Fable - Ask To Fill the Throne

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Medja

Vizier of Stars
The Empire
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255
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Stagnation. If there was one thing that Medja hated, it was to watch her world become stagnant and dull. Gerra had started another one of his 'divine pilgrimages' some weeks ago, leaving the throne empty and the Divan in charge. The Divan, in turn, had become complacent. The Empire was stagnant. Much as the Vizier of Stars hated to admit it, without the Emperor to guide his subjects it was as if the fire had been drawn out of the whole of the Empire. Things were running near autonomously, mechanically. There was no growth, no change, no excitement. Medja had never really forgiven Gerra for what had happened when Drakormir rose and scarred the world, but Hundreds be damned, the Empire of Amol-Kalit needed a ruler.

So Medja sent word to any who would listen. Not just the other members of the Divan, but others as well. Those she trusted, those she believed in. All whom she'd met and built up and been built up by. She called her fellow Viziers of Moon, Earth, and Sun; Noelani, Aivrid, and dear Ashuanar. She called her pupils, Audun and Nymeasha. She called on trusted associates like Kailyn and Prince Mago and the priestess, Kiia Sidra. And, likely as she knew the call would go unheard, she wished to know what her good friends Uvogin and Fieravene would have to say, though she knew they had long since left the deserts of Liadain. Medja didn't even know where her Quartz Hands would deliver the message to, and doubted the Sapphire Hands would be able to find either.

Gods, she must've been desperate; part of her wished she could ask for the late Maho Sparhawk's council, despite how she had loathed him in life. There were precious few whose perspectives Medja held in high regard, and she wanted to hear from as many as possible before she did anything rash. Because 'rash' was exactly how she would describe the thoughts that had crossed her mind as of late. Her sense of ambition pushed her for more. Her sense of responsibility told her that what came next was a necessity.

Something had to change, and likely the change would need to be soon and drastic. The invitations to all those she'd thought of and still others would call them to the palace in Ragash to discuss dire matters. Succession. Regency. The Empire needed a ruler. Who would take the throne in the God-Emperor's absence?
 

Noelani

Vizier of the Moon
The Empire
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149
Character Biography
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Who am I to refuse an offer from the Stars? Noelani mused after breaking the seal upon the message and reading it as she paced.

The Hands had delivered Medja's message into Noelani's very hands. That in itself was not a feat to be talked about, it lay in the fact that Noelani was several leagues out at sea on one of her various attacks against the stain of piracy that was still a blight upon the seas surrounding the growing Empire. It had been a war that had been started by the last Vizler in her position and it was a torch she was willing to pick up. The issues caused by Gerra's absence had barely reached her ears, such was her single minded focus on her own job. Despite that she knew that her duties extended beyond the sea to the peoples that she now also called her own. If Medja said that there was a problem than Lani was not the one to dispute such a summons.

"Set a course for Ragash," she called without looking up from the letter. The Seawitch took it with her into her cabin to study more closely on the voyage homewards.

* * *​
The last time she had been in these palace walls it had been as a foreign dignity guest in the middle of negotiations. Now she entered as one of the most powerful figures in the Empire. Still, her lips twitch at the memories of walking naked through the gardens. Perhaps afterwards she could tempt her friends away to relax in a similar manner as before...

"Medja," Lani spoke the woman's name warmly as she entered the throne room through two large, ornate doors manned by servants. Instead of her usual garb that she wore when out at sea today her hair was loose apart from a few braids to keep it off her face and a gold pendant hung in the centre of her forehead. Delicate chains connect it to piercings in her ear which were also ordained by large golden rings. Her dress was a sharp white in contrast with her darkened skin. The sleeves were long and modest but the neckline plunged to above her naval and the skirts, though floor length, were slit up almost to her hips exposing the knives strapped to either thigh in decorative sheaths.

"It's good to see you again," the Princess smiled and once she stopped in front of the other woman, lent forward and kissed her cheek.
 

Nym

The Viper of Salitra
The Empire
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317
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Nym did not have to travel far to answer Medja’s summons. Less than a few minutes’ walk from her chambers, to be precise, and when she received word that more guests were arriving to the palace, she poured another cup of wine to settle the nerves as so often came with gatherings, and looked over her reflection in her mirror. The vicious Viper of Salitra, trying not to fidget at the thought of people seeing her. She lifted her chin and smoothed out the soft, emerald silk of her dress, simple and elegant, ankle length and cut to proudly display the snake tattoo on her thigh as it served to remind others of what she was, but more importantly it reminded her.

She would pace the cool, tiled floors of her chambers for a little while longer, letting the liquid courage work before finally wandering down the hallways and steps, and dipping her chin to the guard who stood aside to let her pass into the room. She couldn't hide the delight on her face to see her oldest friend, for as usual too much time had passed between their meetings that she'd almost, almost forgotten how beautiful a sight the woman was.

"Lani." her voice carried her smile as her bare feet carried her hurriedly toward the dark-skinned beauty, and her arms opened to wrap around her in a greedy embrace, leeching out every ounce of comfort she could. "It's so good to see you.." she breathed, her smile bright as she stepped back to look over her.

"We have much to catch up on." she sighed and reached to cup the woman's pretty face in her hand with an affectionate caress as her attention turned to Medja and her lips twisted in amusement. "Perhaps over copious amounts of wine and less clothes." she winked in jest and let go of Lani to take her place by Medja's side. Her tensions had eased significantly, but they only sunk skin deep and remained there, simmering under the surface. She spared the Vizier of Stars a meaningful look, for the woman had seen her at her worst, and the kiss she pressed to the woman's cheek lingered in the hopes that it would mutely whisper the words she did not wish to speak.

"I am rarely early.." she observed and glanced to the door. "I believe more of your invited guests are arriving now, Vizier."
 

Kiia Sidra

High Priestess
The Empire
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81
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Kiia read the letter for a third time. She had poured over it for two days already, trying to search for any hidden meaning, and veiled threats or tells... because this had to be a trick. Not only had the letter simply appeared in her home, but it bore the seal of one of the most powerful people in the world. Someone Kiia had not seen since the failed apocalypse... since she had tried to kill her.

It had been an act of desperation, and Medja had never sought revenge nor contact of any kind until now. For what purpose had she broken her silence?

