Alate Epoch (Viverescribere x Peregrine)

Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
The little village had been built in the nestled folds of two rolling hills. A clear stream cascaded gently down a pebbled slope, while the sunlight dappled through giant trees that stretched towards the sky. The brownies had built their homes directly into the hillside, each dwelling made of a mix of stone, wood, and compact earth. In front of each house rested a large, wooden loom, where the dark skinned brownies wove with patient dedication, occasionally extracting a strand of brown hair from their wild manes to weave into their fabrics.

Wrapped up in their tasks, it seemed that none of the brownies had noticed that their village was already surrounded. While the little vale offered a comfortable and sheltered place to live, it provided almost nothing in the way of defense or scouting capabilities.

The rustling branches of the trees were swayed by the weight of feathered harpies that landed in the boughs, their talons sharpened and armed with near dagger-like claws. From among the shadows of the trees, heavily armored nagas curled around trees, their hands clinging tight to swords. From under the ground, pebbles were occasionally disturbed by the passage of invisible creatures that tunneled through the earth. Despite the countless different forms the invaders came in, one common element they all bore was the shining silver metal that made up their weapons and armor, tinged with the faintest shades of purple and blue.

Down in the valley, the brownies suddenly trembled, their hair standing on end in a way that made them resemble a disturbed hedgehog. A particularly nervous brownie glanced in towards her house, eyes practically begging. It seemed that the village may not be as ignorant to their impending catastrophe as they appeared.

Far in the distance, three figures were standing on a tall hill among the trees, overlooking the army as it approached the brownie village. A dog-headed man lowered a telescope from one eye.

“Ambush,” he said gruffly. “Do they expect to catch us unawares?”

To his side, a sphynx lifted one paw, covering her mouth as she giggled. “How brave of them to use their own population as bait.”

“They know our goals.” The cynocephalus did not look amused, his lips curling back slightly to bare his fangs as he spoke. “We aim to capture, not kill. They intend to use that against us.”

“Shall we take advantage of it?” the sphinx asked, her tail flicking side to side, the feathers on her wings ruffling slightly. “Send our army elsewhere to sweep up other locations while they’re distracted.”

“And give up the ones we already have surrounded?” the dog-man asked with a huff. “There’s no chance the Arryn soldiers can stand against us. We should take what we came for.”

“And send our soldiers to pit their lives against an unknown trap?” the sphinx replied sharply, a frown on her face. “Their lives are not playthings.”

“They are soldiers,” the cynocephalus barked back. “What is their duty if not to fight?”

Glaring at each other for a moment, the two’s heads unconsciously turned to look at the third figure, who had been standing silently behind them with his arms folded.

It was impossible to make out any features on the man, as his entire body was covered in a luscious, golden scale armor that clung closely to his body. A dragon bone mask covered his face, surrounded by mighty horns, and giant reptilian wings were loosely folded behind his back. His claws scraped lightly against the scales that covered his arms, creating a faint, grating noise.

“My Lord?” the sphinx asked, her head lowered slightly. “Your orders.”

Kilroth considered silently for a moment, his brilliantly green eyes flicking back and forth across the battlefield. Finally his arms unfolded.

“Break through with force,” he commanded, hands balling into fists. He was not here to play games with the Arryn people, but rather to take what he wanted and return to his own kingdom. They had begun their march, and retreating would only serve to weaken the momentum of their assault. Whatever the Arryn army intended to bring to bear, he was confident that his carefully tailored and trained squads would be able to bull through it, regardless of what it was. They had, after all, been created for exactly that purpose.

“Launch the attack.”

The two standing before him inclined their heads, before the dog-man lifted a war horn. Its resonant cry spilled through the forest, and shouts echoed from the mouths of Kilroth’s soldiers in response. A moment later, they began to move towards the village at a quick but orderly place.

From the sky, the harpies and other winged warriors carried netting, which they dropped on the brownies who had immediately abandoned their fabrics at the sound of the war horn. Many of the troops moved to cut off the escape routes from the village, while others moved forward, intending to collect the fallen fae and escort them away from the battlefield.

Listening to the sounds of the battle from the distance, Kilroth abruptly frowned. His sharp, green eyes locked on to a specific spot on the village. Despite the fact that the location was obscured from his sight by the trunk of a massive tree, his vivid eyes appeared to pierce right through to the point where he had suddenly sensed the smallest fragment of magic.

It felt as though the blood in his veins was suddenly tingling, sending a shiver racing up his back. His wings trembled, almost spreading reflexively.

“Retreat.”

Kilroth’s voice caused his two generals to almost flinch in surprise, their wide eyes turning back to stare at him in surprise.

“M-my Lord?” the dog-man stuttered.

“There’s been a change of plans. Retreat immediately.”

“Understood.” The sphinx took advantage of her compatriot’s stunned surprise to swipe the horn from his waist, before she used it to let out two short, sharp notes. In the valley, the soldiers froze, appearing momentarily as surprised as their commanders, before they flooded out of the brownie village like rushing water.

“Return to the border, and bring all of the captured brownies. I have other matters to attend to.”

Before either of the two could react, Kilroth’s wings spread wide, and he shot up into the sky, almost instantly vanishing from sight.

。+.。゚:;。+゚+。::゚。:.゚。+。。+.。゚:;。+゚+。::゚。:.゚。+。

Three days later, an unexpected dignitary arrived at the capital of the Arryn kingdom. Mounted on a war deer with mighty antlers, the dignitary was followed by a retinue of silver-clad warriors. Behind him, one of the soldiers carried a banner, which displayed an intimidating coat of arms. Golden scales across a sable background, marked with the pattern of a twisted black and white tree. Around its trunk a serpent was coiled, while an owl rested in the branches, and a wolf stood among the roots.

The citizens in the capital unconsciously retreated in fear at the sight of the Shaden Empire’s coat of arms, creating a clear path towards the stone castle that rose in the distance. It wasn’t until they reached the gates of the castle that the party’s progress was finally halted.

The mounted dignitary ignored the guards, who were bravely pointing their weapons at the group. Instead he lifted his chin proudly, displaying the wooden skin and leaf-like hair characteristic of treants, present on a distinctly untreant-like face. Instead, he had almost cat-like features.

“On behalf of His Majesty Kilroth, Emperor of Shaden, I have come bearing a missive for the King of Arryn. Deliver news of my arrival.”

It was an introduction as domineering as his presence, and hardly an appropriate manner to conduct oneself in the presence of royalty. But the dignitary knew his position well. As an envoy of the aggressors, aggressors who were currently winning, it was his right to act in a manner befitting the dignity of the man he represented.

There was no chance they'd dare turn him away, if they had any desire to protect their people.
 
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Viverescribere

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Genres
Fantasy, Historical, Magical, Romance (usually within other genres), Dystopia,.





Astrid


A figure stood in the window as the dignitary arrived, arms folded tightly and insect-like wings quivering in anxious energy about what the unexpected, and unwanted, visit warranted. The moment the travelling group, with the garish banner arrived on the outskirts of the Arryn borders, it didn't take long for news to arrive at the palace.

A frown had settled over the freckled face which was turned downwards onto the gate below, which was nestled between the ends of a rolling hill which then curved around the rest of the castle in a horseshoe-like shape. Water wasn't a particular favourite of fairies, considering the damage it could do to wings, so it was often joked that the hill that barricade the castle was a reversed moat.

Ears picked up the muffled words, clearly announcing the arrival of the Shaden envoy, and wings trembled in a mixture of irritation and fear. While it wasn't appreciated that the Shaden people seemed to believe they could tread wherever they wanted without consequence, and be received without appointment purely due to the name they could wield... it was clear that nothing could be done about it. Their forces were too strong, too large, too... fearsome.

Turning on the ball of foot, the figure pulled away from the window just as the gates were opened, and the envoy allowed inside the walls of Arryn Castle.

