Completed [Nitrozian Estate] The Walls Have Legs

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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] The Walls Have Legs

Postby Evarista on September 26th, 2016, 4:33 pm

12th of Autumn, 516 A.V.
"Damn that old man... ugh!"

That night, Evarista was scaling the wall of the estate to reach the rooftop, as she has done many times in the past. Only this time, she was a lot more irritated than usual.

"Why's he making me do this? Pfff... Just leave me alone already."

Grunting and huffing, more from annoyance than from physical strain, the girl made her way up along the wall, using the chitinous hooks on her hands and feet for grappling and support. Moving past a shuttered window, she suddenly heard the shutters unhinge from the inside. What terrible timing! Having few options, she froze in place and held her breath, hoping to remain unnoticed. A slender hand poked out of the window, tossing out a small round object of some kind before withdrawing and slamming the shutters closed again. Phew. That could have gone a lot worse.

Reaching the the cornice without further incident, the dubiously sneaky aristocrat flopped over it without grace, before rising to her feet and dusting off her skirt idly. She was on the familiar roof, where she often went at night to feel the breeze, laze around and idly observe the nightly activities of the city below. Tonight was not necessarily going to be any different, but there was still a sour taste in her mouth. And no, it didn't come from the wine. Not most of it, anyway.

There reason behind this discomfort was the Nitrozian Chamberlain, Nestor Olcott. Evarista has never had much necessity to keep close contact with him, until recently, when she received a mysterious letter from him. It has turned out that, by whatever means, he has been aware of her morphing and roof-climbing escapades for a good while now; if she didn't want there to be an estate-wide scandal about this, she was cordially invited to cooperate with him on a certain matter he needed help with. The letter was worded extremely cryptically, but once she met the man face to face in the privacy of his office, he explained the setup. He wanted her to continue her nightly excursions of voyeurism and eavesdropping, just as she always has, except that she would later relay her finding to him.

This was all rather strange, but Evarista wasn't in a position to ask questions, and she frankly didn't care that much. All she wanted was to make sure that her already tense relations with the rest of the family weren't worsened even further. Which they definitely would be if it became common knowledge that she's been dangling outside of their windows nearly every night for the past several years, with less than innocent intentions. The bastards might finally get enough ammunition against her to get her booted out on the street. To avoid that, playing along with Olcott's scheme seemed like a cheap price to pay. Her only consolation was that he promised a discrete extension of her allowance as a compensation for the trouble.

But damn, the old coot sure had her by the short hairs. Reverting her chitinous claws back to their humanoid shape, the girl clenched her fists in frustration. She had no idea how she was going to make these 'reports', as she lacked the vocabulary to describe half of what she witnessed on such nights. Ah, no matter. She'd solve that problem when its turn came. For now, it was more important to get the target of tonight's mission. The old man didn't give her any specific instructions, perhaps just wanting to test her spying ability itself, so she gathered she was free to choose.

Peeking over the corner of the roof, she saw thin rays of light protrude between the shutters of many windows on the floors below. Ravok was awake at night, and the Nitrozian estate doubly so. There was no shortage of potential targets; all she had to do was pick the one window that concealed the most interesting going-ons, or track any of the multiple suspicious figures that sometimes skittered across the outdoor portions of the estate. To those ends, she had quite a few tricks up her sleeve.
Last edited by Evarista on October 1st, 2016, 7:01 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Evarista
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[Nitrozian Estate] The Walls Have Legs

Postby Evarista on September 29th, 2016, 10:42 am

Tonight, she chose the outer side of the non-blooded residence as her spying ground. The smaller windows made it easier to stay out of sight should anyone inside want to open a window and take part of the night city view, which was a relatively common occurrence, and also the biggest risk for Evarista herself. Moreover, the angle of the building was less exposed to the general traffic canals, which made it even more vulnerable to undetected intrusion.

