The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed
The Order of the Stick: Utterly Dwarfed - Coming in December and available for pre-order now
Page 8 of 23 FirstFirst 123456789101112131415161718 ... LastLast
Results 211 to 240 of 681
  1. - Top - End - #211
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    +Black light?+ Adila thought, still staring at the flowing shapes in wonder. +What would that even look like? How is that less rare than white? Do you mean temperament like it's a person?+ Her mind overflowed with questions but she didn't even care about the answers, she just wanted to know that this moment was real and not a dream and every little pointless specific she could get helped her believe that more.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  2. - Top - End - #212
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia!

    Sparkle sparkle oooof. You’ve got a full-sized catgirl reclining languorously across your lap now, and the look she gives you is kind, and full of understanding, and wow it suddenly makes a lot of sense that she and Alina are old childhood friends.

    “If there’s any way to help you and your people change to something that would make you more joyful,” she says, her words careful and lazy and deliberate, “I’ll be there, ready and willing.”

    That’s a promise!

    And a careful one, too. Imagine being stuck with a promise to help you change and then finding a way to turn you all into slimy monsters! That’d be the worst! She’d be crying as she aligned the cursed Slime Crystals and pointed them at your chest! Or she’d just break her promise and feel, like, super bad about it.

    But having a promise like that in your heart...

    Doesn’t that make you feel like it’s just a little more possible, just a little more achievable, now that Rita’s made that promise?
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  3. - Top - End - #213
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Up in the mountains
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "Weren't you listening to my story? The light's a living thing, of course it has feelings! Take my Green, for instance, she's gentle and kind. And that's why I'm good at healing magic. Much better than Kazelia, I don't need any of that weird drainy shadow drippy stuff. Can you imagine? Or, Orange is finicky, see? And she doesn't like taking the same shape twice in a row, but that makes the lot of them more versatile..."

    On and on and on she goes, talking about the properties of her colors, about how Illuminans think of rainbows, about the way black lights shine as brightly as anything else you could care to name, only the overwhelming impression you get from looking at them is a sense of opacity or fullness ("Just imagine the night sky, right? But instead of the stars shining, it's everything else. Like when it's day and bright and blue, but black instead!"), about the princesses of myth who were known to have found black lights and how they seemed more prone to being tamed than white ones, and any number of other things you could care to ask or wonder about light lore, and very probably several things you'd never think to know. It's a favorite topic, right up there with swimming and adventuring and kissing, and she was a very good girl when she was small and attentively read all of her books and sang all of her songs and listened to all of the stories thank you very much, so now she knows them all. So long as you don't ask her about spoon etiquette or the 37 proper apologies that go with accidentally saying a bad thing about mushrooms when you're in Deep Hollow, or other stuff that's like that. Those are the ones she slept or doodled her way through.

    And while she talks, she produces a pair of paper lanterns. Maybe not needed, so far as light goes, but ancient shrines have ancient shrine tastes, don't you know, and this sort of thing is important. She sets one down in front of Adila and another in front of herself. She moves to light her own.

    "Come, come, we'll run out of night if we don't hurry up..."

  4. - Top - End - #214
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Once upon a time, before there were dragons, there was dragonfire. It was the grandest, hottest and most beautiful of fire! Lesser fire flocked around it like ducks around a swan, and wherever it traveled it heard the chorus of flames as they snuggled against it for warmth. But the dragonfire heard stories about the beautiful lands of Hyperborea, lands it couldn't see through its adoring fans, treasures it couldn't own without melting them away. So it wrapped itself in an egg of stone and wished for a body strong enough to contain it, that it might witness the world about it without causing its destruction.

    Dragonfire burns hot in Princess Adila's chest as she leans down to breath sparks into the lanterns. It is thick with magic after drinking from the root, energetic and awake and curious, and it immediately sees for itself a far more handsome wick than a lantern candle. Fire leaps from Adila's lips, coursing and twisting through the air, balling itself up and settling firmly into the empty place upon Alina's crown. This place, thought the dragonfire, is the place where I will sit. A beautiful crown to rest in, a beautiful princess to carry me, and beautiful lights to keep me company - this is the life I wished for.

    It is a very proud little flame! It would have to be, to dream up the shape of a dragon. So too is it imaginative, creative, curious, independent - a difficult light to teach and discipline if only because it is too clever to think you know better.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-07-02 at 07:05 PM.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  5. - Top - End - #215
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Up in the mountains
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    The crown Alina wears has had an empty space in it for years. Her lights have done their best to make her strong and beautiful, but it's been hard and desperately lonely work. Whether she meant to do it or not, Adila could not have picked a more perfect gift for them if she tried. Lights that had been tired and slowly dimming flared all at once back to life and sparkled with a happy sort of intensity and determination that Alina hadn't felt from them since Oberon threw her down and broke them. They sparkle and preen for the little flame, welcoming it to her crown and thanking it for choosing their very favorite princess. In the language of lights, they ask the dragon fire to teach them what it knows. They offer to teach it how to shine like they do.

    The crown on her head is warm. The heart in her chest is warm, too. Her body doesn't have enough space in it for all these feelings, and they come tumbling out of her in waves that are as obvious and easy to read as if she spoke to the world through heart song, too. Alina stops talk and just leans against Adila, watching the lanterns rise into the night through watery eyes that don't know how else to express themselves. In this single moment, everything is perfect.

  6. - Top - End - #216
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Princesses!

    The lanterns drift up into the sky. We follow them as they go, letting them drift over the luminous isle below, full to bursting with the power of Argossa’s root; then the sea, rich and moon-speckled below them, vivid black and silver, and for a moment we can almost hear the songs of the mermaids at their revels in the coral cities below; they drift over the Lucky Number Seven, where two princesses have fallen asleep with their legs dangling over the side. (Don’t you worry, they’ll blearily wake up and go below soon enough; and besides, Rita is keeping her friend as warm as she can, cuddled up with that pale Rider’s hand in her own.)

    An updraft spins the lanterns aloft, higher, towards the vault of heaven. Behind them, if you peer carefully, you can see the silhouette of Argossa against the night sky. They hang there, burning bright, sparkling against the lush blacks of the sky.

    Then there is a strong gust of wind which knocks them about, tears the paper sides, extinguishes the flame within. A huge, black-winged shape glides by, beating its wings slowly, indistinct against the lanterns falling from the sky, already choked with frost.



    End of Let’s Training!
    Coming up next: EPISODE 2: Veils and Masks!
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  7. - Top - End - #217
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    PRINCESS-CHAMPIONS OF HYPERBOREA
    EPISODE 2: Veils and Masks!


    The Shrine of the Heart, the Kingdom of Jedad

    The thief jumped out through the narrow window, colorful glass shattering all around her. She set her face against the wind, her limbs held tight against her as she dived down the sheer-carved side of the dormant volcano. Speed was of the essence here. Behind her, there was already the terrible rumbling of the shrine’s sacred guardian, awakened. Good.

    She counted her heartbeats as the courtyard far below yawned wide and hungry beneath her.

    One.

    Two.

    Three.

    Four.

    Then she pulled from her back the glider, and let the wind take her, sending her sailing over the outer walls of the temple complex. An enterprising sentry lobbed her spear at the thief, but the thief nimbly twisted out of the way, impossibly stabilizing the glider with one hand- then, see, she lifted herself back up with one hand, brought the other handhold back into reach, her body under perfect control.

    A whistle, and her horse was already galloping across the sands to meet her. The thief landed perfectly upon the horse's back, and dug in her spurs as she folded the glider back down. Now the real race would begin. But she knew no fear; she never lost.

    Behind her, the cliffside erupted. The guardian's heads, hissing and furious, emerged from a cloud of smoke and debris. All four gigantic ruby eyes began to burn furiously, and then the lasers fired, screaming across the sky towards the thief. The thief urged her horse into a mad leap, and the sand beneath them burnt into wild glass shapes, which shattered crazily upon their landing. The stone serpent released a deafening bellow, and dove down after her, coil after coil of massive stone unwinding down the face of the volcano. The enterprising sentry was forced to dive from the gate as the guardian carelessly obliterated her post on its way out after the thief.

    Behind them, the volcano awoke, erupting into brilliant smoke-choked fire. The thief laughed gaily and urged her horse onwards. They had many long and dangerous miles between them and the Bazaar, after all.

    ***

    A War Camp, the Kingdom of Jedad

    The sun was receding over the mountains now, and the camp was already abuzz with activity. No blue uniforms here! No, here there were pale silks and gleaming glass breastplates, hidden under cloaks covered in careful camouflage-embroidery. And, here, there stalked the figure of the witch, her eyes hidden behind a gauzy scarf, her violet hair hanging in heavy curls; and where she walked, soldiers parted fearfully before her. She came before the black tent, and passed the knights who guard it without a word. They knew better than to arrest her passage.

    "My lady," the witch said, cajolingly. The Black Princess knelt there, her eyes empty, her gleaming glass-headed naginata laid upon her lap, her ribbon-bedecked armor dark as night. The witch brushed a stray lock of pale lavender hair out of the princess's face, and took a comb, began to run it through the princess’s hair. "The Heart of Jedad is stolen. Our day of triumph has come at last."

    The Black Princess said nothing. Her eyes did not flicker. Her lips did not twitch. She was devoid of the fire of life.

    The witch finished combing her lady's hair. "In the name of Our King," she whispered into her lady's ear, and kissed her cold cheek.

    The Black Princess stood, and her lips, for a moment, parted. But her eyes remained distant, and there was no breath within her for to scream. Her fingers were tight around her weapon's haft, her hands white-knuckled. The witch carefully lowered the gleaming platinum crown upon the princess’s brow, that all would know her as the vengeance of Ilumina.

    So girded, so commanded, the Black Princess marched forth to wage her war anew.

    ***

    Watch House Three, the Bazaar

    The staring match had begun. Were an unsuspecting fly to flit between Juniper Blue and Major Brookley, here and now, it would burst into flame and go down smoking and out of control. The stakes were deadly high.

