♕ The Reign ~ [The Roleplay Thread] ♕

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DyliehIdol1214's picture
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Ashton Bál

Ashton shrugged at the slobbery hand, giving another smile, taking a few steps towards the exit before turning back to the merchant.

 

"Need any more help, or you think you're all good?" Ashton mused, watching as the saddle was giving to Malik.

 

((The posts just keep getting smaller and smaller... >.>))

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Jaida

A horseriding competition, really? Jaida thought, feeling disappointed as she thought over the events of the past evening. She had been very fond of the late queen, and was determined to ensure that whoever would claim her crown was someone worthy of it. She did not feel that seeing who rode a horse best was the best way to go about determining that.

Which didn’t mean she should refrain from influencing this first test, she thought, eyes sliding idly over the strings of herbs hanging from her ceiling. An additive slipped into their feed could turn the most well-trained horse into an uncontrollable menace, after all. And judging by last night’s announcements, it seemed that foul play would become the standard in this competition. Terri’s death wasn’t her doing, but she could not say she was surprised by it. She had caught hints pointing to his demise in the days leading up to it and had let it play out, not believing him to be a suitable king. Ishmael’s disappearance surprised her more, but she wasn’t inclined to spare it much thought, as it saved her the effort of removing him from the competition herself. She didn’t like her fellow Wispweaver much, and the feeling had been mutual.

But maybe she shouldn’t interfere, yet. There were many more tests still to come, after all. Perhaps she should lay low during this one and instead spend her time getting to know the candidates, to see who was most deserving of her…meddling. There was more to at least some of them than met the eye.

Her thoughts went over the candidates as she’d observed them, watching invisibly from the gallery that ran around the banquet room. Trying to scope out who actually had an idea of what they’d gotten themselves into, before swinging over the railing and landing quietly in an area devoid of people. Outside, she could move around with less care, but a stray gust of wind in a closed-off room might arouse suspicion.

Very slowly, she had manoeuvred her way through the throngs of people, listening in here and there as waters were tested and tentative alliances were formed. One of them, between a circus ringleader, a seafaring merchant, a librarian and a highborn girl had stood out to her. Jaida had listened long enough to overhear their plans in the bigtop before moving on to others, ranking them and their chances of success internally.

Jaida had missed the altercation between Arcana, Ashton and Denva, but she did notice Arcana being escorted – or rather, carried – out of the hall by her companion. She had been tempted to follow, the ringleader intrigued her, but had decided not to. There would be plenty of time later to figure out Arcana, while this may be one of few times all the candidates were in one place, not to mention actively presenting themselves. She stayed, watching and listening. And when the evening came to an end, she had retreated with everyone else.

But now, the next morning, Jaida planned to go out and observe some of the candidates in their natural habitat, so to speak. And she knew just where to start.

Out of longstanding habit, she checked that her lair was devoid of people, before turning to air and vaulting out the window, getting tossed around for a few seconds before reaching the ground and heading for the circus grounds, trying to stay out of the wind as much as possible.

__________________

 

 

My signature guardian Splash, by the amazingly patient Sohki

 

About me:

Name: Moonfyre. Moon's good too

Age: Old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway

Gender: I'm a she

Where: Nine hours ahead of forum time

 

I don't play SoD anymore, I'm mostly here for chatting and roleplaying.

 

 

A perpetual work in progress, it seems...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or...not?

 

Didn't there use to be art here?

Yeah, but it was accumulating too much and I didn't want to pick favourites, so I just threw it all out. Still have it saved, don't worry, and I very much appreciate all of it :)

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Denva Beaumont

"He's a beautiful animal. I can see why she chose him. Lemonice here sort of chose me when I went to my Ashreaper cousins to get my horse. Believe it or not, she snatched my hat that I was wearing at the time right off my head and ran off with it, the little thief. She also has a swet tooth and likes to sneak carrots when she thinks nobody's watchiing the bucket." Denva admitted to Alpha, giving her hores a loving pat as she watched Arcana practice. 

"Think she could use a break?" She wondered aloud, Lemonice nickering in agreement as the Shire, Titan Alpha said his name was, trotted past. Even Burraku didn't get that big when he shifted to his true form to protect her. She wanted to get in some practice herself and show Arcana what she could do in terms of dressage. She looked up as the winged girl, Angel, stopped singing. She really did have an amazing voice. She wondered why she had never heard Angel sing before in the show since she joined the circus. 

Probably worried about what people will either think of her appearance or voice. But she's got nothing to worry about with her voice, she sounds amazing. If I get the chance, I'll tell her myself. She looks like she could use some encouragement. Denva thougth to herself as she leaned against Lemon's side to watch Arcana vault her borrowed Shire. 

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"He's a beautiful animal. I can see why she chose him. Lemonice here sort of chose me when I went to my Ashreaper cousins to get my horse. Believe it or not, she snatched my hat that I was wearing at the time right off my head and ran off with it, the little thief. She also has a swet tooth and likes to sneak carrots when she thinks nobody's watchiing the bucket." Denva rambled on, much to Alpha's disdain. He merely smiled and nodded along as she spoke, shoving his hands into his pockets.

"Think she could use a break?" Denva asked.

"probably." Alpha scoffed. "But try telling her that. It is best not to disturb her at this moment. Besides. We are waiting for your friends to get here. They appear to be running late. Arcana will probably go extra ha.rd on them for that one." He smirked slightly, turning his sly grin towards Denva. "You'd, little lady, will probably be her star student."

 

Arcana rolled out of the split, her toes briefly touching the dirt before she grabbed a hold of the handles and immediately spran up again in an almost-backflip motion. Another triick she performed often on lyra. It was referred to as a "pull over". Her pelvis and front thighs came into contact with the saddle first as she pushed herself up into a cobra position. She used the rocking momentum of the horse's hoofbeats to bring herself to her feet, standing up an the horse with her arms splayed towards either side of her while Titan continued to gallop around the ring. 

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Denva Beaumont

"I always make a point to be early for lessons. Even impromptu ones." Denva admitted to Alpha, watching Arcana perform with the massive horse. 

"Wanna know how Lemonice got her name?" She asked. It was a pretty funny story since she'd gotten the horse up at Horsehead Point during the fair there. 

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

"Well, I suppose you can make sure I'm putting this on correctly," Malik said, placing the skirt over the horse's back and holding the saddle out for inspection. "Don't want to place it too far back or forward and make the lass uncomfortable."

To Malik, the pommel was far less distinguishable from the rear cantle without the Western-style horn adorning the top of the piece. However, Malik could tell that the saddle flap and knee rolls' direction meant he was placing it the correct way. Sure enough, the saddle fit atop the horse skirt well, though he looked back at the Ashreaper for any advice he would be willing to offer. For an extra safe measure, Malik also swept his eyes across Ashton's own horse and saddle to inspect how he'd prepared his for himself.

 

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

"I'm here," Demitri sighed as he just overheard the last few comments one of the members of Arcana's troop made to Denva. The librarian entered the tent and steering his horse nearby to Denva and her yellow steed, making sure to stick to the side and out of the range of Arcana's practice.

"I saw the merchant as I was leaving the stables," Demitri stated. "I imagine he will be here soon, though I don't believe we should waste much time if he doesn't show up."

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"Wanna know how Lemonice got her name?" Denva pestered excitedly.

Alpha was about to open his mouth to say something when someone else arrived, sparing him from answering." 

"I'm here." Demetri asserted as he walked up.

Alpha turned to face him and grinned. "Oh. Welcome." He turned to Denva. "maybe another time, dear." 

"I saw the merchant as I was leaving the stables," Demitri stated. "I imagine he will be here soon, though I don't believe we should waste much time if he doesn't show up."

"Agreed." Alpha nodded and pressed his index finger and pointer finger intio his mouth, whistling loudly. 

Titan whinnied and switched directions. Arcana adjusted her position, bending backwards into a bridge facing the cantle as the horse sprinted towards them. Kicking up her legs above her, she did a full back walk-over to land in a seating position in the saddle. Titan careened to a stop, snorting menacingly as he loomed above the other horses and people.

Arcana did a quick head count and tilted her head. "Where is the hot one?"
"Absent." Alpha reported.

Arcana scoffed. "Suits him. You two. Let's go." she grabbed the reins and directed Titan back into the ring. "Mount your horses and do a few laps around the ring. I want to get a sense of what I have to work with before we start." Titan and Arcana stood at the centre of the ring, both of them wearing similiar judgemental expressions as they observed Denva and Demetri.
Alpha snorted his amusement. 

 

 

((I am super behind on my assigned reading and so now I'm listening to it on audible at x2 speed. So I will be drawing obsessively until I finish the audio book because it is so darn boring to listen to. Better than actually reading it I suppose. I drew Jadia and will probably draw Denva next but before that I wanna draw the Ice Queen so.... yeah. I need help lol. If you wanna send me some stuff aboput Denva, you can, Sky.)

https://64.media.tumblr.com/13db080ea293707e46cc46033bc9ac7c/0ae4aedb88f1cae4-18/s640x960/8d1265814fd75077623a17d07fe27d072ad95cce.png

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Ashton Bál

Ashton watched as he put the saddle on, nodding along to the blond's assumption. Now, handing him the girth with a knowing smile assuming Malik knew how that part worked. 

 

"Take it you don't ride around often?" Ashton cooed, his own horse pushing its head into his side, demanding some attention. Which he gave by a gentle pet on the horse's head.

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Denva Beaumont

Denva nodded to Alpha, then to Arcana, putting her foot in her stirrup and settled into her saddle, snapping her reins as the horse trotted forward with a whinny as she passed Titan. Denva glanced over, making sure the others were watching. Right now, they were at a basic walking gait. Simple enough. Denva held her back straight, knees bent, and heels aligned with her spine to hold her position. She clicked her tongue, a subtle command and the horse stretched her stride into a trot. 

Denva posted along with the movement, holding the reins in both hands at the proper position. 

