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The Alexandrian

Strangers in the Night [Networking Event]

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Aveline/Torie
Again Torie nodded sagely. She was trying to understand, but there were just too many new terms coming at her all at once that she couldn’t keep up. The wine probably wasn’t helping either. “Alright,” she said at last, “But maybe you could write them down, or show me in pictures? That would help me understand them better.
“And also, how will this help people? I can see how flying carts might be handy, of course! But what else can these magic – sorry, electric constructs help people? I haven’t seen any farm land since I arrived. And what are those little glowing devices people keep looking at?"

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Míra | Michael

Michael glanced appraisingly in her direction as the sharply dressed woman took her seat. His lips twitched up at the corners at the bold greeting. "Given my company, I imagine the choice is rather simple." He caught the attention of the bartender before they could vanish and held up two fingers. A moment later, a matching glass of expertly poured wine materialized before him as well. 

He took her hand and gave an earnest shake. "Michael von Morgenstern. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Ms. Andronov." His fingers closed delicately around the neck of the glass and he gave it a modest swirl as it cleared the table. He noted the wine was almost the same attractive shade of crimson as her lips and nails. If it had been a deliberate measure, he had to applaud it.  "I admit, I briefly wondered what sort of person they would match me with to begin the night." 

He flashed a bright smile. "At the very least, you know how to introduce yourself splendidly." Michael took a sip of the aerated wine and took a moment to appreciate her choice. "I'm hardly well versed in the finer points of wine, but it seems our gracious host has excellent some excellent stock. Certainly an expensive taste for it, given some of the vintages I've seen being ordered out on the mezzanine." He rested the glass down beside his now deactivated tablet and shifted slightly to give her more of his attention.

Michael took in the details of her appearance with the practiced ease of a professional spy. Her attire was of the same if not better quality materials than his own suit, professionally cut, and certainly of impeccable design. She appeared to be young, perhaps even younger than he was - but there was a keen intellect to her eyes that belied it. Experienced. Comfortable with people. Attractive. 

Businesswoman, he intuited - although the same qualities could apply equally to spies. Frankly, he was more than happy to assume the former possibility. He was out of the game, and held no interest in returning to the twilight world of espionage. Corporate small talk was easier, anyways. "So what brings you out to the generous hospitality of the Glasmann estate? Were you lured here by the promise of interesting conversation as I was, or are you an acquaintance of our host?" 

@vielle

Edited by Grimmholt

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Aveline/Torie

How do you accurately draw an atom? There's so much space that if a single proton is the size of a basketball, its lone electron would be two miles away. Also, how can Aveline ask Torie's second question?

"Electricity can bring light, make something spin, heat materials,  and even perform mathematical functions. Electricity makes fabrication easier, starting a gasoline engine far less dangerous and more convenient, and helps farmers grow more crops on the same amount of land and with less manual labor. It allows for more specilization of labor and raises quality of life. That's why its generation is one of our most immediate goals."

@Venus Sprite

Edited by notmuch_23

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[Caeceila and Evienne]

"My Lady, if you do not believe me, you have my permission to do to me as any of your enemies, cut me up- torture me. If you suspect I am still a 'heartless bitch' after what you've heard."

Hush, Caeceila; dry the tears from your eyes.  Stand in consummate silence, vessel of light, and shoulder a burden no other could endure.  Guard the living, and avenge those lost in the shade.  Your lamentations are for naught; none but the gods can mend the injustice of bygone days.  Wrest control of the future from a mercurial providence, pen it in blackened blood on parchment of leathery skin, so the weak need not dwell in eternal night.

As Caeceila rises, the air enveloping the noble youths is charged with energy and a palpable tension.  Though the women are compeers, alike in status and in upbringing, one, a ghastly demon dripping blood, stalks the wicked in a caliginous netherworld while the second, a gentle angel with alabaster wings, luxuriates in the warm caress of the sun and the blissful repose of the moon.  This angel, a beauteous creature even as it weeps for the anguished demon, offers her blood, her life, to quench the demon's thirst, and in return, the demon moves forward and embraces the angel.  It is an unpracticed, ungainly hug to be sure, as if the hopeless fiend had never hugged anything before and would never hug anything after, but the sincerity of the gesture, a surreal apology for the demon ever having existed at all, is impossibly sweet and equally heartbreaking.  If not for the meddling of misery and devastation, how would the heiress express the ineffable compassion that now compels her to forsake the light and transform herself into a monster worse than any she would ever battle?