    Brookley brought the spoon to her lips without breaking her gaze. She licked the curry, once, as daintily as an Askaian cat. “Too spicy,” she said, with the air of a queen pronouncing sentence upon a depraved criminal.

    “Try it with the lemon cake,” Juniper Blue said through gritted teeth. She slid the lemon-cake across the table towards Brookley, and only barely stopped herself from flipping over the table as Brookley removed the sliced pear from atop the cake. “You have to try it with the pear,” she hissed. “It brings out the tartness.”

    “A true lemon cake,” Brookley said, her brow furrowed in affronted pride, “needs only lemon. That’s the proper way to serve a lemon cake, and has been since Ourania blessed us with the art!”

    “Yeah, well,” Juniper Blue hissed, “I’m sure you remember it like it was yesterday.” Oh, snap. Brookley blinked, and in the sudden silence, you could hear a pin drop. Behind Brookley, the Old Bastards closed ranks, and behind Juniper Blue, the Watch’s magicians closed ranks in turn. Simple silk blacks stood arrayed against gauzy Jedadi onyx-studded blacks, and in the corner, Corporal Zippy completely missed that her refill of the tea kettle was spilling out all over the drinks table.

    “Four. Out. Of. Ten,” Brookley said, finally, destroying the chances that “Juniper’s Garden” would win the curry cookoff.

    ***

    The Bay of Ilos, the Kingdom of Jedad

    There are, perhaps, three ships in all the world that could run through the Jedadi blockade about the Bazaar’s docks without being seized upon at once. (Of course, I do not count the Stupendous Sinking Submersible of the Goblin Queen in that tally. That fine vessel would slip under them without so much as a ripple.)

    The Lucky Number Seven, however, is hysterically outclassed here. If you want to reach the Bazaar, you will have to heave to and subject yourself to their inspection. (Or you could risk trying to fly in, but those dhows are definitely carpet-equipped.)

    Or you could try to bypass the Bazaar entirely; to land further up the coast and trek heedless and unprovisioned into the deserts of Jedad, grinding sand-spice each night over your Askaian bento boxes, hoping to stumble into Azora’s plans through sheer fortune.

    But then you would miss the pre-Carnival food carts. The candied nuts, the stuffed peppers, the yogurts and the curries, the mulled wine and the roast sausages. You would miss out on the shopping sprees, the latest fashions, the chance to ask people from all around the world what news they’ve heard of the Riders! When put like that, can you really afford not to go?

    So, then. The trick is getting in.

    ***

    Alina!

    Well, here we are. Jedad. Hot, sultry, and rude. The kingdom where you cut your teeth as a daring, heart-breaking, dauntless swashbuckler. No one could outfight you and your ribbons, no one could outsmart you and your schemes, and no one could make a vault secure enough to deter you. Sometimes you just had to bat your eyes at the stewardess, and sometimes you had to leave the captain of the guard tied up in her closet, and the best combination of both those approaches were when you dated Tashanna in a whirlwind, head-over-heels romance, but either way, you went seven for seven.

    Why don’t you spin us a tale of one of those thefts! Tell us how you humiliated Princess Shazari and pilfered her mother’s treasures, how you made the warriors of Jedad look clumsy and foolish as you disarmed them and knocked them down and left them tied up all over the palace, and what role Rita played in that escapade.

    Now you’re back, and I would wager that it feels scarier now. The stakes of blending in are higher. Now it’s not just your pride and your mother’s treasury you need to worry about if you’re caught; you can’t very well fight Oberon if you end up as as Shazari’s special prisoner, being thoroughly humiliated and forced to wear tawdry Jedadi silk. By the time you were released, if that ever rolled about, he’d have crushed kingdoms like Askaia who have no one else to fight for them. You can’t let that happen!

    So go ahead and tell us, too, all about your amazing plan for blending in, despite being one of the most wanted Princesses in all Jedad. How do you intend to evade suspicion, get past this blockade, and not get ambushed by bounty hunters inside the Bazaar itself? Come on, I’m sure you have a fantastic plan.

    ***

    Adila!

    Well, this is weird. Not completely unexpected, but weird and unhelpful. Sure, “Jedad makes a power play” was the sort of thing you had to be ready for, growing up, but this is some really unfortunate timing. If you had an afternoon to spare to observe their movements, you’d be able to figure out what they’re playing at- who they let through, who they detain, who they attack.

    But, at a glance: they’ve set up checkpoints on the major roads out of the city, have used djinn labor to erect a simple wall, and have a small fleet contingent guarding the docks. They don’t want anyone leaving, you’d guess.

    You’re big enough that you’ve been spotted from shore, and you can see Mimsley Trotter waving semaphore at you from the dockside: “Situation controlled, officers advised to return to their duties.“

    Which is only because the semaphore book doesn’t have a code for “WHY ARE YOU COMING BACK, DIDN’T WE JUST FINISH REPAIRING THE VICTORY ARCH, FOR THE LOVE OF ADILA’S LEFT SHOE, ADILA.”

    Still, she isn’t signaling for you to set the ships on fire or anything, so hopefully you can just get pulled over, have your cargo inspected, try very hard not to think anything rude at them, and be on your way.

    ...aw, purple elephants!

    ***

    Kazelia!

    Looking upon the spires and tents of the fabled Bazaar, you feel a sense of malaise in the pit of your stomach. Your family has their hand in this city, undoubtedly, but it will be difficult to pick out exactly where they are. After all- you’re the one approaching them.

    But this is, I think, the first time you have ever seen this city; your father approved some limited reconnaissance, but - as of your departure - had made no move to seize this marvelous and wonderful city.

    What strikes your senses most strongly, as you approach the pearl of the desert? (An apt name; a pearl is made of brilliant, gaudy bone wrapped round and round an irritant, something that cannot be swallowed for fear of being choked. And Adila’s foster family is the heart of that pearl, if you have heard her stories right.)
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  8. - Top - End - #218
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    San Francisco
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post

    Kazelia!

    Looking upon the spires and tents of the fabled Bazaar, you feel a sense of malaise in the pit of your stomach. Your family has their hand in this city, undoubtedly, but it will be difficult to pick out exactly where they are. After all- you’re the one approaching them.

    But this is, I think, the first time you have ever seen this city; your father approved some limited reconnaissance, but - as of your departure - had made no move to seize this marvelous and wonderful city.

    What strikes your senses most strongly, as you approach the pearl of the desert? (An apt name; a pearl is made of brilliant, gaudy bone wrapped round and round an irritant, something that cannot be swallowed for fear of being choked. And Adila’s foster family is the heart of that pearl, if you have heard her stories right.)
    Kazelia is most struck by how overwhelming it all is! The harbor is full of ships, some kind of blockade, certainly, but also loading and unloading, dockworkers scurrying about like mice, crates rumbling up and down wooden gangplanks, ropes creaking and people talking and shouting loud enough to carry into the harbor. And then beyond that, beyond that an explosion of color! Blues and greens and teal and turquoise all swirled together amid the desert sands and the azure sky. Roofs on different levels, gardens and fountains and decks and so much! And everywhere within it people moving and bustling like lines of colorful ants going to and fro. No, not like ants, ants go in straight lines, Jedad is more like the swirls of warm caramel running down an ice cream sunday, flowing along whatever path they take, curling and pooling and dripping off the edges. And within those swirls there is a rainbow of silk: pinks and teals brightest of all, but blues and reds, oranges, a few yellows and greens, even some black and white all mixed together like a three year old decided to try every single crayon in the box all at once!

    Kazelia lets out a slow breath as she tries to take it all in and fails. You have to understand, Illumina might once have been as full of life as this, but even then Alina had always described it with a quality of serenity, full of meditation and laughter in equal measure. And now, now Illumina was cold and still. Riders, you should know, are not normally loud or bustling people. They move deliberately and make more personal space for themselves than most of the Hyperborean populations. Truth be told, Alina always got way too close when she was speaking, but Kazelia just never said anything because it would be rude. As for any comparison to Askaia, well Askaia had been lovely and cat aesthetics were very cool, but it was so much smaller than this. Jedad was vibrant, riotous, full of life in a way that made Kazelia's heart race within her and her dark, star-studded eyes gleam a little brighter than normal. "You never said it was so big!" she manages to get out to her gathered friends on the ship, forgetting, for a moment, the need to deal with their current problems in lieu of taking in as much as her eyes and ears could hold.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  9. - Top - End - #219
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    The most important skill an officer of the Watch can cultivate is focus.

    The Bazaar is distraction incarnate. Silk and spice and scent and song! Veils and masks and teasing smiles! If it had its way it'd have you blindly bounce between every stall and merchant, filling your mouth and nose and eyes with taste and your pockets with debt. Never once has a visitor returned from their first trip to the Bazaar richer than they went in. And that's just what they do for money! When it comes to avoiding the Watch, the citizens of the Bazaar really step up their game. She's fallen for every trick in her time. She's had beautiful people fall into her arms and whisper promises while picking her pocket. She's taken deep breaths of incense that turned out to be hallucinogenic. She's allowed finding the Queen to be a matter of pride - the worst mistake one can make in that game. She's been robbed and fooled and distracted again and again; so has everyone in the Watch. And so she's built up her immune system. Her mind focuses into a narrow point, blocking out the chaos and the distraction and the press of people. She watches faces and not clothes. She watches purses and not perfume. She refuses to think more than one thought at a time, lest some enterprising cutpurse find the empty space between the two.

    So she went ahead and focused her full attention on the Jedadi military - just as founded on elaborate distraction as any other aspect of the Bazaar. A lot of Watchmen muttered darkly about the Royal Guard being 'overfed, overpaid, overequipped and over here' but Adila had always liked them. She'd once liaised with Sonja Solmarra on an operation to recover the royal jewels from a shady black market dealer. She'd been spoiled rotten, unbelievably lazy, and lowkey furious at having to leave the palace and walk the streets like a commoner; all things Princess Adila has found equally hilarious and charming. She had spent the entire operation being as stereotypically diligent, eager and by-the-book as she could be in an attempt to see how far she could drive Solmarra up the wall. She'd even been sending her Bell Day cards every year since like clockwork.

