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Princess Morgan the Graceful

A good princess is a servant not only to her country, but to her entire world.

0 · 1,134 views · located in Aires

a character in “Birthstone Spirits: The Great Escape”, as played by birthstone_spirits

Description

/A good princess is a slave not only to her country, but to her entire world./
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Princess Morgan the Graceful
|Proper|Squeamish|Fearful|Daddy's Girl|Gullible|Kind-Hearted|Weak Immune System|Romantic|

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Age: 17
Nation: The Rose Kingdom
Height: 5'6
Eyes: Gray
Hair: Honey Blonde
*Has very thin blood
*Becomes ill easily
*Has never set foot out of Ve Marie
*Likes to sneak out of the palace and frolic within the city's walls
*Because she is not the next in line for the throne, she is likely to move to a convent.

Princess Morgan is the second youngest daughter of King Rembrandt the Wholesome. She takes her duties as a princess seriously, but she does not deny herself a good time and is often seen skipping around town with a young, mysterious knight. Though she wishes her father would give her more freedom, she understands his concerns because of her tendency to become ill.

She enjoys the finer things in life, but doesn't hesitate to share her good fortunes with any passer-bys. She is, however, very neurotic, and fears the idea of germs or any harm done onto her.

She loves her life as it is and though she is religious, she regrets the day that she will be sent off to the Monastery of the Sun to become a maiden of the Goddess. She is very ignorant about the hardships of others and is very critical of downtrodden personalities.



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So begins...

Princess Morgan the Graceful's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Trent Cress Character Portrait: Harbinger XII Character Portrait: King Rembrandt the Wholesome
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It was easy enough to say that the battle had taken a toll on everyone. But it was over now, and the citizens were still cheering and chanting—throwing their expensive alcohol over the side of the great wall with red, gleeful faces. Tallyho, though not completely coherent and probably unconscious, could somehow feel the presences about her body. She did not however feel comforted by them until a cloth steaming with a familiar warmth dabbed her face dry.

Haru had not moved from his spot. Instead he sat there on the ground—knees bent and spread on the cobblestone like a child’s in the grass of a meadow. Breath shallow, eyes unblinking. Time seemed to run slowly for him and he did not resume the normal standard of time until callused fingers pressed into his shoulder. He looked up to see a decorated officer, one of a substantial ranking but not nearly as high as General Cress. He did not introduce himself but delved right to the point:

“All of you are to come with us.”

His voice was not authoritative however. It was actually quite accommodating. Almost as if he were saying, “Don’t have a place to sleep? Here we’ll take care of you—hospitality.”
And Haru found this particularly ironic because as his gaze panned back he caught sight of knights in the same uniforms that escorted them off to jail.

But Haru knew that they had nothing to fear this time and gave the blessing. Medics from the group moved in without warning, scooping up warriors who had collapsed from exhaustion or were significantly injured.
The walk they shared was no walk of shame. She knights did not bind the warriors by the arms and march them down the street. But meandered around them like agents of protection, offering a hand if someone stumbled. They were taken to a military occupied house where each party member was given a comfortable bed to share in the presence of about three others. They were fed, allowed to clean themselves up, and redressed (quite simply) before being left to rejuvenate before moving to what the knights assured them was going to be a more fitting location.

But they weren’t to leave until certain agreements where made. Haru was made aware of the required session well into the beginning of their stay and on the third day he was preparing to go to the courthouse.

“So what is this for again?” Tallyho asked flatly as she appraised Haru from the doorway for the main room, her thick hair pulled into swollen twin braids, a partially opened pomegranate clasped in her right hand.

Haru straightened his tie as he plucked at his form in the mirror.
“It’s politics.”

“What?”
“I am going out there to meet with the important people. To ensure the government’s support of the group and our protection.”
“…Okay?”
“All of you should be ready to move on to the next place by the time I get back.”
“And what if this doesn’t work?”
“Trust me, we can’t lose now.”

Haru didn’t leave much time for Tallyho to express her doubt before fleeing the scene. Black coattails slipping out the door.

Haru would be lying if he said that he wasn’t at least a little bit worried. His palms were sweating a bit—why he hadn’t felt this way since he was alive the first time. He guessed over and over in his head which authorities would be at the table: A cardinal from the church and a man from the military perhaps? Members from the king’s council? He tried to plan out what they would say, how he would respond to their questions, try to appeal to their interests.

But when he walked into the room he was a bit surprised to see who he saw. There were about twelve men in the room, all in various uniforms and from varying occupations in the government but towards the end of the table were three noble chairs. The first contained a more familiar body. There sat General Cress, a small scowl on his face but nothing overtly vicious. Across from him was an older man clad in regal apparel. A feather in the hat, puffy sleeves, a grand get up. It was only after a moment of pondering that Haru realized that this was King Rembrandt the Wholesome. The low key but celebrated king of Ve Marie, and unlike General Cress the King offered an expression of genuine welcome. Between them, at the head of the table was none other than the Grand Harbinger himself, his frail, ring clad fingers posed on the table like a mannequin’s.

And so the negotiations were to begin.

Those who stayed behind at the inn before the group was arrested were welcome to reunite with the group the day they prepared to relocate. When Karma caught sight of her adoptive father (Ryou) she clung to him mercilessly. On the day that Haru went to his meeting he came back with little more to say than a firm, “Let’s get out of here everyone.” And so she followed, not entirely sure of the situation at hand. They ended their escorted walk by the time it was sunset on a finely paved path before a grand gate. Before this gate stood a tiny, almost doll-like woman.

The little woman pushed her spectacles up to the bridge of her nose, with round frames that, despite how uncomplimentary they were to her face, long and thin as a grain of white rice, somehow grew to look fashionable the more one looked at her. And it wasn’t hard not to look at her. Her mousy hair was cut into a demure bob with bangs that hung over thin brows in heavy, even layers. Her aging ears peaked out from her locks occasionally, as she bobbed her head this way and that when speaking, revealing lobes that were beginning to grow downwards, and reminisced over heavy earrings worn in her youth. Fine wrinkles made vertical lines on the area above her lips and under her nose. It seemed as though she had pinched too many babies’ cheeks and made too many kissy faces for a normal person’s taste. She was small in stature, substantially shorter than Haru or Tallyho at least, with slender, no, dare I say, ‘twiggy’ limbs that moved with so much expression you might think they’d break by sheer velocity. She was a sharp dresser though despite her unconventional look. Her dress was red, a bold bright red with grand shoulder pads that squared out her frame nicely and long buttoned sleeves that cropped right at the wrist, and a petticoat that was fuller in the back, making her breast-less profile a bit more of a representation of what men in songs say when they mention ‘womanly curves’. As she pulled open the gates and walked them further down the path she did not neglect to mention that she made her own dresses. She hadn’t even introduced herself.

“I’m sure many of you have heard of the plaza, the most famous part of Ve Marie’s castle, but most of you might not have ever dreamed of entering. Yes, this has been the living complex of the royal family since its construction in 1300 A.B. Many of the royal family’s cohorts have lived here also, most recently our great Harbinger and now you.”

Tallyho shuffled slowly, taking it all in. The plaza was already supposed to be the most well-manicured thing on the continent and she hadn’t even gotten over the courtyard which was impeccably groomed and full of shrubbery cut into various, visually tantalizing shapes. Tallyho felt quite simple really. How did the flowers grow in perfect square plots according to color? How could nature do that? Grow red roses next to yellow with such a bold transition? Poor girl hadn’t even considered the fact that the gardener’s might have transplanted them. Nonetheless, her attention was taken to the assortments of marble people who posed frivolously around the grounds, heads thrown back, and water spewing from their puckered lips and onto fountains and pavement.

Soon they were entering the building. Two armored soldiers pulled open grand doors that were about as high as three Haru’s put together. As the group filed in, the chatty woman, now identified as Mildred, continued her speech.

“This is the stair room. Giovanni Rembrandt—who was the king in power at the time of the plaza’s construction—had marble imported all the way from the Sea of Milk in order the pave the floor. On the walls there are paintings of some of the Kingdom’s most valuable and legendary knights done by visual masters and national treasures such as Piku, Geoffrey the Red and Fenwick. And of course those two spiral staircases—which is why this is called the stair room—“

Mildred snorted at her own joke.

“The story behind these magnificent pieces of architecture was that when his Royal Highness Giovanni’s wedding anniversary was coming up he asked his wife what she wanted for such an occasion and she told him that she wanted more space. This surely put him in a dilemma because most of the castle’s important buildings such as the great library were already being built around the plaza, so he couldn’t knock those projects down. But she wanted more space. So he contacted a few skilled architects and they found that the only solution was to build upwards and they just never stopped. The plaza is already up to four stories, which is well over the limit if you ask me! Nevertheless, Kings after Giovanni realized this also and expansion on the plaza officially stopped in 1463 A.B, BUT there are still spots at the top of the plaza where fifth floor construction already started and was never attended to. Anyway, later on today I will show you how to get upstairs and how to get to your respective rooms. Did I mention you are living here? We have enough space in here for all of you to have your own spaces if you so choose. The royal family isn’t nearly as expansive as it was in years before. Come, come…”

Mildred made a turn down the hall and began to show the group other facets of the plaza. They stumbled across studies, baths, relaxation areas, most of which Haru found rather indulgent and unnecessary. Nonetheless, he listened when Mildred insisted on talking about what scandals the plaza has kissed and where and why.

Tallyho was the most excited about the dining room which was, in essence, the size of the academy’s dining hall but with one long food ridden table that everyone who lived in the plaza was allowed to sit at and partake in. Her mouth welled with warm saliva as she eyed the food which was continentally diverse and abundant in every way:
Baskets of produce, white corn grilled over the fire ready to be peeled from their husks and slathered with fresh butter. Strawberries and bananas huddled into bowls with peaches whose pits where buried in soft orange flesh, uncooked banya complete with its prickly peel and ready to be cleaved by prying, hungry fingers. Pies, meat and fruit alike, some small enough to warm just the palm of one’s hand, rose jelly of many varieties and colors, breads and puddings drowned in cinnamon and sugar. Fine cuts of tender meat, pork and beef and chicken and fish that wafted delicious aromas down the hall. Large shrimp and salmon wrung from eastward piers. Cabbage and ginger soups and hot cereals. Finger sized cakes accented with coco beans for decoration. Tallyho was extremely hesitant about leaving this room, and wished that the tour had ended there. Not just because she put more thought into foods than her actual peers but because that was probably the most well put together spread she had ever seen and she wanted to experience it before someone messed it up for all of them.

As they left the room Tallyho’s senses were overtaken by a soft, melodious sound. The calming whistle of strings and the ting of the harpsichord and suddenly a voice, a voice that upheld itself with a humble beauty.

“It seems she is practicing,” Mildred hummed quietly.

Just as she said this the voice died down, allowing the harpsichord and violin to dominate the melody, each chord and note vibrating with certainty and precision down the echo of the hall. Fingers bounced on the harpsichord’s keys with a special pep in a solo before the violin bellowed in with sharp, firm strokes of the bow. Mildred led them closer and the voice rang again, not singing actual words but frivolous ‘ah’s’ and ‘lah’s’ that were just enough to convey the chipper tone of the composition.

Tallyho, along with the others lumbered towards the room where two young women chimed away with their instruments and the third, very much like a candid song bird who slipped her way into someone else’s practice twittered away, her back to the door as the strangers entered.

Mildred urged them to be quiet until the young woman finished the piece, her soprano sent calming reverberations that could have urged the baby blue paint on the walls to shudder and melt.
Soon her voice became softer and softer until it was nothing. The young woman on the harpsichord peered at the large audience with curiosity. The violinist turned too. And soon the singer, with a slow grace turned her attention to the new distraction, a host of strangers fumbling through her plaza with saucer eyes.

Tallyho studied the young woman. Honey hair hosted a set of curls and not the kind of curls that Tallyho or Lillian wore. These were curls most likely for fashion if anything else—a purposeful beauty trend. Her heart shaped face and high cheekbones gave way to gray eyes that glimmered with a lust for life. Her lips were tight, as if she were trying to suppress a smile or a laugh, small white hands fidgeted at the skirt of her yellow dress. With a slight tilt of the head, the kind that, instead of for confusion, was used to condemn a rascal in the act while still being polite, the young woman spoke to Mildred.

“Now certainly you weren’t standing there the whole time?”

Her face was becoming pink and it was apparent that she was a bit embarrassed.

Mildred laughed, “Oh, don’t be silly Princess!” She turned to the warriors and gestured towards the girl who she had just referred to as a princess.

“This is Princess Morgan, the only daughter of King Rembrandt and the younger cousin of General Cress.”

Then she turned to Morgan.

“Princess, these are the Month Warriors. The only and true.”

Any grace the young woman had prior to introductions was thrown away in one brief moment. As the musicians behind her exploded into their own chatter of excitement. Morgan hopped slightly, her hands moving from the fabric of her dress towards the group in a gesture of disbelief.

“Oh! Oh, oh, oh! You were the ones who did the flock! Oh! How I wish I could have seem that! Oh I heard so much about it though from my cousin! I heard that all of you were Za-ping and pow-ing and the boom and bam!”

As the princess howled relatively unbelievable sound effects she moved with purpose, her tight fists punching the air daintily as she posed like a super hero from a 1950’s comic book.

“Okay, okay that’s enough Princess…”

“Oh do they have plans already? Let me take over the tour huh? I’ll show them their rooms, and take them to the gardens down the way if they really want!”

“Princess… I’m sure they don’t—”

“Ooooh Oh pleeeaaaase Mildred? Please?”

Mildred looked to Haru for approval. The cat guardian glanced around the room, relatively caught off guard. Why were they asking him anything? He thought he was off duty.

“Ah…Whatever is most convenient for you Princess…” he struggled to switch to his diplomatic cap.

