Controlled Opposition

(This is just gonna be a small spin off rp of ‘The Crowning Moment’ starting off of The Crowning Moment - #49 by Cowlass )

The Kemonomimi arch-princess stared at the Elven queen. Nervously she waved hello. ‘Do I kotow or do I just bow?’ Her eyes didn’t waiver from looking at the enshrined spirit, the queen of the Aikkian. Her mind was fried with internal debate, how does one show respect to an enshrined spirit? What is her position on it? Do they rule or do they give advice to the government? What is the right decision, her choice here could outline how Musetszna viewed enshrined spirits for centuries? Is she even qualified to make this decision? She should ask the Brewmasters council for advice or maybe just the Shinekeeper of Musetszna? She was truly paralyzed, staring idiotically at the queen.

The Queen with several of her lifetimes of experience tired of waiting for a response after several minutes of the arch-princess staring at her as if she was a ghost. Taking a seat across from her, making herself comfortable. Well as comfortable as one could be in a land as warm as this distant land could be. “How fare you? I trust you been well.”

Ny’Hjøran gave a small spirit thanks to the spirits, that the queen walked past whatever she was supposed to do when greeting an enshrined spirit. “I won’t lie, I have been troubled.” She says, flying passes the normalized tradition of small talk.

The queen raised an eyebrow, not quite expecting such honesty from the kemonomimi. Now trapped by social norms to ask her what is wrong rather than getting to the point of their meeting. “Oh? What ail you to trouble you so much.”

“Well, I hoped you could help me with it. I have been troubled for the past months about the Akuan Conference, and far more. What is an Akuanist? We are so divided on so many issues, stories, customs and so much. We act like a culture or in some cases like a ethnic group but we are called a religion. Which we are a religion but are we a religion that has so many different ways of practicing it. Are we a religion made up of vaguely similar religions?” The arch-princess spoke freely, perhaps far too freely. Airing out what troubles her mind rather than being a reasonable ruler and simply bottling her feelings up in service of her realm.

The queen kept silent for a few moments, studying the face of the moderately panicked going through a mental crisis of faith. “Akuanist is an Akuanist.” She spoke in a flat, cold tone typical of Aikkian nobility. “Though we have similar concerns of the Akuan Conference, as does the third member of our trio.” She raised her hand to request a drink from a nearby feline servant. “Perhaps the shepherds should take a leading role in the situation.”

The Mustetine royalty gave a confused look. “What do you mean the third member of our trio? Do you mean the three big families? Also what does shepherds have to do with theological conference? As far as I am aware, they don’t have any special privileges in the conference.”

The confused look both annoyed the queen and concerned her. Has her father and grandmother not informed her of the existence of the shepherds? Not to mention slightly lacking in ability to keep up to say it politely. Of course she is talking about house Bjørn, who else had their level of influence in the religion. “Yes, we speak of house Bjørn.” She took a sip of her black tea infused with wine. “They are part of the shepherds are they not?” Perhaps the kemonomimi mind is simply muddled with her mental troubles.

Prince Ulahid steps into the conversation with two cups of hot chocolate in hand. Smile on his face which kept on his face as he looked at the Aikkian queen, though he felt the cold aura stimming from her. ‘I thought all Akuanists are always so cheerful?’ He thought to himself, taking a seat next to his wife, handing her a hot beverage. “Your royal highness, Queen Halein of Aikthudr’zhur, how are you? Did you enjoy the wedding?” He gives her a charming smile only receiving a stoic response.

“We fair well this day. The wedding is a grand display.” The Aikkian elf looked over at the princeling feline.

The prince couldn’t figure out if the queen was saying the wedding was a good thing or not by her tone alone. Giving an awkward shift in his seat. “Ah, that is good to hear then.” He takes a sip of his drink. “So, what do you think of my homeland? Save the weather of course.”

“It is different from home.” She coolly said, “I don’t venture out from Aikthudr’zhur often, the spirits here feel different as well.” She sips her wine, looking at the passing desert landscape. “They are old, as all spirits are but they speak of the sands more than the forests.”

The arch-princess shifted in her seat. “Spirits are not gentle here, they bring harsh winds but they mean well.” She held her husband’s hand under the table. The kemonomimi has felt the presence of spirits before, but an enshrined spirit? She must be as connected to the spirits as she is able to speak to her.

“Spirits who are gentle are rare and as precious as the finest jewel. During my time here, we have not felt such a kind spirit. In the capital, we only felt those who have yearned for the return of dwellings they used to inhabit.” She shakes her head, “Spirits who are not kept pleased are rarely kind to those that dare to draw near.”

The prince tried to give a smile but it became awkward, wanting to join in a conversation he spoke up. “So Bingol was not to your liking? Too much traffic I say.”

“It is as if we were visiting Kyinster, after the war.” She shakes her head in disappointment. “We speak not of traffic, but of the nature of the city.”

“Ah, I understand now.” The prince did not understand any of it. Figuring it was some Akuan thing, the city probably just didn’t have enough parks to the Queen’s liking. His understanding of an enshrined spirit was limited to understanding that it was a way for monarchs to have power over Akuanists in religious matters. Akuanists are fickle creatures, treating everything as almost religious in nature down to baking bread. They give respect to some tiny wooden arch they kept on a shelf before the day of work began.

