Royal Imperial Palace - Rishoka - Evening
Voices of nobles from across all of Avsolom echoed throughout the palace walls. Lavish decorations beamed in the flicker of light, from hanging crystals to a fresh coat of gold over the intricate paintings on the walls and celings. Dozens and dozens of servants scurried across the floors to deliver drinks and food to the noblefolk.
Well, some of them. Others had another job in mind. In fact, a lone servant stood by one of the long tables that had drinks and foods, hovering a hand over a glass of wine as if to... perhaps drop something into it. One would never be able to know unless they were close enough to see what was really happening under that hand. He was blonde, short, lithe and possibly from a magi bloodline since his eyes were an eerie red.
Tonight the Emperor sought to celebrate the continuation of his bloodline; but more importantly, let others know that the Magus bloodline wasn't going anywhere. While his eldest son may have absconded his duties to the Empire and vanished, at least his daughter, Lilith, was taking her duties seriously by producing heirs. This put the Emperors grip on the throne in a much less precarious position, though it would no doubt anger his enemies.
Emperor Magus sat on his throne alone. There was no other throne atop the steps of stairs that lead to it, as his second wife had passed years ago from an unknown illness. Many soldiers stood near him as he watched the festivities stoically. He was, after all, an old man and had long gotten over the thrill of most things. Tonight was a political move for him, nothing more, though he did find some comfort having his daughter back within the walls of the palace.
Silas Hael arrived at the ball alone, accompanied only by one servant or who also was on his guards. Neither of them carried weapons but both carried with them the ability to harness the powers of the mysts.
Perhaps he should have brought a date, to be honest, his mind was in a thousand other places which left precious little time for romance. Both of his sisters were pressuring him to find a wife, siting that would help stabilize their house but Silas was determined not to bring someone else into their problems until he had things sorted. Or at least that's what he told himself as an excuse.
He didn't plan to stay long, he was here because one simply didn't refuse an invitation from the Emperor, no matter what your feelings were. It was good for his image to be here, even if he was uneasy about the whole thing.
The room was extravagant, which Silas expected but even still it was an impressive sight. "I promise to stay out of trouble tonight." he said with a wink towards his attendant. The man gave him a brief stern look before shaking his head, a smile spreading across his face. "Of course, my Lord."
Catrina left her guards behind, she was here to assist the Ebony Order, the Empire had to feel the pain. This pain they had inflicted on everyone else, and it was the time they realized centuries of pain, was about to begin to be repaid. Volkarna wanted the empire to die, some of her family was there when the butchered her province, and that day Volkarnas had sworn revenge. She hides her intent, behind a smile as she walked into the main ballroom.
She was wearing an off the shoulder, red dress, the sort of dress you need two servants to help you when you need to go to the toilet. She then saw Silas Hael her smiled broadened, but inside she wished he was not here, as he might complicate things. Though she always liked seeing him regardless, as he made her feel happy, so she made her way over to him.
As she approached him, one of his attendants turned away and almost knocked her over. He quickly apologized Sorry my' lady, as he sidestepped her. She quickly replied Accidents happen, then her gaze fell on Silas, It's nice to see you again, and how you been? She was interested in catching up, and part of her mission was to blend in.
Hansel, excluding the 10 or so other knights under his command, was probably the only guest in the ballroom not only armed but armoured as well. Not only was it his duty to protect lord Tybalt and lady Lilith, but with the rumours making rounds of an order of assassins plotting to topple the Empire, perhaps he needed to defend the Emperor as well.
Just because he was in armour, though, didn't mean he wasn't blending in. His ceremonial armour was polished and spotless, the centuries old Tonoyanan steel longsword and enchanted arming sword were both cleaned enough to practically be used as a mirror. But despite his glamorous appearance, he was ready to fight at a moment's notice.
He went ahead of Lilith and Tybalt, while 4 of his 10 knights stayed with them to watch over them, so he and the other 6 could make sure everything was in order and nothing was out of place...but then again, hoe would they know? Hansel guessed that he simply would when the situation showed itself. He was by the buffet table, pouring a glass of Norian red wine quite inconspicuously as to not draw attention to his treason. He watched the young man perhaps a meter or two to his right, a servant of all things, hover his hand rather oddly over a glass of wine. It was...curious...but kicking up a scene over what was perhaps him being paranoid wasn't worth it. Nonetheless, he did decide to keep an eye on the boy...just in case.
