Hidden 1 mo ago 1 mo ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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The transition is always distinct. You were moving; you have come to a stop. Bits of twinkling starlight fade away around you as you blink, your eyes adjusting to the difference in lighting. It’s polite to stand still to let the brief vertigo pass, especially so that you don’t bump into anyone else as they coalesce out of starlight and a sharp burst of the scent of evergreens. (Of course no one overlaps; it’s magic, after all.) But it passes quickly, and there’s a delightful feeling of solidity right after, as if you’re even more yourself, from the tips of your ears to the tip of your tail. Then you can snuff out the candle in your lantern and properly attend to where you’ve found yourself.

The Welcoming Plaza in Crevas is, like many, so solid that everything around it has to accommodate it. The ceiling, walls and floor of the cave that the Civils helped shape around the Crevas Stone are decorated exactly the way that you’d imagine the Nagi would do it: in a profusion of riotous colors, little chips of vividly bright glass forming the mosaics. Thick threads (of cloth, of roots, or of tails, depending on how you look at them) weave above and below and through each other, with ridiculous goblins peering through the gaps, or hands surfacing from the mass to guide or to plead, their edges made clear with little chips of obsidian. Think of one of your comic books, actually, the old four-color kind, except that all the panels have burst under the weight of four hundred different colors, and coil upon coil of undergirding structure threaten to lift right off the page, too.

After all, like most Nagi mosaic art, the art accounts for the shape (or, in this case, the other way around). Run your hand along the wall and you’ll feel the strands standing out in relief, the glass under your fingers indistinguishable from scales, until you touch the leering face of a mad-maned goblin hound or the knuckles of one of the hands emerging from that neon net. Go ahead. No standing behind a museum’s velvet rope here, my dears.

The cave’s got a yawning mouth at the west end, and when you emerge, you’ll find yourself standing in the bright crisp sunlight of Crevas, halfway up and halfway down. Elegant ramps wind their way up the walls of the valley on either side, and the lower city opens up below you, and looking down at those rooftops meant for basking and those rope bridges swaying in the wind and those pennants snapping in the breeze and those painted signs advertising glassworkers and dyemakers and illuminators and gemcutters and goldsmiths and weavers, to say something of the masseuses and the street vendors and the street performers and the coffee brewers and the venturers and the astrologers…

Well, then you might think the four hundred colors of that cave must have leaked out while you weren’t looking and flooded the city below, soaking into the streets and the houses and the silks and the laughter. It’s not Aestival, but no place can be Aestival, so don’t hold that against it. And there’s no better place in all of Thellamie to be during the Festival of Light.

Up and behind you the upper city rises, building up to the great Viperiat, previously the mirror-festooned fortress of a certain puffed-up glowbug. The Viperiat has never been taken in war, as it actively hides even its gates from its enemies; Yuki Edogawa pushed those gates open from the inside. (And she never would have gotten in if not for the cunning help of the Aestivali, let us note. Only they could have so perfectly pretended to betray the outlander heroine!) All the mirrors have been taken down now, despite the glowbug’s screaming tantrums from inside them.

So here we are. The scene is set. Cock your ear and listen to the celebrations reverberating throughout the city; Civelia has come to Crevas, and this may be the most special Festival of Light that anyone here has ever experienced, for—

Well. Read on, won’t you?




Hazel!

Ice cream on a hot day.

You’re already shivering and smiling, aren’t you?

It’s a spiced vanilla, creamy and rich and sharply cold. Delicate little flakes of ice press against your palate before melting back into the cream. The spices find the spaces under your tongue, at the back of your throat, almost tingling there. And you are, of course, careful with the purse that Yuki gave you, aren’t you? Still full of Crowns and Coronets, each one stamped with the Civil emblem on one face and the decorations of the minting Hub on the other, like all of those state quarters you have back home, the ones with exotic names like Texas and Ohio.

And you’re sitting there, on a bench set into a wall on one side of the plaza, surprisingly deep. Naturally, it’s that way so that Nagi can get their coils all up on there, on that nice perch (which is why it is also surprisingly low, your heels resting on the cobbles).

Nagi! You’re in the heart of their greatest city, you know. Not that they’re the only people there, not with the Festival of Light happening today, probably not even on ordinary days, there are plenty of Kel and Aestivali, Serigalamu and Avels, but the differences between all of them are as much cultural as it is in appearance. (Remember: center, south, west, formerly north.) But the Nagi are singularly unique, aren’t they? After all, everyone else has got legs, instead of a thick, well-muscled, sinuous, slightly cool to the touch tail.

(Well. Almost all of the Nagi have those. You’ve already accepted directions from a young man who had the glimmering golden eyes of the Nagi, a sibilant lilt to his voice, and diamond patterns on his legs when his skirt fluttered just so. You still haven’t figured out that he was flirting with you when he put his arms around your shoulders to orient you.)

Perhaps you’re watching that Nagi dancer by the fountain. She descends low enough that her palms brush the mosaic tiles, then rears up, showing off her pale red belly and her impressive abdominal strength, arms working above her ears (and let your eyes run down the hoops hanging from them, too). A small crowd’s gathering to watch, a lingering in the midst of a hundred other things to see. It’s okay to watch her pivot in place, to see her bare spine in the space between her top and her scales, to be engrossed.

Aren’t you?

Give us a moment to watch, or to have your eye caught by the fountain, or to enjoy the ice cream— a moment spent here, sitting on a Nagi bench in the middle of the Festival of Light.




Handmaidens!

That description of the Welcoming Plaza above? That’s here. That’s not quite now. Because you’re the reception party. Sulochana is supposed to be here, too, but from what Kalentia’s heard, it’s unsurprising that she hasn’t made it. The Princess of the Nagi Mercantile Consortium is infamous for overloading her plate and then overcorrecting based on a whim, for all that she’s led the Consortium to a strong year.

You are (or rather Heron is— Rurik, right?) the center of attention as you wait for Civelia’s arrival. She’s up to something big this year, that much is common rumor, but you’re definitely not supposed to tell anyone:

She’s prepared to make another Queen of Light.

Sayanastia knows, in her bones, in the shared essence of that devoured arm, just how big of a task that is. Civelia pours her spirit into everything she makes, like the Fallen Stars do, but she’s a second-tier divinity at best: a creation of the First Fallen, not one of His peers. The caretaker of the Stones and the world, the head administrator of the Civil Church, and an absolutely insufferable paragon of the stiff upper lip.

(At least one Heron has theorized that she literally can’t complain, at least around Heron, because then she wouldn’t be perfect. The First Fallen was inhuman, a sharp-edged ice-intellect that still dripped with cloying sentimentality. Or so Heron vaguely remembers, or felt comfortable claiming that she remembers.)

But she’s not here yet. It’s you, and it’s your job in aggregate to make sure she’s welcomed properly. (Stars forbid that Heron fail at being the honorary Festival Vizier.)

Onlookers pull out their tablets to take candid photos of Heron; giggling children weave underfoot, carrying toy pinwheels and toy prisms and brightly colored streamers; a Serigalamu merchant more brave than clever is trying to explain to Cair how timeshares work; the wind has a hint of Outside moss underneath the spice and the smell of crowds.




Yuki!

Where the mirrors used to be, there’s just tapestries hung over red sandstone. The Consortium came to the conclusion that even mosaics would be too reflective. Doorways that used to be hung with shining beads are now hung with bright but very opaque velvet. Last time you were in the Viperiat, you chalked up the disorienting maze to all the mirrors, but it’s time to admit that, no, this place is always like this. Where the sound of your own breath (or your noises of helpless outrage) used to splinter and come back to you from a dozen different directions, now the Viperiat swallows them up, and the shadows yawn between each lantern hung optimistically from the ceiling.

The sudden crash— no need to be ashamed, dear, anyone might have jumped right out of their skin. (Or, to use the present idiom, their molt.) A Nagi forces her way out of a room just ahead, teeth bared, glancing back over her shoulder, and proceeds to barrel into you. That’s not actually something that happens often, given how aware the Nagi are of their bodies and the smaller people around them. But not this one.

An apology dies on her lips as she looks down at you. “…the outlander,” she sneers. Her pigtails are hung with ostentatious gold charms, lying heavy on her shoulders. “You come and go as you please, don’t you? No need for you to live with the consequences of your political meddling—

“Out!!!!” Sulochana has her upper body through the velvet of the doorway now, gripping either side furiously. “You go back to your mother right now and whine about how you don’t get to treat the Consortium like a set of child’s hoops—“

“—not even a member of the Consortium—“

“—your face is red and breathless—“

“—nepotism which every bylaw of the Consortium stands against—“

“—crushing my friend—“

From underneath the very heavy body of this Nagi, you are still clever enough to recognize two things: there’s probably a bodyguard or two behind Sulochana, but she’s filling the entire doorway and not letting them past, and from the way both their fingers are twitching, the two of them are another set of screamed fragments away from pulling out their Heartblades and dueling right on top of you.

Just another day in the life of a former heroine, right?




Eclair!

Sand thunders down into the vats, roaring, deafening, thunderous. The polewomen working the vats all have fluffy earplugs and communicate through sign language and Nagi tail thumping. Their job is to stir the solvent into the sand. Below the vats are barrels, already bearing the proud logo of Vessenmer Dyes and Paints. As the sand melts away, what is left behind is dye, as close to raw color as is possible.

In other parts of this workshop, dyes are blended in carefully measured quantities to make new hues; in other parts of the workshop across the courtyard, barrels are painted and orders are organized. Under your feet, in the rock itself, barrels sit and age, the color of the dye subtly richening and darkening as it waits in the dark. Rumor has it that some businesses have long, spiraling passages down beneath the city, to the places where even the darkness is wet, there to achieve impossible transformations— but that is a matter of public safety, and thus a banned practice, save for the Alamek family (who hold the monopoly on Outside-soaked colors).

Anesh Vessenmer turns the swatch of wallpaper over and over. Her short-nailed fingers are daubed in dried colors, including a sort of purple-grey that might be useful for painting old thistles. The color on the swatch has not faded since it was carefully peeled from the wall; you’ve seen to that personally. Anesh considers the swatch, and she considers you, and she considers the length of her own consideration, and she considers the sword hanging at your hip.

“We make many sales,” she says. A statement of fact. “Assuming this is one of ours— I’d have to consult the books— it might have been purchased through a reseller, or through the Church. We do a lot of business with them.” Hidden in her words is the glint of her fangs: if you interfere with our production the Church will ask you why, and the Civils won’t pull Heartblades on you but they will pull paperwork on you, and you’re an Aurora, aren’t you? They can find reasons to make polite requests of you, and if not you, then they can make polite requests of people who would pull Heartblades on you if necessary, because they make sure that the world stays nailed down and as pristine as possible for the Queen’s return, and part of that is painting new construction and tastefully adorning their chapels. At least, that’s what I think she’s saying. Maybe you disagree. Her face is flat and does an admirable job of hiding her thoughts.