If you truly care for this world, I beg you, do what I cannot.  Be the voice of peace.  Live a happy, fulfilling life.  Dream.  Dream of a world in which people like me do not exist and are never desired.

And I -

I'm sorry I treated you so sternly.  I wanted my guests to check their worries at the door.  I should - I should abide by my own rules.  To make up for my - my - my whatever that was, I'd like to, maybe, perform my Azatar shopping through you.  I don't know how small your business is, but I think, if it's alright, and I hope it is alright, I'd like to commission something - something around one hundred outfits from you.  I, my, I mean...  My social circle is vast even - even though most of its members actively fear me, so I'm, you know, on the hook for gifts and I -

I'm still holding you...  Sorry.  Let's go into the dressing room.  It's much comfier in there.

Caeceila hastily releases Evienne.  No sooner has she done so than she staggers over to a heavy mahogany door near the staircase.  The door, which did not respond in the least to Evienne's presence, slides aside at Caeceila's approach.  Caeceila transitions to the well-lit dressing room, with its well-stocked makeup and hair-styling stations, a repository of clothing suspended from an automated garment conveyor, a sparkling metal refrigerator, and plush sets of furniture, with the poise of someone who is utterly exhausted, both mentally and physically, and in "inconsequential" pain.  She favors her right leg until she flops down into an armchair within reach of an assortment of beverages, drinking glasses, and spheres of ice stored within a translucent, cylindrical container.

So - so how's Ursa Madeum these days?  I've heard - I've heard troubling things, quite frankly, but only bits - bits and pieces - about power struggles.

Caeceila is obviously struggling to regain her composure.  She's trying so hard, but her voice wavers still.

Edited by The Alexandrian

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Pearl & Ilyana

 

There it was. Yet another constructed façade meant to hide the truth of this woman’s reaction to her words. Pearl didn’t know how many times such a tactic had been employed by her or the women she has since redeemed from the maw of one of Hell’s Gates less attractive beasts. Ilyana was not a woman who enjoyed indulging in falsities or mind games with other women, much less when the woman looked as capable as the red haired beauty before her. It was a pity then that all she witnessed were unsuccessful attempts at being cordial and a suppression of how she truly wished to act. Such inhibition only reminded Ilyana of the confining constructs such events placed on her and her disgust immediately flared once Pearl continued attempting to shield the truth with floaty words.

 

“I’m flattered, really I am..”

“For someone to be so concerned with my wants and needs, that’s….very considerate.”

 

As Pearl gulped down her drink, she’d find the hand that had been placed on her shoulder immediately retracted and then the offense began.

 

“It’s just that my purpose here is mainly business. I really don’t have time for…tourist activities.”

 

Could it be that business conduct in Seinaru Forven must be so overtly boring this woman did not understand how most deals were made? She was a foreigner arriving into a den full of people native to this land and it seemed her focus was on something acute or specific to her needs….something Ilyana wished Pearl would just let out instead of remaining so guarded. Ilyana was growing bored and she did not care to hide it either. A small yawn escaped her and while she feigned a desire to hide it by turning her head away from Pearl, the entrepreneur took her time returning her gaze upon Pearl, glazing over the other guests as if already preparing herself for her next conversation with someone else.

 

“So…before you said you were the owner of The Redeemer. What is The Redeemer, might I ask? It sounds like a powerful weapon.”

 

Ilyana, at this time, did not take any of those last words as flattery. Pearl had first inquired about her contacts. She now inquired about the nature of her business. What the foreign visitor did not know was how much she had deprived her of how much her influence had seeped into sectors most of her competitors could only dream of ever getting into or the methods she used to get there. The slew of politicians and magnates had learned quickly how their proclivities made them pawns for those as ambitious as she. Pearl’s initial questions had been key to the trajectory this conversation had gone. Ilyana had humored the approach for this long but she couldn’t anymore.

 

“Anything is a powerful weapon in the hands of those skilled enough to use it Pearl. The Redeemer is multifaceted, amorphous to a degree to fit the needs of her customer. She aims to free those in bondage or chained in servitude. She looks to ease the burdens that the hardships along this mortal coil bring. We feed those in hunger, give strength to the weary, initiate change where necessary…all to redeem people, cities…souls that need her.”