The Mustetine however, knew full well that an enshrine spirit was far more just a title. It was an infusion of the spirit of the queen and the spirit themself. The body was just a structure, a house for the two. The queen’s spirit is in charge, but the spirit of the Eastern winds swell around her, advising her in quiet ways. Shift in the wind here, leaf blow there and shuffle in the trees over yonder. Spirits work in ways beyond words but with actions, no matter how small or big. Words are fickle things for spirits. According to the stories of old, the spirits speak in stories and legends. Some older Akuanists, in particular elves, have kept true to it as part of Nys’tat’en. Speaking longly in stories to express their point or discuss things. “Do you believe you will have time to visit the nature preserve outside of the capital?”

"We fear not, the throne calls for me and there is much work to be done for the conference. We will be departing after the arrangements.” The Aikkian elf held a calm tone about them.

“Might I ask a question?” The Princeling sipped his drink.

“You may ask.”

“Why are you referring to yourself as we?” The princeling felt his arm being punched by his wife. Turning his head to get a good look at his extremely upset wife. Quickly turning his head over to the Queen, “Forgive me if it was a rude question. I am ignorant of Aikkian customs.”

The queen stared into the feline’s eyes. Watching him squirm for a moment as his wife spoke up in his defense. “My apologies for my husband, he is unaware of the enshrined.”

“It is understandable, we shouldn’t be upset by those without wisdom or knowledge as it is written.” The Aikkian spoke in a steady tone. “We are of two spirits, bound in a single vessel.”

“Ah, that explains it. Again, I apologize deeply if I seemed rude.” The Feline wanted to assure that his apology came across well, mostly so his wife wouldn’t be so upset at him. He never saw her so upset, she was more upset than the time he decided to take a rock from a shrine outside the capital. She never actually punched his arm though, she just expressed her displeasure with her words and turned the car around so he could place it back in the particular spot.

“All is well, young one.” The Aikkian queen spoke calmly.

The prince wanted to say he was not young, however he held his tone. Given this is an elf we are talking about, and not a Norgsveltian one. One of those elves from Novaris, who knows how old she actually is. He was not socially unaware enough to ask her age either. “Might I ask another question then?”

“You may ask us another question.”

“If I may, I understand the Akuan conference is exclusively for Akuanists, however I would like to be allowed access into the conference to support my wife. I promise not to get in the way or give any speeches but I simply would like to be able to give my wife support during the event.” The prince held his wife’s hand, rubbing his thumb against the top of his hand.

His wife held her tongue, she wanted him to be with him in that building. Speaking in front of a crowd never was her strong suit, even more so when it was in front of people she knew not only disagreed with her but would actively voiced their disagreements to her directly. Such was the way of the Akuanist, to argue, to disagree but ultimately come together regardless of the situation. What some would call a schism, the Akuanists would simply just call differences in opinion and move on.

“No, the conference is by Akuanists and for Akuanism. There is simply no room for suggestions of favoritism of other faiths in our conference. Even if it is for support of one of their others. Less we risk tainting the conference purpose.” The queen didn’t flinch in her refusal of him, despite the sad look of the arch-princess as she spoke. The prince gave a sad look as well, despite his attempt to look strong in the endeavor.

“I suppose that is fair, my wife is strong and I am confident she will prove victorious in the debates.” He gave a smile, looking at his wife.

The Aikkian raised an eyebrow, the first expression she actually gave during this whole discussion. “The conference is not about winning or who is right. It is about getting to the most correct version of the truth.”

“And my wife has the most correct truth there is.” He beams with pride at his wife, who seems embarrassed about it all, her face becoming flushed with red.

The queen held her tongue, “If you believe so, the conference will judge her words.” She kept silent, waiting to see if the Packilvanian would speak again. Instead an awkward silence fell onto the table. “Your wife and I were in the middle of a sensitive discussion, I don’t wa-” She was cut off by the prince.

“Oh, my apologies, I will take my leave.” Wanting nothing more than to get out of the discussion. All this talk about religion that he doesn’t share, not to mention just how awkward it has been. He quickly leaves the table, heading over to another train car to find someone to speak with while his wife is busy with Akuanist matters, or was it state? He didn’t wait long enough to find out.

The two other royals watched him leave so quickly. The arch-princess gave a sign, “My apologies on his behalf, he is a bit shy and awkward at times. Even more so when it comes to religious matters that are not Paxism.”

“I was simply telling him that we were arranging a meeting when we came to a stop. I already arranged a video call with our third member, and I would like him not to hear the name of them to save face.” The elven woman stared at the strange feline leaving so strangely.


[Adrien, Ashura, Packilvania]
[Hotel LuWaduman]
[23 January 2023]

The Arch-Princess and the Queen sat across from each other at a small dining table on the rooftop of the hotel. The rooftop had been cleared out so the two could eat dinner in private, well alleged privacy. This is Packilvania after all, it is safe to presume there are a plethora of ways the Packilvanians could be listening to their conversation. As such words have to be carefully spoken before being spoken.

