The Rising Sun

Discussion in 'THREAD ARCHIVES' started by Sen, May 11, 2015.

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    They say being born a prince is lucky. Surrounded by the riches of the kingdom with a loving father and a kind ruler of the dynasty. Safe from an invasion and tucked away safely, the palace of the ages and the home of the dragons nestled in their nests in the peaceful Liu mountains, where the rocks protected the royal palace from harm. Waterfalls of spectacular splendor pool around the towers and the buildings, falling into the deeper depths of the gorge or spilling into lakes and ponds dotted throughout the mountains. Statues of the old gods, of protection and nature deities, stand watch in the silent rock forests. To those who have a reason to be at the palace, it was a place of beauty and serenity. To those who were there to thieve at the royal treasures or to commit murder, it is said that those who protect the royal family will stand by them till the end, ending all chances of these wrong-doers.

    And it isn't only the dragons and gods that protect them, but the clan of warriors that lived and survived in the mountains. They were a clan of people who long left society to find solitude within the mountains many centuries ago. Despite not being part of the royal family they were treated with utmost respect, as even the gods and the dragons looked after them. They were fierce warriors who learned the art of the sword and the bow, hunting their part of animals that lived in the Liu mountains, drank from the ponds and lakes and lived in harmony with the palace. Soon the two parties began to mingle, to earn money some of these people left their clan to serve as guards and servants, some rising to the ranks to become generals as well! They were the stuff of legends, with their skills and combat prowess. The clan was often invited into the banquets of the royal palace, to enjoy each other's company and merriment. All was well.

    When the second son of the royal Emperor was born, a party was thrown to celebrate his arrival. Seiji, he was named. A boy with pale skin and features as dark as the night sky. They were traits from his mother, who was a dark beauty, with long black hair and eyes so brown and warm they were said to be the kindest in the kingdom. Seiji had inherited her raven black hair as well, with her dark eyes. He was a welcome sight, even though there was another son in the kingdom, the first son. They both got along well, even with the tension of the throne looming over them. They both shared a mutual friend, a boy from the clan of the mountains. They loved each other dearly as close friends and were said to have never parted each other as children.

    How the mountain boy entered their lives was an interesting story. It all began at another party hosted by his father the Emperor, after a plentiful harvest that benefited the entire kingdom. The villages and the towns below the Liu mountains threw their own parties with rice wine and treats, fish from the nearby sea fresh and cooked, and meats from the mountains were plentiful. In the royal palace, a banquet was held in honour of the gods and the harvest, with thousands of meals being prepared by the chefs. Of course, the mountain clan was invited as well to join the festivities. Though Seiji was a prince, the two princes were far too young to help around in the kitchens or to decorate the palace with their mother, since they had no taste in that whatsoever. As a result, the both of them were sent outside to play, as long as they remained within the palace walls. While they both contemplated what to play together, they decided to go to the palace pond where the rowing boat was. It was a giant pond filled with lotus flowers, large green leaves acting as umbrellas in the huge body of water, with pretty pink flowers sitting like aromatic boats, swirling and dancing along with them as they lounged about in their royal silks, sharing stories and laughing together.
  2. Akio Fukui
    "Step back, parry, lunge- Ahhh!" This was not happening. Akio had just been practicing with his katana on a stone platform. He'd been using a certain set of moves his teacher had tried to teach him. Tried. Akio was a prodigy. Even though he was still young, he could beat all of the kids at his age and even a few adults. His improvements were incredibly fast, and most of his teachers knew that the boy would surpass them. He would undoubtedly become one of the guards. Maybe even one of the princes'. His parents had high hopes for him, and Akio wanted to make them proud. If he could stop being so clumsy.

    Ripples spread across the pond, and a rather loud splash was heard. Luckily, Akio wasn't wearing any armour. He didn't think he needed it for practice. And what was also lucky... He could swim. Coming up for air, he gasped. Having not noticed the two royal sons, he quickly swam to the side of the pond and flopped quite unceremoniously. It wasn't very graceful. He had managed to keep his grip on the katana, and he dumped it over the edge of the pond. Lying on his back, he tried to breathe normally.