 

Ilyana’s tone grew colder and colder as she continued but there was an evident passion near the end that she did not hide. She stared at the guests around her, never spending too much time on any of them as she continued.

 

“Everyone needs to feel unburdened at some point, Pearl. They simply need to be honest about what they need redemption from to get what they need.”

 

Ilyana heard Caeceila’s outburst in the distance even through the din around them, her senses acutely augmented due to the volatility of their host’s abilities. Obtenebra, paranoid as ever, did not enjoy such displays. The amorphous companion urged her to be on her guard but Ilyana was already well within this mindset, equating those around her as nothing more than parasites aiming to leech off of what she had already gained as soon as she had stepped in to the Glasmann Estate. That did not deter her at all for even parasites have their uses to mend the damage she could see all around her in Hell’s Gate…hell..in all of Valucre.

 

Ilyana shifted finally to look at Pearl, her black eyes swirling with intensity.

 

“So I will ask one more time…just to make sure. Pearl, what business motivates a capable woman such as yourself from Seinaru Forven to travel outside of her comfort here to this event?”

 

Pearl was correct about one thing. Ilyana Sevryn does not play any games and will not suffer any more gamesmanship now.

Edited by Dolor Aeternum

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[ Míra Andronov / Michael von Morgenstern ]

 

It is quite an uncommon sight for her to smile, but Míra’s lips twitch all the same when the man takes her unspoken advice, mirroring her and ordering wine for himself as well. His grip on her hand is firm, brisk, professional. A fine colleague, if her assumption is correct. She has yet to meet him in her circles, but then he rather seems like a virtuous sort, not at all like the usual miscreants who come her way. She listens to his introduction, nails tapping against the glass in a steady rhythm.

“Mr. von Morgenstern,” Míra nods, repeats his name as another greeting, as a clarification. His name does not ring any bells, and so she leans back and observes him as he continues.

"I'm hardly well versed in the finer points of wine, but it seems our gracious host has some excellent stock.”

“Perhaps,” she concedes, raising her glass in both a mock salute and an invitation to a toast with the man, should he feel inclined to accept, “though I might still prefer the grapes from my own vineyards.” She does not elaborate further, merely leaves it at that.

He then inquires as to her manner of invitation to the estate, and she takes a sip, red-on-red, before she responds. “Interesting conversation, yes, but above all else, opportunities.” Míra hums, an odd light flaring in her eyes as she regards him with a measured look. “What do you consider interesting, then, Mr. von Morgenstern? I’ll have to endeavor to provide, if we are to have a fruitful discussion,” she muses, lips curling as she raises her glass to drink.

 


@Grimmholt

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Míra | Michael

“Perhaps,” their glasses met and clinked delicately as he accepted her invitation, “though I might still prefer the grapes from my own vineyards.” Connections were made, and the context of her earlier question became clearer. "Oh, I couldn't fault you there. It seems a wholly more pleasant proposition to enjoy the fruits of one's labor, at any rate. Are you a vintner by trade, or is it simply something you do in addition to other ventures?" 

“Interesting conversation, yes, but above all else, opportunities.” He felt a flicker of something beneath her cool demeanor as she spoke - something in the gleam of her eyes as she mentioned opportunities. He was reminded briefly of the first time he had seen a panther stalking through its territory, all languid grace and silken stride up to the moment it pounced. It seemed Caeceila had an intriguing social circle - and he had found himself dealing with one of the most interesting. Michael leaned back slightly and smiled as he felt the weight of her inquisitive eyes on him. Something tells me you're not here to sell me a crate of wine. And that is perfectly fine by my taste. 

 "Opportunities abound here," he replied with a casual wave towards the room and the collected members of Hells Gate society and beyond. "But I may have one for a person of your particular taste and refinement."

“What do you consider interesting, then, Mr. von Morgenstern? I’ll have to endeavor to provide, if we are to have a fruitful discussion."

 It was his turn now. His cool blue eyes came to meet her own, a wolfish smile on his lips.

