The Heist

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Darragh
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The Heist

19th of Ashan

It was finally getting warm enough for Darragh not to wear all her clothes at once.

Nevertheless, the travelling painter wished she had stronger armor to hide behind as she walked into the Academy. The white stone walls stretching to the left and right of the lawn left her feeling exposed, out of place. Shhck, shhhck, rustled her own steps on the cobblestone pavement. As she passed groups of students, she held a drawing block at her chest, and that was a good enough disguise for now. Still, the young woman in worn-out clothes knew that she wouldn’t have unlimited time. Her eyes scanned the campus, trying to track down her target as seriously as when trying to find food in a forest. For that’s what she was looking for, wasn’t it?

Food for thought.

She wasn’t a student. Her shoulders were tense in preparation of the moment when a guard would grab her by the collar. Could she climb over the wall? Her eyes narrowed. Too high, too smooth. Stealth is not about being seen, but about not being looked at. Be confident! She figured pretty soon that the building with strange, bubbling glass vials behind the windows and a skeleton hanging in a clothes rack wasn’t what she was looking for. The boat left to gather moss by the entrance was probably ‘Navigation’ (she wanted to draw it though). She skipped the one with swirly phrases in unknown languages in the foyer. Nearly got pulled in the mathematics (and other sciences) department by the way the cobblestones in front of the door had been carved into curious geometrical shapes, into different-colored minerals. Darragh knelt down for a bit, watching the enlarged figure of an ant crawl along the sides of a blue-glass cube. Eventually she found what she was looking for – Art. It was the haunting sound of a piano which drew her in, but it wasn’t the music classes that she was looking for.

The entrance hall split into butterfly stairs with carved banisters, corridors going left, right and center, feeling like a polished labyrinth to the girl whose boots had crossed much of Scalvoris.

“Excuse me, uhm…Could you help me, please? I’m looking for the Gallery…” Darragh asked the nearest person, with the biggest I’m-totally-supposed-to-be-here smile on her face.
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Perdita Westcott
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lass was not due to start for another two breaks, but Perdita was here early. In fairness, Perdita was always here early. It was her way of doing things, her way of being. She had come here before the class now because, when she'd been here in her last lecture, she'd seen a door knocker. It had been intricate and beautiful and it reflected shadows beautifully. As soon as she'd seen it, Perdita knew she had to draw it and so she'd come two breaks early.
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So, when the young woman approached her, Perdita had been furiously drawing the door knocker in as much detail as she could. The shadows were what intrigued her and Perdita was starting to develop an understanding of what she'd learned about previously. Negative Space, the idea of drawing space and using the space in a piece of art to emphasis that full parts was fascinating to her.

It was so fascinating that Perdita was not really paying attention. Other members of her class drew things like the sweeping staircases, or each other, things like that. Sometimes they drew insects and flowers, things like that. Not her. Perdita was fascinated by the shadows cast by the door knocker. Focusing on the notebook in her hand, she turned the pencil in her hand to the side, in order to make the shading more effective where she needed it the most.

In order to get a better light, she stepped back and nearly bumped in to the young woman who was approaching. Perdita was dressed conservatively, although her clothes were a good quality. The notebook in her hand was well-made and she had a pencil in her hand.

“Excuse me, uhm…Could you help me, please? I’m looking for the Gallery…”

Perdita's brown eyes widened and she looked at Darragh (though she didn't know her name) with an expression of surprise. "There... there's a Gallery?" She looked intrigued ~and she blushed deeply as she spoke, not quite making eye contact. "I.. I'm sorry," her voice told of her shyness, her uncertainty. "I don't know." But then, intrigue and natural curiosity won out. "What kind of Gallery?"
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Most discoveries are a combination of serendipity and of searching.
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Darragh
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“I think I’m in love…” Darragh sighed. She looked down at the other woman’s hands, then rose to her toes to loom imperceptibly closer. “…with your shading. So crisp and clean.”

In her chest, she felt a pang of…something. Jealousy, hurt? Is this what school enabled one to do? Her eyes grew a little wider. Darragh had been given an education, but she’d never gone to school. Kind of hard to do that when you’re crossing the seven seas in a pirate ship, or these days, when crossing Scalvoris on your own two feet.

