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located in The West, a part of Exalted: A Tale in the Time of Tumult, one of the many universes on RPG.

The West

A vast expanse of Ocean that stretches into infinity, broken only by scattered islands that grow fewer the farther one goes. Many myths tell of what lies beyond it, but few that venture that far return.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes
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Part 4 of the big collab, more to follow



MEANWHILE WITH THE RUNAWAYS


A blinding silver light shown through the halls, nearly drowning out all vision as the Lunar and Solar pair raced down it at speeds that would put a well bred horse to shame. Above them, burning like a beacon of pure moonlit radiance, the galloping image of a winged armor clad woman on horse back followed. For a solid minute Ashen had run, clearing from one end of the spire fully to the other. It was only after he had realized that Astrid was no longer behind them that the Changing Moon's speed slowed down to a 'relative' jog. Trying to take stock of where they were, Ashen took the opportunity to normalize his breathing pace and collect his wits. Above him the image of the charging valkyrie slowed to a trot and started to fade.

Calliope's head fell back in amazement at the sight of Ashen's anima banner. The silver light was enough to dazzle the stars. She could not remember ever seeing any other Exalt's banner before, aside from her own. It shimmered and flared like a portal to an alternate dimension. Calliope wondered what the meaning was behind the image. A dozen or so valkerie that charged some unknown enemy just above their heads. The Solar's arms fell gently around Ashen's neck, and she continued to gaze her starstruck gaze right up until the image's last flicker. Then it shuddered and disappeared.

Before she knew it, they had slowed. Calliope was rendered silent, she had no words for what she had seen. She was left with an indescribable feeling in her chest.

Feeling Calliope's arms clasp over his sholders brought Ashen's attention back downward, and the slight bit of red back to his cheeks as he was reminded of the state of the woman he was currently holding close to his chest. Briefly he hoped the remaining shimmers of his anima was hiding the blush that was threatening to form again. He coughed slightly and kept at his current pace and tried to keep his eyes forward as they moved. Tried being the key word.

"So..." he began slowly as he tried to think how to proceed, and decided to fall back on his usual quips and sass. "Do ye got an explanation fer what in tha name of tha ocean father's balls that were back thar? Or should ay jus' be assuming tha streakin' is a normal past time of yers?" And of course Ashen slipped back into his usual see tongue out of bad habit.

It took her a moment to disect what Ashen was truly asking. What did the ocean's father have anything to do with it? "I assumme you are referring to mmy outfit, or lack there of." The Princess replied calmly.

He nodded "Aye, it be a tad hard ta ignore." And it was, he had to keep wrenching his eyes back upwards now and again. "Also perhaps why Astrid were chasing us in full warform?"

"It is quite the tale," Calliope chuckled. "You see, I founnd mmyself in a smmall duel, annd after falling off of a balconny, I camme across dear Lux and Astrid, and you see, Astrid was very innsistant on a nnew dress, since mmine robes had beenn sliced open. You must know I was nnot particularly pleased with the situationn, annd I fled before they could clothe me. Annd here we are nnow." Calliope detached her hands from around Ashen's neck and folded them in her lap. "I do appreciate your assistance," she said softly. "Otherwise I would have been drawnnn and quartered by the hanndmminnionns by nnow."

The mention of the duel made Ashen look downwards at the stab wound on her belly again and study it with intensity. "So tha be where tha came from" He muttered under his breath, but the question of who she had gotten into the duel with flirterd through his thoughts. He almost wanted to pose the question, and it was evident on his face for a scant few seconds. Then he grunted and shifted her weight in his arms. "Well it be my pleasure ta help yer magisty. And 'ave no fear, I promise to keep ye away from any nafarious 'handminions' and their dread thread and needle implaments." He gave a cheeky wink and a grin at that, now probably having a bit to much fun with the situation.

"Why, that is very valiannt of you, Sir Ashen," Calliope laughed serenely. It was funny in retrospect, but in all honesty, Calliope was glad to keep Fakharu's handmaidens as far from her as possible. She could sense his curiosity about the wound, and she wasn't about to deprive him of the details.

