Open Chronicles The Light of a Thousand Lamps

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Dao Maho

Sorcerer Ambassador
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It had been months since Maho had been able to visit her home all the way in the Imperial City of the 'eastern continent'... (Ugh! The terminology of the westerners in Arethil had rubbed off on her!)... But no matter, she was home at last, though naturally it wasn't the restful experience she might have wished for. As soon as she returned to the ancestral home of the Dao family she was immediately requested to represent them at the Festival of Lights.
This was an annual festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month and traditionally marked the end of the New Year celebration period.

Naturally as an ambassador she was to make an appearance at the festival and even attend at the lords table.
Almost as soon as she set foot on dry land she was greeted by a few members of her family that she recognized, and a few new relatives that she did not but there was only time for rushed introductions before Maho was bustled home and being prepared for the festival.

Of course she was accustomed to the intense preparation, the thick makeup and formal clothing, she never lost her noble discipline and sat uncomplaining under the cruel ministrations of fussy aunts, grandmothers and even a few nieces she'd never met, all who worked tirelessly to have the travel weary ambassador returning from the savage westlands ready to present to the lord and possibly even The god Emperor... Though Maho wasn't foolish enough to believe that he would actually make an appearance.



By the time Maho stepped out of her dressing room she was dressed in a bright red Hanfu with a long Fa-zan (Hairpin) holding her waist length glossy black hair up on her head.
When she finally arrived the festival was in full swing and she was escorted to her place at the lords table, where the lord was already heavy with alcohol, Maho knelt on the plush cushion and was quickly brought food and drink. She ate very little and in small bites to not disturb her makeup, and she sipped sake from the small bowl while the festival activities played out before her.

This was her duty and she slipped into it almost without thinking. Her time in the west had not dulled her senses and her breeding shone through when some might have expected her to have grown lax in her duties during her time away. She smiled for the lord and bowed to those welcoming her home as she had been taught to do since she could walk.
 
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Orion

A Living Illusion
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The joyous festivities of The Eastern Empire seemed bright enough to light even the darkest of nights, radiating brilliance to all corners of it's land in celebration. It was rather poetic, especially to the man who now roamed the bright streets. Given that he was quite obviously a foreigner from Arethil, he drew a few irked looks from those much more appropriately dressed for this occasion. How dare the tall, raven haired man wear naught but a long black cloak and some plain dress clothes? This was to be festive, not a funeral!

If the one who called himself Orion owned brighter clothes, perhaps he would have indeed taken such a thing into consideration. His current situation precluded him from fashionable attire however. Despite his poor state of dress, he was not disrespectful in the least. He displayed some manner of knowledge regarding the customs of this Empire, and when addressed, spoke the language of it's people quite well.

As much as he'd like to enjoy the night, to procure a drink and settle in to enjoy the wonderous display this Empire put on so masterfully, he was here for one specific purpose, and he had to perform this task before any merriment could be had from him.

He needed to locate the one known as Dao Maho.

He was aware that it would be rather difficult to find and approach her as a foreigner. She was expected to appear, but not to mingle with the common rabble, he suspected. His understanding of this festival gave him the notion he should be able to find her at the Lord's table. For now, he would focus his efforts on locating her, then he would worry about his approach. As it were, he currently stuck out like a sore thumb; A raven in a flock of doves.
 
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Blindfold

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As Blindfold wandered around the festival, his world was different. Instead of shining lights, there were bells ringing. Instead of colorful clothing, he beheld footsteps of every kind. Instead of grand buildings, he heard conversations, each a fingerprint to that individual. It was hard to resist the temptation to See, but he did, as he couldn't afford to overwhelm himself - or go off. The harm of innocent people was not on his agenda.
Unlike most of the people, Blindfold had not dressed up for the occasion, rather, wearing his normal dark attire, he stuck out in this flashing world of color and light. Not unlike most days.
Why was he here? He was just curious, he guessed. He had heard that the might of this Empire was a thing to behold, and it was, he guessed. Just not something he could behold.
He hadn't been here since - well. His martial arts teacher, a very wise and powerful man, passed away - which had been reason enough not to come here for a while. He was the closest thing he had to a father since -
Well. No use thinking about that now. That was only a distraction. The only way you survive something like that is to pretend you're a different person and that never happened to you - but there's no use thinking about that now. There would be time for reflection later.
 
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Dao Maho

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After a while Maho was beginning to enjoy herself a little bit. She hadn't had much time to rest but that was hardly anything new, her moments of sleep rarely passed peacefully and she was never allowed to take medication to force her to sleep because reliance on such narcotics would be frowned upon by others. Covering up dark circles and fatigue wrinkles from an early age made her a master with make-up. Nonetheless she felt in no particular hurry to fall asleep. If she got lucky perhaps she might drink enough to pass the night in drunken blissfulness...

