Solo Truth and a Liar

A woman with secrets meets a master aurist favoured by Akajia

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The Diamond of Kalea is located on Kalea's extreme west coast and called as such because its completely made of a crystalline substance called Skyglass. Home of the Alvina of the Stars, cultural mecca of knowledge seekers, and rife with Ethaefal, this remote city shimmers with its own unique light.

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Truth and a Liar

Postby Madeira Craven on September 3rd, 2018, 3:07 am

    54th of Fall, 518
Madeira smiled as she reached out her hand to shake. It was a demure thing, a curl of the lip and a flash of white teeth. An unguarded, open kind of expression. Just the right amount of eagerness and poise, a tip of her head to show deference. She had practiced this smile.

"It's an absolute pleasure to finally meet you, Ald'gare Dusk.”

The patriarch of the Dusk family rose from his seat in the inner sanctum of their tower and waved the man escorting Madeira away with a word of thanks. This was the moment where she would truly know if this journey and effort was truly worth it. This was the first impression that would decide the tone of her entire life here. And she had prepared. She wore a new dress, a black velvet patterned with the stars the Lavitians were so fond of. Her gloves were pressed, her hair braided back and shining in the morning light, her omnipresent rings clean and sparkling.

Yet as she stood there, trying to size him up as surely he was sizing her, all she could think was how much less there was of him than she had expected. Not in terms of body or size, as he was an older gentleman but, tall and steady despite his years. But from all she had heard, from how he was one of the wealthiest men in the city, to how he ran a respected educational facility, and his abilities as a leader and a politician, she had expected the man’s presence to take up more space. She was expecting Madara Craven’s frigid indifference, or Godric’s low burning ego. But when Ald'gare stood to shake her hand, the friendly grip of his two hands over hers was only welcoming.

Though even as his hands welcomed her, his answering smile was a disappointed little twist.

"Madeira Craven, we are so glad to see you've arrived safely. Welcome to Lhavit. And while I appreciate your adherence to the social niceties, I find starting these sorts of relationships with dishonesty tends to set a precedent… I hope you understand."

Madeira’s paper thin propriety crumpled to be called out on something so fundamental to the social game. Nobody expected honestly in an introduction, or to answer ‘how have you been’ with anything other than ‘good’. But what shook her more was that he was right. She was anything but pleased to be in his city, with his family and his loved ones, when she had been exiled from hers. As she fought to straighten her wits she was sure she heard a chuckle. She glanced down and saw only a beautiful glass vial on a chain around his neck flash from between the collar of his robes.

"Of course, if it is something more personal about myself that has earned your displeasure..." he continued, with a delicate wave.

"No, no, of course not, sir." Madeira snapped out of her uncertainty and struggled to keep a smile on her face, even as she dropped his hand like it had bitten her. "I must apologize. It has been a long journey and I did not leave under the best of circumstances. But I truly am grateful for the opportunity to learn here.”

Since when could brown eyes be so searching? She fought the urge to fidget like a little girl as the man looked her in the eye. There was a strange feeling that he was seeing more than just the colour blue in there. Eventually the Dusk patriarch nodded with warm understanding and motioned for her to follow him further into his family's private sanctum. They passed several doors down a long hall that bordered on a beautiful garden in a riot of full summer colour, and a handsomely carved door to their right opened into what looked to be a private study. High walls were covered with neat shelves where expensive books, writing tools and curiosities were kept on practical display. A large desk and chairs stood in the back, but he lead her to a more intimate cluster of deep, comfortable chairs arranged around a low smouldering fireplace.

"I understand, this must have been a trying few months. We ourselves are grateful for the opportunity to learn from you and your family in kind. And we can only hope you and your companions find our city as extraordinary as we do."

How did he know she wasn't travelling alone? She supposed her family might have mentioned Allister, but she was certain he was too far beneath their notice for them to specifically mention him. Unless they wanted to warn the Dusk's of their ward's 'unconventional' partner? Then another thought hit her. He did not say 'companion', he said 'companions'. If Allister was under the Craven's collective consciousness, Madeira's servants did not even register. She shook this mystery away for now and let him take her hand as she lowered herself into a plump chair.

"I'm sure we will be quite comfortable here”, she smiled with as much sincerity as she could summon from her tired heart.

