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Caeleste
OOC News
[ Archive ]
26st May 2018 | Thanks to everyone for voting on Discord for our default skin! Reveries has won and enjoy your prizes. If that's not your cup of tea, don't forget that we have nine skins to choose from!

21st May 2018 | Of the Month Nominations are now up! Go spread your love with your nominations here

16th May 2018 | After serious deliberations among the staff, we would like to welcome our new moderators: Delirium, Briallu, and Cinder! Congratulations! Thank you so much to everyone who auditioned; it was one of the toughest decisions we've ever had to make! We loved reading all of your applications!

30th April 2018 | Interested in becoming a part of the moderating team of Caeleste? Staff auditions are being held here! We welcome all to apply!

30th April 2018 | With all the battles underway right now, we are in need of guest battle judges! Please take a look here if you are interested!

30th April 2018 | Of the Month Voting is up - go vote for your favourites here!

18th April 2018 | Please congratulate the our two newest admins, Kiwi & Mallory! They were promoted thanks to all their hard work and dedication! We also want to thank all our current staff as they have been working really hard to make sure Cae is running smoothly! Keep your eye out as we are going to be hosting auditions to add two new moderators to our staff team!

15th April 2018 | The staff is at it again! A wonderful new type of quest is now offered to you wonderful members of Caeleste by the name of Misc Quests. No matter what it is your character desires they can now got to their Deity and see if they are willing to make their wildest dreams come true! Check out the info and rules here!

2nd April 2018 | We have amazing news!!! Immortality is now attainable through In Character achievement! Be sure to check it out in the guidebook, under Immortality!



* 25th February 2018 | The guidebook is undergoing a well deserved revision! Many things are being clarified and a few additions are being added. When the entire guidebook is finished being revised we will inform all members with an announcement following its finishing. Until now a new change log has been added for future references. Any new additions or changes to the guidebook will be added there for everyones sake, we wish for all our members to be 'in the know' and not feel left out. For now until the entire guidebook is finished you can follow the progress here. Understand that each section that is currently dated has been revised, if it is not dated it has not been revised yet, all new rules are being enforced starting the day they have been added. Be sure to keep up with the revisions and make yourself familiar with them as we go.

22nd February 2018 | After some staff discussion we have made an announcement regarding character names and some extra clarification that is not detailed in the guidebook. Please be sure to look over this announcement here and reply if you need.

21st February 2018 | Of the Month Nominations are up this month, go and nominate your favourites here!

20th February 2018 | We have a new poll up, Leadership Battle Grace Period Poll! We are considering changing our grace period for leadership battles to offer some more down time. Go read about it an give us your vote!

18th February 2018 | Additional news for today, we now have an absent/busy page that shows all members currently absent/busy as well as the reason stated for such! This page is controlled by the away status you set for your account (by going to edit profile --> away status). We will be going through the absences board as well and adding in current absences to some members profiles. If you had an absence thread posted but are no longer absent please delete the thread. <3 Thank you!

18th February 2018 | NEW SITE INCENTIVE!!! Weekly Challenges were set up in an effort to give members a chance to do something out of the ordinary with their character while receiving a reward for doing so. Be sure to check out the thread, challenges start today if you wish to get involved.

31st January 2018 | February OTM's are now open for voting! Cast your votes whenever you get a chance.

28th January 2018 | New quick link MyCodes available! Easily link a profile, thread or specific post in a thread. To read more on how to use them please see the More Resources section of the Guidebook. They can all be found under the Miscellaneous --> Useful MyCodes area.

25th January 2018 | New way of tagging. Instead of @username it is now @[username] and you will also see nifty little reminders in both posts and profiles that you can easily copy and paste instead of having to type out names! Hoping everyone has an easier time with tags now.

23nd January 2018 | Of the month nominations for February are taking place, be sure to nominate your favourites here!

22nd January 2018 | Thanks to the wonderful isoldehn, we have new rosters for each individual herd! They can be found in the navigation menu as a drop down under "Census". The Census & Player DB as well as all rosters now update automatically! We also just updated (moved accounts inactive) and deleted accounts (that were inactive for three months or more). This is a reminder to login every thirty days to keep accounts active and every ninety days to keep accounts from being deleted!


10th January 2018 | The poll has closed and Greeshma has a new Emperor!

7th January 2018 | Greeshma leadership voting is now open! Please go and cast your vote after your own deliberation on the applications for our leaders; thank you to everyone who entered! Go vote!

1st January 2018 | Happy New Year to all of Caeleste and all the lovely people in this community! To celebrate the new year, we are holding two contests alongside each other; a Posting Contest and an Advertising Contest and both have super prizes. It is a contest against yourself and not against other players, all in the name of earning some fantastic prizes, so we hope you'll really enjoy it! Let's have another fantastic year! And have fun posting!
IC News
[ Archive ]
26th May 2018 | Congratulations to Leonidas for defending his title as Emperor of Sharad from Caoimhe! Thank you to both participants for an exciting thread!

24th May 2018 | In an unexpected change of events, Caoimhe challenged the Emperor of Sharad Leonidas for the Silver Pines! Read it all HERE to see what happens next!

