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Hidden 2 yrs ago 3 mos ago
Zeroth Post

Five Gods. Five Magics. Five Thrones.

From the sparkling cities of the Ensollian basin with their spires and minarets that soar into the burning sun, to the vast golden fields of Crisia and Perrence glistening with morning dew and the promise of bountiful harvests, to the proud stone keeps and snowcapped peaks of Eskand in the South, the land of Constantia is one of balance, peace, and time-honoured virtue, bound together by magics gifted to the Firstborn by the Gods themselves. Honest lords and just kings preside over a loyal, beloved, and industrious populace. All is well.

Except that it isn’t.

Following the collapse of the Avincian Empire a thousand years ago at the hands of howling Eskandish hordes, no single entity has been able to unify the disparate peoples of the continent. Petty nobles, conquerors, and greedy kings have fought for the scraps, ruthlessly exploiting the common people and squeezing everything that they can from the land itself. Under their rule, Constantia has bled.

Their grip on power has been maintained through the stranglehold they have over magic. It has been regulated, controlled, studied and, most importantly, monopolized. The ability to use it manifests in arcane and unpredictable ways, but first and foremost, it’s in your blood. If your ancestors used magic, it is likely that you will be able to use it too. If they didn’t, then your chances are slim.

Yet, the march of social progress necessarily follows that of technological. As Constantian culture, learning, and religion have spread across the globe on the sails of caravels and galleons and a wealthy new class of merchants and artisans has emerged, there have been stirrings. Potent new paths to power and prosperity have revealed themselves, and those of common blood have increasingly bought their way into the use of magic by ‘marrying up’. With or without the approval of those in charge of it, the world is changing. Some people warn that the gods are stirring. Others dare whisper that the gods are not real.

Into this potent mix of burgeoning opportunity and lurking peril steps you: a first-year student at the Ersand'Enise Academy of Thaumaturgy. As a member of the storied establishment's newest cohort, you bring your hopes, your fears, your background, and considerable power in 'The Gift' with you. It is said that your group, aged fourteen to eighteen and born during the double ascendance of Shune the Learner, is the strongest in a century. That strength will be needed. Representatives from the world's great nations will be gathering at Ersand'Enise mere weeks after your arrival for the Conclave of the Five Thrones, and tensions are high.

This time, however, the delegates will need to be protected not only from each other's political machinations but from three new and novel threats. Over the past handful of years, aberrations have begun appearing in increasing numbers and this pattern seems unlikely to reverse of its own accord. Holes in the fabric of reality - shapes of man, beast, and object alike formed of the purest blackness - coming into contact with them can empower the magic of those skilled in The Gift at the cost of addiction. However, it can also drive those not as blessed to insanity or even death. For reasons unknown, but perhaps related, the mysterious yasoi have turned precipitously away from human society. The only other sentient species on the planet to actively live among humans, they have been shy friends and unconventional allies for most of history, but the past few decades have seen them become fiercely insular and even hostile. There is talk of them closing the mountain passes that sustain trade and travel for much of the Western half of the continent. Into this scene steps the Traveler: a shadowy but charismatic figure who has been harnessing the power of the aberrations and stirring up class conflict. He preaches a revolutionary message to the common people that threatens war at a pivotal moment. It is clear that he seeks to tear down the existing order, but what he intends to replace it with is as yet unknown.

Of course, you, dear young student, have nothing to worry about. Heads older and wiser than yours have matters firmly in hand. Still... it pays to be vigilant, doesn't it?


Current Arc: 4 - The Rise and Fall
Current Chapter Cycle: 7 (Castle Mandelein, Cold Comfort, Metropolis); 8 (Primitive)
Cycle Concludes: Friday, July 7, 2023, 2:00 PM GMT-4
Previous Chapter: 6
Next Chapter: 8
Player Characters Active: 16 (full)
  • Students are welcomed back to the academy for their sophomore year. Those who enrolled during freshman year's second semester or as of this year are reminded to report to the Academic Advisory Office in Balthazar Hall to register for remediation.
  • Students may also find their Sophomore course timetables here, at the Registrar's Office in Balthazar Hall. Should they have any questions, they may contact administration.
  • For health and safety reasons, students are advised not to make any contact with or draw magical energies from aberrations of any type. They are to report these immediately to faculty. If this involves a dereliction of academic responsibilities, appropriate notes will be given and no disciplinary action will be taken.
  • Students are advised to avoid lingering unaccompanied in the area around the port of Ersand'Enise known as 'Mudville'.

Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

Member Seen 22 hrs ago

Welcome to Ersand'Enise

The bells of Ersand’Enise were ringing. All over the city, from spires and steeples, windows and minarets, they raised a cacophony of welcome. Multicoloured flags flapped and strained in the stiff breeze and warming rays of sun peeked through the deep grey clouds. They hung low in the heavens, their bellies crackling with thunder.

Penny ran through the streets, skirts swirling about her, drawing a hundred little threads of kinetic energy to let her do with competence what should've taxed her body to its limit. She’d spent a week in this place and, just when she was starting to feel as if she was learning her way around it, she'd managed to get lost. “Excusé, ma’am, Sorry, sir!” She darted and dodged through the milling crowds, nearly catching herself on a decorative iron balustrade in front of a shop. There were so many shops here - ever so many - and most were completely alien to her. With the goal of remaining unrecognized, she’d put herself on a weekly stipend and counseled herself to live frugally. Still, it was rather more coin than she'd ever personally been responsible for. Still, she knew that it paled in comparison to the extravagance of some of these nobles. She’d been learning the shops that sold necessary things and the ones that sold cheaply. As the city’s entire purpose was to serve the Academy, it only made sense that near half of these vendors catered specifically to the needs of those with the Gift.

A horse and wagon clattered by and Penny hurried along in its wake, taking advantage of the temporary gap in the crowds. People walked in groups and chattered excitedly, but she had few such acquaintances. Sienna - Zeno Afraval - was friendly, like an aunt or a big sister. Penny knew that, along with all of the others, she'd be staying in a temporary dormitory for her first handful of days here, before the skill sorting placed her with a master and three other apprentices. The dorms were divided by gender and class - noble, merchant, and everyone else - and, despite being from a minor branch of the royal house of Torragon, Sienna had showed her all of the best rooms. She'd winked and said that she was looking out for a fellow royal, after all.

Penny noted, with mounting unease, that it had been some time since she’d seen a Zeno. They were all gathering behind the parapets now, she knew, officially opening the school to the arriving cohort. Only the nobles received all of the benefits of the procession, and Penny could've gone as a Merchant - the role that she was playing - but she found herself very much preferring to watch. Up ahead, she noticed a couple of frilly dress girls - FDGs, in her mental shorthand - being rushed somewhere by rickshaw. The Perrenchwoman squinted up at the alternating bands of sun and threatening grey clouds and decided to follow. Mostlike, they were headed to the gate, so they could be bundled onto their horses to march through triumphantly with the rest of the highfolk. Everybody liked to pretend that they'd all arrived at the same time and camped outside of the gates, but many of them had been here as long as Penny, possibly longer.

Bustling after them, she began to feel the burn in her single leg and drew once more with the Gift, this time siphoning threads of Magnetic energy ambient in the air from the coming storm and gathering them within herself. She remembered her audience with Zeno - Arch Zeno - Harachorra earlier in the week. She focused on the exercises, taking that energy and restructuring it, reworking it into something else. Her muscles felt light and fresh, her steps felt strong and substantial, and she rushed towards the city walls once she found herself on a familiar main thoroughfare.

Penny arrived at the base of a tower and the guard let her up the staircase with a dubious look. She managed to be only somewhat out of breath upon reaching the top. This wasn’t a plum position, but there were a handful of other non-nobles - merchants, artisans, and commons - who milled about, having chosen not to join the procession, and she found herself feeling like an impostor. Their eyes flicked over in her direction, doing that quick double take that they always did when they realized what was 'wrong' with her. Moments later, she found herself joined by another girl who she didn't know but who had the look of a student. "Did I miss it?" the stranger butted in, and Penny was able to let out a breath and shake her head.

“Non,” she sighed. “Zey are juste taking forever to get on zere stoopid ‘orses and get moving.” She pursed her lips. “All ze better for us, n'est pas? We ‘ad time to get ‘ere.”

The girl blinked and Penny found herself once again self-conscious, this time about the heavy Perrench accent she'd been told to put on as part of her cover, but she suspected that her new acquaintance's Avincian wasn't much better. The Perrench girl blinked and they both burst out in giggles. “You missed nossing,” she said, as clearly as she could, and the other girl smiled sheepishly. “Gods, my Avincian is bad.”

Penny started moving, hop-skipping towards the parapets. “Don’t worry, my friend. I am little better. Now ‘urry, zey are going to start!”

The two girls reached the edge and leaned against it, able to see for miles. Penny’s braid flicked and writhed in the brisk wind like a bronze-coloured snake, and a great rumble sounded from the heavens. Brilliant shafts of light pierced the clouds, dappling the plains where they struck and turning patches of grass into ponds of shifting, whispering gold or green.

A procession wound its way, dual file, down the Godsroad, flanked on either side by lines of heraldry stretching into the distance. At its head was a young man, probably no older than Penny, dressed in a costume renowned far and wide. He pulled back on the reins of his horse – a beautiful, ivory-white plains charger – and came to a halt. Behind him, two-by-two, everyone else did the same. The boy shielded his eyes against the diffuse glare, and peered up at the top of the city’s gate.

A dozen or so people stood atop the pristine white battlements, dressed in the flowing robes that only Zenos and Arch-Zenos of the Academy of Thaumaturgy were allowed to wear. From this group emerged a small, dark-skinned woman of about sixty: Zenith Upta. Her grey, tightly-curled hair was drawn back into a simple bun, but her clothes sparkled with gold inlay and shimmered with dancing magic. She leaned over the battlements, a gust of wind pulling some of her hair loose.

“Who be you?” she shouted, the hint of a smirk lightening her lips.

The boy at the head of the procession bowed low in his saddle with what Penny thought of as a performer's practiced flair. “I am Leon, called le Solaire. These who I am blessed to ride at the head of are the sons and daughters of houses great and small: the first to appear at your gates in five years and the first of those born during the double ascendance of Ahn-Shune-Zept. We are come to Ersand’Enise, humbly asking to be made Biro, to be trained in the Gift.”

The woman raised her hand. “A moment to convene.” She turned around and the group atop the parapets gathered loosely and spoke for a moment. By their easy nature and the shortness of their deliberation it became clear that this was mere ceremony.

Then, the Zenith turned back to face the prospective students and raised both arms in a welcoming gesture. “Travellers, daughters and sons of houses great and small, eager learners, we have decided to receive you. From the moment that you pass through these gates, you will no longer be Torma - the uninitiated - but Biro: students of the magical arts. Over the next five years, we will be ever at your side, helping you to grow and learn, to become women and men worthy of the names and reputations that you bear. We expect that most of you will return to your homes and your duties enriched in knowledge, ability, and spirit, but it is our hope that some of you will remain here and join the ranks of the Zenos. Whatever the future may hold for you, let us entrust it to the will of the Pentad. Now, without further delay, I welcome you, on behalf of every member of the Academy of Thaumaturgy, to Ersand’Enise.”

Of course, there was further delay. Penny knew that the procession would take all day. Sienna - Zeno Afraval - had told her as much. As soon as Zenith Upta raised her hands, the massive, cast-iron gate started to clank open. When it reached the top, Leon took the ceremonial first step across the threshold on his white horse. Penny’s family had horses like that. Absently, she wondered if it might share a bloodline with one of theirs. Then, the trumpets that had been waiting, dull gold beneath the threatening sky, blared a welcome. The Zenos made a show of dispersing the storm. Penny shot her unknown acquaintance a knowing look. One might think that they had conjured it in the first place for the purpose of demonstrating their power.

And with that, the city fairly exploded in colour and sound. Bells rang and people cheered. Flutes, lutes, and drums raised a further cacophony of welcome. Penny stood there, wide-eyed like a child, unable to absorb the whole of it, unable to compare it to anything else that she had ever known. It took her a few moments to pull herself out of her rapture and peer down at the New Gate.

Her sister had met Leon Solaire once, at a private recital in the palace gardens with some of her ladies in waiting, and she had said that he was spellbinding - more than a mere bard. A dramatic shock of dark hair framed a keen, tanned face. He was lighter than your average Torragonese: sandy soil more than tanned leather. He smiled and waved as flower petals rained down from surrounding buildings. And then, the most delightful spectacle as the sunlight hit him and he seemed almost to glow in it.

“So,” said Penny's acquaintance, arching an eyebrow.

“So, indeed,” agreed Penny. She watched Leon a bit longer. “But let’s be realistic here.”

“Pfft,” snorted her fellow admirer. “Dreams are what make life interesting.”

Leon made his way down the street, towards the grand plaza where everyone would gather this evening, and it occurred to Penny that she should find a new place to watch the rest of the procession before everybody else did. “Dreams are good,” she agreed, pushing off from the stone and straightening. Then, a cramp hit her. Her body had given her all that it could for the day and it was finished. Not so for the others, including the girl she had shared a brief conversation with. With a friendly wave, she fluttered away.

Yet, the bells kept ringing. The petals keep falling. Penny wondered just how many flowers had died for this ceremony. All of the people with important families had to be announced. They could not be denied their chance at the spotlight. People who were not as important ran along in front of them carrying brightly-coloured flags and extolling the virtues of the children who sat on the horses. Yet, she could not begrudge them their moment. She had no idea what they were thinking or feeling, but they - like she - had begun their journey at Ersand'Enise and she imagined that it could only be the purest of joys...

Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Jumbus
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Member Seen 18 hrs ago

Leon would have loved to have written his own speech, he really would have. But he didn't only get this speech opportunity from the Revidian Doge, he also probably wouldn't have come to this school without him. Leon had a lot to be thankful for. So, when a Revidian messenger gave him his speech for the opening ceremony, he couldn't refuse. Besides being the first non-noble to do this was a big enough statement in itself. If he were to go too overboard with it, he would risk offending powerful people or even worse. Some jealous noble house could think it a good idea to slip a knife in his back. Leon valued the gifts of the Revidian Doge and more importantly, he valued his life. So he just read the words he was given.

If someone were to ask what Leon was trying to say when he accepted this, Leon would say 'it's up to your interpretation'. It would be the perfect answer really. Leon could say nothing about why he actually took it and the people would draw their own self-fulfilling meaning from it. Plain and simple. In truth, Leon had little to no clue why he did it. To disgrace nobles? No. To empower the common man? No. To lift his own ego? Close, but no. The reality was Leon did have a deeper meaning to it all. Sometimes statements can just be statements, empty of all meaning. Plus it's fun.

In the moments after the speech, there was a delay before they were allowed to ride. Administration delays or something, Leon didn't pay too much attention to it. Instead, Leon admired his horse. An ivory Perrencian breed and a brilliant stallion at that. But most importantly, it was his horse. Leon pulled some strings to take his own horse in the parade, it matched the typical visuals of the leading horse so there was no issue. It meant a lot to him because this would likely be their last ride. Icarus was a travelling horse and had no business being locked in a stable while Leon spent his time away studying. After the parade, Leon would reluctantly hand him back to the caravan. It was for the best. So if this were to be their last ride together, it ought to be a good one. And Icarus was more than trained for the antics Leon had planned.

And they were off. Leon's horse took the first step through the gate, and the city exploded in celebration. Countless people cheering on the new students. Leon was in the front to see each and every one of the adoring masses. He gave out a cheery laugh as he tried to wave to them all. Beneath him, Icarus' training was put into action as he walked down the road with style and panache. Certainly, outside of silly noble traditions, Leon showed himself to be the perfect frontman for this parade.

Leon had his doubts at first, but he felt like he was home already. The large smile on his face grew even bigger by the minute.

It wasn't until he saw some familiar faces in the crowd did Leon decide to begin his actual show. They flew a yellow flag with a white sun on it so Leon could pick them out in the crowd. It was his caravan group, cheering to his right side. He gave a particularly big wave before his smile turned a bit more playfully devious. Taking his other hand off the reins Leon leaned back a little, entirely relying on Icarus' training to keep steady. Leon gazed toward the sky and extended his arms with a slight bend and palms raised sunward. Then, he began unleashing light into the air.

By no means did this look harmful to the crowd, Leon knew better control than that. Although, it certainly would have been startling to some. Multicoloured trails of light took to the sky like fireworks, but more defined so as to see them clearly in the day. While Leon started off with simple trails, he quickly transitioned into drawing shapes and then figures. Animals of light danced across the sky above him. At one point, a knight of yellow fought a dragon of red. Leon created tales of wonder and spectacle for the crowd to see without saying a word.

After only about three minutes, however, Leon stopped. He was a little out of breath after it all but could hide it well. Leon wasn't able to sunbathe quite enough this morning because of the parade preparation, plus solid light in the day sky was a draining feat. It was no wonder he couldn't hold it for too long. He was lucky to have ended on a finale rather than having it fizzle out.

Even if it looked like Leon would be running on low for the rest of the day, it was well worth it. He looked around to see even more cheering and some frozen in awe. But alas, it was back to smiling and waving. He still had a few roses to throw out after all. Leon requested extra.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Dark Light
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Dark Light

Member Seen 7 mos ago


Running late. From Mudville to Ceremony

Travellers, daughters and sons of houses great and small, eager learners, we have decided to receive you. From the moment that you pass through these gates, you will no longer be Torma - the uninitiated - but Biro: students of the magical arts. Over the next five years, we will be ever at your side, helping you to grow and learn, to become women and men worthy of the names and reputations that you bear. We expect that most of you will return to your homes and your duties enriched in knowledge, ability, and spirit, but it is our hope that some of you will remain here and join the ranks of the Zenos. Whatever the future may hold for you, let us entrust it to the will of the Pentad. Now, without further delay, I welcome you, on behalf of every member of the Academy of Thaumaturgy, to Ersand’Enise.”


Oh shite! The ceremony.

A young man let out a startled groan, waking to the sudden realisation of the sounds he had ignored earlier. Bells ringing, people cheering, a cacophony of instruments in the distance. On top of that was the still hush it left behind, an absence of the nearby white noise caused by the usual hustle and bustle that should be there. Either of these anomalies should have alerted him earlier, it should have raised an internal alarm or warning. It was after all the whole reason he was here in this distant strange foreign land. But, as soon as the sounds assault his ears he had muffled them, choosing a peaceful sleep instead. Now sense had found him and panic set in.

He was supposed to be there, he was supposed to be a part of it. Would they not let him in if he was late. Why was he even late. Where was he.

As he breathed he could taste the air. It was thick and musty with the bodily scent of sweat and a tang of ale. A weight rest heavily upon his chest, warm and suffocating, pinning him to the soft mattress bellow. Black silky tendrils of hair danced across his chest as he shoved it aside. He groaned softly from the exertion, freeing himself only to find more restraints entwining and tangling with his limbs from the other side.
With a bit more care he untangle the limbs entwined with his own, gently placing them back with the body from which they were attached. The womanly figure murmured as he did but did not stir, he could not see her face for it was half buried in a pillow and concealed by a mop of unruly red hair.

Ohhhh shite.” he groaned.

Caught between these two seemingly unconscious woman he began to carefully sit up. He had to squint his eyes as they adjusted to the bright light peering through closed shutters and dancing upon the unsettled dust of the room. His head was throbbing, and the room began to spin as soon as he came to stand, causing him to nearly trip over a busty brunette passed out stark naked on the floor beside the bed.

Oh shite, oh shite.” he grumbled regaining his balance and scanning the room with a faint franticism for his missing clothes. If he got out of here quick enough, where ever here was, he could still make the end of the procession. Nobody need know he nearly missed it.
Oh how he wished he had a gift to cure hangovers, although right now even the thought of drawing made his stomach twist. Looking around he decided he would also like to know what happened here.

His belongings were soon spotted in the corner of the room, crumpled clothes, a small satchel and a pair of sturdy worn boots piled beneath a chair. He stumbled over towards them before noticing the two long lithe golden brown legs barring his access. His gaze rose steadily up the body parts to come upon an exotic woman in her entirety. A layer of multicoloured sheer shaw’s were draped over her form offering a (if only very slight) modicum of modesty. Jewellery adorned her wrists and hung low in her neckline, her blonde hair was fashionably fashioned in curls and a tower above her head. A pleasant smile touched her lightly painted lips while her emerald eyes bore into his soul with an intoxicating playfulness.

She was.... familiar.

Ahh shite. Hh, how much do I owe?” Vyrik began to ask, making assumptions about the beautiful woman before him and fearing he had bought more than he could afford. He could not run away without his clothes... could he? It turned out he was only half right.
”Owe?” she asked raising her eyebrows in amusement as Vyrik planned his exit strategy. The beautiful elder woman rolled a delicate hand over to expose a small familiar coin pouch attached to a snapped string. It was not his yet it was also strangely familiar. It jingled with wealth as it bounced in her skilled hands. ”Nothing.” she continued.

Oh shite...” he groaned yet once again, looking upon the small fortune he must have given her last night? yesterday? He couldn’t remember when. It didn’t matter now.
He knelt before her and tried to fish for his clothes until he heard her whisper four simple little words into his ear. Words that that had the power to make him miss the ceremony.

”I... still... owe... you.
her voice was drawn out and held the sultry seduction of one who knew the power of her words and exactly what she was doing. Vyrik’s clothes remained exactly where they were for at least another hour, and it was even later after that before he finally ducked his head out under the doorway and made his way back into the streets of Mudville.
”We’re even now.” a sweet honeyed voice called out to him through a closing door, the womanly words kind but absolute. Vyrik couldn’t be sure if they were. Or even what there was to be even about. He was pretty sure he just had the night of his life but sadly couldn’t remember a thing about it.

The streets he realised were still empty with everyone being at the ceremony. It meant it wasn’t quite over yet.
Vyrik, looking worse for wear, still somewhat dazed, confused and hungover, was standing out in the near empty street alone. Little did he know just how bad his appearance was. He was aware only by the pain but had not yet seen the black ring that supported his left eye or the large bump that had grown on his head. Both due to a beating he hadn’t a chance to try recall just yet. “I. I, think I just had an amazing night... but now I need to get to the academy.
He said aloud to no one in particular, perhaps himself, as he started jogging down the street regretting his life decisions with every thudding footstep.
A procession wound its way, dual file, down the Godsroad, flanked on either side by lines of heraldry stretching into the distance. If he was quick he could just catch the tail end of it. But that would require an exertion of force he just didn’t feel he had...

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Animus
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Animus I live in Singapore.

Member Seen 2 mos ago

Carmillia Carbonneau

Such irrationality, bemused Carmillia as she rode through the Arch of Benedict the Blessed. It had finally come time for the merchant caste to join the procession. As soon as her dedicated crier yelled her name, his voice was drowned out by the blare of trumpets and the cheering crowd. He hadn't even started on her titles. Carmillia found it amusing how well received the new students of Ersand'Enise were by the citizens of the free city. It was unlikely that any of them even knew much of who she was and they cheered all the same. It could be said that Ersand'Enise's very being perpetuated the existence of the caste system. Nobles reigned due to their magical supremacy and while magic wasn't unique to nobles, it was a fact they monopolized it and the majority of the student body were of nobility or those who served them. It felt completely irrational to her that the commoners were cheering for the them, cheering for their future masters. They've been tamed. She sneered inwardly. Carmillia bore no sympathy for these ignorant bottom feeders.

Multicolored rays burst from up ahead, interrupting her train of thought. They came from further down Parade Street, at the forefront of the nobles. The lights contorted and shifted into a multitude of shapes; the flamboyant act garnering loud cheers from the masses. Even before her enrollment, she had heard of him. Her network of spies had obtained slivers of information that indicated he was no mere charlatan. Sunblessed.

Leon Solaire would be a powerful asset if she could obtain him.

"Pentads! Could he even possibly be any dreamier?" asked a girl to her left.

"I wouldn't mind if the Chosen of the Sun chose me to share his bed," said another, this time from her right.

Carmillia had forgotten about them. The two giggling girls continued their swooning. Carmillia held the urge to roll her eyes. "He... is quite a charmer," she added, intentionally adding a hint of hesitancy in her voice. "But I'm not much for the heartbreaker types." It was imperative for Carmillia to maintain a distinguished image and she had no intentions of even entertaining the possibility to be labelled as desperate riffraff.

They giggled in response and the conversation between the three spiraled towards the topic of potential romantic affairs that could occur in Ersand'Enise. Given that there hadn't been much to do before the parade, Carmillia had chosen to mingle amongst the waiting merchants. She had chosen to associate with these two in particular, not due to them being potential profitable prospects but because they were a talkative airheaded duo. They would come in useful in spreading a positive image of herself as well as serve as an informational source of gossip. Carmillia stealthily sent forth a tiny tendril of chemical energy towards them, just enough required to stimulate their hypothalami into producing oxytocin. A useful spell for artificially strengthening friendships. Even surrounded by supposedly talented magi, not one person in her vicinity was aware of her actions.

With her spell now in effect and the conversational topic being remarkably inane, Carmillia let her mouth go on autopilot. She had years of experiencing dealing with such rabble and could entertain them without conscious effort, carrying the conversation as the three of them waved to the cheering citizens. Instead, her focus was on the crowd, her eyes scanning through the throng of bodies.

It didn't take long before she spotted him. Bernhard Holler, one of the several members of The Crimson Hand she had called along. She had them sneak into the free city weeks prior as reconnaissance. Carmillia had multiple avenues of interest in Ersand'Enise and Bernhard and the rest were adept tools at serving her purposes. He nodded at her, indicating they had accomplished their task before he faded back into the crowd. Bernhard would seek her out later, once everything had settled down.

As she stared at his vanishing back, Carmillia could feel a tingle of electricity creeping up her own spine. It was not a spell of the magnetic school being employed on her, no. It was sheer excitement. Her textiles business had been slowing as of late and she had attained all that she could already could in Perrence, given her standing. The past few months had been nothing but dull. But Ersand'Enise would change all that. New and powerful allies for her to groom, status to seize and The Traveler. Numerous reputable sources had claimed the same thing; The Traveler will cross paths with Ersand'Enise.

So much to do and so many things ripe for the plucking.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Medili
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Medili Connoisseur of Fine Pineapples

Member Seen 1 yr ago


It all began with a rather gaudy welcome befitting the equally theatrical procession of new students to the academy, just as she had been told beforehand by her handler. The ringing bells, the voices of the crowd, the flower petals raining down upon the students, all the bright colors typical of a festive celebration. These were all also things that she had been told to expect.

This is... Quite a lot to take in.

And yet despite all the information and expectation she brought with her, it all still felt so weird; almost out of the world even. The last time she had seen this many people gathered together was the day she and the rest of the new candidates of the Lotus Sentry were formally inducted into the organization after a few months of intense training, and even then it had been a rather subdued ceremony despite the great number of people present. It was cold, tense, and spartan that day. The only loud enough noises back then began with the main part of the ceremony: the noises of weapons clashing, screams of the dying, and the cacophony of magic tearing the arena apart. The ceremony that she and half of her peers survived after killing off the other half. Unforgiving, horrible, and heartless. It was a far cry from this procession where joy, excitement, and extravagance reigned supreme. This celebration was a new experience with a bit too much stimulation for her senses. Too much for someone who were trained to be dull to emotions and needless stimulation.

