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In Avalia 8 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

Interactions/Mentions: Guy affiliated with The New Dawn @Lava Alckon; Another guy affiliated with The New Dawn @SilverPaw; Zion @Helo

"I'll take that as a yes to all of the above then. Unless you want to, oh I dunno...elaborate?" Jun frowned at Tanithil's response. He was absolutely, positively, one-hundred-percent certain he had shaken his head. Last time he checked, a side-to-side head wobble meant no in every country except Bulgaria… and Sri Lanka… and maybe India. Turkey. Okay, maybe there were a lot more regions than Jun initially thought. That wasn't the point. The point was, he was pretty sure the Captain was just trying to get him to speak.

When both Tanithil and Arlen strode off in different directions. Jun realized that they made the mistake of taking their eyes off of him. Time to make a break for it!

As Arlen, Zion, and Jun wandered toward the tavern Tanithil had pointed at, Jun tried to oh-so-casually drift off course, edging towards sweet, sweet freedom. But every time he steered himself in any other direction than the one Arlen was heading, Zion would either pull him back or block his path with his hulking frame. It was like the lion-man gained mind-reading abilities or something. After several failed attempts, Jun reluctantly shelved Plan A.

Plan B then: excuse himself to the bathroom and make his escape through a back door or window. Classic.

They plopped themselves down at one of the larger tables inside the tavern, and Jun claimed the seat at the far end. Perusing the menu, he jabbed his finger at his breakfast order, then tacked on a few extra provisions for good measure. Since Tanithil was treating them to breakfast, he might as well stock up for his soon-to-be life on the run.

Jun sat quietly, biding his time and waiting for the moment to set his plan into motion.

Ríoghnach "Riona"
Time: Daytime, Sola 24th
Location: The Primitus Church of Sorian
Interaction(s)/Mention(s): @Helo@princess@TpartywithZombi@Lava Alckon@SilverPaw@FunnyGuy@Rodiak@Potter@Apex Sunburn

Riona fixed the lordling with a long, hard look, her eyes traveling over his figure as if searching for any shred of evidence to support his claim of being fashionable. His fashion sense wasn’t bad, she had to admit—he kept up with the latest whims of the nobility well enough, and he hadn’t completely abandoned tradition for the sake of trends. But the careful blankness of her face revealed nothing. “If that is what you must tell yourself to sleep at night…” she said at last, her gaze sliding away to some distant point. She let the implication hang in the air between them.

The arrogance of the man, thinking he was doing her a gracious favor with his talk of olive branches when he couldn’t even be bothered to remember her words from one moment to the next. Did he really not understand what the problem she had with him was, even after she’d laid it out as plain as day? Even Shehzadi Nahir had practically drawn the Lordling a diagram, but apparently his ego was too impenetrable, his skull too dense.

“Gods spare me from fools and slow-witted lordlings,” Riona muttered, letting her maid’s mask slip. But Lordling Smithwood was too busy prattling, and she doubted he’d even noticed.

He was critiquing the shoes she’d left, in excruciating detail—too gaudy, too dull, unbefitting a man of his stature, on and on. Except for the lion slippers. He liked those. Because of course he would.

“I cannot understand why Lady Morrigan finds this an appropriate remedy, the burden of correcting unruly servants should not fall upon guests. This would never happen in Varian. Have I offended her somehow?”

Clearly, he didn’t expect Riona to answer, but she gave him one anyway. “Is it not obvious, milord? She’s waiting for you to snap. See how much you take after your father when that happens.”

Out of nowhere, the Lordling began rattling off demands about rearranging his room. Riona could only stare, incredulous. Why? What’s the point? Was this some stupid power play?

It was.

One condescending lecture later, he strode on, so pleased with himself.

Technically, she had followed his orders about the shoes to the letter. It wasn’t her fault the young lord hadn’t specified what kind of shoes he wanted. A mistake he seemed determined to repeat, given his vague instructions about the furniture. Riona smiled to herself. Oh, this is going to be fun.

Brushing down Menace, on the other hand, would be a welcome respite. She’d encountered the stallion before, helping in the stables. Prickly at first, Menace had a sweet side once you learned the trick of him. Nothing like that insufferable rider of his, she thought with a snort. Maybe she'll slip Menace an apple or two next time. He deserved it for putting up with that ass.

Inside the church, Lordling Smithwood asked, “Refresh my memory, do you worship His Royal Majesty as if he were the embodiment of a god or because the King is divinely chosen?”

Riona bit back her first response. I don’t. But she couldn’t say that out loud in church, could she? So instead she recited the official line. “It is believed that the ruling family were chosen by the gods to lead the kingdom, blessed with perfection by Zivita himself.” Then Edin became king and his god-complex demanded that he specifically should be the object of worship. “Ever since His Royal Majesty ascended the throne, some have started preaching that he is more than just chosen. He is a mortal god. Born of divine blood, an avatar of Zivita himself.” Blah blah blah. What a crock.

As Lordling Smithwood’s attendant, Riona didn’t sit next to him, but stood against the wall near him. From her vantage point, she got a clear view of those who assembled.

The Monets’ presence came as no shock. The real gut-punch was seeing Count Calbert. His own daughter was still out there somewhere, lost or worse, and here he was attending some stupid ceremony. Priorities, indeed. Maybe Cal had the right of it after all.

Princess Anastasia was with, what Riona could only assume was her new fling, Shahzade Farim. All thoughts of Darryn had clearly been wiped from her pretty, empty head. Darryn… Still missing, still gone. Each hour that passed without a word from him coiled the dread tighter in Riona’s gut, a sinking feeling that something terrible had happened.

