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Spheres of Silverhall

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Spheres of Silverhall

Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Aug 12, 2013 2:54 pm

30th of Arodus, 4711

The Swaggering Swan tavern was said to be owned by a bastard of one of the errant sons of House Lebeda.  A claim which was of course, not conceded by the great house of Brevoy.  Those who'd directed them to the local watering hole, had referred to the place as the Staggering Swan, again, for her proprietor, who seemed not only to be a bastard, but a drunken bastard to boot, given to excessive sampling of his wares.

All sailors' gossip aside, the tavern was well kept and well frequented by locals and travelers alike.  Just the sort of place that Wynnsaren was looking for to start the search for the man named by the corpse of Motsov Venere nearly six months ago in a black alley in New Stetvan.

Between Mivon and the recent troubles in Akiros, this had been put off for far too long.  If she was not careful to make good on her deal with Jokun, the Shadows might start creeping in on her.  She would not let it come to that.   Only a few days after the Hound of Tindalos had been put down, Wynn was back on the road.  Northwest this time, instead of south.  Ten days to New Stetvan where they took passage aboard a small ship named the Maid of Fortune to make the two day journey across Lake Reykal to Silverhall.

A grim ranger stalked along beside the aasimar as she walked toward their destination with a leashed Glas at her heels.  Kazimir Yanev insisted on accompanying her on this mission as he had the last, even though they'd only just recently returned from an extended stay in Mivon for diplomatic purposes.  It was an odd relationship, familial almost, and although comfortable, Wynn hardly knew what to make of it at times.  There were moments when her eyes would catch his steel gray ones and she'd understand that he didn't know what to make of it himself.  They were friends.   That much they mutually understood, and Wynn would trust him with her life if it came to that.  Hopefully it would not, yet seeking information on this man could well lead them into a perilous situation.  

"It was you who wanted this...."  Parting words from the vile moneylender, Jokun, had echoed in her thoughts since that day.  She'd have to tread carefully. . .

For this particular fishing expedition, the oracle had chosen to wear a soft woolen gown of contrasting emerald and olive greens, and accented with a thin golden braid along the neckline and the long, trumpet-shaped sleeves.

Simple, but comely and perfectly fitted as only the exuberant Mairis could manage.  Wynn was becoming quite fond of the castle's clothier in spite of being whisked off for frequent fittings and being poked and pinched and laced up in all directions.  It was Zaistrun she had to thank for all that.  He'd insisted that Novastasia's ambassador should look the part and though it took some getting used to, the magister was right.  

Upon entering the establishment, the patrons' eyes quickly fixed on the blue, leonine alien that loped in beside them.  The akata was a most excellent distraction.  

Wynn handed Glas' (pointless) leash to Kaz, who walked over to a table and sat while she moved toward the bar.

She ordered a glass of red wine and some tea from the barkeep, who kept one eye on the beast as he poured.

"He'll make no trouble, I assure you," Wynn smiled and found a seat in front of him, indicating that she was there for more than just a drink.  Also, to get a better look at him.

He was younger than the ranger by a few years, probably in his middling thirties, with course golden hair and a forked beard, which had been oiled and trimmed with great care.  Lines of concern ran along the length of his brow while tiny wrinkles at the corners of his eyes betrayed an easy smile.  He was well built she noted, with a form that had only just begun to soften with age, and large hands free of callous but for the tips of his fingers.  Her smile widened.   If the man wasn't a professional bard, then he was at least an accomplished player.  She liked players. . .  They usually proved to be loose of tongue and excellent dancers.

"Aye, I hope you're right," the blond man replied, still watching Glas.  "I assume he's the ranger's. . .pet. . ."  He looked then to Wynnsaren, finally seeing her for the first time.

"No, he's mine actually."

The barkeep's heavily waxed moustache twitched upwards in a grin.  "Which?  The ranger or the beast?"  He oozed, as his voice suddenly took on the qualities of silk and honey.

A coy smile was all the answer she gave.

"You three are plainly new here. . .  May I inquire as to your purpose in our fair city?"

Wynn took a sip of the cloyingly sweet wine.  

"I'm looking for someone, that I'd very much like to speak with.  Perhaps you know the name?  I could use your aid, as I'm at a loss for where to start my search. . ."  She nibbled on her lip and blinked up at him with a short, helpless sigh.  "The surname is Amputin."


Last edited by Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:49 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Mon Aug 12, 2013 3:19 pm

"Of course it is," the tender chuckled, dropping his head almost playfully. When he brought his face back in line with hers, he wore a bright smile that practically took in his ears. "I'm still waiting for the day a beautiful woman comes in anxious to speak to me!"

As he set about prepping the tea to finish her order, the tender continued, "Well, it should come as no surprise; my best years are behind me, after all!" He retrieved a canister of tea leaves from beneath the bar and flashed her a knowing grin. "So, you bringing business in, lass, or sending it out? Let me be the first to tell you that--if it's the latter--I can help you find middlemen far cheaper than that one and a great deal easier to work with."

The tender carefully poured steaming hot water into an ale mug, then turned back to her for a moment while the leaves steeped. "I'll not question your choices," he raised his hands in a placating fashion before putting them both back down onto the bar a little more than shoulder-width apart, "only offer you options. And, because I'm a sucker for a pretty face, I'll also repeat something you've heard a score of times or more by now: Welcome to Silverhall, merchant capitol of Brevoy, where nothing is free and very little is cheap!" He threw her a lighthearted wink to emphasize the point.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Mon Aug 12, 2013 8:59 pm

Another middleman. . .

Wynnsaren swirled the ruby red wine in the goblet a few times, considering the man's words. Whomever was behind the release of the entity from the meteor was being terribly careful. Two middlemen and a money lender were now involved. How far would this line of questioning stretch? And how high would it go? At least she'd come slightly more prepared this time, but even then she questioned whether it would be enough.

"You would be a great deal easier to work with. . . " The aasimar's pout quickly turned up into a grin. "You may say your best years are behind you, but such words would not slip from mine own lips. Is it not the practiced fingers that pluck the sweetest chords, sir?" She returned his wink. "I appreciate your wisdom and your options, but alas, it is this certain man I must seek out. He is difficult, you mention? There is no shortage of vile men in this world and they seem to be standing in my path at every turn."

Her left hand emerged from the voluminous sleeve and she reached out to slide it over top of his own, deftly tucking two gold coins in the space between his palm and the dark teak of the bar.

"For the drinks," Wynn smiled softly, "and your advice about where to find Master Amputin and perhaps how to best deal with the man."

She squeezed his hand briefly before her own retreated back into the sleeve and onto her lap as she took another sip of wine.

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Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:18 am

The tender shook his head with a smirk. "You are far too lovely to be so kind, lass. Silverhall won't know what to do with such a woman.

