Journal Posts

Tag: downtime

Rooftop Chat - Magic Theory
Maeve propped her feet on the rail that surrounded the rooftop terrace and let the cool breeze from the river flutter her shift to the tops of her thighs. The unseasonably oppressive heat of early spring made her room so stifling that she could not sleep so she had ventured to the terrace to cool down and brought the third volume of Boriccaci's Walking Tour of the Planes to bore herself sufficiently to be able to finally fall asleep. The concept of the planes and their juxtaposition relating to the prime material interested her significantly, but the Boriccaci's writing style was better than anything short of a sleep spell to induce slumber. She had decided early in the first volume of his work that he would have made a terrible bard.

She laid the candle she had brought with her on the planter of herbs next to her bench since there was ample light spilling from Namen's lab onto the terrace for her to read by if she slouched down in her seat so she did not block the illumination. At least she would not have to fight bugs for now and she could hum up some illumination should Namen douse the lights before she was ready to return downstairs. Maeve took a sip of the tea she had spell-chilled before padding up the spiral staircase to the terrace and found her place in Boriccaci's tome.
Namen blinked several times and leaned back from his work. His head swam a bit and he had to rest his hand on the table to keep from falling from the tall stool on which he perched. He did not know if it was the fumes from his work, the late hour, or the heat that had made him light headed but he thought it best if he went outside for some fresh air. As an afterthought he turned the iron crank fastened to one of the columns that supported the glass-paneled roof of the lab to open the ornate, leaded panes and release some of the putrescent smoke that lingered in the rafters.

He wondered idly how a flower so fair when in bloom could be so noxious when dried and burned - but the component was unrivaled in the potency it lent to arcane works so he would endure the stench with a certain smug satisfaction that his elfish counterparts, who knew of the benefits of Gerro's Lament blooms as an incense but did not have the constitutional fortitude to utilize it in their own endeavors, were masters only in their own minds. And joy of joys he would deal with them again on the morrow when he took Maeve back to Leulëleocë. He hooked his index finger through the handle of his stein and wandered into the dark of the terrace to relax before retiring.
Maeve frowned. Boriccaci was making leaps of logic that were not supported in any other source she had read. As she continued her reading she became more convinced that the author had never set foot off of the prime material though how she was certain she could not put her finger on. Now it would bother her and make it even less likely that she would slip into the soft folds of sleep any time in the near hours. She flipped the weight of her hair over the back of her bench to let the air get to her skin and shuddered a little chill that raised slight gooseflesh on her arms which vanished as quickly as it appeared. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back allowing her mind to wander the library of her memory for the source of her dissatisfaction with Boriccaci's conclusions.

The 'library' was a mnemonic exercise that Maestro Algarlegair taught to those students he thought might actually be able to remember more than their own names for better than a fortnight, which, Maeve mused, were decidedly few given his un-admitted racial bias against anyone not an elf. A slight smile pricked at the corner of her mouth as she passed the memory gallery of her mentor's various eye rolls, eyebrow quirks, and nostril flares, each neatly labeled with the subtle difference in sentiment it represented, that had been the first of her many mental catalogues. She had threatened to add ear twitches when she discussed the exercise with him, to which the Maestro had coolly replied that he was not a cat. But he had smiled which was rare currency at the Academé so she took it as a victory. No, what she was looking for was in the deep stacks, the cool and dusty corners of memory constructed out of curled vellum, cracked parchment, and wan candlelight. Odd how she still felt the thrill of sneaking into those restricted areas of the Academé library even when she was simply searching out the fruit of her youthful forays within the confines of her own mind. It made her smile.
Namen stopped short just outside of the doorway and tilted his head to the side. He first thought that Camilla must have moved past him onto the terrace while he worked but that thought was soon dismissed as he realized that his maid's legs were not as long, shapely, or porcelain white as those that stretched from bench to railing in that golden smile of light shining into the night. The cascade of auburn curls, stirred by errant breezes coming from the river, identified the legs' owner as Maeve, obviously, but Namen could not reconcile the memory of knobby knees and stick-thin calves he remembered with the delightfully curvaceous vision he now enjoyed. He stepped quietly to the side to get a better view of the girl ('ahem, woman,' some part of his mind corrected primly) lounging on his terrace.

She had a book lying in her lap, closed over one finger, which was the only thing that kept him from verifying she was a true redhead as the angle of her legs and breeze from the river had lifted the thin chemise she wore to the very tops of her very lovely thighs. Even clad in a chemise without the benefit of corsetry, boning, and laces, her bust was something to be frankly appreciated. The golden light of the lab and the silver of moonlight were at war over that mountainous terrain with the chemise acting as the fog of war. He very much appreciated the skill of the craftsman that had fashioned the garment; it was a gauzy silk that clung very nicely so as to suggest but not brazenly display the treasures it concealed. Namen breathed an appreciative whistle into his wine and watched the captain of his retrieval team smile in her sleep realizing Auntie Mo would beat him senseless with her heaviest spoon if she knew what he was thinking.
"Y'know," Maeve said softly without opening her eyes, "Last time anyone stared at me that long they had a sketchbook and I got paid a silver fer the privilege." She was accustomed to being ogled though this was the first time she had ever noticed Namen making eyes at her. She found herself oddly flattered instead of typically annoyed.

Namen blinked, startled, "What's the rate to do more than stare?" he blurted before thinking. Alarms sounded in his head as his better sense reminded him that there were two Arals downstairs that would feed him his liver if he laid a single finger on the girl, 'correction, woman', before him. But it was too late; he'd said it out loud. Being distracted had left him with his guard lowered and his natural predilection for flirting had taken over.

The bard cracked one eye open and squinted up at him as she chuckled, "I'd like have t'give refund fer ignorance and practicin' without a license."

"Ignorance can be remedied," Namen decided to test the proverbial waters - what the hell, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Maeve arched a brow, "Aye, I suppose ye have the right of it; but not in this heat," she shrugged and patted the bench with her free hand. "The breeze is free though, have a sit."

She didn't say "no", Namen thought to himself as he sat down. "So, what are you reading?" he asked, because I have to get on safer conversational ground, he added to himself.

"Boriccaci's fabricated guesswork," she held the book up so the gold-leafed title caught the light spilling out of the lab, "He's full of shite."

Genuine redhead, he thought as he 'examined' the book. "What makes you say that?" She was right, of course, but he hadn't realized that the Academé taught extensive planar theory and he knew that her coursework at the College would not have covered this advanced topic. He was somewhat surprised that what he really wanted was for her to put the book down again because he was becoming very distracted, and he did not like being distracted.

"Well, that's what I was thinkin' on when you came out and started oglin' me," she flashed a smile, "And so far, I've come t'the conclusion that he's never read anythin' ever written by the priests of Neguma or Manib - y'know, the blokes what've actually travelled t'other planes. His notion that the positive and negative are perpendicular is laughable t'say the least,” she pointed with the corner of the book to illustrate her point as she spoke, "and I'll nae even start t'describe how separatin' the Nine Hells from the Abyss, Gehenna, and Hades makes as much sense as wearin' yer hat on yer arse."

Put the book down. Please. "I'm impressed. I didn't think the Acadamé delved so deeply into planar juxtapositioning," Namen smiled.

"It nae does." She laid the book back in her lap and reached for her drink.

"Then where did you learn about the planes? Certainly not in your whirlwind tour of the College's offerings," Namen breathed a silent sigh of relief that the book was again safely nestled.

"Readin' fer ammunition," she smiled over the top of her goblet, "arguin' with a seven-hundred-and-eleven year-old elf tends t'make one study up on a host of subjects nae in the standard curriculum."

"Ah, the good Maestro Algarlegair," Namen nodded, "I don't know the fellow well enough to speak on the matter without my general prejudice against the elfish temperament influencing my opinion more than truth, but that being said, he strikes me as typically fae-centric in his opinions of others." He shrugged half-apologetically and frowned slightly as he realized his stein was empty.

