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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:14 pm 
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Jama did not let himself be provoked, but his gaze was cold.

"I occupy it in my singular capacity. Are you opposed, Muhaki-san?"



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:31 pm 
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Saionji could argue with the claim of singularity but he chose not to. He couldn't hear Bellena's advice though.

"Of course, Hantei-no-kimi. I asked mostly for the purpose of determining whether I am the host or the guest here. As a host I would feel obliged to make arrangements that would increase the comfort of your stay here, and whoever might be with you at any given time. It is a grave mistake to be inhospitable toward you after all. In whatever singular or plural capacity you wish to appear."



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:40 pm 
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Jama got the message and heard the whispers from both women. There was no longer any purpose in playing around it.

"While I appreciate the sentiment, Muhaki-san, it is still a strange way to tell me you want to come in and exchange thoughts. We have already established in private that I rarely deny my attention and regard to those who share my blood, no matter how obfuscated or diluted. Enter. Your privately betrothed Kharsite can join you."

He stepped inside.



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Status: 9.5 | Glory: 8 | Honour: Exceptional

"The great questions of the day will not be decided by courtly discussions or pious prayers to the Heavens, but by blood and iron."
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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:03 pm 
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Footsteps could be heard descending the stairs as they were invited to enter, and when they did, Ruqqayah was there to greet them. Smiling toward Bellena in the same way she always had since they first met. It would only make it more awkward to behave awkwardly. "Good evening Lella Bell'eza, Shiek al-Hattar," she greeted upon both entering.



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 6:10 pm 
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Saionji said nothing, but he retained something cocky in his demeanour. He may have just been displeased with Jama spoiling his perfect occasion with his... whatever this was supposed to be. He nodded and waited for Bellena to join his side before entering.

'Lella Ruqqayah al-Yujjeh, it's a joy to find you here."



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:16 pm 
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Bellena nodded graciously at the invitation and greeted Ruqqayah as she moved to Saionji's side.



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:31 am 
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"I see you're granting my teacher some courtesy, Si Saaji ibn Mouhaqq, by switching the conversation to Mekhem. But waritha of the Grand Mufti should be shown a bit more respect from you, and I have not found her command of Rokugani lacking." Jama remarked, pointing to the only table in the room.



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"The great questions of the day will not be decided by courtly discussions or pious prayers to the Heavens, but by blood and iron."
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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:39 am 
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Ruqqayah contemplated how to respond for a moment, holding her lips shut with her teeth for a moment before saying, "Fortunately, I am adaptable... If you wish to speak Mekhem, I'm not opposed." It worked well enough to express her relaxed attitude toward it without contradicting what was said. She takes the point at the table to be a suggestion and takes a seat.



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 3:15 am 
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Bellena may have sighed inwardly at how the two men were competing to make this as awkward a situation as possible, but she kept her thoughts to herself and found a seat next to Saionji at the table.



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:18 pm 
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As they sat by the table facing each other, on chairs no less, there was a palpable lack of cards and poker chips on the table. Saionji was the first to de-escalate.

"Of course, Hantei-no-kimi. I don't know if you agree, but I feel this inopportune meeting can still be salvaged, because it might be as good a chance as any for me to learn whether it is your wish to make the Tortoise Clan more aligned with your policies. Between the Xantellados affair your expedition had likely precipitated and the presence of Sayyeda Ruqqayah bint Kandagauri with you here I have no doubt they are both intricate and far-reaching. We've had our disagreements..."



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:23 pm 
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"My disagreements have never been with the line of Lord Muhaki, but with the Hateru he decided to shelter, cousin, the legacy that is not yours despite what you claim before the Unicorn. If you want to retain the rapport of the Khagan and the Grand Vizier you have long enjoyed you'll have to convince Iuchi Rukaya-san that it is a masquerade worth continuing for the sake of our shared interest in what can be accomplished by Sheikh al-Hattar." Jama replied dispassionately.



