Solo Dart and Dally

And damask and darlings. [Job Thread]

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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]

Dart and Dally

Postby Caspian on August 18th, 2019, 11:16 pm

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50 Summer 519


This time, Helva cuts to the chase, and is waiting for him at an umbrella-topped table outside the Silver Sliver Tavern.

Personal conceit has no bearing here - she’s got her legs crossed and her body angled directly towards the front door of his apartment building, and is pensively sipping a lemon-garnished glass of water through a straw.

Caspian strongly believes he’s been buffeted by cosmic degrees of misfortune in the past, but if her being here is mere coincidence - highly unlikely, because this is The Docks and nowhere near the scrubbed and perfumed arrangements she with her means exclusively frequents.

Though Helva doesn’t appear to be in a mood for wasting time, Caspian rather is, and having been first and foremost alerted to his sometime employer’s presence by Taalviel - sometimes it has its perks, that thing where one’s sister is a bird - he finds an immense amount of amusement in taking the other exit into a narrow and less attractive back alley, creeping up behind her and out of the range of her patrol, and sidling silently onto the seat beside her.

“I do have to say - I find your affinity for anything sweet rather surprising,” he says, enjoying a presumptive spoonful of the artfully whipped, fruit-laden trifle she’d ordered during her watch.

At his sudden appearance, she gasps, whirling about and clutching her purse to her chest. Since their meeting, he’s been highly aware of her far greater affinity for artifice, but from her initial reaction and the livid glare she’s pouring all of her energies into, he really got her there, and got her good.

Impishly, he props an elbow up on the table, regarding her with his head crooked to the side, another bit of trifle already repossessing the spoon.

“That’s a nice outfit you have on today,” he goes on blithely, reveling in how her face contorts - reveling a bit too obviously, actually, and if he’s got any sense he really ought to take it down a notch.

“That’s a nice one you have on yourself,” she replies through gritted teeth.

He gives the spoon an airy wave. She’s not wrong, but when is that not the case?

“I need your help,” she says before he can devise another way to derail her.

“Another niece whose career I can further illuminate?”

“Precisely.”

Caspian sets the spoon down with a clink. “I was joking.”

“I wasn’t.”

“How you love to meddle.”

“What can I say? Family-oriented to a fault.”

Caspian settles back into his seat, crossing his legs in mirror of her own pose. “Tell me, then. What can I do for you now, that a terrifyingly capable person like you can’t do for herself?”

“Don’t sell yourself short. I would hardly be believable in the guise of a steward.”

“Relegating me to the sweats and labors of the service industry again, then?”

“You seemed to take so well to it the last time.”

“Surely by now you’ve determined how I feel about accumulating dirt beneath my fingernails.”

“So you’ll help me or not?”

By now, Caspian’s claimed the trifle entirely as his own, and the light parries have engaged a more whimsical side of Helva’s
combative mood.

“As long as you can promise I’ll be home in bed by eleven,” Caspian replies, meaning none of it.

For a moment, he wonders if he has in fact discovered that last straw, tossed it atop the pile he’d so generously and relentlessly contributed to in a matter of minutes, and sent the whole thing aflame and hurtling off past a point of no return. But she pulls it back, Helva, and the new series of metamorphoses of her visible expressions, settling on one where she’s taking a sip of her water through tightly pursed lips, and allowing silence to tick between them.

“My niece Signe is participating in a beauty pageant tomorrow afternoon. I need you to remove the only other contestant who might prevent her from winning.”

“Rather serious stakes, then?” From Helva, perhaps it goes without saying. “You’ll have to clarify what you mean by ‘remove’. As specifically as possible, please. My skill sets only go so far, never mind what my morals might have to do with it.”

“Her opponent is extremely allergic to speckled eel.”

“As in develop-an-embarrassing-rash, gone-redder-than-my-rouge-and-my-cousins-mock-me-relentlessly-at-holiday-dinners type of allergy? Or the kind where her windpipe closes and she quite possibly goes into cardiac arrest onstage in front of all her family and peers? I’ll tell you what - I’m not so sure how I feel about the latter.”