Maeve chuckled, "True enough." She tilted her head in thought, "Come t'think on't,' she moved the book to the planter's lip then stood up and took his stein and her own goblet before padding toward the lab, "I've always started with books before practice."

He turned and watched her go, appreciating the silhouette. If I find out who that tailor was I'm going to tip him a year's wages. "Well, books are a fine start, but to really appreciate and become an expert on any given subject practice is required."
Maeve took a deep breath as soon as she was inside the lab, "What in the name of Sorcha's glowin' bloomers are ye doin'? He's nae some tavern sot t'be flirtin' with!" she muttered to herself as she scanned the lab for something suitable to drink. "Cliff-divin' again, looks like," she answered herself and grabbed a bottle of wine from the rack next to Namen's work table after checking her reflection in the scrying mirror to make certain she was not showing more than she intended, "and it's becomin' a habit."
The bard paused in the doorway on her return, wine bottle resting on one canted hip, "Oh aye, I'm nae disputin' that assertion." Namen could not see the expression on her face with the light behind her but her voice held a certain subtle tone that set the alarms in his head ringing again, "Though I'm certain I've nae any less desire t'enter an endeavor uneducated than you do; 'tis the curse of the cultured." She shrugged and returned to the bench, "but if I was t'engage in serious intercourse on any subject, real, theoretical, or metaphorical, I'd be damnable certain t'have studied more than one author's opinions on the matter."

Namen took pleasure in the fact that she had not bothered to tie the laces of her chemise, "certainly a fair view." She caught him looking though made no comment. Crafty girl, she knows what she's doing. He reached for his stein but she shooed his hand away and began humming. He watched her weave the simple pattern of her chilling cantrip on the wine bottle and enjoyed the subtle difference in her casting as compared to his. "It's all about subtlety, isn't it?"

Maeve's left eyebrow twisted into a brief question mark as she concentrated on pouring the wine, "Generally, aye, the dirt's in the details as the sayin' goes."

Namen nodded his thanks as she handed him his drink, "And we all take our pleasure in dirty details, don't we?"

"Those that's smart enough t'notice do," she poured the remainder of the wine into her own glass and raised it, "Life's a jest and all things show it, I thought so once and now I know it!"

Namen chuckled, "...'a jest'... like convincing a College full of mages that you've figured out evocation."

The young woman blinked over the rim of her glass, "Whate'er do ye mean, Master Roodle?"

"Your spell. It's transmutation. Oh granted, it runs right up to the line of evocation and threatens to jump over, but it's still transmutation," he shook his head, "It's a brilliant forgery, and I am impressed, but it isn't evocation."

"The College seems convinced it is, even still," Maeve tucked one leg under her and smoothed her shift over her knee in one deft motion. "Not that I'm disagreein' with ye. I might even go so far as t'agree though I cannae say why." She tapped her index finger against the side of her glass as she continued her thought, "Ye've got t'admit that even the College's own instruction is contradictory t'say the very least. I spent better than a week researchin' said material and even designed my 'forgery' based on that information," the stone seat of the bench was already digging into her ankle so she shifted and stretched her legs to the rail again angled so she was mostly facing her companion, "coupled with my own intimate knowledge of exactly what bards are capable of naturally; yet I cannae oppose ye with any honest conviction. So's here's an invitation ye'll likely ne'er get again," she smiled knowingly, "explain it t'yer satisfaction and I'll nae argue." She tilted her head to one side and rested it against the back of the bench, giving Namen ample opportunity to speak.

Namen was surprised that his heart began racing at the thought of what 'invitation' Maeve may be proposing, disappointed that it was not a solicitation to less cerebral activity, and disconcerted at his disappointment that it was an innocent request; he was not typically one to allow his immediate physical interests to addle him - in fact he took great pains to avoid such distractions by employing a ready partner. Now is not the time to think about this - I will examine this later when I am less distracted, he admonished himself.

He paused for a few breaths to organize his thoughts before he began, "Well, transmutation, traditionally, is the manipulation of the properties of some person, object, or 'thing'. True evocation is the creation of an effect or something where none existed previously - say a very large ball of flame or a lightning bolt." Namen subdued the urge to stand up and pace as was his habit when he lectured, "Part of the very tricky nature of understanding the line between transmutation and evocation is that energy, that effect most readily thought of when evocation is considered, can be a thing." Maeve nodded her understanding so Namen continued, "Take for example fireball versus light; bat guano is not fire though it has some elements that certainly enhance fire, therefore it is the focus component of the spell - the true evocation spell. Light, conversely, though long classified as an evocation spell requires phosphorous moss or a lightning bug which themselves emit light. Thus light is properly categorized as a transmutation spell because the inherent light in the components, however dim, is amplified by the spell's energy."

Maeve chuckled, "I'm with ye so far, but what about those of us who've nae any need t'carry bat shite and bug butts in our pockets?"

"That, my dear Maeve, is where you are truly exceptional; your ability to hold a rigid enough matrix in your mind to bend the power of magic to your will is... well it is a knack, a 'talent' that few possess." Namen smiled, "By eschewing the material components others require you move outside of the rules and operate in the more instinctual, primal state of magic from whence evocation comes. Simply put, nearly every spell you cast looks like evocation to the under-educated or untrained eye because you just do it - without daily memorization, without components, seemingly without effort. You are very much like a natural caster in that the bulk of your casting is so much more primal."

"A 'natural caster'," Maeve laughed and wiggled her fingers, "Och! Lookit me, I'm a warlock!"

Namen covered his face with his hand and shook his head, "I said 'primal' not 'eldritch' you ninny." Another tidbit she certainly didn't get from one of Durben's lectures, he thought. He was impressed that her knowledge of magic included the casters of myth and history though he said nothing. If the College knew the depth of her knowledge before they agreed to train her, we'd both be dead.

"'Twas a joke, professor, pray continue with your explanation," she smiled. "I believe you were about t'expound on the subject of 'natural casters'."

"Interesting word choice; 'pray'; in the two major classifications of magic, divine and arcane, divine casters gain spells through an agency whereas arcane casters manipulate magic inherent in the world. Natural casters, rangers and druids specifically, pull their power from a primal force with which they are aligned therefore they are classified as 'divine' due to agency." Namen thought for a moment, "The various schools of arcane magic arc across both classifications as an attempt to categorize types of casting though spells from each have similar fundamentals in the incantations, gestures, and components but the categorization allows for more directed instruction and understanding."

Maeve narrowed her eyes, "So the vast majority of arcanists proper nae know shite from shinola and are just blindly following 'tradition'? That strains credibility even for someone trained in the stretchin' of truth."

Namen smiled, "Let's examine that assertion." He could resist pacing no longer and stood, "Why is the school of evocation so muddied in its definition? To appreciate the current tradition surrounding evocation one must understand that evocation at its very core is extremely powerful, tapping into raw, almost primal, magical energy. It has minimal mental matrix structure required; in essence it is just blasting away with raw magic."

"Which is what sorcerers purportedly do," Maeve picked up the thread of Namen's explanation quickly.

"Exactly what sorcerers are alleged to do - or the warlocks of legend," he smiled at the expression of shrewd understanding on the bard's face, "Scary stuff for the uninitiated because it all looks the same. So the obfuscation is a matter of politics."

“And by muddyin' the waters the arcanists are confoundin' the crown so as t'cover our collective arses… it's the bogeyman hidin' in plain sight," Maeve grinned.

"Precisely. It would be easy for the crown to outlaw a school of magic if it were narrowly defined. By 'muddying the waters' where evocation is concerned it prevents the uninitiated from prohibiting the fundamental school required for magical theory and instruction and instead vilify a subset of casters," Namen concluded.

