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Played by Offline eleven [PM] Posts: 10 — Threads: 2
Signos: 165
Day Court Outcast
Male [He/Him/His] // 9 [Year 494 Summer] // 15.3 hh // Hth: 7 — Atk: 13 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#1

Anatoly knows the sweet heat of the Solterran sun, grew with it draping across his back like fine silk soaked and sticking. Anatoly knows the heat of the Solterran breeze, scorching his lungs for taking it, breathing into him the fire of his people and the life of the desert. Dust to dust as it were, or sand to sand, Anatoly will die in this land as he was born for it, and it will be a privilege for the Mors to swallow him whole.

And for all that, he has spent far too long outside it’s borders, has grown lazy on plots and poison and predictions. He may have been born for this land, but he was not born in it; may have grown amongst his people, but he did not age into the finest of his parts within Solterra’s bindings. Stepping back into this place, feeling the drape of the sun and the burn of the breeze, is not a balm as once he might have imagined.

No, stepping outwards was a balm; teasing and tricking and taking, all that was a balm. Out there the ground does not shift beneath his feet, does not sweep airborne like a startled bird, stays steadfast. Out there the air sits like moon dew in his chest, sweet and tranquil. Out there is languid, easy, never wondering, never tasting blood in your teeth, never bearing a carcass’s weight.

The fresh wash of heat is like being born anew, blood boiling in his veins and air scraping at his throat until he feels he might cry with it. Aged like fine wine he might be, but here he at last distills; all the impurities, the softness he’d allowed to gather close to his breast, slowly evaporating into the clear afternoon sky. He feels weak from it, new in his skin, like the babe he was Before, but this, this cleansing by fire, reignites the ember in his chest and he is renewed.

No more. Years has he waited, learning patience at Mama’s knee and falling prey to inaction even after she had gone. No more. Anatoly is what his mother made of him, a snake in the sand, and too long has he been mollified by easy prey. No more. Anatoly is Davke, is a dragon, is of the desert he had been torn from by boy kings and blood and pretty words. No more.

Dripping with the finery that hides his nature so much more cleverly than a cloak, all of Solterra is open to him. There are none alive to recognize him now, certainly not looking so soft, so frivolous in his warm gold and gleaming jewels, scars neatly hidden away as many a Davke are too proud to do. All of Solterra, and only one destination.

Not to the Mors does he go, though he longs for desert sands and the remainder of his people, but the Canyon. Here, the whispers say, has there been strange movement. Thrill seekers, they say, getting lost amongst the twists and turns. Ghosts, they murmur, a Queen dead and haunting the only remnants of her Kingdom she can reach from her final resting place on the Peak. Refugees, they scoff, hiding from the King. The rebellion, he thinks, gathering what strength they may at the very edge of the Kingdom.

The Canyon is a twisting thing, full of stops and starts and dangerous drops. It was not a place often frequented by himself when he haunted the Mors, too busy tempting travellers into the dunes and spilling blood into the sands as he was. But his time with the Davke well equipped him for finding cleverly hidden patrol routes, taught him how to get around them to dive into the heart of a camp, but he has no interest in getting around them now.

Let them find him. He will walk, bold and brazen into their refuge if he must, but he will be sorely disappointed should he make it there. A poor showing that would be, a travesty foretelling failure. No, he will follow the carefully concealed routes, and head for their camp, but he will not hide in doing so. Let them find him.
@Seraphina





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Played by Offline Jeanne [PM] Posts: 289 — Threads: 52
Signos: 1,695
Day Court Outcast
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 17 — Atk: 23 — Exp: 60 // Active Magic: Greater Telekinesis // Bonded: Ereshkigal (Demonic Vulture)
#2

☼ s e r a p h i n a ☼

but I do wonder how they know
cause they don't die if they don't grow


“Fia” walks the ridges.

Walking is perhaps an incorrect word. Her hooves drift a few inches above the dry ground, the product of her magical overflow; if she can keep the rushing river of sparks that has become an extension of her soul contained, she does not desire to, and allows it to carry her freely whenever she thinks that it is convenient.