There is no sign, on the swatch, that it was part of the letter A, before you peeled it from the wall; that the letter was part of the word THAT; that the word was part of the sentence CURSED BE THEY THAT OPEN DEAD INSIDE. Or DEED INSIDE. Timtam’s calligraphy needs work. She has an unfortunate propensity for unnecessary loops and swirls. She also got paint spattered on the carpet. These facts are likely connected.

Out in the courtyard, which has variegated sand between each tile of glass, a small child plays with her rabbit. It hops one way, she slithers to that side. It hops another way, she slithers to the other side. She claps her hands in delight as Mister Hoppy bounces into the circle she’s made of her tail.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Phoe
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Phoe Idol Obsessive

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"Cursed be they that open dead inside."
"Cursed be they that open deed inside."
Meaning? Uncertain. Grammatical nightmare.
Resent use of shorthand alongside calligraphic flourishes.
Give her a piece of my mind later.
Dye confirmed Vessenmer origin.
Sourcing: _____


Posture straight. Notebook held steady. Pen supplied with dye purchased from selfsame manufacturer. Also, held between thumb and forefinger at proper 23 degree angle. Assessment of uniform: mixed. Presentation and wrinkle levels both at acceptable standards but increasing buildup of sand residue on skirts, apron, and armor rapidly degrading to hellish levels of grit and dust.

Mantra: maintain professionalism. Implication of disdain for local establishment height of impropriety and unacceptable risk to investigation. Three taps, pen on paper: reminder of purpose. Eyebrow arched: quizzical, maybe even cute? Smile: dignified and enigmatic, or at least obviously non-hostile.

Proprietress is possibly hostile. Defensive? Possibly concealing illegal activities. Recommend ~~~~~~~////‰‰‰‰‰‰~~~

Sand pours: too loud too loud TOO LOUD TOO LOUD!

Eclair winces, though it does not affect her posture. She dries her pen tip on her Pen Napkin, caps it, and stores it in her apron's left pocket. She blows twice on the notebook to preserve her observations and snaps it shut. Though her ears press flat against her skull and she can't force her left eye open amidst the cacophony, she clears her throat and presses on.

"I appreciate that the question is complicated, Lady Vessenmer," (oh no oh no her voice is trembling! she squeezes a gauntleted fist closed with a soothing clank) "Nevertheless I must insist. Sourcing this specific sample is my foremost priority. So. If that requires a look at your books I would ask that Milady please open them. I assure you that no name or outcome will be unsatisfactory. So long as the information is accurate."

She coughs. She curtsies to fill the awkward silence. The staff fill that gesture with another batch unload. Eclair flinches even harder this time, and the sword at her side rattles against her greaves even through the muffling effect of her skirts.
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Anarion
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Anarion School Fox

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"I feel as if I had been caught between a hammer and an anvil!" said Yuki with a grunt from between the coils. And then she giggled despite herself, as she tried to imagine whether one of the Nagi could ever bring themselves to skewer anyone. It seemed unlikely.

And, well, she mostly needed to worry about negligence, which is why she had called out even as they were about to duel. Being crushed because everyone was too distracted was really the only way, there's simply no way an angry Nagi who actually remembered her would just crush her when they had so many better options to punish a girl.

So when she had her breath back, she just kept going, grunting through shallow breaths, "you all...seem to be just fine with...my meddling...based on your...decorating choices" she manages, a grin still on her face.

The new suit of Kel mail had been such a good choice. Her old half plate was far too small, a child's size. Granted, she'd only gained a few inches since last time and it was obvious that she was always going to be short. But her shoulders, her chest, and her legs were all a lot broader in college than they'd been when she was in the summer of twelve years old. And it meant that now, she was going to be bruised, but nothing was broken or even liable to crack under the weight with it evenly distributed through the mail coat.

"So...are you...going to let me up...before you duel...or what?"
Hidden 1 mo ago Post by Thanqol
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Sayanastia!

All of these colours. In each of them Sayanastia could see the crunch and tear of her mighty jaws. She had thought, when she had eaten the sun all those centuries ago, that the opposite of light would be darkness. It turned out that the opposite of light was stranger than she'd ever imagined. Even now it found ways to surprise her.

"Hey, it's cool," Cair. A voice like the feeling of teeth on her ankle. She sighed and flicked her eyes down, a majestic gesture through her long eyelashes.
"I am not concerned," said Sayanastia.
"You sure? Because you've got like three secret agents aiming heartbows at you right now," said Cair.
"Were you not attempting to reassure me things were 'cool'?" said Sayanastia darkly.
"Oh shit," said Cair. "I mean - don't worry about them, they're probably terrible shots."
"Or they are concerned by the presence of human shields," said Sayanastia, flicking her eyes back up to the Crevas Stone.
"What, noooooo," pshawed Cair. "Nobody thinks you'd do that."
"The last time I was here I rode into town with Civelia tied to the front of my chariot, explicitly as a human shield," said Sayanastia.
"Shit, really?" said Cair.
"Really," said Tsane, not looking up from her book.
"Is there an illustration?" said Cair.
Tsane picked out another book, thumbed it through to a select page without looking at the numbers, and handed it to Cair.
"Oh wow," said Cair. "You didn't mention she was topless."
"That," huffed Sayanastia, "is an exaggeration."
"Oh yeah?" said Cair.
"She was wearing... an outfit," said Sayanastia.
"Do you have an illustration of the outfit?" Cair asked Tsane.
"Stop," said Sayanastia. "It was a military maneuver. It achieved its objectives. And regardless. The point is that I am not welcome here, nor do I expect to be. I will keep my eyes and my hands to myself and that shall be the extent of it."
"Aw, c'mon. They think you're cool," said Cair. "And if you scowl a bit, maybe show your claws, I think I can lean on the timeshare guy to get us some free samples."
"What does a free sample of a timeshare even look like?" sighed Sayanastia.
"It means a chance to pick up some cleaning products, maybe some fresh pillows, break up some furniture for firewood," said Cair. "And it won't even cost us lockpicks to get in. And if you think about it, going to 'clutter thief' would be a huge step up for your reputation, right? I mean, nobody assigns secret agents to aim heartbows at me."

Rurik!

It was a great honour to dress as Princess Heron.

You wouldn't think he could pull it off, but that was just what made it so effective. Not only had he practiced the traditions of the Heroine's makeup from an early age but he had been inducted into the guild of Princess Dressmakers at fourteen. For fifty years he had studied fashion and woven dresses in between his swordfights, mastering new and miraculous designs for the Heroine once she was finally reborn. Everything he had done had been for her even before he knew her; there was no interruption at all for him to continue working for her until she returned.

Now, though, the fire was in him. His weaving no longer ended in an endless room of mannequins. Now he was the mannequin. What an honour!

So he smiled and waved, exactly in accordance with the reach and flow of what he had designed his dress to do. This piece was a water cascade of white stained bloody red; a deathless maiden emerging from a pool of crimson. Wings of brass and gold hovered behind him, gemstones set with the lilac-orange of the Princess' heraldry. A great crest emerged from his upper back and curled over his head, set with crystal shards, part moon and part axe blade. Only the tip stained red as the veil flowed down to cover his face. This was a dress for reincarnation, immortality and war, and represented his tribute to she who fought the demons upon the distant moon. The Handmaidens wore lesser versions of the same without the white, fading instead to pale oranges and violets.

It felt... like he had chosen wrong somehow. The children, he hadn't accounted for the children. This was a dress for a more sombre moment, for moonlight and ritual. But that was to be expected. He only made these, he was not the one who was meant to pick them out. A small mistake, and like all mistakes, it would remain small.
Hidden 30 days ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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It’s real ice cream. The kind that comes in scoops. Not that there’s anything wrong with soft serve! Soft serve is a great treat. You can get it just about anywhere, and it’s pretty much the same everywhere, which means it’s always going to be there for you. A reliable dessert friend. And it’s no insult to a good friend to lose your head a little when there’s a concert in town, and the band’s playing spiced vanilla so rich and creamy, you have to eat it in little bites. Except you have to eat it in little bites already, because it’s hard-frozen, dessert strong against desert sun, which is just perfect, because slow is how you want to eat it. One lick at a time. One nibble at a time. Letting the sweet flavors melt in your mouth, savor every second of spice. And there’s no rush, because you bought it in a big waffle cone (scaled cone?) that’ll catch any errant drips as you make your way down to the crunchy goodness.

He’s not even had lunch yet. Illicit elevenses ice cream. Bought with his own money. Because he could.

The hollow fills with the tap-a-tap-tap of his heels on the cobbles, because the bench is too short to swing his legs about. He doesn’t know he’s smiling with his whole face, only that he’s so happy he could just burst.

He’s on an Adventure. It’s really happening.

He’s sitting on a bench in Crevas. He’s at the real Festival of Lights. He’s got a fancy pouch slung over his shoulder, and if his hands weren’t full of ice cream he’d take out one of the coins and trace the engravings again. He looks up the left side of the plaza, giving the dancer a wide berth, and a family of Serigalamu walk right past him. And! He has antlers! And a little tail! It goes flicka-flick! He doesn’t quite know how! But he runs a hand over the unfamiliar horns sprouting from his curls, somehow both tough and fuzzy at the same time, and it’s all he can do not to giggle in wonder. He scans the plaza, and his eyes cross paths with a bare stomach before bouncing at once to her face. He can watch her face, she’s performing. She. A Nagi. Real. Standing right there. Dancing right there. Aaaaaaaand now he is going to look at the fountain while she shimmies on lower to the ground. How did they make it look like water was coiling up the central pillar like that? It was magic, right? Unless it wasn’t, which could be even more impressive!

Crevas. The home of the Nagi. Shapes he had only seen on paper or - shamefully - a screen, moving. Laughing. Singing. Living.

You know, when Yuki said they were coming here, already, he was worried it was going to be a lot harder? But he’s doing great. He looks from the fountain to the glassworks shop across the plaza, and he doesn’t stop for a moment on glowing white tresses or glittering top. See? Not a problem! He’s passed more Nagi than he can count today, and he didn’t stare at any of them. It’s a lot like summertime back home, come to think of it. Even if people wore less, people were people, and that was no call to treat them like some kind of creep.

