News: 
Paragraphite

Misericordia Read 3122 times

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Misericordia
« on: November 02, 2016, 03:29:50 am »
Chapter I: Saeli

The sky was Isla Vaenta’s blue; the kind of blue that only flourished above the waves, in places where the horizon was subtle and shifting. The smell of salt smarted on the back of her throat and she exhaled loudly, broad smile and beaming. The wooden mast creaked as the opalescent sails caught the first breath of morning and strained the ropes like eager steeds. A loud voice whooped from somewhere aft, probably Patroclus. The Windvice cut the waves, swift toward open seas without a harbor to contain her. She turned to look for her father at the helm, gripping the large wheel in his calloused hands. Beside him was Alina, arguably the best helmsman in Cita and Sil, waiting patiently for her captain to have his fill of piloting. She waved at him from her spot up in the rigging, bare feet braced against the cool wood of the mast and leather straps low across her waist. “Adjust your cap, Sae! We’ve got to get that wild mane trimmed,” he bellowed at her from below. She laughed and tugged the old brown hat a bit lowed on her brow.

“Windvice is such a peculiar name. You’re the first of your family to enter the Academy, so it’s considered acceptable if you wish to take a new surname. Your father would benefit as well, of course. Do they do that in Isla Vaenta? Do they accept heraldry and name changes logged in the Academy? Oh, I’m sure they must.” The muffled voice prattled on behind the impassive gilded lips of a fine Volto. Saeli glanced at her companion with a bit of a start, drawn back from her daydream.

“Have you ever considered a Colombina… or maybe a Pantalone? Your voice is gets a bit lost sometimes, Solasette.” Saeli suggested. Solasette stopped speaking long enough to bring two velvet gloved fingers to the artistically crafted lips of their mask.

“Of course not.” Solasette said. Saeli nodded in agreement.

“Of course not.” She echoed. How silly of her to ask. Saeli tugged at a strand of her hair, which had fallen loose from its tie. It was getting long. “Windvice is fine. I like my name.” She said after some pause. “Isla Vaenta follows the same bureaucratic customs as the rest of the kingdoms, Marquis. You’re well aware of that too, I’m sure. I have no desire to change my name though.” Marquis Solasette slowed their step briefly.

“Ah, yes, you’re correct. I am aware.” Solasette agreed. “I suppose I should have been more precise. I wasn’t sure how things were followed on your home island.” The Marquis amended lightly with a light brush of their shoulder, where a fine golden chain had settled out of place. Saeli chewed at the insider of her cheek. She wondered if it were better or worse that Solasette said those things so practically. She wasn’t supposed to find it offensive, the Marquis’ tone said. She was supposed to find it quite reasonable. Saeli decided it was best not to remark on the topic further.

The two continued down the long hall in silence. It was late afternoon and the light through the great, spanning windows was all curious shades of indigo and blush. The unique tinting was a well-loved feature of the Academy and had largely influenced the architecture of the western tranquilarium, which featured an abundance of glass cut to refract the mauve hues. Saeli had to admit that it was lovely, but it had yet to move her like the oceanic sky. This time of day, there was often a lull in the winds and the Windvice would settle into the currents under the hot sun. Saeli wondered if her father would be yelling for a swim call and if Patroclus would be leaping into the sea with his distinctive cry.

“In Isla Vaenta it is tradition for families to take the name of their ship as their surname. In some ways, to have a surname at all is as good as being nobility. It means you own your livelihood. My great grandfather was the Windvice’s first captain. My family took her name then.” Saeli said with some pride, when they reached the end of the hall. It had been foolish, she realized quickly. Solasette was waving her off before she had finished speaking.

“That’s such a crude way of thinking though. It’s not as good as being nobility at all. You’re a nice girl, Saeli Windvice, but you will never be nobility. If you are lucky and you perform well here and serve the Academy for many years, perhaps your great grandchild may make such a claim.” Solasette corrected. Saeli grit her teeth. “That’s why you’re so very lucky I’ve taken a keen interest in taking you under my wing.” Saeli exhaled sharply. Beside them, a fine porcelain vase wobbled on a high table, humming at a peculiar low frequency. A large crack burst down its lip, fragmenting a delicately painted blue flower, and the vase went still. Solasette cocked their head to the left, glancing between the pottery and the girl. “Do you disagree?” Solasette asked. The air felt thick, heavy and charged with a residual dissipation of Magic. Saeli took a long breath.

“No, I’m appreciative of your help.” She said carefully. Solasette smiled behind their Volta and Saeli could tell by the small wrinkles that formed at their narrowed eyes. “This mask doesn’t suit you, Solasette.” Saeli said blandly. The Marquis touched the mask lightly again, thoughtful, but said nothing. It wasn’t Saeli’s place to dictate the Marquis’ fashion, of course, but the mask would surely not be seen around the halls of the Academy again. If anything, it would be a testament to Solasette’s wealth more so than Saeli’s influence. The Marquis opened the large white doors in front of them, thrusting them wide with an effortless motion. They gestured for Saeli to enter first and the young woman complied.

Beyond the quiet of the west tranquilarium was the immediate bustle of the Five Quarters; an expansive room with dark marble floors polished to such a shine that they mirrored the stars above the great glass dome at night. A wide staircase, carved from the dark marble, provided shallow steps down to the dock. The dock itself was the cause of much of the continued commotion, receiving ships laden with cargo, diplomatic visitors, and Academy Magi returning from abroad. The single artery into the labyrinthine Academy, the dock’s bounty spilled up the staircase and into the Five Quarters with its austere wooden desks and drifting sprite lights. By the staircase at the furthest end of the Five Quarters from where Saeli stood, a small band of Magus Guard stood with full dress armor and heavy cloaks bearing the Guard heraldry: a deep blue starburst cleaved in two by a sword outlined in silver thread on a field of white. The armor was elaborate and impractical, well paired with the overstated weapons clasped in their shielded hands, but this selection of Guards was for show more than any functional defense. The dock almost never caused trouble and the formal appointment was a fine reminder to keep it so.

Solasette clapped their hands together with some anticipation. “Well now, shall we find your new Falange? You’ve been here ten days, which means you’re practically overdue to register with the appropriate discipline.” They said. Saeli tugged on the loose fall of her hair and nodded. It was expressly for moments like these that she’d put up with Solasette’s nearly perpetual condescension.

“Yes, I suppose you’re right.” Saeli said, glancing around the bustling room and the five-deep concentric rings of imposing desks flanking the walls. She’d only been through this room once, when she’d come in from the dock. Her father had sailed Windvice through the Gate to drop her off here himself, bursting with pride. It made her heart ache a bit to think of it now, realizing how very out of place they must have looked as she’d kissed him goodbye and jumped down the gangway with a single bag of her personal belongings slung over her shoulder. It had been less than two weeks ago that she’d come up the stairs into the Five Quarters for the first time, but it felt like it had been ages too long since she’d seen her father’s weathered face. Sentimentality aside, she was quickly reminded of how utterly overwhelming the Five Quarters was and did not hesitate to take Solasette’s arm when they offered escort.

“The administration in the Five Quarters is organized by ring.” Solasette explained as the doors shut behind them. “The outermost ring, closest to the walls and abutting the stairs, handles imports of all kinds. Food, supplies, personal shipments, and the like. The second ring is for the Magus Guard and monitors all passage in and out of the Academy. The third ring is where we must go. The third ring handles all administration associated with the primary Falanges and will control your registration with Misericordia.” Solasette said as they breezed toward the center of the massive room. People from across Sabvon’s five kingdoms bustled around them, parting and flowing back together with the fine and unspoken synchrony of industrious crowds.

“The inner rings are reserved for the Falange conductors and councils in the fourth ring and the High Council in the fifth. Which is to say the fourth and fifth rings are almost exclusively secretarial.” Solasette said with some amusement. Saeli wasn’t sure what she was supposed to find funny about the comment, but smiled thinly at the Marquis anyway. Solasette tugged her along and through the weaving maze of desks, artfully skirting around clusters of people making their way to other stations. It was well that the innermost rings were less congested. Saeli had seen her share of lively ports, but nothing so overwhelmingly dense as the import tables of the Five Quarters.

In the third ring, they began to wind along the curving rows of desks a bit slower. The primary Falanges registered all practitioners of their Magic in Sabvon, in theory. Many of the visitors would come to register without any plans to return to the Academy again; avoiding fines for unsanctioned Magical usage was best avoided when possible. Magic was as natural as breathing in Sabvon. A little bit of Magic in everyone, the kinder Academy campaigns liked to claim. For the most part, registration wasn’t necessary for minor Magical aptitude. However, there was some prestige in being recorded in the annals of the Academy, and if pride didn’t pull people in fear of punishment would. You didn’t have to know your Magic was too potent to get in trouble for using it. Saeli watched throngs of people cluster near particular desks: Aetheria, Elemancy, Astrari. Falanges of Magics which manifested prevalently drew in all sorts. Sometimes there was real Magic involved, sometimes it was wishful thinking.

They continued on: Umbros, Alchemy, Mandati. The number of waiting individuals dwindled as they moved clockwise around the room toward the rarer Magical disciplines. A quiet desk to the left of Umbros was their destination. A dark wood arch above the desk was marked with delicate gilded letters: Misericordia. Saeli felt a small wave of unease as she came to stand before the robed Academician on the other side of the heavy table. Had the Guard who’d found her not been so forgiving, she’d easily have been standing here under different circumstances. He’d told her to find him, after she’d registered with a Falange in exchange for dodging reprimand. She wondered now how he’d been so sure she’d end up here for study; she’d not been doing anything overtly impressive when he’d caught her.

Saeli bowed slightly. “Hello, my name is—“ she began, only to be shoved lightly to the side by the Marquis. Solasette bobbed their head hastily.

“Fierro, good to see you!” Solasette hummed. Saeli glanced between the two. The Academician at the desk was strikingly lovely, with a cascade of flaxen hair and ornamented braids. Soft, shapely pink lips and large amber eyes lent to an exquisitely feminine appearance that Saeli found difficult to apply to a ‘Fierro.’

“Oh, Marquis Solasette, it’s been a while. Who have you brought with you today?” Fierro asked. Saeli felt a soft burn in her cheeks upon hearing the quiet deep voice. The beautiful Academician was most certainly a man. She bowed again, prepared to introduce herself once more. Again, Solasette stepped in before she could speak for herself.

“This is Saeli. Saeli Windvice. I find her name so peculiar, but she assures me it’s not abnormal in Isla Vaenta. Perhaps you’re familiar with such practices, yourself?” Solasette tittered. Fierro’s gaze slid languidly in Saeli’s direction, and then he smiled warmly.

“What a pleasant surprise. Another Isla native. There aren’t many that stay here at the Academy,” Fierro said and then laughed. “I’m sure you understand why, Lady Windvice. We’re people of the sea. Even the sky is the wrong color here.” A curious intonation had crawled into Fierro’s voice, and Saeli found herself smiling when she recognized the remnants of lilting Isla accenting.

“You must be from Hesperitte,” she blurted. Solasette stiffened visibly, but Fierro took no offense and nodded vigorously.

“I am. I don’t know of the Windvice personally, I apologize. My family owns Dawnstrike and Merling, of the Silverfin fleet. We have produced Academy Magi for several generations, though, and have taken the name Argen.” He explained. Saeli was clearly startled. She’d never met anyone connected to the fabled Silverfin Whisper Ships. She certainly hadn’t expected to meet one in the Academy. It should not have been so very unreasonable, though, given the clear station of Fierro’s family. Such prestige rarely came in any of the kingdoms without strong Magic and ties to the Academy.

Windvice is a merchant vessel out of Ita and Cil, so I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of her. I’m honored to meet you. My father would be so very impressed if he knew I’d met someone from the Whisper Ships.” She said eagerly. Solasette cleared their throat and smoothed their thick brocade skirts.

“How lovely you were able to meet him then, Saeli. To return to our purpose though, Dear Fierro, this young woman is here to register with Misericordia and request audience with the Grand Conductors. She was… invited here to study, if you can believe it, by the Grand Magus himself on recommendation from the head of the Magus Guard.” Solasette said with a flourishing gesture. The Marquis had made it readily apparent that they could hardly fathom how such an invite had landed with someone like Saeli Windvice, so it was with a mix of delight and annoyance that Solasette presented her now. “I’ve taken it upon myself to show her around since she arrived. It’s a different world, I’m sure you understand, from Ita and Cil.” Solasette added.

Fierro did not seem to notice the Marquis’ disdain, or chose to ignore it entirely. “Solasette, you don’t have to tell me twice. This place is quite a thing to get used to when you’ve grown up out on the ships.” He said, and it was the same sentiment made so much kinder that Saeli forgot it had been in poor taste at all. He rummaged through a receptacle of rolled parchment set on the desk. The papers glimmered in a dazzling spectrum of jewel shades as he shifted them. “As you say, she was invited directly. I have her Falange registration right here; we’ve simply been waiting for her to arrive to sign.” He fixed Saeli with a gentle stare. “Lady Windvice, I feel I should tell you as a fellow Isla-born sailor, if you sign these documents your life will surely change its course in directions you’ve yet to conceive. Our Falange is an uncommon discipline and known to produce powerful Magi. It is likely that you will come to call this place, the Academy, your home.” He unfurled the parchment, which glimmered a faint green, and passed it across the desk to her.

“I’ll be honest, Master Argen, I wasn’t made to believe this course was optional. Furthermore, I believe the entire crew of the Windvice would be saddened if I stepped away from here without so much as trying to prove my worth.” Saeli said. Fierro nodded and gestured toward Solasette.

“That’s the sort of earnestness Isla Vaenta breeds, regardless of our names.” He said with a broad grin. The Marquis made no reply, but Saeli was certain she’d have signed the documents ten times over simply to bask in Solasette’s clear annoyance.

Fierro produced a delicate silver barrel with a glass needle rising from the scrolling metal work. “Your right hand,” he instructed. Fierro glided a long finger down her palm until he’d found a choice thin vein. The fine needle prick was cold, but didn’t hurt, and the flash of her own blood up the glass cylinder was a bright spark. He transferred her blood to a small gold dish and handed her a quill. “If you would, please sign.” He said. She nodded, took the quill, and scrawled her name in crimson on the shimmering paper.

Solasette insisted upon accompanying Saeli and Fierro to dinner, though it was debatable as to whether Fierro’s invitation had been extended to the both of them. “You’re not in our Falange though, Marquis,” Fierro had teased lightly, much to Solasette’s chagrin. Nonetheless, the Marquis spent the better part of their walk back toward Saeli’s quarters remarking on the necessary formalities to be taken with such a fine dining invitation. It was of course nothing exceptionally special for Solasette, but an excellent opportunity for Saeli.

The brunette threw herself onto her bed with an exhausted sigh the moment she shut the door behind her. Her father had taught her to find things to like in everyone possible and to tolerate the rest. Sincerely, she valued the Marquis’ company despite all the nuisance. She might not appreciate their phrasing but Solasette wasn’t entirely incorrect. She had no idea what to expect of this place nor how to go about it. Still, the Marquis tried her patience daily and she was weary of staying mum. Fierro had been a breath of fresh air; the first real connection she’d made to anyone besides Marquis Solasette.

She’d have a few hours’ rest and then prepare for supper. Not more than half an hour later, there was a sharp rap on her door. Saeli groaned and stumbled from her bed, her dark hair tousled by her pillow. “Who is it?” she called, to no reply. She opened the door to find a package at her feet, bound in a dark green linen. Saeli didn’t need to read the finely scripted note tied to the top. The lingering scent of rosewater was enough to suggest Solasette’s hand. She bit her lip. It was a generous gift, though she was sure the Marquis had only been thinking of how poor Saeli’s own clothes must be. Clearly, it wasn’t even worth considering that she had anything acceptable. Still, Saeli took the parcel into her room and unwrapped it carefully on the bed, readily admitting to herself that Solasette’s gift was far beyond any finery of her own.

 
« Last Edit: November 02, 2016, 02:45:45 pm by VenomousEve »

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2016, 03:31:02 am »
Saeli attended the dinner in the fine silk sheath she had been sent. It was a stunning emerald green that caught the light when it peeked from beneath the soft wool cape that had been packaged with it. She had even gone so far as to loose her bobbed locks from their tie, considering that her usual grooming might be too crude for the elegant garments. Solasette was remarkably demure throughout the meal, wearing an onyx encrusted half mask and holding a fan close before their mouth between bites.

After they had taken dinner, during which Fierro kindly shared many stories of his childhood to ease Saeli’s homesickness, Master Argen tapped his dainty palms against his legs. “I do hate to catch you so unawares, Lady Windvice, but it has come to my attention that the High Conductors are prepared to speak with you this very evening. You must be quite the find, young lady, for our Conductors to move at such a pace. It’s quite marvelous, in fact.” Saeli set down her teacup with a sharp clink that stiffened Solasette’s shoulders in an instant. She didn’t have time to consider what sort of base behavior that was to the Marquis, as Fierro Argen was already standing and offering her his hand in escort.

“I’m sorry, what’s happening? I’m not prepared to meet anyone.” Saeli said, though she accepted the Academician’s hand. He waved off the notion with a delicate finger.

“Not to worry, Saeli, you’re more than dressed for the occasion and there’s not a thing you could do to prepare.” He assured her. Solasette was on their feet as well, fluttering their fan with some annoyance. Apparently, the Marquis had not been informed there would be such a meeting either. “This is a formality more than anything, Lady Windvice. Often, the Grand Conductors are able to better steer new practitioners toward appropriate tutors and mentors after such a gathering. It isn’t an exam. You were invited here, after all. The Academy doesn’t need exams, save to advance in formal hierarchy. Some novice practitioners wait weeks or months for the chance to speak with the Grand Conductors. You ought to be flattered rather than worried.” He patted her hand lightly and Saeli was embarrassed by how fine Fierro’s hand looked in contrast to her own small, rope-calloused palms.

She nodded numbly and allowed him to tow her along, out of the salon and down a hallway she’d never seen. Solasette’s gown had given her a sense of belonging in this place, though she’d been reticent to admit it. Now, she felt adrift again, flanked on either side by the tall, regal figures of both Fierro Argen and the Marquis Solasette. They walked for what seemed like ages, taking various turns and sets of stairs that left Saeli hopelessly lost. It was frustrating to be with so little to ground her. She thought of her father and his steady gaze and quick smile and the way his chest had puffed with pride when the Magus Guard had taken her back to the Windvice with a light reprimand and summons to the Gate. He’d hardly considered that they were scolded. His daughter was going to the Academy. Saeli had been so very sure of herself. Of course she’d come and make a name for her family. Of course she’d have the mettle. But, here she was, floundering in a silk gown and completely blind to what lay ahead. A formality, Fierro had said, but it was still a sudden and grand unknown.

They finally stopped at large wooden door, crossed with an ornate brass cage. At the center of the cage was set a large prism of red glass with a strange and whirling shadow at its core. The dark shades curled on themselves and rotated in slow, hazy patterns. Fierro pressed two fingers to his lips, and then placed them against the prism’s surface. The shadows surged, flowing and roiling against the glass at Fierro’s fingertips. The gate shook, and the brass weave retracted on small pearlescent hinges until it had folded into a compact ring around the suspended prism. The prism itself did not move, suspended by some Magic in set proximity to the large oak door. Fierro pushed the door open, and waved Solasette and Saeli through.

Solasette was quick to take the winding stairs upward, leading them toward the uppermost chamber of the tower. Saeli was glad for all her mast climbing by the time they neared the top, and marveled a bit at the Marquis’ unperturbed composure. She wondered how often Solasette must walk these steps around the Academy to find them so unobtrusive. She was lead into a rather plain stone-walled chambed, the smooth grey blocks cut in impractically large proportions. It was cool, and she felt a distinct breeze through the room, though there were no windows. Directly above them, at the very peak of the tower chamber, a large disk of glass was set into the roof, allowing moonlight to stream into the room. It was a soft light, and cast everything in silvered hues.

There were already several others in the room, sitting here and there on chairs and lounges carved directly into the grey stone walls and populated with downy cushions and soft furs for comfort. Despite the somewhat informal manner they seemed to have, Saeli saw that they had all oriented themselves on a single semi-circle of the round room. “Grand Conductors, I am pleased to bring you all the Lady Saeli Windvice this evening, a new practitioner of our honorable Falange.” Fierro said, stooping low in an elegant bow. Though his voice was soft, it stirred the room in their direction. Saeli hesitated, realizing all eyes had turned on her, and then bowed deeply at the waist.

“Windvice, was it? This is the girl they found on the Isla, isn’t it?” a voice said, and Saeli found she could not make out faces well from her place beneath the moon-spun spotlight. Fierro himself had apparently vanished, and Saeli glanced around with the vain hope she might locate him again. Solasette, for better or worse, had not left her side.

“Yes, this is she. I have been watching after the poor dear since she arrived,” the Marquis said before Saeli could open her mouth to speak. A soft ripple of laughter in the room. They were all acquainted with Solasette’s insatiable curiosity. There might have been some sympathy, too, for they also knew of the Marquis’ ever dubious intentions. “The name is peculiar, I know. I’ve spoken with her about it myself, but she insists she has no desire to change it. They—that is, the common folk of Isla Vaenta, take the names of their boats as surnames, you see. I presume it is because they have no notable lineage to immortalize in name, so you mustn’t hold such a strange name against her.”

Saeli whipped her face toward the Marquis, intent on speaking out. Whether or not Solasette intended it, they were humiliating her before she’d even been able to say her own name. She took a deep breath. Father had told her that polite in high society often meant holding one’s tongue even when someone else wouldn’t. She wondered if he would tell her to hold her tongue now, in the face of Solasette’s demeaning musings. The Marquis, for their part, appeared not to be done.

“I hope you all won’t find this a waste of your time, of course, the girl’s father seemed quite sure of his daughter’s talent but had not made any move to have her registered with the Academy before now. I cannot personally speak to her abilities, as I’ve not seen her demonstrate most anything, but she was personally invited by the Grand Magus. That means a good deal, naturally.” Solasette fluttered their fan and laughed lightly. “Even if her Magic isn’t worth your training, I’d be happy to train her in other Academy arts, of course. Success isn’t always Magical, even here, as you know!” Another laugh, which was joined by the lounging forms. Solasette, despite all other efforts at appearances, had never tried to flaunt Magical prowess. Even the Marquis wasn’t so vain as to pursue that accolade. It would be an abysmal effort on their part.

Saeli clenched her fist and a high whine pierced the air, though it seemed to Saeli it was only she that could hear it. She grit her teeth and the whine stopped, but a small crack formed in the stone beneath her feet, and Solasette’s.

“I hope you’ll give her the chance to demonstrate her talents, of course. Really, you should have seen how delighted her father and their crew looked when they left her at the dock. It was a bit unrefined, the way they were carrying on, but in an immensely endearing way. All the ruckus is how I first noticed dear Saeli, in fact.” The Marquis continued on. Saeli’s cheeks burned.

Stop it. She thought desperately. The Grand Conductors were laughing, and she was certain it must have been only to be polite, but it still stung harshly. Marquis Solasette was tittering too, and she could feel their gaze bearing down on her. She had noticed it early on. Solasette was always watching, waiting for the subtlest reactions. She was certain the Marquis was well aware of her discomfort. In fact, she was certain Solasette was prying at something quite purposefully. She wondered why none of the Conductors were telling them to stop. She wondered where kind Fierro with his quick smile had disappeared to.

Stop it. The Marquis shrugged.

“For her delightful Father, then, and his quaint boat. Do give her your consideration. I think she’d do wonderfully with a formal tutor. After all, if the Grand Magus sent for her there must be some Magic in her somewhere!” Another peel of laughter. Saeli dug her fingernails into her palms harder. The high-pitched whine came ringing back in her ears. From somewhere behind her, a new voice cut through the ringing.

“Perhaps you should stop the theatrics and let the girl speak for herself, Solasette.” There was no sympathy in that voice, but it sounded to Saeli like a sweet song. The Marquis had no intention of taking such advice though.
“Oh, you might be right. You see, I just worry for her ability to connect with you all. She wasn’t raised to know what to do in such an atmosphere as this.” Finally, Saeli lashed out.

“I’m not a child. I’m a grown woman and I can handle myself just fine. My father raised me with better manners than anyone must have raised you, you condescending, pompous—“ her voice was swallowed up by a rushing roar. This time, everyone heard it. The air grew thick and snapped with a frenzy of unfettered Magic. A gasp from one of the High Conductors lost itself to the howling. It seemed to come from everywhere at once. There was a snap of brilliant blue light and dust from the stone walls puffed into the air with a litter of fragments as cracks carved fractals outward from her feet beneath the Marquis. Marquis Solasette was wheezing, as if someone had pressed their hands around their throat.

“My Magic was never yours to see nor for your amusement. I am not a novelty. My father is the captain of the fine ship Windvice and my brother and I carry that name proudly. I don’t need your lineages. I don’t need your noble titles. I am Saeli Windvice and I will make a greater name for myself than you masked clown have.” She could hear her own voice cut through the roaring, reverberating around the room as if she were yelling at the top of her lungs, but Saeli was certain she’d not raised her voice at all. She was fuming, though, green eyes bright with a glow that combated the silver moonlight. The Marquis was slowly rising into the air as the stone continued to shudder and crack. Above them, the great glass skylight shattered, sending a rain of winking shards down on them. A sliver cut a gash down her cheek as it fell. Solasette dropped their fan.

But the Marquis was still laughing, strained and gasping. “You see, fine Conductors! This girl is quite worth your time, just as I thought. I’m rarely wrong with these things, you know. I’m quite glad to have seen such a thing myself!” Solasette hissed as they panted, beginning to claw at their throat for the invisible hands that crushed slowly inward. Their feet dangled and twitched as they struggled.

Saeli’s expression shifted suddenly, from anger to shame to wide-eyed horror. She had not considered that the Marquis had been pressing for this very thing, to help her command the attention of her Grand Conductors. She squeezed her eyes shut, breathing fast and willing Magic pouring off of her to stop; to contain it within herself. Solasette gurgled and gagged. Her eyes flew open. “I can’t stop it. I’m sorry!” she cried out, and a stone in the wall crumbled to let in a flood of night air.   

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2016, 06:33:20 pm »
The walls with the powdered breaths were coughing themselves dry through the wounds of Saeli’s unrest. Impressive, just as much as it was dangerous. Solasette had not listened to him, when he’d come in with his warning, up the stairs like a beckoned phantom in his assigned silver robes, garments of the Sire of this Falange, despite his lack of commitment to that title. How could he not have come, drawn from his leisure of admiring the grand and familiar architecture of these halls, when he’d felt a seam humming out of tune with the rest of the world at such a full frequency. He regretted his plan to stay absent from this introduction to the High Conductors now.

With the fresh scholar, Saeli Windvice as she’d repeated with pride, nurturing dissonance between her power and the integrity of the tower itself, and a more solid manifestation of craft sent to focus on Solasette directly, he recognized the natural state, the ore of his misericordia. To say she was potent would be same as saying The Eternal Storm could become a warm breeze. Kaever Oblynt stepped beyond the new girl, who was well pretty but with a poise that contradicted her fine dress, to extend his arms that they could gauge the throng she had uncaged on the High Conductors and Solasette. As he tried to entice Saeli’s power, which she could not govern herself, not this amount that she’d produced, he shot the Marquis a disapproving glance, despite their distress.

When shards fell from the walls large as the conductors they almost lanced on impact, his urgency extended his own tongues of magic to wrap around the unsettled havoc that was visiting here. New born force was a bit of a nuisance, and he didn’t have time to tame it if he wanted to save the room and its current inhabitants. Kaever inhaled the rambunctious bit of magic and started to disassemble it fast. The taste of it was quite elegant, though juvenile. He twisted around on his feet to stare, impressed at the mother. Saeli had ageless green eyes in her youthful face. He couldn’t hold that expression for long before he had to call out as pain marked the discharge of the finally snuffed magic. His right eye expelled the volatile residue and it carved a fresh gash through his eyelid and brow, all the way beyond his silver hairline. Long blades of silver flitted to his feet from his scalp.

“Kaever!” Omyximas called and finally stood from the rock he’d not been roused from even when they’d all been enjoying their private calamity. Kaever deflected the concern with the back of his hand and did not take his last good eye from the new girl. “Stay away.” Omyximas warned, coming closer. Already the cloven orb was healing in the socket of Kaever’s face, the vulgar cracks in the stone around them filling. “She’s not in control, in fact, we should report her.”

Kaever laughed. It felt soft on his throat. “Not on your life, Omyximas.” He said and stepped quickly to catch Marquis as the last of the magic was chased away, and they fell. It was easy to put them back on their feet. They had never expressed any real interest in being carried if not for decadent displays. He wasn’t sure about their expression behind the mask, but surely it would fit the ‘I told you so’ written in their eyes. Admittedly, in the ruckus of the room he was healing, Saeli had proven to be a very good find for a scholar. Omyximas and his long face, hollowed out by an age that was finally getting to him through his haphazard warding spells, intruded before the sailor girl could spill the apologies she had in her oceanic eyes.

“You make fun, Sire…”

“I’m not Sire of this Falange, I’m your fellow High Conductor.” Kaever stressed. He was not allowed to address the new talent before Omyximas clapped a shoe against the dust for audience.

“Yes, well, you’re not Sire because you haven’t applied. I will still pay you the respect you’ve earned.” Strange thing to boast when pushing his weight around. Kaever looked at Saeli with that sentiment, to see if she caught on. She was also amused, or nervously laughing, or both. “And she’s far too dangerous. Look at the tower! It’s as though a gryphon went through, clawing at the walls.”

Kaever was forced to humor his colleague and see the walls again. Dirty from debris, bust mostly intact, due to his efforts at rebuilding them from within. Upon discovering this, Omyximas soured farther. “Please, High Conductor,” Kaever started. “A gryphon, especially the ones we’ve bought from The Emperium, would have done a lot worse.” The rigid Conductor was shaking with frustration and Kaever finally looked at Saeli with his healthy blue eye, with red depths, just like his skin was white to silver, with youthful red shadows. His own spells were far better constructed than Omyxias’s.

He studied the Windvice woman up and down with his broken eye as it inhaled its spread, still attached shreds. She was clearly distressed about the damage. He smiled at her, which might be a concerning display, as the wound, a flame of bared flesh and cranium up past the border of his pale hair, was crawling in on itself. “Don’t worry.” He said and gave her the kind of expression he’d given to sooth his server at breakfast this morning, for spilling jam on his sleeve. “This was a successful introduction.”

“I didn’t mean to…” Saeli started. Her voice was powerful, even though she wasn’t speaking to demand, now. Someone at sea needed to be clear and concise. Solasette had not convinced her otherwise, yet.

“Oh, but you did.” He said with a grin, and only blood was left of his mar, no scar. A bit of his sclera still held a ruby tint. “Impress, that is.” he almost laughed when she looked both doubtful and relieved. What a honest face. He turned to look at one that was the stark opposite. “You don’t mind, do you, Marquis?”

“Mind what?” Solasette asked. They did mind. He was sure they had contingencies for this kind of even that would keep Windvice with them, but he’d seen enough to know the new girl was far more dangerous than he was letting on. Omyxias was not entirely wrong. “She is clearly unrefined, but that’s why she will need a mentor, and I have already…”

“Agreed.” He said and cupped Saeli’s shoulder quickly. She was as ruffled as the situation called. “I must start presently, if she’s to be any good, any time soon.” Though he did not tug her along, his insistence on the door he opened was enough to bring her out of the room. Well outside, cage back around the pretty lock stone, he chuckled to himself and held his hands behind his back.

Saeli was not as entertained as he was, but not so engaged she quaked these dark walls also, as he walked them down the stairs. “I have to go back and fix it for them.” She said and stopped where there was no landing in either direction, only the two of them, and stairs that might go on forever above and below. In this dim place, serious because the boards would have it no other way, truly between the sky and the land, she looked formidable. She’d held her own under the Marquis for some times, after all, she could not be of weak fibers. “Thank you for helping, but I have to make things right.” Admirable.

