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Tensions are rising in Tacea after the destruction of their Territory Court at the hands of its Queen. Unable to continue their traditional cycle of succession because of accusations of treason, Tacea must find a Queen capable of uniting the land while building bridges to the world outside its borders.
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Author Topic: remind you that there's more to see  (Read 343 times)

Description: tag: Zhihao

Offline Hinata no Kagen

  • Character Account
    • rose2ss
    • queen
    • Role

      First Escort / Political Adviser

    • Faction

      Territory Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

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      [Link]

    • OOC

      Zen

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      83

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remind you that there's more to see
« on: May 10, 18, 07:38:49 PM »
Working from the early morning well beyond sunset and into the evening hours was not something that had ever been unfamiliar to Hinata or any of her former court. Though time passed and had aged her decades by now, the routine wasn't one that she'd ever considered shirking, much less would she have tried to use age as an excuse to do so. With the Interregnum in motion now more than ever, it wasn't even a wisp of a thought anywhere in her mind and she knew several others that had joined her were of the same mindset.

Zhihao in particular had always been incredibly diligent, even after Hinata's few, brief years of retirement the Prince had maintained his duties regularly as spymaster for both her safety and watchfulness over her people. He had been her immediate recommendation for Seung to promote back into a proper station for his Regency and she'd been glad to hear that it had been made official, though on paper he was merely staffed as her own Court Escort, much like the old days.

Hinata had no doubt she'd find him in his office even at the slightly later hour that it was presently, for even she had just barely finished up her own work for the day and had stepped out to proceed down the hallway, locking the door behind her with a flick of Craft. The office Zhihao had been given was the same one that he'd maintained when Hinata ruled, and it brought a small smile to her face to see it decorated in a similar fashion after she'd been permitted entry into the quarters.

"It looks exactly as I remember it, though I can only imagine your disappointment that Prince Corro decided to keep the Steward's office for his own use during this regency," she teased gently, smiling at her Prince as she moved to take a seat on the opposite side of his desk. Satomi's office while she'd been Steward had always been a source of envy for Zhihao and others - the view was one of the best within the Territory Seat and the Black Widow had always playfully lorded it over pretty much everyone else.

"I hope everything is to your liking and the work is treating you well thus far? I know it's been all too easy for even me to fall back into our old routines." While idle chit-chat wasn't the purpose of her visit this evening, she'd have been remiss as his Queen to not check in and make sure everything was suitable for him.

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

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      Leez

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #1 on: May 13, 18, 02:22:18 AM »
Zhihao always felt most at ease in the presence of his queen. Hinata's psychic scent resonated with his in a way only she could. Though his heart had always belonged to Ryuuen, Zhihao's soul belonged to his queen. (His lover understood this - his soul belonged to her as well.)

Her visit was a welcome respite, though Zhihao was nearing the end of his workday anyway. He had just a few more reports to review, and if he stopped to meet with Hinata instead, well, that would likely be productive. He could just as easily finish his reading in the morning.

"My lady," Zhihao said, rising as Hinata entered his study. He bowed to her, and then waited until she'd seated herself before returning to his chair. "Yes, luckily my predecessor did not see fit to repaint," he agreed. "I do quite envy the view from the steward's office, but I realize it was never truly mine to have. "

Zhihao was not, after all, a steward, or anything approaching one. For Seung Corro to take that office was unusual, though not entirely unpredictable given where he'd sat during the reign of Yuki no Natsuhana. When you were the Dragon Father, no one could tell you which office suite to take. You made your own rules.

"You know me, Hinata," he chuckled. "I never really retired. Still, it feels good to be operating in an official capacity once more." People were treating him like he was important, and he certainly didn't mind the influence. "I have a bit to get up to speed on... but it's all going well. I've been taking meetings. Making friends."

He smiled. "How may I be of service?" Zhihao asked. "And can I offer you anything to drink? There's tea, or... I think I have a bottle of awamori. I remember seeing it when I was unpacking, so unless it's grown legs..."

