Old December 28, 2012, 06:20 PM   #166 (permalink)
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As the weaves began to break down over the Empress' Own and his last arcane energies were spent Gye'ron sighed, his foggy breath billowing out in front of him. It had been a good brightening for the now retired soldier. Being amongst his fellow legionnaires, all of them imbued with purpose, had been a blessing. He had missed that feeling. The feeling of belonging to something, of striving for something more than yourself. Like every other soldier on the field that brightening, no matter what faction they fought for, he had stood for an idea. It wasn't about Rhysatra, or Arctic, or Threllius, not truly. It was about hope. Hope for a brighter, more peaceful tomorrow. At least for the common man.

His single-edge Imperial longsword returned to it's sheath as the gates were raised by the magic of the Ancient Aelyrians. It scrapped noisly, as the blade cut through the ice crystals that had formed around the mouth of the scabbard. His feet marched him forward, through the muddy slosh where the 4th and 5th cohorts of the 1st Legion had made their fateful stand, and past the now open gates of Aelyria Prime. He didn't stop like the legionnaires that were under the command of Rhysatra and her Generals. He moved further in, intent on staying close to the reluctant Empress.

Whatever the mystical and legendary nature of the Ancient Aelyrians might have been, Gye'ron didn't trust them. When they had initially returned they had sought to impose their will upon an Empire that had grown beyond needing them. They had sought to re-establish their claim to power, despite having long since abandoned the people they sought to rule. Their presence had, though they may not have realised it, caused the destruction of Sherian. And now Aelyria Prime layed partially submerged. He did not see them as the architects of some great peace, or the rightful rulers of the Empire their people had birthed. He saw them as artifacts of the past, a wanning people that couldn't let go of what they had once been but no longer were.

Then his eyes fell upon Faust, who was now unhelmed, and he immediately recognized the Vysstichi from many eras past. He had never gained much of a sense of the man's morality, but he remembered his martial prowess well enough. He had been a formidable ally when they had fought together. Gye'ron was glad that the short conflict of the Liberation of Aelyria Prime hadn't seen the two cross blades. It wouldn't have ended well for the Hunter Imperatis, or anyone who had stood in the way of the masterful Vysstichi. He glanced back momentarily to the dead of the 1st Legion, and knew that Faust was the reason. Yet there was no anger in his heart - had it not been for the dream Gye'ron likely would have sympathized with Threllius as well.

The dialogue between the two former claimants and the Apparent Empress ripped Gye'ron away from his thoughts. It was clear, as it ever had been, that Rhysatra did not wish what had been thrust upon her. That was, perhaps, the most telling sign as to why it was her that must bear the burden. The Hunter Imperatis took a single step forward, and offered to Rhysatra, "Those who do not seek power, are often best suited to wield it. That is why you must be Empress."
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Old December 28, 2012, 07:58 PM   #167 (permalink)
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OOCNo apology necessary, Kaelon :)

His first attack found nothing but air, and the one after that, and the one after that, and with each miss his rage only grew, until he was no longer aiming, really, just slashing out in desperate but seemingly impotent fury. Iori was trapped, though, encircled by soldiers, and it was only a matter of time until his blade found flesh, if only by chance...

And then he saw the circle shatter, a pair of legionnaires collapsing to the ground, writhing in pain inflicted by an unseen foe. It presented a clear opening, should the priest choose to take it, though he'd proven remarkably stubborn so far. But any chance Iori might have had to kill Rhysatra was gone now, and he had to know that.

And though Trevan could not see Iori, he could see the path he'd have to take to make it through, and he slashed yet again, and this time felt his blade make solid contact, heard the meaty sound of steel on flesh. He grinned, snarling in triumph, and drew his blade back for another vicious cut.

And suddenly he was reeling backward, gagging, eyes watering, the sudden stench overpowering even his rage, leaving Iori's path open.

He started to shout a curse, but as he opened his mouth it turned to a violent cough, and it was all he could do not to retch.

By the time he'd begun to recover, any chance to prevent the man's escape was gone. He raged inwardly, but outwardly he fought to bring some semblance of calm to his face, his nose still wrinkled in disgust at the lingering malodor.

Then he heard a cough that sounded almost like a laugh, and he spun his head around, and saw Tyana standing nearby, and for a moment he could only glare at her, unable to comprehend what she could possibly find amusing in all this.

But with the pair gone, his rage was already subsiding, fading away with their escape, and the realization that a chance for further bloodshed had, for now, eluded him. Then, just like that, it was gone, and he gave his own harsh snort of amusement.

