• Mature • A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Atop a stony plateau overlooking the lands of central Idalos, and growing wealthy from the gem stones pulled from the rocky soil, Etzos is a bastion of independence; firm in its belief that man should rule Idalos, not be servants of the vain Immortals who nearly destroyed it. But can the many factions set aside their conflicting agendas and see this through?

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A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Fri Aug 03, 2018 6:24 pm

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3rd Trial, Saun, Arc 718
The Commercial Circle
16th bell


"Good luck."

All right, now it's starting to sound a little bloody ominous.

Hearing something once or twice, a man dismisses it pretty easily. Coincidences do happen, after all, even when one lived in a world seemingly constructed out of labyrinthine plots, schemes within schemes, ever-shifting loyalties, and soulless self-interest above anything else. But turns of phrase were more easily discounted... until you heard the exact same one, attached to the exact same person, three times in a row.

What did you expect, talking about a mage-killer?

Those were the words Vorund had used when Kasoria had inquired about the woman. The crime boss had been put back enough that he'd stopped his scrawling and turned to peer at his pet assassin over his eyes glasses. Even Ilos had paused his second accounting of the books to scowl confusedly at him. But the old man knew his killer had a run-in of the magical sort: a meeting of minds, as it were, only the other mind was in the body of a thing that needed a shit-ton of tattoos and spells to not become a mass of murderous shadow.

Although Raellen was pretty damned murderous no matter how you sliced it, and without his new trinket, Kasoria would have been butchered, stripped, and forgotten in short order.

But he wasn't. He was alive and her precious fucking "Gift" was useless against him. All because of the thing he carried in his pocket at that moment in the Circle. Shadowy and indistinct, even in clear sunlight. Faintly throbbing with some nameless, indistinct wrongness that Kasoria did not know of and could not explain.

Vorund had given him a name, one he'd heard before. Not just her name, but another fellow who could... narrow things down.

"Ah, that ol' trout Gupta? North side, third wall on the inside, third or... nah, fifth lot, I think." The paunchy Blackjack had belched as if to punctuate his sentence. Mopped up beer and sausage from his beard. Kasoria silently bemoaned the state of the constabulary in the Arc Seven-One-Eight. Never would have flown, when he was in the Academy. "Good luck, wee man."

So, yes, Kasoria had frowned a little, to hear the dirty Blackjack say those words to him. As if he were some neophyte wandering blindly into the wyrm's hole. As far as he'd heard - and he'd heard plenty over the last decade or so - the old woman was... well, much like him, apparently. Only she was a legitimate version, and she used magic, and she was a woman. Fine, three big differences. But whenever she was mentioned, dead mages were always close behind her name. She was the Council's pet assassin, too, only she worked her will for Vuda, and against the magically-enabled of Etzos who wouldn't toe his line.

Kasoria was not worried about that part. He wasn't on the job, nor did he have a gripe with her. He sought only answers.

"Errrr... yeah, sure, up the road and left, mate," the street vendor said to him as he got closer to his goal, pointing with a hand holding some soggy bread roll with soggier meat wrapped in it. Sweltering heat and this wanker was out here selling hot food. "G'luck wiv' Ol' Lady Sima."

Kasoria was flat-out scowling as he marched away from the man. What did he look like, for fuck's sake?! But he forced his mind away from such useless grumbling and settled on the woman he was about to see. A sword, a dagger, he knew these things, and even if he did not know how to craft them, he knew what they were. What comprised them and how they were wrought. How to maintain and even enhance their use. Because they stayed the same. Because such things were known and understood, like the Common tongue and the value of gold.

But this was the wyrd his mother talked to him about. This was power, raw and elemental, being carried around in his back pocket. He knew the value of it, had seen first-hand how it had stymied that hell-bitch's Great Fucking Gift like it was a puff of wind hurled against a hurricane... but he still had to know how, and why. Answers were all he wanted, so he would know that the wrong walk down the street or muttered words or random incantation might turn his talisman of protection into an instrument of his doom.

And... here we are.

Or so he hoped, as he turned down the final street and found the lot he was looking for. Clean, respectable folk bustled about and didn't pay the shuffling figure much attention. Which was what the whole Stinky Beggar Look was for, of course. He passed under the radar here just as he did in the Oh'Pee. He'd rather not be wearing a chainmail vest and cloak with this fucking heat, but... you never knew.

That and it's been three times they've said that. Too bloody ominous.

Kasoria stopped in front of the door and tapped the vague bulge of the talisman under his cloak. Time for answers.
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Tue Sep 04, 2018 1:45 am

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Her eyes rolled at the knock, 'Torvyn's Law' she muttered to herself, 'The greater number of restricted files one has out, the higher the likelihood of interruption.'