“Oh just call me Morgan!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn
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(Note: This post is meant to move things along plot-wise. This plot-moving portion was suggested by Lauren herself and planned by her as well. I've just written it because God knows why. )

Things were moving now, the awkward but momentarily lull after the battle whisked away as medics hurried onto the scene, collecting the unconscious and wounded and prodding at those still standing as if to make sure that they too wouldn't suddenly collapse. Dorian allowed Tallyho to be carried away, satisfied with his work even if his handkerchief was in dyer need of a wash or two. Or ten. Regardless, he stuffed the piece of fabric back into his pocket- more because his clothes were a lost cause at this point and a little Tallyho-snot and extra blood couldn't ruin anything- and, waved off the ministrations of a nearby medic who retreated with some relief (Dorian liked to pretend it was because he didn't want to drag someone as tall as Dorian off, but deep down he knew with the amount of Cyclopean blood drenching his body wasn't helping his natural resting bitch face).

The walk this time was incredibly dissimilar to what they had endured the first time guards tried to take them anywhere. There were no jeering crowds, no pitying stares, no being sandwiched between two knights apparently intent on keeping you from having personal space. The atmosphere was lighter, loud and joyous, and the jeers had transformed into whoops of joy and shrieks of triumph. It was unnerving to feel like the center of the crowd's attention as one of the few month warriors still walking on his own, and he ducked his head. That didn't take the attention off him per say, but at least he didn't have to see anyone that way.

"Cheer up, Dorian. Wear your victory proudly, Mr. March Warrior," Ryou's hand was on his shoulder, even if his eyes were dancing over the crowd, searching for familiar faces. It occurred to Dorian then and only then how desperate Ryou must be right now having been locked in prison without any contact with his child, his students. The grip on his shoulder suddenly tightened and Dorian followed Ryou's gaze, picking through the crowd until he saw a blotches of pink and white suspended next to each other, waving frantically. Karma was perched on Liam's shoulders, probably shouting something indecipherable and Mori on Dae's, unmistakable tracks of fat tears of relief pouring down his pale cheeks. Ryou's grin was now blinding and Dorian couldn't help but crack a smile of his own.

When they arrived at the safe house, Dorian's destination was clear. He made a bolt for the bathroom practically diving into the heated water to wipe the gore off of his body. God, this was what he missed most- cleanliness and not smelling like he'd taken up volunteering at the local slaughterhouse. The prominent beginnings of a beard were shaved away leaving only one errant knick in his haste. Dressed in new clothes- and damn if they didn't feel better than any Armani suit or Versace shirt ever did (that was an absolute lie, but Dorian felt the occasion called for some exaggeration)- he finally allowed himself to sit down, eat, and to accept the fact that his muscles would never stop feeling sore.

The days passed swiftly until a certain nervous energy began plucking at the air. Maybe it was because something awful always happened when Dorian finally had time to put his feet up, but he couldn't find it within himself to simply relax. This feeling was heightened when Haru disappeared for a day with politics on his mind and hopes heightened by their victory. Ryou himself was about as badly off if not worse, lingering near the window during the day and tossing and turning at night. It seemed no matter how pleasant the housing, being separated from his students, his children was now nearly unbearable after catching a glimpse of them.

That was until the day of relocation when Karma burst into the house, rushing into Ryou's arms like a pink blur, Mori not far behind with Dae and Liam, lingering back with the sudden onslaught of affection from Kyle but only for a moment before joining in on the massive group hug. Dorian had to look away, not sure if it was out of his own reservations about PDA when Ryou started peppering their faces with kisses and seemed unwilling to let any of them more than a foot away from him or if it was to give them privacy as Mori quietly sobbed against Ryou's side and Dae and Liam clung to Ryou's hands fiercely. The older two separated after some time and congratulations were apparently in order for the month warriors and didn't it feel damn good to have people who had taught them, who had watched them grow into the people they were today, praising what they'd done?

He followed Haru without any hesitation, taking up his default position by Tallyho's side until they arrived at their destination. A grand gate loomed over them and he took a moment to marvel at it before they were approached by their guide.

Mildred certainly made an impression. Small in stature, she dominated the space she stood in with her bold outfit leaving him suitably impressed by the fact that she'd designed it herself (no one should be that surprised- he knew his designers with all of the expertise of someone who had unlimited access to far too many fashion magazines and who also had to dress a man whose idea of formal wear included a bright yellow shirt and an vivid, polka-dotted orange tie unironically).

She played tour guide with an immense amount of expertise, leading them through Ve Marie's castle with an onslaught of information as if to make sure that they were appropriately amazed and humbled by being able to see within the castle's walls. And it was magnificent, no doubt about it, and for the first time in a long time Dorian let himself simply enjoy the experience. It was clearly the creme de la creme of Airian society, unnecessarily extravagant but serving its purpose of grandeur.

The music was the first thing to distract Dorian from Mildred's monologue. He may have been able to purposefully ignore the delightful scents wafting from the dining hall with all sorts of meats and sweets to tempt and tease the palate coquettishly, but he would never be able to ignore the strains of what was unmistakably a violin dancing with the strains of a harpsichord. There was a third sound as well, a delicate almost fragile melody of not-quite-words intertwining with the music, like a small bird tittering away in a high but pleasing tune. Even if they hadn't stumbled upon the room (or not stumbled- Mildred would never do anything so frivolous as stumble), he would have spotted the singer instantaneously, just as petite and sweet looking as her voice as a blush rose on her cheeks.

He shouldn't have been surprised that she was a princess, but he felt perfectly justified in his shock that she was related to General Cress. The thought was pushed aside for a time as the lady-like impression Princess Morgan so dutifully gave off shattered with her exuberant whoops(although Dorian wasn't exactly sure how good any of them came off if General Cress was the one telling the story) and excited gesticulations. She seemed more a child than anything, but that wasn't bad. In fact, it was rather pleasant and absolutely charming given the people he'd been dealing with up until now. It was, however, completely overwhelming for someone to act as if they were actually heroes, not a ragtag group of often bickering and dramatic young adults who just barely survived everything that ever happened to them.

She was begging now to take them on her own tour, an insider's look at the palace, and who were they to refuse? When her wish was granted, she swept out of the room movements too excited to be graceful as they started on Grand Tour: The Sequel. Except, of course, it wasn't too terribly grand. For all of her enthusiasm, her mind was scattered, jumping from one subject to another in an eternal game of hopscotch. Here she went on about her favorite hiding place as a child, just perfect for hiding from nurses and maids before her mind wandered to a particular vase that she'd nearly broken once. They spent the majority of the tour in the gardens once more, Morgan dancing through the foliage like a particularly distracted fairy, stories trailing off into new ones and points half made. While it wasn't nearly as educational as Mildred's dutiful recounting of the castle, it was infectiously fun.

The tour bled into dinner where they were presented with a meal far grander then they were used to although not as large as one would assume when dining with royalty. Of course, to be fair they shouldn't have been eating with the Princess- she'd simply refused to leave. Morgan plopped down between Mori and Karma seemingly finding kindred spirits in the two children who had only just now agreed to let go of Ryou after clinging to him all day, although her conversation carried over to anyone and everyone who would listen. It was nice, for once, and Dorian found himself speaking slightly more than usual, adding an odd comment every once in a while between carefully cutting up his meal (and wasn't it something to have different spoons for soup and dessert) and idly pushing any and all banya products from his plate to Tallyho's.

The evening came to a close as they were dropped off at what Mildred had dubbed "the stair room", with instructions on how to find their rooms. The rooms were for individuals, a luxury that no one had known to expect, although some chose to stay in their rooms together, like Karma who refused to leave Ryou's side and the Academy Three who were about as likely to sleep alone as Dorian was to, say, have coffee with a Cyclopean. He hated coffee. Then and only then did Princess Morgan leave their side, cheerfully calling out goodnights until she disappeared from sight.

Most retreated to their rooms automatically, drawn by the promise of soft beds and clean sheets. Others lingered, socializing as they pleased even as the night wore on. Soon it was late, the moon high in the sky and the stars twinkling and illuminating the sky.

It was after tucking Karma in and waiting a moment until soft snores began to emanate from her small body that Ryou left his room. He made his way silently down one of the halls housing the guest rooms, rubbing tired eyes as he passed by closed doors. His destination wasn't that much of a surprise as he stopped outside Haru's room, raised hand hesitating for almost a moment before knocking gently against the door. As much as sleep called to him promising him his first restful sleep in ages now that he had his children back, he'd seen the nervous look on Haru's face, the strain pulling at his friend and, as with all things Haru, he wasn't able to resist.

Dorian too had strayed from his rooms, but for something far more pleasant. He'd been with Tallyho, her room illuminated by candlelight and the artificial glow of his cellphone. It was only a quick trip, at first, to check in on how she was settling in and to get a charge for his phone, but he'd quickly been drawn into their art game as they scrolled through the saved images on his phone. But now it was getting late, both already letting out a chorus of yawns until the call of sleep seemed unavoidable.

"Right again. Vincent Van Gogh," he nodded, exiting the screen from the swirling "Starry Night" painting. He sat up from his place on her bed, stretching broadly, fighting against lingering aches and pains. "And that'll be all for tonight. Get some sleep, Tallyho." The advice fell on deaf ears, Tallyho having fallen asleep sometime after giving her last answer. He smiled briefly, pulling the covers of her bed over her before blowing out the candle. The room was still eerily bright from the moon peeking in from the window as he made his way to the door only to hear… Only to hear something outside. He paused, an ear to the door. Was it someone? Yes, it was. It sounded like someone pacing up and down in a tight circle outside the door. What in the world…? Should he wait for them to leave if only to avoid having to talk to someone else?

Nope, he decided as he fought back another yawn. With any luck he'd make it by the person with nothing more than a cursory "hello, goodbye" and be in his room before it. Besides, it was probably just another one of the month warriors or guardians trying to tire themselves out before bed. With that in mind, he moved to the door, opening it slowly, eyes searching for the nighttime pacer if only to better avoid running into them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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#, as written by Linnea
Though Dorian’s efforts would have been appreciated, Autumn could not feel the gentle breeze caressing her face. The blonde was out cold and it seemed that there was no chance of her waking up any time soon.

Kit nodded to Ryou and sat next to Autumn. All he could really do at the moment was watch her. He had no medicine to help her and his arm was still healing from its fracture. His labors during the battle only further exacerbated it, meaning he would have to rest it.

“Thank you for the help, Dorian, but I’ve got it from here on out. You rest.” Kit said, feeling the air around him for some sort of indication of spiritual presence. Due to the warmth, he assumed most were gone.

The warrior was carried away to be treated and for the first time in his life Kit was lead through the streets of the Rose Kingdom as a hero.

By the third day, Autumn was still tired. Though many seemed like they recovered, she remained as a constant reminder of just how hard they fought. She moved sluggishly and yawned often, though she tried to cover this as much as possible to save face.
Kit had purchased her a new dress during this time to replace the battle torn rag she had been wearing. Its fall colors emphasized her month’s season, but she hardly looked as if she represented the hard working time of harvest. Her eyes were dim and tired. Even when the academy students were reunited with Ryou and the rest of the group, she found it hard to be cheerful. It was Kit who smiled.

The November Guardian was astonished as he entered the plaza. His hazel eyes scanned the area before him as he took in everything he could. He had been in the plaza before, though his visit was hardly welcome or legal. His departure was even more scandalous, but that was something he didn’t like to talk about.

Kit felt rather guilty, or perhaps a touch nostalgic, as he followed Mildred. The pit in his stomach coupled with his heavy heart made for an incredibly uncomfortable feeling. This didn’t, however, stop him from taking everything in.

He had been hasty back then, not even noticing the flowers. Though, it wasn’t the flowers he was after back then. To think he of all people had the honor of living there! Kit listened to the mousy woman, truly interested in what she had to say. This only made Autumn more miserable as the tour progressed. Her guardian was like the smart kid in class who got excited about quadratic equations. Though his elation was similar to such, he remained composed.

The dining room was the first room that Autumn cared about. Food meant energy. Even more, this was good food. She eyed the puddings from afar, intent on eating as much of them as she could when she returned.

On most occasions, the gentle sounds coming from the room would not be unwelcome. However, they only further exhausted Autumn. Though they would have made for a wonderful tune on any other day, Autumn was left trying to hold back a yawn. The desire, however, quickly disappeared as soon as the princess began to speak. Autumn greatly enjoyed her time with the princess as the tour guide, finding her bubbly nature to be intoxicating. If not for her weary state, Autumn would have gladly spoken with similar joy and energy. However, she was far too tired for that and was one of the first to go directly to bed.

Kit sat by her bed, his brow furrowed in concern.

“Autumn, it’s three days after the battle and you’re still like this.” He said, anxiously twisting the ring on his finger.

“Mhmm…” Autumn grumbled from underneath her blankets.

“Far be it from me to tell you how to manage energy, but this doesn’t look good. These symptoms have never persisted for more than a day or so.”

“I haven’t worked as hard before.”

“I know, but it’s my job to take care of you. It’s only natural that I’ll get concerned. How about I stay over here for tonight so I can watch over you? I’m sure you’ll be fine, but it’ll ease my nerves.”

“Sorry, but I just want to be alone right now. It’s just… I don’t want to be around anyone right now. I’m too tired. Besides, if anything bad happens the spirits can help me out.”

“Well, if you insist…” Kit left the room, a bit baffled. Normally Autumn clung to people when she was in a weakened state. Perhaps she had grown up a little?

The guardian roamed the halls for a while, looking at whatever valuable item caught his eye. If only he had more time, he would have loved to study the history of the halls. To touch just one artifact would be a delight. However, it wasn’t his place. Frankly, anyone who let him get too close to even the dullest of paintings would be a fool. Though his hands were gentle around such objects and his knowledge vast, his history with the building and the treasures that lay inside of it was hardly positive. Hopefully, no one remembered this.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Aria Delaine Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel
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/I want you, Autumn, Kyle, and Tallyho to get on a platform and come up for the second wave. Tell the others to hold ground.\
/Yes, sir.\

"Ouff..." Lillian muttered as she was stumbled into by Haru, clenching the wall she leaned on tightly to keep her balance. Her look of absolute calm faded with a sharp glance at the other Guardian in obvious confusion and concern, until she caught the glint of his eyes regaining a sense of self. Humm. She remembered that look and the feeling that came with it well, and not just on anyone (all though, like Haru, they weren't insignificant by any means) - but specifically, herself. That had been a long time that talking verbally was scarce in asking others assistance or announcing plans or anything really. It was good to see Falke seemed to have worked his rather small achieved chunk of September's gifts enough in order to use it in the midst of battle successfully, even though that hit on his head early that she'd caught the end of with an inward sympathetic wince hadn't helped him much she suspected. “Alright let’s lower a platform.” Lillian nodded, moving to aid Haru and other guardians near the cranks to help haul up the warriors that were called up for the second wave.

