Exalted: A Tale in the Time of Tumult

The West

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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.

9 Characters Here

Astrid Grünewald [85] "Only a fool defies the Nightfangs, only the wicked deserve their wrath."
Lux Fiala [80] Life can change in an instant, whether for better or worse; don't let it break you!
Ashen Sky [78] "Clever is the predator that stalks it's prey. More clever is the hunter that bait's his predator."
Calliope Lordes [78] Know thy self, know thy enemy. #FE6979
The Artisan That Which Souls Cling [56] "Your flesh is weak, but malleable... After the operation it shall be neither."
Ioa [41] The runner who keeps on running.
The Storyteller [5] Me, the GM. I will be taking a more hands on route in directing the role play and the npc inhabitants of this world.
Bolt [0] Gender: Male, Age: Dragonling(What I call for ‘Young’ or ‘Baby Dragon) Species: Dragon, Element: Lightning
cutiekittyYui [0] nice,fun,cute,helpful, but she is shy and she can be mean.

Start Character Here »


Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
Posting part 1 of the big collab, next parts to follow


The sounds of a scuffle caught Astrid's ears, the groan of metal on metal coming from above her drew attention, and only a few moments later Calliope fell over the edge of the balcony railing. The smell of blood was in the air, and Calliope's bloody robes confirmed it was hers. Their bout wasn't over however and the man tried to make a move, before being squarely punched in the face. Seeming to notice their presence after successfully subduing the man, Astrid waved lazily after hearing her name called. "Hiiiii 'Allliii! Wash thish man gibbing you truble? Ya want, I should exshecute 'im?"

The quizzical and faint call of her name caught Lux’s attention, as smashed as she was, she was still cognitive enough to comprehend the fading consciousness that accompanied her name. With Astrid still holding onto her as if she were a sack of potatoes, Lux’s ditzy smile faded as her foggy mind struggled to piece together who said her name, and from where they’d said it...she knew the voice. Dumbly blinking a few times, the Terrestrial glanced to and fro. That was...Calliope? The pretty pink princess from Gladommm? She sounded...not good.

Craning her head as far as was humanly possible for her to do; Lux set her eyes on a sight that very nearly sent her spiraling back into sobriety instantaneously. Calliope collapsing, clutching onto her stomach as the grip upon her sword loosened, and it fell to the ground with a loud metallic clatter before another...pink person? Who was...ascending to his feet and reaching for Calliope’s sword? Oh, no!

With no words to Astrid, Lux wriggled her way free of the Lunar’s tight grip, landing on her hands and knees before she scrambled up onto her feet. Earnestness drove Lux straight into a dead sprint, and though she was nowhere as fast as Astrid, there was no denying the little Dragon-Blooded moved with purpose. The rose-skinned man who stood above Calliope, brandishing her sword, merely stared at her agape, apparently too dumbfounded to react as Lux moved in on him. Stunned and betrayed by his reflexes, the man beheld the terrifying sight of one, very small woman coming at him in full tilt.

Still somewhere between clear-headedness and inebriation, Lux shouted at the top of her lungs, “Get t’Hell awaaay fr'm our pr’tty pink priiiincess!” before she came to dead stop right before him, and swung her leg upward...hitting a rather...sensitive spot right between the man’s own legs with all the force she could muster.... A strained groan came from the man as his pink complexion paled, and he lost his grip on the sword and it clattered to the ground again. He swayed upon his feet, and could manage no words before he fell backward and hit the ground with a hard thud.

Where he laid, the stranger now guarded his face, assuming a fetal position in order to brace himself for any further attacks. Calliope, on the other hand, struggled to keep her eyes open. The room was spinning. She moaned, fading in and out of consciousness.

With inhuman speed, Astrid darted to the man before he could regain his senses, picking him up by the throat and holding him off the ground. The pink stranger yelped in terror at the sheer strength of the Lunar. "Shheee now w-why why ya gosh ta be bullyin' the perdy pink prinshess!? Ish not nishe, and I do not approve!" Shaking the man to emphasize her point, she tightened her grip to the point where he couldn't breathe then dropped him quite unceremoniously on his butt.

Glaring at the man, Lux stuck her tongue out at him in a rather childish manner before she knelt down next to Calliope, shushing in a soothing manning her as she moaned. [color=red]“S’gonna be ‘kay, promise, s’gonna b’okay....”
she said softly as she gently lifted the Solar’s bloodied hand from her stomach to get a look at the wound...as carefully as she could manage in her half-drunk state, the Dragon-Blooded pulled at the rip in her dress as much as she could without further damaging the clothing, and squinted, as she took to examining what she could. It was shallow, at least, though still bleeding a bit. It didn’t look to be bad enough to cause Calliope to be on the cusp of fainting though. Perhaps she’d hit her head...?

"How'she lookin' Lux?"

“’Tomach’s not bad, but I thin’ she hit h’head.” she answered.

He fell like a rag doll, gasping for breathe. "Who ARE you?!" He demanded, through his pitiful gasps. "Please! Leave me alone! I don't want anymore trouble!" There was a panic in his voice, and his eyes darted around, looking for any which way he could escape. Admittedly, he could still feel the Terrestrial's heel in a not so nice place. Astrid grinned and struck a triumphant pose. "I am Luna'sh wraf made 'uman. I am Nightffaang. I am the cat when yer tha mouse. I am become deaf." He began a quick crawl. "And I do sho luff it when they run. Go on lozer. Jusht try me."

Before the man could gain any distance, Lux huffed and tore off one of her heavy, gold-plated shoes, and lobbed it at him as hard as she could...hitting him square in the back of his head. “Don't matter whooooo...I am, you's...an idiot!”

He let out an indignant cry, falling on his face once more. He turned himself around, on his back, so that he was now facing the two threatening women. He reached into his muddied boot for a hidden knife, and in a smooth throw he aimed for Astrid's side, missing by a foot or so. Lux started at the knife as it sailed past, and couldn't contain her snort at the pathetic display.

He continued to crawl backwards desperately. "Please don't kill me! Please don't kill me!"

Calliope stirred, attempting to prop herself up on her elbows. All the commotion drew her attention, and she struggled to get a view of what was happening. All she saw were Astrid's two long muscular legs, and the partial bust of the royal blooded man, attempting to escape the drunk wrath of Calliope's new companions. "I ag- I agree with the pitiful cre-eature," Calliope groaned. "His life belongs to the royal fammmm...fammmily." She collapsed again, but she was already feeling marginally better.

"What she said!" The stranger plead. "It- ah, it would only be right if she killed me. L-lady Calliope!" He was internally kicking himself for assaulting a princess. What the hell was he thinking?

"Tch... Ffiine he livesh." Not wanting to wait, for fear they might further change their opinion, Astrid angrily walked over to the man. Raising a foot straight into the air until she was doing a standing split, and bringing it down full force onto the man's head. "Wash gone play cat'n'moushe wif 'em. Perdy pink prinshesh hash all tha fun."

Turning her attention back to the princess and away from the pathetic excuse that donned the skin of a man, Lux moved herself into a proper seated position. “S’okay, gotta b’easy, think y’hit your head....”

Grabbing the scruff of the man's neck, Astrid made her way back over to Lux and Calliope, leaving the man laying in a heap next to them. Kneeling down next to them, she turned to Lux and whispered, rather loudly, to her. "Did she shay if she lubs er perdy dreshes?"

Lux shook her head in response to Astrid’s inquiry. “Ha...haven’t asked.”

Before he could make any further pleas, the stranger was out cold, on his face, with his rear end rather uncomfortably up in the air. The princess groaned. "Is he dead?" Calliope asked gruffly, from her comfortable position on her back.

Stealing a minute glance at the sorry sod, Lux confirmed his status. “S’not dead, still breathin’, ‘Alli...ope....” Lux hiccupped as she tried to say the Solar’s name. Gathering whatever few wits she had, Lux tried to speak as gently as she could manage in her state, “I thin’ y’hit yooour head, need t’be car’ful....” She stole a glance at the Solar’s stomach again, and noticed that the wound seemed to have clotted. [color=red]“Should get ba...band’ges f’that...then y’can tell us what y’think of our f’ncy clothes!”

Nodding vigorously and brandishing a big goofy grin, Astrid agreed with Lux. "Thuh lubberly Mish Lux ish cerrect! I got a perdy dresh! Now Lux ish muh twinshy! I'd wrip uh sleeve awf tuh dress ya... but... Perdy dresh." After a few seconds of having a nearly blank mind, Astrid realized Calliope's robe was all but ruined currently. "Mebe, Lux can use yer bloody robe ta manage a.... um... wrap!"

Calliope attempted to sit up again, but stuggled to do so, as if some otherworldly force was pressing down upon her chest. She winced, but beared the pain. But once she had managed to sit up fully, she rested her veering gaze on her two companions.

"Oh," she said, in a rather monotoned voice. "You have channged. It looks..." she chose her words carefully, while her eyes still attempted to roll back into her eye-sockets. "Adequate. I mmean- uh, nnnnnnice. Does the mmaterial stretch well for commmbat purposes?" She inquired, debating whether or not she wanted a change as well. Calliope looked down at her robes, and half-heartedly poked at the new hole in them.

The grin on the Lunar's face faded slightly at the Solar's answer, and hearing enquiries about its efficacy in battle caused the smile to vanish. She always had to think about clothing's battle potential, and that was not what made this outfit so special. "Ish perdy dresh, ish not supposhed ta be combat perpush. Ish shupposhed ta be perdy."

A big smile broke out over Lux’s face, mind too fuzzy to process the beginning bit of Calliope’s comment, “They are ‘eally nice! Comfy, too.... D’know about c-combaaat pu...purrposes’s ‘hough.” She did notice though that the princess was fiddling with the blood-soaked tear in her robes, “D’worry ‘bout that rip, M’sure the handmaaaidens’ll fix y’up wit' some fancy cl'thes!”

The pink man began snoring abruptly. He was still lying directly on his face, dribble rolling down his chin. "Annd where is all this alcohol you have clearly consumed? I amm goinng to nneed it." That question brought a smile back to Astrid's face, they would indeed need more drink for the long journey. In her haze, that thought had escaped her, how embarassing considering how simple a notion it was.

The Dragon-Blooded turned her gaze onto the unconscious man, and peered at him with irritation on her face. He’d hurt their pretty pink princess and now he had the gall to start snoring and drooling right near her! Annoying, he was annoying.... She puffed her cheeks out in a manner that rather resembled a squirrel, contemplating giving the man another well-aimed kick. As tempting as that was, though, Lux decided it was not worth her time, “‘Strid an’I got the al-alcohol while we’s were bondin’ w’the handmaid’ns!” Lux moved herself to her knees, swaying just a bit from her woozy state. “L...let’s g’get that cut cleeeeaned, at least-st! I can d’that, know how, have ‘perience....” she trailed off, “Theeen, n’clothes!”

Calliope cringed at the thought of being cleaned and dressed. It was not custom for Gladomain royalty to be served, not to mention the years of combat and reflex training could easily end in tears for the first machination that laid a finger on her. The Noble could almost imagine herself, reacting impulsively to the touch of one of the poor handmaidens, and taking her arm off as a consequence. She wouldn't know what hit her.

Calliope began shaking her head anxiously. "I'mm afraid that wonn't be nnecessary! A banndage will suffice," she insisted.

But, but...pretty dresses...and bonding....

Lux couldn’t help the pout on her face, but if Calliope didn’t want to.... There was no making her. She sighed, rather disappointed, “‘Kay then, just...ban’age a-and make sure y'head's 'kay, let’ssss do ‘hat, then....”[/color] Lux, woozily got up to her feet, and stood quiet for a second, trying to figure out why something felt awkward...before she looked down and realized she was only wearing one shoe. “Oop, need...need m'shoe f'st....” she mumbled, remembering that she'd lobbed it at the man earlier, Lux looked around, til she found it laying on the ground a few feet away. She clumsily hobbled over, picked it up and put it back on, almost falling over as she did so.

Narrowing her eyes at Calliope, Astrid put a hand on either of the Solar's shoulders. "Whaa? No, no, no. Yer clothez er very ruinet! Ish unaceppting. Nagashani will bring ya shome er.. uh... new clothez! No butzz! We'zsave the baf fer later!" Finishing the sentence, she began to stroke the pink girl's cheek with her right hand, mumbling something about, "Perdy perty princshesh alrerdy baffed, shmell it on her shkin."

"Oh dear, you are innnndeed soused," Calliope sighed, laying a compassionate hand on Astrid's. Calliope couldn't imagine how long she'd wandered the halls before the wild encounter with one of her own kind. And though she regretted her decision to topple right over the edge of the balcony, she was glad she had at last crossed paths with familiar faces, as drunken as they were. They were... starting to grow on her.

She looked straight up at the balcony from which she fell, wondering if it was a good thing how easily she was able to just throw herself off heights, but then, she wouldn't be Calliope if she wasn't a little reckless. They were all a little reckless, she recognized. Maybe aside from the mysterious Artisan, who seemed to throw himself at the feet of anyone, given it would benefit him to be in their good fortune. She knew not Lux's temperment, but it was clear she was more...clumsy than reckless. Calliope felt in good hands, with Astrid's hand on her cheek. She felt something different for these individuals than she had for anyone back in her village. But the word for this relationship she could not think of.

