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Meeting with Visitors [Private/Ayero/Azix/Ariella]

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Emperor Yoshiro scribbled across the parchment while waiting for his guests to arrive. He was eager to meet this Ayero woman from the Fanalis Corps, the letter from Octavius had sung her praises and assured him she would be an excellent person to start the military exchange. Accompanying her was the Ambassador Niraj, which pleased the Emperor. By the time the messenger had arrived in Reim to call Azix back to Kou, the man had already left the country and Yoshiro knew someone was very eager for the arrival of the Marquis. Yoshiro slid the parchment to the side, signing another beneath it. Ruling the country entailed much more paperwork than he had ever imagined and it piled higher each day.

Resting in a stand near his desk was a sword, a gift for Ayero for agreeing to participate in the military exchange. It was a Kou-styled sword, meant to be a symbol of unity and also a means to help her integrate into their military structure a bit more easily. His warriors would respect her, regardless of what she wielded, but they would have a special appreciation if she showed she could wield a weapon made in their own land by some of their top blacksmiths. The ‘gift’ he had for Azix was far simpler, but was likely to be much more appreciated than a simple weapon. Ariella had been pacing for weeks, harassing him daily to find out if he had received any word of when the two visitors would arrive. When he had received word of Ayero and Azix being spotted, he had sent word for her. He only hoped he would have a chance to talk for a few moments with his visitors before she appeared.

The guards had been instructed to show the Fanalis and the native Kou man directly to his office, bypassing normal security measures. If he could not trust his cousin, the one who had helped put him on the throne, then he would lose all faith in humanity. Besides, if Azix intended to harm him, he would rather not put the lives of his guards on the line, given what he had seen of his cousin’s dangerous metal vessel. When one of his guards knocked to inform him of the arrival of his guests, he set his parchments to the side before calling out to the guard to show Ayero and Azix into the room while he pushed to his feet.

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Ayero

Ayero
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Ayero drew in a deep breath, exhaling slowly through her nose as she tried to calm her frazzled nerves. While the woman was calm in the face of battle, social situations were an entirely different monster, especially one so important. She was essentially the face of Reim’s military right now while meeting the new Emperor. Clasping her hands neatly behind her back, Ayero steadied her breathing while fighting back the endless stream of poor scenarios that ran through her head. So much can go wrong. I have to do this right.

She was grateful for Azix’s companionship, despite things being tense between the two ever since she had revealed that she knew of Ariella’s death. She certainly couldn’t blame the magician for being upset with her. Had they switched positions, she didn’t think that she would be able to stop herself from pushing him off of the carpet.

As the guards opened the door to Yoshiro’s office, Ayero instinctively straightened her posture and walked alongside Azix into the room. Ayero gave the Emperor a traditional Remian bow, having mulled over her decision of whether to use a Reim or Kou gesture in greeting, finally deciding on Reim as she had come as a representative of her homeland.

”Emperor Yoshiro, it is an honor to be in your country and to take part in the Military Exchange. I hope that this program will help foster a healthy relationship between our countries. I thank you for inviting us here.” Her words were polite, scripted in her head over days of traveling. Ayero preferred to stick to simpler speech, wanting to get her point across without being extravagant. The Fanalis woman straightened from her bow and took her first good look at the Emperor, her face a mask of stone that hid her frazzled nerves.


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Azix Niraj

Azix Niraj
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Back in Rakushou after so many years, Azix felt a bit strange. While he had hated this country for so long, there was something comforting about walking the streets once again. It seemed that he could see shadows of his past around every corner. Most of them weren't pleasant, but thankfully he had Ayero nearby to anchor him to the present. He glanced at the Fanalis as they approached the palace, judging her reaction behind a mask carefully constructed to betray no emotion. Ever since they had revealed their secrets to each other, they had grown distant. What conversation they had was trivial, neither wanting to tread to far, lest their emotions get out of hand.

Outwardly, Ayero appeared calm and collected, her posture reflecting the military discipline that she had grown accustomed to. Yet, Azix detected a stiffness in her stance, as if she was completely out of her element. If he hadn't been so familiar with her, the magician probably wouldn't have noticed it. Azix imagined it was a struggle for her to be in the very country that had invaded her homeland and created a set of circumstances that led to her families death. He gave her a small reassuring smile and gestured towards the palace. "Don't worry, you'll be fine. You ready to do this?"

