of the new concepts we talked about a week ago? I had Guillermo draft some sketches. 'Cause I was thinking that once the wedding festivities are said and done we can go ahead with a late spring more summer show? Roll out these new designs." Ryn nodded along as she viewed the newest editions to their portfolio. Guillermo was one of their best designers and the fact that he was able to pump out a concept so quickly with just a few drunk ideas to go off was more than impressive.

The two continued to talk shop while the televisions, towards the front of the plane, played the news in the background. The reporters, from literally every channel, were all invested in this Aciras wedding that was taking place the next day. "… reporting that the estimated amount of people in attendance for tomorrow's event seems to be somewhat on the smaller side than originally predicted. It's a buzz as to whether that was planned specifically by the royal Willow family, or if it was information that was leaked before the final guest list was completed." "That's right Diane, let's take a look at what we do know so far. Here we -,"

"Ugh, isn't it already enough that this is happening without the harassment of plebeians?" Ryn complained as she scratched behind the monstrous beast's ears as he sat curled under her legs. Raiden smiled at Ryn before he rolled his eyes as he stroked Tao's beautiful, soft fur in the process.

"We are royalty. They want to be us. Of course, they would want to know everything that goes on behind closed doors." Raiden wanted to be them though. To be free of royal duties and carrying the bloodline, blah blah blah. All the responsibilities that come with the titles is enough to scare even the toughest. No one wants to do them, but someone must. And in Raiden's case, being the only heir to Xi'n, it all fell to him. Ryn stared at him through her long lashes, knowing what was eating at him. She could always tell. It wasn't dissimilar to herself. Ryn longed for some semblance of normalcy that she knew she was never going to get.

She reached forward and grabbed at his hand, holding on to it and giving him a slight squeeze, "The only good thing to come out of this is that you're going to be there with me~" she teased him, shooting him a wink from across their table. Raiden mimicked her then stuck out his tongue. And the back and forth teasing of funny faces and random words commenced. As much as Raiden looked forward to the party with Ryn, he couldn't help but feel nervous about one thing: Henri. He wasn't ready to see him just yet- he wasn't sure if he would ever be ready to face the man he had been lying to for so long. The past weeks had been a distraction, but now, now he had to meet up with Henri face to face.


The trio arrived at Aciras a day before the 'Welcome Ball' was set to start. They had planned out a day full of drinks, parties, and even more drinks. Though a lot of that was wishful thinking on Rhys' part. Eventually, after an extended detour through the downtown area, they arrived at The Plaza, the only hotel that was up to their standards and had a habit of housing royalty when needed. While the bellhops were unloading the luggage from the blacked-out car, Rhys had emerged first and extended his arms out for Ryn and Raiden, with Raiden giving him a flirty wink before taking his arm. Ryn followed shortly after with red lips smirking upwards. The pearls around her neck swayed just slightly as she reached up to grab his hand and slip out of the back of the car. As the winds began to pick up the slightest as the bellhops brought their things, a few of them questioning their stay.

"Is your job to ask questions, boy?" The poor creature just stood there shaking.

"N-N-No, ma'am-" There was no time for the boy to finish his sentence before Ryn began to berate him.

"MA'AM?!" Ryn continued as Rhys just stood off to the side, covering his snickering face with his hands.

Raiden's instincts kicked in just before Ryn pulled out her balisong knife out and threatened any more bodily harm to the poor guy. They did not need to give the tabloids another excuse to flock the hotel or give them anymore reasons to write nasty stories about the Princess of Dredalan. There were already too many of those. Raiden had stepped in to grab her arm gently and pull her along, giving the poor guy an apologetic look as they walked by. Rhys stayed behind to smoke a cigarette and to keep tabs on the bellhops, tipping them before they started heading up to the respected suites.

"I'm not a ma'am! Am I? No, no, I am not!" Ryn had continued as Raiden led her into the lobby for their check-in. He ignored the various weird looks that came their way. All too use to them at this point. It was an occupational hazard when one associates with the younger Raske twin.

"No, you are the best princess anyone has ever seen in Aciras - no this planet." Raiden patted her back and continued to calm her down, lightly grazing his nails along her arm as they checked into their suites.

The rest of the night had gone by more smoothly - even taking a more enjoyable turn. Ryn and Raiden submitted to Rhys' protests of wanting to go out and enjoy "Aciras after dark, what better time to enjoy it than now? If either of you even think about ditching me again, there will be hell to pay~" The aforementioned just rolled their eyes but submitted nonetheless. Showering and then dressing for a night out. Ryn had even volunteered to be the chaperone for the night. Though all bets were off when the reigning leader of Dredalan ended up being pulled away by a gaggle of women looking for "a good time" and ended up ditching them instead. "Wow. What a turn of events." The two ended the night early with them cuddled up together in the large bed, sipping the hotel's champagne out of the bottle while watching trashy reality TV shows.


They were greeted with hangovers and headaches the next morning and as they shuffled around the suite, their assistants had their hands full with trying to get the royals to stay on task. Much more difficult than one would think. But in their current states, it couldn't be helped. So instead, their personal entourage just pushed through and succeeded in getting them presentable and into the car and on their way to Aciran Castle.

It was now or never. In their time of dreading the confrontations that were liking going to take place within a few minutes to hours - depending on the speed at which trouble was going to find them. And to be honest, it always followed them. It was inevitable. Ryn crossed her leg and in doing so the slit in her black and red dress just accentuated the bare skin beneath. She readjusted the blade she was housing under the fabric of her own branded couture, something to keep her decorated hands preoccupied as she thought about how to broach the subject. Normally she wouldn't care if she were too bold or crass. But seeing as it was Raiden, she couldn't bring herself to kick him while he was already down. A cleared throat later and she posed the question, "What're you going to do when you see him tonight?"

His response didn't come quick enough when Rhys spit from his side of the luxury car, "What about you? What are you going to do when you see your betrothed tonight?" It was no surprise that Morrhys Raske disliked the Tessian prince. Anyone who his younger, druggie of a brother found worth a damn thing, was clearly someone he wanted nothing to do with. However, when news broke out that his twin was to be wed to such a person, there was little celebration. The same was said for Maeryn, she didn't see the appeal in the young man. He was charming, yes, but not someone that would typically pair well with someone like her. Though, it was neither of their choices to be wed to one another, Rhys still treated the entire situation as if Ryn enjoyed the act. So, his actions towards her in this regard was that of acidic and it was un-welcomed. Ryn made sure to let him know as such when she drew one of her many blades on her dear twin, making sure to keep the edge off of his skin, "I will do as I always do. Gather information and use it as I see fit." She removed the blade and placed it back in it's hiding spot. "You, however, got the best deal of them all. Going to meet the in-laws tonight, I do wonder how that will play out for you."

Rhys nodded, completely unfazed by his twin's show of dominance, adjusting the pressed collar of his Ol suit. It was nothing new to him. Nor to Raiden, who continued to stare out the windows. "Think they'll let me call them 'mom and dad'?" Rhys questioned, a sly smirk gracing his features. The other two couldn't help but laugh at his joke. Though deep down, they wouldn't put the notion behind him.

"Well, Rai?" Ryn swept her somewhat tamed rat's nest out of her eyes as she smiled at the other prince in her presence. She was going to be there for him no matter what. But she needed to know what he was thinking so that she could be prepared for whatever the night, and the next two months, had in store for them.

Raiden turned his face to look at Ryn then glance over at Rhys. While he didn't hide much from either of the twins, he wasn't so sure if they wanted to hear what he had been kicking himself over for the past few months. "I honestly don't know." It was the truth. He had no idea as to what he was going to tell Henri when he saw him, if he ever saw him. He knew Henri was the kind to avoid parties and other social events, but also in knowing him he'd most likely be dragged along by his older brother. "I don't even want to see her." He commented as his rubbed the sides of his temple, trying to alleviate some of the headache that was growing there. "God, I've been avoiding everyone for so long and suddenly I'm being thrown in a place where Beatrice and Henri are going to be. And at the same time!? It's like hell." A Hell Raiden was not looking forward to reside in for the next two months or so. "If it gets ugly, I give you permission to use that dagger of yours on me - please." With that, Raiden closed their conversation. He didn't want pity or sympathy from the twins. It was a mess he had gotten himself into when it could have been avoided easily by just talking to Henri.

By the time their car rolled past the security check point to the Aciran castle, the duo had become quieter while Rhys laughed at their apparent headaches. None of it helped as they stepped out of the car, Raiden offering his hand to Ryn as she slipped from the car; insuring no inappropriate mistakes to take place. Once emerged and straightened up, they waved at some of the cameras that hadn't stopped their assault of flashings and constant chatter to get them to "look their way". They were a sight to behold, what with Ryn donning a piece from their latest couture line, while Raiden himself wore a similar matching piece of his own Ol pairing it with a coat Henri had designed a few months ago. He may have been stupid to wear it, but it housed a nice pattern that reminded him of Xi'n. As always, Raiden wore some of his own personal jewelry, his usual black nail polish, and his hair neatly combed and pulled up in a half bun.

Familiarities were exchanged between the duo and the royal hosts of Aciras. Ryn couldn't wait to get away from it all. Neither one could imagine the annoyance of having to stand at attention waiting on everyone to arrive, being addressed in the same fashion every 30 minutes of so. How incredibly monotonous.