With glass in one hand and helmet in the other he walked off to go meet some guests, quickly spotting none other than the young lord of Noria and a stranger he only saw at Tybalt and Lilith's wedding but never caught the name of. Figuring he might be able to meet the supposed "enemy" of Leore, for lack of a better word, he waltzed over there with his usual calm expression and came to a halt a foot or two from the two guests. "Lord Hael, a pleasure to finally meet you face to face." he said politely with a small smile.
His gaze turned to the stranger beside Silas. "Pardon me, but I don't believe we've met before. Sir Hansel Strauss..." he gave a small bow to the lady. "...a pleasure to meet you, my lady. Unfortunately I didn't catch your name, lady...?" he asked very politely and knightly while looking into her eyes. She was odd, much like the servant by the table, with red eyes and pale skin. Perhaps both of them were magi of some kind?
Lilith didn't know how long it had been since she last set foot in the palace. It was exciting, though she wasn't too thrilled to see her father.
Even though the party was thrown 'in her honor', she knew that was only the face of it. Regardless, she'd never had a loving or even slightly emotional relationship with her father. He liked to keep her at a distance—treat her almost like anyone else. The only thing she got over the others was audiences without too much fuss. Not that he'd listen to her half the time, mind you.
But she pushed her displeasure with her father out of her mind once she made it to the ballroom. Her dress was, this time, in the colors of house Magnus—purple and gold—out of respect if nothing else. The party was actually about the survival of their bloodline, so she thought to at least make a show of it.
Both her arms were wrapped around one of Tybalt's. She always felt safe close to her knight, and now she was allowed to show some affection towards him within the eye shot of other imperials.
Her blue eye's soon caught sight of her uncle who she also had some affection for. Lilith moved over to him, saying softly but excitedly, "Uncle Davik!"
The uncle, dawned in the same colors as Lilith, turned and smiled. Though the smile wasn't much of one, it wasn't fake. "My sweet Lilith," he started, his own blue eye's landing on Tybalt. "And your selected husband."
Lilith frowned at her uncles choice of words, though tried to push past it. "How have you been? I heard whispers that you were cured." Davik nodded. "Yes, quite... now," he answered, almost shrugging off the subject he clearly wasn't comfortable with, "I wonder... who'd listen to a man who lacked the Magus blood?" He'd never admit it, but he was talking about the possibly of the couple ending up on the throne, and questioning Tybalt's ability to command respect among the imperial masses.
Tybalt narrowed his eyes for a moment. This 'Uncle Dravik' had rather some nerve to approach him in such a manner. He shifted forward a bit; it was the Imperials' way to use such petty wordplay as this as means of challenging one another, but he was no imperial. Nor would he be found wanting in front of his wife.
"Those who knew better." He clicked his tongue, "Not all men without the blood are created equal, and some are able to amass quite a following." Tybalt flickered his gaze to Lilith, then looked back. "Certainly enough to crush all anyone who questions them. I know of a few with the reputation of doing such."
There was a time where he might've fallen into utter shame for his history. Yet, the reality of his wife, and soon to be his family's dependence on him forced him to not only ignore it, but at times even embrace his kinslaying. Unless Dravik had the particularly unintelligent idea of prolonging conversation, he would gently lead Lilith over to where the drinks were served.
They hadn't come alone, nor had they come with just their bodyguard. In a typical medieval fashion, an impressive host had come along; the knights were permitted to bring their families as well as their friends, and those friends in turn were also allowed to bring family. The result was the Ball had a rather decent population of Leorans.
Across the entire country, it was safest to travel in such groups.
The man hadn’t stepped foot in the Royal Palace in centuries and he certainly hadn’t been looking forward to doing again anytime soon. Still as he was now Count Varian Maevia, Lord of Zhujenka, so he had certain duties to uphold. The House he’d married into held Lordship over a rural, relatively unimportant, province but a title that was old and prestigious enough to get the Maevia Lords a position in the Imperial Parliament. The Vampire had fed just before arriving to ruddy up his skin a little, he hadn’t bothered putting in his unpleasant contacts as his red eyes where hardly overly odd considering the amount of Myst mutation the nobility dealt, besides they were his most striking feature. He was dressed in a moderately fashionable garb in unfashionably dull colours of black, white and crimson.
Varian had, wisely, chosen not to try and sneak a weapon into the Emperor’s own part. He imagined nearly everyone here had made the same choice. Besides half the nobility of the Empire where probably more capable with fighting using Myst than actual weapons.
On the Vampire’s arm was his very much alive and breathing wife Emelia Lucilia Maevia. Glancing at his beautiful spouse he give a faint smile in her direction, “I can’t believe you convinced me to come to this thing.” he murmured under his breath as his eyes gleamed with good humour.