Riona also spotted the Vikenas. Nerves played across the Duke’s face, but there was courage there too. Why else would he be attending this event? Lady Charlotte hovered at his elbow, but her attention seemed focused on jotting notes on a journal she carried. Of what, Riona had no clue. She just hoped that Edin’s sycophants were too enraptured by the ceremony to notice one noblewoman neglecting her most holy of duties—fawning over her blessed sovereign.

A trace of a smile ghosted across her lips at the sight of Shehzadi Nahir, memories of the last night’s dance returning to her. But the warmth flickered and died as quickly as a snuffed candle when Wulfric walked into view, his presence an icy draft that seeped into her bones and snaked around her throat. The smile faded into a taut line.

Four unfamiliar faces caught Riona’s eye. Three were complete strangers. The other, Riona recognized vaguely as one of the Shehzadi’s many servants. Four very different, but very dangerous people. It was all in the way they moved—the coiled alertness of their posture, the calculated precision of each step. They were weapons, honed and deadly. (Of course, the literal weapons strapped to the foreign duo were also a dead giveaway.)

She watched silently as the assembled took their seats.

Then, the ceremony began, and Gods, every second of it was torture. Riona wanted to rip her ears off, listening to that stupid f**king song extolling Edin’s virtues and supposed divinity. To gouge her eyes out so she didn’t have to witness the farcical spectacle.

But why stop at harming herself when the true objects of her hatred were right here, within reach? The very people she despised most in this world, all gathered in one place. It would be so easy, whispered a voice in her mind. She could do it now. Here, in this church, while they celebrated the glory of these monsters. What delicious irony it would be. And the best part? The Gods wouldn’t lift a finger to stop her.

Because if the Gods were real, if they truly cared about their chosen, they would have acted long ago.
In Avalia 24 days ago Forum: Casual Roleplay
Time: A.M.
Location: River Port
Interactions/Mentions: @mole@Conscripts
Equipment: Knife, drugs, and wallet looted from dope peddler

“So, tell us. Where were you last night?”

Vasco patted Rowan’s cheek with blatant condensation. “Rowan, sugar plum, honey bun!” he drawled. “You know you ain’t going to like the answer. So why bother asking?”

He savored the way Rowan’s frown deepened, the wrinkles on his pretty face multiplying like rabbits in a hutch. “Or maybe,” he mused, “this is your way of adding to that laundry list of reasons to get a shiny new human, huh?” Vasco clicked his tongue. “Last one musta been a real piece of work for you to be so keen on ‘trading her in’ for a stand-up guy like yours truly.” He tapped a finger against his temple. Clever play, if that was their game - using incompetence to give the bum’s rush to the heel. Didn’t seem their style, but hey, you never know.

Barrock grunted, “None of this alien slang, please.” Vasco made like he was chewing it over real thoughtful-like before laying it straight. “No can do, pally.” This was who he was, right down to the marrow. A leopard can’t change his spots, and neither could Vasco. “Tell ya what though. You stop being an orc, and maybe I’ll consider it.” Even if the green hulk somehow pulled off that miracle, Vasco had no intention of playing ball. And they all damn well knew it. Barrock was just going to have to get cozy with the lingo, same as the rest of these birds.

“We are so relieved you are well, Vasco.” Aurora’s tear-choked voice drew his attention. “We were worried about you.”

Vasco slid up next to her, slung an arm around her shoulder, and tugged her close. “Nah, toots, you’re the only one who gives a hoot. Rest of them look like they’d be doing the world a favor finishing what the Family couldn’t.” His thumb wiped away the tears ruining her face. “No surprises there. Can’t have the gutter trash sullying a sweet little angel like you, now can they?”

He shot Rowan and Barrock a sidelong glance, a wicked grin across his mug. Tough break for them. Folks like Vasco got a real tickle out of defiling the pure and innocent. Like stomping fresh footprints through a field of virgin snow.

When Barrock parroted the same question Vasco had asked earlier, only for it to be ignored, Vasco spoke first. “For starters, you all need to quit feeling sorry for yourselves. It’s getting real stale, and with everything you’ve pulled off during it, I’m starting to think you’re just dragging your heels. Bellyache all you want about how you screwed the pooch, but it ain’t gonna bring your human back or change that you mucked up the one job you had. Time to put on your big boy pants and move on.”

He aimed a chilly look at Aurora. “If you can’t handle that, then you got no business being out here, Ingénue. The real world’s too much for you to handle.” Vasco tilted her chin up, stared hard into those doe eyes. “You’re a real looker, doll, but what good are you like this? Scram before you get someone else bumped off.”

Releasing the elf, Vasco addressed the group. “But if you’re meaning to even the score, next step oughta be clear as day, yeah?” He flashed them a smile, all teeth. “Find the bastard who killed your gal and put them six feet under.” Now that would be a helluva lot more entertaining than watching this sorry bunch mope around all day, that was for damn sure.
Ríoghnach "Riona"
Time: Daytime, Sola 24th
Location: The Primitus Church of Sorian
Interaction(s)/Mention(s): @Helo

Riona and the Smithwood servants couldn’t hide their smirks as they took in the sight of Lordling Smithwood’s shocking pink skin and equally vivid hair. Some managed to keep a straight face better than others, but there was no mistaking the amusement in their eyes. The Lordling, for his part, looked like he’d swallowed a lemon. Being assigned Riona as his attendant for the event only soured his mood further.

Outside, the maid held the umbrella over the Lordling’s head as the rain pattered around them. He b*tched and moaned about the shoes the entire way to the church. “I thought they suit you, milord.” Riona said, her tone just a touch too innocent. “As it seems you have a penchant for the flamboyant.” Her gaze flicked pointedly to his flamingo-like appearance. The Lordling huffed while she bit back a smile.

