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Board's Plot: Blood Rites
Points Scheme: Mother Night
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Keep's Registry / Re: Briseis d'Griseo
« Last post by Sol on Nov 13, 19, 02:06:07 PM »
Good with mentions of Daedalus, as her new owner, and other Hayll information.

Dena Nehele / Re: Searching for a precedent
« Last post by Jeremiah Mercer on Nov 13, 19, 01:56:41 PM »
With the letter sent, the matter of diplomats being finalized, they had nothing left to do but await the response of the Dragon Queen of Tacea. Much like Sorinna, the Black Widow Warlord Prince had refined his knowledge of Tacea--picking the brain of Xiaowen no Ureshi-sa in particular--and to reaffirm that which he already knew.

It did not ease his concerns but Jeremiah had faith that if something was truly going to go wrong Claudia would have said something (or he might have sensed something but his skill was not nearly as on point as hers). As much as letting people fall flat on their faces might be tempting, the Sapphire-Jeweled Black Widow would not jeopardize Riley's Court like that. If it was Jeremiah on his own ... That was a different story because she knew the best way for him to learn was often the hard way.

The real problem--while awaiting the arrival of Lady Teng's response--was making sure that Riley did not incite the wrath of an Ebon-Gray Hearth Witch. Codrin was growing steadily, cute as he could be, and healthy. Riley was the one with the problem where she could barely let him out of her sight. That they had managed to get her to do so long enough for the arrival and welcome meal of Sora's potential suitor was nothing short of a true blessing from Mother Night.

With the arrival of Prince Hanaki Hisakawa, Jeremiah acknowledged two things. The first was that while Jeremiah never particularly paid attention to such things, it would have taken a blind man to miss the reaction that many have to the beauty that was the Prince. The second was that Mother Night had made her own decision when it came to the pair because Prince Hisakawa belonged to Sora. Knowing that Riley recognized it--especially as she vibrated in her seat--he whispered gently along Rose fo her.

It was later, knowing that she had reached for Aleia again, that he let out a small huff of breath. Whatever she replied, said Jeremiah, she will most certainly make good on. Just because he did not know what was said did not mean he was not aware of its truth. We have spared our Territory the wrath of one Ebon-Gray. Let us not incite one that much closer to home. Despite the potential sting of such a remark, it was meant with love.

Working with Drake to keep Riley on point meant that he was not as aware of the emotions of those around him as he would have liked. It was only as Sebastian took the letter that he was finally able to pinpoint the nervousness of the Prince. Sora looked antsy as well but that was likely more to do with the fact that Prince Hisakawa was hers and she wished to ease his distress.

A snort escaped as Sebastian finished reading, Jeremiah in agreement with his conclusion. "She's not of the Four Clans," said Jeremiah, "and so her phrasing is more different but," the corner of his mouth curved upward in sardonic amusement, "we knew that she would not be happy." With a flick of craft, Jeremiah slid the letter forward to glance at it once more.

Did anyone else realize that the Lady Teng had called Sorinna a she-bear? It was fitting, all things considered.

He smiled at Sora being happy for the Prince's presence--certainly, another Bonded was a boon--but the rest of the letter's contents ... "I've no doubt that they've dealt with Yuina no Ariake." A glance when to the Prince. "Can you tell me how long ago did they do so, Prince Hisakawa?" He waited a moment for that answer, somewhat pleased to hear it as it eased the lack of dull jewels. Their reaction to the revealed treachery was appeasing in of itself.

"We would not only be getting a Queen but a mind healer as well," said Jeremiah, as Sora spoke of accepting. "Both of those things together would be far more beneficial to our territory than the satisfaction of holding the dull jewels of someone who attacked our Court. We hurt for both of those things, after all."

... because we let them bring it up within their own time, Ryllis, replied Jeremiah, cutting a glance towards her. He is already so nervous, I can't imagine this is easy. This time it was him reaching for her hand, fingers brushing along the inside of her wrist. With a thread of Rose open, it was easy to pick up her thought process. That and I believe a blood bond is expected when a male goes into a Court service to a Queen. Especially like this. Which meant that the Prince likely expected it even though he was already bound to Sora.

Don't do it, he added when he thought that Riley was considering reaching for Aleia once again.

