Event Midnight Meetings

Clandestine affairs in the dead of night...

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

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Midnight Meetings

Postby Luminescence on September 21st, 2019, 10:26 pm

Midnight Meetings

The 28th of autumn, 519 AV, a few chimes before midnight

It was a hot and humid night; the air was thick and sticky, heat from the day still lingering, and the wet air refusing to let it leave. Walking more than a few steps was enough to generate a sheen of sweat on anyone, and the humidity kept it trapped there. The midnight rest had the whole city quiet, and the sky was dark and moonless; the only lights to see by were the occasional lantern, the soft glow of bioluminescent flora, and the glittering stars above; pinpoints of light that barely reflected off the skyglass buildings of the city.

Despite the hour, people within the city were stirring. A select few who had taken notice of a bulletin, a mysterious letter, posted earlier in the season, setting a meeting date for that very night. Those who had memorized the date and wished to see what exactly was going on would be leaving or already on their way to the designated meeting spot, as the ticks inched closer and closer to midnight on the dot.

Perhaps some of them would cross paths on their way through the darkened city, and fall into step with one another; or perhaps not. Regardless, they would all make their way there safely, with no incident. The streets were deserted, even more so than usual during a late night rest; the combination of heat and humidity and the lurking threat of a killer loose in the city streets seemed to be enough to have even the most carefree staying at home and locking their doors tight. Except for the handful making their way across the peaks, whose curiosity would not be deterred.

And so they ventured into the dark city on such a night, into the shielded and quiet and so very distant depths of Alheas Park, where an Ethaefal had been murdered in cold blood not too long ago. And on the whim of a strange note, no less, penned by a stranger person with no name, and all while a murderer stalked the streets. One had to wonder why anyone would do it. Stubbornness? Perhaps. Resolve and bravery? Not unlikely. Curiosity? Almost definitely. Stupidity? Without question. But the exact reasons each individual held would remain to be seen.

It was near midnight exactly when they all arrived at the Park, one after another, perhaps some together. It was darker here even than within the depths of the city itself. They would have to venture deeper and deeper into the Park to find the meeting spot; follow the path, the note had said, you will know it when you see it. And they would. The path meandered past the large pond deep within the Park, but they needed not go any further. It seemed that more benches than usual had been set up around the area, and lanterns dotted the vicinity in a circle, a warm and welcome glow in the darkness of the trees.

A note was stuck to one of the benches, scrawled in familiar handwriting. 'Please, take a seat and relax. Introduce yourselves. I will be there shortly. It is nearly time.'

Overhead came the haunting hoot of an owl as everyone finally arrived, strangers (and perhaps some not-strangers) brought together under such strange circumstances. They had a scarce few moments to speak with one another, introduce themselves per the note's request, discuss their purpose for being there; all in hushed tones, without even realizing it, for fear of breaking the thick and heavy silence.

It would not be long. They would be there shortly, for indeed, it was nearly time.
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Midnight Meetings

Postby Pluckett on September 21st, 2019, 10:57 pm

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Pluckett wasn't a woman who got cold feet often. She was almost stupidly brave, and so curious it is a wonder she hadn't met death yet.

Yet, on this night, as she slowly made her way into the park not far from her apartment, she felt fear.
Not the same fear that prevented her from getting a tattoo. That was a baby fear, something that could be sucked up and felt more like a personality quirk than something that would truly terrify a person. The weight of the evening didn't truly hit until the previous rests. Pluckett had not slept much during the day, and her exhaustion only added to the contradictory feelings of numbness and sensitivity. A prismfly lingered near the entrance to the trail, leaving behind a shooting star, a thin band of light. There was a glow hanging over the depths of the woods, but here by the entrance it was similar to any other set of woods.
A long path. Each step felt like she was about to fall through the very ground, bringing a foreboding sense. She wanted to turn back, to not get involved. Being a non-mage, she was likely safe, after all. Getting involved in an investigation would make her a target. Wouldn't it be smart to turn back now?

She remembered the woman at the bar. Her husband was in danger. Madeira, who she had seen only the night before, was in danger. Any of the djed-using citizens were in danger, and who knows when the murderer would target others? Pluckett felt a stir in her that combated the fear, a stir that gave her renewed energy. She wore her scarf today, from the Moon Festival. It wasn't a holy item on its own, but Leth's presence in the sky comforted her and she hoped he saw her small act of growing devotion.
She sped her pace, soon breaking into a run down the trail, as the woods began to glow with energy and wild djed. Prismflies created a lightshow of their own, and the colorful fadeong were soon surrounding her. Her fear was still there, but it made her feel alive. Endorphins and adrenaline from the run gave her a feeling of heroic power. Her shoes, worn from not being replaced in seasons, hurt her feet, but she didn't care. Sweat ran down her back. The humid air didn't help.
Before she knew it, she was panting, but near the pond. She continued down the trail, lungs and legs stinging. She was going to be sore in the morning.

