Background noise

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Re: Background noise

Postby Drannin » August 4th, 2010, 12:50 pm

Spoiler: show
Argus blinked, startled, and touched his cheek. "Er... well, yes... I suppose I do." He was honestly at a loss for words, and had no idea how to respond.

Neither did Harker, who had slipped in unnoticed and intended to remain that way. He saw the kiss, and was fairly certain that he was getting certain... connotations behind it.

How very interesting.
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Re: Background noise

Postby Graybeard » August 6th, 2010, 8:03 pm

"What??" Layla and Faye said in unison. (Zachary giggled and gurgled out his own "Wa?" shortly afterward.)

"You are in danger," Kitaura repeated himself. He made a complex hand gesture, and a section of wall folded down into a table, which a moment later had a tea service sitting on it. A snap of Kitaura's fingers, and steam began to billow from the teapot. "Permit me to explain," he said as he poured for his visitors.

Layla took the tea with a slight bow; she was remembering Tsuirakuan rituals from her time in Kiyoka, where she'd been a shrewd business operator who needed to know such things. Would Zachary be getting more second-hand caffeine than was good for him? She thought he could live with it. She sipped at the tea as Kitaura continued -- but not as she was expecting..

"I sense your hesitation, Ms. Sorensen," he said. "Be reassured that I have served you herbal tea. Your child will be unharmed by it."

Well, that's thoughtful, she thought. Maybe this encounter was going to be more amicable than she'd been expecting. The two women settled back to listen to what Kitaura had to say.
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Re: Background noise

Postby Graybeard » August 7th, 2010, 9:30 am

"You have become enmeshed, quite inadvertently and against your will, in an internal affair of Tsuiraku," Kitaura said, sipping his own tea. "I trust you will understand that it is necessary to be discreet in describing this matter." Layla wasn't sure whether he meant that he wasn't going to tell them any more about "this matter" himself, or that he expected silence from them, being "discreet" and not saying anything about it to the other people at the vineyard; both, probably. She nodded silently -- a Tsuirakuan would have no trouble interpreting that -- and let him continue.

"Certain misguided forces in Tsuiraku have unfortunately taken it upon themselves to make this matter even more -- inconvenient than it previously was," Kitaura went on. "They have deployed new systems whose capabilities are unknown to us. We have certain information that they will be appearing at that unfortunate structure outside your fine enterprise, possibly as early as tonight. For that reason, we extend you our hospitality here at the consulate for the evening, to be safe from whatever attack they may execute."

"Wait a minute," Faye interrupted; she wasn't as sensitive to Tsuirakuan social nuances as her daughter. "There are a bunch of other people at the vineyard too." She went on to describe Gault's weird crew, carefully omitting any mention of Jamie and Jasmine; why make things any more complicated?

"We know this," Kitaura said, his face unchanged. "Mr. Gault has business of his own that is of no concern to Tsuiraku." (He didn't know yet how wrong he was in this assertion.) "It would not be appropriate for us to extend our protection to that group." He didn't elaborate -- but Layla noticed another omission.

"Uh, not to seem ungrateful or anything, but my boyfriend is out there too," she said. "Can you at least -- extend your 'protection' to him?"

This time, Kitaura's face did change. The studiedly flat, reptilian mask slipped, and the look that replaced it was even blanker, as though he'd been genuinely surprised. Did he not know about Ace? Layla wondered; apparently not, and who could tell, it might even have been a reasonable slip, given that Ace hadn't been around much. After a moment, the previous expression returned to his face. "That is -- unfortunate," he averred. "We will investigate and take whatever actions are appropriate. And now, let me demonstrate the capabilities of this hospitality suite that we are placing at your disposal for the night..."
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Re: Background noise

Postby Graybeard » August 10th, 2010, 8:37 am

The "hospitality suite" was impressive, Layla had to admit. Beds emerged from the wall at a touch, including one with crib-like bars for Zachary. There was even a changing table -- how had the Tsuirakuans possibly anticipated a need for that? When she put it to good use, the resulting dirty diaper was easily disposed of in a receptacle that emitted a soundless flash, and what she recognized as a magical Hygiene spell (gotta learn that one, she thought) did the rest.