She'd had five files out, so the accepted ratio figured out to be fifty-fifty. "Just a bit!" she called to whoever it was, as she gathered up information on the next Coven member she'd been tasked to render irrelevant. It did not have to mean execution, by any means. Simple coercion was often sufficient. Blackmail, extortion, threat of poisoning, drugs to induce overstepping through psychotropic means, a frame to implicate them as a traitor to their faction. These were all options.

Of course, she had to consider the possibility that she'd gotten placed on a similar list possessed by the Tower's enemies, so she didn't just throw the door open. Not until snatching up a well from the table and using its charge to replicate the dermal layers of her body to absorb the average knife attack, as well the drugs or poisons that may accompany them.

This was a much less obvious use of Abrogation, as it did not erect a noticeable barrier. To the casual eye, she would only appear closer to the doorway and a bit "thicker" than she truly was. Both of these conditions would not evoke curiosity, so long as she wasted no time just standing there, inviting visual scrutiny.

Nor did she this time. But a scowl crawled across her face at the sight of her current visitor. "So just how am I supposed to look like a normal citizen, inviting someone in who looks like that?" There was only one person who this was likely to be. That did not make security any easier to ensure as she stepped back, maintaining the extra replicative layers. Blades were definitely what this one was known for.

She kept enough space between them to allow a swift barrier to be cast as she motioned to a chair. "Sit...please." she added as an afterthought. She did not offer him a drink. In the general line of work they shared, he'd be a fool to accept it. She herself remained standing for quick reaction purposes. She checked the back room, somehow never quite seeming to take her eyes of the raggedy-looking man sitting in the chair.

"Alright, give me a name I know, and the name of who sent you. It would be nice if they were the same.....But it's not necessarily a deal-breaker." She left the pause to see if her visitor would hastily insert some sort of disclaimer. "You're not family, and you're not business that I recognize. Those are usually the only friendly connections. What do you want?"
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Thu Sep 06, 2018 4:43 am

She knew who he was, apparently. Mayhap who, then certainly what. The door opened and Kasoria blinked in surprise. Some trick of the light, he thought. The woman wasn't much bigger than him - which was saying something, given his size - but she seemed... so solid. Stout and firm like the walls of the city, then he blinked again and-

Just the light. It has to be.

With an internal shrug, the little killer let the older killer settle him into her humble home. His eyes flitted over furniture, the desk, the files she'd so discreetly gathered back up and put away so he couldn't read them. Kasoria blinked owlishly as she prattled for a little bit, finding nothing in her words that prompted a response from him.

Aside from a smile, shortly after he took his seat. "Normal citizen". So she acknowledged that she was not one of them, did she? And she was extending that distinction to him? Kasoria decided that he just might like this woman. He seemed to enjoy the flexibility of language as much as he, although she flung it about far more freely.

But she wasn't some doddery old woman, that much he could tell. She kept her distance. She kept her eyes on him. She didn't offer a drink she knew he wouldn't accept, nor did she try to use her arcane gifts to intimidate him. She appeared just as she wanted to appear, which was something he was well-versed in. Then the questions truly began, and Kasoria mulled over his answer for a moment. Hands on his knees, blinking slowly at her while he marshaled his thoughts.

Keep it simple, and as truthful as possible. This one can probably smell deceit.

"I think you know my name," he said, reaching into his pocket before pausing, arm in mid-air. "And I came by myself, and for myself. I'm going to pull something out of my pocket, very slowly. I want to know about it, and I heard you were the lady to speak to."

She probably wouldn't like a good half to two-thirds of that response, but Kasoria was hoping she'd be more interested in the blatantly magical talisman he would produce. Even in the well-lit confines of Sima's home, the arm and hand holding it clearly bathed in light, the talisman looked like it was being held under a blanket. Light didn't so much avoid it as ignore it; slid around it as if all were susceptible to illumination save for anything attached to the material. Kasoria placed it on the table between them, and tapped it with a finger.

"Had a run-in with a Naerikk a while back. She tried to use her gift on me. The one that steals your senses. Happened to me before," he paused, something bitter and ugly seeping into his words, before he sucked it back out and continued. "But this time... nothing. Man next to me? Fell over like a puppet with the strings slashed. But I didn't so much as feel a twinge. I'm thinking..."

taptaptap

"... this is what stopped it. And I want to know why."

He retreated to his seat, leaving the talisman alone between them. He'd let her broach the topic of payment for services rendered. If anything else, it would at least give Kasoria a chance to rack his brains on what the hells he could offer her.
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Tue Sep 18, 2018 9:37 pm

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The little killer's tone had changed subtly in the time it took to make his last statement. It's departure from the vocal envelope normally associated with questions was because the look on his host's face made it plain to see that she knew the answer he sought. Still, it would come as no surprise to him that a great deal of assessment would be undertaken before information of this value would be handed over.