"That a girl, come on Lemon, let's show them why you're a blue ribbon horse!" Denva told her horse, the animal following a rhythm only they could hear. She went to the center of the ring, Denva bowing to invisible judges, then went into a perfect (this is the routine she's doing: https://youtu.be/DcDLLxgWa_Y). The horse went from the center of the ring, going for the far side and crossing the rounded arena. While it wasn't a perfect square, they were able to alter the routine for the different shaped space, spinning in perfect synch with each other, Lemonice following even the most subtle commands from her rider that you couldn't even see the commands if you were watching 

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

In the hallway away from the chatters in the banquet, a number of guards congregated around a certain quarter. A few participants nearby peeked, perhaps confirming the Elder’s announcement for themselves. The guards were rummaging the place, searching for any hints leading to the perpetrator or their superior’s whereabouts. They were careful not to overly disturb how the scene appeared when it was first found. They especially steered clear from the bloodstains, knowing it wasn’t their role to inspect, but rather someone else’s.

From the dim end of the hallway, a lone pair of steady clicks echoed. Locks of magenta glowed from the flickering candles scattered about. His eyes were closed as he approached the scene, heedless of the whispers from the peeking participants. Once he was close, he revealed his lime eyes, shining despite the low lighting as if they were a pair of highly valuable peridots. He stared at the participants, watching how their frowns deepened the longer he did so. Slowly, his lips curled into a smile. Some of them gasped, others glanced at one another before scampering away. Once they all left, he turned to the guards stationed in front of the quarters, nodding to each before entering the scene of the crime.

The moment he stepped in, the guards inside halted their actions to salute him before resuming their work. One of them, a general if memory served him right, approached him.

“Mr. Faramund,” he greeted with a bow, “Thank you for coming on such short notice. I understand that-”
Chandra raised his hand. “Save the formalities, tell me the situation.”

The older man huffed before starting his explanation. The victim, Terri Marigold, was last seen entering his quarters. A guard visited the room to inform him of the banquet, only to find the scene and the Head missing. No one had seen him left. The general spoke with such gloom in his tone and features as if his superior’s disappearance impacted him personally.

“No need to look so sullen, General. I, for one, am glad that the cocky brat is eliminated. It’s good riddance,” Chandra remarked, smiling softly when the general’s eyes widened slightly. “A loss isn’t always mournful, especially when the person in question was never a pleasant individual to begin with. Wouldn’t you agree?”

“Good sir, saying such thing in a situation like this-”

“Would cast suspicion on me?” he stared at the general squarely, unwilling to tear his piercing gaze until the other man hesitantly nodded. He chuckled. “Am I really that convincing?”

The general pursed his lips, unsure of how to respond. Chandra huffed out a laughter. “Well then, if there’s nothing else, I will do what I came here for. Take your men away.”

The general nodded and signaled for the other guards to exit the scene. Once he was alone, Chandra took in the scene. It was as the general explained, the place screamed signs of struggle. He knelt before a bloodstain and inspected it. His hand vaguely waved around it, white wisps swirling from his fingertips. Similar wisps of differing color oozed from the stain, which the man pulled to his palm. It was Marigold’s life-force, alright; the wisps were unyielding, standing with pride so discernible even for something as vaguely shaped as wisps. He examined the rest of the stains and came up with the same result. 

Next, he inspected the areas where the struggles occurred. The mana he extracted was so thin he could almost not recognize it. Although, comparing it to the one from the bloodstains, he had no doubt it was Marigold’s as well. He checked the rest of the room, finding nothing of note.

Chandra emerged from the scene. Immediately, the general approached him, his briskness and sparkling eyes betraying his stoic posture. He seemed to have high hopes from the medic’s inspection. Remorselessly, Chandra shrugged, watching as the general’s shoulders dropped slightly.

“The blood is Marigold’s. However, I didn’t find anything linking to the perp. Seems we have a very meticulous terrorist in our hand. Imagine that, someone so efficient they could assault and take a man’s body away without provoking any attention.” He put his fingers under his chin as if in thought. “Unless… you don’t think Marigold did it himself, did you?”

The general shook his head. “I highly doubt that. From his ambition, it’s inconceivable to think he would hinder himself.”

“Yes, but it’s strange how there is no trace whatsoever regarding our skilled perp. So perfect that it’s almost impossible,” he inched closer to the general, voice lowering till only the two could hear what he said next, “It’s likely Marigold did it, probably under influence.”

“I presume you haven’t been informed of Ishmael Dawn then?”

“The Seamstress, was it? I suppose he fits the profile. Then again, there is no evidence pointing to that.”
“Your deduction has no ground either, Mr. Faramund.”

“Touche,” Chandra pulled away. “And that is indeed my conclusion: nothing. There’s nothing pointing to their whereabouts, condition, motive, et cetera. All we know is that the blood is indeed Marigold’s and that he is probably injured, though not fatal. Regardless, it’s a de.ad end.” He walked past the general, heading back to where he came from. “If I were you, I’d call off the investigation. It’s a fruitless endeavor.”

The general said nothing in return. Whether he was contemplating or ignoring the medic’s suggestion, Chandra didn’t stick around for that.

“Are you not participating in the competition?”

Chandra stopped, though he kept his back faced to the general. “Of course I am. I had my name registered before the announcement was made public. Not all of us crave the eyes of the crowd.”

"Will you not be attending the banquet as well then?"

The younger man chuckled. "Perhaps if I feel like it." With that, he left.

 

((Not really sure yet on the present day post lol I’ll just leave the intro first))

__________________

-•▪︎•-

only here for roleplaying. used to go by a different account. see if you can guess which one ;)

-•▪︎•-

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Jaida

Despite the fact that the circus was actually not all that far from the castle, it took Jaida a good two hours to get there, staying out of the wind as much as she could and powering against it when she couldn’t. This was why she hated travelling during the day. If she wanted to remain unseen, she had to do it in gas form, and that meant she was all but at the wind’s mercy. And to think it wasn’t even particularly strong today.

Well, she thought wryly as she struggled forward, at least she was managing to keep all her limbs together. She had learned early on that she could only return to solid form when her body was ‘complete', otherwise she would effectively amputate anything not attached. Wincing internally, Jaida recalled the first time she had ventured outside in order to learn how to manage her power in the face of the wind. She had spent the entire day and a good portion of the night chasing after stray body parts, terrified and half-convinced that she’d never be whole again.

She was relieved when she finally made it to the circus terrain, staying close to the ground and keeping an eye on the way the wind curled around the tents as she approached the bigtop. They’d done an impressive job closing it off, but she wasn’t worried as she circled the structure. No space people had to breathe in was ever truly airtight, after all. It wasn’t long before she found a fold she could slip underneath, slowly and carefully making sure she didn’t rustle the fabric too much as she entered the tent.

Jaida had been to a few of the circus’ shows even before she knew Arcana was going to try for the throne. It was easy to hide a tent filled with people fully focused on what was happening on the stage, and she liked to watch the tricks and optical illusions the performers played on their audience and try to figure them out. But now the interior of the tent had been transformed, with the many aerialist apparatuses strung up against the ceiling and the chairs surrounding the ring folded up against the sides of the tent, leaving a huge dusty circle in the middle.

She wasn’t even the last to arrive, Jaida noticed as she took in the scene. There were three people clustered together at the official entrance, including Alpha, the circus’ beast tamer. Denva had evidently been here a while already, standing next to an elegant horse that shone like the sun, still in the janitor’s uniform she’d used to get here inconspicuously. The librarian, Demitri, was there too, looking decidedly less comfortable in the same uniform and beside a pale Lipizzaner. But both his steed and Denva’s golden horse were dwarfed by Arcana’s mount, an absolutely enormous horse with paint-like black splatters on his coat, long feathering on his legs and a mane and tail that nearly brushed the ground. He was wearing a modified saddle with handles that allowed Arcana to perform a number of impressive acrobatic stunts on his back as he galloped around the ring. And judging from the sheen of sweat covering both horse and rider, they’d been at it for a while already.

A flutter of feathers drew her attention upwards to where a small girl – Archangel, if she remembered correctly – was sitting on a trapeze, silently observing the proceedings with her white wings folded behind her. Jaida felt a small twinge of envy at how easy it would have been to get from the castle to here if she’d had wings, before deciding philosophically that you couldn’t have everything in life. She was fully aware that her having a power at all was a near-miracle in itself and if she’d had to pick, she admitted she would choose her own power over wings.

She settled on the dusty floor in front of the folded-up seats, a fair distance away from everyone. She would get closer, but Jaida had noticed that animals often seemed to sense her presence. How, she had no idea, considering that in her current state she was not only invisible and inaudible, but also had no scent. Whatever the reason, when she passed, animals tended to notice that the rush of air brushing past them was more than just that. However, being a good distance away from them and more importantly not moving, experience had taught her she should be fine. And they were certainly talking loudly enough for her to hear them without any trouble.

“Where is the hot one?” Arcana asked as she settled into the saddle in the usual way and rode up to them. Upon Alpha’s “Absent,” she scoffed and turned her horse back to the centre of the ring. “You two. Let’s go,” she ordered, taking on an authoritative business-like tone rather different from the more mystical one she normally used during a show. “Mount your horses and do a few laps around the ring. I want to get a sense of what I have to work with before we start.”

As Denva complied, moving around the ring in a smooth, controlled routine that, however impressive, lacked the flair of Arcana’s performance, Jaida memorized the features and characteristics of each horse. Assuming these were the animals they were going to use in the test tomorrow, it would be useful to be able to recognize them in case she did decide to pay them a visit beforehand. Though she was pretty sure, striking as they each were in their own way, she would not have much trouble recognizing them in another situation.

 

((@Skyhunter: Fitting music XD))

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana observed as Denva cantered around the ring. Her poise: perfect. Her form: perfect. The communications between horse and rider rivaled even Alpha who watched from the entrance, trying to look unimpressed.
Arcana's cold eyes gave nothing away as to her thoughts as she wordlessly watched Denva's performance. While Denva gave no verbal commands, Lemonice seemed to know exactly what was wanted of her which gave Arcana the inclination that the pair had practiced it many times before.|
At the conclusion of the perfomance, Arcana stared menacingly for a few seconds before breaking out in a large grin. She clapped her hands together. "Well done!" Smirking, she regarded Demetri."I don't know how you expect to measure up to that, Bookworm." She teased as she directed Titan around the ring, circling Denva and Lemonice. 

"You don't need much of a teacher, unless you want to know how to do a handstand." Arcana cracked a grin as she continued to circle around the arena at a slow walk. 

