Completed Frump and File

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

Frump and File

Postby Caspian on November 30th, 2020, 1:36 am

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59 Fall 520

The elation and novelty that had been Caspian’s unexpected adventure at the Outpost whittles itself down before the week is out. This was to be expected - name one decent thing that lasts - though seeing it coming doesn’t make it any easier to bear. So immediately do the daily drudgeries slam him that the Outpost, Kendra, and Moritz are a vague memory, belonging to someone fearless and vibrant and not only willing, but searching for the plunge.

Weeks pass, plural - and between getting high in the loft when Taalviel isn’t there, getting high in the yard when she is, and skulking about on East Street - the parts that prove familiar are a bludgeon, just stones in his pocket to weigh him down to the bottom of the proximal Bay. Shiress’ parents have their schedules at the docks, the markets, gadding and puttering about the house; Shiress herself never goes so far now that she’s got Ian on her hip; and Rosie dutifully proceeds to work and back and that’s good, right, that at least one of them is making a living in a blessedly straightforward way, the sort of occupation you can write down on paper and not hem and haw and curtail in explaining.

Everything they do in the cottage could fit in a scrawl on his palm. And though the cottage is full, sometimes too much so, it becomes painful, this void that he’s made the mistake of noticing. The problem is that none of this is his - the roof over his head, the people who share it, even the duvet he sleeps beneath - all of it is on loan to him, begotten by happenstance.

The closest thing he’s made to a friend since they got here is the old codger he keeps running into on East Street, and even then he can’t predict the ramshackle slipshod of a man’s comings and goings.

And so perhaps it’s at his most demonstrable, though still far from publicly admissible degree of loneliness when he meets Mindy again.

The woman is wearing a blue frock, just like last time, this one a deep sapphire with silver grosgrain bows at the hems. She smiles at him uncertainly before taking a seat on the bench beside him, her skirts so voluminous one might have fit a whole other person and a half in their berth.

“Mindy,” Caspian says cordially.

“I’m not bothering you, am I?” Mindy begins, already anxious. She follows his gaze to the bakery across the street. Truthfully, he’s only sat here because it’s a place that isn’t the cottage, and he only seems to be closely observing the bakery because it happens to be the direction the bench is facing.

That he’s simply loitering is not necessarily something she needs to know. Feigning focus, he snaps his gaze to her, then back to the bakery. “Need something?”

“No, not me! I mean - yes, my nephew -“

The mention of aunt-hood and extended family immediately reminds him of Lee and her niece Kendra, and his running around with Moritz. If this is a another case of enforcing involuntary engagement he’s not sure he can -

“He’s an insurance claims agent,” Mindy goes on, “and he’s only just started - he’s still quite young - and I’m sorry to say but he’s just not that good at it -“

“So this has nothing to do with an arranged marriage?”

Mindy frowns. “No. Why would it?”

“...never mind. Alright, nephew’s ready to get sacked. And you need me to...?”

“He works in the personal injury department. If someone sustains an injury at work they can get some of the medical bills paid, and a stipend while they recover. Or indefinitely, if it’s permanent. But the problem is he’s awful at saying no and I’m afraid he approved several that he shouldn’t. There’s got to be at least one case you can look into for him. Prove their injuries are fake or just not so bad as they filed. Please, he’s already dug himself in and the longer these fraud cases go on, the worse he looks for having approved them.”

“Assuming any of them are actually fraud,” Caspian muses out loud.

“He’s suspicious about one in particular, he just doesn’t know how to... you know -“

“Diligently verify?” Caspian antiseptically supplies.

Mindy sighs. “Please. It was a bother and a half getting him this job in the first place and I don’t want to have to pull more strings to get him another.”

“Alright then,” Caspian says, stretching languidly over the back of the bench before rising to his feet. “Where’s the nephew now? Fancy coming along?”

It’s the loneliness, certainly, that has him offering his arm.


