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Alex commissions a sculpture

The capital city of the of Rynmere, here is seated the only King in Idalos.
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21st of Zi'da, Arc 716
Information on Evelyn had turned out to be quiet diffcult to find. She had spoken to dozens of people over the last weeks, and none of them had been able to tell her any useful information about the Andarises.

Mentally, she checked off what she knew about them; they owned the area Andaris, one of their sons was a nasty bully by all accounts, and Evelyn grew up in and around the docks- a shrewd businesswoman.

She raised a hand, rapping on the door and shifted from foot to foot as she waited. The temperature had risen lately, the snow melting into puddles of cold water waiting for an unsuspecting foot to drench. She preferred the warmer temperatures and was fine in just a dress and cloak. She had purchased a dress especially for this occasion, a maroon piece that was both practical and fashionable. It played nicely off her hair and fit her role perfectly. Here, she was Alex, the merchants daughter.

She knocked at the door again, fidgeting as she waited. It had been a stroke of luck to find out about the sculptor, apparently a noble of considerable talent who enjoyed idle chatter as he worked. It was the perfect person to ask about the Andarises.

When at last the door opened, Alex smiled broadly and stuck out a hand.

"Hello, I'm Alex. Tristan Venora, I presume?"
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Tristan was trying to cook. He had freed his slave at the end of Vhalar. For a while she had still helped him, but now she was away, and he was forced to prepare his own meals as a consequence. He wouldn’t be Tristan though if he didn’t experiment a little and make weird and pointless stuff in between producing something halfway edible and boring. Currently he was trying to deep fry water. To that end he had had a block of ice delivered to his home, hacked a part of it into small cubes (which had put quite a strain on his poor muscles, he had not known how much strength you needed for that!) and then rolled them in the batter before he dumped it into a pan full of hot fat. At first it had seemed to work, but after a while the cubes had exploded, turning his kitchen into a greasy mess.

Since a greasy kitchen didn’t look particularly nice, and he hadn’t hired a servant yet, he reluctantly decided to clean it himself, with a towel and a bucket of soapy water since he didn’t know of any other ways of cleaning stuff. He knelt on the floor which was quite demeaning because the fat had even landed there. What more, the block of ice was already starting to melt. Maybe, he thought, he should just carry it outside. It wasn’t that cold in the garden, but it was a lot colder than in the house which meant that his block of ice would last a little longer.

Yes, he would do that, he decided. He had just put his gloves and his new, very fashionable olive green jacket on and grabbed the block of ice when he heard a knock on the door. Honestly, why did people always knock at the most inopportune of moments? He looked at the block of ice in his arms and wondered what he was supposed to do now, and then he decided to just open the door with his elbow which was quite a challenge.

The young woman that stood outside and smiled at him looked quite pretty in his opinion, but she was so short! She was probably at least as short as Faith! He looked at her for a moment, and then he quickly deposited his block of ice next to the door before he shook her hand because anything else would probably be impolite. “No, I’m really King Cassander”, he replied in an almost overly dry tone. “Lord Venora lives next door.” It was just then that he realized that she might be somebody important and that she might actually walk away now because she really thought she was talking to the wrong person so he quickly informed her, “I am of course Lord Venora. What can I do for you?”

“Please come in and excuse the mess in the kitchen. I was just conducting an important experiment, you see.”
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Alex’s eyes widened slightly as the door opened, revealing Tristan. He had the looks of a noble; high, arching cheekbones and dark hair that fell to his shoulders.

His eyes were the part that stood out to Alex. They were bright blue and piercing, appearing very light next to his pale skin. She felt like those eyes could see through her, and she wasn’t sure if she liked it.

The ice block he placed outside was odd to say the least, and just as Alex was thinking of asking about it he had already introduced himself.

Alex raised a single eyebrow as she digested what he said. Less than a trill passed before she reacted.
King Cassander my ass.

She grinned conspiratorialy, flashing her teeth.

“Well in that case I humbly beg your forgiveness, Your Highness,” she said, dropping into an unnecessarily elaborate curtsey.

Alex fought to keep the smile off her face, but the corner of her lips kept twitching up.

“I’ve been told you are the best sculptor in Andaris, and I would like to commission a price of your work,” Alex said before chuckling, “if you can spare a moment from your royal duties.”

Alex followed him inside, raising an eyebrow as she caught sight of the ruined kitchen. “What kind of… experiment were you doing? Does that have to do with the ice you set down outside?” She asked, curious.

