The sun is setting over Minoru Sho’s palace, bathing the assembled buildings in soft orange-pink light. All of the warlords -- with the exception of the owner of the palace, of course, and Nobuhide -- have left, gone to their own territories. What remains is serene peace descending upon the gardens, once bustling with chatter now heavy with stillness.
But while the outside is calm and quiet, inside the palace is a hodge-podge of activity: servants rushing around, carrying trays of tea to the assembled Aetherian citizens, and muffled sounds coming behind closed doors where Alaric, Nobuhide, and Hoori are listening to a party attendee’s votes, the last one they need before they can start the discussion of who to work with. Supervising everything in the room is an intimidating-looking Accelgor, arms crossed over his chest as he gazes steadily around him, occasionally barking out an order to the rest of the servants around him.
Standing in a corner are Prince Nicholas, Gawain, and Bon, lost in their own thoughts. The Charizard abruptly sighs, picking at a corner of his claw idly before looking around.
The Galvantula scurries over, ducking shyly from the Accelgor’s sharp stare before stopping in front of Gawain.
Suddenly, the doors slide open, and a Machop with a crossbow slung over his back comes out of the room, followed by Alaric.
The snake backs into the room, allowing the doors to slide shut in front of him… and Prince Nicholas frowns to himself, wondering once again why he wasn’t allowed to take part in the discussion…
Meanwhile, a Cinccino approaches Sara, wearing an amber kimono with a green obi, brown lace, and patterned with white sakura blossoms, matching the hairpiece pinned up by her ear.
Sara Worried.png|baseline|150px]]: Ahh, I am sorry, I have over-stepped, I think --
The tailor hurries away, before the prince can say anything. He stares after her curiously, wondering who she was referring to -- but before he can think any further, the doors slide open once more, this time Hoori walking out.
: Alright, thank you all for being so patient while your king and my master discussed the results of the party. They have taken your advice into account, and King Alaric has decided upon which warlords you will work alongside. Kamen-san, would you like to do the honors?
The Wartortle glances at the Accelgor who hasn’t moved an inch. Smiling sheepishly, Hoori adds:
: Ah, right. This is Kamen-san. He’s Sho-sama’s head assistant. You didn’t see him during the party because he was off running errands for Sho-sama; pretty much does that all the time actually… Anyway, Kamen-san, you want to lead the way?
The Accelgor grunts -- and moves towards the doors, disappearing inside the room without a word. Hoori and the rest of the assembled Pokémon follow, entering what is obviously a guest area, with large cushions scattered throughout. Alaric and Nobuhide are in two of the cushions, and the Serperior sits up straight before speaking.
: Listen well, my citizens. I have gone over all of your suggestions with Nobuhide, and though it has been a long night, I am confident that with your advice, we have chosen the correct warlords to align ourselves with. So, I am proud to say that the three warlords are Hashira Eboshi, Umezawa Kaoru, and Onoue Takeshi.
: All three of these warlords will bring a different but equally valued asset to us during these trying times. Eboshi has her mines of metal, Kaoru has her healing prowess, and Takeshi has his messengers. I trust all of your judgment with this matter, and hope that the cooperation between us will be successful for all parties involved.
: Wise decisions, thanks to all of your hard work! Hoori, can you and Kamen-san arrange for messages to be delivered to the chosen warlords? Inform them to come to Sho-san’s palace to talk with the Aetherians to give them jobs to do in their kingdoms -- so that they may get to know them better.
In lieu of responding, the Accelgor slinks out of the room, and Hoori hustles to follow. Nobuhide struggles to hide a snicker behind his moustache, then turns towards Alaric.
: Hmm, yes, you’re right… Excuse us, everyone. Sho said that he would arrange for sleeping spaces for all of you within the palace, so wait here for him to send a servant to take you to where you’ll be staying.
With that, Alaric slithers out of the room with Nobuhide on his tail. The Aetherian citizens begin to mingle, some resting on the cushions scattered in the room -- and Gawain wastes no time in dropping onto a cushion, almost popping it under his girth.
Gawain opens his mouth to retort, then shuts it, propping his chin up on his palm with a haughty sniff. The Toxicroak rolls his eyes… and notices Nicholas staring at him. He raises a brow -- what was the kid staring at? -- and is about to make a smart remark… but something stops him. One can almost see the light going off in the frog’s head as he yawns dramatically, stretching an arm across his chest.
: Only if you wanna. I mean, who knows, your dad the limbless king could still give you something to do here, but oh no, wait, he’s got Nobuhide and Hoori to do that for him, and he’s gotten along pretty well without you so far. And besides, Aoi and Kyo really took a shine to you while we were sneaking into the kingdom, and I’m sure they’d love your help around the farm… but ya know, it’s still up to you.
The Umbreon eyes Bon suspiciously, not quite sure if the frog is teasing him or not… Doesn’t matter, really, as he is probably right anyway. Nicholas hesitates, tapping his chin in thought; it’s obvious that he believes there’s more to this frog than meets the eye. But judging by the way he keeps looking at the doors Alaric went through not long ago, Nicholas is still interested in trying to mend his relationship with his father.
Bon, noticing Nicholas’ reluctance, starts to turn away, holding his hands up helplessly:
Bon hides a rare smile before facing the prince.
The Charizard grabs Nicholas’ arm, pulling him towards his eye level.
: I’ll be fine, promise. Father has loads here that he needs to do, without me hanging around, he can focus better on the task at hand. (whispers) Besides, I can keep an eye on Bon too. Maybe he’ll show his true colors in familiar territory.
Both Bon and Nicholas exit the room, leaving Gawain alone with the other Aetherian citizens. He sits back in the cushion, an overwhelming sense of dread settling across his face -- which only gets worse as Alaric slithers into the room.
: No. I’m done chasing after him. If my son wants to gallivanting around without me to help, then fine, that’s his choice. Perhaps it will be good for him to be on his own, take care of himself. How much trouble could he get into in a rice field?
The Charizard stands, starting out of the room… only to be stopped by Alaric wrapping his tail around his arm.