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Astrid Grünewald

"Only a fool defies the Nightfangs, only the wicked deserve their wrath."

405 views · located in The West

a character in “Exalted: A Tale in the Time of Tumult”, as played by Sepokku

Description

Name: Astrid GrünewaldType and Caste/Aspect: Lunar Exalted, of the Full Moon Caste
Nature: Vigilante (Against Deathlords)
Anima Banner: Silvery flames
Totem Animal: White Tiger (Formerly Diamondback Rattlesnake)

Image



Attributes




Physical

STRENGTH (4) DEXTERITY (5) STAMINA (5)

Social

CHARISMA (2) MANIPULATION (1) APPEARANCE (4)

Mental

PERCEPTION (5) INTELLIGENCE (1) WITS (3)



Abilities


WARFARE

ARCHERY--------- 0
ATHLETICS------- 3
AWARENESS------ 2
DODGE----------- 4
INTEGRITY------- 0
MARTIAL ARTS--- 5
MELEE------------ 0
RESISTANCE------ 3
THROWN--------- 0
WAR-------------- 0


LIFE
CRAFT------------- 0
LARCENY---------- 0
LINGUISTICS------ 4
PERFORMANCE--- 0
PRESENCE-------- 4
RIDE-------------- 0
SAIL--------------- 0
SOCIALIZE-------- 0
STEALTH---------- 0
SURVIVAL--------- 0



WISDOM
BUREAUCRACY--- 0
INVESTIGATION---- 0
LORE----------- 0
MEDICINE------ 0
OCCULT-------- 0

SPECIALTIES
Showing Off (Martial Arts)
Acute Hearing (Awareness)
Threats (Presence)
Acrobatics (Athletics)
When Unarmed (Dodge)



YOUR LIFE



PERSONALITY
Terse, and slightly quiet, owing much to her long time spent in solitude. Due to a sense of duty, she finds it difficult to run from a fight, especially when others are at risk. After losing close friends, she's a bit of a loner and unwilling to get close to anyone. Since living alone most of her life, Astrid has become overtly strong-willed, unable to compromise, and sometimes entirely thoughtless.

Motivation(s)
    Battle
    Good Food
    Worthy Enemies
    Defending the Weak
    Smiting Evil
    A good drink
    Her Tribe

VIRTUES
COMPASSION: 1
TEMPERANCE: 1
CONVICTION: 4
VALOR: 4

LIMIT BREAK
You die and I live
Life on her own has had it's impact, everyone she get's close to seems to die while she seems unable to be bested. Since she "can't die" Astrid becomes absolutely bull-headed, refusing to listen to others and following her own plans to completion regardless of the cost. Uncompromising is an understatement as she is unwilling to adapt on the fly to even matters that would be potentially deadly. Perhaps the young lady secretly harbors a death wish, or perhaps she is merely overly confident in her skills. Once she cracks, however, nothing can dissuade her from her task.

MERITS
Double-Jointed: Exalted with this merit are uncanny contortionists, able to maintain a perfect split indefinitely, bend each finger to the wrist, kick their legs straight up, or even dislocate and reset joints painlessly. This means escaping grapples and most restraints is child's play for these Exalted
Omnidexterous: The Exalted is able to use either hand or feet as readily as one would their dominant hand. Theoretically the Exalted could wield four weapons or tool in this way, though matters of balance and common sense still apply.
Acute Senses: This Exalted has hearing of preternatural acuity, able to navigate entirely by pitch and reflection of echoes

FLAWS
Chimera: Lunars with this flaw have forsook their original Totem animal, and as such that form is a hybrid of both creatures. This leads other Lunars to distrust them, as they appear to be falling to the Chimera.
Barbarian: Growing up in the wild has rendered Astrid illiterate, civilized society tends to stay away from her and her brusque attitude
Beacon of Power: This Exalted possesses only one Essence pool, which is both pools combined. Every activation of motes brings out her Anima Banner.



PHYSICAL APPEARANCE
Image


Long raven hair, that extends almost down to her feet, an arm that is entirely obsidian colored, and eyes of amber. Normally she dresses simply, forgoing the armored shell of a knight for the grace of a huntress. Rarely does her obsidian colored arm get shown, as she wraps it in bandages to hide the deformity. After the Exaltation, she began to carry herself like a predator, mimicking their posture and gait. Her tell manifests in tiger's fangs and a sandpaper tongue. Thanks to the Nightwitches, a cascade of runic silvery tattoos adorns her skin, marking her as a Lunar and denoting her various victories and losses.

BACKGROUND

Astrid's father was killed by bandits before she was born, and her mother died in childbirth. For a time she was raised in an orphanage, until a kind and burly man adopted her. That man happened to be a nomadic Barbarian named Lem, who's own wife and children were stolen by the Fair folk. He taught Astrid everything he knew about fighting. They traveled the lands, doing what they could to stem the tide of growing evil throughout the land.

While trying to hunt down a sect of the Cult of the Darkness's Unseeing Eye that had been stealing children, Astrid's adoptive father met his end. In a rage, Astrid attempted to get revenge for her father immediately, even though she was already wounded, surrounded, and heavily outnumbered. Screaming her throat raw, she threw herself at the cultists. For every blow they landed she landed six more, rage fueling her onslaught. It was then that she was chosen as one of Luna's Beloved, one of the tri-fold aspects of Luna, the Warrior Queen, impressed with Astrid's skill and vigor, appeared before her and gifted the girl with Exaltation. The Cultists no longer stood a chance, and once the slaughter was over she cremated her father, as was his custom.

She continued to wander the lands, lost and without a cause besides spreading her father's ashes slowly over the Earth he loved to travel. It wasn't long before rumors of a shape-changing woman spreading ashes around Creation caught the Silver Pact's ear. The Lunar Sorcerers found shortly after, putting her through the trials that were customary. With newfound purpose, she undertook these trials set before her by others like her. Upon graduation, they deemed her a Full-Moon, one of the warriors of the Luna. At the time she was still a young teen, but she set out the moment her mentor deemed her ready; determined to effect change.

Continuing to wander, but now searching for stronger and more powerful evils, Astrid continued her father's legacy; growing into a fine combatant along the way. Many nights were spent hunting animals in their own skin. In civilized societies, people tended to treat her with distaste, due much to her barbaric nature. She never made many friends, preferring a life of solitude to that of a socialite.

People die, especially when their line of work is hunting Deathknights; with that in mind, Astrid found herself unwilling to befriend others, even though her good looks caused many to try. For a short time she even hunted with a group of other Lunars, though this didn't last long as her brash and bull-headed attitude scared away the few that tried. The only one that stayed was a No-Moon named Mila, that Astrid grew exceedingly close to. They hunted together, slept together, and traveled Creation as partners.

One day, the two bit off more than they could chew. It was only supposed to be a single Deathknight, one that was living off a pittance and terrorizing a village. However what they DID find, two Deathknights working in concert, and that had amassed an army. They tried to run, using essence to flee, but Astrid was caught and certain to die. Mila turned back to save her, managing to free Astrid but at the cost of her life. Knowing death was certain and refusing to let Mila's sacrifice be in vain, Astrid fled, in tears. She has no clue how far she ran, but she found herself in an entirely new land.

In her new land, she finally made a home for herself, accidentally declaring herself de facto Goddess of a small tribe. Though she never grew particularly close to anyone, she did learn to love the people living in her village. She protected each of them like a mother bear, tearing through anyone who dared threaten their peace. Her heart still cried for her adoptive father and her now dead partner, but the villagers still needed her. Luna had ensured that she would live for this purpose. Passing Exalted sometimes lauded over her prowess, but since Mila's death she refused to join any of them.

Becoming chief of the village gave her life a new sense of purpose, and from there a fire sprang up in the girl. The tribe as a whole became her new family, one that could potentially outlive even her.




MAGIC, GEAR AND TALENTS

Essence score: 3
Health: 8/8 (10/10 in Beastman form)
Willpower pool: 8/8




Essence motes
Essence Pool: Personal: N/A (half your willpower+your essence score+1) Peripheral: 28 (your full willpower + (essence score X 4))


CHARMS
7/7 Charms

1. First Dexterity Excellency (Dexterity 1 1M/Tick Duration: Instant) Some Lunar Exalted excel at using their natural talents. The Exalt’s player can invoke this Charm when making a roll based on the relevant Attribute. This Charm adds one die to that roll per mote spent. This Charm is the most common source of dice added to rolls; no combination of Charms can add more than (Attribute) dice to the roll. This Charm can also enhance unrolled uses of the relevant Attribute. Common examples of this are increasing Defense Values with the Dexterity Excellency, climbing the Feat of Strength chart with the Strength Excellency or increasing alcohol Tolerance with the Stamina Excellency. When enhancing a static value, each success rolled with dice from this Excellency increases the effective relevant Attribute by two for an instant. Thus, one success increases Defense Value by one. This Excellency, other Excellencies and other dice-adding Charms cannot “create” actions. They may supplement existing actions or increase static values that are already in use. Each Charm use also functions only for a single instant or task—the Charm supplements a single attack or defense but must be activated multiple times for multiple attacks or defenses, even on the same tick.
2. Eye of the Cat: (Perception 4 1M Duration: One Scene) Stewards can see the impossible. The character automatically notices anything within eyeshot, earshot or scent range that is not currently a valid target for a Perception roll based on one of those senses. If it denies the Lunar’s player any roll whatsoever to notice or detect something, the Lunar sees it perfectly. This includes immaterial beings such as gods and demons. It also covers targets so perfectly invisible, scentless or silent that there is no chance for a Perception roll. Against targets that the character could notice, even if the possibility is slight, this Charm provides no benefit. Add the Lunar’s (Essence) in automatic successes when another Charm contests this effect. Activating this Charm in conjunction with Relentless Lunar Fury provides its benefits for the duration.
3. Deadly Beastman Transformation: (Charisma 2 2M Duration: Indefinite) - Resilience of Nature/Horrifying Might +2 Stamina, +1 Dexterity, +4 Strength The Lunar assumes a hybrid form of her Totem Animal and herself, a veritable 'Warform' which becomes one of her True Forms. She also gains certain gifts and increased attributes. Resilience of nature gift allow the Exalted to heal from wounds almost instantly, this effect continues even when unconscious making the Exalted hard to kill. The second gift adds an additional +2 attribute points (+2 Strength, already taken into account above)
4. Sense Sharpening Change: (1M per Tick Perception 2 Duration: One Scene) Using this Charm, the Lunar can heighten all of his senses far beyond that. His ears grow to better hear sounds, eyes grow and dilate to enhance sight, and nostrils flare to better pick up scents. She can even taste individual ingredients in a meal, or feel the slightest wind on her skin. She may not spend more Motes on this then she has perception
5. God-Cutting Essence: (Perception 4 1M Duration: Instant Prerequisite: Eye of the Cat) Luna imbued her Chosen to overthrow the oppressors of Creation. With her supernal perceptive abilities, the Steward knows exactly where to channel her Essence in order to disrupt even an immaterial spirit. This Charm supplements any attack, allowing it to harm immaterial spirits and inflict aggravated damage against them.
6. Deadly Beastman Transformation 2: (Charisma 2 2M Duration: Indefinite Prerequisites: Can only take once per Essence score) - Wound-Knitting Power +1 Dex +1 Strength. This gift allows the Exalted to heal from deadly wounds almost instantly, this effect continues even while the Exalted is unconscious, making her extremely hard to kill. (Total stat adjustment: +2 Stamina, +2 Dexterity, +5 Strength)
7. Blood on the Wind: (Perception 3 2M/1WP Duration: Indefinite) - The Exalted becomes unable to lose a target, across hard stone, white-water rapids and through the most overpowering opium dens or raging firestorms, the Lunar does not lose the trail. When making a tracking roll she need only roll a single success to follow any mundane prey. If the Exalted has tasted the target's blood, even Charms are ineffective at hiding from the Exalted. Furthermore, if the Lunar is in Beastman Form she is considered a Supernatural Tracker, can track any mortal target, and has a number of automatic successes in contests against other supernatural trackers equal to her essence rating.

COMBOS

!!!!!BONUS POINTS!!!!!
10/10 Used (6 on Essence Rank, 3 to Physical stats, 1 on Valor)

PREFERRED FIGHTING STYLE

Beastman Rending
Spears thrown from the foot
Tri/Dual-wielding axes
Aiki-jūjutsu

LANGUAGES KNOWN

High Realm
SkyTongue
RiverSpeak
Northern Barbarian Dialect (Common enough to speak a few)
ForestTongue

EQUIPMENT AND POSSESSIONS

Two sets of tattered clothes

Two sets of Metal Gauntlets and Greaves

Three Axes

Two Spears

Two Cold Iron Spears

Eight Pine Resin Bombs

Eight Lamp-oil Bombs

Various ribbons

Eight leather belts

A large rucksack

Portrait of Lem and Astrid

Three Waterskins

Two Whetstones

A large metal shield

Image

So begins...

Astrid Grünewald's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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She took a breath and calmed her excitedly racing heart—yes she was terribly eager by the glimpse she’d gotten of what was upon the horizon, but she needed to keep a certain level of sang-froid. If her eyes were not deceiving her against the glare of the morning twilight, then it seemed that Fakharu’s palace was gold? Indeed, she might question the architectural tastes of whoever designed the place, nevertheless though, the prospect of seeing a place that was not just decorated with gold, but actually constructed in its entirety.... How fascinating, even if it was garish and rather a waste. Still, she needed to quell her anticipation; she wasn’t here merely for the sights and general experience of it all. Lux was here because Fakharu needed her and the assistance of the others, for some unknown reason. Though the group all had their own notions and had mused over it, they were really no closer to knowing for certain the magnitude of the situation they were asked to assist with.

One of her hands found their way overtop her heart, as she took in a rather deep and measured breath as she forced her heartrate to slow, but the smile never left her face. Lux’s attention was caught, though, when she heard the sound of a sword drawn from its sheathe, which caused her to cast her gaze toward Calliope who’d taken it upon herself to now sharpen one of her swords...the shape of the blade piqued Lux’s curiosities, momentarily distracting her. She recalled seeing sword like those in her travels from time-to-time, but could not recollect the proper term.... It wasn’t til she heard the heavy, metallic footfalls that ceased at her side that she returned to reality, Artisan standing rather near her. Her eyes trailed over to him, as he began to speak. He spoke of Fakharu, and the knowledge he possessed of him. Some of the information he revealed, she’d know, other parts of it, she had not. Until now, Lux couldn’t remember ever having heard the term “Seven Censors,” but it was as she’d speculated before. Fakharu was someone who was due respect.

