Solo Tabby and Talc

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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]

Tabby and Talc

Postby Caspian on February 17th, 2019, 11:10 pm

70 Winter 518


It’s fairly improbable but happens anyway, Caspian falling once more into Helva’s clutches.

To regard it that way is to do himself some amount of disservice. Should he want to disentangle himself from her, he simply can, because he isn’t a flimsy poppet, or a dog, or a child, and Ravok is big enough for the two of them. Or so he likes to believe.

But, despite all the things he tells himself he isn’t, she’s got her talons viced around his arm all the same, and is tugging him after her and onto a waiting ravosala.

They regard each other in silence punctuated only by the gentle rushing swish of the ravosala’s oar in the murky waters below.

“You didn’t have to do that,” Caspian says, the first to break, referring to the drunken lout who had decided there was something about Caspian’s mien he just didn’t like, and in righteous fury had tried to do something about it.

Until, out of nowhere – nowhere good, surely – Helva had swept in and stood between the two of them, and in her blinding ways had shown the lout fury in a purer form.

And then dragged Caspian out of that tavern and onto this vessel, despite his obvious resistance, because that’s just what someone does when they’ve got best intentions at heart. When they truly care, right?

“Yes, that’s exactly what someone says when they’ve just been done an incredible favor,” she replies, all ice, but she’s really all ice all the time, and today dressed from head to toe in icy-taupe silks to match.

“I had a handle on it,” he says. This ravosala isn’t heading anywhere near where he lives. Jumping out and onto the paved walkways wouldn’t be overly difficult, not for someone like him, and when they pass beneath a bridge, he instinctively eyes its railings. He could hoist himself up in a blink, and she in her long skirts and stacked heels couldn’t possibly give chase.

…or could she?

The hesitation causes him to linger in his own immobility, though he’s sure his eyes flicking upwards give his thoughts away.

“That’s certainly what I’d call it.” The derision in her voice is clear. Aimed for his self-consciousness too, but he’s growing used to her now, and it glances off him without harm. Well, mostly. “Had a head and a half on you, didn’t he? And a barrel of friends not far behind.”

The ravosala driver wouldn’t care if he dove out and onto the street. Wouldn’t spare him so much as a glance, if he isn’t bothering now. Undoubtedly he’s heard and seen stranger things than mild kidnapping and coercion.

“I’ve wrestled my way out of far worse,” he replies. The curtness of his voice isn’t doing much in the way of damage to her either, or even proving slightly discouraging to whatever it is she’s decided she wants from him.

“Guess we’ll never know, will we?”

It’s not right away, though still not so long after, that Caspian breaks again with a sigh. “Thank you,” he says, and settles for deriving some amount of satisfaction in noting that this makes her smile.

As could be predicted, their end destination is Helva’s front door. Caspian bounds onto the street, considers taking off into tight corners in the dark – but truth be told, the events of the evening have turned out far more interesting that he’d anticipated, and historically Helva has made good on playing employer. With this in mind, and arm gallantly extended, he helps Helva click out of the ravosala and onto the walkway beside him.

She pays the driver and inclines her head towards the house. They take up the same spots as they had before in the artfully gray parlor.

--
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Tabby and Talc

Postby Caspian on February 23rd, 2019, 10:08 pm

The debate of the caliber of his appearance in black and white manifests in a standardly pressed, appropriately tidy uniform that Helva draws out of some hall closet bursting with tulle and flounces and jackets in jeweled tones. In comparison, the server’s uniform she hands him - and with only a pointed narrowing of her eyes coerces him into trying on - approaches vulgarity in its plainness.

Under her direction, he stands in the very center of the parlor for her inspection. The hairs on the back of his neck raise as she slips behind him, and he nearly jumps when he feels her fingertips skimming over the creasing of the shirt tucked into his waistband.

