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No title.
(2013-10-26 - Now)
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Maira Horses had been sent with them, along with an escort of knights. Neither of them would be used to traveling this way. "May seem kind of crazy to you...but we did say we'd do this, didn't we? I wanted you to talk to him. See what you think," she says to Avira, smiling softly to her. Maira looks about ready to fall off her horse. She's exhausted. She tires very easily as of late, which was to be expected.

When the reach the castle, they are let right in, since they had been expected. Maira really, really hopes being here would help her recover. She also hoped Mateus might be able to answers her questions about her magic. If anyone would know, a powerful sorcerer would, right?

Maira also hoped to see Leon. She hadn't given up on him, nor would she. She was going to find a way to bring him back. Until then, she just wants to know that he's...alright. As alright as he could be, anyway.
Avira Avira's /definitely/ not used to traveling this way. For one, she's riding a horse. Normally she rides a giant beetle. Horses feel a bit more disagreeable than that-at least until Avira starts using The Voice on the animal beneath her.

Now when Maira said they'd be visiting home, she did not think that visiting The Emperor was part of the deal which immediately made Avira uncomfortable. "You said we'd visit but...not talk to him."

Well at least Avira's still armed. The Water Crystal, though, is certainly /not/ with her right now. In fact, it's probably with Angantyr and good luck stealing it from HIM.
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus, and Palamecia by proxy, has been noticeably absent from many of the recent events plaguing this world and many others. It is well known that the Emperor has his reasons for everything he says or does, and that he rarely explains what those reasons actually are.

In this circumstance, it is easy. Maira asked for an audience, and Mateus was more than willing to give her his time. And an escort into Palamecia, for that matter.

When the two young women enter the throne-room, they might feel something waft over them like a magical breeze as they pass through the doors. Nothing /bad/, just a little different--or a bit off. There are no obvious signs of anything different from any other time they've been here, except for the fact that it is abnormally silent. No ambient noise from the windows or doors, no guards at the entryways--just them and the robed figure sitting on his throne.

Emperor Mateus rises, a warm smile gracing his features. "Lady Maira and Lady Avira. It is a great pleasure to meet you again." He descends down the stairs from his throne at a refined but somewhat quick clip. "To what do I owe the honor?"
Maira Well, there was little use in coming and not seeing him, he'd know anyway. Besides, she really does value Avira's opinion. She hopes she can help her make sense of the puzzle that is Mateus.

Maira curtsies when she sees the Emperor, her eyes glancing around them, perturbed by the silence. No parties this time. Nor even any guards. Not that Mateus needed them, but she thought he would keep them for appearances. "Emperor," she greets, trying to find the words to begin. "I...wanted to see if I could...perhaps stay for a little while." May as well get right to the point. Being as senstive to magic as he was, he may well sense that Maira is curiously empty of hers. The spark of it still remains in her, but she is like a battery that has been drained. Something very wrong was done to her. "I need somewhere to rest...and I hoped--well I hoped that you might be able to help me."

Maira looks to Avira. "I'm...worried, that maybe it won't come back," she explains. Avira would know what she was talking about.

Back to Mateus, Maira frowns gently. "Is something...wrong here? Its...really quiet."
Avira "Emperor." Avira greets, though she does not bow or curtsey. She'll speak respectively, but he was not /her/ emperor, so the decorum ended there. It's clear to see that the huntress is on edge for to her it feels like she just walked in to the lion's den. What if Leon was lurking around a corner, waiting to put a sword through her stomach?

There was nobody else around either and that stirred a sort of primal worry embedded deep within the huntress. -wait, stay for a little while? With this guy?

But Avira knows indeed. She knows very intimately what is currenly eating at Maira. "Yes, where is everybody?" Avira says slowly.
Emperor Mateus It is abundantly clear that a request for asylum, no matter how temporary, was not quite what the Emperor himself was expecting. An eyebrow rises, his stance straightens before arcing to the side slightly, and his mouth flattens to a slightly downturned line.

"I would be glad to." The surprise doesn't cheapen the honesty in his words, and he clearly means it. "I will have a room prepared immediately. I trust you will wish to stay with her, Lady Avira?"

He noticeably pauses as both Maira and Avira ask why it's so quiet, and he casts a look around that seems rather... worried. In fact, his gaze doesn't seem to stop checking their surroundings, only occassionally looking directly at Maira and even rarer still meeting Avira's gaze. "I have taken... precautions. One can never be too careful lately, especially given our individual circumstances."

