Completed [Nitrozian Estate] Dreams of Gossamer

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A city floating in the center of a lake, Ravok is a place of dark beauty, romance and culture. Behind it all though is the presence of Rhysol, God of Evil and Betrayal. The city is controlled by The Black Sun, a religious organization devoted to Rhysol. [Lore]

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[Nitrozian Estate] Dreams of Gossamer

Postby Evarista on August 14th, 2016, 4:27 pm

7th of Summer, 516 A.V.
Tap. Tap. Tap.

A fingertip struck the table. In the silence, a steady metronome.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Evarista stared at the jar on the desk in front of her. The orb weaver inside didn't mind the noise. They were best buddies now. Neighbors. Confidants.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

Another night of complete silence. She hated the bustle of daytime, but this silence drove her mad. It was a good feeling, though. It seemed like everyone else had died. She was the only one left.

Tap. Tap. Tap.

The orb weaver's chitin glistened in the moonlight. Such a beautiful creature. such a beautiful mind. So indifferent to the horrors, grief and melancholy around it.

Tac. Tac. Tac.

The tapping assumed a pointed tone. Her own fingers began to shift without any conscious input. Black, slick digits struck the lacquered surface before suddenly stopping. No. This didn't cut it. Internally chiding herself for not paying attention, she returned her fingers to human form. A slow rearrangement as the black chitinous plates retreated and dissolved into soft, pallid human skin. Not that she liked the human skin; she really didn't. But it was time to change her attitude. It was time to take this more seriously.

She wasn't going to progress the way she using her abilities now. It was not art, it was not science. I was just lethargy that took form. Idleness, as if her mind was detached from her body, leaving the repugnant piece of meat behind. Seeing it twist and turn, indifferently. It felt good, but it wasn't enough anymore. Like a drug, entering into a habit built tolerance. It wasn't exciting anymore, didn't bring the same euphoria it originally brought. It became the norm. She hated the norm.

Standing up from the armchair with a jerk, the girl paced. Back and forth. Wall to wall. She had long ago picked out the two furthest points in the room, walking between them and touching the wall before turning around. The walls had black marks on those spots from years and years of this touching. It made her relax in the past, but it was a habit now, just something normal. It was disconcerting to realize the diminishing returns on things that felt good. The body was never happy with anything for long. It always needed more. Taking, taking, and taking until it couldn't handle the strain, but still wanting more. It was like that with alcohol, and it was like that with morphing. That was fine. Evarista hand no problem with this degradation. Self-restraint was just another form of suffering, except that it seemed even more stupid to her.

She moved the jar from the desk to the windowsill, throwing open the window. The moon and the stars bathed the glass gently. Leth was a merciful master. Dropping to her knees in front of the window, she girl gripped the jar tightly and looked intently at the creature inside. It was perfectly at eye level. Her nose pressed against the cold surface, the only thing separating her from the ever-indifferent orb weaver. Why did people say spiders were ugly? It looked rather nice to her. Aesthetically pleasing, even. Such complexity, such organic architecture.

The anxiety set in. What should she do now? Morphing just the hands and feet has become boring. She had thought about the next step often, but always procrastinated. It was daunting, and she had no idea where to begin or what to actually do. Only the desire, the objective, has formed clearly in her mind.

She wanted to create her own web. Spin her own silk. Her very own art. Human art always left her indifferent, but this was appealing. Something she could actually make with her body, which was so useless in its natural form. Oh, the things she would do once she came to grips with this...

But it wasn't easy. How do spiders even make their webs? Just staring at one locked up in a jar didn't provide much insight. Although she has seen this fellow make flawless webs at the hanging garden where she caught him, she didn't pay attention to the details. She couldn't afford to, really. Catching the orb weaver was hassle enough. Being bitten by it would create more complications. She would be crushed by grief if the chamberlain decided to throw out or even kill her eight-legged drinking buddy. So, letting it out of the jar was unfortunately not an option. But keeping it in the jar wouldn't get her morphing experiments anywhere. Unless...

Evarista had almost forgotten about it, but it suddenly struck her just now. She did know a little bit of auristics from her short and bumpy ride at the Institute. She was not at all in the habit of using it, as it gave her little more than headaches. Still, in this situation, it seemed like a Rhysol-sent opportunity. Her nose still pressed against the jar, Evarista strained her eyes to 'see'.