Mimicking her in a manner, Artisan seemed to look upon those who’d responded to Fakharu’s letters, likely gathering his thoughts on herself and the rest. She still was unsure of what to make of this man, but, she would give him as much of a chance as anyone else. Sans Calliope, she herself was the only one of the group who hadn’t either willing revealed or had someone else reveal their Caste. Given the impression Lux got off Calliope, she wasn’t a Dragon-Blooded like herself, which meant she might be alone in that regard. Ashen seemed to have suspected her status, he’d made a comment before about how she seemed awful casual about traveling with a lot of “Anathema.” She was far from an idiot; she knew that Dragon-Blooded and other Exalted had bad blood between them, and a majority carried that ancient ill-will through to the present day, and those prejudices were still fresh for many.... Lux, in a manner of speaking, considered herself fortunate to not have been raised within the Realm or alongside any other prevalent group of Dragon-Blooded. She never had those archaic views ingrained into her from before she was capable of independent thought. Though her life hadn’t been idyllic in anyway, at least it’d allowed her the gift of free thought, she was allowed to form her own opinions without having her view skewed by some outdated, preconceived notion.

Her Caste and her status as a Terrestrial amongst Celestials could become problematic, though she held none of the views so common amid her Exalted kin...the others didn’t yet know that, and it was quite possible they’d judge her upon those merits. For now, even if Ashen had his suspicions, Lux figured it’d be best to keep quiet about her Caste for as long as conceivably possible. Til, at least, she’d hopefully established a strong enough rapport with everyone that it wouldn’t impede their budding camaraderie.

Ashen let out a low whistle, himself taking in the sight of Fakharu’s opulent abode whilst Astrid, still donning the form of a cat, trotted off, heading below deck—Lux had noticed her little ears flattening against her skull.... Perhaps in revulsion? While she herself was somewhat excited by what was before them, Lux could understand why one might gaze upon Fakharu’s grandiose palace and feel a bit queasy.

The minutes passed by in silence, as the ship drew ever closer to where it would dock, right as soon as the dawn was upon them proper. Unsurprisingly, to Lux at least, the wharf to which their ship was guided was just as elaborate as the ship and Fakharu’s spire. Off in the near distance, she could make out a sort of rather well-maintained garden.... Almost as soon as the ship had come to a standstill, and a board was set out for them to disembark, Ashen was already out onto the pier. Lux had nothing to gather from below deck, and thus was able to follow suit with little hesitation. As she stepped off the ship and onto the pier, she wobbled a bit and took up Ashen’s unspoken offer of assistance in keeping herself upright. She had been on boats and ships few times in the past, but since she rarely ventured beyond the bounds of The Scavenger Lands, she didn’t exactly cope well going between land and sea at a moment’s notice.

Whilst Lux rectified her posture, and got back her balance, a quintet of well-adorned women approached their group, one of them—Nagasani bowed, greeting them, introducing herself, and the other four. They were meant to be their escorts. Lux was dumbfounded for a moment; they were all very...lovely. Not surprising, considering the surroundings, regardless, she couldn’t help her brief stupor.

....oh, Creation, she was staring.

She was staring at these five lovely women like a fool. Realizing her faux pas, Lux’s posture went a little rigid, as she felt her face flush red in embarrassment. Why did she stare? She thought she was over doing that...!

Upon the realization that she was staring, a moment of absolute panic overcame Lux, and reflexively made an attempt to give the five women a wider berth than the few feet between them by taking a couple of steps backward...only to forget in her fretfulness that she was still rather near Ashen, who’d helped her. Gracelessly, she ended up fully backing into him with some measure of force, enough that she nearly knocked him backward off his feet. As Lux regained some few of her scruples, she comprehended what she’d just done, and hastily turned on her heel, grabbing onto Ashen without any thought to where her hands were gripping, simply concerned with righting her mistake, and kept him from tipping over the edge of the pier into the shallow water below. Something of a yelp came out of her, as she almost went crashing with him, only to regain her footing and balance at the last moment, keeping herself and he from tumbling over.

He’d helped keep her from falling onto her backside and here she had nearly knocked him over, and was still touching him while violating his personal space. A tiny squeak came from Lux’s throat as she righted herself, giving Ashen space and sidestepping a few feet to the right. She stood there, her arms stiff and straight at her sides, as she felt the entirety of her face redden further.

Figures, she sees several attractive individuals and she makes an utter dolt of herself. Why did this happen to her after managing to go so long without incident...? It'd been a while since she had a mental shutdown of this magnitude. Even beforehand, before she and everyone one else had introduced themselves proper, she'd not had a lapse in thought, though several members of her traveling party were definitely rather striking themselves. Perhaps it was because she had time to process each, one by one, whereas, this time, the appearance of the five maidens was...sudden? Or, maybe it was their overwhelming aesthetics?

Lux took in a sharp breath, and bowed at the waist very harshly, arms still straight while her lantern creaked in protest to the sudden action. “A-Ah, it’s a pleasure to meet you all! Our journey was perfectly enjoyable!” she greeted the five women, her voice too loud, and shaky. She stood back to her full height, “My name is Lux, and I-I think we’d be more than happy to have you ladies as our escorts!” Still too loud.

The women stared at Lux, their expressions unaffected by her awkward introduction and demeanor, they were quiet a moment before one of them spoke, Periya, the one adorned in Moonsilver responded, her voice calming and sweet, “Thank you, Honored Exalted, Lux. We will guide you to Lord Fakharu the moment the rest of your companions are prepared.” Perhaps they were used to this sort of reaction, then?

Lux swallowed, face still red. “Th-thank you! That sounds best....”

Heavens, it would be fantastic if she could compose herself...alas, what an impression she must be making, not to mention what Ashen was probably thinking of her now, and what the rest of the group would think of her as well. A nearly inaudible, miserable noise came from Lux’s throat again, as she brought a hand up over her face in embarrassment.

She peeked out from behind her hand, expression dismayed as she looked over in shame at Ashen, Gods did she owe him an apology.... "Ashen, I-I am SO sorry for nearly knocking you over, I-I, oh, goodness...."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Castle
Not long before the group disembarked, Calliope retrieved the rest of her belongings. Her sword seemed sharpened to her taste, but before she returned the stone to her pocket, she gazed upon it. It was once smooth from the mountain stream that flowed past her home. She had grown since she first found it. It appeared smaller in her palm than ever before. In the places where Calliope's small fingers once struggled to enclose around it, she now held it comfortably. It reminded her of the days she spent antagonized by her brothers, sharpening twigs in the snow, trying desperately to get the upper hand in their next quarrel. She allowed the thought to pass, and hid the stone away.

Calliope returned from her room with her black, leather weapons bag. The bag was sizable, about as tall as she was, but she slung it around her shoulder like it was the size of a coin purse. It hung suspended from her back with a single thick strap. Along the strap were intricate designs and ancient ruins embossed and painted in gold. They originated from her ancestors, the Dragon Kings: the Pterok. One rune requested protection from the Gods of war and life, while the others allegedly enhanced attack and awareness. In fact, Calliope's whole weapons bag seemed adorned in a myriad of blessings and runes. The Empire was very superstitious, but she at least found the symbols comforting.

Aside from the hulking bag, Calliope travelled light, like most of the others. She had one extra pair of robes in a smaller compartment on her weapons bag, a tightly wound bedroll she managed to fit somewhere in the bag, a hair brush she prized greatly, and enough rations divided in small amounts to last maybe three weeks. The robes she wore now were less for combat and more for presentation. On each shoulder was a white lotus like design. A coveted flower by her village that somehow grows in a sacred water not far away. Her robes had a high, upturned collar, and they were held together by a large pink bow under which she tucked excess material.

Calliope returned to the deck. The light of the sun made her complexion less jarring. The sun was something that was dear to her, it felt good on her skin, and she took a moment to enjoy it, inhaling and exhaling, but it wasn't long before all of them were off the ship and onto the next hurdle.

The Noble was unperturbed by Lux's sudden tizzy, but still intrigued. If one didn't know any better Calliope's posture and manner would have seemed to fit right in with one of the five women that greeted them. Well, one thing that did set her apart was the vexed expression she had on her face at all times, a compliment of her furrowed brow. Calliope did, however, let out a short, guttural and masculine laugh, and stated, "I find this variety of courting mmost entertaining," totally misinterpreting the whole turn of events.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Sepokku
The vessel had reached its destination, docking at a nearby wharf that was as lavishly decorated as the palace that Fakharu resided in. Artisan had never seen a better constructed jetty, and he couldn't help but admire its opulence. It wasn't long after docking that his slave came above deck carrying his belonging and.... another bag? He demanded while raising a querulous eye brow, "What, um... Why do you have that?"

The slave shrugged and mumbled out, "This cat below deck wouldn't let me leave without it. It was... kind of intimidating..." It was then that noticed Artisan a small black cat, Astrid, who somehow looked smug even though she was a simple housecat, following the slave with a very pleased strut. "Uh...Huh... Well nothing for it I suppose." Refusing to explain that even he was afraid of the cat, he allowed the slave who was visibly straining under the weight, to carry her belongings.

The slave began to disembark with his master, and though the slave was too remiss to really understand what was happening, his master began to grow a shade of red as he noticed the activity going on between Ashen Sky and Lux. Though one might mistake it for embarrassment, it was sheer rage that colored him as such. Ever since his own loved ones had been violently torn from Creation, the Deathknight harbored a grudge against anyone else experiencing such bliss. Artisan made a mental note of the situation and cataloged it for later, in case they actually were lovers. Such love certainly wouldn't survive the Underworld... He could feel the desire to end them boiling in his heart, and fighting it back was bringing the Great Curse upon him. Just in time to make introductions too, oh joy.


Astrid trotted up from below deck, finding that most of the party had already began to depart the boat. Following the slave that she had yowled into submission, and refusing to leave her feline form, she hopped onto the railing and evaluated her options. Lux and Ashen had clumsily fell into each other, each one seeming to grow more awkward than the other with each action. She hated the Deathknight, so he was out of the question and Ioa seemed too bubbly to be a comfortable ride. Disregarding them, Astrid took note of the pink lady carrying herself with grace and dignity. Deciding upon a perch, the housecat leaped onto Calliope and draped herself around her shoulders, stomach touching the nape of the Northerner's neck. With a lazy yawn, she let out a mewl of appreciation.

Ashen and Lux seemed to be getting rather intimate with each other, which made her idly think whether or not Lux would bear strong Beastmen. Which led her to pondering whether Ashen had any such children in Creation. Certainly as a male he must have many, though she envied not his gender. It was obvious who the superior gender was, just look at Calliope and herself.


Ever so carefully, Artisan hoisted himself onto the ship's railing and hopped onto the pier. Fakharu's entourage began to approach, five women that were each beautiful in their own way, and struggling not to laugh at the comedy act playing out before them. Tucking a stray lock of ghostly white hair behind his ear, he approached them with a greeting and began formerly introducing them all, albeit a bit strained. "Greetings Nāgasāni, I am The Artisan That Which Death Clings, the two lovebirds behind me are Lux Fiala and Ashen Sky, respectively," gesturing to each of them in turn. "The exotic beauty there is Calliope Lordes, cat around her shoulders being Astrid Grunewald. And finally the rambunctious youth here is Ioa.

With a smile, the pale man finished, "We're all pleased to be of assistance to Lord Fakharu. You may lead the way, and we'll render what service we can." After all, SOMEONE had to be the diplomat in this situation, otherwise they'd upset one of the seven censors. Somehow that course of action didn't quite appeal to Artisan. Though his resonance was getting in the way, he felt as if he did an adequate job.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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Ashen laughed at her apology, though she could tell it was forced, and tense. She buried her burning face into her hands, groaning to herself. He was just as embarrassed as she was, which, he didn’t have a reason to be. After all, she was the one who’d blundered up so terribly, “Accident’s ‘appen, no body got hurt. It’s all fine. I’m more flattered ye’d be jumpin’ me so soon than anythin’. It’s rather bold o’ ye.”

....what? What had he just…WHAT?!

Although Lux did hear the nervous chuckle that came from Ashen, following that comment, it didn’t exactly process well. Even if it was just meant to be a lighthearted response to her apology, and assurance that all was otherwise fine as far as he was concerned.... Lux hunched over, mortified while a muffled choking noise came from her throat, it took all she had not to scream into her hands. Why couldn’t he have just said everything was fine, why did he have to...flirt? Even if it was in jest, why? She never knew how to react to those sorts of comments! It just...it made all this so much worse! Though, she honestly might deserve this, karmic retribution for managing to not only make a fool of herself, but Ashen as well. Very nearly she managed to knock him over the edge of the pier, and basically groped him too...! She’d grabbed without thinking, acting purely in the moment, and when she’d done so he’d made as much of an awkward noise as she did; which, something felt a little…more malleable than it should’ve but she couldn’t place why with how muddled her brain was?

Gods…this was a disaster. And just when Lux thought and hoped that it couldn’t get any worse, she heard a single, throaty laugh, “I find this variety of courting mmost entertaining.”

Why did it have to get worse? Naturally, it would get worse. Such was her luck, it seemed. Whenever she went and made herself seem a nimrod, events played out that exacerbated those traits of hers. Ashen had to teasingly flirt with her at her expense while Calliope seemed to absolutely mean what she had said. She took that whole bit of torment as...courtship? Did she truly now think that they were courting?!

“You two okay?” Ioa asked, before going onto speak with the quintet of handmaidens, and Lux wasn’t able to even form a coherent word to respond. No, no she was most certainly not okay right now. For the umpteenth time in a matter of minutes, all Lux could bring herself to do was to groan, though this time it was a rather loud one. She was beyond saving face, any sense of honor or integrity she had left was in shreds. There was no way to salvage this, so there was no sense in holding it in, really. ....it did make her feel a little better, at least.

The sounds of heavy metallic footsteps approached from behind, from the boat, and Lux knew it was Artisan’s turn to speak and likely comment about this pathetic display, he introduced himself in a more formal and dignified manner than the rest, but.... “...the two lovebirds behind me...”

Lux’s body began to quake a little bit—this was too much and it was too ridiculous! Ashen had to poke fun, Calliope honestly thought that they were courting and even Artisan, who had quite a bit of venom in his voice when he’d said it, had called them lovebirds. She knew she had made an ass of herself; did he have to speak with such distaste? Wasn’t making a fool of herself enough? Why did she have to stare at the quintet of handmaidens? That was something she’d worked so hard to stop doing, and she hadn’t had the problem of staring at aesthetically pleasing folk for at least two months now! She should have known that Fakharu would employ only the loveliest of mortals, being what he was.

