Exalted: A Tale in the Time of Tumult

The West

a part of Exalted: A Tale in the Time of Tumult, by Wake.

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

Wake holds sovereignty over The West, giving them the ability to make limited changes.
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Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/exalted

Setting

https://youtu.be/RsihdhI_VjY

The Western ocean is the largest body of water in all of the known world, stretching for thousands of miles in all directions. The Great Island Chain in the furthest west is the last bastion of civilization before it all gives way to nothing but open seas.

The Wavecrest Archipelago is probably what about half the people in Creation think of when they think of living in the West. It’s tropical, its people are generally peaceful, and it is a wealthy tourist nation on a verdant volcanic isle. However, the leader, the Feathered One, keeps his position by feeding criminals to the volcano god when he grows angry, and of course the archipelago’s riches are not unenvied by others. While it appears idyllic, like all other directions, Wavecrest has its own problems.

The Neck is more provincial, a chain of islands loyal to the Realm where tribal inhabitants survive by fishingg and kelp gathering. They are relatively unspectacular, but they live on a treasure trove of ancient lore. Once, their islands were part of a larger continent called Okeanos. Though they do not realize it, they are living amidst the ruins of First Age glory.

The Coral Archipelago is what the other half of Creation imagines when they consider the West. They are a pirate nation, thinly disguised as merchants. While they bear nominal loyalty to the Realm, theirs is an economy based on thievery and nautical bullying. They believe in excellence winning out over weakness, and to them, the weak cannot protect their belongings.

The Denzik Merchants are actually merchants, a single floating city built by lashing the hulls of ships together, over and over, until it was large enough to support a culture. They sail around the West, taking on and budding off ships to spread their sails (and sales) to all the cultures of Creation. If you need some commodity in the West, the Denzik can find it.

The Skullstone Archipelago is a shadowland in the northwest, ruled by the Silver Prince. It is a necrocracy, where the dead rule and the living are second-class citizens. Unbeknownst to the people of Skullstone, their ruler is actually the Deathlord known as the Bodhissatva Anointed by Dark Water, and his “idyllic” necropolis is actually covering up a darker secret.

The Lintha are less a nation and more a rapacious culture based in the southwest. Accurately decribed as “demon-worshipping, cannibalistic, castration-happy slaver pirates,” they are the descendents of Kimbery, the Sea that Marched against the Flame, one of the Yozis. They raid and pillage in the southwest, led by the chosen of their demonic mother, seeking to regain the purity of their past.

Finally, Luthe was once a magnificent First Age city that floated atop the ocean, until the Usurpation came. The Solar in charge of Luthe chose to sink it, destroying herself, her subjects, and the assassins who came for her, dropping Luthe to the ocean’s floor. However, some of her people survived, and in time bred with beastmen to make a city of wondrous splendor. However, it is still guarded by Admiral Leviathan, the First Age Lunar who loved the queen of Luthe, and woe betide trespassers to his watery domain.

The region has been plagued for centuries by disorder. Pirates frequently patrol these waters, sometime even sponsored by powerful nations that vie for what scarce resources the islands can produce and making privatering a respected position among many in the west. Some, particularly the dredded Lintha Family Syndicate, even going so far as to defy the realm.

Local spirit courts are horribly mismanaged and fraught with infighting and corruption, likely the worst case in all of the five terrestrial regions. Special note must be made of the Storm Mothers in this case who dominate many the waterways. Known for their vanity and short tempers, they grow wrathful whenever they witness a woman more beautiful than they sailing their waters and unleash their fury on any boat carrying such pretties on their decks, which may well be all women for the Storm Mothers are universally hideously ugly. Subjected to this for so many centuries, many cultures here have adapted rigged gender roles to allay the Storm Mother' wrath.

The West

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

Minimap

The West is a part of Creation.

8 Characters Here

Astrid Grünewald [79] "Only a fool defies the Nightfangs, only the wicked deserve their wrath."
Lux Fiala [78] Life can change in an instant, whether for better or worse; don't let it break you!
Ashen Sky [76] "Clever is the predator that stalks it's prey. More clever is the hunter that bait's his predator."
Calliope Lordes [73] Know thy self, know thy enemy. #FE6979
The Artisan That Which Souls Cling [54] "Your flesh is weak, but malleable... After the operation it shall be neither."
Ioa [41] The runner who keeps on running.
The Storyteller [4] Me, the GM. I will be taking a more hands on route in directing the role play and the npc inhabitants of this world.
cutiekittyYui [0] nice,fun,cute,helpful, but she is shy and she can be mean.