* * *
"Apologies that we have no provisions for your arrival, sir. If we had known you were travelling... to deliver a message from your Emperor then we would have had something prepared." The King of Arryn stood before his throne, hands clasped behind back, addressing the dignitaries that had been escorted into the main hall. His eyes swept over the group before him, wings still despite his own tightly bundled energy. The King knew well about the kind of people that stood before him, his many years in control of Arryn allowing him time to come across the people of Shaden more often than he would have liked.

The figure from the window stood just to his right and behind, her own hands clasped in front of her. Deep red hair was dragged over the one side, a mixture of loose curls and braided strands making up the thick mess that occupied her left shoulder, hazel-grey eyes did their own observation of the group, but her own wings betrayed her. They shimmered every so often with the slight quiver that overcame them, the young woman having to correct herself each time she felt them begin to vibrate with her nervous, insulted energy.

It would have been stupid to think that the retreat of the Shaden only three days ago meant that Arryn had the upper hand. No one ever had the upper hand when it came to the kingdom of warlords. They were merciless, they were ferocious, they were brutal and they were cruel.

The King of Arryn moved away from his throne and therefore his wife and daughter, slowly taking one of the steps down from the raised platform, and then another. While he didn't lower himself completely onto his guests level, he still knew better than to have himself appear to be at a higher station. "Perhaps we should make this as quick and as... painless as possible, hm? For both of our kingdoms." The King suggested, moving clasped hands from his back to his front.

At her father's movement, Astrid instinctively took a few steps forward herself until she was level with the King's throne. The throwing knife in the length of her boot seeming to burn against her skin and stocking as she stood there, ready to defend her father and her king. However her eyes continued to linger, not once looking away from the group that had invaded their space without prior warning or justification.

The nerve of them, arriving unannounced, knowing that the royals that presided over this kingdom would be forced to accept their presence. And what a presence it was.

Astrid's eyes wandered over the dignitary that stood front and centre, the brown leather gloves on her hands ever-so-softly squeaking as her hands squeezed together in her frustration. An irritation that came from the pure thought that they, royals of noble and pure blood, were forced to whimper and coo to the appearance of this mixed-blood creature before them. However her expression remained neutral, her vexation buried deep. Her duty was to remain calm, her duty was to her people and helping provide them with the best outcome possible from this meeting.

That meant no fighting, and no war. Thus, she had to ensure she insulted no one.

"What is it you have to deliver from your Emperor? Clearly it was important." The King paused, waiting, clearly, for an answer.


ASTRID


NAME
Astrid Morwena Tirion

NICKNAME/S
N/A

AGE
25

OCCUPATION
Future Empress of the Fairy Kingdom, Arryn.

HEIGHT
5'5

TATTOOS
Sternum/Chest || Back - between her wings || Left wrist || Right hand - curling around wrist ||
PIERCINGS
Left ear || all the way up the side of the ear from standard lobe to helix ||
Right ear || standard lobe x1 || upper lobe x1 || helix x2 ||
SCARS
  • x1 on right side of chin || under lower lip and in line with corner of mouth || nicked with a knife while training ||
  • x1 near right wing where it meets her skin || pulled on too hard when an adolescent ||
  • x3 on lower left arm || claw marks || from a troll during a battle when 21 ||
  • x2 on right side of body || just below the ribs || opponent using double swords ||
MARKINGS
Freckles on face || Freckles along arms || Blue/silver hue around base of wings where they meet the skin of her back ||
FACE CLAIM
Nejla Hadzic || Model ||




PERSONALITY
Calm, collected, cool, poised. Astrid enjoys people watching, and likes to have all the facts before passing judgement or comment when asked for her opinion. Sometimes it can seem as though she is detached from her emotions, and often is mistaken as being cold, when in reality she simply knows that as a daughter to an Emperor, one cannot allow their emotions getting in the way. She understands her duty, and is loyal to the people she loves, protecting them in any way she can.

LIKES
Flying || Gentle breezes || Storms that clear hot air || The colour amethyst || Learning about affairs of state || Gardening || Sunbathing || People watching || Learning what makes people tick || Nature art ||
DISLIKES
Trolls || Wet wings || Lack of respect || The cold || Her hair getting caught in her wings || Her wings being pulled or stepped on || Obnoxious jewellery || Bragging || Moths || Clothing that restricts her wings ||
HOBBIES
Gardening || People watching || Drawing/painting ||
HABITS
Wings flutter when irritated or upset || Clasps hands behind back when serious || Pulls hair over one shoulder when focusing/concentrating ||
TALENTS
Telekinesis || Psychic wave manipulation || Watercolours ||
SKILLS
Flying || Throwing knives || Psychic powers (currently unaware) ||
FEARS
Trolls || Her wings being ripped or cut off || Inability to fly ||

RELATIONSHIP WITH FATHER
Amicable, perhaps slightly business-like and professional. Astrid and her father interact thanks to a lot of meetings and over discussions regarding affairs of state. Occasionally they will spend time together that doesn't involve grand maps and large lists of trade deals. Mostly out riding... or working on her fighting skills.

RELATIONSHIP WITH MOTHER
Warm, loving, enjoyable. While Astrid still can have serious discussions with her mother about the future of Arryn, things are a little more relaxed with the current Empress. More emotions are shown when Astrid is around her mother, and she has a tendency to laugh and smile more.

WEAPONS ARSENAL
Throwing knives || Psychic powers ||

PSYCHIC POWERS
STRENGTHS: Telekinesis || Psychic wave manipulation
ADDITIONAL/WEAKER: Telepathy || Psychic shield creation || Psychic force-field creation || Psionic healing || Psionic augmentation ||
LIMITATIONS: Cannot teleport || Drains energy quickly when first learning || Can pass out from exertion ||

HISTORY




Hex Code: #cacbd3 & #4b5f81
 
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Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Despite his current position as a dignitary, Brach-Ajdima was far better known in Shaden for his role as the Emperor’s head steward. Raised for the position from birth, under the fierce but professional care of his mother, a cat-lady of high standing, Brach considered his personal duty in life to address all of Kilroth’s personal affairs, before their absence had a chance to distract the man from his true obligations of running the empire.

When the Emperor appeared before him three days ago, Brach was shocked to see him filled with a level of fervor and vivacity that the steward had never before witnessed. Outside of the fact that the Emperor should still have been on the battlefield, ensuring the success of their conquests, it was almost as though an entirely different man had returned to the Imperial Palace.

Brach would have sworn he could almost see the flames of passion and ambition that had reignited in Kilroth’s emerald eyes.

Brach had been prepared to tackle whatever task Kilroth had for him with two hundred percent effort, but had not guessed that his first task would be research of the history of the Arryn kingdom. However, what came next shocked him even further.

The next morning after Kilroth’s return to the palace, when their research was complete, the Emperor prepared a scroll containing the terms of armistice for the Arryn kingdom, and a small package sealed with the Emperor’s personal dragon symbol.

Traditionally, Brach should have entrusted the missive to one of Shaden’s official dignitaries. However, he could not bear to let the scroll part from his person. It was too important, and he did not trust anyone other than himself to ensure its contents reached their intended target.

On the third day after Kilroth's return to the palace, Brach took both the scroll and the package, and departed for Arryn through one of the kingdom's teleportation circles. It carried him, a carriage, and a retinue of silver-armored guards to the boundary where the Shaden Empire pressed against the territory claimed by the Arryn kingdom, at the foot of the range of mountains that encircled Shaden's capital in their protective embrace. Brach arrived at the Arryn kingdom’s capital city five hours later, and shortly after, he boldly walked alone into the courtroom, his armed guards hesitantly halted at the doors to the palace.

Brach’s head was inclined professionally before the Arryn king, but there was no true respect in his expression. Compared to the overwhelming presence unconsciously emitted from the Emperor of Shaden, in his eyes this man looked like nothing but a child practicing play-pretend.

Unconsciously, Brach’s eyes momentarily flitted to the red-haired woman who was currently standing tensely near the throne, her wings occasionally trembling. A second later, and his eyes were returned to where they belonged.

“As you request,” he replied, bowing momentarily, before fetching the scroll from his bag and passing it over to the Arryn King with two hands.