23th May 2018 | Thanks to one of our wonderful members, Jabberwocky, Caeleste has a special Masquerade Ball in full swing. Don't miss out on the fun! Before you do please be sure to check out the rules and check out this latest update.

19th May 2018 | Congratulations to Hassan for defending his title as Emperor of Greeshma from Rex Igni! It was a hard-fought battle, but in the end, Hassan emerged victoriously. Thank you to both participants for an exciting battle!

15th May 2018 | Due to Milly Mae's forfeit, Antiope is the new leader of Vasanta! Check it out here!

30th April 2018 | Everyone is in the fighting spirit in Caeleste today! Three new challengers have approached to take the throne of the Vasanta, Greeshma, and Hemanta leaders! See the battle between the elegant Milly Mae and her challenger, Antiope right HERE! While you're at it, check out the fierce battle between the fiery Hassan and his challenger, Rex Igni right HERE! Finally, watch as the stately Nylah takes on his challenger, Wessex right HERE! You won't want to miss these battles, so go see what all the excitement is about!

30th April 2018 | Due to Vithmiris's forfeit, Ylva is the new leader of Shishira! Check it out here!

28th April 2018 | The stunning Ylva has challenged the powerful Vithmiris's title of emperor! Don't miss out on this enthralling battle found here

16th April 2018 | Caeleste's Seasons and Years are now organized in an easy to read table. We are currently working on a coded version but please feel free to check it out at the bottom of the page here! With that being said our Year and Season has been updated! It is now Fall in Year Three!

13th April 2018 | It's Friday the 13th and Leonidas is out for blood! Come join the Sharads as they confront the Shishira demanding answers about the death of their Emperor's child! It's sure to be an enthralling thread! Check it out here!

2nd April 2018 | We have amazing news!!! Immortality is now attainable through In Character achievement! Be sure to check it out in the guidebook, under Immortality!

28th February 2018 | After a long battle, Vithmiris has been declared winner and keeps his reign as the Shishira Emperor! Thank you to our guest judges and staff who judged the riveting battle. You can check out the results here!

3rd February 2018 | The Emperor of Sharad, Leonidas, is calling an Emergency Herd Meeting! His first and only daughter has been murdered in cold blood! He needs your help, don't miss out. This is the beginning of something big! Check it out here and paticipate in this thrilling plot!

1st February 2018 | A newcomer by the name of Destroyah has challenged Vithmiris for leadership of Shishira. What will come of this? We do not know but you may follow the battle here!

10th January 2018 | Congratulations to Hassan on winning the place as Emperor of Greeshma!
Setting
Year III | Winter
The once auburn leaves and crimson colors are now gone, swept away by the strong winds leaving bare trees in its wake. The clouds also seemed to have swept in fast, plummeting the ground with snowflakes. All of Caeleste is quickly blanketed in snow and not just a thin layer of it either. The snow already reaches up to the knees of the more taller equines in most areas. Even the temperatures feel a lot colder than what they normally would be for winter. Snow storms tend to be hitting every other week or so, making all the habitants dreading what it will be like further into the winter. The rumours of a harsh winter are proving to be correct. Even the ice coating lakes are difficult to break through. Word is beginning to spread that this will be one long tough cold winter.
Monthly Herd Post Totals

Greeshma

119 posts

Hemanta

147 posts

Sharad

198 posts

Vasanta

198 posts

Shishira

185 posts
  • Member of the Month
    jabberwocky
    Despite being a member of Caeleste for only a short time, Jabber has managed to dive right into our community! She's always willing to talk or plot, and with her wonderful, active characters, she's already added so much to Caeleste! We look forward to seeing what else Jabber will bring in the future. Congratulations!
  • Thread of the Month
    Come As You Are
    An emotional thread and a great read with many of of our gifted members taking part! Emperor Leonidas, of Sharad, and his loyal followers storm through the ice and snow to face off with the horses of Shishira. Each horse at his side shows what dedicated subjects he has. The horses of Shishira are not apt to help but with his friends at his side, we're sure the truth will come out!
  • Couple of the Month
    Resin & Xavier
    Our duo who won TOTM last month, here they are again as our POTM! Resin and Xavier bring an interesting dynamic to the table in regards of a pairing. A tormented soul meeting another full of confidence, the sparks have been flying ever since. With Xavier recently confessing his feelings to Resin, only time will tell on how our lovebirds will continue to develop!
  • Character of the Month
    Aeoloni
    Aeoloni is a skilled warrior and is exciting to watch in battles. Even watching her in battle it is easy to see that she stands up as being a leader naturally. These skills are utilized well within Illustris Monastery - which was rebuilt and managed by the pegasus. It shows the joy and kindness the mare has towards others here within Caeleste. She is a mare you can count on if you need a helping hand.
  • Quote of the Month
    Pilot
    "Girlie, it's time to go. Unless you want to end up fried."