While observing, silence is always convenient – even when one is high above one’s quarry.

It is easy enough to fall back into old rituals when circumstances demand them, and she has fallen back into her role as a guard with practiced ease. There is some strange comfort to be found in repetition, and it soothes her to walk the winding desert paths, endless and lonely; she feels untouchable and untouched. She designs patrols and sends scouts to follow them, but, with sword at hip and arrow at chest, she works alone. They are outnumbered as it is, a fledgling resistance that could be snuffed out all too easily if they caught the attention of the court’s new Sovereign, and, with her magic and her weaponry, she is more than capable of defending herself against any threat the desert could throw at her.

The figure on the ground below – in the canyon proper – is a lean, dark bay with a curved sickle of a horn and a tail that reminds her of a particularly hairy lion’s. There is a glint of gold to him that catches her attention; trinkets, but she is not sure what to think of them yet. She cannot make out much of his form from this distance, but she decides that he is no stranger to this desert. There is too much ease to his stride, to the way that he navigates the tight, serpentine coils of the canyon. As a guard, she spent years accompanying citizens and strangers alike through the deserts of Solterra, and his motions do not seem like those of an unwitting traveler – he is too familiar.

And, as he weaves further and further into the canyons, she decides that he is getting too close. Is he searching for them? A refugee from the court? A noble? A spy? A guard or a soldier, sent by Raum to investigate the rumors that were beginning to swirl around the canyon? It was impossible to tell, from such a distance, but she knew that she recognized everyone in her rebellion, and he was certainly not one of her members.

Seraphina, with a fleeting glance towards the canyon walls, begins to pick out a path to the ground.

When she finds one – a slender, precariously serpentine thing that barely edges out from the canyon walls – she edges down it carefully. Although she can hover, Seraphina doesn’t want to find out what would happen if she fell. She picks her way to the ground very, very slowly; she was already behind him, when she began her descent, but this has put even further distance between them. She can no longer see him; he has passed around a bend.

But she can move like a gust of wind – her hooves need not even touch the ground, and, with the arrow tucked into the soft coils of her scarf and the blade at her side, she need not get close to cut him open. (Her mind is becoming a frightening thing to behold; not so frightening as Isra, perhaps, who can shape reality itself to her will, but frightening in its raw force, in the way that it is unbending. Her thoughts cannot create, but they can slaughter. Even from a distance, she is a lethal thing.)

She does not, however, drift. She walks, her hooves a steady clack against the harsh, dry patchwork of stone and sand that makes up the floor of the canyon; she doesn’t want to guise her presence. Quite the opposite, in fact – she wants him to know that she is coming.

She winds around the bend. Faces him, with some distance still between them. Stops.

Her voice comes low and lilting; native Solterran. She makes no effort to hide her accent, though her tone, in spite of her armor and visible weaponry, seems unassuming. “Are you lost, stranger?”

Seraphina would have cut directly to the chase – but Fia can play the fool, when it suits her.



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tags | @Anatoly
notes | sorry this took so long, lovely <3 I really am excited for this thread.




@







I'M IN A ROOM MADE OUT OF MIRRORS
and there's no way to escape the violence of a girl against herself


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence



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Played by Offline eleven [PM] Posts: 10 — Threads: 2
Signos: 165
Day Court Outcast
Male [He/Him/His] // 9 [Year 494 Summer] // 15.3 hh // Hth: 7 — Atk: 13 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#3

A low sound starts up behind him, the first beat of a hoof on stone and sand, and his ear flicks back to catch it. Finally, here at last is the guard dog, done chasing tails and come to confront the suspect edging ever closer to the heart of this little operation. What luck that they finally catch up here.

The walls are close to his shoulders, close enough that he could not turn even if he absolutely must, but behind is wide, and so is ahead. Clack clack clack clack comes from behind, and he continues until he can turn and face it, the chokepoint several feet long between them. What a clever thing to keep in your patrol, a way to ensure any army following will be forced to come single file. He’s almost proud.

