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Southern Jungles

Sarah Tintagyl

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At the birth of Aquitaine, the government of Holy America, possibly the largest nation on the planet had invited both Therese and Adelaide to talks for a strengthening relationship between the two nations. With the Atlantic as their playground it was natural for something such as this to occur. However it pained the Empress of France that the negotiations had been cut short because of the strengthening threats of the Burgundians and she, then as Prime Minister, had to return to France. Since that time, there had been the Civil War and the beginning moves of Therese's Iberian Campaign, the Empire had been in a diplomatic expansion since then and it seemed as though to not include Holy America in the creation of friendships to be a true sin. Therefore, when the Empress' schedule at least for a moment seemed to empty out, a letter was pinned to the Imperator of South America in the hopes of restarting the negotiations years ago.

[i][b]TO: His Excellency, Kevin Hollahan, Imperator of Holy America
FROM: HIH Therese I, Empress of France

First I must apologize for France's seemingly end to the negotiations that we had been working on years back, as Aquitaine and then France went through such dynamic shifts. For the rebirth of an entire people and nation, such as what the Empire is going through, this is no easy task and my time has been dedicated to my people. However, with some silver lining in the clouds above, I would like to take the time to restart our negotiations and friendship talks that we had previously. Recently, you are no doubt aware of the treaty storm that has since overtaken the world. New powerful nations have arisen and a nuclear arms push has dominated news of late, there is a threat that the entire order of the world may be rewritten, if that is the case, it should be Holy America and the French Empire that should be rewriting it.

Therefore I wish to take the time to invite you and a delegation if you prefer to come to Versailles to restart our discussion and finally make a friendship that is worthy of years in the making, official.

I await your response and arrival in haste.


Therese Zelle[/i]
[b]Empress of France[/b]

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[quote]Your Highness,

It pleases meto hear from you again, especially in light of the treaties stretching the globe you have so accurately mentioned. These are dangerous times, especially for the great empires of the world. I would indeed want to formalize relations with France. Only in unity will we be able to resist the predations of the world's hypocrites.

Emperor Holihan. [/quote]

A plane departed Foundation for Versailles.

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After the flight across the Atlantic, the Holy Americans would be welcomed into France with an escort of French Raptor F-22 from the minute they entered Imperial airspace, from that point, the Imperator's plane would be guided to the International Airport in Paris. There was a slight overcast in the sky that called for showers around the north of France and though the Imperator would walk out of the plane to the sprinkling of rain, the French Imperial Guard stood with swords held high over his head as he walked through their salute to where the Commander of the Guard, Claire Delacour, stood at the end of the artificial corridor of raised swords. She welcomed him with a bow and directed the Imperator to a waiting limousine not far from where they stood, providing him with an umbrella as well. "Our forgiveness Your Highness, but France has yet to learn how to control the weather, but right this way and we can be off to Versailles."

The limousine sped away down the roads of Paris and out to the north, across the French countryside where the grand palace of the French Empress stood, the splendor of the Empire wrapped into one building that seemed to have descended from the sky. Passing through the palace's iron gates, the rain seemed to have a mystical effect on the gardens throughout the courtyard, mist rising from the trees and the fountains, as warm and cold water bonded with each other. As the limousine pulled off, Claire helped the Imperator out of the car and walked him into the gilded palace itself. Leading him down mirrored and painted hallways of the Age of Enlightenment, towards the Apollo Room, the Empress' throne room.

Pushing open the tall wooden doors, the Imperator was welcomed into a marble room with a purple velvet carpet that ran the length of the room ending at the platform of the throne where Therese sat. The Empress was dressed fashionably, a white dress that ran to her feet, her hair braided down her back and the gold tiara of France atop her head. Her eyes sparkled as she stood to her feet, likewise did the Foreign Minister, Charles Talles, seated at her right. Around the room were statues and paintings of French leaders and battles from the Napoleonic Wars and further back, whilst many of the chairs and Therese's own throne were decorated with a golden 'T' on the back.

"Kevin." Therese smiled and walked over to him taking his hands. "It is a pleasure to see you again. Please." She gestured to one of the seats near her throne for him to sit at as servants brought out glasses of wine. "A Chardonnay that was passed down from my father, I think you'll find the taste absolutely perfect. Now." She sipped and put the glass down. "What I would like to talk about Kevin is a possible alliance that could be achieved between our peoples. I'm assuming that is what we were going to talk about back in Foundation before I was called back to France. In truth, with the establishment of New France on the North American continent, France's Imperial ambitions are directly correlated to the future of this continent. Now, I do not try to hide that there is a push for Empire by myself, but I would be intrigued to know if Holy America and the French Empire would be able to work together to achieve stronger unity between us. I'd just like to know what Holy America could see coming from this friendship."

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Emperor Holihan stepped into the drizzling rain. Rivulets of water slid gracefully down the creases of the leather uniform he habiually wore to such meetings. A fine mist emanated from where droplets spattered against his drawn hood. Out of the car stepped another figure, similarly clothed and armed with a finely modified Marksman rifle held loosely. Any present would see that he was more than acquainted with the weapon. Roxas was the only escort the Emperor felt he needed.

The professional soldiers nodded to each other, each sizing up the other with military precision. Roxas shivered mentally at the image of those razor sharp blades glinting with the rain running down their shafts. Outwardly he remained unimpressed save for a glint of respect in his eye for the professionalism of the French honor guard.

