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Narcissa

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Narcissa last won the day on September 12 2015

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About Narcissa

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  • Birthday 07/09/1989

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  1. Narcissa

    General chat thread

    I'm moving the day after tomorrow, and after work throwing me through the ringer with newly-started peak season, I'm still only like 75% done with packing, and I'm majorly failing at my responserbileries. CAN'T ADULT. CAN'T EVEN. Sorry that I'm late on posts, to those I owe, I plan on having things along once I have my internet connection set up at the new place.... once I actually call them and do the thing.
  2. "Mages don't do that," Johanna answered to his gruesome images of boiled children and virgin blood, with a disgusted wrinkle of her nose, but hesitated a moment after before continuing, "--At least, I don't think they do. What you describe sounds more like a witch, some sort of harpy. The High Lords haven't allowed that sort of magic for centuries." The knight of House Dormaeus certainly wasn't the foremost expert on mages, but she knew well enough the stories. The mages around Genesaris were a more intellectual covenant, based mainly in the college of higher magicks in Mageside, though magic was ever-present throughout the continent. The ruling bodies had seen well to govern it with moral laws, though it could hardly be expected to keep every nefarious bit of foul intent out of its borders. "The blood mages, I've heard they treat it like some sort of life force, the way other mages take their powers from nature. Most of them are vampyres, much like the lady Thaladred. I'd hardly know-- it's all hogswallow to me. Magic is far too complicated." Magic wasn't as prevalent in Nvengaria, so far removed from the continent, a tropical paradise in the far, far reaches of the Cold South's territory. And Johanna didn't need magic to knock a man off a horse. Even from beneath the cloth that wrapped loosely around the lower half of her face, it did little to hide the often shift of a grimace from beneath it. For a few moments, she missed how her emotions would've been less transparent through her helm, but the comfort and visibility afforded through her hood and scarf was of much greater import. Johanna knew his type by the bluster of his voice, the rooster-like puffing of his chest, the ego that could fill a room (and then some), the kind that Ada always seemed to diffuse with little more than a bat of her eyes and a clever line or two. The Blue Knight had less skill with vague words and more finesse with a lance, but she couldn't very well knock Ouma off a horse to prove her point. Thus, she was unable to hide her disfavor for his more crude choices of words, and could see the satisfaction he gained from seeing it bother her. So, the knight kept her green eyes ahead, refusing to direct her glowering stares down at the under-dressed red mage, so severely she might've burned a hole into the snow in front of her. "Should listen again, to this God of yours," Johanna chided back, "You might have misheard; perhaps he wants this cross-dresser to drag you behind her horse, instead. That could be arranged." She snorted with bitter humor through her scarf, which seeped through the fabric in a cloud of dust. From beneath the layers, she looked like a heap of furs on top of the back of the tall Clydesdale, with two pale green eyes sitting in a bed of freckles, and two auburn-red eyebrows hidden in the midst, which conveyed enough of her feelings towards her company, which was obviously less than amused. Johanna was silent through any further ruffling of her feathers, as he was too keen on trying to goad her into banter. The snow was coming down steadily, light enough that she hadn't yet lost hope that the tracks would have been erased beneath, but she doubted they'd remain that way. When they were about to draw closer to the river's bank, her back arched as she sat up straighter on her steed, eyes aglint with recognition, and spurred him into a high-legged trot in the snow. There was mud tracked in the snow, in round, circular prints circling the area, all the way up to the bank of the river, a bit disorderly, but apparent enough. "This is about where we had to turn back, we were a bit further south, back down the bend. It must've stopped here for water, unable to cross and unsure how to return to it's Lady," Johanna said as she held onto the reigns to stall her horse, her pale olive irises shifting methodically beneath the hood as she made out the path. When she reached their end, they led along along the bank, in short distance between one another. "This way," the Blue Knight commanded, with a pull, directing the steed away from the edge of the river to beware Ada's misplaced footing, and avoid any more accidents. They traveled together up the bank for some time, the snow falling lightly around them. It piled on the trees, which held as much as it could until branches gave way, depositing a wet pile at its trunk; the flurry of snowflakes over the streaming rush of the river disappeared into nothing as they hit the surface, swept away and melted as it pooled over the rocks and bends, still moving swiftly enough to not have been frozen over. The snow was high over the bank, from twisting groves of vines overlapped around the edges, and from the way it squished beneath her Clydesdale's hooves, she could tell it was muddy. Johanna prompted her horse cautiously along, watching the tracks steadily from higher ground. "They're spaced evenly, close together," she observed, and cast a look back far behind Ouma with a bob of her head. "Means it's walking. If it hasn't gotten too far, we should catch up on it, soon. With any luck, we'll have it in hand and on our way back to the Singing Boar before the Magestorm..." Johanna's voice trailed off, suddenly, as she careened a look ahead with a thinning squint of her eyes. The mud was still dark enough to highlight the path, but just ahead was no longer just the round-hoofed path of Lady Moray's horse-- but the addition of big footprints that veered out of the river, with a thick sole and long five-digit toes, nearly as big as her horse's head. It followed the path of the horse, one muddy footprint after another, as the hoof prints between became more spaced out, more erratic. Johanna's voice dipped gravely low. "... gets any worse."
