• Graded • [Hopetoun] It Was A Dark And Stormless Night

A small island with an active volcano, Faldrass is the home to Saoire's school and to the Faldrass Induk.

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[Hopetoun] It Was A Dark And Stormless Night

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Arc 721, 23rd of Ashan
A wave of raucous laughter erupted from within the building.

Night had fallen, and within were a small group of Hopetounians enjoying each other's company over a shared meal. Darius sat amongst them, insistent that he shouldn't be at the head of the table, lest he be seen to think of himself as more important than the others present.

In truth, some did think he was more important, for he was a nobleman, and one who had earnt his title rather than simply receiving it as a birthright, but he did not like to make such distinctions among the other settlers. As far as he was concerned, he was just another individual attempting to establish a new home for former refugees.

Next to him sat Astra, whose company he had begun to miss in the busyness of his new duties. They sat close to each other, the baron enjoying the way the half-biqaj's hair occasionally brushed against his forearm as they chatted. There were occasional shared glances and silent grins, but they were also careful to ensure that nobody else felt as though the pair had eyes only for each other.

The settlers around the table were refugees of Faldrass who were now proud to call Hopetoun home. They had built the house in which they now enjoyed a meal, and the other buildings that surrounded it. The food had been grown or caught locally and was the spoils of their labour.

Together, they had started a new life.

The evening drifted by, and a few arcs later Darius and Astra took their leave, stepping out of the house and into the cool Ashan air. The gloom of Cylus had faded away, and in its place were innumerable stars that danced across the skies, their breaths forming small, temporary clouds in the stillness of the night. Darius lifted his coat from his shoulders and wrapped it around Astra's form.

The pair walked towards the palisade, and when they were partway there, their hands met, fingers interlocking as they found their steps moving in rhythm with one another. They climbed the mound of earth that led up to the palisade, and, together, they stared out of the settlement and into the darkness.

Beyond, the wilderness lay in wait; a wild land filled with wonder; a world of distance and foreignness. But in Hopetoun, Darius had a warm hand to hold, and that made him feel that regardless of everything they had built and the immense amount of work that still lay ahead of them, he was at home.
Last edited by Darius Baer Bottom on Fri Apr 09, 2021 7:19 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 437
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Re: [Hopetoun] It Was A Dark And Stormless Night

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"Every time I see you," the man said, laughter in his voice. "You're holding a pretty girl's hand."

The man standing just off to the side of them was unknown to Astra, but was a familiar face to the blond-haired man. "Hello, Darius," he said. He flourished a bow to Astra, his arm waving as he bowed and he smiled. "Mi'lady," he said with old fashioned, almost courtly manners. Looking at Darius, he spoke with a rare level of seriousness. "I would speak with you privately," he said.

Assuming I'm working on that assumption, as Cassion won't speak if there's anyone else there. that Darius went along with that, Cassion would gesture for them to walk. The place was dark and cool, but the Immortal did not seem concerned by such. He strode, long legs and wide steps meaning that his movements crossed a lot of distance, covered a lot of ground. Not surprising for the Lord of Adventure. He walked until they were past the points of any lookouts or patrols, into the wildlands of Faldrass. Eventually, he stopped and stood on a rise, Darius and him able to see out, into the inky darkness. Above them glittered stars, but down here things seemed .... empty. Cold. Without the life sparkling in the stars above and yet, the being standing next to Darius brimmed with life. Positively brimmed with it. He stood in stark contrast to the vast, bleak blackness which seemed to stretch on almost eternally. Except, of course, for the light of the Sentry and the semi-permanent glow of the volcano itself.

Like stars themselves, in the inky sky.

"Chrien is angry" Cassion said. "And there are things I can not see." He chuckled then and turned to look at Darius, turning his full attention to the mortal. "Things hidden from me. Do you know how hard it is to hide things from me, Darius Baer?" Shaking his head, he laughed. "Yet, hidden they are. From me, from others of my ilk. From those who bear our marks." He gave Darius a companionable back-slap then. "So, I would ask you, Darius Baer, who is not touched by any Immortal - despite the Mistress of Shadows assuming I marked you all - tell me what happened when the Baron died? What angered Chrien so much?"

