Completed The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

On a party for the Lark-adjacent, Caspian hunts for leads. [ROHKA]

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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]

The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Rohka on August 3rd, 2020, 9:26 pm

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To Caspian’s introduction as Taalim, Rohka gritted her teeth, unable to hide her recognition of the lie he was telling these girls. It was then that she’d realized the danger of her situation here. Any message, action, or feeling that was outside of the truth of her defined path could jeopardize the job she was given to help Lelia find her answers.

The sybil bowed her head and then looked away when Cas spoke of a bank. She forced a smile, but even that particular show of emotion pushed her boundaries. She was glad for the compliment, though. Being at the top of any class was hardly a dream that she’d had before, but it was nice to be introduced as such. With the families of Ravok, being at the top always had its own rumours of vengeful difficulties that she barely had the time to contemplate. Her own issues with the Calico family were enough for her. Slaves, in particular, were one such issue.

Rohka looked back down to the card with the females in front of a castle. “Thanks C-“ she stopped herself and then looked up to Caspian with a flash in her eyes. “Taalim,” she said, catching herself stumbling on the pronunciation of the name. “For the praise. It’s always an honour to do a reading for my partners.”

She turned to the girls and hastily shuffled the deck. “I mentioned that I came here with Ron, but perhaps that doesn’t matter at this point. He’s not here right now, and he’s been gone for more than a tick, and a part of me thinks I should go back and find him.” She was revealing far more than she intended to, but the tangent felt necessary for the line of thought being expressed via the drive to tell a fortune. “You see, I used to live by the lakeshore. Our family is different from the ones in power here. Niala, can you pick a card? I promise this will make some sense as soon as you do.”

Her lean arm reached out to swipe a card from the far right of the fanned deck.

Out came the three of swords, penetrating a heart.

“Heartbreak.” She let the moment linger for a bit. The chords of the music being played by the violins and flutes began to descend, filling the space with deep and delicate tones. “Niala, your feelings for your slaves runs through your blood. Needing to leave them at home seems to have caused more emotion than you’re letting on, here. I’m sorry,” she stated almost flatly. “When we’re hurt emotionally, and our heart’s been broken,” she put the card back into the deck as she paused and looked into the crowd for a moment.

“It may stay broken for a long period of time.” She put the deck back into her pocket. The mini reading was enough to let her know that this was a sensitive situation. Niala’s pale and solemn face seemed to shift and darken as she, too, looked towards the crowd of the party they were a part of.

“Niala, I speak from experience when I say that your mother may have your best interests at heart. I’m from a family that originally hated the idea of slaves, but grew to use them to build our lumber company. There is a lot of care that goes into treating your slaves correctly. Honestly, I left the family because I got fed up with having to deal with the emotions involved in such ethics. I needed to come here, into the city, to learn from Rhysol’s ways, and build the mental fortitude to handle business matters like my family has done over the years. I didn’t want to simply do as I was told. I wanted to understand my mother’s reasonings, for the actions she was taking, so that I could advise her accordingly.”

Rohka took a step back from the group and combed her fingers through her hair. “My work with Lelia has helped me improve my advisory capabilities. Though, I realize that my words here were technically unsolicited.” The sybil turned towards Caspian and brought a hand up to touch her throat.

“I can’t stay, Cas,” she said, knowing that the girls would hear her, but forgetting the nickname she’d needed to keep. The words held a foretelling that she only hoped the young man would grasp in full. “My place in this party was predetermined. I need to find what I’ve been looking for,” she said, before addressing the girls. “I hope you all find your answers as well.”

____

That night, she returned to Lelia and told her everything she’d learned: Ron’s business with the Calicos, the existence of a peregrine falcon breeding equation, minuscule details of the Taires, a prohibition on slaves to keep a low profile, and last but not least, the alias used by Caspian.

Rohka wasn’t trained to keep secrets.

…but, somehow, through an unknown means of transmission, the sybil kept quiet on the knowledge of Moyran and Taaldros.

Perhaps it was a tug on family strings. Or maybe it was just the way in which Caspian spoke of laws. It intrigued her, to no end.

Though she really did have her own problems to eliminate… and that knowledge alone let her sleep in peace.
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The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Caspian on August 9th, 2020, 5:49 pm

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Rohka’s sudden departure has him stunned – so far to the point that he doesn’t react when she accidentally lets slip his name. Though he supposes absence of admittance, in his case here, is for the best.

