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All Hail the King

tortricidae Offline

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#11
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The tailor seemed to float away to work when Nathaniel shifted to allow Markus a better position. This was Markus's favorite way to sit on him usually and though Nathaniel loved the feeling of the things he owned showering him with appropriate affection, he was, indeed, distracted for now. He was a little put off by a lot of little things and when he receded into his own plans, he was chilly.

Markusis crooning brought him back, but he only huffed in response. "I am always exhausted, my love." He absently stroked Markus's cheeks. It was almost cute in a way. They seemed almost normal. "It comes with the territory. If I could shirk my responsibilities to dote on you, I would. But I have to clean up the city, don't I? And I have to attend festivities to keep up appearances."

Whatever he decided to wear that night was going to be burned as soon as he returned. The common filth was not allowed in this house. His house. He'd complete these minor obligations, and then in the morning, he would get to work. Start at the top and work his way down since these wealthy slobs couldn't keep the place organized between their lavish spending and exorbitant dullness.

"Maybe I should arrange for a meal in my honor. Something a little more filling than whatever flesh bags eat."

gabriel Offline

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#12
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Markus, ever uncaring of Nathaniel's moods, nipped his neck and slid a hand down his shirtfront. 

"If you did have a dinner in your honor, someone else would have to throw it for you. After all, it looks rather pathetic if you're hosting your own honorary dinner. Have one of your puppets do it, and have them follow, to the letter, your instructions so it is at least enjoyable." 

He spoke quietly, against the shell of Nathaniel's ear, and found a hand-hold against his bare skin. 

"Don't ignore me sweetness." 

With that, he rose and stretched his wings, then closed them around his body like a cloak. 

"The sky view of the place is miserable. The districts are hardly aesthetically pleasing. Some bulge, others are slivers. I want them to be a grid, or at least a pleasing hive."

tortricidae Offline

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#13
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"I wouldn't dream of ignoring you, Markus," Nathaniel said. "If I could polish you now, I absolutely would. A man standing at the precipice of his victory tends to get a little rough."

Markus was his trophy after all. One of the few things that Nathaniel liked to brag about and show off to others who simply could not touch him under any circumstances. How he'd hold those wings, pull that hair and wrap Markus completely around his fingers. Where he belonged. Bah! He had to snap out of this.

Nathaniel stood, taking Markus's face delicately into his hands, as to not bruise a perfect fruit. "I meant a different type of sustenance, my love. But you're still right. It will have to be another time unfortunately. You have to get dressed for the gala."

The tailor slid into the room, the garment neatly folded. There would be no wrinkles in sight once Markus had put the garment on, but they sincerely hoped that it was to the corvid's liking. Creating new fashions ahead of their time was a difficult undertaking and the tailor had gone through a number of attempts to mold the fabric into something that was deserving of Markus's body. There would be hell to pay otherwise.

Markus's observations were filed away for later use. Nathaniel would get around to it. A neat grid wasn't a bad idea. He gave Markus a quick kiss. Well, maybe a few more than just one...

He had his outfit custom made long before the election even happened. As a runner for the "public office", his clothing needed to reflect a certain conservative charm. Pitch the perfect balance, and still hide that annoying tail that was immune to his other form. Nathaniel could have pranced about in all his natural glory, but he was a terrifying beast to behold.

More fitting for his personality, but not much of a hit in the polls.

The outfit was rather simple in design. Timeless in cut and fit, and perfectly matched the sash that was mandatory to conceal his tail. As the time for the gala grew near, Nathaniel's energy seemed to crackle off of him. It was almost time to shine again. To show off his beautiful husband and begin planting seeds to sow later.

gabriel Offline

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#14
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Markus made a purring noise in his throat and took the garment from the tailor greedily. He unfolded it, and put it on rather quickly, getting the hang of the thing without needing too much looking or coaching. It was very nearly a gown, longer than a traditional tunic, shorter than a dress. It was backless, with a bit that fastened around high up his neck, and flowed over his chest. At the waist, on either side, there was an asymmetrical triangular split. Without wearing trousers, his long legs were exposed from the waist down. The fabric artfully concealed his groin and backside. Fortunately, the tailor seemed to know that Markus needed to look respectable, and had put together a pair of inky black pants that fit him like a second skin. Markus danced in place, then slipped his feet into the thigh high royal blue boots that had somehow appeared just for him. 