If only they brought her sake in larger quantities than these little bowls. She raised another serving of the rice wine to her lips and pretended to quietly sip while she gulped greedily, anticipating the hopeful rest of drunken sleep... Which unfortunately still seemed a long way off.
Since her arrival was rushed she formerly lacked a proper escort or her own servants, but now her customary entourage had finally caught up with her. These were the servants and guards that attended her on her journey to the west, and she breathed a little easier when her own people took the place of the servants who had been serving her up to now.

She now felt more complete, three guards handpicked for their mission by Maho herself stood a respectful distance behind her while her maid took over the job from the lords servant to dispense the food and drink in line with her mistresses specific tastes.
She relaxed a little further, feeling like she now had a sword to brandish when faced with the leering grins of influential lords and their sons.
At the urging of her maid Maho finally agreed to set down the sake bowl and actually eat something. Of course she was served the customary food of the festival, Yuanxiao, a round boiled dumpling served in a circular bowl to signify togetherness of family.
Because of her recent return the lord was thoughtful enough to have some other food provided, though he himself seemed rather preoccupied by other things to pay her any mind and Maho was perfectly content with this.

She allowed her gaze to wander off over the city wide celebration, at the hundreds of paper lamps hung from nearly every surface and along streamers that seemed to cover the sky as they crisscrossed between every roof. The people were in a merry mood and she had her time in the west to thank for her appreciation of the common folk. In the past it was only rarely that she would have the luxury to think on the lives of the less fortunate, and even then she hardly deigned to think on it... But in the west nearly everyone had a story, even the lowly scribe had life beyond his scribing, it was a whole new world that was opened up to her.

As she looked over the crowds her eyes naturally gravitated to the two sore thumbs in the crowd, even from this distance she could tell by their dress that they were from Arethil.
She picked up a piece of juicy steak in her chopsticks and popped it in her mouth chewing softly while she watched the two strangers meander their way through the crowd.
 
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Orion

A Living Illusion
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The man clad in the robe black as onyx with eyes weary and pale allowed his neck to crane upwards, his rugged face bathing in the light and color that saturated the air around him. He could feel the happiness of the night sink into his pores and light the valleys of his visage. Truly, Orion had missed such events. There had been a time when he would decorate the halls of his academy with magically augmented lights and baubles that would light up in brilliant hues when people approached, as if inviting them forward. He'd taught his darling Ariela how to make them, the last year they spent as a couple so many years ago. It was funny to him, how fresh that particular memory was.

So blurred were the images from the times before he'd let everybody down, before he'd lessened to nothing but a body of broken thoughts and dead emotions. Now all that was left of the Mind Mage was a mere mess that nobody had yet seen fit to clean up. It was his punishment for daring to reach for powerful heights not meant for man. The Gods above had pried his fingers from the edge, and sent him down into the depths of the darkness in his own heart. He'd forgotten one of the most cardinal of arcane rules:

Magic always held consequences.

There was no magic without payment. No amount of innate talent could allow you to bend the world without repercussions. So it was that the instructor of magic had lost himself, even now feeling the invisible claws of his own power tearing at his skin like animals peeling fresh prey. His existence was naught but regret and pain now. For what was left in the broken man but his memories?

There was knowledge, gathered over years of study and collection. Study on Arethil and it's people, study on the lands beyond. The woman he sought now held something within her even she may be unaware of; Something that made her a target for those whom he once associated so closely with. The magical blood that ran through her veins was special; coveted by those who sought the same thing he once did.

Perhaps it was some twisted sense of honor that drove him to desire the prevention of misery like his own. Perhaps it was fate that now guided his feet as he approached her, his eyes upon her off in the distance. He would request audience, he would tell her his plight and hoped she understood.

It endangered her entire Empire, after all.
 
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Blindfold

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As he walked, he heard a man walking, a veil of people's silence around him, and a trail of whispers following him. He knew what this meant, as he had heard this many times before. It was the same thing that surrounded him at this very moment.
There was another outsider among them.
And he was headed to the Lord's table.
Peculiar.
At this moment, Blindfold could think of a few distinct possibilities. He might not know the customs of the Empire, as it was, this was very likely, or he might be trying to talk to her for an important reason, or something he found important. Likely also, however, was the distinct possibility of trying to assassinate her - many people in Arethil did not want the relations of the Empire and the rest of Arethil to improve, whether for strategic reasons, political reasons, or just oppression and bigotry, plenty would want to assassinate the representative of the Empire.
He had hoped he wouldn't need to, but he sighed as he prepared to open his nonexistent eyes, to see without seeing. And when he opened that door, he found himself overwhelmed by the sheer amount of visual information that flooded him all at once. He saw everything in an instant, and shut the door instinctually, stemming the flow of information, and trying to digest it all. This man, from what he ha gathered, was... insane. There was no predicting what he could do. He had hurt people.
But Blindfold decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. For now he was content to watch.
 