“Could be nipped in a little further,” she murmurs as his heart hammers in his chest. She’s overestimated his figure - it’s okay, it’s not surprising. Maybe it’s from having been born in Avanthal, a land of permanently inclement weather, and growing up in Sunberth, a wasteland of indissolubly inclement people, but he actually quite loathes wearing fewer layers, and even in sweltering temperatures will find some form of topcoat, always with sleeves. So it can cause some surprise, if he’s ever in a situation that has him undressing, or someone’s drawing as near as she - his usual layers add a deceptive illusion of bulk, which as far as matters of personal safety, is an illusion sorely needed.

The uniform she’s so specifically chosen for him consists of a starch-stiff white shirt tucked into seamed black slacks and encased in an equally black vest, and a just-as-black cravat she’s now tightening like a noose. Ultimately, she deems the fit of the costume as good enough, and when she abandons him for a moment to retrieve a complementary pair of black leather shoes, he marvels at the degree of her premeditation.

Marveling mounts for a moment - and when he crouches down before her and finds that the shoes are precisely his size, that marveling twists over itself into a wary awe.

It would have been a trivial and far more efficient matter to have the outfit sent to him by courier, where he might have tried it on in peace - but she must have envisioned this moment, relished the thought as much as she closely relishes it now, and even if she hadn’t come to his aid tonight and prevented a brawl, she would have found some way to manifest this. By her own will, this was inevitable.

All this in concert, now, and the beginnings of misgivings he can’t fully shutter away - is he as flattered, though, as he’d been in the fall?

She’s laid back on the sofa and beaming at him grandly when she finally reveals the intentions behind her preparations. A week from now, she’s hosting a party here, full scope of catering and light entertainment involved, as one of her resources does. In attendance will be a recently engaged socialite that Helva, nor her niece Driselle, have no particular love for. It will be Caspian’s object to find out, posing as one of the servers, on precisely which date her nuptials will be held.

Oddly innocuous thing to ask of him, after all that. And despite burgeoning hesitation, he of course agrees.


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Tabby and Talc

Postby Caspian on February 28th, 2019, 6:49 pm

Ominously – though she’s ever the picture of portent – Taalviel makes very little comment about Caspian’s appearance as he’s dashing out the door.

It’s not his fault he’s a little late getting to Helva’s. Taalviel had come back, in all her typical suddenness, after a half-week doing whatever it is she does when Caspian can’t see her. Stealing shiny bits and bobs, probably. Lurking on a roof. Eating carrion. In any case she’s in his apartment suddenly, as he’s washing his face in the basin, and he doesn’t hear her float in until it’s too late and she’s suddenly standing behind him and her unexpected visage in the mirror nearly gives him a heart attack.

Either from embarrassment, or wanting futilely still to thwart her at every opportunity, he had idled longer than he meant to, with the image of the scrubby uniform hanging in his closet vividly in mind.

Okay, so maybe it is a little bit his fault, then. And she had stared when he was through with dressing, but not particularly visibly cared, except to ask if he planned on coming back tonight.

Why wouldn’t he?

He doesn’t say this when he’s darting out, though, only a cursory “I mean, we’ll see.”

Not that she couldn’t just follow him and find out, as he’s so sure she already does.

Does Taalviel know, then, the way Helva looks at him, the way she’s always done, except now it’s a lot less veiled and more daggered and iced to the point that he’s not sure what he’ll do if she does make a real advance on him, especially if he isn’t expecting it –

It occurs to him, separately, that it’s possible Taalviel has friends.

A friend, more likely. Singular. She’s never had any, as far as he’s known, because in Sunberth there hadn’t been much room for it, just Taaldros’ cohort, and the dangers that came along with becoming too attached to anything.

But does she have a friend here?

Maybe even –

- a boyfriend?

