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The Colorful Stone Kings Read 6664 times

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #60 on: March 21, 2017, 08:45:51 am »
She wasn’t willing to play, and he supposed that was her call. He turned the cup until the ear had spun half way around his own axis on the pretty plate. “I didn’t mean to hurt Fendin so badly.” He reminded her and then turned the porcelain back so he could lift it again. “He was being ungentlemanly and it inspired the same response in me.” More of a confession than an excuse. “I am sorry it took so much out of Adalaide to correct what I did.” And that was true. He tried some more heat over his tongue to help with the bitter. The cup fit perfectly into its place in the plate again. At least Elleseon wasn’t vengeful in the ballistic sense.

“I would like to see her even if she’s not awake. Sentimental Romeo shit, if you’d like.” He smiled with no shame. It wasn’t to save an image of Adalaide sleeping form onto his aching heart, and write the sentiments with rhymes, it was to make sure Adalaide was well, that Elleseon’s lack of vengeance now wasn’t simply afterglow. “I don’t have any favors to call on, I realize, but you don’t seem opposed to my being near her. Just a glance would be sufficient.” He petitioned.

Alezand looked around, rubbing his wrist as he took in his new home. He would miss his siblings, but they’d not been destined to control their own fates, anyway. At least Bemeidra and Lukan were safe. He could find pockets of happiness anywhere. Morning was affluent and that made life easier. He wondered if he’d see war, the way he’d been primed to in Howlingbird. He could have no clue as to Elleseon’s suspicion toward him, on merit of him being what he was. Since he had been given no orders of deceit, Alezand did not think in those paths. Every now and then, without turning to her directly, he would sneak a look at his new mistress. She was quietly dangerous. He’d only met a few like her. Usually he could pass unseen with his unimportance, but he’d seen the depth of cold wrath, and feared it more than Millium’s outrage.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #61 on: March 21, 2017, 09:43:01 am »
Elleseon considered turning him away. It was a spiteful impulse fueled only by the fact that she could. But she liked directness and he had said exactly what he wanted. Surely, he wanted more, but it was enough. “As you wish.” She signaled a servant, a tall young man who advanced on one of the adjoining doors, opening it for Carxer and waiting to lead him to Adalaide’s room. Elleseon didn’t imagine Adalaide would make for a lovely Juliet this morning. She’d had the servants carry her to her room last night, after she lost consciousness, but she hadn’t instructed anyone to clean her up or change her into a nightgown. She was likely still bloody and rumpled from the night before.

“But do consider, Howlingbird, whether you’re interested in the stones or the Stigmatist.” She looked across at him before he left. “I’ve been generous and I may continue to make exceptions for her happiness, but I won’t let you take anymore stones from my Court.”

She’d let him go with that, returning her attention to her breakfast while a maid hurried in to refill her cup and take away Carxer’s. She’d wait until he was gone to look sidelong at the healer he’d brought. She’d have to at least display him for a time, so that she wouldn’t look petty. “Present yourself.” She picked up her cup again, warming her hands and then tipped her head slightly in the direction of the chair across from her. “And sit.” Elleseon liked to be generous. Unnecessary cruelty was a show of weakness and Morning had enough subjects to know better than to treat them like slaves. Respect and loyalty had men and women willingly laying down their lives for the Morning and fear, fear of their scorn and fear of other courts, kept them from misbehaving.

The doors opened again and she heard Fendin entering the adjoining room with guards and no doubt, Tempus. Well, fear kept most from misbehaving.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #62 on: March 21, 2017, 10:54:10 am »
Carxer also understood the value of staying level for tea-table politics. So he tried not to betray himself when she was so gracious. But his heart swelled when she abstained from the friction she could have offered. He wondered if they could have been allies if the circumstances had not become so unfortunate. And if Millium also did not attend here. If he thought he was being calm in the face of her allowance, his eyes were fixed on her, turned away. Even though it was to consider her for sarcasm, he still looked slightly eager. He stood when the servant came.

“You have been.” Generous. He should not reply to the rest. This stone was rightfully his. He wasn’t sure her words indicated he could keep it, for her part, or if she was simply still categorizing it as a theft to be dealt with later. If it meant he could be with Adalaide, or even her freedom, he might have given it up. Of course, nothing in Elleseon’s voice lead him to believe that kind of discussion was close. “Thank you.” He gave before moving with the tall servant.

Alezand almost jumped when she addressed him. He’d lost himself into the scene between the two heirs and forgotten his own presence. He cleared his throat and hurried quickly to straighten his posture. He almost wrapped his arm around his own waist in the sword greeting of Howlingbird, but realized that kind of allegiance was in his past now. “Alezand of the Rysakk Court, Princess Elleseon.” He bowed low. “Please command me as you wish. I excel in field healing.” Which was a crude, fast way of putting soldiers back together. He wasn’t bad at aesthetic mending, but he needed more time for that. He hurried quickly to sit where Carxer had, hands on the table, palms up. It was clear his purpose was to be used in war, with such a disarmed demeanor. The healer jerked when the doors opened, and but kept his eyes downcast since he didn’t know whom he was allowed to look at anymore.

-

Carxer closed his hand hard when he saw her. The collar he’d opened in passion was still sprawled. It looked as though she’d been violated, with blood on the white of her attire, and the fabric mistreated like that. “Get me water and cloth.” He demanded of the servant that wasn’t his own as he hurried to sit on the edge of the bed. This was more than a glance, but it was still far less than he was moved to do. “I’m sorry, Adalaide.” He said mostly to himself when the water came, and he started drawing the soft, soaked cotton over her face to clean Fendin’s blood away. He thought her throat was pretty, still exposed, but felt guilty for thinking such indulgent things when she was hurt because of him. He wrung the cloth into the water before sighing deeply. This was the most content he’d felt since yesterday. He found her hand and started praying quietly for a way to stay close to her.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #63 on: March 21, 2017, 01:40:21 pm »
Rysakk Court. She wasn’t overly familiar as it had belonged under Howlingbird for too long and been a quiet one long before. She watched him casually when he bowed and then sat. At least he wasn’t crying about being gifted to another Court. Although, since he’d been a slave of the Howlingbird Court she decided he should be grateful for the change. He wasn’t likely to be raped or murdered at Morning. They liked to play at civility. The maid poured his tea.

“Field healing?” She sounded amused because Fendin was marching into the room just then. "I take it you're not squeamish then?" She thought about the Mayline she had in a trunk in her room. It would be easier to return him if he was in one piece again. Adalaide could do it but she had such a habit of weeping and judging with her big eyes.

Elleseon turned her head, frowning a little at the sight of Tempus carried between two guards. His bare feet were dragging on the floor, narrow body clad only in leather pants, his belt buckled with a stone the size of a fist, and his hands gloved, each buttoned with another, smaller stone. His hair was a mess but blood dripped from his pretty mouth.

Fendin stopped short when he saw the stranger at her table, his head cocking to the side. “Who is this?”

Elleseon sighed. “A new friend. You’re making a terrible first impression.” She berated half-heartedly.

The guards carried Tempus in to the room and dropped him on his knees on the floor between Fendin and her breakfast table. He wavered but didn’t fall, finally tipping his head back to look at them through his tousled hair. He smiled with that bloody mouth, fine cheekbone broken and welted under dark bruises. “Good morning, princess,” he said sweetly as though he’d just woken to find her there. “You called?”

Elleseon sighed again and raised a brow at Fendin. “Did you have to be such a brute about it?”

Fendin looked unbothered by her name calling. “He resisted.”

Elleseon looked skeptical.

“I had a bedmate I didn’t want to leave,” Tempus confessed ruefully. “I may have been showing off.”

She nodded and then looked at Alezand, considering him for a moment before gesturing to their new guest. “Would you mind?”

Fendin sneered. “He’s a healer? Why is he here?” He already didn’t like the newcomer.

Elleseon waved off his scrutiny. “He’s my healer and he’ll go where he likes.”

-

She dreamt she was floating in a great red sea, with a sky to match above. It washed her onto a shore of stones and for a moment she was warm. Warm. And then the ice crept in and a great dragon came from overhead. It ate her alive and she woke with a violent start, grabbing at Carxer’s shoulder before she even knew it was him. The light from their stone had flared to life, called her awake, and then faded again into rest. Her other hand clung to his, gold eyes flung open and mouth dragging in swallows of air.

She sat up and her vision blurred, body swayed, before she remembered herself. She calmed, not because there were no dragons, but because the dragons would never give her such a quick death as the one she dreamt of. She blinked and found Carxer there, confusion pinching her features and breath slowly evening. She thought she was still dreaming when she reached up and touched his face, a blush flaring to life on her cheeks the moment she realized she wasn’t.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #64 on: March 21, 2017, 05:01:37 pm »
Alezand was visibly surprised, even distraught when the cup of tea, brimming with steam was obviously meant for him. His head shook a little, as though to deny it, before he quickly stole the cup to himself, as fast as he could without upsetting the liquid and spilling it over his knuckles. He knew luxury to some point, Howlingbird healers were brought along to functions and it was important to boast of servants treatment, but this kind of civility, to drink with Elleseon herself, he’d never encountered. He felt out of place, despite having been taught the basic courtesies of noble interaction.

“No, I have seen some bad things, and I’ve been taught to be able to do my job anyway.” He replied. His practice especially required a strong stomach. When she turned to her other guests Alezand finally dared see who it was. He knew Fendin and had seen Tempus, too. Some defensive wounds and some blights were just purely the results of fisticuffs. Carxer had come in with worse on many occasions. Holwingbirds expected to train hard. His lungs filled to explain his presence here but Elleseon had already answered. Their repartee went on, and Alezand tried his best to hear it so he’d know what to do if they involved him.

