[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

Basilisk

42nd of Ymiden 716

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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Rafael Warrick
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[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

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42nd Ymiden 716
The night draped its deep blue blanket over the city and brought a cool wind with it. Above, the sky glittered, not as clearly as in the Warrick mainland, but dazzling still. Rafael leaned out the small window of his room and let the fresh air cleanse his lungs.

His accommodations in the barracks were modest, but sufficient. His biggest concern, having to share a room with strangers, had proven unnecessary as all squires were allotted a room of their own, including a bed, a tiny desk, a chair and a closet to keep one’s belongings in. It did well enough for a bedroom, but for all other purposes, Rafael preferred to stay out of it. Too cramped.

When he was training, he had no time to think of home. But at the end of each day, after he’d completed his many chores, when his limbs were tired and his collection of bruises had doubled, his mind inevitably returned to home. Although…it couldn’t really be called home. Not the four walls within which he’d been raised. It was the home of his father, his mother, his brother and his sisters, but it wasn’t his home. It never would be. The more he thought of it, the heavier his heart grew, until he could no longer bear it and kicked his blankets aside.

Sometimes it took half a break before drowsiness and sleep finally forced him asleep. Sometimes less. But not tonight. Try though he might, he couldn’t shake the feeling gnawing at his heart. Where was his home, really? It was not in this city. It was not with his siblings. It was elsewhere, he was sure of it, and he was sure of his longing to find that place.

The street below was deserted. Save for a black cat stalking through the darkness, searching for small prey. With a sigh, he glanced downward. Perhaps a lone walk through the quiet of the night would calm his mind. Only, the barracks was locked of course. To prevent unsavory figures from coming in and dauntless squires from sneaking out.

Yet…it wasn’t too far down. The room below his had its window half open and there was a ledge below that which he could rest his other foot on. It was probably going to be harder to climb back up and into his own room than it was to get out.

That would be a problem for later. He’d already made up his mind and swung a leg over the edge of his window. Taking care not to make any noise he pulled his other foot over the edge as well until he was hanging from the window by his hands. While his arms strained, his feet searched for support. With his left he found the opened window below, but his right scraped uselessly against the wall, finding nothing to shift his weight to. His own weight, though not considerable, was starting to claim its toll. Cold sweat made his hands start to slip. There wasn’t much else for it…

He drew both his knees up as closely to his chest as he could and turned his head away from the window and into the street. It looked quite a way down, but he knew that his eyes were deceiving him. With all his might he kicked his feet away from the wall and turned his back on the barracks wall. His knees buckled and his kneecaps creaked in their joints. The sound of the impact echoed across the empty streets like a tolling bell. The black cat darted away without looking back. It was a harder landing than he had anticipated, but he was still in one piece.

None too eager to find out if anyone had noticed his temporary escape, he quickly dashed into the cover of darkness and only slowed until he’d made it into a small courtyard. Without any clear destination, he plopped down on a nearby bench to catch his breath and rubbed his painful knees. He didn't recognize this part of town.
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[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

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The skies above Andaris were cloudy, but the black shapes that few the skies alerted all who were aware to keep their children close or risk their loss. The Scarecrow was hunting and no parent slept easy that night.

Yet Labrae, for all that she had filled the skies with her minions, made no move to act yet. She had come to Andaris in particular for a very specific reason. She need an opening into the noble families and she was hoping to find some kind of lead to that. But so far she wasn't finding anything. Then one of her crows spotted a boy sitting alone on a bench. Just barely still young enough, but what was he doing out here alone. Standing up, the Scarecrow flipped the coin she always carried. When the relic of Syroa landed, she took on the form of a large crow and winged her way to the boy, landing out of site and dropping the coin to return to human form.

Bending down, Labrae picked up the coin and slipped it into a pocket of her coat before she stepped out of her landing spot and started walking towards the boy. "Hello. Lovely night out, isn't it?" she asked, waving at the boy with a smile on her face. He looked like a child of good breeding, but she wondered what he was like. "Mind if I join you?" Labrae gestured to the bench, her tone still pleasant, though she continued her cover examination of him.
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Rafael Warrick
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[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

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42nd Ymiden 716
Rafael was lost in deep thought when Labrae appeared. He’d noticed a shift in the air, but dismissed it as a breeze sweeping across the courtyard. A single oak stood in the center of the small court, its leaves rustled in warning. From the few careless looks Rafael had given the place, he would guess the site to be some kind of memorial place. A sign was planted amid a flowerbed surrounding the trees. But judging by the overgrowth, the place hadn't received any loving attention lately.

While Labrae approached, Rafael was occupied rubbing his aching knees and wondering how he was going to explain himself to Elyna if he failed to return to his room. After his rough landing, he wasn’t quite sure if he could make it back up the wall and into the barracks. He was decent at leaping, jumping, and climbing, but possibly not good enough to warrant a safe return. The alternative was to stay outside and wait for the barracks to open, but if he did that, they would surely know he’d snuck out.