Memories of other, far humbler but just as joyful celebrations surfaced in her mind. Chuseok, the yearly harvest festival celebrated in her home village. Heroes Day Celebration, in honor of the Tan Keoulian heroes who ensured Tan Keoul's independence against invaders. And her own 15th birthday party... It was when she remembered this that the memories wavered, replaced with bleaker ones. A sense of dread started to fill her mind, and she involuntarily flinched as she walked. It was just a few days after that very birthday celebration that Eun-Ji's life were to no longer be her own.

No. There's no point in remembering such things. No point in lamenting what had already came to pass.

With that though, she quickly regained control of her mind, shaking the distracting memories off. She was here in a mission after all, as her commander had repeated again and again to her. A student she might be and study she will indeed, but she must always remember that this were all so that she will be an even deadlier weapon for the emperor and Tan Keoul to utilize.

So there, among the artisans and the other civil servants that made up this section of the student procession, Seung Eun-Ji kept her gaze mostly straight to the front. She tried her best not to attract any attention as she definitely didn't need anymore stimulation considering what were already there were quite enough to discomfort her. Unfortunately, her rather exotic dress wasn't really helping her much with not attracting any attention. Sure, she was far from the only one with exotic appearance in this day and the crowd of students made it unlikely for her to be anyone's specific center of attention, but that fact didn't really help with making her feel anymore comfortable. She hoped that the procession will end quickly, but hoping by itself won't actually affect anything much. So she decided to focus her attention towards the beating of her own heart instead as she walked with the rest of the procession. Thump thump thump. Focusing on the sound of her heart had always been a source of comfort for her. It reminded her that even if her life were no longer her own, at least she's still alive regardless. Thump thump thump thump. Soon enough, all other noises faded away, shut out of Eun-Ji's mind. She continued to walk while performing her own little ritual. A deep breathe in, a deep breathe out, repeated over and over for a minute and finished with a softly whispered mantra. "Long live the emperor, All hail Tan Keoul, For the prosperity of the Lotus we live."

And just like that, she had fully obtained control. The previously overwhelming noises, sights, and vibrations no longer affected her as all became nothing more than barely perceptible distractions. She looked to the side, to where the crowd were cheering the students on. Yet in her eyes, they were as if mere blurred images. Nobody in the crowd were of particular note, as with the noises they made. She continued her observation of the surrounding, all pointless stimulation tuned out from her senses. Here, far behind the noble students, there really didn't seem to be anything much worth of note. If there had been any, her focused mind would quickly pick it out among the insignificant. It would have been like a sharp image among the blurred ones, or a clear sound among the tuned out silence. If only she had been closer, Leon Solaire and the little show he had put on would have been one such sharp image and clear sound, but as it happened she was simply too far away from there.

One with the flow, one with tranquility. Merge with the world.
One with the heaven, one with Dunjia. And the world will declare to you its shape and voice.

Thus Eun-Ji continued walking with the procession among the artisans and other civil servants, senses at peace yet also focused. One of the five hundreds, moving onward to the plaza that was to be their destination.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Izurich
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Izurich 7/8 Weeb

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--Waterborne Fireblood--

For the last week, Ilannaq Sigmundottir - colloquially known simply as "Anna" - had been regularly diving into the Ensollian Sea, collecting various trinkets and souvenirs of the ocean, as well as sketching those that she couldn't collect. The sea around Revidia was deeply different than back home, warm and mild compared to the freezing cold that was Rettan's oceans. In fact, she found out that Revidian oceans were safe to explore all year long as opposed to Rettanese where it'd be far too cold to dip into during certain seasons, particularly Hundri and Somnes. Furthermore, due to the vastly different climate, the maritime ecosystem here was quite distinct than Rettan, making for a fresh and exciting underwater adventure. She ought to send some of these back to her parents, especially her mother as the woman was a passionate aquaculturist.

Of course, as avid of an marine explorer as she was, Anna never slacked off in her studies, particularly now that she'd soon begin her enrollment at the most prestigious Magus Academy in the world in the short future. Always an independent young girl, even during the days leading to the entrance ceremony, she self-tutored herself through the tomes and scrolls she had acquired over the years, a significant chunk of them were about the Arcane and Chemical schools of magic, her specializations. She matched theory with practice too as she regularly trained her magic almost everyday; drawing, containing, (sometimes) converting, and casting, these essential four steps for any magus worth their salt. Rarely a day was spent without at least an hour of magical practice as the white-haired teenager flung flaming bolts, lobbed spheres of fire, conjured infernal pillars, and summoned volatile meteors.

An observer might think that she was just a diligent aspiring mage - which she was - but there was yet another factor that incentivized her assiduity, although she kept this one close to her heart, no one else knew, except for herself and Eshiran of course. You see, Anna had a peculiar craving for magic, the casting phase of magic in particular, one might even say that it's an addiction as it's something she must eventually do lest she risked worsening withdrawal symptoms; ranging from restless fidgetings to an overwhelmingly powerful urge to cast a fireball right then and there, regardless of the consequences, the latter could be disastrous in certain situations such as a crowded hall. On the flipside, she received a pleasurable sensation unlike any other whenever she does cast, further reinforcing her habit of practicing often.

Fortunately, her line of study mandated her to cast and practice if she wanted to progress, so it's a win-win for both her career and needs. She never had trouble with this quirk of hers and foresaw it would never ever be. Twas' simply a small price to pay for the boons she had received from Eshiran, a form of devotion she must show to the Destroyer. Well then, just you wait, o Almighty Eshiran of the Pentad, she would realize the destiny that you had given her.

--Entering the Magus Mecca--

Now, it was finally time for Eshiran's Chosen to step forth into Ersand'Enise, the Academy for Magi, its prominence was undeniable through the fact that even the second most prestigious magic academy couldn't hold a candle against Ersand. Her enrollment here was no mere coincidence, the Destroyer had shown the path she must take to be the best scion as she could be and who was she to refuse a god's wish? With enthusiasm, Ilannaq donned her magus robe and wide-brimmed pointy hat, then curled a wide cheery grin in front of her bedroom's full-body mirror before she headed out, setting forth into the sunlight to join her fellow students.

Some time later, the white-haired teenager was among the one-hundred-fifty or so students belonging to the Merchant Class. As according to tradition, she was given a mount of her own, a beautiful light brown mare with a fiery reddish-orange mane, such a fitting steed for someone like her. She accepted the ride wholeheartedly and strode with pride, surrounded by a cheering audience as her group passed under the Arch of Benedit the Blessed. It was everything she could hope and more. Yes, yes! There's no doubt about it, this was where she belonged! Her parents had always told her that she's special from the moment the saw that flames seemed to obey her whims, and they were absolutely right!

"Hailing from Rettan! Lady Ilannaq, Daughter of Sigmund!" The crier declared her name, having an easier job than some of the nobles due to her lack of noble titles. She'd have liked "Chosen of Eshiran" to be thrown alongside it, but there was no need to be so ostentatious~

"Hmmm~" Getting a little fun idea, courtesy of that light show by that Leon Solaire person, Anna decided to perform a little spectacle of her own (and also an excuse to cast more spells). Taking out her trusty wand, she twirled them a few times in her deft right hand then pointed it upward while flexing her arcane muscles simultaneously. She drew from the ambient heat around her, an elementary endeavor in a clear sunny day, contained it within her body, and then cast! "Blaze forth, Fenrir!" She enunciated her focus words and not a second later, a swirls of flames resembling the silhouette of a wolf flew forth from the tip of her hand. Anna shuddered as she felt that tingle traveling up her spine, that pure pleasure that she could never get tired of.

"Ehehehe~!" Giggling mirthfully, the Fireblood swung her wand like a conductor as the fiery wolf began prancing on the air above her; dashing, pouncing, and rolling as according to its mistress' command. Yes, between Rettan and Ersand, she had finally found her second home.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Bork Lazer
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Bork Lazer Chomping Time

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A Prologue


In his first day of arrival at Ersand’Enise, Onarr was expecting to explore the sights and sounds of the famous magical academy that many families had paid pounds of gold and limb for to send their supposedly gifted children to. Perhaps, peruse the Belsarra River. Head over to the Merchants Quarters to buy some sundries. See if he could even manage to trek all the way to the Violet Enclave.


What he did not expect, however, was his day to be ruined by an abominable avian . The bird, which had led him now to the Arboretum, was currently berating him with loud, chortling squawks as he continued to run after it. In its orange beak, his bascinet rattled precariously in its grasp, the top of the helmet every so often colliding with the cobblestone pathways. He’d swerved around a tree, knocking past confused students and teachers. His arms were raised up to hide his face whilst his eyes struggled to keep an eye on the tiny white feathered gremlin that had stolen one of his most prized possessions.

His breath quaked as he saw it dive towards the middle of the lake in the Arboretum. Its wings fluttered as it touched down onto the edge of the lake.

It couldn’t be doing what he thought it was going to do. He briefly considered breaking his one rule, imagining the satisfaction he would get from turning the bird into a roast dinner. Charge gathered in his hand and then dissipated, halting the process of drawing magnetic energy in the poles of his fingers.

No. If he had done that, it would let that damn goose win.

The goose, however, had taken advantage of his momentary hesitation, tucking its wings in before swimming gently towards the centre of the lake, beak still grasping his prized bascinet. It then turned around to stare at him tauntingly. A good five seconds passed between the both of them. His heart skipped a beat as the goose’s beak opened and the bascinet dropped into the water. The dark water swallowed it with a burp, bubbles floating to the surface as Aldrr’s gift sunk into the phantom depths.

The goose gave one more satisfied honk before swimming away leisurely.

“ Fuck,” Onarr whispered softly, stepping towards the shore slowly. He could feel his father already shouting in his mind and the countless lessons he gave him on the value of good steel and his brother -

His breath paused as the smell of ozone poured out from his sweating palm.

His brother’s gift.

Onarr clenched his fist, breathing in, before taking a look around to make sure no one was looking. He dipped his finger into the rich blue water, ripples fanning out, before beginning to loosen his tunic with a grimace.

Someone had to have swam here before, right?

Two weeks later

Thank Shune he had the foresight to construct a periscope, or otherwise, he would have been the first student of Ersand’Enise to have lived through the most boring induction ceremony. The top of his scope peeked out from the top of the crowd as he watched the proceedings occur. The streets of the academy were currently filled with throngs of Biro initiates who were eagerly waiting for their names to be announced to the world.

Well, multiple names in the case of the nobles and merchants. Nobody heard the sign that was muffled by Onarr’s bascinet as he ground his teeth at this meaningless superfluous exercise. What interested him more, though, was watching the demonstrations of the Five Magics at work. An amateur would marvel at the spectacle but Onarr’s mind raced at the spells, the framework required to pull the displays off. He lowered down the periscope carefully to adjust the lens before looking up again to see the fiery jaws of a canine engulf the air.

Fascinating. A shame he’d never mastered Arcane magic like his father and his grandfather before him.

Onarr briefly tightened the straps that held his cloak to his linen tunic, closing it around his tiny figure. It was cold here in Ersand’ Enise compared to the plains of Joru and Belzagg. He didn’t know whether that would extend to the reception he would get. He heard the applause and cheers noticeably dim as the merchants took their lieu after the nobles and then, the civil servants. It quickly became less of a ceremony and more of a formality as they climbed down the ladder of social hierarchy. Still, most of the artisans and civil servants around him just looked grateful to be even here at all, smiles of relief and pride on their faces. His time in the Joruban Stresian Order made him forget how knowledge and aptitude couldn’t balance the field between those with little in their pockets and overflowing pockets.

It was maddening. It was irrational. But as his tutors always said, the wheels of progress moved slowly and subtly and that moving that faster could prove precarious for Constantia.

He’d managed to huddle his way past people to the front of the crowd that made up the artisans and civil servants. For once, his small size proved his advantage.
His name passed by in a blur. They didn’t even pronounce it properly. Credit to the crier for remembering he was from Belzagg but you didn’t click your r’s for a name of Eskandish origin. Charge briefly curled up in his palm like a coiled spring as he walked under the watching gaze of the Zenos and the crowds who were now chattering with one another instead of focusing on the biros.

Perhaps, he’d ought to give them a performance.

But, it’d been 8 years since he threw lightning and he wasn’t about to have a repeat of the accident again.

He breathed out, charge hissing out into the ground and settled for a little bow to the attending Zenos before joining the procession ahead.

“ Honk!”

His back froze as he heard that damnable noise again. He searched until he saw a white speck on top of one of the brick-red roofs. It was the goose again, staring down directly at him. Instead of looking at him with a mocking gaze, the goose peered his neck to crane to look at him with…what? Curiosity? Pensiveness? Sympathy? He wasn’t an ornithologist nor a Stresian naturalist. He couldn’t decipher the intent behind those beady black eyes.

Then, he felt himself being shoved forward, losing sight of the goose, and turning back to see a dark-skinned Belzaggian.

“ Ay! Waas vyetig, fool!”

“ Jannag,” He coughed out his half-hearted apology, ignoring the glower from his fellow East Severan.

He couldn’t wait to be in the company of a quiet library rather than a loud crowd.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Dark Light
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Dark Light

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He was going to make it. The tailing end of the procession was within his vision now as he ran down the street. They were not yet all at the academy. He found new hope and energy in seeing it, for the people he was seeing were clearly of his mother’s homeland. He knew this instantly. They had proudly brought home with them, displaying their significant style and traditions like a badge of honour, holding onto them firmly as his mother had. They were solid and strong people, of mind and body. Vyrik may have been biased though, being half Eskandish himself. His mother had romanticised her homeland to him and the beauty and purity of its people. If fate had not sent him here, that’s where he would be right now.

The men were in trousers and tunics, whilst the women dressed in strap dresses made of what he imagined to be local Eskandish wool and flax. The odd wealthy individual who walked amongst his country men of all standings, stood out by the silk and gold threads that ran through his clothing or the foreign jewellery that adorned hand and neck. Then there were the furs of different animals, and if what he was taught was true, each animal was either once a beloved companion or a fierce foe now honoured in death.