 "My company is interested in expanding into Terrenus, but I've heard of strange and deeply concerning events occurring across the land. These sort of things tend to disrupt industries here and there, and I imagine quite a few of my future manufacturing competitors may be considering exiting the field." He took another deep sip, breaking the flow of the conversation. It allowed him an opportunity to see whether she was following along - although he had no doubt she would be. "It would be a shame to see their marques close and their workers go unemployed. Should you come across any such individuals over similarly fine wine, Morningstar would be much obliged if you would pass their information along." 

"We're quite good at producing industrial equipment, shipping, and even some forms of weaponry, of course. As a token of my gratitude I would be quite happy to procure whatever implements you might require to expand your own business. On the house." 

@vielle

 

Edited by Grimmholt

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[ Míra Andronov / Michael von Morgenstern ]

 

Míra’s gaze tracks the hypnotic swirl of languid red against the glass as she twirls it around her fingers, thinks for a moment before she replies. “Not solely a vintner, not quite,” her lips twitch as she turns her eyes back to the man beside her. “I find myself a patron of opera and dancing as well.”

She listens, takes tiny sips in a seemingly preoccupied manner as the conversation shifts towards his own reasons of attendance, the company he holds within his grasp, and it is rather palpable, the shrewd competence that oozes through his every pore. He does not seem to be quite at the stratum of the likes of Quinton and the shadowy allies she holds close, not yet, but Míra can see the mark of a capable businessman in his bearing.

“My company is interested in expanding into Terrenus, but I've heard of strange and deeply concerning events occurring across the land.”

Míra nods at this; the impact of flagrant organizations—in this, she is reminded of the truth behind Quinton’s words, during that fateful first meeting—across the breadth of Terrenus is evident in every echelon of society. She finds a kindred spirit in this man, seeing the possibilities that lie within remaining resilient against fickle change. Ultimately, one by one, every last rival falls to the wayside, and the one left standing finds themselves holding the world in the palm of their hands. Only the strong may survive, and perhaps this man has found a way to secure his position at the top.

“As a token of my gratitude, I would be quite happy to procure whatever implements you might require to expand your own business. On the house.”

“You drive a hard bargain, sir, offering such a favor, and for nothing in return,” she teases, gestures towards the bartender to refill her suddenly empty glass. “Knowledge ought to be freely given. I prefer tangible things when it comes to making deals.” Míra levels a measured look at the man, her mouth curving upwards in a faintly amused smile. “I am quite established in Terrenus, and I find that I would like to expand beyond these shores. I shall bring the individuals you seek straight to your doorstep, ready to comply to whatever merger or acquisition you wish,” she studies her nails with a practiced look of abandon, “and in return, I would like the opportunity to commission your shipping services, as well as your weaponry.” She pauses, tilts her head. Morningstar, was it? Your company?”

 


@Grimmholt

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Caeceila Glassman and Evienne Goldcourt

Evienne nearly flinches away from the outstretched arms, and for a moment there’s the bleak possibility of her bluff being called upon- and she’s terrified. But, that’s quickly put to rest as the strange hostess embraces Evienne, slowly, and its security that blankets her. She wraps her arms around the blonde noble in return, relief easing her mind once more. She could feel the strength in Caeceila’s body, and she doesn’t decieve herself for a moment that, she, Evienne Goldcourt was painfully outmatched in the battle for wills here.

Yet, there was still a sliver of hope that her cause isn’t completely lost- the her naivete hadn’t robbed her of a golden opportunity. For friendship… and business.

The Hostess was certainly an intriguing person, that had, gotten what she wanted from Evie… now for the returns.

 To make up for my - my - my whatever that was, I'd like to, maybe, perform my Azatar shopping through you.  

Azatar was, a celebration of winter chairty- she supposes that it was what the Reverie is based off of for this year, either way it puts a smile onto her face. When she is finally released from the embrace she passes the handkerchief onto the Lady's hands. 

“I insist,” Is all she says- close behind the heiress. Evienne notices the limp, and the exhaustion surrounding her entire being, she doesn’t have to work to conjure the look of concern.

“Are you quite alright, Lady Cae? I’d be delighted to take your comission.. But, business can wait, you can reach me by sending a letter any time… oh dear, you look dead on your feet- do forgive me.” Evienne catches her breath, remaining standing by the humming metal contraption. “This is a lovely room, I’ve not encountered such advanced feats of technological progress before. I wish for Ursa Madeum to be just as advanced… some day.