Inside the church, she fell into step behind him, keeping a modest two paces between them.

Fritz "Ryn" Hendrix
Time: Sola 24, 1739; Daytime Hours
Location: Morning Blossom Cafe
Interaction(s)/Mention(s): @Tae

Ryn hurried through the rain-soaked streets, his heart pounding with anticipation as he approached the café where the courting mixer was set to take place. The pitter-patter of raindrops against his umbrella provided a constant backdrop to his thoughts. When his destination came into view, an unexpected sight caused him to slow his steps.

Near the entrance, a dire wolf lounged. Its majestic presence captivated him, pushing thoughts of the mixer from his mind. Cautiously, Ryn approached, careful to maintain a respectful distance. As he drew closer, the creature’s beauty left him awestruck. “Well, hello there, my stunning friend,” he said, his voice soft and friendly. “I must say, I didn’t expect to find one of your kind here, so far from the wilderness. What brings you to this quaint little café on such a rainy day?”

Piercing, intelligent eyes regarded Ryn while the wolf seemed to study him.

Riona & Wulfric Part 2

TLDR for the flashback: Jonathan’s birthday party goes on, and the children end up playing football. Lacking a referee, the game devolves into a free-for-all brawl towards the end. As the adults are informed, the fight is broken up. However, Wulfric happens upon the parents arguing soon after. Then, Lord Desmond Dantès speaks to him. The prince is impressed, but unfortunately has to leave. On the way home he saw Lord Dantès holding hands with the castle’s royal gardener, Gardner Haywood. Lady Dantès was holding hands with two other adults he didn’t recognize.

“Fake?” Wulfric mused half-absentmindedly as mostly forgotten memories had been partially reawakened, and now sluggishly gathered at the forefront of his mind. “I resent that,” he noted, though he sounded almost– tickled, if meriness could ever be ascribed to the crown prince. “However, yes. It is I, Prince Wulfric. What a…thoroughly unexpected surprise.” It was largely a pleasant one, he thought, even if he and the Lady Dantès had never got along the one time they’d met. Recalling her name had also reminded him of the - sadly - deceased Lord Desmond Dantès. Yet another man who had been too good to die so early, to have been slain so horrendously.

“Quite.” Riona said, her tone brazen though her heart thundered in her chest. “No wonder I found you so irritating.” Truth be told, half of her wanted nothing more than to turn on her heel and flee, putting as much distance between herself and the Heir Apparent as possible. Why in the hells was Prince Wulfric here? Did he recognize the maidservant she had become too? No. After all these years working in that castle, he never so much as spared her a glance (not that she gave him a chance to, either). So he couldn’t have. Then why now? With a gods damn mask on no less? Was it the expensive dress? “It’s… been a while.” No, it hasn’t. “What are you doing here being a creepy crow when you should be… socializing with your prospective wives?”

“An evocative costume, is it not?” he agreed. To demonstrate, he swept an arm to the side in a dramatic gesture, feathers rustling in a riotous swirl of black, chains rattling against each other. “Hmm, well,” he smirked as she questioned him on his prospects. Notably, Lady Dantès had rescinded her decision to depart. Was it nostalgia, or was she trying to find out something specific now that she knew who he was? “It would be in bad taste if, immediately after Shehzadi Mayet’s departure, I would begin pursuing her sister.”

So his sights were set on Shehzadi Nahir or Shehzadi Layla? Interesting. Either would make a very powerful alliance if it came to fruition. All the more reason to find the evidence as soon as possible and expose them.

… Or else there’d only be one thing left to do.

“Besides,” a hint of slyness crept into his tone, “who is to say I am not socializing with a prospective wife at this very moment?” He laughed at the absurdity of the idea, longer than was strictly polite. After a moment, he cut off with a sigh.

Her body reacted—feet stepping a few steps back, arms wrapping around her to shield herself from the Prince’s very presence—before the familiar triad flared hot and bright. Anger. Repulsion. Hate. They seared through her veins.

She pierced him with eyes flint cold while he laughed at a joke that only he found funny. “You’d gain little from such an arrangement,” she said, “I have nothing left for you to take from me.”

‘Nothing left for you to take’ was a peculiar manner of phrasing on the lady’s part. Her reaction, too, had been worrying. It gave him pause, frankly. It was a reflexive loathing on her part - but what had caused it, exactly? While he chose not to comment on it, he had certainly noticed. “And yourself? What have you been up to?” he asked eventually.

“Do you care?” she repeated the question little Lady Dantès asked years back.

“Yes.” It was a simple assurance, but truthful. He wanted to know the cause of her abhorrence, of her hatred. He had to know. If his family had been involved in any way - if his past suspicions were more than just that - he ought to know.

A handful of breaths slipped by before Riona finally shaped the words. “What have I been up to? For fourteen years, I’ve endured a waking nightmare. One where the man and woman who slaughtered my home go unchallenged, unpunished.” Her fingers knotted in the fabric of her dress. “Did you know there’s no record left of the town or House Dantès? They’ve erased it all. Redacted from history. Convenient, right? It’s only a matter of time before we’ll be forgotten altogether as if we never existed at all…” Her knuckles become pale against the orange color. “Those monsters grow fat on the spoils of their atrocities.” She hissed, “Just as you reap the rewards sown at the expense of others, False Prince.”

“I see…” Well, he did in part. “I have noticed the suspicious lack of records,” he affirmed. In fact, it was that which had led him to believe that something other than ‘a bandit attack’ had been at play. But how could he have confirmed, when the king and queen never acknowledged such inconsistencies? There were several other instances where a lack of evidence was the only evidence. “I remember,” he informed her. “If only the two of you.”