"I camme across a mmann of my ownn kind." The Princess was quiet, as though she had to work through the turn of events all over again in her mind. It was still somewhat unclear to her why the man had attacked her, but it had to have been significant. "In Gladom, the color of my skin is considered special, and rare. This mmann shared my commplexionn. It is very peculiar situationn, because I knnew nnot of any inndividual with such a commplexion outside of my immediate fammily." Another pause. "Annd when I introduced mmyself, the mann accused me of fraud."

The privateer mulled that information over. There weren't a lot of answers he could give to that. There could be a number of reasons for the mans skin pigmination. Exposure to the chaotic energies of the wyld beyond the world might change someones skin tone to match the color easily, as could the magics of bored god or demon, but neither of those would explain how the man acted at the reveal of Calliope's status as a princess of Gladom. Not unless they had a personal connection to the place to give reason to that response. On a hunch, he decided to pose a question. "your skin tone... I'd be assumin' it's ah inhereted trait of yer family?" He gave her a more clinical examination as he asked this. Well, mostly clinical. 'stop staring at her chest damnit'

"That's right."

He hummed as he mulled the thought over. "An assumin' that yer family has been in power for a good number of generations... I'm assuming ye have a fair few cousin's an such?" He paused before he brouched this next part. "Have ye heard any tales of former family members of generation's past tha fell outta good graces with Galdom's throne?"

Calliope thought for a moment. "I have nnever enntertained such ann idea, nnor have I heard of anny such scandal." Calliope ran a hand through her snowy hair, her gaze drifted as she considered the thought. Some long-lost relative twice, or three times removed from her family tree, had brog the family, and thus the royal figure head at the time severed the connection for fear of any further embarrassment. She had never heard of such a thing, but being that her royal family was quite large, it wasn't completely impossible. There were members of her extended family that had been painted with dishonor for various scandals. Hell, it wasn't uncommon!

"But, that sounnnds very reasonnable. Yes, that mmust be the explannationn, and... and perhaps the distrubannce was nnever brought to light, as to keep the gossip fromm spreadinng."

"Aye, and it might explain why 'e called ye a liar an attacked ye outta tha blue like 'e did." He concured. Considering how far north the black crag mountains were the idea of some princess from a kingdom there venturing this far westwards on her lonesome could be considered a bit far fetched, even with the excuse of having been invited here by a celestial censor. "If tha be tha case, t'would stand ta reason tha he might not believe ye claims of being a princess this far from 'ome. That... or tha bastard could'a just have a grudge against yer family 'e decided to take out on ye." There was a slight hint of rancor when he said this. In either case, the thought that someone might have attacked Calliope over something as petty as mistaken identity or a family feud put an acid taste in his mouth. "In either case, probably ask tha dragon 'bout it later."

Around that point the two of them came to another set of stairs leading downwards. Ashen Sky stopped his run for a moment. His ears flicked a bit as he gaged the decent. He briefly remembered that the spire as a whole was constructed to fit a massive dragon through it's halls, and as such each of the stair cases stretched a fair distance. Still shining with silver light, the Lunar glanced down again at the solar in his arms and a mischievous glint passed in his eyes. "I'm gonna need you to hold on tight for a sec." He said innocently and began adjusting his grip on the princess, even going so far as to wrap his soft tail around her belly for the added stability.

His moonsliver tattos shimmered, quivered and shifted across his skin in response to the essence that he redistributed to his legs. Calliope began, ”What do you mmmea- ?” Ashen then bent his knees and a moment later he launched himself airborn, holding Calliope tight as he arched several meters above before coming back down with an audible thud when his feet landed on the steps. He launched himself again immediantly after, bouncing down the stairs with abandon. Calliope squeaked, then laughed, thoroughly amused by the impromptu ride.

She had unconsciously wrapped her arms around him, hiding her face from the gut churning view by turning her head just so- that they were cheek-to-cheek. Was this a custom of Ashen’s native Western culture? She felt like asking, but in between nervous laughter and the sickening feeling of falling, she left it.

After one or two jumps she was fine, after three or four she began to feel the effects of motion sickness, but by the time they had descended three floors total, she was ready to spill her lunch all over the marble.

”Please! Nnoo mmmore!” She begged into the shoulder of his jacket, at which point they had both noticed that her left hand had found its way into the tussle of hair on the back of Ashen’s head, while the right was clutching his collar, evidently trembling.