    She had liked Solmarra despite her sloth and extreme indifference to military work because she had the most focus of anyone she'd ever met, even veterans of the Watch. She hated being outside so much that she blew through scams and distractions before Adila had even fully processed them - she was so laser focused on her personal mission to finish quickly and go home that there was nothing that could get between her and her work. She'd do the bare minimum, and in the Bazaar that was almost a super-power. She delightedly wondered how she was handling having to conduct something as horribly open-ended as a blockade. Princess Adila could imagine the frustrated groan and her silver light twinkled in delight.

    She stood at attention as the ship approached the Jedadi officials. She was looking forwards to this.
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-07-04 at 06:42 PM.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  10. - Top - End - #220
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Up in the mountains
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    It was a lot easier, in those days. The stakes were a lot lower, which was nice for making a girl feel brave. But more importantly, the ports were much less paranoid and it was very possible for a small ship to make the docks without any fanfare. Which was good, because her plan would never have worked otherwise.

    She was out to prove a point this time. The temple incident was still burning in the back of her mind, with all of its death traps and sphinx riddles and humiliating rope scenarios. The flirting she'd had to do with Tashanna just to get out of there! True, she'd escaped in the end with prize in hand (and honestly, Mom had barely punished her), but it was close. Much too close. This time it wouldn't be. This time the powers of cat and girl combined with a full six months of planning, and there wouldn't be any room left for doubt as to who was the bestest, cleverest, prettiest princess around. Eat your heart out, Shazari.

    First, as was tradition, she formally announced her intentions to plunder Jedad of all its riches. Without that, she'd be no more than a common criminal! Second, she slipped into the port at the Bazaar with Rita at her side, and a contingent of 12 of the most skilled guards in Illumina. Then she (and they) disappeared into the desert for three weeks. When they re-emerged, it was as Elsaria the Dread and her band of unusually graceful thieves. They built a reputation in the local underground; knocking off 'rival' crime syndicates or working with them to plunder jewels and spices from everyone they could find. Alina went all out on the disguise. She died her hair a dreadful blonde, worked some absolutely gorgeous scars into her face using makeup and some of her favorite berries, and ditched her silks for loose robes and dark cloaks. She even found an eyepatch! She'd never felt so mysterious or intimidating. And had no idea why Rita broke into terrible giggles every time they were in the same room together.

    Meanwhile, some mist, a wig and an outfit change later, Rita took the role of Alina for herself. Her job was to be seen (and to escape) all over the city, to set the rumor fires blazing that Alina Cascade was teaming up with Elsaria. The idea of the oldest thorn in Jedad's side partnering with the latest and fiercest created a citywide panic. The royal guard was out in force, mixing and clashing with the Watch and generally contributing to an air of tension people frequently and very loudly compared to an Illuminan party. And in the midst of that, they attacked the heart of the patrols in full force. And here was the really clever part: they wore double disguises. Alina fought as herself overtop of her Elsaria disguise, and Rita joined in the opposite. Of course, not even best friends who might later go on to become smooch buddies can overcome that much raw manpower, but that was rather the point. And when they were finally locked up by the royal guard of Jedad, there was a whole bunch of confusion as to what was actually happening. Who was who? How much of this was a trick? How many layers did it go?

    So when they threw the pair of them in a prison, they didn't inform Queen Shulamis. I mean, can you imagine how mad she'd have been, if they'd said 'Hey, we caught Alina Cascade!' and then the mask came off and it was really... anybody else? No no no, much better to make sure. And while they were so busy making sure, they kind of forgot to take away her crown. They were out in seconds, and danced a dance of humiliation across the palace. Guard after guard, ambushed and caught up in ribbons then tied up in provocative poses for their friends to find later. On and on down a line to the treasury. Rita went off to meet up with Alina's guards and secure a wagon full of choice spices and other luxuries to escape in. Alina made directly for the royal jewels. These were her favorite target, not because they were especially special, but that unlike the Heart of Jedad or the queen's djinn controlling ring, they were something she could make off with, again and again, and never harm more than pride. That's what nobody quite seemed to understand: it was really all just a game.

    It would have been a clean break, if it hadn't been for Princess Shazari. There she was, right place and very wrong time, wearing a smirk that would shame a cat. No number of disguises would be enough to fool her, who is rightly considered one of the cleverest princesses of her generation. She'd simply parked herself here and waited, knowing that when two princesses meet with a treasure on the line, the only thing for it is a duel. So ribbon met saber, and then when ribbon tore saber met its much nastier cousin Light Spear instead. And despite Alina's reputation in princess duels dwarfing Shazari's, they fought so evenly you'd think they'd practiced it that way. Around and around, Shazari put all her efforts into avoiding knockout blows rather than attempting them, knowing all she really needed to do was wait for someone to hear, and then to see, and then to raise the alarm and bring overwhelming force. A draw meant she won. Luckily for Alina, it turned out the eyes that happened upon them belonged to Tashanna.

    Now, it's impolite to kiss and tell about it so let's not pry too deeply into this story, but things were done and said and hearts may or may not have been pledged in ways which, let me tell you, were very steamy indeed. And the end result of all of this is that Princess Shazari learned too much about ribbon bondage and watched her arch-rival make off with her favorite jewels (again) because her sister apparently had a fetish for waterlogged minxes.

    The escape I'm told was pure chaos. Many a cart was tipped over and even more drinks were spilled in surprise, which meant it was an exciting and quite thoroughly memorable day for all involved. And thanks to constant suspicion, no fewer than ten girls were arrested that day for the crime of having lavender hair. Not a one of them turned out to be Princess Alina Cascade. All in all, it was perfect. When she hugged Rita goodbye so they could make their separate ways home (honestly, they'd been away quite long enough and missed their families terribly), they were in the highest spirits anyone had ever seen them in. Which was saying something. If only both of them had gotten home without incident...


    ***

    Alina fidgets on the deck of the ship, trying very extremely hard not to blush herself to death. Which is a real thing, thank you very much! And not made any easier by the wandering eyes or creepy grin of one Detective Brill, no sir not at all. Of all the ways she could have possibly chosen to enter Jedad, this was at the absolute bottom of the list. She'd planned, she'd wanted to try donning the blacks of the Watch and blend in that way, but a certain SOMEONE and had the gall to tell her that was illegal for some reason, and didn't even stop flashing her silver light around when she said it. Since when did it matter if -- ooh! See how many sacred shrines you have life changing experiences in you... you... traitor! She fidgets again. She stares at her extremely exposed stomach. She picks at the gauzy blue silks on her arms and legs. She makes sure the... urk... veil is still in place, as her hair bounces in a very un-Alinaish ponytail behind her.

    See now, here's the thing, ok? The brilliance of this plan is that never once, not in all the times she's been here, has Alina ever dressed like an actual Jedadi girl. Let alone a barmaid. They'll never suspect it, even if they suspect her. It's killing her. She touches the necklace where she's stored her lights, and they gleam moodily at her. You tell 'em, girls. But it would be worth it, it really really would, if it meant she got out of here still able to do the job she knew was left in front of her after this. But just... darned if she wasn't going to make sure every person in Jedad knew how much they owed her for this. Calling off the bounties won't even scratch the surface!
    Last edited by PhoeKun; 2019-07-05 at 12:18 AM.

  11. - Top - End - #221
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Sonja Solmarra!

    This is the worst week of your life.

    You got into this job because it came with a badge and a nice pension, and also because once you cleared out your paperwork nobody cared about you reading steamy romance novels at your desk. (The Goblin ones are especially well-plotted, and always have a villainous monologue that’s a treat to read.)

    Then the Princess shows up and it’s action, ceaseless vigilance, and everything. Ugh. You were in the middle of the Stormkiss Archive and not being able to finish it is literally the worst thing to ever happen. And there isn’t anything you can do to speed up business as usual except catching whoever the Princess is looking for.

    Your gilded dhow docks alongside the Lucky Number Seven, an Askaian barge. Doubly worth investigating, then. With a few waves of your hand, your guards start looking through the ship thoroughly. Hopefully they’ll be quick about it so you can go back to napping and hoping somebody finds the Heart of Jedad already.

    “Until further notice,” you read listlessly off the piece of paper which says this thing, “entrance to the Bazaar is permitted but exit is strictly prohibited until Princess Shazari declares the state of national emergency concluded. If you so desire you may immediately turn this ship around and go elsewhere without hinderance.” Blah blah this is so dry your eyes are watering and threatening your very expensive eyeliner.

    Thank goodness that Princess Mechanical Rule-following Construct here happens to be on board, right? She’ll do all the formalities and then be on her way. Weird she’s back, though. You’d heard something about her getting kicked out of the Watch or something? But she did still send the Bell Day card, so, like, who even knows anymore.

    Oh, right. This bit, too. “Oh, and are you aiding, abetting, harboring, or otherwise serving the Iluminan Princess?” You look up at the big, painfully honest dragon, waiting for her to say no so you can get on with your life.

    ***

    Rhyza Sussari!

    Let everybody else worry about frisking cats and opening up boxes in the cargo hold and banging around for hidden compartments. You’ve already found the hidden treasure on this ship: a delicate little lapis-lazuli flower, self-conscious and nervous, seeing all these strong women about.

    You come up behind the little barmaid and give her a reassuring squeeze on her shoulder. “Hello,” you say, voice as sultry as a lava flow, cupping her chin playfully. “First time visiting the Bazaar, little deer? You’ll have to allow me the honor of letting me be your humble servant and guide. I insist.”

