Open Chronicles Four Funerals and a Ball

Nymeasha

Royal Highness
The Empire
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Nym’s brows rose at his question. She’d been asked the same thing by someone else recently, and that had been the first time anyone had ever asked that question. She frowned at the difficulty that she still found in answering it.. What she wanted had never been a consideration before.

“Why must I want anything specifically? From Gerra, I want nothing. From my friends I want loyalty, from the server I want another fucking drink!..” she lifted her empty glass and waved it at the nervous man who shuffled immediately back over to ply her with more wine..

She swivelled to face the Vizier, letting her feet dangle from the balcony and crossing one leg over the other. “I don’t know, Ashuanar.. Medja offered me the chance of a peaceful life and I turned it down to work for her instead. It’s the only thing I’m good at. I want to have a purpose, to be good at something and be appreciated for it.. I want to be wanted.” Her head tilted and she swayed slightly where she sat..

“But... what is it that you want?” She grinned somewhat sarcastically, and leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees and her chin in her hands, giving her the look of a child waiting enthusiastically for a story.

Ashuanar
 
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Kailyn

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Kailyn already had half a glass of wine drunk. She wandered around the party and found herself in the presence of one of her few friends. And someone new.

She swirled the wine as the outside air hit against her face. It felt refreshing. Out from the confines of the party. The prying eyes. Expectations. Stifling air.

That and she was a lightweight when it came to alcohol.

"Now that's a million coin questions, Princess." Kailyn dipped her head to her friend as she interrupted. "I'm Kailyn." She nodded to the unknown man. "Do you mine if I share this space with you two for awhile? I'd like to know what you both want because it's probably a mountain better than what I want."

A sad sigh left her lips.

Another sip of wine.

Ashuanar Nymeasha
 

Ashuanar

Vizier of the Imperial Army
The Empire
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Listening to Nymeasha speak was interesting to him. She was so free spirited and full of life, so unlike himself as he was now. It was almost encouraging. She'd had everything she'd ever known taken from her, and still the will burned strong.

No doubt Medja had seen these things too, and surely saw much use in them.

“But... what is it that you want?”

Her question took him aback.

"Now that's a million coin questions, Princess."

Indeed.

He turned to greet Kailyn from where he sat, nodding his head, "Greetings, Kailyn, I am Ashuanar, head of the Army."

Though he'd originally planted himself out upon the balcony for a reprieve from the party, he felt that the company gathering around him now were of kindred hearts. They, too, just needed a break.

"Please," he gestured to a chair, "you are most welcome."

He looked to the server, waving him over to deliver him another drink as well now.

Then, to Nymeasha's question, "Gerra liberated my people from a doomed existence, and united us under one banner. To many of my kind, he truly is a god. I want," he paused, whirling the newly delivered cup in his hand, "I wanted to prove us worthy of what was promised."

He drank, and his gaze shifted back out over the city, and he became silent and still, as though a quiet weight had set itself over him.

I wanted it to be true...

 

Nymeasha

Royal Highness
The Empire
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Nym had been eagerly awaiting Ashuanar's answer when Kailyn's voice pulled her attention toward the young woman, and a genuine smile warmed her features.. "Good Gods girl, be careful with that.." she gestured to the wine that she sipped with a bemused chuckle and reached a hand out toward her, hoping that she would take it to allow her to press a delicate kiss to her cheek.

"It's good to see you again, little mouse." she smirked playfully, but her charcoaled eyes narrowed ever-so-slightly to see the woman sigh so sadly. "Who's pissed in your wine? Say the word and I'll make them regret it.." she told her quietly with a subtle wink, but whether she was joking or not was unclear.

Her head tilted as she returned her attention to Ashu, considering his answer with a twist of her lips.. "He then used you to build an army, did he not? To bring down everything else that stands in his way. Ask yourself if anything Gerra does, is ever really for anyone else's benefit." she laughed under her breath cynically and shrugged. "Even when those who trust and believe in him most stand in his way he tears them down." she offered the man a small smile, and threw back the last of her wine.