She rolled her eyes. Not enough to recognize her as a maid. “How much of that memory surfaced only because we bumped into each other?”

“A fair amount,” he acknowledged, tone even. But the memories he spoke of were not merely the result of this happenstance. Why did she think he’d noticed the erasure of her family from official records in the first place? “However, Lord Desmond Dantès is not the sort of man I would simply forget about.”

The way Lady Dantès spoke of her family members’ deaths, it was as if the Danroses had had something to gain by killing them. He had always thought his parents’ reasons to be preventative in nature; to eliminate danger - or rather, suspected danger, or political inconveniences, as the case may be. “Do you know what happened there, exactly?”

Revulsion clawed its way up her throat. “You want the details of how everyone was butchered? Gods…” Riona shook her head. “No, why am I surprised? You were always like this...”

Wulfric blinked at her slowly, once, twice. No, of course not.” That had been certainly unusually careless phrasing on his part. “I meant, why were they killed?”

“Why? You should know better than anyone why those monsters do the things they do.”

She wasn’t far off the mark; he knew his parents well. And yet… “I do not see what we could have gained by killing your family.” He said ‘we’ rather than ‘they’; he wasn’t that naive. “Were they – what, determined to be dissidents?” he questioned, highly doubtful. Even if they had been, that would never merit slaughtering a whole town, like she’d implied had been done.

“‘Determined to be dissidents’?” she half spat, half scoffed, the sentence out. “Perhaps you don’t remember much of Lord Dantès as you claim.” Of everyone, he had fought hardest against any whisper of conflict with the Danroses.

The Lord accepted every insult, every cutting barb from the preening Caesonian aristocrats, believing this self-abasement would keep their town safe, preserve the peace across the country. The naive fool even dreamed that one day, their kind might exist without living in fear. How disastrously wrong he had been. He underestimated the bottomless greed of those monsters and what fear could do to them.

“Then what? Wulfric bit out, finally showing some of his own frustration.

“I’m ‘just some stupid lying girl.’ You won’t believe a thing I say because it’ll tarnish your family’s reputation and shatter every illusion you’ve had of yourself.”

“Have I not demonstrated that I am inclined to believe, or at the very least, to listen to your assertions?” he pointed out. “I am not someone who would cling to illusions, no matter how fanciful or entrenched.” He knew very well that reputation was a construct of lies, hopeful beliefs, and the occasional sprinkle of truth to tie it all in.

Riona’s defensive posture relaxed slightly. “If you do care… swear to me.”

“Swear what?” He inquired a tad cautiously. “I can swear that I care, because I do not wish to mistake convenience for necessity. The difference between the two was something he had been mulling over lately. But he had no idea what Lady Dantès actually wanted or expected. All that was clear was that she hated him.

“If you actually care, find out for yourself.” She straightened up and faced Prince Wulfric properly. “And when you do, swear to me you’d publicly reveal what your family has done in order to stay in power. Every last one.”

“Oh, I shall most certainly find out.” He shook his head though he did not immediately deny the second part of her request. “In order to stay in power…” he ruminated on her words. How much of it was ruling through fear, how much a force of habit? Did she mean any and all executed criminals as well? He could believe there had been unjust killings, but equally, he was convinced that some deaths were necessary.

However, seeking out and rectifying those which had not been necessary, those which had been unjust was agreeable. Yet, it was very much a matter of finesse in how such a thing was to be done. “Total transparency with the hope that it would bring about appropriate accountability?” He had to wonder what results she wished for. Given her hostility, vengeance was easily believable. Perhaps she plotted for his family’s downfall, or for another to take the Danroses’ place. “You have a surprisingly naive and optimistic outlook of humanity. We are prone to excusing the unforgivable, and to turning a blind eye to the unjust.”

There were two ‘worst case’ scenarios he could foresee coming from her request. One, the complete disintegration of trust in the government followed by years of unquenchable rebellions and violent social unrest. Two, he or other parties could present all that had been done as if it had been inevitable - as regrettable yet crucial sacrifices. If the latter happened, then nothing would change, or worse yet, ever greater atrocities could be committed.

Personally, he wished for neither of those; it was a matter of finding a third path, then. “Very well. You ought to keep in mind, however, that I shall do it on my own terms.” Even if it was doing ‘the right thing’, he would certainly do it in a manner that would benefit him, if not necessarily his parents. “Too, if I ever come across something too dangerous to reveal,” such as magic, “it will be my prerogative whether I do, in fact, reveal it. Believe it or not, there are truths the general public is not ready for – not at the present time, and perhaps, not until many years in the future.”

Riona stood motionless, catching every syllable, reading between each carefully crafted line. It was a roundabout way of saying things, but clearly the answer was no. Never, to be exact. Because in the end, all of Danroses’ crimes were exactly that, “too dangerous to reveal.” The truth was a threat to their reign. And a Danrose would never act against their own interests. Nothing would change. Not under this “Prince.”

When the abomination’s spawn finished mimicking human speech, there was silence. Strangely, the lack of a face made it easier to see the thing for what it really was. “Greed and fear,” she murmured.

“Good to know you intend to follow in your parents’ footsteps, Edin the Second.” She would’ve used a different name that suited it better, but she knew that its sire’s name would cut deepest. “They must be proud. How many of your own people will you kill to ‘maintain order’? Was tormenting that servant at age seven ‘for the greater good’ too? Ah! But of course!” She threw her hands up. Her words dripped with caustic sarcasm. “You’re protecting the people from the monstrosities that are yourselves. How very noble! … Too bad you’re doing a gods awful job at it.”

Her hands dropped to her sides. “Is that ‘the truth the general public is not ready for?’... Huh. I wonder why anyone would find any of that upsetting.”

