[Plot] The Emperor's Pleasure - Under the Sea

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swaswj

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The Emperor's Pleasure - Under the Sea
Anguis Trigon, Phase Three




Blue sky above, with long, broad brush strokes of white stretching into the distance. Blue waters below, glinting golden in the late afternoon light. The Geamhess gracefully soared overhead, striking a course between the two folds. After passing through a wispy cloud and coating the airship in shimmering dew, the pilots began bringing the ship lower, close enough to make out the sea spray from the crashing waves, to smell the salt in the air. A merchant ship cut through the azure waters, sharing a heading with the airship that passed overhead.

On the horizon, a bright spot of green broke up the surrounding blue, the first glimpse of the capitol city of the velen empire, Pelagia.

Other airships came into view and the waters below were dotted by more and more vessels. With each passing minute, more of the city came into view, an emerald gem rising out of the water. Pelagia was made up of many circular districts rising just above the water's surface, with waves crashing against the supporting pillars. Roadways and bridges connected the different parts of the city, each spiraling upward and inward. There were four distinct plateaus above the waves, each smaller than the last. The crown of the city was a white-walled palace with pink coral roofing; its five towers each rose slightly higher than the last, leaving the tallest in the very center.

Pelagia was a jewel in the ocean, a bustling little city of beautiful architecture, with water flowing freely in sand-lined channels throughout the city, beginning at the Palace of Emphaevis and cascading downward in shimmering waterfalls. For an empire tied up in war, its capitol seemed utterly carefree.

This was Aea-Famau, the city above the waves, and it was only the tip of the iceberg. The spiral up from the water to the palace also continued downward, under the water. Where cities like Terminus and Prenditus spread their borders out wide across the land, Pelagia spread deeper beneath the waves. Throughout the city, there were enclosed, clear-sided tubes spiraling around: daywinds or more properly daigwindeu, named for the way they rapidly pull the occupants to their destinations with water rushing like a strong wind. For visitors to the city unable to breathe underwater, there are covered roadways with a steady supply of oxygen, far slower and far more common in the upper tiers, becoming rare to non-existent in the deepest depths of the city.

The Geamhess circled in, matching the spiral of the city itself. The airways around the palace were clear and this is where the airship was headed. As magnificent as the palace was, it was not the home of the emperor himself. Instead, it was treated as a vacation home of sorts, and at times, the emperor's children would live there to get away from the crushing pressure deep below. A small landing strip came into view behind the high, scalloped walls surrounding the towers.

Gradually and gracefully, the airship slowed and coasted it a near-stop, floating just above the surface. It turned, and two crew members jumped from the vessel, grabbing anchor chains from the edge of the platform, hooking them onto the ship with a gentle click. At last, they had arrived.

[550]

This thread will have a Success Check. Details will be available once the situation evolves.

After you all write your intro turns, I'll bring out the royal family members to better explain what will be going on. If you want to develop some of the main plot in your turns, perhaps include some observations and thoughts of how you expected Pelagia to be in the middle of a war, versus what you're seeing here. You'll also be meeting the emperor himself, soon, to find out what his plans are for you all.
 

MoonlitRain014

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Watching it all, Aeria was quiet. Her ingenarius' eyes moved over the elegant architecture and noted the simple effectiveness of the daigwindeu as they whisked people around with ease and speed. The velen kingdom's center was an impressive place, illustrating the wealth that was possessed by the water-dwellers. The marvels would undoubtedly increase as the slender spurii experienced more of the place.

The other marvel was the smoothness with which the airship was circling and descending. The pilot was undoubtedly a person of great skill and experience because they settled rather like a feather to float just above the mooring area. It couldn't have been easy to land such a gigantic machine with that much finesse. Again the spurii let her violet eyes focus on the design of the docks, seeing how effectively they were meant to hold the airship and allow easy disembarkation.

Once the airship was secure, Aeria made her way from the observation deck down and towards the extendable walkway that would allow her to step from the ship and back to solid earth. Even as she made her way down to the docks, her keen gaze moved around and continued to note all of the design and engineering touches that had gone into Aea-Famau.