"The offer is more than acceptable," said Jeremiah finally. "Though with that particular wording about the Queen ..." Queerly bright blue-green eyes fixed upon Prince Hisakawa. "Do you know which Queen she speaks of, Prince Hisakawa?" As the Black Widow Warlord Prince had a suspicion, a bit of instinct and intuition saying that while this was in their favor there was a purpose it served to Lady Teng as well.
Keep's Registry / Re: Briseis d'Griseo
« Last post by Reid on Nov 13, 19, 01:36:03 PM »
Once Sol signs off on her, Briseis is ready for review.
Dena Nehele / A Thousand Swords, Two Eyes
« Last post by Toshihiro no Ariake on Nov 13, 19, 01:31:34 PM »
Corruption and Vice
Suspect Shingetsu shipping
Tea House? Convenient.

Toshihiro finished writing those words and regarded them for a moment with a scowl.  It was not high art, it was barely art at all.  He had allowed the Territory he was visiting to cloud his thoughts. Dena Nehele was not Tacea, and that was really the kindest way the visiting swordsman could put it.  Some were certainly more interesting than others.  The Black Widow Queen, for example, and it was entirely probably that not every single one of them was a barbarian.  It was, however, exceptionally difficult not to see them as such.  Toshihiro might well be on a path to bucking tradition his poetry proved that.  He vanished the slip of paper for his own sake. 

At least this foreign Queen, fascinating as she might be, was not his Queen.  One of the many worries he had as he was forced to travel.  His appointment to Commander of the Thousand Swords had forced him to broaden his focus and his considerations.  He was Ariake through and through, but he now served more than the interests of his Clan.  He served all of Tacea, and he had sworn to his Regent that he would do exactly that.  He could put aside clan enmity, and even clan amity, but he could not completely ignore rumor and suspicions that had circulated for a time that dated back to before he was t one of the Commander’s of the Territory Guard.  Motive and opportunity were two solid ideas to build a case upon, and the Shingetsu had both, or at least they seemed to.

Toshihiro had heard of the Shingetsu in the Territory Court, as well as the only Tacean teahouse in the Territory.  It was interesting that a member of that particular Clan should find and make a home in Dena Nehele, which itself was conveniently placed for anyone shipping anything out of Tacea and beyond.  He was not here to poke around, but change was in the wind, and he thought that a visit to the tea house would not be out fo order.  Perhaps it would even serve the only good cup of tea in the Territory.  Thus far, outside of what he had brought along, the offerings had been adequate, but not much more than that.  If nothing else, he told himself, good tea.  He rode the winds to arrive in Bidea, landing at one of their pads, and presenting his documentation, before moving into the city.  He was, by his clothing alone, painfully Tacean.

He was dressed as was appropriate to his rank, with the mon of his house on one shoulder, and the mon of the thousands swords on the other.  Toshihiro bore the daisho, the two swords, one his Ariake blade, the other a smaller blade, often called a wakizashi in the ancient documents of his school.  There was a braided peace-knot on the Ariake-blade, easily severed with Craft, but symbolic of his intentions nonetheless, but there was no such knot on the shorter blade.  Toshihiro found the tea house easily enough, and stepped inside.  Once within, he removed his traditional wooden clogs, and left the proper coins for the equally traditional geta offered by the door.  He doubed anyone but a Tacean would have taken note of that.  He slid his fit into the slippers, placed his wooden clogs in a cubby, and entered the tea house proper.  At least the décor seemed correct.

Toshihiro moved to a vacant table, the ones that were Tacean style, low and surrounded by cushions, rather than high and surrounded by chairs.  He knelt upon one of the cushions, and waited to be noticed by the staff.
Glacia / Re: Like drawn to like
« Last post by Carmen Villendra on Nov 13, 19, 12:37:25 PM »
"That will be all, Lady Calderon," Carmen assured the younger Priestess, with a nod. "Thank you."

Marisol quietly left, and Ulric Lindgren stepped forward. Carmen gave a bright, warm smile in response to his greeting, and let her hands alight gently atop his. The lightly ruffled lines of her dress fluttered gently as she moved. The garment had been a concession of diplomacy; she far preferred the brighter and more festive colors so adored by the Dhemlanese people, but this was a somber time in Glacia. And in Carmen's experience, Glacians tended to enjoy more staid and understated tones even on a good day. This wasn't the time to indulge in her own preferences at the cost of seeming compassionate in this difficult time.

