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Offline Beatrice

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The Castle On The Hill
« on: April 07, 2018, 08:00:58 PM »

The Castle On The Hill
Stories From Pyrena Castle

Pyrena Castle, the heart of the Imperial Government and home of the Imperial Family, has seen many historic events within its halls. With the return of Empress Beatrice how will she approach the changes instituted by Empress Evanthe? What challenges will be faced with a changing and uncertain world?

Also known to possess a semi-functional TARDIS replica in its basement.

[This is a placeholder for now. Expect an updated introduction in the coming days.]
« Last Edit: April 15, 2022, 06:59:24 AM by Beatrice »

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2018, 09:06:34 PM »
Location: Pyrena Castle, Rokkenjima
Time: 9:25 AST

"As we know Abstergo has undertaken development of supercaptivating torpedoes as well as hypersonic missiles to be fielded upon Rokkenjiman submarines, though we are considering a multitude of options in regards to the continued development of our missile procurement," Marshal Admiral Cole said as he reviewed his notes. "However, Rosa Naval Systems has been working on a project of its own during the development of Abstergo's projects and, for various reasons, we've not made its existence known in the public sphere. RNS has kept Imperial High Command up-to-date on its progress with the Project-4 Oceanic Delivery System, or as we've come to call it Isonade."

"Project-4 is a nuclear powered, unmanned underwater vehicle capable of delivering either a conventional or nuclear payload, as well as being immune to anti-missile defence systems that could be employed against an ICBM or SLBM. It will be able to target the naval ports and coastal cities of an adversary, and we're also exploring options for targeting naval battle-groups as well. The Project-4 undersea autonomous torpedo will possess a range of 5,400 nautical miles and, as I understand, RNS is aiming for a speed of 100 knots. In a configuration of last resort Isonade could be called upon to create a tsunami wave up to 1,600 feet tall, contaminating vast swaths of an adversary's coast with radioactive isotopes while rendering the area uninhabitable for up to a century. Naturally such a configuration would most certainly be a deterrent, though conventional applications could expand the mission profile of Isonade."

"Furthermore, stealth technology is employed to elude acoustic tracking devices, while the depths at which it travels allow the element of surprise. While I personally hope we'll never be forced to irradiate a coastal region I cannot discount the deterrent value it represents, especially with the missile developments we've seen abroad. When we further consider the possibilities of striking an adversary from multiple positions, such as the deployment of Project-4 in conjunction with fractional orbital bombardment, allowing for our forces to decisively overwhelm an adversary."

"And where does RNS stand on the development of Project-4?" Euphemia asked. "We presently do not have a firm time-table in hand, as you can appreciate new weapons systems take time to develop, test and, ultimately, introduce. It is a project we are following closely" Cole replied. "Thank you Marshal Admiral, though in respect to Abstergo's missile project I must ask why we are pursuing a duplication of efforts. Would it not be of more benefit to pursue cooperation in such fields?"

"These are projects which were authorized previously in response to platforms such as Zircon with a focus on indigenous capability. If collaboration is sought it is certainly within the remit of the Council to make the necessary approvals to pursue a collaborative approach." "Then I do believe you have the intentions of the Throne before you, and I trust the Council knows to take the steps necessary to make it so."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2018, 04:31:28 AM »
Location: HMY Austrana, Great Northern Sea
Time: 1:57 AST


With the coastline of Achkaerin fading in the distance Beatrice found herself walking about the Austrana as if it were her first time setting eyes upon the Imperial Yacht. Her journey had been long, and much distance remained to be covered, but she felt as if the pieces were beginning to fall into place. Later today she would sit with Rokkenjiman intelligence and military officials to discuss the situation in Seaforth and the Rokkenjiman response, with Austrana already having set course for Somerset so she could offer her support to Evanthe in what was undoubtedly a confusing and difficult situation. Following that, a return to Pyrettania and some much needed time to reconnect with her family, friends and the nation itself.

She looked to her phone, swiping naturally to Alex's number to be greeted with his face and an option to call him, though she stopped short of pressing the button to complete the call. They had found themselves in a situation unthinkable, the distance and time apart not being adequately bridged by letters alone. This too would take some time to mend, though the process in rebuilding their lives would have to begin somewhere. She pressed the button, allowing just the start of a ring to go through, before placing it down on the table beside her.

Picking it up again she repeated the same series of motions and actions, before finally allowing the call to connect.

Alex watched his phone as Beatrice’s face flashed up, the sleek glass and metal device vibrating against his breakfast table. A sigh escaped his lips, a feeling of unease slipping deep into his stomach. Placing a finger on the round icon, he slid it across the screen.

He held the phone to his ear. Silence for a second. “Hel…” he went to say, pausing just briefly, “Hey, Bea.”

"Hello," her reply came after a moment, "I guess a part of me was afraid you'd changed your number by now," she said, an attempt at humour that perhaps sounded better in her mind than it had passing her lips. "We're on our way out of Achkaerinese waters as I speak, bound for Somerset. I'm sure you've heard the news about Seaforth, Evanthe will need someone there to lean on. How are things with you, Adriana, Lucius? It's been so long I've feared I'd be reunited with you all just to find you're all different people. I know that may be silly, though sadly it's been difficult to dispel all the fears in my head. I've missed your voice," she continued, digressing from the previous collection of conversations she'd directed at him.

Alex let out a slight chuckle, "I'm uh, honestly a little confused by it all. I...haven't really followed the news. Though I have a shadow of them vanishing in my head," he mused, "but maybe I've just been playing too much Life is Strange." The line remained quiet for a while longer. "Adriana is...finding it tough. Lucius is Lucius, getting in to all types of trouble. But Adriana...she uh, well...eh," he finished, unable to find words as he shrugged his shoulders.

"I'm sorry," she said after absorbing his words, "Did I reach too high, no," she said dismissing that line of thought. "Our goals were noble, and it's not our fault that slimy prick stabbed us in the back, nor is it our fault that instead of developing their nation and caring for their people the Toshers squandered my generosity and good-will," she said, her tone shifting from somewhat pitiful to angry quite quickly. "We handed them every opportunity in the world Alex, and Offdensen, he took that dream, that seed of peace and perverted it for....for what? As far as I am concerned it is his fault that our family was torn asunder, he put us through this, and our only solace is that he will never see the light of day again as a free man. I know things will be alright eventually but, right now, my heart is filled with so much anger, longing, sadness...it's not a healthy mixture of emotions."

Alex took a moment to allow Beatrice's words to sink in. "I understand," he finally said, carefully choosing his next words. "It was something I...I'm not a criminal," he almost spat down the phone, there was a high degree of bitterness. "That bastard ruined us...I can't," he sucked in a sharp breath, "I don't want anything to do with it anymore. Any of it. Being Emperor, being a Prince...politics, legal stuff, people...people hate me. I...sometimes I do, too."

"I know the feeling," Beatrice sighed, "I mean, with Lucinda things with the Morelanders are quite complicated and may be for some time, but at the same time I had to remain quiet, I couldn't risk my words causing a life to be lost. While it would be nice to disappear, and let's be honest we could if we wanted to, the Imperial Navy wouldn't object if I told them I was taking the Austrana indefinitley and to look to Euphemia for further guidance, but that would be too easy. No, he doesn't get to take everything we've worked for from us. We're going to come back ten times stronger and show him and Mundus our strength so that the next time....no, there will be no next time, they'll know the consequences will be too great to even try."

"Speaking of which," Beatrice paused as she read the report, "Imperial High Command is confident Ichinose will be found guilty of his crimes against Rokkenjima. I understand that, under IRAF regulations, he'll be put to death unless I intervene and utilize my prerogative of mercy." She chuckled for a moment, "However, I've no mercy to grant to those who have betrayed my trust and conspired with enemies of the Crown. He'll be the first example, and hopefully the last. I know we're no fans of capital punishment, but if the military deems it just I shall leave it in their hands."

"That is, unless, you should object?"

Alex was clenching his phone, his hand shaking ever so slightly against his ear. That was a lot of information for him to take in. Lucinda, Morelanders, Euphemia. It entered one ear, escaped through the other. It wasn't that he didn't care, or at least, it wasn't that he didn't want to care - that he certainly did. He'd lost his understanding. He had excluded himself from the world during his time in exile, and continued to do today. "I..." he said, chocking out the words, "I...can't. No more deaths, I..." His voice trailed off, his face scrunched in agony.

During his time in the Nordic region, the Prince of Littlebrook had mostly avoided attention - his responsibilities focused on the daily work and not any wider consequences. He had, for the most part managed to keep the thoughts of those who'd been killed out of his mind. The millions dead, as had been explained in court, were just a number. Yet one day, while coordinating voluntary work  at one of the many shelters, a protest began condemning him for his actions. That evening he began watching newsreels and video footage, reading articles, newspaper stories and Twitter comments, all detailing what truly happened. Numbers became faces, faces became names, names became stories. Stories that he had let end. The thought of allowing someone else to die - it was almost too much.

"I'm sorry, I must sound such a hypocrite to in one breath say my words shouldn't bring one further death just to look cheerfully towards a potential execution. I'll discuss our options with Henry and see what he thinks is best, see if there is an alternative which IHC can consider, 'kay? On a brighter note, I heard Eva cleared out some of the offices from the Castle, moved them across the street from the Dartfordian Embassy, and restored several of the living areas of the Castle. You've a home to return to, when you're ready of course, and no matter what I know there's so much good in your heart. We always did say that we'd take the bad and give back that much more good, did we not? I suppose, just now, you've reminded me that at times I need you to be my rock, my strength, to make the most difficult of decisions even when it would be easier to give in to the darkness."

A member of the crew came to speak to Beatrice, Alex hearing muffled words in the background before Beatrice returned, "I'm due for a briefing soon, but I'll be in touch once we've docked in Somerset, we've a hive of activity upon the Austrana right now with everyone worried about bringing me up to speed. We've been through so much but I am confident the worst is behind us, from here we both need to help the other remember that it doesn't matter what others have said or done, it doesn't change who we are. I love you, I always have and I always will, and that is something no one could extinguish or take from us. When you do come home, I promise you, no one, no force, is going to part us again. I'll let you know if I learn anything and, if Joshua should turn up alive somewhere, I'll send him your best. Until then, you're never far away, you'll be in my heart and in that knowledge I can give everyone an honest smile."

Alex smiled, relaxing at his wife's words of comfort. Although he was not yet prepared to return to Pyrena Castle, he appreciated the gesture."Thank you," he whispered, waiting another moment before adding, "I love you, too. " He took the phone away from,  reaching his hand up to clear away the acidic wetness that had begun to streak down his face. And, for the first time in as many months, the future Dartfordian King slept without a single nightmare.

Jointly written by CGJ and I.