Climbing down onto the rooftop of the lower building, Evarista gauged her options for descent. Her initial attempts involved simply climbing down the wall, but it was a slow, laborious and dangerous procedure. Recently, she has discovered a much more efficient alternative, one she ought to have thought of much earlier: her silk. By wrapping her torso in it and securing the other end somewhere on the roof, she could descent along the outside of the building much faster, and with much less risk of tumbling down into the canals if she lost her footing. Falling into the cold water wasn't all that dangerous, considering the relatively short falling distance, but it was a highly unpleasant experience that practically spelled doom for any more spying efforts that night. Her fragile body also tended to catch colds from the unwelcome dips, which did happen occasionally, so that was all the more reason to find safer ways of plying her 'trade'.

She had used the silk in as a sort of mountaineering equipment in the past, spinning a rope first and then wrapping it around herself like a harness. It worked well enough, but there was potential for something even more practical. Why'd she continue to use her silk as if she was human, when she could use it like actual spiders did? Of course, that would take a bit of additional engineering. She's seen spiders lower themselves from an elevation by simply spinning a bit of silk, fastening the loose end somewhere, and then simply hang on it. Due to the way the silk organs worked, the spider's body weight would pull the silk out of the grand, generating the extension of the fiber, thus making the string longer and lowering the spinner down in the process. It was a genial system, but slightly difficult to replicate with human anatomy.

Evarista chewed on her lip and looked around the roof with a troubled expression, as if seeking a solution on the dusty surface. No, she couldn't do it like spiders did. Supporting her entire weight while having the silk organ in her mouth would end up breaking her neck. She had to move the organ somewhere closer to her center of gravity, which would logically be somewhere close to her bowels. However, suspending herself upside-down on a rope that came out of her rear end would be not only extremely awkward, but also would potentially make her dizzy, and eventually make her lose her dinner. Just picturing the scene made her wince. No, there had to be a different way. Perhaps she could make the principle work with some alterations.

Taking off her blouse and tying the sleeves around her hips, she morphed a series of silk glands in her upper abdomen, careful not to disturb any other organs. The spinneret opened up at her sternum, secured by a series of sinews that ran from the sternum and all over her torso. Having breasts helped, as it provided some otherwise useless tissue to turn into an additional harness of security sinews, distributing the potential stress across her entire hull. This way, she would be able to suspend herself upside-up, while not risking to overstress any joints or tear anything soft. It still looked very awkward, and anyone who saw her now would probably faint from disgust, but her only concern was functionality, and that she had plenty of. Hopefully.

It was time to try the setup out. Producing a thin scarf of silk out of her sternum-mounted spinneret, she secured it around a chimney close to the corner of the roof. She never needed to worry about the silk tearing, but she did need to worry about it coming untied, so a good knot was important. Done with that, she swung her legs down the cornice and carefully shifted her weight from her limbs to the fortified spinneret, until she was hanging more or less freely in the air with nothing else for support. There was an uncomfortable pull and pressure in her chest, making it slightly difficult to breathe. She wouldn't be able to dangle like this for very long, but it would be enough to descend and find a foothold further down on the wall. Bracing herself for the slip, she opened the spigot within the spinneret and let her weight shear the silk.

The sudden sense of weightlessness told her that she was falling. Panicked, she closed off the spinneret again and looked around worriedly, taking a few heavy breathes and wiping the sweat from her forehead with the back of her hand. She was a good way down. Maybe too much, even. Her weight made the shearing very fast, so after just a moment she ended up danging on a long rope almost halfway down the side of the building. Finding foothold at a protruding brick below a shuttered window, she relieved the pressure on her self-made mountaineer harness. Unlike climbing up and down manually using claws, this descent was very fast and silent. It would take some getting used to, but with some polishing of the technique, she could see it being a great improvement of her mobility in these nightly escapades.
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[Nitrozian Estate] The Walls Have Legs

Postby Evarista on September 30th, 2016, 6:00 pm

Alright, Evarista thought, now that she managed getting into position, the espionage could begin. She wasn't sure whose window it was, but considering the effort she's gone through to get here, she couldn't be bothered to move somewhere else. At the very least, there were voices and light seeping through the crack between the shutters, so there was material to work with. All she had to do was nestle to that crack and soak up any scraps of information that popped out of there. Gripping the hinges of the shutters tightly and resting her feet on the conveniently protruding brick below the window, she found a stable position from where she had access to the thin opening without straining any part of her body too much. Yes, grabbing the hinges was perfect. It was stable, comfortable and presented the least risk of accidentally making the shutters rattle or squeak. Now, the meat of the matter.