A wing-stretch, gather all his hair to one side, do a regular stretch, and he was ready. 

Except not. 

"I need to accessorize. Excuse me, sweetness, tailor." 

He was already covering ground, gliding to the door with his effortlessly graceful gait. 

"Oh, keep the tailor on staff. I like him." 

And he was gone, ready to throw on all the bits of beautiful gold he could find.

tortricidae Offline

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#15
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Markus was like an angel in his grace and etherealness. The tailor had done one hell of a job. If Nathaniel hadn't known any better, he might have even thought that Markus was an angel this whole time. Though without question, an angel that had fallen. Angels didn't think like Markus thought. Angels weren't possessive and callous.

"Save room for one more," Nathaniel said as Markus exited. He looked to the tailor. "You're hired. Find yourself a cupboard and make yourself at home. You'll have a lot of work ahead of you but I'll make sure he doesn't get too out of hand."

Nathaniel had no intention of doing anything like that. Markus couldn't be controlled, or rather, Nathaniel wouldn't try to control him. Not that he even had to. They were perfect for each other and once the first day or real work started, this blasie banter would very much become a twisted and cruel competition. Nathaniel was ready.

He fetched a fancy little box from the bedroom dresser. It was silver and tied with a sheer ribbon. Nathaniel had been holding onto it for an occasion like this, where not only would he be able to bless his husband with the finest jewelry, he'd be able to show off one of the rarest jewels in Xira. For a city on a delta, that was an impressive feat.

Once pristine and sporting all the confidence of a soon-to-be tyrant, Nathaniel stood in the frontmost foyer. Impatient, but not too impatient.

gabriel Offline

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#16
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Markus arrived in a timely manner, sporting a single earring with a blood red gem, a collection of bracelets, though only on one arm, an armband, and a collection of rings in all manner of styles, though all the stones within were red. Though Markus was supposed to be the harmless husband of one of the most powerful men in the city, often presenting himself as slightly ditsy but well-meaning, he always did like to discomfit the masses with his choices. The blood red would remind them of his cruelly cold looks. Markus was exactly what he looked like, but half the lie was pageantry, and he could perform with the best of them. 

He wore no necklaces, because he'd had a hunch as to what his husband would gift him, and trotted over to him, close enough for a quick peck on the lips and a quick grab for the box.

He was ever the raven.

tortricidae Offline

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#17
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"You won't even wait for me to butter you up?" Nathaniel asked, faking offense. "How typical of you."

He kept the box just out of reach, and presented it carefully before pulling the ribbon off and letting it fall to the floor. The silver box had silver hinges just barely visible unless you were looking closely enough at it. Nathaniel opened the box and within lay a silk lining brimming with magic that kept the actual piece floating so that no matter the abuse to the box itself, the jewel would never break.

It was a beautiful piece. Carved ruby from the deepest caverns in the mountains. Metalsmithing only a dwarf could possibly master, and lined with runes along the edge. It gave the illusion of curling like fire, and - though Nathaniel wouldn't tell him - was fully capable of releasing some of that magic as a defense mechanism. Nathaniel would tell Markus eventually, but it was safer if he didn't.

He fished the jewel out. It was attached to a chain that felt unnaturally flexible, given the metal work. He unhooked the clasp, hung it around Markus's neck and kissed him as he fastened it back.

"There. Now we can go."

The door opened of its own accord. There was a carriage waiting for them attached to western dragons who did city work by pulling cargo and carriages. Apparently they charged quite a bit, but whatever they were hauling would make it to its destination safely. It was a luxury that only the most elite could afford. For Nathaniel, these dragons were paying off a debt from a hundred years ago to some person named Geoffrey. They were able to stay in the city and raise their families, and Nathaniel had transportation bodyguards.

He treated them well after all. You can twist someone's arm and treat them well at the same time if you did your twisting under a different name.

They arrived without incident. Of course they did.

The gala was not just to celebrate a new city leader. It was an opportunity for all the top socialites and governing officials to rub elbows with the man who called the shots, and to do a little underhanded business at the same time if they were that kind of governing official. And if they weren't? They would be replaced. Or killed. Or both.

