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Played by Offline Odeen [PM] Posts: 171 — Threads: 28
Signos: 1,295
Night Court Soldier
Male [He/Him/His] // 11 [Year 492 Winter] // 15 hh // Hth: 22 — Atk: 38 — Exp: 59 // Active Magic: Spell Warding // Bonded: Ruth (Tarrasque)
#1


Raymond.
and at his feet they'll cast their golden crowns
when the man comes around



Once again Raymond returned to the fields and swamps of Terrastella, only this time he came as he had left once before - on foot, alone, and with a clear mind.

The landscape had changed drastically since his last visit. Tinea Swamp seemed almost to have spilled over onto the vast fields that had served as his entryway into Novus. The lands were scarred by torrential rains and pocked with yawning, treacherous sinkholes. So this had been the reckoning made for them, cast down from on high rather than welling up from below. As usual, the two nations shared rather more than a view of the sea.

A modest satchel slung across his shoulder agitated the half-healed war wounds criss-crossing his bright copper back and shoulders. Inside, an equally-modest tome shifted against his flesh with the natural movement of his stride. Raymond had found both haphazardly discarded in what, if the guardsman were to be believed, had once served as quarters for Denocte's past regency. He had given the room one thorough walkthrough before insisting that it be repurposed to whatever end would best serve the court in these trying times.

Even in the wake of natural disaster, the red stallion preferred free winds and starlit skies to the oppressive closeness of walls.

But the book came with Raymond as he set out alone to do Isra's bidding, welcoming the brief return to his roots that such travel would entail. He did not fear the reception he would receive given the nature of his previous visit, though with his rage and distress long since burnt out he suspected he might play a fair guest to a less welcoming host.

There was not enough time to fret over such things. He would have to make do with what he was given, just as he always did. Upon gaining entry to Terrastella's subdued throne room, he passed along his credentials and request for an audience to a waiting attendant, who whisked out of the hall in dutiful silence. There Raymond waited, looking every bit as comfortable in the clean military angles of his current posture as he would bloodying himself on the battlefield or sauntering through crowds at a party. Ceremony came easily to him.

How might the flower maiden be doing now?


@Asterion







aut viam inveniam aut faciam

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Played by Offline Griffin [PM] Posts: 409 — Threads: 43
Signos: 2,548
Missing from Dusk Court
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 496 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 52 — Atk: 48 — Exp: 99 // Active Magic: Water Manipulation // Bonded: Cirrus (Pallas's Gull)
#2

Asterion
in sunshine and in shadow*
 



Raymond is here, Cirrus had told him, fifteen minutes earlier. Out over the city on a blue-sky day like this she was just another gull in a score of them, unremarkable, and this suited her just fine.

For a long moment Asterion had said nothing, sent no feeling down the bond between them; and then, at last, Is he alone? They both knew he did not mean guards.

The answer came swiftly. Yes.

Good.


He waits in the throne room. It is a solemn, stately place, but Asterion has always thought it a false holiness. Your people should see you, he’s been told, again and again, but he does not think they should see him like this. Ragged, worn down like old leather, a chewed bone. His coat is dull, the twilight of it faded; his ribs are slats beneath his skin; the silver shot through his dark hair is only gray.

He has never been so tired – but he is hardly alone in that.

The courtier arrives, announces Raymond, Regent of the Night Court. Almost the bay smiles; he feels caught in a loop of history, like another mistake of Florentine’s dagger. He nods for the Regent to be sent in.

When he sees the man, there is no remnant of the admiration he used to feel. Once when he’d looked on that blood-bright coat he had thought red, like my father’s, and the memory shames him now, a reminder of the foolish boy he was, the one he could not afford to be again.

Yet there is a part of him that wants to say something cruel, something scathing – to congratulate Raymond coldly on his promotion or ask if it pleases him, to see what changes the gods have wrought in Terrastella. But it is only the voice of his weariness and the last embers of hurt and bitterness and the new king douses them, buries them like the old coals they are.

Raymond is not Isorath. (Although the latter had only ever bruised his sister’s heart).

Another memory: the two of them walking together through summer-swaying grasses, still salt-slick from a fight. One he had gone into knowing he would lose.

How would you defend against a man like yourself? The voice of a boy who should know better, always too eager to learn.

Me? I wouldn’t bother trying.

Once more he meets the gaze of that red man.

“If you were hoping for Florentine, I have to disappoint you.” His voice was as distant as the winter sea, and nearly as cold; he allows silence to pool between them then, studying the red stallion for any trace of sorrow, any hint of grief or remorse. The echoes from their last meeting linger – well can he remember Raymond’s careless, caustic tone, his condescension.