    Though, of course, the honor is really hers. Anyone would be lucky to be wooed by a flame-haired dervish of the south, whose bones are tough as the serpent’s tears, whose armor is adorned with golden honors. And you can arrange for some time off tonight, pull in a few owed favors. It’ll be worth it for this little jewel.

    ***

    Kazelia!

    So Adila’s having the most listless interrogation ever, Alina’s being hit on by a slender Jedadi swordswoman (likely a mercenary) with her crimson hair flopping down over one eye, and the Jedadi are rummaging through the ship’s hold and checking cats to a sketch of Rita von Catabas. Rita has been cleverly disguised as a regular cat, and probably won’t be caught... probably.

    But you’ve been left alone! Given a wide berth! Which means you have the ability to intervene where and how you see fit.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  12. - Top - End - #222
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Sonja Solmarra!

    This is the worst week of your life.

    You got into this job because it came with a badge and a nice pension, and also because once you cleared out your paperwork nobody cared about you reading steamy romance novels at your desk. (The Goblin ones are especially well-plotted, and always have a villainous monologue that’s a treat to read.)

    Then the Princess shows up and it’s action, ceaseless vigilance, and everything. Ugh. You were in the middle of the Stormkiss Archive and not being able to finish it is literally the worst thing to ever happen. And there isn’t anything you can do to speed up business as usual except catching whoever the Princess is looking for.

    Your gilded dhow docks alongside the Lucky Number Seven, an Askaian barge. Doubly worth investigating, then. With a few waves of your hand, your guards start looking through the ship thoroughly. Hopefully they’ll be quick about it so you can go back to napping and hoping somebody finds the Heart of Jedad already.

    “Until further notice,” you read listlessly off the piece of paper which says this thing, “entrance to the Bazaar is permitted but exit is strictly prohibited until Princess Shazari declares the state of national emergency concluded. If you so desire you may immediately turn this ship around and go elsewhere without hinderance.” Blah blah this is so dry your eyes are watering and threatening your very expensive eyeliner.

    Thank goodness that Princess Mechanical Rule-following Construct here happens to be on board, right? She’ll do all the formalities and then be on her way. Weird she’s back, though. You’d heard something about her getting kicked out of the Watch or something? But she did still send the Bell Day card, so, like, who even knows anymore.

    Oh, right. This bit, too. “Oh, and are you aiding, abetting, harboring, or otherwise serving the Iluminan Princess?” You look up at the big, painfully honest dragon, waiting for her to say no so you can get on with your life.
    +Hello Lady Solmarra!+ Princess Adila thought brightly and happily, a horrid little ray of sunshine in your already miserable day. She does that salute where she has to lower her neck so her claws can reach her brow. She opens up one of her sidebags and delicately lifts out multiple large scrolls and rolled them out onto the ground - one of which was a warrant for Alina's arrest. +Are you referring to this Illuminan Princess? Princess Alina? I have been commissioned by the Captain to bring her to justice in accordance with the Law. I encountered her in several places, including on the shrine-island to the worldroot here+ she fumbled for a map and hovered a claw above an insignificant speck of green. +Whereupon I informed her of the charges that were levelled against her and that I would bring her back to Jedad to face the justice of the Watch! And I swear to you,+ she clenched her claws into a fist to show how determined she was +I will not stop until Princess Alina is punished for her crimes against the people of the Bazaar! Now, I must ask you: Have you seen or heard word of the Illuminan Princess operating within the boundaries of the city?+

    She was playing jurisdictional games and she didn't think Solmarra would miss it - it was an old dance between the Watch and Jedad. She was going to be as polite, helpful and obedient as possible in the interests of buying time. She would never lie to a fellow law enforcement professional, though!

    Besides, this was an opportunity to catch up with an old friend. She adored Solmarra's eyeliner and couldn't wait to ask her where she got it!
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-07-05 at 12:25 AM.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  13. - Top - End - #223
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    San Francisco
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia's first impulse when she sees the guard press on Alina's shoulder is to go and do something about it. But...but that was what had happened with Adila. She had seen someone come at one of her friends and she had lost herself in rage and raced headfirst to protect them. But that had ended up hurting her friend. Adila had asked her not to do that. And here...this was just a stop, it was just a regular search anyway, Alina could handle herself, even if she looked very small next to that tall, red-haired guard. She could, and this was going to be Kazelia's first step to being better. She'd just, she'd just send one little chilly breeze over that way to give the mercenary some pause, that was it. She made a little hand gesture and sent the Arctic wind gently blowing that direction and then she pointedly looked the other way and walked over to where Adila was standing and conversing with the guard captain wearing heavy makeup.

    Riders didn't really do eyeliner of course, so that was something interesting for Kazelia. She herself was garbed in silks of a deep red to contrast with her skin tone (this was, obviously, a very well-made Rider costume) and wearing a mask for the festival with a twin face of black and red split down the center. It was very properly intimidating and she hoped that everyone would be very impressed with her and treat her like a normal festival-attendee. But she was curious about all the things happening, so rather than just stand around and be quiet, she had gone to join Adila.

    "Um, hey" she said nonchalantly. She thought it was nochalantly at any rate, it might have been a little more pointed than strictly necessary. "What's um, what's with all of this? This is my first time visiting Jedad and none of my friends mentioned anything about port searches. There's supposed to be a big festival and I'm really excited to get in and enjoy it and maybe learn my way around!" Kazelia sort of trails off for a moment. The questions that first come to her mind are things like seen any really dangerous servants of Oberon Greymane around these parts, like a terrifying Rider witch? and possibly What kind of military strength do you have and can it hold off a terrifying Rider witch? but she can't ask those questions. So instead after a few seconds of silence she goes for "Um, yeah, so when can we get going?" quickly followed realizing that's maybe too rude with "and uh, what would you recommend I see while I'm here?" There, totally nailed it Kazelia.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  14. - Top - End - #224
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila!

    Behind her dark blue veil (attached to her helmet) Solmarra makes a grimace of “oh by the Clocks she’s still exactly like this all the time.” Luckily, she’s not the sort of person who would press the issue. While you’re trying to go in, at least. Circumstances would likely be different if you were trying to leave.

    “I meant the Black Princess of Ilumina, but it’s good to know that you’re still on Alina’s trail. Shazari thinks— I mean, we believe that she has escalated her wanton disrespect for Jedad by stealing the Heart of Jedad on behalf of the Black Princess. So best of luck.”

    The sooner you go and catch her, the sooner I can go back to reading my thrilling novel, she does not say, very loudly.

    (And before you insist that Alina couldn’t possibly have been in two places at once, consider: one of her most famous thefts revolved entirely around being in two places at once. A bit of an uphill battle there, as far as alibis go. Even if you blow Rita’s cover, too, who’s to say she didn’t have a third accomplice to fool you this time?)

    ***

    Kazelia

    The makeup isn’t— well, okay, maybe by Rider standards it’s heavy. But the Jedadi seem to like eye-oriented cosmetics. Might be because the veils make blush and lipstick harder to accentuate.

    (Jedadi lipstick culture is actually very salacious and full of “color codes” and subtle variations. If you obscure the lips as a matter of fashion, you just make them more exciting when uncovered. But who here would possibly have any experience with that, anyhow?)

    Anyhow! You catch her wearily offering Adila good luck. How fortunate! Seems like she’s friendly!

    “The House of Hospitality has an award-winning menu and authentic Jedadi cuisine at fair prices,” she rattles off without even looking at you. Wow. Rude. Okay, maybe not friendly. “Don’t miss your fortune, written in the stars at the Guild of Astrologers.”

    She does not answer the question about leaving. Oh, dear. Isn’t that frustrating?
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  15. - Top - End - #225
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Once again, Princess Adila let her admiration for Solmarra rise to the surface. She had been gearing up for an elaborate timewasting stonewall and Solmarra had instantly seen through it, cut to the quick, and instantly dumped her problem in Adila's lap. It was the same star-studded adoration she felt towards Brightball athletes; she could write an essay on the sheer clarity of purpose Sonja brought to everything she did! She determined to write the details of this encounter down for later review; it was like getting beaten by a chess grandmaster.

    +Princess Kazelia, this is Lady Sonja Solmarra of the Royal Guard,+ thought Princess Adila, her bubbly positive feelings towards Sonja standing in total contrast with Sonja's dead-eyed monotone. +Lady Solmarra, thank you so much for your valuable time. Before we are on our way could I dare to trouble you for the secret of your eyeliner?+
    Last edited by Thanqol; 2019-07-05 at 08:29 AM.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  16. - Top - End - #226
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Up in the mountains
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "Eeep!" Alina eeps as an unexpected blast of icy wind chills her to her soul.

    "Eeeeep!" she eeps even harder when it tangles up their feet and somehow perfectly knocks her right into the waiting arms of this incredibly brazen swordswoman.

    She tries to shoot Kazelia a dirty look but of course the secret double traitor isn't even looking this way. Well f-fine then! She'll do it herself, and don't you dare come crying to her when things took a bad turn here. She'd warned you and warned you and warned you, don't trust the beauty of the city, that's how they get you! But nooo, the second a Royal Guard shows up you're off to hang out with dragons and ask for directions! Fine then. Fine! Have a lovely time, and enjoy being robbed!

    ...Ok. Ok, right. Step one is absolutely not to look into this woman's eyes. If she blew her cover now she'd be in huge trouble, and that's the only weak point in her disguise she can really think of. So just... keep a cool head here, Alina, act shyly disinterested and politely disentangle yourself so you'll be free to tackle the Bazaar. That's when she feels the fingers around her chin lifting her gaze up, up, up and-- Oh. Oh waterfalls. Underneath her veil, she blushes despite all her instincts screaming at her not to. Her knees get weak on her and suddenly she's leaning into the flame haired mercenary a lot more than is strictly necessary. Oh dear. Right. Um. Plan...

    Goodness, that grip is strong. Also, that face. They really do build them nice in Jedad, don't they? Let's set aside the fashion choices for a moment and just... um, what's happening? Apparently she took too long. Those nice, strong fingers are still cupped under her chin. They squeeze closed, just enough to tease. And then they gently tug her head down again. Then back up, and down again until she's nodding on her own without realizing it.