"I am not in the business of punishing anybody for the weather, ma'am." The Emperor smiled slightly and bent a bit to take the otstretched umbrella. He opened it with practiced ease, having come from a tropical nation and strode with his escort to the awaiting limousine. The ride was pleasant enough, passing through areas which could easily have been the countryside in Imperial provinces. Only after the palace crested the hoizon did elements of Empire come into perspective.

He stepped out of the limousine, nodding gratefully to the driver before following his escort. The gardens were truly a sight reminiscent of the jungles of his homeland, only...tame. Bent to the will of man in ways that the Amazon would never allow. His musings were cut off as they entered a wondrous hall chronicling the achievements of France in the Enlightenment, a critical age passed so long ago. Mirrored halls watched those who passed, shaped to catch and reflect the sounds uttered in it's halls so one may rethink their deepest thoughts.

A regal room with the colors of royalty and banners regally proclaiming the past glory of France. Statues and emblazons decorated the room with a beauty unheard of in the brutally utilitarian mixed architecture of Foundation's throne room. He strode forward eagerly, followed by his retainer Roxas, who holstered his weapon out of respect for the Empress and her advisors. The Emperor bowed his head slightly in the action of one Dread Sovereign acknowledging the existence of another.

He grasped her hands with a brisk energy, smiling while he responded. "My dear Theresa, the pleasure is all mine. I can see yu've done quite well for yourself since the last time we met." He sat in the proferred chair, taking the offered glass with a nod of thanks. He listened with rapt attention as she spoke, and made his reply.

"These are troubling times, Theresa. My nation is strong, yes. But at present there is no way for me to insure my own safety in the face of the extremely dangerous nations which have formed to the north. Two or three at a time, yes. But not all. Which is why I would be more than happy to welcome France as both a stailizing influence and an ally against the expansionist tendency of North America."

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"Yes." Therese said as she looked around the room and smiling at Kevin. "France has indeed come a long way, I have been honestly surprised with what we have been able to accomplish in these past few years. Securing our people and now the beginning phases of expanding our territory across the world. Needless to say, from one expansionist to the other, we can be friendly and stabilizing at the same time and I think that is why Holy America and France can work together so incredibly well. Our own designs in the north, in gaining influence within the Confederation of Arctic Nations, as well as individually with the Republic of York and J Andres shows promise for a strong French alliance. At the moment I don't believe anyone has ill wishes towards us. Besides maybe the Dystopian Movement attacking Tahoe, but I'm not extremely worried about that either."

"France has already secured a very strong relationship with South Germany, one that I believe will help change the world in our favor. If Holy America has designs on North America, as I'm sure you do in someway, either by land or influence. Then I believe we could aid each other in some way. Technologically, economically, and most definitely militarily. At least if Holy America comes under the attack of one of their neighbors. An entire continent secured is no easy task and I would hate to see you suffer the same fate as Tahoe, having your people ripped away from a coalition of nations. Though Tahoe's domestic actions..." Therese shook her head. "That is a war that Satan himself could not have created."

"Mind you I don't want to impose something that Holy America is not ready for nor do I want to outstretch either ourselves or yourselves. But the possibility of strength across the Atlantic as well as future security for us both, is something that I think would be very useful. Don't you agree Kevin." She smiled, tilting her head and taking a long drink of wine from her glass. "After all, I believe we're too people who understand each other."

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Kevin carefully did not mention the fact that the Empress most certainly had machinations where North AND South America were concerned. He noted with grim satisfaction that the French Empress was being brutally honest in everything she had said thus far; the French were drawing outlying factions of North America like a magnet. Soon the nation would be polarized into at a maximum three camps, and it would do no good to have the Empire sitting betwixt them.

"I can see what you mean, about stabilization. Unfortunately sometimes one must use an iron fist within the glove." He sighed at the bad memories. "With Tahoe vanquished for the foreseeable future, one could assume that the Continent will see bushfire wars as its' denizens vie for influence. I hope the French can work together with us to stave off the worst of the damage."

He took a draw of wine. "What I propose is Mutual Defense; nothing less. Perhaps we can add to that as we go along, but my priority as of now is keeping us both out of the tensions brimming on the continent. In a strictly long-term sense, however, it stands to reason to add some sort of economic stimulus to whatever treaty we establish.

"Which means, my dear Theresa, that I am offering free passage through both the Canal and Southern Passage to all ships bearing the French Empire's flag." He said with a sly smile. "I'm sure this will benefit both of our nations immensely.

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As he finished his sentences, Therese could see that even as confident as the Emperor looked, there was an underlying nervousness to his words. She smiled as he finished talking about the canal in Central America and laid her hand on his leg, patting his knee. "Kevin, trust me, I have no intention of making you upset with my ambitions, but I don't believe people like us should hide the truth from one another either. Everything you have proposed are things I can fully agree with." She sighed and leaned back on her throne. "As I expected, the world is moving to counter us, however slow and this will show who our true allies are and who we might not be able to count on in the future and of course..." The Empress smiled. "Who I can count to invade me as well. The Eggmen of Greenland have been quite hostile, as well as Atlantis and Finland, therefore all potential targets in a way to rid of, so that they do not interfere with French plans on the continent, either in Europe or America."