It didn't matter. Kiia knew she would accept the invitation before she had finished reading it. Like the foolish moth that dives for fire, the priestess could not resist the siren song of power that Medja embodied. Perhaps this was a second chance, and with the Emperor unaccounted for there would be opportunity. Power abhorred a vacuum, even for an instant.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
She entered the chambers with barely a sound. Her thin reed-woven sandals muffled her steps and the silk of her pristine white dressings was so light that it practically floated upon her. The only herald of her approach was the gentle and steady rhythm of her cane, golden and lovely, a gilded monument to her greatest mistake.

She was glad to not be the first arrival, although she could feel her heart beating quicker the moment she laid eyes on the Vizier of Stars. The second woman Kiia did not know, but the third she did, and she relaxed a little when she saw Nymeasha.

"Vizier, you honor me with your summons," she said, with a nod to the sorceress. "It has been... too long." An awkward silence, unusual for the priestess. What was the politest way to ask if you were about to be executed?

"And Nymeasha, I am pleased to see you here as well. I am so eager to hear where your path has led you since you blessed my small hut." Her voice, as always, flowed like honey. Rich, sweet, and warm. Her face matched this, an benign mask of tattooed branches that betrayed nothing of what lay beyond. She made sure of this, for while she had her own ideas of why this meeting had been called, doubt hung heavy.

Finally she addressed the new face. "I am afraid I have not had the pleasure. I am Kiia Sidra, priestess of Abtatu." Modesty in words only. Kiia's following had only grown following Drakormir and Neha's scourge, and her message of acceptance, coupled with her personal interpretation of the scriptures, had set her steadily on track to become one of the most influential spiritual leaders of her people.

Perhaps Medja had taken note. Perhaps that was why she was here.
 

Medja

Vizier of Stars
The Empire
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Noelani was first to arrive from among the invited. Fond memories of their first encounter in Annuakat brimmed within her, thoughts of their little exhibition match bringing a smile to her face. Even more, the memory of the impromptu slumber party that followed was something that the Vizier would always look back upon warmly.

"Hello, Lani," Medja returned her greeting with the casual nickname she had heard Nymeasha use time and time again. An odd calm hung in the air about her, sharply in contrast to the frenetic state she'd been in the last time she'd seen any of her companions. "It's been too long."

As always, the Vizier of the Moon was dressed to kill, in every sense of the term. Gorgeous and notably deadly, Medja knew well that Noelani had well earned her role in the Empire since her induction. Medja's bright green eyes fluttered and she ran soft fingers down the Mchawi princess' cheek, grateful for and contented with her greeting.

"Perhaps over copious amounts of wine and less clothes."
The Princess of Salitra was next to join the gathering. She, too, was stunningly beautiful in her choice of attire, and deceptively lethal. Something about the way she carried herself was different than what Medja had been used to...she was more confident than before, more sure of herself. The sight warmed her heart. She wrapped an arm around Nym's waist as she took her place, and returned her warm glance.
"You know my tastes too well, Nym. I'm pleased you had the time to spare." She replied in a knowing tone.
"I believe more of your invited guests are arriving now, Vizier."

"With any luck, yes. I don't imagine many will follow through." Medja sighed. It was an unfortunate truth that she'd already come to accept. Where once she had berated her predecessor, Ava Gilleth, as well as the other former Viziers of the Empire for their aloof absence, she'd since come to realize that as time gathered, so too did one's responsibilities. It was easy to become buried under the weight of the duties that went with the role. Even the courtiers that had come to fill positions like those that Medja had before her rise were increasingly pressed to preform. It was a sign to Medja that change was needed.

"Vizier, you honor me with your summons," she said, with a nod to the sorceress. "It has been... too long."
The arrival of the High Priestess of Abtatu triggered many different feelings in Medja. On one hand, Kiia was distinctly elegant and gorgeous; watching her move was like watching a living work of art hewn from delicate glass. It was a visual delight, but...Medja had not forgotten the sensation of the sand elf's magic pulling at her life force all those months ago.

Medja had since come to understand that their predicaments were very similar. They were blessed with agelessness, limitless life-essence, but at a very steep cost. Part of her was bitter that Kiia had chosen to siphon off of her when her own well-being was in danger. Another part of her understood, however. Medja would have done the exact same thing, were their positions reversed. Hell, she had practically done it in her own position, revealing to countless numbers a technique that had been proclaimed forbidden by her ture mentor perhaps millennia ago.

In truth, Medja no longer harbored any ill will towards Kiia. She would not have invited her to the gathering if she had; in fact, Kiia would have been dead and made of an example of by the Onyx Hands a long time ago if Medja had wished it. Instead, by now Medja saw someone with whom she could relate to, and wanted only another ally, perhaps even a friend. Still, it was fun to watch her subtly squirm under Medja's harsh gaze for the time being.

The Vizier waited for Kiia to make her greetings to the others before rising from her seat in her usual manner, floating above the ground that was still unworthy to be graced by her feet. She held herself in the air a few inches above the abtati, drew near to her, and looked down her nose at the woman with a cruel smirk. It was all for show, Medja knew; but Kiia wouldn't, and Medja had to get back at her just a little.
"My greetings, Priestess. My Sapphire hands have told me much of your recent...flourishing," Medja sneered at the woman before leaning in close to her and lowering her voice. "I do hope it wasn't too much of a...drain...on you to come today."
 

Noelani

Vizier of the Moon
The Empire
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"Too long indeed," Noelani smiled and was about to go on with an invitation to getting a drink after the formalities when her oldest friend, her dearest friend, Nym threw herself into her arms. There was a brief moment where Lani looked confused and more than a little concerned at the way her friend was squeezing her so tight. They had been apart for long periods of time before and it was always joyous when the pair were together again, but there was something different about this hug... Something... wrong... Lani frowned, briefly, and wrapped her arms around the girl who was like a younger sister to her, returning her embrace fiercely. When they parted she wanted to ask what was wrong, what had happened. Those words we have so much to catch up on were ringing in her ears.

"Yes, copious amounts of wine,"
she promised and gave her friends hand one last squeeze. Lani briefly wondered if it was to do with a certain Captain who had cut off the girls finger. Anger twisted her gut at the thought. She had let it slide before because Nym had insisted he cared for her and she most certainly had loved him. Nym had needed that after so many years starved of it, but if he had hurt her...

