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surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Legends foretold of every century there would be a young man or woman with the ability to see possible futures. This ability would only belong to this one person, their eyes being able to see to the future as blessed upon them long ago by an ancient phoenix. As such, this particular person is brought to a temple and forced to stay there, offering service to the current emperor/empress regardless of previous ties. This caused a natural fight over this person of legend causing loss of many lives and countless wars as in war such an ability would be beneficial. With each century passing and wars between shoguns and emperors, coups and betrayals constantly occurring, the new Seer born into the current century is now in service to your character, the empress of their current people. However, this particular Seer, a young man named Haru refuses to tell your character any possible futures and has been doing so for awhile, consistently refusing any order your character tells them as he acts foul-mouthed and exceptionally rude no matter how many times your character may ask.

However this only develops into a rocky relationship between the two, considering Haru had given his word to serve your character the empress who had recently taken over with their army and continues to defy your character regardless of anything they may say or do, this however is stopped when an assassin comes to kill your character and Haru being close by had foreseen such a future and immediately saves your character. This begins a feeling of trust between them, though Haru otherwise would continue to act rebellious and dismissive afterwards, as the roleplay continues your character and Haru would eventually grow a strong friendship, delving into a forbidden romance between the two due to their conflicting statuses within the empire. Yet while this is occurring, an attack is launched upon your character's empire with intent to take it over and capture Haru to take his eyes as to see the future, as such this forces your character and Haru to flee and journey together and further developing their bond to take back your character's place as empress and the plot would continue from there.
Haru Xing

It was rare that a day would be quiet, and it was these days that the young man named Haru particularly enjoyed. It appears as if that fool won't darken my temple door today. A pleasant smile crossed his lips at this victorious thought, as the young man was settled upon a plush cushion that was the only protection from the chilly, cold floor. It was here in the heart of the brilliantly decorated temple that Haru would sit, being assaulted by constant visions of the future. At first, Haru had resented such power, never having desired it to be both his burden and his blessing to bear, but over time under the previous empress's care, Haru had grown to love his ability until she came. The serene smile that was upon his face had faltered, growing cold and agitated as his peaceful state was interrupted, leaving the young man's heart burning with intense hatred. Ah, yes, even on such a peaceful day as this, she would always come to his mind to haunt him. She who was inadequate and foolish, she who took a throne she didn't deserve. A sow he would call her, a rash and violent fool who took his dearest Mai-Jing from him. His teeth came down to bite upon his soft bottom lip, hands clenching into tightened fists as he shook the unpleasant memory of the current empress from his mind.

Haru was the nation's youngest seer, being at the fresh and young age of eighteen currently, he had been serving the Jade empire for three years prior to Mai-Jing's violent and untimely end, a death that could have been avoided if he'd not been so inexperienced and slow. Although he blamed himself for an empress who deserved the position, this new one did not. Perhaps it was personal bias that blinded him, but he didn't seem too keen on changing his tune now, as ever since the empress had taken over, he had locked himself in the temple of the Phoenix and refused to tell her any futures. He knew it was irresponsible of him, and quite immature. After all, he no longer was a boy. However, he couldn't very much help himself as the grudge he kept fostering within his heart only strengthened every time he lay his ruby eyes on such a disgusting creature. Yes, creature. He didn't see the current empress as a woman, and her insistent badgering almost made him wish to kill her himself... if that wouldn't put him in prison, that is. She was a parasite that he could never get rid of, and even if he hated her... he had to admit at the very least she was his only constant visitor.

The brilliantly decorated temple lined with gold and embroidered with images of the mystical bird who blessed "seers" such as himself was practically everywhere. However, as spacious as the temple was, he had no one to talk to. Servants only came three times a day with food due to some unspoken word to not interrupt Haru's concentration... as if the man needed to concentrate to see the future, for he couldn't stop even if he wanted to. So, the only consistent visitor he received day by day was the woman he hated most of all. But, as much as he didn't want to admit it, he took some sick amusement in seeing her frustrated with him denying her. It gave him an intense rush of satisfaction every time, which became a habit as he would automatically settle himself in the main hall of the temple awaiting her inevitable arrival. It was such a habit that he was fulfilling now, though as he pondered these thoughts of the foul woman, his eyebrows furrowed together as he finally released his poor bottom lip from his incessant biting, his left hand coming to rest upon the golden platter near him as he absentmindedly secured the warm tea that had been awaiting him to consume. Now that he thought about it, wasn't she running later than her usual audience?

A frown crossed his face then. His mind having discarded his victorious thought from earlier as he lowered his ruby gaze to the cup of warm tea, tilting the cup to his lips as the fragrance soothed him. Ah well, he had prayed that she would stop bothering him. Perhaps he should consider himself lucky today? However, just as he swallowed the first bit of warm tea that had managed to trickle down his throat... then he heard the familiar click, a sequence of knocks at the far side of the audience chamber which signaled the empress's arrival. The man choked, violent coughs leaving him as he suddenly slammed the cup of tea down. Why? Why now of all times?! Swallowing tea the wrong way was certainly not to put him in a better mood, and as he struggled to regain his composure, he began to seethe. She probably did that on purpose. Even if it was an irrational thought for him to have, he would always immediately blame the empress for the slightest inconvenience that assaulted him.

Hastily, Haru had brushed off the fine robes he wore now unfortunately stained with tea, grumbling under his breath a slew of curses. After all, Haru had been a commoner prior to having been found by the previous empress, and his foul mouth had been a rather... distinguishing characteristic of his compared to all of his seer predecessors before him. The man was a bit vain, having pride in his more delicate features although having hardened due to maturing into manhood. With soft, full lips and long lashes surrounding his unusual ruby eyes, these were traits that he took particular pride in and dressed to bring out the best first impression upon new visitors... or any visitors he would receive at all. It went with his position after all, to fulfill a saintly, and serene appearance. After giving up on the unfortunate tea stains that had landed on his pure white robes, a frustrated sigh left his lips as he awkwardly shifted his position, awkwardly shifting his legs beneath him as an old pain lanced up his side. His hands rested upon his lap as he painted a soft, serene smile across his lips. A usual facade to hide the anger brewing underneath the surface.

Haru bowed his head as soon as the temple door had opened, his voice pleasant enough to mask his anger... for now, "May the might phoenix bless your path. How may I be of assistance today, sow?" Calling the empress a pig was absolutely disrespectful, but his pleasant tone hadn't wavered yet as he rose out of his bow, his pleasant smile still plastered to his face as his ruby eyes narrowed with hostility at the familiar sight of the empress. This was him falling into his usual routine with her, coming up with whatever insult he possibly could throw at her. Not once had he called her, "Your Highness" as he should. Even at her coronation, he had refused to bow to her, instead insulting her then and there much to the horror of the royal court. Indeed, Haru made his hatred of her well known, and he wasn't going to hide it. It's not as if she could do much to him anyways, and he knew that quite well.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko
Shoji- a door, window or room divider used in traditional Japanese architecture of transparent sheets on a lattice frame.
Kiseru- a japanese pipe.
Engan- A kingdom located on the eastern shore, neighbour to the Jade empire.
Zabuton- a japanese cushion for sitting
Kosode- a japanese garment, worn much like an outer robe.

Theme: Love to the dust- Roc Chen

There were indeed many perks to being the Empress. To be wrapped up in the country's finest silks and fabrics, to have every person follow your every whim and demand, to be able to afford anything- to be able to do whatever you want. The world was her oyster, to be crushed or to be held gently in the palm of her red gloved hand. At least that was how it was supposed to be. At least- that was the narrative of those old fairy tales she had read back at home. Instead, there she was, some kind of caricature of the like as her advisor droned on from the other side of the shoji screen.

"So you what you mean to say..." She paused, drew a deep breath of the kiseru pipe and exhaled in a coil of smoke "-Is that We, the empress, am required to entertain the likes of the foreign minister's son to assure our trading remains amicable with the Engan?". Silence. Her cinereous eyes watched impassively as the ringlets of ashen breath dispersed against the backdrop of the garden in front. Seated on the floor of the tatami mats with her body leaning against the zabuton's dark oak armrest, she had been tapping her long nails against the wood through the entirety of the conversation. Until now.

There was the rustle of fabric, then footsteps leading up to the shoji panels. The middle-aged man who was prostrating in front of them froze up, a hint of frustration in his pale, trembling features as he faced the floor. The doors slammed open, revealing a pair of immodestly exposed legs upon which the man immediately glanced away. "Then so let it be. Summon the minister's son, We shall entertain him," Her voice reverberated sonorously above his head but he made no attempt to raise his gaze. A bit flabbergasted, as a matter of fact, as he kept blinking his bulging eyes at the floor.

No, he rather remained in the deep bow with bated breath as she rounded him. The black billowing fabric of her kosode dragging behind until out of sight. Eventually, he did speak up, words fumbling through quivering lips as he crawled to face her departing figure "Where are you headed, your Majesty?". The woman did not respond but rounded the corner of the hallway wordlessly.

The servants folded like leaves in the wind as she passed by, each one of them inclined forward in a deep bow with a greeting of "Your Highness" or "Your Majesty". Behind her back was a different story, however, a low murmur of voices muffling the sound of her footfalls faithfully. If it was not about her 'shameful' display of skin, shoulders bared for the world to see and kimono slipping between her thighs, it was about her manners. How she sat with her legs spread like a man, how she wielded the sword despite being unfit as a woman, how she had women and men alike warm her bed every night-

A bunch of hows and not whys. Why not of relevance anymore as she passed the throne room and made for the garden. Gentle sunlight greeting her in lukewarm kisses over the exposed flesh. Amongst the friends of root and wand, delicate petals and budding branches, her heart sang. The distant ripple of water washing the frown off her sculpted features as she lingered. The peace didn't last longer than she had inhaled a breath of fresh air, though, before someone else interrupted. "Enjoying the nice weather, Your Majesty?" Her closed eyes opened at once, recognising the melodious voice as belonging to her bodyguard. "I was," She wavered, unable to return to the previous zen with his eyes boring holes in her neck, Mitsuko exhaled "Until you came along that was".

She could hear him snicker behind her back, a sound so reminiscent of home that she could envision it in her mind. The tall mountains that descended into dales, the stretches of thick forests that lurked beneath- all the way to the rice paddies which seemed to unfold into infinity; lit with fireflies during summer's peak. The sound of two pairs of feet, pitter-pattering over the mud path leading into the forest and sticks clashing in a fierce battle. Days past and gone as Hayate too, bowed once he came within her sight.

Her lips twitched, an urge to comment something snarky biting on the inside of her cheek. About how "he would never do that back home" or "look how the mighty have fallen". Would he respond if she did? Her eyes narrowed as she took the sight of him in. Something focused in the way her brows knitted while scrutinizing his face. Searching, for anything really, that could foretell his response. Instead of waiting for her response, he spoke up again "Are you headed for the seer, your Highness?". That little hardness in his tone, the slightest hint of a reprimand, made her immediately give up and continue walking.

The snicker was, like those days, merely ghosting memories.

"I wish you success in your endeavour, your Highness." His bowing figure followed her and she wanted to tell him to 'not follow her'. 'Endeavour my ass'. But he was already gone, having returned to the shadows before the sigh had passed her lips.

The temple guards didn't even as much as blink anymore at her frequent visits to the temple. Neither did they dare speculate what went on behind the golden doors. Did she hit the poor seer for refusing to do as he was ordained? Did she torture the poor man, whip him herself upon the altar? Or did she try to seduce him? Press her supple body up against his in an exchange of services? The truth was- a bit of everything.

The servants accompanied her to the far end door of the audience chamber like always before she waved them off. Went through the effort of opening each chamber door herself until his familiar appearance manifested like a reward at the end of the long road.

"May the might phoenix bless your path. How may I be of assistance today, sow?"

Her face cracked into a wide grin, one that actually reached her eyes in little creases as she plopped down in front of him. She raised her knee towards her chest and the fabric of her clothing hiked to the side to reveal the large tattoo on her thigh. "Spare me the pleasantries, lettuce head." She drew a deep puff of her pipe and exhaled in a cloud "I was thinking we could do something fun today". She should have been mad, she should have been horrified- the truth was that she should have been many things instead of the carefree front she was putting up.

A mere underling, calling the empress a sow? Denying her, her -well not- birthright to his ability to foretell the future? Outrageous! How dare he?! That had been the case once upon a time. This rather effeminate looking fellow was, in a way, her biggest failure as an empress. Seeing as someone with a gift of the gods wouldn't acknowledge her rule. She puffed on the pipe. "I was thinking a board game perhaps? Something exciting like karuta!" Her eyes twinkled at the mere thought, a little chuckle escaping her reclined figure as she imagined the man jumping after the cards. A lurid quirk to her lips appeared as she leaned forward, inched closer to the man on her knees with her robes falling disorderly to expose the cleavage of her chest.

"Or would you rather- play me?"

Mitsuko burst out in a smoke sputtering roar that transitioned into giggles as she shouted after the servants to bring all board games in the castle. "Right then, I guess I should also ask how're the visions going? You ever see anything fun in that head of yours or is it all doom and gloom?" She innocently cocked her head to the side as if all past regressions had never occurred.
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surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Ah, here came the familiar headache again. His nose wrinkled with distaste, his ruby eyes settling on the kiseru the empress had within her grasp. Disgusting. "I needn't remind you that this is a holy place, you cannot-" The soft tone of his voice was interrupted as the empress had spoken, calling him "lettuce head". That was a blow to his pride, obvious in the way the young man's jaw clenched and his shoulders squared. But, very well. If she desired for him to spare her any pleasantries, that is just what the seer would do. He allowed her to continue to speak, falling silent as his pleasant smile was all too quick to evaporate from his features, leaving an annoyed expression in its wake. As she chattered on about having fun, bringing up karuta of all things, the man huffed, uninterested as he looked from her to the cup of tea he had yet to finish, "I'd rather not. It seems as if there is no brain in that thick skull of yours, but I wouldn't be surprised. An ape would do a better job than..." His voice trailed off, stiffening up at her sudden approach.

He knew quite well the woman was a loose one, and his expression shown no signs of amusement or even the tiniest flicker of desire as she approached. As usual, he took in her appearance with distaste. Truly an ape of a woman who only caved to her base desires, unfitting of the grace and poise required of the seat of an empress. His ruby eyes appeared more and more disgusted the closer she drew to him, teeth grinding together as the heat of anger was boiling within his chest. Her next words made him almost punch the woman if his hand wasn't currently preoccupied with grasping hold of the tea. Obviously, as she had burst out into laughter, the young man's face twitched, taking in a deep breath and exhaling. The last time he lost his temper, he had the empress's advisors begging him for days to curve his foul-tongue, a request he immediately rejected. Why should he apologize to this woman? She was undeserving of his respect.

"I would say I'm appalled at your behavior, sow, but quite frankly that would be repeating what I've said to you time and time again." A pleasant smile once more crossed his soft face, his ruby eyes as cold as he possibly cold make them, "Find some boar to mate with, that'll be more fitting for an animal such as yourself." An incredibly disrespectful quip, but he didn't care. She irked him in ways he didn't even think was possible, and her looseness irritated him more than anything else. Must he continue to suffer her unwanted advances? As if the young man would ever find such a woman desirable, "Even if you just happen to be the last woman on earth, I would happily jump from the highest mountain to get away from you." His tone was a bit colder then, smile turning into a deep scowl as she had shouted for her servants to gather some board games for them. When had he agreed to such a thing?

A heavy sigh left his lips as he picked up the cup, taking a sip from the fragrant tea. She always did what she liked anyways, so there was no need for him to engage in her antics... even though he wound up doing so anyways and getting riled up himself. As much as he didn't want to admit it, Haru felt like he kept being dragged along at her pace whenever she appeared to disrupt his peaceful days of quiet meditation. At her question, his lips parted from the tea cup in his hands, looking over to her with a frigid smile, "An animal doesn't need to know the future, just live in the present as you've always have been. Disregard tomorrow and all of that nonsense. Fight, breed, and hopefully die soon. That's all you're good for anyways." He waved his hand dismissively at her, though the young man was always assaulted by constant images and voices, disconnected events that passed by in the blink of an eye. Pathways that could have been taken, pathways having yet to be discovered. It was a disorientating gift, but one he had grown used to. Of course, his words he would never think much would come of it until much later, but for now the man remained oblivious to his careless sentence.

