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No title.
(2013-06-07 - 2013-07-19)
No description.
Emperor Mateus It is a cold day in Palamecia, all high-altitude dreariness and humidity that hasn't /quite/ broken into actual rain just yet despite dark clouds threatening otherwise. It's bad enough that the townsfolk in the Palamecian village seem content to remain in their homes, and even the military forces seem to have a similar mindset well-kept in their posts.

It does not matter how one chooses to enter. Go through the labyrinthine corridors from the plains up to the peaks? Pass through the village? Fly up to the castle itself and bypass the scenery? Riding through on chocobo would get an odd look, but only due to the bird's rarity and subsequent novelty in this land. But there would not be a single case of hostility nor negativity directed towards nor about visitors.

Any Palamecian they encounter, in fact, seem to lack a care or concern. At most, they seem expectant... But for what?
Palamecia was a city that indeed had many ways. However Leon decided to go the direct way and when they did get close in, he did in fact allow his own chocobo to go back to once it came. If they were to be attacked. They would have because the gates into the city's mountain tunnel and into the city was directly ahead.

He was sure those mountain peeks had hidden archers that could rain down arrows at anytime, but instead none of it came. He pulled the hood of his face a but more as if trying to further conceal himself and then motioned for the others to follow.

If they choose not too, that was fine. If they wanted to go ahead. That was fine too. "Once we pass those gates." He says calmly. "There is no turning back." He perhaps says this to really remind himself. He was walking to the mouth of the Lion's den.

Or perhaps it should be better said...

Coeurl Den.

As he stepped under the gates, he paused there. Noticing the two guards who didn't even move. They had normal eyes under their armor. Normal human eyes and didn't even seem to move. Like statues. His body tensed up, before he went to take another step. Then another. Just waiting for them to attack.

Yet the attack never comes. It doesn't come for anyone; unless they make a move of aggression. So slowly, Leon walks on, glancing over his shoulders to see where everyone else was and if they were even being followed.
Percival Percival /does not/ ride Chocobos.

He'd glide at some points. But when they were ready to approach the city's mountain tunnel, he'd have actually descended, and kept pace beside the Chocobos by dropping to all fours. Suprisingly he was able to keep pace, rather well. He'd said perhaps all of three words to Leon and Maira up until this point. Not because he was.. trying to avoid them, per se. More that he was afraid he'd just say the wrong thing... Also, because as he admitted to Maira earlier...

He was terrified of what would happen when they went to Palamecia.

When they passed through the gates, he'd actually rise back to just his hind legs, walking once again as a man, as he looked at each of the guards, he'd shudder, despite himself. Military discipline was one thing.. the Queen's Guard in London had that sort of discipline. But these men seemed like they were half-golems.

Maybe that was closer to the mark than he thought... He'd just walk quickly past them.
Maira A thoughtful silence settled around Maira during their ride to Palamecia, hardly a word spoken by the young woman unless she was spoken to first. A strange thing, for the chatty Maira. There seemed no room for talk now. This was it. Answers to questions, resolutions to problems, ends and beginnings.

Maira looks up at the gates of the city, pulling the cool, moist air into her lungs and letting it out slowly through her nose. She reaches up to adjust the hood of her cloak as well, making sure it covers her hair. She wishes the sky would stop threatening to rain and simply do it. Get it over with.

Though Leon dismisses his chocobo, Maira cannot. She's riding Mao, and she won't leave him behind. She tired a lot easier than the rest of them anyway. Maira moves Mao over to stand beside Leon, reaching down and offering her hand to him for a moment. "No turning back. We're in this together--I won't let you get left behind. We can do this," she tells him, trying to be brave.

She looks back toward Perci, flashing him what she hopes is a reassuring smile.

Maira is terrified too, but she is determined not to look it. "....Lets do this," she says, then nudges Mao forward.
Rena let her chocobo go in the same fashion, watching it disappear back towards it's home in the distance as she drew her cloak about her.

She was in her leather armor with the jacket and the bow slung over her shoulder. She had a much better idea of what to expect perhaps and didn't pay any attention to the guards in waiting other than to offer them a small smile.

She offered Leon her arm. "Ready to go?" she asks, not so much as looking backwards as deciding to go back from here. No-- it was interesting enough to see this play out to the very end, now that the die had been cast. She doesn't seem worried or concerned in the slightest, as if they were on holiday and were strolling a private garden rather than walking straight into the teeth of the unknown.
Emperor Mateus None of the soldiers react to the visitors not of their land--not of their world. Their eyes stare straight ahead, perhaps only the barest of flickers given to those who pass by, but they do not react nor even move. The purest example of military training, honed as only a militaristic state could achieve.

Yet there is life in them, as clear to the eye as the armor itself. Not mere golems, nor puppets left hanging without a master to direct them. It may be... disturbing, at least to those apt to dismiss their humanity so cavalierly.

As the group crosses through the small courtyard towards the entrance itself, there is nothing to indicate a trap nor even suspicion. In fact, the expectation still wafts over the area almost as heavy as the humidity, though not from any one source.

They are expected.

A man waits at the large doors leading into the castle proper, wearing noble clothing with his hands lightly woven together over his solar plexus. He is one in his prime, a knowing but not condescending smile gracing his smooth highborne features. "Greetings and salutations. I am to lead you to your ultimate destination. If you would follow me?"
Leon doesn't even respond to anyone at first. He just inhales the cool air and keeps walking. When Rena gives him her arm, he takes it like a gentleman he is and then nods his head gently. "I am ready.. I am.. ok." He says very softly. Ok. Haha. That was a joke.

Yet when Maira comes along the other side, which her chocobo may cause a momentary glance by one of the stationary guards, they STILL don't move. Leon carefully takes Maira's hand and gives it a gentle friendly squeeze before he lowers his arm once more. Though the side of the cloak goes past his shoulder now showing the gentle streams of darkness playing up his arm like a low yielding fire. It wasn't bad, but it was there. So now beyond the hood, The t-shirt, the jeans, the armor guard over his right arm, the sword at his hip. It was all there to see.

And though it was cold-- he had gotten a tad use to it by now.

"Maira." He says softly. "You should hand off your chocobo.. or let it go until you can call for it. We.. Fynn.. Palamecia.. neither nation holds Chocobos. Only steeds and last I checked-- only Palamecia's war horses remain. Beyond the wild mustangs and their herds."

Soon they enter the court, then they enter toward the castle itself where a man seems to await them. Leon then reaches up and removes his hood. There was no further reason to hide his face. It was obvious now that Mateus knew they were coming-- somehow. Maybe that mark Maira pointed out scared into his back was indeed how. Which then begs the question of why did Mateus just /wait/; or maybe that was half the game after all.

"Ultimate Destination huh?" Leon remarks coldly. "I am guessing whatever fate remains for them," He motions to the others. "Is not up for negotiation with you right?" There was a choice that may have to be made here.

Leon does eye a few of the guards up on high. Noting a few of those ones are leaning on the edges of the barrier, watching closely it would seem. A few with red eyes. A few with bows, and a few that seem to have tomes hanging off their sides. Rather a large assortment of individuals it would seem.

