• Closed • [Halls of Ivy] (Im)Properly Official [Whisper]

In which Caius seeks permission to operate officially in Viden for the Order of the Mantis

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Caius Gawyne
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Thu Jun 14, 2018 8:05 pm

4th of Ymiden, 718

EARLY MORNING | THE HALLS of IVY
C
aius had yet to sleep from the evening before, having spent far too much coin and far too much time indulging in the distraction of debauchery in the secluded quiet of Sweet Luxuries. Instead of going to bed at a decent break after, he choose instead to feed the insatiably lustful desires that had been rekindled by a familiar and well-deserved sort of anger, breaking the tender vows he'd made before the Empress herself as if they'd never had any meaning at all with such a surprising callousness was seared into his conscience by burned, twisted flesh and heated, addiction-twisted need.

He'd made his way back to his too small room in the White Fox Inn in the wee breaks before dawn, letting the nearly overwhelming but unfortunately far too delayed waves of self-loathing run their course through his entire being like the last trembling sensations fading in some more coveted moment of comforting afterglow closeness with the delicate pianist across the sea in Rynmere he'd just betrayed. While he tried to sleep for at least a break or two, he only tossed and turned, disgusted in his satisfaction, terrified of the kinds of nightmares that would surely crawl out of the darkness of his tarnished, broken mind if he actually allowed himself to drift to sleep after the trial before and all the emotions he'd been forced to bury through Syroa's unwelcome but haplessly useful gift of a forced blessing.

When finally the first hints of light crept through the small window of his room, Caius willingly crept from his uncomfortable bed. He washed and shaved and dressed in an almost mechanical-fashion, well practiced in looking the part of his birthright, well practiced in cleaning up after himself and his irresponsible choices in order to present a well-bred facade of nobility and privilege, of rank and title.

Refusing the hunger that gnawed at him, starving the lustful beast that whined and writhed within, the Lord Arbiter instead made sure all of his paperwork was in order, folding everything neatly, careful of the seals and the signatures, and tucking them all away into his satchel before he paused to fasten the ash-colored cloak emblazoned with the mantis, the symbol of the mage-hunting, mage-executing Order of that had become such an integral part of law enforcement in the Kingdom of Rynnmere over the past few seasons. An organization he was now third in command of, head judicator of, under the watchful gazes of his King, the Empress, and the Lord Inquisitor himself. Loath to be so embroiled in politics, here he was crushed by them on all sides, tossed into the crucible of social expectation and social change.

Bogs, what the fuck was he doing, anyway?

By the Fates, what had he even done by coming here, chasing some sarding stolen traitorstone and hopefully the thief, leaving his wife in their shared grief in Umbridge alone with his family, desperate to breathe ... just to—

With a groan, Caius ran shaking fingers through his eloquently, ever-unkempt hair before he exited his room, exited the White Fox Inn, and carefully made his way through the familiar and too-warm passageways of Viden proper to make his way to the Halls of Ivy in order to meet with the officials there, the Directorate would be waiting for himself and his paperwork, hopefully to grant him more official permission to continue his unorthodox Arcane research in the Prime Atheneum's hallowed shelves as well as to pursue theorized thief and murderer who'd stolen a traitor stone and escaped to the region for reasons only the Seven probably knew for sure. Wary that Viden had also accepted so many of Rynmere University's Arcane, spark-carrying staff as refugees (and most likely a handful of other magic users from the Kingdom who had access to the Portal before it was shut down or the finances to afford the trip by boat), Caius wasn't necessarily here to hunt runaways or murder Rynmere traitorous strays in the streets. Only if it became necessary, not that he was even sure he was capable.

If a few of them had proven themselves a problem to the frozen north's overly civilized society, however, well, the Lord Arbiter was more than happy to oblige them his skills.

The Halls of Ivy was a smaller than expected building, exquisitely carved with historical imagery of particular import to the Videnese. Able to hide the tiredness that haunted him, the exhaustion that tarnished his aquiline features, once again because of that damned Syroa and her gifts, Caius strode through the doors with all the mustered up confidence and etiquette expected—well, demanded—of his station as both a lord and Lord Arbiter of the Order of the Mantis. He made his way to the receptionists desk in the center of the beautiful foyer, fingers nervously toying with a few of the polished buttons of his violet brocade vest underneath his Ashcloak out of a listless, nervous exhaustion that followed him like the shadow of his Kasyni's hungry anak.