Falke back-pedaled from his latest kill, blowing a shaky, hot breath, whirling his weapon into a defensive hold, as he collected his bearings to the direction of the platform and the others' scattered mental activity. He took off shortly in a painful, gimping, but ground-covering lope toward the wall, even as he called on his mental powers with a struggle to be heard over the ringing in his head.

/Tallyho, Autumn, Kyle: Get to the platform and come up for the second wave.\
/Everyone else hold ground!\

"FALKE! TALLYHO! AUTUMN! KYLE!"

Falke arrived the last at the platform, struggling against the soapy muck sticking to his boots and water weighing down armor and clothes alike, hauling himself unto it with a grunt of pain and wistful snarl of the sheer effort on his lips. The damped wood of the platform creaked and groaned as it began steadily moving upward, and it wasn't long until they had reached the top of the wall. Uneasily, he swung himself over the lip, with careful emphasis as he landed of not putting any more weight than necessary on his bad left leg with its' tattered and splintered brace and screaming muscles and achingly sore bones. Tilting his head to listen with a painful wince of focusing over his own weariness and exhaustion and others' similar thoughts and emotions weighing heavy on his mind on Haru as he pointed and divided out orders.

“Do exactly what you were doing down there but without the fighting part. Focus more.”

Falke nodded warily in ascent, stalking back to lean against the wall, hands gripping tight the stony lip. He looked for all the world to be resting from the battle, but the reality as he scowled down from above on the battle like a particularly cranky gargoyle, sightless eyes looking bemused as they floated here or there, focusing for a moment before moving on, he was bringing his passive mental powers (what little he had) up to play more, without the added distraction of being killed. Quelching the doubts of his power on the back burner, and focused.

It was much easier than he had imagined, a floating, ethereal short of feeling, of moving around in the minds of those fighting, those trying to eat them, and relaying the viable or worth wild information back to Haru. He'd always had a sharper will and resulting knack for the physical training he supposed, especially with how comfortable he'd become with using his weapon and love of fighting despite his disability. He'd worked hard to be able not to just rely on these supposed mental powers eventually becoming more useful than knowing the latest gossip before everyone else or knowing anyone's else secrets (sometimes before they themselves knew they had one, or more), and just kicking in to save him one day. But now with a couple steadying breaths, not busy worrying about being eaten, and ignoring the slight but growing pressure beating on the instead of temples; his abilities were proving to be a little more useful.

On, and on, and on the battle went, until...
Falke paled, blinking in shocked disbelief as he intently glanced with as much focus as he could toward the dark hills in the distance. He didn't have any words to really describe it for Haru, because all he were the screams of 'little' cyclopean trampled underfoot - it was big and it was coming. Nor did he really need to speak as a growing sense of panic and dread was emitted from those of the city, as the top of this monstrosity head rose above the hills in the distance, coming closer, and visually becoming a larger threat. No one would appreciate a running commentary of what they could see for themselves.

“Call them all back!"
/Fall back! Get to the platform now!\

When the others finally returned to the top of the wall, the behemoth moved closer, crushing its' shrieking brethren beneath its' massive appendages with each heavy, lingering step. He could hear as much as feel Tallyho's thick, snob-covered sobs of anguish of pulling herself and her energy together, but did not dare give her anything more than the presence of mind, in order not to distract her; Kyle's wavering confidence and determination as exhaustion pulled hard at his abilities for his attention, but like Tallyho he did not offer any what he deemed distracting support (not that the April warrior would even bother to listen for some absurd reason); and Haru's howling commands.

In a magnificent finale of a climactic battle: Water roared. Nearly invisible electricity crackled. The bang of the cannon, and wiz of the cannon ball careening through the air, striking its target dead in the center with a thundering thud. Then the shattering of the beast, shards sleeting down in an oddly beautiful crystalline melody. It was over, they had all managed to survive.

A select few of the Month Warrior group was left standing, while others crumpled into unconsciousness via sheer exhaustion of battle fatigue or overwhelming use of their powers sapping them of their strength, and/or more pressing concern like an open, bleeding red, red human blood, wounds causing their falls. Falke was one of those that had remained barely staying upright, exhausted from the battle and strenuous use of his abilities, but had not moved to help like some who were still able could and did. Frankly he did not think he would have been able to if he tried...

His eyes were impossibly wide, glinting in confused, fearful, and silent agony, air in their depths. With the start of the sudden, wild roar of hope and disbelief from the entirety of Ve Marie, followed continuously by joyous cheers and shrieks of triumph, at the battles' conclusion; came the influx of similar to his own emotions and thoughts without a purpose of being use for some rhyme or reason, bashed into his open mind, hard. He supposed he'd opened himself to much, and overextend his abilities. It was hard enough to remember himself as Falke, instead of so-in-so, crammed and pressuring in terrific migraine that would make anyone's sanity run for the hills; but it was bad enough to mask the soreness of his bad leg, and the ringing blow on his head that would no doubt bruise in time he suspected.

In short order, things began moving as medics hurried onto the scene to collect the unconscious and too wounded to walk and prodded at those still standing so see if they too wouldn't suddenly collapse on the walk to a place of rest. Falke as battered as he was physically and felt mentally, waved off the ministrations of a medic, not wanting any contact to inspire anymore of the painful hiccup he was already experiencing due to his powers. He gimped an uneasy, weary gait, between the guards that gave him personal space quite unlike there first time. Head down, and teeth gritted in a snarl hidden under pursed lips, as they made their way through the crowd, trying to collect his scattered mind and ignore the celebration of being a 'hero' of the city folks around them.

Arriving at the safe house, Falke had managed to calm himself down enough to have enough presence of mind necessary for a bath to clean him of the blood, sweat, and grime from the battle, and dress himself in fresh, clean clothes. Before passing out in an uneasy slumber, too queasy to attempt to eat anything as of yet...

---

To say things were getting better for every warrior over the three days of rest would have been an understatement. Certainly the better treatment, living conditions, food, and the ability to a much needed bath; definitely helped, no doubts about it. But Falke found himself struggling to remain silent as he hid what felt at times a fading of his sanity.

What could only be truly described as the result of an overextending on his grasp of his mental powers during the battle of the Flock. It was having too many others' reckless thoughts and emotions running rampant, and doubling his own mindset's similar thoughts and emotions with each recurring person. Twelve had already felt like too much rattling around in one head, but then considering the addition of the few Guardians their group contained thus far and the various Cyclopean on top of that, AND then... The crowd, nigh the whole city of Ve Marie in all reality, had roared in exhilaration and disbelief that the battle had been won by beating the monstrosity and the month warriors were officially back. Nor, he supposed, did his battered head with a bruised temple ending with a sweep into a black eye, and likely concussion to match, did not help matters much either.

It was like having PTSD in a matter of speaking plainly. Not that his thoughts and emotions would have normally bothered him so drastically to feel like he was losing himself and his mind. All though he wouldn't have put himself past the stray nightmare or two after the fact, if thinking honestly about what they had all gone through. But the sheer struggle of having so many similar post traumatic thoughts and emotions of everyone from the battle still lingering fresh on his mind, having not petered off like they hopefully would have by now, that felt horrible to have to experience over, and over, and over again. He didn't know what to do to fix himself, except silently suffer through it, riding it out like a bad migraine, and hope it would get better over time. Oh, bloody hell, really, what other disorder would be able to match quite as well to magic power issues from another world suck sometimes on the disorder list other than that.

There was an odd flutter of his shoulders, a repressed jerking spasm of anxiety, and twittering, clasping repeatedly into a fist, fingertips, that wasn't uncommon now in the three days after the battle. It was the only way his roughly PTSD condition came out was by quivering muscles, being that he had had learned quickly to bite his tongue over the shuttering, pitiful moans that had occurred with them at first (right after one of the first haunting nightmares, very difficult to ignore or forget for hours afterword). However, he mostly put it off that he'd stepped off wrong on or hit his bad leg again, or a breeze had just caught him right for some jitters, only if anyone brought it up after noticing it and asked him about it. A white lie or two seemed a higher alternative than saying he felt he was losing himself, during the effort to regain his own mind again. Otherwise, Falke kept to himself, quiet, and avoiding any additional attention.

On the day of relocation, Haru had disappeared out the door with political purpose on his mind, and the Academy three (well, the three Elites that were still with them) and Karma returned shortly after there departure - Falke found himself reluctantly trying to force himself out of the room where he'd hid himself and his shaking issue for most of the day, under the guise of not feeling up to standing on his feet more than need-be at a given time, to give them a warm nod of a greeting from afar and a thankful murmur in return for the praises for what they had done the older two gave. It wasn't long before Haru returned, rounded everyone up for another escorted walk until they arrived at a grand gate.

Mildred certainly made an verbal impression at the very least. She played a smart and well put together tour guide extremely well as she discussed the history of the palace grounds with an astute and studied air. But the talk of unnecessarily extravagant but grand enough for its' purpose to awe and humble of the architecture, especially the two sets of bloody staircases, was wearing thin on him. Or, a better use and precision of language would instead discuss how he knew a shuddering episode would come soon and despite the finer materials used to construct a new splint around his leg to aid his walking (it really got sore after a while, truthfully).

The music was the first thing to distract Falke from Mildred's and his own internal monologue. The sweet sounds of violin stings humming and the harpsichord twinkling, dancing together with a fragile but pretty voice intertwining with the musical instruments in a high but easy on the ears tune. As they appeared at the edge of the room near the song's end, the singer was introduced as Princess Morgan. Her lady-like impression and carefully articulated words fell flat quickly, as she exuberantly whooped and darted into a display of the story of the battle like an comic character.

Then she begged to take them on the tour, and while it wasn't nearly as educational as Mildred's dutiful recounting, he thought it was just as tiring if not more so by her wandering thoughts, and varied stories. Falke found himself slowly but surely gimping further behind than the main group, the lagging tail of the comet as it were. Wordlessly, he would catch up until as they started moving on again to the next distracted lead would take them.

Eventually the tour bled into dinner, with the Princess refusing to leave and offering cheerful continued conversation with anyone who would continue. Falke obliged not to join, and remained silent - as he carefully cut up his meal into bite sized pieces, and enjoying the ability to be able to sit down for a time without being required to move any further. Having finished his meal, he waited for their next destination after everyone else finished their own plates, hands clenching and fingers shaking (thankfully his shoulders didn't feel like joining them, this time) as they were hidden under the table.

The evening ended as they were dropped off at the stair room, with instructions on how to find to find their rooms, rooms for individuals. After a painful, but steady climb, Falke retreated to his own room automatically. The promise of soft beds, clean sheets, getting off his feet, and out of the presence of 'people'; were expressly inciting for him, especially given that any amount of sleep would be nice - knowing full well a handful of nightmares was always a possibility...

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Ondine Azur
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By the time they reached earth-level ground, it seemed that Harper had quickly rebounded back to his usual self. Loud. Obnoxious. Cracking jokes inappropriately given the situation they just went through. Laughing. He seemed to be more like himself than he had been in a long time.

Yet he knew, as much as he tried to pretend he didn't, that everything was a little more hollow than before. A bit less soul-filled. Emptier. His personality had always been a front before, but now it felt even more like a mask. Thin plaster that hadn't quite dried yet.

He knew Ondine could see through it. He could see it in her eyes. A knowingness rested there...a "you're being an asshole, but I know why" look...was it pity?

He just hoped his friends wouldn't be as perceptive.

If he still even had friends.

Xabi had been whisked off for medical attention. Selfishly, Harper hadn't worried over him. There was himself he had to take care of. Walls and windows he needed to re-erect. Besides, those medics would be able to take care of him better than he could. Not to mention he remembered their promise to keep 'them' secret. It seemed in the heat of the battle, he had gotten careless.

For all the effort he put on during the day, night left him vulnerable. Dreams haunted him, kept him awake, worse than before. If they didn't feature the gargantuan cyclopean destroying New York City and eating him specifically, or the entire horde coming at him in the middle of a desert, then it was that moment when Xabi had nearly been offed. Except in his dreams, he always got there too late. And sometimes it was Sadie. Or Skylar. Or even Dorian. Once, it had been himself.

And when his brain tired of that, it was falling again. Falling and falling. Sometimes with the twist of falling into a Cyclopean's open mouth.

He woke up with shouts and screams from all of these. He would have apologized to his roommates, but to apologize would mean to acknowledge they had happened. By the second night, he was put in a room with just Ondine.

On tour, he lingered between Xabi and Skylar, making snide comments to whoever would listen. He groaned when he heard the plaza had four floors, and shook his head when the small woman who reminded him of a certain character from a certain Pixar animated film suggest that she could show them how to get to the top.

No sir. No sir indeed.

It wasn't until the music reached their ears that things started to take a turn for the worst.

At the first note of the soprano female voice, Harper's stomach dropped.

As they grew closer, his eyes widened.

And when he saw the singer in question, he nearly fainted on the spot.

Blond hair. Light eyes. High voice, singing operatically. Lilting above, singing something classical no doubt. And then that head tilt, that smile, the tonality of her voice...

He heard the name "Morgan" be said. But all he saw was Alice.

Shit shit shit shit shit.

Throughout the rest of the tour, small things stuck out. Differences. Alice's hair was lighter, and not as curly. Morgan's eyes were gray, not blue. Alice's face wasn't as round. Her lips fuller. Morgan's voice sounded just a little higher, and while Harper remembered Alice as playful and airy, she also had a sharpness to her that this princess was missing. There was difference between being footloose and fancy free and flat-out childish. And Alice had always been a bit more...collected of herself. Measured. A handful of hard candy mixed with two toffees. A leather jacket with a pink slip. A packet of strawberry pop rocks with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. One third reckless mixed with two thirds proper.

Morgan, it seemed like, was 100% pure sugar.

But then again, Harper used to think Alice was the spontaneous explosion of contradictions that just happened. This was before he realized just how precise of an equation she was.

He supposed her realizing vice versa about him was what had finally done it. That, and one other thing.

