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Author Topic: The Marrying Kind  (Read 350 times)

Description: Attn: Ji Yoon

Offline Akira no Kagen

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The Marrying Kind
« on: May 28, 18, 09:53:20 PM »
Akira had returned back to Dena Nehele with only slight excitement for his life ahead. He had seen his sister and his Aunt, had pretty much avoided his brother, had done a few little concerts and visited some friends and then come back to Dena Nehele. He hadn't gone right to Blackwater to see his sister upon his return. While he probably should have, he wasn't really keen on the idea of running to her like she was his mother or his Queen. While, yes, he was contracted to her Court for her year in Dena Nehele (she had made sure to get that signed in blood), he felt like eschewing it in favor of his other duty.

He wasn't quite sure yet how to feel about Ji Yoon. The whole marriage thing was weird to him, still. Even as he'd made conscious effort to feel better about it and to look at it in the best possible light (she was still pretty cute), he wasn't still keen about the idea of being forced into anything.

But given that it was to kick Tina into gear into helping secure the release and return of some lady in distress, he supposed it was for a good cause. His sister wasn't an altruistic person by nature, so she likely wouldn't have used her resources to help otherwise. So taking it in stride, he put on his best face and his best smile, wore a cream suit and freshly dyed his hair blonde. He applied the proper makeup to make his face practically glow, and went subtler on the eye-shadow and the gloss than if he were performing.

Sunglasses on, he arrived at Ji Yoon's Clinic and stepped inside (it was open for the public, after all), and seeing her little secretary he gave a broad smile. She was pretty cute, too. Points to his future wife for finding the right talent. It would be near quitting time, and he gave a nod of greeting as he moved to take up a seat in the lobby. "Hello. I'm not in need of help. Just waiting for Lady Moon." And then he'd settle, cross his legs like a woman, and look to see if they had something to read.


Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 18, 10:44:22 PM »
The table in the lobby was strewn with the latest two editions of the Bidea Daily and its more lowbrow sibling, the Bidea Bugle, which whoever had been reading last had flipped to a full-page Polly Protocol column. This week, the advice witch was weighing in on recognizing if someone from another territory was telling the truth when they claimed to be an aristo and what to do when you weren't prepared to properly feed your guest's Dark-Jeweled plus-one. Fascinating stuff. (Better to offer respect where it wasn't due than offer offense, and accommodate as best you could but definitely tell your friend that they've put you on the spot, opined Polly.)

Ji Yoon had been counting down to Akira's return to Dena Nehele with mixed emotions. Their prior interactions had been... not great, and on the one hand it was a reprieve to know he was an ocean away and occupied with family matters. On the other hand, with their newly-changed circumstances, every day that she wasn't able to actually speak to him personally about how to proceed just put added pressure on their eventual meeting. Being able to meet with her fiance face-to-face would not solve all of her problems, but it would solve at least ten of them.

And who could say how they would get along now that she had been instructed to actually make an effort an all blood feuds were on hold until further notice?

She did not go out to collect Akira as soon as she was notified of his arrival. Despite her eagerness to speak to him, Ji Yoon did not want to appear too eager. He'd been perfectly clear before about how quickly he'd escalate things given his druthers, and she hoped that if she made him wait now, it would send a message moving forward.

So, twenty minutes later, once she finished with her patient and taken a moment to clean her hands and fix her ponytail, Ji Yoon finally made her way up to the lobby. That Akira had waited patiently and not made a scene was already a marked improvement over the last time he'd come by - and though his clothes and styling were outlandish by Tacean standards, she had to admit he'd toned it down, and the only reason he stood out in her waiting room was because most of her patients didn't have the coin to buy such nice shoes.

"Good afternoon, Lord Kagen," she said, nodding to him, and told her assistant, "Annie, I'll be stepping out for a bit. Send me a thread if any emergencies come in. You can handle anything basic."

But it had been a slow day.

"There's a cafe up the street that'll be quiet about now," Ji Yoon said, turning her attention back to Akira. It would be interesting to see how long he managed to keep a lid on his natural exuberance. "Would you like to join me for a bit of a late lunch?"

Once they were out in the street, she fell into stride beside him, hands tucked into the pockets of her light jacket to cut any attempts at a public display of affection off at the pass. "How was your visit home?" she asked. "Besides the obviously tragic parts."





Offline Akira no Kagen

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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #2 on: Jun 02, 18, 03:04:32 PM »
Akira got to his feet as Ji Yoon arrived in the room, straightening out his suit. He lifted a blonde eyebrow at her for her Protocol-perfect way of speaking to him. "Lady Moon." He managed to say back with a restrained thread of a laugh, but he bowed and added the proper non-verbals to meeting a Casted woman back home. He knew his lessons well and he managed to do it here in front of her employee. "I would love to join you for lunch."

Falling into step beside her, Akira walked confidently and with the touch of a swagger of someone who was enjoying the weather and his company, his hands were tucked into his pockets as his eyes bounced over the street sides and their path ahead. "So, in public are we going with formal titles and the like, or was that just because we were in front of your assistant?" He looked over to the lady that was going to be his wife with a slow smile that looked more teasing than anything else.

Returning his gaze ahead, he noted her non-verbals of sticking to herself and being somewhat closed off. He'd been warned ahead of time, and he knew what he was getting into now after speaking some to her father. "Oh, y'know, it was fine. Family drama -- but you get that when you have a big family and everyone's there for a funeral. Emotions run high. Names get tossed around. No face-punching this time, but it was close." His tone was light, seeming to make fun of the whole affair, and he gave a shrug as he came down from the jesting of it all. "But yeah it was sad and sudden. Managed to have some good out of it, but not a lot.

