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Canon: © Anne Bishop
Board's Plot: Blood Rites
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Pruul / Re: The art of pruning: to move forward you must let go
« Last post by Aahad al-Situla on Today at 03:55:41 AM »
The acknowledgement came over Aahad like a heat wave. The sight of her with his senses turned those jagged edges, bitten with frost cold to the point of burning. He bit back a curse as Fire grew inside her while the Air of her soul diminished. One down. Two to go. He had to be careful to guide her the right way. The detrius of the Hammam sloughing off of her like mud from her skin but the body remained rippled with fear.

Elenor needing grounding. Some form of firmament. Earth. It was the most important of the energies of the soul. That of resilience, of courage. Practicality. Most importantly for her: Prudence. The anchor the soul needed to remain grounded as everything else shifted around it.

Compassion and Destruction, like coiled rope, appeared in her consciousness. They appeared as strands to which looking at them recalled feelings and thoughts of times past. The things that brought warmth, or when she gave it were found in one. The other, the reckless abandonment of open destruction. The thrill of unbridled anger. When compassion turned to stone and destruction melted away to emptiness leaving nothing behind but the empty void, Aahad's voice could be heard now farther away as she sank deeper into herself.

*There is no conflict.* The echo came to her. *Compassion tempers our urges. To maim or to kill or to harm. Our primal nature makes us aware, and tempers our compassion so as not to be weak. To feel trapped in-between will make one lose themselves forever in the struggle. You see them as enemies. Let me show you another way.*

The strands returned. Compassion and anger that were made of thoughts and sights and sounds that evoked those feelings more than having a form. This time however they did not touch. Like a mobius strip, the two conflicting natures were separated by thin translucent strands. Looking upon them evoked the same feeling as when Elenor was in the steam room. A brief moment of pause, to collect herself, the chance to look to the way of compassion or anger. The feeling of light restraint when anger overwhelms you keeping you from the edge of the cliff and flinging yourself into it's embrace. The same that keeps you from being vulnerable. A skepticism that kept the heart from being so easily wounded. A proctectiveness. Yet throughout it all, staring into the center strands...there was no one or the other. They were both there but after thoughts. Like how anger can appear phantasmal when one is not angry or how compassion only emerges when the heart calls to it. Otherwise one is simply friendly.

*Accept them as part of yourself. Reconcile the conflict and see where it takes you. Have no fear. Your soul will never betray you.*
Tacea / Re: young love, young dear
« Last post by Yumi no Kagen on Today at 03:50:07 AM »
Yumi smiled easily at Ryuuen. Even in the saddest moments, her grandmother's brilliant males always knew what to say. They might not all give her the physical contact she sometimes needed to recenter herself. Still, each of the seven geisha bound to her grandmother had their own ways of interacting with her Queenly granddaughter. Growing up with Hinata as her role model and the seven daggers her best templates for how her future males should act, she well understood the purpose of men in a Court, how easily they could pull her back from blinding anger or crippling sadness. Ryuuen's hugs, his familiar scent, did more to ground herself than the distraction of her face in the mirror.

"Of course," she said, "I suppose there's something to be said for Grandmother and I living in the same place, for the moment." Hinata would be returning to the Territory Court, probably, to oversee the Interregnum. It rankled that her poor grandmother should be pulled back into service, just as it bothered her that there was a male in a seat that ought to be a Queen's. She did understand the reasoning, but she didn't want it to be happening. Ishiyo no Izayoi had failed not only her people but the whole of Tacea. At least the Queen had had the good sense to run.

She turned her attention back to the basket, which was now occasionally growling and lurching as Ryuuen picked it back up. "From Naoji-kun?" Her heart jumped in her chest, up into her throat. If it was from Naoji, certainly it was something wonderful; she knew now it was something alive, from the way the basket trembled. She accepted the basket, settling it down in her lap as she sat at the vanity again. Carefully, she loosened the lid and placed it on the floor. Then she looked at her gift.