“Not at all.” He insisted when she directed him toward Tempus. Alezand kneeled also and started brushing the light hair back from the battered face. “Excuse me.” He said and slipped his thumb into Tempus’s mouth, pinching from outside after he’d located the wound. There would be a jerking pain, but it would only be followed by two or three throbs, singing out into his head before the cut was shut and well. To take the color from the bruises on his torso, Alezand locked his hand around the back of Tempus’s neck to press his free palm hard against the purple marks. Uncomfortable magic, but very fast and effective. Nothing was broken and there were no large wounds. He turned back to look at Elleseon when he was done. There had been no real sign of magic other than the result, and a few stones lighting up in his vest. Carxer had seen fit to equip him well for today. It was hard not to smile and thank her for the freedom she extended to him. Alezand allowed himself to hope this court might be better than his last.

“Are you hurt anywhere else?” Alezand pressed, looking up at Tempus. This much healing anyone could do, even if field magic was quicker. Certainly it wasn’t such a beautiful trick as Adalaide’s craft.

-

Carxer also stirred when she moved about, anxious in her dream. He mouthed wordless commands for her to wake up when she reached for him, and he held on to her hand when she extended it. He recognized it for the nightmare it was soon, and tried to soothe her, but her eyes opened just as he touched her cheek. He held her steadily when she sat, and waited for her eyes to come back to him. Adorable Adalaide, and her red cheeks. “Good morning.” He bid and squeezed her hand. He took an easy breath, knowing she was at good health.

“I came to see how you are. I was worried they’d punished you.” He shook his head. “For something I did. Elleseon let me in here.” He said and then leaned forward quickly to kiss her forehead, covered mostly in her turquoise locks. He left his lips there as he closed his eyes, the scent from her distress still vibrant in her hair. It smelt wonderful. “I’ve missed you.” He whispered and then wondered if he could have her mouth again. It would be cruel when she was so recently awake, and weak. “I came here with a healer. Alezand. I hope you two might be friends.” He explained. The heat from their stone still brought warmth to his heart, even if it wasn’t searing anymore. “I would like meet you regularly, Adalaide, and I think there is hope Elleseon might allow it.” He said with a half a smile. “Do you think that’s possible?” This kind of courting was new to him, since most courting was frowned upon where he was from. It was strange not to think of bedding her only, and then move on.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #65 on: March 21, 2017, 08:56:07 pm »
Tempus watched the healer, one eyebrow raising just before he stuck thumbs in his mouth and sent a jolt of pain through his face. He cringed and hummed after. “You’re in the wrong nest.” He mumbled before the other boy pushed at his bruises.

He asked him if he was hurt anywhere else and Tempus smiled with a touch of sympathy. “That’ll do sweetheart.” He assured, leaning a little closer before Fendin jerked him up to his feet by his arm. He stood and waited for the next assault.

Elleseon remained seated, sipping tea. “I know what you did, Tempus,” she said it so simply and though he had prepared himself for it, it sent cold fear down his spine. “Do you have a reason you’d like to share?”

Tempus watched her take another drink before putting the cup down. “Romantic intrigue,” he cited.

She hummed. “So, no then.”  She looked at him and Tempus struggled not to hold his breath. He even grinned back. “Did you give him the note as well?”

“No.” Thing would have gone quite differently if he’d shown Carxer her scheming letter to her mother when he gave him the stone. He might not have taken it.

She nodded and looked away. “You have an hour to return it to me or I’ll put my new healer to the test. He says he’s good at field healing.” There was no real point in torturing a Sky born. Tempus could take a beating with a grin. She’d seen him put to the test before. “Your sister starts the academy next term, doesn’t she?”

His smile took on another shape, his eyes darkening and his shoulders pressing back. Just when he looked like he’d snap and call some of his storm, he bowed. “Your highness.” Tempus turned when he rose and walked away. Fendin let him this time.

Elleseon rose from her table and turned, drawing her long robe with her. “Alezand, follow please?” She started down the hall in the opposite direction than she’d sent Carxer. “I hope you don’t mind if we talk while I get ready. I’m becoming pressed for time. I’m going to be frank with you. There’s no point in lying to healers, the idea is you’ll see the worst of things, is it not?” A butler opened the tall door to her bedroom. It was all vaulted ceilings, wide cushions and tall bedposts. Everything was in dark wood and soft pastels. Everything but one misplaced trunk. “Whatever rumors you may have heard about me are likely true. It is my duty to do horrible things for my court. I do not revel in it being known but it is what it is. It is not your duty to do these things, it is your duty to heal when I ask you to.”
She stopped by the trunk to look at it, considering whether she really wanted to put him to this test. He’d probably puke on her carpet. She tapped it once and walked passed, a low moan of discomfort coming from within. She cringed because her back was to the newcomer and he wouldn’t see it.

“I needed an answer from this one. I got it. I do not need to leave him maimed and it would be simpler to return him in perfect health.” She had considered not returning him at all. “If you find that working for me is too much of a task or… in conflict with your sensibilities, we can find you work for another in the Court.” Elleseon considered on her way to her wardrobe on the other side of the large room.

-

She closed her eyes when he kissed her forehead, breathing in deep to fill her lungs with him. He missed her. He came to check on her. Her heart swelled. Her hand touched his chest, not meaning to but finding their stone. It warmed her palm. She opened her eyes when he spoke of meeting more often and Elleseon. A smile spread slowly but unstoppably across her tired features, a shade too pale this morning but it had been a long night. “Are you asking to court me?” She almost laughed, a mix of happiness and disbelief.

In all her daydreams, she had never quite imagined that. Would Elleseon really allow it? She really had let him keep the stone. And she’d said she’d make allowances for Adalaide’s happiness. Nothing could possibly make her more happy than Carxer. His gaze made her pulse race and his nearness gave her a sense of peace and need all wrapped together in a tangled knot. “Do you really think she’ll allow it?” She bit her lip in a moment of fear before looking at his face again and pushing it away, smiling again. “I’ll ask her.” She cupped his cheek. “I’ll convince her.” She said, suddenly brave. Brave for him.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #66 on: March 22, 2017, 09:44:50 am »
"This is my place now." Alezand replied when Tempus wondered about his presence here in the Morning wing. He hurried a few steps back when he'd fulfilled what he could do for the situation. It felt pertinent to nod when Elleseon talked about him, even if it wasn't a pleasant subject. He smiled at Tempus, as though to promise he'd be able to help him, nomatter the state she'd put him in. Elleseon had meant it as a threat, of course, but it would seem out of place for the healer to press the sentiment with his own expression. It was stressful to know about the private affairs of Morning, but he supposed it had been just the same in the Howlingbird wing.

"Yes!" he called out through his own tension when she asked him to follow as though he could choose not to. At first he hurried, but saw soon he didn't have to, staying two paces behind her, to the side. "I don't mind at all." he assured her. It was a little strange for her to be asking. He thought it was simply her way of giving orders. He preferred clean cut instructions, since that's what he'd grown up with. This kind of language was nerve-wracking to him, since it was a conversational tone. "And yes, I've seen soldiers come home barely breathing." He listened to her mission statement and nodded slowly as he looked around in the chambers. It was approrpiately intimate and lush.

His attention fell on the chest and he swallowed as he turned to her for confirmation. All he got was her back. She was busy with her outfit, and all was right again, with him expected to do his work while they carried on with their day. He wondered breifly if it would ever be possible to choose one court over the other. It seemed far out of his station to ask.

The lid came open easilly enough, which he'd not expected. The scent of crusted blood was thick, concentrated, and it bent his knees so he had to catch himself on the edge of the box. He coughed twice, calling on old practice to get him through the initial queasy. The body was in bad shape, but still breathing. Most fatal wounds weren't painful enough to be incorporated to torture, and would usually be bargaining chips rather than punishment. "I'm sorry." he said before gathering the broken arms at intact places to pull the man out onto the floor. There was enough strength left in the body for him to groan and gargle at the pain this caused.

Setting the bones was a bit like the art assassins excelled in. Alezand’s fingers touched the naked torso where ribs had been ruined, and threaded magic into the bones, moving them and stacking them until a bond could be made. The spell to fixate them was small, but as soon as they were right, a quick tug of the existing material closed the seams. That would hurt and the thief arched accordingly. Alezand went about this process over the entire map of hurts until he reached his head. Squeezing cuts back together was always more sensitive on the face. The concussion took about five minutes because he was being through. He imagined a thief needed his wits. In the end there was just a sleeping man, laid out on the floor. Alezand rolled him over to lay by the chest, since he didn’t really know what else to do. Putting him in Elleseon’s bed seemed completely out of question, and folding him back in was cruel. He stood and bowed in her direction. “He should be fine now, princess.” He said, and worried suddenly she’d started to undress while he was busy. He fixed his wide eyes on the floor, and didn’t rise.

-

Adalaide was quite drawing, asking so innocently. He nodded. “Yes I am.” He should think it was a good arrangement for anyone. Elleseon was more politically inclined than Howlingbirds, but his own court respected the value of familiar connections. He was being foolish, somewhere in his mind he knew that, but the plan seemed sound, and the result was very tempting. “Would you let me?”

Her bravery was inspiring, the way she almost boasted, but it also struck a sullen note, when he saw that hope in someone else. They were playing with the supporting latches of a dam, weren’t they? Still, he kissed her carefully. “You go ask then, whenever you think it’s the right time, and I’ll try to sweeten the deal as much as I can.” He took her hand and held it to his cheek. Red eye set in black orbs looked her over. “I’m sorry I didn’t see you before. How could I have missed you?” he stood and sighed. “But I promised her I’d only look, and now I’ve done so much more than that. I have to go so that we can see each other again soon. Let me know when you’re feeling better.” He would fuss over her a little more before he left.