“But for now, on to business. I was sent here by my father to make contact with Evelyn Andaris, and look making a potential business deal.” Alex paused, looking down at her hands. “This is my coming of age. I was sent with no knowledge, and have to set everything up myself, without the benefit of using my father’s name or connections.”

Alex forced herself to grow quieter as she spoke as if turning inwards. The trick with lies was to include as much truth as you could and just twist the facts. She had been sent here by her father, but here was Tristan’s house, not all of Andaris. Most of her story was based on truth, and she hoped Tristan wouldn’t be suspicious. This was her last lead, and time was running out.
Last edited by Vluharqih on Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:25 pm, edited 2 times in total. word count: 382
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Maybe, Tristan thought as he waited for Alex‘ answer, he should have paid more attention to his culinary experiment rather than sitting at the kitchen table and drawing while the ice cubes did their thing. Maybe it would actually have been successful then. On the other hand, he might be sporting a few burn scars now, and while scars would make it easier for him to pretend to be a hero, like Aeon, he rather liked his pretty face and his smooth and flawless skin. If only he knew a scientist that could help him – other than Faith’s terrible, terrible tutor turned boyfriend!

The thought of Padraig made him frown, but his mood instantly brightened again as Alex called him 'Your Highness' and curtsied, and he immediately stood a little straighter, with his head held high, like a true king. “You are forgiven”, he replied generously and then gestured for her to stand again as he imagined King Cassander did when he had a visitor.

“I’m probably the best sculptor in all of Rynmere”, he informed her as she called him the best sculptor of Andaris, although he was pleased to hear that. Apparently his art was finally getting the recognition it deserved. Soon his creations would be exhibited in galleries all over the kingdom! ”What kind of sculpture are you looking for? Do you want to have a sculpture of yourself? You’d make quite a nice one, if I may say so.”

“As for the nature of my experiment”,
he continued and looked at his kitchen as well. In addition to being greasy it also smelled slightly. “I was practicing alchemy”, he claimed because that sounded much more impressive than what he had really done. “I was trying to give an object a property it doesn’t normally have. I was trying to do something that most people consider impossible!” The latter wasn’t even a total lie. Water wasn’t normally deep fried, and most people had probably never even thought about doing that!

“Let’s go into my workshop though”, he told her. “I’ll finish cleaning up here later.” He gestured for her to follow him down the hallway, but stopped in his tracks as she mentioned Evelyn Andaris and furrowed his brow. “I thought you wanted a sculpture”, he remarked. “What your father does seems mean to me”, he continued. “You’d probably learn more if he provided you with a bit of guidance and explained everything to you.”

“What kind of business is it anyway and why do you need to make contact with Lady Andaris? Is the sculpture for her instead of you? I knew quite a few Andarises, if you need help in that regard”,
he offered. She had grown strangely quiet as if she were a little overwhelmed, and he didn’t want her to lose his mind because she had been given a task that was too complicated for her even though he didn’t even know her.
Last edited by Tristan Venora on Sun Jan 15, 2017 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 508
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Alex was slightly taken aback by his assertion, a momentary pause in her stride that would hardly be noticeable.

Someone’s confident

She was even more curious to see his sculpting now, though she was hardly an art connoisseur.

“I-I’m not entirely sure what I’m looking for, and I was hoping I could pick your brain for some ideas,” Alex said, blushing and looking down at his compliment.

The news that he was practicing alchemy peaked her interest. After her disappearance from Faith and Padraig’s house, they had never actually given her the dress. She had even gone to the shop a week later, only to be informed that they had both left the city.

“Oh, an alchemist? That sounds exciting! I had never met one before coming here, and now I’ve met two! Do you two know each other? I think his name was... Padraig?” Alex asked obliviously. “I find the idea of alchemy fascinating, though I haven’t had a chance to learn. Maybe you could give me a few points? If you have time, that is.”

She followed him down the hallway, accidentally running into him as he stopped dead. “Oh! Sorry!” She nodded and rushed into her explanation, before he got the wrong idea.

“Yes, that’s correct, I do need a sculpture,” she paused, wrestling with all too real emotions over her own father. “As for my father... you wouldn’t be the first to call him mean or cruel. He means well, but his methods are harsh to say the least. And you’re right, I probably would, but he’s not one of the “guiding” types. I’m sure you must have seen that with other parents before?”

Alex snorted and immediately clapped a hand over her mouth, laughter bubbling out between her fingers. “I have no idea,” she said after her giggles had subsided. “He told me nothing. Oh, you meant my father’s business? He does imports and exports under the name of half a dozen companies.”