Ashuanar Kailyn
 

Noelani

Seawitch
The Empire
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"Seawitches," the man relayed over a curious baritone, "my only knowledge of witches is that they are to be feared and respected. Color me humbled in your presence, Princess. My family has known no touch of magic other than wonder and awe from afar."
Lani's lips quirked up into a polite smile. Witch was the closest word she had ever found in the Common for her own language and she was becoming more aware of the problems with such terminology. She had once been told a fairy tale from one of the mountain regions where witches were thought to take children and boil them in pots. She didn't get a chance to try and ease any fears though for he twirled her in rhythm to the dance - a more complicated step for this particular musical number - which delighted her to no small amount. She truly had lucked out with her partner it seemed. Her feet moved in a complicated couple of steps to add an extra little flair to their movement which had her skirts spinning out about her legs for a brief moment before falling back against her form.

"Is it a burden for you - to hold such arcane powers?"
His follow up question caught her a little off guard and Noe found herself nearly missing a step as she considered it. Her lips pursed and her brows pulled down into a puzzled frown.

"No," yet her answer seemed... hesitant. As though she weren't quite sure herself. "Not a burden," her confidence grew a little and she nodded her head almost to herself. "A responsibility of course but not something I would consider a burden. A... hm. About as weighty as a crown," she supposed he would be able to relate to that anaology the most being a prince. "Some days you love it, others you despise it, but you want to do it ... right."
 

Kailyn

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She squeezed Nym's hand back. A genuine smile on her own face as she took a seat next to Nym. She let her own legs dangle from the edge of the balcony. Palms pressed flat on the floor behind her. Head tipped back, looking up at the stars peeking out, letting long ribbons of caramel sun-touched hair spread behind her.

"Ashuanar. Thank you for the offer of the chair but I prefer something more familiar tonight." A small smile up at the man as she released one of her hands to take another sip of her wine. A small nudge of her shoulder to her friend as her head straightened. "Noelani is preoccupied and I don't think she'd appreciate holding my hair back so yes, I'll try to be careful. And I wish it was as easy as giving you a name." Amber eyes flickered to Nymeasha.

"I'm a fool," she breathed lowly, the ache in her chest spreading.

A small frown twitched at her lips as the princess spoke of Gerra.

Then her gaze turned to Ashuanar. She took in his own heavy gaze. "Wanted to? No longer?" Eyes switched to Nym. "And what did Gerra do to you? I thought he freed you?"
 

Ashuanar

Vizier of the Imperial Army
The Empire
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He'd once heard that a drunken mind bore a truthful tongue. And yes, Nymeasha was right, in ways. There were many things that had to be undone, torn asunder, and buried before the new could come forth. But, it was in these past few days these very thoughts had haunted him like a shadow- what does it take? How much death and dismal hardship must be endured? How many lives must be destroyed or lost to bring about the end to the suffering?

What price must be paid?

Who truly pays it?

Sitting in these high offices, far from the cages of his youth, he wondered.

A very subtle frown showed through. His ears were not so deaf, and he'd learned that words could quite easily be sharper to one's self than another's freshly forged blade. He could guess at Nymeasha's opinion of Gerra, and how likely she would be to share with him anything she heard. Kailyn on the other hand...

Even prior assumptions were dangerous enough.

He began lifting his cup, "There is no longer need to want, of course. I believe us worthy."

He drank.

 
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Nymeasha

Royal Highness
The Empire
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Nym’s brow knit at Kailyn’s melancholy and she felt herself straighten up a little, about to launch into the drunken ‘you’re a strong, independent woman’ speech and find out who had caused her to put herself down then no doubt offer to slit their throats in their sleep. A discussion she’d no doubt have forgotten by morning if she continued to consume wine at the rate in which she currently did. But the frown faded from Nym’s face as Kailyn posed that particular question to her and justified the Emperor’s graciousness with her apparent freedom.