Talked to your dad about you."
He turned his eyes over to her, managing a smirk as he moved to get away from the somber and sad subject of his cousins being murdered by the Territory Queen. "He gave me a list of things to buy you to make a good impression. For some reason flower bouquets weren't on the list."

He withdrew his hand from his pocket, and he revealed a pink hibiscus, just a small one on a gold brooch and offered it toward her. He had made sure to get something that was from the Hanwa islands, and if she took it and scanned over it she'd see that it was entwined with preservation spells.

After all, after the eruption, there wasn't many of them left.

"I brought a bunch of more practical stuff, but I've never been one to just blindly do what I was told."

He waited to see if she took the offering and what her reaction would be, before he'd say anything else, gauging it to shift his tone and his topic.


Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #3 on: Jun 02, 18, 07:21:41 PM »
Ji Yoon had not been so hopeful as to expect to find Akira no Kagen a changed man, though she appreciated that he behaved according to protocol until they left the clinic and refrained from any public displays of affection once they were out in the street. "I would prefer we maintain formality," she said, noting his smile but not returning it. Every proper courtship had stages, and he could stop calling her Lady Moon when she said so.

"Your sister was in fine form when she returned a few weeks ago," she said, tone a bit lofty. "Could quote-unquote family drama have had anything to do with that?" Surely Akira had heard about Toyani's run-in with Garen L'Voide - she'd been sure to tell Hinata about it, and her understanding was that the two were close. Now, however, tensions seemed to have cooled, and it was looking as though the Red Queen might have made her intended point when she barged into the slavemaster's study and unarmed his manservant... so here she was with Akira, trying to get a read on where he stood in regards to Toyani.

At the mention of her father, Ji Yoon could not help but have her interest piqued. What exactly had Seung said to Akira about her - enough to explain Akira's uncharacteristic calm? She quickly debated how to feel about that. Her past ought to have been hers to divulge... but perhaps her father had meant to spare her some awkward small-talk. "Did you," she replied, and this time he succeeded in teasing a smile from her lips - one that only grew when he extended the hibiscus towards her.

"There were flowers like this in the palace garden in Jaejong..." she said, accepting the brooch and holding it closer to examine it. The preservation spells around it preserved both form and freshness of the flower and its attached stem - she would ask him later if it needed any additional care, probably whenever he got to delivering the aforementioned more practical stuff. But for now, she was delighted with the thoughtfulness of the gift. Her smile widened.

"Thank you," Ji Yoon said, pinning the flower into her hair. "This is beautiful."

"You know," she added, waving him over to a table on the cafe's patio, "you could have just skipped the part where you talked to my father and just taken credit for being thoughtful all on your own."

At least he'd been clear that the flower she now wore in her hair had been his own idea. "But I'm glad you didn't," Ji Yoon added, taking a seat across from him. "Will you be joining Toyani at her court in Lesser Caecian?" she asked.





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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #4 on: Jun 03, 18, 04:28:38 PM »
Of course she did, but he was willing to not sneer or otherwise show his disagreement with that. He wasn't a formal person if he could ever help it, but for now he just nodded and would walk along without pointing out it was silly. It wasn't like he'd not seen Ji Yoon lose her composure before.

"Oh? Huh. Maybe? I haven't been by to see her. So I've missed out on the gossip. What did she do, call Riley Vlas a whore in public or something?" It wouldn't surprise him, what with half the things Tina said in his company. He was almost afraid to ask, but he'd hear about it at some point or another.

The fact that she appreciated the flower and the brooch warmed his smile and his heart, and he deepened in interest in that moment as he was no longer a nuisance but a (somewhat) welcome courtier. "Well, it's not the prettiest thing I've seen today." He tilted his head, making sure to make it clear he was looking at the brooch and at her. "But it's right next to it."

He followed her gesture to the table and sat across from her, sliding one leg over the other beneath the table into a position he was fully comfortable. "I don't plagiarize., it's against my personal ethos as an artist." He took on a snobbish air for a moment and placed his hand upon his chest and lifted his chin, practically oozing Toyani's mien and moch monotone. "The practical effects are your father's suggestions. The fun and artistic presents are mine."

Settling into something more relaxed as his stoic look shifted to a slightly catty smirk and he leaned back into his seat. "I'm contracted to her First Circle for the year she's here. It was part of our agreement. But I'm free to move around and see who I wish when I wish, such as a hard-working Healer up here in Bidea.

How long is your contract with Riley?"
He asked, turning the question to her as they waited for their menu. This time he let her order, as he remembered fucking it up their last attempt.


Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #5 on: Jun 06, 18, 12:48:53 AM »
Ji Yoon had expected word of his sister's actions to reach Akira's ears, but being told the opposite did not surprise her as much as she might have expected it to. Hinata no Kagen was a woman of discretion. She had suggested Ji Yoon see if she could sow discord between her niece and nephew, but she would not have done it herself. "She confronted a man who bankrolls the majority of the territory court, disagreed with him, and then destroyed his home, they half his household staff out the windows, and cut off a manservant's arm," said Ji Yoon mildly. "That man also holds Yua no Ariake's control ring, so..."

She pressed her lips together. This was a complication - though now that the situation had cooled, she was not sure it was as much of a threat to the engagement as she'd originally supposed. She was more concerned with the warnings she'd received from Jeremiah Mercer about the possibility for disaster.