[208]
 

Deni Perfide

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Deni was eerily quiet as The Geamhess landed on the surface of Pelagia. Though it was a factor of his mood, it was not simply due to his lack of comfort regarding air travel. How many years had it been since he had set foot or fin on any of the layers of the great underwater city? It must have been near a decade. He had not planned on going back, not after what had happened. Yet there he was. He breathed in and then exhaled slowly.

The velen put a cigarette in his mouth and lit it with a match. His blue eyes scanned the scene for familiar figures. Due to his aversion to air travel, Deni had spent a large portion of the journey hiding away in windowless holds, so he had not seen all that much of Ignis and Aeria.

As if the thought conjured her, Deni sighted the unmistakable short plumage of his business partner and friend. He quickened his pace down the ramp and approached Aeria from behind.

“This your first time in Pelagia?” he asked. After a long drag on his cigarette, he breathed smoke into the air and offered it to the spurii.

[200]
 

Aelflead Kirastes

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The sound of laughter and shrieks of excitement punctuated the sound of the waves that lapped against the sides of the Geamhess, and as background noise to the disembarkation of the rest of the ship's heroes.

These intermittent cries would grow steadily louder as Kirastes, Aelflead emerged from the sparkling ship with the feartu and tiae Mitis and Cordatus in tow. She wore similar attire to what she'd donned the first day down to the long split in the skirt of her dress; though her hair was noticeably less kept up, the ribbons of curls that she'd worn the first day were... Braided, in a way, and decorated with brightly and haphazardly colored paper flowers in contrast to the ornate hair ornaments she'd worn before while a single cowlick dangled at her nose; the spurii's brown arms and cloth wraps around her hands were also painted with the same bright colors as her flowers in haphazard fashion.

The calm and easy smile resting on the woman's face blatantly read "peace" despite the two balls of seeming chaos both jumping up and down around and beside her and leadi-dragging her towards the palace with excitement. And when she tossed her head back over her shoulder to call after the rest of the crew, it came out in her voice as tones from old polished wood rather than the barking that seemed so typical of her speech.

"You lot of igźugar aren't going to sit and wait on the boat all day are ye?"


Well, at least in tone.

Igźugar = A Gina curse essentially meaning, "lazy dipshit" or "useless fool." A combination of the words, "iga" & "dźugar," and literally meaning, "wet trash."
Etymology: A result of the Laicar's history of war and specifically travel over the centuries. Travelers make as much use as humanely possible out of every item they carry with them on their journeys, including garbage as fuel for fire. Wet garbage has no use at all though, since it cannot even be lit for a campfire. As an insult, calling someone igźugar is an urge to get moving, chastising them for wasting time/being useless.

Ergo, Aelflead's being extra talkative due to her improved mood and is quite happily suggesting everyone get going in Gina, with the assumption that little ears won't pick up too much of her vocabulary.
 
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swaswj

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The dozen imperial guards that had joined everyone aboard the Geamhess marched out in two columns, with the two older children of the empire between them. Princess Grace et Neptunum was dressed regally, wearing a sleeveless dress of owl gray that nicely accented her warm pink skin, peach scales, and the coral ribbons atop her head. Her younger sister, Venus et Neptunum, followed shortly behind. Over next to Aelflead, Mitis and Cordatus tried to contain their snickers when Venus came into sight, draped in a shapeless white dress and a hood pulled over her head. Even under the concealing layers, the young woman had a distinct saunter in her step, and her eyes darted around, lingering on some of their own entourage but also sampling their guests once again. Sighting a particular mop of white hair, Venus hmphed and lifted her nose into the air.

With her sister somewhat under control, Grace turned her attention to the guests as they disembarked. Despite her fair form, the princess was strikingly tall, even above the imposing imperial guards that surrounded them. "We gladly welcome you all, brave and noble warriors, to the city of Pelagia, seat of the empire and home to our father, Emperor Thadal et Neptunum," the woman called out with her gentle smile spreading on her cheeks. "You stand upon the uppermost tier of Aea-Famau, the city above the waves. In Medius, we believe the name best translates to the Stage of Welcoming. This is the Palace of Emphaevis, where most of you will be staying if not otherwise engaged. Please, make yourselves at home. Allow the staff to lead the way, and please ask if you require aught. In three hours' time, we shall escort you down beneath the waves and to our father's throne in Taddeuwu-Aunifua."

