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Spheres of Silverhall

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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:13 pm

"The honor would be my own, Master Winter." Wynn smiled and made a small, if meaningful correction. "Rasven. . ." She placed her fingers into the merchant's hand before rising from her seat.

There was a comfortable cadence to the half elf's formal etiquette, like a dance she only half remembered learning, but whose steps were as familiar as old friends. There was a freedom in it. A beauty that she'd nearly forgotten. Most recently, Wynnsaren had been placed before people of political import; lords and ladies who relied upon such ceremony to separate themselves from their guests, hiding behind false smiles and bored or spiteful eyes. They wore their etiquette as a facade; a death mask of poorly formed plaster, the visage upon which resembled their bearer not at all.

This was different. Rasven Winter displayed a formality that was warm and genuine. . .quite convincingly so, and it seemed to come as easily as breathing. If this was all a performance, than he was a bard of unparalleled skill and Wynn was very interested to see the second act.

"The best way to reach me would be via the castle in Akiros." Wynn answered over the resonant thumping of her uncooperative heart. "When I am in nation, I have been residing in a tower there that has been graciously provided me, but I am occasionally sent on diplomatic missions as well. If you send correspondence to the castle, they will see that I get it in a timely manner. Know that I would be delighted to receive any word from you on matters of purpose, politics or even personal interests if you are so inclined to put quill to parchment," The aasimar was sure to make addendum as she took his arm and was led at a casual pace from the great hall.

After a moment's pause, she looked up at him thoughtfully. "I wonder if I might press one more question upon you, Rasven. . . You say you find my presence soothing, which is a compliment for which I am incredibly flattered," she flushed through a small smile, "but might I ask from what form of disquiet do you find yourself in need of such relief?

"Is there something specific which troubles you? Something I might be able to assist you with?"

Almost immediately Wynnsaren began retreat from the prying question, realizing that this was hardly the appropriate time or circumstance.

"Please forgive if my query gives offense, I have no such intentions. . . only more curiosity than the gods should have allowed me," she chuckled.

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Rasven Winter

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:22 pm

The pair walked the center of a long hallway lined on both sides by exotic suits of armor polished to a glimmering sheen. As with the rest of his exquisite estate, all pieces displayed here maintained the platinum, silver, or blue motif which brought a unique chill with it. They had passed beyond three sets--the last a chain mail suit of mithril--before finally Rasven answered her last query.

"Mayhaps inquiries of such a personal nature should give offense," he stated with some hesitance in his voice. An amazing feat, really, since his tone remained strong as ever. "I take no offense from it, however. You have accepted my prying this evening with a candor most remarkable, Wynnsaren. What right have I to be angry or offended by your honest and--may I openly observe--kind intent?"

Throughout his assurance, Rasven never turned his eyes away from their forward position--from a fixed position he focused upon somewhere on the beautiful platinum filigreed, hoarwood doors ahead. A few more footfalls elapsed in silence before he added, "Indeed, I cannot deny a certain solace to be found within your intent, and for that I wish to convey my gratitude."

Two servants emerged from a side chamber to unlock and open the doors as the pair reached a distance of twenty paces from them. Five paces from the opened portal, Rasven placed a tender hand upon hers, which she had looped beneath his arm, and used that gesture to simultaneously halt their forward progress and turn her gently to face him. "And there is something you can do, Wynnsaren," he proclaimed quietly, offering her a small, almost saddened smile. "To request it of you, however, would be most ungracious of me and most unfair to you. Thus, I will not do so."

Softly, he squeezed her hand in another small gesture of thanks before averting himself forward again. "This has been a night of firsts for me, Wynnsaren. I am indebted to you for that. I anticipate the fulfillment of our agreement one day and desire that you might find all the answers you seek." A sudden upturn at the corner of his lips preceded his next statement. "Please convey unto your traveling companion my sincerest apologies for keeping you so long. Word reached me that he has yet to stop pacing since your arrival. If there exists anything I might do for his troubles . . . " Rasven let the remainder of the sentence go unspoken.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:30 pm

The aasimar gazed up at her host with puzzled surprise. How did he know anything about the ranger at all? He must be receiving messages of a magical nature, for he'd spoken to no one since they'd been left alone for dinner. Mystery layered upon mystery, and Master Winter seemed unwilling to divulge anything further. Perhaps at their next meeting. . .

"Kazimir," she responded to the half elf with a sigh; an expression of guilt at the way she'd left things. "I suppose that simply delivering me back to him without injury would be enough. It is I who will need to apologize to my friend, for he was terribly wroth with me for coming here to see you alone today. It seems you have quite a fearsome reputation, and he felt strongly about being here to see to my protection."