Question after question built up in her mind but it would all have to wait. Duty pulled her back to the room and out of her thoughts as a newcomer entered the room. Lani had been quite content to leave the issues of land to those like Medja and so the activities of the priestess, indeed who she even was, meant nothing to her.

The name Abtatu, however, did niggle at something.

"A pleasure, Priestess. I am Noelani, of the Mchawi people. Vizler of the Moon," she gave a gracious nod of the head and then watched the interaction between her and Medja with great interest. Especially when there was a certain... shift in the mood. She glanced to Nym and raised both eyebrows before clapping her hands together.

"Perhaps we should make a start and the others can join in as and when they turn up?"
 

Nym

The Viper of Salitra
The Empire
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317
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Nym let out a slow, controlled breath and attempted to slacken her movements and let her rigidity melt in her current company. It was a decent effort, enough to fool the casual observer, but for the onlooker with a keen eye she was a walking advert for tension. An irrational anxiety of one who'd been so well hidden for her entire life, a shadow stepping into the light, being included, being spoken to and looked at. She imagined that it'd take her some time and a lot more wine to get used to, but it was an issue she was working on.

Lani and Medja had greeted her warmly enough, peeling away the first layer of rigid nerves, though she could tell that Lani had questions on her mind. She let her gaze linger on the Mchawi Princess for a moment longer, her lips curling gently as though offering her mute reassurance.

The door opening caused her pulse to quicken, and she frowned irritably at herself for her unease, but as she turned to toward it, her expression softened to see the Priestess. The woman had more of an impact on her than she expected even the Priestess to have realised herself, having offered her kindness and nurture when she'd needed it most. Nym dipped her chin in respectful greeting and glided over to the woman with a bright smile, reaching to take her healing hands in her own and lift her knuckles to her lips to press a soft kiss against them.

"Kiia.. I am glad to see you also." she smiled, and after a glance to Medja, she stepped aside, noting the rise in tensions. She folded her hands in front of her and maintained her silence as she listened, sharing a careful look with Lani and clearing her throat with a short nod at her suggestion.
 
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Ashuanar

Vizier of the Sun
The Empire
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161
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The desert was a serene place at times. When the opportunity to simply stand and look out across the rolling sands came, he did so, as often as he could. As Ashuanar stood and watched it gently drift with the passing winds, his mind was quieted, and for a moment, he felt an ease. Sometimes it would remind him of his family, of a time in his life when each day he could stand and see this sight. There was peace in that life, far different from this one he lived now - with the blazing fire of the Imperial Army in his palm. But that fire had become stifled, and it waned, and though he could rally the courage of his men, he could not truly rally their faith.

He was not their emperor. He was not their god.

And though he lacked the fabled foresight of the divine, the lingering shadow did not escape his eyes. As the days drove on it reached deeper and sowed seeds of unrest and frustration in the hearts of many. Whispers were spoken in the night, and gatherings that should not have been had taken place. They did not understand. But in truth, neither did he anymore, for it was some time now even he had began to wonder, fearfully.

Since Drakomir's coming their world was shaken, and though more quietly now, the whole of the empire still reeled. Strange creatures were more common, and strange happenings more frequent, and the memory of their trials could not be forgotten. It all begged a question which he himself was hesitant to answer.

Who was to blame for this?



His return to Ragash was unceremonious. He rode atop a dark horse, garbed in a pale and tattered cloak, and he did so alone. The streets were busy, but there was that same uncertainty in the air here too, as it was all through the land it seemed.

As the palace came into view, his eyes turned up from beneath his hood, and he remained there a moment to gaze upon it.



Some time after the others, the doors swung open again. As he stepped forward, the palace guards recognized him not, and moved to bar his way. He lifted his arm, and his sleeve slid back to reveal the golden scorpion, wrapped around his arm.

The guards halted, and uttered, "vizier," almost apologetically. Ashuanar only nodded his hidden head, and then strode forward and passed them with confidence and authority in his stride. He approached those gathered within, his eyes upon one in particular - the Vizier of Stars, and as he came close to them he knelt and rested an arm across his bended knee, and bowed his head.

"May the sands rise, my friends..." he said quietly.

With pools of darkness that were his eyes, so brown as to be almost black, and stricken with longing and relief, he looked up at Medja and said softly, "my lady..."


 

Kiia Sidra

High Priestess
The Empire
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81
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Another Vizier, my my how fortunate. Kiia was glad that Noelani, Vizier of the Moon, was not offended that she did not recognize her. Mchawi, though, that name lit up something in the recesses of her thoughts. Yes… she had heard that name before, mentioned quietly in the background. She would pay it much more mind from now on, and inclined her head to acknowledge Noelani’s greeting.

She could not help but smile, genuinely, as Nymeasha pressed her hands to her lips. So soft, warm, and kind. She was acting very differently from the runaway what seemed like ages ago, yet there was still a tension within her. Why was she hiding this, Kiia wondered.

Her own nerves were tested by their host. Medja was, as an adversary, terrifying. Kiia had only touched her life’s essence for a moment, but it had been unique. It had taken some time to process what that uniqueness was, and she still had much to think on before drawing any conclusions. The abtati looked up at her as she loomed, and she felt something she despised: fear.

She hid it well, or as well as she could. The vizier’s threat was not misunderstood. A casual mention of her network of spies that watched all things, a not-so-subtle reminder of her outrageous power over the desert.

If Medja was looking for an apology she would not get it. Kiia made a good play at humility, but pride was her sin. Her heartbeat calmed as she remembered that, had Medja wished her harmed, she would already be harmed. She returned the sorceress’s smile and answered quietly, “The journey was long, but I am sure I can find some way to replenish myself.” There was no malice in her expression, just the barest flavor of sport. Something told her that Medja did not suffer pushovers, not for things that really mattered.

Ashuanar’s entrance broke the tension between the pair, and Kiia was mercifully given an excuse to avert her gaze from emerald eyes. She did not recognize him beneath his hood, but his voice brought his memory rushing back. He had been there that day, as had his scorpion. He had seen the God Emperor lash out at her in her failure to revive his fallen friend, saw him try to tear the life away from her bit by bit. Had he also seen what she had done to survive?
 