He made for the druid's side at her call, though as yet he did not sheathe his blade, nor clean off the small amount of the priest's blood that coated it. "Are you hurt?" he asked her. His voice came out in a low growl, the question asked rather matter-of-factly. While he waited for her answer, he knelt, finally, to clean the blood from his blade. He glanced up again.

"What did I miss?" he asked, with not even a hint of irony.

OOCTrevan's actions are based on the assumption, of course, that Eclair and Iori do indeed take the opportunity to flee ;)
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Old December 28, 2012, 10:25 PM   #168 (permalink)
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Good-bye, kids! Have fun storming the castle!

Igrainne wasn't about to take advice from a madman covered in pig manure and vomit. They meant no harm? That's what they all said. She finally noticed the extent of the damage upon the sty and that their few pigs were gone. Great. Just great. Thanks, nobles.

The mastiff put on an excellent show as he stopped before Roscarnis to growl and bark at the trespasser. The second dog had run after Alexis for a bit, delighted by the game, and then trotted back home to join the loyal mastiff and the rather useless mutt in barking at the Lylles lord. Although noisy, none of the dogs actually lunged at Roscarnis, and he might begin to suspect they were not trained to do so.

Igrainne was satisfied as she watched Alexis flee. If the Imperial Regent had recognized this farm or if this girl had recognized who he was, she might have had a greater gladness in assisting him, as Igrainne Birch was in the habit of rescuing famed heroes and other assorted important persons. Perhaps it was for the best that Roscarnis, too, had not identified himself before leaving; the Birches owed their land to and paid taxes to the Lylles, who were in some way or other, their lords. The young woman would have been mortified to discover she'd set her dogs upon one of them.

But ignorance was, if not actual bliss, certainly relief. The dogs escorted Roscarnis for a short distance before being called back by Igrainne's high-pitched whistling. She ushered them back inside and firmly shut and bolted the door once more, leaving the small bag the man had abandoned upon the ground outside. She wasn't about to forego the safety of her house to investigate what he'd left behind.
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Old December 29, 2012, 01:23 AM   #169 (permalink)
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Double Axe To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire

Semper in excretia sumus solim profundum variat.

~ John Ailwyn Fellowes, 4th Baron de Ramsey, in a speech to the House of Lords, Palace of Westminster, 21 January 1998.


Julos priest, I haven't felt like this since...those lost darkenings at The Reg, Alexis thought, the icky taste of regurgitated stomach contents still in his mouth, a slight light-headedness brought about by the aforesaid regurgitation, and a general feeling of unease and distaste hovering about his person and consciousness.

Filthy, tired, stinking and slightly shamed, His Most Imperial Excellency and Imperial Grace was most certainly and very ready to call it a brightening. Nodding to the uniformed rabble-army unit before him, as well as to Ceniel, Sapientia was ready to surrender to the moment, smiling half-heartedly at Ceniel's posited question.

It was certainly quite a brightening, and though the Suns were low in the sky, the brightening wasn't over yet.

A shimmering later, the sudden onset of nausea made Sapientia feel woozy, and he almost lost his rosyun, but gasps of air and an unyielding presence of mind held that thought. It would not do to have commanders get sick at the sight of so many dead, many due to obedience to his commandsGo tell the Spartans, stranger passing by,
that here, obedient to their laws, we lie
.

Unbound as he was, he could sense the slightly odd and tingly atmosphere surrounding the site of the recent battle - if that's what it was - and seeing the odd decapitation or corpse not only sobered the Conciliar Regent, Imperial Consul, Arbiter and Praesul Pro Tempore of the Imperial Senate and Imperial Admiral, it struck his consciousness and reminded him of the very real sense and price of failure.

Politics in the Aelyrian Empire was no mere game of cards. The stakes were the individual and collective lives of each citizen, and this particular blood-soaked battlefield was the current table~Rear Admiral James Greer, USN, in Without Remorse, by Tom Clancy. Profit or loss, it mattered little, at least to one with a conscience. Altruism in Alexis Sapientia was both a help and a hurt.

The stink and discomfort were immediately forgotten, unworthy badges they were. Many of the lifeless now here had borne greater honors and exemplified greater valor.

The King's Gate looked worse for wear, the Hero's Gate less slightly so. They looked like ruins left to fall as they lay, and particularly symbolic for the young Sapientia. A behemoth, a megalith painstakingly constructed and seemingly able to withstand the test of time, rendered useless.

