[Plot] TEP: Graceful Discourse

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swaswj

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Continuation from "The Emperor's Pleasure: Hero Treatment" for Princess Grace, Ignis of Animi, and Aeria Luxus. Relevant posts quoted below:

The Geamhess cut gracefully through the sky, wispy clouds parting around the figurehead of Serpens before being drawn toward the humming engines under the protruding wings. Royal and beautiful from the outside, equally immaculate within. The forty-eight guests inside, renowned warriors and heroes from different battles and sponsors, were tended to night and day. The feast of that first night was the largest and most opulent, but none of the guest wanted for wine or spirits, and the tables were always filled with bread and fruit, cold cuts and cheeses, decadent and yet easily preserved. It could easily be mistaken for a pleasure cruise, despite the dire circumstances that had drawn them all together.

The Emperor's two younger children were frequent visitors to the common area; if their older sisters had any complaint, it never came up. Feartu Grace kept to herself, locked away in her own room somewhere else on the large airship; it would be easy to believe she had remained behind in Elata Spiritus. The alluring Venus, however, made sure her presence was known, sauntering through from time to time, always in new and wanton clothing, and always to teasingly slip away not long after. With each visit, the temperature of the room seemed to rise.

Near the same time, an older velen man, smartly-dressed and groomed, makes his way over to Ignis and Aeria, bowing deeply. "My ladies, if it pleases you, our princess Grace would love to speak with you in her chambers. And please, do bring your companion." He flicked his eyes toward the leafy sprite nearby.




There was nothing like the sensation of flying. The Geamhess skimmed along elegantly through the scudding lines of cloud that crossed the deep cerulean of the sky. Aeria's face seemed to be on the edge of a smile at all times as the airship rocketed across the sky. However, she found herself interrupted by the older velen man who requested their presence with the princess.

Aeria glanced across at Ignis, raising an eyebrow and nodding in response to the request. There was a vaguely awkward expression on her face and it took her a moment to reply to the velen. "Of course, it would be our pleasure to have an audience with the princess! Do lead the way."

In spite of herself, the spurii looked rather ill at ease in the elegant surroundings of the airship. The rich fittings and sumptuous atmosphere seemed to put an expression on her face that hovered somewhere between disgust and awe. As they were lead down the corridor, she kept glancing around as though she couldn't believe that she was here.







Ignis stood near her best friend, enjoying the breeze in her face and watching vague shapes the swirls of the clouds suggested to her imagination. Her wine was mostly gone between her idle sips and Amicus' thirst. She turned just after Aeria did, to see the older velen man bowing to her and her friend.

The enlil's brown eyes immediately sought out her friend's gaze, seeking Aeria's reaction to the invitation he issued. What could a princess want with them? Her feathery brows twitched together briefly in confusion before Ignis' expression smoothed. The avian turned back to the smartly dressed velen and smiled guilelessly.

"I've always wanted to meet a princess, I never dreamed I'd get an audience. We would love to meet her."

Similarly, the sprite riding her shoulder perked up at being invited as well.

The enlil trailed after Aeria and the still unnamed velen, a hand coming up to run through Amicus' leaves for reassurance. Although not outwardly suspicious, Ignis empathized with Aeria's unease. Everything around her seemed like it had been ripped straight from one of the books of her teenage years and the enlil wasn't sure she liked it. Dragons had been a major disappointment, part of the pale woman wondered if royalty would disillusion her too.




Aeria, Ignis, and Amicus were escorted respectfully through the Geamhess, stopping in front of the ornate white oak doors of Princess Grace's chambers. Even with the paintings and small sculptures in the hallways, the doors themselves stood out as works of art, with intricate carvings of the sea's bounty and matching images of Serpens on each side, her face left blank out of deference, pouring life-giving waters into a central pool. The two escorts, in practiced symmetry, pulled open both sliding doors at once to allow the two women inside.

Grace's room, in contrast to the rest of the ship, was a display in elegance rather than extravagance. The walls were a brighter pink and white rugs lay over the pale wooden floors. The room was not large, and the princess herself perched on the edge of the luxurious divan, it and a small table being the only furniture within. Books and scrolls were piled high on the table, a small mountain threatening to collapse. A single tapestry hung on the rear wall, with the flag of the empire upon it, while the rest of the walls were bare. Bright, warm light filled the room, a clean light clearly created by magic and nothing so plain as fire or electricity. As before, Grace stood to greet her visitors, bare feet upon her rugs, and offered a warm smile. Her long, deep-red 'hair' framed the warmer pink of her face, pristine blue eyes taking in the two women. She wore a sleeveless dress of pale blue, but still adorned herself with no jewelry. She had no guards inside and the escorts who had led Aeria and Ignis to the room remained outside after closing the doors.

