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Dea al Mon / Re: Collecting Memory
« Last post by Thorn Zalishevin on Today at 06:35:21 AM »
Thorn slept near the rest of a woman floating around that type of exhaustion that only came from the wonderous endurance of a Warlord Prince's Rut, and a Dark Jewelled one at that. She thought she dreamed of Valor's hands sliding over her body, and sighed at the beauty of her dreams. She arched easily toward his every touch. At least a half an hour passed before she registered that the passionate man had said something to her at one point, indicating a return to sanity. She opened only one eye to look at him and giggled like a youth before turning back over and half-sleeping for a good ten minutes more while her fingers toyed with whatever part of his hand, arm, or leg she could touch.

She turned back over, stretched, and winced, though a huge grin was quick to follow the soft sound.

"Well. You were thorough," Thorn noted with a low offer of actual speech before easing herself up on the pillows, which had found themselves halfway across the room before she crooked a finger and gently used Craft to float them to her hands and behind her head. This predictably made her laugh again.

"Come here, please," she murmured with a half growl then proceeded to massage every ache from the Warlord Prince that she could get to for a little while though being careful not to overdo it before she slid herself up under Valor's arm to cuddle very, very carefully. With her head resting as softly upon his shoulder as she could manage, she cupped her hands together while a tiny blue Memory Crystal was called from her storage.

Funny enough, the Black Widow had never, ever considered helping ease Valor's fears in such fashion, though in fairness it was damned intimate. She blew out a soft shudder of a breath before rolling her shoulders. The heaviness of her Red Jewel was a pulse in the air around them both. Focusing on such an erotic set of memories only made desire rise that she hadn't really the physical ability to do anything about, though being so close to Valor really truly did assist her focus. From the moment just before she had sensed his focus slipping, and he had been unable to hear what she said to the last delirious thrust before she'd curled up and slept. While there were certainly blank points where she'd experienced so much pleasure that she had blacked out, and thus, there was a gentle skip of time in the Crystal, Thorn caught as much coherent memory as possible. Even when he'd speared her as though it had been hate between them, the Black Widow'd caught every second of the Warlord Prince in one of his truest states of perfection, her own love and delight almost palpable from the memory alone. Though the Craft drained her Red at a fair rate, it had been worth the effort. She carefully shielded the priceless item against damage that couldn't typically be accounted for, then turned to Valor.

"For you," she murmured, aware suddenly of a tightness in her throat as if she were close to crying. "I know you have never understood why ... just why I love even this side of you so much. I wanted ..." she frowned, lower lip trembling. Thorn called forth a delicate silver chain and pushed the Memory Crystal on it.

"I ... do not want you to forget where I belong, either. Not ever."

Thorn held out the chain with trembling hands to Valor; she felt on fire everywhere, allowing an emotional closeness like this. "Take a look, please. Remember the words I said to you."
Little Terreille / Re: the me that you know
« Last post by Algernon Breckenridge on Today at 05:41:02 AM »
There was a moment Breck almost allowed himself to be lost in Hayden's kind, compassionate gaze. If only the answer to her question regarding a Queen had been that easy, but no. He was not a man who had been so blessed. The careful squeeze of his forearm from her was what had brought him back out of his memories. He chuckled softly at her reassurance, lips twitching upward that she'd care so much. Really. Not only had he felt comfortable talking to Hayden about concerns and worries that only mattered enough in his own thoughts as the people involved were either long dead, or fairly recently dead (he'd made sure of that, and more than once), but particularly Breck had felt at ease with the presence of his emotion visible where she (or anyone) could see.

Lightly, he stroked a very platonic graze of a hand down Hayden's cheek and ruffled the woman's hair just a little. "No, I have not met my Queen, not at all. But ... I have seen men die without having found one. So there are times that I wonder." Azure-gold eyes flickered with a wry amusement then grinned, laughter in his expression as it was plain enough that topic, at least for this day and this specific time, was a closed one. He was not looking to cause Hayden more melancholy ache from his personal musings.