She blushed, and then laughed at his affected tone. Akira could be funny when he wasn't coming on so strongly - and there was something attractive about a man who could make her laugh. Maybe all Ji Yoon had needed was a difference in perspective? He was still Kagen, but if she swallowed that down and swallowed that down, perhaps she could overlook that. Her father apparently could - first this agreement with Toyani, and now his newfound alliance with Hinata-sama. House Corro had always been closet with the Ariake, but perhaps he'd seen some reason to trade loyalties?

"Well," said Ji Yoon, warmth sneaking into her voice. "I'm glad you've found your ability to modulate." Some spontaneity was lovely. The gift was lovely. Showing up and causing a scene outside the clinic... was not.

She paused to give her order before answering his next question. "Three years, one of which is half done." That likely seemed longer to Akira than to her, their lifespans being what they were. "You're not in any hurry to return to Tacea, I hope?"

He didn't seem like the sort to get homesick, unconventional as he was. Sang Hwan had been far more traditional - though that was hardly a contest. Fifty years at the outside, she thought. And he wasn't awful. Perhaps the third time was the charm.

But none of that would likely matter if Toyani didn't see Yua no Ariake home safely. It was too soon to go and get married to the idea of this.





Offline Akira no Kagen

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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #6 on: Jun 13, 18, 03:04:41 PM »
"She.. uh.. what?" Akira sputtered for a moment, clearly surprised by what Ji Yoon had said. She didn't seem the type to joke around, so he was waiting to see if she was going to spring a personality quirk on him or if she was serious. After a moment he slowly exhaled with a shake of his head, muttering a quiet 'Night's Breath' in disbelief. "That girl. She kept her seat? They didn't try to break her or anything? How the fuck did that happen?

Is.. uh.. Yua free now? I take it that she confronted him about that?"


Leaning back in his seat, Akira lifted a hand up to his cheek to tap idly along the bone outline that was visible beneath the skin, a nervous habit as he considered just how much more precarious life in Dena Nehele had become because of Tina's temper and her attack on a member of the Territory Court. He was still processing that thought and what he was going to do to try and talk sense into her (a prospect that seemed less and less likely the more he thought about it).

"No, I'm really not eager to go home. I have a large following and some fans there -- some people look at me like I'm sort of well... I don't know, some sort of speaker for the new generation? Someone to buck tradition and push gender lines. I've had a lot of people write me letters saying I was some sort of inspirational figure. Which always struck weird to me, because I don't find myself very inspirational.

I just wanted to be me. To do my art. And art shouldn't have boundaries, so."
He shrugged slowly and looked at the serious woman before her.

"What do you think?" He got away from the topic of Toyani for a moment, focused instead on the woman whom his future was now to be bound to. Leaning forward the made-up man placed his elbows on the edge of the table and considered her. "You have a brother right?" He almost went with the 'if you had a son' question, but found that to be a bad idea given her past and the fact that he was her prospective mate. "He's going to live a long time. Should he always be in that box that men are meant to be in? Your Dad's doing more than any man in Tacea has done before.

Do you think that things should change?"


Offline Ji Yoon Moon

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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #7 on: Jun 15, 18, 10:59:49 AM »
Akira’s question was almost cute in how idealistic it was - as though anyone could show up at the home of Garen L’Voide with a sword and throw their weight around and get what they wanted from him. Ji Yoon laughed dryly, just once - a shallow Ha!

“It seems she faced no consequences at all,” she said, “though I have no idea how. I wasn’t invited to the discussion.”

She’d been out of doors, working alongside Yua no Ariake to reattach the previously-mentioned disarmed man’s limb. He’d walked away with the best possible outcome from that situation, all things considered. But the other Healer had not been so lucky. “The confrontation was about Yua, yes,” she confirmed, nodding, “but the outcome was not as Toyani hoped. Yua no Ariake remains in bondage… and perhaps worse off than before.”

Ji Yoon sighed. “I tried to call on her for work a few days ago. There was an accident at a cloth mill. A child—“

She stopped herself and shook her head. It had been tremendously grisly, and they were about to eat. “I’ve been told she’s forbidden contact with anyone from Tacea. That L’Voide doesn’t want us giving her ideas.”

It was ridiculous. Toyani had suffered no personal repercussions, because they’d all been shoved off onto Yua. Ji Yoon had no doubt that the young Healer would taste freedom again - but there was all manner of indignities that could be inflicted on her before then.

But, she determined, that discussion had gone on long enough. There was no use in rehashing it over their salad course - not when any points they raised would stand a chance of bettering Yua’s situation.

“Hmm,” she said, considering his explanation of his status within Tacea. Ji Yoon knew full well the pressure that came with being a role model - she’d trained apprentices, knowing that any error in her instruction might result in the death of a patient down the line. But if Akira had touched a nerve of some kind in… whatever portion of the youth of Tacea he’d reached, surely they would feel the sting of abandonment if he didn’t return to them?

(Of course, fearing responsibility seemed par for the course with him.)

“Haneul and I have both benefitted from having a foreigner for a father,” she said thoughtfully, considering Akira as he considered her. “He has a great deal in common with you, actually.” (Her brother himself had pointed out the similarity.) “And I know he has high hopes for the changes our father’s rule might bring… “

But he’d posed the question to her. Not to her absent younger brother. Ji Yoon bit her lip, thoughts drifting back to Sang Hwan and his staunchly traditional family, to the fight she’d once had over teaching their son to read. It had become a moot point, her boy had died six months later, but… she’d won the fight. He’d known his letters. Known sight words. It had never been a question that he would. All the men in her family were literate.

She swiped a hand quickly across her eyes and found them moist. “Sorry,” she said awkwardly, drawn back to the moment. “Sorry. Yes. I do think things should change. And some people will resist that, but… I think the advantages of education, of freedom of expression - they far outweigh any possible drawbacks.”