"..and so many guards needed really?" He murmurs out.
Rena lets her arm drop and blinks once before simply following along in the wake of the assorted travellers. "Ah..." the woman proclaims in a cheerfully sugared voice to Percival.

"Remind me to give you a tour, guardian. There is so much history here and so many things to see --although regretfully I do not think we have the time for tea." she looks to Maira who has sunk into thoughtful quiet and then back to Leon. She then bows politely to the noble, making a similar bow and smile as he has given them.

"Thank you for being so gracious. Forgive my companions. Their nerves are a little frayed from the journey up here to the capital. " She says in an aside to Leon. "Yes. Its a welcoming committee, one way or another."
Maira The fact that they were expected really rubs Maira the wrong way. But of course, the heretic mark. It was just like Angantyr said, wasn't it?

Maira nods to Leon, dismounting. She leans in to whisper to her chocobo, resting he head against the feathered one of the bird. "You go on back to the stables, okay? You know the way. I'll find you again, don't worry," she says to the bird. Mao is clearly reluctant to go, giving her the sad-eye before he turns and runs off.

Sighing heavily, Maira then turns and squares her shoulders, walking up to meet the man who was here to escort them. She too removes her hood, no reason to hide. She's bad at it anyway.

Maira keeps looking around toward the shadows, knowing Angan would likely be there. He would probably portal in if he wasn't already lurking nearby.

Maira looks to the man and copies Rena, bowing a little. "Well I guess we're expected....lead the way then," she says, resigned. "Do we have at least a promise of safety while here?"
Percival The Gargoyle would just offer a faint smile to Rena, "I'm suitably disappointed.. you know how much I truly enjoy your tea. However I feel that the.. grandeur, of Palamecia might be properly emphasized if my eyes remained.. open for the tour."

That they were expected, was one of his worst fears.

The genial mien of the man that greeted them only contributed to that. It just raised hackles, on the back of his neck. That this was all a drama, that they were all bit actors on a stage, and that they were all following a script...

And yet he had a feeling that not following the script would lead to only greater consequences. It put him on edge.

The man might as well have stated their /final resting place/, and it wouldn't have changed the way Percival felt about him, at all.

At least then it would have sounded more honest.

And still he'd just glance towards Maira, as if asking her silently, /Are, you, sure?/ He still had a trick or two up his.. well not sleeves, but around his neck. Something he'd acquired just after their first encounter with the Emperor of Palamecia.
Angantyr Vespar A dark portal appears.

"This is a seriously bad ide-.." Angantyr says, his beat skipped due to the fact that they were being expected.

"Okay, this is a VERY seriously bad idea," He states, shaking his head. His hand does not go to his weapon, but he's not liking this at all. Both giving a look to Maira, and then to Leon. This was going to go badly, he was going to have to kill his way out, and drag Maira with him...

Percival was only a optional objective.

Leon was probably going to betray them because of Jazz hands...poor Rena was probably going to be a causalty of this whole stupid idea.

Yes, Genre savvy is a skill, he put ranks in it. Suck it.
Maira Maira looks to Percival, nodding slowly. Is she sure this will not all go horribly wrong? No. Is she sure she has to do this anyway? Yes. She wouldn't leave Leon to do this alone, and Angan and Perci wouldn't let her do this without them.

Still, Maira clings to optimism. To hope.

Maira looks over to Angan and bites her lip, stepping closer to him. That always helped. "It'll be okay," she says quietly. She knows he won't believe it.
Emperor Mateus The man's smile widens as a warm chuckle escapes his throat. "I make no decisions here," he replies as he regally bows to the newcoming guests. "But please, put yourselves at ease. You are guests, not hostages. No harm from us shall befall you, by order of the Emperor."

The troops crowding the upper ramparts overlooking the courtyard are more curious than anything, and anything but hostile. Most gazes are on Leonhart himself, but the others get their fair share as well. Maira's bright red Chocobo running off redirects the gazes for a time, though it's only a sharp bark of a superior officer that scatters the forces back to their posts.

Angantyr's arrival by way of portal doesn't get anyone to even bat an eye or flinch, apparently at least passingly familiar with the concept of Dark Corridors. "Now then, please follow me." He turns around in a quite sharp about-face and walks into the corridors, seemingly unconcerned with the visitor's unease.
Leon rumbles softly as Rena says her bit. Then he remembers what her deal in this all is and sighs softly. "..We are.. safe." Leon says calmly to Maira. "..You will be safe." He states again as he then notices Ang come out of the dark portal.

"Handy." He then starts to follow the noble man, looking over everything here. "So our reason of safe passage is because Mateus wants us to have a nice warm, cold welcome with no weapons to our throats. How quaint."

Leon then glances over to Percival, then to Ang. He was sure with them not both here, Maira would be safe. Rena though-- beyond her making sure he didn't go berserk on this trip, he wondered what role she would play now. An aid in Maira's escape-- or a force to be reckoned with.

Yet.. her presence was-- comforting. Either way.

As the walk. Leon unlatches a small leather book from his belt which he then hands over to Maira. "Maira." He says softly. "Would you look over this for me? Just encase.. you know." He would give it to Rena, but he wasn't sure if Mateus wouldn't force her hand at some point.

If you can ever force her hand at anything.
Rena-sub Rena seems to be more than usually aware of this. Go go genre savvy awareness.

She looks at him, then at Percival, then at everyone around and just laughs very-- very softly. "I know." she says to Angantyr. "I know." What she has learned about all of this, about how heroes have neatly arranged themselves on a plate without having to be more than lightly coerced is kept to herself.

Laughter would certainly ruin the doomed mood of this quasi-ridiculous procession.

And it would hurt Leon, which is counterintuitive right now. There was enough to be dished out soon that she didn't need to add to it. She smiled sadly at him and followed where the noble would lead. And if she felt a little hurt and irritated and helpless? Well. That was shoved into a very small corner in a box labeled 'do not open' and then lost in a bureaucratic error.

Maira Huddled still beneath her long cloak, Maira follows, her eyes roaming as they move. Even here, even now, she can't not notice such majesty. It is not a sight she ever thought to see. The inside of a castle? An emperor? The world had gone mad.

Maira glances toward Rena, wondering much the same as Leon. She knows Mateus, she seemed friendly with him even. Maira doesn't understand how Leon still trusts her.

She knew this was a terrible idea, but she had promised Leon that she would go. This is what he thought he needed to do, and she wasn't going to let him walk back into Mateus' grip without putting up a fight for him.

When Leon hands her a journal, she takes it and looks at it for a moment, running her hand over the cover. "I'll look after it...but that's not going to happen Leon. We're not going to let you go," she says to him, tucking the journal into her pocket inside her cloak.

Ugh, are they /there/ yet!?
Percival Percival was a movie buff, he was very genre savvy, moreso than most thought..

Except he thought it was more likely that Leon would be forced to betray them, whereas Rena would be the one who /actually/ betrayed them. For some reason he considered her far more dangerous than Leon, after his experiences with her. Also because he was a little biased given her sleeping spell on the tea cup.