  3. "You plan to keep up in snowshoes?" he asked incredulously, with a dramatic reel while he sat atop his horse. He would have rubbed the bridge of his nose if he could, and his patience wore thinner by the moment, as he heaved out a perturbed sigh, steaming in a cloud before the already-frosty metal of his helm. "I don't know why I let Ada talk me into these things..." he grumbled quietly, though it wouldn't have been the first time his sibling had put him in a precarious situation. Luckily, she'd had a bit more leeway on this particular excursion, given that they weren't in Nvengaria-- and with less people intimately familiar with his house. Digging his thighs into the saddle, he sidled his horse sideways to step up to a tall hay bale, where some additional garments were piled. With a confident lean, his hand steadily on the horn, he made a sweep of his arm to gather them up, a scarf and hood. He fastened the hood by one shoulder at a time, tucking the ends of the thick pelt into the belts of his breastplate, to hold them securely, and wrapped the scarf loosely in a few turns around his neck. Reaching for his shoulder, he pulled at the laces fastening his ornamental pauldron to his jerkin, until it was loose enough to simply tug the thing free. With a lofty toss, he abandoned it in the pile of pelts. For all his blustering, the Red King certainly had one point right-- the more armor he had, the slower he would be. And there was one part of his armor that would make the job much more difficult. Plying his hands to his neck, he unfastened the buckle that kept it tight, and like cleaving the skin from an onion, it was a gradual process, until the whole thing came free at once. A braid of ginger-red hair toppled out, a pale face freckled with the streaked burns of the weather, harsh from within the helm, and two green eyes with light lashes nearly the same hue as the fiery hair. He was a she. "I'm not calling you that," she answered with a mild glower cast down at him, her lips tugging into a thin line-- her eyes, almost thinner. She was less than amused, feeling as if he were back to playing games with her; if he was serious, she could only chalk it up to hubris. The Knight burdened him with her admonishing gaze for only another moment, before she set to task of running the laces from her pauldron through the slats of her helm, and secured it to her waist next to a scabbard holding a silver broadsword. When she was done, she projected an impatient sigh at him. "Johanna," she introduced herself again, that stern, gruff tone still ringing heavy in her voice, devoid of any femininity from practice and progressive habit, "Call me Johanna. I'll have no more made-up monikers from you." She pulled the scarf tight around her with a tug of the loose ends, so that it pressed to her mouth and nose, shielding her from the cold as well as obscuring the bottom half of her face. With a rough hand, she gathered the bulk of the hood and threw it over her head, letting the thing lay in a heap over her crown. From a far-enough glance, it would hardly show more than her helm, though she could see plenty more. She would need to, to find the Moray's missing horse. With an inward kick of her heels and a click of her teeth, she spurred her horse gently forward, and made for the door. "You'd best keep up. And I don't want to hear any whinging about frostbite." She swayed back and forth gently as she rode with the Clydesdale's lumbering steps, through the doors of the stable and out into the depth of the snow, which could've run halfway up her calf. It was falling softly outside, and with the sun overhead, it reflected back brightly in their eyes. With the flurry steadily coming down, it was almost hard to make out the horse, it's rider, and the snow-strider as they hit the tree line, delving between the firs. Johanna was observant, keeping her eyes peeled with a repetitive scan, the wide pelt hood not remaining still for more than a few moments, before wandering the other way. The trees were spaced out well, not too dense, and all of the roots had been covered by the snowfall of the morning, pristine save for the footprints of the occasional squirrel that had not yet holed itself away for the sudden winter. Her Clydesdale had lifted its great legs high, but shoved through the snow disruptively nonetheless, leaving a definitive track behind her. Her charge's tracks were less disruptive, but no less apparent, from the frames of his wooden snowshoes. He kept pace well enough, and Johanna stifled a frustrated scowl, half of her wishing she'd had the exclusive rights to an 'I told you so'. In any case, his participation was beneficial to her, and she wasn't going to spoil it. "We last saw its tracks partway down the river, maybe a few malms from here," she explained, with a casual point in the direction of the river, seen not too far off from their position by the deep dip in the land, the dark blue waters still rushing for its current and depth that refused to freeze over, "Ada's horse lost footing in the grove along the banks; that's when it spooked and we had to turn back. I'd told her not to go so close to the edge, for things that grow there... though she's always had a mind to think she knows better than everyone." She pulled the scarf tighter around her neck, bracing against the cold that came in with the slight wind. Even her horse gave a shiver and an adjusting snort; Johanna bobbed as she sat atop it, reaching up to lift the branches of a fir tree out of her way so she wouldn't run into them, at her imposing height. "I doubt Lady Moray's horse would've crossed the river, even if it was chased that way. The water's too deep, and it'd be smart enough to know it would drown if it tried." She stared at him sternly from the corner of her eye, distracted for a few moments from her survey to watch his progress through the snow. He'd made it look relatively easy, despite having to pick up his feet so, but he hadn't seemed the least bit affected by the wind. "Do you practice the blood magicks, like the mages in Umbra?" Johanna asked, a bit haphazardly, a rare curiosity that she'd seen to voice. She knew little and less about magic, for it was not nearly as present in Nvengaria, though the whole island she hailed from was infallibly behind the times. She hardly knew of any others, much less seen or heard of someone like his ilk before.
  4. Narcissa