    A moment found in Oops, I did it again where Pilot helps a small filly named Cirrus and helps guide her out of the Dragon Isle. It is a tender moment that highlights Pilot's concern for Cirrus's safety.
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Caeleste Time: 05-27-2018, 12:57 AM

Antimony
Overview
Appearance
Personality
History
Credits
antimony eudoxia, the rose of drakesfell
Overview
Gender Mare
Age 6 year old
Height 17.0 hh
Breed Dutch Warmblood x Andalusian
Sexuality Bisexual
Player revenant
Items
Appearance

and what is beauty? terror.

hers is a bellicose silhouette, wrought in steel and sheathed in silk. the feminine curves of her body are accentuated by the lean, robust musculature beneath, power sculpted into every finely hewn arch and swoop of her seventeen hand figure. a classically roman head, the refined curve of her jaw is distinctly feminine but her high cheekbones stiletto-sharp and carved from marble. lithe and long-legged, she carries herself with the uncommon grace of a predator and the inborn poise of one that does not lack for prestigious bloodlines, nor confidence in her charms.

her skin is a rich sable, a silken overlay that lies sleekly against the sharp planes of her body; the scent of roses and woodsmoke accompanies her, clinging to her hide. from the crest of her spine runs large golden dapples, spanning from her withers to the base of her tail before seamlessly melding with the burnished golden overtones of her shoulder region. the shade is somewhat muted, though brighter flecks scatter across her skin as though they were stars. her hooves are a vivid, gleaming gold, with the faintest shimmer. unblemished ivory stockings lace up her front legs, irregular and falsely virginal. a mask overlays the harsh planes of her face, exaggerated ebony features painted over a crisp golden canvas. kohl outlines gleaming ochre eyes, an ivory beauty mark just below her left eye and alabaster lining her roman nose. decadent silken waves of lustrous sable tumble over her shoulder, edged with bronze. deep crimson roses are occasionally weaved throughout her hair, taken from the wreath her brother had once crowned her with. truly an opulent magnum opus, antimony is venus reborn.


whatever we call beautiful, we quiver before it.
Personality

black widow, pale shadow

she wields words as daggers and lies spun into truth, dealing in secrets and deception while presenting the world a mask of dignified affability. antimony's loyalties are not particularly fickle; she is devoted only to her ambitions and to her kin, though her loyalty to her family members is far more tenuous. her father had taught her to surround herself with only the strongest allies - although her betrayal is almost inevitable - and to scorn weakness in both herself and others. to antimony, there is little room for uncertain loyalties or attempts at neutrality; if not an enemy then a pawn, to be moved as she sees fit. eventually a side must be chosen and she intends to see that it is her side that is chosen, be it by simple diplomacy or by deception. she rejects the archaic notion of honor in favor of seizing power through whatever means necessary. to her, power is a complex concept that many lust after and few truly understand. she understands that true power lies with those that could seize and maintain it, just as she understands that brazenly seizing power often ended poorly. instead, antimony undermines, coerces, seduces; she takes every opportunity and advantage she can so that she may gain the upper hand.

she is the descendant of legends, her blood rich with thousands of years of nobility, of notable warriors and esteemed politicians and scandals that never saw the light of day; image is everything and hers is above reproach. it had been impressed upon her at a young age that she was heir to both her father's lands and to the ancient house eudoxia, her every move the subject of scrutiny by the court she flourished within. there are few things more important to her than her family or her ambitions; if either are threatened, she is a relentless opponent and willing to crush anyone or anything that stands in her way. icily poised and as graceful as a queen, she subtly manipulates politics to suit her own ulterior motives with uncommon ruthlessness.

antimony is difficult to read for anyone that does not know her well and takes great care to present only the image that she wants others to see. she is a machiavellian pragmatist, coldly calculating and willing to take advantage of any opportunity presented without regard for the morality of her decisions. although she is unforgiving of any betrayals or slights, antimony disdains sadism and considers torture as a means to an end only when all other possible methods have been exhausted. she has never been particularly prone to vanity simply for vanity's sake because she views her beauty as only another tool for the purposes of coercion or seduction. she is proud, though not excessively so; if deemed necessary, she will swallow her pride to further her ambitions.


stand among the ashes and ask the ghosts if honor matters.
History

your hands are wet with the blood of an empire. you lick it off.
the night you were born, a tremendous storm sundered the skies and shook the walls of your ancestral home, the winds shrieking in discordant accompaniment to the sobbing screams of your mother as she struggled through labor. you had been born first, your brother's lusty wails rising as he, too, entered the world just a few moments later. vaguely, you remember staring quietly at your mother as she stilled, her sides heaving with the great effort it had taken to bear her children; golden ichor stained the sheets beneath her body from invisible wounds, and you, too, were covered in gore. the healer your father had summoned was frantically casting spells to replenish the loss of blood and to mend the internal wounds, though she soon exhausted her magical reserves, the damage too great for her abilities. as your brother wept bitterly, her husband looked on expressionlessly and you gazed silently at her, the lady of drakesfell breathed her last. your father had turned and walked silently from the room, leaving the midwives to swaddle you and place both newborns at their mother's still-warm breast. this was the first time you and your brother had experienced death, though it was far from the last.