Standing there in the silence with the winter windsYes, the Cold Winds are rising! blowing across his face, Alexis Sapientia, husband to Liselle, father of Kaladriel, Taryn, and Nicholas, wept for the lost. Bringing himself to attention as he was taught at the Sentinel, the Imperial Naval Academy at Port Constantine, he snappily raised his black-leather-gloved right hand to his right eyebrow, palm facing back, and held it for an eternal ten seconds, before letting it fall ever so slowly. That accomplished, the Imperial Consul and Imperial Minister of War took several deep breaths, rage and tears building in his heart, as his fists clenched.

Seeing a tattered Imperial Standard nearby on the immaculate white ground, Alexis gingerly picked it up, soaked as it was with mud and blood, singed with arcane burns, and ripped in the course of battle, and clutched it to his chest. With narrowed ceruleans, he surveyed the field once more, before marching in a hasty one-two step towards Aelyria Prime, surrounded as he and Roscarnis and Ceniel were with their respective escorts.

Behind him, to the west, the three setting suns emblazoned the skies above Aelyria red as blood.

* * *


Auferre, trucidare, rapere, falsis nominibus imperium; atque, ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant.

~ Tacitus, Agricola (De vita et moribus Iulii Agricolae)
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Old December 29, 2012, 03:38 AM   #170 (permalink)
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They marched.

Never in his time on Telath had Roscarnis felt like this. They may as well have been clad in irons as they moved towards what would be their inevitable fate, though strangely enough the legionnaires had taken it upon themselves to clean the two up as best as they could, wiping the surface grime and slush off to remain only the smell of filth that in truth, could only be rid of by taking a half-brightening bath.

The First City's disrepair struck a cord within him, much like the false Regent beside him, perhaps even more fundamentally so -- this was where he had grown up; where he had attended the College of Princely Affairs. This was where he kissed his first girl, drank his first ale and bought his first ceremonial blade.

Yet there was nothing upon his face, his soulless eyes watching quietly, too numb to take any of it in. His facial features were blanched, and those who knew him knew that it wasn't a lack of emotion that caused such a void -- but rather, an inundate of a myriad of sensations, thoughts and anguish that painted such a picture of dignified sorrow.

Turning towards the weeping Alexis Sapientia, Roscarnis could not help but scoff inwardly -- the nobleman had been silent throughout the entire journey back towards Prime. After all, the state of the Empire descending to such chaos could very well be attributed to this one man, who, by his own ambition, chose to splinter the Imperium, the upholding of it could only be performed by a duty

Perhaps the anarchy he so predicted when the Regency stretched beyond seven eras had prematurely been evoked this brightening. Did Alexis see that? Did he see through his hypocrisy -- he claimed to be a legalist that held upon the Articles, but neglected to see that the only legal document he drew authority and inspiration from was in itself, flawed, a fallacy.

How could one assume the Articles, inviolate as they should be, to be altered at their fancy? How could one accuse the claimants as illegal when it was their very right to lay claim to the Throne in an Interregnum? And how could one so failed to understand his own role as a Regent and yet continue to point fingers at the other factions seeking to unite the Empire?

And more importantly, how could one, so glibly claiming to be an adherent to the Law, so mistakenly assume his position as Regent, granted by another Regent, as valid?

No, there was little reason to believe that Alexis Sapientia was unknowing to all these -- rather it could only be a purposeful attempt to horde power for himself and his ilk -- but to what purpose?

His thoughts seethed, and the melting snow off his skin almost as though burning with an inner ire that stemmed from being in such close proximity to that man that had brought the Empire to this brink of chaos.

Or perhaps, after living a lie for so long, Alexis began to believe the own false tales he spun -- it was after all, something Roscarnis had only began to understand -- that he, a man, could change the Empire if only his heart was strong and his soul unvanquished.

When he finally approached the gates, that was when his eyes fell upon Rhysatra, no defiance burned, no compromise, no begging for mercy as well. She would do to him as she saw fit -- and he could only pray that Sapientia would receive his due punishment as well -- it was his only consolation at this point.

And then his jaw went slack; from the corners of his eyes he saw them.

Not unlike the dream, when Roscarnis had, in the spectacular finale, sent his powers, boosted by the Echoes of Aethergem to rescue both of them at the very crucial moment that would see both pretenders plunging into the void. Rhysatra might have willing sacrificed herself in the culmination of the climax to prevent an utter extermination of the dreamers, but the Lord de Lylles himself had too, played a part in ensuring the safety of the two.