"Do you have someone else to bother? Surely, your favorite pastime isn't to pester me daily." His red gaze looked over her dismissively, disgust plain as day in his face. Through a man's eyes, yes the woman was attractive, a seductress that Haru could picture fitting quite well with the oiran. Ah, that would be a more fitting profession for her. However, in his hatred filled opinion of her, he found her as attractive as a wriggling eel. "Though, I wouldn't be surprised if it is... a sad life indeed if you get some sort of sick enjoyment out of this." The man had shifted in his spot, becoming quite uncomfortable in his seated position, the plush cushion he was sitting on proving to be of little help to ease a rather old injury he had suffered years prior to being discovered. The man sat in now a more casual position, another out of line thing for him do to before the empress, his injured leg shaking a bit as the pressure of sitting upon it was relieved. The young man had lived in contested territory between the Jade and Engan empires, being enslaved with a family that no longer existed, and with it came inevitable permanent damage. He unfortunately had suffered quite dearly during his enslavement, an injury he received from mouthing off at an overseer as he had attempted to protect someone whose name and face he could no longer remember. Due to being a slave, and having not a single coin to his name, his leg had never been set by a professional, being hastily done through a long and painful process he inflicted upon himself; thus his leg never had healed properly, a hinderance that he hid quite well when in the eyes of the public, but something that he didn't care if the empress was aware of or not. After all, he didn't need her pity.
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Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko
kyōsoku- an arm rest out of wood. Usually accompanies a zabuton.

Theme: 13 jours en france (francis lai)

The woman listened with glee to the spiteful insults, the quick-witted rebuttals that almost habitually devolved into the man expressing his disdain for her. It only befell as natural for those delicate lips of his to speak the words no one else dared to say and she instinctually quirked her own painted mouth into a sly curve in response. Making the conversation into an exchange of occasional chuckles, exhales of smoke and his resonant voice that prevailed through it all in its hatred.

They painted a rather odd picture for the twitchy servant girls that came shuffling back and forth, one board game after another lining up around them. The Empress, a figure reminiscent of the tinkling of glasses. Clashing in celebration as spirits trickled down parched throats. Throats, screaming for relief from the daily routine of suffering and bellowing in loud laughter to compete with the inner voice of remorse. Indeed, there was something sultry and sinful ghosting over her countenance.

In the half-lidded eyes, heavy and smiling under the row of thick lashes and the red blush. Catlike in their narrowed disposition and adding to the overall sharpness of the rest of her face. Cheeks slim and nose and lips thinning to the edge of her chin in a hawkish look. As vigilant as a hawk as well, as she took notice of the girls' skitterish glances with a discreet wink. The girls blushed in turn. The signal clear as day for them what was about to transpire, they immediately took their leave. Mitsuko waited till the pitter-pattering feet ceased and made herself comfortable upon the pillow opposite the Seer that the servants had fetched.

She picked up one of the white stones from the go board and rolled it pensively between her fingers. "Indeed, it is as you say. We're all just rushing to our untimely deaths, so, why not make it comfortable with good company?" She disregarded the fact that it was not at all what the man had said and pushed the board in between them. Her gaze lingered ever so briefly upon the Seer's leg that singled itself out in its trembling before placing the stone on the board.

She had seen this quite a few times by now, the pins and needle shaking. Except it wasn't pins and needles, for it sometimes remained even after he had risen from his seat. Sometimes even before he had even taken the seat as well, a very subdued imbalance in the way he walked.

Mitsuko hadn't mentioned it those other times. Strangely enough, it felt as if it would be out of line for her to bring it up. Yes, amongst all the things that could be out of line, this was it for her. The sight brought her back to the very first time she had hunted with her father.

How she had pulled the bowstring back, shoulders and arms taut under the tension. Not over or under-extending, a perfect unwavering T amidst all thick tree stems. Her feet had seemed to root themselves in the ground, becoming one with nature in renewed keen senses. No longer an intruder but an observer as the gentle rustle of leaves, twittering of the birds and the inhabitants of the earthen floor continued despite her. Then, there it was. A silhouette of brown fur that weaved between the trees. The holes in the foliage caressed the deer's silky back in spots of sunlight and upon its head, it reared two small horns. A young male that had probably just left his mother's side in a search for a life of his own.

She had aligned the arrow with her intent and was just about to shoot when their eyes had met. The deer's round peerless black ones and her unblinking brown ones. Her hand had stayed, the process of repeated swallowing apparently observed by the deer as it didn't move. It had merely stared for a while longer then turned to continue on its way. That was until her father's voice had roared from behind her.


She had released the arrow and as if guided by an invisible piece of string, it had felled the deer with a bleating cry. Well, not exactly. Because the deer hadn't been killed.

Mitsuko leaned on the kyōsoku, the cool wood bringing comfort to her arm that had suddenly begun to feel unnaturally hot. Dead or not, the deer's fate had remained the same. 'An injured animal can never survive in the wild', was the sentiment her father had given her along with the knife to cut its throat.

The woman looked up at the Seer, a fair image of everything heavenly. From his delicate features to the vibrant colours which composed his otherwordly appearance- she closed her eyes with a hum. You do, indeed, fit in here more than me.

"Did you know?" She puffed on the pipe without as much opening her eyes for the conversation "They're going to perform a mandatory health check on all castle servants tomorrow". A pause. Silence. "That includes you since you're a servant of mine whether you like it or not." Mitsuko grinned "-My most loyal servant indeed that never leaves the temple grounds. I'm much obliged". She chuckled, a short self-pleased sound "It's for the festival next week. We need everyone at their best in case I'm attacked and so on".


surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Haru let out a sharp exhale as the empress had responded to his words as he retorted, "I wouldn't consider you good company." The words were scathing as he glowered at her from where he sat, the trembling of his leg slowly beginning to ease. As the servant girls filtered in and out of the extravagant chamber, setting down the necessary pieces before them, his arms crossing as he frowned at her, allowing himself to fester in his hatred. For a moment, the Seer's ruby gaze had met the empress's, a single second the man had allowed his mind to drift, away from the chaos of the visions assaulting him, allowing the coals of red-hot anger to fade. It was a foolish fantasy, a daydream to filter out all that had turned wrong.

His mind pictured if the temptress before him was the noble soul of the one empress who deserved his loyalty. A small, delicate woman sat in the empress's place, adorned in the golden finery he remembered her in the day he had lost her. Her soft skin, sun-kissed by her ever adventurous nature to travel the empire she loved; plump, soft lips painted a vibrant red, with a darker shade of blush lightly applied to her darker skin. The spray of blemishes, freckles that she felt embarrassed by dotting across the bridge of her nose. Her eyes, a deep brown, kind and wise, a betrayal of the years she had served her nation. With her came the smell of flowers, as he remembered fondly that the dearly departed Mai-Jing loved lingering in the garden for hours on end, gazing out into the skies with a longing that he never had the bravery to ask.

This trick of his mind had caused his angry features to disappear, and for a moment Haru's face seemed soft, tender, until the empress's eyes closed and he was drawn back to reality. A reality where Mai-Jing no longer existed, replaced with the serpent in her place. His throat felt an ever familiar lump beginning to form as he closed his eyes, disgust coiling in his stomach. How much of a fool was he to even picture that Mai-Jing would ever be this foul woman, this usurper. It was a disgrace to her memory, one that he would not suffer.

Haru's countenance was cold as he listened to the woman speak. His eyebrows knitted, displeased. Haru detested mandatory health checks, as unfortunately attention was always drawn to his leg. With it came whispers, mutters of disgust. As much as the Jade empire proud itself on its ingenuity, superstitious beliefs were like a plague that ate at the very dregs of society to the highest position. The crippled, and the disfigured were signs of curses according to the populous; even if in recent years it had been subdued, he knew well enough accompanied by complaints about his inappropriate conduct that many looked upon a disfigured Seer as the utmost sign of horrid luck.

Perhaps they were right? Because of his presence, his dearly beloved empress was dead, and all he had left were the ghost of her memory and the remnants of an empire she loved. Due to his own foolish devotion for her, he remained in the imperial palace, but locked himself away in the depths of the temple to separate himself from everyone and everything. He would remain to look over the land that she loved, and hoped that would give her some peace. A sweet sentiment... if not a bit foolish, but Haru had accepted that he was a fool.

His soft lips bared at the empress, rage sparking to life as he snapped, his hand coming down upon the board, pieces flying and clattering upon the fine golden floors. The man was in this moment closer to the woman than he'd ever permitted before, his soft voice low with the anger burning bright in his breast, "I am not your loyal servant! And never shall I be!" Truly, it almost was as if Haru had been insulted. But, it seemed as if the woman had unknowingly triggered a nerve in the man, never would he explode in such a vibrant expression of rage. Taking in a breath, the man had leaned away from her, settling back into a more relaxed position as his eyes settled on the scattered pieces. "Death would be a mercy for one such as you. Perhaps, fate will answer my prayers to send you to the next life, freeing me from this torment." His hands clenched into fists as he closed his eyes, shaking his head as he regained some of his composure. "I will not object to the health check. It's not as if I have a choice." Calm and cold, void of the vibrancy of anger that had caused a flare of red to color his pale flesh. The angry red coloration had now disappeared, leaving the man looking anywhere but the empress before him. After a few seconds had passed before he cleared his throat, his passing over his lips before he had looked back to her, "I know I may have said this nigh on a thousand times, however you have entered holy grounds," A thin finger pointed to the statue of the mystical bird that loomed behind him, as if to add emphasis to his point, "You must adhere to the rules, and making passes at the servants as well as your less than acceptable attire is an affront to the Phoenix itself." His eyes glared at the pipe still within her grasp, "And your awful habit in particular is certainly not allowed." Haru was slipping back into his role, a holy embodiment of the Phoenix was what he was supposed to be, and he will fulfill it accordingly... well, with the exception of his disrespect to the empress but that was one rule that he would allow himself to break.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko
hakama- old style japanese pants.
mukuro wax- a pale-yellow, waxy, water-insoluble solid with a gummy feel that's used in candles.

Theme: Long Roads ● Lee Byung Woo

The Empress' reflection in the polished surfaces of the golden pillars didn't amount to much more than a lost child at the moment. Having reverted to the like in the face of the angry phantom that had possessed the Seer. Or perhaps he had just been repressing it all along. His hot breath fanning over her face during the brief moment it had looked like a physical altercation was unavoidable.

Something incomprehensible flickered behind the statue like facade. Life returning in the little twitches of her fingers first and then repeated blinking. Mitsuko drew a jagged inhale from her subconscious bated state, the air baulking in her throat in its journey to the lungs. As if awakening after a long slumber and she struggled to remember basic functions. It smelled like mukuro wax. Her stomach lurched in between anxiety and rage. Both the same to her as her muscles tensed to mirror the inner turmoil. She scrambled to her feet, unusually uncoordinated as the rancid odour grew stronger and stronger.

At last her gaze pinned the man on the floor. "Don't you dare-" She snarled, baring her teeth then clenching her mouth shut as if trying to not misspeak. Her pale, trembling features betrayed the icy coldness in her flashing eyes. "Don't you dare act orderly now." the rising and falling of her chest were laboured, almost to the brink of frantic. Mitsuko cocked her head back, chin lifted high "I am the Empress! No rule applies to me because I am Heaven's chosen. I made it so". Slowly, surely she descended from the frenzy. The unusually expressive facial features unscrewing into her normal blank face as she stared the Seer down. The question being if she actually saw him, as she did so.

Regardless the woman spun around, the fabric of her robes flowing dramatically through the motions. Then she was gone, marching stiff-backed out the temple with servants and guards dodging her. She didn't even notice that she had left behind her kiseru.

The night that awaited afterwards was a long one, the Empress confining herself to her chambers much to the dismay of Ministers and servants alike. On a normal occasion, she would have had a person or two fill her bed on such a day like this. This night she turned them all away, however, choosing to instead cradle herself in the centre of the red silk sheets. Knees retracted against her chest and arms clutching them tightly as she repeated a whisper to the night:

"I am the Empress".

It smelled like-

Morning arrived uneventfully, the castle alive with hustle and bustle once more. The Empress did not make the usual visit to the temple that day, rather let the Court physician be the Seer's company for the evening. The very next day, she was back though.

In between the stifled breaths of summer, hot and humid against her skin, Mitsuko counted the seconds in sighs. The shoji doors to the furthermost audience chamber rattled open with an unnecessary display of force. Revealing an ambiguous silhouette that belonged and did not belong to the Empress. Because, unlike her usual self she was donned up in a black pair of hakama and a properly arranged blue dotted kimono. The brown hair pulled taut in a ponytail with the fringe slicked back out of her eyes way. "We're heading out lettuce head!" She beamed, grinning wide as she threw another pair of hakama and kimono at the man "Get dressed, there's no time to waste".


surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Hah. His lips twitched, a smile threatening to cross his face at the pure rage he managed to spark in the empress. The satisfaction in seeing that he could still get underneath her skin causing the man's heart to quicken in his chest. Perhaps, maybe he desired for someone feel a mere fraction of the seething anger he felt. But her words were spoken with such arrogance, such panic, that for a second the man was... bewildered. This wasn't the usual anger he would receive from his scathing, angry insults. This woman seemed like that of a child before him, panicked and enraged. Even as she stood before him, a cold, bitter smile had crossed his lips, the deep ruby of his eyes staring back at her, at eyes that seemed like they looked through him. If he were perhaps a less vindictive man, he perhaps would have prostrated himself before her, begging for her forgiveness, or if he were as merciful and sympathetic like Mai-Jing, he would have tried to reach out to her, to attempt to discover the source of her panic, to soothe whatever ache she may carry.

But he was not a sniveling servant, nor was he a benevolent savior. The man was merely a boy who cared not of the world, nor of those around him. All that mattered to him was Mai-Jing, and she was dead. So nothing, no person would ever matter to him anymore. "Heaven's chosen? Have you forgotten who you speak to? If you are the so called Empress you claim to be, the Phoenix would have acknowledged your rule. But, He has not, never shall He for as long as you may live." Words cruelly spoken from delicate rose-petal lips, reflecting perhaps the arrogant words she had spoken to him. Haru knew he was out of line, far out of line for ever speaking to the empress in such a way. But, did he care? No. He was the Seer, a man gifted by the Phoenix itself to share its gift to those worthy of it. He would not bow to the unworthy, the undeserving. And she, the woman before him was nothing in his eyes.

Haru didn't move from his spot, as immobile as the golden Phoenix behind him as the empress had made her departure. The eerie silence that followed as soon as the gilded temple doors had slammed shut once more left the man to his solitude. His irritation, such haughtiness had drained from his system, leaving a hollow feeling in his chest. To feel such emptiness after burning through his anger was something that he experienced daily, but not to the extent that had plagued him now. The man's shoulders slouched, his gaze shifting to the gilded golden floors only for his attention to turn upon the kiseru the empress had left behind. A thin, pale finger had reached out, caressing the pipe's edge, a distinct feeling of desiring to crush the object having seized him. However, after a few moments he decided to leave the the pipe in the condition it was in, picking it up in his hands as he placed the pipe at the golden, clawed feet of the Phoenix, his gaze shifting upward to stare at the gold, metallic eyes looming high above him. A tingle of hate burned deep in his heart as he whispered, "Why have you given me this burden? Why do you persist to prolong my torment?" Many questions, all starting with why? If he'd never been blessed by the Phoenix to carry out its will, perhaps he would have been oblivious to the many futures that danced before his eyes, to the pain of losing a beloved. If he had been normal, then he would still be enslaved, but at the very least anything was better than this prison. He could not live beyond the lands of the palace, for his clairvoyance was sought by warlords and nations, nor would his stubborn love for a woman long departed would permit him to leave. He truly was a fool.

It was a mindless day that had passed following the rather tense ending to the empress's audience. Haru's only companion being the court physician, which he had complied with. Otherwise, his day was spent in silence in his exile, staring blankly ahead at empty air as countless futures demanded his attention, beckoning him to focus on one, only for it to be overwhelmed by another. A kaleidoscope of suffering briefly broken by futures of hope, of joy from all those in the vicinity of the temple and lands beyond. All the while, self-loathing had caused the man to remain within the audience chamber, his previous red-hot anger having long died in his chest as his eyes frequently would trail to the kiseru he had placed at the Phoenix's feet, with the smallest part of himself desiring her companionship, even if he would never allow himself to embrace that truth. The loneliness was swallowing him again, leaving his mind wandering and wondering if yesterday had been the last time the empress would disturb his slumber. Perhaps, he should have been more grateful for her leaving him be. He should have been feeling such a way, and yet... he felt empty.
The following day was just as long as the rest, Haru having previously locked himself within his room, allowing his mind to torture himself with his failure and previous memories of a woman that he could no longer see. The visions of the future were still as vivid, as disorientating as ever, causing the man to put his hands to his head as if that could possibly block the endless barrage so he could wallow in his misery without the constant pull at his mind. Eventually, he'd given up, and going through the motions the man had once more settled upon his spot within the audience chamber. A habit he could not break, even if he wanted to. Hours trickled by, slow and steady as the ruby-eyed man slowly began to close his eyes, he almost would have fallen asleep... until the gilded doors had opened with a loud bang causing the man's eyes to snap open, his heart jumping to his throat as he stared bewildered at the masculine figure... wait, that wasn't quite right. Perhaps, a woman... Oh great Phoenix, no. Please, anybody but her!