Though this is just going to be perfectly normal average conversation. No state secrets or discussion of secret society will be spoken, however one of the reasons they wished for a quiet place. The queen had her bodyguard stand by the table, holding up a tablet facing the royals.

“We’re just waiting on him right?” Ny’Hjøran scratched her arm nervously, looking down at her dish. It is a traditional Mustetine with a fusion of Packilvanian, it is the usual Mustetine curry dish with white rice and sliced pax fruits that’s been fried with peanut oil. She stared at the food, holding her chopsticks. Completely overthinking the concept of if this was an Akuan dish or fusion dish, how many dishes are made from intermixing dishes? If you use a fish from the Mustetine seas, roast it in a proper fashion with Packilvanian spices and then use curry of Akuan origin. Is it still an Akuan dish, despite using Packilvanian spices? What if you only use a few drops of Packilvanian spices, is it then a fusion of the two still? These Mustetine dishes came from Borea, but it was changed from the original Borean design with her culture’s own additions to it. Is it Borean-Mustetine fusion then? Borean-Mustetine-Packilvanian fusion?

“Indeed, we are waiting on the Jarl.” The queen spent farless attention on her food. It was simple sustenance for her, rather than a young life crisis in a bowl. “Is the food satisfactory young one?”

Ny’Hjøran perked her head up, “Oh, I do. Sorry, just I was thin-” Thankfully she was cut off before she started to spiral into a mental crisis. The tablet started to turn on, a familiar elven man appeared on the box. Armed with a famous Bjørn smile, he spoke in a warm tone.

“May the warm tiding carry your souls ashore." Jørgen spoke with a friendly and warm tone.

“May the Winds guide your soul home, always Jarl.” The Aikkian queen held her usual cold tone.

“Oh hi Jørgen!” Ny’Hjøran spoke with a degree of glee, and gave a smile. Thanking the spirits for a friendly face among the rather imitating people around her and across.

Jørgen gave a polite cough, covering his mouth hoping the Arch-Princess would understand. She did not.

“How are you, I haven’t talked to you in ages. Is everything running well with the bank?” The Kemonomimi had a cheerful tone.

“Yes, things are running well of course.” Jørgen smiled at her through the lens of the tablet. "The Development Bank is up from last quarter but that is not what is important.” He looks over towards the Aikkian Queen.

The queen’s quiet ire to the unprofessionalism of Arch-Princess could be felt across the table. The Mustetine shifted in her seat, quietly muttering an apology. The queen’s gaze turned towards the tablet now, speaking softly “I believe we should start with finding a more proper locale for meeting, the three should cross paths once more.”

“Ah, perhaps we should meet in Vakrestrender. Meeting at the Akuan Development Bank headquarters.” The jarl suggested.

“Perhaps not, I believe it would be wise if we move towards a different venue. Less it appears the three favors the one.” Aikkian replied in a cautious tone, rather not give Bjørns more influence. “Would Quattiolzna be suitable?”

The jarl shakes his head, “No, I would like to have an Akuan Development Bank office or headquarters. It provides a cover for our meeting outside of general pleasantries. Besides that, this is the first time we are meeting properly, it should be in an Akuan majority country.” The first true time they all met was for his family’s funeral. This would be the first real in-person meeting of the three families, at least for the Jarl and the Arch-Princess.

“Perhaps Aikthudr’zhur then?” The queen suggested, taking a bite out of their food.

“I would be concerned that it could look like we are attempting to influence the conference before it happens. I wanted to bring in some figures for us to have a discussion with.” Jørgen rested his head on his chin. “I believe it’s time we have a discussion with the Boreans, they are stable enough to bring into the fold.”

“I have stated my opinion once before, and now I will do it twice. Do not make me have to do it thrice. Boreans are an unknown factor we cannot risk with. I can understand your unique relationship with the Fyllikenkrasjlander but I question whether they truly understand any of the depth of the role she was so freely given.” The Queen has made her point clear, Boreans are not ready to re-enter the Akuan community, even more so with a Norgsveltian princess whose mother was Akuanists but ‘converted’ and her father was the very family of butchers that destroyed the Akuan civilization. This was not to mention it was only a century since the Akuan atrocities slaughtered millions of people.

“I can understand and accept your concern in the situation but these are strange times. Boreans are adjusting to the world, and we should be at the forefront to bring them normality, even if it takes a century. I trust Ingrid to be a proper Akuanist, and a proper Akuan leader. She is an enshrined spirit and we can at the minimum treat her as such.” He pleaded his case, not the first time he tried to give Ingrid a chance.

“If it prevents you from bringing it up again, I suppose we have included her on that list. However if she does not meet our standards Jarl, we can wait another century to see if the Boreans are truly ready again.” The Aikkian queen returned to her tea. “If she can take a break from her warmongering.”

“I told you before that wasn’t her doing.”

“She is Fyllikenkrasjlander, if she couldn’t stop it and then she is not one with the spirits as she should be.”

“We both know that is not fair, how can one ever be prepared for enshrinement.”

“We were.”

“It’s not the same, you had a father to observe the spirits. This is new to her.”

“Whose fault is that?”

