[Ivory Tower] Lifelines

The Kowlani Territories, or the Solarity of Kowloon, is a small suzerain to the galactic south of the Tai Pan empire. Home to dozens of species, it is ruled as a monarchy, and underneath the Lord Empress, Bhelith tu Andes Arleigh, it nevertheless prospers in opposition to its democratic neighbors. Fortunes are made or broken in the wild edges of the Solarity, and the names of those who made or lost them rise and fall with equal severity.
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[Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Wed Feb 20, 2019 7:18 pm

Continued from Veranda

Piyapon Orbit,
Tsunami


"Hey Princess," the brawny, business suited man greeted the young woman, her title spoken more like an affectionate nickname than an honorific. "I'm guessing things didn't go according to plan huh?" the human sympathetically smiled towards her. The two had never met, but the ever friendly Johnathan had a reputation that she instantly knew of. A scoundrel, a womanizer, the Premier of Piyapon, and father of Bhelith's child. "I know you're probably feeling down right now, but I got an offer, and I guess it's now or never, you know?" Johnathan casually sat down on a chair's armrest. It didn't threaten to topple over or creek under his weight however, and it wasn't due to superior engineering either. No, the man was talking to her in a way that only other Taianese could, and it wasn't often that someone other than a fellow Taianese was able speak fluently on the VR channel. However, in those rare instances, they were usually someone that stuck up and out from the crowd.

Her mother would tell her it was someone to be hammered down or be used a useful step up of course. Meanwhile, her father would have told her such a person could be a useful ally and a bridge to another people. But what did she think?

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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Wed Feb 20, 2019 8:15 pm

Like many other Taianese, virtual reality was a refuge for Xiulan. One where she could be given to anykind of fancy, satisfy her every whim or craving without much fear of censure.

The invitation to a virtual chatroom had struck her as odd, but given it had come from the Solarity's chancellor, it was not one she could dismiss out of hand. But now that they faced each other, she realized how awkward this would be. Restraint was not something she was used to having in that realm; she'd been thoroughly schooled at doing so in the real, but here, it felt too much like stiffling herself. Stiffling her passion, her light, her fire. On equal grounds, time was simply not on her side.

She pondered his words, and made her decision. The Taianese princess would be herself, without any gentler veneer. Kowloon's Duchess had erred, and many at court would have had been comfortable with the term 'transgressed' if Xiulan related her interview with them. She wasn't in trouble, they were. So, she would be a dragon - burning, fierce and proud.

"Yes, let us talk," Within this space, her avatar was not entirely fleshed out beyond and abstract silhouette of herself, her head being where she was the most defined. As she moved to a self-conjured chair that was the mirror to Johnathan's, she rendered herself more sharply, donned a simple cheongsam in surreal gradient shades flowing from white to fuschia. "Let us discuss why the meeting I scheduled through you happened to intrude on Her Grace. Let us discuss this strange ambivalent attempt to have me join a cult-like following that would somehow turn me against my family. Let us discuss Her Grace's utter lack of apparent deference to Her Liege, the Immortal Emperor, whom I have come to represent."

Her voice crackled with domineering authority she had not chosen to wield before. "Understand that my purpose here was to serve as liaison, in order to allow the Empire of Tai Pan to better support what had been considered a successful administration of this Suzerainty." She barked out a humorless laugh. "My disappointment at this first interview is outweighted by the responsability I now feel weighting on me: to notify the Taianese imperial court as to how inadequate your leadership appears to be. As a royal princess, trust that my standing - even landless - has the clout sufficient to have the court arrange for a replacement. Drawing such a conclusion so soon during my tenure will not earn me any favors, and may even saddle me with the unenviable task of taking over in the Duchess' stead as well as cope with any subsequent upheaval..." she narrowed her slitted eyes. "but you may trust that I will perform as my duty demands."

Xiulan crossed one bare leg over the other, reclining comfortably in her virtual chair. "But before that, I will allow you to do yours: the unglamorous task of cleaning after your Duchess, giving me a reasonable explanation for my reception and the attitudes I was witness to, and then change my mind in regards to how successful my tenure here can be."
Last edited by Fred on Thu Feb 21, 2019 4:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Wed Feb 20, 2019 9:31 pm

"I hate to say this princess, but she just wasn't looking forward to taking care of another kid," Johnathan admitted, his warmth remaining in the face of the Taianese Dragon's barely contained fury. Like a knight who knew he could 'slay' her, he let the verbal blows roll off his armor. "The idea she's got a little baby girl was a boss fight in and of itself for Bhelith, and I don't think she's excited about round two with the thought of having a teenager around," he explained to her with a shrug that seemed to say 'What can you do?'. Uninvited and unwanted, it made a sort of sense that the irreverent elf would just cram the young woman in anywhere she would fit. "And I'd love to be your outlet and help you relax, but now's not the time." It was honestly hard to tell if there was a bit more meaning to that, but that somehow made the words all the more lively. "Also, I really suggest holding off on trying to oust her now since you're at level one. You gotta get some XP and level up first princess, or else your dad will just look at you funny, which is where I come in," he pointed a thumb at himself.

"Interested? You might even get to make her apologize in that roundabout way of hers later," Johnathan playfully offered to the Taianese Princess.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Thu Feb 21, 2019 8:48 am

Xiulan draped her tail over one armrest, allowing it to lazily dangle as she pondered on his words.

What struck her was how the chancellor had inspired urgency twice. It brought her back to her previous musing; if the vagaries of her interview with the Duchess had been a result of flawed whims, or calculated design. How someone supposedly as competent would have bungled such an encounter to lead Xiulan to suspect disloyalty. How, either way, the leaders of the Solarity would probably deduce she had suspicions.

The Taianese princess then considered the Tsunami's current location in the star system, well within the gravity well of Piyapon. The suzerainty's capital had its defending vessels; if it came to hostilities, Tsunami would be far outmatched and her odds of escape slim. She'd made the possibility of ousting Bhelith obvious, but then, wouldn't that naturally make her loyalists want to solve that problem by nipping it in the bud? Her death wouldn't be inconspicuous, but it would likely be far less trouble than Xiulan returning news that she considered the elven sovereign potentially disloyal. Especially if the Duchess was actually bankrupt of dutiful reverence towards the Immortal Emperor.

Johnathan Izgimmer is here for damage control, she decided. Virtual reality suits him, because if negociations fail, he can easily escalate.

The Taianese princess wondered if she should confront him on the threat she'd perceived, but then decided not to. The Chancellor had likely intervened in the hopes of diffusing a situation before it got out of hand. Killing her was not desired, but it would be done if it was necessary. Appearances would matter... and in case she was overthinking the matter, it was preferable not to give him ideas!

