Completed Prattle and Prick

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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]

Prattle and Prick

Postby Caspian on May 27th, 2019, 5:34 am

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    65 Spring 519
A sigh escapes Caspian as he regards his reflection in one of Saticath’s gold-backed mirrors. The kitchen’s grown balmy in the past quarter-bell, Saticath having elected to bake something that appeared half-submerged in fruit liqueur, and to escape the haze and her bustling about, he retreats to the furthest divan by the window, mirror yet in tow. Reclined against the cushions now, he holds the mirror overhead, peering up at himself at various angle and tilt.

“You alright there, doll?” Saticath calls over without looking away from her culinary fuss, flour dusted up to her elbow and a healthy dose of the crimson liqueur splashed across her skirts.

“I just don’t know if they’re even,” Caspian replies, frowning, then forcing himself to relax his expression and frowning all the more over the self-imposed effort. Mirror still held aloft, he scrutinizes his brows, and he’s quite certain it’s no trick of the light that the left rises ever a millimeter higher than the right.

“I told you I’d do it for you in a tick.”

“But it was a long tick, your longest to date, and besides that I don’t think I ought to rack up any more favors out of you.”

The tweezers have gone and lost themselves, and no amount of his groping about the low-slung coffee table beside him, within the divets of the divan cushions beneath him, or rummaging through his own pockets makes them known.

Such a bother that he might have to rise again, as Saticath’s voluptuous furniture has a way of swallowing one whole.

Before he rallies himself to the bare minimum, his hostess having made it clear she’s only got so many sets of hands and all of them spoken for, a young woman in a more disheveled state than what’s already customary to come bursting through Saticath’s door makes her entrance.

And for her problems, Caspian notes with a grumble and pout, Saticath readily drops everything.

There’s a lot of wailing to be had, only the half of it perceivable to Caspian, due largely in part to this apparently being the culmination to a social saga involving the employees of the brothel across the way, and otherwise to the aforementioned wailing, which takes most intelligible syllables down with it.

“-that scurvy bastard!” the girl adds in final punctuation to her grand collection of accusations against parties far from present, flinging herself into Saticath’s arms and sobbing into her already liqueur-soaked shoulder.

In the course of the explanation of her woes, Caspian had at several turns decided he may in fact be overthinking the architectural symmetry of his brows, and alternatively determining that he may actually be underthinking it, with new irregularities presenting themselves depending on the degree of light allotted.

“-make yourself useful,” Saticath’s finishing some indeterminate time later, with Caspian no closer to an accurate evaluation of his facial geometry.

It becomes apparent, from the settling silence in the room and the two women staring in his direction, that the last statement had been to his referral, and quite possibly not necessarily to his benefit.

With a sigh heavier than all the ones that came before, Caspian clasps the mirror down to his chest and regards them sternly. “It that a note of assignment I sense hanging about the air? Sans my own consultation?”

“Its an easy favor, doll. And I assume you’ve nothing better to do.”

“What I’ve got going on here,” he says, gesturing emphatically around the whole of his face, “is a lot more than nothing, and, i hazard to guess, better than what you’ve planned for me to do.”

“Just find out who he’s sleeping with, alright?” Saticath replies. “And bring that swirly stabber.”

Fortunately for him - because the idea of going out of his way to search for, fetch, retrieve, or in general, of moving the barest inch from his current position currently presents itself as an unacceptable one - his Obfuscate dagger lies on the floor directly to his left, in its sheath and attached to his belt, well within arm’s reach.

Through Herculean effort he closes that most minimum of distances, dragging the belt and dagger towards him and on, and looks between his friend and his friend’s friend and tries his best to feign an appropriate and well-earned level of irritation. Anything less might only encourage this sort of behavior out of them, after all. “I had a feeling it was something along those lines.”

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Prattle and Prick

Postby Caspian on August 31st, 2019, 10:58 am

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    As a matter of course, of dignity and self-respect and clinging to the remnants of both and also of wanting to feel he’s had the last say, Caspian refuses to pay for his own ravosala ride. Saticath packs him off onto one with her own mizas and directions to the target location pressed into the driver’s hand.