Start Character Here »


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
Ashen Sky let out let out a low whistle at the sight of the spire and nodded along to Artisan's explanation on. "Ay an by tha looks of o' it 'is assets be vast indeed." Almost immediately Ashen slipped back into his native accent again. "'Ave to wonder what sorta power bein' one o' tha censors gives 'im to amass all tha' an display it with outta care." And sightlently, he pondered what advantages it would be to have that power on his side. He'd had some misgivings about returning to the west as when he had left it had been made clear that he wasn't.... welcome in the great archipelago anymore and the simple act of showing his face here again would likely put him in danger. But if this Fakharu person was as influential as it was claimed, then getting himself in his good graces would likely be another step towards being beyond his pursuers reach.

As the minutes passed the spire loomed larger and larger as it came into focus and eventually the sun broke free of the horizon behind it just as the ship came to moor at the long pier jutting out from the shore. Just as with the ship itself and the spire before it, the wharf they descended upon was of splendorous craftsmanship with perfectly shaped wood untouched by the elements and nailed in place with precious metals. And from where it met the shore a long twisting path that was bordered on both sides by a beach of perfectly arranged raked sand and up through a field of well cultivated and colorful trees and bushes.

Ashen was the first out of the boat, figuring he'd be slightly courteous and offer a hand to those without sea legs in getting off the boat and over the gap between it and the pier. And as the passengers disembarked from the boat five beautiful young women began walking down the path from the pier. Each was bareheaded, garbed in clothing of white linen and each wearing jewelry exclusively of one of the five magical metals in the form of bracelets, necklaces and girdles. The one at the head of the group, adorned on decorations of orchicalcum, stepped forward and bowed. "Welcome honored exalted. We have been eagerly awaiting your arrival and we hope your journey was pleasant. I am Nāgasāni, behind me are Vengalu, Periya, Hotton and Lakshmī." At their introduction each of the other four women gave a slight curtsy in turn. "We humbly ask that you allow us to escort you to the lords spire."

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: Lux Fiala

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
For his part, Ashen Sky was used to the transition's from a rocking boat to a stable platform. And he was used to the unsteady swaying of fellow crew on rough seas. So the idea of bracing for the impact of another body colliding with his own was not new to him, but in this case there were a few factors that even he hadn't been prepared for.

Firstly was that he simply had been caught off guard in this case. He'd just helped Lux off the boat, and then held his hand out for the second passenger off when the quintet of bejeweled women came to meet them on the pier. He did give the group an appraising glance and hummed to himself as he hoisted another member of their party onto the pier, silently pleased with Fakharu's taste in staff so far. He could guess a bit at the ethnicity of the women in front of him as he saw tell tale signs of two or three island groups he was familiar with by their complexion. Figuring that he'd let Lux be the one to handle first greeting since she had been so excited to be on the island itself, he turned his attention behind him for the next passenger to help off the boat. That had been his mistake.

Lux, as it turned out, was also rather stunned by the five girls appearance. But rather than take it in appreciation she seemed to go instead for bashfulness and promptly retreated backwards straight into Ashen Sky himself. Distracted he too the full brunt of her back peddling and nearly took a fall into the drink. He was saved that fate and the accompanying embarrassment by a trio of factors. First the simple fact that Lux wasn't that heavy in comparison to himself and second was, again, Ashen Sky's instinctual surefootedness and experience with being tussled about. It was the third factor that he was not ready for that truly threw him of his mental balance.

Almost as quickly as Lux and bumped into him she wheeled about and made a grab at his shirt in an attempt to spare him a saltwater bath. There was a breath moment of panic for both of them as her momentum carried her into him and they both nearly tipped, but a combination of both their efforts kept them taking the spill. To the on looker it might have been somewhat comical, but to the both of them it was slightly distressing. On any other day, Ashen Sky would have thoroughly enjoyed having a pretty young woman clinging to him in such a way. But right here, and right now was most certainly not that day and he felt a ting of mortification burn on his face as the younger girl had her hands on the part of his upper body that gave the most leverage. Lux was now effectively and firmly groping his soft chest, electing from the lunar a sound of indeterminable origin as she squeezed. In that same instant she seemed to realize what she had done, let out a small squeaking noise of her own and separated from him at a quick step. Ashen Sky sharply followed suit by promptly turning around so that he could get the flush red embarrassment out of his face and readjust his shirt and jacket, clearly rattled by the experience. All the while in his head he muttered a mantra of:

'thatdidn'tjusthappenthatdidn'tjusthappenthatdidn'tjusthappen'

For their part the women seemed rather non-pulsed with the debacle as Lux made a flustered attempt at salvaging introductions. Ashen shuttered a bit to get the goose bumps out and fixed his jackets straps before he he let out a small cough, having finally regained his composure. This was NOT how he was going to start his service to a member of the celestial court. Most certainly not like a bashful maiden afraid of making a scene. Straightening himself he turned about just as Lux started making her apology. "Ashen, I-I am SO sorry for nearly knocking you over, I-I, oh, goodness...."

He let out a slightly nervous, perhaps slightly forced, chuckle and made a show of waving it off like it was nothing. "Oh don't be worryin' about it miss'm, ya just surprised me ah bit is all." He smoothed back his hair a bit and made himself appear relaxed about the whole ordeal. It was nothing. It was DEFINITELY NOTHING. He was NOT going to loose his cool because a girl he just met felt up his pectorals. "Accident's 'appen, no body got hurt. It's all fine. I'm more flattered that ye'd be jumpin' me so soon than anythin'. It's rather bold o' ye." He let out another slightly nervous laugh, playing the whole incident off as a joke that they could quip about later. Nothing weird or off putting happened.

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: Lux Fiala

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As for Ioa, as they arrived, he remembered to put on his boots and stepped off of the ship with a sort of simplicity and energy. He seemed entirely unphased by fear and concern, but he was smiling as he admitted the castle and the surrounding area. In the process, he saw the events unfold in front of him between Lux and Aschen, however...he failed to detect any lewd thoughts or such that others might get.

"You two okay?" he asked as he walked down, seemingly unaffected by the swaying waves and continued to admire the area. And then, he noticed the five women as well. "Oh! Hello! My name is Ioa! You all look really nice by the way! This castle looks nice too, did you help it look so nice and beautiful from expertise?"

Ioa, who unknowingly said way too many things with pure sincerity and interest and zero underlying motives, just gave a smile as he continued to walk down and made it to the docks safely. He wondered though if they were going to eat, rest, and bathe first before meeting the man who invited them, or maybe just bathe and rest and they would meet over a feast like in fairytales, or maybe they would just go and meet him directly.

He looked back at the women, thsi time with a curious look. "By the way, are we meeting him directly? What is the plan?"

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: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Lux Fiala

0.50 INK

#, as written by Wake
Collab post between myself and Jakuri

The young Lunar wasn't sure at what point Lux was behind him, his engrossed state pushing out the rest of the world for that moment. It wasn't until he heard her humming beside him that he final noticed her presence. A quizzical look fell across his face as she spoke. It took him a few seconds to process what she was going on about. When it did click he blinked. Then brushing the moisture out of his eyes he gave her a miffed expression. “I’m sorry, but it looked as if you could use a distraction.” She admitted.

"Ay, consider me distracted. Those we're terrible." He paused as he noticed the handmaidens enter with their assorted equipment. "Though I think tha won't be the only distraction in the room in a minute." He muttered as one as Vengalu stepped forward and asked to borrow Lux. Getting a slight hint of what was going on, and seeing no reason not to enjoy someone else's predicament if he could, the glint of humor returned to Ashen Sky's eyes as he gave the Dragon blooded a slight gentle shove towards the starmetal wearing girl. "Sure ye can!" He answered for her. "Meal's not started yet. Lux'd love to spare a minute for whatever ye need!"

Lux had let out a small yelp as Ashen lightly pushed her toward Vengalu, volunteering her time to the handmaidens. She saw what items the lot of them had, and she had a feeling what she was being volunteered for.... Artisan’s earlier joke about being provided a change of clothes ran through her head. Looks like the Deathknight’s joke wasn’t about to just be a joke. A dismayed expression overtaking her face, Lux shrank inwardly on herself a bit, blushing at the thought of being forced into another outfit so suddenly. Despite however politely Vengalu had made the request...she saw the look in the handmaiden’s eyes! “U-uh,um...I….”

