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Command and Control

Kila Offline

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#51
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"GODS!" screamed Charlie, throwing her hands above her head. How could he be so stupid!? She whirled around to face him once again, red hair blazing as if it were and fire, and marched right up to Vioroll as she stuck a finger to his chest. "From you! How many times do I have to say it before you understand?" She felt her throat growing hoarse in her exasperation. "At least you can fucking admit that you're a terrible father." She was shaking even more now, and her face was scrunched up in anger. Her eyes were burning with tears again, and those hot angry drops began rolling down her scarlet cheeks again.

"When I have a child, I'll know exactly how to not treat them." There was icy venom in Charlie's words. She sniffled and drew a hand up to her face to wipe away hot tears, her eyes once again red and puffy. "I can't be around you right now, Dad..." she croaked. "Just... just really think about what I've said to you..."

The demon princess willed herself to fade away, and so she did. Her form disappeared from sight, the only sign she'd even been there were the imprints left by her feet in the gravel, and the gravel being kicked up in her wake as she hurried off. Soon even that disappeared, and Vioroll was left alone with nothing but the echos of his daughter's pained words.

King Fury Offline

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#52
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Back in her room, a raven was flitting around to make sure everything was clean and ready for Charlie's return. The raven flitted over to the bed and stopped, looking it up and down, before checking to make sure all her clothes had been cleaned and readied for the next day.

~~

Vioroll sat in shock as she vanished. He hadn't expected any of this. Not her blowing up, not her lack of understanding, nothing. I really am a bad father. The realization helped him little, because he had no idea how to go about correcting it. Z'laenna wouldn't be any help, and where he could go was also sadly limited. The shrine to Vaeroth was all he could think of. If the god wanted her to succeed, maybe he'd offer insight to make sure of it.

Vioroll stood after a few minutes, then opened a portal and went to the shrine as quickly as he could.

Kila Offline

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#53
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No one paid any mind to Charlie as she stormed through the fortress and back to her room. In fact they couldn't see her at all.

And that was just how Charlie wanted it.

The servants didn't need to see her puffy, red eyes still wet with tears, and if any had been unfortunate enough to see her she would have ordered them killed. But that was the advantage of being able to turn invisible. No one could see you unless you wanted them to.

The stairs up to her room were blissfully silent, and she allowed herself to blink back into visibility as she threw open her door and stepped past the threshold. She gave no attention to the raven--who was a regular presence, along with other ravens who flocked to her windows for scraps in exchange for whatever shiny trinkets they had found--and made a beeline straight for her bed, where she threw herself face first into its luxurious covers.

"He's so fucking stupid!" was all she could scream into her bed.

--

The temple was exactly how the demon lords had left it after their meeting. It was exceptionally quiet within its sultry walls, and no one was present aside from the shrine's lone priestess. She was dressed in a gown so deep a purple that it looked black, with a lace collar that covered her neck. Her pale arms were covered by long gloves in the same color as the gown, and she wore a black lace veil that not only obscured her eyes, but her hair as well. For all the demon lords knew she was a fellow demon, her scent heavily disguised by her dragon's blood and copious amounts of incense. If they knew she was an angel, well... Aolani didn't care to find out.

She had her back turned to Vioroll as he entered the temple, but she could smell the change in the air as he entered; it was fresh, very different from the incense perfumed air in the temple. A cloth was held in her hands as she busied herself polishing the temple's altar, usually something reserved for the lower acolytes. But Aolani was different, and took pride in keeping the temple pristine by her own hands.

She paused in her work, though didn't turn around to face the lord, and said, "My lord, if you're here to speak with Her Ladyship, I'm afraid she's resting and not taking any visitors. Unless..." She turned to face Vioroll with her scrupulous gaze.

"Unless you've come for another reason, My Lord?" There was something knowing about her words; like she knew the demon had come for another reason.

King Fury Offline

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#54
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There was a momentary flash in Charlie's room, and the Raven turned into a woman with large wings. "What did he do this time?" Her voice was soft and gentle. She sat on the side of the bed, a massive breach of decorum but one that she'd been doing Charlie's whole life. "Trust me, it'll feel better to talk about it."

~~

Vioroll paused at the door, hesitating as he pondered what to say. "I... may have made a mistake earlier. Involving my daughter. I need advice."

Kila Offline

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#55
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"Uuuuuuugh," Charlie groaned dramatically into her duvet again. "What hasn't he done?" This time she spoke as she rolled onto her back, staring vacantly at the ceiling. With a hand she pulled the mask off her face, letting it hang loosely around her neck. She was used to Riath sitting on her bedside--she'd long been told that the servant had been her wet nurse when she was no bigger than a loaf of bread--so the breach of status meant nothing to her. Riath was more of a mother to her than her real mother, wherever that bitch may have gone off to.