Nothing happened. Bah, what was this! She could do it during the lessons! Not on the first try, admittedly. Maybe she needed a drink to help her concentrate. Bothersome to think in those routes, but unavoidable at this point in her life. She needed a drink, and that was final. The intrusive thought could not be chased away once it appeared. It could only be drowned.

Briefly leaving her friend in peace, the girl busied herself at the desk, pouring up a quarter-glass of whisky, and took a swig. Just enough to wet her lips... ahhh. That heat sliding down her throat made all the difference. Putting the glass down, fully intent on returning to it later, she rejoined the spider at the windowsill.

Knees to the floor. Nose to the glass. Eyes on the crawlie. Second try. One swig of whisky wasn't enough to give her the buzz anymore, but it chased away any sleepiness. She was actually able to concentrate now. Squinting, she stared at her striped prisoner without blinking. Soaking in the form, the contours. The whole and the nuances. The moon was a poor source of light, but that was a good thing. The silver-black veil of a clear night was perfect to 'see'. Transparent hues began emerging. Dim, dirty white colors, emanating from the angled form. A hidden corona emerging from the air, always carried, seldom seen.

A few seconds in, Evarista's eyes began to water, and she had to blink. When she opened her eyes again, the aura was gone, fragile concentration broken. It wasn't as breathtaking as she had expected. The spider's aura was decidedly modest compared to the aura of most other things she has seen. Dirty, pale, flowing lazily yet thinly, like a swirling puddle of slime. There was little complexity, but that was good. Great, even. Exactly what she wanted. Finding the information she needed within that puddle seemed attainable, because the puddle had a bottom. The dazzling circus of a sapient aura was pretty to look at for a moment, but she could never glean anything useful from it. There was too much going on. Too much nonsense she was not at all interested in. This short séance inspired yet more adoration for simplicity.

It gave little more than that, though. She had to keep concentration longer if she wanted to derive any useful facts from the aura. Maybe it would be easier if she blocked out the surroundings better. Still staring into the jar, Evarista boxed in her vision by using her hands like blinders, blocking out the distant lights and movements outside of the window. Third try.

Now that she already had an idea about what the aura was supposed to look like, it went faster to recognize the smudged patterns as they surfaced around the spider. Accidentally blinking right at the beginning forced her to restart, rebuilding the picture again. She could finally 'see' something - the sensation of the exoskeleton if she would touch it. It felt much like her own morphed digits, so that was old news. However, she was somewhat pleased to know that her morphing had been so accurate already. What else was there? Emotions? A bug shouldn't have any. Maybe hunger. Was hunger an emotion? She fed the spider earlier today, so it wouldn't be hungry now in any case. Starvation sounded like something that should reflect on a creature's aura, so that was something she had to experiment with. Not now, though.

The eyes were watering again, this time more profusely. She closed them, wiping the few tears that rolled down her cheeks. Giving her eyelids a small massage, the girl stood upright to give her knees a break. Now, more whisky. Returning to the desk and picking up the glass, she slowly tilted it in her hand, sucking on the corner thoughtfully as the beverage entered her mouth in a tiny stream. Her goal was to find out how the orb weaver made its web. How does one see that in an aura? What was she supposed to look for? Sorting thorough a spider's aura wasn't going to be very difficult per se, but with her control of the magic, it would be tedious. That wasn't an obstacle, though. Chronically lazy as she was, some things just lit her work ethic on fire.

Evarista pulled the glass from her lips and looked at the contents. Just enough left for one more swig. This would be her final reward tonight. Returning the glass to the desk, she walked over the the windowsill, closing her eyes for a little while to prepare them for another go. Down on her knees, eyes open, hands as blinders again. Fourth try.

The viscous-looking aura began oozing out of the spider again, touching her senses lightly. The girl squinted, attempting to discern anything related to web-making. Alright... there's a special sac where the web is stored. No, not the web. There was no web yet. Just the substance that the web is made from, some kind of protein jelly. After that- ugh.