“A Gallery of student works, of course.” The intruder continued, pushing down her thoughts. “With glass instruments, and sculptures, and sketches, and paintings! The best there are!” She gestured widely. The best teacher she could get, without actually getting one. It was almost hard to notice that she, too, didn’t make eye contact. Briefly, Darragh wondered whether they’d have embroidery, as well, but so many artists were dismissive of craftsmen, as if things stopped being beautiful just because they were useful. “There’s got to be one, right? With pieces from assignments, or exams…” The young woman started twirling on her heels. “Perhaps it’s in an otherwise normal corridor, or maybe a disused classroom whose key has been long lost, or maybe an abandoned attic with spider-webs as large as I and giant spiders that I’ll have to fight to-“

Realizing that she was stabbing the air with the corner of her drawing block as if it were a rapier, the woman shuffled back.

“I’m Darragh, by the way.” She smiled.

“If you don’t know where that place is…” Darragh apologetically shrugged. “Then I declare it a Mystery Gallery!” She grinned. “I shall leave you to your work unless, of course, you shall like to join me on my quest?”

The second rule of confidence artistry: even the tiniest bit, make someone feel better for having known you.
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Perdita Westcott
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laerdita's eyes widened slightly as the woman in front of her declared that she was in love with the shading and a blush deepened on her cheeks. Then, the rather peculiar woman started gesturing and Perdita watched with an expression of some confusion on her face. A gallery of student works? Perdita's eyebrow raised just a little as Darragh suggested that. But she didn't stop at suggesting it, she continued describing it and Perdita was coming to the conclusion that this gallery was an assumption Darragh was making, not something she knew about.

And then, as the description of the wished-for gallery continued, Darragh started spinning about on her heels and then jabbing at the air like she was in some sort of outdoor play or something. Perdita flushed a deep crimson and shook her head, stepping back slightly. "There isn't one," she said, quietly. She could feel the heat on her face as the woman said she'd have to fight things and danced about. Perdita had no idea what caused her to behave in that way, but the bookish and shy young student felt out of place and very uncertain at Darragh's strange behaviour. If there was a gallery, Perdita thought, it wouldn't be hidden. If it was hidden, then it wouldn't be a gallery.

Darragh introduced herself, and Perdita nodded. "I'm Perdita," she said, politely. Excruciating shyness mingled with a desire to be helpful and a certainty that there was no such place as the place Darragh was looking for. "It doesn't exist," she said, of the "mystery gallery" Darragh was talking about. She searched in her satchel to find the information they'd been given when they enrolled, and she handed the single piece of parchment to Darragh. There, it stated that student work was displayed once an arc in an annual exhibition. Until that time students kept their work themselves, as it was the building up of a portfolio which led to the exhibition.

If Darragh was still planning on going searching though? Perdita wouldn't be accompanying her, that was for sure. She shook her head, firmly. "I'm staying here," she said, her voice soft but determined. But the reason for that was twofold. First, of course, was the fact that Perdita was not the adventurous traipse around a building dreaming of swashbuckling against imaginary spiders sort. The second reason, though, was more pressing. Two breaks, after all, was barely any time when there were things in the environment to draw. Beneath the sketch of the door knocker was the beginning of a sketch of a handle, and another of the door itself. They would be done, she hoped, by the time the professor opened the door. "Are you a student?" Perdita asked, her gaze turning to the door handle.
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Most discoveries are a combination of serendipity and of searching.
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Darragh
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She gingerly took the schedule, looked it over, and shook her head, as if finally hearing what the other woman had been trying to say all along.

‘The gallery doesn’t exist.’

“Well, it should.” She protested, and her shoulders slumped a bit. Her family-crew would laugh so hard at her, for planning a heist on an inexistent place. But what sort of art school didn’t have a gallery? Despondent, Darragh looked around the empty stone walls. There should’ve been paintings there. It felt wrong.

“Thank you, Perdita. I’ll leave you to your work then.” She said, in a dreamy, bittersweet tone. To think that the Mathematics department had a better artistic sense! Then, as she was returning the paper, the other asked whether she was a student and Darragh couldn’t repress a twitch.