It was a tiny white shiba puppy. Yumi gasped, delighted by the carefully groomed little creature and its tiny bark; very carefully, she slipped her hands around it and lifted it--no, him!--up. It was easy to see how enchanted she was, her dark eyes practically full of stars as she ran her fingertips over the puppy's ears and cradled him to her chest. "He's beautiful, Ryuuen!" And so squirmy! Yumi slid off the chair to set her new puppy down on the floor, cooing as the little white shiba took a few steps forward, cautious in its investigations. "Does he have a name?" Surely Naoji would have picked a beautiful one... or perhaps Yumi was meant to? She puffed out her cheeks as she watched the puppy toddle about.
Tacea / Re: Five for sapphire, six for red
« Last post by Hinata no Kagen on Today at 03:24:44 AM »
"Perfect. I'll take a look at everything more thoroughly when I receive them, then." That seemed to be the end of that, at least for the moment. The notion of ambassadors still weighed on her mind insofar that she was potentially going over the mental list of all her grandchildren who might be eligible for such a job.

Her children had all either taken up court service or were all well-occupied in some other manner, but their children all hadn't quite taken up paths in life yet. Some too young, of course, others she knew would be highly disinterested or had other obligations already. But there were a few off the top of her head who she figured she may opt to casually suggest such a calling to. As per her argument with her niece, she wasn't prone to demanding they do anything, but a nudge in a direction didn't hurt anyone.

"I have no doubt that Zhihao will happily accept the job offer. I daresay if there's anyone who is surely the least incensed about my increase in court activity yet again, it's him," she remarked with a smile regarding the mention of the Prince. He had literally not ceased his work on keeping an eye out and ears to the ground on anything she needed from the beginning of her rule as Dragon Mother to even the present. So she could only fathom that this new opportunity would be something her Dagger would delight in.

"A census?" Not repeated for clarification, but more for emphasis. It certainly wasn't a bad idea, and she scowled at the idea of Ishiyo having turned it down. Obviously an excuse from a Queen who simply just couldn't be bothered. There had always been room in the budget for such miscellaneous expenses - she knew because Satomi kept the most meticulous track of things and managed to somehow pull funds out of seemingly thin air sometimes.

Seung's hesitation and the additional reason that followed caused Hinata's expression to soften more than a little and she nodded in understanding. "Not selfish at all. You have suffered many losses of your children, and the hope that those you have left survived that tragedy isn't something to cast aside. I think a census is a perfect idea for all the reasons presented. We can have Satomi help put it together as well as distribute it. Mother Night knows she'd jump at the chance to add to her projects."
Tacea / Re: The boldest measures are the safest
« Last post by Zhihao An on Today at 03:22:05 AM »
Zhihao noticed how little Seung ate of his dinner before setting the box aside, but said nothing. Perhaps the Warlord Prince would come back to it later. It was, after all, difficult to eat and focus on business at the same time. The spymaster set his own meal aside as well, not wanting to make Seung feel self-conscious, and picked up his teacup once more as he nodded along with his host's words.

"Of course I can do that," he said reassuringly. Assessing backgrounds was hardly different from assessing threats - which was perhaps why he'd taken Ishiyo no Izayoi's sudden snap so personally. He hadn't seen it coming. There was nothing in the profile he'd assembled on her to suggest she was even capable of such... such violence. Such madness. If something so glaring could slip past him - what other threats had he missed?

But Seung Corro hardly needed to hear his insecurities. Only his confidence. And though he was in the latter half of his life, An Zhihao was still very much in his prime.

"I am certain such a woman exists," he said, "Even if she is not a daughter of the four great clans." For he'd discussed as much with Hinata, and was certain Seung was on the same page as them both. "And I am certain we will find her."

He paused to take a long sip of his tea, appreciating the flavor. If he was not invited back to Seung's office, who could say if he would ever taste Tang pekoe again?

"Did you have anything else you wish to discuss, Prince?" he asked when he lowered the cup.
Tacea / Re: Five for sapphire, six for red
« Last post by Seung Corro on Today at 03:02:29 AM »
Of all the worries that Seung had about the Realm, Hayll was honestly not a large one. He understood that the Territory was large, that it had a great deal of imports and exports, that it could likely be the best trading partner for their finer silks and even some cultural items--but it was also across the Realm. Dena Nehele aristos would also buy silk, and again, Tacea did not hurt for money. He was sure there was a way to play both sides of the equation, Askavi and Hayll both, against each other, to keep Tacea from falling into the middle of a war again as it had before. And if Hayll did take exception to Tacea, what the fuck were they going to do from across the Realm?

"It will also give us adequate diplomatic pressure to secure freedom for Lady Ariake," said Seung. While that wasn't a long-term policy goal, neither of them wanted to be in service at the beginning of a war. This whole awkward situation was occurring because they didn't want to deal with a war. "Dena Nehele borders Shalador and Askavi both. Neither Territory holds with slavery. And as I've said, we have quite a bit to offer to either Territory, whether that is in services rendered or tradestuffs."