Medja

Vizier of Stars
The Empire
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Noelani and Nymeasha were pleasant enough with Kiia, the latter behaving both cordially and professionally in her introductions. Medja wasn't personally aware that the priestess and Nym had been previously acquainted, but neither was she surprised by the fact. Not every minute detail was worth mentioning--or remembering--in the reports of her spies, and the aristocratic circle in the Empire was not terribly immense; the odds that they'd bump into each other at some point were fairly great.

Kiia, for her part, played into Medja's latest game splendidly. Much as she enjoyed making the priestess uncomfortable, far more did she delight in her response.
“The journey was long, but I am sure I can find some way to replenish myself.”
The Vizier didn't even attempt to hide her amusement as her gaze narrowed and mouth turned upwards in a wicked smile. It took balls to speak that way to Ragash's Unseen Hand, and for that, Kiia had her respect. It was no secret to her that Kiia had the power and relative prestige to back up her bluff, either. Were this not a meeting of great importance, she would've wanted to take more time to play with the priestess--glancing at her dress, perhaps in more ways than one, but reminded herself that there would always be time for that later...

"Perhaps we should make a start and the others can join in as and when they turn up?"
"Yes, I think that is..." Medja began to reply as the false tension was began to dissolve, before a familiar figure entered the room. Instantly, all pretense of her usual attitude fell away, replaced with a warmth she had only felt for two souls in her centuries of life. With a warm smile, she practically whispered her next words: "My Sun..."

Medja met his gaze and drifted nearer to him before bending down to hold his face in her hands.
"Rise, if you would, dear Sun," She told him gently, in a gesture that would seem almost out-of-character for anyone else watching. "You need not kneel for me."

The Vizier of Stars pulled his cloak back slightly and planted a soft kiss on his forehead before lifting herself to a standing position again, beckoning him to stand with her. Would that they could share a more intimate moment together, but as she'd already assured herself, this meeting was of great importance. She wouldn't waste everyone's time with her displays of affection, much as she was wont to do so.

Medja would allow everyone a few brief moments to settle, and a few more in case anyone else decided to wander in late, then make her way to float between all of them and the balcony of the palace room they now occupied. With a quiet sigh, she folded her arms across her chest and spoke to her guests.


"Thank each of you for coming. There are very few people in this world that I trust, and fewer still that I would invite to this." She began apprehensively, all playfulness or warmth gone from her tone. She scanned the small group, fighting the tinge of anxiety that came with the subject matter she was about to discuss. "I know that my invitation was not forthright in nature nor wording...but I knew that there would likely be some who would dismiss this topic without hearing what I had to say. Some might call go so far as to call it 'sacrilege.'"

The Vizier gestured at one of her attendants as he passed and was quickly given a glass of wine. She took a long sip off of the glass before continuing, brow furrowed and gaze distant.

"I'm certain that by now each of you must know that Gerra of Molthal, our God-Emperor, has been in self-imposed exile for months. Despite my best efforts, neither I nor my Hands have been able to locate him, and even if I did, I'm certain Gerra would be far too stubborn to return before he was ready." Medja turned around as she proceeded with her lecture, setting the wine glass down on the balcony's railing, then resting her palms on it, toes still hovering inches from the floor. She looked out over Ragash and felt something she hadn't before, even when the half-giant himself had laid siege to her city: genuine concern. "While he meditates in solitude, his Empire crumbles. I've seen it myself. Without a leader, the people begin to question the stability of this nation; commerce has slowed to a crawl; raids on our borders increase with each passing day."

Pushing herself off the railing, the sorceress wheeled about again to look each of her audience members in the eye, both to gauge what she could from their expressions and to make her own look of worry clear.
"What I am trying to get at is...I believe that we should seriously consider the subject of Gerra's succession...or at the very least, installing a regent in his absence."
 

Noelani

Vizier of the Moon
The Empire
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Thank the Mother for wine.

Being out at sea for months had its downsides. Rations were in place for everyone including the Captain and wine was always the first thing to run out. She took a cup off of a passing tray and settled herself comfortable into the chair to Medja's left to listen. The Mchawi Princess said nothing for a time after Medja had finished her long speech. There was information there that she had not known; not all messengers were as fast as the Hands, but she had known Gerra had left. What she hadn't know was that he had not yet returned. Her eyes flickered briefly to her friend. Nym had not exactly loved the Emperor and she wondered if the girl would use the opportunity to push for a complete overthrow of the current establishment.

"Heirs often require said Emperor to make," she mused and swirled the wine in her cup before taking a sip. "Are you suggesting we have a wife who he actually beds waiting for him when he returns? If so that doesn't solve the issue of the here and now," a soft sigh. Succession and the now were two very different things. "I would say a Regent should be the primary concern, a clear figurehead, until he returns and we can raise the issue of his... lack of children. If it is not Gerra who names his successor or provides one there will be problems in your... acquired lands and those like my own who swore loyalty to Gerra himself. The Mchaw will follow who I choose of course, but that is the same amongst all of these satellite states and the large proportion of them joined because of Gerra and are loyal to him. If you were to plant a successor on the throne and proclaim him dead, lost, overthrown then you will face anarchy across the lands. A regent is more gentle, respectful, even if that Regent and their children then continue until the God-Emperor returns..."

Lani spoke like a politician. Whilst she implied heavily several different things her words themselves were loyal and defensive to the Emperor. Such a conversation was not one she had just as a Vizler but as a Princess of a people who could be thrown into a war.
 

Nym

The Viper of Salitra
The Empire
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Another brief wave of dread quickly eased as she recognised the newcomer as Ashuanar, her chin lifting slightly as he strode toward the group and knelt before Medja. Her gaze drifted between the two for a moment and her lips twisted with a soft smile, feeling her fractured heart melt a little. Her throat cleared and she glanced toward Lani with a small smirk at Medja's change in demeanour.

She too took a cup of wine, of course, and turned on her heels to follow her mentor onto the balcony where she stood to the side against a pillar to listen. Nym was not a politician, she had never been included in her father's meetings, and despite her violent introduction to Ragash, Medja had given her choices, training nurture, and had sought to include her in such things. In return the Vizier had her respect and devout loyalty that she had once had for her father. This time, it was better placed.

Nym sipped at her wine, trying not to let her mouth run dry as they spoke of Gerra. She caught Lani's glance and her eyes rolled in mute repulsion of the absent Emperor. It had never been any secret that she and Gerra's relations had been tempestuous.