She paused.

“You’ve obviously been well-educated,” she added. “Do the Kagen value literacy in their men, or are you the exception?”

He was almost like a geisha, she thought, not for the first time.





Offline Akira no Kagen

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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #8 on: Jun 15, 18, 01:36:09 PM »
Their salad was delivered and Akira got into the greens but only out of guilt for the starving people of this dirtbag Territory. Dena Nehelian salad was different from Tacean food, and while he liked their heavier faire he didn't really much care for the garbage they'd dressed up as an 'appetizer' to the food that would make him sleep heavy and sound.

Still, it was just a distraction from the conversation and he seemed quite stoic and stern as he nodded with Ji Yoon's recitation of events in his absence. He didn't like that someone had been blocked from aid because of Toyani's impulsive behavior. But he wasn't certain what he could do about it in the here and now. L'Voide seemed like a serious hurdle to get past.

The shift of topic was a welcome one; as influencing Toyani never seemed like something he'd be particularly apt at and he hated feeling helpless. It seemed to hit Ji Yoon somewhat hard and he noticed her eyes moisten. Seung had said she'd lost a husband and some children, did she have a son?

Quiet, he let that emotional moment pass without commenting; some things weren't worth picking at. Well. Almost without commenting. "Nothing to say sorry about." The fact that she'd let her guard down enough for him to see that of her, well... that was something special.

"Heh, yeah. I'm a mouthy man." Akira's smile broke into a full grin as he stopped picking at his greens. "My father had been a Geisha, but wasn't fully literate. Shiro, my brother, was my mother's first child and it wasn't clear if she'd have another. My mom..."

He let out a laugh. "Well. She was a real hellcat, man. She didn't like anyone or anything telling her what she could or couldn't do. So she decided that Shiro was going to learn how to read and write. It was during the war, so she felt that everyone should pull their weight because it wasn't clear that Aunt Hinata was going to win back then. Same with me and my brother; she taught all of us to read herself because she wanted all of us to help the Clan.

But, heh, her view on what that was and what Aunt Hinata thought were really different things. Mom wouldn't send us to go be Geisha she thought that was sacrificing a son. But.. I don't think she would have approved of who and what I am these days."


Giving another noncommital shrug, he turned to look down at his food. "My dad died while she was pregnant with Tina, and after Tina was born she had a stroke or something. She's been pretty much an invalid since then. She's around but she doesn't really talk or anything. Just a couple words here and there, but you can tell she's not all there."

A laugh came to him then, and he looked up to Ji Yoon then seeming to find something really funny. "Ah, man, sorry I got way off track. No, it's not common among the Kagen. My side of the family's just the side that does kind of whatever.

How about your siblings, are you close to any of them? You mentioned Hanuel, do you have others besides your brother?"



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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #9 on: Jun 16, 18, 04:40:58 PM »
Mouthy hadn’t been where Ji Yoon had been going with that, but the description certainly fit. Even if Akira’s sense of self-awareness only ran as far as his ability to crow about his flaunting of convention… he still possessed it. And, from the sound of it, he came by such rebellion honestly.

And, to be fair, what he’d just revealed about his upbringing certainly explained a lot about Toyani. Knowing that she’d been raised essentially parentless and was likely held responsible for her mother’s decline lent Ji Yoon a very small degree of sympathy for her - but it was still strange to hear the Red Queen referred to by her childhood nickname. Like he was calling a tiger as though it was a housecat.

Akira’s description, though meandering, had made it clear that his mother - when she’d been lucid - and his aunt didn’t see eye-to-eye on much of everything. Perhaps his side of the family had done whatever until now, but she’d been quick to see that real power would come from being in Hinata no Kagen’s good graces. “But,” she probed, “To your knowledge, has your aunt ever objected to you and your brothers’ educations?”

She doubted it - Hinata no Kagen was liberal-minded enough to support a man on the throne. But people could always hold a double standard for what they would tolerate from others versus what they would tolerate from their own families.

“Or any other members of your family?” she added, after a moment more’s consideration. Perhaps Hinata tolerated it, but were there others who would object? Despite the recent change in House Corro’s social standing, Ji Yoon knew full well that she entered any marriage with a mainlander at a disadvantage. If this were to actually move forward… she needed to know what she was up against.

Ji Yoon sighed softly, mostly to herself. Her first marriage had been for love, with none of these conversations carried out beforehand. This just felt like… politics.

Her father sat on the Dragon Throne now, she reminded herself. Everything was politics.

“To my knowledge, Haneul is my only surviving sibling,” she said, and bit her lip, for she felt very much in danger of growing misty-eyed again. She took a deep breath before continuing. “My father had three Ariake daughters who didn’t survive the eruption of Mount Itoko. The youngest of them was fifty years my senior. There were two sisters younger than me - one who shared a mother with Haneul, one who didn’t. I haven’t heard any news of them either way, so I’ve prepared myself for the worst…”

Myung Hye, at least, had been out of Tacea at the time of the catastrophe - but her letters had been more and more infrequent until they’d stopped coming entirely.

She’d saved mentioning Son Mi for last - of all her lost or missing sisters, her twin’s silence hurt the most. “And I had a twin sister. Son Mi. She was identical to me in nearly every way besides our castes. We even wore the same Jewels… but I was at the Territory Court in Ito… and no one’s been able to give me news of her one way or another.”

Sighing, she nudged her salad plate towards the edge of the table for the waiter to clear. Ji Yoon knew Akira hadn’t meant any harm with his question, but… she really wished he hadn’t brought it up. “What kind of care has your mother received?” she asked, changing the subject. “There’s a Healer who works out of a convent near Black Immortal - Lady Wakano. She specializes in treating brain injuries. I realize your mother has been in her current state for over twenty years, but perhaps she could benefit from being seen…?”