Almost as soon as Ashen heard her plea he came to an immediate stop at the bottom of the steps, landing in a crouch and sqeezing the princess firmly close. He felt a sharp pang of gulit for causing her apperent distress and started softly cooing as he waited for her shaking to stop. "Sorry, sorry, should 'ave given ya more warnin', was just tryin' to 'ave some fun with ya. Sorry."

Maybe it was the combination of the head trauma from earlier or simply a new found motion sickness, but it was clear from her expressions, that Calliope was experiencing something very unpleasant. "I've never felt..." she panted, unhanding Ashen's wrinkled collar. "I have nnever.. felt nnnauseous before. This is... ah, this is very nnew. I'm nnot sure I like it." Ashen chuckled somberly in response. "Can't say I've 'eard of anyone tha does."

Calliope placed a hand on her forehead, as though the last few moments had been terribly exhausting. The feeling of nausia passed, and Calliope relaxed in Ashen's comfortable arms. Then only seconds later, she was scrambling out of his grasp. She had fallen from the Lunar's arms and onto the cold stone floor. In an instant, she was on her feet and doubled out a window, emmitting horrible retching sounds. Bye-bye lunch.

The sudden burst of activity from her had left the Lunar staggered in surprise and she had virtually knocked him on his hindquarters in her departure. The shock wore off quickly though, for the sound of Calliope heaving over the side of the window frame brought him running to her side. His years as a salior did him well in this case and he was well familiar enough with new crewmen getting sea sickness to know how to handle it. First he gathered up her snowy white hair in a bundle and held it back behind her head to keep it from getting splattered with bile. Then he began rubbing her back in an effort to get the muscles to relax and make passing easier, all the while keeping a genlte hand on her shoulder to steady her while he waited for the sickness to run it's course.

"I forgot 'ow much ye packed in at lunch earlier. Probably should warn ya against doin' it again when we set sail tonight." He tried to keep his tone calm, but in truth he felt a small pit settle in his stomach. He only meant to tease the princess a bit but had clearly gone too far. The thought that he caused her current nausia made him feel a little sick himself. "You gonna be okay?"

"Oh yes!" She assured him between heaves. "I'mm feeling mmuch better-" Another retching sound followed. "Please do...nnot worry."

Calliope had truly made a mess of herself. She began to miss the comfort of clothing, and she longed for her weapons bag with her change of formal wear, and just her weapons in general. And here she was, looking down the side of the glimmering castle, bear bottomed, purging into what looked like a flower bed. "I admit," she began, "This is nnot quite where I thought I would be but a day ago." The view from her perch, still doubled over the window sill, was quite serene. The courtyard was a brilliant shade of green, divided with pathways and elegant landscaping.

A scholar crossed the courtyard, and promptly noticed the very pink, very naked woman hanging out a window. The man was taken aback. He gawked at the spectacle Calliope had inevitably made of herself. Irritated by his unwelcome gaze, the princess shouted: "THIS IS BUT NNONE OF YOUR CONCERNN!" The man blinked, then scurried away, glancing over his shoulder once more, before disappearing into an archway.

She noticed that Ashen had been rubbing her back, for how long she knew not, but once she was certain there was nothing left to vomit, she removed herself from the window,and detached herself from Ashen's touch rather abruptly. She felt embarrassed, it seemed this Ashen fellow brought some kind of nervousness out in her. Her sudden evasion of his touch made him flinch slightly, from both the abruptness and his own lingering remorse, and he ended up taking a step back.

A small gap formed between them along with a short awkward silence that each maintained for their own seperate reason. After a moment passed Ashen rested his forearms on the windowsil and cleared his throat. "Ay... I can't say I was expectin' much the same either. Certainly wasn't thinkin' that I'd be back this far west again till tha bird showed up with tha censor's invite in it's beak." Idly Ashen started to scan the scenery from their vantage point. "Can't say if I'm as excited bout it as ah should be." They could see the beach they had landed on from there and his eyes were fixed quite strongly on the horizon beyond it. It had been a LONG time since he'd seen the isles of the west and the great western ocean. The sight of it brought forth both feelings of nostalgia and dread.

Pushing the thoughts from his mind for a moment, he decided to ask a question that had been nagging him since they all departed the boat together. "Why did you accept tha censor's invitation? If you don't mind me askin'. It is a long way for a royal to travel alone, even on the request of a dragon."