“And if I promised it strikes some happy middle?”

The trifle was more to his liking than he’d expected, and he’s polishing it off with gusto. Reappropriating her food without asking, it seems, ranks lower on his list of sins, and they watch each other with mutual fascination.

“I’ll consider it,” he replies, scraping the bottom of the glass. “And all the more if you buy me another.”

WC: 831

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Last edited by Caspian on September 11th, 2019, 1:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Dart and Dally

Postby Caspian on August 24th, 2019, 7:29 pm

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The task at hand does not, fortunately, involve Caspian plying his local butcher for a slab of what ought to be someone’s lovely dinner, and slathering a girl he’s never met before with its entrails. That’s what he’s been compulsively imagining since Helva mentioned it, and she hadn’t done much - hadn’t done dutifully enough to put those hypotheticals to rest.

In the end, it’s exactly as he’d accusingly predicted, and he’s relegated to manual labor in a backroom, playing a new and forgettable addition to a catering company providing the edible entertainment at the target’s elder sister’s birthday part. As comes with the role, he’s laden down with utensils and directives for which he has no prior experience nor genuine interest.

Aside from consuming, in mass, the delectable bits and trifles they’re preparing by the dozens and loading onto silver platters.

There’s a satisfying degree of variation to the collection of hors d’oeuvres they’re putting together, full flush of colors and textures in pleasing array. The slender toasted slices of reed flour bread topped with cod pate and a sprig of something in a lively shade of green is the best out of the bunch - and Caspian’s got the informed opinion here, well-earned several times over, as evidenced by the platter’s capacity steadily decreasing despite its constant replenishment. If he shifts and shuffles the ones that survive, though (survive him, to be exact) so the gaps aren’t so evident and the spaces between each are approximately equidistant -

Chop,” a frowning chef intones deeply, dumping several bushels of scallions beside him. He slides a heavy wooden chopping board across the counter and pointedly holds out a gleaming kitchen knife, well-worn handle first.

Caspian’s protests fall on willfully deaf and unsympathetic ears. Aside from washing dishes and eating what arrives on them, he has no claims to prowess for any tasks to do with a kitchen, and even the least seasoned of watchful eyes would immediately be able to tell that he’s somewhere he doesn’t belong, posing as someone he very much -

Oh.

And now the chef who’s just issued the command is walking away, because he’s got better things to do, and under typical circumstances the ability of even the lowest member of the kitchen staff to successfully chop a handful of leafy greens is not something that should be worried about.

With no one actively monitoring him, he has the freedom to test the knife’s weight, and fumble as he will with the rest of the lot he’s been given. The knife’s heaviest towards the base, where the steel’s the widest, and he drops it down on a handful of greens chosen at random. So now he’s turned one bundle into two, of lengths not as equal as they maybe ought to be. Ponderously, he chops down on the left bundle, splitting it also into two, then does the same with the right, leaving him with a grand total of four. As carefully as he can manage, he takes each grouping of four and turns the sum into eight. They’re meant to be quite small, though, aren’t they? The little - ringlets of green onions that are used as garnish? So to get them that small does that mean he has to turn this eight into 16, then on to 32, and - 64? Will 64 finally be enough? He couldn’t possibly have the wherewithal to take this all the way to 128 -

“Going very well, is it?”

Caspian swivels towards whoever’s approached him. That voice - that particular snide bend - he’s heard it before, hasn’t he, and not so very long ago?

To his dismay, he discovers that the person who seems to be the only one here with enough free time to dawdle and strike up a conversation is an old coworker of sorts - the man also around his age who’d been in the employ of the catering company at Helva’s house last winter. He’d been entirely unimpressed with Caspian then, and seems just as unenthused to see him now.

Never a good thing to run into the unexpected - though this doesn’t necessarily mean his cover’s blown. Incompetence, after all, isn’t cured overnight. It might have been far odder if Caspian suddenly demonstrated a level of hypercompetency now, when not so many weeks ago he hadn’t been able to tell the dessert and soup spoons apart.

“It’s certainly going,” Caspian replies cooly.