Before he can utter a single word, there was the ever irritating nickname the empress would "affectionately" give him as she had thrown a pair of hakama and kimono at Haru, hitting him square in the face. Grabbing hold of the clothing, he slammed the clothes down before him, seething. Oh, why did he even desire this woman to come and bother him again? Had he forgotten how irritating she could be?! Her next words made the man's expression grow cold, and like that of a cornered animal, the Seer had retreated backward until his back hit the very edge of the Phoenix statue looming behind him, "Absolutely not!" How could he break his exile over such a foolish reason as the empress wanting him to go somewhere with her? Never! It was inconceivable! "No reason you can possibly give would make me leave this temple! Go bother someone else!" He hissed those words, his eyes narrowing at her in anger. If one could imagine a cat with its back arched and hissing, that was the attitude Haru was displaying. The man hadn't left the temple with the exception of the current empress's coronation, nor had he even stepped a single toe outside the imperial palace since Mai-Jing had died. This temple was to be his tomb, and he refused to allow himself any freedom, punishing himself for a failure of duty.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko

Theme: Tired by beabadoobee

How thick-skinned would one have to be to keep returning to the one who rejected you consistently? Her grin faltered with a pronounced sigh, rolling her eyes much like a spoiled child at the man's 'overreaction'. Very, was the answer. The woman cocked an incredulous brow at the Seer, not willing to leave yet she crossed her arms over her chest and leaned back on the shoji door. "So you intend to stay in this temple for the rest of your life?" Her gaze dipped to his leg, a mental note of 'it looks better' passing to the back of her mind before continuing "-I guess...I won't leave either then". The Empress sat down on the cold floor in what was one smooth motion of legs folding, mirroring her interlinked arms in an equally stubborn display. "I'll order the servants to bring a futon in here so I can sleep, eat and live here. Forever and ever just like you".

The cicadas buzzed impatiently outside. For the Empress, his very presence in the audience chamber prior to her arrival only indicated what she had already suspected- he was actually waiting for her. Perhaps even from the day before when she hadn't graced him with her visit. Truly, wasn't she only doing him a favour by trying to free him from the languidness of his daily duties? Her shoulders slumped as she relaxed her arms, propped one elbow upon her knee instead and rested her chin in its open palm.

She couldn't, of course, mention or question his presence or any of the sort- lest he would run away and complicate things even further. Mitsuko understood that much if nothing else. She parted her lips and made for another noisy exhale as the brown eyes studied the man. Something contemplative filtering over her expression as she did.

She tried to imagine how it would've been for him to grow up, the youngest recorded Seer in history. Devoid of autonomy, devoid of choice as his path had already been paved for him. Living in the past, present and the future simultaneously through those carnation red eyes that his patrons relied on. Suddenly the man seemed to be little more than a boy. All angry eyes, bruised knuckles and unconscious flinches; all jagged edges, cutting up whoever dared come close. She blinked and for a split second his face wavered. Became someone else in those clenched jaws and flexed claws. Someone who looked scarily similar to her own younger self.

Her lips twitched and the tension that commanded her facial muscles unravelled in ashen eyes, cinders rekindled by an excess moistness. Paradoxical in itself, as she glanced away with a scowl. Would he exchange those carnations for spider lilies if he could? Mitsuko suddenly stretched her limbs out wide and collapsed limply on the ground in a lying position. She yawned, excessively loud and made her cheek comfortable on her folded arms "Alright, goodnight then".

Yes, it was truly only for his sake that she did this. To stave away those hours that felt like years in the solitude of playing a role. The previous day had been boring enough, filled with obligations to meet the rich lords that made up her throne. Each one of them grasping for a part of her to claim as their own as she sat chained to the legs and armrests. Grabby, sticky hands. Ghosting along her skin in a fever dream of panting breaths, raking teeth and prickling tongues.


surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Haru visibly flinched as she had questioned him, if he intended to live in the temple for the rest of his life. He almost wished as if she'd not spoken those words aloud, for it put only a spotlight on the guilt that festered within his stomach, eating at his heart. He had no desire to leave the temple, no longer wanting to possibly tread the roads where a ghost of his loved one had once frolicked, perhaps he was afraid, afraid of remembering. Afraid that if he would remember her too much, he would cry, and the tears would not stop. It was a weak feeling indeed, a feeling that he ran from daily if his self-loathing did not eat at him first. The man almost settled upon not giving her an answer, until she had boldly proclaimed that she'd not leave, and that caused the man to scramble to his feet, the sudden shift of movement causing his leg to buckle, staggering only to quickly make sure that he would not fall.

"You can't!" The words came out too harsh, angry as he glared at her. He was to suffer alone, for as long as he may live. His punishment of solitude demanded that he'd continue to do so until his death would bring balance to the injustice of his beloved's end. Or rather, that was what he was telling himself. Truly, the man no longer desired life to flow in his limbs, so he denied himself the joys of life, so that he'd never forget his purpose. He was nothing without his beloved, and nor would he allow this woman to drag him from his exile... but he knew better, just from the way the empress had made herself all too comfortable on the temple floor, she would not leave him be. He almost wished to ask her; why? A question he had posed to the Phoenix countless times before, he now would desire to question her all the same. Why would she not leave him be? Why him? He just desired to be left alone, even if the loneliness begged to differ, shining a light upon his lie. He desired people, no matter how long he would deny it, her presence had chased away the loneliness for a time. Even if with her brought the heat of anger, it was better than the emptiness when she wasn't there.

His lips pressed together in a harsh line as she yawned, and with it the man let out a frustrated sound, exaggerated stomping over to the hakama and kimono she had given him and snatching the clothes from the ground as if to show his displeasure. With that, he retreated from her sight, exiting the east of the room as the shoji slammed shut behind him, whispers of curses leaving his lips floating upon the silent temple. He would not give her the satisfaction of watching him disrobe, adhering to the proper etiquette of someone of his status. A mortal embodiment of the Phoenix was he, and he was to conduct himself as such. The shifting of clothes over skin could be faintly heard as the man set about undoing the silken purity of his usual priestly garb, his grumbling accompanying the sound. Eventually, Haru would show himself again, the shoji slamming open once more as he slipped from the darkness of his chamber, a peculiar veil wrapped securely about the crimson glow of his eyes, the particular garment being a necessity whenever he'd leave the palace grounds.

Each Seer before him had been blessed with unnatural crimson eyes, something that set them apart from regular mortals. It was a mark of their blessing, their curse, and with the wicked heart of men, many Seers had met their untimely end with the lovely rubies plucked from their skulls. Never to decay, their eyes although lost the miraculous power of foresight were still circulated in the darkest of corners, harbingers of luck they were called. It was a fate that occurred to Haru's predecessor, a woman who had been found broken, her body violated and eyes nowhere to be found. The unlucky woman was only twenty, an obscene crime that no perpetrator had been punished for. But, such was the life of each Seer, death inevitably claiming them in their blossoming youth, for one reason or another, recorded in secret from the eyes of the public all before they could each even the middle of their life. It was a miracle alone that Haru survived untouched and unbroken, remaining defiant before an unseemly fate of all of the Seers who paved the road before him. So, it was this veil he used, pretending often that he was a blind man whenever he were to leave the palace, when putting his mind to it, the young man was quite the actor.

Haru had approached the empress, stopping before her as he felt the urge to strike her with his foot. Perhaps that would vent a tiny bit of his frustration, but deciding against it, the man had crossed his arms, a scowl ever present upon his delicate face as he peered down at her through the veil. "Hurry up. I don't want to leave the temple for too long." Words dripping with reluctance, the man had caved to her "threat" of remaining in the temple. But, it was a refreshing change to see Haru in garb that wasn't priestly robes, instead the kimono and hakama had made him seem more... normal, not the otherworldly being he had to present himself as, but just a boy. Of course, the veil was simple as well, and would perhaps make a few heads turn if only for a second, but it would be better than him leaving his eyes exposed for the world to see, less dangerous that way.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko
karesansui- Japanese rock garden, often called a zen garden

Theme: moon river (2cellos)

They were indeed an odd picture. If not of children, bickering needlessly over the most trivial things, then of an old married couple. Unable to communicate any longer through the restrained emotions that would explode every so often. Explode with words that pulled no punches and were only meant to poke the sore spots that only the other knew. The thought stirred her fantasy, made her imagine how such a life would play out.

Would she have been a farmer's wife? With skin touched by the sun in olive complexion and love bites in darkened spots? Back aching from bending over day in and day out, plucking and burying little seeds of life in the ground. Would she be carrying her newborn in a sling around her neck as a constant reminder of the burden of being responsible for feeding the same mouth? Or would she relish in the opportunity to be able to soothe someone else's cries and hold it like her own mother never did?

Would she return home in the evening with dirt up to her knees and fingers wrinkling at the tips to find her loved one already there? Their smile infectious in the way it would spread to herself and she would think to herself: "Love is not the end to the means but the means to an end". Like a giggle, subdued in its steady self-assured existence instead of the loud boisterous laughter she was accustomed to?

Little daydreams, fleeting and passing under lidded eyes that flickered open to steal peeks at the man. A hint of hesitation in the way she squinted her eyes and, after the shoji doors slammed closed with a familiar knock, crawled to lure on the other side of them. There was a murmur of agitated whisperings, peaking in swear words, and the shuffling of feet that fractured the peace. The Seer, perhaps getting stuck in the leg of the Hakamas and unable to proceed as he had to balance on one foot. It was no news to the Empress that the Seer swore. She still did find it amusing, though, that the pious temple guardian was the first one to crack under her antics. Perhaps, that was just why she found his companionship refreshing.

She also admitted to having inklings of visions of his naked body emerge in her head to fill in the gap in sight and sound. Was he as lean as he appeared, skin like the untouched sand of a karesansui garden? Or was he hiding a surprising strength in sculpted muscles? Mitsuko would probably never know the truth but it was worthwhile entertainment during the short wait. Once she sensed that the dressing was close to complete, she rolled back to her previous spot on the floor. Her shoulders and hip bones taking a tumble in the process upon which they became sore.

She closed her eyes once more. Appearing oblivious to the towering presence by her side. Why did she sense a sort of apprehensive bloodlust oozing from him? Thinking she ought to get up (before he had a funny idea) the Empress yawned and unfurled from the floor with her arms out wide. "Ahhhh-" She sighed in delight, winking enigmatically at the man as she did "Good nap". If anyone had spotted her eavesdropping she would have just simply claimed that she was in disbelief that the Seer had complied. Which was not a lie in itself. A little flicker of 'I can't believe this worked' in the way she glanced sideways.

Not something she showed, however, as her face screwed up in the usual toothy grin when she hopped to her feet. Mitsuko hummed at the sight of the veil and lifted it between her thumb and index finger. "Discreet," Her mouth corner quirked ever so slyly at the utterance of the word and she let go but a second later. Distancing herself before the Seer could complain. The rhythm and tempo of his outbursts a rather well-rehearsed dance for the Empress at this point as she walked away.

She led him outside of the temple to where they were greeted by a warm summer breeze and the vibrancy of nature at its peak. Waiting for the two was one horse, saddled and ready to go in the hands of the temple guard. Mitsuko climbed it with practised ease and took the reins upon which she spun the horse around to allow the man to climb up on the right side. She extended her hand towards him.

"You ever been horse riding?".


surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Haru scowled at the woman before him, his eyes rolling as she had winked at him, accompanied by the chill of disgust that would crawl its way down his spine. He had heard movement, his keen ears having picked up on a certain someone lingering outside of his shoji. Of course, he'd much rather not mention the issue, as it would inevitably devolve into a lecture about respecting the sanctity of the Phoenix's host. He perhaps would have refused to leave the temple if she had opened the shoji door, even if he had pride in his own appearance, he didn't desire just anyone to see him as naked as the day he was born... well not exactly, Mai-Jing was the only exception, although he'd much rather not think of the woman now, a deceased empress far from his grasp. It would be unnecessary heartache.

A foot tapped an impatient beat upon the floor, though pausing in its rhythm as the empress had grown far too close for his liking, the woman having the audacity to grasp the veil and lift it, causing some brightness to shine into the Seer's eyes, which made a rather inhuman growl leave him in response. He certainly didn't appreciate her invading his personal space, making a mental note to burn the veil after they had returned from this unexpected outing. Haru was perhaps a bit over enthusiastic in his hatred for the empress, so he'd certainly not keep anything she had touched for long... well, except for the kiseru she'd left behind. As the woman had left, the object in mind had made him look over his shoulder toward where it still lay, untouched at the golden feet of the Phoenix statue which made his eyebrows knit together in irritation. Did the empress merely overlook it? Making a mental note to return it to her, due to it being unclean in the holy temple, Haru had squared his shoulders as he looked forward, taking his first hesitant steps out of the temple.

The man stopped as soon as he'd hit the threshold leading outward into what would be the outside world. A fear suddenly gripped at his heart, taking a small step back from the edge. He didn't want to leave. What if the ghost of his beloved flared to life before his eyes? What would he do if he once more tread upon her favorite places? These thoughts spun in his mind rapidly, over and over until the man had taken in a breath and exhaled. He'd already committed to following the unruly empress to the outside world he had abandoned, it would only be once. Reassured in his decision, Haru had taken one hesitant step at a time, almost at an irritatingly slow pace to show his reluctance with leaving the peaceful temple he had called his prison. Stabs of pain ricocheted up his bad leg, settling into his hip although if the man was in agony, he did not show it, but what did show on his face was dread.

Seeing the horse before him as the empress had climbed upon the back of the beast with ease, Haru could only eye the creature with distrust. Haru had never ridden upon a horse due to his unfortunate leg injury. Carriages had been his only mode of transportation due to the added protection. At her question, his pride certainly took a blow, the man scowling at her although the faintest of red had colored the man's pale cheeks, embarrassment was all he could feel. "Of course... not." His voice started off indignantly, but had trailed off dropping to an embarrassed note as he hesitantly approached the creature, eyeing the hooves of the beast warily. Haru didn't seem too happy at the extended hand, but very reluctantly the man had taken it, using her outstretched hand for assistance as he heaved himself up behind her, a breath of pain leaving him as his hip seemed to protest at the action.

Upon getting settled behind her, the Seer felt unnerved. He could feel the horse's movements underneath him, the faint sway of the animal making him immediately cling to the empress, an action he would not take otherwise if he wasn't feeling as if he could fall. It perhaps was the closest he'd been to anyone, the tight embrace being one of fear and desperation rather than attraction, his arms although slim held the strength of a man's, quivering slightly. The press of his body was certainly unexpected, but warm, soft almost as his eyes kept looking toward the ground which felt a bit too high now that he thought about it, it certainly would hurt if he fell... Oh no, why was he thinking about it?!

"G-Go already!" Although the words were spoken with his usual angry quip, they trembled like leaves in the wind. He wanted this over with as soon as possible, and his fingers were curling into the empress's kimono. As disgusted as he was feeling, he feared more for his life in this moment than anything else, even if he could feel the empress's supple curves, something that he would refuse to admit he'd enjoy. After all, the man still hated her with every fiber of his being, to be attracted to one such as she was absolutely ridiculous in his own mind. The heat of his breath could be felt, quickened with his terror, his cheek pressing into her back as his eyes were squeezed shut. This was not an enjoyable moment for him, and no one could be blamed at laughing at the overly confident Seer's rather cowardly side.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko


The horse she had chosen for the venture was an old mare, stocky in build and a reliable chestnut colour. Her ears flickered attentively upon her hanging head and the big black eyes carried a sort of unspoken serenity in them as they blinked lethargically. Seated on the back of said mare, Mitsuko could feel the mare's ribs expand and shrink, each breath an extension of her own as she settled into the curvature.

She had expected the Seer to experience a similar feeling, the creature hardly intimidating in its almost slouched disposition. Instead, the man was the reverse. Unusually timid in his approach to the beast and a light blush even creeping up on his cheeks under the scrutiny of her eye. It all made sense only seconds later, however, when the Seer admitted that this was going to be his first time.

A breathless 'oh' escaped her parted lips, the second realisation hitting her in a sharp inhale as his hand enclosed her own. His leg. Mitsuko shifted awkwardly in her seat, a wariness in the brown gaze that dipped to observe the Seer haul his way up behind her. She had thought his condition to be looking better than before. But even if that were the case, she was now exposing the injury to unnecessary stress that could hinder whatever healing the physician had administered. A dumb move of her when she had exerted effort in arranging a 'regular health check-up'. Doing so again would appear suspicious for sure.

He was such a stubborn man that if he knew the truth, he would probably refuse it.

