Solo Lies Were Their Art

Marion didn't like theater.

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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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Lies Were Their Art

Postby Marion Kay on February 4th, 2015, 11:31 pm

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Marion didn't like theater. She tried to qualify this with the knowledge that she didn't like most things, but the fact remained that theater was Alvad work and she hated it on principle.

Her art was more subtle, the kind that actually meant something. Theater was... nothing. It was storytelling, with bodies as puppets, trying to recreate something in reality that could really only come alive in imagination. It was an illusion, an art form ground in falsities that failed to recognize the beauty in authenticity. Marion was biased, of course. Alvadas might have been her hometown, but it was never a home to her, and it was there that she was first exposed to the horrors of illusion and denial, of the hypocrisy of control in a place that claimed to surrender itself to whimsy.

Lies were their art, and while they pretended, she did. What they accomplished through tricks and slights, she accomplished through sheer power of will, and they had condemned her for it. Lies were their art, and Marion didn't lie well enough.

She'd thought herself better for it, but they'd won in the end.

It'd hadn't been until after she'd left Sunberth that Marion realized what she had become, not that it was entirely her fault. Alvadan blood ran deep, and in a city where being honest could cost you your tongue (at the least), it was only natural to adapt. That was simply how the world worked, and she, above all, understood that. So she played the part, showed them what they wanted to see -- Marion the interrogator, Marion the asker, Marion with the mask, but never Marion the morpher, and once she was able to look back at who she'd been for the last year, she realized she was also Marion the actress. Marion the pretender. Marion the liar.

There was nothing she could have done to prevent it though, and while a part of her raged against that fact, the feeling of being unable to prevent things from ending up the way they did, a wiser part of her simply accepted it. That was all she could do, after all. The damage was done, she was pure no longer. And perhaps it was for the best, to have gotten it over with already, for she doubted she could have stayed pure when she considered all the places she still had yet to go -- dark places, unspeakable places. It was better to relinquish morals; there was more freedom that way.

And it certainly made this easier.
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Lies Were Their Art

Postby Marion Kay on March 10th, 2015, 2:00 am

16 Winter 514 AV
The Riverfall Amphitheater

Marion had certainly taken her time. Thirteen days, to be exact, from when she'd first sought employment to now. The better part of those thirteen days had been spent unproductively, lounging in her rented room, contemplating her purpose here. She hadn't wanted to speak to anyone, and once she had gotten up the motivation to venture into the city she was rewarded with a lovely little experience that left her entirely worse for wear.

She'd made sure, that night, that the bruises of the encounter were readily hidden. But three days later she could still feel the shadow of Hirem the Bouncer's heavy hand on her throat. She wondered when it would leave, when she would be allowed to forget what had transpired. And when her own hand wound its way to her throat, adjusting the cowl that lay there, all she wanted was to forget. It was moments like these, when her mind fixated on the sensation of her spirit ebbing away, slowly, into empty blackness that she had to remind herself that she hadn't fled the scene, that she hadn't been scared away. She'd left because her work was done, not because she was afraid. She was done with being afraid. She'd been done for a long time.

The Amphitheater loomed ahead of her, all stone and trees and bouncing voices, and Marion wasn't sure whether there was something about it that conjured these thoughts or if they were just so fresh in her mind that they saw fit to crop up unannounced. She could hear the troupe below trying to decide whether or not to hold rehearsal inside somewhere or to keep going here. Marion, personally, would much rather they were anywhere but here. It was too cold. Ever since she'd left Alvadas it had always been too cold.

She pulled her coat tighter around her body, bundling that notion deep inside of her as she did so. Of all the things she did not want to think about, that was perhaps the greatest.

Instead, as she began her slow descent down the many-terraced walls, she focused her attention on the weight of the dagger at her side. It felt heavy -- good, even -- and though she liked to pretend she didn't need to be constantly armed, she knew that she did, and she knew it well. Not that she expected it to be able to save her. After all, it hadn't when she'd needed it most, when angry fingers were snaked around her throat and draining the life from her. It all seemed rather futile when she considered that moment, when the blade she had stored so much of her confidence in failed her, sailing off into the darkness and out of her reach.