    Caspian holds out his own.

    “What’s that, now?” Saticath raises an eyebrow.

    “Suppose this takes longer than it should, and I get peckish?”

    “You’re asking me for lunch money?”

    “I work up an appetite when I’m... working.”

    “Yes, sure, except that that’s historically and categorically totally untrue?”

    Caspian searches for and presents his usual expression for conveying aghastness. Conventionally put, with a bit of a drop to the jaw, a slackening of the wrists, but highly effective all the same, because Saticath’s digging back into her purse for -

    “- hey!” Caspian exclaims at the ravosalaman as he nearly topples over, the watercraft having suddenly jerked away from the spot to which it was docked.

    “Oops?” Saticath says with no trace of genuine regret, making no effort to follow them along the canal while she still can, like a real friend would. She tucks the money back into her pocket and waves her empty fingers at him airily.

    “But Sati -“ Caspian starts to whine, leaning towards her plaintively.

    Under his sudden shifting weight, the boat rocks and dips, causing the driver to hiss at him and raise his paddle overhead to demonstrate what he might do should Caspian continue to refuse to sit still.

    Glumly, and resolute in feeling that absolutely everything around him is spiraling out of his control despite his not having deserved a bit of it - first his eyebrows, and then being muscled into expending efforts for the sake of, what, a well-being that isn’t his own - he settles back into his seat, but perpendicularly to the boat’s alignment, his legs cast jauntily over one side and his head thrown back over the other.

    To any onlookers, or anyone who doesn’t know him - though of the latter, he suspects even they might misunderstand his overwrought displays of behavior and derive more truth from it than their actually may be - it seems that he’s at the height of despondency, the tumultuous apex of the day’s nadir, and that regarding today’s mission, the details had gone in one ear and out the other. That’s far from the case, fortunately for Saticath and her friend Lindra? Lindrana? from the brothel across the way. Mistress L’s, for the past few seasons, enjoyed the regular attentions of a particular patron, the foreman at an embroidery shop, shop in the sense of rows of underpaid women made to toil over workbenches with reams of fabric and needles and endless spoils of glossy threads, remaking the design of the hour, under the pressure of the hour to maximize their individual production under threat of being canned. Very recently, however, he’s suddenly stopped coming round, and out of concerns both ardent and fiscal, Mistress L would like to know why. The suspected culprit is that he’s simply found a new object of his affections, one of the girls at the shop (a Mistress M, perhaps? L hadn’t found the joke as wildly amusing as he).

    To his relief, his taskmasters hadn’t gone on to demand that he do something so drastic as tip poison into her lunch, or even heckle.

    But he is meant to get her fired.

    For once, his incompetence in the foreign industries he so often finds himself in may be the most useful thing in his arsenal.

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    Prattle and Prick

    Postby Caspian on August 31st, 2019, 1:46 pm

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      The ravosala drops him off in another part of The Docks, somewhere along the easternmost side of the city. The driver, glad to see him go, barely conceals his sigh of exasperation when Caspian hops off and away. Despite the immoderate languidness of his pose during the trip, Caspian had very much been paying attention, and even through the nooks and swivels and turns of the canals’ winding construction, he’s determined they’ve ultimately just reached the diametrically opposed area of the city to his own.

      Women of all ages are filing into the building Saticath had mentioned to him - more like repeated the address several times over, because maybe he’s just a touch too good at feigning disinterest. The youngest seems to be somewhere around 12, the eldest in the echelons past 70, and were this Sunberth he supposes the brackets might be shifted and lower and constrained to children of reasonable dexterity at 7 and those already badly worn at 45, with the odd decrepit hag for good measure, the origins of whom no one knows nor questions.