"Chancellor, if my presence here had been for the sole exercise of having the Duchess kiss my feet, I would have brought more warships and more soldiers." Xiulan's gestured offhand to dismiss that possibility and move on with a more patient-sounding: "I will hear out your proposal."
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Thu Feb 21, 2019 11:32 pm

"Yeaaaaah...we kinda figured you were here to cut your teeth and get some experience, not do anything super serious," the man admitted, rubbing the back of his head out of embarrassment. If the both of them really did think she was just here to be taught, or worse, babysat, there was no wonder behind Bhelith's actions. "She's just not enthusiastic Princess, so what I'm suggesting is that you hang out with me to learn the ropes instead," Johnathan offered, pointing a thumb at himself with a smile. "But seriously, time's running out - I gotta figure out if you're coming or not! Otherwise, it'll just be one of the spare spots and not one just for you at the head."

The man clearly had something in mind, but what?
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Fri Feb 22, 2019 10:14 am

Xiulan returned a half-lidded look to the Chancellor. It was going to be sanctimonious of her, but it looked like she needed to set some expectations straight. That she had to accept to guarantee the survival of the Tsunami's crew was a given, if things were truly as bad as she believed. But she had appearances to keep.

"I believe you misunderstand," the Taianese Dragon said. "I am weaned since birth to perform in a diplomatic liaison role. Originally, it was for the Wangdaio colonies; I was repurposed for their spiritual successor, the Solarity of Kowloon. My function here is not trivial, and it should not be judged by the actions of a father seeking boons for his youngest daughter. It should be judged by the imperial sentiment that first and second-class Taianese do not want third-class citizen underfoot; therefore we promote havens such as your province to look after their needs. It is important to the court that this suzerainty succeeds; if you end up like the Wangdaio colonies it will largely be to the detriment of our third-class."

"I am here to walk the line between helping you succeed and also to be the voice of the Empire you are part of," the purple-haired princess stressed. "If you look at me and see inexperience, I say look at me and see the dragon caste at your doorstep offering you her cooperation. After all, inexperience is temporary and the Emperor does not have so many heirs that it would be a small matter that one stand in your presence."

"Besides, the way you frame it, your entourage does not seem to have the whole picture: sending a seasoned liaison could very likely have been framed as insulting... is your territory rife with such unrest and incompetent leadership that it requires a master in the craft?" She arched an eyebrow, letting him chew on that rhetorical challenge a beat before continuing. "No, you do not. You send your best diplomats to deal with precarious international matters; and you cut the teeth of your greener official within the territory because everyone has to start somewhere, as you once have. Eventually, the favor must be passed forward."

"In which case, I will grant you the honor of accepting your offer." She didn't smile, but something like delighted glee flared in her slitted pupils. "You may rejoice, Chancellor! You will now have the priviledge of sharing your wisdom as to how to run your territory. As I rise within the Imperial court, what you will have imparted will positively reflect the pedigree of your own province." She purposely made it hard for him to tell if she claimed that in jest, or if she was actually serious.

Xiulan was actually being sincere, though she derived some amusement from thinking he might not see the boon quite in the same way.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Wed Feb 27, 2019 7:13 pm

Johnathan Izgimmer didn't seem to be a particularly difficult person to read. Though he definitely came off as concerned about something, the man wasn't giving any sign that this was a life or death situation. Rather, this seemed to be more a small concern than something so daunting like trying to assassinate royalty. Then again, when it came to killing, many could be stone cold and indifferent, and Johnathan could have just not cared about putting an end to the young Taianese Dragoness. There was no point in speculating too much, really. However, there was something peculiar about the friendly, familiar way he kept talking to Xiulan - if the word 'Princess' were traded out for 'Kiddo', the effect wouldn't have been too different.

"Well Princess, if you being here is supposed to be something serious, then we've got work to do," he clasped his hands together, rubbing them in anticipation. When Xiulan had mentioned potential rewards, she saw a faint glimmer in his eyes. But, was it greed, amusement, or something else altogether? "Though, honestly? Don't hold all this against Bhelith. The relationship between your pops and her is, well...complicated," Johnathan briefly looked away in thought before smiling again. "After all, she didn't get offed along with the rest of the rebels!" the man pointed out to her with an award winning grin. "Anyways, here's the landing pad," he said, handing over a slip of paper. It wasn't necessary, considering the fact that they were in her virtual reality, but the act had a certain appeal to it with the way the data transferred once she took it from his hand. "I'll meet you there!"

The man didn't bother exiting out the door though, but he didn't just log off and vanish either. Opening a window, he sat on the window sill, shooting the Taianese princess a thumbs up and a smile before leaning back like a diver, his feet the last thing she saw as the man fell from view.

Not too far off, several Shield vessels patrolled space. It was difficult to tell if they were doing so as they always did, or were there specifically because of the ploy the young princess suspected, but one thing was certain. If she attempted to flee now in the Tsunami, there was a reasonable chance of getting away. At these ranges, they'd have to resort to using torpedoes, and those could be fooled. On the other hand, they could have just been patrolling as they were supposed to.

Still. Would the Princess turn and flee, or stay and fight?
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Thu Feb 28, 2019 2:05 pm

Xiulan watched the chancellor make his fanciful exit and then had her eyes turn on to the slip of paper in hand. After making sure she'd recorded the relevant data the virtual object represented the princess made her own exit.

Her perceptions returned to the real, where she had lounged, absentmindedly looking out at the stars. Xiulan's slitted pupils narrowed within bruised purple irises, focusing on her reflection as she considered Johnathan Izgimmer and mentally ticking off what she'd made of him: uncomfortably familiar, disarmingly affable, a tad crude and quite definitely shrewd. The dragon princess' notion of being imperilled did not lessen - she still couldn't excuse a lot of what Bhelith had done on incompetency so it seemed therefore by design - but he'd made it hard for her to not doubt in her own alarmism.

Not that it couldn't still be done, but the scenarios she could envision seemed unlikely if on simple account of their lack of efficiency. While her situation had certainly become convoluted, going downplanet seemed more likely to further her agenda rather than hinder it.

She straightened on the couch. "Mina, arrange for a shuttle to ferry me back to shore," she commanded, transfering the landing coordinates to her handmaiden. "I have business with Kowloon's chancellor."

Her rat-form servant inconspicuously approached. "Will you be donning the same garments?"

Xiulan considered the black formal dress she'd worn to meet Bhelith and shook her head in the negative. "This feels business casual. Let's go with something that matches my hair along with some sharper contrasts."

"At once, Your Highness," Mina bowed.
* * *
The turbulence of atmospheric entry lessened, and once the heat shielding retracted from the shuttle's viewport, Xiulan hazarded a glance out at the planet's cloudscape.With her arrival imminent, she made a last minute check on her fingertails and the flame-like frill at the end of her tail.

She was the Emperor's youngest daughter, and one lesson her mother taught her early was that the Taianese Court did not lack for intrigue. The Taianese left their pacifism behind, the outcome was keenly reflected in the ruling class once the nation's existencial struggles was behind it. When it came to knowing better how the Taianese people ought to prosper, the imperial court at large had little shortage of cutthroat powerplays - some fatal between those that competed the most adamantly. Xiulan was hardly one of those major players, but her mother had played favorites with her, making sure that her youngest baby would have a better chance than most to be the last one standing. Training to survive assassination was suspiciously alike to training to be an assassin. Chief amongst the skills Xiulan learned was an expertise with poisons.

