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Zandyr Kashatir

"I assume you expect something witty here, but I defy your expectations."

0 · 530 views · located in The Two Kingdoms

a character in “Where rivers collide”, as played by Taunbon

Description

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I've Got You Under My Skin - Frank Sinatra
”A look into my life, my past, and how my treacherous mind works? Well, I am sure this will be just so enjoyable. What? I am not being droll, I am being very sincere, I just love being examined and taken apart like some insect at the hands of an overzealous child who was probably dropped more then a few times by his adoring parents. Well, in the desire for honesty, I am no mere insect, and I am sure you are slightly less zealous then the average child, but I, well, I am far too polite to point out the similarities within your intelligence capabilities."






【 Full Name 】
Zandyr Virodar Kashatir

【 Nicknames 】
Full Title: Zandyr Virodar Kashatir, first of his name, first born son of the Kashatir family, Crown Prince of Xairal, Duke of Sarvin, Defender of the Winter Palace, Captain of the Crystal Guard, Keeper of the Rose, Warden of the East, Lord Commander of Xairal's Legions, Victor at the Battle of Black Chasm, Protector of Ama, Hero of Rayus, Conqueror of Karanth, First Blade and Champion of Xairal. | Even my titles have titles.
Zan | A name my mother invented, something she thought was 'adorable' no doubt. Few people call me that, I can list them on one hand, to be precise.
Boy | My father is a busy man.
My Highness | Surprisingly easy to twist by sycophants or dissident.
The Champion/Hero | An annoying an undeserved name, but I understand the necessity that spawned it.
The Butcher
| I will never deny that.

【 Age 】
23

【 Affiliation 】
House Kashatir

【 Role 】
Crown Prince of Xairal

【 Gender 】
”Ah, this is where I am expected to make some bitingly witty remark on your apparent lack of observation prowess, yes?"
Male





Appearance
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”Feminine? I have never heard that one before, I am sure your wit and creativity is a source of eternal pride for your parents. "






【 Height 】
6'2 || 188 cm

【 Weight 】
184 lbs || 83 kg

【 Hair Colour 】
Obsidian

【 Eye Colour 】
Hazel

【 Voice 】
What does your character sound like? You can link to a sample (optional).

Much to his eternal chagrin Zandyr has a very feminine appearance, in fact, he has even been mistaken for a woman a few times by very drunk soldiers or townspeople. It was far worse when he was younger when he lacked the very obvious adam's apple, so much that he was often referred to as the 'young princess' by the maids and even other nobles, of course, it was never said to his face or when they thought he was within earshot. Due to his very 'fair' appearance, he is considered a beautiful man. Not handsome, beautiful, something that greatly annoys him when mentioned especially when compared to his father who was always considered ruggedly handsome as Zandyr took after his mother.

Much like his mother, Zandyr has long, luxurious obsidian hair with a slight almost purple sheen to it under the right lighting. His skin, despite spending long hours in the sun, is light as it stubbornly refuses to darken. Much like his mother, he has high, thin cheek bones, even arching eyebrows, a strong, pointed chin, and even white teeth hidden by plump lips that will earn anyone a dark hazel glare from anyone that dares to comment on his 'kissable' lips. Although, if someone would to look closely, they would see he is missing two of his back molars. His physique, much to his eternal annoyance, is one that sends the idea of frailty over power. Despite years of training and war, his body stubbornly refuses to get larger, he is incredibly thin, with 'boyish' hips, long limbs and thin fingers. While his body does have toned, wire muscles, he would never get into a purely strength match with even a normal townsperson because he lacks raw strength instead relying on speed, intelligence, and tempered skill to overcome his opponents. Yes, he is not one of those self-proclaimed 'lithe but strong' nonsense that many other sons of nobility attempt to claim, in fact, Zandyr will often laugh and even mock those people.

It is not unusual for Zandyr to let his facial hair grow until a thin shadow stretches across his jaw as it helps cut down on his overly feminine appearance despite being incredibly 'unprincely' and far from the refined visage he is supposed to keep composed at all times, but even he needs to rebel against the standard and expected from time to time, but it is a very small rebellion as, for the most part, he upholds the expected standards for someone of his rank and station including wearing clothing with long sleeves in order to hide the numerous scars from training, the war, and his early lessons given to him by his father that cover his body as such things are considered 'unsavory' for the delicate 'flowers' at court.






Personality
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”I would not bother if I were you. Beneath the flawless face and sharp wit is just a dreadfully dull spoiled prince."






【 Likes 】
    Literature || Zandyr loves to read, and it remains one of his preferred means to pass the time.
    Cooking || While he cannot claim to be particularly good at it, he has a love for cooking that he has only recently discovered.
    Verbal Confrontation || He enjoys debating, arguing, or merely engaging it wits as long as the other person is capable of higher brain function.
    Flowers || Due to one of the few memories he has of his mother, Zandyr has always had a deep appreciation for flowers which is why the Winter Palace maintains a small garden, his mothers creation, at his request.
    Alcohol || He does not drink in public and prefers to keep his actions private, he has begun to drink heavily when alone.
    Dancing || A enjoyment that does not do his feminine appearance any favors.
    Music || Zandyr has always had a deep appreciate for the musical arts and is fond of playing the piano.


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【 Dislikes 】
    Alcohol || It is less on the substance then hating his new found reliance on it.
    False Idol || Hero/Champion, he despises both of those names, but understands why he has been paraded around as such to the people, but the things he has done or ordered done should not be exalted.
    Onions || Zandyr has always had intense dislike of Onions.
    Snapping || People who snap their finger is something that quickly annoys the Prince.
    Cats || Well, to be fair, his dislike of cats exist because they dislike him, and he is far too proud to continue to embarrass himself by reaching out to the small adorable felines and have them strike out at him.


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【 Skills 】
    Leadership || Despite his warm nature, he is a very talented and experienced leader having served in the war as one of Xairal's commanders as well as all the training and life skill that comes with being a prince whose job centers around commanding others what to do.
    Martial Training || Xarial has always placed emphasis and pride in their military tradition, and as the prince, most of Zandyr's life has been consumed with the aspects of war from archery, horsemanship, and swordsmanship.
    Musicians || While he doesn't consider himself to be a master, he is very good at playing the piano.
    Healing || Having taking a very large role in the war, Xarial understands how important medical treatment is and has made a large effort to understand how to treat battle wounds, sickness, as well as recognize many herbs and how to prepare them.
    Speed Reading || While not a very important skill, Zandyr can read incredibly quickly able to absorb paragraphs in the span of seconds.


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【 Fears 】
    ⦿ Failure || Most of his life has been consumed with doing his father proud, of being the 'best' son and prince he could possibly be in the futile hunt for approval, because of this, he doesn't take failure very well nor even simple mistakes.
    ⦿ Deep Water || Zandyr has no idea how to swim and nearly drowned long ago, he still has a phobia of deep waters.
    ⦿ Sieges || Sieges are long, brutal, and harsh, but it is after the siege, once the walls or villages fall that Zandyr fears for the darker parts of men, the beast that lurks within their souls comes out. He could go his entire life without ever having to see that side of humanity again.


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【Personality】
Resolute || Proud || Competitive || Distant || Demanding || Intelligent

One of the greatest traits that Zandyr is proud of is his resolute nature, and it is often the trait he is most known for during his military career. His determination and unyielding spirit has helped him push on through his life, allowing him to keep his chin up and bear the burdens that should have broken his spirit decades ago. Once a decisions has been made, Zandyr will follow it, crush any obstacles, and reach his objective no matter what he has to do or how much of himself he has to sacrifice. This resolute nature of his gives him an iron-will, but it also makes him incredibly stubborn. It is extremely difficult, nigh-impossible, to budge him once he plants his feat and to prove he is wrong is an uphill struggle.

Getting him to realize he is wrong is one thing, getting him to admit it out loud is another thing entirely as pride is a core factor of his being and his primary sin. Zandyr has immense pride in himself, his nation, his family, and his people as it was something he was raised to believe and had beaten into him since he could walk. His pride aids in his determined nature as backing down, or heaven forbid, having to admit he was wrong is a massive blow to his sense of worth. Because of his pride, he is hyper-critical over his own mistakes and actions. Where other people will merely shrug off mistakes and 'learn next time', Zandyr will spend hours, days, even months silently berating himself for his slip ups because he is supposed to be better then that, smarter then that, stronger then that. Imperfections, real or perceived, are a source of constant pain and aggravation, and he will constantly assume other people can see them as well and are mocking him in their minds just as those at court did so long ago.

Because of his need to be perfect, beyond faults, Zandyr is incredibly competitive as he cannot stand the idea of others being better than him despite, logically, understanding that he cannot be the best and that will always be others superior to him. Better swordsmen, better commanders, better princes, better men, there is always going to be someone better at something. The world is far too large for him to truly be the best at anything, but his nature cannot allow him to do that. He will work harder to prove he is 'better' then others near him even if he doesn't realize he is doing that at the time, and he will never back down from a challenge once issued making him act rather 'childish' compared to his normal, reserved, self.

And reserved he is. It is very rare for him to show his emotions and has often been described as 'cold' by most people who meet him. He keeps his feelings and actions separate, or, he tries to. Most people, no matter how close, will have little idea on how he truly feels about them treating them like he does everyone else, with a mixture of bemused wit and apathy. This distant nature has protected him from many of the things he has seen and allows him to push on, but at the same time, it makes him rather unused to dealing with his emotions preferring to push them away or put them under lock and key. On the few times he has ever had to face them because the emotions were too strong to be able to easily stash them away has ended disastrously as he has trouble handling his turbulent, intense emotions. Someone he once knew told him that he has such trouble dealing with his emotions when they erupt because he feels them so much more intensely then the average person.

An intense is a good word for much of his personality. Just like how he is over-critical of himself, he is critical of others. Of their abilities, of their actions, of their motives... He judges others with the same impossibly high standards he uses on himself which does make him find faults in others. Faults that would be small and unnoticeable to others are large and apparent to Zandyr, and a part of him knows that the reason he does this is a mixture of a desire to see others as just as imperfect, if not more so, then himself to help his own insecurities, and it helps protect him. If he sees others as less then him, as weaker, as slower, then should they hurt or betray him, it will be easier to deal with. There are very few people who are absolved of this scrutiny, his sisters, no matter how they act, are always above his harsher criticism, and his father is despite... his father perhaps needing someone to point out his many flaws.

And Zandyr has a rather sharp tongue when it comes to pointing out said flaws. He adores, almost loves, witty remarks and comments from him, or others, and loves to engage in wits. He loves to read and has the ability to retain large amounts of, often pointless, information. This memorization ability coupled with his observational skills has made him a extremely skilled and accomplished tactician which has caused his reputation in the war to grow to the point where Zandyr is now the overall commander of the military forces of his nation. But, his intelligence does come with a downside, his mind is easily bored. Few people can challenge his intelligence, can make his mind run all the time, that can spark inspiration within him and light a few in his soul... well, if he were to be honest, he has never met anyone like that. His mind is his greatest strength and weakness.






History
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”I would hate to bore you with the tedious details, but my upbringing was what one would expect for someone of my over-inflated station. I won't pretend that you wish to hear it so long as I don't have to pretend to wish to hear about yours."






【 History 】

Zandyr, such a silly name, I still cannot believe he picked that name for you. What was wrong with Aurelius? Or Tychus? I would have taken even Joten, before you ask, your grandfather's grandfather or something was called Joten, but it had to be Zandyr. Look at me rambling as I talk, er, write, I am sorely tempted to go back and tear out this page and just redo it, but well, maybe you can read this and smile at my legendary eloquence. I know this isn't the best present to give to a baby boy, but with all the things I know your father is going to want from you; I think this will help you. You can write your feelings and thoughts here, and it will be safe, maybe you will think of me when you write? Oh! What if we do something special and instead of putting the date, you can just write how old you are so that someday we can look through it together! But, it is yours, so whatever you choose will be just fine. I wrote far more then I meant to, but whatever happens Zan, know that I love you.

Prince Aegnor had long defied everyone's expectations and stayed unengaged despite the wishes and desire of his own aging father, but that decision came back to bite him when his father passed away in his sleep leaving Aegnor as the King of Xairai, the unmarried king without any heirs to be found which left the kingdom in a precarious position. One bad plague, one misstep and the kingdom would be plunged into chaos, his juvenile desire for independence had to be crushed if the kingdom was to be safe, something the wealthier, and stronger, nobles were aware of and sought to take advantage of. To solidify his control of the kingdom as well as pacify the ruling class, he took Selene as his bride. Selene Vorant, the eldest daughter of a minor house, it was a marriage of convenience one which would raise the Vorant house to prominence in a single move, and one which would show the new king had even the interest of minor nobility at heart, of course, it did help that Selene was considered to be the greatest beauty in the kingdom with long dark hair and the fair pale skin that made her look so much like the beautiful moon that dominates the night skies of Xairai, and Aegnor had always desired her.

This desire did not run both ways, Selene had harbored romantic feelings for a gardener on her families estate, a low-born man who shared in her love of plants and things of simple beauty, he was a soft-hearted man, a kind man, but Selene understood her duties to her family, and despite the pleas of the heart, she married Aegnor and became Queen of Xairai. The Winter Palace is a glorious, magnificent structure that is unrivaled in splendor in Xairai or any kingdom, but it lacked one thing, life. The Palace, as the name implies, is subject to extremely harsh cold weather which does not allow much in the way of plant life, something she needed. To make her happy, Aegnor had a large greenhouse constructed, one that would allow the Winter Palace to grow life, one that would make his wife happy, but his actions would spell the end. In order to make her happy and feel at ease in his gift, he brought the gardener from her home, the man she loved and invited him to stay at the Palace.

For all his flaws, Aegnor loved his wife, how could he not? She was intelligent, funny, kind, and loving, and Selene... Perhaps, with time, she could have grown to love Aegnor as he was kind, in his own way, there are a lot of things that could have happened, but it was not meant to be. With the gardener, whose name was struck from the records, so close by, with so close, the love they had for each other couldn't be held back for long. Stolen kisses among newly grown flowers and passionate embraces under the moonlit sky filled her heart with joy because, finally, she had something she chose for herself. It was ten months later that she became pregnant, and much to her shame, she did know who the father was. Both men adamantly believed the child was theirs, one from faith, the other from ignorance, and to both of their bewilderment, the young boy looked like her and no other.

Selene understood how dangerous it was, how foolish it was for her to be doing that when she had a son she had too look after, when she was the Queen of a nation, but she couldn't stop. It was not long after Zandyr turned one that she and her lover were discovered in each others arms. Aegon had hoped to surprise her with a gift, a beautiful carved diamond set into a silver necklace, but he found her wrapped in the arms of another. Driven mad with rage, he drew his sword and cut the gardener down, his bloody splattering over the flowers and windows of the structure that had been built to commemorate love. Lost with rage, he couldn't understand, or perhaps he didn't care, but he moved forward and struck down his wife even as she held onto the gardener's dead body, sobbing uncontrollably as everything fell apart before her very eyes.

It was in grim, almost oppressive silence, that the most trusted servants of Aegon cleaned up the blood, took away the bodies, and took a vow of silence to never speak of this again. The reputation and stature of the King of Xairai cannot have a black mark on it, the knowledge of an unfaithful wife would greatly damage his reputation beyond repair not just with his own people but with the people and royals of other nations. To avoid this, rumors spread of how his wife died due to a sudden drop of her health, and crush and potential rumors, he quickly remarried, but the damage to Aegon's heart had been done. The betrayal had broken something in him, crushed the light within his soul, and it extended beyond him. Trust and faith in others became beyond him, and more then that, as Zan grew older, Aegon tried to find something of himself in the boy, to prove that he was his son, but he couldn't find anything. The boy looked too much like his mother to find anything, and it killed him. Every time he looked at Zandyr, he saw her. Her in the arms of another man, of her smiled filled with deception. It wasn't Zandyr's fault, and he knows that, but he can't help but hate him. Hate what he stands for, what he reminds him of, hate the idea of him not being his child, of another man's child taking over his throne.

Father says I have to train now but I dont want to. They laugh at me when I try. They keep laughing at me. They say I am a little princess but I am a boy! They think I cant hear them but I do. I am a boy... I am... - Seven and three qarters

Zandyr's early life was fairly standard for most royalty. He spent most of his time with nannies or tutors, learning how to write, speak, among other things. He never had much exposure to his father unlike his sisters almost as if he was... different. He assumed that it was because he was a prince and so needed to be 'stronger' then his sisters, needed to learn how to rule, and it seemed to make enough sense for him to believe it when he lacked anything else to believe. He didn't start seeing his father in any large amount of time until he was seven and his marital training began.

Much like his standard tutoring, his training was done by knights and soldiers within the army, but his father decided to take a 'hands on' approach in many of his training sessions, and Zandyr's initial joy at seeing his father quickly turned to anger and fear at the sight of his father dressed up in combat gear. His father was... far harsher then any teacher he ever had. He did not pull his punches, he did not hesitate to cut into Zandyr's flesh, and he made a point to speak down to him. Remind him that he is a prince not a princess and needs to stand up because he did not have time to waste on the weak. The kingdom needed a strong prince, not a child.

