Broken Lanterns

In which Inali meets an enterprising Naer

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Inali
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Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:18 pm
Race: Eídisi
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Broken Lanterns

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Cylus 3, 717

The first few days of Cylus had taken Inali by surprise. Cold winds whipped around the city of Ne'Haer and sent most of the city into a state of shivering panic. Snow blanketed buildings, stables, and market stalls rapidly, and few of the Biqaj were keen on shoveling the ever growing mass of white off of anything other than their ships. Aside from quick trips to the closest butcher shop, most citizens of the city stayed within their homes, steadily adding logs to the fireplaces that warmed the walls and floors of their residences.

While the Eidisi was no stranger to the bitter cold, she had sold most of her warm clothing before leaving Viden. Her remaining fur lined coat and pants felt constricting and foreign, even though they had been staple items of her adolescence. Inali leaned forward and breathed onto the glass pane of her window, allowing her warm breath to clear some of the frost that had accumulated at the edges. She grabbed an old rag from atop a nearby table and scrubbed at the glass in quick arcs, pushing the accumulated dust to the sides before collecting it within the rag with a deft scoop of her palm. The rag was then tossed to a corner, with abundant permission to be forgotten until the weather warmed enough to clean it in comfort. Out of the corner of her eye, the Eidisi spotted a light flicker twice, then go dark. She peered into the perpetual twilight, wondering why the lantern that illuminated the street would fade so suddenly. The citizens of Ne'haer were proud of their streets and endeavored to keep the city bright and inviting. The next lantern light flickered only a single time before being extinguished and throwing the northern side of the street into darkness.

Inali's Audnev blessing sent a small ripple of energy through her, a gentle reminder that fear was a strong impairment to logic and action. Breathing in, she allowed the aura of fearlessness to stretch downward from the star mark atop her head to her fingertips, torso, and toes. Her thoughts were suddenly her own again and she shifted focus, wondering less about who could be extinguishing the lights and instead pondered their motivations. Such an act could only be deliberate - the city guards would have little mercy for a prankster or deviant sending the residential district into further darkness.

Inali grabbed her dagger off the table and held it awkwardly at her right side, gripping the handle too tightly, her arm stiff with tension. The blade wasn't for self defense - it simply provided a boost to her own confidence that she could fend off whoever was assailing the neighborhood. Raising herself to her full height, the Eidisi stood and walked to her front door, noting that it was only a few feet from the next lantern. As she opened the door, spilling light upon the street, a hooded figure crouched in place next to the lantern in an obviously practiced pose. Inali didn't move from the doorway and instead called out to the figure in Common,

"You know, those are generally supposed to stay lit. You could trip over your cloak, or a stray cobble."
Last edited by Inali on Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 551
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Inali
Posts: 353
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 8:18 pm
Race: Eídisi
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Renown: 35
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Broken Lanterns

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The cloaked figure pivoted on one heel, her bright purple eyes taking in the entirety of Inali's form in an instant. The Naer did not acknowledge the blade gripped in Inali's hand. The lithe woman smiled cruelly while she rose to her full length. She moved forward as she spoke aloud in Common, drawing ever closer to the Eidisi, boots pressing soundlessly into the snow-packed streets.

"And who are you to stop the will of my patron mother? Will you fight me with that sad excuse for a blade, blind eyes? Will you act as the city guard and protect your precious light from burning out? Would you bet your life on such an endeavor?"

As the Naer spoke, Inali felt the comforting presence of her Audnev mark thrumming against her skull. The star shaped mark sent waves of energy down her extremities, forcing calm into arms and legs that would otherwise be shaking with fear. With no other options, Inali threw the blade into the room behind her, noting the dull thump that resounded from the bricks of her fireplace. With her free right hand, she replied in Euthic Sign, chaining together a series of fluid gestures that conveyed her intent without sound.

We share mother. Audrae, patron, shadowed queen. Augiery is... home.

She hesitated on the last sign, her index finger lingering on gentle swoop downward that denoted 'home' or 'shelter'. Was Augiery home? She had never been there, never spent a single season among the home of the Naerikk. It was said that Audrae made her home within the city, though the Eidisi had never been brave enough to risk her life to explore a folktale. She continued hurriedly, hoping that her reply would entice the Naer to come inside her home before her neighbors investigated the darkened street.