"If and when Tahoe disappears, because in all respect I don't believe the nation will be completely vanquished, the new owners of North America, The United States and those members of the Confederation of Arctic Nations will move to restrict anything that is a threat to their power and given the United States' treaty web with the developing nations of the Slavic Federation and the United States of China, there is the potential for a larger scale conflict then we could think of otherwise. Though so long as the United States keeps their promises of a desire of isolation, then I have no real problems. But these are all speculations for the future."

Removing her hand and clasping it with her other, she turned to the Foreign Minister and smiled. "Charles, surely you have one of the Mutual Defense Pacts laying around for the two of us to make the Holy American-French Alliance official?"

Charles nodded and ran off for a moment, returned minutes later with a piece of parchment and a pen.

[b]Article I: Recognition[/b]
Both signatories recognize the Sovereignty of the each other. Under this Agreement, both signatory nations shall not invade, claim, or otherwise compromise the each other’s Sovereignty.

[b]Article II: Mutual Defense[/b]
Under this agreement, both signatories are to come to the each other’s aid in event of war and otherwise. As such, an act of aggression and/or war on one signatory nation is, thus, an act of aggression and/or war on the other, and shall be dealt with appropriately.

[b]Article III: Intelligence[/b]
If any of both signatory nations receive information of any kind that is crucial or otherwise important to the well-beings of both signatory nations, they are expected to share the said information with the each other.

[b]Article IV: Economics and Trade[/b]
Both signatories agree to reduce tariffs between trade with each other. In the wake of war, internal issues (Such as revolutions) or deficit, both signatories agree to help in the rebuilding of their country. Any goods being sold to each other will have a reduced price.

[b]Article V: Cancellation[/b]
Upon wishing to cancel this agreement, the signatory must give seventy two hours notice. Cancellation is prohibited in times of war.

[u]Signed for the Empire of France,[/u]

[i]Therese Zelle[/i]
[b]Empress of France[/b]

[i]Charles Talles[/i]
[b]Foreign Minister[/b]

[u]Signed for the Holy American Empire,[/u]



"You find this agreeable Kevin?"

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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With a flourish, the Emperor added his signature.


"This is such a large step forward, the entire world will come to remember this day when two Empires stood against the predations of others." He smiled in relief, having attained one powerful ally in the world. "I must say I agree with you; the disappearance of Tahoe is something which I have no stomach for. They serve as much too useful of a counterweight for me to do anything about.

"But hopefully all of this war-preparation will be for naught. Concerning your current fighting in Spain..." His smile grew more predatory, and gleaming teeth showed in the grimace. "I am sure we could come to some sort of agreement for transferring weaponry. That is, if you feel you might need it."

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Therese laughed, her entire face brightening at the Imperator's grimace. She turned to Talles and her other advisors and nodded. "Leave us, I wish to have private words with the Imperator." They got up from their seats and exited the room as the Empress leaned forward. "Kevin, I have met a great deal of world leaders in the past few days since the Empire was birthed and I must say I enjoy the company of those who wish to change the world for their own benefit. Galicia is falling as we speak though in their place a new nation shall rise up one that will serve itself and the glories of France. I can tell you something Kevin, when I was a child, if I had not been educated by my father, I would scarce know that there was such a thing as France, that there were such a people as the French. I knew Welsh, I knew Nordlander, I knew German and Scottish and they scorned us, over an over. They ravaged our country and our people for our embarrassments in a bygone past. We have rarely been ruled by our own people Kevin, pretenders and foreigners all of them and that ends with this Empire. All I want, all France wants is for its history returned, its glory returned. I will do anything to achieve that."

She laid a soft hand across his face and smiled. "You are a warrior, there is no doubt of that and I am sure you can identify in some way with my fight. This is our age..." Therese said softly. "This is our destiny...nothing is more true..." Closing her eyes she smiled. "Tzeentch would have it no other way."

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Kevin's first thought: [i]'Oh, !@#$.'[/i]

Kevin's second thought: [i]'That explains a lot.'[/i]

He continued. "I wasn't aware anybody outside of the Empire was even aware of Chaos, much less practices it." He smiled slightly, but the gesture was different; with a bit of steel in it. "The Lord of Change finds a way, I suppose." He cupped her hand in his. "I always seemed to lean towards Khorne, in my youth. But I much prefer all of Chaos to one individual aspect."

His smile grew. "When did you learn of Chaos?"

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"When I was younger, while books on the practice of Chaos were banned in both Nordland and the Welsh Empire, I always found a way. I took to the stories, the prophecies, the scripture, like a moth to the flame. Kevin, in those days, with no France, with no identity, I prayed to God everyday, I prayed that one day something would change, that the wheels of motion would move and that France would be free again. It never came, but when I began to exalt Tzeentch and his ways of change, of free move, of chaos, I truly think I could see the light to the world. Watching the Welsh fall, then watching Nordland fall and for the first time a French Republic." Therese closed her eyes and clenched her fist around Kevin's hands as anger swelled up in her eyes. "Mamare was a traitor, a bureaucrat, nothing more, he drove the country to ruin and then the pretenders came into power."

She looked away for a moment, a brief stint of perhaps tears or madness in her eyes. "Tzeentch spoke to me...in a dream...before the rise of Aquitaine. He said that I had been one of his most loyal subjects and that he had given me Aquitaine as a reward for my devotion since a child. He said he would give power to France, to me, to my ambitions. Needless to say I have been praying to him ever since. Naturally in private, as France is a Catholic nation and always will be. But myself, I am a Champion of Tzeentch, no doubt. However, like you Kevin, there is only a balance in understanding all of the gods, not just one or two. Khorne gives me my strength, Tzeentch my mind, Slaanesh my body, and Nurgle my longevity. But yes, while there are few of us, perhaps maybe even only myself. There is at least one that understands the ways of Chaos."

