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Alea tries to get some information from her arch-nemesis: the Library.

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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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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Alea Davenport on September 5th, 2015, 5:29 pm

Fall 13, 515

Alea had seen libraries before. She thought the word meant the place with the most books. She had thought that the cottage-sized building covered wall to floor in bookshelves had more books than anyone could possibly need. How, then could it be possible that an even larger building existed, covered in even more books? She stared in dismay at the intimidating shelves, without even a clue of where to look first.

The obvious solution would be to ask for help, but...she was still skittish, and unsure of anyone in this strange city. It had taken her he entire morning to even find the library, peering at various buildings and landmarks, and only accepting directions from people who approached her. Now that she was inside the library, she still needed directions, but she was not ready to interact with another intimidating blue man. She ducked into a nearby row of shelves before anyone could talk to her.

Alea was supposed to be looking at the titles of books, trying to find something that might have information she could use, but she was more concerned with sneaking through the shelves, peering around corners to make sure no one was looking when she crossed aisles into another forest of books. Soon, she spotted a staircase leading down, and before she thought too hard about it, she darted into the stairwell, tiptoeing down into even more books. She crept around the book-lined walls, instinctively looking for the quietest, most secluded corner, where she could hide until her parents stopped looking for her...or...wait, her parents weren't here, well, at any rate it wouldn't hurt to hide until she could decide what to do next.
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Branimir on September 7th, 2015, 2:54 pm

Even though Branimir hadn't been about Riverfall all that long, the Valkalah Library had been one of those places he'd immediately been drawn to and come back to again and again. At the very least every other day if that was enough. As such the old librarian whose name he'd never bothered to get had grown accustomed to Branimir's cooly polite ways of declining his help and stopped offering it. He needed, so the architect argued, to discover the underlying method to the library's structure himself. Integrate himself into its pattern so as to eventually learn to navigate it blindly.

Today was not that day where he would arrive at the final epiphany that closed the pattern like a keystone crowned and connected an arch. Today, the Akalak maze stumped him. Deep down inside, Branimir cursed himself for even considering the need for this petched bit of lore, but at the same time, he was too much of a perfectionist. "Riverfall Fauna..." he breathed, "There has to be a primer on what grows well in a pot around here. It cannot be all turnips and berries and things that grow outside the walls, can it now?"

Then again, he had not simply missed a single book matching the thing he sought, Branimir had passed by the entire gardening section. Descending the spiral staircase, the young man reasoned to himself that such a bizarre bit of information such as gardening might be nestled among the more arcane tomes hidden below. Probably stuck between accounts of long-dead bloodlines and a treatise on the relation between the plumage of some local bird and its mating behavior. Something along those equally trivial lines.

Trivial, but not irrelevant, he forcefully reminded himself, absently twisting the leather cord tying the little piece of silver to his right wrist. The leather cutting into skin and flesh cleared his mind, as it always did, slicing away distractions and impurities and leaving little but his purpose and the one truth: Knowledge was knowledge. Every little piece of it had intrinsic value, and none of it was wasted time or effort to acquire. However. Branimir also had to admit that there were pieces of knowledge that were not currently desirable to him. All he wanted to know was which flowers, vines or bushes would grow well with two feet of soil and a lot of sun and salty breezes.

Branimir was, after all, a perfectionist. And if he intended to design houses with elevated garden areas then he would make sure he knew that this was feasible and not merely a nice idea. Stepping off the last step into the basement, the young architect halted his train of thought. He would need to find something he could work with and a distacted mind would not help him to do so. His task was clear, it was simply a matter of finding what he needed. Step by measured step, he paced past aisles of bookshelves, taking note of the references.

Athletic exercises using a peculiar weight filled with water took up a whole shelf. From the look of the state of the books therein, this had been a fad among the Akalak a hundred years ago or more. The next shelf dealt with even more obscure ideas of physical education and the section seemed to go on forever before suddenly turning into a whole shelf dedicated to cooking for Symenestra. A shelf which contained exactly one book, and that was enough of a curiosity to make Branimir stop and inch towards the book, stretching his fingers ever so gingerly to reach it, as if afraid this was a hallucination about to dissolve into thin air.
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Alea Davenport on September 7th, 2015, 6:29 pm

Alea's heart jumped into her throat when she heard footsteps, and an adrenaline spike sharpened her senses as she ducked behind a shelf and peered through the book stacks at the man intruding upon her seclusion. She did not think she had been noticed, which gave her leisure to observe her intruder. She crouched down reflexively, but it was probably unnecessary, as this man was somewhat taller than she, and most people had a tendency to notice things mostly at eye-level.