The Jarl gave a sigh, at least he was making some progress. “For a location, I would like to suggest the Hvaloaszna then. We can have a meeting with some important people from ASA. I know a scholar who I believe would be wise to meet before the conference. They are from Nystatiszna but they are quite different, and grew up around the Grand Shrine of Lilith. In the scholar district of the walled city. Their mother is the brewmaster there and their father is a scholar at the Grand Shrine.”

Aikkian raised an eyebrow, “How did you come to know them?”

“It is a long story, but just be assured I had them vetted. If we give them a decent push, they can be an important figure for the region. Though they are a bit naive.” Jørgen had a polite tone. “Though that being said, I don’t know about their politics. Only they are unlike your usual Nystatinne.”

The queen gave a nod, “Indeed I suppose we wish to talk with them, will they come?”

“I can arrange it, the Grand Shrine needs a bit of refurbishing in the outer layer or so I’ve been told.” Jørgen shifted uncomfortably, never one for politics.

The Arch-Princess kept quiet the whole time, the two elves simply talking about matters that she is not quite sure about. Though she felt the need to speak up, they are including her after a situation. “Let’s have it in Norgsveldet, in Osjford. The district has both ASA and Akuan Development Bank offices there, it is the largest Akuan district in the world.”

“No.” Queen Halein absolutely rejects the idea before Jørgen could speak.

The Kemonomimi held firm, “It needs to be there or in Musetszna.” Attempting to appear a strong leader in front of the elves. They can live for century, the Aikkian elf for centuries. She doesn’t have that same time available, she has to make her mark.

“I can safely say if it’s in Musetszna I don’t believe Ingrid would visit for our interview. Not to mention some other figures I would like to talk with, mostly business leaders and they wouldn’t want to draw unwanted attention.” The jarl gave a sigh, pinching their nose. “I truly believe the Hvaloaszna would be the best spot for our meeting.”

“Then it is Norgsveldet.” The Arch-Princess kept firm, “It is the best place for the meeting and bringing in the people we need to talk to.” She sat up straight, standing her ground for Norgsveldet. Not because she likes Norgsveldet in particular, but because she has to stand her ground instead of just being rolled over by the elves.

The Aikkian queen stared into the kemonomimi very soul, her frozen eyes stabbing daggers through the Kemonomimi. Ny’Hjøran wanted to shrink away and hide away but instead she held strong. “Norgsveldet or nothing.”

“You are out of line Arch-Princess LuPaasan.” The queen used her last name with a frozen tone.

“I’m perfectly in line.”

“Let’s calm down for a moment, we are all friends here.” Jørgen gave a smile, but gave a firm look at the Arch-Princess through the screen. “Let’s be reasonable now, nothing good will come from us getting angry at each other or holding onto grudges.” Through the screen, he pondered for a moment. “While I suggested having this in an Akuan majority country in the first place, it could be a good show for us to visit a large Akuan districts. Majority of Akuanists live in outside Akuan nations, it shows a more direct support to them rather than simply writing checks to them.”

The queen stared down at the kemonomimi for a few more moments, before looking back at the Jarl. “If we have our meeting in Norgsveldet, I want your two, to swear that the next meeting will remind outside of the sphere of the ones who brought ruin to so many of our Akuan brothers throughout the centuries.”

The jarl gave a nod, “That is more than understandable, Ny’Hjøran?” He is not going to pick a fight over Norgsveldet issue, not in private at least. That argument is reserved for the public, when they have to be far more political savvy and tamed about it.

“That is acceptable.” She crossed her arms, mostly to hide her nervous ticks. Bouncing her leg up and down underneath the table. Mentally preparing herself for telling her husband that they are going to be visiting Norgsveldet soon.

He gave a clap, the sound not being picked up on the tablet. “Then I will make the arrangements, is there anything else or should I leave you to your two lunches?”

“No thank you, may the spirits guide you.” The queen spoke, taking another bite from her food again.

“Goodbye Jørgen, I look forward to meeting you in person again!” The arch-princess forsake formality again, much to the concern of the queen. The rest of the dinner was incredibly awkward and silent. The tablet switched off after he hanged up, giving a sigh now off camera. He pinched his nose.

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[Bjørn Castle]
[23 January 2023]

Jarl Bjørn rested his head in his head giving a soft annoyed sound. At first he believed the ancient Aikkian queen would have been the most troublesome but the arch-princess, without any context or understanding of the situation. Is trying to make some sort of stance for some forsaken reason. He placed his hands down onto his desk, trying to figure out some sort of spin for the media for all of this.

It being in Norgsveldet is more than troublesome, the elephant in the room aside. While giving support to the various Akuan districts around the world is fine, but for a meeting of the big three? It should have been in a majority Akuan country, not to mention the other aspects he wishes to bring to the meeting. Having the meeting of three interviewing with Ingrid is already a up-hill war with the Aikkian queen, their words carry incredible weight within the insular Akuan circles and scholarly sort then add in them being an enshrined spirit. Ingrid can’t quite afford distractions, and needs to be laser focused.

Perhaps it’s best to organize the interview with Ingrid at a later date, in a more proper location. Though the time is short until the Akuan conference. His mind drifted over to the arch-princess and that whole issue, he knew her predecessor’s view on theology and politics but it felt she was lost in the discussion. Though she could just be putting up an act for some reason. He needs to speak with her in private at some point to figure out her views, not to mention figure out why she seemed off-guard about certain topics.

