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Current The me of yesterday is always a twit, and the me of tomorrow always a genius.
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Genevieve, mind still whirling, was pulled out of her half-formed plans by the reappearance of Princess Ayleanna. She had to smile at the other girl's enthusiasm, and she was sure it wasn't the carefully-curved smile that peeked from under the cover of her bangs or broad-brimmed hats in her social media photos.

But that was all right. Princess Lea was naturally disarming—and, at this point, the person Gen was least worried about embarrassing herself in front of.

"I don't think you talk too much," she said, "and you have so many guests to attend to, I'm honestly just grateful we get a chance to speak." With a self-conscious flick of her fingers, Genevieve indicated the rhinestones pasted beneath her eyes like a scattering of stars amongst her freckles. "I see we have a shared love of sparkles."

Gesturing to the wide variety of dishes spread out on the nearest table, she added, "Lord Hui-Bawa and I were just admiring the feast you've put out. You're an amazing hostess."

It was then that a diminutive young woman—looking all the tinier, standing so close to Hui-Bawa—appeared in Gen's field of vision. She recognized her as Princess—or was it Lady? the titles were unclear—Liviana Viriatus. Feeling a swell of sympathy for the other girl, but—not sure how much English she had (and therefore, how uncomfortable she might be with a lengthy conversation)—Genevieve offered up the warmest smile she could, and a small nod and curtsey of greeting as she joined their party.

“Lady Genevieve, I hate to interrupt, but are you going to introduce us?” Hui-Bawa asked. He stretched a hand out to the new woman. “Pleased to meet you. I am called Hui-Bawa Du-Butha Hui-Hooseng in my home. And you?” How curious. This woman was of a colour with himself, a stark contrast with the pale faces that dominated the party. “I hope I am not intruding upon this conversation too much. If I am rude, you must forgive me truly. I was not raised with an understanding of such things as . . . etiquette.” At the very least, he congratulated himself in knowing enough to fast-talk himself into and out of situations like these.

Another woman joined this rapidly-growing company they seemed to be accruing. It seems, despite Lady Genevieve’s previous claims to otherwise, she seemed a rather popular figure, at least in this party. The new lady called away the first, and seemed to have little interest in interacting with himself. He certainly does not fault her for it.

Lea grinned cheerfully at Genevieve. “What can I say? You can never have too many sparkles. And aw, you guys give me way too much credit. I mean, I can’t cook for the life of me! All I can do is taste stuff and be like ‘wow this is good we should have it at a party’, you know?” Lea giggled and rolled her eyes playfully at her own culinary incompetence.

Lea then turned to Liviana, who had just arrived. Her eyes quickly took in the other princess’s appearance, diminutive as she was, before-

-Holy shit. Holy fucking shit. Is that a bird on her shoulder?! Oh my gosh, that’s so freaking adorable and I love love love birds so like...I am here for this?????

“Hey, Liviana!” Lea responded, beaming at her. “I love your gown, by the way. And your hair-how do you ever have the patience to grow it that long?! Oh oh oh also, your bird is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!!! Do you mind if I take a quick pic?” And before Liviana could object, Lea had whipped out her phone (which had a sparkly pink case-you know, to match her nails, which were almost always painted sparkly pink) and snapped a picture of Liv’s bird with her Snapchat camera. She saved the original image and put a cute sparkly heart filter over it, before captioning it something like ‘shoutout to Liviana V. for bringing the CUTEST bird EVER!!!!’ and posting it onto her story.

Once that was all taken care of, Lea put her phone away and re-directed her attention to Hui-Bawa. She shook his hand, grinning. “It’s a pleasure to meet you as well! I’m Lea Lynton. And no worries, you’re definitely not intruding on anything!” Lea gave him a sheepish smile. “If anyone’s intruding, it’s me.”

“I hope you all are having fun, by the way,” Lea said brightly to the entire group. “I wanted to do like, a water slide or something. Or a moon bounce. Wouldn’t that have been so fun??? But my mom and sister said no.” Lea mock-pouted. “Oh well.”

Liv had exactly half a second to figure out who she was speaking to before she was suddenly bombarded by the whirlwind of excitement that was Lea. At least the Aciran princess didn’t even blink at her awkwardness, just plowing right through it with more enthusiasm than should be entirely possible. And asking far more questions than Liv could hope to answer, even in her native Latin.

After several seconds of blinking hopelessly in the direction of Lea’s phone camera flash, and internally panicking at the thought of being featured on Lea’s Snapchat!!!!, she managed to straighten her thoughts out into words enough to reframe her focus to the conversation. The greeting died on her lips, though- of course Lea was already onto a different topic, she always was, and in this case the topic was socializing with the mountain of a man standing beside her.

