Ic: It'd been almost ten minutes since Inokio left Empress Yumiwa in her privy council chamber and the advisor was whiling the moments away ambling around the royal's private library. It was the same room he had bent his knee and proclaimed the then-chōjo as his sovereign and began putting her on a track she could never veer off of. It wasn't that his proclamation was what made her the rora, but the fact that he was the first to do it had tainted her apotheosis with a certain degree of expectation and solemnity. It had also cemented his position as one of her chiefest supporters, particularly in her eyes, and in that role he been molding her from afar while being close, veering things in her favour far in advance despite maintaining nearly no degrees of separation with the monarch.
There seemed to be no higher purpose in his pace while he strode calmly, nearly hugging the wall of the circular chamber, and from time to time he would pause, admire a volume and flip through the pages a bit before depositing it back from whence it came and resuming his walk. Like many things Atramentous did, however, there was a level of suspect in his actions shrouded in casual and innocuous fog. Everything had an explanation—an ancient feud, a modern lust, a simple demand—and the battlemaster was an expert in showing the inauspicious to disguise the sinister.
"Pardon, Your Lordship, but can I help with anything?" a fragile voice asked from the center of the room, at the stairwell. Inokio snapped his face towards the source. It was Yumiwa's youngest maid, Than. She timidly folded her hands at her crotch and looked at the floor as she explained her interruption. "I— Er, I saw you come in here and I... became curious when I thought I heard you shuffling about still..."
"Rest easy, Than," Inokio assured her. "I'm just whiling away a few free minutes to reacquaint myself with these books."
He thought that would satisfy the young meant, but the sliver of conversation instead emboldened her to step forward a little and look up. "Mistress Yumiwa speaks often of your erudition and teaching skill. I was wondering if there was any chance you would be able to tutor me. If—if you had spare time to sped with a lower-blooded—"
"I'd love to," Inokio said, then held the moment before continuing, "but it's not a matter of logistics or rank. Time can be found or made. Knowledge doesn't care who seeks it and answers all prayers just the same. Tell me, does Yumiwa know about your ambitions?"
"Well... no. Since her ascension to the throne I and the others have become more servants than friends to Her Majesty. I haven't had the opportunity to tell her what I want."
"I see." Inokio toyed with the thought and caressed a volume's spine for a mindful moment, leaving Thran waiting, something she had become increasingly used to doing. "What is it you want to learn about?"
"Everything," Thran said, assertive for the first time, and rattled off her interests while tapping her fingers. "Politics, naturalism, lore, combat. For all of Yumiwa's apparent nonchalance I know she's more cultured than the finest cheeses, and I want to be as learned as she is. I have very little to offer in return but perhaps you could maybe teach me like you did her."
The councillor chuckled heartily at the comparison and smiled broadly. He'd heard many witticisms, but contrasting the monarch to cheese was a new one even in his book. "Alright. I'll teach you when I can," he finally relented, impressed with Thran's creativity, if not her ambition or boldness. "That may be limited, but I will try."
"Can we start now?" Thran said, eagerly sitting at the nearest chair and expecting Inokio to waft over and deliver a lesson on the fly, but Inokio shook his head.
"No. I only had a few spare minutes, and that pool is now dried up. Another time—"
Crimson dominated. Thran, the books, the chairs, everything faded to washed-out red. Like a bloody nightmare that remained seared on the irises after waking, monochrome enveloped Inokio's mind. As though someone had flashed a bright light into Inokio's eyes, a single emblem erupted into his view and only gradually diluted itself into the background. Clan Anguvur's sigil was the symbol the councilor was waiting for, a sign that Yumiwa's diplomacy had won and the Tajaar clans would heed the throne again.
Of course, Yumiwa could have used some more finesse with her delivery. Inokio blinked rapidly to rid himself of the rora's mental imprint on his mind. Thankfully, while her execution of Willhammer was overwhelming, it was also hasty with enthusiasm and not lasting beyond the initial slap in the face.
He sighed, then picked his satchel up and strode past Thran to the stairs. "Another time, Thran, I promise." With a wink, he fled the room. This time, it seemed, his purpose was innocent. Books always did calm him, and he needed a peaceful respite while awaiting the rora's message. Thran, however, had opened a new avenue he hadn't considered before. Perhaps that was a road that required more investigation than his idle paces 'round a room.