After a full bit of the Abrogator's narrowed glances shooting in and out of focus, the direction of her gaze moving slowly about as she considered what she knew, and what it might mean in this situation, she prompted the rising of a single pointer finger to interrupt a second demand for details from her guest. Now her eyes locked directly on his, and turned genuinely dangerous. After another bit of calculating scenarios and possible hidden agendas, she softened somewhat.

"WHAT this is, is not near so much of a question, in my book, as how you came to possess it. This is what the very rich and powerful use to protect themselves against folks such as yourself...and this naerikk, whom I assume had an assistant to do the actual red work, yes?" she did not wait for a confirmation, the lack of a denial was sufficient.

"Only Bosses, and high level politicians have these; those that have reasonable fear of assassination. This is a ward. Judging by the other details you offered, I would say this is specifically empowered to negate the naerikk racial 'gift'. Against you, someone would more likely own a Sovereign ward. They are designed to negate kinetic inertia."

She now reclined more fully. "Still, a slowly pushed dirk will still drive through a Sovereign ward's sphere of effect. But that first surprise instance of having the swing of your gladius slowed to a crawling speed could well be enough to turn advantage against you. I of course, prefer Abrogation, as a far more comprehensive defense against most any sort of attack."

She gestured to the shadowy disk on the table, "Nonetheless, a ward is fair substitute; and I must say, a defense ward against that naerikk trick is a cut above the rest. Magic is not that effective against a stealthy snake like that Fence agent. Once she hits you, it's near impossible to focus sharply enough to cast anything. Actually, it's the very attempt to focus that defeats you, because it can not be done. One needs to possess the experience to do it instinctively, despite the total lack of sensory awareness."

She did not take note of any reaction to the mention of her guest's signature weapon. Her reference was purely to let him know that she knew. "So here's the thing. That is a ward against the naerikk gift. A very nice little trinket. But not one you would have been given. And if you got it deliberately, you'd know what it is. So you must have just stumbled across it, and just in time for it to come into play against Miss Charone."

Again, the look of careful assessment furrowed her brow, "Now we both know there are a number of contractual courtesies that would come into play in such a confrontation. And if you and she came to blows, it would not simply be from you possessing that ward. You might have it for a perfectly legitimate contract reason. Maybe you were even delivering it to one of Vorund's loyal customers. It would not be her place to call you on it. Even if you were her mark, she'd simply be expected to alter her approach, but there would be no special animosity for having it. She might even feel complimented that you went to such lengths, thinking it showed that you feared her."

She waved off the denial she assumed was coming, "But that's neither here nor there. Sure, I can tell you a great deal more about this ward. But I need to know if you got this because of some betrayal of a current truce or partnership, because that could backlash on a lot of people, including me. And I'd like to know if I need to watch my back more than usual, and from whom. Your Boss is pretty big, The Prince is overtaking him lately, but you're still both smaller than The Fence. I would actually not be surprised if that ward was provided by them. But only intended for their loyal customers. It may have even been Miss Charone's blood that went into making it."

Her eyes now looked him up and down, noting the suggestions of a number of injuries. Though her next question may have seemed like small talk to the uninformed, the concerns she had just expressed made it obvious that it would be of vital importance to many people, "Uhh.....how IS Miss Charone, by the way?"
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:19 pm

Ward. Sovereign. Kinetic... inursha?

Once again, the little killer stayed quiet as the barrage of words assailed him. Mainly because he had to, otherwise absorbing what she was saying would have been far more difficult. He felt like a man tied to a table having water poured across his face. It seemed suffocating, in a way, almost too much He took words as shrewdly as he could, replacing others with them-

Not a "talisman", a "ward". That's what these protective... things, are called.

-logging new ones away, relating to magics he didn't understand but would, one day, come in useful-

Sovereign. They protect against weapons, not magic.

-and new words he hadn't heard before and had to cobble together the understanding of with what he already know. He wouldn't bet his life against spelling "kinetic inertia" properly, but when she mentioned dirk and gladius and blade... well, even a neophyte to magic such as he could work it out. So, this Sovereign thing could protect against physical weapons, but less so against magic?

Abrogation.

That made him blink. He'd heard of that. Even seen... something, once or twice, that seemed familiar. A barrier in the air, thrown up by a grizzled old sod with a face and name deep in his memory. Fire had been quenched against it; crackling power craft from ether and anger had been useless. This must have been what it was. This... Abrogation.

Magic that makes shields.

Kasoria swallowed and part of him wished he'd accepted that drink. He had to do all this in silence, in his own head... while she plowed on like a dictionary with a dot on her head, heedless to his racing mind and, apparently, playing her own little game, too.