Calliope struggled to find a comfortable way to stand. She settled on crossing her arms and leaning against the stone corner that divided the window and the wall, which proved to be uncomfortable. She contemplated the question for a long while.

"I-... I wish to brinng honnor to mmy infanntry." She wanted to end her answer at that, but something about the statement didn't sit right. "Simply put, Fakharu's request arrived at an opportunne timme. I have been ammong the Exalted for but three years. The arrival of my exaltationn was quite traummatic, as most are. It was immportant that I venntured elsewhere to brinng honor to my lannd, for mmy own sake." Calliope's posture seemed to deflate with each passing sentence. She rubbed her face. "I amm ashammed to say I have beenn the cause of mmuch grief and tragedy inn my village. Annd being there for anny longer-.. I don't knnow why I amm telling you all this."

"I..." Ashen hesitated for a second. He couldn't really give her an answer as he didn't really know why he asked in the first place. In place of that answer he came up with another question. "Have you met any other Celestial exalts before today?"

"Never quite like this," Calliope chuckled half-heartedly.

"Ay, can't say this was how I was expectin' to be makin' aquintance with my first solar either. Not that I'm complaining mind." He said with a small grin and a wink. Calliope groaned, and laughed. After another short paused he continued. "It's not tha uncommon of a tale for our kind really. Least it's not for what few I've met. Gettin' chosen by tha gods always seems ta 'appen when someone's in trouble, and tha trouble doesn't always just go away because ya've exalted. If anythin' it gets worse more often than not." He shrugged and leaned back taking position opposite from her. By now the glow of his Anima had faded somewhat but his frame still had a slight silver glow to it and his caste mark, that of the changing moon, remained fixed on his forehead. "I think I can relate somewhat if ye be willin' ta talk about it... and more over, ay think the reason ye were tellin' me is because some part of ya wants to talk about it. Least tha's my guess."

Calliope's posture corrected itself, releasing some of the tension that lingered after Ashen's touch. She could almost feel his hand still on her right shoulder blade. It was a touch that, for anyone else, would have been a one-way ticket to a broken wrist, yet there Ashen was, wrist in tact. The Noble's cheeks darkened a shade of pink, and her gaze cast downward for a moment, before she finally willed herself to look the Lunar in the eyes. He glowed divinely.

She hesitated for a moment before nodding slowly, and saying, "Yes, ah, yes, I will... unnfold to you mmy troubles. Or, I shouldnn't say troubles-" She began strolling forward, looking back at him as if to invite him to walk with her. "They are the cards I have beenn dealt, as one says." Wordlessly Ashen followed beside her, keeping pace and listening intently.

A small smile formed at the corners of her mouth as she recalled the more pleasant past. "I was the pride of mmy mmilitary. I rose in the rannks at a rapid speed. Nnot only was I on track to inherit the thronne, but also my position as Chief Commmmander." She threw her head back in pride, but it didn't take a long for the pride to wash away. "I started at just 16– a genneral of mmy own small battalionn." Her tone became solemn. "I lead my mmen into a mmassacre.

"I treated the situationn far too lightly, and mmisjudged my enemmy. There was a flanking ambush. So manny died at my hand, including, ah... Sommeone who was very immportant to me at the time, but he is long since in the past, now." Calliope caught herself displaying her remorse quite visibly through use of facial expressions, and promptly shed all sign of physical distress over the situation, but not before Ashen caught notice of it. She put her arms back down at her sides, and her voice grew cold. "I have nnever made the same mmistake again. This loss lead to my exaltationn. The next thing I remmember, I was sitting in the snow, in a crater of dead. For acres, there lived nnot a single personn. The ennemmy had beenn eradicated, but so had mmy ownn soldiers. And I can remember so vividly, the snow that day. How it was spotted in red. It reminded me of petunias, which I had only read about in horticulture books. Nothing was ever the same. I lost friends, and... loved ones. My family frowned upon me, despite the fact that my true calling had been found. Depsite that I was chosen." Calliope paused for what seemed like ages.