With a serene bow, the princesses and their guards began heading in to the palace. Spying the younger siblings, Grace leaned over to one guard and whispered instructions. That guard split from the rest, taking up a position where he could watch the young prince and princess without intruding.

Not far off, Keydis remarked aloud, "I'm not one for being talked down to, but she makes it hard to dislike her." The brunette looked much the same as she had when the trip began, with the same armor over her clothing, although the splash of red dye in her up-swept bangs seemed fresh and bright. She had a lengthy item stretched across her shoulders. It was wrapped in a blanket from the ship, held in place by her wrists hooked over it. "You kids have any idea what your dad has planned?"

"Nuh-uh!" Mitis responded immediately.

Cordatus hissed something about manners to her and then tried to assume a more dignified air as he responded, "Father has not… deigned… to te-- to impart his…"

The guard helpfully explained, "Only Feartu Grace has spoken with the Emperor directly. It was also she who offered to convey you and your companions aboard the Geamhess. Else, Terminus had plans to send one of their own ships."

Blushing at the assistance, Cordatus nodded. "Yes, as he says." Mitis giggled and poked him under the ribs.

Keydis smirked. "Hey, if it's secret, then it's probably epic, right?" Spotting her copper-topped companion leaving the ship, Keydis offered Aelflead and the young royals a wave. "Be nice to 'Elfeed.'"


[561/1111]

You're free to describe your rooms or split off into chapters to do your own thing (exploring the upper levels of the city, for instance) for the three hour reprieve. My next GM turn will be when Grace is gathering everyone to head to the Ocean's Throne. Expect that soonish. I just wanted to leave a break in here to allow for some personal things.
 

Inks

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Pretending not to gawp at Aea-Famau’s unique and foreign architecture, at the waterfalls glittering in the warm afternoon sunshine, Red made her way off the Geamhess. The high-altitude sea breeze whipped at her bangs and kicked them back from her forehead, and buffeted the loose canvas jacket she’d thrown over her tanktop. The redhead felt acutely out of place - and out of her depth - here. Surrounding her were a bunch of war heroes or some shit, and those who weren’t here for their heroic deeds were apparently royalty.

Her gaze trailed, briefly, after said disembarking royalty - complete with imperial guard entourage. For a brief moment, she wished she’d been paying attention to some of those etiquette lessons her father had paid for. Maybe she wouldn’t feel so fucking lost? Then she caught the thought and scowled down at her boots. Feeling vaguely frustrated, she looked up again, scanning the crowd for Keydis - only to find the woman making her way over, still grinning from something she’d said.

“So,” said Red as Keydis came within reasonable speaking distance, “what’s next? There’s not gonna be a royal ball this evening, is there? I’m tellin’ ya now, I don’t know how to dance. And I don’t wear dresses.” And then, after a pause, she added, “Or skirts.”




[214 / 214 ]
 

Ignis of Animi

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Ignis emerged from where she'd been napping below the deck in time to see Aelflead interacting with the younger two feartu. This was the happiest and calmest the avian had ever seen the volatile woman, something that intrigued the pale woman enough to pause and watch for a few moments. Her relationship with the spurii was strained at best, making the pure-blood enlil wonder whether things could have been different. This cheerier version of aelflead seemed much more pleasant and likeable. Then again, the cranky spurii might have a soft spot for children.

With a shrug, Ignis moved towards Aeria and Deni, carefully picking her way through the crowd. Past her friends' shoulders, the enlil caught sight of Aea-Famau. The engineer stood still once more, breath catching in her chest. Her eyes traced the way the city spiraled downwards, sinking beneath the waves. Briefly, she imagined a younger version of Deni wandering those curved streets --or had he spent more time beneath the surface?

For a brief moment, the wonder and fascination she used to feel for the world returned. The scenes of circular cities and towers that formed a rising swirl, one that extended into the deep unknowns of the ocean were ones Ignis only knew from books. The stories she'd entertained herself with in childhood were once more coming to life. The nostalgia was quickly washed away by the cold realization that she wasn't here as a tourist nor an adventurer, but to face some unknown threat.

That thought sobered the enlil's expression. Looking away from the beautiful scene, she joined Deni and Aeria, offering each a brief smile.

"Mind if I have a drag?" Ignis asked, gesturing towards Deni's cigarette.