-

Callod was frowning, overseeing the move of his things into the Howlingbird wing. The helpers were efficient, stones to make them stronger, and some moved by magic alone, but he’d rather not be made to live here at all, even if the halls were grander. He’d had luxuries living by himself, and a couple of kinsmen. It seemed the others weren’t placed so deep into the corridor as he.

“So dapper in the sunlight.” Millium said as he patted the white leather of Callod’s shoulder. Callod turned, a wreath of black vines breathing into thorny existence around his neck, moving amethysts. It made Millium laugh. “Oh? You’re going to pretend to murder me too, your owner?” he asked and some of the thorns started to bear little drops of blue poison before the wreath subsided slowly, scratching the white armor since it was a reluctant retreat.

“You make me sick.” Callod said. Millium nodded as though things were as they should, with that.

“Don’t you make everyone sick? It’s your trick, isn’t it? In a bar-fight you hover over the drinks while others throw tables. So noble, The Salec.” Millium pressed and Callod lifted his arm. It only got half way up before it was encased in deep red and the same color knuckles crashed against his jaw. “What, newest slave?” Millium continued and Callod was choking on his anger as blood became his beard. Millium let go and looked the pretty thing over. “If you’re good I won’t have you kneel in public. But if you’re bad, well, your bravado will only serve as ridicule with the things I’ll have you do.”

Collod looked away, and thought a thousand murderous things.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #67 on: March 22, 2017, 12:32:20 pm »
Elleseon had abandoned her robe and changed into a slip by the time he was done. She looked over her shoulder before turning completely, surprised at how quickly he’d managed it. She pulled a dress on, long and narrow with sleeves to her knuckles and skirt dragging on the floor after her steps. She was pulling back her long pale hair into a high knot when she returned to him, looking down at the previously broken thief. A smile pulled her lips. “Well done.” She complimented. And not a single whimper or whine or question about why she’d hurt the man to start with. Oh, she knew how healers were supposed to work but Adalaide had been an entirely different ordeal.

“Haden,” she called and a man opened her bedroom door, stepping in and bowing. “Find Alezand suitable rooms, close by, and see that he gets whatever he needs.” She moved to her vanity, picking up a collar of chainmail, pearls, and milky white stones to fascine around her long neck, the length of it overflowing to drip down the front of her dress. “And take our other guest to get cleaned up. See that he rests and eats and I will return him to his Court myself later on.”

She turned to Alezand, pinning an amethyst brooch to the waist of her dress, against her ribcage. It added a splash of color to the grays and whites that dressed her today. “I imagine changing courts may be difficult.” She considered aloud. She would never have to know herself, of course. “If you have questions or need anything, do let us know. You have classes with our Adalaide, don’t you? Would you mind keeping her company? We worry about her.” She sighed. It wasn’t entirely a lie. She worried about Adalaide. About what would come of her. About what she was going to do to her. And Fendin worried that she’d get herself killed or start feuds. It wasn’t that he was opposed to feuds, he just didn’t like it being started by someone that wasn’t even Morning by birth. “There are intrinsic dangers to being a Stigmatist in the open and she’s… sensitive.” Elleseon slipped into her shoes, lost beneath her skirt.

-

It was easy to say yes to Carxer. It was easy to embrace the dream in her quiet room away from all the dangers that lurked outside. It was easy not to think of the logistics while he was looking at her. And even after he left, she was cacooned in happiness while she showered and dressed. She was sure everything would work out until she left her room that morning and entered the communal parlor between their bedrooms where Fendin sat, waiting for Elleseon no doubt.

He looked her over once, taking in her soft dress and newly washed hair before looking to the book in his hand again. “Your awake. No one thought you would rise today. You could even make classes.”

She crossed to the little table and picked up a muffin.

“What a difference a visitor makes,” Fendin pressed.

She looked out the window at the morning. What would come of courting? The Morning would never let her go and Carxer couldn’t possibly mean to join them. There was no middle ground between a kingdom and a war Court. “Where is Elleseon?”

Fendin didn’t look up, flipping a page instead. “Testing your replacement.”

Oh yes, Carxer said he’d brought a healer.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #68 on: March 22, 2017, 02:47:58 pm »
Alezand had risen when she gave him attention. At first he’d not known what the praise was for, but he quickly smiled when he realized she was pleased with his work. He was a little relieved that she was dressed for most part when he looked at her. Millium and Carxer weren’t shy, but it was still difficult to know what they wanted, at times. Alezand wouldn’t want to be thought of as assumptive on his first day. It should be alright to look at her as the chose her stones, though. He nodded a greeting to Haden and was excited for his own chambers. He’d seen the way Adalaide was treated, but she was also thought of as family. This court could have been cheap about their gifted healers. It seemed they were not.

Alezand looked at Elleseon with a bit of wonder when she expressed sympathy for his new situation, and asked almost sweetly of him that he guard Adalaide. Again, it sounded as though he had a choice in the matter. “You are too kind.” He started with an unbelieving shake of his head. “And I’ll look after her to the best of my abilities.” Stigmatists were rare, no specific Court was prone to them, and since their stones were usually sought after, they were precious. Alezand understood the value of one such individual. He’d not let her be in danger now that they were of the same Court. “And if you need anything else from me, please tell me. I am loyal to Morning Court now.”

Haden showed him to the new rooms and he was surprised at the accommodation. It shouldn’t be too surprising, since she’d stated that he’d live close to her. “Haden.” He said when he looked around, trying to find his place here in this sudden, new home. “I would like to know Adalaide’s schedule. If I could get it I’m sure I could change some more classes to hers.” He said, already eager to please.

-

Carxer was attending his first class, and it was on recent events. His mood was light, but it had dampened somewhat when he saw the headlines. Millium’s father was depicted on the screen along with his war tactics that had won them the Salec court. Neither his cousin nor the assassin by birth was here for this. No wonder. The teacher went on about how unusual it was for a war court to take an assassin’s court by force, but as usual it was cold and informational instead of overly bias. In the Academia there were feuding families at any given time, and sometimes their wars were public. This had been a quick affair. At least most in the Salec court had been spared, by the looks of it. It did mean that Millium’s father would lay claim to Salec internally, as was customary. His relationship to the assassin would not see better days soon.

-

“You rotten pig’s skin!” Collad roared as Millium pushed him into his new chambers. “I hope you dislike sleep, Millium, because…” at once a had glove struck him, open. Callod staggered back, quieted by his excess of rage.

“Oh, you’re too sentimental about what is essentially just space. I come here to know you.”

“I don’t want to know you.” Callod muttered as he wiped blood off his chin.

“Don’t look so insulted. I’ll send Lukan here and he’ll fix your little cuts. Now. I hear your kind make statements. Please tell me more about that. I should want to make a display now that you’re in my court.”

“Our arts are for tipping the scales of the world, not…” Callod tried, but the hand returned, this time into his gut, faster than the vines could protect him. Some Amethysts fell to the floor as Callod sat there, coughing.

“Now, what is an obscene and eye-catching way of killing someone?”

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #69 on: March 22, 2017, 04:15:43 pm »
“He what?” Elleseon wasn’t prone to having to ask for a repeat but she stood there in the room, only a handful of steps from the door to the hall, with Adalaide staring at her with those big gold eyes.

Her adopted cousin wrung her wrists nervously, neck jumping when she swallowed. Fendin had been in the process of standing and almost sat back down, eyes narrowing as his mind reeled too.

“He wants to court me.” Adalaide said again, this time managing to push her chin up and sound like it wasn’t a question. “I want him to court me.”

Fendin started to laugh, a cruel sound. “That’s a joke, idiot,” he huffed out cruelly. “He didn’t mean it.”

Adalaide swallowed again but didn’t turn to look back at him, her gaze fixed on Elleseon and Elleseon stared back. “He meant it.” She pressed. “He meant it.” Elleseon watched the tears gather in those eyes, gleaming over gold like they gathered flakes of it.

They missed their first class of the day.

“And he said he was just going to have a peek at you…” Elleseon uttered lowly to herself.

Fendin tossed his book down and marched up to their side. “He’s making a fool out of you.” He hissed at his cousin. “He means to seduce you and embarrass you and maybe steal a couple more stones while he’s at it.”

“Shut up!” Adalaide snapped, one hand jutting out to shove at his chest though it did nothing to push him. He laughed at her bravado but the cruelty in his eyes grew with that laughter.

“Or maybe he does mean it. Maybe he will court you and someday marry you.” He whispered because the meanness in his words wouldn’t need volume to cut. “Anything to get a Stigmatist for his court. Won’t his daddy be proud when he brings you home. Do you think it’ll be a family affair, carving the rocks from your flesh and mounting them in his crown? Do you think he and all those degenerate dogs will take turns on you?”

She cringed under those horrible words, shoulders pushing up and head ducking down as tears rolled down her cheeks. They didn’t carry flakes of gold.

“Stop it, Fen.” Elleseon finally cut in and Adalaide looked up at her with those eyes and it was hard to breathe with all that hope staring back at her. She looked at Elleseon like she would save her, like she would bring an end to the nightmare that had been her life so far and deliver her into the dream everyone held tight in their chest. “Go. Go to class and we’ll meet you.” She ordered him away and away he went.

Adalaide reached out and took her hand and Elleseon looked down at it. Hers was so warm and soft and Elleseon struggled not to cringe and look away from her half-sister. She tried not to think of her that way. She tried not to think of her at all unless it was about stones. “Please.” Adalaide begged in a whisper. “He means it, I really believe he does.”

Elleseon pulled her hand away and turned, circling in the room to think. What was his game? He couldn’t mean it. He couldn’t think they’d let him take their Stigmatist. But this was what she wanted wasn’t it? She wanted them to swoon. She wanted her heart to swell.

