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Valerys Astraryen

Guardian 2 - Descendant of the Priestess

259 views · located in Eden

a character in “Guardians of the Divine”, as played by Chrian Blaire

Description

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filertextGlory, fame, wealth, all are but insignificant. My only dream is to search for the pieces of eternity.
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ROLE: Guardian 2 | FC: Yaha-kui zaShunina | Seikaisuru Kado
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✘ ✘ ✘ There's no treasure in the world greater than knowledge.xImage
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R O L E
Descendant of the Priestess

P A R T N E R
Divine 2 - Adonis

G E N D E R
Male

A G E
20

S E X U A L I T Y
Sapiosexual

R E A S O N
Being the bearer of the title of a Guardian has been the tradition of the Astraryen line and its' branches for hundreds of years, and Valerys is simply following the steps of his predecessors as the duty given to him the moment he was born. But what he really takes joy in is the fact that he gets to work with some of the wisest beings in the entire world, seeing them, more of a company than just some royal pets.

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ImagexThere is nothing that is more powerful than the truth. ✘ ✘ ✘
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ImageXH E I G H TXXXXXXXXXXXW E I G H T
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XXH A I R colorXXXXXXXXXXXXXXE Y E color
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XXGENERAL A P P E A R A N C E








Despite his efforts to remain as low as possible, it is still very difficult for Valerys to stand within a crowd and not being noticed or recognized by anyone. Perhaps it is due to the aristocratic look and charisma that the Astraryens have fortunately been blessed with ever since the dawn of their clan. And it is not wrong to say that even though he is not so 'pure' anymore - as says his predecessors, appearance wise, Valerys represents all the traits one would find in an Astraryen perfectly. To name a few: white hair as the snow, skin as fair as the silk which dons almost no scars nor marks, scarlet eyes recalls to the gleaming rubies. The only, but rather noticeably, features that distinguish him from the rest of his family is his impressive height - inherited from his "outsider of a father" and a slender, balanced physique that is much more flexible and agile than it looks - thanks to his years of secret martial arts and swordsmanship training with his uncle.

In terms of attire, most of the time one will find Valerys wearing the full body suit specifically designed for the concurrent Guardian of the Astraryen family, two golden rings on his hands and an earring on his left ear - the items that his grandfather insist to never take off to distinguish himself from the "unprivileged" ones and the signature robe of the Guardians.


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Upon the first meeting, Valerys is exactly what one would expect from someone who was born into a long line of noble - poise, compose, elegant and religious. But against the generic stereotypical mindset of the people that being an aristocrat often also associates with arrogance and vanity - and this seems true for some of his family, really - Valerys leads a life of simpleness and frugality that may seem very odd for a noble, especially one with wealth and respect as his family. He always regards himself as a seeker, not of the extravagance of gold nor the splendors of fame, but of wisdom.

True to this, Valerys is probably among the most studious of people you can find in the whole Eden. There are very few instances that you can find him not hypothesizing or practicing over some matters that almost no-one from the so-called normal people may seem to bother. Call him a nerd, if you will, he probably would agree wholeheartedly. His obsession for intelligence, combines with his belief that it may come in all shapes and sizes, enable him to see all beings - be it human or Beasts - as equal. As long as someone shows him that they are capable of intelligence, then no matter how unsightly their appearance may be, Valerys will consider them as beautiful.

The search for wisdom requires one to be both firm and flexible at the same time, and this applies to his everyday life, knowing when strict logical deduction is necessary and when it is better for the heart to take the leads. Valerys often exudes an aura of maturity unusual for someone as young as him, calmly solving problems and rarely ever let himself lose him temper or allow negativity to cloud his line of thoughts. With a good eye for observation and rather perfectionistic point of view, he can often pick out the smallest errors in one whole picture - though this has often bring him more troubles than not.

But that is not to say Valerys is a complete goody two-shoes. Cunning and manipulative are also in themselves traits of intelligence, and Valerys would be a liar if he says that he is not drawn to these "bad" forms of wisdom. While he is conscious enough not to let himself dwell too much into them, there will be times when he would have to resort to them when all else fail.

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ImagexUltimate freedom, is something that exists in the afterlife. ✘ ✘ ✘
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┍━━━X LOVE & HATEX ━━━┑

It goes without saying that Valerys finds reading and studying more comforting than anything in the world, as he will most definitely be found in the Holy Church library or in a lecture hall. He also holds a taste for arts and music, finding them good means for relaxation. On the other hand, false words and lies are what he considered the polar opposite of wisdom rather than stupidity, and for that, Valerys abhors ingenuity more than anything in the world. He can be very patient and forgiving, but if one ever dismay him by dishonesty, rest assure that they will definitely earn a well-placed position in his bad book. His also has a distaste for unnecessary luxuries, with his motto being "less is best" and does not hold people who are prone to panic and are impatient in high regards.

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✘ ✘ ✘ ...and perhaps, even the freed birds may never truly belongs to the sky.xImage
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Q U I R K ;
Hair Gripping; Valerys has a habit of gripping the bang of his hair whenever he needs to think deeply over a matter.
Note Taking; He always carries with him a small notebook to write down the brief details of anything he finds interesting.


S T R E N G T H ;
Photographic Memory; Valerys was gifted with a superb memory since his birth, and along with years of learning, he can store a great body of information inside his head and recall them with just the simplest of details.
Swordsmanship; He was secretly taught the art of swords since 14 by his uncle - one of the former Guardians, hence he is quite adept with an edge weapon and can hold himself well.
Musical Instruments; As a tradition, all of his family has to learn to play an instrument since they were young. For Valerys, he can play the piano the best and has basic knowledge of some other instruments.


W E A K N E S S ;
Fault Finding; Due to his rather straightforward demeanor, Valerys has a habit of pointing out other people's faults, usually with a straight face. He does this with everyone indiscriminately and this more often than not has caused him quite some troubles.
Perfectionist; Valerys aims for everything that caught his eyes to be of the best they could and even some simplest of things like a misaligned portrait or a set of books not arranged in alphabetical order are enough to irk him.
Insomnia; For some unknown reasons, Valerys suffers from occasional insomnia since young and while this would allow him to have more time to study, it is not rare to catch him not being at his top shape due to lack of sleep.


