Closed Honest Work

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Herein lies Xyna's Outpost, and her gift to Mizahar's people. It is a magical place full of potential and possibility where all can gather and exchange ideas and commerce.

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Honest Work

Postby Madeira Dusk on November 9th, 2021, 4:44 am

    2nd of Fall, 921
A marvel of engineering, the Kalskan Fountain never ran dry. It flowed not just with water but with a steady stream of people. Here gossip babbled like a brook and personality and culture broke its banks to flood the square. Here life and water mingled in a strange eddy in the wide landscape of the Outpost.

Madeira cut through the early morning crowd straight from the Dovecote to the adjacent watering hole with a hand held in front of her like the prow of a ship. She was not looking to chat with the locals. Dressed in white lace from throat to floor, Madeira was gloved even in the heat. Several hundred mizas worth of colourful jewelry were wrapped around her waist, throat, and wrist, and the severe braid wrapped around the back of her head was as hard and shiny as lacquered wood. In one hand was a handwritten ad in flawless cursive:

Sunberthian Needed
for
Unconventional Archeology

Looking for a Sunberthian of sound mind and body for simple investigation of local gravesite for generous reward. Previous experience in investigation/petty theft/grave robbery ideal. Spiritual fortitude recommended. Please inquire at Light Up the Night, ask for Dusk.


Like the Gazette back in Lahvit, there was a board in this square where those looking to work or hire, or those selling odd wares or services, could post their notes for the perusal of the ever-shifting flow of people in and out of the popular gathering place. It was exactly what Madeira needed.

Taking a tack from the bottom of the board, she discreetly removed a note already there in order to place hers in the most visible location. Reaching above her head, she carefully secured the ad at what she judged to be Jomi's eyeline. She wanted someone on the sturdier side to reply. It wouldn't really help with what she wanted, being strong did not make you immune to the restless dead, but generally the bigger ones tended to be less cowardly.

Dusting her silver gloves off on her skirt, she admired her handiwork before heading back out of the square.

"Now I guess we're just going to have to sit around and wait for a moron to fall into out laps", a voice echoed from a narrow space between two stone arches. From the dark slinked an enormous black feline. The bone plates along his back and brow reflected a greasy shine in the sunlight. He brought with him the powerful and unmistakable smell of licorice. Madeira rolled her eyes.

"Not a moron, Spooks, a contractor. And don't even pretend you're going to wait with me. You know, if the Keiss catch you killing their doves, they'll rip you apart."

"They will not. They practically worship cats."

"You are not a cat."

The two lapsed into silence as they passed from the busy in-and-out of the Dovcote and fountain to the bar and restraunt district. This time of morning the only ones out were shop clerks looking to fill up before a long day of commerce.

"Remind me again why we need a Sunberthian?"

"Aunt Madara said there are Cravens buried in Sunberth. I want to know why."

"Okay, but... why? Why do we care?"

Madeira understood why Spooks had a hard time understanding. For one thing, he was a completely unique creature that owed his life more to magical misuse than family blood. But Madeira Craven had a pedigree that could be traced back five centuries to the most powerful Spiritist to ever exist. Every drop of Craven blood was accounted for in the Scibe's ledgers. Family was everything to the Cravens. Her education, her traditions, her stories and even her gods flowed backwards to that one point.

And to think that there was a part of her family that was missing from that long, unbroken line? Gnerations of Cravens in some crumbling tomb somewhere that she had never even heard of? It was... wrong, somehow. Something was missing. There was a story here she had never been told.

"It's important to me, Spooks. I need to know."

"We cant just... ask Madara to elaborate?"

"Would you?"

Spooks snorted and looked away, but Madeira knew he was just as terrified of her aunt as she was.

The smell of spiced meat, coffee and crushed mint reached them before the twinkling lights of the Light Up the Night bar. As they approached Madeira could see it was as quiet as she expected this time of day. She would pass the time with correspondence and her little carving projects while she waited for a response to her ad. She glanced down at the creature at her knee.

"I'll whistle if I need you. Stay out of trouble."

With a laugh Spooks disappeared in a puff of licorice-scented mist. Madeira shook her head and continued inside, ready to wait for the one who would help her find the missing pieces.
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Honest Work

Postby Alric Lysane on November 9th, 2021, 1:57 pm



Alric had elected to wander for a time, not really using the map he had been given as he preferred to create his own map in his head. You could lose a paper map but if you lost your head…well you had more important things to worry about. Or not worry depending upon what you believed he supposed. It was much the same with Sunberth – no map could really capture what existed in reality. You could get the large streets and main locations but the side alleys, warrens, smaller alcoves and shops we lost to the parchment. In your head they could last as long as you did.