And now they were here. So much he did not understand, so many questions. He spied Nadina D'Rosario herself, the Countess of Demios, who had been part of that strange dream -- had it been real? He could not say for sure, yet the claimants, for better or for worse, have returned, and who was to know what would transpire next when they realized that the Empire was no longer theirs to claim?

The ambivalence continued to lock his breath in his lungs, not joy in his eyes nor recrimination, he had served the best he can in the absence of guidance after Threllius' disappearance, when no one was willing to step up to preserve the interest of House Lylles-Lysandria.

And then finally, he seemed to catch himself, eyeing Rhysatra, the enigmatic Princess Arctic and then finally his liege lord himself with a look that appeared almost incredulous, a gentle demand for answers.

"My Lord, you live." He intoned towards Threllius, placing one hand over his heart as he bowed, unable to hide the bewildered expression upon his face any longer.
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Old December 29, 2012, 04:05 AM   #171 (permalink)
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Yes Miss Éclair, as you wish. Iori-Toy only obeys.

Run Away Time she said. Fine, they will run away, as fast as possible! And there is no faster way, then using those very fast horses.

As soon as (and if) he reached Blair and Maximillian I, he dumped Éclair onto her saddle, and proceeded to leap onto his own. In his haste and burst of adrenaline rush, he had quite forgotten about the injury to his buttocks until his rather firm and shapely gluteus maximus made contact with the hardened leather.

Iori had to grit his teeth to suppress the howl of pain as the agony nearly jolted him off the horse, especially after he had pulled the reins to get his mount to start galloping. Still he forced himself to remain in the saddle. This was going to be painful yes, riding all the way on an injured bum... but it's okay, he's had worst. This could not possibly be as bad as that time in Medonia, when he got violated by a certain 'LeToy'. He had to endure that a whole darkening to boot. Here they were only going to ride as far out until they were out of sight from Prime.

"Miss Éclair," he called to her, looking back to ensure she managed to keep up and that she was alright. The eight candlemark trip to Prime had him convinced he was the best rider in 'Team Evil'. Speaking which, where was Miss Noe? She seemed to have disappeared in the commotion. And Shiro too.

And assuming she was with him, he would nod at her and ask, "Are you alright? We need to ride hard... and fast... to get out of here," he squirmed, trying his best to ignore his discomfort. "Cast Shadow Manacles and bind yourself to Blair so you don't fall. I am injured, I cannot lead you as well as I did before..." he groaned, in reference to their earlier riding to Prime. "Bind me too, before I fall off the saddle..." he added, fearful that his situation became unbearable when they increased their pace.

He then kicked his heels in to make the horse run faster. Drain Life was a good spell to cast now to heal his injuries, but he was out of Vis already. So he released Clara, and changed his focus to the road instead, trying his best to steer them both out. He remembered there was a river nearby. If they could follow it as a landmark, they could avoid the road and ensure their escape via the woods.
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Old December 29, 2012, 07:55 AM   #172 (permalink)

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Something was very wrong. That much was apparent.

The Lord deLylles standing alongside Arctic? Standing alongside Rhysatra? What did he say? "The person he was expecting?" That he was expecting Rhysatra, and with him carried not the tools of war and conquest, but the look and guise of someone ready to speak and negotiate? They...they were not enemies here? The cause of so much death and destruction on the fields of the Kings Gate not for a cause which they had been so fervently fighting for?

The ardent rage that flowed within the thin viens of the pale elf caught alight once more, his jaw clenching in nothing short then utter and total wrath. "Expecting?" came a whisper/hiss from the elf as he stepped out of the shadows, materializing like some ghost from the wall of a nearby building. "Expecting?" he yelled a little louder, voice incredulious at the self actions of the humans before him. By the gods, what arrogance! What pithy self interest that they would throw the lives of their own men away so easily, so that they could form some sort of a dramatic apparence at the end of battle.

Pointing a bony accusotary finger at Threllius, then to Arctic, the elf could not hold back his opinions, as much as it might cost him. No, Ainlars fire within him would not allow such. "Men fought for you here, under your banner! Men died for you here!" Archalen Andares was bewildered in a blind rage, his voice steeled but underneath an altogether shakiness emerged in transparent undertones. "That there are those who threw there lives away here, fpr your cause, for your rule, you arrive to say you were expecting her!" That bony finger now moved from Threllius to Rhysatra.