F E A R ;
Amnesia; The amount of knowledge Valerys had accumulated is admirable, and it is what he takes pride in the most. The scenario where suddenly all of them just disappear, leaving naught but void behind dreads him more than anything.
Corruption; With the right amount of knowledge, one could become an unstoppable force. But all powers share one thing in common and that is how they tempt their users to astray.


S E C R E T ;
Astraryen "Curse"; The consequence that resulted from the many consanguineous betrothals within the Astraryens are what they will go to any lengths to keep hidden, and Valerys is no exception to this taboo.
Divines' Myth; With the access to almost every book within the Grand Library of Eden and some especially rare occasions when he got to catch a glimpse on a few forbidden texts, along with his dedicated analysis, Valerys can now safely hypothesize that the myth regards to the history between the Divines, the Priestess and the Siblings is partly, or completely, fabricated. But until he gets more solid proofs to base on, he will keep his lips sealed about this.

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ImagexIn the end, fate is but an ephemeral thing. ✘ ✘ ✘
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__F A M I L YTalar Astraryen // 70 // Grandfather__
Aerys Celnaryen // 50 (at death) // Father__
Elenna Astraryen // 39 // Mother__
Vaharys Kargaryen // 35 // Uncle__
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__It is a very well-known fact that the Astraryens along with its' two lower branches, the Celnaryens and Kargaryens, are the direct descendants of the First Priestess, and it has been the pride that they simply refused to give up for hundreds of years. The pressure to maintain the purity of blood is very clear among the members of the clan, and the method they have been using for that end is simply unthinkable.

Marriages between those of the same blood.

There is a saying among the three branches that goes, "Anytime a descendant of the Priestess is born, fate flips a coin." The consequence for their tampering with one of the greatest taboos of nature is regarded as a "curse" that had been plaguing them ever since their decision to uphold the tradition. For the most part, children born into the Astraryens will suffer from a mental or physical instability that will begin to become more and more visible as they mature, and will eventually claim their lives at one point. But for a few very rare instances, that "curse" could become a "blessing" - the ones who were fortunately born without being struck by the "curse" will live on healthily and will leave an impactful mark in the history of Eden.

More than 20 years ago, they had yet another consanguineous marriage between Elenna - who was already an incestuous offspring between her father Talar and his twin sister, and Aerys - the first son of the Celnaryen branch. Of course, Talar was not entirely happy with this decision as in his view, despite the two lower branches are technically of the same blood with him, they have lost their "purity" and are considered as "outsiders", but knowing of the cause of the "curse" that had caused them dire for a new heir, he had no other choices. This betrothal had spanned four children before Valerys, but as expected, they all are "cursed" - with three of them died before they even reach their puberty, while one of them had gone insane and is now confined to an asylum. All hopes were nearly lost until their fifth child, Valerys Astraryen, was born.

And, much to the unspeakable joy of the whole family, he was a "blessing" - although at the terrible cost of Elenna's confinement to a wheelchair and heavy suffer of schizophrenia, and Aerys' demise only a few years after the birth of his youngest child, also due to the effect of the "curse" catching up to him.

Growing up, Valerys was given everything he needed without so much of raising a finger, but at the cost of his own freedom. He was chained to his duty as the next in line for the heir of the clan, and a perfect one at that in the eyes of his cynical grandfather Talar. He detests all the wealth and prestige that had been holding him back, and was drawn to knowledge and wisdom as his escapades from his repetitive days of worshiping the Priestess and listening to all the wonderful things she had done to Eden which he had always been doubting over how much of them are the truthful or just merely fabrication. All questions he had were turned down and all of his doubts were reprimanded with no consideration.

All the while being forced to be the center of attention for nearly every second of his life and having constantly reminded of how "privileged" he is compared to the majority of Eden, there was nothing Valerys desired more than an opportunity to freely spread his wing, and to truly acquire "true" knowledge. And he came across that chance at 14 upon meeting his uncle Vaharys of the Kargaryen branch, who was a former Guardian from the 73th cycle and now a High Commander in the ranks of the Imperial Army.

Learning about the magnificence and wisdom of the prized trophies of the whole Kingdom - the Divines, during his apprenticeship in the art of sword from the man, Valerys was then aspired to become one as well when the time is right. Of course, Talar couldn't be happier upon hearing his grandson's decision, for it has been more than half a century since the last time the Astraryens has a Guardian, and did everything in his ability to ensure he earns a spot in the upcoming selection of the 75th generation of Guardians.

Now, donning the title as one of the four newest, there was never a better chance for Valerys to both appease his grandfather and to work with some of the most ancient, wisest beings in the entire world. The future is yet to come and the journey for wisdom ahead of him is certainly filled with uncertainties.

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ImagexThe journey goes on, until the end of dawn. ✘ ✘ ✘
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CS - Verix
CS Edits - Scra
Inspiration - Verix & Scra
Played - Chrian Blaire
Dialogue #D33D3D
Thoughts #c19e9e
Beast Language #004c4c

So begins...

Valerys Astraryen's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adonis Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Ki Character Portrait: Ofelia Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Lyssa Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen

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Eden is a Holy Land that has ruled in peace and prosperity for generations. As other countries have come and gone Eden withstood the test of time. The poorest of Eden’s citizens are living comfortably, without much struggle. Their land blooms beautifully and their crops are plentiful no matter the season. No droughts, no natural disasters, nothing that can cause Eden to suffer has happened since its birth. How can such a country be so wealthy? Everyone knows it is because of the inhabitants that live in Eden, Beasts. Mightier than any human, creatures of unnatural abilities and beauty. No country dares to fight against Eden knowing that such monsters are its enemies. Beasts have been apart of Eden’s history since the beginning, slaves only to that country and kept close so that no other land can get their hands on them. The Beasts of Eden have become a common name when referring to the monsters. Eden uses them for everything: soldiers, slaves, servants, workers, pets. Beasts have been integrated into that society. But everyone wonders how Eden could control such powerful creatures. And those countries who have lived long enough have answered all the same, Divines. Divines, the gods of Eden. Deities of unimaginable powers that not even the Beasts could withstand. The Beasts worship and adore them, willing to be enslaved by humans just so their sovereigns can be kept safe. Though presented as mere trophies, other countries know if they ever seriously went to war with Eden the Divines would be there to defend it. Eden is untouchable if the Divines are their protectors. And Eden knew this.