“The terms of armistice, and the return of all captured prisoners of war from the recent engagement,” he said flatly, ignoring the ripple of shock that passed through the room at his words. Shaden had never once before offered the surrounding nations a treaty. None of their expeditions had ever failed.

Brach waited expectantly for the king to take the scroll, feeling as though the second package in his bag was about to burn a hole through the cloth.
 
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Viverescribere

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Astrid


The trembling wings on Astrid's back stilled at the words that left the dignitary's mouth, red lips parting as eyes sharply returned to her father. Armistice, the return of their prisoned soldiers and those civilians they were meant to protect. Never had the Shaden Empire offered such a remarkable feat. They were known for their ruthlessness, and Astrid had heard of the heavy prices kingdoms had to pay in order to get back their prisoners of war.

The King of Arryn, Theoden, stared at the scroll which he now held gingerly in hand. It was as though he expected the parchment to flare up into flames at any moment, and for a surprise-attack to be launched on his castle. His eyes even tentatively moved to the high windows of the Grand Hall, as if waiting to see if Shaden soldiers smashing through the glass and clambering through. Removing himself from his stupor, Theoden cleared his throat and wrapped fingers around the scroll, back straightening and wings briefly stretching out before returning to their resting position.

"At what cost? I refuse to believe that such an offer comes from the likes of the Shaden Emperor simply because he feels generous." Theoden responded cautiously, eyes narrowing with a suspicion he didn't bother to hide. He would be a fool to believe that this deal was coming from a want of nothing.

Astrid dared to move closer to her father, her own gaze flitting to windows and doors as if she too expected an attack. At the mere thought of it, she redirected her path so her feet took her closer to her mother, the Queen. Her father could handle himself, the Queen however, was still recovering from an injury gained in the recent battle. Astrid had a few cuts and bruises herself, of course. The biggest concern a slice across the inside of her left forearm, currently covered with a fresh bandage. She ensured to keep it as hidden as possible by having her arm turned in such a way the inside of it was kept facing her own body. In the presence of a Shaden, Astrid wished to keep any weaknesses as quiet as possible. She settled at the right arm of her mother's throne, barely feeling the cool fingers of the older woman settle against her lower back. A gesture of reassurance, perhaps, but the princess was too focused on the exchange to notice or truly care.

The scratched whisper of parchment unfurling seemed deafening against the Grand Hall walls, and Astrid's own fingers itched to clasp onto the coarse material in order to read the terms herself.

"This is an... unusual offer made by your Emperor. Yet I fail to see what he wants in return. Gold? Land?" The Arryn King continued, head raising to look once more to the dignitary.
 
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Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
“What he wants is simple.”

With one hand, Brach dug out the small, oblong package that came from the same bag that had contained the armistice. His thumb unconsciously rubbed across the wax surface that sealed the small box.

He was nervous. Uncertain. Excited.

“As the official envoy of the Emperor of Shaden, I hereby declare that the terms of armistice between the Empire and Arryn is the marriage of Astrid Morwena Tirion to His Majesty Kilroth Du Shaden.”

After all, the second document that Kilroth had Brach draft up before he departed was a marriage contract. The steward had never dared to dream that he would see the day when the eternally single Emperor would finally propose to a woman.

Finally, his gaze turned to the red-haired woman once more, and this time he did not avert his eyes a moment later. He studied her, unconsciously trying to understand what could have tempted his Liege to propose to her. Unfortunately, all he was left with was speculation.

Naturally, there was a chance that the promise of Shaden’s retreat might not be enough of an offer to convince a father to give up his daughter. It depended entirely on what the man valued most. Therefore, Brach smiled at Arryn’s King, and gave one final piece of temptation.

“Of course, as the home kingdom of the future Empress, Arryn would be exempt from all future conquests as long as Lady Astrid so wishes.”

Brach had never heard of a king who would trade his throne for his family.
 

Viverescribere

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Astrid


The hand that rubbed reassuringly against Astrid's lower back froze in place just as it moved across to her left side. Fingers curled to firmly press against the soft hip it found and the young woman was forced to lower her own hand down to it as she began to feel curved nails elongate.

Marriage. The Emperor wanted marriage. To her. Of all people, of all kingdoms. He wanted to be married to her.

Astrid peeled the hand from her hip, glancing down to her mother as she held the hand in hers and gentle squeezed. The princess had gotten her fiery hair from her mother, but the older woman seemed to have a better time in controlling it, since her mane was more flat while Theoden had bestowed the curls onto his daughter. The king in question, meanwhile, stared stupidly at the dignitary, his fingers slackening against the scroll he held in hand. His bottom jaw dropped open for a few seconds, until he gained his good graces again and quickly snapped it shut. Noting the change in gaze direction of the creature before him, Theoden partially turned in order to follow Brach's eyes until they landed on his daughter.

Astrid raised her chin proudly, not daring to allow the many eyes on her daunt her. "Princess. Not Lady." She corrected as way of response, tone slightly biting despite her best efforts.

With a final squeeze to Queen Helena's hand, Astrid pulled away from the thrones and slowly made her way down from the platform. There she passed her father, and stood level with the dignitary, despite how he was a few inches taller than she.

Her eyes remained on his face, hands once more clasping in front of her as her wings folded tighter against her back. She studied him, as he did her only a few moments ago.

"It's all in the scroll you provided the King? The terms and conditions of this agreement?" She finally inquired, speaking for the first time since the group's arrival. "I will need... time, to allow our advisers to look over the fine print you have so... kindly... provided. However, should all be... well, you can expect me to return back with you to Shaden come morning."

Her words were cool, blunt, and left no room for doubt that she wasn't serious. Because she was. Astrid was deadly serious. Loyal to her people and her kingdom, she knew her duty, and would do whatever it took in order to keep them safe. She ignored the whispered strangled noise that seemed to escape Helena at the words spoken by the princess, knowing it was the right thing to do. Her father kept them safe how he could, but her accepting this deal and... marrying could put an end to the misery of their people.

"Now, despite your unannounced arrival, I'm sure we have some guest bedrooms set up in which you and your... guards can stay in for the night."
Astrid continued, wanting to keep talking and controlling what she could while her parents watched on, "We will send food up to you and hot water should you like to bathe. One of our servants will show you the way." She inclined her head toward such a creature that stood at attention against the Grand Hall walls. "I will send a note with-- my decision soon. You have my word."
 

Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Brach all but ignored Astrid’s objection to his form of address. It wasn’t that she wasn’t, technically speaking, correct in her admonishment, it was simply that he did not recognize the sovereignty of any nation other than the Shaden Empire. They were little more than dilapidated tribes in comparison to the empire, struggling on while they waited for the time they would finally become incorporated.

There was a good reason that Brach wasn’t a dignitary, and he was well aware of the fact that his nationalism was extreme, even compared to many in the palace. The Emperor was trusting him to succeed in this mission, and there was no way that Brach would ever allow himself to fail in his duty. No trace of his disdain could ever be found in his expression or behavior.

And then there was the not insignificant matter that, if Astrid accepted Kilroth’s proposal, he would soon have to call her Empress.

“Of course, Princess Astrid,” he replied, doing a much better job of concealing his tone behind a mask of servility than Astrid had done containing her frustration at his presence. “Emperor Kilroth has laid out the terms quite plainly. You may review them at your leisure, however, I have other duties that require my attention. My obligations required me to leave within 24 hours, and at that point I will leave with either you, or the armistice.”

Of the people in this room, only Brach knew exactly how desperate the Emperor was to obtain Astrid, even if Kilroth had never expressed it. Brach had seen it in his eyes. If the kingdom was to fire back even more unreasonable terms, there was a not insignificant chance His Majesty would accept. It was therefore Brach’s responsibility to ensure that this proposal appeared as nothing more than the Emperor’s whim.