"Guests." He simply grunts it out, closing his eyes and breathing out a sigh. More like prisoners, except the prison was the entirety of the nation. They'd just walked willingly into their own cells. And yet despite the madness of the idea, he was still following their tour guide around.
Angantyr Vespar If Ang could hear Rena's thoughts, he'd scoff. Shadow Lord or not, Angantyr's confident in his power, or at least, being able to make sure Maira got away. Beyond that, he was sure HE could get away...eventually. Angantyr's darkness was a parcular breed. The soldiers scoff, but Ang keeps walking...he's been inside this kinda place before, he knows how these people act...nobility in his his blood, and part of his up bringing...he's sometimes very glad that he was freed from such a life.

He likes Maira's optimism...but he was sure this wasn't going to end up well for anyone involved.

He's quiet now, walking and listening, trying to watch out for...whatever is coming. Emperor or not, he was sure that they were going to be watched, the heartless could come form anywhere...and the soliders of one of the more powerful nations of the World of Ruin come down on them all.

He's on edge, but he hides it well.

Unless you can sense the dark.
Emperor Mateus Their impromtu 'guide' pauses at a large set of double-doors. "This is as far as I can go." He gives them a bow, then presses against the doors to open them. "My Emperor. They are here."

As he moves aside to let the group pass, the large throne hall is revealed--yet it is surpisingly bright and warm, especially given the weather conditions and the country's reputation. The decor is simple, befitting of an ancient medival castle with tapestries and crossed-weapon-shields on the walls. Both the tapestries and the shields are emblazoned with the Palamecian crest--the red bird on a black background. Most surprisingly, a table has been set up with food and drink available, steaming hot and providing even more warmth for the area.

"Greetings, honored guests. If you are hungry or thirsty, feel free to help yourself." The familiar crooning tones of Emperor Mateus' voice almost echoes in the large hall, but not from the throne at the other side of the room. Instead, he walks out from a side door, wearing his black-and-purple outfit with part of his long silver hair bound around horns at the side of his head with the rest falling free down his back. He is not armed, his staff is nowhere in sight, but that is probably not a comfort.

He bows to the group, one arm folding in front of his torso as his other arm sweeps off to the side, a warmly honest smile on his face. There is no pompously-arrogant Emperor here, and certainly no 'fufufu' to set off Dark Knight tempers. "I understand you trust nothing here, and you are well within your rights to do so. I shall not bar any of you from leaving if such is your wish, but I believe you came here for a reason."

He walks to the far side of the table, placing it between himself and the group as if to further emphasize peaceful intent. "I am curious as to 'why'."
Leon was lead right into the main hall and he stares at all the fancy stuff. Including the free food. Which he was-- very tempted to get. He would respond to Maira, but he was staring at the whole place. Was this where it happened? Or was it back in Fynn...

Either way he glances around before Mateus walks into the room. His red eyes glow brightly as that tinge of gold becomes very obvious. "You!" He suddenly barks out. His hand reaching for his sword as he suddenly takes a few steps forward, but he doesn't pull out his sword. He doesn't draw it.

"...." Silence then falls over him as he then finds himself standing very rigded, a sneer on his face. Yet he be the one who have to answer the 'why' or did he?

"Don't play games, Mateus. You know why we are here. You can tell what is going on all along, couldn't you? So why continue this little game when I /bet/ you been shadowing my steps the entire damn time!" He then takes a step forward and points his finger at Mateus. "You.." He then closes his eyes and lowers his hand.

He could feel the darkness creeping around him. Seems the ticking time bomb has come back and perhaps with vengeance. "..You wanted me." His eyes open and he stares at Mateus. "So here I am. Now.. leave Maira and the others alone. Because I don't take your word for anything-- and I am sure.. neither do they."

Leon looks over to Rena for only a moment, then to the others. "But I do have one question.." he then points at Maira. "Why did that Ghost and you have that stare off. What is /her/ story in all this? Because I bet if its important enough-- you WONT let them walk out."
Rena-sub Rena smiles warmly as Mateus enters. "Always the gentlemen, Mateus." she inclines her head then looks over at Leon. "And there's no better reason than good company. It's one thing to hear of an inescapable tragedy and another to find one somewhat more up close." she snorts very faintly and swings her arms back and forth.

"Guardian Angantyr. I still believe I owe you several drinks. They are likely, in the presence of the moment, not even likely to be poisoned and between the two of us, I think we can bully any lingering ailment to trouble someone fainter of spirit." She listens to Leon for awhile, but she has decided. He is an adult, and as such can take care of himself. After all. No force in the world has gotten in between him and his decisions.

She is simply making her own now. she strides down the hall and takes a seat at the table, taking a deep and steady breath of the food as she folds her hands in her lap and waits with faint curiosity to see if anyone will join her.
Percival The guide disappears, and he'd take in the appearance of the Emperor walked right into the room from the side alcove. He was rather cocksure, and far too comfortable, but why shouldn't he be? He was in the middle of his Empire. They'd only gotten this far because he allowed it. He'd listen to his speech with arms folded across his chest and wings opened. Given that it was indoors, it seemed like an almost contemptuous gesture. But it was more that he just wanted to keep his options open for a quick reaction if it were necessary. No that certainly didn't make him feel like he was a guest, he still felt like a willing prisoner of his own making.

And nope. He is definitely not touching that food. Nor the drink. Thanks Rena, that's all your fault. It almost certainly isn't even poisoned or ensorcelled. Still, /your fault/ Rena.

But no, he's not going to interrupt this conversation. It's far too important for him to even think of interjecting any words here. Besides, he wanted to know how the Emperor knew Uist as well.. and how Uist came to be Maira's father if so. In summation...

/Remaining silent for Plot Exposition, GO!/
Maira Maira can sense the dark. Whatever calm Angantyr projects, she knows he is on edge. She's glad for it. She trust him and Percival completely. They would look out for her as she would look out for them.

Maira watches the shadows, on the look out for heartless as well. She expected them to be everywhere.

Maira looks to Percival, pressing her lips together in a thin line of worry. If Mateus attacks them now, would she be able to look out for them all?

Maira nods to the man as he tells Mateus they are here and then departs, moving inside, possibly first if they will let her. Whatever she was expecting, this wasn't quite it. D-damn it! Did he know how much she loved food!? A FEAST!? The cold and starving orphan in her is yelling at her to start stuffing her stomach--and her pockets. However, she resists.

Now that she sees him, she closes her eyes for a moment and Uist arrives. He will be more careful this time he tells himself. He will not draw too much energy from Maira to make himself fully corporeal. He appears--well, as a ghost. Ethereal, vaguely shaped, but with recognizable features. He stands to the side of Maira and just stares at Mateus.

"You know why we are here Matthew--ah, Mateus," she says, standing her ground and looking back toward Leon. She lets him speak, wincing as he reaches for his blade.

"I'll say it. You were right, because here we are. You knew Leon would have to come back....Now, I have to ask that you fully release Leon from your influence," she replies. She'd been practicing this in her head for miles of their trip.

Maira takes a quick breath, then looks to Uist, nodding in agreement to Leon's words. "Yes. I want to know what you know of Uist--and of me."
Angantyr Vespar Angantyr rolls his eyes at Mataeus...

Oh yes, you can afford to be hospitable because you have all the keys...the hospitality no doubt would be different if you didn't have them, he muses to himself.

"Not drinking." he says, simply to Rena, "Not here...not now. While they may not be poisoned, I will not have my senses dulled in such a way now." he says, "But we can have a drink another time where the subject matter is not...heavy."