A thought occurred to her. "Oh! I bear glad tidinngs!" She reached awkwardly for the food bag strapped onto her back. "I helped mmmyself to somme snnacks!" Calliope offered the bag to her colleagues, just as the pink man stirred.

After Lux managed to slip her shoe back on without falling flat onto her backside, she found herself in yet another daze, her mind blanking for a moment as she stared off into the sky with a dull look on her face. She swayed a on her feet before shaking herself off her stupor at the announcement and offer of snacks...hopefully, there were sweets! “Snaaacks ‘ound yummy....” she mumbled, wandering back over to Calliope, Astrid and the pathetic peon who...was, of course, beginning to rouse, ruining Lux’s pleasant mood.

Astrid didn't like being brushed off when it came to her pretty dress suggestion, surely Calliope should join them in being pretty. She also didn't appreciate the comment about being drunk, they all had access to drinks with their meal and it wasn't her fault Calliope didn't indulge. Taking a few crab legs out of the bag that had been offered, the Lunar chieftain began to plot a way to force the Solar's wardrobe change.

"Where am I?" He muttered, rolling onto his back and falling back asleep. Calliope wasn't the only one with a bit of brain damage.

The man started snoring and snorting again...what a piece of work. That he could forget that he assaulted Calliope like that—even if he was hit in the head with a shoe and kicked by Astrid, there was no excuse, Lux felt an odd urge to hiss at the man much like a cat...so, she did, not even remembering that Astrid had earlier assumed the form of a housecat. The small girl's hiss drew Astrid's attention, briefly distracting her from her plotting, and eliciting a surprised, "Mew?" Popping a piece of meat into her mouth, she briefly wondered if the girl could speak cat, maybe commune with other animals.

"Does he have annny idenntificationn?" Calliope asked, gracelessly finding her way to her feet.

There was something stately about the man's appearance. His clothes were practical, but made of strong material. His well-kept shock of flowing white hair was distinctive, similar to Calliope herself, but westernized just enough that he seemed foreign. He had nice leather shoes with shining brass buckles, and a set of traveler's trousers, paired with an aristocratic frock.

Calliope picked her sword up off the ground, and pointed it at the man's face. "Search him."

Lux made no motions toward the idiot for a moment and merely leered at him, her lips pursed. Not really even wanting to touch him, Lux instead moved her foot out, and poked his ribs a few times with the tip of her shoes. At this point, Lux was feeling relatively sure that he wasn’t a threat anymore, just a nuisance and a nimrod. “Y’okay, gonna...do that.” Lux somewhat reluctantly obliged, kneeling over, “Goin’ guess, t'is a’distant...rel’tive?” she idly asked, as she knelt over and started to aimlessly poke at the pink man’s clothes, reaching into any stray pocket she found, finding little more than miscellanea, including what looked like several random pieces of a...jigsaw puzzle? What?

"Distannnt relative?" Calliope wondered. "I have nnno relatives outside of mmy mmother lannd!" The princess utilized the tip of her sword to open up his coat, exposing what appeared to be yellow embroidery. "What does it say?" She asked insistently.

The unconscious man was no longer of interest to Astrid, he was unconscious and therefore unable to run or fight, which meant he was effectively invisible to her currently. Gaze locked onto Calliope, she barely understand the girl's command to search the whelp. As Lux made her way towards the man, Astrid advanced a bit of a ways behind her, as if to follow Calliope's orders. However when within range of Calliope, she reached out towards the girl, placing a hand on either shoulder, and ripping the sleeves off her robe, while screaming out, "Peerdy Dreeeesssssshhhhhh," as if it were a battle-cry.

Before Lux was able to manage out an answer, she found herself rather distracted by the sound of tearing fabric, which caused her to turn her gaze back toward both Astrid and Calliope. A hiccup came from the inebriated Terrestrial, and she giggled a bit. Silly Astrid....

"Astrid!!" Calliope cried in annoyance. [color=#FE6979]"What has possessed you?!"
Calliope ripped the robe sleeve out of the chieftain's hand, indignantly throwing her arms down at her sides like a child throwing a fit. As if suddenly incapable of complex sentences Astrid, with wild eyes locked onto Calliope, she simply grunted out "You! Perdy dresh! Like meh!" Hooking her thumb back to point at herself while standing with the other hand on her hip, the Lunar eyed the princess, obstinate about getting the Solar to join the club of pretty dresses. Ready to continue her onslaught should the need arise, she swayed slightly while waiting for Calliope to acquiesce.

Lux did have to admit that she did like the idea of Calliope getting a pretty dress too—she and Astrid both already had one! Getting up to her feet, the little Dragon-Blooded bounced excitedly onto the tips of her toes at the prospect of the three of them matching, it’d be so much fun~ “Pr’tty dress, pr’etty dreeeess....” she quietly cheered in a rather giddy manner.

Calliope growled, her gaze flickering between the dumbfounding Astrid and the man in question. She thought and schemed of some plan to get her way, but there seemed to be but one option... and she wasn't going to like it. There was no use arguing with the Lunar, as psychotic as she was. Astrid was clearly her match in strength and dexterity, maybe even while inebriated.

"If you aid mme, I will," she sighed in frustration, closing her eyes and furrowing her brow. "I will do the pretty dress. Now what does that say?" Calliope kept her blade at the man's throat.

Lux squealed in delight as Calliope agreed. However, though, the subject of the embroidery had all been forgotten by Lux, her thought process still rather simplistic, the clarity she’d acquired before had all but faded. The Solar’s inquiry fell on deaf ears as Lux clapped her hands together in delight.

With a wild grin, Astrid half picked up and half tackled Calliope, holding her up and spinning with her while gracelessly giggling and laughing. "Yezsh!" Having to shift back into her Beastman form might have very well sobered her up, perish the thought! Throwing Calliope slightly into the air, she caught her again with a bearhug around her waist, and buried her face into the girl's stomach, rubbing her face against it like a cat marking family. "We'z all gerna be sho perdy! Shzave tha day! Sho Kawaii!" (Kawaii presumably being a High Realm word for cute which wouldn't register on anyone who didn't speak High Realm due to Fakharu's translation magic)

“Ka...kawaiiiiiii! Goin’ be so...k’waii~” Lux mimicked Astrid, tipping herself to and fro as she hummed a nonsensical little tune.

"I ish gone ta waatch the prizoner!" Setting Calliope down as gently as could be managed in her inebriated state, she stalked over to the unconscious man and grabbed him by his hair, beginning to set off in the direction of Nagasani, dragging the poor soul behind her. At least, where she had last seen the entourage. The man moaned in pain, but aside from that, he hardly stirred.

Calliope followed Astrid reluctantly, but with her captive in the hands of the Lunar, she had no other choice.

Lux followed along, happily humming to herself—she was so excited!

Spoiler: show
Charms Active: Blood on the Wind Peripheral Pool: 22/28 Willpower: 7/8

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
Posting part 2 of the big collab, more to follow


Excitedly, Astrid hurried along the route, back-tracking her steps. There was a brief moment where she was lost as to the way to the balcony she jumped off of. However before long she managed to find the balcony, confirming it by looking down to the courtyard and confirming she had landed in it. From there it was a simple matter of backtracking her steps, which she positively couldn't do in her current condition.

Flustered and unwilling to admit she was a tad lost, she activated one of her charms, anima glittering slightly in the air, and began to follow the scent back to Nagasani's location. There, she found the group of girls cleaning up the mess that Astrid had made by being unnecessarily boisterous in the bath. "Ish 'er 'Eiress Princhesh Calliiiope! She needz a new clofes! Maybe mend 'er robe alsho, she 'ad a mishaap." The last word caused her to burst into a fit of giggles, dropping the strange pink man to cover her mouth and clear her throat. She certainly wasnt laughing about tearing Calliope's robes off, just had something caught in her throat, obviously.

Nagasani and the rest of the quintet looked up, slightly surprised at Astrid's sudden return. "Well I see..." The orichalcum maiden put her hand on her hips and examined the disjointed gaggle infront of her and the state they were all in, and she haggered a guess what the cause 'misshap' that happened to the princesses kimono was. The unconscious man in Astrid's grip was... something. That was a question that she wasn't sure she was going to like the answer of, but that could be put off until everyone was settled back down again. "I suppose explanations can wait till later. Would you mind leaving your new..." She struggled to find the word for the comatose man."Aquaintance over in the corner there?"

With a nod, Astrid hurled the man across the room, landing him in a slump near the back corner of the room. "Ish always time fer explanin! Thish 'er weird guy attacked tha Prinshesh and sho I kicked 'im in tha fashe! Nodding triumphantly, she finished off lamely, and not even slightly believably, "And 'er clothes musta got all tored up in tha scuffle!" A hint of mirth crept its way back into her voice as she dusted off her hands, as if the entire matter had been settled. "An' now we're 'ere!"

A snort came out of her as the man sailed across the room and landed without so much as stirring,“Hiiiii ev’ryone! We...w'back!” Lux waved, leaving the notion of explaining the situation to Astrid, since she seemed so keen on doing so. “L’Astrid said...Call’ope ne...neeeeds a pr’tty dress too!”

Calliope stood uncomfortably at Astrid's side, she still felt a little woozy. Not even the man being launched across the room drew her attention. She was too busy reminding herself of how much she disliked the situation she was in, but it was clear, she was not in the position to fight Astrid's vision.

"Ah... did he now..." Nagasani felt the edge of her lips twitch a little as she tried to keep a pleasant grin. Lord Fakharu would not be pleased when he learned of this. She pressed on though, deciding to leave that matter till later. "Well then if that is the situation then I suppose we can find something to replace her highness' garb." She eyeballed Calliope for a second, trying to picture a few items that might go well on her. "Princess, if you wouldn't mind disrobing for us we will take your measurements and get started." Wordlessly Periya and Vengalu stepped forward to assist in the removal of her belongings whilst Hotton and Lakshmi began setting up their workstation once more. The Princess hesitated, before nodding, and beginning to unequip her weapons, one by one.

Lux remained on her feet, standing as the handmaidens resumed their stations. Calliope seemed anxious about all this...was she maybe afraid she wasn’t going to look pretty too? If that was the case, then that was nonsense! The princess was really pretty...and she was pink! She could make garbage look nice by merit of it being in her presence. “S’gonna be okay! Han...haaaandma...t’girls are goin’ fix y’up nice!” she reassured the Solar.

Tittering quietly to herself, Astrid unceremoniously collapsed to the ground, landing on her butt and began to eagerly await Calliope's new clothes. Soon the trio would be all in beautiful new attire and ready to set out together on their quest to save Amarel. If there were three things the Lunar loved most in the world, it was a good drink, looking good, and a good fight. This quest had already provided two of these things, and she had a feeling it would soon provide the third.

Daydreams began to float through her head, of the epic quest to come, and after that of a potential alliance between Calliope's kingdom and Astrid's tribe. Perhaps the Lux girl could also become family. Things were going better than Astrid had dared hope, and for now she was content to sit and wait.

Possibly the most visible weapon on Calliope was the long ōdachi on her back. She set it down carefully on one of the work stations, clearly disrupting the work of Hotton. She removed her shorter Katana, and another of a similar size, then a dagger she had strapped to her leg... and another she had in her robes... and... The total number of weapons came to about 13. Vengalu and Peryia at first were largely nonpulsed as they collected the weapons the Dawn caste removed from her person, but by the time the disarmed armaments reached the double digits even their professonal facades started to crack a bit as they struggled to find open places to set them aside.

“Wooooow...lots of swords....” Lux mumbled, amazed that the princess had so many on her person. Honestly, Lux wouldn’t have ever been able to guess that she had so many on her, or that anyone could have that many on them, period.

Calliope patted herself down to see if there were any other melee weapons she had forgotten about. Lastly, she removed her weapons bag and dropped it. It hit the ground with a echoing 'thunk.' After all of this, she did not hesitate to remove her robes in front of Astrid, Lux, the maidens, and the unconscious man, who now lay awkwardly in the corner of the work space. Calliope gave Astrid a small pat on the head.

Vengalu quietly took the robe off the princess and neatly began folding it. Peryia stepped forward with a new line of measuring strings. "If your highness would extend her arms to her sides I... will..." She trailed off as she got a better look at Calliope's undressed state. Specifically her eyes fell on the stab wound at abdomen. Though the exalts natural healing had clotted over the cut by this point there was still spatterings of drying blood on her belly. Unused to seeing signs of violence, Periya dropped her tools and put her hands to her mouth to muffle her gasp while her widening eyes looked up at the princess's face and finally spotted the head wound that had been covered by her bangs. The princess cocked her head at first sight of Periya's evident distress. Calliope followed the handmaiden's line of sight to the gash on her stomach.

"What?" She demanded, watching the scene unfold before her. "This? It's nnothing more than a scratch." She said, gesturing to her wound.

The sound of measuring tools clattering to the floor drew Vengalu's attention, who became equally as shocked. Their hesitation in turn alerted Nagasani and the rest of the quintet and when they too saw the wound the collective look of appallment spread through them. Vengalu and Nagasani were first to recover, the soulsteel maiden snatching up a rag, wetting it and then diving down to clean the injury on her belly while Nagasani turned to the other two exalts. "Did... was this caused by that man in the cornor there?" Her voice shook a slight bit as she asked.