After Artisan concluded his introduction, Lux’s embarrassment and frustration hit its limit. The ‘lovebird’ comment was too much for her to handle, as overwhelmingly humiliated as she already was, and...something snapped. Perhaps it was her patience, perhaps it was her temper, either way; there wasn’t a way for Lux to continue quietly wallowing in her shame. Uncaring of impressions or how she might now be perceived, her head snapped up, an exasperated expression adorning her still reddened face. Her usually gentle features showed a fierceness few would think Lux capable ever of, before she shouted at Artisan, fuming, “We are NOT lovebirds! I’m fully aware that I’ve made an ass of myself and all of us by proxy; you needn’t rub it in and be so bitter!” she huffed through her nose, before she turned on her heel, her composure returning, irritation causing her mind to clear and return to clarity. Sighing and setting a hand overtop her heart; she breathed in deep and did her best to soothe her nerves.

Although Fakharu’s quintet of lovely handmaidens had left her in a daze prior, this time, she wouldn’t allow it, and while Lux was aware she couldn’t mend the impression she’d made prior, she could still at least put forth effort. Moving the hand she had overtop her heart, Lux move it higher til the whole of her forearm was diagonally across her chest, while she straightened her other arm at her side, and offered the handmaidens a more formal and proper bow. “I know first impressions cannot be done away with, nevertheless, I wish to apologize for staring at you ladies, and will not attempt to save face with a lie, I was caught off-guard by your collective beauty. However, you’ve my word that I have regained myself and will not be so uncouth again.” Lux stood back upright, “Though I offered my name before, I did so poorly—my name is Lux Fiala, I’m here at the beck and call of Lord Fakharu, and am prepared to listen to his request in full.”

Though her nerves were still a bit shot, and she was still quivering a bit from the remnants of frustration, Lux did her best to maintain a calm exterior.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Wake
The former pirate winced a bit as Lux exploded. He'd made that bit of faux flirting just as a means of try to down play the whole debacle as just innocently humorous accident. However everyone else seemed to take it as actual intimacy. Ashen Sky could brush off the insinuations rather easily but the younger girl, who seemed to take the comments a bit more personally and was slightly over whelmed by the attention her mistake had brought upon her. Artisan's quip at them seemed to be the final kicker that caused her outburst, and Ashen figured h'd probably owe her an apology later for indirectly making things worse.




Nāgasāni had managed to keep a straight face through the bulk of their exalted quest antics, but only barely managed to suppress her urge to start giggling when the young woman Lux had her outburst as a result of the other's teasing. Her 'sisters' weren't as in control however, and some had to cover their mouths to hide the smiles that threatened to break. "My my, well I am most certainly flattered by your complements lady Lux, as sir Ashen said, it is quite bold of you. And worry not we take no offense. "

Turning slightly she gave another short bow to the Abyssal of the group. "Thank you sir Artisan That Which Death Clings for the introductions." Then she returned her attention to the group at large. "And thank you all for answering our lords summons. He has been most eager for your arrival and will be pleased to know that you are here. To answer the question sir Ioa asked, Lord Fakharu has hoped you would be willing to meet with him over morning meal to discuss the matter he has called you for." She paused a moment and put a curled finger to her lower lip. "Ordinarily his lordship would be serving court now and administering his judgments for his petitioners, but he has made it quite clear that he wishes to see you immediately upon your arrival. If you wouldn't mind, please follow us, we will guide you towards his throne room." With a final curtsy the quintet of women turned and beckoned the assembled party to follow them up the path and to the spire itself.

A dozen or so minutes of walking through impeccably well kept gardens brought them towards the great door of the outer court yard, made of a massive single piece of amber and ornately carved in a stylized image of a serpentine dragon. Through this portal and inside of the spire itself were brightly painted halls colored aquamarine. Just as with the outside here was great grandeur and splendor to the architecture and decoration but with a severe, restrained sense of art. Beautiful but never vulgar. There were handsome statues made of gold and silver and studded with precious gemstones carved in such a way that they looked almost life like and lascivious Thanjavur style paintings, all evenly spaced and placed according to a grand aesthetic design made to neatly draw the eye from one piece to the next in a flowing and orderly pattern.

Ashen Sky whistled as he passed by one. He stopped to run his hand a long the out stretched arm of one depicting a pair of women in an embrace. "I gotta say, the master of tha house seems ta 'ave a peculiar taste in art work." One of the handmaidens who wore star metal, Hotton if he remembered right, motioned for him to continue following as she responded. "The lord prefers to keep a hegemony to his decorations. For that reason he has personally crafted each of these works himself." He privateer looked surprised to hear that, and gave the statue another more scrutinizing glance before catching up with the others.

When they reached the set of double doors leading to the throne room, Nāgasāni bade the group to halt a moment. "Beyond this door is where the lord holds his court. Since it is already in session we ask that you wait here a moment whilst I announce your arrival." She gave another short bow and slipped inside.

Ashen Sky nodded a bit as she retreated through the door and rested against the far wall. "So," He started as he gave the assorted gaggle a once over. He his throat, and once again his western accent became more restrained as he switched to full realm speak. "Do any of you have much experience with courtly manners? I can fake it in a pinch if needed." Idly he noted to himself that he'd to rehearse his H's, T's and A's a bit while they'd have a minute for his normal speech tended to exclude or accent them in certain words.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Castle
Calliope was pleased with her latest remark, though she obviously could not tell that it only upset Lux further. While Artisan made introductions, Calliope redirected her attention to the five women, offering a similar bow when her name was stated. Calliope observed the women, noting their expertly conducted composure.

While the niceties of the palace were lost on her, she wasn't unobservant of the ostentatious tastes of Lord Fakharu. There was something curious about this business. A man with palpable amounts of money and influence can hire the assistance of any legion he wants. Why did he so adamantly request a group of powerful misfits? The thought was disrupted by Lux's shout.

“We are NOT lovebirds! I’m fully aware that I’ve made an ass of myself and all of us by proxy; you needn’t rub it in and be so bitter!” Lux cried.

Self-assured, Calliope cared not for Lux's sudden outburst, though it was amusing. Instead, she maintained a look of neutrality, while noting that she would have to reassess her previous notion of common wedlock traditions. Romance was easy for her to miss, since is was essentially nonexistent in Gladomain.

The people of Gladom looked at romantic relationships as a primitive ideal. She far better favored the relationship that of her parents. It is a partnership, a union. Built on physical mechanisms, such as protection, survival, combat, as well as sex. Romance, in her village, was not a concept. She had heard the word, yes, but it had an unfathomable meaning to it Calliope could never quite grasp. While some appeals from a Gladomeen's partner were pleasing -- such as a victorious battle -- other affections like dead flowers, precious stones, and endearing phrases, these items of affection meant nothing to her. Poetry, was Calliope's only personal exception, but this was beside the point (and a bit of information she often refused to disclose). But, as are the duties of the princess, she tried to understand these new terms anyway.

The party moved forward.

Calliope looked like a shark at the center of the party. Not a single flower or piece of art drew her attention-- not until Ashen commented on one. The Noble observed it carefully, the word 'romance' still lingering in the back of her mind. She thought about asking the party for a more accurate example of courtship traditions, but before she could concoct a decent question, they had arrived at the door of Fakharu.

"So, do any of you have much experience with courtly manners?" Ashen asked.

Calliope was quick to reply. "While mmy counntry may have many reasonns for starding wars, we also have cause for ennding themm. I have acted as ammbassador in the past for my mmother and father." Her eyes were fixed on the door, waiting.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

0.25 INK

While Lux had otherwise managed to regain her poise, after she’d snipped back at Artisan for his embittered comment, this was fleeting. Quickly enough, she noticed that the prior shenanigans had been silly enough to force three of Fakharu’s handmaidens into suppressing fits of laughter. Their hands were overtop their mouths, while their shoulders shook...she’s also fairly sure she heard one of them fail to subdue a quiet snort.... Lux sighed, and shifted between her feet uncomfortably, she’d done her best to make amends for her uncouth mannerisms, and that was all that could be done, now. She blamed no one for laughing at her expense, it was deserved.

“My, my, well, I am most certainly flattered by your compliments, Lady Lux, as Sir Ashen said, it is quite bold of you. And worry not, we take no offense.” Nāgasāni spoke, her voice possessing the slightest edge of amusement.

At Nāgasāni’s comment, Lux lightly cleared her throat, and felt her cheeks flush a touch once more. Mortified as she felt, having all this occur, at least the handmaidens were not irked with her inappropriate staring, or by her complimenting them. Their beauty had blindsided her—while she’d expected grand and splendid sights, the quintet of handmaidens had just struck her, in all honesty, the same thing oft occurred whenever she happened upon some wondrous work of art or architecture. And, while it was perfectly acceptable to look over inanimate objects, it was not to do the same with people. It was rude, uncouth, and inappropriate...Lux knew this, and while she had been attempting to cease gawking at people, it was an issue that always seemed to reemerge, regardless of her efforts.

Whilst Lux had been lost in her musings, Nāgasāni had started to guide the group along, beckoning them to follow her and the other handmaidens into the palace. Upon realizing that everyone else was on the move, Lux snapped from her thoughts and caught up with the lot of them, taking up the rear. For a majority of the trek, the air was quiet, save for the sounds of nature. As they approached the spire, Lux craned her neck in every which direction, trying to take everything in while she could. As she had stated upon the boat, Fakharu, or his designers, had a grandiose sense of aesthetics. Lux would not deny that everything was beautiful, in its own way, though. Sculptures, carvings, murals and reliefs—everything was dazzling in one manner or another.

Everything had a certain...atmosphere to it. Though the gold, the silver, and the gemstones were all unnecessary, there was still something about all of it that just...worked, overall. Lux was lost in everything, having gone from looking in every conceivable direction to actually turning on her heels as she walked, going in circles as she became even more enthralled by the sights around her. The flush that had come to her face earlier from Nāgasāni’s comment had all but faded, while her green eyes glimmered in fascination and excitement, a large smile having come across her face once more.

Along the way, Ashen stopped, and spoke about how apparently peculiar Fakharu’s aesthetics were, with one of the maidens factually responding to him. They continued walking, and Lux kept gazing at her surroundings, taking it all in while she had the chance. Certainly, she likely looked like a fool again, but at least this time she wasn’t doing anything rude. Eventually, they reach an extremely large set of double-doors, which were adorned with elaborate décor as everything else had. Thankfully, while Lux was still mystified and utterly enthralled by her surroundings, she was still aware enough to avoid another faux pas, such as walking into someone. She did still turn herself about, eyes wandering while it was Nāgasāni spoke, “Beyond this door is where the Lord holds his court. Since it is already in sessions, we ask that you wait here a moment whilst I announce your arrival.” Lux heard the sounds of a door opening before it shut again, rather quietly.

Then, they had a moment before they were to be introduced to Fakharu proper. “So,” she heard Ashen start, “Do any of you have much experience with courtly manners? I can fake it in a pinch, if needed.”

Lux didn’t bother to yet respond to this inquiry, still too engrossed by her surrounded, as she continued to wander about in a seemingly aimless manner. “While mmy country may have many reasons for starding wars, we also have cause for ending them. I have acted as ambassador in the past for my mother and father.” While Calliope was rather quick to respond, her words passed overtop Lux’s head as she finally allowed herself to look directly above, her mouth agape as she took in the intricate mural that was both painted and carved into the domed ceiling.

....it was magnificent, but the domed ceiling made it somewhat awkward to look at. Lux began to gingerly take a few steps backward, not minding her surroundings as she was thoroughly only interested in seeing every complexity of the mural—she gave absolutely no thought to anything otherwise, til it was that her foot suddenly met air where she thought there’d be floor, and she lost her balance with a yelp, snapping fully back into reality. Lux hadn’t noticed that around the edges of the halls, and the large, circular waiting area before the double-doors, the middle of the floor was higher, while it was indented near the walls, as water flowed through them, and around the bases of poles and the statues adorning the palace.

Though Lux gave it her best effort, she wasn’t able to keep herself upright this time around and ended up stumbling into a statue...which, thankfully did not topple over. But, when it was that Lux noticed the...theme of the statue, a couple engaged in, well.... The young woman’s face was set ablaze, yet again, and she jumped away from it as quickly as she could, only to not have proper footing to achieve such a feat, which only resulted in Lux falling backwards into the thin stream of water that ran between the elevated floors and wall, effectively soaking her backside.... This was just not her day, was it?

“....no one say a word, please. I swear that I am merely experiencing a rather off day.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
The pirate nodded semi-approvingly at Calliope's assertions, figuring a princess probably would know how to herself themselves in the middle of a formal meeting with a high ranking spirit. It'd probably be a good idea to stick by her for the most part. Making a guess he assumed that Artisan probably new his etiquette as well based on his background on the blessed isle and the way he held himself so far. Astrid and Ioa however worried him slightly. He didn't know Astrid well enough yet to get a real read on her as she had mostly stayed in cat form since they last spoke and hadn't joined in any conversations. He doubted it'd be a good idea for her to stay that way once they met the Censor either. Ioa on the other hand was... well... he was a kid. A very active kid. And thus far he hadn't shown much understanding of social cues, which might be dangerous when walking into a court of spirits what with the know reputations of gods and their tempers.

Ashen Sky's ears flickered a bit as he heard a yelp behind him and turned just in time to see Lux backing into a wall with a sheet of water running down it's side. He hadn't even noticed the fountain until her hindquarters collided with it, drenching her. There was a moment of silence as she disengaged from the wall fountain. “....no one say a word, please. I swear that I am merely experiencing a rather off day.” The pirate put his hand to his face and sighed. This was off to a awkward start already.

And it was then at that moment that the doors chose to open wide and put the circle of exalted right smack dab in the center attention of about a hundred minor gods.




The throne room was ovaloid in shape, immersed in the same jeweled artwork that had been on display in the rest of the palace and currently thronged with a small horde of lesser gods and elementals who all silently waited their turn. Arrayed in a neat line they would each come forward one by one to kneel before a great throne of moonsilver sized to fit a dragon, whose ornamentation rippled and reshaped itself with every movement of the air. Sitting upon the throne that throne was Fakharu himself with a shining gold-green scales an wide patient eyes fixed upon eternity. It was his 'dawn attendance'. A daily ritual where in he held open court to hear the petitions, claims and concerns of those who sought his council or favorable judgement in their disputes.

Two earth elementals, with hair and eyes made of emerald and flesh of onyx, both petition for singular ownership of a perfectly shaped ruby they had found together. A bent and elderly woman who's body was made of rust colored water request permission to read the dragon's copy of the 'Histories of the Tenth Kingdom Under The Seventh Wave' so that she may learn the name of the third king who ruled there and fulfill the commands of a sorcerer who bound her to the task. The spirit of a river came forward to apologize for the conduct of a local village in failing to provide the proper sacrifices at the proper seasons, and promised to flood the village three times as punishment. These and many others all came forward to kneel at Fakharu's throne, but all did so in an orderly fashion and none who were not in front spoke in more than hushed whispers for all knew better than to show misconduct before the great western censor.