“I’ve never asked you for anything!” Adalaide cried, voice big in that open room.

Elleseon spun to look at her in surprise. She’d never been loud before, unless she had a knife in her skin.

“You killed them, Llese! You killed everyone I loved and… and you killed our father.” She almost choked on it. Or maybe Elleseon was the one choking on those words. She wanted to look away but she couldn’t.

“I don’t have a father. I have only Favia,” Elleseon whispered words she was raised on.

Adalaide nodded, more tears falling down her cheeks. “I know. I know you suffer. But you can give me this. You can give me happiness and you can find yours, I swear.”

“Your still weak from last night. You should go back to bed,” Elleseon said, voice empty like she’d been hit one too many times.

“No! No. Please.”

“I can’t give you to him!” Elleseon shouted. “The things Fendin said were horrible but I can’t know they’re not true. He might be different from his line, Ada. Might be. But you’re still a stigmatist above all else.”

“Llese, I need him,” she begged. “I love him.” She took steps closer but Elleseon jerked away before she could touch her again. “I’ll give you every stone I make. I’ll cut them from my own body for you. Just give me this.”

Elleseon rolled her tongue along her teeth and turned. She turned and turned before stopping with her back to her half-sister. She pressed a hand to her side and felt that brooch under her palm, sharp against her skin. Finally, she exhaled and nodded slowly. “He may court you for now,” she whispered. “But we’ve agreed to nothing more. He can speak with me himself when he’s ready to negotiate.” She liked the cold words. They made the ground feel steady again. She heard the sounds of joy and disbelief escaping Adalaide behind her but couldn’t bear to turn and look.

She left before the healer could say anything else. She walked blind, not even sure herself what class she was going to. It wasn’t until a cluster of familiar faces greeted her and she was forced to smile and greet them back that she could finally settle into her usual expression—before she could finally feel like herself again.

Tempus was waiting at her second class with her letter in hand and an apologetic smile on his pretty face. He handed it over casually. A game played and won on his part. He’d no doubt gathered all the information he sought from it. “Bold,” she said, a warning in that word when she eyed him.

He bowed his head and followed her into the class.

“And my box? It was blood sealed. How did you get into it?”

“What box?”

“Right.”

-

Adalaide missed another class but managed to gather herself for a walk through the halls by lunch. Secretly, she was hoping to run into Carxer while pretending to have an aim for the school library.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #70 on: March 23, 2017, 09:05:01 am »
Carxer had not seen Millium all day, which meant at least two classes were sans his cousin. It was good enough Millium decided on a daily basis to stay here at the Academia, he supposed. Mostly Carxer had been busy with planning what to do, not to win the favor of Adalaide, but rather Elleseon, since she needed to be convinced. He of course had riches in stones, which was the only official currency in this world, but somehow that would seem too crude to offer. If he decided on that course, he better be subtle about it, which almost always meant leaving the gifts in Elleseon's possesion and hope for her cooperation. He'd do it in a heartbeat if there wasn't a risk of offending, wich was always a possibillity with the head of Morning.

The distracted line of his lips was pulled upward at the ends when he saw her, framed by other students spotting the corridor on their way to whatever lunch activities they preferred. He sought her treasure eyes and stepper around her, to join in her direction, close. “Adalaide of the Morning.” He greeted with a grin. “You’ve not been in your classes today. Is it rebellion in your blood? Are you that kind of woman?” he asked and smiled with half his face. Their stone hummed warmly against him, suggesting strongly to take her hand. It seemed a little early for that when there were courts folded in to Morning everywhere. “Will you take your lunch with your court? Or are you free?”It might be better not to be so eager yet, but if it hadn’t been for recent events, eating together would be no large scandal. He didn’t mind asking to join in the dining hall of Morning. Perhaps that would be better. They were unlikely to poison him, and it would give them a sense of control over the situation. Perhaps he could start working Elleseon then, too. Carxer couldn’t imagine that Adalaide had already asked on their behalf.

Sometimes he would eat in the dining hall. Howlingbird had its own table there, despite the staff he kept with their culinary magic at his own wing. It was not so interesting to listen to Millium and the other birds talk of war or subjects surrounding it, even if the food was great.

-

Millium sat on a lonely chair as he looked around at the boxes and displaced furniture. “You’re well organized. I suppose that bodes well for your future as an assassin.” He said. Callod’s sharp eyebrows gathered in his face, coming back from a room he’d already mostly unpacked. The case he brought had tricks held in the velvet dents. Poisons and fragments of his amethysts. Mostly useless in other’s hands, but he could use the blue dust to trigger the devices. He had some pride for these trinkets and held them up like someone would if you hated the viewer, but adored the pieces.

“There’s freezing spells and some explosive ones here. Most of them can be treated but we make sure to mask the signature of our poisons to delay recognition long enough for the victim to expire. Creativity will go down if the target is high profile, since they are likely to have warding spells.” He said and sat down on the floor, the open case on his legs. He pulled up a glass butterfly. “This one I conducted myself. It’s a vapor delivery and it has dust of my stone so I can target. It makes the victims into angels.”

Millium laughed, delighted as he slapped his hands together. “How barbaric!” he complimented. “I suppose you’re above just going up to someone in the dark and stabbing them until their blood stops pumping.”

Callod shook his head, increasingly annoyed with this one’s attitude. “We do what is fitting for the job.”

“Well, I’m sure I’ll be in the mood for something fancy soon. For now though, do you have any spells that one might use on lovers to turn them against each other?” he said in such a careless way it confirmed that this had been his goal all this time. Callod narrowed his eyes and pulled up a gilded glass bottle.

“An aphrodisiac of sorts. It makes the victim violently amorous and I can direct the focus.” It was exiting to hold the vial. Callod had not nearly killed enough people to satiate his need for it, not at this age, and he’d very rarely gotten to use the designer spells. Millium snatched up the bottle.

“Ding-ah-fucking-ling, Callod. We have a winner.”

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #71 on: March 23, 2017, 02:47:30 pm »
A smile stole across her features, seeming to infect all of her, upon sight of him. A blush was added when he accused her of being a rebellious woman even in jest. She felt an instant ease, like finally exhaling, and when he stood beside her she gently curled her arm into his without thinking. “Elleseon wants me to join them for lunch but they’re taking it in the main dining hall. I think she wants to be seen with her new healer at the table, to accept your peace,” she said in her quiet voice. “Would you like to join?” She blushed even more and had to look away.

“I spoke to her this morning about the… courting. She seems… uneasy.” She whispered, shoulder pressed into his, gold eyes seeking his out again for reassurance. “She said she couldn’t agree to anything more but for now she’d bless our courting.” She bit her lip to try to withhold some of that hope and wild cheer. It was so tentative though. There was still so much that could go wrong. But for now, it was good, wasn’t it? She squeezed his arm a little tighter.

--

Tempus walked Elleseon to the dining hall. He played the loser well, apologetic and wounded by being caught so easily by the great Morning princess. He’d play any roll she liked for now, becomes some day he’d see her dead and if he was lucky, it’d be under his hands. He’d gotten everything he wanted out of stealing her little box. Sure, he didn’t have the stone—it was the only thing that kept him from losing his head and left her unaware of his intentions. He’d been willfully indulgent of his urges—stolen a box out of curiosity and given away it’s prize in a fit of romance. How little she thought of him. A storm with no intentions or plans, just wild wind and drifting currents. Maybe he’d like to drown her someday.

Tempus drew out the princess’s chair at the great Morning table in the dining hall. It wasn’t uncommon for him to be near her or her court. It was nothing special either. There was no great love or friendship between them, but he was her subject. It must have bothered her though, knowing that he’d read her letter to her mother and seen her horrible plans for that Stigmatist. It was easy for him to pretend he didn’t care and that was easy for her to believe because he’d been playing at the same role since they were small children.

Fendin and a handful more Morning Court speckled the table, chatter rising from all around and not just their own vocal cords. Tempus moved his way down the midsection of the table to his own kin and sat easily, leaning into the comfort of one of his cousin’s broad chest. He watched her for a moment longer, at the head of the table, smiling that little empty smile and drinking her wine. He let his gaze slide over her torso briefly, wondering not for the first time where that Reaping stone was on her body. It was always on her but he had never seen it. Had anyone? He ended up watching the little amethyst brooch. It was new and not like her, too raw and delicate. She liked her stones woven into hair pieces and collars or sewn into her gowns.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #72 on: March 23, 2017, 09:30:43 pm »
He’d meant to be subtle. If the two of them were walking it could still be familiarity. It wasn’t such an impossible thought, them being friends, the runt of the birds and the half daughter of Morning, but when she took his arm he held it closer, to have her against him as they walked. The happiness that she served him with her smile was followed quickly with a kind of wonder at first, at how easily happiness came now, but was soon met with a careful reminded that she’d become his weakness. It was underlined with her good news, and the fetters their fate had to Elleseon’s whims. “That is better than I had hoped.” He said and leaned in to make it a secret. It was a test to him not to kiss her anywhere, then.

“And of course I’ll join. All my favorite things, you and food, will be there.” He promised and strode them a little faster. He could handle politic lunches.

The public hall was busy. With classes being as diverse as they were, and some courts having different dietary needs, it was always open. The culinary courts took shifts and the masters chefs were on loan from different kingdoms. He had a fondness of meat, as was the traditional food of his court. Millium, and most of his relatives didn't like much finery, but Carxer appreciated the art on the plates, even if preferred it natural and charred.

He moved into the part of the hall lit up and decorated for Morning, and flipped Tempus's hair on his way, smirking as he left the stormer where he sat. Carxer held out Adalaide's chair, she'd sit close to Elleseon, and he'd be beside her, on the other side. It would be odd for him to sit so far away from the head of the table, but he wasn't here on business, he was here with Adalaide. "Elleseon." he greeted before sitting down himself. He nodded to his former healer and Alezand waved from further away. "I have a booth for the mer-show later. You're welcome along with anyone you'd like to bring." He of course meant for her to bring the turquoise woman. "If your night isn't full."