With the business concluded--at least this far--he closed his folders and stacked them back up neatly between them. "I've delivered copies for your perusal to your office," he said. "And Zhihao will have his, should he accept the offer of the position of Spymaster." They needed to appoint a foreign minister of some sort, someone who could collate and manage the diplomatic corps when the new Dragon Queen stepped up. It felt odd to be designing a Court for a Queen he didn't know; but there was a great need for stability and continuity when there had been so much upheaval in the past five years. Hinata to Yuki to Ishiyo and now to Seung Corro, and soon to another name after that.

He fell silent then, hands folded atop his folders of documents. Suddenly, aloud, he said, "I want to arrange for a census," which was relevant to nothing really. "We don't know who lived or died among the Hanwa and the Tang. I asked Ishiyo to permit it. She never did, said the budget wasn't there. But it will never be possible for our people to move on if we cannot produce a cohesive list of who is alive and who is dead... and..." He hesitated. "It is selfish. But if there is a census, I will finally know which of my daughters are still alive."
Pruul / Re: The art of pruning: to move forward you must let go
« Last post by Elenor al-Sabbah on Today at 02:57:41 AM »
Elenor squeezed her eyes shut but it did no good. The words, the questions, they were inside her, where they had always been. It made her skin crawl on the inside, her Self pull back from each invisible blow. They were all howling, teasing demons created to fight this descent into the Self, to keep Elenor from touching upon the pain deep at the heart of it all.

Who are you?

Who am I?

In stories when the protagonist looked into themselves wisdom popped up. Elenor waited, but none did, there was no easy revelation or poetic words drawn from a font of truth buried deep. There was, instead, an awkward voice saying, what answer does he want? What answer is right?

The questions kept pelting her like raindrops. Let go of her confusion? How, everything here was confusing and scary! She didn’t know enough not to be confused even though she had worked so hard to learn. Study, ask questions, memorize, learn, and all of it for nothing because it didn’t seem to matter how much information she acquired, there was always something missing, something she ought to...ought to know...and…

Her head throbbed and her chest ached, fingers flexing as if to reach for something no longer there as her chest constricted, a fond tightening around her and…


The inhale was sharp. Air filled her lungs and throat, diaphragm expanding to hold it, then contracting again as it left. Her heartbeat there, in her chest, in her Self. They matched at that point and that point only, it seemed. Elenor could feel the disconnect like the time one of her joints had slid out of place. Painful, jarring, wrong. Three pieces, all neglected in their way.

A body allowed to suffer and starve for food and touch and still be asked for more.

A mind expected to come up with answers to questions that had none.

A soul that had no grounding, no anchor or care put into why it was hurting.

The Heart was the only thing that bound the three. Flesh and Blood that powered Mind that housed Soul that gave purpose to Body. Solid, grounded, sure.

The heart had no questions, it knew, but were there words for the truths it held? They didn’t seem the sort of things that had words. They were too concrete and deep for words, and as she focused in on that feeling housed there, let it open and unfurl from long slumber…


The sheer intensity of it made her gasp, her chest aching as she felt the wave crash through her, out her parted lips and down her cheeks as tears.

Carried on that wave was…everything

Who are you?

Abaddon had given her part of that answer.

I am a Queen

Compassion hit her first. The compassion she had been forced to put away the first time she stared at a rabbit and snapped its neck so she could eat. Every living thing she touched that had sung to her over all the long years, calling for her, yearning for the touch of a woman who wasn’t just a guardian of the Land but a part of it. The pain there was of innocence lost. It was the sense of the harm done with her every deed began to be stacked for a reckoning that had never come on a scale that she could never hope to balance because of anger-

It hit her next, like fire racing over each of her nerves, setting them alight with that new pain, though it was cleansing. Fury, also visceral and innate just like the compassion had been, a part of her that was not name or memory but primordial instinct, a rabid, feral protectiveness and myopic short-sightedness. That too she had stuffed away, scared at what she had seen another Queen do with that rage. 

Those two conflicting emotions spiraled together within, light and dark, the desire to protect and the desire to destroy, neither given a target but rather just coiled together tighter and tighter until the compassion had turned to stone and the fury melted to sludge, neither able to be true to itself and to her.

“I’m me, there’s nothing more.”

That truth slipped out in another wave of tears. There was nothing more, just these broken, mismatched pieces that should have fit together so easily had each of them not been the anathema of each of the others. Except that wasn’t true, was it?