Offline Akira no Kagen

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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #10 on: Jun 20, 18, 12:17:25 PM »
"Aunt Hinata?" Akira's blonde eyebrows shot up in confusion. "No, no. She's always been supportive of us. All of us, really. Not everything of course. She wasn't really supportive of Shiro taking over the 'family business', heh. Or me and Tina coming out here." He shrugged and picked at his salad, his nose wrinkling as he looked down at it.

When the conversation came to family, or rather, her family, he noticed the sharp shift in mood. He hadn't really considered the fact that Seung Corro was so closely aligned with the Hanwa and the Ariake and that his family stemmed from the association of the Clan to the minority tribe. It wasn't something he really cared to study, thus why he was largely surprised by Ji Yoon's initial venom toward him. Here and now he understood her a bit more. She'd lost everything, really. Her husband, her children, her siblings, her mother and now.. to a degree.. her father.

His eyes were earnest and focused. Seung Corro had told him to give Akira's future wife time to come out and speak, to not push at her beyond her boundaries. But in this moment the pain she spoke with, even restrained, was a clarion bell to his heart. Akira had always been the most empathetic of the Kagen men, and even now he could only consider himself in her place had he lost Hideto.

She tried to change the subject to his mother, but he reached across the table and took her hand to give it a firm squeeze of support. His fingers, his skin were incredibly smooth; more like a woman's than a man's, but his voice was firm and solid as he looked at her face in search for her eyes.

"I also have a twin. He and I don't see eye-to-eye a lot. But I'd feel pretty fucked up if I lost him.

If there's any way we can find them; any of them, even if it's just something to bury, I'll help you, Ji Yoon. My sister has a Court Seer, I can push for her to start trying to find them if you want.

I know it's been some time, but."
He gave a slow shrug and moved to release her hand and draw it back to his side of the table. "I've always been the optimistic type, and people are starting to come out even now after everything. You never know."

He exhaled from the heavy moment and shook his head. "I think they tried Healers or Black Widows in the past but nothing ever came of it. I.. uh.. think Tina wanted to be a Black Widow to try and fix it herself, cause that's just like her. But she's always dodged the question when I asked.

But I don't see where it could hurt? Do you know that Healer?"


Akira paused, his mien turning serious in thought, and he looked somewhat in disbelief. "Man I can't even imagine my Mom being around and talking again. It'd be a trip. And weird. Like someone coming back from the dead, almost."


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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #11 on: Jun 20, 18, 10:00:23 PM »
Ji Yoon was momentarily caught off-guard - both by the press of his hand against hers, and by the sheer unlikely coincidence that they would both be twins. Just as he’d never had cause to familiarize himself with Seung Corro’s family tree, she’d never had cause to familiarize herself with his. True, she’d done a bit of reading in light of the recent upheaval, but only enough to understand who’d been struck down and who was ascending. Her research had never gotten as far as Akira’s branch.

“We’ve kept separate lives for a long time,” she said, golden eyes meeting his. She felt uncomfortably seen in that moment, her soft emotional center laid bare. Ji Yoon had approached everything in Dena Nehele with a certain air of professional aloofness - it had been a chance to start over somewhere her father wasn’t famous, where not everyone knew, in even vague terms, the life she’d lived for sixty years and then shed like a snake shed its skin.

Now all that had come running back to her, and the only way forward in any endeavor she chose to pursue was to shoulder it.

“But yes, I am still pretty fucked up about this,” she said, and laughed, despite herself. She’d expected her twin to be a touchstone in her life, a constant. Someone who she could return to again and again, despite their differences, bound as they were by their shared lifespan.

“That’s… that’s very kind of you to offer,” she said, breaking eye contact as he withdrew his hand. “Do you mind if I take some time to consider?” He might have been the optimistic type, but Ji Yoon almost preferred not knowing. At least then, the possibility was out there. If she sought answers, they weren’t guaranteed to be the ones she wanted. And who would she even look for first? It wasn’t the sort of situation that would benefit from any… hasty decisions.

“I’m not surprised,” Ji Yoon answered, considering this information. Where was Toyani in attempting to learn her new caste? Akira’s response made it sound as though it wasn’t going well, but perhaps that was misdirection? He was still a member of his sister’s court, and Ji Yoon had let down too many walls already. Had he held any back? “It’s a very delicate specialty.”

To say she knew Lady Wakano would be presumptuous. “I’ve met her once,” she said, watching as their food was set down between them. “At a court function at Black Immortal. She is very, very devout.”

That was almost an understatement.

“The unique nature of your mother’s infirmary, along with a generous donation to the convent, might be enough to secure a consultation. I haven’t examined her myself, so I can’t say how much function she might stand to regain,” she cautioned. “That and… brains aren’t really my thing. I do more common work. Fevers. Broken bones. Mothers. Children.”

She shrugged, having hesitated just a moment too long. “That sort of thing. But I see no harm in trying.”





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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #12 on: Jun 22, 18, 12:03:16 PM »
Akira didn't comment right aloud. He was a poet, a man full of empathy (that, honestly, he used for selfish reasons at times), and he understood this was a sensitive juncture. So he held her hand until it felt right to separate their touch. "Take as much time as you need. I'm sure I can get away from my duties here for a bit for it. It's a bit more responsible than what I normally do." A small smile there, cognizant of his own manners and being, he made room for the plate of food that arrived. It looked good enough, but it didn't grab at him to immediately be eaten.