Before Lux could answer proper on her own behalf, and politely decline, Vengalu moved, setting a hand on one of Lux’s shoulders, responding eagerly to Ashen having answered for her. “Marvelous, then! Sir Ashen, we’ll have Lady Lux for but a short moment—she needn’t suffer through a meal with soggy clothing on, after all. It wouldn’t do her or anyone well if she caught a case of the sniffles, after all.”

“Indeed, we’ll have her tidied up in no time at all.” Lakshmī spoke up as well, moving to set her hand on Lux’s other unoccupied shoulder before Vengalu and she began to gently guide the girl toward an empty portion of the room. Lux stiffened up, going scarlet red, “Th-there’s no need, I-I’ve suffered through worse than a meal in damp clothing!” she weakly protested, knowing that it was pointless to do so....

"Nonsense!" Was Hotton's firm and sharp proclamation. "We can't well call ourselves good host if we allow one of our guest to endure even mild discomfort whilst dining at our table!" With that statement made she opened the folding curtain with a flourish and an audible snap. This barrier granted the twin benefits of privacy from the rest of the room to work and a convenient block on the only available escape route Lux might have had. "Now!" Periya said with a clap and a wicked grin. "Lets get you out of those filthy things."

And with that they descended on the terrestrial exalt with the ferocity of a pack of starved sharks, fully committed to the task of 'helping' their guest out of her current attire. They moved with frightening level of efficiency and practiced ease of someone trained specifically for this task. Each worked in tandem, holding arms and legs while the others fiddled with buckles and straps. Nāgasāni tusked as she held up recently relieved shirt."My, My this does show some wear and tear. When did you last have this taken in to a tailor Lady Lux?" She tossed it into a growing pile to the side "Oh we simply cannot let you be seen in it a moment longer, it does absolutely nothing to compliment your figure."

She yelped and squeaked, making noise after noise of protest as various articles of clothing were stripped and pulled off her without any regard. Nāgasāni fussed and commented on her clothing and its well-worn state—then mentioning how it did nothing to compliment her figure. Lux paid little heed to her words though as complete mortification overtook her in her current state of undress. To say that Lux’s face resembled a tomato was almost an understatement, at this point. The quintet had stripped her down to her underclothes with no regard. When Lux’s arms and legs were freed from the handmaiden’s vice-like grips, her arms quickly flew overtop her chest and she slunk inward a bit, head down as she attempted to object, but found herself only able to make an incoherent, birdlike shriek.... A sharp shiver ran through her, her exposed skin developed gooseflesh as it caught a breeze from a nearby, open window. Tropical though the environment was, it was still barely spring, the air carried still winter’s chill.

Hotton set a hand upon the small of Lux’s waist, and a hand upon a shoulder and guided her posture straight. “Oh, Lady Lux, the sooner you allow us to gather your measurements, the sooner you’ll not have to endure the temperature, I assure you, you’ll look a wonder!”

At her side, Periya was taking hold of Lux’s arm again as Lakshmī took hold of the other and straightened them out while Vangalu brought out a measuring tape. Lux quivered abit, til she felt the tape wrap around her back and her.... That made her yelp, “P-Please don’t touch me there!”

The handmaidens collectively held back a small giggle at the Terrestrial’s reaction, she had nothing to be embarrassed about. They weren’t doing anything inappropriate and had done this for numerous individuals—this was something everyday for them, after all.

“Don’t worry, Lady Lux, we’ve almost finished your measurements, we’ll ensure that your clothing compliments your natural beauty and your build, as Hotton said, you’ll look a wonder.” Nāgasāni assured the girl, the slightest smile on the handmaiden’s face as she jotted down numbers on a piece of parchment as Vangalu rattled them off.

Meanwhile, Hotton began fetching a particular set of clothing from the rollaway wardrobe that she felt would suit Lux just splendidly....

As Hotton sifted through the collection of garments Lakshmī hummed a bit as she gave their charge a quick once over. "You know you have such lovely skin Lady Lux. Soft and a fine shade of color. It's a shame your hair seems to be so rebellious though." She held up a lock of her golden blonde hair an rolled it around between her finger and thumb. "Since we're at this stage already, we should set it in order for you while we have the change."