Offline Hinata no Kagen

  • Character Account
    • rose2ss
    • queen
    • Role

      First Escort / Political Adviser

    • Faction

      Territory Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

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      [Link]

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      Zen

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #2 on: May 13, 18, 11:41:04 PM »
"It is a particularly stunning view," she agreed with a warm smile. Perhaps the only one that had a better view was the actual office of the Dragon Mother, even if it was presently unoccupied. There was a part of her, however relieved, that Seung hadn't actually chosen to claim that office for his own. While she personally didn't care, she could only fathom the discontent that would come from it. "Though this one does have a lovely one as well, in its own way," Hinata remarked while her eyes swept to the window in question before she turned her attention back to Zhihao.

He had a point of course, if there was anyone besides herself and Satomi (because Hinata was surely convinced she'd cling to her Coven leadership until the end of her days) who hadn't truly given up working in some political capacity, it was definitely the spymaster. "I'm glad everything is working out well for you thus far. I have no doubt you'll be pleasantly occupied within the coming months, if not longer." She knew some of what Seung had planned for the Prince's workload thus far, most of it regarding either potential successor Queens or ambassadors to the mainland, but she was sure there'd be more.

"Awamori?" she repeated, slightly amused between the lilt of her voice and the way her eyes crinkled at the corners with her smile. "I think a little of that might not hurt. Celebrate another successful day of work and all."

As for what she actually needed from him? Well... There was some hesitance, a bit of last minute deliberation as to whether or not she actually wanted to go through with it, but ultimately she shook her head of the doubt and steeled her resolve. "I've received additional information and news regarding Toyani and it's concerned me to the point that I feel a more solid, thorough eye should be kept on her.

That being the case, I need someone of your spy contingent to go to Dena Nehele, if you have anyone that would be willing and able to do so. Obviously a disguise or illusion web would be required, to which I can defer to Satomi-sama for as another Tacean skulking around would draw blatant attention."

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

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      Leez

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #3 on: May 17, 18, 02:41:06 AM »
"There is no situation awamori cannot turn into an occasion," Zhihao agreed, nodding, and turned to consider the cabinet behind his desk. After a moment's pause, he produced the aforementioned bottle of liquor and a pair of teacups. "I hope you can forgive my barware," he said, pouring. "My glasses didn't survive the move."

Something always broke when you took up a new office. At his age, he'd learned to embrace it - whatever didn't make it was just... meant to be gone.

Truly, great minds thought alike. Zhihao had been meaning to approach Hinata with a proposal to keep an eye on her prodigal niece - Toyani's flight to Dena Nehele had been concerning enough on its own, but for her to come to her cousins' funeral to recruit for her overseas contingent had raised red flags. And he didn't like the look of her mainlander male.

"I'll see which of my agents is up for an extended assignment," he said. Surely someone would jump at the chance to leave the territory. "I take it you'd like to see her court infiltrated?"

Spying on queens posed some unique risks... but it was a welcome challenge. There was always the very small risk that agents might bond to their target and see their loyalties swayed - a risk Zhihao preferred to mitigate as best he could, because he could. Females were generally immune to Queen bonding. Males who had bonded elsewhere were also safe.

"Your concern, I take it," he said, after a moment's consideration spent sipping his awamori, "Is that she is following her mother's path."

Offline Hinata no Kagen

  • Character Account
    • rose2ss
    • queen
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      First Escort / Political Adviser

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      Tacea

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #4 on: May 18, 18, 04:44:26 AM »
"A sound point, my Prince," she agreed with another fond smile and a small laugh. While she personally didn't take to drinking much anymore of her own accord (she tended to just prefer an exceptional tea nowadays), she wasn't so stuffy that she'd turn down when one was offered. Besides, the pair of them were professionals and knew that a simple glass wasn't going to deter them from the matters of business they were embarking on discussing.

"That's incredibly unfortunate to hear, they were truly lovely glasses. I remember when you received them as a thank you from that extremely grateful Priestess." She idly wondered the chances of finding similar glasses again and surprising her Bonded with them, figuring it might be a suitable office-warming gift, as it were, and just a thoughtful gesture all the same. That was a matter for later rather than the present, she supposed.