He heard "gladius", and knew it was not a coincidence. Hardly an uncommon weapon in Etzos, given the close, brutal nature of fighting in the city, but she said "your gladius". As if she already knew what he used. She may have seen the sword at his hip when he walked in, but only on any other day. Kasoria wasn't going "weighted" that day, not when he had to pass numerous checkpoints and wanted to remain as unobtrusive as possible. So how did she know?

Same way she knows your name. What you do. Who you work for. Because she's from the same place, just further away from the gutter.

And speaking of coincidences, she touched on another one that made him frown. Made him think so deep and hard that for a few trills he didn't answer her last question. He knew two, maybe three other Naerikk in Etzos, and none of them in his line of work. So who would be needing a... ward against one of them? Only someone expecting her... and it was right there in her path. Of all the millions of rooms and tunnels and buildings and yards and streets and crevices that made up the city, it just so happened to be in one where she would be, and so would a man she would try to kill... who had the means and methods to do the same to her.

Kasoria had seen plenty of coincidences in his life, and he knew that yes, they did just happen. But it was a matter of odds. Coincidences happened all the time, because the chances of them having was pretty solid. But the specifics of such convergences, the minute details... this was one that simply didn't happen by itself. Not in the bolthole of some dead debtor from the Oh'Pee, who didn't have the wit, coin, or magic to make such an item.

Item. Much better word than "thing".

"Hmm?" Bugger, she'd asked a question, hadn't she? Kasoria blinked away his thoughts and focused on answering it. "Last I saw, she was pissed off an' made a' shadow, not skin. But she wun't dead." His frown didn't go away. If anything, it deepened. He stared at and through the gloomy token, ignoring the woman that had given him so much to think about. His words seemed to come out unbidden, half to himself, half to his audience. "I just... found it. Was lookin' fer someone an' I just... saw it. Right there, in front a' me. Right before-"

Kasoria stopped, mouth clicking shut. His gaze flicked up back to hers, and when he spoken again, iron had chased away the tremulous uncertainty of his words.

"Right before she arrived an' tried t'do me in. Reckon yer onto somethin'. Shite like that don't just happen."

He leaned back in his chair, fingers tapping out a slow monotone on the arms of it.

"How d'ya make somethin' like this? S'it like... that Abrogation stuff? You... put it in somethin' like that, instead a' waving it around with yer hands?" He pointed to the ward briefly, watching the impossible shadows slide across it, scorning all laws of reality as light filled the room. "An' what're those symbols? They words?"

He scratched under his chin and waited for her to formulate something like a reply. He hadn't expected their chat to go in that direction, and scorned himself for not thinking of it earlier. Oh, a perfect defense against the biggest advantage a Naerikk has gets dropped in your path, mere bits before said Naerikk shows up and tried to top you? Fates, you don't think someone planned that, do you? My word! What a brilliant cunting deduction!

But that was what happened, and that's the reality he had to adjust to, same as the new words and ideas his mind was greedily assimilating. You adapted and your learned or you died; it was no different that training or drilling or sparring to stay sharp. This was just a more... cerebral exercise. Kasoria licked his lip and decided to branch out in another direction, while he had the chance. No guarantee the old lady would indulge him, but based on what he'd just heard...

She gave you damn-near a lecture on that Abrogation thing without you even asking for it. No telling what she'll spew out next.

"What's Abrogation, anyway?"

Just a little bait. A morsel dropped in the lake, to see what would come up. Whatever it was, it was likely more than he knew at the moment.
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Sun Sep 23, 2018 4:08 am

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The woman scowled as her eyes once again searched past the room, into imagined scenarios, comparing the likelihoods of a number of potential broken alliances, assessing the ramifications of them to see who stood to gain from each one.

"It could be that the ward was left there with the specific intent of you being able to kill her. But no one would be able to ensure that you located it in time, unless it was sitting out in the open." She looked at her guest, but realized they may have completely different takes on what constituted "out in the open".

She slid back into assessment mode, "But even then, you might not have picked it up. I mean that one is kind of creepy looking. They had to consider that touching it might have been the last thing you'd do. So if the guy you went to see actually owned it, that would suggest he had no idea she was coming, or he'd never have left it behind. Or wait a bit...was the target already dead? Was there a body in the room when you arrived?"

She stared for a few moments without further comment, then began again with a sigh, "Look, we both have information we should not be divulging to folks like us. If you think you stand to get in more trouble than I do, you're very wrong. But if alliances have been broken we'd do well to compare some notes. And if you're expecting me to give you any about that device, you're gonna have to be a bit more forthcoming yourself."