Suddenly the tension in her neck sized up, her shoulder's tensing as she passed a certain area of the seats. Her head whirled around as she turned and stared directly at Jadia. 

Arcana herself did not see anything other than the occasional stray piece of trash left from their previous show being sitrred by the light breeze that filtered through the tent flaps. 

Aztec, however. Aztec was able to see Jadia exactly, sensing her mana and forming it into a semi-cohesive shape like a form of echolocation.

Arcana was completely unaware of Aztec's knowledge. She saw nothing. And yet she still stared harshly at the spot Aztec was trying to warn her about. Of course, her mistrust of the beast and general inability to accept her guidance rendered Arcana completely unsure what she was staring at. Not that it was easy to tell by the way she glared down the spot instictively. 

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Jaida

Jaida froze on instinct when Arcana suddenly whirled and stared straight at her, barely two metres distance between them. She hardly dared to breathe. Despite the shocked thoughts whizzing through her mind and the fact that every fiber of her being was screaming at her, she felt in her bones that the very last thing she should do right now was move.

And yet, despite the intensity of that glare, Jaida saw no recognition or realization in it. Arcana could not see her, she was certain of that. Even if the ringleader took three steps forward and walked straight through her, she would never know that Jaida was there. So what in the world was going on?

As the impasse continued, the initial shock subsided a little and she was able to think more clearly, weighing her options. For all the world, including Arcana herself as far as she could tell, it looked like the ringleader was staring down a patch of sand. As of right now, she was in no true danger, whereas if she moved she would definitely give herself away.

And while that did not mean revealing her identity, it would inform Arcana that she was being spied upon, sure as sunrise. Which would lead to the ringleader growing suspicious and cautious and perhaps, if Jaida was extremely unlucky, cause her to put the pieces together should they cross paths later on. Which would not be a good start into Arcana's good graces.

So she waited, unmoving, staring back into the ringleader’s blue eyes as the seconds dragged on.

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Denva Beaumont

"I wouldn't say no to that! It never hurts to have fun with your horse!" Denva replied just before something happened. Arcana suddenly alerted on a spot that to her just appeared to be a patch of sand. Odd...she saw Burraku staring at it too, the cat hidden in the shadows. Maybe she had seen the Nekomata using his natural stealth? 

"It's just Burraku. He likes lurking in the shadows just to freak out visitors sometimes. And his coloring doesn't exactly help make it any less spooky." She told Arcana, the two tailed cat coming out with a mewl of amusement 

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

The feeling of unease increased, churning in Arcana's gut as she stared directly at Jadia's location. The trepidation grew so much, it begun to ring through her ears.

"It's just Burraku."

Denva's comment caused Arcana to jump, startled from her stupor. "Huh?" She asked, not taking her eyes off the spot. 

Denva explained. "He likes lurking in the shadows just to freak out visitors sometimes. And his coloring doesn't exactly help make it any less spooky."

"Oh..." Arcana did not seem entirely convinced as she continued to stare. Slowly and rather relunctantly she turned away, fixing her gaze back on Denva. "Yeah." She shook her head. "Right. Bookworm!" Her voice took back on that sharp edge as she addressed Demetri. "You're up next."

Arcana pulled on the reins, coaxing Titan back into the center ring. She spared one final glance over at Jadia because driving her heels into Titan's side and setting him into a light canter to get out of Demetri's way. 

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

After finishing his morning routine, Chandra headed down to the stables. His hair was tied into a messy braided bun, the bun sitting low right at the base of his head. He wore a simple white blouse covered with a dark purple riding coat. Completing the set, he also wore a pair of white riding breeches and black leather riding boots. All in all, the usual outfit a Truthkeeper would wear when riding.

As he neared the stables, he saw many people leaving on horseback, trotting out into the open. There were still plenty of people inside but it wasn’t as crowded as he had expected. Entering the stables, some gave him questioning looks, perhaps wondering if he was also a participant or simply borrowing a steed. Either way, no one spoke out to him as he sauntered over to Lady, a dark bay Thoroughbred.

Unlike most nobles, Chandra never bothered getting his own steed. While his clients weren't exclusively palace servants or nobles, usually they would visit his workplace rather than the other way around. He only rode out to gather materials that were otherwise unavailable in the market. To him, what mattered was that the horse could do the endeavor. That said, the young man was fond of Lady. Whenever she was available, he'd instantly choose her. The mare responded positively to him as well, showing affectionate gestures and hardly ever disobeying his commands.

Lady perked up the moment she noticed Chandra. She nickered and extended her head to his direction, eliciting a huff of laughter from the medic. Gingerly, he offered his hand, letting the horse smell him before reaching to pet her neck. 

"Good morning, my beautiful Lady," he muttered, smiling warmly at the mare. Gradually, he moved his hand to pet her muzzle and rested his temple against the side of her head. What an alluring picture they painted, the elegant medic bearing his famed smile and an equally beautiful horse relaxed against him. Several heads turned in awe at the sight, bewitched by the peaceful moment the two shared. Unfortunately, it was cut short when a guard approached them and cleared his throat. Knowing the spectacle had ended, the people around resumed what they were doing.

"Uhm… excuse me Mr. Faramund, Sir?" the guard asked hesitantly. Chandra reckoned he was a new recruit, still lacking the bearing the royal guards should display and only tasked with dealing odd jobs.

"State your business," he replied, eyes still focused on Lady.

"General Herbert requested for your presence. It's about the, uhm," he lowered his voice, though audible enough for those around them to hear, "The case. He needs your further assistance."

"If I remember correctly, which I do, I only accepted the commission on the terms that I will only do as per the contract." He left it at that, ignoring the baffled expression of the guard. The other man opened and closed his mouth, debating whether it was wise to ask further. In the end, he spoke up. 

"And... what might that be, Sir?"

"Doing the initial request. Nothing more, nothing less." he turned to the guard then, his smile only serving to unnerve the other man more, "So kindly tell your precious general as I exactly say: not interested."

The guard sputtered. "Please reconsider, Sir. The sooner it is resolved, the sooner the people can be at ease."

Chandra stepped closer to the guard until there was nary a space between them, still wearing the same smile. The guard at least stood his ground in spite of trembling. He stared down at the other man, muttering loud enough only for the two of them, "So what, dear soldier? This is a competition that promises blood and betrayal. If anything, we should be thankful that it happened so soon. Keeps people on their toes."

The guard gulped. “Sir, with all due respect, you can’t be serious-”

“Am I?” He pulled away, beaming. “I trust I’ve made myself clear. Run along now.”

 

((edit: minor stuff, just added some words to clear things up))

 

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

"Not much," Malik said as he finished tugging and securing the saddle into place. "There's not much reason to use them at the docks aside from moving things, and that's not quite the same. I mostly have only ridden when I need to travel inland, and that's usually a very casual affair."

The merchant took hold of the tack Ashton handed over. Malik could figure out to attach the girth to either side of the saddle, pulling it close to the body. He slipped a few fingers underneath the leather against the horse's side, making sure that how he'd placed it wasn't too tight against Sweetpea's ribs.

Malik was just placing the bridle over the horse's head when he noticed an elegant man enter the stables. The man was clearly a Truthkeeper, based on both attire and the general air around his demeanor. After a moment, Malik soon found his attention brought back to figuring out how to get Sweetpea to open her mouth for the bit.

Just as Malik was finishing up tacking Sweetpea, a uniformed guard entered the area, approaching the same Truthkeeper Malik had briefly noticed several minutes before.

Most of the exchange was hushed, but the stall Malik was in was close enough to overhear most of the general conversation. Despite the smile adorning the Truthkeeper's expression, there was clearly some tension in the conversation being had. Everything Malik did overhear was very vague and without much context.

Malik glanced at Ashton, cocking his head as if to say, Wonder what's going on there?. A stark contrast made itself evident in the spoken tones as the conversation came to a standstill; the young guardsman sounding caught between wanting to obey orders and running away from the curt and sure dismissal of the noble.

 

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Between watching Denva's showcase, Demitri glanced at the tent entrance and noted that there was still no sign of the merchant. The librarian mentally added at least one party member that very little reliability thus far, and it hadn't even been 24 hours since the alliance formed.

"You're correct, there's not much I know that would up show that sequence," Demitri responded, choosing to ignore the nickname and teasing tone the ringleader had uttered with a smirk

"Well done," Demitri added politely to Denva when she rejoined the group at the edge of the tent. Right then, Arcana jerked, staring at a blank spot on the sandy ground of the tent. Demitri glanced at Arcana, wondering why in the name of the gods she kept looking at the ground when there was nothing there.

Once Denva offered up an explanation, Arcana slowly emerged from her distracted state, finally commanding Demitri to go out next.

Demitri shook his head in confusion, mounting the gray horse he'd chosen. Having some experience with the gelding, the librarian mounted with ease.

The librarian lightly pushed pressed the horse on, offering a series of commands as he rounded the tent, a mixture of verbal and motion-based. Demitri didn't make any mistakes of what he could tell, and his form was good. However, the librarian knew there was also nothing particularly special about his sequence or riding style, either. Everything he did was strictly by the book, perhaps a fine example, but to the point of not having any special flare that made his style stand out. It showed the very regime-based learning Truthkeepers went by, even when learning to ride equestrian as children.

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana tilted her head as she observed Demetri's riding. It really was not much because it was incredibly textbook. It was by no means a poor job, and certaintly not enough to get him disqualfiied (unless every single other participant had some kind of dressage-level horsemanship skills, which Arcana doubted).
Arcana found her mind wandering, bored by Demetri's perfomance. Had Malik still not shown up? Nope. it did not seem so. Arcana sighed quietly, still unable to shake the unwavering sensation of being watched. She was going to give that unreliable son of a gorgon a hearty talking to upon his arrival. She would tolerate no such impudence from him after having generously offered her bigtop as an alternative and secrect method of training.

Eventually, she seemed to notice that Demetri was reaching the conclusion of his jaunt. Arcana jerked her head towards him, her mouth opening in a languid and very cat-like yawn.

"What is your goal here? Are you trying to bore the judges into falling asleep so they dont notice your atrocious horsemanship?"
Okay, that was a bit harsh. Arcana admitted mentally. He was in not way bad at riding. As a matter of fact, he was practically perfect. But lacked all sense of style.