They could not know, but this event was mirroed in the elf's own history. Taralon, that hellscape nightmare where men of the Ebon Watch and Sel'Rakrya under his own lead had been cut down in battle when they fought the, then believed, treachery of the Black Sheilds and the Wilderness Watch. But once again, historia proved to be an ever repeating cycle. Just as it was then, it was now. The fog of war had passed and it proved that they had not been fighting some other force or faction, but fighting amongst themselves. Two sides under the same coin bleeding each other dry, unknown to those who believed in the cause they gave their life for, but the top and highest echelons of governance in knoweldge of the travesty they prepertrated only.

Archalen Andares had died for mans ego that brightening. Just as men died for the ego of rulers here. And to be fair, Archalen Andares did not care for those who died this day in the fields outside the Kings Gate (even as small the battle had been) but cared moreso for the actions of the three rulers before them. The rulers who had let blood be spilt for them, only to arrive and be seen working together?

All else was forgotten as the elf, almond eyes now wide and unflinching, looked towards the assembled.

How was this possible? How had all of them, magi and swordsmen all, been decieved so? What foul power had turned the once sworn enemies of DeLylles and Arctic into associates? What power could be so grand as to affect the very mind of those who just cycles before had sought the utter destruction of each other? Archalen's paranoid mind raced with the implications of what was occuring, of what it actually took to perpetrate a dream upon millions and twist the minds of foes into friends. Who among them had such power, and used so power for the selflessly misguided notions of "peace'. Who had such profane arcanic ability?

The eyes of Archalen Andares widened.

Yes, it all made sense now. There could be none other, he had seen this trick, of twisting the minds of men before. There could be only one answer for this tumultious and treacherous turn of events.

Duncan Sythe. **lol. I am laughing aloud as I write this. So ridiculous

"WHERE ARE YOU, SYTHE?!" he yelled aloud, no longer caring if othes seen him as a madman or worse. The arch enemy Duncan Sythe was somewhere, he had once again taken over the minds of mortals too easily, twisting events for his own gain under the guise of peace and prosperity for all. There could be no other.

Gray eyes quickly scanned rooftops, then the streets about them. Archalen turned quickly, causing his tattered black cape to spin with vigor in the wind as he did so. "No....he could be any of them!" the elf mutterd under his breath. Ah yes, the guise of mystics were endless. "We can trust no one," he muttered once more, now looking over the faces of Threllius, Arctic, and Rhysatra. The elf had begun to descend into a paranoid madness and continued his hushed whispers. "He knew the Trimvir was up, that a new age herald. So he took them. Yes. He is crafty beyond measure, his dark magics without equal. Which one then...which one did he bend to his will?"

The elf became physically guarded, his taut muscles tensing as a hand went to linger just over his sheathed sword. Like a trapped animal, the elf kept his wide gray eyes on the trio of the Emporer, Princess, and General as he backed away slowly, gaining ground from what was obviously a trap and treason so poisonous as to be supreme. He had to escape, the mystic mage was far too powerful now the he had assumed the identy and will of one of the trio before him.
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Old December 29, 2012, 01:17 PM   #173 (permalink)
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Theldor looked up at the skies over Aelyria Prime to see the remnants of the Overcity, far fewer isles and structures than had been rumored in legend, hovering over the Imperial City. Anxious and uncertain about this outcome, he lowered his spells and began to walk to the King's Gate, where he saw the encounter unfolding. General Rhysatra was standing before Princess Arctic de Ioannes and Archduke Threllius de Lylles, the two claimants to the throne; the general was flanked by Imperial Legions, and the would-be emperors were surrounded by a small contingent of winged Ancient Aelyrian Guardians. Theldor could sense many eyes upon this scene, but one pair was especially potent: Shei'yein had managed to cobble together the thinnest of sentinel strands from the fabric of magic to project his vision upon the scene, and while the Undermage could see what was transpiring, the image surely to him was arriving in pieces rather than a continuous stream.

Faust stood next to Serion, struck by the words that Rhysatra had said. The General had in effect seized the capital city, though for how long remained to be seen given the arrival of the Ancient Aelyrians and the fluidity of the situation. That this woman, this young girl from rural Arium, this orphan-turned-rogue who had become a soldier over the years marshaled her reserves and channeled her great sense of abandonment into a guardianship over her soldiers, that she would simply turn power over to the two claimants was almost unfathomable. Standing by and awaiting the unfolding tapestry of history, he could nevertheless see Tyana struggling to help raise the fallen Empress' Own, the Legions that had come to Aelyria Prime had not vanquished their foes, but instead, began to help them stand upright. Trevan cursed the escape of Eclair and Iori (and escape they did - right into the woodlands leading to Loremark Forest off of the King's Highway), but his attentions turned to helping Tyana, and he genuinely seemed to wonder what he had missed; the scene unfolding in front of him provided some of those answers.