WC: 790
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Last edited by Caspian on December 1st, 2020, 1:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Caspian
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Posts: 402
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Frump and File

Postby Caspian on December 1st, 2020, 12:23 am

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If they had met under different circumstances, perhaps he might like Mindy more than he actually does.

What would those other circumstances have been, though? By chance she had taken the seat beside him at a tavern; as was to be expected, she held a conversation with a friend at a decibel perfectly audible to him, and being who he was it was a small matter of pivoting to the left and butting in. That tends to be how he makes most of his acquaintances – and he wonders, vaguely, if this is in fact normal.

She’s rather good-looking, and he rather likes good-looking people. For reasons previously expounded he couldn’t muster up the energy needed to put on his magical suit this morning. It’s a sorry sight, not to live up to glorious threads, and if one isn’t in the mood it’s like parading oneself as a pitiable clown. The red blouson shirt he’d thrown on had been his way of splitting the difference. Arm in arm, his red against her blue, they’re a pair of gumdrops, a twining of hothouse blooms, and with the click of his shoes against the cobblestones and the tap-tap-tap of her heels he rediscovers a spark of his old semblance. If only he might cling a little longer –

“- oh, I’m fairly certain it’s – “ Mindy hesitates between two municipal buildings, which upon cursory glance are essentially the same (but that’s not what Taalviel would tell him; no, she’d point out that the one on the left has fewer stairs but a grander façade, and the one on the right – what’s that? Revolving doors -?)

Eventually, to Caspian’s disappointment, she decides on the left with doors of a design of very little significance.

They pass through an atrium, then up a flight of stairs – then another, and another, and she has this way of strutting forward just ever so slightly half a foot ahead that means no one questions her presence here, and by extension, Caspian’s. A door swings open, admitting a man at whose side swings a handsome green leather briefcase, and Caspian catches a glimpse of a sign engraved with the designation Fedley and Hanson Insurance Claims before he dutifully follows Mindy inside.

Mindy leads Caspian past rows of desks occupied by people in near-identical drab, bent at near-identical angle over ledgers and quills. “Martin!” Mindy hisses at a man towards the back.

The man’s head jerks up at his name. Unlike the almost doll-like precision of his aunt’s gestures and features, Martin is gangly and a tad bit sunburned, and is clearly uncomfortable in his slacks and tie, though it’s hard to picture what sort of ensemble would actually suit him. He glances at Caspian’s very red shirt, tangles with quick calculations over speculations as to what Caspian’s relationship to his aunt is, exactly – then turns back nervously to the woman commanding his attention.

Whatever Mindy hurriedly whispers to Martin – Caspian catches bits and pieces, but he’s not too fussed, and he already knows why he’s here.

“Alright,” Mindy says, pointedly enough to indicate to Caspian that she’s arrived at her conclusion. “You two cozy up, hmm? Martin – anything you need, you send him for, yes?”

Perhaps knowing better, Martin had not tried very hard to argue. Mindy and her blue skirts swept from the room, leaving Caspian and Martin at his desk in a sea of strangers who, without Mindy, now eyed him up and down with abandon.

“Let’s get one thing straight,” Caspian says, pulling up a chair and settling beside Martin at his desk. The feeling is so novel – has he ever sat at a desk like this before? – that he almost loses his train of thought. But Martin’s shifting uncomfortably beside him reels him back to the present. “I don’t know what she’s told you, but I’m not your lackey. Nor am I your goon. I’m a private investigator and apparently I’m here to take a bit off your plate.”

Martin nods, blushing furiously and cleaning his glasses with the end of his tie. “I’m sorry,” he suddenly bursts out. “She’s a lot, isn’t she? I’m sorry she’s dragged you in.”

“Don’t be,” Caspian says, propping his legs up on the wastebasket beneath the desk and his arms behind his head. Imagine this being the way of making one’s living. Immediately he feels something closing in, or that there should at least be more windows. “I’ve done worse for a lot less. So – which file would you have me tail first?”