Another turn towards the unexpected - instead of battering, as would have been very easy to achieve, the other man gestures towards his own assigned basket.

“I’ve got squash and tubers, and they just need to be washed. Want to trade?”

Caspian waits for the punchline, but there doesn’t seem to be one.

“Well?”

“Done,” he decides, with the premonition that 128 nor 256 would have been nearly enough.

It only takes him a few moments to wash the gravel and mud from the bounty, and he spends the next few minutes watching the other man swiftly chop both their lots. As he leans against their station, he can feel the glass vial of eel’s oil in his pocket pressing against his hip - Helva’s far more elegant alternative to him resorting to smearing a dead fish across everything the target owns.

WC: 884


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Dart and Dally

Postby Caspian on August 25th, 2019, 1:46 am

Image
“Dehan, right?” Caspian says when they steal a moment in the back alley alone.

Dehan must not have expected Caspian to remember his name, because he lights up a bit upon hearing it, and the worst of his critical edge seems to soften. It’s the little victories that matter sometimes, and Caspian celebrates by, to the point, lighting his pipe and handing it to Dehan for the first drag.

“And you’re...?” Dehan trails off, and at least seems to have taken on an appropriate level of embarrassment for failing to reciprocate.

“The best kitchen porter Ravok’s ever seen,” he replies. “Nah. It’s Caspian.”

“I’ll tell you what, Caspian - you’re not the worst.”

“I find that hard to believe.”

“You can tell one end of a knife from the other. You’d be surprised how many can’t even manage that.”

Dehan passes the pipe over. Caspian fills his lungs, and on the exhale, sends some of the stress that’s pent itself up in his system out with the fog.

“What happened to the other catering company?” he asks.

“Turnover is what it is,” Dehan says with a shrug. “Once you’ve done, or once they’ve done with you, it’s on to the next, and the next after that. I mean - you already know.”

Right - in this lifetime, he very much does.

“Do you know anything about the family?” He inclines his head towards the grand house of their employer.

“Not anything I didn’t already figure. Too much money to blow, and not enough days in the week to blow it. But I think the old man makes a killing off selling tabernacle tarps, advocates’ ascots, rites’ robes - that sort of thing. Two daughters, three sons, all of them old enough to look after themselves and the family business, so - the wife just lounges and idles about the house, I suppose.”

“I wonder what that’s like,” Caspian says, though what he really wants to say is that sometimes one needs to make time for a bit of lounging and idling, there being a will then there also being a way - he keeps it to himself, though, that the appearance of dirt beneath his nails is actually a very atypical occurrence, and finds the groove for commiseration that Dehan had denied him when they first met.

The harried, adversarial tone that had characterized their prior encounter isn’t at play here. In fact, Caspian hazards to guess that Dehan might sort of like him, maybe even like-him like-him, and if he looks past the acerbic insults of the past, he can bask in the flattery of the present. They’re leaning against a low stone wall, in matching stained aprons and sleeves hastily rolled high, and Caspian swears it’s not just wishful thinking that when Dehan accepts the proffered pipe, he leans in a little closer too and doesn’t draw back the distance. Testing that theory, though -

“You’ve got a bit there,” Caspian says, reaching his hand out towards a shred of minced green that’s woven itself into Dehan’s hair. Making it natural, though, going slow, he allows himself a hesitant wobble - and when Dehan tips his head towards him with a trace of a smile, he takes it as a sign that he might do more, and brushes his fingertips across, flicking the convenient excuse for contact onto the pavement before them.

“Thanks,” Dehan says, looking away, but with a tinge flushing across his cheeks.

Caspian rests his palm against the low stone wall, less than a breath away from Dehan’s, and notes that he hasn’t made any indication of wanting otherwise.

“We should head back in,” Dehan says, passing the pipe back to Caspian. “You’ll have to carry on chopping without me.”

“Without you? Where’ll you be?”

Dehan draws a red bow tie out of his pocket, and a matching rosette. “They’ve decided I’m good-looking enough to join the party. To hold the platters and mill around, I mean. Ah, I’m joking - mostly. But I don’t think they bother giving the newest hires much say in the matter.”