He glanced around the room filled with some of the most powerful individuals in the Old Empire, hell, in the world. If he’d been alive he’d have taken a deep breath to steady himself, instead he simply steeled his will and give himself some quiet encouragement.
It had been ages since she too had made an appearance in Rishoka, though unlike her husband she had never been to the court. Her behavior had been deemed much too unpredictable to risk bringing to any of the command performances her parents had attended over the years. She arched an eyebrow at Varian, sensing his dislike of the event even before he blamed her for their presence at the gala, and gave his arm a light squeeze. As if anyone would refuse to comply with the elegantly etched invitation.
While there was no danger of her creating a scene, for she no longer required such struggles of wills in her life, she was still possessing of a strong presence backed by an independent and outspoken nature. ”Yes, as you mentioned in the coach. Don’t think that I will be easy to live with after getting all dolled up if I don’t at least get a turn about the dance floor”, she said before turning her eyes away from Varian to gaze over the assemblage of The Old Empire’s finest at play. Even so, the barest flicker of a grin twisted the corner of her mouth for she was not feeling much the complaining harpy today.
Her life had taken a drastic change since Varian had appeared on that night some nine years ago. The changes were noticeable in so many ways, but not least among these was her willingness to be guided by anyone. True, her husband left most of the ruling of their province to her, but the opportunity to use her skills rather than be some ornamental figurehead had done wonders for her personality.
There was a confidence that came naturally to her now, where before she had to force recognition asserting her capabilities to rule. It was translated into her posture, the way she seemed quite at home in the fine cream colored gown and the grace with which she moved in those horrid shoes. The gown was not opulent, but it was appropriate to the occasion and would not shame her family name. That such a consideration would even enter her mind was perhaps the most profound change of all.
Most of those in attendance were people she had never met, but were easily identifiable on sight due to reputation. Certainly there, not far from the tables where drink was being served, was Duchess Monteaux; the man on her arm must be her husband the Duke, and though she didn’t recognize the man they were conversing with it didn’t seem joyous a exchange. Emelia didn’t put too much importance on her observation for she assumed that Royalty celebrated in suitably decorous ways. Thankfully this was not a lifestyle that had been thrust upon her, much to the displeasure of her parents.
Her eyes turned to the armoured Knight who was busy conversing with another couple of the guests. She did not recognize the curly headed man, nor the elegant woman in his company, but the knight could be none other than Sir Strauss, protector of the Duke and Duchess. She didn’t think she had ever seen anything so ornate as his armour. Turning her eyes back to Varian, she smiled and said, ”As you are the sophisticate between the two of us, I shall take your lead”. More than glad to throw him to the wolves she put on her party smile, the hint of mischief ever upon her lips.
Infiltrating high profile events was definitely a new experience for Kharia, the sheer heart-palpitating rush of knowing you weren't supposed to be there and could be caught at any moment washing a cold chill down her spine. The Ebony Order had some straightforward methods for achieving their goals and, while she wanted to see the more deplorable nobles brought low as much as the next person, she wasn't going to allow any innocents to be hurt or caught in the crossfire and, much to her chagrin, that included some of the nobles themselves. While most of the people here had so many skeletons in their backrooms that they could start a city-wide catacomb, some of them were genuinely good people, and she was out to make sure that they were protected. One could argue that she was just trying to maintain the status quo and that she was afraid to go all-in with either side, and perhaps that was true, but she believed that a better world lay at the individual level. People were the ones that enacted change, not empires and not republics, people, and she just wanted to see those good and honest people in the position to make things better for their subjects.
Actually getting into a heavily guarded event was surprisingly easy, or at least easier than she expected. Guards used to dealing with nobles tended to strike out a pattern that they examined in their head when dealing with guests, and nobles definitely had a unique one - the overly proper posture, the primp and proper wordplay, the immaculate dress sense, the snobbish sense of self-superiority, etc. The art of disguise was all about blending into a crowd and hiding in plain sight, so all she needed was some make-up, a dress, and a blonde wig, and lo and behold, the guards let her right on in (though her losing her temper a bit and throwing tantrum probably helped cement her cover). She brushed some of the blonde hair back and removed a small pocket bag from beneath her dress, clipping it open to double-check that her sword, staff, and other things were there (one needed to pack the essentials). If anything were to happen, she would hopefully be ready this time...no more Leores.
