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.
"You are correct," Kilroth agreed easily enough. "I have never been married before."

He had ruled as the emperor of Shaden since the moment he'd dug out a kingdom from within this fjord, and nearly a millennium had passed since that day. Yet, never once had there been a figure who had swayed his heart.

He'd never before seen the purpose of an Empress. Not until the day he'd caught that faint glimpse of Astrid's presence on that battlefield, and the conclusion of his dream had suddenly unfurled before his mind's eye.

Now it was simply time to see if it could become reality. This wedding would be the first step.

Good impressions... Everyone in the palace was simply thrilled to see him getting married. For those who worked close with him, there was no room for doubt on decisions that he made this firmly. Even if they didn't understand why he'd suddenly selected a foreign woman from a separate kingdom, a kingdom they were at war with, they would still have faith that they simply hadn't seen or understood his plan yet.

And it was true.

For the citizens, there had never been any reason for their trust in him to waver. If Astrid truly hadn't wanted the wedding, he would have found a way for it to work.

But if she was willing to accept things... it would simplify matters.

The sight of the sudden spark of passion forming within her eyes caused a smile to momentarily flicker across Kilroth's face. Her expression stabilized him. From those two strange moments of something that had almost bordered on intimacy between them, it had now gone back into familiar territory. She was testing him, and there was nothing Kilroth was more familiar with than reacting to those who sought to see just how far they could push the boundaries.

"I fear you'll need me for a fitting before that date," Kilroth said, his words accompanied by a faint laugh. "But if you truly wish to keep the details of the wedding a secret, just tell Minesh. I'm sure he'll find the opportunity to exclude me quite entertaining." The thought of the unnatural smile that would spread across the elf's normally sweet and gentle face at that kind of order was enough to cause Kilroth to chuckle slightly again.

"You'll have to be careful the treasury reports don't reach me as well," Kilroth continued, finding himself growing more amused at this thought exercise of what it would take for a secret of this scale to be kept from him. "And make sure that the servants aren't gossiping about it in earshot of me. It'll be quite the trick. You'll need to get a lot of people to help you to pull it off successfully."

This was actually starting to seem like a great way to better integrate Astrid into the palace.
 
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Viverescribere

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Astrid



Despite herself, and the argument they had had merely moments ago, Astrid found herself incapable of keeping the smirk from her face. As he continued to list the things that she would have to ensure didn't reach him, the more she considered actually playing up to the game she unwittingly put forward in the first place.

"Are you saying that they don't just have all your measurements by this point? Surely it's quite impossible to cut you a suit incorrectly." She quipped back, stepping forward to stand besides the armchair she once occupied, leaning into it and cocking her hip outwards as her arms folded across her chest, "I say you wouldn't even need a fitting, not if your tailors are as fine as your seamstresses are."

If there was one person she had become somewhat fond of, it was Rioka. To a point she had already decided that the seamstress would be the one to design and create her wedding gown. Not without a few requests and discussions first.

"The report will be difficult, I will concede that. But the servants will be easy enough. As much as you are... not favoured outside of your Empire, only a fool would deny how loved you are within it. If I were to tell them to hush because it was a surprise for you and I wished to make it special for you... I have no doubt that the only thing you would hear should you walk past any of them would be giggles and muted excitement."

As her words faded on the air, the fairy hesitated at the jovial atmosphere she had helped build and maintain. Prior to their argument, she would have been amenable to it and perhaps even sought to stay and continue it. However, she couldn't forget the anger and frustration she felt at her latest findings, at the revelation of him already searching for his next victim. It was even more infuriating to recall his challenge for her to remain passive, as that was what would hinder whatever masterplan he had with her at the forefront. She was not a woman to sit like a pretty porcelain doll. If she was, then perhaps she wouldn't have ended up in the mess she found herself in, as she would have never been on the battlefield.

Not that Astrid knew that little detail.