The still lake surface of her knitted brows was stirred by the voice that breathed perspiration between her shoulder bones and at once the Empress became aware of their position. His arms but a stone’s throw away from grazing her chest. Yet it was not the anticipatory stiffness that rendered back and arms tense at the slightest adjustment and motion of his hands that affected her the most. No, it was the tenderness of it all. The ever-present warmth, radiating from his skin through the barriers of clothing, his trembling voice that seemed to reverberate through her flesh in quickened pulse and the reminder that he was human that rattled her the most. All consequent thoughts dispelled and dispersed by the single sentence she told herself in her mind: ”She was the Empress and he was the Seer”. Thus, ended whatever sentimentality she might’ve felt in the moment and she was back to reality where their ride, the mare, had almost begun to doze off.

”Yes, let us be off.” Mitsuko gathered the reins and squeezed with her thighs, prompting the horse to slowly lumber forward in response. They only managed as far as the edge of the forest, green foliage opening in a cave entrance to the woods, before an emerging shadow suddenly cut off their passage. A shadow which Mitsuko only proffered a venomous scoff as she tightened her grip on the reins and pulled to a halt. The Empress required but a single glance to determine who it was and what the purpose of this sudden visit served. ”Do not forget your promise to the advisors this afternoon, your Majesty.” And Hayate delivered as always, her childhood friend unrecognisable in the long hair that had been cut to a buzz of unruly strands and sculpted cheekbones. His eyes no longer harbouring that glimmer of admiration from the blacksmith’s son, but the heaviness of duty and expectation from a servant to his Master. The Empress acknowledged his words with a terse nod and by pursing her lips ”I know”. Then with a flick of her tongue against the inside of her mouth in a series of clicks they were off again.

On one hand she could not understand why the Seer’s bad leg nagged her as much as it did. On the other she felt a childish notion of satisfaction over his pain. A kind of: ”Ha-ha, that’s what you get for last time” chewing at her conscience. It all rather annoyed her, since the initial purpose of the trip wasn’t to make the Seer uncomfortable (although there was a feeling of accomplishment to be found in his clinging to her when he would normally avoid her like the plague). In truth it was not as black and white as one might have thought and the Empress sighed so as to express this.

“Sorry, I would have not chosen the horse if I knew it would turn out like this,” Her voice sounded strained as if struggling to enunciate any kind of seriousness “-You see this horse is the first horse I ever rode on”. Mitsuko’s hand braided affectionately through the thick black mane. “I remember being terrified the first time I sat on her back,” There was a touch of a smile on her lips as she recalled the scene. Her father behind her, holding the reins and her hands simultaneously in his. “I was so high above the ground and scared of falling, my father held me steady though,” The tree lines to the left and right of them started to thin out, hinting at the nearing end of the forest “He wouldn’t let me fall”. The forest sifted out into a golden field, grass swaying in the wind and over the rolling hills that rose and faltered in waves. At the base of those hills was the city, a cluster of roofs varying in size, some tall some short, wide and slim.

She refrained from making any promises of a next time. Instead listened intently for any signs that the man had calmed down. This was but a game, a fun little distraction that would eventually have to end. She would enjoy it until then.
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surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Haru sucked in a breath as he heard her voice respond, the creature underneath he could feel beginning to move. If he wasn't currently squeezing his eyes close so tightly, he probably would have been marveling at the feeling of another living creature's breathing, a thrum of life that was so precious... and he perhaps would have been very upset that he was holding onto the empress like a child, or he perhaps would have taken great offense at her attempt to consider his leg as he still certainly had a lot of pride. Nonetheless, Haru remained in his pitiful position as he clung desperately to Mitsuko, only managing to hesitantly open his eyes as she had suddenly brought the mare to a stop. This caused the man to shakily lift his head, his fingers loosening their grip as he spotted the shadow in their pathway leading to the very edge of an all too familiar forest. Squinting a bit to focus on the shadow that had blocked them, he couldn't say he remembered the name of the man, due to the fact Haru had refused to familiarize himself with any of the empress's people that she may have brought with her through his stubbornness.

The exchange, although brief had caused questions to dance within his mind. Mitsuko's reaction in particular causing questions to form, although he'd rather not pry. The less the Seer knew about her, the easier it would be for him to distance himself from her... though his current position did little in terms of the distancing of oneself. He'd almost would have attempted to straighten up in the saddle, if the oddest sensation hadn't flowed over his senses as Mitsuko had urged the mare forward deeper into an all too familiar forest.

Thine eyes bear witness to thine unspeakable future.

It was a woman's voice, sorrowful and yet beautiful, a whisper that he'd only heard once prior in his lifetime, causing the Seer to grow rigid in the saddle behind the empress. Though it could merely be passed off as the man being fearful of the mare moving again, his mind was adrift, plucked from the present by an unseen force. Although, Haru knew well enough it was the tide of foresight drawing him deep into the current, but only once before had it been so strong that he felt his physical body being ripped away from his control, till he could no longer feel the sway of the mare, no longer feel the heat of the empress's body before him, no longer hear the faint sounds of the quiet forest. The only time he heard such a sorrowful voice, keening these words so loudly in his own ears was prior to when his beloved had left this world.

His eyes only viewed death before him, a broken, tattered body surrounded in a wreath of brilliant flames. It took him only a few seconds to recognize it was the Jade palace, he could hear the faint cries through the flames of an army laying siege, a flicker of a clashing vision bringing to sight the banner of the Engan accompanied by yet another smaller banner he could not recognize. A nation unknown to his eyes. And then, he saw himself, but at the same time... not quite himself. Flames licked at his clothes, the brilliant green of his hair having tinged with a soft coloration of flame, blood oozing from his ears, his lips, his eyes. The phantom of himself was crawling to the broken body, as if he'd not have the strength to walk, only once he had gotten close enough, his hands reached out, drawing the body so very gently in his arms as if she was so very dear to him. The phantom of himself laughed, the laughter of a madman, "I failed you again, again and again this useless fool cannot protect you!" The phantom laughed again, tears flowing down his cheeks, reddened with his blood as he watched himself pick up the glint of what was a beautifully crafted dagger, a dagger he'd never lain eyes on before as he held it high, the flames eerily reflecting among the bright edge of the blade as he cooed, "Ah, sweet death, let me fall into my slumber to never wake. I grow tired... so tired." And the knife plunged, a pain searing through Haru's throat, the woman's sorrowful voice ringing in his ears, screaming so loudly that he felt as if he were to go deaf.

Then the vision had thrown him back into the present, causing the man to wheeze and cough.

Although he hadn't been aware of his body in the waking world, throughout the seconds that the vision would last, it would have been noticeable that he had grown far too still, his grip upon the empress slackening until it almost seemed as if he was about to let go of her. However, with him back in control of his body, he felt the stabbing pain of his hip, he could hear the empress speaking, and one of his hands had flew to his throat as he almost in a panic was attempting to draw breath back into his body. The vision had been so vivid, he could almost feel as if the dagger had truly pierced through the soft flesh of his throat. But, it made him cast a glance to the woman before him, struggling to regain his composure. She was marked for death. His forehead pressed against her back as he didn't say a single word, his eyebrows furrowing. He tried to make sense of the vision, although it currently in context made no sense to the man's mind. How, why? And more importantly... when?

Through his bewilderment, he heard Mitsuko's voice, apologizing and then proceeding to speak of her father. Forcing himself to pay attention, he tried to shake off the tendrils of the vision that clung to him, shivers going through his body, though this could once again be blamed on him not being comfortable on the horse, an excuse he would gladly take. He spoke then, his voice oddly hoarse as if he'd been breathing in smoke, "...I'd rather you'd not apologize. It's strange coming from someone like you." The Seer had straightened in the saddle, his hands releasing their tight grip as he grumbled, "..I don't know why I agree to your nonsense." He seemed subdued as he said those words, his expression blank and lost almost although certainly not lacking the fear he had, even if it was tinged with fresh fear. Failure. He'd fail? When? How? Why?

The questions spun in his head over and over again, but desiring to shake them away he asked a question to get his mind away from the all too vivid vision, "..Was your father important to you?" An odd question, and it was odd for Haru to inquire anything about the empress. One would be forgiven if they were to think Haru had lost his mind, for he'd always reserve insults for Mitsuko and not ask a single thing about her, nor where she came from or even who she loved. But, distractions were necessary, and the more he talked the more he'd feel like he was... himself.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko


Mitsuko laughed, a sort of jittery laugh as if she was alleviating tension through the vibrations of her chuckles. A relieved laugh, a bit forceful perhaps in the snorts that followed. Empty and sharp and possibly reflecting in deeper stabs back to the woman who hid it behind the contortion of a smile. Imperceptible, of course, to the Seer that only had her steady posterior to judge her by. Maybe for a good reason, as the Empress felt a little emboldened by this fact and started musing on his question out loud. "My father you ask..." Her eyes flickered down to observe the tips of her shoes, focused on a specific spot that had some mud on it "-Well, important in the way that I needed him more than he needed me".

She prodded the mare forward with her heels to start descending to the city. It had been a long time since she had last talked about her father. A long time since she had talked about...herself at all for that matter. Always hows and not whys, the Empress and not...her. The gentle rhythm of the mare's trodding lulled her into a strange sense of security- the words slipping from her lips before she could stop them or even desire them to do so. A bit selfishly so, since she had noticed the Seer's sudden tonal change but glazed over it.

"I guess you could say that we were a big family and there was not enough time for us all," Her gloved hand grabbed his to then press it down on her waist, assuring he had a steady grip on her still. It was a very straightforward touch, uncharacteristically non-invasive of her and devoid of any motives as she released it immediately afterwards. "You learn to deal with it. Learn how to get that attention," They passed a lone shed in the outskirts of the city, dilapidated and ready to buckle down into a pile of rubble at any moment. Its walls caving inwards as the rot had started to consume it from within and the weight of the tin roof, weighing heavy upon the misaligned planks that revealed slivers of its dark interior.

Fortunately, it looked to have been abandoned a long time ago but whether its former occupants were thriving somewhere else or had gone in another way was impossible to tell. Mitsuko found herself grasping for her kiseru in her waistband, a habit of making ashes of whatever cinders that burned at the back of her mind. To her surprise, she found nothing there and a bit agitated by this she flexed and curled her fingers into her palm instead. The needling sensation over her tattoed areas persisted. "He was not a bad man per-say, he did reward us when we were good," Like accompanying her the first time hunting and horse-riding "-That also means he punished us when we were bad".

They had reached the streets of the city and weaved onto the main road. It was a vibrant painting of colourful stalls with fluttering fabric signs waving in the wind, of men, women and children alike congregating in one giant flood, of stories being made- of stories being told. "Enough about me though! Is there anything you'd like to do while here? Visit a teahouse perhaps? A brothel? I'm down for anything." She barked a round of laughter, breaking the monotony of the previous mood. Almost as if she expected the Seer to forget about the things that she had been talking about up until this moment. Just as she examined her surroundings, so did the people, the two standing out while mounted on horseback. Amidst the hustle and bustle, a child suddenly approached.

"Good sir! May I interest you in these exquisite bracelets made from pearls from the Engan reefs?" A young boy with ruddy cheeks and spiky hair sidled up to the horse. On the hand he proffered hung several pearl bracelets which glimmered under the sun. Mitsuko quirked a curious brow and waved the little one over "From Engan you say?". She took one of the bracelets in her own hand to examine it closely, thumb stroking over the white marble surface of the beads. The boy's eyes followed her thumb intently, an anticipating inhale preceding the bow he sketched "An excellent gift for a beloved lady, if I may say so myself". The boy glanced at the veiled figure behind the 'good sir' in a meaningful back and forth between the two.

A young boy, talking about romance and chivalry. The Empress hid the chuckle that threatened to spill in the twitch of a grin. "Tell me, did you make this yourself?" She hummed and held it up to her face "-It's pretty". The boy bounced straight and immediately cracked up in a smile. "No, my grandma made it! I help clean the mussels for the seafood restaurants and sometimes I find these pearls, me and my grandmother make a living by selling the jewellery made from it".

Mitsuko mused a 'hmm' in response, the raised eyebrows looking more and more like the face of someone having an unwanted realisation. She coaxed a coin up from the pouch hanging on her waistband and flipped it to the boy with her thumb "Keep the change". The boy was too stunned to protest, the golden coin held gently in his cupped hands worth ten times more than what he had intended to ask for. The Empress squeezed the horse forward in an ambling pace, "So? Want a bracelet, my dear lady?" She held the beaded bracelet up for the Seer to examine.
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surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Haru was more than happy to allow Mitsuko to speak, the man being merely a silent listener as she described her relationship with her father. From what she had explained, or at least from what she had deigned to share with him in this rare moment of asking her about herself. It was very little information of course, but from what he'd gathered, her father fulfilled the duty necessary enough to rear a child. What puzzled him, however was how the empress seemed to open up about the topic at all. He'd expected her to perhaps dodge the topic altogether, or even question him for being so uncharacteristically curious. But, he was grateful... a rare feeling to feel around the empress. The sound of her voice was slowly pulling him back into reality, as grating as he usually would find it upon his ears, the sound of her voice was soothing, as if a salve was being placed upon the fresh wound ripped open anew by the vision which was slowly losing its oppressive grip upon him.

In this moment in time, the man didn't even react as she had grabbed hold of his hand and placed it firmly upon her waist, his mind adrift between attempting to calm, and remembering exactly who he was. What he was. Vivid visions such as the one that assaulted him, even if it only happened once prior in his life, was disorientating. Individuality of who he knew himself as felt like it was being ripped away, oppressed by the grip of someone feeling like it was desperately grabbing onto him, pulling him down into an abyss he only felt fear toward. His eyes closed shut tightly again, although the veil would not reveal such an action, and he ran the empress's words over and over in his mind. Another question burned at his lips, but oddly enough, a part of himself wished to perhaps share more of who he was with her. Perhaps, it was a desperation to hold onto who he was so it would not be overwritten by whatever phantom was clinging to himself, for someone to know him as an individual before it was lost, but before he could even utter a single word, his mouth would close and he would remain silent.

He remembered then, it would be pointless. His life as soon as they would return eventually to the temple would once more be waiting for death to take him, or if the vision was with accuracy, for him to fail miserably in his duty again. The thought seared through him, almost wishing to laugh if it wouldn't be suddenly strange for him to do so. It would be useless for the empress to know him as an individual, since he hated her and this would not change. He'd never be devoted to her as he had been for Mai-Jing, and he comforted himself with that thought... even if it did little to comfort him. Even if he hated her, despised her, truly loathed the woman he was still holding onto... he didn't sincerely wish for her to die. He wasn't that depraved, if anything he was suddenly exhausted as he allowed his mind to drift, mumbling a barely audible, "...I see." Subdued, distant, and almost somber.

It wasn't long however for Haru to finally draw himself back into the moment as Mitsuko's voice seemed almost unnaturally loud in his ears, causing the Seer to visibly wince as he now only noticed where they were, however at the mention of even so much as going to a brothel had caused a bit of anger to flare in Haru's chest, albeit flustered as well, "W-What is wrong with you?! How could you s-suggest such a thing?!" His face was quite red indeed at the prospect, he was to remain pure and holy, and a brothel was anything but! Of course, he should've known better than to expect anything less from Mitsuko, he knew quite well of her ways, but he refused to get dragged along with her! But, luckily enough it seemed as if the empress had managed to drag Haru out of the rather melancholy mood he was in and back to his usual cranky, and a bit too uptight self, grinding his teeth in anger at her almost about to lay into her with another one of his super long lectures... until a boy's voice rang out.

Haru's expression changed, swiftly forcing the anger that had twisted his face to ebb away as he peered at the boy from behind his veil, the slightest incline of his head to keep an eye on where the boy stood. He was supposed to be a blind man out in public after all. The faintest of smiles had slightly touched the man's face, ah, the boy was quite adorable. It almost made him nostalgic, remembering very vaguely a life prior to even stepping foot in the palace, a boy perhaps no older than the one selling the bracelets clinging to his hand. A brother... perhaps? He could no longer clearly remember the face, nor could he remember the name of the boy who was an ever present shadow no matter where he tread in days long past. The memory was an odd one to return to him, one that he swiftly discarded as soon as the word "Engan" had left the boy's lips. This caused Haru's faint smile to vanish, his expression going empty as he stared blankly ahead, even if panic was swelling rapidly in his chest at the word. The future he saw danced before his eyes all over again, causing him to tense up once more in the saddle behind Mitsuko, falling silent once more.

