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Cyril Nishant

"Even a devil has a heart, however twisted it may be."

0 · 1,549 views · located in The Continent of Valnor

a character in “Splendorum Animae”, as played by Ion

Description

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Lord of Night’s End
Some things are best kept in the dark where they belong.




The Cab || Animal
Five Finger Death Punch || Cold
Gemini Syndrome || Basement
Blue Stahli || Anti You
Celldweller || Kill the Sound
Celldweller || The Last Firstborn




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Seek you a summary of my nature? You would sooner paint with air.




Nickname
[ Most know him only as Lord Nishant, or Sir Nishant. Precious few are allowed to use his first name. ]

Age
[ Appears 25 ]

Gender
[ Male ]

Species
[ Half-Demon || Appears Human ]

Role
[ Lucifer’s Heir ]

Face Claim
[ Lancer | Fate/Zero ]




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I should think the armor makes my appearance rather irrelevant, no?




Hair Color
[ Black ]

Eye Color
[ Gold ]

Skin Tone
[ Moderate ]

Height
[ 6’5” ]

Weight
[ 200 ]

Physical Description
[ Cyril cuts an imposing figure, being just about six and a half feet tall, as well as broad and muscular enough to be easily intimidating. It helps, of course, that he never goes out in public unless he is wearing a full suit of black armor, helmet included. The only person who has ever seen his face is the Queen herself, and presumably whomever trained him, but even that retains an element of doubt, since no such person has ever been found. Regardless, the face he shows before the world is not a face at all, but the visage of the Black Knight, stalwart defender of Elysia and its foremost warrior. The armor itself is exceptionally-well-made, with the appearance of being much heavier than it actually is, constructed magically from a lightweight, disproportionately strong metal. It is, as his name suggests, entirely black, save that he usually wears a red cloak with the crest of the house of Nishant upon it, the crest itself being in black.

Underneath the armor, he is perhaps only fractionally less intimidating in stature. His shoulders are broad, his body muscled efficiently and carrying an appearance of lithe, graceful strength, though he is a bit more than lean. There is power in his form, and it is not difficult to see. His hands are quite large and callused from the years of weapons and hand-to-hand training he’s been through, a sharp contrast to those belonging to other houses of nobility and sure evidence that he is a knight first, a lord only second, however prominent his family may be.

On the rare occasion his face is uncovered, it is not difficult to see that he is what most anyone would call a very attractive man, though there is a certain edge to that quality, a bit of dark charisma in the lines of his jaw and cheekbones. His face as a whole is comprised of sharp angles and thick lines, the strength of the rest of him carrying through his jaw, aquiline nose, and brow. His hair is very thick and very dark, usually for convenience pushed back to trail to the nape of his neck, though there is a stubborn strand of it that tends to fall in front of his nose. As a whole, his hair is wavy and soft, the texture almost feathery, like the raven’s wing the color evokes, with its highlights of deep blue and indigo.

His eyes, exotically-slanted for one supposedly from Elysia, are a bright, liquid gold color, an extraordinary hue rarely, if ever, seen in the human population. It does crop up occasionally in Dorthonion, which is where House Nishant originated many generations ago. Being at least partially a demon, Cyril like any of them has a more monstrous form, but he has only taken it on once, and never in the company of anyone else, so nobody can say what it looks like. To all outward appearances, then, he is nothing but human. ]




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More than one person has tried to tell me what I am and what I’m meant to be. The only thing I have care to be, however, is a knight. And so that is what I am. I should like to see any of them try to stop me.




Potential Interest
Indifferent: Cyril, it seems, is a rather reclusive person, one devoted entirely to his duty as a knight of Elysia and the personal protection of its heir. This is a duty that, by necessity, he shares, as like anyone, he does have to sleep on occasion, but for the most part, he is the princess’s very large, very dark, very frightening shadow. There is little room in a life like that for anything else, and so his personal relationships are few, and his romances nonexistent. He has never particularly seen the appeal of such things anyway, so he doesn’t feel that he’s missing much.

Skills

    Weaponry || Cyril is, hands-down and widely-acknowledged, the most skillful knight in the realm, at just about any skill one would expect a knight to have. This includes weaponwork, and while his most apt mastery is with swords, he actually tends to prefer lances, plural, for their superior reach.
    Hand-To-Hand || Of course, it is equally important to be prepared for any situation whatsoever, and to that end, Cyril is also versed in barehanded combat, so that, even should his weapons be broken or stolen, he is still more than capable of dealing with his foes.
    Bodyguarding || It is a unique set of skills, separate from simply being good in a confrontation. To bodyguard is to be able to do that all while protecting another, and it requires vigilance, constant attention, loyalty, and decisiveness, all of which Cyril has in spades.

Abilities
    Null || Inherited from his father, Cyril has the ability to nullify any and all magic used on his person, though this does not seem to extend to the ability to cancel all magic period. That is something only Lucifer himself is able to do.
    Augmentation || All demons are much stronger, faster, and more durable than human beings. This is simply a fact. They can also all heal their own wounds, which enables them to survive blows that would be fatal to a human constitution. Cyril has inherited these traits on par with the three demon generals, and they have seen more use than his appearance would suggest.
    [Locked] || Something stirs in his blood, something he cannot explain. For now, it is only a stirring, but in time…

Habits
    Silence || Cyril infrequently speaks unless spoken to, and for a man in full plate armor, he moves remarkably quietly, almost as if he were flowing or drifting over the ground rather than walking as other people have to.
    Practice || He never does so where other people can see, but Cyril believes that practice is the best way to keep his skills sharp, and so devotes time every day to keeping himself in form. It’s probably the only thing he has that would qualify as a hobby, except perhaps…
    Song || It is something that nobody would ever guess about him, but Cyril has a singing voice that borders on hypnotic. Perfect pitch, and from somewhere, excellent musical training. It is a much gentler side of himself, and understandably does not surface in the company of others. That said, sometimes when he’s by himself, he won’t see as much of a need to conceal it for the sake of his public image.




Likes
    Reading || As any nobleman, Cyril was well-educated, and can read and understand basically any language. He’s also surprisingly well-versed in magical lore, though of course being demon, blooded, he cannot cast himself. He simply finds it useful to know the ways it may be used against himself or his charge.
    Gardens/The Outdoors || Cyril somehow prefers being outdoors to being inside. In fact, the biggest downside to his self-imposed armor prison is the fact that he never directly feels the sun on his face or the breeze against his skin. These are sensations that he misses a great deal. But he cannot feel them again, not considering what that would allow. So he contents himself with the visuals of the outdoors and enjoys them whenever he can.
    The Royal Family || The Queen has given him a second chance to live his life on his own terms by giving him something to do, and the princess, well… to Cyril, at least, watching over and protecting the princess brings him a sense of peace. He is grateful to the both of them, though to the latter at least, he would not express his gratitude, for fear of it being mistaken for something else.

Dislikes
    Demons || He is not especially fond of his father’s kind, perhaps because he understands their nature better than most people do. The distaste he has for them does not generally extend into hatred, and it rarely if ever affects his demeanor, given his stoicism, but nevertheless, he is not particularly fond of them, and wary in their presence.
    Threats || Any insinuations against the lives or health of the royal family irritate Cyril greatly. The genuine ones, ones made with sufficient power to back them up, may well be the only thing capable of igniting his fuse. He is definitely a very protective person, and one who takes his duties especially seriously.
    Court Politics || He has little taste for people who lie and scheme and manipulate one another. That, at lest, has never been in his nature, though he is capable of telling a lie with a perfectly straight face. He simply chooses not to. His house, while powerful, has always been made up of Crown loyalists, and everyone knows to expect this very same thing of Cyril like every previous lord or lady Nishant.




Strengths
    The Heir of Inferno || Cyril’s demonic pedigree is second to none, to be perfectly frank about it. Granted, Lucifer is only one of his parents, and who his real mother was, before he was given to the Nishants, is something he does not know, but… he can certainly feel the effects of his heritage, whether he wants that infernal power or not.
    Stoic || It is basically impossible to seriously rattle Cyril. Even in anger, he is cold, controlled, precise, and rational. Causing him to express any kind of emotion at all is extremely difficult, and even if someone does manage, they may never know, because the armor hides his face, making it impossible to see his expression. His extreme discipline and self-control was not easily won, but he has managed it all the same.
    Discipline || Put simply, growing up the untutored child of the demon made for a large number of mishaps, from the harmless to the devastating. There’s a legend in Elysia that about fifty years ago, an entire town disappeared. It wasn’t destroyed or leveled, there was no slaughter to find—everything and everyone simply vanished off the map without a trace. That… was Cyril, unfortunately. He has since learned to master his powers a little more, and he currently keeps them contained with an enchanted suit of armor made for him by the Academy’s Headmaster, one of only two people who knows his secret, though they have never been face-to-face, per se.

Weaknesses
    Conflicted || A demon’s nature is a difficult thing to contain, especially in a body that is only half-demon. It means that, unless Cyril retains excellent control of himself and his emotions, he risks accidentally discharging some of that power, and it tends to manifest in strange ways, for a demon. Certainly in destructive ways.
    Stubborn || It is difficult for Cyril to see past the things he knows to be true, things that have been repeatedly drummed into him by a lifetime of experience. His powers are evil. He’s a reprehensible being, worth only what he has left to give the Crown. Demons are never to be trusted, and he is not either. He doesn’t waver in his views, which, when it comes to his self-perception and so on, makes it very difficult to
    The Past || There are things that you just can’t escape from, and Cyril feels especially chained to his past. He doesn’t like to talk about it, or think about it, but it is always there, informing his actions.

Other
  • It is known to the Asura Generals and the Four that Cyril is Lucifer’s son, and indeed, to Cyril himself, but other than that, only the Queen and the Headmaster know. Who his mother is is a detail known only to Lucifer himself.





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I’m a little bit of everything, even when I’d rather not be.




Personality
Stoic | Dutiful | Serious | Dark


It’s really hard to get an idea of what Cyril is thinking. This is something that pretty much everyone who has ever met him will confess. Part of it is just that he wears a concealing suit of black armor, and therefore it is impossible to read his expressions. The occasional flash of golden eyes can be seen, but other than that, it is a complete mystery what he looks like, and therefore in large part what he is thinking or feeling. His voice, slightly obscured by the helmet, is nevertheless plenty loud and clear when he wants it to be, a resounding, authoritative baritone but one that nevertheless modulates little if at all. Unsurprisingly, his stoicism and refusal to be provoked does not sit especially well with politicians, who bank on the ability to manipulate people by doing so.

The one thing about him that is obvious to anyone who bothers to think about it is his unflinching loyalty to the crown. Where other guards in the past have become frustrated by the Princess’s desire to slip away for instance, Cyril simply patiently tracks her down—and he always seems to know where she is. He does not reprimand her, for that is not his job, nor does he question the orders of the Queen whenever they are given. He, like a loyal hound, simply obeys, relying on them for the moral compass he himself does not seem to possess.

For there is something dark in Cyril, something that he can only explain by reference to his heritage. The desire for battle, for death, to be lord and master of everything around him—these are things he feels quite strongly. That darkness, those inhuman urges to tear flesh and destroy life, they are strong in him, but he resists them at every turn. He is demonic enough to have them, but not so demonic to accept them about himself. One could say that the middle is a very uncomfortable place to be, indeed.




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Some stories are better left untold.




History

The circumstances of Cyril’s birth are unclear, as well as his parentage. All that is known by even the most informed is that he is the son of Lucifer by some unknown woman, and that eventually he was given to the house Nishant, where he was raised in seclusion for several generations. It was not an easy process, and indeed, he made many mistakes of varying seriousness. It was about ten years ago that he was named the official heir of house Nishant, for that generation’s Lady Nishant never married nor had children, and saw fit to name him in the stead of her nephew, who would have been unsuited to the position.

She died shortly after, and Cyril ascended to the head of one of the most powerful houses in Elysia. From there, he swore his loyalty to the Queen, as all heads of house do when they ascend to the position, and, given his unique proclivity for combat, he joined the Elysian order of knights, the Crown of Thorns. His rise through their ranks was quick, and he now heads the entire order, meaning that his position is the Queensknight, the direct servant of Her Majesty. By tradition, that would make him the Queen’s personal bodyguard, but Queen Dianthe prefers his talents be put to use guarding the most precious thing in her life—her daughter Calliope.

And so, for the last two years or so, that is exactly what Cyril has been doing: faithfully, loyally, and without a single complaint.




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My nature will not constrain me. I am the only one who will do that.



So begins...

Cyril Nishant's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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#, as written by Ion


“I remember well a time when I thought as you do; that what was precious could be saved, if only I tried hard enough.”



Though Calliope’s pronouncement threw the council room into a murmuring uproar, and such things were indeed possible, there were two figures who remained silent, still. On of them was the extremely tall, very broad man covered head-to-toe in a suit of black armor, standing directly behind the princess’s chair. The other, however, was the red queen on the golden throne.

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She was a stunning woman, and it was not difficult for anyone to tell from where the princess had inherited her looks. Their features were almost the same, though the young woman had inherited her father’s coloration almost exclusively. Where her daughter’s locks were like honey, the Queen wore the color of fire and blood atop her crown, though not as long as she once had done. She was silent as the rest argued amongst themselves, the only hint of her melancholy a touch of sadness creeping into her eyes as she watched her daughter speak so passionately. So much like both her parents, so willing to sacrifice, but if there was one thing Dianthe knew, it was that a heart could not be bargained with, and trying to make an exchange of marriage like an exchange of money was bound to lead to heartache. This, she had always wished to spare her child—it was why Calliope was not yet wed at all.

Unfortunately, it just meant that there was one more thing for her to slide across the bargaining table now. But it was her wish, and so in the end, the queen simply conceded, inclining her head to the herald that stood in the back of the room. The message would be sent, the arrangements made.




“Such innocence is worth preserving, even if it has never been mine to know.”



A few hours later, the message had been returned. King Anselm wished to meet on neutral ground to discuss terms. This was not especially unusual for wartime negotiations, and each party would be expected to take only a small number of soldiers, to preserve the good faith of the negotiations. It was folly, of course, to send both the reigning monarch and the heir, so the queen would be remaining behind while the princess went to lead the negotiations. If this was all the control Dianthe could give Calliope over her fate, then she would give it.

But… this was not to say she trusted the king of Dorthonion. In fact, she didn’t, not in the least. She would have much rather sent an army at Calliope’s back, but this was something she could not afford to do. Arriving at a negotiation with enough troops to overwhelm the other side would be seen as underhanded and lowly, something the other kingdoms on the continent would not take well. And if this war was to continue, she would need their support. If it was to end, then the gesture would be of no help anyway.

So the Queen, in her wisdom, was doing the one thing she could to keep her daughter as safe as possible. “Your Majesty, Lord Nishant is here.” Her steward made the soft announcement, and Dianthe looked up from her tea, nodding slowly.

“Allow him in, please.” With a bow, the man moved to accommodate her command, and within moments, she was looking up at perhaps one of the most intimidating figures she had ever seen. This was only objectively, of course—of everyone Lord Nishant knew, the queen had least reason to be intimidated by him. The knight in black armor descended to one knee, crossing an arm over his chest, and the Queen smiled. “You need not be so formal with me, Cyril.”

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“Your Majesty is too kind.” The response was monotone, spoken through the distortion of his helmet, and yet she detected a faint note of chiding in it anyway. He was telling her that she really was too kind. Dianthe’s smile inched a fraction wider. How bold of him.

But there was business to attend to, more important to her than anything, and the smile faded. The queen delayed a moment by taking a sip of her tea, and Cyril remained in his kneeling position, patient as a mountain in a storm. That steadiness was why she’d come to rely on him more than anyone else. The queen had many beloved allies and friends, but right now, when her daughter was in danger and war loomed over the horizon of her kingdom, it was to this man that she turned first. “Cyril… in about an hour, my daughter will ride to meet the party of King Anselm, to arrange the terms of her marriage and the peace between our nations.” Dianthe sighed, looking down into her teacup before she raised her eyes to the eyeslit in the Black Knight’s helmet. “There is more than a little risk inherent in this. Her retinue must be small, as a gesture of good faith. I would like you to lead it.”

When the pause in speech had extended a polite period of time, the Black Knight spoke. “If that is your wish, it will be done.”

Dianthe’s expression gentled. “I know you have only been her guard on occasion thus far, and have served most of your time as mine, but… this is not a demotion, Cyril. My daughter is the one thing in this world that means more to me even than my kingdom itself. In asking you to protect her, I am trusting you with what I deem most precious. I ask you because I will trust no one else with the task.” Just then, the queen, the untouchable figure on the throne, looked so fragile and human that most would have been startled to see it. But not Cyril. Over his years of service, he had come to understand her better than most ever would, and he knew that what she showed him now was her true face. A mother, and still a grieving widow, after all this time.

“I understand, Your Majesty. As she is most precious to you, I will protect her as though she was also most precious to me.” The queen smiled.

“I know you will—and that is more than I have any right to demand of you. But thank you. Please… go now, and prepare for the journey. Take another ten from the castle garrison, and one of the mages. A dozen should be an acceptable number.” Cyril stood, bowed, and left to make the necessary preparations. When he was gone, Dianthe sighed. She had done all she could. The rest lay in the hands of those that were to meet on that field.

“Phanes, Aither… please, watch over her.”




“If what is lost to protect it is mine, well... then at least I can say I did what I could.”



Lenore was rather surprised when her question received an answer. The Fool. Change, potential. Infinite faces for infinite scenarios. The genesis, the source, the beginning. The first. All the associations leaped to her educated intellect in no time at all, but this would not be immediately obvious from her actual overt reaction, which was to blink slowly up—quite far up; this Asura had to be around seven feet tall—at what had come before her. Ramlike horns curled around his head, several smaller ones positioned around those. Everything about him was dark—hair, eyes, plumage and what seemed to be leather. He looked at her like she was an insect at the bottom of his shoe, which was honestly more or less what she’d anticipated.

“I wasn’t expecting someone so beautiful,” she remarked, her tone a curious mix between blunt and misty, and she tilted her head to the side when he offered his hand. Well, she wasn’t quite so much a fool to let him out of the circle before the bargain had been struck. “You are not a Hellknight.” Those were depicted in books, and they didn’t look like him.

Hellknights were mid-level demons, the equivalent to commanders in the armies of Inferno. They were combat specialists, and, while very difficult to summon, should have been well within the range of her capabilities. She studied his face with wide eyes, putting together the obscure references she had and drawing the most logical conclusion. The favorable aesthetics, the sweet scent… “Lord Apollyon,” she decided firmly, nodding her head. She didn’t exactly seem to require confirmation from him. She’d been caught between him and Abaddon, but there was an obscure reference to the latter in a book she’d read a few months ago that mentioned the mark of the crescent moon on his forehead, apparently the heritage of his mother, who had been a Sidhe or something of a similar nature.

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“As for falling… I suppose I might. That really depends on you.” she smiled slightly, clasping her hands together and bowing politely, as one would to a king or similar royalty. “What I desire is simple: the protection of this realm, of Elysia and its people, with a minimum of human casualties. In return, well… that depends on you, as well. Anything goes, really, as long as I can give it.” From the lightness of her tone, she had no idea the potential consequences she’d opened herself up to by saying that, but something in her eyes gave the lie to that suggestion.