      The first worry that comes to mind is conspicuousness. Though he’s hardly of the hulking and masculine bend, he’s still the odd one out here - until, to his relief, he spots a smattering of men who seem to be employed at the same station. No one’s got flashy silver spirals strapped to their waists, though, but he’s already taken care of that, and on the ravosala ride here, while nattering on with the driver about suffering chronic underapppreciation and friends who’ve a habit of taking advantage of you at your most vulnerable - well, the driver hadn’t much to say on the topic and Caspian had taken the downtime to tuck his dagger beneath his waistband instead, his blousy tunic readily concealing all. So it’s not the worst, this barest and most minimal level of camouflage, but still not ideal - which calls to mind again the question as to why Saticath hadn’t just come and done this herself.

      The second worry isn’t so much a worry as it is a moment of befuddlement. No one questions him as he enters the building - there’s no demand for verification of his identity, his merits both relevant and ornamental, his intentions for being here today or for how long he might stay. The overall assumption applied to everyone being given a bolt of pricked fabric, case of needles and thread, and the pattern for the day’s design is that one isn’t here unless one absolutely needs to be, one’s livelihood and that of their immediate household on the line. The principle of desperation leading one to lend themselves to just about anything - and he sees it now, the closer he looks at his present company’s faces, that even in the younger ones there’s visible strain on the eyes and darkening below.

      At least it’s clean, and everyone has their limbs and it doesn’t seem to be a place to either cultivate or tolerate casual flagellation, unlike some places he’s been. That’s what he’s holding onto as he - again, without being interrogated or even directed - selects a seat at one of the tables in a corner, towards the back and nearest the exit. In minutes, the room approaches capacity and then rapidly exceeds it, until the woman who’d handed Caspian his supplies begins turning people away. Lucky him - it appears he’s come at the very right moment, then. Good thing he hadn’t, as he’d been so tempted, decided to instigate a sparring match with the ravosalaman on the way over.

      Everyone around him’s long since unfurled their patterns, cut their bolts and threaded their needles. Mimicking the woman beside him even as to the position of her equipment on their shared table, with only the barest alteration to where she’s left her scissors, he catches up with the rest of them, at least in the trappings. One eye on the office door at the front of the room where the foreman is likely taking his sweet time before beginning work himself, his unfolds the copy of the pattern he’s been given.

      Scrutinizing it pulls his attention away from the office door. Scrutiny is precisely what it deserves, because he’s never really seen such a thing in his life. There’s a grid printed across the page, and on the grid rows upon rows of markings he can’t fathom. When he pulls back and squints he supposes he discerns a pattern from the cloud; when he peers closer again, he notices the markings seem to come, for the most part, in clusters. In the bottom left corner, he spots a legend, and - ah, so each individual marking must represent something, and its placement on the page indicating that’s where the action must be performed on the fabric. But the action itself is...?

      “They’re colors,” the woman beside him grunts. “That ‘un -“ She raps a long nail against a marking resembling a clockwise swirl. “- that’ll be green.”

      Caspian glances. She’s a little gruff, but - harmless, it seems. And has probably witnessed plenty of inexperienced people wander in hoping for a day’s fair wages.

      Green, then -?

      “-no,” she interjects sharply as he reaches for a spool. “Dark ‘un.”

      He opts for a deep forest green.

      When he considers the whole of it armed with that information, the spools and the bobbins and the crosshatching and how the fabric’s been pierced evenly with dots all over to suggest the grid itself - he sees it now, how this might go, that the embroidery is meant to be quite one-to-one.

      A little tedious, this work, isn’t it? But not wholly uninteresting. He’s frowning over the pattern with it held up practically to his nose when the office door squeaks open, and a man whose severe glasses worn like a badge of honor, and even more severely affected bearing suggest that this, finally, must be Mistress L’s absent mark, and his target for the day.

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      Last edited by Caspian on September 5th, 2019, 10:53 am, edited 2 times in total.
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      Prattle and Prick

      Postby Caspian on August 31st, 2019, 2:58 pm

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        Not the handsomest man about town, is he? Not the handsome sort to begin with, if one’s being honest - but Caspian supposes that isn’t why Miss L appreciated his company. He’s got a pinched face, the effect assisted by his expression limited to holding his mouth in small, tight frown, and he appears to favor long, slow strides with his arms held behind his back as he surveys the room.