She clears her throat, running her finger tips down the edge of her dagger, “Slowly, My Lady, Slowly, we’re recovering from the Tyrant King’s damage. There’s still quite a ways to go but, I believe we’re making progress. The nobles squabble and scheme, but that’s the way of things.”

She falters, engaging the Lady with her candid iron gaze, “I’ve heard news of riots in Hell’s Gate this afternoon… how are things here?”
 

Edited by LikelyMissFortune

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Míra | Michael

 “Not solely a vintner, not quite,” her lips twitch as she turns her eyes back to the man beside her. “I find myself a patron of opera and dancing as well.”

"A rather erudite trio - one I hope I'll have the opportunity to enjoy during my stay here. My own interests tend towards the culinary, when I'm not enjoying the company of fascinating vintners." His eyes flashed with mirth as he spoke. "It might be quite amusing to see your favorite red wine and one of my best steaks paired for an evening." Michael smiled broadly. From a purely professional standpoint, they both stood to profit immensely if she really could deliver weak points in the industrial fabric of Terrenus to him. It was the most cost effective means of securing a foothold within the already established halls of commerce here. Moreover, he really did believe in keeping the skilled and downtrodden employed. If it happened to be under the gold and azure banner of Morningstar Industries, well - that was a fortunate byproduct of his enlightened philanthropy. Besides, he was rather enjoying her company. 

“You drive a hard bargain, sir, offering such a favor, and for nothing in return,” Michael snorted despite himself. “Knowledge ought to be freely given. I prefer tangible things when it comes to making deals.” 

He gave a nonchalant shrug at the faux objection. "As the old adage goes - knowledge is power." Michael reached into the pocket of his jacket and withdrew a gold cylinder roughly the size of his thumb. A quick flick of his dexterous fingers brought the round face up for him to set between them. He spoke softly, with a matter -of-fact tone that belied his experience with the topic. "A single round can change the course of an entire war provided that it strikes the right target. Of course, an artillery bombardment might do the same thing by sheer brute force, certainly, carpet bombing the entire city that target is in might do it by dumb luck. But imagine knowing precisely where to send this one, rather inexpensive, yet potent round in the first place." 

 “I am quite established in Terrenus, and I find that I would like to expand beyond these shores. I shall bring the individuals you seek straight to your doorstep, ready to comply to whatever merger or acquisition you wish, and in return, I would like the opportunity to commission your shipping services, as well as your weaponry.” She pauses, tilts her head. “Morningstar, was it? Your company?”

Michael nodded his head in response and motioned to the sun and name engraved into the side of the round. "You can think of this as my card. Or a marker for Morningstar." He grinned. "I've been told often enough there's a bullet with my name on it out there. I figured I might as well be the one to manufacture it. And I agree. Upon your facilitation of my first contact, I shall furnish a black book of Morningstar resources for your exclusive - and discrete - use." 

@vielle

Edited by Grimmholt

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[ Míra Andronov / Michael von Morgenstern ]

 

She finds herself mildly enjoying his company as well, as it turns out.

“I do fancy a good steak every now and then,” Míra says, takes a sip of wine as she puts on a thoughtful expression. “Perhaps I’ll find some time to dabble in your interests as well, pay a visit to this culinary establishment of yours.”

The Crow nods in agreement at his discussion of employing knowledge for efficiency in the field, and then observes closely as the man takes a piece of ammunition, glimmering golden in the firelight of the bar, and places it between them on the counter. A part of her faintly wonders if she can somehow commission a series of silver rounds, encrusted with tiny emeralds or sapphires along the rim of the bullets. They would make a lovely addition to her arsenal, and can perhaps prove a point more thoroughly.

“Upon your facilitation of my first contact, I shall furnish a black book of Morningstar resources for your exclusive - and discrete - use."

“Charming,” Míra replies as she takes the bullet into her palm, studies the image of the sun engraved into it for a moment. She then nonchalantly tucks it into a pocket of her suit before taking out a lavender-scented business card, her name and the location of Datura Innoxia etched onto the smooth surface. A satisfied smile makes itself known on her red lips as she slides the card towards the man’s side of the bar. “It seems I’ve struck gold so early into the evening,” she muses, presents her glass to the man for yet another toast, should he accept it. “To further possibilities, Mr. von Morgenstern. I look forward to what we can achieve together.”