Despite the anger, she was surprisingly composed. Maybe because the thing confirmed what she’d already known, strengthening her resolve. “We have nothing more to discuss. Thank you for reaffirming that talking to you is and always will be a colossal waste of time.”

Rather than turn on her heel, Riona stepped into the thing’s space, thrusting the stupid crow mask up high enough to meet its gaze directly. “I pray your reign shall never come. But if it must, may we be fortunate that it is mercifully brief.” Her eyes blazed with a hatred that could choke the breath out of anyone. She held that smoldering look a beat longer before shoving the mask back into place.
Even as she raged and stormed, however, he stood there still and silent, as unaffected as a cliffside weathering a tempest, as calm as the proverbial eye of a hurricane he happened to find himself in the middle of. Even as she ever so rudely removed his mask, he faced her unflinchingly, his lack of expression only reinforcing the impression of featureless, insensate stone. Their gazes met, and if hers was an inextinguishable wildfire, then his was as inexorably, hauntingly serene and inscrutable as an ocean whose surface was wrapped in heavily lingering mists.

“How unfortunate.” It was a flat, toneless utterance, as uncaring to her pain as the universe was to them all.

Brimming with all that barely contained wrath, overfilled with it to the point of bursting, Lady Dantès was incapable of nuance. She wanted an immediate resolution, she expected a clear-cut outcome. Her desire for justice – for vengeance - would not be satisfied until he and his family were all six feet under. Her volatile nature would not stop at mere prayers and wishes for his death, would it?

How unfortunate then, that the last Dantès would have to be slain at the hands of yet another Danrose.

Just or unjust, good or evil, fair or not – what did it matter in the face of pure survival?

He watched her leave without another word. If you must be an enemy, then so be it.
Wulfric & Ryn Part 1

It was no tricky task to espy his magicae. Though faint, like the many in the room, his did not reach to commingle with magical energies nor flux in the same manner others did. Rather, it clung to him—a thin sheet of fluorite green, frigid and still as winter ice; a frosty bulwark that shielded the man from the world as it shielded the world from him.

Ice-olation. Ryn chuckled to himself at the perfectly terrible pun.

Soft-footed, Ryn drifted toward him, this man enshrouded in black, concealing himself from the revelers. But not from Ryn. Not whilst these bespelled lenses retained the power to peer beyond. As the dark-clad man made idle chatter Ryn stole up behind and leaned close to whisper his name—their name“Adelard.”

The ice cracked; a hairline fissure. Something shifted below the frozen surface. Then Ryn saw Prince Wulfric’s sudden pivot just in time.

A glass of vermouth in hand, Wulfric was perusing the hors d’oeuvres available when he became aware of a certain sensation. A subconscious alert to something that he recognized only by the most minute of physiological reactions; the slight tensing of his muscles followed by an immediate relaxation, a subtle change in his heartbeat, the itching of his fingers urging him to reach for a weapon.

Was someone truly foolish enough to try and ambush him at a public event?

He angled his glass just so, attempting to catch a glimpse of the suspect in question. Unfortunately, the reflective surface did not provide anything of use. And then, they were there. A disturbance in the air indicated someone’s presence. It was now or never.

It wasn’t a cognizant decision, but a reflexive reaction – Wulfric turned around swiftly, his free hand reaching out aggressively, his mantle swishing in a rustle of feathers. As he acted on his desire to show them their mistake, what could only be described as killing intent surged, if merely for a second.


He recognized his overreaction, reigned in the unwarranted bloodthirst, and shifted from attacking to intercepting. Which was when he finally registered a detail that had nearly escaped his notice. A familiar voice had called out to him, in the same beat he’d gone on the move. Thus, he stopped almost awkwardly mid-motion, the arm which had been ready to grab left to hang there, in between the space separating him and the count.

He sighed as he looked down at the other man. “You again?” he questioned. Slowly, he lowered his hand.
“What exactly–” he started. However, before he could even formulate the question, Hendrix upped the ante by proceeding to be even stranger.

Just as the limb intent on doing harm was raised, Ryn traced its path with his own digits. When the prince lowered his hand, Ryn was there to take it gently in his grasp. With an easy grace, he twirled underneath their joined hands before sweeping into a florid bow calculated to attract every eye nearby; bent deeply at the waist with one leg extended forward while he touched his forehead to the back of the prince’s knuckles and his free arm carved arabesques in the air.

“Oh, Adel!” Ryn sang, “I thought you’d never ask! Yes, let us dance.” He pitched his voice to reach the avid ears surrounding them. Ryn could only hope his little show would suffice to plant seeds of doubt regarding the violence the onlookers thought they were about to witness.

Even for a fleeting span, the prince allowed the depth of his lethal capacity to show, enough to nail the shoes of the most perceptive watchers to the floor, frozen by understanding.

With the air of someone utterly indifferent as to how his slip up may or may not have been perceived by those in the vicinity, Wulfric took his time watching the count’s impromptu performance. He closely tracked the man as he whirled and danced around, then flourished a bow. As he pondered on the oddity in front of him, he guessed at the likely intent behind the count’s eye-catching display. Bafflement gave way to amusement.

“Ha!” he barked a disbelieving laugh.

He had to admit, the sheer gall to try to sneak up on him was impressive. Moreover, Hendrix took being nearly attacked in stride, and even followed it up with a showy improvisation. The perfection of the count’s timing alone was deserving of applause.

“I knew you were an entertainer,” he mused.

In his opinion, the enactment was unnecessary; even if anyone noticed anything, at most, they would experience a brief unsettlement before going back about their business. After all, nothing had happened, and they would feel safe putting it out of their minds. People were rather prone to ignoring uncomfortable matters, and would often craft their own excuses to explain away any discrepancies.