And then he sighs, and turns his gaze to the colored-glass windows, where sunlight falls in lazy, rich hues to the cool stone floor. “Our healers are as good as is said. But they can do nothing for her mind – her memories.” Worse than her clear inability to lead, Florentine looks at him now with affection, but a vacant kind of it, as though they’d been childhood friends for a single summer.

It aches, but not as bad as some things do. Asterion has lost a sister before.

When he looks back, his glance touches the crisscross of fresh scars across his shoulders, pale against the red, and it makes him think of Calliope. It’s almost a relief, then, to once again meet Raymond’s gaze. “She does not remember me. I cannot say if she would remember you, Regent, or any of what has happened. But I do.” His heart is a floodplain, a sinkhole, an empty awful place he comes to drown, alone. Can Raymond see how weak he is, how weary, how afraid? Is he any better at hiding such things than he was as a careless boy? So many now depend on him.

“What business, then, from your new queen?”






@Raymond








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Played by Offline Odeen [PM] Posts: 171 — Threads: 28
Signos: 1,295
Night Court Soldier
Male [He/Him/His] // 11 [Year 492 Winter] // 15 hh // Hth: 22 — Atk: 38 — Exp: 59 // Active Magic: Spell Warding // Bonded: Ruth (Tarrasque)
#3

His eyes are filled with judgment
And his heart is filled with pain

***
As Raymond entered the throne room, he did indeed expect to see Florentine waiting for him.  The sight of Asterion in her place was sufficient to give him pause, lingering briefly in mid-stride before he committed himself to seeing how the cards would fall and continued on apace.

I have to disappoint you.

A knot of disquiet settled itself in his chest. His brow furrowed with stormy consternation that only grew with the star-marked stallion's lengthy silence, and he offered nothing of his own to fill the void. It was not until Asterion spoke again that Raymond released the tension wracking his body like the coils of a constrictor snake, letting his head roll back with a swallowed sigh before collecting himself.

Was Asterion toying with him? Doubtful, he thought; the bay had developed a certain caliber of disdain for him since he had severed ties with dusk court, but Raymond didn't think such a change of heart included a stark shift in character as well. Raymond pursed his lips.

"Look," he said as soon as Asterion quit talking, his voice clipped and joyless, "as much as I'd love to hear about what you think I did to your sister, I'm here because Isra asked me to be. Because her people need her guidance more than my fighting skills right now, and we both agreed that peace couldn't wait any longer than it already has." Perhaps he was not so worn thin as the new dusk sovereign, but being caught off-balance allowed a thread of deeply-embedded weariness - the kind that even a good vacation couldn't cure - to seep into the undertones of his words.

"I won't pretend to know what all transpired between the kingdoms before those gates closed, but Florentine's injuries? Those are the result of a tragic accident, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms that the one has absolutely nothing to do with the other. My involvement began and ended with trying to keep her alive."

In fact, knowing how fast and loose the flower maiden liked to play with her rift magic, his shifting associations likely meant only that it'd taken him longer to reach the hospital. Ruth would have come back sooner or later once the rift had been stirred to awareness. The red stallion loathed the thought of having to explain as much, suspecting that even that would not be enough to override Asterion's preconceptions. He wouldn't have said as much as he had already if not for the importance of Isra's request and the necessity of civility in such affairs.

A long pause. Raymond filled the silence with an unwavering stare as he worked his jaw briefly upon nothing.

"So, before I move on to my Queen's business, is peace still possible between Dusk and Night?" Or would saying anything more be a waste of his breath?

***

Raymond
Who is there to stand against the rider on the range?


@Asterion







aut viam inveniam aut faciam

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Played by Offline Griffin [PM] Posts: 409 — Threads: 43
Signos: 2,548
Missing from Dusk Court
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 496 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 52 — Atk: 48 — Exp: 99 // Active Magic: Water Manipulation // Bonded: Cirrus (Pallas's Gull)
#4

Asterion
in sunshine and in shadow*
 



He watches the emotions flicker like dim reflections on water across the red man’s face, and feels something like relief.

At least Raymond felt at all. At least he was not so scarred as to be stone, as Asterion had been fearing.

But then –

Look, the warrior begins at once, and the king cannot keep an ear from twisting back as at a horsefly. The next words, and their dead tone, do nothing to placate his churn of feelings, but Asterion says nothing. His mouth remains a drawn line and he swallows his feelings down and down, drowning them in the little that remains of his magic.

It is a comfort, that touch of sea within him – a piece of himself returned. Especially now, with the entirety of his world changed, to have back something he was born with – something useful, something strong --

Asterion breathes like the waves, and buries beneath them the impulses that are his alone and not those in the interest of the Court.

Only after the question of peace is posed does he speak again, though he weighs each word carefully on his tongue. Gone is the coldness that had first met the red stallion, but Asterion does not look away from that level stare.  

“Peace is all Terrastella has wanted with every court, no less so our neighbors to the east. I empathize with Isra, inheriting a kingdom when she did. We would be glad to provide Denocte support in any way we can, although we are in many ways…diminished.”

