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Arianrhod ferch Sahalin Otanis

"More than anything else... I want to fly. Tell me... will you go with me?"

0 · 435 views · located in Otanis

a character in “The Skylands of Novahlis: The Heart of Otanis”, as played by Feyblue

Description



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"Please, forgive my rudeness, but where did you come from? Do tell me. It is somewhat childish of me, but I have always loved hearing stories of the happenings in the outside world.

โ–‘โ–‘โ–‘The Princess of Otanisโ–‘โ–‘โ–‘


โ•”โ•—
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๏ผฆ๏ผต๏ผฌ๏ผฌ ๏ผฎ๏ผก๏ผญ๏ผฅ
      Arianrhod ferch Sahalin Otanis

๏ผฎ๏ผฉ๏ผฃ๏ผซ๏ผฎ๏ผก๏ผญ๏ผฅ(๏ผณ)
      Aria

๏ผฒ๏ผฏ๏ผฌ๏ผฅ
      The Princess

๏ผง๏ผฅ๏ผฎ๏ผค๏ผฅ๏ผฒ
      Female

๏ผก๏ผง๏ผฅ
      19

๏ผณ๏ผฅ๏ผธ๏ผต๏ผก๏ผฌ๏ผฉ๏ผด๏ผน
      Heterosexual. Arianrhod focuses much more on an idealized sense of love than she does on physical attraction, however, making her seem somewhat asexual to anyone who can't provide the sort of fairy tale romance that interests her.

๏ผจ๏ผฏ๏ผญ๏ผฅ๏ผฌ๏ผก๏ผฎ๏ผค
      Otanis. However, her appearance โ€“ pale skin, silver hair, and violet eyes - is much closer to that of someone from Xera, a country rather far-distant from her homeland. Her mother, being a native of this nation displaced by the war which devastated it, bequeathed her with this unique heritage, making her appearance rather eye-catching and unique in the present day.


โ€œYou're a pilot? How exciting! What sort of ship do you fly? What kinds of jobs do you do? Where have you traveled to?โ€


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๏ผจ๏ผฅ๏ผฉ๏ผง๏ผจ๏ผด
      5'9โ€

๏ผท๏ผฅ๏ผฉ๏ผง๏ผจ๏ผด
      115 lbs.

๏ผจ๏ผก๏ผฉ๏ผฒ ๏ผฃ๏ผฏ๏ผฌ๏ผฏ๏ผฒ
      Arianrhod's hair is an unusual shade of pure, silvery-white not often seen save on natives of the country of Xera, long since ruined due to the war. It's a hue that's almost unheard of in Otanis, and often considered the Princess' crowning glory.

๏ผฅ๏ผน๏ผฅ ๏ผฃ๏ผฏ๏ผฌ๏ผฏ๏ผฒ
      Matching her unusual hair color are her eyes, which are a light shade of violet, glistening like twin amethysts amidst her gentle face.

๏ผณ๏ผซ๏ผฉ๏ผฎ ๏ผด๏ผฏ๏ผฎ๏ผฅ
      As the Princess seldom ventures outdoors and keeps a rather strict self-grooming regimen, her skin is soft and smooth, bearing nary a blemish, and rather pale in hue, bearing a pinkish-white shade that accentuates the radiance of her hair quite nicely.

๏ผง๏ผฅ๏ผฎ๏ผฅ๏ผฒ๏ผก๏ผฌ ๏ผก๏ผฐ๏ผฐ๏ผฅ๏ผก๏ผฒ๏ผก๏ผฎ๏ผฃ๏ผฅ
      Arianrhod's appearance lies somewhere on the verge of adulthood, yet simultaneously clings to the vestiges of her early youth. Her build is womanly, with long - if somewhat dainty - arms flowing into rather narrow shoulders, contouring gently along a well-rounded, if slightly small bustline and down into a flat stomach that rounds outward into slightly broader hips, before curving back into a slender waist โ€“ perhaps a little too slender, as her sheltered lifestyle has caused her to become ever-so-slightly malnourished โ€“ from which extend two long, limber legs that actually possess a surprising amount of firmness compared to the rest of her rather fragile form. Yet, although her body is already quite mature, her face yet remains rather girlish, with a somewhat dull jawline framed by prominent cheeks, tender pink lips hiding bright white teeth, small ears hidden beneath the curtains of silver that run down either side of her face, and a petite nose placed right between twin violet eyes shining brightly as the centerpiece of a gentle countenance. Her narrow forehead bears two thin, if rather well defined eyebrows of a similar shade to the hair that half-covers them most of the time, her bangs trimmed into a curtain just short enough not to obscure her vision. Long, silvery tresses run down her neck on either side, and a straight, pristine curtain of locks as white as snow cascades down to a spot just above the small of her back. On the whole, her form is elegant to behold, and thoroughly unmistakable in the duality of its features โ€“ both charming young girl and refined woman, mixed to form a young lady quite pleasing to the eye, like a flower in the peak of its bloom.

      Her demeanor, too, is somewhat of a mix of conflicting attitudes. Possessed of a great deal of self control, her demeanor reflects this trait accordingly. Her posture is upright, with her shoulders relaxed, arms commonly folded, and every movement measured precisely to express grace and dignity. Her pace is even enough that you could use her footsteps to keep time, while her manners are quite impeccable. However, there's something about her that conflicts with this unflappable image, giving off a sense of timidity. When looked at directly, one often finds her eyes wandering ever-so-slightly, as though to escape direct eye contact. Her head, contrary to her otherwise upright bearing, has a tendency to droop ever so slightly, as though her face is half-hiding itself behind the tresses of silvery-white that frame it on either side. In the face of sudden, unexpected movements, she tenses ever so slightly, and is rather easily startled. When confronted directly on an issue, she tends to abandon her otherwise firm stance and fidget with her folded fingers, as though distracting herself from some unnameable trepidation, and distancing herself from her unease. It is this girlish, shy manner that is perhaps one of her most endearing traits, as it makes her seem much less like the Princess, the pride of the royal court, and more like an ordinary โ€“ not to mention rather socially awkward - young woman, thus giving her a sense of approachability that puts at ease the intimidation many might feel when conversing with royalty. Yet, contrary to both of these images, she also has a certain understated enthusiasm shown only to those who get to know her more closely. Easily excited by novelties, one might find her staring in awe at the sight of fireworks, or grinning ear to ear as she extolls the virtues of some new treat she's never had the pleasure of eating before, or running from stall to stall in a mundane marketplace, seemingly amazed by the trifling trinkets she sees there despite her luxurious upbringing. And, when she thinks nobody else is watching, you might even catch her spreading her arms like wings underneath an open sky, as though she might lift off on a passing breeze and take flight at any moment. Sadly, isolated as she is, there are few, if any, who ever witness this childish side of her otherwise regal-yet-compliant bearing.

      As the Princess of a kingdom that serves as a trading hub between many different cultures, it's no surprise that Arianrhod possesses a wide variety of different outfits. Consisting largely of luxurious silken dresses brought by airship from foreign lands, or lace-trimmed, modest, and feminine articles, her wardrobe, while being too vast to accurately assess here, generally holds to a rather specific style of dress befitting of her social status. However, there is one garment in particular that stands out simply due to how anomalous it is, an outfit she keeps hidden from her father and from the servants who tend to her needs, cherishing it above all others: the uniform of an airship pilot, done in a very distinctive style. Consisting of a white silken blouse with golden buttons, a pair of matching-colored, heavier cotton trousers with similar trim, and a padded white-on-pastel-blue flight jacket, it bears a rather iconic golden wing insignia, at the center of which lies a small ruby, similar to those inlaid in a pair of silver clip-on earrings she's seldom seen without. With matching gloves and boots, as well as a light purple neckscarf to complete the ensemble, she really does look the part of a pilot when clad in this attire โ€“ which is probably why she doesn't let anybody know about its existence. Given her father's restrictive nature, it's quite likely that, were he to become aware of this particular fantasy of hers, he would put an end to it as quickly as he could, through whatever means necessary, explaining โ€“ at least, in part - why this cherished garment remains her most closely guarded secret.

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โ€œOh, dear. Pardon my outburst. I appear to have gotten ahead of myself. It's just... I don't get many visitors, and I do so love hearing about the outside...โ€


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๏ผฐ๏ผฅ๏ผฒ๏ผณ๏ผฏ๏ผฎ๏ผก๏ผฌ๏ผฉ๏ผด๏ผน
      โœฆ Innocent โœง Curious โœฆ Kind โœง Timid โœฆ

      As one might realize from her rather contradictory mannerisms, Arianrhod is a rather... unique individual. On the surface, she is very calm, quiet, and cordial. She usually only speaks when the situation requires it, be it when she herself is spoken to, or when she feels that something is important enough that it really needs to be said. This isn't to say she's rude or distant โ€“ she's a very attentive listener, and always makes the utmost effort to be polite โ€“ it's just that she seldom knows quite what to do in a social scenario. Having been locked away in her tower for more than half of her life, she's seldom had a chance to really talk to people aside from her maids, her tutors, and her father. Consequently, her social skills have atrophied somewhat, causing her to instinctively fall back on what she's familiar with: namely, her knowledge of etiquette, and her role as princess. Her speech patterns are generally very formal, and her attitude quite outspoken. She listens carefully to what she's told, and then replies according to how she feels, but tempered by politeness. At the same time, she almost never tells a lie, which can make it somewhat amusing when she tries to find some way to state her disagreement without seeming rude, and ends up simply dancing around the issue, fumbling with her words and making it obvious what she really thinks through all the ways she hasn't expressed assent.