"I'm unsure how much weight my opinion holds on the matter.." she chimed in, her gaze fixed on Medja. "He has never had my loyalty, he has never earned it. My loyalty is with you, Vizier, and I know of none other who could better lead the Empire than you - might I add far better than he ever did." she frowned and downed the last of her wine, unable to hide the spite in her tone. In her mind, Gerra did not lead, he took for himself.

"But that is my opinion regardless.." she dipped her chin and cast her gaze back over the gold-tipped monoliths, careless of whether her words were deemed 'sacrilege' or not.
 
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Kiia Sidra

High Priestess
The Empire
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81
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Kiia followed the group onto the balcony and lingered closest to the door, standing serenely. She still felt like an outsider here, something she wished to change as quickly as possible. Medja’s speech achieved much of that, for she would not have said such things around anyone she did not absolutely trust.

Sacrilege barely began to describe it. Treason could be used in its place, if heard by the wrong ears. Gerra had left, yes, but that was not an abdication. Did they have the authority to appoint a regent? How would the God King react if he returned? What would he do if he learned he had been deposed entirely?

Personally, Kiia had little stake in who held the throne. Gerra had been kind enough to her the first time they had met, but it had been brief, a foot in the door and no more. His attempt on her life had rid her of any compassion for the man, but the fact remained: he was Gerra of Molthal, Emperor and Chosen of Abtatu. A grandiose title, but one that carried weight with small minded people... and there were many small minded people.

She let the others speak, considering their words. When silence fell for long enough, she offered her own soft voice to the debate.

“The abtati are fiercely loyal to Gerra. He is their champion, and their Chosen One.” She put a hand to her chin and rubbed at it gently with pointed nails. “It would be... difficult... for them to accept a new ruler without the Emperor himself appointing them, and even then their loyalty would be to the God King. My people have lived without cities for eons, I believe they would sooner return to the sands than abandon their savior.”

Another pause and a look of deep thought. “...but... Abtatu is, by nature, changeable. It is possible that, with time and the right message, the abtati could be persuaded.”

Yes, it could work, and now Kiia understood why Medja had invited her. If they were to sideline a spiritual leader, they needed a spiritual guide for the journey.

Perhaps she would have some of that wine after all.
 

Baenon

Don't Touch My Things
Fae Courts
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"The great city of Annuakat recognizes no Emperor but Gerra himself," the deep tamber of Prince Mago echoed steadily through the chamber like a symphony of thunder through the moutains, "and no successor without the Emperor's say." His steps were calm and quiet, his stature a stately one as always. He wore no lavish trappings nor outward indicator of his own seat of power - he'd never cared to outside of ceremonial affairs. Instead he arrived in layered robes of deep blues and greys accented by silver embroidery.

"But it does recognize the threat of stagnation. Talk of appointing a Regent in the Emperor's absence has been on the tongues of the Annuakat Council of Princes as well." Yet another curious case of why hadn't this been decided upon sooner, by the Emperor himself? Mago and his people had already arrived at such discourse, but that was neither here nor there. The fact remained that a Regent needed to be named and they would need to do so soon.

"By succession of power of those granted position by the Emperor himself, it stands only right and faithful to his wishes that the Regent be chosen from the Viziers," the man's gaze of violet surveyed those assembled; what he saw was exactly what he had come to expect - only a few, and not all, were present. "Such an issue is far too important to ignore. Absentism does not make for promising futures."

Those Viziers not attending to their honorable duties could, and should, be immediately ruled out of consideration.
 
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Ashuanar

Vizier of the Sun
The Empire
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The subject matter was of course no surprise to him, but still the tension he could feel regarding it was no small thing. Indeed, one could say this gathering was one leaning toward blasphemy, but there was nothing said that was better left unspoken - it was all needed.

As their discussion carried on, Ashuanar stared almost aimlessly out over the city and listened carefully to every uttered word. Only Mago's sudden declaration spurred a reaction from him - the slight turning of his head. His words were exactly what he would have expected from him, and all those of his ilk under Gerra's banner, that they would serve his divinity and his alone. To Ashuanar, that was really the only course for them to take. The people followed that name, not simply the title. If this was so easily interchangeable, then that task would likely already have been done. No, there was only one thing for the Divan to do now... save for another possibility that came to mind, but he dismissed it as quickly as it came.

"There must be no mistake," Ashuanar said, turning to face his peers, "there are none who can take Gerra's place. The priestess speaks of a changing god, but never have our people been so united. No longer are the days of differing belief - so many Abtati have rallied under Gerra's promise, or perhaps, too few have not..." he spoke curiously, and his eyes tracked between them, then he continued, "to try to change this now would be folly. Even for one to sit as Regent could incite significant... disapproval.

The Abtati, likely more than most, will need a... sign."


He crossed his arms, and a sense of displeasure rolled over him. He did not enjoy the direction his thoughts had taken, but he thought if they were to impose some sort of extracurricular rule, that without Gerra's spoken word, there would have to come about and great and obvious need - one far different than the lingering stagnation that had gripped them.

No.

They needed to be shaken.


 

Medja

Vizier of Stars
The Empire
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Medja listened to each of her companions in turn, mulling over each of their respective takes. This was an obviously delicate situation; the wrong decision or improper handling could lead to revolt, of that much the Vizier was certain. She valued the wisdom that each of her guests brought to the table, and silently appreciated their willingness to work with her on what they universally identified as a problem.

One by one, she took the time to respond to them.

"Heirs often require said Emperor to make,"

Lani's response was measured and rational. Medja was often taken aback by how responsible the woman was despite her relative youth. Her role as princess of her people and Imperial Vizier suited her.
"This has been a near constant concern. I almost find it impressive sometimes that he has not conceived with at least one of his concubines yet," She shook her head in annoyance as she spoke. It was baffling to her how one man could be so powerful, command so much loyalty, yet be so terribly aloof. "But yes. Without a proper heir, the option of seating his child on the throne and guiding said child's rulership is not an option. While each of we Viziers have some level of loyalty held among the city-states, I am still uncertain of how the people of the Empire at large will react should succession fall to one of us. I do agree, Noelani: regency is the rational solution."

Of course, Medja understood the deeper meaning behind much of the seawitch's reservations. Noelani had seemed to admire Gerra...and more...and if revolt were to occur, Medja knew that Noelani's people would likely be some of the first to fight for their loyalty to the Empire. Chaos to the magnitude of rebellion was unacceptable, as Medja's experience with Ashuanar's sister had taught her.