Still, he couldn't keep his eyes off her. Even when she left, his gaze followed, and she was all he could think about as he ate quietly. But now, while earlier Alice and Morgan seemed to blur together, he picked apart all the differences, and told himself that nothing would work out with Morgan because nothing had worked out with Alice. That made sense, didn't it?

Besides. Wasn't he happy with just Xabi?

Just Xabi...just Xabi...

uh oh.

That night he dreamed he was drowning. Seconds before he'd black out, Nella Fantasia would sing out in female soprano, muffled at first, but with each word growing clearer and clearer until it pierced through like a spear to the chest. Eyes open, he would try to reach back to the surface, a pale face surrounded by gold fluttering through the rippling waves, singing and singing, but just as he broke through, the face vanished while the voice continued.

On some iterations of the dream, he was sure it had been Alice singing. On others, Morgan. But for most, he was never quite sure who it was. And that, more than anything, was what made it so frightening.

For all the sleep he didn't get, Harper was back to his usual self the next morning. He spend most of his day split between avoiding the Princess while still trying to get a glance of her, and swimming. The bathtubs were basically swimming pools, and it had been a while since he'd been in freshwater. Swimming was blissful, and helped him clear his mind again.

The night passed without much incident.

The parade was the sort of frivolous spectacle Harper both hated and loved. As they suited him and the others up, he couldn't help but wonder how they could spend money on this when there were no doubt homeless and other issues to attend to. Such was the blessing of the rich. A blessing he himself had, as much as he might try to rid himself of it.

Up on the horses, it was a somewhat bland affair until melodies started to clash. Peering up from his steed, Harper spotted the crowd parting from a smaller group of blondes. It didn't take long for him to realize they were the source of the competing song. Not that he minded. He liked this melody better.

The group was loud, obnoxious, and joyous. And it suddenly hit him why they looked familiar. His eyes flitted to Tallyho, a few horses in front of him. Yep. Exact same hair. Was this her family? He smiled at the thought, but then his eyebrows furrowed. Her family seemed awesome. Why was she such a stick in the ass?

There's always one he thought with a small shrug.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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Note: This post is going to be a big skip briefly going over some of the weekend’s events leading to the ceremony thing. Hooray~~~

Tallyho was able to force tears back into her head. But this didn’t stop her mind from wandering in the night. They had found her. And under any circumstances she might have been upset about this, yet she felt happy to know that they found her in this state. Mounted on the kings horses, celebrated by the oppressors. Imagine that—a sun person—a month warrior.
The next couple of days had the same glamor and appeal that the parade day had. But it seemed that as each day zipped past the total luxury of the events and all of the work put into them became more obvious. Tallyho thought that the parade came across as a bit disorganized (and oh, when in Goddess’ name did she start critiquing organized celebration anyway?) but she came to realize the next day that getting the performers in line, their costumes, and the military men out of their drunken stupors from a night of debauchery really had Mildred running. Even though the month warriors did their final measurements for their custom made gowns and suits, Mildred still had to find clothes for them to wear at other events. Saturday before the mass, the king requested a sudden breakfast with the month warriors—a get to know you of sorts. Mildred seemed to come up with clothes for that and had them sent to each warrior and guardian’s door early in the morning.

King Rembrandt wasn’t what a naïve girl like Tallyho would imagine a king to be. To Tallyho, Kings were disgustingly pompous, self-serving, stoic figures of power whose life objectives were to squander and steal land from opposing kingdoms and bend the tax system in the favor of their gold pouches. Rembrandt was almost a horribly done parody of such a figure and Tallyho thought this in the nicest way possible. Every time he started to say something pompous—something that could also be accompanied by an upward pointing pinky—he did something ridiculous: A large crumb of bread hanging very obviously from his rusty beard or a ridiculous belch escaping him. And every time it happened, he recognized how stupid he seemed. And instead of getting mad about it, he laughed it off. Tallyho could certainly see where Morgan got her jolly disposition.

The way that Morgan interacted with her father was also an interesting sight. While most girls might be embarrassed of their father’s gas, Morgan laughed giddily with him. At some point during the breakfast she attempted to make herself burp only to be scolded by a very stressed Mildred. During the meal Morgan and the King spoke fondly of a missing family member. A brother—Tallyho couldn’t quite remember his name off the top of her head—who was the head of the military. The blonde’s thoughts instantly turned to Trent but her speculations were squashed when Morgan clarified.

Trent was the official head of the military while her brother was off on a military campaign. He was her cousin—the first born and only son of King Rembrandt’s younger brother.

Trent came in to eat with them a little bit later but he was unusually detached. It was almost as if he was bored with taunting the month warriors which, knowing him, wouldn’t be that far from the truth. He did however, to Tallyho’s surprise, greet Dorian by name upon sitting down. He didn’t sit next to the March warrior, or even continue a conversation with him, but the fact that he recognized Dorian in a respectful enough way baffled the blonde. She wasn’t sure if Dorian would catch her gaze, but after the fact she turned to him, green eyes full of confusion and interest.

Later they had to change again. For mass, Mildred made sure that everyone wore white. However, she didn’t bother to make that a requirement for party members like Dae, Liam, Mori, and Karma. Tallyho had never done anything like it before, but the mass was exactly what she would expect. It took place in the same great chapel where they tested themselves as month warriors. It was funny to Tallyho, being there again. And what killed her the most was that there was still a sizable amount of people hovering around the building, claiming to be month warriors!

Even though the event was supposed to be highly spiritual—a candle lit sermon and prayer with all the pews filled armrest to armrest with international royals and diplomats—Tallyho could feel nothing at all. Maybe it was because she wasn’t used to worshiping like this (or worshiping at all for that matter) but the entire display just went over her head. But there were some that seemed to genuinely immerse themselves in the experience. Haru—who was very noticeably not sitting next to Ryou—seemed like he would fall to pieces if his attention was taken away from anything the Harbinger had to say. And she couldn’t blame Haru for listening so closely to him. The Harbinger wasn’t a screamer or a preacher but he spoke with such an ethereal presence that it felt like he was telling you the meaning of life and that everything he was saying was indisputably true. It was just too bad that Tallyho couldn’t bring herself to become as involved as Haru. She only hoped that the goddess wouldn’t smite her.

Hours before the party, Tallyho decided that it would be a good idea to bathe before squeezing into yet another dress. She was a little surprised at herself for bathing so frequently considering the fact that the Month Warriors had done without regular bathing for quite some time since the academy was burned down. And even at the academy they only managed to get a bath every few days just because the lake would get a little too crowded or they had training or chores. After a servant woman warmed and filled the tub, she helped unlace Tallyho from her constraining dress. As this went on, Tallyho appraised her body. She wasn’t one to look in mirrors but she couldn’t help but notice a few changes since the last time she observed herself. She always had a more angular face than most children, but these days her jaw and cheekbones seemed to mold into straighter angles, her face more feline like, more womanly. She looked more like Lillian, not that Tallyho particularly minded, but it was…different. Where Tallyho had once developed a tan back in her days at the academy and on the ship, she was now fairly pale from being trapped underground in prison—probably paler than she was when the journey first began.

Her corset was undone and the servant left. With little effort, Tallyho shed the dress like a snake from its old scales, seething and hissing with mild disgust at the contours of her figure. How the outlines of ribs ran so close to the surface of her thin, cold skin. She stepped into the water. Never before had she noticed herself having body issues. So why was it now, after achieving a comfortable living condition and nothing to do but eat and be praised, that she was beginning to swallow these spoonfuls of self-loathing? She had only been living this way for what? A week and a half? So why was it that in the days of struggling in that goddess-forsaken prison, on the boat, at the academy, goddess, even in the days prior to the adventure, that Tallyho hadn’t thought twice about her own quality? She usually resigned to knowing that she was good enough. Period. And on the battlefield, while some quivered about what a liability they were for the team, she threw herself into the fray blindly. Not because she was more capable or more of a hero but because what else was she supposed to do? She felt that she was capable so she did it! And now that she’s here, taking a bath in an actual tub of all things (what a daisy she’s become) she has nothing better to do but suck her teeth at how the shadow of her ribs are superimposed on her much-too-pasty figure? And oh! She was doing it again.

Perhaps people were happier when they had something to work for…

As she pondered, a streak of blood wiggled down and pooled at her mouth’s cupid bow. With a disinterested movement, she swiped it from her face with her thumb.

/Not this again…/

She was tired of these things—whatever they were—that had been plaguing her body since the ship. These wretched, pointless seizures! It was embarrassing enough to have one in a prison bed. But did they really have to follow her everywhere she went? As she moved to step out of the tub, which she had not yet descended into, a gasp escaped her. Her muscles, all at once pulled tight and she lost control and thrust herself onto the floor—chin first—her wet feet slipping under her velocity as she tried to catch herself on hands and toes.

/Not this again. Not this again./

“Miss are you alright? I heard something fall.”
This was the servant through the door, not yet opened.

“I’m fine,” Tallyho hollered. By then she had regained control of her hands which were splayed below her, attempting to push upwards.

The knob turned.
“I SAID I’M FINE!”
“Are…Are you sure miss?”
It was all over now.
“I am… I am…”
“Yes miss…”


By no means was the small gathering a small gathering. The King wasted no time in bringing notable people from the western hemisphere, though a few people from Eastern Isle and Ira managed to make it. Tallyho, now over her instance in the bath, was just happy to find that there was unlimited alcohol being walked around by servers across the dancehall. And best of all, Haru didn’t seem like he was going to limit the amount they drank. They were in now, and they could be fools as long as they weren’t fools to the wrong people.

Haru begrudgingly came to this event. Having had his fair share of international relations when he was alive, he had no interest in the event at hand. He wasn’t even particularly keen on his face being publicly associated with the whole month warrior thing. Not that he was ashamed of the kids (okay maybe a little) but he was more content with being behind the scenes at this point.
Haru sat in the corner of the dancehall at one of the small, sparse tables available and drank idly. He watched as Tallyho downed drink after drink as she spoke to those who made conversation. He wondered if she knew that she was talking to the elderly Duke of Le Fay. Nonetheless, she held her alcohol well so he wasn’t so worried.

There were more pressing things for Haru Karokav to worry over and one of those was fairly obvious. Haru watched Ryou attentively, waiting for a moment when he wasn’t occupied by a diplomat, or his students, or Karma. Karma was probably the most trying obstacle. The young one, who had never heard the classical instruments live before, used all of her pent up energy to engage Ryou in a very intense dance completion. Well at least she considered it a competition. So as Ryou danced with her, Karma danced against him. And even though their motives for dancing were different, they seemed to enjoy themselves all the same.

When the time was right, Haru set his empty glass on the table, dusted his coat, and meandered over. He kept a distance, not sure how startled Ryou would be by his sudden approach from behind. And then he spoke.

“Sorry about the other night.” Well that was cliché. “I didn’t mean to come off so…so cold.”
One thing about Haru was that he rarely apologized.

Meanwhile on the dancefloor, Morgan scoped the crowd. She had no interest in sharing words with the diplomats as she found their company ordinary, tedious, and a little too boring for her attention span. She meandered towards a small group of month warriors (because let’s face it there are bound to be a few of them clustered up together somewhere) and offered a curl of the lips.

“Why, I do hope you lot are enjoying yourselves,” her neck cocked forward, “And if any of you are hungry, we can get them to circulate horsderves! My favorites are the little crab cakes!”

Without any room for silence she pitched in again.

“How about we all dance, huh?” She hummed as she did a little jig with her arms. Her optimism was…endearing.

Since the beginning of the cocktail, Trent gravitated to Dorian. Dorian, he decided, was the least annoying person he’d met thus far. And that was saying a lot considering Trent hated and considered most things extremely annoying.

He made his presence known, tossing Dorian casual conversation:

Attempting friendship through mutual disdain:

“The alcohol here is wretched!”

Attempting suggestive humor:

“The arms on that lady…” [Insert snooty chuckle here]

Attempting to be complimentary:
“I like your shoes… I have five pairs of them.”

And even trying to learn more about Dorian himself:

“So…Are you excited about the ceremony thing tomorrow?”

By the end of it Trent finally resigned to inviting Dorian to join him in what he knew best.
“Listen. Parties aren’t necessarily my thing. Me and a few of my men are going to ah… hit the town. I’d like it if you came. I mean, think of the fun we’d have with an actual month warrior in our crew.”
That was about as nice as Trent was getting. And with a curl of his brow he lifted his glass for a toast, waiting for Dorian’s reply.

Tallyho watched the Trent and Dorian exchange closely, meandering nearby so that she could hear just enough of their conversation to be a little embarrassed at Trent’s attempt at socialization. She wasn’t sure if she liked the idea of Dorian befriending Trent. Dorian was… well Dorian. A stone-faced sweetheart who gave Tallyho his banya just because he knew she liked it and showed her art on his cellular device. And Trent was… Trent. No explanation needed. Effectively tuning out the elderly Duke of Le Fay she too waited on his answer to Trent’s invitation.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Kit Withers Character Portrait: Harbinger XII Character Portrait: King Rembrandt the Wholesome
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#, as written by Linnea
Autumn chuckled and smiled back to Skylar, an obvious sign of emotional improvement. She remained the same in the days to follow and happily went along with the events. It was not unusual to see her admiring the many dresses she was put into. It felt so nice to have energy again. She hadn’t felt this good in a long time. She had been useful, she had been strong, and she was so happy.

The breakfast was enjoyable and Autumn could finally eat without wondering how much energy the food would give her. To live without thinking of those numbers, it was almost intoxicating. She was more than happy to go to mass, even though her belief in the goddess was shaky at best. The blonde was still trying to accept it as fact, despite all of the evidence in front of her.

Kit, however, was obviously a firm believer. Despite his disdain for wearing all white, something Autumn had only recently grown to understand the reason for, he was incredibly serious during mass. He listened closely to the Harbinger. In a way, his obedience seemed wrong to Autumn. It just didn’t seem like him. Here was a sarcastic man who had trouble holding his tongue and the almost constant impulse to prove himself to be the best in the room, following along like a lamb. It seemed odd, but then again there were people far stranger and actions far more puzzling.