She was about to give Kitaura her sincere thanks for this unexpected boon when a Tsuirakuan aide bustled into the room. A brief, whispered conversation followed. Kitaura's face creased in a frown (and the aide turned pale at the sight). "Hmmm ... that is unfortunate," said the man who never raised his voice ... and the aide went paler yet.

He turned back to the two women. "A thing has come up that requires my attention. Sleep well. An orderly will appear in the morning with a breakfast that I trust you will find highly satisfactory. And now, if you will excuse me..." He didn't hang around for goodbyes, but followed his aide out of the room at a trot.
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Re: Background noise

Postby Graybeard » August 12th, 2010, 9:03 pm

"This has been unexpectedly pleasant," Layla remarked to her mother over the promised "highly satisfactory" breakfast.

They'd slept surprisingly well, considering the weirdness of the surroundings, and in Layla's case, the absence of Ace. She'd stayed up a bit later than intended worrying about him, but then her businesslike side, developed through years of experience with the Gewehr (and, to be sure, cultivated by her mother and the rest of the Gewehr brain trust) despite her youth, kicked in: she couldn't do anything more for him until she got back to the vineyard, so why worry? She decided it was okay to simply be impressed by the courtesies they were being extended, and slept soundly, although she rose a bit earlier than she otherwise might have -- which turned out to be important.

The orderly who'd brought the breakfast -- a young human, Layla noted, rather than a magical delivery, which had certain implications she wanted to think about -- was also impressed, but for very different reasons. He'd been expecting two mothers and a baby. He hadn't been expecting one of the mothers to be a babe.

Layla had had time, following her feeding Zachary and taking a brief spin on the improbable treadmill that had somehow appeared in the room -- how did the Tsuirakuans know about her morning jog? -- to clean up and put on just the tiniest bit of makeup. The effect on a twenty-year-old Tsuirakuan male a continent away from home was dramatic; so dramatic, in fact, that he made a rather serious error that, had Kitaura ever learned about it, would have got him skinned alive (or at least so his screaming nerve endings would have believed).

Like most of the people at the consulate, the orderly was actually a competent spellcaster. He had orders, after seeing the women out of the consulate and into the gate building, to cast a quiet spell that would blur the memories that Faye and Layla had of what they'd heard -- nothing lethal or disruptive, just to make sure that they wouldn't be able to remember any of the details of their interaction with Kitaura. But so smitten was this poor young man with the beautiful young mother he was escorting that he quite forgot his orders ... with the result that the women's memories remained intact as they started back to the vineyard.

[OOC: And with this, the excursion of Faye and Layla into this thread comes to an end, and they'll be able to get back into the main one and pass along what they saw and heard. Yeah, probably not the most ... natural ... way of advancing the plot, but anyway...]
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Re: Background noise

Postby Graybeard » August 15th, 2010, 2:39 pm

[OOC: Since it's been a long time, here's a not-so-brief glimpse of the BBEG, vintage August 2010...]

How did the human race ever last so long? Elke groaned mentally as she (so to speak) heaved herself out of bed. If every pregnant woman got morning sickness like this, nobody would ever have more than one kid, except for twins... Well, John (she was one of very few people in the world who could use Mr. Stagpoole's first name without fear of something awful happening to her) was out on the fishing boat somewhere, so she was going to have to cover the weekly conference call for the Convergence Committee ... and from what she'd heard, it wasn't going to go well.

"Report," the scary man said without preamble, as soon as all the connections were made.

"I guess I'm first," Elke said, hoping she wouldn't throw up again. "There's good news and not-so-good news. We continue to have close surveillance on the Man in the Middle. She's pretty well exactly what we've thought her to be, although a weird complication has come up: she seems to have adopted a child."

"Wait a minute," the new guy on the committee -- she could never remember his name -- said. "The Man in the Middle is a woman? And a new mother at that? Isn't that a little off base?"