With the deal struck, she then turns her attention towards more idle talk as they wait for the bell to ring, signaling the next round of introductions and discussions. “Tell me of where you come from, where you conduct your business and leisure alike. Perhaps it may find itself at the top of my list of places to visit in the near future.”

 


@Grimmholt

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[Caeceila Glasmann and Evienne Goldcourt]

Inhale and exhale.  To a sequence of rhythmic breaths, as constant as the ticks of a metronome, heaven's light relents.  Quietly and inconspicuously, Caeceila exercises not her magic but her will.  To her, the world is not immobile, and with a shift of perspective, capitalizing on a technique so trivial that scarce few assign so much as a scrap of value to it, Caeceila lifts a glass of water to her lips and slakes her thirst.  It is one thing to watch a woman wish she was not weary, but it is another thing entirely to watch a woman will away her weariness.  At once, her posture improves immeasurably.  She straightens in her armchair, rolling her shoulders up and back.  With a muffled pop, she kicks the low coffee table to her front.  Color spills into her features, washing away her pallor in a turbulent wave of energy.  With extraordinary lightness of motion and form drawn from a bottomless well of determination, Caeceila leans over and snatches a remote from an adjacent end table.  With the press of a button, music filters into the room from a faraway source.

Spoiler

 

I suppose the nobility of Ursa Madeum isn't quite so removed from the upper echelon of Hell's Gate despite the apparent discontinuity in our genius loci.

Caeceilla starts, carelessly discarding the silvery remote by tossing it at a vacant chair.  She stoops over, fingers threading the hub of a cylinder of wound crimson cloth.  Rising from the chair she lifelessly collapsed into not a minute in the past, she proceeds to bind her midsection with the artistry of an inveterate brawler.  Caeceila's motivation eclipses her discomfort, and she soldiers on.  Caeceila ambles across the pristine hardwood floor to a vanity, yanks one of the drawers open as she clamps a strip of unfurled cloth between her teeth, procures a roll of measuring tape, and lobs it, underhand, at the coffee table.  Without missing a beat, her lecture resumes.

In Hell's Gate, as it is the world over, the contemporary elite are opportunists springing from a trap, hired knives cloaked within a haze of feigned pleasantries and hollow customs.  By exploiting whatever weaknesses they uncover, they gain wealth and power in disproportionate measure to the righteous and compassionate.  In antiquity, some espoused honor, duty, and pride in the work of their hands; some were virtuous, lionhearted rulers striving, as providence ordained, to actualize the sublime aspirations of our absent creators.  With a desperate conviction, now all but unknown, they took up the mantle of the gods, constraining the awesome powers they wielded with the solemn responsibilities of champions of light.  Now, we pin our titles to our lapels and repudiate our obligations like whoresons cucking our hearts.  Our surnames mean nothing or inspire equal parts fear and despair in our charges.

The words Caeceila spoke this night would bring Evienne no joy apart from, perhaps, the knowledge that Caeceila of House Glasmann was a unique specimen among the denizens of Hell's Gate and that Caeceila of House Glasmann saw in Evienne something wonderful that Cae herself couldn't yet explain.  Some part of Cae could deny it no longer.  In Evienne, Caeceila...  Caeceila saw her.  The resemblance, not in body but in spirit, was uncanny.  They would even be the same age.

Pushing such musings aside, Caeceila twines length after length of cloth about her midsection, transferring the hub from the grip of one hand to the grip of the other with finesse.  These are uncomplicated movements, but there is a beauty to their simplicity and speed.

In a forgotten era, wanton liquidation of life would be met with force and outcry the likes of which the present can scarcely conceive, but this age is, as I've observed time and time again, particularly cruel.  House Glasmann stands alone, and within House Glasmann, I am the sole Wyrmsbane.

Wyrmsbane.  None would recognize the honorific, but Caeceila stressed the title as though it was of the utmost consequence, as though it was her being distilled into a label.

Suicides.  Serial killings.  Despondency.  The dazzling glow of Hell's Gate lures the eye up and away from the frigid bodies that lie in our streets.  We are evolving into a soulless people.  Soon enough, you won't be able to distinguish between the decadent houses, cocky savants and kings of dust, and the unfeeling automata we fabricate!  Devils take them one and all, for no other would!