She smiled up at Tristan, nodding her head. “Yes, for her. I have no idea what to get however, but I was hoping I could pick your brain, maybe find out something about her? At this point any information would be helpful.”

She leaned forward to push past him and into his workshop. The door swung open, and Alex looked around with wide eyes at the lumps of clay scattered about.

Wordlessly, she walked around, staring at the sculptures in awe.

He must be the best in all of Idalos!

His confident attitude made more sense now. The lifelike shapes were rendered with impossible detail, one instant caught and immortalized forever my the hands of an artist. No, when it came to this, artist wasn’t enough. This man was a genuis with clay.

Her face was a mix of wonder and impressed as she turned back to him. “W-wow. I had no idea that this was even possible. How- I- What?” At a loss for words, she turned back to stare at the sculptures again.
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As Alex mentioned Padraig, Tristan clenched his fists. “Yes, I know him”, he replied and frowned deeply. “I’m not too impressed with him though. He may be well educated, but I find him dull and uncreative.” Padraig had insulted his most recent masterpiece – the sculpture that he had made of the two headed hound that had terrorized Rynmere for a while – and what more, he’d stolen the woman that he loved. He had stopped entertaining thoughts of hitting the man with one of the sculptures he disliked so much because it would make Faith unhappy, but to that trial he still didn’t know what she saw in him. He wasn’t rich, and he wasn’t particularly good looking either!

As Alex spoke about him giving her a few points, his heart skipped a beat, and he desperately wished he could take his words back or just hide somewhere until she had forgotten everything. All he knew about alchemy was that it involved making some stuff act like some other stuff and that you could also blow things up with it. But he couldn’t tell her that he had been lying! She would probably leave immediately and without buying one of his sculptures. Besides, if she told people that he had lied to her it would almost certainly damage his reputation. Not that he normally minded that, but it was easier to sell something if people trusted you!

So he did the only thing that he could do. He smiled brightly at her and informed her, “Sure. I would love to. Of course I’m not the most experienced alchemist, but there are a few things I could tell you.” If worse came to worst and she really wanted him to teach her alchemy, he decided, he could always just visit the library beforehand and read up on it – and wing the rest. He was a decent actor, so it couldn’t be that hard, could it?

He had his doubts as she claimed that her father meant well, but for her sake he nodded, feigning agreement, before he asked, “What exactly does he import and export?”

So the sculpture was for Evelyn Andaris. Tristan racked his brain as he tried to remember what he knew about the woman. “Lady Andaris likes wine and men, but not necessarily in that order”, he finally told her which was pretty important information in his opinion as he liked wine as well (but not men).

He quite enjoyed the look on her face as she first laid eyes on his creations. The workshop contained all kinds of sculptures, men, women and bizarre creatures that probably only existed in his imagination. Some were almost finished, while others were still little more than lumps of clay and stone. His absolute masterpiece sat on a table in the center of the room.

It was the terrible two-headed hound – with a bit of artistic license. Instead of one tail it had two tails for the sake of symmetry. It also had a nice saddle and reins with golden tassels, and two riders, a man and a woman whose clothes had been ripped to shreds sat on its back. They were both rather good looking. In fact the woman greatly resembled Valeria Macerys who had played the female leading role in his most recent play.

“As I told you, I’m the best sculptor in Rynmere”, he informed Alex and smirked. “So shall we talk about Lady Andaris and what kind of sculpture would be best for her? What exactly do you want to know about her?”
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Alex didn't bother replying to his small rant about Padraig, just politely nodding in agrement as she filed the information away for future. Tristan and Padraig don't get along well....hrm.

Alex smiled brightly as he agreed, offering to teach her some time. That would be a great skill to have, though when she'd have the time to practice was beyond her. Especially here, where she knew almost no one and had very little to her name. "Yes, at some point in the future," she agreed.

"Well, mainly cloths and fabrics, though he will take livestock, gems, or food, depending on the season and how much work there is. He wouldn't tell me what Evelyn does, but I assume it's along the same lines?" Her question hung in the air for a moment, and she nodded as Tristan's eyes unfocused, obviously remembering.

"Oh, wine? That's...odd. Men are one business I don't think we're in. Slavery is a risky investment; one disease and you've lost a good sized fortune like that," she snapped her fingers. "But wine...wine I can work with. She has her own vineyard I assume?"