She came unarmed to Piyapon, but only in the way that she did not carry a weapon. Meaning that she needed to be the weapon if it came to that. To bolster that, her fingernail varnish and the wax she'd applied to the sharper edges of her tail's frill was a concoction made from the venom of an Iwoyan hookfish: it was benign enough on skin contact, when ingested or smelled, but if the poison reached the victim's bloodstream it would quickly induce numbing paralysis. A rake of her fingernail, of a rending tailslap would prove more than sufficient to make a proper delivery if matters came to it within the next couple of hours. As for the possibility of misshap, Xiulan had already imbibed the antidote and carried some on her; it wouldn't do to inadvertantly overdose someone by accident and being unable to avert a potential heart attack.

The shuttle made landfall, and once the pilot announced they were secure, she stepped out the open hatch and down the ramp.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Thu Feb 28, 2019 9:26 pm

Piyapon
Soran Nast


Descending from high above, the sprawling city below looked like a blight upon the land, a cancer that slowly spread out into the pristine world, and this wouldn't have been entirely incorrect. The hastily fabricated buildings' drab and utilitarian contours were lit with neon ads who's light seemed to bloom within the rising steam that rose from below. Ground level traffic was congested, while sky-car lanes were relatively clear, a sign of the nation's state in and of itself. Of course, every city had its origins, its reason for being. While many were made to be close to water or the like, Soran Nast was simply the landing point for the battleship that had been gifted to Kowloon. As it originated from the pilot program for battleships, Tai Pan would have scrapped this experimental test bed, but it was deemed more appropriate to gift this to the fledgling nation. And now, here it sat near the mines, foundries and factories that had cropped up to assist with its maintenance as well as the military's, the Shield of Kowloon.

From time to time, ash slowly drifted down on the city like snow, but not on the landing pad nearby the massive ship's side. The field it emanated saw to that.

"Princess! Good to see you!" the tall, brawny man beamed, proudly marching out to meet the princess. A gust of wind briefly buffeted them both though, as the light protective field wasn't perfect, prompting Johnathan to run a hand through his brown hair to brush aside a few strands that had strayed. "There's a lot on the table, but just humor me real quick while we walk!" the man began, holding up both his index fingers for emphasis. "Politically, what do you see here?" he asked, gesturing to the kilometer long battleship. Though they were far enough so that there was ample room for the shuttle to land comfortably, their proximity to the huge vessel made it look more like an armored wall that rose high into the sky than anything else. "Oh, and for maybe a bit more challenge, from Kowloon's and Tai Pan's perspective when it was first gifted," he smiled, waving for her to follow him in.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Tue Mar 05, 2019 8:31 am

Xiulan brushed her hair away from her face as the wind stirred her purple hair and then walked along with the Chancellor, the faint clicks of her sandals being faster than his own footfalls as she matched her speed of his longer strides.

Her reptilian eyes studied the large expanse of armored hull and she reflected on the question. What struck her the most about the scenery was the contrast between the squalor of Soran Nast next to the large warship the city had grown around. Even as a hands-me-down, having a singular Taianese battleship was a huge priviledge... one that was not usually granted outside the Imperial Military, which was only first-class citizens. Kowloon was mostly third-class citizen, lead by an elf that had formerly been an enemy general. Even if the large warship had design flaws, they could be compensated for, enough so to make the vessel a cornerstone of any defensive effort. At its starting point, as long as its upkeep was maintained, it assured the Solarity of Kowloon would not fall prey to banditry.

But if Izgimmer asked, it was because there was a catch. She just couldn't put her finger on why. Bhelith's disdain for her mother cropped in her mind.

"I see a powerful symbol of Taianese might," she answered glibly. One that is a little too good for you. "It is an amazing gift, perhaps even too generous. It would be a priviledge for a first-class citizen to even serve on one; and yet here, a third-class can captain it. It is a lot of power to put in the hands of a former enemy general; a great demonstration of trust."

"Your question implies there is a contrasting view between Tai Pan's and Kowloon's points of view." the return look she gave him under her bangs was cunning. "Of course, I have my first impression with your Duchess to guide me. Have your citizens somehow twisted the symbolism of this gift into a way to demonize Tai Pan at large? What priviledge would they have appreciated instead?"
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Wed Mar 13, 2019 1:12 am

"Weeeeelll..." Johnathan's voice trailed off as the man rubbed the stubble on his chin. His hesitancy implied plenty already.

"The relationship between the Emperor and Bhelith is complicated, and I'd say this ship is actually a kinda decent representation of it," he began, leading the way into the vessel. As the armored doors opened, the two entered, and passing the airlock, the scenery changed quickly. The nearby cargo areas had been stripped of munitions, weapons, reactor fuel and rations, instead housing a vast forest of cubicles between which numerous office workers buzzed. "You see, this ship is a good ship. Very high performance. Lots of energy output, very powerful weapons, even more powerful shields. All the bells and whistles," the Premier praised the ship. Walking deeper in, the civilian support personnel diminished as the numbers of Shield members rose. "Naturally, that comes as a cost - high maintenance. Operational costs per hour are pretty high, since it's tricked out with all sorts of prototype systems that never quiiiiite panned out." Stepping into the lift, he admitted, "Plus, they won't tell us what precisely is in this ship, so we're still finding something new every day. I wouldn't be surprised if it turns into a giant mecha or something at this point," Johnathan then laughed.

Stepping into what looked like his office room, he suddenly stopped and turned around to look Xiulan in the eye.

"It doesn't turn into a giant mecha, does it?" the man asked with complete seriousness.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Wed Mar 13, 2019 6:48 am

Xiulan paused for a moment - just long enough to give herself a VR rehearsal of how she wanted to deliver the answer - before she humored Johnathan's question.

"Many of our smallcraft have transformative properties that help them adapt to multitude of environments," Xiulan soberly informed the Chancellor. "Our Monkey-caste have indeed contemplated the idea of applying the same versatility on a grander scale. Your vessel could possibly be the discontinued Sakamoto-class, a totem battleship exclusively for the use of our Rooster-caste. One of its intended properties was rumored to be a landing mode that transformed the warship's posture into something akin to the rooster bird; its proud skyscraper-tall gilded silhouette meant to inspire imperial pride and prosperity from miles away. From your suspicions, perhaps you have heard of the heated debacle that went on over its head? As I understand it, it was about wether it should remain a sensor tower, or ought to integrate laser cannons for eyes."

She looked up at him indulgently, and brought the narrative she was spinning to a conclusion: "Naturally, the Imperial Court ruled that glaring things to death was an affectation unique to the Dragon-caste. Alas, the design was discontinued before it reached mass production. The Roosters must have been very disappointed."
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Tue Mar 19, 2019 9:23 pm

For a long moment, the man simply stared at Xiulan before turning away.