"I'm unsure how much weight my opinion holds on the matter.."

Never had Medja held such pride in her heart for an individual. Some would consider her words treasonous, but the Vizier was fond of her fiery personality and her willingness to speak what she felt. Knowing she had the express loyalty of the princess of Salitra was no small thing, either. It filled her with confidence in a choice that she had been mulling over herself for some time now, and she was more than happy to have Nymeasha at her back.

"Your opinion holds more weight than you know, my darling. You would not be here if I did not value your thoughts on the matter." She replied, kind but determined. She leaned closer to speak her next statement in a whisper, just to her. "And I appreciate your vote of confidence."

“The abtati are fiercely loyal to Gerra. He is their champion, and their Chosen One.”

Kiia understood well what the implications of this were. She hid behind a guise of elegance and spirituality, but Medja was quickly coming to understand that she was a kindred spirit. Another individual like herself could be incredibly dangerous...or incredibly valuable, should they come to trust each other. The Vizier of Stars hoped for the latter.

"The abtati's fierce loyalty is not something that has escaped my consideration. They, as a people, are the backbone of the Empire. I would wish to see them upset by this transition least among the people of our nation."

The priestess' final statement, the apparent malleability of Abtatu, was a notion of great interest to Medja, however. She opened her mouth to inquire further on the matter, but before she could, an unexpected late arrival made his presence known.

"The great city of Annuakat recognizes no Emperor but Gerra himself,"
"Prince Mago...kind of you to join us." She addressed him as he entered the room, mildly annoyed at his late arrival and subsequent interruption, but still pleased to see his warm visage and eager for his input. Knowing the perspective of the individual city-states was key in making decisions on the matter.

It was comforting to know that the Council of Princes had already identified this as an issue, and the line of logic that followed was reassuring to her.

"If that is the case...then we would need only to decide who among Noelani, Ashuanar, and myself would be most suited to the role. I don't believe Vizier Aivrid would have had any desire for the position, anyways." Medja looked to her fellow Viziers, then to the rest of those gathered. "Who, then, will fill the throne?"

"There must be no mistake,"

Even after all that Gerra had done, all that Ashuanar had witnessed him do, the Vizier of Red Sun was still unwaveringly loyal to him. He was, after all, the pinnacle of his people. Part of Medja's heart was disappointed; she wished that the man she had come to admire could see Gerra for the violent fool she saw him as. But another part of her admired Ashuanar even more. He was true to his convictions and knew where he stood. It was a trait she valued in each of her Hands, and something she couldn't fault him for.

Even still, his words brought needed insight on the matter. Kiia's mention of persuasion and Ashuanar's mention of a sign...these were the tells of a blooming plan.

"Priestess Kiia, Vizier Ashuanar, this talk of signs and reasons...do either of you have something in mind?"
 

Nym

The Viper of Salitra
The Empire
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Nym's jaw clenched, but she held her chin up and listened as each demonstrated their loyalty to Gerra whilst she idly swirled her wine. The Emperor, Demi-God, Chosen One, Champion.. Usurper. She had said as much to Gerra's face, she had stabbed him in the chest, and here she sat.

There wasn't much use now in her being dishonest about her feelings about the one who'd upturned her life and expected her to bow before him. They had agreed not to lie to one another, and the half giant had not condemned her for her spiteful words or her rejection, in fact he seemed to enjoy the challenges she posed him. Some semblance of bitter civility had been achieved after their last meeting, but it didn't mean she'd stand here and praise the bastard. Her tempest rage would never be calmed enough to allow such lies to pass her lips.

Her gaze shifted back to Medja at her response and her eyes narrowed with warmth, her lips twisting into the slightest of smirks at her whisper. She dipped her chin and returned to her wine having said her piece for now.
 
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Kiia Sidra

High Priestess
The Empire
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Kiia looked to Ashuanar, and then back to Medja. Luckily it seemed that he, too, had chosen to move on from her past transgressions. As she listened to him, she couldn’t help but acknowledge that he was, inconveniently, correct.

Prophets, Chosen Ones, Messiahs, they were all well and good as ideas, but in reality? They were more troublesome than helpful. Ideas could be spun, ideas could be leveraged… but individuals were willful. Gerra had proven this by his very absence. That one man’s departure could have such catastrophic consequences was a sore reminder of the Empire’s fragility.

"Priestess Kiia, Vizier Ashuanar, this talk of signs and reasons...do either of you have something in mind?"

She must choose her next words very carefully. Oh, she had some ideas swimming around in their infancy, and every one of them could see her beheaded if interpreted incorrectly. If the common people ever heard a whisper of this evening’s events her following would evaporate… unless she said exactly the right thing.

“I agree with Vizier Ashuanar,” she said with a bow of her head to the man. “The Abtati will not follow another unless that person is acting on Gerra’s behalf… and they will need proof that Abtatu himself has approved the appointment.”

She walked closer to Medja now. Her steps were even, and her cane echoed less prominently against the stone. Her right leg still troubled her, but the electricity of the matter at hand had numbed her to pain.

“Gerra’s divinity was demonstrated with a ritual, if the stories are to be believed. An example of his favor with Abtatu. ‘Untouched by Fire,’ I believe it was said.” She knew well enough that Gerra’s heritage had much more to do with that than divine blessing, but it mattered not. “Any regent or successor will need to display just as impressive a feat. No… more impressive.”

More thoughts wriggled at the back of her mind. “The stage will need to be set properly. People must want to believe before such a ritual even begins.” She set her cane directly in front of herself, cutting a surprisingly imposing silhouette against the setting sun’s light.

“I can help with this.”

She dared not speak more at this time, not here. If the Vizier of Stars agreed there would be many more private conversations to be had and designs to be drawn. She could taste her own ambition, she was so close now. A power shake-up was just what she needed to grasp a spot at the top, but these last steps were precarious and could crumble beneath her at any time.

No, she would wait. Just a little bit longer.
 

Aivrid

...and a dozen other titles
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Tag: Medja Nym Ashuanar Noelani Kiia Sidra Mago Matahari

What has happened to the ambition?

"What makes you believe I would not fill the throne?" Aivrid broke his silence. Not nearly as majestically as normal, given the confines of the human form he took, but it was a surprise nonetheless. He hadn't said a word since his arrival, and how unlike him that was. Perhaps he hadn't want to disturb the discussion with his lateness. To those with senses beyond, it was as if his presence were muted; far from the menacing strength he often exuded.