Lenore knew perfectly well what she was risking. She had simply decided long before this moment that what she asked for was worth it. Worth anything she had to give.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"Even if my heart is captured and scarred, I will be fine as long as I can still smile."



Calliope was walking along the halls of the palace while an entourage of servants followed her. She was donned in a feather blue empire long gown with flowers and ribbons as its main decor. It fitted her like a glove and defined her elegant silhouette despite its rather simplistic style. This effectively pronounced her delicate and beautiful features. However, she rarely wears such attire and would lean towards short dresses and pants to allow more movement, especially, for her routine escapes. Alas, it was not an option for today. The reason is a discussion shall be held between King Anselm and her on neutral grounds in relation to the impediment of war.

As such, she will ride to the ruins known as the Temple of Sands located a few distance from their national borders, which was the same for Dorthonion. Those ruins are not under any kingdom's authority, so it was a prominent area where various negotiations had taken place. She had been there a few times when her mother would allow her to lead negotiations or diplomacy in a more personal manner. But this time, it would be in regards to her marriage and the stipulations which would come from it. She already knew that negotiations will be rather heated, knowing where King Anselm's heart truly lies when it comes to her Kingdom.

It was, without question, she is concerned about what would take place. Yet, it would be a great disservice to herself and to the people around her to show any signs of faltering. She could not allow such a thing. This is when the words of her father, the Late King, would echo within her consciousness, reminding her to be strong and to be firm. As such, her gait was without any air of concern. Instead, it was filled with resolve and a confidence aptly found for someone of her status. She will not back down from this. For in the end, Elysia was more important than herself, no matter what she must sacrifice.

This had been a repeated subject when she had met with the Queen, her mother, in private earlier. They had discussed the answer of the Dorthonion King and the concern of her mother. Calliope knew that her decision had caused her beloved mother worry. She also knew that her mother did not want her to fall in a fate much like hers when it comes to the matters of the heart. It is a sentiment she shared as well, but it would be selfishness on her part if that was insisted to this point. Knowing her mother and the others cared for her happiness as much, it was enough. She was happy and grateful.

Soon enough, the Princess had arrived at the courtyard. A handmaiden approached her as a dark blue hood was placed over her shoulders. Calliope answered the gesture with a thankful smile. "Thank you." The female smiled as well, though, she could see there was sadness behind the eyes of her handmaiden. Not wanting to instigate such emotions any further, she diverted her attention to her protection retinue which had already been prepared. From her assessment, it was no more than a dozen. That would be a fitting amount not to raise aggression from the other side. Of course, this will be expected from the other party as well.

But knowing her mother, this was done with great restraint and she was grateful. Although, there was one thing her mother would not relent. It was the tall individual fully clad in a black armor. A soft expression could be seen across her face at the sight which could not be ignored. Calliope had been graced by this Knight's presence a few times as a personal guard. Furthermore, she is very familiar with him by reputation as the best knight of Elysia. Her mother was always looking out for her and it was also something she could feel astutely of the man behind the armor whenever he is beside her.

She descended from the stairs with her natural grace. Though, there is a certain hop to her steps in a sense as she approached the imposing black figure, and without further ado...
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"Good day, Cyril." Calliope greeted the daunting knight which seemed to intimidate everyone around him. Yet, that was not the case for her. There was a sweet and a bright smile on her face. Her voice carried a cheerful tune despite the situation she was about to plunge herself into. As if, the affairs of marriage and the heart does not equate for the ones in reference to the country in her perspective. Furthermore, she is still able to smile in such a carefree manner. "Will you be joining me today?" She asked him in her usual bubbly tone. It is something which is a trademark of the princess to all she meets. But still, it is remarkable as she is able to talk uninhibited to the Black Knight.

"I am really happy to see you here." Her face softened with sincerity. Those hazel eyes of hers reflected Cyril's form. To anyone's perspective, it was like a scene out of a fairy tale. A picture depicting a dark knight and a princess of light, first meeting. It was something akin to that the beginning of every tale. But alas, it was not the case, is it not? "It makes me at ease. I will be placing my life in your hands."




"Through the ephemeral seams, an unveiling shall proceed."



This human was well-informed and refreshingly bold about her choice of words. She had called him beautiful, a description which was affluently attached to him most of the time. If he would be frank as well, she looked very odd. Hair of pure white, it reminded him of Abaddon who was rather proud in that feature of his. Then, eyes like the crimson color of wine which was much like an endless flow of blood in the scenery of Inferno. Simply put, it was a coloring unfounded for mortals like them. Although, it was not uncommon for the likes of him and other extra-planar creatures.

There was also her impression that he is not a Hellknight. From those words, he could weave that she had not expected anything higher than that to comply with her call. Logical. She was not underestimating herself; rather she had knowledge of what probable kinds would like to partake in a contract. As such, he did not find it unusual for her to identify him with mere scrutiny. For it was same to him, she is a noble who is untainted in the ways of lust. She is a fighter, though; he has no expectations of her skills, both in a brawl and magic. After all, she is not confident of her own strength to face whatever it is. Because, she is willing enough to have a creature like him devour her as long as he will do the dirty work.

No offense at all. This will do for the time being. There was also no harm in having diversity in his meals. Though, the concept being asked of him is very contradictory to his nature. She must know what title he holds more above than his rank as a General and the Archdemon's fidus achates. Yet in the end, that was fine. For all he had to do was destroy whatever is on the other side.

It will do for now.
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"I shall take who you are in exchange of your desire." Apollyon started with his hand still in the same position. It seems he would be more profound in his wordings. "Your most precious memory along with its dominant emotion for every battle I am called to protect your Elysia." He tilted his head ever so slightly to the side as his silken black hair moved like a wisp in accordance to his movements. It was rather whimsical in nature, but yet bizarrely cold in reflection. "When none is left of your self, I shall devour what remains of your soul and flesh." A small smile adorned his lips, but it was not of warmth, affection, or jubilation. Rather, it should be considered more of a grin, so cold, so lifeless, and awfully dangerous.

Yes, an expression which only an Asura like him could do. That is not it. This is an expression only he could do.

"Let us begin with your destruction, human."

When she takes his hand, then, he had finally made a contract with the Devil Apollyon.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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#, as written by Ion


“Without risk, there can be no movement forward.”



Three-quarters of an hour after he had been charged by the queen to prepare for the princess’s journey to the Temple of Sands, a well-known and often-used neutral ground between Elysia and Dorthonion, Cyril had prepared the retinue as instructed. Ten of Elysia’s finest knights, one of its most talented mages, an Academy instructor in Scrying Magic, and himself. Thirteen horses stood off to one side, and the men and women were currently checking over their equipment, ensuring the condition of their swords, spears, shields, and armor.

It was at this point that the princess and her retinue appeared, causing the entire contingent of soldiers to bow as a unit, Cyril at their head. As was his right as their commander, he rose first, in enough time for the princess to approach, a bright smile on her face. In sharp contrast to himself, she was rather small, and exceedingly bright, and the fact that she showed no fear of him caused a small murmur in the other soldiers. Not, of course, because they expected that she had reason to fear him—his loyalty was not in question. Rather, it was that most people could not help but be wary. There was just something in his aura that seemed to cause it, something that seemed to bother her not at all.

“Your Highness,” he replied simply, inclining his head. She inquired if his presence here would have permanence as she set out for her destination, and this, he confirmed. “I shall.” He straightened, the lances crossed over his back shifting slightly. It was then obvious that he was also wearing a bow slung across his back, with a quiver of expertly-fletched arrows. For a man of his size, it could not have been more than a shortbow, but for a normal person, it would be of more average proportions. It was, in fact, a precaution. The princess was an established expert archer, and Cyril was not the kind of person who would think to stop her from defending herself out of some misplaced sense of pride. If her own arrows should save her life, then her life was still saved. And that was he important part. But it would look unfavorable for her to enter the negotiations armed, and so he carried the extra weight as though it were nothing at all.

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“Your confidence honors me. I shall endeavor to ensure that it is not misplaced.” He was not in the business of making promises he could not keep, and his word was his bond. Perhaps it was a far cry from the poetic phrases that knights in stories were supposed to give, but his words were honest, and he would prove them with his life, if that were required. Turning from the Princess for a moment, he took the reins belonging to one of the saddled horses and gently led it over to her. The horse wuffled and bumped his shoulder with its nose, but Cyril remained unmoved.

“We are prepared to proceed at your convenience, Highness,” he continued, holding the horse steady until she was able to swing astride, then moving the reins back over its neck such that she could take hold of them herself. Once he was astride his own charger, the party set off for the Sand Temple. The ride to the border region was several hours, and the sun was just beginning to set by the time they came upon the grounds.

White marble and pale sandstone jutted from the sand at irregular intervals, evidence of the once-grand structures that had stood here. King Anselm’s party, themselves perhaps fifteen in number, were already present, the King himself at their head, a fact which did somewhat surprised Cyril. He had been expecting some kind of steward in the king’s place—as Dorthonion had the advantageous bargaining position, a minor insult of that kind was almost guaranteed, and yet absent. Under his helm, the Black Knight’s brows furrowed, but he said nothing. An optimist would take this to mean that Siegmund was taking Elysia seriously.

Cyril was not an optimist.




“And to propel this nation forward, to shield it against oppression, my life is little sacrifice.”



Lenore drew in a deep breath, meeting the demon’s eyes steadily. So black, like there was no end to them. From what she had read, this was the trait most unique to Apollyon. Lucifer’s eyes were the exact shade of blood on most depictions, Abbadon’s golden, and Asmodeus’s blue. Most lower-level demons had eyes of grey or brown.

His terms were steep, there was no denying that. Her memories, and the emotions tied to them—it would be a slow death, a decent into utter emptiness. What was left of her at the end would be nothing but a husk, a shell, a doll that looked like a human being. She would forget the people she loved, the bonds she had forged over her lifetime. And she would look upon them and feel nothing at all. First with her acquaintances, then her colleagues, and lastly her friends. She would lose the connection to her mentor, and to her very best friend in the whole world, Cally. She would even lose her precious few memories of her mother. By the end, she might wonder why she had made this bargain at all, because the love that compelled her to make it now would be forever gone.

And her immortal soul, to say nothing of her mortal flesh, would soon follow. She would be as nothing.

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So be it.

“I don't know what you’d want with them,” she observed frankly, moving her shoulders up and down in a light shrug. “But if that is the price, then I shall pay it.” This time, she did reach forward and take his hand, using her foot to break the line of salt and silver, allowing him to fully manifest on the mortal plan, in all his power, a storm she weathered with a strange kind of equanimity, almost as though she didn’t notice it. But such a thing would surely be impossible for a mage not to observe.

“If you do not mind, I suppose there is someone I would like you to meet. For when I can no longer remember why you are here in the first place.” When such a time came, someone else would at least need to be aware of the situation, to ensure that everything proceeded as detailed in the deal.

She did not seem to require much of an answer. After all, what point was there in trying to convince him? He’d do what he wanted to do, and she did not operate under the illusion that she would have any impact on this at all. Either way, she was going to inform the person she trusted most. She did not expect he would be too happy with her, but she did know he would understand.

He’d done the same, after all.




“Sometimes, those willing to sacrifice the most do not understand the value of what will be lost.”



The Headmaster’s office sat on one of the highest floors of the White Tower, home of the Academie de Magia, more often just called the Academy. There were, as usual of late, two figures currently in the room, one of them standing behind the other’s shoulder. This one was a woman, though assuredly not just any woman.

She was a stunningly-beautiful creature, enough so that it was no difficulty to suppose that she must not truly be human, and indeed, she was something very different. A cascade of bright, emerald-colored hair crowned her head and trailed to the floor behind her, the saturated hue a sharp contrast with the simple white robes that adorned her frame, though on her, they might as well have been liquid silver and gold.

She held a stave in one hand, then end of it planted against the floor, and her head was slightly bowed, a soft hum escaping her lips, just a whisper of the most delicate spellsong. It stopped, and she raised her head, opening brilliant viridian eyes.

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“Master Emrys, Miss Lenore has completed her contract. She has summoned General Apollyon to the mortal plane. She is on her way to see you.”

Casting her sight out much further, she continued. “The Princess’s party has reached the Sand Temple, but my vision is unclear.” That itself was not to be unexpected, considering who Cyril was, and just whose talent he had inherited. But this was something Emrys knew as well as she did. One of only two humans to be trusted with the secret, out of the necessity of the suit of armor, she understood.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"Without wavering, I shall face whatever life throws at me for I know what is important."



It was comforting to know that Cyril shall be accompanying her for this junction. Despite the demeanor, she presents, Calliope is still allowed to feel uneasiness, even if she had to hide it deep within her. Truly, she had caused him a few misdemeanors due to her tendency to elude. However, he was rather different from the other guards who panic, fluster, complain, and ignore. Instead, he silently looked for her and undoubtedly find her, a feat to be commended. He would calmly yet briefly asked her to return. And somehow, she had slowly relied on him that wherever she goes, he will certainly find her and take her back home.

With that trail of thought, she took notice of the bow on his back. There was no doubt in her mind that he will be able to wield it. Though, the size would be rather incompatible with his frame. Thinking for a fleeting moment, her eyes widened for a bit at the conclusion presented to her. Then, a small and appreciative smile formed on her lips. "Thank you for bringing me my weapon, Cyril." He was never the kind to limit her or treat her much like a doll which would break at the faintest touch of the wind. With him, she is granted a sense of independence and freedom. These things which are rarely given to her contrary to what others think.

Such gestures, she appreciates the most.

That was then he guided Ramie, her personal stead, towards her. Observing Ramie's show of affection, she could not help but lightly giggle as she placed both of her hands on both sides of its face. "You really like him, don't you?" Then, she leaned closely to her horse's ear. "I like him as well." Of course, this proclamation lacked the romantic inclination. Yet, it was true. In any case, it was answered by Ramie with a cheerful nod and this made her smile brightly. She gently patted Ramie, and then had a slight pout. "I wonder if he likes me too, what do you think?" This time she glanced at Cyril who remained unmoved and that was completely fine with her.

He spoke that they were ready to leave at her convenience. That is correct. There is something she must do. Taking a deep breath, with his aid, she was now on top of Ramie. Holding the reins, she looked at everyone who would accompany her and then towards the group who shall watch them off. She gave them a courteous bow and a bright smile. After doing so, she looked at the Black Knight and gave a determined nod. "Let us go." Once that was said, she placed the hood over her head and gestured for her stead to move and so, it did.

The journey had been long yet peaceful. It was a welcomed interlude for Calliope, though, it reminded her of a calm before the storm. Hopefully, it would not apply to this scenario. Speaking of which, she did a bit of fortune-telling before their departure from the palace. What did the cards tell her? The Devil. It meant various meanings, yet they meet at one point, restraint or bondage. That was rather ominous. Now, she was getting worried all over again. Not good at all. Well, all she had to do was to be vigilant.

Especially when they had finally arrived, and Dorthonion's party was already there in which it was led personally by the King Siegmund Anselm. Somehow, she could not stop thinking of the reading, she had. But regardless, she is here and would not back down from her conviction. And that is to protect Elysia from war.
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Removing the hood which shielded her face, a cold breeze passed by, allowing her long golden brown locks to be played. It also brought with it her scent of jasmine as her eyes of hazel did not falter in its gaze, so unyielding and filled with resolve. It would appear that the tales of beauty in regards to the heir of Elysia were no mere rumors. She was a fascinating sight as the fading light gave her a fanciful silhouette. From anyone's point of view at that moment, it was like the sun was giving tribute to her. But of course, that should be impossible.

"It is an honor to finally meet you in person, King Anselm. I bid you the blessings of the earth. I am Calliope Khthonios, Princess of Elysia." Her voice without any form of malice. Instead, it was rippled with gentle strength and elegant confidence. "I hope that your presence before me marks that you will consider a peaceful route between us."

Ah yes, if everything does go smoothly, this person in front of her will be her husband, lover, and King. That is the deal, isn't it?




"Like how dusk and dawn, it shall ignite."



What is the noble term they attached to such a human?

Foolishly brave.

That is correct. However, in his own terms, it was far more simple and effortless to understand.

Idiot.

It is a description which he will now use to relate in regards to her persona. He never had any expectations for her kind. It would have been a more wise choice to decline the contract. Nevertheless, he was never that benevolent in the beginning. Furthermore, it will serve as a good source of entertainment. The inferno has nothing to give him, but a series of monotony nowadays. Although, he would never understand human logic about protection. What is good in protecting something when one cannot protect themselves? He sees nothing advantageous about it. But, what does he care? As long as it benefits him, then, it is no concern of his.

Never will. Never has been.

As such, she took his hand. The motion of agreement between them, a contract now weaved. And then, he had been allowed to completely exist in the mortal plane. The barrier taken down for his freedom. It seemed that in the end, nothing has changed at all. How dull. Yet, that statement is not entirely true. Something is a bit different. His eyes did not look away from her as she spoke. It seemed that she wanted him to meet someone who would act much like a supervisor. Doesn't matter to him.

Though, there was still one thing needed to be done. The hand, which he had not yet released from his hold, was used as a chain by him. He pulled the human without the hint of delicacy towards him. Her palm positioned before his mouth. "You forget." Apollyon spoke as his lips descended on her skin. His eyes so bleak and so black, not once did he blink, nor did he cast his attention away from her. He teasingly licked it before speaking again. "Prey." And then, a searing pain was present from her palm. Something was being engraved at the very tendrils of her flesh.

After a few moments, he released her hand unceremoniously while playfully licking the corner of his lips. Their contract was now finally complete. His mark was now burned into her palm. It shall be the reminder for the both of them that they are bounded by an exchange so treacherous more so, for her. A bond that shall be severed once she is devoured by him. Of course, he does expect it would not last that long. And so, it would not be long before he is done with this mortal realm.

So, why not allow a bit of capriciousness for his meal?
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"Come then." Implying, he knew where to go. Without hesitating, he exited the room. He did not bother waiting for her. She will follow as this was her suggestion. Uncaring to the fact, if others see him. Why? It was the point, is it not? How could he protect this realm if he was hidden? He was certain that was the purpose of his summoning. To be a very big bad, scarecrow. She did ask to have minimal casualty. Although, he would add his own twist to that. He had always done that, one way or another.

As to how he knew where to go, it was his sharp senses. He felt a presence of something, he had the penchant to kill. Unfortunately, there is that foolish treaty. But as always, it was Lucifer's call. So, let him do all the thinking. With that nonchalant though, he soon reached a room where the silver plate on the door read, 'Headmaster's Office' Despite the name, he knew well what he was smelling inside. That putrid scent to his senses. Without much of any manner, he pushed the door open, which was broken into half.

How weak. He was being delicate with it.

In any case, his eyes caught sight of another human, a male with a shade which reminded him of Asmodeus' favorite bloom. Yet, his gaze was fixated to the being standing behind him. "Deva." That was all he stated. Because really, he could not be bothered with remembering the names of beings, he had no business of keeping alive. And also to put it plainly, he dislikes them.

There is nothing more and nothing less.




"The beauty of sacrifices is that nobody will ever know."



To say Emrys is unaware, it would be like denouncing the existence of air. He knows what is going on outside the academy, away from his jurisdiction. The looming threat to Elysia due to the ambition which had been cast over the mages of the kingdom, specifically, one of his students. It was unavoidable as men would always desire power no matter what, they must do to gain it. Of course, there are many reasons for such a desire. And he could not revoke that sense of logic. Why is that?