His eyes twinkled with mirth as he added. "A question for a question. Does that seem a fair trade?"
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Re: [Hopetoun] It Was A Dark And Stormless Night

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Darius felt an eclectic mix of emotions when he recognised the voice. Initially, he felt a sense of disappointment, for he had just begun to relish a rare quiet evening with Astra. But the encounter also brought with it an air of excitement; awe and wonderment about the unknown; an anticipation of adventure that tugged on at the strings of the man's heart.

And with that excitement came a pang of guilt.

Darius turned to look at Astra, but in the darkness of night, he could not see the colour of her eyes. His ignorance of her reaction was short-lived, however, as she squeezed his hand gently and then released it. She gently patted his forearm and then began to ease herself away, but not before nodding politely at Cassion's bow. Then she quietly stepped away, still wearing Darius' coat, allowing the baron to accept the Taleweaver's invitation.

At first, the bearded blond was surprised that Cassion was leading him out of the settlement gate and beyond the palisade. But then, he supposed, if the Immortal wanted privacy, then it only made sense to descend into the very wildlands that Darius and Astra had been admiring in the moments before his arrival. The mariner followed Cassion up onto the rise and looked around, and the bleakness of the surrounding area struck him as strangely cold. For the first time in a long time, he felt a chill run across his skin.

When Cassion spoke, he got straight to the point. The Taleweaver's words bore with them the weight of responsibility, and Darius listened carefully. The Baron was no fan of Chrien, and from what he knew of the Seascourge, the feeling would be mutual. She was hated and feared in equal measure by every sailor he had known.

Audrae, on the other hand, was not so well known to the human.

Darius nodded in silence, taking in what had been said. Cassion could not see what was hidden, and nor could those who bore his mark. Yeva and Oram could not provide him with answers. Was this why Darius had not been invited to receive his mark? Was he, as a mere mortal, more useful in this way?

"I cannot speak for Chrien's anger," he eventually responded, "though I understand it doesn't take much for it to be provoked."

Dark grey eyes strained into the darkness, trying to identify Hopetoun, but Cassion had taken them too far. Somewhere, in the bleak void, Astra stood, and he felt a yearning to stand next to her.

"But I can tell you what I do know," he added, turning back to face Cassion.

And so he did. Darius took himself back to that night; to the smell of sulfur and the fear of death, and in so doing, he opened a box of vulnerability that often remained closed. And he decided to be thorough, specifying everything he remembered from the moment he had answered the call for help and had visited the island for the first time, right up until Faldrass was set free. There were clear gaps in his information, but he knew his own experiences, and those he provided in vivid detail.

And then he told Cassion what else he'd heard from one of the other barons.

"Nir'wei told me that he and Maxine had a fight," he quietly added. "I'm not quite sure what started it, but he said that she tried to kill him and lost control of her powers, and that was what caused widespread destruction and ultimately her own death."

The human shrugged. He had no reason to doubt Nir'wei, but he hadn't witnessed it himself, and he knew his information was secondhand.

He hadn't made mention of Cassion's offer, but he had provided the Man of Roads with an answer. Perhaps, in time, he would have a question of his own.
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Re: [Hopetoun] It Was A Dark And Stormless Night

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Cassion looked at Darius and observed his behaviour - but he said nothing in that moment, simply waited until Darius answered. He nodded his head, then he listened to Darius. A frown creased the brow of the Spinner of Tales. "She's not dead," he said, softly. "I don't know where she is, but I know she's not dead."

That was irritating to him, obviously, but the Immortal of Adventure would not be irritated for long - it was not in his nature. "Lost control of her powers, hmmm," he considered it for a moment and then he turned to Darius with a glint in his eye. He was, there was no doubt, enjoying himself. It was, after all, a story and a tale. "One of the things that I find so fascinating about you," he said, obviously speaking more generally than Darius alone. "Is your ability to innovate, to imagine, to wing it and win it." The Immortal grinned.