He scratched his chin, taking a small sip of his coffee. When it came to the arch-princess and the Mustetine role within the three houses, they’re supposed to be the moderates between his house of Bjørn and house of Ny’thudr’zhan. They don’t carry the same respect Ny’thudr’zhan, nor the wealth of the Bjørn and most certainly house LuPaasan doesn’t have the popularity of either of the two houses. Perhaps it is some sort of play to gain power, if it was surely a mistake. Though he didn’t nearly have the same skill or experience at politics, as family once did. That being said he had learned some skills, not to mention his father’s rather extreme note-taking and book writing.

However, he does have a more pressing concern. The scholar from Nystatiszna, Ny’Saki of the Grand Shrine of Lilith. He hired an organization in Rikevaarland, to hire a private investigation company to look into him. Ny’Saki came on the good Jarl’s radar from a friend sitting on the council of Association of the Servants of Akua. A scholar who rarely left the safety of the Grand Shrine of Lilith, barely left the library part of the Grand Shrine but had interesting research papers on Borean Akuanism. Which according to the people he hired to read it, made particular suggestions about reforming the faith, at least within Borea to be less for the lack of a better word horrific. Have it return more to the old roots, organize it more similar to Aikthudr’zhur and so forth.

Which, given the state of the faith in Borea. Is sorely needed, for more reasons than he could count. One of the largest reasons, being the public view of Akuanism is heavily damaged by the continent of Borea, specifically the eastern half. While of course, Vakrestrender and Aikthudr’zhur still hold the mainstream view, both within Akuanists circles and non-Akuanists circles. With few exceptions, like Esta the Protector being an enshrined spirit and popular within Norgsveltian conservative circles and most recently, as well painfully Ingrid the Reclaimer catching the worst kind of public attention for more reasons than war.

He thinks for a moment, he should organize a meeting between himself and the scholar. Something private just him and the scholar, before he has a meeting with the three. According to his private investigators he’s quite different from the current Nystatinne culture. Though the reports had gaps, annoying large gaps and the Jarl needed a good face to face meeting. See if he was a decent public speaker or if he needed training, maybe hire someone to push his ideas for him. Of course also make sure he is willing to go through with his ideals, which a few honey words and some donations will get him going.

Curiously, this scholar doesn’t have a last name, rather the name of his community. An extremely old Akuan tradition found only in extremely rural and disconnected from the world at large communities. Which of course, if one is to over analyze and conspiracize in situations. Would apply he is fairly disconnected from Nystatiszna at least in socialization level, which given how insular the residents of the Grand Shrine is fair to say. However what is more strange, is while he has friends, he doesn’t have a family to speak of, no partners, nothing outside of a small friend group and a pet Borean fox. It’s strange for at least Borean Akuanists, he’s 23 for spirit sake, and he doesn’t so much have a single partner in life nor children.

The scholar is a complete anomaly on social media, which for Nystatinne is not a real surprise. However his routine, rather boring life of nothing but nothing scholarly work and complete uneventful life. Barely left the many walls of the grand shrine, and frankly if it was for the one research paper. He would be another faceless scholar working tireless working in the Grand Shrine. But now, on the radar on the Jarl, which places him on the radar of the big three, the shepherds. After the interview, and it goes well, it might be a good candidate for Borean Akuan reform.

“If you keep staring at your computer any longer you burn your eyes out.” The white-hair woman rested on the doorway. Giving the Jarl a tired, but warm look.

“Ah, I’m almost finished. Just a bit of business for the conference.” He gave a bright smile towards her. He didn’t have to worry about her reading any of the documents, they’re all in Borean Nys’tat’en rather than Valkyr Nys’tat’en. While Johanna made great strides in learning Nys’tat’en. Borean Nys’tat’en, is quite different from Valkyr Nys’tat’en.

“Get to bed before I force you to. And I doubt you want that.” She teased giving a kiss at the back of his neck before walking back to their bedroom.

He gave a sigh, no work could be done now away. Not until he organizes a meeting with himself and this most curious of scholars. He got up out of his chair, turning his computer off. Informational security and all of that. Followed his girlfriend out of the room, giving a tired yawn as he did so.

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[Grand Shrine of Lilith]
[1, February 2023]

The near mythical city, the first city on Borea and all the other assorted titles given to the Grand Shrine of Lilith. Its original name has long been lost to the waves of time, as well the second, third and all the other names. The Grand Shrine, oldest record name was the Eternal Library translated but it is known older names had existed. Names lost to the rough waters of time, never to be written down but only spoken in hushed voices. To keep in line with the strict interpretation and preservation of knowledge.

The holy city itself was massive, at least when placed into perspective of time. Older than the concept of writing and farming, forged in a time of ice and when the monsters of the dark seemed all so real. Tomes older than nations, ever-so carefully managed, protected or copied over and over again across the centuries if not longer than that. Scrolls, clay-to-brick tablets, paintings and all other manner of literature or media of it stored in the labyrinth halls. Layers on layers of walls to separate the Grand Shrine from the partly modern world.