Not far past the pond were the benches. She was the first there.
The note on the bench told her what she was already prepared to do. The red-faced, sweat-covered woman fell into a bench, too worn to even feel the dreadful nerves at the moment. The world felt different here. Etheral. She waited for others to show up.

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Midnight Meetings

Postby Madeira Craven on September 22nd, 2019, 12:07 am

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Madeira held tight to Lani's arm as they traversed the quiet park. In her head she assured herself that it was only because the path was dark and the way was long, but her heart knew differently. They had left Infinity together, but without Jomi to protect her Madeira felt naked, even with her magic bracer crossbow sparking nervously under the sleeve of her cotton dress. But the ghost was still much too fragile to risk in such a unpredictable situation. But that was okay. She still had her knight. Lani would protect her.

The trek felt longer than it really way, and by the time the circle of lanterns were visible on the other side of the pond the Spiritist couldn't help but sigh in relief. Moonlight reflected silver off the pond, splashing the meeting spot with an eerie glow. And in the middle of it, crashed onto a bench and breathing heavily, was a familiar figure.

"Pluckett?"

In her nerves Madeira forgot to put the hypnotic conditioning into the word, and it tripped off her tongue as more of a question than an exclamation as she squinted into the light. Not wanting to seem cowardly, she let go of the grip she had on the woman's arm and took a more casual hold of her hand as she stepped into the ring of benches, set up as if for the audience of a play. There was a note inside, and she read it aloud. "Please, take a seat and relax. Introduce yourselves. I will be there shortly. It is nearly time", she looked to the tall half blood and shrugged. "Looks like this is the place. Who do you think this mysterious author is?" The fact that the author was not there themselves to greet them gave the Avalad a dark little thrill. She did appreciate the theatrics of this macabre business.

"No matter, I guess we'll know soon enough. Come, let me introduce you like they seem to want us too." She stepped up to the small busker, towing Lani along beside her. Pluckett had expressed interest in this meeting the night before, but it still brought a sense of relief to know for a fact that there were to be at least two friendly faces at this meeting. She wondered if Zach would show up too. He seemed like the kind who's curiosity and the sheer force of their good nature couldn't keep them away from an opportunity to help. Thinking about it, she would put Dev'ania in the same category. And after the mystery they investigated together in the spring, and the murder of her mentor in this very forest, she fully expected the Konti fortune teller to show up.

Madeira's own motivations were more self serving, and she expected Lani's to be too. They were both involved with the Towers and the magic community- both of whom seemed to be prime targets these last few seasons. But even without the ambiguous threat that dangled over her head there was something so attractive about this mystery that would have made her come regardless. Perhaps it was the spiritist in her, or the Eiyon, or a mixture of the two that burned for answers to these murders.

"Hey there, sweetheart", she smiled for the girl who looked about as nervous as she felt. "Pluckett, I'd like you to meet Lani, my best friend and housemate. Don't worry, her eyes are supposed to look like that. She's Chaktawe. Mostly. Lani, this is Pluckett, the busker from Syliras I told you about."

What she had told her about Pluckett was the kind of light gossip women usually share with each other over breakfast. Just that there was this cute girl playing a gamba at the bar, and she'd been trying to pick her up ever since. She had alluded to her hypnotism experiment on her as well, secretly but with zero shame. Lani was no stranger to her friend's manipulative patterns after all.

Introductions done, Madeira took a seat beside Pluckett, hands folded primly in her lap, and resigned herself to wait. More would be showing up soon, she was sure.
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Midnight Meetings

Postby Zach Grasswind on September 22nd, 2019, 11:30 am

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"Speech"


The bulletin had played on Zach’s mind ever since he had read it earlier in the season. He had never been able to hear just part of a story, or see a flash of something interesting without following it up and finding the end. It was exactly that part of his personality that had gotten him into trouble out in the mountains. It was that part of his personality that meant he absolutely had to find out what was waiting in the Alheas Park. Was it a reckless thing to do? Of course, but that had never stopped the Drykas before.