"It could be breach between the...uh...." she started, realizing that just even saying the names of any factions right now would potentially be valuable information. And looking at the man before her, the expression on his face, she concluded that he had nothing of this sort to offer in response. Like her, he just obeyed orders. The truth was, she had more of such information about the factions she was concerned with than he would.

She sat back with a sigh, "Never mind all that. Speculation could be just as bad. To be honest, I haven't seen any tics or catches in your manner to indicate that I've caught you by surprise with anything I've said. There's a lot I can find out without it having to have been from you. But a few details would be a big help. Details I won't get from my own sources."

His demeanor expressed nothing in the way of cooperation, but she pressed on, "Like...were you on a job...the usual kind...did you find this at the target's location...was it left out for you to find...I mean like was it in plain sight...was no one there, but the candles were burning...so it would stand out...I mean, thatthing is not going to show up in Underground darkness, right?...And was she already there waiting...that sort of thing."

She could see that he was about to laugh in her face at the idea that he'd give up anything of the sort. "In exchange..." she interrupted, voice and hand both raised, "I'll...introduce you...to Abrogation...and tell what I can about that ward." She tried to use words that would not commit her to anything beyond her authority.
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:22 pm

Kasoria almost wished she'd offered him a drink, now. It would have gone down quite nicely, a refreshment to go with the entertaining little game they were both playing. No board or pieces or cards or dice between them, but Kasoria could almost see the stratagems and plays in front of him, like chalk lines across brick work, made and erased with each passing round. Clearly they were old hands at this, and he had to admit, it was refreshing to meet one still willing to play.

Kids nowadays... no subtlety.

So, like a man across the the table from a grandmaster, he did not rush himself when it came to his reply. He digested her words, let them become knowledge in his memory. Things were just... too convenient. Almost as if they're been plotted and scripted to give him the advantage against an impossibly specific enemy. And it was the "impossibly" part that told him, and Sima, that this had not just been Fate rolling the dice. Then something else she said rattled back into the forefront of his mind.

They'd have to have known you'd pick it up. Not just out of greed or curiosity or ignorance, but... because they knew you. Personally.

Who the hell could have gotten that close? And who would care enough to help you that much?


Kasoria rubbed her temple, not caring if it was uch an obvious tell. She knew who and what he was; higher thinking, at least of this kind, was not a common thing for him .She was discussing and speculating about machinations far beyond his purview. Trying to keep as vague as she could, but unable to hide the fact that various factions and interests could be concerned. All the while, he was trying to keep up, stay on target, absorb it all.

So he was ready when her offer was made. Shaky and indistinct, with plenty of wriggle room, but he couldn't expect much better from someone like her. But an offer nonetheless, and the wording alone made him lick his lower lip quickly in curiosity.

What're you losing? Nothing. Just tell her what you already have, in more detail.

"Yer an old hand at all' this," he said with a wry smile, leaning forward as if speaking of conspiracy. "So y'know that anythin' youse offer me, ain't gonna make me tell tells outta the schoolhouse about... others." He winked at her. Not a singular, not a gender, not even a mention of Bangun Vorund. Let her know more than she let on, and let her show it; he wouldn't confirm any of it, anyway. "But... youse gimme that introduction-" he held up one finger "-an' tell me about the ward, like I asked inna' first place-" another finger "-an' I'll tell ya what I remember."

He leaned back in his chair. Arms at his side, legs uncrossed. Open and unafraid, not an inch of defensive stiffness in his bearing. A man with nothing to hide, and little to fear. He'd seen death too many times for it to hold any terror; he'd been betrayed and betrayer often enough that expecting it was second nature. But more than history, and experience, was the simple fact that what he gave away, would be less than what he got.

Knowledge. Information. Truth. All worthy and useful things. He chuckled internally as she came to a decision. Getting too bloody philsophical in my old age...

The decision was made, and Kasoria nodded. He took a breath and started to talk. He told the woman about the room in the Underground. How it was barren of bodies and blood, but torn apart pretty obviously. Amateurish in its chaos, but with the thoroughness of the well-motivated. Every drawer and door had been emptied on the groudn or flung open. Every crevice searched. The floor was covered in parchment, clothes, scraps of belongings, and in the middle of it...

"The candles made it easy t'spot," he said, eyes a little unfocused as he recollected, before sliding back to the oddly-pulsing token on the table. "Cuz there was light in there. Not enough fer the whole room, but enough around the table, y'ken? So when I saw this spot a'... just blackness, sitting there on the ground, it was odd. I bet down and I saw these things scratched onta' it. Felt... I dunno..."

The assassin shook his head. All his books and love of reading, al his skill with bare hands and blades, and he still could not express as he wished to. His mind was full of colored images, but he had not the brush to paint them for her. Instead he sighed and scratched under his ragged beard.

