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Shadow and Flame

Oru
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June 4th, 2015, 3:48 pm #1

The City of Kandaras in Eastern Nabil was a glimmering gem in the sands. Ruled by the tempestuous Sultan Tul'an vi Kandar, it saw prosperity and novelty, though it was lacking in some civic aspects. Law enforcement was a collection of noble sons and daughters in glimmering armor who had a great deal of authority and very little qualms.

The palace was the crown jewel of the city. It was a collection of lattice work and roses, onion topepd spires and grand balconies. Man-made ponds and waterfalls, an oasis among the sands. It was said to be the most beautiful palace in the world, and The Sultan made sure of it.

Raka spat in the sand. Five days. Five long days of healing had gone by, and his back wass till tight and sore, laying down permitted only on his belly, like a snake. He hadn't worn his chain yet, it was still too sensitive. His first attempt failed, though luckily he had done it in the semi-privacy of Hobbs wagon. He was wearing a sleeveless vest jacket that dipped to his knees and was cinched at his waist with his scimitar belt and blade. He still had the headscarf and hood, up and over his hair and horn-nubs. he hoisted himself painfully into the back of the BIrd & Shadow's wagon, ignoring the scowls from the other men.

Jade hummed softly in the wagon as they travelled. Dima's people didn't talk to her. Raka hadn't said anything either, and she had only witnessed him still breathing from a distance. Even after the punishment, days afterwards, he still looked like he was in pain, and she couldn't blame him. Her throat caught near every time she thought about it.

She was lolling on her side, left wing as relaxed as she could manage, but still uncomfortable. The man-handling of it seemed to have just made things worse, lucky her.

Dust would have kicked al their butts, she told herself petulantly. That warranted a smile as she glanced over to Raka pulling himself into the Wagon - and an even wider one for Walker. She hadn't lied. She'd rather have a dinky chain on her ankle then see them hurt again. She hadn't realized how painful it would be to watch... but it had been achingly.

She pushed herself upright, cascades of crimson pouring down her back to blend with the feathers of her wings. Her skin had a sunkissed appearance now, a surprisingly even tan that brought out the green jade of her eyes. She smiled at Raka when he entered.

Jade would ponder the oddity of that later. She remembered hating him not too long ago.

Raka sat carefully on the edge of a bench, and ignored Jade all together, instead addressing Walker for the first time in days. He hadn't been to the wagon since his beating. His eyes were surrounded by dark circles, and he had a faint medicinal smell to him. Still - no painkillers. Gods, he hated Dima. "We'll be within the city walls in an hour. The Master will want you both presentable. Do as he wishes. Please the Sultan. No doubt you will be presented during this evening's welcoming banquet."

The whole game was old hat to Raka. The sultan was terrified of Dima, and strove to please him with banquets upon every return. In exchange, DIma fetched rarities for him, keeping him satisfied and unquestioning. It was disgusting.


((Note for me: Sultan Tul'an vi Kandar of the Eastern Nabil

Jade of Duskrose, Ryvena's Brave. Raka D'janni of the Tanjuri))

Shout out to all those players I miss, and the new friends I make.
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Gigantor
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June 4th, 2015, 4:49 pm #2

The ride to Kandaras was long and somber. Walker kept to Jade's side night and day ready to protect her against any attack. The only time he'd left her side was at dusk when the shadows were highest. The first night of the beating, Walker had risked discovery to secretly check on Aries. He waited for Hobbs to leave and then he dropped in as light as a cat. Raka was still unconscious.

Walker traced a sigil above the wound, there was no magic, it wa purely symbolic as a request for fast health. The Dei Lunathi believed it acted to draw the energy out of the focus fixed to it and that energy helped on a level hardly understood. He saw the man's clothes folded and out away to the side, he remembered the stone and went searching for it. He imagined the punishment for keeping a stone would be far more severe. He found he dull stone and tucked it into a shirt pocket took a last look at Raka and vanished.

He would continue to check on him the same way but never made contact. The only other secret visit he made was to Raka's wagon to return his sword. Walker felt the freedom of keeping his sword wasn't worth the price of Raka receiving another punishment for failure.

With his legs crossed, Walker was meditating, distantly listening to Jade when Raka entered the wagon as if nothing had changed. Walker listened to his instructions and nodded. He knew Jade would also do as Raka asked. He was beginning to feel like one of them. When Raka finished talking Walker held his closed fist over The other man's hand.