His meanderings had taken him a few places so far, from eating establishments to a library he had resolved to investigate at some point in the future. Now he had found himself coming across a large group of people around a fountain, chatting and occasionally getting a drink. Alric’s tongue felt parched himself so he took a few moments to hold out cupped hands, sniff the water to some laughs and then drink as deeply as he could. The cold water was almost a shock in the heat of the Outpost and he took the opportunity to cool himself be splashing water over his face and the back of the neck.

“Much better” he sighed with relief, raking his hair back and now taking the opportunity to take in the place closer.

There was some kind of board with pieces of parchment pinned all over it.

Curious to see what was so important the whole world had to know he approached and looked them over at random. Most seemed to be notes for others by name, lists of items required and payment to be given for them. Some were poems even as far as he could tell. A lot of them he didn’t understand as they were written in language he had no clue of. The ones that were in common made up a good portion though and he had a merry time reading through them. He came across one that jumped out eventually, at just below nose height in the very middle, and paused longer now.

“Unconventional archaeology,” he muttered to himself with amusement, “that was one way of saying it. Hmmm…Sunberthian…what would an outsider want from Sunberth I wonder?”

He stayed there for quite some time, pondering the wording of the note and trying to figure out whether it was serious or whether there was something behind the note that he couldn’t see. Caution now replaced amusement as he wasn’t the only Sunberthian to know that when it came to some tasks, wrath could easily follow, or back luck. The last on their list was one of them but the first two he could do well enough. He wasn’t sure if he was possessed of spiritual fortitude but he was pretty sure he was sound of body and mind – he had all of his limbs and he hadn’t gone mad quite yet. At least not by Sunberthian standards.

He pulled the note from the board and took it with him, asking as he walked away where the Light Up the Night was and through various jabbing of fingers and thumbs managed to navigate his was there easily enough. He arrived and found a place that he was definitely not used to, rich and grand and all of those other words that he had never experienced himself. It made him wonder as he looked around, quite out of place but still walking with the confidence of a street rat of Sunberth – he had survived worse places, as far as he knew.

Are they from a rich stock then this note placer? Or are they seeing if they can intimidate a mere mercenary…or tempt? We know the old gilt trick well, Tall Johnny loves it as one of his favourites he smiled slightly as he looked for somewhere to ask for this Dusk.

His eyes fell upon a counter with a server and he approached. They looked him up and down with a quite dissatisfied look as he came near. They took one look at him and the note in his hand – he had barely finished asking for Dusk before they gestured their chin towards a table and he turned to see quite the fascinating creature indeed. White lace overflowing and silver gloves, covered with jewellery he was fairly certain could buy a good chunk of his city of birth. He wondered idly if he could just grab those and run for it, he might make it perhaps…perhaps not. No, if he knew something for certain it was that small women with ostentatiously displayed wealth either had guards nearby or didn’t need them.

He wondered which one it was this time as he approached.

“Dusk?” he asked, trying for a smile, “you dress to be the opposite of your name…if that is your name of course. I hear you have something in Sunberth that you’d like looking into. I’m not sure I’m sound of mind, never been tested for it, but I’m pretty sure I can ferret things out for a price. Mind if I sit?” he asked, trying for some humour to see how far that got him.

He was shabbily dressed compared to her with his repaired cloak and rough and ready clothing, but he was fairly sure she wasn’t looking for a noble for a graveyard job. He assumed that was what it was going to be from the note – not his finest hour in terms of employment but miza was miza. He raked his hair back with his fingers, aware quite clearly how close he was to a different breed of human now that he was closer. It wasn’t just lace it was lace. If he saved up his entire life he likely couldn’t afford her silver gloves and as for the jewels, perhaps a bit too many there were by fashion standards but the glitter of the smallest exceeded his life’s worth.

This was a woman he felt would not mind if he vanished forever beyond the fact that he would not be able to bring her whatever it was she wanted, and he suddenly felt quite small indeed.



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Honest Work

Postby Madeira Dusk on November 11th, 2021, 3:54 am

Dear Uncle Rune,

Please know that my wife, my children, and I are doing well.


Madeira paused with her inkstick hoovering above the letter, until a drop of black dripped from the nub to blot out the curled I. As she waited for someone to respond to the ad she had begun three letters to the remaining members of her family she could still trust to help her. Her uncle Frode, who was mad even by mage standards but was apparently quite the prodigy back in his day; her cousin Einar, who would even admit to liking her when his brother wasn't around; and now Rune, who, if nothing else, knew her sins but remained the impartial keeper regardless.