“You can go, sure, but what would you do? They’ll only scold you, and then they will have to wait for you to find me again, or for me to find you, since I am your Conductor now.” He had a few scholars that trusted in him for too much. He could not afford to be so distant with Saeli Windvice, who was so intimate with Misericordia she could shape it after her moods. Still, he’d rather not invest too much anxiety into events she might never conjure. Steering her this way and that should be enough to stave off great loss of life. She was moved to anger until her hands became fists by the hips of her new garments, Solasette’s taste, he was sure. Eventually, his meaning settled, though.

“My conductor?” she asked, relaxing into skepticism instead of palpable annoyance. He nodded because she was right. She was right because she had repeated something he’d said. Child of the sea come to their academy. Her shoulders must be so heavy. Every conventional step in their ranks must feel like such a victory now, and gaining the acceptance of a Conductor was good progress on any day.

“Yours alone.” He said where he stood, a handful of shelves below her. It was a lie that sounded pretty, so he gave it to her. His mouth was a in a soft line. His hand moved toward her, palm up. “My scholar.” She was about to take it, because she was polite or convinced, and he quickly pulled back, the impractical robe making the sound of a lonely, dying wing. “Please.” He said, almost a hiss, at their scene. “Magic is lovely, but so is the night. You’re at the academy, with no obligation than to become better at something you’re quite gifted in. Don’t be in such a rush.” Said the immortal. “Spread your ambition like paint over too much wood.” He started descending.

She would have none of it, it seemed, and was fast at his pace. Without giving it away with his gate, he raised his own frequency a sole-patter, and thought that it was very funny that she kept up. “I don’t want be slow. I want to develop and prove myself. If you’re going to be my Conductor you should expect good things from me.” She stopped so abruptly beside him he was moved to halt, as well, and look at her. “You must think I have potential, or you wouldn’t have made this effort.” She deduced and challenged him to argue.

“Misericorda is my expertise. It is a Falange I know. You’re volatile, you were being volatile, Saeli Windvice, and I couldn’t have that, and won’t have it in the future. Better I be in the way, next time you throw a tantrum.” A bit cruel, maybe, she had enough within her to be a great magi in little time, but he’d rather she not know, because then he would have to be far too involved before he knew her spirit or personality. Talent can corrupt the best of souls. “But if I am to be your Conductor, I want to leave you with a bit of bit of advice for your first day.” She was angry and saddened, and she wore it well, but the offer pulled her toward him.

“No more apologies. You can’t hurt me. You will never be so strong that you’ll cause me lasting…” he said, turning away from her. Before he could conclude his taunt she touched his shoulder blades purposefully, and sent him far outside of his step. Kaever grasped when a few stone shelves passed his feet without offering support. He was tumbling soon, appalled and delighted by her audacity. After an eternity of punishment his body slid to a stop, broken in two places and scratched up, waiting for bruises. She was hunting him, frantic with apologies. When he saw her through the orchestra of signals that told him he was dying, he laughed with his rattling throat.

“I didn’t mean…”

“Yes you did!” he accused, still fighting laughter and enduring agony. His forearm sung an aria that begun in his wrist and crashed through his elbow when he used it against the wall that had stopped him. The other arm drew a crescent in the air when she tried to help him up. “Don’t touch me, Scholar.” He bit, throwing his head back and laughing again, broken leg faltering almost to the knee, but his gait was saved by the other, good leg in time. She was pulled between horror and anger again. “Maybe I’ll teach you something tomorrow.” Already his craft was straightening the fractures and hushing the rabid, gossiping nerves, alerting him to things he already knew.

As it seemed, they were not far from the first floor. He wasn’t even limping when they came out to a more public hall. His robe was speckled with proof of her vengeance, though. “Come. Walk with me. I don’t think I trust you close to anyone else, now.” He said and cackled in amusement. A few scholars passing assured her it was odd.

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #3 on: November 03, 2016, 03:21:23 am »
Saeli bit down hard on her lip. She wasn’t sure what had come over her, to push him like that. Maybe it had been the way his face had evaporated any sign of injury and it had made her bold. Maybe she was still just reeling from the ever-spiraling whirlwind that was this evening. She thought of Solasette, who they had left behind in the tower, and the strangled sounds they’d made. She touched her own cheek, where her blood had dried into an angry dark line. Kaever Oblynt glanced at her, sidelong, but said nothing though the curl of his lips suggested his continued amusement. She caught the look, and took a deep breath to calm herself. She tasted iron, and realized she’d made her lip bleed.

“Do things always happen so fast here?” she asked, a measure of timidity in her voice. Saeli felt there should be some awkwardness, given her behavior, but he seemed unbothered. He laughed at her again, and then shrugged.

“Does it matter?” he said. She scowled, but gave up on that course of discussion. She’d been handed off so rapidly, from Solasette to this man. Despite the rather humiliating circumstances, she couldn’t deny that there’d been some relief in the outcome. The Marquis had been a potent breed of stifling. Saeli trailed along with him, keeping pace but positioning herself a step behind his right shoulder. Somehow, she didn’t want to walk evenly with him. She was feeling less apologetic for her behavior with the way he’d brushed her off and laughed at her, but she had the sensibility to retain a bit of guilt. He was overly content with silence, she decided after they had walked for some time. It frustrated her, more so than it usually would.

She’d not had such an outburst since she was quite small; Alina had gone about teaching her to meditate for control quite aggressively after Saeli had shredded the Windvice’s sails and shattered several planks in the main deck. It had happened after she’d been given news of her mother’s passing, and for that she’d been quickly forgiven by the crew. Still, it had been impressed upon her that she was deeply fortunate to have not hurt anyone. Her mood had been volatile for days after the incident. It had been presumed it was the consequence of grief.

Kaever bit back a wolfish grin. “You’re upset still.” He said. Saeli did not look him in the eye when she nodded. “Your Magic is imbalanced now, because of that tantrum. The flow of aether and coil of Misericordia is measured,” he said.

“It wasn’t a tantrum. The Marquis was…” Saeli trailed off. It had been a tantrum. Justified, perhaps, but it wasn’t worth denying and he’d already named it so twice. Saeli sighed, long and strained. “If my Magic is imbalanced because of what happened, shouldn’t yours be also? You took it. I saw you. I felt you take it into yourself.” She said. Earnest girl, even when she was annoyed, and keen regardless of Solasette’s opinions. Kaever’s expression was unreadable and he offered her no explanation. He might be no better than the Marquis after all, she thought. Perhaps it was simply a feature of the Academy to be self-interested above all else. She pulled at the trailing skirts of her silk, frustrated when the dress snagged beneath her toes again. They settled back into silence.

Conductor Oblynt had led her into a large receiving room of some sort, connecting to the tower by a string of thin, sparsely populated hallways. She had noticed that the Scholars they had passed all bobbed their heads in short bows of respect as they’d passed, even with the curious glances over Kaever’s palpable amusement. Furthermore, the majority of them bore silver emblems, hung from chains or pinned to their cloaks and robes, bearing an eye in the palm of a blazing hand: the sigil of Misericordia. The same sigil marked Kaever’s mercurial robes, woven into a pattern on the fabric in a subtle, shimmering white thread. From a heavy black cord across his shoulders, a large and elegantly smithed version of the emblem rumbled the thick fabric against his chest.

The Misericordia atrium was fashioned of the same smooth grey stone in the tower room, though the space was less austere and well outfitted with exquisitely crafted furniture of dark wood and plush black wool cushions. Tapestries hung about the space depicted the heraldry of prominent Magi of the discipline and various glyphs staple to Misericordia spellweaving. Several roaring fires burned in wide hearths, bathing the room in a bluish light. The flames themselves gave no heat nor consumed any visible tinder. The atrium was considerably more active than the halls which had led them there, and a good number of Scholars and Academicians paused their studying and conversation to watch their wayward Sire Kaever and his unknown companion pass through. For his part, Kaever paid as little attention to their stares as he had to Saeli’s protests; which was to say he observed them all without granting anyone the satisfaction of noticing.

They moved through the atrium without deviating from Kaever’s intended course, which Saeli wanted to ask him of. He had a clear goal in mind, and she was reasonably curious to know it. But he had not wished to regard anything she’d said thus far with more than flippancy, so she thought to oblige the silence. It might have been stubbornness on her part, but it did also give her a much needed moment to attempt to reorder her thoughts. She went again to her atrocious behavior, pushing this man with obvious sway over her fate under the flimsiest of impulses. He’d recovered so quickly that she struggled to feel genuine remorse over the behavior, though she was certain there was no way to validate what she’d done. It was the same with her outburst in the tower. Conductor Oblynt had rectified the situation so neatly and abruptly she’d hardly had time to internalize the fear of losing control so easily. She wondered if she ought to worry over how skillfully Solasette had drawn the reaction out of her. It was easiest to presume they’d simply stepped across a line without knowledge or care. Her better judgment led her to believe they’d all played her for some form of simpleton and orchestrated the whole ordeal.
 
“This will be your new quarters.” Kaever said abruptly, stopping before a set of arched red doors with a brass gate similar to the one that had locked the tower steps. She realized then that he had been regarding her as they walked and felt she had been tricked again.

“Was this all some sort of plan? It was cruel, if it was—what do you mean these will be my new quarters?” she stared at him with purposeful intensity. Surely he could offer this much explanation.

“As I said, I don’t think I can trust you near anyone else. Besides, for your safe retention at the Academy, it would be best to take action on the side of caution. My fellow High Conductors will inquire into you soon enough, and how you’ve been dealt with.” He said. Saeli frowned.

“Dealt with?” she echoed. Kaever did not seem overly fond of her mounting questions. He pressed his fingers to his lips and placed them against the white prism at the center of the brass cage. The gate retracted and the carmine doors groaned on their hinges as he pressed them open.

“I told you, I am your conductor now. I did take responsibility for you, did I not? By any standard you ought to be reprimanded for your loss of control for such trivial circumstances and kept under tight rein to prevent any further damage. Your display has clarified you as a risk. You are immature, if you wish to see in other terms.” Harsh, again, but it was the first thing that had been said since she’d entered the tower that made any real sense to her. He had swept her out of the room with what had seemed like such an apparent disregard for the other Conductors that she’d not realized he had any practicality in mind. Saeli nodded slowly, to which he gave her a curiously interested expression.

“Oh.” She said. “I’m sorry. Thank you. I understand. I’m not a risk, though. That’s almost never happened before. But, I understand.” There was a firm set to her lips. “I’ll prove myself to you then, if you’ll teach me.” Kaever waved her inside, unimpressed by her determination or unwilling to show as much.

“The issue, Saeli Windvice, is that you say almost.” He mused. She stepped inside the chambers, which might well have been a fine house all their own in Ita and Cil. It appeared to have sacrificed a formal receiving area for a towering library, with books spanning the walls higher than she could see without severely craning her neck. Spiraling stairs and wrapping balconies gave access to the full length of the walls, but only a single passage led out from the space. Kaever directed her down the hall, watching her green eyes widen as they went. There was a solarium thick with exotic plants and separate dining and tea rooms. “It isn’t worth getting too breathless over. These are my personal living chambers. You will be occupying my salon. I will request more appropriate furnishings for a living space in the morning.” He said finally, opening the room past the solarium.

Saeli had not expected to see such lavish accommodations, but she had also not expected to be brought into his personal chambers. “What? I can’t stay in your rooms,” she started. He pushed her back lightly, pressing her forward into the salon.

“It isn’t my first choice either. You will survive it.” She opened her mouth to protest further, but the look he gave her quelled the argument in her throat. This news would surely make her father faint and send her brother into a fit; an unwed young woman locked away in a strange man’s personal chambers. It made for an unsavory story under most circumstances. The expression Conductor Oblynt wore said there was nothing to fear. She was, quite absolutely, of no such interest.

Kaever laughed suddenly. “You are a curious woman. Curious, but perhaps not so in the ways our Marquis insists. The lounges ought to be fairly comfortable.” He turned to leave her on the other side of the doorway and then paused. “If our collision this evening was all designed, I assure you I had no part and Solasette was not anticipating to have their throat wrung. However, it’s a lesson enough to see that the Marquis weaves their plans thicker than spider’s web.” He closed the door behind him and left Saeli alone.

She touched the door after he’d left, looking for a lock and finding none. Saeli took a soft breath and drew her right hand like a blade down her forehead as she faced the door. “Expanse. Solitude. Safety. Ward.” She said. A rudimentary spell, woven from meditation rather than words of power. Saeli had not been trained for a more refined practice. Her hair fluttered and she heard a fine chiming ring in her ears. She felt a thread between herself and the door, a tie to tug her awake should someone move the barrier. It would not keep anyone out, but it would wake her from sleep. She crossed to one of the lounges and removed her cape, wrapping it into a bundle to place under her head. In truth, she’d slept more nights beneath the stars with a canvas roll beneath her head than she had in a real bed. It did not take her long to realize she was exhausted and drift into sleep.

Outside the room, Kaever had processed to his own sleeping chambers at the end of the hall. He had not met anyone worth interest in more years than he cared to count. He could still taste Saeli’s Magic on his tongue and feel it sing through his veins. It was sharp and invigorating. As he stood at his wardrobe, shrugging out of the heavy sigil and robes, he heard a soft ringing and felt her Magic chase quick through his veins. A silly spell she was casting, but it made him grin. He had not cared to take another pupil since Andromeda had disappeared into the expansive ruins of Na’arat.

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #4 on: November 03, 2016, 09:10:18 pm »
He thought it was a bit strange, the heavy veil over his dreams, this night. Usually none of the things he’d invited to become part of him; doubt, memories, curiosity, would have any interest to deceive him. He took particular care to enjoy an adventure when it was offered, and rarely tried to pull the reins on even the most horrid mare. When he woke up, weighed by the astral events that wanted to be forgotten, he let go of the dreams with a reluctance that was new to him. Must be her magic, he thought as he stood, naked as he slept, to pick today’s clothes.

What he’d taken in to himself yesterday had not been a spell cast to fester, but the pure, almost innocent anger had thrashed what it could as he compressed it. Perhaps it had needed more mending than he’d applied to himself. He whispered a few contingencies as he chose his clothes with cerebral hands. Standing in front of the glass of one closet door, he had to frown. How telling. The shirt that went down far was fitted to his body as only his seamstress knew how, another shade of silver. Pale trousers, too. But a dark vest with fantastical inlays. Disharmony, if symmetric to the eye. He brushed fingers over the mother of pearl stitching over his heart. A fine garment to be mad about.

He ventured out with some lightness in his legs, and turned to leave. She’d know to take care of herself having seen the exit, anyway. But he spun soon, hem of his shirt fanning before he strode toward her door. His tongue visited the ridges on the vault of his mouth as he remembered her honest outburst yesterday. A smirk as he poised his knuckles to sing against the surface that kept her room closed. Instead of fulfilling the courtesy, he spread his digits and held them there, where her little thread guarded the door from the other side. A shadow spell, imitating the integrity of hers, easily went through the thin metal and porous wood to braid into her string of safety, all the way to where it connected to her.

She was awake, also, with the same plans as he. His fingerprints pressed harder with interest. He didn’t need a detailed look in her mind if he only caught the sparks of conundrum that came off her. “That’s right, Windvice.” He said to himself. “There are not clothes here for you yet.” He let her turn a few times, and consider options that were reasonable but fallible at first, until they became fantastical and impossible. A quick retrieval of his own thread, and then he pushed the door open with a wide gesture of his entire arm. He had seen it in an Enkandi dance, once. “The Eternal Storm comes! Loosen the sails and throw Songtail for the merfolk!” he bellowed, laughing with his shoulders at her startle. He thought he’d contained himself until she frowned and her green eyes darkened. Hand on the vest as he tried to stop the bubbling glee.

“Ah, I see you’re up.” He noted at last, wiping a tear as he came over to her. She looked a bit as though she might want to fight him. If he did not use magic or the foul tricks he’d accumulated, he would have wagered on her in that skirmish. “But this is precisely what you need to work on.”

“I don’t think it’s appropriate that you come in without knocking.” She said. Her power was humming now, but it had been alive like a suit of snakes around her when he’d come in. “This living situation is questionable as it is, I should at least be given my privacy.”

“You should, and I won’t come in like that again.” He promised, but didn’t bother to feign shame. She didn’t know how thorough his intrusion had been. “But I saw a bit of what almost laid the tower to waist, yesterday.” He was quite serious, said the hard of his jaw. This was grave, he couldn’t say that it wasn’t. She had a temperament, and too much power at her whim. Guilt took away the plump of her lower lip, and drew some color from her cheeks. What a beautiful shift. He enjoyed it more than he should. It was a bit like pouring too much water on a hissing blade as it was being forged. “People will overstep in your life. Would you like others with the Marquis’s tongue to have such unhindered access to your power?” She was mortified and horrified all at once. He would save that expression. At least she was starting to understand the gravity of her gift.

“I would not.” she said with determination, the same as yesterday. He gave her a commending nod and rested his hand on her back again. “I am going to take control, you’ll see.” She proceeded to think aloud to him while allowing him to steer her out.

“It is far too early for me to coddle you.” So won’t indulge in your boasting of your morale. “Perhaps if you buy me some berry wine tonight.” He said to chase away a bit of her sullen with those charismatic folds between her eyes. She became no less agreeable during their walk through his home. “Please help yourself to any of the books here.” As they passed his proudest wealth. The eye she had destroyed yesterday blinked at her serene with far blue ground beneath red reflections. She would not be able to open the door to his private favorites, anyway. The secret boasted its impregnability as a single, iron detailed wooden barrier in the middle of a wall that was otherwise stacked with colorful backs of lore and legend, a clue as to what might be found if you knew how to convince the lock open. “And tell me about it when you do. The more you learn on your own, the less time I have to take from wandering aimlessly through the halls and imposing my own importance.” Unamused as ever, Windvice.

Something did change with her, however, when Fierro had to spin out of their way, far more dramatic than how Kaever had opened her door. As Fierro’s robes settled, the conductor bowed, swiftly moving his hand from the low of her spine, but not before the Academician noticed with flashes to the amber eyes. How suspicious that Fierro, who had opening doors as a primary function, would be so surprised. A plot, then. Hopefully it would be small. He already had Solasette to deal with.

“High Conductor! And Saeli!” Fierro noted with excessive enthusiasm, petal lips executing the delight well. Perhaps he was just a bit enamored by the new prodigy. Kaever should hope so. Admittedly, he saw some signs that Fierro was not unstirred by Saeli in yesterday’s dress. Just a shallow interest, then? “Oh, I heard about what happened, Saeli. Please forgive me. I am usually expected to leave once I’ve brought the scholars. Are you alright? They told me you were excused, and that you went with Kaever here, but I still want to hear it from you.” What exaggerated phrasing.

“I am fine.” She said, also nervous about her clothes and their implication. It had been small of Kaever, but the fruits of his plan were sweet for breakfast. “I now am under this High Conductor’s hospitality. I didn’t have time to get my belongings yesterday.” She explained, and by no measure was she satisfied by the sound of it. She’d done poorly in waving any suspicions Fierro might harbor. Kaever took a step back and waited for the rest to play out.

“I understand. What favoritism.” Fierro said, as though it was a compliment, and turned to the would-be Sire with a teasing tilt of his head before looking her up and down again. “I am sure you have things to do, and I am satisfied with knowing you’re well.” Kaever stepped toward them again to suggest Fierro was right. These two seemed on familiar terms already, better not fan this fire. He’d spare Saeli from dancing with Fierro, if he could. “But you can send for me, or maybe see me when I’m waiting, so we can trade some sea-salt secrets. I’d be more than happy to listen to some tricks of your trade.” He continued and held out his hand for hers. It was clear Saeli did not know what to do, but reached to shake it. Fierro swiftly rolled his fingers out of her grasp to pinch her wrist between his thumb and forefinger instead. “I have performer blood. Hesperitte, as you guessed. Can  you tell?” he said with a small pink arch on his face as he lifted her pulse and met it with a kiss before letting her go.

“Amusing. I will love to hear you play a flute someday.” Kaever injected. He knew which voice would shatter this kind of atmosphere and used it heartily now. Saeli looked to him, having gotten her hand back. “But my scholar needs her food so she can become a strong magi, don’t you?” he implored, with words and eyes. Fierro was not amused. It was always a welcome decadence to see someone dressed in gold, turquoise and sand fail to get their way.

“I guess.” she said, apparently not entirely happy to be herded away from this conversation. Kaever did not care to guess on whether it was because she preferred Fierro’s company or if she took offense to being told what to do so pointedly.

“We’ll drink to your glory, Argen.” Kaever offered and almost brushed her shoulder with his to suggest to her body that it turn with him. She did. Emotionally intelligent, or he was simply a very loud gesturer.

She was pleasant as he lead her through the halls, in that she was quiet but offering entertainment in her silent fuming. The atrium was beautiful in the morning, choking on the light which was encouraged by the sky glass. Along some tables set by the walls, some scholars took their first meals. He enjoyed their expressions as they paid him respect in their creative ways, waves, bows, smiles, nods, because today they were also wondering about his companion, whom they’d not seen before. Some faces betrayed recognition, though vauge, and had probably heard gossip from yesterday. Should he be insulted that they were so flabbergasted by him taking an interest in one of them? He was a Conductor, after all.

"Come. I think there's good game by the water. It'll make you feel at home."

-

Enslen had been working all night with this one. Usually the Skully Worms would stay at depths were other deep sea behemoths could keep them in line, but with this region of merfolk polluting to make armor, the algae that was the adult Skully's main source of food had bloomed close to the surface. With an effort from The Magus Guard and the United Merfolk Brigade, they had been able to chase most of the worms down again, and released enough koi to decimate the algae, but not before a handful of domineering males had found their way up and gotten a taste for other surface lifeforms.

Mostly, he'd jumped on the mission to work with Xijja, an emissary because of her shared heritage between the yet to be accepted mantafolk and merfolk. He'd seen her propel herself with bolts from underneath the little skirts on her finless tail, and gotten her a position as artillery, which was basically any race with inherent ballistics but without guard training. Three times they'd worked together now, and he was almost certain she'd smiled at him recently. Hard to tell when her mouth was obscured in a cloud of blood from the fugitive they'd been chasing.

The Skully they were tasked with had been the largest, of course, and he'd been bartering for more crew with Xijja beside his boat when it had decided to be proactive. Thicker than any man and long as a handful of them, it had hugged her and dragged her down. The rest of the night he'd either been diving or waiting for her to chase it into breaching with her shockwaves so he could try to get at it with his blades. Cardio, and everything else that made a Magus Guard was running out. He was only still on this because Xijja was vengeful, and the Skully seemed to tire, too.

She had gone out to recharge into colder depths, and he was keeping its attention with the reflection from his twin weapons. He would swear by the half blade, half handle swords any other day, but wondered if he wouldn't rather have a Behma harpoon gun now. The Worm rushed toward the mocking light and he twisted out of its path just in time to hitch a ride into the air. With both blades in, finally, it seemed possible to ride it. Enslen, holding on, had noticed a tendency of pettiness in this Skully, and knew he couldn't take this opportunity to rest, so he used the handles for leverage, and proceeded to dunk his head into the hard scales close to its mouth. He was sure the swords were doing most of the damage, but somehow the headbutting was more satisfying.

Through the foam he was sensing warmer water, and on one of the breaches he smelt grilled fish and harp music. The marina. He cussed and it turned into fine bubbles. He was about to relent his hold on the skully, take back his weapons from its flesh and maybe swim for a bridge, but just as his lungs were about to make that decision for him, he could hear the now familiar surges and beats of Xijja's pulses. She was coming from underneath, and the water was sparkling with her new vigor. The Skully gargled and fled toward the surface again, as it always did from manta electricity.

Enslen gasped when the chill of the air welcomed him back. Only on the way down did he realize Xijja's plan. The worm crashed into tables and plates set in a by-the-water eater, and he was quick to throw his feet over one side and try to drag it up on land. There was already quite some ruckus around him. They should recognize the torn leather armor of a working Magus Guard and silver hair over the black brows, but if they did, they didn't think to lend a hand. He was lanky for someone who relied on strength, but he always kept green determination in his eyes, even if the color was watered down. Looking around, all but pulling his own arms out of their sockets to try and keep the thrashing Skully from sliding back into the water, he saw the sire of Misericordia himself, with a wide eyed breakfast guest. It was her, it was Windvice. Was he her conductor? Enslen huffed to greet and mock Kaever before he dug his heels in to try and make some way.

It was impossible in his current state, of course, and he was more surprised than any of the bystanders when he was able to drag it a few feet, suddenly. The blue lights frying the water suggested Xijja was doing her part. He grinned and kicked at the restaurant floor. There was about to be fresh and local on the menu, no thanks to the magics of Conductor Oblynt, who still hadn't stood up, even though Windvice, who lived on the sea herself, seemed about to toss herself into action.

He could reap some adrenaline of thoughts of long lost triumph, which let him pull just a little harder. He learned his usual sin and it's cost, when his swords finally cut through the scales and lips of the blue monster before it slipped back, screeching as it breathed through its circularly set teeth. He follwed with strength he didn't have, and collapsed on the floor in Skully blood, by the edge, just as the worm splashed back into its element. Through the shallow depth he saw it wrap its teeth around Xijja's tail and thrash her.

He cussed, horrified and stood, about to topple into the frothing water when suddenly he was suspended. Wide greens twisted back, and the boy in him mixed the salt of his tears onto his soaked face, looking at Kaever Oblynt who had extended his arm to lift Enslen with that damned magic and keep him away from helping his partner.

"Let me go!" Enseln demanded with fright in his throat. "It'll eat her!"

"You're no good anymore, Stormer." Kaever said and stood up, other arm lifting too, and now it was his guest that was elevated into the air. Windvice looked very unsure. "And you're prolonging the wait for my crepes." he added. Enslen tasted blood, and it was anger, not fear anymore.

"You pompous..." but the snarl could not become an insult before Kaever slung the woman into the water.

"She's good at this. And water takes trauma better than rock."

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #5 on: November 04, 2016, 05:49:17 am »
Saeli finally let out a yelp as she went soaring. “You’re insane!” she gasped, and in her startle the thought hit Kaever in a flash of telepathy before he heard it. She flailed in the air for a moment, shocked and possibly frightened, before pulling her limbs into a remarkably purposeful swan dive as she angled toward the sea. Kaever grinned. There was a shrill whine, like the ringing in the aftermath of an explosion, that shivered and shifted into a bell-like chime. Then, a violently blue flash of light from the center of her chest warped around her like a glittering phantom armor. It was a pretty sight, raw and unrefined Magic brought out sparking and singing like that. Misericordia was an invisible Magic when tempered, but that did not change the blazing potential of her color. If she had sounded perturbed by his rash action, the set of her lips and the glint in her eyes as she arced down toward the sea said it had been transient. This was a world she knew infinitely better than the Academy’s towers, after all.

“Probably. She’s probably good at this.” He amended, still holding Enslen aloft. Enslen grit his teeth.

“Gods hope you’re right.” He snapped, well aware that he would not be moving until Conductor Oblynt had mind to let him. Kaever laughed.

Saeli hit the water a half breath after her Magic did, extending out of her in a reflexive shield as she plunged into the depths. The blue shimmer drew in, coating her skin like a membrane, as her jade gown grew dark and waterlogged. At least the silk was light. It was quite the assumption that she’d have any idea how to handle herself beyond not drowning. A girl from the Isla did not necessarily a sailor make, nor did a sailor necessarily make a monster slayer. Lucky for Kaever and luckier for Saeli, his presumptions had not been wholly off.

The light grew dim even in the short meters below the surface and she was relieved when she saw the Merfolk’s ocher scales flash into view just before any hope of visibility was lost. She’d freed herself from the worm, somehow, but was bleeding profusely in greenish hues. Saeli could hold her breath well enough, but she’d plunged rapidly to a depth that would require her to head toward the surface in short time. Her ears popped and made her eyes water as she propelled herself toward Xijja.

Xijja had seen Saeli the moment the woman had plunged beneath the surface. Their eyes met now, Saeli’s burning and verdant as she stared into Xijja’s pure black hollows. “Xijja, I can help. I understand your tongue, you can speak.” Saeli projected, drawing the name from the surface of Xijja’s mind as she directed her own thoughts toward its depths. Xijja’s inky lips parted in surprise, revealing small needle teeth. The Skully worm did not take such pause, whipping back with its gaping maw to pulse toward her. Xijja darted away, wincing, but escaping snare. Strange Sapien girl, but she didn’t have time to question any possibility of reinforcement. She let out a series of lilting whistles and pitched herself out of harm’s way again as the worm came coiling back.

Saeli nodded, indicating she’d understood, and extended her arms in front of her as she hung in the water. A flick of her wrists and a large crescent pulse of telekinetic energy surged toward the worm. The water cresting the arc of Magic impacted the massive creature with a dull thud, and it knocked back it a flurry of bubbles and blood. If it was stunned, it would be momentary at best. “Okay. Surface now.” Saeli thought, and Xijja was quick to coordinate. She grabbed Saeli under the arms and rocketed them both upward. Xiija let out another sequence of whistles. I’m badly injured. Best to escape.

They broke the surface and Saeli gasped for air. “You’re right. You need to get out.” She agreed.

“Wait, that’s not—“ Xijja began, but Saeli had already lifted her in a shimmer of hazy blue energy and sent her flying toward Kaever and Enslen. For his part, Kaever’s expression had gone from interested to slightly bored to vaguely concerned in the brief minute his new Scholar had been below the waves. Now he watched her burst back into view, buoyed by the Merwoman, and send the very same sailing toward him. He supposed it must be considered fair.

“Conductor, catch!” Saeli shouted. He tipped his head and grinned.

“Very well.” He accepted, extending a palm to lightly draw the fingers of Misericordia around the injured Xijja and soften her descent. He considered releasing Enslen at the same time. “What will you do if I let you go?” he asked the other man. “Will you tend to your partner or interfere with my student?” he continued. Enslen let out a hiss from between his gritted teeth.

“Your student is in danger!” he said. Kaever frowned.

“You’re staying where you are then.” Kaever said. Enslen cussed.

Saeli had not waited to see whether or not Kaever had bothered listening to her. Surely he would. She took a deep breath to dive back after the worm, but it was quickly unnecessary. The worm had surged back to the surface, bloody mouth spraying pink foam as it breached. It slammed down toward her and she jettisoned out of the way and out of the sea in a flurry of swirling blue bolts. Her Magic flowed through her like a perfect extension of herself, uncultivated and crude the way Solasette said all of her was. It didn’t matter. She could rely on her own mind and will to fight greater things than this. Had the Marquis been there to see the sopping girl in that moment, suspended in the air with her dark hair fanning around her pale face, even they would have had to admit she was some kind of stunning.

It was short lived, because the action had not taken her completely out of the worm’s path and it closed its dagger teeth around her leg as it rushed back down toward the sea. She rag-dolled out of the air in an instant. “Control!” she shrieked as she plummeted under the worm’s weight. “Control!” Saeli crashed beneath the stirred seas.

“She needs help, let me down!” Enslen shouted, struggling against Kaever’s Magic without success. For as hard as he strained, he could not move an inch. If he hadn’t been caught unsuspecting he would have been more difficult to subdue. Magus Guards were trained specifically to be so. Still, the end result would have likely been the same. Kaever was the Sire of Misericordia in everything but name and more than a single Guard would have been required to combat him in any real way. Despite knowing all of that, Enslen battered what remaining strength he had against the vicelike hold of Kaever’s mind.