He tries to be pleasent, but he's starting to rethink how Rena fits into this. He isn't sure if he can take her down in one strike...which would leave three of them, against three of them...and a army of men and heartless. He shifts...he loves these odds.

Uist manifests, and another piece of the puzzle is...starting to come out.

"Lets skip the dramatics. And honestly? Using darkness to control this man in such a way, I can just imagine what Garland would say. Stupid is a kindness."
Emperor Mateus Strange thing is, there are no guards, and the few shadows that are within view are silent and still. There are no Palamecian forces within the throne room, human or Heartless. Clearly another strong message that Mateus is remaining true to his word--as he always has to this point.

The Emperor does not smirk, does not seem to even look triumphant. Yes, he was right--but they know it, voice their discontent with knowing it, so why rub it in? Hardly the right setting for such pettiness. "Aye, Leonhart. I knew your location and your actions, but 'twas no different than watching a butterfly in the field. What you did was of your own choice, either as Leon or the Dark Knight." His voice is quiet and frank, but surprisingly without conceit or any of the many negative personality traits that have been attribuited to him as of late. "However, your condition... is deeply concerning..."

His gaze wanders over the others--at Rena's amblivance, at Perceival's stoic distrust, at Angantyr's bluntness, until finally focusing on Maira and Uist's confusion. "Leonhart has a strong Darkness in his heart, constantly threatening to consume him from within. It is not simply something one can wish away and make better, and 'tis not of my doing. A heart opened to Darkness cannot be cleansed of Darkness, yet the heart must be strong enough to manage it--control it. Leon's heart is unable on its own, so I locked it away to protect what remains of Leon himself. I will not claim benevolence, as it was completely for my own ends, but the alternative was... wasteful." He motions to Angantyr in particular. "To compare Leon in his current state and Angantyr over there is appropriate, given the circumstances."

He moves on, however, not letting the topic linger on that for long. "But very well. I will get to the point." He pulls his cape to his side and takes a seat at the table, taking a drink from the goblet as one would sip champagne. If the rampant lack of respect for his station bothers him, he does not show it one bit. "There is nothing to hide, after all."

He points to Uist specifically. "In life, you were Captain Uist Netherpyre of the Palamecian Honor Guard--the protectors of the royal line. When the first emperor of Palamecia--my..." He audibly spits the next word out in clear contempt for just that moment, "...father-- sought the Darkness, he haphazardly cast many of his men through Corridors into other worlds. You were one such man."

He steeples his fingers together in front of his face. "When I deposed my madman predecessor and became Emperor in his place, I did my best to find and return those lost men to the Empire. When I found you, however... you had found a life. A love. And you brought her here with you. I had allowed her to stay, but your experiences had... altered your perceptions. Your loyalties had turned elsewhere, to the new home you had found. What was it called... Goug?"
Leon watches Rena then walk over to the table to sit down. Waiting to see who would join her. He frowns a little at this. Not because she left his side, because he rather be sitting there with her then in front of Mateus.

Though his gaze moves over to Maira as she speaks up. He blinks his eyes a few times, surprised by her own words. She wants him set free? He was-- rather sure.. that wasn't an option that could be done. Or was it? His eyes slowly turn to look at Mateus.

Then at the ghost as it manifests itself once more, then back to Mateus. This was going to get /interesting/ wasn't it?

Then Mateus gets down to the nitty gritty and honestly. Leon wasn't feeling to much better so he just finds himself swaying a little as he listens. He glances over at Ang as he gets compared to him and snorts. Unsure if to take that as a compliment or an insult.

He then crosses his arms over his chest. The darkness under his feet spreading out a bit, but staying close to him never-the-less. He goes to explain what is up with Uist and the fact that apparently the ghost was once a Palamecian Soldier.

Leon then reaches up and rubs the bridge of his nose. "So.. The ghost was one of your men who wanted to get away from you, which I can't blame him-- and you can't undo the very curse you inflicted upon me--- because it was always there and you just.. poked it to hard? Am I getting this all right?"

"Remind me when I ask for you to take my life, next time I make myself more /clear/." He then pauses and raises an eye brow sharply. "And just wait a minute here, Your /emperorness/. You trying to say that you have no control over the Dark Knight? That is a complete line of bull." Or-- that soldier was being honest-- which was worse. Damn. What kinda villains are honest?! "You are the one who ordered him to do everything he had done. Probably even go after Maira."
Rena Laradyne Rena shakes her head and (after very quietly casting a silenced spell that checks for contaminants) sits down to eat and drink. This is the /least/ advantageous time of all times to pull such an obvious dodge, but she believes in being secure first and self-satisfied later.

She is really starting to enjoy the whole cringing shock and horror routine being played out by the guardians and Leon. She looks at Uist curiously, having seen them only the once before. She nods to Angantyr, respecting the choice even though she-- thinking about it, didn't actually CARE if it was poisoned or not. Perhaps that was why she could keep a cheerful demeanor.

What a waste of good food anyways.

Rena listens to the story as she eats and marvels at the delivery. Both from Leon and from the Emperor.

Give someone the truth, appropriately sharpened, and they will, graciously, impale themselves on it.
Maira Seriously, why does Rena owe Angantyr a drink!? And surely he wasn't actually going to drink with her!? Ugh. No, not her concern. She's not going to be ridiculous. At least, she's going to try really hard not to be. Maira looks to Angantyr though, hoping to catch his eye so she can try to communicate her misgivings with a glance and perhaps see if he shared them. She darn well knew how Perci felt about Rena. That was easy.

When Angantyr mentions Garland, Maira winces slightly. In her head, Garland says 'Kill them all for my amusement!'.

Maira turns her eyes back to Mateus, standing stiff as a statue, her eyes locked on the Emperor. Is it true? The darkness was not of Mateus' making? But there were other ways! Angantyr is proof! Maira looks to him when he is mentioned, pursing her lips. "It is /not/ the same though. Angan has control of the darkness. He has balance. When you locked away Leon's heart all balance was lost," she protests.

Then he continues, and Maira goes quiet. Uist's eyes are fixed on Mateus, memories that had been lost to him stirring. It is painful, so painful. Unintentionally, Uist pulls on Maira's life-force, making himself more solid, drawn by the agony of the memory. Oh, Aisling.

"Midgar. It merged with a place called Goug when the World of Ruin was created," Uist replies.

Maira winces as she feels Uist pulling on her, but she thinks it will be okay, for the moment. This situation however...everything is changing as Uist remembers.

Maira's eyes turn to Leon, frowning softly. Was it true? If Mateus didn't control the Dark Knight...then what was it? Could a man be two people? "There has to be a way to help him. He's not the only person with darkness in his heart, he can learn. He can strengthen his heart," she says, looking to Leon. "/I/ believe his heart is strong."

"What about what I did to him? Are you saying I can't do it again? That it won't work? ....and what about the mark you placed on him, then? I know what the heretic's mark is," she says. Well at least now Angantyr explained it to her.

This is a lot to take in. Her parentage spans worlds before they merged. "So....I was"

Uist turns to look to Maira, nodding solemnly. "You were. We fled with you--I remember. I was killed before you could know me," he replies, becoming more solid as he speaks.