"Wuz just me in there, too. She showed up... Fates, fuckin' trills after I picked it up. Don't think she saw me grab it, either. My back was to her when she came in. I heard her smarmy fuckin' voice-" anger surged in his voice for a moment, then broke and rolled back "-an' stuck it in me pocket. She never saw it, never knew I had it. That's what I remember. What's what happened. That's what I know. Now..."

Rather than lean back and exude confidence like before, Kasoria just planted a finger on the token without looking away from the older lady. He could feel... someting, writhing there. Hot or cold, moving or still, wyrd or sunlight warming it, he didn't know. Which was the whole point of the visit, after all.

"Whada youse know, Mistress Sima?"
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Sun Sep 30, 2018 12:36 am

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There was a long moment of silence as the woman gave a blandly unamused look at her guest. "Is that it? That's the best you can do? Very well, I will return the level of in-depth information regarding this ward as you have just given me regarding your run-in with our Miss Charone."

Her tone of the words "in-depth" were of a most purely untainted sarcasm. She picked up the disc; eyebrows registering just a hint of a rise as her fingertips seemed to sink slightly into the shadowy surface.

"You may have thought I actuallywished you to limit yourself to only those exact questions I stated, but that last bit about 'That sort of thing' was intended to suggest you could freely volunteer tidbits that I would not know to ask about so precisely. Because I might feel a sort of obligation to take my own part of this deal as literally."

She sat down, her eyes narrowed in a playful "two-can-play-this-game" manner. "You see, I promised only to 'introduce' you to Abrogation. I could simply read off the introductory preamble about Abrogation from some "Magical Studies" textbook. And to tell you 'what I can', not ALL I can, about this ward, could be nothing more than the fact that wards are made to negate a specific power, and that the writing on the sides is Ancient Tongue."

She halted the protest she felt coming from her counterpart, "You think I did not already hear about this confrontation? It was nearly eighty trials ago. Yet you only come to me now. I imagine you had some very serious wounds to have tended to. There is very little you have thus far told me that is not obvious. For instance, how is it that you even know she used this power, if there was no effect? I suggest that, contrary to what you say, there was NOT 'just you' in there. There must have been someone that was affected, so you'd know that you were not. As well, her thug's body was still there, showing wounds consistent with your...style."

She held her hand up to signify her intent to continue, "She would obviously not have used her power over such an area as to include her thug. He would then go in afterwards, to deliver the killing stroke. So she believed she'd disabled you. This demonstrates quite clearly that I did not need you to tell me that she did not know you had it. And having sent her thug in makes it clear it DID affect someone. And that, in turn, would mean she too was weakened. BUT, even though she was debilitated by the use of her power, she still nearly beat you."

She sat back, with a look that spoke of having been convinced that she'd taken the upper hand in the game. "So perhaps, you would now like to fill in some obvious blanks...Who else was there? Did he or she arrive with you? Did you save them from Miss Charone? Did they save you? Both? Had they traveled all the way down there with you. Are they "connected", to the best of your knowledge, and to whom? Was there intent to confront Miss Charone? If not, was anyone with them as they arrived? How did they react upon seeing you and/or Miss Charone?"

Her smug expression changed now to dead seriousness, "Understand, sir, as much as I DO enjoy these word games, I am genuinely concerned that something very significant is in the works. And I intend to know everything I can to determine what it is, and who will be most directly and detrimentally affected by it."
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Sun Sep 30, 2018 7:17 pm

Despite the reputation that he had quite deliberately cultivated over the arcs, Kasoria did not kill wantonly. He didn't butcher for annoying him, nor cut throats for spilling beer on his boots, or getting in his way when he walked, or any other such nonsense. He was a professional; that meant he killed when he was paid to, when he was required to, for reasons of finance and loyalty. Brutalizing an old woman for getting fresh with him was, therefore, not something he would have any truck with.

But that didn't stop the possible future flashing across his eyes. Purely as a calming exercise. A replayed it a few times, varying the means and end results.

Hmm. Better.

None of that came to pass, of course. He just glared at Sima as she dressed him down, chewed him out, and redoubled her questions, all at the same time. A few times his mouth opened with a protest, but the wily old goat never gave him a chance. By the time her voice finally stopped - for breath, I'd fucking hope - Kasoria wasn't even bothering to hide his anger. His face smoldered and twitched, muscles under his beard throbbing at his jaw like an animal trying to beat its way to freedom. His mouth opened, and... and...

Calm. Think. Getting pissy with her ain't gonna help you. And...

He sighed. Aye. "And". That wasn't all that had him on edge. Her tone, her manner, superior and mocking. He'd thought he could hide the facts from her; keep some details to himself and still paint the picture of what happened in those dark rooms hidden. But she was too sharp for that, and he'd been found out. That only added a new dimension to his irritation, however. To be mocked and derided by the witless was one thing; who cared for their opinions, anyway? But to be beaten and sniffed out, and then subjected to such scorn?