    [Veelos] As the Crow Flies

    As they ventured further into the marketplace of Veelos, the weather became much fairer, due to the shade of thin fabrics stretched across loosely from one rooftop to another. They pillowed like clouds in their myriad of colors, most so thin that the sun still shone through them, but was filtered through the opaque crosshatch of threads that provided shade and cool enough to bear the market. It was thin enough for rain to pass through, or maybe even thick enough for a vampyre to make a quick tour, if it ever saw either. For now, it was enough to spare them the beating sun off their backs. It added an artistic flair befitting the craftsmen and vendors of Veelos... and covered the decaying bricks of devastation that had yet to be repaired, the people trying to resume life as normal with little interruption. The bazaar was teeming with people, a mid-morning bustle that had gathered many, from the niche restaurateurs that haggled over fresh-caught fish, children trading coins for brightly-colored sweets and amusing toys, housewives handling bolts of ornate fabric, platters, or dried handfuls of food that slipped from their fingers, even the token noble who eyed jewelry with an appraiser's eye. Rou traveled through the market at a slow pace, for the way that she intricately examined items with her hands, every so often with a glance back over her shoulder to assure that she hadn't lost sight of Zenahriel-- though he was quite impossible to miss, standing nearly a head over even the tallest citizens of Veelos as they took care to walk around him, sticking out like a sore thumb. Often, color was the focal point when spilled in a canvas of black, but with all the roaring, busy colors of the marketplace, the High Lord stood out, with his dusky black hair and wings that shone with a raven blue sheen, noire fabric hanging loosely off his pale skin with intricate embroidery. “Do you see anything you like, milady?” "Food," Rou replied, almost instantly, making a beeline for a cart that turned skewers of food over an open flame, hunks of brown, sizzling meat and bright fruit and vegetables. They seared with an intoxicating aroma of spices, as the An'She inhaled indulgently, before rustling a few coins from a leather purse and depositing them in the cartkeeper's hands. "If I have to eat another thing that's been salt-brined in my life, it'll be too soon," she complained, repeating the mantra that had gone unheard by no one among Fowler's crew on the journey to the island. Orisia hadn't been terribly far, though the weathered Captain's particular choice of cook was a practical sort, who even for the short sail from the mainland had packed for non-spoiling, long-withstanding meals. Rou was lucky that Fowler had seen fit to bring an extra bounty of Silphweed, an herbal cure for seasickness, or else Rou would've spent the voyage bent over the side of the deck. With one in each hand, Rou toted them over with a sauntering sway of her hips, offering one in an outstretched hand to Zenahriel. She'd hardly waited for him to take it before digging in herself, mildly pointed canines ripping at the first hunk of meat, with little thought to propriety. She was an animal, and she needed to eat; all else seemed secondary. It was spiced well, in a way she hadn't tasted before, with a lingering sweet and spicy tang of an island fruit, cubed and skewered beneath, along with a juicy slice of an Orisian pepper below. Humming with satisfaction, Rou returned to her perusal of the market. Interest captivated by a weaver's stall, Rou licked her fingers to clean them before running her hand down the intricate work of a rug, stretched to display its design. It displayed a map of the island, as she fingered the rough textile, colors expertly laid into place and piled on top of one another. The water that compiled the vast canvas of the ocean had a metallic jade thread run throughout, and Rou fingered it admiringly, narrowing the cast of her eyes with an impressed smile. "To tell you the truth, I didn't want to like this place," she confessed softly, as she kept her eyes on the design, thumbing it fondly, "For what little I've known of the Queen, I might've been overzealous to think that this island would be as drab as I find her." She was quiet, a rare stroke of caution not often displayed in Rou, who often said what she was thinking without any care for whom was to hear it and be offended. The An'She appeared to be taking her job seriously-- though treated her true feelings with as much respect as she could muster. She straightened her back as she rose to her full height, away from her careful consideration of the crafted carpet, and cast a broad look at the market. "This place... lives. It thrives, despite all that's befallen it," Rou mused, as her fingers placed themselves gingerly over the spot marked for Veelos, and threaded the path into the forest, which lied not a few malms from where they stood, "One would hardly know, at first glance, that such horrors have yet to be forgotten." A few children passed between them, casually bumping Rou by the hip-- though she simply swayed, without complaint. She looked after them, perhaps a bit more pensively, watching them run of into the throngs of the crowd, their squeals of amusement heard long after they were no longer seen. "They've never seen tragedy. I find myself... envious of such innocence." Her gaze turned downward, and her brow pinched into a bitter scowl, "I've done everything to try to make the Carmine Dominion love me, as they do her." Rou appeared deeply troubled, though beyond that, angry. The cast in her golden irises was dark, enflamed, burning with a seething fury that had yet to die, though it smoldered insidiously. With a deep sigh, she ventured a look upward at her companion, resolved, stern. She looked oddly authoritative, a seriousness that befit the ruler Zenahriel had always thought she could be. "I've made a terrible mess of things, and I don't want to be the person that shows these children, this island, what calamity looks like. I don't want to curse Orisia with the same fate that I made to befell Patia," she said, her voice rumbling wistfully, with the tempered patience rarely seen upon the impetuous, thorny flower of a woman. "I hope that you'll trust in me, my friend-- for what is to come, and then on."
  5. Narcissa