The two breached the threshold of the ballroom, scanning the other bodies that were present and had arrived before them. Their eyes instantly locked on to the one person that was going to give Raiden a heart attack. Tucked away in one of the many corners of the room was the younger prince of Luxembourg, looking as dashing as he always was. Ryn could feel her friend's blood run cold at the sight of his boyfriend. Ex? She wouldn't worry with the semantics of it all. Instead, she ushered him to a closer corner of their own. He reached out and placed a steadying hand on the small bar-top like table before them, shaky breaths leaving him silently. As luck would have it, it didn't seem as though Henri caught a glance at them, though she was made well aware of the fact that others noticed her presence; the air around them had grown stale and she couldn't help to attribute that to her own reputation. A waitstaff approached them with the utmost professionalism and before anything could be uttered from their lips, Ryn grabbed two flutes of champagne and placed them in front of her business partner, "Bring us some bourbon. 3 fingers each, easy ice." The look she attached to the end of her demand ended the conversation then and there. It's not like they were going to deny her. While they waited she offered one of the flutes to Raiden who graciously took it.

"Here's to the next two months," he sighed, as he held the glass up for a small toast, "They better pray I don't get an itch to flay something..."
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by ClocktowerEchos
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ClocktowerEchos Professionally Asian

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I wrote this at like 2am in a weird headspace I'm so sorry if I messed something up or this whole post came off wrong @_@

Unlike many of the other nobles and gentry, Zheng wasn't exactly at for wine and crackers. He had no lady waiting on him and that was okay, since he had a nation waiting on him instead. The weddings and the betrothals and the endless amounts cake would have annoyed the man on any normal day, never mind the super charged royal egos that would be behind it all. Officially, he was here as Liang's delegation and representative to such a major event that would surely draw the eyes of the world over; hearts and mind, publicity and good intentions, Zheng knew this song and dance well enough by this point that he no longer grumbled about to it who ever gave him an ear. In reality, he was here as part some greater scheme for the Emperor, although he'd be lying if he said he wasn't hoping for good cake either. He knew that his presence here wasn't exactly the stealthiest, he had already been given a very romantic death threat by Black Lily wishing him both a brutal, public death and to have a fun time, so he might as well try to enjoy himself.

"Sir, we are arriving at our destination. I would recommend final preparations." Zheng was brought back into reality by his driver, waiting for the numerous cars ahead of them to pass. It was all there, the glitz, the glam, the show, the lights, photographers and tabloid journalists were obsessing over every royal who walked by. A dozen cameras flashed and a hundred more cell phones went off as all of these well known princes and princesses walked down the red carpet in their dresses and suits. Putting on his white gloves and adjusting his cap, Zheng confidently opened the door of his car without waiting for a servant or driver to open it for him. With his back out straight, he marched down the aisle in his fresh Liang army dress uniform, both hands behind his back and chin up to project confidence and to hide his prosthetic arm.

There was actually a moment of confusion among the crowd as Zheng was not a very well known royal, even in Liang. There were at least half a dozen other Liang nobility who could count their social media followers well into the millions, but instead the only one of them here was a young man who looked more than little out of place. A few cameras eventually decided to start taking pictures again, if not for the fact that this oddity might make a decent clickbait article somewhere. "Mysterious prince from Liang!", "Guess who this man is and win a prize!", Zheng had tried his best not to be in any sort of spotlight but to be honest, some part of him enjoyed being the center of attention without exactly having to worry too much about it.

With precisely order strides, he marched his way up to the entrance where the royal family were greeting guests and gave a short bow before extending a hand to them collectively, "His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen, Her Royal Highness, and Princess of Aciras," Zheng turned to each of them while putting on his best fake smile and most welcoming expression, "Thank you for hosting this event. I am Prince Zheng Hu of Liang; on behalf of the Emperor Ming of Liang, I am honored to be here."
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Hidden 3 mos ago Post by KZOMBI3
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KZOMBI3 sucha bakuhoe

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Family meal time was anything but, however in the case that was the announcement of traveling to Aciras for the eldest Willow girl's wedding, there was an exception. Everyone had been gathered when the news broke that the wedding was indeed still happening - there's always that chance that it won't - and that the twins would be attending in place for the family. Morrhys' eldest sister, Morraine, was off being queen with her husband, too busy to attend something as trivial as this. His brothers, Morrisey and Myrheon … well, they weren't fit for the public eyes to be upon them for so long. So, in the end that just left the twins.

Morrhys didn't mind in the slightest. On the contrary he was actually looking forward to the trip. Getting out of Dredalan, out from under his father's intense gaze and kingly duties for two whole months - it was a freedom that he would exploit to it's fullest. His counterpart, however, didn't want to join in on his merriment and it almost brought him down from his excitement. Almost.

"It's not as if I'm going to increase the popularity of Dredalan by being there..." Her finalization was spoken as if that were that and there would be no more say in the matter. However, the acting king had other ideas.

"You won't with that attitude dear sister. They will see you in all your glory and it will only serve to concrete our abilities and our presence there in Aciras," he paused, carefully watching her over the top of his paper, sipping on his coffee, as she stood across from him. Arms folded over her chest as she looked off into the distance, pouting. He had to fight to release the chuckle growing behind his lips at her childish antics. Their mother, the queen, was sitting off to Rhys' right, side eyeing her youngest daughter, "Maeryn, moya dytyna, you must do this. It is not up for discussion. It would do you well to meet your fellow royals, as well as your future husband." Her mother's gaze was anything but soft as she spoke to her daughter. It was no secret that there was no love lost between the two women occupying the dining hall that morning.

Rhys could see the rage building within his twin and in one fell, swift statement, she was calmed and looking at him with excitement behind those eyes of hers, "Wouldn't you like to learn their secrets?"



In the time since the announcement of the wedding and all the details that were delivered to the House of Raske, Morrhys and the other Raske children were visited by long time friend, Zhao Raiden. He came to them under the pretense that he needed to conduct business; either with himself, the king, or his twin for their couture line, he couldn't care less - regardless, not a lot of work seemed to have been completed. At least from Rhys' perspective.

Morrhys couldn't wait for the day that they were depart. Unfortunately, the reigning king of Dredalan was stuck conducting his kingly duties until then. And he despised every painstakingly stodgy case that fell into his lap those last two weeks. He sighed, rubbing his temples as he sat in the office he claimed as his own. Papers and files strewn across haphazardly, though at this point he cared not for the clutter. The queen had popped in, concerned with the disarray her beloved son found himself in. She fluttered around the large elm wood desk, making sure to lightly run her well manicured fingers across the treated surface, yet mindful enough to not disturb the paperwork that lay there.

"Tse meni bolyache bachyty vas, yak tse, miy korolʹ" she explained, very motherly, coming to a halt behind his high backed chair. The rubbing of his temple ceased as he listened to his mother's worry. And took it with a grain of salt. "They aren't here, mother. There's no need for tiptoeing around." Rhys was all too aware that his mother was none too thrilled with her youngest daughter's... hobbies, but it wasn't like she did anything to stop her either. Mazarina placed a lot of stock into her son and the great things he will do. Because in her eyes, it is do, not try. So, when she has it in her mind to force her objective down someone's throat, she would corner them, speak sweet, caring nothings in her native tongue and get you to see her way. It's how the queen operated.

"I am just worried about you. You are my boy, and my king, and I do not want your wife to be - nor your sister - to take advantage of you." He rolled his eyes, "She is your daughter as well. And there is nothing for you to worry about, matir. I have everything under control." He looked up to her face giving her an award winning smile. "Besides, when have I ever let you down?"

The closer he got to the Willow's eldest nuptials the closer he was to his own wedding. To having a queen of his own, the Willow's youngest daughter, the Princess Raven. He was rather pleased with the arrangement. Though the idea of settling down with one person for the rest of his life was something he couldn't quite comprehend, he was only 24 for gods sake. It could have been worse, way worse, as he thought to his own sister's betrothal to the Tessian heir. He shuddered at the thought. Nothing wrong with him, per se, other than the fact that he was too popular with his youngest brother and those of like mind and that could only spell trouble for him and his family.



During those few weeks leading to the event of the century, when Morrhys wasn't being the king, the trio were blessed with their youth. Nights were spent out and about, traversing the capitol city of Kyiv, stopping at all the nightclubs that were available to royalty such as themselves. Morrhys was never one to not do as he pleased, it was a curse truly. To be blessed such as he and not utilize it to it's fullest. Before his own upcoming matrimony, he was going to make dame sure to spend as much time as he could in the arms of others. There was enough tabloid coverage on his family and their illicit business in espionage and extraction that the knowledge of their active king possibly spending his nights in the company of others, and typically more than one, was nothing to bat an eye at. There were a few who were brave enough to even hint at something scandalous, of course there were. However, they were always dealt with in the most Dredalan fashion.

It was during one of their nights out, while Raiden had gone off towards the lavatory, where he leaned across the plush leather corner booth they had confiscated as soon as they breached the threshold. His twin's attention was constantly scanning the room, gathering information just by watching, listening. The reds and purples and pinks that occupied the space around them, danced across their skin. "Jak spravy?" He questioned, making sure she was OK. She seemed distant, more so than usual. She didn't budge an inch aside from bringing her horilka drink to her ruby painted lips. To anyone else looking on, it would seem as if she didn't hear him. But he knew better. He knows her like the back of his hand. "Ry." The use of her pet name caused her to turn and lock eyes with him. "Are you OK?" He pressed again, this time expecting an answer. "Why wouldn't I be?" The infliction in her tone screamed otherwise.

"We leave in a few days. We are all going to be trapped in Aciras for months. Months, mind you. Forced to interact with our recently, publicly announced fiancés. Which, for the record, I cannot stand the fact that Raiden is being married off to Beatrice," she shuttered in her spot, downing the rest of her drink but still turned more to face him. Rhys just sat and listened, taking sips from his bourbon every now and again. "You scored the best outcome of us all."