It was during this series of appeals that one of the side doors opened and in slipped a young woman adorned in orchalcum hurried at a dignified pace to the dragon's side. Fakharu was glad for Nāgasāni's arrival and the news she whispered in his ear, for he had started to tire of the petty arguments and entreaties that his petitioners brought. With a simple hushed order of "Bring them in" she shuffled back to the side door and flung it open to reveal the exalted standing the opposite side of it. The other handmaidens lightly nudged them to move forward as Nāgasāni loudly spoke to the assembled audience chamber in a carrying voice.

"My lord, and attending members of the court, we hereby proclaim the arrival of our esteemed guest. Sir Ioa, dagger of Heaven, Solar exalted of the Night caste. Sir Ashen Sky, Night Thief, Lunar Exalted of the Changing Moon Caste. Cheiftain Lady Astrid Grünewald, Night Fang, Lunar exalted of the Full Moon caste. Inheritrix lady Lux Fiala, Burning Sword, Terrestrial exalted of Fire. Princess lady Calliope Lordes, Ascending Sun, Solar exalted of the Dawn caste. And The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, Child of Bone, Abyssal Exalted of the Daybreak Caste." She bowed deeply as she listed their names and caste off one by one, gesturing to each as she did so. As was to be expected, the attention of the entire chamber now rested on the six exalts as they were herded into the room. If any of the assembled immortal spirits were displeased at this interruption (And there were. Several infact) none had a chance to voice it as Fakharu roused from his contemplation and rose to full towering height from his shimmering throne.

"Ah, I bid you welcome to my home young princes of the earth. I have eagerly been awaiting your arrival." He spared a polite but crisp glance back at the line of little gods that filled the room. "I will have to declare this dawn attendance over for today, as I must see to my guest. I thank you all for coming, and wish you safe travels in your departure." The serpentine dragon's tone did not hold room for argument. A fair number of the petitioners murmured amongst themselves in clear frustration and annoyance but not a single one dared to raise their complaints with the dragon. Quietly they excused themselves from the chamber but gave the gathered firm and scrutinizing glances as they filed out. Some were likely not to forget their appearance for a long while.

Rolling down from his chair in a great slithering motion, Fakharu stooped low to just above eye level with his guest. Even at this height, he still seemed to loom large over them. "Now then, with my morning schedule cleared, I do hope you will indulge me and join me in a private chamber for refreshments. There is a lovely balcony above where we may watch the waves as the sun rises." The dragon's voice was Jovial, but something about the look in his eyes implied that this was not a mere suggestion.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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Ioa listened as the others spoke, observing with excitement and interest. The conversations, this place, he was practically bouncing off the walls with excitement and interest and desiring to see it all. As the son of a crafter, he had an eye for detail and could understand and appreciate these sorts of things. Indeed, he could understand that this was all very impressive.

And so as they were being guided, Ioa asked their guides all about everything they saw and were made of, often guessing correctly the materials used despite being new to this area. Ioa understood that this place truly had effort and greatness put into it...it was truly amazing and fantastic about just how much love and care was put into the place.

"Ashen, this is incredible! This, and this...its perfectly symetrical, even with the shading of colors! Not many craftsmen can do that! And this, I dont even need to touch it to clearly tell the texture is above first class, and this...this is high class material, perfectly used! Truly, this is all great masterworks!"

At this point, Ioa's eyes began to sparkle as he seemed absolutely filled with joy.

"This entire building...it in itself is a masterpiece of art!"

He responded like that, until they made it to the actual door, and had to wait. That said, his cheerful attitude did not waver in the slightest, and his general demeanor suggested he was quite carefree and not at all worried about the meeting with this great dragon.

And then finally, they entered. Ioa stayed silent for the few moments however, not from his sense of timing, but simple because he was admiring the various artwork that was this place. The entire building itself was art, a masterpiece of craftmanship that he truly knew how to admire and praise. This admiration lasted well and long until Fahkaru started to talk to him, and even a bit during that.

And once he made his invitation, it was Ioa that ended up speaking first. "Amazing...incredible! I really, really like this place, it seems really incredible and a masterpiece! I bet the balcony was perfectly built to be a masterpiece too right? This whole place is brilliant! I bet they even took into account to make the view itself a part of the masterpiece!"

Ioa honestly spoke his mind, without any ulterior motives or underlying desires. It was just pure, honest praise for everything he had seen, a rather refreshing concept if one thought about it.

"You must be really proud of this place! Its incredible! I would love to see more! Let's go!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

0.00 INK

#, as written by Sepokku
Lux seemed less than pleased by Artisan's comment, becoming irate and beginning to rattle off explanations. Admittedly, he was glad to hear her deny being Ashen's Lover, but the Great Curse had already set in. Without saying much more, he set off after the giggling entourage and into Fakharu's palace. Court was still in session and thus the group was told to wait while Nagasani went on ahead to announce their arrival. Ioa began to comment on the palace's structure, visibly excited.

The interior was indeed as beautiful and opulent as the outside, very intricate and detailed work went into its construction, possibly by Lord Fakharu himself. A low impressed whistle made its way out of Artisan's cold lips, taking in the attention to detail that went into the palace. Ashen Sky began to ask about who knew how to conduct themselves in a spirit court, claiming to be able to fake it in a pinch. Artisan wasn't exactly foreign to court proceedings, but he imagined the Underworld did things a bit different than Creation.

While he pondered whether or not to speak up, the noble Heir of Lordes took charge, having had experience as ambassador already. If she wanted to be ambassador here, well he wasn't going to argue. The sound of Lux getting drenched wrested his attention away from that matter, she'd backed into one of the waterfalls that adorned the palace walls, and her face had turned a very interesting shade of scarlet.

“....no one say a word, please. I swear that I am merely experiencing a rather off day.”

"Oh dear," Artisan started while fighting to suppress a smile. "Perhaps Nagasani can provide you with a change of clothes in a bit. I'm certain they have very fine attire here."

The doors flung open and the party was ceremoniously introduced to dozens of Spirits and Elementals attending the Lord's court. Not all of the gathered attendees looked pleased to be interrupted by a handful of Exalted, prompting Artisan to tip his hat slightly forward in an attempt to obscure his face. Standing near the back of the group, he did his best to look unassuming.

Fakharu seemed to be a bit rushed, though, perhaps the rumors about him had been true. The Lord ended court immediately, which seemed to draw even more attention and/or ire from the assembled Spirits. Once his attendees had left, he prompted that they should all follow him to his private chamber. There was definitely some validity to the rumors.

A veritable river of words began to flow from Ioa's mouth, complimenting the Lord on his decorations and architecture, eager to see more. "Yes, as Ioa said, lead the way." The Deathknight cleared his throat before continuing, following the Dragon all the while. "Might I also add, thank you for having us Lord Fakharu, I'm sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we're pleased to be of service to your grace."


The Nightfang remained draped across the shoulder's of her perch, and for whatever reason, seemed perfectly content to let the others do the talking for her. Calliope marched after Nagasani with all the countenance of a Highborn, and the grace of a huntress. It made for quite the comfortable ride.

Inside the palace was as gaudily overindulgent as the rest of the place, had it been up to Astrid the money would've been spent more practically. Like hiring or outfitting an army. The lead courtesan, at least that's the opinion Astrid held of her, took her leave to inform Fakharu of their arrival. Ashen inquired about anyone understanding court proceedings, which of course she did. As she was the Leader of her people, she'd often overseen weregilds, stopped taxation, and born witness to trial by combat. However, she couldn't be bothered to mediate, or even take an interest in Western affairs outside of using her strengths to put the Dragon in her debt, so she remained silent.

Ioa's boundless energy began to remind her of her children back home, a thought she played with like a ball of yarn for a bit. When Calliope expressed interest in speaking on their behalf, Astrid decided to walk using her own four feet. She slid to the ground and landed with grace, then began to lazily stretch. A bored yawn came from the small feline mouth and her eye caught Lux backing into a stream of water flowing from the wall. Rather than say anything, she simply decided to enjoy the show, Lux was indeed a fun one.

They weren't left alone long before the doors they had been waiting by opened to a room full of Spirits, and the big man Fakharu himself. It was, in a word, impressive. If this many Spirits were willing to give him authentic kowtow, then surely he'd be someone who could help her tribe. Though it might've been rude to not assume one of her True Forms, she hadn't been asked otherwise and didn't want to make a scene, so she stayed a tiny black cat.

Fakharu dismissed the court rather abruptly, a display of strength perhaps. "Now then, with my morning schedule cleared, I do hope you will indulge me and join me in a private chamber for refreshments."

Hoping these refreshments were of the alcoholic persuasion, Astrid considered the possibility this trip wouldn't be so bad after all. Ioa and Artisan shot off after the Dragon. The former still heavily reminding her of her kiddos whenever she came back from a Ritual Hunt and the latter still kissing ass.

"...I'm sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we're pleased to be of service to your grace."

Awfully bold of that rat to assume she could be pleased. Regardless, it wouldn't do to make a scene before Fakharu was in her debt, so she flicked a dismissive ear at the Abyssal and cantered along after them.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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She sat perhaps a little too long with her hindquarters still submerged in the fountain...an absolutely exasperated air about her. Her face rather matched her elemental aspect at this point, certainly a rather impression shade of crimson. Saying nothing more than she had beforehand, Lux pulled herself free of the cold fountain, feeling the bits of it that’d soaked into her clothing seep further downward as she got to her feet whilst her cloak dribbled and dripped all over the stone and marble flooring—she mentally grumbled to herself as she shook her arms and hands, flecks and drops of water coming from the tips of her fingers. What a sight she must’ve been.... About to meet a Lesser Dragon, and she’d gone and dunked her butt in one of his fountains because she couldn’t stop herself from gawking at pretty things, again! Why could she never seem to get a handle on that...?

While Lux shifted on her feet and made a rather futile effort to at least wring out the water from the lower-half of her cloak, trying to stop it from dripping at the bare minimum, “Oh dear,” Oh, he was just going to have to comment on this, wasn’t he? “Perhaps Nāgasāni can provide you with a change of clothes in a bit. I’m certain they have very fine attire here.” Lux could well hear Artisan attempting to suppress amusement at her predicament. First he’d made the rather unnecessary comment about her and Ashen being ‘lovebirds’ earlier after she’d nearly knocked him over, and now he just had to go and.... Lux huffed to herself, mentally kvetching. At least this time, the comment was somewhat justified, and there was really nothing that warranted her getting peeved.

And, as naturally as things had been going so far, it was right as Lux was in a most undignified stance, trying to squeeze the back of her skirt free of water that the enormous, well-ornamented double-doors that held Fakharu and his in-session court flew wide open...putting herself and the entirety of their small group of oddballs on display to the whole of the spirit court. Lux froze in place, feeling the eyes of many spirits and, what she assumed to be, deities of various sorts. She had only enough time to form one coherent thought before she and the rest of the group was shepherded into the center of Fakharu’s audience chambers by the handmaiden quintet, ....well, this is the single, most humiliating moment of my life thus far.

Deciding to forget her half-sopping wet state for the moment, Lux took in the deepest breath she could, and held it as she shuffled forward to be presented before Fakharu and the myriad of gods and spirits. She stood ramrod straight, her arms stiff and held to her sides as her felt her heart skip a beat. Admittedly, Lux had run-ins before with various otherworldly phenomena and beings, but this...was something on an entirely different level. While under normal circumstances, Lux would lose herself in admiring all around her, taking it all in as she had before but she restrained her senses, both awed and nervous when she finally set her eyes upon Fakharu who was every bit draconic as his epithet of ‘Lesser Dragon’ would indicate. She was honestly at a loss.

....until Nāgasāni begun to formally introduce the lot of them to Fakharu, rattling off their titles, names...and Exalted castes. “Inheritrix, Lady Lux Fiala, Burning Sword, Terrestrial Exalted of Fire.” While Lux did indeed notice the peculiar title tacked onto the beginning of her introduction—something she would definitely ponder over later—her thoughts were more concerned with the fact that her status as a Terrestrial amongst Celestials was revealed before she otherwise had a chance to build a rapport with anyone and hope that would help stave off the bad blood between them. Nāgasāni had no way of knowing her intentions on keeping her status under wraps, so, Lux wasn’t angry just all the more anxious. Ashen had his suspicions, but seemed to treat her fine enough regardless, as for the others. After the meeting with Fakharu was said, done and they were on their way, the topic would properly be broached, she was sure. At least, she was likely safe for the moment since she was sure everyone in the group had the poise to not squabble before Fakharu and his court.

So lost in her own thoughts, again, Lux missed the end of Nāgasāni’s introductions, and the beginnings of Fakharu’s greeting and dismissal of his court, til it was the Lesser Dragon gracefully removed himself from his throne, gliding forward until he was nearly eye-level with the lot of them and she was able to actually feel the power behind his voice as he addressed them so close. “Now then, with my morning schedule cleared, I do hope you will indulge me and join me in a private chamber for refreshments. There is a lovely balcony above where we may watch the waves as the sin rises.”

Only when Lux realized that she essentially had a deity looming overtop her, speaking, did she find herself snapping back to reality, at last releasing that breath she’d been holding since Fakharu’s handmaidens had ushered them into the audience chambers. Realizing how long she’d apparently deprived herself of air, Lux desperately and rather sharply gasped, as she coughed a few times—the whole endeavor rather resembling a dying fish struggling for breath while it was that Ioa took it upon himself to sing Fakharu’s aesthetic praises, speaking before anyone in the rest of the group had even the slightest chance to respond.

Lux was actually rather grateful that she was likely not the center of attention at the moment, she’d had enough of that for the day. With a damp, gloved hand pressed against her chest, she took in a few unsteady, pitifully wheezy breaths as she staved off the wooziness that came with holding her breath far longer than she was used to. So, not only had she managed to make a most fantastic impression upon everyone early, stumbling about like a mindless drunkard and soaking her backside in a fountain, but now also her status as a Dragon-Blooded was in the open and she’d almost caused herself to faint a the foot of a God because she’d forgotten to do something as basic as breathe! Fantastic morning thus far!

After Ioa finished his praise-filled rambles, eager to see more of Fakharu’s palace, Artisan took the opportunity to speak as well, “ Yes, as Ioa said, lead the way. “ making motions to tread after the dragon before speaking once more, “Might I also add; thank you for having us, Lord Fakharu, I’m sure I speak on behalf of all of us when I say we’re pleased to be of service to your grace.”

Following along after Ioa and Artisan both, Astrid trotted on by, still within the form of a black housecat, absolutely no way to discern her thoughts at the moment...while it would indeed be sensical for Lux to follow suit, she currently found herself with the desire to bring up the rear of their little group. Lux was more than aware that she looked an absolute mess, and that her mental state left a lot to be desired. She was sure that if she drew any of Fakharu’s attention to herself now, she’d definitely end up making even more a fool of herself than she definitely had already. While she did not make it obvious that she was lingering behind, beginning to walk along as well, Lux still took slower steps, hunching inward on herself, feeling gooseflesh overcome her arms and legs as the damp state of her hair and heavy traveling clothes made her shiver.