      Due to this obsessive standard of cordiality to which she firmly holds herself, most people who interact with her come to the somewhat false conclusion that she's a very mature individual. However, if one can earn her trust enough to see what lies beyond the veneer of courtly manners, one may find that she's actually rather childish. Her curiosity thwarted by her imprisonment, her only way of finding out about the outside world she equally fears and admires as been through the countless books stored in the library of her tower. She's read almost every single one of them, from romantic adventure novels to histories to dialogs on philosophy, even down to such seemingly boring subjects as medical and technical manuals. Yet, there is only so much that one can learn from books, and consequently, the young princess' knowledge is, in many places, sadly lacking. All-too-aware of this, she fanatically pursues her quest for new information to fill the gaps left by her reading, and consequently, finds every aspect of the mysterious world beyond the walls of her tower to be equally fascinating, yearning to discern anything and everything she can about any and all new things she comes into contact with. And, of course, given her incredibly limited experiences when it comes to the outside world, many, if not all of the objects, places, and customs she encounters are entirely novel to her. Consequently, although quiet, and more than a little bit shy when it comes to dealing with people she doesn't know very well โ€“ as she's always worried about unintentionally offending or hurting someone she's not yet familiar with, and has a plethora of trust-related issues besides โ€“ oftentimes her facade of outward composure can be cracked wide open by the irrepressible excitement brought on by the joy of discovery. She seldom expresses this enthusiasm directly, indulging in very little rushing about and only infrequently raising her voice beyond its usual quiet half-speech, half-whispering, but even despite her best efforts, it's impossible for her to conceal her childish glee. It might be an eager stare, or an uncontrollable sort of fidgeting as she tries to resist the urge to inspect something she hasn't seen before more closely - knowing that doing so in the presence of company would be rude - or perhaps a sequence of innocent questions slowly building in enthusiasm until she at last realizes how impolite she's being and silences herself in embarrassment, but regardless, if one looks for it and has the rare opportunity to see her real self, unfettered by her fears or her mask of grace and composure, her childlike curiosity is impossible to miss.

      As to her character, some citizens of the Kingdom of Otanis suspect that secretly, she is mad, or perhaps that she is somehow cursed โ€“ explaining why she is locked away from the world. However, the truth is... she's really exactly what she appears. Her perpetual politeness, kindness, and innocence are anything but feigned. Having lost her mother at a young age, and having been cut off from any and all friends she had when she came to be locked within the tower, she's spent most of her life feeling as though something has been missing. Reading countless storybooks, usually romances, has driven her to the conclusion that what this missing factor is must be companionship. Since she has nobody she can talk honestly to, nobody who she can rely on, and who could in turn depend on her, by the standards of a novel, her life is, as of yet, meaningless. What value could there be, after all, in a character who never speaks to anyone and never does anything important? Desperately desirous of being somehow โ€œneeded,โ€ she constantly tries to shape herself to meet her overbearing father's standards in order to earn his approval. Thus, Arianrhod is also willing to accept her imprisonment in the tower, simply because even if she can't live her dreams that way, at least by staying there, her father will still โ€œneedโ€ her, and that is better than being alone.

      Generous almost to a fault, being raised solely on stories of great heroes has made her feel as though helping those in need, regardless of the cost, is the only way one can truly live. If she finds somebody who's hurt, she'll do whatever she can to heal and comfort them. If someone is hungry, she'd sooner starve herself than see them go unfed. Her tendency for self-sacrifice at times goes beyond simple kindness and becomes downright insane, as though anybody's well-being is more valuable than her own. Born equal parts from naรฏve idealism, her gentle nature, and her desperate desire to be needed, she justifies her โ€œheroicโ€ attitude by saying that, were she in need, there would doubtless be those who would do the same for her, reflecting the somewhat fallacious concept taught her by literature that people are inherently good. Not only does she shun cruelty โ€“ she genuinely cannot comprehend it. Unable to stand the sight of people hurting or killing others, it is in the face of the evils of violence alone that her merciful, forgiving attitude meets its end โ€“ for she knows all too well what it is like to watch, helpless, as precious things and people are taken from your forever, and she never wants to feel that way again, or to see anybody else experiencing such suffering. Consequently, her morality splits along a rather odd dichotomy wherein anyone, even enemies, who haven't harmed her or someone else directly and personally can still be forgiven and redeemed, but anyone who commits such acts face-to-face with her is deemed an unpardonable, unrepentant villain. This sort of storybook logic can oftentimes get her into trouble when dealing with more complex issues of morality than good vs. evil, but oftentimes, when her rigid worldview conflicts with the reality before her, she ends up taking a third, usually self-destructive option in the hopes of settling the issue harmlessly. For example, supposing she encountered a boy stealing a loaf of bread to feed his mother. She would stop him, because stealing is wrong. However, seeing that his motivations were โ€œgood,โ€ she would feel compelled to send him home with some sort of food. But even if she did that, it would only last for so long, and eventually, he'd be right back to stealing. Consequently, she'd probably hand over all her money in order to give him enough to buy food for himself and his mother for as long as possible, and thereby โ€œsettleโ€ the conflict despite the fact that she herself would end up penniless. She wants to be like the heroes in her books, to save everybody she can, no matter what it costs her, simply because that is the only way she knows how to live. However, it can't be denied that this lifestyle is entirely unreasonable, and can only lead her to suffer. If the only way she can exist is by sacrificing herself, then in the cruel, selfish world which she's been protected from until this point, her chances of survival are next to none. One can only hope that she comes to understand how truly insane her ideals are before they kill her.
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      These issues aside, one cannot dispute the fact that she's not exactly heroine material. Physically rather weak from lack of outdoor activity, and untrained when it comes to self-defense, she's undeniably ordinary, and therefore incapable of directly influencing much of anything in the sorts of power struggles that oftentimes define the modern era. Although she's very book smart โ€“ for obvious reasons โ€“ she lacks insight into the way people operate due to her limited experience dealing with them. Consequently, regardless of her intelligence, it's quite possible for people to dupe her simply by complying with her code of ethics long enough for her to gain a high enough opinion of them to feel compelled to do what they say, trusting that they must have a good reason for what they're doing even if, on the surface, it breaks slightly from her ideals. Even so, she's far from stupid, and so this process of denial is seldom sustainable. Once she sees irrefutable evidence of someone she trusted breaking that trust, her forgiveness is very, very hard to earn, as she does not take betrayal lightly.

      For similar reasons to this, she also finds it a bit difficult to barge into other people's business, even if she feels like what they're doing is wrong. Since she has a respect for the feelings of those who have been wronged, and admiration for those close to her, she'll oftentimes follow their judgment, even if it goes against her own. Regardless of her status as royalty, she isn't a person with an incredibly commanding presence, as her selfish desire to belong means that she's reluctant to go against those who have shown an interest in her continued company. Incredibly determined, she can withstand any loss so long as she has a place to call home and people there who care about her, but because of that, the one thing she doesn't want to sacrifice is the attention and companionship of the people she loves most. Because of this, no matter how many ideas she has, she's not really cut out to be a leader unless people actively solicit her input. The upside of this mentality is that she always maintains an attitude of prudence in everything she does, protecting her in part from her own reckless desire to be a heroine. The downside is that her lack of self-confidence allows more forceful individuals to cow her into submission, making her watch as her ideals are trampled upon, and then live with the depressing reality that she could have stepped in and stopped things were it not for her own meekness. Somewhere, perhaps, she realizes that she has to keep living to keep helping others, and that in some situations, a lesser evil must be committed to prevent a greater one, and thus understands the foolhardiness of her own ideals. If this is the case, however, then the lure of her dreams' morally pleasing aesthetic combined with her own strength of will is powerful enough to draw her to deny herself a more realistic outlook and continue pursuing her impossible vision of herself as a โ€œheroine,โ€ even if it's harder than just giving in to the comfortable solace of cynicism.

      Consequently, although her innocence thus often tends to get her into trouble, it also manages to give her a rather unlikely means of defending herself. Namely, given her sympathetic, selfless personality, polite manner, and youthful zeal for pretty much everything in the unknown world around her, there's a certain factor of her being that makes people instinctively want to protect her. Perhaps it's her sweet personality, or the way she takes such joy in life's simplest pleasures, or the refreshing sight such childlike innocence in a bleak world, or maybe it's because no matter how many times her heart is broken, she absolutely refuses to give up. Or, perhaps, it's because people simply find her adorable, and don't want to see her hurt. Either way, deceiving, harming, or insulting her is roughly analogous to violently beating a puppy, and is bound to provoke similar outrage as it would in the people who cared for that puppy. Because of this natural talent for drawing the devotion of others, even though she lacks a powerful presence, her willpower, combined with her latent charisma, makes her incredibly persuasive, and almost uncannily good at earning the loyalty of those around her. She might not be a strong leader herself, but she's an incredibly useful figurehead, and a capable adviser for the ones doing the actual work besides.