"Your form, while impeccable, lacks flavour." Arcana rectfied. 

Titan snorted, seemingly in agreement. 

Arcana continued. "You will have no distinguishing factors between you and the rest of the competition. No one will know who you are. Which, I suppose is a valid strategty. There will be no target on your back and you're less likely to end up like Terri." Arcana folded her arms. "But it also means that the people whom you are trying to rule will not know you. They will pick favourites, and that won't be you on account of how unrememberable you are." She stopped there because she did not want to give her stragety away too much. Nor did she particularly mind is Demetri had no sense of style and lost the competition. They were still rivals afterall. "Ultimately, what you decide to do is up to you and I could not be bothered to care about what kind of failing strategies you use. It bodes much better for me that I outshine you. However, we did made a deal that we would help each other. And as a woman of my word, I intend to uphold that."

What an utter lie. 
Arcana did not place any weight on her word and fully intended to leave her allies in the dust towards the conclusion of the trials. Lying was second nature to her and had become so ingrained within her psyche that she herself hardly took ntoice of the fact that she was lying. 

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Denva Beaumont

Denva watched Demitri ride. He had skill, that much was certain. But just basic really. She could tell from his posture and stance in the stirrups. 

"Not bad, but he could use a little practice." Denva allowed, Lemonice nickering in agreemnet, nuzzling her rider. And it was clear that the gray horse he chose trusted him. They were a good match, but she doubted the man knew the horse's name. She glanced back at Arcana, Alpha and glanced up to see if Angel was still watching. 

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Ashton Bál

Ashton nodded to Malik's riding experience, wondering exactly what he can do on a horse if he doesn't quite ride one much. At the very least, he wouldn't have to worry about him in the following test tomorrow. Malik's attention was pulled to a man who gained the eyes of many of the people in the stables, including a short glance from Ashton. The Ashreaper's viewed the man's greeting to the dark horse as a rather heart warming sight, however the moment was cut short by a guard delivering a message. Losing Ashton's interest and now watching the blond silently struggle with the bridle. Opening his mouth to offer a tip but instead let out a sigh and smiled at the scene. The conversation between the guard and the Truthkeeper soon began to interest him once more, finding himself watching the exchange with a subtle following of emotion. Questioning what they were on about and even more questions arised when the guard asked if the Truthkeeper was serious. Once the guard was debating with himself what to do, Ashton caught a questioning glance from Malik, which he simply responded to with a shrug.

 

"Want to bother him about it?" He cooed to the blond, seeing the merchant's mount was all tacked up.

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

Before the guard could come to a decision, another figure approached them. The clinks of armor and rustles of fabric were more conspicuous than when the guard had approached him. Paired with a firm set of footsteps, it signaled a person of higher rank. Upon noticing the figure, the guard gave him a salute.

"General Herbert!" he greeted, "Forgive me Sir, I-"

Herbert raised his hand. "No need to worry about it. Our guest is a rather… difficult person," he uttered, pointedly staring at Chandra, "You are dismissed."

The guard bowed and immediately scurried away. Chandra huffed out a laugh, turning to the general. “Figured I wouldn’t be convinced, did you now?”

Herbert promptly ignored the medic. “I understand I am asking you more than what we agreed upon. However, this is an urgent matter and we direly need your assistance. You will be compensated thrice more.”

“Should we really be discussing this in public?”

“You would turn me down otherwise. Besides,” he glanced at the blond Tideseeker and the dark-haired Ashreaper, both of whom seemed curious to what was going on, “Terri Marigold’s presumed death and Ishmael Dawn's disappearance isn’t a secret. It will do no harm if people know the royal guards are still investigating the matter.”

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Jaida

Denva unintentionally came to her rescue, attributing Arcana's strange fixation to her cat, Burraku, who was apparently sneaking around the row of folded chairs behind her. Although clearly not entirely convinced, Arcana seemed willing to accept this more plausible explanation and slowly dragged her gaze away.

Jaida stayed frozen until Arcana visibly shook off the matter and turned to Demitri, demanding he show his skills. Allowing Jaida to sag in place as Denva's cat passed straight through her, taking no notice. At least that still worked as it should, she thought, absently watching the cat walk away with its twin tails held high in the way of cats.

She had been curious about Arcana from the first whisper she’d heard about her entering the competition. With most of the others, their reasons for participation could be inferred quite easily. If she had to guess, Demitri, for example, wanted the throne not out of desire but of necessity. He loved his country, and decided the safest way to protect it from those who would seek the crown for their own gain was to claim it himself. As for Denva...well, one could argue this was what she had been born and raised for. Malik was harder, and considering his absence she wondered how serious he was taking his participation, but he likely wanted to use the kingdom's resources to expand trade routes and commerce, which would benefit him first and foremost.

But Arcana...what could compel a circus entertainer, constantly travelling and seeing new places every week, to want to settle into a dusty palace for the rest of her life, fulfilling the mundane day-to-day responsibilities required of a queen? Running a highly successful circus, what did she hope to gain with a crown? Jaida pondered it over as she watched Demitri canter around the ring and listened to Arcana chewing him out. It occurred to her that she might be looking at this from the wrong perspective. She herself would hate the scrutiny that inevitably accompanied the position of ruler, her every action and word pored over and picked apart. But for a circus performer, who lived and breathed for the spotlight? Well, who received more attention than the queen?

Still, something niggled at her mind that this wasn’t the right answer either. Add to that the events of the past few minutes, and it was abundantly clear that there was more to Arcana than Jaida could see at the moment.

Would she make a good queen? Not that Jaida cared all that much how whoever gained the throne in the end would rule the country, although it would be preferable that they not sink it into war with its neighbours in the first week. What she wanted was for things for her to continue the way they had under the previous queen. She wanted to keep her lair within the palace and be left to her own pursuits, and she had little interest in what happened outside the palace walls beyond that. But if she stayed out of this competition, there was a realistic chance that whoever ended up on the throne would sooner or later decide that they wanted to get rid of the witch cluttering up part of the palace, and there wouldn’t be much she could do against it. Save for establishing favourable ties to the future ruler before they ascended.

But was Arcana the best choice for that? If the ringleader gave her word to let her stay, in return for the assistance Jaida could provide to help her gain the crown, could she trust it?

Her gut feeling so far said no.

If she decided to ally herself with Arcana, she would have to watch her back. Ensure she remained useful or at the very least not openly oppose her. Jaida did not attach all that much value to her own word, but turning on Arcana, or at least, doing so with the ringmaster taking notice, likely wasn’t a good idea.

But then, didn’t that go for everyone in this competition, in greater or lesser degree? Did the benefits of Arcana as queen outweigh the risks or should Jaida do everything in her power to keep her off the throne? And if so, who else should ascend instead? Jaida didn’t know enough about the candidates yet to have an idea of whose rule would best serve her own interests, and whom she could trust to keep up their end of the bargain. Perhaps she should focus on remedying that and leave this first test alone.

Looking at the group, Jaida resolved to stay here for a little while longer. Maybe Malik would turn up. She would keep a close eye on this alliance in the weeks to come, but for now, she had other people to pay a visit to as well.

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Denva Beaumont

Denva glanced at Arcana, then back at where Burakku was messing around with some mice he found before pouncing on one, his two tails wagging happily as he ate his snack. She used the oppertunity of Arcana being distracted to move closer to Alpha to talk to him with Lemon acting as a barrier between them. She had a few questions that she wanted answers to. 

"Hey, is Arcana doing OK? She looked like she was about to have a heart attack or something from too much sugar last night. And then there was just now, she was looking at Burraku the way a predator might look at prey they just cornered. I've seen the way the riding wyverns my Ashreaper cousins breed do that, so I know that look." Denva asked Alpha quietly, her cat wandering over once he was done eating and rubbing against Alpha's legs with a happy purr, wanting attention from the man no doubt

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Alpha pretended is not pay any notice to Denva's movements as she approached. Instead, he lackadaisically remained leaning against the side entrance of the big top, still looking for Malik.

"Hey, is Arcana doing OK?" Denva asked quietly.

Alpha slowly swiveled his head around to gaze at Denva, his expression nonchalant and his demeanour lazy as he picked dirt from his nais with a dagger, jumping when the cat rubbed against his legs. . "Hmm?"

Devmba continued, her face plastered with concern. "She looked like she was about to have a heart attack or something from too much sugar last night."

Alpha visibly tensed up at the statement. Of course he knew what had happened. Arcana told him everything. And even if she hadn't, Phoenix ensured everyone in the main troupe did. He disgused his conduct with a tremor of laughter, shaking his head a bit.

"And then there was just now," Denva continued on, unphased, "she was looking at Burraku the way a predator might look at prey they just cornered. I've seen the way the riding wyverns my Ashreaper cousins breed do that, so I know that look."

Alpha chuckled once more, spinning the dagger hilt along his finger tips before sliding it back into uis sheath attached to his hip "There is something you need to know about Arcana. About all of us."

He waved his hand around the room, gesturing to Archangel who was still hiding up in the rafters, brushing a doll's hair.

Alpha returned his gaze to Denva, his face suddenly uncharacteristically serious and grim. "We did not get it easy, kiddo. We weren't raised lavishly surrounded by jewels, silk linens and satin bergères. We were not born into a wealthy family. We were raised by ash, dirt, starvation and desperation." His tone took on a harsher edge, his warm eyes cold. "And when you are a child brought up in that environment, you do whatever it takes to survive. The magic and wonder you see here is all an illusion to hide the desolation beneath it. Every single one of our troupe members were plucked from exceedingly horrible situations. Everyone here is dealing with trauma and stress. And unless you want to get hurt, don't go poking around in it." His tone was grave and serious, very contrary to his typical nonchalant behavior.

Suddenly, as quickly as the mood had arrived,  it vanished. Alpha flashed a brimming smile oozing with charm. "But you are a very capable and beautiful young lady. I am sure you will do just fine." He playfully poked her cheek, a lily materializing in his hand as he tucked it behind her ear. Yep, back to his usual flirtatious and charming self. 