“What about me -?” Harietta begins, but Rohka’s already taken her leave.

The three remaining swivel their attentions back to him. Lucky for him, he tends to grin and prattle when he’s uncomfortable.

“I think it’s for the best, Hari, darling?” Caspian says, watching Rohka in her white dress slip through the crowds. “Honestly, is it really any good having one’s paths paved for them? Why not leave yourself to the realm of pure possibility?” Immediately he felt a sting of resentment towards them – towards the whole lot of this, for dictating his hours for him. The mission is a ball and chain rooting him here – it’s a manacle tethering him to Marcelyne, the only keeper of the keys.

“Easy for you to say,” Hariette sniffs. “You’ve had loads of good already happen to you today. And what was that about a paramour?”

“Oh, sure,” he replies. “But you won’t see me holding my breath for it. Certainly a way of driving one mad.”

“I doubt it works if you sat yourself in a corner, though, or locked yourself in a room with absolutely nothing and no one.” Hariette shoots him a sly look. “I daresay these things could need a little… push?”

“If you’re asking me to dance, I regret to inform you I’ve already been spoken for.” Rohka’s long since disappeared – already on that Lark’s arm again, maybe, or someone worse – but do the details matter if the sum total have nothing to do with his own involvement?

Rohka to her own mission, then; Caspian to his. Maybe if he’d worked up the courage to find her at Leila’s shop sooner, the night might have played out differently.

With his back against the proverbial wall, he holds out his arm to Marcelyne, who takes it without missing a beat – as if she alone had been his true accomplice all along.

With a cordial tip of his head to Hariette and Nialla – the two of whom immediately fell to whispering frantically the moment his back turns – he sweeps Marcelyne towards the dance floor.

Immediately eyes are upon them. Upon her, really – and it’s almost admirable how keenly she knows it. It isn’t often he meets someone to such a degree of self-possession; someone who has no need for mirrors, not with so many expressions of awe in such constancy and proximity, that from them alone she might rightly assume the way she must appear.

“What was that she called you?” Marcelyne asks, a swaying viper dressed in rose.

“Hmm?” Cas pretends to lose her in the music’s swell – but she’s relentless. Underneath the intensity of her gaze, even as it flickers in the torchlights, he finds himself locked until he can provide an answer. “Oh, that – it’s just a silly nickname. Cassimere. I was wearing a whole horrid suit of it the day we met – and she won’t let me live it down.”

Marcelyne’s smile widens. “You sound rather close. And you met her… where?”

Caspian leads her into a languid spin, catches her by the waist and pulls her close, the two of them now nose to nose. “Speaking of closeness.”

Not of mercy, she lets the question go. No – she hasn’t forgotten. But amusement is what she craves, and in the right machinations he can provide it for her, so long as he finds the beats.

All he can think, watching her preen and wink at the dancers who would surely try to take her arm if he left her unattended for even a moment, is that she isn't like Rohka at all.


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The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Caspian on August 19th, 2020, 11:22 pm

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“You’re not a very good dancer,” Marcelyne notes from the other end of the vice she calls a grip.

It’s true that he’s been making do with surreptitiously eyeing the couples next to them; riding, almost exclusively, on his hard-begotten ability to count to four and then repeat; and there’s something to be said for walking into a room upright and maintaining one’s spine in that configuration.

“Never pretended to be one, to my recollection,” he decides to glibly reply. Loses his footing with how tightly she whirls about him, snagging his other arm in a complicated twirl, punctuated with a toss of her hair.

“But you pretend much else.”

“If this is you accusing me of being a common scoundrel, this is the part where I emphatically assert that I’ve never met someone quite so stunning as you – that I swear upon Syna’s swift ascent, Leth’s nightly waxings and the stormy sunderings of Rhysol upon us all that you are the loveliest woman in the room. That were you to abandon me for the next fop for the sake of a tighter two-step, I’d hardly fault you. I can’t say it would be a blow to my pride – forever would I wonder what it is I had managed to do right to have earned a moment with you on my arm.”

The band swells; Caspian wonders if he perhaps hadn’t been a tough too liberal with his liquor from the flush that’s rising across the nape of his neck.

“You’d let me go, just like that?” It sounds like a test.

“Would I have a choice?” One that he’s failed?

Abruptly she stops dancing, tilts her chin up defiantly to look him directly in the eye. What she’s looking for – whatever it is she sees – it has her beaming, and not in a way that he finds comforting.