It won’t do to be confined. Dehan’s job is exactly where he ought to be.

“Take me with you,” Caspian says, sliding his hand over Dehan’s and gently squeezing.

Dehan startles for a moment, but doesn’t rear back.

“You’ve seen how lousy I am at that station,” Caspian continues, sidling closer, glancing quickly about and determining they’re still alone. The clatter from the kitchen filters out into the darkening air, mixing with the distant but growing chatter and laughter from the party guests who seem to now be trickling in. “Please?” he adds softly. Now they’re nose to nose, but before Dehan can answer he categorically closes the distance between them, pressing a kiss that’s followed by grasping hands and an encouraging amount of reciprocation.

Dehan’s shut his eyes and appears to be enjoying himself; Caspian knows because he’s fluttered his open, gaze training on the back kitchen door, all reflexes tensed to put their session to a halt in the event someone intrudes. But no one’s there, so they steal a moment, and then another and another, until Caspian finds the right beat to pause and sigh.

“I dunno, I -“ Dehan begins.

“Please?” Caspian repeats, lower and with a biting nip to Dehan’s neck.

“-ah, alright. As long as you promise not to drop anything this time.”

Pleased as the punch he’ll be sure to help himself to later, Caspian hums a smoke-strewn affirmative, the pipe glowing and crackling in his hands.

WC: 926


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Dart and Dally

Postby Caspian on August 25th, 2019, 3:29 pm

Image
There are far more people in attendance than Caspian had expected. Better than there being fewer, as with the current capacity he feels more at ease, slipping in and away with little reason for anyone to take special notice. Initially, he’s concerned that there being more bodies, and all of them in motion, means he’ll have a harder time pinpointing and keeping track of the family - but that’s almost instantly assuaged when he spots a young woman sporting a heavily tiered silk dress and a shimmering tiara. And unless there’s something about the trends of Ravok’s well-to-do that Caspian’s missed, the coronation marks her as the older sister whose birthday is tonight’s cause for celebration. The three brothers aren’t far behind, all of them cajoling and boisterous and well into their 20’s. They’ve tasked themselves, as the little lords of the house, with opening a succession of bottles of something dark and likely expensive. Patting and primping down the birthday girl with excessively fluttering hands is a woman much in the archetypical vein of Helva, slender and glossed and dressed in silks of pale blush - the mother, then, and tending after the sons comes the thickly moustached father.

The younger daughter, then, the one Caspian’s been hired to make ill?

When he spots her, he wonders how he’d failed to notice her above all. Lithe of limb, of a mien cultured and aristocratic and a countenance tirelessly held high, her dress skimming gracefully off her figure and pinned with a cascade of blue and purple blossoms - whereas her older sister endlessly fidgets and necessitates the constant maintenance by her mother, he can see why one’s being put through the pageant gamut over the other.

A veritable blooming angel, his target - and in the course of his swanning about the party offering hors d’ouevres to people who barely bat an eye at him (and also don’t bother thanking or even granting him the basest amount of acknowledgment despite grabbing from the platters so freely - how does Dehan manage?) and running back to the kitchen to retrieve fresh stock, there isn’t a single instance of an undesirable personality trait or even the surfacing of an unattractive personal tic that could justify what he’s come here to do.

Not that one needs justification, right? Of means and ends, the ends are that Caspian earns enough to sustain him through the next day, and maybe also buy the pair of burgundy brogues he’s got his eye on, if he can swing it. But it seems a crux to him now, this task at hand, because she’s not a child but really not so much past one yet - and if she were a child, perhaps 12? 13? could he go through with it all the same, and it’s not like he’s playing at an assassination because Helva had promised him the consequences would be purely temporary and cosmetic - so if she’s not really going to come to any lasting harm perhaps she may as well be all of 12 or 13, and he’s overthinking when he shouldn’t have cause to think at all -

“Tried this one yet?” Dehan says when they happen to retreat away from the party and back to the kitchens at the same time. He’s holding out another of the abundance of pretty trifles, this one a bright red berry of bite-sized width, that’s been hollowed out and has its pulp reconstituted and repossessed as a rosy mousse.