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Denva Beaumont

Denva nodded, understanding why Alpha didn't want her poking around as she accepted the lily he pressed into her hand. She tucked it into her hair along with the emerald flower she always wore as one of her many jewels for her power sources. 

"I understand." Denva replied, turning back to watching Demitri ride. She was wondering where Malik was. She suspected he was running late and was tempted to send her cat after him. 

"I bet Burraku could track down Malik. I can send my cat after him if that'll get him here faster." She offered, gesturing to the nekomata currently rubbing up against Alpha's legs 

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

"Sure, why not-" Malik smiled impishly, though his answer to the proposal was cut short. Another notable figure entered the stables, also walking directly up to the nearby Truthkeeper. A quick exclamation from the nervous guard confirmed the older man's authoritative position. It was also clearly the person the recruit and the long-haired man had been speaking of only moments prior.

The general took the initiative in conversing with the white and purple-clad man. Soon enough, Herbert presented a level of context to the nearby eavesdroppers, despite the Truthkeeper declining to get involved or publically talk about the topic.

Malik wondered about the investigation that had been mentioned, briefly wondering about how the man with the bun was involved in it.

"Have you gentlemen been able to find anything more on the disappearance of Marigold?" Malik inquired, pushing into the conversation as Ashton had suggested. The merchant was not sure if he'd receive an answer, but the general seemed far less secretive about the topic than the Truthkeeper, having brought it up publically in order to persuade the pink-haired man in some way or another.

 

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri exhaled through his nose, slowing the horse to a stop as Arcana heavily critiqued his riding. In truth, he did understand the woman's points. Many royals up until the previous queen would have had extensive training in horsemanship from a young age, and be able to show great skill and show worthiness.

However, practice such as that anywhere from months to years to master, and Demitri would much rather play safe with good horsemanship than attempt a showy trick that had only been learned over the course of an afternoon.

"Right, then." Demitri finally spoke after Arcana finished. "I suppose I shall work on standing out, as you have put it. Though, I would also offer caution to you, as well. I know the likes of the people in the capital, and while many look for entertainment, there are as many stuck on the ways of the past and structure. People will base their expectations upon the former queen and her performance. An understudy can not expect to copy the lead and perform as well, but neither should they go so far off-script to make the audience think they're watching another production."

Demitri was also was worried about maintaining public appearances, but seemingly on the complete flip-side of the coin that Arcana was arguing. He supposed their differentiated strategies would keep one another out of each other's ways, at least early in the competition.

"However," Demitri added with a wry smile, now that he'd gotten past his stance on the matter. "You and Denva are both much more well-versed in horsemanship than I, so I will take into mind any advice you are so graciously willing to offer."

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"Right, then." Demitri murmured. "I suppose I shall work on standing out, as you have put it. Though, I would also offer caution to you, as well. I know the likes of the people in the capital, and while many look for entertainment, there are as many stuck on the ways of the past and structure. People will base their expectations upon the former queen and her performance. An understudy can not expect to copy the lead and perform as well, but neither should they go so far off-script to make the audience think they're watching another production."

Arcana merely smiled vaguely at him, not inclined to give her thoughts on the matters. Those who were hung up in the old ways were more likely to be noblemen and other highborn. Those who did not want radical change because their lives were already comfortable. The population Arcana had set herself to appeal to was not those with wealth and comfort. But those who worked hard, those who struggled, those who understood harship. And it just so happened, the peasants, surfs, and artisans made up the largest majoirty of the population. Those are the people who had the most to gain or lose from a change of rulership. 

"However," Demitri added, "you and Denva are both much more well-versed in horsemanship than I, so I will take into mind any advice you are so graciously willing to offer."

"Good. Then allow me to teach you a good skill in the event that you fall off your horse." Arcana clasped her hands together. "Or you can do it to add some flaire. This does require a lot of upper body and core strength so I don't expect you to get it right away." She snapped her reins, clicking her tounge as she urged Titan into a canter around the ring. 

She reached over, gripping on to the underside of the pommel of her saddle. And then she fell off.

Her legs shot forward, her feet barely grazing against the ground before caught herself. Then she pulled up and over so that her stomach fell against the side of her saddle. Letting go of the pommel, she balanced herself, sitting on her stomach as Titan moved.

((Since I can't think of a better way to describe it lol))

Fanning her legs out in a butterfly kick, Arcana was able to gather the momentum to right herself back onto the saddle in a side-sit. She adjusted herself, swinging a leg over and back into the normal mount. 

Arcana smiled, letting go of the reins and holding her arms out to either side as TItan cantered around the ring. The massive horse sloweed down before coming to a full stop.

"I won't make you do it on your horses right now. That's what we have the beam more." She gestured over towards Alpha.

While she was demonstrating, Alpha had went back stage and was now rolling out a large wooden beam on wheels that was vaguely the same thickness, shape, and height of a horse's back. Secured on the beam was one of Arcana's altered horse saddles. 

"You may use the handles for now until you have gotten the hang of it and then we can switch to using the pommel." Arcana smiled. "And you don't have to do the fan kick. Just put your leg over and scoot back up into the saddle." 

 

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Denva Beaumont

"I've done similar maneuvers on the riding wyverns my Ashreaper cousins raise. It's a lot trickier when trying to wing walk at the same time, but the principal seems similar enough." Denva commented, recognizing it as a rescue maneuver she'd often seen her cousins use when they had to perform midair rescues with inexperienced riders. Herself included among them. She wondered if she could do the same maneuver on Lemonice right off the bat. But...her brain was telling her that it would be wise to practice on the false horse first before trying it on a real one. 

"If it's all right with Demitri, I'd like to go first on the practice horse." She told the others, gesturing to the false horse as Lemon snorted in agreement, the horse nudging her rider forward with a muzzle to her back. The maneuver itself, while mostly used by horse performers, was an effective way for Wyvern riders to censored those falling out of airships or hot air balloons when they were careless. 

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"I've done similar maneuvers on the riding wyverns my Ashreaper cousins raise. It's a lot trickier when trying to wing walk at the same time, but the principal seems similar enough." Denva spoke up, earning a suprised look from Arcana.

"I can't say I have ever encountered a dragon large enough to ride on." Arcana murmured. "Much less actually ridden on one."

"If it's all right with Demitri, I'd like to go first on the practice horse." Denva began to walk towards it.
Arcana grinned, she did not expect Denva to have any experience whatsoever. The young girl continued to surpise her. "Be our guest." She purred, nodding her head towards the fake horse and the girl.

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

Herbert sighed dejectedly at the question. “Not much, I’m afraid. We confirmed that the bloodstains are Marigold’s but as to leads regarding his whereabouts or his presumed murderer, we have none. We suspect Ishmael Dawn is involved due to his simultaneous disappearance. However, with him gone, we have no means to interrogate him. It doesn’t help that his quarters seem untouched.”

As the general explained the situation, Chandra turned around to get a good look at the eavesdroppers. Based on their attire, he surmised the blond was a Tideseeker while the dark-haired one was an Ashreaper. He eyed them down and up, seeing if there was anything familiar about them until his gaze landed on the Tideseeker’s hastily patched sleeve. He smiled amusedly at that before turning to Herbert, giving the older man a questioning look.

“Pray tell, why are you suddenly keen on spilling everything to unaffiliated parties?” he inquired, staring pointedly at the general despite the smile playing on his lips.

“I believe the saying is ‘my work ethic is beyond people’s understanding’,” Herbert retorted in a slightly mocking tone, clearly quoting the medic.

Chandra huffed out a laugh while shaking his head. “No, that’s unlike you, General. You have a reason.”

“Perhaps I do.” His gaze narrowed. “A certain man told me the perpetrator was so meticulous that no trace of them was left. So perfect it’s almost impossible.”
Chandra cocked his head. “So?”

“The same man was also the one who inspected Marigold’s quarters by himself and claimed he found nothing but Marigold’s blood. Not to mention, he said that Marigold’s death is good riddance and advised me to drop the investigation.” His tone grew increasingly grave as he went on. “I must admit, it surprised me when you accepted my commission so quickly. Yet, the moment I asked for further assistance, you turned me down immediately.”

“The contract, General,” Chandra reminded.

“What does it matter? Even if I abided by it, it wouldn’t stop you.” Herbert’s face hardened, his already furrowed brows somehow dipping deeper. “I can’t help but wonder what exactly you did during your inspection. You better explain yourself, Faramund.”

“Ah, so that’s what it is,” he glanced between the two participants and the general, “You think I’m a suspect and you want witnesses for what, me breaking down in ugly tears as I confess and plead for mercy?”

“Answer the question,” Herbert pressed.

Chandra grinned. He took in each of the three’s expressions, assessing how they’d react to the next thing he spoke, “So what if I am the murderer? What proof do you have?” His tone was low, matching the ominous gleam in his eyes.

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Ashtol Bál

"Perhaps I do" The general spoke, carrying on to explain “A certain man told me the perpetrator was so meticulous that no trace of them was left. So perfect it’s almost impossible.” Ashton supressed a smirk, crossing his arms and following along with the conversation with a bleak face.

'Glad to know I'm meticulous' He thought to himself, even keeping his own thoughts quiet as if someone could overhear his inner voice. The two went back and forth some more, relaxing the Ashreaper as the General spoke, trying to counter this contract the two seem to be play by.

 

"Answer the question" he pressed, the long haired man simply grinned and glanced around the three before replying in a low tone.

 

“So what if I am the murderer? What proof do you have?” Ashton let out the start of a laugh but quickly caught it with a cough, bringing his fingers to his lips to partially hide the small smile that broke through. Not entirely sure what he found more amusing, the audacity of the man, or just how straight forward he went about it. Ashton took a short moment to restrain his amusment, the slightest smile still curving his lips, now just admiring the man's brazen replies.

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

Malik nodded along to the news the general relayed. He thought back to the aforementioned seamstress, who'd also disappeared the night before. Malik knew even less about that particular individual than he did the royal guard. Though, the Wispweaver's sudden vanishment did pin a lot of the mystery on him, if only due to coincidence.

Malik was ready to depart before the Truthkeeper asked the general a question, sending the two into another spiral of conversation.

The merchant cocked an eyebrow when the general dropped another hint at the Truthkeeper's seeming involvement with the case. It was still a bit vague, but it gave Malik more context of the two men's conflict.