“As to the matter of your closet," he remarked with a sly, sharp grin that was encouraging, cocky, and more than half humour, when in reality all Amerys would have to do was give him a look and he'd give in and leave the ladies to their dressing without him, but not without a few excellent tips, perhaps. "A sleek black dress with trousers and good pockets enhanced with Craft not to rip or stain, equipped with good shielding as part of the fabric? You might be amazed at what I could put together," he cajoled. "Simple, elegant lines."

"Clothes should make you feel more comfortable in your skin, I have always thought." Another seemingly tense moment between them caused his heart to feel as though it constricted in the chest, and it was difficult to read if this was only something he felt. It took effort not to look at her mouth, as he knew he'd be lost. Breck counted to ten thousand and breathed relief in his self-control that had barely held. But then it passed and for a moment he felt closer to Hayden than a tumble in his bed could possibly have given at that point.

Her easing close to hug him, however, caused the chatty Prince to return to that floating, precise silence. Breck was careful not to allow too much skin contact at such a range for both their sakes, but mostly his own control. Again, he allowed his forehead to fall against Hayden's cheek, but he'd be damned if he didn't drink the contact in more than they had that whole bottle of alcohol so far and then some. The extremely repressed shudder from him and the rumble of sound low in his chest made perfectly clear that she was well more than welcome to touch him, even still. He found himself stroking his nails through her hair, his presence that perfect, beautifully intimate manner the Blood possessed that had nothing to do with sex and everything to do with deep comfort and closeness. He was suddenly aware just how very little of late he'd had the time for simple touch.   

Eyes closing and remaining so, the Prince laid one hand against the middle of her back, perfectly Protocol correct, never stepping outside of bounds. "I do dance, yes ... but while I can handle all the Courtly business, I do prefer a little more of a modern get down, if you know what I mean," he explained with a deep laugh, only aware that his hand was still moving in Hayden's hair because it was so soft. He'd found just that right moment with her, now finding himself floating in delight. It made the hole in his heart go absolutely silent.

The words spilled out before he could think it through.

"Stay, please? Just to sleep. I don't ... want you to leave. You have trusted me with this, a piece of you, your incredible trust. I understand if you cannot, but I felt compelled to ask." Then he hugged Hayden for real, firm and full as if he would never let her go, in her friendship and tenderness.

"Whether you stay or not, do not you worry whether you will have someone a century or even five from now. I'll be here," he reminded with a fond, reassuring rumble.
Announcements / Re: June CotM & TotM Nominations
« Last post by Rated Em on Jun 20, 18, 11:39:29 PM »
Thread title: Eyes in the muted dark
Thread link:
Reason: It's been a long time coming that the truth of Yua no Ariake's kidnapping and collaring within the slave pits of Raej. Here we see the truth come to light, the horribleness of the situation and the depravity that some will sink to for coin and to avoid having their own throats slit. The dialogue and candor in this thread is amazing, the exchanges between Liam and Hanuel, and it's always a good thread when you get to see a Gray Jewel show you exactly why you should not anger them.
Graphics Claim / Re: Graphics Claims
« Last post by Rated Em on Jun 20, 18, 11:19:43 PM »
Code: [Select]
[b]Arthur Gosse[/b];; claimed by Rated Em, June 20
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[b]Choi Seung-hyon (TOP)[/b];; claimed by Rated Em, June 20
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[b]Daniel Liu[/b];; claimed by Rated Em, June 20
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[b]Eddie Redmayne[/b];; claimed by Rated Em, June 20
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[b]Janis Danner[/b];; claimed by Rated Em, June 20
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[b]John Boyega[/b];; claimed by Rated Em, June 20
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[b]Paul Bettany[/b];; claimed by Rated Em, June 20
(releasing domhall gleeson; sofia boutella is released to reidbro as seen in his above post <3.)
Graphics Claim / Re: Graphics Claims
« Last post by Reid on Jun 20, 18, 11:17:35 PM »
Releasing Ellen Wong, I used someone else for that character