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Caspian
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Posts: 402
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Joined roleplay: August 12th, 2018, 11:26 pm
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Frump and File

Postby Caspian on December 1st, 2020, 1:00 am

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It’s high noon, and Caspian is terribly bored.

The park bench he’s chosen is not his favorite. About a bell ago he had been ushered off of his favorite, having made the mistake of lying horizontally upon it. This probably doesn’t happen the closer one gets to East Street, but he’s somewhere on the West, and here the Wave Guard have a rather stingy sense of propriety and a warped sense of communal spaces. Loitering alone and napping on a bench suggests, he’s guessing, the idea that he’s homeless, and the Wave Guard would rather herd that sort of rabble and rot the other cardinal direction. Uninterested in holding another terse conversation with full-armored, well-weaponed authority – though that might change depending on how much more bored he gets in the next few ticks – he crosses one leg over the other, holds his spine upright, and pretends to read the newspaper on his lap.

Across from him is a townhouse, the primary residence, at least on file, for one Belva Darte. Said file had been left back on Martin’s desk, but Caspian had gleaned from it all he needed – the address, a rough physical description of Belva, the manner of her injury. So he’s here on a tidy corner on West Street, on the lookout for a woman as tall as himself with brown hair and a broken leg.

The newspaper is not interesting. He’s already folded the corners over and over until he hit the diagonal, and bundled it up like an accordion. It isn’t a good use of his time, and he turns his eyes back to Belva’s building. The building’s slim but arching tall, and he imagines vaulted ceilings on both floors. There are five windows that he can see from here, one wide-set bay window on the first floor, which he assumes is for the parlor, another window inlaid in the front door. On the second floor are two windows leading into either one or two bedrooms, then another that, as he’d approached from a distance, seemed to belong to the landing for an assumed set of stairs. Speaking of stairs, there are three stone steps leading up to the front door, and before the front door is a seasonally appropriate mat woven from artfully browned straw.

Part of Belva’s claim is that she’s suffered from shock, that the injury’s gone right to her back – though her spine, thank all the Gods, is conveniently intact – and as such – well, it’s not a crime to leave one’s house, per se, but according to the claim she should be in no position to cavort or jig.

What if he could lure her?

With a frown, he flicks to the next page of his newspaper. Lure her to where, and with what? No, the best thing to do – the only thing to do, as Martin had put it – was wait and see if she perhaps tried to carry something that a person in her position would not be physically capable of doing.

Terribly dull lot for the day. And to think that just a few weeks ago he had been scrambling with a bloody rag through an Outpost bazaar.



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Caspian
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Frump and File

Postby Caspian on December 1st, 2020, 1:25 am

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Finally, at two bells past noon, Caspian senses movement in the townhouse.

He’d almost missed it, having nearly allowed himself to doze off beneath the admittedly pleasant sun and amiably light breeze.

But he blinks, and – no, he isn’t imagining it. Someone is pulling back one of the curtains in the parlor window on the first floor.

A woman who appears to be in her mid-twenties with straight brown hair is peering out, gaze inclined upwards – thankfully not towards him, and perhaps checking the weather. It’s too soon to say it’s her, though – woman with brown hair is a description that might prove applicable to most of the Zeltivan population. She draws the curtain back across the window, obstructing his view, and he wonders with dismay if that perhaps might prove to be the most interesting thing to happen to him all day. But a few minutes later, the front door opens, and out totters the same woman with a light coat thrown over her shoulders, crutches under both arms, and a small toy poodle on a leash.

If the pristine little figurine of an animal ever hit the Sunberth streets – it would fizzle up in an instant, so clearly unsuited would it be for enduring wear and tear and anything slimier than a raindrop. Caspian supposes it even eats better than he does, sleeps longer and deeper hours, so manicured is it down from the roots of each curl down to its delicately articulated joints.

Is she going to walk the dog?

Given the leg she’s got trussed up in the cast, not to the mention the pair of unseemly, clattery crutches, he doesn’t suppose much walking should be possible.

He catches himself staring too hard, and forces his gaze back down to the newspaper, counts several times to three.

