A modest proposal - Throne Room

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A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Esarhaddon on Sat May 09, 2015 1:22 pm



Mesiphidon was, according to the grid, not in the city at the moment. Attending to business, she assumed. A perfect time for his wife to (which much annoyance) answer the call from her siblings for a private conversation. Outside of the illusion no one but the Kings could see she was only with Konstantine in a chamber and they both sported bright red eyes. Evidence that they were projecting the images of their siblings internally to form the virtual conference room.

A hand— intangible no matter how real it looked— pressed briefly over her belly. “Just far enough to show. Isn’t it fascinating how we  were sent here to do for them and it has become what this world can do for us, Esarhaddon?” the hand in question belonged to Ozymandias; his features, pale eyes and skin tone identical to her own just the same as every other member of their hive. The empress-King in question thought she could see slight differences in aesthetic structure between them all and swore he favored Nebuchadnezzar, her own direct twin, more than he did her.

In truth they had all been created from the same genetic stock for physicality. She, somehow possessing instinct, moved to put her palm over the back of his hand and only contacted her own evidence of pregnancy while the image of her brother briefly flickered and twisted; parts of his display unraveling into bright orange fragmentation before they once again coalesced.

Currently, Esarhaddon stood in a circle with seven other Kings in the now empty room. All help, if applicable, had been sent away. It was quite a sight to see them together even if the others were currently scattered around the planet engaged in God knows what. The only other King physically present in Lu`rae was Konstantine— who managed to be the only one sitting Indian style and tinkering with something. She had chosen to be nonverbal again, it seemed, but was never against listening and adding something long after the fact.

“Your penchant for coded language is unparalleled, Ozymandias. You’ll soon give Nabonassar and Xerxes a run for their talents at this rate.” From the empress and host of the conference. The other two men present exhibited tension in their jaws and shifted their weight onto either foot— the ‘joke’ was that the other two named men were legendarily terrible at subtlety. “Shall we? Now that the battle of little arrows is winding down. Much as I enjoy our family traditions.”

Nebuchadnezzar bit back a laugh next to Esarhaddon, took an invisible seat and crossed her long legs. “Well, the topic of the night is family after all, isnt it?” A glance at the belly of the one who’d had to gall to marry one of the Eschatons most problematic pre-targets: Mesiphidon.

“I know you’re concerned. Echelon, the Eschaton. The causal light core, I know. But is it not also time we acknowledge that the Queen of the hive has been dormant for quite some time. Even the lumo have faded into obscurity. Or is it your worry the child I carry might wake her up?” And then they knew what might happen then: Quixote would come back and begin tilting at windmills, so to speak.

“And then maybe that is not our concern at all, darling dear.” This from Nabonassar; his long wavy hair and full beard receiving constant grooming from his fingertips. Something they thought him anxious— could Kings have anxiety? Or, perhaps like Konstantine, it helped him think. ‘Stimming’ they called it. An interesting term when applied to her kind.

“Then say it. It is our own preservation.” From Sennacherib; the newest to their litter and only one year old. She was somewhere between Konstantines physical age and that of Nebu and Esar’s; her height and frame very slight and only accentuated by close cropped hair. “Can we not be honest with each other. The first time one of us took this leap we came to the conclusion it would bring us no harm. Nebuchadnezzar’s children are part ah...what was it. Djinn? And mostly that at best. Meanwhile, we cannot even read our other sister’s creation. It is as if little Cabyses is cognizant and smart enough to know how to shield herself from our senses. And—”

“And— that should not be possible. I know.” Esarhaddon was the last to seat herself and also the only one who had to seize an armrest for balance with her free hand on her belly. “I want to make something clear. We were not created ourselves to bring life into the world but protect it’s progress. Accept that the eschaton underestimated it’s own children. Like many gods dreamed up by humans it gave us limitless potential, near limitless power and most of all— free will. How a hyper intelligent and aware super consciousness missed that is beyond me. It even gave us instinct like humans.”

Another laugh was bit back by Nebuchadnezzar; the sole King present who was no longer under the hard coded control of the Eschaton thanks to an incident years back with her adoptive family. It earned her a hard look from the empress.

A long pause before Xerxes, a youthful and even wispy version of Ozymandias and Nabonassar spoke up and broke the silence. “Sennacherib asked us to be plain, so, I will. what you carry in your artificial womb is an unknown-unknown. That should not be possible by any stretch of even our imaginations. We consider it a possible threat but also a source of fascination. When you, or— rather when Cabyses chooses to be brought into the world we should like a chance to study her.”