Kaever was not paying much mind to the struggling Guard, eyes fixed on the place where the worm and Saeli had plowed into the sea. “Be quiet, would you? Can’t you hear and feel it?” He said. Xijja was watching the same spot, dark eyes somber. Enslen stopped his futile effort long enough to register Kaever’s words. There was a low sound in the back of his head, deep and humming, and a heavy hush had fallen suddenly in the air. An audible rumble vibrated the already-roiling sea surface and the floor of the restaurant veranda shuddered.
     
What patrons had not cleared the establishment in a hurry now crowded near the windows and the passages onto the veranda and murmured anxiously amongst themselves. Most all of them were Scholars and Academicians, sensitive enough to Magic to feel its weight in the aid. The few traders that had selected this particular spot to breakfast might not have felt the same, but no one was immune to the quaking waters or the deep roar rushing into the back of their minds. Kaever looked uncertain for the first time in the entire affair. Admittedly, it was quite possible he’d need to intervene again. Saeli might slay the worm, but there was nothing to guarantee she’d have full hold of her own force.

A collective gasp forced Kaever to consider only the events as the unfolded as loud crack clapped through the air as the sea domed upward and then burst apart across a sparking blue orb. At its core Saeli and the worm were suspended, both dripping in a mixed slick of blood. The worm was limp, hanging at its full length so that it drooped below the sphere. At the point where its flesh crossed the azure bulb, it was ripping and shredding under the force of some mental barrage composing the Magic shell. The rank smell of the behemoth’s spilling entrails hit the onlookers closest to the veranda edge in a nauseating wave. Facing the subdued and disassembling beast with palms pressed before her chest, Saeli’s tattered silk and dark tresses whipped around her like she was at the heart of a personal storm. Her eyes had been lost in brilliant green light and her lips were curled in a soundless snarl.

“There, you see? She is holding that worm the same way I am holding you.” Kaever said rather brightly to his suspended Guard. “Perhaps I ought to teach her a formal spell.” He said. As if it were a necessary trick of fate to dampen his spirits whenever he bothered lifting them, Fierro’s voice rang out behind him.

“What’s going on? Conductor Oblynt, what have you done to Saeli?” he demanded. Kaever frowned. Fierro should know very well that the taste in his mouth was Saeli’s Magic and not his own. Argen was accusatory out of convenience and that was irritating. Nonetheless, he obliged the questions.

“I haven’t done anything. Lady Windvice is out there handling a Skully this Stormer was struggling with.” He said. There was a loud pop and the globe of aether whirling around the woman and the worm shattered like glass and exploded outward from its center. A blast of disturbed air rattled the shuttered doors to the veranda and sent glasses and silverware tumbling off tables. Saeli and the worm dropped out of the air and plummeted back into the water. “You can help her now,” Kaever said to Eslen, resorbing his own Magic and letting the Guard drop to the ground. Before he could move, Fierro was pushing past Kaever and Eslen both to leap off the crumbled veranda ledge and dive over the high stone shelf into the water. He propelled himself away from the wall with a small burst of telekinetic energy and plunged into the ocean after Saeli.

The sea surface was sizzling with the acrid blood of the Skully worm and it was several long moments before Fierro burst back above the water with Saeli in tow. She was awake and coughing, gasping for breath as she spewed seawater. A small rowing craft rounded the rock face, slipping out of the dock to meet the two quickly and haul them aboard. Magus Guards, from their uniformly silvered hair. “Tend to your friend then,” Kaever said to Eslen as he left the veranda to meet his drenched pupil. Xijja stared after him.

“He is a strange man, is he not?” she asked Eslen, who was examining the deep cuts on her tail. They would take time to heal, but looked as if they had not damaged any irreparable portion of her fin.

“You could say that.” Eslen sighed.

Kaever was waiting by the time the little rowing boat had pulled up to the low steps that descended into the harbor waters. Despite the ordeal, activity had continued on in the dock without pause. It was not wholly unexpected that such a ruckus would occur at the Academy and the great arches above the covered harbor supported a shielding barrier of huge coral blocks, several tons each, which had been drawn out to deepen the harbor itself. Thus, the tunneled space that was the dock was contained in its own raucous cacophony and Saeli and her companions were hardly worth a moment’s attention as they drifted up against the steps. Kaever watched as Fierro helped Saeli from the boat, gentlemanly and dashing in his matched sopping clothes. Saeli was speaking. “Really, I’m fine. Thank you for coming for me, but I’m alright.” She said. She glanced up at Kaever.

“Is that what you were expecting?” she asked him without a hint of a smile, but without malice either. He had almost expected her to be angry with him for tossing her out into the ocean like he had, but he supposed it would be odd for an Isla-born girl to be all too offended by such behavior. She had pushed him down a flight of stairs yesterday without seeming particularly malicious, too. Perhaps it was simply Saeli Windvice and not her birthplace, then.

“More or less.” He said. Fierro looked indignant at such an answer, but Saeli seemed satisfied.

“Okay.” She said. Kaever inclined his head. She was shaking, which was curious because he was certain the water mustn’t be the bother and she didn’t seem frightened.

“It bit her leg, Kaever.” Fierro said, and his tone was sharper than expected. Master Argen had said it before: he had performer’s blood. He must have a real sympathy for the young woman, or a real interest, to break form enough to scold the Sire of his Falange. Kaever didn’t dwell on it then, though he would consider it later when he had the time to be annoyed. He had admittedly forgotten that his novice Scholar had exactly none of his regenerative prowess and was likely still wounded, if not as badly as Xijja had been.

“Of course.” He said, expression unperturbed, but he took the last two steps to meet them and scooped Saeli up in his arms without further discussion. Fierro did not appear overly pleased with Kaever still, but the High Conductor nodded at him to leave anyway. “Kind of you to go after her, Master Argen. Thank you as well, honorable Guards, for collecting my troublesome student.” Saeli was already wriggling in his grasp in what might have been an attempt to free herself.

“I’m fine, please put me down.” She said. She was uncomfortable enough with being held in such a way that she’d not even taken a moment to complain about being called troublesome. She’d been injured once, during a drunken brawl that had broken out in the midst of a wine-laden trade negotiation. Her father had thrown her over his shoulder and hauled her back to Windvice like a sack of potatoes. It would have been odd for him to cradle her after he’d introduced her as his cabin boy Saeth. Kaever was disinclined to listen to her request, toting her off through the dock and the Five Quarters toward the Academy’s primary infirmary. It was fortunate that the eatery they’d gone to was on the dock; the infirmary had been placed with a thought to accidents in the shipping bustle as much as for the Academy residents themselves. To Saeli’s great distaste, the High Conductor Oblynt marching through with a woman in his arms drew more attention than the monstrous worm had.

“Did you think I wouldn’t control it?” she asked when she had given up on being put down. Kaever shrugged, bouncing her as he did so.

“You had no reason to be unable to control it. You weren’t afraid. It’s good to see you can cut the flow of your Magic at least somewhat appropriately.” He said. She watched his face. She hadn’t known him long enough to be sure, but she suspected that qualified as some sort of approval.     

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #6 on: November 04, 2016, 06:28:46 pm »
”You have a good heart.” he continued later when he set her down and a scholar in medicine, the Medica school, came over in her plain dress and dark apron. All that these primary Caretakers wore had a glossy quality, to keep sanitary and wash fast. A choker tied around her neck, a silver pendant dangling, two circles, one open and the other one encircling that break. He liked the garb more than most uniforms here at the academy. He saw that Saeli was not unaccustomed to their appearance when she was helped into a bed. He’d gone all the way to the bedside with her, after all. “And we can rely on that when the magic you produce is too vengeful in its potency.” He said, his mouth tingling again, eye all but quivering with the memory of her innate power and its possible catastrophic effects. “That’s why the only one in real danger in the marina was the poor Skully Worm.” He laughed but it was a bit dark, where he stood beside her, and the Caretaker examined her with a hovering hand, lit with a rich orange light from the lines in the palm. “Perhaps you would have been able to contain yourself in the listening hall, too, if you cared about myself, Solasette or the High Conductors.” It was unfair, and her willful mouth became round and tense to reply to his cruelty.

“That’s false! I wouldn’t want harm to come to you, even if you’re an objectionable…” she started, but realized her mistake. He gave her half a smile. He understood the circumstances had been different, and that she was sooner roused by anger when her sympathy wasn’t in the way. Neither of them had acted very sympathetically toward her, and she had not seen the danger she posed until she had started something that had never really been within her control. He did not feel moved to tell her this, because she was so pretty when she was in doubt. He’d not been engaged so much in someone’s dismay in quite some time. He thought of Andromeda and then deflected those images.

“You’re upsetting her.” The Caretaker said, still assessing with her honed gift, and he was sure her reading was as accurate as Saeli’s expression.

“Strange. I am usually a well-loved social butterfly.” He assured the unimpressed Caretaker. There was someone here who could vouch for him, but she'd not do so, anyway, since she knew him. Kaever locked his hands behind his back to lean over his student. “What say you, Healer?” he pressed.

“Loss of blood. The wounds have made her leg useless, but nothing we can’t treat. She’ll be good as new soon.”

“Well, then you will be rid of me soon, as well.” He said and took a chair to sit at the foot of the bed. He would not be allowed so close when the healing light brimmed the caverns that the Skully Worm had carved into Saeli. He knew the rhythms and incantations of the Medica well, so he wasn’t so curious. Waiting just outside the divider was enough, if only so Saeli wouldn't hurt herself or him, protecting her modesty.

She was glad to be rid of his staring eyes and their rare blood shadows. Still, Saeli though, this was not comfortable. Medica was an impossible luxury at sea. Mostly, if you knew a spell that could ward off infection, you’d just be sown up and had to wait to come to shore. The warmth of the Caretaker’s work was foreign, and her leg still tingled wherever the magic convinced her flesh to seal itself without a trace. She had bad injuries before, and her father always fussed endlessly when he could, away from eyes that expected her to be male underneath her clothing. This treatment was unsettling because she knew what it felt like to heal at a natural pace. She concentrated on her hands, instead, and remembered her war under water. When the blue light built in her hold, sometimes, she could see the bones through her skin, and underneath the surface that kind of light looked like it belonged so well.

Fierro had been very offended by the ordeal. Sweet, but she would rather do something at her own peril than risk the lives of others. The ship had taught her as much, and any other course of action was distasteful to her. Magus Enslen had been formidable, not because his body was failing from a good fight, but because of how furiously he’d wanted to save the mantawoman. On the Windvice, they were a family, some of them, and that bred another kind of sacrifice. Between the electrical Xijja and able-bodied Enslen there was a deep partnership without the hue of a long fondness. Duty. Perhaps she'd learn it too, here. Instead she had a protective instinct, said Kaever. And that sentiment, according to him, had kept her in control even during the chaotic battle. Saeli smiled. It was a compliment to her character, even if he hadn’t meant it as one. She winched and closed the hand. She wondered if wrapping her leg and waiting wouldn’t be better than this thrumming, intrusive spell.

Fierro had chosen new garb and told his fellow Academicians all about this morning. The Magus had carried the emissary Xijja, a merling among other merlings, to his ship, where she was getting care that agreed with her physical composition. While merfolk were included into the Sapien Medica school, mantafolk were still pending, and official spells had not been written or shared. Any Caretaker might have had an easy time adjusting, but there was something unstoppable about the guard who stomped, obviously exhausted, to get the fish out of water her care near the sea. This left most of the ordeal wrapped up, but for the follow-up on Saeli’s state. After a few words with Solasette, he convinced them he should go.

Kaever was his usual self when he looked upon the dancer, and the dancer flicked his hand upward twice, both to dismiss and to greet the High Conductor who had been the cause of Saeli’s injuries. Quickly, and without sound, Fierro’s long legs took him to the side of her bed. He dress was dry but the design was ruined by the water and blood. It wasn’t even the fault of the scissors the Caretaker had to take to the skirt. “Windvice, Saeli.” He said and insisted on putting his hand on her shoulder for her attention. “What a great feat, this morning. A grand way to day to start a day, really.” He sat down on the bed and it made Kaever’s neck straighten just a little, on the other side. “But I have to admit I wished you weren't forced to. Oblynt should have taken care of it himself, instead of troubling you so much.” He pointed to her leg with all of his hand.

“She’s not here to watch breakfast shows, desk-sitter.” Kaever reminded and leaned back in his chair. At least he had the decency to wait here with Saeli, Fierro thought. “She did well today.”

“This is well?” Fierro tested.

“I am quite fine. I would rather have my leg out of commission than Enslen and the mantawoman at risk.” She said. Her green eyes were as alert as ever. Fierro softened upon hearing her and nodded.

“Of course. I didn’t mean to take away what good you did. I was just worried.” At least that seemed to speak to her, as her lips lifted a bit. “We still have to talk about the Isla. I haven’t reminisced for some time. Maybe soon?”

"I think it's more important that I work on my control." she said, but turned to her Conductor with the question in her eyes. Kaever crossed his arms and pulled the corner of his mouth inward. He looked judgemental and amused all at the same time.

"I would rather you rest. If you could avoid excitement, though unlikely with this dancer, I don't think some time off would hurt. I told you to enjoy your time here." It was hard to discern if Kaever meant the reasonable words with the tart upturn of his chin. Fierro, who was at home in these games, made a sound with his pink lips that suggested he'd burst an invisible bubble. There was a finality to the little pop.

"With the High Condoctor's permission then." He fished her hand up with his left, and placed it in his right. A long thumb locked over her knuckles. It seemed Argen handled these kind of things well. "Some leisure in the academy." he announced and took her attention with the amber between his lashes, tilting his chin also, but he was challenging her to laugh. "How progressive we are." His laughter was only two voiced tones and a playfully deep intake of air. By the end of it his left was over her knuckles, too. "You ambitious people." he scolded. "I can already see that you're worried for treating yourself. Listen to your Conductor here, Saeli. You saved artillery, and a Magus. You honed your skill. Wouldn't more progress already be greedy?"

She thought he was convincing. All those things made her feel silly for refusing. And this didn't seem like a solid promise. Soon could mean whenever, and declining it was too grim. With some lightness, he was also holding her hand captive for it. "Alright. Thank you." She missed her old life, that felt both like yesterday and forever away. His stories soothed that ache, and he was easier to understand than Kaever. "How are the other two? How are the people that were there?"

"No bystanders were hurt. Perhaps the patio has seen better days, but they're right by the water, aren't Skullies and Bhema part of the charm?" Impossible, and they knew, that's what made it funny. "And Enslen is strong, as in stubborn. The way he was lugging the mantawoman around, you'd think they'd had an Amwian wedding. I think she'll be better spoiled by the Medica on that ship than you are here. Now, if you're asking about the worm, I think it's dinner to the opportunistic on the marina bottom. If divers are fortunate, they might be able to recover the scales."

"You should write children's stories, Fierro. I think Worm should be your penname, also. It'd be perfect. A dancer and an author." Kaever said through a sigh standing up. The Vaentatori turned a chilled stare toward the Conductor then, and his grip around her hands hardened without tightening. Kaever looked engaged in this conversation, finally. "Academician should have the vocabulary for it, yes?" But Fierro had already found composure and would rather smile at her.

"Maybe. But our children would rather listen to the sea and The Eternal Storm at a great distance, wouldn't they?" he posed.

She thought it sounded as though he was offering to raise offspring with her, but really, he was drawing a common line because they hailed from The Isla, both of them. It was romantic, patriotic, but untrue, even if she had loved when people stilled at night, and only the ship spoke with the water, and the wind with the wood and sails. She could sleep during great tumult, if she trusted the crew. "Children are usually exhausted enough to sleep, whatever they're listening too."

Fierro laughed, smaller, plentiful this time, and folded himself toward her lap, where their hands were. Kaever lifted his brows and opened his mouth in the strangest compliment to her diplomacy before he turned. "Something to think about." how dismissive, suddenly. It did something to her diaphragm. "I have a friend here, somewhere. Perhaps keep each other company for now. You're welcome to our chambers." which meant the doors would open for her when she went. "You could even move some of your affects in, as well. We'll talk more there."

"Affects?" Fierro said to have her attention back. "Oh yes. You haven't officially moved your things, have you?" He was excited by this. "I hope you don't mind, but Solasette had prepared some things for you, robes for your studies, dresses for meetings, things like that. All of it is too much what they would wear, so I injected some of our home in it, since they wouldn't be persuaded to drop the venture entirely. Now at least there are some practical items, and a few Hesperinne staples. I couldn't resist. Over all, though, The Marquis does not have a bad eye."

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #7 on: November 06, 2016, 12:08:56 am »
Kaever touched the hem of his vest, running his finger over the stitching as he walked. What a forward man, that Fierro. Which was to say, he did not see all too much difference between Argen and Marquis Solasette. Both seemed to take to inserting themselves in the affairs of anything that sparkled with newness. Kaever did not see himself in the same light, of course. Saeli had been plucked up out of some necessity. He feet had taken him to a door he knew well, plain and unassuming at the rear of the infirmary’s back hall.

A few of the Healers had bobbed their respects to him as they’d bustled past, but he’d been otherwise left unbothered. Kaever rather liked the infirmaries for this reason; the Healers were generally busy enough that they ignored him. They couldn’t be interrupted for formalities and he couldn’t be bothered by it. In truth, he’d spent a good amount of time floating around this infirmary in particular. He had argued it was for his mental health whenever one of the Healers had paused long enough to ask. He knocked on the door.

“Come in, Kaever,” came the expectant answer. Kaever let himself in and waved shortly. The space was, in practice, a private examining room. However, it had been Nith’s working room for so many years it was more like an extension of her living quarters. In fact, a small bed in the corner had personal linens tucked neatly and served as her sleeping place more often than her actual private rooms. Nith was seated at her desk, a delicate teacup pressed between her fingertips. The redhead smiled. “You missed dinner yesterday.” She said.

“Oh, I suppose that’s true. I apologize. Something came up.” He said, taking the seat opposite her without waiting for invitation. Nith nodded. She had already heard, of course. Solasette had been through her room causing a great commotion about terrible neck pain late in the night. A light salve and the occasion to divulge their harrowing experience had been enough to resolve the agony.

“Saeli Windvice, is it? That’s a name from the Isla if I’ve ever heard one. I’m glad you’re taking on students again.” Nith hummed. Kaever gave her a dismissive look. It wasn’t like that, of course. Saeli was thrust upon him. He had no intention of training any other Scholars for the moment. Nith seemed to catch his stare’s meaning, her blue eyes twinkling. “Would you like some tea?” she asked. He nodded. His breakfast had been interrupted, after all. “Well, either way, you may have immortality on your side but you can only sulk for so long.” She said, setting her own cup on the desk to fetch its pair for Kaever.

“I’m not sulking and since when was I the child in this?” he asked, gesturing between them. Nith laughed.

“When you began acting like one.” She answered, passing him the warm porcelain and tucking a coil of auburn hair behind her ear. He would have protested more if it weren’t a bit humorous off her lips. She looked as lovely as the day he’d met her, decades ago, with her milky skin and bright eyes, a spattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and those fiery copper strands. “I’m an old woman now, you know,” she reminded him, as if he hadn’t been thinking of it himself. He’d never asked whether Nith’s spells wove youth in appearance alone. It seemed morbid to inquire, and she’d always been of exceptionally strong constitution. It had never been a point worth fretting over.

“Shall we reschedule dinner?” he asked. Nith pursed her lips. “Whenever you like, of course. I’ll make time.” Kaever smiled for her, and it was the sort meant to be charming rather than the teasing curl Saeli had become acquainted with. Nith sighed.

“We’ll arrange a time later. You’ll be busy for a bit, with a new Scholar on your hands…no matter why you chose to take her.” Nith said. It was a practical answer, but it made Kaever frown. It was likely his own sentiments projecting, but he could swear Nith was making a bigger affair of Windvice than necessary.

“It is my job, you know.” He suggested. A hypocritical remark, but Nith was kind enough not to point it out. He took a sip of his tea and the folded his arms across his chest. “She’s out there being patched up now, actually.” He said. Nith arched a fine brow. “I threw her at a Skully Worm.” He explained, which finally seemed to elicit a better reaction out of the Healer.

“You what?” she demanded. Kaever grinned then, and not in the charming way.

“She was fine. The Magus Guard and his artillery partner were having trouble with it on their own. The Lady Windvice finished the job singlehandedly.” He said, and he sounded prouder than he had in front of Saeli. Nith was standing.

“You threw her? At a Skully?” she returned. Kaever groaned. “If she’s being patched up, as you say, she mustn’t be fine.” Nith said.

“Well, it did bite her. She seems determined though, and she didn’t complain at all after.” Kaever said. “She has a lot of potential. More than—“ he paused. “She’s quite powerful. She lacks any finesse though. She has no formal training and tenuous control.” He continued. Nith sat back in her chair and took a sip of her tea, staring into the warm vapor rising form the cup for a long moment.

“I’d like to meet her sometime, when she’s not recovering from a Skully bite. Please treat her a bit more gently until then, at least.” Nith fixed him with her clear blue gaze. “This could be a good opportunity for the both of you. You’re a good teacher when you want to be.” She said. “It might do well for you to want to be.”


Chapter II: Saltblood

Saeli wriggled her toes and had to admit she was impressed with such a full recovery in the span of an hour. “This is incredible. I mean, it feels really strange, but I have to confess it’s wonderful.” She said, half to Fierro and half to the Healer. Both laughed, and the Healer took her leave with a short bow. Fierro had stayed with her the entire time, and it seemed to her that his version of ‘soon’ must actually mean ‘now’ and that she had been wrong when she’d thought she’d made no promises. She wasn’t unhappy with the company though, and with Kaever taking his leave so abruptly she supposed she had no reason to indulge whatever plans Fierro had in mind.

“Shall I help you up, Lady Windvice?” he asked her with a soft smile. It made her blush because he was lovely and his voice was sweet. Saeli nodded and let him support her as she stood from the bed. She was cautious to bear weight on her leg, still attached to her conventional concept of healing times, but quickly confirmed she was as well as if she’d never been bitten at all. She thought of Xijja, the mantawoman, and hoped she was receiving equally skillful treatment for her injuries. This led her to think of Enslen, and she let out a small gasp. “Are you alright?” Fierro asked, pressing his arm around her waist in case she needed the support.

“Oh, yes, I’m fine. I feel perfectly better, actually. I was just thinking I should find Enslen soon. He told me to find him after I’d entered a Falange but I doubt he meant under the sort of circumstance as this morning.” She explained. Fierro inclined his head, golden locks falling over one shoulder. He wasn’t familiar with an Enslen, but realized she must mean the Magus Guard at the dockside eatery.

“You can find him another day soon. I’m sure he’ll be needing a moment to catch his breath as well, you know. I don’t think he’ll hold it against you if you wait.” Fierro suggested. Saeli thought he was probably right and shrugged agreement.

“I suppose. I can walk fine on my own now,” she said with a short laugh realizing, once the matter was resolved, that Master Argen had no removed his arm from around her. He laughed with her and set her free. She was a cautious woman, it seemed, or very naïve to this sort of directed attention. It was endearing, he thought. He wondered if Kaever would be too cross with him if he made her fall in love with him. Fierro frowned at his own musing. It would be unfair to Saeli to play those kinds of game when she’d only just begun to get her footing here. It was a shame, because she was easy enough on the eyes.

“I’ll escort you back to your quarters and help you take your things to Conductor Oblynt’s suites.” Fierro glanced at her as he began to lead her from the infirmary. “That is where you’re staying now, I gather?” he confirmed. Saeli didn’t look particularly pleased when she nodded, and he patted the top of her hand with his in some commiseration. That made her laugh. “Now, you oughtn’t be too surprised when you’re stared at. Your gown has gone through more than it was meant for,” he cautioned as they stepped back into the Five Quarters. Saeli sighed.

“It’s impractical to begin with.” She said, a bit disgruntled. Fierro smirked.

“Don’t tell Solasette. That silk slip is about as practical as the Marquis gets. That said, you will have to humor their selections when you see what they and I have put together for you.” He said. Saeli nodded. In truth, she wanted to say that the sentiment was kind but they’d not needed to give her any such gifts. Saeli was fond of her own clothes, well-worn and suited for her. She hoped Fierro’s version of practical items was at least somewhat similar to her own.

Saeli was rather satisfied with herself for leading them back to her quarters with only one wrong turn, having taken the trip between her room and the Five Quarters just once before. She apologized profusely when she asked Fierro to wait outside for her, but she was desperate to be out of the tattered silk sheath which had, as Fierro had guessed, drawn several curious stares and murmurs on their trip back. When she emerged, she was in better spirits than Fierro had seen her yet. “Master Argen, you are a gift of the gods,” she said, bursting from the room.

She had elected to wear one of his contributions to her new wardrobe; a white linen blouse that tied neatly against the base of her throat and tucked into soft lambskin breeches. A Hesperinne dancer’s belt, made of dark leather and cinched tight around her waist, unfurled a cascade of dark blue velvet over her left hip down to her ankles. Dark leather boots which reached to her mid-thigh and a silver satin half cape clasped with the Misericordia sigil provided refined touches without sacrificing her comfort. “I would never have thought of something like this. It’s lovely and I still feel like myself.” She laughed, girlishly, and twirled for him. Fierro clapped his hands together.

“I’ve outdone myself, I suppose. I’ll be sure to gloat to Solasette later. They will hate it.” He said. Saeli waved him toward her room.

“Please, come in now.” She said. They did not take long to tie up her possessions. She had not brought much with her and the provisions of the Marquis were already folded and packaged neatly. When she closed the door behind her, she felt a curious sense of finality. It was probably silly, she realized, as she’d already signed her name over to Misericordia in blood. Still, taking her things to Conductor Oblynt’s suites felt like stepping into something distinctly more permanent.

“You were impressive today, with the Skully. I was worried for you, but I suppose it was for no reason. You said your father’s vessel was a merchant ship. Did you encounter sea behemoths often?” he asked. Saeli shook her head.

“We used to see Bhema on our usual route toward Na’arat. We never came near enough to them, though. You must have seen more than I,” she said. The Whisper Ships were so-called for their absolute silence, cutting through the waves on hunts. Their rigging was made of woven Bhema sinew, which was exceptionally soft and strong and made no noise when they strained. Their sails, too, were made of iridescent Bhema fins that caught the light and distorted their shape, making the ships nearly indistinguishable from the glittering sea at a distance. It was a point of pride that the crew of the whisper ships hunted their own Bhema to outfit their vessels. The sea wyverns were intelligent and strong and grew to monstrous sizes in the depths. They surfaced in small family groups and would fight to the death in defense of any of their number.

“When I was a seventeen, a Grim Fish surfaced near to us and ripped half the hull off the vessel we were traveling with. I helped to kill it, but so did the rest of my father’s crew and the surviving of the other ship. I’ve only ever helped to handle much smaller nuisances in our routes. We were never outfitted to be a hunting ship.” She said. Fierro sighed.

“A blind guess on Kaever’s part then, to send you after that worm.” He determined. Saeli grimaced.

“I was hoping it was some actual confidence in my Magic, but you may well be right.” She admitted. Fierro shook his head. It probably had been confidence, in part, but Kaever had never had the most encouraging respect for life and limb. Fierro had often blamed it on the Sire’s incredible regenerative Magic. Nobody at the Academy was quite sure how old he was, save the High Magus. After so many years, it must be easy to forget about more delicate bodies. Or, it must be the case if he was to assume Kaever wasn’t a complete ass. Fierro shrugged to himself. Either was possible.

They reached Conductor Oblynt’s quarters in less time than Saeli had expected, though Fierro’s easy conversation might have distracted her. As Kaever had said, the brass gate was already withdrawn when they arrived and they were able to enter without issue. “He’ll have to teach the sprite your aether flow if you’re to live here with any convenience.” Fierro remarked. Saeli seemed surprised to hear it, and peered closer at the prism suspended before the door. The shifting dark shape within flitted and whirled. Fierro glanced at her. “Ah, I suppose there’s quite a bit about all this you’ve never seen before. Life at sea is invigorating and you travel every shore of Sabvon, but you’ll never see the vast majority of Magic outside the Academy unless you’ve been taught to look for it and, well, that requires a stay at the Academy.” He said lightly. “You should never hesitate to ask questions here. Ask me or Kaever, if you like. Solasette, even. Kaever will answer you eventually, even if he pretends to be uninterested.” Fierro suggested.

Saeli did not seem as concerned by Conductor Oblynt’s willingness to answer. “The Marquis… it sounds as if they’re doing alright. Are they very upset with me?” she asked carefully. Fierro made an undignified sound.

“Solasette will always be fond of everyone, no matter how much they also disdain you or however much you might abuse them.” He said and his expression grew a bit grim. “The Marquis is useful if you remain on their good side, but it is exceedingly difficult to tell if you are there.” He shook his head. “If I had to guess, the profundity of gifts they’ve left you with are some attempt at an apology on their part. It is possible the Marquis knew very well they were out of line. Which is not to say your behavior was advisable, but—“ he shrugged and smiled. “I wouldn’t fret.”

Saeli was only partially relieved by the answer, as it tugged at her earlier suspicions. If Solasette had truly orchestrated the entire ordeal, they were a bit frightening. She wondered if they might be less infuriating, now that they’d gotten the rise out of her it seemed they might have been looking for, but quickly decided it was unlikely. If other aspects of Solasette’s nature were debatable, she was fairly certain that their elitism most certainly was not.

When they reached the salon that was now her room, she was surprised to find that the furniture had already been exchanged to serve as a more suitable sleeping quarters and that Kaever was waiting for them. “You certainly took your time, Fierro.” Kaever said. Fierro looked as surprised as Saeli.

“My dear Sire, I had expected Lady Snowfall to take a bit more of your time. I won’t apologize for keeping Saeli though. In truth, I was hoping to take her for a walk through the garden after we brought her personal items. You did say she ought to rest.” Fierro said. Kaever was not paying close attention, glancing over Saeli’s change of attire with some curiosity.

“That suits you a bit better, doesn’t it,” he remarked. Saeli nodded, still deeply pleased with the gift, though the comment seemed to annoy Fierro.

“Now, if there was just someone who could help me trim my hair I might look almost presentable.” Saeli said. Fierro shook his head, long blond braids swaying in the thick of his mane.

“Why would you ever do that?” he sighed. Saeli tugged at a strand of her dark hair. It was some fashion amongst the nobility, particularly of the Academy, to wear one’s hair long. Saeli could hardly stand it past her chin, and it was nearly past her shoulders now. She’d spent so many years with it tied back or stuffed into a cap, it simply seemed bothersome at any great length. Still, if Fierro seemed so against it, she supposed she could just plait it and leave it be. Kaever didn’t seem to have a strong opinion.

“Cut it, if you prefer it that way.” He looked to Fierro. “Nith wasn’t as amusing as I’d hoped today. She mostly wanted to talk about Lady Windvice and how one should not throw one’s Scholars at dangerous beasts.” He explained. Fierro scowled.

“It’s a shame you require such a talk in the first place.” He muttered.       

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #8 on: November 06, 2016, 10:30:04 pm »
Already it was quite an adventure for the Hesperite to see the rooms of Kaever Oblynt. Someone like the High Conductor was not at danger of much, and would sometimes treat his door as just that, a shield for the draft in the halls, forgetting to shut it sometimes, and still Fierro had not found himself here. He'd known Andromeda, and she was here often enough, but their connection had never brought him along to these chambers, despite his own fleeting scheming. With some surpise, Fierro had realized this when the shine of the books bombarded them, crossing the deep deviation that was the inviting library on their way to Saeli's designated area. She would become greatly familiar with this place and he would never. A little bead of granite, solid, treaded onto Fierro's heart.

"Oh, I am sorry my way of teaching offends, Argen." Kaever said with a tone that made it clear he was not. Fierro found that he would rather get back to defending Saeli's dark tresses from them both, but wanted to be content with having sown the seed for their continued thriving, so he only walked passed her back, and patted them from below, behind her neck, to give them some volume. Rich, for a sailors here, but he'd never word it like that.