"That....that would explain a lot actually," he admitted. As he strode over to his office desk, the man pulled out a seat for the Dragoness before reaching up to his neck, loosening his collar and tie before sitting down himself. "A certain Rooster by the same name occasionally sets up shop here periodically. I thought she was an intermediate rank in Taianese society at best, but this suggests something else entirely." Running a hand through his brown hair, Johnathan let out a sigh. "Well, thank you for informing us. I've went ahead and made sure to tell the appropriate individuals involved and - "

"The ship does what?" The doorway had suddenly slid open again to reveal the unmistakable, towering form of an Angel. Halo glowing as her chest heaved, it was obvious that she had sprinted over as quickly as possible, beating her fully sized wings to boost her speed. Stepping into the room, she dispelled her wings in a burst of black feathers which promptly scattered and vanished as they shrunk to a small, vestigial pair on her back. Xiulan knew this woman despite only having met in passing of course. Fate of House Exousia had once served her mother and father as Shaojiàng - or Vice Admiral - of the Auxiliary forces, and due to that, she bowed to the young Dragoness before turning her stoic fire back to Johnathan. "Is this true? It transforms?" Fate asked.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Wed Mar 20, 2019 11:53 am

Xiulan was about to supply something along the line of an exasperated 'Of course not!', but she held her tongue.

Even if you weren't entirely familiar with a ship, Xiulan's statement was an evident falsehood to anyone whom had bothered to even map out the ship; something mechanics would have likely already done, considering how the city first grew around the idea of supporting that ship. Maybe her tease had the chancellor going until the transformation bit, but after a mental double-take he definitely hadn't believed it, only opting to humor her. The Angel could have been the butt of some joke, if Xiulan truly believed someone of her pedigee was that gullible. She didn't.

Therefore, a form of levity and an excuse to introduce someone, Xiulan concluded, returning Fate's bow with an acknowledging nod before she sunk into the chair offered to her. A passing thought had her wonder if Izgimmer was calling her bluff and testing her over it, perhaps to see how she would handle a tease that threatened to go too far. She decided she would not bite, figuring it was better to remain silent and have him figure that one out.

So, instead, she devoted more attention to the burst of feathers as not-so-compact wings shrunk into a more indoor-friendly formfactor. Now that was an interesting trick, especially the part where the props - the drifting feathers - faded away as they sunk to the floor. Replaying the event several times in VR didn't really reveal any particular trick or artifice to it, which means it was likely purely magical.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Tue Mar 26, 2019 3:26 pm

With the Princess's silence, the Premier continued.

"Apparently, it might, according to Her Highness here," Johnathan smiled, gesturing to her with a hand. "Would you like to take a seat?" he offered the towering woman. Looking at the man though, he gave off the faint sense that already knew the answer, but asked anyways. It was polite, and he liked talking with her.

"No thank you, I will stand," came the silver haired Angel's stoic answer. Coming to stand at ease, the rise and fall of her chest quickly fell in line. 'Greetings your majesty. You honor us with your presence,' came Fate's stony words to the young Dragoness, her greeting given in this more Taianese style, lack of emotion included. Though they initially planned to oppose the Taianese during the War of Liang, Angels were ultimately keepers of the peace, and quickly supported them once it became clear that this was the era of the Taianese. Because of this, her father once said that Fate could be trusted.

"No problem. Anyways, on to business," Johnathan adjusted his tie, adopting a much more serious demeanor. Relating the details given to him by the princess in solemn, humorless terms, the Angel stood silent as she listened, occasionally indicating that she was following along in all seriousness as well. It seemed that she hung on to every word that he said, and it soon became clear that this was a matter of utmost importance to a woman who knew nothing but her duty.

"I see," Fate finally replied to the man. "If that will be all Premier?" she asked, her voice stoic yet icy cold with resentment at being toyed with by Johnathan.

"No, not at all," the scoundrel replied in all seriousness. Surprisingly enough, Fate tilted her head back, raising her chin ever so slightly in surprise. By now, the man would have given up the game and burst out laughing or some sort. But for him to continue? "What are your thoughts on briefing Her Highness here in regards to the Eastern Provinces?" he asked her, interlinking his fingers together in thoughtful curiosity. Fate's small, vestigial wings twitched. She wasn't happy.

"I would advise against it. It would be a challenging endeavor," Fate replied, turning her stony gaze to The Princess in turn.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:20 pm

Xiulan didn't sigh. But she could have. Her teasing the Chancellor had backfired, not giving her any favors. She must have practiced this stony stare in a mirror.

"Your Holiness," Xiulan respectfully began, indulging the angel in a very complimentary form of address. "You are but the latest person involved in what is becoming a rather prolongued game of hot potato. The potato being myself."

"In my first day as the Imperial Court's liaison to this province, your Duchess has failed to impress me with her accountability. Your Chancellor has given me-- well, you seem well acquainted with his methods. That leaves you, whom I know - on account of the Immortal Emperor - is a person of great prowess and integrity. I presume that if you had ever shirked challenge, you would never have made Shaojiàng."

"We ask you: is it is truly an honor to meet us?" The Taianese princess questioned. "If it is, we would enjoy being blessed with more than only lip service. Can you show us that our faith House Exousia will not treat us like some hot vegetable is well deserved?"
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Tue Apr 02, 2019 11:15 pm

The young Dragoness earned herself a pair of blinks from the Fate, which considering her stony face, spoke volumes of the woman's surprise at her chosen words.

"Well, can you really blame anyone?" Johnathan defensively raised his hands, pretending to wilt under the Angel's glare before turning his own attention over to Xiulan. "With multiple competing interests kept under check by threat of violence, bribery or so forth, anything can happen, just as your mom wanted, I'm sure!" he exclaimed. Hearing that though, Fate's fury quickly lessened as she closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, tense shoulders slumping, if only for a moment.

"It is indeed an honor to properly meet you your highness, however, I do not wish yourself to be sullied by the rather mortal affairs here," she explained, her stony presence quickly reasserting itself. "However, I understand that you must be acquainted with the world at large sooner or later, and your will cannot be stopped," Fate bowed again as a small smile traced across Johnathan's features. "I will assist you in what ways I can, however limited they may be," the fair Angel pledged herself to the princess. He had a partner to pass the potato with now, after all.