A close look around would notice the absolute absence of shadows anywhere--even under their own feet, Mateus included. Is this part of that wafting air at the doorway?

He focuses solely on Maira with a clear look of concern and perhaps growing aggrivation. "What has happened to you, Maira? Your light..."
Maira Maira exhales slowly, looking around once more. A vague explaination, but a worrying one. If Mateus fears something? That is most certainly something to worry about. "Our circumstances? I know what my circumstance is...but what about you? The last I was here you were having a party," she replies.

Something is strange here, that she knows, but she doesn't yet pick out about the shadows.

At the question, Maira looks down. "I was taken by a Shadow Lord named Rakassa. I was taken to Vector. I was..." she pauses, her hands shaking as she anxiously smooths the fabric of her dress. "I was drained. They...they put me in a tube, hooked me up to all these machines...then they took my magic and they gave it to another," she explains, hands curling into a fists as she grasps the violet silk. "I still feel it, but I can hardly get a spark--I'm so tired. I hoped you might be able to tell me...if it would get better. I hoped being here, it would help," she confesses.

It is only then, looking down at the floor again, that she realizes she doesn't have a shadow. Maira blinks several times, perplexed and unnerved. "Why...are there no shadows?" she asks, looking back up to Mateus with wide eyes.
Avira "I will." Avira says awkwardly but immediately to Mateus's question. She's clearly rather worried about staying here-again, lion's den. Mateus's reaction brings a frown to her. "...precautions against what? Surely nobody can threaten your kingdom, with the power you weild."

That is strange. It takes her a moment but Avira does notice the lack of shadows in this place. She doesn't comment on this, drawing her arms up to fold them over her stomach. When Mateus asks for an explanation about Maira's weakened light, Avira falls silent, letting her best friend explain it.

"I'm of the opinion that it will come back slowly. Like with a lot of rest, it'll grow back eventually." It might take a while. Like Avira's own light. "Her being somewhere safe would help."
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus smiles wearily, not quite unkindly, and opens his arms wide as if to indicate the whole room--and quite possibly the entire kingdom. "My dears, just take a moment to think. Maleficent and Garland expect all Shadow Lords to capture Princesses. If it is discovered that not only have two Princesses simply walked into my hall, but that I am willingly /protecting/ them..." He lets his voice trail off, not feeling the need to explain further.

He carelessly waves a hand around them. "We are in a barrier, slightly displaced from the true throne room. There are no shadows because I cannot take the chance of /someone/ taking advantage and overhearing our conversation. I have the Dark Knight ensuring that your trip here has not been noticed at all--much less the wrong sort of attention."

At Maira's explaination, Mateus' expression darkens more and more into pure fury, his violet eyes glowing in purple unlight. "Is. That. So." Oh, he does /not/ sound happy at all. "So that is why..." He rubs his forehead, emitting a long sigh. "...I see. You are very lucky, Maira. That Shadow Lord could have extracted your heart entirely, and all I have left of my world could have been lost with you."

He narrows his eyes briefly in consideration, then emits a very long sigh as his fury fades in very slow increments. At least his eyes have stopped glowing. "Yes, Lady Avira is correct. Plenty of rest and not attempting to force the matter is the best way to recover what you have lost."
Maira Maira listens with rapt attention. "So there is sort of a structure of power," she replies. Oh, great, more than just Garland and Maleficent are working together. GREAT! FABULOUS! As if that wasn't bad enough! Already it seemed impossible to beat them!

Maira moves toward a chair, taking a seat before he knees give out from under her. She looks to Avira though, her thoughts plain; 'Do you see?' she seems to say. Not that she thinks they should absolutely trust him, but it should show at the very least that not all Shadow Lord's have the same agenda. That seems like an awfully important thing to know.

The power of his fury sends a shiver down her spine. She doesn't hold any illusions that its her he cares about. That is just fine. For now. "I was foolish. A friend was hurt, I tried to get to her and got lost. For all I know...maybe it was Rakassa who brought up that forest. I don't know what they are really capable of--either way, I will not travel alone again," she responds, her voice iron strong. She means it. Admitting that she is too weak against such odds...well, she has to be done with shame over that. Maybe knowing your weakness can become a strength.

At his answer about her magic, she sighs heavily with relief, nodding. "I hoped so. I'll stay then, for a time. Rakassa has something that belongs to me--and the girl they gave my magic too. I want to find her. The process has probably...driven her mad. I need to find her and at least offer her another path besides being a slave to Rakassa--to using /my/ magic to do terrible things."