Astrid’s assurances gave him the confidence to spout such bold falsitudes. The armistice truly was incredibly straightforward. Even the King himself should be able to see that there were no strange requirements or loopholes. As long as Astrid came back with Brach and married Emperor Kilroth, the Arryn people captured in the latest raid would be returned, and no new raids would be launched so long as Astrid denied them to happen. Should the terms be broken, the marriage would be immediately nulled, and Astrid would return to her kingdom.

“There is no need for accommodations. My guards will have already set up camp outside.” He certainly had no intention of slumming it in this cold stone behemoth they called a castle, when a camp filled with Shaden’s most portable conveniences was waiting for him. There, something like hot water was considered a given.

“I will see you tomorrow morning.” Bowing, first to Astrid, and only then to the King, Brach departed with the same, straightforward confidence with which he’d come.
 
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Viverescribere

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Astrid


The King of Arryn would have been stupid to declined the offer he had been given by the Shaden Empire. Astrid also knew it would have been extremely selfish of her to disagree to the armistice simply because of her own unhappiness. She had to think of all those currently being held prisoner: probably cold and afraid and desperate to see their families again. It was her duty, and one she would carry out so long as the King and his advisers were happy with the terms of the armistice.

Of course Helena was a lot more emotional about it, despite knowing it was the right - and really the only - option for them. Astrid went on a final walk with her mother through the castle gardens, while trunks were prepared for her departure. Clothing, books, photos and her art supplies were all packed away with only an outfit for her travel the next morning being left out.

Theoden remained locked in the meeting room with his advisers, making preparations for all those that will be returned to them the moment the deal is done. Astrid knew she ought to be in there, helping until the last moment... but she wanted time with her mother. She had done her part, and that alone warranted her time with her mother.

When morning came, Astrid dressed for comfort. She wasn't sure how the Shaden dignitary and his group had travelled, and was slightly anxious at the prospect of spending the majority of the journey in a carriage, wings uncomfortably pressed between the wall and her body. However she knew to control what she could, settling for a pair of flying breeches and boots, paired with a off-white blouse with the sleeves buttoned closed at the end. She braided her fiery red hair to the side, so it wouldn't become tangled within her wings, and added a single spritz of perfume.

She wasn't looking to impress anyone. The Emperor was not a love she had been longing to marry. It was a deal of business and of duty.

The journey was long, and uncomfortable. Not due to the riding in a carriage, because she had made it clear she would ride on her own horse after seeing the group mount their war deer - her wings would be freed and allowed to flutter and stretch as they needed to. Astrid found herself uncomfortable due to the group she rode with. Warlocks of different appearances and sizes, from an Empire she had heard nothing about but of it's brutality and cruelty. And she was riding toward it with the intention of being it's Empress.

Astrid trusted none of those who surrounded her on her journey, grateful that her horse had been loaded up with food and water from the Arryn kitchens which meant she could (politely) refuse what was offered for her, and eat the food she knew.

For the entire journey, the fairy continued to remind herself who she was doing this for and kept her emotions bottled up and stored away. This was her way of protecting her family, and also her people. Of returning them to the people they loved, reuniting families, and ending the fighting between Arryn and Shaden. At least for now.

After a few hours of riding, Astrid was beginning to wonder how much longer they had to ride, yet didn't dare question or make a sound as she shifted in her saddle. However she was certain it couldn't be much longer, the Shaden Empire seemed to have the ability to be anywhere at anytime almost immediately. She knew they were disciplined as an army and as a unit in a way that was terrifying to fight against.

"Your Emperor, Kilroth,"
she eventually spoke, daring to break the silence and not addressing anyone in particular, "How am I expected to address him? As the Emperor? As one would with a betrothed? As one would with their husband? Do I address him as His Majesty? I wouldn't wish to... offend him, after his generous offer and proposal of the armistice."

Hex code: #4b5f81
 

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Brach and his escort departed the Arryn capital, leaving nothing behind to mark their presence except a few rectangular squares pressed into the grass and forest duff, marking where they had set up their tents the night before, and the silent, fearsome absence of the kingdom’s only princess.

Instead of the promised note, Astrid had delivered herself to the temporary camp early in the morning, well before the stipulated twenty-four hour period came to its close. Brach had greeted her arrival with the squint eyed smile only ever found on cats, but had returned to a dignified expression before Astrid could spot him.

It was only once he’d confirmed that she was here to accept the Emperor’s proposal that Brach had finally extracted the little package that he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about all night.

“A gift,” he said, passing it over politely. Compared to their first meeting yesterday, it was clear that Brach was already starting to treat her differently. As many biases as he might hold against outsiders, he was unquestionably devoted to the people of Shaden. It left his behavior towards his confirmed future Empress somewhat muddled. “From His Majesty.”

This package was a large part of the reason that Brach’s departure had been delayed for nearly 36 hours after the armistice had been drafted, and he couldn’t help but watch Astrid with intense eyes as she received the little bundle.

Whatever she thought about Kilroth, she still received the package with proper decorum, opening it only a moment later.

Neatly positioned on top of a bundle of fine green silk rested an elegant ring. Shaped like a flattened dragon, the body of the dragon formed the band of the ring. The head of the dragon also served as the head of the ring, the dragon’s teeth working as a setting for a magnificent black opal, which somehow managed to paint the image of something flying in its fractured colors. Instead of scales, the entire body of the dragon was carved with tiny, intricate runework. It seemed to capture the light of the morning sun, gathering it into faint lines that flowed along the carvings towards the stone, which almost glowed with inner light.

Even Brach felt a momentary trace of envy as he looked at the stone. It was one of the highest forms of magic craft currently present within the Empire, crafted by top mages who had imbued their own unique abilities into the ring’s mythril, and then found a way to power it with ambient mana instead of the ring’s wearer. Even someone like Brach, who couldn't cast a trace of formal spellcasting, would be able to use the effects of that ring. Better yet, the primary magic within it was geared towards defense, and would automatically trigger if its wielder was in any danger. This ring was likely worth more than many of the kingdoms that surrounded the Empire.

Not that Astrid seemed to have any sense of that, if the look of disgust that he saw briefly flash across her face was any indication. She didn’t put on the ring, instead snapping its box closed once more and changing the subject to matters around their departure.

Brach almost scolded her for the breach of decorum, but swallowed his words back at the last moment. Kilroth had ordered him to treat her with the highest level of courtesy as soon as she accepted his proposal, and he did not dare speak to her in the same way he would have previously done.

Besides, she would be safe enough on the few hour journey until they reached the teleportation circle, and then she’d be protected by the entire might of Shaden. His Majesty could then deal with getting her to put the ring on himself.

By the same logic, Brach did not protest her decision to ride her own horse, nor her insistence of only eating the food she herself had prepared. However, her behavior continued to simply build on his disappointment and confusion. This was the woman who was to be the Empress of Shaden? Now that the initial excitement of the fact that he would get to see the Emperor wedded in his lifetime had worn off, Brach could not even begin to guess at what His Majesty was planning. How was this going to be a good thing for the Empire?

As a man who had always prided himself on being able to understand the Emperor’s intentions and predict his needs, Brach could only mentally scold his incapability at being unable to keep up with His Majesty, and prepare himself to do better when they returned.

They were getting close to the border of Arryn, and hadn’t traveled much slower, despite the addition of Astrid to their party. Likely they would only need another hour and a half before they reached the circle. Just as he was thinking about what would happen after they traveled, Brach’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted by the sound of Astrid’s voice.

As this was the first time she’d taken the initiative to speak the entire time they’d been traveling, her words momentarily caught him by surprise. However, he collected his thoughts a moment later and nodded.

“I understand,” he agreed, nudging the side of his war elk so that the mount would fall into step beside Astrid’s horse. “His official form of address is His Imperial Majesty.” Brach paused for a moment, deliberating. He had been given no formal instructions on the matter, and could only follow his instincts. “However, you have agreed to be His Majesty’s official wife. I doubt he will take exception to however you would wish to address him.”

A dangerous sentence, Brach was well aware, as his thoughts immediately spun to Astrid appearing in the royal court and addressing him as a murderer and tyrant. Yet Brach firmly believed that Kilroth would prefer such a faux pas to setting the boundary of rank between them as a matter of standard. He could only hope that the strange matters around Lady Astrid had not dulled his instincts.
 