Archalen had erupted into true madness; overcome by the strange cordial conversation between Arctic and Threllius, astonished that the Archduke of the Lylles had been expecting Rhysatra, he conjured paranoid visions of how such a scene were possible. Drawing from his own experiences, Archalen quickly constructed an arch-nemesis in his own mind, and swore that such a mystic was now at work manipulating these scenes. But neither he, nor any of the spellcasters sensed any mystic magic, illusions or beguiling, mind control or transfigurations at work here. Threllius and Arctic were who they said they were, as was Rhysatra. Some other transformation had taken place here, some hearts had clearly been touched and moved. The Dream had done more than just show people a possible past that would influence the present; it gave them hope for a new and brighter future. And that was something that no force could counter.

Ceniel eagerly received the fleeing Imperial Consul into his regiment, as Alexis was further followed by Roscarnis. His apology to Igrainne cut short by the two officials who, in such grotesque states, had managed to leap into the legionary embrace of his soldiers, the regimental officers quickly handed both Alexis and Roscarnis cloth and supplies with which they could clean themselves, and assuredly, they must have. For no civilized being could possibly tolerate being immersed in such a deep deluge of dismay. Ceniel gathered his magical powers and manifested a simple recall spell projected over the regiment; this group translocation would ensure a swift arrival, and he projected his return one hundred meters beyond the gates. When the Regiment arrived in a blinding flash, it found itself before the King's Gate, portcullis in disrepair but largely raised, and both Roscarnis and Alexis were being escorted into the Gates Plaza, where they saw what was unfolding.

Alexis was ushered through the King's Gate, and turned to look to the West, noting the suns setting on this winter dusk, the snowfall having lightened up and becoming a simple minor dusting, but the cold winds beginning to accelerate as the waning warmth of the day gave way to the bonechill of the foreboding night to come. Roscarnis' mind was filled with contemplation and consideration, almost approaching the point of epiphany. These things happen for a reason; it was a cliché, but it was nonetheless a reflection not of some predetermined destiny, but of the reality that circumstances shape the facts in which they occur. And especially now, since the gods had grown silent, what was unfolding was not some premeditated plan from above, but the modest meanderings of mortals who for the first time since the fracturing of the Aethergem, could at long last put a crisis behind them. Nevertheless, Roscarnis fell to a bow, his hand over his heart, bewildered as to what had happened. "My lord, you live..." he said; Alexis had just stepped behind Roscarnis, escorted by the legions that under Ceniel had been sent to gather him.

Pescado wasted no time in witnessing what was unfolding to confront the foreign presence that Theldor had sensed: Shei'yein was still trying to exert his influence in this place. But the Saurid knew that the strands upon which the Undermage had crafted his sentinel were brittle, and unsuitable for great spells of power. The webbing of mysticism could not persist through, and Pescado could not return to assault the mage that had projected an astral vision through the sentinel. And so, as Shei'yein witnessed the return of Alexis and Roscarnis, the conversation between Rhysatra, Arctic, and Threllius, he was convinced that the general was about to hand the reins of power over to two would-be monarchs, who now seemed reluctant? The sentinel snapped; Pescado's nullification broke Shei'yein's vision, ending his ability to see beyond his immediate surroundings on the frozen mountain tops of the Khardran Mountains.

Straylor had succeeded in crafting an abjured platform to ferry across legionnaires over the King's Gate, shouting, "Long Live the Empress!" to the soldiers, who returned his cheers with "Hail to Rhysatra!" Transfiguring the vines that had been so ineffective nevertheless did convert them into suitable ropes and ladders, which the men could use at great cost to try and scale the walls. But the portcullis had been sufficiently raised that, one row at a time, the legions could enter - and had been entering - the King's Gate. But it was Straylor's quick thinking to adapt the caravan into an engineering platform, that soon dozens of soldiers were being hoisted and lowered over the battlements; this was largely possible because there was no resistance, and if anything, great assistance. The Gatekeepers had cheered Straylor on as they helped lift the soldiers onto the parapets, and onto the stairwells, which had now been re-opened. When Straylor reached the ground level inside Aelyria Prime's Plaza of the Gates, he saw and heard Gye'ron's plea.

Gyeron approached from behind General Rhysatra, and the Hunter Imperatis said it plainly in response to her statement. "Those who do not seek power, are often best suited to wield it. That is why you must be Empress."

