• Closed • A Spiders Web [Vera]

Labrae visits Vera and the Weaver begins her task.

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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A Spiders Web [Vera]

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Night had fallen and all Vera's patients had left, only the Webspinner remaining to close things up. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary and the night was as calm and peaceful as nights in Andaris ever got. All was as it should be, at least until Vera returned to her office the last time before she left. There she would find a trio of crows awaiting her, one perched on her desk, the other on the arm of Vera's chair, the final one one perched on the back of the couch where Vera's patients usually lay while meeting with Vera.

The couch itself was also occupied, the long, lanky figure of the Mother of the Webspinners taking up the space usually reserved for the mentally troubled. After a moment, Labrae looked over at Vera and gave a warm smile. "Hello, Vera. I was glad to hear you passed your final test. My mother was quite proud of you, as was S'ketta, though I doubted she showed it much. She was a very uptight girl when she was little." the Scarecrow said, laughing slightly at the memory. "But, now that you're a Weaver, it's high time you had an assignment, don't you think?" Labrae said, giving Vera a wry half-grin.

"But before that...how are you? I heard you made contact with the Seekers, and this job of yours seems quite...interesting. Has anything struck your mind yet, daughter?" she asked, her tone curious but casual. In truth, while most of Idalos feared Labrae, the Mortalborn cared a great deal for her children, and she was legitimately curious about Vera's welfare.
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A Spiders Web [Vera]

The cold halls of stone that made up the infirmary were like a second home to Vera, who had grown accustomed to the darkness as she felt her way around from dark spot to light spot, snuffing out candles to preserve the wax for operation during the day. There were only in-patients left, and there were very few of those due to some stroke of luck, and verily she had the place to herself practically, her own little madhouse. The other doctors, and even the nurses had since left to some kind of party save for one which Vera suspected was on the other side of the building tending to these in-patients. Vera was delighted at the invitation, but she knew full well that her paperwork had been piling up, calling to her with the many long hours of their resolution as a sort of cruel and twisted bait.

What was this feeling of elation as she pinched out the candlelight outside the door to her office, changing the paradigm of her senses? Happiness could truly be found in change, but as could tragedy. The two were intertwined in this inscrutable fact, and the cause and effect perplexed her. Her mind was always swarming with thoughts and ideas, even more so when she was alone with it as her dark passenger. To her, she thought, the mind was a strange thing, a puzzle box of mysteries teeming with threads waiting to be pulled, that when tugged firmly unravel to show a piece of the puzzle, only to present another puzzle to solve to which that piece does not fit.

Twisting the knob to her office - it was unlocked, save for when dangerous patients were seeing her that shan’t be allowed to escape - the light of her domain spilled into the dark hall, yet more candles defiantly proud … these ones would be spared, she had work to pour over. Her desk stood to the far side of the wall, facing the door with the chair behind it. She walked toward it and shut the door behind her to garner some privacy, but when her gaze focused on her destination, the twitch of a crow looking at her with its beady eye caused the budding psychologist to freeze. From there, her breath ceased and she stood as a doe in the gaze of a hunter. In her peripheral, her gaze traced a path from one crow to the next, mind waving flags of both danger and mystery. Finally, her gaze trailed up the feet of someone she had not seen in quite some time, and she knew the person uncannily well.

Vera’s simple skirt was bland and emotionless, but still she curled her fingers about the edges of the fabric and curtsied awkwardly in admiration as she thought many girls did to respectable figures. Hopefully, she planned, Labrae would appreciate the gesture and the two would find common ground. Vera was a simple farm girl in comparison … Labrae was, and always will be, the web mother, her mother. She knew that she was but an unenlightened pup before they had crossed paths many years ago, and she was not about to be ignorant of such a fact.

Seeing Labrae’s warm smile, Vera relaxed. She saw that Labrae was sitting upon the patient’s couch, surrounded by her peculiar birds. She had not seen them before, were they strays let in by an open window, or were they Labrae’s pets, her eyes and ears? Vera knew her place, and that she shouldn’t pry despite having the deep-seated curiosity of a spider inspecting prey on a vibrating web.