After confirming their identities, a guard escorted them inside, towards the heart of the palace. Azix took a deep breath before falling in step, unsettled by walking the halls of his former home. The guard brought them to Yoshiro's office and announced their presence before ushering them inside. Azix followed Ayero inside, bowing deeply before Yoshiro, giving him the respect of his position. "My lord. It is good to see you again. I hope you have been well."

The orange magician had never received his orders to return to Kou, so expecting Yoshi to be upset with his sudden return, Azix tried to hastily explain his presence. "I apologize for abandoning my post...I know I should be in Reim, but I had to leave. I'm sure you haven't heard, but...Ariella died. There were too many memories of her there, so I couldn't stay any longer. I'm sorry...I think I just need a few weeks..."


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Yoshi returned Ayero’s Reim-styled bow with a Kou bow, showing her respect before turning to Azix with a grin and a deep bow. At Azix’ explanation, Yoshiro arched a brow and grinned.

“Cousin, I sent a messenger for you, who missed your departure it appears. However, I assume you are here fulfilling your duty as Ambassador to broker this military exchange.”

He gave Azix a small wink to indicate he was not upset with Azix’ disappearance. With Ariella’s apparent death, he had not expected his cousin to be stable, having seen first-hand their level of commitment to each other, along with Ariella’s constant anxiety. He had also smoothed over the ‘official’ portion of Azix’ return to Rakushou after so long before sending the messenger, claiming he wanted Azix to help bridge the military exchange. It had been good luck, indeed, that Azix had, in fact, arrived with Ayero Shiba. Turning to the Fanalis woman, Yoshiro gave her another bow.

“Colonel Shiba, we are honored to have you participate in this exchange. I know there are deep rifts of distrust between our countries, rifts I hope to lessen with this exchange. General Octavius assured me you were one of his best. I would like to present you with a gift, a sign of respect and an offering of peace, from Kou to Reim. I hope it was not too forward to assume you are adept with a sword?”

As he spoke, he reached out for the sheathed blade, resting it across his palms to present it to the woman. The katana was sheathed in a black scabbard with red and gold floral designs painted on it.

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Meeting with Visitors [Private/Ayero/Azix/Ariella] Kvp99ye

“I imagine you both had a very long flight and I will give you an opportunity to rest soon. First, however, I would like to inform you that a dungeon has recently been raised, in the Jade Dragon Mountains. I have not officially announced your arrival yet, so if you wish to partake of the dungeon, you would not be interrupting any plans. That is the second thing that I wished to discuss. A Magi recently appeared in the Temple of the Magi and they are quite eager to meet you, cousin. They should be arriving shortly.”

He kept his words intentionally vague, a small smile on his face. He could see the weariness on Azix’ face, and it was deeper than just travel-weary. It was a weariness of the man’s soul, of trying to stave off the cruelties Fate handed out so regularly. Hopefully, seeing Ariella would put a small glimmer of hope and fire back into Azix’ eyes.

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Azix Niraj

Azix Niraj
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Azix blinked, not expecting Yoshiro's grin or the news that he had been summoned back. His gaze darkened for a moment, feeling that Fate's cruel grip was still tight around him. Azix had traveled exactly where Fate had wanted him, so what plans did it have for him. Fixing his social mask, Azix smiled with a bow. "Of course, Cousin. That is exactly why I am here."

The Ambassador stood silent, not really paying attention to the Emperor as he handed Ayero a gift. He was still trying to understand what Fate's purpose was for drawing him back to Kou when Yoshiro mentioned a dungeon. Azix snapped back to the present and listened carefully. 'A dungeon? I will have to watch the gate to see who goes in. Make sure they are worthy to acquire the power within.' After his mental breakdown, Azix was acutely aware of the damage a King Candidate could cause and he didn't want that power to fall into the wrong hands. If he could prevent the wrong person from obtaining that power, he would.

"Eh, a magi?" Azix's eyes went wide with the implications. His knowledge of Magi was limited to what Yoshiro had told him, but he knew they helped King Candidates in their journey. Of course, the only Magi that Azix knew of was the Contractor, which had ties to Kou. What confused him, was that Yoshi had expressed a dislike of the Contractor, so why was he smiling now?

With an expression of stone, Azix spoke in a chilly tone. "Tell the Contractor I don't want to see him." Not only did the orange magician despise the manipulations of the vile Magi, but he didn't trust himself. He had seen how the Contractor had fed Zhi's delusions and with Azix's current mental state, he didn't want to fall into the Magi's influence. He had enough problems with his depraved thoughts, he didn't need someone pushing him over the edge.