The figure that turns around the bend is coated in cloudy dusk and streaked ever so carefully with white. She’s lean, and strong, and has built herself up for war. A startling, burgeoning respect curls against the base of his throat as Mama’s tutelage comes to the fore and he compares flashcards of descriptions with the being in front of him.

Well, hello Queeny, he thinks, but doesn’t say, doesn’t tease. It stays neatly tucked behind his lips even has they curve into a gentle smile. You’ve a royal baring to you, is similarly discarded. He wants her to know that he knows, but he also doesn’t want this to devolve into a, shall we say, disagreement. Killing the Queen would rather disrupt his entire venture, wouldn’t it? (There’s a sword at her side, probably something fiercer in her mind. He’d like to think he’d win, but she’s laughed in the face of death only recently, so who’s to say?)

Now wherever did she come from? It’s a bit of a mystery, and he’s curious despite himself, but one doesn’t simply ruin a hooded stranger’s mystique by asking questions like that in polite society. (There tends to be a lot more screaming and calling for guards, but he’s always found that to be in bad taste and terribly overdone besides.) Still, it’s something to keep in mind.

They eye each other across the distance, her playing a modest little game of misdirection, and he wonders how many misinformed fools she’s turned away with such a pretty act. It’s a clever ploy to be sure, and despite the coils of fabric, the shine of armour, and the sword she wears so well at her side, it somehow befits her. It would be charming to play along for a time…

But such a thing would be terrible for long term relations. “Not at all madame.” He keeps a touch of his courtly charm but gone is the accent he’s tailored for ballrooms; at last his voice is free to settle into the lilting patterns so similar to hers. “Wandering old haunts.” He shrugs and his smile ticks to the side, but he hides his mirth even as he asks, “Are you haunting the canyon as well?”

Haunting indeed. He looks forward to her reaction even as he continues without any expectation for a reply to that very hypothetical question, “Ah, but I’ve been out of country for some time. The climate’s taken a turn for the worse, wouldn’t you say? If it continues as it is, I don’t think I’ll be here long.” He tilts his head, leading, shrugs again. “But listen to me, nattering on, I’m Anatoly. What have you taken to calling yourself?”

Honestly, he couldn’t be more obviously unobvious if he tried. Hopefully she’ll give him something amusing to work with for his troubles.


@Seraphina i'm excited too! don't mind the speedy reply, lol






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Played by Offline Jeanne [PM] Posts: 289 — Threads: 52
Signos: 1,695
Day Court Outcast
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 17 — Atk: 23 — Exp: 60 // Active Magic: Greater Telekinesis // Bonded: Ereshkigal (Demonic Vulture)
#4

☼ s e r a p h i n a ☼

but I do wonder how they know
cause they don't die if they don't grow


He approaches her smoothly – nonthreateningly -, those dark lips curling into the barest ghost of a pleasant smile. Seraphina still doesn’t allow herself to relax, not yet; a pretty smile doesn’t guarantee pretty intentions, least of all in Solterra, where ornamental things are apt to die the quickest and most brutal deaths. (She can admire lovely, because lovely makes her think of a sort of gentle touch that her sand-swept, war-torn land deprives its inhabitants, but she doesn’t have much use for it, unless it’s lovely in the way that a well-crafted dagger is lovely.) She eyes him thoughtfully, trying to discern his intentions from the twitches and twists of his features. He doesn’t seem like a threat – yet, but she’s not too terribly concerned if he is – yet.

“Not at all, Madame.” A Solterran with manners; a rare novelty. She arches her brows, very slightly, as she notes his accent – so similar to hers, with just the faintest touch of courtly pleasantries. “Wandering old haunts. Are you haunting the canyon as well?” There is too much intent in that statement. Haunting. Like some queenly ghost. She wants to dismiss it as paranoia, but perhaps he has discerned her identity, which makes him very clever (for pinpointing her so easily), very foolish (for revealing his hand so easily), or very dangerous (for recognizing the truth) – possibly some mixture of the three. And he could work for Raum; he could have been sent to ferret her out.

At any rate, she doesn’t bite – yet.