Amicus rustled disapprovingly, but the avian engineer ignored him; she didn't want to sink into panic and survival mode just yet. After everything she'd been through, Ignis' escapist tendencies hadn't gone away so much as changed form.

[320]
 

Valero

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The velen’s shoulders tensed a little at the sound of Ignis’ voice. Deni turned to his companion once his usual grin had recomposed. He pulled the cigarette from between his lips with two fingers and placed it in Ignis’ mouth. His gaze caught a glimpse of the hooded Princess Venus casting the royal equivalent of a glare at Dante. Any opportunity to gain leverage with the Princess had gone to shit thanks to that kinner. Deni could have glared at him as well for that.

‘Don’t waste time praying for a fish with an empty net’, the rogue thought to himself. Another one of his grandfather’s sayings. It was time to look for more opportunities rather than dwell on the one that he had lost.

“Y’know, I never thought I’d come back here,” Deni said absent-mindedly as he and his companions walked towards the exit out of the landing strip. His blue eyes watched the motion of residents travelling down one of the daigwindeu in the distance. “Being back here is surreal.”

After a momentary pause, Deni let out a deep, silent sigh.

“What do you say we hit the city? I didn’t spend too much time up here, but I know a place that does some killer cocktails and a grilled fish bar that works magic with gammarus tails.”

[420]
 

MoonlitRain014

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Aeria's eyes moved across the vaulting, impressive architectural elements that comprised Aea-Famau again. The details and quality of construction were impressively well executed and there was real durability in the way it was engineered. It wasn't some layered confection that merely put up a pretty front but was not able to stand the test of time. Like much that the velen did, it seemed that it was meant to last the ages. After Grace had delivered her message, the small group spread out and moved along behind the guards who were escorting them. Everything was still strange what with all the finery and pomp around them. This didn't stop Aeria from moving with a certain pride and poise in her carriage as they continued on.

Observing the children, a quick smile touched Aeria's lips. In spite of being royal and all that it entailed, they were still just kids with all of the foibles and innocence of any other child. There was also something sadly sheltered about them, a sense that the real harshness of the world hadn't touched them in a way that it might touch a child not born in their circumstances.

One eyebrow flickered up as the lean spurii woman watched Ignis take a cigarette from Deni, but she shrugged and as Deni spoke, flashed a bright smile. "Sure! I'd love to get a guided tour from a proper citizen. I'm also damn hungry. All that refined food on the Geamhess was great but frankly those tails sound way more delicious! I could also use a stiff drink after all the royal formality. Lead on, good sir, lead on."

[480]
 

swaswj

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Keydis took a moment to look Red up and down, smiling before saying, "I don't know, I think you'd look pretty good in a dress." She turned to start following the rest of the crowd into the palace before adding, "You don't have the right panties to be wearing skirts, though."

It was definitely loud enough that others could have heard, but Keydis only smirked as she waited for the inevitable, and probably physical, retort.

Aside from the opulence of the palace, there was something strangely mundane and anticlimactic. Staff swarmed out, leading the guests away by twos or threes, carrying baggage, offering amenities -- food, hot baths, massages, the works -- and all in all treating the whole affair like they were visiting dignitaries rather than heroes and warriors with legacies steeped in blood and iron. Keydis couldn't say that getting the royal treatment was entirely unwelcome, but she came because they were supposed to serve on some secret assignment for the emperor.

She wished they'd get on with it.

Keydis and Red each clung to their own baggage when valets offered to help. A young blue-feathered enlil man greeted them with a deep bow, introducing himself as Bleuatleu. "You're more than welcome to call me just Bleu, or even Blue, as it pleases you." As he led them through immaculate hallways that made the Geamhess look stale and plain, he explained that he had been born and raised in the velen city. According to him, his given name meant 'dashing' in the velen tongue. Keydis had to admit, he was a handsome sort, reminding her of how her uncle looked in his younger days.

"Here's your room, Miss…" Bleu started to say as they stopped at one in a long line of similar doors in the lengthy hallway. There were no numbers outside to identify it, but the sea-shell themed double doors were an iridescent aqua color, while the next rooms to the left and right were the warm gold of sunrise and the deep violet of dusk.

Boldly, Keydis interrupted him to say, "One room is fine."