"You're going to want to get out first, my love," Nathaniel said. "Make the first statement in your new role as 'the fashionable one' of the leaders. Corvids first."

gabriel Offline

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#18
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Markus had controlled himself the entire ride, which was saying something. He did not often keep himself from what he wanted, but today was about making lasting impressions, and he knew that Nathaniel wanted to make a power statement. This was permanent, this election, and if it was permanent, that meant that they were permanent. As such, they couldn't come out of the carriage debauched. It would set the wrong tone, surely. So, he satisfied himself with a lingering kiss just before stepping out of the carriage. 

He took only a few steps forward, and stretched his wings, carefully arranging them on his back and pretending to unlimber from a long ride. Truthfully, he was as relaxed as could be, and was merely showing off his lithe man-form, waiting for Nathaniel to be at his side so he could take his arm and accompany him inside. His was the role the others were to underestimate. His focus on fashion was a deterrent. They would think he was not as intelligent, that all he was was a trophy husband, that he was superficial, materialistic and harmless. 

He was a lot of things, and most of what they would think was true, save that he was wicked smart, possessed of a cold, cruel intellect. His partnership with Nathaniel had been about base desire, but the longer he'd stayed with the man, the more he'd felt like he was where he belonged. The city was Nathaniel's gift to him, and Markus would enjoy watching his husband polish it pretty for him. 

Everything and everyone else was irrelevant, pawns on the board to be manipulated and observed. He needn't dirty his hands, just collect information and disseminate it for Nathaniel.

tortricidae Offline

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#19
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Nathaniel exited the carriage as soon as it was appropriate. It was like the two of them had rehearsed the whole ordeal before actually taking part. Markus made his impression, the crowd was amazing and had fallen in love, and Nathaniel was right by Markus's side, arm in arm and as flawless as it was possible to be. The naysayers were poisoned and the gala began with a massive upswing of energy.

Everybody wanted to talk to them both. About different things of course, but nevertheless, all the false smiles and fake lifestyles were easily distinguishable from genuine potential allies and indifferent fat cats who could be persuaded later. Nathaniel didn't want Markus straying too far, lest some fool say something off hand and Markus gets snippy.

Target number one was the proverbial governor of the wealthiest district. Seliel's "government" was a flimsy parchment on a wet blanket and had no form of routine or way to create and maintain laws. Start from the top and work down.

"Governor Ramsey," Nathaniel said, letting go of Markus for the first time that night to shake Ramsey's hand. "Nice to see you could make it."

"Cheers to your victory, Nate," Ramsey replied. The man was drunk already but was rather well put together for now. "I take it you're ready to get to work. Don't wanna waste any time, yeah? Good show. You have my support one hundred percent."

Nathaniel smiled. It was a hair under wicked and he patted Ramsey's hand sympathetically. "I'm gonna hold you to it, Governor. Don't drink too much tonight."

Once Ramsey toddled away with his wife, Nathaniel whispered to Markus under his breath, "I hate all of these useless figureheads. Dance with me."

gabriel Offline

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#20
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Markus had known Mrs. Ramsey for longer than Nathaniel had known Ramsey himself. The woman was a genuine ray of sunshine, philanthropic but sadly a bit too trusting and naive. She was perfect fodder for Markus, whose only delight was gossiping. It was Mrs. Ramsey's weakness, gossip, and Markus exploited that weakness as often as he could, subtly weaving his agenda in their conversation. By the time they left each other's company, Mrs. Ramsey had a few new ideas to nag her husband about, and a philanthropic project she was sure was going to help the disadvantaged. 

Unfortunately, Nathaniel was very short-tempered at these sorts of events. He did not have the patience to rub elbows, and was far too powerful to care for small-talk and flattery. No matter, however, he would soon be the tyrant they were all trying to please and appease. Because Nathaniel had no patience for babble, Markus only had time to make nice and arrange another visit before the Ramseys were dismissed. 

Gently he rested his hands on Nathaniel's shoulders and pretended to dust them off before settling his hands. 

"I would like nothing more than to dance with you right now. Perhaps it will calm your nerves." 

A warning. Nathaniel was being a tad too aggressive, not with Markus, he liked that sort of thing. Rather, his governing class.


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