Sorry if this is hard to read I messed up today. I missed a block and Fathers sword cut into my right arm. I don't know why but it hurt and I. I cried and I know I shouldn't have. It was weak father says I can't show weakness but I couldnt help it. The rings on my armor was ripping into it and pulling it and I just couldn't help it. I really couldn't. Father kicked me reminded me to be stronger that I was being a child. A weak princess, and I saw them two serving boys walking by snickering at me. Snicker at me. I am not a child! I told him I was sorry but he told me to pick the sword up and start again. A prince needs to fight on no matter what but I kept dropping it. My hand wouldn't close and the sword was slippery.. It is really hard to write with my left hand, so I am going to stop here for today. - Ten

His training with his father was interrupted with the invasion of the Helyan, but he continued to train and study as the war waged on, and despite all odds, the Xeirai army managed to win, they fought back the barbaric forces of the Helyan, and his father did it, commanded the forces that pushed them back, step by step and finally broken their backs. As far as Zandyr was concerned, his father was a hero, one who crushed barbarians and saved people. He wouldn't to be like that someday, to be that strong, to be able to protect everyone, to be a great king.

I lost two teeth today. Father's blade pommel came up and caught me in the jaw because I let my guard down. I finally got a hit on him though! He swung to the left, and I ducked underneath and tapped his leg with my blade! I managed to score a hit on him! But, I let my guard down and didn't see when he swung that handle at me, I was foolish, I shouldn't have let my guard down, but I was so happy, but I shouldn't have been. I mean, I kinda hoped he would have said something, maybe told me I was getting better, maybe he could have... no, I should have kept going. An enemy isn't going to stop just because I managed to touch them, father is just trying to make me stronger.

I swallowed one of them, is that bad? I don't know what will happen if you swallow your teeth. I should ask... no, Father is busy with the new war on those traitors, and Lady Vigdis hasn't been feeling well lately. I will just go to the library and find it out. I am not scared or anything, I just want to make sure. 'A good prince is never scared and always prepared.' - Fourteen


As Zandyr grew older, he also grew bitter and guarded. His father was still his hero, and he even missed training with him from time to time as it was the only time he truly got to spend with his father, who refused to let him call him 'dad' because that word was not 'proper' for a prince despite his sisters being able to say the same. The insults and whispered rumors of him being a 'little princess' who was attracted to other men still persisted and only seemed to grow as he got older and more attractive, more feminine. He couldn't intimidate with his body or actions, so he had to use his words. He turned words into weapons, into daggers and arrows with which he could strike at others. If he couldn't intimidate them, he would break their minds and spirits, defend himself with his mind.

And it worked far better then it should, but at the same time, Zandyr also isolated himself. He would lash out with his words before allowing people a chance to get close to him because it was easier to keep them away early then allow them to get close as close meant dangerous. He grew to enjoy his own company, his own mind, his own time. It was a pathetic and sad existence for a teenager, and when he started to mature, he would occasionally take woman, sometimes serving girls, other times the air-headed daughters of other noble houses, but he was always careful, and sure to let them know that he had no intentions of taking it further. He lived alone, in his small little world within the world.

I am joining the war. Father said it is time for me to join the fray and establish myself as a leader of worth. If were to be honest, I would have to say I am a little nervous about all of this. I have never led men before, not like this, and what if I fail? But, I am excited, I can finally do it. Finally make father proud, finally do what I was born to do. - Sixteen

Zandyrs romanticized ideals of war was quickly destroyed in his first battle, serving as a commander in General Rashals army. The blood, the screams, the way men would claw at the faces of others even as their intestines slipped out, and the smell, the smell was the worst. No book ever told him of how men and women loose their bowls when they die, and the smell of blood, gore, and feces of thousands of men and women is a potent stench. Zandyr cannot remember the first person he killed, in fact, he can barely remember any of them. All the faces just blur overtime. Did they have a son? A father? A sister? A wife? Did it matter? No, not really. Zandyr quickly discovered that such thoughts never bothered him, in fact, it was the fact that they didn't bother him that bothered him.

He quickly rose in rank past his ceremonial position of 'Lord Commander' to a true general commanding the 4th imperial army, and with it, Prince Zandyr became a frequent name on the lips of the nobility. The 'princess' was now one of the greatest military minds in kingdom. In a show of confidence, Aegon left the war to his commanders and the prince in order to return to the capital and keep a tighter leash on the nation.

Many battles stand out, many are heralded as 'great victories' but one, one battle stands out the most in Zandyrs memories. The siege of Karanth. Karanth was a large city that stood as a linchpin in the defensive lines of Ezea and homes of tens of thousands of men, women, and children. It had endured and turned away numerous assaults and sieges by Xairai forces and stood as an important symbol of the unending war that seemed to have no end in sight, that was, until it came under siege by the 4th Imperial Army.

The siege started as any other, encircling the city, building fortification so that the defenders of the city did not get ideas and outside forces hesitate before launching raids, the securing of supply lines, and the destruction of nearby land. Zandyr started to construct the engines of war, rams, ladders, and massive towers, but he had no intention of using them. An assault on the walls would cost them a lot of lives, no, they were merely to intimidate the defenders, they intended so slowly starve the defenders while they dug tunnels underneath the walls. An operation that would take months, if not years, to succeed, but if Karanth fell, it would strike a blow into the hearts of the people of Ezea.

But it seemed Crown Prince Riven Anarane knew that as well. Zandyr knew of Riven, by reputation, as Riven was one of their greatest military commanders just as Zandyr was his nations. It was almost funny, two princes being two of the greatest minds in the war, but Riven wasn't quite the same as him. From what he could gather, Riven was warm and kind where Zandyr was cold and harsh, they were the opposite sides of the coin, and Zandyr knew, deep in his heart, that the war would be truly decided when they met on the battlefield, but he had not expected that date to be approaching so soon as Riven marched his army to relieve the city of Karanth. Knowing he had no other choice, Zandyr ordered the assault upon Karanth.

I.. don't know what went wrong. I am sorry, the men, they changed, and I couldn't stop them. I can still hear their screams, the screams for help. I killed four of my own men, they were pulling at the clothes of this woman, and I knew what they were going to do, I had seen signs and the leftovers all over the city, and I killed them. I killed them like dogs. One of them, I can recall, had a daughter at home, and I couldn't understand, how could he do this? Something changed them. I don't know if it was fear or panic, or anger... or something darker, but my men became monsters. I became a monster. The city was filled with bodies and blood, I nearly slipped on something, I think it might have been a liver.

...

There was this little girl, she couldn't have been more then seven, she was holding on to the body of her mother and just crying, begging her to wake up, and her body was covered in so much blood, I don't know whose blood it was. I should have stopped, I should have helped her then maybe I could have saved someone, anyone from that. But I didn't, I kept walking. I had to. I couldn't... I am prince. I have to be stronger then that, I should have saved her. I found her body, or what was left of it, the next day, still next to her mothers. I could have saved her.

...

Karanth is gone. I had every last building torn down and burnt. It has been silent these past few days, the men are not talking about what happened, and few are talking at all almost as if everyone, men and women, are hoping to lock this away. I executed three more men for raping one of our female soldiers, and I have ordered my army to fall back. Riven will be here soon, and my men don't have the spirit for such a battle. I... don't have it in me for one more battle, and I had the oddest thought as I looked upon the remaining walls of a city once home to thousands, 'Welcome, to the city of bones'. - Nineteen


The Siege of Karanth would quickly become known by two different names, the Conquest of Karanth by the people of Xairai and the Butcher of Karanth. Aegon used it as a rallying cry, and much to Zandyr's eternal shame, he turned him into a hero. A champion for butchering innocence and watching them suffer. While for the people of Ezea it became a black mark in their history, nothing of the like had ever happened, and while he was known as the Champion to his own nation, he was known only as the Butcher to the people of Ezea.

The war continued on, both sides hoping to take advantage of the sudden shift in power, but nothing came of it as both Zandyr and Riven dodged and outmaneuvered each others forces never willing to fully commit to the field, until... years later, their forces finally came to meet near the small village of Ravus. It was early in the morning when the two forces clashed, and while Zandyr usually only committed himself, personally, to spots where his men were struggling or needed the moral force to push through, but this day, he looked for Riven's personal standard, and rode out to meet him, and on that faithful day, the war would come to an end.

I killed him. Prince Riven, he was a good man. I know that, I had read about him in reports, but when we met each other, I understood then that he was the hero and I the monster. He was the prince upon the white horse while I was the black knight sent to whisk the fair maiden away. I don't know why I rode out to meet him, and I don't know what possessed me to look for him in that melee, but I knew I had to. Despite never having seen each other, we both knew who the other was when we gazed at each other, we just knew.

His skill with the blade was commendable, but I was better. That said, he was the better horseman. It was a fierce fight, and I wanted to lose. I... I wanted to lose. I didn't deserve to win, he was the better man, and I hate him for it. I hate him that foolish dead prince, I hate you, and I hope you suffer in the pit, but you deserved to win. I.. have done many things I am not proud of in this war, and I am heralded as a hero for it. A hero! I did what I had to do, I know that. I do, and I would do it again if I had to, but Riven had never done that. Riven was honorable... and that honor got him killed. He managed to unhorse me, and he had the upper hand, but he dismounted to make our fight fair. In the middle of the battle, in the chaos that surrounded us, he was concerned with such nonsense. On foot, I was the better by a large margin, and I disarmed him. I had wanted to die, but I disarmed him. My instincts, a part of me... didn't want to die even though I didn't believe I deserved to win. He was disarmed... I should have taken him in. Take him prisoner, Father could have done many things with a royal hostage, brokered to bring the war to an end, but I couldn't. I struck him down. He had insulted me. Called me a monster, a butcher, he spat at my feet told me he had seen the ruins of Karanth. And he was right. I am a monster. I am no hero, I am the butcher, but I do what I have to do. I will always do what I have to do, but I know I didn't strike him down because I hated him, I killed him because I hated myself - Twenty-Three


The death of Prince Riven was a blow, and Zandyr was quick to hide his hand in it. The war would only escalate if the Butcher of Karanth had slain the Crown Prince, instead, it was said he was killed by a random soldier as he lead a glorious counter-charge. Only Zandyr and Aegon know what really happened, stories exist, of how the two princes came to blow, but they are dismissed because of how unlikely such a thing would be, and if it had happened, there would be no real reason for Zandyr to not claim such a feat of martial skill for his own. With the death of the Prince, and the growing strength of the Heylan, both sides pursued peace... but peace was hard to discuss with so much blood on their hands, arranged marriage was the best way to guarantee peace... the only way. Once again, Zandyr would do what he had to do because that is who he was.






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”Me in all my irresistible glory. Yes, despite my earlier statement I am very aware that I don't quite live up to my terrifying reputation."

So begins...

Zandyr Kashatir's Story

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane Character Portrait: Ildantxhe Anarane
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#, as written by Layla
A I S L I N.
1544, Thirty-first of December | Dusk.


Murderers dined in the great hall of the Winter Palace, their cackles skittering across the marble floors to gambol through the hollow tunnels of unsuspecting ears. The noises fused into an untuned symphony, snippets of slurred speech and hefty guffaws leaping to attention like the jarring clash of cymbals when the humongous double doors swung open. She clenched her teeth against the nails that raked across her scalp as forks collided with knives, their bickering like the discordant hiss of clashing swords. Cranberry sauce spurted from a large boar as a cleaver sliced into its belly, the red oozing from its corpse like blood from a prone body. A trumpet wailed beside her left ear in 6/8 time.

"Her Royal Highness the Princess of Ezea, Aislin Serafaena of the House of Anarane," announced a vociferous voice that pummelled each syllable into the ivory walls. Heads swivelled above shoulders as thousands of eyes hammered into her, each nobleman and woman eager to chip at her edges until a nail struck her core. But Aislin Anarane was impenetrable, as inaccessible as the infinite expanse of dusk that breathed through the glass dome of the Winter Palace. Vines etched into the alabaster fortification crept towards the clear ceiling, the heart of every delicately crafted leaf winking with its diamond's light. To maintain such conspicuous grandiose in the thirteen years of war was an affront of them all. She imagined the veins embedded within the leaves to be the blood of the artists who'd painstakingly etched the unbroken mural across 1,000,000 square feet of space and wondered how much they'd been paid for their trouble, if they'd been paid at all.

Aislin kept her gaze lowered and intent upon the gleaming silk carpet as she walked between the rows of of ebony tables, searching for crinkles in the cloth that did not exist. Her father's warning hummed at the base of her skull - "lower your gaze, always" - reminding her of her eyes' inability to maintain a facade of insensate naiveté. The corset dug into her ribs, compressing the lungs behind them into that of a pigeon's and endowing her with a plunging cleavage she was certain she lacked. Her skirts swished around her heels, the deep crimson of her bodice gradually fading into a warm tangerine and the brilliant gold of a setting sun at her feet. She thought she looked like a lit torch. Albeit one that was hideously overdressed, and without the bliss of being on fire.

Her throbbing feet halted before the raised dais. She saw the eight pairs of polished shoes resting beneath the elaborately crafted top table, one remaining seat devoid of an occupant. She was late, but that Aislin already knew, having underestimated the time it would take to be cinched within an inch of her life and prodded by a sadistic liege of hair ornaments. Her stinging feet yearned for the gentle caress of soft leather, but she thought the corset might have been useful for entrapping game. It was certainly effective in entrapping her.

Aislin stood a mere stretch away from the King of Xairal and his vulnerable jugular. She saw the boots of his royal guard at his back, recalled the two framing the doors behind her and the many who stood rigid against the length of the great hall, and wondered how much time she would have before a sword punctured her heart, and then how much longer before the floor embraced her. Aislin counted the seconds it would take to duck a hand beneath her skirts to the dagger that rested in the sheath clasped to her thigh garter, and then the seconds it would take to lodge it in his throat from this distance. She could do it. She should do it. He was an avaricious being, a fraud and a murderer. She saw Ezea's green forests devastated in the war, the cinders where villages once stood and the smoke that wept towards the Heavens weeks, months and years after mothers, fathers and children became carcasses. She heard the pleas for mercy, the women and children robbed of their dignity before they were their lives, and she thought, yes. I should kill him.

Instead, Aislin clutched the folds of her skirt until the skin of her knuckles became bone and her tongue bled where she bit it, as she forced her knees to bend. She thought she could hear the groan of her cartilage as they scraped against one another in her descent, or perhaps that was the heat that flooded through her veins and turned her ears red. Her legs resisted even as her head pulled the blinds over her heart, but she knew that for her people, she would kneel. The Princess of Ezea bowed her head before the King of the country that had ravaged hers, and curtsied.

"Rise, girl," King Aegnor barked after a pregnant pause. A nerve throbbed at her temple as fury stained her vision red. Aislin had to bow before the king in his kingdom, but she would not be commanded as if she were a squirming worm beneath his boot. No, she would not rise for him.

"Rise," he repeated through gritted teeth. Aislin took her time, counting the ticks and tocks in her head until the silence of the great hall stretched to unbearable. Just before the string of toffee snapped in two as it was being pulled apart, she rose. Aislin lifted her head and met the King of Xairal's cold gaze with those forged of fire and brimstone. Molten lava bled from onyx pupils and melted into the amber of sunsets as a ring of pure gold laced the inner circle of an impossibly dark limbal ring. Her eyes burned like flames trapped within two crystal orbs as she stared at King Aegnor, a smile that was both parts feral grin and challenge lifting the corners of her lips. Thick black kohl lined her large eyes, tilting at the corners in a feline stare.

"Forgive me, your excellency," Aislin said. "I was entranced by your presence and nervous to lay eyes upon the reverent King of Xairal. You are greater than the tales, my lord." The corner of King Aegnor's lips twitched in a frown or a smirk, but soon a hefty laugh erupted from his chest which the great hall echoed. Aislin's gaze flicked to King Aegnor's right and she met the honeyed brown of her own father's. He regarded her warily, lips pressed into a thin sliver of colourless white. She beamed.

"Come, sit. Eat," King Aegnor boomed, gesturing with his right arm. A right-handed fighter, then? Would his left side be unprotected? "Resume, please," he told the inhabitants of the great hall. Aislin stepped onto the dais, strolling to the remaining seat without a glance at the royals who sat at the top table. She held her head high as she dragged her chair backwards before a servant's fingers could close around it to perform the menial task, and dropped into the seat. All the room's attention was fixed upon the two kings as they spoke in turn of peace, treaty, unity, prosperity, trade, end of the war... It freed her of the need to pretend to be the princess she evidently was not.

"A toast, brother." King Aegnor lifted his glass along with his body. King Mirus mirrored the action.

"A toast," he replied, and their glasses clinked. The room roared, chairs toppling and wine spilling over cups as they stood. Aislin stabbed her fork into a chunk of bleeding boar, and shoved it into her mouth, eyes rolling behind her closed lids. All around her, drinks collided in promise of peace, rendering thirteen years of war forgiven and forgotten. Aislin snorted.