He couldn't deny that he was the luckiest of the three of them in that right. His face split open into a shit eating grin, one that announced how amused he was at the entire situation. Ryn just glared daggers at her older brother. "Who cares? Raiden is betrothed to Beatrice, so what? I can't stand the woman either. Can't you just, for once in your life, enjoy yourself? Like truly enjoy yourself." He finished his own drink and raised his hand to signal another round for the table. "We're going to be away from Dredalan, for months."

"Exactly! Don't you see, Ryn? This is our chance to not have to think about the country or ruling or anything of the sort. It's our time to let loose. To be free!" A beat passed between them as the waitress delivered their newest rounds. He gladly took his glass with an award winning pantie dropping smile and a wink, for good measure, before she took off blushing. Ryn seemed to be mulling over his words. He wasn't wrong. He knew he wasn't. And the talk of being free of all that is Dredalan, even for two months, was enough to get her on board at least.

"While we're there, we're going to show them exactly who we are. And that we aren't to be fucked with."



Later that evening, Ryn and Raiden had taken off back towards their home, leaving Rhys alone at the bar to continue his endeavors of hitting on all the eligible warm bodies he could. When he woke that morning he made sure to clean up and dress before heading down the hall towards his sister's room. She was in for a rude awakening after ditching him last night. On his way to ruin her morning he was joined by his adviser, Lolan MacKeg, a tablet in his hands. "Good morning, your Highness. Hope your evening treated you well." His tone indicated he did not care in the slightest. Lolan has been a loyal serviceman to the House of Raske for many a year, he's quite done with Morrhys rendezvous' with so many people.

"It was there, that's for damn sure. What do you have for me, Lolly?" The elder man sighed audibly at the nickname. "This is the schedule for today. And then a detailed list of what to leave for your Queen mother in your absence. It is itemized based on importance for what should be dealt with sooner rather than later. Also, the cars are ready to be loaded with the luggage for the trip." Morrhys nodded along with what he was explaining as he scrolled through the tablet himself.

In no time at all they both reached his sister's room and instead of knocking and waiting for a response he quickly opened the door and waltzed right in. Even though he knew exactly what he was asking, only having seen the departure time moments ago, Rhys felt the need to ask in a loud, bombastic voice, "What time are we scheduled to depart, Lolly?" He strode to the far side of the room and pulled the drapes and curtains back, allowing what little light to filter in in these early hours of the morn.

A heavy sigh emitted from the older male and a pinch the bridge of his nose before he responded. It was a great feeling to see his antics get under his sister's iron hide as she just grumbled from her place under the covers, "Wheels are scheduled to go up at 6:45 am. Good morning, Ms. Maeryn. Apologies for the intrusion." She ended up waving him off as she slumped over into a seating position. Morrhys, however, waved off his adviser, "Don't apologize to her; she ditched me last night at the Demon. Show her no sympathy. Make sure you're ready to go by 6, dear sister." And with that he sauntered out of the room, Lolan following close behind, and made his way to the dining hall where he asked for coffee, the paper and something to eat while he waited for everyone else to stir.



It was the morning of day one of the festivities and Morrhys was ready in his own personal Ol suit, specifically designed with him in mind - seeing as he made sure he had at least one thing custom for himself. They all piled into the car, while their attache were confined to the front; leaving the royals to discuss in private.

Morrhys couldn't help but enjoy himself at the sight of the pair clutching their heads in a hungover fashion, sipping his glass of bourbon. Just because they were miserable didn't mean he had to be, and he let them know every chance he got. The ride was going smoothly until Ryn had to question about the Raiden and Henri drama. It wasn't like he didn't care for the drama - he absolutely did. What fun is there if there isn't any? Honestly. However, he was a few glasses in and something in him just... snapped. And as Raiden's response didn't come quick enough, Morrhys found himself questioning from his side of the luxury car, "What about you? What are you going to do when you see your own betrothed tonight?" It was no secret that Morrhys Raske disliked the Tessian prince. Anyone who his younger, druggie of a brother found worth a damn, was clearly someone he wanted nothing to do with. However, when news broke out that his twin was to be wed to such a person, all thanks to his Queen mother, there was little celebration. Though, it wasn't like it was Ryn's fault. Rhys still treated the entire situation as if Ryn enjoyed the fact. So, his actions towards her was acidic un-welcomed. Ryn made sure to let him know as such when she drew a blade on him, making sure to keep the edge off of his skin, answering his question with a threat. True to Ryn fashion.

Rhys nodded, completely unfazed by his twin's show of dominance, adjusting the pressed collar of his suit. It was nothing new to him. Nor to Raiden, who continued to stare out the window. "Think they'll let me call them 'mom and dad'?" He questioned, a sly smirk gracing his features.

By the time their car rolled past the security check point to the Aciran castle, the duos headaches were back. They emerged from the backseat of the car first, their personal bodyguard, Castle, holding the door open for them. As they left, Rhys took a moment to finish his glass while popping a mint while he was at it. In an instant he was out of the car and it was already beginning to pull away as lights and shutters went off, making sure to snag different angles of the King of Dredalan. He flashed them his award winning smile, canines exposed as pearly white as can be. He enjoyed the showmanship of it all. Looking a certain way, playing a part. A part he was born to play. The part of himself, the charming, party animal he was. These next few months would not hinder that.

He soon made his way up to the royal hosts, bowing lowly, taking the queen's hand in his and pressing a feather soft whisper of a kiss there. "His Majesty the King, Her Majesty the Queen and Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras. How lovely it is to be in your presences once again. I am extremely grateful for the invitation to the festivities of Her Royal Highness, Princess of Aciras Vivian." He turned his attention to the princess, "Ah, my beautiful betrothed, you grow fairer every day." A kiss to her hand and a low bow to her as well. "May the treasures of Dredalan be to your satisfaction during these festivities." He went to bow lowly again as the royal hosts acknowledged his greeting. He looked up through his lashes towards Raven and gave her a wink before standing tall and flashing them all a brilliant smile, "I look forward to the festivities, Mom, Dad." A slight bow and he was off, not failing to catch the slight shock spread across the King and Queen's face.
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The first thing Alejandro had done, after receiving the invitation, was text Phillip, asking if he would be there too. And Alejandro had smiled to himself when Phillip replied, confirming that both he and Gen would be there. He and Phillip hadn't been in the same place for eight weeks straight in...probably years. Certainly not after they started hooking up. Of course, Phillip's subsequent betrothal, sham that it was - and Alejandro's very real, very much not-a-sham betrothal - had put a damper on things, but still. Two months in the same place as Phillip was still two months in the same place as Phillip, and Alejandro intended to make the best of it.

Alejandro had told Phillip about his betrothal to Han Nguyen of Tuyen Phu the moment it was official. Hell, he'd mentioned that his parents were trying to arrange it before it was official. But he saw no need to tell Han about his...dalliance? Was that what it was, what he and Phillip had? Not yet, anyway. Because Han's parents would find out and probably break off the engagement, which was all well and good, but then his parents would know, and they'd be upset. More than upset. No, Alejandro would need to wait until the timing was alright, but preferably not too close to whenever the actual wedding would be, because the longer he waited, the more of a scandal it would be. And although Alejandro was perfectly find with being part of a scandal, thank you very much, he didn't want to be involved in this kind of scandal.

Besides seeing Phillip, though, Alejandro was also looking forward to seeing all the other people he knew - Chris, Gen, Arabelle, Imani, Raven. And Leonor would be there too, Alejandro remembered. And Henri, who was friends with Genevieve. Dear god, Henri had seemed so flustered when he'd caught him and Phillip kissing, that one time back in Maris. It's one of those things that's funnier in hindsight, Alejandro reflected, smiling to himself as he adjusted his sleeve. And I think that Phillip would actually murder me if I ever told him that I thought it was kind of funny. Awkward for a little bit, but still funny.

Alejandro thought that it was strange that they had not been invited to the palace before the ball, to get everything settled and whatnot - there were always things to be settled, with this many princes and princesses - but he hadn't commented, because he would never be that impolite. He was mostly a bit disappointed because he'd planned on texting Phillip and hopefully convincing him to come to his room while he was getting ready, but it was no big deal. Alejandro knew that they'd have plenty of chances to mess around, later. And snuggle, and take baths, and do all the things that they usually did when they were together, but for eight weeks straight.

Sighing, Alejandro took out his phone, re-reading their last text conversation. It was mostly Phillip threatening him with various unpleasant scenarios if he 1) mentioned anything that they did behind closed doors to Imani, or 2) made a joke about anything that they did behind closed doors to Imani. Alejandro rolled his eyes, smiling, as he tapped out a message.

whatcha' doing? 😘😉😜

It didn't take long for Phillip to respond. Alejandro feels his insides warm, reading the text.

Getting dressed. Does the fashionable Alejandro Agustin approve?

The message was accompanied by a selfie, which Alejandro immediately saved to his phone. He responded:

well, since it's a pic of your face, always 😍😍😍

And then, still smiling to himself, Alejandro unbuttoned his shirt so that his collarbone and sternum were visible. He replied with a selfie of his own, then tapped out:

i’m still getting dressed 😉😩

Alejandro set his phone aside for the time being and turned back to the mirror, grabbing a comb and running it through his hair before getting fully dressed. For the welcome ball, he was wearing 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 eyeshadow that shimmered over his eyelids. His polished dress shoes were decorated with sparkly gold hearts, and ruby rings adorned his fingers. A pair of unduly large ruby studs dangled from his ears, and strands of rubies glittered around his neck. The added height that his shoes gave him did nothing but emphasize the elegant cut of the gold trousers and jacket - an effect that was, of course, intentional.