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #73 on: March 24, 2017, 10:55:50 pm »
Fendin stopped talking to the cousin beside him the moment he saw Adalaide approaching with the Howlingbird. Carxer actually sat at their table. His eyes narrowed, disgust playing at his features when Carxer invited Elleseon along to the mer-show. “We have our own—” he started to say but Elleseon spoke over him, silencing him.

“That sounds agreeable. We may join.” Elleseon smiled politely. She’d suspect Adalaide might bring him to lunch—better than Adalaide sitting at the Howlingbird table.

A maid fluttered about the table, filling glasses and setting out dishes. Fendin went back to his conversation across the table, leaning closer to his cousin and both looking sideways at Carxer between whispers.

Adalaide frowned at them before leaning closer to Carxer and doing her own whispering. “Did you know that Fendin doesn’t actually eat in public? He just pretends. When we were still small, he was poisoned. Nothing deadly, but it wasn’t pretty. Made quite the mess of himself in front of the whole court.” She noticed the Howlingbird table across the room, more than a few watching them. Would they be annoyed that he sat with the Morning? Maybe she shouldn’t have suggested it. She nibbled her bottom lip in uncertainty but touched his hand on the arm of his chair, smiling up at him. “Thank you for having lunch with us. Maybe next time we can sneak away instead of sitting with the Court.”

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #74 on: March 26, 2017, 06:30:28 pm »
He was relieved over Elleseon's civility and was fast to accept when she silenced Fendin. Carxer kept a genuine smile when he looked at Elleseon's cousin. It was a bit of a task not to hold any childish formation on the bow of his lips then, since it'd be easy to taunt him. Fendin wasn't a friend, and though he was important now, by his association, he wasn't crucial. Carxer still made the effort. "I hope you do." he said to Elleseon. It had been because he hoped to see Adalaide again. They could choose to send her alone, or open the door to him taking her, even if no one else from their court attended.

He pretended not to see the secrets exchanged at first, but was fast to play along when Adalaide whispered. She was a good gossiper. His hand turned to hold hers. "That kind of event can make anyone careful." he said and smiled at the story. "Did they catch the culprit?" He couldn't imagine that person would still be alive if they did. He looked her over then, and realized he did not know Adalaide very well. There was far too much he wanted to speak to her about. He suddenly felt bereft of it.

"I think we should make sneaking away a habit." he injected and then his plate was served up. A fine dish, he'd read about it, but it would have been better with a little more blood and a little less presentation. He picked at it with his fork and the meat easily peeled off the bone. He was both impressed and disappointed at how well cooked it was. Mostly he was grateful he didn't have to let go of her hand to eat. "Have you seen the grounds where they raise beasts at night? Some of them a luminescent."

-

Millium hd his eyes on his cousin. If Carxer had the mind to examine Millium's stare, he could see there was very little disapproval in it. The more war-minded bird was perched well on his throne, carved out of wood and married with bone and rocks. He was not very vain when it came to furniture, but it was important people knew what kind of noble he was. The offerings on his own plate was either cold and red or burnt. If any of the patrons at the Morning table looked over at him, he'd smile with equal parts of char or blood on his teeth.

To him that court had become desirable. Not because of their riches, but because Carxer had made war with them a commodity.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #75 on: March 29, 2017, 10:10:46 pm »
Adalaide rejoiced in tucking her hand into his, right there at the table. It felt so natural that she had to remind herself she barely knew him. “They didn’t.” Her smile became a little more sneaky, almost guilty, almost. “I saw who did it,” she confessed in a whisper. “I felt bad for him. He used to work for Fendin’s father at the court but Fendin got him demoted and sent to work in the general house staff of the estate.” She sighed and shook her head. “Fendin was always kind of a jerk,” she whispered before sipping at her drink and picking up her fork. “His parents adopted me after my court…” She stumbled for the right word. Had she never really said this out loud before? “fell. But it was a favor to Favia. She wanted me close but not too close I guess.” She shrugged a shoulder, bright eyes looking up at him.

Past him, she saw Millium watching them. “What was it like growing up in the Howlingbird Court?” She’d heard all the horror stories. Morning Court certainly didn’t think much of them but she’d only really seen them at the Academy. Morning wasn’t inclined to invite them into their territories, even if just for parties or meetings. Morning might be a kingdom, but they understood the nature of War Courts enough not to tempt them into misconduct.

-

Tempus chewed, still leaned into his cousin’s side. They were a touchy sort of Court. Not because their parents had been, but because Tempus had been and it had spread through his generation like wild fire. He watched Adalaide and Carxer across the table, just a ways up. Adalaide looked the happiest he’d ever seen her. A pang of guilt cut at his heart and then his gaze slid up the table to Elleseon. She was looking back at him and though her expressions could easily be called unreadable, he read them just fine. She suspected he was up to something. He’d read her letter after all. She should at least be afraid he’ll ruin her game and spill her horrible plans to her victims.

He’d never seen Elleseon afraid before. He’d like to. He planned to. Someday. He picked up a carrot from his plate with his fingers, earning him the sharpening of her eyes, and ate it while staring back. She watched him a second longer, to glare holes into his heart, before she looked away with iconic disinterest to speak with Fendin.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #76 on: March 30, 2017, 08:50:05 am »
Carxer thought it was a beautiful thing that Adalaide had not told on the one who’d tried to hurt Fendin. He wasn’t foreign to absorbing courts, but Howlingbird didn’t assimilate them the way kingdoms do. He felt guilty now, hearing how she’d been treated. Even courts considered extinct usually had families spread out through the world. Morning had seen to that Adalaide was the very last. Again, he almost leaned in to kiss her somewhere on her face. Instead he rested his thumb between her knuckles and thought it looked right. He was not equipped to imagine Favia’s plans, but he’d heard of their conquering enough to realize she wasn’t a docile regent. “At least it brought you here. I hope you’ll feel freer here, someday.” He said with some gratitude, even if she’d might not felt that way, coming. He was of course hoping that liberation would be his doing.

“It was good.” He replied with some shame. He saw the other side of power. “I am not as deeply in love with war as my ilk. That’s not to say I abhor its forms. A good skirmish can be beautiful. But I’d rather courts exhausts themselves willingly. Too often war is not consensual.” He could not have lived and breathed the concept without appreciating at least parts of it. “Millium is quite even tempered among my gathering of peers, if you’d believe it. I am the runt.” He smiled at the memories and there was light in black of his eyes. “They don’t know what to do with me. Father kept me safe and taught me a modicum of self-preservation. Mother is a soldier, somewhere.” He shrugged. “it’s all for war, and I was groomed for relations. Imagine what kind of position that puts me in.” He laughed quietly and leaned in closer with a small grin. “The woes of princess and princess.” He stayed at this mere distance and looked at her with a bit of sadness in the red boarders of his eyes. “I want to kiss you badly, Adalaide. I think you changed me, yesterday.” He pressed his thumb tighter to her hand. “I think I’ll do ill-advised things for you.”

-

Millium yawned and put his boots on the table. A woman from Ayeri, the scribe court, their numbers and skills on loan to the Academia Eseleth from Howlingbird, was rolling cuts of meat and putting it against his mouth. She was unamused to say the least, but Millium had a good time, eating and shouting, arguing and gesturing at some of useful, war oriented courts at his table. They noticed he was more chipper than usual, even when talking about infantry and the credit that should be given to their mindset. They could not guess on what had elevated his mood. In his armor, the program of the mer-show was sticking out.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #77 on: March 30, 2017, 09:49:45 pm »
Hours later, Adalaide tried not to pace her room. She had dress for the mer show even though Elleseon had said nothing about her going or not. Her maids had twirled her hair up into a rise of pins with strings of stones dangling from them, making tiny sounds when she moved. Her dress, cream with the slightest shimmer of blue in the light, was another high collar to cover the bandage above her collarbone, but sleeveless because she wasn’t really meaning to cover up.

She was about to march out of her room, having finally gathered the courage or maybe just overflown with desperation, to go to Elleseon directly and tell her she wanted to go. She was about to. But then the quick rap of a servant’s knuckles sounded at the door and it opened. The maid remained to the side of the opened door, chin pressed down. “The princess Elleseon is waiting for you.”

Adalaide almost ran. It had only been hours since she saw Carxer at lunch but those hours without him somehow became individual eternities and she couldn’t wait to see him again. She swallowed hard, forcing herself to walk down the long hall to their joined parlor. Elleseon was there, beautiful as ever. She was tall and lean and perfect. Her blond hair braided back and falling long down her back, glittering with milky stones woven in. She wore blue tonight, bright like the sky at midday, with cuffs of stones over the long sleeves and bits of gleaming silver armor and fine chainmail draped over one arm and fascined around her waist. A silver and blue bit of veil even clawed across the side of her face, obscuring one eye and the corner of her lips.

Adalaide say the thin chain around her neck, disappearing into her collar, and knew the stone she always wore there against her breast. But what surprised her was the amythest brooch there, against an edge of armor where it met soft blue dress. It didn’t quite match. She’d worn it that morning too, hadn’t she? Adalaide might have been bold enough to pry if she wasn’t too excited to care.

Elleseon looked infinitely patient and somehow impatient at the same time. “Shall we?”

Adalaide hurried to her side and the servants opened the doors.

“Fendin left with the others for our usual booth.” Elleseon made conversation as they walked down the hall to the carriage waiting outside the open doors. Fire burned bright, making the gleaming metal of the vessel come alive. “I even had him take the new healer with him,” she added with the smallest smirk. “Never know when he’ll need a limb put back on.”