Walker: I held on to something for you.

Then dropped Cancer into his palm.

Dima's mood hadn't improved but now he had control again and was using the energy churned up from the anger and put it into studying the scrolls containing the myths of the Zodiac. There had to be more clues or a riddle that he could use. His frustration flowed off him like waves of heat. No one bothered him unless it was completely necessary.

Fiora took over managing Dima's captains. The work was easy, almost automatic. When they weren't off the schedule, the teams knew their roles well. Dima would have it no other way and everyone wanted to keep their magus happy. It gave her time to plot the ways shed torture Raka for casting Jacintha into a dourness. Kandaras would help for dealing with her sister directly, distracting her with shiny metals and fancy training sessions. On her own, she would repay the pain received to the one who caused it.
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Oru
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June 4th, 2015, 5:31 pm #3

Raka looked down at the stone in his handa nd blinked. For the past few days his sleep HAD been so tormented because of the loss of the stone. He thought maybe he had dropped it on the sand while Dima had .... But he had made no motion of finding it. Then he thought he had just dropepd it somewhere, and it was actually goen forever. But no, here it was, in his palm. He slowly wrapped his fingers around it then stuffed it into his pants pocket. The abruptness of the gesture made him grimace.

A hand touched his knee, and a dagger look flew in Jade's direction. He had sat on her side f the wagon, now she was next to him with ahand on his knee. She looked concerned.

"How are you?"

Raka's eye twitched. "Better now." He jerked his head in a nod to Walker. He would hold onto it for now.

Jade removed her hand and Raka felt unsummoned tention leave his shoulders. The of course, she was holding something up in front of his face. 'Here take it. I've saved it, you can have it if it helps." The little pot of salve she'd been given to treat Walker's burns sat in her hands. Behind that she was smiling.

Raka looked from her to Walker then to the pot and then back to her. He let out a 'pfft' kind of noise and shook his head as if this was a bad joke, getting back to his feet to slip out the back of the wagon again. He did not take the pot. Before he stepped down he nodded again to Walker, casting Jade a wary look before dissapearing.

JAde lowered the pot with a frown, biting her bottom lip. She looked at Walker and scowled. 'He's stupid."

Jacintha was in charge of units. Fiora would convey the Master's orders, and Jacintha would be sure they were carried out. The gates of the city rose up to meet them and she shouted for them to be in order, rank and file complete. Raka dropped out of the bird wagon, and with a clench of her jaw she sidled up to him. He cast her a brief look. Then nodded.

JAcintha laughed bitterly. "Done licking your wounds?"

Raka's jaw clenched but he didn't answer. She reached out and took his arm. "Come and see me later, and maybe I can do some licking for you." She leaned down and planted a kiss on his cheek.

Raka scowled and shrugged her off. She laughed and strode off. Her pride had already been wounded. She'd get him back, she knew she would.

Raka watched Jacintha leave and felt some familiar stirrings at her bold grace. He furrowed his brow. Maybe he should go see her. It would get her off his back at least. Ow.

Shout out to all those players I miss, and the new friends I make.
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Gigantor
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June 4th, 2015, 7:58 pm #4

The city of Kandaris met the caravan with fanfare and festival. Jesters flipped and tumbled in acrobatic display down the cobbled steps ahead of the wagons. They threw out candy and copper pieces while elegant women danced like swans and threw out flowers as they pirouetted and streamers were thrown with jumps. Buglers and trumpeters stood on the rooftops and crowds of children and peasantry crowded their walks to watch them as they went.

Dima rolled his eyes and escaped his wagon for his camel and broke away down a side route. He would take the servant quarters up to find the Sultan in the eagle's view, a balcony his sultan had named because it was at the highest point of the castle and had a magnificent view. He made sure to tell Fiora to check with her contacts for information. He needed another lead.

The rest of them were led down the streets, going along a route that went around the city before cutting inwards to the castle. Once inside the palace, well groomed guards marched over to Walker and Jade carrying large pikes. Female attendants appeared around Jade and started pulling her away to be cleaned and prepared.

Walker was grabbed by the shoulder and turned roughly to face the guards. A large broad shouldered man thundered through the guards, he wore a large white cloak draped across his shoulders held together with a golden pin. The man looked like he was made of stone with a deeply lined face and shortly cut, grey hair.

Edgar: I'm the Sultan's head hound. You're to come with me for proper keeling.

He spoke and turned to a short warrior at his side.