    Then, he noticed he wasn't alone. Realising how he looked, he scrambled up. He was soaking wet, water dripping from his hair. Then, he noticed who's company he was in. Shocked, his eyes widened and he dropped to his knees. He had avoided the party and went to practice simply because he was more of an antisocial person, but this... The princes... This was unexpected. And he had interrupted their quiet time by dropping into a pond. What a fool he had made of himself. "I- I am sorry my lords, for interrupting both of you." Akio didn't have much experience with royalty, so he hoped his apology would be enough.
  3. Seiji and Daichi were minding themselves in the silent waters of the pond. The youngest prince, Seiji, was lying down on his seat, watching as the boat drifted by idly, the oars placed by the side. The deep green leaves of the lotus flowers that drifted above their heads like dark clouds made the scenery even more peaceful. The air was filled with the scent of lotus flowers, blooming and glowing in the clear pond. Despite the competition for the throne, as children, Seiji and Daichi spared no thought for it. They were indulging in the innocence of childhood and each other's company. They were happy.

    He could hear the distant waterfall at the end of the pond, the waters from above crashing into their peaceful pond. Seiji could also see the servants bustling about from around the lotus blossoms and leaves, holding plates of food and carrying lanterns and wheeling in expensive silks and decorations for their mother. Smiling, they chattered about what food could be eaten and served tonight. Seiji had always noticed the difference between them. He had raven black hair and equally dark eyes, along with the pale skin of royals. Daichi, however, was much more tan. He shared the dark eyes of his but his hair wasn't as dark as the feather of the ravens. His features were more masculine except for his soft face and features, it was already well known that he was good with tactics and combat, good enough to be the future Emperor and a war general as well.

    The silence was broken, like the sound of breaking glass. Seiji sat up as fast a bow flying through the air, blinking through the locks of his dark hair as he tried to find the source of the sound. It had also surprised Daichi, who also did the same. To the princes' surprise, a boy stumbled out of the water and onto dry land, the two royal boys blinking at the newcomer - a boy dressed in the proper mountain clan clothing - suspiciously and warily. By his side, Seiji spotted a beautiful katana gleaming under the sunlight. Daichi stood up, a frown on his face and slightly upsetting the boat as he did so. "Who are you?" he asked, his voice commanding and demanding.
    #3 Sen, May 11, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
  4. Akio Fukui
    The two princes did not seem happy. Akio was in sooo much trouble. His dark hair, almost black, covered his beautiful amber eyes. "I am Akio Fukui," he murmured, wondering if the two boys would recognise his name. Akio seemed incredibly nervous, and being soaked in pond water wasn't helping him whatsoever. He had disturbed their peace and quiet, and in a rather ridiculous way if he said so himself. Then his eyes widened as he forgot to address them. "My Lords." He hoped they wouldn't notice his mistake. He could be put to death if they wanted. He kept his eyes to the ground as he waited for a response.

    As he did, Akio had time to reflect on what he did wrong. Why, why did he have to leave the party just at that time? He could've picked any other time, any other place, and he wouldn't have been in this situation. God, he was so stupid. He was mentally slapping himself. Moving slowly, he offered them his katana. "Kill me if you must. I am sorry." Placing his life in their hands. He deserved, but yet hoped they wouldn't take his offer.
  5. Daichi looked thoughtful, eyeing the newcomer curiously. "Fukui? That is a clan family name, isn't it, brother?" he turned to look at Seiji with questioning dark eyes as if he wanted to make sure his thought was right. The younger brother nodded, but his eyes were transfixed on the soaking wet boy. He looked about the same age as them, which somewhat explained why he was outside. Preparations were very busy, crowded and often made no space for the children of the royal families and the mountain clan. Seiji looked over Akio, his eyes twinkling with newfound curiosity and wariness. Though the mountain clan and the royal family have been on good terms, there were a few exceptions. Madmen from the mountains coming down to harm them, stories like that were often told as ghost stories or bedtime stories to scare children.

    Looking over the katana in the boy's hand, the older brother reached for it, his eyes flashing dangerously at Akio. Between the two of them, Daichi was always the merciless one. One would say he was cruel, but he was just raised that way. Wrong-doers needed to fear him, he was the future king. He was a master at the bow already, Daichi just needed to start wielding a sword. Seiji, on the other hand, had some experience with the blade, but he was a jack-of-all-trades, he excelled in his studies instead. But both of them were talented and given a good education. While Seiji was light-hearted and more forgiving, his brother wasn't like him in this aspect.

