Completed Borrowed and Blue

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Center of scholarly knowledge and shipwrighting, Zeltiva is a port city unlike any other in Mizahar. [Lore]

Borrowed and Blue

Postby Caspian on August 30th, 2020, 11:20 pm

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76 Summer 520

“So, this is… highly unusual.”

Taalviel looks up from her tankard of kelp beer and frowns at him. “Is there also something floating in yours?”

Caspian peers uncertainly over the edge of his tankard, and gives the murkiness a gentle slosh. It isn’t exactly effervescently aerated, that’s for sure. Namely because perhaps something is floating, with more just below the surface.

“I mean the simple fact of you encouraging me to drink in the first place,” he replies. “Are you feeling well? Have you hit your head and neglected to tell me about it? Because if something’s the matter with you I’d like to know upfront.”

“You’re making a lot of fuss.”

“And you’re putting a drink in my hand instead of taking it away. Which, historically, has never happened. Who are you and what have you done with my sister?”

Still unconvinced by the concoction that Zeltivans attempt to pass off as beer, she dips a finger into the tankard, grimaces, and wipes it off on the edge of the rim.

Something solid is definitely sticking.

“I just thought,” she says carefully, “that perhaps you deserved a bit of fun.”

“You and my idea of fun, may I remind you, tend to be mutually exclusive.”

If she takes offence, it only manifests in her squaring back her shoulders and making as if to leave.

“Wait! Gods. Sorry, alright? I didn’t mean it. Just know you’ve got me off-kilter,” Caspian exclaims, catching her by the arm and tugging her back into her seat. There goes his quota for displaying physical familial affection for the week.

“It only seemed,” she continues in the same measured tones, “that you have been feeling a bit unlike yourself, given… things as of late. So I thought that this might help.”

So she had noticed. Something had come upon him since last winter, bolstered and doubled down by the summer and their sudden departure from Ravok. It was as if he had become his own alien, so muddled and distanced from himself did he feel whenever his recursive thoughts would take hold. He was eating less, sleeping less – sleeping around, hardly at all and eventually never. It was entirely unlike him – but how many times does one retrace a pattern until it only serves to signify precisely who they are?

“Better drink before they go warm,” he says as jovially as he can muster, raising his tankard to her.

She raises hers, and they knock them back.

And immediately sputter, because entirely counterintuitively, the concoction might prove better boiled.

Something that’s managing to be both slimy and gritty is sticking to his lips. Frantically, he fishes in his pocket for his handkerchief, and wipes his mouth clean. The white linen is stained a remarkably nuanced shade of green. To his right, Taalviel’s holding her tankard gingerly with both hands, as if it’s a frog that had the moxy to accost her and might very well do so again.

But they aren’t quitters, the children of Kharis – and with grim resolution, their own way of ceding themselves to their situation for the foreseeable future, they knock back their drinks again. Caspian makes it halfway before his concentration lapses and he remembers exactly what in his drink.

“I’ve had worse,” Taalviel says, erupting into a fit of coughs so wretched that Caspian’s compelled to pass her his handkerchief.

Two women have joined them at the bar, posed very near on Caspian’s left. Seeking a distraction from the aftertaste stubbornly clinging to his tongue, he glances over at them. People dress differently here than in Ravok – a whole lot less pomp and circumstance, he notes with a sigh – but from the primness of their well-tailored frocks and the conspicuous gleam of their wedding bands, he supposes they might be housewives.

“Suppose I get one of them to take me in,” he mutters to Taalviel.

She follows his eyeline, then gives him a severe up-and-down. “Aren’t you getting a bit old for that game?”

Old?” Caspian sputters. “I’m 27 – “

“Exactly. And we laid tracks for your better and more sustainable future.”

“Sure, in lands far away from here.”

“So we start again,” she replies simply, taking a sip of her beer and distinctly forcing herself to swallow. “Now hush. We listen.”

WC: 711
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Last edited by Caspian on November 14th, 2020, 2:50 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Caspian
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Borrowed and Blue

Postby Caspian on November 9th, 2020, 12:40 am

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The women directly to Caspian’s left is Mindy; the other one is Leah. Caspian’s got one elbow propped up on the bar, his chin on his fist, and his gaze inclined in Taalviel’s direction. Thankfully, the bar doesn’t have very many patrons tonight, and any cross-talk isn’t too difficult to parse through.

If this were the Silver Sliver, though – he tries not to think about what it must look like tonight, how it fares without him. It had been a comforting thing, taking an apartment just two floors above it. More valuable to him than the immediate convenience of merely descending the stairs for beer and company had been the near-constant buzz of noise it provided. Silence unnerves him, and it was only in the very dead hours just before morning that the Silver Sliver failed to provide.