although the birth of two healthy children should have pleased your father, the death of the woman he had loved so deeply had caused his joy to turn to ashes. yet, rather than cling desperately to the legacy of his wife, he had distanced himself from his children and had become more of a detached tutor to you than a loving father. he had begun to instruct his children at a young age in order to begin to forge you and your brother into weapons, into heirs that scorned weakness and valued the reputation of their house as much as he did. you had been born into one of the most formidable of the great houses, a family intimately associated through long-standing alliances — both marriage and military — to the ruling dynasty that had lasted for centuries. house audris had been deposed from the throne during your grandfather's time, yet they remained a strong power within the realm and loyal friends to house eudoxia. as the eldest child, if only by mere moments, your claim to the duchy of drakesfell was considered the strongest in accordance to the absolute cognatic primogenetic succession laws; unlike in other regions of brynaer, the province of valkrai allowed the eldest to inherit regardless of gender. still, your father had made it all too clear that your twin could unseat you from your rightful place as heir apparent. he had told you and your brother that he would name the strongest of his children as heir, regardless of birth order, though your courtesy titles would remain unchanged. as the eldest, you had been the countess of wrenhaven since birth, a traditional title accorded to the current duke's eldest child. still you knew, even at your young age, that you wanted more than wrenhaven; you would settle for nothing less than to become the head of your house and the reigning duchess of drakesfell. your ambitious nature was not easily satisfied, nor was your taste for bloodshed.

you were barely a year old when your magic had violently manifested, once-golden eyes gleaming with the faintly glowing hue of old blood. you were much too young to control yourself, to control the illusions that rose from deep within you; a young servant had been caught within the grasp of your magic, forced to relive fears she hadn't known she had as you watched, both awed and horrified at what you were capable of. your father had found you like that, glowing eyes fixed on the servant as you stood silently, unable to end the torment that had the unfortunate maid's mouth stretched wide in a wordless, echoing shriek. your father had approached you directly but you were blind to his presence; as your illusions begin to creep insidiously into his mind, his magical aura swells darkly around him as his telekinesis lifted you before allowing you to fall, primeval instinct breaking your concentration as you try to save yourself from injury. the illusions shattered, the hazy aura of your eyes dissipating as you collect yourself and regain your composure before rising. your head bows beneath the weight of your father's cold gaze as he stands before you, moving to handle the sobbing servant after several moments. the afflicted maid is sent away with a handsome purse of golden gulians to live on, her mind a spiderweb of cracks from the inescapable horrors she had lived and relived again and again; it was far from likely that she would ever recover enough of her wits to ever be of use again, much less speak to others of the heir of eudoxia's monstrous abilities. a mage is quietly summoned to instruct you in the arcane arts, paid handsomely to nurture your natural aptitude and to not reveal the nature of your magic to anyone. when you were not studying the arcane, you and your brother were being instructed on the expectations their father had for his heir. your father was unafraid of your newfound abilities, recalling that your great-grandmother had been blessed with a similar ability and had possessed the same "gorgon's eyes"; your brother had kept silent, though he could never quite fully hide the horror in his eyes when he looked at you.

it was not long after your magic had manifested within you that your father took special interest in the tutelage of his children, bringing you and your brother to court for the first time so that they could begin to familiarize themselves with the perils and pitfalls that was courtly intrigue. the matrons of court had cooed over the motherless children, though your father hadn't escaped their attention either; he was still in his prime, the head of a formidable and ancient bloodline with one of the highest titles in the realm. many a matron had hoped he would remarry one of their daughters, but he had refused all proposals, whether implied or overt. he had been young when he had wed your lady mother, a member of a lesser noble house; although the great houses often married their scions to each other, the wealthier of the lesser nobles could find spouses in houses that had long histories but were in short supply of wealth or that wanted to acquire more wealth and did not mind having a spouse that came from a family of lesser breeding. that had not been the case for your mother, whom had caught your father's eye after she had challenged and soundly bested him. the story was a well-known tragedy that the court still remarked upon, although most of the gossip-mongers had the grace to keep their insidious whispers behind closed doors. the lady alistra had been visiting drakesfell with her family while her father had been brokering an alliance with your grandfather, offering him gold in exchange for future support when the house attempted to reclaim lands that had been lost to them during the crown's civil war. during the negotiations, the thoroughly bored alistra had ventured out into the training yard to practice, only to be met by the forbidding face of the duke's only son. he had greeted her harshly and they had exchanged pointed words before she had challenged him to a spar; incredulous at the idea of losing to a waif of a highborn girl, he had agreed, though he was lying in the dirt before long, struggling to regain his breath while said noblewoman swept haughtily away from her fallen opponent. initially furious, his anger had soon faded enough that he offered her a formal apology when he came across her in the halls a few days later. during alistra's time at drakesfell, the two of them had been noted to spend an increasing amount of time together and even spar a few more times, though caedrus did not make the same mistake of underestimating her again. when the head of house caewyth and his family had left, it had been with the promise of an alliance, sealed by the engagement between the duke's heir and the youngest daughter of house caewyth. your mother had been regent while her husband had been at war, though she had been relieved when he had retired from the battlefield after all but winning the war. they had spent an idyllic few years together, the realm prospering within the period of peace; it had all come to an end the night of your birth, the night your mother had died. your father had loved your mother more than anything and had grieved her loss deeply, swearing an oath never to wed again and sealing it with a bottle of fine whiskey. there had been one particularly memorable courtier that had more arrogance than tact and wit, mocking your father's vow as his sycophants tittered; he had caught wind of it, though. by morning, the fool had been challenged to the first duel your father had fought since before the birth of his children, you and your brother watching quietly as your father proved that his gruesome reputation was richly deserved. the whispers had been silenced after that, the courtiers fearful of being the next to face him in battle.