Vera blinked in surprise when Labrae offered an introductory greeting. Labrae’s mother, Sintra, was proud of Vera, and what she had accomplished? This was truly encouraging, and it meant a lot to her as she had been working hard to impress the two of them. She had sought to excel in as many avenues as possible, and it was all to further her value to the Webspinners. And so, in this moment honoring her achievements, it was finally time to put them to a test with a task. Vera smiled brightly, cocking her head to one side.

“Whatever you may wish, it shall be done with utmost discretion.” Her words had a cowed, sickly planned sound to them that hinted at a repressed morbidity, but all the same they were often spoken slowly with every word chosen carefully. It conveyed that she was cautious, perhaps even some would view her as timid. She realized at this point that she was getting a bit stricken by Labrae, so she resolved to be more guarded. Still, when the Mortalborn did some prying of her own and offered a reprieve to the intense curiosity she felt, she couldn’t help but indulge.

“I’m faring well, busy and learning as much I can … The Seekers, yes. I have since become an Illusionist, I have a conduit, and. It’s been … enlightening. There are so many things I wish to know, my mind is always telling me to ask questions, but it’s difficult to bar them away. We could be here all night with what I might ask of you about Sintra, the Gods, magic … I will spare you that. However, I do wish to know, as companionship breeds achievement ... are there any other Webspinners in Andaris aside from myself? I may soon begin to study the noble courts, and those wise to such a place would help me to avoid scrutiny with their advice.”
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A Spiders Web [Vera]

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Labrae smiled as Vera curtsied and nodded her head in return before they spoke. The girls apprenticeship in magic was going well and Labrae was certainly pleased to hear it. Arcana was a useful tool, all the more so because one was never entirely sure what an arcanist knew, or even who they were. At the girls question though, Labrae thought for a moment before inclining her head. "There are several, but most are deep cover, much the same as you yourself are, when they aren't even deeper. There are none I can reveal at this time, due to how sensitive their positions are, but in time I'm sure some will be more established. There are none yet among the noble families, since hereditary lines are hard to get into." she said, grimacing slightly. Not that they hadn't tried, but it was, thus far, a task she had failed to perform. One of a very few, at that.

Looking back over at her daughter, Labrae considered for a moment before she spoke again. "Rynmere as a whole is a very sturdy land and not willing to admit my mothers superiority, instead preferring their human ancestors. While they Seven were indeed a mighty group, they were still Mortal." she said before shaking her head and sitting up. "And that's exactly the problem you're to help us address. I wish no ill to the people of Rynmere, but a stable land rarely changes its beliefs. But fortunately, there may be a solution we can all be happy with." she said before giving a sly smile and leaning forward. "How familiar are you to the peoples feeling regarding their Queen?"
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A Spiders Web [Vera]

As Labrae spoke, Vera sat in the chair oppisite the couch with her legs folded, one over the other. At first, she glanced at the birds about the room, but she put them to the back of her mind and listened as best she could. Labrae’s words were coated with delicious venom as Vera listened, reflexively lowering her tongue and brushing the flesh surrounding the mark she bore underneath it. Going forward, there would be support. They were compartmentalized, as they should be, but that seemed for the best - she thought a world of deception worked best when the pawns were missing pieces of information. For now Labrae pulled most of the threads behind the scenes, working as both mastermind and informant. When the web mother began to go into detail about the courts Vera’s mind sparked with even more ideas, but she wondered how many steps ahead her Mother was. “I can imagine, if only there were a child of noble blood, even on the low end of the hierarchy ... we could show them the way and then bolster their position through various means.” Vera could tell there was a grand game at work here, and she wanted to play her part as well as she could.

After a few moments, Labrae began to speak of more pressing matters. The witch could tell Labrae was beginning to set up the narrative for what would be asked of her, the major problems she could work at in her spare time - the public opinion. Perhaps a combination of her magic, strategic planning, and future medical reputation could play a role if she was careful and studious. Labrae’s reference to the stability of Rynmere being a key factor was another sign to Vera that Labrae knew her craft well. Solution? The queen? Vera blanked out for a moment, realizing that she knew very little of this person. Regaining herself, she connected the dots between Labrae’s web. Of course!