Maira pales, tears rising. "'re hurting me..."

Uist steps back as if stung, realizing what he was doing. Promptly, he disappears. Maira is now reconsidering taking a seat. Too bad the chairs are all over there, right next to all that delicious looking food she shouldn't eat. The Goblin King offers you food--hmm did she read a story about something like that? That you shouldn't eat it? Or was that the Underworld? Or Faerie? Ugh!

Maira raises her hands and places them near her heart. She looks to Mateus. One more question. "....Which world?"
Angantyr Vespar Angantyr frowns...

"He is not entirely wrong." He says, annoyed to have to agree with this <GOOSEHONK>. "All hearts have darkness...something must have happened, something made you hate so deeply that you'd do anything for the power something." he shrugs, "I exception. Though my darkness is...different, I drew upon it haphazardly in my past." he shakes his head, that was in the end just a begining.

"Yes, one can learn to master one's darkness. However, using such power errodes...even the strongest hearts."

"You sealed his heart, and put a puppet in it's place...but your puppet wasn't exactly that either, he had it's own goals too...or rather, accepted your orders and chose how to interpret them, as well as follow them." he glances towards Maira, nodding. Rena is quickly becoming a calculation in how to deal with leaving, when the time comes.

Maira comes from here? It's...not something that Angantyr finds too shocking? So you come from another someone who's as well traveled...who threw himself into Garland's lair by accident... these things lost their meaning a long time ago.

"Just because he is not lying, doesn't mean he isn't saying everything either. And to be honest, I don't trust him as far as I could throw his palace."
Percival Alright, he had to admit it, he was at least sympathizing with Leon now.. Because this guy was a total <GOOSEHONK> who had completely screwed with Leon's life for what seemed to be the Shadow Lord equivalent of /Because I could/ or the /lulz/.

That didn't amuse him at all.

Everything else he just watches.. stoically. He wanted to do something when Uist manifested and started to accidentally hurt Maira, but he didn't know what to do. He wanted to comfort Maira, but he felt like it wasn't his place any longer to do that...

So he did something that would seem pretty uncharacteristic for most that knew him.

He just watched, helplessly as the events unfolded. He watched, listened, took it all in. Then grumbled and cast a glance sidelong at Rena. Yeah he wasn't happy that she was casually eating throughout all of this.
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus seems completely nonplussed, lifting a goblet to Rena who, regretfully, seems to be the only one willing to dine at the table. So suspicious, these heroes, especially the Gargoyle trying so hard to be stoic but broadcasting his helplessness like a beacon. His thoughts are wrenched back to the conversations and he immediately frowns at Leon upon the accusations. "You are wrong, Leonhart of Fynn. My sole order was for the Dark Knight to travel this world and learn of the various lands not originally of our own. 'Twas /HE/ who concocted the plan of the tests and commanded the implimentation thereof. 'Twas /HE/ who went after Maira of /HIS/ own free will. Or should I say... /YOU/."

His hands spread out to his sides, an implied shrug without his shoulder pauldrons even twitching, and nods in confirmation to Angantyr's observations and explanations. "Aye, Angantyr. The Dark Knight is neither my puppet nor even my pawn, and I use the Mark as mere passive surveillance. I locked away the heart and the memories, instilled absolute loyalty, but nothing more--the Dark Knight as you know him formed from what remained."

He really is laying out all the cards without apparent care about what they'd do with such information. Then again, it seems to be Palamecia's style--and thus Mateus' by default--to go by 'honesty is the best policy', no matter how blunt or harsh it may be. Besides, whoever expects a villain of any type, much less a Shadow Lord, to speak the truth?

Maira's insistant questions are met with a grim half-smile. "I was but an acolyte in the ways of the Shadow Lord at the time, and nothing I have found since has convinced me of another way. If I do nothing and you continue this path, Maira, in time you will be consumed by his willfully unchecked Darkness if he does not become a Heartless before then." His lavender eyes narrow at Leon incrementally. "One cannot convince a dead man to live."

He focues solely on Maira upon her final question, laden with too much weight to be innocent. Maiden of Light... Yes, perhaps even something akin to a fabled 'Princess of Heart'. There are too many similarities to /not/ be possible... and that was worrying, especially with tales on the wind of Darkness shadowing Maira's every move. He closes his eyes for a moment, weighing the possibilities, and a barely perceptible nod seems to indicate an internal confirmation. "Mine." His eyes open, his gaze somewhat weary. "The world of your birth, of which only Fynn and Palamecia itself remain."
Leon only listens now. He didn't have much to say, but he does stare at the food for a bit, then over at Maira. She was-- starting to become a blinding force again. Augh. Maira though believed in his heart-- which was not something Leon however could trust.

Not with so much-- hatred in it. That was part of the problem wasn't it? To much anger. To much pain. He wanted Mateus dead. He wanted his vengeance, cause he feared the truth. The truth that-- she--

He closes his eyes and just grunts now as he continues to listen as Uist and Maira have their talk regarding what Mateus says. Truth hurts. It hurts allot. He then opens one eye before he looks over to Mateus now.

"I-- hate to say it Maira." Leon then sighs as he looks over to her, his eyes taking on a bit more of a gold hue. "..but.. Without Rena.. and without you.. I am pretty sure I would have already been consumed." He wanted to say there was nothing in this world for him; hm. Despair was strong in him. Yet that-- wasn't true. He had Rena now-- he had friends.. but they were not..

Then Angantyr says his part. He goes over how all hearts have darkness in them and that even if you master it, it can erode your strength over time. He also talks about how something caused that darkness to come out. Hatred. Yeah. We already been over this and those golden eyes that are slowly losing their red stare right at Mateus.

Who knows. Maybe if he looses it-- he can just.. tackle Mateus and they can go down together. He can devour the 'masters' heart and then fall shortly after. Very quick, nice, but unpleasant ending. "..I suggest if we are going to get to a conclusion to all this.. we do so /soon/." Leon states with a bit of a grit teeth as he actually walks over to the table now and gets /away/ from Maira. Suddenly her Light wasn't such a good thing anymore and neither was this places leaking darkness.

Instead he at last came to just plop down in a chair and stare at the food in front of him. He would eat it. But his mind wasn't on that right now. It was on the simple fact that until he /can/ release his anger-- his rage-- his desire to crush Mateus... he would never be free. Never. Truly. Be free. Rena was right. They all were right. Now Maira was here, cause of a foolish idea. It was only another thing to add to his plate.

To late to join the fray, but enough time to give Firion a good shot at a knight. Then to late to save them. To weak to fight to protect them. To protect her. Maria. Sweet Maria. Would you ever forgive your foolish brother? Doesn't matter now-- does it? Your gone. Gone.

Then suddenly Mateus snaps Leon's attention back as he lays down the square truth. 'Or should I say... /YOU/'. Leon suddenly stands up from where he was sitting and snarls at Mateus. Those eyes glowing dangerously as his hands tighten into fists. "Now just wait a minute!" He then throws out his arm to the side. The darkness trailing behind his movements. "I would never do anything like that bastard has done! That is against my nature! It is against my beliefs! Its cold. Calculative... and cruel! He killed without care. He harmed without reason. To seek the Light. To test. Like he was doing. That isn't me! That isn't what I am capable of doing!" Or was it. Maybe-- the Dark Knight was.. him.. just that side of his humanity, like all parts of humanity, that is kept locked away so no one can see just how dark you really are.