“I’m just staying out of the way of the new king,” she demurs politely, that odd-eyed gaze unreadable. “If I were you, stranger, I’d probably do the same. Solterra isn’t safe.” Solterra is never safe, for the unwary, but she recognizes his accent as that of a fellow Solterran’s, so he’s probably in no danger of sandwyrms and teryrs – but the nation’s newest Sovereign, while lacking in their brute force, is crafty, volatile, indiscriminately destructive, and capable of defeating her in combat. (But not now, she likes to hope. She imagines dragging her blade along the curve of his pretty, slender little silver throat, on occasion, and immediately disgusts herself in the process, because she has never much liked killing. It has always been a brutal necessity, but it probably isn’t the violence that appeals to her. No, it is the promise that his death will put an end to all of this, that his death will be her freedom; that is what attracts her to the image, not the blood, not the soft pull of flesh as the blade carves it open, not the promise of electric blue eyes gone glossy and discolored.)

“Ah, but I’ve been out of country for some time. The climate’s taken a turn for the worse, wouldn’t you say? If it continues as it is, I don’t think I’ll be here long.” If he is one of Raum’s, this is his attempt to bait her into making some negative remark about Solterra’s beloved Sovereign, comparable to treason; but, if he is one of Raum’s, she suspects she’ll have to kill him anyways. But she doesn’t know if he is or not, yet, and it’s a dangerous thing to make assumptions. (He hasn’t been hostile yet, and, if he went and remarked on the quality of Raum’s rule to the wrong people, he could easily get his throat slit. Perhaps he is an ally – perhaps that is what brought him to the canyon.) “But listen to me, nattering on, I’m Anatoly. What have you taken to calling yourself?”

“Certainly. The sovereign seems bent on this country’s destruction.” She doesn’t bother lying about that – gauging his reaction will give her some idea of his intentions, or so she hopes. “Call me Fia.” That’s not quite a lie, either; she isn’t willing to give away Seraphina so easily, so Fia will have to do, until he proves himself trustworthy. She dips her head politely. “A pleasure to meet you, Anatoly – what brings you back at such a troubled time?”



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tags | @Anatoly
notes | <3 <3 <3




@







I'M IN A ROOM MADE OUT OF MIRRORS
and there's no way to escape the violence of a girl against herself


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence



Reply




Played by Offline eleven [PM] Posts: 10 — Threads: 2
Signos: 165
Day Court Outcast
Male [He/Him/His] // 9 [Year 494 Summer] // 15.3 hh // Hth: 7 — Atk: 13 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#5

Anatoly laughs, bright and fierce. “Safe? Surely Solterra’s charm has never been in its safety, Madame.” This land has always been one of heat and death and legendary beasts, and he wouldn’t have it any other way. The outside world is a soft thing in comparison, all dulled edges and the knowledge that, with the correct precautions, you wouldn’t be struck down by something hiding beneath your feet or the emptiness of your stomach or the thickness of your blood when water ran too scarce. “The most fearsome of monarchs have yet to manage to tame this land into something so pretty.” And why should they? Safety is so terribly boring after all, leads to weak willed fools who can be tempted into spilling secrets with a touch of kindness, or a suggestive smirk and hooded eyes. No, safety is a useless platitude, an amusing pastime formed from lies and intermittent bloodshed. Really, it isn’t much more than a bother. “Why ever would I fear this dangerous King more than any monarch past?” He asks, ears pricked forward, truly interested in what her reasoning might be.

Could it be that Queeny is still frightened by the very idea of who everyone presumed to be her killer? Hopefully not, for while wariness he might understand, fear is a useless barricade she really must overcome before the castle comes tumbling down on their heads. Crippling fear is something he will not allow in a leader, and as disappointing as it might be, if she is truly afraid he may need to set in place a more promising general for this little rebellion of hers.

Never mind that, figurehead or something greater he still needs her favour to get access to this whole business and some say in how it operates. (There needs to be a way for him to perform checks and balances, just in case he finds them charging head first off a cliff for the glory of it – and like hell he’ll settle for being a simple foot soldier in this crusade.) And at least she is a clever one, immediately sussing out the truth of his turn of phrase; she doesn’t seem to think for an instant that he might be talking about the weather like a common tourist unused to the constant sun and pressing heat.