She could only stare at Kailyn for a long moment, expressionless other than a flicker of annoyance betrayed by the narrowing of her eyes and the twitch of her jaw as it clenched and released..

What had he done to her?..

Nym laughed under her breath and dropped her gaze, but there was no amusement in the sound. Gerra had her home sacked and had her ripped from it, her father had quite literally been torn apart. Captured under Gerra’s command but because she was now ‘free’ , she should be grateful. Her fingertips trailed across her arm, the scar left by the giant’s hand no longer there but still very much imprinted upon her mind, how he’d made it clear that her life was very much in his hands, how easy she was to snuff out. How angry he’d been..

“Yes of course, Kailyn. You’re right..” she answered quietly and gave a slow nod before lifting her gaze to the woman and forcing a new smile. “Silly me.” She laughed and lifted her empty glass with equally as empty words along with Ashuanar “The Empire.” She added quietly and dipped her chin.

She reached to stroke her fingers through the woman’s hair “Anyway. Why aren’t you in there dancing? I imagine you’ve attended about as many of these things as I have..” she mused.


Ashuanar Kailyn
 
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Kailyn

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Kailyn frowned. Seeing that same look she caught on Gaheris in the courtyard. Everyone thought they couldn't trust her. Was it because of her position? Because people already knew that she and Gerra had gotten...were once...close?

Could she ever fit in, in a place like this? If it wasn't for being once a slave it was due to her new position. Forever the outsider perhaps? Were they all just a bunch of outsiders sitting together on this balcony?

She finished her glass of wine with a bold gulp.

Eyes shifted between Ashuanar and Nym. It was clear she wasn't buying their tones. But she didn't press them further.

"I feel alone," she admitted quietly and suddenly. That's why she wasn't dancing. How could she with a broken heart? "I fell for the wrong man." Wine created a wonderfully loose and honest tongue. A weak smile at Nym. "I was ready to follow him anywhere. Trusted him. Thought he could be more than everyone said he was even more than he said he was. I thought he promised me something...but I was a fool."

Chin dipped.

"But I'm worried about the power he has over me. That if I see him again I'll believe whatever he says...want to believe it." Head shook as her face lifted.

Perhaps it was best that Gerra hadn't seen her staring at him in the crowds. Hadn't been looking for her.

"Sorry," cheeks warmed slightly as she looked between the two of them. One she thought was a friend and one she'd just met.

"Have either of you ever been in love?"
 

Ashuanar

Vizier of the Imperial Army
The Empire
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So, yet another confused soul.

He spared her a mournful look, and a gentle nodding along as she spoke.

And Nymeasha's words played again on his mind,

"Even when those who trust and believe in him most stand in his way he tears them down."

Perhaps someday he too would find himself on the wrong side of Gerra's agendas. Perhaps he too would be wounded, either in flesh or soul. What would it mean to him then? What does it mean now?

Looking at Nymeasha he felt bitterness, and pain. Kailyn - sorrow, and regret.

Were these the fruits of their tireless labour? Of their lord's creation? For he too sat there this night, in grief.

"Have either of you ever been in love?"

He hummed to himself, sitting a little further into his seat. He knew he felt deeply, but he did not truly understand love. He knew he'd felt it, fleeting and confusing as it was, but... he struggled to say for sure. But one thing was for sure, thus far - he'd not so wrongly placed his.

"Not in the way you have," he said, going for his drink and finding it empty.

His head turned, and a glance to his server with a nod toward his company and the man was off. Three more drinks on the way.

 
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Nymeasha

Royal Highness
The Empire
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Nym let out a huff of a laugh as Kailyn mentioned feeling alone and she nodded in understanding. Loneliness had been a feeling Nym had known her entire life, and she imagined Kailyn knew it well also, though in different ways. It was an emptiness she doubted could ever be cured, but one she realised had not been such a constant feature for her as it once had.