Yet defense would call on deaf ears, because there was no reason to defend and Leon just-- sits back down, placing his hand over his face, with his elbow resting on the table. After all. Mateus says it all right there. Tug away a few memories. Lock down particular parts.. and what do you get? Leon the tactical murderer. It was-- not what he wanted to hear right now. None of this. "..I am not that monster.." he whispers to himself.

Nameless servant. Is-- perhaps what Rena would call him? Selling away his name to become a nameless being of darkness. Yet his name was sold by trickery. He wanted his life ended, not-- reformed. However all these thoughts end as his attention turns to Maira as Mateus states that she is from /this/ world. That then makes her.. his?

His gold eyes peer over at the two guardians. He knew what this could mean. Mateus after all had a reputation. This was getting into the territory of what Leon would fear it would go. There chance of escape may be coming less and less. He then lowers his hand and looks at Rena for a moment who is contently eating, before he peers at everyone once more. The gears were turning.

'One cannot convince a dead man to live.'

'...dead man...'

Maria. Firion. Guy... Tick. Tock. Time is running out. You can't bring back the dead. So what is there for you beyond revenge? Love. Maybe. Friendship. Yes. But-- that doesn't bring back the dead. Does blood for blood? Yet if you kill Mateus-- then what? You die to the darkness. Then what if-- what if they are /not/ dead. You didn't see them die. You believed so.

The thoughts continue to slowly compound on themselves as Leon's eyes slowly drift down to his hands and the very darkness starting to rise up over his shoulders.

Would sacrificing himself save Maira? People love her. Maybe in this-- he can redeem himself. Maybe... For now, he just remains quite and continues to silently contemplate over his choices. At least-- At least Maira is getting her answers. Answers to questions that had been hidden from her. That is-- that is what mattered most.
Maira Now Maira need only decide on weather or not Mateus is lying about Leon. Maira looks toward him, her eyes widening. It had been him, if Mateus was to be believed. The Dark Knight was something formed from the remainder of Leon...she doesn't understand, but the world stopped making sense a long time ago.

Maira frowns deeply. "No, you are not the monster--even if some part of you was it is not /all/ of you. There is more to deserve another chance to live. Don't give up!" she replies. She may as well be speaking to any of the men in the room save Mateus. She's heard each of them call themselves monsters. She looks to Angantyr, then to Perci, then back to Mateus.

When he answers her question she feels the rightness of it echo in the marrow of her bones--the truth resonating in her heart. Shaking, Maira sits down where she was in the throne room on the floor, just collapsing with the material of her cloak pooling around her.

She is quiet for a while, taking this all in. This world was her home...or one of them. Where she was born. Where the light in her heart called to. "So....what now? You turn me over to Maleficent? Keep me here? Keep Leon?"

Maira looks to Leon again. "Leon...tell me what you want me to do. I can try...I can keep doing what I did and hope it is enough..."
Rena Laradyne Rena snorts faintly at 'you cannot convince a dead man to live' from Emperor Mateus.

Ah. Welcome to my banquet said the spider to the flies. She swirls the drink around in her goblet and smiles into the expensive and very spiced depths as she takes another swig. "That's why the notion of a curse is so compelling, Leon. My friend-- it takes all the responsibility off your shoulders and makes it someone elses problem." she inclines her goblet in the emperor's direction. She says to Leon quietly, listening and then riposting firmly. "You wished the people of your homeland would suffer because you were suffering. You scorned their happiness. You scorned /your own/ happiness. I believe that to be.. perhaps.. just the beginnings. Not the end. Just as this-- this is an end." she smiles at him sadly. "An end in hiding. An end in desperation and denial and despair, but an end nonetheless."

Rena laughs softly and shakes her head. "..don't you all get it?" she sighs. "Our good and gracious host the emperor Mateus doesn't have to lift a finger. You could walk out this second, but you'll come back-- in the hopes that you might be able to later save Leon. Hope. Hope will bring you back here. " she waves her hand in exasperation. "This is all a shadowplay thrown in sharp relief across the walls. And he is not pulling the strings. You very well all do that yourselves."
Angantyr Vespar "I didn't come here to give up, Maira." Angantyr says, suddenly, without a slight bit of hesitation, the mace comes down infront of him, darkness exhudes from him.

"If you plan on giving up, then I'm going to DRAG you out of here by force." his eyes narrowing on The Emperor. "I have my sights on one Emperor, lets go for two." He says, very much the dramatic tone, sure. "And you!" he says to Leon, "Don't you have something to live for? You might think not, but STANDING here...well sitting now, struggling against the darkness tells me that you DO. It might be hatred right now, and if that is what it takes, then USE it. Let it be your strength until you find your answer.." He says, and then to Maira.

"So what, you were born here? Does that change who you are? What you want to do? Maybe it's the traveler in me talking, but...something tells me this only gives you a new quest."

He looks to Rena, "You scoff hope, you say it makes people manipulatable...and perhaps your right. But it also gives them a power to overcome obstacles that they'd never be able to overcome without it. Tomorrow is what people want. It's what they strive for, maybe it brings ruin, maybe not."

BGM Change:

"And you." he says, right to the Emperor, "You underestimate people. It'll be your undoing." the mace comes to his hand, "So what now?!" he calls to Leon, to Maira, to Percival, "Are you just going to give up? Are you going to accept what is given to you because it's easier. Because it's safer? Or are you going to shape your own destinies?"

"Now is the time of choice! Shape your futre, or accept the corrupted path this man gives to you."
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus just watches impassively as Leon plops down into a seat across yet far away from him. Just as well. He ignores the shouts of protest, the fragile defense of a pricked pride, and simply waits for Leon to calm down. To think. But he already knows--one who would lay down their life for the sake of family, even when it doesn't work, will always do so again.

A martyr seeking his end. That is all Leonhart has proven to be, time and time again, and so he is right now.

His attention diverts to Maira, who just takes a seat on the throne room floor in stunned understanding. Who tries to simply pass off the hard decision of what should /she/ do onto someone else. He shakes his head in disappointment and begins to open his mouth, but then Angantyr steps in and delivers a blazing and quite frankly inspiring speech to them all.

The Emperor actually looks downright, absolutely taken back. Completely surprised is such an understatement given the situation.

Then, suddenly, a brilliant smile lightens his face. Not the mocking kind he is more predisposed towards, but... a true, genuine smile. That humanity he has not yet relinquished--Matthew, the royal entertainer. "Angantyr Vespar." He puts down his goblet and rises from his chair like a coeurl uncurling from its chosen perch. "How right you are. How so very right you are."

He walks off to the side, folding his hands together at the small of his back, moving to full view of everyone. "I have not made, nor shall I make, any demands of any of you. All of you came here by /your/ own choice, and I will say again--if you wish to leave," he motions to the door from whence they came for emphasis, "you may do so with no fear of future retribution. If you wish to stay, I shall neither force your hand nor twist your arm."