However, he did appreciate the show for what it was.

“Very well.” He reversed their hand-hold, placing his underneath, in the leading position. “I suppose I can indulge you…Since it’s your win this time,” he conceded in a whisper. He drained his drink, and on their path to the dance floor, deposited the empty glass upon the tray of a passing servant.

He stood opposite Hendrix then, retaining an open facing position and the one-hand hold. “Shall we?” At the affirmation, he led them in time with the music, starting with something simple, then weaving in more and more intricate steps as they danced.

“Has anyone ever told you that you have the makings of an assassin?” he asked right away, ironically humorous.

Ryn had not expected the prince to take his lighthearted invitation seriously. In truth, he was ready to let it pass into politeness as soon as the onlookers’ attention scattered elsewhere. Yet, here they stood, vis-à-vis upon the dance floor.

The opening forms were simple enough—bend the knee here, slide the feet to and fro there, bow on cue. Lather, rinse, and repeat. The intricate steps ahead, however, required a proper lead. He rather doubted the habitually commanding prince would allow another to steer him, but then the man had already proven full of surprises. Perhaps he might do so again.

“Quite the opposite. As you can see, I’m not hard to catch.” Ryn cast a rueful glance at the prince. “My apologies for frightening you. I wished only to say hello.”

“Apologizing when you were the one endangered?” he pointed out. “You are already two for two in startling me. Even after I warned you earlier today. Tsk tsk,” he chastised lightly.

“By no means can your talents be underplayed,” his tone was low, forbidding, and strangely melodic. “Not with all these techniques in your arsenal.” He chuckled darkly.

“A stealthy approach,” light steps took him towards Hendrix before he re-established their distance. “Remaining obscured,” he raised an arm, black fabric and raven feathers swirling in front of him in an artistic sweep as he mimicked being hidden. “Breaking line of sight.” He led them into a mutual twirl, so for a moment, they were back to back. “Erasing your presence,” he continued when they were facing each other again. “Or simply blending in.” He raised his free hand, tracing the air in front of the count’s mask and costume. He followed the action with a natural bow, yet another part of their dance.

“Getting close to your target.” This time, when they drew together, Wulfric changed their position. As if it were the most natural thing in the world, he slotted his arm against the other man’s back, and laid his palm on the count’s shoulder blade. With his left hand, he grasped Hendrix’s right. Nimbly, he led them into turns and rotations.

“Familiarizing yourself with them.” Rising and falling, they revolved against the other as they traversed the area in graceful spins. “Observing.” An insidious whisper fell against the count’s ear. “Allowing them to become accustomed to your presence.” They pressed closer, until practically no space remained between them. Swift, tightly executed twists ensued. “Biding your time.” His fingers pushed against Hendrix’s back, then let go. They lingered scant millimeters away, still very much so in the other man’s personal space. “Until…” The hand moved a few inches higher. Cool metal claws alighted upon Hendrix’s neck; a mere whisper of a touch. “You strike,” he hissed. Only, his fingers withdrew, nary a scratch left behind.

Wulfric took several steps away, until they were back to the handhold. While he intended to resume leading the dance from a more respectful distance, the count soon drew him in for a re-enactment.

“Three,” Ryn corrected. “The first was at the palace entrance, when I presented you the bouquet of herbs and flowers.” His head tilted in curiosity, “Did you make use of them, or did they wither away in a bin?” It made sense for someone as cautious as Prince Wulfric to throw out any unexpected gifts for safety’s sake.

Wulfric uttered a noise of complaint at the correction. “If you are counting that one,” he grumbled. However, the following question produced a smirk. “Oh, I used them, alright.” There was an odd note of self-satisfaction as he gave the unexpected reply.

They flowed into another sequence of the dance, their bodies moving together effortlessly like two gears in a clock. However, people are not machines and even gears shift in time. Try as they might to resist, change comes to all things in the end. Sometimes, it arrives as a tempest, leaving everyone dazed in its wake; other times, it is a silent, creeping ivy, unnoticed until everything is different. Their seemingly predictable dance, too, was altering, bit by bit with each step and turn.

“Three times, you have marked me a threat,” he continued. “Of all those who’ve passed behind you tonight, all those shadows at your back, what made you greet me in that way?” A faint smile appeared. “I am flattered you hold me in such high regard. How much time did you spend imagining how I might try to undo you?”

Unbidden, a grin spread across his features, hidden as it was beneath his mask. “None at all,” he answered, a laugh in his voice. “Why, did you imagine the ways?” he countered slyly. He sighed audibly as he considered the question. “I should like to know…Why you indeed.”

“None at all? So you made that list on the spot?” That query was answered with a simple, if amused, “Yes.” To which he responded in a low, “... Really?”

Though the prince still led and the count still followed in their stately pavane, as the dance progressed, Wulfric found himself being on the receiving end of his own performance.

“The stealthy approach.” Ryn glided forward, then smoothly back. “Remaining obscured,” he raised an arm, but the effect lacked somewhat without the dramatic black cloak and feathers. “Breaking line of sight,” they spun together, “erasing my presence,” and when they faced each other again they were far closer than propriety deemed wise. “Or simply blending in.” He traced the edge of the raven’s beak and then swept into a bow.

“Getting close to my target.” As if sensing Ryn’s intention, Prince Wulfric moved to intercept, reasserting the lead in their choreography. A soft chuckle escaped Ryn as they spiraled into a series of dizzying turns.