Then, at her frank admittance of her true feelings, his grin widens a little further. Naughty naughty. Is it bravery or foolishness, speaking so plainly to a stranger about such a… political topic? Well, that rather depends on if she can back it up. He certainly hopes so. (He thinks, just maybe, she might.)

Truthfully, he has no personal quarrel with the King, his stance on the opposite side is purely because someone needs to put in a good word for the Davke. Regardless of who wins in the end (and Anatoly means to see that he wins), if the people come to hate and fear the whole of them as they hate and fear the King, no monarch present or future will allow them to live for long. Once, maybe, they could have survived a monarch’s ire, a people’s ire, but the previous Matriarch had ruined that in a fit of madness. No, Anatoly has learned his lesson: no Queen, no Matriarch, will allow their numbers to run themselves bloody against a wall of shields and swords and keep his loyalty. No, Anatoly cannot stand anywhere but opposite the current Khan while she promises such a future with her actions.

Still, he bows his head as though agreeing.

“Truly, Madame Fia, the pleasure is mutual.” He smiles again, courtly and charming and just a hint laughing. Part of him wants to mock – Oh, so we’re going by nicknames, are we? You must call me Ana. – but he thinks that might be pushing things a touch too far. Let her come to him, he must not chase her away with too much knowledge, with too forward a goad. This is all about building trust, building favour, and she is terribly good at playing this game. He doesn’t want to end things too soon, not when he’s spent far too long without such an interesting challenge.

As for her question? Well, the Davke were just one big dysfunctional family at the end of the day.  “Just some distant relations making questionable decisions.” He shrugs. There really is no accounting in taste, and he can’t say he blames his fellows for rushing to the first Khan brave enough to take the mantle – he too has missed the comradery something fierce. “Family:” he sighs, put upon and grinning, “always trying to get the rest of us killed, you know?” Really, he was terribly fond of the nostalgia tinted memories full of skirmishes and raids alongside his fellows’.


@Seraphina || i had far too much fun writing this xD






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Played by Offline Jeanne [PM] Posts: 289 — Threads: 52
Signos: 1,695
Day Court Outcast
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 17 — Atk: 23 — Exp: 60 // Active Magic: Greater Telekinesis // Bonded: Ereshkigal (Demonic Vulture)
#6

☼ s e r a p h i n a ☼

hate to see you lose you in illusion
don't forget who's watching you


“Safe? Surely Solterra’s charm has never been in its safety, Madame.”

She arches her brow, skeptical and unimpressed, at his laugh. Seraphina pauses for a deliberate moment, running her tongue between her teeth, and meets his stare very calmly. “Surely not…” Of course, Solterra’s appeal was hardly in its safety; that has never been why she has loved her desert homeland, though, now that it has forsaken her, she bitterly wonders how much she loves it. “…but I do wonder what would motivate a man to return to his homeland just as a dictator has taken office. Is it the danger that attracts you?” Or something else? A thrill-seeker, or a man with some sort of ulterior motive? (Perhaps both.)

His next question is met with a prick of her ears and a thoughtful stare. “The most fearsome of monarchs have yet to manage to tame this land into something so pretty. Why ever would I fear this dangerous King more than any monarch past?”

Well. He is wrong about one thing – Raum does not wish to tame Solterra, into something pretty or otherwise. He wants to see it broken.

“I don’t think that you would fear him even if I told you why he is dangerous, nor do I think that you should.” At the core of it all, what is Raum? Weaker than he would like to think. Mow that she has magic, she has no reservations about her own capabilities, and she is more than certain that she could slaughter him with a clinical ease and precision if they crossed paths again. (And, if she had her way, they would.) Volatile, temperamental, and unable to responsibility for his own actions – not admirable traits in anyone, but least of all in a leader. He commanded fear, but not respect, and not affection, and fear could only bring him so far – and, with time, fear would always be a monarch’s downfall. She certainly does not fear him. She loathes him. He disgusts her. And every time she thinks of him, she thinks of her own weakness, her own culpability…but he was no more dangerous than any other creature that had brought her to her knees in the past, and he was hardly the first man to leave her for dead.