Maybe Kaz had been right after all. Wynnsaren felt anything but safe at this juncture with her heart and mind contending with one another. What was it about this man that so held her enthralled? Had he cast an enchantment upon her without her knowledge? She didn't think so.

A bit of time. A bit of space. The chaos would right itself once she left his side, and the vulnerability from which she was currently suffering would diminish. Surely it must. . .

"Thank you for your gracious hospitality this night, Master Winter, and the aid you have provided me." Something twisted painfully within her as she pulled her arm from his and dropped into a deep curtsy. "It has been an evening of. . . unexpectedly pleasurable company and conversation," she smiled softly; a sadness dulling the glowing hue of her eyes ever so slightly, "and I too look forward to the chance to take it up anew.

"Until such a time might present itself. . . Goodbye, Rasven Winter."

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Rasven Winter

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:40 pm

"Farewell, Wynnsaren," he said, then concluded, "Ever will you be welcome in my home."

Rasven stared out over the city of Silverhall until his beautiful guest started down the stair away from his estate. Quickly his eyes broke away from the cityscape and lingered upon her departure. A tenseness developed in his shoulders as he watched the woman leave. When finally she reached his front gate near the street, the merchant prince cast down his gaze to the floor for a long moment before performing an about-face and slowly walking back into the cold depths of his home.

The twin doors closed silently behind him.

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

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Post  Wynnsaren on Sat Aug 17, 2013 4:53 pm

14th of Rova, 4711

The journey from Silverhall had been quietly introspective.  Thoughts and concerns were left greatly unspoken but for the meaningful glances and small comforting gestures so often shared between friends who had come to a deeper level of understanding through travel, time and trial.

Wynnsaren's leads, for now, had gone cold, and while that hardly meant she would be giving up the search, there was a certain satisfaction in concluding her business in Brevoy.  Pitri's payment was provided as promised, and it pleased her knowing that her gold would most likely be delivered back to Master Winter in repayment for the advance the otyugh-of-a-man had received for duties unsuccessfully performed.  In New Stetvan, Jokun was given his additional vial after a somewhat amusing exchange during which Kazimir's teeth ground together with such ferocity that it was remarkable they were not reduced to mere nubs.

Now they were home.

Akiros was as it ever was.  Bustling, growing, welcoming. . . she hoped that the yet rough hewn gem of Novastasia would retain those qualities even after her faceting and polishing caused her to shine brilliantly.  But while the city she called home had remained the same during that journey to Silverhall, Wynnsaren herself had changed.  Kaz was not a stupid man.  He knew her well enough to see the difference.  The way the corners of her lips would lift into a secret smile when she thought he wasn't paying any heed.  It was in the drifting of her thoughts as she spoke and her wistful sigh as the song of the stars began each evening.  Overall she seemed. . .lighter, as if there was very little holding her to the ground.  Not that the ranger would've admitted it when sober, but there were times at night when they made camp that he could have sworn that her feet barely touched the earth at all.

It had been two weeks since Wynnsaren had walked out of the platinum-filigreed double doors of the Winter estate but even so, she found that the man was never far from her thoughts.  Rasven remained an enigma.  A tantalizing riddle.  There was a depth to him that Wynn could not plumb, as if he were a pool whose fathoms were concealed by murky waters.  The answer the merchant prince gave to her one question was a shining light to help guide her.  Truth.  A hint that spoke to the heart of the man.

It was that heart that she wanted to better understand, for if she were honest with herself, she was losing her own.  As much as the aasimar valued freedom, she'd kept such dangerous passions under lock and key since she'd lost Akram, thinking. . .knowing that such feelings could only lead to further hurt when the gods saw fit to take her elsewhere.  She was leery of going through such trauma again.  That brought her to a choice.  Back away from the precipice, or jump from it.  It was a decision she had yet to make.

Another month had slipped away with Wynn out of town and she was eager to get caught up with the scuttlebutt, not to mention she would have to speak with the king about what she had (and hadn't) learned regarding the excavation of the meteor site and the missing raktavarna.  

Those thoughts were at the forefront as she stepped into the receiving room of her tower apartments with a young page trailing after her carrying a heavy pack.

"Just there against the wall if you could be so kind, Fyodor," she instructed, waving her hand toward the area in question.  "I will take care of it from there."

The barrenness of the room spoke to how infrequently she actually received anyone within her quarters.  A small, serviceable desk.  A comfortable chair.  A stand and an oil lamp for potential visitors.  A stack of books.  Wynn needed little else.

She noticed the pile of correspondence that had collected on the desk and the ambassador peeled off her riding gloves and set them aside as she thumbed through the messages.

"There came a package for you too, m'lady," the page offered after setting her belongings down gently in the place she'd indicated.