In inscrutable clarification of her intentions, she tosses her hair, braided down and wound with blushing blossoms sewn from silk and wire waxed green. Her bare limbs are long and lean, her countenance unflinching, her skin so smooth and unmarred it’s as if she’s a marble statue from a hidden garden brought to life.

The band holds their tremolo. He should say something, anything - if only so that she might respond, prove she isn’t stone after all, and break the spell she’s surely casting upon him.

Does she know he’s holding his breath? That even if he pushes and pulls it sticks shorter in his lungs, she an inferno and him reduced to sorry sparks.

“Haven’t you realized?” she says in slow, generous release. “I could do with a little chase.”

She puts a step between them; another, and another. The scavengers in synchronized simultaneity rare to take his place.

With one more toss of her hair, the flounces of her dress rising and falling in gauzy haze, she casts one last heated look at him over her shoulder before sliding away into the same fog into which Rohka had been swallowed.

Perfect, he thinks even as his gut fills with dread. It’s not so much a hunt as a pointed following; if she made the game too hard, after all, she’d never get what she’s really after.

And that’s him, alone, pushing after her into one of the darker recesses on the ship, the music faded and Leth’s light creeping pearly-blue over the window ledge.


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The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Caspian on August 22nd, 2020, 8:38 pm

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The room they find themselves in is little more than a broom cupboard. The matter of comfort and propriety isn’t what’s on his mind so much as this just might not be the best use of his time. Though the thought isn’t something he wants to dwell on, he’s quite sure that his choosing to follow her this far means that his point of exit is exponentially so much further away.

Investigate, Taalviel had hissed at him before he’d left that day, and properly.

Properly means thoroughly; thoroughly, in Taalviel’s terms, means going out of his way to shadowed corners, back offices, the palm of someone’s hand if that’s what it takes to get to the bottom of it.

Information is always useful, she’d said with a glower as he’d tugged on his shoes. Things come back around. You may think there’s only one question to be answered – and yes, by the stars above please, at the very least, answer it – but choosing limitations? That’s where the mistakes begin.

This just would have been so much easier if he’d had the accomplice he should have sought sooner.

And the fact remains that there isn’t much to be learned from a broom cupboard.

“Not here,” he says, wrapping his arms around her waist and drawing her in roughly, biting the ends of his words against her ears.

“What’s wrong with here?” she asks demurely.

There’s a clever response out there – several, if he’d more consistently put his mind to things after they begin.

The darkness is cover enough for him; his hands roaming fervently over the folds of her dress are more than words can say.

“Don’t start something you don’t intend to finish,” she murmurs, trailing a talon-like nail across his bottom lip.

Does she own this ship? She holds him so fast it seems she might. Out of the cupboard she whisks him, around a corner and through a galley, past gaps and portholes where the rest of the party glimmers through. They’re a faceless, raving mob, and with the lateness of the hour and the liquor flowing free they might only grow more fiendish, more restless, ever readier to swallow him whole. Maybe he’s safer in Marcelyne’s arms; through the walls the chatter seems churlish, the music more like screeching, and somewhere a glass is breaking, and another, and another. Someone cheers.

When Marcelyne closes the office door the din seals itself away. In its absence comes a chill – and he misses it, abstractly and wildly, for the noise had been a mantle that he could cast about his senses, and without it there is just the two of them.

If there can’t be noise, there can at least be action – and he takes her by the hands, twirls her on the distant memory of the music’s swell, settles back with the desk behind him and her hips before.

There are reams of notes on the desk, folders in the cupboards, a leather-bound logbook with quill and ink atop a half-scribbled note. A heavily tagged and bookmarked ledger, with deep cracks along the spine, promising, perhaps, pages frequently referenced.

But how to go through it all, with her yet in the room?

From the folds of her desk she draws out a silver flask. In the moonlight it glints cobalt blue, as if she’d somehow known he’d come decked in sapphire.

She grins at him slyly.

“Ladies first,” he says when she proffers it to him.

The last time she’d gotten him to imbibe something she’d conveniently refused to name, he didn’t feel right in his own head for a week.

She rolls her eyes.

Drinks anyway – and his gaze shifts suspiciously down to her throat. Makes sure that beneath the heavy ropes of lavender pearls, she swallows.

“What’s wrong?” she asks when he accepts the flask and regards it for a moment longer than he should. “Can’t keep up?”

If only it were as simple as a matter of pride.