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2018, 01:38:06 AM »
Location: Rochester Palace, Kingdom of Dartfordia
Time: 5:56 AST

“Alex….” Beatrice trailed, her voice becoming strained, “It’s time to go home. Do you know how many lonely nights I’ve had, how many empty halls I’ve traveled, not to speak of the hole in my heart which has grown each day of your absence? We’ve already discussed the situations which aligned against us, I’ve already cleared you of wrong-doing, why do you insist on being so damned stubborn?” As she looked into his eyes and saw the sting her increasing volume was causing she stopped herself from speaking further, instead collapsing into the chair immediately behind her.

“The last time I was there...” he began, not having the opportunity to finish his sentence. “The last time you were there we were betrayed by those closest to us,” Beatrice finished. “We were blindsided, those we trusted to act in the best interests of our nation fell to selfish motivations, that’s not my fault and it sure as hell is not your fault. If we had known Charles was the snake that he is, if we’d known Sumire was conspiring with him, they’d have been removed before any harm was done. All is seen in hindsight, but you can’t let that rob from you your future.”

“I need time to think,” Alex sighed, “I have to think.” “I’ve given you enough time to think, love, that time is gone. I need my husband, Rokkenjima its Emperor, and I can’t accept no for an answer. You can stay here and hide, avoid the hardships if that’s what you think it is, but if you do so it will be without me being involved in your life in any capacity. You’re not a coward Alex, and no matter what some Morelander says about you, I know you’re a good man who does his best for his family and both of his countries. We faced betrayers in our midst alone, and we still stand to this day, well….I stand at least. I don’t know what to call your present condition yet.”

“You’ve used that threat before, damn it Bea do you not understand I’m still shocked, still numb, still figuring things out? What more do you want of me?” he asked, with mild irritation tinging his speech. “You know what I want, I’ve said it enough times. Will you come home with me and make Pyrena a home again? Will you fill the holes that your absence has left, prove to everyone just who you are? Because we won’t be defined by their terms, we’ve done much good in the world and we’ve more to offer.”

“Be that as it may don’t you ever tire of it all? The stress, the constant worry, the attention that has to be paid to each and every detail of our day, I don’t make a half bad teacher you know,” he said with a slight chuckle, hoping to brighten the mood. “True, I cannot deny that, however you make an even better Emperor. Alex, you know I have made mistakes, sometimes meandering aimlessly through the course of international relations, I didn’t know what was wrong at first,” Beatrice said in a more relaxed tone. “I figured it out, though.”

“Oh?” Alex asked, inviting her to continue. “A ship without a rudder has little ability to determine its direction, without you, I have no rudder. I have no force to guide me, to keep in check my more spontaneous moments, no sense of navigation. You are, my love, the other half that makes me who I am; it is because of you that I have done every good and right thing I have. Without you, I’m looking over the bow into a dense fog, not knowing what dangers lay beyond that wall of mist, my vision hopelessly obscured.”

“Please,” she said weakly, “There’s no one else in this world who would have me beg before them, and here I am,” she continued, standing from the chair and falling to her knees, “the Empress of Rokkenjima, living descendant of a deity, and you have me on my knees before you. I know it is hard, I’ve had so many dark days too, but we can’t let those knock us off course. Come home,” she said as she rested her head against his knees.

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2020, 06:35:33 AM »
Location: Pyrena Castle, Chambers of the Empress
Time: 9:10 AST

"Mr. Groves, please," Evanthe motioned to the Councillor as he walked into her Office, "have a seat." He was clearly uncomfortable, however, that didn't concern her much. "Now as I understand you've a tell-all book you're working on, yes?" She gave no time for him to answer, "Well, I've taken the liberty of reaching out to a friend of mine who owns a publishing house and would be able to begin work on your book whenever you're ready to move forward. I am disappointed that someone I talked to as a friend has elected to employ blackmail to effect the direction of the Imperial Government, but in the interests of our former friendship, you may consider this one last act of kindness."

"Thank you?" he asked, uncertain. "Although," Evanthe said with a pause, "should your book contain any fallacies, or any stories born of your imagination, you recognize that you would be giving Mr. Stanley the gift of a lifetime. You see, it has been over a hundred years since a case of defamation of the Crown has been tried in Rokkenjima, and while the penalty for that charge is no longer death, I understand it carries quite a lengthy prison sentence. As it is not constrained to the time upon which an Empress ascends to the Throne, any information which seeks to defame the Empress knowingly is fair game under the law. I trust you've been fully honest, yes?"

Motioning for the phone on her desk she held her hand over the receiver, "Shall I tell them you're ready to begin working with them?" Groves shifted in his seat, "I'll give her one thing, she's clever," he said, referring to Beatrice. "I don't think we need a book documenting our discussions, it was a rather poor premise now that I think of it." Evanthe took the line off hold, "No Michael, your services won't be necessary after all. Thank you for being accommodating nonetheless, Mr. Groves is most appreciative of your interest. Good day to you, too."

"If you're going to threaten me and this Government you'll have to do much better than a pile of lies bound between two covers, Mr. Groves. I want you to take a few days and consider some of your recent statements, perhaps walk back any threats of holding our national budget ransom, and consider the interests of your constituents before running to the press again. You've a host of good ideas despite your recent lapse in judgement, but please, do join the rest of us in the present and the future. Don't cling to a time that has long since passed. You may go now," she said, lifting the lid of her laptop.

Groves slowly stood and attempted to speak again, only for Evanthe to offer a sweeping motion with her hand. "I have work to do, you may leave. Or do we not have an understanding?" she asked. "We do, Your Majesty," he replied. "Good day then," she said with finality, devoting her full attention to the report on the screen before her.

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2020, 08:14:30 AM »
Location: Pyrena Castle, Chambers of the Empress
Time: 12:45 AST

"I want to be left alone," Event said as the Imeprial Aid attempted to do their job. "I know you're not to blame, but" she paused, "leave me, please, the fuck alone. You want me to speak publicly? Fine," she finally agreed, "give me that bottle of mead over there," she continued.

After her remarks her aides were stunned, "What, even drunk I'm not going to lie. Emerson is awesome, like, who wouldn't be attracted to him? Fucking Joshua, always leaving me with the children for his adventures and not even telling me he's going off? Fuck him, and fuck you if you think I'm a whore; hell, Emerson's already been there for more of their lives the Joshua."

"And if I get blowback for this," she paused, "then good. I'm ready to take on the whole fucking world. I could use a target for my anger. Just clear it by Emerson first," she paused with a chuckle, "I don't want to make his job harder after all."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2020, 09:12:30 AM »
Location: Imperial High Command, Strategic Posture Session
Time: 11:43 AST

"As I learned from Joshua many often overlook the submersible fleet," Evanthe explained to Rowe. "Seaforth commanded immense power, and it wasn't what was seen but that which was unseen which gifted the Kingdom with perhaps its greatest asset: a tactical and strategic capital fleet, as he explained it to me. Whereas Beatrice relied upon overt displays of power we must recognize that such displays are detrimental and serve little purpose in the modern era. This is why the Imperial Rokkenjiman Navy should adapt, learning from a playbook I know well, to protect her interests in current times."

"To accomplish this," she continued, directing Rowe's attention to the screen before them both, "we'll place a greater emphasis upon our power beneath the waves. This enables the IRN to continue operations in areas which would otherwise be hostile and dangerous, such as the Karifan Ocean; platforms such as Zircon don't work so well when their adversary is underwater, while enabling more continuous global coverage without inflaming situations or drawing undue attention to Rokkenjiman intentions. Are you with me?" Evanthe asked, with Rowe simply nodding in reply.

"This will see the IRN organize its submersible fleet into a series of pods, with the Millennials operating on a lone-wolf principle. The Millennials will continue to maintain our continuous deterrence, with areas of deployment in the Kyne, the Krimeon, the Alucard, the Great Northern Sea, and the Sea of Antalin. These missions will be continuous, with rotations taking place on a regular schedule. This leaves current operating policy largely unchanged regarding the continuous deterrence."

"Pods thus form the attack force of the submersible fleet, taking a nod from Seaforth's 'Wolf Packs'. This will see, in most cases, three Rorqual Class submarines and two Serranidaes, once numbers on the Serranidae Class have increased. In the interim we'll see such Pods employed when the situation demands it, such as situations which would require operations closer to shore. Thus, in the interim, most Pods will be comprised of three to five Rorquals. These shall be deployed globally as necessary, providing Mundas-Wide coverage which better enhances the defensive position of Rokkenjima while swiftly increasing our capacity for first-strike operations where they should be required."

"Surface operations shall thus change to support a submersible-oriented doctrine: carriers will be deployed only when Rokkenjima cannot operate from friendly or allied airfields, or in situations which demand Rokkenjiman airpower quickly in a theater which we may not have access to other options for air power. We will emphasize our most nimble and powerful surface vessels, coordinating their operations with the Pods in scenarios where greater firepower is demanded. I think we can both agree that those who speak often and loudly to every little bump in the international arena quickly find their voice diminished, as Beatrice unfortunately learned the hard way. A Seaforthian approach to the application of naval might supplements our diplomacy-first foreign agenda, while honing the strengths of the modern Imperial Rokkenjiman Navy in a manner she wouldn't have considered."

"Your time in Seaforth remains most noticeable, yet that isn't a bad thing mind you," Rowe replied with a chuckle. "Of course Admiral McKenna is a name known throughout the IRN, having worked with the Seaforthians we've been aware of their orientation. Your cousin preferred heavy armour and big guns: dramatic, yes, noticeable, also yes, but an obsolete approach on the whole. We'll set forth the requirements to see the Posture Review is put into actual effect, and I'm sure it's a policy which will be openly welcomed throughout the broader Command. Should we perhaps consider 'pods' in which we welcome Tytorian elements?" Rowe proposed.

"It's an option I'll present to Madam Thatcher the next time we speak. For now, lay the groundwork and have schedules, maintenance and resupply rotations, and the logistics prepared as we implement these strategies."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2022, 09:24:15 AM »
Location: Imperial High Command
Time: 9:47 AST


IRN Tiger as seen on the display.

"Joining vessels deployed by the Imperial Rokkenjiman Kyne Fleet to the Northeast is Tiger," Grand Marshal Rowe explained to Empress Evanthe. "With a compliment of 1,687 Marines it will play a central role should the decision be made to deploy boots on the ground. We've also Pod 7 in the region and, as I understand, Pod 9 has been redirected to provide additional submersed capabilities should the situation demand it. On the surface we've Josiah Rhodes and Kitsune, in addition to their escorts and cruisers. As the situation develops I will certainly provide further updates to Chrysanthemum Throne."

Evanthe nodded, "I leave these matters in your hands. Should the CSTO approve an intervention I will see that any Tytorian-led effort has our full and unconditional support."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #8 on: April 15, 2022, 08:39:21 AM »
Location: Seaforth Castle, Eventide
Time: 4:47 AST


Evanthe and Joshua, some time ago.