Sighing, Lux reach into one of her pockets, clandestinely sneaking out the piece of chocolate she’d been gnawing on while on the boat before. She knew that Fakharu had told them they were going to have brunch, but she needed something to allay her anxieties, and chocolate usually helped in that regard. There was simply so much going on....

So, while she meandered just a bit, Lux took small nibbles off the sweet substance, hoping no one would notice her impolite action as she followed after a God.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Castle
Calliope’s steady gaze remained fixed on the door. She was deadly still awaiting their introduction.

While the door was deliciously intricate, Calliope only observed a small nick in the design, an imperfection that was perfectly within her line of sight. The rest of the door was carved in some unearthly material- like precious stone, or was it wood? The designs were exacting, inhumanly precise, and thick, depicting portraits or stories. Calliope could have feasted her eyes on any of these details, but she stared deeply into the imperfection. It looked like the mark left by a weapon of some kind, like someone had attacked the door. But there was only one marking.

Astrid fit into Calliope’s robes like she was an addition to the costume. Albeit, it was a more tribal look, Calliope still enjoyed the presence and the warmth of the small animal. It was a strange and comforting feeling. She thought to herself could get used to it.

The doors heaved open to reveal an audience of immortals. The rising energy from within the chamber seemed to break into unsettling silence. The deities stared back at the humans with a multitude of expressions. Some were displeased, others marveled at the sight of Calliope and her new compatriots. The Gladomeen swore she spotted a familiar deity, but in moments it was gone, vanishing from her view.

One of the five handmaidens declared the Exalted’s arrival. Calliope corrected her posture, standing proudly when she heard her name announced.

“...Princess lady Calliope Lordes, Ascending Sun, Solar exalted of the Dawn caste. And The Artisan That Which Souls Cling, Child of Bone, Abyssal Exalted...”

The announcement seemed endless. Immortals who were displeased by the interruption seemed more displeased. Immortals who marveled at them scrutinized further. While Calliope typically handled situations like these gracefully, she couldn’t help but feel hot under the eye of their godly audience. But Fakharu, unlike all the rest, seemed calm. His manner and composure put his rank above all other creatures in the room. Calliope watched his actions carefully, noting his natural authority. Perhaps there was something she could further glean from this situation after all!

After humbly greeting the Exalted individuals, Lord Fakharu dismissed the audience. “I will have to declare this dawn attendance over for today, as I must see to my guest. I thank you all for coming, and wish you safe travels in your departure. Now then, with my morning schedule cleared, I do hope you will indulge me and join me in a private chamber for refreshments.”

It was obvious that this wasn’t a matter for discussion and Calliope contentedly went along with the dragon. While Artisan made another distasteful and weak-minded comment, Calliope barely caught the scent of something sweet. She covertly attempted to find the source.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Wake
A great chortling laughter filled the chamber. The massive dragon was deeply amused by Ioa's praise, and he expressed this by placing one of his massive paws upon the boy's head and gently tussling his hair. "You flatter me young sir! It has been a long time since one has granted my work such honest and enthusiastic endorsement. Or at least none that wasn't feigned to gain my favor."

With fluid grace he turned and started towards throne rooms rear exit. "And it is I that must thank you all for coming Sir Artisan, I know my invitation was rather spontaneous and I hope you will forgive me for being imposing in my summons on such short notice." As they reached the entrance of a spiral stair case, a change happened in Fakharu's form. Mid movement his body spontaneously started to glow and shrink as his body morphed into something more humanoid in shape. He continued to speak even as his shape settled on that of a hansom well dressed human man. The only hint that gave away that his true draconian nature was clawed hands and tail that remained on his person. He stopped briefly to whisper something in Nagasani's ear. "Would be a dear and let the cooks know that we will be arriving at the balcony shortly. Oh and get a change of clothing for miss Lux as well. I'd rather she not suffer through the morning meal with damp clothes on... Or worse, let her get the furniture wet."

A slight him of mischief was in the eyes of the quintet as they received this order. "Of course my Lord." Was her obediently given reply. Though they held their composure until they left the Censor's sight, they started to whisper a amongst themselves. Well trained servants though they were, they were still young women of their mid adolescence and they recognized a chance to have a little 'fun' at someone else's expense when it presented itself.

Continuing to lead the group in the ascent, pass tapestries of silk and stained glass windows that over looked the rolling vistas of the gardens and island beyond them outside. "As young Ioa has guessed I am somewhat proud of this palace. It has taken me seven centuries to reconstruct it back to it's former splendor. My previous abode before this had been lost to the Balorian Crusade*. all those hundreds of years ago. A rather trying time that still leaves it's mark on the west today. Thrice cursed fair folk still infest some area's of the west." He he gave a practiced sigh at that. "But I do not wish to bore you with past dramas."

He stopped before another well crafted door and opened it wide. "Here we are. Please, enter and sit yourself where you wish." The room he invited the exalts into was large and spacious. The pale gold walls held ornate chiseled with images depreciating noble deeds and adventures of past exalts. It's western wall was open, giving a full view of the ocean outside while a gentle cool morning breeze carrying the scent of the sea wafted in. In it's center was a tall statue carved from a single emerald gemstone of a beautiful young woman in her mid twenties. Around the feet of the statue was an oaken table that even now a group of servants was ladening with succulent grilled fish, warm pastries, fresh fruits and fine drink. Fakharu himself, after the others had strode inside, took to reclining on one of the mounds of cushions that served as chairs from the low table.

Ashen paused as he entered the room. He sniffed the air a bit and hummed to himself, an action that hid his activation of [EMOTION REVEALING SCENT]. "Well, this here is certainly a feast." His eye's paused on a particularly large claw half again the size of his head. "Gotta say it's been a while since I've had the pleasure of feasting on traditional cooking from... from..." Ashen started to trail off as the actual smells hit him. He had activated the charm earlier to give him a bit of an edge in the inevitable discussion they was going to have with the dragon, hoping to read him better and get an edge on him in whatever negotiations that might follow. But in doing so he also opened up his enhanced nostrils to pick out the scent of the food *much* more clearly, and each smell he recognized clearly. Steamed Snipper, grilled clam flesh, cooked eel, Razor fish, Clawshell legs, squid and octopus and... was that **Siaka meat!? He'd only ever eaten Siaka once in his life. When his father had saved up for it as a congratulation gift for becoming an officer on a privateers ship. "... from home." He finished in a quiet mutter. A small wave of nostalgia hit him, and a small speck of moisture started to gather at the edges of his eyes.

In the background Nagasani and the rest of the quintet entered with entirely too innocent smiles. With them they carried a bamboo and silk folding curtain and a rolling wardrobe with accompanying make up kit. They each eye'd Lux with cheerful and expecting smiles.

*[STORY TELLERS NOTE: Anyone who has a lore of three or higher knows that the Balorian Crusade is the name of the fair folk invasion that happened immediately after the great contagion stuck creation. These two events are what are considered to be the official end of the first age.]
**[Siaka, also known as the greater sharks, are a heavy contender for the title of apex sea predator. At 40 feet in length they are basically megladons and hunting these things are incredibly dangerous, but also profitable if you can bag one as their meat, teeth and bones fetch a fair price. They are also considered to be the children of Siakal, the western god of war and carnage and are sacred to her religion.]

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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Lux continued to trail along a little ways behind the others, as Fakharu laughed, pleased with Ioa’s genuine praise as he patted the boy’s head with a very large draconic hand. That he’d be so thrilled to receive admiration...it seemed rather sad to Lux, since it sounded like people only ever flattered his work to earn support. Though power and prestigious came with advantages, it also came with as many negatives.... Along with the rest of the group, Lux stopped in place when Fakharu did, as they neared a spiral-staircase that led upward. As soon as the movement ceased, and Fakharu, Lux quickly shoved the piece of chocolate she’d been savoring back into one of her pockets—watching, awed as Fakharu’s whole form wavered for a moment, taking on a sharp and bright radiance that shrank in scale.

Throughout her travels, Lux had bore witness to many wonders and many feats. Yet, even if they repeated themselves before her, she would always stand in astonishment of them. Without even skipping a beat, Fakharu had shifted his form from that of a large, imposing dragon god to that of a, admittedly handsome, humanoid who still bore a draconic tail and clawed-hands. For something like that to apparently be such a...casual thing for Fakharu, that itself was amazing.

Though, when the Lesser God gave her a passing glance, Lux stiffened up again...as he bade Nāgasāni over to him and proceeded to whisper to the handmaiden, Lux could only assume it some kind of instruction that had to do with her, given that he’d only bothered Nāgasāni after giving her a quick look. She doubted that whatever Fakharu had ordered would do her harm, but Lux couldn’t help that her heart skipped a beat upon that realization; he’d taken notice of her sodden and soggy state.

“Of course, my Lord.” Nāgasāni responded immediately to Fakharu, while her eyes and the eyes of the other handmaidens were upon her—Lux noted that there was some definite...mischief and delight on their faces. All at once, the quintet hurried out of sight, murmuring amongst themselves as they would occasionally glace back at Lux, who felt her stomach twist. Reiterating her self-assurances from before, she was certain that no one would do her harm, but a sense of nervousness nagged at her regardless, knowing that something was in store for her. Puffing her cheeks out just a bit, Lux said nothing of her thoughts, though and obediently continued to follow after Fakharu and the group as they ascended the spiral-staircase, passing yet more works of splendor, which Lux did allow herself to appreciate, but did not let her fascination consume her as it had before, lest she take a tumble backward down the stairs, given what’d just happened before, such a thing was liable to occur it seemed....

As Fakharu began to speak again, Lux turned her attention back to him, “As young Ioa has guessed, I am somewhat proud of this palace. It has taken me seven centuries to reconstruct it back its former splendor. My previous abode before this had been lost to the Balorian Crusade all those hundreds of years ago. A rather trying time that still leaves its mark on the West today. Thrice-cursed Fair Folk still infest some areas of the West.” a sigh came from him as he paused in his reflections, though it seemed practiced insofar as Lux could tell. He’d perhaps reiterated this tale to others many times over? “But I do not wish to bore you with past dramas.” ....Lux did not consider that sort of tale boring.

As soon as Fakharu ceased discussion of the matter, they were before another elegantly made door that Fakharu proceeded to open to them. “Here we are. Please, enter and sit yourself where you wish.”

The room was...about as gorgeous and ostentatious as one would expect, given the rest of the palace. While Lux still stuck to her initial opinion on Fakharu’s aesthetics being rather grandiose, she still did indeed admire them for their uniqueness. Nervous as she still was, not knowing exactly what had been requested of Nāgasāni and the handmaidens, Lux did still quietly observe the room and its many adornments—her eye specifically drawn to the large, singular emerald statue at its center.... A woman, lovely as the emerald could covey her beauty to be. While everything in Fakharu’s palace thus far had been of the utmost craftsmanship and quality, the jeweled sculpture...there was...something to it. Something more than just the same careful care that everything else carried. The statue’s model, the actual woman, whoever she was...Lux felt her heart slip up to her throat, but swallowed the feeling back down.

Whoever the woman was, she mattered, gravely, to Fakharu. ....did the summons have something to do with...?

“Well, this here is certainly a feast.” Ashen’s sudden comment about the spread of food snapped Lux out of her rumination in regard to the statue, causing her to flinch a bit as a slight noise came from her throat. She turned on her heel, looking at the Lunar as he seemed to appreciate what was going to be offered to them—Lux herself hadn’t even really taken heed of the food, too entranced by the emerald statue behind her. However, now rend from her musings, she did take a moment to look over the food. Admittedly, it looked appetizing, yet the nearly obscene amount of it gave Lux a moment to pause. She knew little about the standards a Lesser God held themselves to when it came to treating guests, but, something about the quality and quantity of food made her quirk her eyebrow up, just a bit. Fakharu had summoned them from across Creation to ask something of them, no doubt. Everyone had, had their own ideations on the matter, ranging from grand to not-so-grand. Lux was now rather certain that whatever Fakharu wanted from them, it was grand.

But, when Ashen began to speak again, Lux’s gaze was drawn over to him, “Gotta say it’s been a while since I’ve had the pleasure of feasting on traditional cooking from...from….” he trailed off and Lux, it was ever-so-slight but, his voice quieted as he seemed to lose himself in thought. She crossed her arms, and raised a finger to her chin as she considered this—on the boat, Ashen had told everyone he hailed from Wave Crest, and that this was a ‘bit o’ a return trip’ for him, as he’d put it with his accent. If From the way he was acting and from what he’d said earlier in the day, Lux supposed that Ashen had been away from the West for quite some time...perhaps it was just hitting him? Maybe he was feeling the pangs associated with homesickness.

“....from home.” he finished speaking in a low murmur, his former enthusiasm all but gone. Lux felt this was enough to confirm her deduction that Ashen had suddenly been struck by a bout of melancholy. Hearing the sudden distance in his voice made Lux frown, she detested when people lost their spark. She weighed her options; at least socially aware enough to know that people oft didn’t like having attention drawn to themselves in situations like these. Certainly, what she was considering would make her look and sound like a nimrod, but given how the day had gone on so far, and the fact that she was standing in the presences of a Lesser God with a soggy behind, how much worse could she possibly make herself appear to everyone? If it made Ashen perk up....

Puffing her cheeks out, she took a few steps in Ashen’s direction, til she was standing to his side, and made it seem like she was eyeing up the food like he had been before. It was all seafood...she adopted a tiny smile, her expression bright as she crossed her arms over her diaphragm, and hummed a touch to call attention to herself, “I’ll certainly say that I’m rather unfamiliar with a majority of this food. I’ve had seafood on a few occasions, but nothing so lavish?” Lux started, bracing herself for how she knew this was going to go over, “I really only recognize the Clawfish legs—they always did make me feel a bit...crabby, though. People stopped letting me eat them because I’d always start getting a snippy attitude!”

....she let silence reign for a moment before she cleared her throat, and saying to him softly, “I’m sorry, but it looked as if you could use a distraction.”

Lux failed to notice as she spoke to him though, that she was being gleefully eyed by Fakharu’s quintet of handmaidens as they entered into the room, carrying with them a plethora of items. It was only when one of them spoke up, Vengalu, that Lux finally realized that Fakharu’s earlier unheard request to Nāgasāni was about to be carried out.

“Lady Lux? Might we five...borrow you, for but a moment?” her voice was gentle, but, Lux heard the elation in it, and noticed the tiny smiles adorning the faces of the handmaidens, the items they carried—a folding curtain, a wardrobe and…was that a make-up kit? Oh, Gods. What was about to happen to her?