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Ayero

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Ayero had prepared for this meeting by putting her emotions on lockdown. Unfortunately, she had plenty of time during the flight to stew in her emotions—but that also gave her time to figure out how to act. Luckily the woman was good at holding a stern face.

She felt her fury begin to burn the center of her chest when Yoshiro spoke, but was quick to beat it back down before any outward signs of it would show. Despite the new Emperor’s peaceful policies, she instinctively pinned her hatred on him, blaming the young man for his family’s misdeeds whether she was aware that she was doing it or not.

Her expression shifted slightly to one of surprise when Yoshiro held the blade out to her, catching her off guard. She had expected a quick meet before being shuttled off to her first assignment, not presented with a gift. With careful movements, Ayero accepts the sword and unsheathes the weapon slowly, admiring the blade with a swordsman’s eye for a few moments. Ayero ran her hand along the katana’s surface before sliding it back into its sheath and fixing her gaze on Yoshiro once more. ”You are too kind, My Lord. I am familiar enough with the way of the blade to appreciate such beautiful craftsmanship. I thank you for the gift, and hope to put it to good use while here.”

Cutting off your fucking head. Oops, a rogue thought slipped into Ayero’s mind. Thankfully she didn’t verbalize it.

When Yoshiro went on to mention the dungeon, Ayero’s eyes lit up in surprise and she glanced over at Azix to gauge his reaction. He was the one who taught her about dungeons, and even volunteered to accompany her in exploring one. But after their minor falling out, Ayero wondered if Azix would even want to be around her voluntarily. Magi? Is that some type of magician? It sounds important. She remains silent as the two men exchange words but listens closely. Perhaps she would ask Azix about the dungeon and Magi later.


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Yoshiro gave a small chuckle at Azix’ tone and words, understanding the distaste that was more than apparent. He shook his head with the same secretive smile.

“It is not the Contractor. I think you will find you can appreciate this Magi much more…”

His eyes turned to the door as a fourth person was granted entry. The smile on Yoshiro’s face broadened as he spotted the Magi entering, nodding towards the door to draw the attention of his two guests.

“Ayero Shiba, Azix Niraj, may I present the Magi who appeared in the Temple some months ago… I believe you are all familiar?”

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When Yoshiro had sent word to her about the arrival of Azix and Ayero, Ariella had nearly had an anxiety attack and immediately began preparing. In a flurry of clothes and hair, Ari found herself suitable attire, a simple kimono with deep purple flowers sewn into it that matched her hair. She left her hair down and flowing, her golden eyes sparkling with excitement. With a deep breath, she rushed towards Yoshiro’s office, frowning as the guard blocked her path.

“He has asked for a moment to speak with the guests.”

Ariella ground her teeth, glaring at the man, her grip tightening on her staff. With another glare, she had only to raise her staff a few inches off the floor before the guard was shifting to the side with a look of defeat. Ari wasted no time, bursting through the door and freezing at seeing Azix and Ayero there. She had been waiting for months to see her lover again, many a restless night spent longing to see his smile. Joy filled her chest to see him standing there, a scowl on his face as he spoke with his cousin. She took a moment to look at Ayero as well, the other woman looking stiff and uncomfortable and an image of Ayero’s face flashed through her mind from the fateful moment in the room with the Manticore. Tears streamed down her face as she raised a hand in greeting, her mind at a loss for what to say. All of her planning and pining had not prepared her for the sheer amount of relief at seeing two of the most important people in her life.

“Hi?”


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Meeting with Visitors [Private/Ayero/Azix/Ariella] Ari%20Sigs_zpsn7c2bhju
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Azix Niraj

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'Not the Contractor? Then who could he be talking about...' Azix wondered at the smile playing on Yoshiro's face as he heard the door open behind him. Following Yoshiro's gaze, Azix turned around to see who had entered the room. When his eye met the vibrant, golden hues staring back at him, Azix's heart leaped in his chest. As if out of a dream, Ariella stood in the doorway with a nervous smile. Azix's jaw dropped and his mind spun trying to process her appearance.