“I wish we could switch places,” he says to Taalviel, who’s dragging a stray bit of kelp out of her tankard. “I’d like to give them a proper look.”

“You had them right the first time,” she replies, giving the women a surreptitious once-over. “Mid-30s. They’ve just been to the curlers and their nails are clean. I think the one in blue just got married.”

They fall silent and listen in.

“…heard she had the reception right off the coast!” Mindy’s exclaiming.

“But I thought her father gets seasick?” Lee replies.

“You know how it is with her – what she wants, she gets. And everything has to be perfect.” Caspian can practically hear Mindy rolling her eyes.

“I suppose it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. But enough about her – I haven’t seen you in ages. How’ve you been? How’s Harv?”

Though they aren’t touching, Caspian senses a sudden stiffness in the air.

“That’s what I meant to talk to you about, Lee,” Mindy says stiltedly. “It’s true that I haven’t been feeling well – I’ve just – been laid up sick to my stomach, thinking about Harv and – and – “

Lee gasps, and there’s rustling behind him.

“Great,” Taalviel murmurs, casting her glance up and away. “She’s crying.”

“Again?” Lee’s saying.

“Y-yes! At least – I think so – “ Mindy exclaims through the beginnings of a sob.

Taalviel clicks her tongue.

“And you’re sure I don’t have a shot?” Caspian mutters under his breath. “Surely she comes with money of her own.”

“If you want to run off and be someone’s pet again, I won’t stop you,” Taalviel replies, “but I think we both know there’s a lot more job security in attending to her other needs.”

“I suspect you would stop me, but I’m not in the mood to definitively find out,” Caspian hisses. It takes a beat, but – there it is, on the inhale-exhale. There will be time enough later for games.

He straightens up in his chair and swivels purposefully to the women behind him. “Excuse me – Mindy, is it?”

Mindy turns to him, still dabbing furiously at her eyes with her own lace-trimmed handkerchief. “Yes?”

“I’m Caspian. This is my sister Taalviel. I couldn’t help but overhear that there’s a matter in need of… verification, to put it plainly. And it just so happens that infidelity is my area.”

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Borrowed and Blue

Postby Caspian on November 12th, 2020, 1:39 am

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Mindy seems dubious at Caspian’s offer; Lee, exceptionally so. This is likely for the best, because perhaps it would ultimately be more to his benefit were he to get entangled with someone who, at minimum, has a decent head on their shoulders.

“I’m Caspian,” he says promptly.

They both make it very clear they have no interest in shaking his hand.

“And you’re… what? Some kind of hand for hire?” Mindy asks.

“Mindy,” Lee says warningly, not so inconspicuously attempting to tug her friend away.

“I’m – “ Caspian hesitates. “ – an investigator. The personal and private kind. And, as I said, one who’s been round a bend like this before. Harv’s your – husband, right?”

“Mindy – “

Mindy blinks back tear-stained eyes, waves her friend off, and nods. “The problem is – this isn’t the first time. And he swore he’d never again, and now – what’s wrong with me? Why did I think he would change?” She burst out into a heaving sob.

“There’s nothing wrong with you, Mindy,” Caspian replies soothingly, catching the eye of the bartender, who then resumed polishing the glasses. “We want to see the best in people. We should see the best –“

“I-I – I j-just – “ Mindy looks prepared for another sob. “What did I do? I must have – somehow led him to – to – “

As Lee pats her friend comfortingly on the shoulder, Caspian puts on his best approximation of someone sincerely invested in the proceedings.

“I know we’ve only just met, Mindy,” he says, “but I can already tell you that you didn’t do anything wrong. Some people are just dogs is all.”

“Harv is not a dog.”

Mindy’s sudden fierceness takes Caspian aback for a moment.

“No, no – of course he isn’t,” he says. “But – “ he proceeds cautiously, “it would help, yes? To have another set of eyes. Just to make sure you, ah, saw what you saw. Not that I think you didn’t, ah, see what you saw, but – “

Behind him, Taalviel coughs.

Right, he’s meandering.

“Who’s she?” Lee sharply asks.

“My sister,” Caspian replies quickly, before she can, as it tends to go, be mistaken for something more.

“Taalviel,” she supplies – and, remarkably, chases with a sip of her distinctly green beer.

“Really, Mindy – two sets of eyes, for the price of one. Let me know what your husband’s schedule is, and generally what he looks like. And by the end of the week, we’ll – “ Is a week enough? “We’ll deliver.”

Mindy blows her nose loudly into her handkerchief.

Caspian would offer her his if it weren’t already caked in green sludge.

“Mindy,” Lee begins firmly, understandably still not a fan of being accosted by strange men in public, “you don’t need them. I’ll follow that awful excuse of a man for free.”