When he was done fussing with his hair (which he was leaving down for the event, because as much as he would have liked to show up with braided her, he thought that his parents might just kill him. And his parents let him get away with a lot of the stuff that Alejandro cared to partake in, all things considered, so Alejandro wasn’t going to push it. Even if their reasons for letting him get away with it basically amounted to ‘oh, he’s already hopeless, might as well just let him do what he wants’), Alejandro went downstairs and stepped into the waiting car, thanking the driver as he put all the suitcases into the trunk. He checked his reflection one last time, as the driver started the car and pulled away from the building he’d been staying at. It’s a shame that this isn’t the kind of event where I could be wearing one of the scarves I packed, he mused to himself, idly. Phillip would kill me if I did show up with one of them on, of course, but that’s half the fun.

On the ride over, he mentally ran through the guest list one last time. He and Raven needed to catch up, for sure; Alejandro had imagined that Raven would be much too busy planning the get-together and making preparations for her sister’s wedding for them to go to a few fashion shows together during September, so he hadn’t asked. He hadn’t seen Imani for some time now, either - this would be the first time he saw her after her “betrothal” with Phillip had been finalized. And he and Phillip had seen each other a few weeks back, of course, but Gen hadn’t been there, so it would be nice to see her again too.

Chris, and Ara (and Cat!), and Leonor would all be there, which would be a ton of fun; Alejandro was friends with all of them, especially Chris. Oh, but I wonder what new hairstyles Leonor will be wearing, he thought. She and Gen always have the best braided styles.

But speaking of betrothals; Alejandro had to admit that the news of Princess Beatrice König of Königreich der Welten being betrothed to Prince Raiden Zhao of Xi’n was interesting, to say the least. Königreich der Welten was usually more of an insular country, not prone to marrying its royal children off to kingdoms further than about, oh, Russia. Alejandro supposed that the precedent had already been set a generation ago, with King Niklas and Queen Mai - of Liang - and the news hadn’t been that surprising, given the fact that the monarchs of Königreich der Welten and Xi’n had entered into official negotiations a couple months ago. Alejandro still found it interesting, though. In his humble opinion, there was definitely some tea to be spilled about that match.

And Prince Henri? With Princess Fareeha Amari of Mamlakat Asslahra? If Henri was scandalized by walking into me and Phillip doing not much more than kissing, he might just have a stroke with some of the things that Fareeha does. For entirely different reasons, of course, Alejandro thought to himself, a bit amused. Really, though, they’re complete opposites. And I’m surprised Mamlakat wanted to ally itself with Luxembourg in the first place. I thought they’d go for Königreich der Welten; not the crown prince, because Fareeha’s set to inherit, but perhaps the younger one. Alex.

Ah, but there were some very unfortunate betrothals. Henri had hinted as to his preferences after he'd caught Phillip and Alejandro in Maris, and then Leo, who was being married to Prince Asher of Notia. Leo, who was publicly out. He was glad that she would have Chris; Alejandro knew that the two of them were very close. And Prince Quentin and Princess Maeryn, Alejandro thought, would be quite a sight to see.

They finally arrived at the palace. Alejandro adjusted his sleeves one last time, then stepped out of the car, flashing the waiting paparazzi a wide grin, ignoring all the questions that they shouted at him as he walked up to the main entrance - rather slowly, of course, posing for pictures and such all the way. Nobody would ever say that Alejandro didn't like posing for the camera.

When he finally reached the doors, Princess Raven was there, of course, as were the king and queen of Aciras. Alejandro greeted the kin gand queen more formally, using all the proper titles and fancy words and such, then turned to Raven, leaning in to give her a playful half-hug, followed by two air-kisses, one on each side of her face.

“Raven, how are you?” he asked, beaming. “Oh, but you look beautiful. As always. And your hair - absolutely gorgeous. You’ll have to teach me how you do it, one day.”

After the remaining greetings and pleasantries were exchanged, Alejandro headed inside, noting the lavish decorations. Did Raven do these? he wondered to himself, absentmindedly. It looks good, so I'm going to go with 'yes'. I love it all.

Alejandro scanned the ballroom, trying to take stock of everyone who had arrived before him. Phillip and Gen were nowhere in sight, but he noticed that Henri was there, with his older brother, Prince Elias, the crown prince of Luxembourg. Princess Cassandra of Dal Riata, Imani, Erik Bel Auster, the two Arcenian princesses (Alejandro made a mental note to compliment both of them on their outfits, later. He loved their gowns. Oh, but he would have to go talk to Imani at some point, too. She also looked stunning)...

Alejandro passed by Chris and Leonor, grinning and blowing them both a kiss. He'd go talk to them later, of course, but it would be rude to stop and chat before he went to go say hi to his betrothed. Leo's braids are as gorgeous as always, he thought to himself. Prince Asher, Leonor's betrothed, had just approached them, and Alejandro thought that he might have flirted a bit with him, if Phillip wasn't going to be in Aciras as well.

Raiden Zhao, Maeryn and Rhys Raske (Alejandro vaguely remembered spending the night with Rhys, years and years ago. He was a good time), Zheng Hu from Liang...ah. There was Han.

Alejandro grabbed a delicate flute of champagne, then strode over to his betrothed, flashing her a cheery grin. "Princess Han, how have you been? That dress is lovely. I love the diamonds."
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Beatrice König of Königreich der Welten certainly didn’t have as much of a penchant for reds and blacks and rose motifs as her mother did, but make no mistake about it - she was in no way against the aesthetics her mother favored, either. And so the hours before the welcome ball in Aciras found Beatrice standing in a black velvet gown, examining her reflection in the mirror. The gown cinched in neatly at the waist, and the sleeves were decorated with intricate beadwork at the shoulders and wrists. The same beadwork had been used to create floral motifs across the full, floor-length skirt, shimmering nicely in the light when she moved. The neckline of the gown dipped downwards in a sharp vee, and strands of diamonds went around her neck, cascading downwards and fanning out elegantly across her sternum. Simple diamond earrings dangled from her ears, and a pair of strappy black tie-up heels completed the ensemble.

The gown itself was gorgeous, of course, but Beatrice liked it even more for the fact that it had pockets - and spacious ones, at that. God bless Malini Couture.

Beatrice wasn't sure how she felt about being in the same place as both Prince Raiden and Zheng. She and Zheng couldn't give anything away about the agreement that Queen Mai and Emperor Ming had brokered for them, of course, but she felt slightly bad for misleading not only Prince Raiden, but also her siblings. Olivia knew, but not her brothers. Their mother had forbidden either of them from breathing a word about the arrangement to both Gene and Alex, and Beatrice trusted her mother enough to go along with it...but still. She loved her siblings, all of them, more than anything in the world, and she didn't like keeping secrets from Gene and Alex.

Almost as if the universe had heard her thoughts, Beatrice's phone vibrated from where she'd left it on the table. Beatrice glanced at the screen; the caller ID read as "Mom".

"Hey Mom," she greeted, bringing the phone up to her ear.

"Beatrice, how was your flight? her mother asked in Liangii. "It was alright? Not too uncomfortable, I hope?

"It was good, yeah," replied Beatrice, also slipping into Liangii, as she had been wont to do with her mother, ever since they'd started coming up with the plan. "How's everything back at home?

Her mother laughed, softly. "The same as always," she answered. "Alex brought home a puppy. Your father was...surprised, but not wholly against it. We've named the puppy Alex Jr. At your brother's insistence, of course."

Beatrice couldn't help laughing along with her mother. Her older brothers were almost polar opposites - Gene was such a goody two-shoes, but Alex was a fucking troll. "Oh, really? Tell him that I think he should come up with a more original name," Beatrice responded, smiling. They chatted about what Beatrice's siblings were up to for a few minutes, and then her mother lowered her voice.

"Beatrice, listen," she began, still speaking Liangii, "whatever you do, you need to make it obvious that you are planning to marry Raiden Zhao. Okay? I know your feelings about this matter, and I understand, more than you might think. But you can't have what you say and do suggest otherwise. You must do this for your home."

Beatrice listened carefully, nodding idly to herself. She noted the way that her mother carefully phrased her words - to a casual listener, it would seem like only Beatrice was the only one who was against the engagement, and that it was for purely personal reasons. The way that her mother used 'home', too - most would assume she was speaking of Königreich der Welten when she said that, but Beatrice knew that her mother meant Liang. Even if she had grown up in Königreich der Welten, she had always taken more after her mother than she had her father, and her mother was all Liangii, no matter what her official titles and whatnot said.

There was something else her mother was hiding, Beatrice knew, regarding her plans for the future. Even if Beatrice and Zheng were married, what was to stop her father - King Niklas König - from simply annexing Liang anyway, through the fact that Beatrice was his daughter by his Liangii wife? Beatrice didn't know, and deep in her hearts of hearts, she was afraid of what her mother might do, in order to stop her father.

"I know, Mom, Beatrice said in response, softly. "I know. I won't forget. I'll call you later, okay? I need to finish getting ready."

"I know you know," said her mother, laughing sheepishly. "I just can't help but to worry about you. I know what it feels like, and I know that you can go through with this. I love you, okay? I'll talk to you later." And with that, the line went dead.

