Completed Tar and Tackle

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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]

Tar and Tackle

Postby Caspian on September 19th, 2020, 6:17 pm

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    Caspian balks at the threshold of Mumsy’s room. Inadvertently, his eyes betray him for a moment, straying to the standing mirror, the contents of which he had only moments before rifled through. Against his ankle, trapped beneath his sock, the earrings and bracelets seem to pulse with incriminating resonance.

    He tries to look in the corner opposite the mirror; wonders, with guilty flush, if that isn’t exactly what a petty thief would do, and settles instead with appearing entirely disinterested. Leaning against the doorframe, hands in his pockets, he wishes suddenly that he had divided the jewelry he’d just stolen across different parts of his person. As it stands, if someone found one they’d find all and if he had thought to at the very least stick one earring down one sock and its counterpoint down the other – or, more creatively, the turned-back cuff of a sleeve – he could say he at least exerted the barest minimum of precautionary measures.

    At her bedside cabinet, she seems to pause several ticks too long in consideration of the contents of the drawer. Had he too obviously misplaced anything in it? Even the overzealous opening and shutting of the drawer would have knocked things around. Worse still would be if he had left anything lying about that previously hadn’t been; but even worse, perhaps, if he misplaced things where they ought not to be in his harried attempts to clear out the scene.

    The key ends up being in the left cabinet instead of the right.

    “See?” he tries to say spritely as she bustles back to him, key in hand. “Would have made a right mess of your things trying to track it down myself!”

    She doesn’t bother with a response, and he hastily presses himself against the opposite wall to give her as wide a berth as possible. The zephyr-like swishing of her damask skirts and soft press of her silk slippers do nothing to overcome her cold muteness. The hallway seems much longer than it was before, with Mumsy refusing to throw him even the most paltry of pleasantries, and him unable to devise an adequately blithe frippery to cover up the awkward silence.

    The door at the end of the hall looks just like all the others. Over the course of the too-many days he’s spent here, it’s as if its play at anonymity made it all the more alluring. From where he stands it seems to beat with unknown power – he can feel it through the floorboards, up through his shoes, where it gives the stolen jewelry new reason to rattle him up the length of his spine. Some nights he’d even dream of the room, of the blue light pattering like raindrops against his skin, like frost against his cheek, the glow filling and flooding the room like a sapphire storm to an audible pitch he couldn’t quite place upon waking.

    “Well?” she says, turning to him. “Where’s our window washer? Be quick about it,” she says brusquely, on second thought handing him the key, and he with mouth agape watches her brush her way back to the kitchen and the rest of her appointment with Saticath.

    Headfirst he dives.


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    Tar and Tackle

    Postby Caspian on September 19th, 2020, 7:06 pm

    Image
      The source of the blue light is an array of stained glass. There are half a dozen candles here, softly burning beneath sapphire shades. Gauzy curtains hang half-open before a window inlaid with geometric sapphire panels.

      Now that he’s in the room –

      He sighs. It smells like talc, and mostly inoffensive candle flames, and the linens on the four-poster bed are, surprise, also blue, as is everything hanging in the closet. The monochromaticism was a lot more upsetting in the orange room, but here – people, for the most part, like things that are blue, so the present uniformity seems less like deliberate perturbation and more like sound choices in reasonable decor.

      The oddest things about the room – and this is him rather trying to come up with something to dub unusual, and perhaps the most upsetting thing is the veritable absence of unusual-ness itself –

      He frowns. There’s a grand chest at the foot of the bed, unusually long and slim, the shape reminiscent of a coffin. A breakfast tray with stray saucer and spoon are abandoned on the bed. On a console table by the window, a large shell the size of both his palms holds a collection of pearls, half of them strung through, the rest lying in cluster. On the floor is a silver slip, gleaming with nacreous shine beneath the lagoon-like light.

      When he rounds everything up it seems to be, suddenly, less whimsical wishful thinking for a bit more excitement, and more like he’s come into someone’s room and interrupted, with their things left in casual disarray. This is the least fastidious room in the house, the more he looks around; and secondly, to round off the eerie feeling creeping up his spine, is that he’s just realized this room only locks from the outside.

      Remembering suddenly that he’s got a job to do, he peers through every drawer, shoves aside the clothes in the closet and feels for cracks, hinges, any sign of hidden compartments or a trap door. He comes up with nothing but pearls, glass figurines, little shells polished to shine.

      It’s terribly frustrating because there must be more to the stolen jewelry than Nicolette’s necklace, Mumsy’s ring, the pair of earrings and bracelet stuffed into his sock. Had he balked earlier, he wouldn’t have found the trove tucked away behind the mirror – so he continues searching, blindingly groping beneath the mattress, then the bed, going so far as to snake into the pillowcases and the folded seams of the curtains.