"I hope that doesn't change your opinion about me Kevin." She smiled, her smile the same fierceness that he showed originally. There was a hidden strength to her, there was no doubt of that.

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Kevin was aware of many books on the subject of Chaos; the Bible equivalent was known as the Codex Daemonica. It detailed all the rituals for the individual cults, as well as a few Chaos Undivided spells. The four primary deities were constantly vying for mortal subjects, so why would Kevin be surprised by the cult growing in Europe?

[i]'Because nobody else has ever shown signs of Chaos?'[/i] A voice echoed in the back of his head.

Ignoring it, the Emperor continued. "As one mortal to another, do not make any sort of mistake with the Lord of Change. His plans don't necessarily involve either of us surviving." Kevin did not mention which God he served specifically, for it was highly unlikely Theresa had heard of the Renegade God himself.

"Us Champions of Chaos, we must work together to bring its' glory to the denizens of this world. Of course you agree." A flare of daemonic red briefly illuminated Kevin's mechanical eye. "This world is the property of the Dark Gods and nobody, not the heretical Nords or anybody else can hope to stop them."

"On topics of a more practical matter, not that I don't love discussing philosophy..." Kevin smiled radiantly. "I can deploy a single division; the Iron Warriors from the Azores to Spain within a days' notice. If you require any sort of help...?"

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"Not needed Kevin, the Galician conflict is all but over, though I do appreciate it." She sighed. "I have a feeling that what you said, us not surviving, that perhaps we aren't part of the greater destiny of the world. It saddens me even though I know its true. That is why I think you and I have to stick together, you, I, and many of the rest of Holy America and France's allies. The world is ripe for change and there are other movements already taking place, but they don't have the strength that we hold. Save your soldiers for the future as I will mine, they will do better when France or Holy America are under siege themselves."

"But you speak truth." Therese smiled. "This world is Their property and nothing but heresy stands in our way of cleansing it." She looked down at the ground. "Perhaps Kevin you might want to see something that I have created for myself, deep within Versailles. A shrine of sorts, dedicated to the Lord of Change himself." The Empress chuckled. "Its where I do my plotting as well as well as a few other experiments. I think I can trust you as a fellow man of the faith. Unless of course you have other pressing matters of state to attend to of which I can have the Guard see you out." But in her eyes there was a yearning of wanting him to come with her and she didn't do anything to hide it at all.

Therese stood. "Either why I will be heading there, if you choose to come, follow me."

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A sense of yearning, something that Kevin had not felt for years welled up inside of him. And it was at this point that Kevin stopped thinking of himself as The Emperor and more as just Kevin Holihan, a man in a world gone mad. He stood up with the woman which had professed knowledge of the arts he had thought lost to the entire world, and matched the look in her eyes with one almost identical. "My lady, it would most certainly be my pleasure to see your shrine. The world of business can wait for us, my dear."

Being a servant of Malal, Kevin had seen quite a few secret shrines in his day. Backwater, regal, and every increment between. But it was a rare surprise to be granted access to one of the sanctuaries of Tzeentch, especially in such elaborate quarters. He was eager, to say the least and not just in a scholarly sense. The revelation both surprised and pleased Kevin.

"Yes, indeed it can wait."

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Therese stood and without saying another word began to lead Kevin across the corridors of Versailles, it had been hours since they had started talking and the sun had already set below the clouds ushering the evening. Passing through the doors of the palace to the outer gardens and courtyards a light mist still hung in the air from the recent rain and the smell of wet flowers and burning incense filled the air, immediately relaxing the Empress' nerves. Off of the stone paths, the two leaders headed into the gardens. The Royal Gardens of Versailles were vast to put it mildly, a wide array of trees, classical architecture coming from the natural setting and in the distance, an iron gate that led into the garden maze of the palace, the most expansive structure in Versailles aside from the palace itself. Therese walked up to the large gate and reached into her dress and pulled out a thick iron key, it almost seemed ancient in design, with a symbol of a snake running the length of the key.

"We'll be the only ones in the garden tonight, no one is allowed in after dark." She smiled. "Only me."

The gate opened with a creak as the Empress led Kevin forward through the tall dark shrubs, around them statues of snakes stared at them with jeweled eyes, reflecting beautifully in the mist and the moonlight. Therese moved through the winding pathways like a well practiced dance however and further and further they descended into the maze, making left and right turns before they came to a small hole in the shrubs. She ducked down to reveal a small latch that in turn pulled up a metal door. She put in a code and with a puff of steam the door opened and Therese led Kevin further down the hole into the darkness below.

Amidst dim sconces they walked down the stairs to a long corridor of brick and marble. "I had this build right after the civil war, when I became Empress. It is one of the only secret ways out of Versailles as well. Only myself and General Delacour know of its existence and if times, should they become bad, and one of us must escape, it will be down this route." She stopped at a second door and turned, this one that had another great snake staring down at them. Pushing the door forward, Therese led Kevin into a large open circular room, along the walls and floors, mosaics and portraits of hideous creatures of the underworld and of the earth, while at the center of the room a burning censor of incense as well as a series of books laid out across the floor.