The amateur informant moved an eye close to the crack between the shutters, scanning the narrow strip of the room that the opening made available for view. There were no people in that particular place, but the room was lit, and there was a steaming cup of coffee standing on the bedside table at the far end of the room. Coffee in the middle of the night? Someone had no plans to get any sleep. Two voices, one male and one female, accompanied the modest scene from beyond her vision. It was hard to make out what the voices were saying, but the tones didn't seem all that high and distressed. It was a quiet and discrete conversation. The people speaking almost seemed to be prepared for someone to eavesdrop. How clever of them. And slightly annoying.

Well, she wouldn't get much out of this without the use of her other convenient power, one she could seldom rely on in a pinch: auristics. The decidedly modest extension of the senses it offered made all the difference when trying to view something just out of view, or pick up sounds just out of earshot. Initially, she tried to discern how the targets were positioned in the room. Almost pressing her nose against the shutter, the girl concentrated her gaze as if to stare right through the wood. This trick didn't work at the blooded residence, where the shutter were thicker, but the cheaper shutters on other buildings didn't offer much of an obstacle.

Without too much effort, Evarista could determine that the female speaker was sitting on the bed in the corner, just out of physical view when looking through the crack, while the male was sitting at the desk near the middle of the room, well out of sight on the other side of the visible strip. She couldn't do a proper aura reading with an inch of wood in the way, but she didn't need to, as she was only looking to check the aura holders' locations, which... wait. What was that? There was a third person?

She had almost missed it, but in the far opposite end across the bed, next to the door, stood another figure. She hadn't realized it was there because it hadn't said a word since she came, and remained silent still. From the small corner of the aura she could see, she couldn't even tell if the holder was male or female, but it was a little strange that the person wasn't speaking at all. She tried to get a better look, but the angle made it impossible. Her auristic vision could pierce a thin piece wood, but not a wall of brick, so there wasn't much more to do on that front.

Now that she could at least ascertain that nobody was poised to slam open the shutters and knock her down into the canals, Evarista moved on to the second and more substantial phase of her auristic machinations: the auditory one. Applying auristics to the sense of hearing was something she had very little experience with, and just as little success when she had tried using it in the past, but it was currently the only way to achieve anything meaningful with her presence here. Pressing her ear against the wood as hard as she could without making the shutter rattle, the girl focused on her attempts to snap up the few discernible scraps of value left behind by the voices.
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[Nitrozian Estate] The Walls Have Legs

Postby Evarista on September 30th, 2016, 7:57 pm

While it would be a stretch to call her auristics a sharpening of the senses, with this, she could pick up some hints that she otherwise wouldn't. The female's even and continuous speech suggested that she was dictating something to the man sitting at the desk. He offered the occasional comment or question, most likely asking for clarifications, and then let out quiet scratching noises, probably writing down the dictated words on a parchment. However, no matter how much she tried, Evarista couldn't make out what the story was about. Was it a letter? A journal? A business ledger? No way to tell. While she could get a decent amount of auristic feedback from the voices and vibrations, she wasn't sure how to process the feedback into useful information. Using auristics with a sense other than sight turned out to be much more difficult than expected.

Ah, well. If anything, she'd be better served by a morphing technique that simply sharpened her physical sense of hearing. That's what she'd have to look into next. Either way, it appeared that she'd have to resign here, because the few spying techniques she had on hand were exhausted. Not to mention that her djed was getting exhausted, as well. While nothing she did was particularly complex, juggling two magics at once wore her out quickly. She'd have to pick a more strategic spying location next time.

Just as Evarista was about to abandon her endeavors and get back to the roof, a series of footsteps resonated on the other side of the shutters, approaching rapidly. Her heart sank into her heels. A convulsive reach for a nearby wall protrusion was the only thing that saved her nose from being squashed as the shutters flew open with a bang, sending a small shockwave at her. Having narrowly evaded the sudden danger, she was now latched onto the closed shutters of a nearby window. The footsteps rang in her mind again. Damn it, it was that third figure! It must've been a guard, or something like that, and somehow she wasn't silent enough to avoid detection.