The gathering crowd breaks into applause, and he peeks over The Nagi sways lower, and lower, until nearly half of her was lying parallel to the ground. And still she dances, as if the whole world had turned sideways and not her. Just imagine the skill it takes to dance like that, not to mention the strength, goodness. Of all the eyes in the plaza, her lidded gaze finds his. And at once he looks up at the ceiling, brow furrowing, as if he had been thinking about something else the whole time. You know. The sort of thing that people do all the time when they haven’t been staring. Perfectly normal and inconspicuous.

Nicely done, Hazel. Now she thinks you were ogling her for goodness knows how long. Staring, and staring, like she was doing all this for you. You couldn’t have just looked at her like a normal person, no, you had to act as guilty as humanly possibly. Face flushed and counting the ceiling tiles. Stupid.

He should probably just leave. It’d be worse to stay.

Well. He still had a little ice cream left. He’ll leave in a bit.

(And it is awfully hard to maintain a grump in the presence of ice cream. The last bite especially, when it’s the perfect mix of crunchy cone and melty ice cream all in one big delicious burst! (Flicka-flick!))
Hidden 30 days ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Eclair!

Even as you study, you are studied. Anesh Vessenmer is tall— or more accurately, since you are the sort of girl to worry about that sort of thing, she lifts herself up off the ground further back on her tail than some other Nagi do. Isn’t it interesting how height is a choice among these people? It’s not intentional; she barely even notices that she’s above you. She’s just used to it.

She sees your discomfort. She sees the flinches. You see the seeing. You see the consideration.

“I can do that for you,” she concedes, closing her hand on the swatch. “But by the Swallow, girl, it’s the Festival of Light! We’re closing in an hour so that I can send these hatchlings off to see Civelia’s performance. Supposed to be something big.” She’s seen big before; she thinks she knows what big looks like. “I was going to coil in the back with my books anyway. Come back in the morning and I’ll tell you what I’ve found.”

She softens, suddenly, unexpectedly— like glass becoming water. “For Heron’s sake, girl, go enjoy yourself tonight. You maids are allowed to do that much, aren’t you?”

The streets outside are loud and tumultuous, true, but they’re not being here for another hour. The choice, as ever, is yours— and speaking of which, do you celebrate the festival at the Mansion? This day of celebrating the many colors brought into the world by Civelia’s sacrifice, the peace and prosperity that the Queen of Light once brought, and the light that we all bring to each other’s lives.

I mean, surely this would be an opportunity for oneupsmaidship, at the very least.




Yuki!

“Duel?”

They say it at the same time, and they harmonize— the same note of surprised realization that, yes, they were very much about to duel. There is a fleeting moment where a song could start, an elegant duet of animosity. But then the Nagi on top of you scoffs and tosses her head, sending her pigtails swaying.

“So that’s your game, Sully!”
(“Shut UP that is NOT my NAME—“)
“You lure me into position like the chess piece—“
(“YOU barged in on ME—“)
“All so that you can ambush me with your vicious trained assassin!”
(“Her NAME is YUKI—“)
“Well, I shan’t have it! Do you hear me, Sully?! I shan’t! The whole city shall know of your perfidy!!”

She flicks her way down the corridor, dragging the length of her red-and-black tail over you, the agitated tip leaving you a ringing slap to the cheek as a farewell. Sulochana doesn’t chase after, but instead insists on helping you up, her fingers covered in rings and delicate chains.

“Do you happen to moonlight as an assassin, dearest?” She asks through bared teeth, doing her best to smile. “I have a pain in my coils that I need shipped on the slow wagon to Aestival.” She brushes you down, hands as sure as ever, turning your chin this way and that to make sure she gets all the bits of rug fluff out of your hair. “Crammed into a small barrel. How much are you charging?”

She barely gives you time to answer before she’s wrapping you in one of her massive hugs, coils looping about you, hands on your hair, kissing the top of your forehead affectionately. “It’s been too long,” she declares with the authority of an empress and the gentleness of the friend who convinced the Consortium to follow you to war. Her calf-soft skin is warm and her polished scales are cool, and there is lavender oil worked into her raven-black hair. “What took you? We’re barely going to have time for dinner at the Ox’s Eye, I have a private booth reservation for us and Civelia after—“

She stops, goes stock-still, stares into your face in growing horror. “Oh, stonecracks, Civelia! Is she here yet? That— I’ll stuff Purnima in that barrel myself!




Handmaidens!

On Yukisworld, they have someone who reincarnates, too. Every time he dies, his Civils watch for children who choose to play with the right toy, and then they know they have found their hero come back around again. That’s never been a problem for either Heron or Civelia, though. The Snare always responded to Heron’s return, and the Outside roils when she comes back around these days.

But Civelia’s always missing her arm. That’s how the Civils know.

Paladins and Civils— name a more iconic pair— glimmer into solidity before the Stone. Many of the Paladins are being used as packmules, carrying luggage and chests without blinking an eye. The Civils, meanwhile, are all in their formal habits: white and blue, their left arms pinned to their sides and covered with a flowing cloak. Terrible balance for dueling, and it means they need the Paladins to haul for them, but it conveys what it needs to: that like their goddess, they are not duelists. They are the helpmates of the world.

The Plaza holds its collective breath.

When Civelia appears, for a moment there is always the Miracle of Appearance. For a moment she is a statue, haloed in cold crisp dazzling starlight, her eyes brimming with it, diamond tears running down her cheeks, the way that she was when Heron first met her, when they first fought against the Dark Dragon. Then the light recedes, and the mortal body of the goddess is what remains. And what remains now, today, is an ancient woman’s soul battling the body of a gangly young woman, barely Yuki’s age, which is itself battling stress acne.

(It is likely that dying in her sleep at her desk two decades ago caused significant delays to this project.)

Hair-un,” she enunciates grandly, sweeping forward and locking eyes with Sayanastia for a moment before, satisfied that the Dark Dragon is behaving, offering Rurik her hand. “We are honored to once more put ourselves in your care. May your valiant heart be at ease, for I shall safeguard and succor it as twere my own.” Her smile is as subtle and refined as she can manage right now; Rurik is quite possibly her favorite of the current crew. She diplomatically does not bring up Sulochana’s absence.

Behind her, one of the Paladins offers Yana a cheeky wave and grin from under the pole holding up a sacral chest, one stamped with the floral crest of Queen Anagesica. The energy is very “what up, go ahead and try something <3”. Next to her, a Civil rolls his eyes and adjusts his cravat with his free hand. Not too surprising: the Paladins fight the goblins of the deep caves a lot, so their view on Yana tends to be either that she’s basically the same thing as a horror of the Outside, or that she’s proof of Heron’s ability to whip even dragons into line and is thus thoroughly defanged.




Hazel!

It’s the perfume, first, and the jangling of bangles— but the perfume most of all. Light but earthy; jasmine and cedarwood. It’s like being wrapped up in a scarf made of soft and flower and girl.

“First time in Crevas, yah?” The way she pronounces that last word makes it sound like there should be a J in there, wrapping its thighs around the H. “It’s the way you’re staring at everything like you didn’t imagine like colors could be like this. Such a tell.”

Glance over at her face, look down shyly, and then snap right back to her face— go right ahead, we both know that’s what you’re going to do. Go ahead and stare at her eyeshadow, and at the flick of her perky ear, and at the veil. It’s hard not to look at, isn’t it? Rich, sumptuous purple, like her eyeshadow and her silks, thin enough that you can make out the shape of her nose and mouth under it, but patterned with subtle fractals of ivy, drawing the eye in. That’s by design, so you can go ahead and appreciate it.

“Yah, you’re lucky that a treat like you hasn’t been snapped up by an enter-prize-ing serpent.” A similar perfume, with hints of brine, hits you from the other side. As does a hip, sending you scooching closer to your left, right up against the obliging bare shoulder waiting there for you. The woman to your right is almost the same, but instead of that rich purple, she’s chosen a bright sea green, edging into white here and there. “You know, when they get their coils around a cute little thing, they know how to squeeze and not let go? Strong enough to burst entire melons, but—“

“Stop it,” Purple says, raising one glittering-nailed hand to her hidden face, “you’re going to scare him, Seli~”

And it all clicks into place. Because Yuki’s told you about those two girls, slightly older than she was, mischievous and conniving, who sold her out to Azaza and claimed that her victory was all part of their plan. It’s just that now (don’t look back down that top, you are doing such a good job of being a good boy) they are still a little older than Yuki, and thus a little older than you, because that’s how time works, yah? Yuki said they were like matching matchsticks, but the two girls flanking you are more like driftwood.

“But really, I remember my first time here,” Keli says, dripping sincerity, her lashes thick with mascara. “It’s a little overwhelming, isn’t it?”

“Bet you haven’t even seen the statue of Sarkez,” Seli says, leaning back, voice grinning for her. Your purse is still there. Quit worrying about it. “They say if you rub her tail, you’ll be lucky in love, yah? Like Han and the Lotus.”

“Or the— ah, careful!” Keli stops the last of the ice cream from melting right out of the little cone, pushing it back towards the center with her fingers, which come away wet.

Those fingers disappear behind her veil, and the little huff of breath she lets out is all the more agonizing for being almost certainly innocent. Surely a girl would not make a noise like that on purpose. The world would not make sense otherwise.
Hidden 30 days ago Post by Anarion
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Yuki blushes as Sulochana plays with her hair. It's so nice, much better than the crushing coils of a moment ago. Firm and safe, but then her hands are so delicate and the feeling through her hair is soft. And then when they brush her ears...she missed her ears in Thellamie. The feeling sends little shivers running through her and she leans into the hug and purrs.

There's a moment where there's nothing but the sound of Yuki's purring. The hug is perfect. Hugs are wonderful. They're special. Hugs are for long lost friends to say "I care" better than any words. They're for telling someone "you're safe" and "I missed you" and it doesn't matter that she's prattling and thinking and needs to be somewhere because for a little bit, there's just the hug.

But then Yuki does relax and she feels Sulochana tense, and so she looks up at her friend that she has not seen in years, even though they've chatted. "Better late than never. Or better Nate than lever, if you're willing to read a very long and boring joke for a bad pun. Come on, let's get to the ceremony so you can put in an appearance with Civilis! I can tell you about my summer camp fencing class on the way. It's uh, it's not really assassination, I'm sorry to say, but we did learn how to stab things! I also learned to ride a horse there! It's a lot of fun, although I'm not sure how that would work with the Nagi. I think you'd need special horses, or a different kind of mount. Maybe a giant crab or something so you could coil up on top of it while it scuttled where you were going. Do you have those here, I don't remember any from last time. By the way, who was that other Nagi? Do I actually need to be worried or anything?"