Maeve chuckled, "So what yer sayin' is that I should nae take the Inquisition as the best and brightest of the arcanist community?"

Namen looked aghast, "Gods no! Never! They can't be too smart, we let them talk to the Crown."

"And if they nae know the difference they cannae give it away," she smiled appreciatively, "Ostasio would love it!"

It was Namen's turn to smile slyly, "Well, any institution that's been around for any length of time is bound to have a few deep, dark secrets that could ruin it if the truth were generally known, wouldn't you say?"

The bard tilted her head back and laughed, "Oh aye, any Institution worth its salt that is. But gods forbid ye tell them that! A joke's never as funny if ye have t'explain it!"
Session: You aren't from around here... - Saturday, Jul 06 2013 from 6:00 PM to 4:00 AM
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Epic!
Letter home
Dearest Family and Friends,

I can honestly say that I never expected to be corresponding from another institution of higher learning again in my lifetime, let alone so recently after having escaped the stony embrace of one such edifice but, here I am, there you are, and so I write to assure you that I've nae been locked away or conveniently done away with regardless of the remarkable lack of proper appreciation of humor to be found amongst the faculty of said institution. I believe factors working in my favor include the fact that I am, quite literally, the only Aral in Ulante, one of only a handful of contori, and have had dinner with the Chancellor twice. By the by, Namen, thank you for the tip that he's a cognac man - right useful piece of information that! To the rest of you lot, whatever stories our illustrious employer has regaled you with regarding the sheer arse-headedness of the College were, in point of fact, greatly understated.

So, courses - ha! There's the first headache the poor bastards got courtesy of me having already passed the competence exam - but regardless of said fact they were still going to make me sit through the basic 'how to read arcane scribble' course... until I pointed out that if any poor sod tried to cast what was written on the board they'd more likely conjure a lovely mince pie rather than a light spell; correcting the instructor is a fast ship to the next level it would seem. Matrixes of Magic went much the same way - suggesting to the class that one needn't sully one's pockets with bat shite and bug guts is another fast ship forward. It took about two weeks of helpful suggestions to get my point across so now I'm taking all four levels of History of the Arcane, Basics of Transmutation (I give that another week until I'm shipped out), Responsibility for the Future, and some fantastic bit of tripe called Appeasement which is nae more than an advanced course of 'How to Kiss Crowned Arse' - Ostasio would have a spitting fit if he sat in for even half a turn of the glass! Once I get a pass on Transmutation I'll audit the Familiars course - at least that one sounds interesting.

In addition to course work there are, of course, the wonderfully menial tasks that in any other situation would amount to slave labor by which I mean wandering around in the tit-numbing cold and looking for black mold to set on fire... really, Namen, you could make a mint selling effluvia filters to the College and save future generations from frostbite in the process! By the by, I can set things on fire now, however suggesting to impressionable young arcanists that it would look funny if they cast burning hands bent over so it looked like it was coming from their respective arses is a good way to finish an entire section of campus by one's self, not that I'd know from personal experience or anything like that, mind you.

The food is bad, the weather horrible, and the social grace of the majority of students is worse. I've taken to providing impromptu culture lessons at dinner for any who are interested so at least a few of these poor blokes might not embarrass themselves if they ever meet anyone of higher station than a swineherd - which practice has inadvertently put me in the good graces of Lector Dur.

Time is running short if I want to get this posted today so I'll bid you all good health for now – should Namen be heading this way I'd nae object to left-overs if he could fit them in his pack.

All my love and the better portion of my sanity,
Maeve
Session: ...and miles to go before I sleep. - Saturday, Mar 02 2013 from 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM
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Tags: Downtime , Level Up
Epic × 2!
The motive true and earnest side...
Maeve tossed herself carelessly into one of the wing-backed chairs and slouched until her elbows rested comfortably on the arms of the chair then stretched her legs toward the fireplace. She was weary; not simply the fatigue caused by too many days on the road but exhausted to the very depths of her being. She could not put her finger on any one incident or issue that vexed her and she thought that might be part of the problem; she had made one too many dives and she was becoming afraid of the rocks below. She sighed heavily and laced her fingers across her stomach staring at the flames dancing on the hearth as she assembled her thoughts.

“Would you care for some wine?” her host queried politely.

“If it pleases you,” she replied without looking away from the fire.

Maestro Algarlegair inclined his head slightly and poured two glasses – an elven vintage seldom appreciated in Salpia which must be served just above room temperature to be properly appreciated – from a crystal decanter on the mantle. He regarded his former student with the concern one might show for a favored pet which has inexplicably developed a cough. He had never known the girl to be as completely still as she was now; there was always some movement about her, a sort of restless vitality that was simultaneously aggravating and... endearing. She had also spoken to no one but him and in no language other than Laerwelin since arriving at the Academé earlier in the afternoon which was exceedingly out of character for her.

He placed one of the glasses on the table beside his guest then sat in the chair facing hers. He watched the flames through his wine and waited for Maeve to speak. In the few instances during her career as a student when the girl had sought his counsel she had always come directly, if not bluntly, to the point in an immediate rush of words that crashed on him like a wave. When she remained silent for more than half a turn of the glass his concern urged him to break the silence.

“Contora Lachlan,” he began, “As much as I enjoy your company, and you mine no doubt, I am certain that you did not visit me this evening to stare at my fireplace and ignore my wine.”

The woman blinked and glanced at the glass beside her before looking her mentor directly in the eye, “My sincerest apologies, Maestro Algarlegair.” She pushed herself to a more upright position in her chair and continued, “I was endeavoring to assemble my thoughts into something approaching coherence but it would seem that to adequately explain my presence in front of your lovely fire I needs must request your patience in enduring some few details of my travels since last we met.”

The Maestro quirked a brow, “I must admit that I am intrigued despite my nature. Please, continue.”

Maeve bowed her head slightly in thanks, “Your indulgence is much appreciated.” She thought for a moment, “When last we spoke I had just quitted the College and the scrutiny of the Inquisition brought about by my involvement in the execution of a sorcerer, if I correctly remember.”

The Maestro nodded, “Such is my recollection as well.”

“Then we are in agreement,” she took a sip of her wine and frowned, “I have let it cool, my apologies.”She placed her glass on the hearth so it might warm before continuing, “My companions and I resumed our contracted task of gathering components for Master Roodle by travelling toward Aral and, more specifically, the Ageless Wood.”

The hint of an amused smile floated across the elf’s visage like the ripple of a leaf on still water, “An ambitious undertaking.”

Maeve nodded, “That is a truth. As an aside I might humbly suggest that the bestiary curriculum as regards green dragons should be adjusted as the current offering does not, given my recent experience, adequately convey precisely how vindictive the aforementioned creatures are.” She was silent for a moment before continuing, “I mention this only because the collateral damage a green dragon is willing to inflict to vanquish a foe was woefully understated when I completed the coursework given that to exact the ultimate revenge upon my cousin a young green drake caused twenty-five other souls to be released from the mortal coil.”

“My condolences for your loss,”the Maestro felt a glimmer of understanding kindle as to the woman’s current demeanor.

“I thank you for your kindness though I fear you may give your condolences too lightly.” She picked up her glass and took an experimental sip, “Much better.” She leaned back in her chair and continued, “We hired another Aral, a tactician this time, and made our way to the Ageless Wood where we were met by one of the Ancients.”

Maeve carefully placed her glass on the table next to her and retrieved something from her pack. “I was tasked with delivering this to you ‘a gift from the Ancients of the Ageless Wood’ I was instructed to say, and convey her pleasure at your ability as an instructor and guardian.”She explained further as her mentor carefully unwrapped the bundle, “You will have to sing to it every day until you plant it or it will wither and die, though it should do well with your orchids.” Algarlegair stared at the plant and Maeve spoke further to cover his shocked silence, “It is a Neregos Nuissil seedling and it is one of three I was charged with delivering. My apologies that yours is the last delivered – though I have played and sung to it every day since we left the Ageless Wood so it is in fine health and should take root quickly.”