"And no need to call that one master in my presence," he assured her. "He's never earned such a title outside his own hearing."

He continued talking as he turned away to collect her tea and deftly pocketed her generosity. "Pitri Amputin is something akin to a swine and a sheep. He likes to roll around a lot in the mud and muck, but is about the most skittish thing you'll ever meet." The tender placed the tea down on the counter before her, replacing his hands in their customary locations. "That one will question everything you say. If you're too nice, he'll think you untrustworthy. If you're too callous, he'll bail quick as rodent caught in the open beneath a thunderclap. Plus, with you being new, it'll instantly put him on the defensive. Please don't take me as being demeaning, lass, as insulting you is furthest from my mind, but you'll have your hands full getting anything out of that one.

"As to where you'll find him, well, that's something of a trick too," he sighed at his own news. "He doesn't frequent any one place for fear he'll be too easy to find by the wrong sorts of people. Probably accurate on that count, too. I can put out some feelers for you; probably get something back before the night is through. Might even be able to get him in here if the offer rings true enough to him. But you'll need to give him something to bite on. Pitri isn't one to just show up for a talk."

The tender smiled suddenly and nodded down toward the tea. "And tell that lucky ranger of yours to be careful with that. It's powerful strong stuff come down from the other side of the Crown of the World."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 13, 2013 7:03 am

Her clouded eyes widened at his mention of the tea's origins.

"Ocha gyokuro. . . " Wynn sighed the word and closed her eyes, breathing in the memorable scent that threatened to send her mind tripping down dusty paths of the past. "It has been lifetimes since I've tasted this! Hmm. . . I won't rob my friend of his pleasure," she chuckled, obviously tempted to steal a swig, "but be assured dear sir, that I will be back for a mug of my own."

It hadn't taken long to find herself a favorite haunt when visiting Silverhall and if she danced well and played her cards correctly, then maybe there would be occasion to visit again. Careful steps. Cautious steps. This Pitri Amputin sounded like an entirely different animal than Jokun. That was something of a relief, but it also presented an entirely different set of problems and she didn't want to spook the man before ever laying eyes on him. Probably best not to mention that she got his name from a corpse. . .

Maybe he would find some interest in honest trade, she considered. After all, what better way to disguise illicit dealings than behind reputable ones. She'd have to wait and see whether such bait would be tempting enough for this fellow.

"As to Mister Amputin," she tilted her head to the barkeep, "perhaps you could let the word go out that I am seeking a trustworthy agent to employ as a go-between for trade opportunities in one of the newly formed nations south of Brevoy. Also, whether or not he is interested in such a lucrative prospect, I will make his meeting with me here worth his while and there are few things a venturer likes the bite of, more than gold."

The lady slipped one hand around the stem of her goblet and the other around the mug handle as she lowered herself from the barstool. "If you believe our fine fellow would be best put at ease with a name to go with the opportunity, I am called Wynnsaren.

"I very much appreciate your help in this matter," she offered the golden-haired man a glowing smile. "After we finish these drinks, we'll be returning again later evening. Consider our patronage secured for the duration of our stay. . .and beyond is my personal hope!"

Wynn chuckled. "Tea from Tian Xia. . . A handsome tender. . . The possibility of hearing the very same man grace his patrons with a song. . ." She grinned even wider and offered him a playful wink. "How could I not keep coming back!"

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Nekolaius

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 13, 2013 10:41 am

"You will always find a smile and a song here, lass," he informed her, smiling as if to prove the point. "If you've any requests, I'll gladly take them. Those I don't know can always be learned!

"As to your more important request," he winked for effect, "I'll see to it that word gets out. Should I hear anything else, I'll be sure to pass it along, but don't count on that. Amputin rarely accepts or denies; he simply shows up or he doesn't. Like most creatures that crawl about on their bellies, he's far too wary of ambush otherwise." The tender actually stifled a laugh, shaking his head in disbelief at his own description of the man. "Amazing to me how anyone would work with the man . . . "

He patted his hands against the counter top and gazed at the woman from beneath his brow. "Not that I'm questioning your own intentions or merits, mind you . . . . " Again, he snickered, his shoulders bobbing slightly at the uncontrollable mirth going through his head. "If the man were a weasel, I'd weep for the species. Are you sure there's no other way I can help you with whatever you need done? You strike me as the fair and honest sort--not at all the type to be working with a man of his nature, and I mean that in every best way possible. I'll get your word out, have no fear, and you'll have your chance to speak with him if I have to drag the swine into this place kicking and screaming." The tender grinned, partially in assurance to her and partially from the image of dragging the man in kicking and screaming. "Just . . . don't feel as though he's your only option, lass. There are far better out there, and I'd be more than grateful if you'd let me assist you in finding one of them."

The tender pushed himself away from the bar and smoothed his well-groomed moustache with left thumb and forefinger. "But that's the last I'll hassle you on your business today," he promised. "Enjoy your drinks.

"And should the need arise for you to know it, you may refer to me as Nekolaius, though friends, well-wishers, and aspiring acquaintances prefer Neko," he finished with a nod.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 13, 2013 11:48 am

"Neko then," Wynn smiled and offered him a slight bow. "Your kindness is much appreciated."

She turned to go take a seat with her companions when she realized that she couldn't see where they'd found a table. The oracle's vision simply greyed out before it reached them. A familiar clearing of the throat saved her from the slightly awkward pause and turned her in the right direction.

"Thank you for that, Kaz," she smirked as she sat, and placed the steaming mug before her friend. "You will love this stuff! Gyokuro tea from Tian Xia! Sip it slowly though or it'll have your heart beating out of your chest in minutes." The aasimar laughed lightly. "You two could do a few laps around the tavern here to run it off if need be."

Though deaf, Glas seemed to know he was being discussed and lifted his broad, blue head to rest it in her lap. Wynnsaren reached into his mane of tangling tentacles and began lazily twisting her hand about them. As alien as the akata was to their understanding, he was plainly pleased to be off the ship they'd taken from New Stetvan and get some solid ground beneath his paws. The short voyage had seen him well fed on fish that he devoured readily enough, but Lake Reykal was vast and the Glas had never been on the water. Neither did he seem to be comfortable in that small of a space. They would have a couple of days for him to recover here at least.. How long exactly, she wasn't yet sure. . .

The mask of playful, flirtatiousness with which she'd addressed the bartender melted away as Wynn contemplated what needed to be done.

"Is he watching?"

Her back was turned to Nekolaius, so the ranger would have to be her (much more effective) eyes.

"Occasionally," Kaz responded beneath his bushy moustache as he breathed in the rich, velvety aroma of the tea. "Were ye able to learn anything?"

"A good deal actually. Much more than I expected." The soft pink of her lips pressed together in thought. "He'll put the word out for me that we'd like to meet our latest middleman here sometime this evening."

"Do you trust him?"