Yuki gets Sulochana moving with a gentle hand and prattles as they walk because it's good to see her friend, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't hustle!
Hidden 29 days ago Post by Phoe
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Day 3 addendum: appreciable shift in tactics noted in the proprietress' tactics. She has opened her speech patterns and now favors softer reminders of the world outside her shop.
Possible misread of her intentions earlier? Possible escalation of avoidance tactics?
Note for posterity - once again unable to maintain poise in the face of overloud noises.


"As you say, Milady. My service does not preclude the pursuit of pleasure. Naturally I am not a stranger to the sensation of 'fun'." she takes the time to form bunny rabbit quotes with her fingers around the word, "However. Even a festival requires working, and I--"

Pause. Cock head, shift focus forty-five degrees. The child playing with her pet has traded giddy clapping for closing her arms around the creature and covering it in soft strokes of its fur. Turn head, reconfirm environment. Aural distraction ceased. Dye makers have paused their labors to stare.

The circle, closed. An act of affection indistinguishable from a trap.

The decision to give this establishment space to fulfill my request will ultimately serve the investigation the best of all available options. I accept full responsibility should this turn out to be a ploy.

Once again, Eclair caps her pen and tucks it safely away. Once again she blows on her little book to set the ink and clicks it shut with the exact same flourish. The maid-knight's brilliant violet hair bounces around her shoulders from the motion.

...A moment, if you please. The Order of the Aurora has a semi-contentious relationship with the Civil Church and all its festivals. Even in the days when a Queen of Light was around the maids of the Manor did not swear fealty to her, and this has always left them just a little bit unwelcome at parties, at least the very formal and official ones. A celebration like this one in such a large and important city is practically begging to drag Eclair into some kind of duel, though it may not be one that involves any heartblades.

But that doesn't mean that the festival is unimportant to the Aurora! The love of the Manor is for the world and for the people who live in it, and their mission is first and foremost to see those same things safe above the needs of politics. Of course a celebration of those exact things is welcome among the maid-knights! Contrary to popular opinion, Eclair's sisters are the best at partying! And even if the Manor's own festivals have a tendency to never be held on specific dates but more crop up around general vibes and declarations from the Morning, Noon, and Evening they'd all be idiots if they let the world's biggest parties pass them by.

It's the funnest thing in the world. In truth Eclair is sorry she's missing it. The jousts, the halfpipe competition, the fireworks! Pin the tail on the Maid (which is meant to involve a blindfolded player trying to tie a sash with a (second) tail on it around another girl's waist but for mysterious reasons often devolves into giggling and more thigh touching and butt pinching than is strictly required for good knot tying?)!

The food and the drink on offer at the Manor on this day is beyond imagining. All of the Order's best cooks and bartenders get involved and quite sneakily spend the entire day trying to outdo each other and produce the most lewd-adjacent look of pleasure from their unsuspecting targets (all the knights and in particular fresh squires who don't know what to expect yet) when they taste their offerings. Even the girls who normally don't make the time for formal meals show up with empty plates and extra kerchiefs on Festival day.

Best of all, though? The kissing. Aurora knights are known for flirting among each other most any time of the year but on a big day like this one the games escalate to an entire other level. The drunken pickup lines that have been uttered between would-be lovers are the stuff of legends. The girls who are lucky enough to match up describe nights together that blur the lines between winning and losing so that nobody can quite remember who was pinned and who did the pinning. Or, for that matter, can they remember quite where all the pieces of their uniforms have got to. The disheveled maidens are easy pickings for any enterprising knight for weeks after. All you have to do is sneak up behind them and nibble on their ears and they'll just--

"I will return," Eclair says with the confidence that is only possible under the veil of full Formality, "In one hour's time. There is no need to rush your check on my account. Please simply inform your staff there will be no need to clean as part of closing. On my honor I will handle it myself."

There is no point in denying an Aurora Knight the honor of sweeping. If Lady Vessenmer tries she'll find an expert lockpick and infiltration specialist has sneaked in and done it anyway. At least by accepting she can reserve some manner of direction over the process.
Hidden 28 days ago 28 days ago Post by Thanqol
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Rurik!

Civelia had not always made her introductions so brisk. That was a habit that both she and Sayanastia had been forced to develop over the centuries. Heron generally had little patience for speeches and had, in one of her rudest moves, developed a spell that could fast forward herself through conversations she thought she knew the outcome to. If you were talking to her it wasn't always clear if she was listening intently or if you were talking to the chronological after-image from where she'd sent herself into the future.

The only thing that had really worked at making her knock it off had been to work on their voices. By practicing enunciation and delivery, working in some subtle magical enhancement effects, and cutting out all conversational hesitance and pauses it was possible to delay the Princess reaching for the accelerator. Rurik, for his part, hated using the spell - half the time he'd come out of it either in a fight or a makeout and he wasn't as swift to adapt to those circumstances as Heron was. Part of the act was continuously toying around with the hand gesture to start it, but he erred on the side of not doing that as much as he could get away with.

"Thanks," said Rurik when Civelia was done. He would also have liked to be a bit more formal, but this too was part of the act. The Legendary Hero was as impatient at giving answers as she was when it came to listening to them. He then stood there, vaguely fish eyed and blank - completely unhelpfully waiting for Civelia to continue. As much as he'd have done things differently were he the Legendary Hero, Rurik understood that Heron's mind moved as quickly as the lightning bolt of her heartblade, and it was his duty and honour to not create an expectation that she would be anything different. What a disservice that would be!
Hidden 27 days ago 27 days ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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No! He didn’t! That wasn’t! No no no no no, and also, no!

Okay, so, yes, he did look down. But! He didn’t look down her top! If you’ll rewind the tape, just a little further, just a little further, aaaaaaaand stop! See? See? If you zoom in, you can clearly see a veil between her eyes and. Um. The accused zone. You don’t see too many veils back home. You don’t see many veils in a lot of places, when you think about it. And it’s, the design is, there’s a lot to see from that close up. But, the point is, he didn’t look.

Not directly. There’s peripheral vision, and so, he’s. A w a r e. Of both of them. And he’s really, really sorry about that. But he didn’t look. Not once. Every time his attention ping-ponged back and forth, his eyes were on their faces. Got it? Got it. Okay. Just wanted to set the record straight.

Right. So.

Cute? Him? What? Cute? What? Treat? Him? Little? What? What? What?!

Keli and Seli. “What about the bounty she paid you” themselves. Of course. It all made sense. Some of it made sense. A bit here and there made sense. The important bits made sense, and the important bit was that they were up to something. Which is why they were so interested in his personal space, why they were saying all those things, why they were looking at him so, so…foxily. Oh yes. He was in trouble. What sort of trouble? Troublesome trouble, that’s what. Quietly, he shifted his purse until it was resting safely against his tummy, which required a bit of wiggling on account of two foxgirls intent on squishing him between them.

“Oh. Um. Th-thanks.” Come on voice. We can’t be cracking under pressure. We need you! He gave a tiny nod to Keli for her daring ice cream rescue and inexplicable noises. “Yeah, yeah, it is a bit cold. That is. Um, y-yes, I just got here today, actually. Here, in Crevas, that is, I’ve been here for…longer, than a day.” So have most people here! Excellent observation!!! “I-I haven’t seen much yet, that is, I came here with my friend, and, she was busy so I was just, you know, bumbling around, seeing the sights, and such, yeah.” He glanced to sea green spice. “Appreciate the concern, but I don’t, um, I don’t think I’m gonna get kidnapped off the streets? There’s a lot of people, and, I don’t, um.” Why was she looking at him like that. Why did he know she was smiling if he couldn’t see her mouth. Why was his face burning so much. “I don’t think Nagi typically just. Scoop people up. Randomly. In the crowd. And carry them. Away?”

Seli looked at him. Unblinking.

He gulped, mouth dry, and turned to Keli.

Keli looked at him. Identically.

“Ummmmmmmmmm.”

He turned back. And forth. And back. And forth again.

“That is, to say, I only really just…started seeing stuff, and…”

Were they always this close to him? When he looked at them, all he could see were rich eyeshadow and long, long lashes framing big, glittering eyes, and silky veils woven in dizzying patterns fluttering against the contours of their faces, and his throat tightened and, words, difficult, so, he turned around and oh no why are there two of them? Why are there two of them pointed at him?!?!

“Uhhhhhhhhhhhh…!”

In one swift motion, he pulled his gaze down, chomped the last bit of his ice cream cone, and stared dutifully at his hands balled up in his lap. He chewed. Slowly. Really appreciating the flavors. Nodding, and making several affirmative mmm-hmmms at the assembled company, which was a totally suitable contribution to the conversation. All while his brain overheated with the effort of untangling a myriad of foxgirl problems.
Hidden 27 days ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Amah Vess-Mekel!

[Amah. Come.] You flinch guiltily as you feel the thumps through the floor, filled with the sudden irrational fear that you are going to be chastised for staring at the Maid when everybody else stopped to do it, too. The face that Leiksh pulls at you says that she’s thinking the same thing, and you make a face back before turning and slithering over to Mistress Anesh, who is still working that cloth the Maid gave her in her fingers.

“Yes, ma’am?” Your voice cracks in the middle of the yes, and you take a moment to imagine the floor yawning beneath you and sending you plummeting down to the Demon Queen Hell, where presumably there is only torture by furious ifrits instead of the unbearable awkwardness of being alive. Must be nice, comparatively.

“Take your apron off,” she says. You know, the nightmare scenario. But before you can throw yourself to the floor before her belly and beg her to give you a second chance to prove yourself, she continues. “Go to the Sidewinder’s Arms in Uptown. Sister Tammithyn Murr needs to know that she was right about the Maid Knights. I will stall this one for as long as I can, but she does not have much time. Can you remember that, Amah?”

nod nod grateful nod life is beautiful again the birds are chirping isn’t it so great to be alive and employed

“I told her,” Mistress Anesh continues, to herself, with you right there listening. “I’m not getting involved. Didn’t I tell her? I’ll do my duty to Blessed Civelia, but asking me to fight those— why are you still in your apron, Amah?



Eclair!

dum-te-dum, dum-TE-dum, dum-te-dum-DUM…

You know the song that the child was humming to her rabbit. It’s going to be running in a loop in the back of your thoughts until you can remember the name, isn’t it? An itch in your fingers, aching to be pressed against the keys of a piano, to hunt along the ivory until you’ve caught it like an errant Outside goblinmouse trying to get to the cheeses.

The simplest explanation is that it’s one of the songs that Madeline is always playing off her newfangled spirit tablet. She’d explained to you, gushing, that it’s the latest fad, inspired by Yuki Edogawa: a simple program on the tablets lets you treat the screen like an orchestral room, playing each instrument in turn and then replaying each one together, and then you can mail the resulting songs to your friends. She’s got her face smooshed against hers on every break, going on about music packages she’s been mailed.