“Yes, it should.” Algarlegair’s brows knitted as he stared at his pupil.

She leaned back, picking her glass up before resuming her tale, “The rest of our trek through Aral and across the harbor was essentially uneventful and as such we landed at Ulante in time to meet Master Roodle who was in need of our immediate assistance.”She sighed, “That assistance is directly responsible for my presence here, now.”She paused for a moment, “How many of the details of the Rayn Rebellion do you recall?”

Algarlegair smiled wryly, “Quite a few. Why?”

The young woman nodded and dropped her voice to a bare whisper, “We found the crypt of Scuttio Giavendzi. Well, we did not so much find it as did we neutralize the immediate threat therein and, with any luck, thwart the designs that would have seen Giavendzi return to the Prime Material in this time.” Maeve watched the smile melt from her mentor’s face.

“Giavendzi, are you absolutely certain?” His voice was cold. He remembered quite a bit more about the ‘rebellion’ than he had ever imparted to any student as he had been one of the Laerwen envoys to the crown at the time of the ‘rebellion’. Rayn’s lieutenant was the worst kind of racial purist and if he managed a return no elf of noble lineage would be safe.

She nodded, “Yes, absolutely certain. I am also certain that unless he had a contingency plan for ending his stasis he will remain wherever he is indefinitely; that is not my conundrum.” Maeve took a deep breath, “All of the glyphs and wards that were not scripted in magical text were written in ElderTongue... and to pass through the wards I had to read and speak said language in front of Namen.”

“Which should have posed no problem; your Elder was better than your Laerwelin at one point,” he found himself wishing she would get to her point.

She smiled ruefully, “The fact that I can read Elder without the aid of a spell is part of the problem, as well as the fact that I helped Namen move Giavendzi’s entire library to an undisclosed location. I have read, or rather skimmed if I am to be completely honest, some of those books and it is an amazing trove of knowledge on several levels – which no living mage can read because the journals are written in ElderTongue.”

Maeve became very still as she came to the crux of the matter, “Unfortunately, if the Inquisition discovers that the crypt or the books exist or should they ascertain that I have been there and can read said tomes without magical agency... it would not bode well for me or the AcademÉ. Our Institution houses histories that have been completely expunged in the totality of Salpia and even the slightest hint of their existence and continued teaching could bring the wrath of the Inquisition inside the very walls of our Academé. I will not let that happen.”

Algarlegair nodded, “We need to eliminate Roodle and bring the books here and put them in the deepest stacks then.”

Maeve shook her head, “I considered that; unfortunately I cannot access the books on my own. Namen is neither stupid nor careless, he has the books sequestered in a repository which can only be accessed by teleportation and for which only he knows the exact location.”She did not mention that the continued well-being of Namen and her kin was at the top of her list of concerns because she was certain the elf would not understand her sentimentality. She explained, “Namen has also spoken to the Chancellor of the College, no great fan of the Inquisition himself I can assure you, so it is not a matter of eliminating a single, relatively obscure conspirator unfortunately. What Master Roodle’s conversation with the Chancellor accomplished was to lay the ground work for what I am about to ask.”

The Maestro templed his fingers and leaned back in his chair, “I am listening.” Seeking permission was not one of the young woman’s greater attributes as she favored asking forgiveness after the deed was done as the means to remain unthwarted in her desires. That, more than her revelation, put him solidly en garde.

“I need to infiltrate the College, to become ‘one of them’ so their own traditions and codes protect me and by extension protect the Academé. If I complete the mandatory coursework they will per force have to recognize me as an arcanist proper at which point the Inquisition can do no more than inconvenience me. I have already passed their competence exam and the Chancellor is prepared to put his seal on even the thinnest suggestion that I become an official alumna.” Maeve rested her elbows on her knees and met her mentor’s hard gaze, “I have spent in excess of a month agonizing over this. I do not want to endure the mindless indoctrination that the Crown’s lap dogs disgorge at every opportunity but given the circumstances it is the only way I, or Namen – who knows their structure and traditions better than an outsider ever could – can think of to protect the Academé.”

Algarlegair nodded, thinking.

She leaned back in her chair again, “If you withhold your permission or if there is a reason of which I am not aware that would prohibit me from following this course of action... I will find another way to protect our Institution,”and lapsed back into silence.

After more than an hour had passed he asked, “What did you think of Giavendzi’s work?”

Maeve answered in a tone of genuine disgust, “It was an abomination, he was an abomination... anyone who willingly traffics with demons and is bent on genocide is better trapped between worlds until the sky falls,”she shook her head. “It was repulsive and part of me recoils at the prospect of reading his thoughts.”

The Maestro nodded, “Only part of you?”

Maeve sighed, brows drawing together, “My curiosity knows neither shame, nor propriety, nor bounds it would seem,”she did not look pleased with her admission.

Algarlegair smiled, “And that, Contora Minori Lachlan, is what makes you so dreadfully effective in your calling – you want to know everything and are not afraid to search for knowledge or commit yourself to the work that education requires, and though it often seems you charge forward regardless of consequence you seem to be willing to pay the price for your erudition. It is a rare quality.”He narrowed his eyes, “When you were here last you mentioned that there was no liaison between the College and the Academé; perhaps it is time that vacancy was filled.”

Maeve arched a brow, “Please continue.”

“If the Inquisition is going to make a habit of minutely examining bards in good standing with the Academé they will be wasting valuable time and resources that could be better directed elsewhere. Certainly consulting a liaison would be preferable to convening an Inquisitorial council needlessly... and as atonement for bringing all of this absurdity about who better to act as that liaison than you, Contora Lachlan,”the elf smiled matter-of-factly.

Maeve blinked as she followed the unspoken thread of her mentor’s logic, “It would certainly appear to be punishment from both sides.”

Maestro Algarlegair nodded, “Precisely.” He mused for a moment, “I believe that Ostasio will be able to make this Inquisitor fellow you mentioned in our last visit believe it was his idea to have you complete the coursework for accreditation as a ‘proper’ arcanist so you would not be as likely to burden any proceedings with ignorant questions that any ‘proper’ arcanist should know as a matter of course.”

“Contore Vettori? Are you certain?” her concern at the growing number of conspirators showed plainly on her visage.

The elf held up one slim-fingered hand, “He will have only the details I give him; enough to be convincing but not enough to be dangerous. When he succeeds the College will contact the Council, you will be summoned and commanded to comply with the Council and College’s decision which should strengthen the ruse.”

Maeve smiled appreciatively, “How much should I protest?”

“Enough to appear genuine but not so much as to arouse suspicion – remember, there will be professional critics in the room, and several members of the Council do not trust you any further than they can stretch their arms so do try to avoid overacting,” he admonished. “Go home, act surprised when summoned, acquiesce sullenly, and do not make your tutelage too easy on the College’s faculty – gods know you were enough of an aggravation as a student here I almost feel guilty at turning you loose on them,”the Maestro flashed a wicked smile, “almost.”
Session: ...and miles to go before I sleep. - Saturday, Mar 02 2013 from 10:00 PM to 3:00 AM
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Epic!
Aftermath
Maeve picked her way along the shallows of the swollen river as she scanned the choppy water for any sign of her cousin, her horse, or any other survivors of the ill-fated crossing. Twice she and her companions had waded into the murky water to haul nearly-drowned wretches the last twenty or so yards to dry land but there was no sign of Fearghus so far, not that she held much hope out for her kin’s survival.

Arcelli,” she shouted over the low roar of the river, “Any sign of ‘em?” The strider had climbed a spring-bare tree on one of the low hills near the water’s edge and was trying to use the vantage provided to catch glimpse of any survivors.