It was partly why Vyrik had liked to collect feathers. That and how he longed to fly and be free like a bird.

With his new found energy he began to draw. He used the sounds of his destination to power his muscles to get him there. He started to feel light and was making great leaps in no time. That was when his stomach decided it had had enough. He was forced to end one of his jumps early so he could get rid of what he hoped was the last of last nights alcohol on someone’s doorstep. His throat stung and a putrid taste hovered on his tongue. Oh how he really need to start studying chemistry seriously.

He looked up and noticed he was in a fancier district. The houses had balconies and some of those had people in them who eyed him suspiciously. He shrugged it off and took to running and leaping again. Drawing even more this time to make for lost distance. He was growing so close now but also so was the end of the ceremony. It seemed as if the last of the Eskandish stragglers were about to be sent through. He could almost make out the names being called. Bystanders and joyous onlookers were now an obstacle in his way, growing denser as he grew closer. Vyrik was forced to leap higher, jumping over people’s heads now. Landing, running and then jumping again.


It all happened so fast, he was finally there, he just hand to land and he would have made it. All the students and powerful teachers were gathered here before him. He was struck with awe by the sheer amount of people and excited energy buzzing within the grounds and great buildings as he flew through the air. As his feet touched the ground he was utterly startled by the person appearing before him seemingly from thin air. Preloaded with energy and without time to think he simply expelled instead of slowing himself, shooting up into the air where an unexpected vibrant display of light power immediately went off right near his face, accidentally or deliberately he did not know. This sent him careening off to the side blinded and shaken. He half expected to hit a wall but instead was sent spinning over a balcony after it bashed into his thigh. But before he went tumbling to the elevated floor he felt body on body contact.

First fear of utter embarrassment had him. He was at the back, surely no one would have noticed. WAIT! Did he just knock someone off the balcony!? How high up was he? Is anyone else up here with him. Eyes still stinging and blurry he frantically reaches out in the direction of the body he may of hit.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Theyra
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Karim Nazeri

Finally, it is happening. Karim thought as his horse walked past the gate with the rest of the merchants. A big smile on his face as he greeted with bells, flutes, lutes, drums, and more. It was quite the sight for him and quite the fanfare. To think that his arrival to the city just three days ago was so silent compared to this. Granted, that was what he wanted. Not wanting to attract attention to himself as he arrived and scoped out the city that he would be living in for a good while. So he would not be lost easily since this will be his new home after all.

Regardless, Karim was just enjoying himself and looking at the crowd. Wearing his usual attire, and would sometimes wave back at the crowd. He was in the middle right of the merchant group, and a small part of him felt bad for the rest of the procession, being him that forced to walk instead of being on horses. Being welcomed to this great city and the academy only to be reminded of their place beside the nobility and fellow merchants. A shame, really but, nothing he can do really. The only thing he can do is have a good time today.

If only his family could be here and see him like this. That would something, even if his siblings are.... well, maybe it is a good thing they are not here. He could tell when he made his goodbyes to his family when they arrived with him to the city that his siblings were annoyed. Shame about that and nothing he could control or make better. But, Karim chose to get rid of this thought. This is not the time to be sad. Now is the time to be excited and happy. So with a renewed vigor, Karim went back to waving and smiling at the crowd.

Then, Karim was spotted a light explosion and looked up to see it. Hoping to catch the sight of it only to a guy in the air, and this person ended up crashing on a balcony, almost knocking someone over the edge. Karim watched the whole thing and while he wished to do something about it. Like seeing if people were okay. He could not quite reach it because the balcony from where he was in the procession. So Karim just watched from afar, and he did get a look at the flying guy's face. If he can, Karim wants to find that person after this is all over. See if he is okay and why he chose to fly into the air like that. Nothing like crashing into people and nearly knocking someone over a balcony to start things.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Noxious
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Noxious ᴅ ᴇ ᴀ ᴅ ish

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It was to be her privilege and duty to lead this year’s class of Eskandish. Nerves nibbled against the honor of it all, but not near so much as her Mother, who seemed only satisfied to devour as much as she could. When Anesin had begun planning travel arrangements, months ago, it had been with a glee and pride sustained by independence; but alas, that was not yet hers to claim. In a flourish her Mother had set up all of their travel, and their temporary boarding and if that had not been enough of an over step she was often heard referring to the ceremony as their big day. Anesin knew better than to voice her opposition to this minor mutiny because her Mother would simply wave a dismissive hand and claim that she was being a petulant child. Instead Anesin adorned the practiced smile and grace of acceptance. After all, it was not forever. Surely even her Mother’s influence would not allow the woman to move into the student dormitories.

And now, as Anesin sat upon the fur lined stool while her Mother paced, she was counting down the hours. It was three hours and twenty one minutes before she mounted Draugar and waved goodbye. She felt it would be the most prodigious goodbye in her life and she wanted to savor it as such. The refined Margravine was scowling over the lady maid's shoulder as she applied the traditional runes to Anesin’s face, chest and arms. They were an inky black made from char and oil and they heavily contrasted against her pale skin. They were keys to a destiny, to a story, one that they would fail to communicate to the majority of people who would be present. But they were a part of this moment for Anesin, and for her people. Her Mother was switching between criticizing the work of the remarkably unflinching woman and going over exactly what Anesin was expected to do and say. Anesin was thinking of Fradje Ironshaper.

As was custom the Eskandish gathered together at the end of the parade line. Anesin stood near the front, chatting here and there with people that approached. Her mother hesitated among the group and for a moment Anesin thought she may take the reins from her hand and mount Draugar herself. But after a few moments of indecision, she gripped Anesin’s forearm and pressed her forehead to her daughter’s, having to crane upwards to meet Anesin’s height “I know that you will make me proud little one.” Then her Mother was gone to her arranged balcony.

“I thought she might never leave,” the voice came from a formidable looking girl at Anesin’s side and immediately called forth a laugh from them both.

"Inga. Did they allow no attractive Eskandish to accompany me on this endeavor?” Anesin was joking of course, even with a merchant title Inga was being sought as a suitor quite intensely and was often present at Court events. This had made them quick friends.

Inga responded with a nod of her head, indicating a specific person in the sea of Eskandish. "I did notice that the Third born of Duke Vilulf made the cut your Grace. He’s quite the looker.” As those glacier eyes followed her friends motion she took in the boy, not for the first time, a blush of appreciation creeping over her pale cheeks. He stood almost as tall as a bear, and assuming he filled out like his brothers he would soon be an even closer comparison. Currently there were a couple of Eskandish girls fawning over him.

"He is quite confident for a Third born isn’t he?” Anesin offered the dismissal and hoped Inga had not noticed the blush beneath the runes. Didn't need any rumors of courtship starting on their first day. Inga either didn't notice, or politely ignored it and carried on. Just as the girls were getting prepared to gossip into the twilight the melodic hum of that katterhorns broke through. Anesin hastily grabbed the arm of Inga and pushed their foreheads together. "May the Bear not devour you, but walk your path.”

"And may he also walk with you.” With that final comment Inga was gone, everyone was moving to their placement. Her distractions faded into place behind her and left her to stare down the parade route. She leapt to grab the saddle horn and pulled herself upon her mount. The mountain of Thunderhoof beneath her, aptly titled Draugar, was no more prepared for this than Anesin was, but he was practically vibrating with energy and wasted no time joining the procession. As they stepped out from beneath the shade of where they had gathered she gave a small sigil of thanks for the overcast day so that she would not melt before they reached the Gates. The loud and bright nature of the Greenlands and their celebrating was jarring, especially when followed with the deeper horns and chanting of Eskandish songs. The juxtaposition was not entirely uncomfortable though, it felt like an oddly soothing transition towards their future.

Druagar was not soothed, in fact he almost seemed to take this parade as an insult. In fairness, he hailed from the bloodline of the Fury of Eskand and this was beneath his skills. She made allowances for the restless gait and cantered to the left side of the crowd, the horse rushing forward at the opportunity, and then she flicked the reins and off they went to their right, each time Draugar fully comiting to dive into the crowds before Anesin again twitched the reins and they were front facing once again. It did little to quell their apprehension, but both rider and mount were thankful even for small discords in this overwhelming cacophony of pomp and circumstance. As they got closer to the gate she looked backwards at the Eskand’s who would be with her and gave an almost bow. Furs and feathers, bones and paint… they weren't the savages that people made them out to be. They were a community. There was the common hall. They drank together. They told loud stories of monsters and men that both seemed to grow larger and larger by the year. They sang songs of myth and legend that carried a tune that matched their icy weather. And warmth wasn't a thing you received from the sky or from music. You received it from each other. She felt that they were losing some of that now. Five years.

"The Houses of Eskand, led by Anesin Bjelke, successor to the Margravine of Hrothgar."

She needed to look forward, and so she did. On the outside she was ever the measure of a noble leading her people. A hooded cloak of woven spider silk and snow white owl feathers covered hair of an even paler shade. Her eyes remained stoic, even as her lips forced into a gracious smile. Those same eyes would occasionally catch those in the crowd and she would offer a measured incantation of her head in response. There was nothing to see beyond her façade, not a single crack on the surface. But beneath... an unfamiliar pang of homesickness struck her as soon as she passed through those gates. Five years was a long time, and she was unsure if the sun would be enough to alleviate the ache of Eskand.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by annaplz
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annaplz help me

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Mayu Iovina

As her family was of relatively high rank, Mayu Iovina was positioned near the front of the procession. This essentially gave her front row seats to Leon Solaire's dazzling light show. Mayu couldn't help but gawk at the remarkable display of arcane magic. Rainbow colored animals pranced about in the air, some of which she had never seen before. It was only due to a flutter of movement under her mantle that she broke out of her trance. Mayu glanced nervously around, wondering if anyone had noticed.

Hidden under her mantle was a snow white kitten. A fluffy little critter she had encountered a week ago, on the day she arrived the free city. Mayu had just spent the day touring the docks and was in the midst of preparing seafood pottage with freshly procured ingredients when she had heard mewling from outside her lodging. She had investigated out of curiosity and came face to face with a pair of pleading green eyes. Much like herself, the kitten was tiny and alone and Mayu found herself sharing her pottage with him. Enamored with her—or more likely her cooking—Mayu now had an unexpected but welcome companion. She decided to name him Cumin, since the white ball of fur reminded her of cumulus clouds and coincidentally, cumin had been one of the spices in the pottage.

"Stop it!" she whispered sternly. "You're going to get me into trouble."

Cumin mewed back in response and Mayu detected a hint of annoyance from him. Being balled up in her stuffy mantle whilst she rode a horse was probably anything but comfortable. She softened her tone, "Please keep quiet, you're the one who wanted to come along after all." In an attempt to placate Cumin, she drew heat away from the air around him, hoping the cool air would alleviate some of his discomfort. It seemed to work as he stopped fidgeting shortly after. Satisfied, she turned her attention back to the crowd.

It was not that long ago that Mayu had been overcome with anxiety at the prospect of attending a prestigious school in a foreign land. Hence, she was pleasantly surprise when she found out that the attitude the citizens had towards her was nothing short of welcoming. The cheering crowd reassured her; it did not matter where she came from and what the other nobles whispered. What mattered was that Mayu was here, parading towards Ersand’Enise, with a heart full of hope, a mantle full of fur and a reticule full of cookies she made the night before.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by SilverPaw
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Linah Aranda

Linah was leaning against the galleon’s railing, right elbow digging onto the wood as it supported her head, and left hand partially hanging off. She enjoyed the sea breeze, the saltiness in the air oddly appealing, and the occasional splash resulting from a particularly unruly wave more than refreshing. She mostly stared at the vast, seemingly endless stretches of water. During the day, when there were no landmarks around or no one passing them by, it was as if they were in a separate realm of their own, just them, the people on the ship, and the ocean beneath them.

It was during this strange mood of hers that Mr. Valverde found her. He was one of Na’ir’s servants, and the only person accompanying her. Officially, he was here to ease he journey; to make all the necessary arrangements for travel, manage the finances, negotiate with officials or merchants, and similar tasks. Unofficially, though everyone involved knew about it, he was there to keep an eye on her. To prevent her from ‘running too wild’ as Na’ir often worried she might when left to her own devices. Really, the man needn’t worry. She may be many things, but an idiot wasn’t one of them.

“Ah, miss Aranda, here you are, after all,” the refined (if somewhat sweaty and windswept) middle aged man greeted her. His lips twitched into a barely-there smile, but the corners of his eyes crinkled in genuine emotion.

She’d heard Valverde’s measured footsteps, and had turned towards him upon arrival, nodding. Addressing him verbally, she asked, “What is it?” and despite the brusque address, her tone was kind. Her expression had relaxed from the pensive frown it’d been set in previously as soon as she’d noticed him.

Gael Valverde looked at her carefully, assessing. “Is something the matter?” he inquired quietly.

Linah tilted her head to the side briefly. There was a reason that this man in particular had been trusted to watch her; he was observant and unafraid to pry. “No, I was only thinking,” she shrugged lightly. “This is pretty new to me,” she gestured at everything, the sea and the ship, “But, well, it is the one ship.” Unsaid was that she was getting restless, feeling cooped up a bit despite the vessel’s size or the incomprehensible immensity of the sea. Not that she was unfamiliar with the latter, having lived so near the coast, but she’d certainly not sailed anywhere previously.

Valverde nodded as if he understood her perfectly. Well, he probably did know enough of what she was like. She enjoyed being involved, and though she’d had fun chats with the sailors whenever they were off duty, it just wasn’t…there was that unspoken rift, that their work and lifestyle was and would forever remain foreign to her. Lin didn’t believe it had to be that way, but then again, a few days’ journey really wasn’t the time for her to try integrating herself with the seamen.