“I’m a body. I’m here. It’s just me and that scares me.”
Dena Nehele / Re: I've got a new complaint
« Last post by Ji Yoon Moon on Today at 02:42:54 AM »
"Every time I think these mainlanders have reached the bottom of their depravity, someone opens a trap door," remarked Ji Yoon, and the corner of her mouth quirked ever so slightly, a reflex she couldn't control. Garen L'Voide sounded like a real piece of work - she wondered if it was true that he was one of Riley's lovers. It seemed unbefitting of a queen to dirty her hands with someone so base, let alone dirty her bed. Lie with the hogs... she thought, and didn't finish the expression.

"Well," she said measuredly, watching Toyani. The Queen seemed to have eased on her attack, and Ji Yoon felt a small and inappropriate thrill of victory. "I have one piece of good news for you and that's that Yua wasn't allowed to set foot out of Tacea without having had her virgin night." It wasn't clear what Toyani thought of Seung Corro, but she wasn't about to let her think that he was a fool. "My brother Haneul performed it. He told me as much himself."

She knew the information did nothing to change Garen L'Voide's tendencies towards those in his possession, nothing to spare Yua the trauma of whatever he'd done to her, but hopefully it would be some small consolation - Yua no Ariake had been secure in her power long before she was taken into his.

"I hope for all our sakes that your negotiations are successful," she said, though she remained skeptical. A birthright Red healer would likely mean far more to Garen than any half-barren farmland Toyani could offer him from a district she herself had admitted was starved for Queensblood.

And staging a coup seemed risky for everyone involved.

"However," Ji Yoon continued, "in case you are not, I intend to trace the provenience of the sale until I find the forged document at its source. With any luck, military action won't be necessary."

But, she knew, playing the legal angle might not be enough to secure Yua's release. What good was the rule of law in a land where human beings were bought and sold like cattle?
Keep's Registry / Re: Virtuosa Illion
« Last post by Zen on Today at 02:27:45 AM »
1. Purchased a +35 Power Rank item to be applied to her Purple Dusk here.

2. Pending Dash's approval from a wanted standpoint, she's ready for review!
Points Scheme / Re: (April) Points Transactions
« Last post by Zen on Today at 02:25:50 AM »
Character Name: Virtuosa Illion
Player Name: Zen

Item Purchased: +35 Power Rank (for Descent)

Points Cost: 300
Tacea / Re: The boldest measures are the safest
« Last post by Seung Corro on Today at 02:24:37 AM »
Seung did notice Zhihao's appreciation of the tea. In truth, it wasn't really a fresh batch. The tea was well-preserved with stasis spells; he had bought the blend in bulk when the hibiscus had been the rarest part of it, as he did any tea that he favored. Who knew when it might suddenly vanish from the market? He was a thousand years old and his tastes didn't often change. He drank it sparingly, saving it for guests and friends who would appreciate it. Once, he'd had his own tea blend, but several components had been medicinal herbs from his own garden in Jaejong. Gone, now, like the fields and gardens of Zhong. It was a shame, since he would've liked to put a cup of the tea on his family altar for the spirit of Jang Hye. So much had been lost when Jaejong sank. Remembering it, Seung's shoulders slumped, but he didn't speak on the matter of the tea. It was a personal sorrow.

"Thank you," said Seung, nodding his appreciation over his food. Now that business was at least partially taken care of, he turned his attention to the meal before him as he listened and ruminated on the Zhihao's answers to his questions. It was always wise to watch the Queens, for their protection if nothing else. True enough, the Queens were the dangerous ones. Had his mother not been a more terrifying warrior on a killing field than his poor dead father? But why force them to the edge of their tempers and risk another breakdown like Ishiyo's, or put them at risk for death or pain?

When he was done with his meal--for a Green Jeweled Warlord Prince, Seung often ate worryingly little--he set his chopsticks aside. "As candidate Queens make themselves known," he said, "I'd like it if you would vet them. We need Queens with solid backgrounds, no scandals, no skeletons in their winter storage. This Queen cannot be prone to abdication at the first sign of difficulty or to a psychotic break--solid. Steady. Reliable. If she is not all three of those things, then she cannot be trusted to set us aright." He made eye contact with Zhihao: in public, it would've been unacceptable forceful. In private, it was emphasis.

"If you're uncomfortable with that, now is the time to inform me, so I may turn to another spymaster."
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