        The atmosphere isn’t actually very dire; a little hurried, and bustling, and hushed as the nature of the work might suggest. Oddly, it seems that the foreman himself is the only one attempting to bring a sense of dread and portentousness to the table.

        If he were any good at the character he seems enamored with playing, he’d single someone out at odd intervals, pick on a cherub and then a mouse. To really cement his place he ought to tackle one of the more senior workers next, if only to prove that in this space, one should never rest easy, and that no one is safe, not even the most adroit -

        “Having trouble?”

        The foreman, it seems, has taken Caspian’s silent advice, only to have selected him as the object for public ridicule.

        Compared to everyone else, Caspian’s grid-pierced canvas is dramatically blank, save for one dark green skein he’s dared thread through.

        But he’s really not good at this as he wants to be, the foreman, because he’s already relented and is jabbing a finger at the woman beside Caspian.

        “Help him,” he orders, to which the woman only stares blankly at in response.

        When the foreman walks away - didn’t drive the point very much home, did he? - the woman swiftly reaches over and threads a rainbow’s worth of Caspian’s needles for him.

        “Start in the middle,” she says, circling the centermost quadrant of his pattens with a red pencil. “And start again with the dark green.”

        Though she really doesn’t have to - it’s only counting against her at the end of the day - she shows him how to stitch in the first place. It’s basically row after row of little x’s -

        Cross-stitch,” she says slowly and clearly, as if explaining that the sun rises and sets. “How long did you say you’ve been doing this?”

        “Never have,” he replies, and at her look of incredulity, he quickly adds, “lace-maker. Sorry. Just like my father, and his father before that.”

        Whether she finds that believable - a lineage of lace-making patriarchs? Why not - she’s returned to her own work, and leaves him to sink or swim.

        With enough knowledge now to keep his hands reasonably busy, at least for show, he can return the majority of his attentions to the steadily orbiting foreman.

        Not much happens. For hours. And the more that time passes, the more obviously further behind the others Caspian falls. After a certain point, from a swift look about, he realizes everyone’s covered more ground than he can ever hope to reasonably achieve. If the foreman comes around again -

        They don’t really seem to mind people scampering back and forth. The harshest thing he’s seen all day is the assistant turning the overflow of applicants away in the morning, and even that had been done with an apology and a smile. He rather needs a stretch anyway -

        And that’s when he spots her.

        He’d had a feeling the foreman tended to linger in the right-most quadrant of the room, towards the front, specifically by a young woman in a powder blue pinafore with her hair pulled back into a tight bun. So tight as to be considered severe -

        Right.

        Whoever said opposites attract must have sorely misunderstood both themselves and others.

        Though he’d very much like to pop outside for a brisk skip and a smoke to clear his head, he wills himself the patience to observe a little while longer. Two more rotations later and he’s noted on both counts that the foreman tends to accelerate his droning pace when he approaches her, spends about an extra half-chime lingering over her work, not to mention a conspicuously drawn out full-chime on the work of the other woman who happens to sit directly beside - and when he departs, his pacing is more of a feeble loiter.

        That’s her, then. Caspian’s caught her smiling on all occasions, each one poorly concealed.

        Time to - well, he isn’t sure until he gets there.

        Conveniently for him, the extra rack of bolts and wealth of supplies is just beside her; extra conveniently is that she and the woman beside her have decided to take that smoke-and-a-skip break Caspian’s had on his own mind. As he gets closer, he realizes she’s fairly prolific here, rather good at the job being asked of her, and has several completed bolts piled nicely in a basket beneath her chair.

        A quick glance around - the foreman’s in his office, with no reason to be out among the masses now that the new object of his affection’s not in the room, and besides that everyone’s got their head down - and he grasps the handle of his Obfuscate through his tunic, granting himself the shimmer of invisibility it affords as an extra boost. With a quick dip and a swipe, he makes off with half of the basket for himself, along with a blank stack of canvas from the supplies rack to conceal it on the way back to his table. He takes the long route, walking the widest perimeter, and releases his grip on the magical dagger when he reaches the very back of the room, rejoining the world of the visible and living as he crosses the minimum vector necessary to reach his seat.