The thought sends him rollicking across the canals in its absurdity. The preposterousness of it quells the anxiety that grows within him with his every step, until it doesn’t anymore and is overtaken, and if his sister’s got herself a boyfriend of some kind and he hasn’t met the man – or, likely, the shiny trash she’d be fiendishly more attached to than a person – well, if he hasn’t met him it means she’s hiding him, and if she’s hiding it means she’s embarrassed, a worse one to have than Caspian just not wanting to run around with this uncomfortably stiff and suffocating uniform longer than absolutely necessary.

In the end, he gets there, though at the last moment he imagines circumventing the whole thing.

Helva, dressed in shimmering lavender and blue silks, answers the door when he knocks. She glances over him dismissively, none of the interest he’d been bracing for bearing down upon him.

“Service entrance is around the back,” she says shortly, and shuts the door in his face.

Already in character, then?

He supposes he ought to be too.

With a sigh, and another attempt to loosen his cravat, he turns the corner and lets himself into the kitchens, already bursting with people clattering through oil and smoke.

--
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Tabby and Talc

Postby Caspian on February 28th, 2019, 6:54 pm

It’s not often that Caspian finds himself in a kitchen. Cooking isn’t something he has much experience with, if you don’t count holding something dripping and severed over a fire to roast it as cooking. Nothing like this, at least, where there’s a large, heavily perspiring man barking orders left and right, and steel is flying in expert hands through the air. The world grants him a little bit of a lifesaver, however, because the second he enters the kitchen he’s immediately swept up in being barked at himself, and someone’s shoving linens and placemats and a box of silverware into his arms.

“Wait, where do I-“

The response he receives is less than genteel, and he wisely determines that the smartest thing to do is shut his mouth, keep his head down, and follow a similarly beleaguered grunt out to the dining hall.

He’s not seen this part of the house before. Helva hasn’t bothered giving him a tour – and that’s probably for the best, because he can easily imagine where that would lead. The ceiling is impressively high, and painted over with a lilac imagining of a lightly clouded sky. There’s a series of windows along the street-facing wall, lined with apricot-colored drapes as sumptuous as the fabrics that usually adorn Helva’s body. The table itself is a deeply reddish wood, handsomely carved and made to seat at least a dozen.

Caspian’s partner in this exercise is a young man around his own age, in an identical uniform. At one point he looks up and they lock eyes, and Caspian flashes him a conspiratorial grin across the table – but the young man only scoffs to himself and goes about laying down the placemats in quick revolution. Following suit, Caspian lays down his own half. Then there’s the linens, emblazoned with a cherry-red stripe, that have to be folded in so many halves and left atop the placemats accordingly. That’s all well and simple, and quite easy enough – but when it comes to the silverware, Caspian finds himself facing two types of knives and three (or is it four?) sets of forks and one enormous sort of spoon that promises to be too taxing on the mandibles and a miniature one that seems to suggest it’s going to be of no use at all. Though Caspian’s one to dress the part, he’s never actually been to too many occasions warranting fine dining, and the correct ordering of any of these utensils upon the table is up to pure speculation.

The other grunt’s disappeared for the moment, back in the kitchen for ready abuse, leaving Caspian comparing the widths of the tines of two forks that he’s mostly but not completely sure are ever so slightly spaced differently apart. Time is of the essence, though – or so it feels with the amount of shouting and dashing about going on around him. He decides to just go for it, to at least maintain the depiction of being someone qualified and hired to do this. The spoons are laid, and then one of the knives and he’s gotten started on the forks that he ultimately chooses to regard as one and the same when his partner returns, a crate of glassware in his arms.

He takes one look at what Caspian’s done and sets the crate down in horror.

“You’re joking, right?” he snaps, whizzing after Caspian and shuffling the utensils into what’s presumably but still not that intuitively the correct order. The little spoon’s meant to be placed horizontally rather than vertically, it turns out, which would have doomed even the most careful of Caspian’s configurations.

“Like this,” he says, gesticulating impatiently at the completed setting. “Got it?”

Another retort bitten back to a nod, and Caspian does as he’s told.