Edgar: Get Raka.
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Oru
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June 4th, 2015, 9:06 pm #5

Raka noticed Dima skulk off the back way and a queasy sort of relief fileld him. He walked liesurely beside the wagons as they entered town, stoicly ignoring the clowns and jugglers and dancing women. He always foudn the horns to be obnoxious, and the streets too noisy. He had a scowl on for everyone to see beneath his hood, and people could see the bandages just on the edges of his vestment.

He struggled through the waving children and the people obviously giving him plenty of room. He'd earned his reputation as a demon in this city, and it was clear everyone had heard the rumors.

Jade managed to poke her head out every so often to peer at the buildings, awestruck at their hight and ostentatious decoration. They were as tall as trees and made of stone! They glimered with gold and ivory! SHe smelled spices, heard music and laughing, and she would probably have liked it here under any other circumstances. Her face was alight with an optimistic excitement.

When they reached the palace, however, She and Walker were herded out of the wagon and then quickly and imemdiately separated. She almost put up a struggle - but the people taking her away were full of smiles and they were... well they were friendly looking women, for the most part. There was one matronly one that had her chain - and she looked strong enough to drag Jade out of the air, too. And they smelled very nice.

Jade cast a look over her shoulder as she left towards Walker, silently wishing him luck. Someone started talking to her and she snapped back to attention when she felt someone touch her wings. "Careful! That one hurts." The young woman she addressed looked stricken but only for a moment.

She was very slight, very lovely, and very tan. She had dark hair in ringlets to her shoulders and stood at Jade's chin - speaking a lot for how small she was. "I'll be careful! They are so lovely!" She ran a hand very carefully across a few feathers and the other women giggled. "My name is Shara. I will be your lady." She bowed her head.

Jade blinked. "I'm Jade."

The girls giggled again, and Shara took Jade's arm. "You will look so lovely for the Sultan - you will be an Angel, wait and see!" Jade laughed nervously and allowed herself to be swept away.

Raka was fetched quickly, and made his way to the front, where Walker stood alone with Edgar. He spared the big man a smirk before coming up next to Walker - but far enough away to indicate distance. 'Edgar. You're still ugly." He greeted the big man.

Shout out to all those players I miss, and the new friends I make.
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Gigantor
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June 5th, 2015, 8:03 am #6

The palace was already buzzing with rumours of the riches the Sultan will have to show at the banquet. Dima was amazed at the reasons the man found to celebrate and hold banquets. He was one of those naive sinners that happened to fall upon a near limitless wealth. Still, he was the perfect employer for the magus. All the money, none of the hassle and all that was required was to bring back flashy gifts. Simple.

One positive to a festival was that the hidden routed throughout the palace were completely clear and Dima was able to walk at a rushed pace. The sooner he could get through this excuse for debauchery, the sooner he could get back to his study and to his plans.

The servant halls led him to the throne room where he came out through a hole in the wall behind a column, covered by a gloriously stitched drape. He slid his narrow eyes across the area and when he couldn't find the sultan he continued up to the balcony. He wouldn't be Kandar if he didn't make him walk up every step in the palace to have a conversation with him.

Edgar grunted at Raka.

Edgar: I see you've mastered one or two more words of the common language. Soon you won't sound like s gibbering imp anymore.

The words were harsh but there was a brief smile under the thick grey moustache.

Edgar: I see the snake has found some kind of foreigner he wants whipped into shape? You brought me a scrawny one this time.

He stepped to Walker and looked eye to eye. They were of equal height but the size difference was far away from equal as Edgar was twice as broad across the shoulders and doubly as thick in the chest. He poked Walker in the shoulder but the Dei Lunathi held his ground, until the other man kicked his foot out from under him and helped him to the ground but shoving against his chest. Walker was slammed to the earth with every corner of breath knocked out of him.

Edgar: Tell Dima to send him back, he seems to have difficulty standing.

He laughed and all the men around him laughed too. Walker had stars floating in his eyes and a wicked desire to call Scorpio forth and cut out some payback rattling in his head. But, in the end, there was always the will and with that will he controlled his actions, pooled his emotions and directed the energy. He lay still on the ground and looked up at Edgar.

Edgar: What are you looking at me for?

Walker: Do I have permission to stand?

Edgar: Look at that boys, already asking for permission to stand!

More roars of obnoxious laughter.

Walker: Bloody hell.