    General chat thread

    Friend is sending me a hand-me-down tablet because she got a new one for Christmas. Gonna draw so many lewds of Val characters.
  6. Ser Dormaeus visibly bristled in his seat, proverbial feathers ruffled by his outspokenly pompous attitude, though he presumed that was much to the man's prediction. Even without a face to find a devious grin (though in his mind he imagined his opposition more weasel than man, for sake of hyperbole), he sat astride with overwhelming attributes-- confidence pushed to arrogance, a sharp wit so determined to be champion of the conversation that it made him acerbic and biting. His green eyes narrowed in the shade of his helm, finding much akin in him to the many knights Ser Dormaeus had unhorsed in the tilts. However, a contest of arms with the red-dressed man would win him no honor, and he required another able-bodied rider, besides. "And neither I of you," he answered, bitterly, "There's only one in the Carmine Dominion who dresses quite like that... and I don't take you for the Emperor's buxom-bodied favorite." He paused, more often silent at the tilts and used to dealing his repartee with a lance, the caustic tongue of insults almost foreign to him, but the foreigner had rubbed him significantly the wrong way. He was too far into it to change now, and only hoped that Ada's instincts wouldn't make for more trouble than it was worth. "MY God will protect me from the cold..." Noise clamored en suite, the palpable swiveling from several heads in the room, and the Blue Knight broke his gaze on the man to venture a look back. The stares ranged from curiosity to glaring daggers, scowls aplenty across the breadth of the room. It was clear that the demographic here were of the faithful, disturbed that he had spoken too loudly. Those who spoke out against the religion spoke against the crown, and those who spoke against the crown never fared well-- thus the nonbelievers were silently tolerant, and kept their heads. "Ngh--" Ser Dormaeus grunted uncomfortably, as fingers pried into the slats of his helm to reclaim his attention, wrenching it back with a clink of metal. He didn't care for the eyes he was being given, from the red irises glaring at him between the cutouts of the mask, or those gathering less-than-favorably at his back. If he spoke with any more brazen candor, they might well be gutted before they even left. Not one to be manhandled, the Blue Knight pushed the back of his wrist firmly against the foreigner's fingers, securing the other against the top of his helm, to keep it secured to his head. He stood, a heavy palm placed upon the table, growing to his full height and inclining slightly over the outspoken one. "Ada will be fine; she can take care of herself," he said, without even venturing a look her way. From the opposite table, the sister of House Dormaeus looked up curiously at the mention of her name, before swallowing down a mouthful of stew... her throat shifted, with a rather apparent notch. With the extra attention paid her, she scrunched her tiny, curved nose, before paying the foreigner an earnest wink and a tilted smile. "Meet me outside, in the stable. Make it quick," the Blue Knight commanded with authority, gruff and stern, before his heavy-footed stride carried him to the door. It was pried open with some difficulty, and the sun from the outdoors harshly blinded the room, a stark contrast from the relatively dim light of the fires. The cold crept in quickly, with a rush of the wind, batting at the flames that crackled in the hearths, before closing behind the knight and returning them all to the darkness, the frost a memory that would not soon fade. ------------ Outside, the stables were a meager patchwork of wood beams and hatched roof, but the dirt was dry and hay bales lined the walls, staving off the cold. The stalls were nearly full, matching the occupancy within The Singing Boar, most happily grazing and the beasts seemed nearly unaware to the growing feet of snow outside, silently grazing at food without more than the token nasal snort or whip of a tail. Ser Dormaeus was the only man among them, adjusting a thick, quilted blanket on the back of a gargantuan brown Clydesdale. Placing it to satisfaction, he bent down, and hoisted a great leather saddle with his legs, reaching high to throw it onto the horse with a weighty thump. It jingled with metal, as he methodically adjusted the saddle belts, reigns, putting all into proper order as the foreigner came to join him. "There's pelts for you, spare gloves. Wrap the hare skins around your feet if you haven't boots," the Blue Knight instructed sternly, pointing to a heap of affects laying in the straw next to Ada's horse, another Clydesdale in a raven-black, with a white-dipped snout and calves. "I trust you know how to saddle your own horse?" he asked, a slight tire in his breath from the moment's exertion as he tugged his saddle forward into better position, securing the clasp by the stomach. It was clear, even without a second comment, that the Blue Knight would not be doing it for him; anyone that would be able to ride in the snow had to know how to manage their own steed. He busied himself with his own tasks, nary venturing a look at his mercenary accomplice, and secured his wineskin into his jerkin by his stomach, stifling the warmth inside. But Ser Dormaeus paused a moment as he reached the end of his preparing tasks, and ran a hand calmly across a thick, chestnut-haired flank. "You don't appear the type to appreciate or accept advice, but I would watch what you say around the Carmine, if I were you..." the Blue Knight cautioned softly, avoiding gaze as he continued to busy himself with his horse. "Speak too loudly against their god, and you'll find there'll be few and fewer places willing to open their doors to you to wait out the storm when we return. The Councilwoman, included." He cleared his throat, giving his Clydesdale a confident pat, evident that he hadn't sought to berate the outsider, nor scold him too haughtily about his candor. The Blue Knight shared with foreigner in that he did not worship the same deity as the Carmine, but knew better than to rile up the locals with such a taboo subject. Lifting a knee, Ser Dormaeus fit a foot through the hook of the stirrup, and with a hop, lifted himself up by the horn and swung his leg over the back, and placed himself down on the saddle, testing out the ride. It didn't give, to his satisfaction, and he gathered the reigns in his gloved hands. "You didn't dress for the weather; if you'd had friends in the Arcane East, they likely would've tipped you off to the Magestorms," he said, stalling atop his horse with an occasional bump as his steed prepared to set out with an idling step. The Blue Knight held tightly onto the reigns, patiently waiting, and while eager to set out, he hadn't hurried the man. "Have you a name? If you're not like to share, I'm sure I can find one fitting your pleasant demeanor."
  7. Ser Dormaeus was hardly amused by his ambiguous tone, a lilt that sounded coy and teasing-- like a cat that had prominently sat in front of the mouse's hidey hole, insidiously smiling with that cheshire grin, knowing that it would eventually have to come back to its home. Even beneath his obscuring helm, it was almost apparent that the Blue Knight was scowling, just as obviously as the red-dressed ruffian grinned beneath his. Masks did little to hide the true nature of a man. With little desire for games, and time of the essence, honesty was the avenue of choice. "The Blue Knight," he introduced himself sternly, with a double-rap of his gloved knuckles against his breastplate fitted over his furs, "of House Dormaeus of Nvengaria." It was well-worn, moreso than his shiny jousting armor, which was well-buffed even around the fixing of dents caused by the lances that only grazed it. The jerkin was bulky, if not barely ill-fitting because of its thickness, but the steel laid over his chest was opaque, a practical metal that had lost nearly all of its luster, and was hardly ornamented, without even an engraving to speak of. His pauldron, sitting on his left shoulder with the proud horse of his house beaten with great detail into the metal, almost looked as if it had come from a completely different set of armor. With a nudge of his head, he motioned more politely to Ada, who shed out of her coat next to the fire before diving into the bowl of stew Rosseau had brought her. "And that woman is my sister, Ada of House Dormaeus," he said, his tone a bit biting, as if scolding him for his earlier lack of respect, "We were following the edge of the river when the storm hit; her horse threw her, and she can't ride with her injury." He pivoted back to the foreign man across from him, the sleet dripping off of his metal bracers, puddling onto the mahogany wood table. He disregarded confession in response to the man's teasing antics, but they nonetheless were keen to his purpose. "The horse is a prized stallion that belongs to Lady Moray, who is a guest of the Councilwoman Thaladred. My house bred and gave