Once again in a daze, Lux found herself drawn from it at the question. A genuine look of confusion passed over her face, til she saw Vengalu dabbing at the wound on Calliope’s stomach. She’d...actually forgotten about that in her excitement over the prospect of the princess getting a pretty dress too. She’d meant to clean and bandage it herself, she offered to. Even if Vengalu had begun the task, she’d finish it. As drunk as she still was, she was coherent enough to see that the handmaidens were all disturbed by the sight of blood, and that was understandable, Lux could surmise that such a sight was uncommon for them. Blood didn’t bother her, it was something to which she was accustom, given the life she’d led.

Shocked by the feeling of foreign hands, Calliope squirmed when Vengalu began cleaning her new addition to her impressive set of scars. While the rag was warm, Vengalu's trembling hands were cold, and with each dab, Calliope had the urge to grab the poor woman by the wrist and turn her away. It was more than a figure of speech to say the Noble felt naked. The daylight accentuated the jigsaw puzzle of tattoos that swept across her back.

Lux took a step forward, toward Calliope and Vengalu, swaying just a bit as she answered, rambling a bit. “Yeeeep, t’was him. Kicked ‘em really good f’it, tho’. D...don’t thin’ he’ll b’having kids a’ytime soooooon....” Lux continued til she was next to Vengalu and before Calliope, not even fazed by the fact that the princess had disrobed, without a word, she bent over a bit, next to the Soulsteel handmaiden and observed her for a moment. Though she was working with purpose, Lux could see clear as crystal that her hands were trembling, and that her complexion was somewhat pallor.

A soothing shush came from the Dragon-Blooded as she gently set a hand upon Vengalu’s shoulder, which seemed to lightly startle the girl, as her form tensed at the touch. Curiously and questioningly, she looked at Lux, seeming to not even realize she was there in the first place. “Lady Lux...?”

Lux just gave her a calm smile, and reach her other hand out for the soiled washcloth. “Lemme do thiiiis...can tell th’it’s makin’ y’queasy....” Without argument, Vengalu handed the cloth to Lux, who merely gave a nod to the handmaiden as she stood to her feet.

"Thank you, Lady Lux."

"'Course, s'no prob'em!" And without any hesitation, Lux took to gently dabbing at the wound. Calliope was visibly relieved to be treated by someone more familiar. Lux's touch was far more bearable, the Princess' previously militant posture relaxed to...slightly less militant.

Still in her daydreams, suddenly Astrid noticed that Lux was ahead of her and saying something to the quintet. Ignorant of their reactions, but not wanting to be left out of anything that may ensue, Astrid began to crawl after Lux on her hands and feet. Upon reaching her, she became vaguely aware of Lux trying to communicate, but between her own foggy mind, Lux's slurring of words, and the fact she was still daydreaming she simply couldn't make sense of it.

Instead, she contented herself by hugging Lux's nearby thigh and rubbing her face up and down against it, eyes closed, quietly humming to herself. Both Vengalu and Lux found themselves distracted, as both of them turned their attention to Astrid. Every so often she'd sing to herself, "Sawfty wawfty leg. Widdle Lux'sh leg." Repeating the two phrases for a time, after a few moments she brushed her face against a thigh bone, stopping to look at what she'd been rubbing against, she had a realization. Lux couldn't help but laugh a bit at Astrid's actions."Mish Luuuxxx! Ya don' wear underoos?!" Before Lux had time to process what Astrid had said, she clapped a hand against the girl's rear, with a light smack, to emphasize her point.

Though the slap delivered to her hindquarters might have been light by Astrid’s drunken standards, it carried enough force to sting a bit, which caused Lux to squeak and jerk back upright to her full height, knocking Calliope into a backward stumble. Stunned, Lux merely stared into the air for a few seconds wholly befuddled, as she tried to process what Astrid had just brought to her attention. Was she really not...? “Thaaat’s n’normal f’me, y’sure I’m....” Lux wiggled one of her legs about a bit, confirming her situation, “Huh, g-guesssss m’not! Oh ‘ell!”[color]

Lux haphazardly shrugged, not caring in the least about her predicament as things were. [color=red]“Fix it l’ter, f’now! Our pretty p’nk princeeeess n’her cut cleaned....”


Calliope snorted at the phrase 'pretty pink princess'. She stood a little taller after that. The pretty pink princess examined her hands and what view she had of herself. Was she ...'pretty'? What is 'pretty'? She understood it had some kind of relation to beauty, but she didn't fully understand the concept of beauty in the first place. She felt a boost of confidence and a wave of insecurity all at the same time.

Even with Astrid still awkwardly clinging to her leg, Lux went back to her self-assigned task, wiping away the dried and sticky blood from Calliope’s skin, humming a nonsensical tune to herself.

Astrid's drunken antic's brought some much needed levity back to the situation and the quintet let out a series of giggles at her and Lux's actions. Periya put her hands on Astrid's shoulders and gently tugged a bit in an effort to get her head out from under Lux's skirt. "Come now Lady Astrid, you may inspect Lady Lux's virtue later." The other girls were all smiles again, though Nagasani did spare another glance at the comatose man in the corner. The incident would have to be reported to the Censor rather soon, and though she was uncomfortable with the ruffian actions against their guest the fact that he was unconscious and that they had three, two of them currently drunk not withstanding, exalts to keep him restrained should he reawaken was probably the only thing keeping her from sending a runner for the guards. As it was she decided to leave the matter for now, but she was definitely going to inform the Dragon about the man's actions against his guest once the current makeover was complete.

Feeling a light tug on her shoulder, caused Astrid to stop rubbing her face against the oh so soft Terrestrial for a moment to inspect who was touching her. The girl's words were heard but not heeded, being quickly dismissed with a rather blunt, "S'not why am down here. Already got'n a full gander when I had ta scrub 'er down." It wasn't the Lunar's fault that the girl was currently taller than her, and standing up seemed so unnecessary when she had just sat down. Besides, in their spare time, Astrid saw no reason why she shouldn't content herself with petting a soft little creature, especially since the creature seemed so nonchalant about it.

Lux gave a pat to the top of Astrid's head, doing so as best as she could given their current positions. The Lunar wasn't bothering her in the least...but what did she get a gander of earlier? And what even happened earlier? When was she scrubbed down...? Eh, those were musings for later!

'Speaking of makeovers' Nagasani thought as she looked over the princess. She had to admit, while Lux and Astrid had provided their own unique if fun challenges Calliope was going to be a different ball game. Looking her bare form up and down she concluded that the woman was franky, visually perfect. A strong atlhetic build from a lifetime of physical training, a shapely body, long white soft hair, and a unique pink skin tone that added an exotic look to the woman. Building on that perfection was frankly going to be the difficult part, as they would need something to complement her natural beauty without clashing against her unique skin and hair colors. It was also not lost on her that the princess seemed to fidget strongly at simple touch. Looking over at the other two exalts (and pointedly ignoring their current compromising position) for inspiration two small idea's filled her head that could deal with both issues.

"Hmm, since she is rather pink already... and the other two have been given a bit of gold... would make sense on a solar..." Muttering to herself she walked over to where Periya was currently trying to dislodge the Lunar exalt from the dragon blooded's thighs. Tapping on Astrid's shoulder she leaned down to ask. "Lady Astrid, since you seem to be rather bored and Lady Lux has already volunteered to tend to the princess's wounds, would you be willing to assist us with her majesty's measurements?" She had noticed that Calliope had relaxed somewhat at Lux's touch, and going by that evidence it could be guessed that she'd be a tad more comfortable with her fellow exalts tending to her.

Measurements?! Calliope thought. "Inn mmyyy culture, clothes are mmm-mmmeant to be wornn! Not mmeasured! They billow for warmmth! And we used cords annnd belts to do the mmmeasuring for us!" She sputtered, putting her balled up hands on her hips. She readjusted to throw one hand down at her side, in a defiant, childlike gesture, but she assessed that it would be even more uncomfortable, and her hand found its way back to her hip. While Calliope was alarmed by all suggestions concerning her outfiting, she was once again, relieved to be in the care of her colleagues.

Hearing Nagasani's request caused Astrid to shoot up to her feet, neatly sailing through the air in a somersault and landing slightly behind Calliope. The poor Solar had barely caught sight of Astrid before suddenly she was at Calliope's side. Normally she would have stuck the landing, but her intoxication cause her legs to buckle slightly, almost falling back to her butt. Calliope caught her by the arm, but Astrid recovered assuredly, clearly without any need of the Princess' help.

Astrid lazily stretched her arms, like a lioness might before after awakening from a nap. "Yeaahh I cin 'elp wif measurin tha fair batt'l ang'l." Walking around Calliope, paying close attention to her features, she laid her right hand on the Solar. Running a finger down her shoulder and outlining her shoulder blades rather clumsily, she mumbled to herself, "Whippy mushcle, shlender build, but pawerful." Squatting by Calliope's leg, poking her calf, Astrid admitted, "I uhh... Wot er mea-shure-meants?" A yelp escaped the Princess' lips in protest, jumping at the slightest touch. Cleaning a wound was one thing, but Astrid's unsolicited touch was entirely different. Another small giggle escaped Nagasani at the display, Lux couldn't help the small laugh that slipped from her throat as well. She'd had her measurements taken earlier too....the handmaidens were going to have all of their measurements now! That would make it easier for them all to get new dresses in the future, wouldn't it?

"Well," Nagasani started, "when you get someone's measurements what you are doing is determining the size and shape of various parts of their body. We'll start by having you take hold of her." At her side Vengalu picked up the sets of string and measuring tools she had dropped earlier. She was about give a demonstration but Lakshmi stopped her, wanting to see how Astrid interpreted those instructions.

Astrid nodded as Nagasani instructed her in the proper way to take one's measurements. Stepping up behind Calliope, she put one arm around her waist and the other slightly below her bosom, ensuring Lux had full view of the wound on her midsection.

A wave of chills overcame Calliope, as she was now fully groped by the intoxicated Lunar. The smell of alcohol in Astrid's breath was far more apparent what with how close they were now. "I'm certainnn this is unnnnecesary!" Calliope cried. "H'okay, am 'avin uh hold uh her. Wut am do now?" Certainly the civilized world had some odd traditions, and this hadn't occurred during her outfit change. Perhaps it was due to Calliope's royalty? Royals had oh so many odd rituals. Rituals that Lunars simply didn't have the luxury, or want to pursue. Shrugging off her thoughts, she awaited further instructions.

Lux adjusted her posture now that her leg and hip was now free of one very clingy Lunar, and knelt down, dipping the washcloth in a nearby bucket of soapy water. Now came a part that Calliope was certainly not going to enjoy—disinfecting the cut. Whether the woman was an Exalted or not, it would do no good just cleaning around the injury if she left it gross and with Creation knew what might be festering in there.

Vengalu maintained a neutral expression, however that was constrasted by Lakshmi who was trying not top snicker. The redheaded moonsilver maiden elbowed her sister in the side and Vengalu sighed and gave Lakshmi the measuring string she had been holding. "Now you take this, wrap it around her and call out her size." The string had a series of red lines painted on it, meant to act as markers for the length of centimeters one could measure by. Lakshmi took it and held it out for the Lunar whislt Vengalu acquired another set.

No one ever liked having their cuts cleaned, it always was unpleasant. But, Lux had this nagging feeling in the back of her foggy mind that Calliope would do well with a warning before she got around to doing that, “Pr’tty prin’ess, g’warn you now, goin’ to b’cleeeaning the cut now, m’ght sting bit, ‘kay?”[color] she slurred her words out, as Astrid was attempting to take the Solar’s measurements with whatever instructions were provided by the handmaidens.

Kicking a foot forward, wobbling slightly but using her grip on Calliope to stay upright, Astrid took the measuring string. Wrapping that leg around the Solar, she transferred her hold of the string to the hand above her wound and held it, keeping her hand wrapped around her torso. Then she picked up the other end of the string with her foot and kicked it out almost to a ninety degree angle to pull the string taught. [color=darkslateblue]"Mm'kay, ish wrapt. S-sh'bout... a th-third a tha string. Wut er theze... red bitz fer?"
Vengalu was the one who answered this time. "Those are centimeter markers. You simply need to count how many of them go around to determine the size." She ignored Lakshmi sticking her tongue out at her as she took position on the other side with a small board and writing pen. They had other things to do today and the soulsteel maiden didn't want to waste all of it pranking exalts. "Once you've done that, pick another part of her and measure that as well, I'll keep track of the numbers." She gave a quick glance up at Calliope. "If your highness wouldn't mind would you please stand feet shoulder width apart and your arms outstretched?"

Between the disinfectant and Astrid's awkward assistance, it was as though Calliope was being ensnared and tortured. Now she was being given orders? "I most certainly will nnnot outstretch mmy arrmmms! Let GO OF MME!" She demanded. The pink man, practically upside down in the corner, had awoken at the sound of the Princess' cry, shocked to see a very naked woman being restrained by the intimidating Lunar.

As the Solar began to fidget and writhe about, attempting to escape the hold Astrid had of her, Lux’s efforts in disinfecting her wound came to a halt. Even still soused, the little Dragon-Blooded sensed a need to move from her current position, or else...something would happen, what that something was, she wasn’t sure.

Not understanding why she had to take hold of Calliope, and deciding that part of the measuring process must require her to not let go, Astrid was taking great pains to keep her arms wrapped around the Solar. Calliope was on her final straw. Astrid's grip on her tightened, while she fumbled with the measuring tape. Calliope planned her escape. While she couldn't seem to leap out of Astrid's clutches, instead, she dropped and rolled out of the Lunar's grasp, almost toppling over Lux, who'd obeyed her sense and had flopped backward onto her hindquarters and scrambled back a ways.