Wynn gave her brusque companion a lop-sided grin and took a sip of the wine, wincing as it rolled down her throat. Too sweet. . ., she thought. Much like our blond-haired Neko.

Maybe she was just becoming too suspicious in her old age. Maybe the dapper tender was just as he appeared. She was too old to take anyone at face value anymore, but too young to quit hoping. After all, more recent acquaintances had pleasantly surprised her.

"He talks as if he knows a fair bit about the man," the oracle gave in response. "It would raise neither of my eyebrows to find that he knows Amputin personally, and maybe only one brow to find that he is himself our next appointment."

The way he'd gone on and on about the Pitri's low character raised red flags in her mind. Either he was very interested in keeping her safe from such ilk, or he was baiting her for more information.

Kaz snorted. "Him? Unlikely. Yer more cynical that I gave you credit for m'lady."

"High praise from the Sultan of Cynics himself!" Wynn teased him, breaking into a laugh as his lips puckered from his first taste of the bitter tea. "Good, isn't it! The imperial governor would take his with a pinch of salt to enhance the flavor. It'll put hair on your chest for a certainty."

"Really?" The ranger's steely eyes dropped to her boldly cut neckline as he dared to take another swallow. "I somewhat doubt that."

Wynnsaren gasped and wore a shocked expression as she playfully brought her hand up to cover her exposed skin.

"I'll have you know that it's been well over fifty years since I've had the opportunity to taste it but when I did, I had to see a barber once a week! Now that it's available again, I may need to invest in a razor."

She reached for Kaz' mug and he pulled it back away from her with a disapproving look.

"Nay, girl, I'll not be responsible for coming back with a fuzzy ambassador! If you insist, you'll have to get your own mug and I'll allow you to borrow my razor if ye like."

The aasimar narrowed her eyes. "I will call you liar to your face Kazimir. . ." She reached across the table and twisted her index finger in his scruffy beard. "There is no way you own a razor."


***


With a few hours to kill the companions took their time with the drinks before heading out into Silverhall to explore the city. Wynnsaren meant to ensure that they were seen and Glas cemented that desire. If Pitri Amputin wanted to get a look at the people inquiring about him, she wouldn't make it difficult and she didn't want to appear to be hiding and make him more suspicious. She'd given enough information to hint at where they were from without divulging it entirely. A test. If he had the contacts and saw the trio, then perhaps he could puzzle it out for himself, thereby giving evidence to how well connected Pitri may be and proving her sincerity in their origin. If he was as cautious as Neco described, every detail was important to put the man at ease.

The time also gave her the opportunity to do a little research into importing and exporting through Silverhall; what was available. . . what was desirable. . . Wynn learned much regarding trade during her time in Mivon and she put that to use now here. Novastasia may make use of some of these mercantile contacts as she grew. Let Amputin hear her inquiries. More evidence for him to find truth in the request to meet.

By the time the sun began to sink below the horizon, Wynnsaren, Kazimir and Glas found themselves once more seated within the Swaggering Swan, each enjoying a mug of ocha gyokuro and picking at a simple, yet delicious meal of grilled lake trout.

There was no telling when Pitri Amputin would show. . .if he would at all.

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Nekolaius and Pitri

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 13, 2013 2:30 pm

Evening gave way to the night, and the Swaggering Swan grew louder as the patrons filed through the door. Though it never reached maximum capacity, the Swan boasted enough people to offer a celebratory atmosphere of singing and mug-swinging and laughter. An hour after sundown, Nekolaius seated himself upon the counter top with a trusty mandolin in hand while the hired help kept the ale flowing behind the bar. The Swan roared to life at the sight of him there, eager to hear what the proprietor had in store for them this eve.

Neko raised his hands into the air so as to quiet the clientele and grant him a chance to speak, and they felt humbled enough to appease him. "First, let me offer thanks to the lot of you for being here on this special night, as I give ye ol' mandolin one more try!"

"Is it a woman yer wooin', ol' Neko boy, that's put ye back atop that bar?" came a cry from a back table.

"Nay, Frey, and thank you for asking!" he shouted back, then added: "Ain't no woman would have an old bastard like me, and you know that truth already, aye?"

A host of "Ayes!" erupted throughout the tavern, followed immediately afterward by hoisted tankards and a chorus of laughter. From the back, where the question had been put forth, a small round of friendly shoving played out as Neko half-heartedly sought to quiet the ruckus a second time. After things died down a bit, he continued, "But, I will say it is by request that I sit before you a practicing troubadour once again!"

"Hoist the gallows!" a woman screeched in laughter, and a grizzly baritone cried out, "They didn't know what they were askin', eh?" to the amusement of all.

Neko grinned as he perched the mandolin upon his lap and plucked a couple tuning chords. "This first ballad is for my mystery patron," he said when things quieted to the point he could be heard, then immediately his fingers began to dance at the strings like two lovers coming together after a long absence. The instrument wove together a fast-paced melody that quickly captured the attentions of the Swan's many patrons. By the time the blond-haired tender opened his mouth to proclaim the first verse, sweat had set his skin to glistening.

"A son of Mammoths, Tiger’s clan
“He came upon the Stolen Lands.
“By sword he smote, and rage he swore
“To subjugate all in his war.

“But pride for pride, and blood for blood,
“With Gorum’s aid, did he succumb
“To boasting loud, with haughty eye
“That he, Armag, would never die.

“To Gozreh and Pharasma’s eyes
“The boast was nothing but a lie.
“’How dare,’ said they, ‘Armag should cry
“’That he, mere man, should never die!’

“The Pale One plotted from her home
“To steal him to her Yard of Bones.
“When she and Gozreh had their way,
“That time was Armag’s dying day.

“Red dragon sent by vengeful gods
“Ripped out Armag’s heart with its claws.
“But Gorum had last laugh that day;
“Armag’s black soul was here to stay.


“Ovinrbaane, so named the Sword
“Was crafted by the Iron Lord
“To keep the warrior’s soul interred
“Until the stars had their last word.

“And born again, he shall return
“To widow wives, your fields to burn.
“Twice-Born, Armag, with damning cry
“Shall show the gods he’ll never die.

“Gyronna’s chosen, without Name!
“Black Sisters wielding hatred’s flame!
“They’ll crack the Earth, and bleed the Sky:
“Armag Twice-Born shall never die!”


Nekolaius' fingers sliced through the strings in a final, abbreviated melody before bringing the song to a sudden close. A long moment of silence followed as big, round eyes stared on in amazement at the skill this man had just unleashed upon them all. Then the entire establishment was ablaze with applause and shouts and the thud thud of tankards pounding on wooden tables.