Suddenly the weapon felt like a traitor, though it was her own body that had betrayed her. And therein lied the problem. The body was the only weapon anyone could truly rely on, and hers had been too weak.

Or perhaps it was her acting that had failed her. If Hirem hadn't been so suspicious of her -- if she hadn't let him become so suspicious of her -- she could have skated away from the night unscathed. It was quite disappointing, really, to think that even after giving in to the practice she still didn't have the edge she needed, that even after all this time she still didn't lie well enough.

Soon she'd made it to the field of grass at the bottom of the theater, her boots crunching out a steady rhythm against the layer of snow on the grass. That rhythm came to halt as she reached the group of actors that had gathered today -- it was smaller than she would have expected, but they each seemed to hold themselves with a kind of self-importance that made Marion wish there were fewer of them. They had apparently moved on from their previous discussion, obviously settling to keep rehearsal going outside. They'd be performing in the cold anyway, as someone had pointed out before Marion approached.

They stood in a circle near the center of the clearing, some shivering in their fur cloaks, others seemingly unfettered by the chill. Each gripped a stack of parchment. They were reading off lines in what seemed to be round-robin style, without regard to whose lines were whose.

"I'm just worried it's going to come back to haunt you," recited one, a redheaded girl that couldn't have been any older than Marion was herself.

One of the men followed, his voice much more relaxed though it was still clear he was having to read word by word. "You have to believe me when I say you mean nothing to her. You're an object of you interest, the new toy. She'll toss you aside soon enough, once she realizes you're no different from the rest of us."

"So you toss her aside first, hm? Seems a little premature." The woman who spoke then was ancient to Marion's eyes, especially so in comparison to those others that were gathered. But her voice echoed with a kind of assurance that blurred the line between acting and reality. "Quiet now, we have a visitor."
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Lies Were Their Art

Postby Marion Kay on May 16th, 2015, 8:10 pm

Marion was sure most people died well before they could ever reach the age that this woman had. Her slender frame, noticeable despite the heavy winter cloak she bore, betrayed brittle bones, as did slight tremors in the hands that lowered her pages of script. And those green eyes projected too much kindness for all the years they'd seen. But maybe that was part of an act. One could never be sure with these kinds of people, who measured success in how believable their lies were. Lies were their art, after all, and Marion -- whose one ambition in life was to spread truth -- was pained to admit she was becoming one of them.

Her physical presence was an interruption. Some in the group grew agitated, some relaxed. Whatever they did, it was done in tandem; the strange kind of choreography that can only be born from seasons of familiarity. Marion was an intruder here.

But that didn't matter.

She was an intruder in most places, and people simply had no idea.

" Hi." The sound was almost a purr, drawn out and languid, with an almost self-satisfied grin to match. It was the best she could do the mask the knot of displeasure she felt growing in her gut. Humility was a subtle expression, too difficult to imitate, especially for one who only genuinely felt it on the rarest occasions. She wasn't about to try to pull it off now. These people would see through something like that easily enough. That was the thing about liars: it took one to know one.

People in the group had begun to shift, scuffing their boots through the soft layer of snow or shuffling through their scripts to count how many pages they had left to go. Some leaned to mumble into their neighbors' ears, but most raised expectant eyebrows or peered curiously at their unexpected guest. A couple had started to move as if to greet her (an akalak and one of the strange scaled women she'd seen a surprising number of in the city), their lips parting in preparation to speak, but Marion continued with a small, dismissive flourish of her hand. "My name's Marion," she said, as if it were some kind of explanation.

There was a prick at the back of her mind, a shadow of a suggestion: that she shouldn't give her true name. It was a relic, a leftover suspicion from Sunberth, where a name could only travel so far before it got its owner killed. "I'm, ah, new to the city." The end of the sentence lilted up, almost turning it into a question while Marion debated whether or not to offer a hand in greeting to someone. She didn't mind, though -- it conveyed a sense of uncertainty that she probably wouldn't have been able to otherwise fake. And she ultimately decided it was better to keep her hands to her self.