She sighed. "I realize that for the elegance of Versailles this looks little more than an archaic library with the books everywhere. But this is my shrine to the Lord of Change. He speaks to me here, like he always has." Therese turned to the incense. "There..." She said closing her eyes, her features and stress seeming to melt away all at once. The Shaman encased in her own atmosphere.

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Kevin sat down in the shrine, at ease with the religious setting. The tapestries were works of chaos itself, beautiful and yet evil at the same time. Weaker-willed people would see themselves within, fighting and winning their battles; becoming master of their world and capable of everything. If they continued to look and truly believed in the illusion, their souls were forever lost to Chaos and fed to the daemons lurking within the beautiful works. However, with two so strong-willed as Theresa and Kevin they appeared as what they were; daemons beneath the facade of paint.

"A truly beautiful sanctuary, Theresa. Amazing..." He gazed around the room with a sense of acceptance and respect. Though cathedrals to Malal were less ornate; they held many, many traps within for the leery and feeble-minded. Tzeentch was apparently more trusting than the Renegade God. He muttered to himself happily content with his surroundings.

"Truly beautiful." And he wasn't just talking about the cathedral.

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"I thought you would like it." She smiled back at him. "I've had to keep this hidden, given the religious strength towards Catholicism in the nation. I'd be killed or at least branded for sure to be part of the Chaos Cult, but no one knows about this place and I am free to worship in solitude. But I don't want to keep you here all day and night for that matter. If you would have it, my servants have put together a room for you to stay in Versailles if you so chose. Otherwise, I can be sure to let Claire know to drive you back to the the airport."

Taking his hand, Therese led Kevin out of the shrine and back to the surface, walking out of the maze garden with the mist of the recent rainfall still in the air. She took a deep breath and looked over at Kevin. "I feel something, in the air. Something is going to change, something..."

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"Everything changes with time, my friend." His other hand came up and cupped her cheek in a gesture universally known around the planet. "The entire world changes according to the will of those who choose to shape it, and He who guides their hands. I'm sure that you know that. After all," he leaned in, his lips bare inches from hers. "change is something you and I both thrive off of." He closed the distance slowly and placed a single kiss on Theresa's lips before pulling away slowly and straightening. He smiled slowly and let go of her hand.

"Well, it's been an interesting evening. I do believe I'll retire to bed." He stretched and smiled before walking down the hallway. "I'll see you in the morning, we have quite a few things to hash out. It's going to be a loooooong day." And with that, he winked and walked away, the barest hint of promise glinting in his good eye.

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OOC: Authors note, from this point on, this thread takes a turn into the mystical and unrealistic. I realize that many in CNRP do not view this as possible, therefore, if you are one of those people, disregard this as non-canon. If you are one of those mystical people then please read on. I do not want to get into an argument about what is allowed or what is not allowed, therefore instead of causing a fuss. Just don't read it, you have been warned.


Therese couldn't help but blush as her eyes widened as the Imperator's lips met her own. Her hands quivered for a moment as they finally parted on the rain soaked steps of the palace. He walked in himself, led by the maids up to his room on the upper levels of the palace while Therese simply stood there looking out towards the hazy moon above her. She ran her fingers across her red lips and took a deep breath. "I...thank...thank you." The Empress knew that he wouldn't be able to hear her, but it needed to be said. He was handsome after all, a powerful leader, both of them were, and both were followers of the ways of Chaos and perhaps it was that which brought them so close together. "You have plans for me, for us, don't you My Lord." She said looking up at the sky. "You delivered France for me, you have given me the birth of a great Empire. I promise to serve you always for what destruction and decay of those around me, what has been given to France." She put her hand over her heart and bowed her head. "I am your most faithful servant, forever and always, I only ask for your strength and your wisdom." Lifting her head up again the Empress opened the doors of the palace and journeyed through the dark up to her personal quarters.

After getting undressed, a long shower, and into her nightgown, Therese waded softly over to her bed and climbed in over the large covers. The thought that the Imperator's room was close by briefly went through her mind, but she pushed it back. A lady was never to behave in such a way, especially with a young man that she had only just met, even if he was probably older than the twenty-six year old Empress. Laying her head against the pillow, Therese closed her eyes and began to drift off to sleep. The near sounds of rustling in the trees outside her window, she paid no attention to at all...

Her white dress flowed behind her beautifully as she walked across a dying field, Therese was barefoot and the cracked ground that bled black mud made her tramp slowly, her feet encased in the muck. Around her, on the edges of the field there were forests, dead forests, vultures stood on branches looking down at her, while an angry and piercing moon high above her lit up the field in a dreary white fog that constricted her vision. With every step, she could hear the sloshing of the mud on her feet, the worms in the muck crawling up her toes, her ankles, her legs. She would shake them off to no avail as more worms would crawl up. The girl hugged her arms tightly around her body as she continued to walk towards the distant forest. "Hello? Anyone? Hello?" She said continuing to wade through the dying swamp, but there was only silence and the sound of her own feet in the mud. "Hello? Please? Is anyone there?"