If such a future was to be seen... surely it could be prevented, right? The man's mind swirled with possibilities flashing before his eyes, although... these weren't ones that he wanted. These futures he saw were minor, unimportant ones of the people around him, and no matter which thread he pulled when focusing on Mitsuko, the same future danced before his eyes, taunting him. If he wasn't in public, he probably would have started cursing aloud, but the man held his tongue, remaining utterly still as he forced his mind back once more to the presence, blinking a few times as Mitsuko had bought the bracelet. Ah, she probably bought it for one of the women she toys with. The was the first thought that flared to his mind, growing immediately uninterested. After all, it wasn't any of his business, he didn't want to-

"Huh?" That single word slipped past his lips quietly, almost as if he didn't hear it at first. What did she just say to him? And what had been that meaningful glance that boy had given him while he was struggling in the midst of his mental struggling. Anger coiled deep in his stomach, the Seer giving an angry growl as he hissed at her, "I-I'm not a woman!" It was without a doubt a sore spot for Haru. Even if he took pride in his appearance, he hated the comments of how "pretty" or "lovely" he was, though it was plenty worse when he was a little boy. Often he'd been mistaken for a delicate girl, which made him get into quite a lot of fights in his youth. Regardless, his ruby eyes flashed to the bracelet, his expression showing a moment of conflict. I want it. The man looked aside, his anger cooling as surprisingly after a few seconds, the Seer had snatched the bracelet from her hand, grumbling under his breath, "It'd be a waste not to take it. You'd probably give it to some servant girl you toy with. B-besides, the boy and his grandmother worked hard on it so..." It seemed like he was convincing himself of taking the gift, certainly a lot of convincing needed indeed.

Mai-Jing... never gave me anything. That lonesome thought made him feel somber as he slipped the bracelet on a delicate, thin wrist. Sure, Mai-Jing had saved him from slavery, but afterwards... she'd never once given him anything like a gift. In fact, Haru perhaps had never received a gift in his life. He'd never asked for one from the former empress, following her about and happily fulfilling every order she gave him, and of course he felt happy with her presence and being at her side. But, there was always him desiring more from her. His lips pressed in a thin line at that thought, though he swiftly discarded it. What was he thinking? Of course the former empress didn't need to give him a gift, they weren't even lovers! Why was he being so foolish right now?!

The man was grateful for once that the empress couldn't see his face, as it was quite a mottled shade of red. Regardless on whether he hated Mitsuko right now or not, deep down, he felt happy. It was a tingle of joy to receive something from someone, to finally receive something, a happiness that would almost make him smile if he was so desperately trying to show displeasure. He'd never admit it to her, but the man would treasure the bracelet, never allowing his first gift to so much as leave his wrist, though he certainly would hide it from her.

As silence passed between them, Haru finally spoke up, "The teahouse. I'd much rather go to the teahouse, I haven't been there in awhile." It seemed as if the man was allowing himself to participate in the outing, although rather reluctantly, a success for sure that Haru was allowing himself to be dragged along with Mitsuko's antics for the day.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko
byobu- japanese folding screen.


Perhaps the gift was a way to placate him for following along on her antics. Perhaps it was a bribe to keep the secrets she had spilt just that, secrets. Her larynx bobbed, rose and hesitated as she rolled the beads over her palm. Faltered and swallowed as she was about to take the bracelet back when the Seer reacted as expected. The distinct sadistic twinkle in the bunched up skin around her eyes making her seem older than she was as she suddenly regretted it all. It would be a little awkward to take it back but she was used to it. Used to being awkward, having forsaken concepts such as shame and common decency since long ago in the favour of survival.

She wouldn't have made it this far in that household if she hadn't.

Yes, this was acceptable, the Empress concluded in a prolonged blink. It was enough, that was how she reasoned when a pair of fingertips scraped against her palm. The bracelet snatched under the pretence of 'not letting it go to waste' while nursing a usual standoffish attitude. Mitsuko merely grinned in response, a soundless exclamation of victory that spread in the platitudes of exposed enamel and flashing eyes. "Aye aye sir," The woman gathered the reins and steered the old mare forward to their next destination.

The teahouse was a most unremarkable building, a two-story construction with green peeling paint and bleached house corners. From the open shoji windows on the second floor wafted a mouth-watering smell, that of steamed Manju filled with bean paste and umami stimulating green tea. The Empress looked excited for a second as she consumed the imaginary sweets through the expansion of her lungs. Her cinereous eyes glittering in its affectionate embrace of the teahouse and her cheeks aflush with a subtle cherry blossom glow as she glanced back at the Seer.

It wasn't often she had the chance to go out if at all. The Advisors and Ministers were harsh with confining her to the castle grounds and Hayate made sure of it. There had, of course, been times where she triumphed over her shady guard and those times were the ones that had resulted in her chastising. Something about endangering herself as the ruler of the empire and being improper to mingle with the common people.

Mitsuko dismounted by swinging her leg over the front of the mare's neck instead of the traditional back. A smooth movement of thighs pressing flush together as she slid down and landed in the dust below with a resounding thump. A thump that transitioned into hurried steps leading her up to the one-step stair entrance to the teahouse where she peeked in under the separating header curtain.

There were few to no people seated at the floor height tables and each seating area was separated by either a meticulously woven straw wall, sudare, or a free-standing byobu. While she loved the opportunity to people-watch, she was at the moment keener on a bit of privacy. The Seer could, after all, potentially slip her identity in one of his outbursts and she was less likely to be caught acting improperly. Not that she was planning on doing the latter, she never was. The Seer just somehow provoked her to it.

The brunette returned to the horse, lifted the reins over its lowered head and tied it to the horizontal pole in front of the shop. Then she slid up beneath the man, held out her hands to offer her stabilising grip on his waist to help him down. "You said you hadn't been here in a while. Have you been to the teahouse before?" She cocked her head curiously to the side as she inquired the man. As much as she wanted to berate him for judging her preemptively she couldn't claim to know more about him than he did of her. Besides the already obvious, he was the Seer that lived in the temple, meant to serve her the Empress- she wasn't aware of anything else. She knew that he had served the previous Empress that had met her end at her sword, Mai-Jing, and that he was the embodiment of the Phoenix. The lore of the phoenix as well as who Mai-Jing had been something that was again, beyond her as someone from another nation void of any gods.
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surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Haru was silent as she complied with his desire, but the man regretted ever saying the teahouse. Was he perhaps a masochist? Did he want his heart to feel a more intensified aching? He almost opened his mouth to tell her to go somewhere else, that he changed his mind... but some part of him wanted to return to that familiar teahouse where he spent comfortable days with his beloved again. As the teahouse in question had come into view, Haru could feel as if a knife were slowly sinking into his chest, chasing away the happiness he had temporarily felt upon receiving the gift from Mitsuko, of which he was still holding his wrist quite close to his chest, even though the sleeve of his kimono now concealed the bracelet from view, unconsciously protecting it. Ah, how he remembered the teahouse, perhaps with a fresher coat of paint, though the familiar smell wafting from the teahouse itself brought back memories he'd long forgotten.

Mai-Jing would frequent the teahouse whenever she had been given a break from her duties, a soft smile always dancing across her lips as she would speak, her voice music to the infatuated boy he'd been, saying his name with a gentleness that caused his heart to soar within his chest. Due to privacy reasons, the teahouse would usually be vacated ahead of time prior to the empress's arrival, and so it would only be he with her (and a handful of guards), listening to her every word even if it was something as nonimportant like the weather. How he missed her, how he wished he could see her face again. It made tears begin to sting at his eyes, the familiar scent of the teahouse drawing back more memories of the former empress, the way she walked, how the sun would make her hair shine a lovely dark brown, the way she smelled... he missed it more and more. I shouldn't have come out here.

The Seer didn't react at first when Mitsuko had turned to look at him, though he shifted his head upward to make sure that she knew he was at least acknowledging her. As much as he felt a familiar tinge of bloodlust to strangle the woman before him as his mind was replaying sweet (and very rose-tinted) memories of Mai-Jing, he knew better. It was best to remain as proper as possible while in the eyes of the public, as once before the vision of this woman's inevitable future had flashed before his eyes, making his mood even more so somber. However, seeing the expression Mitsuko's face, he had to admit - even if he would never say so - that it was almost... cute. The thought was a shock to his system and he quickly discarded it. This murderer was not to be looked upon as cute, it would be a disgrace to Mai-Jing's memory, and it made him feel disgusted. There was no need to make his temper flare to life, as he knew well enough he couldn't control his tongue when it came to Mitsuko, a woman whose name he refused to utter.

As the empress had slipped from the horse to the ground with ease, Haru had hesitated. His hip, now that he was away from thinking too much on the past as well as the future, was flaring to life with pain. His jaw clenched, a tightening of it as he braced himself to hesitantly remove himself from the saddle. As he was thinking how he could get down without hurting himself further, a startled squeak had left his lips at the touch of the empress's hands upon his waist. Quite undignified of a proud man, more so his status of being a dignified embodiment of the holy Phoenix. The man's face flared to life a vibrant red as he hissed between clenched teeth, "Don't startle me like that!" He bristled, obviously embarrassed, even though the sound he had made was quite cute on its own, though bringing attention to the matter would most likely set the man off on an angry tirade, best to keep the peace as long as possible.

So, with stubbornness, Haru had awkwardly slid from the saddle, although a breath of pain had left him at his bad leg making a distinct pop as he put weight upon it, trembling as he forced himself to stand upright, gingerly putting a hand upon his hip as if he were an elderly man. Sucking in a breath, the Seer had regained his composure before the empress, feeling quite a bit more embarrassed. Why did it seem around her that he'd show a rather embarrassing side to himself? This never happened with Mai-Jing. A frown had settled itself upon the man's lips, tossing the thought aside, although Mitsuko's question had made the Seer visibly tense. If this was any other day, or even perhaps two days prior when he had snapped in rage at her, perhaps he would have struck her. However, today after seeing the future he'd seen, the Seer's shoulders sagged, as if a heavy weight had suddenly dropped upon him. The intense redness that had been upon his cheeks had faded as he didn't seem inclined to say a single word. But, surprisingly he did, and he was honest.

"I've not been here since Mai-Jing died." The words were somber, heartbrokenly spoken, but the way he said Mai-Jing's name, whether he realized it or not had come out like that of a mourning widower, pining for his dead lover who wouldn't return. Such tenderness, such warmth was not just on the level of a servant for their master, such was devotion of intense, all-consuming love. It was a glimpse into why he'd been so hostile to Mitsuko, an honesty he was granting her only this once as he was feeling rather generous today regarding anything of himself. After all, in the darkest future he saw before his eyes, the shadow of himself was destined to fail and destined to die. Although he hadn't given up yet, determined to avert such a future from fulfilling its doomed end as the sting of failure was his main motivator, what was the point of secrecy if he were marked for death as well?

With that truth being spoken, Haru had walked past Mitsuko, not sparing her a glance, although it wouldn't be able to be seen either way where his eyes rested due to the veil. For once, he was grateful for the fabric, as he wasn't sure how much pain would reflect in his eyes, and he didn't want her seeing it. It was certainly a surprise for certain, as the closed off man he was, pious and proper, claiming to give body and soul to the Phoenix to remain pure without worldly attachments.. he had loved a woman with such devotion, till it had changed him to the bitter shell that remained behind. It was excuses he told himself, to keep taking a single step forward day by day, to tread the land that his beloved had loved. But, he wished that with that day, that he could have died at her side, or died in her place. The thoughts never left him, and only intensified with each passing second, broken only by Mitsuko's ever present distractions. He was drowning in a hell of his own making, but he didn't desire to crawl out, just linger in memories that would only scathe him. The pain that felt fresh in his heart now told him that Mai-Jing had once lived, once loved this place, and he was torturing himself to remember her.

The man stopped before the entrance to the teahouse, his bad leg protesting with every step, but at the moment his mind was no longer within this single moment. He could remember there was a particular spot Mai-Jing used to... ah, there. A particular table near the back, slightly battered and appearing a bit scuffed compared to the others, but she always used to sit there. He could almost imagine her speaking animatedly, doe-brown eyes sparkling as she spoke of visiting this particular teahouse with her mother, a woman who had died a few years prior to Haru ever crossing paths with Mai-Jing. She would laugh, but there was a sadness behind her eyes every time, though he remembered asking her to share with him what was on her mind, and the most peculiar, almost cold smile had crossed her face as she stared back at him. She spoke not a word, only reaching out and patting his head as if he were a faithful dog, and only spoke after a few seconds, "I cannot say." A frown had crossed his face at the memory, never being able to understood what she meant by the words. I probably never will.

Nonetheless, the Seer found himself drawn to the particular table again, as if instinctively sitting in the spot he usually would take, his expression thoughtful and lacking any anger at this moment in time. As much pain as his heart was in, it was not enough to make him cry. He still needed to remain the good actor that he was capable of being.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko

Theme: City - DBMK

She could've laughed at the surprised shriek like she usually would have. Instead, she smiled. A muted mature smile that was very uncharacteristic of her as she mentally compared him to the image of a normal teenage boy. So juvenile and pure in the expression that bloomed in roses across his cheeks. The transparency carrying over to his words for once as he in a tone that was not too unlike the pearl boy's delivery, finally told the truth.

Mitsuko didn't know how to broach the subject as the answer had already been spelt out for her and it was all about formalities in reality. The formality of pretending not to know that the Seer's hatred for her was rooted in his bond to the former Empress. Pretending that things could've gone differently had the woman not resisted. Pretending that she, in fact, regretted the position she was now in. Standing across said Seer in a pile of all bloodied hands and stolen clothes. The loose snare around her neck cinching tighter for each day she spent rolling her thumbs under the protection of the castle walls.

Had she been someone else she probably would have. Had she been a good person, then it wouldn't have been necessary in the first place.

In this bleak reality, she was but a sketch of that. Lines of ink converging and breaking, unedited in its raw uneven edges and crossed out mistakes. The liquid blotting through the paper at spots, eroding away at the canvas to reveal the abyss behind her monochrome silhouette.

The teahouse had changed at once in her eyes, the entrance appearing more like the steps up to the throne where the former Empress' had once been splayed out on. Mitsuko driving her sword through her chest in white knuckles, red eyes and black silence. The woman bearing a surprisingly mild expression to the sound of crunching bones and splattering flesh, as if it was a distant buzz- disembodied from the moist eyes that relaxed into an almost relieved smile back up at the usurper. Two women in power, fighting against each other in a world that rejected them both. Two women, sharing a moment of understanding.

The brunette ran her hand across the mare's neck one last time before following the Seer inside. The exhaustion perhaps finally settling in, in the limbs that lowered her onto the seat opposite of the man. One weary muscle collapsing after the other until she sat reclined against the wall, legs extended out in front and hands interlinking in her lap. The silence was a throwback to the days before the warmth of summer. When the time had been frozen in fall leaves under frost and the Seer and she had yet to meet. One still stuck waiting for spring even now with the chill of winter gnawing at his bones and she- rushing through the sunsets to find dawn.

The server came and went, two cups of steaming green tea now cutting through the winter landscape between them. The Empress gingerly enclosed the clay mug in her hands and sipped the water, seemingly immune to the scalding temperature or perhaps just trying to distract herself from what she was about to say. "The former Empress is beautiful, isn't she?" She turned to gaze out the entrance to the teahouse "You...love her don't you?" and you hate me for killing her.

"Tell me-" The Empress glanced at the Seer through half-lidded eyes "Do you hate me- or me as the Empress?".



surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
[Gonna put a tiny theme here; was listening to this while I was writing this, fits really well with his mood c: ]
His wish is to Die - Katanagatari OST

Haru's expression was soft, tender as he gazed down at the steaming cup of green tea before him. He could feel Mitsuko's presence across the table from him, although he spoke not a single word yet. His lips parted as he sucked in a quiet breath upon her speaking upon the former empress. In all the small imperfections Mai-Jing had, he found them all lovely beyond compare. A woman as soft and gentle as that of a doe, a woman who smiled so kindly at him enough to take his breath away. And when she called his name, he would run to her without hesitation, a fierce pull he didn't question, didn't fight... because it was her. Her. No one else sparkled as brilliantly in his eyes than her, her touch would ignite the fiercest of feelings within him that had died when she had left this world. When he had failed her. He whispered, his voice echoing a single drop of his pain, his torment, "...Yes. Lovely without compare." He didn't know why he was admitting that much, if he could, he would sing her praises, but he felt even that wouldn't be enough. No, it would never be enough. Not for her, not for Mai-Jing.

And then she asked, if he loved her. A bitter laugh left his lips, seeming more interested in the steaming cup before him, his hand reaching for the cup and not minding the scathing sensation as his soft skin came into contact with it. "Love...?" He echoed the word as if it were foreign. Was love enough to describe the feelings stirring within him? Was it perhaps an unknown string of fate connecting himself to the woman he desired in some old stories he'd heard long ago? A string that had been cut, leaving him in his own darkness, his own hell alone. "If she told me to die for her, I would happily do so. If I were to be her shield, I would do without second thought. If she would have told me, she desired me.. oh, how happy that would have made me... I desired to fulfill her every wish, being the fool that I was, I even convinced myself I would take her away from it all. That I could marry her, perhaps live the rest of my life at her side, giving her nothing but joy, and happiness.." His eyes closed, an ancient ache feeling as if it were ripping anew within his chest. It was one he felt often now, as if old pain was echoing over and over within his heart. "...Love is perhaps only the simplest of words I could possibly use for how I felt for her."