It was the sort of day no one wished to end, the sun shining so brightly as to almost transform the sand itself into a sight unable to be looked upon. Newly married and feeling as though her whole life was visible before her Evanthe took a moment to look out to the sea, "I imagine us out there, fifty years from now!" "Fifty years, damn woman, I'm not going to be out on a boat in my 70s tugging on a pullcoard because the engine puttered out not even half a kilometer into the Illumic, I'm more likely to be grilling and enjoying my well-earned retirement." Evanthe chuckled, "How'd you know I was envisioning that tiny little boat when I mentioned nothing of it? Or are you just that good?" she asked as she leaned closer into him. "I can't give away all of my secrets, not so soon anyway. I've got the rest of my life with you, so I'll need something on my side for when you're cursing my name for...."

The alarm sang out its cries on the night stand beside her, 6:47 AM, the scent of eggs, bacon, sausage and a breakfast fit to serve a Royal Court wafted to her bedroom. As usual Joshua had woken up long before her, she had taken to sleeping in following the end of her service in the Royal Navy. After dressing herself and heading down to the kitchen she smiled as the master of the kitchen continued his work. "Good morning," she said as she ruffled Josiah's hair as she walked past him. "Ah, there she is, about time too," Joshua would quip, "any later and all this work would have been for nothing. I know Rokkenjiman breakfasts are different but if you're not getting things fresh off the pan," he continued, sliding the finishing addition of sausage onto her plate, "you're just doing it wrong, my dear." She could only nuzzle his nose and offer a brief kiss before chuckling. "Sir yes sir, by the way, love you too."

Joshua smiled as he carried his own plate and that of his son to the table, "It's a rather big day, and I'm sure you'll be happy to see your cousin when she arrives. I must admit I've missed her, and to imagine there was a point in time our national past time was sending garbage barges to visit her shores." "Please," Evanthe replied after swallowing a bite of bacon and egg, "you don't realize the paperwork that affair imposed on me. Can we not reminisce on it at the breakfast table?" "You have to give the old man credit," he said in reference to his father, "he knew how to do things in a way no other leader could. Anyway, I'm due to renew the lease for QAMB later today and afterwards thought we could all grab some drinks, look back on the crazy road that brought us here, and...."

"Renew...but King Andrew oversaw the closing of QAMB years ago now, and why would you be the one signing? And why am I here....I admit this morning I woke up as if in a fog, but I have the strongest inclination that Beatrice is no longer Empress, either. It could be a dream, but I distinctly remember you and I on the beach, talking of our future, and awaking from that dream, which would just be silly so...." Joshua set his fork down, wiped his mouth with a napkin and looked to Josiah. "Harper's waiting for you outside, it's a beautiful day and I know I promised you some play time so go ahead, get an early start." Josiah jumped from the table with joy and nearly tripped as he ran toward the door to the castle's yard, "Damn," he finally said as Josiah was out of earshot.

"I was hoping it would take you longer to notice," he continued, "but being my wife, there's few things that would get past you. It was just, do you know how long it's been since I've had a normal day with my family? Gods how I've missed you, how I've wanted to sit here with you and Josiah, the life we had before us. Forgive me for taking advantage but yes," he said with a sullen look away, "this day is not real. It's the closest I've felt to anything real in years but..." "You don't have to make your case to me," Eva said as she gently pushed on Joshua's cheek so he was looking into her tear-filled eyes, "...I've missed you more than you can ever know so, even if it's not real...." she grew quiet as she pulled him in for a kiss which would leave each of the six kisses ranked previously amongst the most passionate to most certain shame.

"How...." Evanthe would muster the voice to speak, "I called in a favour with Jekar, he pulled a few strings, guess the Rhodes name carries weight even in the afterlife. That or David has been praying for me," Joshua chuckled. "It was too good to be true," Evanthe sulked, "but this moment is real enough for me and I care not how it came to be. Though if I am dreaming that means I have to, yet again, wake up to a world without you, and I don't know if I can do that again. I've missed you, dreamed of when we'd be together again so many nights, and now that you're here I don't want this to end."

"But it must," Joshua said as he stood and reached out for Evanthe's hand, which she readily offered. "Our boy needs you, you've got your work cut out for you in dealing with Asuna, and what's this I hear of you parking ships in the Kyne? I'd expect that of the Battleship Queen Beatrice but you, you should know better. Born an Anselmo with the tongue of a diplomat, Seaforthian by blood shed, come now Eva are you to tell me you learned nothing from me? I can see that you have with the development of your submersible fleet, but you're not letting them do their job. Bring those lads up top home, leave a Pod or two behind if you're that worried about the Iwi, and be a good neighbour yes? I'm gone a few years and you have to prove Anselmo blood flows through your veins by taking on the less desirable tendencies of Beatrice!"

"And there's that Seaforthian sensibility I've missed," she said with a stare, before chuckles gave way to full-on laughter. "You got me General, though you'll be happy to know Asuna is in Achkaerin to further her learning and experience, I think she's doing well though I wish you could have met her in this era, she's got a McKenna looking out for her..." "Gregory," Joshua would interject, "I know James has some regrets there, what, with not being there as often as he could be, seems Asuna is in good hands though. Back to the point though, bring them home and let your subs do the work they're designed to do. Also I do hope you'll be going to the Royal Highland Games, I obviously can't go but you and Josiah....you should be there. I know you're not a Celt by birth, but you shed blood on the Dancer, and I think being there with them could do you some good. And I know it will be fun for Josiah," Joshua said with a playful nudge.

"I'll consider it," Eva replied, "and I was thinking of attending the Games already, though I wish to do so attached to Somerset, not as a Rokkenjiman Empress." "Then do it," Joshua said, "wear your best tartan and go, tell them I sent you," he said with a playful wink, "You're a Rhodes, and while the stubbornness and questionable decisions at times confirms beyond a doubt that the same blood flows in your veins as those of Beatrice it's never too late to prove you are, indeed a Rhodes. Go, have fun on my behalf, commune with our people. Give Finely my regards."

"Would you object to Emerson accompanying me?" she asked playfully. "No," Joshua said immediately, "he's a good man, he obviously makes you happy and you're fond of him, he should go. But," Joshua let the moment ring out for as long as he could, "he could be the greatest man on Mundus and I'll still hate him, I have to hate him. I'm not going to like the guy who's banging my wife after all, so don't expect me to be singing his praises anytime soon. But if he makes you happy and you like him, I get it, I'm just sorry I can't be there with you every damn day, and I wish this one could have lasted longer."

Evanthe looked into Joshua's eyes before placing her head upon his chest bone, "It can last a bit longer, I don't want it to end either but hey, it's a Sunday morning," she continued, looking up to him with a smile. "I can't say what will happen when I awake, but for now, let's allow Harper to entertain Josiah while we go back upstairs. I promise I'll only use my lucid powers here to ensure that the rest of the day is ours to enjoy, fully, with each other," she continued as she pulled him behind her. "As if I could even protest," he smiled as he followed.

And then I awoke again.

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2022, 07:59:50 AM »
Location: Desk of Evanthe Rhodes, Pyrena Castle
Time: 1:14 AST

To this day I still write letters toy you and while you may never actually read them I can't help but to feel that, in some way, the information I'm putting to paper is being received by you. Our bond is one which transcends boundaries, whether they be distance, time, or life and death itself. The other day Emerson discovered my letters to you and at first suspected I was cheating given I never ascribed a name to my recipient, though no name was ever needed. He was understanding when I explained, he knows that my heart will always in part belong to you and he knows that it's not his place to challenge that; in fact I feel he respects you. He knows that though you may be gone the love we share can never die.

Joshua continues to amaze me, each day I see more of you in him and it makes my heart jump with joy to think that a part of you still lives, to share everything wonderful about you with the whole of Mundus one day. I know he misses you and he knows I am doing my best, and while he knows you are in fact his father and Emerson isn't, his way of respecting you both is so precious. "Dad lets you be with mom because you're good, but if he ever came back he knows you'd go away because he'd kick your butt and you both know it." Our boys growing up so well, he knows he's loved, and I know his future is bright.

What I don't tell Emerson is I wish you were here, he understands so much but I can't help but feel that if I told him that it might break him. We both know he's wonderful but there's always going to be part of my heart that belongs to you, and that part is large. I go on, living and making a life for our family, but there will always be a hole that only you can fill, and that's not to say that Emerson is inadequate: our love is something different, but my love for you can't die either. So I keep writing these letters, keeping you in the loop, so that when we meet in the next life we're on the same page. When that day comes, I do believe my heart will skip several beats.

With love, always and forever,

Evanthe

Beatrice Anselmo
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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2022, 09:16:23 AM »
Location: Secured Briefing Room, Pyrena Castle
Time: 3:44 AST


Tamaki Kado, one of the very few people capable of summoning the Empress before dawn, leads a secured briefing.

As the Director of the Imperial Naval Intelligence Service which had recently seen its duties and responsibilities expand in a post-Anauša world it fell to Tamaki Kado to ensure that threats to the stability and tranquility were resolved before they could become an issue. These duties were even more pressing in the weeks and days leading up to the Enthronement ceremony for the Crown Princess, a delicate time but not one which he had initially feared could be marred or manipulated by those who may wish to see Pyrena Castle thrown into disarray. This morning he had sent for the Empress to join him, knowing full well that she would still be asleep for about another two hours and sixteen minutes as one of the few days she elected to sleep in.

"I trust this is of the utmost importance," Evanthe said as she took her seat in the Briefing Room, Kado's only response being to throw a folder in front of her. "Kyōko Anselmo," Evanthe read aloud, "I've already been briefed on this though. Anauša confirmed that the search for a supposed second daughter played an important role in the Second Patriotic War." Kado picked up from where the Empress left off, though from a portion of the file even she hadn't had access to. "Knowledge of the birth of Kyōko was suppressed, with the open secret of where Beatrice was there were multiple risks involved with the knowledge of a second Anselmo daughter, thus she was removed from the Royal Couple's custody. Once she had been properly integrated with a new family and her safety was ensured Anauša leaked information that Beatrice had a little sister under the protection of foreign benefactors. By this time the Queen was no longer a figure, thus the denials of the Royalist Forces were most genuine. Following the fall of the Federal Republic, and given that Kyōko had by this point lived a life in her new established reality, Anauša deemed it least disruptive to allow her, and those surviving Anselmos, to continue living in ignorance of each other."

"Unbelievable," Evanthe remarked, "have you any reason to believe any of this is true?" "I've had the INIS invest considerable energies into this case given the fact that the Enthronement is soon upon us. The intent there may not be to cause issues for the Crown Princess, but would be something more aimed at creating issues for yourself. While Kyōko was given a new name and life it seems that the Anselmo DNA ultimately guided her to a life of public service. She's handled herself rather well through some referendum issues and maintains a record which, compared to Saisei and unfortunately yourself as of late, is rather clean. DNA has all but confirmed the work of our investigation, so now we must ensure all mitigatory efforts are taken."