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"The great questions of the day will not be decided by courtly discussions or pious prayers to the Heavens, but by blood and iron."
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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 12:35 pm 
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"That could be a very unsound move, Hantei-no-kimi, potentially unmaking decades of Tortoise work in the Tarkhanate and beyond." Saionji frowned in irritation.



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 1:07 pm 
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"I don't disagree, Muhaki-san. But it is only the blood of Hantei in you that can let you look at our challenges above sectarian divisions. Silence that blood and you and all the games the Tortoise play in faraway lands are of no use to the Throne. To the dynasty whose time has come."

Jama looked at him straight, then briefly on Bellena before connecting his gaze with Rukaya before bringing it back on Saionji.

"You wanted to know? I want Xantellados to succeed. I want a Xantello monarch in the Royal Palace in Carceiras. It doesn't have to be me or my viceroy as long as whoever rules Merenae represents the interests of the dynasty. I owe my grandfather this alliance, his gift of love to Retsuhime-heika and her Empire. Mine, and yours. Of all of us here in this room. I want to see finished what he started. You can no longer take Tortoise prerogatives for granted because nothing about the Return my Divine Great-grandmother mandated can be taken for granted. There can be only one success or only one failure in bringing the Children of Shinjo home and in adding all of the great accomplishments of their five-centuries-long journey and sacrifice to the glory of the Hantei dynasty, as per their role determined on the Seppun Hill and decreed by the First Hantei. There won't be a better opportunity to start bringing all eight corners of the world under Heaven. This is the essence of Muhaki's Dream, your father's legacy you can endorse or deny."



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 2:41 pm 
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Bellena listened carefully to Jama as he spoke. Her mind rolled over possibilities as it often did. She leaned forward slightly in her chair and asked, "Is it your desire to see your sister put on the throne of Merenae then? That is what your man Edowgawa seems to believe. That perhaps you met with her and sent her ahead to Merenae."



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 6:13 pm 
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Ruqqayah listened quietly, listened as the daughter of Khandagauri and Iuchi heir she had been called out as, turning over the new information in her mind as she listened. There was so much to process. The Hateru part wasn't really so important in Unicorn estimation. She also recognized how blatantly she was being used as a pawn here and toyed with calling it out. She eventually decided to keep it private for now.

She closed her eyes and said quietly, "When Lady Shinjo was lost, we were in the process of trying to find a way back to Rokugan. It's our destiny to return and finish our exploration, and begin a more metaphorical journey sharing the destiny of the Empire more closely." Much more closely, but Jama wasn't going into that yet, so she wouldn't. "I can't speak for the Merenaese side of it, so I will leave that to Hantei-no-kimi. But in regard to the part relevant to my position, I support that idea."



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 7:39 pm 
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"It is not. It is an eventuality I can reluctantly accept as an outcome. She has never cared for the Empire, and she has rejected my calls. The best I can expect of her is that she uses her parentage to advance the power of the family she has married into. The Almerias are needed for the coup to be successful and quick, and they may have not joined it if they didn't see a direct interest in it."

He nodded in acknowledgement to Rukaya, then his gaze returned to the silent, ponderous Saionji.



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"The great questions of the day will not be decided by courtly discussions or pious prayers to the Heavens, but by blood and iron."
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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Wed Nov 29, 2017 8:08 pm 
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Bellena nodded as her eyes slowly moved around the room, not focusing on anything, just allowing her mind to work on the revelations of the evening.

Eventually her eyes fell on Saionji, where they stopped and focused on him while he seemed to be thinking out things for himself.

And here I wanted to get away from political thinking for the evening... She mused to herself as her eyes sent all the support they could to Saionji as he planned his response.



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 6:04 am 
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Saionji looked up.

"I guess the time has come for some decisiveness, Hantei-no-kimi. While I would like to keep my own counsel on what does and does not constitute my heritage, I have my own scores to settle with La Familia Real de Radena." He glanced at Berena. "I see what you probably see as well, that in its current state Merenae is slipping into decline, with no allies to speak of. It can soon become an easy prey for those forces in the Tarkhanate which are not committed to Muhaki's Dream and seek quick violence and prompt gratification through subjugation and plunder. This was as true after Boujjaj as it is now, and I can see it as a motivation for the original formation of Xantellados. A strong, well-ruled Merenae allied with Rokugan would provide a necessary regional counterbalance."