“Because you see…” As if finishing Xerxes' thoughts. Nabonassar interrupted his brother; shifting unconsciously to sit in the same position as Ozymandias while they had both turned to the other male King. “Some of us can be a little small minded. Scary monsters in the closet, we’d better chase them with a broom”

“Thats what you do with mice. Not closet monsters.” The only time Konstantine would speak up at that. Nabonassar scoffed at her.

“Small mindedness, again, aside...none of us are dancing around any threat to your child, Esarhaddon. We would like permission to study her and learn as much as we can about her. She is as much one of us as she is one of your pet Dra’sin family. And—”

“We want to use her to advance.” This from Antiochus; the equivalent of Sennicherib who cut right to the quick; a lazy grin on her face nearly obscured by long, straight, wild hair as she continued to watch Konstantine tinker. Everyone present stared her down. “What? It’s honesty. You all could stand to try it sometime.”

“And I would not deny you. Any of you. The question is...would she allow it? My child’s first gift is autonomy, and as much as I love all of you? You will have to convince her your intentions aim true.” The only one who seemed to understand this as a dismissal was Nebuchadnezzar who gave a small wave just before she was cut off and the room was emptied. The others never saw it coming.

Now, it was empty again save for the most vulnerable member of their Borgism still tinkering with her little interface. She wouldn’t notice Esarhaddon having already stood and stooped to lend a hand to her standing for a long moment— the more advanced and older looking King had to clear her throat and Konstantine would begrudgingly take it and they would set off from the Empress’ wing of the building and back to the throne room.

“You’re really going to let them open Cabyses up to see how she ticks?” There was an undercurrent there of bitter concern. Let them and not the one with true surgeon’s hands— Konstantine. “You trust that?”

She’d only earn a long, blank look from Esarhaddon. It wasn’t hostile, or meant to silence. Only a true expression of being at a loss for words. And that expression said it all.

Konstantine huffed, rolled her eyes and left her sister in the tallest building of Lu’rae staring out at the stars of Sanctum. Back to holing up in Novus Orsa and reaching for goals that Nebu herself had warned against.

“We don’t trust anyone at all.” she’d say; speaking for herself and the conscious life in her belly.
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Re: A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Mesiphidon on Sat Jun 06, 2015 4:36 am

A mere fraction of space above the pristine black and silver veined marble floor his gateway spread open. Air thickening briefly, the sense of all things suddenly seeming compressed before the air simply part like a stage curtain revealing forest landscape. What could be seen of it beyond the broad shoulders of the Emperor that is, the gateway just wide enough for his fur fringed black cloak to pass through without touching the sides. Shock white hair that seemed forever unruly but somehow all in place fit him. His beard trimmed but not quite tight.

If anyone could look at once savage and refined simultaneously Mesiphidon certainly rode that line. With his statuesque greco build there was little doubt that warrior Emperor was not just a tagline. As he cleared the gateway it snapped shut in silence locking out the forest of the Nexxus. An odd place to visit, and the fires blazing black in his eyes, not white would be tell tale. His rage was palpable, the air around him appeared on the cusp of igniting. Immediately his gaze turned towards Esarhaddon's private quarters. His heightened awareness told him he had just caught the tail end of one of her meetings. Technology always left an imprint in the grid, and none were as intricately aware of it as he was. After the events at the prison Mesiphidon had laced a part of his own Magi into the network, the Grid becoming an annex to his own consciousness.

His steps quickened at the realization of her mood, even from here he could feel the shift. They were bonded, literally after all. Not that he would have needed their marriage bond just then to know something was amiss. Still there was little time passed before his strides echoed down the cooridoor, and unfortunately the magnificent sight of her, more the showing of her pregnancy did little to temper his rage. If anything it only seemed to ignite it further, his mask breaking as his jaw clenched. He was in dangerous territory now but it was too late to wait now.
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Re: A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Esarhaddon on Tue Jun 09, 2015 5:17 pm

If she’d felt anything that signaled his arrival it must not have registered. Esarhaddon was deep in thought; one hand on the glass and the other still on her belly. Her lips were very vaguely moving as if speaking but no sound, not even a mumble escaped her throat. Perhaps she was conversing with Cabyses? Soothing her daughter somehow, though, by all rights that would appear unhinged to anyone watching.