      As mentioned above, her problem isn't one of resolve. Once she sets her mind to something, it is unbelievably difficult to sway her from it, because โ€œa hero does not give up.โ€ The issue for her, rather, is that she oftentimes has trouble mustering the courage to take the first step. Bravery has been defined as being โ€œnot the absence of fear, but the facing of it,โ€ and in that sense, Arianrhod is a very brave girl. She would stand in front of a firing squad sooner than abandoning her friends. The issue lies in making friends worthy of such devotion, however, as due to her horrible memories of the only real encounter she's ever had with the forces of the outside world, she oftentimes finds people of any sort of dubious reputation to be very difficult to trust. She abhors violence, and is terrified both by it and anything the evokes images of it. Consequently, despite her love of the romantic and the adventurous, she finds most anyone not as gentle as herself to be nerve-wracking to deal with, as she is easily frightened by people with a strong physical presence. Furthermore, in a dangerous situation, it might be all she could do to keep her head, not even to mention how trying it would be for her to willingly enter a battlefield. Once she's in a situation, she's in it to the end, and will give it everything she has or else fail trying. But oftentimes, she doesn't possess the resolve to step up and voluntarily thrust herself into a dangerous scenario. Fortunately โ€“ or perhaps unfortunately - for her, such occurrences most usually happen whether one wishes them to or not, and so more often than not, she finds herself with no option but to press on regardless of her trepidation.

      Given her very limited experiences with the outside world, it's entirely understandable that her hobbies are somewhat limited in number, regardless of the broadness of her interests. For the most part, she enjoys reading, singing, dancing, and observing beautiful scenery; all of which are things she can do within the confines of her tower, as she possesses a library, an unused ballroom, and a view that is, quite frankly, second to no other in the entire Kingdom. However, in addition to these more realistic amusements, there is one major aspiration of hers that, although seemingly impossible, has been something she's single-mindedly pursued for almost her entire life. Namely, Arianrhod wants to become a pilot. It doesn't really matter what she becomes pilot of โ€“ anything from a full-blown airship to a tiny skiff to a one-seat plane would suffice. She just wants to fly.

      Her mother, formerly a famous pilot prior to marrying King Otanis, is most likely to blame for the origination of this dream, although its present intensity can no doubt be attributed to the Princess' choice of reading materials. Nurtured by the exciting tales of pilots during the great war and their escapades, Arianrhod has become obsessed with the freedom offered by the vast blue sky over her head, an unattainable promise the call of which has only been made more compelling to her by her imprisonment within her tower. Tired of living every day in an endless loop of the mundane, isolated from everyone around her save the serving staff and her overprotective father, part of Arianrhod wants nothing more than to escape, take some plane, and fly it to the farthest reaches of the sky, going wherever she wishes and seeing for herself the countless fascinating things she's read about in her books. She loves her father dearly, and desperately wants his approval โ€“ but if she has to sacrifice everything she is and wants just to please him, a part of her wonders, deep down, if it's really worth it. Regardless of her adoration of the prospect of flying, however, there is another major issue to be accounted for. After the attack on the palace that claimed the life of her mother, many aspects of flying are terrifying to her. The knowledge that countless pirates, murderers, and thieves are lurking within that wide blue sky, while not sufficient to extinguish her dreams entirely, is enough of a reason for her not to complain about her lot in life, held down as she is by gravity.

      Indeed, there are many things that, thanks to that night, she now fears more than anything else. The sounds of gunfire and explosions, the crackling of flames, and the carnage of battle are enough to shake even her resolve. The part of her that still clings to her old, frightening memories is the aspect of her personality that, given her otherwise kind and placid nature, very few would guess at. However, even if others may forget, she remembers. She recalls every last detail of the attack โ€“ the fires, the gunshots, the screaming, and most importantly, the design and markings of the airship that did it. Although it's tremendously unlikely that she'll ever find that same ship after ten years, if she did, there is only one thing she wishes to inflict upon them: the same misery, the same terror that they gave to her all those years ago. Because unlike most people, who can be forgiven, the crew of that airship claimed the life of her precious mother โ€“ and in her eyes, that is an act of villainy much too reprehensible to forgive. It may go against her ideals, but if it does, then so be it. Towards these evil men, she wishes nothing but revenge.


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๏ผฌ๏ผฉ๏ผซ๏ผฅ๏ผณ
      โœฆSinging โ€“ Ever since she was a child, Arianrhod loved to sing. Originally, her mother would sing her lullabies from her home country of Xera. Soon, the Princess herself developed an interest in these songs โ€“ which often, like ballads, would tell stories of the old heroes she so loved - and would often sing along with her mother. Even after her mother's death, Arianrhod never forgot the songs she had been taught, and continues singing them to the present as a means of staving off her loneliness. However, given her shy demeanor, she seldom lets anyone catch her doing it, so although she has quite the voice for music, many of those around her never hear it. If she were willing to sing someone one of these precious melodies, it would likely signify a great deal of trust or affection for that person, since it would mean she had absolutely no worries about what they might think of her.
      โœงDancing โ€“ When she was a child, the palace would sometimes hold grand balls. She always wanted to participate in one, and so asked her mother to teach her to dance. Sadly, due to the attack on the palace, her mother's death, and her father's subsequent descent into paranoia, she never actually got the chance to try. She still keeps practicing in the unused ballroom in her tower, though, perhaps in order to honor the one who taught her.
      โœฆReading โ€“ At first introduced by her mother as a means to alleviate her boredom as a child, story time became a very important part of the young Princess' daily routine. Out of a desire to learn more about the mysterious world she was not allowed to see, Arianrhod began delving deeply into the archives of her tower even after she was locked away within it. More often than not, any visitors actually allowed to set foot inside this private place can find her in the library, sitting in a cozy chair beneath the light of the chandeliers and draped in several warm blankets, her nose buried in some interesting bit of reading. Of course, โ€œinterestingโ€ could be just about anything for her, given her insatiable curiosity...
      โœงCulinary Preferences โ€“ Of course, given Arianrhod's somewhat childlike personality, one should not be surprised that she absolutely adores sweet foods and drinks. More than just sweets, however, she's also fascinated by almost any new form of cuisine she encounters. She's not picky in the sorts of food she tries, usually, but there are certain types she's not very comfortable with. For example, although she likes the taste of spicy food, she can't handle the burning aftertaste it leaves, and oftentimes ends up downing large quantities of water right after she eats any, only to come back and take another bite and end up repeating the whole process.
      โœฆPiloting โ€“ She's never gotten the opportunity to fly herself. That hasn't stopped her from dreaming extensively about what it would be like, nor has it kept her from dressing up in the old piloting uniform she found in her mother's personal belongings after her death and gallivanting around her tower in secret, or standing on top of the tower's highest balcony, spreading her arms like wings and pretending she's flying. More than almost anything else in the world, she wants to fly, and no amount of fear can take that away from her.
      โœงCompanionship โ€“ When it comes to people, generally, Arianrhod prefers to associate herself with those who aren't overly forceful or coarse in their attitudes towards her. She's easily scared by violent behavior, and thus finds it difficult to trust anyone who doesn't take care not to give her a reason to be frightened of them. At the same time, though, her belief in the goodness of human beings is such that, if somebody โ€“ even a person she's afraid of โ€“ proves that they value her, they can easily earn back the trust she was so reluctant to give them. Be it by protecting her, showing her kindness above and beyond their attitudes towards other people, or helping her actualize her desires, even a person diametrically opposite to herself might eventually earn her favor. In part, this is simply because she finds it difficult to hate anyone save the most reprehensible of individuals. However, the fact that she's simply terribly lonely and wants somebody โ€“ anybody โ€“ to keep her company, to need her as a person, might also contribute to this aspect of her personality.