        At the sight of his plunder - he’d tossed it into his own basket beneath his chair, but the sudden appearance of an admirable amount of work where there previously was none is hard to miss - the woman beside Caspian only raises an eyebrow, before seeming to decide she’s really got better things to do than bother asking.

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        Prattle and Prick

        Postby Caspian on August 31st, 2019, 3:30 pm

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          Maybe it’s overkill, but Caspian makes two more trips to Mistress L’s usurper’s table, all with the aid of right timing and the surplus of concealment the Obfuscate dagger lends him. The first venture is to nick another couple bits of her work - not too much, not for the reduction in volume to be so noticed - and the second is to deposit a good few back.

          Though in quantity she’s unknowingly been made up for - not to the level she may have been if not for Caspian proving to be a silent obstacle, but the stack’s risen all the same - in quality there’s now much to be desired. Back at his table with his spoils, he’d initially been pleased just to have proper props in hand he could feign to be making active progress on - until it occurred to him that to get her fired, really fired, fired enough that he won’t be muscled into doing this all over again - it’s not just the amount of work that will need to suffer. What she has to show at the end of the day will need to be atrocious, ineptitudes of a variety hideous enough as to suggest intentional neglect - and here, finally, is Caspian’s time to shine.

          Out of a sense of - what? Pride for one’s labor towards which one can’t really lay claim? Errantly pointless personal satisfaction? - well, whatever the case may be, he does keep a bit of her work in his basket as if he’d done it himself. It’s impeccable stuff, and she deserves all manner of praise, a raise, the employment itself which she’s rightfully earned. His excuse is the importance of an exit strategy, a functioning and flawless one, because infiltration comes into parts, and the second is the one where he also makes sure to evacuate the mission, if he can, without leaving suspicion as to his being there to begin with.

          So it just looks better, he thinks, if he’s got something competent to show for when the day is through.

          The rest of it, though, he treats to his own artistic sensibilities. With his neighbor’s scissors, slipped from her side of the desk and into his possession when she leaves for her own break, he hacks and slashes whole swathes of the stitches the foreman’s new sweetheart has painstakingly laid down. In their places, and in excess and disregard for the pattern, he lays down his own, in colors randomly selected and violently clashing, and some of the stitches only half-completed, and a good deal more not resembling x’s or crosses at all.

          This is the mangling he tosses into the heap of her other work when she’s left for the restroom, and the very mangling that has the foreman graying and appalled at the end of the day.

          He fires her on the spot, in front of everyone, and the consternation on his face deriving, somehow, from a sense of personal betrayal. He had wanted exactness, maybe, stringent concision and orderliness that Mistress L and the brothel couldn’t bring. He thought he had found it here, believed it very deeply for a moment, and for it to come up short had rather dashed his expectations to bits.

          That’s what Caspian tells Saticath and the Mistress L at the end of the day, at least. At the heavily embellished way with which he chooses to tell the story - and his scant acknowledgement of her wisdom for insisting he bring the magical dagger - Saticath rolls her eyes.

          “If anything, he sounds almost as dramatic as you,” she says, but all’s well and good, because she’s pouring him a glass of cordial and ruffling his hair. “You alright, then?” she asks the avenged lady.

          “Over it,” Mistress L replies with a shrug, departing abruptly for the appointments she’s kept waiting.

          “What’s done is done. Come on then, doll,” Saticath says to Caspian, beckoning him closer with tweezers in hand.

          Caspian settles into the couch he’d missed all day, his head in Saticath’s lap as she with keener eye plucks and pulls.

          “I only wish...” he begins.

          “Hmm?”

          “I suppose I only wish - she hadn’t cried.”

          And in front of everyone too.

          “Go back and right the wrong, then.”

          Caspian laughs.

          “Yeah,” Saticath says. “Didn’t think so.”

          And so he tells himself - neither had he.

          WC: 733
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          Caspian
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