her this steed--" he explained, and wormed his hand into the brief space between his clothes and armor, high on his chest, and pulled out a creased letter, "--and she wrote to me that he had broken loose from the caravan upon arrival of her visit to Umbra." The letter had been folded many times, and kept close, evident by the marbled hue of the paper that had been wet and dried from snow, the ink running but still barely legible. The wax seal of the Moray's house still stuck resiliently, but was cracked in so many places that it was difficult to make out their sigil. He folded the letter carefully, then squirreled it away into the fabric once more, pocketing the correspondence for safekeeping. "The Lady Moray is a guest of your Councilwoman Thaladred, during her excursions here from Nvengaria. Magestorms have been rife all over the Arcane East, and now in the thick of winter, this place is likely to be snowed in for the next fortnight." From within his helm, the green irises shifted down, then back up, considering him with some scrutiny. "If you've no gear for the weather, you'll borrow some of ours; take Ada's horse. If we track down the lady's missing charge, I'll take you to the Councilwoman's estate, myself. Surely, a grateful Lady would be able to ask favor of her host, for such a deed." Sitting back in his chair, he folded his arms over his bulky chest, and clicked his tongue to the roof of his mouth. "Otherwise, you'll be waiting here long after the snows melt for audience with the council-- the Carmine are nothing if not devout, and you don't look much like a priest. You'll be waiting as long as the commons, who will no doubt have a long line of issues to be seen by Umbra's treasurer, Thaladred." For the Blue Knight, it was the best he could do on short notice, but it was not without merit: they would both get what they wanted, and the sooner either of them did, the better. "Does this suit your..." he paused, with a silent click of his tongue against the roof of his mouth, "... interests?"
  8. The door to The Singing Boar burst open with a flush of cold, blindingly white behind the knight who carried his sister, her arm slung over his neck. Steam seeped through the slats in his helm when he exhaled, tired as he hitched her into a better position to carry her the finishing stretch across the tavern's wooden floor, tracking in droppings of ice and mud from his boots across the floor, heavily clinking with the sound of metal. He shivered, nearly frozen, despite the furs that peeked out between the plate sewn to a padded jerkin, nearly shocked from the comparative sauna caused by the Boar's great hearth. Some of the patrons, scattered about at round mahogany tables, looked up from their ales and hunks of bread and meat, but said little before returning to their meals, little to complain about as the cold left as quickly as it came with the closing of the door. Ser Dormaeus beached his sister Ada at a table close to the fire, a crude wooden chair in front of a table that didn't sit evenly on all four legs, tilting haphazardly as the girl leaned on it with an elbow. Ada had looked like a pile of furs, herself, from the warm ermine hat and thick pelt laid over her riding jacket, embroidered with tiny black horses along the breast seams, and layered wool skirts dyed in the deep Dormaeus blue. She was cringing painfully, hissing through her teeth, squeezing at her thigh. "Rosseau," the knight said, wiping the sleet off of his pauldron with the corner of his hand, making out an embossed horse, wild, rearing, and standing on its rear legs, before he dug some rather uncomfortable bits of snow lodged into the collar of his jerkin, the fur damp around his neck and shoulders, "Get Ada something to eat, and help her up to her room, would you?" He appeared hurried, his breathing labored as he was finally able to catch his breath, as he fished a coin purse from his belt with his bulky gloves. He shook it, dropping a few coins on the bar, and slid them to the inkeep. Rosseau, a well-built mountain man with a graying streak in his hair and a roman bridge to his nose that played host to a scraggled scar, scooped up the gold coins graciously, and gave a nod in return, before setting to task of food and drink. "Anythin' for you?" "Mead," he answered simply, meticulously unwrapping the wineskin from his belt, and handed it over, "Warmed; it'll stave off some of the cold, come nightfall. I've got to get back out there-- the beast's bound to freeze, the more time passes." His voice was almost tinny, slightly echoing inside the metal helm that was sure to be freezing, for the dreadful weather outside. "Did Lady Moray come to post a bill for the fetch of her horse, yet?" he asked, curiously, but Ser Dormaeus already knew the answer. The Magestorms had rolled in overnight, and with them a dreadful winter, the sky outside white, bleak, and harsh. Nobody was leaving their houses, not even the nobles, for the way the storm howled and sleet chilled straight to the bone. Even the mercenaries, littering the bottom floor of The Singing Boar, were prepared to wait out the storm in the comforts of the tavern's rooms above, near the warm kindling and smell of pine, with food to fill their bellies, and a few ample-chested tavern wenches to stave off the boredom. Ada looked up from the table, worried. "You can't go out there again," she warned, her expression imploring him to caution. She worried for her sibling, and her breath hitched as she reached a sore spot on her thigh, giving it another soothing rub. "It's already been two days; if there's any food to be found, the snow from the Magestorm is going to cover it up before too long. It'll freeze, the higher the snow gets-- you can't comb the forest by yourself." Her lip pursed, an unfamiliar hesitation in the regularly brazen member of House Dormaeus, feeling guilty that her horse had thrown her and causing them to pause the search on her account. However, if her brother fell alone, there wouldn't be anyone to fetch him out in the wilderness. They were in unfamiliar territory, scoping the strange Umbral Valley countryside; the horse had come north with a party from the islands of Nvengaria, and if lost, would be even more unlikely to find his way back. Ada already knew her brother would disagree, loyal to this particular lady's cause in hope for favor of the sweet Lady Moray, but she had to try. Before Ser Dormaeus could object, Rosseau interrupted. "There's a gent come in 'ere today, for Councilwoman Thaladred-- yer Lady Moray's stayin' with 'er, no?" the tavern-keeper said in his thick accent, with a nudge of his head to the opposite corner, "Got turned away at th' gate. Not fond o' being told to wait out the storm like erryone else, I wager." As he spoke, he chopped at a few vegetables, huge hunks of carrot, potato, and leek, before dropping them into a broth on the big fire behind him, and he gave a turn to a large suckling pig on a spit, apple nestled firmly in the mouth and skin glazed a caramel brown, effort of a few hours' roasting-- it certainly wasn't singing, any more. "No house'll let in a foreigner during this storm; probably think they're some sort o' beggar. Gave good coin, though. Looks like a mercenary looking to employ to the richest house, most like." Both the Dormaeus' heads turned, finding a man sitting alone and divested of his many layers on the other side of The Singing Boar, poking idly at the slop that passed for stew, but declining to eat it for the mask that covered his face. Still, he'd gathered the attention of the young, spindly serving girl, who leaned over his table to pour more into his overly full bowl. She seemed a bit enchanted by his mystery, adolescent naivety and cliche made for an almost one-sided interest, but the "eyes" of his mask yet found the subtle direction of the lace of her corset. The knight was quick to dismiss the sight, with a shake of his head, but it gave Ada pause, her face lit up brilliantly by an idea. "Take him with you," she ventured to suggest, "Their councilwoman might turn away an outsider, but they won't turn away House Dormaeus at the gate, visiting Moray. You get the horse, he gets to see the Councilwoman-- everybody's happy." Ada beamed expectantly, with a slight cringe, hoping that her olive branch would take root and be accepted. Even from within the shiny silver helm, Ada could tell her brother was scowling. "You trust too easily," he hissed quietly, but drew in a heavy sigh. It would be impossible to make his way through the forest alone, and he'd need help corralling the horse to return it safely to it's owner. Begrudgingly, he clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and turned on heel to cross the planked mahogany floor. Drawing out the opposite chair away from his table with a loud squeak, Ser Dormaeus plopped himself heavily into it, and leaned on the table with his forearms. The serving girl jumped from the noise, sloshing the big pot of stew held at her hip, but nearly squealed for the sudden arrival of the Blue Knight. His crest was famous to a few in these parts, having been guest of a joust not too long ago, before the cold set in. She was stunned a moment, beaming, before the knight waved her off with a flick of his hand; she hadn't wanted to leave, but was speechless enough to nod, before going on her way back to the kitchens-- but remained peering through the door, starstruck. Ser Dormaeus watched her only a moment, but then turned back to his current charge. "They say you need to be expedited to see one of the councilwomen of Umbra-- Thaladred," he said, almost grumbling from behind the slats of his helm. Vaguely, but heavily shadowed, were two green eyes piercing through his visor. He eyed the man's greasy black hair with a scowl, and the irises shifted, considering his unseasonable choice of apparel odd for winter in the Arcane East, particularly rife with Magestorms that threw the weather so askew. An outsider, who didn't know the weather-- that proved at least fruitful for the Blue Knight, as he likely hadn't had much acquaintance to warn him, otherwise. The clothes were finer than mercenary, though, which gave him pause to consider. "House Dormaeus could speed that process along... if you're willing to work." @Tiem