A voice cut through the silence of the night. Rafael flinched and looked up. The first thing he noticed were the gleaming red eyes. This was no ordinary woman. She was tall and as pale as the moon, like a baleful light against an ink-black sky. His left hand subconsciously reached for where he usually kept his sword at his right side-

-only to find that he was unarmed and vulnerable.

A crow crowed in the distance and Rafael shivered involuntarily. Yet he kept still and didn’t answer the frightfully thin wench’s question. Neither did he object to her coming closer. His senses told him to walk away, but his better instincts told him it would be no use. And so he was stuck making no move at all. Not until she joined him.

“Who are you?” he said in a husky, quiet voice as he scooted over to the side of the bench, both wary and curious at the same time. “You’re no ordinary person…” he began answering his own question, his voice still cautious. “Ordinary people don’t go for midnight strolls…”
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[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

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Labrae just laughed quietly at the boy's comment on her nighttime stroll. "And yet you appear to have done just that, so it appears neither of us are normal people. But I suppose I am farther from normal than most. My name is Labrae, a Mortalborn." she said, nodding at the clearly anxious boy in greeting. There was little the Scarecrow could do about his nervousness, but she wasn't particularly inclined to make an attempt at alleviating it either. If she decided she wanted him as a son, there was naught he could do about it. And if she decided she didn't, then it wouldn't matter if he was nervous anyway.

Looking at him again, the Mortalborn cocked her head sideways. "And what of you? Who are to wander around so late and inquire of strangers their identity?" she asked, her tone polite but intent. His answer could have an effect on her decision, but she rather doubted it. Unless he was of noble birth, his name wouldn't change much, and she doubted a noble child would be wandering the night unattended. Or ever be unattended for that matter, something she had been much frustrated about.
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Rafael Warrick
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[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

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42nd Ymiden 716
Mortalborn. Rafael blinked. Had he heard her right? Few, very few people could call themselves Mortalborn. Fewer still would admit it. Yet he didn't doubt Labrae for even a moment. She looked the part and came accompanied by crows. And by her own admittance, she was abnormal. Whatever initial fright he'd experienced at her sudden appearance was replaced by ravenous curiosity. She had told him who she was, but not why she was here, or why she'd come over to him. So when Labrae seized him up with her eyes, he did much the same in return. In his estimation, she looked somewhat frail. From what little he'd ever learned about Mortalborns, he'd expected someone more intimidating. More monstrous. She looked odd, certainly, but quite human too.

"Well you came over to me," he said almost accusingly before crossing his arms over his chest. "I like to know who is sitting next to me. On a bench. In a courtyard. In the middle of the night..." his voice trailed off as he glanced around before returning his gaze to Labrae once more, a slight smirk tugged at the corner of his lips. He paused to scratch his leg, then looked back up, "I'm Rafael. Rafael Warrick. I squire at the barracks," he jutted his chin roughly in the direction he'd come from. "I couldn't sleep. I was thinking about home and...other things." He finished with a shrug. Yet in the privacy of his mind he was far more cautious. So far the woman had been polite, and his curiosity far outweighed any potential danger. But should she turn more hostile, he was already preparing himself to make a quick escape.

He narrowed his eyes at Labrae. "So what are you doing out here? I don't know much about your sort, but what I do know isn't very positive. Some would say your kind are monsters. Should I be worried?"
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[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

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Labrae blinked when the boy gave his name, then looked back up at the sky and smiled. "Warrick, is it? Good to know." she almost purred as she spoke, clearly pleased with this information. After all, she had been wanting a way to get one of her children into the noble families, and this seemed like the chance she had required. However, she chose not to act immediately, it might be easier to find out what she wanted through other means. "Other things? Does something trouble your mind, young Warrick?" she asked, curious.

His question about her business brought a laugh from the dark haired woman. "I am old, young Warrick. Older than your Kingdom. There is very little permanence to my life. I am frequently out at night, for the moon and the stars are eternal and unchanging. Their solidarity is a comfort." she said, before looking back at him again. "Are you worried, young Warrick? Were I some murderous fiend, would you not already be dead? I know better than you the rumors some spread about Mortalborn and Immortal both. Yet we are no more monstrous than Mortals. We are, each of us, individuals. What one of us does is unique to that being, the same as it is with Mortals." she said, her tone amused as she spoke.
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Rafael Warrick
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42nd Ymiden 716
“Oh. Nothing.” Rafael waved his hand dismissively as the mortalborn asked what other things were occupying his mind. Of course it was the contrary of nothing. His thoughts were littered with questions. Questions about were his live was headed, where the Kingdom was headed, and what his role was going to be in all of it. Few would guess it from his appearance, but he was torn on the inside between loyalty to his family, and loyalty to the Kingdom. He was a Warrick, yet he didn’t feel like one.

With a sigh, Rafael summarized his feelings to the mortalborn. “I guess…I don’t know where home is,” he said with a concerned frown. “I mean, I’m not lost. Not literally. But I feel that way regardless.” He shrugged. “I don’t suppose it makes much sense to you.”

While he didn’t feel exactly comfortable next to the red-eyed woman, he’d much recovered from his initial fright. The urge to flee had almost waned entirely by the time the woman had finished explaining herself.