Attacked by a sudden wave of dizziness, Evarista quickly looked away, supporting herself on the windowsill to avoid losing balance. The discomfort dampened her morale a little, so she felt quite done for today. Still, it wasn't bad. No, it was amazing! She could use this! Create a compartment first, then fill it with liquid proteins. Those were the first steps. Next, she had to know how to turn that jelly into strings, and the secret of webmaking would be hers.

Modest as that piece of information was, there was no way she would have learned it without the use of aurisics. Physically dissecting the spider and rummaging around inside of it wouldn't have made any sense to her, anyway. And she'd probably get herself poisoned. And it'd be really messy. The slaves would probably complain about it to the chamberlain. The old man was usually forgiving of her eccentricities, but she didn't want to try his patience. Auristics were definitely the way to go.

Waiting for the nausea to pass, the girl wobbled up to her feet and headed for the desk. Final sip of that sweet, sweet whisky, and off to bed. Flopping down onto the sheets, she felt the fatigue begin to set in, eyes closing on their own. Holding them open at all was laborious. Was it due to being tired after the use of magic, or was it a side effect of auristics in particular? She didn't know, and she didn't really care about those details at the moment. If anything, it helped her fall asleep all the faster. Tomorrow was going to be a busy day.
Last edited by Evarista on September 14th, 2016, 7:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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[Nitrozian Estate] Dreams of Gossamer

Postby Evarista on August 14th, 2016, 6:26 pm

8th of Summer, 516 A.V.

The entire morning, Evarista couldn't stop thinking about the spider, the auristic experiments yesterday, and the morphing experiments to come. It was the only thing on her mind, and she was in a real hurry to finish the morning chores, forgetting to comb her hair and almost choking on her breakfast. Luckily, no one at the table paid any attention to that. As soon as she had all the routines checked off, the girl headed back to her room as she always did. She was so immersed in her fantasies that she didn't pay attention to her surroundings, walking through the corridors with automatic movements and inevitably colliding with someone as she rounded a corner. Rudely snapped back to reality, she only saw a multitude of empty cardboard boxes scatter all over the corridor. The slave that had carried them apologized timidly and began gathering his load again. Watching him stack the boxes in his arms, Evarista was struck by an idea, nonchalantly snatching one of the containers from his hands and resuming the trek to her room. The slave stood there confused for a second, but let out a sigh of resignation before resuming his own business. He had seen the black-haired lady do much stranger things, so he was content with not even trying to understand what she was up to.

Reaching the bedroom with the cardboard box in hand, Evarista sat down at the desk and inspected her trophy. The inside was reasonably clean and smelled faintly of tobacco. Good, this would do. Scissors... not necessary. An elongation of fingernails would do the trick. The chitinous material of her familiar transformation made it easy to form a hard, conical fingertip of just the right size, and with a sharp point. Great. Using her other hand, Evarista jammed the box onto her head like a helmet and inserted the claw between her face and the box, leaving two small marks on the inside of the cardboard to pinpoint the location of the future openings. Taking the box off, she carefully pushed the claw through the dented places, making two eyeholes. Pulling the container over her head again, she saw a much narrower world. Now she had great blinders without having to occupy her hands. Genius!

Fairly proud of that feat of engineering, Evarista went over to the windowsill and directed her gaze at the orb weaver. Now heavily equipped, it was time to resume this glorious undertaking. Inhaling the traces of tobacco, the girl began pulling the spider's aura into focus. When she did it yesterday, it felt like she was trying to pull the aura reading out of the body. That was incorrect. The aura was something separate, and it wasn't hidden in the flesh. Once she thought about it that way, forcing the colorful corona into view became easier. Now that her hands were free, she could assist herself a little. She traced the vision in front of her with her fingers and cupped it with her palms, as if it was something tangible. Maybe, eventually, it could become tangible for real.

Closing her eyes for a few moments to rest them, she rested her elbows on the windowsill next the spider jar, and looked out of the open window. Intrusive sunrays immediately wormed their way into the eyeholes, searing her eyes and forcing her gaze down onto the water below. She didn't look out during daytime often, and that was why. The sun wasn't nice to her, but it made the weaver's aura look a little different. Although, maybe she aura itself had changed during the night, she had no way of telling. The spider was nothing fancy, but it wasn't an inanimate object, so it still had its ups and downs. The girl wondered if it could feel boredom. Being locked in a jar all this time must have been depressing. It was also something she had to try and discern sometime in the future. For now, she just wanted it to spill the beans about webmaking. Back to business.

