( ooc - wanted to get something going and explore the kingdom now that we are starting over )

It had been a long, cold, dark, and unforgiving winter. It seemed although it would never end. The harshest winter that the kingdom had seen in a very long time had arrived early destroying about a third of the crops that were not harvested in time. Everyone, including the royal court, was feeling the effects of the early and freezing winter. The trading and markets were also suffering from the series of bad storms that blanketed the kingdom and surrounding areas in think heavy snow. It was as if the gods themselves where punishing them for some unknown reason.

It was however a peaceful time, as the cold weather and harsh storms kept away unwanted trouble, well expect for the uneasiness and arguments of the people who lived within the kingdom. Everyone was starting to get a little cranky as they would have to stay inside much of the day to fight off the bitter cold and howling winds of winter.

Thankfully just as the whole kingdom was about to snap and go crazy, the mounts of snow started to slowly recede. Spring was finally in the air, and the queen could feel the ice and snow melt into water. She was probably one of a few people to notice the slight difference between winter and spring even if it was just a change in the wind. She could tell that the white fluff was melting into water that she was tuned in to.

Kiara was already in a better mood, despite the hills of snow and frigid temperature that would make anyone still believe that it is still winter. She made her way to the dining hall to meet with her husband, the king. Walking in, she smiled. "Ahh, there you are, my dear." She said happily as she walked over to him, kissing his cheek.

Jared Sandeye loved winter, even though he knew that most others in the village didn't. Nonetheless, he welcomed the invitation to come to the castle and join the rest of the royal court for hot chocolate, marshmallows, sugar, and relief from the abnormally cold weather. And because Melinda was related to him by love, she was allowed to join him. She sat with her boyfriend amongst the rest of the royal court, conversing, laughing, and making jokes. Though Jared would very much have loved to go out and enjoy the chilly and nearly unforgiving winter air, Melinda was very sensitive to the cold, so they decided to take the castle up on its offer for sanctuary. The Royal Blacksmith was somewhat sad to see winter go, as he had enjoyed every minute of every day of it. But he was quite excited for spring, a sign of the world's rebirth after a harsh time of total whiteness.

Turning to the side, he caught a glimpse of the King and Queen sitting together in the dining room. He raised his free arm and waved at them and bowed his head as a gesture of respect.

The king sat at the head of the grand feasting table, smiling every time he looked up from his plate of steaming food at the vast table, able to seat hundreds, but empty except for himself and a few servants at the moment. He chuckled at the sight before taking a large bite of meat pie and looking back down at the small pile of vellum sheets next to his food. With pie in one hand and a quill in the other he carefully scribbled his signature at the bottom of a sheet requesting several sacks of salt from the kitchen to scatter over main street to keep it clear. He furrowed his brow and shuffled another page into view; a brief inventory of the kitchens. Unless spring came soon it looked like they'd be running out of salt in a few days. He set down his pie (reluctantly) to look at a page remarking on the various expenses of importing goods from neighboring kingdoms, goods like salt.

At the sound of a familiar voice however he looked up and smiled wide. He pushed himself away from the table and pulled her into his lap as she kissed his cheek. He kissed her cheek in return and wrapped his arms around her waist, "Hello there my love."

Torix saw movement in the corner of his eye and grinned, spotting Jared and his own lovely lady friend. He waved back and beckoned the pair over.

Dusk walked through the palace on his way to the dining hall, his slipper clad feet silent on the floor. His cane, on the other hand, was not as silent, tapping against the ground and echoing every time he brought it down. He wore an elegant bathrobe of a deep red color, one that reached all the way down to his feet, concealing him completely. Atop his head he wore his a top hat, one with a bronze ribbon tied round it just above the brim. There was a small hole in the right side of this hat, seeming to serve no purpose. Dusk of course knew the purpose, but he wouldn't reveal said purpose until he decided to.
            Dusk stepped into the dining hall through a side door, arriving opposite Jared, along with his companion Melinda. Dusk smiled across at the couple, tipping his hat to them, then turning to face the head of the dinning table, sighting his brother and his sister-in-law. He smiled thinly at them, tipping his hat as well to them. With that formality out of the way, he stepped forward and took his place at the table near his brother, placing his cane down in front of himself on the table.
            Once seated, Dusk said "Hail my lady, my lord, and my blacksmith, and the blacksmith's lady. How are we all fairing on this fine day?"