He sighs almost long-sufferingly but not condescendingly. "To be frank, if I had my way, I would keep Maira here to protect her--to SAVE what little of my world there is left from those who would see it gone--from the likes of Maleficent, Garland, ExDeath, and countless others. I protect what is mine, from my people to my land, and all of you have seen this for yourselves. But I WILL NOT force such a choice upon her."

He spreads his arms wide. "I have given my information freely, no strings attached, but that is where my part ends in this discussion. YOU must decide what to do with it. YOU must be the ones to look deep within yourselves--yes, to your very heart--and CHOOSE." His mouth presses into a thin line as his keen gaze drills into each person in turn, boring into their very heart and soul. "A path in life means nothing unless it is your own."
Leon \
Leon glances over to Maira. She was asking him what to do now and he didn't have the slightest clue. His eyes drift over to her guardians. This was--- their call. Not his. All he could say was simply a sad one. "..Follow your heart.."

Then Rena's words cut in and they cut like a sharp sword. Piercing him right through. It causes his eyes to shut tightly. His teeth to grit and just slump from where he sits. He did care about her and what she stated, so true, was-- a deep cut right through him.

Rena herself may have just become Mateus' ultimate weapon against Leon. Weather she realizes this or not. Her honesty was.. not really what Leon wanted to hear. Though Angantyr's words were one to expire too.

They were brave. Heroic. Honorable. Probably not something the man honestly cares to be and if Leon felt he had a path to follow, they would be something of great hope and strength, but instead. They mean nothing to him right now.


'You took theirs! NOW TAKE MINE!'

"..but my heart is not ready.." He says softly, and then stands up. His eyes seem to just be glassed over. Almost like no one was there any more. "..Not ready to accept these facts or to face the reality of where my life is." He then starts to walk away from the group towards Mateus.

"I was honored to meet you all. To give me something to hold onto.. but.. my life.. my life lies in the darkness with those gone. Because what is the point of living with anger.. when that is all life has become. Anger. That-- isn't living."

He comes to a stop a few more steps away from Mateus, he stares at him, those eyes narrow and some spark does come back in those eyes. "..and I will, however, never forgive you for what you done, but I know my blade can't return back the dead. I can't undo time by killing you. So you win, Mateus. You win." He then lowers his head, before he turns to face Maira once more, his eyes look over to Rena with that painful look, till they go back to Maira once again. He stares at her with hopelessness in his eyes. "Maybe some day," He then looks at Ang. "..I can look at this world with the strength you have, but I can't. Not now. Not until.." He doesn't even finish those words, but only turns away.

This choice may be even created by Mateus own words. Either way. It seems that Leon wasn't ready to face the world yet. He wasn't ready to come out and be the hero he could become. To be the man he once was. The one who 'fathered' nearly his own sister and his friends-- friends he adopted in as family. He wasn't for that responsibility again with a new world. He wasn't ready to put those skills at work again.

He just-- wasn't. Maybe one day.. one day when he could look himself in the face and tell himself to stand up straight. To face the world and his charges. Just-- not now. Not now.
Maira Maira looks toward Rena, frowning deeply. She wants to scream for the woman to just /shut up/. "I may not be as smart as you but that does not give you a reason to talk down to me. To any of us. So stop it."

Maira gets to her feet again, her eyes turning toward Angantyr. "Angan, I still don't know what that means but I am /not/ giving up," she says. Wait, he has his sights on an Emperor? What? Angan, what trouble are you getting into now!

Maira still has so many questions. Angantyr has summoned his weapon though, and that means he is ready to fight. He doesn't trust Mateus. Mateus is a Shadow Lord, of course he can't be trusted...right? But does he want to see his world fall? Does he want to gain favor with Maleficent? Could he protect them from Garland?

And so, that is exactly what he offers.

The offer is tempting. Maira thinks of all the people she cares about who have been hurt because they were protecting her. People who would die. Gods damn Souji Murasame, his words haunt her still.

Mateus would keep her safe. A bird in a cage, the Dark Knight her guardian.

"No..." she says as Leon walks toward Mateus, tears rising. "NO! Leon! NO! You don't have to do this!" she yells. She'd asked him what he wanted...and what he wanted was to put his pain back into oblivion.

Maira clenches her fists, glaring toward Mateus, glaring toward Rena. "You have not won. That you want to protect your world is admirable, but it isn't love that motivates you, is it? It's power! You don't want the world to fall because you want to possess it!, I'm leaving."

"Leon....Leon come with me, PLEASE!" she begs.
Rena Laradyne Rena smiles around the rim of her goblet, raising a silent toast to Mateus as Leon goes over to join him. She then looks over at Angantyr and raises the goblet again to him. "Well said." she says, and there is a moment of sadness in her voice before it is cleared away. She looks over at Leon for a long time, staring at the glassy eyed stare before finally looking away.

"Well then. No funeral dirge. No rousing call to action. This is a happy time. Friends gathered together and being supportive of eachother, even in desolation. " She laughs quietly and gives Maira a sympathetic smile.

"I am treating you as an adult, my dear. You knew where this was going, but you tucked in your heels and drug in because fairytales told you that everything would be alright. You still flail and thrash, the princess coddled by innumerable guardians who keep the world at bay for you. Well wake up, Maiden of Light. You could have thrown this tantrum at any time, but you wanted answers.

And you were willing to escort Leon to his doom for them. So do not presume to tell me that I am talking down to you. It's not true. I respect your choices. I just never agreed with them. We have all made our choices here, so let us raise a toast to those choices. May you live easily with the consequences." she then drains the goblet and pours herself another.
Angantyr Vespar Angantyr shakes his head..

"Your choice." he says, "You...choose your own path. Your path being slavery." He says, and stands next to Maira. If Maira chooses to leave, then he'll make sure she leaves. He eyes the people infront of him. He shrugs towards the Emperor, "You say that." he says, not trusting him a single bit.

Then he looks at Rena. "Damn." he says, like...just staring at her.

"I can't <GOOSEHONK>ing compete with that."
Maira Maira rounds on Rena, her eyes blazing. "<GOOSEHONK> ing shut up Rena. I came because Leon asked me to, because he would have gone without me otherwise and you bloody know it. Yes I wanted answers, and /forgive me/ if my choices are not up to your high and mighty expectations. Forgive me for wanting a bit of TIME to think through decisions that will influence I don't even know how many people because the WORLD decided to put a world shard in my heart or whatever this all means!"

Maira begins walking toward Rena now, her magic igniting around her. "I'm awake Rena, and those who came to protect me--I didn't ask them to but I value their opinion because that is what /friends/ do. Friends do not sit back and LAUGH as someone they supposedly care about has a moment of weakness, like WE ALL do!"
Rena Laradyne Rena shakes her head and raises her hands. "Apologies, Maira. I did not mean to besmirch your tender feelings or assail the high walls of your delusions. Perhaps this is a conversation for another day however, as a fireworks show after a nice dinner would be a little much." she gestures to a seat at the table.

"Come and sit with me and explain what being a friend means to you. Perhaps we are having a simple miscommunciation, for which, if that is the case, I will apologize." she looks at Leon.

"Listen to your princess, Leon. Leave this place, if you can. You gave your name to this sorceror by accident once. If you truely hate being in his service so terribly, then do not give it to him a second time willingly. Better a willing soldier and general than an unwilling thrall."
Emperor Mateus With their backs to the wall, with all the facts laid out to bare and with nobody to turn to but themselves, everything becomes crystal clear. People /do/ look deep into their hearts and respond exactly as he suspected.