She felt her stomach sink low.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes

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#, as written by Castle
Calliope was at the front of the group. She had not yet spoken with Fakharu, though she followed him closely. The truth was, she was still making up her mind about him. And Calliope, of all people, was not particularly one for character analysis. When she arrived at the room she practically dropped her weapons bag at the door, rather rudely. But from her perspective, it would have been rude to take her bag inside. She didn’t seem the type to part with her weapons, but of course, she wasn’t worried, she still had her three swords equiped on her person.

Calliope sat herself down next to Astrid and across from Ashen, observing the bounty of food presented before them. She was starving.

Without any request of permission, she dished herself up, until her plate was overflowing with all kinds of delicacies mixed together haphazardly in a wonderful, steamy, array of aromas. The people of Gladomain eat. Meals are not taken lightly in her town. “You know not when the famine will arrive !” Her mother always said lightheartedly. And so they would eat and eat, without any real consequence due to the extreme amount of physical exertion the average townsmen experienced in training.

Calliope ate with her hands. She viciously tore at the cuts of meat, fat and grease dripping from her pink fingers. She hadn’t fully swallowed before she had filled her mouth again. In the midst of her feast, she paid no mind to Lux’s absence. She devoured the majority of the plate in minutes, and began loading it again almost immediately after. Only letting up to address Astrid.

“I finnd your felinne formm mmost pleasinng,” the Noble stated through the bits of clam flesh still occupying her mouth. As she spoke, bits of ligament flew past her lips. “Your pelt is quite soft ! I readily welcomme your residennce on mmy person !” She wiped the dribble of oil off her chin.

Aside from this, Calliope pursued no other small talk. She did carry some interest in Astrid’s position as Chieftain, and wished to know more about her tribe, but for fear of prying, she kept these questions to herself. The pink woman continued shoveling food down her gullet until she was forced by pure discomfort to stop. She licked her fingers.

Calliope leaned back, satisfied, just in time for Lux’s return. Ashen beckoned her back to the table, “Why don’t you come join us then, now tha ye be finished.”

Calliope laughed heartily and slammed a fist down on the table. “I amm in accordance with Ashenn. I find your currennt appearance far mmore appealinng!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Wake
Spoiler: show
Current Motes: Personal Pool: 5/6 Peripheral Pool: 13/13
Current Willpower: 5/5
Current Health: 5/5
Current Charms active: EMOTION REVEALING SCENT


Ashen Sky winced slightly as the princess fist hit the table, bringing his attention back to her. While Lux had been off getting her make over at the hands of five enthusiastic handmaidens, Calliope had taken to stuffing her face with the sort of wild abandon you'd expect to see on a half starved Siaka. It was oddly fascinating to watch in a a morbid sense, how this woman could go from refined and composed royalty to savage eater in such a turn, and for some reason Ashen just hadn't been able to take his eyes off her as she tore into the food in front of her. Perhaps it was due to his own up bringing in the west where meat was a rare treat and the cooking of fish flesh was slow communal thing, but the privateer always felt that food was better if enjoyed rather than gorged.

.... though he'd admit his master had disagreed with him on that point, regularly stuffing his face at first chance and he'd been a northerner as well. Who knows maybe they were all just crazy.

He sighed. He didn't even need his charm active to know that Fakharu was resisting the urge to frown and he had been wincing with each noise she made through the meal. "Speakin' o' appearances. Ye should probably be takin' better care o' yours yer highness." Again Ashen Sky slipped back into his accent, but he didn't bother to correct himself for the moment. He plucked a folded cloth off the table and wrapped it around his hand. " 'ere, let me fix tha for ya." Then in a move that was rather out of character for him, the Lunar got up, placed a knee on the rim table and used it as leverage as he leaned across to press napkin to the Solar's face. He then proceed to start wiping away the left over gristle and juices from her lips and chin. "Now I'll be admitting' tha ah lot o' western food is saw-pposed ta be eatin' by hand, I hope ye be forgivin' me for sayin' tha yer doin' it wrong." It was just as he was finishing the clean up that Ashen Sky seemed to pause and suddenly realize:
  1. What he was doing
  2. Who he was doing it to
  3. And that he had garnered a few stares for doing it
The Epiphany that he had made his own faux pas (a series of them in one action really) came and went and with a short cough he sat back down, tossed the napkin aside and acted entirely like he hadn't just gone on autopilot and made a somewhat intimate gesture towards someone he'd only known for maybe 3 hours. Seriously, why? WHY did he do that?

Deciding to switch tracks entirely and maybe salvage something of this situation for himself. Clearing his throat he started to gather up a few bits of fish, marinated kelp and a bowl of sauce, and got ready to suppress his accent again. "When it comes to western style fish dishes, it's best to layer tha flavors a bit so ya get a nice spectrum in tha meal. For example..." He set down his gathered ingredients on his plate. "Start with some seasoned' kelp, slap down ah slab o' Siaka meat, lathar it wit some some Salmoriglio Sauce, layer some grilled veggies ovar top, than wrap it wit the kelp like so..." He continued with his little demonstration, pointedly not looking at anyone and hoping to Luna and heaven that this would be enough of a distraction that everybody would forget about whatever the hell that was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

0.00 INK

Contending with the corset that was so tightly laced up around her middle was interesting...Lux felt like she had to learn how to breathe all over again with it on. Breaths had to be kept on the lighter side; her middle was too squished to allow anything more. Creation, how she hoped that she stayed conscious and didn’t faint in the middle of the meal. Otherwise, Lux remained still where she’d seated herself, hand set on her lap while a majority of her attention was centered on the intricate emerald statue that had captured her wholly, before Ashen had volunteered her to the handmaidens.... Looking at it again, she felt the same about as she had prior.

Her verdantly colored eyes trailed across the polished surface of the statue’s figure. As she’d observed before, the sculpture had a different atmosphere to it than anything else Lux had seen thus far in Fakharu’s palace. She wasn’t the most aware of people, nor did she carry much knowledge in matters related to crafts.... Was she overthinking it? That was a definite possibility; still, she couldn’t quite shake the thought from her pretty little head. With that notion floating about in her mind, Lux silently gazed over at Fakharu, saying nothing of her thoughts. Perhaps she was right and that the woman who’d modeled for sculpture was someone of great significance to Fakharu, but who was to say that woman was even still alive? It was possible that she’d been somehow involved with the Lesser Dragon ages ago and passed already. Lux didn’t know how long Fakharu had been alive, only that he’d been around for...a really long time.

....if the matter came up, she would inquire, otherwise she’d keep her musings to herself for the time being.

Humming to herself, she shook herself from her thoughts, her gaze ending up on Calliope who was seated diagonally from her, across from Ashen. Lux herself was seated across from Astrid who was still in her feline form after all this while—not that Lux minded, she liked cats, and animals in general...except for horses, those would forevermore give her reason to pause, one of those beasts was to blame for her hair being so short.

It seemed that while Lux had been left to the mercy of Nāgasāni and the rest of the girls, Calliope had gone ahead and gorged herself heartily and done so with much gusto. She had bits of food and grease spattered across her rosy face, and seemed utterly unaffected by it. Some would find the display nauseating, but the sight actually made Lux giggle a bit, making a small smile cross over her own made-up face, she found it endearing to see someone who so thoroughly enjoyed food. Til the princess went ahead and made her own comment regarding her makeover, that is.

“I amm in accordance with Ashen. I find your current appearance far mmore appealinng!” laughing wholeheartedly as she slammed her fist down onto the table hard enough to make the silverware rattle.

Lux stiffened up and slid downward in her seat just a smidge, as much as she wanted to hide her face in her hands she knew she couldn’t, else she’d ruin her carefully applied cosmetics. “....uh, thank you much, Lady Calliope.” she mumbled, reluctantly. Better just to take it with as much grace she could muster. She’d made enough of a fool of herself for one day, after all.

Allowing a sigh to slip from between her rose-colored lips, she did her best to shake off her embarrassment, looking back up at the Northern Princess, right as soon as Ashen...was chastising her table manners and blotting the food of her face with a napkin. Lux had really no idea what to make of the display; it was so...she didn’t even have a word for it. As soon as Ashen otherwise concluded his sudden lesson on etiquette, he seemed to realize himself how much of a gaffe he’d committed.

He tried to play off what he’d just done, diving into an impromptu lesson on how one was supposed to consume the Western foods that were lain out before them. The Lunar rambled on, rather monotone and speaking so quickly it was actually a little hard for Lux to even discern some of what he was saying—and she was sitting right next to him. Now, normally, Lux would keep down her urge to laugh and giggle at the display, but.... Ashen had given her over to the handmaidens earlier in retaliation for her making a couple of horrid jokes. The Dragon-Blooded wouldn’t deny herself this bout of laughter.

One of her hands went gently over her mouth, as her shoulders began to shake a bit as she tried to keep it quiet. Alas, she could not do so though, and Lux began to giggle, eventually erupting into full-on laughter that she couldn’t contain. Certainly, it was rude to laugh so loudly in the presence of a Lesser Dragon, and she would properly apologize in the aftermath if the need be.

“I-I, pfft....” she snorted, unable to continue speaking as bowed her head over, her hand fully overtop her mouth as her other was set across her stomach as she shook from laughter, occasional snorts working their way out of her. After maybe half a minute, Lux was finally able to calm herself, and reduced her little laughing bout to a fit of giggles instead—still she couldn’t wipe the amused grin from her face. Clearing her throat, Lux raised her head back up, her shoulders still occasionally twitching as she held back her laughter.

“I was not aware that etiquette lessons were included with today’s summons, Ashen.” she looked at the Lunar, resting a hand upon her cheek, “ Hmm, I cannot say that I quite took you for the type to be so concerned over such matters. Firstly, you so kindly volunteer me for a wardrobe change and then dote over Lady Calliope so.... the grin on her face grew a touch.

Though she did tease, there was a warmth in Lux’s words, “How endearing.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Wake
Spoiler: show
Current Motes: Personal Pool: 5/6 Peripheral Pool: 13/13
Current Willpower: 5/5
Current Health: 5/5
Current Charms active: EMOTION REVEALING SCENT


As Lux's laughter erupted besides him the Changing Moon stopped his explanation and adopted a neutral expression. Quietly he picked up a goblet of wine and sipped it while he waited for the Fire Aspect to finish her tittering. “I was not aware that etiquette lessons were included with today’s summons, Ashen. Hmm, I cannot say that I quite took you for the type to be so concerned over such matters. Firstly, you so kindly volunteer me for a wardrobe change and then dote over Lady Calliope so....” Ashen could smell shit eating grin on her face and he knew, both by magical scent and tone of her voice that she was taking a little (admittedly deserved) pay back for earlier. “How endearing.”

Ashen Sky put down the goblet, calmly wiped his mouth with the napkin he had used earlier, and adopted a dead pan tone. "Both me mothers taught me to be mannerly around women when ye introduce yer self. But if ye would like then tonight our next lesson will be on balance and tha matter o' walking straight without falling over and gropin' your crew mates or landin' rear end in a fountain." He was calm, he was composed, and he was not going to let himself be dragged into an embarrassing display in front of a functionary of the celestial order just because he had a slight leave of senses. And if that took getting into a verbal sparring match with Lux, so be it. He could use the distraction.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Castle
Before she knew what had happened, Ashen was partially on the table wiping Calliope’s face. This action stopped her in her tracks and for a moment she watched him. Totally transfixed by the odd circumstance they were both in at this very moment. For some reason, it felt totally natural.

Spoiler: show
With [EMOTION REVEALING SCENT], Ashen would discover that Calliope was both uncomfortable with Ashen’s gesture, and stirred by it.


“‘Ere,” he said, “let me fix that for ya. Now, I'll be admittin' tha a lot of western food is supposed t’ be eatin' by hand, I hope ye be forgivin' me for sayin' tha yer doin' it wrong.”

Then, suddenly, Ashen was upset! Calliope’s look of wonder transformed into bewilderment. He returned to his seat abruptly and began blathering about dining etiquette. Lux began laughing, and Calliope quickly recovered with another (forced) hearty laugh, joining in on her amusement.

Lux thanked Ashen for his true kindness, volunteering her for a ‘makeover,’ as she called it, and complimented his etiquette... at least, this is what Calliope thought she said. Ashen replied by graciously offering to assist her with her treacherous balance.

Given that Gladomain was founded on the overarching concept of oneness among citizens, Ashen’s gesture was considered polite. Gladomeens would typically dote on one another in a variety of ways. They would serve each other, feed each other, wash each other, and aid each other out of pure instinct, almost like a large hive mind.

“Mmanny gratidudes for your kinnd gesture, dear Ashen.” Calliope chimed in. “Wit such gracious mmanners, in Gladomm, you would be invited to dine wit the Queen herself!”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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As Ioa watched with amasement as they continued, Fahkaru said some things that really caught his ear while the others introduced themselves. "Ehh. Why would anyone need to feint it? This place is truly amazing!"

Ioa really was not that well versed with social mannerisms at all, but he understood that Fahkaru and him seemed to be getting along, so he decided to keep going as is...no matter how concerning it might get for hte others. Ioa was Ioa though, and it seemed he was going to be his usual self. At least Fahkaru seemed to like that though.

"Oh wow! Really?! You must be super, super ultimately super amazing!" Ioa said again as he praised with wonderful craftmanship with honest eyes and a honest heart. He seemed incredibly interested in just how incredible it was all made, but also...he praised the scenic views that they passed as well, understanding the beauty of nature and how Fahkaru had seemed to incorporate it as well.

And then, as they entered the room where they would be staying in, Ioa saw Ashen volenteer Lux for something, and watched and listened as Lux seemed to be going under some sort of transformation. Ioa, who could only see glimpses of things at the edges of the curtains and what they brought in and out, appeared to have question marks appear over his head. He seemed...confused about something.

"Hey hey, Ashen...is Lux....is Lux transforming into something? I thought they were just changing clothes....hmm, I wonder what Fahkaru's male clothes would look like? Wait, could this be...could all of that just be the amazingness of his abilities?"

As Ioa had never worn anything fancy before, and as he admired Fahkaru as a crafter as well as a really great person, he wondered what sort of clothes those would look like. Eventually though, he got some idea...as Lux was pushed right out in full fancy dress, of which Ioa had never seen before. Almost immediately, he took out his sketchbook and began making a sketch and drawing of all this. Indeed, Ioa's skills in drawing were actually pretty good, even if it really couldn't be applied normally other then for personal interest.

WIth Ioa drawing Lux in such splendid detail, he couldn't help but fully and bluntly say his admiration in a typical Ioa style. "You look really pretty Lux! Really really pretty! You five did a really great job! And Fahkaru, you have some really great helpers and clothes and stuff!"

That was when Ioa looked back at Ashen and Lux...and remembered something right as the five were leaving.