your father had withdrawn back to drakesfell after the duel, taking his children with him; although you were growing into your ruthless cunning and your charisma, you were not yet ready to be amidst the vipers bereft of his guidance. you had excelled in your arcane studies, though; in terms of raw power, your abilities nearly matched your father's in strength. he specialized in telekinesis while you had an aptitude for the manipulation of illusions and emotions, spending long hours honing your raw skill because you knew all too well that your magic would be useful while at court; most courtiers had control over one magic or another, though the most skillful tended to be the highest ranked as well. your brother was one of the very few scions of great houses that either squandered their magical gifts or simply did not possess any; he preferred physical fighting and had little concern for politics. still, you knew all too well that he could usurp you as the rightful heir, and so you continued practicing and plotting, though your schemes were to no avail. you had considered arranging his death so that your father would have no choice but to name you heir, having no other legitimate or illegitimate children. you had quickly dismissed the idea, however; even if you had planned it to be a tragic, unavoidable accident, too much could go wrong and cause you to be implicated, especially as you would have much to gain from the death. it went against all of the subtlety that your father had instilled within you, nurturing you into a potential heir that would be both cunning and poised. perhaps you might have grown up less merciless, less pragmatic, less cruel, had you a mother's soft touch, but all you had ever known was the cold iron gauntlet of your father and unforgiving tutor.

when you had reached the age of three, you and your brother traveled to court in order to continue your instruction in the delicate art that was valkrai's politics. you had flourished, though your brother had struggled to adapt to the intrigue and maneuvering — he had never been one to engage in deception and innuendo, instead preferring to test his might in battle. you favored court as your chosen arena of choice, charming your peers as a child with your poise and sharp wit; as a woman you seduced, enticed, persuaded, each word a finely honed weapon. the court was dangerous for those that could not play the game well, devouring the innocent, the righteous, the honorable. still, you did not neglect your physical training; duels fought over perceived slights and to the death were not uncommon. no one would challenge the right of the victor to end the duel in any way that they saw fit; the people of valkrai loved their bloodsport and the courtiers were inclined to provide it, seeing the duels as opportunities to show off their prowess and rid themselves of troublesome enemies. when you were not attending court, you were in the training yard, sparring with the guards ordered to accompany you and your brother. while there were very few that would risk your father's wrath or that had a vendetta against your family strong enough to harm one of his children, the guards were spies as well, reporting to your father about his children and about what went on at court.

you eventually began to accept challenges from your peers, whom challenged you because they didn't believe you would ever live up to the reputations of your father or house. when you continued to be the victor of each duel you fought, the challenges you received decreased, until only the most arrogant or the most skilled continued to offer themselves as opponent. you were often underestimated because of your sex, because you tended to be shorter and leaner than your opponents — with rare exception, most of your opponents were noblemen — and because you were beautiful; you knew how lust fogged the senses and you used that to your advantage. although your duels were to the death, that you had killed several of your peers had few complications; most of your opponents were lesser nobility or fourth sons, though occasionally you answered a challenger seeking vengeance for the death of their kinsman. you had never fought someone truly of stature until you answered a summons from an upstart scion of house gulian, the second-born son of the current lord and a distant cousin of both the king and yourself. he had been drunk on arrogance and supreme confidence that you would fall before him as previous opponents had, claiming the glory of victory as no one else had before. you had drawn first blood and his ire as you and he waged war on each other, defiant fury clashing with indomitable ruthlessness. he was skilled, nearly your equal; it was clear that he had been taught as well as you had been, though you far outmatched him when it came to magical ability. still, he was a formidable opponent, his telekinesis stirring up clouds of dust that obstructed your warring figures from the onlookers while your shadow daggers came at him, an effective distraction as he struggled to keep track of the daggers and your movements. eventually you were beginning to tire, though you let him believe that you were far more exhausted than he was, seemingly struggling to keep up your illusions. he had believed you beaten and had taken his time, savoring the victory that seemed all but certain to him; you were struggling to rise when he reached you, having just cracked several ribs from a rock you hadn't quite managed to dodge. when he slit your throat, your beaten figure disappeared before the first drop of blood dripped onto the ground. your lips pulled into a rictus grin that bared your teeth in a snarl as the dagger flashed silver and the blood sprayed.