Never bothering to look up, the tender studied his mandolin strings to be sure they had survived the ballad--he knew he should have put on new ones this day! Though he tried hard, it was impossible for him to hide the smile that lit up his sweat-drenched face. Still, once assured that all the strings had made it through intact, Neko strummed a single time to inform them that his next song was about to commence. The Swan hushed as if a silence spell had been cast upon it, at least until they recognized that it was one they all knew! Gales of laughter flooded the tavern as he began to play, and when he reached the first stanza, two score strong accompanied his voice in singing it aloud.

In the midst of all the revelry, a Whisper flew silently through the music-filled common room. It darted around patrons and lifted mugs, swooped beneath tables and missed one of the load-bearing pillars that supported the second story of the building. Upon reaching the pair sitting at a side table with the strange, tentacled beast lying beside it, the words fluttered to life in their hearing.

"Word on the street is that you have a business proposition for me?"

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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 13, 2013 3:57 pm

The aasimar, now luminous in this late hour, listened to Nekolaius as he played and found herself completely captivated.   It was not the beauty of his voice, for the stars put all men to shame where song was concerned, but it was the dexterity in his fingers and the passion with which he played that held her attention the way it did.  The man had a gift.  

Why would such a man not be entertaining patrons every evening?   What would make him give up on the craft which he most obviously loved and was born to?

There was a story there, and Wynn so adored stories. . .

The ballad itself was a tale from the Stolen Lands, which she found doubly intriguing.   It wasn't one she'd heard before.  The history of the Stolen Lands was a violent one however, and it would come as no surprised if there were a grain or two of truth in it.   Something she might look into in her free time when they returned home.

By the time the Whisper came to them, Wynnsaren had nearly forgotten that they'd come here for any other reason but to listen to Neko play.  Startled, she forced herself not to look for the source of the voice in fear of spooking Pitri, but instead locked eyes with the ranger as she responded.

"You have heard correctly," she Whispered in return.  "Will this be the manner of our discussion or would you like to meet somewhere in person?"

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Pitri

Post  The Sub-Creator on Tue Aug 13, 2013 4:59 pm

"We are meeting in person," the Whisper informed her derisively, "simply not face-to-face. The Bastard of the Swan will keep the crowds in frenzy for some time to come, so none will overhear us."

A burst of laughter erupted as Neko performed some comical lyric, as if on cue.

"What do you want with me?" it asked after a short pause.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Tue Aug 13, 2013 6:52 pm

Wynnsaren couldn't help a smirk as she stared at her ranger friend, thinking those words would've rolled so easily off of his own curt tongue. Pitri would be to the point. That was probably for the best, and he'd likely appreciate the same in her. She could oblige him in that.

"You are a creature of caution, Mister Amputin," the aasimar began, "and no doubt that is a wise and healthsome quality for those in such lines of work, but I would like to offer you the chance to work with someone from whom you do not need to hide your face, employed as an intermediary of legitimate trade between Silverhall and the burgeoning nation for whom I labor."

She paused for a brief moment giving him the chance to consider the value. Novastasia was growing and as her people settled and became more comfortable in their new home, they would become desirous of greater access to creature comforts; such amenities as would be afforded them by a peaceful and settled nation. They would need a point man with whom to deal; someone with contacts and an excellent working knowledge of trade in the region. Such a man would be well placed in Silverhall. As Nekolaius stated truly, it was after all, the merchant capitol of Brevoy.

Was Pitri Amputin this man? Wynn believed he had the chance to be if he wanted it, and what was Novastasia about if not new beginnings?

Sending her Whispered reply over the raucous crowd of the Swaggering Swan, the ambassador continued her proposition to unseen fellow.

"It is this that I propose to you, or alternate negotiation if such opportunity holds no appeal," she offered a conciliatory nod, "in exchange for a few words of information. You see, I'm interested in a name. . ."

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Pitri

Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:29 am

The Whisper carried with it the sounds of a low chuckle that ended with an abbreviated snort resembling that of a newborn swine. "You're a holy one all right. Ignorance radiates off you as clearly as the runes on your face. I can't remember if ever there was a time that I desired to live in the same fantasy you do now.

"But that's beside the point, and I'll let bygones be bygones. You're trying to draw me into the open with these prettily prepared ideas gift-wrapped in subtlety. They don't work for you. You're too clean--too holier than thou--for these promises to be anything more than a trap to lure me out. I can't believe someone who's designed such sweetly elaborate lies hasn't checked into me enough to realize who they're actually dealing with.

"You want to promise me legitimacy, goddess"--even the Whisper proved incapable of covering up any of the sarcasm dripping from that term--"paint it in something far less legitimate. Right now you sound more like a player who's rehearsed her lines too much and not spent enough time learning her character. First rule: nobody's legitimate in Silverhall, sweetheart. Everybody's a bastard who ain't allowed to call papa by his first name, but still has to shine his shoes and sweep his feces from the living room carpet--unless you're the rat that's hiding in sewage, surviving as best you can one the scraps. I'll let you work out the moral of this parable on your own time.

"You're interested in a name. I'm interested in making a living as illegitimately as possible. Lucky for you, there's a lot of crap that flows through my niche of the sewers. The only question left for you to answer here, glow cheeks, is whether you have anything truly worth my time to stick around and listen to. And make it believable. I can already tell that you're a succubus trying to play the part of an angel . . . You promise a whole lot, but deliver very little. Sweet words are for sweet children, and I don't like either. If you don't put out, don't pretend that you do, and maybe you and me can do business.

"That's your freebie. Now try again . . . "

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 9:28 am

Now it was Wynn's turn to chuckle, but at least she had the courtesy to do so into her tea.

So am I a succubus trying to be an angel or an angel trying to be a succubus?, she mused. Was Pitri trying to wound her with his confused, paranoid rant? If so it only went to prove how poorly he'd judged her. In her lifetime Wynnsaren had been accused of being succubi and angel, witch and savior and everything in between, and through all of it, she'd learned to wear her armor internally. She couldn't help a little grin at the term glow cheeks though. . .that one wasn't half bad!

But no, this fellow was clearly unwilling to accept anything other than the filth stained walls of his own world. It was the notion that there might be another way, that he flailed so vehemently against. So be it. If he wanted to live as an otyugh, and feast on the excreta that society dumped from their windows each morning and call it a banquet, then Wynn wouldn't bother trying to convince him otherwise.

After a long swallow of the bitter brew, she responded coolly. "By your honeyed words, I hear you would like to take the path of alternate negotiation. Very well.

"I want to know who gave you the information about the buried meteor to be excavated in the Stolen Lands. In exchange for this information I will give you this." The aasimar nodded to her companion and Kaz produced a good-sized leather pouch full of coin and placed it on the table near the wall so as not to attract too much unwanted attention.

"If you can tell me where I can find this person, than I will provide you another pouch of equal coin when I can verify that your word is true."