Beatrice sighed, set her phone aside. Her mother never really spoke of her life before she married King Niklas, not really - oh, she'd mention small things here and there, especially when they paid her uncle (Beatrice's great-uncle) a visit in Liang, but Beatrice could tell that things like her childhood and her years as the princess of Liang were sensitive subjects, to her mother, so she never asked. And neither had Olivia, nor their brothers. However, Beatrice had the sneaking suspicion that she'd told Olivia a few things, and in fact, she knew that her mother had been gunning for Alex, first, and then Olivia, to marry into Liangii nobility and eventually rule over the kingdom, after Emperor Ming died. It had hurt, for a few years, until her mother had explained her reasons:

"It wouldn't be enough for you, Beatrice, to be a consort. Your sister would have been happy simply serving the people. Your brother, well, anything that lets him have his fun would make him happy. But you're too much like me. It wouldn't be enough for you." And Beatrice heard the words hanging in the air, the words that were at the tip of Queen Consort Mai König's tongue, even though her mother never said them out loud: "Just like it isn't enough for me."

Beatrice shook her head to herself, slightly. There was no use in dwelling on that right now. She had a ball to attend.

The car ride to the Aciran palace wasn't too long, thankfully. Beatrice mentally went down the guest list one last time - she recognized all the names, though she was not very close with most of the list. Sure, she'd met people here and there on official visits (and Raven was a gem, truly), but she wasn't best friends with any of them. She was definitely looking forward to seeing Ara again, of course; the two of them had become acquainted as teenagers, after Austerund and Arcenia started making efforts to reconcile. She was acquainted with Prince Erik as well, though she didn't know him as well as she knew Ara. The same could be said of Catherine, too; Beatrice didn't really know her, other than the fact that she was Ara's sister. I'm not sure how much she'd care for me, in all honesty, but I don't have anything against her, Beatrice reflected, watching the scenery whiz by.

And then, of course, there was the rest of the 'party crowd', as Beatrice had taken to calling them in her head - Prince Chris of Hellenica, Prince Alejandro of Castilya, Princess Leonor of Nevarrea, Prince Phillip of Maris...there were probably some others, but Beatrice couldn't be sure; she definitely didn't care to spend her entire day scrolling through Instagram and Twitter, following everything that they did. She had never gotten a chance to meet any of them outside of an official capacity, but she had nothing wrong with them, per se. Alejandro's the one who keeps flirting with my brothers. I think, if Dad hadn't been in the room at the same time, Alex might have flirted back, just to be a troll.

Out of the entire guest list, Beatrice was probably the most wary of the Raskes (Fareeha Amari would have made it on the list, if Beatrice also didn't know that her oldest two siblings thought very highly of her. They'd met more than just a few times, thanks to the friendly relations between Mamlakat Asslahra and Königreich der Welten, and Beatrice lowkey highkey adored Fareeha). Königreich der Welten was on neutral terms with Dredalen, and Beatrice had no specific problem with them, of course, but the Raskes weren't exactly subtle about what they did.

(Although, Beatrice had to admit that it was going to be pretty interesting, seeing a prince like Quentin Houston of the Tessian Sovereignty betrothed to Maeryn Raske. The two of them were, like, complete opposites.)

There were other people she recognized on the guest list, too, but she didn't have too much of an opinion either way. And Raiden, her supposed betrothed? Well, Beatrice didn't know what to think of him, not just yet. They'd met a couple times, on official visits and whatnot, but it wasn't like they were friends or anything. He seemed...nice, was the only word Beatrice could think of. Nice, with a great taste in fashion, and perhaps on the quieter side. Princess Leonor's friends with him, isn't she? she thought to herself, absentmindedly.

Zheng Hu, AKA the man that she was going to marry as soon as the time was right for the two of them to ascend the Liangii throne - Beatrice had never actually talked to him, face-to-face. His mother had said he was a general in his own right, cunning enough to rule well, but charismatic enough to hide the true extent of what he was doing. Beatrice knew, too, that he'd lost an arm fighting against people who her mother and great-uncle suspected were operatives sent to Liang on the behalf of Königreich der Welten - people who would have been sent there by her father. Beatrice didn't know what to think about him, either, only that she trusted her mother enough to know that she would not have secretly arranged for her to marry someone who would be cruel to her and/or the people of Liang.

When they arrived at the palace, Beatrice stepped out of the car, thanking the driver and the staff members who appeared to take her luggage up to the rooms she'd be staying in for the remainder of her visit. She paused for a few pictures, ignoring all the questions being thrown her way, and greeted the King and Queen of Aciras, along with Raven, with all the expected formalities (though she'd given Raven a genuine smile, when she got to the other princess - they'd met, in the past, and of course Beatrice had told her that her gown was absolutely lovely). Inside the ballroom, Beatrice let her gaze flit from one corner to the next, searching out her betrothed. She would have liked to approach Zheng, but that would have to wait for later. They both had appearances to keep up.

Raiden Zhao was standing with Maeryn Raske, by one of the tables. As she got closer, she could see that the two of them had already found themselves something to drink, and Beatrice followed suit, taking a flute of champagne and thanking the server as she went. "Prince Raiden, Princess Maeryn. I hope I'm not interrupting you guys," she said as she approached, smiling in greeting. "How are you? And I must say, both of you look amazing tonight."
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Hidden 3 mos ago 2 mos ago Post by OfWindAndRain
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Fareeha Amari
OfThe
Mamlakat Asslahra





Fareeha... did not want to be here, in short.

Pulling up to the Aciran estate was relatively underwhelming-- looking at it, she couldn't help that she would genuinely enjoy this place if she wasn't being forced here to marry a man who might very well give up his title any day now. And what would that say about her and her family? That she was so undesirable that literally not being royalty was a good price? It didn't matter what the man himself thought or felt or what the history of that had been, it would a blow to her reputation, as little as she cared for it, and further more to her line, which she did care for. Enemies will be able to use that for generations, really, if they were vindictive enough.

That being said, Fareeha fully intended to... maybe not encourage it, but certainly not discourage it. Hers was the country made of robbers, murderers, exiled soldiers, and more. It would be annoying to deal with in future years, but a marriage she didn't want? That he didn't want? Ugh, hard pass.

The woman in flowing black silk sighed and stepped out of her vehicle, giving a slight courtesy to her driver, holding the door open for her. Avlens was such a friendly chauffeur, he had actually talked to her the entire way here. It helped calm the nerves, no matter how she might deny them.

Marching up the steps after the last person-- Alejandro, she noted, primarily by the extravagance of his garb-- she raised a genuine, if small, smile to the Royal Family of Aciras.

"Greetings from the sands of Mamlakat Asslahra, Royalties of Aciras. A pleasure to be hosted by your wonderful kingdom," Fareeha began, before going on to pay a personal compliment to each of the members of her host. After finishing her greet and paying her respects, Princess Amari finished with, "And may your days be blessed with warm sands."

After finishing, she stepped aside and glided through the door, briefly closing her eyes-- before opening them to hear Quentin. Oh dear, him again. She'll have to wander a bit once he caught up to her-- she didn't really want to talk to anyone here, not at the moment.


Quentin Houston
OfThe
Tessian Sovereignty





Quentin straightened his tie and sighed, deeply. He was excited! He was. But also afraid.

Durrell clasped him on the shoulder, glancing over Quentin's shoulder to look at his reflection in the mirror before him.

"You'll do fine, man. I mean, yeah, they'll eat you alive, but the good thing is that it'll make for great content!"

Durrell's humor did not comfort Quentin, not in the private space he was using to finish readying up before actually leaving for the event. Still, he gave his friend and editor a smile, clasped him on the shoulder, and pulled him into a hug. "Thanks for doing what you're doing, man. Not everyone's lucky enough to have as great of an editor to annoy their ass."

The man only laughed and returned his hug, before stepping back and tugging at Quentin's suit, straightening it. "Get out there, man. They're Kingdom Royalty, but you're Youtube Famous, whatever the hell that means."



Stepping up behind Fareeha Amari-- lovely lady, she seemed equally amused and annoyed at him-- he finished buttoning up his jacket just before coming before Raven and her family. Stretching a grin across his face, crinkling his eyes up into halfmoons and stepping forward almost before Fareeha had cleared the area, he clasped Raven's hand in his and gave each member of the family a bow, briefly meeting each of their eyes with an almost laughing smile.

"It's great to see all of you again! I wish I could visit more often, and I do really, really love what you've done with everything, Princess, it looks stunning, it really does. If I had half the style, I wouldn't have to spend my time doing what I do, you know?" He gave them each a warm, enthusiastic greeting, personally complimenting at least one thing, always trying to poke a little fun and bring a little smile-- but on Royalty, he wasn't sure how effective. Didn't mean he wouldn't try.

Finishing up, he stepped to the side and entered the ballroom behind, giving the Princess a last short wave and half-hopping into the room.

Coming up behind Fareeha Amari, be briefly exchanged a greeting with her-- enough to get her to roll her eyes and gently shove his shoulder towards the rest of the room-- before he split off, marching into the room and surveying the crowd.

Crowd of politicians, princes and princesses, some of which who hated his guts.

His smiled widened and he clasped his hands, surveying the elegance and style of the beautiful attendees.

Then, of course, his gaze landed on his betrothed, Princess Maeryn Ozzette Raske. Ryn Raske. A dangerous woman from a dangerous family, and it just now settled onto him the reality-- he was going to merry the princess flayer. Even as he stared, he noted Beatrice of the Konigreich approaching them. Those three he'd approach first, he decided.

Of course, Ryn looked like she could seduce any man alive and was gloriously sexy. Sort of the whole don't stick your dick in crazy idea, except he was deadass betrothed to it, and her family likely wouldn't mind if he ended up getting diced like a tomato. He honestly wasn't sure if his family would mind either, so long as it secured them the threat of being allied with the Raskes.

Beatrice was scary, but she was also beautiful, but more in the way an extremely well crafted and decorated rapier was-- elegant, graceful, and could poke you where you hurt most.