you were the one left standing when the dust cleared, golden eyes cold and remote as you glanced up at the onlookers before you turned your back on them and stalked from the field. you were the one left standing when the slain boy's younger brother and uncle challenged you, attempting to avenge their beloved kinsman. despite the fact that it was honorable, sanctioned combat, the head of house gulian had been wroth when he learned of his son's death, threatening civil war. the king had stood by, unable to intercede without accusations of favoritism and likely hoping that war would weaken the grasp house eudoxia had on the realm. house gulian had eventually backed down, realizing that, to their chagrin, a war with house eudoxia would not be a war they would win without great loss; although house eudoxia was smaller than it had been in centuries past, their allies numbered half of the great houses, to say nothing of the lesser nobles that owed them fealty. although the current king was kin of house gulian and the family was renowned for their wealth, there was not enough gold in the realm to purchase enough allies and mercenaries willing to make enemies of half of the realm. you had remained in court, a calculated defiance to show the gulians you would not be easily intimidated by them, nor flee to your father. your father refused to step in unless you were truly outmaneuvered, keeping a watchful eye on the situation and occasionally offering his advice but trusting in your judgement. still, he had been deeply displeased by what had occurred after you had killed the gulian scion and had written a letter of sharp censure. when you were challenged by the two members of house gulian, you allowed them to live so as to not worsen relations with house gulian, albeit with grave injuries that left the uncle with a permanent limp and the brother with deep scarring across his face. although war had been averted, tensions were still present and relations were barely civil. despite the anxious mood, the tourney planned to honor the king's nameday had continued as planned, many of the nobles eager to watch the yearly carnage. you had attended the tourney to speak with some of your peers in regards to political matters and to watch your brother fight; he had been strangely absent as of late, though you knew that he was absent because he was sneaking away to train with an older knight from one of the cadet branches of house audris. his practice had clearly been worthwhile; you had watched as he swept his opponents, felling them with cunning finesse that had the onlookers gasping in awe and cheering in excitement for their chosen knight as blood spattered and bones audibly cracked. when there were no others left standing besides your brother, he was offered a crown of roses that were the color of fresh blood. your composure was unshaken as he laid the crown of roses into your lap, winking a fiery eye as the dull hum of whispers rose up from behind you. traditionally, the tourney winners crowned their lover, or, if he was unattached, a female member of his family; however, it was the accompanying wink that had set off murmured rumors about unnatural affections. you had borne the rumors with iron composure and a cold, unblinking stare directed at anyone that dared to hint at the rumors while in your presence, until no hint of salacious scandal was found and the whispers faded — besides those spoken by members of house gulian, whom still wished to see your fall from grace, even if it was only in the eyes of the court. although you had been greatly displeased with your brother for his audacity, you still kept the roses.

"the strongest shall rise and the weak be cast down", an adage your family had been faithful to for centuries, when valkrai was still ravaged by unifying wars and the first generations of your ancestors flourished. you had risen high indeed, forging alliances, charming your peers, claiming victory in the duels you fought as you gained an intimate understanding and control over your arcane. it had seemed all but certain that, the near-war notwithstanding, you would be named his heir, the future duchess of drakesfell and sole head of house eudoxia. your father had other plans, though; you and sirocco were summoned to his study, not to announce his next heir but to strip both of his children of their rights to the courtesy titles of the earldom of wrenhaven and the highlordship of elteran. your composure unshaken, you listened with detached interest as your father explained. "you were each strong in your own right," he had told them, "but you are not the strongest, nor have you faced the trials that your ancestors and i have." you had to make your own way in the world now, without the influence of your father, nor his wealth and shelter; this was to be your reckoning. your brother had left first, leaving a week before your departure to travel north, toward the camps of the king's army so that he could enlist. war seemed imminent between valkrai and her eastern neighbors, the moranthe isles; the king would need all of the soldiers he could recruit to replenish his standing army. you bade your father farewell and left drakesfell without looking back, traveling west to avoid the trouble on the eastern border.

you remember the shock of the sudden vulnerability as you found yourself in elysium, your ability to access your magic nearly nonexistent. the magic of the land was inaccessible, too foreign to be harnessed by you; it was not until much later that you had fully regained your control over illusions and the ability to influence the emotions of others. initially you had wandered, familiarizing yourself with the strange land and becoming acclimated to the foreign people and their culture — the denizens of elysium addressed each other only by first name rather than with the appropriate noble prefix, an intimacy that would not have been tolerated in valkrai, as the court much preferred to stand upon tradition — until you had happened to encounter a woman with the night sky splashed across her skin. the stranger had turned out to be the sovereign ruler of one of the five kingdoms, lyrus, and had offered you a place within her ranks with the implication that loyal subjects were welcome, especially those that could offer good council. you had seen the opportunity to entangle yourself in the politics of elysium, accepting her offer to become one of her advisors. however, it had become painfully clear to you that the queen was not all that she seemed, nor was lyrus; ursa's sanity had begun to desert her as the kingdom crumbled around her, protected only by a few loyalist knights from what had once been a mighty army. the queen's mental stability had continued to deteriorate, culminating with her disappearance into the forest. it had been an opportune time for you to settle a crown upon your brow, to seize power with no one to oppose you. however, you had seen how fragmented the kingdom was, how few the subjects were, how far their reputation had fallen; you had left one night, abandoning the skeletal remains of a once-proud empire.