Passionate, truthful words, filled with raw and unmasked pain. His devotion was almost... scary, how far he claimed he would've gone for the former empress. The primary thing being, he willingly admitted he would have died happily for Mai-Jing if she wanted him to. How little did he care for his own life, to cast it away so easily for another? Such devotion wasn't normal, but Haru didn't mind. His life, his body, his heart, his soul... everything he would happily cast away for his beloved. No price was too great, no suffering was too much, too obscene for him. Even if Mai-Jing were to rip him limb from limb, he would embrace it wholeheartedly, for it was for her and no other... or was it? Haru's eyebrows furrowed, almost as if disturbed. That... wasn't a thought he would normally have, such a violent desire wasn't something he felt before. The feeling rising within him was foreign, darker, and immediately he pushed it aside, ignoring it and binding it so that it would never rise within him again.

His head snapped up as soon as she came to her next question, the most important one of course regarding himself and the woman before him now. He closed his eyes, a heavy and exhausted sigh leaving him. He was eerily quiet for a few moments as he pondered the question, his immediate response of course was to respond that he hated her. That the sight of her disgusted him, that he'd wish she would die. These were the words he would automatically spout in his angry and rash responses before. But, did he truly hate her? No. He didn't.

He hated himself, it was a bitter hatred that burned through him, cursing at him through every waking hour. He had failed his beloved, and he had the audacity to still live when she was departed already to the land of the dead. He dared to drag breath in his lungs, to sit, hiding away in his temple to act holy and mighty when he had failed. A bitter taste settled on his tongue, the sensation causing him to pick the cup of green tea up, sipping from it without truly acknowledging the taste that would wash over him. He was so much of a coward that he'd not visited the place where Mai-Jing's body had been discarded, fearing that he would cry and never cease. He avoided walking amongst the places she loved, because he was afraid of remembering her. And he lied to himself, saying that he could protect the land she loved from her usurper, but all he did was act like a petulant child and hadn't done a single thing for the people Mai-Jing cherished. He'd even stopped doing his duty, laying within his room for hours on end when he wasn't in the audience chamber, allowing himself to wallow in misery.

Coward. Liar. Fool. These words chanted louder in his head, a chorus of his own mockery. One that he allowed to wash over himself as the vision of the future flashed before his eyes again, ripping into him anew. Yes, he was a coward, a liar, and a fool. And that was his fate, if he desired to keep hiding forever. "No." His voice was quiet again, lacking the usual bite, lowering the cup of tea from his lips as the man was thoughtful, drifting within his own thoughts. "I do not hate you, neither you as a person, nor as the empress." These words made no sense, he knew that it would seem like a lie as he spoke. For all the contempt he treated her with, all the rage he threw at her, these were emotions he was feeling toward himself. "How could I hate you, when you are nothing but a stranger me? There is nothing for me to hate. I merely find excuses, to direct this... rage, this guilt."

A soft, sad smile had crossed the man's delicate lips, and for a single moment his voice seemed almost betraying of a soul far beyond his years, no longer of the youth of merely eighteen summers that he was supposed to be, "No, the only person I could possibly hate in this world is myself. For my failure, I should have died along with her. No, I needed to die with her." His self-loathing oozed from his pores, at least it seemed. An ancient pain, an ancient anger, and so.. very, very lonely, these feelings echoed until it matched with his own, a feeling he felt so strongly as he laughed, even though it seemed quite forced at this moment in time, "I nearly had went through with it after she had died, but I convinced myself to make myself feel better. If I could protect everything she loved from you, then perhaps I could allow my guilt to ease. Perhaps, that would preserve her memory, for some sort of justice. But, I haven't done a damned thing since. How... pathetic." He whispered those last words harshly, his hand clenching tightly around the cup of tea... only for it to loosen once more as if he no longer had strength in the limb.

A few, tense and quiet moments had passed then. The Seer didn't move, as if a statue, the veil covering moist red eyes from view. Haru couldn't lie to himself if he were to be honest, murmuring quietly, repeating his words as if he'd not bore the ugliness of his soul for her to see, a wretched and writhing thing he was, blackened with his own self-hatred. "So, no. I do not hate you. If anything, you made it more convenient for me to keep lying to myself." A convenient placeholder, someone he could direct all of his negative emotions toward, to keep himself breathing if only for a little while longer. How much longer however... was unknown. But, it was clear, perhaps Mitsuko's presence had made the Seer linger in the world a little bit longer, just if only to bare his teeth at her in his rage, his pain, his suffering... an unfair thing of him to do, but perhaps justified in his own blind devotion.

Ye art destined for failure.

The words echoed within his mind, and once more the vision flashed before his eyes, causing him to take in a sharp breath. The self-loathing increased, bitterness flaring in his heart, yet the man pushed it aside, expression settling back into the one he commonly used to regain self-control, to be the priest he was supposed to be instead of feeling the pull of his emotions - something that he was finding too easy to do in this woman's presence. "Now, what of you? What drives you to pester me day by day?" His voice lowered as he whispered, "Why did you desire to be empress?" Reasonable questions he would counter with, although he didn't desire for her to see such an unseemly part of himself, he would counter with questions of his own. Perhaps to understand her, the last person he deemed in his mind he would put effort to understand for his lifetime.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko

She didn't want to speak about the former Empress in the past tense, partly because it wasn't correct as she was still very much alive. Still thriving inside the memories that the Seer put words to with loving consideration. Opening his heart up in a stream of consciousness that manifested in the telltale signs of glassy eyes and an expression so fragile it might shatter if touched (or so she surmised from his hoarse voice). A sight that she had only seen once before in the face of her mother as she beseeched her not to hate her father while tending to the very wounds he had inflicted on her. Iced rag in hand as she dabbed the throbbing remnants of his touch away from her mother's black and blue visage.

The other partly was because it was the sight of someone on the verge of breaking. Of love turned wretched and rotten, the involved the flies that would feast upon its carcass and spend its last moments poisoned. Writhing in pain and gasping for relief with wings too weak to carry its heavy body and legs, broken in folded pieces beneath the frame since long ago. It just never noticed when and in the end, never why either.

Mitsuko drew a silent trembling breath at the scene, a picture of something frozen in time as neither lips nor brows moved at the tribulations of the man's melody. Peaking in the falsettos of sobs coming out in uneven laughter and plunging to bass whispers of seething hurt. The very kind of rawness she had once sought out but that now made her skin prick.

At the same time, she felt something sour at the back of her mouth as he declared his neutrality for her. A taste that made the corner of her mouth curdle and twitch. As if she was disappointed to hear that despite all this, he thought nothing more of her than the rest of her servants.

There was something awkward in the way she cleared her throat at the sudden change of focus. How she set the cup down to clasp her hand around her arm, unconsciously curling nails into flesh as his red eyes seemed to sear through the veil and pin her to her seat. "Well let's see-" She began, fumbling after the right words in pursed lips "Would you believe me if I said it was because you looked lonely?".

She recalled the first time they had met, so unbridled in his smouldering hatred and unyielding to the rules. She could've had his glaring self executed right there and then and yet, he refused her his services. Refused to bend to what he deemed 'evil'. Even if it was now revealed to be a misdirected notion, he had at the time, appeared as bright as the stars she used to grasp after. The sky, at least then, seemingly just a few steps away inside the audience chamber of golden splendour. He had never pretended to be anything else but hostile towards her and although it had been agitating at first, she soon learned to appreciate the honesty she could never bring herself to.

Back then and even now, acting like she had an ounce of power. Her throat itched for the numbing touch of toxins, "Maybe I was lonely as well," she looked down at her gloved hands "A castle is a big place with many people but no one dares speak as honestly as you do". A gentle smile, "It was nice to be talked to rather than being the one talking to someone." she cocked a teasing brow "Even if that someone appeared to hate me". The little humorous reprieve seemed to encourage the Empress as she loosened her grip on her arm and embraced the cup once more.

"In truth, I did not become the Empress with any grand ambitions of making this nation a better place. I simply-" She took a sip of the tea, their refreshments arriving in the same breath and she waited until it was once more just the two of them "-Wanted to live". She thought back to the dark room, the flickering flame of the mukuro candle her only source of light in the shadows that surrounded her. Swallowed walls and chains whole and spread under her skin in the needle making irises bloom upon her shoulders and thighs.

Become the Empress and be free-

Become the Empress and you won't ever have to raise your sword for him again.

Mitsuko crossed her legs and popped one of the mochis on the table in her mouth, a delighted chirp resounding from her closed mouth and through the puffed-up cheek. "I guess this might be a good time to say that I don't intend to drive this empire into ruins. I do take my duty seriously," Her eyes locked onto the Seer, a playful grin twinkling in the squinting curve of them "Of course, it would be easier with the cute little Seer by my side, but, I won't force you nor do I intend to rely on the supernatural to rule justly. I have survived on my own this far and I will continue to do it".

The woman leaned forward on the table on her elbows, "So- if you don't hate me, then, does this mean we're friends now?". Her sharp canine teeth glimmered ominously under the taut curve of her grin.
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surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Haru had quirked his eyebrow up as soon as she had answer him. She saw him as lonely? Perhaps... he had been. Mai-Jing was the center of his world, ripped away from him so violently that he found himself utterly alone in his own misery. The man didn't comment upon it however, allowing her to continue to speak as he continued to sip the green tea, allowing its warmth to settle within himself, to chase away the torment he'd been feeling moments before. Later, the Seer would maybe regret spilling so much of his heart to her, but it felt nice to know that someone knew at least a tiny piece of himself and had listened - actually listened, to the keening of his heart. To his pain, his suffering. Perhaps, it made him feel a tinge of normalcy, to be able to be so candid with another, even if said other person was still like a stranger to him. Although, a stranger that made him annoyed often. The thought would almost make him laugh, if he wasn't awaiting to understand her if only the slightest bit, so she would not seem to be as strange to him as an insect that just so happened to keep crawling on him, bothering him.

Then she added she was lonely too, and the man couldn't help but feel a tinge of sympathy. He lowered the teacup to the table once more, silent and still, though it seemed as if a tinge of amusement would cause the faintest of smiles to cross Haru's face once more. He held his tongue however, probably would have agreed that he probably didn't even regret a single word at her, even if it was misdirected and more him lashing out in his grief. After all, Haru never would allow himself to regret a single word he'd spoken, even if it would be rather harsh. He continued to be silent as she explained her reason for becoming empress, and with it her answer that made the man's head turn from hers, the faintest clenching of his jaw accompanying the action, as his hand tightened around the teacup he still had within his grasp. Her single desire, a desire that he'd lost. She wanted to live. And he wanted to die.

How he wanted to laugh. Oh, how cruel fate was, for her to desire such a position because she wanted to live. If only she knew of the fate that awaited her, a fate that he was being foolishly silent about. Her life would be ripped away, her life's blood spilled within a center of a wreath of brilliant fire, and he would take himself with her. He closed his eyes, allowing the image to repeat as he could hear his own mournful cries ringing within his own ears, a wretched and horrid future. His lips tightened in a thin, stressed line. The stress suddenly flowing from him was clearly suspicious indeed, the man's hand trembling around the teacup, although he still kept his silence to be an attentive listener as she had done for him.

A snort had finally left his lips, the faintest sound of amusement to leave the Seer as she had claimed she took her duty seriously. "Oh really? I certainly hope so, otherwise I'd just have to raise more hell for you." His lips twitched up finally, a full smile touched the man's seraphic face, "Flattery will get you nowhere with me. I thought you'd figure that out right now." Haru did feel a tinge of annoyance at being called "little", but he would allow that to slide. Even if he had set out to be as difficult as possible during this outing, he was being once more pulled at the empress's pace, letting his guard down bit by bit as he felt a sense of comradery with the woman cross from him. However, her next words accompanied by her rather ominous grin, made the Seer finally let out a laugh.

His laugh was a brilliant sound, ringing with the joy of his amusement. Like the tinkling of bells it seemed, bright and happy, contagious and warm. A rare sight indeed from the usually angry, or gloomy man. The crimson of his eyes glowed warmly from behind the veil, sparkling with his mirth as he shook his head at her, his shoulders shaking ever so slightly as he grinned broadly at her, "Absolutely... not little sun. I may not hate you, but I still don't like you. Try again when you've matured." A new nickname indeed for her, after all, the empress was the sun, the light of the empire, and considering he knew well her first name, he found it fitting. Perhaps the little part was a jab at her from calling him "little" earlier. But, at the very least it was certainly an upgrade from him referring to her as a sow. Plus, Haru still found her to be immature, an all too amusing sentence coming from a boy of only eighteen, however the Seer had plenty of wisdom to draw on... when didn't get his feathers ruffled by Mitsuko, that is.

The man hummed, still high upon the joys of laughter as he plucked up a piece of mochi, content to eat it as he had fallen silent again. The Seer's expression had slowly faded from his prior amusement, "I'll at the very least be an ally to you." Yes, an ally of convenience for her survival. He refused to be her friend, but he didn't desire for her to die. The thought still stung him that if he did nothing, she certainly would meet her end, but perhaps this conversation had flared his determination to not fail again. He was the Seer, blessed by the mythical Phoenix. He refused to allow failure to haunt him his whole life. But, this sentence alone seemed to show he saw her in a slightly less negative light, even if it wasn't by much.

His lips, now devoid of a smile had seemed lost in thought, as he spoke quietly, "I will warn you, though. For your own sake, please, keep your guard up." A foreboding air had settled upon the Seer as he said those words, ominous and chilling as his crimson eyes peered at her from behind his veil, though his eyes seemed to be looking through her toward a future that still danced before his eyes, taunting him. He would refuse to tell her the gruesome details if pressed, for he was certain he could change such a horrid future - no, he must. Failure was not an opinion, not for this woman who had claimed to him that she desired to live. I will protect you. I promise.

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko

Theme: The Mercy of the Wind- Million Eyes

Amidst the muted browns of the teahouse and the swirls of spring warming the air in the steam rising from their cups, they could easily be mistaken for two friends. A gentle promise of sunshine in the flashing of smiles and hearts unearthing themselves to the wind like blossoms, peeking cautiously out their verdant shells. Perhaps even a bit of relief to be found in the act as stances relaxed and they reverted to being two youths with their whole life in front of them despite the baggage each one carried.

Mitsuko for one, savouring the sugared earthy notes of the red bean paste that made up the mochis filling. Indulging one after the other in a manner that made it seem that she was starving. In reality she was full, merely eating for the sake of it as the sugar melted to blandness on her tongue. A bittersweet aftertaste in the recollections that surfaced.

Of the empty bowls, the white porcelain resembling the reflection she would see in the mirror. Ribs sticking out like piano tangents meant to be played and moving like the corresponding strings under her pale skin in laboured breaths. Then the purple irregularity she would find every so often on the plate. Violet skin pulled taut over the soft flesh of the plum in a most tantalising way until she couldn't resist it any longer and sank her teeth in. The plum always rewarded at the end of a successful 'mission'.

The cinereous eyes stirred from the spot on the Seer's hands they had been focusing on, eyelashes fluttering lethargically as her gaze danced along the lines. From the bulging joints on his index finger to the curvature of his collarbone and finally, the chiselled jaw that grazed her vision in a smile and ears in laughter. The brunette merely grinned wider in response, the prickling feeling at the roof of her throat as if forgotten as she reclined back in her seat. "A man of high standards as always- this Little Sun will work hard to fulfil your expectations of her," She bowed her head at the distinction of 'Little Sun' and waved her hand much like a servant would when greeting a noble. Her eyes brimming with a gleam of deviltry in them as she squinted up at the Seer from her lowered stance.

"Though I do believe that this Little Sun is actually older than her Master by two years in terms of maturity that is." She cocked her head and arched a sly brow as she pointed out her age of twenty in comparison to the Seer's eighteen. The brunette straightened in her seat, expression void of any annoyance over the matter as she hummed "Nonetheless I won't say no to good advice". Content with the current ambience, Mitsuko turned to sip her tea. Only setting the cup down in one calm motion when a look of worry clouded the man's obscured visage.

The clay hit the table with a gentle thump and she bridled her grin to a curl at the corners of her mouth. Perhaps the man had seen something to warrant this warning. Perhaps this something had even been her death. The thought brought her gaze askance in her silent pondering, the smile never wavering, however, even while doing so. For a moment back there, when they were still tense and wary, she had thought that relinquishing her power to not be so undesirable anymore. To let the advisor and the ministers with their supposed better opinions take her along in their tide even if that meant sacrificing herself. The promise that she had made to the old men making up her entourage burned at the back of her mind, a searing reminder of what awaited her after this meeting.