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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir
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#, as written by Taunbon
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"Today, I have been graced with the honor and privilege of meeting my dearly beloved, my promised one, my fiance, the woman I will have no choice but to suffer the presence of, and I am just... bursting with barely contained enthusiasm. The Princess of Ezea whose name I have naught the faintest clue on how to spell. I assure you, I do know it as it has been a buzz within the Palace these last few days as it seems the servants rather enjoy the idea of visiting royalty despite it being from a long standing enemy, or more likely, they couldn't wait to gossip about what utter fools everyone will make of themselves during the forced niceties." - Twenty-Three



The dark ruby liquid rolled and sloshed around, stroking and striking the silver walls of its overly ornate prison as Zandyr's hand cradled the silver chalice idly rolling it in his hand; his hazel eyes bored down into its depths as if he could coax all the answers left unsaid from its struggles for freedom and drowning out the mindless, chaotic chatter that was overflowing the large dinning hall. His right thumb traced one of the many engravings lining the surface of the chalice, a large rose with vines stretching across the metal surface designed not with practicality in mind but with the single-minded effort of displaying the holder's superiority and obvious wealth to anyone who would give it a cursory glance.

It was a vain effort, the chatter could not be drowned out no matter how long he placed that defenseless wine under his indomitable glare. He had done reasonable well so far, Zandyr had smiled, nodded, and played his part as the charming 'hero' with all the ingrained etiquette he had, but he was tiring of it and quickly. He could only give out polite smiles and small nods so many times before he could no longer bite his tongue especially to them. Their fake smiles and greetings, heartily calling him, 'Hero of Xairai' when he can hear what has been left unsaid, what their eye's conceal and their minds scream at him, Butcher. He would rather it be said as he preferred that name. Hero... Champion... they left a rotten taste in his mouth that the bitter ruby colored wine could never wash out.

The obnoxious wailing of a poorly played trumpet snapped him out of his mind as his hazel eyes jump across the room to the large doors to see what self-important noble would be arriving next. Perhaps the illusive and late princess? His bride to be? His chain and ball? His weight that sought to drown him? The one whose rear would fight hard to keep the dust from building up on the throne of Xairai?

Zandyr traced her body up and down with his hazel eyes, from her bright fiery hair to her equally... red... dress that stood out in stark contrast to what everyone else was wearing, especially himself as Zandyr choose to come in a simple black jacket, white laced shirt and dark black trousers, if anything, he felt rather undressed. Perhaps he should have also dressed like an unruly tomato?

From the 'high table' of egotistical 'higher' nobility with chips on their shoulders, Zandyr watched as his dear tomato curtsied to his father and lowered her head that soon to be legendary fire tomato dress rippling at the sudden shift of her body, and the sudden tension that filled the room as his father commanded her to rise. His father knew what he was doing, but Zandyr still felt this was pushing a line that did not need to be tested, yes they were in his hall so some level of civility was meant to be shown, but.. No, his father knew what he was doing as he always did.

Zandyr could not help the stiffening of his shoulder and posture at the sudden laughter from his father, nor could he explain why it set him on edge as it did, but Zandyr rarely heard his father laugh, at least in his presence, so it was... a unique spectacle. Zandyr slowly raised his near empty chalice along with everyone else at his father's rather poorly timed toast. His personal servant, Havier, stepped up from the shadows and poured some more of that dark, ruby wine into his chalice and leaned in to whisper, "What do you think of her Highness, my Lord?"

Zandyr brought the chalice to his lips, "I have never liked tomatoes."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir
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"It's like I'm reading a book... and it's a book I deeply love. But I'm reading it slowly now. So the words are really far apart and the spaces between the words are almost infinite. I can still feel you... and the words of our story... but it's in this endless space between the words that I'm finding myself now. It's a place that's not of the physical world. It's where everything else is that I didn't even know existed. I love you so much. But this is where I am now. And this is who I am now. And I need you to let me go. As much as I want to, I can't live in your book any more."

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The conviviality of the evening somewhat frightened Elizabeth. She was surrounded by ones who chose to gasconade about their fellow friends, betraying their trust. Many of those people showed adulation towards the Kings, whereas Elizabeth could care less. Yes, she tried to be amicable and act like she cared greatly, but in reality she felt stuck. Stuck in never-sinking quick sand. Quick sand that chose to stop sinking her in as soon as it got to chin, just so she could continue to hear and see everything and everybody talk about things that hardly made sense to her. Quick sand that kept her there for what seemed like forever, not willing to just let her suffocate in the golden sands and instead torcher her well-being. She was stuck, but the more she moved the more she just sunk. So she was now labelled as the quiet one. The obedient one. Truly, in many ways she was. Then again, many ways she wasn't.

Her red painted finger nails circled around the shiny glass of her equally red wine. She watched as the red substance swirled and swooshed along with the movements of her small hand. Her shoulders and back were straightened and kept high, even with her sitting down on the comfortable chair. She sat alone at a table somewhere near the back of the whole gathering. All the chairs were still evenly tucked in under the table and the silverware and the plates hadn't been even touched yet. Everything just remained untouched.

Her elegant white gown was sprawled out over the chair and onto the floor beneath her feet. The skirt part was rather big and it's fabric ruffled down from her waist all the way down to her red shoes. The corset underneath the dress shaped her already small waist even tinier and it finished off with a rather complimenting red belt around it. The top was buttoned up from the belt with white pearls up to her bodice. The sleeves were cut off just above her elbows. Everyone had insisted that she looked beautiful, but she felt as ugly as could be at the moment. She felt invisible. She felt fake. She knew that wasn't how a princess was suppose to feel though. So she pushed those feelings away. Being pessimistic wasn't really her style anyway. It never was.

Her blonde locks fell down her to her waist on her back. Parts of her hair on both sides of her head were gathered up to the middle of her head and tied up with a red ribbon that matched her belt around her waist. Icy blue eyes met a fiery red-head as she looked around the place. She listened as trumpets blasted and they announced the Princess of Ezea, Miss Aislin Serafaena. The girls hair matched her crimson gown. The colour of blood. She watched as the girl knelt down before the King. Elizabeth's red lips met with the cold rim of her wine glass as she went to take a sip of the liquid, then she paused along with the pause of the crowd. Aislin didn't rise at the Kings first command. Elizabeth watched as the girl refused to. It was as if she was in another world. Maybe she was imagining that she was somewhere else at the moment... or maybe she was just ignoring him. Blocking him out. The hands of his voice couldn't grasp her and shake her out of her daze, until she finally rose to her feet the second time he told her to.

Elizabeth sighed in relief. Her glass fogged from her hot breath filling it up, but then the glass quickly cleared and it was still as porcelain as it was before. She went to finally take her sip, along with the cheers and roars and clinging of glasses from the crowd with the toast, before the stubborn liquid took a wrong turn in her throat and caused her to start choking. She began hacking coughs as she set her glass down on the table and brought her hand up to slightly cover her mouth. She was choking. Drowning. The loud cheers and laughter from the room filled her ears and made her head pound. She felt like she was underneath water. Clear, crystal water. She was floating and she could see everybody above her, but they couldn't reach out and drag her out. The water had filled her lungs and was now drowning her from within.

"Princess Elizabeth?" A voice said behind her as she felt a hand gently rest upon the small of her back. A serviette was then offered to her; put right in front of her clear view so she could see it. She nodded thankfully and quickly took the napkin and covered her mouth with it, trying to calm herself down and take a breath from her coughing.

"Oh, thank you. You're very kind." She tried to say to the man between coughs. Once she was finally done her coughing fit, she looked back and met eye-to-eye with one of the many butlers there. "I apologize for the trouble. Wine was never my first choice in drink." She said kindly as she gave a slight smile to the man. The butler only nodded in understanding and took the serviette from her. Elizabeth shook her head embarrassingly as she broke eye contact with the man and looked around the room.

"Would you be so kind and lead me to the royals table at the front? I'm so absent-minded, I lost my way the moment I came in and sat down at this lonesome table all by myself." She said quietly as she looked back the man. The man nodded.

"My pleasure. Right this way." He said as he kept his hand on the small of her back and guided her through the crowds and up to the front where her siblings and the other House were sitting at. Elizabeth felt her heart beat a little faster each time she heard her red shoe click on the shiny floor. People smiled and bowed at her as they watched her walk by them, and she could only manage a gentle smile back at them. She let out a shaky breath as she caught a glimpse of all the Kings and her siblings seated at the table along with other royals from the different Houses. Her eyes caught her fathers gaze and he beamed.

"Why, there she is! My dear, where were you? Come take a seat." He father said delightedly as he offered his calloused hand to help her up onto the dais. She smiled, feeling the butlers hand leave her back as she brought her small hand into her fathers own hand. He helped her up, but then let go of her hand and turned back to his business... expecting Elizabeth to know where to go and sit by now. Elizabeth kept the corners of her mouth raised slightly as she made her way to an empty seat. She finally took a seat on one of the many royal chairs meant for people like her and flattened out her dress. She sighed, suddenly feeling self-conscious. Whether she was nervous or not, she kept her back raised and chin high and she gazed around the room among her full of crowds of people. What a night this has turned out to be already.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane
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Bacchus opened his eyes to the sound of birds chirping, each singing their own songs as the sun slowly set from the sky. He turned onto his side, intent on falling asleep again. And this was precisely how he had spent his time ever since Riven had left: sleep and eat. The young prince refused all attempts from the outside world to reach to him- the only times his butler saw Bacchus was when the prince straggled out for food once every day. No more parties, balls or events could draw out Bacchus from his quarters. His laugh no longer boomed out from behind the heavy oak doors that separated him from the rest of the castle, and no longer did the sounds of moans and gasps echo throughout the hallways. He acted as if he was devoid of life, but a mannequin moving with invisible strings attached to his appendages. No matter how much others tried to persuade the young prince back to his senses they were all met by a blank stare followed with a faint smile before his door closed on their faces. Thus, Bacchus spent his days in prolonged mourning, stuck inside the grand greenhouse linked to his own quarters. But it was time that it came to an end, as his skin stuck to his bones and the numerous wounds that he had inflicted upon himself needed caring to. This was weeks ago, before the young prince had been drawn out of Ezea and carted off to meet with the Xirali royal family with what was left of his own family.

Now, at Xairal, Bacchus had managed to lock himself in his assigned quarters for what felt like a week. But he knew that he had to attend the ball- he had to. That and his bed sheets needed to be changed by what he imagined would be soon-to-be horrified Xairali servants.

Sighing, Bacchus rolled over before groaning and rolling off of his bed, feet landing first on the marble floor. He knew he was definitely late but Bacchus showed no signs of rushing as he pushed the glass doors that led to his room open, waves of cold air rushing past him as he stepped out of the sunny warmth of the greenhouse. The room itself was gloomy and lit dimly, with a bare amount of furniture and three doors: for his bathroom, study and to the “outside world”. Slouching slightly, Bacchus yawned as he made his way across the room and fell onto his bed. His eyes slowly shut together once more as Bacchus let himself into a small slumber. But his small peace would not last long- urgent knocking suddenly came from his door as the familiar voice of his butler, dear old Sebastian, came from the corridor. ”Your Highness? Your Highness Bacchus!” Bacchus opened one eye before closing it shut again, his forehead scrunching together as he used a hand to grab a pillow to block out Sebastian’s voice. Alas, it was not enough. “Your Highness! If you do not open the doors this instant I will use my set of keys to open it! You are late for the ball with the Xairali-“ Letting a groan out to block out what Sebastian was saying, Bacchus yawned widely before getting up and striding to the door, opening it wide to show his disheveled self. “Can I just go like this?”

His question was answered with a look of abject horror and a quick flurry of hands forced Bacchus to back into his bathroom and into his shower. A few quick minutes later- coupled with much berating and sighs from Sebastian- Bacchus emerged refreshed and, once again, clean. Even more scolding came as Sebastian made his round in Bacchus’s greenhouse (especially when the old butler saw the state of Bacchus’s second bed). ”Young sire! How could you do this to yourself-,” Bacchus did not answer as he made his way to his wardrobe and dragged out articles of clothing to replace the naked state he was in. Pulling on a white button-up shirt, the young prince yawned widely before pulling on a pair of gold embroidered blue pants. A dark navy vest was fitted underneath a slightly too large, gold patterned jacket that Bacchus threw on. His hair quickly tied into a lose ponytail with a length of gold satin, Bacchus grabbed a single sapphire drop earring before turning to look at Sebastian. “Exactly how late am I?” He asked while rolling back the cuffs of his jacket and picking out a pair of shoes. “The rest of the royal family are there.”

Bacchus let out a bark of laughter as he grabbed a cane- the final touch to his grand ensemble- and made his way out of the door. “Just on time, then.” His sentence was met with yet another sigh as his butler hurried on behind him, ushering the prince through the many hallways of the grand palace. “Be on your best performance, Prince Bacchus,” His butler muttered, “For this is a large event that cannot go wrong.” Bacchus guffawed at Sebastian’s sentence, waving his cane in the air dismissively as they made their way towards the door that led to the grand hall. Sounds of gay laughter and music traveled through the large doors and to where Bacchus and Sebastian stood, beckoning Bacchus to his “natural hunting grounds” (or so he liked to call it). “Yes, yes, Sebastian, you need not worry,” Bacchus said, turning around to look at Sebastian before turning back again. “There is no fun in being a fool when Riven is not there to laugh with Aislin and I.” Waving at the guards, Bacchus stepped into the large ballroom as trumpets wailed to announce his entrance. “His Royal Highness the Second Prince of Ezea Bacchus Liridon of the House of Anarane.”

Uncomfortable silence fell as the horridly late prince walked across the long carpet that led up towards the royal table. Murmurs and whispering went abuzz as the royal men and women watched as the infamous prince made his way until he was right in front of the members of the royal families of Anarane and Kashatir. “I apologize for my tardiness, father,” Bacchus said before anyone else could open their mouths, “I do hope my transgressions may be forgiven.” King Mirus gave the prince a disappointed glance before shaking his head and laughing slightly, “You are forgiven- but I shall not be as kind the next time you are as tardy as today. Take your seat.” A smile playing on his face, Bacchus winked at Aislin, his every action denying the fact that the Xirali royal family was also seated in front of him. “So this is the famous Prince Bacchus?” A voice boomed out just as Bacchus had turned slightly to make his way to his empty chair. His eyes flickering upwards, his own icy blue eyes were met with the muted brown ones of King Aegnor. Silence fell once again as Bacchus stood straight again, a look of disregard on his face as he looked at the King before looking down at his hand and checking his flawlessly filed nails. “You flatter me, sir.” Was Bacchus’s only response as he let down his hand and let out a sigh, “Truly, my older brothers are much more “famous” than I am. Especially my honorable eldest brother whom died in battle- may he rest in peace.” His glare icy cold, Bacchus laughed once again before bowing his head. “Excuse my manners- I should not talk of the dead at such a great event. Let us both have a toast, shall we?” Walking up to the table, Bacchus picked up his own wine filled glass and held it up. “To peace.”

Grinning at the bemused king whom raised his glass for a drink, Bacchus lifted his cup as he turned around to make his way around the table. But when he had sat down on his seat, the prince made no move of finishing the toast he had started. He would not be drinking with the indirect murderer of his own brother. Turning towards Aislin, Bacchus allowed a cheeky grin to appear on his face. “I think father is truly growing old,” He commented as he cut into the piece of meat that lay on the plate in front of him, “especially with how he’s placed the two of us to sit together at such a grand event. And by God is your dress hilarious- you almost look as if I had dressed you up.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: [NPC] Bartender Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane
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#, as written by MayKinz
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Rosalina had been waiting for this ball for months she had practiced day in and day out. She revised her curtsies so that she would gleam through the event as a social icon, she spent most the her days walking the palace grounds talking to the butlers and maids in particular she wanted to know everything every single bit of gossip whether it be meaningless or not, and finally she had spent at least 3 hours in her boudoir with her most trusted ladies maids fitting her final touches to her gown making sure her hair was pristine and overall making sure she looked ready to play the part.

As she sat at the table later that day with all the royals she laughed and jested with the other lords and ladies making her rounds and wishing all of them a wonderful evening and of course catching up on how their lives had been playing out not that she didn't already know..,but she liked to hear how people spun their stories differently. She smiled and gleamed as she was curtsied and bowed to out of the courtesy of the lower born, as she nodded she also allowed herself just a bit of crimson wine she didn't want to knock herself off her game but every now and again the drink was just to delicious to pass up. She made another round of the rooms guests having many compliments paid as was expected, her cheeks flushed a summer rose colour and on request she even done a brief spin to show off her gown. It was her favourite a pure white gown with lace trims it pushed in her tiny waist as the corset tightened, but after reaching past her hips it spurted out in beautiful white lace held up underneath by very well designed netting in her hair she wore diamonds that shined underneath the candles and made her blonde locks seem even more beautiful, around her neck she wore a key necklace that had been a birthday gift from her late maid Jane she always treasured it.