  9. [Marking for Removal; moved to Umbra.] The door to the Singing Boar burst open with a flush of cold, blindingly white behind the knight who carried his sister, her arm slung over his neck. Steam seeped through the slats in his helm when he exhaled, tired as he hitched her into a better position to carry her the finishing stretch across the tavern's wooden floor, tracking in droppings of ice and mud from his boots across the floor, heavily clinking with the sound of metal. He shivered, nearly frozen, despite the furs that peeked out between the plate sewn to a padded jerkin, nearly shocked from the comparative sauna caused by the Boar's great hearth. Some of the patrons, scattered about at round mahogany tables, looked up from their ales and hunks of bread and meat, but said little before returning to their meals, little to complain about as the cold left as quickly as it came with the closing of the door. Ser Dormaeus beached his sister Ada at a table close to the fire, a crude wooden chair in front of a table that didn't sit evenly on all four legs, tilting haphazardly as the girl leaned on it with an elbow. Ada had looked like a pile of furs, herself, from the warm ermine hat and thick pelt laid over her riding jacket, embroidered with tiny black horses along the breast seams, and layered wool skirts dyed in the deep Dormaeus blue. She was cringing painfully, hissing through her teeth, squeezing at her thigh. "Rosseau," the knight said, wiping the sleet off of his pauldron with the corner of his hand, making out an embossed horse, wild, rearing, and standing on its rear legs, before he dug some rather uncomfortable bits of snow lodged into the collar of his jerkin, the fur damp around his neck and shoulders, "Get Ada something to eat, and help her up to her room, would you?" He appeared hurried, his breathing labored as he was finally able to catch his breath, as he fished a coin purse from his belt with his bulky gloves. He shook it, dropping a few coins on the bar, and slid them to the inkeep. Rosseau, a well-built mountain man with a graying streak in his hair and a roman bridge to his nose that played host to a scraggled scar, scooped up the gold coins graciously, and gave a nod in return, before setting to task of food and drink. "Anythin' for you?" "Mead," he answered simply, meticulously unwrapping the wineskin from his belt, and handed it over, "Warmed; it'll stave off some of the cold, come nightfall. I've got to get back out there-- the beast's bound to freeze, the more time passes." His voice was almost tinny, slightly echoing inside the metal helm that was sure to be freezing, for the dreadful weather outside. "Did Lady Moray come to post a bill for the fetch of her horse, yet?" he asked, curiously, but Ser Dormaeus already knew the answer. Nobody was leaving their houses, not even the nobles, for the way the storm howled and sleet chilled straight to the bone. Even the mercenaries, littering the bottom floor of the Singing Boar, were prepared to wait out the storm in the comforts of the tavern's rooms above, near the warm kindling and smell of pine, with food to fill their bellies, and a few ample-chested tavern wenches to stave off the boredom. Ada looked up from the table, worried. "You can't go out there again," she warned, her expression imploring him to caution. She worried for her sibling, and her breath hitched as she reached a sore spot on her thigh, giving it another soothing rub. "It's already been two days; it hasn't had any food, and you can't comb the forest by yourself-- especially not in the snow." Her lip pursed, an unfamiliar hesitation in the regularly brazen member of House Dormaeus, feeling guilty that her horse had thrown her and causing them to pause the search on her account. However, if her brother fell alone, there wouldn't be anyone to fetch him out in the wilderness. Nvengaria was a diverse island of much beauty, along it's mountains, forests, ravines, and lakes, but it was still subject to the weather that swept all of the Cold South, and made for a brutal winter. Ada already knew her brother would disagree, loyal to this particular lady's cause in hope for favor of the sweet Lady Moray, but she had to try. Before Ser Dormaeus could object, Rosseau interrupted. "There's a gent come in 'ere today, for the Morays," the tavern-keeper said in his thick accent, with a nudge of his head to the opposite corner, "Got turned away at th' gate. Not fond o' being told to wait out the storm like erryone else, I wager." As he spoke, he chopped at a few vegetables, huge hunks of carrot, potato, and leek, before dropping them into a broth on the big fire behind him, and he gave a turn to a large suckling pig on a spit, apple nestled firmly in the mouth and skin glazed a caramel brown, effort of a few hours' roasting-- it certainly wasn't singing, any more. "No house'll let in a foreigner during this storm; probably think they're some sort o' beggar. Gave good coin, though. Looks like a mercenary looking to employ to the richest house, most like." Both the Dormaeus' heads turned, finding a man sitting alone and divested of his many layers on the other side of the Singing Boar, poking idly at the slop that passed for stew, but declining to eat it for the mask that covered his face. Still, he'd gathered the attention of the young, spindly serving girl, who leaned over his table to pour more into his overly full bowl. She seemed a bit enchanted by his mystery, adolescent naivety and cliche made for an almost one-sided interest, but the "eyes" of his mask yet found the subtle direction of the lace of her corset. The knight was quick to dismiss the sight, with a shake of his head, but it gave Ada pause, her face lit up brilliantly by an idea. "Take him with you," she ventured to suggest, "House Moray might turn away an outsider, but they won't turn away House Dormaeus at the gate. You get the horse, he gets to see the Moray's-- everybody's happy." Ada beamed expectantly, with a slight cringe, hoping that her olive branch would take root and be accepted. Even from within the shiny silver helm, Ada could tell her brother was scowling. "You trust too easily," he hissed quietly, but drew in a heavy sigh. It would be impossible to make his way through the forest alone, and he'd need help corralling the horse to return it safely to it's owner. Begrudgingly, he clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, and turned on heel to cross the planked mahogany floor. Drawing out the opposite chair away from his table with a loud squeak, Ser Dormaeus plopped himself heavily into it, and leaned on the table with his forearms. The serving girl jumped from the noise, sloshing the big pot of stew held at her hip, but nearly squealed for the sudden arrival of the Blue Knight. His crest was famous to all in these parts, having witnessed him in the jousts that passed nary a fortnight ago, before the cold set in. She was stunned a moment, beaming, before the knight waved her off with a flick of his hand; she hadn't wanted to leave, but was speechless enough to nod, before going on her way back to the kitchens-- but remained peering through the door, starstruck. Ser Dormaeus watched her only a moment, but then turned back to his current charge. "They say you need to be expedited into House Moray," he said, almost grumbling from behind the slats of his helm. Vaguely, but heavily shadowed, were two green eyes piercing through his visor. He eyed the man's greasy black hair with a scowl, and the irises shifted, considering his unseasonable choice of apparel odd for Nvengarian winter. An outsider, who didn't know the weather-- that proved at least fruitful for the Blue Knight, as he likely hadn't had much acquaintance to warn him, otherwise. The clothes were finer than mercenary, though, which gave him pause to consider. "House Dormaeus could speed that process along... if you're willing to work." @Tiem
  10. Narcissa

