“What is the meaning of this?!” “There’s no meaning at all to this.”“You’re saying that the kin-” “You have no need to think about its non-existent meaning.”“But it’s his daughter!” “It’s ‘it’. Nothing more, nothing less.”“Do you even un-” “The hallmark of a true servant is an unswerving loyalty to their master.”“To the extent where you’ll do this to his very kin?” “It’s sanctioned by the king, so it is what I shall do. And you?”“Unquestioning loyalty is a fool’s loyalty, Butler.” “If you try anything, the kingdom’s going to turn against you, Ogre-Eater.”“Shut up.” “I’ll mark this off as your resignation letter.” As two men parted ways, 'it' shuddered, wriggling in self-manifested blackness. ~♛~ The First Blade ♋ Black Ambition The Black Queen was ringed by Towers, isolated by its King. The Kingless Pawns advanced, unable to see anything but what's above.. The Red Knight waited even as it cursed itself, hidden out of sight. The Blue Bishop urged its Rooks onwards, its eyes forever directed above. And, resting on the chessboard, the unseen hand shifted contemplatively, plotting its tenth move. ~♛~ Dedegear, as usual, was chaotic and disorderly, a hundred voices mingling together to form a quilt of preposterous gossip and flamboyant gossip. Cold wind swept through the winding, narrow streets, but snow had yet to fall on the northern capital of Talze Utera. Those winds carried a certain tale, of a person who could bestow the power of magic to any other, regardless of gender or birth defect. Cykes was somber, overcast skies diminishing the shine of technology that was present in every inch of its buildings. Birdships flew gracefully from above, leaving trails of fire in their wake as they patrolled the skies. Though the number of victims were not particularly big, the most recent stream of rouge vampire attacks had set the city on edge. Students locked everything at night, and the few who still wandered in the streets during the midnight hours were scrutinized by guards. The werewolves of the Witchmother North accompanied Dansilan guards, sniffing out the trail of the vampire that had so boldly broke the unified laws of Talze Utera. The capital of Astopol, Koestace, was alight with festivities as the Quarterly Harvest was brought in. With its pearl-white buildings adorned with orange blossoms and cherry leaves, lanterns crisscrossing the streets to form incandescent stars, it was a happy time to be in Astopol. Food was free, drink was free, pretty much everything was shared amongst everyone for this single night, as everyone was allowed one night of fun-filled debauchery...granted that they didn't do something unconsensual or drug-related. But, as the day shone over the beginnings of the day-long party, a lone airship left the ports of the mountain-capital, silently flying westwards. And in the town of King Lazaros, Alzemel, the cold sun shone down bitterly over the rain-drenched lands. A week of harsh monsoons had passed, and it was only now that caravans could safely traverse the roads once more. The clanging of smiths, the roaring of hearthfires, the bantering of hagglers, all those things sounded as the industrious workers of Alzemel got back to business, catching up to work that had to be put on hold due to weather. It was a depressing past week, but it brought a brilliant rainbow in the morning, and a whole week's worth of energy to be put into the workshops and smitheries and bakeries and stores. The smell of iron and bread mixed together into what could only be considered an aroma unique to Illiserev's unwashed masses. A perfume that the nobles were not, in fact, privileged to.