She was right of course. If her intentions had been murderous, she would’ve struck long ago. Unless she was toying with him. It didn’t seem likely. If they weren’t complete strangers to each other, it could’ve been a regular friendly conversation. Yet for all her reasons to be out and about at this time, Rafael couldn’t help but wonder why she’d elected to strike up a conversation with him. And so, to test her intentions, he stood up from the bench and dusted himself off with his hands.

“Well, it was nice talking to you Labrae," he extended his hand out of habit," Since you don't plan on murdering me, I suppose that means I am free to go?”
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[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

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Labrae just raised her eyebrow when Raphael said nothing was bothering him, but didn't respond. As she expected, he shortly explained what was really the problem. "No I understand. I'm old, son. I knew your Sacred Seven when they slew the Jacadon upon which this city is built. I've seen a lot of things, you're not the first to have such problems." she said, leaning back against the bench. "You don't feel like you belong with your family, and are wondering where you truly belong, who you truly are." Labrae closed her eyes as she spoke, it was a tale she had heard thousands of times in her long life.

When Raphael stood up and extended her hand, Labrae reached out and shook it, drawing on her mother's Blessing of Lethroda as she spoke. "Go? Yes, you could leave...or you could stay, and let me help you with the problem you're having. You've given me something I need very much and I would repay you if I can." she said, Silken Tongue and The Art of Persuasion working in tandem to make her words more appealing, while Temptations gave him an image of himself as a great hero, loved by all while feeding her parts of his memories. "Come, Raphael, I have much I could teach you if wish to learn."
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Rafael Warrick
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[Andaris] Escape and Ensnarement

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42nd Ymiden 716
Rafael blinked sheepishly. It almost hurt to be told that thoughts draining his mind were as common as the stars. But he had no reason to question her. From the moment he'd first seen her, he'd known she was something else. Her claim of old age wasn't entirely unsurprising then. "You don't look old though," he mumbled innocently.

Without any effort at all, Labrae had pinpointed the problems that had been swirling in his head. Somehow, she'd found the right words within just moments of talking to him. His shoulders drooped as he exhaled a deep sigh. "I guess that about summarizes it..."

Her hand was surprisingly comfortable within his own. Not a firm shake. Not a loose one. Just right. Finally someone who understood how he felt. Someone who wanted to help him. It would be foolish to go away now. She could be a good friend to him, and a powerful one at that. He blinked again, entranced by Labrae's honeyed words. "I suppose I could stay a little while longer," he replied with a faint smile. He could see himself seated in a great hall, decorated with the finest tapestry. A heavy crown rested on his head. The Kingdom he ruled flourished. His subjects were happy but he...

He frowned. The castle vanished and was replaced by a vision of a stone house of simple construction. Within the door opening stood a woman in her fourties with long, waving hair. The door behind her was slightly ajar. A warm, homely light flickered behind her silhouette. At her side stood a sister and a brother. Mother! He cried out in his thought. But the vision waned.

So touched by the sense of homeliness Labrae had bestowed on him, Rafael entirely neglected to let go of her hands as he sat down again. This time closer to her. Like friends.

It was like that time with Arthur. The memory flashed through his mind in vivid detail. He'd been seated close to the farmer's son on a tree stump overlooking the acres of fertile land in Warrick. A golden sun had blazed across the grain that day and he'd never felt better. It had been at least five arcs ago, but he'd never had a better friend. Though his father had strictly forbidden it, he'd confided his greatest secret* to Arthur. A sense of guilt and anger washed over him. Arthur had succumbed to a vicious illness not much later. He couldn't help but wonder if somehow his father had found out what he'd told his childhood friend. It seemed unlikely, yet he couldn't shake the feeling that Arthur's death had been no accident.

He turned his head towards Labrae. The usual calm of his grey eyes had been stirred. "I want to learn," he whispered. "But can you teach me where home is?"
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* = OOC: I suggest that Labrae would sense that Rafael carries a great secret with him (namely, the truth about his heritage) but doesn't fully know what it is.

Of course, you're free to change that if you feel she'd sense more/less!
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Labrae smiled to herself as Raphael sat back down, a part of his memory that she siphoned suggesting many possibilities to her. It seemed he was adopted, and that he was supposed to keep it a secret. Interesting. But she decided not to act on it yet. "Well, I can't teach you where home is, that's something you have to find yourself. But I can teach you how to find it, and if that fails, I can teach you how to make it." she said, her voice calm and reassuring.

After a moments silence, Labrae smiled at Raphael again. "But don't worry, Rafael. I'll make sure you find the home you're looking for." she said, her tone confident. Granted, she planned to make very sure that the home Rafael found was with the Webspinners, in service to Labrae's own mother. Sintra would be pleased she had found a way to access the noble families at last, and she'd be lying if she didn't genuinely want to help this lost child. Granted, she first had to find out how exactly to go about that. She was good, but not quite good enough to come with plans on the fly like this.

(OOC: I had no idea how to finish post. >_>)
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