Again, she let the picture draw itself. Focusing not on the spider as a whole, but on the spider's silk-spinning organs. She strained to separate only the interesting parts from the whole, but it didn't work. Does each organ in a creature have its own aura? If you rip it out of the creature, maybe it would be easier, but that wasn't going to happen; she has already dismissed the idea as too difficult. Trying to pick out the details out of the living spider's aura grain by grain was going take time, and she was already sweating with impatience. Maybe she should take this thing to a more experienced aurist? Where would she find one, though? Going to the Institute with a bug in a jar and asking her old instructor was probably not going to work. The mages at the Institute were too self-important to entertain wasting their time on such nonsense, even if she offered money. There weren't any favors to call in from elsewhere, either. She was in this on her own. Grain by grain.

Evarista just keeps focusing on the aura. The color and texture were not as slimy as the first time, now showing rough corners and simple patterns. Ignore, shut out, forget the irrelevant. Look for the silk. Something was taking form. The glands. A fluid had to be created, metabolized laboriously by the body, stored in a sac for inevitable use. The orb weaver currently had none in store, having consumed it again to recover the nutrients. After the sac came the funnel, a gradually narrowing tube to prepare the fluid for the final processing. The conversion of the fluid to actual silk; that final step was hard to isolate. She'd have to rest for now, and perhaps try some practice with what knowledge she already had.

Without taking off the box, the girl went to her bed and flopped down lazily. Auristics were rather tiresome. It was barely past breakfast, and she was already not morning-fresh anymore. Twenty chimes of magic made her feel like she's been working the whole day already. That was probably the newness, though; she was just not used to it. Considering that, she came pretty far, being able confirm yesterday's observations. This should definitely be enough to start experimenting. Done with her quick rest, Evarista got up from the bed again and sat down at the desk, gaze traveling slowly across the bottled beverages displayed on it. Too early for them. The nectar was going to help her stay in working condition past midday, but she needed to exploit the sober hours to their fullest first.

The glands were the first step. The spider produced its silk in its the lower abdomen, but doing that as a human would be a little awkward. Where on the body to morph, then? Not the hands, she needed those the way they were. Inside of the mouth was probably best. It was sensitive enough to keep track of fine changes, and made it easy to conceal what she was doing if someone suddenly barged into the room. Slaves didn't do that, but parents sometimes did. Daddy was the last person who needed to see her half-transformed into a disgusting garden creeper, so some discretion was wise to observe. Licking the back of her teeth, she concentrated on the roof of her mouth, first generating a small empty bladder. She needed a place to keep the all-important liquid in, so that it didn't flow down her throat and choked her. That would have been a nasty way to die, even if not unbefitting her.

That was the easy part. The glands themselves gave her pause. She wasn't sure exactly what she was about to do, but she realized quickly that trying to be sure was the wrong approach. There was no way the would ever understand the full extent of the biological complexities. She wouldn't need to, either. She just needed to remember, re-envision and replicate the weaver's aura readings with her own body. Mindless mimicry was the only possible strategy, and it had its own appeal. Real animals don't ponder and philosophize, they just do, and they do well. Evarista grabbed the box on her head and spun it around, so that her eyes were facing a closed side. Complete darkness, perfect. The fewer distractions, the better.

Forming a pair of small glands at the roof of her mouth, Evarista traced them with the tip of her tongue carefully. Imitating the aura reading as well as she could, she put the grands to work and let the secretion trickle into the compartment she had made earlier. A cool, jelly-like substance slowly inflated the sac, eventually pressing against the upper row of teeth. Well, there was a result; she couldn't tell if she replicated the fluid correctly, but the texture was very close to what she could glean from the aura reading. Maybe this wasn't an impossible endeavor, after all. Inspired by the small step of progress, she slowly reabsorbed the goop and rearranged her mouth back into its normal state. The girl couldn't wait to continue the auristic study, but it would probably be prudent to take a break first. The nagging itch behind her eyeballs was somewhat uncomfortable and not something she wanted to exacerbate. After all, it would be a shame to ruin her body before she got to do anything truly exciting with it.
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[Nitrozian Estate] Dreams of Gossamer

Postby Evarista on August 14th, 2016, 6:27 pm

8th of Summer, 516 A.V.