Code: [Select]
[b]Bae Suzy[/b];; claimed by Reid, June 20
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[b]Godfrey Gao[/b];; claimed by Reid, June 20
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[b]Kacey Rohl[/b];; claimed by Reid, June 20
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[b]Ken Watanabe[/b];; claimed by Reid, June 20
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[b]Luke Pasqualino[/b];; claimed by Reid, June 20
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[b]Nastya Kusakina[/b];; claimed by Reid, June 20
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[b]Sofia Boutella[/b];; claimed by Reid, June 20
And Em is releasing Sofia Boutella to my loving arms
Raej / Re: Eyes in the muted dark
« Last post by Haneul Mhin on Jun 20, 18, 10:31:51 PM »
Trigger warning: descriptive violence/torture

With no other options--and apparently, no illusions about the Lady al-Kaid--Ama Ea-Nasir showed the pair of them into the low sandstone building behind her. Haneul shielded himself and Lord Noor to stave off any surprises. He trusted his own psychic shields to keep Lady Ea-Nasir on her own and isolated, but they were on her playing field right now. She could lead them anywhere she liked, and he didn't intend to risk himself or his escort. They stopped in a high-ceilinged cell. "Ain't no one to come back here," said Ama. "On account of the smell."

It hit Haneul like a wall of bricks: suffering. Yua's fear clung to the bricks. He could feel how they'd tried to scrub it away, the aftertaste of failed hearth-Craft. His certitude shuddered for a moment, the realization of how afraid his friend had been. There was the old taste of blood at the back of his throat and he clenched his hands at his sides. He wasn't going to give in to his base instincts. It wasn't the way he'd been taught. Seung Corro would never have given in to the urge to strike a woman in anger. Kill one on the battlefield, yes, spar with one in the training yard, yes. But strike one? Never.

Haneul was not his father.

He backhanded the woman. The sound, flesh into flesh, cracked across the stones. So loud! It echoed inside his skull. Mother Night, it'd been easy to set aside the suffering of the market. He didn't know these people. He didn't know any of them from Ungyeo. But Yua was familiar to him, was his, and he was a Gray Jeweled Prince and that came with possessiveness. The number of people willing to put up with a man who wanted to sleep the day away, who appeared to have no interests, was an incredibly small one. Yua was one of very few people who put up with Haneul and she deserved better than this awful, tiny cell with its high window and filthy floor.

While Ama Ea-Nasir pushed herself back onto her hands and knees, Haneul Craft-locked the door at the end of the hallway, shielded the space with every single kind of Craft he knew. Then he called in a memory crystal and activated the spells woven into it.

"How did Prince Adelphos know about the Healer," asked Haneul.

Ama, to her credit, didn't snivel. She pressed a hand wreathed in a cold spell against her cheek. "Hard to miss, innit she? With that Ebon Gray Queen an' all, who could miss that mob. Ain't nobody seen Taceans in two centuries." Haneul's clenched fist jerked back, and she quickly elaborated: "Night Mother! He's got friends what tell him all about those comins and goins, since he got that Queen a his. Hundred Families got plenty of marks to pay wharf rats for news."

That Queen of his? Haneul could ask later. For now there was more to do. "Did he know about her Jewel?" Ama shook her head. "Aloud, Lady, I'm not recording visuals--thank you--now, how the hell did a Dena Nehelean get involved?"

"Short-lived move more easily with other short-lived, even outta their own Territories. An' the Dena Nehele Guilds are cutthroat. Do anything for money. Enough marks, used to be they'd kill a Queen."

He wished she'd mouth off again. The violence that had led him to strike her was still there, and he was containing it, but he didn't want to be. Haneul wanted to pound his fist into her face until it caved in, wanted to make her swallow her own blood and fragments of her own teeth. His hands ached from how tightly he'd balled them into fists. "Did you arrange the contract?"