Accepting the teacup with the liquid in it after Zhihao handed it across to her, she thanked him, brought it up to her lips while the spymaster spoke and took a small sip. It was a touch stronger than she remembered, but its warmth wasn't unwelcome and she was definitely glad that had been her choice if they were going to spend this time talking about Toyani. "Ideally, yes. Somewhere in her court would be preferred, but if that ends up being too risky or not possible, we can make do with an alternate placement on the outskirts of service. Something within her lower circles will be the least suspicious - Third or below would likely suffice, maybe even a random guard or a maid." Close enough to be privy to certain information but distant enough that a random applicant wouldn't draw attention.

Hinata's lips pursed together into a thin, contemplative line while she nodded at the spymaster's assessment, though she wasn't sure he was aware of just how deeply his conjecture ran true. "It's always been a goal of hers to usurp her mother's empire from Shiro, and even when she left to Dena Nehele I had thought that to be the extent of it. Prince Corro informed me otherwise, though; she's seeking training on the mainland in a second caste, apparently. While he didn't specify exactly which one, I think I know my niece well enough to say it isn't the Healer or Priestess arts that earned her attention." Aimi had been a Black Widow as well, so it only added to the evidence.

"Not only that, but in her time there thus far, she's already caused something of a potential diplomatic incident." Rather than recanting the tale, she simply called in the last letter she'd gotten from Ji Yoon which detailed the attack upon the slaver in Lady Vlas' First Circle and the servants within his townhouse. "Negotiations apparently ran afoul and it escalated into this," she commented, pushing the paper across the table for Zhihao to read for himself.

"Shiro thinks it's a waste of time and resources to pursue this, but with as many agents as you have, I don't believe sparing a lone one will do much harm on your end of functioning. Furthermore, if this is going to be the pattern of how things play out while she's ruling on the mainland, I'd say it's better to be cognizant of what's going on before having to hear it from a third party not on our side of matters."

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

    • Faction

      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

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      [Link]

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      Leez

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 18, 01:26:34 AM »
Zhihao smiled wanly. "Shiro would think that," he remarked, scanning the letter. To be quite frank, he was more interested in what other information Ji Yoon Moon revealed. Toyani was very much the same girl who'd gouged out a priestess's eyes, not content with the many gifts the Darkness had bestowed on her and keen to reach for even more. Her greed would catch up to her one day... but until then, she'd be causing trouble in a distant land and arranging questionable marriages for her brother.

"Ji Yoon Moon is one of Prince Corro's daughters, is she not?" Zhihao asked. The name struck him as familiar - surely she'd been a part of Yuki no Natsuhana's court for a time. Doubtless Toyani had been drawn by the possibility of adding long-lived blood to her branch, but the thoughts Ji Yoon shared with Hinata suggested that might have been a short-sighted decision. "A strange match if I've ever seen one."

His head was awash in possible motivations - not only for Toyani to defy protocol and ask the match be made, but for Seung Corro to agree to it (for it did not sound as though Ji Yoon Moon had arranged her own engagement).

"I suppose the way Shiro sees it," said Zhihao, "so long as she is on the mainland and out of his hair, she is no threat to him."

He could not possibly me more wrong. Zhihao knew well that the unseen threat was the most dangerous one of all. the distant enemy the one most likely to plot your demise. Hinata's nephew would do well to learn the same. Especially if his already-unstable sister was truly pursuing a Black Widow caste.

"I will dispatch an agent to infiltrate her court at my soonest convenience," he said, nodding.

Offline Hinata no Kagen

  • Character Account
    • rose2ss
    • queen
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      First Escort / Political Adviser

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      Tacea

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      Zen

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 18, 08:05:20 AM »
"She is indeed. His oldest daughter, in fact," Hinata confirmed, taking another sip of the awamori and allowing it to warm her on the way down in tandem with smoothing out some of the turmoil that came with her thoughts. "From what I've heard of the Healer, I'm unsure just how her and Akira's personalities would actually mesh in such an arrangement, but from what I understand he fancies her.