It doesn’t go as smoothly as he’d hoped from there. In the kitchen, the cooks quickly discover he’s not much help shucking reeds or finely slicing garnishes either.

Knifework isn’t something totally foreign to him, but the sort of slicing he’s used to is more along the lines of alleys and stabbings, but he can’t very well drop that as a line in his defense, can he?

Helva appears in the kitchen at one point, casting a critical eye over the proceedings, lingering over Caspian fumbling with descaling a fish in the corner, for a moment perceptible only to the two of them.

It’s a relief when the cooking’s over – mostly over, as there’s apparently at least four courses – but the guests start arriving and they decide it’s time to set Caspian and his partner loose for serving.

His moment, now. The real one.

--
WC: 774
Last edited by Caspian on March 9th, 2019, 5:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Caspian
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Tabby and Talc

Postby Caspian on February 28th, 2019, 7:02 pm

The target’s name is Uryana.

As might have been expected of a socialite, she’s come dressed to the nines, in a dress draped and layered in orange and red, a captivating picture of a sunset against the painted depiction of the sky above.

Caspian’s job is a lot easier at this point. There’s no guesswork involved, the food being served in courses resulting in groups of dishes made and presented identically, so it’s just a matter of going around the table counterclockwise and setting them down without a splash. Before the salad course is through, Caspian manages to learn several things – one, that Uryana has a habit of pushing her food around on her plate for a full minute before eating it; two, that whether the weather is better for one’s complexion here or in Syliras is of hotly contested debate; and three, that his partner’s name is Dehan and he’s lived in Ravok his whole life and he does not like being asked questions that get any more personal than that.

None of the guests address Caspian, except to wave at him to top off their glasses with wine (a task Dehan hurries to cover himself, once he realizes Caspian’s not rotating the bottle as he pours as is liable to start a drip). As Helva’s husband, Walthaen’s also here, but he resolutely looks everywhere but at Caspian, as he’s most likely been instructed. The string quartet who have been hired to provided light entertainment in the next room pay him no mind either, and it’s quite nice, actually, hearing them play, makes his heart twist over a little beneath his stiff tabby vest. Helva’s niece Driselle is, of course, also in attendance, though she doesn’t appear to know Caspian’s been planted here by her aunt for her own benefit. As can be expected, Driselle and Uryana laugh a tad too loudly at each other’s jokes and flutter their hands at conspicuous pace – but the two of them are the stars here, the jewels everyone else at the table looks to, and the party seems equally devoted to both, if not at least incredibly invested in the underpinnings of the proceedings.

By dessert, Caspian starts to worry that in order to obtain the information Helva has him seeking, he’ll have to strike up a conversation with Uryana all on his own. It would be unlikely, though, that she’d announce something meant to be secret at a table in front of eleven others. Dessert ends, and naturally Caspian’s hot on Dehan’s heels to clear the table – but the cooks have him out serving drinks to the guests quite immediately after, despite his aching feet.

Everyone’s retired to the parlor now, done up with new hangings and floral arrangements that Caspian hadn’t been treated to when he was brought here to plot. The silver tray laden down with mixed cocktails in tremulous glasses wobbles worryingly in his unpracticed hand, and though he’s mincing across as carefully as he can, he’s not prepared for one of the guests to gesture with outstretched hand, and three of the drinks tip from the tray, to shatter and splatter across the floor.

“Sorry – sorry – “ Caspian blurts out, heat rising to his face as all eyes are now on him, exactly the thing every spy could only hope for. Ever the professional, and more livid and also somehow more mortified than Caspian, Dehan’s there to safely remove the tray with the rest of the drinks from his hands, and the two of them hurry to their hands and knees, clearing the glass and sopping up the mess.

Someone’s dress gets a bit of a splatter, but Helva’s at their side to rectify it immediately, that rectification involving a loud condemnation of the lesser social classes and promises to have the expensive clothing expressly and professionally cleaned.

“Go clean yourself up,” Dehan declares at him shortly when they’ve retreated to the kitchen to dispose of the fragments of glass.

