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Hester Blue, Austan Rat catcher

NameHester Blue
GenderCis female (She/Her/Hers)
TimezoneCalifornia UTC -6

“A certain light was beginning to dawn dimly within her,—the light which, showing the way, forbids it.”

I do not belong here, Hester thinks.

She is looking at herself in the mirror of a castle powder room, a small, poorly lit square of a room. The walls are decorated with not much else other than the slab of reflective silver in which she watches her own shadowy green eyes blink; a girl she almost doesn’t recognize looks back at her, in a wine-colored dress drawn tight around the waist, the rim of her glasses glimmering in the dim light. Her hair is twisted into its usual braids of alternating black and white. 

But in the half-darkness her freckles are lost, and the bow of her lips, and Hero, who sits on her shoulder and nibbles at a lock of pale hair impatiently. When Hester lets out her breath, it is a hard sigh that echoes against the cobblestone. Through the door, the sounds of the world still manage to filter in—the humming lilt of conversation, the sweet whine of the string quartet. The movement of the crowds as they dance through the halls stirs up another layer of gentle noise. 

But still she feels alone, removed. Hester is not even sure why, exactly she came, except for morbid curiosity, which now feels like a foolish reason to do anything at all; the longer she stands in here, the more regret she begins to feel. The crowd her is a little too highbrow, too refined, too rich, each noble wearing more jewelry at once than she owns in total. Even worse, they know. They look at her sideways, with shiftily narrowed eyes. They step much further than they need to let her pass. When she finally, meekly, pushes her way from the silent comfort of the powder room back into the bustling hallway, they even whisper a little, and two girls her age in frothy pink dresses laugh behind their hands.

Hester blows out a short breath. On her shoulder, Hero digs his little claws in deeper in an effort not to get knocked off as Hettie weaves through the dense crowd toward the buffet. The music is louder here, almost overwhelming. Everywhere she looks there is a new kind of sparkle—crystal chandeliers, gauzy swags of chiffon curtain, glittering vases filled with exotic flowers or the glint of gold rings. And the crowd is swirling like a whirlpool now as everyone splits into dancing pairs and the clicking of shoes on tile picks up speed and rhythm; Hester is nearly knocked off her feet as the heartrate of the whole room gets wilder and faster.

She presses back against the wall, out of the way of the people, and lays her hand on Hero.

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Caulder Minaran, Sunna King's Hunter

NameCaulder Minaran
GenderMale (he/him/his)
TimezoneCalifornia UTC -8

(Will edit later with a text table)

I belong here, Caulder thought.

The laughter, the golden light shimmering over opulent wealth, oceans of meaning communicated over a glance, of a coy smile over a fan, of a slight gesture of one's hand. He moved from circle to circle, and a hundred eyes raked over his elegant attire that bore marks of honor of the many dragon hunts he'd led. They crooned and fawned over him, and their words and eyes felt physical, reaching and clamoring to claim. They touched his dark sleeve and rings with subtle smiles, roved their eyes over the golden Sunni sash across his chest, his dark mask embroidered with golden dragon scales, over his long hair that fell down his back like a silken river. They asked him if he had met the Human King himself, if he was close with him after all the dragons he'd presented to court. And though he returned those subtle smiles with gentleness, something in him roared, Soon I will be. He will be more than an idol on my altar ere long.

The music came to a crescendo, pulling his circles to the floor, and he gently removed himself from their clinging eyes and hungry, yawning pauses that begged him to ask for a dance. Once a flute of champagne from the buffet table met his hand, he watched the glorious upper echelon of his city dance as easily as breathing. He watched each turn, each sweep of skirts and turn of the hand, knowing that the rooms that pretended ease were merely another kind of battle, where weakness became blood in the air that could bring predators to tear you down.

And just as he thought so, he heard the tittering laughter that preyed on such weakness, and he searched for the source. Two girls in rose-pink curled their shoulders and joined youths to dance, murmuring false pity of a young lady in red who shyly clung to the wall, her hand tucked over her shoulder and into her hair.

He made his way over to her patiently and without hurry. Once he was a few paces from her, he said gently, "Are you alright, my lady?" This close, he saw how lovely she was. Soft eyes, a perfect heart-shaped face, and a deep red dress that matched her lips. How strange that she didn't have a clamoring of men asking for her company. He gave a small smile to her. "I thought I was the only one who wouldn't dance tonight. I've yet to perfect how Kastalians dance, and stars forbid if I'd join them with anything less than perfection."

Her hair moved, and he saw something peek through her hair.


It took him a moment, but that was definitely a rat that she had her hand on. For comfort, it looked like, (for there was no way she did not know it was there on her shoulder, surely).

When this processed properly, his smile became warmer. "But perhaps you merely don't want to leave your friend behind."

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