From a kneeling stance, Calliope lept to her feet triumphantly. There was a brief awkward pause as the handmaidens and the other two exalts stared at her, Vengalu being the only one with presnece of mind to lend a hand to the fallen Lux. Then Lakshmi, ever the miscreant, pointed directly at the princess and gave a sharp yell of "GRAB HER!"

The Princess, with a sudden burst of adrenaline, took off, fully in the nude, and out the door of the sewing shop. If ONLY she had any of her weapons! Then she could properly defend herself. She only had her own motivation to escape. Taking a sharp turn around the corner, Calliope slipped on the marbled floor, careening into the protruding corner of a wall. She recovered quickly though, making it to her feet, and sprinting down the closest hall she could find. She was just a blur of pink, and a streak of white hair trailing behind her.

A brief moment of uncertainty went through Astrid's mind, taking a moment to process what had just transpired. Hearing Lakshmi cry out, Astrid's skin rippled, anima glittering slightly in the air as it illuminated her caste mark. Growing greatly in size as her Beastman form began to surface, Calliope's scent still fresh in the air, she dropped to all fours and purred out, "Oh Creashion do I luff'n they run." Bounding forward, she darted after the girl. Calliope was quick, but not as quick as a Lunar in full glory, re-capturing her was but a matter of time. Right behind her a small battle cry was sounded as three of the quintet followed behind Astrid's charge.

In the flurry of commotion, the Pink Stranger took the opportunity to sneak out the back, staying quiet as not to draw any attention to himself. He scrambled to his feet, nearly tripping over some baskets of thread and fabric, catching himself on the wall. He fumbled with the door handle for a moment, before making his hasty retreat.

Under most circumstances, even inebriated, Lux would have found it in herself to politely thank Vengalu for helping her to her feet, however.... The whole scene that had played out before the Terrestrial left her otherwise dumbfounded, and for good reason. A naked-as-the-day-she-was-born Calliope sprinting out of the room, with Hotton, Lakshmī and Periya following straight after...which was also followed by a now transformed Astrid.

Following the whole fiasco, Lux, and the remaining two handmaidens, Vengalu and Nāgasāni, all silently stared at the doorway, trying to process what exactly had just occurred before them. What’d just...? Swaying a bit on her feet, the little Dragon-Blooded looked to Nāgasāni questioningly, then to Vengalu. Both of the girls returned Lux’s bewildered stare for a moment, none of them noticing that the Pink Stranger had managed to slip away and out of the room unnoticed.

“Er, that did not go as we planned,” Vengalu mumbled, rubbing her hand against the back of her neck.

Nāgasāni sighed in a most exasperated manner, and set a hand against her forehead, “Indeed, I would say that it did not.” she sighed, “How it was intended to go no longer is of concern, what is of concern is that we have a nude Lady Calliope running about the spire, aimlessly in a panic....”

Both of the handmaidens began to go back and forth between each other, trying to figure out how they were going to absolve this ridiculous situation.

Lux stared at the two girls as they spoke to one another, still holding onto the wet washcloth in her hand. It took her a little longer to comprehend what’d happened than it perhaps would’ve normally, given her intoxicated state, but when it hit her...it hit her hard enough to sober her up a smidgen. Oh dear, poor Calliope.... The Dragon-Blooded had merely been trying to clean and disinfect her wound, but all else that had been going on must’ve been too much for her to bear.

She hadn’t even stopped to grab something to cover herself with before fleeing. Did she even realize...? Acting without thought, Lux dropped the washcloth in her hand, and kicked off her heavy heels, knowing she could move faster without them and sprinted off much in the same vein as Calliope had, though she bothered to grab a large, loose sheet of patterned fabric before exiting the room, calling back to Vengalu and Nāgasāni, “Goin’ after t’em!”

And she was off without waiting for a response, or even knowing where she was going to find everyone, somehow though, Lux had a feeling she’d luck out....

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

#, as written by Wake
Part 3 of the big collab, more to come


Prodding down the marble and gold halls, Ashen continued to pour over the sea charts he held in his hands. Knowing that the Archipelago of exiles was past the storm mothers court the Lunar was now trying to figure the most likely route the sirens would have taken to reach the island chain, for if he could do that he might be able to narrow down which part of it the kidnappers would likely be hold up in. His eyes trailed through the list of spirit courts, islets and other features along the way, noting which ones they might try to seek shelter at or avoid for safety. Dismissing paths one by one he slowly began to formulate a hunch towards their specific destination and it seemed to point towards the southern edge of the archipelago.

Unconsciously he started up a flight of stairs, utterly engrossed in his hypothesis. Busy with his fact checking he ascended the steps without any concern for his surroundings. And because he so face deep in his papers, the normally attentive changing moon either didn't hear or completely ignored the sound of bare feet slapping against the polished floors as he neared the top.

Ashen would have only heard echoes and murmurs, if only he was listening for them. With each slap of the marbled floors, the sounds of grunting and growling grew louder, along with the formidable chanting of women. It echoed ominously throughout the expansive network of hallways and staircases, like the howling of wind before a storm.

As Ashen reached the top of the stairwell, a small spot of pink appeared at the end of the 100 meter hallway. After a few more moments, the spot became the more defined shape of a woman.

It was only as he cleared the last step that the Lunar noticed something off. He managed to get about two or three paces before he looked up from the map he held infront of him. This gave him just enough time to become slightly aware of a pink and white humanoid blur coming right at him before the impact. Papers went flying out of his hand as the sudden impact of force knocked him off his feet and he went flying backwards down the steps, a single "OOF" escaping his lips. Something screamed in the back of his mind and he unconciously wrapped his arms around whatever it was that had just slammed into him and and he currled himself into a ball around it. Then he felt the first bone shaking impact of his body against the marble steps. He winced and let out another grunt, then another, and another as he tumbled down the stair case until finally he flopped ungracefully onto the tiles at the bottom, with something soft and warm weighing down on his torso. He gave a final groan and unthinkingly squeezed the object one last time.

“Now is not the time for the pleasures of the flesh, dear Ashen!” Calliope urged. They were a tangled mess on the floor, the princess had to practically pry herself out of the Lunar’s grasp. She sat up, still pinning him to the ground, but her body language would suggest she was ready to flee at any moment.

Ashen blinked, vaguely recoginizing the voice, and finally looked up at who had just bowled him over. He was greeted by a round, pink face, and two wide, golden eyes staring back at him, as well as a fleeting look of nervousness as Princess Calliope Lordes looked towards the fast-approaching mob that was about to trample both of them. The privateer almost failed to recognize her at first. Though he'd spoken with the solar on occasion since they're arrival, having her this close to him and in this state made him stop all thought processes for a single moment to take it in. Mouth agape, his eye trailed up and down her form, and for a moment he almost thought a goddess and just seated herself on his stomach. It was a few seconds before his mind finally clicked all the pieces of her together and he final realised that their dawn caste was his mystery attacker. "C... Calliope?" He muttered.

Then another second passed and he realised the state of the dawn caste on top of him, and the fact that he had been openly staring with his mouth open like an idiot. Instantly blood pooled his face crimson in a blush that could've been seen from Yu-Shan. "WHY ARE YA NAKED!" HE sputtered in shock. He tried to avert his gaze, but instead his eyes locked onto something else. The stab wound on her side.

He went cold.

"What... what happend?"

Although Calliope had gotten a head-start, Astrid was faster and quickly eating up the distance between them. The shift into Beastman form had sobered her up and she was now chasing with absolute clarity, kicking off of walls to turn so that she wouldn't lose momentum and generally using every technique she'd learned about pursuit. Before long the Pink girl was in sight, and tumbling into someone and down the stairs. Ignoring the stairs entirely, Astrid leaped down the flight of them, landing behind Callipe and... Ashen?

In retrospect, Astrid wasn't certain why she was determined to put Calliope in a dress or why she should care. However she'd come this far, and damned if she wasn't going to finish her task. "Fun little chase we had, but now it's time to get dressed. Come along."

Before she could answer his question, Calliope stood up, prepared to make another break for it back the way she came. But instead of fleeing, she calmly offered a hand to Ashen. [color=#FE6979]“Come with me,” she whispered.
Without thinking he took it in a heartbeat. Calliope offered a challenging glance to Astrid, and off she went, dragging Ashen behind her in a dead run for freedom. Maybe she couldn’t outrun Astrid, but she wasn’t going down without a fight.

Ashen stumbled for a second as she pulled him. Why was Calliope naked? Why did she have a stab wound in her side? Why was Astrid chasing her in war form? Why were they running from her? These thoughts went through his head in the span of a nanosecond, but they were cast aside the moment he got his feet under him. Some primal, ancient instinct flared in him and his caste mark started to burn on his forehead.

Spoiler: show
Willpower: 7/8
Peripheral Pool: 21
Active Effects: Beastman Transformation/Anima Effect


Letting loose a chortle and beginning to attune her anima to her body, feeling it infuse and spread through her muscles as the air glittered slightly. Waiting until they made it about fifty feet away, she began to chase, quickly catching up to them. Ashen glanced behind them, seeing the Full Moon rapidly advancing on them. Then Essence burned through his legs and he suddenly scooped Calliope up in his arms. In the next second he kicked off with a sudden burst, his body flairing inclandestantly with the silver light of Luna's power, widening the gap again. Astrid wasn't the only one with speed boosting charms.

Spoiler: show
Current Motes: Personal Pool: 4/6 Peripheral Pool: 5/13
Current Willpower: 5/5
Current Health: 5/5
Current Ongoing Charms active:
Ashen Activates: INSTINCT DRIVEN BEAST MOVEMENT. Quintuples running speed


Calliope wasn’t shocked to be scooped up, so much as she was excited to have a second chance at outrunning Astrid. She cackled over Ashen’s shoulder, raising a triumphant fist in the air as the moonchild whisked her off to safety. She held on to Ashen, as they gained speed, her long white hair fell behind them like the tail of comet. She grinned a thrilled grin, glad to have escaped the beast for the time being.

She was probably a minute or so behind the gaggle of crazed women, contrary to what she’d initially though, it turned out that giving chase to a naked pink princess, a transformed Lunar and three of Fakharu’s handmaidens was actually rather easy. Who knew that all Lux had to do was follow a trail of bewildered folks, who were too busy mumbling and muttering amongst each other, trying to process and comprehend what they’d seen to pay much mind to anything else?

As soon as the Dragon-Blooded found herself confronted by a staircase, she gave absolutely no thought as to how she was going to descend it, judgment and inhibitions still loosened by her tipsy state, Lux didn’t slow. Instead, the girl grabbed onto the staircase’s railing, and leapt up, pulling herself onto it, and proceeded to slide down it, the material of her dress providing no friction against the marble material.

Given that she’d already had a running start, Lux otherwise glided down the banister at a speed so fast that it made her heart feel like it’d leapt into her throat, and she couldn’t quite resist the exceedingly loud and joyous squeal that came from her.

Of course though, with absolutely nothing to slow her descent, once Lux reached the bottom of the hand railing...the Dragon-Blooded proceeded to tumble off the handrail, landing on her bum as she ended up sliding several feet across the marbled floor, the large piece of fabric she had in hand trailing behind her. She made it just in time...to see that Ashen had apparently been caught up in this whole ordeal as well, and had bolted off with Calliope. Lux simply remained sitting where she’d at last stopped, watching the whole scene play out from a distance as she could only bring herself to mumble an, “Oh dear....”

The duo began to put distance between themselves and Astrid, much to her chagrin. She grit her teeth and mumbled to herself, "A different tactic perhaps..." Turning around, she began to sprint to Lux, without saying anything, she scooped the small girl up, which caused Lux to let out a small squeak, and resumed the chase, a bit more slowly this time.

As they ran, she began to explain to Lux, "You're gonna go convince them to stop running, talk to them calmly and wind them down. I have a plan."

The Dragon-Blooded blinked a few times before she glanced up at Astrid’s catlike face, winding up the piece of fabric she still had in hand into a ball that she kept pressed against her stomach. The Lunar had a plan? A plan for what, exactly? “N’sure I’ll b’able to, but wiiiill try?” she responded, her thoughts feeling light. “‘Sides, I wanna g’ve ‘Alliope somethin’ to c’ver up wit’....” Lux lifted the balled-up fabric a bit for emphasis, but she couldn’t help but continue to stare. She’d seen Astrid’s half-transformed state earlier that day, but hadn’t had a chance to see it so up close.

She had thought it was fascinating, but actually having a chance to really take it in now...the Terrestrial had a thought she couldn’t quite keep contained as a huge grin formed over her face. “Y’look pretty, ‘Strid!” Lux exclaimed, a hint of absolute awe in her voice. A low purr rose in Astrid's throat, as she looked down at Lux and told her, "I'm always pretty," with a smirk.

A glad little giggle slipped from Lux’s throat in response to Astrid’s unbridled confidence—she had every right to it, after all. [color=red]“Yes! Yes, you are!”[color] she agreed without hesitation, before returning her attention ahead of herself. Astrid wanted her to convince Ashen and Calliope to stop running...the Lunar had some kind of plan that she wasn't privy to. Lux wondered what she had in mind and, also, whatever had happened to the handmaidens who'd been in pursuit as well? Somehow, Lux seemed to have managed to outpace them, strange....