Offering a polite smile to the receptionist, he produced the stack of official paperwork he'd been sent overseas with,

"Good trial. I'm Lord Arbiter Caius Gawyne from the Kingdom of Rynmere and I do believe I've been expected? I'm not sure who I should be meeting with now that I've arrived—"

Nevermind that he should have come here first—on the 2nd of Ymiden instead of the 4th—instead of spending a trial recovering from his sail mostly over his notes and something to drink at the Devil's Advocate or chasing his suspect (for fuck's sake! right there in the Prime Atheneum!) through the library the day after that, let alone how much coin he'd just deviously placed into the Videnese economy with a witty, almost too pleasant Eídisi prostitute the night before,

"— but I'm guessing you'll be able to tell me? I'd be much obliged for your assistance. Thank you."
Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt.

- LUCIO in MEASURE FOR MEASURE
Last edited by Caius Gawyne on Fri Jun 22, 2018 3:11 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Fri Jun 15, 2018 9:39 pm

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The young woman sitting at the desk looked up, startled at the stack of paperwork dumped on the desk in front of her. She stared at the man for a moment, then back to the paperwork. She glanced down at her own calendar, in which was kept all appointments, events and meetings members of the Directorate were scheduled to attend. After a canning the current page of parchment, she flipped forward a page, and then another. Then, she flipped back a few sheets and ran her fingers along the multiple scribbles.

With a satisfied nod, she placed the calendar back on her desk on the correct day and looked up, smile plastered into place. “Lord Arbiter, welcome to Viden. We received a missive towards the end of the last Cycle to expect you on the first or second trials of this season.” The girl stood and rounded the desk, picking up the dumped paperwork as she did so. “I hope the waters of the Hollow Sea were not too unforgiving. I shouldn’t like to spend longer than is necessary out on those waters, even with the Scalvorian pirates gone.

Though her smile was kind, her tone was dry. The receptionist walked the visiting Lord over to a set of chairs at the side of the lobby, “Please wait here, I will let a Delegate know you have arrived and you will be sent for.” She disappeared off, paperwork in hand, down a corridor. But she did not immediately go to a Delegate, or even to a Delegate’s assistant. First, she took time to relieve herself, then to grab a hot drink - the risks of cold illness were very real in Viden, and it was a responsibility of all employees of the Directorate to set a good example, after all. While making her drinks, she stumbled across an old colleague working on a different floor and it was simply the perfect time to ensure they were up to date with the political goings on... what was the deal with that murderer, anyway?

Finally, the news made its way to the appropriate person, though by the time it did, none of the Delegates were available. It was another quarter of a break before Lady Caeli Fahe sent someone out to collect their visitor from Rynmere. “Lord Arbiter. Thank you for meeting with me. I trust you have not been waiting long.” It wasn’t a question; the Delegate had not yet even looked up as she continued to file away minutes from an earlier meeting.

Caeli was a young woman, by eídisi standards. A mere 49 arcs, she was the youngest Delegate Viden had ever known. Daughter and granddaughter two of the most influential men in the city, she was an heiress to the largest fortune north of the border and, as the only other woman in the Directorate, she was in line to be the next Máthisi, ruler of Viden. She was by no means a heartless woman, in fact many would describe her as joyful, or too innocent and kind to be taking on the mantle of leader. But her time was valuable. If her scorn of the visiting Lord Arbiter caused offence, she was not one to care.

When Caeli eventually did look up, leaning back as she did so, she gestured to the seat in front of her desk, inviting the man to sit. “I must confess, Lord Gawyne, this business in Rynmere of hunting down and persecuting arcanists baffles me. Why, only last arc weren’t they well respected members of your society? Since the King’s decree, a number of magi flee the Kingdom, many of whom have fled to us for refuge. In that time, we have seen a number of bounty hunters enter the city, but none so official as you. Tell me, why now?

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Sat Jun 16, 2018 4:21 am

4th of Ymiden, 718

EARLY MORNING | THE HALLS of IVY
T
he receptionist held him captive for a moment with a glance, Caius in his tiredness leaning a hand on the desk and waiting for the woman to look over his paperwork and her calendar and take her sarding sweet time. He offered wary smile at her well-practiced one,

"I arrived on the second, to be honest." That was, perhaps, the most sincere the Lord Arbiter had been in trials, "But I'm not much for seafaring and required the, uh, momentary recovery. Hopefully, there's no harm done now that I've, well, rested."

He offered a chagrined expression, leaving the mystery of his sea sickness to the woman's own wild imaginations—if she possessed any, of course—and followed her to the sitting area, adding a quiet, "Thank you." as she dismissed herself and disappeared down a corridor.