Built with stone brick, wooden planks and stained glass. Unlike other Akuan shrines across the world, the city refused to bow to the tradition of the newer shrines of the 5th century. Yet it still felt larger, newer compared to every other shrine. It was a library of libraries, the oldest book depository on Urth outright and formerly the largest Borean building for quite some time. It was a sign of an old civilization, an extremely old civilization. While it’s not the first sign of civilization on Borea, it was certainly the one everyone thought of.

Politics and history aside, or at least tabled for discussion for now. It was a great honor for Akuanists to visit the Grand Shrine of the Mother of stories. While it was a little… strange for the Jarl of Vakrestrender to finally be able to visit here. He had to do it in secret, with minimal guards and having to place a lot of his trust into the child he used to babysat. Politics of course being the reason why he has to be secret about this. Though it does mean he hangs out with his little darling sister Ingrid, and meets this curious little scholar with strange ideas.

He wouldn’t lie about feeling unnerved about being in this rather terrifying country and honestly he hasn’t left Ingrid’s side since he got here. The NIB agents watching their every movement together, Yuri practically keeping his big strong ursine arm around him and Ingrid’s royal Ny’Sænuri clan escorting them. It felt like a small army followed them everywhere they went in the castle, but now within the layered walled city. It felt a little better, away from the what is Nystatizszna more what was Nystatiszna. Scholars, historians, and all other manner of professions.

His deep blue eyes looked at the Grand Shrine with wonder as they entered into the deepest part of it city. His hands rubbing together in glee and excitement. “Good spirits, just take all this in.” He looked around the towering wooden libraries around him. “I know we both have a meeting with this Ny’Saki, but I could lose a good few hours just in the Auroran section alone.”

“I had spent a lot of time here, it certainly helped my nerves after the mess Hoshi made.” Ingrid said with a small chuckle as she walked next with her honorary big brother. Wearing her striking black and red kimono, with its red star on her left chest. While the Jarl knows she doesn’t look much different from normal, her demeanor was far more colder. Not having a wide smile but rather a small one, one that could be hard to see at first. “Now I remember you said you wanted to talk with me about something before we enter the meeting room?” She glanced up towards the damnable tall elf raising an eyebrow at him.

“Well, it’s about a few things.” He gives her a wide smile, as they entered into one of the office-library complexes and away from public view. He reached over to scratch her ear, with a warm brotherly look on his face. “First is your new outfits…. Are quite concerning, some would say it looks like you’re trying to be an Akuan Socialist and those people are quite insane.” He gave a very weak smile at that, not able to hold back on the strangeness of it. “Second is, I’m sure you’re well aware that Borean Akuanists are not seen… Quite very well. Even by Akuanists from outside of Borea, and I was hoping I could help you in that regard. As my brother and father once helped your parents with shaping the image of the family.” He was, of course, nowhere near as talented, smart or wise as them about things but he’s pretty sure he can’t mess it up.

The Matriarch accepted the head pat as she ever so quietly purred against his hand, her white tail very slowly swaying back and forth. “Well for your first point, I have to disappoint you by saying I’m not letting you choose my outfit.” She taunted though it otherwise sounded stoic. “I rather like my outfit as it reminds me of the symbology in the Federation.” She might not officially be an Akuan Socialist but she was far from being hostile to them. “I was planning on asking you about that, though I was worried you’d be too busy. Things genuinely improved here, my people finally getting to be heard. Yet I still see foreign media portray us as backward.”

“Just remember Akuanists in the Federation are socialist, Akuanists not Akuan socialists.” Jorgen gave a pained smile, leaning down to kiss her forehead. “As for everyone portraying Borean Akuanists as backward, almost all Borean Akuanists as backward besides the Nystapi. Well, partly it is just well being poor but the other factor is the general fear of Blaskog has of Akuan Socialism and what it has done. Which led that fear being spread out across Norgsveltian and Nys’tat’en speakers world.” He might be an idiot, but he knows PR and how to spin a story. He’s Valkyr damn it, they’re all hidden PR agents.

Ingrid nodded her head at that. “There are understandable reasons to be afraid of Akuan Socialism, and I promise that is not where I’m leading Nystatiszna towards.” She was a bit more warmer in her tone as she spoke, having been a while since she last spoke with her big brother. “I’m an Socialist Akuanist afterall, not an Akuan Socialist.”

He brushed a bit of hair away from her forehead. “Please keep saying that and do not bring up that horrid lesbian witch.” He gives a warm brotherly smile at that. “I bought first row tickets to that musical, gotta say… It was quite strange and my partner was… Believing I created the musical myself to mess with her.”

“It’s weird hearing you say witch, usually I only hear father say that whenever Esta is brought up.” Ingrid let out a warm giggle hearing him speak about the musical. “I do not blame Sverdrup for thinking that. Even If she should know you well enough by now, to know that dark humor is hardly your thing.”

“It was a horrifying experience and I will never watch it again. Five out of Five stars, it was life changing.” He slowly scratches her ear again. “Johanna was even disturbed by parts of it, which is strange… We watched it with a few other people and well…” He gave a shrug, “I’m pretty sure I saw Mrs. Jeanne Pierre laughing at parts of it.” He gave a shiver.