As much as she had tried before the gathering, Autumn couldn’t twirl in her party dress. The large ball gown was simply too heavy and stiff. This time it was mostly black, save the skirt underneath the large beaded bustle. The lace trimmed sleeves and beaded top gave it an elegant look, though Autumn hardly considered herself to be such. She wouldn’t complain, though. Just because the dress didn’t suit her personality didn’t mean she didn’t like it. It was far better than what her guardian was wearing, but Autumn found most mens fashion in the Rose Kingdom was questionable at best.

Despite his (and by extension most mens) fashion choice, Kit was doing well at the party. While Autumn had nothing else to do but sit on the side and wonder if she remembered how to fox trot, the redhead mingled with ease and even danced from time to time. Autumn wasn’t too surprised by this. After all, he had grown up in the Rose Kingdom. From what she had heard, he had actually been quite wealthy. Things like this were probably second nature to him now.

Autumn spoke to a few people, but soon found them too hard to follow. Unlike Kit, she had no idea how to respond to topics of great literature from Aires or which painting in the plaza struck her as the most magnificent. These were Kit topics, not Autumn topics. Try as she might, she just couldn’t find the conversation interesting. Then there was the minor problem of seeing Liam dance with who she assumed to be Dae. Autumn had known for a while that she wouldn’t be getting anywhere with Liam, but it still hurt. Adding the fact that Harper and Xabier were now dating, well that just made it even more difficult. Sometime during her conversation with so and so from such and such family, Autumn felt the weight in her heart.

She eventually drifted over to Skylar, happy to chat with her friend for a while. She might never be able to be with those she was fond of, but at least she had friends. It dulled the pain a little.

“… and then he just throws the turkey!” Autumn laughed, retelling a scene of some thanksgiving reality show she had seen to which ever warriors were near her.

“I mean, sure it’s a little burnt but that’s just overboard.” Now she was feeling better. There were probably other ways to go about heartbreak, but pushing it back and ignoring it seemed to be working just fine. As long as she didn’t look at them, ignorance was bliss.

She smiled at the princess as she approached.

“I’d love to, but to be honest I don’t really know how.” Autumn shrugged, though it was a comical gesture.

“And I can’t do the worm in this dress.” She chuckled.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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“The worm? What is the worm,” Morgan inquired as she looked at Autumn and offered a gesture of welcome towards Mori and Karma who were making their way towards her.
“I can teach you lot some classic RK dances if you’d like!”
She stepped back, palms open like some unaware, ethereal saint.
“Won’t one of you demonstrate with me? Anyone! Little ones are also welcome!”
---------
The clink of glass to glass was the only thing needed to set Tallyho’s brow in a confused furrow. Was he really going with him? With Trent? It wasn’t that Tallyho didn’t want Dorian to have other friends (and she hoped to goddess she didn’t feel that way deep down) but the idea of him befriending Trent set her stomach a few planes higher. She distanced herself even farther as Trent clasped Dorian on the shoulder in a manly fashion and led him out of the dance hall. Not a head turned. This was almost normal.
---------

Outside Trent grunted heavily. Fumbling fingers loosened his neck tie as he looked around to make sure no one was following. Most notably Mildred, who would cut her own arm off just to keep people right where they were supposed to be, and Morgan who probably would have just wanted to tag along for fun.

“Tonight we’re meeting the others at a bit of a hole-in-the-wall. Some old tavern where they make the best, strongest liquor I’ve ever tasted…You’re a drink guy right? I was just asking because some of the guys are avid poppy fans.”

As Trent spoke he walked with confidence towards what could be assumed to be the aforementioned tavern. He hardly surveyed his surroundings, suggesting that he was a frequent patron.

“So you never answered my question. About how you feel about this ceremony thing? This warrior business. I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous. Must feel good being so important?”

He made a sharp turn. The architecture became less formal as they ventured away from the affluent part of the city. It seemed that they farther they got away from the dance hall the more informal Trent became.

“I imagine that feeling isn’t too foreign to you. First time I met you in that cell I sort of felt that you were a guy like me! There was a certain… dignity about you. Intelligent, socially wise (yes Trent thinks he’s a social prodigy), generally well groomed if you have the choice. You’re like me just shy. Why don’t you ever talk? Stand up for yourself for once!”

Trent did not give Dorian time to answer before slapping him on the back.

“You’re nothing like those plebeians you’re on a team with… Are they always so base—the ones who thought it wise to verbally challenge me? The guys tried much too hard to make me bat an eye, and some of those girls—even though they technically didn’t say anything stupid—tried to get sarcastic. Which is honestly the basest, most uncreative way of getting back at me. I mean really? How passive… Oh! Over this way!”

Trent made another sharp turn down an alleyway.
“Are you ready my boy?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: King Rembrandt the Wholesome Character Portrait: Bryce Edwards
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The days following the parade seemed to pass in a blur, the countless celebrations and extravagant dresses seeming to blend into one another. Skylar couldn’t quite wrap her head around the fact that they had made it this far- after the years of training and roughing it and living in secrecy, they were finally being accepted as the Month Warriors.

She knew that their victory should have come with a sense of accomplishment or pride, something at the very least, but all she felt was an odd sense of indifference as she waited for whatever they would ultimately be tasked with next.

No matter how much Mildred and the palace staff fussed over her, Skylar couldn’t bring herself to enjoy the attention. A self-proclaimed tomboy from age four, the constant pampering was almost as rough as their training. The gowns were beautiful, she would admit that much, but the all the frills and thick fabric were a little too much for her liking. Each day brought about a new set of dresses (usually in some variation of green or brown- all earthy colors, how original), and Skylar could only wonder where Mildred was getting them all from so quickly.

Skylar eventually fell into life at the palace, falling into a daily routine that mainly consisted of her aimlessly wandering the hallways in between their scheduled appearances. She knew there was so much more to the kingdom to explore, but for now she was perfectly content with exploring their home for the time being. She did her best to cast aside thoughts of their battle with the Cyclopeans, and she found herself spending more time than usual with Harper in hopes that his humor and good nature would rub off on her.

-

Skylar wasn’t particularly fond of the mass, the sermon going right over her head. It still felt odd, to be worshipping something completely different than what she had been used to at home. Then again, her family had never been especially religious either and her Church experiences were limited to the occasional mass on Christmas Eve or Easter.

Her attempts to at least try and look interested failed when her attention span ran out ten minutes into the service, her pale eyes scanning the room until her gaze landed on Bryce. She hadn’t seen much of her guardian since the initial battle, and she figured that he was off doing Bryce things and enjoying the luxuries the kingdom had to offer. From what she knew, he had grown up in a wealthy home, so all of this probably wasn’t new to him. Unlike Haru and Kit, who seemed obviously immersed, she couldn’t read her own guardian. He sat straight up, hands clasped in his lap as he looked ahead.

-

The one thing that got her the most was Princess Morgan’s interactions with King Rembrandt, and how well they seemed to get along. The man reminded her a lot of her own father, how he never seemed to take himself seriously and his personality essentially lit up the room. As the only girl in her family, she and her father had always been close and she held the title of “Daddy’s girl” very seriously. She nostalgically watched the two banter back and forth with each other, lips curved in an almost sad sort of smile. She didn’t think about her family as much as she used to, but certain things would stir up the feelings of homesickness all over again and make her wonder what had changed back at home in the years since she had left.

-

Skylar shouldn’t have been surprised that the “small gathering” turned out to be yet another lavish celebration, the elite from all of Aires milling around the great ballroom. After making her rounds with Bryce and managing to slip a few drinks by him, she resigned to a corner where a few of the other warriors were standing. She watched Bryce slide back into the crowd, the older male clearly in his prime. He seemed so used to this sort of lifestyle, easily falling into conversation with some diplomat from Ira.

With a short sigh (because the corset she had been tied into kept her from taking any deeper breaths), she let herself take in the scene before her. Her gaze screeched to a halt at the sight of Liam dancing with a tall woman dressed in green. She tilted her head, not quite believing what she saw. Was that Dae? Maybe she’d had more to drink than she’d realized.

She didn’t get to dwell on the thought too much though, the sound of Autumn telling a story about a Thanksgiving turkey distracting her.

“I’m not quite sure how you dance in these gowns, they’re so uncomfortable!” Skylar said with a laugh, turning to face Morgan. “You’d probably have to get another drink in me and then I might consider it.” She grinned, tucking a loose strand of dark hair behind her ear.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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Falke had never been one to be overwrought with anxiety at the prospect of being touched. Enough family gatherings of pinched cheeks, cooing words of encouragement from any passerby that happened to notice his disability, and having one of the most protective mother's on planet Earth; should have given him an unconcerned and indifferent air regarding such matters. But still, even with the plausible excuse of his abilities now (seriously how many more people needed to be rattling around in his noggin, he was having enough issues as it was coping after the battle) being the cause of it, he was uneasy just listening to Miss Mildred's 'to do list' speech for them all over the following weekend. He did not like being touched much regardless of powers or not. Period.

The Tailors' were pretty much as bad as anyone could suspect. Poking and prodding, alongside, well, if you called that a measuring tape - Falke could share breathing space at times. Exchanging CO2 for additional CO2, with people who really needed a couple tooth-leaves or less alcohol before ten in the morning, was not what you'd call his highlight of the day. Upon being one of the last finishing with fitting, he was told he was going to be made a 'darling' of the city (whatever that meant) dressed in light, fair colors of blue, silver, and gold.

For the rest of what Falke had begun to deem as particularly lazy, maddeningly lazy days honestly, he surprisingly spent his time in the gardens. Even despite the occasional disruption of the Princess twittering away like an over-excited songbird and /needing/ to smell this new, positively delightful flower, or giving polite conversation until an errant thought took her away again; it was quiet, peaceful. He found an ability to relax, to meditate, and the shakes of his shoulders and hands that brought memories (and thoughts, and feelings) resurfacing did not happen to find their way to him for hours.

All to soon, the day was over and done with, and Falke attended the evening meal. He retired early to practice silently a few swings and imaginary hits with his weapon, exceedingly careful to not knock anything over; after a feeling he wouldn't be getting much time for doing it again between getting dressed between events, and the sheer mental and physical strain of heavy garments and public appearances to come.

---

The parade the following was one part embarrassment, and another terrifying. It was long, tedious, and awkward process getting into their, well, for lack of a better word, costumes. His own looked like a mixture of renaissance with a dash a Rome: A fine, powder blue brocade doublet, light brown leather riding pants and boots, hell even his splint had been decorated to complete the medieval requirement of his get-up; but the silver cape, er-cloak, or really blanket of sorts, that draped 'fashionably' across his arms and one shoulder and spilled across part of the rump of the fine, white horse he was astride, seemed quite frankly from a different era entirely.

Additionally the cheering, howling crowds lined the streets, created another hard pill to swallow. Yes, they had rotted in prison for two weeks, had still managed to defeat the flock and their leader monstrosity with lacking team work and abilities without anyone kicking the bucket thankfully, and the month warriors had 'returned' again, oh whoopie. He understood a little of their perspective somewhat, but... really... all this?

Falke struggled to remain a calm mask , in the onslaught of noise battering his ears and mind alike; biting the inside of his lip, mimicking the look of a thin, but confident line. His eyes wandered blearily in small snapping motions, observing the loudest, most fervent hollers and musicians behind and to the side for a small time, and to the other warriors in their group (all having some emotional rip-roar of one kind or another, to prick his attention now and again). And the blush that rose across his cheeks hardly showed, thanks to Mildred and tailors' insistence at covering his black eye and bruised temple (that had just started to turn a putrid yellow-green, it was not pretty by any means) with powdered make-up.

...

Lillian, like the other Guardians' had disappeared at the start of the parade; finding it to be a rare moment of luck to be free of feather as it were. Instead of being stuck in a jostling crowd, that could meet with unkind consequences should her shawl's hood fall (even with Tallyho's acceptance of being a warrior by TRK and Grand Harbinger); unnoticed, a lithe owl had flown into the soft breeze above the city streets, caressing softer feathers in short bursts from roof top to roof top.

She had kept along with the warriors progress throughout the parade watchfully, but hadn't been able to avoid to side street of the joyous Sun People. She lingered a moment longer there, listening to their singing and celebrations, a song of old of triumph for a village member, even though they'd forgotten much of the original words; it was still... Nice...

---

The 'excitement' of one day bled into the next. Another new set of clothes was thrust upon each of them by Mildred early into the morning, for a breakfast with jolly and warm King. It was clear where Morgan had exactly gotten her silliness from, and their interactions were as sincere as a family without any royal requirements or duties. The event was an odd moment of ease, in their tense and extremely busy schedule.

The all white mass was their next appearance, and despite the 'struggle' of being primped up again, this was something Falke could do, and do well. He had gone to enough church services with his mother, at the small Roman Catholic venue up the road from their family home in the outskirts of Hamburg. He was specialized in sitting still with head bent slightly down, wordlessly vigilant, and poised in thoughtful contemplation for hours on end. Much of the Grand Harbinger's sermon had gone over his head, due to his lack really of truly understanding the Goddess completely (schooling at the Academy had helped, but still he felt at a loss really), but it didn't mean he couldn't remain proper and play the part as needed.

...

Lillian seemed to as intent as Haru, watching the Grand Harbinger with a quiet sort of ferocity most had never seen from her actively. While she had always been openly religious with anyone who had asked about or seen or heard her 'to the One' phrases, she had never been so devout. Or, being more politically correct, trying so hard to be devout. The One above, she was sorry but it still felt wrong, even after so many years of trying so hard, to be sitting here, still as they could be, all attention on the sermon - her cold, bitter heart was not in it.

...

Oh, what a darling! What a pretty young man! That little, blind and broken babe.

Fei. No matter how often the words we're repeat in his presence since the beginning of the "small" yet exceeding extravagant gathering of nobility from all over mostly western Aires (with a small group of Eastern Islanders and those hailing from Ira too as well), Falke did not find himself ever getting used to it.

It was unnerving how quickly news had traveled or had been told in second-person, but the young September warrior found himself known immediately by name or at the very least one of the above statements. Nor was it a surprise really, being the only warrior that happened to be blind and was seen limping occasionally in a decorated walking splint. The inability of being able to disappear to a corner for a brief moment of respite was frustrating as it was alarming.