For a few bits, Caius stood, left alone to his own devices, if only because he'd begun to feel the heaviness of exhaustion creep under his skin. Fiddling with the buttons of his House violet brocade vest or fussing with his Ashcloak, the northern noble paced for a few bits longer until finally, squinting down the hall and curling permanently ink-stained fingers into his eloquently disheveled hair, he sat. And sat. Had he dozed a little, waiting? Yes. Did he startle himself, waking with a hiss or a sigh when out of the darkness of his resting mind crawled a shambling bear, rotten and disgusting, clawing for his chest? Or when from the stillness voices whispered far too close to his ear about what a monster he was, begging him sweetly to come back for more in almost the same breath? Yes. Yes to both.

It was with a far-too loud gasp that he sat up at the sound of footsteps in the corridor, startling awake after only a bit or two of sleeping, digging the heels of his palms into his eyes for a rub before he blinked at the young steward sent to fetch him. Standing without hesitation, he followed, smiling at the Eídisi woman who greeted him with few words. She was far younger than he expected, though he guessed by his previous experiences and friendships with Yvithia's blue-skinned people that she was still older than himself by at least a decade. He'd caught her name on the door on the way in, and while she made no effort to introduce herself to him, he couldn't help but smirk at her way of opening their meeting.

He was wary to sit again, but did so anyway, all but pouring his lanky, well-dressed self into the indicated chair like so much liquid etiquette. Her words made the Lord Arbiter's jaw clench for a moment, the charred cavity of his chest tightening around his lungs until he worried he couldn't take another breath, the molten lead in his veins suddenly feeling as though it would sear through his very flesh and consume him from the inside out,

"First of all, allow me to apologize, my Lady Fahe, but I'm no bounty hunter for the Order of the Mantis, nor does any of the organization operate as such. I'm neither here to hunt down refugees for coin, nor do I wish to, whether they are mages or not. As you can see from the letter there in the hand of the Lord Inquisitor and signed by his Majesty King Cassander himself, I am here in Viden after a stolen artifact of rarity and importance to our cause as well as here to hopefully bring the thief back to Rynmere for justice."

For a moment, Caius hesitated to say more, hesitated to wade into the discussion on the morality of the arcane that the young Delegate seemed eager to engage him in. He knew this conundrum well, for it haunted him both waking and sleeping. If the issue of the spark was an amoral one, if those who were executed for practicing magic were killed not because of how they chose to live their lives—good or bad for society at large—but because of how they chose to taint their very souls with one Spark or more. However, he understood the hint of discomfort in her words, the painful straining to understand, and so the young Gawyne seemed to relax in his seat, crossing one leg over his knee to rest his hands upon it,

"Second, it's not persecution. It's protection. It's a matter of national security and safety for all innocent, non-magical people. Before last arc, every practitioner of the arcane was still required to register their existence and carry a permit to practice their magical arts. While professors and educators were among the arcanists we theorize to be operating within Rynmere, most of them were registered as far as we knew. However, our King Cassander came to the opinion that it was not the magic user who was the issue but the spark itself, the thing that twists and taints the soul of those who choose to allow themselves to become its host and pretend to benefit from the magical abilities it grants the body it consumes ether through."

Always an academic, Caius carefully explained his judiciary justification, his well-studied opinion. But, honestly, mistakes and experiences were often the better teacher, and so he leaned forward in his seat and rest his bony elbows on his knees, folding his permanently ink-stained fingers together as his irises shifted from a pale, piercing blue to a darker almost stormy grey, "After the king's decree, when the public executions first began with a University professor by the name of Terrance Thomas, mages who called himself his allies showed their true faces in a massacre to rescue one of their own from the pyre. Over 54 innocent citizens and soldiers were slain by the mages—Seekers, mind you—and their own devices. Exploding wells and undead minions dumped into the crowd by a Rupturer. There was also a fire Defier and one of the mages who aided in the destruction was a Sessfiend."