How do you keep these god-like deities in check? Guardians. Eden’s most praised citizens, who have sacrificed part of their lives to seal the Divines powers and keep them chained to Eden. But such power comes with a price, and so, the Guardian must be replaced every ten years. It is now the start of the 75th generation of Guardians. A generation that will go down in history as, the Last Guardians.

Winter is now starting to turn into Spring and gentle warm breezes are passing through Eden. The 75th Guardians have just finished fixing up their rooms in their new Temple. They have been called to an audience with the King, Priestess, and some other officials who wish to witness their first interaction with the Divines in the audience room. Since acquiring their roles this is the first time the Guardians have gotten to personally met their Divines. Now with the audience seated and the Guardians patiently waiting in the center of the room, it is time for the Divines, guided by Beast servants, to arrive.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen

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Dialogue- #8A2BE2 ~ Thoughts- #337147


Galaya, by all appearances, looked to be as calm as a cucumber. She was standing in the middle of an audience chamber with numerous amount of eyes looking at her and the other Guardians and was wearing her guardian robes, along with one of the new outfits she had made for her. Apparently her current wardrobe she possessed wasn't even close enough to wear to these types of affairs. That did not surprise Laya though. She had been prepped for this ever since she made the decision to apply for a Guardian role. The head mistress of her former orphanage made sure of that. Laya was relieved when she found out she could still dress in her 'regular wear' when inside of her new home for the next 10 years. She wasn't used to dressing up like a noble, so even with all the training, she still felt out of her element here. So even though she looked poised right now, inside she wanted to run back to her quarters, away from all of the eyes of the audience. She wanted to meet the Divine under her care and get it done and over with.

Looking toward the direction where the Divines were about to appear, she could also feel a different set of nerves rising. And it was fear. Oh she wasn't afraid of Beasts and Divines because of their nature. She was half beast herself after all. She was terrified that one of them would figure out she was half beast. She was happy that no one has suspected she wasn't all human, yet. She did hear stories of what happened to hybrids. They generally had very short lifespans. So she had be very careful to hide her Mermaid traits. It was a blessing that she looked human. While she had never seen a Mermaid in person, she had seen pictures of them and in human form, the females tended to be very curvy with light colored skin with scales and green and blue coloring. Laya only produced scales if she was in water for a long time. It always killed a part of her to stop swimming. She could honestly do it all day since she loved it so much. Right now though she wasn't even thinking about swimming. She was focusing on how to hide her mer side from these Divines. Her instincts told her though that it would be hard to hide that part of her.

These thoughts led her to thinking of why she signed up to be a Guardian in the first place. After researching as much as she could, which wasn't as much as she hoped, Galaya learned enough to know that all four Divines were smart, especially the two oldest. So there was some relief there that Laya had been assigned to the youngest for her training.

~Laya, why ARE you here?~ she asked herself.

The truth was she didn't know. When she first heard the announcement, her instincts kicked into high gear and told her to do this. Her mind questioned her sanity of the decision every step of the way. She was actually surprised she did end up being selected as a guardian, only because she had never attempted anything like this. All of her teachers and especially the headmistress of her orphanage were very proud of her though. While Galaya definitely didn't sign up for this for the money, she was happy to have the chance to donate some of her funds back to the Orphanage that was her home. She knew this job was going to be very demanding though. When she first met the Guardian she was replacing, the person did look like they had the weight of the world on them and the moment she felt that same 'weight', she could remember seeing relief in the former Guardian's eyes. The pain the 'curse' she initially felt was something she never felt before, but thankfully she managed to hide that pain for the rest of the ceremony and once she was allowed back to her quarters, she slept for a good twelve hours because she had been exhausted and writhing in pain by that point. Three weeks later she had gotten accustom to hiding the inner pain she felt. She just hoped her beast side would make it a bit more bearable.

Standing next to the other Guardians, she couldn't help but glance over to see how they were doing. She already met all of them and it still felt surreal to know she was standing next to one noble and one royal. When she first met Princess Adelaide, she was honestly shocked for she never met a single noble, much less a royal. Oh she had recognized her immediately though for she had seen pictures of the royal family. She found herself to be on her best behavior when around her because she intimidated her for sure. Lord Valerys wasn't as intimidating, but he still unnerved her a bit because she learned he was a noble too. Junichi was the only one she felt somewhat comfortable around since he was basically a commoner like her. However, she did find out his older brother was one of the previous Guardians. Still for the three weeks there, she mostly kept to herself and wanted to learn as much as possible about her new home. Her new quarters shocked her for it was much larger then her room back at the orphanage. She didn't have extravagant taste so her quarters reflected her more simpler tastes. Favorite part of her room though were the large windows. She hated feeling 'caged in', so the windows helped feel more at home.

As her thoughts continued to move on and on, her gaze returned back to the front of her as she patiently waited for the Divines.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen

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#, as written by Tanman
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”What a farce…” Jun thought to himself silently, shifting his posture for what felt like the hundredth time. This was the part of the job that they hadn’t informed him of. Lots of standing around listening to other people talk in circles. Of course, he’d expected to be caught in political meetings and to have to rub shoulders with the elite now he was considered an equal; but even he couldn’t believe the amount of pointless posturing they’d done. It’d been three weeks now of dealing with overly affectionate nobles attempting to gain his favour, and not once had he even had the chance to speak with his Divine. He could understand the need to exchange pleasantries with his fellow Guardians, but this was all a bit excessive.