"A-A-Ari?!" Azix rushed across the room to wrap his arms around her, sweeping the yellow magician off her feet. He peppered her face with kisses, enjoying the feel of her in his arms once again. Azix pulled her back to look her over with tear-filled eyes. "How? I thought you were dead. I saw it through Ayero's eyes." Azix turned to Ayero, the question lingering in the air. Had the Fanalis woman shown him a lie? Was it even possible for the Ruhk to lie? No, Fanalis couldn't even use magic. But how?

Through his excitement, a thought bubbled to the surface of his mind. If Ariella was alive, then why was she here, in Kou? Why not return to Reim to be at his side. Azix's eyes narrowed as he was suddenly reminded of Yoshiro's presence. He dared not voice the question in his mind, unwilling to ruin their reunion. He swallowed it down, stifling the flare of jealousy that had followed and turned back to Ariella. "I thought I had lost you..."


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Ayero

Ayero
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Ayero couldn’t help but frown in confusion, wondering what exactly Yoshiro was going on about. Magi? I don’t know anyone like that. What is he smiling about? Wariness etched onto the Fanalis woman’s face until the door opened, revealing someone who she thought she’d never see again. Her initial reaction was similar to Azix’s, unable to process seeing a dead woman standing before her.

Her heart nearly leapt out of her chest at first, but her own doubts darkened the beginning of a happy feeling. Was this really Ariella? Was it someone disgusted as her, or an illusion? Ayero took her gaze off of the purple haired woman only to glance at Azix as he rushed forward to embrace his love. Azix was a skilled light mage, and if he detected no foul play then Ayero would trust his judgement. When said magician turned back toward her and expressed his disbelief, Ayero could only shrug as a nervous smile began to crawl onto her face.

”Ariella…” After giving the happy couple a few moments together, Ayero couldn’t help herself. With hurried steps she found herself next to the pair, enveloping them both in a tight hug while lifting them off of the ground. She let them down and released her hold after a few seconds before she could break any ribs. Ayero’s face reflected a genuine happiness as she reached up to wipe away a stray tear from under her eyes, too caught up in a whirlwind of emotions to know exactly what she was feeling. ”It’s really you, huh?”


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When Azix rushed forward, Ari melted into his embrace, having longed to see her lover for months. Like a band of iron, Ayero rushed forward to embrace her as well and Ari could not stop the tears from rushing down her face. It had been so long and it had killed her, not sending word to let them know she was alive. When Azix mentioned seeing her death through Ayero’s eyes, she knew she needed to give an explanation. As Yoshiro returned to his paperwork, trying to give them a bit of time to catch up, she began her tale.

She told them both of what had happened in the room with the Manticore, of feeling the stinger pierce through her chest and feeling herself dissolve into nothingness before finding herself in an odd area. She told them about coming to the realization that she had no body and then being transported to the Sacred Space, she rattled on about Ugo and all of the books there and how she had felt so overwhelmed. She tried to keep the explanations as short as possible, knowing there would be time later to give both of them a more complete telling. For now, she was trying to rush to the part where she came back and why she had not sent word of her rebirth.

“Ugo had explained his purpose behind evolving me into a Magi and let me know it was time to return. Unfortunately, he did not explain where I would be returned… or how long I had been gone. I appeared in the Temple of the Magi and soon found out I had been dead for over a month by the time I returned. By that time, I assumed news of my death had reached you, Azix. I thought about trying to contact you with the Journey book, but did not know if you would keep it, after my… exit from this world. After a few weeks at the Temple, Yoshiro showed up. Someone had sent word about my arrival to him, assuming the Emperor would need to be informed. I can assure you, I was not who he expected to have appeared in his backyard.”

She took a deep breath, trying to catch her bearings. So much had happened that she was having problems ordering it correctly.

“I came back here, to the Palace and Yoshiro immediately sent a messenger to fetch you, Azix, under the guise of diplomatic duties. I did not want anyone to know I was back before you, but I did not know of a good way to get in touch with you, that you would trust to be true. When he mentioned that Ayero would be coming over as part of a military exchange, I was so happy, knowing that soon I would see two of the most important people in the world to me.”

Ari bit her lip, ready for the barrage of questions and suspicions. She knew Ayero would especially have a difficult time accepting her rebirth, given the woman had seen her die in front of her, but Azix would also have a hard time trusting that she was who she said she was. He had been through so much in his life, she could not see him just accepting her return without wondering why she had been returned or if she was who she said she was. She turned her glimmering golden hues back to Azix.