She sighed as she listened, and she reached to take the woman's hand in her own, to lift her knuckles to her dark red lips and press a firm kiss down on them.. "You're not alone." she assured her, though she had difficult assuring herself of the same notion. She had a worrying gut feeling that she knew of whom Kailyn spoke, but found her jaw clenching tightly rather than let the question loose and hear the answer that she feared she would.

"You don't have to follow anyone anywhere anymore.." Nym frowned briefly at Kailyn and squeezed at her hand to affirm her words. "You're soft and delicate and a damned lightweight but you're not a fool." she looked down at the tattoo on the woman's wrist. "Look at where you are. You have strength in you to come through what you have.." she spoke quietly, calmly, her fingertips stroking gently over the slaver's mark.. "Look at Medja.. Uvogin.. I have admiration for someone who can rise up from nothing like you have. So hold your fucking chin up and don't you dare rely on anyone for anything ever again.." her eyes rose to meet her gaze, a small smile on her lips despite the hint of warning in her tone.

She quieted in consideration of the woman's question, her gaze shifting to Ashuanar with a slight furrowing of her brow at his answer. Her lips twisted and she sighed with a slight shake of her head, even the copious amounts of wine not enough to let those thoughts loose. Her heart was her business and it'd stay that way, she didn't believe she deserved those brief moments of happiness that she'd found, and they'd only be ripped away from her if she voiced them.

"No.." she answered bluntly, and offered the server a half smile as she took the glass from his tray and raised it in thanks to Ashu before pressing it to her lips and sipping, her eyes distant with thought.. "And if this is what so-called 'love' does to you then I'm thankful.." she commented perhaps a little insensitively and cleared her throat.

"Infatuated, captivated...seduced, though? Yes.." she smirked.
 
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Kailyn

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"Perhaps you're better off for it, Ash," she murmured quietly, an easy nickname rolling off her tongue - as if she'd known him longer than a few minutes. She took one of the offered drinks. Eyeing it curiously. As a slave, she was never granted drink. So, she didn't know what they all were - besides wine and what her masters had ordered her to pour. This was something different. Smelled a little minty.

Surprise flecked across her brow as Nym took her hand.

"Wait one moment. You think I'm soft and delicate?" A half-smile. One that turned into a frown. It was something Gerra had said. Thought. And Kailyn knew she wasn't a fighter. Not like Nym. She never had been.

But she did know how to survive.

"Sometimes I wish I was more like you, Nym. You're a fighter, fiery, and passionate and gods save anyone who dared cross you. I'm pretty sure I was scared of you when we first met."

A small smile.

She took a sip of the drink and winced as it burned a little down her throat. But oof. It tasted good. Cheeks already felt warmer from that one glass of wine.

"Seduced?" Brown, sun-kissed brows waggled at her friend as an Ooooooo left her mouth. "Who is the lucky guy?"
 

Fieravene

Pragmatic Woman
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"Hmm, he never has been much for talking. Violence is far more the God-Emperor's strong suit, after all." The Vizier of Stars hummed, looking to the various nobles and court members that surrounded her. Some shot glances to the Emperor as he spoke with the pit fighter and snickered quietly, drawn in by Medja's scathing words. "Yet even so, t'was Fieravene who felled the object of His Majesty's hunt. My Hands informed me of how the beast caught him unawares and snatched his leg between its mighty jaws as his hunting party traversed the river."