“Couple horses, maybe five men left in the water... hard to tell in all the mess out there,” the Salp replied before sliding back to the ground.

“Shite,” the troubadour mumbled under her breath. Her mood was darker and more turbulent than the water that swirled around her knees and she had no one at which to aim her anger.

Maeve,” the cleric said somberly, “I do not wish to be pessimistic, but I’m certain I saw him go unconscious and then underwater after the... the horse dissolved.”

She nodded, “Ye said as much already, Raylen, and I nae doubt ye. I suppose I was more commentin’ on the scarcity of survivors as much as anythin’ else.”

“We must do what we can for those still clinging to life,” the priest shrugged, “and take what lesson we can from the experience.”

She frowned and stopped, “Well that nae means I have t’like it!” An indignant snorting whinny cut short the rest of her retort and made her look toward a small stand of trees some twenty paces up shore where she saw Canuto standing half-hidden in the underbrush, sides heaving and legs shaking. “Well kiss my arse,” she grinned for the first time since boarding the ferry then jogged up the rise.

The warhorse was hurt, spots of its hide burned by the dragon’s caustic breath, and exhausted from its quarter mile swim in rough water. Maeve hummed softly as she walked slowly the last several yards toward Canuto as not to spook her mount. Whether the beast recognized her or was too tired to fight she did not know but he stood his ground and let her lay her hands on his quivering hide. “That’s a good fella there, I’ll make it right as I can in a trice,” she continued humming as she soothed the warhorse’s hurts with her magic. “Yer a proper Lachlan, are ye nae? Either too stubborn t’quit or part fish, eh? There’s double oats and a few days in a dry stable comin’ fella, on my oath.”

“Does that mean we’re not moving on immediately then?” Raylen tilted his head questioningly. He stood at the edge of the trees a safe distance from the warhorse and its rider.

“Aye, provided we’re nae run out with torch and tar,” she nodded. “I’m fair sure we could all use a proper rest after today and Namen will likely be contactin’ us fair soon.”

Raylen nodded, “Hm, good to know.” He walked back toward the water and Maeve followed, leading Canuto by the reins. “But why would we be run out?”

“That green would nae have attacked the ferry if it’d been carved right the first time,” Maeve said softly. “There’s many a broken family that might nae like us bein’ close by,” she shrugged.

“But we killed the dragon, that should count for something,” Raylen reasoned.

Maeve snorted softly, “Aral logic may nae take that int’account though I think ye have the right of it. I cannae say for a certainty either way at the moment... it’s my own mood pesterin’ at me for not figurin’ a way t’end it the first time.”

“Things could have been done differently, but they were not. Neguma has given us a great opportunity with this experience,” the priest indicated the roiling river with an outstretched palm, “it is within us all to learn from it.”

“Not all of us, exactly,” the bard frowned.

“All of us that would be enriched by the experience,” he replied benignly. Raylen let the statement stand on its own merit and was somewhat relieved that his compatriot did not take immediate offense. He scanned the bank of the river and smiled, “Ah! I think I see Maculato and Nico! The gods are kind indeed!”

“Neguma must think we all know how t’walk well enough then,” Maeve muttered.

Raylen trotted toward the horses, “Obviously!” he called over his shoulder, smiling.

“Take ‘em back t’Arcelli... I’m gonna wander a bit further down just t’satisfy my own curiosity. Ye nae need t’tell me it’s pointless, I’m aware of that,” she sighed.

Arcelli looked up at the sound of approaching hoof beats and grunted in surprise as Raylen led their horses toward him. “Where’s the bard?” He had squatted down next to the carcass of the dragon to examine it for future reference. Even dead the thing stunk of acid and hate and the horses stopped short, halting Raylen in his tracks.

The priest nodded over his shoulder indicating downriver, “Searching.”

“For what, a corpse? We’re more likely to find Fearghus when we gut this thing,” he poked the dragon next to him with his sword, “Or at least pieces of him.”

Raylen blanched, “You don’t think that…” he could not finish his thought.

“Yes, I do think exactly that. Greens are vindictive bitches and you’re the one that said it was all pissed off and bitching Fearghus out before everything went to wet shits out there,” Arcelli’s tact had not improved markedly in the quarter hour the priest had been gone.

“I hadn’t thought of that,” Raylen answered. “Perhaps she shouldn’t be present when we…”

“Pfft, let her see what happened to her idiot cousin, I don’t care. She can’t blame it on me.” The ranger stood up and glared at the boats moving past against the current, “I just want to be out of here before any of these big Aral fuckers decide to get shitty.”

“I think she’s planning on staying in town for a few days to rest before continuing; if we’re welcome that is.” Raylen handed Maculato’s reins to Arcelli.

“Of course she is,” the ranger groused.

The priest hid a chuckle in a cough, “Well, she contacted Namen while we were on the water so we’ll have to stay put for at least a bit until he replies.”

Arcelli sighed, “Whatever. I don’t like towns.”

“Really? I hadn’t noticed,” the priest blinked.

“Fuck you, Raylen,” Arcelli grinned.

The priest was silent for a few moments, “I don’t think she blames either of us.”

“Only because she hasn’t thought about it yet,” the ranger replied dourly.

Raylen shook his head, “No. I think she’s been thinking about it since the first time we encountered Skyrralix and he got away. I think that may be why she didn’t want to stay at the lair as well; there wasn’t any defensible position there. It would have been folly to follow Fearghus’s suggestion to wait in the cave.”

“Skyrralix?” Arcelli arched a brow, “What the fuck is that?”

“That’s what the dragon called itself,” Raylen shrugged. “I don’t speak Draconic to know if it means something else. I just assumed that was its name. It’s not like it’s tattooed on the back of its neck or anything.”

“I suppose that’s as good a guess as any. I still say she’ll scald us on it though,” Arcelli sighed.

Raylen shook his head, “I disagree, but only time will tell.”

Arcelli stared down at the carcass for several moments then frowned, “Dammit! I bet we lost all of the preservation powder-”

One thing Raylen had noticed in his months of travel with Arcelli; the ranger’s fluency in obscenity was truly impressive, particularly when he was angry. He let the profanity dwindle to a grumble before speaking, “Actually, it’s in the bag of holding. Maeve told me all of the component collection gear was in there when we were trying to figure out weight distribution for the horses so we could haul Fearghus’ armor.”

“Oh.” The ranger looked somewhat contrite. “Good – I guess as soon as she gets back we can get to it then. I just hope she hurries.”

Maeve surveyed the small crowd that had gathered some distance from where Raylen and Arcelli were standing over the dragon’s carcass. She could not hear what any of the townsfolk were saying at this distance but most heads were bent together and there was no small amount of pointing toward the two Salpians. The bard had not noticed, until now, exactly how close they were to the outskirts of town which made her stomach turn a half somersault of realization when she thought about the consequences had she and her companions failed. She pressed her knees into Canuto’s shoulders to urge him to a trot and sat as tall as her aching muscles would allow.

“Ho there, fellas!” she said when she got close enough not to have to shout, “Looks like ye’ve gathered an audience. Ye been dancin’ or singin’?”

“Neither,” Raylen answered, “We were waiting on you to return with the kit. I don’t know why they’re just standing over there.”

Arcelli frowned, “To piss me off.”

Maeve chuckled to hide a wince as she threw her leg over Canuto’s head and slid off of his back, “Like as nae they’re wonderin’ if you’ll gut them; put yer sword away, man!”

The ranger glowered at his companion, “Why?”

The troubadour shot a glance over her shoulder, “Because it’s rude t’meet folks with bare steel in yer fist and from the looks of the feller comin’ through the crowd I’d lay good gold that he’s a clan chief of some sort.” She arched a brow, “And he’s nae armed or armored.”