The dog seems rather happy to be outside, in any case. If the injury is in fact real, or Belva’s just that committed of an actor, then perhaps the dog hasn’t been let out nearly as often as it used to.

Belva means to make her way down the steps, cast and crutches and all. If Caspian were a gentleman – well, who’s to say he’s not? – so, really, if he weren’t on duty, he might have bolted up and helped her down. But that would spoil the purpose of his being here, and if, Gods forbid, this investigation drags out another day, it wouldn’t help him at all if she then recognized him.

Belva makes it down three steps before, apparently, having forgotten something. Fumbling with her crutches, she digs through her coat pockets – doesn’t find what she’s looking for, and on teetering steps makes her way back to her front door.

She coos something bright and cheery to the dog, and ties the leash to one of the railings on the front porch before heading inside.

Caspian blinks. Whether or not the injury is false, the cast is something to reckon with, and would certainly slow her. He looks around quickly – thankfully, no one in sight, then crosses the path on quick strides to the porch.

To the dog’s credit, it doesn’t seem too startled at the approach of a stranger, and waves its tail happily at the sight of him instead of yapping, as he’d feared. The knot Belva had tied around the railing had been a cursory gesture at best. With one tug, Caspian easily pulls the leash free, then backs down the steps and returns to his newspaper.



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Caspian
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Posts: 402
Words: 531695
Joined roleplay: August 12th, 2018, 11:26 pm
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Frump and File

Postby Caspian on December 1st, 2020, 1:43 am

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Smoking isn’t his favorite pastime, which is a shame, because it used to be. But like the newspaper now wrung past its original crispness, it’s something to do with his hands. He fishes his tobacco pipe from his pocket, the bowl still full from the last time he’d momentarily burnt it for show.

As predicted, it takes Belva a good minute to get to the door, several ticks for her to amble over the threshold, pivot around the door and gain full purchase upon the porch.

Another full tick for her to notice her dog’s gone missing.

It doesn’t take a magnifying glass to see Belva’s immediate distress. She looks wildly from left to right, and hobbles with worrying unsteadiness down the steps onto the lane.

Caspian’s kept his eye on the dog for the duration. As if aware of its own precious fragility – or to give it more credit, something to do with a natural keenness for scents and familiarity – it had never wandered very far from Belva’s house, nor exited Caspian’s view. It had been fun to watch – startled by everything, including the passing breezes, a meandering cat, and especially by a stray leaf that struck the path beside it, which nearly put it in cardiac arrest.

At the point that Belva reaches the lane, the dog is about two houses down. One would think that it would smell her, and run into her arms – or perhaps it very much does smell her, for it takes one look at her and skitters the other way.

Belva spots the dog and calls its name. Again, one would think the dog would have responded in the affirmative – but upon seeing her stumbling avidly towards it, its skitter picks up into a quick trot the other direction, and then a bolt. Belva calls out again, hobbling with surprising speed on crutches and cast – and as the dog reaches a turn at the end of the lane, at the edge of Caspian’s field of vision, Belva appears to give in to her panic – for she drops said crutches and runs right after it.

Caspian rises from the bench immediately, still in the motions of smoking though not inhaling very deeply, and – yes. Now a few yards closer – though feigning the most meandering of promenades – he has an obstructed view. Belva takes no less than a dozen long strides that would not have been possible of someone with a broken limb, not without excruciating pain, hindered only by how cumbersome the cast is by virtue of its being. Unwilling to let the dog out of her clutches again, Belva scoops up the dog into her arms and heads back to her crutches lying abandoned in the lane.

Though he pictures rather vividly, for a moment, swooping up the crutches and delivering them right to her arms – his neck hurts, and so does his back, so dully stock-still had been the day so far. He’s seen enough, and he’ll report exactly what he saw to Martin, and the ungainly twerp can do what he will with it.


WC: 513
Total WC: 3,169
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User avatar
Caspian
Player
 
Posts: 402
Words: 531695
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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