The first thing she noticed was, this man was not blue. Moreover, compared to the blue men she'd seen so far, this one looked...rather scrawny. Bigger than Alea, sure, but pretty much everyone was bigger than Alea. And she'd gone up against fellas even bigger and more muscley that the blue men! Not that that ever turned out well, but still, she was sure she could take this guy with minimal bruises...if it came to that.

In fact, thinking about it, it was probably best to start with the upper hand. She had the element of surprise for now, but if she tried a traditional verbal greeting, she would lose that, and be forced to face him with no obvious advantage. Not that she couldn't still win, but it might be less decisive, and she was not in the mood to present the sort of weakness demonstrated by merely asking for help.

With her decision made, her heart steadied as she settled into a sense of stalking prey. Keeping here eyes on his progress, she waited until he had passed the shelf she was hiding behind. Luckily, his back was turned, and he appeared to be focused on something ahead of him. Perfect for Alea.

With no sound escaping her mouth, she took a few running steps and leaped onto the man's back, throwing her arms over his shoulders and clinging tightly to his torso. She wrapped her legs around his waist for good measure, and then, hoping he didn't scream and drown out her words, hissed, "I need information, and you're going to help me."
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Branimir on September 10th, 2015, 4:26 pm

Branimir didn't scream when the girl's weight impacted his back. Miraculously, he didn't simply keel over and sprawl flat on his face either. The young man buckled, stumbled forward into the bookshelf in front of him and luckily for everyone involved, the Akalak craftsmanship was sound enough not to topple over and potentially lay waste to the entire room by knocking over the next and so on. Branimir would have liked to react in some meaningful way to the sudden assault and the asinine demand that followed, but he was neither physically powerful nor mentally acute enough to come up with a solution other than to bear the indignity of some mad creature attaching itself to him.

"Here is your information: You are about twenty pounds overweight." It took more than a few heartbeats to come up with, and it was possibly the lamest jab he had ever taken at anyone, but it was the first step to reclaiming his dignity and maybe rid himself of the beast on his back. The thing's voice suggested it was female and females of any species, Branimir reasoned, were sensitive regarding their body. For some, an appealing physicality was all they had, for others it was merely a point of pride. No matter, it was the one thing he could seize on and take a stab at. Not divlulging to the assailant that he was distressed, about to keel over and very possibly afraid for his life was his own point of pride.

Instead, he would show defiance, if only through words. It was supposed to work on dogs and other animals. Not to show fear was the first step in dealing with a threat. Unfortunately, the next step would involve a big stick which Branimir had left in his room. Besides, swinging a stick at someone clinging to his back seemed like an impractical proposition to the young man. Hoping that his first verbal jab had maybe hit home in some degree, he followed up with a more sensible peace offer: "If there is anything else you wish to know you might care to dismount and face me."

As the words came over his lips, he wondered where else in the world people had to ask others to dismount off of them. Maybe Kelvics who were beasts of burden by nature... Strangling the digressing line of thinking, Branimir struggled to straighten his posture as he waited for a reply from his rider.
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Alea Davenport on September 11th, 2015, 1:42 am

Much to Alea's surprise, she was not thrown bodily off the shoulder of her victim. She'd been clinging for dear life, assuming that anyone she attacked in this city full of muscles on legs would be a proper threat. However, this man's reaction put her more in mind of...well, her sister, actually. She used to jump on her sister's back when they were children, which had been received with similar aplomb. That is, a bit of staggering, a touch of annoyance, and a request to please get off. Sometimes there was even an implied "Or Else."

Alea's childhood was approximately the second-happiest part of her life, and she took refuge in the memory of playing with her sister. Her mind very carefully arranged not to remember the uncomfortable fact that her sister was now dead. It equally carefully arranged not to remember that this stranger might potentially react rather out of character for a sibling.