    "Oh. Well, um. I-if you're sure you don't mind..."

  17. - Top - End - #227
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    San Francisco
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Kazelia looks back and forth between Adila and the woman she now knows is Lady Solmarra. This is a very confusing situation. The sense of awe she's getting from Adila is entirely out of keeping with her impression of the captain, who seems uninterested and rude. She's also really confused that Adila just introduced her by her title and real name! She wasn't wanted like Alina or anything, but she was a Rider princess and she wasn't sure if she was supposed to be advertising that around or not. But if Adila was doing it, that meant it was probably fine, right? The two of them clearly knew each other.

    "Lady Solmarra, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance" Kazelia says formally. "Um, thank you for the recommendations, I'll be sure to try the cuisine here, I imagine it's delicious." She looks at both the Guard captain and Adila. "So, uh, you two know each other? How did you two meet? I got the impression from Adila that the Watch had their own base, more or less and didn't necessarily work with the regular Jedadi forces very often." There, that's a nice reasonable question that doesn't sound like an evil Rider spy or someone panicked and trying to find her sister.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  18. - Top - End - #228
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Rhyza Sussari!

    Oh, what a perfect little doe, all trembling-kneed and soft-voiced, like the birds that sing just before dawn breaks over the dunes! Yes, there is no way that your honor, not to mention your heart, will allow this flower in blue petals to languish unappreciated among cats any longer.

    You take her up in your arms, lifting her gently but easily, as if she was another one of the cats. You bring her in so close that your veils brush against each other. “Then it’s a date,” you growl, warmly.

    Hup, hup, up! You swing her up onto your shoulder, gently, carefully, one hand cupping her perfect little rump, and how are you to resist giving it an appreciative squeeze? That is too much to ask of any woman.

    So! Just take her past the captain and bring her aboard your ship, and then take paid leave as soon as possible. Maybe hide her in a sack or a barrel so the rest of your colleagues don’t get any ideas! Or perhaps you should spend the ride back into the city working the maid’s veil down and marking your territory with lipstick. Oooh, there’s a thought.

    Kazelia, Adila!

    “Likewise, your highness,” Sonja says with a curtesy that is exactly as deep as protocol demands and no deeper. “So, you know, Princess Alina sent Queen Shulamis a coded letter saying where the Royal Jewels were, and for some reason they sent me to go find them, and Adila’s good at puzzles or whatever.” As an aside: “Black Sea Foaming, but then you blend with a pushmi-pullyu-hair brush, ta-da.”

    A mercenary walks past with a salute and a familiar little barmaid slung over her shoulder. Sonja gives her a Look. A “what do you think you’re doing” Look.

    “Bringing my date for the evening on board, Captain!” The mercenary purrs. Wow. She’s smoldering.

    And also, you know her, Adila! That’s Rhyza Sussari. She’s been best friends with Juniper Blue since CASEFILE: Juniper Blue and the Monkey’s Paw. Half the Watch thinks she’s huge trouble and the other half has a crush. She is unpredictable, brave, and such a top.

    “It’s whatever, as long as she’s fine with it,” Sonja says with a shrug. But because she’s not a jerk, she does stop to make sure she is indeed fine with it. Which means...

    Alina!

    Well, you know what you have to do. In front of Adila, Kazelia, Rita, and presumably Ourania herself. The greatest challenge of your long acting career in Jedad.

    You need to pretend to be a giggly, ditzy, lovestruck Jedadi barmaid thrilled to be (gently, adoringly) belly-down on her shoulder, with a very possessive hand on your cutie patootie which may make your job harder. Or easier, probably, actually.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  19. - Top - End - #229
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Up in the mountains
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Ohhh goodness, she's strong! Not Kaja-strong, but who is? Very, very teasingly close to Helya-strong, which in terms of Alina's more romantically inclined dreams is... a-actually, better not to think about this. Wait. Wait wait wait, where is that hand going!

    Princess Alina squeaks, and she squirms for everything she is worth. Because she is herself, this manages to be graceful and alluring, unless you're Rita (in which case you are struggling at the moment to maintain resting cat face). This in spite of how much warm skin is in contact with other warm skin, and with a hand constantly squeezing her butt like it's a favorite pillow. The blush at least is very natural, and it only deepens when she realizes literally everybody is staring at her while this random guard waits around for her permission to get carried on board an enemy ship and pinched to death. Thank goodness she has this v-- Alina Cascade if you finish that thought you are grounded.

    She swallows, which is difficult because her throat has become very painfully dry. Ok. Ok! She can do this. She's pulled off so many cons in this country she's caught them writing plays about it. She's a brave and powerful princess, and this is the only way, she swears, to save Jedad and then later the rest of the world from the clutches of Oberon Greymane. Maybe half an eye blink before things get too awkward, she manages a giggle. To sell it harder she snuggles herself nice and close against Rhyza's neck and shoulders. Kaja would be a mess right now, shame it's not h-- Alina!

    "Oh, I'm..." she hides her face for a moment and tries to stifle another bout of giggles, "I'm exactly where I want to be! M-m-mhm~"

    ...Ourania, blessed be thy name. Just get her through this moment right here and she swears by rain and rainbow she will never ask another favor again.

  20. - Top - End - #230
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    San Francisco
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    "Oh, that's interesting." Kazelia tries not to look at Alina. She's got it handled, she wouldn't be giggling and laughing like that if she didn't. One clenched fist, just for a moment is all Kazelia shows at the way it makes her feel when someone is taking a friend away from her. Just a moment of a tight ball, on the side towards Adila but not so visible to the guards because she's in control of this, even if she is digging her nails into her skin enough to leave deep purple bruise marks. Okay, so just stay focused on the guards. "But that meant you knew Adila already? Or she had a...reputation for puzzle solving? Adila, you never told me you liked solving puzzles. Where did you learn that?"
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  21. - Top - End - #231
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    “It’s whatever, as long as she’s fine with it,” Sonja says with a shrug. But because she’s not a jerk, she does stop to make sure she is indeed fine with it. Which means...
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    "Oh, I'm..." she hides her face for a moment and tries to stifle another bout of giggles, "I'm exactly where I want to be! M-m-mhm~"

    ...Ourania, blessed be thy name. Just get her through this moment right here and she swears by rain and rainbow she will never ask another favor again.
    Princess Adila was no good at dishonesty, and keeping a straight thought while this was crossing her field of vision was a talent beyond her. She froze as soon as she realized she'd thought it out loud and a fiery glow ignited under the scales of her face in the dragon equivalent of a blush.

    +I wish I could do that+

    She didn't ruin the mission - she'd been focused very hard on not thinking thoughts that would ruin the mission - but in some ways this was worse. She had been thinking about her own disastrous infiltration attempt and was just admiring how Alina had so skillfully disguised herself in comparison, honest!

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    "Oh, that's interesting." Kazelia tries not to look at Alina. She's got it handled, she wouldn't be giggling and laughing like that if she didn't. One clenched fist, just for a moment is all Kazelia shows at the way it makes her feel when someone is taking a friend away from her. Just a moment of a tight ball, on the side towards Adila but not so visible to the guards because she's in control of this, even if she is digging her nails into her skin enough to leave deep purple bruise marks. Okay, so just stay focused on the guards. "But that meant you knew Adila already? Or she had a...reputation for puzzle solving? Adila, you never told me you liked solving puzzles. Where did you learn that?"
    +I LOVE PUZZLES+ thought Princess Adila. +LETS GO FIND SOME PUZZLES+
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  22. - Top - End - #232
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Everybody Together!

    There’s a moment where folks just give Adila a look. Then Rhyza grins like a wolf.

    “Don’t we all?” Squeeze, pat pat, squeak provocation. “If you feel brave, copper... well, you know where to find me.”

    Kazelia, Adila!

    Well, here you are, at the docks of the Bazaar, minus one Iluminan. We zoomed out for a moment, watched the ships break apart, and then the many sails of the overcrowded docks coming into view.

    And here, on cue, is Mimsley Trotter, sweating and red-faced, a little unsure how to handle “oh, hey, Adila’s back from the mission we sent her on.”

    She salutes her princess, on general principle, and then salutes Kazelia just to be on the safe side.

    “W-welcome back,” she stammers. “Are you here to catch Alina and save the Bazaar, Addy? Adila? Ma’am?”

    Help her out, Adila, will ya?

    Kazelia, meanwhile— the energy here is full of life! Lots of dock hands, lots of mercenaries watching over ships that can’t leave, a Watch patrol a few streets down, Jedadi dancers making sales pitches for various shops, and lots of signs, signposts, banners, and advertisements pointing you further in. What’s the most interesting sight?

    Alina!

    So this is how you sneak into the Bazaar: as contraband, stolen in by Shazari’s own mercenaries. (Feel free to tell us, if you like, how exactly Rhyza keeps you out of the covetous eyes of her peers while she finishes her shift. I’m sure it’s very worthy of your dignity.)

    But here you stand, now, on the dockside, beside a lithe redhead who has her eye on you. You’re about to get an unnecessary tour of the Bazaar, but this time, not as a bold brigand or a visiting Princess but as a humble barmaid. One, even, that’s getting lots of admiring looks; you just can’t help being graceful and lovely, after all. (And your outfit is very flattering, to boot!)

    As a cunning and clever Princess, I’m sure that squeezing information surreptitiously out of Rhyza will be easy for you. Go ahead and provoke her to spill all sorts of secrets.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  23. - Top - End - #233
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    San Francisco
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Kazelia, meanwhile— the energy here is full of life! Lots of dock hands, lots of mercenaries watching over ships that can’t leave, a Watch patrol a few streets down, Jedadi dancers making sales pitches for various shops, and lots of signs, signposts, banners, and advertisements pointing you further in. What’s the most interesting sight?
    Kazelia distractedly returns Mimsey's salute. Adila had practically shouted at her mentally about puzzles, and well, that was something. She had thought about asking Adila where they could find something to do since Adila was the local and Kazelia was the new arrival. But she didn't want to add any further to that sense she'd had from earlier of Adila caring for her, so instead she tried to look around and spot puzzles for herself. This, of course, just made everything more interesting, so it's impossible to pick which one is the most!