Naturally he marched right up and gave the Flayer, the Rapier, and Prince Raiden-- he didn't have a good metaphor for him, to be honest, but that might be just because he liked boobs-- a bow, popping up again with that infallible smile and turning to a passing waiter, flagging him with a polite nod of the head. "Cup of white grape juice with some lemon squeezed into it to make it screw up my eyes like I'm drinking hard alcohol, thank you." The waiter's face just briefly broke from its mask to give him that what-the-fuck glance, before smoothing over again and hurrying away.

He turned to three-- primarily Ryn-- and refocused his beam on her-- err, them (Don't blame him, it was those legs, Beatrice can compete but won't win against Ryn, in Quentin's opinion). "Howdy Princess Maeryn Raske! A pleasure to be of acquaintance to ya once again. And you, Prince Zhao Raiden! And greetings to you once more, Princess Beatrice of the ever hardy Konigreich. I'm not used to walking up to a beautiful pair-- or, triplets?-- so do you think I'm doing okay? Should I..." Quentin patted his pockets and lapel, as if searching for something. "I don't know, draw a knife, knock back hard liquor? Honestly, it's easier jumping off a cliff to approach you three, and I can actually speak from experience on that."

Quentin glanced between the three, shooting off as if it were the most natural thing in the world, nevermind the fact that he came up behind them while they were staring at awkward moments made incarnate walking around.
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As she scanned the already-crowded ballroom, Genevieve Anders breathed an unexpected sigh of relief. Her eyes caught on violent pinks and midnight blues; necklaces dripping with diamonds and rubies—here, a plunging neckline, daringly low; there, a yellow dress covered in modest lace. So far, the other guests represented a healthy spread between the ostentatious and the understated, which left her to fall comfortably into the realm of quirky-but-unexceptionable.

When it came to going unseen, the younger daughter of Maris had two strategies: either become invisible, or put on a mask—literal or figurative.

For the welcoming ball, she had chosen the latter.

Genevieve 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 like rhinestone freckles, 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—such as when she and Phillip had paused in the palace doorway, recovering from the flurry of paparazzi waiting just outside. 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 personally. The rest likely had almost no idea who she was—and if they did, it was through either her brother or 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.

It was because of that lipstick that Genevieve reminded herself not to worry at her lower lip as Phillip—who had only released her long enough for them to make their respective bow and curtsey to their hosts—took her arm again, wrapping warm fingers around hers. “See anybody we know?”

“Plenty of people you know,” Gen murmured, though even as she said it, she knew it wasn’t entirely fair. Already, she’d picked out one mutual friend in the crowd—Alejandro was hard to miss—and she was almost certain she’d caught brief sight of both Erik and Ara: two of the people she liked most who liked each other least. No sign of the person she most wanted to see, but knowing Henri, he wouldn’t be out in the open.

Genevieve nudged her brother, teasing. “Have you spotted Ali yet?”

There was laughter in Phillip’s voice: “How could I not?” He nodded in the other prince’s direction. “But he’s busy, and it’s not like he’ll be hard for us to find.”

Reaching up to adjust the silk ascot tied about his neck, the same grey-blue as the darkest folds of Genevieve’s dress, Phillip glanced around. “Besides, I promised Imani I’d find her as soon as we got here.”

A second after he said it, they both spotted the princess in question, Gen squeezing Phillip’s arm at the same time that he murmured, “There,” and started walking. Though she knew she’d have to stand on her own eventually, Genevieve let Phillip play escort for as long as sensibility allowed, sticking close as he nodded to acquaintances and wove his way toward the princess of Massylii.
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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by lady horatio
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Phillip felt a pang of guilt and wished, not for the first time, that Imani could have arrived with him and Genevieve. With the logistics of flights, time zones, and hotels, it just hadn’t seemed feasible, but seeing the Massylii princess hovering alone at a corner table, nursing a drink, he wondered if it wouldn’t have been worth the extra trouble.

“Imani,” he called out as soon as they were close, flashing her a warm smile. If anyone had been paying them much attention, he might have addressed the princess more formally—but as they were both heirs, near-equal in status, and friends besides, he didn’t see much point. And, knowing how much she hated events exactly like this, he wanted, desperately, to put her at ease.

“It’s so good to see you!” Phillip felt Gen gently release his arm and step aside as they reached Imani’s table, giving him space to greet her. “I’m sorry you beat us here. I hope you weren’t waiting long.”

x-x-x


Imani looked up from the whiskey glass she had been staring at for quite a few minutes now. Her eyes lit up when she spotted the familiar faces of Phillip and Gen. Setting her drink down, Imani walked closer to give him a brief hug. It was nice to finally see him again after a few weeks. She had been so nervous about the whole event, but Phillip's presence always seemed to calm her down enough to cope with the public eye and other royals.

"It's so good to see you too," Imani offered a smile before she shook her head briefly. She had been waiting for a bit, but there was no need to make Phillip feel bad. "I arrived a few minutes ago, don't worry about it."

Imani looked over to Gen, her smile returning as she greeted the younger girl. "It's nice to see you again, Genev- Gen." She stood there awkwardly, unsure if she should offer a handshake or a hug. While Gen and Imani had met briefly before, not many words had been exchanged between them. Imani wasn't sure if they were friends of if Gen would be okay with a hug. This is awkward, Imani told herself before she went for a quick hug, cheeks turning red in the process.

x-x-x


Phillip returned Imani’s hug readily, giving her hands a quick squeeze before she pulled away. He watched her hover, uncertain, before Genevieve.

And smiled a small, relieved smile as his sister pushed up on her toes to hug the slightly-taller princess. Not that he’d thought Gen would snub Imani—far from it—but he knew his sister well enough to see that she, too, was trying to make Imani more comfortable.

“Nice to see you, too,” Genevieve said. “You look great.” She smiled, shyly. “I love your curls.”

“Fantastic,” Phillip agreed easily. Then, tilting his head, he asked more quietly, “How are you holding up?” He paired the question with an encouraging smile, lightening the tone a little. They were all going to make it through tonight, and if he had anything to say about it, they would even have some fun.

x-x-x


"I love your braids," Imani gave Gen a smile as she glanced at her hair and the many crystals that adorned her hair. They reminded her of Leo, just a bit. She then turned her head to look at Phillip.

"A lot better than I thought I would." She picked up her glass of whiskey to show the source of her stress reliever. "It's my second one already and I feel less anxious to be here. I hope you two got enough sleep to last this ball." She wasn't sure what the Aciran crown had planned for the evening.

x-x-x


"We're both jetlagged," Phillip admitted. "It's already pretty late back home. But our hotel was very flexible, and I know other people have come from much farther away."

He tipped his head toward Imani's glass. "Pace yourself with those." His lips curved up again. "I might need you and Gen to help support me if I start falling asleep."

"If you start falling asleep, Imani and I will prop you in a corner somewhere," Gen, who had flushed at Imani's compliment, muttered. "You'll be fine."

Phillip raised his eyebrows at his betrothed. "Can you feel the love?" he asked, without the slightest bit of offense. He flagged down a passing server, accepting a flute of champagne for himself and, at Genevieve's request, a glass of ice-water.

"Once we get our bearings," he offered Imani, "I'll introduce you to some of our friends, if you like. I'm sure you'll feel more comfortable once you know a few people, and I promise we'll stick together." He felt his mouth curve into something both wry and confidential. "What else are fiancés for?"

x-x-x


Imani smiled at Genevieve's comment, suppressing a small laugh behind her glass. "That would be great; it would be nice to know some of your friends. I can introduce you to some of my own." She offered. There were a few people she was close to, but it wouldn't keep her from introducing Phillip and Gen to some of her friends. It also gave her the excuse to walk around and sober up just a bit.

"Thank you," Imani looked at Phillip then Genevieve, "I don't think I can say that enough.”

x-x-x


Phillip shook his head. "You don't have to say it at all," he said. He'd lost count of the times Imani had thanked him, even though this arrangement benefitted them both. Even though he was happy to do it.

He gave Imani an encouraging smile. "We have two months of events coming up, and neither of us has to worry about being stuck with someone we don't like. That's almost worth it by itself." He took a sip of champagne, then offered her his elbow. "Shall we take a turn about the room, if you're ready?"

When Imani accepted, he held out his other arm to Genevieve, who shook her head. "Walk with your fiancée," she said, gently pushing him away. "It's going to look a little sad if I'm hanging on you all night."

"I don't think sibling solidarity is sad,” Phillip said, but he let her fall into step beside him nonetheless.
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A collaboration between @Melo & @Aewin, ft. @NeoAJ

Steely blue-green eyes watched the other royals with curiosity and interest as the crowds grew larger over time. Being one of the first few to arrive, Arabelle had the honour of getting to see each guest after her make their grand entrance in their designer gowns or suits. Most royals cleaned up nicely, she thought. Alejandro was one that was expectedly flashy and brilliantly dressed. Similarly, the choices of Imani, Leonor, Beatrice and even Han was dazzling. Pink really suited the princess of Tuyen Phu, she thought, pleasantly surprised by the dress.

A servant cautiously stepped towards the Arcenian sisters, carrying an assortment of drinks on an intricately designed platter. Arabelle politely took one of the wine glasses offered, grasping the delicate stem in her hand before she resumed watching. “I think the last few as starting to filter in.” She commented, mostly to herself, as Fareeha stepped through.

It was tempting for Catherine to commandeer the platter for such an occasion. It couldn’t hurt to have a ready supply of wine to deal with the parade of pompous party people she was going to be dealing with at this soiree. But that wouldn’t do. #HurriKate drunk within the first...hour? That would be a field day. Instead, Cat followed her sister in accepting one of the glasses from the waiter, although she did size them up to pick one of the fuller glasses. It was almost unable to see the difference, but Catherine had enough of a sharp eye to notice the best option for her on the tray.