Then she had met that boy with the pearl bracelet and listened to his story of his grandmother and the Seer's revelation about the previous Empress. Mitsuko caressed the cup gently with the palms of her hands that rested upon the table. "I am a brute, am I not? The hideous woman that acts like a man-" Her tender gaze searched for the man's behind his veil of protection "I am also incredibly stubborn. I thought you'd figure that out right now". A childish repetition of the Seer's own words, cut short by the hand she extended towards the man. A foreign gesture for the both of them that she had decided would be their way to commit to a new chapter.

"Besides- you will lead me with your wisdom, won't you?" Her features retained a softness to them despite the hint of a tease in there "In the Western parts of this world you shake hands when you conclude a deal with a partner. I'm looking forward to working together with you, Haru".


surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
Haru clicked his tongue at her, albeit almost a playful action if one could call it that at her response to her new nickname, claiming that she was two years his elder. "Physical maturity, little sun." He corrected, a smug grin crossing the young man's face. "I'm an old man compared to your mere twenty summers of existence. Hmm, maybe even an ancient if I really consider it." He lightly tapped his temple, as if to make his point, "After all, have you forgotten who I am? If anything, I'm six thousand years your elder. Though, I'm not surprised if you've not educated yourself on the Phoenix's tale, as barbaric as you are." Of course, he was almost joking to make his point. The man knew he was the latest incarnation of the Phoenix, the deity having descended from the celestial realm to live among the humans she loved so dearly - that was the story that most people in the Jade empire knew quite well, with the lovely tale being often recited during the spring months, particularly the festivals that celebrated the emotion of love. Though, unknown to the public and Haru, the gruesome details of the mystical bird's story had been omitted and lost to time. To the public, truly, the Phoenix in all of her compassion was the perfect representative of the emotion of love to those who didn't harbor the being in their mind. But, Haru knew better.

Her sinister whispers, he'd only heard thrice, two of which occurring within this very same day. Her sorrow was overwhelming, overpowering, flowing in waves of grief that threatened to drown him. She was no benevolent goddess filled with overwhelming affection, no if anything she was a reflection of his own grief for losing Mai-Jing, multiplied by a millennia of pain in her voice alone, echoing the pain of his previous incarnations. He no longer felt her pull at this moment in time, as he currently felt as if he was himself and grounded in this moment, but truly Haru didn't want to reach for the connection he felt deep within his soul to the Phoenix. Although, he had a feeling he could reach for it if he tried, like pulling at the threads of the different futures that danced before his eyes; something in him didn't want to. Perhaps, maybe if he did, her grief would overwhelm him, and he would no longer remember himself as he existed now... and that was something that terrified him.

Of course, Haru's mood was shifting between his previous bit of laughter and the seriousness of the words of warning he had given her. His gaze settled upon Mitsuko's expression, seeing that the smile still had not left her face. It left him wondering, just what was perhaps going through her head, to smile even when he warned her to be careful. And then when she had spoken, a heavy sigh had left him in return, shaking his head at her. He would have thought she perhaps would take things much more seriously, to even assure him that she would indeed keep her guard up, while he would seek ways to protect her from harm. But instead, she was acting childish... but perhaps he would be surprised if she would act more mature to his warning. The faintest of smiles had returned to his face, easing away the tension of his previous frown. Well, he could more than make up for her childishness by taking the situation seriously himself, for if he were to be her ally, he would make up for her shortcomings.

A chuckle left his lips at her strange gesture, raising an eyebrow at her extended hand. He'd never viewed such a strange way of sealing a deal before, tilting his head as a hum left him, as if he needed time to mull things over before agreeing to it, granted he did stiffen up as she had spoken his first name with such familiarity. How long had it been since someone had called him in such a way? It felt like an eternity. This caused the Seer's expression to soften up, as if almost surprised only to reach out and grasp her hand with his own, "How unexpectedly civilized of you, little sun. At the very least you've pointed out your own flaws without my having to shine a light upon them," His lips pulled up in a calm smile, the warmth of his hand certainly seeming warmer than that of a typical human, but not scathing. A touch of divinity it seemed that set him apart from a mortal.

"Who am I to not take pity on the poor fool who desires my wisdom? Very well, Mitsuko, I'll humor you for now. The Phoenix in all of His power is at your disposal." His crimson eyes seemed almost for a second to glow from beneath the veil, though this could be a mere trick of the light, or perhaps not? Perhaps, the Phoenix that Haru supposedly was had peered at the new soul that it would swear an oath to? No matter, Haru certainly hadn't noticed as the man had released Mitsuko's hand from his own, his keen ears picking up the distant sound of something approaching. He didn't stir from his place yet, as he knew well enough it was the sound of hooves, growing closer and closer to the teahouse. It didn't surprise him too much, after all the empress as well as he shouldn't have left the grounds of the palace, nor did he particularly feel annoyed with this. He needed time to prepare, time to plan to look for anything that might save the empress's life.

"As... enlightening this experience as been, I think our time together is coming to an end." The man's smile had faded now, only the faintest tint of the smile he had would be remaining upon his face, "Which, I would consider it quite a good thing indeed that it is. I have other things that I need to attend to, as I'm sure you are to be quite busy as well."

Sei Shonagon

lord of the flies

Kanamori no Mitsuko
jūnihitoe- (十二単, "twelve layers"), more formally known as the itsutsuginu-karaginu-mo (五衣唐衣裳), is a style of formal court dress first worn in the Heian period by noble women and ladies-in-waiting at the Japanese Imperial Court. The jūnihitoe was composed of a number of kimono-like robes, layered on top of each other, with the outer robes cut both larger and thinner to reveal the layered garments underneath

Theme: When the Sun loves the moon

The Phoenix. This lands divine god, a creature to pledge your faith to and wish miracles of. It was a foreign concept to her who had grown up with only the blade and her own ability to trust. Like a fairytale that had been displaced into reality, the story leaping off the pages in ink and transmuting to this figure in front of her. It made her wonder just how much was the Phoenix and how much was the man. The act of gloved fingers squeezing his slender digits in hers appearing more like a deliberate judgment than the fun piece of trivia she had made it out to be as their eyes locked. Or so she presumed at least, something red glimpsing from behind the veil that skirted along his smile.

His warmth spread from his palm, intertwined and melted into her own in a most peculiar fashion that pierced even the leather sitting as a barrier between them. It caught her off guard, darted up her arm in little bumps that were imperceptible under the protection of the sleeve and pried her fingers open in a slackness to the grip. An almost relieved release of breath, one that she didn't know she had been withholding, the immediate aftermath of their separation and the Empress clearing her throat.

"Indeed," Her head turned towards the sound of rattling wheels and the stomping rhythm of hooves marching. A familiar silhouette stepping into view from under the header curtain shortly after. The man performed his usual series of movements, a practised routine of bowing and schooling his expression from any emotion as his childhood friend observed from afar. "Your Highness." The brunette rose from her seat as if on command, a dissonance between the shoulders that sagged on the turn of her heel and the lopsided pull on her lips "Let's go then".

The Empress pressed five golden coins generously into the hands of the server, said man gawking awkwardly after the pair as they ventured outside. She ambled her way up to the carriage, a contraption of dark teak wood that curved at the tips of the roof. The sides were lined with woven straw windows and at the back and front hung something akin to veils of flowing white fabric over the entrances. The lit lanterns dangled gently from the four corners of the roof and glowed dimly in the daylight, a foreboding of the midnight gown that would soon enwrap dusk in a promise of starlight.

Mitsuko walked to the back, her bodyguard instantly sidling up to her left when she did in an offer of a supporting hand. She glanced at the hand, lips pressing together in restrained words and climbed into the carriage on her own. Left the man staring silently after her as his rigid expression was overcome by a twitch of his mouth which stilled quickly at the sight of the Seer. His jaws clenched as he gave the man a courteous nod, the act of extending his hand a bit more stiff this time but just as futile as Mitsuko's brown head popped out from behind the veil. Her hand grabbing the Seer before her bodyguard could and guiding him along into the carriage where she immediately let go.

She settled on one of the pillows and hoisted the straw curtain up to reveal the houses lined up outside. From the ceiling swung an oil lantern, the light flickering off the edges of her silhouette in jaundice and painting it in black behind her on the wood. The carriage rattled to a start and her shadow swished ominously. Clotheslines portraying her as bigger than she was and more like an unshapely monster to the spin of the wheels.

"You don't happen to know if I left my kiseru at the temple some days ago?" Her finger rubbed absently against her lips at the sudden inquiry and her foot was tapping on and off against the floor. She quickly changed her mind and waved the question off before he had a chance to respond "Never mind, it wasn't that important".

The rest of the journey went by relatively uneventfully, the carriage rolling to a halt outside the temple gates first to drop off the Seer. Mitsuko waved through the window, a grin and wink in line up next as she singsonged her goodbyes "See you tomorrow Haru".

They continued down to the estate and parked outside her personal quarters where she exited. This time she reluctantly grasped Hayate's hand as he led her down the steps and into shelter. Awaiting her was a white Junihitoe, an amassment of billowing fabric upon billowing textile in layers of pristine kimonos, and a small number of servant girls that rushed her behind the folding screen in a hurry to undress her. The man stayed in the room with his back turned, the rustling of fabric and her disguise dropping to the floor the only sound to break the silence during the wait.

The servants excused themselves and exited in a row of hunched figures and skulking steps, air abuzz with the twitter of excited whispers until it was just the two of them left in the room. The shoji doors dragged close with a low thud and the shadow cast upon the folding screen drew a heavy sigh.

"Even the Seer calls me by my name, why won't you?".

Silence. She turned to face the folding screen, nails curling into palms at his impassivity and breath slowly rising under the influence of a quickened pulse. She parted her lips again, was about to speak when his voice suddenly rang out. "Because my place is beneath your Highness, the Seer is someone who can stand on equal grounds with the Empress. I, on the other hand, am but a servant." It was flat and removed, void of any emotions for the matter and yet. Yet it cut deeper than any wildly swinging sword could. It was the calculated stab of a professional, meant to cut the conversation short in one wrought gasp and twist of the handle.

Her breath stuttered, a hinge of a sob in her throat as her knuckles whitened in an artificial attempt at redirecting the trembling from her lips to her fists. "But I am not only the Empress am I not?!" She heaved with her chest and stepped out from the folding screen, a familiar urge to dive her head into a pillow and cry tomorrow away curdling in her gut "Am I not also your childhood friend? Am I not also...Mitsuko? Your Mitsuko?". Her shrill voice fumbled through the air and baulked against the strong profile of his back like waves crashing against cliff edges. He crumbled a bit, tense shoulders dropping then bracing anew in balled hands.

"Don't say that," He muttered and wavered like the lantern placed in the corner of the room. Something inexplicably heavy in the way his figure deflated under her gaze, jaw frozen in place and unable to articulate the little quivers in his knitted brows. The sight stoked her, steps rekindled with comfort and need and stumbling between hope and faith as she inched closer.

"Mitsuko. Akase Mitsuko. Your Mitsuko," The floor creaked underneath her socks and her breath pushed wheezing against the quickly inflating Hayate. "Don't-" He growled, a low thrumming sound that reverberated from his chest. Her voice only flared in response to the resistance "Akase Mitsuko and Arita Hayate, that's who we are- I've known you since you were but a child. You hate insects and cry at the sight of cockroaches, you used to be a scaredy-cat but ever since I made you jump from the barn loft into the hay you got braver. You still hate water though and can't swim. Even so, you're someone who wouldn't hesitate to jump in if you saw someone drowning. You have always known what to say at what time and people love you for it. You don't think you have a talent for blacksmithing and finds the pressure to take over your father's shop stressful but in truth, you make the most beautiful daggers I've ever seen. You have saved me from so many arguments and punishments but most important of all you saved my life by telling me to become Empress-".

She ran out of breath and stopped behind him, gasping at the back of his heels "Why are you pretending Hayate? Who are you pretending for? It's not for me. I never asked for this, so why?". Her eyes were red, her lips white and the silence black. A colourless abyss that swallowed all of her anxieties, anger and sadness to stir it into the bunched up expression on her face. All anguish and pain reflecting blankly on Hayate's turned visage. His jaws thawed in unbridled rage, seething under the words that were undeniably laden with frost as they imparted a slither of winter in the peak of summer in the shivers darting down her spine.

"You don't know anything Mitsuko. You never have."

The throne hall appeared more empty and bigger than ever in her sole white silhouette- A footprint in the snow with camellias blooming from the earthen shades in her hair. She was tired, so horribly tired and sick of the Minister's son that kept droning on in the background. Something about her being too young to be the Empress and she was a better fit as eye-candy than on the throne going through one ear then out the next. A hand snaked up her thigh to caress the purple petals of her tattoo. Mitsuko stared straight ahead, slowly unwinding at the seams in breaths that only served to empty her lungs and didn't bring any substance back in as she shrivelled.

Was he right? Had Hayate been right when he had said that she didn't know anything? Then what had all those memories been? Had it all just been one big lie? Her lower lip began trembling and she had to bite it back. It would explain how that asshole could send her out here, to pretend eating dinner at this long table when in reality she was actually the appetizer. A cheap prostitute to sate the hunger with before her Ministers and Advisors would begin the real talk.

The Seer's words echoed inside her head: "I will warn you, though. For your own sake, please, keep your guard up". A bad joke, that was all it was, right? Yes, Hayate must have said those things to prepare her and Haru must have seen this coming.

Her heart sped up and the feeling of foreign skin along her inner thighs coiled itself in nausea in her stomach. The stranger shifted forward to untie her obi and she rattled with a sharp inhale of air.

"You're quite handsy, aren't you?" The man froze, twitched maybe in his seat, started sweating a little bit as he sensed her piercing gaze from above. "I hope it was worth it. If this is how Engan conducts all of their business then We think this won't work out".

From the closed doors to the throne room emerged a single figure, white print stained in blood that spread from her hand- tightly clenched around the dagger she usually wrapped her hair with- across her chest and face. Her entourage rushed to her side, "Y-Your Highness! What happened?!" the old men fussed, stole glances behind her back into the room then at her hand. "I stabbed him," She stated matter of factly, cinereous eyes studying the inscription on the dagger's hilt- to my best friend. The men almost folded over there and then, hands running despairingly over crumpled facial features. "He's not dead, I only stabbed him in the hand," The Empress cocked her head back "-You all, however, will be dead soon. We, the Empress, hereby order the execution of all Advisors and Ministers of the former Empress Mai-Jing".

She turned to walk to her chambers,

"Take them away".
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surviving on coffee
Roleplay Type(s)
[Another quick theme for when Haru is going crazy c:]
Hole-Dwelling - Kikuo

Crimson eyes shifted to the familiar shape that had made himself known, the guard that had appeared earlier before they had even so much as left the protected grounds of the palace. The man's eyes slid between Mitsuko and the other, sensing a faint, almost unnoticeable tension from the two. Perhaps, it was in the way his new ally had stood, the sagging of her shoulders although her voice betrayed not what flowed through her mind. For a second, the man wished to pick at her mind, to unveil what secrets she perhaps still was harboring; but now was not the time, for their moment of quiet conversation had ended. With the creaking of protesting joints, Haru would rise to his feet, favoring his better leg as he approached the carriage, although again taking note how Mitsuko had avoided taking hold of the man's hand. Tension returned, with the brief exchange screaming it as clearly as if they'd had spoken their grievances aloud, even if Haru knew not the source of the pain. He was no fool, nothing could escape the living deity's gaze.

Haru's eyes peered searchingly at the bodyguard as he drew near the carriage, taking note of the stiffness of his outstretched hand to assist him into the carriage. Due to the Seer not having a grudge against the man, he perhaps would have taken it... before Mitsuko had decided to interject so suddenly, causing the Seer to abruptly be dragged into the carriage before he could so much as utter a startled protest. The man's hand tingled where she gripped it, causing the Phoenix's presence to rise within him, again her voice echoed menacingly within his ears, Ye art destined for failure. The ominous warning caused Haru to grit his teeth, although he forced himself to relax as her hand had thankfully let go of his own, not desiring to feel the odd tingling sensation much longer, and with her touch the Phoenix's presence had faded to slumber deep within him. What is going on today? Never had the ancient beast been so... talkative, if that alone was a decent description of the ominous taunting of the beast's words. An almost irritated breath had exhaled sharply through the man's nose, settling upon a plush cushion opposite of Mitsuko, his eyes drawn to the straw curtain as his eyes settled upon the passing scenery, allowing himself to think; thoughts trained on an all too ominous future that loomed before his eyes.