The old woman was first to reply, her fingers lacing. "A pleasure dear, of course -- and not to sound rude, but do you have some business with the theater?" There was a warmth in her tight-lipped smile, Marion saw. And something else? Mischief and a knowing, too. Marion was simultaneously drawn in and put off by it. The woman glanced around the small crowd for a moment before adding, with a lowered voice and wry twinkle in her eye, "I assume you aren't someone's courier. Not one of our someones', at least. "
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Lies Were Their Art

Postby Marion Kay on May 22nd, 2015, 6:38 pm

Marion felt a coiling in her chest and her tongue grasped for a response. She wanted a clever reply, some kind of banter. She wanted to play her game, the twisting and the turning and the subtle (or, sometimes, no so subtle) machinations to which only she was ever truly privy. In this place, where the outcome was out of her hands and frosted terraces seemed to echo the troupe's quiet judgement, she needed that control. But nothing came and, in this situation, did it even matter? She needed a job, it was as simple as that. Not even she could go without income here. She needed a job, no matter how much it she hated it.

And she did hate it. That should be reason alone for them to welcome her, she reasoned -- that she could stand here in her hate and have them be none the wiser. The curl of a smile danced at the corners of her lips, the kind she had practiced time after time as a child when people asked questions she didn't want to answer ("Who are your parents?" "Can I call you Mary?" "Why don't you talk more?"). When she spoke, her mouth felt stale:

"I'm here about a job."

There was only a moment of smug silence, a sharp electricity in the air, before someone gave a short bark of a laugh. "Are we sure she isn't a courier?"

And like that, Marion's mask cracked, a bitter imperfection. They're not taking you seriously. The arch of her false smile warped easily, almost naturally, into a snarl. Cold blue eyes latched onto the offender, a girl who Marion felt looked disturbing much like herself, despite the scales lining her brow. The wry grin fell from the other girl's face, and in she appeared very suddenly uncomfortable. So did everyone else who was close enough to catch the vaguely dangerous glint in Marion's expression before she caught herself. In what was an impressive display of willpower by her own standards, Marion bit back the scathing reply that sat lingering like poison on the tip of her tongue. Instead she averted her gaze down and to the left, dragging a delicate hand across her face for a moment while she regained her hold over the anger that always seemed to lurk just below surface level.

Those who had started to chuckle at the other girl's comment shifted. Someone made an anxious humming noise at the back of their throat. When Marion looked back up, she met them with a rueful tight-lipped grin, and her words were clipped. "I'm looking to be an actress. The Labor office pointed me to you guys."

The old woman cleared her throat. "Do you have any experience in theater?" Arthritic fingers wrestled with the shoulders of her cloak for a moment before one of the young men reached over to help her adjust it.

"Yes," Marion lied easily and without hesitation. And when those twinkling, too-knowing eyes lit with an unasked query, she had an answer. "I was trained in Alvadas." Short and simple, because Marion was not an idiot. The more details she gave and the fewer truths she spoke, the greater the risk of being found out. A hollow feeling, foreign and indecipherable, began to spread in her gut, and she instantly had the peculiar sense that she was on the wrong side of an interrogation.

Name-dropping her home town (though it was no home to her) seemed to be a good decision. It held a some kind of weight here, a power over this liars' haven -- and should she have expected any different? Appraising murmurs made their way around the troupe, as if her unspoken rage only moments ago at having her legitimacy questioned was suddenly not so uncalled for.

But perhaps she shouldn't have admitted as much. Perhaps she should have played down her talent, or lack thereof. For when the old woman' s eyebrows shot up, she knew it was only now that her skill would truly be called into question, and the group would find themselves sorely disappointed.
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Lies Were Their Art

Postby Marion Kay on May 23rd, 2015, 12:20 am

Someone shoved their script into her hands and Marion glared down at it, lips pursed with the irritating realization that she'd made a mistake -- that while she certainly had the confidence, she had neither the skill nor the know-how to back up her claims.

"You wouldn't mind giving us a demonstration, then?"

"Of course not," Marion assured in too hard of a tone. She flipped through the pages, biting her lip as if in thought, playing like she knew what she was doing. She didn't, and she felt herself floundering even if she could mask it with a carefully neutral face. What was she supposed to be looking for? What did they want? Just a quick back-and forth playing off one of the other actors, or should she go for one of the longer, dramatic soliloquies?