Arcelli reluctantly sheathed his sword but kept a protective hand on the hilt, “Fuck.”

Maeve turned around but before she could say a single syllable the big Aral approaching them let out a loud laugh, “Leave it to a Lachlan to not only swim a flooded river but make a grand entrance doing so! Always said they was half fish, half peacock!” The bard blinked as he patted her soundly on the shoulder, “Kennan Cananach... you?”

Maeve Lachlan, Raylen Lorn, and Arcelli Cacciatore... pleasure.” She smiled. The Chananachs were on good terms with the Lachlans so the greatest hurdle had been cleared.

The Aral stuck a hand out to the priest and ranger in turn, “Welcome to Aral, lads. I’ll offer an official thanks for drubbing this critter later, but for now a handshake will have to do.”

Maeve smiled at the confused look on Arcelli’s face as she asked Kennan, “Do you think we might get a hand moving this beastie somewhere we can dress it out without running everyone out of town with the stink?”

The Cananach scratched his jaw as he eyed the carcass then looked back toward the city behind him, “Aye, bit close to town here. We’ll haul it up bank to where a wagon won’t sink and see what we can find by way of a kill shed.” He yelled up the bank and two stripling boys took off on a dead run for the city. “I have to go to the docks to see who was hauled in and what state they’re in. Those lads are mine so you can trust they’ll be back double quick with that wagon. There’s plenty of hands to help with the lifting,” he pointed at the knot of people still standing some thirty yards away.

“Thank you,” Maeve smiled, “please don’t let us keep you from tending to your folk. I’ll wager we’re all too tired to go too far.”

The Aral chief bristled, “You’ll go no further than my hearth until you’ve had my hospitality, and that’s the end of that discussion!” And with a firm nod he strode away.

Arcelli waited until the chief was out of hearing range and muttered, “He’s not going to be so hospitable when he finds out we’re the reason the dragon was here.”

Maeve glared at Arcelli and growled between clenched teeth, “Ye can stow that talk right now, Signor Cacciatore. ‘Twas nae any of us that brought green-scaled ruin down on these folk. ‘Twas that bully of a show off Turnbull cousin of mine bein’ more interested in makin’ kissy faces and bein’ a peckerwood that gettin’ the job done that gave that fuckin’ beastie another week this side the veil t’heal and brood and plan.” She puffed an errant curl out of her face, and reigned in her temper as well as she was able, “I'm more than a shade chaffed at the fool for gettin' hisself killed but I've nae any means t'take it out on him which only goes t'ward chaffin' me all the more.” She jabbed a finger at the carcass and modulated her tone to one somewhat less confrontational, “That is, I believe, a dead dragon with a sword gash in its neck that you nae could have delivered without the wings of his prayer,” she pointed to her companions in turn as she spoke, “I see nary a single mace dent on it... nor bruises from ham-sized fists, nor dagger gashes, nor any profusion of spike holes - nothin’, in other words, that shows anyone not on this bank did shite-all t’take care of business - WE are the reason IT is dead nae the other way around which cannae be said of every member of our merry little band.” The bard smiled, “Face it, lads, ye be dragon slayers and are goin’ t’have the adorin’ public fawnin’ on ye whether ye want it, or nae, so smile ‘cause here they come.”

Session: Night of the Living Wilburys - Saturday, Dec 22 2012 from 6:00 PM to 1:00 AM
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Epic!
Maeve's Gambit
Maeve took a deep breath and let it out slowly before gripping the cool brass of the handles of the Council chamber doors, “Step smart, ye nae want ye t’get pinched t’ruin the effect,” she whispered to the empty air to her left, “an’ give ‘em a chance t’see ye plain, cousin,” she glanced over her shoulder and stifled a chuckle, “gods’ truth, Fearghus, y’nigh frighten me with that mug yer pullin’!” A quick glance to her right showed that the Council’s ‘guard’ was still held fast in the amber field of scintillating force released when he read the sigil on Namen’s note; at least they would not have the immediate possibility of armed interruption to distract her. She heard the muffled bang of the gavel through the heavy wooden valves and took that as her cue to push wide the carven doors and enter the room. She felt more than heard the growl from her cousin as he held the doors open for a few beats then firmly closed them behind her.

Every eye in the room followed her progress as she strode across the chamber to stand before Maestro Kesterben who was seated at the center of the u-shaped table and looked at her quizzically with the gavel in his hand poised and momentarily forgotten above the soundblock. “Contora Lachlan,” the gnome covered his surprise well but not well enough for escape Maeve’s notice, “I don’t remember seeing your name on the agenda for today’s meeting. Is there some matter we may lend you guidance on?”

Maeve smiled, that mildly admonishing tone had not frightened her as a student and it did not concern her now, not yet any way, “Mayhap ye can, Maestro Kesterben.” With a practiced flick of her thumb she flipped the broken bit of silver chain from the ruins at Covalis such that it landed with a tinkling thud on the embroidered table runner in front of the Dean of Special Interests, “I’ve come t’discuss missin’ links.” The bard half expected a reaction from the gnome but instead caught the barest twitch of an eyebrow from the elf next to him – from anyone else at the table that tiny change in composure would have been an audible gasp of shock.

The elf, Maestro Algarlegair, Dean of Faculty gave a slightly bored sigh, “Not lost your flair for the dramatic I see, Contora Lachlan. I do not believe this warrants the attention of the entire Council,” he waved one slim hand dismissively, “As we were just adjourning I trust that the rest of you have other matters to attend to; Maestro Kesterben and I will see to this.”

One of the other occupants of the table arched his brows as he sucked honey and pastry crumbs from his thumb. “I don’t have anything else going on,” he removed the digit from his mouth long enough to speak before servicing his index finger in the same manner, “I can stay.” Contore Majori Ostasio Vettori smiled politely as he brushed crumbs from his doublet. Contore Majori Vettori’s specialization was ‘response administration and audience guidance’ affectionately referred to by the student body as ‘domination and manipulation’ and elf’s reaction was not lost on him as it had been on the rest of the Council. Anything that got the Dean of Faculty ruffled had to be interesting.

“I am quite certain you have business that requires your attention, Contore Vettori, if you-”

The rotund instructor shook his head, “I thank you for your concern, Maestro, but I cleared the entire day for the Council meeting not knowing how long it would take. I so seldom attend in Maestro Benicci’s stead that chose to err on the side of caution; I’ve got all the time in the world, so to speak.” He settled back in his chair and sipped his tea, “Besides, Cantora Minori Lachlan has a bit of a history and I believe it’s in everyone’s best interest to have a third set of eyes and ears present, just to avoid any misunderstandings of course.” He smiled benignly and blinked over the top of his glasses at his superior. In truth he had a bit of a soft spot in his cynical old heart for Maeve; the girl, who had managed to bluff and cajole her way into two years of free education from one of the most prestigious institutions in Salpia, past an admissions board that thought it had seen every trick and heard every story, had given him hope that the next generation might not be a lost cause in the art of persuasion.

Maestro Algarlegair smiled and inclined his head, “How exceedingly fortunate. Very well,” He waited as the rest of the Council members filed out of the room.

Maeve did not look away from the elf as she spoke, “I think I’m in the clear, Namen. I thank ye fer yer protection but would be obliged if’n ye’d wait fer me in the hallway as we’ve t’discuss Academé concerns now and ‘twould nae be meet fer any other ears t’have the hearin’ of it.” She enjoyed the surprised reaction of all three Council members as her employer appeared from thin air beside her.

“Are you sure, Maeve? Morna will have my hide if anything happens to you,” Namen looked genuinely concerned, whether for Maeve’s well-being or his cook’s scorn was impossible to discern.

“Aye, sir, I’m certain,” she smiled, “But I’d nae wish ye t’be any further than the hallway if’n it’d nae trouble ye too much.”