Evening. Having been worn out from the morning session, Evarista had taken a nap after dinner. Now, she was reasonably fresh for the final push to 'see'. The second step of the silk-making process. The view outside of the window had gotten comfortably dark again, allowing for better relaxation of the eyes. The trusty tobacco box helped with the complete delimitation from the outside world. Looking at the orb weaver's isolated form, Evarista was engulfed by a feeling of safety. A feeling of oneness with her friend, who was willing to share such precious secrets with her. It was no longer a struggle to pry into someone else's business, but a mutual attempt to reach out and enlighten. Through its aura, the weaver wanted to show her the things it could not tell. She couldn't let it down by failing to see.

Resting on her knees as usual, the girl grabbed she jar with both hands and watched as close as she could, feeling the cardboard box bump against the glass. As if understanding her benign intentions, the inhabitant was left unstartled by the sudden commotion outside of its prison. It wore the soft light of its aura like a mantle, waves of white and grey sweeping and rippling like smooth fabric. Without letting go of the sight, Evarista covered one of the eyeholes in the box with her hand, searching for what was hidden in those undulating colors. The first step of silk creation was no longer interesting, so she sought only the second. Separation of these properties from others was still difficult. What was the right organ? The spinneret at the end of the abdomen. The completed silk came out of there, traveling along a thin tube. The tube connected to the reservoir of that fluid she already tried making. The liquid traveled down a narrowing funnel, along the bendy tube, and was pushed out of the spigot at the very end. The transformation from liquid to string happened in that thin, bendy tube, but how?

Frustrated by the watering of her eyes, Evarista pulled off the box and rubbed them with her sleeve. She remembered her instructor talking about how aura can be perceived through any sense, not just sight. Unfortunately, in her current situation, mixing it up was not an option. Trying to fondle, sniff and taste the spider would certainly not end well. It didn't make any noises to listen to, either. Her untrustworthy eyes were the only useful tool. Keeping her eyes closed as much as she could to rest them, the girl found her way to the desk and put a splash of wine into her chalice. It should help ignore the discomfort for a while. It would be less strenuous to take long breaks between the sessions, but she was much too impatient. It wasn't like she had a lot of other things to occupy herself with, either, which made simply sitting around and recovering even more unbearable. Now that she has found something that roused her interest, the usual laziness and lethargy seemed to vanish without a trace.

The wine invigorated her a little as she sipped it drop by drop, waiting for her eyes to calm down enough to continue. Hmm, this was some pretty bad wine. It didn't taste this bad before. Maybe she just got more picky as time went on. That was a good thing, right? Being a discerning drinker was something to be proud of. Maybe she could win the favor of some mage by dazzling them with an in-depth commentary on the qualities of good wine. Doubtful, though. The few wizards she knew were too attached to their mental clarity. They prided themselves on their constant lucidity, but she saw it as a weakness. It have held open certain mental doors, but kept closed so many others. To be fair, the biggest mental barriers couldn't be broken through the use of alcohol alone, but it helped.

Pulling her mind back on topic after letting it drift some, the girl put down the empty chalice and reached for the cardboard box. Just a little more fishing in the aura, and she could start practicing for real. Her companion was waiting patiently on the windowsill. She wanted to take it up to the roof, as it was her favorite place to hang out at night, but knowing her own indexterity, she was afraid to drop the jar on the way. It was unthinkable to risk such a disaster. Stroking the glass affectionately, Evarista peered at the orb weaver's now familiar aura. A new effort to segregate the knowledge. More and more details emerged each time, teaching her the all-important ways of ignoring the irrelevant, diving deeper, narrowing it down to the vital. There, the spinneret. The tapering duct where the unspun silk is treated and dehydrated, shearing as it flowed around the abrupt corners, emerging from the spigot at the end. No, not just emerging, being pulled out by an outside force, the stress forming the fiber. The fiber that was the silk.