”Picture yourself, Dear Ashen, stannding in the very clearing that a mmassacre once occurred, with the knowledge that the mmassacre was your fault. The mmorning is crisp, the snow is fresh, and you swear you can still smmmmell the thick spray of blood. Everyday after, for three years, all eyes are on you. Nnaturally, it is because of your status- but deep downn, you knnow they are starinng at you because you are a timme bomb. That’s all they will ever knnow you as. Nno mmmmatter how hard you trainnnn. How hard you work. How fast you learnnnn. How well you harness your abilities. The onnly personn who would have listenned to your plight in the whole town, has died because of your arrogannce.” Her eyes narrowed. “Annnd as you stannnd in this snnnoww bannk... you thinnnk back on that fateful day and wish the Gods would have let you die, too.”

Echoes of her words rang through the stone halls. Calliope’s expression was unchanging, cold, reserved, and unaffected. She didn’t let it show, but she regretted saying anything at all almost instantly. Calliope was afraid to gauge Ashen’s response, afraid to let go of any sort of remaining control she had over her body, as she felt the choking sensation of emotion swell in her throat. Her militant posture, even stark naked, was intimidating. She used it to her advantage.

"I was stannding in that clearinng yesterday. Mommments before I received mmy innvitationn. I saw it as a signn. A remminder of mmmy free will. I took the opportunnity and I ran."

A small frown had formed on his Ashen as she revealed her story to him. He remained quiet as the walked, paitently abosrbing her words. "ya ran huh." he muttered unconciously. "That's something I'm familiar with." Her situation was vastly different from his. Born to status, born to responsibility, and the weight of expectations that came with it. He observed her while her gaze was cast ahead of them. Her posture was rigid, firm, upright and strong and for the second time that day he found himself involuntary marveling at her inherent pulchritude. But the lunar suspected that beneath it all was vulnerability she feared to show him and quietly he burned essences once more to activate EMOTION REVEALING SCENT.

He smelt if from her, the fear, the shame, the regret. It washed over his senses and stirred a feeling of unease in him. He had brought up these unpleasant feelings in her and he had no kind words to but her back at ease. But...

Suddenly he turned to her. "Come with me a moment, there is something I should show you." Without waiting for a response he unthinkingly took her by the hand and led her down the hall.

He wasn't entirely familiar with the layout of Fakharu's spire just yet, but he had passed by a room that he was fairly sure was nearby, and in a few moments he had found it again. The jutty that extended from the main hall was different from the rest of the spire. Much of Fakharu's spire had been decorated with fine art and precious metal, it's architecture boasting much of gold and marble in its floors and walls, but this room was not for mere opulence would sully it.

The marble and gold tiles that comprised the the floor and walls was replaced by the scintillating collage of the five colors of jade and the luxurious artistry that covered the walls and ceiling gave way to phantasmagoria Starmetal, Orichalcum and Moonsilver that seemed to project light by themselves from the domed ceiling. The sheer vibrancy of the magical metals seemed to render the sophisticated decorations from before banal by simple presence alone. And what was more the artwork here was simple, surprisingly so, but is suffered no loss in gandure for it only needed to display twelve subjects of awe inspiring sight.

First, coiling around round five towering pillars of jade, were the five serpentine forms of massive dragons, each comprised excursively of one of the five terrestrial magical metals. Above them, surrounded by a series of constellations wrought of star metal, were engravings of five women who each carried a sign of one of the five planets. Center piece of all of this were two statues at the far end of the shrine. One made of moonsilver, that seemed to shift its features ever so slightly every so often between that of a woman or what could be an androgynous man.The other was of a towering armored man with four arms, forged of gleaming Orichalcum and in each hand holding a horn, A laurel, a shield and a spear.


The second they passed through the doors a feeling of weight seemed to descend on them, and a pulse of energy passed through them penetrating their bodies. It almost felt as if this room, this shrine was reacting to their presence, for each step of their feet on the floor gave another slight spark to pass through. The force of that energy felt slightly familiar to both of them. "I found this earlier, while I was wandering around... I think it's supposed to be a shrine to the Incarnae. The gods that created the exalted." Above them the eyes of the great statues staired down at them, measuring but not unkind.

Calliope pored over the figure— the first one she had noticed, the four-armed man. She felt as though the man was staring into her soul. He was intense and foreign to her. While her village typically worshipped deities such as Nasamara, Voharun, and Yaogin, somehow the figure before her was extraodinarily familiar. Had she seen this Great Being before? Perhaps when she Exalted, the patron had visited her, and she had long since forgotten.