Another deep breathe is taken and let out slowly. "Thank you, Emperor. I know you have your own reasons for protecting me...but thank you none the less."

Maira looks back to Avira then, reaching her hand toward her, smiling. She's glad her best friend is with her.
Avira Avira lifts an eyebrow. "Is that a new initiative of theirs?" She had to wonder about Garland though. She didn't want to think how easily he could retrieve her if he wanted-well, if she was alone at least. She can't be alone these days. "Interesting." She catches that look of Maira and she eyes her back reluctantly. It's not easy for Avira to trust the all powerful EMPEROR.

On one hand it was welcomed. Avira and Maira had both gotten in a lot of trouble lately. At the same time, to have this protection turn into a cage...

Mateus gets angry and Avira takes a startled step backwards. "..your eyes can be so cruel~" she murmurs to herself as a injoke Maira might get. She did watch the Labyrinth after all.

A sigh of relief escapes her as Mateus confirms that Maira's magic would return with time and rest. "Good. So it will come back."

Avira reaches out and takes Maira's hand. She remains standing for now as she moves to take up position behind Maira's chair.
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus allows his mouth to quirk, just barely overhearing Avira's murmurs. "Just as I can be so cruel~," he croons back, matching Jareth's voice perfectly. Yes, he's seen Labyrinth as well and finds the similarities downright /remarkable/.

He nods slowly, seeming to be mulling over this new information and perhaps plotting retaliation of his own. "You do need to take better care of yourself, lass. 'Tis not the first time you have given me a scare. But you have survived, and you have learned--and you seem to have a plan for the future. I shan't lecture you further."

He claps his hands together, his arms straight and parallel to the ground, as all semblances of darkness disappear from his expression. "So then! My castle shall be your temporary home, a reprieve from the storms of the worlds beyond. I humbly request you do not leave until you are ready, but--as always--I shan't keep either of you here against your will."

He closes his eyes, then grows quite serious. "Should your presence be found out by the wrong sort before the proper time, I only have one request of you." He lowers his hands to his sides. "Run. Flee as far away and as fast as you are possibly able. Do not stay to fight, do not try to help. I can always rebuild my kingdom, but all will be for naught if Maira's heart is truly endangered."

He smiles warmly, an attempt to dispel the seriousness of the moment. "I take it we are agreed?"
Maira When Maira hears Avira's words, and her reference, she brings a hand up to try to cover her laugh. Oh goodness! Oh, but she'd needed a giggle. To make it all better (or worse?) Mateus gets the reference as well. He's a worldly sort, after all! As Matthew, he sees the world. Maira can't help but look amused.

At least until the things turn serious once more. She nods to Mateus in agreement. "I will not go unless I am with someone who can help keep me safe," she replies, glancing to Avira. Maira thinks they both know now that there are certain sacrifices they simply have to make.

Staying in a castle for a while, oh how horrible, right?

At the last bit, Maira chews her lip thoughtfully. This is more to ask, though she understands why he says it. After a moment of consideration, she nods. "Agreed. I understand. If that happens, I will get out as quickly as possible."

Maira then looks to Avira, to see what she will say. Oh, the others will think they're crazy. Probably.
Avira Uh oh.

Avira's face turns bright red and suddenly she has a whole lot of trouble making eye contact with Mateus.

Inwardly, she's relieved though. They could leave when they needed to which was extremely important to Avira. She couldn't stay tied to one place and eventually she would have to attend to her other duties on the outside. Figuring out what to do with that crystal. Continuing the gummi ship research. Helping people. Dating Mercade. Important stuff. "I'll be there with you, Maira. I'll keep you safe."

Avira's hands move so she can rest them atop of Maira's shoulders. "We understand." Running comes with the territory! "Hopefully it won't come to that." She looks down at Maira.

"It's a vacation." she shrugs, "We both need it with all that's happened, frankly."
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus chuckles softly. Rest easy, Avira, he's not offended at all. "Very well."

He folds one hand behind his back and snaps the fingers of his opposite hand. Immediately, there is a feeling of a magical breeze and the slight sound of... small bells ringing? Broken glass tinkling? Their surroundings suddenly sharpen with depth as shadows bloom in their proper places, though still barren of any other people. At least the usual ambient sounds of an occupied castle and nature outside have returned.