Conserving his strength, perhaps, whatever that meant for a dragon. Still his laugh was hearty as any that might escape his true form. "I imagine it is a poor fit for me indeed."

He stepped closer to the center of the room. "Yet, I am unsure of your worthiness as well. I feel almost as though your ambition has fled you, Medja," he said. A poor joke; her influence was not insignificant, given she was able to bring together all but Gerra in this very room. His only question was why she did not seek to claim the throne now. Leaving it up to others only weakened her. "Ashuanar, though you are skilled in war, I do not see you as your own statesman as much as I see a powerful ally to whoever holds the throne. And Vizier Noelani, I'm afraid I do not know you well enough to see you sit there.

"Even so I am hardly the expert." A stunning moment of modesty from Aivrid. He wasn't wrong, of course -- his time was rarely spent in Ragash; he hid away in the mountains, tending to his little princedom of sorts. As of late his ambitions had turned far from the Empire. Coming here was a kind of way to settle matters.

"But I can offer a solution, when it comes to signs.

"It was the battle of Ninagal that won Gerra his empire, and without me," back to his self-importance, "He would not have won the day. I am a god to the orcs of the Seret, and the abtati know of me at the very least, despite my relative... absence. It is not out of the question that I might 'divinely ordain' the regent -- or perhaps support whoever is chosen in the quest or conquest they choose."

If anything, his absence may prove a greater benefit. If he only came to the Empire at the behest of someone worthy to rule, others may take it as a sign of providence. He nodded to the priestess. "You must build from the bottom, show your strength, make them know your name; no matter how you go about the business of the state."
 

Ashuanar

Vizier of the Sun
The Empire
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Ashuanar mulled over a few different options in his mind, but after Aivrid decided to make his presence more apparent, the difficulties of their task seemed to shrink. He spoke a very certain truth - the dragon's presence and Gerra's percieved authority over him was a multi-faceted advantage. Scores of Abtati not only knew of Aivrid, but many had seen him there at Ninagal - some even worshipped him as some sort of "other god," though with less reverence than what was afforded their Emperor.

But he agreed that despite this aspect, Aivrid would be unfit to take the role as regent. His rule would be built on a foundation of fear, rather than the hope which had rallied so many.

He also agreed in Aivrid's assessment of him, that he too was better suited to remain as he was.

This left, in his opinion, only one obvious candidate.

"There are many who would likely accept this, however... I fear we still run the risk of inciting insurgency, in both those especially loyal to Gerra, and those who would view this change as an opportunity to cause further strife..."

He believed that whoever was to take on the role in question would be at a far greater risk than Gerra ever was, at least when it came to his own subjects.

"Whatever course we take, we must do so carefully."

With the growing power of Vel Anir in the east, and Cortos in the south, the last thing the empire could afford now was a civil war.

 

Baenon

Don't Touch My Things
Fae Courts
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The Annuakati Prince, arms folded lightly at the small of his back, tracked the conversation with his eyes between each speaker. The more that was spoken, the more clear the prime choice for the role of Regent became to him.

When there came a natural pause in discussion, he gently cleared his throat.

"If nothing else comes of this meeting today, a choice among the current in attendance must be made. It is the first step to what we know will be a very challenging process moving forward. It is, in my opinion, Vizier Medja who would make the most fitting choice. Lady Medja," he marked the woman with direct eye contact, "you have my vote and the support of Annuakat."
 

Medja

Vizier of Stars
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Again, Medja took the time to absorb what each of her compatriots had to say. As she did, she took note of Nym's slight simmering and gave her an encouraging squeeze on her arm. If things were going to progress the way she envisioned them, Nymeasha would have an important role to play in the events to come. By now there were few people the Vizier trusted as much as her, and the trustworthy deserved to have that recognized. Nym would know her appreciation, in due time.

The Vizier of Stars shifted her attention to Kiia as she answered her question, eager to know what schemes she had in store. Her words were pointed, purposeful...she was as much a politician as a priestess, that much was certain. But her words were also troublesome. Obtaining proof of regency from Gerra himself was impossible, as she saw it. As the abtati woman drew closer, Medja found herself excited - both by her presence, and her line of thought that followed. Machinations of her own began to form, ideas of how she might exhibit divinity in a display of extravagant and fulsome power.

"...I would hear more of this, priestess." She uttered curiously, avidly awaiting what plans Kiia held in store.

It would have to wait, apparently, as an unexpected interruption breached the conversation. The familiar visage of the exorbitantly smug human form of Aivrid was a surprising sight indeed; Medja hadn't heard from the dragon since last he'd retreated into the mountains to tend to his orcs. At first she attempted to soothe whatever insult he might've taken at her comment on his desire to claim regency.

"Vizier Aivrid, what a pleasant surprise. I have no question of your worthiness, nor your..." The dragon's apparent joke about whether or not he could 'fill' the throne was not lost on her. "Shall we say, grandeur...knowing your past behavior it did not seem your 'style.'"

Instead, however, Aivrid offered aid to the one who would take the throne. His point of order regarding Gerra's conquest was more than valid, and the backing of one of the emperor's most powerful allies would certainly be a great boon. But, this was Aivrid, after all...Medja was certain that he would not make such an offer without strings attached to it.

"You have our attention, Vizier of Earth, though I would wish to know what you expect in return..."

Ashuanar, for his part, was still cautious, and rightfully so. His assessment only reaffirmed in her mind that the regent would need to be held in a similar light as Gerra himself, that he or she would need to present his or herself in a divine manner. Only a god could replace another god.

"I concur, dear Sun. Unrest is to be avoided at all costs."

"Lady Medja," he marked the woman with direct eye contact, "you have my vote and the support of Annuakat."

Medja blinked in surprise. There weren't many things that came as a shock to her these days, but Prince Mago's sudden push for a vote and prompt support in her favor was wholly not what she had expected. The excitement made her chest flutter slightly, and she fought to maintain her air of cool calculation. This was the moment she'd been waiting for, she decided, and how the next few minutes proceeded would be integral to not only her own future, but that of the Empire.