“You have but to say the word,” he gave a meaningful glance to the three men seated at the table, “We’ll be outside if needed.”

“I appreciate yer understandin’ and trust on this sir, but from here on I needs must go it alone.” She curtsied to her employer and waited until the heavy doors closed behind him before returning her gaze to the Council members. “If’n ye gentlemen nae mind overmuch, I’ll get myself a chair as this is a tale likely t’be long in the tellin’.”

As she carried one of the heavy, wooden chairs to the middle of the floor Maestro Kesterben spoke bluntly, “That was Master Roodle of Sottovelo, your employer.”

“Aye, sir, that he is on all counts,” Maeve nodded as she centered the chair in front of the three remaining Council members.

“I’ve heard of him! A crafter of arcane items I believe.” Of a sudden, Contore Vettori remembered his manners, “Would you care for any tea, Miss Lachlan? Cream, no honey as I recall, no?”

The young woman smiled, “Aye, Sir that would be lovely. Thank ye.”

Maestro Algarlegair waited until Contore Majori Ostasio was once again seated before speaking, “Whenever you are ready, Contora Lachlan.”

Maeve bowed at the waist before taking her seat, “As may be known t’anyone who’s made a studied habit of loiterin’ about in the lesser-travelled corners of the Academé’s library, nigh on t’eight and ninety years ago a truly vile and murderous cult terrorizin’ the south of Salpia was put down by an impressive assemblage of paladins and priests… and by ‘put down’ I mean ‘slaughtered t’the last breathin’ soul,’” she arched a brow for emphasis. “The unfortunate bit about havin’ been so thorough in the cleansin’ of this scourge on the countryside is that there was nary a hint of where the dastardly fiends were laired up when they were nae out committin’ mischief, bloody mayhem, and murder.” She allowed herself a brief, knowing smile as she continued, “Now this event has all of the makin’s of an excellent saga; a real heart-tuggin’, mug-thumpin’, rafter-rattlin’ show stopper that’d put copious coin int’the hat of any bard who stuttered it past his teeth by virtue of the sheer inspiration mustered up by hearin’ how all that is Light and Holy persevered against chaos, depravity, darkness, and despair t’win the day and avenge the wronged!” The careful crescendo of her voice hung for a moment in the chamber as she paused.

The bard leaned back in her chair and sipped her tea as she crossed her legs, “But there are nae any such tales,” she shook her head sadly, “So’s over a decade of terror was forgot, heroic deeds went unsung, the deaths of thousands slipped from the memory of even those of their kin what came after ‘em… it’s rather sad, nae?” Maeve glanced to either side and lowered her voice conspiratorially, “Now, what may nae be known t’anyone outside of this room is that close ont’fifteen years before this cult drew the attention of every Light of Halcion south of the Serpent Sea there was a tragic accident here at the Academé… well, two actually.” She watched her audience closely and noted that Contore Majori Vettori leaned forward, eager to hear more, the gnome looked interested, curious almost, but Maestro Algarlegair had fixed her with a steely gaze that, had she not translated the journal by her own hand, would have shaken her confidence to the core. He was giving away volumes of information and did not care which made Maeve very glad Namen and Fearghus were within shouting distance and prepared for war.

She was too deep in her performance, however, to betray any of these thoughts on her countenance so she continued. “The first was a true accident, a moment of passion on a young Viscount’s part that simply went too far and tragically snuffed the light of a young and comely priestess whose insatiable appetite fer knowledge lead her down a one-way path she could nae return from, if ye take my meanin’, which may well be the reason that every last instructor from the temples I’ve ever seen darken the door of this Institution has a face what’d barely do a sack of hammers justice, but I digress… my apologies gentlemen, occupational hazard.” Maeve bowed her head slightly before going on, “Now I am fair certain that the current Viscount Totopa has nary a clue as t’why his shenanigans are not only tolerated but nigh on ignored, but when yer great-great grand sire meets an untimely end – well, we’ve all been instructed t’be vigilant down the dark ‘round the Academé’s mumbly little pet, have we nae – there’s bound t’be some sort of concessions made t’the survivin’ kin even if said kinfolk are unaware of it after a century or so.” She looked up at Maestro Algarlegair through her lashes, “Seems the nut nae falls very far from the trunk, if ye take my meanin’.”

The elf let out a breath he did not realize he had been holding as the young woman continued. “Now, what may not be known t’anyone inside this room is what happened t’ol’ Maestro Dindeva after the death of Frata Panitanzi of the Neguma Temple; seems he’d found somethin’ in the library that he thought’d be useful in spyin’ out who was responsible fer ‘crushin’ the fairest bloom in his heart’s garden’.” Maeve watched the elf’s face as she quoted the journal verbatim and read plainly that Algarlegair knew the phrase well. “And whate’er he read in the Scrolls, and whate’er they led him t’do drove him straight over the edge of madness in such a way that he believed that the mouther chained up down the dark was a god, nae, not just a god, but rather his god… and that his god would bring a righteous wrath down upon his enemy, which would be one way of lookin’ at bein’ fed t’a mouther I suppose. And Dindeva showed his gratitude fer the critter’s murderous vengeance by liberatin’ his god, as any good prophet would do, and spiritin’ it away – chain, net and all – down south where he could bring believers to the exaltation of his god’s embrace and purge unbelievers from the presence of one of the Elder Gods,” she paused a few beats to let her words sink in.

“Now there are several problems before us as I see it,” Maeve continued, “First, at some point in time definitely in the past and possibly in the present, I nae know fer a certainty, this noble Institution had access t’the Scrolls of Epyasti, or at least a fair credible copy thereof, which in and of itself could rain blue ruin down on us from every corner of the known world, second, the standin’ of every member of this Institution, past and present, would nae be worth a clipped copper if it became known that one of the greatest scourges Salpia has ever known was a lunatic Maestro of this Council, third, that this Institution which is responsible fer the unbiased keepin’ of lore and recordin’ of history actively and knowin’ly censored said history – specifically the cold-blooded murder of a nobleman and slaughter of thousands of innocents in the south – fer its own benefit, and fourth, that evidence definitively tying this Institution t’the horrors of the past has surfaced in the present.” She paused for a moment, “As Maestro Kesterben is certainly aware one of the other members of Master Roodle’s fetch and carry team is a priest of Neguma which poses an interestin’ but not insurmountable fifth problem, specifically in the form of someone with a voracious curiosity and a possibility that the priesthood has some sort of mention made of the late Amisina Panitanzi as a sort of cautionary tale. Fortunately he’s easy t’distract and I’m well-practiced at diversionary tactics so’s it’s nae been an issue t’date.”

“Gentlemen, I am a devoted alumna of the Academé and the continuation of this Institution and its ideals is foremost in my concern. The advancement of the influence of the Academé, both in Salpia and Aral, t’lead mankind t’greater heights is in jeopardy if the faith placed in this Institution is shaken by the thought that one of its leaders, however long ago, found within its walls a dark and evil path which he turned to because he was heartbroke over a woman who could nae keep her ankles crossed and that he was willin’ and able t’rape, pillage, sacrifice and out-right murder thousands of people, human, dwarf, elf, common and noble alike, fer over a decade before he was put down.” Maeve waited a heartbeat before continuing, “So that which is, in my opinion, best fer our Academé is completin’ the sanitation that was begun a century ago.”

Maestro Algarlegair’s countenance remained stony, “Continue.”

Maeve ticked off her suggestions as she listed them, “There are several ways t’obtain silence; there’s gold,” she wrinkled her nose and shook her head, “but the seriousness of this situation surpassed all the gold in a miser’s mattress long before my great-gran was a gleam in her da’s eye, then there’s blood – but the tricky thing about blood is a body ne’er knows how far it’ll splatter or how deep it’ll run and ye can nae be certain ye e’er got it all cleaned up or where a li’l speck’ll show it’s wee, ensanguined face at the worst possible moment,” she shook her head again, “Or there’s collaboration.” She favored the three men before her with the stunning smile that had won her entrance to the Academé, “Let’s look at that one.”