He grumbled to himself, squeezed his eyes closed and pictured Jade.
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Oru
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June 5th, 2015, 12:31 pm #7

Raka watched with amused detatchment. He did not dignify Edgar with a response. The man was encourageable with his ragging, and Raka had learned that getting mad at him was just a waste of energy. (Not that it didn't still happen from time to time.)

When Walker remained ont he floor, Raka kicked his foot and gave him a quick nod, jerking his chin out for him to get up.

He looked back at Edgar and spoke inm casual dismissal. "Oh this one has tricks. He doesn't need to be standing to fight back." He smirked. His ribbing would either make it easier orharder on Walker - either way he was sure it would be a benefit to the shadowy man. He patted Walker onthe shoulder as he regained his feet and nodded at Edgar. 'If thats all you wanted, Tubby, I'll be going." He glowered at the rest of them, who laughed, and turned to go.

Shara and the other girls led Jade to a small chamber. Shara took delight in pointing things out and explaining the history behind the palace's architecture. This wing had been built inthe SUltan's Father's time as a guest wing. There were all sorts of hidden passages, but not to fear most of them are locked for good. This isn't going to be her room, but it will be where she is prepared.

Jade found that she liked the serving girl's company,a nd quickly came to hope that she could be a friend here. SHe learned that Shara had worked in the palace all her life, as did her mother and her mother. The Sultan's Harem didn't make use of her because she talked too much. Jade asked what a harem was. She turned all shades of red, much to SHara's amusement when she learned its definition.

This conversation transpired through a thorough bathing process, in which Jade directed them on the proper care of her wings. They collected any feathers in a woven basket at Jade's feet at the end. When Jade said they could just have one Shara looked horrified. "Oh no. You are the Sultans! HE would have to present us with these, or we would be punished for stealing."

Jade felt uncomfortable with that assessment.

--

Sultan Tul'an vi Kandar was garbed in rich purple silks today. His shoes had gold trim and came to dainty points. He reclined out on his vast balcony, overlooking the beauty of his city. He had a purple and gold turban wrapped around his royal head, and three women were draped about him to keep off the morning chill. He was not a fit man, but he was royal, and the more of him there was, the More there was to be worshipped.

He dipped his hands into a bowl of fruit and munched on some of the most delicious dates in the kingdom. They were from his own gardens. When he had heard of the Magus' arrival he became excited! The man always had new treasures to bestow, making the grand nature of his rule that much more unique!

He twirled his third wife's hair in a stubby finger, and repositioned his round middle so that he was siting upright. His fifth wife lolled lazily into his lap. His eight wife took the bowl of fruit and fed him grapes as his liesure.

He had a thin moustache and a patch of hair at the tip of his chin, otherwise he was smooth and clean, and refused to smell of anything but roses. His eyes glimmered with naive mischief, and a selfish sort of self-riteousness that made him the kind og Sultan he was; a negligent one with the only goal to make his rule the prettiest.

Shout out to all those players I miss, and the new friends I make.
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Gigantor
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June 5th, 2015, 7:47 pm #8

Edgar: No, that's not the only reason. Word's been passed to us that this is one of Dima's gifts to the sultan, though I can't see why, so you're suppose to get him cleaned up and take him to the pet room. I just wanted to see how much work I had ahead of myself and I knew you could use the extra exercise.

Walker got to his feet and silently grateful that Taka was there with him. Funny how not such a long time ago he was ready to kill the man, now Aries was one of two people around him that he trusted. He could hear slurs from the other men cutting him down with insults and comments. They were easily ignored. His focus was on Edgar, it was clear everything was decided through him.

Edgar: You whelps should get the hell out of here now. I've had my fun for now but tomorrow morning you're both on the square at sunrise.

The large man turned away and was followed out by his warriors.

Dima came upon his oversized sultan in full gluttony, it made the magus want to puke or spit on the women catering to his every whim. He reminded himself he was overly cranky about losing the Cancer stone. He forced a fake smile on his face as he stepped out on to the patio and spread his arms to greet the sultan.

Dima: Sire, you've prepared such elaborations for my return. I thought I was the one to celebrate you with my gifts?
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Oru
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June 5th, 2015, 8:03 pm #9

Raka listened to Edgar and winced. On the square at dawn. Damnit. Edgar was going to tear into him and withhis back like this, Raka was going to be a very unhappy minion. Scowling at Edgar's back, he jerked his head sideways indicating that Walker should follow. Once they were clear of the men in the square and headed down a quiet servants hallway, Raka spoke. "I'm sure someone picked out clothes for you."