๏ผค๏ผฉ๏ผณ๏ผฌ๏ผฉ๏ผซ๏ผฅ๏ผณ
      โœฆJudgmental People โ€“ Due to her unwavering desire to belong, Arianrhod has a tendency to constantly strive to meet the expectations of those around her. Consequently, she can be very self-conscious, always hating to disappoint others. As a result, she's oftentimes afraid to make any moves out of the ordinary, or to allow other people to get close to her, simply because she's scared of the potential embarrassment that she might feel were people to find out about some of her interests and traits. Consequently, anyone who looks with scorn upon the things she holds dear could never hope to become a close friend to the young Princess.
      โœงVermin โ€“ As the garden was once her favorite place to play, encountering strange and grotesque insects is nothing new to her. Even so, her initial horror at beholding their appearances has not dimmed with age. She just doesn't like the way the look, the way they sound, the way they move, or the way they always seem to be scuttling and scurrying about on far too many legs. Similarly, she also rather strongly despises rats, possums, and other such creatures, for very similar reasons.
      โœฆSelfish People โ€“ She can't stand the sight of one person withholding from another something they need. Having read a few too many stories, she has come to view personal greed as a hallmark of the villainous and corrupt, and thus tries her best to avoid requiring too much from others, or keeping from people that which they themselves require. Ironically enough, kept from leaving her tower as she is, there's very little she can do herself โ€“ a hypocrisy of which she's all too keenly aware.
      โœงUncertainty โ€“ Due to her lack of self-confidence, Arianrhod often finds it difficult to be sure that she's doing the right thing. She likes to have some assurance that people will be pleased with her, and that she isn't making mistakes. Consequently, she finds it difficult to improvise on her own, with nobody to support her or give her feedback on how she's doing, as she's always terrified that she'll do something wrong. To her, the most important thing to do is earn the praise and adoration of those around her, and as such, being complimented on her work does a great deal to reinforce her confidence. On the flip side, this also means she takes insults very, very personally, and sometimes can be affected a great deal more than anyone expects by a few simple derogatory words at the wrong time.
      โœฆFailure โ€“ Given her constant desire to earn the approval of others, and her adamant belief that โ€œheroes do not give up,โ€ it is to be expected that she absolutely detests failing once she has set her mind to something. Even if there's very little she can do about a given situation, so long as there's some way she can help, some goal she can accomplish, she'll strive for it with everything she has. As a result, though, she doesn't exactly take losing well, and oftentimes can be more than a little unreasonable when it comes to accepting her defeat.



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๏ผด๏ผก๏ผฌ๏ผฅ๏ผฎ๏ผด๏ผณ
      โœฆMemory โ€“ Arianrhod has an incredibly good recall for all sorts of information, be it things she's learned from books, or things she's encountered. Honed by her fanatical desire to obtain and memorize new information, she's reached the point where she's capable of remembering most everything she needs to.
      โœงBook Knowledge โ€“ Due to her extensive reading, combined with her above-mentioned knack for memorization, Arianrhod knows at least something about almost everything, even if it's an object she's never physically encountered before. Consequently, even though she's lived most of her life totally isolated, she's capable of pretty easily adapting to most situations she finds herself in outside the confines of her tower.
      โœฆKeen Senses โ€“ Arianrhod is fortunate enough to be possessed of rather impressive awareness. Her eyes, especially, are very keen, having been honed through one of her favorite hobbies: watching the goings-on in the castle and the town below her balcony. Consequently, even at great distances, she's capable of picking up things most people would miss โ€“ a good talent to have for someone who wants to be a pilot.
      โœงReflexes โ€“ Arianrhod's reflexes are actually quite good. Perhaps the lingering paranoia in the wake of the attack that claimed her mother's life is, in part, to blame. However, it can't be argued that when something unexpected happens, she's usually the first to react to it. Whether or not that reaction is a productive one, though, is another matter entirely.
      โœฆCharisma โ€“ As mentioned above, Arianrhod can be very persuasive when she needs to be. Simply put, it's very difficult for most people she meets on a civil basis to not like her, and as such, they sometimes have a great deal of trouble disagreeing with or refraining from helping her. It's quite fortunate that she inspires such protectiveness in those she meets, or else her rather bizarre worldview might end up getting her killed.
      โœงUnshakable Resolve โ€“ When the Princess puts her mind to something, it's do or die. When she gives her word, she keeps to it, and does not compromise on her promises. She is thoroughly honest, and fully determined to do whatever she can for the sake of her ideals, and for the people close to her. While her distaste for defeat can get her into trouble sometimes, it also means that she's an incredibly reliable companion to have, as if there's anything she can do for you, rest assured that she'll do it, even if the heavens themselves should fall upon her head. This also means that once she sets herself a goal, she usually achieves it. Perhaps, given time and continued determination, even her dreams of becoming a pilot will become a reality?

๏ผฆ๏ผฌ๏ผก๏ผท๏ผณ
      โœฆLingering Fears โ€“ As explored in detail below, there are a great many imprints that the attack of ten years ago left on the young Princess, remaining to this day in the form of lingering recollections that strike terror into her once recalled by powerful stimuli. Usually, intense scenes or acts of violence cause her to remember the fear that she felt on that day, and as such, these phobias can sometimes cause her to lock up, panic, or break down completely, given enough stress. If a situation is bad enough, even she, with her otherwise unshakable determination and hatred of defeat, may become too scared to continue moving forward. In that event, it's best for someone to be there by her side to protect and reassure her, and to give her the courage to keep giving her all.
      โœงStress โ€“ Arianrhod does not deal well with stressful situations. As mentioned above, she finds it very difficult to make important calls on her own, simply because she's always afraid that other people will be angry at her if she chooses wrong. While normally, she hides these insecurities behind her outward mask of composure, in particularly tense scenarios, sometimes, it's simply too much for her. Prior to the appearance of Jack, her world constituted a grand total of one building. She has very seldom been given any sort of great responsibility, and as such, when she is entrusted with such things, it can be more than a little difficult for her to deal with.
      โœฆPain - It perhaps goes without saying, but due to her sheltered lifestyle, Arianrhod has a very low tolerance for pain. She's not quite the sort of flimsy, fragile heroine who faints at the sight of her own blood, but regardless, it's an unpleasant feeling with which she is not well acquainted, and as such, can incapacitate her rather easily, given a certain level of severity. Regardless of her resolve to complete a given goal, if simply moving is enough to cause her agony, there's very little she can do. Consequently, not only injuries, but also the fear thereof, can be a major obstacle for her to overcome in the event that she finds herself in personal danger. Oddly enough, she thinks little of her own well being when it comes to deciding whether or not to act. Rather than the long term consequences of a potential injury, what scares her most is simply how much it's going to hurt. Maybe all those storybooks have given her the impression that she's indestructible...?
      โœงAttachment Issues โ€“ Due to her lack of social experience and crushing loneliness, Arianrhod has a great many issues when it comes to interacting with other people. On the one hand, she desperately wants to be needed and relied upon in order to know she's not useless, but on the other, she's never had anyone close enough to confide in, or otherwise depend upon. Consequently, she simultaneously desires for people to trust her, and yet has issues with trusting others, thus making many of what relationships she actually does manage to start rather one-sided unless the recipient of her attention is willing not only to count on her, but also to slowly and painstakingly earn her trust. Of course, there are many who would care very little whether or not she trusts them, so long as she's willing to support them regardless. Someone as devoted as her could be an excellent friend โ€“ or a useful pawn.
      โœฆPoor Condition โ€“ Having spent the large part of her life up until the present locked away inside her tower, she's had very little chance to exercise herself physically. Although her dancing and imaginative games of make believe have helped her keep somewhat in shape, she's still somewhat weak physically, and doesn't have very much stamina. Combined with her rather small frame and lack of training in weapons usage, this makes her rather unskilled when it comes to defending herself, even against similarly unskilled assailants. While she makes up in brains what she lacks in brawn, that still doesn't change the fact that, given her self-destructive ideals, she definitely needs someone looking after her if she's going to survive in the present day and age.