(Continued)
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Old December 29, 2012, 01:32 PM   #174 (permalink)
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Threllius de Lylles grew exasperated. If only this girl had known what he had to endure this morning, and it was not just the escape from peril on the Isle of the Crown. The Archduke had suffered the Ancient Aelyrians, and while he was grateful for being rescued, he owed his survival more to the swift interception of the Princess Arctic, as the two of them would not have emerged from the fiery inferno of falling isles and shattered shores without one another. The Claimant of the Lylles bowed his head when Roscarnis bowed before him.

"There is much we must discuss, Lord Roscarnis," said Threllius, delivering the largest understatement of the late afternoon. "But this much must be said." He raised his head and looked to Rhysatra, glancing to Archalen periodically. "We were never going to win outright," there was a look of resigned reality that descended over Threllius' countenance. "Or, what we would have won would have cost so much in blood and treasure, destroyed so many lives and ruined so many enterprises, that the taste of victory would have been as bitter as defeat itself." He beckoned Roscarnis up on his feet.

"We had been sleeping, all of us," Threllius spread his arms wide to include himself and Arctic, "and caught in a nightmare of our own making, that only by awakening this morning did we realize that, well..." the Archduke strained to get the words out of his mouth, but he looked at Rhysatra and began to shake his head, his hands fidgeting and for the first time visibly nervous.

(Continued)
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Old December 29, 2012, 01:38 PM   #175 (permalink)
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Arctic smiled and raised her hands to suggest that Rhysatra take a step back. "His Grace is right, you know," she admitted. "And the Dream wasn't just a dream. It was a wish that all of us were making together, for an end to this crisis and, to save the very race of people who, troubled as they may be, deserved as much an opportunity to prosper as we all do." Tears began to form in the Princess' eyes, as she brought her arms crossed over her chest, lightly tapping her heart.

"My dear general," she sniffed. "We so desperately need your help, now more than ever. You cannot refuse a responsibility to the Empire, to us... to yourself." It had taken all of the Princess' courage to say these words, and still their meaning was only starting to become clear to Rhysatra.

(Continued)
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Old December 29, 2012, 01:43 PM   #176 (permalink)
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"How can you refuse them now?" echoed the voice of Emperor Constantine, quaking in Rhysatra's mind. The memory of the emperor must have grown more strongly as the general heard the words of those around her. "And I don't just mean your soldiers or these pretenders. I speak of the people, your subjects, who without you would be lost and consigned to another twenty years of chaos and crisis. You must end this. Now. Do not reject their dreams, and stop being a little girl and grow up. This is the Destiny to which you must rise. Be the person you were meant to be, and in the name of all that is right and glorious, save them." There was a sense of anguish that crept over Constantine's voice, teetering upon disappointment for his protege. If his memory was worth anything, it had to give this woman a sense of purpose, lest she consign the Empire to certain collapse over a civil war that neither side could ever convincingly win.

(Continued)
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Old December 29, 2012, 02:07 PM   #177 (permalink)
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Before Rhysatra had heard the words of those around her, and even those within her mind, she had felt the rush of air behind her that was the familiar grand stepping motions of legionary soldiers. She turned to see Roscarnis and Alexis being escorted by Ceniel, and she closed her eyes, exhaling a sigh of relief that this would now all soon be over. As she parted her lips to speak back to Arctic and Threllius, she was interrupted.

"Your Majesty, look!" said General Dervan, who handed Rhysatra the spyglass he had been using to look throughout the city. He pointed to the northwest, past the Scholar Quarter and through the various edifices and architectural wonders of the Imperial City. When Rhysatra peered through the strange telescope, the general being uncomfortable with aided vision, she could see through the magnifying glass the ruined rubble of columns, the shredded remains of flags and tattered strands of tapestries, a series of billowing black smoke arising from the flames that had not yet been extinguished or managed to be placed fully under control following the Xetan attack on Aelyria Prime. And, worse, beyond the Imperial Forum, she saw the great deluge - the Old City, washed by seawater and its structures scattered like pebbles before a mighty storm. "We surely stride through the charred remains of our capital, my Empress," Dervan said, stifling a growing tear, a deep sense of terrible loss. For though the rumors had been great of the damage done to the First City, most of the people outside of Aelyria Prime had not seen with their own eyes the depths of the devastation wrought by the enemy.