"I think Saeli here will continue to do well no matter your harsh methods." Fierro said, honestly, and went to her bed to test the linen, to make sure she would be comfortable. He had grace, normally, but in Kaever's home he tried for more polish in his spring, and lighter feet. A Whisper Ship's son and dancer, indeed. "So why not go a little easy on her, Kaever?" It felt good to move around in here. He spun to stand in a way that might leave them guessing whether he was performing or not, and then went to the wall, to examine the robust but unfantastic frame for her mirror. When Fierro looked passed the reflection of his own shoulder, and the gold that spilled in braids and the silver details he liked to weave in to his hair, he saw that neither Saeli nor Kaever were watching. She was standing there, unused to her own place of rest, looking at her Conductor, and Kaever either pretended not to notice, or honestly thought it didn't matter. Another bead on Fierro's heart. He quickly swallowed a sigh and fretted over the ends of his mane for distraction.

Kaever stood also and came to Saeli to inspect her clothes. After half a circle around her he was content and scratched his cheek. More than her attire, it seemed her leg complimented her other leg better than it had after her swim. Thrashed limbs could be mended to be flawless on the outside again, the Academy Infirmary was able to offer that much, but there were times when phatom pains tried to take the extrimity instead. It was remarkable that Saeli was so unbothered. "I'm glad your healing went well. But if it hadn't, you would also have met my..." he thought a bit about his phrasing. "The best Healer in the infirmary. Snowfall. She'll have you call her Nith."

And that was an inevatabillity anyway. It seemed everyone was quite curious about his newest scholar. If he would indulge anyone on the subject, it would be Nith. She would push the issue with him if he did not, anyway. "She wants to meet you. I think you will like her. Almost anyone likes Nith." He turned to Fierro, who was tending to his own vanity by the mirror, expecting the Academician to agree. Only silence, which meant Fierro was not listening.

"Your friend?" Saeli asked, and Kaever thought her expression was more focused than it should. It was not so far out of his personality to have a friend.

"Yes. An old friend." the term was not quite enough, but to call her anything else would be confusing in this context. Suddenly he saw that Fierro was piqued, again.

Saeli didn't know why having a friend seemed so assymetric with Kaever's personlity. It was a bit silly. He wasn't hostile in the way that worm had been, so it wasn't impossible for him to attract kindred. Yet, the kind of relationship her Conductor described seemed deeper and dearer than she imagined Kaver's connections. If they were so important to him, though, she was curious enough to agree and meet them. Not that she'd had a lot to say about any descission he'd made for her, thuss far.

"Is it Snowfall?" Fierro asked, having joined the two again. Kaever agreed with a twich of his lips. "Oh, You'll like her. She is quite reasonable to be involved with someone as -- well." he continued, without the shame the pause suggested. "You two have known eachother for quite some time, haven't you, Kaever? " Fierro looked at Saeli in such a way that suggested the words meant more than they usually would, now. It was an eloquent expression and she looked at her teacher and ward for confirmation.

"Nith is a reasonable person on most days, and easy to talk to." Kaever said. Fierro was frustrated by the impassionate answer and went to Saeli to take her hands.

-

Enslen had been fending off care since he'd gotten into the sickroom. Bandages he'd take, even chilled metal for his soreness, but there was not much damage to speak of - the worm was dangerous in a fatal way, mostly, the way he fought - that he thought recuired magical healing. He thought Medica was the most tolerable of all the Falanges, but would rather avoid it when he could. So instead of wrangling up Caratakers for himself, he'd hollared at the crew to find someone apt for Xijja, who was still bleeding.

Their listless replies were attrocious testaments to the segregation. Her service, and her price for it, were clear as day, spilling on the floor, her life. At first they had wanted to get her a merling, and the merling itself had made a face that he didn't like. If the half-thing was hated because it was of two worlds that were both accepted by the Academy, then Xijja carried an even harder heritage. Such a hypocrite, this merling. And it was becoming quite a burden to him to remain authorative after a night of battle in the sea.

She tried to express with her shruggs that she would be alright, an endearing imitation of Sapien body-language, but he was sure she couldn't know. Eventually someone with the right uniform came to sit with Xijja, and touched the skirs around her tail. The slick skin, fanning out from the tail itself at finger length, were ripped. He saw the source of her electrical surges underneath, and wondered if that was private. Pores and sprouts, like he'd seen on jellyfish. He counted seven skirts on the length of her tail, and five of them had been shredded in places by the damned monster.

The wounds shut quickly though, this Caretaker specialized in such practical spells, and Enslen belived the worst was over when her skirs were mended with gentle strokes from the glowing fingers. Pacing as though he had energy to spare, he was kept outside for the worst of it, feild healing far more severe than what they could administer in the Academy infirmary. Xijja's hissing had him arguing with the guards, his friends, but he knew he wouldn't have gone in even if they let him, not if it disturbed the healer.

When she quieted and the Healer made her way out, barely giving him a wave as she went on where she was needed next - it had been a hard night for this ship, but now the threat of Skullies was at least gone - he pushed through his fellow Magus to see an annoyed expression on Xijja's face. She was proud, the kind of proud bred from opposition, and all worlds that she was from opposed her. Atleast she was well.

"I see you're back to being impatient and ingrateful." he said with a relieved sigh. She breathed through the siv of her closed teeth at him, black eyes blinking with a suggestion he should leave so she could tend to herself. She even spoke in her tongue, the clicks loud in the limited space. Somehow the use of her tongue was too intimate a sound in such closeness, and he bent over, bandages and all, to lift her up. Her protests became louder, but she didn't fight him, though her mouth opened close to his face. An affectionate threat for an affectionate gesture. Her hand was in his silver hair and she tugged a little bit as she bounced with his steps out.

They were accustomed to oceanic species on this ship, and had accomodations on deck. He was sure to give her the tinted tank among the handfull of others. She slid over the edge and into the shallow container easilly. Enslen heard her call, but he'd already collapsed, chest and arms still wet with her water, against the side of the cold tank. He breathed slowly, even as he started to shake. When boy with a mop came closer, obviously worried, Enslen managed to lift his hand to assure the swashbuckler he was quite alright. Without magic, this job required the utmost of him. Sometimes it meant exhaustion to this point.

A better weathered crewman brought him a flask of sugar and salt in water, and threw a few strips of jerky into his lap, too. Enslen blew at his knuckles, their informal greeting, and the Magus returned the friendliness before shooing the boy away. Xijja was still repeating the two clicks he'd come to identify as his name when he spilled the drink over his mouth trying to to taste it. He cussed as he balled up a strip of jerky and fit it into his mouth with quaking fingers. Gold Gar. His favourite.

-

"Enslen Vidagar?" asked the giant in the Guard's uniform as Fierro tried to push his position. "Yeah, he's been runnning around all day, from what I've seen, bouncing that quarter breed in his arms. What of it?" Not an unhelpful tone, but Fierro had rather his speech was more formal, despite his obvious brute outlook.

"I'm here with Saeli Windvice." he said. He showed her behind him, but he guard could very well see for himself. The Academician would not have been here if she hadn't insisted so. Sweet Saeli. Also, it had become increasingly hard to stay in Kaever's chambers and be ignored in such an obvious manner. Better not look for wounds. "And Enslen Vidagar" odd surname, but the hardness of it fit the station, probably. "had expressed he wanted to see her. I think now is a good time."

"Oh yes." the behemoth of a sapien man said, moving aside, as though his standing in the way on the deck itself had been an issue. They'd needed directions not accses. "Toward the front. He's by the guest tanks, for the mers."

"Thank you." Saeli said and went past both men to seek according to the directions. Feirro cought up to her when she was already standing above the lanky, sprawled out Enslen, sitting, but barely, against a dark tank, bandages over his bare torso. He was speaking with food in his mouth, while Saeli, for some reason, was holding a flask to his lips. Enslens arms were lax on the floor, and his white hair was wet from Xijja hanging over the edge of her container, dripping down on him as she seemed a bit worried.

"Mutch obliged, Wingvice." he said, having shifted the jerky to his left cheek so he could swallow the invigorating, traditional concoction. He smiled as he continued to chew the treat. Xijja was upset above him, but it was when Saeli looked at her with some undestanding that he almost choked on the morsel. "Y-you understand?"

In the Magus Guard he'd learned to communicate with people of his language, his exact dialect, without many words. It was their jargon. But it was frustrating not to be able to hold deeper conversations with Xijja. Mostly he wanted to appologize for his people to her, but he'd also like to tease her on a deeper level. If Saeli knew how, he'd have her teach him.

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #9 on: November 08, 2016, 05:26:33 am »
Saeli blinked. “Oh, yes, well… I’m sure Master Argen understands as well,” she said with a polite smile. “It is common for the Vaentatori to learn the Mer tongue. We work closely with them and our queen, of course, is of the Merfolk.” She explained, somehow shy about this particular skill. Her Magic was something she had been born with, but her understanding of the Mer tongue was by her own effort. That made her peculiarly reticent to flaunt it. Fierro patted her head. Dear woman.

“Which does not diminish the accomplishment of mastering it, of course. Often, our grasp is rudimentary at best. Lady Windvice appears to be considerably more fluent.” He said, praising what she would not. Saeli ran her hand across her forehead.

“I can’t speak it, though. It’s very difficult to replicate with Sapien vocals and we simple lose some of the range,” she qualified, somewhat apologetic. Fierro sighed softly. He would take it upon himself to teach her to stand a bit more boldly before others. She was not a timid girl with timid capabilities. He had known her but a day and was aware of that much. Enslen was still suitably impressed, if slightly disappointed. Fierro whistled a series of short, keening notes and offered a flourished bow. It caused a deal of surprise all around. Xijja, somewhat excited to hear her own tongue from a land-dweller, whistled back. A known greeting then, Enslen surmised.

“You can speak it?” Saeli asked, a bit star struck. Fierro frowned.

“Only because I cannot speak directly to her mind, as I am certain you can.” He said coolly. Saeli glanced away. Enslen was looking between the two as he swallowed down the tough jerky. He wasn’t sure what this was all about, but he understood that he was the only on in the room unable to fluently converse with his partner. That was somewhat irritating.

“Well, then. Saeli Windvice, you came to visit me after all.” He said. Saeli looked as if she’d just remembered the whole reason they’d come here in the first place. She smiled.

“Yes, you were very kind to my family and I. You saved us a good deal of trouble and money. The least I could do is honor that little request,” she hesitated. “I presumed you were serious, though I suppose it might just have been a formality.” She finished, laughing briefly. “I wanted to thank you, either way.” She said and bowed slightly. He nodded at her from where he sat, out of habit more than a sense of requiring the respect.

“I’m glad you came to visit. I was serious!” he assured her. “Admittedly, I would have hoped to see you again under more pleasant circumstances. You did an amazing job with that Skully though, and I am grateful you assisted Xijja.” He said. Saeli waved her hands at him.

“I’m glad I was able to help but I have to be honest with you, I wasn’t expecting Conductor Oblynt to involve me like that. I’d love to take the credit but, ah, well, he did send me out there.” She said with a peculiar expression. She wondered if she would have gone herself. Kaever had not given her much time to contemplate the decision before he’d made it for her, after all. Enslen was laughing. As a rule, he wasn’t overly fond of the higher appointed Magi. There was a practicality to the Magic at lower levels of study, but at some point they simply became vessels of unpredictable power. The collection of Magi at the Academy had always been to assure some sense of mutual protection, and mutual destruction, between the kingdoms. It made for an exceptionally well-kept system, but it was also volatile below the surface. The Magus Guard existed as a direct response to the inherent untrustworthiness of Magic. Kaever Oblynt, with his known immortality and generally relaxed approach to his responsibilities had always set Enslen particularly on edge.

“We should all be thankful it ended the way it did, then.” He sighed. “Forgive me for not getting up. I am still regaining my strength.” He said then, aware that he was looking up at the Vaentatori Magi from his spot against the tank. Saeli shrugged off the apology and dropped down to sit cross-legged in front of him. Fierro arched a brow. He’d not seen that sort of casual behavior in a while. It didn’t seem unpleasant though and he was quick enough to follow suit. It was good to relax from time to time.

Xiija whistled. “I am sure he has already offered our gratitude, Saltblood, but I wish to reiterate of my own accord. Thank you for your assistance. We were outmatched, though I hate to admit it.” Saeli smiled broadly. It was an honor to be called such a thing. Amongst the sea-dwelling races, it meant the sea ran in one’s veins: a connection to the father sea and his warrior heart.

I am honored.” She projected. Fierro glanced at the Guard.

“Your friend was thanking Saeli as well.” He offered. Enslen nodded in thanks, though he could have guessed as much. It was encouraging to think he might know her well enough that their language barrier was only a minor inconvenience. In truth, their record of work together should have given him enough comfort in that. “So, tell me, how is it you came across Lady Windvice?” Fierro asked. He had not missed what Saeli had said earlier and was curious. Enslen pressed his lips together. The younger man was obviously disinclined to divulge the information, but Saeli seemed not to be upset by the question in any way.

Enslen still looked to her for some sign of consent before he replied. “She was gambling and causing the other participants to see her numbers on the dice.” He said blandly. Fierro burst into a fit of laughter.

“Saeli Windvice! Of all things to be found for, that’s utterly ridiculous. You could simply have pushed the dice a bit, could you have not?” he snickered. Saeli scowled then.

“Rigging the rolls like that is illegal you know, it would have been the same as having a loaded die.” She defended, folding her arms across her chest. It was Enslen’s turn to join in the cackling. Xijja was watching them curiously. Fierro, ever observant, was kind enough to take a breath and translate what they had found so funny. The mantawoman grinned, a soft hissing laughter threading between her sharp teeth. “It’s true!” Saeli insisted. “I didn’t want to get in trouble for cheating.” She said.

“Yet, somehow weaving Misericordia into illusions for multiple individuals did not concern you?” Fierro hummed. Saeli sighed heavily.

“Quite honestly, I wasn’t aware illusion Magics were something I could get in trouble for. I wasn’t doing any particularly harmful Magic,” she said reluctantly. Fierro pressed his forehead into his palm, shoulders still bouncing with laughter.

“Any unsanctioned illusion is punishable by fine. Unsanctioned Magic used for the purpose of any deception is punishable, actually.” He sighed. Saeli rolled her eyes. She knew that now. Fierro did not seem satisfied though, turning his attention back onto Enslen. “That sounds like a minor infraction though. A few gold coins on my desk at worst.” He folded his hands into his lap. “Yet, you forwent the punishment and recommended her to the Academy at the highest ranks. Through the Head Guard, no less.” There was more to the story, he was certain. Enslen nodded, though his expression did not indicate he thought it was as intriguing as Fierro seemed to find it.

“She was conjuring an illusion for each participant and onlooker individually, synchronized, and adjusting as more people came to see what the excitement was about.” He said with a frown. “In fact, she was carrying on that way even when she noticed me. She noticed me because she could feel that her illusion wasn’t penetrating my mind. That’s quite excessive, for one, and sensitive, for another. I was certain she must be rather skilled and poorly trained.” Enslen said, stopping to take a sip of his water. It would have been significantly more efficient if she’d set up a proximity illusion, but he supposed she’d not known the proper spells for it. Saeli flushed.

“Well, I was just doing what I knew how to do and I wasn’t expecting so many people to come over and watch a game of dice,” she mumbled. Fierro was grinning from ear to ear. It was still a fantastically poor reason to be caught, but he could understand why she felt the Guard had helped her so much. That sort of personally directed Magic for a nontrivial number of people was quite a bit more than a few pieces of gold in fines. Enslen scratched his chin, where a soft shadow of dark stubble was growing in sharp contrast to his snowy hair. He’d not gotten to shave this morning, with the Skully surfacing the way it had.

“I was certain she’d be of interest to the Academy, even if they found her by way of a report on her misdeeds. I didn’t see it necessary to punish her family and their crew with the burden of her fines if she’d just be brought in as a new Scholar anyhow. I passed her on to my father after that.” He said with a shrug. He answered Fierro’s surprised glance with another nod. “I carry my mother’s surname. I don’t wish for my connection to the Head Guard to skew the treatment of my fellow Stormers.” He said. Fierro’s mouth made a pretty round.

“How interesting,” he said. He felt a bit too much like a gossip then, but he reasoned it was worth knowing all the odd threads tying their way back to Saeli Windvice. The dancers of Hesperitte often likened their theatric dances to weaving fates. It was possible he romanticized the sort of person Saeli was to him, and their meeting, but the inflection did not change the result. In the end, of course, her place under Kaever’s guardianship would have been enough to keep his eye on her. Saeli was watching him.

“Fierro, I don’t mean to be rude, but perhaps you could give me a bit of time with Sir Vidagar. I was hoping to speak a bit about some personal matters.” She said carefully. Fierro looked surprised to hear it, but smiled warmly enough. He nodded.

“A gentleman never overstays his welcome, of course. I’m glad to have formally met you, Enslen Vidagar. It was quite a treat to hear about Lady Windvice’s brief history with you.” He said, standing. He whistled a few notes to Xijja as well, who whistled back. The two nodded at one another and Fierro tipped a slight bow in Saeli’s direction. “Lady Windvice, you owe me a trip through the gardens still. However, I shouldn’t monopolize a new Scholar’s time. That is rather within the purview of your Conductor.” He said as he left. Saeli watched him go. She realized that she had no real way of contacted Fierro again, save waiting around at the desk in the Five Quarters for a time he might be servicing it. Her lips parted, thinking to ask him for a better way of finding him, and then she stopped. Surely Conductor Oblynt could direct her appropriately. To this point, everyone had found her, it seemed. She did not wish to make a habit of relying on that sort of thing.

She looked to Xijja. “They must have Songtail around here. I will do my best to find you some. It may not help the healing, but I think it will make it more bearable.” She projected, though she spoke the words aloud as she placed the thoughts in Xijja’s mind. It seemed impolite to carry on in silence when Enslen would be only not privy to the discussion. She smiled. Xijja laughed, but did not disagree.

“Would you like me to help you back to your quarters?” she asked Enslen then. He looked to be doing a bit better than when they had arrived, eating his jerky and drinking his fluids throughout their conversation. Still, he looked pale and it did concern her a bit. “I’m sorry we interrupted you while you were trying to rest.” She apologized. “Fierro told me I should wait until tomorrow, but I felt bad to have seen you the way I did and not come to find you sooner.” Enslen waved the notion off.

“If you weren’t apologizing for it I’d just as well have assumed you had only arrived today. It would have been an impressive entrance with the Skully worm, if that was the case.” He offered. She supposed he was right.

“You did me a great service though, and I don’t take that lightly. It would have been rude of me to lie like that. Although, I did only contract under Misericordia yesterday. I supposed I didn’t break my promise precisely.” She said. He sighed.

“Don’t worry about it, either way. Clearly, the Guard has kept me well occupied. I haven’t been left to wait and become offended.” He grinned and glanced at Xijja. He couldn’t do much for her, other than to keep her company, and it was likely she’d submerge to sleep the moment he left. As such, it might be better that he stumble off to his own quarters. He was generally one to lick his own wounds when possible, but Windvice had mentioned wanting to speak further. Under that pretense, he did not feel too out of sorts accepting her aid. “I’ll take you up on your offer. I don’t live far off the docks.” He said, shoving himself up onto his feet, where he remained crouched for a few long moments before he stood fully. Xijja was watching him. “I’ll leave you to rest, Xijja,” he told her. She didn’t understand the words, but gathered the meaning of his tone and posture well enough. She lifted a palm at him in a very sapien gesture of farewell.

Saeli wished the mantawoman her own farewell and translated on Xijja’s behalf for Enslen. “She says not fret. The care was sufficient for her wounds and the cool water will help her heal. She says she will be ready to fight at your side by morning, so long as you are ready for her.” Enslen chuckled.

“I guess I suspected she might be thinking something like that, but it’s funny to hear her words so directly.” He grinned, raising his palm toward Xijja. The merwoman slipped below the surface of the water to rest before Enslen and Saeli had even made it to the ladder. The two were silent until they’d made it off the vessel and onto a tiny sailing dingy. Saeli was quick to take the rudder and shoo him forward to lean against the old wood and rest. “The Guard quarters are on the western beach head.” He told her. She angled them south and steered them so the sails snapped taught in the wind and the little craft surged away from the larger ship at a spry clip.

“Enslen, I just wanted to confirm that my brother and father won’t encounter any trouble now that I’m here.” Saeli said, her lips uncharacteristically firm in their set. The Academy was large and the sail toward the western beach head would take them around a good quarter of the large island structure. It was a marvel, jutting up out of the sea on great coral stands. The beaches were more like tiny barrier islands than they were any firm component of the Academy proper, circulating around the concentric rings of the Academy by design of the ever flowing Gate current. They passed the mouth of the dock, imposingly tall with its elaborate outer arch.

“I gave you my word. In all honesty, it isn’t as if you’re the first the Academy’s turned a blind eye toward and your infraction wasn’t anything serious beyond semantics. I will admit it had the potential to be worrisome and would have looked rather formidable on record, though.” He said. The crisp salt air was energizing, though he was not a seafaring man by nature. Enslen rubbed his temples. “Is that all you were concerned about?” he asked. Saeli took the boat in closer to the coral walls of the Academy island, letting the spray off the cresting wavelets fling across their bow. She was enjoying herself, he could tell, despite her solemn.

“No, I had meant to ask you why you were looking for me in the first place. That’s why I’m worried for my family at all. When you stopped me wasn’t the first time you saw me.” She said calmly. “I don’t know how long you’d been watching me, but it was several months at least, wasn’t it?” she asked. She turned her sharp green eyes from the sky to meet his paler shade. Enslen looked a bit surprised.

“You noticed that long beforehand?” he asked, without bothering to deny her. It didn’t seem like a worthwhile lie, when she was already here at the Academy. Saeli nodded.

“I noticed maybe six months ago. We were gone on one of our routes for the better part of a month after I first saw you, but I saw you again within days of returning. At first, I thought you were just one of the Guards on leave from the Gate Outpost.” She said. “But I saw you several more times after that. I know you saw me working some Magics before the dice, too. I just don’t see that as a coincidence now.” Saeli inclined her head. “I don’t know all that much about this world. I know what they taught in our history classes about the Academy and your order of knights, but that is all. Still, I know and invitation to the Academy as it was presented to me is not in the norm.” She said.

Enslen frowned. “The Head Guard is my father, as I said.” He murmured, pointing toward a row of demure looking structures drifting into view. There were barracks on each side of the Academy, occupying one of the larger ringing islands in each cardinal direction. This particular station was the largest and even housed a small church for the worship of the White Goddess, the patron of the Magus Guard. Saeli did not seem to be satisfied with the answer.

“Are you saying it was coincidence then?” she demanded. “I’ll accept that my family may be as safe as you say. I want wholeheartedly for that to be the case. Neither the Academy nor the Guard are known for being light handed when they are compelled to move in punishment.” She said. Saeli steered the boat in toward the beach. “However, I wish to know why you were watching me. To clarify, I am not asking if you were following me. I am asking why you were following me.” Enslen was momentarily unsure of how to reply. In truth, he had not expected her to feel the need to be so fierce. 

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #10 on: November 08, 2016, 07:20:08 pm »
Growing up, when pressed, and it was obvious to anyone present that he was in any kind of distress, Enslen had a habit of simply becoming listless and crumbling to the ground, as a choice. Of course, back then the ground was a  lot closer. At first his friends thought it was odd – it was something he stared long before he had friends, as a shy boy in mother’s arms, shy of new people – and then it became a running joke. During training there was no room for such kind of play, and training was always if you wanted to be formidable without magic in Sabvon. There was no other choice for the son of the Head Magus than to become formidable. So that fainting goat routine had long since left his repertoire of behaviors. If she’d known, Saeli might have seen a slight twitch in his knees – an ancient reflex whenever he did not want to answer.

He shrugged, taking another gulp of the sweet and salt water. He emptied the flask enough that he was getting granular slosh on his tongue. There were people in the guard that would know what to do now. They would be quiet in a hard way at first, perhaps squint through their white fringe and look away, walk heavily, and then gradually engage again, retreating if prodded once more. Enslen accepted those kind of answers, but Saeli already stated she would not. When he lowered his head to look at the railing that kept them, his tired self especially, from tumbling into the water, it was not to shut her out, but rather to find a string of words to practically say to her what she wanted to know.

The vessel came to a stop before he could answer. She’d taken them in smoothly. He didn’t need her help putting boots to the bridge, and there were already a couple of guards and one Caretaker ready to take the boat from them. No need to tie it down. He looked at her as they walked. She did not wear the kind of air that might excuse him from her query. He puffed a short, amused breath through his lips. “I saw you when you and your father were hiding a barrel of Songtail during an inspection. Not sure you noticed me back then, but if you did, that was the first time.” He shrugged as though to address the minor crime. Songtail were a commodity, but not contraband. “Then I saw you hand it to merfolk and your father didn’t want anything for it.”

He smiled at the memory and stopped them. Saeli had been listening intently, enough to be surprised by their halt. He’d said he lived close. Better be close so he could dispatch at any given time. Threats from outside could come by water. “It was amusing to me, usually I would have said something as soon as your father covered the barrel with ripped nets – it’s a common trick I’ve seen many times – but I decided not to. You don’t seem like a malicious crew.” He did not live in any kind of splendor. Surely not in a way that would impress her now that she made her home inside the Academy. It would be an insult to her if he was embarrassed, though. She’d grown up in huts, too. “So I was curious, and the second time I came upon The Windvice I went to see you again, to see if I could see some escalation to  your smuggling, or if I would witness another favor between seafaring friends.” This was embarrassing, though. She’d already painted him as kind of a voyeur.

“This is when Athan was almost crushed by the bones of a Bhema.” Saeli said, looking around quickly before returning her fresh eyes to him. He nodded. He could see that she was mortified. He offered her a chair but she only stood by it. He did sit, and poured himself some water out of a wooden cylinder. A gift from his neighbors for having broken up a skirmish. The material was supposed to turn boiling water into a nutritious drink. He liked the aroma more when it was cold, and couldn’t swear for its health benefits more than that it seemed to open the airways the way all steam does when it is inhaled. He gave her a glass, too.

“Athan? He doesn’t look like a native.” Enslen said. The people usually referred to as natives of The Gate, though not its waters, had a traditionally tan complexion. The youngster almost unmade by the heavy skeleton of the treasured Bhema was rather pale last time Enslen saw him, more so than fear should conjure, and definitely for a life at sea. “I was running out of reflex, but I don’t think I could have reached him if I was twice as close and twice as fast. I remember thinking the boy was going to die on impact, and we would have to try and dig him out.” Saeli did not seem interested in the details. He smiled and drank, starting to feel strong enough to remember his lack of sleep.

“Good thing you didn’t have to.” She said, wrapping her hands around the glass and looking down into the clear, cold broth. She did not seem to linger on that fortune.

“Better thing you were there.” He said. “I know how Bhema bones come apart. They are used in assassin weapons. They’re even used a hilts in some official Guard honorary blades, if their history is clean.” He continued, since she didn’t seem keen to admit. “I clearly saw blue glyphs carving an orb into the folded ribs that fell on him.” he said. “I’m not particularly fond of magic, no offense, and one as ballistic as Misericordia I’d keep an eye on even if I was a budding, blue-eyed scholar.” He refilled his glass. “I don’t know if anyone else saw when the ropes snapped, but the traits of a known Falange appeared, and you were first to help him up once the dust settled.” He couldn’t help but smirk a bit at her. “Not damning proof, but it is hard to connect a Magi to their acts, sometimes. I spoke to my father, who has taught me to be weary of Misericorda, and we went out of our way to put me close to the Windvice.”

He thought it’d be a bit harder confessing, but he suppose he was burying the real interest she’d sparked in him behind this thicker, political plot. In truth, Saeli had his mother’s eyes, and the kind of gumption a friend had held on to, even when she’d been shipped away to represent the Magus at an embassy in Na’arat. “You’re pretty reckless for someone who hadn’t been written in to the Academy.” He teased. “So eventually I had to intervene. I’m sorry I ruined your game, but you were only winning because of your magic.” he said and she was as flushed as he’d expected. She was a bit stressed, having been laid naked in this way, and he was relived she didn’t seem to feel deceived. “Never meant to lie. I was going to tell you, honestly, but I’m glad we got this out of the way sooner rather than later.”

“I…” Saeli tried. She didn’t know what to do with this story. Enslen wouldn’t lie, at least she didn’t think he would, and everything made good sense, what he’d told her. The bones had been a reaction. She wasn’t a hunter, the Windvice wasn’t that kind of ship, but she knew enough about Bhema anatomy to know it could easily crush Athan. She’d imagined the only way he could survive and applied it. In the moment, there had been enough emotional charge to see it happen. Direction of intention. Kaever had said something like it. “Why do you stay weary of Misericorda, particularly?” There were many books she’d not read yet. Kaever hadn’t really encouraged her to rush through the literature.

Enslen leaned back in the chair. He didn’t want to speak badly for her Falange. “It’s very useful. It can do just about anything. Not all magic can do what you did to the Skully.” He explained. Odd, that she picked this part of his story to focus on. He supposed he should be grateful. “The kind of magic that could do great good, but then, the opposite is true.” It was a kind way of putting it. He’d lost half his group to a renegade practitioner before a High Conductor stepped in and redirected the craft long enough for Enslen to spill blood. His blades still sung from the discharge of magic leaving the dying body. They should not have given anyone Misericordia. He prayed to the White Goddess sometimes about it. He blew on his knuckles, thinking of the Guards that had fallen. “It can be a weapon. That’s why I’m weary.” No accusation in his tone, but the syllables were losing their heft. He blinked slowly.

Saeli stood up, yet to take a sip, hands over her mouth. “Oh, I’m sorry.” She said, rounding the table to help him up. He was reluctant to it, here in his own home, but she insisted. It was a Spartan place, with a few hangers where different uniforms were proudly on display. They were a stark contrast to the rest of the simplicity he preferred. Not at home often, she guessed. His bedroom was small, but the bed was large, as was fitting for his frame. He sighed when she put him on the pillow. A blanket over his chest, when she’d removed his jacket. The bandages reminded her of his long night. “I’ll talk to you as soon as possible. Misericordia won’t be a thing of evil in my hands, I promise you.” She declared and turned for the door. She saw that he smiled as he finally nodded away into sleep.

-

Fierro had made his way into Snowfall’s office. This meeting had been long coming. She was not called upon unless it was a good use of her time. Medica had many Caretakers at different strengths and specialties. He’d pushed the persona he knew was gossiped about, and pretended to be awfully vain and entitled. She was beautiful, but he expected her to be, what good was such long youth if it didn’t look good on  you? Otherwise she seemed anything but vain. It was hard to point out just what Nith had in common with Andromeda, though, that made both women dear to Kaever Oblynt. It was always with a bit of bitterness that he looked upon her smooth features and the delicate nose, white skin melding well with her softest storm eyes. The hair was rich, and he wondered if he should also say a spell to make his such a natural auburn.

“Welcome, Argen.” She said and turned in her chair. Her smile was friendly and she stood. With that category of beauty, he could very well see her the cold kind of cruel, too.  The light that came in washed her complexion and her freckles disappeared until she angled her face. “This is about your foot? We can’t have that for a dancer.” He was allowed to sit on the little bed, and he instead took a seat close to the parchment she’d been deep into, on her desk. Whimsy. Hopefully she would go for it. She gave him a charming, chastising tight expression before she sat back down in her chair.

“It’s probably nothing, but I wanted you to have a look. Do you suppose it’s my age? It feels stiff and it radiates through my calf, sometimes.” Really, the left leg that she was lifting into her lap once she let his shoe fall, was in good condition. “I trust the others, but I know you’re better.” He said, and waited for her to light up her palm. It was a searching spell, Medica’s variation of a Search Lantern, an artifact that sometimes helped Whisper Ships find their prey. Nith was intent on the foot and ankle, and he was free to quickly flick the lid open of an old box further away on her workspace, and tuck the content into his robes.