Most encounters were quick, brutal things, that Falke managed relatively well. Which usually meant he could flash a small, reluctant smile, a soft rumbling chuckle (that was obviously decisively false to the extreme few that had been able to get a geniue, deep, rolling belly laugh out of him twice, he couldn't be soft if he tried), and idle, empty conversation. Thankfully no one discussed the palace's artwork or fine Airian literature, because accurately enough how would he have seen any of it.

He'd only recently escaped from a group from Hales. The men had called him tiny brother, or something about an icicle in terms of his slim figure maybe, he hadn't been quite sure. Especially given that half of the conversation was in-between drunken laughter and bashing his shoulders and arms good naturedly with meaty fists. The one woman in the party had been more subdued, and had only left him with a soft kiss of farewell as they parted - leaving him now standing in a corner, with Skylar and Autumn chatting nearby about a turkey tossing competition or reality show or something, as he gently rubbed the red lipstick stain from his cheek in quick, determined movements from a small cloth a passing servant had handed him.

He glanced up as the Princess approached, still bounding with energy even after the long day at large as she urged them all to join her, dance with her, she would teach them. Autumn and Skylar answered quickly enough, that Falke believed he was safe enough from answering verbally. He tilted his head gently in the negative in response.

It wasn't that he wouldn't enjoy it, because really he loved dancing - whether, well, years ago now, learning the waltz from his mother; or the times on the ship, Tallyho hauling him into an elegant but rather silly and wildly swinging display. Nor his leg's fault, while still sore, it was getting better he kept telling himself day to day. But in all honesty the swirling crowd around them was the main problem... He had enough people recognizing him, just walking out of the blue into him. He did not feel the need to go in the middle where everyone could go 'oh look, the darling, that pretty young man, the little, blind and broken babe - he can dance too!'

...

Lillian moved quickly, departing from a conversation gone sour. An older noblewoman had been admiring her delicate coiled up-do, but had accidentally bumped a clip in her inspection and caused a chunk to fall out long, it's golden hues coiling naturally down. Her husband had taken the offensive, and had assumed correctly 'what' she was - using a drunken, heavy-handed slap to send her on her way when she'd declined a song, or dance, or the implied threesome later on in the night. Luckily enough, the hand hadn't been remotely close, due to too many under his belt; and she had been on her way, before anything additional could occur.

A thin fingered hand escaped the confining folds of her long-sleeved flowing dress, reaching up to pull the hair back with sure motions to clip back the errant dark golden lock into place. Pausing at the edge of the gathering, weariness clear in the depths of her washed-out, gray-blue eyes. Her already lean and angular face seemed rather pinched as she scowled, as her eyes narrowed as they made an idle attempt of locating the exit. It would likely be wise for her to depart sooner rather than later.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Nikita Machari Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful
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He knew what he had to do, the problem was actually doing it. He wasn't comfortable here and was an absolute failure at hiding how he felt about things, but he definitely grew up in the last few years. Even if he wasn't comfortable, he could still survive without having a screaming, kicking meltdown or trying to beat the crap out of someone else. That brought a little chuckle to himself. He can do this. The younger blond turned back around and gave both Liam and Dae a small bow. "As the lady commands."

To go even further with his silliness, he dipped his head to kiss the top of Dae's free hand and forced himself out of his frozen anxiety. Yes, Dae is a woman and Liam is her boyfriend. They knew who he was and knew he couldn't be competition for their relationship. Dae dressed up is beautiful, but he still knows and respects her as the knight she is.

Now to tackle the next challenge. Yes, a challenge. He remembered that he liked a challenge. Kyle pulled on his collar again, but drifted away from the knight and magician. These fake people love him, and expect him to like their attention. It was like that one more load of rocks, that one more page of homework. Just one more of these dumb things and then it should be over. He took a deep breath, and then a couple drinks from the nearest server and finished one in time to place it on the next tray taking others' empty glasses away. One drink; then two, and then he stopped. A clear head would probably be necessary for the last useless event tomorrow. Maybe then he would be free of his present gilded cage.

After the two drinks, he did manage to offer pleasant smiles and conversation to all the foreign dignitaries who wanted their piece of him. Most of the conversation was kept to well-placed compliments or small talk, but occasionally he pushed the conversation to the rich snobs talking about themselves. Those conversations he preferred, because he didn't want to tell anything about himself, and they gave him a chance to get a better view of Aires.

Finally he crossed the room to someone he actually DID want to see with a drink in each hand. "May I offer the ladies a drink?" He turned to Falke, a grin on his face that the September warrior couldn't see, but he could hear. "How about you, young sir?"

Diamond Traders made Nikita herself something of a public figure before she was connected to her month warrior. Some of these guests were her suppliers or customers, but she had never been invited to or involved in any of their parties. It was a new experience, but not as much as a strain for her than Kyle. She already knew names and basic personal information she needed for business. If she could find him, she could introduce him and at least give him something. They were separated in the crowd, and both were short making it difficult to be seen or see each other. She sighed as she nursed her first drink, and bumped into a frustrated Lillian. "What happened?" she asked, noting the scowl.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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#, as written by Linnea
Autumn chuckled. “It’s just a joke, just a joke.”

She was fairly certain that if she did describe the worm, the fair princess would have no reservations in imitating it.

“Oh, don’t be a fuddy-duddy! Dancing sounds wonderful!” Autumn laughed again, cheerfully placing her hands in Morgan’s palms.

“I’d love to dance! Thank you for the offer, Kyle, but I’ve got to get my boogie on!” It had been a long time since the November warrior had been so energetic. She didn’t even need to have any drinks to be so gleeful. The mere fact that she wasn’t dragging her heels was enough to make her ecstatic.

“You know, if you want to dance with someone who’s really good, I think Kit probably knows all the moves.”

Kit, too, kept himself rather sober. It was an interesting development, as Autumn would have expected him to be drinking rather heavily considering the recent events. His calm state only further enforced her suspicion of his guilt. The smallest glance at someone’s necklace was enough to make him turn his head the other way and try to focus on something else.

His head swiveling and his eyes darting were common traits of his, as he had a tendency to observe anything and everything, but Autumn knew well enough to know that him not focusing on art of any kind was rather uncharacteristic of him. However, it wasn’t her business to try and solve his internal conflicts.

“He never taught me, though. Always fighting this, fighting that. Good thing you’re around to show me how!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher
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"May I offer the ladies a drink? How about you young sir?"

Young sir? Falke tilted his head to regard evenly in Kyle's general direction, an eyebrow raising in curiosity. The curiosity was not deemed to be the fact that he was technically 6 months at least older than the other younger man. But because of the smile he could hear in his words as he spoke. Genuine as it was in greeting and offering a drink to fellow associates of the month warrior party, it still sounded stained like he was trying awfully hard to enjoy himself - honestly, a little over doing it in his opinion. He could accurately assume that the party obviously was not Kyle's cup of tea either. "No, thank you." Falke returned, politely. As his gaze wandered back to Morgan, asking one of the warrior's to demonstrate with her - Autumn cheerfully stepping forward to, well er, as she put it 'get her boogie on'.

Falke flicked a hand upwards and to the side, in a gesture to where Morgan was gathering those to learn to dance, and for Kyle's benefit explained idly as he spoke up again. "I can hold those for you, if you want to go and learn traditional RK dances with them." He offered. Well aware that his company, even being a vague 'friend' of Kyle's, wouldn't be as appreciated as someone elses'. He wasn't born yesterday, even with his own limited (or lacking really, other than his family) experience with such sort of emotions; and with his abilities, Goddess above, hesh... He knew more than he really wanted to know. More than enough to put two and two together between crushes and relationships that were more than simply good friendships. Hell, sometimes it was a bloody war zone.

...

"What happened?"

Lillian blinked. The scowl fading from her fair face, and replaced with a gentle, sly smile, as she recognized the voice speaking up from beside her. "Nothing more than what I expected," Lillian paused, her accented tone sweet and sad, but gracefully shrugging off whatever had happened. During her exceedingly long lifetime, immortal occurrences of disgrace and disgust was something she would always deal with - especially being at a party where she did not belong. She glanced back to Nikita, with a distant warmness in their depths, as she complimented her on the other woman's assembly, "Lovely. You look lovely m'dear." Truly admiring the dress and other Guardian's thing of beauty, was an ease she had long since accomplished as an art form. The more you had, the more you could use it as an advantage, speaking simple. "Enjoying yourself?"

As she spoke pleasantly, keeping the conversation afloat, her mind silently worked into overdrive as she noted where other Guardian's and the warriors where in the large ballroom. It was a more likely that another Guardian would be better suited than a hot-headed warrior that did not understand Lillian's social and class situation and would take the dreadfully wrong assumption if anything where to happened again; to help her weave out of the crowd and reach the exit on the far side. However, her two preferred companions, Haru and Ryou had finally begun talking again after days that a rift had come between them. She was proper enough not to bug them during this time. Kit was, oh bless his heart, much too scrawny for words. And would not achieve the desired effect of not being noticed as she was escorted away, she could only figure. Ondine was bluntly to close to the warrior's in mindset that even on a good, exceeding good, day she would not trust her in this task. Nikita too had her faults lying on being too closely connected with these people through her business, they would want to come and talk to her. Bryce it seemed then to be the best choice she had, his manipulative persona had a powerful pull but given the right circumstances it keep people away and weary in his presence. However, she'd yet to spot him through the crowd. Oh, what a bother...


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful
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#, as written by Linnea
Autumn was less than pleased that Xabier had decided to join them. She was dancing to forget him, and here he was. Though, it was strange. Before, all she had wanted was to be close to him. Now, she couldn’t stand the sight of him. Was it heartbreak? Disdain? She wasn’t sure. All she knew was that him being near made her upset.

She wanted to leave right then and there. How delightful it would be to turn up her nose and glare at him. How wonderful it would be to let him know he was unwanted. However, those actions were petty and childish. Despite many of her actions, Autumn was still a grown woman. She knew well enough that doing such things, especially in public, would only cause a scene in front of important people. So, for the sake of dignity, she smiled. “Go ahead, the more the merrier!” Autumn spent the rest of the night learning from Morgan and taking what delight she could in dancing. At least Morgan was having fun.

Autumn felt a bit like a doll the next day. She was pinned and poked as she was prepared for the big day. As always, Mildred took charge of the event fearlessly. If there was anyone to be respected in the Rose Kingdom, it was her. From decorations to the way they moved, she had thought everything out.

Autumn entered the July-December room with some hesitation. She had never really befriended anyone in that group and it left her with awkward silence. Then there was Xabier, who she knew she would have to stand next to earlier. Falke, too, was someone she would rather not associate with. Though, that was due to the fact that they had never really connected on a personal level. Falke was an alright person and Autumn had nothing against him. Even though Mildred had told them not to, Autumn really wanted to leave.

She wished she were in the other room, talking to Dorian or Skylar. Well, mostly Dorian. The moment she stepped into the room a spirit had informed her of him hanging out with General Cress. She had been too preoccupied with her exhaustion and frustration to notice it before, but now that she knew it was rather alarming. Was he alright? Were they actually friends? Was General Cress secretly a really wonderful person? These were questions she had to ask Dorian in person, as only he could describe how he felt. Unfortunately, she had no time to do so.

Careful not to get anything on her dress, Autumn ate a few snacks to quell her rumbling stomach and pass the time.

Autumn had never worn a mermaid style dress before. She had always been too afraid it would make her look fat. This dress, however, was stunning. It was a beautiful black color, make perhaps of silk or satin or some other expensive material. What struck Autumn the most was how intense it was. Never before had she seen a black dress that commanded so much power. It hugged her body, making every curve stand out. Unfortunately, this also meant that upon close inspection one might see her ribcage.
Starting from the queen anne style neckline and down to the top of her hips, a thin layer of sheer white fabric on top of the black created a bodice. It was embroidered with silver thread. Tiny rhinestones and citrines were sown in, shining if the light hit them right. It swooped and swirled this way and that, the border ending in an asymmetrical v shape. In the center was a large diamond shaped citrine. This only proved to accentuate Autumn’s gemstone, which was now part of a fancy golden necklace with other smaller citrines in its intricate swirling pattern. Beads and rhinestones sown together made the delicate looking off of the shoulder straps. No doubt it was all for decoration.

Autumn was rather surprised at the sleeves. She had expected something long, like her previous dresses, to cover her muscles and scars. Instead, they were out in the open. There was a time when this would have embarrassed her, but she was now proud. Her pale skin shone from her bath last night (and perhaps in contrast to the dress) and in her mind she was beautiful.
The train of the skirt was long, flowing behind like a river. The same swirling pattern from the necklace and bodice was put onto the hem. Silver embroidery was embellished with small rhinestones and citrines which shone like the stars at night. Though it mostly kept itself to the base of the skirt and train, it would rise up from time to time for just a touch of elegance.

The back of the dress commanded just as much attention as the front. The fabric was cut out in the back, creating a v shaped opening that ended at the middle of her back. It was laced together tightly enough to keep the dress up but not enough to make the fabric touch. Citrines hung from the thin golden colored cord in a similar style to the necklace. The decorated embroidery continued around the back, this time the v shape going upwards and the lace ending at her hips.

Walking in the dress, Autumn almost felt as if she were gliding. It certainly looked ethereal, yet it kept that sense of power. Somehow, she looked beautiful yet fearsome. There was no need for softly flowing fabric. Death was not soft and neither was the dress.

Autumn wondered just how Mildred was able to get such a detailed dress so soon. Perhaps there was no task too big or her? It even had a warm charcoal colored cloak with elegant embroidery, which along with braids might as well have been her trademark.
Autumn blinked, wondering how her makeup didn’t get in her eyes. Somehow, everything was perfect. Her blonde hair fell down her shoulders in soft curls, the bangs braided and tied together in the back. Simple golden ribbons were braided in, creating a rather elegant look.

No doubt this was the biggest day of all. With everything that happened, it had to be something extreme.

What to do now? She couldn’t stand there eating snacks all day. And what if someone she didn’t want to talk to decided to make small talk? It came down to a decision.

Autumn approached Falke with a soft smile and a hello, hoping he didn’t mind her presence.

I’m so sorry to bother you, she thought in hopes that he would pick up on it. She never really communicated with him in that way other than the battle, so she wasn’t sure how it worked.