Malik didn't say anything, but the long-haired man's last retort, followed with a baleful grin and dark tone, probably wouldn't lessen the suspicion Herbert seemed to harbor towards the former.

Glancing once more at Ashton, the other male seemed to find the situation rather amusing for an unknown reason, though he seemed to be trying to keep a passive face about the Truthkeeper and general's exchange.

I'm... just going to stay quiet for now. Malik decided. He often did not shy away from adding comments, but the current atmosphere between the guard and Truthkeeper was rather foreboding in a way the merchant wasn't sure he wanted to tamper with quite yet. Malik glanced around, just realizing how late in the morning it'd gotten, mentally facepalming himself upon remembering he was headed for the circus tent before the current situation had started.

Still, the merchant didn't move. Whether it was the morbid curiosity of what the next few comments would unfold, or trying not to look like he was running from the situation, even Malik wasn't sure of.

 

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri pulled his horse aside, allowing Arcana to use the center arena to demonstrate the maneuver of how to righten oneself from a fallen position on a moving mount. The librarian had to admit it seemed like quite a useful technique, though he was more interested in the practicality than the showiness.

"Go ahead," Demitri nodded when Denva volunteered to try the moves out on the practice horse, not having any qualms with Denva taking the lead to begin. For the time being, Demitri dismounted while he waited for the girl to apply the knowledge she had said to have had from riding wyverns.

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Denva Beaumont

Denva nodded, mounting the practice horse before signalling the worker when she was ready to go. She messed up the first couple attempts, but she was able to perform like she had on the wyverns. She was by no means perfect, but she did have room for improvement. She knew her leg position was sloppy and her wyvern rider teacher would smack her upside the head for not remembering that there were wings to walk on when using a horse, even a practice one. 

At one point, Denva yelped, taking a tumble off the practice horse at a faster speed. She immediately popped up though, her pride hurt more than anything. 

"I'm ok! I've had worse falling off wyverns 1,000 or so feet in the air." She assured the others as she dusted herself off. She stretched her arm to make sure nothing was broken before getting back on to try one more time. She adjusted the lily and emerald flower in her hair before starting. This time, she managed the butterfly kick to get her momentum back on track to swing into a sidesaddle position, swinging her left leg over the left side of the practice horse 

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana watched Denva attempt the manuever. She failed the first few times but eventually managed to get a hang of it, even adding in Arcana's rather extraneous fankick. Arcana smiled patiently as she tilted her head.

"Very well done, Denva. You seem to have an excellcent grasp of showmanship." With a merry twinnkle in her eye she added, "again I ask you. If you ever grow weary of your life of propriety then you will always be welcome with us. I am sure Alpha would love to take you as an apprentice."
Alpha scoffed. "Speak for yourself."
Arcana rolled her eyes good-naturedly. "Demetri. Would you like to try your hand at it? If you can't get the momentum you need, we have a suspension apparatus that allows you to jump higher." ((Since I don't think trampolines were really a thing yet... but yeah. It's a  mini trampoline thing.... kinda).

Alpha scoffed again.

"Quiet in the peanut gallery!" Arcana playfully flicked a rock at him.

Alpha dove to the side, laughing. 

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Denva Beaumont

Denva blushed at the compliment at her showmanship skills. She'd always enjoyed performing with her family at dressage competitions or in flyovers with the wyverns with her Ashreaper relatives. Her Mom liked to tease that she was born into the wrong section of their family given her talents came around gem manipulation instead of animal work. 

"If the jewelry business doesn't work out, I'll have to take you up on that offer!" Denva replied, flattered by the offer yet again. She'd have to talk to her parents, but she seriously considered joining the circus for awhile if this whole "being a Queen" thing didn't work out 

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

Chandra took in the reactions from the two participants. The Ashreaper almost burst out laughing before catching himself and toning it down. Nevertheless, he was certainly amused by the situation. The Tideseeker, on the other hand, seemed content to simply watch how things would play out. Whether out of curiosity or something else, the medic didn't quite care.

Then there was Herbert. His brows were furrowed impossibly deep and eyes so wide they were bulging, glaring viciously at the medic. However, he made no move. Perhaps he was racking his mind for whatever evidence that could indict the younger man or internally debating whether his claim was the truth. Whatever the case, Chandra could see the gears in his head turning. Normally, he would be more than content to let the General simmer in his thoughts but not when he had guests to attend to.

"Joking, of course," he said, his tone reverting, "I have an alibi. Within the time frame of the crime, I had appointments. Your messenger called for me just when I was finishing up my appointment with Esther Kent. All appointments are listed in my logbook. If you don’t believe me, you can ask my clients.” He smirked. “Should’ve checked that first before pointing fingers, General.”

Herbert opened his mouth only to close it again. Eventually, realizing his accusation was filled with holes, he sighed in defeat.

“Fine,” he conceded. He turned to the two participants and bowed. “My apologies for involving you in this, gentlemen. I’m sure this must have been very confusing to you, not to mention time consuming. I assure you, you will be involved no further.”

“Actually,” Chandra glanced at the two, “If they want to, I’d like to let them in on the investigation.”
Herbert raised his brow. “You accept my request then?"

"Yes. Frankly, I didn’t expect you would actually accuse me, in front of two participants no less. You’re getting bold, General.” He smirked amusedly. “For that, I will gladly accept your request. Of course, with the condition that you will allow these two to come with me.”

The General eyed the blond and the dark-haired man, sizing them up. He had no clue why the medic would choose them, people that the older man himself had chosen merely because they were there. He had only wanted a handful of witnesses, nothing less nothing more. Either Chandra was up to something or simply had his curiosity piqued. Although, if his short time working with the Truthkeeper was any indication, he leaned more towards the latter. Regardless, he needed the younger man’s abilities lest the case would progress no more. If that meant granting his odd request, so be it.

“Have it your way,” he acquiesced.

“Wonderful.” Chandra turned to the two, smiling warmly. “Both of you must still have  many questions. I shall explain everything provided you agree to be my assistants. Interested?”

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

Herbert seemed furious that he was losing against the Truthkeeper's smooth wording. However, without the evidence the general seemed desperate to find, there wasn't anything that Herbert seemed to be able to use against the younger man. Finally, the general was defeated entirely, at least for the time being, as the Truthkeeper provided an alibi for his recent whereabouts.

"Hmm, extremely interesting proposition." Malik hummed with a matching smile. "Before you attempt to sweep us off somewhere when there's a murderer on the loose, we should at least know your name. And conversely to that point, I'm Malik." Malik's words were spoken in a joking tone, but he still did intend to find out more about who the Truthkeeper and his involvement in the case was.

 

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri watched without comment until Denva managed to successfully complete the remounting maneuver. Arcana added her praise to the younger girl, before offering Demitri to try.

"I'll attempt it without the... suspension apparatus." Demitri said, having only a vague idea of what the contraption may be. He walked up to the practice saddle. Like Arcana had guessed earlier, the librarian didn't have particularly strong upper body strength. However, his hand-eye coordination was quite exceptional after years of performing meticulous tasks.

Demitri mounted the saddlebacked practice beam, similar to the two women before. He ran his mind through how the Ridgestrider and ringleader had started the process, reaching to the handle on the pommel of the saddle. The falling process was very quick, and Demitri was unable to compete at all against the Earth's pull upon his first attempt.

Demitri managed to land on his feet, though not gracefully, straightening his jacket before attempting the action multiple more times. It took him longer than Denva to get the hang of it, though he did improve over the course of the practicing. He couldn't deny that the strength needed for pulling oneself up was a rather strenuous process.

During one of his later attempts, Demitri decided to try something that may give him enough of a push to successfully pull himself completely across the makeshift horse back. While in the process of falling, Demitri mentally planned out to use his telekinesis to help push his shoe upwards. The man did not often use his powers publicly, not one to reveal their presence to others, but decided that their subtle aid may give him the last bit of momentum to properly swing around over the horseback.

Right as Demitri's foot brushed the ground, he shot back up with slightly more force than might otherwise have been possible from the slight brush of toe tip to the ground. The action that was just natural enough in the breath of time it took to be easily overlooked by anyone without a good eye. Even if one noticed, it probably wasn't odd enough to think much of.

Demitri skipped the extra kick Arcana and Denva demonstrated, though he was able to switch from the stomach position to a regular seated position now that he was actually on top of the saddle by moving forward. He raised his eyebrow at Arcana, waiting to hear her critiques.

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Denva Beaumont

Denva moved to stand beside Arcana, watching as Demitri got it right on his first attempt. Ok, she had to admit, even without the scissor kick, it was an impressive move. She hadn't used the suspension system herself, being used to riding wyverns and other flying things, such as riding dragons as well as riding wyverns. 

"He certainly did better than I did on my first attempt." Denva commented, glad to see that someone else had managed to do the trick even without the extra flare of the kick 

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

Arcana observed Demitri. He seemed a bit uncertain at first, failing the first couple times with poor form to boot. But that was to be expected. It took her months to get the hang of the manuever without using her powers, and a lot of falls. And yelling. Alpha really liked to yell.

She was about to interject with some critiques when Demitri finally succeeded. He actually did it. 

The librarian hurled towards the floor, his foot barely touching the ground before he sprung back upwards, curling himself up and over the saddle. A move like that took massive amount of upper body strength, especially doing it without relying on the ground to push off of. Her deep understanding of the mechanics of the move allowed her to know that. And as he had previously demonstrated, he did not have sufficient strength.  

Arcana figured why mess with perfection.  If it worked for him, why bother correcting it?

Arcana was busy eyeing the librarian suspiciously when she noticed him staring back at her, an expectant look on his face. 

Was he waiting for her? Oh. Right.

Clearing her throat Arcana tilted her head. "That was..." she trailed off with a long pause. "Not the worst. I am beginning to think I underestimated you, Demitri." She cooed, finally using his name. 

 

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Ashtol Bál

Ashton cocked his head as the long haired man finished speaking, offering them in to help him. Slight fear sparked at his brain that perhaps he figured it out, otherwise why else would he request such? Despite the alarming thought, no emotion, safe for interest, showed on his face. His thoughts settling on the man just being extremely trusting, not to mention, he could always veer them off his trail if they got to close this way. However, Ashton didn't say anything, letting the golden haired man speak for the both of them. Occasionally giving agreeing expressions where needed. 