A cooing noise came from Periya on the other side of her. "Oooo yes! A bit of Sea Adder extract to bring out the shine a bit more!" Nāgasāni nodded in agreement. "And while we're doing that we could have her nails trimmed and painted." Behind her Vangalu was already rushing to grab a chair and a large bowl for water. Without even waiting for Lux to object they quickly bade her to sit down, propped up the bowl behind her which mysteriously seemed to fill with simmering water all of its own and then they each took a hand or a foot and got to work. Hotton had finished narrowing down her choices and left her pick hanging from the curtain behind them as she then went to rest at Lux's left foot. Vangalu took the other, while Lakshmī and Periya went to her hands. Nāgasāni took position behind the terrestrial and gently lowered the back of her head into the warm water, soaking her hair before she began rubbing some thick fluid into her locks and scalp, slowly working up to in messaging with firm but soft motions. As they worked each offered complements of Lux's appearance, her face, her eyes, her hair, her skin. Though they were taking all the fun they could get out of playing 'dress up' with the dragon blooded, they were still professionals offering kind and flattering words to their current victim charge.

Honestly, she didn’t know how to react anymore, it didn’t matter if she squirmed, writhed or begged; there was no salvation from what was happening. The handmaidens were drawing this out because they were having fun toying with her. Maybe it was karma for having so impolitely stared at them earlier... The girls made quick work, doing...something to her feet and hands, had they mentioned paint? Nāgasāni had some thick goop in her hair (had she said it was Sea Adder extract?!), and was scrubbing away at her scalp while Lux was otherwise helpless to stop any of it. She just squeezed her eye shut and whined all the while, as each of the handmaidens individually paid her compliment after compliment on one thing or another.... In a way, yes, she very much appreciated the kind words; the handmaidens were polite, even if they were forcing her into what was essentially a spontaneous makeover against her will.

“I-I’m not.... Anything particularly special.” she managed to squeak out as the quintet worked. Lux’s denial of her own beauty made Nāgasāni’s fingers pause in their work on her scalp. A very small frown appeared on her face that went unseen by Lux, and she went back to massaging the Sea Adder extract into her victim’s hair

“Lady Lux, I must politely say that I am inclined to disagree with your perspective, though we handmaidens may be having a bit of fun with you—our compliments are sincere. You’ve charms and beauty; we’re just going to help make those a touch more obvious.”

Despite Nāgasāni’s assurances, and admitted teasing, Lux softly mumbled in embarrassment as the girls finished their various tasks.

Nāgasāni continued to lather, rinse, and then rinse again. The gelled shampoo had been fully applied to Lux's hair at this point and now all that remained was to clear the excess away, comb it straight, give her a light trim and then bind her hair to quickly dry before combing it again a final time. The other four finished their self assigned set of nails one by one and collectively began to pillage the makeup box. A new fever seemed to come over the girls now. At the start this had just been an excuse to have a little fun, practice their talents a bit and enjoy make the young fire aspect squirm and blush adorably a little under some light hearted teasing. And while that was still mostly the main goal, Lux's denial of her own beauty sparked another goal in their minds, to convince her that she was every bit as pretty as she actually was.

Brushes and pigments in tow, the four with free hands took position around her again and began applying makeup to her face, neck and shoulders with the care and patience of an artist polishing a statue.

Wordless whines and mewls came from Lux as the quintet continued their meticulous work on her, her expression caught somewhere between timid and a grimace. At this point, Lux had come to accept her situation with some kind of reluctant grace—it was futile to object to anything that the handmaidens had planned for her. Even if she still felt horridly awkward, resisting would do her no favors, and it’d all be over quicker if she just let it happen.... With that said, in spite of how very jumbled Lux’s mind was, she...couldn’t help but feel that something was now a just a smidge different with how the girls were working. They seemed determined in a new way?

Perhaps her comment had created some kind of spark within them? Nāgasāni’s words were so kind, and Lux was grateful, but she’d been speaking the truth...she never thought of herself as anything so special. She didn’t think she was hideous or anything! She just thought herself...average. Was there something wrong with that?

“Lady Lux,” Vangalu spoke gently, “May I request that you hold your expression neutral? Otherwise, the cosmetics will not go on proper—please?”

A small breath slipped from Lux—cosmetics. Lux had never wore cosmetics of any sort before. She’d seen the box the handmaidens had been handling, but. Ah, there was no way out of this, the maids were going to paint her face whether or not she complied...and as averse as she was toward all of this, it was likely apparent that Lux was otherwise incapable of denying any request these girls made of her at this point. A small noise came out of Lux as she slipped downward into the chair she was seated in, giving in.

“I-I...eh, you all very well can figure I’m incapable of refusing you....” she murmured, her voice quiet and quivering as she forced neutrality over her face.

