Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Ti
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Ti Per Aspera Ad Astra.

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Madame Rose Bleue

Event: Madame Rose Bleue | Location: The Crying Lion, Mudville

The young woman sat in the corner booth at the Crying Lion. The darkness hid her features as the hood remained up. The long blue hair was tucked underneath like a crown. She nursed a drink of unknown origin offered by the barkeep, as she used what appeared to be a letter opener to cut an apple, spearing into its flesh as she brought it up to her lips.

It wasn’t long till the door to the tavern opened, as two hooded figures moved into the hall. The pair splitting up as one approached the woman, taking a seat opposite her. The man’s voice low toward her, “C'est un code plus ancien, mais il passe” It is an older code, but it checks out.

She smiled as she shuffled and placed the cards before her and the hooded gentleman. A card game. The pair discussing casually as they played their hand. “Are we ready to proceed with the next step of the operation?”, as she converses in Perrench, her eyes fix upon his facial features and the blonde curls peeking from beneath the hood.

He shuffled his hand with a twisted smile, “Madame Rose Bleue, you were brave to approach me with that name”

Her eyebrow raised as she placed three cards upwards upon the table before him, “It most certainly caught your attention. Would you have come to our meetings otherwise?”.

He lined a finger upon the cards in his hand, placing two faced up on the pile before him, the third faced down. “Your games are not welcome Élise de Herbeumont, Witch of the Mystica. He referenced that ancient and denounced organization openly, it seemed like the code really did check out after all.

Her smile wide as her teeth gleamed as if her mouth was ravenous and waiting to devour. She placed two cards face down upon the open cards, then one upon the middle faced up toward him. “Then you sign these documents as per our agreement. This will establish a Perrench holding company under your name. The terms are as generous as we discussed, and this charter is to be filed in Ersand’Enise as public record.”

He placed a single faced down card upon the middle deck as he blew a sharp whistle. The noisy tavern uninterrupted as the second figure sat herself along the man and began to pour through the documents. He leaned back, and he looked toward her, “Your father is a loyal baron to our house. Had you simply presented this proposal to us directly, we may have considered it.”.

Madame Rose Bleue worked the letter opener tip under her fingernails, seeming to be unfazed by the comment. “This would require the Baroness to owe you a favour. Under these circumstances, you owe me the favour, and we could have easily reduced your share, and you still would have accepted it.”

He grunted as she saw through his little ruse, though the other female beside him raised her head after reading through the document, “It all checks out. Including the part you were not going to tell us about.” Her gaze locked upon the woman in front of them. “The small scribble. We would be bound by Ersand’Enise foreign policy, so during a time of war, we would risk being unable to access our share of the company. We would be expected to trade with…” She lifted the paper toward the gentleman beside her, so he could see, as she whispered toward him to explain the nuance. He looked displeased as his eyes peered toward her, “This would make us traitors to Perrence.”

“You are right, but you are also wrong.” She moved a finger to tap the estimated location of the figure listed by the profit margin as a reminder of predicted wealth they would have access to. “You are only traitors if you trade to the Central Alliance, but not to Ersand’Enise. There's your loophole.”

“How is that any different? We are expected to trade without restriction. If we are approached, we cannot refuse.”. The female beside him pondered for a moment as she considered the meaning, “You have access to a company who is trading within the Central Alliance, registered in Ersand’Enise. You are suggesting we trade through them, allowing access to both markets.”

“You share a warehouse. How else could King Rouis enjoy his Tourrare beef otherwise.” She winked toward the pair as she pointed toward the quill.

“Quel bordel! You fed that to the King?”, the man pulled his hood backwards to reveal his identity, Étienne de Perpignan. “It would have been better if you did feed him the Snowsweeper.” The woman beside him placed her hand upon his, encouraging him to remain seated. “Frère, sois gentil.

“We needed to feed the nobles something they would not recognize, or at least avoid publicly declaring they recognize it.” She playfully bites toward Étienne, “Heard that even you enjoyed it.”

Frédérique sighed as she moved to grab the quill, signing upon the document. “Wait, what are you doing?”, turning to stare toward her in surprise. “It is already clear, brother. We were deceived, however, with these terms, we are predicted to profit greatly from this arrangement. The terms are designed in a way that if we avoid drawing attention, there will be no consequences. The emphasis on the last part, a threat. Étienne took the quill as he signed it after her, almost throwing the papers toward Madame Rose Bleue.

“Prudence est mère de sûreté. discretion is the better part of valour. She waved away the nobles as they left the tavern disgruntled, but potentially far richer as a result.

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Wolfieh
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Wolfieh eternally terrified / he/they

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[ Nox Arcanum ] | [ @Wolfieh ]

Kaspar’s months passed… quite tamely, all things considered. His time in the Forked Tower provided significant learning and practice on Dark Magic, but after that week, there wasn’t exactly opportunity to learn or practice. Instead, his studies were relegated to those overseen by the academy. In the wake of a new forbidden magic, even his research into Blood Magic fell by the wayside, remaining little more than theoretical.

Despite his keen knowledge that he’d developed feelings for Ayla, the boy did not admit them to anyone—least of all their subject. He would, someday. But it was a matter of timing, and their were other things he felt she deserved to know first. He’d picked out the right moment, though—in no small part thanks to Ahn-Dami. Now, he simply needed to wait.

He did, surprisingly, begin spending much more time with another student: Ingrid Penderson. After his purchase of a lifetime supply of barbecue sauce, she had approached him with an offer. Over several discussions, the two agreed to be business partners—Kaspar, with the idea and the sauce, and Ingrid with the funds and experience.

It had been itching at the back of his mind since Torragon—like some faded memory he couldn’t quite grasp. Sausages, served like sandwiches… He blamed it in part for the inspiration of Varmkorv’s name.

Varmkorv, who’s banded red shell had begun to crack. Who had not yet emerged, but was preparing to. Tomsøthet and Blåbærterte spent more time by the egg than ever, almost as if they fancied themselves its parents. Feit-og-Sint would watch it from underneath the cupboard, staying awake into the long hours of the night.

In the recent week, Kaspar had been much more focused on preparing his outfit for Nox Arcanum. Brilliant reds and golden accents, smatterings of black in the details. Something regal, deserving of his noble blood—he smirked a little, every time he thought of it. An intricate metal mask, in the shape of a wolf’s head. No one else would know its significance, but he remembered the tapestry that had hung over Alaric Weber’s bed.

Hand-woven by his father, the face of a wolf on a swirling, deep green background. One that his father would look at with a sense of pride, before he’d lean down to whisper its meaning to Alaric. “That’s our family crest. Not like nobles, who signify their name,” he would say, lips pressed against his son’s hair in a smile. “No, it’s what we stand for. We’re a pack. That means we stick together, always.”

He wondered what happened to that tapestry, after. If they had another child, and passed it on to them—or if his mother was too scared that it might turn out just the same. If they stuck together; did his father feel the same fear Lark had? Did he agree to send Alaric away, or did he only learn afterward? Did he forgive his wife for it?

At eight, when he still cried at the nightmares, he’d sometimes wonder—hope—that his father was out there, trying to find him. Because they were a pack. They stuck together.


Kaspar Elstrøm von Wentoft slid the mask over his face, departing into the early hours of Nox Arcanum.

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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by jasbraq
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jasbraq The Youngest Elder

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An act of kindness?

The merchant boy strolled around the noble district, somewhat uneasy during the evening of Velles the twenty-third. Was it really okay for him to just stroll around here? Perhaps he could come over as noble if he tried hard enough.. and if he was going to find one of the more pesky nobles he could always make a run for it.

After looking around the district for a while he stumbled upon a rather eventful dorm. Fiske decided to cloak himself before looking into one of the windows. Laughter, food, booze. Ah, it looks like a delight to be a part of it The boy thought to himself. oh, how he’d love to be a part of it. A while after taking in the party, a smile formed on the boy. “It seems that this party is not fit for an artist like me, but let me reward you for this entertaining view.” Fiske grabbed one of his small purses and left it in front of the door, knocking on the door and swiftly leaving the area.

Once in a safe enough distance he peered and saw a woman pick up the purse before going back inside. Content, the boy clasped his hands together. “Thank you, Alise.” Once out of the Noble district he laughed. “I wonder if Ipte will look favorably on me now.” He happily skipped towards the swirl. “I also wonder if Alise is free, combining my art with hers is quite the challenge.” And with that, he went in.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Th3King0fChaos
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Th3King0fChaos The Weird

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This is a placeholder for when all the collabs and shit are done
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by BlackRoseSiren


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Thank you @Force and Fury for letting me do this collaboration.
A Date with Sven

Mittria 22nd

It was a chance meeting, beneath that peach tree at the edge of the arboretum on the way to class. Sven saw a girl sitting there and they talked. It became something of a tradition between them: Esmii, coming from the yasoi rooms in the Ever Tree and he, from his quarters in the northeast quarter of the city. It was at that place where their paths always seemed to cross and, after some time, perhaps by unspoken mutual agreement, they decided to stop pretending that it was a coincidence.

Those morning meetings soon turned into evening meetings as they made their way back from classes. The peaches were in season and the trees’ branches heavy with them. Fruit dragons fluttered about and small arboreal mammals skittered among the leaves. More than once, Esmii released Sage and Newt into the canopy. Sven climbed and plucked peaches and tossed them to her. He couldn’t climb like a yasoi, of course, but he wasn’t half-bad.

Perhaps it was inevitable, then, that feelings of more than simple friendship might develop between them. Esmii, however, proved the bolder of the two, or at least the less oblivious. She managed to pluck up enough courage to ask him out on a date, the part of her mind that had always feared instead of hoped certain that he would turn her down. He’d seemed… close with Ingrid. Instead, he said yes.

Esmii decided on something that they both would enjoy, but she wanted it to be something big, not just around the city. That would take money, and money was… in somewhat short supply. While she remembered that Jocasta had the ability to transport people through teleportation, the tethered usually only did so for payment. Esmii wanted… a favour: to bring Sven and herself to a dragon sanctuary, or a place where dragons migrated. It was a relentless barrage of pleading, cajoling, and small favours. Eventually, Jocasta caved. “Far be it from me to get in the way of young love,” she grumbled. “Just… don’t be late. I’m doing another pickup in the area. You can piggyback. You tell anyone I gave you a freebie, though, and I leave you there. Understood?” Esmii nodded and smiled sweetly and Jocasta rolled her eyes.

It is a warm Victendes morning in Mittria when Esmii waits with Jocasta for Sven to turn up. She fidgets nervously, adjusting her collar or sleeves or hair a half-dozen times. Her outfit is nothing special, but she wants to make the effort to look nice - nice by yasoi standards, but mostly yanii ones. After all, she's never been on a date before. Sage is left with Zarina so she can spend time with Nibbler. Newt remains in her dorm room, but she asked earlier Casii to look in on him. Esmii twirls her thumbs round one another, waiting. "I hope he'll enjoy this date." she mumbles to herself. “Ypti please.”