A sharp glance around seems to satisfy the Emperor, who still seems a little leery and cautious. "I will arrange for a room or two to be prepared immediately." He folds both hands behind his back, seeming to be relaxed in stance even if a worried look remains in his eyes. "If you have need of something, feel free to ask."
The barrier starts to fall and soon the figure of the Dark Knight can be seen moving as the magic comes down to reveal the true room. The image of him is hard to make out, beyond the very dark waves that move around his figure as the darkness mist itself. The tendrils of darkness that follow with each measured perfect step.

"Your Majesty," The Dark Knight does not meet Mateus with his red gaze, he does however drop to one knee, with the cap moving slightly around him with this pauldrons active. "There is no sign that they have been followed, but the magic sensors were placed down as requested." The voice was still as cold as ever and still ever as calculative on his speaking. The lack of emotion and the air of sheer calmness.

He waits a moment before slowly rising up once more. His red gaze then slowly moves over to look at Maira. He actually seems to narrow his eyes as he tilts his head slightly. As if having trouble seeing her or perhaps, even recognizing her. Then his gaze moves over to Avira slowly. No more words are spoken however as he returns to look straight ahead, yet keeping his gaze low.
Maira Maira reaches back to take Avira's hand. "I'll protect /you/ too," she replies, very nearly sticking out her tongue plaufully. "A vacation," she agrees with a small laugh. Sure, they could think about it that way. Maira needed to rest, get her power back. Then, she could continue to fight and protect her friends--and the world, apparently.

Maira looks back to Mateus, cracking a smile. "Thank you," she says again. When he dismisses the spell he'd cast, she looks around to watch the shadows return, the ambiet noise of life so loud after that uncanny silence.

Then, there is Leon. Maira looks toward him, swallowing hard as her heart rises into her throat. Oh, Leon. The Dark Knight again. Its the first time she'd really seen him, since last time. Seemed a long time ago, but it wasn't. Not really. "Leon..." she breathes, remembering the man that had been her friend for that time he was himself. She is still determined to get him back. Maybe some time here would help.

Or, he could try to eat her heart again.

Its kind of a gamble, honestly.
Avira Avira didn't turn red due to offense. She's actually kind of flustered. Blushing, in fact. Such was the power of the Goblin King.

The reality of the room returning brings a bit of comfort to Avira because she had partially worried that they'd spend their time here in a silent void without shadows. Then again such a strong spell from the Emperor no doubt would cause suspicion. Just what was he hiding then, hmm?

"Well..." she thinks. What would Avira want? Her thoughts are interrupted as the hairs on the back of her neck stand. Looking over her shoulder, she sees the Dark Knight approaching. He seemed no different from when he had been converted back into that demonic countenance. No sign of Leon at all. Avira meets those red eyes evenly. She's not afraid.

If he tried to eat Maira's heart, he'd clearly have an Avira standing in the way.
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus nods to the Dark Knight, relief relaxing his expression and stance. "Excellent news. Ensure that the Knights maintain direct guardianship of our guests for the duration of their stay. I will prefer that the Officers remain on seperate duties for the time being."

He does not elaborate further, instead tilting his head slightly as if mentally running through a checklist. "Mmmm. I shouldn't keep either of you any longer, unless there are any other matters at hand?"
"Yes, Your majesty. I will make sure it is so." The Dark Knight states. He does not peer further at Maira or Avira. He doesn't even acknowledge the 'Leon' from Maira. "Will that be all, you Majesty?"
Maira Maira looks away from the Dark Knight and back to Avira, squeezing her hand gently. "I am very tired...I think I should start getting that rest we talked about," she says, looking back to Mateus. He really is a puzzle. She has no idea what to make of him.

Leon doesn't so much as acknowledge her. She doesn't look to him again. Now isn't the time. She isn't lying when she says she's exhausted. She'll likely be asleep before she even sets her head down. Maira stands, still holding Avira's hand, and waits for someone to lead the way.
Avira "No, no other matters." Avira says, sounding somewhat distant. "Not yet at least. Let's go." A shield again, but what else is new? Avira was ready.
Emperor Mateus Emperor Mateus nods to the Dark Knight. "Aye. You are dismissed, Dark Knight."

To Avira and Maira, he hums softly in understanding. "As you wish, mi'ladies." He bows to them, one hand still behind his back with the other folded over his stomach, as a servant appears at the doorway to lead them to their rooms. "May you rest well, then."

This scene contained 23 poses. The players who were present were: Avira, Maira, Emperor Mateus, Leon