She still had no idea behind Kilroth's decision to bring her to Shaden and make her his wife. She was as lost as his department Heads and any of his advisors, including Brach. She had to wonder how big a deal it was, what he knew about her that she did not. For him to have never married before and to break that streak now, for some fairy in some average kingdom with little purpose or any immense power...

"...What plans do you have that involve me, Kilroth?" Astrid finally murmured, a calmness settling like a weighted blanket over her shoulders as she was unable to bury the curiosity that sparked at his mention of her so-called potential. "What do I hold that you are hoping to tap into?"
 
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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.
As Astrid's eyes seemed to glimmer with enthusiasm at the thought of successfully pulling off this 'prank' of secrecy, Kilroth let out a faint chuckle once more. The flame of passion that seemed to burn in her eyes was so vivid in this moment, there was no way he could turn her down. And why should he? Such requests were well within her right as the future Empress. Instead of refusing her, it was all but his royal duty to support her. Kilroth's smile grew slightly wider.

"Very well," he agreed, good humor in his voice. "I look forward to seeing if you can actually pull it off."

Perhaps his words had been too final. The moment he spoke, the slight warmth in the air seemed to cool. Astrid's fingers gripped the back of the chair tightly, and her eyes seemed to be staring out past him. Or perhaps trying to look right through him.

"Nothing more than what I've already told you."

This was settling back into familiar territory. Conversations he'd anticipated and mapped out in his head. So much more familiar, yet so much less satisfying, than the unexpected banter that had arisen from them only moments before.

"My goals with Shaden are simple. Create a single, united community for every living being. But the actual execution of such simple words is complicated beyond measure. All of my choices are made for that one ambition. And that includes bringing you here."

For half a second, his fingers drummed an idle beat out on the edge of the table. Then he offered her a gentle smile, head shaking slightly. "I know you doubt me, or perhaps even think me foolish for it, but I do believe you are one of the most capable people to assist me in reaching that goal. Right now, what I want most is for you to grow and develop yourself as Shaden's future Empress. Do whatever that means to you. Learn, observe, question, argue. If I'm fortunate, we'll get the chance to rehash this question when the motive behind it changes from 'what do I want from you' to 'how can you best support Shaden and it's people.'"
 

Viverescribere

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Astrid


"I know my duty, Kilroth," she was quick to pounce on his wording, brow furrowing at the prospect of anyone - least of all her betrothed - thinking that she would go out of her way to harm the people she would come to rule some day, "I already want to support and do the best for Shaden and its people."

Astrid paused for a few heartbeats, lips parting to begin speaking again only to hesitate as she considered her words and then pressed forward, "However, you must understand that given my experiences of Shaden, what I have witnessed, what other kingdoms have witnessed and our previous conversation... I am simply... concerned about what you would have me do in order to secure those best interests."

His words, those words that had alerted her to something not being as it potentially ought to be, still rang clear in her mind. Most importantly, Kilroth saying: You have the capability to do things that no one else in this world is able. Not even me.

"Or, should I say, I'm concerned about what you're hoping I'll do after being here long enough."

She allowed the words to hang in the air, unsure how to continue but not wanting to if the words would just be meaningless. She had been straight to the point, blunt and honest. She hadn't skirted around the issue, which is something she had come to learn her betrothed never did. Thus, Astrid wasn't sure what else there was to say.

Clearing her throat, she straightened from where she stood against the armchair and clasped her hands behind her back. Her gaze flickered to the entryway before returning to Kilroth, inclining her head towards him, "I will leave you be. Have a good afternoon, Kilroth."

She would leave without collecting another book as was her intention; there were other things on her mind to consider without throwing the history of the empire into the mix. She would also leave without returning her previous piece of literature, the thick and leather-clad volume sat on the edge of the desk that Kilroth was originally working at.
 
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Peregrine

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Genres
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.
Kilroth's smile in response to Astrid's comment was peaceful. It was abundantly clear from their conversation thus far that the Emperor had no intention of giving her a straight answer. Secrets were a powerful weapon, but only so long as they remained a secret. For now, he wanted her to wonder. He wanted her to wonder so that she'd act, dig, explore. Her passion would be the part to determine their future.