“I know very little of her, but if I must guess, anti-Queen sentiment must be boiling for you to bring it up, or at the tipping point for something major. If so, I can see the pattern, pull those threads and the kingdom will devour itself.” Vera uncrossed her legs and leaned forward, throwing out a question that likely told of just how uninformed she was. “Is she lowborn?”
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Labrae smiled at Vera as she picked up the direction the conversation was headed. It was always so nice when her children were the clever sort. "Oh, yes indeed. Against both her and King Cassander. You see, neither of them are members of the seven families descended from the so-called Sacred Seven. And that doesn't sit at all well with people. They're getting a lot of blame for anything that goes wrong in Rynmere, from the high crime rate in Warrick to too many storms off the coast. There's even talk of a rebellion brewing in Burhan." she said, grinning widely as she spoke. Labrae may not wish Rynmere's populace any misfortune, but she enjoyed getting information and using it to achieve a goal.

"Freya, however, gets the worst of it. Cassander is just about the only person in the whole country that likes her. And so, she's the lever we'll use. Now then Vera, how familiar are you with a group called Faction VII?" she asked. Labrae herself knew just about everything she needed to know, including who the various leaders were, but what was important was what her daughter knew. They were the ones on ground level.
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A Spiders Web [Vera]

A sense of pride briefly filled Vera when Labrae revealed she had pieced apart the information correctly. There were things even she did not foresee, King Cassander is lowborn as well? She could not see a more perfect scenario as Labrae explained. It was as if it were ... too perfect. Labrae's words were meaty, well-minced. Stuffed with information which she mulled over in her mind, gazing intensely at Labrae to make sure she didn't miss a single word. The Sacred Seven, progenitors of Rynalism? The noble families? Disaster, rebellion ... the times are, in fact, ripe, but threads dangle from one place to the next haphazardly as if organized chaos.

The briefing ended abruptly with a short and simple question. "Faction VII? I've never heard of them, perhaps due to my solitude ... revolutionaries, a gang, an offshoot of rebellious nobles?" She had other concerns about the information she had been presented. "This whole mess is bound to be crawling with numerous other factions ... people crave power, if we can turn them all against each other, and be sufficiently weary of their retaliation ... we might be able to succeed replacing the queen and even the king with someone we want at a smaller personal cost. The loss of life, it would be unfathomable, but what remained would be ours to rebuild and the people of Rynmere would find love for the goddess. This group you mentioned, I suppose they could be instrumental in that."

A brief pause followed, her mind puzzling out further details.

"We need to find a way to dismantle the Rynalism faith, among other sects, but I know very little about them. Perhaps I will pay them a visit ... but I cannot be blind, if the other gods are as real as ours, it will be no easy task if they truly wish to prevent the destruction of their followers. As I have a gift from the goddess, so do some of them from their deities I assume. I cannot know all manner of dangers, in comparison, such that I may be revealed your daughter by some well-placed gift. A library and woven webs may instead may suffice, but I am often weary of this danger with the Seekers as well. I would not wish to underestimate anyone in this game I live, this grand extension I assume I am to play a part in, or overestimate them so that I do not strike or take the right course of action when the moment is ripe."

The many pauses in her speech, however subtle, glared back at her as a mountain of knowledge that she had not yet procured. She placed her hand in a cusp upon her forehead and shook her head briefly before looking back to Labrae.

"I have much to learn, in time."
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A Spiders Web [Vera]

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Labrae smiled as Vera went through the information she had been given, then offered her opinions. The Scarecrow waited until Vera had finished before speaking. "It is good you realize how much you have left to learn, Vera. That knowledge will help you learn all the faster. Now, the Sacred Seven are not gods or Immortals or any such. They were as Mortal as you are, my dear. Trust me, I met them once. Their followers have no gifts from them. But there are others in Rynmere with Immortal Blessings. It is good that you are cautious." she said, grinning slightly. "As for Faction VII, they are not revolutionaries or any other such thing. They are, in fact, bandits and brigands operating outside the Burning Mountains. As luck would have it, some of them are nobility. There is one in particular, an ex-Skyrider by the name of Pythera Venora, or Valkyr as they call her. She is friends with Madelyn Endor. Madelyn Endor is...not exactly close to Freya Rennault, but they get along well enough." she said, her smile growing broader as she spoke.