"Thank you for accepting our invitation," Grace said, inclining her head ever so slightly and placing a palm to her chest. "We are pleased to welcome you to our humble chambers." The princess then sat on her divan once more and swept an arm toward her guests. "Please introduce yourselves, and your friend." She was smiling charitably; the request was a courtesy, since she clearly knew who they were.




Once again, Aeria had climbed into all of her finery, donning a pair of richly dyed green leather pants, a cream-coloured silk shirt with billowing sleeves over which she wore a green leather vest that had twining patterns tooled into it. The pants were held up by a thin leather belt with an intricately designed brass buckle.

As the little party swept into the elegant room, the ingenarius glanced around, eyes moving across the fine fixtures and over the books that stood as if they had just been left after being consulted. Eventually her gaze settled on Grace as the princess rose to greet the companions.

Aeria bowed as she had been taught, for a contigeri never curtsied. “My name is Aeria Luxus, your highness. It is an honour and a pleasure to meet you.”

After bowing, she returned to a relaxed but formal stance, allowing Ignis to introduce herself and Amicus.
Princess Grace carries herself royally and lives up to her name. The enchanting young woman, in a more private setting, seems to have a child-like curiosity bursting to break free from her formal demeanor. Ignis and Aeria are fascinating to her, close to her own age and yet like characters from a fairy tale. Eager to find out more about them and the adventures they've been on, Ignis and Aeria are in a unique position to find out more about the war, including why the emperor seems reluctant to accept help.

Difficulty: 70
100+ Great Success
70+ Success
< 70 Failure
< 50 Critical

Mission Bonuses (Unique to the Mission)

+/-?? - The Upset: The situation resolved in an unexpected way.
+20 - Tale Weaver: Grace was enchanted by one of the tales, something that hasn't been told elsewhere.
+20 - Creative License: An existing tale from earlier writings was retold in a creative way.
+0 - Small Talk: Polite, yet boring.
-20 - TMI: By accident or ignorance, you've said something you shouldn't have.
-20 - Delving Too Deep: Being overly direct in your questioning has killed the mood.

Standard Bonuses (each available once):

+30 - Page-turner: Wrote at least 3000 words.
+5 - Neophyte: Used a novice- or adept-tier ability.
+10 - Veteran: Used a skilled- or master-tier ability.
+20 - Legend: Used a grandmaster-tier ability.
+10 - Great Feats: Used a feat ability of any tier.
+10 - Magnum Performance: Used a magnum or ultimum ability of any type.

Roleplaying Bonuses (subject to reader scrutiny):

+10 - It's Personal: Your PC has a history with one of the characters, which is touched on or fleshed out here.
+10 - Rogues' Gallery: The antagonists were given distinct personalities.
+10 - Playing the Part: You performed actions iconic to your character.
+10 - Assimilation: The overarching plot has been woven into personal plot.
-10 - Mary Sue and Gary Stu: It's 1000 years too early for you to break a sweat.
-30 - Fade to Black: The thread was not completed in a timely manner. Repercussions for the protagonists may follow.
 
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MoonlitRain014

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While Ignis was introducing herself and Amicus Aeria took a seat across from the demure and composed princess. All of her finery sat easily on her, as if it were meant to be there and an aura of settled elegance radiated from her in waves. After an appropriate pause, she caught the young woman's attention, boldly taking the initiative in typical contigeri fashion.

"Thank you for granting this audience, your highness. It is an honour to be seated here with you. It must be quite the ordeal for you to find yourself in this situation. How are you bearing up, may I inquire?"

The spurii sat back a little, face betraying nothing as the princess prepared to answer.

[118]
 

Ignis of Animi

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The red-feathered woman let her gaze rest on the princess' face after Aeria's question, genuinely curious about what the princess had to say. Despite the near childlike wonder on her face, there was something heavy and unnatural in the weight of the enlil's gaze. The warmth in her brown irises gave them a subtle red and green hues, swirling. Her shoulders, exposed from her cloak sliding down just enough to reveal the tops of her collarbones, suggested a slight figure, but the basilisk leather cloak along with her hero's cape obscured the rest of her frame. It was as if she were emerging from a deep green and purple cloud.

The small shrub seated on her shoulder clambered down to approach Grace. He hopped towards the princess, before removing his hat and giving a bow.

A warm smile crossed Ignis' lips in approval at her familiar's good manners and amusement at the mons infans' theatrics.

Amicus rustled and hopped from one foot to the other, setting his hat back atop his leafy head.

"Amicus is excited to meet you, Princess Grace; he got a bit too impatient to wait. You look well."

The mons infans lifted his arms as if to ask to be picked up, earning him a subtle eye roll from his contractor.