Without the slightest surprise, Bleu nodded and simply said, "Of course. If there's anything you need, I'll be happy to procure it for you. It will be several hours, yet, before the emperor is ready to receive you."

The room inside was even more extravagant than the hallways. Keydis dropped her baggage and most of her weapons, leaving only Promoveo and a dagger on her hip. Sharing a glance with Red, she turned to Bleu and asked, "What's there to see, top-side? I want to stretch my legs."


As I mentioned, feel free to work in chapters/collabs to fill this gap (I plan to do one myself), but I'm going to go ahead and proceed with the plot, also. This part takes place after the three hours have passed and everyone is gathered together again. If for any reason you think your character would not be there, let me know.

In the great hall of the palace, all four dozen of the elite warriors and heroes sent from Terminus stood lined up in formation, much as they had before boarding the Geamhess. Instead of the princess, an unknown man stood at the fore of the room. He was young, thin, but stunningly tall, head and shoulders above the imposing guards surrounding him. Even Grace, quite tall herself, would have lost out by half a head.

It would be a fair comparison, at least, because there was a strong family resemblance. Like all of the royal family so far, this man had piercing blue eyes. His skin and scales were red but deepening toward violet. The top of his head, though, had pale pink clusters of star-shaped coral. For clothing, the young man wore the uniform of the velen military, decorated with various medals on one breast. There was no armor attached to his uniform, though he did carry a long straight sword at his right hip.

"Welcome to Pelagia. It is my honor to officially extend the invitation to the Ocean's Throne, where you will meet my father, the emperor. I am Tofradeity Caput et Neptunum, First Tiae of the Empire." There was a brief pause, and then the young prince bowed his head. "Now, I have other matters to attend to. Please stay close to your escorts. I will join you in the throne room before the night is over."

Caput turned sharply and speedily walked away. Whispering began among those more familiar with the politics of the situation. The prince was the lead commander of the Empire's military, but was only just turned twenty years old. For him, taking time out to come greet them was probably the worst use of his time.

There was little fanfare while everyone loaded up into several ornate carriages just outside the palace entrance, each fit to hold eight passengers and led by a pair of trained calpa. The black horses had white seaweed manes and curling horns on their foreheads. In the open air, their fur seemed slimy and sickly. Soon enough, the procession of six carriages began moving.

The first carriage was led into a recessed tunnel. It seemed like a dead-end, with just enough room for the carriage itself. The passengers gasped in alarm as the entryway sealed behind them. The side walls of the tunnel were lined with bioluminescent algae, so they were able to see clearly as water rushed into the sealed chamber. It rapidly filled the room, and the passengers realized that the carriages they set in were airtight.

The inner doorway opened, and then they were off. The calpa, so slimy and cloddish in the open air, seemed suddenly to be sparkling thoroughbreds, racing through the flooded tunnel with stunning grace. The enclosed tunnel opened up suddenly, and the passengers could see the city rushing by. Now underwater, they had passed into the next layer of the capitol. Sunlight still filtered through the water -- appropriately, this depth was known as the Sunlight Zone -- and lots of lights filled the city, as well. Aea-Supety, the Farmlands. In every direction, there were crops of all kinds, many of them enclosed in underwater greenhouse structures, basking in the light that reached through the water and supplemented by artificial lights.

Where the carriages traveled, the roadway was enclosed by a wall of bubbles, a unique staple of velen design. There were two kinds, and they were viewing the larger of the two, which formed simple barriers to keep unwanted creatures out or just to denote the separations of property. It was easy enough to force one's way through the bubbles without popping them, even to breathe air inside them in an emergency. They weren't military defenses by any stretch.

Continuing onward and downward, the passengers got to see the entire zone spinning around them. The Farmlands disappeared as they entered into another covered tunnel, passing through the foundations of that tier of Pelagia down to the next. They emerged only moments later but the difference was immediate and stark. Barely any natural light reached here, into the Twilight Zone, but the abundance of artificial light was astounding. Lights and lighted signs, white and yellow, green and blue, bright neon pink and electric purple. This was Aea-Mess, the commercial heart of the city, where all of the major businesses thrived. The Mess was popular among visitors, below the waves but still relatively near the surface.