War on two fronts. Never a good thing.

"... there was someone else," he said, words coming out like she had to rip them from his mouth with tongs. "A man, and no, I don't know his fucking name. He vanished before I could ask. He followed me into the room, fuck knows what he was doing there. That's how I knew she cast that Gift a' hers. Because he was right next to me an' hit the ground like someone had taken his head off with an ax. But me? Standin' two feet away? I felt a tingle, an' fuck all else."

But there were more questions. More and more and the more Kasoria heard them, the more he saw they were just variations of the same ones she'd been spitting at him the whole visit. He actually flashed his teeth for a second, white and yellow against the deep black of his beard.

"Fuck do I have to gain from lying to you, woman? I didn't tell ya about that bloke cuz he didn't do shite. He hit the ground an' that was that. Useless as a sack of pig shit for the whole fight. And yeah, Charone had some fuckin' bumboy wiv' her but why should that be important? She uses that Gift so fuckin' much, a' course she'd have some monkey next to her t'finish off whoever she'd using it on." His accent was becoming stronger by the moment, all the erudition of his reading and literature crumbling and burning away as his irritation rose. "So why ask me the same fuckin' shite wiv' diff'rent words? Yer wastin' my time, there wunt no-one else-"

He stopped. Clear and disbelieving as a lightning bolt through a bright and blue sky, a thought crashed into the forefront of his mind. No... No, he was wrong. But why did it take so long for him to remember? He saw Charone, and her nameless muscle that died before he could be of any use, save take the blade that would have carved open the Naerikk. He saw Oberan, useless on the ground, stunned and paralyzed by the Gift of Shadows. But before that, when the words started, before the Gift, as he arrived-

"There was a child."

The words came out almost as a whisper. Kasoria was looking forward but not seeing. Not in front of himself. He closed his eyes and rubbed his temple. When he focused on that night his wounds seemed to throb more. The healing scars and cuts on his back and arm and ribcage angrily hissing under his clothes. But he pushed the feeling away, concentrating on that fleeting handful of trills and an equally fleeting sight-

"A girl. Looked like a boy, or tryna' look like one. She was... the bloke that followed me? She was... I dunno, guiding him." He snapped his fingers a few times, trying to think of a name. "What're those ones called, the ones in the Underground, show people around fer a price? Keepers or somethin'... anyway. She was there, too. But only up to the Gift bein' used. Then she was smart an' buggered off before the same could happen t'her."

He leaned forward, oddly uncaring now for his previous annoyance. He was onto something, he was sure of it. Oberan had been led to the same killing ground as him, as Charone. And since they were being so honest now, and Kasoria knew there was no chance he'd hide anything from the old woman...

"The man, who followed me? He had... some kinda magic to him. When I was fighting that shadow-bitch, he... I dunno... he gave me power. I dunno if it was his or hers or jus' somethin' else, but I was faster, stronger. I got sliced up an' I barely felt it, even at the end when she finally gave up and... became a shadow, I guess yuh'd call it. So he had magic. I'm sure it was him, cuz..." He snorted and gestured to himself. "... I'm good, an' I'm hard t'fuckin' kill, but I ain't that tough."

He held up a finger with each point he made afterwards. Words dropping slowly and surely, accent fading away as he reined in his emotions, eyes and mind and heart all aligned at the mystery they were uncovering together.

"The girl, the Keeper, she guided him there. So it wasn't an accident he was there, either. And he had some power, some magic, that he used to help me. But the token itself? The ward? Nothing to do with me, or him... but I can't speak for the little girl."

Now it was his turn to hold up his hand, as she eagerly opened her mouth to pour out more questions. Instead, Kasoria shook his head and retired back into his seat, some weariness showing on his face and in his voice.

"Nah-nah-nah, no more of the same shite, Miss Sima. I've told you everything I know now, and twice in some cases. Who was there, what they did. What they were doing and why, well, if I knew that, I wouldn't still be here talking to you, would I? I'd just have asked about the ward and that would have been that." Kasoria rubbed his face and the motion worked its way downwards until he was massaging his sore throat. "Wadaya make of it?"

He didn't ask anything else. About Ancient Tongue, whatever that was, or exactly what words were written onto the ward. She'd get around to that, and he didn't wish to rush her. Besides, in her triumphant glow, thinking (well, knowing) she'd beaten him for a round, she was more likely to be... verbose. People talked more when they were in good moods. Kasoria was hoping she'd be no exception. But he did clear one thing up, before she started speaking.

"And before you ask, I know what 'negate' means."