Sven appears in front of her - seemingly from thin air - with a deep purple rose in his mouth. Plucking it out with a theatrical flourish, he grins and holds it out to her. “My lady,” he offers.

Startled at first by his sudden appearance, eventually she relaxes. "Thank you kind sir," she says, sweetly playing along, while blushing. She takes the Rose from his hand and gives it a little sniff. It smells as lovely as it looks. Not wanting to lose it, she attaches it to a part of her outfit. Once it's properly secured, she looks at him with a big smile, "How does it look? she asks him, trying her best to make conversation with him, to help her feel relaxed.

“Like you’ll get eaten by a dragon before I do,” Sven teases. “Jusht… make sure to wear it.” He twists to greet Jocasta with a little bow. “Thanksh for thish. We appreciate it.”

“I own you now,” Jocasta half-jokes, and there’s an intake of Temporal energy. After a moment, a portal appears: a swirling tear in the fabric of reality. It stabilizes and, on the other side is a spectacular mountain vista, picked out by the tethered for its romantic qualities. “Don’t run through or you’ll go splat,” she warns.

Then, Sven grabs Esmii’s hand and grins. “Last one through goes splat!” he teases.

She smiles gleefully, squeezing his hand tightly before glancing towards Jocasta. "Thank you so much for this.”, she then looks to Sven "Shall we?" walking ahead of him, they enter through the portal together, the date has officially begun.

They emerge onto a promontory looking out over a vast and verdant valley. In the distance, loom great, snow-capped mountains. Wherever they are, it appears to be sometime in the late afternoon. Amid the whistling of the wind at high altitude, they can hear the nascent chirping of crickets and cicadas in the tall hillside grass. The two of them come to a stop, Sven brave enough to walk right up to the edge and peer down into the valley beyond. “Echo!” he shouts, his voice bouncing back to him. He twists and grins at Esmii. “Thish place ish aweshome!” he exclaims, “though… maybe a bit colder than I thought. Now, I wonder where the dragonsh -”

He’s so busy talking at Esmii that he misses the first sighting of them: a small family of colourful Yitsaumin taking off from a hilltop and gliding down through the valley. Esmii spots them, though.

She giggles at how sweet he is being. From the big smile and how he was acting, it seems he's enjoying himself so far. Spotting the Yitsaumin, she points to them. "Sven, over there. There's some right there." She says with glee. She moves closer to him, her finger tracking them as they glide down the valley. Hopefully he'll notice them before she loses track of them.

It takes him less than a second to turn on the spot. Sven’s eyes widen. “Hey shmall fry!” he teases, “How can you even shee anything? Come ‘ere for a lift!” He rushes up behind her.

Esmii smiles at him, letting that small fry comment slide. When he offered her a lift, she was curious about what he was planning to do, so she nodded to "Ok." she says, bracing herself to be picked up by him."Just don't drop me." she teases.
That was more or less an invitation to tease her further and Sven did not pass it up. “Oopsh!” he pretended to stumble, but then he was all wonder. She sat on his shoulders for a bit and they gazed out across the epic vista as late afternoon gave way to sunset. They hiked down from their lookout point and then across to another just on time to see a great flock of Thunder Kites take off from their mountainside nests, heading for the distant coast and their dusk hunting grounds.

Sven pulled out his picnic basket and soon they were enjoying jelly toast, fruits, and salted cold cuts. The evening’s usual insects came out and, with them, the bats and dragons that were known to feed on the pests. “You know,” he announced, between bites, “I’m pretty sure we’re actually in Callanasht. Theshe shpeciesh aren’t native to the Twin Continentsh…” They paused to watch a Licksplitter dart in and snag a crane fly with its long tongue, but then there was a splash in the water as the first of the Thunder Kites dived in, searching for its natural prey of Asperic Carp. Sven’s eyes widened. Shune, I wanna get down to the beach! I wouldn’t be able to… convinche you, would I?”

Esmii grabs his hand with her own. Snuggling into the side of him. "Sure, we can go down to the beach for a bit. I'm sure Jocasta wouldn't mind us if we are a bit late." she says to him. The two walk along the beach, the crisp breezes set a pleasant atmosphere for this nice stroll, both looking out to the water, the sun resting on the horizon. Feeling bold she wraps one of Sven’s arms around her shoulder, while wrapping hers around his waist. Fish jump out of the water, some were plucked at the peak of their jumps by Thunder Kites. Both point in awe on how nice the sunset is."I've really loved this, spending time with you like this." she says holding onto him.

Sven nods eagerly in agreement, eyes darting between her and the ocean, where the dragons dart and dive in the burgeoning darkness, their electric tendrils spreading and spidering across the water’s surface, stunning fish. It’s quite a beautiful light show and he finds himself entranced. The waves crash and moan, washing in and out. The light of three moons glistens on the ocean, full and bright and there really can’t be a better moment. Sven leans in, brushes a lock of hair from her eyes, and kisses the girl.

Esmii embraces the kiss and falls into it, placing a hand on his face. To the two of them, this was pure bliss. Time came to a standstill, to them they were lost in this moment that only may have happened for a few moments. With the kiss ending she pulls away from him, her face pure crimson. All she could do at this moment was smile at him. Looking at how late it has gotten. At first she struggled to even form a sentence due to being so flustered from Sven kissing her. Then she managed. "It’s getting pretty late. We should head back, so Jocasta doesn't become inpatient and leave us here." holding his hand.

Sven winked. “Would that really be such a bad thing?” The waves washed in and out. The dragons circled, and the moons glowed. When all was said and done, they made it back just fine.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Wolfieh
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Wolfieh eternally terrified / he/they

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[ Nox Arcanum ] | [ @Wolfieh ]

The festivities of Nox Arcanum marched on, others still celebrating in the early hours of Ipte. Despite that, she imagined Kaspar had returned to his dorm, likely even asleep—as she herself had been, less than an hour ago.

Her fist connected with the wood again, pounding heavier this time. He wasn’t a light sleeper, so perhaps it would take some effort to rouse the boy. Maybe one of his small dragons might wake him, if the knocking was loud enough.

Willa glanced back, to where Adala stood just a few feet away, fidgeting. The girl’s eyes were tired—she’d been sleeping less than she should of late. Though she would need to return hastily to Helbahn, Willa was going to make sure she rested before leaving.

They waited impatiently after the third set of knocks, until another minute or so passed. Finally, with a grunt of frustration, Willa reached a hand down to the knob. She’d break it if she had to, twisting harshly, but—

The door swung open. Kaspar stared blearily at the two figures on his stoop, barely having time to register the first face before Willa was stepping in, the second figure closing the door without so much as a glance behind her. She looked familiar—did she have a sister? He remembered a girl with a similar face who would watch him as often as she could, but she never did approach.

Willa looked sharply around the room, unoccupied save for the small blue and green dragons peaking up with interest by the large, partially cracked egg. “Kaspar?” she called out, trepidation in the word. She hadn’t broken the door… It had been unlocked.

Her feet carried her swiftly to the bedroom, eyes sweeping over each bundle of clothes and lingering on the bed, as if hoping he might still be resting there. She called his name again, bitterly expecting no reply, before returning to the main room.

“Maybe he’s still out? We could come back in the morning,” Adala suggested softly.

“He needs to know now,” Willa but back, face creasing into an apologetic look as her gaze hovered to the girl’s face.

”You need to tell him. As accurately as you can remember.”

And so she began. And soon, Kaspar had sat down heavily at the table, crimson eyes boring into the wood. Tomsøthet sat on his arm, staring blankly around the room while his master listened in shock.

“Why is it so important?” Adala asked softly, nothing but genuine concern in her tone.

”We need all the time we have to plan.”

Kaspar tried to shake himself into focus, but simply ended up—somehow, he didn’t remember—with his head buried in his hands.

“You don’t think they would…?”

He looked up, meeting Willa’s eyes. He could tell she shared the same thought—they already had, with Felix. Who knew what they might resort to, if he did not get out of the way so easily.

Willa sighed, distraught, and sat down at the table.

“Truth be told? They might.”

A small gasp escaped Adala, and subconciously the tutor was already reaching out a hand to grasp hers comfortingly. It was instinct, when she’d taken in the girl and her younger sister after they first began working at the estate—sharing her quarters, making sure to keep them safe.

”I… I’ll do it.”

The silence had stretched so long that Adala startled at his voice. Trying to steady it, he pressed on, “What choice do I have, anyway?”

“There must be something we can do.”

She put the words into the empty air, hoping it might somehow change things. That some answer may be revealed.

”Are you sure this is what you want?”

He knew the answer. He thought about Ayla. Her warm hands, and bright eyes. The way she made him feel safe, and comforted. He thought about freedom, to chart his own path—to choose what knowledge mattered to him.

None of it stemmed from this.

“It can be.”

Floorboards creaked as Adala stood, gently tugging Willa to her feet. “If he isn’t here, then we’ll just have to go looking for him,” she said softly, pulling the older woman out of despair.

”I… I need some time. To think. Thank you, for what you’ve done tonight.”

The door shut softly behind him. He wished it had been louder. He wished it were in pieces. He wished he were, too.

Willa nodded sharply, taking a breath and turning to the door.

For the first time, she saw the piece of parchment hung on the back of the door by a nail, his looping handwriting in the center.

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by McKennaJ71
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Niallus Saberhagen

Nox Arcanum

With Nox Arcanum festivities in full effect, children dressed as monsters scaring each other while laughing. The five moons high in the sky, it clearly was a lovely night. Ingrid and Niallus planned to spend some time together. She had cooked a meal for both of them, then after they planned to enjoy the festival together. Walking to hers he saw Sven and Esmii together, they seemed to be enjoying themselves. That's good.

Hearing a distant scream caused Niallus to stop, at first he thought he was just his imagination, then he heard it again. Looking around, it seems that everyone else around him couldn't hear it. No surprise, this is a festival after all. Wanting to investigate, Niallus moves his way through the busy crowd. A rough guess of where the noise came from. He may have to apologise to Ingrid, for being a little late.

Seems Niallus wasn't the only one that heard the noise. Others arrived, or were already there. Two faces Niallus recognised, Ayla and Desmond. Kaspar, he only heard from Ingrid, since they were planning to open up a hotdog business together. The others were a mystery, A man in a Royal Frobas mask, a Nun and a Knight. He would eventually get their names after. But right now, it seems they have bigger problems. The source of the noises was in fact a dragon.

We managed to stun and topple the dragon. But we couldn't come to an agreement to finish it. Ayla was convinced that this dragon was Zarina. Due to this confusion, the dragon managed to recover and the fight happened again. Niallus managed to help Desmond. As well as helping Kasper however Niallus suffered a minor injury.

During the fight. Ayla managed to summon a demon somehow. It was a demonic egg. The yolk even had an odd shape to it, almost like it had a face. However the fight continued on, but we had the egg demon helping us fight. Even with the egg helping us, since the Nun who eventually gave her name as Sister Laska. While the man behind the Frobas mask revealed himself as King Sancho. This night was full of surprises.