Or maybe it is precisely that simple?

It wrings him with a surprising sourness, sticks him with a bitterness that lingers around the edges of his tongue and burns long after he swallows.

Though it wouldn’t save him, any degree of knowing – and though she’s liable to lie no matter how he interrogates – he starts to ask her what it is she’s added, exactly, that was worth ruining perfectly good rum – but she’s pressing her hand beneath his, the flask atop it all, and he follows her lead with his head tilted back and its contents searing down.
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The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Caspian on September 26th, 2020, 3:36 pm

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Whatever Marcelyne had mixed into the flask is the sort that grants him a modest amount of hyper focus. It isn’t magic, he reminds himself - just like most recreational things that instigate a mental and physiological imbalance, one of the side effects is a soft fixation. The gauze ruffles on her skirt are something he can appreciate under normal circumstances, but in this state he becomes fascinated with the stitching beneath them.

She mistakes the searching press of his fingers for the stitches as affection. Responding in kind, her hands snake beneath his jacket to encircle his waist, dipping beneath the waistband of his trousers.

At this moment he recalls the Obfuscate dagger tucked into the left fold of his jacket. But the timing is convenient, and when he shucks it off and tosses it onto the desk, it only seems like the next logical thing to do, rather than the furtive concealment of a weapon.

If only it hadn’t landed with a tell-tale clunk upon the table.

Perhaps she doesn’t notice, or she mistakes the sound for his knocking over something already on the table – or perhaps she doesn’t care and has her own knife concealed beneath the many complicated tiers of her dress.

The buttons lining the front of her bodice – in the face of his amplified focus they seem terribly daunting. With a huff, she begins hurriedly undoing them herself.

“Very little faith in me, I see,” he says, starting from the bottom and intending to meet her halfway.

“Something like that,” she replies slyly.

His attention drifts. The moonlight against the window ledge holds his attention for a long moment, icy and blue, like a wave threatening to tip in and flood the room.

Who gives a petch about the moon? is what Taalviel would say, though perhaps with the swear – and his eyes wander across shelves of brassy nautical instruments, a replica of a ship in a corked bottle, rolls of parchment. And on the table –

He blinks; Marcelyne’s moved on to the buttons on his own shirt and in his stalling he notes that on the chair meant for visitors to this office, there are quite a few stacks of leather-bound ledgers, a briefcase, and someone’s coat shucked over the back.

“Wait,” he says, words tumbling out just as her long, pointed nails rake over his ribs. “Those are someone’s things. Some other someone’s. They could be back for them any minute.”

She glances over at everything piled on the visitor’s chair and frowns at him. “Sure. I mean – I think they had a meeting in here before the party.”

“They did? Who?”

“My uncle and a couple of Larks? When you make as many mizas they do, I heard it helps to plan ahead,” The funny look she fixes him with is warranted.

He sucks on her collarbone in recompense.

“If you’re worried about being interrupted – “ She drops to her knees and tugs at his belt. “ – let’s stop wasting time –”

“ – could I see that flask?” he blurts out.

She huffs again, rolls her eyes, and passes it to him.

As he takes another swig, he wonders how far the drop would be if he threw himself out the window – and what his odds of survival might be if he torched the whole thing, grabbed Alann Taire’s ledgers from the chair, and made a run for it.
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The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Caspian on September 26th, 2020, 5:36 pm

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Never before had Caspian been so thankful for an overly fussy article of clothing.

Very fortunately for him, Marcelyne’s ensemble seems to be made up of several, and though they’ve unbuttoned the front of her bodice in tandem there’s something wildly laced and finnicky going on behind.

“Careful,” she chides him when he mistakenly believes he’s undone a leading set of knots, and instead tugs sharply at something still locked and looped.

Reaching back with her long, elegant limbs, she unties the laces herself with an alarming alacrity. As she shucks the dress off her shoulders, she notices Caspian hesitating again.

“Is this your first time?” she asks sarcastically.

“Let a man savor a miracle, will you?” he replies. She’s already wrung his shirt off, and though the concept of winter is a vague approximation in such a temperate city, he’s tensing against the relative chill seeping in through the window. No matter the season, though, he just feels palpably better with more clothes on, as many as he can manage – suppose being born in a blizzard and then raised in a slag heap gives one a sense for the necessity of armor.

“First you worried about someone walking in, now you want to take your time?” She’s sliding her skirt off her hips. “Pick a lane, Taalim.”