    He clutched onto the sleeve of his older brother, shaking his head. "He fell from the waterfall, let's not be so rash, okay?" The younger brother shot a smile at the older one, his lips turned upwards into a charming smile, showing in his dark eyes as well. Blinking at Seiji, he sighed and lowered his hands, picking up the oars to move the boat towards the newcomer. Cocking his head at Akio, Seiji turned his smile to him. "Are you alright? That was quite the fall," he asked him, looking up at the pillar of water.
  6. Akio Fukui
    Akio felt his heart leap at the recognition of his family name. Maybe he had a chance of surviving this encounter. Of course, like any other mountain clan young boy, he had heard stories of the two princes. The older one was more likely to kill him. That's all he needed to know at this point, and when Daichi picked up his katana... Akio felt his heart fall. His chances had just dropped. The male didn't want to die, but his life was at the mercy of the prince, the prince who was considered merciless. Maybe if he challenged the royal son to a duel? No, that would only get him killed more quickly.

    He could only hope that his younger brother would persuade him to let Akio live. He didn't have very high hopes for that, however, as the other was younger. Akio didn't have siblings, but he could assume that the older one had a bigger say. Did they recognise him at all? Maybe his name hadn't spread enough throughout the lands. In time, however, it would rise. But that would be a long while, and it wasn't even clear if he would live past this very moment.

    "He fell from the waterfall, let's not be so rash, okay?" Akio couldn't help but let out a relieved sigh. The younger brother may save him after all. His hopes were getting higher.

    "Are you alright? That was quite the fall."

    At that, Akio slowly began to look up. "I-I am fine, your lord. Thank you for asking." He wasn't sure what to say. A royal prince, asking if he was okay? Not something he was expecting. Waiting for some kind of reprimand, Akio kept still and didn't look up completely.
    #6 Danger, May 11, 2015
    Last edited: May 11, 2015
  7. While Daichi rowed the two of them closer to the shore of the pond, he lowered the oars, crossing his arms with a frown on his face as he regarded the newcomer. His younger brother, however, seemed more happy to see another boy of his age. Seiji chucked politely, a little shy. Being a prince, he wasn't really allowed out into the palace grounds to play with the other boys, aristocrats or mountain clan. In fact, the only person he was allowed to play with was his brother Daichi. Not that his older brother wasn't exciting and delightfully fun to be around, he always amused himself by watching the other boys play outside the window. So to meet this boy, Akio, was a new experience.

    "You can look up now," he chuckled, blinking twinkling dark eyes at the Fukui boy. "You're a boy of Fukui family, yes? Nice to meet you." He was tempted to reach out for the clan boy's hand, but the look he received from Daichi didn't look too positive in his eyes. Shrugging at his older brother, who sat by his side looking more like an imposing figure, he looked up and down at the drenched boy. "Are you sure? Do you want a change of clothing? You'll catch a cold if you stay out here," Seiji asked worryingly. He could see the figure of the boy now, the wet clothes clinging onto his thin, growing frame.
  8. Akio Fukui
    Akio was so relieved that they weren't going to kill him. At least, he thought. Seiji, the younger brother, seemed to be nice. The older one, however, didn't look as nice. He would try to be as polite as possible. Two other boys were common at Akio's age and status. He played often with the other boys from his clan, but never had any real friends. He was separated from the others by his skill.

    Slowly, Akio's eyes trailed upwards. His eyes were wide, having never met anyone from the royal family. He nodded slowly when Seiji mentioned his family name. And now that he mentioned it. Akio was getting cold. A shiver ran through his body, and his eyes widened. "I-I should be okay. I hope?" Akio wasn't too sure, yet he didn't want to inconvenience the two boys. He didn't want to get sick either, but was unsure what to do or say in the presence of the princes.
  9. "Don't be silly," Seiji waved away his response. Looking around them, the nearest servants were already so far away, calling out for them would be impossible. His voice wasn't that powerful and booming like his father's, meaning his voice would never be able to echo to the other side of the pond. He tugged at his brother's sleeve. "We should take him back for some clothes, right?" he asked Daichi, his eyes looking into a similar set of dark ones. Rolling his eyes, followed by a deeper set frown, the older brother obliged. Anything for his younger brother. They were a close-knit pair, they understood each other and they were always looking after each other's backs.