The dragon started to get frustrated so it drew an enormous amount of energy sucked in by this monster. It was astonishing, all the members of the group were all concerned about what was coming next and it wasn't going to come next. Light started to build up in the beast's mouth, it was preparing a breath attack.

Then it fired its breath attack, starting at its feet, it was immensely concentrated, and the stream progressed into what looked like flames, just stand there everyone could feel the heat emitting from this attack. By merely raising its head, the beam sliced vertically like a hot knife through butter. The dragon couldn't even truly control it as its head started to go in different directions. The group was trying to evade as best they could, just enough to survive. However if some of the walls of the structure were destroyed then people would be killed outside. So, the group stood ready to defend, to contain the attack from getting out.

The others managed to defend themselves and the wall. Niallus took quite a bit of damage from it, but he protected the wall from only being destroyed. He couldn't risk taking another hit like that, but when the egg was about to be killed by the dragon, Niallus bravely defended it. This point he had nothing left in him. But somehow the egg managed to ascend to godhood. As the egg built up a huge amount of magic and obliterated the dragon. With its immense power, the god egg managed to produce a very slimy and very naked Zarina. Before it disappeared completely it left three small black eggs. Niallus got one of the eggs, it could be useful in the future.

With the dragon defeated, a naked Zarina was confused thinking that this whole thing is just a dream. Kaspar went round healing everyone who was injured while some others tried to get rid of some of the leftover radiation from the dragon's remains, there were a few things that could be looted. Niallus took A Primordial Egg, which was from the Egg Demon god thing. Fuming Obsidian Thick residue, but luckily his friend Desmond offered to borrow Niallus a glowvein chest to safely store the radioactive material until he found a use for it. With that being said Niallus finally remembered that he was definitely late for his dinner date with Ingrid. Before he left, he asked Desmond if he could drop the chest and the residue off at his dorm in the morning as he was running late for something. Desmond didn't ask questions, he just gave him a thumbs up.

By the time he got to Ingrid's door it was the early hours of Shune. He wondered if she was even still awake at this point. Knocking on the door, it opened. Ingrid saw that he turned up, she greeted him with a kiss, she has been worried about where he has been since he's a few hours late. She holds his hand as she walks him inside. Something was wrong, something icky so she let go. She had a mixture of grime and blood on her fingers. Looking back to him, she realised it wasn't a costume and her concern came through as she asked what the hell happened to him.

Niallus was just glad to see her, giving her a hug. Apologising for making her worry. He asked if he could get cleaned up here and get changed into some of the clothes that he has left here. Then he'll tell her what happened. She grabs a washing basin for him so he could clean himself up. He gives her a kiss. Hopefully they'll still be time to go out together to celebrate Nox Arcanum together, if not, at least they have each other.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Wolfieh
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Wolfieh eternally terrified / he/they

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[ Ayla's Dorm ] | [ @Ti ]

Kaspar strolled down the street between dormitories, looking quite casual despite the turmoil inside of him.

Willa was likely already at his residence, no doubt frenzied by his absence. Hopefully Adala’s presence could keep her calm—but right now, he couldn’t be too concerned about it. He’d cut it close by leaving so late, but the boy didn’t want to disturb the flow of time. Well, no more than he already planned to.

He stopped outside the door, vague memories of a mid-night escapade bringing him—and a scaly companion—to this same building. This time he’d be using the door and actually speaking with the occupant, though.

And thus, softly rapped the knuckles of Kaspar Elstrøm von Wentoft upon the door of Ayla Arslan.

“Sqqqaaaaawwwrrr!”, a loud squeaky roar comes through the door as the boy rapped his knuckle upon it, accompanied by scratching at the bottom upon it. After a moment, the scratching stopped as the door gets unlocked to revealed Ayla carrying Asier within her arms as the Puff-lion was sniffing eagerly toward him.

“He is only dangerous if you show fear, So if you are scared, don’t get within biting distance.” She winked toward Kaspar, as she lowered Asier back upon the floor as she reached out to take upon Kaspar’s hand to bring him into the Lion’s den and well within biting distance of the puff-lion, and the lion cub of Varrahasta herself as she placed kiss upon his cheek.

As the pair walk through the door, she gestures for Kaspar to make himself comfortable as she moved to the kitchen area to bring out the welcoming set as she brought the boy coffee. a range of colourful macaroons to enjoy, and some dried-meat for treating the puff-lion too. “What brings you to see me, Kaspar?” The metal spoon clinking within the cup as she stirred the coffee as she smiled warmly toward him.

Kaspar sat down at the table, crimson eyes taking in the small spread before him. He took some dried meat in hand, holding it down to be happily devoured by the Lion Cub’s lion cub. Once his fingers were determined to be empty enough by Asier, he picked up a macaroon in a pale blue and nibbled on it, one hand wrapping around the coffee offered to him.

He looked up at the warm smile of Ayla, and felt that warmth slide into place in his chest. There was a sort of guilt, too, in knowing that she seemed so at peace and he was here on less happy business. He’d be nearly at a loss for words, in a different time. If it weren’t for… Well.

Kaspar was hyperventilating. From an objective standpoint, he understood that—but it didn’t change the burning in his chest, the panic in his mind. He’d kept it together in front of Willa and Adala, but he’d practically run the second the door had shut. No matter how fast he ran, he couldn’t outpace the coming change.

”I’m not—I’m not me, I’m… I can’t be him, I can’t, I don’t—” He sucked in a deep breath, nearly choking on it. Something, pained and desperate, wrenched itself from his throat. ”I don’t know who I am.”

If it weren’t for her. The glimpses of future he saw in her eyes.


He knew exactly where to start.

“In Torragon, you told me to be who I wanted to be,” he said, voice steady. “And to find you, once I knew what that meant.” His eyes flickered up towards her face, and he saw so many choices laid out before him. “I want to be who I am.” He felt like the floor had been pulled out from underneath him, like he was dropping into a great chasm. But rather than flail… He was going to let himself fall. And maybe the ground would never come.

“I am not Kaspar Elstrøm von Wentoft. And I never have been.”

Ayla raised an eyebrow at the final comment as she looked toward him. She is not exactly sure what to make of it, but there is a pause, “You’re not my Kaspar?”. She turned to look toward Asier who appeared calm in his presence, which rules out any kind of illusion magic.

There is silence for a moment as she thinks back to Torragon, the refuge, and how they found… “...Felix, Kaspar is your brother's name, isn’t it?”, she sighed in relief as she extended to take his hand, holding upon it.

He hesitated for only a moment before relaxing his own hand into hers. He took in her words, trying to think how best to redirect her.

“He’s not my brother. Not… by blood, at least,” he stated. “Kaspar Elstrøm… is an only child. I… was born the son of artisans, a few months after Kaspar. By the time we were eight, he was sickly and I…” He hesitated, fingers shaking in Ayla’s grasp. He looked down at the drink in front of him. “I hurt someone my mother loved.”

“Supposedly, Kaspar died. We looked strikingly similar, so… The Elstrøms took me in. Raised me as if I were Kaspar. They provided proper training so I wouldn’t… So I’d be able to help people. In exchange, I would be their heir. No one would ever know the truth.”

He gently tightened his grip on Ayla’s hand, finally looking back up to meet her eyes. A small and tired smile tugged at his features. “You were close. Kaspar—the real Kaspar—never died. He has the tethering. I didn’t know until I met Felix, and it was… difficult to understand. But I was never Felix, or Kaspar. I’m just…. Alaric.”

Ayla looked toward Kaspar, no, Alaric, with interest. The story certainly out there but it wasn’t unheard of for families to treat family members like pariahs due to suspected tethering. Even her own aunt was made to ‘disappear’, and there were rumours that due to her own more fragile stature, she was likewise afflicted and came to befriend Maura Mercador, a girl just like herself.

She stood up from the chair as she came alongside Alaric. Her arms stretched around him to give him a hug, pulling his head against her as her fingers caressed through his hair as she cradled him there against her for a heartfelt moment. She gently broke the embrace as she looked toward him, “Hola soy Ayla, it is nice to meet you, Alaric.”

It had been difficult to let down the shield. For half his life, it was what he depended on. Shielding the truth, at risk of dishonoring his family (at risk of endangering himself). Shielding his emotions, at risk of endangering those around him. When it finally came down… All of it came down.

He relaxed into Ayla’s embrace, breath stuttering but something so warm in his chest. It made it easier, to trust the decisions that brought him here, those he still had to act upon. As she pulled back, introducing herself, the boy laughed. Wet, through tear tracks on his cheeks, but genuine. He smiled, perhaps wider than he had since he was a boy, and whispered, “It is nice to know you, Ayla.”

She smiled as she moved to sit herself back upon her seat then began to pour herself another cup of coffee, using a teaspoon of honey and a dash of milk, and moved to refill Alaric’s cup likewise. “Is your intention to come out publicly and renounce your… adopted parents and titles?” she continued to gaze upon his features as she pondered his intentions, “What are Felix’s… Kaspar’s… thoughts on this, what would he like to do?”

Alaric wiped his eyes, taking a deep sip of his coffee as Ayla refilled it. Felix has told me he wishes to have nothing to do with the Elstrøm family,” he explained.

”As for what I want… I never wanted the titles or the inheritance, but that was my duty to uptake. Fortunately… this will change soon,” he said, voice rather even. ”The Marchioness Katka Elstrøm is with child. They plan to ask me to abdicate all ‘birthrights’ and join the Stresian Order.”

Kaspar lived alone.

The Stresian Order did not make for a terrible life. He adjusted, as he always had. He kept mostly to himself. The other monks left him to his own devices as often as they could. He projected solitude like a wall, and it was respected enough.

Kaspar wasn’t happy. Not that he had been, after he became Kaspar. There was a brief time, in his first year at Ersand’Enise, but… His studies kept him from dwelling too much.

His fingers drummed on the table as he sipped yet again from the warm cup. ”Even with an heir, revealing the truth could greatly dishonor them, and endanger me. I will gladly abdicate. But with my abdication, they will lose all rights over the course of my life. I will not cause them trouble, but neither will I take the path they have chosen.”

He sighed, silent for a moment. Glancing back toward Ayla, he smiled softly. ”The Stresian Order is… not what I want.”

Her eyes continued to focus upon his features as she leaned back in her chair. “Are you asking for my advice, my assistance, or simply my friendship?” She lent forward as she pinched one of the macarons between her fingers, popping it into her mouth as she bit into it, smiling as she savoured the taste. “You have the power to choose what you want, you have only to wish for it. What does Alaric wish for?”

Alaric watched her eat the macaron, that soft smile never leaving his face. ”Alaric simply wishes for a chance at life with the person he cares about,” he murmured. ”For the opportunity to choose. And, if he’s so lucky… To be chosen in return.”

He died alone, too. Not of old age, not of sickness. He was murdered.

