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18 Dec 2021
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Try to be Kaji again.

Oh, god.
Such a pathetic sight.

Nevermind! Try being someone else.


Desperate to run away from that humiliation, are we?
Well, since you asked so nicely.

You are now this presently un-humiliated person, in a completely different world, ascending the stairways of the Garnet Royal Tower.

Solis: Were you called in for an audience with the prince?


It's the other way around.
This time, you've returned to see his highness of your own accord.

Hopefully, you can have a conversation without Corona's interruptions for once.

---->


Screw these long spiraling stairs, though!
You've just cut quite the distance all the way from your hometown to this tower in the Royal Meadows, and now, you have to go up all these god damned stairs just to see his highness for a few minutes.

There's exactly 66 of these steps in your path here.
Yes, you were counting it in your head, is that a problem? It better not be.
What's with royalty and their love for long spirally stairs, anyway?

If only there was an easier way to lift someone up to a higher floor of a very vertical building somehow. Say, to elevate oneself instantly, without all this climbing of steps.
Yes, that would be quite handy. Too bad it's just a random crummy idea that doesn't exist anywhere ever!!!

At least your legs just got a great workout. Ha ha.

Solis: Approach destination.


State your business, the doorkeeper demands.

He's a new face, which means...
The previous one must've messed something up somehow.

You inform him that you've come for an audience with the prince.
Weird, he says, his higher ups hadn't mentioned anything about a direct visit to the prince this late. He says he can't just let you in.

Whom did you get permission from to come this far?
He asks so pointedly, even raising his weapon.

You say...
Just inform the prince that it's Solis Ardor, and that'll be enough.

Ardor, he stutters.

He immediately steps out of your way, apologizing for the disrespect as he moves - predictably so. Please, feel free to proceed at once, he says.

Yeah, right.
These guards should know their place.

Solis: Are you THAT special of a person around these parts?


Your name is Solis Ardor, and you certainly ARE someone special.
...Even though you never manage to look the part.

You're so special that you're worthy enough of the prince's immediate attention, in fact. His highness requires no formalities if it's you at his door.
After all, the two of you have known each other for a long time.

You were raised to become as dedicated and honest as an Ardor should be, a quality you keep close to your heart. It is no exaggeration to say that loyalty to the throne literally runs through your blood.

That surname carries quite the weight with it.

As soon as any monster heard it, they'd quickly acknowledge that you are his highness' most loyal of followers. And surely, you perfectly embody the expectation.

You have never once doubted your prince, and you never will.

Solis: Enter the prince's study.

  • Solis: Greetings, your highness.
  • Suvillan: Solis!
  • Suvillan: Finally, a face I'm happy to see.
  • Solis: Thank you for not minding my intrusion at such late hours.
  • Suvillan: Hm? How unusually courtly of you.
  • Suvillan: What brought you back again so soon?
  • Suvillan: Did you run away all quick using nonexistent work as an excuse, after all?
  • Solis: No! I really did have something to do!
  • Solis: I wouldn't neglect my duties, nor lie about them.
  • Solis: It's just, uh...
  • Solis: I wanted to have a serious discussion with your highness, if you'll allow it.
  • Suvillan: A discussion...?
  • Suvillan: Hey, hey!
  • Suvillan: First of all, don't think I've forgotten your rude moodiness from before.
  • Suvillan: You talked like work was more important than I am.
  • Suvillan: And now, you've come crawling back like nothing's happened?

  • Suvillan: I'm so sad to the point that I won't be able to take your serious discussion seriously, at this rate.
  • Solis: What?
  • Solis: You don't look sad at all.
  • Suvillan: I'm sad on the inside!
  • Suvillan: My heart is weeping right now, Solis.
  • Suvillan: Can you hear it? I can.
  • Solis: Fine, do you...
  • Solis: Want me to say sorry?
  • Suvillan: Oh my.
  • Suvillan: Solis, apologizing?
  • Suvillan: Is the world coming to an end tonight?
  • Solis: I sincerely am sorry for my past insolence.
  • Solis: And, uh...
  • Solis: Sorry about my impatience with Corona... is that about it?
  • Solis: You know how easily she gets on my nerves.
  • Suvillan: ...
  • Solis: Anything else you want me to say sorry for?
  • Solis: Or is that enough?
  • Solis: God, I hope it is.
  • Suvillan: Sure, it's amusing enough to earn my forgiveness.
  • Solis: A-amusing?
  • Suvillan: You must really be desperate to play along this far!
  • Solis: So you're not sad, just messing with me...?
  • Suvillan: Corona's not here to hear your apology, though.
  • Suvillan: That's too bad, isn't it!
  • Solis: ...It's fine.
  • Solis: I expected that.
  • Solis: Like I said, I'm here to talk to your highness.
  • Suvillan: Oh...
  • Suvillan: I see, I see!
  • Suvillan: You there.
  • Suvillan: Leave us for a bit.