Audnev marked, please come my shelter. Hurry.

She accompanied the Audnev sign with a gentle tap on her skull before opening the door to her home wider. Whatever threat the Naer had been about to make good on, she decided better of it and swept past Inali, roughly pushing her way into the entrance. By the time Inali turned to close the door, the Naer was upon her, one hand yanking her head downward by her hair. The Naer's other hand was positioned on Inali's neck, fingertips digging into a pressure point that caused Inali to sink to her knees with a gasping whimper of pain. After a few moments, the Naer grunted, obviously satisfied that the Audnev mark was the work of her patron mother and not a tattoo artist. She allowed Inali to sink the rest of the way to the ground before moving to close and lock the door.

A few heaving gasps later, Inali had recovered her breath and managed to calm her anger to the point that she could resist signing a number of remarks that could get her killed, regardless of which mark she wore atop her skull. After another bit, she rose to her feet and moved towards the bed cautiously, signing her intentions as she moved. The straw rolls absorbed her weight as she sank downward into the mattress. Before she could lose her nerve, she forced herself into action, spilling years worth of questions to Naer in front of her.

Audrae... mother, what she want from you? What she want me? Why lanterns? What secrets important?

Just as Inali felt that she was going to be attacked again, the Naer showed a display of emotion that caught the Eidisi off guard. Her smile was both genuine and rueful.

Poor white eyes. Lost, alone. Why? Why?

The Naer chuckled briefly at her lighthearted mockery of Inali, purple eyes radiating mirth.

Audrae seeks secrets. All secrets. Audrae desire fear, shadow, darkness. No secret too small, no deception too big.

She paused again, her expression suddenly serious.

No deception too big, unless white eyes is found out. White eyes risk all tonight. Stupid, foolish. Patron mother Audrae would be angry.

Inali blushed and began to sign an explanation. Before she could form the signs for 'You attack me', the Naer cut her off with a sharp slash through the air.

White eyes can't use blade. White eyes could die to Naer toddler. Must be able to fight. Poor reason for risk all.

The Eidisi nodded somberly at this. She had spent so many years trying to avoid combat that it had been easy to forget how powerless she would feel at the hands of a capable foe. So far, she had managed to avoid being maimed by sheer luck alone. She shivered, her white eyes glancing down at her powerless hands. The Naer was right, of course. Still, sorry didn't seem like an appropriate answer. She signed a simple,

Will learn. Will not anger patron mother again.

The Naer nodded, satisfied for a moment before continuing,

Heard Eidisi in Ne'haer deals ciphers, codes. You know which?

This time, Inali laughed aloud, wondering if the Naer truly thought that she knew all the Eidisi who populated Ne'haer. She pointed at herself, a gesture that could be understood without the use of Euthic, and followed it up with,

What you need coded?
word count: 884
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Inali
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It took some time, and a few hushed words in Common, but eventually the Eidisi understood what the Naer was requesting. She cleared off a large swath of her wooden desk and placed a piece of parchment in front of herself and the Naer, who had yet to reveal her name. Inali moved methodically, allowing her mind to wander while she assembled her workspace. It probably was safer not to reveal her own name - she could hardly be tortured into giving up information that she didn’t possess to begin with. Shaking her head lightly, she returned to the need for an easy to write cipher that would also be difficult to crack.

With a sign, the Eidisi grabbed the parchment in front of the Naer and signed,

I show you why

She then wrote the most basic of ciphers on a sheet of paper. It was a string of the first ten letters of the Common alphabet. She pointed to the ‘a’ character and drew a brief line that connected it to ‘c’. The second letter in the alphabet connected to ‘d’ and so on until the final letter connected back to ‘b’. She began signing her assessment of the cipher while she wrote a coded message for the Naer to decrypt.

Basic, simple. Easy to break

Dgg dgi echg.

She signed the answer a few moments later when she was sure the Naer understood,

Bee beg cafe. Nonsense, easy break

The angry look on the Naer’s face made it plain to see exactly what she thought of the nonsense phrase. Like many new to cryptography, she had assumed the phrase would make sense or follow some semblance of the Common tongue. Cryptography was best learned with nonsense phrases and even non existent words, if the pupil was ready for such a challenge. It cemented the cipher into memory and prevented the encoder from relying on reading by pattern only. Smiling, Inali raised her hand and flipped the parchment over, displaying a blank slate.