“Kind of.” She awkwardly said. Her lips trembled, the want to ask all sorts of questions about the course balanced with self-preservation. “I’ve been considering it.” Fidgeting. Technically not a lie.

She started to walk away, unsure if she’d overstayed her welcome, when a nook of the hallway caught her attention.

Golden light flowed through a tall, cracked window, and just under it, along the walls, snaked a water pipe. Soundlessly, she watched as a water droplet budded from one of the connectors, and fell to the floor. The rust expanding around the droplet and the green goo growing on the floor under it suggested it had been there for a while. There was even a patch of moss in the corner, and a spider-web hanging just under the windowsill, inhabited by a tiny black spider.

“I’ll name you…Steve.” She whispered.

Without even thinking, Darragh reached out and ripped a shard of rust. She then opened her drawing block to a blank page, using the shard as a makeshift pencil to sketch the moss. It was scratchy and it didn’t carry color very well, but that was perfectly fine for now. Light, fine strokes. The travelling painter plopped herself down on the floor, legs crossed, and stuck her palette under the dripping pipe. She took out what looked like a medicine bottle, put a drop of syrupy liquid on her index finger, licked it, and nodded in approval. Thirty three percent solution. Then she poured more in the wells of the palette, and scratched off bits of the wall to mix it with the syrup – the binder – into pigments. Honey and gum worked well, from her experience.

Rust dust became a reddish-brown, the scum growing just under the pipe was an emerald green, the pinch of soil she’d stolen from a nearby flowerpot was an earthy black. Bright yellow for pollen, pale grey for the dust she’d scraped from under the windowsill. She had her own pigments, of course, but there was something special in bringing life to colors from the very place your painted.

Gently, she moved her brush over the paper, re-creating the moss leaflets and capsules with the attention one might give to an enchanted forest.
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Perdita Westcott
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larragh said that there should be a gallery and Perdita considered it. She didn't think that was true, didn't think that there should be a gallery. She had all sorts of interesting discussion points and she'd love to have felt able to say it - to discuss it, to consider it in a conversation. But, Perdita was who she was and she could not bring herself to engage with a debate - especially not in a public place with someone she didn't know.

So, as much as she might have wanted to do differently, Perdita simply took the parchment back. She nodded when Darragh said that she was thinking about studying here, and the shy young woman spoke, quietly. "It's good here," she said, her cheeks flaming. "You'll like it." She was sure that Darragh would, because it was so very important to Perdita and she figured that anyone who wanted to be a student here would have a wonderful time.

Darragh walked away then, and Perdita considered that maybe the woman had decided that Perdita was boring or not giving the answers she wanted. Should she go after her, Perdita considered, but she knew that she wouldn't be doing that, either. So, instead, she turned back to the door knocker and then she finished the shading she had been working on. The interaction with the strange woman who wanted a gallery and fought imaginary foes in a hallway with strangers.
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Working on the shading, she focused on the edges, the moments were light and dark met and then she considered how she would manage to demarcate edges without making them look like lines. She sighed and considered her drawing. No, she wasn't happy with it. So, Perdita had another rummage in her bag and then she pulled out a jar of ink and a nib. She had an idea of what to do but she needed to experiment with it and she sat down on the floor and perched her notebook on her knees. The inkwell on her left side, Perdita had purposely chosen the finest nib she could and carefully, slowly, she began to make individual dots of ink. Each one had to be tiny, each one had to be precise.

It was ink, so it was unforgiving, and she had to focus. She sat there, quite content and happy to do that because she was in her own world as she did. She did a few dabs of ink and then she found herself looking at it critically. Was there a point to doing this, she wondered, but then she held it further away - at arms length and she had to admit that she liked the way that it looked. Slowly, carefully, she carried on and then - after an indeterminate amount of time - Perdita looked up as the light changed.

The shadow was of her professor, who had opened the door. Perdita looked up and smiled, starting to put things away. She'd add this to her notebook, ready for submission at the end of the season and she looked around, wondering if Darragh was still there and would be attending the class. Either way, Perdita scurried in to the classroom, in order to hide behind her easel, ready to begin.