Alea released her new friend and dropped to her feet with a light thud. She danced around in front of Branimir so she could see his face. Her own held a sheepish grin, framed by tangles of long, dirty-blonde hair that might have been brushed sometime in the last several days. Contrary to his comment, she actually looked noticeably underfed.

She bounced slightly on the balls of her feet, torn between more horseplay, and remembering what she was here for. "I want to see maps!" she said, more than a hint of childish glee and excitement flooding her voice (a tone which hadn't been there a moment ago when she'd jumped on his back). "Do you think we can find Taldera? Ooh, or what about home? Do they have home on a map?"
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Branimir on September 11th, 2015, 6:22 pm

Branimir for his part watched the girl, and a girl she was, rather than a young woman, through narrowed eyes. A girl, scrawny and with the awkwardness of someone who hadn't quite grown into their body even though she seemed well in control of it. A year or two ago, the young man would have looked quite the same to an outsider, he thought. More important than the physical immaturity he thought to see, however, was her quite obvious naiveté to, well, seemingly everything. Words and directions for one, for there were signs aplenty to guide a visitor around the library for those willing to see them.

However, that useful bliss might have its advantages, the young man thought to himself. Not in the sleazy kind, but a coolly practical way that might have proved no less frightening if one were to peruse those thoughts. He could get something out of that girl, he thought. Maybe later rather than sooner, but right now he had exactly one ally in this city of brutes. And while the girl wasn't much, she had to have some useful talent to her. Or maybe not, but the only way to find out was to conduct a thorough analysis, which in turn required time.

Branimir forced the faintest of smile to mar his lips while the girl grinned on, likely unaware of the gears grinding away just behind the architect's forehead. Taking stock of her words as he had of her person before, he simply shook his head, as neutrally as he could hope to utter a no. "First things first. I am Branimir. And who might you be, young lady?" he uttered with all the nonchalance he could muster, but leaving a hint of the strain trying to be nice caused him. He might even get a headache later tonight if he had to keep up this charade, and it wasn't even much of one.

Straightening the vest that lay over his shirt, he even added the faintest of bows to underscore his introduction. If the girl wanted to play, he'd play. But he'd make sure to dictate the rules of engagement, and maybe, just maybe figure out if she could be of any use. Maybe he could pawn her off to an Akalak in a pinch, they seemed to import women from all over the world. Though he might not get much for the scrawny thing. Still regarding her, his smile deepened as it became more genuine. Branimir could certainly use a bit of extra coin.
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Alea Davenport on September 14th, 2015, 12:24 am

OOCIn case it's not clear, Alea is 19 years old, but she may be acting much younger. For...reasons ;)

Alea's friendly grin melted into an incredulous grimace of impatience. Why were grown-ups so intent on doing things the proper way? It was just a lot of nonsense and unimportant information that stalled from the more urgent tasks. If it was really important for them to know each other's names, they could get around to it later, after something useful had already come out of it.

"Who might I be?" she asked, her voice dangerously quiet. "Who might I be?" It increased in volume until she was almost shouting, "I might be the person who grinds you face into the floor if you don't stop wasting my time! Maps! Now!"

She placed her hands on her hips in what she fulling intended to be an intimidating posture. Of course, given her height, and certain child-like demeanor, an observer could be forgiven for making the mistake of thinking that she was merely having a harmless tantrum. Not forgiven by Alea, of course, which is really the only thing that mattered in this situation.
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Branimir on September 14th, 2015, 4:37 pm

Had Branimir not been, well, Branimir, he might have laughed at the girl in front of him. For one, she seemed hardly intimidating and beyond that she clearly lacked the physicality of a proper bruiser. The young man had known, suffered and ultimately transcended enough bullies in his life to be sure to know the type. And they did not come in the shape of little girls. And yet, he did not laugh. Instead, he instinctually shushed at Alea who refused to give up her name. Libraries were, after all, places of silence.

"I think I shall call you Zinty then. You know, after the Alvina." A change of pace, a change of tactics seemed reasonable. Branimir would find the proper way of dealing with this girl yet. Likening her to the Alvina of stars seemed like a non-threatening bit of flattery. Maybe she did like sparkly things. Maybe the comment went right over her head. At any rate, if it was maps the girl wanted, they were easy enough to come by in theory. Idly, Branimir had to wonder whether the girl could read and if not what the petch she was doing in a place of books.