They held eye contact for several long moments, and Kilroth could practically see the gears turning in her head. Wondering if there was any way of actually getting a response from him. Wondering if it was worth the frustration such an effort would require. Wondering what he wasn’t telling her.

Outside of intentionally leaving her wondering, there was one other reason Kilroth kept his thoughts to himself. It was simply because his thoughts didn't matter. Only hers did. Because only she could impact her own choices.

Right now, she chose to leave.

Kilroth silently watched her departing back, before calling out to her retreating figure as she stepped outside the bounds of the little alcove. "You'll always get to make your own decisions, Astrid." Kilroth's voice was calm, placating. Definitely not apologetic, but at least conciliating. "What matters most is what you choose. Don't forget that."

He earned no response for such useless words, as expected.

Laughing slightly to himself, Kilroth turned his attention back to the piles of documents. He still had several hours worth of research to do.



Two days past. The sun had already passed its zenith and was descending towards the horizon, staining the white towers of the Imperial Palace a pearlescent gold.

The grandness of the Imperial Palace was not just due to the fact that it acted as Kilroth’s home. It was also because the structure served as the heart of the Empire of Shaden. All of the departments had offices within this building, and information constantly flowed in and out of its halls. Decisions that determined the future of countless people were made in its meeting rooms, born from the thoughts and conversations of hundreds of individuals.

One such individual was currently seated at a large wooden desk. Countless scrolls of paper were half spread in front of him, creating piles that seemed only moments away from toppling. Yet Oren-Apricis moved his long fingers through them with patient and familiar ease.

The young head of the Department of Research and Development paused for a moment, gently massaging around the bone antlers that rose from the crown of his head. It would likely come as a surprise to no one that the vast majority of his job revolved around paperwork. Despite the vast and numerous fascinating projects beneath his supervision that were under development, the joy of experimentation and discovery was left to the working teams themselves. Instead, Oren’s job was to watch from the clouds, making sure that the projects were moving in the correct direction, that the people who guided them were staying focused on each development project’s goal, and that the department’s resources were properly allocated to the most critical tasks.

It was a job that many might find boring, being so close to the next grand discovery, yet also unable to actually touch it. But Oren remained focused and dedicated, jotting a few notes down on a separate scroll before moving on to the next document. Next week’s schedule was rapidly filling up.

Mid-stroke Oren paused, glancing at three pieces of paper that had been rolled up and placed into a small glass vase on the side of his desk. His eyes fluttered closed for a moment, before a huff slowly flowed out his nose.

It had been two weeks since Her Majesty Astrid had arrived in Shaden. And despite the great enthusiasm with which Kilroth had introduced her to the directors on the first day of her arrival, she had done little these past two weeks beyond wandering the palace and lingering within her room. Oren had been excited at first with the prospect of welcoming her into the department. He’d spent the day after she had accepted his invitation making preparations for her arrival. It was doubtful that Her Majesty would actually spend any of this visit doing meaningful work for the Department. After all, he doubted she understood any of the creative nuances that went into magical engineering and technology, considering that she came from a kingdom that left brownies to weave clothes on single-person looms.

Still, he had found three projects that just might benefit from the presence of a complete outsider to the system, and carefully re-allocated the assignment of tasks so that one of his division managers would be free to act as her tour guide for her first few weeks on the job.

Yet, two weeks had now passed, and she remained mysteriously absent. Emperor Kilroth had demanded patience from his Directors, expecting them to move at the pace of the Empress Consort. Nonetheless, Oren found himself growing weary with the delay. The project he had selected were moving beyond the pre-development phase, and he was disinclined to let his work on the selection go to waste.

Quietly ringing a silver bell that sat next to his desk, Oren got to his feet, long green hair cascading back over his shoulders as he stood. If the Empress was not coming to him, he would simply have to go to her.
 