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Most discoveries are a combination of serendipity and of searching.
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Darragh
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That painting was alive. Darragh felt it with every touch of her paintbrush.

There’s a reason why you can’t just grab any last bit of color and use it for painting, you see. Most pigments aren’t steadfast. They don’t last. The brilliant green from leaves (or, indeed, mysterious puddles of goo) would fade over time, to a pale shadow of its former self. The moss leaflets that Darragh so lovingly sketched would vanish. So, she learned. What people sometimes used, and what the girl had just recently found out about, was mordant. Mordant was a substance that bound pigment to substrate more tightly. She’d learned about it in the context of leather dyes, because she’d needed a temp job, and tanneries always needed cheap labor to stomp around barefoot in vats of vaguely alkaline mordant (urine. It was urine).

Luckily for her, there were a couple of other mordants. Iron fillings, for instance. The bits she found even came pre-rusted (and more importantly, free)! Rust tended to fix colors in a way that darkened them, so Darragh wondered: how would the color evolve over time, as the green’s fading effect interacted with the rust’s darkening one? Would the leaflets simply grow thinner and deeper in color, as if the subject of study dried alongside the paint? She brushed her fingers over the sheet. Perhaps, since this was mystery goo rather than a leaf, it might not die and fade at all, but rather cautiously spread, leaf-like, through cracks in the paper. Perhaps the pigments made out of dust and dirt would start growing actual moss along the painted one.

As with many things that were alive, it was impossible to tell where it would go, or even whether it would live or die.

But Darragh knew that it made her feel alive.

She woke from her trance to the clink of a door, and turned to see Perdita ready to disappear behind the very door she’d been drawing. Not inside the drawing, though that would have been fun. Their eyes met for a moment, and that connection carried the traveler’s palpable anxiety. Should she follow, she wondered. Should she gamble? The class seemed small. Among the well-dressed students who all knew what to do, she’d stand out. Silence rung in her ears. The corridor seemed larger and darker than it had previously been, and twisting at the edges. Perhaps the teacher wouldn’t mind her, still. Her lips trembled. If she asked, all she had to lose was her pride, and how much pride do you have to lose once you've been knee-deep in piss, really? Was she feeling lucky?

That day…Darragh didn’t feel lucky.

What she felt, though, was stubborn. She took out a pencil and, after a bit of fiddling, winked to Perdita and disappeared through the front door.

On the corner of the painting, left half-hidden on the windowsill, she’d written:

‘GALLERY, Exhibit 1’
‘Approved by Steve.'


Because if there was no gallery for this phantom thief to sneak into, then she was going to make one.
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((ooc: Thank you for the thread! I think that’s the logical stopping point for me))
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Review Rewards
Perdita
Name: Perdita

Points awarded: 15

Knowledge:
Discipline: 2
Drawing: 2
Painting: 4

Skill Review: All Skills used appropriate to level
Darragh
Name: Darragh

Points awarded: TBD

Knowledge:
None requested

Skill Review: All Skills used appropriate to level
Notes:
This was a wonderful piece that highlighted two very different personalities! Perdita is always shy and delightful but I really enjoyed how she politely declined the offer to join Darragh. It feels like, through the writing, that when Perdita is confident about something, it eases the shyness. It balances scenes I've read where she is in situations that are a bit unfamiliar and the shyness sometimes is a hindrance she has to work through. Great counter-balance!!!

Darragh is a fun new character who seems utterly lost in her new world...and that's alright. New characters should feel a little bit like that. Early threads are meant to shake out the characters and it worked for this piece because Darragh wasn't entirely comfortable in the academic setting.

I enjoyed reading how each character approaches art as well! Both of you wrote a bit about things your characters were working on in the moment and it was interesting as the approaches were as different as the characters!

Darragh - As you see above, I have not awarded XP for you. I need you to pm me the skills you used in this collaboration. Even if you aren't requesting knowledge, skills used are still required. Once I have those, I will complete the review for you! :D

If you have any questions, comments, or concerns regarding this review, feel free to PM. Enjoy your rewards!

Avalon

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