This was pretty bad. This was really bad. If that someone poked out their head now, there was nothing Evarista could do to avoid being seen, dangling warped and half-naked from a rope in embedded in her sternum. Ah, there was something she could do. Her free arm rapidly turned into a slender chitinous blade, jagged and uneven from the stressful effort, and she directed it at the space where she expected the guard to pop out. Violence in this situation seemed even more foolish, but if she could shank the bastard in the face before they got a good look at her, maybe she could avoid the fire and brimstone of her father's wrath. Or maybe she'd mess up and make everything even worse.

After an excruciating pause, two large hands clad in leather gauntlets slowly reached out and pulled the shutters closed. Evarista's mind already understood that the danger was over, but her heart still wanted to burst out of her chest, and the blade she was still pointing at the air in front of her shook as if she was having a seizure. Screw it, screw this, no more playing spy today, and not tomorrow either. Just go to bed and pretend nothing happened. Clenching her teeth, Evarista forced her hand back into its human shape and gripped the silk scarf protruding from the spinneret on her chest. Her arms were too weak to pull her up on their own.

Luckily, she had the return technique thought out in advance, and that display of foresight was the only thing keeping her from panicking right now. Yes, just focus on the rope and the spinneret. She couldn't climb up like humans did, but she wasn't going to do it like a human. She was going to do it like a spider and eat her way up. Her spinneret soon became enveloped by sturdy subdermal jaws, bulging beneath her sinewy skin and closing around the silk just above where it left the spinneret. Meanwhile, she generated the rest of the system while trying to keep calm. This 'mouth' would lead to a special stomach compartment where the consumed rope would be digested.

Now that the system was done, she clenched her 'jaws' and pulled in a section of the rope, shortening it and thus moving herself closer to the roof. Getting into a good rhythm, she moved further and further up in small jerks. It was not at all graceful and decidedly slow compared to her descent, but still faster and less laborious than manual climbing. Spiders sometimes devoured their silk like this to restore some of the lost proteins, so the extra stomach she made was capable of digesting the silk. Moreover, taking care of the rope this way minimized the traces of her visit here, so it was like catching two birds in one web. Hehe.

Evarista's heart was still racing wildly as she made it up to the safety of the roof. During the entire ascent she was half-afraid that the guard would slam open the shutters again and spot her properly this time, but now the danger has definitely passed. Her trembling body and parched throat still didn't agree, though. Maybe it was the djed usage, but she hadn't used quite that much, had she?

Taking another few chimes to calm down, the girl restored her upper body to human condition and put on her blouse, shivering slightly and giving a single sneeze as she did so. Her skin was clammy with sweat, and the wind up here sounded like it wanted to give her a cold for the trouble. Well, she sure would get away cheaply if a cold was all she got. The existential dread she felt when those footsteps rushed to her from the other side of the shutters refused to leave her mind. This was the first time she got to experience the high stakes of the game she was playing.

There was no information gained for the old man tonight, but she has learned two valuable lessons. First, the walls of this estate had legs.

And second... those legs didn't always belong to her.
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Evarista
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[Nitrozian Estate] The Walls Have Legs

Postby Sayana on December 29th, 2016, 7:59 pm

Image

Don't forget to edit/delete your grade request. If there's anything I may have missed, please PM me and I'll be happy to look into it.


 
Evarista
Skills
  • Climbing: 4
  • Stealth: 1
  • Observation: 3
  • Morphing: 2
  • Endurance: 2
  • Intelligence: 2
  • Auristics: 2
Lores
  • Being blackmailed by the Nitrozian Chamberlain, Nester Olcott
  • Eavesdropping: Qualities of an easy target building
  • Morphing: Silk glands at abdomen
  • Climbing: Decending by the creation of silk
  • Climbing: Maintaining a comfortable position
  • Auristics: Viewing auras through a thin physical barrier
  • Intelligence: Gauging the mood of a scene
  • Climbing: Ascending by eating silk
  • Morphing: Subdermal jaws for intaking silk

Comments: Great thread. I loved the suspense you created, especially at the end. Evarista certainly has interesting methods of climbing and I hope I sufficiently accounted for that in the lores awarded.

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Sayana
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