๏ผฆ๏ผฅ๏ผก๏ผฒ๏ผณ
      โœฆFire โ€“ Perhaps the deepest scar the events of the night of ten years ago left on her psyche was the memories of the fire that destroyed an entire wing of the palace. Masonry crumbling, flames crackling, smoke flooding her lungs... anything evocative of that terrifying attack is enough to bring the memories of that day flooding back to her, causing her mind to reproduce unbidden the scenes of carnage that unfolded before her innocent eyes on that horrible night, and her joints to lock up as though they've forgotten how to move. Although sometimes she can control these terrors, when she does have a full blown panic attack, it's not pretty to behold. Sometimes, she becomes almost catatonic, simply staring forward into oblivion with eyes wide in fright. Others, she'll scream and cry, and cower before things that aren't there. Sometimes, she even lashes out in a panicked frenzy at anything and everyone around her, trying to beat back illusory flames and assailants only she can see. If there is one thing that is enough to make her thoughts fade completely in favor of cold, mind-numbing terror, it's fire.
      โœงGuns โ€“ However, that isn't to say there aren't other things that frighten her. Foremost amongst these would most likely be firearms, as they played a prominent and deadly role in the attack that still rings fresh in her memory even after all these years. A nine-year old mind does not know fully how to process images of death and destruction, nor can it fully grasp why people are killing the nice people assigned to protect and help it. Although she has had plenty of time to divert her thoughts from those memories, and to come to terms with what happened, she still isn't entirely over the sense of helplessness and fear one feels when faced with an assailant wielding a firearm. Be it the sound of a gun firing or the sight of one, it's still enough to make her blood run cold.
      โœฆBeing Touched โ€“ During the attack, a strange figure reached out to her, as though to pull her away from her home. She doesn't know why the attacker tried to carry her off, or even who they were, but nevertheless, unwanted or unexpected physical contact is enough to break her composure, at the very least, even if it may not cause the same sort of panic as her more prominent phobias. This fear, in particular, she views as most unbecoming, and consequently has a tendency to try to downplay or conceal it entirely. But largely, this attention only causes her to dread physical contact even more, especially when it happens unexpectedly. Consequently, what might once have been a fear that would have passed with time has become cemented in her psyche by her own efforts to forget about it, becoming a phobia.
      โœงHurting Others โ€“ This may seem like a strange fear to have for someone as weak as her, but Arianrhod doesn't fear directly causing harm to those she cares about. Rather, due to the figure reaching to her amidst the fire, she's come to the conclusion that the attack may have been conducted, for whatever reason, in order to abduct her. In that sense, she feels that just by living, she was responsible for her mother's death. Additionally, due to her selfish desires, she ended up ruining the life of a close friend โ€“ see backstory for details โ€“ which has only reinforced her fears that her existence may bring misery on those she cares about. Perhaps it is this sense of guilt that drives her to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of others? If so, it is a debt that weighs heavily enough on her mind that likely, she'll never be able to consider it fully repaid...
      โœฆBeing Useless or Unloved โ€“ Arianrhod is a girl who feels guilty for simply having existed in the wrong place at the wrong time. Feeling that she has harmed those around her, or imposed upon them with her presence, she has developed an insatiable desire for praise in order to validate her otherwise meaningless efforts. If people enjoy her company, if she's useful to them, then it means that, at least in some small part, she's making amends for causing her mother's death and her best friend's suffering. But at the same time, this means that if nobody needs her, she's a waste of space who is only bothering those around her by existing. Were that the case, it would crush her spirits completely. She doesn't want to be left all alone. She wants to live a life that is useful to other people, to be loved and admired by everyone around her, like the heroine of a storybook. Consequently, she refuses to accept failure, viewing anything she resolves herself to accomplish as something she should be able to do, no matter how unrealistic or impossible, and holds herself personally accountable when she fails to meet those unattainable standards. She feels inferior to those around her, telling herself anytime that she fails that somebody else could have succeeded where she didn't. Although this does motivate her to try harder, there's only so much that effort can do, and it does little good for her already fragile self-concept. Furthermore, the praise she receives is ephemeral, but an insult... now there's a wound that will fester. If she succeeds at something and earns someone's approval, then she has only repaid a tiny part of an incomprehensibly vast debt. But if she fails, and is scolded, then she has instead compounded the very debt she was hoping to repay. That failure in turn becomes a part of her motivations to continue sacrificing herself for the approval of others, fueling an endless and self-destructive cycle of trying and failing to earn the love of those around her. Even by reassuring her and treasuring her every effort, one is only creating a temporary solution. Indeed, it might be argued that pampering her thus might actually be worse than simply ignoring her hunger for approval, as it makes the one praising her into the sole emotional crutch of her existence, and might lead her to further abandon herself in favor of solely pleasing that one important person. This is likely a major factor in why she's willing to subject herself to imprisonment in order to keep her father happy with her. Since it's her fault her mother died, his current heartbreak and loneliness is her fault. Therefore, if by remaining always by his side, even if she wants nothing more than to fly the skies and explore the world, she can alleviate his grief, she'll do it. It seems that although she seems calm and cheerful on the surface, deep down, she's very insecure, and much closer to breaking, perhaps, than anyone realizes...
      โœงThe Black Ship โ€“ This is how she remembers the ship that was responsible for the attack ten years ago. It was never identified, as its only distinctive features were its jet black coloration, and the gold adorning its wings and bow. Regardless, her hatred and fear for it are two emotions stronger than almost any others she feels. That ship killed her mother, and tried to steal her away from her home. That ship drove her father to grief, causing her to be imprisoned. It is the enemy of everything she is, and were she ever to behold it again, it can't be said for sure what she might do.



โ€œMy dreams? Well... It's a bit embarrassing... Although it's a selfish desire, I've always looked up at the sky and wondered what it would be like to fly in it. As a pilot, I can't help but envy you your freedom a little bit...โ€



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๏ผฆ๏ผก๏ผญ๏ผฉ๏ผฌ๏ผน
      Father: Liore Otanis.
      Status: Alive.

      Mother: Aila Sahalin Otanis
      Status: Deceased.

๏ผด๏ผจ๏ผฅ ๏ผฐ๏ผก๏ผณ๏ผด
      A native of Xera already renowned for her piloting ability even before the War of Five Nations began, Arianrhod's mother was displaced from her homeland by the devastation wrecked upon it during this great conflict. Searching along with her clan for a new place to call home, she eventually settled in Otanis, and in doing so, attracted the eye of the king. Eventually, the two were married, and Arianrhod herself was conceived shortly thereafter. By this time, the war had ended, and the recovery was in full swing, bringing a new wave of commerce and industry to Otanis, and signaling a period of unparalleled prosperity as those expatriates who had come to that neutral kingdom seeking refuge at last began plying their trades, greatly increasing the country's workforce. Although her parents were always busy with the many challenges posed by governing their growing nation, they always made sure to set aside time to spend with their young daughter. In those times, everything seemed right with the world.

      Adored by her parents and by the maids assigned to take care of her, Arianrhod was defined from a young age by her insatiable curiosity. She learned to read surprisingly quickly, evidently not satisfied with having to rely on her mother to read books aloud for her. An energetic, generous girl, she was the angel of the palace, showing the same innocent kindness to the servants as she did to the visiting members of the aristocracy. During this early time in her life, her bond with her mother was especially close. Aila taught her how to read, sing, dance, and countless things besides, and through the love she showed her daughter gave her a firm basis upon which to model her life. This is in no way more plainly demonstrated than in her choice of name. Ordinarily, members of the aristocracy define their heritage solely by their male ancestors. Arianrhod's middle name of โ€œferch Sahalin,โ€ on the other hand, literally means โ€œDaughter of Sahalin,โ€ serving as a constant reminder never to forget the affection she felt for her mother prior to the night of ten years ago.

      Shortly following her ninth birthday, things went horribly, terribly wrong. Her father grew paranoid about an unknown something, and ordered her to stay locked in her room as soon as the sun set beneath the horizon. What it was he so dreaded, or how he had anticipated the attack, Arianrhod never knew. All she remembered was that one night, she was awakened by shouting in the lower courtyard, followed by gunfire. Rushing to her window, she looked outside to see countless black shapes scattered throughout the front garden, harrying each other with sprays of bullets. In that instant, a giant, looming shape emerged from the darkness, and with two ear-splitting roars, it sent tongues of light spiraling down into both her suite and that across from her own, shattering the masonry and sending rubble raining down upon her. Had she not been blown backwards by the force of the impact, she probably would have been crushed on the spot. When she came to her senses, she was slumped in the midst of a vast inferno, and beyond it was the source of all her life's misery, the object of her hate: the Black Ship, floating like a demon amidst the flames. She watched as its crew gunned down the guards and servants alike, gazed in horror as the door to her room was kicked open and a man with a gun charged in, only to be shot in the back in turn. As she cowered away from his corpse, she turned once again to the ship, and saw there standing upon its deck a lone figure clad in black, its features completely indiscernible beneath a hood and mask as it reached out a gloved hand towards her, calling to her amidst the flames. It stepped forward, alighting on the threshold of her burning room. She opened her mouth to scream, but no sound came out as the smoke flooded her lungs, choking her. The figure grew closer and closer โ€“ until it suddenly drew back, several bullets peppering the hull of the Black Ship as it took flight once again, carrying that hellish specter along with it. The guards rushed into the room and found her fainted, but unharmed, and carried her to safety.

      After that day, when it was found that the queen's rooms had been the others targeted in the attack, and that the queen herself had been killed, her father seldom let her leave the palace. He grew more and more wary, hiring additional mercenary guards to replace those killed during the attack. On the rare occasion that Arianrhod was allowed out of doors, she always had an attendant watching closely to make sure nothing befell her. But it mattered little. After that day, she wasn't the same girl as she had been before. No more did she skip happily through the garden, or sing her songs to herself as she played. She was quiet, sad, and alone. But all that changed one day when, momentarily separated from her caretaker on an aimless walk through the garden, she encountered the young son of the groundskeeper, who seeing her grief, decided he'd try cheering her up. He gave her flowers, told her jokes, and played with her, allowing her to forget her sorrow. Their meetings in the garden soon became a routine, and any time she was allowed out of doors, she would go see him. With at least one friend she could count on, she no longer felt so alone. Once again, ever so briefly, she was happy.

      But one day, the two of them came up with a plan that would change everything. The groundskeeper was to go to the port to collect some new flowers that had been shipped in for the garden, and his son, seeing Arianrhod's fascination with airships, came up with a plan to sneak her out so that she could come and watch the ships sailing into port. Delighted, she agreed without thinking, and so the two of them went on their little adventure, sneaking off and tailing the groundskeeper unawares. Together, they wandered up and down the docks, watching the ships coming and going, and discussing what they knew of the different vessels they saw. They played hide and seek amidst the baggage crates as they were unloaded, and watched the sunset together from the edge of the island. When her father discovered she was missing, however, he was outraged, and upon her return, banished both the groundskeeper and his son on the spot for endangering his daughter by taking her beyond the confines of the palace. She tried pleading with him, saying that she'd asked them to and that they had only been following her instructions, but all this did was anger him further. Enraged by her rebelliousness, he ordered her locked within her suite of rooms in the castle's main tower, never to be allowed outside again. And so, for almost eight years, she has spent her days trapped within this abode, her only contacts with the outside world through her books and the occasional servant who arrives to do her laundry, clean her quarters, or bring her food โ€“ as her father would never speak with her of the outside. Consequently, her thoughts were left to fester โ€“ and at this point, she came to realize that her mother's rooms weren't the only ones targeted on that horrible night. The assailants had wanted to abduct her. But why? Did that mean her mother's death was her fault, just as her only friend's banishment had been caused by her selfishness? Even if she couldn't be sure, she became consumed by guilt nonetheless, and so, terrified of what other evils she might inadvertently cause to befall those close to her, she reluctantly submitted herself to her imprisonment, and never again attempted to leave her tower.