Sitting back up at the table she heard the princess of house Anarane announced she cut off mid sentence to turn her attention to the entrance of the so spoke about princess Aislin..,ugh she didn't particularly like her since she had just had to enter at the moment she was telling her favourite dinner story. Rosalina watched carefully as the princess made her way to her father watching to see how perfect or tragic her curtsey would be except she bowed how strange maybe that was the custom where they came from? but as her father ordered to her to rise she did not "How dare she!?" she accidentally blurted out rather embarrassed, she delved her head into the wine glass once again as she emerged she saw the princess had finally risen.

After the toast was done and she had finished exchanging smiles and laughs she turned her gaze to her sister who was slowly being escorted to the table by the butler Rosalina gave a slightly disappointed look she thought maybe it was her prince...but come to think of it the table had been so much more happier without Elizabeth, she never seemed to want to joke and exchange gossip Rosalina even some how wanted to doubt that she was even her sister but Elizabeths blonde locks still held the evidence of that doubt.

She was rather bored by the time the doors decided to swing open again but she sat up in attention it was the other prince..how odd she thought why was he this late? It was extremely rude to be late for any occasion let alone how momentously important this one was! Were all of house Anarane so rude and uncouth they couldn't be surely she had been thinking of her betrothed all night and although in her mind he was perfect she couldn't wait to see him he would look rather dashing and heroic, not to mention he would smile bright. The very thought of the wedding planning made her blush even more she would have to have a little sip more to stop this foolish thinking.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane
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A I S L I N.
1544, Thirty-first of December | Dusk.

There was once when the sight of Bacchus at an opulent event such as this was quotidian, expected, even, but surprise brushed its fingers up her spine when the same contralto that had announced her arrival announced his. Aislin had scarcely seen her youngest older brother upright, much less upright and clothed in what appeared to be nice clothes - unwrinkled, hygienic clothes - since... Since the Incident. She found herself flummoxed at his easy composure and apparent lucidity, it was a familiar sight, and yet utterly foreign. In the days after the Incident, she'd sat by his bed when she wasn't funnelling her anguish through swords or slapping the sputtering mud of Ezea's forests with her tattered boots, insisting that he eat. Always that he eat. Since they were children, her remedy for setbacks had been to leave no room in their bellies for it to reside, but this was not a whole moon's cycle trapped indoors for having released all of the kitchen's hens in Ildant's personal chambers. This was a death. A hole that gaped its vacant mouth in the pit of their stomachs, swallowing all that they threw at it, devouring their innards when it throbbed with hunger, and it was famished.

On a night following Ezea's cause for mourning, she'd crept beneath Bacchus' thick woollen blankets, and moulded her body to his, scooting backwards until his blonde hair tangled in hers, gold melting into the red warmth of fire. Aislin had thought she felt him shaking with the rhythm of his sobs, or perhaps it had been her own devastation she'd felt rattling her bones. It had been a long while since they'd last laid in the same bed, slept in the same room, but she doubted either of them had slept a moment that night, so perhaps it did not count.

Bacchus met King Aegnor's gaze and exhaled malice as if it were smoke from his mouth. There would no doubt be consequences but Aislin could not silence the small thrill of pride at his gusto when Bacchus veiled his accusation with a toast. She'd caught his wink but returned to him only a look of devastating boredom as she continued to shovel food into her mouth. She kept her gaze on the marbles of rare fat on the prime corpse on her plate as he stalked towards her, wondering what sauce would best compliment the refreshing taste of blood.

“I think father is truly growing old,” Bacchus commented, voice humming through his parted lips like a warm caress the way it always did. Her brother needed more friends and fewer lovers. “Especially with how he’s placed the two of us to sit together at such a grand event. And by God is your dress hilarious- you almost look as if I had dressed you up.” Aislin's unusually large eyes widened a fraction more as she pressed a hand to her chest, feigning abject horror.

"I look like a prostitute?" she gasped.

"Forgive me, your highness!" The shrill voice leapt from the foray of bickering utensils. Aislin turned to it, seeing a young servant girl an empty seat away - where in Raena's name was Ildant? - dabbing madly at a dark shadow only to jerk away. She clutched the lonely neck of a bottle in one shaking hand and a piece of square cloth in the other. "Please p-punish your s-s-simple servant, y-your excellency," she stuttered, falling to her knees to cower apologetically and simultaneously retrieve the remains of a shattered bottle. Aislin rose to her feet, walking around to help the poor girl. Or she would've, if the corset allowed her to bend at the waist, or breathe. Just as well. Her father might've had her hung had she helped a servant under scrutiny of Xiral's most self-important nobles. Instead, she touched the girl's shoulder, nearly instigating a stroke.

"Pr-r-r-rincess," the servant squealed.

"That is I. Royal. Regal. Reptilian," Aislin said. The girl's jaw unhinged. It wasn't quite the burst of laughter and camaraderie Aislin had been expecting, but she supposed a life-long friendship in a moment of shared humour might've been a bit too much to expect anyway. She spared a glance over her shoulder in search of Bacchus, sighing inwardly. He alone appreciated her repartee. She returned her attention to the servant halfway curled into a fetal position. "Why not take the fragments to the kitchen? I can tend to the royal highness," Aislin suggested lightly. The servant stared up at her from her perch on the floor, mouth gaping and shutting, gaping and shutting like a drying fish. Eventually she nodded her gratitude and apologised profusely before scuttling away.

"Now, what seems to be the" - butcher - "problem?" Aislin had turned as she spoke only to lay eyes upon whom was possibly the most beautiful man she had ever seen. His dark hair cascaded along the arch of his wiry back, framing translucent eyes embedded with flecks of green and gold. His skin was polished marble, a stark juxtaposition to the obsidian garments that veiled much of his skin. He was stunning, but that did not dampen the hiss of contempt that transformed her blood into lava. The Butcher. The beautiful, savage Butcher of her people. Aislin solidified her smile into stone and her panic into pulverised dust. This was to be the man she would marry. She was expected to sell her body and soul to a mass murderer, a merciless beast, a rapist and a thief, the Butcher. The black he wore suited him. It was the absence of colour, the colour of mourning and the darkest moment at night, where the unknown thrived and nightmares breathed, leaching air from the lungs.

"I see she dropped the" - butcher - "pitcher on your lap," Aislin said, lifting the cloth where the servant had left it in her haste to escape the wrath of Xairal's most feared generals. If he were this brutal now, what would he be like when time aged him? "I" - butcher - "wager you must have quite the fearsome reputation for your servants to despair so woefully the" - butcher - "future ramifications should they incur your wrath with these slight blunders."

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane
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"I planted some ras...berries this morning! The servant helped me. I had to make hole with my finger to put the seeds in but Lady Vigdis wasnt happy and said 'A young prince should not be walking around with dirty little fingers!' They werent that dirty. Maybe Sophia will want some rasberries?

Raspberries. The door man said there was a p in rasberries but why is there a P there?" - Nine and a Half




It seemed his chalice was going to be his confidant for the night as it was far more interesting then the gathered assembly which was no large feat. Zandyr let his hazel eyes scan down the table to see his youngest sister, Rosalina, who was almost certainly the only one attending that was happy, if not gleeful, to be here as to the why, he had not the faintest idea. Perhaps she envisioned a handsome prince coming to dash her off her feat and into a make believe fairy tail of love, exhilarating swordplay, and terrible dragons, or she was merely excited by the prospect of garnering international attention. Either way, he almost wished he could share her blithe nature.

Losing interest in staring at his youngest sister from across the room, he reclined back in his overly adorned wooden chair that was covered in various engravings to the point where the chair passed the threshold from fashionable to entirely uncomfortable; he could almost feel the winding and twisting vines digging into his skin, but life did have a method of solving such minor problems in the form of the bitter red liquid that rested within his chalice, seeking asylum, he lifted it once more to his lips but stopped as his hazel eyes examined the dark red liquid suddenly drawn to the image of that hideous red dress that was something he expected a small child to pick because 'it was just so pretty'. Casting aside the sigh of contempt that tried to fight its way from his lips, Zandyr set the chalice back down on the wooden table, keeping his face neutral as his eyes made the effort to scan the room to feign interest.

He had only seen his dearly beloved once, and yet she had already managed to make drinking lose all its allure. Perhaps if he gave her a few hours, she could make life, itself, seem rather pale and lackluster? The sudden announcement of the youngest princes arrival snapped his eyes back to the very spot the overripe tomato had gifted them with her presence at, he was met with the sight of a prince in far too much blue, but, at least, it was better then the sheer amount of red his sister had met, but now that he had seen the third child, he could not stop the small smile that spread across his lips. It seemed their father should have asked a few questions of the pure queen for it was a little too suspicious that all three children looked nothing alike. Perhaps the Queen enjoyed entertaining nobles or handsome peasant boys?

But it seemed the younger prince was determined to equal his sisters entrance, if not with vibrant garish clothing then with his endearing personality. Not only had he not bowed, he had apologized to his father rather then the host. Zandyr let his chin rest on his hand as his hazel eyes watched the unruly boy speak as he checked his nails, but he noticed something rather odd, there seemed to be an earring, a small little thing on the prince. Zandyr raised a dark eyebrow, his interest caught by the little piece of jewelry, did the prince confuse himself with a young maiden hoping to appear rakish to her squealing friends and admires? His far from kind musings were cut short at the mention of his older brothers, of the one that fell in battle, of Riven. Zandyr's eyes glazed over for but a moment as he was no longer seated in that suffocating hall of ego and etiquette, but instead, a field of tarnished grass as lightning crackled and rain cascaded daring to obscure the carnage and hide the screams... the man glaring at him with defiance, of the blade that separated flesh and the flash of blood. His body running on instinct as his mind was far adrift, Zandyr raised his glass with the toast and brought it to his lips, only to stare once more at that dark red. The color of dresses, hair, and blood. He could almost see those defiant eyes glaring out at him from beneath the ruby surface daring him to do it, to drink to peace, to drink to his younger brothers mocking toast, to drink to bedding his sister. With a barely concealed grunt of disgust, Zandyr shoved the chalice away and back to the table.

His mind taunting him with memories better left forgotten, he searched for something to fixate on, something real from which to return to the world, turning his head, his eyes latched onto his sister, Sophia, say something to their father and then leave out the door to the balconies. Odd. She was never overly fond of crowds, but he hadn't expected that. Pushing the image of his crimson destiny out of his mind, he started to rise intent on checking on her as if he did not, it was more then likely no one would and while he may not admit it, he needed someone to speak to as well. Not about what happened, but merely to converse with, but it seemed fate eternally conspired against him.

Just as he pushed himself up to stand, a serving girl had bent down to fill his chalice once again, and they met in the middle with disastrous results. His shoulder bumped her arm sending the pitcher falling and spewing its ruby contents all over his body. That inferno dark liquid, the color of tomato dresses and blood drenched over his dark pants. The warm liquid seeping through the cloth and sticking it to his legs, the smell of musk and berries filling his nostrils as well as the squealing of apologizes from the frantic girl filled his ears.

He had not the faintest idea how she produced that cloth, or from where, but her frantic dabbing at the front of his pants was doing him no favors, and his temper already short, he sliced his hand down knocking away her hand and sending her recoiling back in fear of further violence. Zandyr closed his hazel eyes as she fell on her knees and started to pick up the shards from the pitcher still begging forgiveness but this time in the form of a punishment, her terrified stuttering and blabbering doing far more harm then good as out of the corner of his eye he spotted more then a few nobles smirking at him. Her little stunt was gaining for more attention then it should have due to her antics and, worse, her reaction to him.

Taking a moment to gather his wits, his mouth opened only to close when his hazel eyes were assaulted by a large quantity of tawdy red. His mind reached a dismaying conclusion far before the young serving girl did as she spluttered the title of the tomato women who graced them with her presence. Royal, Regal, Reptilian. How very clever. The dastardly, reptilian princess who enjoyed making young serving girls nearly faint from shock, but she couldn't be that clever if she willingly picked such garments. All the annoyance from before seemed to have been replaced with something new, curiosity, if he had to place a name on it.

Zandyr raised an eyebrow at the small, red woman, raising an eyebrow at her bold declaration that she would handle him, but when she turned to look at him, a transformation seemed to have taken place. Her shockingly intense eyes seemed to harden, her face set, and any warmth that her hair and dressed suggested was crushed as she questioned him and while he could not say for sure, he could almost feel her disdain which was to be expected, but expecting it and coming face to face with it were two different things, and he felt his own disdain grow in response to her's. No little tomato would get the best of him that was for certain.

He opened his mouth to respond, but once again, she seemed to be quicker on the draw then him coming to the, rather obvious, conclusion of what had transpired moments before. Her observational skills were just so stunning, able to come to such an obvious and apparent conclusion only minutes after even the most dimwitted would have, but she took it a step further. Zandyr narrowed his eyes at her tone catching her transparent insult for what it was.

"I am afraid so. Servants tremble at my approach and faint with solace at my passing, all praying for the garishly dressed reptilian," Zandyr paused, widening his eyes in a show of mock apprehension, "Apologies, I meant regal, princess to come riding to save them from the dreaded prince of butchers."

Zandyr paused for just a moment before motioning to his soaked breeches, "If I may have that lovely piece of cloth you seem to be clutching onto, or perhaps you would enjoy to, how did you say it," He paused making a show of thinking back to exactly what she said, "Tend to the royal highness?"

His face remained blank, but his fierce hazel eyes screamed the unspoken challenge to his tomato inspired adversary, oblivious to whatever scene or even scandal this may be causing as his attention was concentrated on his crimson adversary, his dearly beloved.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane Character Portrait: Ildantxhe Anarane
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Bacchus’s laughter echoed throughout the hall- no one could bring such joy to the young Prince as his little sister. Raising his wine glass, Bacchus tried to drain down the giggles that shook his body but they would not leave. “You are too harsh on yourself, dearest princess Aislin, and on my taste of fashion! But no, you look ravishing and I am sure that father is most pleased-,” Turning back to his food, Bacchus picked at it with his fork before placing his utensils down. He felt full, but for what reason the prince did not know, for he had been denying himself food for a long time. It would had made more sense if he had immediately dug in, but the elaborate feast only caused his stomach to sink within itself and his tongue to dry up. Instead, Bacchus picked up his wine glass and took a tiny sip; yet, again, the alien liquid almost got stuck in his throat. Sighing, the prince placed his cup down as well and reclined back in his seat, his eyes half closed as he allowed the din to fill his senses. All the interactions in the court proceeded as usual, as the young women tried to find themselves probable suitors and the men vied to prove themselves the stronger amongst many. Eyes constantly flickered towards the royal table, with murmurs and judging glances flying towards the two royal families in high frequency.

They were like animals being judged; yet at the same time, they were the coveted animals that ran two different nations. Stifling a yawn, Bacchus pushed back his hair and picked at the fruits on his plate, popping tiny piece by tiny piece in his mouth. It was no doubt that he was utterly and horrendously bored. But the prince did not complain but rather observed what was in front of him, noting which minister was sitting next to whom, talking to whom, watching whom, for it would be interesting to see all of the political environment in court be developed in the most simple of settings ever: a ball. But his attention was caught momentarily as the woman he recognized as his fiancée excused herself from the table, face as pale as a sheet. Raising his eyebrow once again, Bacchus allowed his eyes to follow the back of the princess before turning them back once again to the scene in front of him. She intrigued him, really, Princess Sophia, for he was to marry her in the end. Bacchus had protested, had shut himself in his quarters for ages, yet his father had not allowed the prince to worm himself out of the engagement. Rather than for his own skin, Bacchus knew he had to push off the engagement for the woman whom he was to marry- for her happiness and her name. For even Bacchus could not tell how much a marital link between him and Princess Sophia Elizabeth Kashatir would be able to tarnish the name of the beloved princess.

Enough, probably, for his associates were far and plenty and his sensual nature rather known throughout the land. It didn’t bother Bacchus, obviously, but he wondered how the known to be rather timid princess would think. However, something about her leaving figure piqued Bacchus’s interest, and his blue eyes trailed behind her until she vanished from sight. Intriguing. Chuckling to himself lightly, Bacchus once again sat back in his seat in a posture of leisureliness; in his mind, Bacchus contemplated following after his bride-to-be, wondering if the tales of her beauty could be true. However, just as he raised his hand for a servant, Bacchus suddenly noticed the deafening silence that had fallen across the hall. Turning his head slightly with a bemused look on his face, Bacchus watched as Aislin rushed to the help of a maid whom had somehow managed to spill wine across the Xerali Prince’s pants. Stifling his laughter once again, Bacchus watched with an amused look on his face as the two exchanged jibs and at the horrified look on his own royal father’s face.