It’s just that I really don’t want to be forced into an uncomfortable situation with Xabier. I know it’s a bit of a burden, but please. I had to dance with Xabier last night and I do not want that to happen again. Save me?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Autumn Jones
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Nothing more than expected, she said and didn't elaborate before changing the subject. Something involving fear, anger, disgust and disrespect most likely. Nikita sighed. She also had her share of those experiences before, but Lillian didn't want to talk about it obviously, just like Haru and Ryou didn't want to talk about why they weren't talking to each other. Was it really nosy to want to know why people she liked were upset? Of course, she never told any of them why she was upset before arriving in Rose Kingdom or why she couldn't sleep the weeks they spent in jail. She turned her face away and squeezed her eyes shut to force the memories back. Eventually she submitted to Lillian's subject change and accepted the compliments on her light green dress. She smiled lightly and finished her drink, passing it off to a server. Nikita shrugged a little in response to Lillian asking if she enjoyed herself. "It's nice but I think I would enjoy it more in a previous life."

Falke offered to take the drinks off his hands and let him dance, and Kyle flushed a little. Of course the guy who could read minds would know more than anyone else. At the same time, he knew he hadn't been paying much attention to Falke lately and they were supposed to be friends. Falke probably wasn't enjoying himself much either. Attention was never something he seemed to want.

The younger blond turned back to Skylar. He flushed slightly more pink and met her light blue eyes with a soft, cherishing smile. In that moment he caved, passing off the glasses of alcohol to either Falke or a passing server. Once his hands freed, he reached out to stroke her face just under her ear. Uncertainly he curled his fingers back at the last minute. Then he bent slightly and grasped her hand instead, lifting it to kiss the top. All the while, he never turned from her face. When would he have another chance like this?

The moment didn't last long enough. Xabier's voice broke through his mind and he gripped Skylar's hand tighter, looking up to the Spaniard with a glare. The interruption was not appreciated.

In some ways he was still angry with his prior friend, but he did open the door for him to act like a friend again and talk. Efforts had been made to restore the relationship, but Kyle still didn't think he could trust him, because he still avoided the subject of why they separated in the first place. That was the most important step forward. Only by knowing the why can he understand what to do in the future.

Still, his anger didn't linger as he watched Xabier and Autumn drift away with Morgan for an impromptu dance class. He gave a chuckle. Morgan's absolute joy in being around people infected him too. Despite the Spaniard's awkward presence, he really wanted to join them, but he couldn't force Skylar into something she wouldn't enjoy. His flush deepened a little more and he swallowed, but managed to say, "Are you sure you don't want to dance? Will you dance with me?"

If she wanted to dance, Kyle would be an eager dance partner, but if not, they could take a walk in the gardens outside and Falke would also be invited, if he wanted to get away. Either way, at the end of the night, he could honestly say he enjoyed himself. He had a chance to spend time with Skylar he didn't before.

Unfortunately, the next day left his brief happy memories of the party in the dust. It felt like the day they were locked up, but worse. Instead of just Haru and Nikita poking at him, a host of strangers were doing it. This time he couldn't hide or shrug off the panic. Trembling and sweating, he shook off the latest set of prodding hands. "Need air," he gasped and fled to the gardens. Once outside he nearly collapsed against one of the fountains, clinging for dear life. "Safe. not prison." There he remained, trying to get himself back together.

He had to change his shirt before submitting to the final touches on his ceremonial uniform. Because of that, he arrived a little late to the rehearsal, getting a glare from Mildred. He flushed and pulled his collar, but made extra effort in paying attention to the frenetic little woman's directions. His tasks seemed easy enough, but he also flinched at the order not to sneak away. A gilded cage. Could he really keep from freaking out? He didn't have pleasant memories of this Harbringer either. Deep breaths. Deep breaths. It's almost over. Almost over.

After that trial, they dispersed to two separate rooms. That went by fairly well, even though Kyle ended up stuck in a room with Harper for an hour. He hadn't been acting the fool as much lately, but he still was a selfish bastard who can't be trusted. Skylar, Tallyho, and Dorian were pleasanter company. Because of the selfish bastard's earlier snubbing of Skylar,-He would never forgive Harper for that- Kyle remained protectively close and offered her anything she asked for from the table. He personally was disappointed in the lack of fish, which seemed ridiculous considering it was more like a buffet than the snack table Mildred called it.

While things were calm, he looked over to Tallyho and Dorian and caught part of the conversation. He unfortunately wasn't paying enough attention to know that Dorian went anywhere last night, but Tallyho did and asked the March Warrior about it. Dorian answered that he saw a new part of the Rose Kingdom. When and how did he do that? Kyle wished he could find a way to get out of this gilded cage and look around. "Where did you go?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez
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The dance was probably the most fun he'd had in a long time.

Gregarious setting where he could still flit from person to person and get his own space if need be? No politics to worry about? Drinks all around?

Harper reveled in it.

At some point he sauntered over to Xabi and the others, (the fact that Morgan was with them certainly not playing into his reasoning) and danced first with Skylar, very briefly with Morgan, and then not long enough with Xabi.

And he got drunk. Oh so drunk. It took every ounce of will-power not to make-out with every person present.

Flirting, however, was a free for all, and he did so with everyone in his drunken, blurry sight.

The next day brought a hangover like a hammer. The kind only coffee could control. Or the closest thing they had to it. A bitter drink that was more tea than anything, but Harper downed it and drank water like a fish as people ferreted around him, sticking him with pins other sharp things as they fitted his suit.

It was a nice suit. A tailcoat. Greens and blues like the ocean, a gradient from top to bottom growing darker and darker with a shiny, pearl-ish fabric for the foam on the waves that sprayed up against his shoulders, which greatly resembled a certain Japanese woodblock print. The buttons were of actual pearl, and smaller grains of them dotted the shirt underneath in vertical columns. His hair was parted and tamed with a sap stronger than any hair-gel he'd ever used back home. Each curl and wave perfectly situated.

He felt like an art piece. He wanted to walk right into the MoMA and present himself for gallery viewing. Even his shoes were snappy, so dark a blue they were almost black, with even smaller pearls across the tongue. After the outfit had been complete, he'd immediately bee-lined for Xabi, showing off the coat, and dropping compliments with not so subtle innuendos to the younger boy.

Edna Mode ruined the mood with instructions. Sip don't gulp. Raise your hands in the air like you just don't care. But actually care this time. Don't run away and don't ruin your clothes.

And then they were divided. And whatever euphoria Harper had felt at the snappy clothes and Xabi were immediately dashed as he was shuffled off into a room with the kid who's only wish seemed to be for his demise.

I don't like you but since we're stuck with each other we have to work together Harper thought in his head sarcastically, Kyle's voice distorted into an exaggerated mimic, My name's Kyle and I hate your guts and would kill you but I won't. Try to be more like me.

Skylar and Dorian should have made this better, but Dorian was off with Tallyho and his diamond majesty was hovering around his other friend for whatever reason, which only left Gwen, who through all these years he still hardly knew. He was surprised he remembered her name. For the longest time she was just The Asian Girl with the Knife.

If he could switch her out for Xabi this would be perfect.

But perfection rarely comes to those who ask for it, and right now Harper was painfully aware of how excluded he was. He wasn't sure if it was because he'd been spending so much time with Xabi, or if maybe this was how it always was.

But then his eyes focused on Kyle and Skylar. No. This hadn't always been this way. It used to be Harper and Skylar. For three goddamn years it had been Harper and Skylar. And he'd be damned if he let this blond kid with anger problems butt his way in between.

Besides, Kyle probably wouldn't punch him or anything now. That would ruin his clothes. The kid wouldn't want people yelling at him. Or so Harper hoped.

Grin starting on his face, he made up his mind and walked over to Skylar. "I don't want to alarm you," he said, hand on his hip, "But you happen to be in the presence of a great masterpiece. Behold!" He struck a pose, flaunting the jacket, "The Great Wave off Canandaigua! By the brilliant artist Hawkseye!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Autumn Jones
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Dorian wasn't quite sure what was more horrific- holding onto the still writhing and sobbing Harper for dear life or Mildred's shrieks of dismay from somewhere behind him. It was a chilling noise, and even if he hadn't heard he words, he would have known the meaning. It was the same shrill scream that children everywhere knew in their primal minds from centuries of mothers (and the occasional father and/or other family member because, really, we must be inclusive) bemoaning ruined clothes and promising a vengeance so cruel that only a parent could have thought of it (such as the horrors of no dessert for a month or, in more extreme cases, personally explaining to Aunt Mildred why exactly you're not wearing that nice outfit she personally bought for you).

Her next words, a sharp demand as to what exactly was happening, had Dorian realize two things at the same time. One, he was liberally smeared with blood that was generally not his own, and, two, he knew exactly what they must look like from Mildred's perspective, Dorian wrestling Harper on the ground while the other man sobbed and bled willy-nilly all over the nice rug that coated the floor. Well, he thought grimly as he opened his mouth to explain, at least his friends back home had just been proven wrong. He could, in fact, look scarier if he tried, if by trying they meant rolling around in a puddle of fresh blood while wrapped around a suicidal and royally-freaking-out person. Which they probably didn't.

He was beaten to the punch when Tallyho stepped in, voice as calm and nonchalant as could be. Dorian found himself staring at her blasé explanation, watching each grape pop into her mouth like she was at a particularly dull dinner party and wasn't currently a few feet away from what had just happened. He pursed his lips and turned his head back towards Mildred. Just because he was fond of Tallyho didn't mean he had to blindly approve of everything she did or how she felt. The fact that Tallyho had never asked him to was probably why they got along so well.

As soon as Mildred swooped in, her task-force of knights following her commands like she was a great general and not just the world's best Mildred, Dorian released Harper, saw him get carted away for medical attention (and he apparently needed it because all of the fight seemed to have drained out of him) before he himself was swept away. He was in a slight daze as they moved, his head throbbing incessantly with his quickly resurfacing headache. His hand was bandaged once, then twice after the blood had soaked through the first white cloth, and the rest of the bloody event was scrubbed from his body quickly and efficiently. Still, he could smell the iron tang lingering in his nose as new clothes were thrust into his arms. They were fine, not nearly as extravagant and lovely as the now sad looking outfit that had been thrown into a corner in their haste to clean him up and make him look presentable. Hair was combed, clothing was replaced, and then he was thrust back in line, standing behind Tallyho and in front of Kyle. Mildred threw one last biting order at them that, really, Dorian didn't find all that necessary at this point (or maybe that was just the twin aches of his head and his hand talking) before they were once more moving into the limelight.

Trumpets were blaring, the room was filled to capacity with very important people all crowded together to see them. Princess Morgan was waving, and he even caught a glimpse of Trent in the crowd (he was decidedly not waving excitedly like his cousin (although, if he had been, Dorian would have been incredibly concerned). There were the Guardians as well and he knew Ryou was trying to catch his eye, but he instead stared resolutely ahead. It was enough to have glimpsed a friendly face, albeit the face of someone who had no idea what had just happened.

Wine was sipped, vows were intoned, and then suddenly there was cheering like they'd actually done something to deserve it. Well, alright, they kind of had what with the whole Flock thing, but that wasn't the point. The point was that Dorian was in a bad mood, all of this noise felt like it was physically hitting him in the head, and he was starting to bleed through his bandage again. Things couldn't get much worse.

That was a lie. That was an absolute lie, Dorian thought miserably as Haru appeared to corral them. Haru was blocking the door, a demand to know what had happened flying sharply from his tongue, paired with a glare so intense that it could set a man on fire at fifty paces. Yes, none of this had technically been Dorian's fault and all he'd done was save Harper's life and keep people from bolting out the door every ten seconds, but under that fury-filled gaze he felt like he'd committed high treason and also maybe kicked a puppy (or a cat, given, well, Haru).

Haru was waiting for an explanation, and Harper's piss-poor shrug of an answer, drowning in enough self-pity and misery that Dorian started glancing around to see if there was another make-shift weapon nearby he had to be concerned about. He held no illusions that Harper was "better", just more exhausted. Xabier was experiencing some kind of tunnel vision, hurrying to Harper's side like they were the only two in the room. Dorian wasn't sure how he was ignoring Haru's gaze or the absolute tension in the room, but the Spaniard apparently could handle it.

Dorian stood there like a statue. It was his only defense. That is, of course, until no one readily answered. He glanced around before Skylar spoke up, voice stained with all the anger and disdain that he was relatively sure she felt at this point. In the insanity that had followed the room incident, he was sure she'd had no comfort after not only being tossed in the middle of things, but also since her best friend was, well... He glanced at Harper and mentally resolved that when they got back- and it was always when now, not if- he'd be sending out some good psychiatric recommendations.

Still, Skylar didn't answer either and there was silence, awkward and painful in that way that tense situations always are. God, his head ached, the blood flow on his hand was only just now slowing into a trickle, and there was enough tension in the room to cut it with a knife- it was thicker than pea soup. Yes. That was a better analogy today.

"There was an argument. I don't know why it started, but Kyle pushed Harper-" Dorian's head shot up at the sudden voice before realizing it was his own. His mouth, however, didn't stop as he continued on, voice pained but persistent, speeding up in an attempt to just get it out there because he didn't want another argument to erupt with Haru this close to physically exploding.

"Then Tallyho suddenly told Harper exactly what she thought of him and then the three of them started arguing with Kyle threatening Harper and Harper and Tallyho monologuing at each other until because all of them wanted to have the last word. Then, I don't know, I guess what they were saying hit too hard, Harper reacted badly, and he tried to..." He trailed off, unwilling to use those words when the suicidal man himself was standing not four feet away, "And I stopped him. Three years worth of animosity finally boiled over and this cluster fuck of an evening happened."

There were parts left out- of course there were. No love triangles were mentioned, no accusatory fingers were pointed at Xabier who'd popped up in conversation more than once, no content of accusations or defenses made themselves known, no mentions were made of what or how Harper cracked. It was boiled down to its essence of harsh words and bad reactions because in Dorian's heart of hearts he thought that everything that had happened after his little conversation with Tallyho was really fucking stupid. Not "idiotic", not "senseless arguing and violence". No. Dorian's head hurt and he'd just barely kept someone from committing suicide. Really fucking stupid was the only way to describe the situation.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Nikita Machari Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful
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[EDITED 07/09/15]

The ballroom of Ve Marie's castle was one of the most beautiful places they had ever been in. Certainly Mildred's decorating skills had not put to shame the rocky grotto of fine, shining marble, but had enhanced the natural beauty of the stonework with the graceful streams of delicate ribbons, the addition of excessive amounts of the freshest cut flowers, and candles and lamps casting luminous color over tables and the ballroom floor alike, and the colors constantly, slowly seemed to shift and changed from hue to hue. Soft, instrumental music supported the welcoming, celebratory atmosphere, drifting through the crowd with no evident source.