He paused.

"But if I am going to be involved in full, it is to win the crown for myself and my queen, and the future of the Tortoise Clan. I would reorganise the society to award all hidalgo families samurai status as vassal families of the Muhaki, and would successively claim all Merenaese assets overseas for the Tortoise Clan, including here in the East Port. If your ambition of an Empire over which Lady Amaterasu never sets is to ever come about, you'll need more Great Clans to be formed for governance and strategic purposes, and mine will be the first in line. For the strategic commitment to your cause, I would expect domestic autonomy in how I will be handling Merenaese affairs. If the Throne considers us losing focus, we can regain it this way soon enough."

He even smiled, looking between Jama and Rukaya.

"And as you seem to be well on track in handling the Unicorn affairs, Hantei-no-kimi, I am ready to gradually downscale the Tortoise involvement in the Tarkhanate and beyond, into the Sands. I can adapt to the needs of the Throne, and be more a Xantello than an al-Hattar. You seem to be sending your own ambassadors to Aqahba soon enough; if you want the Explorers to be in the spotlight, we will take to the shadows, ready to step in whenever your people do not live up to the tasks you have set before them. If Iuchi-san wishes to be your voice before the Kaghan and the Tarkhan, she certainly has the credentials to do so. The Tortoise, like any other Clan, serve at the pleasure of the Throne. My friendships with the Khans won't expire overnight, just in case your singular attempt will suddenly need a second chance, and a Muhaki to handle the coming about of Muhaki's Dream."



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Status: 7.5 | Glory: 3 | Reputation: 5 | Honour: Expected


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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:34 pm 
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Bellena listened to Saionji as he spoke, making sure to not miss a single inflection on a single word. Saionji had mentioned charting a new course for himself and her, and this was certainly a new course. She had never thought herself to be a queen, even if she knew Saionji to be a king among men. It was an ambitious dream that he set out on the table, but one that wasn't without merit. Her father's vision for her as a child began to take on new meaning in her head...

A young Bellena cried into her father's lap at the base of the plank leading on to the ship headed for the Burning Sands. "I don't want to go Papa!" The red-haired girl sobbed as she held on tightly to her father's legs.

Crouching down, her father put his hands on her shoulders. His smile was filled with the warm and loving kindness of a generous father. His emerald eyes sought hers as he brushed away a tear from her cheeks, "I don't want you to go either my little ruby. But you must go... We need you more than you can possibly know right now. Our people need you to go, learn all that you can, see all that you can... and then return and help us all understand. Papa loves you more than anything else in the world... but Kharsis teaches us that we must often give up what we value most, in order to save others. I need you to save our people. Can you do that for me my ruby?"

The little girl's face scrunched tightly as she looked into her father's eyes. After a few seconds she offered a reluctant nod.

Her father embraced her tightly, "Thank you my ruby. You know the star, the Ruby of La Cuenca? That will be you one day my little ruby. You will watch over and protect our people; giving them light and direction in the night. Wherever you go... I will look to that star and remember you. Now, go my child... for our people."


... Bellena's mind returned from its short reverie as Saionji finished speaking. Her mind lingering on the breadth of the final words her father had left her before boarding that ship. 'For our people...'



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 Post subject: Re: ...Or if You're Even There? (D9, EN Belle's)
PostPosted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 5:27 pm 
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Ruqqayah just listened for a few moments, taking in Saionji's words and expressions, as well as Berena's next to him. She was tempted to ask what led to the expression she wore... But that would wait. She could talk to her on their own later. Awkward questions would likely be asked, but she was prepared. She managed not to even raisean eyebrow at what felt like Saionji's questioning of her competence. She remained silent. She had thoughts, but it felt like Jama should have the first word I'm this situation.



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"Promising Theologian"
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