If only brother were here to deal with this. However, the thought of Riven and Ildant caused Bacchus’s mood to immediately darken, for both were never late; yet one was and the other unable to attend. Standing up, Bacchus let out a sigh and walked over to his sister, picking her up from the ground and plopping her on her feet. “Remember that you are in front of a royal assembly of two nations, Aislin. Princesses do not tend to the needs of others- nor do they get on the floor on their bare knees.” He whispered in her ear as he let go of the smaller princess, his smile kind though the look in his eyes warned his sister to not engage in more tomfoolery. For though he admired her wit and courage, Bacchus knew that the setting they both were in was too grand, too dangerous to act as they did when there were only Ezean citizens present. Turning to his father, Bacchus noted a look of slight relief before turning to the prince in front of him, his smile growing slightly more strained as he stared at Prince Zandyr. “Prince Zandyr, I will, in place of the servant and my sister,” Bacchus paused here, wondering if Aislin would flay him later for commenting on her transgressions, “apologize for the incident that has befallen on your pants. I am sure that with how resourceful your palace has been as of recent during our stay here, that you will be able to be fit with a new pair of clothes immediately? I believe Aislin, as your future,” a muscle on Bacchus’s neck twitched (no one, he believed, would be good enough to have his beloved little sister), “will be willing to see to it that you are presentable once again. And now, I believe I will have to be excused, for I sense that my own fiancée is much in distress- and I must send for a servant to check on my brother.”

Placing his hand on Aislin’s back, he gave her a small pat of encouragement- Bacchus knew that she, like him, felt more the urge to give the Xirali prince a black eye than carter to his needs- before heading off where he had seen Princess Sophia disappear to. Without a second look back, Bacchus exited the large ballroom and looked left and right. Though he hated the place with a passion, Bacchus could not help but admire the architecture of the Winter Palace. Extravagant, beautiful- Bacchus felt disgusted by the castle that had been built with the lives of innocents. But he shook the thought out of his mind as he immediately walked up to the first servant he saw and inquired for the whereabouts of the princess. Following the directions of the servant, Bacchus navigated through a few corridors until two large glass doors greeted his sight of vision. A view that reminded him of home- of the prison he had given himself from days long past. A greenhouse. His eyes flickered left and right before his hands reached forward and pushed open the large glass doors, warm air immediately rushing forth to greet the young Ezean prince. Sure enough, Princess Sophia immediately came to his eyesight as Bacchus stepped in, sitting at a pagoda in the center of the dense mass of flourishing flora.

“Princess Sophia?” Bacchus called out, walking up with his head tilted to a side, watching his former fiancée with a look of concern on his face. “I hope you are not feeling unwell? And excuse my sudden intrusion- I was just a bit worried for you since you did not look too well while leaving the dining hall.”

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane
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A I S L I N.
1544, Thirty-first of December | Night.

Zandyr Kashatir resembled the carpet on which she'd walked earlier, and she concluded this with all the cordiality a princess could muster for her nigh inamorato. Dimples teased the corners of her mouth as her suitor spoke with all the pleasantry of acidic poison seeping meticulously and with agonising slowness from a battered oesophagus.

"I am afraid so," he replied. "Servants tremble at my approach and faint with solace at my passing, all praying for the garishly dressed reptilian. Apologies," the Butcher said, not apologetic at all. "I meant regal, princess to come riding to save them from the dreaded prince of butchers."

Oh no, garishly dressed reptilian is quite alright, she mused. The sentiment was malevolent but not untrue and if he were someone else, she might've even appreciated his gall. Still his black attire could not hide the crimson that she was knew to hiss beneath his skin, a spiderweb forged of the blood of innocents that stained his body with the map of their two kingdoms, scattered with the bodies of his victims. No amount of wit or brazenness could return the blood to corpses or enable it to flow once again.

The Kashatir Prince gestured to his own regal self. "If I may have that lovely piece of cloth you seem to be clutching onto, or perhaps you would enjoy to, how did you say it, tend to the royal highness?" She did not miss the sensual indignity his question implied, a heat rising from the tips of her toes to the top of her head. He'd made her blush, just as surely as if he'd lifted the paintbrush himself and flicked a splash of red across her cheeks. The heat that rose by her ear as a familiar voice brushed warm air across her naked collar bones.

“Remember that you are in front of a royal assembly of two nations, Aislin," Bacchus whispered. "Princesses do not tend to the needs of others- nor do they get on the floor on their bare knees.” Her brows furrowed momentarily in confusion. Her knees? Why in Raena's light would she be on her knees? She noticed his hand wrapped around her arm then, and cursed her obliviousness. It seemed embarrassment rendered a person a limp mule. Another day, she might've broken Bacchus' nose. She observed then as Bacchus chattered that she was... Lower, somehow. Aislin stared at the Adam's apple bobbing in Bacchus' throat, her head cocking to the side. She was normally much taller during court events due to the small houses her ladies in waiting insisted on strapping to her feet but now her head barely brushed the top of his shoulder. She wiggled her toes. A small huff of a half-chuckle escaped her mouth as she turned a full circle, searching the floor around her for the foot-weapons. Seeing no telltale glimmer of gold, she lifted her skirts an inch, two inches, three inches - Gods, how long was this dress? - four inches, until finally at five it hovered high enough above the floor for her to see her bare feet and the missing nail on her left pinkie toe. Alas, no shimmering planks hovering atop needles could be seen.

The white corset beneath her garments protested as Aislin struggled to bend beneath the long table, digging its teeth into her ribs, but her shoes glinted underneath the deep ebony wood. Blind determination forced an arm beneath the table as she waved aside a servant that rushed to her aid, blindly fishing for her footwear with her head propped beside a fine bone platter. "Ahah!" she thrilled as her fingers hooked around the ribbons attached to her heels. Plates jostled as she unraveled half her body from beneath the table with a violent flailing of limbs. Aislin slapped a shoe over her left foot, her leg swinging out to clip the edge of the wooden surface. The silk ribbon of her right clog escaped her grasp as her arm swung violently backwards to tighten the ribbons around her left shoe, leaping in an arch through the air to collapse in a noble's bowl of pea soup. The momentum forced Aislin's body backwards, the heel's narrow sole sliding across the smooth finish of the dais, and the ground slipped from beneath her.

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Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane
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ophia lizabeth ashitar

▪ i. wisdom ▪ ii. oath of god ▪

❤ єℓ∂єѕт ∂αυgнтєя σf тнє нσυѕє σf кαѕнαтιя ❤
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Elizabeth's chest heaved up and down slowly now. She had finally felt her panic decrease as soon as she opened the doors to the greenhouse. It had taken her awhile to find the greenhouse though. Different mazes and different routes to take confused Elizabeth, and she sometimes ended up turning the wrong way only to find out that it leaded to another place she didn't want to go. These buildings were big, and the outdoors sometimes bigger. Even though Elizabeth had gotten use to the many different roads that led her down to different places, she sometimes forgot about them. With so many other things to worry and think about, memorizing different routes weren't one of them at the moment.

She had put a hand on her chest, feeling her heartbeat go back to normal. The rush and atmosphere of the dining hall overwhelmed Elizabeth and worse, made her feel like she was the centre of it. Even though she knew the other princes and princesses were also there, she somehow felt all the eyes were always on her. Watching her every move, watching if she accidently set her fork down on the wrong side of the plate or one of her blonde curls were out of place... only to make it the towns gossip the very next day. She knew gossip spread like wildfire in these areas and that it probably wouldn't go away for another two weeks after that. She thought about how silly she must of looked running out of the chaos like a scared little girl. No doubt that would make some nice gossip for the townspeople.

She sighed, still making her way around the greenhouse. It's been a mere twenty-one years and she was still so unprepared. Her toes still curled up and her hands still got sweaty every time her father mentioned that there would be a gathering. She still thought that she didn't look the part for a princess. Maybe too short. Maybe too much hair that seemed like it was always unorganized. Maybe she simply just didn't look the part, despite hearing others admire her beauty. She still didn't feel like she was good enough. She often wondered if the others felt like that. Being self-conscious. She was told to be proper and polite, which she tried her best to do at all times. She sometimes wished she could be a little bit more like her sister... even though it sounded odd. Her sister acted freely and, was a bit snobby, but still got what she wanted when she wanted it. Elizabeth couldn't act that way even if she tried her hardest.

She couldn't deny loving her family though. She had a well-mannered and admired father. She had gotten her mothers beauty... and her mother was always very kind to her. Her brother had grown up to be proud and strong... despite his cold appearance. Her sister was the pretty and innocent, but wasn't afraid to speak up if she had to. She somewhat felt blessed and very pleased. And, well, happy.

After what seemed like hours of searching, she finally found a small wooden bench that she could sit on. She gently grabbed her skirt and brought it up a bit to avoid getting it dirty. Despite this, she still dragged her sore feet over to the bench. She sat down, smoothing the ruffles of her dress out with her hands. She was surrounded by colourful flowers and plants that seemed to grow around her, trapping her in it's warm beauty and embrace. Pinks, greens, oranges and many other colours swirled in her vision. The smell of fresh plants filled her nose, making her sigh out in relief. Decorated pots hung low high above her head that were filled with healthy green plants. Everything seemed perfect.

She gave out an exhausted huff as she kicked off her shoes from beneath her and slouched back into the back of the bench. She could feel her corset tightening underneath the layer of dress, telling her that she shouldn't slouch and instead sit up. The corset didn't bother Elizabeth like it did for so many other women. She wasn't going to listen to a stupid piece of clothing anyway.

“Princess Sophia?"

She heard the concerned voice echo throughout the pagoda, but didn't bother to turn her tilted head to observe who it was. She didn't recognize the voice and her mind just thought it was another butler coming to tell her it was time to go back inside. She sighed. For a girl who had gained lots of patience throughout the years, she felt like she was ready to snap at any moment and tell him that she wasn't ready to go back yet. She turned her head to face the man just to tell him so, and to tell him it was Elizabeth, when she came eye-to-eye with someone she wasn't quite expecting.

“I hope you are not feeling unwell? And excuse my sudden intrusion- I was just a bit worried for you since you did not look too well while leaving the dining hall.” Prince Bacchus said with a look of concern across his features and worry in his voice. Elizabeth's eyes got wide and she immediately began to feel a blush spread across her cheeks. She stood up quickly, a little too quickly, and hit the top of her head on top of one of the hanging pots. She yelped, but quickly regained her posture while rubbing the top of her aching head. She let out a small chuckle.

"I am gratefully sorry, Prince Bacchus. It seems like my clumsiness has taken over." She said embarrassingly but with a small chuckle still coming from her lips. She quickly smoothed out her hair and brought her hands down to smooth down her dress. Oh gosh, she was already making a fool out of herself in front of her future husband. Future husband.

She looked up at him, finally truly getting a good look at him. He towered over her, almost seemingly a couple inches short of being a foot taller then herself. His shoulders were broad and seemed to perfectly match up with the handsome features of his face. His face was smooth and calm, despite the concerned look on his face. His eyes were bright and seemed to of gotten her lost in a never ending blue ocean while she continued to stare at him unknowingly. He had slightly longer hair for a male, but the blonde locks were tied back neatly. He defiantly was handsome. Very handsome...

She shook her head, getting herself out of her daze. She put her hands on her cheeks to try and cover up her blush. Cold hands were met with overly-warm cheeks as the warmness heated her hands up. She turned around quickly, trying to gather herself up again as she slipped her shoes back on her feet. She turned back towards him again, bringing her arms down by her sides. Why, she was all over the place. Turning that way then turning the other way. She felt like a dumb mess. She straightened her posture a bit more and bowed down slightly with a curtsy.

"It is an honor to finally meet you. Sorry for my lack of proper welcoming." She said with her voice finally steady while performing the short curtsy. She looked up at him and shook her head again, placing her head on her forehead. "Oh, I'm quite alright. I just needed a little fresh air. That's all. Thank you for your concern, though." She said politely with a slight smile on her face. How she wished she could of met him under much better circumstances. Being out in the cold garden wasn't the first place in mind that she had wanted to meet him. Maybe instead they could've been introduced later that night by her father or maybe they just could've been introduced in the dining hall in general. She cleared her throat, feeling a bit awkward. She didn't believe in love at first sight, even though many others did. She was one of those people that needed to get to know someone before truly falling in love with them. She didn't know why she felt this way though. Her head just wasn't quite with her.

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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane
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"One of the soldiers, Castus, was caught stealing food rations. They weren't able to find what he was doing with them, but I suspect he has been handing them out to a family in the nearby village. From what members of his company have told me, he is fond of one of the women there, and the war has not been kind to her home and family. I am not sure how long he has been stealing, but the punishment is clear. Ten lashes that I will give out in the morning and left on the post for the rest of the day.

Ten lashes and the risk of infection for a girl. I hope she was worth it... I have already spoken with the apothecary; Castus will have some tyrin weed to help with the pain and cut off the infection left on his bunk. Hopefully he doesn't do it again, or at least, is better at not getting caught." - Seventeen




Hazel eyes traced the reddening face with some measure of satisfaction. Her embarrassment was obvious and apparent, and in some ways, it was refreshing as most women of court did not blush so easily either used to such conversation, trained and schooled to hide their thoughts, or far more deviant then his comment. Zandyr almost desired to see if her face could ever match her hair in the sheer intensity of crimson, but any such desire was cut short by the appearance of the boy.

As if from the heavens, the golden haired boy who looked nothing like his siblings appeared to aid his over-stimulated dearly beloved. A dark eyebrow raised at the comment on her being on her knees which was certainly an idea, one almost worth entertaining, but had she truly gone limp and was she sinking down? He hadn't noticed and the fact that he hadn't surprised him. It seemed he had been utterly consumed with the transformation that was taking place with her complexion.

Zandyr lifted his gaze up to the boy once more trying to meet his eyes, but that little piece of jewelry in his ear once more caught his attention. For the life of him, he could not understand the purpose in it, was it some odd fashion in Ezea? He had long assumed the fascination with jewelry came from the combination of the childish love of shinny objects and the need to prove how much more wealth they had compared to others, was that the case here? Or was it as he assumed earlier and akin to how a young girl gets such a piercing in order to appear rakish and daring to her giggling cohorts? His mind being concentrated on the little stub of metal sticking from the side of his head, he only processed small parts of what he was saying, and simply gave a dismissive ways in place of words. He had no desire to reply to the disrespectful, pierced boy who was marrying a woman far superior than he. While he did hear the word 'apologize' he didn't put value on its sincerity.

The boy took his leave to chase after his sister, something he intended to cut in its bud as he had no desire to leave the disrespectful prince alone with his sister when movement caught his eye. His hazel eyes flicked back over to Aislin to see her... turn slowly in a circle, staring at her feet. Whatever actions he had planned were abandoned as he observed something... he had no idea as to what it was, but it was.. something. He held his tongue, his mind trying to decipher what was going on in her infernal crimson head as she lifted her dress, inch after inch, but he couldn't tell what for... he also noted that she still held the cloth in her grasp and still had not decided to give it to him.

What was strange became bizarre as she leaned down over the table, a slow process, to the point where her head was pressed against the surface and it seemed only by luck that her hair hadn't strayed into nearby dishes as she searched under it waving an arm randomly beneath it that would have been quite comical in another setting. Her antics were so great that she even had to wave away a servant. Zandyr wanted to ask her what madness possessed her, to see if they had given her a dimwitted bride, but the words would not come out. His tongue seemingly just as baffled as he was to her actions.

He was well aware that they had long since become the focus of attention, but he couldn't tear his eyes away from the puzzling creature in front of him, and he nearly jumped with surprise at her sudden shout of... accomplishment? Zandyr couldn't believe his quickly widening eyes as she came out with... shoes? She... was she not wearing shoes? How... why? His mind struggled with understanding the sheer mindless sequence of events and then it happened. She stumbled, her foot caught on the table, and one of the hard fought shoes was sent flying. His head turned up, his eyes following the shoe in its arch as it gracefully descended... into a noble's soup, splattering him and everyone nearby with its contents. If he had his wits about him, if he could process something so bizarre happening, he would have found it hilarious, but he couldn't... and in his shock, he didn't see her coming.

It seemed among what very, very few talents his bride-to-be had, balance was not one of them. She had stumbled back, and while he had been watching the shoe's flight, her body had been coming right at him. The unexpected force caught him by surprise, and with his surprise, he reached out and grabbed the only thing close to him... which just happened to be the crimson tide that had smashed into him in the first place. His long arms wrapped around her, his hands clasping behind her back as his head bent down to tuck beside hers as he stumbled backwards.

But, as always, fate conspired against him as a small crack in the floor, something usually unnoticed which had gone on unnoticed for centuries had its moment as it caught the back of his boot and took away the only thing keeping him, and his lovely beloved, upright. Tipping backwards, his arms full of fumbling Princess, Zandyr couldn't stop his fall. Crashing down onto the crystal floor, his eyes exploded in pain and stars as his head smacked against the floor. His arms tightening in pain and surprise around the warm body on top of him as his eyes blinked away tears of pain.

As he lay there, his mind still trying to process what happened, his arms wrapped around a warm body, and the back of his head rather sore from the impact, a fleeting thought passed through his mind, 'I am never going to obtain that piece of cloth...'

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane Character Portrait: Ildantxhe Anarane
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A I S L I N.
1545, First of January | Zero dark.

The clock chimed, alabaster bones aligning before an onyx face as it watched the flamboyantly dressed figures amble beneath its nose, its body spiralling upwards in a blister of wiry glass that punctured the black sky a short distance behind the Winter Palace's main structure. Its silhouette gleamed before the light of the pale, round disk hanging in a wash of oblivion, the impenetrable darkness scattered by a river of starlight. Twelve echoes of sound swam downhill to tap its restless fingers on the shoulders of a winded heir - hurry, hurry, it cooed, before spinning on its heel to penetrate the clear walls of the palace greenhouse. It brushed its fingers over the Prince and Princess standing in the midst of the lush greenery, only to skate beneath the double doors to trail its wispy breath over the shocked inhabitants of the great hall and dagger the tangled source of surprise - a Zandyr Kashatir and Aislin Anarane stew of indignity and dishonour.