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Viverescribere

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Astrid


The Empress Consort had been delaying her eventual visit to the Department of Research and Development. Not because she wanted to spite Kilroth or the Department Head, but rather because she felt inadequately prepared. The history books she had spent days pouring over only told her so much - and there were so many of them. Deep down, the fairy knew that actually attending her brief position at the Department would help her in more ways than books ever would... but there was another problem. She was nervous.

There seemed to be so much magic and technology woven in together that she was unable to comprehend it. With each day that passed and the more she saw, the less confident she felt. Her kingdom had little to do with technology, or even magic. The brownies wove their clothes and sheets and anything else they needed. Magic was seeped into the herbs and broths brewed for healing. But they had nothing, absolutely nothing, on what Shaden saw from day to day. Astrid doubted that her kingdom would ever accomplish what Shaden now saw as old news a century ago.

Yet... it was also one of the things that also turned her head. In that macabre sort of way that made her fear it yet also intrigued her so. However, everytime she caught herself wondering what her kingdom, her people, would be like if they had half the technological advances that Shaden did, Astrid withdrew back into herself.

She didn't need to think positively about Shaden, or positively about what it would be like to bring her kingdom into the fold. They would have the technology, yes. They would have good harvests, yes. They would have better homes and clothing and--

No. She was doing it again.

Astrid constantly had to reminder herself that to bring Arryn into the fold of Shaden's empire was not, and would never be, a positive. How many good things did it take to make it worth giving up, what she believed to be, free will?

Blinking a handful of times, the fairy realised she had drifted off with her tangent thoughts and lowered her paintbrush from where it hovered in the air. She rested it on the table, ensuring the brush end was over the palette on the table beside her. She swept strands of her unruly red mane from her face, huffing but not sure whether in irritation at her hair or the fact that she was still debating internally with herself.

"Ma'am," the cat-faced maid was back, present in the doorway of the balcony with her head bowed with her chin almost touching her chest before it rose again. At least there was one thing Astrid had become somewhat accustomed too - the peculiar appearances of Shaden's people. "...Oren-Apricis is here to see you. He is in your lounge space. Shall I tell him you're occupied?"

The Empress Consort frowned momentarily, standing and wiping her fingers on a spare rag that she had tucked into the pocket of her painting apron, casting her mind back to the meetings she had had in the past and those she had been introduced to. The name was familiar, and she was certain that no one would just come to her if they hadn't already met her. Unless they were really that brazen.

Then it clicked and her frown shifted, "Department Head. Research and.... and... Development! Research and Development--" Astrid had a brief moment of self-smugness as she recalled the name correctly before it dawned on her why he was probably visiting. She then exhaled softly through her nose, eyes fluttering closed as she took a moment.

"No... no. I will be through now. Make sure he is comfortable, yes? I-- Whatever it is... that is custom." She finished feebly, her uncertainty showing once more. It wasn't as if she hosted often enough to know what the customs were - what was offered, what was shared, and so on. She allowed the maid to do as she saw fit while she quickly freshened up, attempting to wipe as much of the paint off her fingers (and, admittedly, face, neck and arms) as possible.

Eventually, the Empress Consort stepped through into the lounge area of her suite and provided the usual head bow that was custom (something she was finally getting used to). "Oren-Apricis. It's a pleasure to meet you again. I apologise for keeping you, I... hadn't expected your company."
 
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Peregrine

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  2. No Preferences
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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.
Settled in the Empress' waiting room on a comfortable, single person chair, a small plate of tea and refreshments half-consumed in front of him, Oren wasted none of the time that the Empress left him with while he waited. Another scroll lay on the table before him, his pen ceaselessly darting back and forth as he wrote, only occasionally pausing to consult a book that lay open next to it.

However, the moment the faint sound of the door opening echoed around the room Oren had rolled up the scroll and closed the book, depositing all remnants of his work into a large pocket on his overcoat. They vanished from sight and he stood just in time for him to greet Astrid as she walked into the room.