Kiara giggled as Torix pulled her to him. "Too hungry to wait for me, hmm?" She asked as she picked up a piece of his pie, eating it. She glanced over at the pile of vellum pages that awaited their review and signature. Seemed like a never ending pile of things to do, especially since winter started months ago. "I wouldn't worry too much, my King. Spring is coming. I can feel it." She said to him as she slipped off his lap into the chair next to him. She had seen Jared, Melinda, and Dusk enter the dining hall, and thought it best to be more regel in their presence rather than continuing to stay in the lap of Torix. One top of that, she never knew what would come out of Dusk?s mouth, especially if he didn't deem it to be of a serious nature, which seemed to be more often than not.

"I am quite well this morning, Dusk. Better than I had been in days." Kiara replied cheerfully as she watched Jared and Melinda make their way over to the table to join them. "And how are you today?"

She reached over to collect the stack of pages that Torix was looking at, placing them on the floor between their seats. "We have company this morning. We should enjoy it, and not think of work." She said in a hushed voice to Torix.

Jared and Melinda joined hands and carried their hot cocoa to the royal couple?s elaborate and embroidered dining table. They set their cups on the table, bowed respectfully before the King and Queen, then sat down together next to them.

"We are doing quite well, today, Your Majesty, thank you," Jared said cheerfully. Beside him, Melinda gave out a small sneeze, and Jared put an arm around her. "Melinda's come down with a slight cold, but I think she'll be OK if she drinks enough chocolate." He looked up to the bathrobed stranger standing before the royal couple. "Hey, Dusk! Good to see you here! How are you doing?" The young blacksmith got up from his seat to offer his hand for the nobleman to shake.

As Jared stood up to greet Dusk, Melinda looked up from her chocolate at the King. "Your Highness, I noticed you beckoned us over here to sit with you. Was there something else you needed? Forgive the insubordination, but obviously you wouldn't call us to you unless you required some service from us or something."

Torix rubbed the back of his neck, suddenly abashed at eating without Kiara, "I, um, well," He coughed and trailed off as she took a slice for herself and slid out of his lip and into the seat beside him. He smiled broadly at Jared and Melinda as they approached, reaching out to shake their hands, "Good to see you two could make it to the palace for some refreshments. It's always a delight to have your company." He glanced sidelong at Dusk as he entered, looking like he'd just rolled out of bed, "Hello brother. I'm doing well. Yourself?"

The king took his own cup of hot chocolate and slurped down a fair amount of it before glancing at Melinda. He patted his chest and wiped his mouth with a serious expression while setting the mug down, "I'm afraid so Melinda. A report came in the other day that a fleet of fifty caracks flying barbarian colors is headed right for the capital. I was hoping you could take care of them for us before they sack the city, when you have a moment. Thank you darling, so how are you today Jared?" Torix turned his face toward the blacksmith, almost sweating from the effort of keeping his expression flat.

Dusk smiled at all of the greetings he received, taking Jared's hand in his own and giving it a hardy shake. "I'm doing rather brilliantly today, in answer to all of you," Dusk said after releasing Jared's hand. He shoved his chair back and raised his legs up, placing his feet onto the table in front of him, slanting his chair slightly as he did so. He ignored the cup of hot chocolate that was rested near his feet. Dusk glanced over at his brother as he made his request of Melinda.
      "Oh yes, send one person to fight fifty ships worth of barbarians, please and thanks, be back in time for tea. This has to be one of your more brilliant plans, brother mine," said Dusk with a sardonic smile. placing his hand on the armrest of his chair, Dusk began tapping out a rhythm," Now, of course I believe you have good reason for asking Melinda to go on what could be a suicide mission, and I for one would like to hear it, if those here are permitted to know this reason," Dusk asked his brother and king.

The friendly smiles fell from the couple's faces as the King explained the real reason for their summoning to the castle, replaced by dark fear and horror. Jared went along with Dusk's statement about a possible suicide mission, and he nearly dropped his chocolate at the news.