In this room, she could sense the irrepressible weight of duty that rested on the shoulders of the Exalted, and in the presence of the Gods, this duty rested particularly on hers. It took her a moment before she noticed the shifting Lunar figure beside the Sun.

Ashen had adopted a pensive yet wistful expression while memories of the last two years returning to him. Unconsciously he squeezed the princess's hand and he pointed to the shimmering moonsilver statue. "Tha... is Luna, tha many face one, tha ever chanin' god o' tha moon an spiritual mother o' all Lunar exalted." There was a slight reverence in his tone and a small smile on his lips. How long had it been since that night in the forest, when he gazed on the face of that silvery goddess even if only for the briefest of moments. His arm shifted and pointed next to the formidable form of the Orchicalum statue. "Tha one next to 'er I'm not as familar with, but ay can make a clear guess tha e's the Unconqured Sun, patron of the solar exalted."

Calliope parted from Ashen, and stood before the great deity, ceremoniously unclad, as if she were wholly surrendering herself to Him. In the presence of the Sun, Himself, Calliope recalled the narrative told by the Immaculate Order, and the tales of conspiracy that were only whispered in quiet conversation in her village. The Princess frowned, her gaze trailed down to the patron's feet. That was something to discuss another day.

She turned, suddenly, to Ashen. The pink, young woman was quite a sight, standing in front of the golden giant. Her silvery hair cascading down her back. She chewed on her words as she posed her question. "Then..." She began slowly. "What is your plight?"

"My... plight?" He was slow to answer. Ashen was not used to divuldging his own secrets, for a mix of shame and fear kept him in the habit of bottling it away. And yet this interaction between him and the dawn caste had taken a turn towards something personal enough to warrant it. Perhaps it was the ambient atmosphere of the shrine or the private nature of her question, but now the lunar was suddenly reminded of how secluded the two of them were. Earlier he had been distracted by their flight from Astrid's pursuit and then their subsequent discussion, but now he couldn't ignore that he was alone with a... strikingly stunning woman. One that stood raw before him and the gods, unabashed with her current state and with the shining image of the towering golden idol behind her. Ashen's earlier composure cracked for a moment and he he fought the urge to blush as he looked away, wondering how he was the one left feeling bashful in this predicament.

Still though, she had opened herself and her troubles to him earlier, and now it was only fair that he do the same.

Hesitantly he began his confession. "I... brought ruin to my own family many years back. It was some years before I exalted. When I still lived here in the west; in a land called Wavecrest. I had angered a powerful group of rival pirates and they..." He stopped and took a breath. He felt his throat drying at the memory. "I remember coming up the road that day, after shore leave. We, my crew I mean, had tied off the ship and gone to enjoy our spoils with friends and family at home. When I reached the top of the hill I saw my family's farm burned. My father and both of my mothers were hanging by there necks from the tree out front. Then those same pirates came for me. And I fled. And they followed. They followed me all the way to the docks. I sought help from my crew mates, but they had been hunted as well. I sought refuge amongst my country men, but those that sheltered me suffered horrible fates. Eventually they harried me out Wave Creast, and soon from the western ocean itself. That was 6 years ago, and I have been in exodus since."

He paused, and his gaze returned to the silver statue of the Goddess of the moon. "Or at least I was. That changed the night Luna marked me as her Chosen."

While Calliope remained expressionless, she could feel anguish overcome her. It was a foreign feeling the people of her culture repressed. There was no such thing as grieving, only celebration of a life that ended in a blaze of glory. Or so it seemed. Calliope was never sure how genuine the overall enthusiasm is at Gladomeen Death Festivals. There was drinking, and music, and dancing; celebrating the lives of the fallen soldiers, and an honorable death! But the pain the eyes of the mothers of these soldiers- it was unmistakable. Calliope didn't truly understand grief, but in Ashen's words... she could some how feel it. Hearing his story brought new meaning to the word, and somehow she found herself empathizing with him. Her brow furrowed, and she gazed at the floor, folding her arms behind her back.