Nervously, Liv peered up at him, offering a slightly terrified smile. She had not been close enough to hear his introduction, but his accent and overall appearance suggested he might well have been from one of the southern kingdoms - she struggled to remember places and names from the textbooks she’d once fumbled through, but could not come up with anything concrete. And she certainly wasn’t about to ask him his name, afraid he’d take it to be offensive. She vowed she would do nothing to cause him offense - not when it looked like he could crush her in one fist if she angered him!
Lea’s chipper dialogue was nothing short of confusing, as ever. Liv barely managed to puzzle it out, getting quite tripped up on the notion of a ‘moon bounce.’ Seriously, what’s a “moon bounce?” she wondered. But she didn’t trust herself to say it out loud, instead murmuring something in Latin that sounded vaguely like an apology and pulling her ancient Papyrvs phone out of her clutch, quickly thumbing into Alopix (the firefox knockoff that Athenian electronics came with, complete with a cute fox icon) and typing in the words ‘moon bounce’. As one would expect of Athenian search engines, further “refined” by Lusitanian content restrictions, very few results were returned. Specifically, only one that wasn’t total garbage- a sped-up video of some Aciran moon satellite launch from literal decades ago.

That made perfect sense. She snapped her phone case closed and frowned slightly, wondering what kind of party Lea had been planning on where there would have been an actual rocket ship.

Genevieve thanked every god she could think of that Princess Ayleanna—Lea—was one of the least pretentious, most easygoing people she’d ever met. Gen had barely had time for a flash of secondhand mortification and a scramble to figure out how to help Hui-Bawa before Lea had cheerfully introduced herself, without offense or fanfare. And then she was on to the next thing.

Next to Hui-Bawa, Liviana looked not only tiny, but genuinely petrified. Genevieve decided to let Hui-Bawa field Lea’s questions for a while, stepping around him to come up next to the smaller girl. “Christopher,” she murmured, “may I have my phone please?”

Smoothly, Christopher produced it from an inside pocket, and Genevieve held up a finger in what she hoped was the universal gesture for, “One minute, please,” offering up an apologetic smile. One quick Google search confirmed her guesses about the native language in Liviana’s country. Gen used the translate function to type out what she wanted to say and hoped it wasn’t too garbled.

She held out the phone to Liviana. The message on the right said, “Latine Non est bonum esse meum doleo. Spero te non puto me rude et hoc modo loquitur ad vos. Quod est nice est in occursum tibi ago, Filia Reginae. Nomen meum est Genevieve.”

In English: “I am sorry that my Latin's not better. I hope you don't think I'm rude for talking to you this way. It is nice to meet you, Princess. My name is Genevieve.”

Hui-Bawa considered Lady Lea’s words for a second. Nobody seemed much interested in responding, so he felt perhaps he ought. “Both sound delightful, Lady Lea,” he said, stroking his chin with an idle finger. “But think of the poor guests. They make such an effort to arrive at your lovely estate dressed in fineries of cloth and metals. A waterslide might ruin their hours of hard work!” He tilted his head back and laughed at his own comment. “Apologies, truly. My brother tells me I am not humorous. He is in no capacity incorrect.” He glanced over at Lady Genevieve. She seemed at the moment occupied with their new acquaintance. That leaves him with their excitable host. “So, this party is yours, then? I am honoured that you found the time to speak to a humble man such as myself. This home, it is the size of a village in my home, and so magnificent besides. You must tell me everything about it.”

Lea threw back her head and laughed at the point that Hui-Bawa made. “I mean, you’re not wrong,” she said, chuckling. “But a girl can dream, ya feel? And your brother is wrong! Who says that you aren’t funny? I think that you’re pretty funny.” She flashed him a mischievous grin.

“And yep! I mean, normally I’m not all about balls and fancy schmancy tea parties and whatever-I would have totally preferred a moon bounce-but this is aight.” Lea paused for a moment and rolled her eyes good-naturedly. “I don’t understand why it’s always fancy shmancy like this, by the way. Like, I’m getting married, so what? But don’t worry, we’ll have some less formal stuff later on.” Another cheerful grin.

At Hui-Bawa’s comment about the palace, Lea rolled her eyes with the same good-natured humor, again. “Oh, gosh, this place is pretty much a village in and of itself, not gonna lie. Like, my sisters and my parents and I obviously don’t need this much space to live. But you know, we’ve got some boring meeting rooms and stuff. The first floor-the one we’re on now, actually-is basically a museum at this point, though obviously it’s closed to the public right now thanks to the ball. I think our libraries are pretty dope, but holy cow it’s really easy to get lost in them if you aren’t careful. Hit me up if you want, like, a map or something.” Lea laughed, more to herself than anything, wondering how in the world she’d be able to draw up a map of the libraries. “But yeah, I think my favorite part about living here is the fact that we’ve got enough space on the palace property for animals! My mom and sister let me make some cool animal refuges and stuff by the forest. It’s dope.”