The click of the tablets’ picture capture function is a new addition to the sounds of the city, and everywhere you turn, some lucky owner is using one to trap moments from the Festival of Light, giddy at their new ability to make art with the press of a button. What do you make of that, Eclair? And—

“Pardon me, ma’am? Milady? I, ah… would you be willing to help us out?”

He’s Serigalamu, but there’s a hint of an Avel lilt to his voice, the kind passed down by a parent. His companion (no, look at her necklace, wife) is more obviously Avel, but her skirt is the long, wide-hipped sort still popular among western farmers. He holds out a spirit tablet, set into a protective fur case. An expensive luxury, given their Lunar manufacture, but one that more and more people are managing to get their hands on— especially with the Festival sales, and the Princess’s success in negotiating with Kel.

With that in mind, it’s easy to deduce why this man, barely prosperous enough to afford this wonder of the Moon, is asking you to use it for a photo. Out of anyone in the city, surely a maid-knight’s the only one who wouldn’t be tempted to walk away with it. Behind the two, the Golden Arch — a masterpiece by the goldsmiths of Crevas in honor of the goldsmiths of Crevas — rears against the bright sky.



Yuki!

"Purnima Karn-Pana,” Princess Sulochana Arju hisses. You might think there’s not enough sibilant noises in there for a hiss, but trust me, she manages it on account of being a Nagi. “She’s from one of the client branches of the Karnashas, but Humash Karnasha selected her as a successor, presumably because she’s going both blind and deaf, which is the only reason— anyway, Purnima seems to think that the leadership and courage I displayed during the Azaza Crisis isn’t reason enough for me to have received this position, and she’s making an absolute crow of herself in the Lower Chamber, trying to build a coalition of anyone who feels slighted or that they’re not quite prospering enough under my leadership, and… well, after tonight, she might get what she wanted.”

The way she says that, though, isn’t defeated or seethingly furious. It’s impishly haughty, the sound of a Princess laying a trap. She sneaks you a sly glance.

“But enough of that! Tell me about your summer camp and the fencing! You don’t have Heartblades, so you must have been fighting like Maid Knights! It must be so difficult not having yours to hand when you’re back in Yukis— in your world.”

As you head down to the outer stables, and the palanquin waiting there to carry you down to the Welcoming Plaza (after Sulochana considers and then rejects the idea of riding there on an exotic tamed goblin almost like an elephant, just with six legs)— go ahead and consider how you feel about Earth becoming known as Yukisworld in Thellamie. Even if you tried, at this point, you’d probably only be able to get it known as “Yukisworld, sometimes called Earth.” Or, you know, Yukisearth.

(This is actually Keli’s fault. You are vaguely aware you may be owed royalties the next time you see her.)



Rurik!

“We will have need of your indomitable heart,” Civelia continues. “Your puissance shall be the lens through which my light is filtered for the benefit of all Thellamie. So you must be ready in your Tent by dusk, I humbly beseech you. Even if you find something of exceeding interest. Please.” The subtext is clear: Heron needs to be ready to take her place in the ceremony at that time, however the Handmaidens need to wrangle her. Not that she can express displeasure with the Hero of Ages, but she’s had a long time to practice guilt trips, and she always makes sure to tip Heron well for a job well done, tips which inevitably trickle down. When Heron’s around, that is.

Which is something of a sticking point.

Because nobody has told Civelia that Heron is in the Heart of the Moon right now, trying her damnedest to stop it from falling out of the sky and shattering on the peaks of Kel.

“It’s fine? Don’t worry her about it,” Heron had said to you, buckling her travel pack on before she jumped through the portal, deep in the Outside. “Like. Imagine I cause mass hysteria, right?” The lunar wind was tousling her hair; she stood in silhouette against its silver light. “We evacuate all of Kel, and then I come back and it was nothing? She’d finally snap.”

In that moment, as you all stood there, the Hero of Ages had stared for a long moment, flashed a sign of peace at you all, then jumped through and didn’t look back.



Lovely Hazel!

Oh, darling. Oh, you little sweetie.

You have made a fundamental mistake in dealing with these two, and that is—

“But you just got here, yah?” Seli trills, putting one finger up to her veiled chin in thought, and then glancing over at Keli.

“Yah, so you can’t say for sure,” Keli replies, nodding. (She has sensed the Bit. Even if she was just scolding Seli for scaring you, she has to play along.)

“You don’t even know about the Market Wars,” Seli continues, tail swishing behind you. “You’ll stumble right into their intrigues and get all. wrapped. up. in them.”

“Beguiled by their golden eyes, their sinuous swaying, lured close until it’s too late to escape…” Keli lets out a fluttering sigh at the same frequency as the butterflies in your stomach.

“So you’re right, they don’t usually scoop people up at random—“

“—just cute boys who have seen too much—“

“—innocent, unable to explain he’s not a familial agent—“

“—under their spell—“

“—under their coils—“

“—dragged away—“

“—to be buried alive!!!”

Keli gasps and bats at Seli, reaching over you to do so. Her perfume comes with her. “They do not! She’s winding you up, darling.”

“I have been buried alive by Nagi before, yah?” Seli says, and waggles her eyebrows in a way that makes Keli gasp, then snort.

“Nooooo, not like that, look at him, he’s gone as red as Carmine Street! You are wicked~!

“But I’m not winding him up about the Market Wars.”

“She’s not,” Keli admits with a theatrical shrug, her hand almost, almost close enough to touch you.

“Which is why I cannot, on my honor, allow you to wander about without guidance and protection,” Seli concludes, and her arm has snuck its way around your arm, and her sleeve is really soft and gauzy and also she’s not letting go.

“Oh, wonderful, yes!” A second arm shoots its way around your other arm, and Keli gives you a little squeeze with the crook of her arm. “You simply must see the gardens of Princess Cesus—“

“—who was actually a man, you know, like you, and what do you think, Keli, do you think he could ever be a Princess?”

Keli considers you, and you’re standing up now, pulled to your feet by the vulpine scoundrels on either side of you, and maybe your legs go a little weak when she shuts her eyes and says, with a voice like the most sincere sunbeams: “Yah~ <3

And I shall share with you a secret, lean in close to listen:

Seli thinks your voice’s wavering is attractive; it makes her want to see what else she can make that voice do, the ways she could make it squeak and break and fail you. But Keli thinks that you have a very cute face, and would look just darling with your mouth, ah, handled properly, if you know what I mean. Just because she’s the sweet one doesn’t mean she’s not thinking about Gagged Deerboy Noises right now, as her tail’s tip curls and trembles for just a moment.

Don’t give me that look. You did ask.

[Seli takes the string: “Flusterable Little Thing, Isn’t He?”
Keli takes the string: “Pretty Little Thing, Isn’t He?”]
Hidden 25 days ago Post by Phoe
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"♪♪Ah~?♪♪"

The question is asked in accidental melody as Eclair scrapes the depths of her mind looking for the tune before it kills her. It is like an itch, or more accurately a bit of dust missed in sweeping, and only realized or remembered after closing the door behind her. The uncertainty felt uncomfortably like paranoia, and until she had the answer it would be floating through her thoughts no matter how she tried to bend them. Not paralyzing, as such, but shameful and embarrassing and insistent, a tiny drip of water that splashes on her back at irregular intervals.

The obvious solution would be to just ask Madeline. Setting aside the difficulty of asking for a melody by mail she was such a font of knowledge and such a clever knight that she would surely be able to manage. Nevertheless, this was a personal question and Eclair was very much on duty. Though she of course had her own tablet with which to compose the letter the idea of actually doing that during an hour she had promised to devote to leisure time in the context of the festival before returning to an important investigation was so improper that she was--

...holding somebody's spirit tablet? When did that happen? Eclair blinks, and takes a very long look at the man. Then at the Avel woman. Then back at him. At her. At him. She smiles.

"♪♪Ahhhh! Aha~♪♪"

Still in song. But she's closer! Somehow she almost has it, looking at love. She nods with enthusiasm, and gestures him back over toward his wife and the brilliant golden structure.

"This one is Eclair, Sir. It is unnecessary to proffer me a noble title. But I am of course willing to lend my aid. If you would, please sir, take your place?"

She gestures again, but her head turns skyward. Let's see now. She offered assistance without consideration, but can she actually do this? Accounting for travel time she has Fourty-seven minutes remaining to her before she would be unacceptably rather than mysteriously late. The task in front of her would take... six? Yes. Six minutes to perform at her own standards. Could she accomplish her mission with that much time? Was a mere Fourty-one minutes enough time to say that she had "enjoyed" the festival and mean it?

What a ques-- oh. No. It wasn't that Eclair was bad at this technology. There was plenty she did not know about it but her training included invoking the instant painting function and operation of several of its 'zoom' and 'filter' commandments. Point of fact after these relics began proliferating the Order held a contest within the Manor to see who among them could develop the best spell to make them more useful. And Eclair won that contest! She developed a cantrip that allowed for the tactile sensation the screen needed to work it to be passed through a full plate gauntlet.

Now granted, a lot of why her spell won had more to do with, erm, other uses for the spell her Sisters had come up with b-but!

"Oh! No no, please, Sir and Lady, as you were! Hold the pose! Hold it please, we are not done!"

Two minutes remaining. Her charges are flustered and upset; the man is asking for his device back. Disaster, oh, disaster! Eclair's speed startles both of them shock upright as she is upon them almost without intervening frames of motion, pushing them back into each other's arms, tilting their heads until they are looking at each other just so, pulling out a brush and hurriedly fixing their hair before scrambling back to her original... no. One step back and three steps left of her original position.

"At each other, yes! And smile!!"

The magic only lasts a moment. It only needs to. The smiles on their faces are more bemused and harrowed than delighted. But then they start to laugh, and Eclair's finger finds the glyph that will paint them like this forever. With a deep and reverent bow, she turns the device over and carries it closer for them to see. The light in town has shifted. It bounces off the Golden Arch in a way that amplifies not the guild's mastery over goldsmithing, but the beauty of the two souls standing under it. Every shadow seems to say something, and each of them say it from a place away from the subjects themselves. It would be wrong to call it a masterpiece, but--

"Does this meet with your approval, Sir and Madame? If I have failed I apologize; we may try again in five minutes if you are willing to sit this time."
Hidden 25 days ago Post by Thanqol
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Rurik!

He had ruled out telling Civelia immediately. It's not that he didn't trust the Goddess to keep a secret - it's that, well, the fact that her blood pressure got a vote was fresh in his head. The Hero had definitely been right about that.