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Chandra Faramund - Truthkeeper

"Ah yes, where are my manners." Chandra bowed, right hand placed on his chest. Behind him, Herbert rolled his eyes. As if the Truthkeeper hadn't displayed the pinnacle of discourtesy mere minutes ago. "I am Chandra Faramund. A pleasure to meet you, Mr. Malik. Or just Malik, if that suits you better."

He turned to the Ashreaper then. The dark-haired man still kept silent, simply looking interested. Briefly, Chandra eyed him before speaking again, "And you, gentleman? If you also accept, then it is as your friend said. I should at least know your name."

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Denva Beaumont

Denva smiled her own approval, her Nekomata emerging from the shadows. Burraku purred happily as he watched the humans work. He looked between them before spotting a rat and chased it back under the bleachers. Denva had to rol her eyes at her cat's antics. 

"So now we try it with the horses? I think I can manage that with the right saddle on Lemon." Denva mused, gesturing to the golden coated Akhal Teke in question 

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Ashton Bál | Ashreaper

"And you, gentleman? If you also accept, then it is as your friend said. I should at least know your name." Ashton gave a small smile and bowed his head, a small glance sent towards Malik before taking in a short breath.

 

"Sounds like fun, my name's Ashton" He purred, still holding a coy smile.

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

Chandra bowed again. "A pleasure to meet you as well." He gestured to Herbert's direction. "Before we get started, I need both of you to sign a contract with the General. It simply details your obligations, rights, and of course, payment. It's mostly a formality, though. Since you will be my assistants, I have more reign over what you can and cannot do." He smiled wider. "But no need to worry, I'm a fair boss. Once you’re done, the General will escort you to the crime scene. I will explain everything there.”

Herbert scoffed. “You’re not the one issuing orders.”

“Come now General, you heard what Mr. Malik said; the murderer is still out and about. Now that they’re involved, you wouldn’t risk endangering their life, would you?” Without waiting for his answer, Chandra patted Lady and sauntered away. “See you there,” he said over his shoulder before leaving the stables. 

Herbert pinched the bridge of his nose, letting out a tired sigh. He took a deep breath, composing himself before speaking to the other two men. “Please follow me, gentlemen.” He started walking, ensuring they were following as he did so. “Normally, I would bring the document but this is a rather impromptu situation. We will discuss and sign it in the administration office instead. I hope it isn’t much of an inconvenience.”

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri was a bit surprised by the womens' reactions; not having seen his own maneuver from another point of view, he hadn't realized how much it may have boosted his performance other than having aided him in successfully remounting. He supposed using his power had helped a lot, considering how much more he struggled without it prior, but he was beginning to wonder if he should have kept it toned down a bit. But aside from the ringleader seeming to be in deep thought for one reason or another, neither of the others seemed too concerned beyond some mild surprise.

"It was probably just luck," He responded with a smile, brushing off the compliment, or, at least the closest thing to one he'd heard from Arcana. "I can't even be certain how I did it will work again, it all happens rather quickly, after all. Nothing competes with actual experience, and I haven't even tried on an actual horse yet."

 

[Malik Nerio | Merchant'

"Just Malik," Malik responded to Chandra before the latter turned to Ashton, also inquiring his name.

"Wow, a contract, even! The capital sure does stuff official." The sailor grinned, but shrugged as the Truthkeeper walked away, just leaving Malik and Ashton with the general. "Lead the way, then,"

The blond patted Sweetpea's neck in temporary farewell as if to say 'I'll be back... at some point... maybe', ready to follow the general to the administration office he'd indicated.

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Chandra Faramund - Medic

((Well this became longer than intended lol have fun reading it ig))

Upon hearing the Tideseeker’s remark, Herbert raised his brow. Perhaps he should understand that usually for other factions, the Truthkeeper’s ways of conduct was seen as utterly formal. Nevertheless, he felt his faith in the young Faramund crumble a bit. The Ashreaper didn’t make it better either. While he was quiet, his reaction towards Chandra’s lie convinced him that there was more than met the eye. It made him genuinely concerned whether Chandra knew what he was doing. For all he knew, the younger man could simply be messing with him again.

Herbert internally shook his head. Sure, the medic had given him so much reason to doubt him but at the same time, the younger man also managed to convince him otherwise. His lies proved that much, he wouldn’t be so audacious if he had nothing. At least, that was what the general believed. For now, he would continue following whatever whimsical commands the medic gave.

Ultimately, he couldn’t disobey the duchess’ order.

-----------------------------

While Herbert led the two men to the administration office, Chandra headed to his office. He greeted his fellow court physicians as he made his way. Entering his workplace, the Truthkeeper was welcomed with the smell of herbal medicine and a smattering of floral fragrance.

In contrast to the usually eerie and gloomy practices, Chandra’s was pleasantly warm and sunlit. The creamy white marble flooring reflected the sunlight, showing off how thoroughly polished it was. Rows of orchids of different varieties filled the room. One could almost mistake his office as a flower shop if it weren’t for the examination bed and the cabinets packed with various medicinal ingredients and chemicals. Overall, it was somewhat unorthodox. Then again, Chandra couldn’t care less, especially not when his clients would relax from the serene ambience the room emitted. It made things easier for him in more ways than one.

He sauntered over to his desk. It was cluttered with books and papers yet just from a glance, he snatched what he was looking for, a written report regarding the bloodstains and what scant evidence collected that he tested as well. It was the result of a lab test rather than the findings discovered by his powers. 

He supposed he should’ve handed it to Herbert yesterday. While the general seemed to have faith in his powers, the fact remained that he was an ordinary human. He still deemed the conventional way as more reliable, further proven by the scene he caused earlier. The general didn’t voice it but Chandra knew the root cause of his accusation was his skepticism over the medic’s solo investigation. After all, Herbert didn’t know what the younger man was fully capable of. Not that anyone else knew.

With the report in hand, Chandra made his way to the contestant quarters. It was almost devoid of people, seeing as it was still late morning. Most of the people he passed by were servants tasked to clean the rooms. One of the quarters, however, had two guards stationed instead.

The medic paused. It wasn’t Marigold's quarters. Although, it didn’t take a genius to know that it was Ishmael Dawn’s. It seemed that despite how pristine the room was, Herbert still had his suspicions. Chandra figured it was why the general called for him again. 

He entered the quarters, the guards wordlessly letting him in. Exactly as Herbert said, it was as if nobody had stayed there. Everything remained untouched, a perfect recreation to how it was prepared before the contestants settled. It was no surprise that the illegitimate heir was considered a suspect.

Chandra closed his eyes. From where he stood, a thin ripple of mana spread throughout the room. The moment it dissipated, his gaze locked to a certain spot on the parquet floor near the wardrobe. However, he made no move. Instead, he vaguely waved his hand around, the same gesture he had made when extracting Marigold's lingering life-force. Dawn's was more recognizable than Marigold's, most likely because the former possessed magic. Not that it mattered, the important thing was that either Dawn wasn’t involved in the crime or he masked his mana.

Exiting the room, Chandra headed to Marigold's quarters. He went inside again, taking in the unchanging state of the room. Only a few things were missing, which were the meager evidence the guards handed to him. Still, Chandra released a ripple, even though knowing it would yield nothing. Indeed, he found nothing of note.

The Truthkeeper felt his lips quirk up. It was sickly thrilling chasing after such an elusive figure, or figures even. It was almost as if…

He recalled his mother’s expression on that day. The gleaming eyes, the grin spread so wide in malicious pleasure, and the glistening fangs. It was the only time he had ever elicited such emotion resembling mirth from her. He remembered himself trembling, horrified by her reaction. Yet, now that he was put in a similar situation with his role reversed, he could almost understand his mother a bit more.

“So that’s how it is, huh,” he muttered, his smile widening into the very grin that he had feared all those years ago, “Fine then, I’ll play.”

------------------------------

Having finished signing the contract, Herbert led the two men to the front of Marigold’s quarters. Chandra lit up upon seeing them, smiling like a person reuniting with someone they haven’t met in a long time. The general could almost say it was pure and innocent if he hadn’t been through the headache that was working with the capricious physician. 

“Took you long enough, old man,” Chandra jabbed instantly, his tone lighthearted.

There it is again.

“Not my fault that someone decided to hire two men on the spot,” Herbert retorted.

“Always be ready for enemy reinforcements, or whatever it is they say in the military,” he turned to the Tideseeker and the Ashreaper then. “Anyway, congratulations for officially becoming my assistants. I do hope you two could keep up.”

“Now then, I will brief you with what we’ve known so far. The time frame of the crime is between after the announcement yesterday and before the banquet started. We can’t narrow it down further due to the fact that no one had seen Terri Marigold leave his quarters during that time. A guard found the state of the crime scene when he was calling the participants to attend the banquet.”

He entered the quarters, gesturing for the others to follow him. "Clear signs of struggle and bloodstains yet Marigold’s body is nowhere to be found. The guards have scoured the palace and found nothing. They’re extending their search area but I doubt the perpetrator hasn’t already disposed of his body by now.”

“Here’s the interesting part: the perpetrator left no trace of themselves. Not even a single hair. All of these bloodstains,” he waved the report in his hand, “I’ve tested them and they are all Marigold’s. We suspect the perpetrator is Ishmael Dawn, the contestant who was also found missing before the banquet commenced. In the underground, he is known as The Seamstress, a former assassin famed for his experience in disposing bodies. He fits the profile but his motive and relation to the victim remains uncertain. Now with him gone, we will probably never know. Regardless, we’re hoping to close this case.”

“As to why I refer the murderer as the perpetrator, technically this is still presumed murder. It will remain that way unless we find the body, which I doubt. But well, people are people and the announcement was quickly distorted. It’s widely known as a murder case now,” he grinned, “Well, all the more reason for the contestants to be on their guard. Who knows what will happen at the first trial now.”

Just as quickly as it appeared, the Truthkeeper’s grin mellowed into his usual smile again. He handed his report to Herbert, giving him a look that said ‘I told you so’. The general snatched the papers, glaring at the younger man but saying nothing. Chandra turned his attention back to the scene. “Anyhow, I’m going to do a once-over of this area again. Let me know if you boys find anything of note.”