The vultures, or perhaps they were ravens began to caw on the branches and Therese stepped back for a moment before stepping on something much larger than a worm, with distinct scales. She looked down to see her feet in the middle of legions of snakes. Her mouth opened wide, scared of what she saw and she tried to run away, but the snakes suddenly wrapped their bodies tighter around her feet so that she could no longer move. Therese's breathing became sporadic as she struggled to release her feet from the reptilian prison, but she couldn't move, no matter how hard she tried. "Help! Please! Someone help me!"

"If you must ask for help...then you are weak..." A voice said out of the snake pit. Therese looked over in the direction of the voice as the snakes on the ground began to part and one larger serpent began to crawl out from the pit. It was a bright red serpent with glowing green eyes that stood straight up out of the pit, looking directly at her. His tail still buried far beneath the pit of his brother and sister reptiles. The serpents tongue flashed for a minute as he approached Therese wrapping himself around her a few times and then withdrawing, as not to scare to crush her. He could smell her fear. "I should welcome you Therese Zelle, Empress of France, my Champion."

Therese's eyes widened at the serpents. "No. This can't be...Tzeentch?"

The serpent tilted its head and its glowing jade eyes flashed. "One of my many forms. I have watched you grow for some time now Therese Zelle. When you first came to me as a young woman you were weak, confused, stupid, watching your country being destroyed by the forces of Ordered Society, by the forces of outsiders, and in your confusion and desperation you sought my guidance, you sought my strength, and my wisdom. Do you see what has been accomplished?"

She took a deep breath. "I have always honored your name in secret, but I cannot lend it to the country itself. I would be deemed nothing more than a heretic. But I know that everything that has been given to France, to me, you have done for us."

The serpent chuckled, a frightening laugh. "You are too apologetic child, I have not brought you here to condemn you. If that was the case I would simply watch France burn by the other nations that want to see your collapse. But France is special, a nation of seemingly endless failure and mediocrity, which by your hand Therese has been raised to a great nation and you speak my name to do it. There is no greater honor than to see my plans sprawl out on the tapestries of history. No, I brought you here to offer you a gift. On this Earth there is no greater warrior dedicated to my name and my cause then yourself and thus only you Therese are fitting to take the honor of my Champion."

She leaned back for a moment. "Champion?"

"You are not of the light Therese, nor are you of the dark, you create your own light, that light is Chaos. The French expand, their armies advance across Iberia and eventually the world. It will be bloody, grotesque, but I will change you, you will inspire Chaos wherever you plant your feet. Wherever your name is repeated there will be gasps of fear at the coming decay and through that decay rebirth. Change, Chaos, Chance, they are the strength of life and both the accursed light and dark will retreat in haste and the arrival of my Champion. The Chosen of Tzeentch." The serpent seemed to beam as he said the words. "You need only to accept my gift and crusade in my name, my embodiment shall become one with you, you will have my eyes and I yours, my strength, my wisdom, my yearning. And you will remake the world Therese Zelle, open your soul..."

"I...I..." Therese stuttered in confusion, but could begin to feel her mouth open, her eyes open and her body open as the serpent approached her. His eyes still flashing and his tongue quivering violently.

"My Champion..."

Therese jumped up in her bed, sitting straight up, panting and sweating profusely. "A dream, it was only a drea-..." There through her window, the serpent from her dream appeared and while it did not talk it stared at her for a moment before letting lose a stream of venom shooting across the room. Therese jumped up to avoid being hit, but it was so quick that the venom lashed against her head and into her right eye. "ARRGGGHHH!" She screamed in pain falling into the wall of the bedroom, holding her eye as it burned through the retina. "No! What the..." The Empress looked back at the serpent, but its body was already beginning to deteriorate into a gas, a thick green gas that made its way across the room towards where Therese stood holding her eye. Slowly the gas began to envelop her, thickening as it did so, that it was more like a mist, a haze, maybe even a soft liquid that began to latch itself onto her skin and her body. "No! Get away from me! Get...help! Help! Someone! Ke-" She creamed as loud as she could before the gas cut her speech off.

The Empress felt herself thrown against the way, unable to talk, her bleeding eye forced open by the gas as it pushed its way up her mouth, her nostrils, and through her eyes. "H-h-h-e-e-l-l-p-p...me..." The pain was so great, she couldn't breath, she couldn't think, all she could feel was the pain of her bleeding eye and the gas coursing through her body. Finally, too overwhelmed Therese collapsed to the floor blacked out as the green gas finally began to smoke out from her skin leaving her passed out on the marble floor of her bedroom. Her right eye permanently damaged from the venom of the serpent.

She didn't know if it was seconds, minutes, or hours later that her eye parted open just ever so gently, as she cooed, feeling the warmth of someone's touch around her body.

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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  • 2 weeks later...

The Emperor strode casually into the room he was provided by a guiding maid, the clothes he had brought on the plane already laid out. He smiled at her and gave a friendly nod, which was met with a giggle and blush. Apparently she had been watching him in the garden. He grinned a bit at the thought but nonetheless continued into his room, a suite fit for a king and something he was not exactly used to. Kevin was once a soldier in the army; then a Rebel, and finally a president. His tastes on the subject of comfort tended alarmingly towards spartan when compared to the rest of the world's leaders. He eyed the massive bed with a bit of trepidation and elected to take a shower before anything else, seeing as it had been a long day.