when you had crossed the border of the slidr river valley, chills rippled down your spine at the sudden loss of your magic. you had emerged from a system of caves into a foggy valley and had gone west — always west, it seemed — in hopes of finding natives or a civilization. what you had finally found, after coming across a native to the valley, was an outcropping said to belong to those of house tryggr, one of the three kingdoms. they had accepted you as one of their own, one of the higher-ranked members granting your request to join; immediately you had started figuring out how to elevate yourself back into the aristocracy. you had eventually rose, although it was not because of your scheming. you had had the pleasure of meeting the king at a ball to honor a the rise of a soldier into the ranks of his personal guard; you had smiled coyly at him and then turned away, effectively dismissing him by turning your back on the most important man in the room. later, he strolled up beside you and asked how you liked the party, undeterred by your polite rebuff in response. you knew his type: confident in his charms and intrigued when his advances were rebuffed. you had refused his offer to accompany you to another event, though you had been seen conversing with him; when you walked away, you knew he was watching you, as you had often caught him doing so from across the room while you both conversed with others. the king had announced his official intent to court you; months later, he named you queen and placed a heavy crown on your brow, the binding words tasting like ashes in your mouth.

although you were a power in your own right, you still answered to your husband; the mantle of a dutiful bride sat ill on your shoulders but you wore it with grace, the very image of the loving wife. you were a flawless liar, after all. he married you because he thought he loved you instead of lusted for you and you refused to disabuse him of that notion; he was far less irksome when he thought you were the love of his short, foolish life. still, the serendipity of love did not last; he was infuriated and frustrated that you were not yet swollen with the heir he desperately desired. mahaan wanted the assurance of a secure dynasty, having lived through the rampant slaughter of his own family. he had been a distant cousin with little more claim than the name he bore, though he took the throne because there was no one else left of dehaan's bloodline but him. mahaan knew nothing of your nightly ritual after he visited your chambers, that you ingested a precise mixture of herbs to prevent the conception of a heir, swallowing death without remorse. it was a potion that had to be prepared carefully, lest the drinker be poisoned instead. if mahaan died without a heir, there was a good possibility for you to be able to sway the support of your subjects to support your claim as queen; if you bore a child, he or she would be a significant threat to your power and of your chances to be crowned queen regnant. you continued to present a flawlessly united front to your subjects even as your marriage suffered behind closed doors, your confrontations bitter with his veiled disdain and withering love. he always wanted more, more; it wasn't enough that he had your love — you felt nothing but detached apathy for him but it was necessary to keep up the facade — and it wasn't enough that he had ensnared you — although it was really the other way around — because nothing was ever enough for him. when rumors of a mistress reach your ears, you are indifferent, knowing that, if the rumors were true, it was a mere dalliance borne of frustration and a misplaced desire to hurt you. he is unsuccessful in that respect, though he succeeds in the endgame.

when you learned that she was pregnant, your first reaction was a desire to tear the child from her womb, to slit her throat with a gleaming dagger as you have cut others before. your first reaction was fury, and it was all you could do to maintain your composure and not allow your husband the satisfaction of having drawn a true reaction from you. you were wrathful not because of his infidelity but because this heir had meant your downfall as much as it did the continuation of mahaan's bloodline. with a child born of your union, you would have had the opportunity to influence their reign as their mother; if this child became king, you would have all of the power of a dowager queen, the widow of the late king — which is to say, very little at all. your apathy is dangerous but your wrath is lethal; you no longer spoke to your husband unless spoken to, your fury choking you into silence. perhaps you should have seen this coming; for all of his protests of love, you had known he had desperately desired a son, though you had underestimated the lengths he would go to achieve his ambitions. you paced and you sat on your throne with the cold grace that befits the queen that you are, sharpening your daggers and scheming.

she went into labor late one night, storms rumbling softly in the distance; her cries were audible over the thunder, just as your mother's had been, a very long time ago. but you refused to compare your unfaithful husband's mistress to your mother, the woman that your father had loved enough to fight duels for her honor even after her death; such a comparison would honor the whore and shame your lady mother. still, you did not sleep well that night, plagued with what memories you have of your birth. mahaan's bastard daughter was born the next morning, though the birth was difficult and several weeks premature. the mother had not survived the labor and was buried a few days later with only your husband to pay his respects to the woman that had given him what he wanted. it was not a son, of course, but a daughter could have still inherited the throne. although, sickly and significantly undersized as she had been, no one had expected her to live much longer. indeed she had not, dying within three weeks of her mother; the wet nurse had been sent away soon after, recovering from the ailment that had plagued her for a few weeks. you had looked down into the grave, cold eyes resting upon the small body within. you felt no grief for the death of the threat to your ambitions, nor regret for doing what had to be done. it was these words, spoken so long ago, that resounded within your head as you gazed into the grave, your eyes lingering for a few moments before you moved on.

you considered murdering your husband as he slept, standing over him and looking down as you had looked down into the grave of his bastard whelp. it would be too easy to allow steel to bite into his golden throat, vulnerable in sleep as he was. yet your blades remain sheathed and you allow him to sleep in peace, unaware of what his eventual fate would be. you would not underestimate his desire for a heir again, nor would you cease taking the herbs to prevent pregnancy; your husband had survived much, but his time had finally run out.