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Jaida

As Denva and Demitri took turns trying out the manoeuvre Arcana made look so effortless, Jaida decided she should go. A major downside of her power was that she couldn’t be in two places at once, which meant she was always afraid that she would miss something the moment she turned her back. Over the years however, she had learned to live with that feeling. The day would be gone before she knew it, and even with the wind on her side, who knew how long it would take her to return to the castle? Turning oneself into air wasn’t the most reliable method of travelling.

She waited until the group was sufficiently distracted by Denva's performance on the practice horse before carefully moving across the sand and slipping out underneath one of the tent's folds, the same way she had entered. Once outside, she watched the wind out of longstanding habit and managed to make her way to the stables in a more or less straight line, figuring that was her best bet in terms of locating other candidates.

She was in luck – or so she thought as she arrived. She spotted two candidates at first glance, Malik and an Ashreaper male whose name eluded her for a moment. But these two were in the company of two other men. One of them was a general of the guard, while the other elicited an inaudible groan from her at the realization that his presence would make the immediately foreseeable future significantly harder for her. Chandra Faramund.

It wasn’t his more obvious profession as medic that bothered her. He wasn’t a competitor, after all, medicine hadn’t been her primary business in a long time. It was his lesser-known ability on the side that was a problem. Mana manipulation, strong enough to make her very wary around him. She couldn’t exclude the possibility that he had some inkling of her power, although he’d never let on anything or confronted her about it. She didn’t know the extent of his ability, but especially after her recent encounter with Arcana she wasn’t going to take any risks by getting as close as she would have done had it just been the three others.

Jaida briefly entertained the thought of Arcana possessing mana manipulation as an explanation for the strange event in the arena, but soon dismissed it. If that had been the case, Arcana should have had some idea of what she was looking at, and judging by the look in her eyes she hadn’t. Whatever the explanation, that wasn’t it.

Resigning herself to the fact that this was going to be more difficult than she’d anticipated, Jaida stuck to the stalls instead of coming straight down the middle path, weaving through the bars slowly so as to not startle the occupants on the vague hope that the animals' life-force might obscure hers somehow. Once she was close enough she stopped and perched on the back of the horse whose stall she was in, a friendly bay mare who didn’t acknowledge her presence, if she noticed it at all. It appeared that she had arrived in the middle of a confrontation, and she tuned in to listen.

“Answer the question,” the general, Herbert she recalled, demanded harshly, clearly not in the mood for games. Not that it would get him out of them, judging from Chandra’s smirk. He didn’t seem to notice her, at least. Or he just opted to ignore her, for reasons known to him alone.

“So what if I am the murderer? What proof do you have?”

Jaida held back an inaudible snort. There was only one murder they could be talking about. She hadn’t traced all the strings of the web of Marigold's death back to their origin, but she knew more than one person had had a hand in it. Clearly the arrogant upstart had been considered a threat by many people, enough so to lead to him being eliminated from the competition before the first round even started.

She observed the responses of the other two. Malik just looked vaguely curious whereas the other one (Ashton, that was it) seemed to have a reaction similar to hers, interestingly enough. Meanwhile, Herbert looked as though it was taking every ounce of self-restraint he possessed not to arrest the medic right there. She could even see a vein pulsing near his temple.

Chandra let the general stew in his misery a few more seconds, before relenting and providing the man with an alibi. The poor general deflated and tried to apologize to the other two, only for Chandra to invite them to join him on the case. Entertaining a whim, as far as she could see. The general accepted.

A round of introductions later, Malik and Ashton were whisked off to the general’s office to sign formal documents assigning them to the case and Chandra swept away to the crime scene. Leaving her with the all too familiar dilemma of who to follow. After a moment’s hesitation, Jaida went after the trio, thinking they might exchange some useful information in conversation along the way. Also, she tried not to spend any more time around the medic than she strictly had to, fully aware every second in his presence increased the risk of detection.

In this case, she was disappointed. Malik and Ashton exchanged no more than idle chitchat on the way to and from the office, and in a matter of minutes Herbert led them to Marigold’s quarters where Chandra was waiting, positively beaming in delight when he saw them. He led them into the room, Jaida staying at as great a distance as she dared while still being able to listen in on the conversation. Chandra briefed them on the current state of affairs regarding the investigation, which basically boiled down to nothing. They had found nothing, they knew nothing, and the only suspect lacked a motive and was nowhere to be found. In essence, they would probably have no choice but to close the case.

Jaida didn’t much care if the investigation eventually pinpointed a perpetrator or if it was dropped due to lack of evidence, so long as they left her well enough alone. She knew what Chandra was capable of, and if his inspection of the crime scene hadn’t unearthed any clues then it was unlikely the murderer would ever be found. But this didn’t stop him from announcing another look around the place and inviting the others to join him.

Jaida lingered in the doorway for a minute before her curiosity got the better of her and she went in, trailing through the rooms. Carefully making sure she didn’t disturb anything and keeping an eye on where the others were. The last thing she needed was a stray gust of wind tipping them off.

She knew what she was doing was dangerous. Unlike most everyone, Chandra had the ability to detect her presence if he chose to use it, which could put her secret and safety in jeopardy. Frankly, she only dared to stay around because Chandra likely wouldn’t use his power in plain view of the other three, and if he did she felt reasonably certain she could take off fast enough that he couldn't identify her, even if he did sense her presence.

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Arcana |Circus Ringleader/Perfomer|

"So now we try it with the horses? I think I can manage that with the right saddle on Lemon."

The question was completely lost on Arcana. Something changed. Something stirred in the back of her mind. Something was different.  Her gaze drifted towards the chairs once more, her eyes searching fruitlessly for Something that wasn't there.

That was it! 

That's what changed.

Nothing was there. 

Arcana found herself befuddled by her own thought process. There was nothing there to begin with. How could Something go away if it had never arrived?

"It was probably just luck."

Demitri's words jostled Arcana from her state. "Huh?" 

Demitri continued in a rushed way that sounded suspiciously like he was covering up something.  "I can't even be certain how I did it will work again, it all happens rather quickly, after all. Nothing competes with actual experience, and I haven't even tried on an actual horse yet."

That was the most Arcana had ever heard him talk. Her eyes narrowed as she regarded him briefly.  "Sure." She purred, sounding entirely unconvinced. 

Unconvinced about what she was not sure of. She just liked messing with people. So she gave him a wink. 

Clapping her hands together, Arcana turned her attention to Denva. "To answer your earlier question,  no. You haven't even tried it without the handles yet. Trust me, it is a lot more difficult using the pommel. A real horse is much higher up. I won't allow it until I am sure you feel comfortable with this. I don't want you hurting yourself in my circus. I can't afford a lawyer right now."

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SkyHunter22
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Supreme Viking Champion
Joined: 06/11/2014
Denva Beaumont

"I can respect that." Denva allowed, her horse snorting from where she watched with the other animals. Burraku was now perched on her head, the way he often did when they traveled together. 

"I just gotta remember that there aren't any wings using this maneuver on a horse like there are on a riding dragon or wyvern. With them at least you can use the wings to help you get back in position." She commented, not noticing Arcana's sudden change in attention. And where was Malik? Shouldn't the Truthkeeper have been here by now? Or did he get caught up in something? 

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Malik Nerio | Merchant & Demitri Lockehart | Librarian

[Demitri Lockehart | Librarian]

Demitri narrowed his eyes, feeling his pulse unwittingly increase at Arcana's peculiar reaction to his excuse. But the ringmaster let slide nothing of what she may suspect, which Demitri wasn't sure was more or less frightening than her flat-out admitting her full thoughts.

By this point, Aracana moved on, leaving Demitri to only wonder what she may or may not know. Attempting to distract his racing mind, he looked towards the vacant chairs that he'd noticed that Arcana kept becoming engrossed by.

"Are you expecting that tardy merchant to appear over there?" Demitri questioned. The librarian was certain that was far from the reason why, but he could not help but ponder what the woman kept discerning when no one had even approached the area throughout the practice session.

 

[Malik Nerio | Merchant]

Malik gave the room a once over from where he was already stationary. He was sure the place had probably already been scrutinized multiple times over by copious guards, which was confirmed by Chandra expounding as much.

The merchant's wine-colored eyes glanced at the bloodied marks on the floor, but largely ignored inspecting the stains much nearer. Malik had little knowledge of what the arrangement could mean, and if the medic and close-hand investigators hadn't even noticed a misplaced hair that may hint at the perpetrator, then the merchant had doubts he would.

Malik instead glanced over the left-behind belongings of the ex-head of the guard. He didn't know much about the man, aside from the few hot-headed outbursts that had emitted from Marigold when Malik had been around him during the announcement the day prior. Still, Malik was quite good at conjecturing the types of items that match a person's personality off only a few cues; a necessary trait in order to successfully sell goods to people.

Nothing in the room seemed too out of place for the type of person Marigold seemed to have been, or for his station of work. Framing the room were guard uniforms, ribbons of rank and reward, and weapon maintenance tools. The desk where paperwork might have once been prepared seemed relatively undisturbed, sporting the essentials of quills and parchment. There were even some books in the room, though most seemed relatively untouched as if they were more gifts than gathered out of personal interest.

Malik glanced towards the bedframe, the unremarkable sheets and pillows not detaining much of his scrutiny. Rather, a small herb pack tied on the bedpost intrigued him, pulling the merchant to tred closer. Situated in perceptible view, it was by no means suspicious. Malik leaned forward to inhale the innards through the loose bundling, which also proved to not be anything particularly irregular. Malik handled enough spices and herbs to immediately tell the plant variety.

"Hops," Malik muttered. While often bitter, it was a common plant to brew in tea to induce sleep. Despite the brew being the primary reason people choose to purchase the plant, the aroma alone was said to be able to at least promote a calming effect or sleep, so it wasn't out of the ordinary to be hung near someone's place of slumber.

"Was Marigold known to have issues sleeping?" Malik casually questioned as he pointed to the herb package. "I wouldn't have pegged him for someone that relaxed at night, but after being in the same room, perhaps it was something needed after a day of being so wound up."

Malik held a joking smile despite the circumstances begging for all of the occupants' presences in the room.