Ah, right - in the swing of things he’d forgotten he’d assigned a certain facet of his attention to a certain individual, one that can’t be abandoned too soon.

“Mm, don’t think so?” Caspian says, taking it by the mouth with a wink.

And it’s petching good and incredible how these people can eat so finely and on a basis so regular it’s held as a norm.

In light of fairly overt cues, Caspian follows when Dehan asks for more of him, and the pair knock against the low stone wall in the settling dusk so raucously that they send their abandoned platters battering and crashing onto the pavement, and their leftover contents crumbling and scattering. This brings out one of the cooks, who waves a wooden spoon at them wildly and barks out a sharp retort that frankly, they deserve - and Caspian is set loose to do his job again, with an array of those slim toasted slices, each swiftly and discretely treated to a drop of eels’ essence. A bit overboard, maybe, and perhaps taking the chance that someone else he meets along the way might run into an unfavorable allergic reaction - but he’s half a mind to leave now, before Dehan has another chance to come buzzing round, and he’d rather take out the guesswork of which particular slice the prospective pageant queen might choose.

Passing through his rotation of the party more quickly than before, indulging only half as many clamoring hands, he plants himself next to Signe with full offering instead.

“Miss?” he says, not smiling too warmly, not drawing more attention to himself than he ought to.

She barely affords him a glance. “No thanks.”

Well.

Somehow, he had not calculated that. Everyone else is compulsively eating everything that appears under their noses, that’s what these are made for, so why isn’t she -

Here comes the fretting mother again with lips tightly pursed. “Do you have anything else? Something... lighter?”

Ah.

Given precisely the sort of contest she’s entering tomorrow, she’s probably been on a strict diet for weeks.

The possibility really hadn’t occurred to him until he’d had it spelled out.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he replies, though they already aren’t listening, and bows himself away.

What should he bring her, though? An entire scallion, raw and unsalted, so that she can nibble one like a hare?

From a distance, he renews his surveillance while turning his options over in his mind. Suppose he could just tip some of the vial into a glass of water - but would the smell be obvious, with no other flavors to mask it? At some point, though, he notes how her gaze lingers - and not on any one person or any of the hired entertainment, but on the red berries with mousse that Dehan had just treated him to, and which he has to concur may be the best smidge there.

Eel and dessert don’t really go hand in hand, but from what he remembers about having sampled it himself, the mousse might be just creamy enough to conceal. And Helva had sworn all it will take to do the job is the barest trace.

In the kitchen again, and Dehan’s just about to make off with a tray full of the desserts in question. Each of the hors d’ouevres gets made on rotation, and unwilling to stall any longer, Caspian swoops in and plucks the tray from Dehan with a purr of a thanks, which Dehan takes as nothing more than playfulness. Moving swiftly, Caspian eases the cork from the vial with his teeth, and laces each spot of mousse with a golden drop. The vial’s practically empty now, and if this doesn’t work - to the butcher it is, then, or digging for eel innards in the kitchen’s pile of scraps.

The opportune moment presents itself when someone of minor repute for the family arrives a touch more than fashionably late; Signe’s mother is called away to greet them, with Caspian seamlessly stepping into her place.

“Miss?” he says, proffering the bountiful tray where each syrup-glazed berry gleams ruby-like, with precious light.

Signe steals a glance towards her mother, and Caspian fights the compulsion to tell her he’s made absolutely certain she isn’t looking and he’s got this whole situation on lock.

“Thank you,” she says in hushed tones, selecting one of the berries for herself and popping it into her mouth. For a moment, she allows herself to beam broadly - and for a moment following, Caspian wonders if he hasn’t just done an awful thing. If only he might preserve this feeling for her always, bottle it up and offer it in condolence when the inevitable reaction takes its toll.

What’s done is done, though, and Caspian trawls the rest of the party on steady feet. Someone manages to snag a trifle from him before he can dispose the rest of them in a bin; whether they sensed the odd additive, he doesn’t linger long enough to find out.