“Understandable, I myself vastly prefer the solid ground beneath my feet,” Valverde commented, and gestured for her to follow.

“Oh, it’s lunchtime?” Linah guessed.

Gael nodded, “Indeed.” Lin saw a brief flash of hesitance on his face; he pursued his lips as if he were about to open his mouth, but stopped himself in time.

“If you want to say something,” she said slowly, with deliberation, “don’t hold it back. No need to be all that politic when it’s just the two of us,” she offered.

“Ahh,” the man sighed, wry. “Margarita has been antsy, I’ve been told,” his voice was reluctant, lips pressing together after his admission.

Margarita was the dapple gray mare travelling with them. Na’ir had sent her with them just to artificially elevate Linah (literally and metaphorically) during the procession of the Academy of Ersand’Enise’s opening ceremony. She understood the gesture, but nevertheless thought it a bit silly. Still, given how she’d grown to love riding despite learning ‘late’ (but only according to the standards of nobles, or families like Yazath’s), she hadn’t forth any complaints. She’d arrive at the City of Ersand’Enise four days before the opening, which would be plenty of time to ride Margie to her satisfaction. “Well, I’m not surprised she got fed up staying here,” Lin said, though her eyebrows had risen up. “A ship’s no place for a creature,” she stated. “Yet, she was fine this morning,” she added, tone puzzled and questioning.

“Perhaps she can sense we are nearing the land,” Gael offered.

Linah doubted it, but said nothing. “Either way, I’ll check in on her after lunch.”

“I’d appreciate it. She’s especially fond of you. Not so of strangers – nearly kicked a man’s face in, I was told.”

Lin laughed. “Well, I’ll do my best to prevent any future injuries. Won’t be long now, as you’ve said.”

Their conversation petered out as they made it to the mess deck, joining in with the other personnel to eat. Linah was slowly but surely onset with excitement; as soon as the next morning, they would arrive at Ersand’Enise. There would be many things for her to do there, while she waited for the ceremony. Getting herself acquainted with the city, perusing the famous Merchant’s Quarter, get Margie properly exercised…Oh, yes, much to look forward to.


Sooner than expected, it was the day of their official welcome as students. Linah sat comfortably atop the saddled Margarita, who was behaving quite well, despite the crowd, being forced to a slow walk, and the duration of the whole event itself. They trailed at the end of the merchant crowd. Though she didn’t quite belong to that class, she’d been told there would be a few other non-merchants mounted. Besides, not many people paid attention to her specifically. Even if they had, she’d been trained sufficiently that she’d not let her discomfort show regardless.

Admittedly, there was plenty to divert her attention. At the front, there was a speech (she presumed), and then the leader of the group performed a magnificent light show. Leon Solaire…She’d heard of him, of course. Besides admiration for his magical skills and excellent showmanship, she didn’t have much of an opinion on him. He did seem the sort who’d be good to make an acquaintance of, so Lin supposed she’d have to put in some effort to do so.

One other followed Leon’s lead, and created a fiery wolf. Appreciative, Lin lightly clapped, many others doing the same. Some had been emboldened when they saw someone beside the famous performer doing his bit, and followed the second’s bravery. Linah amused herself by comparing the spectacles by their aesthetic, inventiveness, and skill involved.

The only thing that slightly soured her mood, was when the crier called for “The Torragonese Lady Linah Aranda, patroned by Na’ir Yazath!”

Of course, the infuriating man had to have his name added. Scoffing under her breath, confident that no-one would hear her, she returned her gaze to the sky, letting herself enjoy the remaining examples of what competitive beginner students of magic could create for fun when they put their minds to it.

Since she had her head tilted up, she saw when some boy was catapulted through the sky and right into one of those light shows. What, a failed stunt? she wondered. Lin followed his flight trajectory, feeling very much confused and a tad horrified as he sailed through the skies. When she saw him knock into the balcony where the nobility was, the dread was so acute, she had to avert her eyes. She blinked her eyes quickly, pretending the light had dazzled her.

As she sat there, thinking on the scene, her heart begun beating faster, her throat suddenly dry. She’d merely seen it happen, and she wanted to escape. Oh, that poor boy…Barely arriving at the academy, and he’d already committed social suicide. Linah sighed, and with a barely visible shake of her upper body, put the recent memory out of her mind. While she was aware she could help, she wouldn’t stick her neck out just because she’d felt a brief pang of sympathy for a stranger. If he lived to tell the tale, and didn’t become an outcast based on this events, perhaps she could ask him some time what he’d thought he’d been doing, making such a fool of himself.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by Zombehs
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Zombehs One clown circus

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Nerio Luchessi
For someone who apparently did not know how to ride his horse properly, Nerio had little problem in staying mounted and comfortable as the procession slowly wound its way through the town and arrived before the Academy proper. With both legs on one side of his steed as he sat on it sideways, the horse hardly seemed bothered by the unbalanced way he sat on the saddle. As the nobles before him filed through one at a time, he leaned forward, propped his elbow up on a knee, and covered up a wide yawn that almost had him tearing up a bit. His eyes and attention wandered as he waited patiently for his turn, and he didn't hesitate to wave and smile out into the crowd. It was no hero's homecoming, but the similarities were there and who was he to deny the celebratory atmosphere in the air.

"Presenting, Nerio of House Luchessi!" He raised his head slowly as his name was finally called out and with a patient smile, he leaned backwards a bit and patted his horse's side. It was one that had been given to him for the occasion as he was never much of a rider. He liked animals though, and a week of riding around town with the creature had been enough for the two to come to an understanding of sorts. Setting off at a steady pace, the horse was well trained and had participated in the ceremony five years prior, so it had little trouble in keeping with the rest of the nobles.

As he passed through the city gates, Nerio smiled at the crier and gave a slight nod of thanks. His introduction had been short and simple, avoiding any of the titles he had garnered from his time in service. It would be a bit needlessly provocative to remind the Perrench in attendance of how he had profited at their expense. After all, he could already see some cold expressions in the otherwise cheering crowds that lined the procession. He shook his head slowly to dismiss them from his thoughts for the moment though. This was supposed to be a momentous occasion and he raised a hand towards the rose petals that showered down around him. The sheer energy exuded by the crowds gave him plenty to work with, but that was just the easy part. The hard part was to snag each of the petals as they fluttered and danced in the wind and bend them to his will without simply tearing or crushing them apart.

What should have been a rain of rose petals was instead turned into a flowing stream of red that moved in tune with each flick of his hand. Tracing his name through the air in Avincian for all to see before he guided it down towards him. He leaned his head forward just enough for the gathered crown of rose petals to set itself on his head before he bowed to the surrounding crowds. Nearly tipping from his horse, but almost floating back into place as he sat up straight once as his horse cleared the gates for those that would be coming afterwards.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago Post by TheMushroomLord
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TheMushroomLord I am me... I hope.

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Yimu Pan

Yimu had considered simply not showing up for the entrance ceremony at all, or at least not until it was well underway. From what she’d been able to gather, it sounded like it’d be a massive waste of time, time that could be better spent immersed in one of her new books or practising magic. Still, as tantalising as the idea of just skipping the event entirely to do something more worthwhile was, she hadn’t entertained it for long, it wouldn’t be worth her missing some important announcement after all… probably.

She glanced up at the clouds, wary of how dark the were and hoping it wouldn’t start to rain any time soon. That would only make the ceremony more miserable and she’d brought a couple of the new books she’d aquired through somewhat dubious means with her. In the event it started to rain, she supposed she could simply create something to encase her books, so she wasn’t too worried about the books getting damaged, but it would mean she’d be stuck without anything to read.

Pushing thoughts of the weather aside for the moment, Yimu turned to observe her cohort for the entrance ceremony. As expected the event was divided by class and looking about she noted that there were only a couple dozen other commoners present, insignificant in number when compared to any of the other more elite groups. Even having already had a few weeks to adjust to things it still felt weird being in a place where the social classes, were almost totally reversed from what she was used to, at least in terms of numbers, and Yimu wasn’t quite sure whether she should find the fact that commoners were in fact not all the common amongst students amusing or be annoyed that it meant having to deal with nobility.

The others around her it seemed had mostly already formed up into groups or otherwise seemed content to stand on their own, Yimu noticed more than a few of the students avoided meeting her gaze and the particularly wide gap between where she stood and the nearest of the social groups, but shrugged it off. Most of them had taken the effort to dress up, or at least what passed as dressed up by common standards, and by comparison, Yimu was a dishevelled mess, having left for the entrance ceremony in the exact same state as she’d woken and wearing the same clothes as she’d worn throughout the several days prior. She was clean at least, if only because magic made such things trivial, but any effort beyond that would be a waste of time as far as she was concerned.

Yimu was drawn out of her observations as the ceremony finally began proper, some kind of formalised greeting, Yimu only half-listened to, between the Zenith and someone guy Yimu immediately dismissed as, just another rich kid. As pretentious as the whole thing seemed, Yimu couldn’t help but be impressed by the storm being so easily dispersed, even if she suspected that might also have been planned, and in spite of herself she couldn’t help but be drawn into the excitement a little as the city exploded into festivities.

A smile crept across Yimu’s face as she cracked open one of the books she’d brought. She was going to get an education far exceeding anything she’d ever dreamed of, even if it would come with its own hurdles and annoyances, she planned on making the most of every second of it.
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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

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Manfred Hohenfelter von Meckelin-Thandau

It was the drums that made it okay, Manfred had decided. They reminded him of being on the march: to some, endless days of drudgery; to him, a chance for conversation. He’d been half a boy back then: eager for the attention and approval of anyone his senior. There was something comforting about that sound as he entered the City of the Bells - the way that it was steady, simple, rhythmic.

Decked out in his dress uniform and sporting his medals, he pranced through the gate atop Cornelius: every inch the dashing young magery officer. Manfred knew how to wave. His horse knew how to high-step. He kept his chin raised and eyes ahead, one hand on the reins. Cornelius was an old hand at pomp and circumstance. He was a steady animal and little frightened him.

The same could not be said for his rider, but Manfred was not some powdered lordling or flapping, demonstrative merchant who could not control his face. He flashed a smile, and then a nod for a pretty girl in the crowd, tangled red hair spilling out across the tops of her breasts, breasts nearly spilling out the top of her dress. And that was it: it had gotten to him. Soon, he would probably hate himself for it, but it was like it had been when he’d marched off to fight the Holmanians: so much hope and celebration. Why, the rose petals rained down, the crowds cheered, and the marching band slammed away at their drums, double-stepped with their fifes, and twirled their batons. The horns blared, proud and brassy, flashing and gleaming in the midday sun. The famous bells of Ersand’Enise clanged and pennants flapped. For a moment, he was fourteen again and off to fight for the Fatherland. Manfred Hohenfelter von Meckelin-Thandau waved and smiled. He winked at another pretty girl and saluted a little boy playing soldier.

It was fantastic, really: the sound and colour and, for a little while, he lost himself and forgot what this place really was: a workshop - nay, a factory - for killers, churning them out by the hundreds. And, as he remembered, the smile faded from his face. His chin raised, his eyes focused ahead. He was a magusjaeger. Mages of Ersand’Enise filled the armies of Perrence and Revidia, making near-every battlefield on the continent their bloodstained plaything, undoing Oraff’s work, spitting on Dami’s choice, marring Ipte’s beauty, and laughing at Shune’s learning to overfeed Eshiran.

Manfred was a Hohenfelter of Meckelin-Thandau, though: scion of a line stretching back nearly a thousand years. He knew his duty and would not dishonour his family and his country, much as he might’ve found every bit of this tasteless. He kept his expression composed - dignified. In the midst of his fellow young nobles of Kerremand, he simply followed, Cornelius knowing what to do. Manfred let his senses wander subtly, absently, taking in the heightened security. It was a detail that few would notice, he imagined, but there were many more besides the ceremonial guard. They wore plain clothes and tried to blend in, but their martial bearing and the way that they positively burned with loosely-contained energy gave them away. He imagined there were still more, skilled beyond his ability to pick them out. Such was the seriousness with which Ersand’Enise took the art of killing and such was the scope of the event. This year was the Conclave of the Five Thrones, after all, and there would be royals in attendance beyond just the Eel and the Wolf.

The march continued, dragging on, and there were exotic clothes, languages, and faces all around him. Manfred found himself struck by the number of Rettanese that he saw - or else Tan Keouleans, Kanjikish, and others. There was a girl in front of him trying unsuccessfully to hide a cat in her dress and Kurbis came to mind for a moment. The girl looked so small and lost, though, that he almost felt bad that they’d turn her into a weapon. He had to stop himself from visibly shaking his head to clear it.

Suddenly, there were lights up ahead: lights and sound. Crackling magical fireworks, lines tracing themselves through the air, and roaring wolves of fire raced across the sky. Manfred flinched. He blinked and the sweet smell of rose petals became something else to him: another sickening sweetness from three years ago. The fire wolf… Then, there were those tongues of white-hot flame in the darkness: Ahn-Eshiran’s gift. The shouts. A boy hurled himself onto a balcony, like the bodies. The bodies flew too. They flew in pieces. The shouts. They were…

In that moment, he saw the girl, on foot somewhere to his left, and he knew that she was like him. He could see it in her body language - in her bearing - for just a moment. She was the fourth Rettanese he’d seen. He took in her strange dress. Not naturalized, like the others, he concluded, maybe not a weapon. One didn’t wear that look, though - the same look that he knew he’d been wearing mere moments ago - out of choice.

It took a moment for Manfred to realize how uncivilized he was being. Staring blankly at the foreigners like some kind of simpleton! Scheiße! He had fallen off the pace and was at the trailing end of the Artisans now. The scion of Hohenfelter von Meckelin-Thandau cleared his throat, set his eyes ahead, and spurred his horse on. There would yet be more ceremony in the plaza, he knew, and he would bear it unflinchingly this time. Men of Kerremand do not show their emotions without a very good reason.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

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A Welcome Fit for a King? Part One

Marlijn Vaanse

It was near to evening by the time that the plaza was full. The bells had stopped ringing and the marching band was gone. There were still crowds, but they knew better than to set foot on the patterned flagstones of the academy grounds. Instead, those were filled by six-hundred hand-chosen people and a particular species of nervous, anticipatory energy.