      Nothing.

      Suddenly, a door slams – and at the familiar sound of block heels against the flagstones in the foyer, Caspian feels his blood run cold.

      Nicolette.

      He looks around the blue room one last time. While he’s in it, it doesn’t seem to sing. Soundlessly, he slips out and into the hall, closing the door softly behind him without locking it. The sliver of blue light holds far more promises than when he’s beneath it.

      “Who left muddy boot prints all over the mat?” Nicolette calls warningly.

      Then come the low rumbles of the butler; Nicolette scoffs, and Caspian meets her face-first as she rounds the corner.

      Instinct says he ought to have run the other way – but he’s going to salvage what he can of this job, the last of it hanging around her very neck.

      “How was it?” he asks brightly.

      She groans and rattles off gossip he barely tracks. At news of Mumsy being visited by Saticath she seems to perk up – and maybe they can pull off the very same stunt they had with the ring, and Saticath can suggest something that would have Nicolette removing the necklace herself. But just as he begins to plot, Saticath appears, rushing down the hallway with her cumbersome bags beneath both arms.

      Without sparing Caspian so much as a passing glance – perhaps the best acting she’s done all day – she chirps out something in bubbly deference to Nicolette and excuses herself without waiting for a response.

      “I wanted her to take a look at my bangs,” Nicolette says with a frown. “Something’s off about the angle and I don’t have the heart to cut it myself.” She stops outside her room, turns to him expectantly, and –

      He can’t do this again.

      “I have to show you something,” he blurts out. Before he falls into his own faltering, he takes her hand, twining their fingers together with reassuring squeeze, and leads her down the hallway.

      “Darling – “ she tugs back a little in protest, but she’s visibly delighted by his seeming to express ardent interest in her. “Where are we -?”

      The blue light beckons. From a sliver, it seems to grow into a beam that promises to become a wave – and he’s looking straight ahead, as if he means to take her to the back, to kitchen or the yard, anywhere beyond the room of his intent, for fear of his vector being made prematurely clear. To his great fortune she’s gone on about the piece of gossip that had occupied her all morning, and isn’t prepared when he suddenly stops, spinning her to face him with both hands tightly gripping her shoulders.

      She blinks at him in confusion. “Mattie -?”

      “Nicolette, I…” One hand drifts up to caress her cheek. She beams, leans in, closes her eyes – and with a sudden movement, he grabs the ruby pendant, snapping the delicate chain, and shoves her backwards.

      It happens too quickly for her to scream. Into the blue room she falls – and Caspian, with flourished pronouncement of the key he never should have been trusted to hold, locks the door.



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      Tar and Tackle

      Postby Caspian on September 19th, 2020, 7:44 pm

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        Pendant clutched in one hand, the key in the other, Caspian takes off down the hall. Having broken the necklace might upset Telemius, but the real value’s in the stone itself, or at least it ought to be, and in any case there had seemed in that moment no other choice but to snatch the thing and run.

        The blue room is just a room, and the ominously faceless door is just a door, and as such they only do so much to muffle Nicolette’s screams. Without looking over his shoulder, he can sense the staff hurrying about towards the sound, with him the obvious culprit on the loose. For a split second he nearly follows the path Saticath had taken, but there’s too many of the staff by the front door, and he still hasn’t fully recovered by the sudden shock and shame of having been knocked upside the head the times he’d prematurely tried to make a run for it. Another option is barricading himself in one of the bedrooms and prying open the window – but it hadn’t budged earlier when he’d tried with Thancerell, and he doesn’t like his odds now. He supposes he might try and bash through the panes – but the drop from this height to the ground feels more like an absolute last resort.

        He heads for the backyard. To his great fortune, no one’s there – at least, not yet, and he grabs one of the wrought metal chairs and drags it to one of the stone walls. But even on his toes the wall’s too high for him to grab the ledge, even if he leaps. Adrenaline still coursing through him, he shoves the pendant into his unoccupied sock – and on impulse, tosses the key to the blue room over the garden wall. There’s another chair – so maybe he can stack them, and from the heights of both he can will himself to fly –

        The back door of the house slides open. The head housekeeper’s hurrying towards him, skirts flying and bustled, a heavy iron ladle held menacingly in hand. He doesn’t want to hurt her; he hadn’t enjoyed pushing Nicolette. But she continues to approach and he’s got a metal chair in his hands and if she doesn’t stop he’ll have to –

        A sudden cawing has both his and the housekeeper’s heads snapping up towards the sky. A raven comes screeching down, a raving phantom against the blue, clutching at the housekeeper’s bonnet with its talons, pecking madly at her hair.