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Pitri

Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Aug 14, 2013 10:40 am

There was a long pause in the communication as Neko took the time to discuss with the crowd any further requests. There were a few shouted out from about the tavern, and the tender's eyes lit up at the suggestion of The Conqueror's Red Daughter, which detailed a fictional story about Choral's daughter being of draconic descent--the offspring of one of the two mighty reds that helped him tame Brevoy, in fact. The tune of the ballad slowed a bit compared to the last couple he'd played, but the chorus was so well-known that everyone would sing along to it.

"Well, well," the Whisper reconnected as cheers filled the Swan at the playing of the first chords of The Conqueror's Red Daughter, "we'll make a harlot out of you yet. You may not put out now, but I can see your day's coming. You are dressed entirely too modest for such inquiries, sweetheart.

"The good news for you is that I can point you right to that player. Good-looking thing like you he might even be happy to see until you open your mouth and something funny comes out. But I'll want both bags of coin up front, with a third of equal size after verification. One must look out for his own interests, and I don't expect I'll see enough of you afterward to make good on your promise."

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:01 am

"I've been hearing that so often lately," Wynn thought as she pursed her lips and considered Pitri's proposal.

"Well then it is in both of our interests that I succeed in getting this player to play cooperatively, isn't it . . ."

With one hand, she raked her fingers through her hair, past the orbiting motes of light, and pulled it all to one side where it spilled over her shoulder in an inky waterfall.

"If you want me to put out, Mister Amputin," she teased, in a low, soft Whisper, as she referred to the additional coin, "then you need to give me more information. You seem to know a good deal about who it is that I desire to speak with. Tell me not only this fellow's name and where to find him, but also how he operates and what he asked you to do in this matter. Then I will give you this bag of coin and another like it right now, with the third of equal amount to follow the meeting, which your own information will help in being a success."

Up until this point, Kazimir had been taking the whole conversation in stride. After all, he'd sat through the conversation with Jokun and had a good idea of how these 'negotiations' might go, but this invisible Whisper's lewdness was growing increasingly infuriating. It was good the man wasn't in front of him. Instead of drawing his blade which he'd much rather have done, the ranger just white-knuckled his mug of tea while his disapproving eyes bored into those of the lady across from him.

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Pitri

Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:13 am

"Look. I respect you trying; I really do. But you've got pale skin, and I can see right through it. Plus, the old goat across from you is losing so much blood in his hands you'll have to amputate and buy the mug he's holding. Truth be told, I'd probably get more play from the Abadarans down the street, though, admittedly, their necks don't swerve near so supple as yours.

"Stated plainly, your goods just aren't for sale, but your gold still spends, and for that I think I might have some information of use to you. There's a woman by the name of Hesvala that owns a den of ill-repute three blocks from here. She's a cold, heartless, purely insensitive woman, but she's a shrewd deal-maker. Hesvala hired me to deal with Jokun in New Stetven, but Jokun has a reputation that I'm not keen on appearing in front of, so I hired a go-between to handle the affairs in the open that I simply whispered to him from afar. I can only take for granted that's how you found your way back to me.

"But you don't want to speak with Hesvala," the Whisper told her matter-of-factly. "She'll chew you up and spit you out, and if Desna really likes you, only force you to be one of her pretty faces. I couldn't do that to you--you're too pure, and I'd feel bad. No, you want to talk to the one who's whispering in Hesvala's ear, but for that, sweet one, you've got to climb the ladder a rung or three.

"That's why you're paying me those two beautiful bags of gold, goddess, because I'm going to save you an ugly trip through prostitution's hard lifestyle. Why shouldn't I at least get paid what you're worth, right?" One could practically hear the smirk in the brief silence that followed.

"Rasven Winter. He's the one you'll want to see, and I hope you've brought something a little prettier than what you've got on or getting in to see him will get a lot harder for you. See, Rasven is something of a merchant prince without the prince being official. Way too high up to deal with low-lifes like me, which is why he gets Hesvala to do it for him. That's your guy. He's the one you've got to talk to, and he'll know the answer to virtually every question you ask him. He'll kill you for asking them, but probably not right away. He's too courteous for that. Doesn't like to get his hands dirty, despite the fact that all he really does is search about in the muck and mire like all the rest of us."

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:29 am

"As long as His Highness doesn't kill me right away, then you'll get your third payment," Wynn snapped, her Whisper crackling in frosty strains back through the magical channel to the caster.

Let him mock and call her a harlot and name her worth in coin, that was fine; he wouldn't have been the first vile creature to do so, but when he turned his caustic words upon her friend, a thin crack splintered the aasimar's carefully sculpted wall of inscrutability.

Another middleman! That rankled her even more! This chain of bottom feeders was slowly but surely climbing into the higher spheres of Silverhall. Who would hire the Merchant Prince but someone of wealth and power? What would someone of wealth and power have to do with releasing a millennial old. . . thing. . . from a buried and forgotten meteor? Someone who had a raktavarna as a pet, perhaps?

The mystery was both frustrating and intriguing. . .

"Let's just finish this dance. Tell me where I can meet or arrange to meet Rasven Winter, and fulfill the remainder of our agreement."

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Pitri

Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:49 am

"Oh, clever girl!" the Whisper congratulated her with just a hint of sarcasm. "Highness is, in fact, your very best place to look. Find the tallest structure in Silverhall, then look just a touch east. Can't miss the place, but you can get lost in it. Master Winter has no qualms about showing the world the power money can buy!

"Good luck with that one, Star Bright," the Whisper offered. "Keep the old dog close and be sure you run faster. I'd suggest cutting a dress up to the thigh; it allows for more flexibility. Oh, and Master Winter tends to be a busy man. Best to check in early and expect to wait, that is, unless you've got something that might appeal.

"Either way, I've helped you all I can without further incentive."

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Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:56 am

Clever? Wynnsaren's dark eyebrow arched skyward ever so slightly. It was an oddly placed response to her spoken comment, she considered, but to her unspoken thoughts. . . Pale skin that he could see right through. . . The ambassador suddenly felt as if she was sitting before the bitter, pinch-faced Lord Hiven Istresz of the Mivon High Council once again. The Lord's random comments and unnatural insights into her answers to his questions had Wynn convinced that the man was reading her thoughts. This situation felt all too similar.

"It is a dangerous thing to poke about someone's mind, Mister Amputin," she thought rather Whispered, "but if you wish for the tour, maybe your magic will allow you to see the reason I'm pursuing this line of inquiry."

Wynn closed her luminous eyes and focused intently on the terrible vision she'd had over a year ago now. Not a difficult feat. The pulsating ichor, the crimson vessel, the screams! The growl. . . Every moment, every sound still haunted her dreams and stole into her thoughts. If Pitri wished to see that, then she was more than happy to share.

Shuddering visibly, she opened her eyes to see a concerned Kaz before her, no doubt wondering why she wasn't saying anything, but a small, reassuring smile set him a bit more at ease for the time being.