    There are all the dock hands rolling around cargo and unloading ships. Are they moving in pattern? Perhaps engaging in some sort of subtle coordination that would indicate the kind of criminal enterprise that Adila might be on the lookout for? Worth scrutinizing closely.

    Then there are the mercenaries, wearing all sorts of colors and styles of silk. Was that a trick, what if the mercenaries were actually using the many colors as signals for the riders, indicating which landing sites were the safest locations? Kazelia tried to look over their locations, see if there was something in common between different colors that matched in different locations, though it was surely dizzying.

    There's the house of hospitality, and a sign pointing to the astrologers guild further into the heart of the city, which must be that tall roof with the golden telescope. Poor fools, they wouldn't know what to do with Kazelia when they found out that she was hidden from all the stars. If they even believed her. That made her wonder though. Adila had felt so much respect for Solmarra, perhaps her suggestion was more than just a passing tourist routine and actually cut to the heart of the matter. Could she ask the astrologers to help them find people, even her own sisters? That was seriously worth considering.

    And of the course, the shops. So many shops, so many people shouting, so many wares. Was that a puzzle itself? Perhaps part of the very fabric of Jedad was learning the nature of the different shouts and piece together what was really worth pursuing, or what was hidden amidst all the action. Kazelia tried to listen closely, to pick out different sounds among them, even going so far as to subtly cast her eyes and ears up and down the street while Adila responded Mimsley, so that Kazelia could get a more thorough view of the area.

    [Rolling to look closely. 5+5=10.
    -What is going on here, what do my senses tell me?
    -Is something hidden or out of place? If so, what looks suspicious?
    -Tell me about the Astrologers? How could they hurt me? How could they help me?]
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  24. - Top - End - #234
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Up in the mountains
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    The last time Princess Alina was here time spent in hiding meant lounging on a downy bed with cool, satin sheets while girls dressed much the way she is right now fanned her and alternated between feeding her grapes and offering sweet, delicious drinks. Ah, the life of a bandit queen. One does feel nostalgic. Especially right now, because that's... not how she's waiting out Rhyza's shift. Not hardly. Instead, she's stuffed (rather delicately, one must admit) in a barrel that until extremely recently was full of the most pungent pickles she's ever seen. Or smelled. Oh, stars.

    "Don't want anybody running off with you, now do we? Be a good girl and stay put. On my honor it'll be more than worth your while, my little jewel."

    Alina did not think that the honor of a Jedadi sellsword was worth especially much, but it was very hard to say so with that husky voice purring in her ear, to say nothing of the hand still softly caressing her backside. She felt a little shiver run up her spine and she, Alina Cascade, the Princess-Promised of Illumina, quite placidly let herself be lifted up and shut inside this very smelly cask. Some two hours later she was very much beginning to regret it. The nerve of that woman! Couldn't she at least have found some place comfortable? Do they not give soldiers their own chambers in Jedad? Barbarism, that's what it was! What a backwards country.

    St-still though... how long has it been since somebody's actually tried to seduce her? It's not like her life's been short of kisses lately, it's just that they've also all involved being thrown into the clouds or coughing up water all over her face afterwards. Nobody's made the effort to make her feel good. And that feels bad, you know? It's such a shame she has to cut and run before getting to the good part. Right? She does, right? Of course she does. There's no time to get carried off to some secret space and snuggle herself up against that lithe body and trace the muscles with her fingertips and--

    Oh hey, the barrel's opening! And Alina's never blushed harder in her life. Ok now, remember: ditzy, lovestruck barmaid. Also remember: actually a very powerful princess on a mission to save the world. Easy, right? Easy!

    ...This is really hard. Every time Rhyza points something out she has to swallow a comment about some extra detail she knows but shouldn't. Oh yeah, and that stall over there has never had the slightest idea what saffron is wor-- bad Alina, bad! At least with everything gearing up for Carnival there's an energy to everything she's not used to. It actually looks... really fun? Not as fun as Illumina's Equinox Ball, but... y'know, still. Plus, who knew there were so many places tucked around the corners that were so perfect for romantic young couples? She'd never really thought to look before. A-and why would she? What were the odds she'd find a datable girl in Jedad? And her mother would never have approved.

    Alina is a perfectly sweet date, herself. She laughs at all the jokes, she listens attentively, and she shyly hides her face after compliments, but not so much that she crosses the invisible line between playing hard to get and being hard to get. Every now and again after a comment she'll work in a pout and a reply that goes something like, "Princess Shazari is working you too hard. What's so important to her that you can't have more time for fun?" or, if she could get the conversation to be about work, "Th-the Black Princess your captain lady person mentioned on the ship sounds scary! Who is she?" and, "Is it really true that the Heart of Jedad got stolen? How could that have happened?"

    The day wears on. There are a lot of eyes on Alina. Normally she's used to it and just lets those sorts of looks wash over her, but normally she's a princess, or at least dressed as somebody very important, so the looks don't get followed up with whistles or clapping or flustery little compliments. Wh-why does this outfit feel so revealing? Her heart is fluttering out of control. The more it flutters, the more her hips keep brushing up against this desert flame's legs. Before long, her cheek starts resting against that lovely arm. One hand wraps possessively around the mercenary's. Then the other hand joins it. It's no good. She can't think straight anymore. She can't think of which questions she even should be asking. Th-things look ok here, right? There's no Rider troops or rampaging snake monsters or horrible, unceasing winters anywhere in sight! Her hand's not dripping itself away into non-existence. She's a powerful (lovestruck) princess, darn it!

    "I still feel sticky, and everything smells like dill and salt," Alina whines, "Don't you know any place we... um. I-I-I-I mean I can take a bath?"

    [Speak Softly result was a 5. Questions are all "what can you tell me about ___?" Feel free to be as unhelpful as suits your needs, Alina has other priorities apparently]

  25. - Top - End - #235
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Kazelia, Adila!

    Well, here you are, at the docks of the Bazaar, minus one Iluminan. We zoomed out for a moment, watched the ships break apart, and then the many sails of the overcrowded docks coming into view.

    And here, on cue, is Mimsley Trotter, sweating and red-faced, a little unsure how to handle “oh, hey, Adila’s back from the mission we sent her on.”

    She salutes her princess, on general principle, and then salutes Kazelia just to be on the safe side.

    “W-welcome back,” she stammers. “Are you here to catch Alina and save the Bazaar, Addy? Adila? Ma’am?”

    Help her out, Adila, will ya?
    F-focus. Focus is a virtue. She is a princess dragon who loves puzzles. That is too many things! She'll never get through the Bazaar like that! She needs to be a Princess! Focus on being a perfect Princess, Adila!

    The Watch had a lot of traditions about what being a Princess meant and how to treat one - and at the same time, they hadn't had one of their own for over a hundred years. During that period their interactions with Hyperborea's princesses has been almost uniformly antagonistic and that seeped into the role that had been carved out for Adila. It wasn't that they didn't like Adila - on the contrary she was generally well regarded - but rather, they had the common understanding of 'Princess' meaning 'Elite secret agent with spooky magic and cunning tricks'. The Captain had decided to call her a Princess for reasons she never communicated, but to understand how the Watch as a whole thinks of Princesses look no further than the fact that they all thought that it made perfect sense to give a firebreathing dragon the title.

    In practical terms, that meant that she got all the weird assignments. If there was ever something spooky or dangerous or beyond the ordinary capabilities of the Watch, Adila got the shift - and often without any particular thought as to what her capabilities actually were. Received a mysterious coded letter that lead to a creepy abandoned Igniter temple? That sounds like Princess work. A member of the Darksparkle crime family is transformed into a flying shark and takes refuge in the clocktower? The Princess will figure it out. And she usually did, eventually!

    +Good morning, officer,+ thought Princess Adila, saluting back sharply. +Call me 'princess' or 'officer' while we're on duty, Adila is fine when we're off the clock. I have already apprehended Princess Alina and have been travelling with her for the past few weeks, I can confirm she is not directly responsible for the current troubles within the Bazaar. I have currently let her out of my sight on bail as part of a scheme to ensure that she is not intercepted by Jedad officials between here and her community service but my mission has overall been a success. This is Princess Kazelia of the Riders, I do not believe she poses an immediate danger to the Bazaar, but she is new to the city so the reverse may be true. I intend to travel with her as I report to the Captain. Is there anything I should know about the city before I proceed?+

    Princess Adila was being extremely by the book here*, but that was because she was on a mission. The Watch drew a sharp line between on mission and off mission; if you were just hanging out on patrol then you could let your hair down and no one would bat an eye, but if things got serious so did the Watch. When she was off duty she could be as casual as any of them.


    * She's overall straight-laced enough to get teased about it, but not so much that it makes people uncomfortable.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  26. - Top - End - #236
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila!

    “Oh, she’s tricky, princess officer,” Mimsley says, doing her best to reconcile her briefing this morning with what you just said. “Must have been another one of her identity-switching schemes. Um. Well, Jedad’s placed us under royal protection, um, if we don’t find the Heart of Jedad the Bazaar’s in trouble, and there’s a princess quarantine at the House of Hospitality, officer princess.”

    Oh. A princess quarantine. That means all the princesses visiting the city are holed up in the old HH, doing their best to sneak out and in without the Watch noticing. It’s the sort of thing the Watch only dares to try and enforce when things are really bad and having princesses running around would make things exponentially worse. Ten to one says the Captain puts you in charge of it.

    But that seems counterproductive. The usual play here would be to recruit the princesses to help out. That suggests that there’s an additional variable in play that you haven’t seen yet.