The way she returned his greeting was no less intentionally designed. There was a fine line between being welcoming and being too familiar, Carmen had made an art form out of making people feel like they were the only person in existence while they spoke with her. The subtle aura of calming Social Craft that wafted around her added to the effect, but most of it was just centuries of experience in dealing with people.

"Prince Lindgren," she greeted him, and the differences in their origins were clear. The precise, formal clip of the Glacian accent seemed all the moreso when contrasted to the rich, rolling purr and slightly elongated vowels of Carmen's Dhemlanese lilt. "It is a great honor to receive you. The High Steward must be a busy man indeed; I am once again humbled by the hospitality Glacia has shown us."

She released his hands and gestured to the couches arranged around the room.

"Please, make yourself comfortable. Would you like a refreshment?" she offered, waiting to see his response to determine whether she poured herself a drink or not. She'd match him in whatever his choice was, whether it was water, coffee, liquor, or sending a thread to summon food.

"The trip has been bittersweet. It is clear your Territory has suffered a grievous loss, but I cannot help but enjoy the culture and striking beauty of it, even while I recognize the difficulty of the present moment," she admitted, her smile tempering in sympathy as she settled into a seat. "But seeing the composure and resolve of your people leaves me confident that Glacia will continue in strength in spite of her hardships. You have both my compassion, and my admiration."
Glacia / Re: Like drawn to like
« Last post by Marisol Calderon on Nov 13, 19, 12:37:04 PM »
It was rare for Marisol to go nameless in such a situation. In her normal circles, she typically commanded the room, which was a feat for a Dhemlanese woman who hadn't yet seen her second century. In this instance, however, it cost her no pride to move in silence from the door to the sitting room, and she was pleased to have the minor role that she held here, as a mere usher for the Vicereine's guest. Humility now would be repaid to her in respect later, she was certain. So rather than holding the Prince up with her own introduction (despite how thrilled she would have been to establish herself with the Territory Steward), she led him to the Vicereine and announced him.

"Your Excellency, may I present Prince Lindgren, the Steward of Glacia's high court." To the Prince, she turned to add, "The High Priestess of Dhemlan, Her Holiness, Lady Villendra." Her holiness, the Most High, was how that introduction should have ended, Marisol thought. But outside of Dhemlan, certain concessions had to be made. The short-lived especially got nervous when one deviated from the letter of Protocol, and though Marisol would be hard pressed to name someone she thought worthy of addressing the High Priestess with the familiarity of her family name, she understood that it would be the expectation here.

She watched with subtle attention the way the Prince entered the room and greeted the Priestess. She studied him, his choice of dress and his mannerisms. He cut a striking figure in that suit, though the thrumming weight of power Marisol thought she sensed around him would've made even a pauper attractive. She noticed the band on his hand, yet wondered anyway if there was a hope of turning his head. Though she didn't feel she needed to do so, the young Priestess was not above using her pretty face to draw desirable people nearer.

"Is there anything else I can do for you, Excellency?" she asked, returning her attention to the Vicereine once introductions had finished.
Dena Nehele / Re: ways of marking time
« Last post by Judith Grigorie on Nov 13, 19, 11:53:02 AM »
Thirteen escorts were about to go out into the world, which was thirteen more than there'd been at this time seven months ago. That was thirteen more of Jude's sisters protected from themselves, thirteen more families with members pulling a living wage, and thirteen more men and women who could, if they chose, come back to the Conservatory and pass their learning along in a few years. She'd already picked out the ones that had the most facility with the other students, intending to ask one or two back to talk to the new class when they started after Winsol this year. Lord Reiss acquitted himself well. As for Lord Gloom...

She shuddered. No. Nobody needed to be subjected to Lord Gloom. He was a good Escort, but he was too excitable and too easily coaxed into tangents.

"One of us should learn how to cook one day," she said as she summoned the paper bags of takeout from her psychic cabinet. They hovered above the papers threateningly and scented the kitchen area with aromatic spices. "Or at least how to cook this." There was a landen in the altar district near Ji Yoon's clinic that had opened some sort of Tacean soup shop: rich, fatty broth and vegetables lowered into the soup when you ordered it, so they still had that delicious crunch when you ate it. As the weather got colder, they'd been eating there more often.

