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Short Stories of the Principality; Semi-Closed Short Stories about the Principality. Anyone can post as long as they check with me beforehand.
Topic Started: Nov 19 2017, 09:57 PM (436 Views)
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I'm Taking A Break

Behind Her Ironclad Heart

Story Summary: Solo-Closed RP about Veronica Yuki and her lover, Akira Zetsu

Part One

Veronica was spent. It's been one hectic thing after another and there was simply not enough time to unwind. She was done...and she needed to get away from everything.

Departing from Xia with as few Guards as could be spared, she leaves the massive city behind, going back to the town that she loves most dearly. Nothing could beat being home. The smells of Seta's marketplace. The sounds of the crowd going about their business.

Contrary to popular belief, Yukkira wasn't a well-oiled machine. Rather, it was a well-supported super-organism. Each part supported each other, knowing fully that the others would not slack.

To that end, although the punishments are harsh, they are rarely meted out.

As she steps off her personal SUV, she breathes in the air that she only knew as the smell of home. The House was alive with activity as business carried on as usual. Those that noticed her bowed and paid their respects before going on about their business.

"You're finally home," says a voice from the crowd. Veronica didn't need to see her face though to know who it was. She was the only person Veronica told as she drove home. The only person she trusted in-full thereafter her mother, her brother, and the Regents who were her aunts.


Part Two

I frankly don't understand why she likes me. Or why she ever took me under her wing. I will never know why she choose to fast-track me through the ranks of the Imperial Yukkirian Guard. I don't have the guts to ask that question. I will never know what she sees in me either. Quite frankly, I don't know what I see in me.

But she called me, to tell me, she's coming home. And as she hung up the phone, I told my Overseer Council and War Cabinet that I was taking a few days off. This was not the first time; nor do I doubt it will be the last. And they do not know why I do, only that I've never been reprimanded for doing so. And that's all the explanation they're obligated to.

They're big boys and girls. They don't need me to operate.

As she gets out of her SUV, my pulse races just a little. I have to restrain myself, knowing that one false move could mean the end of my career; my life in fact.
But as I welcome her home, and she calls out my name, all my doubts begin to melt away. She doesn't treat anyone else like this, so why would she be against me? I think to myself.

I walk up to her, and she embraces me for what feels like a long moment in time. I can feel the tension melting away from her shoulders, her arms, and her chest. A weight being lifted might've been an understatement.

It was more like, she became normal. In that moment, she transformed. She was not the regal and imposing Crown Princess of the Principality. She was not the Heir Apparent to the Imperial Throne.

She was not even part of the Nobility. As if the titles themselves were like chains that had wrapped around her tightly and became a living tomb.

Instead, as she asked me to come away with her, I can only nod and begin to pick up my luggage off the ground. She helps me load it into the SUV, and I begin to think to myself...

Veronica was just another girl. A sweet and kind individual. Almost like these flowers I brought for her.

Part Three

We were going to our special place. It was in an isolated spot on the coast of the Principality. It was so isolated, that the dirt clearing for the SUVs was little more than a small clearing with a small concrete building.

As the bay door opens to the smell of the sea, wild palm trees, and a rare wild Yukkira that has almost gone extinct, I take a look at her.

She tilts her head slightly, wondering what I was thinking. Her hair falls past her shoulders with a smell like sweet honey. I can tell she's been using my favorite shampoo. Her eyes, although a deep red, beaconed to me to take her hand and never let go.
Not yet, I say restraining myself, the Guards will see. Not that they could do anything. I am the Crown Princess and Heir Apparent to Yukkira. What I do is beholden only to my mother.

And even she doesn't even know half the things that I do.

I think that's the perk for having the Empress as your mother. She might have the time and the ability to keep up with me but because of her obligations, she chooses not to.

Instead, I can be me when I want to be me. And I can be the Crown Princess when I want to be the Crown Princess. In that sense, I guess I was a little harsh on my brother this morning. Because even as I'm not immune to the pressure that builds, I can only imagine how he feels about his responsibilities.

I should apologize later, I think making a mental note for when we get back. But for now, the Guards begin to unload our luggage from the back trunk, and I take my first steps back into a world away from it all.

A clear blue sky welcomes me. One that doesn't shine through the grey industrial smog of Xia too often. Birds, not found anywhere else, sing in the trees and on the beach not far from where we were. She walks up behind me and wraps her arm around my own, and instantly, electric goes up my back.

I look at her...and my breathe catches in my throat. "Akira...the Guards." She's...stunning. I can't remember the last time I really looked at her like this. I can't look away from the way her skin shines in the sunlight. Or how her delicate little hands fit my own.

One of my Guards approach us after she finishes putting our luggage on a small automatic cargo hauler. Bracing myself for what I thought would come next, I inhale...

As the Guard takes off her helmet. Her hair is blonde, cut short into a neat bobby-cut. Her eyes are a piercing grey, and she has a piercing below the lower-right of her lip. She first bows to pay her respects before saying,

"I've dismissed the others to our house on the other side of the clearing and I gave them instructions not to disturb you if they could help it."

I was stunned. Where was the inquiry into Akira and I? Where was the question searching for why we were here? Did she already know?

"I'm sorry but do you...?" I say questioning her in an uncharacteristic manner. I begin to sweat a little thinking it was a dead give-away.

She instead puts her hands up.

"It's not my business to know Princess. Neither is it anyone's but your own. The last few times you did this, I made sure I was the one in command of your escort. Nothing that happens here will walk out with me. Please feel free to-"

Before she finishes her sentence, my hand has left Akira's and instead, I'm tackling this Guard that I didn't even know, who might as well have been my own guardian angel. She is startled, but she slowly returns the warmth. I was on the edge tears; thinking this one place that was truly my own would've been so no longer.

"My Princess, you don't have to do this."

I look her in the eyes, filled with tears, and I tell her from the bottom of my heart,

"Thank you. I don't know your name, but thank you. You don't know how much this place means to me."
She wipes away a rogue tear going down my cheek that got away.

"My name is Naomi Shizuka my Princess. If you must know."

"Please...you can call me Veronica."

"Alright, Veronica. Don't worry about any of this. I was once your age too...I actually don't know how you do it everyday. Handling the affairs of the Principality while still being a girl. To be able to see you let go like this, as one of your Royal Guards, charged with your safety and well-being, it brings joy to my heart and ease to my mind. And although the others aren't allowed to see this, I think they know."

I let go of Naomi and turn to instead, the hand that I left, the head I get to snuggle with, and the eyes that never left me. I reach out for her and she willingly comes. She knows that every choice for now until we leave is her own. For I am not so selfish to covet this little paradise all to myself.

"Where do you want to go?" She asks me.

I run my hand down her cheek, and she clutches it almost jealously. Naomi is gone, and it's just me and her alone with each other.

"Wherever you go," I say in reply.

The sun is a bright light that gives life to everything that it touches out of love and indifference to all that they do. From the most humble of plants to the farmers that grow them. From the pacifistic nations to the Most Glorious Principality of Yukkira. If the sun grows all things then...

I think I've found my sun.

Part Four

She can be so different sometimes. One moment she's taking the lead and the next, she becomes shy and can't figure out how to put one foot in front of the other. It's almost like gazing at the moon and figuring out that the dark side of the moon is actually warmer than the part that we can see, here on Earth.

It's this part of her that I can cherish. When she talks to me as the Crown Princess, she becomes almost cold and all-business. She becomes something to be desired but unattainable; a statue on a pedistal towering ten miles high. She becomes a beacon of hope and a hero for all. She almost becomes divine, in a way. Like if you were privileged to fall under her gaze, you should fall on your knees and sing her praise.

But here, in this place, all that blinding light fades. Her skin, being used to covered in her shining armor, glows white as it's touched by the light. Her hair, normally done in such a way that allows her crown to sit perfectly upon her head, flows freely.

I think I like her without all that make-up. On this beach, under this parasol, with her hand in mine, I wish I could stay like this forever. When she found this place, she told me this small little cove was a little less than perfect. There were no rocks to block the endlessly crashing waves from ruining the peaceful bliss of the still-calm waters. There was no net to keep the sharks and jellyfish from entering. And most importantly...

There was no me. At least back then.

She said that when she first saw me on the training grounds during one of her yearly inspections, that it took all her strength not to call me out. I frankly don't believe that. She's proven to have the patience of a hunting white tiger, the martial prowlness of her grandfather, and the intelligence and instinct of those fabled beasts of yore.

To me back then, she was just a face. Yes, she was the Crown Princess, but I was still a Retainer; not a Noble. I wasn't a life worth living.

I can't believe how stupid I was.

I remember one day, after being assigned to a barracks on the base near Xia, that my Captain told me that I had been specifically requested to conduct special training with a group of high-ranking officers on Imperial Palace grounds. My Captain hated me for that. I was still green, and here was someone already taking a liking to me. It almost made me want to hate myself as well. Why me? I questioned.

Waking up that next morning, I remember biking to the Palace, wondering what I was doing. If I should continue to go through with this or if I should turn back and sleep in. It was a Saturday, and there was nothing scheduled. It'll be okay, I remember thinking, I'll just go and do my best.

It's all I could do.

But she was there, waiting for me. "Rookie! Fall-in!" she shouts, calling me out. And as she called me out, I realized...

I had caught the attention of the Crown Princess herself. Just what did I do?

The answer to that question, even now as she holds me in her arms, I still do not know. But as I find myself doubting her, like the arms around me now, she comforts me and makes all my worries go away. She says she wants to never let me go.

And strange enough, I feel the same. In this place that is our own, away from the world that allowed us to meet, I look at her, and she looks at me.

Such beautiful eyes. Such a tender loving heart. She says she can be strong for the both of us, to which I tell her, "No." She looks at me with worried eyes, and my answer to them rests gently upon her lips.

"I am yours because you are mine. We are strong because of each other."

She pulls me in tighter, and I tug at her closer. And in that moment, I become lost in her embrace. As I know she does in mine.

Part Finale

It's been two weeks. Longer than it should've. But when I get there with her, I can barely bring myself to leave. It's like willingly walking back into a forest full of dangerous beasts without a weapon. Or willingly sleeping on a bed of needles.

Or receiving a thorned-rose.

I love her, but I love my country. I can't be without one or the other. And not even my mother can make me choose.

Right now...if I had to, I've give up my Crown. It's gotten to the point where if I imagine a world without this scarlet red child, I begin to choke. I can't breathe. Almost as if the very Earth itself was disgusted at the very idea of such an existence. Tears begin to well up in my eyes and my heart begins to stop. It's not rational. No...it's not.

But the heart knows what it wants.

I can't do it. If ever, this delicate balance were shattered...everything would fall a part. I look at her with hungry eyes as we sit in the back of the SUV. I need to feel her hand, her cheek, her skin. I don't know if she feels the same. Maybe she has better self-control than me. I don't know. I don't want to know.

All I know is that right now, I want to go back.

As we near the Imperial Palace, a chill goes up my spine as over the radio,

"Veronica. Akira, when you arrive, come and see me in the Gardens."

The Imperial Gardens was a bay of green in a sea of grey. Flower bushes create intricate patterns around a fountain near some benches shaded under large parasols. It's one of my more favorite parts of the Palace. For the most part, it stays segregated from the hustle and bustle native to the inside and front of the Palace.

It would've almost been tranquil if there has been birds singing to the song of the fountain.

As we arrive at the Palace, going through the front gate and parking just off to the left side of the front of the Palace, Naomi says over the radio, "Royal Guards. Disembark and unload. Lord-Commander, Crown Princess, if you could please remain for a moment, I'd like to give my mission report."

It was a simple request. Not one out of the ordinary. Albeit, except to me and Akira. The Guards did not know that we knew Naomi. And really, what I heard Naomi say was "I'd like to speak to you two for a moment before you leave to see the Empress."

She told us it will be alright. Akira hugged Naomi and thanked her.

"Naomi...I don't know how to thank you."

She looks at me straight in the eyes; not an easy thing to do for anyone not in the upper echelons of the Imperial Court. She puts my hand in her hands. They feel firm and strong, like granite.

"Where is that strong-willed Princess I know you to be? You should know better than me that you, of all people, owe someone like me, nothing. I am your humble servant your Majesty. It is both a privilege and an honor to protect and serve you in all that I can."

I cried. It's not everyday that I meet someone as selfless and as thoughtful as her. To only have known her for a meager two weeks is a sin not easily forgiven.

I knew then, how to repay her.

"Stand by me then," I say.

"I beg your pardon Princess?"

"I will tell your Lord-Overseer that from now on, you, and whomever you choose, will directly report to me. You will serve me and advise me, on all that I ask your services of. In return for your service, prove yourselves worthy, and I will make you all Lords and Nobility of Yukkira," I say with a firm and tempered voice.

"If this is the will of Yukkira, I will obey without question. For the nation, our lives are forfeit."

"No Naomi. From now on, your lives are forfeit to no one."

I can feel it. That power that I hold in my hands. The power that when invoked, destroys nations and forges peace. My feet feel more sure, for the ground I step upon is sanctified by my grace. My shoulders roll back and I begin to stand more straight.

My head is held high, as is only my birthright. I am not only the Will of the Most Glorious Principality of Yukkira, the Crown Princess of the Imperial Empress, and Heir Apparent to the Throne.

I am the harbinger of change that will move the Principality forward into the oncoming sun. A light for all to behold. The truth made manifest.

"Veronica..." says a timid voice besides me, "you're almost glowing."

I turn to my beloved and I kiss her, pulling her to me and startling her. No longer will the two halves of me stay separate from one another. For my mother does not rule over two halves of the Principality. She does not rule over two halves of an Imperial Court.

She did not mother two daughters.

Almost as if the stars themselves were aligning, I realized what I must do when I confront my mother.

And as Akira passionately returns my feelings back, I know in my heart that all will be right. Because if she's by my side, I can be both strong and humble. If she is with me, I can be myself, through and through. I know that if Akira choose to love me as I do her, the world might end, the Principality fallen, and my mother and brother taken.

I know that if she's with me when it all falls to pieces, I'll be alright.

Leading her out into the courtyard with Naomi following shortly behind, Naomi shouts,

"All hail to the Empress! May all glory and honor forever be her's! All hail! All hail!"

She repeats it, over and over, until the crowd in front of us are chanting it with her. As it infects those outside the Imperial Palace, the Retainers stop whatever they are doing in order to pay homage to their beloved mother and ruler. As I scan around the courtyard, Imperial Lords and Imperial troops stand in salute. Paper-pushers and servant maids wave frantically hoping I might look upon them. A patrol of Orion-class fighters do a fly-by above the Imperial Palace after noticing the cacophony, causing the crowd to roar their chant even louder.

"It is both an honor and pleasure, my Imperial Highess," says Naomi. The way she said it, she must've had the biggest grin on her face.

"It's not my time," I say. But it's coming. Oh, there's no doubt about it. I start for the Gardens, taking Akira by the hand, having faith that Naomi would follow. Nothing in the world could stop me from becoming who I am.

Fear me world. For I have arrived.

"Hmmm," I muse to my two sisters, Regents Kaori and Orochi, "Do you think it's time that I abdicate?" I can hear them chanting the Imperial Blessing. Normally, the chant can be heard on my birthday or on special occasions, like a declaration or on the eve of a triumphant victory.

But today, I know that praise is not for me.

My sisters look at each other and then back to me. "I'll support your decision," Kaori says, "whatever it might be." Orochi nods in agreement, adding, "Do what you think is best for the Principality, Kirin. We both know what will happen when your daughter takes power."

Do what I think is best, I think to myself. What a perfectly dubious proposal. In the end, I will step-down from the Throne. That is a foregone conclusion. Barring anything bad happening.

The real question is when.

As my daughter approaches, Akira at her side, I stand, as do my sisters. For before us, leading to the table at which we sit, were two lines of Royal Guards, twenty men deep. Standing at attention in ceremonial attire, they stood at attention with war spear standing upright upon the down-trodden path.

But my daughter knows no fear. For as she passes each pair of Guards with her own escort following, they stand stoically like a gateway made of white cotton and sashes of purple.

"I have come as you have requested mother," she says standing a few feet away from the table. She bows, as is proper etiquette. Akira and her escort follow suite.


I begin to walk towards her. Like a mountain lion inspecting a group of deer coming closer. She does not flinch as I walk up to her; neither does Akira.

"Do you love her?"

My daughter was surprisingly, not taken aback. She instead answers subtly by taking Akira's hand and holding it tightly.

I walk up to Akira and ask, "Do you love my daughter?"

She answers firmly, "Yes, my Empress." I can hear it in her voice. She is scared. And yet, her she stands in defiance of me. A brave girl indeed.

I walk back up to my daughter.

"It is against tradition to marry when upon the Throne of Yukkira," I say it matter-of-factly, and let it sit there; watching for any reaction.

My daughter responds, "But it is not against the law."

I bite back saying, "I am the law Veronica. Know your place!"

She shouts back, "I am your daughter!"

And in reply, I say, "And I am your Empress!"

Again, the air hangs with tension. But, my daughter realizes that she will not win this through brute force and she resigns the effort.

Instead, she does exactly what I wanted her to do.

She takes a deep breath and she looks at me with what she thinks are stoic eyes. What I see instead are her worst fears coming to fruition. She looks at Akira, then looking me dead in the eyes, she says,

"Then I relinquish my rights to the Crown. To be your Heir and to the Imperial Court."

I let her declaration sit for a moment, before telling her, "Are you sure this is your decision Veronica? Once you go down this road, you can never come back."

She takes another deep breath and my heart aches for her.

"Mother," she says with tears welling up in her eyes. She looks back at Akira then to me, "I'm sorry but I love her. And if forced to choose, I choose her."

I give up. I throw my arms around both my daughter and Akira, not being able to stand the thought of having to make my daughter choose any longer.

She has proven enough.

"Mom..?" She says confused.

I look at her with tears in my eyes, "I could not have had a more perfect daughter. Emperor's grace I'm so happy for you!"

"Mom...," she says barely holding it together. I can hear her voice breaking, almost as if she weren't expecting this at all. No one there did with exception of Kaori and Orochi who were all smiles.

Walking up to us, I take a step back to let my sisters say what they wished to say.

"Congratulations little one!" Says Kaori tackling Veronica. Veronica's in tears at this point, to the point where she could barely even speak.

"I thought...I was...about to...loose you auntie." She manages to say without ever letting go of Akira's hand.

Orochi confronts Akira. After inspecting her, puts a firm hand on Akira's shoulder, adding, "If you ever do something to hurt my niece. If you're not dead then, you will be."

I can't help but laugh.

In this world we live in, I've come to understand that change could be likened to stumbling upon a stash of hidden treasure. Sometimes, that treasure is composed of gold, silver, and riches beyond your imagination. Sometimes it can be relics; artifacts of a bygone age with significance lost to the testament of time. And other times, it might be old books or scrolls or writings of a sorts that give insight to what those who lived before thought about, lived about, and spoke about. To one person or another, one or more of these treasures might be useless. And truthfully to me, I could care less about such material things.

For today, I've found something I thought could not be found again. Not after I lost him. Today, I celebrate the fact that somehow, some way, my daughter has found happiness in the same way I had once before.

Can you see them Nick? Can you see them? I fervently thought. I hope you can because today, my love, I've found hearts...

made of gold.
Edited by Yukkira, Dec 15 2017, 08:45 PM.
"For the nation, our lives are forfeit."
The Most Glorious Principality of [nation]Yukkira[/nation]

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I'm Taking A Break

Happy Holidays

Story Summary: The fire is burning, the tree is decorated, and the snow is gently falling. Time soldiers on and feelings change. What's next for the Crown Princess and her beloved?

Part One

Veronica sips from a cup of hot cocoa. While gazing out over the balcony of her room at her family's castle at Seta. As the wind runs through her stark black hair, her phone goes off.

Veronica (after picking up the call): "Hello?"

Akira: "Hey Veronica. What're you up to?"

Veronica: "Hey Akira. I'm currently relaxing in my room. Why?"

Akira: "I've been thinking... that I need to talk to you about something."

Veronica: "About what love?"

Akira: "I can't say over the phone. I'd like to talk to you in person."

Veronica: "We can just talk now. And besides, aren't you back in Nioki right now? Helping Auntie Kaori?"

Akira (in person): "Well, I wouldn't say that..."

Veronica turns around to find Akira, wearing a snow-white beanie with about three layers of clothing on, standing behind her. Veronica quickly puts down her cup and embraces her girlfriend.

Veronica (running a hand down Akira's cheek): "What are you doing here?"

Akira: "I came to spend Christmas with you."

Veronica: "But what about Kaori and-"

Akira: "Kaori told me to stop worrying about the Imperial Court. She's having Shika help with the paperwork instead and she wanted to make sure her niece had wonderful Christmas."

Quickly gathering her cup and transmitter, Veronica ushers Akira inside, as the wind picks up, and it becomes cold outside. As she does, she silently thanks her Auntie, counts her blessings, and smiles just a little. Indeed, this will be a wonderful Christmas, she thinks to herself.
"For the nation, our lives are forfeit."
The Most Glorious Principality of [nation]Yukkira[/nation]

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Loz Sanguine

A day had passed since Marcus had arrived in the Principality of Yukkira from the Empire of Lozinak. He considered himself a well traveled man, but he had never been to a nation like Yukkira, or a city like Seta. The ancient cities of the Empire were grand in their own right, but the lights, and sounds, and smells of this foreign land were entirely new to Marcus, and he loved it.

He had spent most of his first day at the Inn picking the brains of the staff for the do's and don'ts of a tourist to the Principality. What he learned was thus: Do eat the food, Don’t break the law. These were easy enough things to abide by, and so he went to lunch. Raw fish and rice were the local flavor, not what Marcus had expected, but surprisingly delicious. After a tour, and a quick trip to the beach Marcus went gratefully to bed. Tonight however he planned on living.

Marcus had known little about Yukkira before he came, but one thing that had been told of was the nightlife, and was for that he was here. In the Empire he would watch dimmed lights and slow darkness signaled the day’s end. Here however it seemed to him that cities did battle with the dark. As the sun went down the lights of Seta only grew brighter and brighter. Marcus was ready. His appearance, and mannerisms pegged him as a foreigner immediately, but he planned to use that to his advantage. With his best foot forward he set out into the Seta nightlife.

If he thought the city had been busy during the day, it was nothing compared to the city at night. Whole streets that had been closed during the day were now alive with activity. Street vendors, entertainers, and people were everywhere. As he observed the beautiful crush of humanity he knew this was what he was here for. In front of him was the fabled nightclub that had been the inspiration for this trip, The Golden Lotus. He could not read the name, but on the wall and door was the namesake plant. His approach was interrupted however by the bouncer who in a broken accent said "No foreigners." Marcus used every word of the native tongue he to try and convince that man that he was no mere tourist. Despite his best efforts however, the answer was always the same. "No foreigners." Defeated, Marcus began to leave, but as he turned around he nearly walked into a woman who had approached from behind. She was native, extravagantly dressed, and with quite the entourage. He stood for moment before he realized he was starring. As he looked quickly at the ground the woman chuckled, and spoke to the bouncer. He could not understand what was said, but he could understand the command "with me" from the woman.

He could feel people staring as they entered the Golden Lotus, but as he scanned the crowd it became apparent that it was not him they were staring at, but his gracious host. They moved through the parting crowd towards the back of the club, and into a private where she bayed him sit.

"Where are you from?" She asked Marcus.

"The Empire...of Lozinak that is. On the Southern Coast of Meterra" His response was clumsy, as he was still in shock at his situation.

"And what is your name?"

"Marcus Walwood, Equestrian rank."

"You're a horse?" The woman asked with a laugh.

"Not quite" Marcus chuckled. "I suppose elsewhere I would be called a Knight."

"Ah, of Noble blood?" She asked quizzically.

"Yes, of a sort. A hair below the great families, but noble enough in our own right." William said proudly.

"And what brings you here Knight?" The woman said with healthy sarcasm.

"I've heard Yukkira has a nightlife like no other, and so far it is not disappointing, but I must ask, who might you be that has been so generous to me?"

She laughed quietly, "you may call me Kirin, or Empress if you like."

Given the laugh let out by the Empress, Marcus realized his jaw must have been on the floor. He had only ever met his own Emperor once at a state dinner. The sheer realization that he was now at a nightclub with the Empress of Yukkira was dumbfounding.

"Empress...I..." Marcus began

"Please, Kirin, and don't lose your tongue now, there is much I would like to know about you and your homeland."

"Of course Kirin, whatever you would like to know I'd be happy to answer." Marcus said desperately trying to regain his composure.

"Very good." Kirin said, but we have all night to get to that. She waved her hand and a retainer brought over food and drink. "Pleasure now, business later Marcus the Horse Knight."

"That sounds wonderful" Marcus said as he slammed a shot to his good fortune. "Kanpai!"
Edited by Loz, Feb 9 2018, 12:25 AM.

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I was a General for the Ruskan Army a while back, maybe 2 or 3 years ago. But after the Ruskan Civil War, I decided to leave Ruskaland, For a better life in another nation.
The Choices were limited, and it seemed like the only nation I could live in was The Principality of Yukkira.

And let me tell you, traveling to another country in Ruskaland, isn't worth it. First, you would have to pay alot. And I mean, alot of Ruziska's. If you want to know how much, it's 800 Ruziska's.

Luckily, Since I was a general for the Ruskan Army. I only had to pay half of what it originally cost.
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"You're saying it's hopeless, that I should hope less
Heaven can help us, well maybe she might
You say it's beyond us, what is beyond us
Let's see and decide..."

[title]The Son. My Brother. The Prince. Part I[/title]

"Pick it up Arima! The stopwatch is ticking!" Berates the drill instructor.

Running. Jumping. Climbing. This damn obstacle course is a bore. I'm first in the lead with just a few of the more promising recruits keeping up. Sweat is dripping down my back and pooling where it forms. If one were to take a pair of scissors to it, my shirt could transform into a tank-top. I can only imagine what I smell like. Miira would testify for roses.

"A friendly reminder that the last five recruits caught finishing last get to continue running the course until I feel like instructing you to stop!"

"And no one gets a freebie," I murmur to myself. Unfortunately, the instructor can read my damn thoughts, and says, "Arima! If you're going to speak, you better speak up! So that we can all hear you!" I repeat what I say, albeit louder so that everyone within earshot can hear it. There is a noticeable pace shift for several recruits lagging. I can hear their footsteps pound the pavement. Like sledgehammers.

Or their defeat.

Alas, I finish, with the nearest recruit lagging 30 seconds behind. And yet,

"Arima! You're 2.5 seconds short of your last run! I should make you do the course over again! And have you flogged to immortalize your impudence!"

That was the line.

"If you're so damn good, why don't you show them how it's done!" I rebuke.

My voice, without restraint, had raised in volume, so that not just the recruits nearby could hear, but everyone on the field.

"Could you repeat that again, Prince Arima?" Says the instructor. Slowly. Carefully. Like a lone roaming spider, eyeing its prey from a distance slowly closing.

"Apologies, ma'am," I say loud enough for those close enough to hear. She presses further,

"REPEAT THAT AGAIN PRINCE ARIMA!?" She's asserting dominance. "This is all an act," I think to myself. I need to keep repeating this phrase. In my head. One time. Ten times. A hundred times. A thousand times.

I need to walk away.


I walk away. Trying to moderate my pace. Knowing that for just those few moments, the eyes of the world were focused upon us. The tabloids will get this leaked. The Court will smother it up. And tonight, I need to walk away. Like how she does. Except instead of two weeks, I get one night. And unlike her, there is no bed for me. No eyes to stare at me in the dark. No beach to walk on that's soft or calming.

Tonight, there is no rest for the wicked.

I'm here, at the normal spot, drowning in what could be construed as guilt. It's not exactly guilt. But it feels like guilt. And what's weighing on me isn't responsibility. It's inheritance. An inheritance I was born with and had no say in. Lo and behold, I'm not the only one. Nonchalantly, she walks through the door at the front of the pub. A few faces turn and salute. A few more bow respectfully before returning to their conversations. No one is obligated to do anything. No law says "Thou Shall Bow Before Her Grace."

But they do it anyways. Because they care. They wouldn't do it otherwise. And very few people could ever command the fabled Prince currently sitting at the bar. Fabled being a joke. One thoroughly sold to the retainers wholesale and without remorse or thought.

Did you know fables might be lies shrouded in gold?

"Bourbon please," she says to the bartender. I do nothing. Not like I need to. Freedom of choice. Something I frankly don't have despite having every entitlement to it.

"You know it's all just an act, right?" She says to me.

Of course it is. It's all part of the show. One, big, scripted play. Every act has its comics, it's protagonists, antagonists, and playwrights. The damn thing never ends.

"Arima…" she says searching for acknowledgment.

I can feel her eyes on me. More specifically, I can imagine they're searching for me. Because technically, I'm not Arima right now. I'm just some guy getting drunk in a pub in the middle of the night.

Finally finding some sort of resolve from the bottom of the glass, I look up.

"My, my, to what do I owe the pleasure of the Empress coming to talk to little ol' me?" I say while throwing one back. I motion to the bartender when I catch his attention. More boroshi. The hard stuff. I catch him pausing for a moment, probably debating on whether or not to just hand me the gourd instead of pouring yet another drink for me.

"Arima," she says, again searching my face for something; I don't know what.

"It's my own **** up. My apologies, I'll be fine in the morning Mom," I say, trying to wave her off. She doesn't budge.

"You know you can walk away from all of this right?" She says.

In our garden, there's a carrot rooted in the ground that really isn't there. Kind of like how they say "hope is fleeting" or that "faith is the belief of something that exists in non-existence." The bartender puts the gourd on the counter. Pretending not to understand what was being said, he moves in such a way where he motions towards an open private booth in the corner. My mother thanks him. And he continues to pretend as if he were deaf.

"You know fully well that I can't," I reply. As those words leave my mouth, they feel empty and full. I don't know how. But try to imagine feeling like if you flew up, you'd fly down in the same motion. If I looked left, I would instead see what's on my right.

"And why not?" says another voice. This time, I look up immediately.

"Isn't there some sort of regulation against us three being seen together in public without some sort of protection?" Not that I cared. But I'm pretty sure there was a rule somewhere or something. However, considering that the rules and regulation of the Principality aren't just plastered to the walls, I won't be answering my own question anytime soon.

Ignoring me completely, she flags down the bartender. "Chardonnay please. With your angus mini's and garlic mushroom poppers," she says to him.

"Respectfully," he begins, looking between his newest customer and my mother, "not that it really matters, but are you all on his tab?" He says referring to me. "Whatever makes it easier for you," replies my mother. "Thank you ma'am," he acknowledges before turning to our party's latest arrival, "I'll get your order in after I serve their drinks," he says while motion towards the end of counter.

"When they're finished, can you put their tab on his as well?" says the newcomer.

She always turns something simple into something complicated; I swear. I wave my hand dismissively and he does as he needs little more from me.

"Hey Reggie," beckons my mother to the bartender. He looks our way for a moment, as my mother adds, "You know the drill." He nods in acknowledgment and continues on with what he was doing.

"Because I care. About you two. About our country. About it's future," I say to her to answer her earlier question.

"You know Arima, the Principality got along just fine before you came along," says my sister.

"And it will do so long after we leave."

"You don't actually know that," I say while throwing another back.

"Does it really matter?" Chimes in my mother. "We're all just people Arima. We just choose to do more."

"Did you really have a choice in the matter Mom?" I say eyeing her. She nods while beginning to nurse her cup of bourbon.

"I still have a choice," she says while throwing a glance towards my sister, "And so does she."

"So why doesn't it feel like I have a choice?" I question back. My sister and mother both shrug. Because the answer to that question is really only something I would know. It's an answer all of us would know in pertinence to ourselves and only ourselves.

"Arima… I'm sorry about today… I overstepped again." I can't tell if she's also feeling what I'm feeling. Or if she's just trying to guilt-trip me.

"It's okay," I lie.

"No it's not damn it. You're my brother. My older brother," she says chugging her glass of wine down without taking a bite out of the food steaming in front of her.

"We're just under so much pressure you know?" She says searching for some sort of empathy from me.

"Believe me sis, I understand completely," I say trying to reassure her that I was okay despite the exact opposite being true.

"I wish I hadn't ever said yes to your offer," she says beginning to greedily dig into her burger. My mother, seemingly oblivious to my sister's blubbering, was enjoying herself some french fries while watching the game currently playing. The Nioki Arsenal, their football team, was squaring off against South Nioki United; their sister team and rival. Some northerners would call the sport "soccer," which confuses me sometimes.

"I wish you were the Heir still," she continues. She continues to stuff her burger into her mouth after downing her second glass. It had barely been five minutes.

"Veronica…" I begin to try to reassure her, but the words failed to appear.

"I'm sorry for stealing away Akira from you."

"Veronica," I respond sternly; just loud enough to try and snap her out of it. Looking up at me, I can see tears forming in her eyes. Like the surface of a lake were forming. Or clouds tuning from white to grey.

"You need to stop okay? I will not and never will hold anything against you. You're my sister for Emperor's sake."

She nods while holding back her tears. And frankly, I don't know why she's even at this point right now. She has everything. She's first in line to the Throne. She's, for all intents and purposes, my mother's proxy. She has the perfect girlfriend who, despite knowing the social norms, decided to stand by my sister instead of abandon her. She commands the authority of the IYG by her own efforts and can make a deal with even the most reluctant of foes.

She is the envy of all of Yukkira, with those who meet her outside of the higher echelons of the Court, practically singing her praise.

She has the perfect life that I freely gave up to her. Because I knew that as my mother's keeper, I could do more by serving with less distinction. By being selfless and becoming self-effacing. I knew this when I had made this arrangement before we were even teens.

To shun the spotlight at such an early age was nothing short of crazy. My own mother couldn't even accept it until we got older and my sister's phenomenal potential began to show. It was unprecedented and an entirely progressive ideal in its own right.

Old grandpa Kodo did not like the idea at all.

"Arima is your firstborn! Therefore, he should be your Heir!" I remember him saying to my mother.

"So what if he was born first dad?! My daughter has shown such amazing potential, that if Arima, by his own hand, wishes for his sister to inherit the Throne, then there's no reason for me not to consider his decision!" She would answer back.

"Arima's just a child! He doesn't know what he's saying!" My grandfather would point out.

"How dare you! My son knows exactly what he's saying! Maybe he doesn't understand the implications of what his decision, but a child will want what a child will want!"

"Oh I agree," says my grandfather sarcastically, "Look where that got you."

"I hate this family!" My mother would screech.

"No, my child," grandpa Kodo would go on, "You just hate to do what is necessary to ensure the continuation of our traditions."

"As long as I still draw breath, should you ever declare your daughter as your Heir, I will use all of my influence to ensure that such a notion never comes about. We honor our ancestors by honoring our traditions. You wanting to go against it is a dishonor and a disgrace; purposely spitting upon their graves."

"Why did you ever take me back dad?" My mother would question him. Probing him to find more old chinks in his armor. Grandpa Kodo would always shake his head in a disappointing manner, saying,

"Because by tradition, you are my Heir. I have no other children, so I have little choice in the matter."

The argument continues onward thereafter. Because that part about gramps having no choice is a white lie in and of itself. He did have a choice. He always had a choice. But because of a perceived barrier, he only saw one way forward as the right way forward. Kind of like me. I have choices that I can make. But for the greater good of others, I have none and only one.

Like my grandfather before me, I choose to sacrifice myself in order to ensure a better future for all. I am my sister's living shield, guardian, and protector. At least, whenever I don the uniform. Tonight, I am just Arima Yuki. Sitting next to my sister, Veronica Yuki, and my mother, Kirin Yuki. We are a simple family of three sitting at a pub somewhere in downtown Seta, enjoying the live music; drinking to our untold faults, mistakes, and half-secret regrets.

I am my mother's son. My sister's brother. My country's beloved Prince. Sitting here with this uncounted cup of boroshi, the gourd sits almost empty against the warm-cold surface of the counter.

And life continues onward around us; paying us little indifference.
Edited by Yukkira, May 28 2018, 04:22 AM.
"For the nation, our lives are forfeit."
The Most Glorious Principality of [nation]Yukkira[/nation]

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"I'm trying to save us, you don't wanna save us
You blame human nature and say it's unkind
Let's make up our own minds, we got our whole lives
Let's see and decide..."

[title]The Son. My Brother. The Prince. Part II[/title]

Where we last left off, Arima was at his favorite bar in downtown Seta, drinking with his sister and mother...

Two cups. Four cups. Five cups in. I actually can't recall how many I've had. My mother and sister have long since left. Veronica has a meeting with the Princess Nui to attend in the morning. And mother's headed to Xia to attend a meeting with her sisters.

I also have functions to attend. The Warmasters will be taking inventory at their respective bases within their own princedoms. As my sister will be occupied with the Nui, as her Commander, I will be filling in as her proxy. Miira will sure up any shortcomings that result from tonight.

At least that's my hope. However, if I've learned anything over the years, it's that hope isn't like the wind, going as it pleases. Hope is manufactured by the actions that we take. Hope is a placebo we swallow to allow us some relief of our fear of the dark. Hope does not ride upon the sunrise, it is the sunrise. And at the moment, just as the dawn of day starts at the edge of the horizon, dusk ends at the edge of the horizon.

She heralds the moon with her footsteps.

"Mind if I take a seat?" she says, plopping herself down a seat over, on account of the gourd on the counter.

"Just when I thought I wouldn't need to keep my wits about me tomorrow morning," I reply, pouring her some water from the fount.

Just as that religious belief goes, he turned water to wine. Tonight, or is it morning, our water is boroshi. A tender substance. It's a warm and collected nectar of a sort. Although when consumed excessively, this water holds the power to turn men into mice. Rats potentially. Possibly bugs to skitter upon the cold and worn floors beneath our chairs.

"You know Veronica; knowing just who to call, when and where," she says softly as she takes the cup.

"I can only imagine what goes through her head," I say, thinking myself into another cup. Waving over the bartender, he knows what I'm going to ask for, and fetches another gourd from his chiller. Quickly exchanging the emptiness for soon-to-be emptiness, I pour another precious cup of nothing and begin to consume it. Nursing the cup this time, lest I forbid myself the sort of decency that is required of me at this particular moment.

"Why are you drinking? She asks, despite knowing the answer to her inquiry.

"She didn't tell you?" I counter.

"I just want to hear it from you," she says.

"You're neither my therapist nor my mother," I state, matter-of-fact. She shrugs.

"I'm just your Overseer. A close confidant maybe. If not, then a well-acquainted stranger," she stumbles trying to find the right words.

"I've known you since we were kids," she adds.

"That's both a blessing and a curse," I reply; most likely not in the way that she anticipated.

"How is it a blessing?" She probes further.

"Because you know me," I answer.

"And how is it a curse?"

"Because you know me well," I add.

"Only because you allowed me through the door." A verbal flourish.

Agreed. I surrender. Time to stop the act and to let her through the gates.

"Miira, why are you here?" I ask, trying to search her for a reason to stay. I think though, if I think about it, I know this answer as well.

"Because you needed someone to be with you here, tonight," she says pouring herself another cup.

"Is this because you're obligated to?" I question, searching for my own reasons for wanting her to stay.

She shakes her head.

At this point, a new game was showing on the television sets across the space. A native sport with the look and feel of paintball or airsoft. The implications, however, were much more far-reaching, with more actors and actresses in play, stricture, rules and regulations. Each combatant, a player if you will, wields their choice of main armament, a rifle usually, with their choice of side armament, a pistol. Some will specialize. Some will find themselves a semi with a scope. A large clip or a drum. Specialized rounds that scatter when released. But above all, their ultimate goal is to ensure the capture of the other team's flag. A symbol for their triumph; their sacrifice and determination. Each side is allowed to field anywhere from a hundred to two-hundred bodies. For the underlying saying goes something like, "It's not how many bodies you can field, but how much is one body worth."

"I'm here to make sure that you and I count for something on the morrow."

"You and I will always count for something," I quip.

"Aye," she says putting another cup back, "would you rather I not be here tonight?"

"Tonight? No..."

I run my hand down a cheek. It's rough and callused from working out. From my choice of occupation despite my inheritance. She doesn't hold onto it though. I can feel her shy away from it though; for good reason.
"And yet you do as you please," she says in response.

"I always have," I answer back.

"If I decided to leave the House of Abunai, would you still do as you please?" What a taboo. Talking about leaving. Not only because being demoted in status was a very real probability for those who lack both influence and ability, but because of the House she hailed from. House Abunai was as loyal to my family as it was to ensuring its continued survival with each generation. For the word "abunai" translates in Mercanti to "dangerous." And one could safely bet that throughout their history, their service has merited such a blunt and unambiguous name.

"If you decided to leave, Miira, you would most surely doom me to demise by my own hand," I say after a moment of clarity. Although really, like the water that pours by my hand, the words flowing out of my mouth don't require clarity. They're a sure and sound truth; one of the few. It's a strange one though because it shouldn't be true.

Humans are born in the dark. And only through living, come to know and understand the light. The dark becomes like a stranger hiding in the shadow of a lamppost. Although that might not at all be accurate. Because we once knew this stranger. He was once a relative. Someone we knew intimately. And now, he keeps his distance; an arm's throw away. Because as we began to live and learn, as beings who depend on the light for everything from the ability to see to the sustainment of ourselves, we slowly begin to estrange our once-friend. At least, that's how it's supposed to go.

"That's not true," she says shaking her head again. I guess it isn't. But it sounds true. Kind of like how a roach will look like a roach. Or like how an ant will look like an antlion. Or a fly will look like a gnat. They all look the same on the surface. But below that, they're different.

"I know it isn't. But I'll still say it anyways." Slightly wistful, fairly weird. I do not normally act like this.

"Everything happens for a reason," she replies to my slightly-spoofed sentiment, "Prince Arima does not joke."

"I am not Prince Arima right now," I quip.

"Then whom, might I ask, am I speaking to?" She questions almost timidly. This game grows tiresome. But alas, the game we play cannot have an end. Not unless my sister creates one.

"Just another man."

"Ah," she sighs, "then I am just another woman."

"No," I say, trying to maintain some sort of wits about me, "you are the Scion of the House of Abunai."

"But am I not just another woman?" She begs to question. That truth is actually harder to swallow than it should be. Because like her, I know my place. And she's simply baiting me at this point.

"I think she's just another woman," says another voice from behind us. Neither of us need to guess who it is. There is only one pair of sisters within the Court whom were split into two different Houses at their Ascendency Ceremony how many years ago. Miira was older by a few years. The other was younger than me by a few years. Both knew me back in the day before my sister was my sister. And my place within the Court became tenuous and somewhat unique.

Grandpa Kodo had engineered this social arrangement in the ways of yore.

"Where is Veronica?" I ask of the newcomer.

"She's at home. Sleeping. And I wanted a drink," responds the newcomer.

"I'm pretty sure there's a fully-stocked bar at our house," I answer back.

"Unfortunately Arima," starts the newcomer, "your sister knows me quite well and had left her jacket on the post of the bed before she retired."

"My sister. Both angel and devil, rolled into one," I think aloud.

"I wouldn't go that far," she says while pulling up a seat on the other side of Miira, "I think she's just good at reading people."

"I mean, it stands to reason, that in our chosen profession, it's a required skill," I surmise.

"You would know," starts Miira. I can’t help but chuckle.

"You know exactly why I can't do what you've been hinting at Miira," I say waving over the bartender yet again.

"And now you've stated why your sister left her jacket out for me," states the newcomer.

"It's not that simple Akira," her name like a prayer almost upon my tongue.

"It was pretty simple for us," she responds while digging into some chicken tenders.

Sisters. Always backing you into a corner. Blood-related or otherwise.

"I believe it was grandfather Kodonatsu who once said, 'ye who spits upon tradition spits upon humbled graves,' or something to that effect," I state, trying to find some sort of ground for me to stand on.

They rebuke the effort in full.

"One who wishes to not remember the words of thy father, deserves no happiness," quips Miira. Akira nods in agreement, her mouth full of breaded fried chicken meat.

"I think you've remembered the words of your grandfather fairly well Arima. The world continues onward. People grow. And feelings change..." Miira says while getting up off the counter. Not finishing, she continues out the door into the decidedly cold spring night. Akira sighs and shakes her head.

"When will you ever learn to be selfish?" She questions. For the third time tonight, I am left with doubt in my chest, a heavy weight upon my shoulders, and no answer to a question I should know the answer to. My cue to leave. Signaling to the bartender, he runs my tab through the normal card that he already had on hand. Off into the bluey night, to a few men, my keepers on this night, whom had elected to drink outside of the bar to play cards while standing sentry against a phantom threat. To make it to morning where I get up from my bed, don my uniform, and wear the sash of my birthright.
Down the path that I know as both right and wrong all at the same time. A contradiction mixed in with a sprinkle of truth. Because a lot of something bad can be made bearable with a bit of something good. Like an amputee with a prosthetic. An eyepatch over a glass eye. Or the acceptance of one's place over his wants and whims.

The acceptance that I both have a choice and no choice. Because I choose to have no choice despite having a choice. The best decision in relation to all but one. I am my own sacrifice upon this hallowed altar. A truthful sentiment lost amid the drab of obligation. And yet...

"Supreme Lord Commander, Prince Arima of the Most Noble House of Yuki!" She yells aloud. In full-dress we stand. A hundred attendants in front of nearly ten thousand officers and skilled IYG personnel. A full battalion of the IYG's finest. And here she comes, a maiden of battle, with her chosen weapon, a celestial-like katana. It glistens in the morning sunlight. Like the morning dew upon blades of grass. A shining specter with dated usage.

Extremely sharp, like the traditions I was charged to protect.

"Miira, what are you doing?" I respond back.

"I, Lord Overseer Miira of the House of Abunai, wish to challenge thee for the rank of Supreme Lord Commander under the command of Supreme Lord Warmaster, Princess and Heir Apparent Veronica! Of the Most Noble House of Yuki!" Her words pierce me like the tip of a spear through my gut. Oh what the hell Miira? You've chosen exactly the wrong time to do this. To invoke tradition of the highest edict in front of all who have a vested interest to maintain it.

"A challenge has been issued!" Shouts an attendant.

"A challenger of the most noble of bloodlines indeed!" Seconds another.

"With the laurels to warrant it!" Finishes a third.

"All hail to the Empress! May all glory and honor forever be her's! All hail! All hail!" The soldiers begin to chant, signaling my impetus to go along with tradition, or to break it now. I'd really prefer I have to do neither.

"Withdraw, scion of Abunai! For the sake of the Golden Throne of Yukkira!" I announce for all to hear.

"You have become stuck in the olden days of yore, Prince Arima!" She fires back, "under the Heir Apparent, the traditions of ages past are being cast aside in favor of the oncoming sun, a new and glorious future! All who support the times of father's past will be eclipsed by Princess Veronica's vision!"

"You speak of madness and neglect, Scion of the House of Abunai," I answer back, "without our past, we are less than dust."

"But without change, we will become dust!" She sheathes her blade for good measure.

Taking the opportunity, I quickly run up to her and grab her by the arms. "Miira, why are you doing this? You've never acted this way before," I ask her, pleadingly, to explain herself. She refuses to meet my eyes, preferring to look down at the ground, up and past my shoulders, or at me but not. As if I were a man made of glass, and she was using the sun behind her to see right through me.

"Titles Arima," she whispers, "That's all they are. They're responsibilities freely sought after."

"What are you talking about Miira?"

Finally, she finds my eyes with her own. Her's are blurry, as she attempts to find me through the rain.

"Arima, your name is not a shackle."

"Speak some sense Miira," I say half-whispering, half-yelling. She angrily throws me off of her. Shaking her head, she unsheathes her blade and aims it at me. The retainers watching us begin to chant even louder. She says something, but her words do not reach me. Whether it was the roar of the retainers, reciting, over and over, my mother's praise. Or simply my own unwillingness to heed her wisdom.

We cannot back down now. As the taiko drummers come to the fore, before the chanting is able to reach a fevered pitch, I find myself moving without thought. For to dance in a trance is to dance willingly into oblivion. To allow the tempo of the earth and the rhythm of the life move you in ways that cannot be ignored. I give myself over to that duty which is my world to shoulder.

As my blade flashes and sparks fly.
Edited by Yukkira, May 28 2018, 04:22 AM.
"For the nation, our lives are forfeit."
The Most Glorious Principality of [nation]Yukkira[/nation]

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