“Familiarizing myself with them.” He leaned in close to whisper a less harsh, “observing,” as one might speak to a frightened creature startled into fight. “Allowing them to become accustomed to my presence. Biding my time.” His fingers reached up, past the mask, and into the hood to rest on the prince’s neck where the ghost of an old injury lingered. Tension gathered in the muscles at his touch. “Until…”

The music ceased; the moment hung suspended as some dance pairs parted and new pairs formed around them. Ryn felt the rapid pulse under his fingertips but he made no other move, the fingers merely stayed there. “So tense, like an instrument string wound too tight,” Ryn said lightly before his tone shifted to one of concern. “Breathe, Adelard. Relax. You need to be able to unwind when you can or risk snapping at the worst possible moment.”

“Presumptuous,” Wulfric growled. Of course he was tense. How could he not be, when it took so much effort to hold back? To stay still while Hendrix made his own point, prolonging the moment of tension—

—until it finally broke. He exhaled harshly. It was far from fear that gripped him; nay, he felt the coming of a familiar thrill. The excitement as someone matched and challenged him. So, yes, he did have to calm down. It was neither the time nor the place.

The hand on Prince Wulfric’s neck slid down and around his back. By the time the prince realized what the count was doing, Ryn had already lifted their clasped hands, settling them into the starting pose as the music swelled again. His hold remained light, easily broken should Prince Wulfric wish to escape. “Choose your battles, Adel. Save your strength for the fight that truly matters to you.” His gaze dropped momentarily in introspection. “If I do end up hurting you… it won’t be tonight.” Lifting his eyes to catch the prince’s gray blues, the slightest of smiles hovered about Ryn’s mouth. “But if it makes you feel any safer… for me to get close enough to strike you, I must also be near enough for you to strike me.”

Wulfric permitted Hendrix to keep the lead as he took the sensible advice, and simply breathed to regain his equilibrium.

The things he might do to this man if given half the chance…

A deep inhale. And exhale.

Best to leave it be.

The next piece was far slower, and the soothing music was enough to lull one into a sense of security, false or otherwise.

“I fight all the battles…” there was a hint of melancholy, even loss, and perhaps, an inkling of doubt. Yet, it was gone with the next words, replaced by surety. “Tonight or tomorrow, I am ready whenever.” Firmly, he met the count’s inky black gaze. “I will be waiting until so are you.”

In Avalia 1 mo ago Forum: Casual Roleplay

Location: EXT. DOCK
Interactions/Mentions: Another guy affiliated with The New Dawn @SilverPaw; Zion @Helo; Guy affiliated with The New Dawn @Lava Alckon

Jun gaped as the nimble vampire-esque elf launched himself off the ship, executing a perfect leap and landing smoothly on the docks below. Part of him wanted to applaud the impressive display of agility, but he tamped it down. Instead, Jun took a tiny step back and sort of half-hid behind Zion's broader frame.

"Think you fellers can tell me your experience with sea-faring?" The dark elf asked once he returned. "Have ya swam before? Been on a ship? Dug up treasure? Any sort of anything you'd like to share with me?"

Treasure hunting. Despite his current circumstances as a reluctant passenger on this voyage, Jun felt a spark of excitement ignite within, enough for his eyes to briefly twinkle with piqued interest.

He had traveled by ship before, but only as a passenger. As for swimming, well, that was hardly his territory. He could muster little beyond a frantic doggy paddle before resigning himself to the dead man's float — that buoyancy trick never failed to elicit alarmed shrieks from onlookers.

When Tanithil's eyes found and pierced his own, Jun hurriedly averted his gaze to the safety of his own shuffling feet. To ignore the questions after locking eyes felt painfully, excruciatingly awkward. But he wasn't about to give up the silent treatment. So Jun gave a small head-shake as an answer.

Time: A.M.
Location: River Port
Interactions/Mentions: @mole@Conscripts
Equipment: Knife, drugs, and wallet looted from dope peddler

Vasco came to in the grime of a narrow back alley, still reeking of giggle water, dope, and perfumed company from the night before. A groan rattled from his throat as he peeled himself up off the cobbles. He staggered around to get his bearings straight. Every inch of his body felt like it had gone a few rounds with a heavyweight champ.

Something squished underfoot and Vasco blinked blearily at a pint-sized fellow, battered black and blue with streaks of crimson. But the little runt was still pulling air. Vasco racked his brain, trying to piece together the jigsaw of last night’s escapades.

Ever since rolling into Avalia, he’d been aching to paint the town for cheating the reaper, but his minders were tough nuts to crack. After several attempts, Vasco slipped their watchful eyes and he hit the juice joints hard, toasting to life with every riff-raff in sight. Fists flew in a smoky haze of music and hooch, and somewhere between a left hook and a line of joy powder, the night had spiraled.

Whatever was in the powder must’ve been some good stuff too, cause the next thing Vasco knew, Barrock was dragging his keister back to their digs. But how’d he end up back out on the street?

A familiar wave of dizziness crashed over him, the world spinning like a broken top. He slumped down and dug through his pockets, pulling out the little packet of powder from last night. With a lick of his thumb, he dusted the powder across his upper lip and snorted it up. Vasco gazed upward, watching the sky run circles until it tired itself into a calm blue.

He exhaled and eyed the rumpled form next to him. Ah, that’s right. The guy was some two-bit dope peddler. They were meant to do some business, but then the meet-up turned sideways when this squirt flipped his lid over Vasco being human. They ended up beating the stuffing out of each other.

Chuckling, Vasco made sure to frisk the unconscious runt of his valuables before he took off. Good start to the day: a workout and a windfall.

When he returned to Barrock, the big green looked sorer than a boiled owl. Rowan was stewing even worse. Aurora was still wearing a long face, down in the dumps.

Vasco scratched his scruffy mug, aggravating a raw nick on his jaw, then smeared the blood off on his shirt. “Yeah, morning to you lovely dames, too. So, what’s the caper today?”