"Have her brought in, discreetly," Evanthe said with a sigh. "I've already arranged for her to arrive here herself," Kado replied near instantly. "6 AM comes early, whilst the Ryūsei flies quickly. You will be meeting with Lucretia Marino, First Minister of Rishiri." Evanthe suspected she was the one Kado was talking of, yet the processing of the revelation could still be seen on her face.

Location: Chambers of the Empress, Pyrena Castle
Time: 6:07 AST

As soon as Lucretia had taken her seat she could sense that something was amiss. Certainly the presence of the Director of the INIS was usually something that indicated things weren't quite right. She naturally respected Kado but those in his line of work usually bore their own set of secrets, often necessary in maintaining the security of the Empress and the Empire. "May I offer you a drink?" Evanthe would ask following the exchange of niceties, though she would decline noting the hour.

"You'll want this," Kado interrupted, handing Lucretia a shot of Quinntopian vodka, a somewhat surprising gesture from him. "I have been conducting an investigation in the run-up to the Enthronement of Crown Princess Asuna. Tell me, Ms. Marino, have you heard the stories of Kyōko Anselmo?" Lucretia nodded, "Great, I'm going to show you the same file I showed the Empress not too long before your arrival, including portions which have remained classified and secret, even to the eyes of the Saisei Empress. Naturally what you are about to read must not leave this room, and you will be given ample time and support to process it."

Still slightly confused Lucretia read through the file, absorbed the pictures and statements and, shortly after reading the passage "...given that Kyōko had by this point lived a life in her new established reality, Anauša deemed it least disruptive to allow her, and those surviving Anselmos, to continue living in ignorance of each other" and what followed it, "The Marino Family will be compensated in the most discreet manners possible by..." she downed the shot of Quinntopian vodka and held the glass out for another, which Kado swiftly obliged. "I apologize this is the manner in which you must find out that your life to this point has been an artificial construct, but the Anauša were bastards. I can only imagine what other sad tales I have left before me to unravel. I've prepared a room for you in the Residential Wing of the Castle, you'll be escorted there and will have supportive services there within fifteen minutes." With that Kado motioned for two of his agents to escort Kyōko to her room, after which he would turn to the Empress.

"I have some indications that there are still Anauša remnants who may utilize Kyōko in their bid to extract a measure of revenge against you for sitting upon Chrysanthemum Throne. The manner in which we take the bite out of their intentions is to get ahead of the story and deprive them of their prize," Kado continued. "INIS has prepared a news article which will be released at 11 AM AST, the prime window for releases we wish to have the most eyeballs upon. We will announce that Kyōko has been found, she'll be integrated into the Imperial Family, given a title or two, and our embrace of her will preclude bad actors from threatening the eventual transition from yourself to the Crown Princess. Do you have any questions?" he asked, to which Evanthe shook her head. "Good, you will be kept updated. I have work to do," he said as he departed the Empress' Chambers.

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2022, 05:45:54 AM »
Location: Secured Briefing Room, Pyrena Castle
Time: 7:26 AST


Tamaki Kado once again leads a secured briefing.

"Since the initial investigations into the riots in Port Luca we've uncovered some concerning developments," Kado said as he thumbed through the documents before him. "We've a good number of records of communications between individuals involved in the riots and sources within Toshikawa and Daitō, however, there are discrepancies when comparing those records to the copies of data provided to us by Rokkenjiman telecoms and ISPs. We've been able to trace a commonality shared by the records provided by Agent Ryota and those by the companies themselves. While this took some time as Agent Ryota has never been under any matter of suspicion we've determined that the records he presented are in fact forgeries, at least so far as the Daitō communications are concerned. Agent Ryota is a decorated cross-over from the Anauša, one of the select few who were brought in to serve with the INIS, and thus I am disappointed that we must investigate him as a potential plant operating under the directives of CFO."

"Agent Ryota is being interrogated as we speak," he continued without losing a step, "as are seven other Anauša cross-overs. It is my official assessment that, following the failure of the Princess to sufficiently destabilize the Imperial Government we have found ourselves in a back-up plan of CFO, which means CFO, or a surrogate, is adapting to developments despite his imprisonment. Either development is concerning, however, what is paramount is ensuring that his efforts are squashed. I will retract my suspicion of the Empire of Daitō discreetly, as I would not wish to tip our hand that we have stumbled upon this development to CFO or those acting on his behalf."

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2022, 10:22:42 PM »
Location: Secured Briefing Room, Pyrena Castle
Time: 5:47 AST


Tamaki Kado addresses yet another secured briefing.

"Protocol Ryuusei has been initiated following consultation between myself and Grand Marshall Rowe," Kado said with a sigh to the Empress, Princesses and ministers assembled. "Tonight you, and members of the Imperial Diet, will be transferred to the Azukishima which will stay at sea under the watch of Vice Admiral Forrester. The duration of this voyage will be determined by our ability to manage the situation at home and to return the Crown Princess and deal with her abductors appropriately," he continued. "This is both for your safety and the continuity of the Imperial Rokkenjiman Government. I'll expect you all to be ready to board the Azukishima this evening at 7:45, no later, with everything necessary to continue your duties while out to sea. The Rear Admiral will be in command of the Enterprise, our most capable carrier, so your safety will be assured along with her escorts."

"Hoshiko Island will also be entering a period of lockdown to ensure that Imperial High Command remains within our control regardless of whatever Ofdensen has in mind. This is a most mortal threat to the First Empire and I shall not understate the threat level we presently face. As far as I am concerned today marks the beginning of the third Great Patriotic War, and it is my job to keep you all alive and safe, just as much as it is my job to ensure the survival of this First Empire throughout it. Listen to my instructions, follow them to the T, and do not deviate from them." "What of the bastards that stole Asuna?" Evanthe said, "what are you doing about that?"

"Rest assured my Empress, we're on it. Both myself and the Grand Marshall have our best men and women at work to ensure her return. Do as I say, and let me do my job yes?"

Beatrice Anselmo
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Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2022, 03:45:54 AM »
Location: NIS Headquarters
Time: 7:49 AST


Tamaki Kado speaking with Grand Marshall Rowe in his office.

"Interesting," Kado said as he turned a computer monitor for Rowe to view with him. "The Crown Princess' phone has been rendered stationary, yet her watch keeps transmitting data back to Abstergo's messaging servers for distribution over local Achkaerinese cellular networks. I remember when the Emperor-Emeritus questioned why his daughter needed a cellular watch yet, here we are," he smirked, while picking up the phone. "Yes, Mr. Relkin, I have a request to make. I need a silent update issued to the watch of the Crown Princess to remove the restrictions on using the battery reserve and to disable capabilities not possible through her settings menu....yes, I know it's odd, but even an extra 1-5% will keep her communicating just that bit longer and you get to sell her another watch once she's rescued.....thank you."

Rowe let out a bit of a chuckle, "Clever. Still, we've no means beyond what our counterparts are already employing to secure the Crown Princess. After the whole fitness tracker fiasco Abstergo reacted by maintaining location data locally on the device in such a way not even they can access it. Her understanding of her surroundings will be crucial to ascertaining where she is." Kado nodded, "the longer she's able to communicate all the better, it's all we have right now."

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2023, 07:11:29 PM »
Location: Pyrena Castle, Rokkenjima
Time: 1:27 AST

"I would have preferred it if Her Imperial Majesty hadn't referenced "unfortunate decisions" and "designs and desires of those who always want more, those for which what they have is never enough" at the Ceremony while also going so far as to say that she hopes "the vessels behind me never be forced to fire their guns in anger upon our kin." Are we going to collectively forget that they fired on our soil? What right does she, a child, have to say that men and women who have dedicated their lives to the defense of this Empire were wrong? I don't care about the Ofdensen complications, the moment they fired on sovereign Rokkenjiman soil her mother would've had the tanks rolling over the border, she'd have had our missiles trained on their capital; we'd have dealt with...."

"Bold of you to presume what my mother would have done," the Empress said as she took her seat at the head of the table, "...Admiral Matsuo Kyo. You set me up," she continued, "I have the deployments of all vessels of the Imperial Rokkenjiman Navy out at the very least a month's time from today and there were no deployments to the southern Rokkenjiman Sea or, as you said, "routine operations" which necessitated a stop at Tagaru on this day. My mother had to face this, the ambitions of those in the Military who can't hope to understand the art of diplomacy, so I was forced to improvise. Yet you misjudged me," the Empress continued as she walked over to the Admiral and in one simple motion tore the decorations from his uniform. "You are hereby under arrest for insubordination of the Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima, violation of the sacred and inviolable nature of the Empress, and for other high crimes against the Empire. As the descendant of Islyna, as her voice and embodiment upon Mundus, I have made clear that war against our kin is incompatible with our values as a nation and you, in your station, decided you would try to sabotage me in turning my welcoming of a new Prefecture into a display of force? You fool," she said as she let the last word hang, "were you dissatisfied when Rokkenjimans and Daitōjin did not end up killing each other in that brief exchange of fire? Did you want yet more blood to spill and, honestly, for what; pride, ego, imaginary lines on a map? Please," she said looking to the detachment from the Imperial Naval Intelligence Service, "I do not need to hear his lies, remove him from my presence." The order she issued was quickly carried out, though his protests could be heard and conveyed in the echoes of the hallway.

"And to the rest of you," she said, taking command of the room, "yes I am young, I'm naive and I don't know half of what you all know but what I have faith in is what's in my heart. I will be an Empress of peace, of talking to those we disagree with, of making compromises and shedding the arrogance that came before me. If any of you can't abide by the terms of my rule, take your pensions now and get out of my way but, if you have an open mind, if you desire peace and prosperity for all Peoples, if you want to build a better world and only fire upon our true enemies, stay with me and let's make Mundus a better place for everyone." When no one rose the Empress nodded, "I want an exchange of liaisons between the respective commands of the IRAF and IDAF, I want a hard line between our capitals, I want every safeguard you can find to prevent conflict between our states put into place. And if any of you think that I'll brush off such a show of disrespect so easily as I did now," she paused as she walked over to the window, looking over the gardens of the Imperial Palace, "I will replace any of you with those who share my vision for peace, not just for East Ardia, but beyond that. None of you are irreplaceable, don't make me," she said as she turned around and set her fist on the table, "force me to find the next one who will sit in your seats. You had my mother's inclinations, my aunts indiscretions, that ends today. You are extensions of my will, and my will is peace, peace at all costs. We'll maintain a menacing offensive capacity, we'll make sure no other state can challenge us successfully, but go to sleep with this thought; your greatest threat is me, because if you get in my way I'll dispose of you just as easily as I disposed of the Admiral. Do we understand each other?" she left the words hang, before the room nodded in unison.