And so the hunter was quietly making his way through the city on this particular night. His bow was slung across his back as he knew as well as any citizen that there was something or someone dangerous lurking in the streets these days. The humidity was heavy and a light sheen of sweat coated his brow, and he had rolled the sleeves of his shirt as high as he could. It was not a particularly long journey from his lodgings to the Park, and Zach was quickly through the entrance and winding his way through its pathways.

The bulletin had given no specific direction, only that they would know the place. And so he ventured on through the darkness, footsteps quiet against the stone. Zach wondered who else might show up. He was absolutely certain that Madeira would be there, but outside of her, he had no idea. The Drykas still knew so few people in Lhavit. He wondered too just how much danger he was in now, in the dark, following a mysterious note. Bad things had been happening to mages, the magic users. Was he one of them now? The Dryaks didn’t feel like one for it was all such a strange concept to him.

His thoughts cut short as before him spots of light appeared - lanterns. That must be the place. It looked warm and inviting in the bleak darkness of the rest of the Park. Zach could see a few figures silhouetted ahead and sure enough, as he drew closer, he could see that Madeira was one of them. She was with Lani, speaking to someone else he didn’t recognise.

The Drykas stepped into the circle of benches as Madeira sat next to the stranger. “Madeira, Lani.” He offered the pair of women a smile. “I had a feeling you’d be here.” He turned to the third person and offered her a polite nod, the smile still on his face. “Hello, I’m Zach.” He glanced between the woman and Madeira. “You know each other already?”

He moved to an empty seat, collecting the note before sitting down. It was both welcoming, and a little ominous. The hunter’s thoughts slipped from his mouth as words, though he was not expecting an answer from any of the three he found himself among.
“Time for what?”
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Midnight Meetings

Postby Lani Stranger on September 22nd, 2019, 5:03 pm

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Due to Lhavit’s dual nature, where the city was just alive at night as it was during the day, there were rarely times when once would feel unsettled walking through the streets. Still, as rare as these times were, they happened. The fact that there was a killer on the loose and that the two women were strolling through the famous Alheas Park that was all but empty now, added to that effect. Lani had never met the Crone, but as a child she had heard of the notorious shack, and knew it to live in these woods. But where would the shack go now that its master had passed? Was the shack alive like the Infinity and mourning the Crone? Or was it simply enchanted like Alvadas, and would continue it’s movements with or without her?

These thoughts would not have previously bothered the half-Chaktawe, until she had met a sentient house. She could not speak with the Infinity, but she knew it was alive and felt things like any person. Great, now I worry about how houses feel. Lani chastised herself, trying to push the random thoughts away. Madeira’s hand in the crook of her left elbow felt a little heavier, and the half-blood found her head spinning to view the world around her slightly more than was necessary. With her left arm occupied with Madeira, her right arm rested lightly on the hilt of her sword. The warm colors of the jeweled hilt stood out against the simple leather pants and white shirt she wore. It was simple clothing, but breathable, especially since autumn had no brought any relief from the summer. Even after Syna had gone to rest, the air hung heavy around them, pushing into their lungs and painting the bridge of their brow with dainty kisses of dew, enough to be noticed.

Still, Lani squared her shoulders when walking into the park. They were here for a reason. Lani herself was not a known mage in the city. She hadn’t needed to register, as her mother had once done so many years ago. Still, who knew how this person was targeting their kills? They seemed to start with some of the more well-known mages, but was anyone actually safe? Regardless, Madeira was a known entity, at least to the prestigious Towers and those associated or pining after them. This meant the Infinity was marked as a mage’s house, and her best friend’s life was in danger, if not her own. And once she got to thinking about it, Allister poked his way into her brain as well. He dabbled in magic, like herself. She was still very enchanted and confused by the Kelvic, but a small part of her did not want him to die at the hands of a serial murderer. The idea of what it would take to find this person spiked Lani’s heartbeat as the small audience of benches became clearer through the trees, one lone figure standing there.

At first Lani thought this would be the stranger who called this meeting, but then Madeira named the person with some familiarity, dropping her grip from Lani’s arm to her hand. The half-Chaktawe hooked her pinky finger into Madeira’s, as they would hold it while running as children. Since Lani had always been larger, the difference in their stride was too great for proper hand holding. Still, a small part of her did not want to let the mage go at the moment. Perhaps it was her time with the Inarta that had bristled the half-Eypharian too much, or perhaps they were paranoid, but the set up screamed ‘trap’ to her, and she couldn’t seem to ignore it.