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Viverescribere

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Astrid


The box that contained the dragon ring felt like it was burning a hole against her chest.

Astrid had slipped the item into the breast pocket of her blouse, covering it with the lapel of the riding blazer she had also added to her outfit as an extra layer. While she admired the craftmanship, she didn't enjoy the statement in which it made. The dragon being a part of the Shaden emblem, which would now appear on her finger. Claiming her as part of it's property. It felt as though it would claim her as a prize in a conquest. People would see her wings and know which kingdom she originated from, but anyone who saw the ring would know to whom she belonged, and that didn't sit well with her.

However, Astrid was not prepared to stomp her feet and wave her arms about in a tantrum. That would only be petulant and consume time and energy she didn't wish to waste on the situation. It was all a matter of duty, and what was expected of her. If it wasn't the Emperor of Shaden, it may have been a Prince or an Emperor of some other land in order to create an alliance. She had hoped to avoid being used as a pawn, secretly praying she would make it until she was upgraded to a Queen; a Empress of her own kingdom. But that wasn't meant to be, and her time at Arryn was up.

"Official form, official wife... it all seems very rigid and tiresome." She exhaled softly, musing it over in her head, "His Imperial Majesty it is then... as lengthy a title as it is."

Astrid was not about to differ from the title she had been given as the 'official' way in which to address the Emperor. One so she could avoid in any accidental insults but two because she simply couldn't begin to fathom the game in which she would have to play in order to figure out what title to give her soon-to-be husband.

"I'm not sure if His Imperial Majesty would care as to what I say, but he can simply call me Astrid. No point in fluffing around with titles and names that will mean nothing in Shaden." She paused, only to bristle at the mere thought that had just crossed her mind, "I won't abide being called 'wife' or any other similar titles. I don't know the customs in your kingdom, but I won't be addressed like a barbarian. He can call me by my name, or nothing."

Her gaze flickered across to the dignitary, studying his form in a way that could only be described as curious-caution, "What is your name?"

Hex code: #4b5f81
 

Peregrine

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“This servant is Brach-Ajdima, the Head Steward of the Imperial Palace.” Brach inclined his head slightly, causing the leaves, moss, and lichen that made up his fine hair to briefly fall forward over his forehead. Feeling the shifts of its rider, the war elk tossed its head slightly, but its stride remained steady as Brach straightened once more. “If you have any needs while at the palace, let me know and I will do my best to address them.”

Brach knew it was inappropriate for him, as the leader of the palace workers, to take exception to Astrid. His attitude towards her would be reflected anywhere his influence reached. Brach did not doubt His Majesty—Kilroth would never make a decision that wasn’t in the best interests of the empire—so it would be a catastrophe if the future Empress was mistreated because of his actions.

Despite that knowledge, Brach was no superhuman. Treants were naturally stubborn creatures, slow to form opinions and slow to change them. While his mother’s training had tempered that tendency in him somewhat, he was still incapable of swallowing his next words.

“As for your demands towards His Imperial Majesty, you may make them yourself once we have reached the Capital.”

Brach’s tone was mild, seeming without any bite. Yet, Astrid was raised in a royal court, whatever Brach might think of it. She must be familiar with the intricacy of the spoken word, so he assumed she would not miss his subtle rebuke. What kind of position was she in to abide or not abide anything, or say what Kilroth could or could not do? Brach, at the very least, would not aid her in such endeavors.

。+.。゚:;。+゚+。::゚。:.゚。+。。+.。゚:;。+゚+。::゚。:.゚。+。

Astrid fell silent after that brief conversation came to an end, and the moment Brach was certain she wasn’t going to continue speaking to him he tapped lightly at his war elk, causing it to separate away from Astrid’s horse. He had no inclination whatsoever to force his company upon her, especially not if she was only going to use it as an excuse to demonstrate her distaste for His Majesty and Shaden.

As they crossed the border between Arryn and Shaden, the soldier’s steps unconsciously began to pick up in speed. Brach couldn’t blame them. After all, they’d be home again in only a few tens of minutes’ time. There was nothing like leaving Shaden to remember exactly how magnificent the kingdom was.

The teleportation circle was well hidden, nestled in a ravine between two tall mountainsides that looked more like cliffs. The path narrowed down to a single lane, just wide enough for the carriage, as it passed through the dark space between two giant boulders that had toppled together.

On the other side, a large circle had been carved into the ground. Obsidian black obelisks surrounded the circle, watching like sentinels as the small group approached. Brach once again approached Astrid, leading her and her unnerved horse closer.

“This is one of the gateways to Shaden,” he stated calmly. “While it is possible to make the journey by foot, it will be a slow and uncomfortable experience. Please follow me closely.”

Together with the soldiers, Brach moved into the circle. A second later, and everything around them began to shine with a faint, lilac glow. It crawled up the obelisks in a similar style to the intricate runework that could be found on Astrid’s dragon ring, albeit much larger and less intricate. A moment later, and the glow spread to the floor, forming layers upon layers of concentric circles, filled with more runes.

And then everything was swallowed by purple light.
 

Viverescribere

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Astrid


The kingdom was a complete mesh of those materials of the natural world... and those belonging to the manufacturers and magic-wielders that resided within Shaden. There were elements that Astrid had never seen before, and therefore witnessed them with bright and wandering eyes as she tried to grasp the overwhelming realisation how just how far ahead of the rest of the kingdoms this empire seemed to be. No wonder they were so capable in battle and so easily steamrolled each foe that stood in their path.

Metallic silver glittered and gleamed alongside the shimmering azure and cerulean of the waterfalls and rivers that blended seamlessly together. What amazed Astrid further was that some of the architecture seemed layered over the fjord in which the capital, and empire, rested within and upon. Floating there, suspended in mid-air. From their position on the far curve of the fjord, where she could see the kingdom from a side vantage point, it felt as though her eyes were tricking her and she was being fooled. How had they managed such a feat?

Surely it had something to do with their magic. What else were they capable of?

The view that each building would have, seemingly regardless of where it was positioned within the city and despite the grandeur it may or may not possess, was phenomenal. The water, the ocean, that entered the fjord was simply breath-taking. It was a natural beauty, but so perfect that Astrid felt inclined to take it in with a pinch of salt. What glamour had these warlocks and magic-wielders used to provide such an awe-inspiring image of their kingdom?

It would be more than easy to suspect that Astrid was suffering a range of emotions in that moment, as she battled with herself on how to simply feel about the place that would now be her new home.

In the end, she settled (read: defeated) into feeling begrudging awe for this mysterious kingdom. Not to mention, she had to also acknowledge that whatever magic they had just used to get them to Shaden had been a lot more pleasant than what the ride would have been. While there was a faint inkling of nausea, akin to what Astrid had suffered when she tried flying for the first time with her wings, that had immediately been forgotten at the sight of her new home.

As the group moved forward, the Fairy royal lingered for a moment longer. Her eyes still sweeping over the kingdom as she continued to try and make sense of just how advanced Shaden were in comparisons to her beloved Arryn and her neighbours.

Swallowing hard and with a quiver of her wings which had been pressed tightly to her back, Astrid clicked softly to her steed. Soon the horse moved on along, easily falling into step with the group once more.

What else did they fail to know about Shaden and what other secrets were there?

Hex code: #4b5f81
 
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When the glowing purple light faded away, it revealed the group that was still standing in the middle of the circle as though they hadn’t moved an inch. However, the scenery around them had transformed radically.

The ancient, long lost legends of the dragons said that the Empire of Shaden was built in a furrow created by the claw of the Dragon God. Of course, such texts were forbidden within the borders of the empire, but Brach had found it written on one of the scrolls that lay scattered within the Emperor’s private library.