Three of the letters were from Mivon she was noting as she half heard the boy speak.  "Oh?  Do you happen to know from where it came?"

"Courier said Silverhall."

For the briefest of moments, it was as if all of the sound had been sucked out of the room.  Wynn still held the letter up before her, but she no longer saw it.  "Silverhall?   When did it arrive?"   She dropped the envelopes back down to the desk and turned an intent gaze upon the page.

"Well, a couple of days ago I guess."  Fyodor looked startled by her sudden sharp attention.  "Three.  Three days ago it was when the courier came.  I placed it in your bottom desk drawer for safe keeping."

Silver eyes shifted quickly to the drawer and then back up to the page.  A smile tugged at her lips.   "You're a good man, Fyodor.  Thank you for your help.  That will be all for now."  Wynn handed the boy a silver piece and allowed him to exit the room and shut the door before daring to remove the package.

It was fairly large, and heavy for its size.  About two hands wide and three high.  It bore no markings at all on the wrapping, so she opened it to find a sealed box of dark wood.  It was the seal that held her attention, for stamped upon the frosty blue wax disk, were the three icicles of House Winter.

The tips of the aasimar's fingers were lifted to her mouth as she startled.  Three days ago?  How could anything have gotten here so fast?  She thought that they'd made good time getting home, only having to pause a few hours for Jokun's bloviating.  Master Winter was certainly full of surprises. . .

A letter opener served to break the seal and she carefully lifted the wooden lid of the box.  With the package, carefully tucked away, lay two full bottles of a deep garnet wine, the glass of which had been crafted to appear like the roughly textured bark of a tree.

Wynn gasped aloud and her eyes widened at the sight of not one but two of the priceless bottles of Osiowet.  A folded note accompanied the gift and she reached down to retrieve it with unsteady hands.

"An attempt to help fix that which was ruined." -- Rasven

A moment of pondering the meaning and then her eyes shone as she laughed brightly at the comprehension.  In the midst of their conversation she'd teased about how he'd ruined her on red wines with so fine a vintage.  This was his response. . .

Leaving all else where it lay, a grinning Wynnsaren gathered up the precious cargo into her arms and climbed the stairs to her chamber at the top of the tower.  

Upon the mantle above the small fireplace was where she placed the box, having tucked the note back away within its confines.  She smiled as she pulled a piece of parchment from her writing desk and stirred the inkpot a few times before dipping the tip of the quill.

The aasimar had made her decision, or maybe Rasven had helped to force it. . .either way she had her answer, so now she wrote herself a reminder to put an end to the internal debate for good.

She folded the paper and rested it on top of the box of wine where she would see it.  The single word, in finely scripted and boldly written celestial, read:


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Rasven Winter

Post  The Sub-Creator on Sat Aug 17, 2013 5:31 pm

2nd of Lamashan, 4711


Rasven Winter closed his eyes at the interruption. He lounged in the center of a silken orchid petal divan which resided upon an open balcony eight stories high. Normally, these rare divans were reserved for the guest hall, but he had ordered one moved to this location that he often frequented for long hours of contemplation. He rarely entertained guests upon this particular balcony due to its height, and the fact that so many of his guests balked at its lack of a railing to protect from the nearly one hundred foot drop. Rasven despised railings because they obstructed his view of the city when he felt like sitting. Of course, had any of his guests known the truth of the balcony's enchantment, they might not feel so cautious. Immediately after constructing it, Rasven had commissioned a wizard to enchant it with a replenishing feather fall effect which encompassed anyone falling from the platform with knowledge of its activation word. Thus, he felt perfectly at ease against any sort of danger here.

A sliding door of transparent ice led to the outcropping, its surface burning cold to the touch. To open it required the use of a command phrase which only he and a trio of his most trusted servants knew--a precautionary measure moreso to protect his privacy than for fear of treachery. That one of his most trusted servants had seen fit to disrupt his reflections meant a matter of some importance had come up, however. All three knew better otherwise.

"Yes, Lis?" he prompted, eyes remaining closed against the chill autumn breeze that would only grow more biting with the days to come.

He heard the servant move out onto the balcony a step or two. "So sorry to disturb, Master. I understand how desiring you are of your privacy--"

Rasven's ire boiled quickly. "Out with it, Lis," he snapped.

"It's a package, Master," Lis replied immediately, hurrying his explanation. "The courier declared its origins from Akiros."

"Akiros . . . " the half-elf breathed, his eyes fluttering open. "Identify its seal."

The servant hesitated briefly. "It appears to be a collection of sigils, Master," Lis stated finally. "I've not seen its like before."