As usual, Kevin wore the trench-coat of the Imperial Officer Corps, tailored in a fashion identical to his soldiers. Only one of the medals he had earned in combat was pinned to the breast; a single star with the word [i]Imperator[/i] spelled out across its' length, the award for preservation of the people in the face of overwhelming odds. The medal could only be awarded by a staff of one representative from each of the armed forces, which would vote on granting the right to wear the [i]Estrella Invictus.[/i] The title was roughly equivalent to other nations' highest medals, and was awarded to only 3 living people in the entire world; the Emperor, Roxas, and Proconsul Martinez. Paladin Julio was awarded the Star posthumously after giving his life in defense of Diberia and Boomtown during the Second Undead War.

The clothes beneath the uniform were light; designed to be worn for decency and comfort as opposed to the majesty of the coat above. These came off in scarce seconds, and the Emperor stepped into the shower with a sigh of pleasure.


Mists swirled and formed into a being defying reality behind the Emperor. He didn't turn around but merely spoke. "What would you have me do, minion of Malal?" His voice left no room in it's steel for a single quivering of self-doubt. In a deep place he wouldn't admit existed, even if he was aware of it, a voice babbled insanely about how Chaos was impossible in the mortal world; how he was damning himself by allying even with that which destroyed Chaos, that Chaos was everything and everything and give up your so-

The voice went away as the Emperor shook his head. There was more than one daemon in the area. He turned to face the ambassador from Malal.

"Ah, Emperor of the South. It is good to see you." The Daemon used the traditional greeting beings of Chaos addressed him by. "I have come to bear you news. Forces of mutual slaughter are moving. The powers of Khorne and Nurgle grow stronger with the wars and disease of portions of the world. It is in our best interests to keep their strength checked by allowing Slaanesh and Tzeentch to gain strength as well." The Daemon sniffed in derision, its' misty shape morphing with every god's name into a daemon affiliated with them.

The last shape it took on was that of Therese.

His eye widened at that, and the Daemon noticed. It laughed, slow at first. A deep, throaty chuckle which chilled Kevin to the bone. Quickly the creature's laughter grew in frequency and pitch to that of a woman, before escalating even further into a cacophony of noise which sounded less and less human with every second. Kevin quickly turned the shower off, and it disappeared as the mist dissipated with one final comment. "Help me, help me!" It laughed once more and was gone.


A spare uniform later, the Emperor was busy looking through his slight weapons cache he insisted on bringing everywhere. A single ancient Gorgon pistol only slightly younger than him, a halberd which always came in handy for killing things, and even a F.O.B. encrusted with runes and tapestries pronouncing against the powers of Chaos, something he always kept on his person to combat the Gods of Chaos whenever they attempted to get rid of him. The weapon's sheer holiness would cause most lesser Daemons to lose their grip on the material world just by being in its' presence.

His mind made up, the Emperor grabbed his slightly hypocritical weapon and stalked off to find Therese.

The halls of the palace were deserted, something which in and of itself was a major warning sign to the razor-sharp combat senses of the Emperor. He slunk between shadows and pillars, ever watchful of any daemonic presence which would try to stop him. From time to time whispers barely audible and shapes on the edges of his vision distracted him, but these apparitions never materialized to stop him. Kevin waited for them to disappear before kissing the top of his weapon and continuing.

Various serpents and other sinuous shapes coursed in his peripheral vision, tantalizing figures begging for his attention. Kevin kept his eyes firmly ahead and refused to pay the demonic figures any mind. Friends of his had their souls ripped from their bodies for far less when dealing with Tzeentch; trapped forever as a spirit and forced to watch something obscene occupying their body. Kevin shuddered at the thought and continued on. After all, nobody had ever accused the God of Change of being overtly kind.

He reached the room Therese was staying in and paused outside. The doorway was smoking from heat; hanging just on the edge of bursting into flames. Behind him a [url="http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/mediawiki/images/8/88/Lord_of_Change_by_Clint_Langley.jpg"]Lord of Change[/url] sat, idly watching the door and flicking his fingers in a perfect imitation of boredom. The digits ignited the air they moved through, burning holes in the atmosphere and creating a slight wind in the room. The Emperor turned slowly and stared at the creature with wide eyes, unaccustomed to being met by a Greater Daemon.

"Emperor of the South..." It began in a sibilant hiss. "I'm afraid you cannot go in there." It snapped its' fingers and the doorway burst into white-hot flames which refused to spread past the door they were somehow burning and yet not destroying it. "You see, your 'friend' is currently involved with one of my associates, and I cannot allow you to interfere with what is going on." Even before the creature finished, Kevin dodged behind a pillar as a disc of hell-fire moved lightning fast through the space where his head occupied. The daemon grunted in frustration.

"You are very difficult to read, Emperor." He responded with a blast from the F.O.B. which clipped one of the Lord's wings and forced it backwards with a scream of pain. The holy weapon cauterized the wound instantly, preventing its' powers from regrowing the limb for some time. It hissed in his direction and gestured, causing the pillar he was hiding behind to crumble into homicidal bricks intent on smashing him into a pulp. Kevin twisted and contorted, but one of the projectiles smashed him in the foot. He grimaced as his toes were pulverized but completed his turn and fired another shot at the Daemon, this time blasting an arm back into the warp.


He hobbled up to it and put the gun in its' face. "Tell me your name, hellspawn." His natural eye began fading to red as the chemicals in his body took effect. N-17 was highly volatile and yet it granted him the power to face down a Lord of Change.