However, in the midst of his worried thoughts, the empress's voice rang out in the silence that had settled, causing his head to turn immediately to face her. Ah, the kiseru. He had been just about to open his mouth to answer her, perhaps in his usual snarky response that the foul object was laying at the feet of the golden Phoenix statue in the temple, to remove such an unclean thing from the temple immediately once they returned... but, he faltered as she had disregarded the thought just as quickly, his eyebrows knitting together as she claimed it wasn't important. How odd. Perhaps, it was the strange bodyguard that brought out such behavior in Mitsuko, though he knew not what was filtering within her mind as her face revealed nothing. So, the man remained silent instead, settling upon bringing the wretched kiseru to her after her fate was avoided, for if it would not... well, there would be no point in the gesture anyways.

Eventually, the Seer would be returned to his temple - much to his relief, with not a single incident to cause the carriage ride there to be one of concern. As he stepped from the carriage to be dropped before the temple gate's, he heard Mitsuko's cheerful voice behind him, causing the man to turn to face her as she grinned and winked at him, resulting in the Seer to undo the veil, making a point to roll his eyes at her. Nonetheless, he stood as still as a statue as she had spoken, a simple greeting. Tomorrow.. For a moment, the Seer's expression seemed troubled, but he had raised his hand in a dismissive wave as he turned to the temple, his face drawn into an expression of determination. For Mitsuko to even see a tomorrow, and all the promising tomorrows after that, he would not fail. He must do all that he could to prevent such a doomed reality from becoming truth. For your sake, I'll do what I must.

"Damn it!" Haru's lips curled in an irritated scowl, slamming down the ancient parchment before him to the poor, battered table that had suffered quite a bit of abuse from the frustrated Seer. Ever since he had returned from the outing with Mitsuko, the Seer for once had forgone returning to his bed chambers, and was now ripping through the library located in the western halls of the Phoenix. Frustratingly, from the pile of scrolls that were now haphazardly strewn about the tatami floors, he gleaned no useful information from them, and that was putting him in a foul mood. Raking a hand through verdant locks, he breathed a sharp and angry sigh, growling in his anger, tongue becoming quite foul as he complained, "Six thousand years of documentation, my ass! There's nothing here! What the hell am I to do with this shit?!" He shoved the scroll aside, the useless paper fluttering to the tatami floor in a pitiful pile. All he did glean from the scrolls was the years and death dates of all the Seers that had been found before him - and that was all he could find in the library.

No information to help him try to figure out how to avoid the future, no writings of his previous incarnations and their experiences. It was all as if anything useful was being hidden from him, and this served only to make Haru's anger grow as he rose from his seated position, a string of angry curses leaving his lips as his leg buckled beneath him once more, as if crying out in pain. If only to compound on the Seer's frantic, and angry state, once more the Phoenix's whisper rang within his ears.

Ye art destined for failure.

An angry cry left the Seer's lips as he shouted out to empty air, "As if that's helpful! If you're going to say something at all, help me!" His teeth gritted as he waited within the dark library, glaring out at nothingness as silence only seemed to greet him. Hanging his head in his hands, he could feel the wriggling of anxiety beginning to coil within his stomach. It threatened to make him nauseous as his body trembled, his voice dropping into a mere whimper, "..I don't want to fail again. Please..." A desperate and useless plea, but Haru was at his wit's end. The terrible future burned within his mind, reminding him of the taste of failure, one that he didn't desire to face again... and then the voice whispered, a single, simple command, Come.

His head jolted upward at the beckoning voice, his body at first not reacting. After all, he'd not think that the Phoenix would answer him in his anguish, his pain. However, before his mind could very well catch up to his body, his unsteady steps echoed within the temple's empty halls, leading him back to audience chamber. With the darkness of night, and only the faint glow of candles to cast any guidance upon the golden chamber, the Phoenix's statue that loomed above him seemed ominous as his gaze shifted upward to look upon the beast, the command repeated, louder and more insistent. Come. His eyebrows furrowed, looking about the audience chamber. From what he could see within the darkness, there was no other place to possibly go, aside from his own chambers, then taking to looking at the Phoenix, the man cautiously ran his fingers along the beast's clawed foot, nearly knocking Mitsuko's kiseru from where he had placed it, but in doing so a distinct click had echoed within the silent walls.

A grating, irritating sound filled the air as the statue slowly slid forward causing the Seer to scramble backward as fast as he possibly could, his hands coming up to cover his mouth at the smell that assaulted him. It wasn't something that he could properly describe, something so foul that it nearly made the man vomit immediately as he gazed at the darkened hole behind the statue, leading underground. Again, the command rang louder, more fervent and eager. Come. Come. Come. Come. Come. Come. It repeated, ringing within his ears with increased volume causing the Seer to grimace, resisting the urge to clasp his hands over his ears as he knew full well it wouldn't help. And with apprehension rising within his chest, the man had approached the gaping entrance, peering in to the dark depths as a chill flowed over his skin... and then he walked.

Haru knew not how long he descended, his hands pressing against cold, frigid walls to keep his balance. Sightless eyes peered into nothing but darkness as the foul smell flowed about him, growing ever stronger the further he traversed the empty darkness. It wasn't until his feet had reached what appeared to be a flat floor, had another click echoed, causing his eyes to close immediately as the sudden light that now filled the empty chamber was so blinding that the man brought his hands to shield his eyes, squinting to allow his eyes to adjust. Once his eyes adjusted, the sight that greeted him made the man fall to his knees, his lips twitched, horror causing him to whisper, "W-what..."

The chamber before him was coated with blood, once pure gold floor had been stained a rusted coloration as maggots crawled upon the walls and corners, slithering in and out of bleached and broken bone. Countless bodies piled high upon an alter, weapons of torture hanging from the ceiling, swinging slowly from side to side, coated as well with dried blood, fat and ripped, brittle skin. Toward the east and west of the chamber, rows of raised seats as if for an audience were encircling the forsaken place with shojis slightly parted, blood having long since caked into the surface... and toward the back was an open alter, red eyes staring sightless into empty air causing Haru's chest to rise and fall rapidly. A chill went down his spine as he felt frozen to the spot, as the Phoenix cooed, her sinister voice rising stronger than before: Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past.

Haru's body slouched over, feeling his soul being ripped from his body, weightless as his mind was thrown into a vision of the past that was foreign, but felt... familiar.

"Chisuzu." A man's voice called, causing Haru a tinge of momentary confusion, but soon was evaporated by feelings of overwhelming fear as the body he inhabited turned to face an unfamiliar man, although his voice came out strange, the body he inhabited raised her voice, "What is the meaning of this, Eizan?!" Haru could feel Chisuzu struggle, her breathing quickened with terror, ropes binding her hands tightly behind her back, the chamber being certainly not as bloody as Haru had seen it, in fact it being quite clean. But the seats were filled, the audience's eyes burning with anticipation, gazing down at her as if she were prey. Her chest heaved as she struggled more, the emperor crouching before her as he grasped her chin, a gentle caress like he always would do. It soothed her, halting her struggling as for a second, she saw the man's dark eyes soften, for a mere second perhaps the man she loved would explain himself... And then she screamed.

Her body flailed as the dagger he concealed met its mark in a crimson eye, her screams of pain causing Eizan to laugh, the man spreading his arms wide to the crowd as they laughed at her torment, her suffering. "Hear me, brothers and sisters! For we shall live forevermore! Hear the cries of the Phoenix, how beautiful is her suffering?" Eizan's head turned to look down at the Seer, a cold and delighted smile crossed her beloved's face, his lips curved in an expression of mockery, "What is happening? Why are you doing this? How could you betray me? All of these questions are so clear on your face, my love! Fear not, and delight that your life will be spent for the greater good!" Chisuzu felt tears beginning to cloud her vision, her lips parting to speak, to beg him to stop. However, he did not.

The crowd delighted in Chisuzu's suffering, her body split open slowly by daggers and blades, nails ripped from her fingers and toes. Her anguish, her confusion, her pain intensified as the nobles touched, prodded, and devoured wherever their fingers would rest, tearing at her flesh like vultures, consuming her while she could still bring breath into her lungs. It hurts! She would scream. Stop! She would plea. Help me! She would think as her body grew weak, and Eizan stared at her with nothing but delight. The Seer, steps from death would smile, gazing at her beloved's face. Maddened in her pain, her last thought filtered through, unable to bring herself to hate the man who had thrown her into hell, Ah... he smiled... Love-

Haru's mind was flung back into his body, the man's throat feeling intense pain from the screams he released, his body had collapsed forward on the bloody gold floors, tears flooding his eyes as he trembled. And then the Phoenix whispered again, her voice more so malicious: Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Another scream ripped through the Seer's lips, his hands clawing at his face, nails ripping into his delicate skin. He could feeling them biting, tearing, ripping at his flesh, humiliation flooding through him as if it were his own. His body convulsed as he struggled against imaginary restraints, more screams leaving his lips as he could feel the following Seer's torment. No more! Please! His mind cried out, as the second Seer's pain would flood through him, falling to the same fate of Chisuzu, ending with the selfsame pathetic feelings of broken adoration.

Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past.

The Phoenix's voice chanted in his mind as the Seer felt his body being torn and ripped, tortured and bleeding from imaginary wounds that felt as real as the wounds he was inflicting upon himself as he clawed at his face, as if that would get the pain to stop. The pain, the heartbreak, the agony... how it ripped at his mind as he felt the souls of deceased Seers grabbing desperately at him, their mournful cries echoing alongside the Phoenix's chant. My dearest. My beloved. Why? Why? Why? Why? Haru's nails sunk deeper into his flesh, his eyes rolling back as he screamed, their torment intensifying, six thousand years of their pain flooding through him over and over again. Again, his flesh would be torn, again his beloved would betray him. And again, and again he would feel that sick adoration, unable to feel hatred toward the man or woman who threw him into the same hell again and again.

Have I done something wrong? Why will you not love me? Why do you hate me? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Haru gasped for air, as his body crawled upon the floor, his chest heaving as the question left his lips, his face burning from the cuts of fingernails, "Why?.. Why?" He begged for an answer, the anguish of six thousand years burning in his throat as tears streamed in a relentless torrent down his cheeks. Then the Phoenix whispered, more sinister than before: Thine eyes bear witness to thine future.
For a moment, the pain had subsided, causing the trembling man some sort of relief... only for his mind to be assaulted by an image of his beloved. She stood in the selfsame chamber before him, arms spread wide, a blade in her hand as brown eyes that he remembered would always look upon him with such tenderness, such gentleness was now twisted with cruelty. Mai-Jing slowly stepped toward him, and his lips quivered, "Mai-Jing! Mai-Jing!" He wanted to ignore the cruelty in her eyes, choosing to omit such an important detail. The woman slowed to a stop before him, her knees touching the bloodied ground as her delicate hand touched underneath his chin, her voice soft, as she called his name, "Haru." Yes, Haru! Eagerness spread from the tips of his fingers and flowed to his feet, nearly wishing to spill the words of love he held for her. He missed her so very much, how his heart ached for her, how he always had loved her! He could take her away from the palace, he could marry her! He could give her everything she desired, a family, a home, a-

Pain flared in his stomach, a blade sinking in slow as Mai-Jing's eyes glowed with delight. He could feel the blade as she twisted it, causing Haru to writhe in agony, screams of pain ripping past his lips as Mai-Jing cooed, "How delightful. More! More!" This... this couldn't be. It couldn't be. It couldn't! Mai-Jing would never, ever harm him... wouldn't she? He searched the woman's eyes for answers, but all that was there was delight, and her laugh, the one that he yearned to hear day by day, was becoming more difficult to hear as she proceeded to rip and tear. But, such happiness... he'd longed to see her so happy. "...Mai-J-Jing..." Her name slipped past his lips, staring up at a face that belonged to a devil... and he couldn't help the smile that crossed his face. Such joy.. "I...love... you..."
Haru's mind was pushed from the vision, a future he perhaps had avoided. The vivid dream being one that should have horrified him, as it felt so real, so vivid. But, he wasn't given time to fully process the twisted Mai-Jing he'd seen, such a lovely specter of death she had been. He'd never seen such joy upon her face, a joy that he'd never be able to gift her no matter how much he would try with his breathing body. The thought made him cackle. Oh how cruel fate was indeed! The woman he loved, destined to slaughter him like all the others. "Ha... hahaha... hahaha... HAHAH!" The laughter ripped from his lips as he slammed his forehead onto the floor, the pain being nothing. Oh how vicious she had been! Oh how lovely! His tears stung at the open wounds upon his face, unable to stop his laughter at the absurdity of it all. The woman he loved would only feel joy killing him! She was no gentle soul, but merely a monster waiting to sink its teeth into all too willing prey!

Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past. Thine eyes bear witness to thine forsaken past.

He could taste blood upon the tip of his tongue, a slow smile crossing his face as the next Seer's pain flooded through him. Ah, now the pain was beginning to feel familiar. A chuckle left his lips as he slowly sat upward, gazing into empty air as his mind descended deeper into the Phoenix's madness, his voice, hoarse from his screaming now whispered, "I love you. I love you. I love you." The three words repeated as flashes of previous men and women, all people he had loved, all people who had betrayed him. Countless lifetimes of torment, as they laughed at his pain. Yes, because they laughed, they were satisfied, weren't they? Another bit of weak laughter left him, his arms circling his middle as he repeated the words over and over. He loved them, they didn't love him back. Why? No, the why of it didn't matter. It didn't matter at all! If they were delighted in his countless deaths, he would satisfy them endlessly because he loved them, each and every one of such filthy, depraved souls!

Love me. Love me. Love me. Haru's eyes felt heavy as his laughter wouldn't stop, the strength of his body having long left him as the pain subsided, his head snapping back as he stared into empty space, but he didn't see empty space. No, it was the Phoenix, a grotesque figure, where fiery wings and feathers would sprout, it was only broken, bloody limbs, hands reaching out to a lover's that would not reach back. Broken ribs, broken skulls, legs and flesh, innards and hearts, all encompassed the broken and disgusting beast that neared him. Love me. The Phoenix cried, a sentiment that ached so deeply within his own heart that Haru felt his smile widen, eyes crazed as he reached out to the beast. He would not deny the Phoenix, as the beast was he, and he was it. A broken, disgusting mesh of flesh and bone, discarded for the rest of his days, doomed to suffer, aching for a love he would never receive. He would embrace it, for it was the truest form of himself.

The thread that he feared to grab onto snapped, and his mind fell into the Phoenix's embrace.

Within the throne room, the tense silence that had fallen at Mitsuko's cold order had caused not a single soul to stir. The sounds of footsteps echoed within the chamber as it seemed like her order was to be followed... except blades and spears were pointed at the empress instead. Bodies moved to block her pathway, the people in question certainly not appearing to have been around the palace, or at least these individuals hadn't graced her sight before. From the garb of these individuals, they appeared to be priests, their pure white garments decorated with golden embroidery of what seemed to mimic the feathers of the mythical Phoenix. An elderly man in particular had blocked Mitsuko's path, dark eyes peering at her underneath bushy, graying eyebrows, his voice rang out through the chamber, cold and empty, "I'm afraid you've not the authority to issue that command."

A wrinkled hand had raised, a single, silent command to issue death. Her death. As it was, the nobility found her activity to be... concerning. At first tolerable, but now certainly a line had been crossed, one that couldn't be tolerated. However, as he issued the command, heat seemed to flood the chamber, a sickening heat, and a keening cry accompanied by countless whispers, two maddened words filling the hall over and over: "I love you. I love you. I love you." The priest's face paled, graying as if he seemed to spot death itself, muscles locking into fear as his eyes seemed to lock upon something behind Mitsuko, sweat beginning to form upon the priest's forehead. "...Seer?"

Haru stood at the opposite end of the chamber, the man's red eyes glowing with a crazed light, blood dripping from deep rivets in his skin, as if his fingernails had been ripping at his face. A severed head was held firmly in Haru's hands, a broad grin slowly crossing his face as he whispered, his voice hoarse and mixed in with something far more sinister, "I love you. I love you. I love you." Blacken flames sparked and flickered from his hands, the edges of his robes, his hair, though his hair was tinged with the color of flame. The body he'd slaughtered lay behind him, blood flowing sluggishly from a cleanly sliced neck as he dropped the head he held to the ground, the haunting sentence repeating as his crazed gaze seemed to look through Mitsuko, slowly lumbering in her direction. Upon his approach, the men who had flooded the room had moved to attack, to possibly attempt to restrain the Seer... but they didn't come close. The blackened fire had flared, flowing from the Seer's body before the weapons could even pierce the Seer's body, seeming to slice through the necks of the guards as they fell to the ground in lifeless heaps. And still, Haru kept repeating that accursed sentence from his lips, the broad grin never leaving his face as continued his slow, eerie pace, splattered by the blood of the bodies that didn't seem to come close enough to harm him, "I love you. I love you. I love you."
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