"Bring it about that I might see," Rasven commanded, though not harshly, and his servant complied quickly. The merchant prince realized the seal's significance immediately and could not contain his smile. "I have seen its like," he told the man standing to his right. "These are the markings of an angel."

Lis found his master's smile infectious. "I had thought that to be the case, Master, which spurred my belief that you would wish to be interrupted upon its arrival."

"Your insight speaks to your worthiness, Lis," Rasven complimented. "It was discourteous of me to be short with you. I . . . have not slept well recently. Let me have it," he lifted shaking hands to accept the package.

The servant lowered the package into them, but the moment he transferred possession over, Rasven's fingers exploded in burning agony. Had Lis not anticipated his master's inability to hold on, prompting him to double-clutch the package, it would have gone tumbling right off the edge of the balcony.

"Damn this indelible condition!" Rasven swore through gritted teeth, pressing back into the divan in an effort to combat the pain without screaming so loud all of Silverhall would hear. After a long moment, it finally subsided enough for him to regain some measure of decorum. He looked up to see a worrisome and empathetic face looking back at him. "Worry not, Lis, I am well," the half-elf assured the man, forcing himself to smile weakly. "I am well."

The servant nodded and feigned a comforting smile of his own. "Because you failed to ask her?"

"Because I refused to ask her," his master clarified with emphasis.

"It worsens," Lis whispered, sympathetic. "The wardings--"

"It's complicated," Rasven cut him off there, seeing no reason to go into the matter now. He breathed in long and slowly exhaled. "I will subjugate it soon."

Indeed, he had no choice but to do so! The day was quickly arriving when lord would replace dame, and a war would surely follow. He could not adequately perform his duties like this, he knew, and thus what choice did he have but to subjugate it? I have fallen out of practice, he thought tiredly. He hated to think what that revealed about him of late.

After another deep breath, he regarded Lis once again. "You will need to be my hands and eyes. Open the letter and read it to me."

"Yes, Master," Lis responded and performed as commanded. He opened the seal, unfolded the letter, and commenced reading:

"My dear Rasven,

Your thoughtfulness and generosity are unparalleled! I thank you for the gift, and hope you will understand that even the most magnificent of wines can only be enhanced by the company in which it is imbibed. Therefore I have little alternative but to reserve these bottles to be opened in your presence, for how could even the fantastic
Osiowet be savored as richly as it had been when I was there by your side? When I return to you for our second and less formal meeting, I will bring one of these treasures with me to be mutually shared, the second will be safely stored away in the event that Fate smile upon me and you might so honor me with your presence a third time.

As to this chest and its contents, this shard was found within the doomed miners' camp near the meteor excavation site. I believe it was to be sent to you as proof of what the men had discovered there. I would like for you to have it. In a very real way, it was this shard which brought me to you.

So often we set in motion events that we can but hope will bring about the results we desire, but occasionally, so very rarely, those events, those pursuits, that path we tread, brings us not what we expected, but something more. Something we didn't even realize we needed.

Thank you for being my unexpected result, Rasven Winter. . .

~ Wynnsaren"

Upon finishing the letter, Lis turned his attention to the small chest that had accompanied it. "Shall I open this as well?"

"No," Rasven told him, unable to hide the large grin that practically joined with his ears. "Its content could only harm you should you touch it. Leave it within for now." He closed his eyes once more and rested his head against the back of the divan orchid petal. An image of the remarkable woman in her layered dress and donning the siccatite pendant about her neck came easily to his mind. "Besides," he informed his servant, "I have its likeness committed to memory."

"Very well," Lis bowed his head. "What do you wish done with these, Master?"

"Store them in my personal chamber along with the rest of my most precious artifacts."

"As you command," the servant bowed low and backed away from the divan to execute his orders.

"Lis," Rasven called before the man had yet gotten to the ice door.

The trusted servant stopped and turned, retracing his last couple steps to come nearer to where his master sat. "Yes, Master?"

"Read it one more time," Rasven commanded. "Then you may go and safely store them both in my chambers."

Lis audibly complied, and he listened as the servant unfolded the letter once again. As the words on the page swept across the space to him for the second time, Rasven heard them in Wynnsaren's melodic voice and pictured her standing beside him reciting them. Who was this woman that had so enchanted him without uttering a single spell? And in two hours' time! How was she worth the enduring of so much pain? She was a mystery unlike anything he had known before . . . that much he knew without doubt! And somehow, he believed, she possessed qualities beyond his full measure of experience and comprehension.

Wynnsaren remained an enigma. A tantalizing riddle. In two centuries of searching, Rasven had yet to find a woman her equal.

But was she worth so much pain? Perhaps.

Perhaps she was worth everything . . .

This is my word, and, as such, is beyond contestation.

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