"And that is what you will do, I have no doubt!" Cassion said. "So, I would ask of you a favour, if you would." His dark eyes gazed on Darius, looking much like Saoire's had when she looked at him. The gaze of an Immortal is a hard thing to miss, after all. "I will give you a book, a blank one. I would ask that you write on it, in as much detail as you can, what you remember of that whole event. There is something, I know. Something that I am missing, that is being hidden from me." He chuckled, "And as much as I love a mystery - it is not one that I enjoy right now. Would you do that?"

He held out his hand, in which there was a book. "If you would, I would be happy to return the favour some time. As for your unasked question, " he added. "It seems to me that you are hoarding it like a miser with his gold. Do not do that, for I am nothing if I am not an open book!" He laughed and gestured back to the settlement.

"What of that place?" he asked. "You have done well, there. My son is with you, I see." Did Darius know who the heck he was talking about, Cassion wondered. "Arlo. He shares my sense of style, don't you think?" With a chuckle he turned back to Darius and raised an eyebrow. "Have you no questions, Darius Baer? No burning fascination, no curiosity which must be sated?" Another companionable back slap - which would probably leave a bruise, but was very obviously a friendly thing.

"Surely, there must be a hundred? Ask them, and know that next time we meet, I'll answer new ones, then."
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Re: [Hopetoun] It Was A Dark And Stormless Night

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"She's...not dead?"

The words fell from Darius' lips almost before they registered in his mind, and they were immediately followed by a pang of guilt.

Had he just questioned an Immortal?

He shook his head. That was not the most important question running through his mind. If Maxine was alive, how had she escaped? Did Nir'wei know that she still drew breath? And if he did, why would he lie about such a fact when it could be disproven by Maxine simply walking into a room?

There were other questions spinning around in his head, and they soon became entangled with one another and threatened to make him dizzy. But a glance back into the darkness towards Hopetoun - towards Astra - seemed to steady him and he found his feet once more.

Cassion spoke again, and Darius listened. At first the mariner thought he was being spoken of directly, but then the words appeared to become more generalised. It seemed strange that an Immortal should find wonder in the ways of people who must surely have seemed completely insignificant, and yet here he was, making a personal visit to ask questions of his own.

Darius took the book that was offered, and thumbed through the blank pages as Cassion explained its purpose. He nodded, then closed the empty tome and tucked it under one arm.

"I will do as you say," he spoke, resolving within himself to do precisely that.

The suggestion that Darius was clinging to an unasked question brought a grim smile, but it was soon replaced by an expression of surprise as Cassion revealed that Arlo was his son.

Another glance was sent, almost involuntarily, towards the settlement, as if Vega's husband might be seen looking back at them from behind the palisade.

"Hopetoun is doing well," Darius acknowledged as he turned back to face the Immortal, hopeful that his words didn't sound boastful. "The people have worked hard to get us to where we are."

Cassion's hunt for a question continued, however, and Darius wasn't sure what to ask. It wasn't that he lacked questions, but that there were so many that he didn't know where to start. How did he know Maxine was alive? How did ChiChi and Cassion know one another? How had Yeva been brought back to life? And just what were the Taleweaver's intentions for the redhead?

But Darius didn't ask any of those. He was sure that the Immortal could read his mind, and would answer them if he felt the need. Instead, the mariner asked another question that had been on his mind since their first encounter, deep within the caves of Faldrass. He was just a local Scalv kid who had found himself staring sulfuric death in the face, when Cassion had arrived and aided them. There was no denying that his question came from a place of vulnerability and insecurity, which made asking it all the more nerve-wracking.

With a deep gulp of air, Darius caught his breath and, in a quiet voice that almost broke, making him feel even smaller than being in the presence of the Immortal already did, he asked: "Why me?"
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Re: [Hopetoun] It Was A Dark And Stormless Night

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"She's not dead," he repeated. He sounded serious and sombre as he said his words again. "I don't know where she is, but I know she's not dead."