Kharia weaved into the crowd like a fine thread, keen blue eyes scanning the faces and picking out anyone she knew, selectively altering her path to avoid them. The Duchess was here, as was her husband, Ser Tybalt, and then there was the Emperor himself, the decrepit piece of furniture. She spied Volkarna in the crowd too, avoiding the urge to retch and draw attention - that woman was fucking stalking her when it came to this kind of thing. She couldn't help but wonder if she was there during the initial meeting of the Ebony Order, watching it all unfold and whispering in-ears like the little viper she was. She seemed to be glued to Silas Hael nowadays, himself embroiled in his own problems. She had heard about the troubles with House Varn, part of her thought about lending a hand but things were still far too unstable for her nowadays. The twinge in the back of her head was a helpful reminder of the voice in her head trying to guide her hands and twist her thoughts, but her visit to Nordheim had calmed him. Hopefully, she and Nakaota would have things sorted out soon.
Having surveyed the room, Kharia daintily took a glass of wine and moved to an obscure corner of the room, leaning against the wall and starting to just watch. Of course, she made sure to mingle with the crowd she had entered, but the entire time she was just looking around, waiting for the first sign of trouble...
Akasha wasn't exactly the type for this kind of event. Yes, she had been to parties before, but...this was the Emperor. That was pretty up there, you know? She had planned for this of course, though it took a great deal of her skill to make the jewlery needed to pull off the look; after all, nobles had the most obnoxious of attire. But for now, she was not Akasha Emberstone, no she was Rhaenyra Coldheart, just a wealthy trader who was just gracious enough to be invited to this...gathering. The attire was to her liking, unlike those stuff dresses that so many of the other noble women were wearing, though she was concerned that her attire would attract a little too much attention, what she really needed was to acquire some political connections; not to mention get an idea of how this 'Empire' functioned. The main problem Akasha was having, is she didn't know a damn thing about the nobility here, so while she stalked around the hall trying to put on an air of boredom, hopefully some horny noble would think his snooty behavior might somehow woe her and feed her the kind of information she wanted to know; it was bound to happen eventually, events like this drew those kinds of people. Thankfully she would be a stranger among...well..strangers really, but she was only here to meet and greet with the nobility and make some potential allies out of them; after all, if she was wanting to claim power one would need powerful allies. The only thing she was dreading about coming here, was having to wade through the crowds of brain dead nobles and their kind.
A small part of Akasha wondered if there might be a path aligned before her, to restore her house to what it once was; but given she was the only surviving member, and without a husband, that seemed rather unlikely. In more ways than one, she was alone in this room, but in her mind that was more of a benefit than anything; surely for all the jackasses milling about this room, there had to be some here that weren't exactly happy with their current standing. Finally breaking away from the entitled hordes, Akasha fetched herself a glass of wine and found a corner to watch from. Her eyes studied those who milled about, trying to see who was the most approachable; after all, if she was going to make this work she was going to need a pair of loose lips.
((Currently using Body 4, portrayed by Michelle Gomez.))
Fasio straightened out his clothing before walking towards the main doors where the grand ball was being held. He obviously hadn't been invited, but then he wasn't in his original body either. He came in this one because he had never used it inside the Empire before and the likelyhood of being recognised was minimal. He fidgetted slightly as it had been a long time since he had needed to wear female clothing and he wasn't used to it anymore. As he approached, the guards asked for his name, "I am Baroness Diana Francieta. I was told there was a formal ball to attend." After giving her a brief look of confusion, clearly because he had never heard of the fictional Baroness, he nodded and gestured her into the hall.
Fasio slowly walked over to where the drinks were being served and took a glass of red wine, before turning and surveying the room for any faces of note. While most of the people here were known to him professionally he had not met most of them before, but there was one face he did recognise. Very well. The very old face of Varian Valerius III.
As he sauntered towards the man he noticed a woman on his arm, was this the wife he had mentioned when he raided Fasio's house? He approached the woman first, "Greetings from House Francieta. My name is Diana and it is a pleasure to meet you Emelia Maevia. When your husband had told me about you, he forgot to mention your beauty." He turned to Varian and lightly backhanded his chest, "Shame on you, Smiley. You should know even you can't keep secrets from me."
Fasio took a sip from his wine before turning slightly to look over the rest of the room, "So tell me, is there anyone here you think is an important player here? Or are they all nobodies?" The smile still on his face but to the trained eye was clearly just for show to not draw suspicion.
Walking through the front gates of the place was a mixture of emotion for Alistair, though it mainly consisted of dread. Dread for what comes next, facing his father, the most stubborn and argumentive man he had ever met. He was here to make amends for words and actions long ago but not just to his father but sister and brother too, so his feeling needed to be pushed aside for now.
As he made his way through the halls and corridors of the place, nobles began to take notice of him, gawking and whispering as he passed them by on his way to the Ballroom, for he wasn't dressed in the heights of fashion, he was quite the opposite with him wearing mundane clothing that any commoner could wear with wear, tear and muck on his boots, but he didn't care what anybody had to say about his appearance, there were more important things right now.