Medja sipped her wine and let the flavor dance over her silver-tipped tongue. With admiration she gazed at the dark elf woman, running her fingers praisingly beneath her chin.
"It was fortunate that Fieravene was with him. While the Emperor roared in pain and grappled with the crocodile, while his attendants panicked and bickered over a course of action, she alone had the presence of mind and keenness of eye to dispose of the lizard in a single, well-placed shot."
A steady warmth of contentment settled over the elf as she drank, partook of the hookah, and wallowed in the scent of the desert rose perched upon her lap. Much as she was habit to travel on the simple whims of want, these were the things that graced her patience for the stagnation of staying in place. Red eyes lingered on Gerra as he dismissed himself of any responsibility for the story, stepping away far enough not to hear what other rumors might be told at his expense.

"More rumors and false visions, I'm afraid darling," Fiera's hand left Medja's hip to help herself to another pull from the hooka, drawing deeply before exhaling the smoke into the open air. For a brief moment the dark elf held the appearance of an infernal beast, all crimson glow and purple clouds streaming from her nostrils.

"There was very little bloodshed, in fact, I'd wager aside from those injured in the destruction of the boats, the only red to mar the waters was that of the beast," she released the last of the smoke from her lips, "I'll tell you how it really went."

And she unraveled her words into the story of the Great River Hunt, leaving out - of course - superfluous details of what had occurred directly leading up to it.
 
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Shirok

The Empire
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Wine, dancing, laughter. Such things made Shirok feel out of his element. He reminded himself that the battlefield of words was still a battlefield, just one that required a different sort of blade. A blade that the Sereti needed to hone, though few had of Kherkhana had the strength to wield it.

The blue orc sighed, then found his way to the refreshment table. He grabbed a goblet of wine and an apple. Many would have thought the amount of wine a gratuitous display of the Empire's wealth, but the truth was the assortment of apples were just as rare and valuable in the desert of Amol-Kalit. Shirok felt he had much to learn.

With the bite of an apple Shirok made his way to one of the many people of import that matched his reports. Uvogin, captain of the immortals. His air was like Shiroks, that of a warrior out of place.

"The Sereti would never engage in such displays of wealth and frivolity." Shirok said to the captain. "But Gerra possesses some knowledge we at Kherkhana do not. Perhaps he is fighting on some battlefield we do not know." The orc would let out a toothy smile. "Or perhaps his divinity simply allows him to take chances."
 
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Ashuanar

Vizier of the Imperial Army
The Empire
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Ashuanar was little use in times like these, or at least that is how he felt. He bowed out of this part of the conversation to Nymeasha's uplifting words, ones which he thought were spoken well enough - but what the hell did he know?

Instead, he nodded along encouragingly.

His hands felt warm. His feet too. His lips a little numb. Mmm, wine. Another sip, and then right on into finishing it.

The exchange between them took a turn, one which caused a brow to arch and a playful smile to creep across his features.

"To kiss and tell," he tsked, "come now, must we pry?"

He lazily lifted his arm and waggled his empty cup toward the server. They were certainly being made good use of, out here on the balcony.

 
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Medja

Vizier of Stars
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Disappointment flashed across Medja's face, primarily in the form of a slight pout. It wasn't often the information her Hands delivered to her was inaccurate, but then, this was an event that they had not personally seen. Rumors and stories had a way of growing exponentially as they were passed along, after all. Now, more than anything, the Vizier was curious.

"I'll tell you how it really went."
"You have my undivided attention..." She hummed before listening to Fiera spin her tale.

* * *​
A few more glasses of wine and a couple of long pulls on the hookah later, Medja let out a thoughtful sigh.
"I hadn't realized that Gerra had such an aversion to water. It would've been rather embarrassing for the God-Emperor to have met his end at the whims of a river."
Another pull of the hookah followed, and another puff of smoke billowed through the lounge's stale air.

"My hands were not too far off...nonetheless I suppose it was...fortunate that you were there to rescue him." Medja supposed. Then, a bit of her old, teasing habits resurfaced. She was, of course, clever enough to draw her own conclusions (knowing Fiera to be a bit of a deviant as she was), but she wondered aloud in feigned ignorance:"Though I'm still struggling to understand how and why the chains were involved in all of that."