Relaxing his stance a bit, Jun glanced down the line of Guardians. He wondered if they were as irritated as he was at being made to parade around as some sort of trophy. An ironic thought, given what their jobs were. First in line was Adelaide - Lady Greywater - She was standing in place like it was second nature to her. Probably was, given her heritage. Although they all had the chance to mingle, Jun wasn’t the most sociable young fellow and so he hadn’t spoken with any of them at length. Just enough to get a basic feel for who they were. Intuition told him the rest of the story, and in this case, it was telling him that the Princess wasn’t one to be trifled with. Or maybe that was just the intimidation that a royal presented? After all, she looked soft. Sure, she was probably smarter than Jun and had this etiquette stuff down pat, but when push came to shove, he was confident he could handle her if they had to clash wits or blades. She was probably another sheltered and pampered child like those other women the nobles kept introducing him to in a bid to attract his fancy. It was disgraceful really. They lacked the drive to be their own person, so he’d never accept a fake like that.

Turning his attention away from Adelaide, next Jun focussed on Valerys. After all, it wasn’t exactly exciting standing around, so it made sense to entertain himself by mulling over his thoughts and observing his companions. Descendent of the Priestess from long ago, Jun couldn’t imagine what sort of upbringing that would be like. Still, in the brief time that he’d met the man, Junichi found him to be annoying. It was hard to tell if it was his demeanour or what, but something about the way he always seemed to be scrutinizing Jun irked him. Still, despite any misgivings Junichi may have had about the man, he’d have to learn to live with him given that they’d be spending the next 10 years together. All of them would. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too much of a bother, and maybe Jun was just being testy given his uncomfortability with the situation.

Finally, Jun’s eyes fell on to Galaya, a little lady who seemed to have as modest an upbringing as him. Well, if you ignored a certain someone’s presence in his life. Regardless, she seemed the most out of place in the room. Even if he was adjusting his posture, Junichi held a confident stance, even before the many eyes of the audience. Valerys and Adelaide were equally as poised, but somehow, Galaya seemed small and uncertain, perhaps shy at such a large gathering. Maybe it was just his imagination though, or an attempt to protect his ego that someone else looked more out of place than he did. Regardless, it was nice to have someone who wasn’t a noble around. He’d had enough of the pleasantries and would happily go for a more candid conversation about something that actually mattered. For now though, there was no escape. Hopefully this would be the last thing before he could start leading his own life as the 75th Guardian.

Inwardly sighing, Jun’s mind continued to wander, his eyes drifting over the crowd of onlookers. All stupid, gawking faces obsessed with power and politics, ever searching for the next move that would help keep their status. He didn’t exactly care what they thought, but at the same time, he had to prove himself. That’s why…

“…!” For a moment, Junichi’s composure broke, but soon enough, he returned to a stern façade, narrowing his eyes and focusing on the far door where the divines would make their entrance. So, he was still here? Couldn’t even let him handle this by himself? “Tch…” Jun’s noise of irritation was slight, but may have been heard by the two closest to him. Reiji… Just what was he thinking? In the 10 years it had been since he became Guardian, Junichi felt like he didn’t understand him at all. Even now, after having gotten to spend some time with him due to the ceremony, Jun’s frustration with his sibling failed to fade. The ritual was just to transfer the curse that was all. At least, that’s what Junichi had thought. And yet, in that split moment where his brother had whispered to him, there was more than just a name.

“I’ll be counting on you.” The words and memory flashed through Jun’s mind, and he found himself unintentionally tensing his body. Just what exactly did he mean by that? Another way to exert his superiority over him? As if he was doing it for him of all people! Reiji could count on Junichi all he wanted, but he’d surpass his expectations. He was the Guardian now, not him. Jun would find his own way forward, not the path his brother laid out for him. The next time he was in front of all these nobles like this, he wouldn’t just be the 74th Guardian’s Brother. They’d all know his name.

Staring down the door to the audience chamber, a faint smirk crossed Jun’s face as he awaited her. All he needed now was his divine. That would be the start of his change, and the beginning of his story.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen

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"Though wisdom is a house built; and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge shall every room be filled with precious and pleasantries."

- Proverbs 24:3

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Valerys
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Descendant of the Priestess


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xxxxx"When old man Talar introduced you to me six years ago, all I saw was a sissy boy who couldn't even pick up a stick." A tall, white-haired man wearing a long, cyan coat with several medallions on the left side of his chest and a long, silver rapier donned on the side of his waist smiled to Valerys. As he patted his shoulder, one could see a sense of pride clearly visible on his face. "Now look at you... It's incredible how fast time flies, hmm?"

"This was nothing, really, Uncle. It puts me at ease to see that you are here, too." He nodded back to his uncle -- Sir Vaharys Kargaryen, once a Guardian himself two cycles prior and now a High Commander within the ranks of the Eden Imperial Army. "The lessons you've taught me, I promise that I'll put them to good use."

"Don't mention it, Val." Vaharys moved to put his hand on his nephew's shoulder. "From now on, you will see for yourself whether or not what I've told you before is true. You've always learned well enough, so I needn't explain to you anymore. Listen to me, there is still a great deal of things ahead of you to be bestowed upon you. Just be ready when they come, like you've always been. It's a completely different world from this moment on."

"I understand, Uncle. That's why I'm here, isn't it?" Valerys nodded to his uncle before he continued. "Though, it's not like we're not going to see each other much. In fact, I imagine it'll be the opposite, so I hope you will still have my back."

His uncle laughed. "You know I don't have time to sit here and babysit you like before, so don't count on that much. You're a man of your own league now, give yourself more credit and lose the naivety. Show 'em what the blessing of our family is worth." Vaharys smiled, and Valerys nodded back at his uncle's word of encouragement in appreciation. He knew what was awaiting him was not going to be like anything he'd ever faced before. He was there for a reason, and no obstacles were going to keep him down until all of his ends were met.

It all felt like every moment, ever since he was born, had lead to this instance. As if Fate was finally allowing him to achieve what he had been looking for his whole life. He remembered back to when he got a chance to stand there watching the meeting between the Divines and their then newest Guardians for the first time. It was when he realized that this is the best -- and arguably the only -- way for him to finally reach the truth. The zenith of all that was wise in the whole wide world.

In the past seventy-five cycles, there had always been at least one member from his family and its three branches among the ranks of the Guardians. Even then, there were but very rare instances where something truly odd had happened, so there was no real foundation for Valerys to think that this time was going to be any different. He was certain that he wasn't going to have any regrets.

"High Commander, Lord Valerys." A servant walked up, bowing as he approached. "Please excuse me, but the Divines will be here soon and His Majesty is requesting every piece in its proper place, please kindly return to your positions."