"Oh, speaking of comfort," the man chuckled. "I have neglected to offer my guest refreshment! One moment, I'll send for some tea. We do have the best tea in all of Mizahar, you'll find."
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Madeira Craven
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Truth and a Liar

Postby Madeira Craven on November 4th, 2018, 8:43 pm

A servant was summoned with a pull of a braided cord by the door, and Madeira heard a tinkling of a bell somewhere down the hall. A handsome woman in a starched uniform appeared, and was asked to bring tea and refreshment for “our renowned guest”. The woman bowed to both of them and hurried away, and Ald’gare returned to his seat by the fire. The hearth shone brighter than the chandelier, and the light cut deep lines of shadow into the old man’s enigmatic figure.

“So, miss Craven…”

“Please, call me Madeira, sir”, the spiritist smiled demurely, seeking to gloss over her blunder with a gracious display of familiarity.

Ald’gare chuckled and nodded indulgently. “As you wish, Madeira. We have heard much about you. Your family thinks very highly of you.”

I’m sure they do, Madeira fought the urge to roll her eyes. She was less than favoured when she left three seasons ago, not even in line for the inheritance. They knew she was a powerful spiritist, sure. But that quality was a dime a dozen as far as they were concerned. Surely the wise patriarch of the Dusk family knew when someone was selling him something.

“You came with some very impressive credentials. And while it is always advantageous to hear of ones character through their peers, it can often be… flavoured, by circumstance or agenda. I would like to get to know you better myself, Madeira.”

“Of course.” Madeira smoothed down her dress over her lap and folded her hands. Ald’gare’s eyes flicked down with the movement and Madeira fought to keep colour out of her cheeks as his eyes lingered on the belly that her skinny frame couldn’t hide anymore.

“But where are my manners. Have you found a place to stay? We would be glad to offer you a place in our Tower until you can get on your feet. You would be very comfortable here.”

Madeira flinched. Did he think she fucked her way through the sailors that drove her here? Some poor teen mother that couldn’t keep her legs closed? It was kind of him to offer to take care of her and her mistake, but the thought that he was worried she couldn’t take care of herself hit her deep.

“Thats generous of you, but we have already found a place to stay. There is an old manor on this peak that we are working on making a home. I’m accompanied by two ghosts and my bondmate, I will have plenty of company.” And plenty of people to take care of me, she inferred none too subtly.

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Madeira Craven
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Posts: 1313
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Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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Truth and a Liar

Postby Madeira Craven on November 4th, 2018, 8:44 pm

At that moment there was a knock at the door. Ald’gare answered “enter!” and the same servant woman as before came bustling in with a diver tray piled high with a tea set and a miraculous display of baked goods. Shhe placed the tray on the low coffee table between them, and set them each a little black teacup and a measure of a richly orange tea that smelled intoxicatingly of citrus and mellow, earthy greens.

The servant bowed again and excused herself, and for a moment Ald’gare and Madeira were silent as they enjoyed their first sips of tea. Madeira noting that the man was not lying, this was the best tea she had ever tasted. And even after two seasons on non perishable, heavily salted and pickled sailor rations, the little iced scones and cakes were making her mouth water just to look at them. She nibbled on a flower-shaped cookie and almost melted with delight.

Ald’gare looked over the rim of his teacup and smiled. “I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself.”

The mystery of how well the patriarch could read her was momentarily lost as the more important need to enjoy proper food overwhelmed her. After a moment she came back to herself and nodded to Ald’gare to continue over her sip of tea.

“What would you like to know about me, sir? I was raised in Alvadas, educated by my legacy family…”

The man waved her explanation away. “Oh yes, we know all the facts. Well, at least the facts your family knows about you. For instance, I was told you were proficient only in your family's particular craft, but I see now that that is not the case."

Something inside Madeira ground to a halt. The teacup rattled in it’s saucer, and she quickly put it down. She did dabble in Malediction and Hypnotism, and was still processing the mysterious discipline of Architectrix. Yet the only two people in the world knew she practiced the legacy art, and one was missing and the other wouldn't betray her on his life. And there was not a single soul alive or dead who knew she
practiced the widely feared Hypnotism, and nobody knew Architectrix even existed. There was no possible way he could know.