Marlijn Vaanse sat on a bench, knees together, sweating like a pig in her fancy spellcaster’s regalia. Truly, she thought that expression daft, for anyone with the least amount of knowledge of animal husbandry knew that pigs did not sweat. That was why they wallowed in the mud. She blinked, distracted. There was some old lady droning on up there, looking distinctly uncomfortable speaking in front of a large crowd and, to Marlijn’s mind, eager to be back to her books and research. The girl felt bad for a moment and then pursed her lips, slouched a little bit, and played with the clasp of her cloak - positively unladylike.

Her eyes darted about surreptitiously, taking in the people around her. She’d been warned of the way that things were done at this school: how they made the procurement of seating a royal melee, as if to signal a definitive end to the pomp and circumstance. Marlijn was quite sure that she had driven an elbow into some merchant girl in her pursuit of a good sightline. Positively unladylike, but it had bought her little advantage and she had still ended up separated from Owain and most of the other Eskandish. Lady Anesin and a couple of others were closeby at least, not that Marlijn much knew her or most of the Ath people.

The others were a mix, and she was struck by their diversity. There were at least three - possibly four - Rettanese. In her entire life to this point she had seen maybe that many. There was an exceptionally short boy - she thought him more likely young than a dwarf - who would not take off his helmet, and she wondered why. Poor scared little fella. There was a handsome roguish sort nearby, a pretty Kerreman boy, another pretty boy from the west with an intriguing scar, and a quartet of Perrench girls clucking away like hens, though as she paid more attention, she noticed that the pale one in the middle was not quite as ditzy as her friends and the tall one on the right wasn’t really with the others. A rather plainly-dressed girl who looked to be Torragonese or perhaps Firrazi sat to her right, also a bit of an island, Marlijn thought. Absently, she wondered about the boy who’d flung himself spectacularly onto the balcony full of Eskandish nobles. Her mother had come down to assure Marlijn that she was alright, if a bit shaken. Of him, she said it had been determined that he was a fool rather than a threat and that, while there’d likely be disciplinary action when they caught him, she doubted that it would be especially drastic. She’d said so with a particular sort of disapproval that Marlijn knew well. The girl had sniffed and nodded, making an excuse about having to get to the plaza, if only to dodge her mother’s incoming diatribe about allowing ‘lower sorts’ to school with the nobility.

Of course, once her eyes had completed their little walkabout, the young Lady Vaanse found it a chore to keep them off of the final member of the cohort sitting close to her: Leon Solaire. She’d practiced some of his spells, but they were difficult to master. She knew the music from his troupe, but little of their performance and, with him, it was all about the performance. She’d wanted to attend when she’d heard that he would perform in Inderhall, but mother had forbidden it and Owain had laughed at her. She would be attending Ersand’Enise with Leon now, though, so it appeared as if it were Marlijn who would have the last laugh after all. Would that Owain was nearby! How she would stick out her tongue and flick his fancy cravat up into his face with a bit of Kinetic mischief! Alas, he was not and the girl had to content herself with paying attention to this speech. She sat up and brought her knees back together, positively ladylike, just as it came to a close.

Then, there was a moment of near-silence, despite the size of the gathered crowd. Trumpets blared. A crier stepped forward, his voice ringing out across the plaza with unnatural volume, courtesy of the Gift. “Their majesties, blessed of Ipte, Shune, Oraff, Eshiran, and Dami: the Monarchs of the Five Thrones!” Drums beat. The crowd cheered. Marlijn cheered too, of course.

“Jobanzaggah, sixth of his name: Emperor of Belzagg, Defender of the Faith, keeper of the Ivory Throne!” Marlijn craned her neck to get a look at him, of course, nearly rising to her feet, positively unladylike. A tall man, young and powerful, with skin as dark as coal and an immaculately trimmed beard, he strode purposefully across the stage, leopardskin cape fluttering behind him, bare biceps bound in gold bands and inlaid with fine gemstones. He set himself upon one of the five chairs at the centre of the stage and waited.

“Horik Vinderborg of Oleften: Emperor of Eskand, Master of the College of Electors, keeper of the Verdant Throne!” For all that Jobanzaggah was a large man, he was positively dwarfed by Kejser Horik. Near seven feet tall and perhaps four hundred pounds, he lumbered across the stage, long grey beard bound in bracers of gold and ivory swaying as he walked. Marlijn suppressed a sour face. Not emperor of all Eskand, she reminded herself. Good King Johann had just as much claim to the Verdant Throne.

“Rouis, eleventh of his name, King of Perrence and the Perrench people, Warden of Ciero, Crisia, and Miatto, Protector of the Faith, and keeper of the Crystal Throne!” Rouis was not as large as the other two men, but he seemed somehow larger. He strode grandly across the stage, scepter in hand, nose raised high in the air, long, curly brown cascading luxuriantly over his shoulders, and the puffy, illuminated silks and velvets of his clothing inlaid with gold thread and resplendent in the late afternoon sun. His beard and mustache were perfectly oiled and Marlijn imagined he could fairly impale someone with them. Two attendants held the ends of his cape and lifted it out of the way as he took his seat.

“King Sancho VIII of Torragon, keeper of the Iron Throne.” Like the words announcing him, the man who walked across the stage and placed himself beside Rouis was spare and spartan. He wore brown riding boots and loose white clothing embroidered with patterns in gold thread: incredibly expensive, but practical first and foremost in the subtropical heat. He was clean-shaven with maybe a day’s worth of stubble, his short grey hair combed back and mostly hidden beneath a wide-brimmed hat surmounted with a leather band, a single ruby, and a couple of colourful feathery plums.

The fifth man - and they were all men - nearly didn’t wait for the crier. “Prospero Malatesta: Doge of Revidia, King of Segona, Tan-Zeno of Ersand’Enise, and keeper of the Radiant Throne.” Even many of the Zenos onstage rose and clapped. The crowd certainly did. Dressed in a fine red tunic, hands clasped behind his back, Prospero stopped, pivoted on a heel, and inclined his head to the crowd in thanks before taking his seat.

Next were the representatives from other nations and, as exciting as it was to see this many royals in one place, Marlijn honestly couldn’t understand how this was relevant to their learning. Could the Zenos not have held a separate celebration - after everyone was fed and rested - for the introduction of the monarchs?

Queen Silke of Kerremand was in attendance, but few countries sent their rulers unless, people whispered, they were making a play for one of the thrones. Mostly, it was a gaggle of dukes and duchesses, emirs and emirahs. There were even representatives from distant Rettan, Nashibansek, and… she couldn’t pronounce the other one - the one that started with the ‘X'. They were here only as observers, however, as was the President of Joru: Atundo Yibozo.

It was moments after he’d taken his seat, kept prudently separate from the Belzaggic emperor, that Marlijn felt something brush against her arm. She looked up but there was nothing. Blinking, she started to turn back to the stage, but there indeed was something. Perhaps it was because she was a fledgling illusionist herself that she spotted it: a glimmer of motion - the semicorporeal outline of a hand, and for only the barest of moments. Feeling a warning prickle on the back of her neck, the girl reached out for energies but, in such a dense crowd, it was near-impossible to sense an individual.

“Hey,” she prodded one of the students nearby, “did you see that?” She half-stood and her eyes darted about. Then, there was a flash of movement up on stage. She glanced around beseechingly, ready to raise her voice, but was stopped short. It was so brief that she wasn’t sure that she’d imagined it - it couldn’t possibly have been real, after all: a colossal surge of energy onstage, like nothing she’d ever felt before, like nothing she’d ever even imagined possible. Then it was gone, in a fraction of a second, like a blinding flash of light that leaves one staggering in its wake.

Marlijn blinked to clear her head. The speaker onstage - Arch-Zeno Harachorra - paused to glance behind him. The two oldest men there - Giacomo the Crow and the Paradigm himself, Hugo Hunghorasz - may or may not have exchanged a brief look, but the Zenith was still smiling, Joshe Intaba and Riu Kai-Tan looked positively unbothered, and… Ardredelle Latvar looked uncomfortable and rather sweaty, but Marlijn supposed it was the heat. The air was still muggy and humid and even Arch-Zenos were still human, after all. She shook her head to clear it. What had she imagined, again? Had she thought something was wrong? What a daft idea. She supposed that spending all day out in the sun could mess with you.

To improve matters somewhat, Karan Harachorra paused and smirked at the students conspiratorially, and then at the five monarchs behind him. “Lords and ladies,” he intoned smoothly, “would I be amiss or perhaps presumptuous in asking whether you’ve had enough of speeches for one day? Whether you’ve been a bit too long in the sun?”

Marlijn giggled at his delivery. She’d certainly had enough. She had literally hallucinated a minute ago, though exactly what her hallucination had been, she could not recall. At least the sun would dip below the buildings shortly and bring some welcome relief from the heat. Already, shadows stretched long and jagged across the flagstones. “I believe it would be to the benefit of all were we to shift the festivities surrounding the five thrones to tomorrow and focus on our students this evening so that your majesties could receive the undivided attention that befits your station.”

He received five nods from the five kings and the girl found herself liking them better, even Horik. “Now, with their majesties presiding - surely a sign of the Gods’ favour -” Marlijn noticed that he didn’t say ‘Pentad’ “- I propose we get to the part that you’re really all here for: the assignment of masters.”

Her heart beat a bit faster. She glanced around herself, failing to suppress a grin. The manner in which masters were chosen at Ersand’Enise was ancient and mysterious. She knew that the Zenos kept profiles on every Biro admitted. She knew that they used the Gift. She knew that interests and strengths played a role, but there was more to it and nobody knew what.

Zenith Upta stepped up to the speaker’s lectern and gave out a series of orders. Excited chatter filled the air. The hundred Zenos in the first rows of the plaza rose and gathered at the foot of the stage: some of the greatest mages alive, all masters of their craft, and she was to train under one. They formed two lines, ready to march up the stairs to either side and, quietly, with a certain sort of restless energy, Marlijn thought, Joshe Intaba stepped down from his high place to join them. “Arch-Zeno Joshe Intaba,” called Claresse Upta, “Please select your apprentices.”

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Dark Light
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Dark Light

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Adding insult to injury...
Vyrik, desperate to minimise the calamity he was causing, shot up from the floor with haste and frantically reached out to support the blurred figure before him, the one he knocked into, the one he didn’t want to fall from the balcony. He grabbed at the figure and held them tight ensuring they were stable, his heart calming a little as they were. His blinking eyes recovering sight just in time to notice the red face of a wildly furious noble woman staring daggers at him and the inappropriate placement of one of his hands on her chest, as a violent slap connected with his face and sent him stumbling to the side with a great sting resounding in his cheek.

The lady was truly livid, it had appeared as if her body didn’t know how to contain such levels of rage, and all her anger, fear and aggression had been released into that single mighty attack. Words were lost to her and instead a shrill scream escaped her throat and rang high in the air.

”Shite.” Vyrik groaned. His voice lost to the cry piercing his ears and drawing even more attention their way than his actions already had. If people hadn’t seen him before then they had now likely at least heard her. It would have been easy for him to just jump down from the balcony, the fall being nothing to him, but he was keenly aware of how many eyes were probably pointed in his direction now. Soon, hands were reaching at him from behind. Other people on the balcony.
Just wanting to get out of view as quickly and subtly as possible and for this entire mess to be over with, he acted with a lack of fore-thought that could only be brought on by the heart racing moment of embarrassment, fear and panic.
Vyrik pushed through the doors leading from the balcony and into the house and turned to shut and lock them behind him. It hurt to put weight on his right leg but that was the smallest of his problems right now.

”Shite, shite!” he swore, standing in a large opulent clean room. It was a bedroom of sorts, given the large four post wooden bed in the centre of the far wall bearing more silk covered fluffed pillows than Vyrik had ever seen in his life. Vyrik thought it was criminal to call this space a room, for it was bigger than most houses he had ever lived in.
He had broken into some nice houses in Revidia but nothing like this. The sheer sophisticated indulgence of it all.

A banging on the balcony door shook him from his hypnosis and his eyes immediately went back to the bed where a young boy had been sitting on its edge. Feet unable to touch the ground, dressed like all other pretentious high noble children, eyes wet with recent tears, he now just sat staring back at Vyrik with an uncertain shock.

”Are you, are you robbing us?” a meek soft sobbing voice asked.
”No!” Vyrik quickly exclaimed. Raising open hands out to the child. ”No no, just visiting. I don’t like any of this stuff anyway.” he added playfully with a shrug. ”Say, why are you crying?”

A quick conversation ensued as Vyrik searched for a way out, followed by a promise that he wasn’t sure he could keep. Turns out the boy who was just 10 name days old was disappointed that he hadn’t got the gift yet. But not as disappointed as his overbearing mother was. His sister was a part of it but he wasn’t allowed to watch or enjoy the ceremony until he was a part of it. So in exchange for his help, Vyrik promised to teach him. That whole exchange happened rather fast as the boys mother was banging on the balcony and what was presumably guards, were banging on the front door.


As Vyrik sat, hidden in a closet he listened to the boys distant voice guide the guards to a back window and tell them of the mage who ran through the house and escaped out there. Vyrik listened very closely for hint of betrayal but none seemed to come. The child was an eerily good liar. Even down to the fake details of his appearance. The guards were quick to follow the boys fake lead and poured back out to search in the direction they were given. One man remained however to see to the lady of the house. A moment later they both left the house too. While Vyrik waited in the oversized closet he found a cloak that would just fit without seeming too ridiculous. It hid his giveaway hair and concealed a little of his face.