      It was during this time that, looking through some of her mother's old belongings, she happened upon an old uniform stowed away in a footlocker. Giving vent to her desire for freedom, and rekindling her old love of the sky and those who flew in it, she found her dreams of one day taking flight sparked anew. Keeping it as a token of her mother, she cherished it more than anything else, concealing it from all who might take it away from her. Even if she didn't want to hurt anyone, she still wanted to live a life that had meaning โ€“ something which her existence at present most decidedly lacked. She didn't want to leave her father, who above all else tried to emphasize how much he cherished and loved her. His affection was more important to her than almost anything, as he was perhaps the last remaining person who cared about her at all. But in order to please him, would she have to remain his prisoner forever? Would she have to suffer not knowing anything about the world beyond her walls, have to live knowing she wasn't being of use to anyone? She wanted to do good in the world, to repay in kindness a thousandfold the grief she'd caused โ€“ even if only indirectly โ€“ by causing her mother to be killed and her only friend to be exiled. So, it was in this hour of despair that she resolved herself to one day become a pilot, no matter what it took. She would fly the endless blue skies above, see things she'd never seen before, help people better themselves, and when all was said and done, become a famous pilot, just like her mother before her. She would do all these things, and make her father see reason that she didn't need to be locked away, kept from the world and from all its wonders. As of yet, she's still just working on answering the rather pressing question of โ€œhow.โ€ After all, telling herself all these things is well and good, but what meaning do her dreams have if she can't convince her father to allow her to so much as set foot outside? She doesn't want to go against his will, or to disappoint him. Yet, at the same time, she wants to show him that she can live her life as something more than just his doll. She wants to become a person capable of helping people instead of just sitting idly by and relying on others.

      Fate sometimes does grant wishes, but it seldom does so in the way we expect. This is one such story: for one day, an unexpected encounter with the last man in Novahlis she'd ever have expected to trust brought her beyond the four walls that she'd spent her days trapped behind, and carried her straight into the the blue sky she had always dreamed of...



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๏ผฏ๏ผด๏ผจ๏ผฅ๏ผฒ

Dษชแด€สŸแดษขแดœแด‡ CแดสŸแดส€ โœฆ #8AB8E6

Tสœแดแดœษขสœแด› CแดสŸแดส€ โœง #ebb40e

Fแด€แด„แด‡ CสŸแด€ษชแด โœฆ Fana del Moral, The Princess and the Pilot.

Pแดส€แด›ส€แด€สแด‡แด… Bส โœง Feyblue

โ’ธโ“„โ“…โ“Žโ“‡โ’พโ’ผโ’ฝโ“‰ โ“Œโ’ถโ“‡โ“ƒโ’พโ“ƒโ’ผ
Disclaimer: I, Feyblue, claim no responsibility for the creation of this format. It's awesome and all, but I just took it from an awesome group of RPers I hang out with from time to time. They are credited below. Please don't be be mad at me, guys - I just love the look of this format! >_>

character basic form ยฉ aurei
modified form เชฝเซฎเซจฮ‘
edited, modified form Luna Delta

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โ€œAnd so it began: the adventure I'd always dreamed of. I was so happy when I set out at first, on the day I took off to soar the unexplored skies and see things I'd never seen before. Back then... I had no idea how cruel the world could be.โ€


So begins...

Arianrhod ferch Sahalin Otanis's Story

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Character Portrait: Arianrhod ferch Sahalin Otanis
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#, as written by Feyblue
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"What day is it, I wonder? What year, for that matter... It hardly matters, I suppose. Every day may as well be the same as the one that came before it."


Location โœฆ Otanis Palace, Sealed Tower
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State of Mind โœง Melancholy, Tired

โ•šโ•




"Princess! Are you awake yet?"

Aside from these distant calls from below, the tower was quiet. Of course, this statement meant very little, as the tower was always quiet. No one save my father and a select few members of the serving staff were allowed inside this place, and I, its lone occupant, was not allowed out. With five out of six floors thus left devoid of inhabitants at all times, and the stone walls and heavy wooden doors blocking out almost all the sounds of the comings and goings in the palace proper, I was left with just the songs of the birds in the garden my own miniature "castle" overlooked to keep me company as I went about my day.

Speaking of which, what time was it, anyway? I rubbed my eyes, immediately feeling the stiffness in my limbs as I forced myself up to a sitting position, displacing a few pillows and blankets salvaged from the ill-used lounge a floor below. Although my vision should have cleared, I, as of yet, was unable to see much of anything. Where was I? What had I been doing again? A book slipped from my lap and onto the wooden floor beside me, its pages opening to display a prominent hand-drawn illustration of two figures standing atop the wing of a small plane, gazing into the sunrise amidst distant clouds. My thoughts cleared slightly, reminding me that I'd spent most of the last evening with my attention fixated upon this particular story, having read it cover to cover in a single night. Evidently, I'd simply dozed off in my little nest in the corner of the library. The lamp must have gone out at some point - the tower, being one of the few sections of the palace made entirely out of stone, had been relatively unscathed by the attack of ten years ago, and thus hadn't been renovated to incorporate electric lighting in the reconstruction effort afterward - explaining the current darkness even though I could hear the birds singing and see a beam of light streaming in through the archive's one window - a tiny slit in the wall opposite the corner I had curled up in for my reading session - illuminating the dust that danced into the air as I slowly rose. I uttered a quiet groan as my legs protested angrily this sudden exertion. My whole body felt as rigid as the boards beneath my feet, and it seemed quite intent on using this opportunity to remind me at length that beds were a much cozier place to sleep than libraries. Stretching out, I brushed the dust from my white nightgown, draping one of my blankets around my shoulders like a mantle in an attempt to make myself at least slightly more presentable - although given how disheveled my hair must have looked and the sleepy fluttering of my eyelids, this was probably a hopeless gesture.

The person calling for me downstairs was getting more insistent - as even the servants weren't allowed to enter any of the higher floors until I gave them the okay - so I hastily piled up the pillows and blankets in the corner, stumbled my way around piles of books and small study tables, and headed to the top of the stairs. The voice was one of few I knew well, belonging to the daughter of my father's butler. Even if Otanis technically didn't have an indentured underclass, her family was one that had served mine faithfully for at least three generations, by choice rather than out of compulsion.
"I'm up here, Miss Marina!" I answered sleepily, unable to entirely conceal the fatigue that permeated my voice. The door at the base of the stairwell opened, and a woman of some twenty five years with short-cropped auburn hair stepped into sight. I smiled sheepishly at her, only to avert my eyes, looking shamefacedly away in the face of her intense emerald gaze. The apron of her pristine uniform brushed against the banister as, adjusting her spectacles, she quickly crested the stairs, inspecting me with an air of disappointment. "Princess, you look terrible," She observed matter-of-factly. I nodded weakly. "I only just woke up when you started calling me," I admitted. Marina sighed, shaking her head. "You were sleeping in the library again, weren't you?" The maid asked sternly. I gave another bashful nod, and she responded with an expression that said, quite plainly, "I knew it."

"I understand how much you like to read, Princess, but I must insist that you return to your bed before you sleep. It isn't healthy for you to spend the nights on that cold floor. As of yet, I haven't told your father, but if that is what it takes to convince you to look after yourself more carefully..." She trailed off, leaving me to fill in the rest by myself. I could have just silenced her if I had wanted to, by, say, taking a step back to the top of the stairs, pointing dramatically at her and shouting something like "As Princess, I am entitled to live my life as I please!" while letting my blanket-cape flap around me in the suitably dramatic wind that existed only in my imagination. I could have, but that would have just been childish, not to mention untrue. Marina was only doing her job, and looking out for my well-being, and besides, she was right. It wasn't particularly comfortable, just convenient. Once I started reading, time didn't matter. I didn't want to stop, even if it was just to climb the stairs. I would simply keep turning the pages, watching as countless days passed in the world within the words. Then, once I was done, the eyes that had so adamantly refused to close would shut themselves in an instant, and before I knew it, with nothing to keep me occupied, I'd be asleep, too tired to even stand and make my way back to my bed.

Either way, refusing her simply wasn't worth it, so I nodded and complied like always.
"Alright... I won't do it again..." I murmured. Marina smiled gently at me, as though to tell me that I'd been a good girl and that simply agreeing without question was the best thing to do, but my heart felt differently. It wasn't a major issue, I told myself. It's not like she was commanding me to stop reading entirely. I just had to manage my time better and be sure not to get carried away. Yet, although I wasn't sure why, I still felt as though the walls around me had grown just a little narrower. With each new restriction that was placed upon me, I felt my soul weighed down by the ever-growing gravity of the things I could not do.