Adalaide looked up at her, not sure if she was joking or still a little angry about what had happened. It was so hard to know with Elleseon. She was so guarded. Everything was a secret. Everything a weapon. Every choice a move.

“Thank you,” was all Adalaide could rally to say.

Elleseon looked back at her briefly, unreadable as always, before getting into the carriage.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #78 on: March 31, 2017, 11:57:17 am »
Carxer was fussing about his attire, finally having settled on a long jacket with stones of fading darkness arranged according to their light down the chest of the outwear. He’d tied his hair back in an orderly way, and a silver chain wrapped around the tail at the back of his head to dangle with red stones on his shoulders, matching the ones always hanging from his ears. Fingers speckled in rings and shoes with an array of shards of golden stones from their mines. He corrected the green stone pinning his tie. The mirror approved. As he decided over the hue over another, subtle brooch, Millium came in with his arm over Callod’s shoulder.

“Dressed to make an impression, I see!” Millium announced at his cousin. The assassin was not happy to see Carxer, but there was something else on  his mind. Admittedly, the white leather base and black curling details made for good show-wear. Howlingbirds were expected to don deeper colors with shadows of red.

“You’re excited. I’m worried.” Carxer replied and picked up a cane with a fat silver mirrored stone at the supporting end. Millium was impressed and Callod was unmoved by the luxuriant accessory.

“Where’s the trust, fussin-cousin?” Millium chirped. “I went through the trouble to bring along the sour face here because he’s familiar with Elleseon, just so that you can get your foot in deeper.” He spun Callod away from himself and the Salec was grateful to stand at a distance. Carxer looked at the assassin who had no place in his heart, but with new light now.

“Is this true?” Carxer asked. Callod looked at him with dark eyes and narrowed their frames of lashes.

“My private life is of no conc…” but the pink lips were quickly parted by Millium’s strike right over his heart. Callod coughed and clutched the place of impact as his legs folded. Carxer hurried to kneel by the gasping man while Millium remained standing.

“Millium! What do you think you’re doing?” the prince demanded of the warlord.

“Ah, it’s just that he’s convinced me Salec is no good for war, and so I don’t really have to treat them as allies, do I? Also, wasn’t I just defending you honor from his ill-meaning insult?”

“If you want to help me wear something else than light battle armor to the show.” Carxer muttered as he helped Callod up, who quickly slapped his hand away. Carxer sighed. “At least you’re both ready to go.”

As the prince made his way, a small clover with a drop of amethyst dew encircled his wrist to hide in his cuff. Callod frowned while Millium was ecstatic to follow and see the little trick which the prince was blind to.

-

The show house was large, rebuilt for the mer-people. Their gills and fins were not from evolution, even if their fables tried to belie that fact. Fine salts, minerals with origins from great stones exposed between tectonic plates, were their well-known secrets. Their diet was rich in it, added when they couldn’t get wildlife that had been endowed. Most girls had phases in their lives when they dreamed and played about being of the sea, too. Carxer had found it romantic, to live a story like that, almost exactly like applied religion, but ultimately Howlingbirds were of the opinion that any group that doesn’t engage in war as rule is weak. He’d rather be swelled into a giant beast to run in the forest.

The show-runners had no trouble accommodating his request for guests, but reminded him Morning already owned a booth at the show hall. Nonetheless, Carxer and his two followers had stood at the rolled out carpet - where politician and celebrities mingled - to wait for the other court. It wasn’t common for students, even of the Academia, to have this kind of pampering access, but princess and princesses with military supremacy backing them were always prioritized. Carxer was first to hurry and greet them when they were let out of their vehicle. He offered Elleseon attention first, and that left Callod to reach for Adalaide’s hand. It was clear Carxer could not keep his eye off her, as well.

“Good to see you’ve come, princess.” Carxer offered the head of this court.

“She is always good to see.” Callod injected even as he leaned down to kiss Adalaide’s hand before standing and turning to the princess too, stealing her wrist from Carxer. “I was invited, and had no interest until I heard you’d be here.” Carxer thought Callod was rather bold for his position, and was also a little envious of his aptitude for this kind of thing.

“Well, that leaves me with one pretty lady, then.” Millium said and stepped around the two men that had crowded the princess. “You look beautiful today, Adalaide.” He said and took both her hands. “We have a booth too, you know.” It was a good vantage point, not necessarily over the show, but the audience. Howlingbirds like to know their surroundings more than they liked to understand the plot of a play. “But Carxer bought tickets for private seats in the main view. He’s a fool. Maybe you’d like to see the booth with me?” he pulled her a little closer, as though she’d agreed already.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #79 on: March 31, 2017, 08:25:33 pm »
A smile pulled at the corner of Elleseon’s mouth when she saw Callod. She’d been hoping to see him all day. He was delightfully bold in words and actions. His lips touched her knuckles and her eyes followed intently. “I won’t lie, my own evening just became a lot more interesting.” She spared a look for Carxer. She’d almost forgotten why she was here. How dangerously easy Callod made that. “Thank you for inviting us—” Elleseon begin but then Millium moved on Adalaide.

The blue haired healer stood trapped and still, like not moving might save her. Elleseon supposed it was smarter than running. She imagined Howlingbirds would chase on instinct. She watched her stigmatist’s eyes grow wide like saucers, body still as a tree, and hands caught in Millium’s. Elleseon waited a half a breath, the moment Millium tugged Adalaide a little closer to himself she moved. She slid all too easily between Carxer and Callod, smiled brightly, and took Adalaide’s wrist.

“Why, Millium,” she scolded in a laughing tone, pulling her healer free and spinning her elegantly to her other side, away from him and closer to Carxer. “how rude of you to try to steal my date.” She folded Adalaide’s arm into hers. She would say, if pressed, that she did it because Adalaide was her stigmatist. Because her mother had given her to her. Because she was a grand jewel in the crown she would one day wear. She would never, not even on pain of death, say it was out of affection or any sort of loyalty to the blood they shared. Her father’s blood didn’t matter, did it? It couldn’t. She’d soaked her hands in it.

Adalaide exhaled relief, squeezing her arm and looking up at her profile briefly. Elleseon wouldn’t look back. She had been so busy watching Carxer she hadn’t even noticed Millium until he had her hands. She looked to her Howlingbird again and felt all the panic and fright wash out of her in the dark pools of his eyes. She smiled and with her hand not folded into Elleseon’s arm, reached out to brush fingers against his. It was an impulse and she sighed so softly to be able to act on them without hesitation or fear.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #80 on: April 01, 2017, 04:12:25 pm »
Millium was left without his cousin's treasure, and grinned at Elleseon for it. Perhaps she'd shown something akin to attachment, and that could be used against her. If he'd been such a subtle person. He bowed shortly and shrugged. "I just wanted to know what all the commotion is about. Maybe I could have a taste for myself." he said, and it was a polite way of telling them he'd not been impressed. It would take something darker than Adalaide to speak to his fancy. Nobody would think it was an insult not to have Millium's approval, as far as loveliness went.

Carxer was grateful to have Adalaide closer, and finally breathed a little easier for it. He quickly turned his hand to catch hers when it allowed it. It would be hard to overlook the fact that Elleson was put-off by Millium, and Carxer hoped it wouldn't extend to himself. Slowly, he started to pull at his newest obsession to have her come closer, almost as though he was stealing her while Millium held her attention. His waiting smile would take any thoughts from treason if the princess looked, though.

Callod was happy to see his gift on her, and stood as close as cloud be accepted to Elleseon. She was possibly the only person he liked here, right now. His heart felt full in the worst way, though, when he looked her over, and admired her dress. Millium was happy and agreeable for a reason. If Callod could get her alone, perhaps he could find it in himself to tell her what he'd been made to do.

"Howlingbird and Morning!" a host said, throat wrapped in glass. It was a pain for the Mer to be out and about without water, but there were spells for that. Their pride needed people to remember what they were, and so they would rather use mechanical magic than medical. In a way, it was strange for them to have these kind of shows, since they were supposed to leave the world on land behind. Perhaps it was part of the vanity that drove these people. "Your booths are ready for you. We have a special treat today. A feeding box in each. Exquisite specimens in them." And Millium grinned at that.

Individuals with a specific illness among the Mers had a hard time deriving oxygen from water, which in turn made them outcasts from their own people. The Mers were known to be particularly cruel to them, and if they were pleasant to look at, objectification was common. The feeding boxes were simply aquariums that barely held the bodies of the outcast Mers, and the game was that you feed them crystals with already available oxygen and nutrients. It was a spectacle to see a pretty thing so eager for your gifts. Millium delighted in it tremendously and kept such Mers in his chambers at home in the Palace Nest. Buying one was a feat, even for one so affluent as a Howlingbird general, let alone to have a collection, since Mers didn't like to leave their own behind.

Carxer understood the cruelty, but was usually locked behind politics, prevent to say. And part of him did enjoy the dark satisfaction. He held on to Adalaide's hand as they were lead into the building in the grand manner that fit their Courts.

Callod stayed close to Elleseon. "I hear the show is spectacular this season." he said and felt his hand ache to take hers.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #81 on: April 02, 2017, 12:38:36 pm »
Adalaide completely forgot the fright of Millium’s attention when she peeled herself from Elleseon and walked with Carxer. She tried to pay attention to the grand surroundings and the mer people, but she hadn’t really come for them. She squeezed Carxer’s hand, leaning her arm into his as they walked. “I honestly didn’t know if she’d take me with her. She didn’t say a word until it was time to go.” She admitted in a whisper, sparing a glance back to see Elleseon walking with Callod. She looked… happy. “Is there something between them?” She asked Carxer curiously. Elleseon looked mostly like normal, perfect and poised, but there was something subtly different. Her lips. She was smiling, just a little, at the corners, when she didn’t need to be smiling at all.