Setting

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by Wake
Part 4 of the big collab, more to follow



MEANWHILE WITH THE RUNAWAYS


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"That's right."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Quite." She replied

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

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#, as written by Wake
Part 5 of the big collab, more to follow


Certainly, how it was that Lux had managed to catch up with Calliope and Astrid before the trio of Periya, Hotton and Lakshmī did was quite the mystery for the ages, indeed. Regardless of how the little Dragon-Blooded had done it, she’d somehow achieved the feat. In the meanwhile, the three handmaidens had found themselves discovered by Nāgasāni and Vengalu, who’d set off in the aftermath of Lux’s hasty departure. As head of the handmaidens, Nāgasāni had seen fit to chastise the maids of Starmetal, Moonsilver and Jade for their unbecoming behavior. Nāgasāni was most positively not above indulging in a bit of fun, that was for certain, but there were still standards to which she and the girls needed to adhere, and one of those was ensuring that their guilty enjoyments did not push the boundaries of someone’s comfort too far.

....such had occurred with the Princess of Gladom.

The lovely woman seemed on edge regarding the whole ordeal she was undergoing in the first place, and her case had needed to be handled with delicacy...which it had not. The moment the Solar had rend herself free from Astrid’s grasp, Lakshmī should have made attempts to pacify her, and not given into the childish impulse to chase her. Overall, the situation just seemed to further worsen the more Nāgasāni thought it over—Calliope had fled from them, distressed, she’d been involved in a scuffle with an unknown man who’d managed to injure her; said man had managed to slip out from under their noses, his whereabouts otherwise unknown. He needed to be brought before Lord Fakharu, considering the severity of his actions, having attacked one of the Lesser Dragon’s guests.

Though she was quite capable of shouldering a number of responsibilities and carrying out her duties without fail; that did not mean that Nāgasāni was beyond feeling a touch of exasperation every so often, and, certainly, she was feeling it at the moment.

A sigh escaped the girl’s lips, as she had the bridge of her nose pinched between two of her fingers while her other hand rested upon her hip. Her lecturing of the three troublemaking handmaidens concluded with at least Hotton and Periya looking sheepish (Hotton perhaps a touch more than Periya), while Lakshmī merely pouted—her cheeks a bit flushed. Vengalu merely stood at Nāgasāni’s side in silence, allowing her “sister” to do her duty as their head. But when the maid of Orichalcum’s vexation showed itself, Vengalu set a hand gently upon her shoulder, offering her a bit of comfort, not breaking her silence.

This small action roused Nāgasāni from her thoughts, and made her look at the maid of Soulsteel.

While this whole mess had certainly become quite a hullabaloo, it was not beyond them to remedy it. And while Nāgasāni bore the bulk of the responsibility as head handmaiden, Vengalu wanted her to remember that she did have them to rely on—the five of them had each other and they could made reparations with Calliope, find the Pink Stranger, and have everything back in order before the Exalted all embarked on their journey to save Mistress Amarel. They’d accomplished even greater tasks before, after all.

A soft smile slipped across Nāgasāni’s face, and some of the tension in her frame dissipated.

“I know, Vengalu.” she answered the girl’s wordless reassurance, set her hand atop Vengalu’s and gave it a soft squeeze in gratitude before setting it upon her hip. Vengalu again said nothing, but nodded in response, removing her hand from Nāgasāni’s shoulder as the head handmaid turned her attention back to the troublesome trio before her. “I do believe you three clearly comprehend how inappropriate your behavior was, yes?”

“Yes, Nāgasāni, I’m sorry—I was having so much fun that I forgot myself.” Hotton was the first to respond, her large eyes were watery, and her cheeks a touch flushed.

Periya fidgeted beside Hotton, her voice soft with shame, “I must confess that I also got swept up in the moment, the events of the day caused me to lose my professionalism. I swear it shan’t happen again.”

Unlike the maids of Jade and Starmetal, though, Lakshmī remained quiet, her arms were crossed and she had her gaze turned aside, her cheeks still puffed out and a clear pout adorning her features.

“Lakshmī, you understand that you went too far today, don’t you?” Nāgasāni addressed the redhead, her voice firmer than usual.

She huffed outwardly in something of a melodramatic fashion at being directly addressed, but she answered quietly, “I was just having some fun, you know that. I didn’t expect the Princess to be so high-strung that she’d actually run away from us...naked, like she did.” Lakshmī drew into herself a bit, “But, I know that this whole situation is my fault. The second Lady Calliope started getting so terribly jittery, I should have done everything in my power to make her relaxed—that’s one of my duties, after all—I didn’t do that and pushed til she couldn’t handle it anymore.”

“Indeed so, Lakshmī,” Nāgasāni replied, which caused the redheaded maiden to frown again. The head handmaiden noticed how Lakshmī looked to be sulking, which caused her to let out a single breathy laugh and shake her head a bit. So it was the usual response, it seemed. Every time that something went awry, and Lakshmī was found to be the main culprit, the girl always seemed to realize herself in the aftermath and...pout. She was lively, mischievous, and lived life with her spirit leading her more than her mind. Never did she mean true harm to anyone, or anything, she just occasionally got carried away...and that was something that never changed, and in a way, Nāgasāni did hope that it wouldn’t.

Without a word, Nāgasāni took a few steps til she was standing before Lakshmī. The redheaded handmaid refused to look at Nāgasāni who stood before her silently for a moment before she reached up...and gave her “sister” a playful flick upon her forehead, which caused the maid of Moonsilver to squeak out an, “Ouch!” and bring a hand up to her assaulted brow, and sullenly looked up at Nāgasāni, who had her hands upon her hips again, albeit in a more relaxed manner then before, and a smile gracing her lovely face.

“What was that for?” she mumbled.

That was your punishment,” Nāgasāni started, “and so long as you understand what you did wrong, it’ll be your only punishment.”

Next to Lakshmī, both Hotton and Periya had their hands covering their mouths as they did their best to suppress their amusement. Both of them had apologized to Nāgasāni, and were fully aware of their own wrongdoings, yes, but they were still likely on thin ice and didn’t want to risk succumbing to one of Nāgasāni’s infamous forehead flicks. Even Vengalu, who’d had nothing to say during all of this, had the smallest of smiles forming on her usually serious face.

Meanwhile, Lakshmī was rubbing at the spot on her forehead, grumbling; “‘Only punishment’, you say—do you even know how hard you can flick, Nāgasāni?”

The head handmaiden chuckled a bit, “Rather hard, as you’ve told me numerous times.”

“I’m going to have a red mark on my forehead all day now; you know that, don’t you?” Lakshmī muttered.

Beside her, Hotton couldn’t contain herself and started sympathetically giggling, “Be thankful you’ve bangs, Lakshmī. The last time I endured one of Nāgasāni’s punishments, even Mr. Burnished Mantis commented that I’d a mark on my forehead since I’d nothing to hide it.”

To this, Lakshmī could think of no retort, and merely kept wallowing in her own self-pity, not reacting when it was that Nāgasāni had set a gentle hand upon her head, and patted it a few times, smiling as much as Lakshmī continued to sulk before she returned her hand to her hip and took a step back. “I know you meant no harm to Lady Calliope, Lakshmī—we need to ensure that she’s made aware of that as well. All of we five need to apologize to the Princess, and make amends with her.”

Beside Hotton, Periya still had her hand covering her mouth, though the urge to laugh had passed. She contemplated Nāgasāni’s statement and pondered, offering an apology to the Princess was simple; it was the easiest thing they could do, but that wouldn’t be enough to express their honest regret, though, an idea did bloom in her mind. The brunette maiden idly twirled the ends of her hair before she decided to speak her thoughts. “Um, Nāgasāni...?”

The head handmaid cast a questioning gaze to her, as Hotton did her best to console a still sulking Lakshmī, “What is it, Periya?”

“A thought occurred to me...regarding how we should express the sincerity of our apologies to Lady Calliope.” the girl spoke from behind her hand, “Perhaps, we should offer to her a gift of some kind? Though, I am not certain what manner of gift we would present to her, given what was the catalyst for all of this mess...I dare to say that the option of clothing is off the table.”

Behind Nāgasāni, Vengalu couldn’t contain the snort that escaped her. “Most certainly, clothing would be a terrible gift.” She crossed her arms, “However, I do agree that presenting the Princess with a gift is a wise idea.”

Nāgasāni nodded in agreement, going through possible ideas in her head, til her attention was drawn away from that train of thought, as the familiar, hulking feline form of Astrid dashed past at an incredible speed, which caused the quintet of handmaidens to poke their heads out into the main hall from the side hallway they’d been speaking to each other in.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala

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#, as written by Wake
Part 7 of the big collab, final part for now


Due to being carried around much like a child, Lux found herself otherwise at the mercy of Astrid’s whims. She knew that the Lunar had some kind of plan in mind when it came down to the situation regarding Calliope and Ashen.... What that plan was, she had no clue. Astrid had been tight-lipped about whatever she was plotting, and Lux was, surprisingly, sensible enough to know that inquiring would get her nowhere.

It took Astrid sometime to figure out where she was, the winding corridors of the palace all looked the same to her, opulent and buffoonish, all the while Lux bid her time fiddling with the ball of cloth she still had in her possession. After asking a few spirits, one was finally able to indicate what part of the palace they’d come from. Thanks to her inhuman speed and the help of a few passersby that she managed to retrace her steps to the path she’d taken out of the dressing room in a sort of timely manner. The quintet were talking amongst themselves, moving vaguely in the correct direction, it was no wonder that she’d lost them in her rabid dash, by Creation were they slow.

Throwing Lux over her shoulder, the Terrestrial squawked much like a bird in surprise as Astrid strode up to Nagasani, and grabbed her by the wrist, “Lady Astrid?!” Nāgasāni gasped, as she was led along to where Astrid had stopped chasing after Ashen and Calliope. Concerned and curious, the other four handmaidens followed along after the trio, while Lux just gave them a nervous wave with her unoccupied hand. She was as curious as they were….

”West wing, follow the anima. Are you afraid of snakes?” Practically dragging the girl along, and without waiting for an answer, she quickly began jogging back to her quarry.

“Sn’kes?” Lux parroted Astrid’s last word, lifting her head up as much as she could to try to get a view of the Lunar’s face, and failing in the process.

Meanwhile, Nāgasāni’s brow furrowed in confusion as she did her best to keep pace with the rather hasty Lunar before she echoed Lux’s inquiry, “Snakes?” Why...? “Er, no, Lady Astrid, I cannot say that I am fearful of serpents?”

Still slung over Astrid’s shoulder like a sack of potatoes, Lux watched the scenery repeat itself as she continued to fiddle with the ball of fabric in her grasp, “Why y’askin’ ‘bout snakes...?”

Astrid furrowed her brow, it was a simple enough question, or at least she thought. Some people were squeamish about snakes, some sort of primal fear, or something. "I've got an idea, but it requires you not to be scared of snakes." She left the specifics quiet for now, waiting until they were close to the duo, where she had stopped chasing. Lux wasn’t afraid of snakes, but...?

"Mkay... Up to ya'll to find them now. As for my part..." Astrid's form shifted slightly as she put Lux back down onto her feet, assuming the form of a snake which coiled about Nagasani's arms, hiding in her sleeve.

Nāgasāni shivered as soon as Astrid’s serpentine form made contact with her flesh, meanwhile Lux could only stare somewhat entranced, as Astrid’s tail vanished from sight—it took her a moment to reorient herself to standing after having been carried. Before today, Lux had never knowingly been in proximity to a Lunar Exalted, she’d seen Astrid change her form a few times now...and it left her in awe. She knew very little about how this all worked—she didn’t even know that Lunars could assume more than one animal’s form?! She’d have to ask Astrid later if she could get a better look at her current form later...after whatever she...what did she have planned? The Lunar wanted them to find Calliope and Ashen, and then she was going to...do something?

As a...snake.

As awestruck and befuddled as Lux was, was how uncertain Nāgasāni was. She stood there, looking at the sleeve which now housed Astrid...who’d assumed the form of a snake. She had a snake in the sleeve of her robe—she had a Lunar Exalted in the sleeve of her robe.

This day just kept getting odder and odder.

Both handmaiden and Terrestrial stood in silence for a moment, before giving each other a glance, considering their options. “Well, it was my intention to seek out Lady Calliope....” Nāgasāni started, just now realizing that Hotton, Vengalu, Periya and Lakshmī seemed to have fallen behind them.

“We were doin’ t’same....” Lux replied, squeezing the fabric ball in her arms.

Neither girl had any idea as to what plot Astrid had concocted, and both came to the same conclusion; they were not going to get an answer until said plot was set into motion. Resigning herself to that fact and dreading what may come; Nāgasāni knew she was now at the mercy of the Lunar’s whims.

“Gues’ we sh’uld g’lookin’?”

To the question, Nāgasāni could only respond with a nod—there was nothing else to say. All she could do was hope that things did not devolve even further.... So, both girls set off in search of the two runaway Celestials.

Coiled around the slender handmaiden's arm was slightly relaxing, the warmth of her skin feeling odd against reptilian skin. For now, there was nothing to do but wait, soon Nagasani would find her quarry and the plan would be sprung into motion. Flicking her tongue out, the scent of the Lunar and Solar runaways was sharp in the air, certainly they couldn't have gotten far. They probably stopped running shortly after she'd ceased chasing.