“Ugo said one of the biggest reasons I was chosen was not just because of my power or determination, but because I had already found a King Candidate I believed worthy of uniting the world. Imagine Yoshiro’s disappointment when I told him that I had not appeared in Kou to strengthen his power and rule here.”

She ignored the snort from behind the desk as Yoshiro continued signing papers.

“I came back for you… Ugo stressed that the world needed us more than ever, a Magi and a worthy King Candidate, people to unite this world, to push off the swirling threat of depravity.”


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Meeting with Visitors [Private/Ayero/Azix/Ariella] Ari%20Sigs_zpsn7c2bhju
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Azix Niraj

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Ariella had a lot to say, but Azix devoted his full attention to her, standing by her side. He squeezed her hand tightly as she explained the sensation of dying and he stared spell-bound, jaw agape, as she told him about the Sacred Space. He tried to absorb all the details, but it was quite a bit to process all at once. When she finished, Azix let out a deep breath and looked away, feeling a bit guilty. The yellow magician...magi, had been through a lot since Azix had last seen her. His foremost thought was of how she had come back to help him combat the black Ruhk and how he had an ironic brush with depravity in her absence.

Azix shook his head to rid himself of the memory of the infected villagers back in Reim. What a cruel fate... A flicker of Black Rukh fluttered overhead as the thought passed through his mind.

With effort, Azix shoved the negative thoughts from his mind and turned to Ari with a warm smile. Wrapping his arms around her, Azix kissed her forehead softly. "That's quite the adventure you've had. I have some stories to tell you as well, but that can wait. I'm glad you're back, my love."

Turning to Yoshiro, Azix eyed his cousin with a solemn expression. "Thank you for watching over her in my stead, cousin." That he was unhappy that Yoshiro took so long to inform him was left unspoken. While he didn't like it, Azix understood that the Emperor had kept Ari's rebirth a secret to protect her.


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Ariella’s brows pinched slightly at the tiny flutter of black Ruck that fluttered around Azix’ head but it dissipated as quickly as it had come. Ari melted into Azix’ arms, overwhelming relief at being able to touch and see her beloved filling her. She had feared he would reject her or accuse her of being an imposter and she knew that with how incomplete her memories still were, she may have failed any test he might have applied. She recalled most major events, but some of the smaller events still eluded her, swimming in her head with all of the new information she had learned. When Azix thanked his cousin for watching over her, she gave a small smile at Yoshiro’s dismissive hand-wave, the Emperor not wanting to admit he had protected the Magi for selfish reasons. She planned on giving Azix a more comprehensive explanation later, including Yoshiro’s request that she raise a dungeon and her deal with the Contractor.

The thought of her ‘contract’ with the other Magi still ate at the back of her mind, she knew there would be a price for his assistance, but she had needed to know how to fulfill her duties as a Magi and he was the only way to learn until she recovered the full spectrum of her memories. She shoved the thoughts back, focusing back on Azix.

“I cannot wait to finish catching up with you, but I know you and Ayero have to finish up with your official duties. I am sure your uncle would like to see you, he has been busy here, trying to secure Yoshiro’s rule. And Ayero, you should meet up with the squad you will be training with. I am just so happy to have you both here.”


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Meeting with Visitors [Private/Ayero/Azix/Ariella] Ari%20Sigs_zpsn7c2bhju
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Ayero

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Ayero’s gaze was glued on Ariella as she finally pulled away from the already embracing pair before she could crush them. In a rare moment, the Fanalis woman allowed a flurry of emotions onto her face, mouth slightly agape as tears pricked the corners of her eyes. She listened to Ari regale them of her journey, something that Ayero almost didn’t believe and struggled to comprehend.

Ugo? Temple? Magi? I don’t understand any of this…and yet… A gentle smile stretched across her face, though doubts lingered in the back of her mind. Ayero knew that magic was a powerful took, and was vaguely aware of how dangerous it could be in the wrong hands. While it was possible that this wasn’t Ariella, Ayero chose to believe that this was some sort of miracle. Later, once things had calmed down she would ask her friend to explain things to her. Ariella was a patient woman, especially when it came to teaching the non-magically inclined Fanalis.

”Ah…you’re right.” Ayero would nod briefly and blink back her tears before straightening herself and regaining her military posture. Still, she was overwhelmed with happiness that she could not keep the corners of her mouth from twitching upwards. She was as confused as she was happy, but for now she had her duties to fulfil…

[Exit]


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