The Immortal watched as Darius' eyebrow raised at his revelation of his son and he chuckled. But then, it was the Immortal's turn to look surprised as Darius asked his question. Why him? Cassion stopped in his tracks and looked at Darius with a serious gaze before he spoke.

"All the best storiesinterlink and intertwine, do they not?" Cassion said - and if it sounded random, perhaps just why he said that in response to Darius' question would become more obvious as the answer continued. "Last time I met you, you were holding the hand of a beautiful redhead named Yeva, yes?" His gaze turned to the darkness around them, as though he could see stories unfolding before him. "She died, some time ago, as I believe you know?" He looked at Darius and his expression was serious - almost sombre, "Her death, though, was not the end of her story."

He gestured out into the darkness. "In Rharne, at a Ball, the Immortal Syroa was creating mischief. Xiur was there, and Ziell, too - and Qylios," he chuckled. "Bunch of glory hounds they are. Can't help themselves. In that place, a mortal woman fought Syroa, and then she walked up to Ziell and told him that Yeva's death was wrong," it was a small gesture he made, back to the settlement, but it was there.

"She told Ziell that Yeva's death had been a waste and should not have happened and Ziell agreed. He brought Yeva back." Cassion turned back to Darius, and his gaze now was intent. Almost fierce. "It's a marvellous story! You are part of that whole story. You know both the redhead who died and the redhead who argued that she should be brought back." He smiled at Darius. "Every person is a story, a tale and you are no exception to that, Darius Baer" He seemed more than enthusiastic about that. "Your story is just beginning, but I can see it and it is wonderful. Exciting and more importantly, your story makes a difference to so many others. You are a fascinating man, Darius Baer." He chuckled.

"Why you, simply, is because you choose to act, you choose to do, you choose to be the man you can be. And, perhaps even more surprisingly, you are not at all aware of just how exciting that is." Cassion laughed. "And, of course, because I look forward to seeing your story!"
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So - if you want to reply again you are more than welcome to. Or I can just review. Up to you - please just let me know.
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Re: [Hopetoun] It Was A Dark And Stormless Night

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Your Review
Darius

Overview

The way you write Darius is, frankly, superb. He's a flawed, fantastic, nuanced and eminently readable PC who comes across as a man doing his best in a world which makes no sense. In the moment when he could have asked so many questions, his 'why me' was a wonderful insight into him. I love the way you write him, and this was an excellent example of why! Enjoy your well-earned rewards!

Points

XP: 20
Renown: 10

Loot

IC:
Cassion's Book - Cassion has given Darius a book in which to write things.
OOC:
Medals Awarded:
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Painting With Words (because it is a crime you don't already have it!)
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In Your Favour (for acquiring a favour from Cassion)
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For fantastic plots!
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He's a great listener! For your time with the Sojourner

Knowledge

Detection: Trying to spot small details is harder at night
Detection: Recognising individual voices.
Detection: Listen carefully
Discipline: Put aside feelings of worry and guilt.
Discipline: Focus on what's important
Discipline: When you're short of time, prioritise your questions
Discipline: Recognising your vulnerability allows you to draw strength from it.
Etiquette: Put your coat around your lady
Etiquette: Include everyone.
Etiquette: How to speak with an Immortal.
Etiquette: The difference between proud and boastful
Investigation: Questioning motives for actions.
Investigation: Consider what purpose others actions serve
Investigation: It's hard to separate out your emotions in an investigation
Leadership: Community is more important than anything to a settlement
Leadership: Eating together increases relationship with your settlers.
Leadership: Make sure no one thinks you've got favourites.
Politics: People treat you differently when you're a nobleman
Politics: Earned titles are different than hereditary ones.
Storytelling: There's a responsibility to telling a tale to Cassion
Storytelling: Be thorough, note details.



If you have any questions or concerns regarding this review - drop me a PM.
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word count: 315
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~~Red in hoof and claw... ~~


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