Lux was admittedly not entirely certain how Astrid expected her to track Ashen and Calliope—she had some experience hunting and trapping animals, but, that was different...? Animals possessed some intelligence, but once you understood their behaviors and them overall, it was easy to prey upon them, insofar as she’d always been concerned. “Hunting,” for lack of a better term, a Lunar and a Solar was something of an entirely different caliber, something she didn’t exactly have experience with, for numerous reasons. Though she was still rather tipsy, Lux knew that the two were likely still within the Spire...somewhere. Ashen had utilized a Charm of some kind in order to put distance between himself and Astrid. Though that granted him impressive speed, it was also finite. He and Calliope would’ve had to stop fleeing...eventually.

Beside the ruminating Terrestrial, Nāgasāni had otherwise remained silent...til she allowed her eyes to wander downward. “....you are without any shoes, Lady Lux.”

As soon as the handmaiden’s observation registered, Lux ceased walking, and she herself looked upon her own feet, and wiggled her toes, “Yep, I am....” she responded, matter-of-factly. Lux was fully aware of her shoeless state; she’d made the conscious choice to kick off them off before taking off after Calliope, after all. The blonde shrugged after a moment of silence passed, and continued her aimless searching.

Nāgasāni shook her head, allowing herself a small laugh before she followed after Lux, “So long as you are content, then.”

The Dragon-Blooded herself snorted, “‘Course I’m content~ S’easier to walk ‘round w’thout tall shoes, y’know?”

“Many do indeed seem to be of that opinion.”

“Not a’opinion...it’s fact.” Lux mumbled, tilting her head in every which direction as she tried to get her bearings and figure out how she was going to find Ashen and Calliope.

Beside the befuddled and frustrated Dragon-Blooded, the head-handmaid herself held a small smile, but could not help the chill that shot up her spine as a chill registered from her forearm. She had to stamp down the desire to rub warmth back into the appendage, given that Astrid was still coiled around it. “My apologies then, Lady Lux,” she continued on with their banter to distract herself, “it is a fact then, not an opinion.”

A tiny hum came from the tipsy Exalted as she rolled and squished the fabric in her hands, completely at a loss. How Astrid expected her to track down Ashen...she didn’t know, so she once more stopped walking, and was quiet for a moment...before she let out a very loud and very childish sounding groan. Sure, Nāgasāni knew the layout of Fakharu’s spire, but she didn’t. And honestly, a lot of the grandiose décor was beginning to look the same to her at this point…?

Wait, were they going in circles...?

….how in Creation was she supposed to find anyone like this?!

“Ast’id...I d’think I can find ‘em. I c’track ‘nimals fine, b’not people, not much ‘perience....” At her own admission, Lux pouted and felt her cheeks redden, as she hid the bottom half of her face with the bunch of fabric in her arms.

Setting

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Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala

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#, as written by Sepokku
Calmly watching with a touch of bemusement, the serpent quietly waited for Lux to stumble about for a bit and thought of a way to steer her in the right direction without being so obvious as to alert her prey. Flicking her tongue out once more to catch the scent on the air, brushing against Nagasani as she did, the direction of the runaways could be discerned. They're not far... But, we're going the wrong way...

Being a warm-blooded mammal most of her life, hunting as a snake always felt odd to Astrid. However, hunting in general always felt odd to Astrid, even when it was covering oneself in mud to ambush bandits who ambush caravans, like Lem taught her. The key was to not think about it, and let time pass while your prey runs itself ragged. However it was distinctly harder not to think about it when your enhanced sense of smell and lack of body heat caused an explosion of sensation every time your ride moved. The warm skin of the handmaiden who grew up by the sea was accented by the sea and whatever oils and perfumes made up her morning to create a sensory overload.

Another minutes of wandering passed and Lux began pouting, which Astrid sympathized with as she was doing her best to block all sensation from her mind at the moment. The Palace was an expansive maze to the Lunar Chieftain, even more so when a carnival of senses was screaming at her every jostle and bump. Were it not for the smell of the hunt, she would likely also be entirely lost. Deciding enough time had passed, the serpent calmed itself and tightened up against Nagasani's wrist with its tail, using the upper half of its body to point backwards, towards Ashen and Calliope.

Feeling the snake tense up against her skin, Nagasani slowly stopped walking as she felt Astrid's lower body began to tighten its grip, and her upper body uncoil and run down the length of the girl's arm to her elbow, where it pressed against the back of her sleeve. Uncertain what to think at first, Nagasani ignored it, prompting the serpent to slowly keep coiling until the girl came to a sudden stop. "That sort of hurts Lady Astrid." The coiling halted, but didnt release and the snake started incessantly tapping its nose against the back of her sleeve. "Should we... go back, Lady Astrid?" Hearing her words, the snake began to uncoil, lazily holding onto her body while also fervently pointing to the way that lie their quarry.

"Lady Lux, there is no need to be upset" Nagasani put a consoling arm around the blonde's shoulder before continuing, "I think Lady Astrid is telling us to go this way?" The handmaiden gestured to the snake pressing against her sleeve, and began to walk backwards with Lux.

After setting the two on the right path it was easier to nudge them in the right direction. Once they stopped walking backwards,
they were already going forward, the Lunar need only nudge them left or right, which she did by flicking her tongue against Nagasani's pinky or thumb. Before long they were close to the duo once more.

They're close ~ How best to reprimand an unruly pup? This will be an important lesson to take back to my children... After pondering it for a bit, Astrid decided on an old custom her tribe had created before she arrived, one that she was particularly fond of. It was usually only done at first snow or last snow up North, but it seemed fitting enough in this situation.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes

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#, as written by Wake
[will probably rewrite this a bit later, it's late and I'm tired :P]


Utterly unaware of the pursuit that was slowly tracking them down, Ashen and Calliope were continuing their impromptu tour of the dragon’s palace. The ever present artwork remained a constant in their surroundings as usual but now Ashen took the time to walk ploddingly so that both he and the princess could survey them at their leisure. In doing so certain themes began to appear in some sections. One wall might depict ancient exalts in fierce battle against monstrous creatures of immense size, while the next might show various spirits in meditative positions or kings conducting debates. It could soon be surmised that much of the works might not be things of Fakharu’s imagination but renditions of significant events in creations past. Ancient glories and wise rulers, each adding to a tapestry of creations ever expanding history.

It matter only as a mild curiosity to Ashen who was content to enjoy this walk with the pleasant sensation of holding pretty young woman in his arms. “Hmm so… Wavecreast.” Having invited the princess on this walk with him under the pretense of discussing their homelands, Ashen decided to take the initiative and start first. “It sits at tha southernmost edge of tha great island chain. It be made up o’ three great islands, tha largest of which be Abalone, and a dozen or so smaller isles sorroundin’ em. Our’s is the largest set o’ isles in the whole of the west, tha only ones large enough ta west to support large scale farmin infact, an’ tha coupled with the rich volcanic soils our gods grant us makes us tha breadbasket o’ tha west. Ay grew up one a farm near a town called Divers Joy, on the south end of Abalone. It’s called tha because of the abundance of oyster pearls tha ye can scavenge from the reefs round it. I used to take part in it meself as a kid with me friends, made good money too, though mother Huihana thought it were to dangerous for a boy me age. Ay used ta have ta sneak out after dark some days with a knife ta go huntin’ which earned me more than a few canings when she caught me.” He chuckled a bit. “Ay remember one day ay came home with a bloody bite on me rump, from an eel ay accidentally sat on one mornin. Mother Huihana was right cross bout that one, both me mothers were actually. Though sadly she turned out ta be right in tha end. Some sea beast started moving in a few years back, an any divin’ crews tha weren’t well armed tended to go missin, which forced a career change on me part.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala

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Thankfully, Nāgasāni was intuitive enough to pick up on Astrid’s wordless directions, quickly realizing that the Lunar was mutely guiding them toward the Celestial duo as best as she could in her serpentine form. Lux followed along, silently, with nothing to say for herself—still immaturely pouting over her inability to track both Ashen and Calliope. Perhaps it was silly to sulk over such a thing, but Lux could not help herself, she felt...ashamed? Embarrassed? No...it was more than that. Unable to be the guide, having to be the guided; it made Lux feel so much like a helpless child. It was so bitterly nostalgic....

The Terrestrial walked alongside Nāgasāni, hushed as she did her damnedest to quell the festering negativity within her. Still hiding the lower half of her face in amidst the bunched up fabric, Lux began to unconsciously nibble on a small bit of it as she tried to clear her mind. There was nothing to worry about! Neither of her companions seemed to care that she was directionally impaired, so.... Maybe it was okay?

Lux did her best to convince herself of that. That it was okay, that she was okay. Her inability to track both Ashen and Calliope didn’t make her helpless, it didn’t make her a child...it was just something she had no experience with in the first place. That was okay.

The arm around Lux’s shoulders suddenly tightened a bit, comfortingly so. Nāgasāni said nothing, still simply following Astrid’s directional ques. The wordless action broke Lux free of her ruminating, and caused her to look at the handmaiden, who returned the glance, sporting a small smile. ....it was reassuring and kind. It was enough to make a giddy giggle bubble up from somewhere deep within Lux, enough to make her jitter a bit as an odd sort of overwhelming joy flittered through her.

The bitter nostalgia vanished in an instant, and Lux couldn’t even quite recall what’d been making her feel so...dour.

Everything was perfectly okay! Astrid was expertly guiding them to the missing duo, and...well, Lux could only assume that shenanigans would ensue. The Lunar Chieftain had something planned, some kind of silly revenge plot no doubt. At this point, the Dragon-Blooded knew she was just along for the ride, much the same as the Handmaiden of Orichalcum. Both were rather at the mercy of one very determined woman, and were otherwise powerless against her.

The trio of women continued to walk through the overly spacious halls of the palace, wordless. Til it was that Lux heard the muffled ramblings of a familiar enough voice....

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes

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#, as written by Castle
The two approached a new corridor, though it looked to be more of the same. Natural light fled in from some unidentified source, so They were not far from the courtyard, or maybe an outer-wall, Calliope surmised. The overarching ceilings dwarfed the princess and the sailor. Ashen's voice carried far into the distance, and bounced off the stone, making it sound as though there were whispers coming from all around them.

Calliope listened dutifully to Ashen's stories, noting names and places, taking in the details. Ashen's innocent beginnings remind Calliope of her early combat training, adventures she would go on with friends, the trouble she would get into, and oh, so many broken dishes. It seemed that they might have been kindred in youth. Had they have grown up in the same place, she could imagine their rambunctious friendship, a friend she definitely could have used.

She waited until Ashen had finished before replying, "Your farmm sounnds most appealing. Nnever have I venntured to the west." She studied his face, folding her arms, and neatly perching herself on his shoulder. "It is a shammee you were forced to give up your scavennging, it is a mmost honorable professionn in mmy culture. We call themm," she searched for the word. "'acquirers' or a simmilar trannslationn. Mmany of our finest soldiers nnever leave the village unless for war. Acquirers, however, leave, and returnn with trinnkets and treasures, which amuse the Kinngg and Queenn and all of our dear citizenns." Her gaze trailed up as she recalled her younger years. "I remmember pearl was of most value in Gladomm. For my ten-and-six birthday, I received the most beautiful short sword from mmy father. It was pure silver, the cross guard and pommmmel were enncrusted with pearls. Oh, it was a sight to behold." She looked down at her side, as if it would be sitting right there on her hip.

She went back to studying his face, his handsome, young-looking features. "Do you mmiss your home?" She asked softly.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes

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#, as written by Wake
"I," The question gave him pause. "... A bit yes. It's been ah long time since I've seen it's shores. His tone became slowly turned melancholy "Sometimes I 'ave dreams about it's jungles, and tha people I left behind there. I... didn't really get much of chance ta say goodbye ta any of them before I was forced ta leave." What he left unsaid was that several of those people died very shortly after the Lintha started hunting him, as the pirate syndicate wanted to root out anyone that could have possibly been hiding him. The possible threat that they would resume targeting his friends and loved ones is what kept him from ever returning.

" I try not ta dwell on it to much." Suddenly he straightened himself. "Besides! That's why I'm 'ere now. If I can secure Fakharu's favor, it'd be a great step forward in throwin' off the Lintha for good and finally returnin' home." They stopped at a three way intersection of halls and a small balcony over looking a fountain wrote with gold. Ashen looked down at the princess, a smile returning to his face. "If that day comes I wouldn't mind showin' it too ya if ye like."

From where the two were, anyone looking up from below could spot the two easily but that hadn't been much concern to the Lunar's mind. Ashen had more or less forgotten that Astrid and Lux were still hunting for them in favor of enjoying his walk with Calliope. The press of her head against his shoulder and the weight of her in his arms felt comforting to the sailor. "Speakin' of 'omes, what of your's? You said you 'ad a number of brothers?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes

0.00 INK

#, as written by Castle
Calliope chewed on the idea of visiting Ashen's hometown. It sounded interesting. It occurred to her that this was the first time she had considered traveling somewhere for a reason aside from war or diplomatic reasons. "Yes. I ammm the younngest of three older brothers. Alastor is mmmy eldest brother, seconnnd is Eros, then Aether, and Castor and Pollux are the twinnns of our fammily. At last, mmy parennts had me, their air."