"Well, I suppose she's quite right," the Premier relaxed in his seat, gesturing to one for Fate again. This time however, the Angel did sit, quickly pulled into committing to this cause. "The situation itself is pretty straightforward, but how you'll deal with it is entirely up to you," the man began. "Long story short, Impulse Industries is a new, upstart military corporation dedicated to supplying arms, armor and even some smaller ships to Kowloon, yet has done spectacularly well and gotten a good share of the market. If we're at war, it's happy since it gets to sell us all it's wares," he began to explain. With a wave of a hand, a holographic chart of several hostile powers came into being. The Atraxians were a given of course, and though the Black Army was shattered, its remnants still required care. Meanwhile, the Sutākame were a constant pressure that threatened to abscond with lives. More importantly however, was the looming threat of the Gartagen Union, an old power growing restless. There was one odd one there however. A relatively sharp toothed, yet minor power. "Of course, all of these are rather passive right now and don't look quite as threatening as most military industries would like save for the small nation of Vice. Since Lord Creature Du Rochon raided them for finances, we've been at a state of...well, 'elevated tension', I'd like to say," Johnathan smiled, "Of course - " The man waved his other hand, and another hologram appeared, this time, one charting plummeting sales. " - the agriculture industry lead by Potato Corp has a word of their own though, and doesn't like that they arne't getting to export as much as they used to. This is very problematic since our currency is literally backed by food."

"Could you sort these two out?" he asked the princess politely.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:45 am

Xiulan stopped herself from self-righteously biting into Johnathan when he made his uncomplimentary comment on the Empress. But it made her feel less apologetic for what she planned to do next: "Oh, Chancellor. Assuredly, I could," Xiulan answered him before her eyes narrowed with cunning. "But, should I?"

"As I explained before, I am your liaison to the Imperial Court; the eyes and ears of the Emperor and Empress. I also speak on their behalf," the Taianese princess calmly stated. "So, when you ask me to directly intercede for you in regard to these two corporations, you essentially prop the matter up to the scrutinery of the Imperial Court. I do not believe it is to your advantage to promote the perception that your self-governance struggles to keep its corporations in check to the point that the court need become involved."

She wasn't sure Izgimmer's scenario was genuine, especially when he mentioned that Potato Corp barely a minute after she'd alluded to being tossed around using similar nomenclature just minutes ago, but the Taianese princess saw that as a good opportunity to clarify her position given his apparent plans - if that wasn't just a test - to use her as a proxy. However, I am no one's errand girl. Youth or not, she had the power of her office backing her, and if his roleplaying backed him into a corner that allowed her to make a point that allowed him few avenues for clever evasions, she would take it.

"So, no, they are yours to sort out," she said, clearly turning him down. "In my counseling capacity, I recommend that you run wargames with your military around the contested areas. It allows you a display of force to keep your rivals in check, create demand in your navy that Impulse Industries may find profitable. In the meantime your exercises will secure your trade routes, allowing your 'Potato Corp' room to more safely run their exports." Of course, that would cut in finances, but she wasn't going to educate him on how to generate revenue with how little she actually knew of their economy beyond what he'd just told her.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Tue Apr 16, 2019 11:45 pm

"Aww geeze," Johnathan sighed, leaning back into his chair as he glanced at the ceiling. "We can definitely have them be dealt with, but that's not the point," the man exclaimed, raising his hands towards the heavens in exasperation. "I was hoping to give you an in, and make a splash while you're at it. You know, having a success right off the bat and all that," he explained to her, now scratching his chin in thought. "It'd make Bhelith regret not taking you in under her wing in a hurry, even if she won't admit it," the Premier pointed out to her. "But you don't want to, and I get it princess. You're royalty and all that, and you think it's beneath you. It's just gonna be a real pain getting you established otherwise." The Angel's face was as stoic as ever however, as she instead looked between the two before speaking up herself.

"What alternatives are available to Her Highness then?" Fate questioned him, rigidly sitting in her chair. Though she privately hoped there was something for Xiulan, Johnathan however, didn't seem to happy at the thought.

"The standard fare would be something like a state ball. You know. Dress up all fancy, go do some meet and greets, shmoozing about and all that," he practically harrumphed. Jabbing a thumb at Fate, Johnathan added, "Fate'd likely go along to make sure you're fine, but she won't be putting on a sexy dress or anything like that," the man began to explain his disdain, much to Fate's own judging by her icy cold stare. "Lots of other pretty faces around, but my job is to talk to the sleaze-balls that brought them there." Though he was a politician, it didn't mean he had to like it. "Anyways, it'd be starting at level one, but you game?"
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Fri May 10, 2019 11:16 am

Xiulan seemed to reflect on the question a moment.

There actually wasn't much question that she would agree. But she wanted to give enough pause to seem discerning in Izgimmer's eyes, enough to hold him in suspense of gaining her approval... but not to the point of appearing picky to the winged woman. Xiulan could not tell for sure how forthcoming the Lady Exousia's help was - goodwill or obligation? - but either way the angel seemed like the best supporter she had on Kowloon thus far. It wouldn't do to discourage that.

"Why Chancellor, this does seem like a more actionable course of action," the Taianese finally said. "Liaisons should liaise, and this looks more like a promising beginning towards that." Actually, it wasn't that much the case, but the Dragon Princess was throwing him a bone. A reprieve. A way for him to have her kill time while he marshalled a better idea. He knew her reason for being here and her expectations now, so given time, he should be able to better deal with her.

Which left the matter of Fate. Xiulan turned to her. "I am only passably familliar with the dresscode of Kowlown's military, but I do remember how dashing you looked in formals. Would you be willing to accompany me to said ball?"
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Thu May 16, 2019 5:20 am

"I'm glad you're willing to play ball with us," Johnathan replied to the princess with a smile, reclining a little with honest relief that she had accepted. The amusing image of her slowly sinking into some unnamed ocean's depths while vehemently refusing to use the life ring he tossed to her because it wasn't the right color or something flashed across his mind, but he didn't share that of course. Already, the princess was talking to Fate, which was a good sign. There was someone here that Xiulan seemed totrust, and she would need to put trust in at least one of them here if the relationship between Kowloon and Tai Pan was to remain as stable as possible. There were dark clouds on the horizon after all.

"I will be honored your highness," the angelic soldier replied to the young Dragoness, her words as professional as they always were. However, her stoic gaze soon shifted off the Taianese princess, and back onto the former man of Reservoir. "If I recall correctly, the ball that is currently planned will be featuring several heads of industry from both the agricultural and military-industral sectors?" she asked, quickly shining a little light onto Johnathan's intentions.

"Unfortunately," he shrugged. "But, I think you only need to make a good impression, Princess." Sitting up in his chair again, he explained, "They're major players, so you'll just end up seeing them quite often. Just like you said though, they're not really your worry. Instead, it's acting as a proper Liaison," Johnathan began. "Kowloon's a new country, and right now, that strong feeling of independence from the Wangdaio Colonies is still pretty strong here considering where a lot of folks come from." Memories of the distant worlds making for self-rule, only to soon collapse under forces unknown flicked past their minds. Proud ones. Sad ones. Angry ones. Embarrassed ones and so forth. "Right now, feelings are very mixed and on the fence. But, presenting yourself well and making them want to liaison with Tai Pan will also mean that Kowloon will eventually want to too." He couldn't help but grin. "Who knows? If you do a good job enough, and enough people like you, Bhelith might too. What do you think?"