Ama shook her head emphatically. "Prince's got men for that."

"Tell me about the Guildsmen."

"I do that, she'll come after me too," said Ama, so Haneul--quick as one of his sisters snagging the last rice bun--stomped on her hand where it rested on the floor, grinding his heel into the fine bones. She screeched until he lifted his heel. "I didn't see her clear! Hells! Couldn't get a read on her scent. My Masudah handled all that." Her pain and fear was drowning out Yua's psychic scent, the remaining fear and anger and humiliation. "Mercy, Prince, I only did what I had to do!"

Taceans went hundreds of thousands of years without slavery and got by fine, thought Haneul. "Who handled the contract? Did you have any further contact?"

She didn't know about the contracts. Prince Adelphos had come looking for the Healer and been irate for the mistake. For every question Haneul asked, for every scrap of pain he inflicted, she had an unsatisfying answer or no answer at all, a scream and a cry of Mercy, Prince. He kept at it, dogged, rewording each question until he was sure she was keeping nothing back, breaking fingers and wrists if he had to. No one came looking for her. No one walked down the long hallway. How alone had Yua been as she waited here? How afraid? All that time... Maybe they could've reached across the space between Kemet and Tikal and gotten somewhere. Maybe they couldn't have. Would they have been able to find a single Red Healer in all of Terreille?

It was too late for regrets.

"Last question," he said. "What Queen?"

The witch cringed back from him. "That Tacean girl. The Sapphire. Something Kordo. My Ong? Myang?"

A chill ran down Haneul's spine. "Myung Hye Korro," he said. The witch nodded, emphatically, and scrabbled back as the temperature dropped. Her blood frosted over where it had splattered on the floor, and then froze glossy-dark. "Tell me..." Mother Night, it was all so clear now. He could feel the individual hairs on the backs of his arms standing at attention. The caress of the chilly air reminded him of the sea-spray of the shore near his mother's house. Myung Hye showing him how to use his Green. Passing him books and scrolls of poetry when his mother wasn't watching. Waking up with a quilt thrown over him and a note: Remember to eat. "Is she collared, too?"

"He worships her," she blubbered, her back hitting the wall. "She's an outsider an' he don't want her taken away. So he claimed her. The Prince loves 'er like a goddess--"

It was too much. Haneul pressed his palms into his temples, a sound not unlike a whetstone scraping a blade clawing out of his clenched teeth. Yua and Myung Hye. He'd failed both of them! They were both trapped by those fucking collars, this fucking perverted place, this monstrous hellhole of a Territory! Damn Yuki for opening the borders. Damn his father for letting Myung Hye leave! Yua, for being so credulous, for trusting anyone from outside their Territory, all of these monsters pretending to be human beings, and him too, for letting them all go.

The Gray leapt to his hand like a housecat to its favorite perch. His power whipped about an outstretched hand. "You promised," wailed Ama. Her voice scraped, unwelcome, against his eardrums.

So he ripped her tongue out.

He didn't bother cauterizing the wound. At some point she'd passed out. Blood pooled around her head, which looked... odd... for some reason, but he couldn't even fucking properly see it. He couldn't even cry; he was too cold to form the tears. Haneul snatched up the recording crystal and vanished it away. "Damn them," he croaked. It wasn't enough. He needed more, needed to rip something apart as it screamed. But he'd made a promise that she would have a chance. He took down the shields, and--finally--threw the meat in his hand on the floor, where it landed with a bloody splat.

At least he couldn't smell Yua's fear anymore. "Lord Noor," he said, "I hope I haven't superseded your brief." His sister. His friend. But now he had proof that Yua had been illegally sold. Was that enough?
Tacea / Re: Green as sun-drenched grass
« Last post by Zhihao An on Jun 20, 18, 10:20:57 PM »
Xiong’s words quelled the unease in Zhihao’s gut. The importance of whether Xiong’s assumption was correct or delusional was lessened by her recognition of their present circumstances. Her reasoning showed a keen sense of judgment - a trait he would certainly consider in his report to the Regent. “Though the Tang’s ways are not my own, I understand your meaning perfectly,” he said, pleased with the irony. Let it not be said that Zhihao didn’t enjoy undercover work.