"Forgive him." The avian massaged her temple with a few fingers.
 

swaswj

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A look of delight spread over Grace's features as she bent down to gently lift up the mons infans. "There is nothing to forgive," she assures Ignis, looking over the little creature and barely containing a small titter of laughter. "We have only heard stories of such fae beings, and never expected to see one so close! In the ocean, there are cousins, of course, said to be of so many colors and shapes, but 'tis far too dangerous for a feartu to venture far into the open water."

Grace seemed caught up in looking over Amicus but then remembered herself. "We are quite well, noble Aeria. It is our honor to help bear heroes such as yourselves to meet our father. Truly, though the situation is dire, we have been spared the worst of it. Being able to assist in this small way, we hope it lightens his burden at least a tiny bit."

The princess gently placed Amicus in her lap and then smiled at both Aeria and Ignis. "We fretted over whether to interrupt your travels to meet with us, and hope it is not too troublesome. In the capitol, we heard such stories of the dreadful daemons, the way they swarmed and left devastation in their wake, and how the brave warriors banded together to drive the monsters back! We can scarcely fathom it… and yet it was said that young women, scarcely older than ourselves, were among the valiant heroes.

"We wished to meet them in person, and perhaps to hear more. Were events as terrifying as the stories say? How did you muster the courage to face such terrible odds?" As she spoke, she looked from Aeria to Ignis, excitedly waiting to hear more, and seeming in that moment a much younger person.

[300/300]

Originally, Aelflead would have been invited, being one of the young heroic women, but the younger prince and princess were going to be pestering her. Things changed a bit, so if it comes up at all, we can just assume that Grace was going to meet with her later or that her attendants felt Aelflead too brash to trust alone with her.

There actually are no chairs for Ignis and Aeria to sit on, but there would be large pillows.
 
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MoonlitRain014

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Aeria's eyes smiled but her face remained composed as she watched the princess dote over the mons infans, who seemed to be rustling in a rather contented way, as Grace settled the small creature into her lap. Eventually the elegant young woman returned her gaze to the spurii and her enlil companion. As she inquired about the Battle of the Black Portal, a shadow touched Aeria's face and was gone.

After a moment, the spurii replied to the question they'd been asked. "It was more terrifying than the stories say. It is hard to convey to people who weren't there just how awful it felt to be faced by those hordes. As for courage, I don't know. We had a task to do and failing wasn't really on the cards, so I guess we just buckled down and did it, your highness."

She shook her head. "I sometimes can't believe it was me there, in that battle. I still have people come up to me in the street and say thank you. It is...most awkward...to say the least. Although I am sure you're quite used to the way people act, if you'll pardon me saying so, your highness!"

[316]
 

Ignis of Animi

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Amicus snuggled into the princess' lap, letting out a contented rustle at being given a comfortable place to rest.

Ignis allowed herself to giggle at his antics once Grace indicated that her familiar's behavior didn't bother her. The amusement vanished once the topic turned back to the black portal. Those swirling brown eyes locked on to the princess' blue ones. The red undertones in her irises made the enlil's eyes seem to glow.

In the background, the avian could hear Aeria's answer. What had it been like indeed?

Amicus stilled, turning away from Graces' long tresses, which had captivated his attention moments before, to look at Ignis, worried.

"I think you'll soon find out for yourself what it is like," the red-feathered woman added in a tone that was difficult to read. Then, Ignis shook her head and her expression returned to normal. "You remind me of myself before all of that happened. It's far less exciting than you would imagine, much more grim. It brings out things in yourself you didn't know before."

She turned her head to look at the empire's flag on the wall. "What we are about to face could be equally frightful. "

Ignis met Grace's eyes once more.

"I'm curious, your highness, are you sure you want to be so close to something so terrible?
 

swaswj

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"Such things are beyond us," Grace admitted, a sorrowful look in her eyes. She pursed her thin lips thoughtfully, fingers brushing through the little familiar's leaves. "Pray forgive our prying. It was not our intention to stir unpleasant thoughts. We simply thought…"

The young velen trailed off and then finally offered them another soft smile. "Ever will your actions, and the sacrifices you made, be honored in history and song. For so long, we have heard such songs, at banquets and ceremonies and in the quiet corners of the palace. What you've done already is remarkable, and yet there is so much more you might do! We hoped to learn more about you, about what kind of people you are… not in songs, but in person.

"As feartu, the eyes of history are already upon us, but the channels we may swim are limited, gentle. The present war will ever be far from us; such terror and pain as you say will never threaten us." Strangely, her words came across not as arrogant, but mournful. "Ah, but the woes of a princess are hardly of note. Perhaps there is yet something we can discuss, of brighter times, perhaps?" Grace's composure was returned and she smiled expectantly.