He stopped at the edge of the doorway to the ballroom, this his the last chance, after he stepped in there was no running away, no turning his back to it. This would be his life that he would live, that one of a royale. He took in a deep breath and stepped in.
He made his way to the balcony that stood in the middle of the stairs, advantage point to see everything from and to be seen from. He scanned roomed looking for some familiar faces, one in particular. One by one guests began to notice his presence, his eyes finally found the person he was looking for, his dear sister, Lilith. Her golden hair and her piercing blue eyes brought a smile to his face, having her here brought some ease to his mind.
His eyes now came upon his father, sat on his gilded throne, uninterested in the festivities around him, he hadn't interested them in a long time. Alistair made his way down the stairs and into the middle of dance floor his eyes focused on his farther face, looking for a reaction of any kind to inform how this conversation was going to play out. if people hadn't noticed him before they would now as the music died down and dancers stopped.
"Sorry for disturbing the ball with my... attire and presence but I must speak with my father." Alistair's heart was in his throat, his chest pounding like he was running a marathon. This was most nervous he had ever been had and was straining to keep it from boiling over his brave face.
With everyone distracted this was the opportune moment for Elyscia to go pick up her cream puffs. The one and only reason she came to the heart of the Old Empire was to get a taste of their gourmet food they've created with rare cuisine from all over Avsolom. Her addiction to gourmet foods was one of her weaknesses, altough her family name was the only thing that got her into the Grand Ball in the first place - it was risky. If the guards had known that she was on the run from her Noble House, they would've arrested her on sight.
Good thing news travels slow. she had thought to herself, before walking up to the buffet table, her hand reaching for the gourmet cream puffs, that was when a voice rang out above all - which stopped the movement in the entire room. Elyscia having no experience with formal events was shocked, as in her mind she done wrong as she attempted to grab a puff.
Looking up to notice the man who was dressed in a shoddy fashion, she had felt a tad more comfortable with herself as she was dressed in a commoners dress, that was made with white cotton, laced with silk, which hugged her curves. That had made the dress more acceptable in the eyes of the guards.
Swiftly she had taken one puff, then began to back off towards the wall. When she reached the wall she he was going to devour the cream puff she had attained.
It took everything in her not to sass her uncle when he clearly challenged her husbands authority. But, she knew it'd be better if Tybalt answered. If she answered it'd look like he couldn't defend himself.
And he did answer, albeit in a more aggressive way then she was use to. She didn't like the idea of her husband and uncle fighting, but she'd, of course, choose her husband over anyone else in the entire world if it came to that.
Without saying more, Tybalt guided her to one of the tables. Lilith whispered, "I'm sorry about that" as the two came to a stop. "He's just being protective of the throne in his misguided wa-" halfway through a word her mind was ripped from the subject to the middle of the ballroom. Her brother stood in the middle of the ballroom. Not her twin brother, but Alistair. Alistair her brother who had been missing for five years. Five. Years. Missing.
"ALISTAIR!" Lilith yelled, breaking away from her husband without thinking unless he stopped her. Anything could've happened to her brother—he could be crazy or dangerous now but she didn't care. She didn't think about it. All she could think about was him being here. Alive.
Lilith ran to Alistair and wrapped her arms tightly around him. "Alistair! You're alive! You're alive! I'm so relieved!" she cried out, tearing up. "So, so very relieved!" After she wrapped her arms around him, some of her excitement churned into upset when it dawned on her that he might've been missing on purpose. She hoped for his sake that he had a real good excuse for burdening her with worry.
In a rare display, the emperor was caught by surprise and showed it. Known as the old, stoic emperor this might've surprised some who looked upon his visage. The reaction did not last long, however. No, those widened eyes and agape jaw switch to something entirely different within moments. Not to their almost omnipresent stoic position, but to one of anger.
And few times in history did this look of his not come with wrath.
The Emperor stared on as his daughter rushed to his wayward son. Though such a show of affection was uncommon within the imperial aristocracy, most who regularly attended court accepted Lilth's ways. Besides, none had dared to challenge it in the presence of the emperor.
Wordlessly, the emperor of the old empire stood. Pushing himself up from his seat to stare in cold, steel-like anger at his eldest son. If one didn't know better, they'd half expect the emperor to order an execution right there and then.
But there was no orders. No words. The emperor simply walked down the steps from his throne and out of the ballroom, down the hallway into one of his studies. He was followed by a large company of soldiers who'd stop anyone but the emperors children or family from following.