"No sweat," he said. He resolved himself against any guilt at making a promise that he had no ability to keep. His duty and loyalty was plain. Civelia had her priests and paladins; Heron had her Handmaidens. All any of them could do was trust in the Hero. Anything less was selfishness, presuming that one's own problems were more important than whatever the Princess was engaged in.

Kalentia!

She remembered the moment Heron had left. It was burned on her mind.

She'd had the healing spell burning on her fingertips. It had been there for almost a minute - a lifetime - and still there had been no need to use it. Heron had just gone through every enemy before they could touch her. It had been all she could do to keep up. In the end she'd wound up using the spell on herself. Then her cheeks had burned with shame instead.

How could she have explained? What could she have said? She'd realized too late that barrier magic would have been far more useful for Heron; she could have increased her range of motion by sectioning the battlefield and countering threats proactively. But there was no time to study an entirely new magical discipline so she'd gone further and further into a skillset that was worth less and less. She'd dreamed of being the essential pillar of the Handmaidens, the one who gave up individual glory in exchange for being indispensable.

And just like that. She was dispensed with.

Rurik had been right when he'd talked to them afterwards. The world had been at stake. They were sworn to the world's defense; this was the job, they'd always known it might go like this. They still had a duty.

Imagine how selfish it was to put her own hopes on someone already carrying so many.
Hidden 22 days ago Post by Anarion
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Anarion School Fox

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Yuki takes out her tablet as they exit the main corridors of the Viperiat so that she can take a picture of the space with its new dark tapestries sucking up the sound and light where before the mirrors had created a dazzling rainbow of reflections. It’s different and she’s not really sure when she’ll have another chance to see the Viperiat. It could be tonight with Sulochana, or it could be never if adventures sweep her in a different direction. So she needs a picture! Well, several actually because Sulochana is late, so she doesn’t so much stop to take a picture as turn around and walk backwards, her heels echoing off cool stone as they come down and she snaps picture after picture. She can look at them in the palanquin, delete the ones that are blurry, or uneven, or get the tapestries too dark because the angle doesn’t capture the light coming in from the open stable door. As long as she gets one or two solid ones, she’ll send them around to the chat group excitedly. The Viperiat that she had opened, now redecorated, consecrated from her own work!

Of course, there’s a bit of oddity to it. This was obviously Sulochana’s space now, her home in a way that it was never Yuki’s. That was how it always should have been, but it’s weird to be the conquering hero of a space and then come back and feel like it’s not yours. You’re supposed to feel good about stuff you conquer, right? Going out to the stables added to the weird trespasser feel, even though she obviously wasn’t since last time she had shoved open the main gates after her daring breakout.

She glanced to the side, wondering if she could see the main gates at this angle, but the heavy stone bulwarks and rounded corners of the architecture meant she couldn’t see what the main gate itself looked like. Come to think of it, it probably didn’t see much use anyway, it was so wide it could march in an army, way too intimidating for regular business. That’s why they brought people in via the stables, or maybe a service entrance, or a servant’s entrance, things like that. Much more intimate, much quieter, felt in keeping with all the heavy tapestries.

Yuki was so caught up with her photos that she nearly walked into the palanquin before Sulochana’s gentle coil stopped her with an angled shove that avoided tripping her while arresting her momentum into nearly sitting on those thick, white-pink coils striped with gold for the ceremony. Sulochana really could make herself beautiful in such incredible ways.

Yuki blushes sheepishly and puts the tablet away as she climbs into the palanquin with Sulochana. The rest of the description is only now catching up with her with the photos done. Yukisworld, really? This was definitely Keli’s fault and she would pay for it. In gold in fact because the way you got a foxgirl was in business payouts. Between that and the ransom they had received for her, she was definitely owed some luxury and a little pampering!

“I swear I told most of you that my planet was called Earth, right? Yeah, nothing to be done at this point I guess. Not if you’re using it without even thinking. So Yukisworld fencing, it’s more like a sport than maid knight fighting. You use long piercing swords that are bendy and uh…supple I think is the word for it. Everybody wears special protective clothes, and you get points for scoring a hit on someone’s body but nobody gets hurt. It’s good practice because since the swords are so light and easy to move around the duels go really fast and you usually score a hit in just a few moves. Parry, riposte, score!” She excitedly thrusts one arm in the palanquin in demonstration as she’s speaking, rustling the velvet curtains. “It’s actually pretty different from my heart blade though. I tried summoning it right when I got here and I think it got even bigger and heavier than when I was younger, like it sized up for me at least a little, maybe even more than a little. And like, it’s not really heavy, you know what I mean, but the way I want it to be it has momentum to it. It helps you swing it and when it’s going it puts weight behind it beyond just what I’ve got in my still pretty little body.” She blushes again, but no point denying that she’s just never going to be tall. At best or maybe at worst, she’ll put on a freshmen fifteen in her sophomore year and just get thicker without gaining any more height.

“Aaaanyway, my heartblade is a big heavy axe with a long shaft, but even though it’s a way different weapon from fencing, I still feel like I learned a lot about moving my own body around, how to step and balance and stuff like that, and I think that’s still super useful no matter what weapon I wield.”

She smiles, glances out of the palanquin to see what the market looks like, turns back to Sulochana. “So how are things here? Is it all backstabbing politics and tricky schemes all the time? Tell me what’s happening with Civelia, this is a big deal, right? Juniper said she couldn’t make it from so far out, but told me that every priest of Civelia is going to be in special prayer today even if they’re not here, then she DMed me a kneeling priest and five wolf emojis, which probably means this is important, right?”
Hidden 22 days ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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TheAmishPirate Horse-Drawn Tabletop

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Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa???!!????!!??

How?! How do they know the most devastating things to say? That is! Not fair! Not fair at all! He can’t look either of them in the face, because if he does, he will surely perish, and so he’s got to stare a hole straight through the ground in front of him. He probably meant to fold his hands in his lap, but instead his arms have gone folded around his middle, and the twin pressures of foxgirl whispers and Nagi lore(?) are squishing him into a tight little ball. They mercilessly assault him from both sides, no warning to when one or the other or both will strike. And every time he tries to take a deep breath to compose himself-

It is. Distracting. The perfume counter at the mall always smelled so, so sharp and weird and pungent, he usually just held his breath and power-walked past, never making eye contact with the salespeople lest he invite further stink. This is completely different. This smells warm and soft, which shouldn’t be smells? Those aren’t real smells. But that’s what it smells like, two scents fighting (yet complimenting each other?) to envelop him, and deep breaths - his oldest and trustiest friend - only leave him feeling fuzzy-headed. Which, I suppose he is usually fuzzy-headed, but-

Buried alive?! Seli!!! What does that even meannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

No choice now. No other option. He buries his blushing face in his hands, to the giggles of foxgirls. It’s the only thing to do in a situation like-

PrINceSS? Keli?! What does that meannnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn

Well. Haven’t heard that one before. Goodness.

Okay, so. They’re up to something. One hundred percent. There’s no such thing as the Market Wars, or Yuki would’ve told him about it. This is a foxgirl scheme, and Yuki did tell him about those. That’s why they’re messing with him like this. To what end? No idea. Probably trouble. Definitely trouble. Oh dear.

But they were being pretty nice about it, all things considered. The arms holding his were careful. And soft. They weren’t being mean, not really. And. Well. They hadn’t pushed too hard either. As much as Yuki had said to be careful, they were her friends, right? Of a sort. Kind of. It was a complicated relationship. (And they did play a big part in beating Azaza. (Real people. From Yuki’s stories. Wow.))

Maybe seeing some of the festival with them wouldn’t be such a bad idea. They probably weren’t going to haul him away down the first alley they passed. Probably. And maybe he could figure out what they were planning, or get a message to Yuki, or, something. There wasn’t really a polite way to escape a kidnapping, was there? That would take some figuring out.

But first.

“I-I think there might be a lot of people in line before me for Princess…hood.” He nods several more times than is strictly necessary. Tries to resist as they drag him off, but just can’t get his silly feet under him. Darn. “A-and! It’d, be very rude to cut in line?”

He sees them share a Look. He feels a fond squeeze on each arm. He hears the swish-swish-swish of delighted, fluffy tails. And his heart swells with joy.

Well done, Hazel. Well done.
Hidden 22 days ago Post by Tatterdemalion
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Eclair!

This couple, they are— well, they are a little frazzled, but in a way that is likely familiar to any proper Maid-Knight. It is the frazzlement of people who have been given orders in a crisp, authoritative, but polite tone. (The Maid Voice, as it is sometimes known.) Most people don’t think of themselves as being just another part of the furnishings, at least when it comes to certain arrangements— such as arranging photographs, or forming queues, or defending them from things which go bump in the night. (Every child growing up has some story or another about a friend’s friend who really did have a goblin under their bed or in their closet.)

They accept the tablet back, slightly stunned, and look at the bold colors— still developing, ripening, in front of their eyes, as the cold thoughts of the moon turn to highlights and depth of shadow— and there is a moment where they both recognize the artistry involved. The spirit tablets have many strange capabilities, the methods of which the Lunarians refuse to explain, but their automatic pictures do not paint anything but what is in front of them. This means that there are two compositional styles developing at the same time: an improvisational one so giddy at the prospect of art on demand that it overwhelmingly emphasizes the candid, awkward and impulsive, and a formal one that errs towards being stiff and extremely deliberate.

Yet you’ve managed to infuse the careful planning of the formal school with a sense of spontaneity, as if you could step into the picture and catch what this man is about to say to his wife, some private joke in the midst of the celebrations. On the woman’s face, you catch for a moment the wish that she could hang this up in her house.

(But of course, she can’t. The tablets are miraculous, but the cost of hiring an artist to copy its results onto canvas are prohibitive. Naturally, this means some of the Nagi mercantile families are already doing it, and there’s an artistic bounty out for anyone who can take an aerial photo of the Sapphire City of Aestival and produce a canvas equivalent.)

Then the man’s eyes focus over your shoulder. It does seem that a tumult has been growing in that direction while you fussed over getting this picture just right.

“We should probably—“

“Thank you so much,” the woman says, tugging you over to one side of the street. “Do you charge?”

“Do people do that? Charge for taking tablet paintings?”

“Well, they should. That’s a job if you ever leave the Maids, right?” Her laugh is a little awkward, and she glances to you. “I’m Mel, by the way, and this is Jaks—“

“And she’s brought her entire bloody retinue through the Outside to show off,” Jaks— says. “Wonder what the snakes are going to make of this…

Ready to see what’s coming, or do you already know?



Cair!

The oddest people get drawn to Heron. There’s actually deep magic lore to this; Tsane would probably be able to explain this to you. Something something law of sympathy, something something magnetism, something something nails driven through cloth. But you are not the metaphysics gal. You are Miss Appraisals.