Alex, once in the workshop, peered closely at the two-headed dog, admiring it from every angle. It was incredible work. Slightly disturbing, to be sure, but the detail and the creative mind needed to make it was impressive. "What prompted this piece? Your creativity is amazing, and the size of it next to its riders... It's breathtaking."

Alex settled down on an open stool, and turned back to Tristan.

"So. Evelyn is a winemaker. A...a vinter, right? Well, a sculpture of wine is hardly that interesting, but what if you did a sculpture of...hmm. Who is the Immortal that has to do with wine? Is it a male?" She paused, deep in thought.

"I'm not sure what I need to know. Did you ever spend time with her as a child? Is she nice, shrewd, harsh, mean? Anything you know might help me. I think a sculpture of the male form is the best bet."

Suddnely, like lightning, a thought struck her. A brilliant thought that she wished she had come up with sooner.

"Can- can you make it as a table centerpiece? With candles and everything?" That would be perfect. It would likely take Alex another ten trials of intense study to properly test the poison, but it would be worth it. Candles could release the poison, and Alex would be far far away by that point.

"Do you know if she has any foods she likes or doesn't like? Or anything she's allergic to?" That could be the key to it all.

She paused and looked at Tristan. "Thank you for this. It's truly helpful," she said honestly. "I don't know what I would've done if I hadn't met you.
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“Oh no”, Tristan informed Alex and laughed out loud. He couldn’t help himself. It was just too funny! “I didn’t mean it that way. Lady Andaris doesn’t buy and sell people. She’s just very, very heterosexual, if you know what I mean. Supposedly she has men regularly visiting her in the evening. Some people have a problem with that, but I don’t mind. Her husband died a while ago. She’s probably very lonely, and if men are allowed to enjoy the company of courtesans, then why shouldn’t women?”

“Thank you”,
he replied as she complimented him on his sculpture and smiled all over his face. His opinion of her instantly increased tenfold. Praising his creations was the way to his heart. “I have an acquaintance, Aeon. He lost a hand during the war. The two headed hound ate it. It also took one of his eyes. When he told me about it, I immediately decided that I needed to make a sculpture of it. He made it sound as if the hound was really big, so I figured that it was probably big enough to ride. I call it 'Triumph over the Beast'.”

“Lady Andaris is indeed a winemaker”,
he confirmed. “She uses her own property as a place to produce wine. I’ve drunk it on occasion. It’s not bad at all, although I have to admit that I prefer my family’s own wine – Venora Rose. It’s a matter of taste. As for the Immortal that has to do with wine …” He got a dreamy look on his face for a moment as he remembered Ne'haer. She had been one of the most beautiful women that he had ever seen, and he couldn’t wait to meet her again!

“Her name is Ilaren. Normally I would say that a statue of the Immortal of Alcohol would be the perfect gift for a winemaker, but in this case I have to agree with you. A sculpture of a handsome man would be better for Lady Andaris.” He fell silent for a moment as she asked him about Evelyn’s personality. What exactly did he know about the woman?

“Lady Andaris is about ten arcs older than I am”, he told her. “So we never played together. But we met regularly. When you belong to a noble house, you cannot not meet other nobles. She’s very business focused since the death of her husband. Apart from those meetings with the men I mentioned she doesn’t socialize very much anymore. She seems nice to me though. She is also quite attractive in my opinion.”

“Of course I can make a table centerpiece”,
he replied. “As for whether she has any foods she likes or doesn’t like, I’m pretty sure that she likes sweet things – and wine, of course. So if you want to give her another gift besides the sculpture, a few bottles of wine would be a good idea. As for allergies, I doubt that she has any. She always ate everything that was served at those dreadful tea parties my grandmother used to arrange.”

“And now”,
he said and crossed his arms over his chest. “It’s my turn to ask you a question. How do you know Padraig, and what do you personally think of him?”
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Alex's eyes widened as she understood, and a slight blush stole its way across her cheeks.

"That makes far more sense. I had assumed- well you know what I meant. I think that's remarkably... modern of you, if may say so. I did not expect that from a noble."

She nodded as he explained the inspiration for his sculpture and smiled. "That sounds like a brave man. I wish I could have seen the real thing," she said, almost wistfully. "I like the name; it's very hopeful, despite how the sculpture appears."

Alex filed away the information about the Immortal, pursing her lips in disappointment. That would've worked out perfectly. But a sculpture of a man would do as well- she liked the idea of using one of the Immortals as a template, though. "Perhaps another Immortal- one that is good and kind, like Ymiden? Isn't he supposed to be ruggedly handsome?"