    Seiji made room for Akio by moving to the other side of the boat, leaving enough room for Daichi to sit on a bench by himself to row safely. Akio would have to make himself comfortable beside the younger brother, since the boat was meant to be for two. Mumbling something under his breath, Daichi picked up the oars and began to row, pushing against the water with his strong arms and directing the wooden boat towards the other end of the pond away from the waterfall. The trip was silent, only the splashing of water the sounds that could be heard. Seiji pointed at the katana by Akio's side, smiling politely. "That sword is very beautiful, who is it from?"
  10. Akio Fukui
    Akio couldn't believe what he was hearing. Not only was his life being spared, the two brothers were also going to get him some clothes. And take him with them. Which meant sitting next to the both of them. The two royal princes. Which also meant he would mostly likely get their clothes wet, if he was pushed up against then. Opening his mouth to protest, he realised he was too late. They were already making room for him, and it would be considered impolite to refuse. And Akio couldn't deny that he was a little excited.

    When on the small boat, Akio tried to take up as little room as possible. It was pretty easy, considering he was small and thin. He avoided getting any water on the other boys, and couldn't express his thanks any more times. When the younger brother, Seiji, asked about his katana, Akio couldn't help but feel a bit of pride. "The master sword maker gave it to me as a gift for beating his son," the male said softly, a small smile on his face as he recalled the fight. That boy had thought, and quite arrogantly, he could beat Akio even after hearing the stories. He got what he asked for. He bowed his head respectfully to the princes.
  11. Daichi drew up his silks, not wanting to get wet as Akio clambered into the boat, his eyebrows furrowing in disapproval at the boy even entering the boat in the first place. Seiji didn't seem to mind, however, welcoming the newcomer with open body language, only shuffling his royal robes and silks to make room for Akio. Speaking with the boy to pass the time while the silent Daichi rowed on, he sighed and nodded as if he understood. "I want to meet this sword maker of yours. I have to admit, mountain clan katanas have always been sturdier than the ones we have here," he chuckled softly. He remembered the amount of swords Daichi had broken whenever he tried hard to practise, a pile of broken metal and hand grips littered all over the palace grounds while the servants and his tutor stared on with gaping mouths. While watching him from inside his study, he always chuckled when Daichi grunted at another broken katana.

    They headed towards the other side of the pond, the boat bumping slightly when they reached the shores. Daichi lowered the oars and stepped out, holding out a hand for his brother, who in turn waited for Akio to come out himself, smiling brightly at him. While the older brother walked on ahead, ready to call for some simple clothing for the mountain clan boy, Seiji walked slowly along with Akio by his side, admiring the clear skies and the sound of light music playing, the musicians preparing themselves for the grand night, and the servants running around excitedly. "Have you ever been to one of our banquets before, Akio?"
  12. Akio Fukui
    Akio couldn't believe that he was sitting next to the royal brothers. Who would've thought? A lowly mountain clan boy like him, sitting in the same boat as the two princes. After interrupting them as well. When Seiji spoke, Akio couldn't help but smile. He'd heard tales from some of his tutors, the ones who had gone to the palace. According to them, the palace courtyard was littered with broken blades and handles. Usually, when they had finished the tale, they would make some kind of comment at how the mountain clan blades were a lot stronger and steadier. Although they weren't as beautiful, they did their job. Using gems and other such accessories only made the blade heavier and unbalanced. "He makes some of the finest swords in all of Japan," Akio couldn't help saying. He really did like his sword, and the maker.

    When they reached the shore, Akio waited for the other two boys to get off first before climbing out himself. He smiled back at the younger prince, surprised at how friendly he was. The mountain clan boy had not expected such friendliness from a royal prince. When the question was asked, Akio shook his head. However, he had heard small stories here and there. "I... I am looking forward to what I have heard about the food, my lord," Akio said. He hoped it was the right thing to say.
  13. He couldn't help but nod. "I hope he'll be present at tonight's banquet," he sighed, looking ahead at the building looming before them. Across a beautiful arched bridge that hung over a lake extended from the pond before stood a large, square-shaped building with many layers. It took up an rock face on its own, three layers of beautiful architecture decorated in reds and golds and the royal seal. Guards stood by at each and every entrance as well as patrolling, handmaidens and servants rushed about carrying silks and plates of covered foods, the lids shaped like phoenixes and dragons. Daichi had already gone on ahead. This was a section separated from the main palace. This was set in a more gentle area, home to the Empress and her children. This was where Daichi and Seiji had grown up and studied at, slept and ate at whenever a banquet wasn't on. It was a beautiful place surrounded by emerald green bamboo stalks and sparkling ponds.