He died alone, in the dim light of a study. He didn’t see who—just felt the twisting of his chemicals, too fast and too powerful for him to fight against. The ground, as his hands found it, and then his arms—and he was curling in on himself. It was dark outside, and then it was dark inside… And then it was just dark.

He didn't know who, or why. He could guess—perhaps something to do with the strange manas in his blood. Lightbringer and Demoncaller might pose a threat to someone's ideal future. Maybe a fool, trying to weaken the Elstrøm family by killing a "beloved son". Or maybe the Elstrøms themselves.

He didn’t know what kind of funeral a monk of the Stresian Order earned. That wasn’t knowledge gifted to him—if the Elstrøm family provided for something. If those he knew at Ersand’Enise were even told of his death. If Ayla was.

Kaspar died alone, and he was sure he was buried alone, too.

He took a steadying breath, seeming nervous again for a moment, but his voice was gentle as he continued, ”Given the opportunity… I would choose you, Ayla. Your friendship, always, but… If it is what you want, I would choose something more.”

Ayla paused for a moment as she was caught off-guard by the boy's comments. She had been thinking about how she could rescue Alaric from his plight, how she could tell him that they had no power over him, and he had all the power over them. She was thinking of what she would do for him, bare her fangs toward the Elstrøm family and make them cower before her. Yet, when given the choices offered before him, it appeared Alaric had chosen a fourth, an unspoken choice that even she did not consider.

After a loud silent pause, she finally broke the silence, “Alaric Arslan does have a ring to it.” She moved to take one of the macarons from the plate as she chewed upon it slowly. She struggled to string her thoughts together coherently, as her mind was racing. There was a lot to consider, and it is far from simple. She is already betrothed to another, and whilst Alaric, a boy of no notable standing, title, and had no ties to consider, she could stand to lose everything with such a decision. Even if he had asked such as thing as Kaspar Elstrøm, it would have been a difficult decision, though the loss in prestige would be something she could at least recover from. “Do you… know what you ask of me?”

His soft smile saddened, though understanding sat upon his features. ”I do,” he admitted softly. ”Perhaps not by heart, but by mind.” Alaric sighed, eyes returning to his coffee.

”Your friendship, always. There is nothing more I need, and nothing more I would press you for. If it came to pass that there could be something more,” he paused, trying to find the words. ”Then I would be glad. But… I know what we wish may not always be possible. I lack noble blood, but that is a lesson this nobility taught me well.”

Ayla frowned as this situation forced her to appear shallow. She truly cherished Alaric, and more than a friend at that. Already that loss of their innocence was missed as she recalled the boy struggling to understand the concept of a sandwich, and has decided to now open up a stall which specialized in providing them.

She moved her hand upon Alaric’s, keeping it held there as she squeezed upon it. “We don’t want you gone.” She sat and waited with him, as she moved her fingers to intertwine with his. She was stuck, she was lost, and it felt like all she could do was physically hold upon his hand tightly, scared. “Perhaps there is a way for you to stay by my side. We could always hire a mage of your potential, then you don’t need to go anywhere, especially not to the Stresian Order.”

He was content to sit in the silence between Ayla’s words, her fingers wrapped in his. The feeling of flesh against his hand, after all these years, still brought a tremor—but it brought comfort, too, and so he did not let go. “Even if there was not a station for me, or should I need to spend some time away…I will not set myself upon the order. Their work is noble, but… It is not mine to perform.”

As he spoke, Alaric’s fingers plied the gentlest pressure into the back of her hand, back and forth like the plucking of some silent tune. ”No matter the circumstances, or what solution we find… I’ll be there when you need me. Even simply as a comfort, inept as I may be. You have been a support to me from the first moment. I could offer no less than the same in return.”

Ayla nodded and smiled warmly to him, giving the hand three squeezes. She sat with him for a silent moment before she let go and removed it. “You would need to excuse me for a moment, we need to freshen up.” She excused herself, waving as she moved toward the washroom as she left Alaric in the company of Asier. The puff-lion cub looked up toward Alaric as it tilted its head to the side, approaching as it pawed toward him, requesting more treats from him.

Alaric was easy to convince, palming a few treats and offering them to the cub with a soft smile. It was good practice for when Varmkorv finished hatching, though he wasn’t sure how well a puff-lion compared to a froabas. Slowly, so he didn’t startle Asier, Alaric slid himself off the chair and onto the ground, trying to convince the small beast into his lap with bribes of treats. Asier peered up toward Alaric as if he pondered the decision, before committing to the treats as he crawled upon the lap to sniff and bite upon the treats, accepting ear scratches from the boy.

After a while, Ayla returned, freshened up as she appeared to have washed her face, applied some make-up, and seemed more pleasantly fragrant than before. “Thank you for waiting, we would appreciate your support”, as she smiled warmly toward him, though pausing as she looked very confused at him laying upon the floor.

Alaric was still on the floor, though his position had changed. What greeted Ayla was the boy sprawled across it, his tongue half sticking out as he stared dead-eyed at the ceiling. Asier appeared to be gnawing on his arm, hampered only by the sleeve between him and the mage’s flesh.

Ayla walked toward him as she picked up Asier, the puff-lion with a treat in its mouth as she cuddled him within her arms, “Oh well, we liked that one Asier. Now we got to try to hide the body now.”. She smirked as moved over and sat beside him. Her hand stroked through his hair as she giggled, and then flicked his nose.

The faint red of a blush crawled up Alaric’s cheeks as Ayla wandered over, like he’d somehow not expected to be seen. He tried to play the part convincingly as the girl spoke with Asier, mouth twitching to avoid breaking into a smirk. The boy’s blush deepened as fingers moved gently through his hair, the flick of his nose earning Ayla a soft sound, half surprise and half amusement. He shifted his head, leaning against her leg as the mage pulled a treat from his dampened sleeve, offering it upwards to the puff-lion. “Perhaps you could chew on the body, that would help hide it,” he whispered to the pet, a smirk finally settling on his face as he glanced up towards the Arslan beside him.

Ayla lowered Asier upon the floor as she moved his head upon her lap, allowing him to use it like a pillow. “There are a good few years in front of us, Alaric. Your tuition is paid for, you are an accomplished gift user, the academy can offer you a stipend…” and she leaned down to whisper by his ear, The price for your silence doesn’t need to be cheap either. She pinched his ear playfully, “Perhaps we should approach Afraval, we can support you if you desire.”

Alaric’s eyes roamed over Ayla’s face, quiet interest as she talked. As she brought up the future, the struggles it may hold… And the solutions, as well. He felt like he could see the claws she was holding back, ready to sink into the Elstrøm family. He sighed softly—something peaceful at the simplicity of the moment, and something scared at all that lay before him.

“I’ll think about it,” Alaric whispered, eyes drifting shut.

As they spent time together, somewhere nearby… A snake, dastardly thing that it was, slithered through cracks towards the pair, looking to infiltrate their peaceful room. Its scaled body pushed into the improperly latched door, prying it from the frame. With a hiss, it darted forward—and was stopped in its tracks by the teeth of a fearsome puff-lion cub, biting into its neck. With several vigorous shakes of his head, the threat was put to an end. No snakes would bite on this evening.

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Trials and Tribulations V

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

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Dies Arcanum

The hours of Ipte were still giving way to Shune when Jocasta forced herself from the comfort of her bed. She compelled herself not to breathe deeply and not to think so much. She was healed of yesterday's injuries, most erased through temporal means. Nonetheless, she felt not her full self at this early hour. It was only Kinetic Magic that allowed her to silently go through her morning routines.

As quietly as she could, the young tethered rolled into the hallway, her weary muscles grateful for the lightness of this new wheelchair. Just above her head, on the second floor, slept Precious Yalen. They did not share a bed yet. Neither was ready for it, but she loved him.

Pausing at the base of the stairwell, she called gently upon the movement of things and rose over the bannister. She let herself down in front of his door and laid an unsteady hand upon it. He was an early riser and would be up soon, she knew. His habits and routines had shaped him that way. My knight in shining armour, she thought at the man beyond the door. Please wait for me. Please forgive me for all of the bad things that I am. Jocasta swallowed and breathed in and out. She had fought Augusto yesterday, at the behest of Father and Mother, when he had tried to use Zarina as a weapon. She had been used as a weapon too. The young woman's fists balled for a moment. She had been used all her life. How can I be so strong but always a tool of others? Is my entire existence to be one life-or-death struggle after another? Her eyes glossed over as she gazed at the door. Is it selfish of me to put you in that kind of danger? She forced her closed fists open. I know you made your choice. I know that you have free will and you chose me, but was I honest? Did you really know what you were signing up for?

She imagined him sleeping peacefully: willed him to be so but, in truth, Jocasta had noticed the changes in her beloved as of late: he wore the robes of a different order now. He was more assertive, and he trained often. She loved him for it all the more: on those warm nights when they went out for walks, on those mornings when they cooked breakfast together, and in those evenings where they would play cards and drink wine with friends. He wanted to protect those things for the both of them - to ensure the future - and it should've been less burden for her to bear. But what if you get hurt? cried something inside of her. It was so much easier being miserable. I didn't care what happened to anyone. I didn't spread myself thin to protect them. One more long breath. She began to gather energy. I need to trust you, Jocasta concluded as she rose. I love you. Less than a minute later, she was gone.

She spilled her guts out to Sancho that morning. He knew everything. Zarina was another one: another whom she cared about, and Jocasta could not let her take the fall. Had the Torragonese king turned hostile, she would've killed him. They both knew it. She'd have died as well, of course, but he had listened instead. Now, just be honest, she thought at Zaz. Be honest and we shall both escape this relatively unharmed.

Dies Arcanum was a holiday and there would soon be many about, but most were sleeping even into the hours of Oraff. She rolled along the flagstones under the late morning sun, reveling in that familiar rumble that traveled up her wheels and connected her to the ground, to something more solid so that the little skyborn wouldn't just float away from it all. She glanced up. The air was starting to smell of Rezain now in earnest: that changing of the leaves, though not all changed in such a warm place. There was a tiny incline and squirrels leapt and skittered through the trees. For a moment, Jocasta just drifted You're delirious, she scolded herself, visibly shaking her head, delirious with exhaustion. Yet, there was more to do.

The bottle of wine sat on the table. It was a present for her engagement and there was poison in it.

"I know you would not waver," said Mother, "but I would like to make things clear between us, going forward."

"If you are to remain a member of this fraternity," said Father, "and under its protection, it must come first."

"A priest," rumbled Grandfather. "I do not trust him."

Jocasta's eyes flashed his way. The poison was not literal. Then, she was preempted. "I do not share Argento's pessimism," Mother assured her, "nor Nero's absolutism, but a time may come when he is a liability or a danger. I pray it will not be so, but come it may."

"And I shall be forced to choose between Ipte and Dami," the youngest of the quartet concluded.

"It has not been easy, these past six years," reminded Father, "building up our strength so that we might finally bring about a better world, sacrificing what we have. I still remember the first time that I saw you." He smiled faintly and shook his head. "We've tried to protect you, Certosa, but you are a woman grown now. There can be no weakness. It is time for you to protect others within the fraternity."