mahaan's death had been shrouded in secrecy, lies upon lies hiding the truth from view until it seemed the deceit was truth and the real events fiction. he had been seen drinking heavily and arguing with one of his guests; it was not a stretch to imagine that he had left to get some air and had drunkenly fallen over the edge of an unstable cliff. it was a tragic death, though not one that made anyone suspicious - antimony herself had remained present at the event well into the night, speaking with one guest or another to forge her alibi. however, she had killed her husband as surely as if she had pushed him; he often liked to stand and look out at the land, deep in thought. earlier, she had gone to the cliff and cast an illusion to make it seem as if there was land, not open air; he had stepped too close to the false cliff, falling swiftly to his death. the morning after the event, the king had been declared missing, although many of his guests had assumed that he was simply sleeping off the wine. still, they had mounted a search to look for him, finding his body rotting in the warm sun a few days later. they had been unable to recover his corpse but had lit a pyre for him nonetheless, his grieving widow addressing the mourning crowd that had gathered to pay their respects. his death meant the last of the tryggr family, the founders of the kingdom. years before, the reigning family had all been murdered by the ambrosius queen, a woman said to be blessed by the spirits and cursed by her enemies, leaving mahaan the only survivor that could take up the tryggr crown. mahaan had left no heir, not even a bastard that could be legitimized and crowned the next king; despite his disappointment and fury at not having produced a heir, he had been faithful to his bride. antimony's coronation had been beside his grave, a foreign queen but a queen nonetheless. most of her new subjects supported her reign, the commoners remembering her kindnesses and the nobility remembering her polite refinement. there had been a few that spoke against her, aghast at the idea of allowing a foreigner to assume the throne; the most brave had even put themselves forward as candidates to take the throne from her, though they found little support in anyone but those that agreed that a foreigner should not be crowned. instead of targeting the most vocal, she found the ones who quietly refused her reign, who dissented in hushed voices but spread their plague all the same. although she dearly wished to make an example of these traitors by removing their tongues or executing them and having their severed heads mounted as a warning to those that would consider crossing her in the future, she allowed each man a chance to defend himself in a trial. if they recanted their words and pledged their loyalty to her, they would be allowed to remain within the tryggr kingdom, albeit with their title or a significant sum of money seized. the ones that refused were stripped of their titles and wealth, exiled to live out the remainder of their lives in the harsh wilds of the valley. there were no more whispers after that.

it was not long into her fledgling reign that a raven had arrived from the warden of the east, the leader of those that had been exiled from the houses. she had accepted his invitation and met with him, though she had returned to her lands feeling as if their business had not yet been settled. the exiled were a volatile, difficult group, loosely held together only by their mutual disdain for the houses. however, antimony was confident that perhaps she could reach an agreement with the warden that they wouldn't side against her in a war. however, before she could set any plans into motion, a letter from her father had arrived, summoning her back to their ancestral lands to take up her rightful seat as his heir. while she should have been pleased to be finally acknowledged as the future duchess, the cryptic nature of the letter and the mention of illness within it had concerned her. yet, she could not leave the kingdom she had fought so hard to gain; the decision had been made for her, when the chill of dark magic had washed over the valley, leaving it lifeless and corrupt. as her subjects fled the valley, antimony began the long journey back to her homelands.

when she had arrived, it was to a quiet, grim drakesfell. the stench of illness and must had permeated the air as she had stepped inside her father's chambers for the first time in years. he hadn't recognized her, lost in the fever as he moaned and whispered her mother's name in a plea. it had come on suddenly, one of the servants tending him would later tell her, he had collapsed a few days ago and had not been able to leave his bed since. they had been the ones to pen the letter of summons, having sent for a healer from the order of ysera as well as her brother, though neither had yet arrived. antimony had settled into her new role easily, relying on years of experience adapting to situations as well as her time as both queen and royal advisor to take up the mantle of duchess and rule while her father lay febile and delusional, calling for her mother and pleading for her to come to him. the healer had arrived after a few days and immediately set to work, though sirocco had not answered the summons despite a second letter, then a third. in rare moments of lucidity, he would ask her in hoarse tones about where his son was, only to lapse back into his fever dreams a few moments later. the fever had eventually broken, although antimony had waited to relinquish the duties of the duchy back to him until he was nearly fully recovered from his sickness. she had spoken of her experiences since leaving drakesfell to him as he recovered, though he had merely nodded. neither of them had mentioned his feverish delusions and pleas for his wife, nor spoken of her brother's notable absence; although her father had never said so directly, she had a feeling that there was a reason her brother had ignored the letters despite the risk that he might never see his father alive again. while antimony had flourished under his tutelage, sirocco's struggles had caused acrimony between him and their father; her father was not very close to either of his children, but his relationship with his son was far more strained than with his daughter.

antimony had remained at the castle for several more weeks, though eventually she had bade her father farewell and left, acknowledging silently that drakesfell was not yet hers. she had left valkrai, eventually crossing over the border into the land of caeleste, though the feeling of her sorcery leaving her was still as deeply uncomfortable as it had been the first time she had ventured into a new land.


give me my robe, put on my crown; i have immortal longings within me.
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