"That young? I had assumed she was quite a bit older, simply due to the fact that she owns a successful winery. Interesting.... It's a shame I'm not a man. I'd have a better chance of getting an audience if that were the case." She cocked her head at his last sentence and pounced on it. "What exactly makes a woman attractive? I've often wondered, but none of the men I have asked can give me a satisfactory answer. Maybe a sculptor has a better idea of the ideal form?"

"What do you know of wine? I must confess, I know very little about it. What would be a good vintage to bring? Money isn't really an object; I made sure to bring my life savings on this little trip," she blew a gust of air out of her nose, not quite a laugh. "If I don't succeed, that will be all I have to live off."

She realized she was slipping too far, using that as a crutch for her disguise, and she shook her head. "But that's not the point. That is perfect to know- thank you for that. That helps... that helps a lot."

At his question she pursed her lips, tightening them into a thin, bloodless line.

"I- I don't wish to speak ill of those not present, but I will tell you this much. We had made a business deal, fees agreed upon and everything. I was called away suddenly to follow up on a business proposition and told them to continue without me-Him and that Faith. I was told that the product would be delivered to me within a few trials, but it never came. When I went searching for him to inquire, I discovered he had disappeared. Left Andaris." The bitterness in her voice was hard to disguise. She had planned on having those items of clothing ready and his untrustworthiness had screwed up her plans. "So needless to say, I don't have the best opinion of either of them."

Trading information for information was fair, and he had given her more than she could've hoped for. The plan was starting to take hold now, and it was all based on what he had told her. Besides, she wasn't giving away any new information; he knew she had met Padraig.

"Do you have any other questions?" She asked him, willing to answer a few more.

When at last she had answered them all, she stood. "How long should I expect it to take? And would it be best if I came back to collect it?"
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“I’m not like most nobles”, Tristan informed Alex. “In fact I strive to be as different as possible from them. As for seeing the beast, that can probably be arranged. It is most likely still hiding somewhere in the mountains. You might lose an arm or a leg if you meet it though. I hope that won’t be a problem.” He grinned. He had of course not been serious, although Alex losing a limb would probably lead to him making a lot of money because he’d make her a fancy prosthetic out of wood or gold and silver.

“You don’t need to be a certain age in order to be successful”, he replied as Alex voiced her surprise at Lady Andaris‘ age. “Just look at me! I’m twenty-one and already a famous playwright and sculptor! As for your not being a man, I agree, that’s unfortunate, although you could probably disguise yourself as one. It will be hard to hide the feminine voice and the lack of height though. You’d have to pretend to be a vertically challenged mute, and I’m not sure if Lady Andaris is into that!”

“I know a lot about wine”,
he continued and pointed at a corner where a bottle was standing between a few of his bizarre sculptures. “Because I drink a lot of wine. Venora Rose is quite delicious, but if you want to impress Lady Evelyn with something expensive and exotic, Red Aida or Gyara might be a better choice. The latter can cost up to 100 nels per bottle, but you said that money isn’t really an issue.”

As Alex answered his question about Padraig, he made sure to listen very closely so that he didn’t miss anything. “I know that you shouldn’t say bad things about people when they can’t defend themselves”, he replied as she told him about the broken business deal. He actually felt genuinely bad for a few trills because Faith would be hurt if she knew what he said. But on the other hand Padraig had promised to do something for Alex and then just not done it. That, he decided, was even worse than badmouthing somebody. “But that doesn’t surprise me at all. As you may have noticed, I’m not too fond of him either. Faith is a decent person though. I honestly don’t know why she’s staying with him when she’s so beautiful and talented.”

For a while he had actually wondered if Padraig had fed her a love potion. He was an alchemist. He probably knew how to make such a thing. But Faith just seemed to be in love with the man and not obsessed with him (which he imagined would happen after ingesting a love potion), and her personality also hadn’t really changed. She was still the same woman that he had fallen in love with, apart from her strange attraction to the terrible tutor.

“Anyway”, he said because he really wasn’t interested in Alex making speculations about his relationship (or the lack thereof) with Faith. He still hadn’t gotten over what had happened. “You can probably pick the sculpture up at the end of next week. As for whether I have any other questions – yes, in fact I do. I know that it’s not really any of my business …” He flashed her a grin. “But what did you want Padraig to make for you? Perhaps I could help. I assure you, I am quite trustworthy.” He wasn’t sure what had happened between Padraig and Alex, but in his opinion the woman seemed nice enough. It would serve the terrible tutor right if he, Tristan, helped her and got the money instead!
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