Licking her lips nervously, Evarista closed her eyes, trying to repeat what she saw in her mind. It was less of a vision and more of an instinctual understanding of what she had to do. Once more, she confirmed that a simple vision of the complex mechanics would have given her nothing. The aura, on the other hand, contained something beyond what the five senses could communicate. It was difficult to open her eyes now, but she no longer needed them tonight. Returning to the desk and sitting down on the armchair, she leaned back and found the most comfortable position she could. Like last time, turning the box around on her head made it into a blindfold, impressive in its versatility. She had already learned to block out as much outside stimulation as possible to focus on what was important at the moment. Namely, the most precise replication of her auristic divinations.

The reservoir under the roof of her mouth came first. That was unproblematic. Next, the glands. There needed to be at least two, as they came in pairs. She didn't know why, but also didn't question it. Two glands, connected to the sac and ready to produce the liquid silk. Third, the funnel on the other side of the sac, tapering down to a narrow tube. Then, the tube itself, extending from the funnel at length, bending sharply at several points. The tube was not to be the same width in all spots, so that the unspun silk would be stressed as it passed through. The walls of the tube had a number of other functions that the girl couldn't describe, but she had the idea of how to make them, and that was the only thing that mattered. Finally, a small valve at the end; the spinneret. That was it. That was the whole system. All she had left to do was to test it.

The box had to be removed for this part. Heart beating with anxiety, Evarista put the glands into operation, feeling the viscous dope flow as it gradually filled the compartment, then the funnel, and then was pushed through the tapering straw. She felt the gel get drier, as the moisture was reabsorbed. Just as it was about to exit from the end of the tube, the girl put her fingers into her mouth and felt around until she found the spigot. As soon as any substance started coming out, she gripped the half-made silk between her thumb and index finger, and pulled it out of her mouth slowly. Squinting her eyes to see her hand, she saw a thin, slimy string securely clamped between her digits. It worked!

As soon as she thought that, the string broke, half of it still in her hand and the other half dangling from her mouth. When she gave the former piece a trial pull, it broke again with almost no effort. This wasn't silk. It was too early to celebrate. There was no frustration, though. On the contrary, there was only inspiration. She managed to produce a result, shabby as it was. Her first ever... string thing. Not bad at all. In fact, she was about done for the night. This was more than enough progress. The whole system, every part of it, was done approximately as it should be. The problem had to be the glands. She didn't imitate the silk jelly correctly, having rushed past it in her auristic observations. There could have been other issues, since the clarity of her aura readings wasn't something she would bet her neck on. Still, amending those mistakes would be her objective tomorrow. Head still full of fantasies and aspirations, the girl was ready to retire to bed, though not without giving her caged friend a big hug first.

Oh, yes. Her friend deserved the gift of a name. From now on, she would call it Archibald. Considering the large size of the specimen, it was probably female, but she really wanted to name it Archibald. Hugging the jar with affection, she whispered to the inhabitant quietly.

"Good night, Archibald, and be proud. Our ride is starting."

Continued at Dreams of Gossamer II.
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[Nitrozian Estate] Dreams of Gossamer

Postby Hwyn on August 30th, 2016, 9:38 pm

Hwyn
Grades!

Character: Evarista

Exp:
Morphing: 2
Auristics: 4
Philosophy: 2
observation: 3
Animal husbandry: 1
Biology: 3
Research: 3

Lores
Auristics: Small things have small auras
Auristics: Thinking inside the box
Auristics: the finer details
Biology: The spinneret
Biology: Multiple organs make webs
Animal Husbandry: Caring for a spider
Philosophy: better to break the minds barriers
Morphing: Silk Organs
Magic: Drinking to think

Notes. Wow, this was something else, just want to remind you that in most cases you can only learn one exp per post so it's not bad to be selfish and stretch a thread if it's your desire. On that note your use of novice auristics was quite good, I didn't see you operating above your skill level and your use of a box was quite creative. Don't know if you've considered experiencing sweet whispers as an effect of magic use but it may be something you encounter. Anyways enjoyed the read, and while i know your skill level with morphing is fairly High it doesn't hurt to add some difficulty to new forms. Anyways was fun and i think the 4 exp in Auristics were well earned. Keep up the good writing. As far as Biochemistry goes it certainly applies to web creation or say how a Firefly glows (I wanna learn that) but for simplification I think just awarding the skill biology may be for the best sense it's a bit broader in application. Anyways, thanks for writing such a fun to read thread.
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