On the other side of the room, Erik enjoyed himself with a glass of wine. His giant attendant, Radke, stayed with him while the other left with his younger siblings. His brothers would need to be watched after, otherwise, they’d surely get themselves into trouble. And he could not afford to look bad because of them. This was the world stage, even if some of the players gathering here were of questionable repute. Although many were good friends and acquaintances that entered, a few earned a frown and a sidelong glance as they passed through the entryway. Luckily there were enough people here to be able to avoid such people altogether for his entire stay.

One person he definitely would not be able to avoid for the coming two months was his oh so beloved betrothed. Indeed, Arabelle had been the subject of over half of Erik’s minute glares. He clutched his glass with every discreet look. And her sister was with her, too, to make things worse. This party already felt like a lion’s den. He looked at Han, whose dress made her surely deserving of the glances of other males around her. Maybe he should pay her a visit to keep himself busy? No, she’d know what’s up, and then run her potty mouth to boot. No, needed a more discreet query.

Something that hadn't escaped Arabelle's notice was that most royals were gravitating towards their selected betrothed. Most pairings seemed unremarkable, save for a select few. She couldn’t help but feel somewhat envious of those royals. For Arabelle, approaching her own betrothed was not an option. In fact, approaching Erik now would only cause drama and she had promised her grandfather she wouldn’t cause him any trouble.

Nearby, she saw Philip and Imani chat amicably, with Genevieve hovering nearby. Bless her cotton socks, Arabelle mused. Although she was glad to see the hermit princess experiment past her comfort zone, part of her was still concerned for Gen. Perhaps it would be a good idea to check on her? Yeah.. it has been a while since the two girls have been able to see each other face-to-face, and talking to Philip is always a treat. Plus, this way she could get herself well acquainted with the newly crowned princess of Massylii.

“Cat? If you’ll excuse me, I should greet the rest of the guests. I’ll be back shortly.” She politely excused herself from her sister and bodyguard. Gen was her first priority to greet. Arabelle was sure that Gen wouldn’t mind the extra glass of wine.

“Yes, yes, that makes sense. I… I think I’ll hang back for a moment and allow myself to get acclimated to things,” Catherine told her sister as Arabelle headed off. It was polite speak for “I don’t want to talk to any of these people in front of me, especially not your betrothed, so good luck while I stay here and drink wine,” but Cat didn’t have to tell Ara that.

Erik strolled past the people as he chatted with the giant that was his attendant. As instructed, the man would inform him when the unpacking had been finished. Surely he had to know if one of Vivian’s gifts had been damaged. But nay, everything had gone perfectly. The crowd that had filled the room by now with royals and attendants of all nations had obscured his vision largely of the people he knew. But he had kept an eye on a few. One, in particular, he wanted to say hi to right now.

Genevieve Anders was a dear friend of his. And the two hadn’t spoken in such a long time now. It was only common courtesy that he would invite her to play a game of chess with him when their presence here was no longer required. Not to mention, surely Phillip would be up for a chat as well. He had no real knowledge of the person beside him, but the way they locked elbows spoke of something beyond casual acquaintances. It piqued Erik’s curiosity, to say the least. So what better place to start?

As Cat sipped with about 10% of her normal gusto when it came to enjoying a glass of wine, she could see her sister stepping out onto the floor… and her ghastly groom to be coming right towards her. “Aw, shit,” she muttered under her breath just low enough for no one to hear.

It was hard not to notice the prince falling into step nearby. In fact, Arabelle's attempt at avoiding her fiance had led her directly to him, much to her displeasure. It was like the gods were out for blood or entertainment… or both. Stopping in her (and his) path, Arabelle spun on her heels to face her demon. “And why is it that you decide to greet the one person I plan on speaking with?” If she could cross her arms at this moment, she would, but alas the blasted glass of wine was stopping her from showing her ire. “Can you not go bother somebody else with your presence instead?”

Erik tried very hard not to show his displeasure in regards to this unfortunate encounter. However, Erik’s brow enjoyed furrowing despite his master’s sincere wishes. From the corner of his eye he saw his attendant shuffling his feet nervously. Radke never had seen the two together, this Erik knew, but rumour always spread like wildfire amongst servants. With a sigh he finished the last of his wine. “Refill my glass, if you please.” He held out the empty glass towards him, and gestured him along.

The man was all too willing to comply.

Now it was time to face the beast. He turned back towards her, and maneuvered his mouth into something that could pass for a polite smile from a distance. Still, the subtle twitch he felt from his mouth’s corner was more than enough to annoy him. Arabelle tended to do that to him. She radiated discomfort like a skunk did odor. “My lady Arabelle. Still skipping etiquette classes, I see?” He made the slightest bow mockingly. It was a bow far too shallow for someone her station, in spite of their betrothal. A lack of respect was the best way to cause upset. Some things truly hadn’t changed since the times of the old Crevnonan courts. “Please, don’t let me keep you. I find it very sweet that you wish to entertain my friend with your… frivolities.” Something in him wanted to lash out at her. But he would maintain his composure. Not only would it make him look better in front of crowds, it would also serve to annoy her all the more.

Ignoring the etiquette comment, Arabelle smiled pleasantly instead, a practised act she'd perfected from childhood. “Perhaps checking on a 'friend' seems frivolous to you, but I suppose having friends is a foreign concept to someone like you.” There was no denying the tenseness in her jaw, but she kept her body relaxed. There was no bow from her in return, there was no point in doing something half-heartedly, and her Arcenian pride would not allow her to even lower her head in the direction of that traitor.

As pleasant a smile she might put up, Erik was convinced that he must at least get a little under her skin. Erik’s bow might be an affront, but the lack of any was downright rude to anyone who could see. If she wanted to make herself look bad, so be it. Erik did not consider that a bad thing. Her words irritated him however. That was a malicious way to spin his words. Even by her standards. “Of course, only an Arcenian tyrant could think of friends as anything like frivolous. How else could you even interpret my words that way?” He rose his chin, looking down at her arrogantly. “No matter, I do not believe the day will come when Arcenians value people of any sort.”

Technically it wasn't difficult to look down on her, Arabelle was much shorter than he was. “Well, it certainly was not me that assumed that my concern was 'frivolous',” There was a bite to her tone, unappreciative of the negative assumption that he had made of her concern for Genevieve. Why couldn't he just leave her alone for the next two months?

His assumptions didn't just stop there, oh no, he had to make a fool of himself by incorrectly judging her people as tyrants that had no values. No matter, history was on her side after all. “Of course,” she barked sarcastically. “Traitors such as yourself would really know the value of people, right? Of course, your ancestors had no sense of loyalty to their own family, so they had to value something to remain in power, is that correct?” She smiled sweetly.

History only favored her side when it was written by an Arcenian hand, of course. True history was much muddier than apparent at first sight. “We ‘betrayed’ our family for the people. If your knowledge of history is this bad at this point in your academic career you might as well drop out. Save your professors the trouble and don’t waste their time.” He harrumphed. History always struck a wrong chord with Erik when someone spouted obvious falsehoods as fact! The nature of the Crevonan conflict was truly obscured by time. But the histories of both sides had always said that the Bel Austers had one it for the people (of course, whether or not that was actually true is not as clear).

“Though I guess tyrants do not need to win the respect of their people with competency, as you so well display. Your grandfather is truly a great man to have risen above the cesspit that is your brood.”

“There were no people to save, all your family wanted was the throne that wasn't rightfully theirs and they failed to take it.” Arabelle sneered, her nose wrinkling in distaste. Her fingers tightened on the stem of the wine glass, her knuckles whitening from the pressure. It was a miracle that the glass hadn't shattered yet. How dare he speak to her in such a manner? She did not appreciate him dragging her grandfather into their business in such a crass manner. Arabelle had to fight every muscle in her body to not slap Erik for disrespecting her, but she knew that that would only escalate things to the point of no return.

Arabelle bit her tongue, only for a moment. The fake pleasant smile on her face wiped in favour for a cold, unreadable expression. “Wow, what a man. Did that make you feel any better? A little more manly? Or perhaps, powerful?” She clicked her tongue, shaking her head condescendingly. “I pity you. Your inferiority complex is entirely justified because you will never compare to the King of Arcenia with the way you're talking.”

He wove his hand dismissively of her comments. “You have no right to speak to me like that when you were just saying the same kind of things about me and my family.” Erik smiled smugly. Was he happy with himself? No, not really. But he hadn’t said a word in the moment that he thought wasn’t true. “I find your hypocrisy appalling, truly. You truly tried to berate me over that, are you serious? How dare you?” If there was one thing he could say about his future queen, it was that she was audacious. Unfortunately, not in any sort of good way.

“All I wanted to do was check on a friend, apparently even that is too kind for you to allow. Truly, shame on you, because you had no right to dig at me either. This could have all been avoided had you not tried to start a problem with me. Could you not have waited a few minutes before trying to ruin other people's day?” Admittedly, her digs had been weak and personal, but he had caught her off-guard, hitting below the proverbial belt. Her grandfather is special to her, a kind hearted soul he is, and she couldn't allow Erik to get away with taunting her in his name.

“Please, get off your high horse. You're no better than me if you have to resort to petty insults to protect your ego. You just cannot admit that you're just as awful.”