But when it comes to tangling with Marcelyne, he knows there’s only one.

It’s an amateur mistake to make but he’s still drinking from the flask; but he’s become dreadfully certain he can’t, at this point, veer his situation away from its current course. And how it hurtles. Displacing himself makes things palatable; it makes things easier, and though it’s the opposite of numbing, the alteration of his sensations are something to which he can anchor. What he had initially worried was that its contents would be soporific – and the idea of falling unconscious around her is not, he suspects, a series of circumstances that could possibly end well. The best case scenario is that she might immediately grow bored with an inert body, and roll him into the canal to drown. And the worst –

He swoons. The heat that had begun on his neck is rising higher; his fingertips seem imbued with a zip and a zap that makes running them across his own skin lulling and hypnotic. Sensing his development, she beams widely, leaning against him now in just a corset and gossamer-like slip skirt, her hands groping decidedly below his waistline.

The front of her corset is tied with black cord, into a great, looping bow that even if he were blind, he might undo in a second.

Sleeping with Marcelyne wouldn’t be the worst thing. Judging from her effect on nearly everyone in the vicinity at this party and the last, the number of her willing suitors could line up from the bow to the stern and back. It would be entirely inaccurate to say he doesn’t find her attractive – but it’s in the same way he might go gazing after the windings of an asp, frost against glass, or the tip of a knife – and neither are something he wants near him with so much of his skin bared.

It wouldn’t be the worst, he reminds himself as he watches her step out of her slip. It wouldn’t be the worst and it also certainly isn’t the worst he’s done for the sake of family.

Speaking of family –

Just as Caspian begins to tug on the fastenings of her corset, the door bursts open, revealing a dark wraith with one arm accusingly raised.

Marcelyne shrieks and yanks her slip back over her hips; Caspian drops the flask, which rolls away into a dark corner of the room.

Taalviel, in a slinky, shimmering onyx-and-steel gown storms into the room.

“Taalim!” Taalviel snarls. “I knew it. I knew you were skulking around. And with her?

Utterly incapable of processing the sudden turn of events at sufficient speed, Caspian claps one hand over his mouth in horrified bewilderment.
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The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Caspian on September 26th, 2020, 6:16 pm

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“I – uh – “

Caspian stumbles after his blazer, has one arm on when he realizes he’s still missing his shirt.

Where the petch had Marcelyne tossed the thing?

Reddening and frazzled, he turns uselessly to Marcelyne, as if she might be any real help. “Do you know where – uh – “

“Can’t you see this room is occupied?” Still in corset and slip, Marcelyne’s crossed her arms and is glaring back at Taalviel defiantly.

“Naturally – and by my husband and a tramp!” Taalviel spits back.

“Husband?” It’s Marcelyne’s turn to be stunned – but it passes into wry amusement. This certainly can’t have been the first time she’s dallied here. “Aren’t you full of surprises,” she says coolly to Caspian, who still hasn’t found his shirt.

“Taalim,” Taalviel continues, visibly growing crosser at Caspian’s floundering. “Find your petching shirt. We’re going home.”

“I’m trying,” Caspian exclaims, which isn’t a lie.

Here,” Marcelyne says exasperatedly, snatching it up by the cuff from where it had fallen behind a decorative globe, and flicking it towards him.

In great relief, Caspian shrugs off his blazer and tugs on his shirt. Something’s still very much in his sister and he barely feels the pressure on his fingertips as he buttons himself back up.

“I’m surprised you’d bother,” Marcelyne says, unwilling to back down even in the face of his supposed spouse. “Don’t you know who I am?”

“Oh, I know who you are,” Taalviel replies haughtily. “And frankly? I hoped my cheating husband would have better taste.”

“Hey, now – “ Caspian begins, though in defense of precisely whom and what, he hasn’t quite decided –

And that’s when another woman appears.

“Taalim – you absolute lying, cheating skunk – “ Wearing a categorically confusing dress made entirely of what appears to be ribbons and furs, Saticath shoves her way into the room.

Notices Taalviel’s already here, and falters like a rapidly deflating balloon.

“Who’s this, now?” Marcelyne snaps at her second challenger. “Darling, you really get around.”

Caspian flounders.

This, clearly, is their attempt at a rescue – and even more clear is that perhaps they had bungled the place and time and really should have chosen one candidate to play the role instead of leaving it up to chance.

“I’m here because I’m his wife,” Taalviel grinds out. “And you are…?”