He didn't say it outright, but Kowloon was a young nation, and she was going to battle for its soul.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Sat Jun 01, 2019 6:47 pm

"What you present does appear promising to Us," Xiulan answered with a tone conveying quiet posivity.

Quiet tolereance was more her actual state of mind: she'd already answered his question, but the Chancellor seemed determined to rub in the idea that being in Bhelith's good graces was desirable. Part of Xiulan still railed at the idea of sucking up to the Duchess - something about her irreverence struck her as dangerous - but she couldn't discount the merit in Izgimmer's words. Going with the flow of his narrative was bound to at least make performing her job easier.

The Taianese princess was essentially allowing herself to be tricked. It was better than being tricked blind, but it didn't strike her as a smart decision. Let's allow the Chancellor think that, and see where this leads.

"We will need the time and location of the upcoming venue, as well as names of those that will attend, with access to what files you can provide on these people so that We may come properly prepared," Xiulan then said, moving the topic forward. "Normally, We would also ask for the dresscode, but We intend to shirk it and to come appearing as We are - a Taianese court princess. We trust there will be no objections."
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:49 pm

At first, Johnathan raised an eyebrow at Xiulan, but he soon gave her a conspirator's knowing smirk.

"Well, I'll be looking forward to seeing you turn some heads Princess," Johnathan replied, already quite amused at the possibilities this young royal would visit. "As for the deets - there!" The spoken wording from the man aside, the manner which she received the information was something all too familiar. As it would at home, the message appeared in her mind as he said it would, and looking at the information on hand, she had some time to prepare as well. "I know I said I hate this kinda stuff, but maybe you'll turn things around," the former Vice-man remarked with a grin.

*****

Kowloon,
Azura Province
Cerulean Crown Resort


"Hold still," Fate's stern voice commanded the young dragoness. In just a few quick, deft movements, the Angel's hands reached out, picking away the tiniest bits of dust, adjusting her hair one final time, and otherwise making sure Xiulan looked her absolute best. Of course, Xiulan always looked her absolute best, be it in the finest gowns or waking up in bed with a head of messy hair. Fate had to have known this, and yet, here she was doing what could only be described as fussing despite her stone cold expression. "This will be a trying night for the both of us, but we will persevere," she spoke, the reassurance unneeded yet uttered anyways. Leading up to this very moment, the signs from the towering, buxom woman were very subtle, but for a true Taianese like Xiulan, easily read. Others would have thought her carved of cold stone, but she knew the truth.

Fate was nervous.

"Introducing Her Royal Highness, Princess Cixi Xiulan of the Empire of Tai Pan, and Admiral Miranda "Fate" Exousia of The Shield of Kowloon!" As the doors swung open, the two were greeted with sights and sounds that most would only ever see in movies and shows. As gentle music played live, people dressed in the most haute of fashion gracefully sipped the most expensive of champagnes or snacked on rare delicacies. Others gossiped or even talked business, their tempo and tones casual and relaxed. But of course, on her entry, all eyes turned to Xiulan and Fate. Out of the crowd, the young princess could already see a few of the names. The local Lord of the Province, an angel like Fate herself. The various heads of powerful corporations, both agricultural and military. And perhaps just as importantly, the people who came with them, their wives. Their sons, their daughters.

"Welcome ladies!" Johnathan pushed through the crowd to greet the two. "I'm glad you to made it. It's not much compared to the Imperial Court, but I hope you'll enjoy yourselves and maybe even make a few friends while you're here," he smiled. Already, Xiulan's presence was creating a stir, nevermind that the tunes and gossip picked up again. Her sharp ears could already tell some of it was all about her.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Thu Jul 25, 2019 11:34 am

In contrast to Fate, Xiulan's enthusiasm for the party was almost gleefully predatory.

She'd come dressed in layers of sheer silks that flowed down her figure. The marine-themed gown bordered scandalousness, its near transparence leaving little of her feminine figure to the imagination, while adhering to propriety in other places with seafoam green and blue dyes. Everything about tonight's garb put bare the physical differences a Taianese dragon boasted; her open-back garment and the updo Mina had coifed for her placed extra emphasis on her slender neck, the mottling of scales going down her back as well as the line of ridge-like fins that descended down her back and ran the length of her tail. Since her hair was swept back into a high ponytail, her horns stood out a little more. Almost claw-like nails similarily stood out with contrasting nail polish.

If given a choice to fit in, or stand out, Xiulan preferred the latter. Rather than follow trends, she would endeavor to make trends. Glorifying what she was seemed like a good first step for that.

One arm encircled Fate's in proprietary fashion. She had claimed Fate as escort with nearly the same kind of fervor a same-sex couple could display. It was a symbiosis; Fate would lend her standing she'd need, while in return she would give much-needed momentum to the other's evening.

"Would you kindly introduce us to tonight's host, Chancellor?" Xiulan asked him with aplomb.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Wed Sep 18, 2019 2:44 am

To say that people were whispering about the young dragon was an understatement. Though they mostly tried to keep it on the down-low, the murmuring visibly spread through the crowd in a wave, with her at the epicenter, and took root like an infectious disease. The vast majority of people here were just that, making Xiulan stand out all the more. Only her fellow Taianese with their genetic perfection or Angels with their heavenly grace could possibly compete, and from the looks of it, they were all trying to follow the trend, not set it as she had just done this instant. They would be talking about this for quite some time, and realizing this, Fate began to dread the next party despite appearing her normal stoic, stony self. Next time, she might have to dress up. Or worse. Wear something more revealing thanks to this princess.

"I would, but I think he'll take care of that himself," Johnathan replied to Xiulan, the corner of his mouth upturned with mischief. As though on cue, the tapping of a glass cut through all the gossip and chatter as Lords and Ladies fell silent, a boyishly handsome man standing atop the stage. Looking over them all, he seemed to already radiate a genuine warmth, but whether or not that was real, or part of being an Angel himself, was hard to say.

"Everyone, thank you for coming," their host began. "Though we have all suffered a great loss with the passing of Lady, we all know that she wouldn't have wanted us to have a formal, stuffy affair or go overboard with the mourning. Or, even mourn for that matter," he smiled. "So instead, let's have a ball - to our dear friend, and the bright future she's left behind for us all. To Lady," the Angelic man beamed at them all. On cue, the crowd excitedly their toast, their celebration neither loud and brassy nor dishonest as far as Xiulan could tell. Despite the slightly somber mood, the Lords and Ladies and business men and women alike all meant it. Looking down from his podium, the host's blue eyes eventually settled on the princess herself before he stepped down and made his way over, brushing his almost messy golden hair back. "I hope I haven't kept you waiting. My name is Raphael Kyriarchía, Lord of this Province," he introduced himself. "I hope you'll excuse me though." Shifting his attention off of Xiulan, the man's gaze abruptly left her, only to fall solely onto Xiulan's partner, Fate, with an unexpected intensity. "Will you join me for a dance tonight?"