"There's a bit in the first scene of act three," suggested one of the akalak after Marion took too long to find a suitable part, "between Acor and Thumas. I can read Acor's part, if you'd like." A couple people thought this was a good idea, and nodded. The akalak offered the kind of grin that made Marion want to wipe it off of him, too wolfish despite his wide, froggish mouth and the contradictory sincerity in it.

Papers rustled as she lazily thumbed through them, and after a cursory glance at the part in question Marion nodded her acquiescence. "Alright then." She had no better ideas, after all, but nonetheless tilted her lips in a reluctant gesture as if she might. She was a bluffer. Maybe she'd be better trying her hand at gambling rather than something that actually required her to back up her words with actions.

A moment later and she was standing opposite the akalak, her shoulders squared as if to challenge his own broad frame. The other actors formed a lopsided circle of sorts around them, their eyes lighting upon her with too expectation. And the scene began.

"I shouldn't have said anything," Marion started, reading the words plainly from the page. She frowned -- outwardly because the character Thumas was supposed to be displeased here, and inwardly because this simply did not feel right to her. Scripts were a foreign tool to her, her meager strengths instead laying in improvisation.

"I guess not."

She paused, following the written cue. "Please, Acor, be careful around her. This does not..." Another pause, one that felt too manufactured on her lips, and realized she should probably not keep her eyes glued to the paper. She looked up and into the akalak's face, her pale gaze burning into his own with as much quiet alarm as she felt was warranted in this imagined situation. And then she realized, not two ticks later, that she didn't remember what the next line was. Mentally cursing herself, she glanced back down to find her place, leaving the scripted moment of silence to stretch too uncomfortably long. "I urge you, be careful. Something is off about this. It stinks of crookedness and collusion."

"I will be. She's up to something, I'm sure, but don't jump to conclusions."

"You didn't want --"

A single soft clap interrupted, sending a twinge of annoyance up Marion's neck. Barely three lines in and already they'd seen enough? She knew what that meant, and turned to meet the old woman's dubious expression, jaw clenching and unclenching. She knew what she was going to say. She'd already felt it, the tick she'd realized her mistake:

"Not bad," the old woman sighed, not trying to hide the disappointment in her gaze. Marion didn't fit what they imagined an Alvadan performer to be. Small wonder, sneered the voice in her mind, that cynical contributor that Marion vaguely and only sometimes recognized as her own self. Distantly, she felt the anger that stirred in her. There was an indignation there, the quiet rage of inadequacy. Still not good enough. Marion watched as the words formed at the woman's lips. "But I'm sorry, we just don't have an open position for you."

Still a failure, something within her gloated, with a glee that left Marion chilled and set her hands to shaking.

She wasn't sure why people said rage was white-hot. To her it had always been cold, calculated, impossibly distant, like the gods of her childhood fascination.

She must have appeared dumbstruck. Someone tentatively took the script form her hand with a whispered apology that sounded wholly unapologetic, and the group began to move away from her awkwardly, as if they had expected her to already be on her way.
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Lies Were Their Art

Postby Marion Kay on May 23rd, 2015, 7:00 am

Marion was silent for a long moment, a shiver caught in her spine.

Then, "Wait." The sound was hoarse as it escaped her lips, too quiet, too reminiscent of the girl she'd once been, and the girl she never wanted to be again. But she wanted this, no matter how trivial it was. She would not fail. She refused to fail.

She would not be denied.

"Wait," she repeated, louder, more forceful, and with the edge of a growl. A command. And wait they did, turning to face her once more. Some gave her suspicious looks, some just looked annoyed. And others, like the old woman, seemed to contain boundless patience, their expressions somewhere on the positive side of neutral.

She let herself relax somewhat once she was sure she had their attention once more, unballing fists she hadn't known were clenched and pushing her shoulders backwards. There was determination in her expression, but a desperation too. It was a painful combination.

All of them were waiting for her to say something.

"I can morph," she stated bluntly, and her world shifted. It needed to be done, but just like that she had tipped her hand, and two both of the secrets she had kept so heavily guarded for the past year were now in the hands of complete strangers. They had her name. And now they had this.

It left her feeling naked and insecure, and Marion could feel the frozen tendrils of hatred snaking through her chest. She knew why they were there and why they were so prevalent. Fear was born of hate. When one left, the other was left unmasked and raw.