"Oren-Apricis, Head of the Department of Research and Development, plant mystic and rune scholar, greets Her Majesty the Empress Consort." The young man lowered his head, still seated on the armchair, which ensured that even the tips of his antlers bowed lower than Astrid's head as his chin dipped. "It should be me apologizing to you for visiting before my presence was requested."

Proper formalities observed, Oren lifted his head, offering Astrid a soft smile. His gaze very politely did not linger on the faint streak of paint that lingered on her hand. "I hope I did not intrude."
 

Viverescribere

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Astrid



"I think we could end up going round in circles regarding who should be apologising to who," Astrid smiled politely, motioning for him to sit again as she moved around to sit in the armchair opposite him. She crossed her legs at the knees and hooked her interlocked fingers around the top one, until the one without the paint streak moved to cover the hand that did.

She remained silent as the cat-faced maid replaced the refreshments and topped up their tea, bringing a new cup for Astrid. Only when they were alone again did the fairy continue: "To answer you, you did not intrude. I was merely painting. Something I enjoy and do to... pass the time." Pausing again, Astrid's thumb gently tapped against the top of her other hand as she formulated the words in her mind before speaking them aloud.

"However, going back to the topic of apologies... I am sorry I haven't been to see you sooner, Oren-Apricis." The Empress-Consort forced herself to keep his gaze, knowing to look away would be both rude and cowardly; unbecoming of a ruler. "I must admit, I wished to be prepared before I stepped into your department so tried to do some research in the library. I clearly underestimated the amount of history books." She chuckled softly, but there was a edge of nervousness to the noise. As the last echoes of her faint laughter faded to silence, she hesitated, studying him momentarily, "I had hoped to make a good impression by coming prepared and understanding what accomplishments had been achieved thus far. I see now that my attempts to do so have in fact done the opposite and have probably not helped either of us in the long term."
 
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Peregrine

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Genres
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.
Oren nodded along politely as Astrid spoke, his gaze expressing sympathy for her predicament. She'd just been brought to a completely foreign place, and from what the department head had heard of the outside world, most of the kingdoms and nations were still positively backwards when it came to their understanding of and appreciation for the complexities of magical abilities. How hard must it be for someone to suddenly adapt to all Shaden had to offer?

But, of course, they all wore political masks. Even Oren's gentle expression was the same, utterly burying his frustration that they even had to be having this conversation in the first place.

But, any good Director would know the importance of the right connections. He earned his place through an exemplary display of understanding regarding rune magic. He held his place, held his ground in his constant war against the Department of Treasury, managed the various egos that worked under him, who were all convinced that they were on the verge of the next discovery that would revolutionize the Empire, through the connections he had made, the alliances he had formed, and the trust of the Emperor.

Judging by the attitude shown by Emperor Kilroth, the rise of the Empress Consort was all but certain. And, like the rest of the Directors, Oren-Apricis was aiming to get her on his side.

"I am sure no one would question your dedication, Your Majesty," Oren began, his voice gentle and methodical. "The Emperor has instructed us to help you move at your pace. If that means you wish to continue your research before joining us, I will naturally do my best to assist. However..."

Oren lifted his gaze, ruby-red eyes locking on to the Empress' own. Passion seemed to glow within his eyes, and the intensity of his voice rose slightly as well. "If you will forgive me for making presumptions, when you were given the opportunity to choose between Shaden's departments, I don't think you chose Research and Development because you wanted an opportunity to learn about Shaden's past. If it were me... I would have chosen it because I was curious about Shaden's potential.

"Innovation doesn't require one to be knowledgeable about what already exists. Often, the most valuable ideas arise from those who are willing to abandon what has 'always' been done. Instead, it takes curiosity, cooperation, exploration, the kind of person who sees challenges as opportunities and is ready to take action when the moment comes. That seems like the kind of person you are to me, Your Majesty. And that's why the Department of Research and Development is eagerly awaiting your arrival."
 