Need hard to break. Start with ancient tongue. You know it?

The Naer nodded and watched Inali carefully, obviously unsure of how a simple change in the language would make the cipher more secure. The Eidisi nodded, anticipating the unspoken question.

All cipher can break. We layer secrets in layers, hope interceptor give up in frustration

The Naer’s eyes filled with sudden comprehension and she leaned forward, obviously curious about the nature of these additional layers. Inali held up one finger in a universal sign for caution.

Too many layer, other Naer will not crack. Useless. We use code word, send first. Real message uses code word to unlock.

Inali paused for a moment, tapping her inkpen against the paper. She needed to think of a word that had nothing to do with the Naerikk or Audrae, but could still be used in a plain letter. After a few trills of careful deliberation, the word struck her. Twilight! The Naer could write an innocuous letter to her kin that would speak of the constant twilight conditions of Cylus. The second letter would be written entirely in the Ancient Language and numbers and would use the word ‘twilight’ as a key.

With a smile, she sketched the code word on the page in Common, making sure to underline it twice. Next, she drew up a merchant’s trading log. Rows and columns were populated with ports, goods, and the number of shipments that were collected. All were written in the Ancient Language, though this was merely a decoy to distract potential interceptors. Inali used the spine of a book to ensure the lines that connected the rows were straight and then began writing a simple coded message in the boxes, making sure to point out each letter of ‘twilight’ as she did so.

The message to be spelled out, ‘I will travel to Andaris.’, was written directly beneath the key.

Inali spoke quietly in the Ancient Language, making sure that the Naer understood the translation scheme.

“‘I’ is 14 letters from T, if you loop around the alphabet. Then, ‘W’ uses the second letter in the keyword - the W. Since it’s zero spaces away, you simply write a zero into that box. You have another ‘I’, but this time you’re using the I in ‘twilight’, and it’s also 0 spaces away. You continue through the coded message and loop through the key as needed. You can send the original letter with the key before or after your coded message.”


Inali paused for a moment, looking for any signs of confusion in the Naer’s face. If she was confused, she didn’t show it, and instead remained transfixed on the rows and columns on the parchment. Inali continued,

“Ideally, you would mix this up. If you send it in one season, a 1 would always be an 3, or a zero would actually not be a zero at all, but a letter instead. You can include nonsensical key words, long key words, and mess around with symbols and dashes… but for now, this is a good start.”

She pointed to the keyword again, emphasizing the simplicity of the cipher.

“This is… very basic. A competent cryptographer could crack this code in a week or less, so I suggest only not using it for extremely important messages. But you can refine it from here. Would you like to practice?”


The Naer nodded and began her work, slowly counting the letters of the alphabet with a single tattooed finger moving across the letters of the keyword as she worked. Before long, she had written ‘Bee beg cafe’ into the merchant’s log. They practiced longer phrases and the same code in reverse, working into the hours of the early morning. Once the Naer was completely sure she understood, she smiled at Inali and threw the parchment sheets into the smoldering fireplace. As she slipped out the door, signing a single phrase in Euthic,

Darkness guide you, sister.
word count: 1011
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Aeon
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Broken Lanterns

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Inali


Knowledge:

Audrae: Supposedly resides in Augiery
Audrae: Desires all secrets
Cryptography: Basic letter switching
Cryptography: Changing the language makes the cypher harder to break
Cryptography: Code words
Cryptography: Using numbers in cyphers
Cryptography: Combining methods to make a harder-to-break cypher
Detection: Decrypting easy cyphers

Loot:
N/A
Injuries:
N/A
Fame:
N/A
Devotion:
+5 to Audrae (helping a complete stranger pull off a serious deception)
Magic:
These points can NOT be used for Domain Magic

Story:
5/5
Collaboration:
0/5 (Solo)
Structure:
5/5


General Comment:
I enjoyed this little thread of yours, shows whose side Inali is on and what she's doing for that side, realistically, good work. Unfortunately I couldn't find any more detection knowledges to give, but you did get a bunch of cryptography ones to hopefully make up for it.

Story:Nicely put together, good work.
Collaboration: Solo
Structure:All good, no issues here.

Feel free to PM me if you have any questions or concerns. Have a wonderful day! :)
word count: 179
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"A hero is someone who steps up when everyone else backs down"
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