There isn't a doubt that the potential for Long-Lived blood in Toyani's was absolutely a motivating factor in taking up this particular arrangement. I have since come to learn that Prince Corro had his own reasons for agreeing to it, as any who know him would of course be correct in assuming it's not something he would consent to lightly."
Though the tone in which she spoke signified that while she did know those reasons, she wasn't at liberty to divulge them. She trusted Zhihao implicitly, of course, but Seung had made it quite clear that the matter of Yua no Ariake's situation on the mainland needed to be kept between as few people as possible until the dark-jeweled Healer was brought back home.

"I don't believe Shiro entirely dismisses her as a threat." Her eldest nephew was still a Warlord Prince after all, even despite the manner in which he carried himself with far more control than others of his caste. "He simply seems to think, as so many others I've come to learn, that I will - or should, rather - take up the mantle of Dragon Mother once again and instate the dynasty that so many of the Kagen seem keen to have," she spoke with some exasperation this time, her smile weary more than anything else.

"So he believes my focus should remain with what goes on here rather than his wayward sister. But Toyani's contract within Dena Nehele is only a year from what I was told, and I don't doubt that when the year is up she'll be making attempts to return back home." What plans she'd enact upon returning home for good? Hinata wasn't entirely sure she wished to know, but knew that it was necessary to find out.

"Thank you, my Prince. Your cooperation and assistance on the matter is invaluable," Hinata said genuinely, relieved that he was so amenable and didn't dismiss her concerns on the matter. "I'll get in touch with Satomi-sama and have her start preparing the appropriate tools such an agent would need to traverse the mainland without suspicion. I can send her your way as well so the two of you can collaborate on what course would be best."

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

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      Kagen Clan

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      Tacea

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #7 on: Jun 06, 18, 01:18:26 AM »
Zhihao frowned. Though he had only finally met Seung Corro in person recently, he'd long been familiar with the man from afar. A long-lived war hero in a short-lived territory was a point of interest, and if Zhihao were so keen, he would be able to call forth an inches-thick dossier on the man from one of the cabinets behind him. He had not memorized it... but he recalled the basics. "Not his oldest oldest, I believe, my Queen," he said, bowing his head. "He had Ariake daughters long before he took up with the Hanwa."

When Hinata did not further elaborate on Seung's reasons for agreeing to the match, Zhihao resolved to investigate on his own. As interregnum spymaster, he had reason to speak to the regent regularly, and though Akira, Toyani, and Ji Yoon Moon were all far away in Dena Nehele, he suspected that the details behind the deal might be a matter of Tacean security. "Indeed, he must be getting something in return," said the Prince. "It is one thing to bury the hatchet - another to hold a wedding atop it."

Which all seemed to come back to the thousand-year dynasty that side of the family had their sights set on. Zhihao sighed. "At least," he said dryly, "We can take some small comfort that Toyani has engaged her least-cooperative brother to a long-lived girl whose family history makes her unlikely to support any dynastic ambitions. If queenmaking were a tournament sport, I would give her a four out of ten. Points for ambition... but she picks up nothing in execution."

He refilled both their glasses.

"We will deal with her return when it approaches," said Zhihao. "I will gather information on her activities abroad and act accordingly. It will be a pleasure to work with Satomi-sama once more."

He smiled. "Now, my queen, it seems our business is concluded, so I must ask - how are you? Does the work come as easily as it once did?" If Zhihao was no longer young... Hinata was even less so.

Offline Hinata no Kagen

  • Character Account
    • rose2ss
    • queen
    • Role

      First Escort / Political Adviser

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      Territory Court

    • Territory

      Tacea

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      Zen

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #8 on: Jun 09, 18, 12:52:27 AM »
"You are indeed correct," was all she offered in quiet solemnity regarding the notion of Seung's other daughters. While not technically the oldest, with the three proceeding her having passed away, it did make Ji Yoon the oldest living child out of those that remained walking amidst the Realm. Not that she was discounting the others, no sooner than she'd discount Shin as her eldest child despite his recent passing, but it made the concept no less strange or melancholy in either event.