Viverescribere

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Astrid



Perhaps it was her nerves. Perhaps it was her continued feeling of loneliness. Perhaps it was just her own stubbornness. Either way, Astrid found herself not truly appreciating the words of the Department Head.

That seems like the kind of person you are to me, Your Majesty.

She felt herself prickling at that, albeit not showing it and keeping her expression neutral and passive as her eyes remained on the person opposite her. How could he dare to assume that he knew what kind of person she was when he had only seen her in one meeting? A meeting that hadn't allowed her to express her true person whatsoever? Granted, they haven't had as many meetings as they probably would have if she hadn't been trying to learn the history and recent accomplishments of the Empire... but Astrid was unappreciative nonetheless.

Thinking about it further, perhaps it stemmed from the fact that so far, since her arrival in the Empire, everyone was assuming what kind of person she would be. Kilroth assumed she behaved in ways to show her dislike for their arrangement. Kilroth seemed to think she would help him eventually. Rioka apologised for her birth beyond the Empire as if Astrid had always been unhappy with that notion. And now Oren speaking about her as if he knew her.

In the week or two that she had been in the Empire, there was not one person that Astrid felt that she could talk to. While Rioka was a sweet creature and happy to talk fashion and about all the pretty things in the world, and her cat-like maid was a constant presence... Astrid was lonely. There was no one she could talk to without the disturbing concern that it would get back to Kilroth eventually. There was no one whose company she truly felt relaxed in.

The future Empress Consort rose to her feet, the sudden weight of her thoughts feeling heavy on her chest. She took a few steps to walk behind the back of her chair, approaching the set of windows that provided the stunning view of the kingdom below, along with the tower that overshadowed the one she was in. Her eyes lingered on it, unable to help but suddenly feel as if she was truly being watched by her betrothed at all times.

"And what makes you think you know the kind of person I am, Oren-Apricis?" Astrid eventually murmured, eyes remaining on the dragon tower, "This is only our second meeting in as many weeks - yes, albeit a fault of my own - and yet you speak about the sort of person you believe me to be. Curious, taking initiative, taking action, eager to cooperate and desperate to explore." Her body partially turned so her head could also do so and her eyes could fix onto him.

"Yet everything I have done so far has suggested otherwise - except, perhaps, curiosity and dedication due to my attempts to learn your history first. So please explain, I am going to be curious again, what exactly is it that makes you think you know the kind of person I, your Empress Consort, is?"
 

Peregrine

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On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
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  1. Primarily Prefer Male
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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.
Astrid's lack of response weighed down like a stifling blanket, filling the room with a deadened silence. Waiting for her reaction was worse than waiting for water to boil, everything put on pause until the moment arrived.

Oren waited, one thumb rubbing slowly against the back of another in a quiet, comforting tick. That was the power of the one who held initiative in the conversation, the ability to bring time to a crawl, and put everything else on hold until they were ready to continue. Pushing would get him nowhere.

Yet, when Astrid finally responded, Oren couldn't help but twitch a brow. Perhaps he had spent too long with entrepreneurs and researchers to have a good judge on the matter, but this was the first time he had met someone who wasn't happy to be described as curious and innovative.

Or perhaps she was simply trying to be difficult. Maybe she was even testing him, wanting to see what sway the new Empress Consort's words would have on him.

Fortunately, Oren was not the type to speak thoughtlessly.

"I do not think your actions suggest the opposite, Your Majesty. Quite the contrary." Oren gestured vaguely to the room, as though attempting to encompass the whole of their previous conversation. "You told me yourself, your actions were born out of a desire to be prepared. You looked at the circumstances, judged the situation with what you knew, and made your own decision that you believed would lead to the best possible outcome.

"What is that if not taking initiative? Were you not exploring your new home, were you not preparing so that you would be ready to work with others? Even your very decision to first enter the Department of Research and Development shows me your readiness to grasp opportunity as it arises."

