The woman looked away stubbornly, not ready to listen to Rua's arguments. So he was going to try and play the 'what you did was just as deceptive' card? Fat chance she would have told him half the blue-white goons were chasing after her. Even fatter chance she'd have told him why. It was one thing not to dig up your past with someone. It was another thing not to mention that Satan was in the next house down.
"Yeah," Terrel retorted hotly, "you got me, the super-thief. Just messin' everything up, as usual. Everything you said is true and all of it sounds like a great list of reasons why you should leave me alone right now."
Tsuminar -- Stamarian Tower, 142nd Floor
Elevator doors, somehow blending with the bamboo floors, dark stones, and sweeping architecture, opened to reveal a young woman, not hardly twenty. She was short and narrow, but she held herself so straight it almost seemed she was tall and broad anyway. Platinum blonde curls descended just past her shoulders, framing a stern face with a jaw line fine enough to take her face from beautiful to handsome. Cold blue eyes dominated her fair skinned face, but the corners of them were perhaps the slightest hint of red.
Image was everything, she reminded herself. Be strong with them; they would respect you.
On her right shoulder was the Stamarian crest, a blue and white badge etching a silhouette of the Thunder Bird Aurinar fancied so much. The ribbons descending from her left shoulder, though, indicated her rank, placing her among only a handful of people directly beneath the emperor himself. She wore them proudly.
As the woman stepped from the elevator, she immediately made eye contact with the secretary, a sharp looking man who flinched slightly at her gaze. She had been told she looked hard. She felt hard, right now.
"He'll see you now, Ms. Gladish," he said politely, gesturing to the doors that led to the single office on this floor.
Tsuminarians were ridiculously lavish, at times, with their impossibly high architecture and superior technology. Much of this game was living in the stone-age, practically, but Tsuminar enjoyed the privileges of a technology that by and large could not leave the city. Oh, they made weapons and armor, but no one could reproduce the metropolis without its core component. Naturally, the Stamarians had taken to it quickly. It figured they would dedicate an entire floor of a tower to one man's office, as if it were some penthouse or mansion.
She walked up to the door briskly, though, and grabbed both door handles firmly. With one last deep breath, she opened both doors at once, walking into the man's office boldly.
He was standing, facing the other window in some clichéd thoughtful pose, and she couldn't help but disdain him. His body was perfect--of course it was, here in this game--but he still seemed to have the sense of a heavier man. The way he fumbled with his pen, cracked his neck stiffly, or rubbed at his nose where his glasses should be, all spoke of a lifetime in a body that looked very little like the one here.
"Pius," she announced herself by naming him. After the recent events, she would supersede him soon. If it were not for the events themselves, she would have been incredibly happy about the matter, but as it stood, the only thing she took pleasure in was knowing he would be beneath her soon.
"Ah, Elle'n, I appreciate your time here today. Please, please, come sit," he instructed, waving at a straight-backed, uncomfortable looking chair on the other side of her desk.
She resisted a twinge of annoyance. Still he insisted on using her first name, even now. Nodding at him coldly, she walked to the seat and took it, ignoring the back and sitting just as straight on the edge of the chair. Wordlessly, she straightened out the folds in her skirt and tugged her white gloves on a little firmer.
"What did you need, Pius? I've already begun the preparations to tie up my father's work, and I've been working on a plan of my own, for these next few months in his stead."
"Ahhh, Elle'n," there was the name again--no respect, "your father's death was more tragic than I can describe. He was a great friend to me and even the emperor, you'll know. Don't you think it would be appropriate to take some time? Gather yourself and perhaps stay somewhere safe?"
"My father's death," she responded, taking a breath to avoid stuttering even a single letter, "was the result of Project Theta. He was a great man, and he left me a legacy to attend to here. Even if I'm a slave to this game as well, I'll uphold that nonetheless. His death means--"
"--It means we have much reason to mourn, Elle'n. You don't need to hold yourself so tightly around me, girl, I'm sure the pain is immeasurable. I can't begin to imagine--"
"--How much work there is to be done?" she completed his sentence in return, biting off the last word harshly. "If I'm to take his place, then I can't--I won't--cry myself to sleep each night."
Pius looked uncomfortable, suddenly, and Elle'n narrowed her eyes as soon as she caught it. What was it? That look in his eyes, even the game couldn't mask what he was feeling. It was a modicum of sympathy, but it was mixed with something familiar too. Something she saw every morning in the mirror...