”Ah, so this is Pluckett?” Lani tried to blink away the discomfort of the meeting and her suspicion with the location to great the object of Madeira’s interest. She had heard enough about the girl to be able to match a description to a name, but now she was meeting the face. ”Excellent to finally meet you.” She grinned, perfectly polite before leaning towards Madeira, and not-so-silently commenting. ”You do have an eye for the pretty ones, don’t you?”

When the girl’s sat down, Lani did as well, perching on the edge of the bench beside them, one leg resting on the ground, and the other bent at the knee to press firmly into the bench. Trying to be casual, but ready.

”Excellent, we have the wild man on our side.” She grinned at Zach’s polite entrance. ”Of course, Madeira knows everyone.” She answered, winking at her friend. Lani was not in the habit of being nervous, but then again she was not in the habit of sitting and waiting for things to come to her. Had it not been for Madeira’s interest, the girl probably would have ignored the whole incident. False confidence told her they could defend themselves if the Infinity truly was on the hitlist, and the rest of the city could figure it out on their own. Of course, Madeira had significantly more self-preservation than herself, and quite a bit more common sense, and so now they were here. They were going to help find this person. Unless it was a trap.

”Has anyone thought about how well thought out this trap is? Murder a bunch of mages so that people are scared to come out of their homes at night. Lure a bunch of well-meaning mages into the closest thing to ‘the wild’ as Lhavit has, guaranteed to be empty with the scare of a killer on the loose. Then, you offer them a chance to mingle, keeping their attention away from their surroundings. All you have to do is knock out the ones that show up without having to do the dirty work of tracking them down." Was Zach a mage? Was Pluckett? "And, bonus, you get to off the well-meaning regular citizens that might have a chance of identifying you? Genius.” Lani asked, her nerves were spiking and manifesting into a moderately sharp tone. Anxiety never helped anyone, and making the whole group anxious with her wasn’t going to do it either, but she couldn't help it. Finally able to push herself to fix her body language, Lani rolled her shoulders back and then layed down on the single bench she occupied, still ready, but trying to portray a false sense of relaxation to give contrast to her words. Still, her right hand never left her hilt. She yawned, not entirely an act, and then nodded as if to herself. ”And we all just walked right in and sat down. Brilliant.”
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Midnight Meetings

Postby Dev'Ania on September 24th, 2019, 2:55 am

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Dev’Ania peeked through the window of her solar winds apartment, watching as the moon rose into the sky. Meet at exactly midnight on the 28th day, in the Alheas Park by the pond. Just like everyone else, Dev had read the letter posted. This mystery in Lhavit just seemed to go on and on, like a never-ending trail that leads to nowhere. After doing investigating with Madeira in the Spring, Dev just had to continue and find out more. The thirst of curiosity grew within the Konti. Hopefully, one day, it would not get her hurt.

The Konti grabbed her bag and wrapped her black cloak around her. She gave a quick pet to Ember before beginning to head out the door. For a tick, she paused questioning whether she had everything. Surely she would need to protect herself in case anything was to go wrong, so she grabbed her Suvai and placed it carefully in her boot. In any case of emergency, it would be quick and easy to grab and fight. She slipped outside into the night. The city was unusually quiet, but not to any surprise. Everyone was terrified of the killer who was on the loose. Maybe DEv’Ania was foolish or plain psycho for going to the midnight meeting, but she needed to know more information. If not for her own curiosity, then because if she was going to be part of the Constellations, it would be smart to know what is going on in the city.

The air was thick and heavy, but Dev refused to remove her cloak. She didn't want anyone to see who she was, so she pulled the hood over her head. Not far in front of her, a figure walked. Up until this point, Dev had felt calm and relaxed, but now a nervous feeling set in her gut.

“Who is that?” She thought to herself. The figure was to far sor her to make out who it might have been. She didn't want to alert them, so she kept her distance, with her head low and her body covered in her cloak.

The Alheas Park was not too far of a walk from the apartments. It was a familiar walk she would constantly make with Ember. Approaching the entrance of the park, a soft glow of light was seen a short distance away. This most likely was the meeting place. Dev’Ania watched as the figure still walked ahead of her until it stopped. It seemed to be going to the same place because as Dev got closer, the glow of light turned to be a circle of lanterns. In the circle were benches and other people. She tried to stay out of sight to hear their voices to see if any were familiar before joining them. “Time for what?”