She had been at it for bells, yet the woman who always knew the right thing to say was struggling to move past the insipid niceties to what really mattered. A lot had happened since she'd spoken to them last: Cheva and her impossible task to save her marriage, her last child leaving home for a dangerous quest, her dissolving of the Craven alliance so she could start her church...

But what if she wasn't the only one keeping secrets?

She was completely lost in thought. But at the sound of her name, Madeira raised her head.

There was nothing overtly noticeable about the man in front of her. She noted his simple, serviceable clothes and the handsome face in bad need of a razor. In any other context she would have looked right through him. But as she swept him over with a practiced eye, she saw the natural confidence in the way he was standing without menacing her. Charisma oozed from him even as he opened a conversation with a stranger that must be wildly removed from his way of life.

Interesting. This man was a lot more than the ruffian he looked like. Folding her unfinished letter neatly away, Madeira stood.

"I dress to be seen. Besides, attention is quite the deterrent for a thief. Not that you would know anything about that, right?" There was a spark of mirth in her eye as she offered him her hand. "Madeira Dusk. It's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."

On her proffered right hand was a number of ugly rings, ranging from cheap bone to flawless diamond, but on her index finger was a unique brass ring shaped to look like a pair of hands playing cats cradle. It was a useful trinket. It would tell her all his affiliations, from gangs to religions to businesses to families, but only if he touched her hand.

There was a pause with which she left room for the man to give his name (or a pseudonym. Paranoia was a healthy reaction in situations like this) before waving for him to sit.

"To be clear, you're from Sunberth, are you? I don't know many from the area. I can't pick apart the accent." She knew stories of Sunberth from Alice, of course. She had never lived there but had spent much of her death wandering its streets. It had coloured the ghost in many ways - like the way she rather startlingly jumped to threats and violence when option A didn't pan out. Or if it is option A. Or if option A is particularly boring. From what she gathered Sunberth is lawless and brutal, and doesn't have nearly enough Spiritists.

"I'm glad you responded. I do indeed need a ferret", she joked. A ferret motivated by gold was even better. Gold at least was easy. From her last disastrous hire, she had learned that gold was an excellent way to keep men motivated, just not for long. She clicked her tongue off her teeth as she considered how to best explain what she needed. "See, I come from a very old family. The kind that breeds stories. From what I understood they started and ended in Alvadas, as much a part of the city as Ionu itself. But just recently I've learned that whole generations may be buried in the crypts of Sunberth."

She spread her hands, the closest her ridged posture ever got to a shrug. "The record keeper is one of the highest, most revered positions in the family. Nothing happens without it being written down. So the fact that I don't know who these ancestors are is... Alarming. I want to know more. I want to know who they were, how they died, and why they are such a secret that an entire branch from our tree vanished as if it never existed."

She let that linger for a moment. If this man was as untethered as Spooks he would not understand. But she hoped he could feel that connection to those that came before, too. Not knowing was eating away at her.

"If you're interested you'll be paid, of course. Given the scope of the request and the legwork involved, five hundred mizas is reasonable", she put the offer down in a tone that did not open itself up to negotiation. "And if you bring me back something worthwhile I'll double it. A thousand mizas for a piece of my oldest relative. As much as you can safely carry." She smiled beguilingly, her youth showing through the easy curve of her painted lips. "I'd like to bury at least one of them with their own kind."

Shockingly, she did actually plan to bury her relative again. There was newly broken soil on the grounds of her Church of Lost Souls waiting for just that purpose. And if the body had been converted to a fetish by the budding maledictor before going back into the ground, so what? Her ancestor should be proud that their corpse would be put to such powerful use.

"My maiden name is Madeira Craven. I want you to find out what happened to the Cravens buried in Sunberth."
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Madeira Dusk
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Honest Work

Postby Alric Lysane on November 11th, 2021, 7:17 am



“Oh I’d never be found cutting purses, especially in such a nice establishment…with so many fancy guards walking around the place between me and the doorway out,” he said, detecting her faint mirth and hopeful this meant things would go smoothly, “and you dress richly, and gracefully” he closed with the compliment.

When she offered her hand he eyed it with both curiosity and caution, he felt sure it was a simple offer of greeting but one never could be too careful when it came to strangers, not least outsiders. The rings were a mixture of opulence and gaudiness, perhaps heirlooms or sentimental value, though one was an original pattern – cats. His own hand hovered briefly, then not wishing to be rude he took her hand and shook. He idly wondered if she might miss the little finger ring and whether he would get away with slipping it off and pocketing it…but let it go with sadness.