He rolled his shoulders then cast Walker another sidelong glance. "Edgar is an excellent warrior." It wasn't much, but what else do you really say? 'Welcome to your new home'? 'Enjoy your new living quarters, by the way we live on pallates on the floor in tiny rooms in the old ugly part of the palace?" He'd see it for himself soon enough.

Raka led Walker to the room at the end of the hall that was currently open with several people coming in and out. He waved them off with a glare and stood just outside the door. He gestured inside.

Within was a pallate on the floor, a shallow basin for washing by the wall and an archer-slit for a window. If anything, at least it was dark. In the pallate was a collection of rolled fabric. A soft throat-clearing made Raka step back and away into the hall.

It was a youngish lady with pins in her hair and a length of tape looped over her arm. She looked to be only in her early thirties by her face, but a streak of white in her black hair made it hard to tell. She bowed to them. "I am here to fit the Shadow man, Master Demon."

Raka's left eye twitched. "Mid'gha, this is... Er... Scorpio." He threw out the stone's name to give her a hint. She was ignoring his words though, instead giving him a once over look.

"I see you are still favoring anothers' designs over mine."

Raka glanced down at his assortment of trophy pieces that made his ensemble. He grunted, and turned to Walker. "Good luck." Witht hat he went two doors down the hall and threw open his own door. He'd wait for Walker to be ready then take him to the pet room.

Mid'gha called after him, "Be sure to wear what I have left for you, Master demon! The Sultan will notice!" She turned back to Walker and smiled. "Hello. I am Mid'gha, and I am here to dress you. Now what may I call you, Master?"

----

The Sultan clapped his hands in delight to see his Magus. He gently shoved his fifth wife and she stood with a cats grace to stand just behind him, hands on his shoulders. He patted her hand graciously and then clapped once with purpose. Slaves appeared out of the woodwork and provided Dima with a low rising chair and cushion. "Ah, Magus! You have returned safely. The Sun be praised." He waved his hand in such pleased modesty and laughed, his mild corpulence jigglign around the middle. "Nonsense! Your return is more then a reason to celebrate -especially if you have indeed brought me gifts!"

His eyes glimmered greedily and he leaned forward, eyes rapt with curiosity. "Tell me! What treasures await me?"

Shout out to all those players I miss, and the new friends I make.
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Gigantor
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June 8th, 2015, 4:26 am #10

Walker: Please, call me Walker. And you said your name was Mid'gha? You're a seamstress?

He saw the measuring tape and felt foolish for even asking after all her comments about clothes. He looked around his small room and decided to stand still then held his arms out so she could measure him. It was the same pose he'd take when his mother and grandmother insisted he needed new clothes.

Walker: What is your story Mid'gha?

Dima took the offered seat and settled into the pampering of the servants who immediately brought out trays of fruit, figs, nuts and cheeses. Dima picked over and ate an olive or two so that the Sultan wouldn't start making inquiries about his enjoyment of the food. That usually led to the Sultan making an even bigger show and punishing the servants who displeased him. Not that he cared about the servants, but he did enjoy as much quiet as he could get.

After eating a few more morsels he leaned in conspiratorially toward the Sultan.

Dima: I have two very rare gifts for you but one of them comes with some conditions.

He cleared his throat and took a long drink of purple wine that tasted of sweet berries.

Dima: I've found you a winged woman. She is a true beauty to behold with her auburn hair and wings that match. Though she injured one of her wings in her fall, long before we found her I assure you, I was thinking I could heal it during the banquet as a bit of a show.

The magus hated the idea but knew it would play well. Small sacrifices he reminded himself.

Dima: The second gift is the one with conditions. I've found a Dei Lunathi, you know, one of those pale people from that moutainous island no one can get to? Somehow he got off of it and into my care. He's a warrior and the Scorpio stone has responded to him and has taken him as a host. May I remind you of our previous agreement involving the zodiac stones. He's still your gift but he'll be better appreciated in my retinue. You might have already noticed the reputation he and Raka have earned together. The warriors of shadow and flame?

Dima knew damn well the Sultan was already aware. With all of his money, he employed the best spies to keep him informed.

Dima: Scorpio still needs more breaking. He can still be dangerous but he seems attached to the winged woman. I've been using her as leverage to keep him on his best behavior. I'd recommend utilizing that strategy until he's fully under my thumb.
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