"My King and Queen," he asked nervously as he made his way back to his seat. "Why…why send Melinda and me to take care of an entire fleet of barbaric sailors by ourselves? Why us at all? I may have magic powers passed down to me by my mother, but Melinda has no combat or magic knowledge. You want us to take care of those savages all by ourselves, with no help from the kingdom guard or other law enforcement forces? This doesn't make sense!" he suddenly cried, his voice slowly rising as he sat down next to his girlfriend. "This doesn't make any sense at all!"

Take care of them before they sack the city, all by themselves, and be back in time for tea in place of hot chocolate. If that wasn't insane, Jared didn't know what was. He let go of his chocolate for a moment, stood up with his arms raised, and chanted an Elvish spell to call the Faolis Volume to him from his house. The spellbook in question appeared in his hands in a flash of light, and Jared began flipping through it frantically as he sat back down. Melinda was shaking with fear; she could barely maintain hold on her chocolate herself. Her mind was blank, and she didn't know what to say, do, or even think.

Torix snickered softly at Jared and Melinda's initial reactions but his mirth petered off and turned sour as everyone started to panic. He pressed his lips in a line and adjusted his jacket, "Well, um, I wasn't expecting such a… dramatic reaction to my little jest. Of course the idea of sending one person to fight an armada is ridiculous, unless either of you happen to be a sea spirit, which I'm fairly sure you aren't." He motioned for Jared to calm down, "Take it easy Jared, there's no fleet on its way, and if there was we have an army and navy to take care of it. Just, sit down and drink your chocolate before it gets cold." He slumped in his chair and dejectedly sipped his drink.

Kiara smiled as Jared and Melinda sat with them. "Aww. Well I hope you get better soon. Spring is around the corner, so cheer up!" She said though turned to Torix as Melinda questioned him. She raised an eye brow as Torix explained why he called them over. As the queen, she had never heard anything about a situation like that, and given that he was talking to Jared and Melinda she knew that Torix wasn?t being serious, not to mention all the waterways were frozen. He was however putting on quite a good show, though due to the reaction of everyone else, the show was cut off and Torix came clean.

"Dusk, I know it may be hard for you, but this is the dining table. And we do have guests. There is such a thing as proper etiquette." She had told him. She didn't know how many times she would have a conversation with Dusk about etiquette. Seriously, he seemed more of child sometimes.

Kiara then turned her attention to Jared and Melinda. "Relax. We may king and queen, but we can also have friends and enjoy their company once in a while." She said softly, taking yet another bite of Torix's food while he sipped on his drink.

Jared rolled his eyes and breathed a sigh of relief and placed the Faolis Volume down on the table, the magical Elvish letters shining outwards from the ancient parchment. He picked up his chocolate as he sat down again. Holding hands again with Melinda, he couldn't help but smile. "Well, you were kidding, weren't you? Sorry for my inappropriate reaction, Sire, but for a moment there, I thought you were truly serious. I mean, why would you send just two people, just barely adults now, to fight an entire fleet of barbarian ships? It is quite stupid, I agree." He chuckled a bit to himself as he raised his cup to his lips. After a couple of sips, he tried to strike up conversation with the royal family.

"So, what have all of you been up to lately?"

OOC: Hope this is good. I couldn't really think of anything else to do.

"Excellent attempt at humor, brother, hopefully it isn't reflective of your abilities in running our kingdom," Dusk said, giving the king some applause and a smile in his direction. once finished with that, Dusk leaned forward enough to snatch his hot chocolate from the table, leaning back again once his task was complete and sipping at the mug in his hands loudly. He continued to do so up until Kiara started to reprimand him for his behavior, as he knew she probably would. "Ah, yes, how rude of me," he acknowledged," I shall deal with that forthwith, sister-in-law." With a certain level of care, Dusk brought his feet down from off the table, setting his drink down in their place. He then reached into the voluminous confines of his bathrobe sleeves and pulled out from either arm a coaster, which he placed upon the table. Finally, he took up his drink again and set his feet down upon the coasters, clearly pleased with himself. "There you go, my most radiant majesty, I sorely hope I did not offend too greatly with my uncouth manners," he said as he favored his sister-in-law with a smile.
      Before Kiara could respond to Dusk, Jared spoke up, asking a question that Dusk loved answering whenever it came up. "I for one, my good blacksmith, have been working on this hat," he explained, pointing to the top hat upon his head, "It is- how should I put it?- my crowning achievement in head wear." Dusk beamed at Jared, clearly pleased with his pun.