"The femmmalee gennder traditionally inherits the positionn of Mmonarch. Mmmy mother used to say mmenn were far better at dyinnng thann leading. Of course, she did not mean this. The relationnnship betweennn the sexes is highly valued in our society. We have our roles."

She sighed, imagining a fresh morning on the grounds of the village, the snow untouched by the footfalls of soldiers for the hours during the night, leaving beautiful white blankets stretched across the hills and mountains. Calliope loved to see it in the early hours of day, pure.

"Aside from the traditionnns, well, our village is quite vibrannntt, our life celebrationns are plentiful, and the people are beautiful and robust." She suddenly missed her mother's rosy face against the backdrop of the snow. It reminded her of her youth, and her mother returning home after a long battle, the stain of blood across her face complimenting her beautiful skin. A kind look across her face, happy to see her daughter. "Mmmy mmmother was once the mmmost fearsome fighter of the village. Still today she is a formmmidable opponent, but she has sinnce retired."

Setting

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by Sepokku
It was a little slower than the Huntress would have liked, especially as the scent would at times change directions entirely, which required more complex directions than 'left or right.' However, they were close enough now, so close that the scent of them lingered in the air. Now... It was up to the others to close the gap without arousing suspicion, a notion that caused her to involuntarily tighten around Nagasani's arm.

"L-lady Astrid," Her words brought Astrid out of her thoughts, uncoiling slightly to allow for blood flow to return to the handmaiden's arm. They entered the shrine devoted to the Incarnae, the snake that was Astrid seemed confident that their quarry lie just a ways beyond, however... The real question was what would happen once they found the duo and the Lunar Chieftain surged into motion. Things had gone far enough earlier, which is why they were in this precarious position, and should things get much worse, the situation may become unrecoverable.

Writhing with anticipation, a foreign sensation of scales on skin for her current mode of transportation, Astrid could barely keep herself contained as her quarry appeared before her. Patience yet, she wasn't quite within striking distance, and the plan required a cool head, just like all the quiet hours stalking a blood quarry. Soon, the culmination of her plans would come to fruition and she would taste the sweet fruits of a successful hunt, all that was left was to wait.

The Solar and Lunar duo came into sight, exchanging words as they wandered down the luxurious corridors of the palace, Nagasani approached the two slowly, calling out once she saw them, "Princess Lordes, Sir Ashen Sky; We offer our deepest apologies that this situation has escalated into the uncomfortable situation that it is." Even though her words were genuine, they felt weird to say with Astrid yet to act... The rest of the quintet bowed deeply, apologizing for their immaturity in unison. Involuntarily, the head handmaiden tensed, expecting something from Astrid, but she was entirely still for the first time since crawling into her sleeve. Uncertain, she turned to give Lux a pleading look, hoping that the still not entirely sober Terrestrial could better salvage the situation.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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The Lunar and Solar were talking between themselves as they wandered, and Lux only managed to discern the last sentence that Calliope had spoken as she approached the duo with Nāgasāni and a still concealed Astrid. The princess had been speaking of her mother—a formidable warrior...? Yep. Lux could definitely envision someone like that being Calliope’s mother.... She was probably as pink as Calliope was, and as lovely as well.

....she could never be sure if she’d actually known her own parents or not.

She didn’t oft consider the subject, her mind usually otherwise occupied. However, with her better sense still muddled by intoxication, a thought bubbled to the surface, a tiny one that made the Fire Aspect start to nibble on the side of her hand and make her eyes glassy. Her parents...perhaps she knew them, but she could never know for sure. Whatever the truth, more than likely Lux knew that her parents were long deceased. Whether she was born to the bandits who “raised” her or she was brought into their circle through other means, those who she’d call her parents very likely no longer drew breath.

More than a few times she’d heard other people discuss their parents and family—either bitterly, or happily, or somewhere in-between. That was something she could never do in any capacity. The absolute closest thing Lux had to “family” was Vered, who, even at her most affectionate, was distant and impersonal toward Lux. Those could chat about their family, even bitterly, were fortunate, in a sense. At least they knew....

Lux stood by, quietly as Nāgasāni offered up a most genuine apology to Ashen and Calliope, her green eyes distant and expression vacant as her foggy mind filled with acrid thoughts once again. The longer they were in there, the more they burned and stung. The grip that Lux had on the bunched up bundle of fabric in her arms tightened, and the pace of her breathing seemed to increase.

So out of it was she, that she missed Nāgasāni looking her way following her apology...Lux said nothing and simply continued to ruminate, too easily consumed by her thoughts.

As moments of silence turned into seconds, and Lux still did not seem as if she was going to respond in any manner, Nāgasāni found herself growing concerned. The Terrestrial had seemed to slip into some kind of momentary state of melancholy before, but had perked up rather swiftly...? Perhaps, it was happening again? The young woman was still rather intoxicated, and it seemed as if she was inexperienced with alcohol in any capacity.... Likely, that Golden Rhapsody she’d rapidly consumed in the baths was affecting her hard and making her far more emotional then she was when sober. Chances were that even the most passing emotion or sentiment was magnified for her, meaning she was overly quick to both laughter and tears.

What, exactly, was bringing Lux to near tears at the moment, Nāgasāni hadn’t the faintest idea. The handmaiden had been hoping that Lux would, or could, help to lessen the awkwardness of the whole situation.... Apparently, that was not going to be the case, as she seemed utterly lost within herself. Perplexed, Nāgasāni stood herself back up straight, being mindful of the unmoving serpentine Astrid that was coiled around her forearm. Whatever the Lunar Chieftain had planned for Calliope and Ashen, she’d yet to put into action—perhaps the situation was not quite right to do so yet.

The head handmaiden looked upon the duo, wordlessly apologizing yet again, before she attempted to edge closer to Lux in order to determine what was upsetting her so, before...said Terrestrial’s shoulders shuddered and she let out a strained noise that made Nāgasāni jump a bit from its abruptness. And before she could say or do anything to amend the situation, Lux was sniffling and mindlessly rubbing at her eyes, a raw, angry spot having formed along the area of her hand where she’d been nibbling on it.

Flabbergasted, “L-Lay Lux?” was all Nāgasāni could manage out at the moment. She reached her hand out in Lux’s direction before retracting it, remembering Astrid’s presence.

A soft sigh emerged from Lux, as she wiped at her eyes. “S’rry, didn’t mean t’cry.... Just...thinkin’ ‘bout m’parents....”

Being Fakharu’s handmaiden, Nāgasāni knew a bit about Lux...but there were also many things about the girl that were a mystery. One of those things regarded the girl’s parentage. Given Lux’s tears, Nāgasāni could only surmise that she either very much missed her parents or...tragedy. A soft and easy smile formed over Nāgasāni’s features and she beckoned Lux over to her. Still sniffling, Lux heeded the handmaiden’s silent gesture. The handmaid merely set a hand atop the small girl’s head, whilst keeping close to her the one that bore Astrid.

“My dear Lady Lux, it is all right to cry.” she comforted the girl, “I believe you’re just...perhaps a tad more emotional than you would usually be, courtesy of the alcohol you consumed earlier.”

Swallowing back a pitiful hiccup, Lux could not bring herself to meet Nāgasāni’s eyes, as she nodded along in agreement, the thoughts dragging her down slipping back into the fog of her mind. Her nose was red and irritated now, while her eyes were puffy. “Y-Yeah, s’probaly...that....” the Terrestrial sniffled rather loudly this time, trying to clear her head and the tears. “S’just the alco’ol...don’t thin’ I’ll be hav’ng more for a’while....”

Nagasani giggled gently, “I do believe it would be best if you did not...indulge with such gusto again anytime soon.”

A small pout formed on Lux’s face, making the girl look much like a child again. “But...I d’have fun....” she sighed, “The bath w’ you and As’rid was fun! The pr’tty dresses were...fun! Fun, fun, fun....” And as quick as the girl had cried before, she was already smiling again, brightly, as she thought of pretty dresses and other fun things. It was definitely the remnants of her intoxication making her so very...emotive....

Nāgasāni cleared her throat, and turned her gaze back upon Calliope and Ashen.... Who knew what they were thinking of the situation.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by Wake
As Calliope described her home and family Ashen listened earnestly and with no small amount of curiosity. But when she mentioned the monarchy and her mothers word, he had to resist a disquieted look crossing his features. "Tha sounds.... interestin'." He said noncommittally. While Ashen knew that the rest of creation had didn't hold to the same 'customs' as the west, but from the sound of it Calliopes home seemed to have a more... antithetical view to what Ahsen had been raised on. A view his master had recently tried to teach the young lunar a 'lesson' about prior to his departure to Fakharu's spire.

He was almost glad for the interruption by the arrival of Lux and the handmaidens before he could say something that put his metaphorical foot in his mouth. Nagasani made her apology to the both of them and the group bowed. Ashen merely grinned and waged his tail. "It be na ah bother miss, least na fer me." He briefly remembered that he'd promised to keep Calliope away from the handmaidens if they came for her again, but they honestly didn't seem to hold any ill intent. He looked to the solar in his arms. "Well, what ya think yer highness? All forgiven?"

It was about that point though that he noticed Lux looking a little woozy in the back. And... teary eyed? Ashen's upper ears went flat against his head in worry. Nagasani seemed to notice as well as she immediately went to comfort the silently crying girl. A quick confession from her confirmed Ashen's own suspicions that she was drunk, and the alcohol was making her somewhat emotional. Very gently he set the princess down on her feet and approached the inebriated terrestrial and handmaiden just as Lux seemed to swing back towards smiles again. "Geez, 'ow much did ya let tha poor girl drink?" Despite the concern in his voice Ashen's kept his an amused grin on his face. He crouched down slightly to be more at eye level with Lux. "Well glad ye had fun me dear. Maybe ye can tell us 'bout it all while we walk ye back 'fore any more foolishness 'appens, aye?" Atop his head Ashen's upper ears willed and flicked upright, as he tried to keep her focus away from what had caused her earlier emotional downturn.

Setting

Characters Present

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

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Nāgasāni removed her hand from atop Lux’s head, but set it upon the girl’s shoulder, keeping her somewhat close at hand, in case she suddenly became overly emotional again. Indeed, it seemed like quite a possibility.... The Terrestrial’s emotion were terribly fragile at the moment, and it seemed that even the smallest thing could cause her mood to shift with near no warning. Certainly, she was quite emotive earlier in the day, when she first arrived on Fakharu’s Island, but she at least seemed to be in relative control. Unless...that was something of a façade, which was entirely possible. Perhaps Lux merely acted in control of herself because she felt like she had to, and her current state was closer to her true self.... Or, maybe it was her true self.

Alcohol did indeed sometimes make folks reveal the truest forms of themselves....

When Ashen commented, in jest, about how much Lux had been allowed to drink, Nāgasāni turned her gaze upon the Lunar. Her face revealing none of her thoughts or speculations regarding the Dragon-Blooded next to her. She spoke, her voice calm and even, “I can assure you, Sir Ashen, that we did not force Lady Lux to ingest anymore drink then she was comfortable with.... She seemed quite ready and willing to join myself and Lady Astrid in partaking.”

As if rehearsed, a small hiccup slipped up from Lux’s diaphragm, “Mhm, yep...was m’choice....” she gave a small smile before...well, her squirrelly attention span once more ran its course. She didn’t even hear what Ashen said to her, as he came to be eye-to-eye with her...no, the only thoughts that were on Lux’s mind concerned the Lunar’s...ears. They’d distracted her before—she had a love for animals, after all. And normally, Lux would have the decency and self-restraint to not do what she was about to.... However, impulse and curiosity overtook the young girl and with no thought given, she reach out and gently grabbed one of his upright ears, before she giddily giggled to herself and started to rub it in much the same way as she would do with a dog or a cat....

Setting

Characters Present

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

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#, as written by Wake
Ashen had certainly not been expecting Lux to grab his ears. The second she did Ashen felt a slight jolt run down his spine and the lunar's body tense very suddenly, inadvertently letting out a small and rather unmanly squeak. Ashen didn't normally let people touch his ears for a very particular reason and his usual recourse would be to swat away anyone who tried. But with the princess still in his arms the matter was complicated.

"Ah, Lux," He started, already his voice starting to warble a bit. " Me ears be a we bit sensitive. So could.. ye please... staaaaaaa... " His voice trailed off and a second later he fell to one knee, and the rational side of his mind noted that it might be to late as a pleasant warmth started to build in the base of his skull and wash down his neck. Ashen's ears were infact sensitive to touch, so much so that they tended to cause an extensive Endorphin rush, leaving the changing moon on a particularly strong high. And the drunken terrestrial's tender ministrations was triggering that rush in a rather powerful way. A second later his eyes diluted, and he in inadvertently dropped Calliope when he loss strength in his arms.

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

#, as written by Sepokku
Patience had never been Astrid’s strong suit, she had always been a lady of action, and biding her time was always a last resort. However, what came next was something she needed to do, in order to establish how this temporary pack was going to work. Perhaps she’d forgotten herself slightly earlier, admist the stress and drink. That was to be remedied now, however.

Flicking her tongue with anticipation as her fellow Lunar approached, now was the time to act. With a shimmer of essence, flooding her form and veins, Astrid darted forward, uncoiling from Nagasani’s hand to lunge at her fellow Lunar’s leg. All the while, resuming Beastwoman form once more, with a sweep of her hand, Ashen Sky’s leg was yanked out from under him.