Oren's stream of words came to an end, and he stared at Astrid his gaze serious, every word clearly spoken. "You know what actions I would see as the opposite? Doing exactly as you are told. Questioning nothing. Never making your own decisions. Waiting for others to tell you what you should be doing and then following blindly. There is no greater waste of potential than a person who cannot think for themselves."

Gradually, the department head's intensity seemed to fade, and he shrugged slightly, antlers bobbing side to side. A faint smile curled the corners of his vividly green eyes. "As a Director, it is my job to make judgements based on the available evidence and place my bets. After that point, there's nothing to do but wait for time to show me whether I was right or wrong, and learn for the future. We may have only met twice, Your Majesty, and I don't know everything about you. But there are some things you can discover about a person even without knowing them deeply. That's why I'd unhesitatingly place my bet that, of those two types of people, you are undoubtedly the former."
 

Viverescribere

Always looking to write
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Fantasy, Historical, Magical, Romance (usually within other genres), Dystopia,.





Astrid



The fairy remained still, as if frozen in place, as Oren spoke to argue against her as polite and calm as ever. There was an element of disappointment that Astrid felt rather guilty of feeling. She hadn't ruffled him whatsoever. Her quick disagreement over his supposed observations of her hadn't caused him to falter or pause or hesitate as they may have done to anyone in her former kingdom. His face did not seem as though it grew warm; there was no redness on his cheeks. There was no stuttering or stumbling over his words as he fought to get his point across.

No. This Director remained as calm and as cool as the day she met him with the other Heads of Department... along with her betrothed.

Eventually, she moved. If only to turn her head back to the view she had from her chambers. Her hands moved to settle behind her back, clasped together with her thumb rubbing softly over the other as she gathered her next set of thoughts.

"And you would all like that? For me to have my own set of thoughts? To question and poke and prod?" Astrid asked next, eyes fixated once more on the dragon tower as she thought to her conversation with Kilroth in the libraries. "I would be a fool to believe that it is a secret that I find the ways of your Empire... difficult to grasp, Oren-Apricis." There was a brief tremor to her body, as if she had started to move but halted just as sharply. However, it wasn't long until the redhead tore herself away from the window to return to her seat, prepared to challenge Oren for the final time.

Settling into the seat, her legs crossed at the ankles causing the fairy to lean slightly to the side, elbow resting on the arm of her chair. Her eyes focused on the being in front of her, observing him as she was certain he had done to her in the last few minutes.

"I will be honest with you, Oren-Apricis, as I... believe you have been with me." She cleared her throat, shaking her head back so her braid fell over her shoulder and down her back. "I do not wish to look like a fool. As I have said: your Empire is a difficult one for me to learn about and understand, despite my best intentions. It is new and modern and entwines magic with technology. I will be asking questions that may seem like child's play to yourself and those who you manage," she paused, allowing her words to sink in for a moment before pressing on, "I fear... being laughed at. Humiliated. And, as I said, I do not want to look like a fool or be made out to be one. I am going to be... trying, when I come to your department, to learn. I will be your Empress Consort, after all, and despite my beliefs and the potential differences I have with your Emperor... I want to do right by the people. However, I want to be treated as correctly by your people as I will treat them. Do you understand what I am trying to say?"
 

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
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  2. No Preferences
Genres
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.
With her back to the window, Oren had no way of knowing that his smooth reply had not done anything to earn him the favorability of the Empress. To a director, debate skills were essential to earning their position, let alone maintaining it. If a small jab was enough to fluster him, Molir would have long since ripped away every scrap of funding the research department had to spare, and many that they didn't.

Unable to know, and unable to justify, Oren-Apricis simply continued with their conversation, a small smile flickering across his face.

"From my experience, all the best ideas come from questions. Even something as common explaining something simple can bring about new possibilities, if it's explained in a new way." Oren's hands also folded together, and he leaned forward slightly. "Stasis eventually means death. Change is inevitable. And how can we change without people thinking new thoughts?"