Jude passed silverware across to Carson, and followed them with the Tacean sticks that were the more traditional way to eat ramen. "The Banes are fine. Amaranth's going to take up a Court Priestess's position as soon as she can find one, and Sebastian's recovering well from his..." she wiggled a hand in the air, equivocating his breakdown "...Thing, at the start of the year. And Elisabet is a little colicky, but that's not surprising, considering her birth."

She sighed. There should have been a baby here, too, at home. But then there would be no Conservatory to focus all of her efforts on.

"I want a baby," she muttered rebelliously. "I feel like I'm never happier than when I'm visiting the Banes or... practicing with you. I know it's not true and the Conservatory is like having thirty babies at once, but it's not the same."
Tacea / Re: but guidance won't come
« Last post by Lung-tan Zazen-ji on Nov 13, 19, 11:35:34 AM »
The Dragon of the Mountains had come down from the monastery at the request of the Regent, and then remained to fulfill some of his expected duties.  The Abbot had secured the services and goodwill of two Priestesses in his time leading the monastery.  It was a good start, and those two has served the monks and the monastery very well in the recent past, but it was becoming increasingly clear that more would be better.  Five had always been the desired goal, and while Lung-tan had been pleased with two, as had his brothers, he knew that five was the ideal.  Their brotherhood was not shrinking.  This, he believed, was the effect of the Regent.  Monks were seen as educated men,and he was getting a sense that perspectives on the education of Tacea’s Males might see change.

Since his meeting with the Regent, he had arranged to meet with more Priestesses, and because of that, he was reminded, yet again, of something he sometimes allowed himself to sublimate behind the walls of Zazen-ji.  He was still, very much, a Warlord Prince.  He occupied a unique place in the standards of Protocol in Tacea.  He was not a Priest, but he held the title and office of one, and men of all stripes, once Protocol was followed, deferred to him.  He was the Dragon of the Mountains, the Monk that must answer the call of the Dragon Queen, should such a call be made, the one who would speak for his monastery and his brothers.  Away from the monastery, however, on site, he was a Sapphire Warlord Prince, a tiger prowling in the tall grass, while prey and lesser predators moved around him.  There was a time where the fear and trepidation he inspired was considered his due, but now it served as a reminder of how careful he had to be in the pursuit of his duties. 

The Abbot was glad that the demands of his Rut had been answered earlier that year, and he could approach all of his interactions without that overshadowing his efforts.  Even still, it had been a long time since he was around so many Females.  He had not forgotten the comfort of Female company, nor the instincts their presence inspired, instincts of service and protection, now that he had the ears to hear the voice of the Darkness in his own soul.  Still, he meditated often, seeking the peace of solitude, or as much peace as his true nature allowed him to acquire.  He was pleased to receive a missive from his prize student, the one he hoped would replace him one day, if not at the monastery, in Tacea at large.  They were born special, a balance of Male and Female, as steady and sure as they came, and blessed by Mother Night with Dark Jewels for both Birthright and Offering.

The Dragon of the Mountains knew that young Kei was feeling their way through the world.  It was a world they would have to know if they meant to serve it, and serve it they must.  Tacea needed them, or would in the days ahead, Lung-tan was sure of that much.  Lung-tan arrived at the proper time, and smiled gently when Kei bowed before him.  He helped his young friend to his feet, and was soon led to one of the small meetings rooms around the altar.  He knelt at the table, and waited for Kei to go through the steps of the host and a brother under his Abbot.  He thanked the young monk with a nod, and waited patiently for Kei to reveal the reason for his call.  The Dragon of the Mountains always had time for Mother Night Has Twice Blessed Me With The Radiance Of The Cosmos.  The younger monk seemed agitated, and Lung-tan found that gentle silence was all that was needed to call Kei’s voice forward.