Torix smiled dryly and chuckled at Dusk's comment, "Ha ha, agreed brother." He half turned toward Jared and Melinda while still addressing Dusk, "While I do love a fine joke I fear I may not be the best at crafting them, so there's no need to apologize." He kept his eyes on the royal couple's visitors, distinctly ignoring his brother's behavior, "To be honest though, I've heard plenty of stories about young, stout heroes going up against insurmountable odds and emerging victorious. Perhaps I'll keep your names in mind if I ever need help saving the world." He smiled into his drink and winked at Jared, taking a long quaff before replying to the blacksmith's query, "Personally I've been rather busy keeping up with all the petitions and requests coming through. Everything from more food for the poor to lower taxes for the rich; the usual. As well my lovely darling here claims winter is ending so there are preparations to be made regarding that as well. All of it very time consuming, so it's nice to stop and relax for a bit with some friends." He smiled and tipped his head at the young pair before regarding his brother curiously, "And what's all this about a crown? Did you make me a present Dusk?" He grinned.

Kiara smiled at Jared. "Not to worry, Jared." She started. "Why would we send any number of our army there, when the queen has elemental water capabilities? Our kingdom is perfectly safe from any threat that would come from the seas." She finished with a slight nod as she took a sip from Torix's hot chocolate, even though she had her own. 
She glared at Dusk as he once again set his feet up on the table, and while he answered Jared's question, She turned to the King with the same look, almost reprimanding him for even having a brother. Dusk is the high prince, brother to the king. He should have more class, manners, and respect than what he does.

The Queen beamed as Torix mentioned that spring was coming. "While I do like some snow, this winter has gone on for too long. I do hope the gods are more kind to us. I don't know why this winter was so harsh. Though with the coming spring, we can open up our farm lands, as well as the harbour for merchants and fishing." She said, already feeling warmer from the thought of nicer weather. "We just have to wait a little longer, but spring is in the air." She said, now picking up her own mug of hot cocoa. She turned to her brother-in-law. "If Torix is getting a new crown, I want a new one too." She teased, with a slight giggle.

She looked from Dusk to the other couple. "What about you two? What have you been up to? Staying warm, I do hope." She said to them.

Dusk smiled at his brother and sister-in-law, finally taking his feet down from the table and instead placing his elbows on the coasters. He steepled his fingers and looked at the two of them through his digits.
      "I'm afraid that's not quite what I meant, my dear royal couple. No, I was more referring to my own hat that I am currently warring," Dusk said, tapping his top hat with his right hand. "You see, this hat is an engineering marvel, something that is quite useful to no one save me." With a small flourish, he produced a small metal crank from his right hand sleeve, waving it slightly so as to show it off to the occupants of the room. Then, with a careful hand, he inserted the crank into the small hole in his hat. The crank fit into the hole perfectly, stopping with a soft metallic click. Then, with a massive grin on his face, he started turning the crank. At first, nothing seemed to happen, but after the fourth turn, some small resistance was met by the crank, and from then on as the crank turned, the hat raised up. The hat split at just above the crank, making a perfectly even split between brim and hat as it went up. A cylinder of fabric was visible within the opening, slowing expanding as the upper half of the hat moved. Once the top hat was near double it's previous height, the inner fabric snapped outwards and filled in the space that the apparent mechanism within the hat had created, leaving Dusk with a perfectly formed, double tall top hat.
      "That, my dear brother and sister, is what I have created," he said as he returned the crank to it's previous place in his sleeve. He then turned to look at Jared and Melinda, asking, "Yes, how have you two been fairing?" adding to Kiara's question.