“It’s in perfect condition. This must be in your head, Fierro.” she said and wrapped her fingers around the narrow of the join. He felt a bit of warmth pulse all the way to his thigh. “I gave you some strength but I assure you it is completely unnecessary.” He pushed his foot out of her lap playfully and waved toward the door, holding his eyes. Yes, he could see it in her grin, what Kaever might like in her. How infuriating. “Any stiffness you feel must be in your form, not your body. Practice makes precise.” She said and he gasped dramatically, stepping into his shoe and walking out.

“Well, I won’t be referring anyone here for that insult.” He said, but left a smile on one side of his mouth. She was already tending to the script again.

“See you soon, dancer.” She offered. He closed the door for her.

-

“And you’re telling me this is Kaever?” Solasette asked, holding out a hand for the small pendant. A minuscule bottle. Nobody had thought much of it, a ruby with a cap and a chain, the red shimmering with blue the same way Kaever’s eyes were blue with red lights. But Fierro had overheard some reminiscing not a fortnight ago, between the old friends, and he had reason to believe the bottle was glass, and that it contained the would-be Sire’s blood. A pretty little affection. He’d seen it often on Snowfall and wondered about its origin. In some cultures it was the sign of being wed. He wondered if Kaever had something with Nith’s essence on him.

“I’m telling you it’s quite important you don’t use all of it for your examination. I would simply like the ancestry of this blood.” He said and placed the pendant and folded the chain into Solasette’s waiting grip. To know Kaever’s age, maybe, or even his secret to longevity. “You said you knew someone who could do this. I don’t pry, but I do hope they’re trustworthy.” He added and then rubbed his fine forehead. “Haste would be key, but not at the cost of accuracy.”

“Because you want to return it. I know.” The Marquis said and stood, weighing the jewelry. They looked out of place in the simple room. “How cunning.”

He frowned. “I did not ask for your opinion, Solasette.”

“Fact, not my opinion.”

“Whatever you say.” He gave and walked with Solasette to the door. Their paths divided. “I need something for my ego.” He sighed just before his coconspirator was out of earshot. “Something sweet.”

-

Mirou was sweet. Even in his armor, which was fitted but accented in such a way that it looked slightly big on him. Large eyes and pretty hair of the storm, haphazardly tied back. Limbs like kelp and lips like flowerhead shards. He was good with the bow, better when he folded it to a crossbow, but prolific with daggers. Some called it the Guard’s own magic. Mirou was sometimes sorry his only real contribution except sowing together wounds really well, was death or maiming. It would be hard knowing, looking at the face and the expression that made you want to hurt him and cradle him at the same time. Mirou was sweet.

And it was sweet how he opened his door to then took a few steps back. “Academician Argen.” He breathed and touched his armor over his heart.

“So ceremonious, Guard.” Fierro said and flitted in to circle the suddenly frozen Magus. “Don’t you falter in your throw when I walk by with new cadets on paper for the High Magus? We’re friends already.” he reminded, cruel with a kind voice. “They say you’re sure with your dainty hands. I’ve never seen it.” He closed this door, also.

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #11 on: November 10, 2016, 06:18:14 am »
Chapter III: Searching

Kaever glanced up from his book when Saeli entered the room. She was remarkably light on her feet, though she swore up and down she had not been trained in dance like Master Argen. He was content to blame it on her seamanship. She had told him a few stories about her time on the sea, threading her way through the ship’s rigging and sleeping in the salt air. He liked those stories well enough. They were different from the usual drivel of the Academy. Politicking had never been his preferred pastime anyhow.

He would not have noticed her come if he hadn’t felt her aether flow thicken the air. It was a wonder to him that she’d made it more than twenty years without being hauled into the Academy. Her energy was potent without trying and any decent Magus would have felt it. Perhaps it was that there were not so many decent Magi as Kaever often assumed. She caught his stare and pocketed a small silver item quickly. A blade of some variety, no doubt. “Why do you insist on continuing this?” he asked her curiously. He didn’t mind, honestly. It was just peculiar.

Saeli huffed and pushed her braid over her shoulder. Her hair had gotten quite long. He’d never bothered to ask her why she’d decided against cutting it. “There is a shift in your aether when you heal, but I still can’t replicate it. You say no spells. There is something…” she paused. “It’s aggravating.” She said. “I haven’t learned to heal anything at all.” She said with a furrowed brow. Kaever smirked.

“Of all the things you must fixate on learning, it’s the one thing I can’t impart. Sometimes the healing of one’s self simply comes with the greater mastery of one’s own Magic. The Grand Magus was quite old before he reached such a point.” Kaever suggested. Saeli did not seem convinced.

“But you have always been able to do it, haven’t you?” she asked. He frowned. He hadn’t explicitly told her as much, but it was a good guess. He’d never learned a fear of dying. He had found he disliked lying to those earnest green eyes.

“I suppose.” He said, begrudgingly. Saeli Windvice had been in his home for the better part of two months now. She’d been a model Scholar in most ways, if a bit unrefined in the necessary social spheres. He hadn’t minded that though. She made the long outings and obligatory gatherings a little less predictable and he could appreciate that much. Nith seemed to like the new arrangement as well, finding herself called on less to accompany him to such affairs.

He waved her over. “Well, take out your knife and have on with it.” He said. She hadn’t done anything so drastic as push him down the stairs again, though he’d certainly seen her make expressions that suggested she might be considering it. Saeli stalked over, displeased with the suggestion. “You’re such an odd bird. A nice girl, by any account, and yet you mutilate me for fun.” He sighed. Saeli opened her mouth to protest but he held up a finger. He was not done. “The worst part is, I don’t deserve a bit of it but nobody would believe me if I suggested your bloodlust. Not Saeli, they’d say. Not the sweet, bumbling Vaentatori girl. Even Solasette might come to your rescue on that front.” He peered at her with his carmine shadowed silvers. She was squinting at him, because she knew he was teasing her. This made him grin. “Woe is me.” He concluded.

“It’s not helpful if you’re expecting it. The shift is even faster then.” Saeli complained. “Later, maybe.” She mumbled. Kaever laughed and stood, setting his book down on a side table. “It’s not like I do it for fun. I’m trying to learn. What’s the point of being under your tutelage if I can’t surpass you?” she asked, a little cheeky though the underlying sentiment was honest. He hadn’t been surprised to find her so eager. That tenacity had been obvious from the moment he’d met her. She’d had the look of a woman out to prove her place. She had the heart to do it for her family, too. She spoke often of her father and less so of her brother, though both names were impressed with equal sentiment. What had been a pleasant surprise was her ambition.

“Well, you have a lot to learn before you take over the Falange, Windvice.” He chided. Saeli shrugged.

“You’ve got to officially become our Sire before I can take the position from you, right?” she asked. Kaever gave her a nasty sort of look, though it didn’t reach his eyes. He was still unwilling to admit it, but he’d become fond of her company and was the sort of pupil that most Conductors would find satisfyingly inspiring.

“Stop talking to Nith, would you?” he said dryly. “If you’re not going to try and attack me, it’s time for you to get to work. I’ll be gone for the morning, but you are to stay here and study. Your execution of Magic is becoming more refined, though I’m not sure I can say the same of your manners. You must continue your study of glyphs and spells for more complicated executions of Misericordia.” He told her. Saeli sighed, but nodded. He inclined his head. “What’s your disagreement, Saeli?” he asked. She seemed to deflate a bit.

“I’ve been trying, you know. Everyone here is nice enough, superficially, but it hardly matters if I educate myself on the latest trade dealings or Academy outfits being sent here or there. They’re all like Solasette, but less honest about it.” She said. Kaever was taken aback.

“It was a jest you know. Your manners are fine enough if your conversation is held delicately. Respect is what matters, even if it’s given over grudgingly.” He said. Kaever wasn’t one to comfort her often, which wasn’t to say she’d often looked in need of comfort. Still, he did feel a small bit displeased that his joke had fallen so hard on her. “Your Magic matters more, right now. Eventually, the court will move around you rather than the other way around.” Saeli laughed.

“I understand, really. I’m here for Windvice more than anything else. If I make them proud, the rest doesn’t matter. My family derserves this as much as any other noble family. I am my father’s daughter and my Magic is enough for us.” She said. “Maybe it’s just a bit tiring, having to prove myself by taking my tea properly.” Kaever shook his head.

“Sounds to me as if you’ve been spending too much time with that Stormer and his Mer friend. Certainly, you do not deserve any discrimination, but there is a fine reason for the elevated place of Magi in the kingdoms and at the Academy. We earn it with our servitude. Your family will wear your name. It is not the other way around anymore.” He said blandly. Saeli flushed.

“I didn’t mean to belittle the responsibilities of—“ she started, but Kaever gestured her silent.

“I know what you meant. It was all in jest to begin with, anyhow. It seems a day cooped up here studying will be good for your nerves either way.” He said with a tart grin. Saeli nodded slowly. Kaever Oblynt’s heraldry had hung in the Academy’s record halls for as long as anyone could remember. Other Oblynts had come through on occasion, cousins and their children and so forth, but none with Kaever’s talent nor his longevity. He’d not even mentored the last several generations to move through the Falange. Still, for all his lackadaisical habits, he wore the name proudly. As if his years of servitude in the Academy had given him ownership of it. Saeli saw a certain intensity in his stare when any such matters arose, and she had thought it better to leave it unquestioned.

It didn’t help that he’d yet to find any fondness for Enslen, nor the Guard for him.

“I’ll be going then.” He said. Saeli watched him go. She didn’t feel the need to apologize, but she disliked the way he’d left her all the same. She took  to the ladders after the door closed behind her, scaling the shelves of books in search of a few interesting tomes she’d spotted on her last day of reading. When the books were out of reach, she drew them out and to her with the gentlest inclination. He was a talented teacher, even if he frustrated her. It had helped, too, that she’d begun to use her Magic with the expected regularity of a real Academy Scholar. Saeli felt she’d met herself in a new way, since she’d come under Conductor Oblynt’s mentorship. Her Magic was an extension of herself, and that brought a peaceful confidence she’d not realized she’d been lacking. She thought she should thank him, from time to time, and then remembered the way he’d plucked her from the tower like it was his duty and soured on the sentiment.

Marquis Solasette was waiting outside of Kaever’s suites when he exited, dressed from head to toe in pristine white brocades and pearl embellishments with a volto inlaid with copper geometries. Beside the Marquis was a less flamboyant companion that Kaever had never met. The man bowed slightly. “Conductor Oblynt, I’m so very glad you were able to meet me.” Solasette said with a quick and practiced bob of their knees. “I had desperately wanted you to meet my friend here: Sovi, an Emir of Na’arat.” Solasette said.

Kaever bowed in return. “Emir Sovi, it’s a pleasure.” He said, though his gaze never left the Marquis. Solasette was never desperate for anything. “To what do we owe the honor?” he asked. Solasette smiled behind their mask.

“The Emir was recently presented to the dear Lady Leona. We met when she brought him with her to a dinner we had arranged.” Solasette hummed. Kaever glanced at Sovi. The man was handsome to a fault, he saw. A Na’arat prize then. Kaever found the practice rather distasteful, in his own estimation, but he had learned long ago to keep such opinions to himself. Lavender-grey eyes and a curling mane of dark hair, Sovi’s inherently striking features were a curious contrast to Solasette’s carefully sculpted extravagance. “Anyhow, let us walk. I don’t want us to be late to breakfast. The bakers have been putting out the bread earlier lately, I’m certain. It’s never quite as warm as I want it if I’m just a minute too late.” Solasette fretted in the way that suited them best. The Marquis was proud of frivolity and wore it so well it was almost admirable.

As they walked, Solasette kept unusually near to Kaever. “Sovi told me a wonderful story the other evening and, I’ll confess, my eagerness to see you this morning is because the Emir was kind enough to agree to convey the tale to you.” They said. Kaever furrowed his brow. He was well aware the Marquis had more purpose than an exciting story and he was compelled to demand it of them simply to avoid the rest of Solasette’s inevitable dancing around the heart of the matter. In his favor, and to the Marquis’ immediate and obvious disappointment, Sovi was quick to explain.

“The Marquis told me that my story reminded them of someone whom you lost contact with and thought that you would be eager to hear of her. I must admit, High Conductor, if the Marquis is correct your past acquaintance is most assuredly the most terrifying and beautiful woman I have ever laid eyes on.” The Emir confessed. Kaever stopped in his tracks. There was only one such soul the Marquis and the Emir could be speaking of. The muscles in his jaw worked with some tension.

“Andromeda.” He said at last. The Marquis began to laugh.

“Well, there goes my surprise. Now then, let’s have our breakfast and hear Sovi’s story. She sounds like a ghost in the ruins of Thu. It’s almost poetic, isn’t it?” Solasette said. Kaever acquiesced stiffly. For a moment, he felt a deep sympathy for Saeli. There were occasions were the most reasonable course of action really did seem like thrashing the Marquis through every ring of hell. At least his Scholar had been kind enough to damage the building rather than Solasette’s bones.     

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2016, 06:47:38 pm »
It was a task for Kaever to smile as he walked by the pair. He avoided this kind of weaving through the social fabric exactly because it was so hard to stomach. Still, the morning was good and his usual place, a spacious corner by the window overlooking a garden where some of Nith’s best nettles and herbs were grown, was free. He didn’t have to quarrel over seating often, but was sometimes a bit bothered when someone new had laid claim to the spot. He couldn’t be sure, but Solasette seemed a bit more pert than usual being lead to the table which he had unspoken claim to. He held out two chairs for them, if Sovi was taught in etiquette – which someone must have taken the time to do, since he seemed too well groomed – he could read from the gesture that there was affection but very little ceremony. Hopefully he’d take this to account when telling the story. No doubt Solasette had imparted another air. The Marquis sat down slowly, feigning ignorance of the inconvenience, and Sovi was deft and light-footed with the same action. Kaever pretended he wasn’t thinking up ballistic magics to snuff the mask and its owner.

“You must be quite someone, to have this table at your leisure when it is so busy. To think someone could have such standing in The Academy itself.” Sovi complimented. Kaever nodded, pretending to be flattered.

“It is like it is with trees. I am old. I am set in my ways. This café has kind enough staff to understand this.” Modesty, because a prize from Na’arat would surely expect it. It was in Kaever’s interest that Sovi like him.

“And he takes breakfast by himself, usually.” Solasette injected, waving a waiter in. He was already holding a pitcher and three cups on his tray. Sovi was kind enough to help and Solasette had no intention of doing so whatsoever. After some small talk with the tea, and Kaever insisting on the freshest breads and their platter best served with it – he suspected Solasette would like both marmalade and butter – their southern guest inhaled in a way that was very pleasant. Misericordia was already stirring inside him, fueled by the frustration and the expression Solasette was surely making under that adorned mask, it was very timely the person on loan decided to speak.

“Well, Conductor Oblynt…” Sovi started.

“High Conductor.” The Marquis corrected, silver spoon up to cut the sentence with the dull edge. Kaever held out two fingers to Solasette beside him, and it was a rather aggressive gesture, more than he’d intended. The silence behind the mask was either smug to have elicited the reaction, or insulted. Kaever looked forward, across, to beckon lavender and silver with his azure and blood. Sovi nodded.

“I was with my mistress Aqy, she is half Amwan, and we were being carried in our convoy.” Sovi started. Kaever imagined Ecraia men, four of them. The Amwu were terribly rich, and liked to invest in prizes. Sovi didn’t seem to give his mode of transportation with any kind of shame, but surely he was the same as the muscle purchased at a lower price. “Her mother, an Awan trader, always sees to that we have good guards. Not your Magus, but truly formidable Uesilor. I have never felt unsafe with them, and I call many of them my friends.” Kaever nodded with the kind of impressed approval Sovi surely expected from such an obvious boast of his benevolence.

“You see, High Conductor, I was chatting away with my mistress, and right outside the walls we could hear the signal, clicks of teeth – a highly unsettling sound – that marked our guards saw it fit for us to be careful. Aqy is an exceptionally brave and progressive mistress, so she paid it little heed.” Kaever would not point out that not listening to signals from trained guards was neither brave nor progressive. “But soon we could hear rustles in the forest.”

“Where was this, Sovi?” Kaever demanded.

“Oh, I’m sorry. This was in Ehandor, but close to Ekssen. Aqy likes the air.” When Kaever did not press further, Sovi continued, correcting his swell of hair as though it needed it. “I am not sure about my military terms, but I like to say we travel with a mid-sized army.” When Solasette joined in on the small laughter that erupted prettily from Sovi’s upturned head, Kaever was left to assume that phrasing had been part of the story when the Marquis had heard it, also. “Fifty men or so, all of them well quipped for most situations. Well, not today. I heard a something between a gargle and a scream, and Aqy had me stick my head out.” Some silence, to choose the right words. Kaever wanted to pull them from his throat.

“What did you see, Sovi?” he pressed.

“I saw, just as I looked out, how tentacles of blood reached out of one Uesilan’s chest, armor wrung open from the inside. I saw blue tendrils and a language I’ve never seen follow like writ in the wake of that blood. He fell to the ground as though his soul had gone out of him.”

“Misericordia.” It was an intricate use of it, too, definitely not something you could do in a frenzy. Sovi nodded.

“As far as I could tell, then. I had it confirmed later. But I am better at telling people, and I saw a crescent of Hysian warriors in their black, sporadic armor. But they weren’t attacking, they were only watching!” he took a sip of the tea and rolled a bit of bread between his fingers. Kaever looked at Solasette as though they were responsible for this dramatic retelling. The mask betrayed nothing. “In the middle… Oh, High Conductor. In the midd…”

“Say it.” Kaever said between his teeth and it jolted Sovi out of his thespian pace.

“She was wild but her face was pure, the kind of person who would do monstrous things and you’d never believe it.” Kaever nodded with recognition as Sovi continued. “I’ve never seen such warfare. The Amwan arrows became dust when they hit the blue light she was emitting, and her half long hair danced in whatever turbulence her power had. The guards ran at her with spears. I saw one of them go farther than anyone else was allowed to, as though she was inviting him through her shield. He tried to lance her. She held on to the metal and didn’t bleed, and the glyphs traveled down the shaft until they exploded out in sharp edges, impaling him.

The rest did not have a chance. She would use great arches of sigils, and drag them like blades through the armor and flesh of the swordsmen. Votto, a former Magus, was able to avoid some of the projectiles she conjured and she had this amused smile. He pressed close, she produced a concave shield, blue as the rest of her weapons, to deflect his knife, and then used the shield to open him across, from shoulder to hip.” Kaever lowered his head and looked down into the purple tea. He’d warned her never to use protective magic for violence. Sovi took word again, and the magi had to look up. “And when everything was bleeding or severed, she walked into the rich forest, and the Hysian came in and knelt in the red puddles and kissed the limbs and bodies.” A tear grew fat on the pretty eyes, and then Sovi cried the single token down his cheek. Theatrical, but impressive. “There has been some rumors about the Hys around Ekssen, but never like this. I never believed… Ah, well, that’s not the point of the story. Not why the Marquis told me to tell you, anyway.”

Kaever turned his head to Solasette who continued work on their damned bread. “Then please do tell, Sovi.” He encouraged, leaning back.

“Well, I see now, looking at you, why this might hold your interest. You see, I was mistaken in assuming that everyone inside the litter, including my mistress Aqy and I, had been spared. The bearers were strong, and I took their steadiness for granted, but suddenly we were on the ground, ruffled. Something had cut them down. The other servants surrounded Aqy and I hid in a corner according to her orders. When the cloth that protected us was shredded, I was covered and didn’t know what to do but watch through a cut in the fabric. The woman spun a few times, her magic extended, and all too easily stripped the heap of bodies around Aqy layer by layer. It was such efficient mayhem, High Conductor. Such a weapon, Misericordia.

But at the end of it, when she tore the last, clinging servant from Aqy, and lifted an arm, encircled in the blue script, she froze.” Sovi breathed and stared at Kaever. Kaever thought he looked more horrified than he should. “Aqy was wearing charms. She’s expected to look her best, and through magic her hair was silver and her skin was smooth, and her lips were a faded blush.” He said. Kaever brushed his own mouth. “And her eyes—she’d chosen to have them…”

“Blue with red reflections.” Kaever said. Sovi nodded.

“Yes! The woman with the flawless murdering technique just stood there for a moment, making Aqy beg for her life, unseemly, and then the woman went away. The wreck of our litter was invaded by the Hysian. They weren’t aggressive, they only suckled on the dead.”

“Young. Or else they could have drawn with touch or even thought.” Kaever said, slumping in his chair.

“I thought you would find this interesting.” Solasette said, smearing crust with preserved fruit. Kaever stood, not having taken a bite.

“Well. I thank you both. Sovi, Solasette.”

“I hope I haven’t upset…” Sovi tried, but Kaever was already leaving.

-

Mirou sobbed. It was a little breath, and more to gather himself than to express sadness or take comfort. He had an appropriately lithe body, infinitesimal waist, and well defined sternum stacking pretty smiles down his chest where he lie, exhausted on the little bed. His hair coiled over his forehead to scatter over one eye, and it complimented his swollen lips well. A tear joined the sweat on his temple and he looked up into his ceiling, his stomach humming in that charming, lewd way. How indignant that Fierro had him thread one lonely boot on. Was this a desecration to his uniform?

“Can’t we have a friendship that doesn’t make me blush?” he asked, making to sit up but whimpering to then roll on his chest instead. Fierro already had his pants on, smiling kindly at the slighter man.

“Oh, you little liar. Didn’t you ask?” Fierro reminded. Mirou stirred to betray his intentions to sit again. This time he didn’t get too far before remembering.

“I didn’t ask… I mean, I just wanted you to come and read with me, honest.” That blush again, that burned the inside of his nose, as though he was going to cry.

“How long have I been visiting you? How many words have I read? You say you’re innocent, but you’re far too lovely to be.” Fierro kissed a shoulder blade, lashing the other with his hair in the motion, and then he stood up straight, tying the tunic around his body with the belt. He was about to say something else to torture his beloved sport, but there was chime inside his earring. “Ah, saved by a beacon, Guard.” He said. Again, Mirou tried to sit, this time with some more success. It earned him a kiss on the lips, and then the dancer went away fast, and with quiet, long strides.

-

Fierro was not so chipper when Kaever had the scroll filled in and signed, waiting for him. "You're going to Na'arat? Through the Spire?" he asked, voice more pitched than usual. Kaever had a light about him, a purpose. His eyes weren't reading the walls or the details of the interior looking for amusement. They were burning Fierro's face, waiting for him to accept the motion and put them in que. "The reason is a bit vague. You're going to study the recent activity of The Hys. I'm sure they would like more detail."

"There have been murmurs about The Hys in Na'arat recently, you know that, you've gossiped about it. Given their history, perhaps someone should mediate and make sure they don't get the short end of the stick for another century. I always bring back good accountings. The Academy won't fight this." Kaever said. Fierro felt uncomfortable with the hard tone and put the paper down on his desk. Kaever knew something, it seemed, but not the entire truth, or he would have come here with anger more pointed. What had Solasette done? They'd talked about speaking to Kaever. But not even Solasette knew.

"Ah, well. I'll see what I can do." he promised, trying to lift Kaever's lips with his own smile. It didn't work.

"Please do it soon."

There was no time to protest before the insistent guest was out the door, leaving only Fierro and a thick atmosphere.

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #13 on: November 14, 2016, 01:08:44 am »
Kaever’s steps did not fully contact the ground as he went, a thin wisp of Misericordia flowing outward from him, snaking aether so that he was propelled forward and upward. He looked like a gliding phantom in grey as he went and the High Conductor drew even more attention than he usually did. He wasn’t one to show off without good reason and such a display was uncharacteristic. In general, he couldn’t be bothered to participate in that kind of pageantry.

He traveled the halls to the south sanctum, called Dawn Split, and burst through the doors without pause. There, the spiraling heights of the Academy’s precious Spire pierced the sky with its ivory fingers. The doors slammed shut as loudly as they had banged open. Dawn Split was quiet, magnifying Kaever’s ruckus with the contrast. The few Academicians in the large space all stopped what they were doing to look up at him. He flowed toward the base of the Spire and, for once, looked like the Sire of Misericordia he was supposed to be.

The passage into the opalescent spire was a whirling portal of misty white. Kaever stepped through quickly, a rippled of fog spilling outward and over the arc of the portal, translating into a ripple of energy that swirled around the circumference of the Spire and then spiraled upward. It was barely visible, like the fluctuations of the air in a heat wave. Still, it reverberated through the room and sang like a deep bell. It wasn’t unlike the sound of Saeli’s energy, though this resonated in an ancient sort of way.

Within the Spire, the air had a substance to it that laid heavy on his shoulders and seemed to crackle like fragile layers of ice as he moved. Time was slower here. A series of concentric rings with intermittent spacing shifted at a repeating interval, like a clock, though the degree of each shift was unpredictable and created a rapidly moving labyrinth toward the center of the Spire. In general, intention could draw the spirit of Magi forward and send their spectral presence through the fabric of the Spire. Weaving through the labyrinth by will, the spectral form would reach the center and then flume upward and out of the pinnacle of the Spire into the pinnacle of another. Like diving into a reflection and plunging down, then, the specter could arrive at any of the other Spires in Sabvon.

This time, Kaever was not interested in traveling by Spire. Though he was one of the few elites who had mastered transference of his physical form between Spires, crossing the Spectral Bridge with flesh and bone, his present aim was within the confines of this structure. He moved swiftly as the rings shifted, levitating forward and moving through the layers with the sort of finesse that Fierro the dancer would have surely envied.

Kaever arrived at the gilded sphere suspended at the physical core of the Spire. “Grand Magus,” He said, staring up at the sphere from where he stood beneath it. “Grand Magus, grant me audience.” Kaever waited. The gold sphere began to rotate. Slowly, and then faster, until another fog-obscured portal had been revealed. White tendrils reached from its depths and poured down over Kaever, pooling and swirling around him until he was wrapped in the thick mist. He felt himself drawn upward and into the sphere.

When the fog settled out, dissipating as quickly as it had descended, Kaever found himself in the subdued quarters of the Grand Magus himself. He had been here before, more than most any other Magus in the Academy if he had to wager. But then, he had been alive longer than most any other Magus in the Academy. For all the thick Magic outside, flowing and filling the Spire and its rotating walls, this room was remarkably plain. “High Conductor Oblynt. Kaever. It’s been a while.” The voice came from everywhere at once, pressing against his skin. Seated in a high-backed chair, the Grand Magus sat serenely with his bony hands folded carefully in his lap. He looked frail, milky-eyed with long coils of snowy hair mixing into the exultant lengths of his silvered beard. Kaever remembered when that face had looked younger, but not by much.

“I apologize.” Kaever amended, which earned a curious inclination of the old man’s head.

“And yet, you’ve brought none of your usual wit with you. You Aether is heavy and Misericordia sings around you today. What has flustered you so, Oblynt?” he asked, though his lips did not move. The Grand Magus was the greatest practitioner of Aetheria that Sabvon had ever seen, bending the purest essence of Magic into forms that imitated the refined talents of all the Falanges. Kaever frowned.

“I’m here to confirm a rumor.” He said. The Grand Magus smiled lightly.

“This truly is an unusual visit. You know very well that I do not tend to indulge such requests.” He said. Kaever stepped toward the Grand Magus. “However, I imagine you aren’t bringing idle gossip to my quarters, High Conductor. I will listen to your request.” The Grand Magus said.

“I believe Academician Andromeda Lintail was recently sighted in Na’arat. If this were truly the case, I am certain that something would have reached your ears.” Kaever said. “I have heard nothing of that woman for years, and yet this report reeks of her.” He said. The Grand Magus was quiet for a long moment.

“If I were to tell you that what you had heard was true, what would you do, Kaever?” The Grand Magus asked. Kaever shifted. It was answer enough, but one did not simply leave the audience of the Grand Magus without being dismissed, even if it had been Kaever himself who’d demanded that audience.

“She is still my responsibility, whether she or I particularly care for that arrangement.” Kaever said slowly. “I will travel by Spire to Na’arat and find her.” He said. The Grand Magus did not seem to care for that answer. Kaever’s frown deepened. He had, at least, answered.

“By Spire?” The Grand Magus’ voice reverberated throughout the room. Kaever nodded, though the milky eyes surely did not see it. “What of your new Scholar? Surely she cannot travel by Spire with you. It would be negligent of you to leave here here.” The Grand Magus continued. Kaever began to protest, but the Grand Magus lifted a hand to silence him before he’d formed his first word. “You took her under your tutelage, just as you took in Andromeda.” There was a thick sense of disapproval in his omnidirectional voice, seeping into Kaever’s pores.

“It is my duty to seek out Andromeda.” Kaever said. He grit his teeth. “Grand Magus, you cannot intend that I leave this possibility uninvestigated. Andromeda is skilled in her Magic and has been unaccounted for for years. Would you leave it so? Such oversight by the Academy would be—“ he gasped and gurgled, a sudden spout of dark blood from his lips. The Grand Magus was standing. Kaever clasped his hands to his throat, which had been split wide by a blade of pure aether. The air in the room was thick.

“You overstep your place, High Conductor.” The Grand Magus’ voice rippled. Kaever wheezed, pink spittle on his lips as he doubled forward. Even as the Grand Magus was speaking, new flesh wove itself across Kaever’s spilling throat, repairing what had been gutted open. He stared up at the old Magus. “You disrespect the Academy in your haste, so now you will listen without rebuttal.” The cataract-filmed eyes burned with a radiant blush light. “I would not deny your duty, nor will I deny that I have heard reports that have led me toward the same conclusion as you. Andromeda Lintail is in Na’arat. The reports have not been peaceful.” The Grand Magus held Kaever’s chin in one of his cold palms. “However, you mock me if you aim to fool me the way you choose to fool yourself. You do not seek that woman out of duty.” Kaever’s breathing had steadied, and he swallowed away the taste of iron on his tongue. It was as if he had not bled at all, save the ruby spatter on his chin and blooming on the collar of his robe.

“I mean no disrespect, Grand Magus.” Kaever said stiffly, still hunched where he stood. He had, perhaps, been too brash. The Grand Magus had never been gentle with Kaever, which the High Conductor had never found issue with. Nonetheless, it had certainly been years since he’d had his blood spilt by the Academy’s venerable leader.

“You will seek out your old pupil and rectify the situation. However, you will do so in the fashion that is your obligation. You will not leave Saeli Windvice to carry on her study along. You have made the same commitment to this woman as the one you wish to chase. Furthermore, you will be accompanied by a Guard. To send two of Misericordia after a danger within their own Falange would be foolish.” The Grand Magus returned to his chair, settling carefully. Kaever stood upright and then bowed to acquiesce. It would not be wise to argue the matter. The residual burn of the Grand Magus’ aether in his throat dared him to try again.

“As you wish.” Kaever said quietly. He had no desire to bring Saeli Windvice anywhere near Andromeda. Lady Lintail had always been unpredictable. To place ballistic Saeli before the other woman was a curious sort of cataclysm begging to happen, on one side or another. Windvice would certainly argue that his misgivings were unfair; she had resented his doubt of her control from the start. All aside, he had no desire to bring anyone near Andromeda. Certainly not in his own presence. Kaever sneered at the thought.

“You will go by ship, as neither your Scholar nor a Guard will be able to travel by Spire. I shall have Academician Argen burn your request.” The Grand Magus said in the sort of tone that belied any of his earlier offense. Kaever winced at the words. The trip to Na’arat was over a week by ship, as the trip through the Gate was two days itself. Andromeda might be long disappeared by then. As it stood, Emir Sovi had seen his wayward student at least a month prior to relaying the tale to Solasette. The Grand Magus did not seem to believe she had left the southern kingdom, but there was nothing to imply she intended to remain.

“As you wish.” Kaever repeated. The Grand Magus nodded where he perched, seemingly satisfied. His mood, however, had not lightened.