Once more Marion's gazed latched on to the old woman, who raised a finger to her chin pensively.

"Care for another demonstration?" she asked at length.

Marion had them at that. There was no way they could refuse her if she played this right -- she was a far better morpher than she was an actor, and she could infer how valuable a power like that could be in theater. This theater seemed to understand the power and artistry of bringing illusions to life, and it left her wondering why Alvadan theater was so prized when it failed to see the beauty in authenticity.

With the go-ahead, Marion shed her cowl and then her coat, dropping them in the snow and exposing herself to the winter chill. It reached through her, shirt and flesh both, binding with the icy tendrils of fury that flowed within her and dragging them out, cleansing them to crystalline purity. Slowly and deliberately, she rolled up her sleeves, exposing her forearms to the cold in a way that was clearly meant to be a show. The actors watched her with guarded eyes, either uncertain that she could truly do as she said or uncertain that she would not harm herself (or them) in the process. Her eyes drifted closed to them, arms held out and palms up as if she were some kind of savior.

She breathed in. And she breathed out.

Her djed was right there, ice water in her veins. It brushed against her mind, teasing, testing, tempting. But didn't dare touch it, not yet.

Instead she focused on her chest as it rose and fell, the pressure of the air, the strain in her lungs, the sting in her nose from the dry winter air. She could picture her body in her mind -- pale, feline, and deceptively delicate. It was her canvas. Blank. Clean. Limitless.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

She brushed a mental finger down one strand of djed, feeling it tremble in anticipation. But it wasn't the one she was looking for now. Skin. That's the one she wanted. She willed it forward, drawing it out, and slid her consciousness along it, searching. When she found what she was looking for, she pulled, forcing the strand to bend to her wishes. There was a prickling across her skin, an uncomfortable itching that threatened to draw her concentration back to the physical shell. She paused for a moment, allowing the sensation to settle before continuing.

Moments later a warmth blossomed over her. Marion let go, opening her eyes to examine her work. Fur, soft and blonde, had sprouted across her skin in a thick coat. It covered her arms and the backs of her hands, spreading across her chest and creeping up her neck and cheeks.

Pride bloomed in her breast, warm and fluttering. She had done this. She had changed the very composition of what was real -- and that was worth more than any actor's performance.

With a cat-like and self-satisfied smile lurking on the edge of her lips, her gaze lifted to face those of the group. At least one person was struck with some variation of fear but apparently hid it well. Some of the actors met her with looks of awe, their own lips hanging slightly parted and their brows raised in surprise. One or two appeared mildly disinterested. But most regarded her with an appraising curiosity, shuffling slightly closer for a better view. From their expressions it was difficult to tell whether this was their first experience with the magic or if they were simply trying to gauge her skill with it, but Marion reasoned it must have been a mixture of both.

But it was a simple trick, and Marion knew full well she was capable of pushing it farther.

Humming low and steady at the back of her throat, she reached into the flow of her djed once again, grazing over silvery tendrils to single out one particular aspect. She focused on it firmly, willing it to action, and with that a blackness washed over both fur and skin, spreading like oil from one swath of flesh to the next. In a matter of seconds, only cold blue eyes and flashing white teeth were left in a field of ebony, the effect enhanced by the contrast of her white blouse against black pants.

"Well," breathed the old woman. "Isn't that something."

And Marion knew she was in.
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Marion Kay
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Lies Were Their Art

Postby Aoren on May 27th, 2015, 5:48 pm

Marion

Experience
Skill XP Earned
Philosophy +3 EXP
Observation +2 EXP
Acting +3 EXP
Subterfuge +4 EXP
Intimidation +2 EXP
Rhetoric +1 EXP
Meditation +1 EXP
Leadership +2 EXP
Negotiation +2 EXP
Persuasion +1 EXP
Morphing +1 EXP








Lores
Lore Earned
Philosophy: On Lies and Living
Location: Riverfall Amphitheatre
Subterfuge: Details Create Room For Suspicion



Notes :
If you have comments, questions or concerns please approach me at your earliest convenience. Don't forget to edit/delete your request in the request thread!
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