"So first, the training? Sucks. I'm awful at magic, and no matter how hard I try I just don't get it! No amount of lunaria that Auntie gives me helps, no amount of meditation works, and Father's vague descriptions don't help me tap into my inner magic, or whatever it's supposed to be." Charlie was talking with her hands, eyes still boring a hole into the ceiling above her bed. "But that's not so much to do with him as it does my own failing as a royal, hahaha!" Her laugh was high and almost desperate; like a dam cracking at the seams before a flood of water.

The demon princess dragged her hands down her face slowly, dragging the skin under her eyes and on her cheeks along as her fingertips ran past. "Father just... he doesn't understand me. He keeps talking about how proud he is of me, even when I was just out there sobbing to him with a bleeding heart over how I feel like I'm not good enough for him because of how distant he was with me as a child! How am I supposed to he loves me or that he's proud of me when he never fucking says anything to me?" She threw her hands up in desperation before allowing them to fall to her sides with a muffled whumpf. She found herself rubbing her eyes again, further aggrivating the red, puffy skin around them.

"Like, all he ever did when I was growing up was make me train until I couldn't stand, and then make me do it more. He was so hard on me that I just had to be perfect... and now he doesn't see how maybe, just maybe it's because of that that I feel like he regrets having me?" Charlie was struggling with the lump in her throat, and her voice was quivering as a result, straining against her urge to break down again. "I even told him that I needed emotional support from my family, and he just looks at me and has the balls to say "From your aunt?" Like SERIOUSLY? Gods, it's like he doesn't even listen when I talk!" She shot up into a sitting position, her fingers knit furiously into her blankets.

"And I think the worst part is that he keeps bringing up my mother, even though I've asked him to stop talking about someone who didn't even love me enough to stick around..." Charlie rubbed her eyes again, sniffling softly. "He expects me to care about her or something, but it's just infuriating! I'm sick of it! I'm sick of being expected to be perfect, I'm sick of him mentioning someone who's never had anything to do with my life, and I'm just..." she trailed off and sighed. "I'm just so tired, Riath..."

----

"A mistake, you say?" Aolani mused to no one in particular. She waved Vioroll over before addressing him directly, "Come along, My Lord. We'll speak somewhere more secluded, I should think. Sometimes these walls have ears..." The veiled woman began to walk, pocketing the cloth she'd been using to polish the stature of their god. It was a short walk to a small offside room, clearly meant to be a place for the acolytes of the shrine to take a quick rest. The woman locked the door on the far side, before returning to the door she'd come through and locking it once Vioroll had entered.

"Please take a seat, My Lord. Tell me your problems while I make up some tea." Aiolani gestured to a comfortable looking chair before busying herself with a kettle over the fire.

King Fury Offline

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#56
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Riath listened silently for a time. If Charlie had been paying attention, she might have noticed the woman tense at the mention of her mother. Even so, Riath waited for her to finish, letting her release the pent up frustration. It wasn't the first time she'd done this, and she knew that Charlie would give her a chance to respond soon enough.

When Charlie did settle down, Riath reached forward with a small cloth to help clean her eyes. It was another thing Riath had learned to do, couple comforting gestures with what was typical for her job to dodge any complaints about decorum. "Your father isn't good at expressing emotions. He hasn't been the entire time I've known him. I know many fathers favor being somewhat distant, but Lord Vioroll honestly doesn't know how to be anything else. Expressing feelings is dangerous in your aunt's court, as you well know." There was just the slightest hint of scolding in her tone, but it was gone as soon as it came.

"Your father... should not have had to raise you alone. No matter how well he means, he simply doesn't have the ability to do the jobs of two parents. He hardly can do one. That's why he hired me on, after all." Riath smiled, though it was tainted by some sadness she couldn't say.

Riath paused again, her expression falling, before settling into an unreadable mask. "He... mentioned your mother? What did he say about her?"

~~

Vioroll sat down quietly, trying to put his words in order. "Vaerath has appointed my daughter as heir to War, and my sister has given me the task of preparing her for the role. Starting with training in the family magic. It... has been going poorly. Until today, she couldn't manage anything. She showed some progress, and managed to completely restrict me in the middle of a rant that turned into a breakdown, but everything just kept getting worse after that."

He paused, trying to figure out what to ask. "I don't know how to reach out to her. I... haven't been the greatest parent, and I'm worried I'm going to lose her forever."

Kila Offline

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#57
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Scolded for showing emotions. Even if it was brief, and typical, it unsettled her. Having to swallow all her emotions all the time... it was no wonder everyone in this godsforsaken fortress was so messed up. It was something she hadn't noticed until she'd started spending time in Kurai's bed, and the pieces slowly began falling into place. The princess could hardly control her scoff at the scolding.

Charlie rested her elbow on her knee, and her chin on her palm as she gazed past Riath, not wanting to look at the other woman. More talk of what should have been. More talk of the past...