She took a slow swallow of her tea as she continued the mute conversation. "Considering your part in this mess, it would have been more considerate of you to volunteer said information, but I am true to my word and you did spare me from a life of prostitution by allowing me to bypass Hesvala after all. Very kind of you. Now, how shall I deliver these two bags of coin?"

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Pitri

Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Aug 14, 2013 12:03 pm

A long silence persisted, the space of it filled by the upbeat thrumming of Neko's mandolin. Eventually, the Whisper returned, though it harbored a bit more chill in its low tone. "That's quite the imagination on you . . . It opens up a brand new perspective about you easily overlooked--all delectable and divine on the outside, but disgusting and decaying on the inside. It's like you've become a more complete person right in front of my eyes. I'm touched.

"As for the coin, order a mug of ale and leave it sitting full on the table before you walk away. Toss a cloak or something over top of the bags, indicating to the wenches that you're planning on coming back so they'll leave the table in peace. Come back tomorrow to claim your clothing. I'll see to it that it doesn't get taken by anyone before that.

"It's been a pleasure doing business with you. Enjoy the rest of your evening, and may sleep find you nightmare free."

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 1:04 pm

A bemused smile crept across her face at the abrupt changeabout in the conversation’s tone, and Wynn brought their business to a close with a polite nod.

Pitri’s assessment, that she was internally disgusting and decaying, were actually two words that hadn’t to her knowledge been used to describe her before, but after seeing what he'd seen, she could hardly blame him.  In reference to the vision at least, he wasn’t completely wrong either.   The feeling of the clammy ichor against her skin as she was swallowed by the black. . . yep, disgusting was a accurate description, but decaying?  No, in Wynn’s mind it seemed more like a birth.   A birth of something of sinister.   Something of complete darkness.   She was terrified of what it may yet portend.

It was too late to foil the plot of releasing the darkness shown her in the vision.  That ship had sailed, but there may yet be time to thwart further plans and contain or at least lessen the destruction that could be wrought.  Wasn’t that why she was taken to the Stolen Lands?  Wynnsaren might have become a friend to Matsuro Shi, she might have been granted the title of Ambassador of Novastasia and have taken up residence in the castle, but she could never forget her true purpose here. . . to protect all of those whom she was growing to love; indeed even the neighboring nations and beyond, from this threat; this descendant from the space between the stars.  All else was secondary.

By the time they’d concluded business, Wynn saw that the ranger was already laying his cloak over two bags of coin placed at the far edge of the table.

“So do ye plan on telling me what that was all about?”  Kaz eyed her with that parental glare of disapproval which Wynn found so completely endearing, but just as the inquisition began, Wynn was saved when the tavern erupted in another chorus of cheers and song.  Neko was bringing his latest lyric to a familiar close.

“Later my friend.”  She grinned in response, draining the last of the lukewarm dregs of the potent tea from her mug.  “If you don’t mind, I’d rather not go without saying goodbye.  Could you please get that ale and listen to another song before leaving?  I’ll go on ahead and meet you at the inn where we can discuss what adventure tomorrow may bring.”

Kazimir grumbled in obvious disfavor of her going out onto the streets alone, but she interrupted before he could respond further.

“I’ll be fine!”  Wynn laughed and squeezed his hand reassuringly.  “It’s not far and I’ll bring Glas with me.  Besides, I’m not exactly a helpless little waif. . .you just worry about getting yourself there safely!”

Clearly that was not at all his concern, but ignoring further protestation, the aasimar stroked one of Glas’ tentacles to alert him that they were leaving and then led him over to the bar upon which the troubadour sat, cradling his mandolin in his lap and taking requests for the next number.  Upon noting her approach, he smiled.

“Ahh, lass, do you have a song you’d like t—“  The blonde bard forgot the remainder of his question when Wynnsaren leaned in and gave him a gentle kiss on the cheek.   The day’s growth pricked at her lips and there was a faint taste of saltiness from the exertion of the evening’s performance, but neither did she find off-putting.

“Thank you for the song, Neko, you’re quite a gifted player,” she smiled, drawing back to snickers and hoots from the patrons.  “I hope to see you tomorrow.”

Wynn and Glas took their leave of the establishment and headed out under a star-filled sky, just as a slightly inebriated man shouted behind them, “So that’s what it takes t’ make ‘n old bastard blush!”



*****


31st of Arodus, 4711

The dawn rose to find the oracle awake after a fitful night’s rest.  A note revealing where and to whom the line of inquiry had led, had been scribed, encrypted and sent to King Thaddeus via silver raven, just in case they didn’t make it back to Novastasia.  From what Pitri relayed about the man, it was a good possibility she wouldn’t, and Nekolaius would only reinforce those concerns later that morning.

After a stop at the docks for some fish for Glas, Wynn and Kaz broke their fast on simple fare at the Swaggering Swan.  Previously Neko had expressed confusion at her desire to deal with the likes of Pitri Amputin, but this morning when she came to him inquiring about Rasven Winter, his brow furrowed.  Deeply.

The tavernkeep warned Wynn to take care how she presented herself, for it was rumored he didn’t take kindly to those who came to him from a position of power.  Winter was an eminently influential player in Silverhall and thus in Brevoy in general, and a distant cousin to the deceased lord of House Lebeda.  Neko went on to say that the man flaunted power at every opportunity and it was rumored that he was capable of terrible things, but he refused to expound further on the matter. . . refused out of fear, she noted.

All of this information did nothing to calm Wynn’s nerves.

“You don’t have to do this ye know,” Kazimir stated between bites of a black, blood sausage, as they sat at their table.  “We could pay off Pitri, take a ship to New Stetvan, give Jokun what is owed him. . .or at least what was agreed upon,” he growled, “then we can ride to Novastasia free and clear.

“This questionin’ has gone farther up the mountain than anyone could’ve known, even an oracle.  No one would fault ye for taking what you’ve learned and headin’ home."

With blind eyes, Wynn gazed absently toward the piece of toasted barley bread she was picking apart.  “What would you do?”  She asked him in a small voice.  

The ranger speared a piece of sausage with his knife and waved it at her as he spoke. “This ain’t about me, girl.  I would’ve killed that wretch Jokun right then, that’s what I would’ve done, and then that white assassin fella would’ve killed me right back.  Sittin’ there with a sweet smile while the likes of them is throwing insults at me, aint’ exactly my style.  I’ve never been accused of bein’ tactful,” he snorted.

“Was all I could do to keep my sword sheathed with Jokun sayin’ the things he did t’ you. . .  and Pitri?  Well Pitri’s a coward.   The only reason he’s still alive.”  Kaz attacked the sausage with a vengeance as if to prove the point.

“That’s why you can’t be with me when I go talk to Winter. . .”  The aasimar spoke slowly as she flicked her silver eyes up in his direction.