At the sound of the voice, Dev let out a sigh of relief and lifted her hood. “Zach! Thank goodness you are here!” The Konti ran up to the Drykas. She could distinguish his voice in a crowd of a million people. Entering the circle, she saw the other members - the only familiar one being Madeira. “Oh, hey Madeira. It is good to see you. Again, we meet under the circumstances of this mystery. To everyone else, my name is Dev’Ania.” She introduced herself to the two people she had not met, with a warm smile. “So, have I missed anything?” She took a seat next to Zach on the bench and looked on to the note in his hand.
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Midnight Meetings

Postby Fabell on October 24th, 2019, 7:18 am

Ever since the incident on the 17th of Fall at the club, Fabell came to this quiet grove during the Midnight Rest period, between his two performances. The club felt more dangerous than it did when the young man first arrived in Lhavit. While he felt a stirring nearly every night within the customers who came there, over the past week more concern, quieter voices, an a choir of whispers attended every evening when he performed, even to the point of distraction.

Even though his rib still hurt a little, the mending of his body continued. Fabell did not look his age, he knew that. Although only a spry 16 year old boy, not only did several women proposition him since arriving in Lhavit, Fabell admitted he did not try hard to show his youth (and the beard that grew around his face since arriving in the city did not help). In his family, young men stayed cleanly shaven, dressed in bright fabrics, and many of the young men even pranced around on their oryx with beads, jewelry, and the haberdashery of princes, irregardless of their state in life. Fabell still kept his fashion to a bare minimum, often lost to the fashions of others and overwhelmed by the choices and selections. Since arriving at the city, his choice of dress stayed consistent with his station: his position as a performer was to perform, but his position as a Lhavitian was undecided and honestly, overwhelming.

He had been coming to this grove in Alheas Park for almost a week now, amid the wild djed and the prismflies and the quiet of the stars, away from the rancor and eyes of a city that refused to sleep at night. He came here because he finally felt free of the skyglass, the rainbow flow of fabric and vice, and of the eyes of those who disregarded or discounted his bright golden eyes. He took out his flute and played to the prismflies, curious how they seemed to ignite his silver flute with the wild light of a djed that seemed both contained and totally out of control. He imagined his audience moving with the music, although he knew truly the unlikely outcome of that. But more than anything else, he came here to see the stars, free of the reflective surfaces of the tunnels winding across the peaks, with just the shifting branches of the trees and the slight wind - and imagining the wind carrying his songs home to his mother, asleep on the dunes, singing her songs without him.

Tonight though, was different. Fabell put his flute in his silk pouch when he heard distant voices in the park - voices that were new. Not the voices of travelers or people seeking their homes in the stars, nor voices he saw each night in sad silent wanderings. No, these voices had a kind of urgency to them, and in his gut the young man felt concerned, even a tinge of fear.

He followed the sounds through the trees, to a lighted grove near the pond and a series of chairs set in a circle. He knew this was - suddenly with the sick realization of where he was. He felt a chill move up his spine, and instinctively he pulled his cloak closer over his body. There were at least five figures within the circle of lanterns, all wearing hooded cloaks. Before he realized what was happening, however, his gut reaction came back, the same he often felt when wandering the dunes by himself and a shadowy figure appeared on the horizon, or even the feeling when he first stepped off the boat onto Lhavit, faced with the fear of an entire city built on top of a mountain (when the highest he had ever been was a tower in Ahnhotep).

He wanted to turn and head back the way he came, but he knew then that if these mysterious people did not realize he was there among the trees watching them, they would surely know if he tried to sneak away, and so he remained still as a rock, his heart beating loudly in his chest.
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Midnight Meetings

Postby Luminescence on October 26th, 2019, 2:51 am

Aside from the quiet rustling of the trees and the grass, and the occasional chirp of a cricket, the night was silent, broken only by the hushed tones of those who had gathered introducing or greeting one another. Many were already familiar with one another, perhaps a small comfort in the darkness with the unknown looming over their heads, and a stranger supposedly lurking in the darkness.

Madeira and Lani stood with linked fingers, the spiritist soothing a nervous Pluckett and the mixed blood talking with Zach. Despite the tension in the air, the conversation could be called casual, until Lani spoke aloud, voicing the fears that were almost certainly plaguing the minds of everyone within the small circle of lamplight.

As Lani finished speaking, her sharp tone slicing through the air, her last word seemed to hang above them all. Brilliant. Her small speech, at least, proved to anyone who was not aware just what sort of people had largely been attracted to this strange meeting; mages themselves, the targets of the mysterious killer.