Rhysatra put down the spyglass, and turned to face Dervan. Her brow furled with resolve, her eyes calm and focused; she did not know where she found the words, but they came out of her effortlessly and instinctively. "This is the Heart of Aelyria," she said, handing the spyglass back and gesturing around to all of the soldiers, all of the nobles, all of the citizens and the very people that had gathered in the Plaza of the Gates to see what had unfolded. "Not these stones, not these timbers, these palaces and towers. Burn them all, and Aelyria lives on, because it lives in us. Aelyria is a belief that we hold in our hearts..." she paused for a moment, and looked up into the darkening sunset sky, seeing the first twinkling of that new brightened star that was born just the night before. "It is a dream that we have all made together." Rhysatra caught herself, and stopped short.

She was furious! How could she let herself be manipulated so easily? Who was pulling the strings here? Was it god or was it man? She snorted dismissively at Archalen's insane ramblings, but perhaps he was right. Perhaps this was all some sort of twisted trap. She would not let herself be manipulated so easily. She took in a deep, panicked breath; this was her life, not their lives, and she would live it as she willed. She heard Constantine's voice echoing in her mind. "How can I refuse them?!" she thought back angrily, much like a rebellious daughter might scream at her overbearing father. "Grow up?! How... dare you!" But her thoughts were cut short, when Threllius and Arctic spoke.

Rhysatra spun around and looked at Threllius squarely in the eye. "You have that right, Archduke!" she shot back, angrily. "Both of you nearly brought us to the brink of oblivion, and for what?!" There was more than just fury in the heart of Rhysatra, there was wrath and it ran deep. She felt more than just betrayed by the two claimants; she felt abandoned, and she would not be abandoned twice in her life. "You are both not getting out of it that easily..." she ignored Constantine's plea, and then closed her eyes and clenched them with refusal when Arctic spoke. After the Princess had begged her to not refuse the responsibility that she had to the Empire to herself, Rhysatra had enough.

She opened her eyes, reached into her pack, and pulled out the Crown. Everyone saw it - it was the golden circlet from the Dream; it was real, it was here, and Rhysatra held it in her hands. There was a shimmering light that seemed to radiate off of it, as if the starlight from that first nighttime star, the one born of the brightening, had been reflected off of its graceful archways. As the Ancient Aelyrian guardians looked at it with awe, they began to clench their fists over their hearts and salute, about to say something undoubtedly reverential, but Rhysatra shoved it to Arctic and Threllius, nearly screaming, "You both must set this right!!"

The Crown suddenly flew off of Rhysatra's hands, and surged into the sky, sending sparks of golden light and radiating starlight twinkling off of its arches. The twilight of night had seemingly activated some sort of energy within the Crown that Rhysatra had not witnessed before in that journey, and with that energy... the Crown surged and flew through the air like a falcon. It flew north and northwest, above the towers and palaces, the stone and timber of Aelyria Prime. It flew directly to the Imperial Forum, where the Regiments and Legions that had been pouring in had been congregating to finalize control over the City. And it flew directly away from the crowd at the King's Gate.

"Oh feth!" cursed Rhysatra unceremoniously. She turned, her crimson cape flickering in the freezing nighttime winter air. She unsheathed both of her daggers and shook her head, unable to believe what was transpiring. "All of you, with me!" she commanded, and barely noticed that the Ancient Aelyrian guardians saluted instinctively and followed Rhysatra. The Rogue General dashed down the streets, through the mud and muck, past the cobblestones and the pillars, into the alleyways, her cape fluttering in the wind, chasing the Crown that had escaped her rigid relinquishment. Directly to the Imperial Forum.

(To be concluded in a new thread shortly.)

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Old December 29, 2012, 02:17 PM   #178 (permalink)
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REWARDS:
  • Players may choose one of these two rewards for their characters (your choice):

    - Tribute to the Empire: The Aspect of Alyssa Chrysinaria infuses your words and actions; when you are engaged in political decisions, diplomatic negotiations, debates or intrigues, you will have a decisive advantage against a character of the same relative skill, all other influences being equal, and will be able to out-engage them.

    - Glory of the Conqueror: The Aspect of Constantine infuses your words and actions; when you are engaged in armed or magical combat, commanding armies on the tactical battlefield, or planning a military stratagem for warfare, you will have a decisive advatnage against a character of the same relative skill, all other influences being equal, and will be able to out-maneuver them.
  • Igrainne will discover, after the commotion has died down, the pouch of 500 Gold Crowns left behind by Roscarnis.
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Old December 29, 2012, 05:05 PM   #179 (permalink)
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(Conclusion Exposition at this thread: "Coronation".)
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