Continuing the momentum, and with a twitch of her tail, she threw the Lunar over the balcony, into the awaiting fountain of water. Dusting off her hands, as if having finished a very difficult job, she admonished him with a motherly tone. ”A pup in heat, should take a bath to cool off.”

With a slightly pleased look Astrid turned to the Solar, resuming human form with a glitter of anima and pressing her right fist across her heart. ”I’m very sorry for earlier Princess.” With a gesture towards Nagasani and the warmest smile she could muster, her words continued ”Miss Nagasani here will take you somewhere to change where you’re comfortable?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: The Artisan That Which Souls Cling

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#, as written by Sepokku
The sun had nearly dipped below the horizon and the time was nigh to begin. The Artisan That Which Souls Cling began by spreading about a circle of bone dust, about five feet in diameter and seating himself in its center. With a measure of effort, pure essence sliced open a rift to the Underworld drawing forth a familiar spirit, one that sometimes crossed the Necromancer's path in the Underworld. The summoning lasted for all of a few seconds. The spirit cast its gaze upon Artisan, and swiftly vanished back to whence it came.


Left with express instructions to ensure no one interrupted the master, Artisan's servants hung idly around the hallway that led to the meditation chamber. It was almost sundown, and he had been told to return an hour after the sun went down. It was now that time, and the servant began ambling down to bring retrieve the young Master.


As the servant came into the room, he found his Master on the ground in a state of perturbed silence. With a vague gesture, Artisan told the servant to lead him back to the surface so he may rejoin the... undesirables.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: Nimin "Zeri" Hedrox Character Portrait: Mirror Leih Regium Vertarria

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#, as written by Wake
The water of the fountain swashed and spilled over the side as the pirate flailed about inside of it. Muscle control, lossed in due to the lingering euphoric sensation of having his ears rubbed, eluded him for a brief if slightly terrifying series of seconds as he swallowed crystal clear water and tried to right himself before he drowned. Finally Ashen surfaced, sputtering liquid and curses both with equal virulence as he wheezed for air.

"Tha bleedin' 'ell Astrid!"The changing moon coughed. "Tha 'ell was tha for?!" He sat up in the fountain, now thoroughly drenched from head to toe. The waterlogged clothes clung to his body, and if he had presence of mind he would have been reminded of Lux's own plunge into a similar water decoration that ultimately set this whole fiasco into motion. He began wringing out the white shirt that now hung tightly to his chest and muttered curses at Astrid, handmaidens, Astrid, Dragons, stupid quest, and Astrid.

This series of venomous mutterings ceased when he heard someone directly above him clear their throat. Ashen paused mid squeeze to look up at the emerald green form of the earth elemental, Burnished Mantis. The insectiod chamberlain, despite not having any tongue or lips, made a small clicking sound with his mouth in dull surprise. "Well, I see your group seems to have developed a fondness for our water works, but I must request from now on that our guest stay out of the fountains for the duration of your visit."

While Ashen's face flushed red with embarrassment, the chamberlain tilted his head upwards to look at the balcony above where the other three exalts and an increasingly mortified by the second looking quintet of handmaidens stared back down at him. "Now if all of you gentlewomen are done disrupting the peace of the lords halls, streaking about the palace in drunken stupors and generally making complete fools of yourselves in the Censors name!" The sharp raising of his voice caused the quintet to flinch. "I have the item that Lady Astird requested, and a message from Lord Fakharu. An additional number of exalts will be joining you for this errand. The lord shall introduce you at the docks. If you ladies would kind clean yourselves up and make your way there, it would be most appreciated."




At that same time, another boat pulled into port at the same dock as the first ship landed. This one crewed by actual humans. At it's bow the captain, a man with god-blooded linage by the name of Steel-Sun, frowned as the vessel came into mooring. He was already unhappy that he had been sidelined for the rescue of Lady Amarel he had even further frustrated with being given the task of ferrying a few of the late additions to the actual expedition for her retrieval. He had kept his comments to himself though, even if he struggled to keep his distaste from his expression, and turned back to the passengers aboard the deck. "As promised, we have arrived. His lordship and the rest of your party should meet you here soon."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: Nimin "Zeri" Hedrox Character Portrait: Mirror Leih Regium Vertarria

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#, as written by Sepokku
Though it was immensely satisfying to toss Ashen over the balcony after the frustration of losing Calliope, the sudden appearance of Burnished Mantis reminded Astrid why she was here. With a deft leap the lunar chieftain threw herself over the balcony, catching herself on the railing with her feet, so that she swung to the lower level, landing beside the Mantis spirit on all four. "Of course Emerald One, we're headed there, now that we're not waiting on you."


After retrieving the item from the Mantis Spirit, Astrid resumed her human form once more and swiftly made her way to the docks, testing the mechanism on her newly-equipped grieves and gauntlets as she ran. It felt strange to rely on more traditional weaponry, rather than what Luna had gifted her or Lem had trained her with. However the equipment was well-made and responded to her needs as well as could be hoped.

Exactly what kinds of people the new Exalts would be tolled heavily on Astrid's mind. It would be odd for it to be more Lunars, it was rare for more than two of them to appear in one place without prior notice, and that had already happened. Though the Censor's summon wasn't really normal. As long as it wasn't more Abyssals, she couldn't really complain though. Members of the Wyld Hunt might be problematic also, but she doubted they'd be plucky enough to make trouble on the Censor's home turf.

The docks came into sight, a busy ferry seemed to have arrived not long before, and was bustling with port activity. Finding a spot a ways above the ship, with ample view of the port, the Lunar watched and waited. If the newly arrived Exalts were treated at all like her group had been, they wouldn't be difficult to make out from this vantage point. If they were particularly observant, it wouldn't be hard to see the unusually lithe woman perched on a nearby building.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: Nimin "Zeri" Hedrox Character Portrait: Mirror Leih Regium Vertarria

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The last of the salty sea air drew up over the docks as Nimin looked down across the pier, a new load of the ships in sight pulling in. With a small sigh of relief being breathed as he took another puff from his pipe as the winds pulled it up and away.
The last few days of waiting had been tedious to say the least for the particular solar. He'd spent only a few days in the last port on his way in from being summoned. Having done nothing but ply his skills up the coast before the summons arrived. The request still fresh in his mind, just as the last pang of tobacco swats at the tip of his tongue and he withdraws the pipe, the lone table which he sat at was about done with him.

He dropped a few coins on the table to pay for his meal. Something that had long since gone from the world, though using the table was well enough a reason to keep his place and as he knocked the last of his pipes ash loose. He stood and approached the pier. This was a new day for him. After traveling alone for so long, he'd already been wondering what kind of new faces he'd get to meet and new kinds of people he'd get to treat. Other exalted always offered new challenges and this day he'd get his chance to see all the new faces he could handle.

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

#, as written by Castle
Ashen’s grasp on her loosened, and Calliope flopped to the ground. She sat there stunned at first, looking up at the pair. The terrestrial was... caressing Ashen? And as a result, Ashen was incapacitated. She began crawling, in a military style, out from under Lux and her new Lunar friend. Once she was clear, Calliope rolled over and propped herself on her elbows. The princess picked a piece of long, white hair out of her mouth, staring up at the display in annoyance. She sighed and rose to her feet, but before she could even turn to walk away, Astrid snatched Ashen by the leg and threw him over the edge.

Calliope gasped. Splash. She lunged to the edge of the balcony and peered down at the fountain. Ashen bobbed to the surface. He was fine. Calliope turned around, nonchalantly, her gaze cast downward as not to draw any attention to herself. How much attention could a naked, pink Gladan attract? She began to walk forward, but came to halt when she realized she was face to face with Astrid. Calliope took a step back, but as Astrid was no longer in her beast shape, Calliope was able to relax. She was still alert, but relaxed.

”I’m very sorry for earlier Princess.” Astrid smiled creepily. “Miss Nāgasāni here will take you somewhere to change where you’re comfortable?”

Calliope corrected her posture, her chin upturned in a prideful manner.

“Yes,” she said confidently. “That will suffice.” Calliope carried on, walking past Astrid, unaffected. She joined Nāgasāni, and the two of them left the corridor together silently.m

Setting

Characters Present

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

0.00 INK

Throughout the bulk of the shenanigans, Lux was quiet, but giggled to herself, unable to stop. She hadn’t been expecting any of what occurred...Burnished Mantis’ comment was funny. They were making fools of themselves, weren’t they? Oh, well if they were.... They were! Things would be okay; they were all going to go on this mission together and were going to come back successful. Amarel would be saved, one way or another. Whilst Calliope wandered off with Nāgasāni to get into proper dress again, Lux watched, not having moved from where she’d been standing. Right...Burnished Mantis wanted “all the ladies” to get cleaned up before departure...and there were more Exalted to greet.... Huh, “all the ladies?”

....odd wording. But, that was neither here nor there!

Oh, more people to meet...more people for their journey. She did need to get cleaned up, didn’t she…? She didn’t have shoes on anymore since she’d kicked them off earlier when she was trying to give chase to Calliope.... Lux’s giggle fit had since ceased as she mindlessly started to nibble upon the knuckle of her thumb, avoiding her nails since they were still polished. Her expression was vacant and she was unmoving, seemingly lost in some kind of daze as her mind blanked to the goings-on around her. Certainly, her mind had cleared a bit from its utterly drunken stupor, but she was still rather impaired....

It wasn’t til Lux heard someone clear their throat, more than once, that she returned to awareness. Lux blinked a few times, removing her knuckle from her lips, seeing one of the handmaidens approaching her. Miss Vengalu, specifically. “Lady Lux...perhaps we should take a page from Calliope’s book, and get you back into your adventuring clothes…?”

Her adventuring...oh, right! She was still in that pretty dress of hers.... Lux very well couldn’t go save Amarel in such a pretty dress, lest she ruin it. The little, tipsy Fire Aspect let out a goofy laugh, and nodded in agreement. “ S’probably a good idea! Let’s...do that!” she half-bellowed in response.

Lux’s apparent eagerness at getting changed caused the rather serious Vengalu to crack a small smile...before she silently held out a hand to the girl, that Lux took without hesitation, following the handmaid.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Ashen Sky Character Portrait: Astrid Grünewald Character Portrait: Lux Fiala Character Portrait: Calliope Lordes Character Portrait: Mirror Leih Regium Vertarria

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Running was all Mirror seemed to accomplish since the fall of her kingdom. No matter where she seemed to go, the immaculate order was never far behind. Perhaps crossing the vast water between continents was the only option. However, finding a ship that would be willing to carry not only an extra passenger but two(one of which being massive and heavy) proved to be immensely challenging. Eventually her luck panned out and she boarded The Dawns Edge with Clove. 


The Dawn's Edge lead to a very interesting ride across the ocean. The trip over the seas wasn't exactly easy for Mirror as she had never been on a boat before. The solar didn't feel sea sick but definitely wasn't steady on her feet either. Ocean travel was something she could get accustomed to. Could and probably would have to. The ride to the dock may have been slightly rough, but the view was breath taking. Glittering water surrounded every side of the ship. Until they had reached the harbor. 


Mirror and Clove tenderly walked of the boat side by side. Right in the harbor was a peculiar sight. A group of people surrounding a person soaking wet. They seemed familiar with each other and one even seemed to be amused by the situation. Within the group was a woman who carried herself differently than the rest. She seemed a bit  distant almost. Like she came from a higher place. Mirror recognized this stance from many different meetings her family would have for diplomatic reasons. Could this other person also be royalty? 


Above the group, on the edge of a rooftop, was a woman with stunningly long onyx hair. Perhaps this stranger was watching the buzzing world below her. 


The Captain, watching his 'guest' take their first steps off deck, noticed the apparent hesitancy in the young eclipse. It may have been his own bias against exalts in general but he personally felt that the young girl and her oversized friend had been more trouble than they were worth. His lord had ordered him to pick her up in a rather speedy extraction from a her pursuit by the wyld hunt. Trying to smuggle a solar out of a city being swarmed by immaculate monks had been a hassle in and of it self. Doing it with her big hulking Goliath of a golem had been nearly a nightmare. They had to knock out a few rooms below deck to even fit the damn thing on board. And for what? Some dainty princess who seemed like she'd never held a blade in anger in her life? But orders had been orders, and Steel Sun's loyalty to the censor was unquestionable. And as it was he needed her off the deck and mingling with the rest of her future 'crew'.


His arm's crossed the cosair deftly stepped beside her, opposite of her massive 'friend', and looked down the docks at the group that was slowly trickling towards them. "This your first time seeing other celestial exalts?" He coolly asked her. "There might even be other solars down there. As I understand it they are going to be your companions for the next month."


Though he kept his tone even and calm, Mirror could sense the captain's frustrations with her. It was best to get a move on to prevent hassling the man further. After all, she and Clove had more than put him out. Dealing with someone not only on the run, but also fairly well known is a struggle enough... But to add a gigantic creature to the mix? Well... There weren't even words to cover that. "It is." She replied smoothly. "Thank you for helping my friend and I." 


Trying not to appear too stiff, Mirror approached the group with Clove. She waited for everyone to finish their conversations before introducing herself. "Excuse me." She was very nervous as she spoke but her voice was unwavering and her posture was perfect. "I was asked to meetup with a group of people. I was wondering if, perhaps, you were that group?" She asked before realizing she never stated who she was. "My name is Mirror Leigh Regium Vertarria."