Even though he did not believe in anything like a dragon god, Brach couldn’t help but understand why the rumor came to exist. After all, compared to the other fjords that filled the surrounding area, this one was far too perfect. Steep cliffs towered over a wide cerulean river. The entire canyon looked like exactly the result that would arise if an impossibly huge dragon clawed a serpentine snake into a plateau above the ocean out of boredom, creating a long inlet, pushing up giant mountains to either side with the spare soil.

Whatever the cause of its creation, there was no denying that the inlet was the perfect cradle for the kingdom of Shaden, its steep cliffs offering protection from both weather and invaders. And, tucked away at the very back of the inlet, the point at which the dragon’s claw ended its path furthest from the ocean, if the legends were to be believed, was the crowning jewel of Shaden.

There were several cities built into the fjord. Tandrith was built right at the mouth of the fjord, a giant fortress of a city that ran both along the cliffs and over the water, sealing the fjord’s mouth shut, protecting everything behind it from any potential attack. Kuanthur was built into the water itself, a floating city filled with canals, which was responsible for most of Shaden’s food production. Ceamas, the headquarters of Shaden’s production industry, was literally embedded into the fjord’s cliffs, as much cavern and tunnel as it was tiered city. However, Brach could say with confidence that not a single one of them could compare to Myirean, the Imperial City.

As a military resource, the teleportation circles were not built right into Myirean. Instead, they were located on the outskirts, at the point where the steep cliffs started to blend into the jagged mountain peaks. This was the location where all of Shaden’s armies lived and trained, and each circle was a heavily fortified location. However, as was the nature of almost all of Shaden’s cities, the elevation made it impossible to escape the view.

It was not purposeful on Brach’s part that the circle closest to Arryn presented such a perfect vantage point of the Imperial City. However, he could not deny the effect. Myirean lay gleaming before them. Her magnificent silver buildings rose into the air, naturally shaped in harmony with the rising cliff side. Even in the mid-afternoon light, it was possible to see the colored glow of magic that raced through the city, following the natural lines and patterns that had been carved into every building and onto every street.

Myirean rose proudly into the sky from the point where the crystal colored water of the fjord lapped against the stone cliffs. Yet, rather than clinging in close to the cliff that supported it, the entire city arced away from the stone, seeming determined to send itself boldly flying out over the water. It made the highest level of the city look as though it was floating, somehow unsupported by the cliff itself.

And, right at its furthest tip, hanging as though free-floating, were the arches and spires of the Imperial Palace.

Brach lingered for a moment within the circle, giving Astrid time to observe the sight before her. Frankly, he had no objections to lingering himself. Even after so long living within Myirean, he still loved the view. However, the shifting of the guard behind him reminded Brach that he could not linger indefinitely.

“Welcome to Myriean, the Imperial Capital of Shaden.”

Brach could not help his pride. He had rarely left Shaden, but after visiting Arryn’s blocky stone castle, the city’s visual effect struck him all the more. This was what His Majesty was striving for.

And, somehow, bringing this strange, rude woman back to become their Empress would help Kilroth further his goal. “Come. You can see more of the city as we approach.”

It took some time for them to get from the military outskirts towards the city proper, even more so since they had to wind their way along the top of the cliffs. Fortunately, Brach possessed His Majesty’s emblem, which saved them the necessity of having to go through the numerous checkpoints that also stood in their way.

As expected for a military quarter, the area was filled with guards, many of them fully armored in the distinctive silver gear known of Shaden’s military. However, their brightness was no longer quite so astonishing now that they were surrounded by buildings that appeared to have been made from a similar material.

Perhaps it was due to the fact that he had returned to familiar territory, but Brach’s behavior warmed up immensely as they traveled through the city. He nudged his elk closer to Astrid’s horse, and began to smoothly talk about the city as they traveled.

“Each city in Shaden is built with a specific purpose in mind, designed to promote the well-being of the Empire. In addition to being the Imperial Capital, Myirean’s primary purpose is the facilitation of information and the exchange of ideas. It acts as the training ground for all officials, and holds several of the highest decision making courts in the Empire, including the Imperial Palace itself. But, more importantly, all of the Empire’s finest places of research and education are located here.”

Brach covertly glanced at Astrid, gauging how much attention she was paying to what he was saying.
 
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Astrid


At the voice of the dignitary, which Astrid had come to enjoy as much as one would like having their wings pulled, she worked to keep her expression neutral. However she couldn't hide the continuous gleam of curiosity (which she considered morbid in her opinion) that would flicker within hazel-grey eyes. She allowed her attention to be captured, turning her head look upon the treant-like creature for a moment as he spoke to her of the capital.

"And is that why you've suspended it from the cliffs and forced it up into the sky? Because it is considered the most important and therefore most superior of all your cities?" She inquired, head turning back to look at the kingdom that awaited her. The height obviously wouldn't bother Astrid, and was actually one of the things that pleased her about Shaden. It spoke to her of a potential freedom, if a superficial one.

Stormy eyes then swept over the rest of the fjord, taking in the view for the umpteenth time. It certainly was a statement, and one that Astrid couldn't ignore. It evoked a number of emotions within the princess, not all of them good.

"What of your other cities? I notice that there seems to be... sections, meaningful or not."
She asked next, unable to help the interest that had been sparked within her. Not much was known of Shaden, or the cities that laid within it. It was something Astrid hated with a passion, going into something blind.

As a royal, she enjoyed control and knowledge, understanding what she was heading into and what she ought to expect. But Shaden was a blank slate, so to speak. The only thing known to her were their violent manners and harsh ways of conquering. Something she didn't have much time nor pleasure for. She wished that the Arryn Castle library had volumes of information on Shaden as it did other kingdoms, so she could have read up on her new home even if she hadn't found time to do so before.

Yet that wasn't the case, and she was learning about it all blindly, or at least through a veil of biasness that she was failing to keep from falling over her eyes.

"An exchange of ideas..." Astrid then repeated, an amused expression causing her eyebrow to raise, "Any of those ideas involved less violent tactics?"

Hex code: #4b5f81
 

Peregrine

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Astrid’s words caused Brach’s head, primarily focused on watching where they were going, to slowly turn to look at her. There was a trace of irony in his look, which almost bordered on ridicule. “If I did not know better,” he said flatly, voice filled with irascible humor. “I would say your words reveal your ignorance, Princess.”

Due to the fact that they were walking along the top of the cliff, instead of having to rise from its base, they’d already worked their way into the heart of the city. Common people were starting to become a common sight, although they always politely parted ways for the war elk and silver soldiers. Among every small handful, there didn’t seem to be a single common race among them. What’s more, many of them seemed to be of mixed blood, as foreign a sight as Brach’s woody, cat-like face.

“Instead, I shall simply call it ironic.” Brach looked away once more. “To call our methods violent, with what your army did to the trolls last winter.”

Behind them, a rumbling noise began to fill the street. Without looking backwards, Brach and the soldiers sidled slightly to the side. A second later, and a massive, square contraption passed through the street, apparently unpowered if it wasn’t for the glowing blue line it seemed to be following. Inside the carriage, people were standing, clinging to the railing, or seated side by side on wooden benches.

“Also, no, Myriean was not built this way to prove superiority. It was built this way to encourage ambition. To remind everyone, whether they live in the city, beside it, or below it on the water, that nothing is ever impossible, and something being out of reach is only a matter of perspective.”

The streets of Myriean were neither flat nor straight. Instead, they rolled and wound, seeming to create an unknown pattern. From above, one might recognize their layout as similar to the other magical runes that covered so much of Shaden’s architecture. The tall buildings, for once, hid the view of the long fjord from sight, but it was still just possible to hear the rush of the water under the hum of civilization that filled the city.

“Of course, that’s the official reason given by the city’s architect,” Brach continued, his tone unexpectedly changing from tour guide to someone telling a secret. It was impossible for the information to really be a secret, considering the distance between them and the noise that surrounded them. Brach was also still behaving in too aloof a manner to be truly playful, uncertain how to behave around the woman next to him, or even fully understanding his own feelings towards her. “I suspect it was also the most beautiful and tasteful of the designs His Imperial Majesty received when the city was first being proposed.