You'd certainly think so, the way you and your ridiculous church treat women, Elke thought, but her spoken words were more even-tempered. "'Man in the Middle' is just an expression," she said. "It's her qualifications for the job that matter, and those are impeccable."

"Don't worry about it," the scary man said. "We have faith in you." (That, Elke reflected, was enough to take her mind off the morning sickness for a while.) "Now how about the others? You're carrying a little extra load for Mr. Stagpoole here."

In more ways than you know. "That's where the news is not all so good. The candidate Beast from the East is right where we left him, as far as we can tell. He's only under general surveillance, but trolls don't move around much, and somebody checks up on him now and then -- right, Gryffyd?" The fish-man gurgled an affirmative answer, so Elke went on. "We're still not sure about his personality -- hard to judge that with a troll -- but he's definitely been seen to use magic, which male trolls simply do not do, so things still look very good. The crazy elf has also resurfaced, which gives us a fallback position if necessary."

She took a deep breath. "It's with the Terror of the North where things aren't going well. The original candidate, who looked very good, seems to have simply vanished off the face of the earth. He wasn't on the airship when it came into Rinkaiel, which was a big surprise. The story that one of my people picked up about why sounded so far-fetched that I don't know what to think about it. Anyway, he's gone. Sorry, this one was beyond our -- Mr. Stagpoole's control."

"Perhaps we can help," Gryffyd interjected. "Two ships have arrived in Rinkaiel that have very interesting potential candidates on them. We are using the ridiculous Tsuirakuan revolutionaries as cover to sort through the possibilities. Several seem violent enough, and sufficiently unencumbered by other loyalties, to be candidates."

Elke breathed a silent sigh of relief as the scary man responded. "Good. I'm glad you're working together on this one. It'll come together. Peter? Any news of the Southern Mage?"

The Gewehr man sounded nervous, Elke thought, and he had reason to be. "Not good. It's much as Elke said: the original candidate, who looked very good at first, just vanished. I'm not sure that's so bad by itself; she was so uncontrollable that I don't think she'd have worked out. The real problem is that we have no other candidates. Commerce with the Southern Continent has gone dry, and we had to close down our operation in Kiyoka so we don't have surveillance there."

"Hmmm," the scary man rumbled. (Elke fancied she could see Peter sweating, even though the conference crystal balls didn't have a visual capability. Well, that wasn't necessarily so bad; the Eisenfaust and Gewehr were still rivals, after all.) "We will have to return to that at length. First, can we dispose of the Wizard out of the West?"

The new guy, the Veracian, spoke up. "The original candidate is showing signs of personality disorders that may prevent him from serving. You will recall that he had been thought terminally estranged from Tsuiraku and its people. Before our information source was unfortunately lost, he obtained indications that that was not the case. Unfortunately, we can do no more with our source -- expended. The timing of that was unfortunate."

"I am aware of your opinion on that, Father," the scary man said icily. "You will do your best to replace your source. Meanwhile, is there another candidate?"

"Possibly. A young man from Tsuiraku has joined the doubtful candidate who may be more suitable."

"Very well, then, carry on," the scary man said. "Additionally, Elke and Gryffyd, you will look for possibilities among the population of Tsuiraku-town. And now, let us return to the problem of recruiting from the Southern Continent..."
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Re: Background noise

Postby Drannin » September 25th, 2010, 8:35 pm

(OOC: Finally posting a sort of 'where is he now' as regards Arsoro Kurou after getting knifed in the kidney by Drusia. So...)

"Wake up."

Arsoro Kurou opened his eyes, confused. Had he imagined it?

Drip. Drip. The IV. His constant companion. The lifesurgeons had reconstructed his kidney, and told him that he would have a clean bill of health soon enough. But he had to rest, and let the regeneration take effect. Kurou would certainly do so. He would rest, and heal. He was a patient man. Then he was going to murder the bitch who had done this to him. Just another item on the to-do list, albeit a pleasurable one...

Never mind. He was awake now, and had definitely heard someone's voice-

"Here."