Periya giggled softly at Lux’s words, “We’ll keep that in mind, Lady Lux.”

Returning to her state of discomfiture, Lux felt a comb being run through hair while puffs and brushes worked their way around her face—powders and creams being applied. The sensation was so foreign and strange—Lux wasn’t sure if she liked how it felt or not? Did individuals of nobility truly wear this substance on their faces every day...?

Whilst Lux silently ruminated over this, the handmaidens seamlessly blended their work, every bit of powder and pigment flawless and perfectly picked; a soft rose for the lips and a delicate ruby for the apples of her cheeks—truly Lux now looked every bit the part of the bashful maiden she acted.

With the final stroke of the brush applied the girls leaned back to regard their work. They each simultaneously nodded in silent agreement. Now came for the final touch. As Lux's hair dried they bade her to stand up once more and take position in the center of the handmaiden's circle. Hotton fetched the outfit she had selected and presented it to the others from beside Lux. One glance at it got the approval of the other four, it was a perfect choice for the young woman and they held it next to her for comparison to prove that fact.

It was a gown as white as sea foam. Consisting of three parts; first a Bodice in the Décolletage style, clinging from the sides of the upper arms to better show off the neck and shoulders. It flowed downward like a waterfall, splitting at the front and continuing behind into a Train that fell all the way down till it reached the back of her feet. Looping around just beneath her breast was a rope to grant stability to the Bodice, a rope that was made of fibers taken from phoenix feathers which gave it a constant slight shimmer to it. This same golden phoenix thread was also embroidered along the frills and edges. Above her chest at the low neckline was another embroidery, this one made of deep green that matched the color of her eyes. This portion thread came from the hair of a dryad and the proximity gave off the scent of pine and cedar trees. From the back a hung a large bow made of the same material as the embroidery with a flowing design to it. From the Bodice's center and on both of it's sleeves was a small golden 'flower' of golden thread with a single emerald in each.

Next beneath the Bodice was a small under skirt that wrapped around her midsection and drifted down to the upper thighs and it too had the shimmering gold thread stitched along it's bottom frills. Finally came a pair of stocking that went all the way up her legs until they rested just a few inches below the the lows edge of the skirt and it too had a design of gold and emerald threads. The whole ensemble was brilliant, a work of carefully woven textile work and specifically chosen materials.

Nāgasāni sighed happily. "A splendid match for you Lady Lux. I think it will complement your hair and eyes wonderfully." She rubbed her hands together and hopped excitedly where she was. This had been the most fun she and the other girls had had in ages and they each were pleased with how the final end result was about to look. But just as they were about to complete the piece and slip the dragon blooded into it, Periya hummed slightly to get their leader's attention and held up something else behind her with a wink. She thumbed up then down in a silent question of 'yes? No?'. Nāgasāni paused, bit her lip, gave Lux a gauging look, and finally shrugged and nodded. ONE last bit of mischief before they set her free of the constant stream of teasing.

"Now, let’s get you into something that matches it's texture a bit more closely first. Just to make sure it's the complete outfit." There was a slight impishness to her tone as Periya advanced behind the exalt with a silk corset and matching undergarment. Besides her, Vangalu appeared with a tray of perfumes and scented oils.

As exposed and embarrassed as Lux felt, having to stand in a state of near undress, she couldn’t deny how...stunning the dress was that the handmaidens had selected for her. The quintet were genuine in their compliments, but looking at the dress, Lux just felt as if it was something that didn’t belong on the likes of her, it was so striking. But, Nāgasāni and the rest of the handmaidens seemed so enthusiastic.... Even if this whole ordeal was completely, horridly mortifying on every conceivable level for Lux, she could at least take some comfort knowing that the handmaidens at least seemed to have had fun, even if it was at her expense and humiliated her to her core.

Though she didn’t feel as if she was suitable for the dress, Lux would don it, if only to appease the girls. They seemed happy. Lux sighed, ready to just get on with it...til Nāgasāni’s comment about completing the outfit.

....Lux had no time to process what she meant, or anything else for that matter, as Vangalu and Hotton moved in and held Lux’s arms upward.

For the umpteenth time in a matter of minutes, Lux was left utterly flabbergasted when she found a corset of all things being put around her middle, and laced up with no warning. A loud, high-pitched squeal escaped from Lux’s throat as the laces were tightened and her waistline was forced even tinier. “A-Ah! Too tight! T-Too tight! Isn’t my waist already small enough?”

