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Broken Gate [R]


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#1 Rocorolo

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 07:45 PM

In the halls of the senate building, a shadow stirred.  It flitted swiftly between the hanging tapestries and elegant archways, its footsteps ringing soft echoes in the empty hallways.

No one was around to hear them.  The Senators and their staff were spread out across their districts, preparing to partake in the evening's celebrations.  The building was patrolled only by the occassional guard whose loud footfalls broadcasted their approach to the shadow, who in turn would fall silent and still as the guard ambled lazily past, dreaming of tonight's feast.

He found the office he was looking for and slipped inside.  They had warned him to watch for traps and so he scanned the room as he brought the door to a close behind him.  It creaked.  Loudly.  The thief winced as the sound echoed through the hall outside.  He nipped over to the senator's desk and pulled a drawer open and dropped something in it and closed it silently.

Someone knocked on the door.  In an instant the thief was out of the window, hanging off the ledge.  He glanced below, expectig to see a conveniently placed wagon filled with hay.  There was none, this was the government district, after all.  He dropped, falling from the second floor window onto the cobbled paving below and landing in a roll that left him sprawled across the road.

"Hey!"

He looked up to see that he had landed in the path of a guard sergeant.  She was staring at him in astonishment, gun slung over one shoulder, wondering what to make of him.  He didn't wait to find out.  He got to his feet; thankfully his legs were unhurt from the fall.  And then he ran.

Abigail Linnen [EvilMikoto] gave chase.

---

Off the coast of Saletor, the Divine Aegis sloop Merry David made its way East to the coastal island of Saletor.  A Senator and his aide stood in quiet discussion at the fo'c's'le, where they could watch the ship's bows part the waves, and where their discussion couldn't be overheard by the ship's complement.

"Remember that the Han consider their royal family to rank just below the gods in the divine order," said Senator Saul Carnicero.  "When we're presented to the Imperial Ambassador you'll be expected to kneel, on both knees, and touch your head to the floor.  I know how it sounds, but they come from a world where gods are a very real part of life.  It's no sign of weakness on our part, and a small price to pay to gratify their egos.  You'll find the best way into a demi-god's good books, and favourable trade deals, is through their egos."

Saul glanced across at his aide and protogé, Maiya Alexandria [EvilSzh].  Despite Saletor being within the Tranquility the island's society was dominated by the Ambassador's palace and its Han inhabitants were very much embedded into the Eastern Empire's culture.  It would be her first sight of the world outside, the world that she was so keen for Tou Mun to strengthen ties with.  This insight would either test her, or strengthen her.

The Merry David was visible from the towers of Saletor Palace.  The guard on watch raised his spear in signal to a guard on the ramparts below.  Mosi had been expecting the notification.  He was sat in his office with the intelligence files for both the Senator and his aide on his desk.  The Senator he was already familiar with; the aide's file he had read and committed to memory.  He dismissed the guard and went to inform his mistress, Gwenyth Amadi [Nikki Peppermint] that they would be arriving soon.



Hidden: Narrative Imperatives... (click to hide/unhide)

Gwenyth prepares to receive her visitors
Abigail chases the thief
The Merry David docks at Saletor

Edited by Rocorolo, 01 October 2008 - 08:47 PM.


#2 Mikoto

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 08:17 PM

Abigail had been patrolling the streets of the government district, not really expecting trouble for most patrol duties were uneventful but alert in any case since alertness had been trained into her for many years. Nevertheless she was surprised when a man dropped down from a window of the Senate building right in front of her. As she tilted her head to one side slightly to consider what to do with him, the thief got to his feet immediately and bolted down the street. Without hesitation Abi gave chase. An innocent person never ran away from a City Guard. Not for the first time she was glad that she wore chainmail and armour which still allowed her speed and agility, in this case allowing her to keep pace with the thief. Abi kept her pace even and steady as she ran, quite sure that eventually he would tire before her and that would be when she'd catch him.

#3 Rocorolo

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 08:47 PM

The thief checked over his shoulder as he ran, and nearly collided with a woman stepping out of a building.  He turned North toward the residential districts, where people had set up tables and bunting out on the streets in preparation for midnight celebrations.  