Instead he turned most of his attention to what Ji Yoon was saying about Lady Wakano and her specialties, but more as she talked about herself. He moved his plate aside slowly and drew his elbows up onto the end of the table, leaning forward toward her as steepled his fingers in front of his chin and affixed himself with a body posture of interest and focus on her.

Akira noticed that break in conversation, in her thought. Mothers, children, and she had been the former and lost the latter. He didn't comment because he felt that was an unfair use of the knowledge that Seung Corro had given him. To speak it aloud here, now, would be a betrayal. So instead he circled back to her topic of her twin as family was a matter that seemed important to them both, in their own way.

"I grew up with my twin, Hideto, but we never really got along. He's a Priest and a Warlord Prince, so as you can imagine there's a whole lot to untangle there, heh. He's always been super serious and traditional -- once he realized reading wasn't normal he felt sick about it for a week. He's never really liked my life choices or my music.

But I love him still, you know? I still want him to be happy."
Akira's mouth sprung into a wide grin. "Well, happy after I give him a hard time. He's off in Shalador right now, he's one of Yuki's Daggers. He bonded to her while she was training under Aunt Hinata and you can see it when he looks at her that he loves her."

At once, he seemed to notice his food and drew back from the table to sit up and pulled the plate in front of him. "It's funny, right? No matter how much they can drive you up the wall, that blood bond.. that.. shared spirit, it calls to you. It makes you want the best for them, even if you don't agree with what they do or what they're about. Something has to be seriously wrong for family to not get along, I think.

Just saying..."
He trailed off with a shrug and looked down at his plate and set his fork against it, then back to her. A seeming shift in topic, something more about the recent events that connected to the last topic. "It's too bad Yuki didn't stay in Ito. I think that half the crazy crap that's been going on wouldn't have happened if she'd done out her term. She's a good egg. A lot like my aunt. From what I understood Ishiyo was kind of the opposite of them both."

Akira tempted a taste and found it was pretty good, giving a satisfied nod at the food. He cleared his palette with some water. "You think your dad is gonna be ruling long, or is he going to try to get out of it as soon as he can?"


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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #13 on: Jun 22, 18, 06:46:59 PM »
Ji Yoon returned his slight smile. “I’ll let you know what I decide,” she said, glancing to his food. He hadn’t moved to eat immediately, and she wondered if he would think her rude if she picked up her own utensils. Ji Yoon had served in Ito, but the Hanwa did have a reputation among the great clans for being… uncivilized. Bearfuckers, she thought, and bristled at the memory.

If Hideto was one of Yuki’s daggers, Ji Yoon thought, then it was entirely possible that she’d met him during her time at the territory court and simply not realized it. She’d been mostly concerned with healer business and her own family at the time - her younger brother and her depressive father. Still, she tried to recall… had there been a man there in those days who looked like Akira? Or maybe Hideto didn’t resemble his brother at all? Twins could go either way, and Akira hadn’t specified the way Ji Yoon had. And besides, no one at that court had looked like Akira.

“My brother Haneul serves in Yuki-sama’s court,” she said, and felt a little protective of her brother’s interest in the Healer Queen. Yuki, she knew, had that effect on people - everyone who knew her loved her. But perhaps she ought to act soon if she was going to secure Haneul’s place by his Queen’s side…? At least Hideto sounded traditional enough that he wouldn’t recognize any matches made for him by Toyani. “He’s trained as a Healer’s Escort. I’m sure I’d remember if I’d ever crossed paths with Hideto…”

Or, perhaps, she’d gone out of her way to avoid him? Now that she really considered it, that seemed correct. She’d still hated the Kagen then.

Did she still hate the Kagen now?

“My mother was a master blacksmith,” she said, unwilling to consider the thought further. “She made some of the finest swords and knives in all of Tacea. I never took to the craft at all, which I think she was always disappointed in… but Son Mi did. So she took over the forge, and I ran off and got married, and… after that, it was like we were the same but different ages. But I still wanted the best for her - and for all my siblings.”

But, she suspected, he’d been trying to tell her something about Toyani. Ji Yoon considered the task before her and wondered if what she aimed to accomplish - what Hinata had suggested she aim to accomplish - was even possible. Was Akira telling her that his loyalty to his siblings - all of them - would always win out? Or that there was something seriously wrong between him and his sister?

Ji Yoon didn’t feel comfortable asking about the matter right at the moment. For all that she thought she might be enjoying his company, whatever there was between them felt too fragile to bear that kind of weight.

“Yuki-sama believes the future of Tacea depends on the results of her expedition,” Ji Yoon asserted, perhaps too fiercely. Akira hadn’t criticized her friend, exactly. More he’d made the same kind of conjecture that she was certain was commonplace back home. “It’s true Ishiyo no Izayoi wouldn’t have been on the throne in the first place if she hadn’t gone, but... If Yuki-sama is correct in her belief, the same sort of destruction that befell Kaesong and Zhong could await the rest of the territory.”

He’d finally taken a bite. Ji Yoon relaxed and picked up her fork. ”As you come to know my father,” she said, drolly, and speared a piece of asparagus, “You will learn that his primary ambition in life is to retire someplace quiet and farm vegetables. My understanding is he intends to rule only long enough to investigate any potential foul play and leave the Dragon Throne beneath the rump of a suitable and well-vetted successor.”

She laughed shortly, pleased with herself.





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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #14 on: Jun 26, 18, 02:12:29 PM »
"Well, Yuki has a lot of devoted people around her. It's possible you didn't run into him, or if you did you just forgot. He's a much more boring version of me, after all." At that, the blonde-haired man with his subtle makeup flashed a grin and chomped into his meal. Making an 'mm' sound of mild appreciation and a soft shrug, he dug into the food with much more fervor than his initial unimpressed expression would have suggested.