He will not make the mistake of entangling his own thoughts of the red stallion with the politics of their kingdoms – though he wonders if Florentine had pledged the same to herself the last time an ex-Terrastellan had been swiftly named to the Night Court’s regime.

Nor can he forget how derided she had been afterward, how criticized for inaction and action both.

Better, he thinks, to have this business done quickly, and with as little more said as possible.






@Raymond








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Played by Offline Odeen [PM] Posts: 171 — Threads: 28
Signos: 1,295
Night Court Soldier
Male [He/Him/His] // 11 [Year 492 Winter] // 15 hh // Hth: 22 — Atk: 38 — Exp: 59 // Active Magic: Spell Warding // Bonded: Ruth (Tarrasque)
#5

Raymond smiled at the bay stallion's reply, the expression both natural and unaffected. The expression was not for Asterion, given the likelihood that he would read some sinister motive in the upward turn of a lip, but rather for the happier news of common ground that could be reached between them - if only through the trappings of formality. Peace had always been Raymond's intent, as difficult as some might find that to believe.

"Of course we'd also be happy to lend what support we can, be it service or shelter," the red stallion said. "Whatever's happening isn't an adversary we can expect to just defend ourselves against; our best chance of survival is in working together."

These were the days that tried men's souls. Even Raymond, a paragon of lone wolf ideology and a proven survivor in his own right, knew he wouldn't make it through the worst of this on his own. If he'd ever entertained the thought, the thunderbirds had made quick work of that.

"With that in mind, I came to invite you and the people of Terrastella, once Spring returns and the pass clears, to a festival of sorts, intended to honor Isra's coronation and usher in a new era of openness and brotherhood for Denocte - and, hopefully, for Novus." Perhaps those were unrealistically optimistic goals, but Isra herself could be described as unrealistically optimistic by some. That was fine; she had waded through plenty enough shit to earn the right to reach higher.

Perhaps it would even work.


Raymond.
and at his feet they'll cast their golden crowns
when the man comes around


@Asterion







aut viam inveniam aut faciam

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Played by Offline Griffin [PM] Posts: 409 — Threads: 43
Signos: 2,548
Missing from Dusk Court
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 496 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 52 — Atk: 48 — Exp: 99 // Active Magic: Water Manipulation // Bonded: Cirrus (Pallas's Gull)
#6

Asterion
in sunshine and in shadow*
 



He cannot shake how strange it feels, to stand conversing with the familiar man not in a field of tawny grass that brushed against their bellies under a pale blue sky but within cold walls of stone.

Neither of them, he thinks (though he is, perhaps, beginning to see how much a chameleon Raymond could be) belong in a tapestried castle. As the red stallion makes his reply it strikes Asterion suddenly how absurd the situation is, like something plucked from one of his grandest childhood dreams.

The bay averts his gaze then to the window, colored glass in dusky rose, patterned softly with rain. Oh, Cirrus, he thinks, and though the gull makes no verbal reply he can sense her tip her wings further out to sea, can almost feel the spray against her feathers.

“Our best chance of survival is working together.”

At this he glances back, eyes too dark to read. Oh, Asterion knows it’s true; that does not stop the boyish part of him from wanting to protest. “Thank you,” he says simply. “You’re right, of course.” The walls around them then, the smell of earth and mud that pervades even this part of the castle, brings him back to being trapped upon the summit. How dismissive, how strangely lighthearted the Night regime had been, their eyes gleaming dragon-bright.

However strained he feels, however drawn too tight, it is still a comfort to know that those rulers are gone.

It is a little easier, then, to study the red stallion’s face when he continues to speak. Asterion listens to the way he shapes the name Isra, and wonders of this new queen. He’d been too busy with his own appointment, their own disasters, to find much out; he knows only she has been called a storyteller, and that she is a unicorn.

So he is curious – and if he were not so weary, might even have let his lips twitch into some semblance of a smile at the thought of another festival. Strange, too, to have the scarred soldier before him talk of parties; maybe Novus would change the horses of Ravos more than they it.

If the disasters ever came to an end.

“We would be glad to attend,” he says, wondering with how much more grace Florentine (or any other ruler, for that matter) would accept the invitation; but the thought of his sister draws his expression solemn once again. “Though I know Denocte is famed for its nightly festivities, I haven’t known them to host the other courts since I arrived here. If any of us remain in spring, we will come.” Whether or not Raymond catches the wry tone of the last few words, the bay does not pause to wonder; he tilts his dark muzzle toward his chest, gaze still steady on the chestnut.

He wants to ask, then, if Raymond’s business is finished – wants to keep cold wrapped around him like a cloak, a moat of frigid water to guard his bruised heart. But his words, when he speaks, are not so hollow as they’d been. “Talk of a festival may be answer enough, and I hope it is – but how has the Night Court fared the past few weeks?”