Periya hummed from behind Lux, as she made quick and accurate work of the laces. “Given the circumstances, we handmaidens feel you should experience the joys of the complete ensemble, corset included, Lady Lux!” Nāgasāni and Lakshmī, meanwhile, busied themselves sorting out the various pieces of their chosen dress, preparing it for immediate wear once Periya finished with the corset.

Lux exhaled rather sharply, feeling tears prick at her eyes as she felt the corset cinch her ribcage and force some of the air out of her lungs. “Creation have mercy! If this is thought to be a ‘joy,’ then I’m utterly terrified to ask what one would consider a horror to be!”

“Ah, Lady Lux, when it comes to beauty, sometimes, sacrifices must be made.” Lakshmī spoke with a hint of glee in her voice. “Again, allow me to offer our mutual reassurance—we’re only working to make your many natural charms and loveliness a touch more apparent.” The quintet all nodded or hummed in agreement with Lakshmī as Periya completed lacing the corset, tying it tight and securely as Hotton had picked a bottle of scented oil and proceeded to apply something that smell a lot like roses to the pulse points on her wrists while Vangalu spritzed with a spray that smelled similar to the oil, yet was lighter all the while. Following, Nāgasāni approached her, clothing in hand.

The first to go on was the stockings which Vangalu lifted her leg and guided her foot into. At first contact against her skin the material felt every bit as exquisite as it looked. So soft was the fabric that it felt like cream against the skin and was nearly as weightless as the air, leaving no friction as it was slipped on. Hotton handled the other leg and the two of them capped it off by producing a pair of solid gold high heeled slippers for her feet. Then came the under skirt which Lakshmī laid on over top of the corset and allowed to drape down her belly, tickling her stomach with it's touch. Finally came the Bodice, which Nāgasāni raised over her head and slipped onto her, letting the train of it fall down her back in a gentle descent. There was a certain something to it--an odd, comforting warmth that Lux could feel but couldn't explain.

That finished, Hotton and Periya returned to the rolling wardrobe one last time. They returned with a large full body mirror and a set of golden jewellery; a necklace, a pair of bracelets, and a beaded hair pin. Each piece studded with sizable gemstones and dangling a small gold bell. Nāgasāni placed her hands on Lux’s shoulders in a comforting manner as Hotton held up the case to her inspection. “Consider these to be a personal gift from us. The final touch to a noble young princess of the earth’s attire.”

Having someone else dress her was a rather surreal experience overall, never once in her life had Lux ever had someone else dress her...nor did she ever wear a proper corset laced so horridly tight! She could barely breathe. Though Lux did not doubt the quintet’s capabilities or expertise when it came to such matters, but, a part of her was honestly afraid that she was going to end up woozy. She’d made a fool enough of herself already, the only way she could make it truly worse was if she managed to faint during the meeting with Fakharu. ....the clothing did indeed feel wonderful, though. Entirely different from anything she’d ever worn in her life, and still she didn’t feel like she belonged in them.

The clothing felt...she didn’t know how to describe it. Something in her felt soothed, she felt warm—comforted? Was that it?

Something about the sensation made tears well up in her eyes...while she gazed upon herself in the mirror the girls had brought out. She was speechless. Was that really...her? Lux didn’t even know that her hair could lay straight? Fiddling with her fingers, she stared at her own reflection, nervous, not knowing what to think. Nāgasāni wanted her to keep this ensemble as a gift? Something so exquisite? They’d just...let her have it? Clothing like this didn’t suit her, nothing so grand suited her. They were genuine though, even if they’d admitted to having some fun with her. The handmaidens seemed determined to make Lux see herself as more than average.

Lux felt her cheeks flush under the pigments and powders the girls had applied to her face. Accepting a gift of this caliber from anyone seemed so odd, so undeserved. She felt obligated to politely decline, say it was too much to just take when it wasn’t yet earned. However, as she had said before, at this point she was unable to refuse them.... Wringing her hands, standing quiet a moment, she contemplated.

“Ah...I, I really don’t know how to respond,” she spoke softly, “but...but, I do appreciate everything done for me, even if I feel so out of my element. I...do look....” Lux’s words drifted off.

Lakshmī gave Lux a smile, “You look beautiful, Lady Lux, though you are naturally so.”