“Esta seems to like it, she didn’t understand the politics but she seemed to really enjoy the parts with murder and death.” Ingrid kept quietly purring against Jørgen’s hand. “Hjalmar was… kind of shocked, and perplexed by it.”

“Ah yes. Him.” He was a bit awkward at mentioning him, given that he didn’t particularly like him and wasn’t at their wedding. He kept petting her, letting her pur against him. Jørgen quickly switched topics back to the main subject. “Back onto the topic, I think Ny’Saki would do a lot of good for you and all of Nystatiszna. He got unique interesting ideas on Borean Akuanism and how to pick up the pieces after colonization and the dictator. Though he is quite…. Strange, you might have a harder time understanding him but I put good money on getting him some language modernization courses.” They kept walking up the several flights of stairs. “Good spirits… They didn’t add an elevator… We’re ten floors away…”

“I hope Hjalmar is not feeling too lonely at the castle, I’ve tried to ensure comfort for him but he is still having some difficulties adapting.” Ingrid said with a sigh as she thought back to her husband, she is very happy he kept being loyal to her and encouraged her efforts to take a stronger stance against the corruption that was in Nystatiszna. Yet she felt guilty having him deal with the alienation that came with coming here as an outsider. “You did seem rather adamant about me meeting him, so I certainly trust your opinion of him. I’m certain he and I can form a valuable partnership for the betterment of our faith and nation.” She in contrast to her elven brother had no issue walking up the stairs, even beginning to walk in front of him as he struggled.

“Goodness.” Jørgen sighed struggling to climb the steps. “Ah, j-just go on without me. H-he’s on the 19th floor, down the hall with a green rope on the outside w-with ah j-just ask around. I-I’m going to catch my breath here.” He sat down on the steps, leaning his body back to rest. “S-so many steps good spirits why.”

The Matriarch gave the elf a pat on the head. “You gotta ask your girlfriend to take you out training, I think you may need it.” She gave him a teasing and taunting smirk, showing the small bit of her bratty little sister side that he remembers so well. With her quick to turn around to start speed walking up the stairs.

“I-I paid for your co-coronation, woman!” He shouted back to his bratty sister. His hand reached into the air as a ball of fists. Before letting it fall to his side. Looking up, at the completely unneeded amount of floors in this damned building.

A hour later

“Ah, thank you Yuri for helping me. I don’t think I could climb all of these stairs without you.” Jørgen looked up at his Ursine bodyguard, as the young elf jarl was princess carried up the steps and towards the end of the hallway. “Alright you can put me down in front of the door. Yuri put me down.”

Yuri did not in fact put the Jarl down, rather he kept holding him in order to shame him in front of his honorary little sister. Easily open the door, swooping through the archway and having to bend down just to get in. The Jarl complained to Yuri along the way before he saw a curious, and rather shocking sight in front of him.

In the room was none other than Ingrid sitting on a sofa with a table filled in front of her that had a plate of cookies and cups of tea prepared for the two. But more so that was shocking was the small frame of a kemonomimi man with short black hair and black kitsune ears, with his head on Ingrid’s lap. Purring on her as she was scratching his ears, a small smile on her lips. The man being none other than Ny’Saki, the lead scholar of the Nori department, a rather prestigious department in the politics of the Grand Shrine. Ny’Saki wearing a pair of slim rectangular glasses, which was on the tip of nose making it easier to see his deep purple eyes. His tail gently swayed as he had a wide smile on his face. Ingrid had not even noticed the Jarl entering her attention being completely on the Scholar.

Yuri placed down the jarl, gave him a pat on the shoulder and turned around to shut the office’s door. Locking it before then using his massive body to completely block it. Jørgen was just staring for a few moments, finger on his chin. He hung out with Esta quite a bit enough to know this could just be a Borean thing but with Ingrid? She grew up Norgsveltian, not Borean and even married. Which makes this an interesting case. “So, this is a Borean relationship thing right? Like with Esta? Or have you really been able to adapt with Akuanism?” He tilt his head looking at how cute the two of them are together.

“Oh hey Jørgen, I didn’t hear you enter.” She looked up at him smiling warmly as she kept scratching the Scholar’s head. “Well he and I got along quite well, so much so I’m determined that I shall marry him.” She once more looked down at the Scholar giving him a little boop on the nose.

Jørgen clapped his hands together, his eyes open wide and his mouth open his mouth but no words came out of his mouth. He closed his mouth. Opened it again, taking his hands to point towards them. “W-well. Huh.” He stumbled through his words for a little bit longer. “I didn’t think your politics or theology would be well… That’s attractive but I suppose my little sister always had a bit of a nerdy thing going on.” He tries to play it off as a joke. “Also this is a joke right? Not just some Borean humor to fool the extremely rich man who pays for the majority of maintenance for this whole shrine right?” He tilts his head towards the scholar to speak.

“We haven’t spoke about any of my research or proposals, just on life and how wonderful it is. They wanted to wait until you arrived up here and when you were taking so long, well. We just talked and discussed about books we read.” The scholar gave a joyful, cheerful smile towards the Jarl. Who was still quite taken back by this rather rapid and shocking endeavor. “Huh. Did you suggest getting married or did she?”