Saticath withers beneath her glare. “I’m, uh – a very devoted… sister?” she squeaks.

Whose sister?” Marcelyne probes.

“Mine,” Taalviel and Caspian reply at the same time.

“Yours!” Saticath supplies hurriedly at Taalviel. “Yes, your sister! One who is very concerned, with, uh, his fidelity. On your behalf!”

“…is she really your wife?” Marcelyne asks, staring perplexedly between the three of them.

“A mistake I regret nightly,” Caspian can’t help but reply.

Leave,” Taalviel snarls.

Lingering for one last moment – and again, Caspian can’t really blame her, for he would also like a moment to itemize what the petch just happened – Marcelyne scoffs, tugs her dress back on with a fraction of the effort it had taken to get it off, and flounces from the room.

Saticath shuts and locks the door and slumps against it; Taalviel grimaces and rubs her temples.

Collapsing onto an armchair, Caspian buries his head in his hands.
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The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Caspian on September 26th, 2020, 6:48 pm

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“Did you have to be my wife –“ Caspian begins.

“Shut up,” Taalviel snaps. “Shut up. Did you find Moyran?”

“I – “

“Did you or didn’t you?”

“Kind of? Look – in there, okay? Those are Alann Taire’s.” Head still in his hands, senses still swimming, he jabs a finger in the direction of the chair with the briefcase and ledgers. “I was getting to it. You interrupted.”

“You’re right, he totally is irresponsible and ungrateful,” Saticath sniffs.

“You!” Caspian looks up. “What in the world was that? Did you two not, like, confer?”

Saticath groans. “Sorry! Playing wife was the whole plan all around, okay? We just split up to save time. Someone said they saw Marcelyne duck in here with a glittery fop and I knew it had to be you, and I ran in, and – would it kill you to say thank you?”

“Thank you,” Caspian says flatly, and joins his sister in peering through the ledgers.

The immediate challenge is that it’s dark; then, frankly, that so much of it is numbers, scrawled in a sloping italic hand. 0’s are easy, except when he realizes they sometimes might be 2’s. Then there are abbreviations and accentuations and a whole abundance of shorthand for things potentially no more compelling than tins and soap.

“We just need to find the most recent,” Taalviel says after they lapse into a silence punctuated only by the steady flicking of the pages.

“They’re all dated this year,” Caspian replies. The numbers are swimming before his eyes; he shouldn’t have powered through so much of the flask. But at the time he hadn’t counted on having an out. “Let’s look by cargo. Moyran will probably be attached to the shipment of whole people.”

Not all seafarers had the stomach for the slave trade, but Moyran had singled himself out as an employee possessing very little discernment.

“We have to hurry,” Taalviel says.

“I know,” Caspian replies – and it’s unpleasant having her constantly in his head these days, but so much worse in person.

There’s a banging on the door.

Saticath squeaks and checks the lock.

The banging persists.

“Petch petching petch,” Caspian growls, flicking through the pages faster. But it’s no good if he misses it – and in an anxious fit he doubles back on pages he’s already passed, goes through them again with gritted focus that becomes harder to maintain with the din at the door.

“I found a section on slaves but it’s all in two or three seasons,” Taalviel says. “That can’t be it – there has to be something sooner – “

“There has to be, or Dad just doesn’t want to wait that long?” Caspian says scathingly.

“Slaves are a year-round affair,” Taalviel snaps. “We’re not doing what’s easy; we’re doing what’s right.”

“If I had a miza for every time you justified murder – “ But he stops.

Double-checks what he’s just read, triple-checks.

Shows Taalviel beneath the moonlight.

“Two weeks,” Taalviel says. “He’ll be on a ship docking here, in two weeks.”

The noise at the door intensifies. There’s the shouting of several threats, lost to their benefit among the rest of the noise of the party.

The siblings shut the ledgers and prop them back on the chair where they’d found them. An incredibly nervous Saticath is pacing by the door.

“We could rush them,” Caspian suggests. “They won’t expect a total burst.”

“We don’t know how many there are – and I don’t know how far we’d get. I don’t like the idea of getting trapped by a crowd.”

“I could – “

“Do I have to explain why it would be a bad idea to stab someone at a party?”

All eyes turn to the window.