“You are a wise queen to recognize that what your people need may be different from what they want, Lady Teng,” he said placidly, watching her rise. The distinction was one all good rulers needed to make - just as all parents ought to. Just as the child would reach for the glowing coals inside the stove, the populace would reach for what it shouldn’t have. Sometimes a Queen’s job was redirection. “We have all arrived at a time of reform and seeing our traditions in a new light.”

He rose, returning her bow. “Thank you again for meeting with me,” he assured her. “I will make my reports as you have requested. Please focus on your recovery.”

He watched her go, her gait a bit off but under her own power. The interregnum would have to continue without a plan of succession, for while Xiong Teng was certainly the most suitable candidate he’d seen yet, she was hardly ready to take the throne, and no one knew it better than she did. Perhaps, in time, a more immediately available candidate would be found - he still had plenty of Queens to interview, commoners and off-branch alike, but Zhihao worried his own bias would steer his recommendation in the end.

And if it did, and if she was ready - would that be such a bad thing?
Pruul / Re: To Calm A Prince, We Insist
« Last post by Lucky al-Izar on Jun 20, 18, 10:18:51 PM »
“No, don’t hit like a little pussy. Form your fist like this, otherwise you will break your hand.” Lucky al-Izar took the small fingers of the child he was instructing and repositioned his thumb. “Now, when you make solid contact with flesh, you’ll hurt them and not yourself.” The child looked up at the Warlord Prince with large eyes, his tattered shirt and shorts gently swaying in the light wind. He repositioned his thumb like he was taught and lunged at his opponent, another street rat from Onn. The other boy pivoted, stuck out his foot, and tripped the determined fighter, using Craft to flick sand up and into his eyes.

“Hey!” The first child cried. “That wasn’t fair. That’s not how you fight!” Lucky picked the boy up by the scruff of his dirty shirt, raising him up to his eye level. The boy stilled instantly, afraid as the Eyrien’s wings twitched. “There is not fair in fighting. There are no dirty tricks. There is just winning. Honor in fighting gets you dead. Remember that.” He dropped the boy as Ennead called for him. Turning easily, his wings folding behind his back, the smile that usually greeted his friend slipped away. His eyes narrowed and the children scattered as the air grew sticky and warm. Lucky clenched his teeth and rolled his shoulders lazily, stalking forward like the predator he was.

How stupid of the Bali Queen to come here with only Ennead to guard her. He was a fierce Warlord Prince and Lucky loved him. It would pain the Mineborn to end his life greatly.

But he would. If need be. Lucky didn’t know what need might call for that, but his wants certainly did. Without this witch his brother would not have left them. His family would still be intact. Everything would be as it should be. That was more than enough to make him want to rip her head from her shoulders, but he has been blessed recently.

Or perhaps burdened. So the need was not there. If he killed the Bali Queen the future he envisioned for his territory and his family would crumble. A real shame. He hated most Queens and he would have enjoyed the blood running through his fingers like water. Growing up was such little fun.

So instead he snarled once at the children peeking out from around the practice equipment and they scattered off for good, leaving them alone. Then, he smiled, his white teeth vicious against his skin. “Ennead. How good to see you.” He paused. “Lady.” A curt bow accompanied his single word, Protocol perfect. “It isn’t wise to travel with so few guards. You never know when something could stab you in the back.” 

Like Omid had.
Dena Nehele / Re: The Marrying Kind
« Last post by Ji Yoon Moon 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.”
Keep's Registry / Re: Shizuri Yukimura
« Last post by Myst on Jun 20, 18, 09:38:45 PM »
Ready for review again
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