Kurou's head whipped around to see a figure wrapped in shadows sitting near the hospital window. His eyebrow raised in amusement. "The lurker in darkness routine? How very old-fashioned of you-"

"I was being polite out of consideration for your condition," the voice responded. Polite? This individual barged into his room in the darkness and called it polite? "But very well." The lights came on, and Kurou was able to see his visitor. He blinked in surprise. The voice had been cold, toneless, but with a hint of anger behind it, and was definitely female... if only barely. The same description could be said of the woman in front of him. Stocky and solid, there was nothing gentle about her. She wasn't ugly per se, but she was a far, far cry from being attractive. Hard lines were etched into her face. Kurou figured that this woman could lift him up over her head and snap him in half... one-handed. As for her eyes, they glittered like icy coals, unblinking, staring directly at him.

Arsoro Kurou had heard of Captain Haniko Goto before, but never had the pleasure of her acquaintance. His first impression was that there was no pleasure to be had in being her acquaintance.

The stony-looking woman went on. "According to your doctors, you will be released soon from the hospital. No doubt you will be making another attempt to acquire the so-called Artifact of Absonial."

Kurou was startled. "How did you-"

"Don't underestimate me," Goto said flatly. Ye gods, Kurou marveled. With such a brusque attitude, how did she get so far in this society? The answer was obvious, of course. Haniko Goto was just that driven, and dangerous. Get in her way, and she went through you like you weren't even there. No one wanted to be on her bad side. "My information network is considerable, as are my own talents. But don't worry, I don't care about your pet projects. I just happened to come across you while tending to one of my own."

Did this woman ever blink? Distantly, Kurou wondered just how much Goto had seen before deciding he didn't give a damn if the woman had spied upon his dalliances. "So you know what I was doing. And now you're here. Fine. That means you have a reason for being here. What is it?" If she could be brusque, so could he.

Goto smiled mirthlessly, and Kurou was startled to find that he was chilled by it. "I'm here to offer you a chance to kill the elf that almost killed you... after she toyed with you like a puppet." Under different circumstances, Kurou would have retorted, but found he couldn't. What was it about this woman that made his hair stand on end? "In exchange..." Here Goto leaned forward as something danced in her eyes, her smile broad and suddenly vicious. "You will help me re-unite with an old friend of mine."

And suddenly Kurou saw what it was that danced in Haniko Goto's eyes. Danced, while kept under absolute control by her merciless will. That was reflected in her smile, and imbued her very being.

Insanity.

And suddenly Arsoro Kurou was laughing. Laughing, and exulting at the turn that things had taken, the new ally he had gained. Oh, things were going to be fascinating from now on! With a smile of his own, he turned to Goto. "Deal."
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Re: Background noise

Postby Graybeard » September 25th, 2010, 9:52 pm

OOC: Ooooo. The fun THIS could create ...
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Re: Background noise

Postby Porcelain Fish » October 5th, 2010, 8:59 pm

[OOC]Continuing from my post in Artifact of Absonial . . . [/OOC]

Maduin avoided glancing at the sometimes startlingly unsubtle but always impeccable Druisa. In point of fact, Bryce was doing plenty of staring for the both of them, still regarding the elven peregrine warily, hand no longer on the hilt of his sword but still not far from it.

"Thank you for the ride back," Maduin said warmly, folding his hands in front of him as he looked up into Bryce's green eyes, admiring the soldier's square-jawed features.

Bryce's gaze dropped from Drusia after a moment, a smile crossing his face as his eyes met Maduin's. "You're welcome." He shrugged his broad shoulders after a moment, visibly loosening up, and stepped forward, a pair of fingers closing on one of Maduin's lapels. His lips curved faintly. "I'm guessing this isn't where you're planning to set up your night club."

"You're very perceptive." Maduin's eyebrows rose. "I might change my mind though and come back one of these days. The place has . . . potential."

Bryce's smile widened, and he snorted faintly. He smoothed the lapel back into place, fingers sliding up to Maduin's collarbone and cupping the back of his neck “No,” he said bluntly. “It doesn't. It's too small for a pretty bird like you. You don't belong here.” His smile widened, became a smirk. “Besides, your half-elf isn't the only one who's trouble.”