“Proceed cautiously, High Conductor. You are not the impartial soul you like to play at.” The Grand Magus said, leaning back against the ornate rise of his chair. He closed his eyes. It was a dismissal, in its own way. Kaever was bound to the essence of these formalities, even if neither he nor the Grand Magus observed them strictly in one another’s presence. It was a tenuous dance whenever they met, sometimes old friends and sometimes stacked in strict order.

“You have my word, Grand Magus.” Kaever said as he was wrapped in the flow of the portal’s fog, which had opened up beneath him.


VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #14 on: November 14, 2016, 01:09:42 am »
-

Saeli looked startled when Kaever entered his library, at first because he was fairly certain he’d caught her deeply concentrated and then because she saw the blood soaked into his collar. “Kaever?” she was on her feet in an instant, green eyes wary as she approached him. He was sure she was anxious. She would not have spoken so informally otherwise. He waved her off quickly.

“Just a misunderstanding,” he explained. “Certainly nothing you should concern yourself with. You very obviously know better.” Kaever said dryly, nodding at her pocket where he knew she kept a blade tucked. She had, after all, been intent on drawing blood herself that very morning.

“But who..?” Saeli began, reaching as if she thought to touch the fabric of his robe and then stopping herself. He stared at her curiously for a moment.

“I didn’t know you’d grown so fond of me, Lady Windvice. What with all of your poorly motivated violence.” He sighed, though he did try a small smile for her. He did not wish for her to worry. If she worried she would pry with questions. For her part, Saeli flushed with annoyance.

“It’s hardly fondness, Conductor. However, an enemy of yours ought to be an enemy of mine.” She said. “Though, you still have not answered me.” Saeli insisted. He remembered when she’d let him pick which questions he answered. He’d liked that better. It hadn’t taken her long to become doggedly insistent, though, and he was positive that that propensity wasn’t likely to change with her growing self-assuredness here. He supposed it was good she was finding her place, at least.

“The Grand Magus.” He said, and the smirked when her face grew pale. “We’re quite friendly. We’ve known one another a long time. I assure you, the Grand Magus would not bloody just any old High Conductor.” He said, fingering the stained edge of his robe. “Now then, how have your studies been progressing? I had planned to teach you a new incantation today.” He said and hoped he sounded businesslike. He would make preparations for a ship tonight and deliver the news to Saeli when the plans had been laid.

For the moment, he had no desire to explain their upcoming journey. In truth, when it came time, he wasn’t sure what it was he ought to tell her. He had not breathed Andromeda’s name since the woman had disappeared, until today. There was simply nothing he could think of to explain to Saeli that not entail dredging up a good deal he’d been content to leave deeply buried. Kaever sighed, which earned him a peculiar look from the dark-haired Scholar. He wondered what Nith might tell him he ought to do, and was displeased with the obvious solution. 

“I found a tome with glyphs detailing the construction of perimeter illusions. I was reading that, and I found it was notated quite extensively. It was very informative, the extra notes, though I don’t recognize it as your script.” Saeli said, holding out the large book she’d been reading from. Kaever pressed his lips together tightly. Such was fate, he supposed, that Saeli would also reach out to touch Andromeda this day. He nodded.

“It isn’t my script. Those are notations from a previous Scholar under my tutelage, many years ago.” He said with an expression that implied the detail was fairly irrelevant. Saeli seemed content to take it as such. “Come, we will go to the tower and practice what you have learned and apply it to some reasonable spell weaving.” He said. She nodded.

“Okay. Did you… want to clean up?” she asked. Kaever seemed not to understand for a moment, then realized she was referring to his bloodied robe. It was hardly necessary, but he supposed it would be best. It was too easy to become the heart of this rumor or that. Kaever agreed with her and left to his private room to change quickly.

He rather regretted the Academy had changed so much. That was not to say the institution wasn’t still necessary and a great boon to the kingdoms of Sabvon, but power concentrated and then left idle is prone to fester. Kaever had been among the earliest generations of Magi to join the Academy. He had not been involved in its formation, but he was quick to join. At that time, there was no ego in joining the Academy. A kept life under the watch of the Guard, provisioned with all the resources to nurture a Magus’ Magic. In exchange, they would aid all the kingdoms of Sabvon with equal allegiance. But, family heraldry had ties to their homelands and it wasn’t more than a generation of Magi before the politicking began. Between houses, between Falanges, between factions, between kingdoms. The number of agendas was limitless. Now, amidst it all and the rest, there was still room for irreverent gossip. It was inefficient and uninteresting to him and decidedly least palatable when his own name swirled to the center of any of it.

Equal allegiance had been a nice sentiment, but a naïve one as well. The second, and current, Grand Magus was not quite so idealistic. He knew the Sapien heart for what it was; inherently selfish and generally insufferable. It had made him more forgiving of the follies that distracted the Academy and for that grace the collection of Magi had remained willing to set aside differences when the Grand Magus chose to set a course. Kaever had gone quite the opposite route. He simply found all of it tiring. The Grand Magus was a greater man than he in many ways.

He adjusted his fresh collar, stained robes cast onto his large bed. He had elected for darker clothes, as if there was the distinct possibility of more bloodshed and he was disinclined to soil more cloth. Soft, charcoal grey wool constructed his shirt and a black brocade vest sat close to his chest. It gave his light features a curiously ethereal look, though his expression was not quite so angelic. His uncle had said once he had the face of a cruel beauty and it was well he couldn’t be bothered to act on it.

Kaever returned to Saeli in his fresh attire and found her prepared to go. They walked at an easy pace toward the tower. Saeli was eager, he could tell, because she was fidgeting with the clasp on the tome as they walked.

She was eager to practice. Saeli had not been allowed to practice with the other Magi of similar station due to her incident in the very tower they were now headed toward. At first, she had been angry but quickly found benefit in reserving her practice for Kaever. Under Conductor Oblynt, there was never any need to hold back. She was relieved that she could look forward to working in the tower just a few short months since she’d made a fool of herself there. “Conductor, I asked Enslen if I could practice with him the other day, and he told me that it was forbidden,” she started. Kaever glanced at her.

“You know very well that’s not allowed. I told you quite specifically that you are to exercise your Magic, beyond rudimentary telekinetics, with me alone.” He said slowly. Saeli opened and closed her mouth, considering a retort. He had said that, she realized, but that hadn’t been the purpose of her question. Enslen had denied her anyway, so it wasn’t as if she’d gone against his wishes.

“That’s not what I was getting at.” She said at last, deciding to ignore his slight sour. He rolled his eyes at her.

“Saeli Windvice, it is no wonder your Magical control is lacking when you cannot even control your personal impulses.” He said. Saeli huffed.

“I have not lapsed in control since the day we met.” She began.

“Which is only to say you have not given up more control. You should know better than to begin that argument with me by this point in your studies.” He corrected. Saeli remained silent. He was correct, in that she had learned she had never contained her Magic deeply. Misericordia ran through her, filling her being and bubbling just below the surface. She had not known that to be anything but natural before she’d come here. Magic was supposed to come forth like releasing a deep breath, contained at the core of one’s being and expanding with a directed release of Aether. For Saeli, there was no containment beyond a lack of direction. She held it in check well enough, but Nith had told her that any sensitive Magus in Aetheria or Misericordia could tell simply by standing her presence that she did not control her Magic so much as hold it loosely at bay.

“You were getting at, I suppose, a question regarding the rules governing the Magus Guard and the Magi.” Kaever said, hooking his fingers behind his back as they walked. Saeli nodded. “He is correct. Though they are trained in deflecting Magic and possess a remarkable resistance to it, they are not the ideal study partners you must be envisioning.” He said. “If you were to learn the methods by which a Magus Guard deflected your Magic, he would be at a disadvantage should you need to be struck down.” Kaever said, and there was coolness to his tone that Saeli found unfamiliar.  He fixed her with his rose-shadowed moons. “You do understand the Guard is here to protect the rest of Sabvon from us as much as they are here to protect our interests. Rather, I would argue they are here primarily to protect the rest of Sabvon from us.” He said.

Saeli tugged on her braid. “I suppose I should have thought of that.” She said. Kaever didn’t feel she looked as guilty as he thought she ought to, for going against his instruction. Or, at least, for attempting to. It annoyed him, but he said nothing more of it. If he were honest about it, he was more annoyed that Saeli seemed intent on continuing to seek out the Magus Guard Enslen whenever she had the opportunity.

“Did you have any other confessions, before we go in?” he asked dryly, pressing his fingers to the prism on the tower gate. The sprite hummed, the gate folded in, and the door swung open.  Saeli shook her head and passed through the door ahead of him. They took the spiraling staircase up to the room Saeli had first met her Conductor. He shut the door behind them and scratched his chin. “Today, we work with illusion, so I will not place a barrier.” He said. In case she began to tear the place apart again, he meant, which she did not appreciate. She held back the scowl though. As he had reminded her, she knew very well his caution was well placed. Her ego was not a factor in his training.

Saeli unclasped the tome. “Today, I have been studying these glyphs,” she said, holding the page out to him. He studied her face briefly. Earnest and eager, always. She looked young for her age, and he wondered if she’d realized it played well to her girlish charm when her eyes lit up with what he was beginning to understand as a characteristic determination. He looked over the page and saw Andromeda’s curling script alongside the coiling glyphs. He gave her a vague smile.


VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #15 on: November 14, 2016, 01:10:23 am »
-

Saeli was confused when she woke; the sharp rap on her door was unfamiliar. Still, she rolled out of her bed with a start and snatched her blade off of the table as she swept toward the door. She threw it open and thrust the knife out. A morning routine at this point, between herself and Conductor Oblynt. Enslen caught her wrist and shoved his thumb against the tendon there so that the blade clattered to the floor before she had fully registered it was not Kaever at the doorway. She gasped. “Enslen!” she took a step back, blinking. “What are you doing here?” she asked. He arched a brow.

“Conductor Oblynt did not inform you?” he asked. She straightened, shaking her head. “Ah. How inconvenient.” He said, then paused. “Why did you try to stab me?” he said, bending to pick up her knife. Saeli flushed.

“Well it’s just that, ah, you see, Conductor Oblynt’s ability to channel Misericordia to heal… as his student I wish to learn the skill but he insists learning such things is the realm of Medica and—“ she trailed off. It sounded ludicrous, attempting to explain it to him. “I can feel a shift in Mistericordia when he is injured and I wish to replicate it.” She said. Enslen twirled the blade between his fingers.

“Which is why you attack him?” he asked, perplexed. Saeli waved her hands at him urgently.

“It’s not like that. I just want to learn and he… doesn’t mind it…” she folded her arms across her chest. “Why are you in Conductor Oblynt’s suites?” she demanded again.

“I came to get you, because I thought you’d want to see the ship, though now I must wonder if you’ve been told anything at all.” Enslen said, shifting awkwardly. Saeli frowned.

“It seems that I have not.” She said. Enslen made a face, uninspired to hand off the inconvenient news. He’d been in poor form over receiving it himself.

“We are to accompany your Conductor Oblynt on an expedition to Na’arat. I received word of it from my father, who was instructed by the Grand Magus himself. I had come to assist you in collecting your personal belongings when I was told you would be accompanying us.” He cleared his throat. “Which was good news, I should add. I would have been significantly less excited to accompany that pompous ass… that is… I would have been less excited to accompany Kaever Oblynt on my own.” Enslen said.

Saeli looked halfway between being livid and not quite understanding what had been said. “We’re going to Na’arat… now?” she asked. Enslen nodded.

“The arrangements were made in haste, it seems, last night. I was woken past midnight with the news.” He grunted. Saeli shook her head.

“How impossibly inconsiderate—that trip is at least a week’s time from Hesperitte, just to manage the currents, and I’m certain we won’t be making port in the Trident. Unless he means to travel wide, in which case it’s at least three days circuitously anyway and then still another three to the mainland.” She stopped and rubbed her temples, shaking her head. Behind her, a bouquet of Thyrissian roses burst in a storm of petals that drifted and littered the floor. Enslen raised a hand to calm her. He wondered who might have thought to send her such flowers to begin with. “What sort of man gives no warning at all to a weeks long trip and expects others to be prepared!” she burst out.

“As it so happens, I do. I’ll have you know that it’s a most inconvenient trip for everyone involved. If the matter wasn’t pressing I would not be arranging for such a swift exit either.” Kaever hummed, startling them both when he stepped up behind Enslen. The Guard turned to face the High Conductor.

“You could have told her a little sooner,” he suggested, disinclined to take Oblynt’s side in the issue. Kaever sighed heavily.

“I had intended to travel by Spire, but I was denied that luxury on account of an order to take my pupil with me.” He said, clearly displeased as well. Enslen gave him a puzzled look. He wondered what the nature of this time critical venture must be for the man to have thought to leave Saeli behind. He wasn’t fond of Kaever, he’d made that very clear to Saeli and Kaever himself. Still, he’d not come to expect him to leave Saeli out of most affairs. The man seemed to take his mentorship at least twice as seriously as he appeared to take everything else.

“I don’t know whether to be more offended that you didn’t give me earlier notice or that you had thought to leave me out of your plans entirely.” Saeli said. Enslen couldn’t help but smirk, which earned him a nasty expression from Conductor Oblynt.

“You should most certainly be more offended by the latter,” Kaever offered. It was Saeli’s turn to make an unpleasant face. Kaever was looking past them both, studying the flower petals strewn about the ground. “Here I thought you might like that sort of feminine touch to your room.” He said. “I suppose it’s quite fitting that we are traveling to Na’arat on your behalf. There is a ruin in the southwest which is said to have been a center of meditation. There, we may seek to help you center your Magic. Furthermore, I have heard rumor of several artifacts from the same ruins which might balance your Aether and control your flow of Misericordia.” Kaever said matter-of-factly. He was fairly proud of the explanation and it wasn’t untrue. After attending to matters with Andromeda, taking a meditative trip might be fruitful for his ward. Saeli was clearly less impressed, and had rapidly shifted from annoyed to stunned.

“You want to lock away my Magic? You can’t possibly still believe I’m a danger.” Her voice was surprisingly small, and Kaever had to make a conscious effort to remain unreadable. He hadn’t anticipated that she’d take the news that way. He’d expected her annoyed and bristling, not hurt.

“We will not be locking it away, simply containing it safely. Primarily, I think the meditation would be useful to you. In truth, you are still a danger. We’ve simply been lucky you’ve not been emotionally compromised as we’ve been training you.” Kaever said. He felt a bit bad at the way she seemed to flinch at those words.

“I’ve never hurt anyone. Even before you showed up.” Saeli said. “Well then. I’d like to have some privacy as I prepare.” She stepped back and slammed the door. Kaever folded his arms across his chest. Something about this made him feel more like her father than her mentor, but he was not and Saeli was not a petulant teenage daughter.

“Dare I ask why you are in my private suites uninvited?” Kaever said after the silence between himself and Guard had stretched too long and he was tired of listening to Saeli slamming the lids to her trunks.

“I have been assigned—“ Enslen began.

“Ah, no more, Stormer. I shall let Saeli have the benefit of being the disappointed one for now.” Kaever said. Enslen scoffed.

“I assure you, I am not particularly pleased either.” He said. At the very least, Xijja would be accompanying them during their sea journey. Between the mantawoman and Saeli, he could outweigh the poor company with more enjoyable conversation. “I will wait outside if you will be helping Lady Windvice with her items.” Enslen strode off down the hall.

“I’d prefer you did not let yourself in at your leisure, in the future.” Kaever called after him, tucking his hands into the wide sleeves of his robes. Enslen lifted his hand in what Kaever took to be acknowledgement, though it very well might have been dismissal.

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #16 on: November 14, 2016, 07:53:19 pm »
It was not complicated to get through the preparations for the trip. Really, he could have gone on his own. Instead Saeli had to pack, and they had to make sure the ship was ready, which was all a minor loss of time compared to the journey ahead. In his mind, he’d assumed she would be handling the ship herself. There had been such a thought that Saeli Windvice was not a sailor primarily, but his student. He supposed some learning could happen on deck during their travels. Settled into the constraints of their mode of transportation, he started to compartmentalize best he could. His nefarious second reason for going, as these fairytale-witted companions would surely see it, wasn’t going anywhere, and he would fare no better for fretting over it when he could do nothing about it. There was a bit of guilt in Kaever then, for the veil he’d drawn.

The ship glittered for them, and Saeli was excited for the vessel. Fierro already stood there, arms crossed, smiling brightly. His complexion and hair did do well close to the thoughtfully engineered hunter vehicle. Not a creak to be heard. Saeli ran past him and that let Kaever stand by his side. “This is glorious!” she called from aboard the ship already. Even Fierro lifted a brow to indicate wondering as to how she’d gotten up there so fast. Kaever saw her luggage abandoned on the dock. The crew was swift with picking it up. She really must be excited to let someone else do her work. “So this belongs to your family? Well, how impressive.” She grinned and then disappeared to see more, no doubt.

“I couldn’t send you off in any old wreck!” Fierro sang and she laughed back from somewhere.

“You two should get a hut together. As long as you’re not too upsetting, I bet you could have a great time together.” Kaever suggested. Somehow this soured the Academician more than he expected.

“I’m not coming, and I think she has other things to think of than such familiarities.”

Kaever was about to say something teasing again, but decided Fierro did not like that subject. “Alright then.” He said and was content to forget about Master Argen for now, leaving him with a pat on the shoulder. Fierro grabbed his arm before he could walk away.

“Careful on this trip, Kaever. You say a great deal about Saeli’s mood ruling her magic when she is upset. Don’t become a hypocrite.” There was no mockery or challenge in the amber. Kaever waited until he had his arm back and nodded.

“I have my head. I think I know when to make use of it.” He said and then left for the glittering ship.

By the edge, he walked past a squatting Enslen, who was smiling widely at Xijja, who was in the water, running her fingers over the hull. She was fascinated and skeptical at the same time, and the Guard found her expression and fretting very amusing. It made sense to Kaever, since the young soldier could not understand her much more than through her physical language. He nodded when Enslen waved. It seemed Xijja was now trying to climb up the side of the Dawnstrike and that was hilarious to the Magus. Kaever could see why such a simple heart, both in its anchor to duty and haste to enjoy pure things, would appeal to Saeli the way it had.

Enslen wasn’t fuming anymore. It was not in the Magus code to oppose orders. His father had told him about this ordeal, after all. Things could not be more clear. He’d had to do worse things on shorter notice. Still, he’d held Kaever and Saeli’s relationship in some regard, and thought it was strange of the Magi to do all this. There had been whispers of other reasons, of course, and Enslen had to take care not to listen. He’d rather follow her to Na’arat now, with the rumors of raiding Hys. And Saeli did not seem very put off, anymore. This was an impressive ship, and Fierro was beaming with pride. The Magus in his shining leather armor thought that setting off on a mission could be far less pleasant than this.

Xijja looked up at him, distracted from examining the ship, and gave a soft, deep breath. Her titled head wanted him to share. He smiled and sat down, legs dangling over the edge as he waved her concern away. “Nothing, nothing.” He assured her. She swam closer, electricity softly pulsing to give her vertical body the forward motion. She was by the tips of his boots, looking up with her full, dark eyes. Enslen shook his head at her concern. He supposed they both left each other a bit bare without being able to pad their lies with words. Enslen was already an inept liar. “It’s all so sudden. And Kaever never engages like this. I’m bound to think it’s quite important.” She offered a few clicks. He was sure it was wise advice. “Yeah, so you say.” He replied with a grin and she splashed her tail at him to propel her back to the ship. As always, the droplets packed a bit of a sting even through his armor.

Saeli was testing some of the ropes, harvested from Bhema, and enjoying the lack of audible response. She looked at Kaever when he came up, frowned a bit, apparently not wanting him to see her happy, but then crossed her arms, unable to straighten her lips completely. “You’re still a very inefficient conductor to have done all this in such a rush.” She said. He lifted his arm and pointed the blade of his hand to the sky as he bowed his head to concede. She was not charmed by the exaggerated gesture, so he left her with the annoyance she reserved for when he walked away from her. Surely she would have attacked him for this, knife and all, if they were alone.

When they cast off, Saeli was also caught between her role as a passenger and one that might have a hand in steering the vessel. It was very endearing to see her in the environment she grew up in. Her sure footing reminded him that she had a good many more dimensions than being just his student. Enslen had said he was not one for the sea, but didn’t seem very out of place, walking around, bending over the railing now and then to see his swimming friend. Xijja kept up well, even with the commendable Whisper Ship, by enlisting the help of a Manta Giganticus. It seemed she could control it from where she held on to the back, by spreading electricity from her tail into the great, flat body. For Enslen’s amusement, Kaever had to guess, she would breach and sail quite a distance on the creature, to wave. The Magus would laugh and Kaever would insinuate he was simple for it. It was good fun.

Kaever thought it was a good thing that he only briefly remembered Andromeda until the evening. Fierro’s family was as friendly as he expected, and many of them were delighted to have Saeli onboard, taking turns to entertain her, and boast over their ship. It was enough to keep her quite busy. But when supper had been dealt with, good, fresh fish, she found Kaever alone in his hut. Theirs were adjoined. He had to say it was comforting to still be sharing a door with her. He was still wearing his robes, though he’d taken the liberty of donning his own choice, over what the Academy expected of him. She was wearing rather suitable threads for the sea, as he expected. Some of it was worn and he suspected the items were not part of the wardrobe Solasette and Fierro had thrust on her. She looked born on this ship, and he felt like a guest in her home.

“Well, are you still cross for being taken to the sea, sailor?” he asked, looking up from a book he’d brought for her, about the state of mind best used to bolster illusionary magic. She seemed almost grim among the jars of luminescent Schollsun. The blue ones seemed to know her mood because they complimented her shadows the best. She admitted she was happy on the water with a shrug which also said that was not the issue. He was sure the issue would follow shortly.

“I trust your assessment, High Conductor.” She started, rubbing the nail of one thumb with the belly of the other. He lifted a brow to call her on her lie.

“But you’re about to disrespect it, nonetheless, yes?” he said and turned to her fully on his chair, putting the book on the desk behind him. This was a guest cabin, and spacious for that reason. It seemed intimate now even though she was still by the door. She hesitated because of his phrasing, as he knew she would, but fortified her resolve. He had already guessed her intention.

“I don’t think my magic is so beyond my control that we need artifacts to control it. I believe I can resolve my power with my emotions.” It sounded practiced. He wondered if earlier iterations of that speech had been more insulting. That might have been more entertaining. He stood and wore his shoulders hard. She shifted on her feet, the beginning of startle. He came closer and her heels decided between a defensive stance or walking to another corner. He’d like to support her in this, give her confidence, but they were only beginning their journey. Better she not falter with its significance yet. He’d already made peace with being a bastard, needing to see Andromeda for selfish reasons.

“I think you belief is of use to you. You can have it help you in gaining more control. But really, in this time we’ve spent together, you’re only more aware of them, your tantrums, aren’t you, Scholar? You can recognize them when you feel them and then you can initiate something to redirect. That is how you control a mount, or a river. But you’re a conduit of Misericordia. You need to be its master even when circumstances take away your mastery of your feelings.” He explained. It was all true, and she deserved to know sooner. As he suspected, though, this was upsetting to her. She seemed disheartened and that little sadness kept her busy until he was upon her. She looked up and was confused by his proximity. If he gave her space between the wall beside the doorframe to fly, she would have flown.

“Then teach me.” She whispered. He thought her eyes were beautiful at this distance.

“How about I humble you so you’ll take help, instead?” he offered and put his palm to the wall to fence her in further. Pretty emotions mixing on her brow. Mostly it was anger and then lack of resolve to act upon it. Already she was proving his point. Admittedly, he’d delivered a rather insulting sentiment in a very severe way.

“I don’t need…” she started with a scowl that made her adorable from this angle. He took his face further down to slay her sentence. It died wonderfully.

“You need all kinds of things, Saeli.” His red shadows would throb above the blue irises. “You’re of hot blood, boiling.” The other hand slid around her neck, gingerly, already teased by her uncut hair. She trembled, her eyes wider from realizing what he intended to do. “And sometimes blood needs skin.” He spoke the last syllables against her lips. Her weapon, sharpened well, stuck in to his stomach, a particularly painful place that she usually avoided. He was bleeding into his own insides. The fatal damage couldn’t stop him. He still pulled her close and met with his kiss, deeper. Power extended from her, furious, hard. Two blades of blood and harm and meat stood from his back like macabre wings. He caught the slaughter and wrapped it in his own energy, freezing the mayhem before it could splatter the pretty room.

The kiss tasted like his own iron. He’d not been able to stay that. His point was well drawn, so he took his lips back, keeping her in place with his thumb on the column of her throat. Saliva and deep life still connected his bloody-toothed grin to her chocked mouth. The gyres around his spine pulsed as he rimmed them in magic to keep himself alive, but also from healing. This lesson needed to be picturesque. Her green eyes faded and smudged to him before they came back into deadly sharpness. “With Misericordia, even affection is a weapon, Saeli Windvice. A lover could become a massacre. A taunt could have you set fire to your friends.” He swallowed back the thickness that felt like an organ, sliding into place again. “Now…” he concentrated not to cough, and it took a moment. Perhaps this imagery was becoming cruel. “how about we go artifact hunting, after all?”

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2016, 08:32:52 pm »
Saeli stared back at him, breath harsh through her nose as she listened to her own heartbeat drumming in her ears. The silent ship groaned, as if it wished to burst from the inside. On deck, there was a loud shout. She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly. There was a ringing of bells, shrill and chime like, that swelled to a silvery cacophony. Kaever stepped to the side to peer out of a porthole and was met with a towering wall of sea water rising up and around the ship, crackling with shimmering blue light and the glint and fade of short-lived glyphs.

When Saeli spoke, it was from within him and around him at once and he recalled the Grand Magus’ reverberating voice. It was not dissimilar in that instant. “As you wish, Conductor.” She bit out, and the words smarted against his skin with a physical force. There was another commotion on deck as the wall of water which had risen around the vessel came crashing down, bobbing the ship like a tiny cork and sending large rolling waves spraying outward. Kaever held his composure, albeit with some difficulty, when he recognized the glimmer in her eyes. Saeli had been angry before, and frustrated, and confused. He had not seen this face though, cheeks flushed and green gaze misted. She stormed from the cabin before she let the tears well further.

She saw Enslen, drenched and holding fast to the port rail, and went to him directly. She could feel the curious stares of Fierro’s family, who would have recognized Misericordia’s work even if they’d not seen it projected quite so. Saeli ignored them and thrust herself against the rail beside the white-haired Guard with some force. He was watching her too, of course, but chose not to say anything. She was grateful. At that moment, Xijja broke the surface with a sharp-toothed grin and a large fish in one slick grey hand. The mantawoman whistled at Saeli and shook the fish by its tail. It had been thrown up toward the surface when Saeli had raised the sea around the ship. Xijja was appreciative.

Saeli sighed softly, blinking back the threatening tears, and smiled back. “I’m sorry.” She said to Enslen after a long pause. Xijja had made a sound like laughter and then disappeared with her catch beneath the bright surface of the sea.

“For what, a bit of water? It’s about as good a bath as any of us will get before we make it through the Gate.” Enslen said nonchalantly. Saeli shook her head.

“Still. It was poor form.” She murmured. Enslen scoffed.

“I would have stopped you if there was any real trouble. It is at least half of my job,” he assured her, gripping the rail and leaning back to stare up at the blue sky. Saeli glanced at him.

“I’m glad I guess.” She said. He shrugged.

“You worry too much now, I think. You went your whole life without causing any real trouble. You only know you’re lacking in things now because the Academy has brought it out of you and held it up for you to see. I mean, forgive me for sounding odd, but I watched you for months and you never seemed uncertain of yourself or your Magic. I see you use channel Misericordia more and more now, like a natural extension of yourself, but I worry you’ll forget the nature of Misericordia in you. The Academy doesn’t know everything, you know?” Enslen scratched his chin. Saeli laughed. He said the same things as Kaever, sometimes, but they felt different.

He reached out to tug on her braid, startling her. They’d become rather fast friends since she’d first visited him. Still, he’d remained aloof in some ways. It was only appropriate for a Guard to keep some distance between himself and the Magi. The small gesture, then, was rather unexpected. “Enslen?” she asked. He smirked.

“Seriously. I blame Oblynt more than you. He did something to goad you on, right? I don’t usually care much for the Magi of your Falange for a reason.” He offered. Saeli pressed her fingers to her temples.

“You could say that.” She muttered. “He kissed me.” She said. She did not wish to explain to him that she had also wrenched half of her Conductor’s innards out through the back of his body as a result. “Without my permission,” she added, because she still felt obligated to defend that unspoken behavior. Enslen frowned.

“He what?” He demanded. She waved him off.

“He did it to prove a point. Which, I suppose, he made quite clearly. He is the worst kind of Sapien to crawl Sabvon though,” she said. How ridiculous that she’d begun to respect that man. He did what he pleased, plucking her up without asking whether she wished to study beneath him, refusing to teach her the skills she wished to obtain, and generally treating her like a volatile child. She was a grown woman with enough Magic to tear the Academy to the ground and she’d held it all in check long before he’d ever interfered with her life. “I’d rather let Marquis Solasette explain to me why I’m lowborn scum for the entire day than see that man’s face right now.” She told him.

Enslen snorted. “You can have my cabin for the night, if you want it. It isn’t as nice as yours, but it is set with two berths and the Argens have insisted they don’t need the other for the crew. Fierro’s sister has been remarkably accommodating.” He offered. Saeli wrinkled her nose.

“I don’t want to impose. I think I’ll just sleep up on deck tonight.” She said. Enslen nodded. He had suspected she’d say something like that. In a way, he was glad to hear it. The Magi lived pampered lives in the Academy. It was good to see she’d not lost her love for simpler pleasures. It probably shouldn’t have mattered, but it made him feel she hadn’t quite ascended the lofty pedestal on which so many of the Magi sat.

Enslen glanced over his shoulder to find Kaever had come up on deck, a pensive expression on his face. Their eyes met briefly and Kaever frowned, which made the corners of Enslen’s lips curl upward. “Don’t look now, the High Conductor is afoot.” Enslen said, gazing back out at the open sea. Saeli, too, seemed intent on watching the wavelets pass, sliced silently by Dawnstrike’s sleek hull.

“This is my first time on a whisper ship.” Saeli told him, hanging her elbows over the edge of the rail and leaning to prop her chin on her wrists. “It’s an honor, really. The Silverfin Order keeps them busy and they’ve got better uses than acting as a ferry. I’ll be a bit surprised if we don’t detour on a hunt at least once.” She said. “It’s strange to me, being catered to like this by one of the top fleet from my kingdom. Three months ago, I’d have been beaming all day just to see one of these ships cross our path on a run.” She said. She held one hand out in front of her, squinting through the spaces in her spread fingers. “When we reach Isla Vaenta, I’m going to go to Windvice. I have no doubt my father will take us the rest of the way.” She glanced at Enslen with a serious expression. “It just feels kind of wrong, you know? I know where this ship should be and it’s not Na’arat.”

Enslen nodded slowly. He was certain she was telling the truth, in part, but he was also certain she must want to see her family. He’d said it aloud, but she hadn’t looked surprised; Saeli must have felt the Academy’s criticisms swallowing her a bit. There was no doubt she wanted to feel grounded again. He stretched, indicating he was intending to leave her be, and she waved at him when he turned to let her stay at the rail alone. Xijja breached on the back of the large manta again, grinning at them both. Saeli smiled for her.

Enslen sidled over to Kaever, who had gone to peer off the stern of the vessel. The Sire seemed content to leave Saeli be, even if he’d not approved of her company. Enslen had it in mind to punch Kaever’s frown off his face. If he was going to be an ass, he didn’t get to mope about it. The Guard thought better of it and folded his arms across his chest. “She’s your ward, not a plaything. You can’t just treat her however you like.” Enslen said flatly. Kaever did not bother to look at him.