To say the Only Daughter of King Mirus, Nigh Crown Princess of Xiral, Clumsiest of Nobles and the Bane of her Court, was mortified, would be to say the sun was a little bright. Aislin's heart leapt from its socket, tearing a ventricle or two before slamming face-first into the rigid limbs of her rib cage, stuttering and hammering faster than her own mare could gallop. Her jaw unhinged as she stared into a set of dilated pupils framed in pure hazel, her eyes inches from his where before her lips had been inches from the apple bobbing in his throat, her head tucked in the crook of his smooth neck. Never had she been so grateful for the impracticality of her billowing skirts as then. But whilst the cloth muffled her awareness of his long legs on either side of her, it did nothing to veil the sinewy arms holding her tight against his body. Aislin was so close she could count the dark lashes framing the Crown Prince of Xiral's eyes and the perfect arch of a cupid's bow on his upper lip, his full, soft, luscious...

Aislin scrambled upright, using the Prince's body as a propellor and kneeing him between the legs in her haste. She skittered backwards until she could go no further, brazenly gaping at the sprawled body she'd recently departed from and half expecting smoke to rise from her warmed skin. She clutched the servant's cloth to her beating chest to still the tremor in her hands.

"How dare you?" a shrill voice boomed. Aislin was jerked from her stupefaction by Queen Vigdis' wailing voice and made horrifically aware of the cacophony of outrage that had descended upon the room. She could do nothing but stare at the flurry of blonde hair so pale, it was almost white, as the Queen hissed with thinly veiled fury before her. All of Aislin's snarky repartee had fled from her, melting so far into the floor where she'd landed atop the Butcher that she feared she might never again retrieve it. Chairs squealed against polished marble as more stood to either tackle the Princess of Ezea to and into her grave or garner a better view of the court drama.

"Vigdis," King Aegnor warned. "Do not be haste." He caught Aislin's gaze over the Ice Queen's shoulder, the teasing glimmer in his eyes clenching her heart in both irritation and abasement. Each word he spoke dripped with slow venom but was masked with a mastered pleasantry. "Princess Aislin is our honoured guest and our future daughter, is she not?"

"Aislin," King Mirus said slowly when she did nothing but crumple the cloth in her clenched fists. Her skin burned red for reasons unrelated to humiliation. She was livid.

Swallowing the lava in her throat, she squeezed out the words that seemed to trickle from another's mouth. "Yes, your majesty." When the King of Xiral did nothing but stare blankly at her, she ground her teeth and sank into a curtsy before the entire court. "I am grateful for your generosity and am deeply apologetic for my ineptitude."

"Rise, child. It is no matter," King Aegnor announced with a short - fake - laugh. "My boy," he continued after a pause, lowering his voice so only the few closest could hear as he spared a quick glance for his son. "Should know better than to tarnish my name with his antics." It was a jab to both her and Zandyr, but she kept her lips pressed tight lest she rediscover her snarky repartee. "But where, pray tell, is your boy?" he asked King Mirus through a tight smile. Aislin shrugged imperceptibly as her father glared at her through his periphery. He was certainly... Not in the best of moods. He rarely called her Aislin, even in court, it was always "daughter" or "séphling." Worry for her brother wound its way through the haze of anger and indignation as Aislin's gaze conducted a futile search of the great hall for Ildant's familiar gait. It was extremely unusual for him to be late for anything, much less an event as important as this. Her heart faltered as panic wiggled into her chest. It reminded her uncomfortably of the days and nights spent waiting and waiting for news of Riven from the battlefields.

"Ildantxhe had some urgent business to attend to," King Mirus explained patiently. "He is responsible for much of Ezea's affairs now that Riven is unable."

"Pity, that," King Aegnor replied.

"Perhaps we should officially introduce our children to one another," Mirus suggested after a tense silence. "Ildantxhe will arrive soon enough."

"Yes, what a brilliant idea," the other king said, turning to see the royal court stretched out before him. "Now where are the two more tolerable of my offspring?" he asked with just enough mirth to incite a shiver of laughter from some nobles.

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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali
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"It is my name day today! Nothing ever really happens on it, but I got a present this year! Tullin, one of the cooks, gave me a small apple cake!" - Twelve



'I am never going to obtain that piece of cloth...' that lone thought floated around in his mind, wandering aimlessly in the fog of his vacant mind caressing the barriers. The dull, throbbing pain in the back of his mind pulsed sending waves of pain throughout his fog clouded mind each new wave of stabbing pain pushing the fog further and further back; the fog receding at the assault. Through pain, his mind was clearing to a large amount of deep ruby red.

Zandyr's long lashes descended as he tried, once more, to blink away the dulling pain and get a grasp of his surroundings. It seemed that color was going to be the death of him. Crimson was going to spell his doom, and he could only hazard that, someday, he would be buried in that color. Those startlingly ruby eyes traced his face, and he could almost feel the heat from the sheer intensity they held. His own far more mundane hazel eyes traced her face even as he felt her gaze running over his. Her puzzled unblemished, heart-shaped face was inches away, her full, red lips inches away from his own. Her luscious crimson hair spilling around his head, a curtain cutting them off from the outside world and secluding him into their own private world. He could feel her shallow, warm breaths caressing his face, tickling the small hairs that had sprung up along his jaw since the morning, but it was those eyes. Those shockingly ruby adorned eyes that caught his attention once again. Even now, pinned under her, her small body wrapped in his arms, her small breast pushing against his chest and her hips sitting too comfortable between his own, fitting so well that not even the garish dress could hide it did not take away from the unnatural allure and forbidden promises that lay within those eyes of hers.

Whatever issue he had with her or this mockery of a gathering could not take away from his begrudging admittance that her eye's were startling beautiful. His pain-dulled mind seemed to have abandoned him as he couldn't think of a single witty thing to say, in fact, his mind had stopped entirely. Zandyr was not aware his hand was moving until his elbow moved over that insidious crack in the crystal floor, but it seemed his treacherous hand wanted to brush back that deeply crimson hair that acted as a curtain to their secret world, their hidden moment, but as what seemed to be a running theme, she was quicker then him.

Her small hands used his chest as a spring board pushing out what air he had managed to breath in and a sharp, intense pain exploded between the fork in his legs as her knee found its way there by 'accident'. The air left his lungs in a stifled grunt as Zandyr fought to control the pain, to overcome the desire to hold his wounded pride and wither upon the ground for such a thing was unsuitable for a crown prince. If he wasn't fighting the urge to display his pain in a childish display of rolling and swearing, he would have been minorly impressed in her ability to stand up so fast despite being weighed down by the garish dress.

The high pitched scream of indignation and oh, so familiar voice snapped him out of his pain, allowing his mind to push it all away with practiced ease. A chill rand down his spine at the voice of Lady Vigdis, how dare you. That line was one Zandyr had heard repeated to him more then a few times. His shoulders sagged even as he pushed himself to his feet, standing straight, head lowered, despite the pain in the back of his mind, the much sharper pain in the fork of his legs, and his pants clinging to his legs from the drying wine. The force of repetition forced his head lower, his hazel eyes falling to the floor as he waited for the Lady to tear into him once more for his mistakes. His mind never made the connection that it could have been Aislin that was the target.

At his father's fake laugh, Zandyr lifted his head to meet his father's eyes, noting out of the corner of his eye that the other nobles had stood up, no doubt hoping to get a better view of the spectacle unfolding before them. He could only imagine how excited the servants were as their expectations for juicy gossip was met, and perhaps, exceeded.

His fathers tone, the way he said boy... once more... caused an involuntary flinch as if he had been struck. It wasn't the word that caused it, Zandyr was always boy. His father had never once deigned to call him by any other name, but it was the way he said it. He pictured the other nobles hearing the scorn, but Zandyr could almost hear a note of triumph in his father's voice as if he was secretly relishing this slip-up by his crown prince. It... surely it was not the case. He was imagining it. Surely.

Zandyr did not reply, nor answered, he merely lowered his head slightly as he wasn't meant to speak. His father had never intended for him to reply, merely take the beratement with silence and to salvage what dignity he had remaining. Through concentrated and practiced effort he managed to hide the second insult his father threw in. His two tolerable children. He, was not even tolerable? After everything, he was not even tolerable? No, it was a jest. Yes, a barbed jest at his expense but a jest. He was being childish to as assume the worst in a comment.

Ignoring the way his pants were clinging to his skin, Zandyr moved forward and slid back into this chair, not sparing his dearly beloved a second glance as he sought to salvage what was left of his reputation and pride.

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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali Character Portrait: Ildantxhe Anarane
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A I S L I N.
1545, First of January | Zero dark.

A stream of violet parted the monochrome earth of the large room to settle before the 'King on the Glass Throne.' Aegnor spared the noble's gifts a cursory glance before dismissing the wiry figure and Aislin acknowledged then that the Xirali men possessed greater beauty than most of their women, whose jewels gleamed so viciously they obscured the wearer. Her glare found the shadow the Butcher had retreated into and her lips found each other as they settled into a firm line of disapproval. The Prince gave his father no protest, choosing instead to tuck his tail between his legs and settle in some forgotten corner like a well-trained dog. "A true prince," others would say, but she called him a coward.

Aislin had ignored the cry of the trumpet as it sounded again, the words that followed coalescing into a gurgling mess atop the drunken roars, and thus had failed to hear her brother's arrival. She scrambled upright where she'd been sitting when a disheveled Ildantxhe appeared before the kings, chair toppling onto the polished floor. Her eyes widened as they darted from the weary strands of hair that escaped its restraints in narrow coils to the blood splattered across his tunic.

"Papi!" she gasped, her nails sinking into her palms as the words spilled from her lips in a whispered staccato, all pre-tense of formality slipping from them. "Can't you see he's hurt?" The King ignored her as he continued to address his son, the warm chestnut brown of his eyes withering into the dark hues of burnt wood.

Her body lurched forward and fell over the raised dais with a profound thunk that sent ripples of horror through the watching masses. She nearly knocked the Crown Prince of Ezea off his feet as she crashed into him, gripping his biceps and shoving him backwards into a small blonde clad in pristine white. The youngest child of Anarane hardly registered her Kashatir counterpart as she manoeuvred her brother behind the giggling nymph etched into an alabaster pillar and through the nearest archway, pressing him firm against the cool stone. Her sinewy arms found his waist as she moulded herself to his body. "You made it," she mumbled against his chest. The sharp tang of blood scraped her nostrils and she drew back, staring at the blood that blossomed at in patches across his chest and stomach. Her relief melted quickly into a frantic worry that bubbled into fury at his utter stupidity.

Aislin frisked him from head to toe, hurtling criticisms and expletives no woman of any rank should should know. Any wounds he might've had were systematically prodded and any aching joints jostled. What bruises he lacked were made as she bared the collar of his shirt to stare at a smudge of metallic paint, slapping the hard muscle that joined his neck to shoulder when she saw it was not his.

"What in Raena's name were you doing, camel hind?" she growled. "Cleaving an army of wild boars? You look like a buttered mongrel laid victim to emaciated beasts in a Jelian bathhouse on a new moon! Where were you? Do you know the time it is? Are you in any pain? How many were there? What happened to you? Why didn't you defend yourself? How did you get here? Where is the carriage? What happened to your guards? Father was livid- I thought- Boots- He even- Prince- Find- Walking- You- Eggs- Eel dance!" The thoughts came faster than her lips could move as she subjected Ildantxhe to her unintelligible lectures, chest heaving as she gasped for air between the running sentences.

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A I S L I N.
1545, First of January | Starlit.

She planned his death, each elaborate step stacked like bricks with a keen and infallible precision until a castle emerged where Aislin fumed. Her anger paved the world's edges until she saw it all with a resplendent clarity. It chipped its way through the haze of hurt that ached to devour her dignity and leave her a blubbering lump in the nearest corner. Instead her imagination churned picturesque spectacles of the many ways he would suffer at her hand, the same hand he'd beaten, bruised and bloodied under the pre-tense of education. He reminded her frequently of her insolence and of his magnanimity in taking her as his pupil. The thought made her snort and the many nobles surrounding her gasp. Ildantxhe was a camel's ass and a hypocrite.

Already her mind was stringing together Ildantxhe's schedule, one that would dictate her own in the weeks to come. She would ensure that until the next new moon, in the time he had left as a free man, her brother's existence would be abounding with misery and woe. Aislin would begin by shaving his head in bed. Her gaze flicked to her nigh inamorato, glee erupting conspicuously from her scowl. She would shave both their heads, and make a skirt of their severed locks.

The familiar gleam of an unusual shade of brown paved its way to the raised dais in Aislin's periphery, sinking the corners of her lips until they reached for earth. She bared her teeth at his back, a narrow stream of air hissing past her teeth. A herd of ladies clad in brandish shades and gaudy jewels that had been meandering nearby skittered away. Aislin hailed the virtuous warriors that had attacked her brother and promised to cosset Ildantxhe's garments next he visited the bathhouses, which, judging by the state of his clothes, would come sooner than his bald head. The prolonged nudity she'd inflict upon him would serve to humiliate him and allow her a glimpse of his hideously disfigured body. Did the assailants take a nipple?

The gold embellishments stitched into the bottom of her outermost skirt swished with every step she took to the dais. Aislin was so immersed in her plans for revenge that she failed to notice the hush that rippled through the great hall like the aftermath of a great tide. She halted mid stride a table away from the platform as King Aegnor's astringent tone trickled into her consciousness. "...fate with our families. After all, marriage is to instigate another generation. Do you even have such a capacity with one that shares your own ritual?"

“Isn’t that what concubines are for, King Aegnor?” Ildant replied. Aislin furrowed her brows as she deciphered the conversation from what she'd garnered, but what she thought Ildant meant could not possibly be what he meant. She'd known her brother to be repulsive to the opposite sex - notwithstanding his lack of shortage in admirers, they were merely ill-informed and masochistic - but she'd never imagined his confinement to be an effect of hiding his sexuality. It was then that she comprehended the horror of what her own flesh and blood had spouted so casually. The thought of him fornicating with a real person, much less producing offspring... She balked at the thought.

“Enough, Ildantxhe!” The caustic timbre of their father's rage nearly jerked Aislin from her remaining shoe. She crept forward cautiously.

“Am I wrong?” Though Ildant's voice was dispassionate, his words callous, she saw the tense line of his shoulder, the muscles flexing at his sleeve. It was what he did in preparation for an impending battle. She wanted to lurch forward and slam a palm over his mouth. Bacchus and Aislin were the reckless ones, Ildant's role was to be the deadpan pillar that held their haphazard hut upright.

“You are in Xairal.” The King of Ezea's voice stopped Aislin at the edge of the dais, where she'd stepped onto. It was the voice he reserved for criminals - rebels and thieves - not his children. A threat was embedded in each syllable and any words Aislin might've spelled in her head withered in surprise, and then the King's eyes were turned to her.

It was no secret Aislin was King Mirus' favourite. He'd doted on her every whim from the day they'd rediscovered her, a street rat caught stealing by her own brother. More often than not, Bacchus received punishment - bed without supper, mucking the stables - while she suffered through little more than a stern gaze, even though the crimes they'd committed were done in alliance. But now her father stared at her with hazel eyes that had darkened into coal.

"We ride for neutral ground tomorrow," he intoned. For a buoyant moment, the syllables were mundane, just sounds that spilled between them and loomed over the room. She comprehended the phrase neutral ground the way people fell off cliffs - first came the slow march towards the edge and then the rapid plummet that shoved one's lungs from their chests to their throats. Neutral ground was found where the rivers that raced through the two kingdoms met, and the space she was to wed the Butcher.

"I concur," King Aegnor replied, but not to the sentence bearing the two words that continued to jostle about in Aislin's head. Her thoughts had seized with her father's proclamation and she failed to hear whatever else he said. She failed to care. Tomorrow, her consciousness echoed, as if she hadn't heard the first time. Tomorrow. She almost failed to hear the kings asserting that she and Zandyr would be the first to wed, a precursor to solidifying the alliance. Ildantxhe and Bacchus would have time. She'd always known her freedom would be the first her father sold, but that was when she had weeks, weeks to prepare herself to become the Crown Prince of Xairals' glorified mistress.

"You said we had a moon's cycle," Aislin said. Her voice sounded high, the notes quiet and meek when she was anything but.

"Yes," King Mirus said, his eyes a challenge carved of Xairali ice. Unfamiliar. "I did."

"You promised I would go home." Before I become Xairal's whore, she didn't say. She'd been expecting to return to Ezea as an Ezean and hadn't said goodbye. She didn't even bring Mila, her dappled mare. Would someone bring her here? Would Mila survive the harsh winters and scorching summers of Xairal after lazing in Ezea's evergreen pastures her whole life? Would she see her brothers' wedding, be there when they submitted themselves to a similar fate? Or would she be trapped in this building stained indelibly with the lives of its constructors, with its see-through walls that deprived one of privacy and furniture that stabbed her every muscle? Her heart was shoving at its cage, desperate to flee its host as shackles gripped her breath.