Workers: Leave...?

The workers protest the order.

One says she's not done yet with her work here.
The other says he's just gotten started on his part as well.
Yes, they say, they'd all rather finish it now than later.

Otherwise, if delayed any more, it'd take time away from their mandated break.

Wow.

Do these fools know who they're disobeying so openly?
Witnessing this much audaciousness out in the open disgusts you.

You instinctively scowl in their faces.

But at least...
It seems that they're quick to realize their mistake, for some reason.

Maybe it's because they saw the sheer condemnation in your eyes?

Yeah, that's probably it! Any disobedient servant would flinch at clear disapproval coming from an exemplary guard such as yourself!

Workers: Scurry out of the prince's spooky sight at once.

  • Suvillan: ...
  • Suvillan: So! Where were we, Solis?
  • Solis: Right, uh, that can wait a little.
  • Solis: Pardon the intrusion, but...
  • Solis: Is everything here going alright, your highness?
  • Suvillan: Hahaha!
  • Suvillan: Of course it is.
  • Solis: But, those servants were...
  • Suvillan: Oh, it's just that the loudest of them formerly served the previous prince.
  • Suvillan: His influence is hard to wash off, you see.
  • Suvillan: Sometimes, they'll feel emboldened enough to buzz a little.
  • Suvillan: But, they know to always behave in the end!
  • Suvillan: So pay it no mind.
  • Solis: Still, your highness.
  • Solis: They should not be allowed to even think about defying you for any reason!
  • Solis: You've never even mistreated any of-
  • Suvillan: Solis.
  • Suvillan: That was an order.
  • Solis: ...
  • Suvillan: Don't overstep from your role into matters that don't concern you.
  • Solis: Fine... I understand.
  • Suvillan: You may speak freely about your concerns now.
  • Suvillan: I am especially curious to know why you've returned with such secrecy!
  • Suvillan: Go on, what's troubling you?
  • Solis: ...I had a question that your highness might have an answer for.

---->

Yes... as you said, you are an Ardor.
The most honest and loyal to the throne. Anyone would acknowledge that you're one of the prince's best followers, if not THE best.

  • Solis: I know that I could never doubt you.
  • Solis: I know to always do as you wish at all times.
  • Solis: I know this, and yet...
  • Solis: There is one lingering doubt weighting on my mind.
  • Suvillan: After all this time...?
  • Suvillan: I thought I got rid of all of that already.
  • Solis: ...No, that is still true.
  • Solis: Thanks to you, I have no doubts about myself.
  • Solis: This isn't about me, but you, your highness.
  • Solis: I have never... doubted you.
  • Solis: Even now, I don't doubt that your word is best.
  • Solis: But...
Anyone who acknowledges your loyalty would also agree that a loyal person should be kept close. But instead, this loyalty was punished.

Cast aside, and doubted. Once, twice. At this rate, just one more time, and it might never stop being an annoyance at the back of your mind.

...Come on, you can do this.

Just be honest, as you always are.

Solis: What troubles you?



---->

---->

  • Suvillan: I also want it to end well, and I can see that...
  • Suvillan: You've made it your goal to set that record straight.
  • Suvillan: You came here deliberately behind their backs, even.
  • Suvillan: I never knew you could be so sly.
  • Suvillan: I wonder, are you thinking that I shouldn't have forgiven them?
  • Solis: No!
  • Solis: That's not it...
  • Suvillan: Don't worry.
  • Suvillan: Just tell me what's on your mind.
  • Suvillan: And we can just get rid of it.
Yeah, maybe it's better to just be upfront.
Seems like you've already lost any semblance of good faith, anyway...

You're different from those two, whose concerns seem to end just by his highness smiling and shooing them away. You know him best, after all.
And, unlike them, you actually care about maintaining his trust in you.

Over the years, you've callously carried out so many shady tasks in the name of this trust, only to learn today that its been eroded enough for his highness to consider resorting to spies. You wonder just at what point did it start diminishing to reach this sad degree, all without your knowledge.

Standing here, you feel that no apology could make up for what's already gone from his trust. If only you didn't get swept up into the pace of those two in the first place!

Now, the question is, after all that happened...

Just how much trust between the two of you is left?

Solis: Just be honest.

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YESS I HAVEN'T SEEN SUVILLAN IN SO LONG

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