He listened raptly as she spoke of her mother and then her sister who followed in her mother's footsteps. There was something about family legacies and how connected one was to it. It was strange to Akira that everyone got so wrapped up in following after their parents footsteps -- to him it had always felt like trying to live the same life a second time, or perhaps people were just too scared to blaze their own trail and had to follow a lead.

Idle thoughts, really, and not one that he wished to jump into aloud with someone who may have lost that sibling forever. Trying to say Son Mi had 'wasted her life' on following a path that led eventually to her (potential) death was not really a good conversation to be having when wanting to improve your relationship with your future spouse.

So he ate instead.

As he wolfed (heh) down his food, he gave a soft nod of acceptance of Yuki's stated purpose of leaving their home to the mainland. "Yeah my brother was telling me much the same as to why he was leaving to go with her. It makes sense, even if it threw things for a loop for the Territory. I can only imagine the mutterings going on among the Ariake when she abdicated her seat. I bet there's some people who are bitter as fuck back home."

Ji Yoon's description of her father brought a grin to Akira's face. "It's too bad, you have so many more gift opportunities now for Winsol now that he sits on the Dragon Throne. Think of all the pillows and blankets you can get, or frilly flower crowns and the like. It's a gold mine to try and find ways to make your old man laugh.

Though.."
Akira laughed a bit, himself. "He doesn't seem the type to indulge in a good chuckle from time to time from what I've seen so far."



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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #15 on: Jun 26, 18, 10:44:29 PM »
“Mmhm,” said Ji Yoon appraisingly, watching Akira preen over his differences from his brother. “Poor man. He must be plain as dry toast.”

But it begged the question - If you stripped away all of Akira’s makeup and cosmetic craft and fashionable mainland clothes, what would you be left with? Well, a naked man, for one thing - but for all the effort he put into being pretty, could he also be handsome?

A blush spread up Ji Yoon’s ears, and she dove into her salad.

When Akira spoke again, it was to further speculate on the matter of Yuki no Ariake’s abdication, and Ji Yoon looked up at him, fork slowly lowering. “It wasn’t a decision she took lightly,” she said, again feeling that protective instinct. She had not bonded hard and fast to Yuki the way Haneul had, but she still held the young Queen in tremendous esteem. “It’s true, there were those among the Ariake who were unhappy to pass on the throne when it had only just returned to their clan… but to anyone still harboring resentment, I would point to the sunken ruins of Kaesong. To the lava fields of Zhong. My home is beneath the ocean. And the Ariake would rather grouse about power than—“

She stopped herself, inhaling sharply. “I apologize, Akira. That was out of turn.”

To Ji Yoon, it felt as though the restaurant had just gone very quiet - but maybe that was her imagination.

“I usually just get him tea leaves,” she said, not sure how to recover from her outburst. “And he does laugh. I’ve seen him. Though it helps if you’re five years old… Iseul was best at it.”

She bit her lip. “My daughter,” Ji Yoon explained softly. “She’s dead. Not in the eruption. A long time ago. It doesn’t matter now.”

Very little mattered after more than half a century.





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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #16 on: Jun 30, 18, 12:31:42 PM »
"How can the moon compare to the sun?" Akira asked, a teasing grin playing on his features as he straightened up and gestured to himself. "From my light all other things shine." He spoke it as if it were a quote, but he'd not give proper identification as to where it was from. His tone had shifted from somber to light-hearted and even as they spoke of Yuki and her leaving Ito behind, he didn't seem to come back down to that level right away.

But then Ji Yoon got really passionate about the subject, her voice rising in temper and edge. Passion, again, that passion that he had seen so many times with her. Ji Yoon's anger was easily summoned, it seemed, or he just happened to touch the trigger for that anger very easily. He lowered his fork as she stopped herself, even as the restaurant had caught wind of their conversation. He'd had things he was going to say about Yuki, the throne, and the Ariake, but those comments had died when she brought up Kaesong and Zhong. She spoke of the dead, now. Her siblings had been among those killed in the eruptions that Yuki had left to investigate.

And then, she spoke of the dead again. Her daughter, this time. And just then as she explained, her eyes downcast for her food, he felt a great swell of pity. It wasn't that sort of demeaning pity that was distant. Instead it was focused entirely that this passionate woman had lost the people she had loved most, and that was a difficult realm to live in.

"If it matters to you, it matters." He said gently. "And I'm sure, if I work hard enough, I can find out what will make him laugh. I can act like a five year old at times, I'm told." His smile returned, soft and reassuring.

Thinking it best to push past this moment, vulnerable as it was, with a shiny new change of topic, he conjured forth a small box and placed it on the side of their food. "Here, I was going to give this later but it seems like now's as good a time as any. Your Dad told me to get you more practical things; so I got you some Geomeunkkae dasik and Yugwa that you can enjoy later." He nodded to the box, which inside held a container of each with assorted colors and flavors. While she looked, he took a bite and then set down his fork. "I also arranged for some herbs to get dropped off while we were having lunch. There's not many -- around like 10 or pots of the stuff from Tacea. Your dad suggested some healing herbs that grow there. Maybe you can get some to grow, or I can convince Toyani to plant some in Blackwater so we can get a crop."

Suddenly he wanted some wine, so he turned to the waitress when she passed by and asked for a Red and then turned back to Ji Yoon. "Yuki was right to go. I wasn't saying she was. Just.. saying that it's too bad she wasn't able to do both. She's a good Queen. Often the people who want the throne the least are the best people for it. Yuki cares more about Tacea's people than the title."