And... Falke couldn't bring himself to enjoy it much at all. Not to sound cliche, of course. As he knew that most of the group wasn't thrilled with the amount of attention they were gathering, or keeping the faces and situation awareness (by a thread, if that at times, from a few certain individuals) they needed to uphold in front of highly important public figures to keep their heads attached to their necks, literally and figuratively as it were. Nor did it help that almost half of the month warriors had vanished from the ballroom proper, leaving the few still left (which included himself) with double or triple the attention to receive and react with.

He'd long since lost any sense of Autumn (or the others, for that matter) after they'd split in the crowd. However, Autumn's occasional power created cold-spots could be accidentally wandered through-out the ballroom floor, leaving him in the mix of all the sheer mental pressure of the swirling crowd having an uncomfortable shiver up his spine and the distasteful remembrance of the constant hissing indeterminable voices surrounding the other warrior's mental aura. It left him weary to even attempt to connect to her again, just to have someone more familiar to talk with, if only briefly. Even though a respite as it would be, especially over the static, white noise rattling around his noggin, being in such a cramped environment of mental activity, Falke doubted she would ever hear his minor, chipped complaints of her ghostly 'baggage' leaving too many cold-spots around. Seriously, though... Couldn't they give her, or anyone for that matter, a rest, for the night?

It was then to his genuine surprise, if not relief per say, to run into a trio of people he really /knew/ - Princess Morgan, Mori, and Karma. His entire sense of Morgan was filled with brimming excitement and mirth that he'd felt in her since... Falke drew in a sharp breath. Since the start of this week. Crows. It had already felt like ages since the battle of the flock, another near week of separation as they healed and political arrangements had been made, and then being forced into the show-and-tell poster child game of this parade, or mass, or that party or this celebration for another almost week after that. They hadn't known the Princess very long, but as far as he could reckon, she'd always been brimming excitement and mirth over something, no matter how small. Mori and Karma, however had their own interesting ups and downs that were more relatable to a common childish mischief, and had been busily indulging the Princess with their presence and company.

A thin genuine smile rested easily on his lips, as Falke dipped his head slightly in greeting, musing softly, "Good evening."

---

Lillian did not seem to mind that Harper had ignored her advice. Or, for that matter, she had not even pretended to notice the appearance of Xabier as if on cue. Nor was her feather's ruffled that both boy's readily ignored her nearby presence in the wake of emotional and physical turmoil with - louder than whispers, half-sobbed, and mild attempts of comforting - conversation. She remained silent, watchful, and pensive at the window overlooking the dusky lit sky. Looking as she always did - distant, golden, and difficult to read. She had the fair, paled honey skin characteristic of the folk of the People's caravan, and her curly, thick hair was a deep shade of gold (tied in an delicate up-do for the moment), giving her, in stillness, the appearance of a statue, some work dedicated to a huntress figure, lean and intense and dangerous. This, however, was only part of the September guardian's personality. As her true beauty could best be seen in motion, as she walked or flew. And the rest of her personality was well polished and hidden on a high shelf, or well, more or less...

Nikita's quick appearance out one of the nearby ballroom door's, in a great movement of rustling cloth, brought the attention of a watchful peripheral glance, and the chance of the beginnings of a perched lip upon Lillian's own thin mouth. The poor dame, rushing about, likely looking for her young'ling Kyle or the annoyed Haru, needed to take a breather sometimes. Things happened, it would be best to wait for a calmer time to get information. Not everyone needed to bear the headache, or heart-attack, if it was already, mostly, properly managed. Too many hands, would be pointless... She did not need to be worried, however, as Nikita's attention seemed to have caught something else further down the passageway, towards the balcony, in deeper shadows and off-placed torches. With a slow blink, Lillian returned to her peaceful gazing.

It was not much longer until another disturbance of the door, caught her reluctant attention, this time being yet another Guardian (apparently the ceremony party-goers, and hopefully most of the warriors, except the two nearby obviously; where still 'enjoying' themselves in the ball-room proper) wandered drearily away from the festivities. This time it was Kit, who had been for the most part rather obnoxiously cheery lately due to apparently being "home", and was looking more like, well himself, his regular self she'd come to know in oh, the One be bothered, far longer than any of them had hoped. Tired, grumpy, and potentially drunkenly depressed of course. This seemed the proper time to garner more than the glance of an eye or pursed lip.

"Love," Lilian sighed; softly but sharply enough to be heard, or listened to at the very least one could hope. Tossing her head like a indignant horse, a good natured, but coyish eye-roll, as she half-turned her body towards the red-head walking almost dejectedly towards her. She continued with a snort, "You look like you're about to fall over..."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful
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Haru wasn’t sure how to respond to the prospect of “being saved” by an overpowered arsonist—to sharing a drink with a man who nearly killed his charges and destroyed the livelihood of his best friend. And for every stroke of ease that oozed from Amber’s gestures: The gesture to a seat, the casual pouring of the drink, Haru responded with rigidity, tension and apprehension.
“It’s not just you, you know,” Amber said clearly through the rim of his glass. Haru could tell that, in some life, Amber was an actor. Or at the very least had the makings of an actor. It was in his poise, the diction of the way he spoke, the fact that he was convincing enough to make Haru give him the time of day.
“You and your warriors—you don’t know what you’re fighting for. If you continue this path you will undoubtedly be crushed. And I can’t guarantee me and my people will be the culprits.”
“Elaborate?”
“I cannot go into further detail. I’m bound.”
“And how am I supposed to take your word?”
“By just taking it,” Amber paused, swishing the alcohol in his glass once more. “If I didn’t want to give you fair warning we would have eliminated your people a long time ago. I’m not telling you anything else.”
Haru frowned. This was a rare opportunity to press Amber for vital information. He downed his first shot and set it on the table next to its mother bottle.
“I’m sure you aren’t bound from a bit of fun. How about a game?”
“A game?”
“Yes. Let’s see who can chug the most whiskey… For a bet. If you win the month warriors will surrender themselves to whatever cause your group is fighting for. If I win I get more information.”
“Haru Karokav… That’s irresponsible,” Amber said unflinchingly.
Haru knew. And he also knew it was irresponsible to make bets he wouldn’t be following up on. But with everything that happened tonight, the guardian was willing to turn every rock in a forest of troubles just to find something of value.
“Are you going to do this or not?” Haru asked.
Amber simmered in the moment for a while before he picked up the bottle and eyed its label—it was a particularly strong and heavy liquor straight from the Isles. And without hesitation the fire man threw his head back and let the burning liquid fall down his throat for a decent amount of time before it welled up and Amber flinched forward trying the keep the liquid from exiting through his nose.
Haru eyed the bottle. Amber drank a significant amount, almost half, of the strong brew. And both men knew that if Haru fared any chance at winning the bet he was going to have to finish the bottle. And so he did. And moments later his small body was consumed and he was struggling to stay awake. Wavering and recalling questions he’d pondered about Amber for months. His questions were more cohesive in the beginning—but of course as time went on he became more incoherent:
“Your group has supernatural abilities beyond basic magic. Abilities that are comparable to those of the month warriors….”
“We orphans—we have a lot more in common with you warriors than you think.”
“Orphans…” Haru said pensively.
Amber looked up, a look of surprise briefly flashing across his face. “Did I not introduce us as such the night of the fire? Perhaps you were too shaken to pay that much attention.”
Haru grunted, “What do you orphans want, anyway?”
“To preserve the Aires we know today—”
“Full of cyclopean? Are you works of oblivion?”
“I cannot answer that, I’m bound.”
“Are you enemies of the Goddess?”
“I cannot answer.”
Haru was beginning to feel like he wasn’t going to get anything else from this fiery tormentor.
“I cannot tell you these things. But I can tell you where to find the answers. Listen carefully and consider this my last olive branch…”
Haru leaned forward. Trying his best to focus in his drunken stupor. This was it. This is what he was waiting for.
It was so much information crunched into so little word. Haru was overtaken by his thoughts as Amber described a giant crack in the ground and a dreamscape. A glowing book of truth at the core of the planet—an alternate reality full of the most cursed Arian horrors and Arian apocrypha.
“Just remember. You knowledge of this book alone will not keep us away. Our ultimate goal is to eliminate the month warriors and I will give you no head starts. From this day on we will be active in our attempts. And it would be in your best interest to find the truth and make sure your warriors use the truth wisely before we find them first. Only then can we exist in harmony.”
And Amber was done speaking. When Haru looked over he was met with a mound of ashes.
He grunted once more and his head lulled back as he fell into a drunken slumber, destined for a hangover.
There was no denying the crying and Tallyho had to own it as best she could. Dorian’s presence helped. He rubbed familiar circles on her back and Tallyho was reminded that she’d often considered Dorian…a circular kind of person. Circles were stable and smoothed. Filled with an essence of calmness.
But the Tallyho who truly knew Dorian knew that this wasn’t the case. Much of the group saw Dorian as a communal rock when he was really as fragile as anyone else could be. Tallyho then felt guilty being so emotional at that moment when Dorian had been in the fray of it too. And much of the fray was because of her.
Tallyho pulled back and reached for Dorian’s injured hand gently squeezing his fingers.
“I’m sorry,” she said. She wanted to cosign that apology from so many others—including Harper—but she was well aware that she could only speak for herself.
Looking at Dorian, Tallyho felt a lump in her throat that had never quite settled before. She studied his features more carefully than she had before—he was handsome both physically and in his demeanor. A day before she would have stared at Dorian for 10 straight minutes without a flinch—without thinking much of it at all (and even making fun of him)— but now she felt herself passing more discrete glances in quick and quiet pulses, hiding behind a flush of rose.
She didn’t think that her first experience feeling for another human in this way would be so matter-of-fact, curt and blunt. The girls in her caravan handled their crushes with carefree giddiness. They saw someone they barely knew but thought was cute and exhausted what little feeling they really had for the boy in a week-long burst of obsession before allowing his memory to fade into the obscurity of their childhoods.
Tallyho didn’t argue with herself as to whether or not she felt affection for Dorian. In that moment she recognized this and owned it.
And she figured she would have been able to say it—that’s how straightforward their friendship was, after all—But for some reason she couldn’t dig the words from the pit of her voice box. So she sat staring at him, gripping his hand in a daze of stupor. A seizure, in her opinion, would have been a better placeholder.
And then Kyle came in. Tallyho still had tears in her eyes but she didn’t wipe them. Kyle seemed to be particularly concerned about offending Tallyho and this was extremely apparent. There was no point in Tallyho being so guarded with situation—the blonde had already offered a part of herself to Dorian so there were no excuses for withholding herself from an innocent perosn trying to offer friendship.
“Kyle… You’re fine,” she said as she extended her hand with a firm handshake in mind.
Morgan was having a grand time at the party and she owed the night to Mori and Karma. Though Karma was defiant when it came to learning how to waltz like a proper lady, she still appreciated the company and found Karma’s quips witty and humorous. After a while she gave up trying to teach the kids to dance and led the way to a table of fantastic horderves and sweets.
They were soon approached by Falke who seemed to Morgan like a very kind man. The first few times seeing him after they first met threw her for a loop because she wasn’t sure if he was truly blind of not. He seemed to move freely and she didn’t want to assume.
“Hello Falke, how are you? Would you like to dance?” She chirped, voice shaking with energy.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Princess Morgan the Graceful Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá
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”Yes, well, I certainly feel like I’m about to fall over. Considering how hard this wave of depression hit, it’s a miracle I’m still standing… At least they seem to be having fun… Seems everything turns to ruin so quickly these days, huh? For every accomplishment there must be a hundred steps back…”

Lillian eyed him cautiously as he sleepily drew nearer, making snarky, after snarkier remarks as he went - watching in the corners Xabier and Harper making amends of sorts, she could only assume. When he finally came to stand beside her, she softly rolled her eyes, as a light sigh whistled through her teeth, and she turned her head to look at the star speckled sky above with a faint air of wistfulness. This was hardly her forte… “Oh, Kit…” She hummed, pausing, glancing up at him with a callous snort. As she eased her weight back on her heels, the top of her head brushed the tips of his sharp, angular shoulders, as she leaned close against the other guardian. “Just shut up, and hold me…”

It was not a gesture of intended comfort or intent, and she did not intended it to be so. Or rather, Lillian would never admit it, despite how she could read people (and a person she’d known for ages now with his depression and tendencies). The gesture was merely for the companionship of quiet, shut-up and hold her, and that was that. If asked why, as the November warrior could guess as he knew her well enough, she’d likely merely blame it on his warrior’s silly obsession with having her ghost’s watching everything going on and leaving blasted cold-spots around.

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”Hello Falke, how are you? Would you like to dance?”

Falke could feel the infectious excitement radiating from her mind, and most obviously her shaking voice. However, it wasn’t infectious enough for him, and his conscience of the situation (and his own, for that matter) at hand. “I am well,” He mused, pausing. Noting that in the presence of really the ‘hostess’ of the country that was holding all these parties and parades and ceremony in the month warriors honor, the attention or random strangers walking up to talk to him had faded significantly – at least the hordes seemed to respect something! It was hard not to let the glimmer of relief rest on his face, and to be honest he did not really try. He continued, lightly, almost apologetically, “I’m afraid I shouldn’t, I’d only trip over my own feet.” Falke loved to dance, really. From learning the waltz balancing on his mother’s toes, or from the recent adventures of Tallyho dragging him and his bummed leg around in elegantly silly, swirling dances of her culture, singing the new words but old songs Lillian had given her. But now, was not the time nor the place, and frankly if he tried to extend his powers to ‘see’ his surrounds enough to try and dance – his head would probably explode, especially after that earlier fiasco. “It’s the eyes, always a bother at parties or dances, sorry…”