"You know, now that I think about it, you two kinda make a really great pair! Lux alone looks great, but I bet it would look even more complete if Ashen dressed up with her! I bet they would make a really pretty pair! What do you think, Fahkaru?"

And then, he looked at Ashen giving off a smile while giving that slight tilt to his head that was just a little too naive and innocent for anyone's own good, the kind of smile when one drops a metaphorical bomb without any awareness or intention of it.

"Don't you agree you two would look great together? I mean, just look how pretty Lux is! I bet thsoe five could help you match that!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Sepokku
The Deathknight continuted to follow, smiling at Fakharu's comment about the request being at short notice, but not replying. He idly noted Fakharu's comment to his servant girls, and the eyes of the entourage's leader held a hint of mischief as she replied, one he too readily picked up one. What a wonderful turn of events.

"My previous abode before this had been lost to the Balorian Crusade*."

"Indeed the most beautiful places and people were lost at the end of the First Age."

Before long a low-set table, as was custom in the West stood before them. Fakharu took his place at the head of the table that was laden with exotic, rare, and delicious foods and began seating himself in a plethora of cushions. Obviously no expenses had been spared in the preparation of this feast, which further led Artsian to believe in the rumors he'd heard. It appeared his Lover had indeed been stolen by the Sirens. A most deserving fate for his hedonism, or so the Abyssal thought. Had Artisan had the power Fakharu posessed he would never have let this happen to his.... his, beloved.

Ashen began to express interest in the food presented before them, mentioning his home and, judging by the way he held himself and behaved, also his banishment. By whom he was banished remained a mystery, but for now this little morsel of information was more than enough.

Lux, the girl who was apparently a Terrestrial let loose a slough of bad puns about crabs which were bad enough to make Artisan chuckle to himself. Though he tried to hide it with a cough and a fist held to his mouth, the laughter was by no means suppressed. In the underworld, puns were more of a trap than a joke and it was refreshing to hear them used so lightheartedly again.

The entourage returned, which caused a sparkle to appear in his eye. Truly this was what he had been waiting for when he saw the mischievous gleam in theirs. As if in league with them, Ashen offered her up like bait to the sharks. Happily the sharks indulged, whisking Lux behind a curtain and beginning to size her up and play dress-up with her. The poor girl squeaked and protested as much as she might, but sharks that have smelt blood are not easily dissuaded.

“P-Please don’t touch me there!”

Artisan began to blush, even though he had suggested the possibility he daren't think he'd have to hear the whole ordeal. Obviously Lux hadn't been raised among aristocracy and now hearing her squeal and cry against those who were, caused a slight blush to appear on his face. The blush grew a bit deeper upon the mention of "measurements" and for once since Exaltion he cursed his pale flesh.

Taking his seat at the table, sitting in the same manner as Fakharu, Artisan took a long glance at the statue, presumably his lover, Amarel. It was a lovely statue, beyond even what Artisan was capable of producing. In the background, the makeover continued and he left a pleased smile fall over his face. After all, it had been his suggestion that they find her some new garb, even if they fell upon the idea with a bit more enthusiam than he'd imagined.

"Well would you look at that," Artisan concluded as the impromptu 'torture' session finally finished up, "Clothes befitting your stature have been adorned upon you dear Lux." Nodding approvingly, he finished "I assumed Lord Fakharu's trusted entourage would have clothes befitting thyself."

“Well why don’t you come join us then, now tha ye be finished.”

"Indeed, your absence left our motely crew feeling somewhat unfinished. Though I'm glad to see you, ah... more comfortable."

The stranger Northerner from Gladdom began to indulge herslef, eating heartily at the food presented before her. The innocence was commendable in and of itself, but it was the Deathknight's Lunar ally that drew true notice. Dabbing at her face with a handcloth, and correcting her behavior with an odd out of character behavior... It was curiously reminiscent of his pre-exaltion life.

No matter! He thought to himself, should it be necessary, a plot was already forming in the mind of The Artisan That Which Death Clings, one that would remedy the situation entirely. As Ashen Sky continued his mild doting, the Abyssal stated with a smile, "Forgive me if this is a bit forward, Sir Night Thief, but you remind me of a young lady I once fancied. Darling she once was to me, I'm afeared she is now lost to me." Whether the notion was a compliment or not was open to interpretation, but those very skilled in even the tiniest social nuance would clearly notice the statement carried a tinge of sorrow.

“ Hmm, I cannot say that I quite took you for the type to be so concerned over such matters. Firstly, you so kindly volunteer me for a wardrobe change and then dote over Lady Calliope so...." Yes... Doting indeed... A plan had already formed in Artisan's mind to deal with this but the vote of confidence certainly helped him decided upon it.

Ashen quickly shot back and Artisan let out a slight groan at how quickly the situation was dissolving. Thankfully Fakharu was desperate and no one had expressed overt hostility yet. Perhaps, if the Abyssal was lucky, the group would survive just long enough to secure Fakharu's mortal lover, and then the nondesirables would suffer a sudden death. At who's hand didn't matter, but if he were lucky, it needn't be his. Calliope's reaction served to further cement his devilish plot. Meanwhile Ioa attempted to offer up Ashen to the same fate as Lux, though... he doubted the Dragon thought it was a good use of any of their time

Deciding to subsist entirely on blood for the day, Artisan didn't eat and instead directed a slightly direct query to the lesser Dragon. "So... I may have taken liberties against my liege's wishes in coming here. So in his honor, I'll get to the thick of it... About our summons..."


Fakharu continued with some regailing of his past glory, and asking his courtesan to run a few quick errands for him. His expressed dislike of the Fair Folk made Astrid wonder if, perhaps, he had irked Calliope with that comment. Certainly, Astrid had experience with Fair Folk and they tended to be at least slightly vain.

The vanity of Fakharu's 'personal chambers' where they were to indulge themselves in meal and drink, were of no less overtly gaudy then the rest of the palace, but at this point Astrid was no longer surprised. She idly wondered if he'd give her the emerald statue as payment for the job well done. Though, he could probably lend more valuable aid. The small feline girl quickly padded her way over to a pile of pillows and took her seat.

The feast Fakharu had prepared certainly appealed to her honed senses. The drink smelled strong, the fish exotic, however... there was a distinct lack of Northern delicacies. Regardless, Astrid began to rapidly grow in size, mass, and muscle as she resumed her hybrid form. Seeing Calliope take the lead, the Full Moon unceremoniously began to dig in. The succulence of the food helped distract her from the sheer terror that were Lux's crab puns.

The Courtesans seemed to want the Terrestrial for some reason, one that Astrid certainly couldn't be bothered with. Without even bothering to remove the shell, she devoured crab leg after crab leg, stopping only to wash them down with a hearty gulp of palm wine, sake, or mead. Once she was done with all the crab easily in reach, she moved onto the shark steaks. Piercing one with her claw, and tossing it into the air, lazily catching it in her mouth.

“Your pelt is quite soft ! I readily welcomme your residennce on mmy person !”

Snatching up a nearby morsel of clam meat and flicking it into her mouth, swallowing it down without chewing, she nodded idly at the comment. "Yes, hygiene is important, especially on the battlefield. Lest wounds fester."

Around ten cups of various wines, meads, and sakes in, Astrid began to feel comfortably buzzed and she felt a bit more at ease amongst her hastily assembled compatriots. When Lux's makeover was finished, Astrid let out uncontrollable fit of giggling. "You know, dearie! You do look quite lovely, yet..." Leaving the comment unfinished, Astrid simply plopped another shark steak into her mouth and began chewing on it thoughtfully.

Ashen suddenly reaching forward to wipe out Calliope's mouth put her suddenly on edge, and she licked at the sides of her mouth to ensure she did not recieve the same treatment. Eyeing her fellow Lunar warily, she watched him go about entirely too much tradition in preparing a bite to eat. Presuming that he was just a bit pretentious about his home cuisine, she began to relax once more.

Lux's interpretation and comment on the matter made Astrid let out a single loud guffaw imaginging the roguish Pirate trying to teach proper table etiquette. "Endearing indeed young Lunar, perhaps you may be an asset to our kind yet." What was once a single guffaw quickly turned into full out laughter when Ashen shot back, "...tonight our next lesson will be on balance and tha matter o' walking straight without falling over and gropin' your crew mates..."

"Your back and forth comments reminds me of my children!" The toddlers she'd left back in the care of her tribe teased and bickered with each other in a very similar fashion, almost daily. Speaking of people who reminded her of her children...

"Oh wow! Really?! You must be super, super ultimately super amazing!" Ioa's rapidfire commentary started back up. Turning to Ashen Sky, Ioa continued, "Don't you agree you two would look great together? I mean, just look how pretty Lux is! I bet those five could help you match that!"

"Indeed Mr. Corsair, perhaps a makeover is due for you as well. Certainly some fancy clothes and a Captain's hat could befit you better than your current garb." Grabbing her cup, Astrid slammed down her eleventh cup of the night in a single draught. "Fakharu, if a feast among Exalted company is all you called me here for, perhaps you ought to do so more often!"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

0.00 INK

Collaborative post between Wake and myself.


“Your back and forth comments reminds me of my children!” Astrid spoke, having assumed a hybrid form between that of a cat and human. She’d laughed as Ashen had attempted to shoot back at Lux for her teasing. ....so, she had children then? Or, was her considering her tribe’s young as her own? Hmm, regardless.

As far as Ashen’s comment was concerned, she knew well enough that she’d gone and made more than a fool of herself earlier. The Lunar’s attempt at a retort to her teasing did nothing to particularly perturb her anymore than she already was to begin with. Perhaps she’d passed some sort of threshold earlier, what with how buffoonish her antics made her appear to be...not to mention the impromptu makeover that’d put her out of her element even more. The fact that Ashen was trying to quip back at her for her own attempt at ribbing, it made her giggle a bit. It seemed that he enjoyed dishing it out—but not having it returned to him. That bout of laughter she’d underwent had been rather cathartic, and overall seemed to allay some of her discomfiture. She still felt very much out of her comfort zone in the dress and with pigment and paints applied to her face, but, she felt better.

Calliope had seemed awestruck, then a little baffled, but she seemed to force herself into a hurried recovery, joining in on Lux’s laughter...though Lux herself could tell it was a touch strained in nature. “Mmanny gratitudes for your kinnd gesture, dear Ashen. Wit such gracious mmanners, in Gladomm you would be invited to dine wit the Queen herself!”

Lux hummed—good thing that Calliope had not ended up being offended by Ashen’s weirdly intimate behavior.

Ashen Sky smiled a bit and scratched his neck. He still felt a little embarrassed for his breach earlier, and the fact that he could detect the awkwardness from her as well and… Did he smell excitement from her as well? That sent him slightly further into sense abashed and to hide it he resorted again to a short laugh. “Well I’ll be keepin’ that in mind if I evar make a trip round to your shores than me lady.” Calm, collected, in control. That’s what he needed to be right now. He was sitting in front of a celestial censor, one that he could smell the growing irritation and regret of even as Fakharu continued to smile patiently. Right now they needed someone to not be making outburst or fools of themselves. He took another sip of wine and a bite of his food to keep his nerves straight.

Keeping herself quiet, deciding it would be better to end the teasing, Lux went ahead and took hold of a goblet that was in front of her, taking a sip of the liquid that was inside of it...before grimacing. Ah, she should have expected it to be filled with some kind of fruity, alcoholic drink.... Such beverages not befitting her sense of tastes, Lux set the cup back upon the table and and began to idly fiddle with some of the food upon her plate. Things seemed to be a calming down.

....then Artisan had to open his mouth.

“Forgive me if this is a bit forward, Sir Night Thief, but you remind me of a young lady I once fancied. Darling she was to me, I’m afraid she is now lost to me.”

The Deathknight’s comment made Lux cease her mindless actions and look up at him. She quirked an eyebrow, and remembered the “lovebirds” comment he’d uttered in a rather embittered tone earlier. The Dragon-Blood didn’t know what to make of this Deathknight.

Ashen Sky, on the other hand, didn’t seem to have heard the second part of the Deathknight’s speech. The changing moon stopped mid chew on his most recent bite and shot a glance at the him. “And by what manner do ya mean that, if you mind me askin”. He knew the statement wasn’t an insinuation, helped by the slight hint of grief he smelled off the other man. Still though his tone might have come off slightly more flat than necessary. Again he took a swig of his wine to wash the food down and free himself for further speech.

Then Ioa had opened his big fat mouth. It seemed that everyone had a comment about something at the most inconvenient of times.

“You look really pretty, Lux! Really, really pretty!” Though Lux was beginning to relax, that comment was still enough to make her clear her throat out of discomfort...then it just got worse as the squirrelly Celestial looked between herself and Ashen.

"You know, now that I think about it, you two kinda make a really great pair! Lux alone looks great, but I bet it would look even more complete if Ashen dressed up with her! I bet they would make a really pretty pair!” The food and drink promptly went down the wrong pipe as Ashen Sky made a sharp intake of air. He started hammering on his chest to clear his windpipe as the runt continued to babble on his idea of giving the night thief a similar makeover as Lux.

Had Lux actually bothered to ingest anything more than the foul wine, she might have had a similar reaction to Ioa’s rambles. While Lux certainly didn’t choke, given that she had nothing to choke on, she definitely did freeze up and feel her face heat under the pigment and paint. So...Ioa thought...that...then. The Dragon-Blooded began to mumble incoherent things to herself, she was perceptive enough to know that Ioa had meant what he said in a completely innocuous manner—he’d meant aesthetics. ….or, at least, she was pretty sure of that.

Things only seemed to worsen when Astrid decided to put in her two cents as well.

"Indeed Mr. Corsair, perhaps a makeover is due for you as well. Certainly some fancy clothes and a Captain's hat could benefit you better than your current garb."

Throat finally cleared Ashen responded curtly, “I am perfectly able to dress meself, thanks.”

Lux wasn’t wholly sure if Astrid was out to tease Ashen, or if she was being completely serious. Either way, the girl wasn’t entirely over what Ioa had said, but she did her best to push it aside to try to collect her composure. If events did so happen to play out, and Fakharu’s handmaidens were somehow able to wrangle Ashen into a makeover, the Dragon-Blood wasn’t going to deny herself a little schadenfreude. ....so long as it didn’t go the way Ioa had suggested, of course.

“Oh, if the notion of proper gentlemen’s ware is unappealing to you, Ashen, then perhaps a makeover near identical to mine would better suit you?” Lux didn’t look over at the Lunar, instead she returned to picking at bits of her food before finally popping some sort of unknown meat into her mouth.

A frown appeared on the pirates face. “As ay jus’ said, I’m perfectly able ta dress myself.” Ashen’s voice became a little more hard at that and his accent slipped in again. He pointedly looked outward towards the open westward wall, away from Lux and the group. “Besides, I don’t think I have your pretty little figure to fit in that.”