So, here’s an appraisal for you: the armored bodysuit’s putting you in mind of a lovingly patched jacket. Speaks to someone who either takes pride in what they own or who can’t replace it, but refuses to let go of their dignity. It’s a rich green, with plates (or shell?) the texture of lacquer, and its ridges brighten to orange where they regularly protrude. The ones that are worn by Lunarians are immaculate, seeming to repel dirt around them, but this one has lost that impossible luster. One kneepad is scuffed, and several plates are missing, particularly on the fingers of the left hand, leaving only the skintight suit underneath. A pink sash is pulled tightly around the right bicep, suggesting… well, suggesting that the suit’s infamous integrity may have been compromised. Too strictly knotted to be a prize or decoration.

Shoulderless sleeves, a tabard, and loose trousers, all in faded pink— this is where the sash came from, cut from one sleeve. Very revealing by Lunarian standards; they prefer vast, sweeping dresses with long trains. The sleeves are long, flowing, but do not inhibit full range of motion at the wrist. Tsane probably knows whether there are winds on the moon, and if this was meant to flutter in the breeze or to simply hang still and emphasize the way that Lunarians can just stop moving completely.

Like all Lunarian helmets, this one is oblong, sloped, narrow. It is cloudy, impossible to see more than the shape of a face through. Patterns move across it, and even you know enough about the night sky to note their similarity to both star charts and the background patterns of spirit tablets. Things which might be sigils spread and fade over the face— over wherever eyes might be— like frost on windows.

Above the helmet float two long silver-and-pink objects of unknown purpose. One is, unusually, crooked— no, crumpled. The angle at which it floats is crooked. There we go. You likely have your own theories about their purpose; plenty of people do.

“You are the managing of materials for the Reoccurrence.” Now this is interesting. You’ve heard Lunarians once or twice before, maybe, just because of the circles that Heron can— well, not move in, but pop into without repercussions. Their voices are pleasantly, sweetly monotone, never rising above a polite conversational volume, with a reverberating echo buzzing beneath the words. This one?

This one sounds hoarse. The buzz is harsher, not jagged but still pointier than the all-smooth-edges voices of the moon. Like thistles and daisies.

“I am fallen far.” No. Add the capital letters. Fallen Far. “I am requiring the use of a Shaping Matrix. It is impossible for dirt to possess a Shaping Matrix. Therefore only the impossible are possessing one. You are the managing of materials for the Reoccurrence. You are dictating how this occurs.”

…it’s possible that Heron might have whatever she wants. But not in the regular stacks. Not unless a Shaping Matrix is a really fancy term for a paintbrush. You’d need to commune with the Tent’s deeper parts in order to dredge up something, assuming you give this alien the time of day.



Yuki!

>[.rockamt]
>Hey, gals. Something’s come up. Somebody’s stalking a nun.
>Gonna get to hand out a righteous asskicking. Litrally.
>Enjoy the ceremony for me.

>[.praxispacksis]
>Hurry back if you can! Everything I have heard says that tonight will be unforgettable!
>Yuki and Sulochana are going to be there, right? You really won’t want to miss it!!
>O, that I might join you all through some sort of miracle!!


Sulochana has her own tablet out, pulled from her purse. She keeps glancing up at you and smiling as her nails clack over the tablet’s face. She’s properly lounging, too.

A palanquin like this is all pillows and gauzy curtains over a very firm mattress, and it sways from side to side like a ship as the Nagi bear their Princess along. But because her human half is sinking into the pillows, her tail is free to wrap around you casually, giving you a comfortable headrest, making sure not to restrict your arms so that you can pull out your own tablet in turn, and while you wait, there’s the message from Aadya. Kind of a disappointment, right? Whoever she’s going to beat up sounds like they have it coming, though.

“…I can’t get over that name for your world,” Sulochana says as she types. “You might as well call our world Fire, or Light, or Colors. ‘Earth.’ Not even Mud, which has its uses, but plain old Earth. What was your creator thinking?” The tip of her tail strokes your cheek fondly, a cool touch that lingers.

Oh, a new DM. Sulochana is watching you expectantly, even as she continues to type.

>[.realsuloarju]
>This is a secret that even I’m not supposed to know.
>But I think the goddess wouldn’t mind, since you’re not from Thellamie, and since I know you can keep a secret.
>She’s going to remake the Crown of Light tonight, and I think the reason she’s here of all places is because she’s going to offer it to me.
>This is extremely important, Yuki. The Queen of Light isn’t anything like Azaza. She brings prosperity, fertility, facilitates construction, stabilizes land that’s been eroded by the Outside…
>You haven’t seen Thellamie as she could be. I haven’t, either. But the first slither to changing that is going to happen tonight.


As you reach the end, the tip of her tail shifts position, lying over your lips. She winks, and then tugs you towards her. But lying down like this, it’s awkward for her to pull you into her grasp, bordering on impossible; no, it’s an invitation. A request for cuddles as you ride. She’s still a giant cuddle bug, and she probably wants carefully worded reassurances that she’s going to make a good… generic leader, doing generic leader things.

As for the market— you clever thing, you remembered that Whitemarket is on the way. It is one of the best luxury marketplaces in Thellamie, situated in the middle of the wealthy residential area which lies below the Viperiat. Most of the goods which line the winding sub-streets of Whitemarket are display pieces, and you are intended to commission a bespoke product after inspecting them, barring several specialty import shops. Between you and me, it’s largely notable for being expensive and having prestigious names attached to the pieces, and most of its “specialities” should be purchased elsewhere.

It’s got a markup on glasswork almost everywhere, for example, claiming that bringing pieces all the way up from the lower city and choosing only the best materials for clients justifies a larger price, but if you actually know what you’re looking for and how to judge glasswork, you can get much better deals in the Market of Refractions downcity. The same goes for perfumes; unless you want to strictly buy local or want to be assured that you’re buying only guaranteed masterpieces of scent, you’d be better suited by going to the Cosmosial near the Welcoming Plaza and buying straight from Aestivali perfumers, or better yet, going all the way to Chalcedony off the Sapphire Hub. The biggest monopoly on quality you’ll find here is on Nagi furniture: the long lounging couches, the wall hanging poles, the recessed beds, the sunbathing benches, and even the installation of basking pools.

Between you and me, chances are good that you’re going to pull over here at least once to pick up a gift that Sulochana has prepared for you.



Hazel!

Lamb is delicious, isn’t it? Soft. Yielding. Toothsome.

Especially when it’s smothered in a rich, creamy sauce, with a hint of heat in the back of the mouth. Green and purple vegetables— roughly similar to lettuce and tomatoes— are included, wrapped in a flatbread brushed in a garlic-based oil. The whole is wrapped in a triangle of wax paper for ease of eating and walking. Keli and Seli have already finished theirs by the time you get to the foot of the broad stairway that leads up to Cesus’s garden. (It was so chivalrous of you to pay for all three. What a good, good boy you are.) But you’re still lingering, aren’t you? Really enjoying the taste, the texture.

A silvery note rings out, and both Keli and Seli perk up, suddenly as intent on that note as they were on you a moment before. The note is followed by a voice, singing: “I— I— I—” A pluck of strings joins in, and you finally catch a glimpse, there, on the canyonward side of this square: three people, standing together.

The first, the tallest, the most obvious, is a Nagi in a sequined dress, silver on deep indigo, and— oh, it’s based on the night sky, isn’t it? That magical sky where the stars move faster and all the colors are sharper. She’s the one hitting that note, and as she turns her head, you see silver threads woven into her black hair, elegant and time-consuming. Which means it’s all right to stare, doesn’t it? She meant for you to look.

The second is a Kel, plucking the strings of an instrument like a violin crossed with a harp, tucked under his chin. Unlike most of the Kel you might have seen today, he isn’t wearing sunglasses (or, more accurately, starglasses). There’s an actual, literal twinkle in his eyes, a glint of trapped starlight. Yuki will have, of course, told you about how prolonged direct exposure to starlight is intoxicating, how it can change people’s eyes and thoughts.

The third is another Nagi, wearing a top that looks like it was made out of panes of stained glass. She’s holding her hands to her chest, and between her palms a light grows, soft rays leaking between her fingers. She exhales, pushes her palms outwards, and the light (like a bubble) bobs outwards, over the heads of onlookers, and passes through— right through— your left antler.

Seli is making some sort of hand gesture at the singer, who’s laid her eyes squarely on Seli. And, yes, the singer makes a gesture back, almost hidden inside of a flourish. Seli steps forward, and Keli takes a half-step, and then the two of them look back at you, and then at each other, and then at you again.

Keli guides that last bite of gyro up to your lips, even as Seli undoes a sash around her hips and wraps it at each end around her wrists. “Come on,” she says, her voice lilting in puckish delight. And then, even as you finish chewing, she’s pulling you out in front of everyone.

—and I, too,
I turn for you,
my darling pole-
star.
The chill wind of night,
the whirling delight,
I’ll share these with you,
We’ll cut you right through…”


And Keli has your hand, fingers interlaced, and she’s raising it. “Just follow me, pretty boy,” she whispers, barely audible above the song. A white-yellow light passes right through your chest like a budding flower.

She takes the lead, guiding your steps, forward, back, down into a dip that nearly leaves your antlers scraping the glass tiles, and—

And for a moment, her veil covers both your lips. It’s very clearly not a kiss, certainly not, but there some cheers and whoops from the audience. You feel more than see her tongue, a hair’s breadth away from your lips.

Then she maneuvers you upright into a spin, and you’ve got one arm twisted behind your back, and from the crowd’s cheers of approval it looks good. Keli steps back, and you have to follow. Keli steps forward, and you have to advance. She turns you again, and guides your hand to her hip, even as she raises your other hand interlaced with hers.

And all the while, Seli is whirling around you, elegant, like a moon, except the Moon here is still and fixed in one place. Think instead: like a constellation. You’re lucky that the song demands some stateliness from these two.

—and you are mine,
sing it out,
let it roll through the air.
You’ll find me there,
beneath the arc of stars…”


[Keli’s pulling a String here; if you do your best to obey, receive XP.]
Hidden 21 days ago Post by Thanqol
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Cair!