Another check over his shoulder, and she was still there.  Another guard had joined her, but he was already falling behind.

People were out in force on the next road, carrying all manner of dishes out from their homes to the tables.  There was no way he could blend in, the neighbours would all know each other.  Another check over his shoulder as he barged through the throng, and then he was up on the tables running down their lengths and jumping from one to the next.  She was still following him.  Dressed in chainmail and able to keep pace with him, he wondered what she'd do to him if she caught him.

He decided that he didn't want to find out, and turned east toward the waterfront.  Maybe she could run in chainmail, but hopefully she couldn't swim!

#4 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 10:09 PM

Gwenyth waited patiently while her slavegirl, Eleni, helped her slip out of her simple dress. She waited while the pearl buttons on one side of the deeply slitted emerald dress were undone, then felt the form-fitting dress slide down her legs. She stepped gracefully out of the silken pile of material on the floor.  The soothing breeze off the Jade Sea blew into her suite and caressed her pale skin.

"Now hurry," Gwenyth instructed her slavegirl. "Our visitors will be arriving shortly."

The girl bowed her bald head, the golden scales that covered the tamed demon's body sparkling in the light. As Eleni turned to fetch the luxurious gown and shimmering headpiece that Ambassador Amadi would wear, the woman examined her lithe and toned body in front of the mirror. Even at just over forty years of age the magic of the pixie's gave her youth and beauty. The hundreds of braids that made up her hair were already twisted and pinned into the elegant style that Gwenyth preferred.

In the reflection of the large, ornate mirror attached to the wall in front of her, Gwenyth stared at the backs of her guards...broken demons that were with her constantly. They stood just outside the open doors that led to the private veranda overlooking the sea.

Eleni held up the ornate gold and green gown of the finest materials which was encrusted with precious gems and decorated with intricate embroidery. First the low cut bodice, then the long skirt, and finally the long flowing jacket with nearly floor length sleeves were placed upon the Ambassador.

A knock on the door broke the concentration in the large bedroom suite of the embassy palace. Gwenyth fixed her deep, forest green eyes on the ugly, troll-like man who entered the room upon her command. Her other slave, Mosi, lowered himself to one knee and bowed deeply.

"Rise and tell me what news you have," Gwenyth instructed him.

"Madam," the deformed human said, rising and clasping his hands behind his back, "Senator Carnicero and his aide , Maiya Alexandria, have been sighted approaching...they will arrive at the island shortly."

Gwenyth nodded, sparing a glance to the man who was, despite his hideous appearance, very important to her office as Imperial Ambassador. She had discovered Mosi's hidden intellect and skills beneath his malformed exterior many years ago and had claimed him as her slave and assistant.

"Very well...thank you, Mosi," Gwenyth replied with a nod. "You know what to do to welcome them. I shall receive my guests on the main veranda. Be certain the refreshments are ready as well."

"As always, Madam Ambassador," Mosi replied to his mistress, sneaking a quick glance at Eleni. He loved how her scaly skin shimmered like a light dusting of gold, although the beautiful slavegirl barely gave him a thought.

The deformed man silently left the room to greet the arriving visitors as Eleni finished placing the tall gold and jewled headpiece--shaped like a wide headband--on Gwenyth's head, leaving the upswept braids in the back visible. The female demon accidentally pulled on a braid. Gwenyth's eyes narrowed slightly.

"Have a care...," she cautioned. "You know I dislike punishing you. Today is too important to your goddess Jhaelriia...and the Han Empire. I have no time for discipline."

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 02 October 2008 - 10:41 AM.


#5 szhismine

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Posted 01 October 2008 - 10:48 PM

Maiya nodded as she listened to Senator Carnicero, and smiled at his thinly veiled criticism of the pixies, though she wasn't sure if it was done on purpose or not. Although she maintained an air of calm, she was looking forward to this visit. Tou Mun was diverse, but being in a city with such a strong Eastern influence was a new experience for her. "The only way to figure out how to make peace is to learn more about the Pixie culture, instead of keeping the same centuries-old assumptions about them. Change isn't exclusive to any one civilization," she said quietly.