Pretty little.... Lux cleared her throat and tried to move past the comment as she swallowed the bite of meat she’d been chewing on. It seemed her little bit of a quip got rather under his skin? It felt like his tone got oddly defensive there, hmm.... She took another bit of the meat and took a bigger bite, “Oh, you’d be rather surprised what you can do, even if you think you have nothing. Corsets, binders, shapewear, etc. I have personally seen men who look far better in a dress than I.”

A small frown appeared on the Lunar’s face though it was likely difficult to see from the way he was resolutely watching the shoreline outside. What, were those the options we heard Nāgasāni and the others were presenting you back there? Probably not best to discuss our undergarments at breakfast my dear.” He crossed his arms over his chest, slightly tense now. Though he was trying to tease her back, the pirate was getting slightly more crass in his comebacks. “And Anyway, I can’t speak for your experiences but I can certainly say that I’m not one of these girly men you seem fond of.”

Her face did redden a bit, but Lux could tell that he was trying to unnerve her. Maybe if it’d been a legitimate effort, it would have had the intended effect. Even if she could not see his expression, she could still at least grasp his body language, and saw that he’d stiffened up. Indeed, she’d been right in thinking he had gotten defensive beforehand. Why, exactly, he was so prickly about this particular subject made Lux wonder, while she stared at him quietly as she nibbled on vaguely savory vegetable.

This was another oddity for her to mentally stow away, she’d noticed a bit of strangeness from him earlier when she’d nearly sent him and herself off the pier.... For now, it was best to not dig any deeper. Even she’d meant her comments in jest, he did not take them so lightly, and continuing the exchange would only prove to cause issues. So, how to derail this conversation? ....puns had proved distracting to Ashen earlier, but, he hadn’t seemed to appreciate them. Well, they had been talking about corsets.... She’d adjusted a bit to the one she was forced into, but it still wasn’t the most comfortable experience. Shifting about in her seat, the Dragon-Blooded mumbled a few, quiet colorful words, “Truly, I cannot say I quite comprehend why anyone would wear a corset of their own accord, anyway. There are bits of me that are squished in such manners, that I’d have thought them impossible!” she puffed out her cheeks, pouting as she played up her discomfort. “Never did I think I’d have to reteach myself how to properly breathe, I do not understand how my lungs are supposed to function like this.”

It was a small gesture but it seemed to work. His arms were still crossed but his shoulders eased up, and he finally turned his attention back to her with a raised eyebrow. He’d relaxed rather quickly now that the topic had changed. “Why did you even let ‘em stuff ya into tha thing?”

Well, she was glad that had done what was intended.... Lux forced a deep sigh as she fidgeted a bit, “I didn’t really have a choice in the matter, they just sort of threw it around me and laced me up into it.” she slid down a bit in her seat, “Til now I’ve never wore one, and after this, I’d prefer not to wear one again, if it can be helped.”

“Well, I recommend not letting yourself get kidnapped by a group of couturier then if tha be the case.” he quipped. A comfortable silence descended on the two as the meal continued. This brunch though was likely nearing its end, and probably sensing that Artisan brought up the question to the water dragon of why they were all here. Ashen and Lux both looked to the dragon with a similar question on their minds and waited for the Censor’s response.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
Spoiler: show
Ashen Sky Activates TRUTH SCENTING METHOD
Current Motes: Personal Pool: 4/6 Peripheral Pool: 13/13
Current Willpower: 5/5
Current Health: 5/5
Current Ongoing Charms active: EMOTION REVEALING SCENT, TRUTH SCENTING METHOD


Fakharu bore the chatter of his guest with the patience of ages. There were an number of things in the gathered exalts actions that showed a surprising lack of decorum in their behavior that was displeasing to his sensibilities. Still though, he continued to grin and bare it. He had been the one to decide on inviting this group of exalted into his tower and thus it was on him for whatever ruckus they made while here. Still though, he was making mental notes on each of them as the meal progressed, and thus far his opinions of them were becoming low. If he weren't scrapped for time he probably would have sought out chosen that held more.... competent airs about them.

Finally the deathknight spoke up, and the dragon was almost glad to answer the question and put the present farce out of his mind. "So... I may have taken liberties against my liege's wishes in coming here. So in his honor, I'll get to the thick of it... About our summons..." Ah yes. The deathknight's 'liege', the Bodhisattva Anointed By Dark Water. That was also a matter he would be getting into. Later of course. But for now the query deserved an answer and it was as good an opportunity as any to broach the matter.

"Ah yes, your summons. I had hoped to make sure you were all comfortable before I raised the issue of why I had called you hear for it is a rather difficult one." The dragon shifted in his seat till he was no longer in a reclining position. Now straight backed and sitting tall he drew the gathered guest attentions on himself. "Now before I begin, I know that some of you know me, and some of you only know my name but not my position and the duties therein in the celestial order. So for that reason allow me to reintroduce myself; I am Fakharu, appointed celestial censor of the west by the order of heaven. It is my responsibility to provide oversight and audits of the gods and elemental spirits of the west and enforce the laws of heaven in this portion of creation."

He gave a brief moment for that to sink in before he continued. "My rank in the celestial order grants me much power and prestige amongst the gods, but with that privilege comes the issues of responsibilities to uphold and envious rivals that would seek to exploit my power for their own gains or bitter law breakers that would undermine my authority. This is why I have called you, for the actions of a few such criminals has put me in a difficult position and I would be grateful for your aid in resolving the matter."

The dragon paused again to take a deep breath and place a claw over his chest. "The issue is a personal one I am afraid. One who is dear to me has been kidnapped by a trio of sirens, in an attempt to force me to unjustly prosecute the Storm Mother of a spirit court to the west of here. Naturally I would never abuse my position in such a manner under normal circumstances," Ashen sky's nose twitched at this but he said nothing. "but the threat to my beloved Amarel is something I cannot ignore. I cannot chase after her myself however, much as I would wish to- not only would such action give certain enemies of mine unwelcome ideas, but the sirens would know that I have left my spire and might kill her before I could reach her. They have hidden her in a place called the Archipelago of exiles, a place hidden from the eyes of heaven and earth by certain magics from long ago. This is why I need you, noble exalted, I cannot send my own servants for they are too well known in the west and the sirens may have spies watching the tower so I need trust worthy and powerful allies, unknown to the powers of the west who can covertly rescue her in my stead. If you aid me in this emergency, I can promise that you will be richly rewarded and you will have me in your debt."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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Lux listened intently, silent and thoughtless as Fakharu spoke.... Before explaining the reason behind the writ that he’d had delivered to each of the group, the Lesser Dragon took it upon himself to ensure that everyone in the group understood the fundamentals about him, his position and what it all entailed. Certainly, Lux was aware of a few sparse facts prior to this, at least...she knew enough to comprehend that Fakharu was an influential individual of great importance. She didn’t need to know many of the finer details to realize that his position as a Celestial Censor of the West came with as many negatives as it did positives…. Positions of authority were a double-edged sword for a plethora of reasons, after all.

“...this is why I have called you, for the actions of a few such criminals has out ne in a difficult position and I would be grateful for your aid in resolving the matter.” If Lux’s attention hadn’t been drawn to the Dragon before, it certainly was now. Fakharu sighed, deeply, and set one of his clawed hands upon his chest before he continued. Whatever he was about to divulge to the group, it was a...sensitive topic. And in the back of Lux’s mind, she thought about that statue.... “The issue is a personal one, I am afraid. One who is dear to me has been kidnapped by a trio of sirens in an attempt to force me to unjustly prosecute the Storm Mother of a Spirit Court to the west of here. Naturally, I would never abuse my position in such a manner under normal cirumstances, but the threat to my beloved Amarel is something I cannot ignore.”

So, it seemed that perhaps her intuition wasn’t wrong—Lux’s hands tightened into small fists upon her lap and a rather light expression of ire overtook her features as she continued to listen to Fakharu as his explanation turned into a plea.
“I cannot chase after her myself, however, much as I would wish to—not only would such action give certain enemies of mine unwelcome ideas, but the sirens would know that I left my spire and might kill her before I could reach her.” A pang of melancholy resounded throughout Lux's person. Fakharu and Amarel's situation...it was one she was knew all too well. After all, once upon the night she'd taken her Second Breath, she'd been held as a hostage. They'd used her as leverage against the closest thing she'd had to a mother, and that'd gotten her killed. Lux survived, only because of Vered's sacrifice and the fact that she Exalted.

Fakharu had more to say, but Lux knew where this was going, it made sense why he’d beckoned to Exalted all across Creation...even if she didn’t think she was quite fit for the task she knew he was going to ask of them. And she didn't even need to be asked.

“They have hidden in a place called the Archipelago of Exiles, a place hidden from the eyes of heaven and earth by magics from long ago. This is why I need you, Noble Exalted, I cannot send my own servants for they are too well known in the West and the sirens may have spies watching the tower, so I need trustworthy and powerful allies, unknown to the powers of the West who can covertly rescue her in my stead.” Someone of Fakharu’s position didn’t beg for help, but this...was about as close to it as you’d ever see, Lux was sure of that.

To call upon perfect strangers for a task like this one, truly, Fakharu was desperate, and she understood why. The Dragon was caught between a rock and hard place, his lover being held hostage, while he was physically unable to anything to save her. That someone would sink so low, that someone would do this.... This sort of matter was something that Lux would have felt compelled toward if she happened across it during her journeys. To take someone’s loved one to blackmail them—it disgusted her! Unbeknownst to Lux, she’d started jittering, just a bit as the irritation built in her. She still wasn’t sure just how helpful she could be, but, without needing any incentive, Lux was already swayed to the cause.

“If you aid me in this emergency, I can promise that you will be richly rewarded and you will have me in your debt.” Fakharu finished, definitely trying to persuade the group...certainly that might be necessary for some, but, not for Lux. She didn’t need any incentives. Lux didn’t need promises of wealth or favors, she didn’t want those things.... And, perhaps she’d be called naïve or silly for that, but it didn’t matter to her. All she wanted to do was do what was right.

Perhaps her compassion and her anger over this wrong got the better of her, but without realizing the small Dragon-Blooded had gotten to her feet rather quickly which caused her chair to slide backward with a squeal, slammed her hands down on top of the table hard enough to make the dinnerware clink and rattle. She probably looked like a fool again, getting so emotional, but Lux didn’t care about that. “How revolting! That they’d sink so low....” she started, her voice loud, impassioned. Her views were simplistic, influenced by her own experienced but across all spectrums she’d view this situation the same. As wrong, wrong, wrong! No matter who the victims were, or their lot in life, her reaction would be as fiery.

“The sort of sods who’d commit this kind of thing can rot, as far as I’m concerned....” she spoke, rather allowing her thoughts to form aloud. Lux removed her hands from the tabletop and looked at Fakharu, expression genuine and determined, “I cannot say I’m entirely confident in myself, but, I want to help. I want nothing and need nothing, from you, Lord Fakharu, I just...want to help, if I’m able to.”

She jumped at the call, not caring or knowing if any of the others would even agree to assist. It didn’t matter, she was committed to this, and she would do whatever she could—she couldn't stand the thought of someone being in the position she once was. Certainly, the task that Lux was vowing herself to could well end up costing her, her life but...that didn't matter. If she did nothing, she couldn't live with herself. Whatever she was capable of doing, she'd do it.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ioa Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Sepokku
And so it was that Fakharu began to explain the reason he called these... uncouth heroes together. Artisan nodded while listening to Fakharu explain who he was and what he did, a fact that the Deathknight already knew. Present company taken into account though, he wasn't surprised of the necessity. Artisan himself had already explained this fact, but... he wouldn't be surprised if the group had already forgotten. After all.... Look at their behavior.

It seemed his lover had been spirited away, probably in retaliation against his corrupt behavior. It brought a slight smile to Artisan's face, one he did his best to hide. Fakharu blamed the incident on his position of power, but... The Abyssal decided it was probably more likely that he had made enemies of the sirens through his rather lackadaisical actions. As a result of the censor's indolent behavior, the gathered Exalted were being implored to head to the Archipelago of Exile.

The Artisan That Which Souls Cling didn't like that idea, but Fakharu promised "If you aid me in this emergency, I can promise that you will be richly rewarded and you will have me in your debt." Which could definitely help with the mission his liege had tasked him with... Traveling with this group for an extended period of time could prove troublesome though. Lux interrupted his musings with an outburst of utter selflessness.

“I cannot say I’m entirely confident in myself, but, I want to help. I want nothing and need nothing, from you, Lord Fakharu, I just...want to help, if I’m able to.” How quaint that someone so seemingly harmless would so fervently stand up for what was 'right.' "Very commendable Lux. I understand what it's like to lose a loved one, Lord Fakharu. I'd be more than happy to lend you my assistance. I understand how intricate these political proceedings can get. They could discuss the reward and incurred debt in more detail upon his return.


Astrid was indeed comfortable, with a full belly and a decent buzz going on. Though she didn't appreciate Fakharu taking so long to bring up his reason for summoning them. It seemed underhanded somehow, waiting until your guests were intoxicated to beg favors of them. The Dragon continued bragging about his power and crying 'woe is me' about the misfortune it brought. She couldn't care less who audited or enforced what in the West. Not yet anyways.

Fakharu would be in less of a position to help should his authority be undermined, but ultimately he was but a piece to be used for her own betterment. It seemed the Dragon's romantic plaything had been taken out from under his nose and was knowing being held as a hostage. A tactic that Astrid enjoyed implementing, but one that reflected poorly on Fakharu. To think he couldn't even protect the ones within his palace. All that power, wasted on such a being.

She'd have to lend her aid though, as she'd already wasted this much time coming here and hearing him out. She decidedly wasn't swayed by his mention of reward and being in his debt. Though it had originally been why she came here, at this point she legitimately felt bad for the old bastard. Able to move rivers, lay low entire cities, and bend the very spirits of Creation to his will and yet; the old fart couldn't even keep hold of the woman that held his affection. Truly pitiful.

Sneaking through Creation and infiltrating a magically hidden archipelago to snap three sirens neck and save a fair maiden was the kind of thing Astrid lived for. She could hardly say no to such a challenge. Especially when it could positively impact her tribesmen. Deciding she was done with the feast, Astrid would have started to answer, were it not for Lux's outburst. It seemed the little creature was truly upset about Fakharu's misfortune. That or she was feigning it like the sniveling Dynasts loved to do, whatever emotion proved most useful they wore like a mask.

The filthy Abyssal also accepted, much to her dismay. Reserving judgement for now, Astrid nodded while looking Fakharu in the eye, "Very well Celestial Censor, I hear your request and will have your beloved back to you. Covertly is my middle name. Hold up your end of the bargain and I shall hold up mine, in only a short while we'll be feasting in this same room with Amarel, laughing the night away. Where is this Exile's Archipelago?"