"But not without?"

Mother shook her head. "Where possible, without," she allowed, "but we are the spearhead. The members of this family come first."

"I will not mince words like these others," said Grandfather, "We have grave doubts about your committment. You refuse work. You arrive late and less frequently to gatherings. You have made over three thousand magi using your Temporal Gift to ferry merchants about." His eyes narrowed. "I have always thought you smart, capable, and decent, but I worry that you have been corrupted. If you are forced to choose," he concluded, "We need your assurance that you will choose us and not some outside interest."

Volto Dorato and Volto Nero turned to face Volto Certosa as well, expectantly. She knit her hands together nervously in her lap, holding the one within the other. "I will, of course, choose those who have abided faithfully by me for so long," she assured them, but their tripartite gaze did not waver. Quietly, she crossed her hidden fingers and held them fast. "I will choose the Dieci Volti Nascosti," she affirmed, "in all things," though her heart was pounding and they could surely sense it. I am a tool! she screamed at them in her mind, A tool in all things! A tool again! Yet, Jocasta knew that this was wrong. How Father had picked her up off of the ground: a small, fragile girl with legs that did not work. How he had held her close and comforted her. How mother had fed her and spoken with her, laughed, dreamed, and danced. How Grandfather had trained her, relentlessly but not without fondness. How those secret smiles had peered out from beneath his bristly mustache. They were to build a better world together by tearing down some of the old, painful though it would be. Even Benedetto was to be a part of it. But you said it yourselves, she thought rebelliously, unthreading her fingers as they now welcomed her back into the fold. I am a woman grown. I shall hold the wheel of my own life.

The bottle of wine lay in her lap and Jocasta's day was not yet finished. She waited, now, in an anteroom outside of a well-appointed office on the second floor of Balthazar Hall. It struck her as an oversight, as did so many things about the way the world was designed. She thought of Maura, how it was so much the structure of things that disabled one. Much may be a coping mechanism, she decided, but you are right in this instance. How are you, Isabelle, or Luisa to come up here without assistance from others?

Then, the door opened and a secretary strode through. "The Zenith will see you now," he announced, ushering her forward. Jocasta released the little tabs that acted as brakes on her wheelchair, took a moment to brush some hair from her eyes, and followed. Chemical magic and nerves were the only forces currently keeping her alert. What that life was all just one big perfectly-formed downhill and I could drift home without lifting a finger. Alas, it was not so, and she composed herself most assiduously for the approaching audience.

Claresse Upta, Zenith of Ersand'Enise, was at her desk, dipping her quill in ink and scribbling notes on a page until Jocasta came to a stop just to the side of the two chairs that sat before her. The Zenith looked up, waved a hand, and one of the chairs disappeared. Jocasta quietly maneuvered into its place. "Your Grace," she greeted the eminent thaumaturge, bowing shallowly at the waist.

"Biro Re," came the reply. There was a smile, but it was a professional one. "I don't suppose you have any idea why you're here, do you?"

The tethered shook her head. "I do not, your grace."

Claresse Upta glanced down at some of the many papers on her desk once more, momentarily, and then back up. "Your test scores," she began, "they are exemplary: some of the best in the recent history of this school." Jocasta's heart began to beat a little bit faster. She well knew Macian's rule: Placate first before delivering the blow. The blow was coming. "Thank you, Zenith."

The Joruban looked up. "I was told you had spirit," she grumbled, "spunk." She tilted her head to the side. "Well, you must be terribly bored with your classes if they're so easy. Don't be meek with me. I'll not believe it." She posted her elbows on her desk and knitted her fingers together.

An inner voice warned Jocasta to be careful. She hesitated.

"Come now," prodded Upta, "I know what you are. There's no value in denying it: a twenty-year-old posing as a teen and a lesser member of the Dieci Volti. Don't worry. Not even they can pry into this room." she boasted. Are you really so certain? the younger woman wondered. As if in response, the Zenith smirked. Could she... read minds? "Oh, you've also made quite the profit with your freelance portals, haven't you?" Two-thousand-nine-hundred magi or so, is it?"

"I..." Instinctively, Jocasta's hands began reaching for her wheels. Her pulse quickened and she took stock of the office's energies. Zenith Upta merely arched a brow. "Come now," she almost... taunted, "Had I sought to harm someone as dangerous as yourself, you'd have never seen it coming."

The tethered was filled, then, with the sensation of being a small thing in the presence of some very great dragon. Am I not stronger than you, old woman? She tried not to think it, but she did. "I... do not wish to be dangerous, ma'am," she finally managed, and then she figuratively threw herself at Upta's feet and it all came pouring out. "For as long as I can remember, and that is to perhaps my ninth year, I have been treated as a threat or a tool. If I have strayed in some way, I swear it was only so that I might have something of my own, so that I might not be dependent, so that I might use what scant time I have to..." She shrugged and trailed off. "build something, I guess. I meant no transgression and I will stop and find some other way if you wish it." Everything was at the school. She could not lose it. She would have nobody but the Volti again, and she did not want to return to that.

The Zenith furrowed her brow and adjusted her glasses. She returned to writing and Jocasta's anger flared for a moment. The old woman hadn't even cared. Her cheeks reddened with shame for having said so much. Then: "A good fifty years ago," she admitted, "I was not so different from you as you might believe." She knitted her fingers together and looked up, meeting the younger woman's eyes. "And I am not so unsympathetic as you might imagine. I have not, in fact, brought you here solely for a reprimand." There was a faint smile and it may have even been genuine. "You are a prodigy, Jocasta Re, of a like not seen since the recently departed Paradigm himself first graced these halls, Eshiran bless him."

Claresse Upta rose, walked over to her bookshelf, and Jocasta was uncertain on whether she was supposed to follow. She plucked a tome from it and returned. "I do not think it prudent for you to remain a student at this academy," she declared, and Jocasta's chest threatened to implode on her. It is merely wordplay! she told herself. It must be!

"I would like you to do three things for me," the Zenith decided, regarding her evenly, and Jocasta felt most sternly if not unsympathetically evaluated. "I shall do them if I am able," she replied.

Claresse Upta nodded. "I am almost entirely certain that you are," she remarked. "The first is that your illegal teleportation racket will cease. You may keep your ill-begotten profits, but you will accept no more private contracts in this field and you will speak to nobody of your activities. Are we clear?"

"Very, your grace."

"Very good, Biro Re. Secondly, you will continue to spy for the Dieci Volti, but you will report everything that you tell them to me first. I am not unsympathetic to all aspects of their cause. Dami knows how grossly some misuse their sacred Gifts and how poorly the harm that they cause reflects on us. However, the Volti are extremists and I refuse to believe that a smart young woman such as yourself hasn't had at least some misgivings. Am I wrong?" she prodded.

Jocasta shook her head. "You are not, Lady Zenith."

"No," Upta agreed. "I rarely am. She clasped her hands at the small of her back and something about the entire exchange made Jocasta smile a little bit, despite herself. "The school will have your back, Jocasta, I promise this: in all reasonable matters. You are one of us and you belong here. I know, perhaps, you have heard words along those those lines before, and they were exercised in bad faith." She shook her head and rose, making her way over to the seat beside Jocasta. "They are not, here. You have both my word as Zenith and as a girl who was once very much like you." She sat, still holding a small book. Presently, she handed it to the tethered. "This is the third matter. When I said I did not want you to be a student any longer, it was because I think you could be more. I am well aware of the timeline you find yourself on as a tethered. This is the Exceptional Advancement Test: Second Level. If you pass it, you will be made a Tan-Zeno: the second-youngest in this institution's history. You will have official duties: the teaching of a temporal class among them. You will take on apprentices and you will offer bespoke portal services under the academy's watchful eye."

It was so much! All at once! It was a hand of Reshta! A way up and out of her life's bottomless pit! Yet... wouldn't I just be a tool once more? A tool of this school? She swallowed and looked down at the book, opening it and thumbing numbly through its pages. "If I pass..." She trailed off.

"I believe that you will," the Zenith pronounced, rising once more. Jocasta had to look up to meet her eyes. "though your magnetic is weak." She scowled. "Your arcane could use some polishing as well, and your atomic."

Jocasta knew that her heart was going like hummingbird's wings. She closed the book and backed up a couple of pushes. "And I will have my own place to live? Might I house others there?"

Zenith Upta snorted and arched a brow. "Most people ask about when the test is to be administered first, but yes, you shall and yes, you may."

"Yes ma'am, sorry, ma'am! When is the test?"

Upta smiled. "You shall take it following the conclusion of this semester. You're in Magnetic and Arcane classes, are you not?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Good." The Zenith nodded. "You could use the practice." She pivoted on her heel. "We shall administer it the first week of the intracollegiate break, once your examination period has ended. You had best study up." She retrieved three books from the shelf. "Take these. They will help." She began walking towards Jocasta and the younger woman met her partway. "That wine on your lap, are you planning to drink it?"

The question took the tethered aback. After a moment of startled expression, she shook her head. "I am not really a fan of whites," she admitted, offering it to the head of the academy. "Then this shall be my bribe," Claresse Upta chuckled. They exchanged bottle for books and then they were finished. "Thank you, Zenith Upta," Jocasta mewed. Her head was still spinning, but in a good way. There was a danger, to be sure, but she had been thrown a lifeline. She could do this. She was a woman grown. "It was my privilege, Jocasta, to start such a promising young person on her way." The tethered's blush was fierce as she twisted on the spot, already starting to wheel away. "I-I won't let you down, Zenith. I promise."

All the way home, and into the evening and the night, it was as Jocasta had dreamed that morning: life is all just one big perfectly-formed downhill and how lovely it is to drift without lifting a finger.

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Tku sits on a bollard near the Pharoah Point Light, watching the ships go in and out as he sketches. The last week was crazy, ah? Tku thought as he sketched that wondrous scene of Jomurr rushing into Mudsvile. Making him the centerpiece, slightly larger than the accused and the peasantry smaller, lesser. He is the will of Dami in this piece, holding the accused responsible for the crimes against the meager people. He does up the filth of the Yasoi, shaping her slightly larger than Esmii's size. Tku keeps Nazih mostly the same but makes the shit on him much less intrusive into the scene to not detract from the rest of the image,Your welcome my friend.

Feeling satisfied with the charcoal rendition before he goes further he flips to a new canvas and starts to head back to his dorm to actually paint. Ah! The Swirl was quite the venture, even ventured into the horror stories he heard in Tarlon, Tku shook his head and felt a tingle from where he almost died to those monsters. He didn’t get a good look at the storm but he can imagine the beast.

He stops at the pumpernickel club for some bread and a single piece of fruit for the fun of it. He plops his bag next to the canvas and transfers the charcoal sketch onto a larger canvas. Rough lines were replaced with more set ones. Shaping was done over and over to get it right. Finally, Tku cracked his knuckles and excitedly prepares the paint. Egg yolks blended with some pot ash to make a slurry. Tku whistles as he makes some pigments and only makes what he can handle in 4 hours, any more, and the paint will dry and become unworkable.