Aislin did not care to hear her father's reply and she had no adequate retort on her tongue. Riven would have known what to say. He would've reasoned with their father. He would've defended her. He would've, he should've- He should be alive. Her ligaments solidified, joints contracting until Aislin stood paralysed. She might as well have been a limp doll, complete with matching gloves. Spine sold separately.

Crescent moons embedded themselves in her palms behind her closed fists as the torrent splintered the dam inside her. The despair morphed into rage - at the injustice, at the "Benevolent King," at Ildant, at Riven for letting himself be killed - and she opened her mouth to spew venom.

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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Ildantxhe Anarane
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"Watching court is always an interesting affair. It is a constant dance of false platitudes and bruised ego where the manner in which something is said is just as, if not more, important than what is said." - Sixteen



Zandyr turned his head, his eyes roving over to the ornate doors as the eldest Anarane child arrived to their very amicable event. It was a foregone conclusion by now that the third child would, again, look nothing like their siblings. A less polite man would point out their very apparent and stark differences that would leave questions of family lineage in severe doubt, of course, it would spawn less polite names about both parents some of scorn, others of barely contained mockery. Either way, it was a welcomed distraction as his father's reprimand still stung in the back of his mind, a soft whisper of failure.

He was slightly more interested to see how this one acted compared to his appearance as, so far, it seemed all of the heirs of Ezea had a flair for the dramatics along with a severe inflated sense of self-worth... or in one's case, a severe lack of balance. One could only ponder at the amount of gossip the chambermaids in Ezea had at their disposal if their actions alluded to a reoccurring theme, and just like his appearance, the Crown Prince was not one to disappoint.

Standing straight, chin raised and pointedly refusing to bow to both his king and father, but also, to another king within his own hall. Refusing to even use their titles and instead refer to them by name as if throwing salt upon open wounds was the best way to undergo it. It seemed their father, or perhaps nannies, could never quite teach them how to behave, well, he grudgingly conceded, the fired haired tempest of unwieldy destruction and ruin had acted... acceptable at her introduction, but as her only competition was her brothers that was nothing approaching an achievement especially considering her following up actions.

The news of the attempt on his life, did cause Zandyr to stir within his seat, his eyes tracing the man once more to see the red stains across his attire. He was not sure why the prince decided to continue to wear it as, from Zandyr's own experience, such an amount of blood on cloth was much like mud. The blood dried and caked, drawing the cloth together and causing an unpleasant rubbing that would tug the attention away and towards that unique sensation. Was it his way of sending a message? Did he simply not have a spare? Did it matter? No, not truly, but what did matter was that an assassin had made an attempt on the Crown Prince in their palace.

Zandyr leaned back in his seat, mulling over the situation as he pointedly ignored the working and conversations around him. A large part of him would have preferred for the tardy prince to have met his end at the blade of an assassin, even if such a thing would have shattered the... negotiations, but the crucial point was that an assassin managed to infiltrate the Winter Palace and make an attempt on the prince's life that went undiscovered by the guard. Reaching up to his dark hair, he twirled a few strands around his left fingers, he was not entirely sure why they had made it on the prince's life when there was softer targets to be had, but he couldn't claim to know much of the second son, and now Crown Prince, as the man never caught his attention enough to warrant a closer look.

It could have been his father, but he doubted it. If he truly wanted to do something audacious, he would have made an attempt on the entire royal family as they were in the heart of his palace, whatever their motives, he had to ensure the protection of his family and guest.

Raising his right hand, he gestured with two fingers and called over his personal valet, Martos, and as if from the shadows, the wizened servant materialized at the side of his chair, leaning down to give them a shred of privacy, or what there was to be had in the world of politics and royal banquets, "My lord?"

"Inform Commander Tulian about the attempt on Ildant," Zandyr paused trying to remember the pronunciation that was used earlier before failing to recall it, "The Crown Prince's life. He is to find the body and bring me what personal effects on it to my study, double the guards on the royal bedchambers and switch the patrol routes and shift changes for the rest of the night and find out how the assassin got in."

"Anything else, my Lord?"

Zandyr closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the cool surface of the wooden chair, mulling it over as he was sure the assassin crept in as either a servant under their service or came with one of the visiting nobles as part of their retinue, but he needed someone to blame if something else were to happen. Snapping his eyes open, he stopped twirling his hair as he added in a last command as almost an afterthought, "Remove the body before the stench spreads."

Martos gave a final bow before departing to carry out his orders, his body jerking slightly in his rush as his maimed leg struggled to support his weight. The stubborn old servant refused to use a cane for the 'tap upon the crystal' was far too 'insolent' for a humble valet, or so he claimed.

It wasn't a single phrase or sound that brought Zandyr's attention back towards the floor, but the sudden lack of noise as the hall seemed to fall silent, and the source quickly became obvious and much to his surprise, it wasn't because the young princess of Ezea had tumbled and destroyed another man's dignity. No, it seemed the blood covered crown prince was speaking, Zandyr wasn't quite sure as to the purpose yet as his attention had been elsewhere, but by the looks people kept giving him, he assumed it had something to do with him.

“Isn’t that what concubines are for, King Aegnor?” Zandyr's brow lowered as his mind turned that phrase over in his mind, did this prince intend to take concubines for some reason? Was he making a jest that his youngest sister was barren or unworthy of physical affection? No, many people were looking from the kings, to the blood stained prince, to himself... did he? No, the fellow crown prince did not just suggest that the two of them get betrothed? Did he?

It seemed he was. 'Take his soul?' How incredibly dramatic, but Zandyr knew it would not work before it began. The Crown Prince had started too aggressively, he was not 'requesting' but demanding it, his stance and tone made that clear. It was a direct challenge to his father's pride as to agree to such 'demanded' terms would, in some small way, be 'bowing' to the whims of a mere prince. If King Mirus allowed it, he would have been undermined by his own son, not only in front of many of his own nobility, but also the nobility of Xairai. The mere act that the Crown Prince had preformed was a challenge to King Mirus's authority and undermined him, accepting such a demand would be a deathblow for his reputation and authority.

At least, Zandyr was assuring himself it would not work. He could not believe it, but he had even less desire to marry another man than he did to marry courtly princess. Under less extreme circumstances, he would have offered to happily replace both of them with a family pet, perhaps a feline of some kind? As such a move could surely only be a step up from either of his choices and the added bonus that the cat wouldn't speak and the lesser chance of it biting him was also an advantage.

"We ride for neutral ground tomorrow," Zandyr's eyes widened as his mind struggled to process what had just been said. They would ride tomorrow for neutral ground. A small part of his mind applauded the King of Ezea as not only had he put his son down, he had reestablished his authority, but the larger part of his mind desired nothing more than to strangle the man. He had resigned himself to marriage to her. Resigned himself to the knowledge that he would be wedding the sister of a man he murdered in cold blood. Resigned himself, but... the sands of time were falling, he was supposed to have time. Time to idly lament his fate, time to sit and wait the time out as the dreaded darkness inched forward but.. perhaps..

"I concur," there it went. The sound of his father's pleased tone and the vanquishing of the last light of hope he had to enjoy the precious moments he had to himself. That prince. That blood stained, overly-theatrical, fool of a prince had, in a moment of stupidity, ripped the illusion of freedom he had clung onto out of his grasp. It would have almost been hilarious if it hadn't been rage inspiring. A loud bang and few clashes of metal tipping drew his eyes down as his fist throbbed in pain. In a momentary lapse of control, he had smashed the table with his fist, bruising it and knocking over various goblets and glasses from the force.

His heard, but did not comprehend, his betrothed talking to her father checking to see if she had heard true, but Zandyr stared at his throbbing half-clenched fist trying to regain control over his treacherous emotions. The rage that wanted to break through his weakening walls and burst out of his chest.

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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane Character Portrait: Ildantxhe Anarane
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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Elizabeth Kashatir Character Portrait: Rosalina Seraphine Xairali Character Portrait: Bacchus L. Anarane Character Portrait: Ildantxhe Anarane Character Portrait: Lucius Dranosk
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"Dig the dirt, til the fields, leave the dead behind."




The crux of the whole event was something that Lucius could not really stand, a bleating arrangement of voices and instrumental clamoring that could assault the senses if one could not sort one from the other. He so hated doing all this, just to keep up appearances and to make sure he was still in with the powers that be in the land. Though he was a lord in this place and it had been some years since he arose to this power. It was still treacherous and unforgiving day in and day out.

Ildanthe's arrival was the last of the evening for all that he could tell and it appeared from the measure that he arrived, he was having more or less a fun time of the event. A thought that caused a cursory smile to smooth across Lucius's features for a breif moment, before retuning to his wine. He spent most of his time at the celebration alone and near the small orchestra playing for all to hear, it was this place that seemed to fit his mood more. While he could enjoy the musical arrangement, their placement barley a stones throw away from the royals allowed for him to occupy his time with watching them. Only for a pretty young maid to catch his attention, stealing it away from time to time. As was usual with him in such occasions, knowing that such a distraction was always more interesting then the bureaucratically beating of chest.

Not more then a few minutes of being here did he already tire of the usual business that comes with this place. He had already forged one new relationship and destroyed two others in the process, but all was the same as before. In the end he would have to make good on several deals and bargain with another house to ensure that alliances would be kept. As the line of wine in his glass kept getting closer to the bottom, he would cast a glance back an forth across the great hall to ensure his notice of the other lords is taken.

It was then that he caught sight of Allister coming his way, most likely through the advent of a side door. The look on her face of calm surrender and the glaze she casually wiped from the edge of her mouth was a sign that she took a detour through the kitchen at some point. Allister was not the most typical of woman in Lucius's employ, being his right hand at most times gave her a powerful stance with the other houses within the kingdom. Though it was unsure of where she came from and how she became his steward, she was most obviously more then that to the people in the know.

She stood more then six feet tall herself and chose to dress more like a male counterpart then anything else. Her features were strong and narrow, with high cheek bones and very white skin. Someone accustomed to the fields she was not, but it was suspected that she came from the far north and her bright orange hair was another testament to this. However were it not for her facial features and her long singular braided hair. Many would mistake her for a rather effeminate man in the first place.

He looked on as she approached and spoke, placing herself to his ear "Everything is set and the men have been sent home my lord, would you like that I wait in the castle." Lucius took the last sip from his glass and gave her a rejecting gesture. "No, tonight is a celebration after all. Just go on about your own business and I will send for you if need be." Allister did not return with words, but simply nodded her head quickly. Causing the braid of her hair to swing wide, revealing a large silver ring that was looped with the end of the braid itself. She backed away before turning and disappeared in the same direction from whence she came.

Lucius was ready to break the ice with the royalty now and gave the empty glass to a passing waiter, primping himself, one final time. One could not chance of tainting a first impression and though he despised the idea of schmoozing it was a necessity and baiting gods with golden smiles and silver tongues, had somewhat become a favorable pass time for him. Though as he approached the young prince began to leave. Unfortunate was the thought that struck in Lucius's mind, of all the royals he believed him to be the most grounded by proxy alone. The amount of hearsay and testimony from other lords saying so, though such words can be just as easily made into conjecture.

He stepped his way up the ascension towards the King on his throne and gave a slight bow. "Your majesty, I would like to not only offer my praises for what is transpiring between the two kingdoms, but I have also come with an offer." The King weary of Lucius not only from prospect, but from knowledge of his reputation arches an eyebrow. Still the lead of curiosity's proverbial carrot was enough to entice him to edge the lord on with a nod and bade him continue. "My King having recently rebuilt my family home, it is not lost on me that it was rebuilt far larger then I could required all by myself."

"I simply suggest that if the royal family could have use for my hospitality, I would be oh so eager to give it."
He motions to the visiting royals as well and makes mention towards them "That hospitality is also extended to our friends from across the river as well. In all hopes of ensuring mutual bonds of friendship and cooperation." He gives a small bow to them as well when he speaks, looking back up to meet their individual gazes as he rises.

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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir Character Portrait: Ildantxhe Anarane Character Portrait: Lucius Dranosk
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A I S L I N.
1545, First of January | Starlit.

The discarded remnants of her remaining footwear watched the princess flee from the great hall after her prince in a flurry of crimson and gold. She nearly toppled the merchant who humbled himself before the king, his indigo hair trailing its length across her cheek to mingle with the vermillion red of her own. She barely felt the sting of its touch as it raked its nails across her cornea, nor did she spare the merchant a glance as she flew down the velvet aisle. Her father's low rumble shrivelled against the symphony roaring in her thoughts and the servants scarcely had the time to unveil the lumbering doors before Aislin was tearing through the gap, disappearing before the monarchs could withdraw their word. Not that their word meant anything much at all.

"Stables," she breathed as she stumbled to a halt, a palm held to thwart the quiet footsteps of the young girl who jerked her head towards Aislin's voice, staring unabashedly for a long moment before quickly ducking her head again. Had Aislin possessed the inclination to observe her surroundings, she would have recognised the servant as the one who'd spilled wine on her affianced, instead she stared distractedly down the spiralling hallway, noting amidst the chaos of her thoughts that the Winter Palace lacked straight corners. Instead its paths spun in spirals and curves that dizzied her and held no resemblance to home. She felt her throat contract. "Where are the stables?" Aislin clarified.

"Ah, um, t-that way, your royal highness," came the croaked reply. The girl pointed over Aislin's shoulder, her hands moving quickly as she explained. "You walk through the second arch and take a turn to the-"

"Show me," Aislin said.

The servant nodded frantically before walking timidly past Aislin. "Faster," the princess said, and soon they with lurching into a full sprint. The girl was surprisingly fast for her small stature, but Aislin had no trouble keeping pace. Their path grew darker the further they went from the lights surrounding the great hall until they burst through a wooden door made to look as if it were made of vines strung together and folded into a sturdy gate. It was the most simplistic and practical thing Aislin had seen since her arrival at the royal palace.

A sudden gust of frigid air tore through Aislin as they escaped the confines of the onyx walls. Goosebumps appeared on her exposed skin as she pulled back in surprise. Her breath left a trail of smoke before her. For a moment fascination sliced through the fog as she inhaled, exhaled, watching the condensation emerging from her lungs, as if she were moulding the empty space, leaving her mark in the negative space. She imagined the smoke as an imprint, a fleeting reminder of her existence before oblivion devoured it again, only for it to be conquered by her next breath.

"My lady?" Aislin nearly leapt from her skin as the voice shattered her reverie. "We are here." Aislin hadn't realised her feet were moving whilst she'd been wandering, staring at clouds rolling past her tongue. She stepped through the door her guide held open for her, hearing the girl shuffle behind her. Suddenly a flood of light roused the horses from their slumber as a gas lamp was lit. Aislin stared at the thing of glass and metal for a long moment. She'd seen it pressed against the walls of the Winter Palace but still it surprised her. There was no flickering flame, no hint of wax, only the hypnotic glow of light. She pulled her gaze away as she walked past the stalls, the rustic scent of straw and wood chips mingling with damp sweat a familiar companion and a stinging reminder. She remembered how Riven never failed to smell at least a bit like hay no matter how often he bathed. She'd once teased that he probably slept in stables, to which he'd smiled, his eyes sparking with a familiar amusement and lips quirking in a silent admission.

The horses huffed and neighed in greeting as she passed, glancing into every stall to observe their posture, the sturdiness of their limbs, the coils of muscles, the gleam of their coat, until her feet slowed to a stop. The mare gave ignored her for a moment, before lifting its head to spare Aislin an appraising glance. Dark eyes watched Aislin watch her and Aislin returned the creature's challenge. There was a strong companion. The gate whispered quietly open like one used regularly and then Aislin was stepping carefully into the stall. Slowly, she reached out a hand, capturing the side of the mare's neck - a safe distance from its teeth.

"Will you help me?" Aislin whispered. The mare snorted in reply, nudging Aislin's cheek. Her dark mane brushed against the line of Aislin's collarbones as the mare ducked its head, letting Aislin stroke the smooth grey expanse of its body. "Thank you," Aislin whispered against the its body, and then she was moving, pulling down the saddle and bridle where it hung.

"Wait!" the servant gasped. Aislin forgot she was there. "Wait, no. You mustn't, princess." Her mouth snapped closed, realising what she'd said. "I mean, there are other horses available." She hastened to explain herself. "That is t-the... She is P-pr-prince Zandyr's steed,"

A wicked smile flicked across Aislin's features and then she said, "Even better."





She sliced through the Umbra Forest, an apt name considering the mare she was braced against, whose hair was the hue of shadows and an expectant sky. Aislin took the path less traveled, a straight path and the shortest one to Ezea. It was a hazardous journey, but no more dangerous than the adventures she'd embarked upon with her eldest brother when he'd been alive.