    At Akio's words, the younger brother's eyes lit up. "Oh yes, the food here is delicious! We are grateful for the meats your clan brings in daily, we do appreciate them and the dishes we make from them are simply gorgeous. You have to try them! Do you have a favourite dish, Akio?" Seiji blushed, his hand moving to cover his mouth. He was beginning to blabber on in the excitement of meeting someone else his age. He hadn't been with anyone apart from Daichi before. They reached the foot of the bridge, one made of white stone that curved over the slow current, crystal-clear river below them. From here, they could see the lanterns and the servants more clearly, as well as the main palace looming over them over on the left.
  14. Akio Fukui
    Akio couldn't help but admire his surroundings. He had never been to the royal palace, and it was beautiful. His eyes were wide as he looked around, and the guards caught his eye. Maybe one day, he would be like them. Akio would love that. A palace guard was what he always wanted to be. He watched Daichi go off, wondering where he was going. Akio thought Daichi didn't like him, and was more likely to kill him. Perhaps it was better off to stay with Seiji.

    Then he saw the food. He almost didn't hear what the younger prince said, his mouth watering at the smell. "I uh, no, I don't have a favourite dish," Akio smiled. There weren't many parties with the mountain clan, and it was mostly just rice and a bit of fish for dinner. His family wasn't very rich. When they reached the bridge, Akio felt his mouth drop. "It's so... Pretty..."
  15. He was waiting for the mountain clan boy's reaction. It didn't seem like he had visited the area before. He was excited to see his face and wonder what his thoughts were when he lay his eyes on the Empress' Palace. The building was less majestic and much smaller when compared to the main palace, but it was beautiful nevertheless. It was strange to Daichi that the Emperor slept in his own separate part of the palace, it was only one layer but very spacious. But he lived and slept alone most of the time, unlike the Empress' Palace which held the bedrooms for the Empress, her children and her handmaidens.

    Seiji couldn't help but chuckle lightly to himself. "This is nothing. You should see the gardens that surround my father's place and the main palace itself! Many people live here, that's why it's so big," he said, eyes sparkling in child-like wonderment at Akio's reaction. The two guards that flanked the entrance bowed slightly upon his arrival, their eyes darting to meet Akio's presence before nodding to let him pass. If he was accompanying the royal prince, then he was clearly a guest. Inside, the first floor was decorated with hanging scrolls of ink paintings. River fish, rising phoenixes surrounded by tongues of flames, trees and mountain scenery... it was all there. It was the sitting room, after all, where all was welcome. Handmaidens were chattering and laughing, the Empress' Palace was not part of the locations for the banquet, but it looked pretty nevertheless. Chairs of the finest quality and smooth wood, shining against the sunlight pouring from the window. Inside, a woman dressed in long, flowing red silks stood silently, sipping away at a cup of tea. She was leaning over Daichi, who stood by her right side, a smile on the pink, soft lips of the woman. Her dress was so long, several handmaidens stood behind her to carry it, making sure she wouldn't trip. Her hair was ink-black, draping over her face and framing it, looking like sheets of black silk. Her skin was white and pale, her pink lips like blossoms on her soft featured face. Her eyes were as warm as the rising sun. This was the Empress of the kingdom. Mother to Daichi and Seiji. On the woman's left side was a tall, imposing and tanned man. He wore the clothing of a soldier, his defined body standing and straining against the clothes that bounded him. At his hip was a sheathed sword, there was a bow tucked away and strapped to his back. This was the man who guarded the Empress and occasionally the Emperor. Hailing from the mountain clan, he was a mere soldier who had once saved the Empress' life, earning his place as her closest guard, advisor and companion.
  16. Akio Fukui
    Akio was turning around in circles, trying to get a good look at everything. He was stunned at the beauty of everything, and was speechless. Where did all this wealth come from? Akio couldn't comprehend the work that had been done to complete such a palace. It was visible on his face as well. And if he couldn't comprehend this... What about the the main palace? Nodding slowly to Seiji he looked to the palace guards in wonder. Would he become one of them? It would've been an honour. He bowed to them as he went in.