The both of them nodded as he took his leave just as promptly as he had arrived.

"Well, it's time. You nervous?"

"I suppose that I would be lying if I said that I wasn't."

"It's time to man up, kiddo. Go and face your destiny, or however they say it in those you books you used to read. I'll see you around -- soon, and you'd better be in your top shape by then." Vaharys patted his shoulder before he returned to his post at the Priestess' side, while Valerys moved to his own at the center of the audience room, joining his fellow Guardians.

His thoughts wandered back to the day of the Induction Ceremony -- which was a very long and asphyxiating day, filled with seemingly endless rituals, all of which seemed rather pointless from Valerys' point of view. Judging from the looks of his colleagues who are standing in tandem with him back then, it occurred to him that he was not the only one feeling that way. Of course, he had memorized every facet of every detail of the Ceremony, but to have read about it and to actually experience it were two completely different things. The praying and the fasting weren't so bad, but it had truly been a bore having to read all the scrolls about the history of Eden again, scrolls he had already committed to heart by the age of five. Not that he had let it show, he actually cared about his image more than other people may have thought.

After moving into the Temple, he had soon expected that there was going to be a summon like this but was pretty willing to comply to any orders there were. It was simply how he had been taught to live. For Valerys, any place where he could elude the presence of his cynical grandfather was the place to be. Not to mention that -- as with any other new environments he was placed into -- there was a great deal that he had learned. Yet for him, it was more of a warm up than anything.

If what Valerys had anticipated became reality, then this would soon be the moment where his journey to uncovering true wisdom disembarked.

As he calmly awaited for the arrival of the Divines, he glanced around the audience room looking for something worth observing. There was nothing of great significance as he eventually reverted his gaze back to his fellow Guardians. For the three weeks prior, he had tried to get acquainted with them -- some of them more willing than others -- and came to the conclusion that it would be interesting to work with them indeed.

Standing to the left of him was Her Royal Highness, the third child of the royal family -- Princess Adelaide Greywater. Prior to her bestowal of the title they certainly had known each other before, for consultations with the Royal family were always in order for the Astraryens, but he had never had a chance to have a full conversation with her before the past three weeks. As expected from someone of royal blood, her skills in diplomacy and impressive knowledge about politics were admirable. They had also tested each other out with the sword, which really opened Valerys' eyes about how differing the image of a Princess could really be. Adelaide would certainly be an asset he would be looking out to in the future.

On his right side was Junichi, a man who also had a family member that was a former Guardian, much like Valerys himself. He couldn't help but notice that people seemed to consider him an extension of his brother, seeing as servants and officials kept regarding him as the '74th Guardian's brother' and similar things of that nature. If he was to make assumptions, he would guess that this was the reason why the man decided to put his name on the roster. A determination to overcome one's shadow and the diligence necessary to achieve said goal. Such were the traits he found in Junichi that were truly respectable. However, his rather rash and abrasive manner would be a problem if they were to work together in the future.

The last of the four was Galaya, the quiet and unassuming girl. She certainly did not look like a person one would expect to look like when they pictured a Guardian. The fact that she made it here was the proof of her strength, however, and Valerys wished that she would open herself up more because she seemed rather wary of him anytime he tried to approach her. Probably due to the fact that the gap of status was still present. Valerys honestly found Galaya's frugality a breath of fresh air among all the extravagances he was surrounded with since the bestowal, and noticed that she was a lot more observant than her timid demeanor would suggest.

Setting his gaze back to the large doors at the end of the room, Valerys unconsciously touched the left side of his chest where the symbol of his Divine was lying. Whether for better or worse, his instincts told him that everything he had ever known would never be the same again the moment those doors were sprung open.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adonis Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Ofelia Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Lyssa Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen Character Portrait: Quinn

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xxxxxx

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And it's your dream to be the king of all creation
As far as I'm concerned you've hung your shadow on the wall
And though your fingers never really pulled the trigger
Your hands are just as guilty,
You're the one who bought the blood


DIALOGUE #800000THOUGHTS #6d6d6d
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xxx

xxxxxAdelaide had been keeping a close eye on her father since they arrived in the audience room. She had taken only a moment to survey her surroundings- Addie had been in dozens of similar throne rooms, and the luxury was familiar to her like it wasn't to many of her peers. She looked to the King for approval- she had been a Guardian for three weeks now, a feat neither of his other children had accomplished. However, the man hadn't given her a sideways glance since they'd been led in like sheep to be watched and discussed by the nobles and priests. Addie was used to these affairs; she had an endless tolerance for small talk and fancy dresses. Her mind, on the other hand, was whirling with thoughts of the Divines. She'd been going through the motions for almost a month now, but still hadn't gotten a glimpse of her partner, the first Divine.

As much training as she'd done, and even though she'd been picked as one of the final four Guardians, Adelaide still felt unprepared. From an outside view, she and the Priestess's boy probably looked the most at home here- but the princess hated being out of control. She had a few castle servants posted around the grounds keeping an eye on things, and one or two officials who owed her a favor in case something went terribly wrong, but it wasn't enough to soothe her nerves entirely. She shifted her weight slightly, feeling the stiffness of a hidden knife pressing against her calf.

Addie didn't dare break her poise, but surveyed her companions with a stoic air. The other three Guardians were an eclectic mix of people. To her right was Lord Valerys, part of the massive and convoluted bloodline stemming from the Priestess. The Guardians hadn't gotten much unsupervised time together, but Adelaide saw a kindred spirit in the boy. Both had been raised with high expectations, in close proximity to royalty and power. The two had been familiar with each other long before they had entered Guardian training, in fact, since the church and state were so closely tied. He was intelligent and observant, and a worthy opponent in battle- someone who truly deserved the title of Guardian.

The other two, Addie was less sure about. Junichi and Galaya were both commoners, giving them little esteem from the start. However, the princess knew better than to underestimate a street rat- they were fierce, and clever gamblers. Neither struck her as outright poor, though. Galaya had been an orphan, and Junichi the younger brother of one of the previous Guardians. Both were much more reluctant to interact with her, and the blonde seemed outright intimidated. From the brief interactions she'd had with Junichi, he'd seemed to have something to prove- a chip on his shoulder that kept him driven and dedicated. She respected that, sure, but he was also abrasive and reclusive. Addie hoped that he wouldn't cause any trouble for the rest of them with his stubbornness and need to prove himself. She could understand having a desire to be validated, but there was a right way to go about it- and Junichi was going the absolute wrong way.