She gave a sigh and spoke dismissively, "Nothing more than empty promises of what should have been. Happy words of a childhood I should have had. Of a happy family that's nothing more than an echo of a dream. Of Auntie being in love and happy." She scoffed again as her face twisted in bitter contempt. "It's all empty words," she spat, her eyes narrowed into slits. "Why bother telling me what could have been, as if it'll somehow bandage this facade we're all living in."

The demoness turned and swung her legs over the side of her bed, and rose to her feet with purpose. Drawing one of her dark blades and twirling it thoughtfully in her hand, Charlie's expression became one of contemplation, though her eyes were hard and steely as they focused on the polished edge of the blade. With a trained flick of the wrist she hurled the dagger into an ornamental tapestry that hung by the window, one depicting some great long ago battle. She stalked over silently and curled her fingers around the blood red hilt of the dagger. Her face scrunched up into a snarl, her brows knitting together as she roared in fury and drove the dagger through the tapestry until it had been cut clean in half. And then she did it again and again until the tapestry was nothing more than ribbons.

"This place is a prison, and when I rule it's going to change," she hissed bitterly.

--

"I see," Aolani replied sagely as she gathered a cup for herself and Vioroll. Leaving the tea to steep for a moment, the woman allowed herself to ponder his words, the look of thought etched into her pale features. She poured him a cup and presented it to him, "It's very hot, My Lord," was all she said in cursory warning, before she prepared her own cup of tea.

Taking a seat across from the demon lord and folding her legs as though she were a delicate court lady, Aolani sipped at her tea until she felt she had had enough time to digest his problems and deliver a suitable answer.

"Parenting is never easy, My Lord," she began. Another sip of her tea. "You hold your daughter to high standards, as is to be expected from royalty. You hold her to what you were held to; a long family tradition to be part of." She leaned forward in her seat and held out the cup of tea in her delicate hand, her fingers squeezing the porcelain tightly.

"But the thing is... the harder you hold onto something, the more you try and restrain it..." The cup began to crack under her freakish grip, and yet Aolani continued to crush it beneath her grip. Finally it shattered, sending beady drops of hot tea and shards of white porcelain spraying down to the floor. "...the more likely it is to break." She shook her hand, which showed no sign of injury.

"What your daughter needs from you is you, My Lord," she said plainly. "Perhaps you may not have been the best parent, but it is never to late to change. It's not my place to act as though I know what your relationship with your daughter is, My Lord, but from what it sounds like you're pushing her to be something she's not. Maybe what she needs from you is acceptance and a guiding hand, and not a harsh teacher. But I am not a parent, I'm a priestess." Aolani stood up and waved a hand to sweep away the mess she had created. "And my advice to you is to give both of you time to breathe and think. A little introspection goes a long way..."

King Fury Offline

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#58
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Riath chuckled, even though she was annoyed at the destroyed tapestry. "Good. Things will need to change around here. And when you know how it could be, it gives you something to work toward." She walked up behind Charlie and put a hand on her back comfortingly. "You have gone through far more than anyone should have had to, but what happens now entirely depends on you."

The demoness paused, then plucked a moth that was flitting around out of the air. "Everything that's happened to you has shaped you, but what happens now is your choice. Your aunt may not like what you do, but you will be the heir and the future will be decided by you, if you are willing to work for it."

~~

Vioroll didn't flinch at the shattered cup. "It is difficult to balance what I want to see her become with what my sister demands of her." He let out a long sigh. "I fear that the two will start to clash, and they will tear each other apart."

Kila Offline

Sphinx Queen

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#59
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Charlie groaned at Riath's words. "I don't need to know how things could have been in order to know how I want them to be now." She waved a hand dismissively. "What could have been is a past fantasy, and could never have been anyway. But you're right about one thing..." she trained off, staring out her tower window to the world beyond the castle grounds. "I know what I want, and I'll work until I get it. Auntie be damned."

She clenched her fist at her side, teeth clenched tightly. "I don't care what she has planned for me. I refuse to be a pawn in her twisted little game."

--

"Then don't balance," Aolani said plainly. "If your sister's expectations are so unattainable, it sounds to me as though she's setting the girl up for failure. After all, one with a broken spirit is easier to control than one who thinks for themselves." The woman paced for a moment before settling back into her chair across from Vioroll. "Make her strong enough to weather whatever tricks your sister has planned. If she's the heir, she's the future. And while our kind may live forever, I believe we both know that's not usually the case."

King Fury Offline

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#60
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Riath smiled proudly. Charlie had grown so much. "Good. I want you to know that, if you need me, I'll be there for you. I'm not your aunt's servant, I'm yours." Technically, she was Vioroll's servant, but that hadn't been relevant since Charlie learned how to talk. She walked over to the girl and gave her a quick hug. "That much, at least, I can promise you."

~~

Vioroll nodded. "Making her strong may be a challenge, since trying to do that is what caused this in the first place. Perhaps if I were to draw my sister's attention away from her for a time?" He was mostly thinking out loud, but it was still a question if Aolani had a recommendation.


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