He had left her alive. A foolish, petty decision – and one that she would see he regretted, with time.

“…but, if you insist on remaining in Solterra, you might as well be prepared. Raum is a madman, no more or less than Zolin…” Her voice trails for a moment at the mention of the former monarch, a hint of disgust curling at the edges of her charcoal lips. “…but he was not born with a crown on his head, nor does he have anything he loves – he has shown himself all too willing to kill or betray everyone and everything he has ever cared for. Zolin wanted to remain in power; he was monstrous and destructive, but he had things he wished to preserve. Seraphina was no real threat unless you provoked her – Solterran hierarchy did not conform to her easily, nor did she have any blessing from the gods besides. Raum has shapeshifting magic, a basilisk who can turn anyone he pleases to stone, and the aid of what appears to be every bloodthirsty leech on this continent, and he wants nothing more than to see every living creature in Solterra suffer.” That was the danger of Raum, if she had to pin it down. If a man cared for something, it could be used against him; if he cared for something, he could be stopped. The only way to stop Raum was the sharp end of a blade.

She meets his gaze, her eyes cold steel and a hint of something like a threat on her tongue. “If his followers are naïve enough to believe that he’d think twice about throwing them under the knife the moment that it suits him…” And perhaps she is not speaking of Raum’s followers, though that is certainly what she thinks of them; perhaps she is speaking of him, this desert wanderer, who is so intent on walking into a burning kingdom. “…they’re more foolish than I anticipated.” This observation is more of a promise than anything. If you prove yourself to be among them, I will hunt you down. “You won’t be able to avoid him, one way or another, when you’re in Solterra. If you’re really determined to stay, I’d suggest you consider very carefully what it is worth to you to remain – and where your allegiances lie.”

But she doesn’t offer him any more. Not yet. She’ll wait to see what he has to say for himself.

“Truly, Madame Fia, the pleasure is mutual.” He is all courtly airs and charm, but she does not trust him yet; there is some mocking insincerity in those bright eyes. Unsmiling, she offers a nod of agreement, though she still hasn’t decided whether or not it is actually a pleasure to meet him.

Her ears prick up at the mention of relatives. Not really, she almost replies; the girl is an orphan, and she has made no family to speak of. However, this is a thread she can tug at, a way to get more information about this mysterious Anatoly, and she does. “Distant relatives, you say? Who are they? Perhaps I’m acquainted with them.”



----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


tags | @Anatoly
notes | sorry this took so long! <3 love anatoly




@







I'M IN A ROOM MADE OUT OF MIRRORS
and there's no way to escape the violence of a girl against herself


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence



Reply




Played by Offline eleven [PM] Posts: 10 — Threads: 2
Signos: 165
Day Court Outcast
Male [He/Him/His] // 9 [Year 494 Summer] // 15.3 hh // Hth: 7 — Atk: 13 — Exp: 10 // Active Magic: N/A // Bonded: N/A
#7

She agrees with him, slow and calm, all deliberate disapproval of his casual daring. He wonders what she would think if she knew the half of it, considers telling her of midnights made bloody and the thrill of war. (They lost, lost and bled and died for that war, but Anatoly will not pretend that he did not enjoy fighting it, for all that he sneered at its cause and its cost.) He wonders what she will think, if the word Davke crosses his lips, if she will pale and sway in terror like the courtly ladies, if she will bristle and bear arms like the soldiers, if she will understand what that means.

What kind of Queen was she? Did she cage and control? Did she stand back and watch? Did she rule justly, without overreaching her bounds? Talk in the capitals said she was a good leader, a fair leader, if not a bit inexperienced at times: in all a leader very much beloved by her subjects. But well, that was hardly a good judge of things was it? Even a tyrant could be loved by the right sort of people, having taken the correct precautions.