#6 Mikoto

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 07:26 AM

Abigail kept moving now with the singleminded determination to keep up with the thief and catch him. She followed and copied each of his attempts to evade her, assured in her belief that whatever moves he could do, she could follow. As he headed towards the waterfront she felt herself beginning to tire. While her body had long since adjusted to carrying the weight of weapons and chainmail it was still weight she was carrying that the thief was not. However she could see that he was starting to tire as well.

Abi concentrated harder on keeping an eye on him as they ran through the warehouse district and she now thought about using her knife or her gun to disable him-which would be risky for him because if she hit him it might well be fatal. And she tried to avoid unnecessary killing if she could, she had taken enough lives during battle already. Then without warning she turned around the corner of a warehouse he wasn't there. Abi slowed to a walk and looked around intently, apparently the thief had changed tactics and was now trying to hide from her.

#7 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 10:32 AM

Gwenyth swept her way through the halls of the embassy palace, her long, heavy skirt swishing around her. She held her arms inside the opposite long sleeves, allowing the length of them to hang in front of her. Eleni followed obediently and silently--dressed in a simple silk dress. Her hands were similarly clasped inside her sleeves front of her stomach.

Ahead of the Ambassador, Morax led the way--guarding the front of his mistress. His powerful muscles rippled beneath the fine coat of hair that covered his body. Wearing only the lightest armor over his vital organs, the rest of the bull-headed demon's body was exposed. Gwenyth again marveled at the long horns that curved up from the side of his head, framing the long pony tail hanging down his back. Behind her, the more humanoid looking Jinn followed. Ambassador Amadi didn't need to turn around to know his slightly feline features were fixed in a serious expression.

All around Gwenyth the slaves and soldiers and lower staff of the embassy went about their business efficiently with quiet murmurings. Only those that were of a higher rank were more relaxed and outspoken...going about their daily work. There was a tenseness in the air because of the upcoming meeting between the Imperial Ambassador of the Han royal family and the Senator from Tau Mun. A great deal could be lost or gained today in the coastal trade between the pixie goddess Jhaelriia and the city of Tau Mun--Gwenyth had to decide if she would approve of the Senator's replacement, and if so, could she turn the young woman toward worshiping Jhaelriia. If so, then Jhaelriia's worshippers might gain an advantage in the city.

As Gwenyth reached the room where she would wait until her guests arrived and she could make her entrance, Morax and Jinn spread out and covered each of the two main doors--one that led into the room and the glass one that led to the large balcony--their eyes locked for a moment. Jinn's horizonally-slit eyes communicated quickly with Morax's glowing red ones. They knew their jobs well. Captured and broken by the pixie goddess many years ago, they'd been enchanted to protect the Ambassador with their lives.

Gwenyth sat down to work on some correspondence. Before she had a chance to begin, a small winged creature...a female only 12 inches tall with short, spiky black hair, honey-colored skin, and almond-shaped eyes...alighted on the table. Her wings fluttered briefly before she settled down cross-legged and grinned up at the Ambassador. The sprite bowed her head slightly--more in respect than obedience.

"Ah, Naida, my little spy...you've returned early. Have you found any information of Tau Mun and how the Tranquility is maintained over the city?" Gwenyth asked quietly. She wanted to be able to tell her pixie "sister"--the revered goddess of the Jade Sea, Jhaelriia, some good news about the situation that Naida was investigating.

* * * * *

Mosi watched from the dock as the Merry David approached the island. The short, deformed man tried to stand as tall as he could even with his slightly hunched back and ugly face. He was dressed in the manner of a Han Empire staff member and not a slave...his position would not be mistaken. He watched as the dock workers received the ropes from the sloop in order to tie it securely to the dock. Mosi was mostly aware of the plans of his mistress and his goddess and only wanted to please them by doing his job perfectly so that they would succeed.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 03 October 2008 - 08:15 AM.


#8 Mikoto

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 07:21 PM

It was the faint sound of fast, heavy breathing that eventually alerted Abi to the presence of the thief hiding behind a stack of crates near one of the warehouses. Making as little sound as possible she picked up a piece of wood and proceeded towards the crates. Just as she approached however the thief suddenly bolted and tried to run again. Abi narrowed her eyes slightly then hurled the piece of wood at the thief. Her aim was good, the piece of wood hit him across the back of the head sending him sprawling.

She contained the impulse to laugh as she moved over to the thief and got him in a strong armlock before he could recover his senses and hauled him to his feet. Abigail noticed now that the thief was young, barely mature with unruly black hair. He was quite skinny and she was able to hold him as he struggled. "Stop struggling." She instructed him calmly. "I'm not going to hurt you but you are under arrest for trespassing." Abi nodded in satisfaction as the thief gave up and stopped trying to get free. "Off we go." She commanded and gave him a little nudge, maintaining her armlock as she marched him back through the city to the local jail.

#9 Rocorolo

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 10:22 PM

Saul smiled at Maiya's statement, but as always it was obscured behind the bristles of his moustache.  "You might be discouraged at the amount of changing both sides will need to undertake, Maiya."

Saul hoped his point would be carried by the sight that presented itself to them as the Merry David lowered its sails and dropped anchor.  A barge ferried them to the pier, its sides lined with as many rowers as the David had crewmen.

Mosi was there to greet them at the end of the pier, along with several dozen Imperial guards lining the path up to the palace gate.  A show of power, Maiya supposed, as well as a precaution.  Saul may have retired as a priest, but that was no reason to fear his skill with the blade - even when he wasn't carrying one.

"Mosi!  How kind of you to welcome us," said Saul, clasping the slave's gnarled hand and patting him genially on the shoulder.

"Senator Carnicero.  On behalf of my mistress, I welcome you to Saletor."  Mosi cast an eye upon Maiya, and Saul thought she did well not to show any revulsion.

"Maiya, Mosi here is one of the Empire's finest servants.  Mosi, this is my aide, Maiya Alexandria."

Mosi's lip curled disturbingly in what passed for a smile.  "I've heard much about you, Maiya Alexandria."  He held out his hand for hers, clearly seeking to kiss it.

* * * * *

Corporal Rydel, the district chief, sighed and opened his log book when he saw Sergeant Linnen enter the precinct with her prisoner.  He inked his quill and wrote 'Sgt L' under the column for the arresting officer.  Nearly a third of the entries were attributed to Abi and he had long since stopped writing her full name in.  

Now that they had a guard on the door, Abi let go of the thief's arm and told him to sit on a bench by Corporal Rydel's desk.  The thief complied sullenly, massaging his twisted shoulder as he went.

Abi smiled in satisfaction and approached Rydel's desk.  He was looking up at her expectantly, his quill poised over the 'crime' column.  "Good afternoon, Sergeant.  What'll it be this time?"

#10 szhismine

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Posted 02 October 2008 - 11:13 PM

Maiya gave Mosi a warm smile as she gave him her hand. "And I you. Thank you for welcoming us," she said in a calm tone that she hoped sounded sincere.

#11 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 03 October 2008 - 09:40 AM

Mosi lightly kissed the outstretched hand with a small bow, and then led the visitors from Tau Mun along the pier and through the ranks of the Imperial Guards toward the palace gates. He knew the soldiers must look exotic to the visitors.

Up the grand stone steps and into the palace just long enough to give a glimpse of the oranate Han Empire building, Mosi walked them through the main floor and out onto a large veranda that overlooked the Jade Sea toward the east. The veiw was spectacular and Mosi stole a glance himself. Ambassador Amadi wished to speak to the Tau Mun Senator and his aide in private at first, then there would be a small but lavish reception in their honor--unless the Ambassador did not approve of the Senator's assistant.

"This way, Senator...Miss Alexandria...," Mosi gestured to a small set of steps flanked by large potted trees decorated with small red and gold ornaments that twinkled in the light. The steps led to another balcony. He allowed the two visitors to proceed him then followed discreetly. There was a small table with gold and jeweled goblets filled with sweet water.

Mosi signaled to Morax who was guarding the glass doors to alert the Ambassador. He wondered what Maiya's reaction would be to the bull-headed, fur covered demon.

* * * * *

Gwenyth looked up from her discussion with Naida when Morax cleared his throat. "They've arrived, Mistress," he said with a bow of his horned head.

Jinn automatically came toward them and stood behind Gwenyth. The two demon guards would be the only ones present during this private meeting.

"Very well," the Ambassador replied, standing slowly and gracefully, mostly due to being weighted down by her headpiece and heavy gown. "Naida, please stay," she invited the small sprite. "Hide yourself and listen in."

As she swept out onto the private balcony, Ambassador Amadi held her hands inside her long sleeves. There were very few who were priviledged enough to touch a demi-goddess such as herself. The demon slave guards followed behind and placed themselves unobtrustively in place.

However, Gwenyth presented herself with a cordial smile on her face. The Senator was the closest thing to an ally that the Han Empire had in the Senate...and Gwenyth appreciated his progressive views and his desire to continue the trade with the pixies.

"Senator Carnicero, it's a pleasure to see you once again," the Ambassaor said. "And this must be Maiya Alexandria."

Now to see if the young woman knew how to greet one such as herself, Gwenyth thought...marking this as the girl's first test.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 03 October 2008 - 11:11 AM.


#12 Mikoto

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Posted 04 October 2008 - 07:38 PM

Abigail still wore her satisfied smile as she answered. "Good afternoon Corporal, I caught him trespassing within the Senate building." She paused. "Well, actually I just saw him fall out of one of the windows." She conceeded with a wry smile, but that was proof enough that he had been trespassing in itself then she glanced over at the sullen thief rubbing his shoulder. "And quite the merry chase he lead me on too-all the way down to the warehouses down by the waterfront. Ran from me on sight." She added.

#13 Rocorolo

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Posted 08 October 2008 - 08:56 PM

Rydel leered at the thief.  "And what were you doing in the Senate building, hmm?"  The thief looked back, silent and sullen.  Rydel shrugged and inked in the charge of trespassing, signalling with his free hand to the baillif to take the thief away fro questioning.

The Corporal turned his attention back to Abigail.  "I don't suppose you know what he was up to in the Senate offices?  We can't trust the Senate guards to find out, so I'm going put you on it.  It'll make a change from patrolling the streets, no?  But first, I think you've earned some free time.  Have the rest of hte night off and enjoy the celebrations."

---

Saul sunk to his knees before the ambassador and touched his forehead to the floor.  He had long ago coached himself to do this, placing diplomatic advantage before his pride.  He waited there for the ambassador to bid him rise.  He wondered if and how Maiya's opinion of the Han was changing with what she was seeing and hearing today.

Inside, and just out of earshot of the balcony, the demon Morax huffed in derision as he saw the Tou Mun Senator humble himself.  He felt a calloused hand grab his upper arm.

"That man is a priest," said Mosi.  "Don't underestimate him.  You earn your living and keep our mistress safe."  Morax made no reply other than a scowl as he shook Mosi's hand off, then stepped through the balcony doors and closed them behind him.

#14 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 09:20 AM

As Senator Carnicero responded to her greeting by bowing, Gwenyth nodded approvingly to herself. Then she waited to see how Miss Alexandria would respond. The Ambassador could...and would...easily dismiss her guests should the girl fail to show the proper respect.

However, the rewards for the proper behavoir could be enormous for the Han Empire and the Silver City of Tau Mun...more for her pixie goddes, of course, but her guests had no need to know that. They would benefit as well as possible.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 09 October 2008 - 09:21 AM.


#15 szhismine

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    why must you hurt me in this way Harry...

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 12:28 PM

Maiya easily copied the Senator's bow, and waited quietly to be told to stand. She knew that the first impression she'd give was critical.

#16 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 02:05 PM

The Ambassador paused a moment after Maiya bowed before her...savoring the formality and ritual, as well as pleased that the three of them could now continue their meeting.

"Rise...," Gwenyth said generously, sweeping her arms outward slowly as if embracing the Senator and his aide. "I am most pleased you have come...we have much to discuss before the reception in your honor."

Just then Mosi emerged silently with Eleni...the lightly scaled slavegirl went to kneel next to her mistress. Mosi handed her a goblet for the Ambassador, and then held in his own hands the golden and jeweled goblets of pure water for the visitors should they choose to partake. Maiya had passed her first test and encounter with the Han Empire and one of its demi-gods, Mosi observed silently.

The private balcony was scented with the flowers and greenery of the high bushes surrounding it, leaving only the opening that faced the Jade Sea and its spectacular view. The three had nearly complete privacy, although Gwenyth could sense Naida perched on a high tree branch. The small sprite was silent and thoughtful.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 09 October 2008 - 07:01 PM.


#17 Mikoto

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Posted 09 October 2008 - 03:22 PM

Abigail listened to Rydel and shook her head when he asked if she knew what the thief was doing in the Senate buildings, but smiled slightly when he suggested that she investigate why he was there. Given the thief's current behaviour and lack of co-operation meant it would probably be a challenge. However she liked challenges. "Sounds interesting. He must have been in there for a reason." She remarked, then nodded seriously when Rydel gave her the night off. "Thank you. I appreciate the night off." She said, saluted and left the building and back out onto the street.

#18 Rocorolo

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 02:19 AM

"This is Miss Alexandria's first experience of Han culture, your Grace, and her first encounter with a member of the Imperial Family.  I've been looking for a reason to bring her to meet you for some time.  She shares my enthusiasm for our city's cross-cultural ties, and as my aide she more than makes up for the energy I lack in my old age."

"Always one to find opportunity in dour circumstances, Senator," said Gwenyth before sipping from her goblet.

Saul accepted his goblet from Mosi, tapping the cup with his index finger as he took it as a quiet gesture of thanks.  "Would your Grace like to make a formal complaint regarding the city's celebrations?"

This was the formality that had become the cornerstone of the annual meetings between the Senator and the Ambassador.  Over the years it had become ritual.  Gwenyth made a slight wave of the hand toward Mosi and the steward produced a scroll form which he read the list of grievances to the Senator.  In addition to the evening's planned celebrations there were always the regular list of conflicts, all the way down to the continued existence of the Tranquility in defiance of the Empire's gods.

The mood remained amiable during the reading.  If the Ambassador had any true grievances she would have spoken of them herself beforehand.  Through the Ambassador's formal protests and the Senate's polite but firm refusal to do anything about them, both sides had done all that was neccessary to maintain their principles while allowing the status quo to remain.

Saul glanced at Maiya.  Soon it would be her job to represent the City here.  He still wondered if she were up to the task.  When Mosi finished reading and offered the scroll to the ambassador, Saul handed it on to Maiya.

---

On another balcony Archbishop Miguel Omipon, Governor of Tou Mun, looked out onto the streets of his city from the Divine Aegis headquarters at Southern Rock.  The fortress loomed over the Tou Mun Channel, and from its western facade the Archbishop could watch both the setting sun and the hordes of people in the streets below.

The sun was nearly touching the horizon now.  With the exception of the small portion of civil servants who had formal tasks for the evening, the city had wound to a halt.  Communities all across the peninsula had laid out feasts and dusted of their musical instruments and marked out dance circles wherever there was an open space.  In the Han communities the mood was slightly different; the holiday would be quietly observed as a feast in honour of Jhaelriia, Goddess of the Jade Sea, to whom they all owed their prosperity.

#19 Nikki Peppermint

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 10:38 AM

Once the formalities of the grievances were seen to, Gwenyth began to study the Senator's aide as the three of them briefly spoke of neutral and non-political subjects. In private she felt comfortable enough with Saul to allow herself the pleasure of conversing as acquaintances. So far the Ambassador approved of Maiya enough to allow the planned formal dinner to take place in order to watch the young woman further.  She signaled to Mosi to announce to the staff that they would be coming shortly.

Gwenyth also bid Eleni to rise and be prepared to join behind the small party...the slave girl was the only one the Ambassador allowed to wait on her, once the tamed demon had tasted the food.

"Senator, Miss Alexandria, you will join me for dinner and meet the others," Gwenyth directed with a sweep of her hand.

Jinn and Morax began to move into position on the secluded balcony to guard their mistress.

Edited by Nikki Peppermint, 11 October 2008 - 02:37 PM.


#20 szhismine

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    why must you hurt me in this way Harry...

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Posted 11 October 2008 - 07:40 PM

Maiya listened carefully as the list of grievances was read. It seemed very routine, and there were no indications that anyone was truly upset by the complaints. While the grievances were no doubt genuine on their part, it was as if they were finding complaints for the sake of maintaining conflict. As she was handed the list she arched an eyebrow. If that's the case, she thought, then many of the minor differences can be resolved without much trouble.


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