Perhaps Lani was right to be so anxious, so paranoid; indeed, it was smart of her to be on guard, for who knew who or what was coming to greet them? The conversation ebbed after Lani finished speaking, until Dev'Ania arrived, slightly later than the rest, introducing herself to the unfamiliar faces around her.

As the conversation picked up again slightly with the Konti's arrival, a figure slunk through the darkened trees towards the group; but not the one that they were expecting. Fabell lurked among the brush, his spine stiff with apprehension, perhaps even fear, as he watched the group; outside of the circle of lamplight, among the shadows, it would be difficult for anyone to see him, but should one look up from their conversation, they might just barely make out a silhouette.

Not that it mattered, for Fabell's lurking did not last long, and he was not offered a choice to try and make his getaway, for quite suddenly a hand closed on his shoulder. A tall woman stood behind him, her piercing blue eyes glowing brightly even in the darkness of the trees.

"It's rude to eavesdrop, you know," she said, her voice cutting loud and clear through the air and stopping any conversation, drawing attention to her and Fabell's position among the trees. "All are welcome here. Do come and have a seat with the other brave souls who joined us tonight."

Without waiting for a reply, the woman gave Fabell's shoulder a push, sending him stumbling forward towards the circle of light, and strode past him to stand in the center herself. Closer up, and with the light cast on her face, it was impossible to tell her age; her hair was smooth and straight and shone silver like starlight, but her face was remarkably smooth, mature yet young all at once.

"How kind of you all to join me on such a fine evening," the woman spoke; her voice was hard and soft all at once, steel wrapped in silk as she spread her hands. As she did so, something on the back of her right hand gleamed, catching the light; a symbol of an elaborately twisted and inverted blue triangle seemed to be embossed in the skin there, shining faintly, made of something not flesh but reflective, though it didn't seem to quite be metal either.

The flash of light was brief, catching the attention of only those who were not focused on the woman's face or their surroundings, and then her hands were clasped at her waist again, long sleeves covering the back of them and hiding the symbol from sight. Only Madeira and Lani would recognize it should they have seen it, having largely been raised within Alvadas and being familiar with the deity of illusions; it was the symbol of Ionu.

"Murder," the woman said, with a long, drawn out sigh. "Such a grisly topic for such a lovely evening. And yet, it must be dealt with." The woman was silent for a long moment, her sharp, vivid blue eyes sizing everyone present up; she took the time to examine them all, one by one, gaze painfully slowly moving from the tops of their heads to their very toes until the urge to squirm was almost impossible to resist, before moving on to the next person.

It was silent as she did so, until she had examined every last person within the circle, and seemed satisfied. "There are mages among you, here. It was very brave of you to show up considering how badly someone seems to want your blood spilled. Or perhaps very stupid."

The woman's gaze swung back around to Madeira, and she smiled, but it did not reach her eyes. "Madeira Craven. Let's start with you, shall we? Quite the impressive list. A master spiritist, so talented even among your family line. And so very far from home. But that's common knowledge. It's not just that though, is it?" A pause as the woman tapped her lips. "Hypnotism and malediction, such very dangerous magics. Not ones many people are fond of, hmm? And a few others up your sleeve, to be sure."

"And Lani..." the woman turned her eyes on the half-Chaktawe near the Craven. "Nothing so impressive, but you dabble, don't you? Alchemy, was it? Certainly you know a little bit about a lot, holding such close court with Miss Craven, but it can be difficult to pinpoint." She smiled at Lani, again with no depth or warmth.

The woman moved suddenly, walking to the nearest bench and dropping down onto it, leaning back and folding her arms over her chest. "I've made it my business in the past few seasons to know who the mages of this city are. I'm sure you all know that is no easy feat, given this lovely city's views on magic."

She let the words sink in for a moment, let her audience mull over the implications. "No," she finally said after a long moment, directing her words largely to Lani and Madeira, but still addressing the group as a whole, "I did not lure you here to kill you. I haven't killed anyone, and that is why you are here."

She drummed her fingers on her thigh, a frown tugging at her lips, creasing her brows. "The politics in this city disgust me. The Towers think themselves so high and mighty, above all the rest; only if you have proven yourself do you get to learn from them, and how do you prove yourself?" She sneered. "By being wealthy, by doing things for them, by getting to know the rest of the people above the common folk. And the civilians who know magic? They aren't good enough for the Towers, but they must be better than everyone else." Sarcasm dripped heavily from her words.