"Oh shit I'm up. Hi! I'm Cair! Shit, hang on, I wasn't ready yet - okay, ah-hem! So-ooooo~ I'm doing a nature documentary! With a twist! Yuki told me about nature documentaries and I was hooked - following around animals all day narrating over them what you think is happening in their heads? Bottom texting over still photographs, which I assume is part of the same tradition? That sounded like a blast and I wanted to be a part of it. Only one problem: the animals here are assholes. Just last week I met a goat with the personality of a random encounter and eyes like a pet rock. Maybe somebody with more reinforced hip bones than me wants to go down that path, but I figured why not leverage my privileged status as Factorium to nature documentary the life and times of Princess Heron? I mean, people bottom text her all the time, but nobody's done a full length dub yet. So that's why I'm talking to you now! Well I'm talking to you now because I just got approached by a space alien and that seems like extremely quality content for a nature documentary even though I'd rehearsed a whole thing to open up at the princess ceremony but -"

Cair lowered the tablet. "Wow, film is hard. You've only got one shot at all this stuff. I wish there was a way to cut stuff out. Don't worry, I'll figure it out as we go." She put the tablet on the table next to her, propped to face the both of them. "Don't worry about it," she said.

Okay. Phase shift.

"Alright friend, there's a language gap here so I'm going to go over each term in isolation," said Cair. "Because what we're negotiating here is a Contract, and those don't mean anything if there's a disagreement over the terms. I tried doing it the other way a couple of times and that just gets you hauled in front of a Law Princess and that takes forevvvvverrrrrrrrrrrrrr. So let's break it down:

- Fallen Far: You! Sick suit by the way. Can I buy it?
- Managing of Materials for the Reoccurrence: Me, Cair! Factorium is my title down here though.
- Reoccurrence: Heron, presumably?
- Dirt and Impossible: Uh, reality dohickey places and the Wild in-between. Not my area, technical stuff
- Shaping Matrix: I have no idea what you're on about here, but it's probably in the galleries somewhere.
- Dictating how this occurs: Haha oh wow lady you probably want to set a budget for this or a price on your time because I will hella dictate exactly how this goes on an ongoing basis if you don't close up the language on that, cutie~

"But it's not a trivial task for me either because the stacks are a mess and Heron really doesn't like me breaking up her collections. I'd need to source a replacement before she noticed and depending on what you're asking for I don't know if I have that kind of time/Sayana still has teeth that size."
Hidden 20 days ago Post by Phoe
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Phoe Idol Obsessive

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"If I were to leave the Order..." (subtle correction of nomenclature. avoid shaming. gold star for Eclair!) "It would be for love. If I am ever blessed to meet a heart brilliant enough to pull me away from Duty I do not know if I could manage to focus long enough to make money with my meager skills."

Not that her own assessment of her work has stopped her from dreaming about that bounty. The problem was finding the time to chase it. A problem was finding time to chase it. A second problem was the lack of availability of cheap-yet-quality dyes and canvas, and a third problem was that her painting skills were hobbyist at best, even by the mediocre standards of the Manor. Honor demanded she finish the work herself if she undertook it at all, but then the resultant output would surely not be worthy of reward.

Even still. Step one, assessment of the building layout of the Sapphire City. Step two, map of optimal grind spots and construction of mental layout to simulate a super ramp, ideally one that required no construction on her part. Step three, board. Flying was no difficult trick for the merest Maid-Knight when she had a shield at the ready; she doubted very much that she should fail at reaching sufficient altitude in center downtown to find her angle and allow herself sufficient time to locate at minimum three backup shots. Win bounty. Use proceeds to source new teas for the Manor. Become hero of the Order and get all of the snuggles, ehehehehehe~

The problem was the landing. The problem was not dying for the shot itself. The wings of a Maid-Knight were -- dum-te-dum, dum-TE-dum -- ah! Darn it, what was the tune? Not a children's song, though the child was singing it. Popular. Soothing, swinging beat, lacking sultry undertones. Escape from Sapphire City? No! No, no, no, conflation of current mental track with epiphany. Curses. Why was her relationship to music broken?

Startle. Laugh, three note trill. Realization, mimicking mystery melody again. Subtle wince. Recovery, smile.

"That is to say milady that I do not charge for tablet paintings. As a general rule an Aurora Knight in uniform will never seek recompense for leisure activities. Generally we negotiate with businesses and local governments for contract work as well, when necessary so I advise you be wary of any Maid that asks you for money. If you are uncertain, please ask them to perform a triple-orbit-prayer-stomp on their Shield. If they cannot, or worse do not understand the question, you are in the presence of a scam artist."

It does not occur to her to explain what the trick in question looks like or how to tell a well-executed skateboard trick from a poor one. These things have become so elemental to her that she has forgotten the terminology is not common parlance. Neither can she read the look on Lady Mel's face to know if she is curious about the conversation or about Lord Jaks--'s (what a strange name. check pronunciation with couple before parting. use notebook, official recording) exclamations.

She turns her head in curiosity. In truth she had not noticed the commotion without having had it called to her attention. Nor could she guess at what it might mean. Even among the Maid-Knights, Eclair was infamous for selective learning. She knew most everything there was to know about things she considered mission critical, but the politics of Thellamie were not among these topics. Most details of cities, of maps, of directions from one location to another, of the feelings for one location's peoples toward another, these did not interest her and it was impossible to sit her down for a lesson that would correct her ignorance. The workings of various machines, which is to say the mechanics of their operation rather than their end-use, were similarly outside of her ability. In truth she did not even know if the land was flat or round, if it moved around the sun or the moon (neither? both?) or how much Outside lay between Thellamie and Yukisworld.

But opportunities for on site learning were exciting! What she learned on a mission was, by definition, mission critical. Eclair's ears perk up and her eyes catch a very earnest fire as she rises up onto the tips of her toes to catch an early glimpse.

"Ah~?" she asks, still in melody, "What is~~?"
Hidden 19 days ago 19 days ago Post by Anarion
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Anarion School Fox

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Yuki pulls her gaze away from the market as the DM pops on her tablet. Whitemarket is so wonderful! She’s knows not to just pop into a store and try to buy it out, but the point is the advertising and the Nagi do it so well! The showpieces are beautiful. The perfume shop may be overpriced, but the window gives visions of long, beautiful gowns in several cuts matched with flowers and sweets that promise the allure of the perfumes they’re selling. The glass shop may be overcharging, but they’ve got the most beautiful piece of stained glass for the door, a scene of the sunrise over the Viperiat that promises that they have the taste to make it worth your while if money is no object. And the artisans here, the swirling clay vessels and curved flowing wood of the nagi crafters offers such a unique aesthetic. It brings a smile to Yuki’s face just to gaze on it. Doubly so since she had been in chains the last time she was led through here, SELI.

But, she does want to pay attention.
>[.snowkitten]
>@rockamt good luck, give’em an extra kick for me, sounds like a jerk!
>Miss you though, and you too packsis, hope I can make it out to you! <3


She looks at Sulochana’s DM. Blank face. There’s some skepticism, but she’s thinking about what to say. Starts to type something, but feels the tail before anything more than “snowkitten is typing” can pop up and decides that’s the better route. Easy as it would be to slip into DMing someone three feet away from her while they both lounged on separate cushions.

She takes the invitation and shifts herself onto her side on one elbow leaning against Sulochana. She puts her own face just below Sulochana’s so she can nuzzle Sulochana’s neck and under chin with the top of her head and her ears. She does this quietly for a moment, before tilting her head back to look up at her friend. “That sounds exciting. You already rallied the Nagi together to help stop Azasa. I bet, well, I don’t know what the crown of light will look like, but I bet with a blessing like that, everyone will support you, even the ones who can’t see past their own feet, er coils like Purnima. Then you can do, well, hm, what would you like to do with the crown of light? Build something cool, maybe?”
Hidden 16 days ago Post by TheAmishPirate
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TheAmishPirate Horse-Drawn Tabletop

Member Seen 20 hrs ago

You know, he’s never danced before?

There was some small part of him, a part that didn’t bother to speak with words very often, that always wanted to. Hit enough buttons in time to the music, flail about on enough dance pads, you start to wonder what the real thing’s like. If you’d be any good at it. If you’d like it. But the longing never grew into a proper wish while he still had a dance club he could join. Now it’s too late. Maybe there’s a seniors’ ballroom dance society in town somewhere that wouldn’t mind a younger face.

There’s too many eyes on him. If it wasn’t for the insistent tug on his hand, he’d be standing stock-still. If his body didn’t know how to follow a beat, he’d be stumbling to the ground. Every moment he’s surprised he hasn’t made a fool of himself yet. But it’ll happen. He knows it’s going to happen. He’s going to miss a step. He’s going to go right when he should’ve gone left. They’ll know. They’ll know.

And for a moment, he doesn’t have to move. He hangs, perfectly still, perfectly balanced in Keli’s grip. All he can see is glitter and silk. Purple and golden brown. Whispering heat on his lips.

“Eyes on me.~”

In the rushing, whirling panic of his thoughts, he scrambles for this patch of solid ground like his life depends on it. When the world stops spinning, he finds her eyes. She steps him forward. She steps him backwards. His gaze doesn’t leave hers, except when he has to blink, which presumably he was still doing, because his eyes weren’t getting itchy. Follow her. Eyes on her.

Bit by bit, his body relaxes into the rhythm. Somewhere, he stops counting the one, two, three, four. And-

It’s tricky, playing games about rhythm, because when the music is pumping, and your heart is racing, and your thoughts vanish into a flow of focus and reaction, you want to dance, right? It’s not optimal. You might forget to actually hit the buttons when you’re supposed to. A lot of people don’t do it, and he always wonders if anyone’s watching and thinking he’s trying to showoff. But it’s more fun to sway as you slide your fingers across the touchscreen. Bounce, bounce, bounce between the notes. Give a little flourish, because he can, and because he loves this song.

A pop of the foot. A sway and a swish to his step. Spin him out, and he stretches his arm out, and hold, and hold, and let his fingertips play with the light as it passes. His body knows what it wants to do. His body knows when to do it.

His mind is free to float.

The song is lovely. The music is wonderful. He could listen to them perform for hours. He could dance like this for hours. He’ll be sad when the song ends. The silk on her hip is so soft. It’s like no clothing he’s ever worn before. He rests his hand on her with no extra pressure. He would be a gentleman about this. He remembers the dip. He remembers the dip. What did he think was going to happen? She wasn’t. She wouldn’t. Even if she dipped him again she. She wouldn’t. It was just a dance.

The purple looks so pretty, around her brown eyes. She looks so pretty…

This is all part of a fox scheme. Don’t forget. They’re up to something. That’s why she wanted to show you around. That’s why she wanted to dance with you. Don’t get lost in the music. Don’t forget to hit the buttons. Don’t think about her dipping you again.

Don’t forget.

[Hazle gets 1 XP for dancing like a good boy. Rolling to Figure Out A Person, +1 for rhythm games: 6 + 4 + 1 = 11.

-What do you hope to get from kidnapping guiding me around the festival?

Banking one question.]
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