“And if he recognizes you? I’m sure he could, even from a distance,” Caspian says, looking Lee directly in the eye. “He’ll see you coming a mile away. And then he’ll change his patterns, and you won’t get the evidence you need. Taalviel and I – we’re stark new in town, Mindy. He won’t know what hit him. Not that we would! Hit him, that is. …unless you want us to?”

Behind him, Taalviel grinds her teeth and sighs. Lee seems equally displeased.

But Mindy only laughs, and quickly grasps Caspian’s hand in her own.


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Borrowed and Blue

Postby Caspian on November 12th, 2020, 2:05 am

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“Is it just me, or have the last twelve people who’ve walked into that building worn exactly the same outfit?”

Caspian and Taalviel are reclining on a wrought-iron bench across the street from a municipal building in the University Quarter. It’s somewhere past eight in the morning, and he stifles back a yawn. Neither of them had slept much the previous night – someone in the cottage has a wrecking cough and the baby had woken with a cry around midnight, which led to Shiress pacing, and subsequently set off a chain of fussing by the rest of the adults that all amounted to the rogue siblings gritting their teeth in frustration in the dark. So as much as he wishes he could just crawl back into bed – another bed, preferably, and far away – it’s nice, being out here, with the air still dawn-chilled and fairly quiet save for the clicking of brogues across the stones.

Harv works in the municipal building in question. Mindy had explained his job – at length, for some reason, and with a fair bit of residual pride despite all his alleged infidelity. Frankly, Caspian had tuned out the moment she waxed poetic about Harv’s job’s daily arithmetic, which is not really Caspian’s area, and as far as he can tell Taalviel hadn’t found that much expounding to be that valuable either.

“It’s not exactly the same,” Taalviel replies.

“Sure, sometimes the stripes on their ties run top-left instead of top-right. But the way they fold their cuffs – and their shoes, it’s like they all slaughtered the same cattle.”

Taalviel exhales sharply, which from her is as good as a laugh.

When Harv enters their field of view –

They’re nearly disappointed, on his behalf, on how close they had come to missing him.

He just looks so much like the office workers who enter the building before him and all the ones traipsing after him, and he hasn’t necessarily got his head ducked or slumped, but if Mindy hadn’t been incredibly specific about the deep oxblood shade of his briefcase, they might not have been able to readily pick him out.

They hang about and monitor the office workers through noon. Harv doesn’t smoke, and perhaps takes lunch at his desk, so there’s really nothing to see. Caspian tries to imagine what it would be like being cooped up in four walls and avidly smokes through a good quarter-bell in recompense.

They do this all week. Harv enters the building around eight, exits with the rest of the swarm after five. Taalviel vaguely suggests entering the building and posing as office workers, or overwhelmed and wandering students – there seem to be a good deal of them in this city – but it becomes rather evident she’d only brought it up out of sheer boredom.

“You don’t have to do this, you know,” Caspian says as they tail Harv from a generous distance, a quarter past five. “I know I promised Mindy two sets of eyes, but – does someone like Harv really need them?”

By now, they easily recognize that Harv’s on the well-beaten path home.

Taalviel seamlessly sidesteps a man rolling a barrel of something heady and sloshing and catches up to him with feather-light bounds. “You can never have too much insurance.”



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Caspian
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Borrowed and Blue

Postby Caspian on November 13th, 2020, 1:15 am

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There’s one day where Harv shows up to work conspicuously early.

It’s only really conspicuous because he’s otherwise just so on the dot.

That morning, Taalviel isn’t with him. Oddly enough her side of the bed had been empty when he’d woken, and from the tunic and leggings neatly folded on a chair, and the open window, presumably she’d flown out for the day.

As a matter of practice – and also, to no small degree, a distinct dash of boredom – Caspian’s been rotating the points around the municipal building at which he loiters. There’s no shortage of iron benches in this part of town, and he learned fairly quickly which ones are most likely to be splattered with bird droppings. Hence, strategic avoidance, and here he is now with one leg crossed over another on favorite bench number four, which earns marks for cleanliness but loses several for distance from the office door.

But at bench number four, nevertheless, he catches sight of Harv showing up a good half bell sooner than usual. And when he subsequently leaves the building that same interval of time before five, it seems worth noting.

He counts to ten – a methodical, easy set that not even the likes of Taalviel could possibly criticize – and follows after Harv down the well-paved streets past other municipal buildings essentially identical to his own. It would be better, maybe, if there were more people – but most office workers aren’t also playing hooky. Sometimes it seems that Harv looks over his shoulder – and this makes Caspian shove his hands into his pockets and hunch down a touch in reflex. The advantage here, as he’d patiently explained and re-explained to Mindy and Lee in the bar, is that even if Harv has his guard up, he simply doesn’t know it’s Caspian he should be looking for. The further they go, the more frequently Harv seems to admit he frets. Which is all rather amateurish and perhaps guilty enough, but promises to make Caspian’s job at least fairly straightforward.