"Back and forth and back and forth," the woman growled, standing again and beginning to pace. "And when things go wrong, nobody wants to take responsibility, nobody wants to help, nobody admits to anything. It turns into a blame game to prove that one is still better than the other."

She stopped her pacing, turning sharply on her heel to face her audience again. "I had enough of it. I have still had enough of it. I'm sure some of you have put the pieces together, but for those of you who haven't caught up yet, I am the one who began to mark the doors of mages." The admission hung in the air, and suddenly the woman's voice turned pleading.

"But I have never harmed anyone, let alone killed them, you must believe me. My intention was to stop this ridiculous back and forth, never for people to get hurt. I don't know who has decided to start the killings and use my mark, and it is not I that have been using it on official buildings either; that is why I need your help. This has to stop."

The woman looked pleadingly among those gathered there, her hands clasped in front of her chest. "My information is unfortunately limited when it comes to this. The murderer is targeting mages indiscriminately; they do not care if their victims are from the Towers, or a civilian, and they have been marking official buildings which leads me to believe that they will not hesitate to target those among the government as well."

The woman rubbed a hand over her face, letting out a sigh. "Right now it is only whispers, quiet rumours, but some are blaming Ponrose for the murders. It won't be long before that takes hold as a popular theory. I don't believe her to be fit enough physically or mentally to do such things, but it's difficult to say right now. She's been secluded since leaving the Catholicon, but if any of you wish to try and speak with her, she's living on one of the farthest cottages in the Estates with her caretaker, I believe it was her sister?"

"The garden is full of snowdrops and the chimney is painted blue, you shouldn't be able to miss it. Regardless, don't expect much from her. She's not in a good way," the woman gave a shake of her head.

"Now, I believe that is the most important information I can give you. I'm sure some of you have questions, and by all means, do ask me. But in return, I ask that you please, please, do consider helping me in this matter. If not for me, or for the safety of your city, then for your own safety," she said, giving Madeira and Lani a pointed look. "Before any of you ask, I have no true name, and have not had one for a long time, but you may call me Sapphire. Now, questions?"

The woman, Sapphire as she called herself, looked around, waiting for what she expected to be a torrent of questions coming from those gathered around her.
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Midnight Meetings

Postby Madeira Craven on October 28th, 2019, 8:44 pm

Image



As the trio waited two more familiar faces trickled in, in the form of a well meaning hunter and a nervous Konti. Madeira greeted her friends kindly, not at all surprised to see them in this mysterious meeting. But the atmosphere was rather anxious, with Lani's pronouncement still hanging in the air long after the sound had faded. Madeira wasn't the only one who found herself watching the shadows between the trees.

Then a voice, as clear and sharp as glass, cut through the distracted chatter. A figure stumbled into the circle of firelight and Madeira was on her feet at once, her weapon held tense at her side. In a moment the crossbow sparked excitedly and went up in sickly green flames, scorching her arm and throwing her and Lani's profiles into sharp relief. But it was just a boy, no older than sixteen and looking just as surprised to be there as Madeira was to see him. She was only able to get an impression of golden eyes and desert skin when the woman who spoke strode past him from behind. Tall and dignified she took her place in centre stage, ignoring the alarmed and armed people around her.

That woman was in charge here, the unquestionable ringleader of this mystery. Madeira heard it in the way she spoke with clear dramatic inflection, saw it in the way she regarded the audience arranged around her. "Murder", she sighed, catching her spectator's attention with that one loaded word before moving forward. This was her show.

And as her arms spread wide, gesturing to the assembled masses, something painfully familiar flashed on the back of her exposed hand.

Air sucked in through Madeira's teeth and her mind stuttered on the image of that blue triangle. The bracer on her wrist suddenly extinguished with a whoosh of disturbed air, leaving her arm whole and undamaged, and she fell back into her seat. Pale and visibly shaken, the fight left her all at once.

That was Ionu's symbol. That was her god. Her investigation with Dev'ania came back into sharp focus; their uncertain visit with the crone, her wild theory of the Inverted, and the blue pigeon that went nowhere. She was right all along. Ionu was at work in her new home.

The woman was taking her time regarding each of them in turn, but eventually her gaze swung back to Madeira and the spiritist met her cold blue eyes. Then woman smiled without warmth, and with brutal efficiency picked her apart to prove how much she knew. She dug deep, dragging out her secret crafts of hypnotism and malediction for all to see. Then her gaze moved to Lani, and she dredged up the half-blood's own magic use. With her display done the woman found her own bench and sat, and revealing why she brought them there.