Straightening his clothes for the second or third time after the assault from behind, the young man turned on his heel and waved for the girl to follow him. "Now then, Zinty," he began, speaking at a carefully chosen level of volume, as he slowly stepped away from her and towards the stairs winding up, "Down here, the librarian keeps the more obscure subjects. Since maps are somewhat... needful to the general public, you would find them up above." Measuring twenty steps and three to the foot of the stairs, Branimir paused and turned towards the girl behind him, curious to her reaction to his address and still wondering whether she was illiterate. He would find out soon enough, presumably.

"Coming, Zinty?" as he worded that last question, Branimir chose to add emphasis on the name he'd chosen for the girl. If she took to it, then so be it. If she resented it, well, then she better give him a name to work with. Or maybe she'd continue to be irate and nonsensically hostile. The boy was hardly a master of reading people or manipulation. He barely understood people most days, strange girls needing maps least of all, but he obviously had to start somewhere. This person in front of him being who they were, they hardly made for a good subject to experiment on. But the girl was all he had available right now, so he would work with that.

If only he'd thought to bring a notebook.
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Alea Davenport on September 15th, 2015, 12:26 am

Alea was about to throw up her hands in frustration at the idiosyncrasies of adults in libraries, but immediately after the shushing that might have been a reflex, the Bran-man started behaving more reasonably. (She had started calling him that in her head after deciding it was too much effort to be bothered to remember the whole name of someone she wasn't even sure she liked yet.)

She perked up her head at his next words, and replied with a shy enthusiasm, "I've never had a nickname before!" He started walking away before she could say anything else, and she trailed behind him, trying to hear his words as they walked back toward the steps, which was a bit difficult since he was facing away from her and speaking in an unnecessarily low voice. She was less nervous about the possibility being seen by other people now. She was supposed to be here, just like everybody else, and if anyone had a problem with that they could take it up with the Bran-man.

When he finally paused for breath and turned around, she blurted out the question that had been burning in her for the last whole chime. "What's an Alvina?" Her eyes brimmed with curiosity, and as she spoke the corners of her open mouth raise slightly into a tentative smile. Without noticing, she started picking at the bracelet made of teeth that was attached to her left wrist. A black half-sun-shaped tattoo was plainly visible on her right hand.
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The Place With Even More Books

Postby Branimir on September 15th, 2015, 1:53 pm

"Well, now you have a nickname." By library standards, it was almost an exclamation rather than a somber statement of fact. And in that it was also just another veil Branimir drew over his mounting frustration with the girl. The things she should agree to, she was stubborn on. And those things he threw at her to irk her, she embraced. This girl he'd dubbed Zinty by way of a touch of mockery of what he thought of as her childish nature was just plain wrong-headed. Of course, the level of frustration he was presented with amounted to a challenge. And if presented with a challenge he thought he could beat, the young man had a hard time denying himself the displeasure of attempting it.

His gloved right hand resting on the railing as he still stood tall at the foot of the stairs, the architect stood ready to anticipate the next hit, but to his surprise, the girl's question failed to irk him. So she had proven to be even more cloistered than he had thought. Or simply as thick as the foundation of the Zeltivan University (and in Branimir's mind that was hardly a mixed or plain wrongly put metaphor, never mind that it was actually a simile). But she had the strength of character to admit to it and moreover the good sense to ask after the thing she lacked knowledge or understanding of. In that way, she was hardly being irksome right now.

"The Alvina are the children of the Gods." the young man explained in his library voice. "Like humans, the Gods know love, or sometimes political alliances from which there spring children. Some stories even tell of Alvina springing from Gods' dalliances with mortals, but enough other stories tell of a Goddess simply creating a child from nothing but their will and power. The main difference between a God and an Alvina as I understand it is that the Alvina are creatures of this world rather than the world inhabited by the Gods." As he spoke, his left hand took to short, smart gestures that not so much described what he spoke of but set a tact to which his speech flowed.

"The city of Nyka, far to the northeast from here, is ruled by four such divinities while another is said to walk among the people of Lhavit. And her name is Zintila..." In finishing, Branimir rested his hand again and gave the girl an expectant look. In the meantime however, she seemed preoccupied with the rather barbaric seeming bracelet she sported. His own curiosity peaked, he had to wonder, "Are you wearing your baby teeth on your wrist?"
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