Galaya, on the other hand, was a mystery. She was small and fragile, and looked completely out of place among royals and priests. Adelaide hadn't been able to figure out what reason the girl had for pursuing a Guardian role- she lacked the bold charisma or strategic cunning that the other three shared. Galaya seemed to simply want to be there. The girl was sweet enough, and there was something refreshing about her- like a salty ocean breeze among crowded city fumes. Adelaide almost found herself drawn to protect the girl- even though being a Guardian meant that she could take care of herself, in whatever manner it happened to be.

Adelaide's attention returned to the king as all of the officials filed into place. Was it finally time? Dozens of sets of eyes turned to the ornate doors, and the tension in the room thickened. This was what they had been waiting for, all this time. They'd read scrolls, taken tests, undergone rituals, all for this moment.

But did anyone truly feel ready?

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adonis Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Ofelia Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Lyssa Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen Character Portrait: Quinn

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The Audience Room vibrated with the low murmuring of the impatient crowd who had come to witness the first interactions between the 75th Guardians and Divines. Each one dawned their own schemes and reasons for attending the event. Yet no one questioned their motives, as was a tradition for important figures of Eden to attend such an event. Out of the people who were awaiting the arrival of the Divines, four were held as most important - Radu Greywater, Ruler of Eden, Priestess Circe, Reiji Takahashi, the 74th Guardian, Vaharys Kargaryen, High Commander of the Army and 73th Guardian, and Duke Ezra Hasofer, Head Commander of the Navy. There were certainly a few others who were in attendance, yet these political figures were the ones who could not simply be ignored. Everyone in the room could feel the pressure from their gazes, especially the servants. In particular, those manning the doors.

They felt the fierce stares, already knowing without words what they were wanting. Where were the Divines? The servants shivered, imagining the punishment that awaited them if the guest had to sit any longer. And like an answer from the heavens, the signal knock rang on the door.

With relief, the servants' voices boomed throughout the hall, "Attention! Announcing the arrival of the Divines!"

Like a rehearsed theatrical play the doors opened, trumpets blew, and drums rolled. The sound erupted throughout the hall causing an ear-deafening echo. Everyone held their breath gazing at the Divines entering the Audience room, their guards respectfully following a few feet behind them. Once again, as if rehearsed, the Divines stopped, a couple of feet away from the Guardians. Followed by a heavy silence swiftly enveloping the room, unlike the previous one, this wasn't one of irritation or impatience but of pure curiosity. All eyes were on the eight individuals on the floor and their next moves.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adonis Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Ofelia Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Lyssa Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen Character Portrait: Quinn

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#, as written by Kilgannon
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Ofelia did not hesitate, and immediately focused her attention on the King as she drew herself into a bow.

"Your Majesty and his gentle people of the court, you once again grace and honor us with your presence." She spoke with a graceful clarity, a lilt in her voice that she always adopted when publicly appearing.

"We are as eager as you all are to move into yet another cycle of peace and cooperation between humans and Divine, for the betterment of Eden and the prosperity of her peoples." This speech would seem familiar to those fortunate enough to have made it to repeat ceremonies throughout their lifetime, as it had come to be a formality expected of Ofelia. As she continued, her eyes stayed locked with the King's.

"It is thus with great dignity that I, Divine Oeui, formally introduce myself to my new Guardian, so that all may see for themselves the testament of our good intent. Let all those who may witness it on this day go and speak the truth of what they have seen, for those who doubt the foundation of our good Eden are a true poison to the well of its glory." Simultaneously breaking her bow and eye contact with the King, Ofelia moved with a fluidity to position herself directly in front of they who would be her new Guardian; Adelaide Greywater, third child of the King.

Crossing her left forearm against her breast, Ofelia offered Adelaide a bow similar to that which her father had received. Smiling sweetly, Ofi then dropped her arm and instead extended her right towards Adelaide, hoping that she would meet her in the middle with her own and complete the formal greeting in which two parties grabbed each other's forearms and shook.

"Your Grace, it is with great honor that I enter with you into a partnership. I hope that we may work well together in order to ensure the glowing status of our great nation." She spoke directly to Addie, but at a volume loud enough so that all may hear. Only those well acquainted with her would pick up on the subdued sarcasm beneath her words.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adonis Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Ofelia Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Lyssa Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen Character Portrait: Quinn

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#, as written by Zodia195
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Dialogue- #8A2BE2 ~ Thoughts- #337147


The longer she stood there, the more anxious Galaya got. It must have been obvious that she was starting to fidget a little because she sensed her fellow Guardians looking at her briefly. She would ignore the stares. Instead she remained focused on the doors in front of her. She was so focused that she was a bit startled when the servants announced the arrival of the Divines. She actually gasped a bit when that happened. Luckily it seemed all eyes were now on the doors, which swung open. The noise of the drums made Galaya want to cover her ears, but she didn't. She was already embarrassed by her surprised reaction anyway.

She hoped she looked calm again as she saw the Divines and the beasts servants with them come forward. The moment Galaya laid eyes on them, she felt this instinct desire to bow to them in servitude and homage. However she fought against that desire. She wasn't too surprised by her behavior though since these four were the 'leaders' of the beasts in Eden. Of course technically they weren't in a position to be in charge. They were just as much a trophy and pet as other beasts. Of course she knew the history of how the Divines and Beast came to be servants of humanity. About how the beasts and Divines invaded Eden and how the humans stopped them through trials and sacrifices. Still there was always that small part of Galaya that wondered if that whole story was true. She once heard a line somewhere in how it was always the victors of a battle that wrote history. Being the instinctual person that she was, Galaya didn't question that voice.

For now she wouldn't think about the past, but instead focus on the now. Looking at the four Divines she couldn't believe how beautiful they all looked, even the 2 males. She was about to focus on her Divine partner when one of the females came forward. She looked more regal the the king and queen here and that was saying something. She knew this divine was in a weakened state and even now it felt like the Divine outranked them all.