Maduin nodded after a moment and lowered his eyes. Genuine regret swept through him.

“I guess this is good bye,” he said softly.

“Yeah, well – that's kind of not what I was thinking.” Bryce's tone was amused, his thumb lifting Maduin's chin so that hazel eyes met darkening green, the soldier's smile fading.

Gray eyes flashed in front of Maduin for a heartbeat. He started to pull back. Bryce's arm slid down to the small of his back, holding him in place.

“Someone's hurt you.” It wasn't a question. The square-jawed face tightened, green eyes hardening. “I won't let them do it again.”

“It wasn't me they hurt.” Maduin looked up into Bryce's face and willed him to understand.

Bryce just shook his head slightly. His voice was quiet. He didn't seem to even have noticed that people were gawking as they passed. “Then why are you bleeding inside?”

The moment Maduin realized that Bryce had seen right through his careful mask, he almost turned and fled. Only . . . somehow, he didn't want to. He wanted to stay here, to believe that Bryce was right.

Thomas's ghost was there at his shoulder, reminding him silently of what had happened to the last man who'd followed him to protect him.

He put his hands up to Bryce's chest to push him away, except that he couldn't seem to muster the strength, and under the gentle pressure at his back, he found his face pressed into the slightly rough fabric instead, ear carrying the sound of the strong, steady heart that beat beneath, resting against a warm body as hard as granite and yet still comforting despite it.

His eyes slid closed.

“Wait for me.” Bryce's fingers twined in Maduin's curls. “I'll be twenty minutes. No more.”

Maduin nodded slowly, and hoped he hadn't just sentenced Bryce to the same fate as Thomas.
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Re: Background noise

Postby Graybeard » October 17th, 2010, 9:10 pm

[OOC: This follows the departure of Sister Rose, Argus, etc., from Gervasiel, and I simply can't resist doing it ...]

Yes, this looks like just the kind of place where an Errant might hole up, Peregin Bauti thought as she approached the castle ruin.

She had to admit: the hawk-faced priest of that ridiculous Veracian religion had been giving her good dope, after all. She'd had her doubts. There had been persistent rumors of an Errant in Gervasiel for years, but several rangers had passed through town without noticing anything -- anyone -- out of the ordinary. She'd gone in suspecting that this Alaric, or whatever his name was, might have been hiding somebody. (A concubine, perhaps?) But she didn't even need to put on a Truth spell to observe his obvious distaste for half elves ... and he knew the countryside.

As she started her reconnaissance, her thoughts drifted momentarily to the two other elves she'd seen in this part of Veracia recently. The one who'd been up at the pass was a buffoon, plain and simple. He had some kind of business entanglement with the humans that she didn't care about, didn't particularly want to know about. She'd intimidated him sufficiently that he wasn't going to be hanging around this area any more, interfering with the work of the rangers.

But the other elf, now ... Honestly, she wasn't sure what to make of Drusia Valis. Elves like that weren't uncommon among the rangers; a bloody nuisance, yes, but not uncommon. Many who'd fought on the wrong side of the Errant War had used joining the rangers as an excuse to get out of Praenubilus Astu and avoid the scorn that was still there, amnesty or no amnesty. And, to be fair, Bauti knew that Drusia had killed more than a few Errants in her time, including one just a day or two before they'd seen each other in Lorenzel. So maybe her stalking of the pretty little Errant from Nautkia was legitimate, and she was just being cautious ... But probably not, she was probably going to take the Errant off to bed and let her go ... and to bed again ...

She put the thought out of her mind (although without wiping the leer off her face) as she came across the first evidence of recent habitation at the ruin. It wasn't much, just a little swatch of fabric that had been snagged on a bramble, but cattle and sheep didn't leave things like that around. A whispered spell, and the undergrowth bent away, revealing a path that led toward the keep.

Now we're getting somewhere, she thought.

[OOC: End of part 1; another to follow shortly.]
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