The Lord Arbiter squirmed for a moment, a burning itch between his shoulder blades where Syroa's mark was etched into his skin had been since that last day of Vhalar, her burning ember gaze and the heated brush of her lips whispering through his memories for a trill. He’d been there in the courtyard and witnessed it all, unexpectedly complicit in Thomas’ execution but also almost mauled and killed by an undead bear that had been deposited into the square where bystanders and soldiers alike were wounded, bled and died. As if that hadn’t been enough, he cleaned the courtyard alongside servants of the crown. He still remembered their faces and names, and their bloodied corpses haunted his every moment asleep. Mercifully, the insomniac lord hardly slept. These memories dredged a hot horror from the ashen depths of his mind and yet he kept his sharp blue gaze on the face of the woman before him, voice wavering only for a trill or two with emotion,

Blinking, Caius sighed, "I'm not here to undermine authority in Yvithia's own domain. I'd rather operate under your laws while upholding my homeland's, and if there's someway to make those two things agreeable, then that's precisely the hope of my King. I'm here to capture a thief but also to study, if you'd be so kind as to allow me academic access while I'm here, that is. I do not believe, unlike many, that death is the only option for negating magic. I would like to research alternatives such as a non-divine way to remove a spark. Or other ensorcelled or alchemical means of subduing or severing a mortal's connection to its spark."

The young Gawyne thought it expedient to point out the differences between who he was and who it seemed that Lady Fahe was assuming himself to be. He was no ruthless murderer, desperate to find other ways of preserving life while severing the soul from contact with the disgusting spark, "Why now? Because their danger is not growing less, because the sharing of the spark is becoming more acceptable, because people are forgetting the dangers of magic, even here under the careful watch of your patroness Immortal."

He opened his hands, palms upwards, the printmaking ink that had almost permanently stained his fingers faded but not entirely hidden from view. Stifling a yawn as his body objected to him sitting for so long already, heavy and tired, sluggish, his head spinning though he hid it well, Caius added with a well-practiced and quiet deference of respect,

"I haven't been sent here to execute Rynmere mages in your icy streets, I assure you, but at the same time, if one proves themselves to be particularly troublesome, I would be more than willing to offer my assistance as Lord Arbiter for the Order of the Mantis in whatever capacity would make the Directorate comfortable. Please let me know your expectations for me while I'm here as a representative of both Rynmere's youthful Crown and the Order."
Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt.

- LUCIO in MEASURE FOR MEASURE
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Mon Jun 25, 2018 1:57 pm

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The Rynish lordling was apologetic and humble, at least, and that caused the Delegate to soften slightly, though she did not show it outwardly to her guest. She had learnt long ago that it was no easy feet to bend your pride to another, especially for those from the aristocratic castes of society, who had been raised under the starch belief that they were better than everyone else.

So you are here to hunt both artifact and person?” Caeli asked succinctly. He used a lot of words to say very little, it seemed. It was a conversational technique not often found in Viden, as all here avoided phatic communication and preamble unless strictly required by etiquette and context. The same concept applied to the content of a conversation - time was not limitless, and the time of a Delegate was even more restricted. She would not be overtly short with the man; he was of noble blood and Viden relied greatly on a positive relationship with Rynmere for the luxuries they could import.

But the Gawyne Lord continued, providing an explanation Caeli did not particularly want to hear about. Though she supposed she had asked it with the open-ended question. More fool her for forgetting this man was not accustomed to Videnese rhetoric. She listened patiently, hands folded over each other on the desk in front of her, as she was provided with the recent history plaguing Rynmere’s society. Some of it she knew, but it was, at least, valuable to hear it from someone who had lived it, someone who was invested in it.

You seem to agree with King Cassander’s decree, Lord Gawyne.” It was a statement, not a question. Magi were still welcome in Viden, though were also heavily restricted, with some practices prohibited, and others closely monitored. “I will hold you to your honour that you will not disrupt the way of things in Viden. We have many Magi, some born here, others having travelled from all over Idalos. Some are refugees, who have been provided sanctuary here.” She glanced down at the seal of the King on the missive in front of her. “They are not to be harmed.

Much like your homeland, Viden maintains close control of arcane activities within the city proper, and outlying districts. All magi must be sanctioned by the Directorate. They are provided with a seal - one which they do not have to display publicly - proving their accredited status in the city. They are, often, employed to protect the city, as Grafters in the Infirmary, Teinite Reavers, Researchers and Lecturers in the Academy. You would do well to remember this. In my time in office, I have not yet seen a mage with our seal found dead. It would be a pity to find yourself one as of very few suspects.

Though he claimed he was not here to hunt, anyone with official, licensed travel of Viden from Rynmere was treated with suspicion these trials. Relations were growing tense, anyone with two braincells to rub together could see that. But her message was clear, and Caeli gave Caius the benefit of assuming his intelligence and moved on. “Consider the Atheneum at your disposal. Books from the third level of the Atheneum are not to be removed, but I will grant you access. Do you intend to study in an official capacity, or on your own time?