Their journey continued still, though, each calpa dashing through the water so fast that they were leaving streams of bubbles in their wake. Aea-Mess passed out of view as they slipped into another tunnel lined in green light. They emerged into the final Aea: Aea-Haidioety. Where the Mess had been a tapestry of lights and colors, the Hideaway was dark. No natural light reached into the Midnight Zone, where the rest of Pelagia awaited, and lights in this part of the city were mainly limited to the streets themselves, blips of white light to guide residents to their homes.

In Pelagia, citizens rarely returned home for anything more than sleep. Regardless of the time of day, the Hideaway was dark and quiet, a perfect place for rest after a hard day's work… or a hard night's revelries.

With each layer downward, the city grew wider and wider. They disappeared into another lighted tunnel and came out to their destination, over three kilometers in diameter. Taddeuwu-Aunifua, or the Ocean's Throne, was still not the widest tier of the capitol, either. An immense palace spread out beneath them, its sheer breadth putting the Palace of Emphaevis to shame. Lights lined every tower, every archway, every window, glowing in red, purples, and blues. In some places they lined statues and memorials.

Beyond the palace itself, buildings were kept simple and plain, glowing in simple white and yellow lights. These were government offices and departments, the political heart of Pelagia.

The roadway they followed spiraled down and stopped directly in front of the entrance. All six carriages lined up together, before advancing into a broad, covered antechamber. A wall came down behind them, sealing off the entire chamber, and in an inversion from earlier, water began draining away. Drivers cautioned their passengers not to get out, yet. When the water had drained and the opposite wall slid open, the carriages proceeded up into the palace, straight up to a pair of staggeringly tall doors, easily ten meters high.

Finally, the doors opened, letting the visitors from Terminus out, deep in the heart of Pelagia, on the footstep of the empire's chamber of rule.

If anyone is interested, feel free to describe the Ocean's Throne in more detail. In my next turn, you'll meet the Emperor, do whatever you'd like to prepare.

Referring to that conch shell I showed earlier, this is still one layer above the widest point in the city. It is, however, about 2km below the surface, which means it's very cold (4C/39F), very dark, and your ears probably popped at least once on the way down. To counter that, this layer is filled with artificial lights (magical, technological, and natural bioluminescent plants/algae), and there are numerous heated vents and braziers of slow-burning coals.

Also, expect lots of people to be around dressed in finery.

[1549/2660]
 

Ignis of Animi

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Ignis watched the journey from the surface into the underwater depths of Pelagia through a carriage window with fascination. Her dark eyes attempted to trace the widening layers of the city as they raced past. The speed of their travel made observing much beyond the changing color and quality of the lighting difficult, but it was fascinating nonetheless. She kept her face mere centimeters from the window, her breath making vapor on the glass, until they came to a stop. Not even the popping in her ears could keep the woman from the sight before her.

Sitting back in her seat, the avian woman rubbed at her eyes a bit. She had forgotten to blink. A few teary blinks solved the issue of dry eyes while the passengers waited to be released. In her lap, a bushy creature squirmed impatiently.

Ignis stroked the leafy creature's head a few times to remind him to settle down with little effect. Amicus wasn't a fan of the rapidly moving transport nor of the idea of visiting the ocean's depths. He was a forest spirit meant for woodlands and trees, not endless depths that lacked sunlight. A light hug from his contractor helped sooth his nerves a bit, but not enough to sit still.

Once the doors finally opened, Amicus clambered up onto Ignis' shoulder and gripped onto her purple half cape to secure himself.

A bemused expression on her face, the engineer stood and filed out of the carriage --not the first one out but not the last to exit either.

The enlil, one of Terminus' "heroes", made her way through the small crowd towards the familiar figures of Deni and Aeria. Staying near them helped dull the underlying sense of dread that had begun to build. The splendor, technology, and new sights could only distract from their purpose here so much.

As they approached the throne room, Ignis noticed a distinct lack of heat. It wasn't quite chilly, braziers with glowing coals were placed in key locations. She searched out the area and noted a few vents, likely pumping the room with heat. Still, even with these in place, the temperature wasn't quite warm. In response, the avian fluffed her feathers beneath the dark, basilisk leather cloak ensconcing her body.

Searching for something to say to break the relative quiet, Ignis turned to her companions and remarked, "I feel a bit under dressed. "

[401|721]
 

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