Things soon settled back to normal and when the coast was clear Vyrik was lead to the back door. The boy stopped, staring at him and held up a bedazzled jewelled necklace dangling from a clenched fist. For a moment Vyrik was extremely confused. The thing must be worth a fortune judging by the gold, silver and sparkling gems that adorned it.

”My mother will notice this missing soon, its one of her favourites and the blame will fall onto you. I don’t know how long that will take, probably not for days if you are lucky, but it will happen. Then you will be even more of a criminal and another more serious search for you will begin. I’ll put it back when you come back to teach me, just don’t leave it too long.

Vyrik had to hand it to the arrogant little snot nosed brat. He had some fire and determination in him along with a sharp mind and some bravery too. If he had the gift he would likely become a proficient user. What could Vyrik teach him that expensive tutors could not though. He didn’t need the ire of this wealthy child following him, he was far too smart and ruthless. Things were already bad enough. He gulped as he realised the task at hand. With only a nod of acknowledgement he snuck out into the street and instantly turned his gift to focus on all the voices around him, listening intently for signs that he was being pointed out or noticed. While walking his mind went back to the first conversation he had with the child and he realised he had been played. Was any of it true?

With a defeated sigh he moved into the crowd, trying to hide his limp as made his way to the groupings. It looked to be almost over. Had he missed his calling? How would he know who his teacher was now? What sort of impression did that leave. He groaned to himself. It had been a long day already. Just then a small piece of parchment was put into his hand. He looked up to catch the very nondescript delivery man walking away. Clothes neither rich nor poor, all features plain, and just like that he disappeared into the crowd.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

Member Seen 22 hrs ago

A Welcome Fit for a King? Part Two

Marlijn Vaanse

Marlijn knew that she had no chance of being chosen. Indeed, the four names that the Arch-Zeno called were all of the ducal or princely rank, all with RAS levels above eight. At least he didn't draw it out. At least she'd get to learn soon. Her eyes rolled back and forth across the diminishing group of Zenos. They came in all colours, shapes, and sizes, the only thing binding them together being their shared mastery of the Gift. Vitas was called up to join a bookish-looking sort and Marlijn could tell that he was hiding a scowl. Randan was chosen by - to the amusement of all - Randan the Red. There was a smirk on the Zeno's face as his new apprentice joined him, and the boy grinned back.

More names were called. The sun disappeared below the buildings and its fading light silhouetted them in stark relief. The unpicked group dwindled and Marlijn was able to find Owain easily enough. "So, what do you think?" She intoned, leaning in, "last one picked, just like when we were kids?"

He stared lightning at her. "Maybe you," he retorted.

"Dream on, kid brother." He was half an hour her junior and there was no surer way to get on his nerves than to rub that in. "I'm the pick of the litter," she added. Then, a tall severe-looking woman onstage called out a series of four names. "Owain Vance" was among them. Owain stuck out his tongue, turned on a heel, and just remembered to give her a hug before he left. "Don't be last, big sis."

More Zenos moved onstage. More names were called. Siblings and old friends hugged each other. Strangers shook hands and chatted, their voices and bodies weaving introductions and stories through the night air. Some, lucky enough to have been placed with existing friends, cheered and jumped up and down excitedly. Still, the ceremony went on until Marlijn noticed - much to her embarrassment, that there were only four Zenos and sixteen students left. One was Leon Solaire. One was Lady Anesin. Marlijn swallowed. Just not last, she thought. Please not last!

A pretty Torragonese woman strode onto centre stage, her slightly revealing dress resplendent with gold-laced embroidery and gemstones. "Zeno Sienna Afraval," the crier announced. Afraval! She's a royal! The Zeno rocked back on the balls of her feet for a moment and cleared her throat, a bit of a grin creasing her lips. Marlijn wouldn't mind being with her. That would be alright. A Torragonese royal would actually be pretty-

"Anesin of House Bjelke, Penny Pellegrin, Onarr Yidlob, and my countrywoman: Linnah Aranda. It will be my pleasure to serve as your master and mentor."

Marlijn's heart sunk. It would've been nice if she could've been with Anesin - someone to speak Eskandish with, at least - even that ghastly Ath dialect. The new group made their introductions as they walked offstage. Zeno Afrafal was replaced by a large Virangish man with a bushy beard and an impatient bearing. "Zeno Hamir Zemana!" called the crier. He nodded in the man's direction. "Yes, thank you Roderick." He pivoted, hands clasped behind his back, and regarded the twelve remaining students. "Hmp-hmm," he cleared his throat. Marlijn would even take him, she decided. Even him! "Mayu of House Iovina, Seung Eun-Ji - I hope I'm not mispronouncing your name, girl, Manfred of House Hohenfelter - same goes for you, boy, and finally Karim Nazeri. If you're half as sharp as your parents, this should be quite a partnership." He smiled warmly. The new group joined him.

There were two Zenos remaining: a petite young woman of profoundly exotic background whose face paint reminded her of that from old Eskandish legend but was somehow very different at the same time, and large Belzaggic fellow with a simple, martial bearing. The former filled Marlijn with a sort of unease, and she wasn't sure why. The latter was... actually kind of handsome. Dami, please give me one thing today, she prayed inwardly. Just this. She remembered to make the sign of the Pentad, at which she could've sworn that the facepainted Zeno rolled her eyes. Gods no! What if she's my master!?

"Ladies first?" asked the handsome Zeno, turning to his counterpart. She smirked, as if having a thought, and Marlijn liked her a bit better for that. "Thanks, big guy," she said with an accent that the girl had never heard before.

"Zeno Fades-in-Moonlight, of the Nashibansek," called Roderick, whose voice had held up admirably well. Nashibansek! Marlijn thought. No wonder she'd seemed so exotic. She'd come all of the way from western Callanast! The Eskandishwoman's eyes widened. Moonlight sniffed and fished a piece of paper from her skirt. "Uhh... we got Leon Solaire." She raised an eyebrow and smirked. "Carmillia Carbonneau, Jomurr Ikon III and um... Ila-" She bit her lower lip, eyes narrowing at the paper. "Is it Ilannak? Ilannak Sigmund...daughter?" She smiled sheepishly. "Sorry if I butchered any names. What's an attendance list without some casualties, huh? I promise we're gonna have a good time, though." She tried on a smile. "Why don't you all come up here?"

Marlijn was in the last group. She had to accept that, but if the choice was between Zeno Moonlight and the other guy, she honestly felt like she'd just dodged a bullet. Then, even though it was obvious who'd be chosen, the last Zeno stepped to the centre of the stage. Marlijn spared a glimpse at her groupmates-to-be: a dour-looking Torragonnese, a Rettanese girl who looked like she'd just rolled out of bed, and... a boy who she could only describe as a street urchin. Her cheeks flushed with shame. What had she done to deserve being lumped in with these people?

"Zeno Zander Mozaru!" announced Roderick, with a hint of a grateful smile. The Zeno clasped his hands behind his back, bowed slightly in the crier's direction and turned to face the crowd. "You've all been waiting quite a while," he announced, "but sometimes waiting is good for you. It helps you to value things more. I'm proud to welcome Miss Pan Yimu." That was the Rettanese girl. Fourth last, Marlijn thought. "And Lord Selio Taraves." The sad guy, and third last. Gods no! Things were proceeding with a certain sort of inevitability at this point. Zeno Mozaru's eyes settled on her and they twinkled warmly as he smiled. "Lady Marlijn Vaanse, it is an honour." Phhheeeeewwwww! All of the air escaped her and she grinned and bounded over to the stage. "Young master Vyrik Oldenrath," the Zeno added as Marlijn hurried up to join the others. "I believe I had someone pass you a notice. Hopefully you're not too behind the curve anymore."

No sooner was their apprentice group complete, then there was a fantastic flash. All of the torches and lamps lining the edges of the plaza blazed to life, their ambient light so vivid that it seemed almost like daytime again. People oohed and aahed. There was a second flash and, suddenly, the ancient wizard who had been seated towards the back of the group was standing at the lectern without having moved a muscle. Hugo Hunghorasz! A teleportation spell! Zenos Mozaru and Moonlight bowed deeply in his direction. He stroked his beard, and his tired old eyes peered out from beneath drooping eyelids. "You have much to do tonight, and over the next few days," he rumbled, voice only slightly tremulous with age, "Dare I say this will be the most exciting period of your lives. Take it from someone who's lived as long as I have." He grinned slightly. "Now go. Go be the mages - the people - you were meant to be. As a former Zenith and on behalf of the Zenith and all of my colleagues, I dismiss you and welcome you to Ersand'Enise, class of Ahn-Ipte Zept Fifty-Five!"

With that, the lights dimmed to a more normal level. Kings and faculty alike stood and clapped - for Marlijn's classmates, for Marlijn, for the mages of the future. It was only moments before the fireworks began - a show such as she had never seen. The girl took a deep breath of the cooling night air and allowed herself a shameless, relieved, satisfied smile. Tomorrow, in earnest, it would begin.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Izurich
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Izurich 7/8 Weeb

Member Seen 6 mos ago

--A King-worthy Welcome Indeed!--

Anna was truly enjoying herself, the ceremony was as grand as she expected it to be, even grander in fact. Indeed, she had zero problems accepting the notion that she deserved such a welcome, being one of the few five hundred students to qualify for Ersand'Enise. This institution was no humble magus school in some backwater town after all, this place was the center of magical learning, arguably for non-magical subjects too, and how it showed. If Ersand was making a statement - and she believed they were - then it had succeeded. Immersing herself into the spirit of the festivities, the white-haired teenager continued instructing her flamewolf like a circus mistress, even adding another wolf to form a fiery duo that mesmerized the audience. A bright, joyful smile on her face as she enjoyed both external attention and internal pleasure of casting.

It was in the middle of her performance that she noticed a skywalker older boy veritably crashing onto a balcony, smacking some poor old lady as a result. "Bffft...!" The sight actually made Anna pause mid-show as her wand-wielding right hand stopped moving, her attention momentarily taken by the accident. What followed next was like two warships crashing into each other, a horrible thing but one that she couldn't take her eyes away from. The aforementioned boy got positively smacked in the face by a fuming lady, with enough force to send him reeling too! Oh no no no... she can't... she just...

"Hahahahahahahahaha! Ahahahahaha~! Ehehe...!" Anna lost control of herself as she guffawed to her heart's content, cackling like a madwoman as her free hand held her belly, chest heaving, and jaw opened wide. Tears of hilarity spilled from her eyes as schadenfreude flowed through her veins. Oh poor boy, whoever he was, but he deserved it honestly, talk about instant karma. "Haaa... phew... hehe..." Soon enough, Anna's laughter simmered down to a few quiet giggles and it was at this time that she realized an unfortunate consequence, in her amusement, she had lost control of her twin firewolves and they had now vanished into thin air, dispersed as ambient heat. Awww... that's a shame, but she got a good laugh out of it so whatever, the audience already got a nice show anyway.


As the procession continued, the trumpeters blared their instruments, signaling the next step of the day-long ceremony. A chosen crier stepped forward, his voice magically booming as he announced five of the most influential sovereigns in the world, each a holder of one of the Five Thrones.

...and this part made Anna roll her eyes. Who cares about some old fart sitting on some throne? A lot of people apparently, but she's definitely not one of them. While the announcer enunciated each king/emperor/minister/whatever's name, the white-haired Arcanist-Chemist just freecasted three palm-sized fireballs then started pseudo-juggling them between her hands, faux as they were actually floating and fully controlled by herself, she just made it as if she was juggling them. It was safe to say that her attention was anywhere but here as the crier's voice became ambient noise to the girl's mind.

At least, until something disrupted her focus, causing the fireballs to stop spinning around. A sudden surge of energy that sent tingles up her spine, raising her goosebumps. "Huh...?" Blue eyes blinked as she looked around, scanning her surroundings for any funny business. A part of her wanted to believe that it was an "Eshiran's Blessing" announcing its presence, but... nah, it didn't feel right, it was definitely something else. Something to investigate later, maybe? But eh, she had better things to do.

At long last, someone finally stuck it to those five pompous asses. Arch-Zeno Karan Harachorra was a hero for saving everyone from certain death via fatal boredom. Imagine listening to a politician's speech, now imagine listening to five of them in a row. She wouldn't even condone her worst enemies to such a fate. With that matter done, they could get to the actually important stuff, assigning the Biros to their mentor. Like every other student here, Anna wondered just who would be her instructor, she hoped they wouldn't be one of those stuck-up noble with a bark worse than their bite.

As the Zenos called their chosen apprentices, Anna relegated her juggling to just one fireball which she occasionally spun on top of her index finger, now paying infinitely more attention to the procedure than before. It went on until a certain Nashibansekian magus, an exotically-dressed and equally exotically-named woman called "Fades-in-Moonlight" stepped onto center stage. The Greyborn Zeno proceded to read out loud the parchment in her hand, in which the first name immediately caught Anna's attention. "Leon Solaire...? Leon... Soooolaaaaaaiiiire...? ...!!" Her eyes widened, "Leon Solaire?!" twas' the same name as that sand-colored boy she met years ago; the port market, the fish crate, the salmon painting, the traveling buskers' performance...! The memories, they came flooding!

"Ila-... Is it Ilannak? Ilannak Sigmund...daughter?"

So much so that it took her a couple long seconds to notice Luna calling her name, "E... eh? Ah! Yes! Present!" still blinking, she extinguished her mini-fireball, stood up, and made a beeline to the stage, carrying her broom-staff with her. The half-Rettanese-Eskandish Arcanist promptly arrived, before Leon of course as the older boy was literally the frontmost student of the pack. Normally, her attention should be locked exclusively to Fades-in-Moonlight, but since a certain someone was here, it was obvious that her gaze kept straying toward the caped student, her mind working in full force to connect his face to that of the thirteen-year-old she encountered five years ago. All observations pointed to one conclusion, that yes, he's the very same Leon Solaire.