Tapered, pale fingers delicately wiped moisture from the corners of her eyes just as she turned from the window; both brows rising and pupils dilating at the site of him. Immediately, they bled to a solid red— reading everything that was pouring out of him. It was almost like temporal decay rushing from his core; tearing the very nature of probability apart. Chaos…?

“...What happened?” she’d say; immediately rushing toward him and those jet black eyes; feeling the heat radiating off of him even as she halted and put nearly two feet of space between them. “What did this to you?” She’d say; reaching out tentatively to touch him and having to pull back— she hadn’t expected him to be that hot. In her most base form her skin was no more enhanced than a human’s. A burn wouldnt cause damage that she could not immediately repair, but, that didnt mean unexpected pain didn’t smart and come with the human instinct to protect the shell.

Esarhaddon then threw that instinctive caution to the wind and embraced him; looping her arms around his thick midsection unless he pulled away from her. If it pained her, she did not show it or react to it in any discernible fashion. Whether the heat reddened or burned her skin was a non-factor. Everything she knew about Mesiphidon, his history and how he functioned meant that his Black Rage was the worst of signs. Perhaps even catastrophic. It took something incredible to push him past such a limit.

“Please. Speak to me?” she’d say; turning her gaze upward toward his visage since, of course, he towered over her as always. Her cheek was indeed an angry crimson that began to fade almost imperceptibly slow. Like watching a flower bloom. She could have sped it up, but, the King was never one to lose sight of her priorities.

Her hands made it to either side of his face and, hopefully, she would be able to turn his features toward her in an attempt to plea for his focus.

“How do I help you?”
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Re: A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Mesiphidon on Wed Jun 17, 2015 5:11 am

He remained rigid even as she approached, on the verge of quivering as he pushed against the rage he had unleashed in order to protect himself. To return it beneath the mountain and retain his calm once again. Eons upon eons had taught him control, but a wild rage, an inborn anger born of the cries of his entire species was always difficult to control. It was instinct to wrap his arms around her body as she pressed to him, a moment passing before he realized the scent of burning flesh and he pried his wife from his arms and pushed her away. Eyes closing, the realization had had brought harm to his wife, the mother of his child only further tightened his grasp. Fire lit eyes flickering before the black returned, if perhaps a shade lighter.

He sighed, looking away when he finally spoke. His words smoldering heat wrapped around a core of freezing iron. "It was... her." There was no need to speak the name, Esarhaddon would know who he spoke of. Pain more intense than the anger he felt tore at him, but he continued on. "She's returned... for me." Bringing the intensity of his gaze back to his beloved his jaw firmed. "I succumbed myself to this, to shield against her; to... kill her." Hands clenching as he shook his head, a sure sign of shame in anyone else, but for Mesiphidon it was nothing short of disappointment at his failure. "I couldn't do it... my fingers squeezing the breath of life from her fragile neck and I couldn't..."

His burning gaze flickered again, though rather it was in suppression or a flare in rage at his failing was impossible to tell. His jaw did tremble now, but he wouldn't look away, of all the things to say of the Emperor, coward was hardly one of them. "She still holds a part of my heart, a part of my love. Buried deep, smothered in ice. But... you know I am weak, that I cannot bring myself to end those who still hold such a thing. My wayward son is living proof of this." He was not trying to justify his actions, but condemn himself for his weakness. A weakness he hid from all who did not know him as she did. The admission that part of him still loved her might shake Esarhaddon, but he was sure a part of her knew. She could read him more than anyone else, making it difficult to mask anything from her.

Still that was not the worst of what he had yet to say. He took a deep breath, steeling himself for the inevitable assault he would likely receive. "In my weakness I promised her we might meet again to speak... I managed to avoid giving a time, at least to buy myself time." This time he did look down, the disappointment he held with himself beyond evident. "It was mistake to go to her, to discover why she chose to return. I should have ignored her presence." The Emperor fell silent then, fists clenched and body tense. Whatever his beloved chose to do he would accept, he could admit when he had misstepped and believed firmly in paying your dues.
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Re: A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Esarhaddon on Thu Jun 25, 2015 4:39 am

Esarhaddon felt the heat and weathered it. He burned; like the fire was inside of him— and that was the case, so to speak; wasnt it? But the embrace was still worth it until it was cut short and she’d been pushed away. A slight stumble and a look of shock as if she couldnt imagine why, even while rubbing the red splotches on her skin which quickly faded, and thankfully. All confusion washed away when he said her. That assertion required no thought at all on his part— the look on his face around those hellion eyes making it easy to put together.