Time: Night
Location: Damien Estate Ballroom
Interaction(s): Cowlick @samreaper

Having sneaked into the Damien estate more than a few times at this point, the place was getting to be old hat. Peter knew exactly where to change into servant clothes and it was easy to figure out where certain supplies were being stored. Not that knowing all that made it a walk in the park to move through the Damien estate.

The security was tight, with strategic checkpoints and patrols, and occasional servants passing by forced him to stay on his toes. Peter’s servant outfit helped to some degree, but there was still a lot of waiting and watching involved. He had to carefully choose his moments to move, hide, or pretend he had every reason to be where he was whenever someone approached. But Peter lived for the thrill of it all. With each close call, his heart raced, and the risk only fueled his excitement.

He relished the chance to test his skills. It’s why he made the daredevil decision to be a little sh*t and take it further after he got his hands on a bag of gunpowder from the storage room. Since he was here, might as well snoop through C-Bert and Lili-A’s things.

Peter carefully made his way to the living area of the estate and randomly picked a room he could start his search in. While poking through various items, trying to find something remotely interesting, a sudden noise interrupted his explorations. He froze mid-motion, straining to listen. The sound grew louder. Without hesitation, Peter dropped to the floor and squeezed himself underneath the largest piece of furniture.

The door swung open, and a guard strode into the room, his boots thumping heavily on the floor. Peter watched intently as the guard’s feet paced around the room, eventually stopping right in front of his hiding spot.

Time seemed to crawl as the guard remained motionless, and Peter could feel beads of sweat forming on his brow. He was beginning to think that he’d have to fight his way out when the guard turned and exited the room. The door closed behind them with a soft click. Peter exhaled slowly and counted the seconds, waiting for what he thought would be a safe amount of time before attempting to emerge from his hiding place.

Just as he was about to move, muffled noises pricked up his ears. It was coming from the other room. Being the nosy bastard he was, the rogue listened good.

Back in the ballroom, Peter was just another faceless servant thanks to the servant-issued mask slapped on his face. But he had a harder time finding Olivia and Cowlick than he did with the gunpowder. Turned out Olivia bolted from the party a while ago. And after playing a few rounds of servant roulette with a crowd wearing the same drab uniforms and bland masks, Peter finally found the guy he was looking for.

“Hey Vincent,” Peter called out, “you dropped this.” He handed a leather pouch to Cowlick, then clapped him on the arm, putting a little extra oomph into it. “Next pint’s on you, and we’ll call it square.” Gunpowder delivered, Peter turned away, leaving the farmer boy to do whatever scheme he had cooking.

Ríoghnach "Riona"
Time: Night
Location: Damien Estate Ballroom
Interaction(s): Shehzadi Nahir @Rodiak

Lordling Smithwood scurried away, his tail tucked so far up his ass you could barely see it. The sight should’ve filled her with a rush. But it was a hollow victory, and she knew it. Shehzadi Nahir’s presence was the only reason he backed down, not because of what Riona did or said.

A stark reminder of the true disparity of their power.

Riona’s grip tightened around the bracelet as a heavy weight of impotence settled in her guts. With each pounding beat, the sensation spread, a knife twisting deeper and deeper into her heart.

She drew a deep, steadying breath, then flagged down a passing servant. “Excuse me, a guest is missing a pocket watch, and he found this bracelet.” Her voice betrayed no emotion as she handed over the jewelry. “Could you see if anyone is searching for a lost bracelet? And if anyone comes across the missing watch, please see that it is returned to the man wearing a lion’s mask.” She pointed at the Lordling in the distance. “Yes, the one who’s laughing like a madman.” After thanking the servant, he immediately departed on his errand.

“Quite a handful, isn't he? Adorable.”

Riona didn’t bother to stifle a groan. “There… can be a certain charm to childish, even self-centered, behaviors in small, occasional doses, I will grant. But even you would not find him so endearing when it reaches King Edin’s level of petulance.” She gauged the Shehzadi’s reaction to her not-so-subtle jab at the King. “It is all good fun to watch from afar. Less so when one is made the brunt of it.”

She noticed the amusement playing across Shehzadi Nahir’s face as she watched the earlier exchange between Riona and Sh*tlord. People did so love a bit of drama, didn’t they? Especially when they could simply sit back and enjoy the show without risking a scratch themselves.

Her gaze drifted to Lordling Smithwood who was still cackling for some reason—seriously, what’s wrong with him? Then, back to her dance partner. “You could do better, My Lady.” A sigh escaped her. “Though it would be a great win for him. He would certainly benefit from having a partner as mature as you. I imagine your words would reshape him in a way mine never could.”

That sinking sensation of powerlessness returned. And with it, doubt.

… What was she even doing?

All of this is a distraction.
Only one thing matters, and it’s the reason why you still draw breath.
Do not forget. Do not falter.

But I

Shehzadi Nahir’s silken voice cut through Riona’s thoughts. “Well now, will my nameless and lovely dance partner finally introduce herself?”

“Far be it from me to point it out, My Lady, but you never introduced yourself either.” The most unladylike smirk appeared on her mouth. “Since Lord Smithwood offered but one name, Nahir, I will reciprocate and share only part of mine.” Riona paused for a moment, weighing the risks of it before saying, “Dantès.”

Riona gracefully dipped into a deep, sweeping curtsy. Her movements were fluid, her back straight and her head held high as she bent at the waist, one foot stepping back to support her weight. “From House Dantès.” After a moment, Riona slowly rose.

“You may have gleaned as much already, but I was not officially invited to this party. House Dantès has fallen somewhat out of favor with… certain families. I would be most obliged if you kept the knowledge of my attendance to yourself.”

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