    Also tricky: Kazelia will likely be asked to abide by the quarantine, unless you make a case for pressganging her into temporary Private status, but that’s what really should have been done with the other princesses, and unknown variables! It’s hard to put together a puzzle when you’re missing the edge pieces.

    “I, um. May I lead you to the Captain?” Mimsley is frantically planning a route in her head that minimizes property damage. No arches, no glass-makers, no stairs, no delicate murals...

    Kazelia!

    Let’s start with the Astrologers, shall we? They watch the stars studded across the vault of heaven, using the cryptic dance of the stars to make predictions on what the future will bring. Of course, they have a blind spot, in that the stars only know about things happening in Hyperborea. Famously, the last prediction they sent to Queen Halcyon was about how the next silk harvest would be unusually prosperous, with nary a hint of “by the way, you’re going to be conquered next week, sorry about that!”

    So they might struggle to predict your future. But if they made a prediction, and it was correct... well, that’d be a good sign, right? A sign that you’re becoming a part of Hyperborea for real. But if they made a prediction and it didn’t come true, or they couldn’t make one at all... wouldn’t that be alienating? A reminder that you’re not from here, you’re not part of this world at all? That not even the stars here can see you at all, even through the ripples you leave in the world?

    I mean, unless I’m wrong. You’re the expert on how the Riders interact with the stars, after all.

    Now. What’s going on?

    There is an underlying tension on the dockside. Any city under blockade would be, but... the Watch patrol a few streets down look jumpy, like they’re going to be ambushed at any moment. There’s a sense of animosity slowly boiling between people wearing veils and people wearing masks. Which makes sense— Jedad’s disrupting one of the busiest parts of the year, right before Carnival, and making it impossible to leave. Wearing the veil seems to be a defiant statement at the moment, with an unusual number of masks in sight. (That said, those Jedadi who do wear the veil seem very proud of it.)

    And the Watch... they’re looking for the Heart of Jedad. This looks like one tendril of a larger search party, one which would be going faster if they weren’t jumping at shadows.

    Which they definitely should be, because there’s a veiled young woman in a baggy shawl walking nonchalantly towards them, moving a little too straight towards them to be innocent, and with her hands in her pockets. That’s part of a puzzle, all right: the puzzle of the ambush on the Watch. She’s doubtless got something nasty hiding in those pockets!

    Rhyza!

    What a curious little flower you have clinging to you. She’s just full of questions, isn’t she? But her voice is lovely to listen to, like a river dancing over the stones of a river bed. It’s entirely possible that the girl is from Ilumina, looking to make her fortune here. Really, she’s lucky she fell in with you rather than being reduced to waiting tables at an Iluminan Restaurant in a sheer dress and high heels.

    Not that you don’t have your own plans for her wardrobe. But there is a distinct difference between serving one mistress and being an ornament for a dozen different tables.

    As you stop by a display of miniature Garthim (which make a fine soup if prepared right, or bloodhounds to hunt magicians) the delightful little thing rubs your arm and asks you why Shazari’s working you so hard.

    “If we close our eyes for a second,” you say, slipping your hand over her eyes to make your rhetorical point, which provokes quite a delightfully flustered response, “the thief will slip away. Vanish, into the desert! Scurry off with the Heart of Jedad. The Black Princess thinks she can hold the Bazaar ransom, but no one would dare remain here carrying its doom. So we wait, and search, and when the coward bolts—“ You lean in and surprise her with a kiss on her pretty blonde head. “We will have her.” And, oh, the breathy little sigh she makes is so satisfying it makes you want to drag her into a back alley to make her sing a symphony. Patience, Rhyza. Patience.

    As you stop to watch a sword juggler, you shoo away a pickpocket looking to give your little lady a frisking, then hear her ask about the Black Princess. You shudder. That’s a dangerous question and no mistake.

    “You don’t want to hear about her,” you say, your voice low and warning. “She is of Ilumina. She wages war against us. She is cold, and wicked, and holds the Bazaar to ransom. That is enough.” Then you tug her onwards, hoping to distract her.

    Ah, now, as you offer her a sweet water-plum from a stall in the lower city, and she takes a bite of that soothing fruit, she asks: what of the theft? And you are not about to let something like “not knowing the answer” stop you from entertaining your lovely little jewel.

    “Alina Cascade entered the temple disguised as a holy priestess, having kidnapped one as she went to draw water from the well. She waited for days for the proper moment, carrying out the simple chores of the temple with such grace you would never expect her to be the wicked little imp in the flesh. Then, when the moment was right, she summoned her ribbons and bound fast the priestesses, then took the Heart of Jedad from its holy seat. Then, bounding upon one of the flying horses newly found in her country, she outraced our husband and landed at the clock tower in time for the Black Princess to announce the theft.” You take a bow, expecting her to applaud your storytelling ability.

    Finally, ah, there’s an excellent question. Baths. It’s possible, you could go and enjoy yourselves... but you can’t resist the thought of making her blush more. You hoist her up and let her sit on your arm held in front of you, her head by yours, and whisper: “well, I know a few places, if you will allow me to provide the sponge and the water, my princess.” Boom. There it is. What girl doesn’t want to be called a princess? And what blushing cattail, draping herself helplessly all over you, could resist the invitation? You even reach up and rub her silk-veiled leg, letting her guess at what you mean by a sponge.

    (You are the sponge. It’s you.)
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

  27. - Top - End - #237
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Anarion's Avatar

    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    San Francisco
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Let's start with the immediate. Kazelia has been doing her doe-eyed look around taking in the sights while Adila talks, when suddenly she takes a step towards Adila and grasps her foreleg. "There's something off, over by the docks where the Watch is, don't turn to look too quickly. There's one woman there, she isn't moving right, not like the rest of the Jedadi. It's like she's headed right towards them, I think something is going to happen."

    While we see how the dragon princess and the Watch guard respond to that, let me tell you about the stars. Oberon, as you may recall, promised Kazelia that she would be able to see the Stars in Hyperborea, and she can't. None of the Riders can see them. That was the lie that pierced her heart. But you might wonder, why is such convincing needed? Isn't Oberon the unquestioned king of the Riders? Indeed, he is that, especially here in this world with its structures of power and after all of them had journeyed so long through the void at his guidance. But he was not always that thing, nor did he always want Riders who obeyed only because of his power. He sought willing daughters, eager to join him, and so many of them have something they want. These requests are not shared, Kazelia does not know what Eska wants, or Kaja (though perhaps Alina Cascade knows that answer), nor Asteria, Azora, Morgina or any of them. They never told her and she never told them. Telling Asteria that she had seen fire was as close as she had come, and that had not been the stars. In her heart, Kazelia loves beauty and the knowledge that there is some grand tapestry that is beyond her gnaws at her soul, though I do not think she could say those words herself. She simply knows that she wants something that even Hyperborea cannot seem to give her.

    But that is only half the question, the other is whether the stars can see her. And to that, I would say no and further that her absence is too small to be noted, especially in a place like Jedad. Unless she were to do something particularly important, like steal the Heart of Jedad and ride through the desert with a Snake Husband in chase, the void that she leaves in the sight of the stars would not be notable enough amidst all the masses of Jedad. Azora, perhaps, leaves a large enough imprint as she moves through the world that the stars can chase her presence by the void in their sight. Like seeing one of those floating black spots in your vision after you sneeze, though as to whether a star can sneeze or not, I leave that the reader's imagination.
    Last edited by Anarion; 2019-07-08 at 09:10 AM.
    School Fox by Atlur

    Quote Originally Posted by The Giant View Post
    Anarion's right on the money here.
    Quotes

    "Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.”
    Oscar Wilde Writer & Poet (1891)

  28. - Top - End - #238
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    PhoeKun's Avatar

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Up in the mountains
    Gender
    Female

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    You're a princess, Alina. A princess! She just called you her-- no no no, not that! You are actually a princess! Your mother was a queen and everything! You're the scourge of Jedad! Even now, even after years without so much as a peep from you they're still invoking your name to delight and terrify innocent young barm-- no, Alina, bad, bad!! Ahem. Princess. You're a princess. You're the older sister, you're the dominant one! Again, with the stories! Remember, the ones they tell in Rowan? The people who asked you when you were going to marry Helya? You're that girl! You're that princess! Ok fine you have a thing for tall women, but still! Are you just going to let her pick you up like this again? You're going to let her treat you like you're some little conquest? That's your j-- er... no that's... that is... just... have some digni mmmmmph!

    So here's a fun fact for you: on every girl that's ever walked the surface of Hyperborea, there's a spot where, if you know the right way to touch it, they'll go tumbling into a land of sweetest bliss. It's different for everyone! You might find it on the back of their neck, on an earlobe, the top of their head. Alina once knew a crime boss right here in Jedad who was as fierce and scary as you could ask for. But it turned out if you blew gently on the back of her knee she'd curl up into a ball and do anything you asked her to. Which incidentally is how Elsaria the Dread wound up in charge of that particular syndicate during her brief reign of terror! And it turns out, Alina herself is vulnerable to a soft stroke up (not down! That's key) her right thigh. And there's been ever so much teasing and kissing and closeness already that it's really, really, really really not her fault if she forgets for a minute that she's highborn. It's completely fine if she, blushing cattail that she is, drapes herself across Rhyza's arm and lifts her veil juuust enough to plant a gentle kiss on that long neck.

    "Th-the water too? Oh gosh..." And her little river voice is accompanied by more nodding than is necessary.

    Does our fair Alina have a plan? She might! Put the little ones to bed, then tune in to find out. Maybe she's just very deep into her role right now and is having trouble pulling herself back out of it. Or she might be angling to wind her way a little deeper into this mercenary's life, just in case she needs some local muscle. Or maybe... maybe she's scared. Because she's seen more than her fair share other Alinas lately, and not all of them have been helpful. If there's really another her out here... well, that's impossible. But what if it wasn't? So if there's another Alina out here, stealing things she'd never dare to take for a mystery princess she's never heard of... well, she could use a sponge right now, ok?