Resignation drips from Caeceila's tongue as she pillories her foolhardy neighbors.  Fastening her binding and testing it with a tug, she leans against the wooden vanity to her flank, regarding Evienne with eyes of ice.  No matter how mighty and motivated she is, she can't fight everyone at once.  Though she would be the last to own it, some crimes she has no power to impede.

Here is the crux of my predicament.  If you pretend to stand with the elite and they are convinced you can be of use to them, they deign to permit you to carry on as you will.  If you stand in their way, you are trampled as they plow past.  That is what transpired here.  A conglomeration of technophiles has established dominion over Hell's Gate.  They watch our cities fall silent and don't do damn thing to stop it.  Our bastion embraces its namesake and casts its humanity aside.  For what, I ask?  For the fledgling god.  For progress.

Yes, this is the purported cost of progress, and it is a price the rich and powerful gladly pay.  It is patently absurd!  This isn't progress!  This is iniquity, and this iniquity is greed!  My city's treatment of her people makes me ill, and I feel their pain as though it were my own.  My family and I are unequivocally opposed to the path our city has taken, but we cannot simply pick up some wands, flick our wrists, and make everyone whole.  Charity is our only recourse, and our resources, while impressive, are by no means limitless.  Without violence or territorial expansion, we cannot reverse the damage done by the clique of nobles and industrialists spearheading this effort, and violence is not a viable option for a long-term solution.  And so the people are upset, and they know my name.  I have become a symbol to them, and I am using my status and my power to make a monster of myself.  I want the propaganda they are spreading.  It may ruin my image for a time, but if I can save one life by sacrificing my image, I can handle the civil disobedience, gossip, and hatred.

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Míra | Michael

“I do fancy a good steak every now and then, perhaps I’ll find some time to dabble in your interests as well, pay a visit to this culinary establishment of yours.”

"Should you find yourself visiting the north side of Hells Gate, you are most welcome to drop by Firebrand. My chef and I would be delighted to entertain you for a night." He tapped on the tablet at his side and flicked through the available screens until he managed to find the one he knew to be there. Michael hummed along for a moment as he typed, and then it was done. "There, I've sent the address directly to you through the onboard messaging program. It seems our host - and this city - are full of intriguing qualities." The ex-spy smiled warmly as he finished. 

“Charming,”

He took her card - which, in a rather interesting symmetry also displayed a bit of her own flair. Michael lifted it to his face and appreciated the scent for a moment. "It came to him after a moment. In his mind's eye, he saw swaying fields of purple flowers beneath an almost too blue sky. "Lavender," he remarked after a moment, cocking his head slightly. "The color of royalty, refined, elegant - and fragrant." Michael gave an appreciative nod. "It's quite clever. And since scent triggers memory most strongly, an excellent way to leave an impression long after you and I have parted ways." 

“It seems I’ve struck gold so early into the evening,”

It was a sentiment he wholeheartedly agreed with. Michael laughed richly, raising his glass to clink against hers. 

“To further possibilities, Mr. von Morgenstern. I look forward to what we can achieve together.”

"To the opportunities that lie before us, and those which yet lay undiscovered." 

He drained his glass then and set it by the edge of the bar, where the silent, efficient machinations of the servants spirited it away as if by magic. “Tell me of where you come from, where you conduct your business and leisure alike. Perhaps it may find itself at the top of my list of places to visit in the near future.” Michael's eyes darkened for a second. He shrugged, and gave a wan smile. "My homeland of Alterion finds itself at the center of many dark and bloody contrivances. It's part of why I decided to move our manufacturing base to Genesaris, to Celin City. And likewise why I'm keen to come to Terrenus as well. A fragile stability - or the appearance of it - is far less wearying than its absence." 

His lips stretched into a more genuine smile. "But there is beauty here. When things have quieted down with the family business, I look forward to venturing out into the distant wilds here with a pack, a fishing rod, and a sturdy rifle. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to see the bounty of nature, to reach out and taste freedom rather than stale office air."

He indicated towards her. "What of yourself? Where did your journey begin?" 