Kazimir’s eyes widened at the same instant as his mouth; a bit of sausage unceremoniously falling from tongue to table.

“The hells I can’t!”  His shout drew the attention of the few patrons who made it out this early.  “I didn’t come here to watch ye throw yourself headlong into the lion’s mouth!”

Wynn responded to his anger with soft voice and sad eyes.  “Then why did you come Kaz?”

“T’ keep you safe, m’lady, and bring you home in one piece!”

“And that is exactly what you will be helping to do by allowing me to go in on my own.  If Rasven feels like you are threatening him in any way, things could go south quickly.  He is going to press me, Kaz, and it is hard enough to keep my own cool.  If he is the kind of man I think he is, he will need to feel like he has always got the upper hand.  Intimidation will only serve to seal our fates.

“Which,” she hesitated for a moment, “brings me to my second point. . .  I cannot take Glas either.”

Now furious, Kaz slammed the point of his knife down into the wooden table where it stuck fast, and rising abruptly from his seat, stormed out of the building muttering an impressive and colorful string of curses.

The commotion brought Glas back up onto his haunches and he turned to regard his master with shifting, prismatic eyes.

”Stay with Kazimir,” she signed to him after bumping her forehead against his affectionately.  Though the alien couldn’t hear nor understand, Wynn continued in a soft voice.  “I have to do this alone. . .you understand that do you not?  It is the best chance for all of us to stay safe and I have come too far to stop now.  This is my purpose.”

It was much later that afternoon that Kaz and Glas walked with her toward the home of Rasven Winter.  The ranger hadn’t spoken since their argument at the Swan, but when it became apparent that nothing short of abduction would keep Wynn from her course, he’d taken the akata and accompanied her, helping lead her through the streets toward a destination that her eyes could not see from afar.

The mansion. . .castle in truth, stood floors higher than Wynn could perceive.  Pale marble statues stood in frozen perpetuity as they rose gracefully from mounds of the white roses and tiny frost blossoms which grew liberally around the landscaping, making it appear as if the whole area was blanketed in a delicate layer of snow.  A shining path of sparkling white stone wound its way up to the main entry; great double doors of priceless hoarwood and platinum filigree, which jutted out from the marble building, framed by a intricately worked, braided silver arch.

“We won’t be far,” Kaz offered curtly, as he and Glas continued on down the street to walk off his nerves.

Gathering her courage, Wynnsaren abandoned that side of her which clung so stubbornly to terra firma and let her humanity be carried away with her companions.  Neko mentioned that Winter had interest in the exotic.  That wasn’t something Wynn needed to play at.   Her exoticism was something that she’d tried to hide most of her life, but tonight she’d be embracing the celestial and the hour was such that if she was required to wait as long as she suspected, her heritage would make itself known.  Glas too, would’ve put a powerful exclamation point on her appearance, but that could be a needless risk to both of them.  No, this time, she would have to make due on her own.  

The dress she’d chosen was made up of layers of dark blue and silver, semi-sheer fabric, which though revealing nothing, hinted at everything.  The silvery hem floated out behind her just above the marble floors as she entered the mansion, each layer dancing of its own accord at the slightest of breezes.  Twisting around her torso, the bodice’s neckline plunged low enough to fully reveal a new pendant much larger than the one she wore for Jokun.   This shard of metal was about the size of a child’s hand, and black, with rings of color which shifted like oil in the light.  It was siccatite, the same shard which they’d found at the doomed miner’s site, and though it burned cold to the touch, it could not harm the celestial being who wore it against her pale, white skin.  

Wynnsaren was led by a beautiful elven female down a long hallway adorned with silver and platinum framed artwork, some if it ancient, some of it recent, but all of it priceless.  The further they walked the more unique the furnishings became.   Suits of armor, elaborately worked from all realms of Golarion.   Exotic weapons and statues, each piece meant to convey the vast wealth and power of the man the visitor was about to see.  Winter decorated to impress, and Wynn was thusly impressed.  The palace this merchant prince had created for himself rivaled even the seat of the imperial governor, where she’d spent much of her youth.  

And this was just the hallway. . .


Last edited by Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:49 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Rasven Winter

Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:27 pm

The grounds where Winter's estate--if one might stoop to insulting it with such a title--resided fully encompassed enough acreage to host a significantly-sized town all on its own. Indeed, its exquisite size intimidated a great many guests who found it impossible to believe such extravagance could exist outside of locales such as Absalom, Korvosa, or Sothis. Stated simply, such wealth should not exist in out-of-the-way kingdoms like Brevoy, and certainly not in the smallish city of Silverhall!

How gracious Master Rasven Winter appeared then, that his estate remained slightly smaller than the fortress of House Lebeda that gave this city its name.

The chamber Lady Wynnsaren had been ushered into to await Master Winter would have more appropriately been deemed a great hall greater than most! Nearly three hundred feet of length existed between each wall, and the ceiling, which vaulted upward at its center akin to some magnificent cathedral, displayed massive paintings of snow-encrusted scenes and landscapes from Irrisen and the Land of the Linnorm Kings. Three enormous chandeliers created from platinum metal and sculpted ice enchanted to forever remain chill plummeted fifty feet from the central beam, blooming outward from the center to form a dozen limbs with flickering white flame tipping each one. The central chandelier resembled a paueliel, commonly known as the "first trees" due to their strong fey connection, its thick foliage of ice giving way to a platinum trunk with spreading roots. Flanking the glorious rendition of the first tree were a pair of magnificent krakens with twisting and flaring tentacles.

Nearer the floor, the guest hall grew no less grandiose. Walls of white snow--fluffy and cold to the touch, yet which quickly smoothed out when the hand was taken away--harbored a repeating motif of three masterfully-crafted silver icicles side-by-side, the middle two inches longer both top and bottom than the outer pair and with both tips giving off resplendent silver rays of moonlight. Four of these symbols formed diamonds three feet apart from one another throughout the entirety of the hall and served as the coat-of-arms of House Winter.

An assortment of divans with silver framework and cushioning that resembled long orchid petals both physically and texturally furnished the hall. The petals conformed comfortably to whomever sat or laid upon them, as if wrapping the individual into a silken elven dream. End tables of ice sculpted as satyrs propping a giant leaf over their heads were positioned at each arm of the divans, and a silver-topped coffee table held aloft by four enticing dryad sculptures resided between each trio of divans. Chilled water, iced spirits, and crystalline champagne centered each of these low, long tables, and gourmet cheeses, succulent fruit, a plethora of fresh breads, and cold seafood hors d'oeuvres awaited to appease hunger.