“The Enshrined Spirit of Borea did of course.” Ny’Saki said with a bright big smile.

“Ah.” The elven man nodded his head, looked over at Ingrid with tilt of his hands. Both his hands clapped together and pointered towards her. “Ingrid. My sweet sister.”

“Yes, Jørgen?” She asked with a smile looking back up at him. “And yes I’m serious about it, how couldn’t I be.” She gave the Scholar a few more scratches.

“Oh! That’s lovely! Fantastic even.” Jarl smiled widely, Yuri stepping closer to him to rest his powerful hand onto the elven man’s shoulder. “Truly this is just great news, I am taking over wedding planning and I wi-” His faithful bodyguard gently squeezed his shoulder. “O-oh sorry, just um…. Give me a few minutes please.”

He didn’t wait for a response, he stepped outside of the room with his bodyguard behind him. Leaning against the wall, breathing in and out rapidly. Yuri slowly rubbed his paw up and down the man’s back as he started to panic. “Oh spirits, oh spirits.” Jørgen’s tone was weak and began to panic.

“I should check up on him, I’ll be back soon enough.” She lifted Ny’Saki’s head up from her lap, gave him a gentle kiss on the forehead and gave him a final head scratch. “I promise I’ll come back quickly, cutie.” She gave him a final kiss on the cheek before standing up and followed her elven brother out of the room.

She found her brother just on the other end of the wall, against the room bordering on having a panic attack. His bodyguard comforted him with soothing pats, hugs and less-than-aggressive grunts. The Ursine shot Ingrid a dirty look as she approached them. Jørgen spoke up, his hand holding his chest. “O-oh hey Ingrid, j-just catching my breath after all those stairs y-yah know.” He gives a breathless smile towards her.

“Are you certain everything is alright?” Ingrid asked in genuine concern as she ignored the Ursine’s dirty look as she closed the door behind her and walked up next to Jørgen.

“Oh, you know me just being dramatic about being surprised.” Jørgen responded. “D-didn’t think you’re going to get married again to a guy you just met. Quite surprising. Very fun!” He tries to look like he is having a good time and not panicking.

“Well of course. He is kind hearted, nice and treats me with deep respect.” She says in a way that clearly showed her not understanding why the Jarl was panicking. “Not to mention he is well knowledgeable, respected and important here. You know how many here view Hjalmar, me marrying Ny’Saki will help reassure my people of my continued commitment to our faith and ensures that I will have offspring that can continue my rule.” She was quiet for a moment, looking away as she spoke again. “He is also very cute.”

“Oh thank the spirits, it’s just politics.” He felt better at that, raising himself up. “Also you think he’s cute… And well giving me plenty of nephews and nieces.” He gives a smile towards her. “If it means anyone, you do actually help somewhat with some of my issues when it comes to your public view right now. At least in Akuanist eyes but well you know how and all that.” He raises his hands up to give her a hug. “I am planning for the wedding though, I didn’t go to your last one and I won’t be missing this one at least. Also your outfits, his outfits and everyone else of importance to it.” He was not going to be taking a no on the issue.

“I am sorry If I gave you a heart attack there. I’ve had advisers that for a while now have suggested me either getting a new husband or ‘replacing’ Hjalmar.” The Matriarch put quotation marks at replacing, her advisers had rather negative opinions about her husband afterall. “As such I’ve been on the look out for a while, and well. Ny’Saki marked all the right spots.” She let out a small chuckle. “I wouldn’t want to have it any other way, I’d love to have you organize the wedding.”

“Okay, okay, very good. Very good, yes.” He claps his hands together. “We will speak further at dinner, bring him with you. Yes. We discuss business at the food eating thing time period, yes.” He nodded his head, started to walk the wrong direction towards the stairs, saved by Yuri to be picked up and carried down the stairs. “I will be taking a moment at the Auroran section of the shrine, I need to hum. Um. Collect those thoughts that ran away from me.” The elven man spoke out as he was safely carried in the strong arms of Democracy, Yuri’s workout name at the gym. “D-do you think the Aikkian Queen has to deal with stuff like this or is it just me Yuri?” The elven man looks up at his bodyguard who only gives a grunt in response. “Say it ain’t so.”

“Take your time, Jørgen.” Ingrid said, giving a small smile as she saw the Jarl getting carried down the stairs before walking back into the scholar’s office. Giving her very recent fiance a warm smile as she walked up close to him, the Scholar still sitting at the sofa having waited patiently for her. “We will have a small moment alone now.” She leaned down giving him a peck on the lips, before gently pushing him to lay down on the sofa.

“T-the walls are thin.” He quickly speaks in a rushed tone. “I-I not t-to sure about this Fyllikenkrasjlander I-I.” Ny’Saki was quieted by Ingrid placing a finger on his lips. “Not like that. We would give my brother an actual heart attack then. Just a moment to cuddle and enjoy each other’s company.”

“Oh thank the spirits.” Ny’Saki let out a sigh of relief. He hasn’t dated anyone… Ever, then within one hour the Enshrined Spirit of Borea was talking with him. He’s now married to a carrier of the divine will of Borea. It was to say the least, a little fast for him. However she is more in connection to the spirits so she would easily know best about these things.

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