Galaya listened as the Divine introduced herself as Oeui and addressed the audience. Her speech felt too perfect to Galaya, like it was rehearsed. She wondered if there were hidden meanings behind these words. While Galaya had no experience in interacting with high society, she had heard stories about from Headmistress Rinson, who did have interactions with nobility. After all, most of the money that was funded to the school came from high society.

As Oeui's general greeting ended, she saw the Divine go to Princess Adelaide and greeted her. That had to be the signal for the others to follow suit. Taking deep breath, Laya looked at the other Divines. One was half snake and looked younger then her, but Laya knew these creatures were way older then her. She also looked very uncomfortable in what she was wearing.

~I know how you feel. I'd love to be out of this ornate attire too. Be patient, Laya. You're almost done.~

The first male divine was just as regal and intimidating as the Oeui. She felt something about him, but couldn't put a finger on it. Regardless, she turned her attention to the Divine she was connected to. His hair was a lot lighter then hers, almost white. Galaya knew this one was the youngest due to her having the lowest score out of the Guardians. She was actually relieved because the oldest ones would have a better chance of recognizing her half beast side. Already she wanted to leave.

~Well, no time like the present, let's get this done and over with.~ Galaya thought before walking towards her partner.

She bowed politely before standing up and said cordially, "Greetings, my name is Galaya Rinson. I do hope we can get along. It's nice to finally meet you."

There, she done it. Now she would wait for her Divine partner to introduce himself and hopefully they could leave this hall soon. All the while, she kept being aware of the other Guardians and Divines.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adonis Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Ofelia Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Lyssa Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen Character Portrait: Quinn

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#, as written by Tanman
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Finally, it was time for things to begin in earnest. Junichi had to resist the urge to take a step forward to meet the Divines halfway as they made their entrance, the four emanating an impressive aura that commanded attention from everyone around. Scanning his eyes over them, from his time studying the beasts, he was quickly able to assess who each of them would belong to. The elder two of the Divines would go towards the upper class of the Guardians, while the younger would be assigned to himself and Galaya, the commoners. It made sense, even if it did annoy him on some level to be left with the ‘inferior’ of the Divines. Still, it wasn’t all bad to be assigned to Ki. After all, this was the beast his brother had been assigned. If anyone would have answers, it would be her or the journal he left behind. With the amount of posturing they’d been doing over the past three weeks, Jun hadn’t had time to consult it at all. Hopefully after tonight that would change, but when the opportunity arose, he’d have to take the time to find out what she knew about Reiji and his actions.

The speech was grandiose, but thankfully, short and to the point as far as presentations go. Junichi did his best to pay attention, but honestly, his eyes were wholly focussed on his Divine and the area around her, as if he could bore a hole through her skull with his gaze. Briefly, his eyes played over the guards next to her, and despite the apparent greatness of these creatures, he found himself strangely aware of how short she was compared to her towering and imposing servants. For such a powerful being, it was amusing to him how helpless she actually looked, but he’d been informed many times during his training not to underestimate the creatures; particularly the elders of the four. Nodding as his partner for the next 10 years made her way towards him, Junichi decided to formally introduce himself.

“Junichi Takahashi. I’ll be your guardian for the next 10 years.” As he spoke, he couldn’t help but steal a glance towards his brother, who was undoubtedly staring at the two of them. Flicking his eyes back towards Ki, the younger Takahashi brother extended his arm for the shake. “To the future.” He stated simply. The future would determine everything after all. And this would be the start of this future. Jun wasn’t the kind of person to smile much. His mother always told him to try to do so more, but he personally thought it looked unnatural and weird. Somehow though, he made his best attempt, especially in such a public setting. Hopefully no one noticed his discomfort, particularly the small snake woman before him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adonis Character Portrait: Ofelia Character Portrait: Lyssa Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen Character Portrait: Quinn

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"Though wisdom is a house built; and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge shall every room be filled with precious and pleasantries."

- Proverbs 24:3

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Valerys
------------------
Descendant of the Priestess


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xxxxxAfter a series of glances all over the chamber, Valerys decided to just keep his gaze fixed at the grand doors, calmly awaited for the moments to come. Judging from the bickering of the attendants and the frowns that were starting to become visible on the King's face, it went without saying that heads would probably roll if another minute passed by and the doors remained intact. As much as Valerys found it distasteful for the time being meaninglessly wasted, however, there was no sign of displeasure presented on his face. Either he was a good actor or his patience was just simply remarkable.

Behind the four of them, Valerys could feel that his uncle was also in quite the anticipation as well. After all, it was Vaharys who was standing on this exact same place 20 years ago. Although he didn't care much for praises, Valerys quietly prayed that from then on, he would at least live to the name of his well-respected uncle.

Before Valerys, the Guardian on behalf of the family was Mylenna from the Celnaryen line - another one of his cousins. Her condition was... quite interesting, to say the least. Yet, Valerys had heard on the grapevines that using that very specialty, she had managed to "tame" her Divine - who was quite a handful. She told him she had intended to attend the ceremony today, but the Celnaryens seemed to have some business for her to handle, so Vaharys was the only family that was watching him.

In the meantime, he quietly recalled to the things that he had read about the Divines. The long tradition of being Guardians had brought the clan with much knowledge about them, except the one that was assigned to him.

The Second of the Divines, who went by the pseudonym Aui, or Adonis, as Valerys could then rightfully refer as. The Deceiver. The Accursed Harbinger. The Forsaken Viper. His clan had bestowed many titles upon this Divine and none of them showed the slightest bit of respect. To say that the whole family abhorred him was a bit of an understatement. But of course, how couldn't they? Every leader of the three branches had never seized to relentlessly remind their members about the poisonous words spoken from the mouth of this being to their ancestor centuries ago. And they had even gone all the way to make sure that the representative Guardians of their clan would never have to watch over Adonis.

Until Valerys, due to some miraculous twist by the hands of Fate.

By the time the outcome was settled, it was already too late for Talar to intervene. With the influence of the Astraryens, switching the results shouldn't be a problem. But the hassles and the risk of tarnishing their name were simply not worth it. Hence, they now had no other choice, but to place their only prominent heir to the line of this generation at the mercy of the most deplorable of beings.