"Dear prince...I agree with your suggestion of choosing a regent before the end of this meeting." Medja replied, ever poised and serene, before giving a polite smile and a humble bow of her head. "I humbly accept your support, but will gladly yield should any of my fellow Viziers be found more worthy."
 

Noelani

Vizier of the Moon
The Empire
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The Mchawi Princess sipped on her wine quietly as new arrivals entered and joined the fray. It was distinctly this part of politics that Lani loathed so much. She ached for the freedom of the sea, the endless waves, the moon on the horizon that she could chase into the dawn. The mantel of the throne would not sit well upon her shoulders and she was more than happy to let the others fight in the careful moves of chess they did now. It reminded her of a game not so dissimilar she had played with her father on the outskirts of her city among the mango trees. She had been young, barely seven at the time, and he had been attempting to teach her the way the pieces moved.

"It is important to not focus on the move being played, Lani, but your opponents move three plays from now. That is how you will know what it is they truly desire."

Lani took another, small, sip and glanced across at Nym whose face made a good imitation of a stormy sky. Her lips quirked into a ghost of a smile; her friend had always been a viper of action not these games.

"I am the sea and that is my place, not sitting on this throne," she said calmly, eyes roaming around the room to hold each of their gazes for a brief moment. "I also cannot pretend, as the newest member, to know which of my fellows here would be best suited to the role. Medja is the only one I have truly come to know, even if I have had the pleasure of a dance," she smiled to Mago. "And of fighting beside," her gaze turned to Ashuanar, "some others of you here. As such I cannot in good conscious choose a candidate and would abstain from any vote. However, I will continue to serve the people of this Empire as I have done from the moment I was elected to this council."
 

Kiia Sidra

High Priestess
The Empire
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Kiia’s gift was unique, as far as she was aware. Perhaps not the ability to drain life in itself, nor the ability to heal, but to move around such forces at will was, perhaps, her greatest boast. While physical contact was needed for the best results, she could pull on such forces from a distance, as Medja was acutely aware, and therefore could feel the lives ebbing around her if she chose to pay attention.

The lifeforce that she felt enter with Aivrid’s approach was monumental. It forced itself into her consciousness like a battering ram of pure, colossal power, and she could not help from snapping her head towards the man as he approached. Recognition of the name dawned on her, and the sensation suddenly made sense.

It was good that Aivrid was open to the democratic process, for he could surely have taken the throne by force. Even better, he seemed to be offering his services as a sort of bellwether for divine favor.

It was clear to her that Medja was the only true choice for the throne. Not only had she called this meeting, but she appeared the only Vizier with any real interest in the position. Now, with the support of a few others here, Kiia felt more confident in putting her own voice behind the sorceress.

“I would not presume to have a voice in choosing a regent. However, should you assume such a role, Lady Medja, I believe your… unique talents would be well suited to such a, shall we say, theatrical transition of power.”

Her mind was a kaleidoscope of possibility. Aivrid’s intervention added new options, and Medja’s own strengths could already be mistaken for godliness.

“Gerra was untouched by fire. His survival against inferno marked his favor with Abtatu, and his continued victories strengthened his support. His subjects will accept no less from a regent, not one that hopes to wield real power. In other words…” She met Medja’s emerald gaze with topaz, “...you must survive when you should, by all the laws of nature, be destroyed.”

She continued. “If you can agree to such a feat, then I believe I know how we can convince the Abtati of your right to rule. Or… the right of whomever should be chosen.” A momentary dip back to caution, for a vote had not yet been cast.

“Of course,” she added, now moving very close to Medja indeed, “You will need all of the Abtati behind you.” Her voice had grown hushed, and her gaze did not waver from Medja’s eyes. “In order to do this, my words must be heard. Your message must reach all corners of the Empire. I cannot do this as a high priestess…”

“...I must be The High Priestess.”
 

Nym

The Viper of Salitra
The Empire
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Nym smiled appreciatively at Medja's touch. The woman had always been able to read her better than most and appeared to understand her better than she understood herself at times. She caught Lani's look also, another who knew her too well and who's presence comforted her to no end. Lani would have been miserable sitting on a throne in the middle of any desert and Nym knew that well enough.

"What makes you believe I would not fill the throne?"

Nym bristled at Aivrid's entrance, and she watched him over the rim of her cup as he spoke. She was, and very much felt like, a tightly coiled spring. She was used to working alone, groups and discussions were something she was yet to get accustomed to, but defensiveness and fierce loyalty to whomever had earned it was in her nature and she didn't particularly care who she offended whilst standing up for those. She was young, and no doubt in time she'd learn to use diplomacy and respect to her advantage, but not today, today she didn't even need to use words to express how little she enjoyed the dragon's jokes.

"You must build from the bottom, show your strength, make them know your name; no matter how you go about the business of the state."

"I believe more than any that Medja's life is a testament to her ability to build and show strength. She has risen from ashes. Her name is already written in history, the people already know her name, and when they prosper they'll sing it with pride and praise, not fear it.. My father never demonstrated what a good ruler was to me, Medja has since educated me. There are none better to take the throne.." she frowned, intentionally omitting any mention of interims or temporary arrangements. "And there are none with greater ambition." she added with a quiet laugh under her breath in dismissal of the comment. "Because she has not simply taken the throne for herself, because she has consulted in her trusted compatriots in democracy does not make her weaker than Gerra it makes her stronger and only stands to strengthen her worthiness." her brow quirked.

"Whatever course we take, we must do so carefully."

The Salitran Princess dragged her gaze over Ashuanar with a look of impatience but she kept her thoughts on his tiptoeing locked behind her teeth, trying not to pick fights with everyone who didn't outright vote for Medja. That made her no better than her father. She could bite back her thoughts, but her face had a mind of it's own and there wasn't much she could do about its betrayal. Her scowl softened however at the Annukati Prince's vote and she let out a quiet huff as it seemed they were finally getting somewhere.

Lani's view was as she suspected, and to be respected. She wished she had learned more from the woman over the years, and yet for Nym's shortcomings, she suspected that Lani's friendship was the only reason that she had learned any compassion at all. Nym offered the woman a warm smile, and turned her gaze to Kiia.

She watched the Priestess with interest. Another woman with ambition, and another who had her respect. Nym dearly hoped that she and Medja could work together, despite past events. She couldn't help but smirk to herself as she listened to the Priestess' hushed proposition, and she silently watched the two women with intrigue and aspiration.
 
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