But that was just it. It was impossible for him to know. He’s bluffing, she realized. Most magic users will learn supplementary magic over the course of their careers. He just made an educated guess. Picking her tea back up, she took a slow sip. She decided to call his bluff.

"You're mistaken. A few of my family members have picked up useful supplementary skills over the years, but I've been too focused to follow their meandering. I'm a Spiritist, nothing more."

"Madeira, I thought we agreed not to lie to each other."

She laughed a tinkling laugh, not unkindly, but rather amused. “I assure you, you are simply misinformed."

For all the ease he seemed to be able to read her with, the man himself was impossible to read. The craggily lines of his face betrayed nothing as he simply looked at her, his head cocked to the side as if listening to something she couldn't hear. He was right, and that gave him the upper hand. But he just made a lucky guess, which gave his statement absolutely nothing to stand on. She just had to convince him he was wrong.

"Alvadas, where I come from, is not as open in its education as Lhavit. Magic is a punishable offence that my family circumvents because of the necessity of our craft”, she pressed smoothly. “It’s a very jarring cultural shift, to be sure. But it’s one of the reasons I’m excited to be here. Yours is a very advanced society, mine is stuck in the past.”

Reason, logic, and a subtle brush of flattery right at the end. Madeira shrugged helplessly, but inside she was smugly confident she had successfully avoided his accusation.

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Truth and a Liar

Postby Madeira Craven on November 4th, 2018, 8:45 pm

Ald’gare sighed ruefully and put down his teacup.

“Why don’t I tell you a bit about myself and my family as well. You were told our specialties were Auristics and Spiritism, am I right?”

“Yes”, Madeira confirmed, nibbling on a scone as she wondered what he could be getting at.

“Our skill in Spiritism is not at the level we desire, which is why we are so glad to have you here. However, our Auristics, which we will eventually have a chance to teach you, is vastly superior. Possibly the most advanced you will see in all of Miza.”

“I relish the chance to learn from such mastery” Madeira smiled, only more confused and not sure what else to say.

“Auristics is a passive skill, mostly used for information gathering. But at my level I can learn all sorts of things about a person or an object by the aura that surrounds them. Some things leave a bigger… footprint, lets say, on an aura than other. Dijed, for example.”

The scone all but turned to dust in her mouth, and Madeira put it down. She was beginning to see the destination this conversation was heading to, and her mind scrambled for a way to derail it.

“Your rings and gloves have a very powerful aura of dijed about them.” his eyes travelled down to her hands, and he studied them like an interesting book as she fought the urge to fidget. “They must be incredible magical objects. The rings are hollow, am I right? Full of soulmist. Are they for imbueding, or maybe a quick way to empower your servants?”

“For summoning them, actually.” She smiled tentatively, itching to wipe the sweat that was beading on her neck. “It’s a useful skill, I will make sure to teach you how.”

“And the gloves? I sense they are much more powerful, and use some kind of personal magic…”

Wetting her lips with her tongue, Madeira quickly considered how to answer. Looking into his eyes, she couldn’t read if he was waiting for her to fill in the silence because he truly didn’t know, or because he was waiting for her to redeem herself by telling the truth. Damn him, how could she know the capabilities of a magic she had never studied?

The risk was too great. With a hushed breath she told him the truth.

“Hypnotism. The gloves can convince people to trust me, if used properly.”

The patriarch stroked his stubble, looking truly impressed. “That’s an incredible object. Someday I’d be thrilled to hear how you acquired it.”

“It’s an incredible story.” Madeira laughed, and the sound was high and stressed even to her own ears.

“Your own aura is incredible as well. It carries some of the same markings of the rings and the gloves, specifically around the eyes. Do you practise Hypnotism?”

How could he know? How could he possibly know these things? It was everything from who she travelled with, to the state of her health, to her feelings to her lying and even her magic. All her excuses and pretty words and lies dried up in her throat. Stripped of everything she could hide behind, all Madeira could do was nod. “Yes. But not to the extent that I know Spiritism.”

“Any others?”

“Malediction and Architectrix. I’m just a beginner in both.”

“Incredible! We have another Spiritist in this city that knows Malediction, but as far as I’m aware he is the only one. Architectrix I can’t even say I’ve heard of.”