He paused long enough to take another bite, putting his hands together, he considered her again. "Do you like theater? Live concerts? I don't think I've asked, but have you heard the sort of music I do?"



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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #17 on: Jun 30, 18, 05:05:54 PM »
Ji Yoon smiled despite herself. Maybe she would tell him the whole story one day, or maybe she wouldn’t. It was a part of her life she’d left buried for years and years and years, the joy too harshly tempered by sorrow. But maybe it would someday be appropriate to exhume those memories. Take them out. Turn them around. Like precious baubles to be set on a high shelf.

“I think,” she said, grinning behind a raised hand, “that sort of behavior is received far more positively when it comes from an actual child.”

Her eyes moved to the box then, drawn by the movement. Practical? she thought, lowering her hands. Surely he was joking - she recognized the seal of the bakery. Seung must have mentioned her favorites - but that showed he’d at least been thoughtful enough to ask. “You brought this all the way from Ito?” she asked, incredulous despite the evidence directly in front of her. The box sang with preservative craft beneath her fingertips. She opened the lid ever so slightly and could have sworn she got a whiff not of the sweets but of the shop itself - the dough-scented air, the bakers and cashiers shouting back and forth at each other.

She closed it tightly again and tucked it into her psychic cabinet for safe keeping. “Thank you,” she said, just in time for him to explain the other part of his gift. He’d certainly been… thorough in his generosity. “I appreciate all this tremendously. Some of them don’t take well to large-scale cultivation, but I’ll… I’ll see.”

Not that she actually saw herself trying to coordinate any kind of agricultural revolution with Toyani no Kagen, but… She was playing nice, and it seemed to be going well for her so far.

It occurred to her when he ordered a glass of wine that this was turning into a longer lunch than she’d planned. Trying to hurry things along was unlikely to go unnoticed, and he’d turned the subject briefly back to politics. Ji Yoon debated saying something about his sister and trying to get a handle on Toyani’s aspirations… but what would that accomplish right now, besides ruin what was otherwise a nice time?

So, she held her tongue and let the subject change once more. “Only when you’ve attempted to serenade me from beneath my window,” Ji Yoon replied, smiling wryly - though his question did remind her of something she’d been putting off. “I have a pair of tickets to that theater troupe here in Bidea, the Tantalus?” she asked. “Good whenever. We could make an evening of it…”

The advantage of going on a date at a theater, she thought, was that you didn’t have to talk for two hours and then you had a built-in icebreaker to discuss afterwards. The plans practically made themselves.

When at last their plates were cleared away and the check was settled, Ji Yoon got to her feet. “Well,” she said, stepping close to press a kiss to his cheek. “This has been lovely, actually.”





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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #18 on: Jun 30, 18, 05:39:07 PM »
"Always was told if you wanna marry a lady, you gotta treat her right." Akira chirped up with a touch of ego at her appreciation of his gifts. Yes, they'd practically been written down for him by Seung Corro -- but he had done it, alright?

She mentioned that she'd only heard his music from that off-romantic gesture last time they'd met and his lips peeled back into a wide grin. "Ah, that's nothin'. Not my usual act. That one had been special for you." He breathed a little laugh, knowing it wasn't well received, and he leaned a bit closer to her then, his elbows propping him up on the table to get a touch closer to her. "I'll make sure the next one is music you like."

Her offer of tickets to a play made his pale eyebrows arch up in surprise. "Oh? Nice. Those aren't easy to get. I'm definitely down. I'll make sure to dress up for it." He grinned, and if there was some mischievousness in him that was, perhaps, trying to get under her skin a bit, he wouldn't deny it.

He lingered with his glass of wine after everything was finished. He'd proposed they split the check and she had answered with a half-curious 'okay, sure?' which she then amended to suggest that, in fact, she should be paying since she asked him out. That brought out a sudden grin from him. "Oh, right! This is the apology meal." And true to her word, she got up and planted a kiss on his cheek as he also rose to his feet.

Grinning even wider, his voice took on a playful mien - the Cheshire Cat in him unable to stop from grinning. "Awww, look at you, holding out on me.

I bet you never kissed a man who wore lipstick before."
He shot her a wink and gestured for her to lead to the door so he could escort her out. "Adventures await."


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Re: The Marrying Kind
« Reply #19 on: Jun 30, 18, 09:20:26 PM »
Akira seemed keen to push his luck, but Ji Yoon wasn’t going to let him get a rise out of her today. After all, her father had encouraged her to make the best of this (for Tacea’s sake!) - and she was nothing if not her father’s daughter. He would not need to chastise her for undoing all his dealmaking, only for improving it if she was given the chance. “We have time,” she reminded him about the kiss. “I’m not the sort of girl you only have a single night to woo, Lord Kagen.”

If his reputation as a playboy was based in anything resembling fact, she was certain he’d had plenty of those. But now was the time to break him of those old habits. Both their lives were on the verge of changing, and she thought it would probably be more advantageous than not to convince him of the benefits of being faithful.

Mostly faithful, she conceded to herself. One couldn’t expect a tiger to change its stripes, and Ji Yoon head heard he had certain tastes she couldn’t hope to fulfill.

She’d make this work.

“I can’t say I have,” she said, though to be fair, she had kissed a limited number of men. He’d probably kissed more. “You’ll just have to be dolled up enough for the both of us.” She enjoyed fashion, but cosmetics were more trouble than they were worth on workdays. A night at the theater, however…

She took his arm. “Indeed they do,” she agreed. “Please. Lead the way.”