“Actually, I can.” Kaever said. “Though, perhaps I shouldn’t.” He pushed a whip of his long pale hair out of his face. “Of course, it’s not really your place to question my mentorship. You are, perhaps, the least qualified sort of man to question the training of a Magus.” He added. “If anything, perhaps you should reevaluate your duties, Stormer. As I recall, comforting a pretty little Scholar with stars in your eyes is also inappropriate behavior for a fine and honorable member of the Magus Guard.” His tone was caustic.

Enslen’s fingers curled into fists, but he remained steady. “At least you admit your behavior was inappropriate, then. You’re lying to all of us enough on this trip, aren’t you? You could try to spare her confidence, at least. For better or worse, she seems to value your insight.” He said shortly and left Kaever before the Magus could lash his sharp tongue again.

When evening fell, Kaever was only mildly surprised to find Saeli had not come in to her side of the guest cabins. He decided it was best not to consider it too deeply, though it did cross her mind that she might be with that irritating Guard again. He scowled at the thought. As if Saeli needed more encouragement to disagree with him.

It was past midnight when a loud whooping sound from the deck startled him awake. Outside his hatch, he could hear a sudden swell in activity. His hatch was thrown open with a bang and he had to take several quick steps back to avoid being hit by it. Saeli appeared, framed by the moonlight, cheeks pink from the cool night air and her dark hair half fallen from its plait. Her eyes were bright and alert and it was evident she had not been sleeping. “Stay below deck. We’ve come in on a juvenile behma and the crew will take it. Don’t get in the way.” She said. She drew the hatch shut. He supposed she was still upset with him. He waited for a while, generally uninterested in participating on deck, anyhow. Nonetheless, when the first bone shaking screech from the beast outside reached his ears, he was compelled to put aside Saeli’s demand and step out of the cabin.

He had seen paintings of behma, long necks arching them high over the agile ships which pursued them. The whisper ships would only approach a mature behma in a minimum of a pair, but a single competent crew could handle a juvenile on its own. While he had seen his share of dragons and large sea beasts, a number of curious creatures appearing near the Academy or showing up as specimens, he had to admit that the behma was a sight to behold. He could not imagine it being anything less than awe-inspiring to encounter one of the older beasts.

Even under the pale wash of moonlight, the behma was aglow with an emerald fire, its opalescent scales refracting the light in strange ways that distorted its large and serpentine shape. It had, as well, a light of its own, rows of bioluminescent spots creating disorienting stripes down its length and glowing bulbs flailing from the tips of its long facial whiskers. It fanned its large gliding fins in a display meant to frighten, and screeched again. The Dawnstrike crew was crawling the decks like so many coordinated ants below the mass of the beast. They coordinated with very few words, whooping and whistling here or there with a shrillness that could be heard through the din of the behma’s cries. At the wheel, a woman that might well have been Fierro’s slightly less lovely twin held fast to the steering and calmly issued orders to a man at her right.

He glanced around, staying low in the ladder well. He was not inclined to place himself in the path of any of the concentrated sailors. Then, behind him, he heard Enslen’s voice.

“What is she doing up in the rigging?” he demanded, half to himself and half to Kaever. He certainly did not anticipate the High Conductor would have an answer. His sentiment was confirmed when Kaever looked up to spot her as well and was apparently surprised to find her there, feet planted firmly against the mast.

“What are you doing in my cabin?” Kaever returned, though he was equally curious about Enslen’s query. Enslen was unapologetic.

“Your cabin connects with Saeli’s and there is an interior passageway from her quarters to the rest of the crew berths.” He said matter-of-factly, though it did not explain the why of the question so much as how.

“Lady Windvice interrupted my sleep to order me to stay below deck.” Kaever said. “I presume the same order was issued to you as well.”

“Something like that.” Enslen admitted. He had, in fact, taken this route to do precisely what Kaever was doing, since Saeli had given him the same curt demand but a few minutes prior to her arriving at Kaever’s hatch. The two men watched as Saeli navigated the rigging, handling lines with a natural finesse and darting to and fro as if she’d worked this ship her entire life. Kaever’s brows arched high, as he noticed her weaving telekinetic projections of Misericordia as she moved, willing the rope work with her mind as fluidly as she compelled it with her fingertips. Enslen noticed it as well. “She doesn’t need you to doubt her. She needs you to challenge her.” He said. Kaever made an annoyed sound.

“When you understand the full discipline needed to control the flow of Misericordia she possesses, you may speak. You Guards simply expect us to control and subdue Magic without any appreciation for the task itself. I suppose it cannot be helped when you are given the authority to punish any of us who lapse in composure as easily as the thought occurs to you. Or have you forgotten that the only reason Saeli Windvice and her entire family were saved from penalty was your decision to send her to the Falange and, ultimately, my hands.” Kaever said, turning finally to look Enslen in the eye. The crimson shadows in his eyes seemed brighter. Enslen’s lips twitched, but he had no answer to Kaever’s accusation. Instead, he turned his attention back to the behma and to the impressive Argen hunters.

The ship lookout had spied the behma shortly after sundown, spying the faintest wink of its luminescent spots as it snaked near the surface. He had relayed the message swiftly. It was rare to see behma in the Gate, as the current ran swifter than the beasts tended to like. However, it was not implausible to find a juvenile that had wandered into the flow. Whether or not the Dawnstrike had been sent to ferry Fierro Argen’s Magi friends or not, the ship was a hunting vessel first and a favor second. They had come upon the behemoth silently; while the behma did not have much choice but to proceed in the same course the Dawnstrike was taking, alerting it to their presence would have sent it soaring above the waves and gliding out of reach. The behma screamed and plowed downward, its enormous crocodilian head aimed directly at the main mast. At the wheel, Fierro’s sister gave an order and the man at her side whistled a shrill relay to the rest of the ship. The Singer, then. Vaentatori  ships were the only vessels to have such sailors, trained in a unique and startlingly efficient manner of relaying coordinating orders to an entire crew. They were prized most, however, for the piercing quality of their voices, which were said to be audible through the howls of the Eternal Storm itself.

As if the crew had known the order before it was whistled, the hunters were exploding into action. Saeli, too, was moving with haste. The sails went limp for a breath and then snapped taught in the next instant, rolling the ship hard to starboard and swinging the stern of the vessel toward the sea beast. The behma missed the ship by mere hand’s lengths and dove in a great arc over the vessel and into the sea. The ship rocked hard, buffeted broadside by the ensuing waves. The behma reappeared moments later in a flume of sea spray and flecks of its own mercurial blood.

Kaever and Enslen held fast to whatever they could as the remarkably agile ship continued to dance with the sea serpent. For her part, Saeli appeared fearless. She worked with crew as if they were her own and found, in return, an immediate and unquestioning trust from them. It was hardly a wonder the gossiping elitism of the Academy wore on her so keenly when she had grown up among people like this. Where Kaever had grown tired, Saeli simmered with a sense of injustice. To move capably with her fellow sailors was enough pedigree to store all the pride in the world. This skill was born out of the iWindvice and that was what the Dawnstrike crew would remember. Kaever made a mental note to tell Solasette to stop pushing the woman to change her surname. It was, he thought, exceptionally disrespectful.

While he was momentarily pleased with himself for being particularly empathetic with his Scholar and wondering if that might make up for his current behavior, Enslen let out a loud whoop and pushed past him to dart up onto the deck as the behma came crashing down into the sea. The ship tacked hard port to avoid one spanning fin of the prize as it plummeted. Enslen lost his balance and was sent stumbling with the swing of the vessel. He caught himself at the last moment to join with the rest of the crew in cheering their success. Small craft were lowered rapidly off the side of the Dawnstrike, hunters armed with great lengths of line eagerly paddling the small boats toward the floating carcass. As they approached, the smell of burnt flesh wafted toward them through the sea salt and Xijja bobbed to the surface. The sailors let out hearty cheers and she whistled back graciously. She had, it seemed, been offering some support from below. Now, she helped them tie up the beast and tow it back to the ship.

Saeli had climbed down from the rigging to help the sailors haul the huge catch aboard. She was laughing and exclaiming with the rest of the crew with obvious delight. As Kaever went to stand beside Enslen, he cleared his throat. “Somehow, it feels as if it is you and I that are one of a kind right now. I’m glad you’re being left out as well.” He said.
     
 

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2016, 06:39:09 pm »
As a Guard Enslen was not usually on any kind of hunting endeavor, especially not one so intricate and important as that after a Bhema, juvenile or not. His work could happen in the docs, boarding ships for inspection and some custom duties. His connection to the sea extended to his relationship to the storm, and recently Xijja. This had been a wonderful spectacle. The animal still wore its lights as the smaller vessels neared it. Enslen knew well of the large beats taken from the sea, and lingered on the sadness of it for a little while, before marveling at the body that continued to light up the water as it was being towed back. He particularly liked the way Xijja was now climbing on it, her silhouette cutting out her shape on the luminescence that was growing a bit stale. The Argen crew was amused. Enslen knew this catch would garner a good price. The meat, though it was not a main point when catching the Bhema, was especially tender in younger specimens. He suspected the chef would be happy to do something for the crew witch such fresh fare. He was alone with Kaever, since most hands were retrieving the great animal.

“Do you suppose we have done some great wrong? It was not the Bhema’s will to be slain in the night.” He said, trying to funnel a conversation. Really, Enslen hunted for things himself, when in need on land. Kaever looked at him as though he recognized the intent.

“It is not the will of the Rumbler scholls to be eaten by the Bhema, nor is it the Ivory Algae’s will to become milk for the Bhema young.” He offered. Enslen hated the amused look the magi wore. Apparently he thought he knew where this was going. It didn’t matter.

“But we’re sapien. We have a set of rights, because we have different hearts. That’s why we should not act like hunters, or treat fellow sapien as prey.” It was true, and Enslen was catching some momentum from it.

“Nor should we act like the Sepia birds and sing for no reason. Or the Oraz fish and splash our tails simply to cause ruckus. If we’re sapien, we should speak efficiently when we’re not speaking for recreation.” But Kaever’s smirk suggested he was growing amused by this exchange. Enslen sighed with frustration.

“You’re right. I want to appeal to your decent side and tell you not to put your hand on Saeli without her permission. I’m to protect Sabvon and the Academy from rouge magic, but I am also a keeper of peace. What you did was not peaceful, misericordia or not.” Enslen was sure Kaever would not be so offended that he became ballistic, but still made sure his footing was steady.

“I agree.” Kaever said and smiled gently, venomously, at the guard, who was surprised. “No permission, no hand. Sounds reasonable enough.” He continued and then went to see the crew as they came back. Enslen was left to grind his teeth. This was far more serious than the Conductor was expressing. Still, he had agreed, so there wasn’t really much more Enslen could do without pushing a challenge. The guard was not very well versed in the warfare of the halls where Saeli now resided. Though Kaever did not practice as much as Solasette, he knew his way around the undercurrents.

There had been no real plan other than retreating from Enslen, but the arrival of the large game did interest Kaever. He stood by the rail and watched the body be tied to the ship. Already they were lifting the scales to get at the flesh. A few signs hummed on Kaever’s arm, eager to help, but he didn’t suppose they would appreciate it. They were proud and efficient. With his attention on Fierro’s sister, Ilinja Argen, and her bloody gloves tossing what looked like a beautiful fillet for Xijja, who was circling and sending electricity out into the water to keep away scavengers and predators, he absently held his hand out to help someone up the ship. His eyes met with a familiar green hue that was at home underneath the ocean night. They had both turned at the same time and she let go of his hand first.

“You’re busy, I see. The crew seems happy to have you.” He offered. His eyes did not divert when hers did. Kaever could postpone the guilt for having employed shock and awe to lead her attention away from his reason to initiate this trip. Besides, it would be too much to give Enslen the satisfaction of a display of shame. “Some time away from the dusty books does you well.” He continued. Saeli was not malicious, despite the memories of mayhem on his skin, and couldn’t help herself from smiling, if slightly, and nodding as a thanks. She looked at him with renewed faith. It wasn’t complete.

“This is home.” She said and quickly examined  his clothes. They were new, and that seemed to upset her a bit. He breathed with his shoulders to assure her he was fine. His stained attire was well tucked away. There was still a distinct signature on his tongue left by her magic and his own blood. She would not like to hear that.

“And a good home.” Enslen said, stepping close, face turned away to pretend he was more interested in the water, and how it took on the clouds of Bhema blood, the innate light of the animal starting to fade faster. Xijja hissed from somewhere to indicate she thought it was a pity. Kaever looked the guard up and down when he did not see and then smirked at Saeli. He was sure Saeli didn’t know what for, how could she? Kaever stepped back, inviting the younger male to enjoy the little victory. It did seem juvenile under Kaever’s display, and that was his whole intention.

“I just remember I was deep in a book before this hunt.” Kaever said and held his hands behind his back. “I trust you’ll call me if there is a late snack.” He nodded toward the water and Ilinja tying the base of a large fin to be sawed off. “I’m partial to some salted marrow mouse, but I’ll try anything this fresh.” He said, emphasis on the high tilt of his chin, to make it all more superior. Enslen didn’t know what to think, judging from his expression.

“Don’t think they’ll be handling the skeleton out at sea.” Enslen said, watching Kaever leave. Saeli laughed at the idea.

“No, not usually. But if he’d asked anyone else they’d insist on it. The Argen family treats us very well.” She said. Enslen thought her tone was easier without Kaever.

“We’re guests of their son. Hesperinne take pride in hospitality, and their spirits are high.” He offered before wearing his lips a bit straighter.

“What?” she demanded. He sighed through his nose.

“I told Kaever not to bother you in that way anymore.” He explained and Saeli stirred but she wasn’t upset in the end. What a pretty reaction.

“Thank you, but I don’t need that.” She was serious. He nodded to assure her he would not do that kind of thing again, and thought he meant it, then.

Suddenly, quite out of nowhere, there were blue flashes in the water, and the sound of a small eruption. Xijja, who had propelled herself out of the water, gripped the rail to keep from descending back. Her dripping face was grinning, showing all her teeth. Enslen laughed and offered her to speak with a show of his palm. Saeli had proven to be an excellent interpreter that was the cause for some envy in him. But the mantawoman didn’t take word. She hung there, arms serving as fastening on railing as well as a shelf for her chin. Dark eyes moved back and forth between them quickly. Eventually Enslen laughed to lighten the tension Xijja’s suggestion was putting in the air.

“Anything on your mind?” he tried, affected by her playfulness. She only looked at Saeli again and then clicked his name before letting go and falling back into the Bhema blood and salt. Both still on deck laughed loudly. It was mostly drowned out in the rest of the merriment of preparing the catch. “Well, she’s certainly in a good mood.” Blood in the water usually did elevate her spirit.

Saeli always liked the way Enslen laughed. He was well shackled to his duty as guard, but didn’t seem tainted by it the way some men become stern and harsh, always reminding others what they are. In contrast to Kaever his moral compass was easy to decipher. She was much the same, if she had to weigh her own value. Still high on the excitement and warmth of being on the sea again, she turned and rested her back on the railing, looking him over. “It is not a bad night.” She agreed. “And mantafolk are hunters, too. This is as much a treat to her as it is for the Argens. Perfect, isn’t it, the Dawnstrike?”

Enslen thought the dying glow touched Saeli well. It hadn’t been a test to his patience, following her before he recommended her to the Academy. She was breathing deeply, watching to remember all the details of this ship that she idolized the way he would a well-crafted weapon of any Magus he respected. They were not so different. “Will you even be able to sleep tonight?”

She chuckled and turned to wave an arm at the crew crawling around on the body. “Not even if I managed to relax. The Bhema has to be prepared.” Her voice was strong, and some of the Argens raised their tools at her. Ilinja smiled brightly. “But it’s not hard to sleep during the day, either. This is far more important.” A real woman of the sea. Her rhythm was in tandem with whatever the sea provided. He thought of what Kaever had said, about being left out, and he thought it might be true, but that Saeli was beautiful because she belonged here.

“I can see that it is.” He agreed. “Well. Do you think we should help?” he asked. It made her smile and she climbed to sit on the rail, ready to kick off and land on either a boat or the floating Bhema itself.

“Do you know what to do?” she asked him. He grinned at the doubt in her eyes.

“I see Ilinja cutting over there.” He replied, reaching back to either end of his horizontal weapon, pulling the swords apart. “I think I know how to do that.” And then he threw himself out, launching himself with a leap off the rail, and landing on scales. The crew cheered. He looked back up at her, laughing as he made sure to find his balance fast. “Are you coming?” She took the challenge and jumped, too.

-

Kaever was laid across the floor on a splay of his clothes. The pants he’d kept, but decided to trace the long gone injuries around his spine in the mirror. Her magic wasn’t there anymore, but it helped him remember it better. It had been furious, eager to push him away. A simple enough thought if it could have been honed. Instead it became volatile in him. He wondered if the twin hollows that had been twisted out of his skin were the result of her imagining pushing him away with both her hands. He sat up and tried to replicate her hue of blue between his fingers. The shade closest was very raw, with very little of himself in it. Had she felt enough of the tinge his magic gave off when it healed him, then? Kaever snuffed the show of lights by closing a fist. What hue would Andromeda be now?

He bit his lip by himself, trying not to smile at her temper, the way her remembered it. She was proof that Saeli could very well master Misericordia. Ama had flaring moods, though she contained them in ways that would impress even Solasette. Yet, Ama had never lost control over her magic. All the damage she caused was very intentional. Kaever sighed. But mastery over power does not mean you’ll use it right. Ama had an almost vengeful passion. It was clear in her hatred for the Hys, which was why the report had been so concerning. The Scholar he’d taken once would not join in an alliance with them.

He was wondering over this when the door flew open and he thought he saw Fierro on the threshold. Instead it was Ilinja, and she looked apologetic at first, but never uttered that meaning. “Reveling in our handsome, are we?” she teased. Kaever stood and brought a dark robe along from the makeshift bed. The morning was glimmering behind her, laid out in a puddle of light by her boots. The rays must be coming in from the entrance. “I am freeing you of you self-imposed exile. You didn’t to help, but brother said to take care of you, so you’re of course invited to the feast.” Charming girl. She would not accept a no said her quick departure and the still open door.

Well on deck, there was song and drinking. He wondered if it would be advisable but was sure their wits were not so easily compromised. By a table, close to the one where the food was laid up, he saw Saeli laughing with Enslen. It was more surprising to see the Guard merry. They were lovely together, and he thought it was good to see them so carefree. He made himself into a shadow, answering the usual questions about his magic while showing tricks inside his sleeve to a very young Argen, who had Fierro’s eyes but a wide, fat mouth to gasp with. Handsome child. It seemed to run in the family.

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2016, 09:09:36 pm »
The feasting on board went well into the late hours of the afternoon, the reliable current of the Gate carrying them steadily toward Hesperitte and the glittering sails swelling with a compliant and crisp breeze. It was late summer, the wind carrying the first chill of fall with some relief for the still-sweltering sun. They had lost several hours to pacing and coming upon the Bhema last night, but none on board would have complained greatly for the tradeoff. The ship would still arrive in the early hours of the next morning.

The Dawnstrike crew was somewhat remarkable in constitution, carrying on with eating and drinking between making the necessary adjustments to the sails to maintain steady course. They seemed to have an unflagging energy, despite the fact that none had slept and almost all had partaken of a hardy amount of drink. For his part, Kaever was not accustomed to the lulling effect of the sea nor any frequent need to deny himself sleep. As such, he departed the merriment on deck in the late morning and returned to his cabin to rest. Enslen, too, took his leave around the same time.

Saeli did not notice that either had left until it was mid noon. Though she felt reasonably invigorated, being on the ocean again, she decided it might be best to rest as well. She went down the ladder to pause at Kaever’s hatch, knocking once lightly before letting herself in. It would have been circuitous to take the alternate route to her cabin and she was accustomed to the minimal privacy afforded at sea. The knock was soft, such that he might have an opportunity to deny her if he was somehow compromised but would not disturb him should he be sleeping. As she stepped into the space, she found the latter to be true.

She had intended to pass quickly through to her own cabin, but paused in the middle of his space. In his slumber, the High Conductor looked a good deal softer. He was an undeniably handsome man regardless, but the vulnerable part of his lips and low fan of his lashes was remarkably more resonant with her. A man, in the end, no matter his station or loftiness. She wondered if she could kill him while he was sleeping or if his flow of Misericordia would sew him up without conscious intention.

Saeli had drawn closer as she considered the possibilities, standing at the foot of his berth and studying his sleeping face. She supposed it was like to be the latter possibility, as he’d maintained he had nothing intentional to teach her regarding his regenerative prowess. Still, she decided not to attempt anything now, as a precaution. She supposed, even if he was an ass, she’d feel bad for truly harming him when he was possibly defenseless. Saeli saw again the way he’d sprouted those suspended gory trails and frowned. She had not honestly meant to harm him that way, only to drive her knife in as some retaliation. She sighed softly. Perhaps she had become too comfortable with violence against her peculiar, immortal Conductor. She would make a point of reminding herself not to become cruel in the name of learning.

She made to go on to her cabin and did not see Kaever lift his head quietly to watch her as she left. He lay back on his pillow after she had gone and hummed to himself. He wondered what she had been thinking to make such expressions at him as he lay there. He was at odds with her character, he supposed. The Vaentatori had a reputation for unconventional moral codes, blossoming from their not-so-distant origins as seafaring outlaws. He thought it was a silly distinction; as if the Academy raised up Magi to be any more righteous. Kaever wasn’t one for too much introspection, but he had the sort of ego that did not require him to deny his faults. He would readily admit he’d brought some of them with him, but his long years at that Academy had done nothing if not cultivated them. Primarily, he wondered why he ought to care. He could devise several answers, but found he did not like any of them.

Kaever was furthered annoyed to find Saeli had not entirely forgiven their incident by that evening. He woke mid-afternoon to find her roaming the deck again, this time without the accompaniment of their Guard escort. She had spotted him and nodded a curt sort of greeting, even smiling, but had quickly returned to her own preoccupations and made no move to engage with him. He made his way to the aft deck and seated himself to meditate well out of the way of Ilinja, who was at the helm. He remained there until the sun had half hidden itself below the horizon.

When he did finally surface from his soft dive into Misericordia, he had to blink the fog from his eyes and adjust to the wash of amber light pouring over the ship. Sunset was lovely on the water. He saw that Saeli was nearby, looking off the stern of the ship as if caught up in her own sort of meditation. He sighed. He had not intended to be any more apologetic for his behavior than he had been thus far, but he was bothered to feel the divide between them so distinctly. He had become accustomed to Saeli’s openness and eager. That she hadn’t bothered to ask him for some sort of lesson the entire day was irksome.

Kaever approached her, placing his back to the rail beside her. “I am not going apologize for making my point. However, I dislike you avoiding me and I think it might be appropriate to apologize for my methods in this instance.” He said slowly. He was keenly grateful that Enslen was nowhere to be seen. Saeli glanced at him with an arched brow and then looked away again. He frowned. “I would prefer that we are not at odds on this entire journey.” He tried, then blinked. Her shoulders were quivering, and for a brief moment he was concerned she had begun to cry. Kaever could not think of an appropriate response should that be the case. Fortunately, it became apparent when she turned back to him that she was simply containing her laughter.

“I would rather that not be the case either.” She said at last, wiping a bemused tear from her eye. He sniffed at the irony. “I wasn’t expecting you to apologize, though I’ll admit that I feel better that you have.” She said. “I am your student and I will respect your wishes as my instructor.” She told him, turning to position herself similarly to him. “But I am not just some inconvenience or anomaly that needs containing. I didn’t ask to be your Scholar. You took me, out of obligation or otherwise.” She said. Kaever looked surprised.

“You suspect I took you on out of obligation?” He echoed. She shrugged. “You’re unstable in some regards, but you aren’t so much a danger that I was obligated to take you. In truth, you interested me and I thought it mutually beneficial to remove you from Solasette and the other Conductors at the time. You are aware it would have been more than a slap on the wrist for what you did, yes?” he asked. Saeli pursed her lips and nodded. “If you are going to suppose I am your mentor out of necessity, I should be inclined to assume you persistently attack me out of malice.” He waved off the thought even as he spoke it.

Saeli sighed. “I see.” She said. He had expected more of a response, but took the softer quality of her gaze to mean he had somehow relieved some significant concerns of hers.

“Don’t be mistaken, I question the extent of your control and would like you to have a safer means of containing your Magic until you grow as a Magus further. However, you have your own means of preventing trouble and they have held up until now, more or less.” He said with a slight smirk. Saeli nodded.

“Alright. I’ll forgive you for yesterday.” She paused. “And I will set aside my pride for this trip as well. I… suppose I needed to know you were taking me seriously as a student and not just a containment project.” She laughed, but it was evident she was not joking. It was Kaever’s turn to sigh. He supposed it shouldn’t surprise him. He had not taken advantage of her eagerness to learn thus far, despite accommodating lessons. He had not felt compelled to match anyone’s enthusiasm in years. Nith had told him it would cause misunderstandings eventually. He was annoyed to find she was correct. Of course, the greater complication was that Saeli’s renewed contentment with their partnership made him feel a bit guiltier for his subterfuge. He had yet to lie to her, but he’d yet to give her the full truth either.

“Shall I make up for my behavior? I can admit I was less than a gentleman,” he suggested, though Kaever had never particularly considered himself a gentleman in the first place. Saeli looked at him curiously, intrigued by the offer. He grinned, wolfish again. “Oh, I don’t know, Lady Windvice. It seems appropriate with our new understanding of one another, that’s all.” He assured her. She was hesitant, but smiled eventually.

“Alright, Conductor, I accept.” She said. He offered her his arm in escort and she took it lightly. It was wonderful fortune for Kaever that Enslen appeared on deck at that moment and caught his gaze as he turned Saeli away from him and guided her off the aft deck toward his cabin. He resisted reveling too much in the Guard’s wary expression and steered Saeli gently below deck.

When they were within his cabin he released her from his arm and went to sit on his berth. Saeli remained in the middle of his room, watching. Kaever began to neatly remove the simple ivory cotton doublet he’d elected for the evening. Saeli immediately began to protest, but he shook his head at her. “A bit of trust, Scholar,” he said as he set the garment to the side. She seemed unwilling to look at him, which struck him as somewhat endearing. “Until yesterday, you had not attempted to injure me with anything but physical force. However, yesterday you impacted me with the will of your Misericordia.” He said. This piqued her interest enough to draw up her gaze from its firm plant on the rug, but did not help the faint flush on her cheeks. Honestly, he did question how adult she actually was on occasion. Of course, she had spent a good deal of her adolescence masquerading as a cabin boy. It was not so unlikely that she was rather naïve to most intimacy.

“Unlike your usual attempts, I was able to feel the fluctuation in my own ties to Misericordia. I suspect that with some effort, you might be able to cause a similar effect with more intention. Furthermore, with effort on my own part, I might be able to slow my regeneration.” He inclined his head slightly, the carmine shadows in his gaze seemed to be dancing. Saeli did not seem to fully understand his intention. “I told you, I found you interesting. You haven’t disappointed, really. Your preoccupation with my regenerative Magics has somewhat baffled me, I will admit. However, I suppose you’ve piqued my curiosity as well. As you say, it is not a skill I was taught.” He said, shrugging. “Perhaps it is not such a sufficient way to make up for thing, if there is some selfish intent?” he asked. Saeli shook her head.

“No, that’s not it. I, ah, how do I put it. Being invited to do you harm feels a bit wrong is all,” she said sheepishly. He made a face of mock horror.

“You prefer to catch me unawares and soil my clothes and go about your violence without my permission then?” he asked. Saeli began to protest frantically.

“That makes it sound so awful!” She yelped. It made him laugh. She was such a strange woman. “I think, rather, it was a puzzle I was trying to solve on my own and your disinterest made it a point on which to prove myself, I guess.” She admitted. His brow furrowed. “Since it did not seem you knew yourself how to teach me such skills.” She added. Kaever considered being offended but supposed he could see the direction of it. She was still quite odd by his estimation. He wondered if she was particularly aware of it. Regardless of her upbringing, she would still be odd. That made him chuckle, and he waved off her inquiring stare. He patted the bed beside himself.

“Well, come before I change my mind. It isn’t as if it doesn’t still hurt when you go about being cruel.” He said. She looked even more reluctant to participate then, but came to sit beside him nonetheless. It was apparent she had no intention to initiate anything further, so he took her hand and placed it to his bare chest. Her palm was cool on his skin, and for a brief moment he met her gaze with equal surprise at the sensation. She cleared her throat.

“What now?” she asked. He closed his eyes.

“Focus on the projection of Misericordia telekinetically as if through great pressure. Fight for precision and upmost control. Move with it as if time were slowing.” He said. She closed her eyes too, focusing on his voice. “Envision my body, every tissue in your path, my bones, my breath, and have the will to invade. Do not think to destroy, only to penetrate and invade.” He spoke slow, measuring his cadence to her breath, and felt the first sparks of her Magic like fire from her fingertips. He opened his eyes to catch the glow of her blue brilliance searing his skin.

The pressure against his chest built as his flesh uncurled beneath her fingertips like spreading flower petals and he gasped as the first pangs of pain synapsed through his consciousness. He had experienced infinitely worse by even her own hands, but the measure of this was new and strange and he’d invited it. The weight of her Magical force pushed him to the flat of his back, sprawled then on her berth, and she above him, half lain over him with her eyes still closed and her Magic pulsing. He saw beads of his blood sprout upward, caught in her hold as it rose and froze above his chest in a helix sprout of red. Even as her Magic burrowed into him he could feel his own body seek to close around it and reform what she was breaking. He focused on preventing it, slowing it beyond the pace of her progress.

Her eyes opened, meeting his gaze unwaveringly. There was concern there, and his lips curled upward to reassure her. She could feel the opposition of his own Magic against itself, pulling apart and pulling her own in a third direction. Somehow, there was a tangle. Her lips parted in confusion and she found no answer in his stare, only the same question reflected back at her. She could feel his flow of Misericordia wrapping back against her palm and weaving with her own, holding the bloody hole she was burrowing through his sternum agape. He grit his teeth. “It’s enough,” she murmured and withdrew her hand from his chest quickly holding herself above him. He exhaled sharply and, like a wave washing away marks on the sand, bone and muscle welled up hungrily to close him. “It wasn’t Misericordia,” she breathed when new skin had erased any sign of her.

Saeli reached to touch the place, cool fingers on cool skin where his blood had not fully warmed him again yet. “No, I suppose it was not.” He said. There was nothing hidden there, she realized.

“You didn’t know.” She said. He had a complicated expression, but shook his head in confirmation.

“It’s good to have some mysteries even to one’s self, after so many years.” He said lightly, though the steady of his silver stare said he was no more content with that answer than she was. “On the other hand, that was a rather commendable job. When you act on behalf of others, you strike me as possessing more refinement than I generally suspect.” He said. It was a compliment, by Kaever’s standards. He let his eyes close. He could taste her Magic on his tongue, bright spice, lingering and hot. He wondered if she would dislike it if she knew the way her Aether danced in him. She had not moved from her place above him and he reached to touch her cheek. He felt her startle, but she did not withdraw. He slipped his hand to the back of her head. “It seems I gave you no answers, but that you have instead come to an unusual intimacy with my own Magic.” He said as he drew her toward him. He stopped when he could feel her breath against his lips and opened his eyes to meet her stare.

“Well, now, here I was about to cause the same offense,” he mused. Saeli blinked at him. She was resting atop him now, and he could feel her heartbeat against his. Quick, fluttering bird, and that face said he’d broken some current on which she’d been carried.

“I suppose so.” She replied. His lips curled.

“Your Stormer friend would say I ought to ask for permission to continue,” he told her. She flushed. “Perhaps you ought to return to your cabin now, Lady Windvice.” He said. She scrambled off of him in sudden haste.