The King’s expression went somewhat icy before she could help herself, any mention of Ailshyia and her antics always had the same effect. Except this time, he had gone...to her?

“Why….did you not explain to me that she had come before you left?” she asked; her brows knit and lips pressed together as she lowered her hands to her sides. Mesiphidon truly had her heart— she softened immediately at his shame and stepped closer to him. Seemingly, she was already close to forgiving him for such a lapse. He’d been honest, after all.

Though the assertion that he wasn’t quite over her did stop her from truly wanting to wrap her arms around him again. Instead, for once, she looked somewhat sheepish— saddened, clearly. Esarhaddon felt like a second choice and only for a moment. Her husband was wrong, however. She hadn’t known. For all her knowledge and power there was still plenty of naivety and perhaps the Emperor forgot her youth. “I...did. Yes, like Sogard. As if she were blood…” with an obvious undertone that seemed to ask if said space in his heart was reserved for Ailshyia and would always drag behind it?

And then the reptilian stillness returned, colder than before and each trace of that sincere empathy bled away. His final statement made her, for lack of a better phrase, go completely blank with lips parted and her gaze boring into him. Now, she took a step back with narrowed eyes and a tilted skull. Movement had returned only to assert that every fiber of her being was viscerally offended.

“Buy yourself time? You’re joking, of course. The Emperor of the Celesin empire, Mesiphidon himself not only couldnt stop himself from seeing her, couldn’t harm her...and made excuses to escape her with promises to return?”

And now her hands were trembling; the skin turning black from her inner turmoil. A faint hiss sounded off as it crawled up her forearm as if she were being stained with ink from the inside.

“You are playing her game willingly. You think confessing it to me will make it acceptable? You made promises to see her, you ran from her...you’re wrapped around her wrist. It’s disgusting.”

Mesiphidon might note that a hint of her sister and his foil had slipped through; that haughty, cutting anger most familiar from Nebuchadnezzar written on her features. Sometimes the mentioned King could be soft and even delicate just as, now, Esarhaddon’s words cut like glass.

At him confessing what he should have done, she scoffed and sneered while shaking her head at him slowly as if it might calm the rising, white hot rage.

“Yes you should have ignored her call. You should have been honest with me the way you’re confessing now— and we would not be here like this. And if you could not kill her, you should have banished or imprisoned her far away from where your “icy” heart— which I assume is a lot warmer for her than you let on— could be compromised.”

“Instead you give your word you’ll return to her. And is she somewhere in this empire waiting for you? Knowing you would always keep your word no matter the circumstances?”

Esarhaddon glared at him; truly angry with him for the first time in the entire duration of their association and marriage.
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Re: A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Mesiphidon on Sun Aug 09, 2015 7:55 pm

The morphing of her features and demeanor from sympathy and forgiveness to ice and then rage wasn’t quite startling. He had expected something of this nature to occur, he had truly miss-stepped, which was definitive proof that despite all appearances otherwise; he was not infallible.  But such things were always kept a private affair, personal and close. To the public, the Imperium, his enemies and allies he must always be seen as untouchable. But never to his family, and most of all never to his wife.

Her words cut deep, his features almost seeming to crumble beneath the assault despite the smoldering anger in his eyes. It wasn’t meekness, but a lack of resistance. Defending himself would only worsen the situation and he knew that. When the last bit of venom had finally left her lips his composure returned. Resolve firmed as he shook his head. In part you are correct, you know of the Exercion, you know of Arcerion. Knowledge your sister has she would have shared to you. So you should know how they function, the sway they have over their particular affinity of emotions. You also know my intrinsic weakness to particular emotions. Consider how her ability to manipulate emotions would affect me in particular.”[/i] If Esarhaddon hadn’t already pieced together or known of how Ailshyia was one of the only beings in existence who has a direct line to one of the cracks in his armor. Then he paused a moment for it to be reflect on.

But with a sigh he continued. His tone surprisingly calm all things considered, if still laced with seething anger. Though none of it was direct at her and that much would be obvious. ”These are simple facts, I am not seeking to defend my actions. I should not have left as I did, I acted in anger, due in part to where it was that I picked up on her presence, and her audacity to return again within my domain.” He shook his head, not once moving to embrace his wife, not while she was angry her knew better. ”Yes, I promised to meet her again, but I did not give a time nor did I suggest it would be alone. Do you truly think me incapable of cunning even when under duress? Remember who I am after all my love.”