Liv peered up at Genevieve, quirking her mouth as she studied the words. Latin Google Translate was known to be absolutely dreadful (as she had once found out, by trying to ask Edwin to pass the salt at a state dinner - and instead inadvertently asking him about a dead relative!) but having the English written out as well was very helpful. That said, she was still hopeless at verbalizing her thoughts. It took her several seconds before she dared open her mouth, testing the words awkwardly as she spoke them.

“It - is okay. I - I.. the fault is of me - didamnate, verba? - English. I - reading is more easy, of English, sed-” She cut herself off, shaking her head and very nearly burying her face in her hands as her cheeks flushed.

Gods damn it all, why was she so stupid?! Everyone else was doing just fine with the language of Aciras, and here she was, her accent so thick and awkward and the words not making it out of her fat ugly mouth without being horribly butchered. It was no wonder no one would want to marry her. Gods. Father was going to be furious, she just knew that some reporter or another would call her out on her lack of spoken eloquence and then it would be hell to pay when she returned home. All the words were there, they just would not get out of her head and onto her tongue and out into the air in an orderly fashion. Which of course would mean that no one else would see them forming, and would rather just assume her an idiot.

She just prayed that Genevieve would understand. Picking her own phone out of its clutch for what felt like the hundredth time, she flicked her text size setting to the biggest possible, then opened a note document and started typing. It was awkward and slow, but the words laid themselves out much better when she didn’t have to worry about pronunciation and inflection too.

Apologizing, the English to me is ... unkind. Such it is that I can hear and understand; speech is nonetheless challenging. I do learn but slow. To read is best. Apologizing again - I am happy to meet you, Genevieve.

She prayed that the other princess wasn’t judging her for needing to look back at her phone for the spelling - such letter patterns simply didn’t happen in Latin and the last thing she wanted to do was offend someone by misspelling or pronouncing their name! - and also prayed that the judgement didn’t extend to her intensely concentrated expression.

Dammit, she was trying her hardest. To friends I am called Livi or Liv, and I should like to be called a friend of you. From which kingdom are you? If it is permissible to ask.

(Collab between: @lady horatio @ayzrules @Amethyst @Bloonewb)
(Sorry it's a bit short. Not feeling much inspired as of late.)

Ardasa shuddered. Her goddess had answered her. A glimpse into the future . . . it was more power than she had imagined ever holding, even as empress. "I don't know if I'm ready," Ardasa said. "To see fate, I don't know if anyone could ever be ready." She glanced over at the statue of Arda. It urged her on with its stare. She breathed slowly, in, then out, then in and out again. The breathing helped, just a little bit. "I think I'm about as prepared as I can ever be." Slowly, the walls pressed in on her mind, till she felt squeezed into a tiny box. She had to stare at the walls, willing them back with the help of her faith, until they retreated to where they should be. "Alright, alright. Alright," she moaned to herself, clutching her head and sitting cross-legged on the ground. "Give me your blessing, wise sister."
Hui-Bawa spun around to find another girl, of similar features to the one he had mistakenly called for. His features broke into a nervous smile, and he hoped beyond all hope that he really looked like he was smiling. Memories came back to him of a time when he and his brother were posing for a camera, and he looked closer to someone on the verge of sneezing than the proud relative of the Hui-Basada.

"Lady Genevieve, I hope?" He asked, holding out his hand to shake. "Perhaps it was a mistake for us never to exchange photos. I am called by my people Hui-Bawa "Du-Butha" "Hui-Hooseng". We have been in communications these past weeks, but I am sure I do not need to remind you of such things."

The party continued to move around them. As people danced and strode about the room, their jewels caught his eye in the glaring light of the sun through windows, both clear and stained-glass, and both flung its intense rays into his eyes. He could barely see the person standing before him, much less spot a face in any part of this immense crowd. Could the sheer power that money and glittering stones possess outshine even the sun itself?

"Forgive me, I am not used to such an . . . environment," he muttered, holding his other hand before his face to block some of the light out. "Glass is not so common in Du-Wassi. Do you think that we may talk outside? Or, in some other part of the palace?" He doubted he would be able to hear her response anyways. The commotion in the halls dissolved all the conversations going on in the room into a mush of sound and speech. "Do you know of any place that might be appropriate? I may have arrived a little late." A little was not quite the ride level of magnitude. By the time he had arrived, driving up in a run-down fourth-or-fifth-hand car that looked almost comically out of place alongside the long rows of supercars, the entire place was packed entrance to roof.