A small, prideful point, but damned if his ego hadn't taken enough of a battering so far...
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Re: A Curious Mind [Modded Thread]

Sun Oct 07, 2018 1:47 am

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For the first few moments of the Raggedy assassin's tirade, the mage wore an expression of redoubled annoyance. It was not that this round of rebuttals looked to be an attempt to hide details, like last time. But it was as if the man truly did not believe she'd had cause to nail him down any further. It was as if he did not see the necessity an open and full comparing of notes.

Yes, yes, there was understanding of his snarky tone. She had yet to meet anyone, male or female, who enjoyed being called out for withholding information. It always took on a tone of defense against being labelled a fool or a schemer. And...well...most of the time, that is what it was. She was on the verge of making some acknowledgement that she could have been a bit less sharp with her remarks when the words cut the mood like one of the man's killing blades...

"There was a child."

Although she managed to avoid freezing, or doing a double take, or swallowing heavily, or spitting her drink out, her eyes betrayed the importance of the words. She locked her gaze with her guest, watching for any sign of duplicity, but saw only the slight roll that accompanied most people's attempts to recall something. The small details Kasoria dredged up only confirmed her suspicions.

"Finders Seekers." she corrected, nodding as he added the impression that the child had been smart enough to hastily vacate the area. "So now, this doesn't truly prove anything regarding this stranger's complicity one way or the other, or the child's, for that matter. But too many coincidences do not sit well with me."

Her own gaze wandered a bit now. "So Miss Charone kept her gift active, even after realizing it wasn't working on you. This could suggest some prior knowledge that this stranger would willingly choose to get involved. I think most people would not make such a choice. I think they would leave as quickly as possible, if for no other reason than the fact that they may believe you would eliminate all witnesses if she didn't."

She waved this off as soon as she finished saying it. What most people would do was irrelevant here. And the assassin's next revelations about some odd power that had come to his aid began to form another avenue of thinking. "You say you don't know him. So he supposedly chose to help a complete stranger in a situation he knew nothing about. And one that would quickly demonstrate that both folks involved were trained killers."

She shook her head, "Not a common reaction from your average bystander." She went to pour herself a refresher, but did not return to her seat. She considered her guest for a few moments before nodding her head, "This is not an average man. I am come from the Black Guard and have heard plenty of barracks tales, some clearly exaggerations, some outright lies, some all too believable. But there are others that are dismissed as outlandish excuses for what appeared at first to be complete incompetency."

She sat back down, her eyes becoming conspiratorial "I've seen many reactions from the troops suffering the disbelief and mockery of their fellows. Most sulk for awhile and either come around to admit they'd fucked up, or just don't mention it again. Some admit it right away. Some don't admit an actual lie, but acknowledge lack of sleep, or having had a few drinks, or some other explanation for failure. But a few stubbornly insist upon their tale nonstop. And when the details do not change from telling to telling, it starts to take on some serious credibility."

"We have a few such tales regarding some very similar incidents. You know, like this energy drain thing." she leaned forward with an air of looking both ways before whispering, "Okay, there was a visit recently from some very highly placed women from Augiery. Ultimately, they requested that a man called 'Oberan' be watched and prevented from leaving Etzos. His description matches what you have said, and he supposedly has a tendency to be accompanied by some truly odd occurrences. He also has some deep grudge against the naerikk, and will go out of his way to embarrass them whenever he can."

She frowned inwardly, "It doesn't prove anything, but it fits. I think he was down there for some other reason, and it was just coincidence that the girl led him there. This could not have been planned, or you'd have known about the ward. And the fact that he fell such easy victim to Miss Charone strongly suggests that HE was not sent to kill her. But that ward being planted there suggests that someone was. Also the actual target, the man whose office it was, was nowhere to be seen, even though both you and Miss Charone seemed to expect to find him there."

Her expression showed increasing levels of satisfaction with her own suppositions. "I'd say you and this man, who I believe to be Oberan, happened along at the right time to interrupt a hit on Miss Charone. The results you achieved will probably suffice for whatever our conspirators have in mind. She is out of the picture for quite some time. She will need to travel all the way to either Augiery itself, or to someone with access to the precise ether-soaked tattooing ability. She's on the verge of dying if she turns back to her human form, so the entire trip will have to be done in complete darkness, so she can stay in her shadow form."

She met Kasoria's eyes, "Someone, probably the Finders Keepers and someone else, maybe the Shadeblades, are making a move on The Fence. This is huge! The Fence is partnered with the Tower itself. So now, as far as you know, your group is not in on this? Would Vorund tell you if he was?"

Her face showed deference now. She knew she was asking a great deal of her guest with such questions. She also knew she already owed him some favors regarding the ward and her Abrogation. She would see if her guest would make that kind of trade.
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