”A job offer?”  Lung-tan repeated politely, sipping some tea quietly.  Kei was clearly upset about something, and the Dragon was beginning to form a suspicion, when the other monk simply stated the issue at hand.  The Abbot put aside his tea cup, and reached across the space to take one of Kei’s hands briefly, giving it a squeeze.  ”Calmly, my friend.  Calmly.  Mother Night has given you a guide, but we will find it together.  Tell me, Kei, if a Queen’s blood is sacred—what then is her soul?”
Glacia / Re: Like drawn to like
« Last post by Ulric Lindgren on Nov 13, 19, 11:24:31 AM »
He had finally gotten to a point in his schedule where he could make adequate room to personally meet with the Dhemlan delegation that had arrived for the funeral of Queen Elisif Brenden. He could have easily sent someone from his office to fulfill that obligation but Ulric felt as though it would speak a greater volume of care if he attended to them directly. They had, after all, come a long way.

The Dhemlan people had found an intellectual peer in Glacia when it came to formalized religion. And even though the two religions did not share the same tenets, they shared one very crucial thing in common: there was great power, both spiritual and political, given to the Priestesses in both Territories, elevating them into a position that rivaled that of Queens in some regards. Dhemlan had requested a permanent establishment in Glacia, in order to study Glacia’s own religion, and that request had been granted years ago. But, it had not and most likely would not gain a foothold in the iron grip of the Dark Religion. It was…entertained…because Glacians did enjoy deep philosophical conversations with others.

Dressed in a dark grey suit, with his Ebon Gray Jewel rested on the vest, the only splash of color to Ulric that day was the deep lavender shirt underneath. As usual, he walked with calm purpose, unhurried and unworried, despite the uncertainties that the rest of the Territory felt. All things would settle in time and their purpose, though momentarily paused as a new Queen rose to power, remained the same.

He entered the lavish building that had been set aside for the delegation and was promptly (and, of course, politely) greeted by the front desk staff. It was but a momentary wait before he was escorted towards what he assumed was the temporary office of the High Priestess. Just a few steps before he stood before that door, his escort bowed and departed, leaving the situation to him. Ulric took a moment to watch the man leave and then knocked twice, crisp and clear.

He, of course, did not expect the illustrious High Priestess to answer the door and thus he was not surprised to see a different face. She, however, seemed surprised to see him. “Lady Priestess,” he greeted, his voice all velvet hiding steel. He gave her an appropriate bow of Protocol as she offered her own blessed greeting and then asked him to follow her.

There was nothing more said in the few steps that it took to cross the sprawling room and enter the adjoining suite. Ulric stepped forward past his latest escort to greet Lady Villendra with his hands open in support. Lovely women, Dhemlan produced. Sharp minds paired with poise and grace. Ulric did care for his wife but he appreciated the exotic beauty of the Dhemlanese like a critic appreciated a fine piece of art. He would not complain about the present company he kept.

“Lady Villendra,” he purred. The corners of his mouth twitched into a small smile, adding welcome to his tone. “I am honored that we have found a moment in our busy schedules in which to meet. How has your stay been thus far?”
Tacea / caught between love and duty
« Last post by Zhihao An on Nov 13, 19, 11:16:44 AM »
Zhihao could always count on a warm welcome at Ureshi-sa. There would always be a half-jewel ready to serve him tea, a trainee eager to show off a complicated bit of choreography they’d mastered, and two cats to wind about his legs and try to trip him. Home had a reliable rhythm.

He breathed deeply as he walked the okiya’s worn wooden floors, taking in the house’s unique scent. Serving Hinata in Ito once more had been a treat, a return to a time in his life he’d thought long over - but Kumazawa and his new role were calling, and Zhihao looked forward to this new chapter, even if it meant leaving certain comforts behind.

He waited for Ryuuen in a private parlor - even here, even home, there were certain truths to keep from prying half-jeweled eyes. An errant touch, an overheard word, and no family would ever trust their sons to Ureshi-sa again.

Still, once the door was closed, Zhihao was quick to rise to his feet and wrap his lover in an embrace. Too short. They took their seats at the table and Zhihao folded his hands overtop Ryuuen’s.

“Yumi accepted my offer to serve by her side in Kumazawa,” he said. The offer was nothing new. The acceptance had been a question. It had counted on his daughter’s ability to forgive him and that had been an unknown quantity. He’d done so much harm with his secrets, wasted so many years.

“I will depart Ito when she does, once the enthronement festivities have finished.”

Back to how things had been before the interregnum. The long-distance dance. Zhihao sighed. “It will be misery, readjusting to not being by your side so often.”
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