Hui-Bawa couldn't help but notice that Genevieve was minuscule, as much as everybody else was at the party. In fact, Hui-Bawa suspected he stood a head above nearly anybody in the entire room. There were certainly no Hui-Eehi present, either from Du-Wassi or one of the other newly decolonized countries. How did these tiny northerners manage to conquer the world? He hoped he was reasonably sure he was not thinking out loud, as he often did. It would be accursed for him to ruin his reputation with his acquaintance at all, much less within the first minute of them meeting.
Rughoi stormed into his chambers and grabbed at the quill. Ardasa, his Ardasa, attacked in the streets of Hekaga. He dipped the quill in the ink and sat down before his parchment. His mind clouded over as he began to write.

To the imbecilic 'Prince' Ternoc of the pitiful state of Hekaga

Do not presume that I did not know of the assassination plot against my bound one. You'd best be thrice-damned sure that Ardasa, myself, or any kobold dignitary I send in the future should not even see an arrow, or we will cut ties with you immediately and impose taxes the likes of which would cripple your trade with the entire northern hemisphere. Think on your mistake.

Rughoi "the Unbound", Emperor of All Kobold

He stared at the document for a long while, stewing in his anger. In a flash of clarity, he grabbed the sheet and tore it in two, throwing the halves into the far corners of the room. He was above this! He had to be! He had to think . . . the way Ardasa always did. She had a way with all peoples, race be damned. He wasn't blind. He knew how the palace saw its two rulers differently. They loved her, and feared him. Rughoi dipped his quill into the ink again, and pulled out a new sheet of paper. Perhaps a second try, on his clearer head, would do wonders for diplomacy.

To the honorable Prince Ternoc of Hekaga

I have been told that my bound one has enjoyed your city immensely.

Alright, that was good. A good start. Rughoi continued.

She was especially impressed by . . .

What was it she said? Something about the streets? Ah yes, dodging arrows in the streets of Hekaga.

. . . the infrastructure. It serves as a testament to the building of cities, and in time, we hope to adopt a similar plan for our own. However, she as expressed concerns about the safety of your streets, and is hesitant to visit again before such issues are resolved. A minor issue, surely, for your dauntless army.

Rughoi "the Unbound", Emperor of All Kobold

He looked over it once, and once again, before folding it up. This is the one he's planning on sending. Perhaps Ardasa could write a better one. Perhaps he should just let her do it. But it was high time he learned to be a ruler.
"Wise Arda, I'm sure you blessed my journey home," Ardasa said, quietly. The statue was where it always was, in the temple room within the palace. It was comforting, in a way, returning to religious life. "I may only hope that you are as happy to see me as I am to see you." Silence. Ardasa got up from her kneeling position. Something was out of touch. Perhaps it was herself. She can't concentrate on the prayers the way she used to. The threat of death still shook her. "Thank you for your mercy, oh blessed mother of kobolds. I will find the right words to honor you in time. I'm sure you'd understand." That was when she heard the sound of the temple's door creak open. "Hello?" she called. "Is somebody there?"
Hui-Bawa scratched at the tie around his neck. He felt like an idiot. No matter how often he put on the suit, it felt constricting, nothing like the loose clothes of the Hui-Eehi. Perhaps the man who sold him the suit was right, and he should have paid for something more expensive. A shake of the head threw the notion away. He was spending the people's money on himself as it is, and that sat heavy in his stomach. He can deal with a scratchy outfit for a couple more days. Hui-Bawa tried to ignore his discomfort by focusing on his goal. He's here for a reason, and it would do him well to remember it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evenin' @ayzrules

Is there still room in here for me?
"But . . . buh . . . " Kutur couldn't really form a thought. He was tired, and could only vaguely recall when he began his work. He suspected it was an evening. Kali's sheer clothes didn't help his brain much to get back on track either. "What? Was . . . was Ardasa gone?" He tried searching his memory, but the only things he could dig up were runes upon more runes. Perhaps he should have it written for the record that esoteric magic is harmful to the brain.
Ardasa was drowning. She practically fought through the crowd towards her own home. She could not reach her hand out without a claw touching the forehead of a baby or small child. There were simply so many kobolds. The city had either become massive in her absence, or she somehow managed to misplace in her head tens of thousands of people in the short time she had been gone.

Eventually, she had made it by a miracle of Arda to the doors of the palace. Guards streamed out, blocking the populace from entering and escorting her within. "That was . . . something," she said, through shaky breaths. Rughoi entered the hall, looking with hints of what very well may have been fear out at the crowd. He has stared down monsters, hordes of enemies, and terrible storms, but it is his own people that scares him most.

"Maybe addressing the public was a mistake," Rughoi said. Ardasa nodded.

"Hoo, there's nothing like being an empress, that I can say," she responded, fanning herself with a claw. "It's more tense out there than it was dodging arrows in the streets of Hekaga!" The last sentence froze Rughoi up. "No no, it's a figure of-" she began, but he was already gone. She put a palm to her own head. Her and her stupid mouth. "I'll just retire to the temple room, alright?" she called after him, knowing nothing she's going to say will reach his ears. "Alright . . . "
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