"Good, so what are the briefings from the southern Krimeon these days?

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2023, 10:27:51 PM »
Location: The Imperial Palace, Pyrettania, Rokkenjima
Time: 3:28 AST
A Joint Beatrice-Tytor Production

It was normal that the Empress would have intelligence briefings throughout the day, so normal that she called them her "cram sessions" to Thomas on the weekends he could spend at the Imperial Palace. Usually it would be the normal circumstances, some terrorist chatter here and there, but upon her return that day even he could see her skin had turned an unnatural pale; in the place of their usual hug she fell into him and he could feel that she was in the grips of a gruesomely cold sweat. Without him even saying a word the Empress would respond, "it's worse than anything we saw in Themata, the USR, or even the genocide in Nueva Ardia. I've seen the face of inhumanity, Thomas, a part of me died in that briefing."

He wrapped his arms around her at once, reacting instinctively, holding her firmly but gently, trying to make himself as solid as possible, a rock in her emotional tempest.  "Hey," he whispered, "Hey, it's all right.  I'm here."  He reached one hand up to stroke her hair.

She would burry her face in his chest, staining his shirt with tears that seemingly came with no end in sight, "How could they," she said in words broken by laboured breathing, "how could they do that to anyone? The girl, the boy, all of them, I've tormented souls burned into my heart, my soul, I can't repeat it but the barbarism...all I can say is what was done in Pyrettania almost looks humane compared to it all, even saying that is completely insane, and the people we're sending into these places. My gods....they'll never be the same, no one can be the same after witnessing such an utter disregard for human life, there's so many voices screaming in my head right now because the lives I'm sending there, whether it be on ship, plane or submarine, they'll never be the same....they'll never be able to have faith in humanity again. I won't let it go on though..." she said as she broke away from Thomas and picked up her phone, sending a brief message to Rowe.

Quote from: Text to High Admiral Rowe
You send those bastards an absolute message not only that we know but also that it never happens again. And if it should happen again they will  know without doubt that we will remove them from the face of Mundus. You saw what I saw and heard what I heard and we weren't there for them but damn it we'll make sure no one else suffers that fate so help me the Seven Divine. We end this now.

"I can't sleep," she said as she tossed the phone to the nightstand, "not after that, I didn't even see their faces and yet that torment, that grief, my heart breaks as I stand here before you. I know I'll never be able to move on from this but damn it if I won't do what I can to see it doesn't happen again. Never, ever, again; if any of us are worth our word, it's not about responding to the attacks anymore it's about making sure no one suffers like that again, that they don't die like that again, that we don't condemn a young soldier to live with those horrors for the rest of their lives. Never. Again."

Thomas watched her, concern etched on his face.  He didn't know what had happened - he hadn't been in the briefing - but he could guess.  "If you need to talk about it, I'm all ears," he said, "If you'd rather not, that's fine too.  I'm here for you either way, okay?  If you can't sleep, then neither can I."  He spread his arms, offering a second embrace.

"I'd rather not," she would reply quickly, "but existing in this moment helps so much. Let's make it last longer?" she asked as she looked into his eyes, tears waiting to fall from them only to be wiped away by him.

"As long as you need," he would add as her head fell into his shoulder with almost a dead weight.

Beatrice Anselmo
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Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2023, 01:14:39 AM »
OOC Note: If swear words offend you, you might be offended at points in this post. Proceed with that knowledge. Also I've decided this one will not be canon as I'd like to have at least one character who doesn't have such a troubled backstory, and try working with something more positive.

Location: HMY Estvua, Port of Ashinxao
Time: 8:37 AST


Hikaru Masami

"You know, you could have just told me," Hikaru said with an air of ire, "a weekend together on some ship your cousin lent you, and for what? You couldn't even tell me about the details of your "secret project" that would "change everything" for you, just that something was happening, it was big, your big sister was positioning you for something truly amazing, or whatever bullshit you were saying to convince me, or, maybe, you were truly trying to convince yourself. You never needed some fancy plane or a big boat to impress me, and if you give me that shit over calling it a boat I swear I'll smack a Princess in the next five seconds so choose your words wisely, but this, this, is your surprise to me? Soph, we were fine, you got your degree and I got mine and it feels like just a month ago we were scouting an apartment in Ashinxao to pursue careers in the private sector and I have to find out in the RBC that you're becoming a working member of the Imperial Family. And, in addition, you're in a competition to be an Empress? So those talks we were having of wedding venues, singers, stupid little things to put on the tables and hand out to guests; you weren't planning our wedding but your wedding, yes? I was just the prop for you to base your fairy tale future on, the stand-in, so you could somehow make it all make sense since your suitor wasn't before you?"

Sophia crumpled into her chair offering an occasional glance, yet those last words hit her hardest. "It's not entirely like that..." "No, I don't imagine it is," Hikaru would interrupt, "but you've got to justify it somehow, don't you? It's not a coincidence that you're revealed, land a high-level job and then, oh my God, the new Rokkenjiman Princess is also vying for the heart of a foreign Emperor? Give me more credit than that, please," Hikaru said as she threw herself into a nearby chair before throwing her phone overboard. "It's all about the views, the likes, the validation you get from the numbers moving up on your posts when you say shit about him, right? And why is it that the Empress is going all in now, why is it a public affair when you enter a contest like this but I've been your secret for five years now? Is it that the Imperial Household Ministry was fine with me when we were in high school, but now that we're growing up I'm a threat to them, because your love for me wasn't just a "mere phase" as your state appointed councilor said it would be? And there it is," she said as Sophia couldn't muster a response, "there's the limits of your "tolerant" Rokkenjima; your "LGBTQ tolerant Rokkenjima. We're fine when we're on the fringes but when a Rokkenjiman Princess catches feels for one of them trans folks, we can't have that, can we?"

"It's not like that!" Sophia would rise to protest, before sinking into her seat again, which would see Hikaru approach her, taking her cheek in her hand. "You," she said in a near whisper, "my dear, lack the courage of your convictions," she contiued as a tear drew a path from her eye down her cheek. "You don't have to go through with this, you know, we could return to our lives as we knew them, we could find the joys we did on our summer vacations, or just looking up at the stars on a warm evening. You might be an idiot but," she continued as she booped her nose, "you're my idiot, and I'll slap a bitch, Emperor or not, to keep you by my side. But that's all up to you," she said as she looked out to the sea, "so what will you do?"

A moment of silence which felt as a thousand years passed before Sophia could say, "if I had my choice, I'd see every sunrise and sunset by your side, I'd give colour to every moment of your life, laugh at your bad jokes for the rest of my life, and I mean bad by other people's standards to me they're perfect, but if I don't do this; I'm being positioned by certain voices in the military to bolster our influence abroad, and what better way than to do that as a wife for an Emperor? I'm a pawn right now, I either play my part or some influential IHC member will eliminate me, most likely as a threat to the Empress, because we all know the stain her mother casts over her, even if I love my cousin and believe in her and her desires to turn things around, she has some obstacles in her way. My hands are tied, I can't do what I truly wish to, and if we could get away with it, I'd run with you right now to wherever they could never find us. But they can always find us, track us, punish us, so part of this is to protect you too. I don't want to say goodbye bu...,"

Hikaru silenced her with a kiss, then broke away. "Then don't," she continued with a smile. "You fix this, one way or another, I have faith in you. It'll be hard but, I'll support you from the sidelines, I'll hide myself and what we wer..., no, are, because some fools in Imperial High Command, despite what they believe is their power, can't defeat love. And what we have is love," she said as the two kissed again, "so keep this moment with you," she said as she broke away, "and find you way back to me, no matter what. If eveything else in this world would doubt or forsake you, know I never would; if it's not in this lifetime then know, in the next, I'll be at the ready to meet you and begin our lives again. This is going to be the hardest thing I've ever done," she continued, "seeing you put yourself out there for someone else, but you'll always come home to me; just as Lucinda was to Saisei; you are to me."

Beatrice Anselmo
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Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2023, 10:10:06 PM »
Location: HMY Estvua, Gowu
Time: 8:37 AST


Estvua in Gowu.

Villains of Circumstance plays in the background, "Save me from the villains of circumstance, before I lose my place."

It was easy enough to explain her presence to the media which flocked to each place she visited; a bit of a reunion for those who took part in studies within Gowu the year prior. A chance to catch up, share ideas, discuss what they'd been working on or planned to work on since their studies had concluded. It seemed a good accompaniment to her main studies at the Imperial University of Ashinxao, and though a summer of fun on the beach without a care for the world was tempting her thirst for knowledge had led her to continue studying again. Though that's not to say there wasn't some fun on the beach; though it would be most scandalous and frowned upon by many in Rokkenjima her days had been filled with many fun and fulfilling moments spent with Sasuke. Early on in their association there had been some tension; her, a Rokkenjiman and he, a Toshikawan. There was history between the two peoples that still spilled over into the present, and the not-too-distant memories of Toshikawan protests in Rokkenjima and the response there was still fresh on their minds.

Earlier in the evening they finally broached the topic of her entrance into the competition that everyone seemed to be talking about and, certainly, this was not an evening of fun nor jovial moments. The RBC's loud coverage certainly didn't help, depriving her of the opportunity to explain things without an outside bias already being the default. As the silence continued between them from the last exchange of emotions Sophia rose to her feet and looked out to the ocean, "You know I've always lived a mostly private life, do you think I enjoy this sudden amount of attention and scrutiny being applied to every aspect of my life; knowing me, do you think I chose this? No," she paused as she turned from the wonderfully tranquil waters outside the Estvua to the turbulent ones within her suite. "This," she motioned her hand around it, "all of this, I didn't ask for a yacht, I never needed one, and yet Sutāraito herself has been deceived into thinking she's doing me some kind of favour by giving me this, a supersonic plane, and her support for something I don't want. And it's over the stupidest of things, because I went to study in Gowu and there's some in Rokkenjima who couldn't fathom a Rokkenjiman Princess falling for someone they have a slur for."

Sasuke balanced a hand on the hilt of the katana that was nearly always on his person, in eras gone by he'd have worn traditional clothes, but then again in eras gone by he'd have a very prominent position, he was the eldest son of the Soga clan which made him next in line to be the Daimyo or head of the clan, or would have were it not for two things, firstly the various machinations of Su Mai Nekhaga had all but destroyed the Samurai clans of Toshikawa and while the nation was still technically a shogunate change was definitely coming, which was the second thing Toshikawa was heading into a period of transformation, Sora Yoshimo would likely be the final Shogun of the nation as the role currently stood. In eras gone by his position would have carried the weight of the Emperor whose contest Sophia was entering, the irony of that wasn't lost on him.