Hinata had the utmost confidence that Zhihao was more than capable of figuring out the reasons for Seung's agreement himself, and surely as the spymaster for the entire interregnum now, the Warlord Prince would probably be entirely amenable to divulging those reasons to the Prince himself. But as it stood, as dear to her as both of her Bonded were, that conversation was not her place regardless of the station she currently held in the regency.

"There's also the fact that, despite their residence in Dena Nehele, Tacean tradition favors matriarchy. So any children borne from that marriage wouldn't be obligated to take up the Kagen name unless they wished to, and instead they would be more officially members of Ji Yoon's side of the family." It was an almost imperceptible thing, the slight hint of a conspiratorial tone that the Queen's words took on. She hadn't pointed that fact out specifically to Toyani when the subject of the marriage came up, but surely her niece would've remembered such a thing on her own. And if she didn't? Well, that would likely be an unpleasant realization.

Hinata thanked Zhihao for the refill and took another contemplative sip, nodding in affirmation at her Prince's words and smiling warmly at him. "Thank you for your assistance on the matter, also. It means a great deal to me, as always."

Leaning back into the chair, she relaxed a little further now that the more pressing matters had seemed to be taken care of. She trusted Zhihao and Satomi with her very life and had no doubt they'd work exceptionally well together in this, as well as maintain the discreet nature of it. "I am faring quite well, all things considered. The commanders for the Thousand Swords have been officially chosen, we're in the process of finalizing the promotion of the last two. I recently returned from a meeting with the new clan Queen of the Shingetsu, Lady Sakura. I believe the next focus is filling out the diplomatic corps and selecting appropriate ambassadors to the other Territories. Prince Corro is of a mind to offer the lead position in that to Kyou no Izayoi, my replacement Mistress of the Guard after the first had passed, if you recall her?" She was sure he did.

"The role is certainly a change of pace, and there are several within my family who aren't exactly the most pleased that I've been forced to take up such activity once more, but personally I'm enjoying the opportunity and it feels a bit like coming home, so to speak. I never was one for sitting idly, you know."

Offline Zhihao An

  • Character Account
    • te2ss
    • prince
    • Role

      Hinata's Dagger & Spymaster

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      Kagen Clan

    • Territory

      Tacea

    • Character Sheet

      [Link]

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      Leez

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      68

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Re: remind you that there's more to see
« Reply #9 on: Jun 13, 18, 11:08:16 AM »
Zhihao nodded, corner of his mouth quirking upwards in the barest hint of a smile. He had certainly caught Hinata’s meaning, and the apparent oversight amused him. Toyani would have done better to have found a suitable partner and had a long-lived child herself, but he doubted the idea had even occurred to her. (She had never seemed the maternal type, even for the sake of advancing her own schemes.) “Well,” he said, “I do hope that Prince Corro gets what he seeks from this agreement. Lady Moon seems amiable towards you. Perhaps Toyani’s shortsightedness has delivered us a boon. If Akira can be persuaded to bring his bride back to Kanazawa, she would make an excellent court Healer.”

Was he thinking of how to play Toyani’s mistake to his daughter’s benefit? Of course he was. What father wouldn’t?

“But all of that rests on an awful lot of supposition,” he sighed, and waved away the matter as if clearing incense smoke. Counting eggs while the bird was still laying was a fool’s errand.

“Promoting Lady Izayoi would go a ways to easing tensions with her clan,” Zhihao answered, after considering the proposal for a moment. He still hadn’t nailed down a reason to suspect Ishiyo’s own people of sabotaging her rule, because the possibility simply didn’t make any sense. His pet theory laid blame on the Shingetsu, but he still needed evidence before he could call it anything more than that. “And she is certainly capable of the work. I think it’s a wise decision on Prince Corro’s behalf.”

He would have said something if he thought otherwise. Cutting bad ideas off at the pass was an obligation of his.

“Your children?” Zhihao asked, raising an eyebrow - and his glass. He took a sip. “Your husband?” he asked. “Fools, if they thought you’d sit back and take up a hobby. There are still years in you yet, my Queen, and they are good for more than gardening and embroidery. You have found your calling serving this territory. And, however brief Prince Corro aims to keep his rule, your presence legitimizes it in the eyes of the more traditional of the populace.”