It laughed wickedly and instead a great portal of darkness opened up beneath them, swallowing both up before disappearing. In the darkness, the Emperor lost his grip on the creature and jumped away, barely avoiding a tail slicing at him with the speed of a freight train. The Lord of Change screamed in frustration and backed away, stomping on the ground and dissipating the portal. What awaited him was a site he would never have thought possible; they were floating high above Imperial Center on some sort of platform.

The city was burning.

"See your future, mortal." The contempt in its' voice was acidic. "Your achievements, everything will be purged by the flame of war. This Therese you care about, she will help kill you personally." It grinned, exposing row after row of shark-like teeth in the beak of a bird. "Your nation will be bombed until its' cities are nothing but glass, your women and children sold as slaves for the benefit of Chaos. All will fa-" The Emperor ducked a razor-sharp dagger even as the creature was talking. Such was its' power that it hardly gestured and the weapon flew at him.

Kevin sprung to his feet and aimed another blast at the creature, catching it square in the mouth. It screeched out of the hole where its' majestic beak had been even as the Emperor flicked his wrist, causing two stiletto blades to protrude from his artificial fingers. He advanced quickly on the creature, lest it get away but was too late. Flickers of darkness erupted from the ground beneath the two as it writhed in pain. The Emperor shouted across to it. "I command you in the name of Malal, tell me your name!"

It shuddered and replied as if the very action caused it intense agony. "Kairos"

The darkness consumed them both, dissipating to show the Emperor the hallway just outside of Therese's room. He watched as the white hellfire faded from the door and noted with satisfaction that Kairos was gone. He kicked the door open and stopped, his jaw dropping as she screamed and mist enveloped her. It poured into her mouth and nose, pushing even through her eyes until it seemed her head would burst. While this was going on, a single phrase kept repeating in his mind over and over.
"My fault...My fault...My fault..."[/i]

He staggered over to her and dropped to his knees, dropping the holy gun behind him. Kevin paused for a moment before putting an arm beneath her still form and lifting her up as easily as a sack of flour; she weighed near nothing. He moved her over to the bed she had been thrown from and placed her on it as gently as he could manage in her apparently unconscious state. She was bleeding from various wounds inflicted by the unyielding wall.

"What happened here...?" The Emperor sighed to himself.

Edited by Shadowsage
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"Ugh..." Therese groaned as she opened her eyes, or tried to open both of them. Her right eye, she could feel was horrible mangled and there was an undying pain across her body, but she was too tired to scream. At first, the Empress had believed everything that had just transpired was a dream, hadn't it been? She had been crossing a wasteland, filled with snakes and serpents and out of the ground had appeared a great serpent who had talked about serving Tzeentch and he had called her 'his champion' and then she had awoken? Or at least she thought she had and that was when the second snake, the snake with the venom had appeared. Her eye! "My eye!" Therese jumped up in the bed, holding her hand against her bleeding eye, feeling the blood trickle down her fingers and her arm. "Tzeentch..." But she had been against the wall and looked to her left, seeing Kevin standing over her, smiling.

"Kevin?" She said weakly as the fatigue from the attack, possession, transformation took over and reached her hand to his own. "I...I..." Therese didn't want to seem like a woman gripped by insanity, but was there any other way to describe what she felt? "Why, why would he do this to me? You understand the ways of Chaos better than anyone in the world, please, I had this horrible dream. I was walking in a wasteland and the ground was covered in snakes, when this larger snake rose from the ground and told me that France had been created again to bring awe to her enemies and oppressors and he said that I was his Champion. But when I woke up that same snake...my eye." She clenched her fists. "It burns so much...and the gas...Kevin, what did he do to me?" She grabbed him by the collar and held him there for a moment, with surprising strength for a woman of her size and stature. Even in Therese's eyes, she seemed marveled by her action and her aggressiveness. But she quickly snapped out of it and looked back up at the Imperator. "What did he do to me?" Tears beginning to form in her eye.

"Please...Kevin...I'm scared."

Edited by Sarah Tintagyl
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  • 4 weeks later...

Kevin sighed and with considerable effort removed her tightly clutched hand from the fabric of his uniform. Outwardly he appeared uncaring, impassive. The leader who had subjugated a continent. Inwardly, he was afraid and confused as hell. "My dear," he began, "you have been claimed by Tzeentch before, yes?" He pointed to the demolished door and smoking corridor beyond. "I'm afraid nobody; not us, not even Tzeentch himself understands all of his schemes. But if I had to hazard a guess..." The Emperor paused and sought the words he needed to explain the situation.

He'd seen things like what had happened to Therese before. Daemons forcing their will upon mortals, mentally and physically as close to rape as the ethereal realm permitted betwixt mortals and daemons. [b]Possessions.[/b] The concept had long been ridiculed by mainstream religions; at least after they gained that popularity. All across the world unrelated instances of daemons gaining control of a mortal had been cataloged. Germany, the United States, Borneo. Even South America was infested with the creatures always lurking, waiting to pounce on the unguarded mind.

"Something attacked your mind. Your will. Perhaps it was to kill you, perhaps to strengthen you. I don't know. What I do know is that it couldn't have possibly been Tzeentch himself; or else this entire city would have disappeared into the Wa - the Immaterium. Therese," he continued softly. "you aren't the only one to have gone through something like this." He bowed his head slightly and almost as if planned, his artificial eye sparkled and glowed with a new light.

"You'll be okay, I promise." And with that he gathered the sobbing Queen up into his arms.

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