She was behind the marks, and almost certainly behind the posts in the Gazette. But she insisted she hadn't killed anyone. She needed their help in stopping the mage murderer before someone else was killed. Her only clue for them at the moment was where to find Penrose. The rest was up to them.

When she was done Madeira sat in stunned silence, processing this new development. There was no question that she would help. She had to. Not only was this Sapphire making it very clear that her and Lani's heads were on the chopping block, it was equally clear that this murderer was going to build on the damage she already started by pitting civilian and tower mages against each other until the city erupted into civil war. Yet deeper down, a dark satisfaction was purring. How could she ignore such a mystery? How could she ignore Ionu?

Madeira was the first to speak. She stood to address the woman on the bench, a light burning in her eyes that had nothing to do with the firelight around them.

"We'll help you, Sapphire", she spoke for the assembled group as if she had any right to. "Not for your sake, because gods know you've caused enough problems, with the killer even slaughtering people under your banner, but because this place is worth protecting." Her mind was turning as she spoke, thinking critically of what they had on their side. They had Lani, the devious and charismatic jack of all trades, the straight forward and capable hunter Zach, the empathetic and insightful Dev'ania, and this new boy who was cautious and watchful if nothing else. They were all so different, with such a wide dispersal of capabilities. It was a good base to start from. She had no doubt they could solve this mystery.

"If that's all the information you have, then that will have to do. We'll do everything we can to put a stop to this. Mage or not this is our home. But I need to know one more thing; are there other Inverted in the city, or are you working alone? And how do we contact you?" Anticipating the answer, she held up a finger in addendum. "If you show up at my house uninvited again the ground will split beneath your feet and swallow you whole." Could Infinity even do that? She had no idea. But after the scare of having her door marked last season while her and her children slept she wasn't about to let it slide.
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Midnight Meetings

Postby Luminescence on December 3rd, 2019, 11:40 pm

Madeira was the only one brave enough to answer her, it seemed; Sapphire was not surprised. She knew more about the Craven woman than just what magics she could manipulate, and she had been expecting her to take unofficial charge of the little ragtag group. It was pleasing to see that she had been right.

Because the city was worth protecting? Sapphire did not flinch when Madeira said they would not help for her sake; she had expected as much. But something like amusement gleamed in her eyes at Madeira's noble declaration, and if the Craven bothered to examine the Illusionist's face, she would know that Sapphire did not believe her grandiose statement for a moment. No, she was certain there was something more selfish behind the decision. Could she be wrong? Perhaps. Only Madeira herself could say for certain.

Sapphire chuckled at Madeira's question. "I am currently the only one within Lhavit. I admit, Madeira, you and your little...pigeon there nearly found me out some time ago. On their own, though, an Inverted is not easy to find unless they want to be found." She winked at Madeira, leaving her to ponder what had been said and to try and recall the moment she had released Bird from its cage seasons ago.

Madeira's threat did not seem to phase Sapphire. She merely tilted her head and smiled at the spiritist. "Indeed. I will be sure to keep that in mind." Her voice was mild, but there was something sardonic behind it. "If you have need to contact me further, let your Bird go again. I doubt other Inverted are planning to make a visit anytime soon, and this time I will not make an effort to conceal myself from you and your little homing pigeon."

"Now, does anyone else have any questions?" She swept her gaze over the group again, giving ample pause for anyone to interject. "If not," she continued when the silence stretched out, "I will be taking my leave. If any of you wish to contact me yourselves, speak to Miss Craven here about it. She has the most efficient means to do so."

When she saw that there was nothing left to be said, she bowed deeply from the waist; as Sapphire straightened up, her appearance rippled, shifting to that of a rugged young man with dark hair and stubble covering his jaw. The only similarity that remained were the eyes, still that intense, cold blue.

Sapphire gave a flourish of his hands in farewell, and turned on his heel, swiftly vanishing into the night. One moment he was there, the next, shadows had enveloped him and he seemingly vanished from sight, leaving the group to discuss anything they wished to or to disperse into the darkness themselves.

OOC :
You've all had plenty of time to respond to my last post if you wanted to, so I will be putting this on my grading list so that I can say it's wrapped up instead of leaving it hanging. That said, getting this graded will not be my top priority as I have other threads that are taking priority, so if any of you want to sneak in one more round of posts before I grade this, feel free to do so. :) However, I will not be posting to this anymore, so interactions will only be between yourselves.
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