For Valerys, though, this was indeed a challenge to overcome. Was he scared? Of course he was. But knowing him, the excitement stemmed from the unveiling of mysteries was bigger. To be able to find out the truths that no-one from family had ever gotten to before? Valerys couldn't possibly come up with any privileges better than that.

"Attention! Announcing the arrival of the Divines!"

And finally, it was time. As deafening sound of trumpets and drums filled every corner of the hall, the doors were sprung open at last. Emerging from behind were the four most "prized treasures" of Eden, gracefully approaching them in tandem. Valerys couldn't help but gulp a bit. This wasn't the first time he got to see a Divine in real life, but to observe them in their entirety in such a close proximity, it was more than he had ever imagined.

They truly befit the title given to them.

The leader of the four - Divine Oeui - stepped forward to make a speech with fluency, as if she had gone through over it countless of times. Valerys' main focus was not on her speech, though, but on the youthful man with long, green flowing hair so smooth that the finest silk seemed pale in comparison and a seemingly innocent smile that can charm the most stoic of hearts. There was this strange charisma emanating from Adonis that Valerys couldn't explain, as if it was telling him to abandon everything he had ever treasured to fall into the sweet embrace of the Divine, and to indulge in nothing but his honey-glazed words.

This man... is terrifyingly dangerous. Valerys cautiously reminded himself. He had to make sure to never stray from his path and focus on the only one goal that mattered, or else it would be very likely that he would be enraptured in the trap laid out by Adonis. That much he can tell from locking gaze with the Divine alone.

As soon as Oeui finished her speech, the expression on Valerys' face turned from that of sternness into a relaxed one, with a gentle smile finding its' way on his lips. "My utmost pleasure to meet you, my exalted Divine. I presume you have already known, but allow me to introduce myself once more. I go by the name Valerys of the Astraryens, and may the coming decade of our partnership be fruitful."

Having been taught about etiquette and manners all his life, making a grandiose introduction was not much of a problem for him, but he knows for sure that humans' niceties are not entirely applicable to that of the Beasts, and the Divines were not any different. And it was by then that an excerpt from the journal passed down to him from the previous Guardians popped up in his mind.

"And, to start out our relationship. May I ask you, why is the letter E important?"

A greeting by a riddle was simply the most anti-climatic thing one could possibly come up. Valerys was well-aware of this, but he hoped that this would at least get both of them off to a good start, and a small test on the wits of arguably the most ancient being in the entire world. He slightly tilted his head in anticipation of the response, with his smile unfazed.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Adonis Character Portrait: Adelaide Greywater Character Portrait: Junichi Takahashi Character Portrait: Ofelia Character Portrait: Galaya Rinson Character Portrait: Lyssa Character Portrait: Valerys Astraryen Character Portrait: Quinn

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"The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you more than all cattle, And more than every beast of the field; On your belly you will go, And dust you will eat All the days of your life"

Imagequinn (qi) \\ divine 3 \\ horned serpent
Imagedialogue:#8E0000x thoughts:#B266B2



A sullen scowl formed from Quinn’s lips. She didn’t realize that Lycaon had the wheel. In hind set, it was natural for him to handle relations with humans due to his irrational fetish for them, but she really could use a warmer retort from the other half. A coinflip for comfort and it landed on tails.

“Idiot Lycaon..I’ll tell Lyssa to give you 50 lashings..!!” She resisted the urge to pounce on the disinterested dog. He was an asshole, but a lovable one. Quinn would bite through that shell eventually.

She regained her posture as Ofi walked through. Her commanding presence putting Quinn on her feet, despite the snake possessing her own motives to play the perfect. She waved and smiled to her older sibling as they promptly went through the doors.

Smile.

Wave.

Look to each section of the room for at least 8 seconds, 11 ½ at most. A warm smile to her guardian, a warmer one for the royal family. There was a boundary between directions and thoughts that’s been long lost the moment Quinn made that deal. A price bled from dignity, offering her own independence to ensure her friends a cage instead of a tomb. There truly was no snake as wicked as her, looking at what can be gained over what must be lost.

Quinn slapped her cheeks ‘till rash. Her dazes aren’t easily broken and seem to happen when they aren’t welcome. She quickly looked around the room for her guardian until feeling eyes burning through her chest. A man, standing in what would be a place where the guardians should be positioned. She looked behind her, then shifting her body aside his line of vision. His head followed shortly behind.

It was official. This creep was looking at her.

She was aware that her new guardian was Reiji’s little brother, but no one fit the profile. No one was as handsome, gallant or tall as him. No one had a smile that could make snake women swoon, or a scent of honey and sweat. Quinn tried to look as if she was paying attention to the recycled speech, but the man checking her out was distracting to say the least. She waved at him, but his glare did not let up. Was he blind? Did he just have a seizure? Humans shouldn’t be this capable of creeping her out.

As the ceremony came to a close, Quinn awaited the cue. Reiji only had good things to say about his little sibling..but was uncharacteristically vague. Not exactly describing his personality, or look, but instead used power words such as “strong” and “perseverant”.

She trudged between her siblings before walking to her assigned guardian. After getting a closer look, she gagged on the air she going to introduce herself with. The creep was his brother? Unbefitting of her preferred guise, she discarded her posture and squatted down for some time to think. He was athletic, but not like Reiji. He was handsome, but not like Reiji. Eyes like sharp knives instead of warm flame. Quinn stood up to look for Reiji in the audience as simply thinking of him raised her temperature before remembering that she had to actually introduce herself to her new guardian.

The snake woman cleared her throat. “Divine Qi, at your service.” She took his hand to shake, mirroring the stiff motions. She didn’t know Reiji had such a tinman as a brother. His eyes alone offended her, his body language screamed lack of etiquette. It definitely couldn’t get worse from here.

Oh, and then he smiled. Great.

She chuckled into her fist. The situation itself was so awkward that she wanted to die. Was this really his brother? Attempting to break both their apparent discomfort, she decided to talk about her favorite thing in the world. It’s been a week since she’s seen him.

“How’s…your brother been?”