He visibly shrugged. “Oh yes, yes. I talked back at you just as badly. But at least I’m not a hypocrite, and I had all the right to dig at you for that.” It was then that his attendant came back with his wine. Erik sighed. He found the whole notion laughable. She was the one who had lashed out at him in the first place. Maybe had she kept her stupid mouth shut, they could’ve both done their thing in peace. But no, Arabelle just had to have a go at him. Of course, he had childishly done the same thing back.

He took the wine out of Radke’s hands, and sipped it lightly. “So, why don’t you be a dear and go do what you actually came here for? That’s right. Move along.” He gestured towards Gen. “And if from now on you could just pretend I do not exist… well… let’s say that would make my world a little brighter. At least for the nearby future.” For the long-term was filled with unspeakable horrors as the last few minutes had demonstrated.

Arabelle scoffed at his attempt at a dismissal. “You're insufferable, if I have to see you again it'll be far too soon. Gods, I hope someone puts me out of my misery before I have to marry you.” Rolling her eyes, Arabelle muttered to herself as she turned her back on him.

“That blue looks awful on you, by the way. Do us both a favour and ditch the suit next time. The blue makes your attitude pretty in comparison.” Without turning back, she left Erik to be by his lonesome to go talk to some actual company, finally letting the anger cloud her expression.

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Hidden 2 mos ago Post by Cerces22
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Cassandra listened to Arabelle and Erik's quarrel, she found it laughable that these two were to be wed. She was sure that at least after they were married their sex life would be entertaining to say the least. She took a shot of whiskey and decided it was time to have a little fun. Phillip hadn't seen her since before her move to America, so she was in rare form to tease him a little bit.

She put down her glass and glided across the room silently, her pale skin in stark contrast with her dark dress, she must of looked liked a corpse bride on the hunt. She briefly walked close to Asher sliding a hand along his back and giving him a small smile. She would have some fun with him later. She was sure she would be getting into plenty of trouble do to his ... bountiful tastes in women soon enough.

She would intercept the siblings before they could make it to their destination and she gently stepped in front of them giving Phil a hug. She looked over and gave a mischievous smile toward Gen and Imani as she let go. Poor girl still couldn't stand being in public.

"Phillip darling! It has been a while. I can't believe that I haven't heard from you, a lady could get her feelings hurt you know? And Gen, I am so happy to see you out and about, very brave indeed. You have grown so much it truly is astounding!" Cass said, hoping to catch the pair off guard.

Imani saw the pale woman approaching the trio from the corner of her eyes. The way she carried herself and walked over to them while blatantly ignoring her reminded her of her older sister Lara. Lara had been the first one to always remind her that Imani was just a bastard and she would amount to nothing. Lara, who would probably be in this ball.

While the stranger, who she recognized as Cassandra, leaned in to hug Phillip she pulled her arm back from his to let him hug her. Imani just stood there with a small timid smile playing on her lips. The woman in front of her intimidated her, much like Lara had when she was smaller, but she didn't back down. Instead, she cleared her throat and introduced herself.

"Ah, hello. I'm Princess Imani Kore of Massylii- but you can just call me Imani." She smiled at the woman and reached out her hand. There was a colder tone to her voice that was just subtle enough to not be noticed. After all, this woman was a stranger to her.

Cassandra pulled back as the princess introduced herself. She happily took her hand, trying her best not to match Imani's tone. She might as well play with her too. She was Phil's fiance after all.

"I must apologize, but when I saw my old friends I just got to focused. Cassandra O'Brien, Dal Riata, but please call me Cass, royal titles mean very little to me. Phil and I grew up together, even before all this." She gestured to her body lazily. "We were very close. And Gen as well, like a little sister."

She wondered how far she could push this game before Phil stopped her. Hopefully her coming over disarmed him enough to give her a little more time. But for now the princess of Massylii wanted her attention. So she would give plenty of it.

Phillip was, indeed, startled by Cass’s sudden hug and the way she was talking a mile a minute before she’d even released him. A surprised laugh spilled out of him before he felt Imani step away and caught a subtle tensing in Gen’s features.

Inwardly, he winced. Drawing attention to how “brave” it was for Gen to be here—not the best opening salvo. Cass meant well, and Phillip always loved how very much herself she was—but herself was a lot for a pair of introverts.

“It’s good to see you, Cass,” he agreed, moving to put a hand on Imani’s back once more. “I’m sorry it’s been so long.” Raising his eyebrows, he said, “I would like to point out that I’m not the one who decided to base my wildly successful business in a foreign country.”

He smiled, a warm but humored twist of his lips. “You look good.” And she knew she did, of course.

“We were just walking around to see who was here. I promise we would have gotten to you if you hadn’t gotten to us first.” He tipped his head sideways, indicating the princess beside him. “You’re the first person I’ve gotten to introduce to Imani.”

The hand on her back was reassuring to Imani as she watched Cassandra carefully. It only took her seconds to realize she didn't like the woman very much. Although the fact that titles meant nothing to her, she didn't have to be a bitch about it. Imani took a deep breath and a sip of her drink to keep her nerves down. Cassandra was not Lara- Imani had to remind herself of that- and yet her words painted her just like her half-sister. Her words towards Gen had been just as bad.

"It's nice to meet an old friend of Phillip's, Miss Cassandra." Imani kept her tone cool as she continued to call her by her full name. She glanced over to Gen to see if the younger girl was okay. Imani understood her discomfort.

Cass tried warmly smiling to Imani. She was unsure how she felt about the woman so far. She seemed nice, but it felt in a forced way. She didn't know enough about a lot of these people since she didn't care to much on politics outside of what she was forced to learn in case she had to take the throne one day. But this is the woman one of her oldest friends was to marry, she should at least make the attempt to know her.

"Your family has an estate in the Dal. But I must admit, running Janus and has been taxing. Tomorrow will be the first day that I haven't stepped foot in the company. But of course you all are welcome to come visit me at any time, it would mean the world to me. Imani dear, I would like to get to know you better. Now if you must excuse me I will allow you to introduce the lovely lady to everyone else. It was a pleasure, and it was good to see you again Gen. I am sorry if my excitement got the better of me. I was just so happy to see you guys again."

Genevieve seemed to ease. “It was nice to see you again, too,” she said. “I’m sure it’ll be hard to slow down, when you’re used to being so busy.”

"The pleasure was mine, Miss Cassandra." Imani gave Cass a curt nod. Her shoulders relaxed, just the tiniest bit as the woman continued to say her goodbyes.

“Hopefully we can all enjoy the break,” Phillip agreed. Eyeing Cass, he added, “I dare you to stay off of your phone for at least twenty-four hours,” raising an eyebrow in dubious challenge.

"I will do my best, but I am sure I already have missed calls and a pile of emails.if I had known adulting was this hard, I might have made a few more trips to the beach with you. Take care now." Cass turned and felt her phone buzz in her handbag, she fought every urge not to reach for before she was out of eye sight of Phillip and his damn challenge.
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The guest arrived in masses, one car pulling up after the other. Fortunately, the staff seemed to be handling their tasks well as Raven had yet to receive any report that something was wrong. She nodded, smiled, and shook hands with other royals. Some of her closer acquaintances gave more than the standard greeting - something she was grateful for. The young woman was sure that if she heard her title one more time she was going to bash her head against the wall in pure frustration.

The first to arrive - much to Ravens surprise - was none other than Cassandra O’Brien. Her choice of dress seemed more suitable for a funeral, but not everyone saw weddings as a happy occasion. Imani Kore followed the blonde woman in a gown that was absolutely to die for. Erik came after them, addressing Raven and her family in their official titles. She did her best to hide a smirk of amusement, but felt the corners of her mouth twitch despite her best efforts. If she wasn’t mistaken, her mother was wearing a similar expression. Everyone seemed to arrive in their very best clothing. While the greetings were nearly the same, at least Raven could focus on the different styles of fashion.

”You know,” she began, whispering in a voice that only her mother could hear, ”if someone wanted to cause a massive disruption, the castle would be the perfect place to set off a bomb right about now.”

Accustomed to her daughters dark jokes, the Queen simply sighed in response as Christian arrived. Next were the Arcenian princesses. Raven had them on her bucket list of people to talk to at the ball. While she knew Arabelle better than she did Catherine, she was always friendly towards the both of them. Catherine stumbled upon saying her own name - something that Raven found both slightly amusing and cute at the same time.

Standing in one place was becoming tiresome. Ravens feet began to hurt, and she desperately needed something to drink. Her sister had decided to bail out on the welcoming party, however, so Raven was stuck. She tried to pay attention to the small details to keep her brain from melting. Leonor was just a gorgeous as the pictures made her out to be. Maeryn and Raiden had outdone themselves on their outfits. Morrhys insisted on calling her parents mom and dad - something that neither of the elder royals would appreciate. While one day they would have to come to accept it, today would not be that day.

Alejandro was always such a delight, as well as Beatrice and Fareeha. Raven was sure to thank Quentin on his compliment. The Anders siblings were the last to arrive, signalling that she could finally go inside of the ball room.

Surveying her surroundings, Raven seen that most of the royals had already began to mingle with each other. Some met up with their betrothed, others took selfies and pictures of the food to post on Instagram for later. So far the party seemed to be shaping up well. What really caught her eye however, was Arabelle and Eriks quarrel. Though the two of them were speaking in hushed tones and no doubt doing their best to hide it, they had managed to draw some attention to themselves. Catherine seemed to be watching from a nearby table, obviously dreading whatever was about to happen.

While a small voice in the back of her mind told her that it would be customary to seek out Morrhys, Raven found herself walking over to where Cat was, taking a spot standing beside the other woman.

”Tell me… do they do this often?” she asked, taking a glass of champagne from the nearest waiter. ”And if so, how on Earth do you manage not to rip your hair out listening to them?”

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