Sophia slouched slightly, somehow things were going better than she expected, yet the situation remained lamentable. "And I mean despite my handlers keeping my secret you learned I was an Anselmo, a Princess of Rokkenjima, and it didn't dissuade you from treating me like a normal girl, nor did you share my secret with the entire student body. Thankfully the efforts of my sister to allow me a mostly normal life were more successful than the efforts to shield Saisei, but here we are; the chickens always return to roost despite the best of our efforts to prevent it, it's almost as if we're destined to tempt fate, deny it, and yet challenge it even further. I can only be sorry that the circumstances of my birth precluded us from something that, otherwise, would've been perfectly fine, and now I have to pretend I'm fully vested in something I really could care less about. I've no interests in the Emperor, I don't want to live in his lands, and I'm not even sure if I want to ever be a mother at this point, but there's people making decisions for me that, even as a Princess, I have to swallow my objections and perform as expected; I am, after all, the shiny new Rokkenjiman Princess, I'm expected to not disappoint and yet they force me to disappoint you, not even allow me the opportunity to talk with you before it's in the international headlines, little better than a villain of circumstance, yes?"

"It wasn't exactly difficult finding out who you were. Your entire family spent years in this city, went to school here, you have a certain look and certain giveaway signs, not an Achkaerinese royal, blonde hair and with a fairly substantial entourage, conclusion... Anselmo." Sasuke said tracing the outline of her face with a finger "Do you think so little of me that a royal title would scare me? It doesn't, it couldn't. And you could never disappoint me." he put a finger on her lips, shushing her before she tried to protest "Truth is not what you want it to be, it is what it is, and you must bend to its power or live a lie." he let the words hang there for a moment "So live the lie if it comes to pass and if you can't then run, run right to these walls to this sanctuary."

Sauske certainly commanded a way to make her heart swoon and her head feel as though it was floating above the highest of clouds. "Truth be told if I had my choice, I'd see every sunrise and sunset by your side, I'd give colour to every moment of your life, laugh at your bad jokes for the rest of my life, and I mean bad by other people's standards to me they're perfect, but if I don't do this; I either play my part or my loyalty to my People is questioned, some might take torches and pitchforks to the Caelestis Curia demanding I'm removed from the Rosari Faith itself, I'm labelled a threat to the Empress because hell, we all know the stain her mother casts over her and even if I love her and her desires to turn things around she has some obstacles in her way. My hands are tied here, I'm not allowed to do what I truly wish to or to live my life as I wish, and if we could get away with it I'd run with you right now to wherever they could never find us. Yet, I'll always be tracked, punished for disobeying, so I have to play along, if only to protect you, I can only hope they don't demand that I forsake your People publicly; hating on Toshikawans still hasn't somehow garnered the same disdain one would hold for those who persecuted the Followers of Earagon or other stupid racist notions, but hey hate is still well and alive in 2023, yay," she concluded with a deflated tune.

"No one in Rokkenjima would dare risk action here, they do so and they doom themselves." Sasuke said "You know that as well as I. And if anyone did come there's a fair army of people between them and me. Unbind your hands, let them throw their stones, let them make their threats, these walls are high and its guardians are ready and willing. What good is living if you're not really alive? They want to cast you out from the Rosari's light? Let them, I'll teach you to dance over in the light I believe in. Hate may be alive and well but it is still as foolish as it always was. Love's wisdom should never be questioned."

"I find no reason to disagree, I'm confident that Sutāraito would be quite fond of you as well, she's shared with me how this hatred weighs on her and the ways she wishes she could heal it, but no matter what happens, promise you'll save me from this. I don't care what it involves," she continued, "I'll give up every title, every benefit, all of it just to be me, to see you at my side, there might not be a magic bullet or cure for pain but, I found in you something I've never seen as possible before and these divisions, Rokk vs Tosh, or any other thing like that, is just based in hatred and I still believe in a world that you can love who you love and hate doesn't win the day. You know me," she paused as she booped his nose, "I'm not a yacht kind of girl, I don't need a plane that can take me across the skies at supersonic speeds, I'd rather have my nose in books and study history; I'm sure you remember that time we spent hours at the library just geeking over samurai traditions? If you can do one thing, if it's the only thing you can do, promise that you won't let them make me into someone I'm not, and you'll be there with me in the days to follow."

"Sounds to me like you know how to save yourself." Sasuke said pulling Sophia up to her feet "If you win, and that's not guaranteed there are far more suitable candidates..." he stuck his tongue out for a second eliciting a giggle from her "Then all you're giving him is this." he put a hand on her body over where her womb was "This isn't about love it never was, the contest is to find someone for Orion to bed until they're pregnant and then raise the child." he moved his hand up to the left side of her chest over her heart "This however... this you aren't giving him, because this isn't in the equation and besides I believe or at least I hope I have something of a claim on it."

"No matter what happens next I can promise that the next two days are ours," she would reply, "the Empire has its systems and such but my sister ensured we declared our own staff and security detail. Let's make the most of it, and we'll worry about tomorrow when it comes. I'd entered this room feeling defeated but now," she paused with a gentle caress of his cheek and a look which dove into his eyes, "I will exit with the will and heart of a warrior. My future will be mine to determine, I'll speak with Sutāraito, if she can do nothing then I'll consult Saisei, I might as well make use of that plane right? If I find nothing in either of them, I know we don't know each other quite as well as the others, but I'd like to think I could find respite and at least some form of spiritaul refuge from the Azurewinds."

"The beauty of time is its relativity." Sasuke said putting his arms around her "Two days can be made to feel like two weeks or even longer and it can happen in truth as well, especially with the weather. So let me at least make sure you're ready for what you might be getting yourself into."

"They'll last so long as we wish then," she said with a confidence renewed. "I might not be an Empress, but as I understand this ship does not move without my sanction. So let us exist in this here and now for a bit longer, then I make my case to my cousin, she seems to think she's helping me and moving my desires along, and I have to believe once we've talked she'll be an ally."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #18 on: December 03, 2023, 11:21:02 PM »
Location: The Imperial Palace
Time: 4:29 AST

"I've always wanted to spend more time with you, to get to know you better, for so long we were robbed of family members due to assassins and the Great Patriotic War, I'm glad those days are behind us," the Empress said as she poured a glass of mead for herself and Sophia. "What is it you wished to talk about today?" she continued as she took a sip. "Asu," she said, using the informal nickname that the Empress had taken on prior to becoming Empress, "you know how I studied in Gowu for that summer?" The Empress nodded with a knowing grin, "Just as I did you met a boy, didn't you? Or a girl, I don't care about all that and I'd be happy for you in each case, you have to tell me about them. But with the contest, would that not complicate things?" the Empress trailed off, "I thought you were invested in dominating the field and bringing Orion home?" she added with a confused look.

"Asu, that was never my choice, you think I'd go after an openly gay man and offer my womb to him on the chance I bear the heir to his throne like, seriously? No, I went to Gowu and met someone that hits here," she said pointing to her heart, "and I know you'd love him too, hopefully not in the same way I do of course but, my Gods, he inspired me to speak to you today. He's Toshikawan, which is why I'm even a contestant in this hellshow, because people hate so deeply they can't see people as people. But he's so charmful, so knowledged, so...he's a good heart Asu, and I fell for him, just as you fell for Thoma..."

"Don't you even compare what Thomas and I have to what you and a Tosher have," the Empress said loudly. "You two," she said with her eyes beamed at her Parliamentary guests, "leave us now, and say nothing of this, else I'll have your heads. Are we clear?" she added, to which they nodded and left the room. After which Asuna sighed, "You see, even I am watched, I had to get rid of them somehow, but girl I'm so happy for you, I'm sure he's wonderful and to look at you smiling as you are, just damn, you got it. But, you know there are many in our government who see and will see Toshikawa as our enemy and sadly, I won't be able to shield you from that. They will even demand I personally insert myself and "protect our purity" from their "incursions" and given they are a powerful voice, my options are limited. But..."

"You leave me off on a "but..." after all that? Seriously...." Sophia said before the Empress held her finger to Sophia's lips, "but I won't let them. Don't forget that the IRN serves at my leisure, and where the IRN doesn't go, the Imperial Rokkenjiman Armed Forces don't go. I gave you this title for a reason," the Empress paused as she stood, "because you need an option to challenge the establishment. If you don't agree to this you declare Josai sovereign, I'll play my role as demanded but I'll stop short of invasion, and we'll lose Josai but I'll ensure that my beautiful cousin lives the life she deserves. You have to make it convincing though," she continued, "call me a bitch, curse my mother, do it all and fight against me like your future depends on it, I'll take the heat on your behalf because I love you," she said as she hugged Sophia, "and while I had no choice in entering the Empress business, you're just a Grand Duchess now, you don't have those same expectations. I love you," she continued as she lifted her face to meet hers, "I'm more than willing to be your shield."

"But what of the competition?" Sophia asked. "Fuck it," the Empress would matter-of-factly respond, "just fuck it. Do what you can do to get yourself disqualified. We'll have a hearing or two in the Diet over your failure but both Houses belong to me in all but name so, you'll be fine. And if it gets to the point where it looks like I can't keep the worst impulses of Rokkenjima in line, you declare independence for Josai. I've got your back, cuz, just as I have Thomas you have Sasuke, and I'll be your greatest ally in that fight. Don't you worry about me, you get yours and live your dreams just as I am."

"You'd risk it all for me?" Sophia asked, astounded. "You're surprised," she said with astonishment, "Sophia, family is everything. If we don't defend our own, how can we ever hope to defend others? My blood flows in your veins just as much as your blood flows in mine. Anyone who hurts you hurts me, so when I say the Empress of Rokkenjima has your back, don't you fucking doubt it." Sophia smiled as she texted Sasuke with a simple "She's with us" as the tears fell from her cheeks. "So we're taking on the world together, eh?" she said simply. The Empress would chuckle, "As if the universe itself could stop us."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2023, 02:21:49 AM »
Location: HMY United States
Time: 5:57 AST

"We're running out of shapes to name on the horizon," Asuna would say with a giggle, "all the stars aligned, and for what?" She pulled Thomas in close for a kiss but instead of kissing him turned her head to the side, "Oh, now you're noticing my nuances, is this the patriarchy I've so solidly heard of?" Thomas would just shake his head and take her hand, "I'd rather show you an evening of entertainment and shared experiences, if only I'm not too boring to you," he continued as he watched the screens. "Oh, would you stop it," the Empress interjected, "as if I'm interested in that, I'm not but I'm very much into you so I think, given our itinerary for the day, you've cooking before you and I, I shall endeavor to motivate you, but looking at you," she grinnned, "I think I got that down quite well already," she continued with a knowing grin.