He starts with base a base layer of paint, building details as he went. He works from warm to cool for this specific piece, working with warmer colors was more natural for him. He enjoyed the earliest stages because the painting isn’t set, he can still morph it as he sees fit. At a certain point, you can’t change anything, you lose some control over your piece. You are merely the tool to finish it.

2 weeks later the painting was finished and Tku reached out to Jomurr if he would like to come and look at it. Tku had grown deeply interested in the hegelan craft. There was a charm brought to it by artistry and function. His homeland always focussed on artistry than function. If he could learn from them and apply them to his own craft, perhaps he could reach a higher level in his craft. If he wasn’t interested then to the auction it would go, trying to at least cover the cost of making it. This is the problem with making things on inspiration, people might not buy them and Tku has fallen into that multiple times.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

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Roaring Success 𝅗𝅥 𝅘𝅥 𝅘𝅥𝅮 𝅘𝅥𝅯 𝅘𝅥𝅰

King Sancho and Queen Veronica of Torragon had nearly been killed during the masquerade ball of Nox Arcanum by a rogue wildblood. They had been by the Animal Farm, in their supposedly secret spot, but the beast - in truth, an unwitting student - had been teleported their way by the vengeful son of the slain Duke Frannemas. It was a near thing and, mere minutes earlier, thousands of magi had been stolen from that same duke's account as well as havoc wreaked at the ball by members of the Enchanter's Union.

It was all swept under the rug. The incident at the Animal Farm had been the result of an agitated froabas. Sancho's downed guards were not mentioned. All evidence was quickly discarded or destroyed. The damage was repaired. The thefts that had taken place earlier were quietly repaid by the massively lucrative school council.

Officially, Nox Arcanum was a roaring success... as always.

The grim times of Bloody Victendes were behind the school and the city of Ersand'Enise. The nations of the Central Alliance and the Sovereign Pact had reached a tenuous but seemingly more lasting peace, and the portal to Hogh-Munkhelad was soon expanded upon, linking the other four great Hegelan cities, Xochi, and Nashibansek to the City of the Bells. By the end of the calendar year, eight more major cities were in negotiations to join the burgeoning network. It seemed that Zenith Upta's gamble had paid off.

As Rezain deferred to Somnes, the weather grew colder and the drinks and food warmer to compensate. With it, the bubbling cauldron that was the Workman's Quarter and Mudville seemed to cool as well. The commons of the former returned to work, momentarily placated by some guidelines on accountability that the school had added to its conduct code. The 'rats' of the latter had found their cause surprisingly championed by at least a handful of moneyed interests and, as Caldores approached and students and citizens roved about the city, caroling and frolicking in that rarest of treats at such a warm latitude - snow - a date was set for a plebiscite.

They gathered, then: families. They came in all shapes and sizes. Some had much to celebrate and others, much less. Two weeks off of school before the final review period and exams felt like a blessing, though the church bells tolled every day and those students who had joined a semester late received no break whatsoever. Among them were a nun named Sister Łaska, a boy named Rikard, said to be a descendant of Hugo Hunghorasz and his spitting image, and young woman named Kaureerah: an eeaiko of very dubious extraction. In their various ways, they celebrated the ending of one year and the start of the next. It was now Dami-Zept 55, a year considered especially blessed from an astrological perspective.

Those engaged in their last-second studies could only hope it was true. Quills consumed copious amounts of ink, pencils scratched across the surface of papers, and the library was open around the clock. It rained for much of the winter and even snowed a second time. The students were well and truly rooted by now, in this: their new home. Various business ventures flourished and relationships of every sort bloomed. It was a great way to mask the wrongness of the world.

Then, after both a great passing of time and anxiety but, paradoxically, before they even knew it, the exam period was upon them. The near-sleepless nights, warm and cheap meals, and desperate sense of camaraderie that are so a part of youth accompanied that period of three weeks. Pubs and taverns were drained dry when it was all finished. Gifts were given to Master Zenos and groupmates and, gradually, the students' quarter of the city emptied. Generously, the school offered to open portals to a handful of major destinations, free of charge, and the arduous journeys home that had made Hundri returns so difficult for students in the past were no more.

By the thirty-second of Tiptos, when five moons shone high in the sky, a soft rain fell on empty townhouses. There were no more than a hundred or so students remaining in the city. Faculty breathed a collective sigh of relief and took portals of their own to the places they wished to travel for... definitely research. The silent army of cleaners, contractors, and suppliers who kept the city running set to work, preparing it for the school year to come. For the few who remained, it was a chorus of hammers and saws every day, from dawn until dusk, weather permitting. They would have heard those great gangs of workers as they sat up on crossbeams and rooftops, singing as they built the city. Meanwhile, merchants and artisans ran their businesses seriously during this time, stocking up and preparing for the coming swell when the academy's doors opened once more.

Quietly, Greenleaves arrived and the small group of students and staff remaining organized an intimate little gathering in the Arboretum, where one might actually get to know those with whom they'd likely exchanged precious little to that date. Hundri gave way to Stresia and rare migrating birds and dragons like the Lunar Swan, Indigo Krait, and the Blue Whistle-Beak returned from in great honking and clattering flocks, blanketing the sky for minutes on end. Hunters stood out in the farm fields and the rushes by the river, dropping them from the sky, but the meagre efforts of humans and yasoi seemed to have no impact on their vast numbers.

The first of the students returned about two weeks later, trickling in through the port or the Godsroad, mostly, but a handful had booked private portals, and some had entered through the rapidly expanding port of Mudville, just to the south. There, they came upon the former slum in the midst of a transformation. The rough and filthy streets which had earned it its name were nearly all paved over with either stone or boardwalk. One of the Tan-Zenos - a tethered - had been adamant on making that a condition of admittance should the upcoming plebiscite pass. Trendy shops lined the waterfront and a branch of Sealy's Bank had even been persuaded to open there. There was Zenobucks location and, in the distance, where the great wreck had once stood, loomed the black smoke-belching stacks of a small but growing factory.

The portals began to open, for an hour each day, on Vardes the twenty-first. For the next three days, they disgorged youths from across the globe back onto the streets of Ersand'Enise. Gone were all but the very last of the great flocks of flying creatures, all settled now in their nests for the warmer months to come. So, too, had disappeared the construction crews and their merry, bawdy singing. There were only a few still about, working nearly around the clock to finish up some of the Academy's more ambitious projects. The merchants and artisans were ready, as they had been every year for the past half-millennium, to receive the influx. For one entire week, it was more or less a carnival atmosphere that prevailed. The taverns, inns, and guesthouses profited greatly. The student services staff were inundated.

On Vardes the twenty-sixth, bells tolled and flower petals fluttered. For the second time now - but the first for some - the students of the Academy of Thaumaturgy gathered in Balthazar Square to hear their Zenith speak. Flags flapped in a stiff breeze and the sun shone down upon the people of tomorrow, warmer than it had been when they'd left. Their Sophomore year at Ersand'Enise - DZ55 - had begun!

Happy posting!

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Ti
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Ti Per Aspera Ad Astra.

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Event: Re-Cap | Location: Ersand'Enise

Far too long.

Jamboi watched out across the city of Ersand’Enise, as he perched upon the window sill. He has been in this place too long. He has grown sloppy during his time here and people have taken notice. Those who already suspect are given him strange looks he is familiar with. Fugitive glances peeking from the windows and alleyways, the ceaseless whisperings, and the men in dark cloaks following him around every corner. The students here don’t seem the wiser, they think the eyes looking at them are traveller agents, but he knew better. He would have already moved from this place by now, perhaps he would have dared to enter the portal to Tarlon and followed Tyrel. He knows how his kind are treated, he saw it in the girl's eyes when they first met, she also knew, that is why she rejected him so harshly.

Then there were those like her, like a ray of sunshine burning brightly. She came up and straight into his arms and held him there. All he could do at that moment to hold upon her in return, and breathe in her essence. The first time he had felt at peace. The way she looked up toward him, her soul screaming that she needed him. Perhaps his kindness at that moment was an unknown cruelty to the girl, but he was selfish and wanted her shining brilliance. For she was special in other ways that others could not see, as if it were a whirlwind trapped within a bottle. The future was all but unclear. The sight of her got his heart racing, as he grew genuinely excited every time she was close to him.

“Were you thinking about Penny, again?”, the yanii beside him gave him a mischievous smile. He returned a goofy expression and a wave as he looked around the room. It appeared to be a classroom of some description. When did he arrive here? Doesn’t matter, it appeared to be one of those boring yanii subjects anyway, maths. Yanii really enjoy their numbers, as the people here seem to disassemble the world around them into figures on a piece of paper. All that effort, that courage, the beauty, the great diversity that is life, boiled down to a numerical value. It has a simplicity to it which betrays the nature of their minds, small.

He wasn’t one to fall into that trap though, there are intriguing characters amongst them, and he was starting to grow fond of them. There was a girl called Mar’ci, a boy called Des’mon, yanii’s were proven to be worth his interest. There were his brothers and sisters, even the one named Cal. Attachments are too easily being formed here, encasing him, forming a gilded cage that is erected around him, his vision blinded…

He looked up towards the stars. Perhaps we all reside in a cage, together. He stood upon the window sill as he walked along the outside of the building to lay upon the bed on the roof. He should sleep, perhaps Mau’ra will allow him to copy from her Math answer sheet.


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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by dragonpiece
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Ingrid Timeskip

Tku Timeskip

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by McKennaJ71
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How long has it been? How long have I been like this? From minutes to hours, they just blur together to me. I've been like this, stuck in a state of limbo. It's been so long I don't know how long I can't remember what I was before this. I wonder how many years passed, or maybe centuries. My thoughts have been the only thing I can control, to call my own. While my body refuses to respond to me, it's in its own slumber.

If it truly has been such a long time since I was imprisoned, then no doubt in my mind that all my friends and family. Even trying to think about that, I struggle to even remember that too.

I long to be set free from this cage that confines me. To feel the sun upon my skin, gentle breezes that touch my skin. But, I believe that those desires are just a distant memory to me. The only way that I'll be free from my prison, is that someone from the outside turns the key. However, I do think that time will be soon. My only fear is, will this brave new world accept me, or reject me. One way or another, my time to awaken is drawing near.
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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by pantothenic
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pantothenic bored part-timer

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”Sir Ansel. It saddens me to be ordered to subdue someone who has supported the community as much as you have. What a shame this is.” Yalen paced back and forth in front of a man with a canvas bag wrapped over his head, tied to an expensive looking chair by his arms and legs. For a nobleman of his status, Sir Ansel’s bedchamber was quite modest in size. There wasn’t much in the way of decoration either, save for a few family portraits and some tastefully arranged ceramics. The room had already grown dark, as the sun was beginning to fall beneath the horizon. Only a faint wisp of candlelight was present to illuminate the shapes of Yalen, his captive, and another man in the corner wearing the vestments of a High Somnian. He had the phenotype of a Revidian, and a somewhat tall one at that, with light brown hair and a fairly muscular build. He cooly leaned against a wall with his arms crossed, apparently content to spectate the scene that was unfolding.