    When Akio was inside, he couldn't help but gasp. It was so beautiful, and he almost tripped trying to see everything. Then his eyes fell on the empress, and he dropped to his knees. He bowed to the Empress, and to what could only be her guard. Akio couldn't even dream of being a guard like that. Sure, he was good, but there had to be someone better, right? And also, the guard had saved the Empress' life. That was something extremely rare. Akio thought he had absolutely no chance of becoming someone so close to the royal family. Or so he thought.
  17. Seiji moved away from Akio to his mother's side, smiling up at her pale, pleasant face. The Empress expressed curiousity at the presence of the mountain clan boy, before turning to look at her youngest son. "He fell in the pond, can he have a change of clothing, mother?" he asked her kindly, a smile on his face. Seeing his mother always made him happy, no matter what kind of day he had. She was in charge of the household and running it, meaning she was always busy even if she didn't look like it. Occasionally, she visited him and his older brother. Those days were full of laughter and joy, carefree spirit and the innocent smiles of children. Even if he couldn't play with the other boys, at least Seiji had his brother and his mother. Sometimes ever her somewhat emotionless and stern guard played swordfights with the princes.

    The red-clad woman motioned for the boy to stand, her smile moving to him. "Are you alright? We better fetch you some clothes..." the Empress motioned for one of the handmaidens to come, who skittered over with her head bowed slightly, a thin piece of silk veiling her face as all handmaidens did. "Go and fetch some comfortable, bright clothing for this young boy. Make sure it is perfect for a night at a banquet," she said, her voice beautiful and singsong-like. The guard beside her examined the boy silently, an eyebrow rising at the sight of the dripping Akio. The Empress looked thoughtful, before turning to ask him. "What is your name, child?"
  18. Akio Fukui
    Akio kept his face pressed to the ground, and would only let up if the Empress allowed. He was in the company of the highest of highest, and could not show any disrespect. Any at all would mean his death, and he definitely did not want to die today. However, Akio could not help but feel indebted to Seiji, as he had been so kind to him. He was even asking for dry clothing for the boy to wear. The amber eyed boy could only hope their mother would be nice enough to give him some dry clothes.

    Akio's eyes widened in shock when the Empress motioned for him to stand. Slowly, he began to get off his knees, but kept his head bowed. He didn't know what to say. He was alright, but was terribly afraid of accidentally saying something that would end in his death. But he knew he had to speak. "I am fine, thank you, your highness," he said, barely above a whisper. He almost gasped when the Empress said to get him some bright clothes. "That- that really isn't necessary, your highness," Akio mumbled. When the Empress turned to look at him, the boy felt even more nervous. He stared at his feet, shuffling slightly. "M-my name is Akio Fukui , your highness."
  19. At the Empress' words, the handmaiden shuffled away quietly, ducking behind the large paper screen that closed off the stairs to the higher floors. Guards and handmaidens were everywhere, the ladies sitting near the Empress so that they could serve her at every beck-and-call. Guards were typically stationed near the entrances and the doorways of the palace, as well as guarding the upper floors and patrolling the balconies. Throughout his life, Seiji had never once seen or explored a place within these palace walls where there were no soldiers in their monochromatic clothing and eagle-like eyes.

    She returned not long after, a folded piece of clothing in her arms. They were of bright colours, scarlet red and jade greens, standing out from the rich and silky fabric it was made out of. The Empress nodded her approval at the handmaiden, who then turned to present it to Akio. "Don't be silly, child. Everyone should wear their best at a party such as this. Especially children." She hid a smile behind one of her long, red sleeves. "You'll fit right in, don't worry, Fukui." Seiji looked delighted at the robe and the sash, feeling happy for Akio. Daichi, on the other hand, looked just as stern as the guard by the Empress' side.
  20. Akio Fukui
    Before the handmaiden had come back, Akio couldn't help but turn towards the guard at the Empress' side. Without a thought, he bowed towards him. "I have heard so much about you sir," he said somewhat excitedly, having always wanted to meet the guard that always stood by royalty's side. The boy would've said more, but then the handmaiden arrived.

    Akio gaped at the bright colors of the robe, unsure if he really wanted to wear them. But he couldn't go against the Empress' wishes, it would be considered disrespectful. His cheeks red, Akio bowed to the Empress before taking the robes. He then realised he had to change out of his dripping clothes first, and looked around quickly for a private spot.
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