Could he be talking of Rothsam? The Spiritist who attacked Emma? Madeira put the question aside and gathered herself.

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Madeira Craven
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Posts: 1313
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Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
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Truth and a Liar

Postby Madeira Craven on November 4th, 2018, 8:46 pm

“Excuse me, sir. But I’m here to teach you Spiritism, which I am more than capable in, and to learn Auristics in return. I’m not here to teach you to dabble in my other pursuits, and my life is certainly not your business.”

She expected Ald’gare, to dismiss her, or grow angry and hang her secrets over her head. But to her astonishment the old man threw his head back and laughed. Her face was white with stress, everything she had kept hidden for years laid bare, and he was laughing.

“I’m sorry, Madeira. I fear I have overstepped the line. Rest assured your secrets are safe with me. I just hope to encourage honesty from you.”

The crystal vial around his neck chuckled, and this time Madeira, overwound and stressed, yipped with fright.

“Oh!” Ald’gare himself startled at her noise. “Oh, excuse me. I guess one fair turn deserves another. This is Popa, my familiar.”

The vial rippled, distorted like water, and rose in a liquid mass to hover over Ald’gare’s shoulder before Madeira’s shocked eyes. The firelight glinted gold off the figure, like a sentient puddle, a wobbly head attached to a loose definition of a torso and spindly water arms. Madeira offered it a tentative “Hello.”

"Everyone knows Spiritists are liars." the blob sang sweetly, its voice high and crisp as it bobbed on the patriarchs shoulder.

"Spiritists know to be careful with the truth", she corrected, dapping at her sweating lip with a napkin.

"No, that makes sense.” Ald’gare nodded thoughtfully. “Excuse Popa, he rarely thinks before he speaks. I don’t fault you for keeping your items and practises a secret.You can make a lot of enemies in the world of spirits if you are not careful.”

"It's more than that. My job requires dealing with anger and sadness and the many different flavours of insanity. You learn to lie or you go insane too.”

Ald’gare looked at her, piercing her with blue eyes that felt all the more invasive, knowing what they could do. But the old man seemed to like what he saw, and smiled.

“I imagine you’re right. I too value a secret and you can rest assured I’ll keep yours. I think we will get along just fine, Madeira Craven.”

The rest of the morning passed with a cordial conversation that worked out the more practical aspects of her stay. Madeira’s confidence in the social game was destroyed, and it made her much more open and frank than anybody else had ever seen in her. When she left a bell later, she felt welcomed and accepted. She liked Ald’gare, and that somehow made it worse. For all his genuine friendliness and eagerness to learn, she had never met anyone more dangerous than Ald’gare Dusk.

WC: 462
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Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1313
Words: 1105315
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 8
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)

Truth and a Liar

Postby Madeira Craven on November 13th, 2018, 7:37 am

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Madeira Craven

Skills
  • Politics: 3xp
  • Acting: 2xp
  • Subterfuge: 2xp
  • Gambling: 2xp
  • Logic: 3xp
  • Rhetoric: 3xp

Lores
  • Acting: playing a part
  • Politics: endearing oneself to powerful people
  • Location: Dusk Tower
  • People: Ald'gare Dusk
  • Ald'gare Dusk: knows more than he should
  • Gambling: recognizing a bluff?
  • Investigation: suspicions and context clues
  • Ald'gare Dusk: a powerful political player
  • Ald'gare Dusk: masterful aurist
  • Persuasion: believing the lie
  • Politics: know where you stand
  • Gambling: taking the safe bet
  • Ald’gare Dusk: a better manipulator
  • Rotsam: knows Malediction
  • Lore of Familiarity
  • Lore of Popa the familiar

Awards & Retribution


Notes
Notes here.
User avatar
Madeira Craven
long may she reign
 
Posts: 1313
Words: 1105315
Joined roleplay: October 11th, 2016, 7:45 pm
Race: Human
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Journal
Plotnotes
Medals: 8
Featured Contributor (1) Featured Thread (1)
Mizahar Grader (1) Overlored (1)
Donor (1) One Thousand Posts! (1)
One Million Words! (1) 2018 Mizahar NaNo Winner (1)


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