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Dao Maho

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The man in black would approach the lord's guards and be made to wait while more "important" guests were given priority. Nobles and dignitaries presenting their sons to Maho like whores on the market block, pretty boys dolled up almost as much as she was. A few oozed with arrogant self confidence or self importance, and all Maho could do to make them go away was nod, smile sweetly, and promise that she would consider their proposal.
As an ambassador of the empire her duties to her country superceded her duties as a woman, but now that she was back home it was as though nothing had changed in the slightest.

She basically ignored the other guests coming to greet her. Her eyes were watching the Arethelian waiting in line to see her. As an ambassador of the empire it's among her duties to aid her countrymen in adjusting to western life, but on the flip side she didn't see why that would not include aiding westerners in adjusting to life in the east.
She motioned for one of her guards, momentarily panicking the current arrogant prick trying to woo her, while she instructed the guard to move the westerner to the front of the line.

The guard did as he was instructed and approached the man, he spoke in well practiced but heavily accented common, "The ambassador will speak to you. Move to the front of the line, please."
And the guard would escort him to silence any challenges.

As the man was brought to the front of the line Maho gave him a polite bow and she also addressed him in common.
"Welcome to the imperial city. I am ambassador, Dao Maho, just returned from Arethil. Please sit and let us talk."
Her voice was almost singsong and her accent smooth even with the clunky western words.
She motioned for a cushion to be brought and for drink to be provided. As ambassador it was her duty to make guests feel comfortable and welcome.

Maho sized up the man and it wasn't difficult to discern that he was touched by magic... And not in a good way.
Maho seemed to straighten up in spite of herself. She rested her hands lightly on her lap and gave the eccentric westerner a mirror practiced smile.
"How may I assist you, sir?"
 

Orion

A Living Illusion
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Orion was content to wait as patiently as was necessary. He'd come all the way out here to merely offer knowledge, surely another paltry few minutes would not drive him any more mad than he was already purported to be. He watched with observant eyes as one by one the wealthy men of this Empire attempted to court their offspring to his mark. How banal. Should you wish to impress those in power, you needed to show you had a spine of steel and a heart of faith. Allowing your elders to attempt to gain your favor held no such display, although he wasn't privy to tradition here; Perhaps such boldness was seen as inappropriate. What did that make him?

As he watched her turn them away one by one, she turned her head while one of the young hopefuls was mid sentence to lock eyes with him. Gods above, he thought to himself, she was indeed what he believed she was. He could feel it in his aching bones when she looked at him. He'd searched all of Arethil for one such as her, and she'd been here the entire time. He does not stare back, closing his eyes and bowing his head towards the woman.

The guard approached him, and Orion's body stiffened. Had he been picked out of the crowd, his madness detected and his welcome revoked? He did not wish to battle in a crowd so dense; while no pacifist, there would be many deaths. Orion would rather not risk such damage. Thankfully he was merely directed to the front of the line. Nodding in thanks to the guardsman, he approaches Dao Maho, his arms hidden in the shadow-black cloak wrapped around him. He does not wait for the cushion, instead sitting cross-legged before her on the floor as she addresses him.

Her voice was as soft as feathers, her face almost otherworldly in it's flawlessness. How interesting the contrast between them must have been to an outside observer: The beautiful, radiant ambassador talking to some rugged, scarred foreigner covered in piercings.

He felt the magic in her blood. He wondered if she could feel it in his?

Running his tongue along his upper lip, he speaks not in common, but in an Eastern tongue. He had been an academic once upon a time, thirsty and eager for knowledge on every and any topic.

"My name is Orion. Formerly known as Janus R. Carrux. I was the head of Illusion Studies at Trastus Academy for Magic, now defunct. I'm more than certain that you can tell already why I am no longer..."

His declining mental state was not a source of pride, but he was well aware of his own deepening insanity.

"I come here to offer a word of warning to you. There are those who want your blood spilled, and they will not let innocent life stand in the way, Lady Maho. Your bloodline is one that is known to be rather unique, and this cabal seeks it's special properties for themselves."

He does not turn his head, but his eyes shift about their surroundings, hidden behind his black mane of hair.

"Perhaps it would be best to elaborate after the festival?"
 
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