        “Cas!”

        Over the wall flies a knotted rope.

        “Thance?” he shouts back.

        “Yes! Are you there?”

        Caspian launches himself towards the rope, heaving himself upwards as Thancerell tugs from the other side. The raven that’s undoubtedly his Kelvic sister has taken hold of the housekeeper’s ladle, and of all things, appears to be jousting; he’ll thank her later, if they all make it out in one piece.

        Teetering precariously from the top of the stone wall, he takes one last look towards the house.

        Good riddance.

        The raven takes flight, bonnet in its beak, as Caspian drops into Thancerell’s arms.

        -

        Two nights later, Telemius meets Caspian at the Silver Sliver.

        After all he’d gone through with Nicolette, the convenience of meeting beneath his own apartment seems the least Telemius can grant him – though he can tell from the wrinkle in his nose and unsteady perch upon the sticky barstool that he still considers this sort of scene beneath him.

        Caspian hands Telemius a sock, the end tied into a knot.

        The wrinkle on Telemius deepens. “What – “

        “Necklace. Ring. Earrings. Bracelet. If there’s more, they’re locking it down tight. Please believe me, and please don’t send me back. Petch, I can’t believe you two are related.”

        Telemius unties the sock, considers the contents briefly, and solemnly tucks it into his pocket. “It is what it is. You have my gratitude.”

        "Are you sure she isn't looking for me?"

        With a brusque wave - really, the most confident thing he's ever seen the man do - Telemius replies, "I've handled it. And it may interest you to know she's already taken in the busboy who cleared the table at the restaurant I invited her to, when I made my... concerns about the estate known."

        It's not ideal - and perhaps a touch insulting, how quickly she moved on? But perhaps as good an assurance as he's going to get.

        "Here, uh - " The ungainly Telemius he knows returns, in the form of the man retrieving from his pocket a worn-looking golden ring with a red gemstone, and sliding it awkwardly across the table. It's nothing like the scarlet monstrosity of Mumsy's scarab ring, but the hue of the gemstone is very much in keeping. "I thought you might like, ah, a little souvenir?"

        Greatly bemused - and noting that if the selling point of the old Powell treasure trove is the peculiar red gemstone, this one's rather on the smaller side - Caspian slides it onto his left index finger, holding it up to admire it in the flickering tavern light.

        He feels, suddenly, a sense of surety and balance that has nothing to do with his tankard of liquid courage. It's all very odd - and when he slides the ring off -

        He blinks.

        Telemius is fiddling with the handle on his tankard. Though only a second or two could have passed, Caspian feels as if it might already be tomorrow.

        "Thank you," he says, tucking the ring into an inner pocket of his coat. "I know you - well, this all meant very much to you, and it's something to be given a piece of it."

        "Sure, sure," Telemius hums.

        Caspian waits.

        Telemius stares. Clears his throat, and awkwardly adds, “So, I’m, ah, waiting for someone and – “

        “You’re still seeing my sister?” Caspian replies, aghast. “Wait – no. Don’t tell me. Honestly? I’m okay not knowing.”

        “She’s a lovely lass,” Telemius says, unable to help himself.

        Unable to muster a polite response – and out of genuine admiration for Taalviel’s duel with a kitchen utensil – Caspian claps him on the back, and leaves him be.

        “Hey!”

        Thancerell and Saticath are turning down the lane. Caspian walks back the steps he’d just ascended to his apartment and meets them with a grin.

        “All alright, are we?” he asks.

        “I think you might have dislodged something in my back, but other than that, right as rain,” Thancerell replies.

        “That was so much fun,” Saticath exclaims. “Gods, terrifying, but – I didn’t sleep a wink that night. Even when I’d hidden the ring at the bottom of the bag I was so sure she could see it, and when I pushed by the two of you in the hall – and somehow my bag felt heavier?”

        “The weight of sin, Sati. The daily burden I bear,” Caspian replies.

        Thancerell nods towards the Silver Sliver. “You up for a drink?”

        Descending the stairs suddenly is Taalviel, who pauses at the foot to glance at them before turning sharply into the tavern.

        Caspian turns away, having no interest to revisit the fervent look that comes over Telemius whenever Taalviel is concerned.

        “For you? Always. But tonight – anywhere but here.”

        Thancerell ruffles his hair; he threads his arm through Saticath’s. The three of them pass to another bar, the moon their constant companion, an indelible blue gleam singing across the ever rippling waters.


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