“Pleasure to meet you too Madeira Dusk, my name is Alric. Alric Lysane” he matched her in the use of his full name, it seemed polite and a good impression was essential when meeting a potential employer.

His eyes scanned the table and had noted the paperwork and ink, she had been writing something. A letter perhaps, or making notes for her project – whatever it was. Clearly she had something on the go or she wouldn’t need him to be there. Certainly it would be difficult to imagine their paths crossing in normal circumstances. He then took her in as he sat down, eyes meeting hers at the end and he would maintain eye contact on and off for their entire exchange. He could tell much by the eyes of others he had found.

Madeira had a posture that spoke of bearing and confidence, back straight and head angled just so. Glasses in front of pale eyes that were paler than his but could have been relations. Her skin was pale which he thought suggested that she perhaps did not get out much into the sunlight perhaps, certainly hers was not like the sun weathered vibrance of Tazrae – the other outsider woman he had met in this very Outpost. There seemed to be a…forlorn aura about her underneath the politeness and the opulence. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it, but her eyes seemed more severe than her appearance would suggest.

“I am from Sunberth yes, unless the dovecote decides to kick me out somewhere else”

He listened to her after confirming her question, he saw no need to go beyond the simplicities for now. She painted a pretty picture of a puzzle that seemed to be a concern of a fashion. He wasn’t sure why it would be seen as such, it sounded interesting and fun to him. He liked finding things that were strange and then following them to their conclusions. Of course, those conclusions often got him injured, dirty and only marginally better off than before in monetary terms but it made his grim Sunberthian life more interesting and fun.

He did understand her desire to know what exactly had happened though, he held the same drive to find out how and where his parents had vanished. It wasn’t quite the same as Madeira’s motivation he felt, his was more personal and directly emotional whereas hers sounded to him more like family honour or curiosity. He had no reason to judge her though and in truth he wasn’t in the position to even if he had wanted.

Perhaps wealth doesn’t remove us so much from one another as I thought he mused to himself as he let her finish speaking. He almost choked at the miza offered but very carefully did not do so, instead he felt one eyebrow raise involuntarily before he brought it back down.

“Craven you say? So Dusk is…a married name then? Craven…Craven,” he muttered the name softly, “I’ve heard that before…a long time ago. Interesting” he smiled at himself and concluded that this was something he’d like to pursue, and not just for the gold.

He took a few moments to take all of it in and then breathed deeply before responding, tilting his head sideways slightly as he met her eyes, wondering how best to phrase things and whether she would tolerate a dusty street ruffian to question. He sighed and decided to do so anyway, it might help in ways he didn’t yet know.

“You say that nothing happens without them writing it down but…it seems as if it does. Is there perhaps a reason for that ignorance? I mean, it could be that they did something terrible and I could be walking into this mire. Any dangers to be aware of? I mean are the Craven known for leaving traps and the like?”
He paused for a few moments to allow her to answer if she chose before moving on to the next questions.

“How did you learn of their existence if you don’t mind me asking? Are you sure of the information? I mean you can pay me for confirming it was made up, but it’d be less interesting for me” he grinned, “any leads at all?” he asked, not particularly hopeful given how she had described the situation but still it was worth asking in his experience, memory was not a flawless thing and sometimes things were remembered.

Again he paused in thought to allow her to respond.

“If I’m going to be digging up graves though then that means dealing with the dead in a more dangerous way. I’ll do it for the gold but I’m not impervious to ghosts so…well we’ll get the information first and see what can be done from there”

In that he was putting on a brave face and that would probably be apparent for her astute observation. He didn’t like the idea of dicing with the dead at all, his skin prickled at the very idea of it. He was accustomed to leaving the abnormal be and getting on with the more normal activities of Sunberthian life like stealing and gambling. Still it was enough gold to pay for his living for many seasons and would definitely help him in his quest to drag himself up from near the bottom of the heap to around the middle perhaps. He held the hope that he’d not have to deal with the worst of the troubles he could foresee already cropping up but in truth the mystery of the missing family called to him.

“Tell me about the Cravens, I assume that they are a rich family from the way you are dressed. And an old one of course, they seem to go hand in hand. But are there particular habits or jobs Cravens like to do? Any shared family creed they might have been involved in, or are you as varied as the crowd?” he asked carefully, not expecting much but every little helped.

He leaned back in his seat and pondered the situation, wondering already how it was best to proceed.

“I’ll do it,” he confirmed, “but I’m not sure how long it’ll take. Either way I can be back here on the last day of the season to give an update. I assume you don’t care about methods so I’ll go with no rules on that one unless you’d like to give any?”




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Alric Lysane
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