"I must thank you," she continued, "outside of my family you're the only person who's treated me as just another person making their way in this life, learning about themselves and the world at the same time, and figuring all of that out, and it's a lot to take in. You knew what you were getting into when you learned just who I was, and instead of being awestruck or running away you stayed, incorporated yourself into my life, always found a way to make me smile even if I wanted to run and hide under the covers. Thank you, Thomas, while some guys think putting a gal on a pedastle is the way to our hearts, just eww, treat us like any other human being, thanks. And that's what you did, it's what you do, and it's so refreshing."

"We're both young but," she turned away from Thomas for a moment as she fished in her handbag, "I've had a question for you for a while. You want to get married? Could you say now, in this moment, you could die happy at my side? I didn't trip over that floor for nothing," she said turning away from him, "there was some calculation in that, if we're being honest and you were the perfect Knight in that moment. So, do we die together or...?"

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #20 on: December 07, 2023, 11:33:58 PM »
Location: HMY United States
Time: 2:15 AST

It had been fifteen minutes into their conversation, the usual small-talk and catching up, yet recent events had demanded some swift attention. Beatrice assumed a strong, yet reassuring, posture as she weighed her next words and gestures before starting.

"I trust that you know that I, so long as I draw breath, shall be your biggest supporter; it's quite evident to everyone who knows us just how much I love you and how it pains me that despite the best of plans and intentions what I so feared came to pass. I know why you took the actions that you did and, while I shall not judge your passion, I must judge your conduct and do what I couldn't for so long. I've so many missed years; memories I could have made with those close to me, guidance I had planned to provide to you, indeed, if not a shelter to have everything I had to give up at least the best shield I could devise. Do not take these words wrongly," Beatrice sighed, "while we were at one point robbed of even our very relationship we've much time to catch up on and today might be the first day of that."

Asuna would nod, unsure of the words which would come next. "I see so much of myself in you, you act with passion and care deeply for those you love, those you can help and, perhaps, those you wish to help  the most. Our passion is a powerful force which guides our hearts," she said as she placed her hand over her chest, "capable of guiding us toward many great and noble pursuits when guided by reason; I've always believed that such passion is capable of changing the world for the better. One need only open a history book to see what the passion within my heart was capable of when coupled with reason. Just as passion and reason hold great power passion absent of reason often times leads to peril. Sure Charles could drug the reason out of my mind but as passion holds purview over the heart, and reason over the mind, it is perhaps the closest example I may give to you that same passion which is capable of such lofty potential can also prove to be so very dangerous, even unpredictable."

When Asuna said nothing she continued, "You realize you are not dealing with enemies in this case, and while the long and often curved road of fate has produced a rather complicated series of events, you must remember that you are dealing with family. I know when I was not well that I said many things about the Azurewinds and Achkaerin in general, words that can never be taken back but also words which I have wholly disavowed. There are few people upon Mundus for whom I hold such high esteem, so while I may be touched and even moved by the passions in your heart you're acting absent of reason and that has the potential to end terribly. I threw away one of our greatest partnerships because while I felt passionately on the matter at the time my reason was stolen from me; your case is different though, you're still very much learning just who you are with the added responsibilities of the Throne weighing upon you, even though I tried so hard to ensure this wouldn't be the case," her voice, taking on a more remorseful tone as she went on, at one point looking away from the camera which facilitated their call.

"You're not to blame here, none of this is your fault and I just see injustice for you, for us, and I want to fix it," Asuna would interject. "I know love," Beatrice said with a reassuring smile, "yet you know that I, more than any other person in this world, shall always have your best interests in full command of my heart. You must understand that Stanley complied with you knowing full well that the task you placed on his desk would very well harm his standing as Attorney for the Crown. He did so because, at the end of the day, he serves at the leisure of the Empress and that's a duty he has always taken seriously. I'm certain he told you of the complications involved and tried to sway your decision," a remark she would add pause to and Asuna would nod in response to, "he was giving you an offramp in that moment, a moment to pause and reflect, yet reason was nowhere to be found in that moment, was it?" She paused again as Asuna offered a sullen "no," Beatrice could only look at Asuna with tears forming in the corners of her eyes.

"It's all very much unfair, I understand, I don't fault you because this was never supposed to be the position for you to be in, not at this stage in your life. I was hoping you'd be sneaking off, getting into some forms of trouble, that I'd have to navigate the secret passages of Pyrenna to find you misbehaving; it would have been preferable to where we find ourselves now. It's a curse for me as well, knowing all that was missed out, that I won't in fact beat the reign of the Great Matriarch who celebrated sixty years on Chrysanthemum Throne, dying on the Throne if we're to believe the narrative of the writers of the time removed from the tendency to over-exaggerate facts, that all this responsibility became yours before you even had the chance to live as much a normal adolescent life as possible. That being said, meet with Serenity, talk things out, and please let reason and logic guide you to the right choice. Can you promise me that?"

"I can, thank you," Asuna said while fighting back her own tears. "Good then, I'll let Serenity know that we talked beforehand and give a brief summary. In the mean time, I do believe you have some explaining to do with that boy Thomas." Asuna turned five shades of red with those words as the conversation turned away from matters of international importance.

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #21 on: January 03, 2024, 04:02:36 AM »
Location: The Imperial Palace
Time: 8:47 AST

Asuna had elected to take advantage of an opportunity to stop off at home during her Tour of Good Will, a chance to catch up with friends and family, even that would prove to be difficult however. In her favourite chair laid a raven, killed earlier in the day, many knew it was her favourite bird. In its claw was a note which read: "We know you've broken our bond. You will eliminate yourself from the completion of our plans or we will proceed to eliminate every member of your line and each person you care for beyond them at our discretion. We expect your full compliance before the end of January." For a while she sat there in the room, thinking of all she'd planned with the King, the moments with Freya, and all that she had planned for her life so far. In that she had a decision, at least it felt like it to her: her life or countless others, no alternatives were offered nor were avenues of communication allotted; feeling fairly certain in who had sent this message she took the note from the raven's claw and put it in her pocket.

"No one else will die for me," she said as she placed her favourite stuffed animal upon her bed. She kept them to this day, often they served roles in her imaginary stories growing up, the one before her being a gift from her father, "and I will see that all those I love and care for will be well long after I am gone," she said as she placed another beside it, this one from her mother. "As I know you're listening, know this: I'll do as you ask but know that if you push beyond your power, I know my friends will defend that which I hold dear to heart," she said as she placed her blanket around the concert of stuffed animals. "If it's as simple as exchanging my life for countless others, if you were banking on me choosing my well being over theirs, you picked wrong." She kissed the honey badger stuffie that Evanthe had brought home from some visit to East Moreland on the forehead, "Lexa," she paused as the AI sprung into action, "Please send a message delayed by four hours to King David, I'm sorry I couldn't keep my promised dates, please know I didn't choose to let you down, but I did tell you I painted a target on myself. Thus my last action is in defense of those I love and my People. Even if you were frustrated with me, at least the sum of my actions will speak for me long beyond the grave. Do you think I'll receive a welcome reception in the next life, even with...?."

Your message will be sent in 3 hours, 59 minutes and counti... "Shut up," she said, as Lexa complied without protest. "The towers of Pyrena will be most visible, and the grounds beneath most quickly discovered," she spoke to herself, "Using the tunnels Lucinda showed me..."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #22 on: February 11, 2024, 11:25:24 PM »
Location: Pyrena Castle, Rokkenjima
Time: 7:39 AST

"My lady," he said as he entered the room, "forgive me for entering without an invitation but I couldn't help but to notice this might belong to you, what, with the initials "BA" engraved into its side." "Why thank you," she replied as she took the bracelet from his hand, lined with the finest of stones, "A most special person gifted me this on our first anniversary, why I thought I lost it some time ago and here we are, it's back in my hands. You know, you sort of look like him, many years older of course, but you have that same charm that lives in his eyes. Tell me," she turned away with a pause to follow, "do you not grow tired of the dramatics of your role playing, or are you trying to remind me of why I never grew bored of you? You don't have to do this each time, Alex, you already won me over." He paused to chuckle, "and if I ever stopped you'd grow only bored of my presence in your life, and I can't have that, now can I? 'ello, love," he said as he brought her into his arms, kissed her, and sat her down at the nearest available spot.

"And when is your departure set for?" she asked, to which he replied "never, as I told Asuna, I'm not leaving again. I'm home for good now, and seeing the state of this room, tsk tsk, whatever happened to that maid I hired years ago?" "Alex,  STOP IT!" Beatrice replied with a giggle, "Damn it even when you're being completely silly you know just how to make me swoon. Sit down, you fool," she said as she patted the spot next to her on the bed. "Fine, fine, serious Alex is at your service. May I bring you a drink, a meal, whatever your heart's content may desire?" "I already have what I desire," she said as she drew her mouth to his, "and you know it's you," she continued as she kissed him, "so tone down the theatrics, Shakespeare. As long as you promise you're here for good, you know you've got me, after all, you had me from those first awkward moments at my first invitation to Mundus to join me here in Rokkenjima. And now we've got little yous and mes running around so, we're kind of stuck with each other by this point so..." "....so let's meet like this, each time, every time we're away from each other, like it's the first time. A few years may have passed but you still have those legs that caused many to faint in Dijel, a figure which prompted Zachachevania to call you a harlot, and that personality that inspires the best within me to match you in each and every moment. Beatrice Anselmo, I love you, allow me to show you all the ways I do?" he asked with a curt lip.

"Don't you ever beg me like that again," she said forcefully, "and come here, we've much time and ground to make up for. I understand some have said I've been naughty, I might be in need of, dare I say it, correction?" Alex grinned, "so you are still as playful as I imagine. Well, Ms. Anselmo, there's much we've to discuss and much we've to do to address your, shall we say, unfortunate behaviour. Are you ready for instruction?" he asked, to which she nodded with a knowing nod. "Very well then, I trust you know to assume the position and hold it until I've instructed otherwise?" Again, Beatrice would nod, "Let the correction begin then. Now then...."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #23 on: February 13, 2024, 07:51:02 AM »
Location: Pyrettanian National Cemetary
Time: 5:00 AST

"I listen to this song once a year," he said as the speaker aside him played out into the environment around them. "It was you who gave me my appreciation of the talents displayed here, from the depth of their voices to the mastery of the strings, I never did quite appreciate the classics until you introduced me to them. I must thank you there," he said as he raised a glass and refilled the shot glass immediately thereafter. "Nor do I drink on any other day of the year, you see, my duties require me to be sober at all hours of the day, except for this day, I've got trusted people looking after my duties, so don't worry yourself that I've become irresponsible. I know how you fancied your Quinntopian vodka though, and I know I'll have a headache tomorrow but," he said filling the glass once more before taking another and then pouring the rest on the grass aside him, "this one is for you. Happy birthday, Fukuhara Iwao, you were, truly, the best of us."