Bookshelves shaped from the white wood of the infamous Irrisen hoarwood trees were erected two feet from the east and west walls, and within them were collected tomes of a variety of subjects from a variety of continents written in a multitude of languages. Two sets of hoarwood double doors with silver locks and openers showed through a gap in the shelves in both walls. The northern section of the room was bedecked with gaming tables of polished silver and pure white velvet, complete with the markings of whatever entertainment the table was designed for. To the south, an astonishing art exhibit provided any level of connoisseur with hours worth of study. Lavish paintings from places such as Ustalav, Taldon, Osirion, Katapesh, Cheliax, Tian Xia and other refined cultures lined the walls beneath their own individual light sconces formed of fogged ice to better diffuse the brightness for viewing. Unique artifacts and relics of ancient societies such as Thassilon, Azlant, Sarkoris, Jistka, and Ancient Osirion rested atop short silver pillars shaped into life-like cold fey and protected by crystal ice translucent as glass. Underfoot, an ice-blue and white marble floor soft as goose down relaxed and massaged the foot with every step.

Virtually nowhere within the Inner Sea--much less Brevoy!--could a guest hall of such opulence be found! Master Winter, being a man of impeccable taste and intense business, desired for his visitors to be much entertained in the time before he could attend them, which, unfortunately, was typically quite substantial.

Though Lady Wynnsaren had no means by which to see it, the sun had already descended two-thirds beneath the western horizon when Master Winter entered the hall. A thin, button nose, sharp cheekbones that pulled the corners of his pale, pink lips back into a natural grin, and slightly-elongated and pointed ears barely covered by straight silver-blond hair that just brushed the shoulders all clearly expressed a half-elven heritage. Unblemished skin with just a hint of color to it gifted the man with a cold, aristocratic demeanor, yet the life and intelligence that danced within his platinum-grey eyes promised happiness with a hint of danger to anyone who spared them even a glance. He wore a doublet of white leather fringed in ice-blue velvet with pantaloons and boots to match. Six rings of white gold adorned with a single gem of enormous worth--a deep red ruby, an incandescent blue sapphire, a rare pale blue jasper, a rare pink garnet, a strange pink- and green-banded rhodochrosite, and a scarlet and blue spinel--decorated every finger on each hand save the two where rings would typically be found. Three platinum ropes braided together and completed with an icicle pendant of sparkling diamond hung loosely about his neck. A rapier completed the outfit, its guard fashioned like a glacier of ice, and its platinum pommel studded with diamonds.

A handful of servants followed the merchant prince into the guest hall with polished platinum trays of exquisite meats, fresh vegetables, piping hot custard treats, and a single bottle of red wine. Upon placing the cuisine atop their own stands and revealing platinum plates, goblets, and dinnerware, the servant host bowed to the guest, then to their master, and quickly exited.

"Lady Wynnsaren," Rasven Winter sounded the name in his elegant tenor as though sampling its sweetness. "I have not yet had the pleasure of your acquaintance." He smiled perfect white teeth and motioned with the slight turn of his head toward the magnificent feast laid out around them. "Might I request your presence for dining this eve, as I fear I have not yet had the opportunity."

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 2:47 pm

It must have been hours since she'd arrived.

The enormous room engulfed the aasimar in luxury and extravagance the likes of which she’d never seen. It was so large, that the ceiling seemed not to exist but for the gray haze where her vision failed her and the length and breadth of the room also. Wynnsaren walked about the great chamber as if in a bubble of her own clouded sight. Every step revealed some new and amazing work or sculpture or painting.

Such opulence! It was easy to forget why she was here, but this was not an invitation. Wynn came here to speak with a man about some information, but looking around her, what could she possibly hope to give him in return? What did she have to offer? The gold she’d been granted by the king for this reason was a pitiful thing in the face of such incalculable wealth. That fact alone made her very nervous. Winter’s ‘waiting room’ had served its purpose.

So in awe and intent was she on studying each creation she came across, that when the huge double doors opened behind her, Wynn felt that it was all too soon, but her disappointment faded to nothing as Rasven Winter stepped into view.

“Lord Winter. . .”

Wynnsaren curtsied grandly and affixed her silver eyes to his as she rose.

“You honor me with both your hospitality and your presence. How could I refuse?”

Her voice flowed like honeyed wine from her lips, distant yet deliberate, as each syllable was given equal status in her speech.

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Rasven Winter

Post  The Sub-Creator on Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:13 pm

"And you honor me, Lady Wynnsaren, with the title 'lord,'" Rasven flashed her a disarmingly courteous smile. He leaned in conspiratorially, his eyes playfully peeking to the left and the right before settling on her again. "I'll not command you to stop doing so, though I lay no claim to such a title. Especially not now, with the impending war on the lips and hearts of all Brevoyans. Who needs the trouble, yes?" he winked at her, then held out a hand toward the nearest divan. "Please. Sit."

Two forks, knife, spoon, and napkin placed themselves upon an expensive plate, which then floated over to the small table for her. At the same time, another set of dinnerware situated itself upon the same table for the divan perpendicular to the one he had motioned her to.

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Wynnsaren

Post  Wynnsaren on Wed Aug 14, 2013 3:20 pm

As requested, Wynn sat herself lightly upon the frosty white petals of the divan and smiled as she traced her fingers along the silken upholstery. In all the world she'd never heard of orchids that grew to such size, but sitting here now, she would easily have become a believer. Every moment in this place brought new and unique splendors.

The next one came in the form of floating platinum serving trays. Each one was masterfully crafted into the likeness of a freshly fallen leaf, curled slightly at the edges and one by one the trays floated before them, silently offering their delicacies. Food was one of the last things on her mind at this point, but as she had no desire to offend, she helped herself to a tiny quail which had been baked to golden perfection and stuffed with its own hard-boiled and shelled egg, and a small helping of roasted brussel sprouts in a sauce of honey and spicy peppers. The other trays were politely waved away and moved on to her host.

The aasimar watched him as he chose his meal, allowing him the courtesy of the first bite. There had been few half elves that she’d met in her travels and those she had were of all types, but always she felt as if she could identify with them on some level. Often they were orphans. Often they shared a similar wanderlust. All of these mixed blood acquaintances of hers had the desire to find a place. . . or create a place where they fit in. Was Winter any different?

Thinking back to this morning when Nekolauis had given his warning, he’d spoken of dark rumors swirling about this man, but this
man? Surely not. . . Perhaps Winter had woven those rumors himself in order to impress and intimidate those who would try to bring him down for his success. The merchants of Brevoy were known to be a cutthroat lot. Something made Wynn pray that that was all there was to it. That this man was exactly what he seemed right now. Still, she’d seen seemingly kind and generous spirits do terrible things, and she was wise enough to know that often it was the most beautiful and enticing flowers that would bite if you stepped too close.

Tread carefully. . .

"Since we are revealing truths about ourselves, Master Winter?” The aasimar smiled playfully, testing the title to gauge the reaction of her host. “I must also confess to you that the title of 'lady' is not one that I can purport. You may call me simply, Wynnsaren. . . or Wynn if it would please you.”

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