Impulse took Ashen and he reached up to undo the clasp that held his coat together. He looked her in the eyes. He hadn't told this story to anyone in years. "The day that 'appened, I had been fighting my own battle. Not for any nation or higher ideal, but for my own survival alone. As I had for most of my adult life." He slipped the over coat off and held it in his hands. "I had done some things that I'm not proud of in my cowardice and selfish desire to live. But that didn't matter to Luna enough to keep her from marking me as her chosen. Because in the end it wouldn't matter to her. Exaltion, at least as far as my mentor explained it to me, is like that of a second birth. Who we were, what we did, become irreverent in the face of what we choose to do and who we choose to become." He held the jacket out toward her. "I can't speak what it's like to have been through what you have endured, but I can say that you aren't bound by it. You aren't princess Calliope Lordes of Galdom, you're Calliope Lordes dawn caste solar of the unconquered sun. A woman I'd like to know better if she'd let me."

Calliope's transfixed gaze was drawn by the garnment being offered to her. Her eyes flicker between the coat, and Ashen. What did he mean by 'a woman I'd like to know better'? She didn't know, but in accepting the coat, she drew closer to him. "Thannnk you, I-" She composed herself. "Thank you." She longed for some comforting phrase to offer him, but there wasn't any such thing in her vocabulary. "I would be happy to tell you annnything you would like to know," she said, putting on the coat. "And, I thinnk that I would like to inquire mmore about a certainnn Lunar... as well... if he will allow it." The coat covered her well. It smelled like the seashore, and the brisk ocean wind.

"But you mmust forgive me." She said plainly. "It is not in my nnature to pry into annother's life. Or, I should say, it is frownnned upon in Gladomm."

Ashen smiled melancholy and shrugged. "Ye need be makin' no apology. T'would only be fair considerin' tha ay was pryin' into your business first." The discussion had gotten oddly personal between them. But... it felt somewhat good to have had it, and gotten some of that baggage off his chest. With Calliope now clothed in his coat the Lunar regarded the princess before him again. He would admit that she wore it well on her person. But it only had a single strap buckle across the chest to keep it closed. An odd design that kept it tight about the chest, something Ashen had thrown in for his personal preference but as result left a large 'window' of her abdomen. A thought went through the lunar's mind and his expression turned slightly mischievous.

"If ye still be wantin to make it up to me, I might 'ave a suggestion."

Calliope felt Ashen's eyes on her, and a bit of a draft. She pulled the coat tightly around her. A blush deepened the shade of her already pink cheeks. "And what mmmight that be?"

The lunar's grin grew wider and had to repress a chuckle at her timid response. Where as before she seemed entirely unconcerned with her undressed state, he found it endearingly amusing with her sudden bashfulness now that she actually had modesty to protect. "Oh not much just... if we be gettin' in the business of gettin' to know each other better than mabye 'er 'ighness t'would be willin' to indulge me and allow me ta resume holdin' a gorgeous woman in me arms while we continue our earlier walk." He put one leg behind the other and made a mock bow. "We could tour the island a bit more, talk a bit about our home lands, swap stories about our exaltions, I'd oggle yer tits some more..." He rouse again with another of his cheeky winks. "It'd be lovely I swear, perfect way for new commerads in arms to better acquaint themsevles."

The Princess gave him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this was some kind greeting in his culture. While Calliope didn't really think this was true, she decided she enjoyed being carried. Maybe it was a form of worship! And she was, after all, of noble blood. "Yes. I will allow it." Calliope said, throwing her nose up in the air. She marched to stand in front of Ashen, crossing her arms expectantly. "You mmay be so priviledged as to carry mme. I grannt you permmissionn." Calliope fastened the buckle across her chest tightly. She smirked. "But perhaps we will save annything mmore for whenn we becomme more acquainnted."

Ashen laughed softly. "Well then, I'' jus 'ave to fully enjoy the 'onor bestowed on me while we do." Placing one hand on her shoulder, he gently leaned her back and scooped her up by the legs till he was once again holding the princess bridal style. "Comfortable, Princess?" He asked as his bushy tail once more found it's way wrapping around her belly.

"Quite." She replied

He grinned. "Then let's be off!" Once more his moonsilver tattoos shimmered as he burnt essence through his soul. His anima sprang to life once more and the two of them flew fom the room at a brisk pace, leaving a trail of silver light in their wake.