Labrae leaned back against the couch and cocked her head at Vera. "Now, I'm sure you can see where that could benefit us. However, for us to reap the benefit of an association between Freya Renault and Faction VII, we must first spread the rumor of its existence. You're are in a position that affords you access to a lot of people who trust you. We want you to use that to set the groundwork for this rumor." she said, smiling at her daughter.
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A Spiders Web [Vera]

When Labrae told Vera that the worshiped of Rynalism were not gods at all, she found that startling. But why would men not worship something of greater power than themselves? Are they simply that selfish, trying to elevate their own beings to a position beyond that of the gods? Vera glanced away, down at the floor. "Kings, queens, and the faith ... all constructs so men can manipulate each other in the most heinous of ways. Such a flawed system of weakness, the very lines of their own machinations are their greatest weakness." She returned her gaze to Labrae, listening to the explanation of Faction VII. She was surprised to hear that they were a group of bandits, and by the sound of it quite powerful ones at that. Ah, bandits. The sign of the imperfections of the land made manifest. Pythera Venora, Valkyr, Skyrider ... a powerful woman despised by all, friends with ... Madelyn Endor, associated with ... Freya, the queen.

The connections mixed together in Vera's mind as she listened to Labrae, who had seemed to catch on that Vera was the clever type. Always leading her on, but not quite being clear. She supposed Labrae cared for her development, or perhaps she was testing her ... both seemed feasible. "A spiders bite is but a fraction of the battle ... do we have our legs in place to latch on to key positions of the web once we entrap the kingdom? If this rumor takes on a life of its own, everyone else could play their hand to exploit it ... we could be left with a pair of rulers with a far more stable reign. We would still perhaps catch a glimpse at the true power of our contenders, to know our enemies as well as ourselves ... assuming that the goal here is to further aggrandize Freya's infamy through her relationship to a Faction VII sympathizer, or even paint things such a way that the people believe the queen controls Faction VII through Madelyn and Pythera."

Despite Labrae's vagueness, Vera still wanted to be sure she had her information in order, and that Labrae knew of her concerns. If Sintra had always been successful, without failure, would not the entire world be enshrouded in her web? Vera knew Labrae was not perfect, however vastly more skilled she may be than Vera. She knew better than most how different each mind was to another, and that she herself was not perfect.
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Labrae smiled at Vera's question and nodded. "There are several of your siblings in place to take advantage of any chaos that may arise. It is still possible that we'll fail in this particular attempt at controlling Rynmere. Such things have happened before, but even then we'll know more about our opposition and who we need to focus our efforts on, so it won't be a total loss. The key to success, young one, is knowing how to turn even your losses to your advantage." grinning slightly.

"Now, for the goal. We don't want to give the impression of the queen controlling Faction VII. That might bring the mountain bandits into the picture earlier than would be optimal, and against us. No, we want rather the opposite, in fact. We want to make it look like Faction VII is using Valkyr and Madelyne to control Freya, that Freya is their agent, controlling the Kingdom for them." she said, her smile growing cold. "The people will believe it easily and she'll take the blame for every foolish action by King Cassander. If some of the other issues brewing come to a head, it'll be only a matter of time before their howling for her head, possibly his as well, believing he's falling completely under Faction VII's influence and joined them."
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A Spiders Web [Vera]

Listening intently, Vera nodded as Labrae went over the details she had missed nor not quite gotten right. Questions formed in her mind, but she waited politely for her mother to finish speaking. The goal is to show that Faction VII controls Freya through their agent, Madelyne. During the chaos, we should have enough forces to take advantage of the situation, and victory is not something mother is demanding, only progress. I could do this, however ... I've never started a rumor before, and it would be advantageous for me to somehow succeed, however difficult. Maybe...

Vera straightened up to a more firm and elegant posture before speaking. "I understand now completely, Faction VII must be shown to be in possession of the strings by puppeteering Freya through Valkyr and Madylne ... I must confess that S'ketta did not teach me much about rumorcraft. I know some elements of the mind may be exploited in striking with a rumor, but I do not know the common targets for such rumors, and how to prevent myself from being traced as the source, or even the circumstances in which a rumor is most to be believed by someone unknown. I would assume the words of nobility and those within the upper echelon of wealth are more trusted by those with real power, and if I were to start the rumor within the lower class ... it would not be believed as truth by upper society as people belittle the opinions of those of differing status, as evidenced by my own craft when questioning those about how they feel toward those less fortunate. If it started with the upper class and trickled down to the lower, would the rumor be more effective? Perhaps some prostitutes dealing with those of wealth? Or, I could be overthinking this, and I might just need to get the rumor flowing to whomever I can..."
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