They take a turn that is decidedly in the opposite cardinal direction of Harv and Mindy’s home. At the sight of dirtying cobblestones, and considerably less well-heeled students in favor of more of the riff-raff on which he’d been raised, and finally, an East Street sign hanging off-kilter and partially wrenched from its post, Caspian snorts. One hopes that at the very least, Harv’s new thrills come cheap.

Caspian slows his stroll into a saunter. Harv sticks out among the denizens of East Street obviously enough; arguably, worse off than if Caspian had decided to wear scarlet. Not all of the establishments on this street have their names posted to the facades, so Caspian counts the doors they pass, notes an admirably vulgar patch of graffiti with someone’s name crossed out, reworked, and ineffectively blanched. And only a few yards down from said alley does he see Harv rap twice on a door, and negotiate briefly with a high-heeled woman in the threshold, before being let inside.


WC: 505
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Caspian
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Posts: 422
Words: 549280
Joined roleplay: August 12th, 2018, 11:26 pm
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Borrowed and Blue

Postby Caspian on November 14th, 2020, 2:49 pm

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It’s been about half an hour, and Caspian’s held a near-immovable lean against the wall a few doors down from whatever sort of establishment – though one can guess – into which Harv had negotiated himself.

“Lookin’ for somethin’?”

Startling, Caspian swivels his head sharply to the left, coming face-to-face and exceptionally proximal to someone whose breath suggests that kelp beer is their main source of nutrition. On his head is something like a well-stacked top hat, patched and woven together by a mass of twigs and weeds and what might have once been gabardine. His cloak, heavily mottled and a frightfully ambiguous shade of green, brings to mind the possibility that it was made from the very same vegetation. The man’s rickety movements, as his avidly purveys Caspian up and down, are even accompanied by a rather oceanic slap-and-slosh.

Not wanting to be rude – he’s new in town and both he and Taalviel rather like this street – Caspian only retracts by millimeters, rather than the yards he might have put between them by reflex.

“Can’t say that I am,” he replies cheerily.

“Doin’ a whole load of lookin’ at, then?” The man shoots him a conspiratorial grin. Unsurprisingly, his teeth are flecked with the same bit of green.

“That going to be a problem?” Caspian says in the same light tone.

“Suppose it depends on what exactly it is getting’ the lookin’.”

“And I take it you’re the authority on all comings and goings?”

“Boy, yer best come correct. Yer dancin’ with the mayor of East Street!” And the man draws himself up to his full height, which might have been half a head taller than Caspian, if it weren’t for the crook in his back holding him at parabolic tilt.

Maybe it had been a mistake to park himself here, instead of pacing the street, or rounding the block. It can have, as evidenced now, the unfortunate effect of inviting company and consultation.

But the man hasn’t done anything more offensive, perhaps, than express enthusiasm. In any case, Caspian tends to be much more receptive to this sort of accosting than someone, say, from the Wave Guard – and he does have a question that he’d rather not seek the answer to by following directly in Harv’s footsteps.

“That door over there,” he says, inclining his head down the way, “the one just past the green awning. What goes on?”

The man follows Caspian’s gaze and squints down the street, then lets out a huff of a laugh. “That’ll be Tammy’s Tarts.” No surprises there, but it’s good to have a name. Gleeful derision lights on his face, and he turns his ogle-eyed inspection to Caspian again. “Why? Fresh out of work? I’d try further down the block, though. From what I’ve seen, Tammy’s Tarts is mostly lasses.” Before Caspian can set the record straight, the man’s expression shifts into something akin to parental concern. “But are yer sure, lad? Aren’t you gettin’ a bit old fer the trade?”

“I’m only 27,” Caspian exclaims for the second time that week, unsure as to whether he should interpret the look on the self-proclaimed mayor’s face as fond disbelief or vindication of his concern.

Just past the green awning, Harv makes his exit.

A good 45 minutes, then, which seems just right for the level of indiscretion.

“Well – “ Caspian says, clearing his throat, “ – this has been – a day, Mayor East. And I’m sure you have affairs of state in need of your attendance.” Ignoring the kelp-clothed man rattling off further advice as to Caspian’s employment prospects, he shoves his hands into his pockets and takes off at a brisk pace down the opposite way. He can double back around and tail Harv on his way home – besides, he’s seen enough.



WC: 629
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Caspian
Player
 
Posts: 422
Words: 549280
Joined roleplay: August 12th, 2018, 11:26 pm
Location: Zeltiva
Race: Human, Mixed
Character sheet
Storyteller secrets
Medals: 4
Featured Character (1) Featured Thread (2)
Overlored (1)


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