“Yes, I should.” She agreed. She left without further word, and he sat up staring at the shut door long after she had gone. He lay back down on his berth at last.

“Might as well make new mistakes while you chase old ones, Oblynt,” he told himself dryly. He touched his chest. Really, there were more important things to consider than the interesting faces Saeli Windvice made. He would demand a repeated investigation of his own Magic of her later. “For now, you are enough trouble, Ama,” he muttered.

The evening was quiet and he was undisturbed after. At dawn, he and the rest of Dawnstrike’s inhabitants made their way to the rails of the ship to watch the cluttered outline of Hesperitte form into distinct structures. They would make port without much time lost. Then, it would be on to Na’arat. Saeli approached him after he’d been watching the skyline for some long moments. “Conductor,” she said. He nodded at her and pleased to find she had her wits about her and seemed unperturbed to be in his presence. “We land today, and I wish to let Dawnstrike return to her hunting. A trip to Na’arat would be a large imposition on this crew, and an unnecessary one. Please, let me take you to Cil, where Windvice is harbored. My father will be able to make use of a journey to Na’arat better than dedicating a whisper ship to it.” She looked very serious with her request, and he noticed that Enslen had come up behind her. The Guard did not seem surprised, which irked him more than her request would have otherwise.

“I know it will add another day to our trip, but if our journey is for my benefit I would feel better if it weren’t at the detriment of one of the Isla’s finest vessels. Besides, I would be happy to see my brother and father.” She said. Kaever mulled over the proposition unenthusiastically. He couldn’t very well say no. His urgency was not shared by the other two precisely because he had not let it be known. It was for the sake of his own contrived stories that he would be forced to acquiesce. Beyond that, he was not heartless. It would be poor of him to deny her the chance to see her family.

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #20 on: November 18, 2016, 09:10:14 pm »
He would have rather gone as fast as any sapien could. Even alone. Wherever Andromeda was in Na’arat, she was in an uproar, surely deep into hatred, too familiar. And through it, he still felt a need to please Saeli when she asked like this. He considered Enslen quickly, and then brought attention back to his scholar. His deceit had a price, and it would have to be this, then. He couldn’t blame them for his lie. “How can I refuse when you ask to see your family?” he gave, and both of them smiled in a similar way. Was he their father allowing them to run the fields? “I should like to meet the man that raised you.” He then wore his eyelids a little lower, indifference and superiority, very visually feigned enthusiasm. Nith knew it to be a joking face. “How about you, Magus Guard? Should we detour to the edge of The Eternal Storm? Surely you have some story that will tug at my bitter heart, too.” The heavy of Enslen’s brow was enough payment for the effort of the jest.

One more day wasn’t an impossible price, but his nerves were ragged to see Andromeda. It could all have been avoided if he had only been allowed to travel by himself, or by some kind of beast. Again, this was going to be another him traveling with them, while his truer self was managing his inner life with so much turmoil. He’d meditated a lot, and couldn’t quite find the calm waters that weren’t affect by the storm he suffered. If Saeli had known, she would not have come for fear of slowing him down. But he had chosen not to say. And here he was, eating Bhema and making jokes barely off Hesperitte.

“You can be reasonable.” Enslen said. He had thought Kaever would put up a struggle just for spite, but his personality was not difficult in that way. The Guard was not impressed by any measure. It could just be that the High Conductor did not care either way, despite his proclaimed eager for this mission. How could anyone resist Saeli when she came with an earnest request, though? He liked to be on her side of this conversation, physically, and thought it was a better thing now, after having seen Kaever lead her away before. There were part of Academy life that was shining and glorious, which they held as façade, but all seats of power have a sordid side, he’d heard, he’d been worried Kaever might try to prove a point with Saeli’s heart. Enslen realized now Kaever either had a better moral code than that, or mocking Enslen simply was not worth any real effort or time.

The three stayed close during what remained of their travel to Hesperitte. Someone was quick to boast about the catch, tying up, and immediately there were people flocking around the lowered bridge. The crew was happy for the help, a few deals struck already, and it made it easy for the trio from the academy to say their goodbyes in the bustle. As expected, Ilinja was especially affectionate, and held Saeli’s face for quite some time. Kaever received a firm embrace and she handed a whistle hidden in a brooch to Enseln. The shape was a bit thicker than the usual design of merhorn, and Kaever realized quickly it must have been augmented for mantafolk. An expensive gift, and a necessary thing at sea, he could only hope they had more, though the whistles for merfolk was more common and useful when you were in trouble. Enslen almost managed to shove it back into her hand before she turned him around and pushed him, laughing and waving.

The harbor was brimming, of course, and the colors were of gold and warm shades. The air smelt of spices and sea fare. The dancers, even the ones not performing in a hole in the crowd, reminded him of Fierro. Long limbs and rich hair, spotted with thin jewelry. It would seem, despite the wealth of beautiful faces here, the Argen at the academy would still be of quite some pedigree. Just like Saeli was a great seafarer, also. Perhaps magic choose exceptional individuals, plucking them from their inherited way of life. What a sudden romantic though. Kaever became lost in the life here, thinking about all the threads of all the destinies that radiated out from this place. If he had not been on a mission he might have wanted to stay. If he was not entirely dampened by whatever waited in Na’arat, he would want to land here on his way home. He stole a long vial of watered down preserves and put in its place a few golds for a child running by with a basket on his back.

“He seems to enjoy himself.” Enslen remarked as he and Saeli were a few steps behind her High Conductor. She had already notice, and they both watched him tip the lithe glass cylinder and suckle from it while a handful of dancers held their hands out for him, and he passed them by gracing their fingertips without stopping to take their invitation. Kaever was known to be a cat of leisure. To Enslen it was a bit distasteful, having seen the magi be entirely uncaring in times of chaos, but it was also a bit endearing. Strange then, that he’d gone along this time, with such insistence. It seemed Kaever was forgetting that urgency now. Enslen didn’t know how to feel about that.

“He is capable of enjoying himself anywhere.” Saeli injected and had somehow acquired a token for their continued travel. Enslen reached back to make sure this vivid market, where everything was at arm’s reach or closer, would not steal his most priced processions. The staff that was his twin swords was safe. “I once saw him finish the page he was reading with a knife sticking out of his shoulder.” Enslen smiled widely, readying laughter before his jaw set a bit more lax, staring at her. She was not exaggerating. She offered a nod to comfirm what she had gossiped. He looked toward Kaever again, who had lost the dainty container somewhere.

“I think that kind of recklessness is a testament to the importance of the Magus Guard.” He said with determination. As he shifted his bag on his shoulder, he realized it was heavier than it should be, and then came to the conclusion Kaever had hidden his own baggage in with it. Enslen’s mouth shrunk and his nostrils flared. “And sensible wielders like yourself.” He added. There were perfectly reasonable magi that he knew of, all of them starting their careers. It seemed you lost much of your grip on the world the deeper into the aether you went. “Magic belongs to everyone, but since it only caters to some, those few have a great responsibility. I can’t wait to see you in higher ranks.”

She thought of her prowess as her finger ran over the chip that would pay for their next transportation. Enslen had seen the rising walls around the Dawnstrike. If she was as reasonable as he thought, then she was not in control the way she ought. His view was important, she saw now, to anchor her. He was like her crew, like her family, like the rest of the races who weren’t magic by nature. She must not lose herself in the corridors of the Academy, where the world seemed simple and they discussed crises and advised in them coldly, from an above perspective. How she would hate to be that kind of scholar. “I hope I can make a difference worth all the effort.”

“Whatever the progress in your training, I believe you’ll use your magic in a way that will benefit Sabvon.” He assured her. It earned him a smile he would remember.

Saeli was well at home here, and herded both her companions easily. Even Kaever, who seemed to veer wherever his whims pointed, eventually found himself by the station. The Ubor Dragons eating their seaweeds - a delicacy for them, so fresh here, surely - weren’t enough to deter people crowding close to bid on seats in the caravan. Enslen wondered which of these vehicles would be Saeli’s choice, and would then commit it to memory as the fastest or best one, for future travels. Kaever stayed close to her, which left Enslen lugging their luggage on her other side, and sometimes trailing back, when the path in the crowd was narrow. He was loosing sight of them and assumed they were headed toward the stalls by the dragons.

Suddenly there was a clatter of metal and Kaever's voice. And silence close to the still shaking pipes that had dropped. "Oh, it seems you dropped something, my dear animal." Enslen, who had been watching a group of pickpockest beautifully orchestrate a wave of petty crime through the unaware people, had to hurry to see what the High Conductor had done now, after deciding to leave the skilled and probably poor thieves to their quarry. When he shuffled through enough bodies, there was Kaever, and a behemoth twice his length.

"Ecraia." Enslen breathed as he came to Saeli's side. She was only now getting through. They took work, labor, in places like markets or building sites, because larger carriages had a hard time navigating the cramped spaces. He'd seen single individuals lift cartloads of ware. She would have seen as much. "This one's military. Just started working here." he said to her and placed his own cargo by her feet. For a laboring Ecrian, this male was short, and his muscles were taut, earned from explosive training and not a life of burden.

Kaever, hands behind his back, wore the demeaning expression he liked to use to emphasize a joke. The Ecrian did not see the humor. "Seems strange." Saeli said, looking down at the bags she'd been tasked with before trying to hang them on herself. "He was in a good mood. Why would he do that?" she muttered and then discovered the boy with a mangled leg, crying at the edge of the ring the crowd had evacuated for Kaever's scene. Enslen followed the direction of her gasp and hummed with tight teeth.

"I think Kaever is selling his particular brand of charm. Good cause." Though he looks like he doesn't really care about the kid. "But high price." Both of them were stuck waiting while the would-be Sire conversed with subtle gestures to the fuming giant. In the end the High Conductor of Misericordia lifted a finger to have the Ecrian wait. Enslen dropped his shoulders in surprise and hopelessness for Kaever's character. "Why is he coming over here?"

"Maybe he would like some help?" Saeli suggested just in time for his arrival. She saw his nonchalant eyes and knew there was touble afoot.

"Guard. Please dispatch of that meat-shed over there. He seems to think I flicked one of the copper pipes he was carrying. I'm surprised he stopped for that and not the poor boy's leg." Kaever's voice was appropriately disintressted.

"Go magic him out of existence yourself, I don't..." Enslen tried, grabbing Saeli's arm to bring her along, away from this madness, to help the child.

"...I'll magic his injuries out of existence if you take care of the peace, peace keeper." Kaever said and crossed his arms. Saeli was determined to step in, after all, with Misericordia, a brute should not be a problem, but Enslen was already challenged by the look in Kaever's eyes.

"You're the worst." he muttered and strode toward the large threat. "You see my uniform. Please calm down and leave." This elicited the only response Enslen supposed it was worth, which was laughter, both from the antagnoist above, and the crowd around him. "Alright. Don't do what you're going to..." he tried, seeing the tension in the Ecrian's shoulder. The strike was a fact, and Enslen stepped inside the swing to throw himself up by the elbow. The heels of his boots stomped the Ecrian's chin from beneath and it gave Enslen time to land as the giant staggered back.

He was about to ruin this man's knees with his weapon, but as he reached for it on the back of his belt, it was wrenched from its setting. Enslen twisted back and grabbed it in the air. It was encircled with blue script. At the distance he'd left him, Kaever was beckoning the weapon, mouthing 'no sword' as Saeli tugged at his arm. Enslen scowled just in time to be snatched up by the enemy. He cussed at his own reckleness and waited to be tossed before he grabbed the thumb of the offending hand as he left it. Momentum was spent to break the crucial digit and Enslen could land safely.

"Listen, just let me set it, and you can go back to work in a few days." he said, but from this angle he could see the boy nursing his leg. It was enough to foul Enslen's mood in time for the backhand the Ecrian offered in response. With new determination the war-tested Guard jumped to meet the large swipe, arching both of his own connected hands to collide atop the falling one. This translated the giant's energy further down that he'd intended, and resullted in him toppling forward. Enslen landed before the giant could rise and proceeded to tackle into the Ecrian's temple. After that, when the offender managed to stand up, it was no trouble felling him again with some wide kicks to the outside of his legs. After two attempts to get upright and crashing harder everytime Enslen thwarted him, the Ecria stayed down on his belly.

"Order over magic." Enslen said, as the Magus Guard always said, and stepped on his wrist. When the Ecrian roared, he hushed him with a look and then reached down to grab hold of the thumb her'd pulled out of place. Another roar when he set bone back in accordance with its joint. "You're a bastard. But you're going to be fine." he said and stepped off the arm just in time to catch his weapon flying back at him. Saeli was already rushing to help the boy and Kaever wasn't far behind. Enslen sighed and and squatted down, close to the Ecrian's face. "You can do a few more trips with just one arm. I'm sure you've had worse. Watch where you're going, though." he nodded to the boy, his leg encircled by Saeli's magic. "He'd be worse off than you if we hadn't been here."

Suddenly Enslen was very anxious to get on their transport.

VenomousEve

  • Posts: 591
  • Crunch.
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #21 on: November 19, 2016, 07:20:22 pm »
“I don’t know how to heal,” Saeli said, frowning as she wove flickering blue glyphs around the boy and his injured leg. Kaever was drawing slow invisible symbols in the air, enchanting small and sweet illusions to ease the boy’s mind while Saeli tended to his physical. Kaever gave her a sly little smile.

“With Misericordia? Apparently, neither do I.” He hummed as Enslen came toward them, his work with the unpleasant giant complete. “You can move with your mind though, same as I. Fit him back together is all, at least we can bind him and leave him to heal correctly. Nith would call it brute force, but it will do.” He suggested. Saeli had already set to that task, having no better Magic to offer him. She nodded wordlessly, concentrated on feeling for each shard of bone in the child’s leg and hemming it back to its proper place. She had set a bone this way once for his brother, but it had been a simple break without all the jagged this boy offered.

“Vidagar, you’ve got to have toted some basic medical supplies with you, I imagine.” Kaever said. Enslen nodded confirmation, setting his pack down with a thud. He wondered if anything of Kaever’s had broken when he’d cast it off to deal with the Ecrian. He wished he’d set the pack down a bit harder now, just to ensure it. Still, he was not inclined to be petty when the boy they were tending to was suffering. He undid the thick brass clasps on the pack and began to rummage within. He’d not brought more than the minimal supplies all the Guards carried. Enough to limp home on, in theory. Bandaging, of course, did fall within that purview and he was quick to locate a thick roll of cotton strips with a dried salve crushed into the fiber.

Saeli’s fingertips were flickering with faint blue light as she adjusted and shifted the damaged bone and tissue back to what seemed close to good order. She had not been raised to have any great knowledge in that regard and thought to ask Nith for some lessons when they returned home. If she could become helpful in this regard, she was want to learn it. “I think you should bind him now.” Saeli said. The boy whimpered once and fell silent with a wave of Kaever’s hand as he pressed an pleasant illusion a bit deeper onto his consciousness. Enslen glanced around and spied a copper pipe the Ecrian had not recovered several feet away. He darted over to pick it up, unsheathing one blade and cleaving the thinly drawn metal tube in one clean motion. Taking the smaller segment back to them, he used it to stabilize the child’s leg and then bound it up.

Both Kaever and Saeli sat back when the leg had been fully bandaged. “You were quite efficient,” Saeli remarked. Enslen shrugged. He’d attended to more than a few other Guards in the field before. “Are you feeling a little better?” she asked the boy then, who was still breathing harshly through his nose to hold back tears. He nodded, gritting his teeth, and even tried on a smile for her. She pressed her hands to his cheeks and smiled back. “You’ll heal good as new if you’re patient and strong. I am sorry I couldn’t do more for you.” She said. He nodded, biting his lip and staring at her with a slight daze in his wide brown eyes. It was not lost on either Kaever or Enslen.

“The Stormer did most of the hard work you know,” Kaever offered. Enslen almost laughed. Kaever would not have said such a thing if the boy wasn’t there to hear it. The child startled and nodded.

“Thank you, Mister. Thank all of you.” He rubbed his fist under his nose to smear his snot politely. Saeli let him go and stood.

“We should be going.” She said. Enslen was quick to agree. As the three made to leave, Enslen glanced back over his shoulder.

“Keep that leg warm. There’s a salve in the bandages that will ease the pain, but it requires a bit of heat.” He waved. Saeli was quick with selecting a caravan for them, clambering up onto the wide vehicle and waving her two companions after her. They sat down on either side of her to wait, Kaever looking back to verify the child they’d left behind was getting appropriate assistance making his way home. It appeared a few other children had appeared out of the throng to offer him supportive shoulders as he limped off down the road. “These vehicles always astound me.” Enslen was saying, when the Conductor returned his attention to the other two.

It seemed that neither his Scholar nor the Guard were overly perturbed by the ruckus he’d thrust them into. He smirked. Surely they both would have complained to every available god had there not been some manner of feeling altruistic about it in the end. Truthfully, he would not have minded simply watching Enslen go hand to hand with the Ecrian for the entertainment of it. There was no way the Guard would have been bested, but Kaever could enjoy the tussle regardless. He didn’t feel maliciously toward the man. He just liked to see any of the Guards struggle a bit when possible. Kaever felt they could use being put into their place a bit. Enslen was simply the face of the entire Magus Guard for him, at the moment. He glanced at Saeli and frowned. She’d be upset with him if she knew his sentiment and that would spoil the fun of it. He sighed.

“They’re really a marvel of Vaentatori ingenuity, you know. They aren’t beautiful like the whisper ships but they’re still incredible.” Saeli was explaining. “Of course, it was the Merlings in the Trident who built the first ones and nobody really talks about it. They used small, single drawn flats to tote their hauls from the caves.” She patted the side of the broad vehicle. “Lowly origins, by most standards, but now here they are being used to move the whole of Isla Vaenta around like clockwork.” Up ahead, the pair of Voriff Gryphons pulling the flat let out sharp chirps as they lunged forward and the vehicle began to move.

Saeli sighed and stretched. “I used to want a Voriff really terribly when I was young.” She said. The gryphons were peculiar and well-loved throughout the Isla. They had been bred to have broad webbed paws and inky black fur and feathers that slicked away water like the entirety of the beasts were made of oil. Large, but lean, with finely feathered wings that pulled low on their shoulders and could be used for swimming a good deal better than flying. Like the gryphons that pulled them, the flats were odd to look at but excellently suited to travel by either land or sea, set on flexible runners that sliced through the water as easy as they glided like sleighs over land.

The trip from Hesperitte to Cil took half the day, and the trio arrived on Saeli’s home island at sunset. It seemed all three of them had drifted off to sleep shortly after the Voriffs plunging into the sea for the swim from Hesperitte, less than half way through their trip. When they woke, the Voriffs were already warm and dry and the three had sunk into a haphazard pile of limbs during their slumber together on their bench. Enslen was the first to detangle himself, hasty when he found himself in uncomfortably close proximity to Kaever. Kaever was only a breath slower at removing himself from where he’d slumped against Saeli’s shoulder. Caught in the middle of it, Saeli was left stiff and grimacing.

She wasn’t left time to complain to them as they disembarked, tipping their coachman as they stepped off. There was a loud shout, and then a young man still wearing the fine lanky awkwardness of adolescence came barreling toward them. “Saeth!” he shouted, plowing into her at full force. Kaever and Enslen were both quick to attempt to intervene, but Saeli was laughing from where she lay on the flat of her back.

“You idiot, Rath!” She gasped, struggling to catch her breath between her shaking laughter and the force of his tackle. The youth had already rolled back to his feet and grabbed her hand from where he crouched to help her up. They embraced tightly. The boy was darker than Saeli, with the same dark hair and eyes that matched hers through a haze of grey. “How did you get word already?” she asked, holding him by the shoulders. He was a full head taller than her, but her tone placed quickly which of them was the elder sibling.

“Saeli, you know how word travels around here. There was news of a scuffle in Hesperitte near the Voriff eyrie and some Academy folk and a Stormer patching up a kid. I figured there couldn’t be too many other girls with ‘eyes like the sea’ traveling with a Magus Guard on a flat to Cil.” He said reasonably. Saeli scoffed. She seemed to recall she’d been accompanied then and hastily whirled Rath around to face Kaever and Enslen.

“Conductor Oblynt, Enslen, this is my baby brother Rath,” she said brightly. Kaever looked mildly amused.

“I couldn’t have guessed.” He said. “I am High Conductor of Misericordia Kaever Oblynt, but Kaever will do.” He said to Rath, bowing slightly. Enslen followed suit.

“Enslen Vidagar of the Magus Guard. It’s good to meet you.” The Guard said. Rath grinned, and he shared his sister’s smile.

“Saeth, you have such fancy friends now.” He said, bowing back. Saeli sighed.

“Saeth?” Kaever inquired. Enslen had not missed the name either. Rath snickered.

“Ah, right. Lady Windvice, my apologies. Saeli, sweet sister…” he began and Saeli tossed him face first onto the sandy soil with a tip of her chin, a bright flash of blue slapping him across the back. “Cheater!” he exclaimed.

“It is what my father called me when we traveled. Our kingdom is progressive but the slave trade is not and a young woman on a merchant vessel is troublesome.” She said blandly. “Or had you not noticed my boyish charm?” She stepped over to help her brother back to his feet. He was still grinning. “Come, it is a fair walk to the Windvice. She docks on the Floating City, not Cil proper.” Rath fell into step with Enslen quickly, eager to ask about the Guard. For a young man, there was still a bit of mystique and romance surrounding the white haired knights. Content to leave them occupied, Kaever moved to walk beside Saeli.

“You’re certain your father is not at sea presently?” he asked. Saeli nodded.

“Foremost, Rath would have said so by now if he were. Beyond that, I know his routes and the times of year he takes them. I know the adjustments he’d make by weather. I lived and breathed this world for twenty years before I came to the Academy. I know its schedules better than my current ones,” she shrugged. Kaever accepted her answer with a tip of his chin.

“It was not accusatory, more curiosity.” He assured her. She led them to a long wooden bridge, extending out over the water and swaying with the soft roll of the moored ship to which it was tied. “The Floating City is not a place I have visited. In general, there is not much need for Academicians to make their way out to this part of the Isla. I have read of it, though, and I must admit it’s quite a sight to behold.” He commented, following her onto the bridge and peering over the side with some interest. Saeli looked a bit proud.

“I am fond of the entire Isla and Hesperitte is beautiful, but the Floating City is the heart of Isla Vaenta, by my estimation.” She said.   

Verse

  • Posts: 1443
  • blue in nothing
    • View Profile
Re: Misericordia
« Reply #22 on: November 20, 2016, 04:59:14 pm »
Chapter IV: Course

With the sun leaving the world, and the ships that had been built into one floating body in the water, there was little anyone could say to contradict Saeli's words. It did look like a heart, even, the kind of heart Nith might be familiar with. Morbid, what the water and the tossed lines would be in that likeness, but he felt attached to the comparison. Everything worth while had to be severe in some way. "If Saeli of the Windvice says so, then nothing else can be true." he said and watched a boy plunge from a bow that would never sail again. This place, as the windows started to light up through the blue that the time of day cast, was magical in a sense you would not find in the Academy.

Turning back to her, he had to be conscious not to smile too wide. She, in this light and in this coming darkness, fit in perfectly. Her steps were carefree and expert on the planks of the bridge, and she did not wear all the burdens she did when she was at the gate. He felt glad to have agreed to go on the Windvice instead of traveling all the way with the sleek Dawnstrike, if only to know Saeli this way. "In this place, I suppose I am the student and you are the teacher." he mused and watched her roll the thought in her mind before laughing shortly and shaking her head.

"Well, if I am to teach you anything about this place, it is to mind the tides." She thought it was incredibly ludicrous to lead Kaever through anything that wasn't directly connected to manners, but it wasn't an entirely off-putting scenario. If not profound, then it could at least be entertaining. He was out of place, though in muted robes and open demenor. It wasn't unreasonable to expect his skin to dim when the day did, or that his eyes shouldn't have those two colors, anymore, but here he was, a butterfly in hanging cloth wings that she brought from the sanctuary where she studied craft, studied him. "Perhaps just stay close to me for the duration." she added, a jest on his inability. Saeli was a little surprised when Kaever, without looking at her, gradually moved closer to her with every step, until she felt she graced the rope on the side of the boards so they wouldn't be too intimate. He gave his usual smirk.

"If it's for safety, I defer to you, sailor." he said, voice not betraying his game the way his actions did. She frowned and hurried with two strides to get away, and then he walked with a comfortable amount of air between them, again. He was always playing, and she supposed she should think that was alright, mostly she did, but he was never teaching. That was not the kind of teacher she needed him to be. She sighed and wondered, like before, why he was so grave about going - it could not be just her training - when he was not very concerned of other, much more imminent matters. She was wearing a question, and supposed she should ask it too, since his rigid walk suggested he was waiting.

"Why do..."

"Will your family's pride and the elevation to your name be enough?" he offered, decapitating her intentions. She looked at him with as much understanding as anyone could after what he'd said. He continued. "To keep you away from this." He looked around, and took in the orange lantern light in the increasingly green and blue evening. "This." He wasn't being sardonic, or making a mockery of neither her future at the Academy or her past here. He was asking if the two could reconcile. He looked earnest and curious.

"There's that, like I've said before, but there is also something for myself, personally, at the Academy." she said. It didn't feel like a confession because she hadn't hidden it, even if she supposed she hadn't talked to anyone openly about it, either. "The sea and my family on the Windvice, they are part of me, but so is this magic. It can't be developed without me being at the academy." she looked at him as she realized what she would say next. "Or without you, as things stand." If he heard it as affectionate that's not how she meant it. He didn't seem to be touched. "So while I'd like to be back here at Cil, or on the Windvice, those things can go on without me, but the potential I have for magic won't grow if I don't put effort in."

Kaever was glad to understand her better. He'd never had any path but the magic. It had found him the same as he'd found himself with it. And he had never know any other life. The craft kept him alive, and it made that life easy. He realized her relationship to that part of herself was not the same. He wanted to ask her if she was happy with fulfilling her potential. A calling is not always a pleasant song. Many suffered for their responsibilities and Saeli Windvice seemed like exactly the kind. But Kaever didn't ask if she was happy with her choice, because he wasn't sure he could forget her answer if it was somber. And then he couldn't give her whatever happiness he had for her the same way he could without that knowledge.

"Well, know that is has grown quite a bit then, since you first danced with Solasette without touching them." he said, instead. She laughed, honestly at first, and then a bit nervous, because she thought that wasn't really a laughing matter.

"And more in Na'arat." she added. In the little silence that hurried in she thought it was an odd encouragement for Kaever to have given. She thought he would be pleased with her softer attitude toward their destination but instead he hung his head. When she was about to ask him how he was, a soft crackle mixed with the buzz of the floating city. She recognized it soon, and shortly after that, when she and Kaever were on either side of the wooden walk, familiar lights haunted the water beneath them.

A rumbling on the surface, and Enslen laughed in excitement behind them. Rath asked what was happening, and the Guard said something fast just as the sounds hummed louder. Rath had not seen this before, not like this. They had encountered schools of mantafolk before, but their electricity was not as refined as that of the half-blood Xijja. It seemed her metabolism had finally found the potent blubber that laced Bhema meat. Too bad the Argen crew had not gotten to see this. Even the inhabitants of the floating city stopped, some of them, to see what was happening in the water around the birdgewalkers.

Xijja broke surface with myriads of drops, and cut the humming with a whistle. Her mouth was wide in a smile, morbid but gleeful, as she flew in an arc above Enslen and Rath. Saeli laughed when the mantawoman traveled, arms out. The Guard's reaction was to reach for her, even though slowing her momentum would surely land her on the bridge. Xijja touched his fingers with her webbed and clawed ones. They both knew not to lock a hold. She dove into the water on the otherside to some cheers from the natives and Rath's celebration. Enslen was wet with the water she'd whisked with her on her jump and he bent over the side to look at the foam and cloud she left in the seawater.

She whistled soon again, and breached closer to Saeli this time. She gasped as Xijja brought along a dress of drops on her flight. Kaever's robes became wet and he smiled up into the provided rain. Saeli thought he looked carefree, staring up at their private marine escort. When he turned to Saeli, the ends of his long hair were darker, heavier, and the red wounds in his blue eyes bled into the saturated air like beetle-shell dye dragged over a linen canvass. The marks in the air faded, a trick of the light, and he was content, not amused. Xijja splashed to dive again, behind Saeli, and Enslen and Rath ran between Scholar and Conductor to follow the performing mantawoman as she continued to show off for them along the length of the bridge.

"Are you still a child, immortal, looking like that, Kaever?" she asked, and didn't know why. Kaever wasn't offended, nodding. The waft of Enslen's march caught up and danced with some of her hair by her cheek.

"But I can behave, sometimes." he assured her and took her hand to move them onward.

She didn't know either, why she let go to catch up to Enslen when the guard looked back, or why she laughed in a strange way, hiding her hand behind her back.

Now that they knew Xijja was with them, it wasn't hard to notice the little swirls on the surface that might be her. She was not dependent on the tide for her life the same way they were. Fantastical creature, really. The merlings here should like to meet her, but they wouldn't, and that was probably why she wasn't more interactive once they were on the Floating City itself. Kaever was dry, a spell he'd said quietly, surely, and Enslen was in high spirits. She thought it was either Rath's company, or Xijja's show or both.

She quickly brought them through the narrow ways between buildings. Ideally, she wanted them to revel in the build of things, but the place they needed to see was closing soon. In-fact, the old Maira was just grabbing the stick that held the window of her booth open. Her wrinkles deepened when she saw Saeli, and Saeli left the three men to run ahead. She stood on her toes to hug Maira and listen to her go on about how she'd grown since last, even though it was impossible. Nonetheless, it was lovely to see her favorite cook, and beyond Saeli's own controll she squealed when Maira held up a glass jar stuffed full of seawater brined cucumber.

Enslen caught up just in time to ask what the commotion was about. Maira was very delighted to see a guard at her window.

"Seali! That's a Magus Guard!" Maira explained, Saeli nodded and wanted to apologize for coming so late. "Oh, sir, you must be hungry! Did Saeli not feed you yet? I'll see if I have some weat for the plate and then tomorrow's dishes are mostly ready." she started, fussing in the small space, pulling down other jars and reaching into the watery barrel.

"No, no, Maira, dear. We're just sampling. I wanted to show them some of your specialties and then we're looking for my father." she insisted. The old woman didn't stop to listen, but at least some of her urgency went away.

"You shouldn't come so late." Maira mumbled as she started cutting up a few things. Keaver stuck his head into the window as well, and it was almost too much for the owner. "And this! Who is this! Oh, Saeli, are all the men you travel with handsome?" Kaever was about to be clever, but Maira was tugging at his hair to bring him in closer. He did not seem to harbor the shock or respect Enslen was mute with, but then again, as Saeli forgot often, Kaever was quite old himself. Maira was most certainly his junior.

"Lady, I assure you I am as handsome as Saeli will ever cohort with." he said when she let go. Maira didn't care for his vanity and waved him back so she could continue her fussing with the food. Enslen laughed and Kaever took a step back, waiting.

"Found someone who's not so impressed by your humor, Magi?" Enslen pressed, crossing his arms.

"I'm sure my own time to be critical will come." he replied as Saeli took a wooden skewer still on the board and sat down in a chair before stabbing one of the cucumber slices in the jar. It crunched just right between her teeth. Enslen joined her but Kaever remained standing, at first, looking around. He eventually came to sit, too, when the old woman laid down a plate of her best cuts from the sea, and side dishes that made her window one of the most visited. Kaever lifted a thin filet and held it up before stuffing it in his mouth, breathing in pleased puff. Enslen, who saw the plate from another angle, took out a knife from below the wooden edge, and stabbed it into a white cube.

Saeli didn't know if it was funnier that Enslen had gotten to poke fun at Kaever's table manners, or that Kaever had thought nothing about eating with his hands.