"No."

"Are you sure?" the man continued to smile, unabated by the other Angel's stern refusal. "It'd be impolite not to." The moment he said that however, they could faintly hear the buxom Admiral swallow. Fate's stoic gaze turned to Xiulan for direction, while Johnathan himself had taken a seat and was helping himself to an hors d'oeuvre with a broad, smug grin.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Wed Sep 18, 2019 8:39 am

Close to Xiulan's beating heart, feelings flowered there. She identified one, hot and bitter and yet comfortably familiar:

Malice.

After she'd been given a compulsory greeting and with the merest obligatory apology, the winged man had turned his attention - as unerring as an homing missile - toward Fate. By comparison, the Taianese princess felt compared to window dressing.

The Chancellor looked smug to Fate's predicament, but Xiulan felt like reminding him that he had just loosed a piranha in a fishtank. Sweet, vicious vengeance would be hers; If Johnathan wanted a spectacle, she would deliver.

Preparing her best impression of a guileless young noble, she studiously kept the volume of her voice down so that she would only be heard by those within immediate earshot and said: "Forgive me, I thought I came to a ball, not a wake," she paused and then innocently asked: "Who was this 'Lady'? The family dog?"
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Thu Sep 19, 2019 6:20 am

In that moment, the look of boyishly innocent hope that Raphael had towards Fate wilted like a dying flower, the lord's eyes rapidly jumping back to Xiulan from his object of affection like candy torn from a young babe's hands. So utterly vicious was her assault that though a scant beat or two had passed, his angelic glow had faded as though he had just been shot, the handsome man looking nothing more than a terrified and paling mortal.

"Ruth 'Lady' Exousia, my fifth cousin, once removed," Fate's calm, stony-cool voice explained to the young princess, her eyes firmly set on the Lord of Azura. "Not a word," the Admiral began to address her suitor, a knife-hand raised in warning. "Leave us." Watching the man retreat like a shell-shocked soldier fresh from the front lines, gaze distant and numb to everything around him, Fate only let out a small sigh once he was well out of earshot. "Her entire family was killed by terrorists during a reunion, and she was finally killed herself some months ago," the Angelic Admiral explained, looking elsewhere. Motioning with a hand, she soon picked up a martini glass and swiftly downed the contents before having it whisked away just as quickly. When her gaze finally returned to Xiulan, she returned her attention back to Xiulan, not once having any resentment or indignation towards the princess. "You are angry."

Johnathan had turned away, his face having gone a bit red as he forced himself to not laugh, or choke on the cucumber snack.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Thu Sep 19, 2019 8:00 am

Xiulan's expression sobered up when she realized the dept of her faux pas and how she'd inadvertantly affected someone she wanted to retain favor with. She was glad she'd kept her voice down, but even if they had not been overheard, the crowd was sure to have noticed their host's retreat. On the bright side, she did succeed in peeling the suitor off Fate, even though the friendly fire had been unintended.

Someone else whom have been horrified at the result of her verbal barb, but the Taianese princess wasn't. She'd delighted in seeing the man whom had so easily overlooked her being so torn by just a few words on her part. There was power in that. But it was a step back from her actual objectives, and what really smarted was acknowledging the flaw in her discipline. It was no hardship to start conflicts, but that wasn't what she was here for.

I should have had gathered more information, before daring to attack, Xiulan reflected. And it would have been more skillful to deflect the man without using barbs.

The Taianese princess was raised with the understanding that she would make mistakes. No one was so perfect to not ever make mistakes, not even her parents. In such an instance, accountability was more important. The acknowledgment of the mistake made, and the taking responsability for it. And so...

"No. Petty, eager to prove my wit, and dreadfully underinformed." The Dragon princess corrected Fate. She wasn't going to apologize, but it was the closest she'd come to admitting she'd been wrong ...and she didn't have enough self-culpability to hang herself if Fate gave her no rope. Xiulan turned her bruised purple eyes to her escort, and - feeling she at least owed some transparency - said: "Representing a body that is to be reckoned with in a province with unexpected irreverence is proving... challenging."
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Thu Sep 26, 2019 6:36 am

"If it pleases you to know, though I was initially shocked, I have I have not taken offense," the angelic woman replied, her expression as stoic and unrevealing as it usually was. Not that this was an obstacle for the Taianese of course. Xiulan could read the woman well enough, and the sympathetic resignation was clear. However, the crowd's semi-subtle reaction was all too clear. Twisted, half-veiled grins. Wrinkled frowns and furrowed brows. The gossip had began, the people present already splintered into their little cliques even before Xiulan had arrived. Of them, there were two that were nearest. The first was - shockingly enough - a group centered around another Dragon-type woman like herself, face hidden behind a masquerade mask. Meanwhile, the second group seemed to center on a tall, muscular and handsome elvish man that seemed to radiate manly perfection. Both seemed to peer at her from time to time as part of their own little discussions.

"Don't mind him, he's just a total-horn dog for her, though could you blame him?" the Premier quickly earned a scowl from Fate. "Maybe just a quick breather? Something to refresh yourself with princess?" Johnathan's voice smoothly thrust itself into their conversation, a fruity martini held out for Xiulan. 'Well, I'd say Irreverence is a pretty important word,' the Chancellor added, his initiated conversation automatically slowing reality and giving the young princess time to think as he set the pace. 'If you haven't realized it yet, whoever sent you here wasn't sending you to a walk in the park and knew it. So. What now?'
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Thu Sep 26, 2019 8:03 am

Xiulan accepted the proferred glass, letting Jonathan's virtual query stew for the second that was worth. She was not perturbed with the faux pas - she believed she could still make it work - but she wasn't pleased with the lack of information. Enough to let him wait after her for that small digital eternity for taking amusement at her expense.

But only that, since this wasn't a bridge she could afford to burn. Using an augmented reality marker, she outlined the elven man in the second group and answered: "Tell me what there is to know of this man and his entourage."

She would keep tabs on the other Taianese dragon, but now wasn't the time to approach her. For one, the other had not initiated a virtual encounter of her own despite Xiulan being announced. The second was that, at this point in the ball, Xiulan represented a liability to her fellow Taianese. Xiulan determined she would need a few wins to balance the scale before she would approach her kinswoman; and see if she could determine ahead of time if they had conflicting interests (the Imperial Court made a good show of looking united to outsiders, but it did not lack in intrigues).
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Fri Sep 27, 2019 5:46 am

At Xiulan's unspoken question, the young Dragon could see the faint tension of muscles under Fate's face as her expression oh-so-subtly hardened.