@vielle

 

Edited by Grimmholt

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Caeciala Glassman/Evienne Goldcourt

She is changing as the wind. Unpredictably one way this moment; the complete opposite the next.

It's unnerving enough, when she seems to will herself to recover infront of Evienne's eyes- bursting into color and sound as lively as the music she summons with the press of a button. The Lady could only just daintily stay out of the other's way, towards the coffee table- only a cocked eyebrow still alluding to the fact that Evienne's was not at ease. She had witnessed far too much to be at ease. 

Still, there's an ironic smile twisting up on her lips as she snatches up the discarded measuring tape.

Perhaps, even the crooning motion with which she unfurls it is enough to impress upon the other that, Evienne was tranquil. Had gained equilibrium.

"Nobility, I've heard, resembles each other no matter where they are from." There's a twitch of her brows, and her gaze is transfixed on Caecilia's process of binding herself. "... Power and Titles seem to bewitch men, turning them greedy and despotic just when they are called on to be their most altruistic selves. I don't appreciate the irony there, I doubt the common folk would, either."

Evienne's movements are fluid, despite the vestige of tension in her shoulders, as she finds the beginning of the the tape and holds it out towards the heiress- and she catches Caeceila's icy stare with one of her own, unforgiving as the steel she hoped would greet their death. They shared a mutual disgust for the upper class, but she wondered is the Lady would see the grey of her eyes and think her one of them. "There's more grey to this City than there are lights that draw my eyes upwards, but... I didn't think the nobility of such a city would be so cruel. Is this truly worth the 'progress' if all that's been achieved is nothing except and acceptance of people as nothing more than resources?"

Still, Evienne proffers a smile, a little grin of her own.

"With the death of the Tyrant King, we had to completely restructure the nobility left on Ursa Madeum. The people were left in such dire states, their primary meal consisted of acorn flour bread if they were lucky. Towns had been destroyed, our Cities were turned to rubble." She sighs, with a shake of her head her smile melt away, "Then, the Empire came and returned some semblance of chaos to those damned islands- but the truth remains that where ever the squabbling, feuding nobility reigns under a King- so would uncertainty. We, Dali actually, quite like the idea of a republic."

She steps closer, and loops one end of the measuring tape to the other- inches away from Caeceila's back, "Revolution, if  we don't take the chance to change the system, would be bloody and long."

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[ Míra Andronov / Michael von Morgenstern ]

 

Míra nods as the information on Firebrand makes itself known on the screen of her own tablet. She takes note of the address and mentally places a date for a courtesy call to the establishment. “Certainly intriguing. I would see it for myself one of these days.”

Perhaps there had been something wrong in her words, a misstep she had not foreseen, when the man’s eyes dull for a half-second at the query about his homeland, then clear just as quickly as it had gone hazy.

"My homeland of Alterion finds itself at the center of many dark and bloody contrivances."

So he had extricated himself to another continent all together, Míra muses. She cannot claim to know much of the man’s land of origin, but there are whispers of the greed that flows through their societal veins, and the political turbulence that brews deep and wide-reaching. She would have done the same, in his place; if something holds no more inherent value to one’s well-being, then it would be practical to let it go and find a more accommodating notion.

"What of yourself? Where did your journey begin?"

Míra watches her own empty glass disappear from the counter, and almost wishes she had kept it for her restless fingers to fiddle with. She takes a moment, focus turned inward, before speaking. “I come from an old money family in Blairville who had begun to slowly accumulate a massive amount of debt. My journey began when my parents were killed in a freak vehicular accident.” Her tone is eerily monotone, lifeless in its cadence, as if reading from a dry textbook. “I revitalized the family business, turned my attention towards more cultured pursuits, such as my winery and my opera house, amongst other things. And now here I am,” she punctuates with a flourish, red lips curled with mirth once more as she regards her companion, “meeting with esteemed individuals such as yourself and enjoying the merits that my position in society has granted me.” Míra’s gaze flickers for a moment, taking in the various sights around the room before returning to Michael. “A breath of fresh air would not be amiss, however. I didn't pin you as a nature-loving man, but it seems I am mistaken. Do let me know if you find yourself in the vicinity of the wilds near Last Chance.” The murky grin she gives him holds untold secrets. “Perhaps I could grant momentary shelter, should you tire of the greenery around.”

 


@Grimmholt

Edited by vielle

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