WC: 1,427


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Dart and Dally

Postby Caspian on August 25th, 2019, 4:07 pm

Image
Though the odds are high that he’ll be hard-pressed to be entirely alone, Caspian hasn’t many other places where he might retreat and recuperate - so to the same old alley with the low wall it is, then, and who might be there but, naturally, Dehan and a reappropriated bottle of beer.

“Couldn’t find any takers?” Dehan says, raising an eyebrow curiously at the tray of berries, from which only two had been plucked.

It is odd, because for the duration of the night they’d proven to be fairly popular.

There is no decent explanation for him returning the opposite of empty-handed - resorting to the first thing that comes to mind, Caspian lets the tray and all the rest slip to the ground, grabs Dehan by the front of his shirt, and tugs him closer for a kiss. More reciprocal than ever, Dehan responds in kind, the bottle of beer left to teeter dangerously on the stone wall, and the unclaimed desserts now forgotten and trampled underfoot.

“You’re, ah -“ Dehan manages to stutter out when Caspian pulls back for air. “Not very good at this, are you? Catering, I mean. Because you’re, ah, plenty good with -“

Caspian stops him with another kiss. It’s not unpleasant, and Dehan’s quite alright enough, but truth be told he’s counting down to the hour when he can finally shuck off this stale, starched uniform and slip into his own damask and silks; and everything about him smells like things cultivated and drawn up from the earth, that is to say, his current physical state isn’t one he particularly enjoys and if he had his way -

The cook who’d caught and berated them earlier in the night makes his encore, this time flinging the boiling remnants of stew that have stuck to his spoon, with a shaking fist and plenty of unfiltered commentary to make his position abundantly clear.

It makes, unfortunately, the most sense to carry out the rest of his shift despite his having accomplished what he was asked to. When Signe falls deeply ill - and she does, not some third of a bell after she’s stolen a bit of freedom back from the constraints of her obligations, and it’s actually quite ghastly how ruddy and patched her skin goes, starting first across the eyes and then virulently down to her toes - it won’t do for him to be conspicuously absent. So he stays, with Dehan visibly attempting to tighten his orbit, which is all well and good except Caspian remembers that time not that long ago when Dehan had tried to ridicule him for not knowing how to set a table when there are more than a dozen utensils involved - and besides that, his voice is a little reedy and he’s not that good looking.

When their shift ends - the party having gone on even after the mother had escorted Signe away - Dehan tries his utmost to walk Caspian home.

“Knackered, just knackered,” Caspian says, halting them in the dark before this goes any further.

“Will I see you again, then?” Dehan posits with such an optimism that Caspian almost feels guilty for the second time that day, which is unusual and two times more than he might normally.

“I’m sure we’ll run into each other again,” Caspian replies as he backs away. “I’ve a habit of dallying about.”

“But -“

Whether it assuages or exacerbates the situation, Caspian doesn’t loiter long enough to find out - but he kisses Dehan on the cheek before darting off into the dark, heading for Helva’s home and treating himself to a ravosala ride, head thrown back to muse over the moon and stars gleaming above.

WC: 620
Total WC: 4,688


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Dart and Dally

Postby Marino Oceangem on June 20th, 2020, 2:12 pm

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Caspian

Skills
  • Cooking - 1 xp
  • Dagger - 1 xp
  • Disguise - 1 xp
  • Intelligence - 4 xp
  • Larceny - 1 xp
  • Observation - 4 xp
  • Persuasion - 5 xp
  • Poison - 1 xp
  • Rhetoric - 3 xp
  • Seduction - 4 xp
  • Socialization - 5 xp

Lores
  • Using Taaviel to scout ahead
  • Disguise: Kitchen staff
  • Impersonation: Keeping consistent
  • The balance of a kitchen knife
  • Persuasion: Establishing a repertoire
  • Seduction: Finding an excuse to make contact
  • Signe: Allergic to speckled eel
  • Accounting for diet when poisoning
  • Dehan: Thoroughly seduced

Awards & Retribution


NotesI enjoyed reading about how Caspian approached this mission. It was interesting from start to finish.
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