“The other cities, although they still have their own charm, are built to different standards. While beauty elevates the mind and promotes creativity, it can get in the way of more practical affairs.”

The buildings on the left side of the street suddenly gave way to an open-air market, which was filled to the brim with colorful tents. Under each tent, goods were presented on a table, which people casually gathered around. Occasionally, people would exchange small coins, and leave with some of the goods. Right at the front of the collection of tents, was a particularly large tent which was showing collections of vividly colored fruits, in all shapes and sizes.

Brach seemed to take note of the stand, and gestured to it casually as he continued to speak.

“Kuanthur, for instance, is our agricultural city, and was built on the water itself due to the limited amount of flat land Shaden possesses. It is primarily made out of a… material similar to non-breakable glass, which allows the sunlight to penetrate into even the underwater portions of the city. It’s design is intended to create a rich, year round growing season, regardless of weather. Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. As part treant, I cannot help but find myself more drawn to a city known for its plant life, rather than one known for its sky.”

Brach glanced over at Astrid’s wings, which still occasionally fluttered behind her as she rode. “Given your own...traits, I am sure you will find Myriean as suited to your tastes as His Majesty does.”
 
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Viverescribere

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Astrid


The look that the princess shot the dignitary could only be described as disgusted incredulousness. Her wings quivered with a fury that she reined in, keeping it under control, and therefore the only sign to her frustration toward the comment. The Trolls and the Fairies had had a history as long as anything, both sides claiming two different versions of why the animosity started.

The Trolls claimed that Fairies coerced them into a trade deal that turned out unfavourable to the Trolls, forcing them to dig and search for diamonds and other underground jewels in which they wouldn't be allowed to rest until they had reached a specific quota. The Fairies, however, knew that it was because a group of Trolls would hunt for Fairies in the night, snatching them from their beds, to pluck their wings from their backs for so-called medicinal purposes, where they would be ground up to put into pastes or creams. When justice was demanded for those who had died or were extremely incapacitated afterwards, the Troll Emperor refused to do anything.

Ever since then, a history had developed between the two Kingdoms, with plenty of wrongs being committed. Of course it feeling that Arryn had suffered more than Trylla.

"That-- that is completely different." Her eyes turned away from the dignitary and she felt obliged to refuse to look at him afterwards, infuriated as she was. "You can't go comparing the two. Our battles-- you are that violent with everyone."

Astrid's hands had tightened a little on her reins, causing her horse to throw its head as it followed obediently along with the other animals it could see. Her tongue clicked, but not in response to the animal, but more in her displeasure at the comment that had been made. Still silently seething.

However she listened to what he had to say, while refusing to look in his direction again. Fairies were rather stubborn creatures, after all. Her wings continued to shiver, a larger tremor coming over them once in while. A result of inactivity, but also a betrayal of her pent up emotion.

She wished to not care for his further explanations of the kingdom, but her natural curiosity and interest to learn more had gotten the better of her. So she listened with her head turned away, allowing her eyes to roam over the streets and people that passed them by. Her gaze peered peculiarly at the faces and appearances at those who passed. Each creature seemed to have their own unique identifications, their own special marking or form which was different all to themselves. Of course fairy wings were similar in that sense. Not one person had the same line of vein running in the same way, or the same shade of wing - quite like a fingerprint. Yet these... beings, were completely and utterly unique.

At Brach's next words, however, the princess turned her head further again to look at the seemingly dominate city. Her eyes narrowed slightly against the remaining glare of the sun, finally conceding and raising a hand to shield her eyes against the rays. There wasn't much she could gather from his comments, however it had Astrid's mind whirling.

Did this Emperor simply enjoy views and feeling as though he was truly lording over everyone from his position in the furthest city in the tallest building in the furthest reaching room? Or was this an inkling toward the unknown Emperor of Shaden? Did he have bodily features that meant he was better suited for the skies?

Did her betrothed have wings too?

"So long as he doesn't keep me caged up within the walls with the prospect of using said traits being so tantalisingly near yet so far... then I'm sure we'll be fine." She murmured back, hand lowering to return to the reins.

Hex code: #4b5f81
 
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Peregrine

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Astrid’s reaction earned nothing but a small, cat-like smirk from Brach. Completely different, yes. After all, the Shaden empire never killed non-combatants. But there was no point in continuing the conversation. It was always easier to make judgements when observing from the outside.

Besides, Brach was fully aware of the reputation that Shaden had in all the surrounding kingdoms and city-states. Their reputation was irrelevant to His Majesty’s goals, so no one had ever bothered to try and correct it. There was no reason Astrid would be willing to see herself and her beloved hometown compared to the ‘evil empire’.

The speed of their mounts, and the way the crowds easily parted for the small military convoy, meant that they made quick progress. The palace was growing larger and larger in front of them, before the group finally came to a halt in front of the silver energy shield that surrounded the palace. On the other side, delicate gardens surrounded a magnificent silver and blue palace, which looked as though it was only moments away from blending in to the cerulean shade of the sky.

Normally, visitors to the palace would need to be inspected before they could receive a runestone that would allow them to pass through the shield into the palace. However, Brach, as a member of staff, had a permanent runestone in his position. As he approached the shield, it trembled slightly in front of him, before gradually parting open like a curtain gently swept to the side.

The other guards did not attempt to follow, instead watching Brach lead Astrid into the palace. Behind their helmets, it was possible to see traces of admiration and awe in their eyes as they stared at the palace.

“His Majesty will have to be the one to issue you a runestone,” Brach replied. “Until then, please remain close to me. Otherwise, you will be treated as an intruder.”

Myriean itself had already been a magnificent sight, filled with silver buildings, gardens that somewhere between carefully tended and naturally wild, well clothed people, and the glowing light of magic that seemed to fill the entire country. However, it was incomparable to the palace.

It acted as a beacon for the entire city, elevated slightly off the ground on a rocky protrusion so that it could be visible from anywhere within the city. The path from the remainder of Myriean was lined with a mysterious blue stone, which created a glowing ribbon that led to the main palace. The palace itself then climbed gradually upward, full of countless rooms and towers and pathways and roads, almost looking like a city in miniature. It overlooked the gardens, which flowed with water that would, moments later, tumble off the edge of the city and cascade down into the bay far below.

At the very top of the artificial mountain rested a blue and gold tower, which shimmered with magical light. The symbol of a dragon climbed up the tower’s side, overlooking the entire palace with glowing eyes.

A trace of nervousness that Brach hadn’t even realized he’d been holding suddenly relaxed, causing him to take a slow, comfortable breath. He’d completed his duty, and brought Astrid back to the royal palace. From here on, things were back in the hands of His Imperial Majesty, and there was no safer place for them to be.

As for Brach, he had his own matters to attend to. Who knew what manner of chaos the servants had gotten into in the few days he’d been gone?

“You’ve had a long journey, Your Majesty,” Brach said, the relief gentling his voice into a rumbling purr. “Allow me to escort you to your future chambers, where you may rest and recover before your meeting with the Emperor.”
 

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Astrid


It truly wasn't soon enough to escape the dignitary's presence. Her escort for the journey had been downright rude and obnoxious and Astrid simply couldn't abide it. The unintelligent comment he made regarding their battles with the Trolls had only cemented her beliefs that the people of Shaden were clearly too busy and occupied with their own violent ways to bother learning the histories of the kingdoms they were surrounded by or looked to conquer.

It also continued to irk her that this kingdom continued to leave her in awe. She didn't want to like anything about this empire, considering it had plucked her from her home with no reason whatsoever and seeing what they had done to the Brownies and other kingdoms. Astrid could think of nothing worse than being associated with this barbaric land and it's odd, eccentric and cruel ways. Yet she was a bride-to-be to the creature that ruled it all.

It was all so beautiful and futuristic here and Astrid didn't want it to be so stunning. She wanted a reason to hate it, yet there was none. As she saw the water tumbling over the edge of the gardens, she wondered what it would be like to fly close enough to feel the spray on her face. When she saw the intricate art of the dragon on the one tower, she imagined hovering near enough to study the patterns and ways in which it was designed. There was so much she imagined doing in this kingdom, but she feared with the dictator it had at the helm, if she would be able to do what she wanted or see anything.