    General chat thread

    My Christmas presents for @King came! What do you lovely people think about OUR lovely people?
  11. Narcissa

    Taen and Ursa Madeum AMA

    VIVIENNE UL'VANDIIR, WARD OF HOUSE KHOLIN, WOULD LIKE TO MAKE A TRADE PACT WITH HOUSE DALI. My mad scientist needs her coffee.
  12. Narcissa

    Taen and Ursa Madeum AMA

    @Ataraxy @Csl @danzilla3 Do Taen or UM have a bestiary or list of natural resources yet?
  13. Narcissa

    [Veelos] As the Crow Flies

    "The water's too rough t'moor off the coast of Platiado; there's a cool gale rolling west, 's made the sea choppy. The inlet's bound t' be flooded, too, we risk bein' beached too far out, 'n you'll spend twice as much time coverin' the plains. We'll 'ave to dock in Veelos, due north." Captain Fowler spoke with a thick, garbled accent, as gravelly as the deep indented scars worn into his face, only briefly seen beneath the scraggly white whispers of his beard. He was as salty as the waves beneath that carried them, but with eyes just as brightly blue, and a permanent pinch in his brow among too many wrinkles short of an iron. His well-weathered naval coat was almost bare, save for a few efficient buttons, nowhere near as decorated as a captain of his stature should've been-- he claimed his many scars were medals enough, and told a better testament to his trials, and weren't given as much as they were earned. Rou considered the map in front of them both within the Captain's stateroom, peering over it with a sour rumple in her expression that rivaled Fowler's, her weight so heavy on her palm it nearly smeared the graphed ink on the brown parchment. "We'll have to pass through Ellwood, then?" she asked tersely, combing a frustrated hand through her bangs, slightly frizzy from the salt and humidity. Fowler hesitated before answering. "Aye, milady." Umbra's fair lady An'She sighed with a melodramatic deflation of her chest, and shifted her weight from one foot to the other, the swing of her ponytail following suit. She tapped the map with a finger, rolling her lips as she considered it with a bit more patience than she was known for. "There's no way about it, then," she finally agreed, the slant of her eyes thin as she chose only to burden them on the parchment, sparing Fowler of the distaste she knew he hadn't earned. He knew she hadn't wanted to return there-- too many ghosts of the past, too many invisible wounds that would never heal. Nearly five years had passed (if she'd counted right) but the horrors seen within the Battle of Ellwood wouldn't be something simply forgotten. Someday, she hoped. "Set course for Veelos," she said, sliding a small wooden ship across the surface of the map, touching it to the alcove on the southern shore of Orisia. Someday. "We should be there about midday. Once we get in'ta the city, 'll have one o' the boys round up a few of the warding scarves to protect yerselves from the pollen in the Forest," Fowler nodded, and rounded the table with a slight limp, making his way to open the door to the stateroom ahead of Rou to allow her to pass through first. "You're handlin' the sea much better than the last time," he said, slightly congratulatory, the other half-- almost proud. "The silphweed workin' for ye?" Rou couldn't help a private laugh, an indulgence that was perhaps a bit poor in taste. "It certainly helps that this ship isn't sinking," the An'She thought to herself, before gracing Fowler with her more traditional, tilted smirk. "Well enough, Captain; takes me more time to earn my sea legs than you," she hadn't thanked him, but with the smile he returned, he knew she was grateful, "But if there's any cure for the terrible aftertaste, I'm all ears. Makes my food taste bitter for a week." Stepping out ahead of him, Rou shielded her eyes from the bright sun, squinting as she made out the coast not far off the horizon. "Have you seen the An'She? Zenahriel?" she asked, curiously, as if she could be asking about anyone else. "Still in the crow's nest, I think, milady. Crew says he was up there all night; didn't even return to his stateroom." Rou angled her hand against her forehead as her gaze drifted up, and he'd told it true, though all she could see were the large black wings, too large to fit in the meager space. "Thank you, Captain," she finished curtly, though she hadn't bothered paying him another glance, "As you were." Captain Fowler left to his post with little more than a nod, as Rou considered the stillness of the great feathered appendages sticking out of the crow's nest, but was slightly more relieved at the sight of subtle movement. She couldn't blame the crew for being wary-- Zenahriel's constant eye and silence was perhaps less a child watching the ants construct their hill, and perhaps more the vulture scanning for the first unlucky soul to perish. With Rou on board, given her track record, they weren't instilled with much faith. Her gaze fled downward, only to consider the heart-shaped scar that marred her left breast, rubbing her hand thoughtfully across her collar. She cleaved her tension with another great sigh, then pivoted on heel to return to her stateroom, to change and gather her things before the ship made port. ----------------------------- The sun was straight overhead when they'd docked in the marina of Veelos, a wind sweeping through that was humid and sticky, the tropical heat unfaltering in the midday. Rou wiped her sweat-beaded brow with the back of her forearm as she disembarked down the long plank bridge off the brigantine, uncommon for her to have paid such little mind to the quick-drying stain on her purple sleeve. She'd started in her burgundy Umbral sorceress' coat, but had no sooner shed it, now carried like a damsel in the arms of a burdened shiphand. Rou fanned herself with a hand as she stepped out of the way of other crewmen, who were coaxing horses off the deck with a good deal of difficulty. They'd spend the majority of the remaining daylight assembling the procession, having to navigate the carriages and horses across the archipelago of docks tethered together by floating plank bridges, until ready to depart for the capital city of Versilla. Rou would have preferred simply to come alone, just her and Zenahriel, but much to her chagrin, she was advised that propriety had to be observed. In a rare display of patience, Rou had listened, relying on the expertise she'd consulted Zenahriel for. He'd preferred to fly them there, of course, though that was met with vehement rejection-- she hadn't appreciated the joke, either. The appearance of the Umbral flag had not gone without notice in the harbor, gathering more than a few curious looks at the brigantine that came bearing allies from its southern neighbor in the Arcane East of Genesaris. They were familiar with the crest of the great empire of Rafael Bartolome, for the closeness in teased alliance and relation with their sovereign Queen, but these were not the nobles of High Court that might've been favored with a brief glance at the oft reclusive Emperor Sauriel, and they would remain not so blessed. While it was evident that the twilight-favored Emperor was not aboard, despite the fact that they knew him only by description and reputation, they knew just as little of Rou to identify her on the dock. The people of Veelos came in a great many shades, tones of skin that deepened with the sun of their fair island, dark and freckled. Even so, Rou Ji's skin tone was of a unique shade, a caramel tone that lingered somewhere between golden and olive, further foreign by the subtle slant of her eyes, which were elongated by the masterful sweeps of eyeliner that deepened their shade and cast. In the fair-skinned population of Umbra, Rou was a desert rose, exotic even at first glance; Veelos acknowledged her the same... but with far less spite for her reputation. The hushed curses of Concubine Queen were nearly silenced among the substantial crowd. More impressive still was Zenahriel, with his great wings and almost ethereal presence, who the bystanders had never seen the like of, and were truly in awe. The An'She grimaced uncomfortably, pulling at the collar of her blouse, before vigorously fanning herself again. "It's positively sweltering out here," she complained, groaning with fatigue, "You'd hardly know it was winter. I almost miss the snow in Umbra." Rou was often unaffected by the heat and the cold, as she always ran hot with her control of fire, but her magic had felt off since arriving through the border, an unfortunate side-effect of La'Ruta. Rou tested her powers with a few flexes of her fingers and slaps to the back of her hands, but flame had simply refused to flicker-- it wasn't gone, she could feel it, but she felt as if someone had taken out her batteries. Magic was different here, and made her feel awkward and strangely naked. She grunted through her nose after no success at another attempt, before crossing her arms under her chest, made to accept defeat. She made a not-so-subtle sidestep to move closer to Zenahriel, indulging in what little shade she could get from the shadow of his wings. "It'll take them yet awhile to rally the procession, and I doubt her grace will be ready to receive us until after the sun falls," she mentioned to him, casting a sidelong glance upward. Even from there, they could see into the Commercial District, a marketplace of shops and stands between the pillars of Atitlan gothic architecture; the smell of food, fish, and incense carried all the way; a deep inhale found the An'She's senses both satisfied and wanting. "I don't imagine you get much chance to see the city-- and given my unfriendly history with the queen, if this doesn't go well, it may well be my last," Rou said, cutting the last bit under her breath. It was perhaps a little in self-interest, as gathered by the slightly sardonic tone in the mild chuckle that followed, desperate to stave off the heat, and perhaps the growing number of stares gathering in the marina. Linking her arm with Zenahriel, she hooked him before he'd had time to refuse, though she suspected he was a most pleased victim of her kidnapping. "What say you and I explore the city while the grunts do the work, hm? A proper date-- between colleagues, of course." Captain Fowler, wise to Rou's antics, stopped in his duties with the drop of a wooden chest, and pointed an admonitory finger at Rou. "Stay out of the Pleasure District," he warned strictly, a scowl rife on his face, like a badger that had been pulled from its nest. He was one of the few men on earth who could reproach Rou with such a parental nature and live to tell about it, though like a rebellious child, she rarely listened. Stressing it's importance, he cautioned again. " 'll not have ye make another mess as last time." "Pssssh," Rou excused him with an alleviating wave of her hand, and half an apologetic smile. "How was I supposed to know the wife of the high priest was in the closet, with a thing for harems?" she hissed in a whisper, trying to corral herself and Zenahriel out of the conversation. The An'She laughed in such strain it nearly squeaked, under the burden of Fowler's protective sheltering-- but trouble attracted to Rou like flies to honey. "It was one time, and her husband's a prude; I can't be blamed for that, surely." Fowler bristled with her details, indecency exposed to one of the High Lords of Genesaris, knowing that he would likely have to answer for the transgression, later. He served his Emperor faithfully, and was entrusted with the most difficult task of keeping his mischievous An'She in line, which seemed more difficult than squeezing a full-sized brigantine into a brandy bottle. More sternly, gruff and with his patience obviously worn, he growled at her. "Out." "No promises, see you later, Fowler--" she rattled off hastily, now pushing Zenahriel with both of her hands pressed against the small of his back into the thick of the crowd, bound for the Commercial District. She hadn't laughed, too afraid of what Fowler would do to her if she did.
  14. Narcissa