Oh wow, look at how much he had grown. He's so tall now and so... uh... "A... ah... uhm..." Anna's little stammers betrayed her jumbled thoughts as emotions reigned over rationality, her arctic-borne pale complexion worked against her as rosy blushes spawned at her cheeks. She wanted to say something, anything; ask how he has been doing over the last five years, how did he get enrolled into Ersand'Enise, wonder if he'll still perform now that he's a Biro, and lots of other stuff. Nevertheless, in the end, she pushed the thoughts for later and simply stood at attention before Zeno Luna... while still stealing occasional glances at her childhood friend.

A few moments later, all of the Zenos and Biros were paired, marking the end of this part of the ceremony. It was followed by a display of legendary power by none other than Hugo Hunghorasz the Paradigm himself. The ancient magus proceeded to appear out of thin air and begin speaking to the new members of the academy, officially welcoming them into Ersand`Enise with his blessings. Anna could only smile widely at this, standing there together with her childhood friend Leon, their mentor Luna, and two strangers; the albino girl named Carmillia Carbonneau and a dark-skinned boy of supposedly noble importance called Jomurr Ikon the Third, what was it with nobles and numbered names?

She joined in with the others to watch the fireworks show, whose lights and spectacle dwarfed even that of Leon's. Starting from today, a new chapter of her life began.

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Hidden 2 yrs ago 2 yrs ago Post by Medili
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Medili Connoisseur of Fine Pineapples

Member Seen 1 yr ago

(Interactions with: Manfred (@Force and Fury), Karim (@Theyra), and Mayu (@annaplz), the latter two in the later part of the post.)

As the procession continued, Eun-Ji felt it; the unmistakable feeling of someone watching her, survival instinct nagging at her consciousness. This was something common for one like her, instinct born out of both training and out of experience as a soldier where one must always be aware of one's surroundings or risk being attacked or even killed without realizing it. Keeping up her focus, she started looking around calmly. Alas, the feeling soon passed before she were able to determine who it was that were observing her. The observer who were in truth the scion of Hohenfelter von Meckelin-Thandau had already moved on from watching her.

She mulled about it for a moment before coming to a decision in her mind. It's probably nothing... No need to be worried about it. Perhaps it was just someone finding her appearance to be rather curious, and if that was indeed the case then they cannot be blamed for thinking so.


The procession had finished sometime later after arriving in the plaza. By the evening, the place had been filled full with people attending the next phase of the ceremony. Most importantly for the new students of the academy, this will be when they shall each be picked by a master to be their apprentice. It will most definitely be a big deal, as the experience of being taught by a Zeno will likely be quite different from the experience of being taught by another Zeno. It would be unfortunate for a student to be taken under a Zeno that turned out to be incompatible with themselves. Still, it was not something that the students themselves were able to control. They can only hope that they'll be picked by the "right" Zeno, so to speak.

Eun-Ji wasn't really concerned with where she were seated as long as she got a good line of sight to the stage, and she indeed managed to get that in the end. The other students around her were quite a very diverse bunch, which was a good thing, because it also meant that she didn't end up sticking out like a sore thumb. Still, it was quite the sight for Eun-Ji. She haven't really been paying much attention during the procession due to her focused state to dull out the stimulation. Here, sitting in the plaza waiting for the ceremony to begin, she had no need to tune out anything. So many people from all the different heritages... I've never been among this kind of gathering before. Hmm... She thought about it for a little while. About how far she was from home, about how things had became so different in just three years since she were taken from her village. For most of it, things were miserable. Every single day was a struggle for dear life, freedom was a mere illusion, and she had ended up becoming something she absolutely hated to be: One who extinguished the light of life from others. Even here in the academy, she knew that she were not free. Even here, she will be watched by the other agents of The Cruel.

... And yet, she were also knowledgeable enough to know that the power and influence of The Cruel and the Lotus Sentries were limited here in Ersand’Enise. They will try to watch all the same and they will move to act if she openly did anything foolish enough to provoke them, but they will be far limited nonetheless. ... I suppose it is something to be grateful of. Perhaps, at the very least, it wouldn't feel like being kept a prisoner all the time here. It was not exactly a bright thought, but even such small comfort was precious enough to her that Eun-Ji allowed herself a light smile about it.


(Interaction with Leon (@Jumbus))

Still in her own rumination, Eun-Ji did not notice that the girl sitting next to her have had her seat borrowed by the young man who were bestowed the honor of heading the earlier procession. She had paid attention back then, so she knew of his name and also knew enough that he were considered highly enough that the academy had chosen him for the role. It was then unexpected and a little bit surprising for Eun-Ji that Leon had decided to regard her, someone who for all intents and purposes were very much an insignificant person in the political and social game of Ersand’Enise.

Caught off guard, she stumbled a little in her words, trying to put her mind into being properly formal with the flamboyant fellow youth. "Ah... My apologies, I didn't notice... Oh. Thank you for your kind words...?" It had been quite a long time since the last time someone commented on the color of her eyes. That used to be rather common back in her village, due to how very unusual they were compared to the mostly black or dark brown eyes of the typical person of Tan Keoulian heritage. It felt a bit nostalgic, and not at all unpleasant even though it was very sudden and unexpected to receive a compliment about it from a stranger.

Eun-Ji listened to Leon's explanation for his sudden greeting and compliment towards her. A violet rose. It did looked most peculiar indeed. She knew of the existence of such roses of unusual coloration before, being that her family of farmers often came in contact with the odd florist or two. Usually, such roses were the result of a very careful and tedious process of multiple crossbreeding. Regardless, they remained quite rare and highly valued, and Eun-Ji knew this.

Well, highly valued if they were natural, to be precise. Eun-Ji remained unaware that the rose Leon had presented to her was the result of magic. "For me?... Oh, I..." She was at a lost for words, thinking that she didn't really deserve to receive such a gift from a stranger. She held the rose in both hands as Leon gave it to her, quite unsure of how to react and what to do with it. Refusing it and returning it seemed the most proper response, but that risked wounding Leon's feelings. Alas, as she was contemplating this, Leon seemed like he were about to leave to return to his previous seat. Eun-Ji had to react quickly; not something she were particularly good at in the best of times. In the end, she only managed some quick words of gratitude. "I... Thank you, Mr. Leon Solaire. I will, umm, take good care of it..."

Then just like that, Leon was gone, leaving Eun-Ji with a not-exactly-natural violet rose in her hands. People were looking her way. Some, mostly girls, were definitely staring in a not-very-friendly way. Flustered, she decided to put the rose within her bag, placing it carefully so as to not damage it. Then, she put her gaze to the ground as if to hide her face and avoid direct eye contact with those staring at her, feeling a mix of embarrassment, confusion, but also a shy appreciation for the gift. Of course, the latter feeling would be quite different indeed if only she knew that the violet rose were actually a trick of magic instead and that Leon had told her a lie...

Eun-Ji took a minute to compose herself after the encounter with Leon. By then, those who stared at her had ceased doing so. Regaining her composure, she started paying closer attention to those that were sitting around her. The first person she noticed sat quite close to her, a young Kerreman man with his brown hair done in a short ponytail. Something about him felt very familiar to Eun-Ji and soon enough she realized what it was. The way this man conducted himself, his body language, and that unmistakable look of one who had seen countless deaths. This man was a soldier, and not the type that enjoyed killing for the sake of it. Not the type that joyfully took life as if its nothing but trash. Not a wild animal of a soldier who merely needed an excuse to kill to sate his bloodlust.

I see... So it seems I am not the only one here. She ended up staring at him, seeing herself in the man, mirroring what the man himself had done to her without her knowing that it was him during the procession. She wondered what his story was, how he ended up becoming the severe looking young man reflected in her eyes. "Ah." Then soon she realized she had been staring, even letting out the audible muttering due to the lapse in her self-control. She quickly looked away, covering her mouth and lower face with her right palm to hide her embarrassment. That was rude, staring at someone like that. Why, in Tan Keoul, that would have been a big violation of social norm. Eun-Ji sighed internally, reprimanding herself for the brief moment of misconduct.

Right after that, trumpets blared and a crier stepped forward, his voice ringing out across the plaza. The ceremony had finally started in full. People started cheering along with it, though Eun-Ji herself refrained from doing so; not out of a refusal to show enthusiasm or respect, but because she didn't quite catch the sentiment being that she did not came from a country that held one of the Five Thrones. Regardless, when the others clapped as the Monarchs were introduced, she followed along with polite clapping of her own though her expression remained completely neutral throughout the whole affair. Afterwards, it was time for the representatives of the other nations to be introduced. Eun-Ji knew that The Cruel will not be in attendance and that Tan Keoul had sent someone else instead, though she were not told who it would be.

When she saw who the Tan Keoulian representative was, she could have sworn that he was staring right at her in return, briefly but unmistakably. It was one of her instructors in the Lotus Sentries, who indeed also held a position as one of the Emperor's advisors. Even as he no longer looked at her, Eun-Ji noticed him making some subtle hand signs used by the Sentries, doubtlessly directed at her as it reads 'remember your mission'. She swallowed her own spit, anxiety suddenly building up. Just a moment ago, she thought that it will be better for her here in the academy and already a crony of the Emperor reminded her that they will be watching. It all suddenly felt so hopeless again, resignation returning in full force back into her mind as she closed her eyes and lowered her gaze down to the ground, hands clutching with force on the skirt of her dress. Soon enough however, she let out an almost imperceptible sigh, raising her head back and showing eyes that looked indeed like those of a resigned soul.

.... What? And yet the surprise, evidently, refused to end there. For soon after that, Eun-Ji noticed the semicorporeal hand that was most definitely the result of Arcane illusion in action. She would know, she herself specialized strongly in being an Illusionist. The hand disappeared completely soon after, leaving Eun-ji to blink twice, gaze still fixed to where she saw the hand was. No, I most definitely saw it. It was not a trick of the eyes. Then she heard the words of another student nearby. “Hey, did you see that?” And it proved that she was indeed not mistaken, considering she weren't the only one who saw the hand. Before she can ponder things further however, Eun-Ji's attention were taken by yet another happening. This time, it happened right onstage.

A massive energy surge, unthinkably great, appearing and disappearing all in the span of less than a second. Eun-Ji instinctively flinched, closing her eyes by reflex. She opened her eyes again slowly afterwards, missing the brief and subtle nuances of the Arch-Zenos onstage because of it. ... Huh? What? I... What followed were moments of confusion. It all felt so very weird. She couldn't really understand what was going on. Something had definitely happened. She was a Lotus Sentry. Unlike most people, she were trained to notice incongruity and abnormality. Something had definitely happened. Something felt like it was missing in her mind and she didn't know what, but without a doubt, something was missing. ... This smells too much like trouble. The question is whether this is a trouble that concerns me or not. She put her left hand on her chin, face lowered once more, deep in her own thoughts. The only thing she's sure about was that something had definitely happened and something in her mind was missing. Obviously, whatever it was shouldn't be missing, and this was cause for concern. Still, after thinking it through for a while more, she decided that just the fact that she knew without a doubt that something was amiss will have to be enough for now. After all, there wasn't much she can do about it; definitely not now, but perhaps later?


Things proceeded quickly after that. Arch-Zeno Joshe Intaba took to the stage and picked his apprentices, followed by the next Zeno doing the same thing. Zenos took to the stage and names were called, yet it was not until almost the very end that Eun-Ji's own name would be called upon. The one who called her was a Zeno Hamir Zemana, a large and bearded Virangish man. As far as first impression went, Eun-Ji decided to reserve any kind of judgment. It would be unwise, considering she knew little about this man that she will be apprenticed to. One thing that was sure, was that he managed not to butcher her name when pronouncing it.

Along with Eun-Ji, the man had chosen Mayu Iovina, another girl who were unmistakably also of Rettanese heritage. Karim Nazeri, a Paggonian. And to Eun-Ji's surprise, the very man that she had observed earlier. Manfred of House Hohenfelter... I see. It took her a little bit of effort not to stare at Manfred again as a kind of curiosity surfaced in her mind about him. She had found him to be intriguing, for reasons she have yet to grasp. Still, she managed to instead regarded the Zeno and the three other students of the group. A brief introduction was only appropriate. And typical of Eun-Ji, she decided to do so in a rather formal way.

She pressed the palm of her hands together in front of her chest, and then bowed her head forward slightly at about 15 degree of inclination with her eyes closed, keeping the position for about a second before rising her head back up and returning to a more neutral pose to introduce herself in Avincian. "I am Seung Eun-Ji of Tan Keoul. It is an honor to be picked as your apprentice, esteemed Zeno Hamir Zemana; and to be your peers, Ms. Mayu of House Iovina, Mr. Karim Nazeri, and Mr. Manfred of House Hohenfelter. I am looking forward to a fruitful cooperation among us."

Soon enough, all the Zenos and students had been put into their respective group. Almost immediately after that, bright magnificent lights came to life followed by the great Hugo Hunghorasz making a brief yet impressive performance of teleportation after which he finished the ceremony with a speech. All were dismissed, and the lights turned back to normal. Clapping filled the air, and then came the fireworks. Eun-Ji looked on toward the fantastic display. This indeed marked the end of the ceremony, the end of the day. And tomorrow? Tomorrow her mission shall begin in earnest.

It were beautiful, the fireworks. There was no doubt about that in Eun-Ji's mind. Yet, they were all also fleeting. Oh so very fleeting. As each firework soared, exploded, and then disappeared, she counted every single one that she were able to perceive. Those who looked her way would very clearly see it in her face; a profound sadness and a longing for a better time that had long since passed. In this moment, under the fleeting fireworks, she was not a Lotus Sentry. Instead, she became once again the young humble girl of equally humble origin. And of the fireworks, the young girl thought of only one thing in her mind.

Why did they have to die?
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