"Come on, Sparkle," she whispered. She'd taken to calling her companion Sparkle, for the faint dapple of pale colour on the mare's pasterns, scarcely noticeable and only in certain lights. Aislin's hair was tossed by the wind and another one of the razor needles her handmaidens had embedded in her head shook free. Coils of rustic hair fell around her face as she pushed Sparkle forward. The horse was quick, if not particularly sturdy, she seemed to be enjoying leaping over logs and jostling her rider as much as possible. Aislin was accustomed to the steed's tricks, she'd ridden enough horses to know Sparkle was challenging her, seeing how well she'd ride and if she was worthy. Aislin tightened the grip of her thighs on Sparkle's sides, a grin splitting her face despite the frigid wind and the concerns of the night thus far. By the end of the ride, Sparkle would scarcely recognise her first master's scent.

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"One of the poor souls sent in the first assault and had boiling pitch poured on him but unlike the others he survived. I saw him once, laying there underneath that white, blood stained blanket writhing and screaming in pain. Most of his body is still covered in the pitch, stuck to the molted and rotten skin underneath. What is left of his face is nearly unrecognizable save for the small bump that was once his nose and only a few strands of his auburn hair remain in the black mass that has taken dominance. He isn't going to survive long.

The surgeons assure me they can give him something to alleviate his pain and that the screams should decrease in frequency and volume soon. Part of me wants to put him out of his misery, but he isn't one of my men. It isn't my call.

-----

He keeps screaming. It has been three days, the supply cart that had our remedies, and his balms, was hit by an Ezean raiding party. I had thought I would have gotten used to it over the days, the screaming, but I don't. I never do. Each time, it chills my soul, the heart-wrenching scream of agony. Some of the men swear they can hear him begging to die. pleading with someone to stop it but that isn't possible, the man can no longer speak only gasp for air between his screams.... But sometimes, I can almost hear it too.

-----

The screams have stopped. Someone from his brigade slipped into the tent and stopped it. Stopped him. I believe their commander is looking for the culprit for disregarding standing orders but, at least, he isn't screaming anymore.

His name was Sollius. Married, three kids, I ordered the body buried nearby. I won't send it back. They don't need to see him, not like that. Sometimes, I think I can still hear him screaming for it to stop... Once again, I think sleep will elude me." - Nineteen




If Zandyr had learned one thing from this atrocious evening it was that the royal family of Ezea lacked the ability to close their mouths and keep it shut. It seemed the gift of silence and the wisdom to utilize it did not exist within the lineage. Through the sheer annoyance at the fellow Crown Prince, who could not help but bask in the theatrics he was creating, almost like a two-bit tavern bard desperately trying to catch the eye of the aging matron, that had cost him weeks of freedom. He could not help but marvel at how profoundly... weak they appeared. They were a royal family that, for all appearance sake, was tittering on the edge of the abyss. A crass princess, the overly theatrical Crown Prince that sought to undermine his own father and nation at every turn and the audacious youngest prince... He could only wonder at how their nation had managed to stand through the war. Had it been Riven? Had he been the wind keeping the shattered boat afloat?

The men of Ezea that fought, bled, and died... died for these people? Who could not be bothered to pretend to be unified in the homes of their enemies? If they had such a weak resolve, unable to mask their distaste for each other, in the face of necessity, how were they going to help his own people against the wolves howling at their door step? What use was this shattered kingdom that Zandyr had struggled with for so long against the Helyan Hordes? The shattered kingdom that looked ready to tumble and fall at the slightest breeze.

Perhaps it was a punishment. For what he, himself, did upon that bloody field. Perhaps he had struck down the keystone of Ezea, and by doing so, damned his own nation as well. Perhaps it was a divine jest from the heavens, mocking him with pale reflections of the man he once faced. A moment, a single moment, of weakness on his part... was that the cause of it? The twist of fate that had him survive that day, the day the white knight had fallen. Zandyr let his eyes trace the grains and engravings of the table before him, ignoring the Crown Prince's need to undermine their father one more time before leaving, as his mind considered it. If Riven had lived, and he fell... It would have been better. His father was strong, his father could hold their nation together, hold their family together, and Riven could keep the sinking wreck he once called his family together.

Instead they had him, and they were allied with a family with two boys who were mere reflections of their brother, both lacking the drive, honor, and duty of their elder. It was truly a divine tragedy, a great cosmic play that had begun the day he took his first pathetic breath in the world as he danced to the strings pulled by the whims of fate and the hands of gods.

His thoughts were interrupted by the soft caress of cloth on flesh as his trusted valet returned, Zandyr quickly jumped on the diversion and turned his head to greet his servant and adviser only to pause at the sight of a trembling serving girl who seemed to be in quite the conundrum. Raising her head slightly to look at him, only to jerk it back down to stare at the floor, followed by the slight rise once more only to quickly jerk back down. It was almost like watching those little creatures that would pop out of the holes near the eastern plains, and it was almost as endearing.

"My lord," Martos said, his withered face blank, but there was a distinct twinkle and tilt on the old man's lip that did not bode well, "We have a small problem. This young lady," He said gesturing to the bobbing, spluttering serving girl, "Saw something rather peculiar and desired to bring it to your attention."

The serving girl stepped, or perhaps it would have been preferrable to say 'stumbled' forward stuck between bowing and begging forgiveness and trying to keep her voice low and discreet, "M-my lord," She said in rather poorly hushed whisper, "T-the p-r-rincess is g-one."

"My sisters are gone?" Zandyr asked, his eyes widening as the small jolt of fear went threw his soul. Had the assassins returned? Had they harmed them? How? When? Did they take them? His mind ran through questions faster than his mouth could ever hope to keep up even as the young serving girl struggled to clarify.

"N-no, not the princessess, sire, t-the.. L-ady Ais... A..." She said, her voice trembling further as she fought back of squeal of fear for both her job and her life.

"The crimson haired one?" Zandyr said not truly needing an answer to his rhetorical question, "And?" He said, his face returning back to its neutral barren state as it absorbed the information. The fired haired tempest was a coward that had fled, how was this his concern? Perhaps, if he was lucky, she would get kidnapped by bandits... or devoured by wolves.. no, who was he trying to fool? The odds were she would trip and crush their lives, bodies, and spirits in one go.

"S-she T-too. Ta," the serving girl paused, closing her eyes and taking a few shallow breaths as if it was physically painful for her to say it, "Shetookyourhorse!" She let out stream of nearly unintelligible words.

It took a few moments for his mind to untangle and comprehend her hastily spewed sentence, but the gravity of it was not lost on him. "Nyx," Zandyr said, more to himself then anyone else, she... had taken Nyx. "Did she take the road?" he asked, almost in afterthought.

"I-I don't think so," she said, apparently getting used to speaking to him... or at least, she was getting better at moving her lips, "I-I think she was going to the forest," Umbra. Zandyr closed his eyes, feeling the familiar rage swell up in his chest. She had taken Nyx... into the Umbra Forest at the behest of winter. Umbra Forest was home to many a dangerous creatures, and she had taken his Nyx out there when she had no idea of the dangerous of that forest.

Zandyr pushed himself up from his seat slowly as to not draw attention, "Thank you for this information," he said, bowing his head slightly to the trembling serving girl, "Martos, see that she is rewarded for her service to myself and the crown. Three gold pieces for her loyalty in coming to me first... Add a few silvers for her silence. If my father calls for me, inform him that I am currently investigating the assassins that made an attempt on the Crown Prince of Ezea. No one is to know that she is gone or that I am after her until my return."

"Of course, my lord," The old valet said, as he gently laid his arm on the small of the girls back and guided her out with him, "This way, dear," he said to keep her calm and to not create a scene... something that would be highly counter-productive.

Careful to stay on the edges, and out of the focus, Zandyr slipped out the front doors of the hall and towards the stables where the empty stall waited for him.




A small cloak was the only protection he had against the cool wind as the brown horse ran through the dark forest, its powerful legs kicking up dirt and pebbles with every powerful step. He had left as soon as he was able, stopping only to grab a cloak before heading out in the chance he would be required to sleep in the forest. Even know, upon the brown warhorse that he had chosen for its endurance and willingness to bite and snap at things that got to close, he could not believe anyone could be a foolish as this princess. She had entered a forest she had never been into, in the middle of eve, with no supplies and in a dress. Even more, he was unsure he was still on her trail as, if not handled properly, Nyx had a love of jumping and leaving the paths.

Gripping the reins, he pulled bring the horse to a stop as a small glint caught his eyes. Swinging his leg, he dropped off the stallion and bent down to examine his find. Brushing away the dirt, he lifted the small metallic needle up turning it in his hands, before the corner of his mouth twitched, it seemed the fates had not quite abandoned him after all.

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"My sister bought me a horse today, a little grey mare. I am not sure what to make of her, she is spirited, but she is not beast of war, and I hesitate in using her as such. She has a certain charm, I admit, and I can't say that I am not fond of her. I have not the faintest idea as to what to name her. Her stormy coloring reminds me of a poem I once read years ago, Nyx, that was the name of the girl in the poem. Nyx. It will do.

----

Nyx has been a nice diversion. With the war going on all around me, it is nice to have a place of peace, a place to myself. I can stand there with her, in her pen or the carole, ride or brush her, and spend hours alone, pushing thought from my mind with the company of repetition.

----

I was admonished by one of my commanders, a young squire had come to feed the horses and found me sleeping in Nyx's pen. The skirmish before had triggered some... unpleasant memories, and I had visited Nyx for refuge, I do not remember when I slept there, but it was one of the few times, in recent memory, that I slept the entire night. None the less, I did not smell any better for it, and a change of clothing was sorely needed." - Nineteen - Twenty-One




The cool evening air would have been pleasant, enjoyable even, if he were merely out for an evening stroll, but this was not the case. The cool air had long since started to sting his skin as the wind rushed past the cantering horse and its rider, trying to tear the warmth from his body as it passed and his jacket was little protection against the chill. Considering what the weather should have been like this time of year, the weather lately had been a welcome change and temporary barrier against the harsh winds and sheets of snow that were soon to follow. Perhaps the Gods had pity on the fumbling princess, gracing the land with what shred of warmth there was to be had for her daring escape. Perhaps the Gods merely wanted to mock Zandyr, setting up the recipe to an international incident that rode for her country on his horse.

The last pin, now having three in his collection, indicated she rode for the Ama... and that she seemed to have traveled in a straight line something which baffled Zandyr. He had assumed that perhaps she had hidden supplies nearby, studied maps of the land, and planned on losing any pursues in the rugged lands of Xairal, but she had gone straight. Perfectly straight which posed two distinct problems, the section of the Ama that lay ahead was by no means shallow, and the Margoth Bog that lay beyond was considered one of the most dangerous locations within Xairal, and given the landscape of Xairal and its denizens, was a fair compliment. Had she truly just ran off like he feared? And, for some reason that was beyond him, decided on trekking through the country that she was unfamiliar with instead of taking the roads?

From what little he knew of her and her reputation, Zandyr wasn't sure if she was a buffoon or an incredibly brash and direct person, perhaps a bit of both? Either way, it made the idea of tracking her easier, he just hoped she had not yet attempted to ford the river. Digging his heels into the beast's flanks, he drove him into a gallop as the thought of seeing Nyx swept down the river lost in a whirlwind of obnoxious red cloth filled his mind.

Breaking out of the tree line, he spotted the large amount of red first, a glaring site in the dull dark grey world around it drastically different than the grey horse next to the crimson horse thief. Zandyr pulled stallion, Typhus, if he recalled its name correctly, to a halt, he let his eyes roam over the duo, first Nyx to check for injury than the princess noting, absently, the disheveled hair that ran down her back in waves now that it was free from its confines. The look suited her, a barbaric horse thief and fumbling disaster that paraded around as a horse thief. Perhaps, in the future, she would use her abilities to bring about the downfall of mankind while glaring at them with her firing red eyes seeking to burn away their dignity, freedom, and friends, as she him.

"Don't cross that river with my horse!" Zandyr shouted, his throat burning slightly from the chilled air that rushed in.

Zandyr swung off the horse, moving to tie the reins to the branch of a nearby tree and hoping Aislin would be shocked at his appearance to buy him a few precious moments and not run forward and into the deceptively deep river.

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Character Portrait: Aislin Serafaena Anarane Character Portrait: Zandyr Kashatir
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#, as written by Layla
A I S L I N.
1545, First of January | Starlit.

The river veiled the beat of hooves devouring the space between them. If she closed her eyes and severed the flood of cold air pouring from her nerve endings, she could almost imagine she was home. Almost, if almost described the inches discriminating a cat from a lion. Her body rattled like a flimsy door clutching a rusty hinge; soon her joints would meld into steel. Aislin knew she had to move, but the snow was soft under her feet, its pale fingers caressing the grooves between her bones where her shoes evicted as it imparted its promise of rest.

"Don't cross that river with my horse!"

The sudden cry jerked the princess from her brief trance. The wind tore strands of red across her eyes as she spun around. Her hair brushed the small of her back. For once she was grateful for its length and the shelter it offered. Where she was a smudge of crimson in an alabaster field, the Prince Zandyr was a shadow. His steed was much larger than the lean mare pressed against her side and its long legs swallowed the distance in quick leaps. But Sparkle could - would - outpace him, if her rider allowed it. She was small, but quick and agile, more able to navigate the fallen trees littering the Umbra Forest and better suited to accomplish what Ailsin was about to attempt.

"Forgive me, my girl," Aislin breathed against her companion's dark hair. "I will have to teach you to swim another time." She met Sparkle nose to nose and cradled either side of the grey mare's head as a grin split the numbness pressed against her blue lips. "Tonight, we fly."

She tossed her fiancé one last glance over her shoulder, the moonlight glinting across fiery eyes illuminating an innominate mischief. Wish granted, she mused. It was most likely that he would think no one capable of such profound idiocy, that no fool would attempt such unfeasible impossibility, Aislin or not. She was relying on his care, on his rationale and love of rules and tradition and the very things that made him the paragon of princeliness, but chained him to the sea bed, close enough to the surface to breathe - but not enough to live.

Aislin hoisted herself onto her mare, throwing one leg over Sparkle's body and gripping the horse's mane until the faint splatter of blue across her fingertips faded into white. The beast jerked its head and turned at Aislin's command, riding toward its official master. She took a few long strides before spinning around to face the River Ama. The wind urged the river's tide, shoving its clear fluid against the jagged roots pouring from the trees at its edge. It whipped Aislin's hair across her face. In the darkness, her locks flowed like blood from her roots, a ruby halo that reflected a warrior's bravery, and a wild girl's madness.

Aislin kicked Sparkle's side.

The mare roared ahead, clearing a path in the snow as she galloped with a determination vicious enough to rival her rider's. She ignored the rocks escaping the ice's hold as her hooves unhinged them, and the whisper of her master's scent behind her. She revelled in the air singeing her nostrils and the freedom coursing through her limbs as she ran. This was unlike her days with Zandyr - though those were comfortable, this was true. The land beyond the river was further than the height of any fence she'd ever cleared and the collision of water and stone terrified her, but a mad thing sat astride and the girl was infectious.

"Jump." Aislin's voice rose above the roar of the river before them, beneath them, and they were flying, leaping across water, rocks, sky. She had no time to laugh,to decipher the meaning behind her heart that was now firmly lodged in her stomach or to contemplate her impending-

They slammed onto solid ground.

Sparkle scrambled to free her hind legs from the edge where it met the land by a mere inch. Aislin gave a cry of victory, singing Sparkle praises as she straightened her spine where she'd laid nearly parallel to her mare's body. A low branch caught her forehead as Sparkle pushed ahead. It tipped Aislin's body backwards. She felt her horse slide from under her, her fingers grazing the bark of the tree, the wind howling in her ears and then

-silence.

I count the bricks. I count the days. I count the spaces between the ticks and the tocks. I count the contractions in my chest, the heartbeat I can feel if I place my fingertip on the bridge of my nose. I wonder if perhaps my heart isn't in my chest after all, but in my head, and I laugh because I must have a very small heart for it to fit between my nostrils. But when I count the times I've laughed, it's not quite as funny anymore.

The flap lifts and a tray clatters through the opening, the metallic whinge a shrill moan that peppers my skin with goosebumps. I wait for the jumble of words trickling through the slither where the flap doesn't quite meet its frame, but the voices do not speak to one another this time. This time, they greet me. I begin a new count, and mark this as the first.


She snatched air into her lungs when she broke through the surface with a gasp. The tent her servants had squeezed her into sat in a tangled mess at the bottom of the river where she'd abandoned it, having dragged her dagger down the middle of the heavy material where it remained tangled in the roots nesting in the river bed. Freed from her dress, she pushed against the current. Her nails peeled from her fingers as she latched onto a rock embedded in the sand, her blood washing away in the rushing currents. She cried out as a piece of driftwood sliced into her arm.

The water muffled her sight, but she saw the blur of her horse not too far away. She choked the beast's name but the horse merely circled where she stood, shaking her head in confusion. The river'd washed away Aislin's scent. She coughed a modest pond from her lungs. "Sparkle!" she managed to yell, but her mare did not respond. If Sparkle would come, she could grasp her crest and lift herself from the water. She was close to land but not close enough. She contemplated releasing her hold on the rock, but the river's course would take her like it had the log that rushing toward her.