It is because he had done the same thing.

Despite having the title as the strongest wizard of the mortal plane as of now, he knew for a fact that it would not be enough to protect what he deemed to be valuable. As such, he had rolled a dice to see how much worth does his very soul amount to. And so, it was revealed to him through the ethereal existence of the one known as Sephiriel, a Deva, who answered his call. He did not expect her appearance completely, especially someone of her status.

That is why he is grateful for her presence by his side.

Upon hearing her words in regards of Lenore, he could not help but release a sigh. He had told her countless of times to not create a contract, especially with an Asura who are compounded by their dark tricks. But no... She had to make one and not only with any Asura. It had to be the one with the most sadistic streak. Really, she might as well contract Lucifer. That would be more favorable than being bounded with Apollyon.

As for the Princess, he remarks her desire to protect Elysia. Though, he could not help but be concerned as well, knowing her willfulness and tendency to be selfless in the most inappropriate time. Why is that the women he knew of and had the opportunity to connect with ends up as bundles of trouble for him?

Well, he could breathe a bit. It would appear that Nishant is with the Princess, judging by Sephiriel’s inability to see clearly. If that Master Knight was there, he knew that nothing terrible would happen to the Heir. Hopefully. But, it would not be said the same to him as the doors to his office had been broken like paper. And before his eyes, the one called as The Destroyer stood. It was clear that the General Apollyon's interest laid on the attendance of Sephiriel.

He is aware of the feud between the Deva and Asura. However, this was not the place for such matters.
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"General Apollyon. Welcome to our world. I am Emrys Uisnech, the Headmaster and Lenore's mentor. Though, may I suggest that you do not leave your mistress behind." There was no hint of humor in his words. Instead, it was polite by profession, yet had the edge of coldness to it. This is to say, he was rather too brave to take such a tone towards an Asura known for violence. However, he could care about such things. As of now, he is a bit peeved about Lenore's doing. And yet at the same time, he has understood why she had done it. "I believe there is no introductions needed between you and Sephiriel."

Emrys trusts that the two extra-planar beings would not clash senselessly.

Then, he had finally seen Lenore arrived. His peach-hued eyes narrowed which depicted his displeasure of her actions. Although, there is also the subtle sadness behind it. In the end, he could not truly question her conviction of doing such an act. Yet, it does not mean he could not be angry of her choice. "We will discuss about the contract you have for now." There is a strong implication on the last part. It only meant that once things have properly settled. They will have the talk.

"Take a seat." He motioned to the seating provided in front of his desk. "Then, tell me the stipulations."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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#, as written by Ion


“There is nothing more satisfying than being the puppeteer. Too bad that person is none of us.”



The party from Dorthonion, as a whole, were exceptionally well-equipped. The country was known, after all, for its military and the quality of the arms they manufactured. Man-to-man (or woman; Dorthonion was not picky about its soldiers if they had the skill), their army would have been capable of rending a group of twice as many soldiers to pieces; so superior was their training. But their advantage was more than that—their army was also triple the size of the next country’s.

But the one thing they lacked was the thing that could undo even the best-trained soldier: magic. There were mages in Dorthonion, to be sure, but not as many, nor were they as powerful, on average, as those born in Elysia and trained at its prestigious Academie de Magia. It was, from a strategy standpoint, perfectly understandable why a conquering king like Siegmund would be interested in bolstering his ranks with mages from this tiny, otherwise insignificant little country.

The princess rode at the head of her column of troops, and the blood-colored eyes of a strategist scanned over those assembled. From the way most carried themselves, they were good. Quite good, perhaps the elite of the Order of Thorns. But his were his elites, and so they would stand no chance, if indeed it came to that. There were two prominent exceptions: the mage, identifiable by her robes and lack of armor or conventional weaponry, and the man on the towering black warhorse. Where the princess seemed to shine with the radiance of the sun, this man appeared almost to swallow all the light around him, as though he were cut from utter darkness.

Ah, now this one, he had heard of. And it was all the evidence he required.

When they had stopped and dismounted, the lady spoke, and Siegmund rose from where he’d been seated. He himself wore glimmering golden armor, of a hue with his hair. But there was no seeing his eyes as anything but red—a strikingly-pure example of the color.

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“Princess Calliope,” he greeted in return, his smile cordial. “It would seem that the rumors about you were true.” Exactly what rumors he was referring to were unclear. “As it turns out, I hope for exactly the same thing.” Raising one hand slightly, he snapped his fingers, and from what seemed almost to be nowhere, an arrow whizzed out of the sky, striking the throat of the mage who traveled with the party.

“But I confess I’m not interested in ruling beside anyone. I want your kingdom, and you are going to help me get it. Keep the princess alive. Kill the rest.”




“I do not understand the persistent desire to rule other beings. All I have ever wanted is sovereignty over myself.”



Cyril was the first to react, and his actions were immediate: while everyone else was still drawing weapons, he had already moved directly in front of the princess, handing her her bow and quiver. “Your Highness. I ask that you remain behind me. No matter what happens, do not step out of my shadow.” Though phrased in perhaps an unconventional manner, the suggestion had a point—he needed her to stay within arms’ reach, but also outside the area he would need to safely swing his weapons. He would be able to do this even if she deviated from the instructions, but that location also offered her the best protection—anything that was aimed for her, to injure, presumably, would have to go through him first.

The situation was much worse than initially anticipated. The arrow that killed the mage had come from atop one of the many half-standing structures left in the ruins, and even as more of these fired, additional footsoldiers appeared from behind the structures. The mage should have been scrying for this, but doubtless his presence did not make that easy, and they would have killed her before she had the chance to voice a warning anyway.

So, all things considered, it looked like they were twelve against nearly fifty—long odds in any situation. Fortunately, Cyril could handle fifty, though the issue was going to be doing that while also protecting the princess. Thankfully, his men were very good at what they did, and drew into a rough circle, to better protect her from all angles. A few of those with bows fell into a more inner ring and started to return fire against those atop the structures, but it was going to be difficult—they were shooting into the light of the descending sun.

Cyril, however, took a few arrows himself, ones that simply shattered on his armor. He looked over at the king of Dorthonion, and when he spoke, his tone was just as steady as it had always been. “This was a mistake.”

Siegmund’s eyes glittered. “Oh no, I think not. You see, it’s really rather obvious. The Princess is the Queen’s weakness. With her in my possession, Elysia is mine, and I don’t even have to pretend to care about preserving its traditions or sharing power with my dear, lovely wife.. I can just kill them both and have done with it. Regimes change all the time—the mages will work for me just as they worked for her, and the people will be fine. It’s not as though they really care who’s parked on that fancy throne… as long as their lives don’t get worse.”

He smiled. “And they won’t, really.” The King shrugged, watching for a moment as his soldiers charged the Elysian formation. They were not cowards, men and women of Dorthonion, and the bulk of them were eager to get at—and have the glory of killing—the infamous Black Knight of Elysia.

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Cyril cut them all down, his lances moving too quickly to be seen, as soon impaled in one heart as slicing across the next throat. He did not hesitate, he did not stumble, he did not waste a movement—eyeslits, gaps in armor, exposed skin—he only struck for the places that would ensure quick, certain death. For someone in so much armor, he was light on his feet, but he did not attempt to dodge anything, for to do so would be to put the princess at risk, however minimal, of injury.

The battle raged, and one by one, men and women fell, until there were only three Elysian soldiers left, plus Cyril and the princess. There were yet twenty of the Dorthonion fighters remaining when the king motioned for them to cease. As one, they did so, backing off immediately, though refraining from sheathing their weapons.

“Impressive,” Seigmund drawled, glancing over the large pile of bodies before Cyril. So skilled was he that he had moved only slightly during the whole skirmish, just enough to form the corpses into an obstruction, such that any who wished to attack from the left flank would have to step over the dead bodies of their comrades. It would only cost a second, but in battle, a second was often the difference between life and death. Blood dripped from the end of each of the knight’s lances. The princess hadn’t put in a poor effort either, actually, what with that bow of hers.

“I have a proposal, Lord Nishant. Fight me, one on one. If you win, my men leave. If I win… well, you’ll be dead, so what does it matter to you?”

Behind his helmet, Cyril’s eyes narrowed. This man had proven that he was hardly to be trusted, but to kill him alone would end the battle with fewer casualties than fighting it out. This was something he knew the princess tended to favor. “The decision belongs to Her Highness. I am but her knight.” He turned slightly, such that from his posture, it was clear that he was looking back over his shoulder at Calliope.

“What would you have me do, princess?”




“What good would it do, to have the obedience of someone else, without their concern? Such people as that misplace the value of others.”



Sephiriel, for her part, had no desire to do violence to Apollyon. She was aware that the same was certainly not true of him, but that was not her concern. The terms of his contract would actually likely not allow it. Lenore’s wording had been broad, but this was not a choice without merit.

Lenore herself, on the other hand, was feeling a bit chastised by the look her mentor was giving her. He had a gift for being able to express a great deal with no words at all, though in this case, he did use some. She had entered the room a few strides behind Apollyon, apparently distracted by the intricacy of the mark on her hand. It was indeed a fascinating thing, though obtaining it had been somewhat painful. Fortunately, wounds tended to heal rather quickly on her, which was sometimes true of mages especially gifted in certain arts.

Gracefully lowering herself into a chair, Lenore pulled her braid over one shoulder. Large chunks of hair were already coming loose from it—it was always like that, never seeming to stay bound for long. Licking her lips, which had become slightly dry, she folded her hands in her lap.

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“Lord Apollyon has agreed to protect Elysia with as few human casualties as possible. In exchange… I am giving him a memory and its associated emotion every time he must take the field in order to do so.” If there were no battles, then she’d never have to give those up, but she knew there would be battles. Scrying had shown her that much of the future without fail, after all.

She smiled slightly. “If you would do me a favor, Master Em, Miss Seph,” she used her affectionate nicknames for them out of force of habit, partly, but in truth she really was quite fond of them, Master Em especially. He’d taught her much of what she knew, after all, when her talents had at last outgrown what the other instructors could teach her. “Please don’t tell anyone else about the terms. I don’t want… I don’t want them to worry.” There were few people who knew her well enough to ask anyway, but those people… she wanted to keep them away from all of this. Let them believe she got sick or something, when the time came. It was gentler.

“And… after I’ve forgotten, please keep going. Please keep Elysia safe. Even if I beg you to spare me.” She could not predict what she would do when her memories and emotions were gone, so she needed to say this now, so that someone would know how to administer the contract after she was too far gone, and until there was nothing left at all. When it came to that, there was no one’s judgement she trusted as much as Master Em’s.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"Through adversity, humans bloom into a flower that will not bend to the will of the wind."



Everything had happened at a pace which left little choice for a reaction. The sound of a body falling to the ground in a lifeless ceremony confirmed the unwavering intention of the Dorthonion King with a snap of his finger. This man before him was willing to create a road of corpses as long as he would obtain what he covets. And as such, those hazel eyes widened in horror not because of the trap created. Rather, it was about the loss of life and the ones which would follow inevitably through this altercation.

Calliope clearly did not care about her own existence at this moment. If he would ask that of her, she would give it as long as war will not descend to her beloved kingdom and people. As long as needless death and pain would be avoided, she was fine with any course of action she would need to oblige. Yet, it was not the case for this King. Her eyes hardened by reflex as she could feel heat searing through. There was no way she would allow this man to see her tears. He was not worthy of it.

And thankfully, Cyril threw her out of her oppressive state as he blocked her from any form of frontal assault. Her bow and quiver was handed to her with a request not to stray from his side. Hands gripped at the weapon with a restrained emotion as she gave a firm nod. "I would not lose." From that mere statement, it embodied the various emotions deep within her and the sentiment which made her who she is at this very moment.

Quickly arming her bow with an arrow, she joined the foray without a doubt. Her arrow did not have much of trouble seeking their targets. Though unlike the deadly spectacle of the Black Knight, she only aimed to paralyze and to render the enemy soldiers inept to fight. In the end, she knew they were following orders of the monarch they had pledged loyalty to. There was no reason for her to take their lives for something her own guards are inclined to do as well. Yet, this opinion of hers would be called stupidly naive.

She knows, but still will move on with it.

With the bodies of most her men lying dead on the ground in combination of the Dorthonion soldiers, the battle soon came to a halt by the command of Siegmund. Her eyes lingered to each of the faces of her fallen guards. She will not forget them and etched their expressions and identities to her memory. Blood littered around which also managed to find its way on her person. She was not disgusted by it as this was proof of life and death of those who fought for their own reasoning. Thus, she will wear it with a pride worthy of their lives. That is the least she could do.

Then, there was a proposal. Anselm seemed to be impressed. It was not a word she would use to describe this situation at all. Lowering her bow, she directed her eyes to Cyril as he asked what he would do in answer to the term thrown about by the Dorthonion King. She turned her body to fully face the man seeking to claim Elysia.
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Her long locks shone with vibrancy much like the hue of the setting sun as it covered her hazel eyes behind her fringe. As for her lips, they were set in a stiff line. It was obvious that she was not very delighted with what occurred here this day. Why would she be? This man was not the kind who would treat her people with the protection they deserved and especially the mages, he desired. Thinking about how her friend, Lenni, being subjected under his whim. She could not allow that.

"If it is the throne you want, I would give it to you in a heartbeat." Calliope started, her voice steady yet it had strong rhythm wrapping around it. "If it is my soul, I would offer it to you as long as war will not come." That was the resolve she had within her to ensure bloodshed would be avoided not only for her Elysia but also for Dorthonion. However, it was different now. His action had opened her eyes. "Remember this, I will not allow you and your army to enter Elysia. I will never die to assure you will not win. Elysia will never be yours."

Finally revealing her eyes, it had gained a darker shade as if it was actually burning. And yes it was, filled with a resolution that had just been forged by Siegmund's own actions. She knew for a fact that the words she had spoken carried such a heavy weight. However, she was not the kind to wallow. She had always been the kind to fight and persevere. As such, she will not back down from her declaration. Just so, she gazed at Cyril with a softness and a trust unbroken.

"Cyril. Defend Elysia and Never lose, my Black Knight."




"Every journey must start with a step, let this be yours as you walk your chosen path."



As to be expected, Lenore was broad in her request. This would yield the General Apollyon free movement in regards on how to deal with the threats. It both have merits and faults. He would have preferred that she had been more specific as the Asura which answered her call was at best a tempest. Furthermore, there was the exorbitant payment for the demon's assistance, so to speak. Yet, he should have expected such a thing from the one known as The Destroyer, an Asura who is known for his sadism and desire to rip his prey in every way possible.

What he was concerned about was her decision to accept such terms. She probably did not even show any discontentment about the stated conditions. Rather typical of her. He did tell her to change that about her as it would always be taken advantage and now, she had been. Then, there was her request to keep this fact a secret.

The knowledge where she will forget everything she had held so preciously and the emotions which drove her to this decision. All of it will cease to exist. One particular person would not be very pleased with this. He could already hear the ceaseless sermons of the princess. Furthermore, he was also sure that the young heir would do something reckless to make certain this shall not happen. It will be another source of his grief, as others would aptly describe.
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"They will worry. She will worry. I will worry." Emrys stated without any illusion and an expression that is very straightforward. If her desire was not have others be concerned, it will not happen. As long as those people care, they will fret about her well-being no matter the circumstances. And to that point, he will always be worrying about her. "Either they know or not, but I will respect your wish." This much he could do for the sacrifice that she had bequeathed without any hesitation. He will not speak about the specific terms of the established contract. "I will not speak of what I have heard from you and I will ensure the contract is duly uphold." His eyes gazed at the demon Apollyon who remained standing appearing like a manifestation of a living shadow.

"So you will not need to be concerned as well, General Apollyon."

For a brief moment, black and peach clashed in silence. Clearly, he does not like the sight of the Asura not because of what or who he is. Instead, it was mainly due to the reason he is here for. And that is to be Lenore's death. Emrys was the one who diverted his eyes first and looked back at his student. "I will do what is right. And so," His eyes softened to a degree, an expression which could only be presented to a rare few.

"Len, just continue to move forward."

That was the best advice he could give to her now. She must stay true to her intentions even if the time will come for her to be robbed of her sense of self. All she has to do is to continue walking forward. Because in the end, it is what anyone could and must do. After a few moments to allow his words to garner her understanding, he had decided to tell her what decision the princess had made.

"Sephiriel had informed me that the princess has reached the Temple of the Sands in order to meet with the Dorthonion King. She had decided to marry the man. However, an ambitious and power-hungry man like that cannot be trusted to seek a peaceful resolution."

His eyes held a stern gaze as it was upon Lenore. "What do you want to do?"




"A crimson veil shall cover today."



The man introduced himself. He could care less about such things. His relation to the human who summoned him was inconsequential. Furthermore, he could sense hostility whether by words and the subtle expressions. Bold and comedic, he would have laughed, if he had a sense of humor towards such matters. Unfortunately for them, he does not have. Yet, he did find something useful which could be manipulated when he begins to play his games. It was rather a good premise as he could see that white girl holds a great degree of fondness towards the bloom male. At the same time, there was an unyielding trust as she asked that the contract be followed through by the human male when her humanity disintegrated into nothing.

What proceeded next was boring for him. Talks about affection and so on.

They were useless and prevented the fights he desires. So, it was far better for such feelings to vanish into thin air. But then again, he would not have his entertainment if it had not manifested. This was a tribulation indeed for him. Still, it was not something he could handle. As such, he listened nonchalantly while looking at the Deva present. Deep inside, he wanted to rip apart one of the Archangel's Four. The only reason preventing him was the contract.

How disappointing.

His attention was only warranted when the bloom man reported about a possible altercation between a princess and a king in a place where there is sand. He was not very familiar with human literature, yet it resembled one that Lucifer had told of him once. Along with it, he knew there is a suitable description. What was the word which Asmodeus would use for this situation? He pondered for a while before finally recalling the word. When it was used upon him, he had found it tarnishing and annoying. It was only now that he had found the value of this word.

Adorable.

Though, reality was not as such. Truly, that was fine with him. For he might be placed into battle in the short time, he would be delighted for that. That would be positive for him as he would feel the sensation of flesh and blood splattering all over his body and soaking his hands in such a brilliant haze.

As such when the question was asked of what the human girl would do...
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"Present me." Apollyon stated as he looked at the white girl. This would be an opportune moment to establish that this realm, he is to protect was not something to take lightly. Though, he could also not go and allow whatever enemies this kingdom come. Then, he would devour them when they least expect it. He could already see the terrified expressions of the soldiers, he shall feast upon. The only problem would be is the restriction of human casualty.

Stifling, it is.

Yet, he is interested to see how this human girl would do. After all, he is only to take payment if there is a battle, he is to participate in. So, she could correctly plan and prioritize to avoid herself being melted so quickly. Though, he would not mind her being rash and reckless. For in the end, he had also noted her to be one thing as well.

Idiot.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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#, as written by Ion


“The most bracing of indulgences is a fight for one’s very life.”



Not allow him? Now wasn’t that brave? An eyebrow ascended Siegmund’s forehead. “My dear, stupid princess. My army is already in Elysia. I have to say, your southern garrison leaves much to be desired. I’m not surprised you haven’t heard, of course… a complete rout does leave it rather difficult to send a message to warn the capital, no?” He shrugged his armored shoulders, clearly unconcerned. Ah yes, this was the part of the flippant, roguish conqueror, now wasn’t it? Well, he could play it for as long as it took to get what he wanted, and he didn’t care who he had to hurt to achieve that.

The insult to the princess seemed to rouse the knight from his steady posture, and at her words to him, Cyril inclined his head, bowing at the waist. “If that is your wish, then it shall be done.” He took a step forward, and something strange happened to his shadow when he did, almost as if it were his very shadow were warping and twisting around him, rising like a faint wisp of smoke. It was almost impossible to notice, and it carried the faintest hint of sulfur to it.

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“Excellent,” Siegmund murmured. “Your death will certainly be a bonus, Black Knight of Elysia.” From the scabbard at his side, the king of Dorthonion drew his sword, a flawless piece of craftsmanship, possessed of a curious golden blade, one that seemed to catch and hold the dying light of the sun in perfect likeness. Of course, that was only for a moment, and then actual flames bloomed from it, licking up the steel like tongues and reaching tendrils, desperate for blood to slake the burn.

Cyril did not bother to respond. He saw no need. Instead, he leveled both of his lances out to his sides, striding forward far enough that the princess would be at no risk for collateral damage. The distance he put there was much greater than it should have needed to be, but he was not miscalculating. This armor could contain him, but not completely, and not if he continued to strain it too much. Professionals to the end, his three remaining soldiers closed ranks near the princess, just in case more treachery should occur from the Dorthoni side while their leader was occupied.

The initial clash took place quite quickly, and Siegmund was the aggressor, swinging his enchanted blade in a brutal arc right for the small gap between Cyril’s helmet and his shoulder armor. Only to clang with a vicious noise against the metal shaft of one of the Black Knight’s spears, deflected as effortlessly as though it were simply breathing itself. The test strike accomplished, Siegmund went to circle Cyril, which the other man allowed only until the king would have moved between himself and the princess, at which point he lashed out, blurringly-quickly, the spear tip catching a lock of the kings hair and slicing through it cleanly, the sun-hues strands fluttering to the ground between them. Cyril, who up until that point had been utterly silent, spoke at last.

“Do not test me. Fight for your life, or lose it.” He did not have Her Highness’s mercy; it would be ill-suited to one in his profession, after all. Men like them lived and died for this, for a fight which would pit them against the fiercest of opponents. Cyril wished that this were not the case for him, but he could not deny that it was true.

Anselm smiled, slow and sly. “If you say so.” Too fast for a mere human being, he leaped for Cyril, taking a two-handed grip on the flaming sword and bringing it down—on nothing at all. His eyes went wide, and he smoothly compensated for the overuse of force, his eyes casting about for the figure of the black knight, but he was too slow. Cyril was already behind him. The force with which the lance hit his armor was enough to crack the metal of it, spiderwebbing the plate until it shattered into dozens of fragments. The second lance, which would have found the king’s heart, was just barely edged away by the sword, and impaled his shoulder instead.

“Well. I can see why they favor you. Unfortunately, dying is not on my agenda for today.”

And just like that, the king, and his entire party of soldiers, vanished, as if into thin air, leaving the five total Elysians by themselves with eight corpses and thirteen horses. The posture of Cyril’s body indicated that he was looking down at his left-hand lance, currently coated in the blood of a warrior-king. Behind the helmet, his eyes narrowed slightly, but he did not voice his displeasure, if indeed he felt it. For the moment, his orders were satisfied. He had not lost.

And next time he saw Siegmund Anselm, he would kill him.

“Your Highness… I believe we must make haste for the capital. If what the king implied is true, it is possible that the people there are in grave danger.” His eyeslit turned so that it was looking at the bodies of his downed men and the unfortunate mage, and if one listened closely, there was something like a sigh echoing in his helmet. As quickly as possible, he and the other three loaded the corpses on their horses, covering them respectfully with their cloaks and stringing the beasts to be led together by one of the others.




“I have never seen death as anything but a tragedy.”



“I understand, Master.” Lenore’s reply was soft, indistinct. She knew she would cause her friends a great deal of concern with her choice, and indeed, that was regrettable in a sense. But she didn’t have a choice, not when the other option was the death of everything she loved. Not when nothing and no one else would answer her call. She supposed Apollyon may well be what people used the word evil to describe. He did, after all, have a reputation, and he certainly had not been merciful with his terms. But she did not seek mercy for herself, and so in that sense, whether or not he was wicked was completely irrelevant.

The problem of what to do about Cally was another matter. So she had gone to the Sand Temple after all. If anyone had bothered to ask Lenore, she would have been able to tell them that that’s what her friend would do. Anything for her people. So… how could she do any less? Still… “Sephiriel? Did the Queen send Cy with her?” Lord Nishant had never expressed an opinion on her nickname for him, which could mean anything from complete acceptance to very silent revulsion. He was not an easy man to get a read on. But Lenore understood him a little better than most, and she very much doubted he minded it.

The Deva, who up until this point had been silent, enduring Apollyon’s disdain as though she were entirely unaware of it, nodded slightly, then lowered her head to scry again. Normally, this sort of thing would only take a few seconds, but Sephiriel was silent for a full thirty. Just as Lenore was growing concerned, she raised her head.

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“There is a problem.” Lenore’s eyes flashed with concern before Sephiriel held up a hand to placate her. “The Princess is fine. Lord Nishant was adequate to his task. The problem is that the treachery there was not the main objective. There is a large contingent of Dorthoni troops headed for the capital right this moment. We have less than half an hour before they reach the gates. Master, what would you have me do?” She turned there to Emrys, a solemn expression on her face. Sephiriel was among the least bloodthirsty creatures alive, be they Deva, Asura, or human, but she was under a contract, and bound to the command of the Headmaster until such time as he died. She was not unwilling to do violence to honor that agreement, for she had seen into his heart, and knew he was a judicious, thoughtful person.

Lenore took a deep breath. It would seem her contract had been made just in time. Dorthoni troops were not known for their mercy, not on civilians nor on enemy soldiers. She looked down at her marked palm, slowly curling her fingers over it. Now, she had to make good on her promise. “Take what I have promised you, Apollyon, and do what you have promised me.” She turned her head to look up at him steadily.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"Foolishness and stupidity are my companions, yet that is fine for it is with them, I am able to be with the ones I care."



Hands clenched tightly around the limb of the bow were the only means to identify that the words of Anselm struck a chord within the princess. Truthfully, Calliope did not care about insults directed at her person. They can call her anything they wished. It would not even earn any scorn from her. There was only one thing which truly registered to her. And that is, Elysia being in grave danger at this very moment. There was no way she could allow such travesty to occur especially with her knowing about it. This Siegmund Anselm is consumed with his objective of becoming a conqueror. That was something she would not take from him. As all humans have the right to strive for their dreams.

However, if those dreams would trample everyone else, especially those of Elysia, then Calliope will not fail to take arms and defend it from the likes of him to the very end. As what she had stated, she will not let him win.

And then, the clash between Cyril and Anselm began. It had never been her cup of tea to watch or permit duels or even be immersed in battles whether by show or not. Yet, Calliope understood the relevance of such events in the many histories of mankind. That is why she had learned archery to at least connect herself with the soldiers of her Kingdom fighting for its prosperity and safety. To know, what is like to wield a weapon which could deliver harm or protection. There will always be a time where one must contend for what is dear and important.
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As such, Calliope stood there as the remaining three guards, true to their oath, protected her from any underhanded tactics which might be activated by the Dorthoni. Her face was without a hint of distress. Instead, she had a serene and confidence expression upon her face. This was due to her trust untainted when it comes to the Black Knight of Elysia. There was never once a scene where she could recall in her memory which he had ever broken his word either to her or to her mother, the Queen. Thus, Lord Cyril Nishant holds the complete credence of the Khthonios Royal Family without fail.

Rightly so, as well. The duel ended without a clear victor, yet the wound inflicted by Cyril should enough to cater who truly had an advantage. Consequently, Anselm had vanished along with his men much like a fading smoke. Leaving in his wake, the carcasses of her guards and the impending doom of nearing the capital. In truth, Calliope was blaming herself for such an outcome. Her reckless naivety had always been shunned by most. It was inapplicable to the current reality. Yet, she had continued with it, as she is prepared to bear the burden of her actions. Though, she will never be ready to see others be succumbed to it as well.

Nevertheless, she kept such emotions deep within. Never to show a modicum of weakness, words Calliope had carried within him from her father. As such, a strong resolve shone behind her hazel eyes. She approached Ramie, her horse, who was left unharmed fortunately. This at least saved her further heartache. Gripping the reins, she closed her eyes as melancholic and beatific words spilled from her lips. She was saying a prayer to those who have departed from this realm. Something, they can take with them for a new life, so to speak.

Upon hearing Cyril's words, she opened her eyes and looked at him. Those eyes of hers did not falter or show any signs of resignation. Calliope was not left broken but further tempered by the circumstances. She gave a firm nod. "I agree. Let us ride faster than the wind. We cannot allow Elysia to be harmed." With that declared, she rode her stead and ushered it with haste knowing that the others would follow suit. There was no time to waste. They cannot afford to be late. As it would appear, the reading she had done earlier had come to fruition. The Devil had truly descended.

Be that as it may, she had no idea what extent of that presage truly meant, as she rode towards the capital with one thought.

"Please do not let us be late."




"As the story unfolds, we will take the roles we see fit."



Emrys' eyes did not waver as he listened to the information brought by Sephiriel. It was not even discernible on upon his form if the news about the Dorthoni Army just less than a half an hour away from the capital concerned him. But without fail, it truly did. That is why he had put his own soul at the sacrificial plate. He did not wish to see Elysia and this Academy to be embroiled in a war consummated by a selfish ambition. This kingdom is his home and even if no one had asked of him, he believed it to be his duty to protect it at the best of his abilities.

Closing his eyes for a brief moment, Emrys was thankful that the princess was safe. He had no doubt in his mind that she will be fine under the watch of the infamous Black Knight. In any case, this only confirmed how untrustworthy the Dorthoni King was. He does understand the sense of never being satisfied. Such sentiment is popular among humans, he was not an exemption. Though, his insatiability is in regards of his research. Regardless, he does not cause pain and suffering to others needlessly. He strives not to do such things.

Hearing Lenore seeking Apollyon's participation, Emrys opened his eyes. That was right. It would be their turn to do something about the sudden development. Gazing at Sephiriel, she had asked him what his orders would be. Among all, he knew for a fact that she is a creature not meant for war. And truly, he did not want to use her abilities for such violent means. Rather, he would have her be an assistant to him in magical researches. That would be more worthy of wasting his time upon, than upon a childish ruler who presents himself as a brat. And with that, he spoke.
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"Sephiriel kindly protect the gates and do ensure that human casualties are at a bare minimum at both sides." Despite his dislike for the Dorthoni King, Emrys was not the kind to extend such emotion to the king's men. Furthermore, he already knew that if Apollyon would enter the field. It would be enough. As such, he would like to mitigate the damage the Asura would do. After all, the General has a reputation. As for him... "I shall inform Her Majesty, the Queen of what has happened." Finally standing from his seat, he cast his eyes on Lenore. "I want you to come with me. Payment will come after the deed is done." He stated without a hint of fear or doubt when such words might deliver animosity towards the infamous Asura.

Nevertheless, Emrys went on his way knowing that Lenore would follow. Though, the Queen would not be pleased by this report.




"Parting is such a sweet delight."



Delightful.

It seemed his time on the mortal plane would not be wasted. An enemy contingent was on its way to the capital as stated by the Deva. This would be one of the rare moments where he was rather fond of. Though, the defenses of this realm were rather feeble, to allow the entry of another force without difficulty. Pathetic would be the least description for such a defeat. Well, it was fine. After all, it was because of such inadequacies in which he will be buried in the heat of battle once more. It had been a long time since he could dive himself into a fight.

Apollyon is pleased.

Even the remark of the bloom man did not bother him. That was because he would prefer bloody battles than satisfying himself with a measly girl. Still, it would be an added bonus. He would be presented with dessert at a later date. At that sense, he will never be the kind to refuse. Licking the corner of his lips, he was under a favorable light due to the words released by the white girl. Apollyon would now officially be part of the mortal wars. In such terms, he is never finicky about it. "Prepare yourself." That was all he said as he turned his back from all of them.

The order in regards to the Deva was of no concern to him. She could try and busy herself with being gentle towards the mortals or more accurately, insects. However, it will not be the case for him. Yes, he is here to protect the realm. As such, it will be done at his own terms. He shall enjoy seeing the interesting expressions of the humans when presented before his presence or bear witness to his bloody pleasures. The excitement was filling his senses. This was truly wonderful.

Ah, he cannot wait.

Without wasting any more time, his black wings made its appearance. Not bothering with the more natural way of exiting, he went towards one of the large windows. From there, he jumped outside and his wings did not falter in carrying him through the wind and sky. There was no need for directions as he made used of his remarkable eyesight. And soon enough, he found the army who has the intention to cause harm to this realm.

Now, he cannot allow that.
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Diving down from the sky, his wings caused quite the strong winds as it fluttered. It was enough to allow dust and the dirt to be thrown asunder from their location. At the same time, it alerted the soldiers of a presence not meant for mortal eyes. Apollyon had finally descended as his feet touched the ground. His wings settled into its former appearance of a serape. Black feathers began to fall all around them signifying his arrival. His abysmal black eyes were hidden briefly by his silken black hair. Yet, there was a smile so cold, so whimsical, so hungry, and so vicious.

There was no doubt. The one before them was neither mortal nor a mage. Mere appearance dissuaded anything relating that this creature was of this world. Exuded presence was even something unknown to them. This being was beyond that. As such, one Dorthoni soldier spoke loudly the thought plaguing all of their thoughts.

"D-D-Demon!?"

Such a wonderful music, Apollyon's smiled widened even more. And without failure, the pride of Dorthonion was shattered into a river of blood. Screams filled with terror echoed in tribute to the one ripping and gorging upon them without relent. Others were crying and trembling in regret as they ran for their lives. Not cowards? Implausible. No one is an exception when it comes to the sole Destroyer.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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#, as written by Ion


“This place… it is not out of stubbornness that I protect its independence. There are greater reasons for everything.”



From her position at the window of her office, the queen could see quite far into the castle-town, and indeed just barely make out the gates through which the Dorthoni troops were even now attempting to enter. It was not, as far as she could tell, the size of a full war-party. Chances were good that they had been meant to die here by their king and country, that their real purpose was to test her country’s defenses, and make a very fine point—that Siegmund could enter and leave Elysia’s borders at his own discretion.

The Queen was not a weak woman, but… surrender may ordinarily have been an option on the table in a situation like this. She took the protection of her kingdom seriously, and she believed that, though exploitative and rather prone to deception, Siegmund simply wouldn’t care enough to harm her farmers and her craftsmen, the people of her towns and villages and hamlets. He would send her soldiers and her mages to war, it was true, but it would seem that she had no choice but to do the same, as well.

But even knowing all of that, she could not give this country up to that man. No matter what it took, no matter how many lives were lost or how much blood was spilled, Elysia could not fall to Dorthonion. It went against the Queen’s every instinct for the preservation of her people, but there were greater things at stake than her own preferences, even if she could not fully understand them. It was the Crown’s secret, something passed from one member of royalty to another. She was only the temporary keeper of this secret, but it bound her just as surely as any of the blood kings and queens of the past.

And one day, it would bind her daughter, too.

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“Your Majesty. The Lord High Mage and his apprentice are here to see you.” The announcement came from her steward, and without turning away from the glass of the window, she nodded, indicating that they should be shown in. When they did enter, she relinquished her vision of the outside at last, turning to meet them. Emrys was someone she considered a friend, and a steadfast advisor. Lenore… well, she would never love anyone else quite like she loved her daughter, but the strange little mage-girl was in her view at the very least like a niece. They were two of the few people who were allowed without reserve to speak their minds in her presence, without formality.

This was something that she tried to extend to all of her subjects in a limited way, but it was also imperative that she remained to them a queen and a figure of authority. But not these two. To them, she was simply Dianthe, and she appreciated that.

“I take it you have already dispatched Sephiriel,” she said to Emrys, seeing as how the Deva did not occupy her usual position slightly behind his shoulder and a couple of steps back. “What have you seen?”




“Nothing is ever so simple as it seems, especially when one begins to involve Deva and Asura in it.”



The battlefield, such as it was, quickly became a scene of mass carnage. She would like to know how exactly Apollyon believed this was minimal human casualty, but there must be some fashion in which he thought it was possible, for if he broke his bargain, he would not be entitled to what awaited him at the end of it. Perhaps he did not care about that, but it also meant that Lenore would be within her rights and abilities to banish him back to the plane he had come from, which she suspected would bore him, so there was that.

Whatever the case, Sephiriel at least did what her contractor had asked of her, and those that were not immediately killed by Apollyon’s rampage were swiftly healed, after which her magic swallowed them into the earth, channeling them either well away from the field, in the case of the Dorthoni, or back under the city walls for further treatment, in the case of the Elysians. It was grim work, and she had to do it while simultaneously guarding the gate, which was still attacked by those who managed to make it past the zone of slaughter, but in this sort of thing, Sephiriel was well-practiced.

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Throughout all of it, she kept up a steady stream of spellsong, the notes changing here and there as was necessary to alter the flow of the magic. Eventually, everything in the killzone was either dead, Apollyon, or herself, and she’d been able to save perhaps slightly less than half the total soldiers involved. Sephiriel stood still in front of the gates, the light behind her eyes fading as the song came to a close.

Over the hill, however, she could see more arriving. Ah, but no, that wasn’t a Dorthoni army at all. That was the princess’s party, returning, no doubt, from the incident with the king. She supposed it was better that they return now than in the midst of that. Lord Nishant, she supposed would not have much of an opinion one way or another, but it would like as not turn the princess’s stomach, and for good reason.

“Your Highness. Lord Nishant. I am glad to see you have returned safely.” Of course, she knew as well as anyone what the string of burdened horses meant, and shook her head sadly. “There is, I think, much to be discussed.”

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Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"As we are pushed to the edge, we finally realize what we need to do does not differ from what we like to do."



It did not take long for Emrys and his apprentice, Lenore, to be seen by the Queen or more appropriately as he would call her simply, Dianthe. Many had considered such a casual bond due to his position as the Lord High Mage. However, it was never the case for him. He is a professional and would address someone due to their given title when the situation requires it. This would be also his expectations from others. Yet, he had always been the kind to call a person by name. For at the end of it all, he was not speaking to that individual due to what has been attained. He was speaking with who is that person by heart and by soul.

"Siegmund Anselm ambushed Calliope's retinue." Emrys stated with his usual distant tone. But to determine he does not care from it, this would be a grave mistake. "She is safe. Nishant was more than enough." That should be sufficient to ease Dianthe's concern in regards to the princess. It was no secret to take notice the obvious love she had bestowed to her daughter. To those who had the eyes of ambition and power, this is seen as a weakness. As for him, he sees this as a strength like none other. One could never comprehend the extent of power, love and affection could muster when the opportune moment comes. It was even enough for sacrifices of great things to ensure its proliferation. Was that not right for him and for his student?

In any case, Emrys returned his focus at the task before him. "I believe you already know the army sent to test this Kingdom's patience." Dianthe without doubt knew of this as she could see this from her window and also her query about Sephiriel indicated her knowledge of the Dorthoni army. "Sephiriel is sent to protect the gates and to ensure there would not be too much blood." In connection with those words, he glanced towards Lenore to indicate there was something else present which would welcome the advancing army. Sometimes, he truly wonder if this apprentice of her was emulating him far too much. But then again, they might simply have their desire directed in the same direction albeit, different medium.
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"One of the Great Demon Generals has come to the aid of Elysia." His cantaloupe-hued eyes gazed at Dianthe once more. It was a fact that they were not unfamiliar with Asuras, even if it was only by half. "The Destroyer, Apollyon is currently engaged in battle under the contract of Lenore." With a Deva and Asura of such high pedestal as the primary protection of this Kingdom, it would be a powerful deterrent towards anyone who has malign intentions towards it. Though, this would also cause the Dorthoni King to be more desperate in his attempts to gain commandment over the Elysian Mages. And that would be the very dangerous portion of this so-called invasion.

To feel wretchedness, it will propel a person to do the most extreme of methods without any regard for self-preservation. And those are the most perilous.

"You know well, this is but a delaying tactic. Siegmund Anselm is a man filled with great worldly desires. He is willing to do anything to see its completion." Emrys' eyes narrowed ever so briefly to show the seriousness of the question he was about to ask. "How far are you willing to go Dianthe? War is inevitable at this point."

Truthfully so, it was reality in which others say to be most dreadful than nightmares.




"I have never seen such a sight in my life enough to repulse all of that is dead."



With speed unyielding, Calliope drove her stead to what it could achieve in its run. She could not bear the thought of being late and be welcomed by a sight which could have been attenuated. Her efforts to avoid any kinds of battle had been rewarded with such harshness. The threat was now knocking upon the gates of Elysia. And yet, she still clings to the stern belief of hers that it will be possible in some way or another to avoid the unnecessary lost. This would be the moment where most would call her to wake up from such a pipe dream.

But dreams are meant to come true, are they not?

And that is why as she and the others reached the top of the hill, her eyes widened in complete revulsion and shock. Calliope had braced herself for a scenery much like what happened at the Sands Temple. However, this far worse than that. Right now, she was gazing at a panorama resembling that of a world depicted in literature as Inferno.

The princess had slowly came to a stop where the Deva Sephiriel addressed her and Cyril. Her expression was still that of horror and total disbelief. "What happened here?" Her voice was shaking from the nauseating scene. Tattered corpses were scattered across the ground like a discarded bag of marbles. Blood painted reached everything without discrimination. Missing body parts were placed about as well, either by decorative means, or as trash. Calliope knew that Sephiriel was not the cause of this carnage. She had known the Deva through the books and the occasional conversation she has with her when she visits Emrys. "Who did this?"

That was then, her hazel eyes spotted towering figure of black. Despite being tarnished with crimson, the dark hue did not seize to radiate in such a excited and malevolent manner.
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It had become quiet and still. Probably the cause is that no one was left in the field alive except for the Deva and Asura. At the middle of the bloody pool, a form so abysmal in its hue stood with such pride. Feeling the weight of a gaze, Apollyon turned to look at its origin. His black eyes met those of hazel who held such trepidation. And then, he managed to caught sight of a shadow in an armor, something the Asura General was keenly familiar with. A nonchalant smile appeared upon his face as a symbol of knowing before returning his attention to the meat in his hands.

Yes, he was currently eating. It would not be good to let all of his meal wasted, now.

Apollyon was covered in a bloody shimmer which none was his. Rather, he was even feasting on a head of a Dorthoni soldier. The only remaining part was an eye in which he playfully rolled through his fingers. And then, he threw it inside his mouth as blood trickled down from the corner of his lips. As it would appear, his time here would be pleasant enough. Humans are truly useful as meals and really that was as much as recognition they would get from him.

As for the terms of minimum casualty, Apollyon believed he had catered to that. Humans are fond of retaliation and revenge when defeat is absolute for them. It would be best to cut such source of resolve at the bud. There would be less death in the future. Though, he was not fond of that idea. Furthermore, he had prevented the loss of lives from the realm he had been tasked to protect. In his opinion, he had been lenient as the Deva was able to save the others. The death toll he had delivered was not even enough to cover his normal consumption, so to speak.

Thus, the white girl must compensate this troublesome chore, rightfully.

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Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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#, as written by Ion


“I was once asked what I was willing to give, for this. It would be better to ask what I wouldn’t give.”



The Queen was visibly relieved to learn of her daughter’s condition, and the line of her shoulders relaxed slightly, her eyes flickering back and forth between these two friends of hers. With the most immediate worry off her chest, she listened very carefully to what Emrys had to say, watching Lenore’s face. The girl had a strange way of expressing herself that was at once open and also mysterious, because it was difficult to get a read on what she did express. Right now, she seemed to be as close to neutral in visage as Dianthe had ever seen her, but the queen could not say what that meant.

It would seem that the situation on the battlefield was being handled. Sephiriel, she trusted implicitly. In the short time the Deva had been here, she had proven herself both extremely useful and also quite conscientious, going above and beyond the bounds of her contract to provide helpful advice and suggestions where they were warranted, but never in a way that would challenge the authority belonging either to Dianthe or Emrys himself. Shehad no doubt that an Asura would be a very different creature to deal with, but… as long as Lenore had control of which battles he participated in and which he did not, she supposed even a Destroyer could be of benefit to Elysia, whether that was his intention or not.

At the mention of Anselm, the Queen’s eyes grew hard.

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“Yes. I know too well what he is willing to do.” His father, the king before him, had been very much the same. She had dealt with that situation, and she would deal with this one. She would not leave a mess for her daughter to inherit in a year’s time. “War may be inevitable, but it must be clear that at no point is it what Elysia wished for. We are now in a position to take the measures necessary to protect ourselves, and we will. This kingdom must not fall.” So much more depended on their ability to keep it standing. She may not have done it knowingly, and undoubtedly, she was paying a terrible price for it, but Lenore may just have saved them all with her actions.

“To answer your question, Emrys,” the queen continued, a soft sigh escaping her for a moment as she regarded her two friends. “I am willing to go exactly as far as is necessary to ensure that Elysia stands. Whatever that takes, but no further. The kingdom must not fall, even if it costs us all our lives.” It was a harsh statement, but she did not deliver it that way. Dianthe wished that the world were not this way. She wished that diplomacy were still an option with the Dorthoni. And she would be examining her options thoroughly—all of them. And consulting with every advisor and trusted person she had. But the world was not light and softness. It was cold, and it was hard, and what sunshine could be found was all the more precious for its rarity. She knew this, and she would fight to her last breath to preserve it even still.




“Everything needs to eat.”



Cyril had seen more than one vicious battlefield over the course of his life. In fact, he had seen battlefields devastated by both multiple Asura and also some of the strongest Deva there were. This… this was nothing compared to that. It was common knowledge among those who had contact with the other planes that Asura fed on human flesh. Deva could if they chose to feed on human magic. Both could consume souls like food, and doing so granted them great power. So the claw marks, bite wounds, and missing chunks of flesh in the dead did not surprise him.

They did not even stir his iron stomach.

But the same was evidently not true of the princess, and he could not blame her for that. She wasn’t supposed to be like him. He’d have been more perturbed if this had not bothered her in the same way it did not bother him. If Cyril had his way, she would never reach that point, as her mother never had. In response to her highness’s question, he answered: “Asura. Human flesh is a food source like any other to one of them.”

At this point on their way to the gates, they ran into the actual Asura responsible. Cyril recognized him immediately, and apparently this was mutual, given the expression on Apollyon’s face. Under his helmet, the knight’s lips pursed.

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Sephiriel sighed, shaking her head. It wasn’t that she disapproved exactly; this field was actually relatively mild as far as aftermath went. She’d been able to save almost half the Dorthoni, and nearly all the members of the elysian garrison were still alive. The others who’d survived would be sure to carry a very fearsome message back indeed: Elysia had the protection of a maneating Asura, more than enough to handle half a battalion in a matter of minutes, not hours. It would certainly make anyone think twice, even Anselm.

“There will be time to discuss things later,” she advised gently. “For now, Your Highness, I believe your mother would be grateful to learn that you have returned.” The group proceeded toward the gates, though Cyril never did give Apollyon his back, out of some old instinct about such things, perhaps. The portals opened to admit them, and then they were in the city once more.

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Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"Tick Tock, as the crow descends with a message sealed with a kiss."



Black much like an endless abyss were the dye of those eyes scouring the fields. The scenery was rather bland for his taste. All due to the Deva's interference and the condition stipulated in his contract. In any case, there were no more stragglers present. How pitiful. Apollyon had expected a bit more resistance. Why so? Sacrifices were made to summon him and even the likes of that Deva to this plane. It was not for public display for certain. They were asked to protect this realm probably from the ones he had eaten. But, they really did not amount to anything except for filling his hunger. Are they so strong that the strength of mortals could not overcome it? This further cemented his opinion of humans.

Utterly weaklings.

Speaking of which, that boy was also present here. Apollyon hardly believed that this realm lacks firepower, so to say. The only thing he could think about was their useless attachment for peace and admiration for restraint. Pathetic. That is what he would describe the humans completely. Though, he was fine with it in the grand scope of things. For, he is able to feast and be not bored which was so often his emotion in Inferno. On the sideline, that Lucifer did say something about plans. But, he really is not fond of complicated things. Thus, he will simply stand to what he knows.

Hearing the spectators leave, the sense of caution hanged thickly in the air. Apollyon returned a fleeting gaze who were about to enter the town. It would seem that the little Heir did not turn his back to him. Perceptive. He would give the child that. At the end of the day, one must never close its eyes on an Asura. For, there is never a certitude about them. Actions and words were twisted in a visceral manner which are meant to tempt and to lure anyone into an unfaltering doom. Well, that is what tthe books say about them is it not? They were not far from the point.

Nonetheless, Apollyon has no interest of joining them. He does not like humans and devas. At the moment, he is depending on his nonexistent trait, tolerance. As such, he remained there in his position as he raised his head and looked at the sky. And soon enough, a melody attached to death echoed through the area.
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A murder of crows filled the yonder as their onyx plumage rained upon the ground. Apollyon had been attached to such animals by other asuras, devas, and at times mortals due to his wings and distinctive dark hues. If he recalls perfectly, this avian creature had been closely associated with death. That was good. He likes that aspect instead of its counterpart. After all, that is the tool of his trade and an activity which maintains him occupied. And so being correlated with such animals, he does not find offending at the least.

Lowering his gaze to the ground, he saw a severed finger. Picking it up, Apollyon gazed at it in a nonchalant manner and then ate it without a drop. It seemed that his participation in this battle is done. Perhaps, whoever was the leader of that army would send more. That would be very wonderful and he would be waiting for it eagerly. He could not deny himself of a buffet. But now, he would require the settlement from the white girl. As if to implicate that, the mark he placed on that girl's hand began to burn. It certainly has its uses, but not only limited to his machinations. However, he would not bother explaining it. She is supposedly knowledgeable, correct? She can find it on her own.

Like so, Apollyon spread his large black wings and take flight. He was amidst the flock of crows which simply calmly circled around him. Yet ignoring it, he began to make his way to where the girl is. He does not care what she is doing or who she is with. They were all irrelevant to him. Well, most of the things are paltry when compared to himself. But he does still want. and right now, he wanted only one thing and nothing else. Payment.

As such, he began flying towards the palace.




"To say I do not doubt is wrong, I always do, I am always scared. It is because I am still weak."



The words presented to her by Cyril weighed heavily on her mind. Calliope knew of Asuras and their feeding requirement which was not exempted of meat, human ones. Yet, it did not mean she would not be repulsed by such a grim and gory sight. Furthermore, the one thing which prevents her from fully showing her revulsion was a question hanging within her thoughts. There can only be one summon at a time. Yet, there are special matters that is one for a lifetime which was the case for the Lord High Mage, Sephiriel's Contractor. So if she ponder on that line of reasoning, then, there was something to be asked.

"Who summoned the Asura? Who summoned him?"

Calliope pointed to the general direction of the black Asura. However, this question was set aside by the gentle suggestion of Sephiriel. Closing her eyes briefly, she gave a nod. That was right. She should see her mother for now. It was without doubt that worry was hovering above her mother. For now, it would be one of her priorities, to inform her mother that she had returned safely even though at a notable expense. "You are right. I should see mother." She took one final look at the Asura responsible for the carnage. Though, the creature seemed unconcerned about them. And then, she looked at Sephiriel, "Thank you." There was a small smile upon her lips and then gazed at Cyril. "Let us go."

It did not take that long for Calliope to see her mother. With a polite knock to address her presence, "Mother, I have returned." She then opened the door and was welcomed with two familiar faces. "Lord Emrys? Lenni?" Surprise was present upon her face, but this one was of pleasantness. "Why have you come?" Ah, that is right. She should not have asked that. This conflict with Dorthonion had stemmed from the magical strength of Elysia. And with that issue, these two people are the most concerned. To the point, the Lord High Mage had entered a contract with the Deva, Sephiriel. "Ah... You must already know..."
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Lowering her head a bit, her hazel eyes were clouded with melancholy and pity not for anyone, but for herself. "I apologize. It would seem that I am inadequate for keeping peace to the kingdom." Her hands were clasped together as they tightened due to her guilt and shame. "I have failed you mother, Lord Emrys, and Lenni." She bit her lower lip in restrained anguish of her own actions. This was rather a moment which could only be presented to a certain group of people Calliope holds dear. She then lifted her head and gazed at her mother, to Emrys, and then to Lenni. That was then something connected in her head.

"You are the one who summoned that Asura didn't you?" Calliope question was more like of an accusation than inquiry. However, this is overlapped with great concern. She then approached Lenore and placed her hands on the other girl's shoulder. "What did he ask of you?" There is always something in exchange for the powers of a Deva or an Asura. The only difference, she had heard that Asuras are more deceptive in their conditions. And knowing Lenore, she could care less about herself in the process. "You... Lord Emrys... Mother... Even Cyril would need not do anything perilous. If I am strong enough... I am really sorry."




"Whatever fate does come, I will remain to see it all through the end with you."



So, it has come to that. Emrys understood the resolve that Dianthe has over this situation. That was enough. It is what he needed to hear for him to know the path which Elysia would take in the near future. If she was faltering, he would do everything necessary to make her stand firm even, if he had to become a monster in the process. For now, the onslaught of war would be prevented and mitigated by Sephiriel and at times probably by Apollyon. However as he had subtly stated to her, matters from this point might exceed from anyone's expectations. There was no doubt in his mind that other avenues might be exploited and that was fair in what they call the game of life.
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"Then, I must remind you. That it is not only enemies outside you should worry." It was not a secret within Elysia that some do not see Dianthe's regency as favorable especially by other noble houses. Fortunately, they are being stifled by the support obtained by the Queen from him through the Academy and the House of Uisnech. There are also the House of Nishant and House of Galdera loyalty to the crown, more specifically to the Princess. However, the House of Pallas is more of a puzzlement. It is deeply related by blood to the Royal Family and does have the right to rule if something terrible happens to the current Heir. He has no qualm with the children but, the Lady Royale was a different matter.

"Unrest will soon seep into these walls. I advise that you tread lightly yet with firm purpose." Emrys' words were halted by the knock upon the door. As it opened, it revealed the princess. She has finally returned and that would further ease the tension that Dianthe must be feeling. In any case, she seemed surprised of his presence along with Lenore's. As what he had expected, the girl does have the penchant to hide her actions under the curtain of not wanting to concern. The same could be said about Lenore, these girls were like two peas in a pod. "Welcome back, Princess. I am glad to see you safe."

This pleasant surprise soon turned into an admonishment. The princess was putting blame upon herself for not stopping this war from coming to Elysia. At the same time, she also sees this as the root for him, Lenore, and Dianthe's sacrificing acts, so to speak. This girl was truly too gentle of a soul and naive to a fault. Yet perhaps, it is what this world needs and in which she had also seen within Lenore. As such, he did not speak any further and listened to what his apprentice would say to Calliope's query and worry.

Emrys believes this is what they would say, a girl's talk or something along those lines.

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Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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#, as written by Ion


“What’s done is done. Is it really so bad, if I decide I do not want it to concern you?”



It was not too long after the battle seemed to die down outside the window that Calliope and Cyril made their entrance alongside Sephiriel, who promptly resumed her place at Emrys’s side. The Black Knight chose to keep his position at guard for the princess, though her did take a moment to bow before the Queen, rising when she bade him. He had not yet been dismissed from his task, and so he did not see it as complete. Even considering the fact that present company may well be the safest place in all Elysia for the princess to be, considering the combined might of the most talented mages and an archangel.

Lenore smiled at the entrance of her best friend and the enigmatic knight, but she did not speak until she was addressed. “I did,” she replied softly. She had tried the Deva first, and then the other extraplanar beings, of less power but more benevolence, save that none of them had heeded her call. Some of them had even seemed… wary of her. Afraid. She could not fathom why. But such was obviously not the case with the Asura who had answered the summons, and how she was bound by the terms of their agreement. Well, there was nothing to be done about that except abide by them. When Cally asked after them, however, Lenore only smiled.

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“Oh, don’t worry about that, Cally. It won’t affect Elysia.” Lenore knew, of course, that her friend cared about her personally as well as the country. It was one of the reasons why she loved her so dearly, in the way that only those who have been bonded since childhood can. But even so, there were things that she did not want her friend to concern herself with. She had enough problems to worry about, being the princess and the heir.

Tilting her head to the side, Lenore seemed to look past her friend for just a moment when she spoke, apologizing for not being able to save the kingdom on her own. “Well that’s rather silly, isn’t it? There’s a kingdom full of people, Cally; we’re all in this together, and so it will take the strength of all of us to protect ourselves.”

Of course, it was at this point that the mark on her palm began to burn. It was her turn to be summoned, it would seem. The smile faded from her face, into an expression of serene calm. “He calls,” she said simply, and the Queen nodded, dismissing her from the room. Lenore bowed slightly, and took her leave, the mark itself seemingly guiding her to a location.

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Cyril, meanwhile, had remained silent thus far, though perhaps it would be fair to say that he was as entitled as anyone else here to speak, save of course that the Queen and Princess outranked him. Neither would consider enforcing their status in this setting, though, and he knew that. “She is right, to a point, Your Highness. Just as it is your duty to protect the kingdom in the ways that are possible for you, so we have the same duty, to serve Elysia by the means we are most capable. It is not a failing on your part that we are called upon to do this.” His helmet turned slightly, and he inclined his head in recognition of Emrys’s point.

“I suspect that Dorthonion will think twice before attacking again. We have time. But in that time, it may well become evident that Elysia is not as united as it needs to be.” The Queen took the point well. She had been long aware that there were elements in the nobility that were none too fond of her, however well it was masked with courtesy and polite distance. It saddened her, to know that the issue of her daughter’s regency had caused so much internal strife, but in the end, she had needed to fight for Calliope’s sake. And that was something she would always do, no matter how much it cost her personally. That was what it meant to be a mother.

“You are both very perceptive,” she agreed softly. “I will take your caution under advisement. But it is as Cyril says. Though the kingdom may rest on my shoulders, I lean on all of you. For your support, I am most grateful.”




The burning sensation in her hand led Lenore to the roof of the west tower, where Apollyon was already present. “Hello, Apollyon," she greeted with a distant smile, looking out at the kingdom over his shoulder for just a moment. “Thank you for defending my home. I will uphold my obligation as well."

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Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"It is at times like these, I feel most blessed and most happy."



There it was again. The sense where she feels so unreliable. Calliope knew for a fact that she was not as powerful as Lord Emrys or Lenore. She has no magical abilities and was plainly human. There was nothing she could do about that. In terms of skills, she knew that there are many inadequacies inside of her. The prospect that she still lives would be entirely placed on Cyril's protection of her. And because, she is unable to do such things. It had been left upon the shoulders of others.

She does not like that. It felt like she had always depended upon them. Due to that, Lenore made a contract with that Asura. A memory of that battleground irked her. Even if they were enemies, Calliope would not wish such a fate on anyone. As such, she worries what kind of contract was made between her friend and that Asura. Though, she does hope it was not twisted as she is imagining it to be.

Yet, she hardly believes that now.

Lenore spoke that it would not affect Elysia. Therefore, Calliope concluded that there was more to that. Being her best friend, she is able to discern certain things about her white maiden friend. "That makes me worry more Lenni... What are you not telling me?" She softly stated as her eyes reflected her concern. It had been Lenore's tendency to answer her queries with a different associated matter when the deed she was going to do has cruel reflection upon herself.

However, the subject was shifted to her statement about being a failure. Lenore said that she was being silly. Why was that? Caliiope looked at her friend with confused eyes. Apparently, she did not take offense on that. For as the bond they have, she knew that Lenore would always find words that truly matter. And like so, she felt that what has been said has merit. She was about to say something about it when Lenore spoke of someone calling.

Asura.

It was the only word that entered her thoughts. That black creature was probably going to ask something of Lenore. The only thing that Calliope was not certain whether this was by whim or by the conditions set by the contract. Yet, she was not able to say anything as Lenore had already left. Worry flashed across her eyes as she watched the doors closed. Lenore was not telling her something. And still, she let her friend go with that smile. Why is that all she could when it really counts was to watch?

Calliope was only taken from her inner monologue upon hearing Cyril speaking. She slowly looked at him. He supported Lenore's earlier words and stated that it was not her failure when they come and do their part in protecting the kingdom. Yes, she did forget that basic fact. This was not only her country. It was theirs as well.
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Gathering all what was said, Calliope could not help but hold her face in an attempt to hide the reddish stain upon her cheeks. She was feeling rather embarrassed about her thoughtless statements. "I am being silly..." This was even further by the fact about the notion of inner turmoil within Elysia both raised by Cyril and Lord Emrys. She was not ignorant about such matters, When her father died, the court was thrown into chaos and was filled with intrigues and schemes of many kinds. It saddens her that people who do not see her mother as Reagent or her as an Heir would use this opportunity to their advantage.

But then again, this was to be expected. It is inevitable in the history of Royal Court Politics.




"The dangerous game of all is the one played inside one's heart."



It seemed to bore in the young Heir's mind that she is the sole bearer for the protection of Elysia. That it is her obligation and her failings are the testament to the weakness she seems to perceive inside of her. Though, this also meant that if she is strong, there would be no need for them, technically. Now, it would be a rather simple life. He would admit to that. Yet, as what Lenore had stated. This country does not only contain one person. Strength cannot protect everything alone. In addition, there are things that others are able to do and she also has things only she can do.

No one will be alone.

Something that had proven a thousandfold. It applies to all and has no exemptions. At some point, there will be a person which one would need and depend on. An inevitable connection, no one can deny. This point was also cemented by Nishant. The man seemed to prefer being alone with reason or not. In the end, he still requires the aid of others on another aspect. The same could be said about him as well. Emrys knew that his strength will not be enough. And thus, he seek a contract in the form of Sephiriel.

Someone will need someone.

"Calliope." As professional as he is, the dropping of titles was sign that he is speaking in a manner of personal affection. "Being silly is not a bad thing. Acknowledging it at a right time is good. You understand that. So do remember, there is no one in existence that can do anything on their own. Even miracles do not make themselves. If you desire to protect, you must see passed your own strength. To be a ruler does not equate to being able to do everything. Having the aid of others, this is also a show of strength. For you are not alone." He ended at that as Lenore bid herself to be excused. As it would appear, it was time for the other end of the contract. And as promised, he will be here to ensure its proper continuity.

As such, Emrys decided to do the same. It was time for him to leave. Being Lord High Mage does not excuse him from being a Headmaster with responsibilities to the students. "As I have said I desire for now, I would excuse myself as well. My Queen. Princess. Lord Knight." Giving them with a proper and polite nod, he went towards the doors. But then, he remembered something.
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"In regards to Lord Aither and Lord Phanes' Death Anniversary, I have been requested by the Lady Royale to conduct a prayer ritual to be hosted at Manor Pallas." Emrys stated while looking over his shoulder. His eyes directed at Dianthe. Twins as they are, they even had the same date of death except for the year. And truly, Elysia had blossomed under the reign of King Aither and the protection of Prince Phanes. As such, they are deeply loved by the people. "She would inform of you this soon probably. Though, I have notified you in advance. Be careful." With those last words, he gave one final bow and finally left the room with Sephiriel in tow.

Who said that being a Royal is all butterflies and rainbows? Reality is far different from fairy tales.




"Taking is the only most reasonable weave to be done."



Waiting.

It has never been Apollyon's virtue. One would think if he even has one though. Perhaps, vices would be more suited for him. In any case, he sat at one of the parapets. He has no idea what part of this castle would be. However, it does not matter. The white girl would know where he should be. It was one of the mark's many characteristics. And so, he allowed himself be entertained of the scenery of this realm has to offer. After all, this would be his to protect as stated in the contract. Completely unreasonable in more ways than one, this is his personal preference.

Lucifer has a debt to pay with him certainly.

Plans or not. Apollyon does not like the idea of being under the finger of a mortal. Even if, this particular individual has something special about her. The blood which has the taste of the divine, it only connoted one possible source. But of course, he was not going to say anything about it for now. A terrible glint shone through briefly across his dark-colored eyes. For at the end of it all, he still relishes in the fact of inflicting pain and suffering one way or another.

No one is exempted.
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And like that, the white girl had finally arrived. The burning sensation from her mark should have subsided now. A smile both enticing and mischievous appeared upon his lips. It was time for his dessert and a round of destroying someone. Though, there was one thing he did not like in her spoken words. "It is Lord to you." Ah yes, Apollyon does not like being addressed by anyone on this plane without the proper embellishments, so to say. They are not equal to him and frankly speaking, they are mere cattle to him. Thus, why would he see the need to treat anyone in equality from this place?

Would you address your meal with respect before eating it? Of course not.

Standing from his position, Apollyon approached the girl. She was a midget. Everyone was a dwarf in his presence, really. He grabbed hold of her chin. There was not even a stroke of gentleness in that gesture. "Give it to me." And without fail, his lips crashed with hers. Not an ounce of remorse, passion, or care. Yet, there was desire, the desire to devour.

It should be around this time where the mark on her hand was slightly emitting a subtle glow. Furthermore, Apollyon was now taking one of her precious memory along with its prominent emotion.

How truly scrumptious... to tear someone apart from the seams.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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#, as written by Ion


“I have never enjoyed playing other people’s games of deception and artifice. So I do not.”



With the departure of the Lord High Mage and his attendant Deva, a grave mood was left behind in the room. Well, perhaps that was to be expected. News was much better than it could have been—regardless of the horror of the method, the truth was that many fewer lives had been taken today than could have been, were the Dorthoni able to pierce the gates. And without the Asura and Sephiriel, they surely would have, considering that he himself had been absent from the capital at the time. It was a very good plan, this one King Anselm and his people had devised; it was just one thwarted at the last moment by Lenore’s actions.

Which was not to say that Cyril was entirely pleased with her actions. He generally distrusted Asura, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that he knew one of such a status would not have agreed to serve without exacting a steep price. Even Sephiriel, arguably the most benevolent of the small number of extraplanar beings with the strength to make a difference in a war, had asked for her contractor’s soul in exchange, a fact Cyril had been able to discover simply by asking her, though he was under the impression that she had told very few people of this fact. Possibly at Lord Uisnech’s request.

It was at that moment that he felt a shift in the atmosphere, not straightforwardly magical, but connected to a being of magic—in this case, Lenore herself. The power being exercised, however, was demonic in nature. Something precious was being lost, Cyril could say, though precisely what that thing was, no sense was fine-tuned enough to detect. It would not be the last thing lost, if events proceeded in the way all the signs seemed to indicate they would. Protection, change… these were both things which demanded steep penalties be paid, and not always by the people who deserved to pay them. But like any insidious trap, it was of little consequence who was ensnared, only that something was.

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He was not as explicitly free to depart on his own terms as the others, given that his standing orders to protect had not yet been revoked, but he made a shadow of himself, as he was inclined to do in such moments, and stood with his back to a wall, watchful of the entry points to the room and doing his best to give the Queen and her daughter as much privacy as was possible. She did not ask him to leave, and she would not. The Queen was hardly oblivious to the dangers within, even if she preferred to believe that they could be solved with a little diplomacy and some kindness.

For her part, Dianthe stood, doing now what she had felt like doing since Cyril and Callipoe entered the room, but had refrained from for the sake of decorum—she took several steps forward and embraced her daughter, her arms encircling Calliope with warmth and parental love. “I’m so glad you are safe,” she murmured gently, drawing back slowly to look her daughter in the eye. “Are you all right, Calliope?”

She did not ask because she believed her daughter was a weak person, who would break at first difficulty, but rather because there had just been a very real attempt to kidnap her, to kill the people who protected her, one that had in many instances been successful. Calliope was as yet a stranger to plans falling apart that way, and the stakes were real in a way it was impossible to simply explain. It had to be experienced, and that was something Dianthe would never have wished on her only child, her beloved daughter. An essential part of becoming an effective ruler, yes, but something that did not fail to leave its scars on a human being.

“It’s never easy, is it?”




“I will gladly play this game by the rules that have been set, because in the end, the things most important to me are achieved by it. You cannot hurt someone who is willing to suffer.”



Was he truly the type to insist upon titles? She was a little bit surprised. “If you wish,” Lenore replied distantly. “Though what good an extra word does your name, I have never understood.” She lifted her shoulders slightly, a perfectly mild little smile on her face, as though she were utterly unconcerned with what was about to happen. It was both true and false, in different senses. Yes, she was certainly not looking forward to being robbed of memory and emotion, and to some extent she feared what it would do to her mind and her relationships, but…

She had accepted that this was the way things were to be. It was what she could give. It was what she could do, for these people she loved. Even if it meant giving up the love itself. Each and every one of her memories, good and bad, was precious to her, because they had shaped her into the person she was. That, too, was something she would be giving up, in pieces. So be it.

She remained entirely serene even as her chin was roughly seized, the only concession to her discomfort the fact that she was no longer smiling. But then, who would?

Her lip split upon the harsh contact with his, beads of blood welling to the surface of her skin, but she paid this no mind. She could feel a foreign presence moving through her mind, and she let down her defenses to allow this, because it was what she had promised to do. She remembered, just barely, something her mother had told her once.

Pain is not the same thing as harm. Suffering is not hurt. Not if we choose it.


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The mental association, as fortune would have it, brought to the forefront of her mind a very old memory, perhaps even the first one she could recall with clarity. In it, Lenore herself was only a child, a little girl with snow-colored hair and gemstone eyes, staring into the fire that consumed her home. Dry tear tracks were just visible on her face, joined by fresh tears as she came to a brand-new revelation. Her mother could not have survived.

She was alone.

And that, more than anything else ever had, scared her.

The memory was torn gracelessly, almost violently, from its place in her mind, and trailing behind it came the feeling—fear.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"Even if my path is covered in darkness, I will not lose my ground for I will shine to lead me on."



When there was no one left in the room but Cyril, her mother, and her, Calliope felt a wave of sadness. It seemed that she did miss the companionship of Lord Emrys and especially that of Lenore. Nowadays, she had less time to runabout with her own preference of free time. However, her melancholy had been changed into another form. This was done as she felt the embrace of her mother. It was very nice and warm. She could not help but closed her eyes in comfort. And the feelings which she had kept deep inside seemed to trickle ever so slightly from its cup.

At the end of the day, there was no place safer and comfortable than the arms of her mother encircling her form. That is probably why when her mother pulled away just a bit. This surprised her as she opened her eyes and met the crimson ones of her mother. Then, she was asked if she was all right. The entire scenario which she had become witnessed to at the Sands Temple played within her mind like a haunting movie. Blood, lifeless eyes, ambitious and selfish motives, they were engraved deep into her memory.

She lowered her eyes to the ground. In her belief, there was nothing she could achieve as long as she did not lose passion and never give up. It was a foolish path to take in the kind of world she has been born into. But, she did not want to lose sight of the ideals and dreams she had ever since she was young. Yielding was also not part of her nature. Yet, it happened how all that she hold dear had been threatened without much effort. Her guards slaughtered and even the notion that the Dorthoni Army was able to gain access to the Capital, it was such a blow.

"I felt so lost and helpless..." Calliope started as an image of the female mage falling to the ground flashed through her mind's eyes. She felt like an idiot for coming and allowing the members of her retinue to be exposed in such danger. How easy it was for that King to use everyone around him which included her. Moreover, if he did accomplish what he wanted with her. The standpoint of her mother would waver because of her. "I was an idiot..."

But then, she remembered...

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Raising her head, Calliope met her mother's eyes. There was also a comment about it never being easy. "Yes. It never is." Her hazel eyes appeared to shimmer with both fragility and strength. "But, I will not allow for Elysia to fall. I want to protect it and everyone I care for." A small and gentle smile appeared on her lips. She knew that if it was in her mother's will. Such things, they will not be allowed to happen to her. Nevertheless, that was not possible. There will come a time she must know of this and experience it. To learn, she must make those mistakes and then move forward.

"Cyril helped me to remember at that moment, I could not afford to lose. I must fight. And I will. Because, I am not alone and I must do my part. If I waver, the lives lost would be wasted and I will not allow that."




"Eating is fundamental and so are the tigers"



Mortals always attached themselves with theatrics whether it was by incident or by will. Drama. Sadness. Numbness. They were irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. As such, he felt nothing upon seeing the white girl's realization of being alone. Apollyon finds this rather idiotic. What is wrong with being a lone being? They desire individuality, wanting to be different from others. In that way, they gain identity. That is why they labeled themselves with names, titles, status, skills, reputations, and so forth. But then, they would seek acknowledgement through others, the need to validate themselves.

Tedious.

It would be better to be an individual by oneself. Less hassle. Less annoyance. Though, Apollyon could see the benefit of such scenarios at times. They were a wonderful source of such raw emotion. Something he relishes in a sadistic twist in both by situation and by desire. And so, he continued to rip such memory from the vault of her mind and take a part of her humanity as to say.
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Soon enough, Apollyon was done. He pulled away and released her chin with dislike. Yet, there was a smile upon his lips. This will be a very interesting segment of their contract. She will have no fear and trudges on without much of a doubt or even a question to any area that she had been told of. This white girl was already bold with her commentaries. As such, it would be an entertaining moment for her to understand the limits of her capacity. If she dies, it will be the end of his vacation break. Though, he hardly cares about such business and has no concern for his former peers. Still, the notion of being a mere puppet...

Truly Delightful.

Looking at the white girl with nonchalance, Apollyon licked his lips indicating of the dessert he had eaten and also the blood smeared due to the means of taking of the memory. It is true. Her blood was of exquisite in its taste. The conclusion of her heritage had been set aside at some other time. That was not an issue he had been tasked with and he could hardly care for her origins. All that mattered was their contract. Though, he would not mind the fun of ripping someone apart from the inside. As such, he would not waver in his desire to destroy her. There would be many more instances where he will devour a part of her. Thus, he was looking forward to the next battles he will be called to join.

"Till the next course."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant
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#, as written by Ion


“There is so much more at stake than they will ever understand.”



A week from his unsuccessful attack on the Kingdom of Elysia, Siegmund sat atop his throne—this one not golden, but made of Obsidian—hard, unyielding, and dark—his elbow propped on the armrest, leaning into the hand that rested on the side of his face, while his generals made their reports. He cared little for it, in truth, but it would not do to seem so in public-it would only invite questions he had even less care to answer. Dorthonion must go to war with Elysia. It must possess the might of the mages in that country. There was no other option, not for him and not for them, thought they hadn’t yet acknowledged the inevitability, obviously, not with a softhearted woman like the Queen raising an equally-softhearted daughter like that princess. Hmph. How utterly disgusting. So convinced they were in the right like that. As though everything were so clear. As though human life was worth so much that it should be preserved at all other cost. They simply didn’t understand. If they were in his position, they would do as he did; they were just too ignorant to know it.

At the conclusion of the generals’ reports, he waved dismissively, indicating that they were to take their seats at the council table. Once everyone was settled, he looked them over for a while and spoke at last. “It is obvious now that Elysia has resources we did not expect them to have. The appearance of both an Asura and a Deva on the field of battle has been backed up by several witnesses, and of course, the effectiveness of Lord Nishant is well-discussed.”

That family had been one of the biggest thorns in his own father’s side during his rule, essentially a singlehanded support to Elysia’s otherwise lackluster military. Oh, their soldiers weren’t terrible, but they weren’t Dorthoni soldiers. And there weren’t many of them, either. But it had been that generation’s Lord Nishant—likewise given to wearing full plate armor and fighting with lances—that had stayed the previous King Anselm’s own ambition to invade the magic-rich country. It was indeed possible to fear one man that much—apparently, his father had been terrified that Lord Nishant would kill his way across an entire battlefield to eliminate the most important target on it, something he had been known for being capable of even when his troops were otherwise dying in droves.

But that was a known, or mostly known, danger. These extraplanar beings were a different matter.

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“Attempts to identify these beings have given us the hypothesis that both represent the highest tier of their kind, aside from Michael and Lucifer themselves, of course. Our scholars have confirmed that they are most likely Sephiriel and Apollyon—and that is not exceptionally good news for us.” In the end, it was just a few more obstacles to overcome, but they were not simple ones.

“The Deva can be dealt with in a number of ways—she is reputed to be of especially soft disposition, and that makes her manipulable.”

“And the Asura?” His generals were understandably more concerned about the one that had torn apart half a battalion with little help, not the one who had saved some of their men from certain death. That was an underestimation of Sephiriel, from what the lore said of her, but one that could be justified. Deva were just not as inherently violent as the Asura.

“Well, there is one sure way to void a magical contract, and that is to kill the parties involved.”

“If we could kill him, we would have!” protested another general, this one the commanding officer of the battalion that had been slaughtered.

Siegmund raised an eyebrow, and the man flushed and sat back down, chastised with nothing more than that bare gesture. “It doesn’t have to be both of them. This shouldn’t be terribly difficult to figure out, gentlemen. We find out who contracted with Apollyon, and we kill that person. He gets banished back to Inferno, and a third of our problem is gone.”




“Even when the truth is swallowed by darkness, it is not destroyed. There is no destroying it as long as even one person remembers.”



Cyril swung the longsword in an arc that probably qualified as casual, blocking the incoming hit from his lieutenant with no discernible effort. If course, it was possible that he had been trying and it didn’t show through the armor, but those watching the exercise knew that this was supremely unlikely. The man was his fifteenth opponent of the morning, and he had neither slowed nor shown any signs of fatigue, instead carefully offering commentary on each and every mistake his subordinates made, until he decided for whatever reason—usually because the other was too tired to continue—that the match was over and ended it with a stroke of his own.

“The longsword isn’t even his weapon,” one of the newer corporals complained to the soldier next to him, who shook her head.

“Anything’s his weapon, Marcus. You learn that pretty quickly. Just be glad all you have is a few bruises.” They couldn’t afford to be injured if the battle should find its way back to their doorstep again anytime soon, and it was unfair to tax the healers with the burden of so many patients. Still, Cyril had scheduled extra officers’ drills for the foreseeable future, and they were to take what they learned back to their men and drill them as well.

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It was very difficult work, but they new better than to complain. And most of them never would. For it was obvious that however hard they were working, their general was working many times harder, and it showed. His form was flawless, his skill completely peerless. It was like watching some kind of war-deity; tireless, relentless, merciful only to those whose mistakes were honest. He never complained, never faltered, never tired, not even when the sun grew hot overhead. He had to have been baking in all that black armor, but he gave no sign of it.

For these, men and women who had joined the ranks of the knighthood from either chivalric duty or the desire to hone their own weaponcraft, being able to even see something like this, someone with so much skill, was a privilege. One that was worth the bruises. They might have a hard time approaching him in any other setting, and he was especially intimidating with a weapon in his hand, but in them was the driving impulse of a warrior—to seek out and defeat the strongest person they could. For every last one of them, their commander was just that person, and their aspiration to one day match him kept them at their practice longer and harder than anyone else.

This was something Cyril knew, and it was something he allowed, encouraged, even. It was simple fact that they would never attain that goal, but it was good to have something to strive for, and it had made better soldiers of all of them, one in particular. He disarmed his gasping opponent with a flick of his wrist, pointing his sword for the lieutenant’s throat until he threw his hands up in surrender, at which point the sword lowered and he backed up.

“You are not using your shield effectively. Hold it higher.” He offered the final piece of critique, then inclined his head in dismissal when the exhausted lieutenant snapped him a salute. With care, Cyril sheathed his blade, then handed it to one of the squires waiting on the side of the ring. He usually maintained his weapons himself, but this one was in fact borrowed from one of his captains, as Cyril did not himself usually carry longswords. It was the other man’s choice what to do with it, and the squires were well-trained in this kind of thing anyway.




“For the time left to me, I must do the best I can.”



While the knights of the realm practiced, their ends made more urgent by the specters of international conflict, life in the White Tower proceeded as normally as those in the know could make it. There was still a perceptible hum of tension in the air, of course, and even the students were picking up on it. It would be hard for them not to, considering that the magic in them made them more sensitive to such things. It was all connected, but some people were more gifted in being able to see the threads than others, and mages were the most gifted of all in this respect.

This morning, Lenore was teaching a beginner’s class on elementalism, or more specifically, its finer, more detailed applications. Most people took it to be a brute art, and to some extent, they were correct. The battlefield version of it most often involved large scale manipulations of fire or earth or something like that, and it undeniably possessed great destructive potential. But elementalism was also an art form, and in more peaceful times, mages had used it to create beautiful works, both of architecture, performance, and visual art. Sometimes, both could be combined into something that was beautiful and destructive.

The students in this class were among the most gifted youngsters in the academy. There were only four of them, and they represented all the over-twenties in the entire lower half of the student body. They would be capable of what she was teaching them, if they applied themselves to it, whereas most of their fellows never would be. Some never stopped seeing that as unfair, but Lenore had never thought of it that way. One did not have to be mighty to be great, and the true measure of a mage, she had always held, was what they were able to do and create with what was available to them. Many of the greatest innovators and researchers had discovered amazing things because they needed a way to do with less what it was believed required more.

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Lenore and her best student, a boy of perhaps fifteen named Klein, were currently both at work on a demonstration for the rest of the class, bending and weaving rays of light into the shapes they desired. The whole outdoor area had been placed under a darknesss spell, so that it appeared as night. The students would be better able to see what they were doing that way.

Murmuring the last few words of the light-bending spell, Lenore showed them how to use their hands as guides to the process, though that was not strictly necessary, and eventually, only their thoughts and wills would be required. Putting the finishing touches on hers, she brought it to life with a command word, and the eagle, comprised of a network of those bent strands of light, alighted on her outstretched elbow, just like a real one from the palace eyrie would.

“Funny little thing, isn’t it?” she asked the class with a warm smile, an expression which was answered by all of them in turn. Her odd mannerisms and misty voice had not at first endeared her to them, but her teaching manner had, and by this point, it was evident that they all adored her. Especially Klein, whom, if she had even the faintest inkling of things like that, she would have realized had a rather obvious crush on her. As it was, however, she was quite oblivious to it. His own construction was a flock of songbirds, and her eyes softened. Those had really required effort—the more intricate the creation, the more difficult, and he was clearly unused to the amount of energy required, a little flushed from his exertions, as though he’d just run a fair distance. “They are beautiful,” she praised, and he turned a deeper shade of scarlet, to the snickers of his classmates.

“But can you control all of them at once?” Lenore’s eagle took flight in the sky, swooping down over the students, who watched it with big grins on their faces. They were still at that age where magic was new and wonderful and each new thing about it enchanted and delighted them, and in this, she found great solace. It was, after all, this that she was trying to protect. This place where they could have that wonder, and never lose it. Where others would value and protect it as well, from the rulers down to the simplest farmer. That was what she loved about Elysia as a place.

The songbirds followed, Klein puppeting them with little movements of his fingers, and the sound of children’s laughter echoed through the empty field they had chosen to practice in. It wasn’t long before the other three were hard at work making their own little birds to add to the flock, and she was able to forget, if only for a little while, the unpleasantness that still loomed on the horizon. For her, for them… for everyone.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"People fear the unknown, but I fear more of what is known and I am bound to it."



The atmosphere was reveling in great tension. It was probably due to the military will the Dorthoni King had revealed. Siegmund Anselm was a man who would not hesitate to use force whether it is needed or not. A large contingent of his army was able to enter Elysia depicting their might. The only impediment it had in reaching the capital was the presence of the terrifying Asura. Eyewitnesses stated it to be a gruesome battlefield something which could only be seen through the mythological legends written in texts. It was something akin to the Walpurgis Night. Fortunately, a merciful Deva was there as well to mitigate the damages both in life and death.

No wonder, Elysia is a coveted land by many due to the brilliance of its mages. The ability to summon such powerful beings into this plane is no simple task and furthermore, an applicable compensation must be given as well. Yet, it was unavoidable at this point. This Kingdom would be ill-fated in a match against military actions without the dabble of magic and sorcery. One must allow the uses of such resources for sacrifices must be made for the rest. And all of these thoughts were presently encircling the mind of Young Lord of House Pallas.

Basileus had departed from the Azure Council at an early time due to a missive from his mother, the Lady Royale. It was a good thing that the council had ended early and would reconvene tomorrow morning for the enactment of military recruitment and assimilation of mages as well. After all, the Kingdom could not only depend on the strength of the extra-planar beings all the time. In the end, this is the world of mortals, and mortals must fix their own troubles in a way.
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"Mother, I do not think this is the proper time to discuss such matters." Basileus noted with a somber tone. His brown eyes, a strong resemblance to the House of Khthonios. In actuality, he has inherited his coloring from the Royal Family that at such times, those ignorant of the lineage would think that he and the Princess Calliope are siblings. "The Queen and The Princess are working hard for the sake of Elysia." He knew the dislike of his mother towards the reigning Khthonios Family. The tale where the Lady Royale had been ignored for the Crown that had been passed to the late King Khthonios was well-known. His mother's contempt was even enhanced when she lost the election of being Regent. "We are at war with Dorthonion. The Kingdom could not afford a struggle within."

And even if he knew, there was little Basileus could do when placed under the Lady Royale's convictions.




"Redemption and Retribution are both synonymous to Vengeance."



Revolting.

This is the prominent emotion that the elusive Lady Royale was feeling at the moment due to her son's comments. She would never understand why her children seemed keen on protecting the current one sitting upon the throne. When in the end, those wretches are nothing more but pretenders. The one who should be recognized as the Queen is her. That is right. She is the first-born and is the legitimate child. However, it was not so due to the rumors about her mother and a question was raised of her birth. It was even solidified when she did not take after the Khthonios coloring, so to say.

Tricks and lies.

These were the tools used against her as a result; the throne had been usurped from her grasp. Thus, what was wrong with doing such matters all over again? It was how those filthy fakes now cater to the Elysian Crown. Furthermore, she truly believed that her son, Basileus, would be a more worthy heir than that second-rated princess they all fawn over. Her daughter, Chrysanthe, was far more beautiful than that midget. She was going to take back what was rightfully hers and put those charlatans in the proper place and that would in the garbage.
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"How disappointing. To see your potential and talents and yet be meaningless." Her voice was suave yet had the intense underlying of disgust in regards to Basileus' point of view. Long black hair as dark as a starless sky swayed in the air as they slowly shorten until nothing is left within the unique headpiece of the Lady Royale. A red beak-like mask was upon her face which prevented anyone to see the true visage of the Matriach Pallas. "They are inadequate to be a Monarch. It is because of this, they had exposed this Kingdom to ruin." Elysia will never know peace unless the one who desired it would be annihilated. It was an effective method which she speaks from experience. "Diplomacy is nothing more but placebo. Those creatures are helpful for now. But you forget an integral factor. Who is controlling who?"

Finally standing from her seat, the Lady Royale began to walk towards Basileus. "The idiocy both displayed by mother and daughter will be feeding the powder keg which will question their right to rule." Stopping in front of her son, she slowly extended her hand towards his face. "They are not good for this Kingdom. They are a disease that must be purge. They are not fit to rule. I will have my birthright and you, my child..." Her hand was now upon his cheek. "Is the True Heir. There is no better time than now. We must not allow them to continue their infestation. This is merely retribution."

Truly, it was more than that. This is but a means to a wonderful game.




"We all have something and someone to fight for. It is why we require strength, but we must never forget why."



Despite not having much of a casualty in the surprise attack of the Dorthoni Army, there was without a doubt a blow in the morale of the Elysian Troops. If there had not been the intervention of a Deva and an Asura, the Capital would have fallen. And this idea irked the Vice Commander of the illustrious Crown of Thorns. In the absence of Lord Nishant, it was only right that the chain of command fall on the shoulders of the Lady Chrysanthe. However, this event only revealed how inadequate her skills to protect Elysia. This made her question her own worth.

Gaining her current station, Chrysanthe did not depend on her bloodline and heritage. She worked hard to garner her reputation and to rise from the ranks with her own efforts. It does annoy her that she could not win against the Queensknght. However, it gave her that title of being only second to the Black Knight. For as it stands as well, no one can win against her in physical combat especially with her main weaponry, the Sword. It is why she is rather disoriented with her own abilities of being a Knight.

This is probably why she had not made herself visible through the course of the Spartan training as instructed by Nishant. Chrysanthe was not sure how to present herself even if the soldiers never once looked down upon her skills due to this event. After all, they were taken surprised and caught unprepared. Still, this only proved that she is not up to the task and the gap between her and the Black Knight's abilities were great. And that is unacceptable to her.

"The General is really amazing isn't he? That spar is just..."

That was it. Chrysanthe took a deep breath and removed herself from the isolated area she had hidden herself in. The comments which she had caught from the passersby invigorated her with a sense of competition. As such, she made her way to the training grounds. The soldiers who saw her immediately delivered a salute and occasional a slight reddish tint across their cheeks which was not only limited to the males. For, it was no secret that she is one of the great beauties of Valnor.
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Image"Are you done for the day, Sir Nishant?" Somehow the entire area gained a bit of brightness upon her presence. The seriousness and the intimidation were slightly lifted. As the Lady Pallas was more known to be the most approachable between the two leading Knights. Chrysanthe was donned in her regalia which earned her the name 'Lilac Paladin' It complimented her features and at the same time gave her an identity which will not be forgotten.

Standing in front of the Black Knight, she looked around her casually. It was to assess the kind of spars that had been done through the appearance of those who had been called to it. "I see you have toned it down." She gave it an approving nod. There had been instances that she had mentioned it to him on how to learn the meaning of subtlety when in combat. This was more for the benefit of the soldiers here in Elysia. Though, it would be a different matter on the actual battles. "Here a reward." She proudly said as if speaking to a child who did something very good.

Chrysanthe was currently handing him a stick of multi-colored dangos. This was actually her favorite snack of all times. As such, she rarely shares it to anyone. That is why this gesture of her means more than a simple act of giving. Though, this tidbit is not well-known and is only shared among those who are ardently close to her. "You need to eat sometimes, right?" She noted with a small smile present on her lips and a pinkish touch upon her cheeks. Most of the onlookers present were surprised at what they are seeing. It was known that the Princess and the Queen are unperturbed of the Black Knight. However, it could be explain that Nishant is at their service. It was a different angle for Chrysanthe who despite her nobility is technically under the infamous Queensknight.

Actually, this was one of the many entertaining scenarios between the Black Knight and the Lilac Paladin. A saying had been established among the men that interesting things always happen when the two are present in one place. There is never a dull moment with these two personages at the helm of commandment. A relationship which seemed to border simplicity and complexity at the same time.
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When the dango was taken from her, Chrysanthe smiled brightly. "All right then. Fight me, Sir Nishant." The smile did not lift from her face though it was twisted with a sense of determination and purpose. Those big cerulean eyes of hers gazed at the visage of Nishant with seriousness. She was not going to take any answer than Yes. It was pretty much like the tale of David and Goliath. Though, this one was far more provocative. "You would not run away, right?"

She knew well that he was not the kind to do so and never will. However, the sudden challenge was brought upon the situation revolving around Elysia. Chrysanthe wanted to ascertain something inside of her. It is true that she became a knight as she was inspired by the tales of her father. But more than that, she wanted strength. And like many others, she has a reason that would not be taken for granted.




"To be a doll or a puppet, I will not be like such though, it is a fate most promising."



It had become more busy than ever due to the threat of Dorthonion. Right now, the only discussion which echoed through the hallways was how to establish a defensive line and to increase the military strength of Elysia. Calliope knew that this was inevitable especially with the kind of person the Dorthoni King is. She did even declare right into his face that she would not allow him to win. This should cement that she will fight him. Though, the real thing which annoyed her about that person is that she even really considered marrying the brute. Of course, she would not speak of this to anyone as it was far embarrassing. The possibility that he could be someone for her to fall in love with, it was a fleeting thought she had. But as it is, she was extremely foolish.

Releasing a sigh, she satisfied herself with one of her disappearing acts. The talks about war in the end are a depressing topic for her. Though, she knew that if she is to rule, such matters cannot be dealt in this kind of manner. Was it really stupid to wish for peace? To have this kind of serenity and happiness be shared not only to Elysia but to others as well? No, it must not be. After all, there are others who desired the same thing, enough to put their own life to risk, like her guards, Lord Emrys, and Lenore. As such, she must continue on the path she believes. She will show that King Anselm the true power of Elysia.

Finding herself near a large tree, she leaned her back upon its sturdy trunk. "You can do this, Calliope. Be strong!" She told herself while slapping both of her cheeks as a wake-up call. "If you intend to hurt yourself, I can show you a more effective one." The voice startled her greatly as she pushed herself away from the tree. It was so cold, so empty, yet a dark passion was wrapped upon it. She searched for the source and soon found it on one of the branches of the tree. A sight, she did not expect to see so soon after that fleeting meeting they had back then. The black Asura drenched in the blood of those he had eaten. "What are you doing here? Where is Lenni?"

Concern seeped through on that last question. Calliope is not familiar with summoning contracts, but she had the perception that the two individuals involved in such a connection could not be far apart. Was she mistaken? In any case, Apollyon took noticed this entire dazzling spectrum called human emotions. He was actually bored out of his mind and opted to sleep. Really, he was beginning to think that the enemy of this realm has no guts or specifically, a coward. He did even imply to the white girl to send him to capital of the enemy and let him wreak havoc. That would be more fun for him than lazing around this irritating plane. But of course, that did not happen.

"You know you should just sit on your chair or whatever and be weak. There is no need for someone weak like you to be strong. You have others to do that for you." Apollyon stated as he continued lounging upon the tree branch like a feline while those abyss-hued eyes of his gazed at Calliope. Perhaps, she will serve as an entertainment for him. "I will not do that! I will not stand by and watch others fight for me. I want to fight with them." Her hazel eyes were filled with fiery determination as she believed strongly in the words she had spoken. But to the Asura, they were mere noise for something else. "Then, can you kill someone? You say you are ready to fight. But, you are not willing to kill. But your soldiers are. Why? Do you think you are above them?"

Calliope bit her lower lip at these words. That is right. She does not want to harm anyone. But, she will fight. Many had told her to be foolish because of this sentiment. But, she will stand by that. It is not because she believed to be above anyone else. Her soldiers, the knights willing to die and to kill for the safety of the Kingdom. She was not looking down on them. Not at all. "No! I chose this path because I do not want to see anyone dying anymore or getting hurt. I just want... peace." Apollyon smiled at this with such coldness. So, they desired peace. Selfish creatures, aren't they? "Peace will never come without war. And war will always bring death. It is a perfect design of a never-ending cycle. A game."

The Princess immediately revoked that statement. "This is not a game!" It is true that he is a creature brought by a contract. He might not care, but this is not some kind of game for him. "These are lives we are talking about." He finally jumped down from his perch and stood before the princess. "But, it is. What better way to spend eternity? Death versus Life. Hope versus Despair." He grabs hold a bundle of her hair which made her stiffened from contact. He liked that reaction very indeed. "Your friends know of this. What will be your role? After all, the world does not revolve around you." Placing a kiss at the tips of her hair, he then released it from his grasp. "What are you saying?"
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"What indeed." Apollyon smiled enigmatically as he turned his back at her. He would end the conversation at that. Taking the first steps, Calliope called out to him. "Wait!" She even instinctively reached out her hand to him when white butterflies appeared around her. This impeded her from following. "Huh?" She was taken aback by the sight as these creatures flew towards the sky. "Let the games begin." Hearing his voice, this caught her attention back when she glanced at where the Asura went. But…

He was gone.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios
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#, as written by Ion


“Even I have something to care about.”



The meeting with his generals had left him feeling rather taxed. They were excellent military commanders, of course, the very best in the world overall, but they were too straightforward. He had to introduce cunning and sly thinking to them like spoon-feeding children. It was hardly a wonder that Dorthonion’s reputation prior to his father’s reign had been one of honest brutes. Well, anything could change, given enough time, and Siegmund was going to change Dorthonion.

Well, to be more accurate, he was going to change the face of the very world itself.

Most people, he knew, didn’t take much time to question his motives. He was the king, and what the king said was law. That part of his country’s culture, he did not intend to alter. His enemies saw only a power-hungry warmonger, too caught up in what a man of Dorthonion was supposed to be to bother asking deeper questions. It was enough that he seemed to enjoy fighting and violence. It was enough that the mages of Elysia would make his conquest easier. To them he was simple, and perhaps it was not entirely untrue.

But that was not the only thing he cared about. Not in the slightest.

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His trek through the winding hallways of the magnificent Royal Palace in Shiral, capital of Dorthonion, led him to a little-used wing of the building, still fastidiously maintained by the servants under his employ. The rooms at the end of the hallway, however, did in fact have an occupant, one that few knew about or visited. When he entered the chamber, there was an attendant standing beside the large bed that occupied the center of the room, its tousled state indicating that the room’s occupant was still in it. Awake, though, because of the rustling.

He addressed the attendant first. “No change?”

The servant, an experienced steward, shook his head. Siegmund did not require anyone to bow in informal situations. It was stupid and it wasted time. “On the contrary, Your Majesty. She was up all night.” The man pointed across the room, to the large window that dominated the eastern wall. Stretched across the space was a line of canvases, each with paint still drying upon it. Frowning slightly, Siegmund turned and walked over to them, examining each in turn. Most of them were unclear, depicting subjects from a great distance or through what appeared to be a haze of grey, obscuring the true subjects of the illustration. A few, though, were clear as day.

He recognized the subject of most of them immediately. The towering figure in black armor, lance in hand, could only be one man. He had never understood why so many of the paintings were of him. Now, he thought he might. There was something important about that man, but Siegmund could not put his finger on it just yet. A few more were clear, but the subjects less known to him. One in particular, however, provided him with an interesting clue. A horned figure loomed in front of another, trapped within what looked to be a circle of magic, his hand stretched forward. The other figure’s back was turned, but she was obviously female, and the distinctive color of her hair should make her easy to identify. He traced a finger down the canvas, drawing it back and smearing the snow-white paint thoughtfully over his thumb.

“The summoner,” he murmured, tilting his head to the side. Well, at least he knew who to send his assassins after, now.




“It is in the nature of everything to reach out for something to hold close. But some of us cannot allow that.”



At the address from a rather familiar source, Cyril turned his attention to the edge of the ring, making his way over in the familiar unruffled fashion. “Vice Commander Pallas.” He addressed her with more formality than most, but there was a very particular reason for this. Though he was well-aware that a large portion of the knights in the order were somewhat enchanted with the young noblewoman, he also knew that this was quite a separate matter from respecting her. It was true that her skill was undeniable, but there were those who would not be swayed even by that into believing that a woman belonged in the Crown of Thorns. Females had only been allowed into the order in the last generation, something that he himself had fought for in the council sessions held on the matter shortly after Dianthe became Queen. That she had allowed it was another reason many nobles took to think her foolish and illogical, but she had never wavered.

Because Cyril never asked her for anything, but he had asked her for that. And she had seen the benefit of it, and so she’s allowed it. Still, those women who were brave enough to enter did not have it easy. This was not Dorthonion, where it was commonly accepted that women could make warriors just as skilled as their male counterparts. Elysia was not a perfect place, even if it was mostly a good one. So Cyril did what he could to make it easier for those who chose to undertake this difficult path. He punished harshly those of his men who could not seem to graciously accept women in their ranks, and he always indicated his own respect to his female subordinates, including and especially his Vice-Commander. He did not address her in a casual or familiar fashion, or even with the title ‘lady,’ which could have belonged to any female noble. He called her by the one she had earned, with her skill and her labor.

That said, there were things about her that made little sense to him. Her next words were enough proof of that. Toned down? He only ever applied the level of skill he believed his subordinates would gin the most from fighting against, unless of course someone was being insubordinate and needed to be reminded why he was the Commander and not they. Not a lesson he enjoyed teaching, but one that he would. Her tone was not exceptionally pleasing to him—if she had any idea just how old he was, she would not speak to him as though he were a child.

Still, her intentions were clearly not to harm, and so as quickly as his ire had risen, he let go of it, something he was by now quite practiced and accomplished at. He took the offered dumplings, rolling the stick between his offered thumb and forefinger. “Is this an attempt to force me to remove my helm?” he asked, an eyebrow ascending his forehead underneath it. He’d never removed even one piece of his armor in front of anyone but the Queen, and that only for a very particular reason that could not have been served in any other way. His voice, though still mostly monotone, carried a faint hint of amusement, one that only the sharp would catch onto.

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It was a well-established theory that Lord Nishant was in some way disfigured or deformed beneath the helmet and other heavy armor, and that he wore it because he wanted to hide this fact from everyone. Another theory was that he always wore it as a form of training, to make himself strong enough to move as though his battle protection was nothing. If only it were so simple as either of those two things.

From a pocket, he removed a clean square of linen, carefully folding it around the dango. He showed care and consideration for the gift he had received, perhaps slightly more than it was strictly due. “I shall consume them later. I would be a fool to disadvantage myself by sparring on a full stomach, would I not?” The same note of amusement carried through, and he carefully set the dango down near his other things. Obviously the consideration didn’t actually matter—he could take down everyone in this room at once with both hands tied behind his back, but this was not something he chose to display or otherwise make obvious. There was no need. Of course, it was at this point that his Vice-Commander issued her own challenge, and he would not say he was surprised by it. Her drive to improve was admirable.

“Your challenge is accepted.” Gesturing to his squire, who was presently attending to his things, he resisted the urge to roll his eyes when the boy grinned widely and retrieved one of his lances from among his other practice gear. It was another subtle show of respect—though he did not need it to win here, he would indeed confront her with the weapon he favored. Her challenge merited that much. Those who knew of Vice-Commander Pallas called her the Lilac Paladin, perhaps in part due to her armor. Her given name, Chrysanthe, could refer to different kind of flower. But Cyril thought all of that was really silly. The woman standing across the ring from him was no flower, nothing so delicate and breakable as that.

If he was the starless sky, shadow deep and dark, then she was all the glitter in the cosmos, the stars. Stubbornly bright, hard like diamonds. And aflame with the desire to be better, to be excellent. It was why, when the Queen had asked him who he desired to replace his previous Vice-Commander when the man retired, he had not hesitated in the slightest. He bowed in the fashion of the start of such a match, and then waited for her to attack first. When she did, he blocked effortlessly, scaling back his power until it was just barely too much for her to overcome. As with all his subordinates, he did not desire to humiliate her, only to help her improve. She required more of him in this respect than any of the others ever had, and he had no doubt that one day, perhaps quite soon, she would be fit to lead the Crown of Thorns herself, should something unfortunate befall him. It was good to know.

But that didn’t mean he would fail to show her where she was still weaker than she should be, where her technique faltered, where she must improve if she should ever be ready for that responsibility. Because he respected her, he was not too easy on her at all.




“To care is no weakness. It only provides us with more reasons to resist the terrible, fight the horrors in the world.”



After dismissing her students, Lenore had lingered for a while to unweave the magic she had placed over the area, including the spell for nighttime darkness. Having accomplished this, she dispelled the remaining birds—a few of them had already fallen apart when the concentration of her pupils had given out, as it tended to with younger mages. Magic could be just as much about will as power, in some cases, and a strong resistance to outside influence or distraction was a useful trait to have. Lenore had it, but not in the usual way.

Her deconstruction complete, she decided to take a walk, and enjoy the outdoors for a time. Who knew how long she would be capable of enjoying anything, after all? For all she knew, simple appreciation for the things she enjoyed could be the next emotion she lost, along with some dear memory. Perhaps it was best not to think about it for now. So she put Apollyon and her bargain and everything like that from her mind, sinking back down into her own consciousness and working over her latest research problem. She was interested in the correlation between personality type and affinity for the various magic schools. Were people good scryers because they were naturally subtle or did they learn to be subtle because their talents lay in scrying, for example? It was especially fascinating because there seemed to be examples of each kind of cause-effect relationship, and which dominated the range of mages was unclear.

She wandered in what seemed like aimless direction for a while, though she was actually walking a long-familiar path. At least, until she spotted someone across the way and her face broke out into a wide smile.

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“Cally.” Lenore never shouted as such, and she had never to anyone’s knowledge been angry enough to yell, but she could project a bit when she needed to, and she did in this instance, to catch her friend’s attention. The princess, whom she had never bothered to call by anything but her name, seemed to be alone, meaning that she had likely evaded whomever was assigned to be her bodyguard that morning. Chances were good that as soon as that person was willing to give up and accept their failure, they’d go running to Cy and beg his assistance in finding the heir. Well, she could hardly have been safer than she was with a mage like Lenore, but they wouldn’t know that.

Cyril was the only one who never failed to find them, even when they tried their very best to hide him. Lenore recalled a distinct instance a few years ago when she’d actually cast invisibility on them, and he’d pinpointed their location anyway. He’d explained it as being able to hear them, but to this day, she wasn’t so sure. They hadn’t made any real noise. But whatever the case, he evidently had not been pulled into the search yet, because Calliope was alone.

“You’re out and about early this morning.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Lenore Ourania Character Portrait: Cyril Nishant Character Portrait: Calliope Khthonios Character Portrait: Apollyon
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"In this world of uncertainty and chaos, one who pretends and is not will prevail."



Basileus stood in front of a frame which carried a painting of two individuals. His eyes reflected sympathy and at the same time, yearning. For what? He could not even describe or hope to understand. The self-righteousness ambition of his mother was overwhelming for him in so many ways. Yet, he could not oppose her. He had always avoided conflict of any kind. It is his belief that such is the secret to a peaceful life. And, that is what he simply desired out of his existence. But, there will always be that one exemption to the rule.

This place had been his sanctuary in a sense. These hallways where various creations of artists preferred by the Royal Family or done by them personally would be displayed. It was very seldom to see anyone around as there had been haunting rumors floating about. Really, he finds it absurd for people to be scared of ghosts and spirits when they should be more fearful of what can be touch and what is in front of them. That is right. He does not fear what is yet to come for he instead fears what is quite known to him. Because, he could not do anything but succumb to its lore.

Pathetic.

It was the perfect word to describe himself. So, he could not fathom why people see him as someone excellent or worthy of his title as the next Lord Pallas. Yet, he did not bother with it and let them do as they wished. They had their own minds and own aspirations. It would be a foolish chore to change it otherwise. Though, he would not mind to give counsel when needed. Speaking of which, he would definitely require a sympathetic ear for his own plights. And, he finds that in the painting before him which was rather emphasized than the others beside it. "What would you do if you were in my place...?" He said in a whisper-like manner. There was silence, something which he had been used to. It would be idiotic of him to expect for the artwork to speak. "Just kill yourself." Hearing the voice, he could not help but to step back in surprise. Did that come from the painting? Impossible. The only logical explanation to that is...

Someone else was here.

Looking behind him, his eyes widened in surprise and expected horror. And really, such expression was welcomed by yours truly. "A-Asura..." Endless black eyes looked down at Basileus. He had never in his life felt so small in the presence of another, until now. "You like talking to the dead. Join them. I will help you." Apollyon suggested with all of his little black heart. In response, the young lord backed away from the creature to put some distance between them. Of course, he also knew that it really meant nothing in the end. "There is no need for that. I assure you." That was then Apollyon's attention transferred to the painting. It was a portrait of two humans who looked identical, twins. Seeing the asura's interest, Basileus calmed himself at that point. There is a probability the asura could not harm him based on the prescribed contract.
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So, he decided to entertain the asura in a polite manner. He introduced the painting. "It is a representation of the King Aither and Prince Phanes Khthonios." Then, he pointed at the person with long hair. "That is the late King Aither." Then, he pointed to the other with short hair. "This here is the late Prince Phanes. So, you knew they died?" Whether Apollyon acknowledged that information and question or not, one could not say as he simply walked towards the painting. His hand reached out to the painting and traced the faces of the two men. When done, he removed his hand and spoke.

"You are not human." At that statement, Basileus froze. He did not expect such words to be spoken. After all, he is human as far as he knows and feels. Looking over his shoulder, Apollyon had that empty and cold smile upon his eyes. He liked that reaction of confusion, denial, and subtle agreement. It was all twisted into one of torment. Humans are truly capable of many emotions which make them superbly predictable and so easy to trick. "Not Asura. Not Deva." Basileus could not understand what makes this Asura spout such things about him. He could revoke them and yet, he did not found the words to resist or even to move from his position. It appeared that something had gotten hold of him.

As if the entire area had darkened, Basileus could not see anything else but the black asura before him. His entire body was not moving and even his will was not responding to him. Apollyon began to approach him and then lowered his head to the boy’s neck in such a sensual motion as black silken strands of hair served as a curtain. Taking the scent with recognition, it was rather unorthodox, something new to the senses. It was the same thing he had with the white girl. The mortal plane was now showcasing oddities since the last time he had come. It seems the saying that time truly does change things is true.

The subtle touch of breathing upon his skin made Basileus crawl with fear. It was then the words of his mother echoed through his head in regards to the contract which bound the asura and deva. Would it mean that these actions were dictated or not? Either way, this was enough bases to consider the issue of trust. Even more so, when the asura released the next set of words like the trickling of sweet poison.

“Let us have a taste.”




"If there is one thing you could depend on me, it is that I will never give up."



“Why would I do that? You are already quite the dashing type. I would not want so many girls crawling over you when the helm comes off now. I am rather the jealous type.” Chrysanthe answered back to Nishant’s query that her offering of dumpling was a means to see his face. Though, it had been one of the mysteries that everyone wants to find out someday and she was not exempted from that fact. There had been two prominent speculations, but she was not leaning on any of them. Probably due to one fact, it was not like him to do so. Well, this is her personal opinion. Thus, it could be wrong. Either way, she was also curious about it. Nevertheless, no matter what hides behind that suit of armor. Her respect for the man will not waver.

As such, it brought a very bright smile upon her face when the challenge had been accepted. Chrysanthe could already notice some of the men gathering around. She was not ignorant of the gender specifications of being a warrior within Elysia. It was extremely hard and acceptance was still a work in progress. The reason she had not been heavily reprimanded as the others was probably duly to her noble status. Yet, it was another stigma added to her personage which gave a lasting impression on her confidence. That is why she felt completely proud when Nishant would address her by rank of Vice Commander. Others might find it too distinctively polite and be considered that their relationship was distant.

Yet, she sees this as endearing.

Entering the ring, Chrysanthe noticed the excitement surrounding the area and even upon her respective squire and his. It was no secret to her that the Knights-in-Training were having their own rivalry in relation to the ones they served. Well, competition is good as it would edge development as long as they would not forget the integral factor of accepting defeat when it is due. As for her case, she knew that there is a great difference in strength and skills between her and Nishant. Yet, she would not give up on the idea of overcoming that gap someday. Just like now, she would try to do that once more.

Never give up, correct?

Her sword had been handed to her. It was her favored weapon among everything else. More specifically, it does have a sentimental value. The sword had been crafted specifically for the House Pallas and gifted to its Leader. Though in this case, it had been passed down to her as willed by her father. Of course, this was not questioned by her brother, Basileus seeing it to be a fitting inheritance for her. Well, there was an objection from their mother. Yet in the end, it was left in her hands. She carried it with pride and expertise in regards to a very large sword for someone of her physique.

“Thank you for accepting, Sir Nishant.” She noted while standing on her corner of the ring. Her clear blue eyes did not show any haziness or hesitation. Instead, it was brimming with determination and a certain purpose. She bowed as a show of respect and the protocol for such duels. Afterwards, she was gone from anyone's eyes in an instant.
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Chrysanthe had already closed the distance between them in an instant. Easily wielding the sword as if it was a part of her and carried a weight of a paper, her strike met the resistance of his lance. Against everyone she had fought, the Commander was the only one able to discern her movement often categorized to be inhumane due to her speed. She knew that it would be a useless means to fight him in terms of dominance. And so, she took a step back and delivered a flurry of speedy strikes from various directions. It showcased her precision as her targets if inspected were upon the Black Knight's perceived blind spots. At the same time, it displayed her acrobatic capabilities making it appear that she was dancing to a tune reserved for a medley of combat.

To her, the man before her was a rival and a mentor. And someday certainly, she wanted to overcome him by her own power. When that day comes, she will have the strength she desire for that wish and also may be... just may be...




"In the end, I still prefer my way for it is one I will have no regrets over."



The words left to her by the obsidian Asura stirred various connotations inside of her. Unlike when she had spoken to the Deva, Seraphiel where there have been comfort and gentleness. Strings of words covered in the grace of what a mother would say to a beloved child. But in regards of that Asura, he was like a thick fog enveloping her and then strangles her to a slow and tortuous demise. All of it done through the means of a conversation with the implication that he seems to know more than anyone else in this plane could ever hope for. Yet, it should be impossible to do so.

Isn't it?

This is a game to him. But, that is not true. It was real and consisted of people's lives and hopes. That is also true for anyone not only for Elysia or for Dothonion. She took a deep breath and released a rather long sigh. Things were escalating into matters she would not rather want to. Even if the people were still in the trance of peace, the threat of war was true as it can be. Why is that Siegmund Anselm refuses to even talk properly? He out rightly displayed his military might without much of a doubt. Then, he devised such a cruel plan to take the crown of Elysia. Just like a violent and ambitious tyrant, the reputation attached to him.

Even now, Calliope is deeply saddened by the lives lost on that day. They will never be forgotten nor would it be restored. If only people could just say what they want and then understand each other properly, it would be a more gentle world. Yet, what is done is done. As many would have say, still...

Is there really no other way?

That was when she heard the ever familiar voice calling out her name. It came from someone who is very dear to her. Closing her eyes for a bit, she made sure her expression did not reflect any form of weariness or sadness. There had been enough of that before. It must not be repeated. His father would scold her if it does.
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Looking over her shoulder, she was welcomed with a sight of a wonderful smile. It could not be helped as a light blush stained her cheeks. At the end of the day, this person is a warm and kind beauty to behold. "Good morning, Lenni!" She greeted happily as she fully faced the white-haired Lady of Ourania. It was not a hidden knowledge that she and Lenore had been friends since their childhood days. If she would be honest, Lenore had been her first friend ever. Being a princess and the proclaimed heir, she found such simple things to be rather very hard to have. So when she had such companionship, it had become very precious to her. "Well, I wanted some fresh air. The castle has been a little too restricting for me."

True. Military affairs often discussed. Political affairs being interjected at every point. There had also been the opinions of many or rather the revival of a chorus insisting the inadequacy of her Mother's reign. At the same time, this view has also been extended to her, being an unfitting heir. She had stood strong in all of that with the sole purpose of not failing her loved ones. In any case, the issues about the crown could not find a better timing than now. There was only one year left before the throne is handed down to her and the fact the Dorthonion's eye had landed on Elysia. Really, everything was coming out of the wood works.

In any case, she put that aside. It was then Calliope wondered why Lenore was out as well. Are there no classes at the Academy today? She hardly doubts that knowing the strict regimen of Lord Emrys. The man was like the personification of the word STUDY and LEARN. She could already imagine in her head what that look like. A slight chill enveloped her as she quickly dismissed such thoughts. One of the things she fears was Emrys becoming her teacher. She had already a brief taste of it and they were not just compatible. "How about you? Do you have no classes today?" She walked towards Lenore and during that interlude, her eyes observed her friend.

Nothing seems to be out of place. She had been worried ever since that day when Lenore noted that the Asura was calling her. But it seemed, her worries about the intricacy of the contract were left unfounded. Though, there should be something more to it especially when she finally had that talk with the summoned Asura. "I actually just met him... the Asura." Calliope looked at the direction where she had last seen the black creature. "He is odd." Then, she shrugged her shoulders and asked a question in particular to that. "Is it fine if he is not by your side?" Well, she did have that impression since Seraphiel hardly leaves Lord Emrys' side unless it was an order of some sorts.

Then, Calliope asked another question. This one particularly relating to her own thoughts. "Lenni, do you think it would be foolish of me if I said I wanted to talk to the Dorthoni King again?"