But there is no gloating, not even a shred of satisfaction from the Emperor of Palamecia. Perhaps... for even just one of them, he was honestly hoping otherwise. Strength of heart for some, weak of will for others. But he will honor his words--their choices are their own, and he will not keep them here if it is not their choice to stay.

He simply inclines his head to Leon in acknowledgement. "As you wish, but you can still choose otherwise if you have even the most lingering of doubts."

Mateus turns his gaze to Maira as she rages at himself and Rena. "Love... power... is there a difference? The point is simple: I care enough about my home world to make sure nothing else happens to it, Maira, whatever my personal motivation may happen to be. Why does the point that I'm a Shadow Lord seem to change the context or even matter?"

He watches the spat between Maira and Rena, his chin lifting defiantly, that royal air now in full view when he has been playing nice up to this point. "Enough of this!" His voice somehow thunders in the great hall. Magically amplified? Or just that loud when he wants to be? "Emotional debates solve nothing. If it is your choice, it is your path, and nothing anyone says or does should affect that."

His expression becomes... something else. Wounded, betrayed? Sad, even? Impossible to tell, as it's a whole roil of emotion, one bleeding into the next. "But perhaps..." His voice trails off and he seems to think better of continuing. "No, it does not matter."

He returns to the other side of the table, but pauses to focus solely on Angantyr. "Former Acolyte of Garland, Angantyr Vespar... it seems clear to me that if Maira leaves here, you will protect her with your life if need be. Such is the path you have chosen, and I truly do respect your convictions. But know this: if you cannot protect her any longer," his voice hardens to all dead seriousness, "then I shall."
Leon stares at Maira as she begs for him to not make his choice. Yet he has, he then goes to step toward her, but he stops. He just looks at her. All he can see of her is her light. Her whole form drenched by the brightness of her light. "Maira." He says softly. "If you find her. Protect her and feel free to browse what I gave you at leisure."

The Rena goes and does her thing. It was always hard to argue with Rena. She was pretty much the Ice Queen of Damn Straight. You couldn't get around here, even mister mace wielding dark knight kinda admits this.

Yet Maira suddenly goes off and she lights up the room with her magic, in her own temper. Leon has to cringe a little at the sudden /brightness/ of it all. He almost steps back.

Then Rena counter-objects and Leon snorts softly in her direction. "Like that matters. My heart will be locked again, memories stored away, and once more my body does what it does, the essence of what is needed does what it needs to do, and I become a great weapon for use. If anything-- probably even more sharpened then I was the first time."

"Maybe even it.. I.. may learn some compassion." Doubtful really, but it was a nice touching add on.

Mateus then tells Leon he can change his mind and the former Dark Knight almost has the ignition to jump over to where Mateus was moving himself and punch the living crap out of him. But again, it was anger. It was always anger. Anger just-- wasn't something he wanted to live on.

Leon however closed his eyes before he suddenly grit his teeth. Then suddenly went down on one knee about this point. "..Maira.. make your choice now.." Leon says through grit teeth. The darkness is covering his form suddenly. His hands clawing at the ground, as he lowers his head. "..because... I don't.. want to hurt you.." He says suddenly as he seems to refuse to look up at her.

Remember that tick tock? Well the clock just stopped ticking.
Maira Maira shakes her head at Rena. "You're not even able to talk to people as people, are you? Even your apologies are condescending with thinly failed insults," she replies, then turns from her back to Mateus and Leon.

She doesn't care what Mateus thinks of her. If she is playing into his expectations, fine. Let him have his victory. She isn't going to rebel just to surprise him. Rebellion for the sake of rebellion is pointless.

"Yes Emperor, there is a difference. The fact that you are a Shadow Lord tells me that you are willing to play with the lives of people--to destroy because you can. You believe that Might makes Right, is that the saying? You DESTROYED this man's life!" she says, pointing to Leon. "You stand there and tell him he has a choice, but you've been arranging the pieces for so long, so well, that he never knew what was happening! Your choice is an illusion!" she continues, blazing with fury.

Maira looks to Leon as he kneels before her, her heart breaking for him. She reaches toward the pocket of her cloak where the journal rests. Find her. Keep her safe.


"I will Leon. I will do what I have to do to prove to you that your life is still worth living--freely," she says. She can see the pain in him. He's on the edge. He'll revert back and then, who knows?

"I'm leaving. But I will be back for him," she says, indicating Leon. Then Maira turns and starts walking toward the exit door, not looking at anyone. Here they are. All that, and Leon would be the Dark Knight again. It is temporary. She will get him back.
Rena Laradyne Rena claps very, very slowly. (Acheivement: Slow Clap)

and then she goes back to eating and drinking. She takes a handful of grapes from the table, pulling each one of them off at a time and looking in Leon's direction with a measure of quiet thoughtfulness.

And at last..

She is the one who stayed until the end. That is good enough for her, no matter what anyone says. "My apologies, emperor Mateus. It seems the theatre troupe has picked up stakes and left. But they will be back..." she sighs. "I have no doubts of that."
Maira Suddenly, the air around Rena goes cold as the grave. Uist appears, towering above her, almost as tall as Angantyr. He manifests just enough to reach out and bitch smack Rena hard across the face, then disappears.

Maira doesn't turn around, just keeps walking.
Angantyr Vespar Angantyr watches Maira walk off.

He pauses for a moment, looking to Rena.

"Oh about that drink. I don't drink with <GOOSEHONK>s. Later." he says, and turns around.
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus does not react, not seemingly terribly surprised, as Uist appears just long enough to take a slap at Rena. Probably also steal some dinner rolls. He always seemed to be on the verge of a doting father, before unfortunate turns of events determined a different fate.

"A pity," he murmurs to himself as Maira, Angantyr, and the silent Gargoyle take their leave. "But I mean what I say. If she cannot be protected, if she cannot protect herself from harm... then it will matter little her choice if she has no will to see it through... or if my realm is affected."

He shakes his head, disappointment clear, then turns his gaze back to Leon. "Very well then." His staff appears in his hand as the doors close behind the leaving group. They would find themselves completely free with none to bar their path or even give them a second glance as they depart. "Let us begin."
Maira and them have left, beyond Rena who seems to be enjoying the food. So when Mateus moves up to Leon. All the former Dark Knight can do is barely look up at him. He stares at that staff and then back at the ground.

"Get it over with.. we already know this song and dance.. and I already know your going to lock this part of me away.." Leon then closes his eyes. " lets do this.. your majesty.." he almost sneers out the majesty part.
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus frowns. No, /this/ is nothing to gloat over, no matter what anyone believes to the contrary. Not over this wreck of a young man. And he could have been so much... more.

"Such a pity..." He murmurs again before lifting the arm holding his staff, a purplish magical circle appearing beneath his feet and under Leon's. His eyes darken to a blacklight-like purple, softly chanting words only he understands, and he brings the staff down.

This scene contained 52 poses. The players who were present were: Maira, Angantyr Vespar, Rena-sub, Percival, Rena Laradyne, Emperor Mateus, Leon