    General chat thread

    *pops up* DID SOMEONE SAY CURSES?
  15. Narcissa

    For the Good of My House

    As he held out the knife like a feat of divine miracle, the hush of whispers made the overwhelming surprise absolutely palpable, and every pair of eyes found themselves on Andross... except Vhoori's. From the moment he saw the blood rune reflected on the blade of his knife, his icy stare had combed through the crowd in a beeline for his daughter, who stared defiantly back. He had already known what was to come, even without the sight his insolent daughter had been so privileged to have, for the outcome was inevitable from even the first time Gavin's son had challenged it. The trust between their two houses had been forged to perfection, that they would've made off with the gold and never needed to look back on this betrayal to House Kholin. Vhoori Ul'Vandiir was silent for a long while, long enough to let some of the gazes of his fellow countrymen wander his way; others didn't, telltale admittance of their guilt in the deception. Inhaling so briskly that it had wrinkled his long, pointed nose, he bristled as he pivoted back in his seat to face the heads of House Kholin, at that moment seeming like a three-headed Hydra, a single claw bared in the knife that grasped Vhoori's foul counterfeit ore in its menacing coil. "Lord Gavin--" he began, in a tempered, firm voice, but was quickly repelled. "Not another word from you," Gavin Kholin warned Vhoori, the timbre of his voice deep and gravelly. He was slow to gather himself from his chair, raising to an imposing height over the seated elf, though whether he felt greater anger or dissatisfaction for the offense, it was too hard to tell. More than anything else, he looked tired. His thin-eyed glance dropped only to follow the path of his hand sweeping across the table, gathering up the warped, sea-green metal fragments in his palm, before letting them spill back onto the mahogany. "Seven years we've been at this, Vhoori," Gavin said, dropping the namesake of title, propriety not arbitrarily thrown to the wayside, "Seven years that we've nursed this trust, seeing it through infancy and to childlike adolescence. And all the while we have endured the way you and yours look down your nose at us, though we are as instrumental to your prosperity as you are to ours." He spoke as if betrayal by the Ul'Vandiir had been expected, perhaps even a little disappointed that the elves were not beholden to this wisdom on their own, given their race's affinities. "If the well being of your house must come at the expense of House Kholin, then we may no longer do business." His chair squeaked as it slid along the floor, making space enough to signify that he planned to leave, his will imparted. "Nor, I imagine, with any other house of Ursa Madeum, given that you've tainted who knows how much of their triastine stores." Vhoori was about to object, from the way he lurched forward with jaw open, but another voice cleaved the crowd. "The triastine Lord Vhoori has sent you thus far is pure, save this lot," Vivienne spoke, gesturing with a splayed hand towards the small bounty on the table, "That I can assure you; I have seen it. Appraise it if you must, you'll find no compromising of Ursa Madeum's prized airship fleet, either." She dipped her head with a polite curtsy, the great white pelt on her back shuddering as she quickly resumed her height. The elf kept her bandaged hand close to her chest, fingers wound tightly in a fist to apply pressure to the cut she'd sliced across her palm, the price of the magnetic rune the Hexmistress had applied to Andross' knife. Vivienne's red eyes shifted, exchanging tepid glances with Vhoori, who's scowl was growing ever greater. She spoke curtly, polite and without her usual charm, insinuating an understood honesty in her claims. "I implore you, forgive my father his lapse in judgement. The depletion of the mine has placed an unbearable stress on we Ul'Vandiir, my father enduring its burden most of all." There was no way to lighten his treachery, though Vivienne navigated it like a calm river, pushing carefully through each bend with a firm hand. "Being dependent on others for self-sufficiency does not come natural for an elf, and neither the lands in the Arcane East nor its customs yet feel like home. To trust another is not yet beholden to us, and thus we are as prone to error." The tension in the room had eased, somewhat, with Vivienne's reassurances, though Vhoori had hardly deigned to move. It was clear she'd offended him, but his daughter proceeded, anyway. "Some of our other mines bear triastane, though we haven't enough men to reap the vein. Should you be able to spare four men to tour a season in the Arcane East as our guests, you'll see bounty enough to have your shipment delivered by spring, a whole season earlier than previously agreed." Vivienne managed a warm smile at Gavin and the brothers Kholin across the long table, an alluring tilt of her head that shuffled her heavy braid closer to the floor. "You'd be able to see that new fleet built to completion before the summer is out. Would this satisfy you, and repair the trust between our Houses?" With a short dose of what felt like brilliance, Alexandros slapped his father's arm with the back of his wrist, like a needy child in desperate need of attention. "At half price," the elder twin prince bargained, blurting it out as if he were unable to stop himself. It wasn't much, but at least he could say that he'd negotiated part of the situation. Judging by the rather impish grin on his face, he'd felt fiendishly clever. Pausing, as she was not the one equipped to finalize the decisions of state, Vivienne's head swiveled to consider her father. The remaining heads turned audibly, adding to the pressure weighing heavy on the Ul'Vandiir's shoulders. Vhoori had paled white as a sheet, his lips pressed into a thin line; she guessed he was likely feeling sick to his stomach at the vulgar proposition. However, he was in little faith to barter, besides how he'd felt haggling was beneath him. After a moment, and with an almost visible pain, he paid a silent nod to Vivienne. Vivienne smiled, a coy curl of her painted lips, before placing her hand across her chest and tilting with an approving bow. "As you will," she agreed, confirming her father's participation in the new contract, "Half price." She rose, satisfied, warm of spirit, if only for the moment. "Select your men, Lord Kholin, the caravan leaves tonight at dusk, bound for the harbor." With negotiations concluded, the great hall started moving all at once, words suddenly deafened by the echoes of shuffling from so many dozens of shoes. Each had their own way to go, like ants spilling from a sandy anthill in the sun, filing out of the exits in funneled lines. Two among them remained motionless however, Vhoori and Vivienne locked in a competing, almost hostile gaze. He didn't take his eyes from her, a cold, icy blue, as he rose from his seat and pushed it politely in, clasped his hands behind his back, and walked to her side. "A word," he muttered coldly at her shoulder, before passing by her to follow the last of their kinsmen out, Vivienne following close behind. Once they'd filed into the hallway, Vhoori's pace slowed, then lingered altogether, standing abreast with his daughter. His posture was rigid and uncomfortably straight, even to look at, his chin poised as high as if he hadn't just been struck down in the middle of his own betrayal. When all else had left, the two alone to share a private word, he turned on the toes of his boots to face Vivienne. With a swift hand, Vhoori struck her across the left cheek, with little reservation. Vivienne's sight had gone white with a flash, her head swimming, before being resurrected by the warm sting in that consumed her face, tingling as she'd cupped it with the splay of her bandaged hand. "How dare you!" he hissed at her, leaning down with an imposing pinch of his shoulders, like a vulture peering over a fresh carcass. "The deal was finalized, and then you betray us? You've had quite enough of this rebellious streak, before you damage what little we have left." Every word that spilled from his mouth was hypocritical, though snobbery and projecting blame for an elf seemed as natural as breathing. "And you used that heretical magic, in front of his son, no less! They could have burned you at the stake, for such witchcraft. Were you not my daughter, I would have you flayed for this insolence." Vivienne's red eyes shot up at him, the calm displayed in the great hall having faded with the sting that faded as quickly from her cheek as it came. "You mean, if I did not have this mark upon my face." She stared him down, brow perverted by her resentfulness. With the look in her eyes, Vhoori knew she had seen it. "How long have you known? About St. Rias, my intent?" he admitted, curt and to the point. There was no reason to weasel out of his implication, now. "A month," Vivienne confessed, though her stern tone had not wavered, "The rebellion you fund in Kadia does not succeed, and the Ul'Vandiir are no more." Vhoori bit at the inside of his cheek, nearly snarling through his teeth. He had grown impatient, and had no time for games. "And you waited until now to intercede? To incriminate me in front of our allies?" he was seething, fuming in front of her like a bellows, swallowing up air so he could vent it back out at his discourteous spawn. Her gaze challenged him, inhaling so greatly that both her chest and her pelt inflated, ruffled like an irate rooster. "And tell me, Father, if I had simply told you that you failed, would you not have tried again?" Again, Vhoori raised his hand to her, the only retort that could be mustered.
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