Torix chuckled and leaned an elbow on the table with his drink in one hand as he watched his brother's display. His eyes followed the crank, as was expected of him as an audience member, and he sipped his cocoa as Dusk inserted it into his hat. He snickered at the ridiculous figure Dusk cut, cranking his hat like he was charging his brain. His snickering died off soon enough though as Dusk's hat started to slowly grow taller.

Torix's eyes followed the hat's trip toward the sky, his mouth slightly agape and drink halfway to his mouth. When his hat reached full height and filled out with a soft 'fup' Torix just stared at the piece of fashionable machinery. After a good minute of gaping he set his drink down and composed himself, looking pensive. "Alright… Now, as the king I have to ask why this technology was applied to a hat and not, say, a bridge, or a tower... and then as your brother... I have to ask if you can make my crown do that too."

Jared and Melinda were quite startled when Dusk demonstrated the mechanism for his hat. In Jared’s case, he had never seen anything of the sort and was absolutely speechless; Melinda was just plain bewildered.
Turning his gaze away from Dusk’s peculiar and distracting contraption, he turned to the Queen. “Well, if you want a new crown, Milady, you need look no further than me, right?” There was an obvious modesty to his voice, a lack of pride or boasting. “No one else besides me in this kingdom could manipulate Dwarven metal, and remember, I made your original crowns. But why want a new pair? Is Dwarven metal not good enough? I spent countless hours bending and forging that metal to make those crowns what they are. If Dusk has any free time, maybe he can help me making the brand-new crowns! And not to be rude, but I'm nearly out of Dwarven metal!”

Jared took a deep sip of his hot chocolate before continuing. “Yeah, we’ve been staying warm, too. The Faolis Volume has a special spell in it that allows me to conjure up magic fire that burns for an unlimited period of time until put out by the reverse effect of the same incantation. It’s a very handy spell, and it’s kept us warm and cozy for this whole season. What about you? How have you kept your body temperatures in control?”

Kiara looked to Jared. “Relax. We were only playing around. I for one love the crowns that you have already made.” She said softly with a smile. “It is a case over which brother’s head piece is better than the other. And I don’t think they’ll settle that one for a while.” She giggled.

“I must admit that heating a whole castle can be pretty tricky. But with Narvis’ fire talent, we get by. As long as there is always someone close by to make sure the fire doesn’t go out, the castle stays at a nice temperature. But we don’t need to worry too much about now. Spring is on its way.” She too took a sip of her hot chocolate. “No more trying to balance the books to find funds for salt and food. I just hope the growing season is good to us this year. I don’t think we can survive another winter like this without a good growing season and harvest.”

Dusk listened to his brother’s question with a small smile, his fingers still linked before him. Upon the conclusion of Torix’s question, Dusk gave him a full smile and then took his hat from his head, placing it on the table before him.
“I’m afraid that a bridge or tower would be rather difficult to have this technology applied to them, dear brother,” Dusk began to explain. “You see, this hat can utilize the mechanism due to its extremely light weight, allowing me to use very small, clockwork gears and very light metals and woods. However, if applied to a tower or to a river spanning bridge, it would simply be too much. The sheer increase in size required would, in itself, cause problems, not to include the fact that bridges and towers are often made of stone and oak. The end result is that I would need to greatly redesign the original blueprints to make it in any way effective, and it would cost a great deal more resources and simply overcomplicate the structure on a whole, resulting in a great loss in efficiency in either of the structures,” Dusk stated, taking on an almost lecturing tone, one that was fairly ruined due to the comical, double tall top hat before him, the bathrobes that he was wearing, and the fact that he was noisily sipping hot chocolate. “As to your crown, I’m afraid it wouldn’t work as well, since it’s made of metal, adding more complications than necessary to the machinery once more,” he pointed out. “Could I do it? Of course, with time and effort. Will I? I feel it would just be far simpler for you to switch to a jewel encrusted top hat, making the work far easier on me,” He finished, taking up his top hat again and placing it upon his head at a jaunty angle. This angle of jauntiness, coupled with the uncommon height and weight of his hat, resulted in it falling off his head backwards, crashing to the ground. Dusk simply smiled all the way through the hat-tastrophe, eventually getting up so he could reach down and grab his hat once more.

(OOC) sorry I've been gone so long.

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