Adalaide’s gold eyes widened a fraction when she saw Elleseon’s fingers brush Callod’s. She searched her memories but couldn’t find any of Elleseon having a romantic interest. Adalaide forgot her train of thought when she entered the lovely booth and saw the sad, pretty, miserable creature there in the small glass box. She looked away immediately, uncomfortable.

Elleseon looked sideways at the Salec walking beside her. “Will you be sitting with us this evening or do you have prior arrangements?” She’d stop at the entrance of their booth if he didn’t move to enter, as well, prolonging those spare moments in his company.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #82 on: April 02, 2017, 09:51:26 pm »
"But here you are." Carxer reminded Adalaide. He wasn't sure if Elleseon would ever be kind, not from what he'd heard, but she could see it in herself to be thought of as merciful, he knew. His father was the same. Even Millium's father liked the idea of mercy, if he controlled it. Rulers are afflicted with that kind of vanity. He also noticed the interaction between Callod and the princess. "It seems she doesn't loathe him." he said with a smile. It was selfish to hope this would benefit his own relationship with Adalaide, but he would never mean to use Callod as an barganing chip. A diversion, rather.

"I would love to sit with you." Callod replied. Millium had been a bane for quite some time now. Callod looked forward to some company he'd chosen himself, for a while. He walked her in to their booth and made sure to wait by the chair he was sure was hers. It wasn't hard to guess which was the favored seat. The Mer in the box sucked deeply at the lacking water with its gills opening from the sides of its throat all the way passed its collarbones. Male by the flatness of his chest. "I have things to say to you, Elleseon. I'm affraid you won't like it. It's Millium's work-- and mine."

Millium had not followed his cousin, but instead kept close to Morning and Callod. The assasin had kept the little conversation too low for him to hear, but he did not seem very fazed by it.

Carxer had lead Adalaide into the Howlingbird booth, and he noticed that she felt uncomfortable with the feedingbox. He was expected to be poised and also to take part in the most decadent games offered, but he'd never enjoyed this kind of entertainment. Still, he let go of Adalaide's hand to come over to the box where the female Mer clammored at the glass for him. Her eyes were on the vials placed by the box. He sighed at the cruelty and lifted one glass container and tipped all of it into the latch. She calmed down when the riches hit the water. They were always drowning, always hungry, so they would be more desperate to be fed.

He came back to Adalaide and gestured toward a seat. "It's cruel, but their existance as Mer is a choice. Even if they endure social pressure, there are relatively cheap spells to free them from it." He hoped it would give her comfort. "Unless you'd rather sit somewhere else?" It could not be terribly comfortable with the Mer in the room when you weren't used to it, and he felt very strongy about putting her at ease.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #83 on: April 11, 2017, 03:12:50 pm »
Elleseon walked into the booth and stood a moment at the railing to look at the arena of seating and booths and watery stage presented for them all. She looked because that was why she was here, wasn’t it? To observe what they offered for entertainment. She didn’t appear overly impressed but didn’t look too displeased either, ever tempered emotions in front of an audience, and turned to her seat. Callod was there, waiting, and something about her features softened just a little, almost giving way to a smile.

That softness vanished at his words and she took her seat, feeling every bit like the royal she was. It was cold, ruling the Morning. Her mother had never made any effort to hide that from her. “And you don’t intend to please me?” She sounded tired, distant, disappointed and then she looked at him and remembered that she liked him. She nodded for the seat beside her. “What did he do?” It occurred to her grimly that whatever Millium intended to do, he likely had yet to do, for it nothing Millium did was subtle.

--

Adalaide was caught watching the Mer, cringing at it. Beautiful and on display and oh so desperate just to breathe. She could sympathize. She’d spent most of her life as a despised treasure on display. And though she had all the oxygen in the world, she knew what it was not to be able to breathe.

She looked away and found his eyes watching her, waiting for her to sit with him. She smiled but it was edged in discomfort and sadness. What was she really doing here? Could he really make her prison walls forgettable? Was he pouring oxygen into her tank too? Making her ease into her restraints and happy to be close? She moved to her seat, touching his arm. “No, no. Forgive me. It’s a lovely booth. I’ve never been to a Mer show before.” She wasn’t sure they’d never asked if she wanted to go, she just never had before him. What had she ever wanted before him?

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #84 on: April 11, 2017, 09:06:03 pm »
Callod was uncomfortable bearing the news he had. He was attached to Elleseon, he knew, because she’d been agreeable from the start of the upheaval of his world. He was sure it was political, her extended hand, how could it not be, but also knew he liked her, and that was more than most relationships hoped to be during these circumstances. That alone would have been enough for her to have his favor. He wanted to touch her fingers when he sat, but reminded himself he should not. Millium was either pretending or genuinely deaf to the conversation. Good.

“There are spells that we use, that only we can access. It’s a concoction, for love but it’s amplified…” he started, leaning in, desperate. “Millium has put himself in the position of being our only bidder, you see, and my Court is bound to…”

And the Howlingbird who’d not chosen a seat clapped his hands together from where he stood, eyeing the available chairs. “Ah! Gossip!” he sad and hurried over, hand on the back of Carxer’s neck. He looked from the two conversationalists and smiled brightly. It was not hard for him to play dumb, even if he was neither actor nor simpleton. “Surely I can partake? Is it about the show? I hear a weak prince falls in love with a mermaid.” He said and tilted his head slightly. Carxer’s eyes were wide, and his jaw was sense, wanting to explode into the words he’d been meaning to deliver, but was bound from them now. “But the mating ritual is too much for her and her caviar.” Millium continued.

-

Carxer held her hand and tried to be a distraction once she'd sat and turned from the Mer. Better not speak of it, if she were to have a pleasant show. It was barbaric, but at least this much poise was expected of him. The feeding box was a gift, after all. He snuck a kiss quickly, now that they were alone. It landed on her cheek and he felt at ease suddenly, having waited all day. There was this sudden need for more, like a taste will do to the hungry, but it was out of place yet. He wasn't sure if anyone else of her court would come.

"They are without compare." he assured her. "The Mers have a subtle way of telling a story originally, most of it is rather intricate gestures, but they make it more fantastical for shows like these." He smiled brightly as the curtain melted away to reveal great aquariums with sets in their waters. Black rock, gold and green glass backgrounds. This was to be classical, then. He thought he might know the fable it was based on.

-

"Ah. Here starts the show." Millium said as he let go of Callod. "Be quiet, would you?" he ordered and Callod's heart dropped before he looked at Elleseon with sorrow in his eyes as he lifted a rose from his chest, and whispered something into the set amethyst.

-

Carxer heard the thunder of the music start, three great males of the Mer providing it from their open mouths, where they swam in circles in the orchestra pool with others. It was a large sound, and drowned out when he tried to tell Adalaide he hoped she'd enjoy it. Suddenly there was a sharp pain in his side. He raised a brow. His first response to agony wasn't wincing, not the way he'd been raised. He still dug out a little flower, a black forgetmenot around an amethyst.

His eyes grew wide and the stones in his earrings glowed, trying to fend off the compound spreading in his body.

"This is..." he started, and was already holding her hand tighter. He could only concentrate on her skin. She smelt wonderful. He wondered how her insides felt around him, and how loud she would get if he was rough with her. Would she like it? In the library she'd been keen. "...not me." he realized what kind of spell it must be, and it was demonic because it fed in to his infatuation.

He was at her soon, chairs toppled. She was pretty on the floor, inviting despite her upset. He kissed her like he was hungry, and his strong fingers were already tearing at her dress. The deep tones of the three Mers were joined by lighter voices soon, still too loud. Even the drowning mer in the feeding tank was aghast.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #85 on: April 12, 2017, 03:38:33 pm »
Elleseon listened carefully to Callod’s words, not because she was worried or thought it might be important, but because they were his words and the rush of his voice made her worry. Not for what he may have done or for what Millium may have done, but for Callod.

She smiled her most lovely political smile when Millium interrupted, turning her head to offer it to him fully. “Callod was just telling me the cleverest way to kill enemies. He’s just full of wicked thoughts. Of course, Morning would never do such underhanded things, but we appreciate the art.” She spoke eloquently to fill the space Millium wanted to fill with awkward silence. He was up to something and she had no choice but to sit and wait. Her gaze turned to the stage as the curtain lifted. Great. Mermaids classics while she wondered if the Howlingbird would try to kill her today. Had Carxer been in on it? Whatever ‘it’ was. Lured them to this place to—a chair in their booth toppled and Elleseon snapped her attention to it, ready to scold with a gaze when she took in the sight just before Adalaide screamed.

She looked down at Callod where he sat, where she’d invited him, and the crystal flower in his hand and the apology in his eye. She wondered if her eyes would hold an apology, somewhere beneath the betrayal and the rage. Her fist curled, arm clad in armor scales, and she struck him down with the back of it. Maybe if he was unconscious whatever he had done would stop. She didn’t wait to see, crossing the booth. Something between armor and scales grew over her dress and decorative pieces, black and shimmering, coating her arms and shoulders and torso. She kicked Carxer hard enough to throw him into the side of the booth and the base of the mer cage there, cracking the glass and giving the creature new reason to fret.

--

Adalaide had been breathless in confusion when he topped her chair, pressed over her. “Carxer?” Her voice had been small, almost lost under the sudden ripping of fabric. Her heart beat wild, balled fists pushing at his chest but unable to lift him off of her. “Carxer?” she said his name louder in her panic, tears blinding her now, arms shaking in their fruitless struggle. And then she screamed and the whole room would hear it. She thought she’d thrown him off of her or maybe he’d stopped, but then she saw Elleseon standing over her, moving past to follow her prey.