He knew she wanted an explanation of why he was unable to kill her, the comment about blood and Dragos however had inspired a touch of anger towards her. His eyes narrowing as he spoke, voice molten ice. ”You of all people should know that blood is not the only means by which I determine who is a child of mine. Is my bond with my daughter not stronger than that with my estranged son? I would not stop her from slaying him as I know she desires, but it would be infinitely more difficult to do it myself. Not because I lack the capability, but because of the unique bond Dra’sin have with those they have developed an emotional attachment to at one point.”

His tone softened again and he almost smiled. ”You married me, do you not feel the bond that was since shared with you on the day of our union? For me, that has always been there, the nearly physical link between us. Our marriage, the rites we took simply made that bond manifest both ways.” He looked down and sighed. ”Weak as it is now, part of that still lingers with her. So slaughtering her like a helpless lamb as I could have… it would have been no different than putting down an orphaned child. I admit my weakness. And I regret it.”

His fists unclenched as he looked back up, anger boiling in his eyes or no, she would at least be able to see the blue beneath the flame struggling to push through. ”I am yours, always and truly. I will not betray you or our child. And while I am a man that always keeps my word, I do not intend to make good on my promise any time soon. More, when that time comes, I do not intend to go alone. If you would like to accompany me, should that day ever arrive you are free to deal with my lingering weakness however you see fit.”

His eyes still blazing with the black flame, but now at least they seemed almost still. The sense of turmoil in him had seemingly been put to rest. ”You have my love, and more than anyone else, my trust.” The bond between them pulsed with the strength of his conviction, rather she chose to ignore it or not.
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Re: A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Esarhaddon on Fri Aug 14, 2015 12:11 am

The King’s lips were pressed together; staring at him with eyes like a cold fire. The justification, mentioning of her sister, Nebuchadnezzar— it didn’t sit well. It wasn’t completely  immaterial to  the situation at hand but it was so far beneath what she cared about in that moment. And of course her twin had shared plenty with her but not so much she could have understood it leading to a weak spot in his metaphorical armor.

She did not answer him when he asked her to remember who he was  nor for his somewhat scathing rebuttal concerning Dragos. Yes, it was a sore spot and perhaps one he deserved to have prodded considering the circumstances.

Only when he had run the gamut of his emotions did her eerily still form break even slightly; a long and unsettling stretch of silence coming after he reminded her of their bond, his words and promises to put an end to the scourge that was Ailshyia. The break came in a shuddering, unsteady exhale that rattled even more when she remembered to breathe. Emotion returned in a flood and it was pure pain. The bond had brought it on; not needing to remind her how strongly she felt for him but that a being as low as Ailshyia threatened it.

Your trust…” Esarhaddon only spoke by the time the tears fell. She was clearly trying to hold it back; not wanting to show such blatant weakness in front of him. It was Celesin after all and she was angry— her trust wounded while their tether to each other lost no strength and at all. Such a scenario could easily turn toxic if handled incorrectly. Self conscious at her quiet display of emotion she couldn't stop herself from turning from him; giving the emperor her back while first rubbing at her eyes and then clutching both hands together so tight they turned paler than normal.

“I will not be threatened by her. We will not be. Neither your daughter either, and you. This, all of this is the better we thought we all deserved. I do not want to lay eyes on the snake of a woman who betrayed you and her own bloodline. You should leave her to the mercy of her father.” She cursed herself for failing to choke back a sob and gave up on trying to hide it. Pride went out of the window. The King was hurt. “You speak of the bond between you and Daul as she is not your blood. Remember how that creature regarded her as well. When she would not speak— and still worshipped you.”

“I will not lose you. Not you.  Not to her. Now that I understand her intention and what sway she has over you. She will let you go or I will end her myself. I will use your own weapon to cleave her skull and spill the useless contents— she is unwise after all. Choosing to risk her existence...” Esarhaddon spoke through clenched teeth continued to fail to gather herself and couldn't seem to stop choking up; the darkness having reached her bare shoulders. “I love and I adore you more than anything. More than my hive— my family. Even more than what I invest in your empire at your side. I never needed to rule with you, I only wanted you.”

“You are not simply the best event in my short life, you are the only event with any importance at all….” she’d say. “The child we sired aside you are all that matters in my existence.”

“You confess you have a weakness for her. You are my weakness. That is why this hurts. It harms, it— “ She lost her words; closing her damp eyes tight and twisting her mouth briefly before stepping forward and closing the distance between them.