”My associate and I plied your servants with questions during our investigation. Unsurprisingly, they had a lot of good things to say about you.” Yalen raised a hand and cleared his throat. ”He treats his employees like family. He distributes alms to the poor. He is a devout worshiper of the Pentad...” Though his face was firmly neutral, there was a subtle edge to his voice as he sung the noble’s praises. ”Your butler even went so far as to call you a saint.” Yalen sighed and paced towards the still form of Sir Ansel. He pinched his fingers around the sack and ripped it off the man’s head, revealing a middle aged Perrechman who was staring daggers at the priest. He made a muffled grunt, but his voice was trapped due to the length of rope tied between his teeth.

”You have invented a rather clever identity for yourself. With all the good you do for this community, nobody would suspect you of being a murderer.” Yalen reached behind and untied Ansel’s mouth binding. The older man loosened his sore jaw while the young priest waited expectantly with his back turned. Though he was free to speak, the master of the house didn’t seem to be in a hurry to say anything in his defense. Yalen turned his head sideways.

”Have you nothing to say for yourself?”

“There is no point in saying anything.”

”Excuse me?” Yalen faced his prisoner properly and stepped closer so he could hear the man more clearly.

“Enjoy this farce while you can. It will do you no good in the end. I know your justice system inside and out. Even if you subject me to a trial I guarantee that I will be a free man in a matter of days.” Sir Ansel grinned. “You have no evidence to convict me with.” Yalen crossed his arms behind his back.

”That would seem to be the case wouldn’t it? Those girls you took in were always illegal immigrants. Not only did they lack documentation of their existence, but you could hire them right off the streets while skipping the formal paperwork. Though they always suspiciously disappeared from your household, you came up with some excuse about finding them proper housing and employment outside of the city. Somehow your gruesome activities only served to strengthen your… saintly image.” He shivered in revulsion.

”We caught your groundskeeper skulking around the animal farm last night. He was in the middle of cleaning after your latest mess when we snatched him up.” Yalen’s face grew dark with animosity. ”He confessed to everything as your accomplice, including the location of your hidden chambers. I couldn't tell if I was walking through a dungeon or a butcher's shop.”

Ansel’s jaw hardened, but he did not lose his cool. "With my connections I can easily cut my tail and pin all the crimes on him. You cannot prove anything in court. I will be a free man before long.”

”Indeed... I hate to admit that you cleaned up after yourself rather well. Other than the faint smell of blood there was little evidence remaining of your torture sessions. If I were to push a case forward you would likely be exonerated, just like you said.” Yalen patted the man’s cheek. ”But, I never said anything about staging a trial.” He looked at his fellow Somnian and nodded. ”Brother Pierce.”The man paced forward and assumed a position behind the captive nobleman.

”Victor Ansel. The Dark Somnians find you guilty of twenty-seven counts of kidnapping undocumented minors, twenty-seven counts of unlawful torture, twenty-three counts of murder with a bladed weapon, and four counts of manslaughter. We have been ordered to take you back to our sanctum for mental reconditioning.”

“Dark-” Sir Ansel’s voice was silenced when Yalen shoved the rope back between his teeth. The noble struggled against his restraints, and there was a spike of power as he attempted to draw energy into himself. However, the amount of energy he was able to gather was a pittance, not nearly enough to manifest magic into the world. Though he could not speak, the fear and confusion in the criminal’s eyes was clear.

”It’s plushtail oil.” Yalen opened his palm to show the lord of the house a metal dart. ”For the next few hours your magical aptitude will be no better than a child’s. Brother Pierce, please hold him still.” Victor Ansel was startled when the blonde priest suddenly jabbed his thumbs into the sides of his head.

”Getting stabbed hurts you know. You probably can’t imagine how terrified those girls felt in their last moments. If you could understand their pain then maybe you wouldn’t have killed them. Before we take you with us I will burn that agony into your brain.”

Without warning, Yalen’s magic suddenly surged.


Sir Ansel’s eyes widened, and he began thrashing around in his seat. His convulsions were suppressed by Yalen’s partner, who held the man’s chair down so that he wouldn’t tip over. The seizure lasted for nearly a minute, and when it was over the captive noble was slumped over in exhaustion. Yalen stopped channeling the spell to let him catch his breath.

”What you just felt was the sensation of a knife digging into your chest. It hurts doesn’t it?” Yalen explained. ”This is the pain that you have been callously inflicting upon innocent people. Doesn’t it feel horrible?” He channeled the spell once again. Ansel’s eyes searched the room frantically. He was too weak to use the gift, but he could feel Yalen’s power.


Even with the rope in his mouth, Sir Ansel’s anguished voice was audible enough to be heard just outside his bedroom. Unfortunately for him nobody was listening as his guards were taking a nap in their quarters, thanks to some clever chemical wizardry.

”Endure it Sir Ansel. Endure it with all your might. This won’t be over until you’ve felt the wounds of every single one of the girls you killed. Three.” The struggle session continued for about half an hour, during which the murderous noble lost consciousness several times. Each time he did, Yalen shocked him awake, giving him no respite from the mental assault. He wondered if this killer treated his victims the same way. Ansel’s desperate thrashing slowly abated until he finally became still, sobbing quietly in his seat. When Yalen was finished with him, his clothes were soaked through with sweat and urine, and his wrists were reddened in the place where he pulled against the restraints. Brother Pierce patted him on the shoulder with a heavy hand.

”You can rejoice, for it is over. For now.” He cut Victor Ansel loose and pulled him up roughly by the nape of his neck, causing the prisoner to flinch at the touch. The once proud nobleman was a shivering mess.

”Do not resent us for this, Sir Ansel. We want only the best for you. In the next world you will eventually find yourself crossing a valley of death. You will not eat. You will not sleep. What I have done to you will pale in comparison to the torment you will face there. If you want to have any hope of escaping that hell, you should try to comprehend the suffering of others and repent.”

It was Vardes the 26th, and Yalen arrived at Balthazar Square bright and early. He had been busy ever since returning to the academy grounds a few days previous. His job gave him plenty to do even when school was in recess; because of the cover story fabricated for him by the Dark Somnians, he had to juggle double the amount of work of a normal clergyman. He was also in the midst of reorganizing his personal effects, as he had just received an unexpectedly daring proposition from his wife-to-be. It was finally time for them to try cohabitating, and there were various things to sort out before Yalen could properly move out of his dorm.

Ah, since she is a Tan-Zeno now, that means I will get to see her on stage. His heart swelled with happiness. Jocasta had tried hard to become a person he could be proud of, and her efforts finally bore fruit when she was invited to become a lecturer for the school. For her to trust others and be trusted in return, he could not see this happening a year ago. It took a great deal of heartache for her to come this far.

I have to try harder too. For both our sakes. Yalen pumped his fist silently. He observed the people milling about the square and noted how sparse their numbers were. It was mostly the second and third years who were arriving this early, having already completed the ceremony a year ago. He could already feel the yearlings arriving at the Parade Gate in twos. The Zenith would be standing atop the battlements ready to greet them yet again, just as she had when he was a freshman. Yalen could still remember his stomach cramping up with nervousness that day. It was his first time being around so many people at once. Would there be someone out there like him, a clueless country kid with no exposure to the outside world? Did other Tethered exist who were loved by their parents, and unburdened by the shackles of the refuge system? These were the thoughts that popped into his head when he imagined the fresh new faces attending the academy.

”Whatcha thinking about champ?“ A familiar voice broke through Yalen’s silent rumination. He was all smiles in an instant.

”Izzy!“ When he turned to look at her, Yalen was taken aback. Isabella had already shown an interest in eccentric fashion design, but her appearance quite frankly left him shocked. Rather than a dress, she had shown up to school wearing a rainbow colored leotard and a pair of dark linen hose. She wore a headdress that was full to bursting with monkeybird feathers, and golden bracelets around her wrists and ankles. It was like being greeted by a peacock.

”You like?“ Isabella twisted her upper body left and right.

”What in the world are you wearing?”

”I’m trying out some new fashion for Pelova Fascino. It’s not bad right?“

”Pelova… what?” Yalen’s eyebrow was raised in confusion.

”Oh. Duh.“ Isabella rapped her knuckles across her forehead. ”I guess I never told you. Some of our chums at school pitched in to renovate that smoking heap where the Emporium used to be. They wanted to start some kind of fashion line and asked me to take charge of development.“

”That sounds wonderful. Won’t your schooling be affected though?”

”Nah. I make the designs, I don’t stitch them up. Someone else makes the actual clothes.“ Isabella shrugged. ”How about you? Staying busy with anything?“

”Nothing much I suppose. I have a newly hatched dragon tearing up my furniture and a pair of sea goats living in my wash tub. I’ve also bought a piece of land in my hometown. Then there’s all the work I have to do for the church, and I have to sort out my new living arrangements this year.”

”New living arrangements eh? You finally thinking of flexing the Castel name and moving into the noble dormitories?“

”Not quite… I’ll actually be, uh, moving in with someone.” Yalen sheepishly looked the other way. Isabella was a smart cookie though. She picked up on the hidden meaning right away and gave her friend a good punch on the arm.

”Wow, look at you Yalen! Jo Jo will make you a proper house husband in no time!“ Isabella clapped her hands and let out a cheerful laugh. Yalen’s face grew red as a tomato. He endured Isabella’s lighthearted teasing for a few minutes, until finally the rumbling of a hundred students on horseback could be heard in the distance. Atop the battlements he could feel the presence of Zenith Upta and the other faculty moving along at a steady pace. Yalen smirked at the thought of Jocasta saving herself the trouble and simply teleporting over to the square, but ceremony was ceremony.

”The rest of our friends should be here soon I think. Let’s go save ourselves a spot up front!“ Suddenly, Isabella was surrounded by a cloud of static as she proceeded to float out of her wheelchair. Yalen looked up at her in awe.

”You can float!? …Hey, wait up!” Isabella didn’t hesitate to leave Yalen behind as she carried herself and her chair to the front of the gathering crowd. He hastily squeezed his way through the crowd while offering hasty apologies, earning himself a smack on the head from some lady’s purse on the way. Maybe he should have spent more time studying kinetic magic.

It was good to be back at Ersand'Enise.
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Hidden 7 mos ago Post by RezonanceV
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Evander Fino Synesti

Nox and Days:
Winter Break with Family and Lost Children

"You want to what!" Duke Foscari charged his voice loudly as he heard his son request a ship to sail to a non-existent place on a seemingly fake map. The Duke's chest heaved, inhaling and exhaling deeply to regulate the emotional resistance stirring in his gut.

Evander firmly stared at his father, "I want to go here, with your ships." He planted his finger down on the map laid out on the family table back home. Evander wasted no time on Winter break to get a set of plans rolling.