And ignoring that, the Davke were hardly just at the end of the day, and never would be. Anatoly is sure that many a good, loyal servant of the empire has fallen under their lust for battle. What kindly Queen would allow such a thing in her lands? What people could accept a Queen who turned a blind eye? Ah- but this was all conjecture. This was not a struggle she would have had to face before, the Davke having been disbanded or killed before she had ever started her rule.

But she is a clever thing, astute, picking apart his character to divine his utter lack of fear and the unlikeliness of it ever emerging. Not that he has made this hard, but many have taken his confidence for a front put up by a cowardly politician, when it’s always been one of the only true things about him. And she is kind too, in her way, warning him of the dangers he might not yet have heard without any sort of payment. Unless she hopes he will find the King so distasteful as to band up with her, unless she offers this information to test his mettle.

And the King having nothing he loves? Nothing he wishes to preserve? Now that is an odd assumption. Even if the only thing the King wants to preserve is the blood on his teeth, that is still something, and without that something he would not have cause, nor drive. But, let the Queen believe as she will. Obviously she is a soft touch, believing love to equate to loyalty, and loyalty to others to automatically be placed before loyalty to the self. Not a terribly uncommon affliction, but a disappointing one all the same. Though, that belief will do him well, should he ever gain her loyalty, as one hardly believes without following through.

The humour of her describing herself in third person is not lost on him, but it’s interesting nonetheless to hear her take on her rule. It’s refreshing, to hear a monarch speak so plainly on their own weaknesses without dismissal of their faults.

And this… oh this is interesting. The shapeshifting he had heard rumours of, but it seems news of the basilisk had not made it to his ears. Obviously taken as too fantastical to be true and discarded before anyone in the courts could hear and laugh at the gullibility of the teller. Or perhaps known by the higher classes and held quiet for fear, foolishly believing that if they do not look for it, it will not prove itself true.

“Bloodthirsty leeches or desperate ones?” He asks in a fit of inspiration. “Anyone will commit terrible deeds if promised enough of the right things.” The masses are strange things, love and loyalty all twined together, continuation of others being placed before the continuation of the self so long as those others were the right ones. As for the bloodthirsty? Well, Anatoly is not blind to his own nature - there's always a promise of some prize separate from blood that binds him to one path or another. “And the bloodthirsty stand to causes same as anyone else, otherwise they’d just be serial killers put down by the state.”

“The King has promised them something – wealth, freedom, power, safety – only they can say for certain what. And if that promise is only for a day, or a month, or until some shift in mood, well.” He shrugs. “It’s more than they had to begin with, isn’t it?”

“If his followers are naïve enough to believe that he’d think twice about throwing them under the knife the moment that it suits him… they’re more foolish than I anticipated.” He bows his head in acknowledgement to her point.

“Yes, one rarely thinks long term when the city is burning." He frowns pauses, considers. "My kin stand with him.” He admits, sighing, his head remaining low as if grieving, eyes hooded just enough to suggest pain, and gaze centered on the shadows between them. “It keeps them alive now, but…” He shifts, just so, as though uncomfortable. “They’re going to get us all killed, by the end of this.” He repeats the thought far less laughing than the first time, like it weighs on him, like a front has fallen.

None of it’s a lie.

Let her believe his sympathies, his beliefs, are held so dearly for love of his kin. Let her believe he counts them as desperate, that they fight for the King for the sake of survival instead of blood and power. Let him court her soft heart.

“I would like to think my allegiance lays with them.” It does. “But… there are more of us than what has flocked to his banner. And I would like for us to live, after all this is over.” If he has to prune the family tree for survival, it will not be a hardship. Rot is rot is rot, no matter how few of them remain.

He lifts his head at her question, stares her in the eye. He has laid what foundations he could for good will, for understanding. He has given what he can to have her believe that he is not so heartless, so monstrous as the (very true) stories depict them all to be. He will not be ashamed of his heritage, of his people, will not act it when he wants her trust moving forward. Still, he prepares for the worst.

“We are Davke.”


@Seraphina <3 <3 <3 sorry for the wait! this post rambles a bit in places, but it's finally here!






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