Her room was equally as exquisite. Plush and luxurious and warm. It was begrudgingly pleasing, for Astrid, to have the main colour of her room be blue. As it reflected the kingdom in which she had just left. The silver reminding her of the lower lying clouds she would fly through during her free time. Gold accents were dotted around, but subtly and tastefully. In the piping of the throw pillows, on the tassels of the curtains, the frame of the mirror on the vanity table in the corner. A soft, musical lilt came from the jewels that dangled from chandeliers above her head, encouraged in their dance by the soft breeze that floated in from the open balcony door.

The bed, suffocating in throw pillows, it seemed, waited for her in the far left of the room and Astrid was mildly tempted simply to answer its call and nap. The events of the day, and even the emotional turmoil of the day before, truly were beginning to catch up on her now she was alone and in Shaden. But her curiosity, a trait she found she could never quench, had her feet moving throughout the bedroom.... which was large, larger thank anything experienced back at the Arryn castle.

The walls seemed to shimmer, looking as if they were a shade of silver one moment before another step forward made them appear blue. Love seats were station across from each other, a small table lowered between them both. This little arrangement was stationed on the other side of the room, with a white table, accented with gold, lingered in the centre of the room with a transparent blue vase proudly displaying a bouquet of flowers. The fairy royal had to wonder if this was how to room would have been set up for anyone, or if the bouquet was solely for her presence. Her nose wrinkled at the idea of her betrothed, or anyone in the castle for that matter, trying to win brownie points by giving her flowers.

There were windows, high and tall, dotted evenly along the walls. The curtains were pulled back to offer her a view of the gardens below and the dragon tower to her left, a sight she would come back to later, once she was done exploring.

There was as a bath waiting for her, it seemed, as she stepped through a door to a separate part of the room. The walls were sleek, silver with a piping of blue halfway in a vertical line. The walls seemed to be made out of brick, but were light, like the thin decorative clay tiles that were used to adorn parts of the Arryn castle throne room. Only these weren't as rough.

Her brow furrowed at the sight of the tub, and the basin for that matter, as she saw circles carved into the edge of the washing items. Astrid reached out to brush her fingers over the design, feeling the soft stone underneath and nothing else. No ridges to suggest it really had been carved into stone. Hands then dipped under the edge, where a slight indent had been made, only for the fairy to yank her hands back and jump backwards in her sharp experience of fear as water began to pitter down. Her hands were tightly pulled to her chest as she stared at where the water had just appeared from. It had halted as soon as her hands had been pulled away, leaving her to wonder if she had simply imagined the experience. However, upon a second try, droplets fell onto her face as she lightly splashed herself in yet another reaction to the water magically swirling down from the edge.

Swallowing thickly, she looked back to the bath and then the basin, and then back to the bath. The bath itself was, if she had to confess, something she had always wanted. She had had one in her room upon a visit to the Siren kingdom of Canosa. A clawfoot tub which stood on its own near the one corner of the room. A small stand was beside it, graciously beholding a set of fluffy looking silver towels ready for Astrid to use. The claws on the bath were not the usual kind, however, looking more monstrous than usual, with actual claws in silver being the decoration. She crouched down slightly to investigate further, fingers reaching out to brush over the individual fingers which kept the tub suspended, finger this time lightly bumping up and down over the ridges that were present.

With her tour done, Astrid could no longer resist the pull of the warm water that continued to lightly steam in the carved white tub. The young fairy royal moved to shut the door, but not lock it, and disrobed. Removing shirts, or upper body clothing items in general, were a nuisance without help, but eventually she managed it.

Clothes were dropped to the floor, and Astrid tentatively lowered herself into the water. A sigh of relief breathed past her lips as she sank back, shifting slightly to accommodate for her wings, before her head tipped back to rest against the top edge of the bath. Her eyes closed and her arms moved up to rest on the side edges of the tub. It was incredibly quiet, and Astrid was incredibly pleased, a soft hum escaping her as she focused on her muscles relaxing with each moment she remained in the bath.

Hex code: #4b5f81
 
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Brach and the other servants of the Imperial Palace were true to their promise of giving Astrid time to rest. It was almost exactly two hours later when an echoing knock sounded on the door to Astrid’s new quarters.

Nothing answered the knock but silence.

A moment later, the knock sounded again, accompanied by a high-pitched, gentle woman’s voice. “Your Highness-Majesty? May I enter?”

Once again, the only response that came was silence.

Slowly, as though waiting for some trap, the door swung open inch by inch. Eventually, the head of a being poked its way around the door, neon green eyes wide with a trace of nervousness.

The face was incredibly fearsome. Hairless and completely covered in black scales, it was covered in a pair of green eyes large enough that they covered almost the entire width of the person’s face, and a mouth just as wide across as the eyes. When the visitor’s mouth opened, it revealed jagged teeth like a shark, and a pitch black tongue.

However, for all the fearsomeness of the intruding face, her eyes were full of gentleness as they landed on the bed, which was clearly occupied by a blanket-covered mound.

Taking a deep breath, the woman withdrew her head, before opening the door wide enough to admit both the woman and a fabric colored trolley behind her. It was filled with several rolls of silk, in a variety of colors, predominantly in various shades of blue.

As for the woman herself, she was wearing a neat, green button-up dress, which rode loose enough around her body that it wouldn’t rub over the scales that covered the rest of her body. Occasionally, a shark’s tail would peek out from under the long hem of her dress. The hand that closed the door moved carefully, lest the needle-like nails that emerged from the tips of her fingers scratch the frame.

Leaving the fabric trolley near the door, the black-scaled woman moved closer to the bed, peering into the pile of blankets.

“Aw, you look so tired, my lady.” For all the angular planes of her face, the sharp scales and jagged, shark-like teeth, the woman spoke with the sweetness of a songbird, her voice gentle and crooning. “Would you like me to come back later?”
 

Viverescribere

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Astrid


It would be incorrect for Astrid to claim that it had taken her an age to finally fallen asleep, as much as it would be a lie to say she had an awful sleep in the bed that had been provided to her. It had been like sleeping on a cloud, not that even she knew what that was like. Fluffy and light and weightless. The blankets were heavy over her and weighed her down, but instead of causing her to feel claustrophobic, it made Astrid feel secure and safe. Her head had become buried within the mountain of throw pillows that were stationed on the bed, some of which having fallen to the floor by the time the seamstress arrived.

Usually, the first knock would have roused Astrid. But after the events of the past twenty-four hours, the royal was exhausted. Positively drained, she had fallen into a deeper slumber than usual and was willing to remain in it for the rest of the day.

However she was interrupted by the gentle sweetness that spoke so close to her side. Her face, hidden within the pillows since she had rolled onto her front in her sleep, wrinkled into a disgruntled expression of one clearly not wanting to wake up or be disturbed. Her nose had scrunched up and her eyes squeezed shut as toes pointed in her stretch. Her mind soon caught up with what was being said and what it all meant, leaving her to twist around with both hands rubbing at her eyes.

"No, no. No need. I'm assuming that His Majesty is waiting--" Astrid cut off with a yell as her eyes opened and her gaze fell onto the creature before her.

The fairy royal shoved herself away, rolling and tangling further into the heavy blanket in which she had taken so much comfort in a moment ago. It wasn't long until she had accidentally catapulted herself so far away that she was slipping off the other edge of the bed to come crashing down. Her legs remained on the bed, pelvis and hips balancing right on the edge with her shoulders and head hitting the ground. Her wings, squashed and uncomfortably so within the blanket, pressed painfully into her back. Not even the soft padding of the blanket could detract from the ache that came from the nodules in which her wings protruded from.

"For fu--" Sharply, Astrid cut herself off before the swear could escape her lips, arms struggling against the confines of the blanket she had become so well trapped in.


Hex code: #4b5f81
 
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