Esarhaddon didn’t embrace him, but, she did put herself close enough to lay her head against his solar plexus while he towered over her; his height dwarfing hers literally by a full foot. In that moment she wanted to be close to him but also wanted to rear back and strike him more than a few times. Instead, her fists were closed tight and shook at her sides.
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Re: A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Mesiphidon on Wed Jan 06, 2016 9:28 pm

Silence echoed through the halls for a short time after her words, for he had none to be spoken. At least not immediately. It was a precarious situation they had found themselves in, a situation many could never imagine of the Emperor. It seemed too... humane. But then it was only Esarhaddon, who ever truly saw the man behind the mask. Even his children only caught glimpses on occasion.

The silence, her distance embrace; it was enough given time to calm him. The dark flames of his eyes ebbed and sputtered until they had faded away to reveal in one of those rare moments the ocean blue of true sight. Only then did his gaze turn down to his beloved and he slowly pulled her closer. "Despite the facade we create, I am hardly infallible, you are the greatest testament to my weakness. It was not her that invoked my rage, but the thought that my actions would hurt you." A small sigh escaped his lips, despite his intentions he had harmed her. Hurt her. "I make no defense, I cannot forgive myself for shaking your faith, your trust, or your heart. Nor will I ask you forgiveness, I can only give word that it will not happen again."

Her words, her feelings her confession were not lost on him. Their bond only told him the true depths of what she had said. "Perhaps for now, we need not worry of her. But know this, I will vow here and now that should she return, should we cross paths again and her intentions are beyond platonic I will offer her lifeless form as a gift for Arcerion."

His head shook and his body trembled at the words, the vow he had invoked in her name. Never again, never would he allow anything to jeopardize his wife, to bring her harm. Even himself. His fists clenched and he took a deep staggering breath. Choking back the sob that had begged to escape. Breaking down, was not something he would allow himself to do. Even now. Firming his resolve as he let the calm wash over him, slowly but surely the white fire began to lace his sclera again. If she moved to hit him he would not stop her.

"I love you, and you alone." How she took his words he couldn't guess. If she chose to assault him he would not stop her, but he had nothing more he could say.
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Re: A modest proposal - Throne Room

Post by Esarhaddon on Sun Jan 10, 2016 5:13 am

It took some time for Esarhaddon to speak. While he had an iron resolve and couldn’t bear to show such gratuitous displays of emotion even around her, the King was not so steely— not even as much as Nebuchadnezzar could have claimed. Some time within placing her head against his chest she had lost her battle and had, at least briefly, began to sob. After a long moment she seemed to remember her station and straightened her shoulders; wet eyes and all.

“It is unbecoming of me to be so envious of her...not against your word. I know it is true.” she’d say; still making an admirable attempt to reel it in. “It is all I need.” Which was the absolute truth and not something meant to placate him. The King had to consider for a second that she hadn’t been built with the preternatural bond tethering herself and Mesiphidon in mind. It was alarming how strong it was and how it circumvented every quality of her design. Often, it frightened her. Even Konstantine had noted it was one of the few ‘unknown-unknown variables’ she was aware of. A true security risk of sort to herself and the hive— and yet she had not and would likely never consider seeing it as a problem in need of a solution.

As for hitting him? Esarhaddon performing such an act of violence against him was unthinkable even if it likely wouldn’t harm him. Striking him even in a rage would be grotesque and uncouth— too far outside her realm of acceptable behaviors. If he had voiced his expectation that she could assault him, it likely would have appalled her.

Instead...she actually laughed. Softly and with a tremble in her throat, but alas.

“As much as you do not seem to favor the Dorian Emperor I can’t imagine he would receive such a gift as an act of hostility…more of a blessing given toward his entire bloodline.” Smooth, soft hands eased around the bulk of his forearms to tug them around her waist; encouraging him to draw her close. Any rage Esarhaddon had been broiling with had evaporated the moment he had given his word and reminded her who his love and affection were meant for.

The King couldn’t deny she was easily toppled by him.

“I believe you, Mesiphidon. She is not worthy of your love. She had never earned it. That wretch is a vacuous, empty shell with a single ability to compromise your resolve. It will not be enough to sever us. Nothing is.” In his efforts to continue remaining stalwart Esar made it a point to acknowledge and honor the softness in him by standing taller on the balls of her feet to place her lips against his jugular; the most vulnerable part of any creature’s body. The contact was so soft it could hardly be called a kiss. After, she spoke against his skin.

“It’s already behind us. I forgive you.”


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