The fucking audacity of this child. Duke Foscari's nostrils flared, "Do you have any idea what you are asking?" Evander nodded, "I'm asking you to trust me." The Duke jerked his head away from his son, Fuck! His son purposely trapped him between a rock and a hard place. Evander knew he was his father's legacy, and he knew that in order to keep Evander on the path set before him, he'd have to appease the boy to some extent.

Duke Fosacri pinched his lips together, released, and spoke through his teeth with some restraint, "One ship, one crew, one trip." Evander nodded again, "You have my thanks." He turned to face the door and exit but was stopped by his mother entering the room, "My sweetheart!" Her arms were wide to embrace her only son. Evander reciprocated the hug. She released and stepped back to size up her young boy now grown into the man her husband and she could be proud of.

"Came back from school with demands and a head on your shoulders?" she smiled, "don't press your father too much, he's getting older, and his heart needs to rest more often than he'd like to recognize." Mihaela looked to Foscari as he showed disapproval at her comment but was powerless to say anything. Evander's parents, albeit, luckily, found love in their marriage.

Evander smiled back at his mother, "I wouldn't ask for his help if I did not feel this to be important to securing our family's future." His mother's face transformed into a surprised look, "Well, if I did not know any better I'd say Ersand'Enise may have taught you to take initiative, but I think that was already bubbling in you before you left." She looked at her husband, "he sounds like he wants to take on more responsibility, what do you think?"

The Duke gritted his teeth a little, "growing up isn't what I am afraid of, it's this idea he has in his head about a place that doesn't exist!" Evander turned to him, "Let me fall on my own sword." His father stepped forward, "that's what I am afraid of, you're too important to be falling on anyone's sword." At that moment they shared their respect without words. Duke Foscari pulled out one of the chairs at the table, "Fine." He sat down, "What else do you need?"

Mihaela and Evander smiled.

Hours Later...

"Slow down and take it from the top, please." Celestina sat poised and prepared to listen to her brother's cascade of mental energy pour from his lips.

"You see I arrived in Ersand'Enise, and..."

"Boom! She's ambushed by commoners, the stupid lot, anyways Penny grabbed the kid and we shook him up to find out what he knew about the stolen goods," Evander continued while Celestina's eyes widened, her mouth dropping at certain points in her brother's story, and at certain points, she felt annoyed at the fact she had to play house far far away.

Evander threw his hands at her as if he was casting an electric spell, "Thirty-four of these monsters came at us and we survived." He dropped his head, "some of us survived." He recollected the memory of Manfred being cut down and resurrected, it was the first time he really processed what happened to Manfred, and he remembered watching Manfred die. He remembered... Dory... she spoke to herself, then he was back!

Evander glazed at the realization that Dory might have done something to bring Manfred back from the dead, and not in good way. Celestina pushed him out of his thoughts with her hand on his shoulder, "You okay?" Evander replied, "Celestina, do you know anything about Time?" Celestina was confused, "I know it sucks." Evander laughed out loud at her response.

"I miss your candor, Celestina." She smiled, "I miss your curiosity Evander." Evander continued to share with his sister about the experiences he had at Ersand'Enise, and she shared her experiences as a princess becoming a Queen.

Nox and Days:
Synesti's Lost Children

Tears burst from Finn's eyes, chomping down on his lower lip. It wasn't manly to cry. His fist clenched until his knuckles turned white. How dare they. He felt pain stir in his gut. Nauseous and alone. Right when it appeared their fortunes were rising, those bastards reminded us where we sit in their hearts. Finn raised his hand to slam it down in the mud. He was kneeling in front of Moli's Emporium, the place where his father lost his life in that horrible fire months ago.

"'ello lad, you okay?" A hoarse voice scraped at the child's ears. Finn lifted his head from his sunken depression, "No." He observed a man dressed in garments fit for a pirate step beside him. The man knelt down to meet Finn, "ya' know, I know a little something about losing something dear."

Finn could not help but burst into an emotional wreck as the man said loss. "I want to kill every last one of them!" The man raised his hand onto the boy's shoulder, "wow boy, who's they?" Finn sputtered and spit, "the Elites, the Nobles, the problem!" He shrugged the man's hand off.

"Ahh, you'se think these nobles did this do ya?" The man asked. Finn tilted his head, "Yes, who else would it have been?" The man looked the boy in the eyes, "Thieves, in fact, commoners, like us." Finn was confused, "Why would commoners do this, why would our own do this?" The man stood up, "because at the end of the day, there are forces from all walks of life making decisions for their own gain and end up hurting others along the way.... noble... commoner... yasoi... eeaiko.. the whole lot of them."

Finn felt even more depressed, "what's the point of all this then?" The man turned to square his body in front of the knelt boy to give him a few last words, [color=add8e6]"The one you make of it, depending on what you decide, you can one day make decisions and protect young lads like you." He paused to let the important silence set in, "I have work for young lads like you, the ones who want to make their life their own, interested?"

Finn felt an emotion he had never felt before about protecting others like him, that feeling combined with his hopelessness to help his mother make ends meet due to his father's death, he leaned in on the offer with interest.

"Does it pay?" Finn asked inquisitively.

"More than any other job you'll find in Mudville," the man answered confidently.

"Ok, what do I have to do?" The man did not answer, he reached out his hand. Finn snatched it with his own and was raised to his feet.

"Your job is to gather some of your friends who too might be interested in making some coin and meet me back here in four days, will you do that?"

Finn nodded, "How many?"

"However many you can bring." The man answered. Finn turned around to take off running down the streets of Mudville. The man turned in the opposite direction heading up to the Sea Gate until he approached a young man in noble attire and bowed, "M'lord". Evander replied, "Emiliano."

The two got right down to business with Emiliano briefing Evander on outcomes from their recruitment plan, "My men will be ready to present security when Pelova Fascino's site is completed, as for the children, their frustrations, hopes, and dreams are being redirected as we speak."

Evander smiled, "My father was right about you Emiliano." Emiliano's hoarse voice crashed back, "Eh, I'd be dead if not for your father, my debt was always going to be paid back until the end."

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YummyYummy Ayyyyy

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Hidden 7 mos ago 7 mos ago Post by Force and Fury
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Force and Fury Actually kind of mellow

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Ismette, Tyrelle, and Mirette

"Nononoooo" squealed a voice, and a pretty yasoi girl shook her head. "You want to roll your 'Rs' just a little bit. You sound like a cat purring."

Another girl, to whom she bore a strong resemblance, then made a point of purring. "If I were a cat," this one remarked, "I would be sleeping right now instead of practicing how to speak like a Constantian." Right foot and forearm wrapped around a vine, she swung idly back and forth, free foot pushing off at the bottom of every lazy arc.

"If you were a cat, Mirette, you'd be chasing your own tail," offered a third young woman, "and never catching it." She was virtually identical to the other two but for the presence of a short, rounded stump in place of a right leg. She sat astride a tree branch, her remaining foot dangling almost playfully.

Mirette hissed, and the first member of the group perked up. "See, and that's like the way the southerners do their 'Q' sounds," she remarked, seizing on the moment. "Now you try, Tyrelle!"

The one-legged girl looked her way dubiously and, with a roll of her eyes, let out a halfhearted hiss.

"Mediocre, cousin," chirped the first. "Fucking mediocre, even."

"Sue me."

"Remember, you are a cat," her teacher insisted. "Feel your inner pussy. Be the pussy."

Despite herself, Tyrelle cracked up. Mirette snorted, lost control, and nearly fell off of her vine. "Ismette," remarked the former.

"Yes, Tyrel'yrash?"

The one-legged girl rolled her eyes. "Are you serious? Like...actually? How do you keep a straight face?"

Ismette blinked. "Serious about what?" she inquired.

"She's going to keep us dangling," Mirette decided. "We're all just flies in her web."

"But... you are no longer dangling." Ismette remarked sadly.

"Shiin, you're good," Tyrelle admitted with a shiver, leaping down from the branch and landing in a crouch. "Anyway," she continued, rising and casting about for her crutches, "How about this?" She let out a hissing noise.

Ismette clapped excitedly. "Yes, cousin!" She stepped forward, retrieving the pair. "Much better. Now, you need to make it a bit rougher, more guttural."

Mirette was swinging again. She tried the sound, but it ended in a couple of coughs. "It appears I cannot be the pussy," she groaned. "It's all up to you, Hopping One."

"Just imagine you're from Qarii'muuna or something," Tyrelle replied, managing the sound reasonably well and then better within a word. "Just horking up a wad of nasty spit from the back of your throat."

Ismette handed her the crutches and received a little grunt of thanks. Mirette leapt off the vine at the highest point in her swing, landing acrobatically following an aerial somersault. The three cousins walked. "So, be honest with me, Issy," said Tyrelle, twisting on the spot and walking backwards. "You really think we can sound convincing?"

The middle of the three and apparent ringleader shrugged. "I do not know for sure, suunei, but I think it is possible with practice."

"But I just don't get whhhyyyy!" Mirette groaned. "Why are they so sensitive? Why can't we just be Tarlonese and help them?"

"They're the motherland," Tyrelle interjected. "They feel that they should lead but they know that they don't, anymore, and they can't." She turned back to face the proper way, snagging a crutch momentarily on some underbrush.

"It is as Tyrelle says, suunei." Ismette's customary smile faded and she shook her head. "These are damaged lands. The addiction has struck them truly, and many other maladies as well. They do not want outsiders intervening for the shame."

"But we're yasoi, too. Not yaniis!" Mirette protested. "It's... objectively dumb."

"People aren't always rational," Tryelle reminded her, as the three continued down the idyllic forest path. "I think they fear to let us down: to be laid low and forced to admit that they've failed. To... lose our regard," she concluded. "That can be a powerful motivator."

"Suunei," chirped Ismette, somewhere between cheerful and pensive.


"You are a very eloquent speaker."

"As befits a living goddess," Mirette reminded her grandly. "Lady Vyshta - Fortuna herself - incarnate and walk - uh... hopping among us." She winked.

"Praise be!" Ismette squealed.

Tyrelle grimaced. "If I die before twenty-five, it'll be because of embarrassment."

"Do not worry, Tyrel'yrash," Ismette guaranteed. "I am a very skilled binder. I shall reanimate your stiffening corpse."

Tyrelle glanced her way and cringed. "Gods, that's macabre."

"Zombie Tyrelle!" giggled Mirette, doing her best imitation of a zombie walk. "Actually..." Halfway through, she switched to 'zombie' hopping and Ismette laughed. "No, you will make a magnificent goddess," the youngest of the three concluded. "And you're gonna live if I have to frickin' kill you!"

"Yes, worship me," replied Tyrelle, deadpan. "For I am the divine made flesh and definitely not just some girl with one leg and a bit too much mana."

"I have always admired your confidence, suunei!" cheered Ismette.

"Always," agreed Tyrelle, "for all nine months that you've known me."

"The best nine months of my life," Ismette assured her.

"Hey guys," interjected Mirette, "Did you know that, when you die, you poop yourself?"

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