Caspian looks down at himself. It’s not the most unkempt he’s ever been but it’s not great either. Running to and from the kitchen all day already had him disheveled, and now there’s the stickiness of the cocktails he’ll have to try and scrub from his hands and sleeves.

Despite the catastrophe, he’s grateful for some respite, and heads through summarily well-furnished hallways in search of a bathroom.

The first one he finds is occupied. He assumes there’s probably another, though, but before he heads off in search of it, he recognizes the two voices filtering in from behind the door.

Uryana does have one person in particular in attendance who seemed especially loyal, and that person – Alida? Al-yida? Not important – are currently convening just a foot away.

It’s the wine that gets Uryana in the end – with a looser tongue, she excitedly reveals to her friend that her wedding is set for the 45th day of Summer. A bit soon, but, the intention is to throw the largest and most lavish event of the season, at least in their circles, and the rush will be well worth it.

There’s the rustling of the lock, the turning of the handle, and Caspian retreats swiftly around the corner, as if he’s only just begun to head their way. Their noses and cheeks are noticeably freshly powdered with talc, and they giggle and clutch at each other in giddiness over the news they’ve just shared.

Though he’s achieved what was asked of him, Helva makes Caspian stay for the duration of the event, so he cleans off and sweeps up with the rest of the hired staff. All under the pretense of not betraying his cover, she says, but he’s fairly certain she’s just annoyed at his having dropped those drinks in the parlor.

When all’s said and done, and they’re finally alone, the house far darker and more bereft without the musicians’ light – Caspian tells Helva the intended wedding date, and heads for the door out of reach of her clutches, which he’s sure were impending.

“Driselle’s to be married too,” she says, watching him with fair glint from the far end of the room. “You’re invited, if you like.”

“As a real guest this time, I hope.”

“I’ve not yet made up my mind.”

Caspian edges closer to the door. “When’s it meant to be?”

Helva beams. “I thought you might have already guessed – this Summer, 45.”

But it really ends, as it so often does, with Caspian leaning over a canal, plumes of smoke issuing thick and hazy from the pipe in his hand. He’s covered in stains from head to toe, glaring against his white shirt and still perceptible even against the black.

It’s very rare Taalviel is expressly and apparently anything but glooming, in her alien-like, wide-eyed way. But she’s upset now, uncharacteristically visibly so, and it’s unusual enough for Caspian to give pause.

“…are you okay?” he asks, and it comes out stilted and in awkward cadence because it’s not a thing he’s asked her very often.

That’s mutual, though, because usually they don’t have to ask, even if they don’t care – there’s enough between them to always know.

To this, though, she shakes her head.

Caspian wonders again – but with none of his earlier mirth – if this may be to do with his sister having a friend.

“…let’s go home,” he says, not sure how to help her, not sure why it’s crossed his mind to bother helping her - but the exertions of his day bear down upon him suddenly, until he feels himself start to bend.

In her quietness, she only nods, and as they follow each other down the lamplit canals they say little else.

--
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Caspian
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Featured Thread (2)

Tabby and Talc

Postby Madeira Dusk on February 29th, 2020, 1:30 am

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Caspian

Skills
  • Observation: 4xp
  • Socialization: 1xp
  • Logic: 2xp
  • Disguise: 1xp
  • Cooking: 1xp
  • Intelligence: 2xp

Lores
  • Helva: unclear motives
  • Observation: noting escape routs
  • Taalviel: has a secret boyfriend?
  • Lore of formal place settings
  • Intelligence: wine will loosen tongues

Awards & Retribution


Notes
I quite liked that cold open. Another excellent thread!

There's quite a few skills you requested that I couldn't find in the thread; like brawling, when he doesn't get into any fights, and persuasion when he's not trying to convince anyone of anything. If you still want those skills send me a PM with how they apply and we can hash it out like gentlemen. (ง •̀_•́)ง
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