Before he could rise, Elleseon’s boot was at his throat, pressing him down, eyes searching him for some answer to all the questions that built up in those moments, but in the end, Elleseon turned to look at Millium instead. “Why? Why the game? Why the tricks? Do you wish your prince dead, bird?” Her voice wasn’t her own, not the one anyone at their academy would know, layered and dark. “Are you a traitor to your kin?” She sounded curious but there was nothing pleasant in her interest.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #86 on: April 12, 2017, 04:21:42 pm »
Millium was beside himself with excitement when Elleseon sprung. He leaned on the still sitting Callod as the dragon of Morning turned herself into a weapon. “I wonder how you clean that.” He muttered with some interest to the assassin, who had dropped the flower and his head.

Carxer had lost to the poison, because he didn’t know where it was, and where his heart was. There was an endless greed for her in his eyes when she was beneath him. He wanted to undo her so badly. He wanted to maim her and consume her with her dress off. He held on with a groan when Elleseon’s force took him off his beloved, and he had a handful of fabric for it, when she pinned him down. His teeth were red, a Blythe reflex, as he stared up at the princess and her new suit. In the black of his eyes she would see the veins, pulsing crimson, and their pattern had taken on that of little flowers and their vines. Salec designs.

“I want her.” He said when he understood Elleseon was in the way. “I will have her.” And he swung his arm. Before the arc had concluded, the extremity was a red scythe, aiming at her protected heart.

“It is Carxer that betrays his kin, dreaming of dramas and dances and little week children shitting stones.” Millium pushed the all but listless Callod to the floor as he grinned at Elleseon. “Why do we do anything, Morning Court?” he replied as new red men came to life out of light and then solid stone. His armor grew red and then black. “Because of war.” He made a spear to grow from one knuckle, and he easily skewered Callod on it so he could toss him over the rail of the booth. Though the assassin groaned, he didn’t fight or clamor for anything to save him. "What will you do in return, Elleseon?"

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #87 on: April 12, 2017, 09:13:54 pm »
Adalaide shook, back pressed into the wall and eyes wide to stare past tousled curls at the horrible scene swelling in their too small booth. She couldn’t look away from Carxer, even with Elleseon there above him—even when Millium stabbed and tossed Callod out. She couldn’t begin to imagine what was happening let alone why, all she could do was stare past her tears and beg. “Please. Spare him. Please!” She cried, shaking her head because she still didn’t know what was wrong with him, but something was wrong. It wasn’t him.

Elleseon didn’t look at her. She didn’t even look at Carxer, head turned to the side to stare back at Millium. Darkness swept over those orbs of sight when he tossed Callod out. It was for the best, she told herself. He could get more injured here than below. Her body twitched, betraying herself and that desire to jump the ledge and save him the pain of landing. She wouldn’t though. She couldn’t leave Adalaide and any more affection for Callod now could bring him more trouble. Her magic flexed out from her before she could will herself not to. Reason told her to let the Salec fall. He deserved the broken bones. Something in her heart moved that icy stone against her chest and a cold wind stole across the room, grabbing the falling boy and rolling him into another booth. It wouldn’t be graceful but it wouldn’t be brutal. Pain and confusion were momentary problems of her heart, wondering why she’d done it. She had been naïve to play at being just a girl with smiles for a boy. Elleseon was no girl. Elleseon was the dragon of Morning.

The crowd had stopped watching the mermaids and screams erupted when Carxer swung his scythe for her heart. Her arm moved, one clawed hand grabbing its blade but only slowing its stream of motion. The end hit her chest but she didn’t move. It scraped and screeched and a dark light rolled from her armor out, adding plates to her scales, a collar up her throat to her jaw and great black horns curling off her temples and twisting to either side of her pale face. “My heart is not there.” She hissed down at him.

She tightened her grip on the scythe she’d caught and would either twist the weapon from his grip and throw it aside, or break the blade. Either way, she’d aim a kick for Carxer’s beautiful face and then cross that booth for Millium. A twitch of those long talon fingers and a wall of ice grew around Adalaide, incasing her against the wall. It was snowing in the theater and frost grew up the great tank at the front of the room, the ones in their own booth beginning to grow layers of ice to crack around the flailed bodies of mermaids.

“Finally,” she exhaled when she rushed toward Millium, so low no one but those in the booth might have heard it, so honest she didn’t even know she said it at all. Her arms pulled in to her chest and then lashed outward, cutting through a wave of his red constructs, turning them to pools of shards. She was fast, barely visible in a dash. Black light gathered a thin curved sword from the air, one hand swinging it for his neck--hoping to distract while her body moved in closer, her other hand jutting up with those long knife fingers for his waist, aimed between the folds of his armor with the intent of pushing upward into his body if she got the chance. She wanted to feel his skin and his guts.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #88 on: April 13, 2017, 08:23:50 am »
Carxer, from under Elleseon, wanted Adalaide more when she cried for his sake. It made him mad with love and hunger. He wanted to see if she would beg him, too. How beautiful she would be, a turquoise rag bouncing on his lap. When the dragon stopped the blade of his scythe he pressed, but it was an unfavorable angle from which to apply strength, and so chains shot out from its handle to wrap around her leg in order to squeeze the blade into her. Before that cowardly plan could bare fruit she’d shattered the red construct and turned his world to the side with her boot. When he stood he had no interest in how she moved toward Millium, or how the place had turned cold.

He was wearing an armor of small pieces, flexible. The mask a folded plate with shards for hair as he madly dug into the casket Elleseon had built for her half-sister. His exposed mouth was soaked, lined with froth at what he wanted.

Millium made note of the winter wind but had little time to ponder the implication when the sword came at him. She’d been given tremendous power, fit for a kingdom. As the monsters face closed around him to protect him, its jaws swiftly moved to his throat, thick teeth of crimson and shadow parted for her blade there, and caught the murderous metal as he even dove into the assault. Both his arms were back and to one side, and when they swung, they were holding a short handled axe, it’s two blades broad and aimed for her offending wrist.

Whether he took her arm off or simply stopped the attempt at his waist, more red men would come at her from all sides, and the axe would fall into pieces that then turned into a cloud, enveloping both his arms as they traveled upward, toward her head, hoping to bludgeon it off her neck, or send her back. Millium was alive, and this was the most he’d ever thought of Elleseon.

Carxer had dug out a hole large enough in the ice to put his arm in, and reach for the girl pressed against the wall. It was not overly tender. As his fingers found her dress, trying to hook into it so he could pull her to him, a warm light sent streaks out of his chest. Their stone. He opened his mouth to scream but doubled over instead, coughing with rustles until they overflowed into fits of expulsion of black blood on the floor. When he sat down, arm still inside the ice, the vines had gone from his black eyes. He looked around, confused and then finally looked at Adalaide through the opening. “I… I’m sorry.” He said and touched the ice with his still armored hand. “I’ll make it right, somehow.” He pleaded, and this time his hand was naked from the Beast’s Blood when it came in and begged for hers.

The Mer was gasping, half its body stuck to the floor, where water had been. It was reaching for the vials with its food, and caught one, and ate inelegantly.

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Re: The Colorful Stone Kings
« Reply #89 on: April 13, 2017, 05:04:44 pm »
As soon as the metal jaws of his suit clamped down on her sword it burst into a thick cloud of smoke, freeing her hand to dart down and catch the axe he swung toward her other. Both clawed gauntlets gripped the blade before it too disappeared. A smile pulled at her lips, purple veins of electricity in her eyes. If he was anything else, she might have called him a traitor. She might have insulted his honor, but Howlingbirds had no honor. They had only war and triumph. In her heart, somewhere dark and deep in a maze of dark and deep things, she envied it. It was simple and basic and so so gratifying. She could see that in Millium.

She was forced to rolled her shoulders back to bring her face out of the swing of his arms, body twisting to dig claws into two more of his red sentinels. The movement continued into a twirl and she threw them both at him like rag dolls. She followed in their wake, a smear of dark and light, aiming to tackle him down. A long knife forming in one hand though it was the curled fist that lead her way, swinging for his face. She had done battle without touching her opponent. She had killed rooms of men without moving at all. But she wanted the mess of this fight. She craved it. He’d been dancing around it for years now.

Adalaide was drawing shaking gasps, tear stricken and trembling. Her dress was shredded, underthings exposed and skin red with a violent flush of terror. And yet, she forced her sobs into thin breaths when he spoke softly again, sounding himself. She shook, afraid it was a trick, but in her safe little prison, like a mermaid in a tank, she couldn’t help but reach out and touch his naked hand, like the mer sucking up food. The backs of her fingers stroked down his.

Fendin left his booth, not through a door but right over the edge. He jumped onto the railing of another and walked three to reach them—his eyes fixed on Elleseon while black armor grew to make his shoulders even broader and wrap his narrow waist. The sword in his right hand was enough to make him tip over and fall if it wasn’t so much a part of him. Thin, vicious spikes grew from the shoulders and knuckles of his suit. When he jumped down into the booth reserved by Carxer, it was the prince he met first, reaching in to a hole he’d carved into Adalaide’s wall. Fendin’s teeth mashed and he kicked the Howlingbird away, putting himself between. “Should I even try to understand?” He hissed, sounding honestly confused this time. Why such a sloppy plan? If he meant to have at the stigmatist it couldn’t have been here and now—in public with the Morning princess so close. He didn’t imagine for a minute that Adalaide was a real target. Adalaide was something to be stolen. Elleseon was someone to be killed.

“If you wanted war with Morning, there were easier ways.” He said, sword between himself and Carxer, even as he grew and threw two long spikes through the throats of red constructs moving to chase Elleseon on her path to Millium. Their heads came off before their bodies stumbled to sides and collapsed into pieces.