Saticath sighs, admiring the voluminously layered furs of her dress one more time before shimmying out of her skirt.
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The Bloodied Barcarolle Pt. II

Postby Caspian on September 26th, 2020, 8:58 pm

Image
Ladies first – and though Caspian hadn’t liked the idea of being left alone at the scene of a – well, is it a crime? They’d put everything back where they’d found it, and before all that, he and Marcelyne hadn’t even properly taken their clothes off – he also hadn’t wanted to go first.

Logistics have Saticath rather anxious; even without the many layers of mink and the wire hoop skirt, out of the three of them she has the least experience with leaping and dodging about. So it’s Taalviel slinking out the window, then Saticath uncomfortably clambering (“You know how I know she loves you?” she adds as Caspian gives her a leg up. “She didn’t just turn into a bird and fly out.”) – and by the time Caspian’s got a foot on the ledge there’s the sound of splintering wood.

Discord and shouting fill the room, but Caspian’s pitching himself up and over, and finds himself on an awning, which is much more preferable to a blind drop.

The awning is slick with evening mist as he edges and slides across. The actual drop now, to what he suspects is the second tier of the ship is something like ten feet, and when he eases himself off the side, dangles for a dizzying moment, and lets go, his height’s made up for most of it.

Landing nevertheless startles a passing waiter, who drops most of a silver platter of champagne flutes. Towards the bow of the ship – he thinks he spots Taalviel, or at least the graphite-glint of her evening gown. He means to dash her way – on second thought, doubles back to snag a glass of champagne, and scurries away before the waiter can protest.

He sees now what Taalviel had meant about being boxed in by the crowd. They form a wall – a pulsing yet still, at its densest points, effectively impenetrable barrier. Stuck in the shuffle, he takes a sip of his champagne – cranes his neck back and spots two cross-looking, nondescriptly suited men weaving in his direction. Though it’s very unlikely he’s the only person on this ship to have given anyone reason to chase, something tells him they’re very much on his trail. Pressing forward, he finds only resistance. For good measure, he slips his hand inside his jacket, grabbing the handle of the Obfuscate dagger; so long as he remains motionless, he remains unseen, and in stop-and-go traffic he hopes its abilities are reliably activated. It might be funny, he muses, if the goons caught up, apprehended him, and then had nowhere to go. Doubtful that Taalviel would see the humor, though, and he does worry about Saticath – so with a hemming and a humming he downs the rest of his champagne, waits for an opening, and ducks under a line of some half-dozen men in matching emerald vests, slides past a train of coquettes with fans madly fluttering, dips for a moment into a throng of waiters and emerges from the other side with a palm-sized tart garnished with sprigs of Lakeshore pine.

Someone grabs him by the elbow.

It’s the aforementioned apprehending kind of grab and not a promising hey stranger come hither, and as he wheels around he comes face to face with one of the goons. Though still possible that the man doesn’t work for Marcelyne, had not in fact been tailing him, and perhaps only wants to know where one can find the waiters with the good hors d’oueuvres – Caspian flings, or rather, shoves the tart into his face.

The man drops his arm and lets out a string of expletives that makes the coquettes shudder. Caspian dodges off into the crowd, putting what he hopes is at least half the ship’s length between them, but realistically, is probably only a few dozen yards. The person he suspected is Taalviel is nowhere to be found. Cursing, he takes the first opening he can find away from the center of the ship and towards the railing, and props himself on top.

He peers around wildly – sees nothing, except the goons gaining behind him. Wild cheers erupt as he runs down the length of the railing – for no reason, he supposes, except that perhaps Ravok’s religion at heart is having a good time – and as the bow of the ship materially enters his sights he begins to wonder what he ought to do if he reaches it.

“Cas!”

The sudden shouting of his name nearly has him stumbling off the railing.

“Cas, down here – “

Paddling along the side of the ship is a skiff – and in it, Thancerell, waving up at him.

Caspian takes one last look back at the goons – at the rollicking bandstand, the powder and rouge, the glass and the gleam, at the froth and fog and wherever his sybil might be.

For a moment –

He wants to believe all of it had been his. That no one had been able to tell where he’s from, or where he’d been, or that it had taken ages to straighten out his crooks and kinks, and maybe he isn’t the best dancer and his plying needs some work but petch his shoes do shine.

Thancerell shouts for him again.

There’s rigging coiled by his feet.

He grabs hold of a length of it, saws through with his dagger, and ties it to the railing. He doesn't know anything about knots, but - here's where being flimsy is in his favor, and really, it only needs to hold him for a moment.

Taking one last breath, he hurtles down.
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Caspian
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