[200/500]
 

MoonlitRain014

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Aeria sat quietly for a few moments, just letting her body relax. The elegance and indeed grace of the atmosphere made her own body adopt an unconsciously delicate pose as she sat across from the princess. There was a sense of poise that seemed to permeate everyone and everything. After taking her pause, Aeria looked directly at the princess, making eye contact, whether it was protocol or not.

"Well there is indeed many things we can discuss. I suppose that I could talk about what it was like to learn about my trade. It was a happy time with my mentor who was a professor. I should say he is a professor although events have occurred that might make it difficult for him to be one again."

She smiled ruefully. "There I go again, musing on something that I wish not to muse on. The point is that it was wonderful to discover and learn new things. I am sure that Ignis can tell you happy tales of discovery as well. Have you had any such experience, your grace?"
 

Ignis of Animi

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"I can certainly talk of discovery," Ignis agreed, a smile returning to her face. She recognized the distant tone Grace used, suspecting that the princess was something not quite mortal. Ordinarily it would have come across as impertinence, but, her thumb brushed against the wooden circlet within the depths of her cloak, she knew better.

"I was born in Boreas, but I didn't stay there long. My mother was an adventurer and a scientist. She wanted to learn magic and technology capable of helping restore the trees to their ancient glory." A fond look crossed the enlil's face. "So she left and took me with her. We went so many places, met so many people. We were in Hiemis by the time I started remembering things. I didn't have a home so much as an inn of the week or the month."

Amicus settled comfortably in Grace's lap, like a child listening to a fairy tale.

"Mom had to work odd jobs and I tagged along. We fished, gathered rare and valuable plants. We even got to work at this basilisk stable one time." The enlil leaned in and gave Aeria and the princes a conspiratory smile, "They're big softies if you know their favorite food, or if you scratch the soft spot on the back of their skull. Mom was so afraid when I walked right up to one, but it just licked me when I scratched his chin, like a big dog."

Ignis laughed.

"I digress. We made it to Terminus by the time I was four or so, and lived in various places around the city while my Mom saved up money to attend classes at the Arcanum. Going home was tough because I wasn't used to staying in one place so long, but I made a friend who helped me through it."

Amicus puffed up proudly, knowing who that friend was.

"What of you, Princess? Surely you had an interesting life growing up. You must have seen incredible things"
 

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As she listened, Grace's eyes brightened up once again. The princess let out a child-like giggle at the idea of a basilisk acting like a dog, and soon she was smiling again. "We have!" she answered cheerfully. "As Father's first-born daughter, we have always been watched and protected, of course, but our mother was a gifted speaker and diplomat. As far back as we remember, she would take us with her as she visited foreign lands, teaching us the customs, showing us amazing things!

"Ever was Boreas our favorite. Oh, how we wished to run off into those beautiful forests and disappear among the tree limbs. We were taken to Terminus on many occasions; the city is a wonder to behold, particularly at night, thousands upon thousands of tiny lights to match the millions of stars overhead! We have flown over the sands of Aridus, only once, and it has a strange, quiet beauty of its own… so much empty space and yet clear and pure and the same time. One time, we even flew over a volcano. The smell was atrocious," she noted, wrinkling up her nose, "but there was an electricity in the air! Like nature's power was all around us. Later, mother even gave us a smooth piece of black glass from the volcano." Grace looked at her open palm, pointing at the tip of one thumb. "We cut ourselves quite badly on it, being careless, but the edge was so fine that it left no scar!"

The princess leaned in closer and looked to Aeria. "You mentioned your trade… are you both skilled in engineering? Father has always praised the great masters of Ingeniarius and all they've done for us. His love comes from our grandfather, he says. The Geamhess was commissioned by Grandfather, but sadly he passed before it was completed. Father later gifted it to our mother and has kept it in pristine condition all these years." She adopted a pensive, far-off look. "He does not wish to fly on it, but treasures it still; when our mother passed, and we took on her responsibilities, it was given to us." Her smile returned. "Forgive us, we wanted to hear more from you! Pray do not let us prattle on!"

Grace giggled and began asking lots of questions, most eager to hear about engineering and the things that could be done with it. She excitedly begged to hear more of Aeria's professor and Ignis' mother. For a short while, she focused on talking about different plants, proving to be surprisingly knowledgeable before she explained that she kept a special garden at home in the capitol, with magical light and imported soils allowing a great variety of plants to grow in the enclosed environment.

Her mother died when she was in her mid-teens, and despite her youth, she had immediately taken over her mother's role as an ambassador. As the amiable talk continued, it became clearer that she had traveled the world and yet never been allowed to venture far from the Geamhess or the palace.

[510/1010]
 

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