Just then, Marina seemed to realize something. She placed a finger to her lips and uttered a slight
"Oh," a gesture she was want to employ when some thought occurred to her. I cocked my head to the side inquisitively, prompting her to explain. "This won't do at all," She said, spreading her arms and gesturing in my general direction, as though this made everything clear. Needless to say, it didn't. "Come on, we've got to get you looking presentable. Mr. Rhodes will be here for your lesson in an hour!" Marina said urgently. "Oh. My thoughts echoed the maid's own realization as everything she was saying suddenly made sense. Although the irony of having to attend a lesson on proper etiquette whilst undergroomed and underdressed was rather amusing to contemplate, the prospect of doing just that was, for obvious reasons, not. I colored slightly, not wanting to irritate one of the few men in Otanis willing to put up with the extreme security measures at the palace in order to teach me. There was hardly the time for me to prepare, but nevertheless, it'd be better to meet him five minutes late looking properly princess-like than it would to appear on time in my bedclothes. "R-right...!" I said, trying to hide my embarrassment at the situation my less-than-stellar living habits had brought upon me as I turned and rushed upstairs towards the bath, Marina tailing close behind me.

Still, even though all of these unusual occurrences had begun to pile up right after I awakened, to me, this was just another ordinary day. Or at least, so I thought. Little did I know that I couldn't have been more wrong...

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AUGH! Now you guys have got me doing it! @_@

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Having cast off my nightgown, I sank myself into the warm waters of the rather large, open spa area of my gilded cage, my sigh dissipating into bubbles as my lips lowered beneath the surface. Tiny ripples scattered outward from where I seated myself on the smooth stones at the bottom of the bath, my flowing silver hair bobbing outward upon these miniscule waves. The door slid shut behind me as Marina took her leave to fetch me some clothes, leaving me to contemplate the silence amidst the gentle lapping of the water around me. Curling up at the center of the vast room, I sighed again, pillowing my chin on the knees I pulled tightly against my chest. The fatigue of awakening still clouded my mind, but even without taking that into consideration, I still felt... Tired? Was that the best way to put it? My limbs felt rigid and numb, my head too heavy to keep raised. If I had to put this nameless, causeless, ceaseless lethargy into words, I'd say that I simply wanted to curl up where I sat and fall asleep for a few years, awakening only to sate my idle curiosity and see if my four-walled world had become any more interesting while I lay dreaming.

Put simply, I didn't feel like there was any reason for me to be worrying about any of the things that preoccupied me, or doing any of the things everyone around me seemed to find so important. Take etiquette, for example. Of what use could courtly manners ever be to a girl who never left her room? And, if there was no meaning in the things I was doing, then why was I even bothering? I just felt so detached from everything that sometimes, I didn't even feel like I was awake. I was living, but was I alive?

The door slid back open, and Marina returned. How long had I just been sitting here motionless, my thoughts turning around and around in my head? I raised my head slightly, meeting the maid's stern gaze as she waded into the water as well.
"Please stand up, Princess. Let's get you looking presentable before Mr. Rhodes arrives." Nodding numbly, I obeyed, allowing her to go through the usual routine of scrubbing my back and helping me make sure my long hair was all in order, before drying me and leading me to the adjacent dressing room. I glanced down at the outfit she'd picked for the day - a rather simple yet elegant dress colored in white and pastel blue - and stepped into it, spreading my arms to allow her to get the many hooks and fastenings in the back firmly affixed to one another. I sucked in my breath, trying to avoid protesting at the tightness of the dress' accompanying corset. I hated corsets. If I wanted to be unable to breathe, I'd have just suffocated myself with a pillow and been done with it. Nevertheless, I bit my tongue and kept from complaining as she finished dressing me. No sooner were we done than I heard a door opening downstairs, and footsteps echoing up from upon the wooden floor as someone entered the sitting room. I sighed, heading down to meet my teacher, bracing myself for the dullness of the lesson to come, and resolving myself to be as attentive and obedient as possible when listening to a man who could make the epic ballad of Aesyth, Felliana, and the Golden Fleet sound as boring as tax legislation put to lyrics.

As always, I wasn't looking forward to this. Then again, there were very few things I actually did look forward to, so I suppose that statement was somewhat meaningless. Either way, I put on my most welcoming smile, and entered the sitting room.

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"Good morning, Mr. Rhodes," I said as cheerfully as I could, doing my best to hide the strain that was wearing on my consciousness. Being rushed into such a routine as this right after waking up was seldom pleasant, even long after I'd gotten used to living this way. The man seated at the sitting room table glanced up, his wizened head raising itself ever so slowly as his dull brown eyes focused themselves on me. Due to my teacher's sedentary demeanor, he seemed to look far more ancient than he actually was - a fact that was evidenced by the discrepancy between his booming voice and seemingly frail and elderly visage when he spoke.

"Good afternoon, you mean, Princess," He replied sharply, a hint of smugness lurking in the back of his voice. That was another thing I intensely disliked about him. Although he never came out and said it, his mannerisms and way of addressing me always gave me the impression that, in his opinion, he was speaking to an idiot. Nowhere was that more clear that the satisfied way in which he reminded me exactly how late I'd overslept. "Excuse me for not keeping track of the hour outside better. I've been very busy being locked in this tower, which, as you should well know, has no clocks or other fancy devices of that sort by which I might keep time." I wanted to say, but checked myself, biting my tongue to keep my distaste for one of the few men approved by my father to tutor me from spilling out.

"Right," I said, avoiding confrontation as best I could, even if it meant conceding my loss to the image of stupidity reflected in the old man's eyes. "In any case, I'm very sorry to have kept you waiting," I continued, brushing over the issue as quickly as I could in an attempt to regain my relative position of dignity. "Miss Marina, would you please go and fetch Mr. Rhodes some tea? It would be in rather poor taste to give him no refreshments." Nodding, the maid departed, and I smiled calmly as my teacher's criticisms were temporarily stifled by this momentary display of competence on my part. "So then, shall we begin?" I asked. Without wasting any time, Mr. Rhodes set out as he was ought to do, snatching back the direction of the conversation while I seated myself across from him and simply listened patiently. He began to outline all number of elaborate social situations at court, to which I was to explain what my own personal response would be. Many of his situations were simply cut and paste from earlier lectures on manners, and I was blessed with a remarkably good memory for such things. I replied not according to my own feelings, but simply as my learning had taught me to - for that, I had long since discovered, was the real secret of interacting "politely" with others. Although in several cases, my answers were so close to those he'd had in mind that he tried to nitpick small faults with them, perhaps irked by my lack of originality, ultimately, he had little to scold me over. I always enjoyed situations like this, in which he would so desperately struggle to maintain his image of me as a naive and small-minded fool, even in the face of my correct answers. Perhaps it might sound conceited of me, but our lessons were, to me, more of a game than anything, and I always played to win.

Once I'd convinced him that I wouldn't be proven incorrect in this manner, he moved on to more cultural subjects. Traditions of foreign countries, and their legends... Ah, if only I'd had another man as my tutor, I doubtless would have found these parts of my lessons more wonderful than almost anything else. But listening to the endless rambling of Mr. Rhodes as he stumbled from one topic to another, I felt nothing but soul-crushing boredom. He treated all the most exciting things - like the stories of great pilots, or the songs of legendary heroes - with the same enthusiasm one might regard a particularly interesting brick wall, and emphasized the most pointless of foreign trivia - of what use could it possibly be for me to know that in the former Belkarian Trade Federation, a woman wearing a blue rose in her hat was a sign she was affianced? - as though that was all that mattered! I couldn't stand it, but as always, I held my tongue, smiled, and nodded, asking all the right questions when he expected me to and generally playing the role of the ideal student. I think somewhere, deep down, he might have noticed that my opinion of his intellect was roughly as low as his was of mine, but if that was the case, he seemed to refuse to believe it, unable to comprehend that the sweet, innocent princess might be bored half to death by his babbling. Apparently, out of the two of us, I was the better at concealing how I really felt. Maybe I should have been the one teaching etiquette, and he the one listening.

Fortunately, his lessons never seemed to last very long - probably because I was half-asleep through most of them - and so two hours after he'd arrived, he finally took his leave and wandered off into the gardens, making his way back to his home in the town on the neighboring island. I watched him as he went from the balcony of my tower, his hunched form disappearing into the haze of countless colors that spread wide across the city beneath me. From what I understood, there was some kind of state-sponsored festival today. There usually was one this time of year, although I hadn't attended one since I'd been a very small child, so my memories of the occasion were somewhat vague. How I would have liked to be the one walking down the street into that lively, joyful landscape just beyond my vision, marveling at what wonders awaited me at every step. But as always, due to my own greed, that reward was denied me. I'd tried, once, to see what lay at the end of that road - but all it had caused was misery, both to me and to those around me. I sighed, pillowing my head on the balcony as I watched the clouds drift by, a small plane soaring overhead. I watched it, tracing its flight towards that endless blue horizon that served as the unchanging boundary of my lookout post.

"Where are you going?" I wondered aloud to myself. "Wherever it may be, I wish you the best of luck in your journey, Mr. Pilot."

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(CURSE YOU LOCATIONS TAB!)

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I'd been just turning to descend from my little lookout post, headed for the stairs leading down towards the welcoming familiarity of the library, when it happened. Suddenly, with several tremendous crashes and bangs, flashes of light of all imaginable colors lit up the walls. I covered my mouth to stifle my gasp of surprise and worry as I rushed back to the edge of the balcony, peering over the railing at the castle's stone palisade as the guards scrambled about wildly. At first, I thought some of the fireworks - which always served as the climactic finish to the day's festivities - had gone off prematurely, by accident, but a moment's contemplation told me that this couldn't have been possible. Had such a thing happened, all the blasts would have been concentrated in one place. As things stood, this was more like an artillery barrage than an innocent mishap. I could feel my heart beating faster in my chest as, unbidden, the image of a black ship cresting the outer wall flashed across my mind. No. I denied those memories, refused to believe that such a thing could happen aga-

...But as it was ought to, reality immediately proved me wrong, for gliding over the wall in the next instant came a small aircraft, trailing smoke all around it - although whether this was from the fireworks or the damage it had evidently sustained from the return fire from the walls, I couldn't have said for sure - as it began plummeting towards the main courtyard. Just a few moments later, it fell beneath the edge of the palace, and out of my sight. My eyes went wide in horror as the ground seemed to shake beneath my feet, signaling what exactly had gone on beyond my vision. The ship must have crashed into the castle itself! A moment later, a tremendous roar split the air, and a surge of flames rose upward along the wall. Although the foundation and some of the siding of the castle was made of stone, its newer sections were constructed equal parts of wood and metal. The interior of the entire west wing must have been burning by now, and that, combined with the damage the crash must have dealt, would likely cause that whole area of the palace to begin collapsing, which would in turn cut my tower off from the main corridor leading back into the heart of the palace. But worse yet, the airship had crashed near the servants' quarters, and already, I could hear screams rising up from the wreckage.

I wanted to rush out, to go inspect the damage and help save anyone I could. The loyal men and women now caught in that fire didn't deserve this. And yet, I found my legs completely unable to move, my eyes unable to draw themselves away from the flames spreading along the wall and into the garden. I couldn't avert my gaze from the carnage unfolding beneath me as countless tiny shapes rushed to and fro across the court, their shadows dancing madly in silhouette against the hellish light now engulfing the west wing. I couldn't draw myself away from the edge, because deep inside me, I knew that there could only have been one reason that the palace was once again under attack.

It was the same as that night ten years ago, the night on which my mother had been killed. They'd taken her life, but they had failed to get me. Now they were back to finish what they had started.


"It... it can't be..." I murmured, memories blurring with reality until I could have sworn that I saw the black shape of that accursed ship looming in the sky overhead, hidden just beyond the clouds of smoke rolling out over the castle walls. "Please... no... Don't come for me... Don't come back here again...! Don't hurt anybody else over me!"

Overcome by my fear, I did the only thing I could. I turned tail and ran, nearly tripping over the hem of my gown as I tumbled down the stairs into my bedroom. The passage back into the castle would be too dangerous, while dropping from the window of the sitting room and into the courtyard would only make me a target. It wouldn't be long before the guards arrived, meaning for the time being, I just had to keep from being found. The tower only had one way in and one way out, and I'd hear anyone trying to break in long before they could reach the higher floors. If I just hid a little below the top of the tower and managed to avoid notice, I could then slip out and lock whoever it was trying to attack me in. At this point, I felt utterly sure that this attack was deliberately meant to continue where the enemy had left off ten years ago, and although I didn't know who my assailants were or why they wanted me so badly, I absolutely refused to fall into or by their hands. I wouldn't give them the satisfaction of besting me as they had my mother. And so, telling myself that it was the safest plan available to me, I made my way into the rather empty ballroom near the middle level of my tower. In the corner, there was a small, elevated podium meant to house musicians or other such performers. Unbeknownst to whoever might have been searching for me, however, it also contained a small, almost unnoticeable trapdoor leading down into a little storage chamber for instruments and equipment. Pulling this door silently open, I dropped into the dark crevasse below, and then closed it immediately behind me, plunging my vision into complete blackness. As I waited there, I listened intently, hearing only the sound of my ragged breath and my own racing heart, but feeling sure that at any moment, I would hear the door beneath me swing open, and the sound of footfalls pounding up the stairs...


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I can't remember how long I spent there, huddled in the dark chamber beneath the floor. Given the size and elevation of the stage above it, it was actually much more spacious than one might have expected. You might expect that this would be reassuring, given my current state of panic. However, as the room contained nothing save myself and a small box pushed aside into a corner, the surroundings I couldn't see began to grow in size until I felt like there might be someone else hiding in the darkness, waiting until I let my guard down to strike. Naturally, this fear was utterly baseless, but although I knew that, I still couldn't feel safe.

I took a deep breath. I'd know when and if someone was coming long before they arrived. I still hadn't been discovered, and could rely on my hiding place to conceal me for the time being. The guards would surely arrive soon, so until then, I just had to listen closely and wait for the sound of the tower door opening to signal the appearance of either a friend or a foe. Despite my misgivings, the world within the four walls around me was utterly silent.

...Until, that is, an ear-splitting crash resounded from directly above me. I instinctively cowered, covering my head as I heard the sounds of shattering glass and cracking wood. It sounded like a cannonball had crashed right into the side of my tower, but I knew from experience that wasn't the case. If the room had been hit by artillery, there'd have been a much larger impact. I'd have felt the floor shaking, and probably would be able to smell smoke and fire. Then... what had happened? I got my answer when an unfamiliar voice suddenly spoke from almost directly over my head. I covered my mouth, stifling a gasp. I couldn't make out what had been said, but given the irreverent tone of the speaker, it wasn't hard to guess that whoever was currently in the ballroom must have been the intruder. It sounded like a man, probably fairly young, but with a remarkably deep voice - usually a surefire indicator of a powerful build. Given that he'd come this far, I could only assume that he was incredibly dangerous. Trying to control the panic that had swept over me, I concentrated on nothing more than remaining utterly still, stifling even my breath so as not to be heard. The footsteps began to move away slowly, but just as I was starting to calm down, they turned right back around and passed only a few feet from the entrance to my secret chamber, then stopped.
"Alright, now... Where in the hell am I?" Spoke the voice again, this time rendered perfectly clear due to its proximity to where I lay hidden. While this did confirm my suspicions as to the intruder's hostility, it did raise a few questions. For example, why was he here, specifically, if he didn't know what purpose my tower served? Maybe he wasn't with the Black Ship after all. If he wasn't looking for me in particular, that did make things a little simpler. So long as I remained unseen and didn't become a liability in the form of a witness, this infiltrator probably wouldn't target me specifically. In that case, I'd stick to my original plan. If he would just leave, I could sneak out and get away from all this. And yet, despite my hopes, I couldn't hear any footsteps or any other sign of movement. "Please," I prayed silently within my mind. "Please just go away..."

It seemed like an eternity passed in silence. Just me, my heart racing in my chest and my breath caught in my throat as I waited in the darkness for any sign that the tresspasser hadn't located me, and the mysterious, terrifying intruder in the room above. Would he leave? Would he search the room? If he did, would he find me? I curled up in the farthest, darkest corner of the room I could find, fearing that any minute the light would shine down through the trapdoor above me and would reveal my presence to the enemy. Yet, that moment never came, as, to my relief, I could hear the sound of footsteps turning and moving away. A door opened, and those same footfalls began methodically climbing the steps to the next floor up. The air that had been denied me by my fear flooded back into my lungs, and I breathed a sigh of relief. I waited until I couldn't hear the footsteps anymore, and then I rose, dusting myself off. I crept slowly closer to where I knew the exit was, climbing up a small ladder towards the trapdoor above. There, I listened closely, trying to make sense of the noises coming from the my bedroom on the next floor up. I flushed slightly, feeling an indescribable sort of frustration at the knowledge that some uncouth ruffian was going through my private quarters. The sounds of doors opening, footsteps pacing back and forth... it seemed as though the intruder was searching for something. Renewed dread began to fill me, as I realized that the only thing he could have been looking for here was me. Was he trying to capture or kill me after all? No matter. As of yet, I hadn't been discovered, and I certainly didn't intend to be. All I had to do now was escape. I'd open the door, sneak out without a sound, get down to the sitting room, and flee into the palace. Yet, I didn't want to make my move too quickly. Hesitating, I waited to see if any new sounds would appear. It wouldn't do to flee one pursuer and run right into some tardy accomplice, after all. For a few minutes, I waited, but when no such threat appeared, I decided to chance it. So, opening the latch of the trapdoor as quietly as I could, I raised it gently over my head, pulling myself out from underneath it. Then, lowering it, I tried to bring it silently back into its place - but my hands were still shaking. As I slipped my fingers out from underneath the edge of the trapdoor, I found it slipping from my grasp, shutting itself with an echoing, hollow thud. My eyes went wide in fright as I heard the footsteps in the rooms above me abruptly halt, and then begin making their way ever closer with a purposeful gait.

My plan was ruined.

I'd been found.