The Dragon-Blooded let a strange noise out of her throat at Lakshmī’s words—her reaction made the gaggle of girls giggle. Lux was a fun one indeed, you could pay her the slightest compliment and she essentially shutdown. Perhaps they hadn’t quite convinced her of her own charms and beauty yet, but they’d seemed to somewhat sway her in the right direction. It was progress, at least.

“....th-thank you, for the makeover and the attire.” Lux’s voice was hesitant, and quiet.

Nāgasāni lightly squeezed Lux’s shoulders, reassuring her. “Think nothing of it; we enjoyed ourselves, and your company. Now, I do think that preparations are nearly complete for the meal, Lady Lux.”

Hotton gathered Lux’s well-worn traveling clothes in her arms, “Hmm, I do have to say that I am somewhat tempted to have this thrown out, such rags are unfit for one such as yourself....” Before Lux could protest to this though, the handmaiden let out a tiny chuckle at seeing her dismay. “Worry not; I wouldn’t do such a thing. However, I will see that this ensemble is properly washed and restored to proper condition whilst you speak with our Lord.”

With that the girls began tucking away their measuring equipment, packing the make up back up and folding left over clothes. Once finished they gave Lux a brief moment to collect herself emotionally, then brought down the folding curtain and with Nāgasāni still holding her by the shoulders they gently guided her back to the table; Each of them beaming proudly as they presented the dragon blooded like an artist debuting their latest work to the room at large.

Ashen Sky had been vaguely keeping an ear out for the group since he had thrown Lux to the metaphorical wolves. With his charm active it had been hard not to as the emotional mix of excitement, humor, and especially embarrassment had been a rather concentrated smell to his essence charged nose. When he caught sight of Lux being lead back in new apparel and makeup he smirked. The dragon blood had been easy on the eyes before but now a touch of aesthetic detail that truely put on display her natural allure. Still smirking he decided to have on last little laugh and let out a sharp cat call whistle to show his approval with the change.

A sharp and pronounced whine slipped from Lux as fought against reflexively squishing her face into her hands. He had to have known she was way beyond her comfort zone. So, he was purposefully trying to get a rise out of her...and, of course it worked. The handmaidens’ work was astounding and exceptional, but Ashen’s little wolf whistle just made her feel like crawling into the nearest hole and never coming out. Lux knew he was poking fun—she knew it but she still didn’t know how to respond. She never knew how to respond, and it honestly felt like she never would. Flustered, Lux fidgeted about, wringing her hands over each other, while she looked down at the floor, avoiding eye contact since she couldn’t resort to hiding her face in her hands—she’d ruin the cosmetics the quintet had worked so meticulously on, so looking away was the next best option. Lux felt the grip Nāgasāni had on her shoulders tighten, just a bit.

Though the quintet was still smiling cheerfully they each secretly gave Ashen a look and by the same nature of his active charm he could smell their sudden desire to remove his manhood with a rusty pair of scissors. He paled, coughed slightly and quickly revised his last statement. “Ay ah… Ahem. I mean ta say ye-you look rather lovely Lux.”

The sudden shift in Ashen’s demeanor toward her appearance caught Lux off guard, she knew that before he’d just been trying to get a rise from her...which he’d succeeded in doing so, but that last comment was rather unexpected, as far as she was concerned. Surprised, she looked up at him, blinking a few times before she nodded in response, uttering a timid, “Ah, thank you….”

He laughed, slightly nervously, and patted a place at the table. “Well why don’t you come join us then, now tha ye be finished.” He eyed the handmaidens briefly as he said this, and they seemed mostly placated for the moment. Nodding approvingly, they made a final bow to Lux, and then another towards the group as a whole. “Lady Lux, thank you for your time. We will take our leave now. Everyone please enjoy your meal. Call for us if any of you have need of anything.” With those final parting words from Nāgasāni the quintet gathered their things and exited the room, leaving their guest alone with the water dragon.

Lux bade farewell to the handmaidens as they exited the room, Hotton had her clothes in tow...:Lux did hope that she would see them again, though Hotton had promised she would have them cleaned and mended, then returned to her, there was still a small amount of worry. With a sigh, Lux paced over toward the long table, taking heed of Ashen’s invitation. She still felt rather out of her element, and uncomfortable with her appearance, but there more important matters to attend to. Like hearing how Fakharu. So, Lux seated herself in an empty chair and waited quietly...though she found her eyes again drawn to the emerald statue that stood in the center of the room.

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

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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!"