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Tue Jun 26, 2018 3:18 am

4th of Ymiden, 718

EARLY MORNING | THE HALLS of IVY
V
iden was a frigid place, and much like his homeland, the temperatures necessitated a directness in conversation that Caius had fallen out of practice with. The dialect of Gawyne was faster, shorter, more abbreviated than the rest of Rynmere's common, and most natives to his northern Duchy didn't waste words because the winters were long. The realm of Yvithia was somewhat of a paradox in that her people pursued knowledge hungrily and yet kept their need to speak of it as succinct as possible. The young Gawyne was far too used to academia at its wordiest, and while he'd studied once in Viden, he'd lived a strange life since then.

"Yes. The artifact is of particular use to my Order and was stolen from one of our members, who we are assuming the thief also murdered for both the artifact and their journal of information." Caius admitted the nature of his visit but didn't go into details about the nature of the traitorstone nor the role of the murdered Detective within his organization.

Caeli's remark on where he stood with his King's decree elicited an impolite chuckle from him, a noise he attempted to cut short in his chest but failed, almost a guffaw. Rolling his narrow shoulders in a too casual, too dismissive shrug, Caius spoke quietly,

"In some ways, yes, I suppose I do. In other ways, no, I definitely do not. I refuse to hate something I don't yet fully understand, but I have seen first-hand the death and destruction when such power is left to its own devices." The crux of his struggle lay somewhere in between the words he spoke, and his irises shifted colors with the mix of emotions that wrestled for dominance under his well-practiced, calm demeanor. He sighed at her warning, nodding,

"Outside of my position as Lord Arbiter, you have my personal word that I will do everything in my power to operate in obedience to the Directorate's laws while here in Viden." The young Gawyne listened to the Delegate describe how regulated mages were in Viden and he understood that, for less than an arc ago in Rynmere, mages had also been required to license themselves. It seemed as though the frozen north gave those who practiced the arcane more to do with themselves that was actually useful to society, however. That was the kind of structure that his Kingdom lacked, and it seemed as though those who possessed a spark and were left to their own devices often turned to trouble and destruction as far as he could tell.

"The mages who killed all of those innocent people in my Kingdom, Delegate? They were all professors. Educators. Researchers. Mentors. I will pray that Ziell himself spares you the chaos of what even the most trusted of mortals are capable of when under the influence of a spark left to its own devices. May I ask how long you've been in office, Lady Fahe?" Caius' words were hollow, bitter, and hinted at a terror he could no longer articulate well. That trial haunted him in his sleep any moment he tried to rest, hounded him from the minute he attempted to slip into what little rest his already sleepless self longed for. The portal. The undead creatures. The fire. The Sessfiend. The blank faces. Their names.

He shuddered, staring down at his hands for a moment and curling fingers into his palms, eternally complacent in their spilled blood that day.

Caeli had no sarding idea, and her curt dismissal of him as a threat to her status quo was just as ignorant to him as the fear of the commonfolk. He was cursed to never be on the right side of things, it seemed. Hated for justice in Rynmere and distrusted for persecution outside his Kingdom. He sighed, almost defeatedly, and shifted in his seat to rest his elbows on his knees and tangle his fingers together in the space between them,

"I appreciate the access to the Atheneum, thank you. Do I intend to audit any classes? I'm not sure. I should probably not mix too much pleasure with business—" His joke wasn't even funny, and somewhere inside, his guts twisted with guilt and shame, aware of where he'd spent the night before, aware of all his promises he'd broken just to meet his selfish needs, "—no matter how much I enjoyed my time here as a student just over an arc ago. Would it be imposing if I sought out professors for interviews or questioning when I find myself in need of examples textbooks cannot give me? In the pursuit of this thief, what authority would I have to question potential witnesses or to make an arrest in the street should I find them?"

The Lord Arbiter knew he would have to rub elbows with mages here, including the faculty and staff of the Academy, let alone strangers who walked with freedom and without concern the frozen streets of Viden. He may as well make the best of it, he told himself, no matter how much the thought set his teeth on edge and his heart racing in the charred cavity of his chest.

"Although, if I did enroll as a student, at least I'd have a dormitory instead of the White Fox Inn. I'm unsure of the length of my stay, depending on how elusive this thief turns out to be and the research I'd like to conduct here where books on the arcane aren't illegal, so if you have recommendations of temporary housing, I would be grateful for your consideration, Delegate."
Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win,
By fearing to attempt.

- LUCIO in MEASURE FOR MEASURE
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