'That'd be Tarathiel of Ioengard, the Provincial Governor of Ioengard, naturally,' Johnathan replied, casually munching away at a bit of beef carpaccio in slow motion, the appetizer heretically rolled up and skewered with a toothpick for easy serving. 'He's loyal to Bhelith, and devoted to the people, public order, advancing national industry and all that,' the man added mid-chew. Moving at a snail's pace, the dancers seemed almost surreal as they moved about, skirts flying high, toes getting stepped on, and so forth, while conversations felt like they were captured in a lens. Laughter might as well have been freshly bottled, while the sour looks of those displeased were like images catching people red handed. For the briefest of moments, Xiulan could see the jovial attitude of Tarathiel turn into a faint scowl as the elvish man glanced at her from the corner of his eye.

'He also firmly belongs in the Anti-Empire camp, and strongly believes in racial purity, making him a natural enemy of both yourself and Johnathan given his lineage mixing proclivities,' Fate added, having taken a breath and sighed by this time.

'I was getting to that!' Johnathan's words quickly scurried in. 'I was just trying to figure out how to say it diplomatically.' Whether or not he was referring to his proclivities or the Elvish Lord's disposition however, remained unanswered.
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Fri Sep 27, 2019 12:24 pm

Xiulan handily filed away the fact that Fate was apparently able to join a virtual reality. It made sense that the angelic woman would have obtained an augment to keep up with Taianese while she served the Empire, but she would have thought most angels would be such bodily modifications as beneath them.

But the prospect of meeting the elven lord made her feel like grinning. The poor angelic man she'd chased off had been cruel sport, but the elvish governor felt like someone worth sharpening her claws on.

"He seems to have nicely recovered from that flaming sword through the torso," she commented wryly, referencing a similarily named character from some very old fantasy books. "I want to visit him. But tell me more about his entourage. Who amongst them is actually worth his attention?"
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by CadetNewb » Thu Oct 10, 2019 12:18 am

'Almost everyone,' Johnathan replied, now getting started on another bite-sized snack. Time continued to tick away at a snail's pace as they talked, and it was fortunate that they did, as it gave them a good snap-shot of all the people in question as well. 'This sort of thing is just one way all the people at the top come together after all,' he added. 'Still, I'll just point a few out to you. Easy, medium and hard,' the man offered. 'You can either look at him now, or go back to an earlier snapshot, but either way, follow his gaze when he's having his conversation. Notice who he's talking to?' Doing just as Johnathan suggested, the princess found her own gaze going lower. And lower. Unexpectedly low. Right until her eyes settled on a person of incredibly short stature. There was so much flowing, golden hair that the red elastic couldn't get all of it. Meanwhile, her tail was equally fluffy, and despite not wagging, was held high at attention. She was, by the looks of it, a golden Shih Tzu Jongwu, perhaps just three feet high. Just by looking at her, Xiulan could tell she was the 'Chibi' type. The sort that was very deliberately made to look short and cute.

'That little lady there is Maki Shizue, the head of the local Jongwu Workers Union' Johnathan elaborated, but only a little. He didn't linger on her long. 'Now, if you look to the left of her, you'll see someone walking away from Tarathiel and towards the other Taianese Dragon. The one with black hair and some white highlights?' Like a game of 'Where's Wally', Xiulan found herself following his directions until her eyes settled on someone who could only be described as a young man with a chip on his shoulder. Though he held himself high with pride, the dour and moody feelings he had inside seemed to just seeped out of him, and it was clear that something was driving him on. 'That's Jeffry Fitzroy. Normally, he's quite a womanizer and in a much better mood, but the head of Proper Potato Corp's been rather...unhinged as of late? You might wanna be careful around him.' Of course, the cut of his suit already gave her the feel of an aggressive shark.

'Now, look right back at our friend Tarathiel of Ioengard. Right next to him on his left side? That there's Sara'lana Yolhan, but everybody likes to call her 'Knife Ear' for good reason. She doesn't mind either, if you're on good terms with her,' Johnathan began to finish. Looking at the snowy white haired woman, the first thing that immediately stood out was her nickname's sake. Though a dark skinned elf like Bhelith, her ears were much larger and pointy. However, it quickly became apparent why her nickname was singular and not plural. One of them had been very clearly burned off by laser fire years ago, with that side of her face having also been charred by the intense beam glare. A small, black eye patch was perfectly tailored to that eye socket, and looking down, Xiulan saw her left hand. It was missing a few fingers. Despite her disfigurements, she stayed close to Tarathiel. Not too close, but perhaps close enough that she wanted to be closer, but wouldn't. Not quite yet. 'She's the founder and CEO of 'Light of Lothiriel' - basically, elvish made laser rifles. Interesting stuff.'

'You're probably eager to cut your teeth, and earn respect for the Empire and yourself, so once you're ready, I suggest trying to swing one or two of them away from Tarathiel,' Johnathan suggested, very obviously try to rope the young princess into things. 'It'd be good practice, and at the very least, I'm sure the other Dragon-type would appreciate it.'
Fred
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Re: [Ivory Tower] Lifelines

Post by Fred » Thu Oct 10, 2019 7:01 pm

Xiulan's kohl-red eyes half-closed as she reflected on the possibilities the Chancellor presented.

She set aside Maki Shizue for future reference, but planned nothing for her. Approaching the Dongyu seemed like a low-risk, low-reward endeavor and she had no evidence that the effort would grant her much traction.

Confronting Sara'lana Yolhan also seemed to hold little reward, with the risk of the encounter being too adversarial against two of the Second Children. If her encounter with Bhelith was any indication, the likelyhood was that she would be on the backfoot in such a conversation from the beginning. Until she had a better reason to approach them, it felt unwise to profer herself up for target practice.

Her plan in approaching the Provincial Governor to draw the attention away from him and plant it on one of his entourage died there. She'd wanted to beat him socially, but she didn't see much merit in it anymore. Good thing that this time, I looked before I leaped.

Jeffry Fitzroy, despite his foul mood, seemed like her best prospect. It struck her that this - in a way - brought up the matter of Potato Corps troubles again; the matter Johnathan had presented to her to which she had declined to help. Seeing the distress in the man, it was clear the Chancellor had intended to maneuver her in that direction. The fact that the Head of Potato Corp had just moved away from the gathering Xiulan felt less inclined to approach was fortuitous timing, but she could see - even admire - how well Izgimmer had played her.

But at the moment, resentment seemed like a waste of energy. There were better things to do.

"Feel free to come along, Your Holiness," Xiulan bade Fate and she slipped away from her escorts to walk towards Fitzroy. Fate's presence wasn't unwanted, but the Taianese princess wanted to catch Jeffry Fitzroy before he engaged in another gaggle of revelers. Perhaps Fate would enjoy the reprieve?

Xiulan was tall and her stride - long, carefully elegant, and yet swift while being unhurried - ate up the meters between her and her intended quarry. However, she would not make it in time before the man reached her fellow kinswoman, so, instead, she called to him. "Mister Fitzroy!" Once she gained his notice and stalled him, she slowed her stride to a leisurely stop. She lowered her voice once she was in his immediate vicinity and told him: "I understand exports have proven challenging. Have you been able to muster any support from your fellow guests?"
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