"Is it possible to have survivor's guilt on behalf of someone else, I wonder?" Kado continued as he hurled the glass into the air far from his sight. "I got the two of them, but you were just a length too far, I couldn't protect you, but I promise you that I still check in on your wife every chance I can. I made sure she was looked after, I mean the whole package," he continued as he patted the ground next to him, "she never remarried, said she couldn't find a perfect love again even if she tried, so I made sure she never had want nor need for anything material, saw your boy through college, he's making 7 figures a year now running Abstergo's Defense Solutions Division. You'd be proud of him," Kado continued, "he's been the mind behind so many of the challenges we faced on the field after all, always a quick wit about him. I wish you could see it though, you deserved at least that much, but alas our time is up," Kado said as he rose to his feet.

"Fukuhara Iwao, gone, but never forgotten. As I say every year, we won and we're still here kicking the asses that need kicking. It'd be easier if I had you here with me of course but, I'm holding my own. Rest well brother, I'll be looking for you on the other side at my first opportunity."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2024, 12:13:01 AM »
Location: The Imperial Palace
Time: 5:43 AST

"Can I do this, truly, it's not like I'm taking care of a kitten or a puppy, but an entire nation." "You can, and you will," came the reply.

"Will I succeed or will I falter?" "That is dependent on you and your actions, but you'll always have support even if things go sideways. We can't get it right every time, after all."

"Always so optimistic," she said as she turned to face Thomas, "it could be a rainy day here and you'd tell me "at least the sun is shining in..." that's where you insert "any other place than here", she said with a chuckle. "It's true though," he paused, "statistically, it's always shining somewhere so you just have to orient yourself toward that and then," he paused again to place a finger at the center of her chest, "it's shining here, too. How many people do you have out there, just because of your birth, looking to you for inspiration? The pain you have to endure without proper support, the weight you have to carry so they," he pointed outside of the Imperial Palace, "don't have to carry it?" "And of course you say that knowing you're right, I've no argument to provide to refute it," she replied.

"An argument isn't always necessary to a statement, especially one grounded in fact," he quickly retorted. "You're that confident in your position?" she snapped back to which he simply said, "find the error in my argument, it doesn't exist, and you know it. The light is always with you, you just need to know where to look." She sighed before locking her eyes with his, "I see the light, before me almost as if it were blinding, in your eyes. You might not intend it but you do give the best pep talks. Thank you," she said with a smile, "to quote a movie my mum used to watch on repeat, 'can I keep you?'" she continued.

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
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Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #25 on: February 25, 2024, 08:28:47 PM »
Location: Pyrena Castle, Residential Suite
Time: 1:53 AST

"Usually when such news is reported you break out of your shell, have a celebratory drink, yet today on the announcement of the death of one of Mundus' most prolific terrorists you find yourself sullen? It's hard to understand you at times, Luci," Beatrice sighed as she enjoyed a toast with Alex, which prompted Lucinda to rise from her seat and punch the television, incidentally where David's face had been prior to turning into an abstract art piece. "Luci!" Beatrice shouted with some confusion before being allowed to continue. "It's so easy for you, isn't it, to celebrate the death of the man who saw Asuna made it home safely? Did you sit down with him, did you see the plans he had for the Principality, did you sit in a tube with crying children and uncertain parents as all manner of uncertainty flew above your heads? "You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him," a quote you would find yourself to agree with, yes?" she asked pointedly, to which Beatrice nodded.

"Tell me what possibly a pygmy hedgehog, Baxter was his name, do for Kyle, let alone anyone beyond being yet another mouth to feed and water? Yet he couldn't bear the thought of him being homeless. You know me, I have little appreciation for pets as they're unpredictable and inflict their own emotions upon you, I digress though. Unlike you I saw his humanity, I saw the other side of the civil war you cast our lot in, and perhaps the world is celebrating the death of a terrorist because people like you, the Achkaerinese, the Dartfordians and every other nation accepted the Ironside narrative of the conflict without doing their due diligence. So no," she said as she turned her head to the broken television, "I will not be celebrating this death, but I will buy you a new television, sorry," she said as she rose to leave the room, stopping as she turned the door knob.

"In the most delicate debriefing I've ever given Asuna didn't give me any inclination of maltreatment while in Kyle's company, one of his own made sure she made the trek up the road to QAMB as, how did she say it, "I looked back and he wouldn't budge until he saw the guards at the gate had me in their arms." They did that for you, with no promises of alleviating their position, knowing they'd continue to be vilified, I hope you enjoy your celebratory evening. I wish you'd have remembered the reports I sent you, perhaps your heart would be a bit softer, and I'd have the Beatrice who held East Moreland to task for assassinating a new mother instead of one who takes such pleasure in death. I've killed countless people in your name so you wouldn't know the toll I've carried to this day, in the past I celebrated such deaths to keep up appearances. But this time?" she turned the knob of the door, "I'm tired of lying to everyone and myself. It wouldn't surprise me if they broke both the letter and the spirit of the MCUR before he died, but no one will bat an eye because, "terrorist." Goodnight, Bea," she said as she left the room, leaving Beatrice and Alexander to process her words.

As she walked back to her room she met her estranged husband in the hallway. "Are you alright? You seem troubled," he said, to which Lucinda would respond with a punch to the gut before finding herself on top of him punching his face relentlessly. "I told you to leave me alone and you couldn't even do that much?" she said in between blows, only being stopped when Kado pulled her off of him. "Lucinda," he said quietly, "return to your room, now," he added when she lingered. With a tear rolling down her cheek she nodded and made her way to her room, leaving Kado to help Lucius off the floor. "She is pushing her lu..." Kado would stop him mid-sentence. "You suffered a clumsy fall, necessitating you to take a few days off from work. Do you understand me?" he asked, and when Lucius opened his mouth to offer resistance Kado made a "tsk tsk" noise. "You saw what I did to Taryō, I trust. Don't fucking trifle with me," he said as he brushed Lucius' shoulders off. "You'll be as good as new in a few days, yes?" to which Lucius simply nodded. "Good," Kado said as he turned to walk down the hallway.

Without knocking he entered Lucinda's room, "I trust that felt good," he said as he sat next to her, placing his arm around her, "I'm sure <0 is already scrubbing the footage from that camera as we speak. I know you're conflicted with this news, you saw a side of Mr. Barren none of us have seen, but we must act in ways that support the Empress in such times." Noticing Lucinda was about to speak in protest he raised his finger to her lips, "I know what you're going to say and, while you have no official standing anymore, you're bound to protect the Empress and her interests, and we both know that she has a special admiration for the Ironsides, we won't be crushing that or her ambitions to restore things between our nations. You deal with this however you need to but, as far as the Empress is concerned, you have to keep this within your heart. You try to impart upon her sympathy for Kyle and you're consigning her reign to suicide, do you understand?" to which Lucinda would over a delayed nod. "Good," he said as he stood up, "just as with Lucius you suffered a fall, so you'll be confined to your room for the next week. Do what you must in that time, process your grief, but keep your feelings to yourself. I may not have the mandate of the Rosari, but I now have purview over your previous portfolio and I will ensure that nothing derails the Empress from success. Do you understand?"

"Yes, stop repeating your questions, by the Godesses," she finally spoke. "Just had to drive the point home," Kado said as he departed.

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis

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Re: The Castle On The Hill
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2024, 11:41:02 PM »
Location: Pyrena Castle, Residential Suite, Lucinda's Quarters
Time: 2:15 AST

"Hey," Beatrice said as she closed the door behind her, two days after the incident in her quarters. "Hey," Lucinda said without emotion. Beatrice took a seat next to her and put her arm around her before pulling her in for a forceful hug. "I don't have anything else to say beyond I'm sorry.....and I might of had INIS use their capabilities to cancel your replacement for the TV you destroyed because I'll replace it myself. Look, Luci," she said raising her eyes to her own with her hand on Lucinda's chin, "I get it, I get why you were angry, and as always you somehow ended up looking out for me in the end. But I'm not Empress anymore," she took in a breath, "it's Asuna's feelings toward the Morelanders you have to think about and, to be honest, being a Borland sympathizer isn't going to win her any friends. It will earn her enemies, certainly, so while I in some ways share your reservations on this issue, we have to do what's best for my little girl, and that's supporting her and what she has set as her goals. The Borlanders didn't have a Beatrice Anselmo to rock the clock of the Ironsides, they lost, and in that the future from that point belonged to the Ironsides. I trust your character and so," she said looking to the pygmy hedge hog Lucinda had adopted with a pause, "Baxter JR," Lucida sighed, "don't take his life as being in vain. It seems he introduced you to empathy, embrace that and in that, a bit of him lives on into the future. Little Baxter JR is certainly more cute than your plants," Beatrice said as she went over to his enclosure and made silly noises his way, which prompted Lucinda to stop her, "You're disturbing his normal routine, I appreciate your affection but it is not necessary at this moment."

"Sorry," Beatrice said as she sneaked a berry into Baxter JR's enclosure with a knowing grin while whispering "Aunty Beatrice's got you", which he readily consumed. "But thank you," Lucinda replied eventually. "I get it, I do, but this is ultimately your fault. You befriended them without taking into full consideration that they might just be bad guys too; Barren wasn't a bad guy in my book." "And while I respect that,"Beatrice sighed, "it's irrelevant, wholly irrelevant, and I promise I'll support you all that you need right now but, as far as the Imperial Rokkenjiman Government is concerned, East Moreland eliminated a terrorist. That's what you, and I, must support for Asuna to succeed. Are you capable of holding your emotions back," she said with a light touch to her chest, "to see Asuna ultimately succeed?"

"Her life is my oath, I can separate my feelings from my obligations," Lucinda said with a measure of reservation. "Oh Luci," Beatrice said as she squeezed Lucinda, "if I weren't a married woman, you know you'd have my heart, I'm sorry that didn't quite track as we thought on the playground in our younger days. You know I always had an eye for you, and you a slot in my heart, but," Lucinda would interrupt her with a surprise kiss, which left the two most shocked equally. "I'm sorry," Lucinda said suddenly, "please leave now. I'm nearly through my mandatory period as stated by Kado and I'd like to get back to life beyond these walls. You complicate that objective..."

"I understand, Luci," Beatrice said as she rose and made the motions to leave, turning at the last moment to add, "but please know I love you, you're my soulmate in so many ways, and  I'm sorry, you're my muse, my inspiration, I'm sorry, I have to go," she said as she finally pushed the door open and left. "I feel the same," Lucinda said with a smile once the door closed, "and I hate that we're in the timeline I get to watch you have a family and a happy life whereas here I am," she motioned, "killing people with their own intestinal cords. I hate this life, I despise being a tool of violence, I hate all of it but as it's for you," she paused, "it's worth it."

Beatrice Anselmo
Grand Chancellor of the Independent Order
Empress of the First Empire of Rokkenjima

Factbook of the First Empire of Rokkenjima - Kingdom of Clysperis