If Oren was being honest, he found this new Empress almost as hard to grasp as she found their Empire. Normally, it was simple to categorize someone, if simply based on what they wanted. Some wanted recognition, fame, money, power. Others formed connections to stabilize their position. Some had more altruistic drives, genuinely looking to make the world a better place for others. Many, Oren himself among them, were simply driven by a desire to see more of that which made them happy.

Even the Emperor, as impossible to understand as his motivations could be at times, could be placed into this category. He wanted an unsinkable empire, one that would never waver, no matter how many years, decades, or centuries tumbled out ahead of it. And, one way or another, Astrid fit into that desire, or he never would have brought her here.

But what did this Empress want? What drove her to care about anything in a situation where she need not do anything? Shaden should be capable of providing for her every wish and need, yet it seemed unable to offer what she wanted.

Perhaps it was simply a matter that he did not know her well enough yet. In which case, ensuring she came to his department was one of the best choices he could make.

And so he listened to her hesitant speech with his full attention, brow slightly furrowed as he tried to work through a response that offered everything the Empress needed. Honesty. Comfort. Encouragement.

After a moment's silence, he smiled. It shouldn't be that hard.

"I do understand. Not only that, but I understand why you would be concerned. There are always people out there who choose to lower others to make themselves feel better. Sometimes those people are also very intelligent and capable individuals, who end up holding positions of authority." There was a faint grimness to Oren's voice that told this was a story of experience, not merely a baseless example.

"It can be crushing. Stifling. And it taught me something important. People who can't stand to have their ideas challenged can never produce something truly excellent. Only those who are able to explain things to others, demonstrate when they are right, and course correct when they are not, can create something great."

As as servant of the state, Oren would never speculate at the relationship between his emperor and empress. But even he knew it might be foolish to mention that the person who had best demonstrated that capability to him the best was Emperor Kilroth himself. He could be a hard man, one who demanded perfection, but it was precisely that demand that led him to seek out the best in every field, establish the directors, let them run the affairs of the empire. And it made Shaden what it is today.

"The reason I tell you this is because I want you to know the kind of people I would consider the best of my best. The kind of people I would pair you with. I do not believe any of them would ever seek to humiliate you." His serious conversation concluded, Oren smiled slightly. A slightly playful lilt entered his tone. "And if any of them should be foolish enough to attempt to humiliate the fiancée of their primary investor, aware of her position or not, then they probably don't deserve the money and resources they are being given. If anyone acts out of line, just let me know."
 

Viverescribere

Always looking to write
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  1. Male
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  3. Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Fantasy, Historical, Magical, Romance (usually within other genres), Dystopia,.





Astrid



Change is inevitable. And how can we change without people thinking new thoughts?

His words stilled her for a moment. So far she had been nothing but suspicious and pessimistic about the new empire she would soon become a part of. She detested the changes it brought about by invading and usurping, seeing it as as a dictatorship and overpowering. She couldn't understand how any good could come about from one kingdom taking over another and using the resources the dominated once owned.

However, she had to admit that all she had seen so far was unity. People in Shaden lived in harmony and in peace, all different types and religions and factions. It was like a body of water, with multiple streams - big and small, thick or thin - becoming one larger entity. Moving smoothly, calmly and naturally.

Perhaps it was time that she changed. That her thoughts changed. Yes, she would hold on to some of her suspicious, given that she hadn't actually seen those who had been conquered and how they were currently living. Until she did, she would always have an inkling of doubt, but for now, she would be more open minded.

His reassurance was appreciated, not that Astrid expected anything less. She knew that these directors would say many a thing to comfort her if necessary, so she would always wonder if Oren-Apricis was being genuine. For now, she would take his words at face value and believe that he meant all that he said. So the future Empress smiled; a faint smile, but one that she hadn't given for a while, at his jest - something she actually did rather enjoy, it showed some personality and showed him to be real, not just some frank, business-only, serious-at-all-time director.

"...So then, when shall we start?"