  29. - Top - End - #239
    Colossus in the Playground
     
    Thanqol's Avatar

    Join Date
    Apr 2009

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz_Fox View Post
    Adila!

    “Oh, she’s tricky, princess officer,” Mimsley says, doing her best to reconcile her briefing this morning with what you just said. “Must have been another one of her identity-switching schemes. Um. Well, Jedad’s placed us under royal protection, um, if we don’t find the Heart of Jedad the Bazaar’s in trouble, and there’s a princess quarantine at the House of Hospitality, officer princess.”

    Oh. A princess quarantine. That means all the princesses visiting the city are holed up in the old HH, doing their best to sneak out and in without the Watch noticing. It’s the sort of thing the Watch only dares to try and enforce when things are really bad and having princesses running around would make things exponentially worse. Ten to one says the Captain puts you in charge of it.

    But that seems counterproductive. The usual play here would be to recruit the princesses to help out. That suggests that there’s an additional variable in play that you haven’t seen yet.

    Also tricky: Kazelia will likely be asked to abide by the quarantine, unless you make a case for pressganging her into temporary Private status, but that’s what really should have been done with the other princesses, and unknown variables! It’s hard to put together a puzzle when you’re missing the edge pieces.

    “I, um. May I lead you to the Captain?” Mimsley is frantically planning a route in her head that minimizes property damage. No arches, no glass-makers, no stairs, no delicate murals...
    Princess Adila bristled a little bit. She lived here, you know! She was entirely capable of planning a route that didn't involve property destruction by herself - and that had only happened a few times! It wasn't like every time she went out for a sandwich she left a trail of destruction in her wake! She's already giving Officer Mimsley an inadvertent piece of mind and is just starting to focus on making it explicit when Kazelia interrupts.

    Quote Originally Posted by Anarion View Post
    Let's start with the immediate. Kazelia has been doing her doe-eyed look around taking in the sights while Adila talks, when suddenly she takes a step towards Adila and grasps her foreleg. "There's something off, over by the docks where the Watch is, don't turn to look too quickly. There's one woman there, she isn't moving right, not like the rest of the Jedadi. It's like she's headed right towards them, I think something is going to happen."
    Princess Adila nods quickly and firmly, turning around and moving briskly through the crowd with that the momentum of a dragon on a mission that sent everyone else scurrying out of the way. Within moments she was looming over the suspicious individual. +Can I assist you, citizen?+ she focused down, angling so that she'd be between the stranger and the watch post.

    Princess Adila knew that she could be scary. Long term residents were used to her, and everyone knew stories about the Dragon of the Watch, but very few people were prepared to actually see her in motion - and everyone freaked out if she opened her mouth and they saw fire and teeth. And it was never just one person she was spooking - there was always a crowd of bystanders whose opinions would be permanently altered if they saw her acting rashly. There was nothing in the world she wanted less than seeing a crowd of people looking at her with fear.

    So she followed protocol rigidly. It gave people a handle for dealing with her; let the people trick themselves into thinking they were dealing with an unusually shaped law enforcement professional. It meant that she got far more sass from criminal elements than seemed reasonable but she appreciated that too. There was something wonderfully human about a criminal feeling so confident that you weren't going to hurt them that they could smack talk you even as you were arresting them.
    Soldiers, no poor sap ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by being all that he can be. Damn the torpedoes, or give us death. Eternal vigilance is the price of duty and to the victors go the spoils. So remember: you are the best of the few and the proud. So ask not what our country can do, only regret that we have but one life to live.

  30. - Top - End - #240
    Ettin in the Playground
     
    Raz_Fox's Avatar

    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Imladris
    Gender
    Male

    Default Re: [IC] Princess-Champions of Hyperborea

    Adila!

    “Hey there, Adila!” Scampering Jeni waves at you with the hand that’s not in her pocket. Criminal record: minor acts of larceny, criminal mischief, and being an accessory to a crime. She’s usually up on the rooftops with the Scarabs, one of the minor gangs. “Didn’t know you were coming back to town, but don’t worry! Brought you a welcome back present.”

    Then she chucks the vial down at the ground by your feet, where it shatters, and an absolutely irate sea-djinn explodes out, all tentacles and yelling and wanting to leave one-star reviews of their previous place of residence. Which, uh. You are marginally better-equipped to handle than the average Watch squad, but not by much.

    Spoiler: Sea-Djinn
    Show
    Tentacles! While engaged with the Sea-Djinn, you cannot Get Away.

    Flailing! The Sea-Djinn is Dangerous and will not distinguish between friend and foe until they calm down.


    Kazelia!

    Well, that’s one way to start a panic. People are screaming, mercenaries are closing ranks in case this is a distraction to raid the ships they guard, Brill’s yelling something behind you, and the gal you saw is legging it like there’s no tomorrow.

    If you let the rascal get away, you won’t know why they just did that! But there’s an angry sea-djinn whose lower body is all smoky stormy tentacles trying to beat up Adila, and we all know that hurting your friends is a good way to get in trouble. But is it really the sea-djinn’s fault? You’ve got a choice to make here, and no mistake.

    Alina!

    “Come on. Who’s your queen? Be a good girl and tell me.”

    Alina, you have found yourself in a discreet little back alley, surrounded by the noises of haggling and advertising, loud enough that you shouldn’t get caught in the middle of some very compromising kisses. Unless you’re a naughty little thing who needs to be made to hush with her own veil, but disappointingly, I don’t think we’re quite there yet.

    Because, even as Rhyza toys with you, pins you to the wall with your feet dangling off the ground, threatens to remove your veil, to make this Jedadi evening very hot indeed for you, there’s the distinctive snap-crack of someone using lightning magic, and then someone comes crashing down through the slats and ropes that hang above you, strung from roof to roof to facilitate dramatic rooftop duels. She hits the ground hard, her black coat still smoking, and all the wind goes out of her. Still, she props herself valiantly up on one elbow, wheezing, then glances up at you.

    Rhyza gasps and drops you, letting you hit the ground right on that well-admired rump of yours. (You’d usually be able to use your hands to catch yourself, but somebody cinched a scarf around your wrists to keep them over your head.) “Jun—“

    That’s all she manages to get out before someone comes hurtling down through the hole and makes a perfect one-point landing with their left foot hitting right between Juniper Blue’s shoulderblades. One-hit KO.

    “Sorry about that,” the intruder says with an expressive shake of his head, his beaded braids jingling. And both you and Rhyza are silent a moment, her out of fury, you because you recognize him.

    Years Ago...

    It’s a dingy little bar, which is to say, there are stains on the marble tiles and the lapis lazuli barely has any gold streaks running through it. The upper room is full of Askaian incense, and the King of the Bazaar breathes in deeply before turning his glistening amber eyes to the two of you. All around you, there is the sound of dice and coin, and a sense of being surrounded. He’s a strong dreamer.

    “Well,” he says, languidly. “What brings you to my city, Elsie?” When he stretches his fingers, lightning licks around the fine, gem-studded electrum mesh worked into the back of his gloves. An implicit threat. The kind that people like Elsaria the Dread peddle in.

    “To bring tribute to the King of the Bazaar,” you reply. You remove the gleaming diamond from its pouch with a flourish and set it down before him. He picks it up, inspects it, looks up at you with amusement playing in his eyes.

    “This was mine already,” he says. “I was wondering where it had gotten to.” You slap your forehead in mock chastisement of your self. Message sent: I am skilled enough to be worth your time to deal with.

    “Oh, of course. Sometimes it’s hard to remember what used to belong to who. I hope these weren’t also yours.”

    That’s the signal for your flunky. She steps forward and upends her pouch on the table, letting gems spill out: garnets and amethysts and pearls, all shining with inner light in the incense. The King picks up a dark, lustrous pearl and rolls it between his fingers with a grin that says: I like you, sister. You got spunk.

    “Just don’t cause too much trouble,” he says, tongue in cheek. “Heard the princess of Ilumina was back in town, and she’s always bad for business.” And the way he says it— it’s impossible to tell—

    But if he recognizes you, he doesn’t say so. Instead, with a friendly grin, he tosses you the pearl and waves you out.


    Right Now!

    The King’s knights drop down from every side, in their own motley scarves and jewelry, with knives and saps and chains. They’re well-equipped to deal with meddling princesses, and Rhyza’s not even a princess! But the King waves them off. Close by, Watch whistles are getting closer.

    “Sorry to startle you, sister,” he says. He’s much like you remember him— perhaps he’s grown since your mutual youth— but he’s wearing a bifurcated black-and-white laughing mask and a thick purple scarf about his neck. “I’ll be out of your lovely hair in a moment.”

    “You mongrel.” Rhyza draws her blade with a deadly flourish. Her voice is steady and shivers-down-the-spine scary. “Let Juniper go, right now. Or I’ll destroy you.” That’s a promise right there.

    “Too bad,” the King says, rolling his shoulders and doing a dramatic little finger wiggle by his sides, lightning crackling at his command. “This’ll be quick, I promise.”

    They’re getting ready to duel, and there is one (1) person in this entire alley who can stop them long enough for the Watch to show up and make things even messier. Spoiler: she’s sitting on her butt with her hands tied over her head looking like she was just used as a lipstick test dummy. So, uh. Good luck.
    freedom in the flame

    Spoiler
    Show
    Quote Originally Posted by PhoeKun View Post
    Raz, you scoundrel! You planned this!
    Quote Originally Posted by BladeofObliviom View Post
    Great, and now I'm imagining what Raz's profile on a dating site would look like. "Must be okay with veils."
    Quote Originally Posted by Kasanip View Post
    I don't think there is such a time to have veils that it is not the fault of Raz_Fox.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dervag View Post
    It's a freaking Romulan dump truck. The Romulans are no more likely to build an unarmed warp-capable ship than they are to become a hippy commune.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •