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 Female x Male Sunfall {TeaNinja x Crazy Shady}

Discussion in 'Roleplay Execution' started by Crazy Shady, May 14, 2019.

  1. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    Redwater. The seat of power of Tholimiundura. It was home to many, and welcoming of many more. The nation of Tholimiundura was not large. Made of ten official provinces organized into four separate states, with Redwater as a single province capital state. The power that was wielded was born of its merchants and solidified by a line of good kings. Situated on the western of the massive Shelloan River Delta as it fed into the Bay of Rubies and further into the Galamofrey Sea, the city of Redwater was an end node for trading in the region. Trade came from all over the region, and thanks to generations of brilliant merchants, money that flowed into the city of Redwater usually stayed in Redwater, boosting the economy and ensuring the coffers of the king stayed full. But so much money made a nation a target, especially the source of the money. Thus the city of Redwater found its resting place fortuitous. With a mountain range about a day’s travel away to one side and the Selloan Delta on the other, Redwater was secure.

    The land based route into the capital was long, following the river closely until the Midnese Forest consumed the river side. A half a day’s travel through these woods would find you on a little rise overlooking the farmland and the city proper. Fertile land was easy to come by thanks to the delta in addition to many deposits of fertile red clay -the namesake of Redwater thanks to the tint it left in the Delta as it flowed into the Bay- that dotted the region. Great stone walls rose in the distance, closing the city off from a land invasion. Cobbled roads expertly crafted generations before hold strong, made with gravel underneath and a barely noticeable curve was carved into the interlocking and firm stones themselves to allow for water to easily run off to the wayside. One such road runs from the rise at the edge of the forest through the center of the farm lands and to the main gate.

    That same road led straight through city like a spine. Great wooden buildings supported by stone flanked the road as smaller streets webbed out from it. The main plaza was magnificent, with a elegantly carved fountain -depicting the first king and council- dominating the square. Hundreds of people could fit within the square, if not for the orderly stalls selling all manner of goods were not taking up a reasonable amount of space around the edges of this square. As the road continued from this center of town, it crept even further along until it reached the base of a grand, gradual slope, flanked on either side with staircases. Here the road split into three: One continuing forward up the hill with the other two choosing to encircle this massive hill The upper district of Redwater was situated on the hill itself, walled off by another wall. The road snaked up the hill, interrupted periodically by gates and archways, making siege of this point all the more difficult.

    Dark marble inlaid with gold made up the final archway, and welcomed visitors to the Upper District. The buildings here were grand, and the plots of land that they sat on was easily at least four times the size of the homes below. Stone was more prominent with these buildings, but the easy access to lumber did not go to waste making these regal estates. The infrastructure was orderly, with each street at perfect angles branching off of the main road. But the one compound that stood out the most was the Redwater Citadel; the home of the king that was visible by all. A final wall separated the castle from the Upper District. Immediately upon entering, the royal smith’s place of business and home sprawled off to the left with a distinct bald patch of grass next to it with targets and training dummies set up within. Past the smith’s was an open stable and pen, allowing the horses to move as they like while still having the option of shelter from inclement weather. To the right was the public garden, with beautiful statues and flourishing plant life wrapping around white stoned pathways and arches. The main building stood connected to the walls, dominating the grounds. Unseen from the entrance was the back of the compound, left unwalled in favor of the natural cliff that over looks more of the city and the Bay itself. On this cliff was the private gardens, reserved for the royal family and honored guests. While the public garden was grand and welcoming, the private garden was much more quiet, with a simple beauty to allow for one to rest without a sensory overload.

    And today, the city was abuzz with activity. Nobles and commoners alike were flocking to gathering points, awaiting the arrival of foreign guests, holding festivities and entertainment to ease minds and forget the meaning behind their arrival. The king, however, could not enjoy the small things to relax. Cromwell Aslegar, fifth on the throne of the Aslegar name, had been busy. The request arrived months ago. An envoy of the Peshwa came asking for an alliance and defensive pact. The Empire of Resplendent Sunlight had been aggressively expanding into their nomadic lands, and Khan Agung Kabul was rightfully worried that his people could not safely protect themselves from the zealotry that followed the Empire everywhere it went. Cromwell knew well that the Empire’s favored ‘missionaries’ were in the form of The Reborn: men turned to their faith that served more as a consequence if a neighbor did not convert. Thus, Cromwell went to the council with the request and strove for months to sway certain noble families to formally accept to negotiate this alliance. But Cromwell was not idle as politics ran rampant during those first few months. In as much privacy a king could afford, messengers were sent back and forth, laying the groundwork until the council was able to take over.

    Today was the culmination of that work. The Peshwa was coming to Redwater. He had received word a week prior that they had met with the contingent of troops to ensure safety as they crossed into and through Tholimiundura. Everything was prepared, from paying a few farmers for their off season fields to serve as a campground for the Peshwa, to making sure the best stable boys were on hand for the Peshwa nobility’s mounts, to even making sure that the food was not completely foreign and offensive to either side of this alliance. He had worked himself to the bone to find a balance for both his people and the Peshwa. His sceneshal Viantius, who had served his father, and his father’s father, and his father’s father’s father, was quick to make sure the young lord would not let himself be dead on his feet on this day. The elf was his mentor, best friend, and trusted advisor and knew that Cromwell needed a much needed night’s rest… even if it came down to slipping something in the lord’s evening meal to ensure it came to pass.

    Cromwell did not wait in the throne room. He was not accepting an envoy this time. He was not accepting a dignitary formally. He was accepting future allies into his court. Thus, he await atop the steps that entered the castle proper with Viantius at his side, and a dozen or so servants waiting just behind the door to assist the road weary Peshwa settle in. The regalia was left behind and instead formal wear was adopted. Thick black dyed trousers rested just above sensible and formal boots. A red doublet -loose but not puffy- rested below a black, double buttoned jerkin decorated with gold. From his hip, his actual blade rested. A Ruby sat at the hilt of a simple pommel, while the scabbard was black with a golden tip, and more gold seemingly pouring out of the mouth of the sheathe. Normally a coat or mantle would have accompanied this look, but Cromwell was in no mood to flaunt status and standing. It was pointless and unneeded, despite what House Aposthroth believed. It was mid afternoon when he heard the crowd as they trickled up through the Upper District. The Peshwa arrived, and Cromwell released a breathe he did not realize that he was holding. A glance toward Viantius told him it was the correct call. He may be moments from setting to work, but coming off as strict and inflexible would send the wrong signal to the people that were coming to trust him.
     
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  2. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    The Peshwa, more commonly the Barbarians of the Wilds to civilized folk, had many tribes under their name. True to their unofficial moniker, they travelled and resided where no one else dared to go. Where they could go. From the highest of mountaintops to the vast plains, from poisonous bogs to treacherous rivers, the Peshwa wandered and made their home. And they flourished. Able to gather or cultivate goods that no one else could, their trade was rich and in demand. From spring until fall, the tribes would wander their chosen terrain. Late autumn was when other nations could expect the Peshwa to travel through, trading and gathering goods in one last rush before winter settled in. It was during the icy cold months that the Peshwa would gather as one people in some unknown location. Others have tried to follow them, as bandits, as missionaries, or out of plain curiosity. But none would find the massive Peshwa camp, supposedly protected by their gods. If they tried to follow, they would blink, waking from some stupor, at the edge of a town they had last left before trying to track the Peshwa.

    Still, rumours would fly about it. Stories of ritual murder and wild orgies and whatever else it was monster people would get up to. Were it not for the Peshwa's immaculate goods, many would refuse trade with them.

    And so it went, year and year. In spring, the Peshwa emerged from their secret place, moving to scatter back to their unforgivable homes as separated tribes. They seemed to welcome strangers into their midst easily enough if travellers sought a warm fire and company. People theorized that this was because monsters would not have to fear man any more than a feral bear would fear a babe. They would roam the lands, avoiding encroaching on farmlands or grazing lands or settlements. Never did the Peshwa seem interested in fighting others for space. If the farmlands grew, they would find another place untouchable to the common races. It was moot anyway. People did not want the lands monsters resided in. Then autumn saw the Great Migration and like that, the Peshwa would disappear from the face of the earth for an entire season.

    But things changed as the Empire of Resplendent Sunlight kept sending their missionaries out to the Peshwa tribes. They were met cordially enough, but ultimately sent away. The tribes were convinced the deities of the land and sky and water watched over them, and though the sun-blessed them, they did not see it as the Allfather. Did the Sun not slumber while the Moon took its place? Did it not burn as much as warm? Or abandon them in the cold months? No, they did not subscribe to its worship, though they thanked the Empire for stopping by anyway. And that was that.

    Or so they thought.

    It had been one or two hunters. Then a group of gatherers that wandered too far from camp. Some of their merchants vanished, their goods gone or stolen. Then a tribe had to flew when their cave homes suddenly started to collapse, seeking shelter with another tribe until they could sort things out.

    Once or twice could be accidents. The Peshwa were no strangers to wild animals, angry weather, swallowing earth... Sometimes bandits were desperate enough to challenge so-called monsters for loot. But it was happening too frequently, too fast. The Khan started having his Chieftains send messengers with each incident, reporting their loss and its location. He soon came to a conclusion. The Peshwa were being exterminated. All of the deaths or disappearances kept happening to the tribes that roamed in the outlying regions of the Empire of Resplendent Sunlight. The Khan ordered his people to flee, summoning them as they began to move inward through Tholimiundura. But with so many tribes present, they would be unable to avoid crowding Tholimiunduran people, or appearing as if ready to ransack the country. So the Khan sent the Winged Ones to Redwater, carrying missives with their plea for defensive military assistance, or at the very least, sanctuary.

    Blessedly, the answer was an invitation. Terms were to be discussed in Tholimiundura's capital, the great Redwater. The Peshwa had never wandered so far into civilized country, but they would now.

    In droves, the tribes began to arrive, escorted by Tholimiunduran units, to Redwater. Other than Khan Agung, the Centaur tribe arrived first. Some were drawing wagons behind them, hitched as if horses would. Others were armed with spears and lances, huge greatbows slung across their back and quivers at their hips. The highborn Centaurs, though, led the way, decorated in rich fabric. The Chieftain stood at the head of the procession, wielding a massive staff. He was adorned in wildflowers and covered in war paint, trotting proudly before his people, despite the fact they were fleeing. The Centaurs were among the touchier Peshwa, for long ago, common races had tried to kidnap their people and breed them like animals to be used as mounts or work animals. The other Peshwa tribes had intervened, rescuing what Centaurs they could, killing those that could not be saved. And though Tholimiundura was not directly responsible, the Centaurs had never forgotten what the common races had done to their tribe.

    The Winged Ones arrived next. Among the most humanoid looking tribes, and admired for their massive wings and poised forms, the Winged Ones were often the messenger tribe for the Peshwa. Like the Centaur tribe, some Winged Ones were gathered in groups, carrying large slings of their supplies or rolled up homes, while others were armed or well decorated. Like the Centaur Chieftain, the Winged Ones Chieftain was the largest, his wingspan massive as he swooped overhead. Two crystalline daggers were held in his hands, war paint decorating his body. Over and over, the Peshwa tribes arrived in like fashion. The Mauler Tribe came after the Winged Ones. Then Brawler Tribe, the Underdark Tribe and so one and so forth. They all began to gather at the allotted space for their people, building and setting up camp with practised efficiency. After all, they were nomads, this was nothing special, save the location.

    The Komodos, far up the mountains, arrived last. They were wrapped in leathers and furs, but what skin could be seen was typically grey or brown-grey in hue, scales on their face and shoulder, torso and back were black or black-brown. They rode in on massive mountain goats or large red elks, the strong animals laden with the Komodos possessions. The Peshwa were all to gather at their new temporary home before the Khan, the Chieftains and their immediate family would gather at the castle. The nobles and warriors would remain behind to protect their people, and assist in packing up if no alliance could be reached and the Peshwa would have to resume their flight once more. Once ready, the procession set out for the gates of Redwater and onto the castle.

    The Khan led them. He was on foot, for his massive mount would not fit the streets of Redwater. Still, Khan Agung moved with poise and dignity, dressed in resplendant robes and rich furs that trailed to the ground behind him. The massive man towered heads above the citizens of Redwater, a giant axe strapped to his back, and his face hidden by the giant braided beard so long, he could tuck it into his belt. The Centaur Chieftain did not come, he would remain behind due to his size, but his wife, an orcish woman, rode a horse behind the Khan to represent the Centaurs. The Winged Chieftain merely flew, wings spread to control his flight speed. He would occasionally land on a roof, much to the awe of the Redwater people before gliding again to remain with the procession. His family followed carried in beautifully carved palanquins, the curtains drawn so his wife and children could wave graciously at the Redwater peoples. The Maulers had debated between arriving looking humanoid or to arrive as their beast forms. It had been decided their Chieftain would be beast, the massive, lumbering bear draped in beautiful metalwork to signify his position, while his family took their humanoid forms. It was probably frightening, but they wanted to demonstrate their mastery of self while bestial. The Komodo Chieftain Arief Buaya Darat, too, wore his best leathers and furs as he rode his mountain goat up to the castle, bearing the thorned whip the Komodo were famous for wielding. By his side, his only daughter, Ndari Siti Maharani.

    Ndari was not like the other Komodo. She was shorter and more slender, though all the Komodo were a whipcord people. And though she shared the black hair that flowed like liquid ink with her people, she was pale as moonlight, her scales that framed her face were silvery. Silver-blue eyes watched the people of Redwater welcoming them with fascination. Despite being dressed in a tight choli, draping lehenga skirt and loosely fitted dupatta, all a rich blue with silver embroidery, she rode her giant red elk with practised ease, her own thorned whip attached to the saddle. Taman, her elk, would raise his proud head and bellow if children got too close to his hooves, scaring them away before they could be trampled. Ndari reached forward to pet his shaggy neck, soothing the crowded elk as the procession made their way to the castle. At last, they arrived, moving into a semi-circle behind their Khan. Those mounted dismounted, and once the Khan bowed, they followed suit.

    "King Cromwell Aslegar of Tholimiundura," the Khan bellowed, his deep voice reaching. "I am Khan Agung Kabul of the Peshwa. These are my Chieftains of our tribes and their families. The Peshwa thank you for your invitation," he said, though it sounded more like a shout from his massive chest. "The Peshwa thank you," the Chieftains and their families agreed, bowing again.
     
  3. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    As the mountains of man and beast came forth, only Cromwell and Viantius were the only one seemingly not dissuaded by the sight before them. Viantius used to adventure before Cromwell’s great grandfather offered him work, while Cromwell was not a king to sit in the back lines of a war. It was not to say that either of them were put off, they simply knew how to conceal the reaction to it. He naturally loud voice of the Khan rang out through the castle, and immediately Cromwell could feel the dagger-like glares coming for both him and the Khan from a particular elven family of nobility. Specifically Aftar Apostroth, the current patriarch, was allowing the pleasantry appearance fall into distaste towards the Peshwa. But that would be a problem for another time. The Apostroths were not willing to assist in the negotiations and they were defeated in the council vote. It was just another problem for after this affair.

    With the gratitude given, Cromwell descended the stairs as Viantius moved backwards, opening the door and releasing servants to follow their king. “Please, lift your heads, Khan Agung Kabul and the chieftains of the Peshwa,” Cromwell said, his voice a contrast in the use of bass. Where the khan was loud by nature instead of purpose, Cromwell’s voice was deep and low, lending to a soft and smooth manner of speech without sacrificing the ability to be heard. It reflected how he looked perfectly. He was more elegant than any human could hope to be, but his features betrayed a ruggedness that no elf could hope to obtain. His black hair was cut just short of shoulder length, and a thick but short beard was well kept close to his face, hiding the smooth curves of his face from his elven heritage. “Despite what others may believe, you are our equals and our guests,” Cromwell continued, approaching the khan directly with a half dozen servants in a line on either side of him starting about four steps back and two to the side. “So let us meet as friends, not with a head bowed to another.” Cromwell extended his hand to the Khan, shaking with the mountain of a man. The moment his hand clasped with Agung’s, four of the servants moved to break off from the lines and go to his family to assist their move into the guest wing.

    Cromwell continued to greet each chieftain in a similar fashion. With the Centaur chieftain’s wife, Cromwell gave a slight bow as was appropriate of a man in his culture greeting a woman. However, instead of speaking in the tones and language expected to be given to the wife of a lord, Cromwell spoke plainly, apologizing for the fact Redwater did not have the infrastructure for her husband and offered to send additional servants to ensure his comfort in the camp. With her, two servants broke off to assist her. He shook with the Winged tribe while two servants -the two best suited for children- broke off to help with his family. Cromwell explained that the envoy, one of the Winged tribe, that the Khan had been using was resting in the guest quarters if they wished to speak with him. Even with the Mauler Chieftain, Cromwell acted accordingly while staying within his own customs. Obviously unable to shake the hand of the chieftain, Cromwell chose to bow despite his mention of no need to bow. It was not deep, as he did not want to bow deeper to a man than he did the woman. It was simply something to welcome him, akin to a handshake. As he bowed, two more servants joined the Mauler family as Cromwell asked that they refrain from using their larger forms while within the castle proper, more out of worry for the head maid’s heart and work on the floor than much else. And finally, with the Komodo, Cromwell apologized to them. “I must apologize ahead of time, Chieftain Arief,” Cromwell said. “We do not have stable hands that are experienced in tending to mounts that our people would consider exotic. However, I am more than willing to have an area set aside within the stables for them if this predicament is acceptable.” As Cromwell finished, the final two servants moved to Ndari and began to offer assistance with luggage, albeit slower than the rest as fascination and harmless envy of her appearance and clothing respectively took hold of these two younger servants.

    With greetings out of the way, Cromwell turned to the Khan, the first four servants no longer in sight. “I admit I am not the most… experienced of hosts, Khan Agung,” Cromwell began with. “But whenever you and your people are rested, let a servant know and we can have dinner prepared, so that we may all talk privately and in comfort,” Cromwell said, letting the last portion of the sentence come out a bit louder than the rest so that the slowly mingling nobility may hear. “I hope you understand.” With that, Cromwell’s eyes darted off to the side, looking to try to pick out which noble houses were standing apart and thus were the ones who needed to have heard the a slightly louder statement.
     
  4. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    Though the eyes of the Peshwa did not move from the King of Tholimiundura, nor did any of them lack the discipline to start murmuring, a noticeable weight was added to the air when King Cromwell suggested they meet as equals. Perhaps he was not aware—in fact, they were sure he was not, due to their typically secluded lifestyles—that the Peshwa were a deeply honour-bound people with memories that were long and clear. They did not forgive their debts and it was an odd concept to them that the King would consider them on the same status when they had come for asylum. But the Khan started to shake, a deep groaning coming from the massive barrel of his chest. The Chieftains and their families eased, as Khan Agung laughed, a massive arm swinging up, then down to crash into King Cromwell's shoulder. "Well met, King Cromwell. Well met," the giant Khan said, the other hand moving to accept Cromwell's much smaller hand into his own.

    As not each Chieftain spoke Common, the Khan lumbered behind Cromwell to introduce his Chieftains. "The wife of Chieftain Soleh, Marshanda," the Khan introduced. "Yang mulia, itu suatu kehormatan bertemu dengan anda," Marshanda husked, her tusks making her accent rolling and smooth contrary to belief on how orcs spoke. The orc woman bowed again and the Khan leaned over. "She said, 'Your Majesty, it is an honour to meet you.'" the Khan translated. He spoke to Marshanda, likely translating what Cromwell had offered for the Centaur tribe. Marshanda's face lit up and she laughed as uproariously as the Khan did, but did not slap his shoulder, just settling for another bow. "Their daughter, Pertiwi, will join us later. She is assisting with the campgrounds," the Khan explained.

    "Chieftain Elang and his wife Lestari," the Khan rumbled as they moved onto the Winged Tribe. Elang spread his wings wide, to their full width before folding them neatly and bowing to the King. Lestari did not, extending her wings a bit and fluttering them in Cromwell's direction. In their hair, the two had seemed to have exchanged and woven their feathers in, signifying them as man and wife. "That is Elang's way of showing you his respect, baring his wings to you even though you would have opportunity to clip them. His wife would not show you the width of her wings as she is mated, but she wishes to respect you as well," the Khan explained as Lestari ushered her children forward, two boys and a girl. "Your Highness," Lestari smiled openly and warmly, even though she spoke slowly, not used to the Common tongue as she had never been trained as a dignitary. "My children, Ares, Danni and Puspa," she introduced, gesturing to the two boys and the girl. "Triplets. Keep your shiny baubles away, they're going through their magpie stage. They return everything if you ask but best not to tempt them," the Khan stage whispered, earning a snicker from the boys. However, Puspa was too busy staring at Cromwell with a shiny look in her eyes, the vaguest pink on the young girl's cheeks. "King Cromwell, we must thank you for accommodating our messenger Mithra," Elang said, more practised in Common than his wife, moving to bow his head again.

    "Chieftain Berkah, and his sisters, Kemining, Mawar, Melati, Puspita and Wangi," the Khan said, dipping his head in each of the Mauler women's direction. Where Berkah was very clearly a bear, his sisters were not. Perhaps the Maulers were not like other were-creatures who inherited their animal form from their parents, for though they all were in their humanoid form, Kemining looked like a civet cat, Mawar like a chimpanzee, Melati like a bear as Berkah, Puspita like a lioness and Wangi like a wolf. Berkah swayed to his hind legs, though remained firmly shorter than the Khan, moving to make gruff noises at Cromwell before landing back on all fours. "Chieftain Berkah greets you and assures you he and his family will remain humanoid during his stay. In fact, he would change back but it may be indecent for your court," the Khan offered in explanation to the king. The Khan did not speak in animal noises as the Maulers did, but he had known Berkah for a long time and knew what the bear Mauler had meant.

    "Chieftain Arief and his only daughter, Ndari Siti Maharani," the Khan introduced when they came about to the Komodos. Arief turned to his daughter when Cromwell spoke, Ndari translating to him. Her voice was lilting and musical, but not delicate. There was a power in her voice, though she did not speak loudly as their Khan did. Arief nodded and moved to bow to Cromwell before saying, "Jangan khawatir, yang mulia. Anda sangat baik tetapi tunggangan kami terbiasa berkeliaran tanpa distabilkan." Ndari smiled and pulled something from the folds of her lehenga skirt, something that looked like a reed that had been carved and treated to stop erosion. "My father asks that you not worry. Our mounts are used to wandering off once we unsaddle them," Ndari translated before gesturing at the whistle, carefully held in her clawed hands. "We summon them with whistles. They eat too much to be contained so we let them loose to graze. Our mounts know not to eat your farmers' grains, though," she assured him before tucking the whistle back into her skirts. She turned and moved to stop a servant before they could help her with the luggage attached to Taman, lest they cut themselves on her thorned whip.

    The Khan nodded, and the Chieftains turned to follow the servants to their quarters and let their mounts or vehicles be led or stowed away. "And we are not the most experienced of guests, King Cromwell," Khan Agung shook his head. "Both of us will be learning, so we must all be patient," he said before finally standing straight, groaning as he did so, having stooped to remain at Cromwell's height to speak to the King without near-shouting. He arched a bushy brow at the King before amused chuckle rumbled from him. "Ah, youth," he hummed, perhaps misunderstanding the King's words as he moved to follow a servant to his quarters.
     
  5. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    Cromwell could only sigh at the mutterings of the Khan. There was nothing he could do at the moment when it came to the misunderstanding, but at least it was so far the only one that came up from this initial meeting. That was something to be thankful for at the very least. As his guests dispersed, Cromwell chose to approach the Winged Chieftain. The messengers and envoys sent were almost always from their tribe, and for good reason. Cromwell knew the distance that the Peshwa had to travel, and these people seemed to cover the distance the fastest, based on the speed in which he received a reply. Plus Mithra was quite conversational, giving Cromwell valuable insight on how the tribes worked together under the Khan, as well as the subtle cultural differences.

    “How was the journey, Chieftain?” Cromwell asked, falling in line with Elang and his family. “I hope my lands were hospitable to you all.”

    “It was better than I had expected, to be honest,” Elang responded. “I expected unease the further we went from the towns the Peshwa trade with, but curiosity was an interesting change.”

    At this, Lestari spoke up as well. “It was enjoyable, even if the children tried to take things from your warriors.” She said, before quickly adding. “There wasn’t a problem, once Khan Agung explained to your… head warrior, your men seemed to find it in good fun.”

    Cromwell smiled, leading them towards the room set aside for them as the servants lagged behind with their luggage. “I wouldn’t be against the three of you taking a couple souvenirs, so long as you ask if they are ok to take,” Cromwell said, turning to the children. Danni and Ares beamed at this invitation, their young minds thinking of mischevious asks to offer up to their host, but the redness on Puspa’s cheeks grew a bit further, opting to slide behind Lestari a bit more. A few words were exchanged between Lestari and Puspa quietly, though Cromwell naturally was not able to decipher the words past it perhaps being some form of comfort. “I hope you all do not mind an upper floor room, but Mithra usually preferred to take to the skies whenever he felt strong enough to do so while he recuperated, so I felt it best to offer you a room with a view,” Cromwell explained as they begun to climb the stairs.

    “You are too kind, King Cromwell,” Elang said, still a bit stiff in posture as if the situation demanded the utmost seriousness.

    It did not last long, as Lestari stepped forward and poked just where his wings met his back. “The air is good here, I would enjoy a trip over the water,” she said playfully, trying to ease her husband into Cromwell’s hospitality. Cromwell noticed the relaxation take over shortly after the instinctual tensing of muscles as he was poked.

    As they finally reached the room, Cromwell opened the door for them and stepped aside. “I will give you all time to settle in. As I told Khan Agung, we are in no rush to start a conversation immediately upon your arrival, so please take your time. If the five of you need anything, I am sure a servant can help you with the matter. And if you wish to find me, Viantius… The elven man who was standing beside me upon your arrival, should know my whereabouts,” Cromwell said, shaking Elang’s hand once more. With that, Cromwell nodded to Lestari and gave a warm smile to the kids before turning and heading off. There was much he needed -or rather, felt he needed- to do before dinner was had. A conversation with Viantius for a better read on the nobles after this introduction. A meeting with the captain of the guard to ensure everyone is protected and at ease, regardless of which nation they belonged to. Documentation of Imperial movements that came from the contingent that escorted the Peshwa was available now. And on top of it all, he wanted to feel welcoming and not as if he was a stronger power making political maneuvers against them. Peace had always been welcome, but this balancing act was not something that Cromwell was accustomed to.
     
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  6. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    The nomads had recovered swiftly. Perhaps faster than the nobility of Tholimiundura had expected. After all, was travel not in their blood? The Khan had already invited the Chieftains to his quarters once they were mostly unpacked. While terms would be discussed more formally with the King and his court at a later time, the Khan wanted to speak to his leaders about the possibilities of what protection and asylum could possibly cost their people. They would be prepared to offer a lot from each tribe, but things had to be weighed. The Khan could not approve of making a tribe destitute without being able to justify it. This had to work, or the Peshwa would continue their flight to get as far away from the Empire as possible. But what would they be running into? Before the Empire became aggressive, Tholimiundura and the Empire were the only two nations willing to endure the Peshwa's presence due to their lifestyle of keeping away from civilization. Could the Peshwa be sure other nations would be just as content to ignore their presence just because the Peshwa remained isolated?

    While the Khan and his Chieftains discussed these possibilities, the princesses had gathered together. Pertiwi, an olive green orc with mousey brown hair, had finally caught up with the nobility gathered at the castle. The princesses had taken the triplets with them, having decided to go explore the castle. While none of the princesses had ever wandered into a town like their merchants, some, like the Mauler princesses, had seen towns and cities off in this distance as their tribe passed on their way to another hunting ground.

    "Look at that," Ndari marvelled as she and Wangi swung a delighted Danni between them. They occasionally lifted their arms, the young boy flapping his too-small wings furiously whenever they did. They'd grow eventually, and the princesses secretly empathized with the triplets' future growth pains. The bones in the wings would elongate and their feathers would shed near constantly. It was a time of puberty shame for the Winged Ones tribe, many adolescents refusing to emerge from their tents during moulting. But it was worth it in the end, the Winged Ones loving their freedom in the skies and their resplendent feathers. "It's like a giant tent you'd never have to take down," Mawar agreed, she and Kemining swinging Ares between them. "I'm going to live here one day!" Puspa puffed her chest, moving to glide her small hands along the walls as they walked, a small skip to her step.

    For the sake of any nobility or servants that ran across them, the group spoke Common. They didn't want anyone to give excuses that they could be plotting in their native Peshwan language, used to the distrust from the few other common races they'd encountered over the years. "What did you think of the King?" Melati asked. "That he is young. I was expecting an old man like the Khan," Puspita giggled. "Maybe he is. I heard he is half elf. Aren't they long lived?" Pertiwi chimed in. "I think so. Baba said there was one elf that one of our merchants did business with, and his father did business with and his father before that," Wangi said before she and Ndari launched Danni into the air again. "I assume he might be younger, actually. Did you see how he took the time to greet all of our Chieftains? He is not old enough to be arrogant yet," Kemining laughed. "Or he is just wise and has been taught well," Ndari defended.

    The princesses laughed, though stifled their laughter when Puspa stamped her foot, wings fluttering as she looked up imperiously at the princesses. "You will mind your tongues when speaking of his highness!" she commanded. "Oh shut up, Puspa," Ares complained. "She's so bossy," Danni scoffed, the two boys rolling their eyes. "Now now, you lot ought to behave or we'll tell Lestari and she won't let you come down to sup with us. And I'm sure the King has prepared something amazing to welcome us," Ndari warned. "Just think of it. Foreign desserts," she whispered, gaining the starstruck attention of the children.

    Sated, the tour continued until the princesses heard a low bellowing from above floors, Chieftain Berkah summoning the princesses back to prepare for dinner. Ndari waved at the others as they parted to go prepare for dinner, only to stop short of crashing into Viantius. Ndari sucked in a breath, not from being startled. She had learned some time ago that most humanoid races felt a bit unnerved if she randomly stuck her tongue out to taste the air so she'd started practising sucking the air into her mouth instead. This elven man... unintroduced to her but she recognized the scent from when he'd stood behind King Cromwell. "Salutations," Ndari smiled, holding her hand out as she'd seen Cromwell do, assuming that was how the people here greeted each other.
     
  7. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    Viantius was once an adventurer, so in his retirement, he was used to his steps being unheard, especially by the distracted or when he came around a corner. As the two of them
    Viantius was once an adventurer, so in his retirement, he was used to his steps being unheard, especially by the distracted or when he came around a corner. As the two of them collided, Viantius slide his foot into place to stabilize himself while reaching forward to place his hands on the shoulders of the person who bumped into them, both to keep them upright and out of habit to keep them at arm’s length. Immediately he cycled through a number of emotions: from surprise to the disappointment akin to a father’s, thinking it was a servant not paying attention, then emotions moved to surprise once more before falling into an apologetic outlook. “Please forgive me Lady Ndari,” Viantius said, his voice betraying his age only slightly as his throat was unable to keep the same intonation it held in youth. It was an even, smooth, and a bit sly voice that he used, dampened and slowed by age. As an elf, there was no way to know how old he really was, but by comparison, he looked to be in the equivalent of a rather healthy human’s late forties to early fifties. “I should have been paying attention who else was moving around these corridors.”

    Ndari’s extended hand was stared at for but an instant, before a slight smile spread across his face. The elf was no fool and had been the biggest supporter of Cromwell’s intention to assist the Peshwa, including the learning of their culture from envoys. It wouldn’t be unlikely that some of their own would have tried to do the same upon arrival. “While I appreciate the attempt, that is not the correct gesture of welcome for our respective stations at the moment,” Viantius said, shaking her hand after casually looking about to make sure no one else was in the hall. “I am Viantius Le’itev, Seneschal of Redwater Citadel and Advisor to King Cromwell. It is a pleasure to meet you, despite the accidental nature in which we quite literally ran into each other.” Viantius gestured towards her hand as he released it to fall back to her side. “So neither of our leaders find a headache in the form of offended nobility… In Tholimiundura and many other static societies, women usually do not take upon physical tasks, from farming to warfare. And thus, the act of shaking a person’s dominant hand is reserved for men or the occasional lady warrior or business woman, to show a weapon is not wielded,” Viantius proceeded to bow slightly, about the same that Cromwell had bowed to Marshanda of the Centaur tribe. “Men are to do like such, while women are to do something called curtsy,” Viantius explained. “It is… somewhat similar to what Lady Lestari did with her wings, but with a lady’s skirt or… I believe they are called lehenga for the Peshwa…?” With his verbal lesson done, Viantius grabbed an invisible dress skirt around his legs and slid his leg back an inch or two before bending at the knees while picking up the invisible skirt slightly. With that, he released the invisible skirt and stood upright, sliding his foot back next to the other. “Like so.”

    Before much more could be said, a butler was seen turning the corner down the hallway and moving straight towards Viantius. “Excuse me, sir. But His Majesty asked me to find you so that you may join him, Lord Agung, and Agung’s court for din-” the human began, trying his best to be formal. Unfortunately, Viantius cut him off.

    “Yes, I heard Chieftain Berkah bellow,” Viantius said, with surprisingly no contempt to the method of announcing dinner. The butler slowly closed his mouth and nodded, before bowing to Ndari and excusing himself -taking a few steps away before rising from the bow- from the encounter. “Well, it seems that everyone is well rested,” Viantius said, turning back to Ndari. “Shall I show you the way to the private dining hall? Or were you simply exploring the halls?”
     
  8. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    Ndari smiled, shaking her head at Viantius's apology. "Think nothing of it. I should apologize for rushing through your halls," she excused. Just because she did not want to keep the king waiting did not mean she should bodily bowl over his staff. For a moment, her eyes ran over him. She'd seen elves before, especially as Taman walked proudly through the streets of Redwater, but never one so closely. He was generally the same height as most humanoids, but seemed leaner. If anything his body looked a bit like the Komodos, looking impossibly thin and frail for the power it housed. She couldn't be sure under all the layers, though. Humanoids did tend to enjoy wearing things that disguised the shape of their bodies, she had noted. Elven ears were a bit different than she imagined. She had thought them longer and pointier, but they varied are were not as comical as her imagination led her to believe.

    She focused when Viantius aimed a patient smile at her, making her cock her head. As he deigned to explain her mistake, he shook her hand anyway, probably to soothe her embarrassment. And embarrassed she was, a pink blossoming over her face to the tips of her ears and the tops of her shoulders. "Oh," she said simply before looking at her released hand. Well, then, would her shake not be appropriate? For the Peshwa that had claws or talons, the Khan had ordered them filed down to avoid accidentally clawing anyone. But did it not mean she was constantly armed? And though she did not carry it now, Ndari was a master at the thorned whip and an accomplished hunter. Perhaps the custom was more based on garb? Among the Peshwa, warriors addressed each other a certain way, Ndari included, but when she wore her silks, she was not greeted as warrior because she was no dressed and armed as one. Gender had nothing to do with it for them.

    As Viantiuscontinued, the very puzzled Ndari reached down and lifted her lehenga, flapping the long skirt with her arms as Lestari flapped her wings. It felt ridiculous, really, but if that was how womenfolk greeted people here, she'd do it too. But she hadn't seen any women flapping their skirts at her... Then Viantius pinched the air, as if picking up fabric and moved elegantly. Ndari visibly grimaced, would her shortcomings not end? "I see," she said with a sigh, ceasing her flapping. She let the long skirt drop, moving to pinch the silk and try to imitate Viantius. It was nowhere as graceful, her legs contorted to an uncomfortable position, but she made what she considered a decent attempt. "Thank you Seneschal Viantius. I may need to visit the other princesses and correct them before we embarrass our Khan," she smiled at him before turning, her tongue briefly peeking out when she heard a servant approach.

    Her eyes looked at the elf curiously when she heard the pitch in his voice change. "Chieftain Berkah was calling his sisters to prepare for dinner. We thought it was a low enough noise your people would be unable to hear. They normally cannot hear it even when we are a stone's throw away," Ndari explained once the servant left. It was a deep low noise, one that was more felt on a Peshwa's skin than heard by their ears. The Peshwa were deeply attuned to noises that did not disturb the air overly much to avoid scaring off prey if any of the tribes were hunting. Ndari was curious how Viantius heard it. Had he roamed near where the Peshwa travelled before? Or had he been nearby when Berkah made the call? "If the noise upsets you, I could have a word with Chieftain Berkah," she offered, even as she moved closer to follow him to the dining hall.
     
  9. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    “I have not been a sceneshal all my life, Lady Ndari,” Viantius explained, turning slightly and began to walk the opposite direction of the servant, assuming she would follow. “You pick up on a few things when they matter. So when the chieftain called his sisters, I happened to pick up on it.” At the offer to talk to Berkah about the noise, Viantius simply waved it off. “No, no. Let him do as he wishes. I am fairly certain no one that he could upset would even pick up on it.” As the two of them made their way through the palace, Viantius kept the conversation going, speaking about himself and asking Ndari about any experiences she may have had with this thing or that. None of the subjects grew close to anything that would be considered sensitive from a political point of view. Viantius was simply entertaining a guest and that was all. And before long, the two finally made it to the dining room. It was the smaller of the two that the castle had for gatherings and thus the more private. In fact, aside from servants buzzing around a fair distance away from the table -only coming close to fulfill a need or place food down- It was just enough room for the Chieftains, the Khan, their families, and then three chairs near one end.

    Cromwell had buried himself in work in the meantime. He was not intending to turn this private dinner into a preemptive negotiation or war room meeting, but he wanted to be ahead of the curve… or at least on par with it. The conversation with Viantius came first, with shared skimming of the documents. It took a majority of the time for them to guess as to what each house that was present was thinking, as well as how the houses that were not present would react. Once they were done, Viantius went off and sent the guard captain to Cromwell, giving Cromwell a bit more time to more thoroughly read the reports. It was a whirlwind until a servant knocked on his study door and said that the Khan and Chieftains were prepared for dinner. Cromwell sent the same servant off to find Viantius and inform him while Cromwell put away the documents. The jerkin was left behind and the sleeves of his doublet were rolled up as he went about making sure he was presentable. Because of this, Cromwell was the last to arrive. Fashionably late by his court’s standards.

    “Forgive me, I had some last minute logistics to take care of,” Cromwell said, despite the technicality that it wasn’t last minute overall, just him overworking once again. Cromwell took his seat at the empty chair at the head of the table opposite the seat for the Khan. To his right, Viantius sat, and his left stayed empty. Food was already loaded onto the table within reasonable reach for all of the guests. As he whipped the napkin out onto his lap, a soup was place in front of him by a servant, seeing as he had come in at the tail end of the appetizer and soup section of the meal. “I hope everyone is comfortable with the arrangements made for you all?” he asked. “It is rare for us to have this many guests, so I worry for the staff’s efficiency and behavior.”
     
  10. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    Ndari smiled and bowed her head. It was a bit deeper than the bows probably seen in Redwater. The Peshwa, made up of the more 'monstrous' tribes, did not bow to show off the tops of their heads. They bowed to bare the back of their neck, similar to how Elang and his wife made their wings vulnerable to show respect. "I understand the Mauler tribe does roam places that other people would have more access to," she acknowledged. There was a vicious bend in a river that ran through Tholimiundura, the waters roaring in merciless rapids. The Maulers would use their animalistic strength to fish there where no common humanoid would dare, as well as gather the smoothest of river stones to carve into amulets and charms that their merchants sold. They also roamed forests and plains, difficult but not impossible, for adventurers to traverse. The Maulers, as all Peshwa, invited travellers to their cookfires and camps if they needed a place to rest. The Peshwa did not turn away the weary, they only avoided urbanized areas. After all, one or two travelers could spread stories of how welcoming the Peshwa were; a whole city could panic over a misunderstanding and have the Peshwa killed. It would be no surprise if Viantius, in his long life, had encountered the Mauler tribe time and time again.

    Of course, dinner was to, at least to the Peshwa, a very amusing start. As promised, Chieftain Berkah had returned to his humanoid form. It hadn't done much, he still looked very much like a bear. He loomed over others, even if he didn't reach the Khan's height, his body rippling with muscles under a layer of insulating fat. He wore casual robes, since formal ones matted his body hair, which might as well have been fur, and what skin could be seen was covered in lacework of scars from a lifetime of hunting... and being hunted. Among the Peshwa gathered, it was likely Berkah and his Mauler sisters that made the servants the most nervous, especially since Berkah's Common was poor and when he spoke in Peshwan, the syllables were gruff and low in his throat, as if he was growling. It did not help that due to the odd table, he leaned forward to try and look at the other Peshwa to speak.

    The Khan, on the other hand, could barely pick up the silverware laid out to enjoy the soup and small appetizers. While the Chieftains and their princesses grinned, but did not laugh, the Winged triplets were not so disciplined. Ares and Danni laughed openly as the Khan repeatedly tried to hold the soup spoon between his index and thumb, delicately bringing to the massive height of his mouth, only to drop the flimsy thing on his beard. The Khan did not look insulted; perhaps the Peshwa were not as rigid as the humanoid races. And they were not. Theirs was a hard life; laughter made that hard life bearable. Eventually, the Khan had given up and just lifted the bowl to his lips, finishing the soup in two gulps. Using the bowl as a shield, his long, clearly inhuman tongue snaked out to clean his beard of the soup he'd spilt into it. He eventually set the bowl down and turned to a servant. "Delicious," he had boomed, earning chuckles from the Peshwa gathered before the Khan could remember to control his volume in such an enclosed space. "Please compliment your cook—" "Chef, Khan." "—Chef for me," he said before looking up as King Cromwell entered.

    The Khan stood and the Peshwa followed, all moving to bow at the King. "Now, King Cromwell," the Khan chuckled as they all resumed their seats. "I know you are used to such good food but your chefs have worked hard to please you and your guests," he said, slapping a hand on the table amiably once the King was seated, making everything rattle as the other Peshwa reached forward to make sure candles and centerpieces and drinks did not fall. "Everything is perfect, your majesty!" Puspa called to Cromwell from across the table. She leaned forward, batting her eyes at the king, earning gagging noises from her brothers. Lestari immediately folded a wing separating Puspa from Danni and Ares before the triplets could start fighting. "King Cromwell," Ndari called for his attention. "Permit me to introduce Princess Pertiwi. She is Chieftain Soleh and Chieftess Marshandah's daughter of the Centaur tribe," Ndari gestured to the new olive green half-orc sitting beside the Chieftess. Pertiwi bowed her head shyly. "She tells us that your people have been most accommodating to ours where they have set up camp," Ndari continued, since Pertiwi seemed unwilling to talk.
     
  11. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    “Or so you would think,” Cromwell said, his tone insinuating a jest. “What I am used to is what is put in front of me. I don’t think the head chef appreciates the schedule I set for myself.” The table rattling and the movement of Lestari’s wing was enough to prevent Cromwell from properly seeing who he had to address for that last comment, so he had to let it go for now. Not everyone needed to be addressed at every point. They all knew that it was just him with them right now, he couldn’t possibly get to them all. As Ndari’s clearer voice reached out over the normal bustle of the crowd. Cromwell nodded to Pertiwi with a kind smile. “It is a pleasure to meet you Lady Pertiwi. I do hope that we set aside enough land for the camp. If you or another tribe feels that more is needed, do not be afraid to ask,” Cromwell said. “I am fairly certain there are a couple more fields that are currently out of rotation.”

    Cromwell did not eat much of his soup as he made small talk with each of the tribes that he could not get to when they had arrived:

    “Chieftain Berkah, The town of Alvarn actually sent a petition to the council recently,” Cromwell said. “Apparently they are upset that your tribe has been unable to pay them a visit, and were willing to provide an escort to keep in touch with you if this meeting was not scheduled.”

    Speaking through whoever would translate, Cromwell turned to Marshandah. “Chieftess Marshandah, some of the minor houses are eager to see if you have brought any of your tribe’s mounts to sell. While I admit equine culture isn’t in the general appeal of Tholimiundura, a good mount is always in demand.”

    “Chieftain Arief, I’ve heard you and your tribe do not come down from the mountain often. Are there any accommodations that I should keep in mind to help with this temporary transition?”

    Finally, the main course was brought out, with Cromwell’s leftover soup being taken away in preparation. Servants began to swarm, cleaning up entree dishes and loading the table with a plethora of food. A massive roasted boar was placed near either end of the table, with seafood and poultry alternating so that no one had to call down the table to access either. It was extravagant and well seasoned, with sauces and vegetables that compliment the dish in question nearby. It was apparent that Cromwell was doing his best to make sure only the best was available for this first dinner in Redwater that the Peshwa would have would be as best as it could be. As everyone filled their plates and sampled the food, Cromwell picked at his for a moment before setting his silverware aside and interlaced his fingers in front of his face. With a subtle wave, Viantius signaled the for the servants to vacate. Cromwell had grown a bit somber, as if he was about to disclose a painful secret. “Khan Agung. While I do not intend to get into details of our negotiations before the meeting, I do think it is important that I explain to you the stances that you… that we will encounter during the talks,” he said. “Just as you may have chieftains that disagree with your decisions, there are members of nobility who hold their own opinions and agendas when it comes to my decrees.”
     
  12. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    Pertiwi flushed at the attention, turning her skin a muddier green. Marshandah furrowed her brows, turning to her daughter. "Apa yang dia katakan kepadamu?" she asked. Pertiwi shook her head and Ndari leaned forward. "Tidak ada yang menghina, nyonya. Dia meyakinkannya bahwa jika orang-orang kami tidak memiliki ruang yang cukup, ia dapat mencoba untuk menemukan lebih banyak," she rapidly said and Marshandah relaxed before clicking her tongue at her daughter. Pertiwi folded her hands in her lap and sighed, but Ndari beamed at Cromwell. "The Peshwa are good at utilizing small spaces, King Cromwell, but we thank you for the offer. I'm sure the Khan will alert you if our people feel they need to request more room. Ey, Khan?" Ndari called to the opposite end of the table. The Khan's bushy eyebrows rose, hands caught near his mouth as he helped himself to another appetizer, having given up on the tiny utensils. The Khan rumbled and Ares leaned over. "The Khan said he couldn't hear you!" the boy half-shouted. "Ares!" Lestari tried to pull her son back.

    "Apologies, King Cromwell. We are not used to such distance. We normally eat at a cookfire," Wangi chuckled as Ares protested his innocence to his mother. The Mauler princesses each looked surprised when Cromwell told them a town was upset they had not travelled through. Berkah looked towards Kemining, the oldest of his sisters. She quickly translated and Berkah hummed, which sounded like a low growl. "We go where prey goes," he grunted at the king. "What my brother means is that we normally follow the animal migrations. We have never had a set route before, though our traders may be a different story. It is not in our general nature to tell our people where to go. They follow the winds and earth if they do not hunt with the main tribe," Keminingexplained. "But we can certainly suggest to our traders to keep your town of Alvarn in mind," Melati interjected.

    Marshandah had looked up when Cromwell addressed her. Though she did not understand, she was a warrior and gave the king her full attention, her eyes never straying. Once he finished, she turned to Pertiwi. The princess startled before murmuring to her mother, who nodded. She turned back to Cromwell and smiled. "Kami punya kuda untuk berbagai keperluan. Jika anda memiliki pengantin pria yang ingin berbicara dengan orang-orang kami, kami dapat dengan mudah mengaturnya," she said agreeably. There was a moment of silence before she looked at Pertiwi and sighed. Once again, Ndari leaned forward. "She only sells horses to non-Peshwans but she has many available. From work to draft to fast and war horses, the Centaur tribe breeds them all. You're more than welcome to send a stable master to her people to see her stock," Ndari translated.

    She turned to her father next and translated for Cromwell. Arief looked startled before turning to the King and merely shaking his head. "Baba, er... Chieftain Arief thinks you are being more than gracious. The Komodo tribe are very hardy people. It's a bit warmer here than in the mountains so we may ask for more water for our people and our mounts, but otherwise, we are fine," Ndari said, patting her father's shoulder. Arief clicked his tongue at her, earning a grin from the princess. "King kind to worry," Arief said haltingly, his tongue clumsy on the Common syllables. "Er," Ndari seemed to think about asking Cromwell something. "I don't suppose you could... express to your court that the Komodo are very sensitive to smells?" she asked slowly, hoping she had not worded it offensively. "Perfumes and colognes can be very strong for us."

    "Yeah!" The triplet boys sprung up in excitement when they saw the boar, already wielding their dinner knives like hunting blades. Elang tsked sharply at them, grabbing them both by the scruff of their neck and forcing them into their seats, Puspa snickering at the display. The Peshwan tribes seemed amused by this, the Khan chuckling as he said something to Elang. The Chieftain sent this Khan a withering look. "If you like them so much, you take them," he sighed, earning another laugh from the Khan. Arief and Ndari, though, seemed to sense a change in the air first, their tongues briefly peeking out, turning to Cromwell while the others continued to talk. The Khan lifted his head when Cromwell addressed him from across the room, and the other Peshwan took notice, turning to their host King as well.

    "King Cromwell," Khan Agung straightened in his seat, greatly increasing his height. "With respect to you and your efforts, I assure you when I say the Peshwan are very used to being treated as something lesser than most of your citizens. I do not wish to be grave before you as you share your company and your food with us but if these talks do not end in a favourable way, the Peshwa will be leaving. We will thank you for your efforts, but my people come first, as I'm sure yours does for you," the Khan said slowly, nit disturbed as a few princesses leaned over to translate for their Chieftains and Chieftess. "However, if you and your court deem it fit to assist the Peshwa, know that our memory is long and clear. This would be a debt we would be happy to repay for generations."
     
  13. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    As he had a conversation with each of the tribes, Cromwell stored the information away, wanting to ease everyone into their stay at the capital. While much of what he was saying was being misinterpreted, he did not feel that it was important to correct them. It was all harmless. And when Lady Ndari finally spoke of her own people’s needs. Cromwell nodded and spoke. “Of course Lady Ndari. Though I can not guarantee that they all will respect that wish, I can make sure that each of them are told not to overuse,” Cromwell said. “Besides, it would be impolite if I did not repay you for translating for us.” Even as the kids erupted over the food, Cromwell had input on the matter that Elang and Agung were going back and forth on. “If things go as we hope, I would be more than happy to accept the boys in my home and allow them to get militaristic and academic tutelage here in Redwater… if Viantius does not mind keeping them on their studies.”

    Once the Khan addressed him on the subject that Cromwell brought forth, it was finally time to correct a misinterpretation. “I am sorry, Khan, but you misunderstand me,” Cromwell said bluntly, while his voice still deep and friendly, the delivery of his words dropped. “The Houses of my court are not puppets I put in place. They are families who earned their positions long before my time. Thus, there are some who I can trust and that trust me completely, some that are loyal despite the hatred they possess. Some believe I am running the kingdom into the ground. And the majority can go in whatever direction that serves them the best, or is most enticing. This is what they would call ‘civilized’ politics.” Cromwell put his arms down to frame his bowl so that his face may be fully seen as he continued. “I am not using this dinner to prepare you for the worst or to save reputation. I am using this dinner to ensure we have the best chance to succeed.”

    There was a bit of silence in the dining hall after Cromwell finished with that statement, his eyes shooting about to make sure that everyone who could understand him understood his words correctly. “Normally, this dinner would not be happening, and the noble houses would be sending the heads of Great Houses to have a dinner with us all present. It would be a political ambush, as most of them would be trying to get you to be disrespectful or aggressive, while only a handful would try to prevent such things or recover as it all happens. But because you’ve come from so far, and I have enough houses on our side for this, they chose to cancel that dinner in exchange for a gala…” Cromwell stopped and thought for a moment, trying to describe a gala to himself to rephrase his choice of words. “... A very formal party before and during the negotiations. It will allow all the houses meet all of the Peshwan nobility while the Council and I eventually negotiate with Agung and those who he would call as council later into the night. I want to make sure each of you know who your friends are, who your enemies are, and who you can attempt to persuade.”
     
  14. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    For the first time did the Peshwan stiffen at King Cromwell's words. Recent generations of Tholimiundura and the Empire of Resplendent Sunlight, until the recent expansion that caused them to flee, had seen fit to leave the Peshwa alone. Monsters they might be, but they were civilized monsters that generally kept to their own. But this was not always the case. Some races of the Peshwa were long-lived and could still remember the witch trials and monster hunts that tore apart families and communities and nearly caused wars. The Khan was one such race; his own grandfather had been beheaded before him, the head put on a pike and the body left for a sky burial. While war had never come to be announced, the Peshwan had become even more reclusive and were fiercely protective of their young. Even the triplets had gone quiet, sitting back in their chairs, though they did not hide from Cromwell's sight.

    But the Khan started to chuckle and leaned forward. "If you want to teach them while we take advantage of your hospitality, King, I welcome it. I only apologize for the grey hairs I expect to see on your Seneschal's head soon," he rumbled, and the rest of the tribes relaxed. "What about me?" Puspa asked, feeling left out. "Mmm, I do not know, little one. We are strangers in a strange land and I may be assuming but I do not think women warriors are as common here," the Khan admitted. Puspa seemed aghast but the Mauler princesses leaned in. "I'm sure if you ask the King and Seneschal Viantiusnicely, Puspa, they might could think of a curriculum for you too," Wangi said. "If not, we are all together as we would in the winter camp. You can train with us," Kemining pointed out. Sated, Puspa sat back in her chair.

    The tribes looked up again when Cromwell's tone shifted. There was no alarm among them, though, only confusion. The nuance of language was starting to escape them and they exchanged glances to see if anyone could figure out what the King of Tholimiundura was trying to say to them. "We would not assume your noble houses are puppets bent to your will, King," the Khan said slowly as if double-checking his own Common as he spoke it. The Peshwa did not always understand the wars that happened between nations, or even within nations. But watch them from afar, they still did. "Perhaps our Common is not so good," Ndari said, just as slowly as the Khan before turning towards Cromwell. "If we are to understand correctly, are you saying this... gah-lah... is to prove we are not monsters?" she asked. "That we are worth sheltering in your country?"

    The Chieftains stiffened, not quite able to keep up with the conversation, but they recognized the word 'monsters'. "I know you are used to speaking diplomatically, King Cromwell," Elang started. "But we do not speak your tongue as eloquently and we are a plain-faced people. Princess Ndari seems to have interpreted your words the same way I have. It sounds, to me, that some of your noble houses are ready to oust us as barbarians and you have barely enough siding with you for just tolerating us this long," he said sharply. A rumble from the Khan had Elang sigh, leaning back. "King Cromwell," Agung waved a large hand to silence his people. "Be assured that in recompense for your efforts, we will do as we must under your guidance to win the favour of your courtiers," he said simply before turning, speaking in the Peshwan tongue. Berkah growled lowly, though all the Chieftains and their family looked none too pleased with what they heard.
     
  15. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    Cromwell sat and thought on the words that Ndari tried to offer for a moment. It was a delicate procedure to try to get the point across without coming off as rude or being misunderstood. He needed to choose his words as carefully as possible moving forward, more for the sake of the Peshwans understanding him than out of ceremony. During this time of thought, Elang spoke up and elaborated as to what he understood. “Some of them see you all as nothing more than savages, yes,” Cromwell said very matter-of-factly, finding and taking the thread that he wanted to follow. “Others are like Alvarn, and know you are simply people like them. And there are more still who are just scared. Whether that fear is because they know your people through rumor only, or because they fear the Empire of Resplendent Sunlight will retaliate, or because they do not see the benefit and fear for our wealth, resources, and society suffering from the refugees, it depends on the House. What the Gala will allow you to do is ease the minds of those families who are scared.”

    Cromwell waited for his words to be translated in full, keeping an eye on Elang, Agung, and Ndari specifically, to see if they stumble over a word that they are trying to share. Once he noticed that all of them were up to speed with what he had explained. The growl from Berkah was a bit foreboding, but for now that was not something that he could deal with. “Any discontent with how this situation has to be handled can be handled once you all know which houses can and cannot be trusted,” Cromwell said, giving a stare at Berkah, but intending his words for all of those who are uncomfortable.

    At this, Viantius cleared his throat and spoke up himself. “I would like mention that while King Cromwell very much prefers to be amicable, this is not a time to worry about everyone’s disposition,” Viantius said, his eyes darting to Cromwell. The steward knew there were things his young King would not say, and thus he quickly added more. “Small discomforts compared to the much larger one.”

    “Viantius,” Cromwell said, his soothing deep voice taking an unexpectedly natural transition to one of command on that single name as his gaze locked onto the older elf. Viantius bowed and sunk into his chair, effectively removing himself from the conversation, though that was a sly smile across his face as he completed what he had intended. Cromwell may have been raised by the elf, but his father had instilled upon him authority and respect of the spoken word from a very young age. An authority refined to one that spoke clear and true to those looking for it, and one that could rattle fear into the traitorous or insubordinate. Turning back to the Peshwans, Cromwell chose to sigh. “Perhaps we should start with the Houses that approve of you? Or would you rather know the name of your enemies first?” he asked, the calm and friendly tone that the Peshwans were used coming back.

    Upon being told which the Peshwans wanted to hear of first, Cromwell went began to describe each of the Twelve Great Houses, and the thirty minor houses. The Twelve Great Houses formed main council body, with House Aslegar being the King and judge during the council meetings for the past 5 generations. The thirty minor houses all held seats on the council as well, though their voice and vote was not as strong as a Great House’s vote. Majority must rule for something to pass. As the reigning house, no minor houses were directly associated with House Aslegar. The only other house to have this same treatment was House Apostroph, as they were the ruling House who was voted down from rule. No family, minor house or otherwise, fits their… personal criteria. Each other Great House has three minor houses serving almost like vassals. Of the three Great Houses that did not approve of the Peshwa, House Apostroph, House Ulpilli, and House Freedman were those who stood against them. House Apostroph has influence everywhere, but because of their lack of minor houses, they had no true power. Their voice was their biggest weapon. House Ulpilli is a militaristic faction, known for their tactical genius and physical prowess. While House Freedman was a house of merchants, competing viciously with other Great Houses for trade. On the other hand, House Galmar, House Frey, and House Zaygon. House Galmar was the Great House who controlled production. House Frey was another merchant house who was constantly in dispute -and thus a large reason for their support of the Peshwa- with House Freedman. House Zaygon was a house of magic, leaders of the academy and, though few in number, a major contributor to the military.

    With House Aslegar as the leader of the council, they only held a vote when it came to breaking a tie. Thus, the Peshwa had to contest with Houses Apostroph, Ulpilli, and Freedman in convincing the other four Great Houses -and by extension, their minor houses- to side with Houses Galmar, Frey, and Zaygon. Cromwell went into great detail, describing and explaining each Great House at length for the Peshwan’s sake, to the point it grew late into the night and the triplets found themselves asleep in their chairs after dessert was finally brought in. He took time to pause and answer questions and clarify to the smallest detail, so everything was clear and made sense for the more politically minded Peshwans. As the time went on, the worry that Cromwell held since the Peshwa were invited slowly began to show more and more on his face, if not his voice. He was trying his best to do right by them, and this crash course was quite a bit that they absolutely needed to understand before they even stayed a night in the castle.

    Luckily, for all of those involved, Viantius knew when it was appropriate for Cromwell to stop. The casual clearing of the throat and pulling of a pocket watch was enough for Cromwell to finally stop and sigh. “I am sorry for this barrage,” Cromwell said, standing and bowing low. “Just as I am sorry for taking up so much of your time after a long travel. I hope that I have prepared you properly for your stay in my capital.”
     
  16. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    Elang leaned towards Lestari and murmured something. She nodded and leaned forward, gathering food on the triplet's plates. Once they were full, she made a crooning noise at them, lifting her wings slightly. Ares and Danni slid out of their seats, grabbing their plates and moving to exit the room. Puspa sent a sad look at the table's occupants before sighing, taking her own plate and marching back to their room under the watchful eyes of Lestari. "Apologies, your highness. We do not involve the children in political talks at that young of an age," Elang said before a hostile bitterness, while not aimed at the King, entered his voice. "Too often are our people's childhood stolen away from them." If stares were weapons, Elang would have bored a hole into Cromwell's fine table, but the Khan patted his shoulder and Elang nodded slowly, the tension easing from his shoulders. "My wife will see the children eat and they will return for dessert," he finished.

    "This is my blunder, King Cromwell," Khan Agung said, waving Elang away when the Chieftain started to protest. "I had assumed this was merely a dinner to welcome us to your home, which is why I had the Chieftains invite their family. Had we known this was to include more official matters, I would have only had the Chieftains and one family member capable of assisting in translation come. Mealtime for us is not a time for work but for family and friends," the Khan explained before sighing, settling into his chair, even as it protested beneath his weight. "But these are extraordinary times and extraordinary circumstances. Please, continue," he nodded.

    Berkah lifted his lip, discontent with the translation whispered towards him. "Jadi dia ingin pertunjukan aneh?" he snapped, Kemining reaching forward to rub her brother's arm soothingly. "Sudah kubilang, Khan, kita tidak bisa mempercayai kulit yang lembut." The Mauler princesses shifted uncomfortably before Wangi leaned towards the Khan. "Perhaps we should excuse ourselves?" she asked him but the Khan shook his head. "Berkah, King Cromwell means well," Agung said. "Tapi rakyatnya tidak!" Berkah stood, making the plates rattle. "Saya tidak akan berpawai di depan mereka seperti binatang buas yang dijinakkan!" he roared, his skin darkening. "Duduk!" Arief said, he and Marshanda standing as they glared at Berkah, not flinching when the Mauler chieftain turned on Arief, Berkah's eyes darkening. "Kepala Suku Berkah, rakyat kita membutuhkan sekutu. Kita bisa aman di sini. Kami berutang kepada orang-orang kami untuk mencoba," Ndari said, putting a hand on her father's arm as she stared at Berkah.

    "Duduk, Berkah," Agung said in a low tone. Berkah stood there a moment longer before snorting, collapsing into his chair as his skin became smooth again. "Ndari is right," he said, looking at each Chieftain as everyone resumed their seats. "We owe it to our people to try," he nodded at her, but Ndari's lips only tightened, not pleased by the situation either. And so the dinner went on, though the Peshwans barely ate. It was habit more than anything. Food was to be enjoyed, and if enjoyment was not happening, they did not eat. Their lives were hard and harsh, so whenever they could, they kept what pleasures they had seperate from the hardships they endured. They did take food onto their plates as the courses were served, but it was mostly forgotten as princesses translated for their Chieftains save Elang and the Khan.

    Of the princesses, Pertiwi merely translated for Marshanda. Otherwise, she kept her face down, looking like she wanted to be anywhere but within that room. Both Kemining and Ndari openly participated with the talks between mid-translations but Kemining would also be tasked with keeping her brother's temper in check, the Mauler chieftain clearly in distaste of these talks. Lestari did eventually return with the triplets, carrying the plates as Ares and Danni raced back to their seats, Puspa following primly behind. "Did we miss dessert!?" Ares demanded, only to grimace when Elang lightly smacked him between the wings. But the Peshwans finally smiled, some of the heaviness lifting as they watched the kids. Lestari thanked a servant as they took the dishes from her, moving to sit by her husband and leaning in so he could fill Lestari in.

    She looked concerned, shooting Cromwell a sad look. "King, my Common... very bad. Do not want to shame Peshwa or you for kindness," Lestari said slowly. "She means she doesn't want to look ignorant at the gala," Ndari supplied, to which Lestari nodded. "If these Houses that oppose us have already made an opinion about us, it would be difficult to combat such opinions. Perhaps it would be wisest if our Khan gathers the tribes and discusses who should be present at the gala to represent Peshwa," Ndari suggested.
     
  17. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    “It was my mistake for not knowing the customs of the Peshwa, Khan Agung,” Cromwell said. “A common saying for us and our trade partners is that ‘Wars are waged on land, sea, and plate.’ Private meals with limited servants make for the best time to discuss such matters away from prying ears in this culture. As you may have noticed, the number of staff that has been allowed in this room has been steadily decreasing as per instruction.” Before much more could escape his mouth, Berkah began his uproar. Cromwell scowled a bit, but did not interfere with this matter any further. He had already made his declaration earlier to the chieftains, if the translators did a proper job. There was nothing more he could do directly. As he patiently waited, his hand slipped up to allow his chin to rest in it, partially covering his mouth for a moment. In that moment, Cromwell whispered to his side. “Seventh star of the moonlit veil resting along the waterside as it diverts,” he said, before moving his hand to properly hold his head as this argument went on. Viantius simply tapped twice with his index and then once with his ring finger on the table in subtle acknowledgement.

    As the conversation finally continued and the triplets were finally brought back into the room, the topic of the gala was properly broached, Cromwell nodded at the suggestion. “It would be a wise decision, to be sure. The major concern is that the negative opinions do not spread,” Cromwell said. “I would suggest to bring the politically minded, and those with a tolerance for veiled insults. And of course, accurate and able translators. If any of the tribes you wish to allow to join, Khan, wants to learn Tholimiundurian etiquette for the occasion, then something can be arranged. Show the undecided houses what I already know: That the Peshwa are a people of respect and culture.” With the immense amount of conversation that had been had this night, Cromwell was understandably a bit tired, though there was no point in which he wished to stop before he did. Now with the mood lightened and most of the information available, it was time to preserve what little he could. The voice of an Aslegar was valuable. “Well, I believe that is enough for tonight. Any more and I may be unable to speak with you clearly tomorrow,” Cromwell said, a hint of a joke in his voice. “It is rude of me to do so, but I must excuse myself for the night. Viantius is able to answer any questions that you may have in my absence.”

    With the private dinner technically over now, Cromwell withdrew himself from the dining room. It was true he was saving his voice, but with how things have begun to shift and settle into place -whether it be the place he intended or not- he needed time to think. There was a bench settled out into the private gardens overlooking the cliff. There was a certain bench, tucked away within the winding paths that held a view of not the city, but the Bay and the sky beyond. It was a preferred seat for Cromwell when he wished to think, without the burden of the city looming within his view. And there he sat, withdrawn and contemplative of the day’s events. Aftar will be calling for a meeting soon, that was for certain. The display of the normal Peshwan demeanor would have offended his ‘refined’ and ‘civilized’ sensitivities. And then there was the issue with Berkah. He did not understand the conversation, but he understood body language enough to know that it had not agreed with the Mauler. Then there was the cultural faux pas of the dinner itself. Had he known, he would have allowed for the dinner to finish and have taken them into the library perhaps to inform them. All in all, Cromwell did not think today was a failure, but it was a much rockier start than he had anticipated.
     
  18. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    "Berkah is not ungrateful to you, though he does not show it well."

    Ndari stood to one side, her eyes almost pitch black in the dark as she looked down at Cromwell. Her tongue slipped out from her lips briefly and she nodded at some new information granted to her. "The Khan is going down to where our people are camped. He will see which Chieftains and possible family would be interested in coming to your gah-lah," she said as she moved to squat. It was not on the balls of her feet, as humanoids tended to squat. She seemed capable of keeping her feet flat, keeping her balance expertly on squared hips. "Of the tribes you met, my father and I are attending. Marshanda has declined due to language but if there is room for him, her husband, the Chieftain Soleh, will attend instead. He is the Centaur she is mated to. She volunteered him with Pertiwi," Ndari smiled in amusement. "Elang will come. Lestari will babysit the triplets. Believe you me, that is for everyone's benefit. The triplets will rob your Houses blind and that will not go well for the Peshwans. Lestari had to already make Ares and Danni return your fancy knives while Puspa took some china cups," she chuckled. The 'magpie' stage of the Winged Ones was dangerous for anyone not familiar with it; offence easily taken over the 'innocent' thefts.

    "As for Berkah, he will not attend. Kemining will go in his stead. Not as an insult to you, I hope you understand," Ndari said before cocking her head. "It is well-known among us, not so much outsiders. Berkah was stolen as a cub, and kept even after being discovered as a Peshwan. He was forced to change back and forth repeatedly for entertainment and was punished if he refused. Now he is very sensitive to being made to perform," Ndari said. "He is humiliated as a Chieftain for not attending the gah-lah. He should represent the Mauler tribe, not his younger sister, but his pride comes second to his people. He will not let his anger destroy our chance." She contemplated before humming. "It does not excuse his broach of manners to you. I know that. I just thought you should know," she said simply before looking out towards the bay.

    "I can see why you like it here. It is quiet. Far away from demanding voices," Ndari said as she rose. She let her tongue peek out again as she peered out to the distance. "The Peshwa are a tiring bunch, no?" she smiled over her shoulder at him. "We always look forward to the Winter Camp. It is a time to reunite with all the tribes, trade stories, see friends, find lovers... But we're all ready to leave by spring. Too many voices in one place," she laughed before gesturing at the general city of Redwater. "You must have the patience of a stalking lioness to deal with so many voices in one place that stays always," Ndari mused before turning towards Cromwell. "What about me? Do you think I should go to your gah-lah? Or do you think I would offend your Houses worse than I already have by merely existing?" she asked, half teasing, half serious.
     
  19. Crazy Shady

    Crazy Shady Lazy Necromancer Member

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    The sudden and immediate voice to his side was enough to startle the King. In an instant, his hand was out and words began to form on his lips. It was a mantra, or at least spoken as one. “Call to my side the faithful ste-” he began, before his a slight rasp in his voice led to a chain of coughing and a cancellation of whatever he had begun. As his eyes focused towards the sound, Cromwell’s heart rate began to drop back to normal levels. “Lady Ndari, you startled me,” Cromwell said, voice a bit rougher but returning to something akin to normal. Upon her crouching, Cromwell slid over on the bench, making enough room for another to sit with a comfortable and respectable distance between the two of them. “You may sit if you’d like, if I had seen you approach, I would have already made room,” Cromwell said before silencing himself as Ndari began to speak.

    Cromwell sat and listened to it all, taking in the particular arrangements that each tribe at the dinner had chosen to assign to themselves. It was a relief that they were planning seriously about this. The ballroom floor was just as dangerous as a battlefield. As the explanation that Cromwell probably would have gotten tomorrow from Viantius was finished, Cromwell sighed a sigh of relief. “Chieftain Soleh will probably not be able to join us in the ballroom, but it very common for galas to spill out into the gardens. So if he feels that that is acceptable, then I would be more than willing to provide accommodations for that,” Cromwell said, clearing his throat once more before continuing. “Berkah is welcome to do as he pleases. I will admit I misplaced where his discontent was aimed, but with what you have told me, then I can understand his reluctance to mingle within a whi…. Within an expectant society like my own.”

    Cromwell cracked a smile. “The Peshwa remind me of when my father still wore the crown. Viantius still finds time to point out how often I came close to having lost manners and etiquette. So I am accustomed to the rambunctious nature… just not so much reacting to it,” Cromwell said, smile on his face beginning to falter. “Someone must listen to those voices, Lady Ndari. I can not know the names of all of my subjects, for Redwater is simply one city in my nation. But I can listen to their problems and work to solve them. And if they can not be solved, I can strive to placate them. If my assumption is correct, those of you staying in the castle shall not be seeing much of me tomorrow. The patriarch of Apostroph will want words with me, and that elf enjoys to hear his own words. So I must listen and plan on how to placate him when he does not get his way.”

    The subject changed once more, and Cromwell grew somber. “Bring forth a caress from the heavenly bodies,” Cromwell said slowly -as to not irritate his throat- twirling his hand and suddenly producing a mote of starlight that hung and danced in the air, illuminating the both of them in Cromwell’s sanctuary with a soft blue-white light. With the light on both of them, Cromwell took a solid look at Ndari, looking at not just her exterior, but also seemed to peer into her very being as well. “Of your people, I believe you and your father would be some of the least offensive. You in particular may even be seen as exotic and beautiful thanks to your complexion. Those against shall be against, and those with us shall stay with us. And as a person, I can already tell you are capable of kindness and grace, not to mention intelligence to match. It would be remiss if you did not join your people at the ga-la,” Cromwell said, slowing down the pronunciation of ‘gala’ for her, before quickly adding with a pointedly joking tone. “Though I am unsure whether some houses will take your tongue as joke or insult.”
     
  20. TeaNinja

    TeaNinja Pro Nocturnal Slacker Member

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    Ndari hadn't moved when Cromwell suddenly held his hand out. Her tongue did slip past her lips once more, tasting the power and the threat in the air. As Cromwell was quick to realize she was not a threat, she hadn't bothered to try and dodge... whatever he was doing. What was he doing? Waving away a potential attacker? No, she'd never seen it but she vaguely recalled the magics of the other peoples around the Peshwa tended to have a more immediate effect that the Peshwan's own grasp of magic. She did shoot him an apologetic look when he started coughing. Had he really not noticed her? Ahh, but Cromwell's peoples did have small noses and his was further obscured with a beard and moustache. And perhaps he had been so deep in thought, he had not heard her very plain footsteps. Or plain to the Peshwans, she supposed. She was used to being naturally quiet, even when not actively hunting. The mountains were a forbidding place. Being quiet meant that even if she was just walking, if she came across prey, she had a greater chance of taking it down.

    She slowly shook her head when Cromwell offered her the seat, but smiled to show she appreciated the offer. They had sat for the entire dinner, and though this place was surely safe, Ndari was still far from familiarity and preferred to be on her feet. "That is a shame. Chieftain Soleh had himself fitted with some fine horseshoes from some of your dwarven smithies for the occasion. Still, he will understand. Most Peshwa do not fit in your cities, one way or another. He, more than most," Ndari said, amusement bright in her eyes. She had not seen Soleh yet but she was curious how he was holding up with heavy metal hammered into his hooves. "Berkah will stay behind. He has already decided and he is stubborn. I'm sure you know that already. He knows he will not be agreeable to the way some of your Houses see fit to talk to the Peshwa. He would call them 'buah mati'. Dead fruit. The shell is still good and pretty, but the inside is rotted and filled with mould," Ndari explained before frowning. "I hope that was not offensive. Many of the Peshwa consider non-Peshwans to be 'buah mati' regardless of where they come from. We are... very accustomed to being treated as lesser but smiled at regardless for the benefits they might glean from us," she said slowly.

    Ndari smiled again, even as Cromwell's faded. "I understand, King, I do. The voices of the people must be heard. Many forget that though we are exalted, leaders as also the servant of the people. They'd make for a poor leader otherwise," she nodded in agreement. "But I also think there is no fault in making sure your own voice is not drowned. That quiet can be healing." She looked around their general vicinity as if to prove her point. "Ai-yeh. It sounds like you're off to coddle a grown baby. We have a few of those, too," Ndari rolled her eyes. "Not all the Peshwa wanted to come here. Some are trying to... what is the word... De-deno... They sling mud at Khan Agung's name for suggesting this attempt for sanctuary. Short-sighted with pride too big for their bodies," she scoffed, glaring into the distance.

    She turned when she heard Cromwell speak behind her in a different tone, squinting as her dark-adjusted eyes were suddenly assaulted by light. She fluttered her eyes a few times as her pupils rapidly shrank until the soft glow was no longer offensive and she gasped. A hand reached out, hesitantly feeling the air around the hovering mote of starlight before Cromwell's voice called for her attention. She lowered her arms and smiled warmly. "What a good dress will do for you," she chuckled, lifting the hem of her lehenga. "But thank you, King Cromwell. Even if you will not admit defeat that I cannot say gah-lah with difficulty," she reached out to pat his arm before leaning in. "Sharp teeth. I'd rather not cut my tongue on that word of yours," Ndari shared before leaning back. "Though I will do my best at the actual event," she promised. She cocked her head, her grin widening at his last statement. "How about you, then? How do you take my tongue?"
     

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