@Raymond this might be the worst post I have ever written you and I am sorry D:








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Played by Offline Odeen [PM] Posts: 171 — Threads: 28
Signos: 1,295
Night Court Soldier
Male [He/Him/His] // 11 [Year 492 Winter] // 15 hh // Hth: 22 — Atk: 38 — Exp: 59 // Active Magic: Spell Warding // Bonded: Ruth (Tarrasque)
#7



Raymond.
and at his feet they'll cast their golden crowns
when the man comes around


Raymond had always smiled more easily than Asterion, had learned from a young age to value its versatility as a tool rather than its clarity as a window to the soul, but even the smile he offered seemed distant and polite. It was the look of a statesman at court, a far cry from his natural, unflappably arrogant grin.

He didn't particularly care for it, but this business wasn't his business - it was Denocte's.

"There was a tsunami. Then, we were besieged," the red stallion replied, "by a murder of monstrous crows." His wounds itched all the more beneath their still-drying scabs for the farce that had unfolded after. That the beasts should be cowed by bardic pageantry and allowed to persist within the night kingdom after what they had done to its defenders, to Calliope.... Something black and bitter slithered in the deepest chasms of his heart at the memory, its body an ancient world-swallowing coil as it turned its heavy eyeless head upward.

Raymond blinked; the tiny click of his eyelids closed upon the feeling like the jaws of a steel trap, and when he continued his voice radiated more of his customary warmth. "But we've kept ourselves busy rebuilding where we can. Isra will be pleased to see you at the festival."

Even he could not say whether his sudden eagerness to depart was a result of remembering just how busy he was or a visceral reaction to the shadow of his own thoughts, but he played the put-upon gentleman well enough for government work and sensed that Asterion wouldn't mind if he found some excuse not to linger. "I must be off. Please give my regards to Florentine."

He drifted toward the door, offering a perfunctory nod.




@Asterion | worst post you say? hold my beer







aut viam inveniam aut faciam

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Played by Offline Griffin [PM] Posts: 409 — Threads: 43
Signos: 2,548
Missing from Dusk Court
Male [He/Him/His] // Immortal [Year 496 Winter] // 16 hh // Hth: 52 — Atk: 48 — Exp: 99 // Active Magic: Water Manipulation // Bonded: Cirrus (Pallas's Gull)
#8

Asterion
in sunshine and in shadow*
 



He listens to the brief litany of tribulations with a grim set to his expression. Even the colored-glass light that falls across the floor in all the shades of dusk seems muted, and it is strange not to hear rain pattering against the window, to not hear wind blowing its breath against the stone.

“And I thought you and Calliope might find Novus too dull,” he says, and though he wears a smile now it is tight-lipped and absent of humor.

When the red man reiterates the invitation to the festival, Asterion only nods, his gaze still fast upon the older stallion. His thoughts are low and muddled, much like the floodwaters outside; there is so much still before them all, so much still to change.

Of course he can’t know it. The king feels only relief when Raymond turns toward the doorway - relief and a slow dark sadness that is becoming too familiar. When the warrior-turned-Regent mentions his sister’s name, Asterion’s first instinct is to say nothing.

But indifference comes as unnaturally to him as cruelty, and after a few heartbeats’ pause he speaks. “She’s in the hospital,” he says, and the words echo and roll the cold stone floor .“In a room near the heart of the complex. If you wish to see her.” He does not add she may not remember you at all; he does not say anything more.

Asterion only wishes he could follow Raymond out the door, and away, away, away.







@Raymond -confidently one-ups-
gonna close here frand








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Played by Offline Odeen [PM] Posts: 171 — Threads: 28
Signos: 1,295
Night Court Soldier
Male [He/Him/His] // 11 [Year 492 Winter] // 15 hh // Hth: 22 — Atk: 38 — Exp: 59 // Active Magic: Spell Warding // Bonded: Ruth (Tarrasque)
#9

She's in the hospital.

The red stallion paused, lip twitching involuntarily. That was a kindness - if kindness it was - he had not anticipated, and faced with it he found himself lacking for one of his fluid, immediate responses. The ties binding Raymond and Asterion were ugly and frayed. They pulled like ill-fitting sutures with each twist and turn of their contrary minds, but beneath the welts and bruises those ties had been sewn with good intentions.

Looking back across the plane of his wounded shoulder, Raymond tilted his head toward the star-marked sovereign. "Thank you, Asterion." Softness seeped through the gravel in his voice. And he meant it.

Then he slipped out like a cat, the last glimpse of him a sinuous flick of his tail as it followed obediently in his wake.


Raymond.
and at his feet they'll cast their golden crowns
when the man comes around


<3 @Asterion







aut viam inveniam aut faciam

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