The Dean of Faculty leaned back in his chair and templed his fingers under his chin, “Let’s.”

Maeve leaned forward on her elbows and met the elf’s gaze unflinchingly, “This is my offer; I will give directly t’your hands, Maestro Algarlegair, the remainder of chain and attached ensorcelled net, which bears the Academé’s mark on every link, that I recovered in the ruins at Covalis where my companions and I slew the mouther spirited away by mad Maestro Giani Dindeva. This represents the only remaining, definitive physical link between the Academé and the Terror of the South. In return I ask only fer the rights and privileges due a devoted member of this noble Institution without the usual monetary outlay that symbolizes that devotion.”

“You want a Council seat,” the elf stated matter-of-factly.

“Aye. That’s it in plain words,” she nodded. I want to sit across from that lecherous Totopa bastard and make him squirm under the crushin’ weight of his own failin’ without ever lettin’ on that I know he’s diseased fruit from a poisoned and degenerate tree that’s nae learned its lesson in four generations and I will live only t’counter his self-servin’ misguidance of this Council with my own vote at every given opportunity such that those who truly have the best interests of our Institution may continue its good work unhindered.” Despite her calm demeanor the high color of her usually milky complexion betrayed the depth of her conviction.

“What of any other… materials you likely found? You’re a very bright girl, Contora Lachlan, but I know you didn’t dream those names and dates with that much accuracy,” Maestro Kesterben finally spoke.

Maeve frowned, “I been puzzlin’ on that. There’s a distinct possibility that I’ll need somethin’ t’put the priest off with if he eventually recalls that there was aught of interest in that sunken temple. Ye’ll just have t’trust that I can keep his two and two far enough apart that they nae become four,” she shrugged, “I’m fair certain that with proper handlin’ and the judicious application of an open shutter during the rainy season anythin’ incriminatin’ll be lost t’time and the elements.”

“At least you have considered the matter. What of your employer? And the other… fellow.” Kesterben nodded at the closed doors.

Maeve tilted her head, “Would I bother t’ask Master Roodle t’leave if I’d already told him what I was gonna talk about? Nae, he’s nary an idea of the particulars behind my visit. T’be honest, I’d nae put him in the thick of it as he’s got his own quagmire of politics betwixt the colleges t’navigate without bein’ privy t’ours. And the other fella is kin of mine – as has been said more than once, if’n ye put two Arals in a room they’re either sworn enemies, betrothed, kin, or some combination of the three.”

Kol arched a brow, “So they just came here, armed to the teeth I might add, because you asked them to?”

Maeve smiled, “Oh, I might’ve hinted that I was on some business that could see me dead or worse, which is truth, and ye’ve all met my Auntie Mo and been on the receivin’ end of her protectiveness; would ye cross her if ye had the opportunity not t’?”

Contore Majori Vettori snorted, “Gods no!” as Maestro Kesterben reluctantly shook his head.

Maestro Algarlegair allowed himself a smile, “I can see how one might rather face the possibility of taking on the entire Academé single-handedly rather than run afoul of your… colorful relative though his investment in your education may well have had more to do with his protection than a simple scolding.” His smile ended and he asked pointedly, “Where is the item in question?”

“Not here,” Maeve replied simply. “A girl cannae be too careless lest she end up regrettin’ somethin’, but it’s close enough by that you’ll have it t’day.”

“Of course,” the elf tilted his head and spun the broken link between nimble fingers, “What makes you think any agreement will be honored – not that there is any machination to the contrary, of course…”

“Y’mean aside from the fact that I’ll have somethin’ in writin’ over your signature, Maestro?” Maeve’s tone was somber, “Because although ye despise that randy bastard Totopa as much as I do, and I can tell by the way ye wrinkle yer nose like ye smelled somethin’ rotten every time he passes ye that ye do despise him, ye’ve abided by yer word fer four generations. I nae knew until I started talkin’ that it was you orchestrated this particular resolution, but it’s fair clear that it was.”

“Am I becoming that transparent in my dotage?” Maestro Algarlegair frowned.

She shook her head, “Maestro Lathon I spent over four years listenin’ t’ye describe what this Institution, our Institution, is and what it could be and I truly believe ye have the right of it. I also truly believe with every fiber of my soul that the Academé will never get where it needs t’be if the Council is bent by the wrong passions, if ye take my meanin’.”

“I do,” the elf smiled, “I must say at the very least I am pleased that you listened.”

“I did more than listen, I took it t’heart. All three of ye put forward the same theme if stated somewhat different, but the same idea ne’er-the-less,” she shrugged and leaned back in her chair. “I know what I’m willin’ t’do fer the Academé and Her interests and I’ve nary a doubt that any one of you, particularly you Maestro Lathon since you’re several lifetimes more invested in this Institution than any of the rest of us short-lived could ever be, I’ve nae the slightest doubt that any of you lot would go just as far as I will.”

“And how far is that?” Contore Majori Vettori peered at Maeve over the top of his spectacles.

“To the bitter end of whate’er long and windin’ road I may find myself on, Contore Ostasio,” she replied unflinchingly. The Salp nodded and silence settled thickly between the occupants of the room.

Maeve hoped that she was the only one who could hear the hammering of her heart in the huge Council chamber. An old memory floated to the surface of her mind in that deep quiet. She had gone with her father and older brothers to one of the summer faires on Lach Binkmull and had been fascinated with the divers leaping from the steel into the chilly waters between jagged spires of rock that jutted up from the lake. She’d asked her father if she could try diving and been answered with a light cuff to the back of her head. “There’s only two ways that foolishment ends” her father had groused, “grand champion or shite on a rock and yer nae old enough t’be either.” She’d watched the divers whenever she could see them and each time her heart pounded high in her chest wondering which way each dive would end. I wonder which I’m t’be?
Session: It's not delivery... it's Digiorno! - Saturday, Jul 21 2012 from 10:00 PM to 3:30 AM
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Epic × 2!
Why can't we be friends?
Say what I will about the Regulars, but the commandant, Captain Trocero by given name, was at least a somewhat honest feller as he pointed out that he never actually said that his men had killed the hobs but he dinnae disabuse anyone of makin’ that assumption either takin’ it as a stroke of luck what fell his way fer a change; which I really can’t blame a feller fer – luck is terrible hard on most Salps, when compared to the average Aral that is, so gettin’ a fortunate break and takin’ advantage of it just means he was fair sharp fer a Regular. After agreein’ that the tonic was the worst-tastin’ thin’ t’pass his lips since last his grand mame made his medicine he agreed that since we’d cleared up his unit’s hob mess and perpetratin’ genocide against goblinoids is the sworn duty of every Regular what ever donned the mantle, that it would be right an’ fittin’ fer him and his men to accompany us to the cave and scrog the little blighters off. Says I, in a fit of charity, that we can wait ‘til the snow stops and he and his fellers are back up to fightin’ trim to which replies he that he would have hoped fer nothin’ less. I shooed him t’bed after he choked down the last of his tonic and told him we four would keep a weather eye on the skies and told him there was no hard feelin’ on my half of the table. Says he that he’d make sure the men paid fer their spirits whether he was there to watch or nae and that he hoped the weather would cooperate as well as his and his men’s health. Turnin’ in myself was in short order and I’ve got to say that there is nae much finer than a proper bed after sleepin’ in a tent in the snow.

Mornin’ dinnae so much dawn as it rather snuck up the sky like it was tryin’ t’hide from the wind what continued to screech like a twice-jilted banshee aimed at tearin’ the planks straight offa the walls in search of her missin’ betrothed. We was snug enough though and spent the mornin’ passable entertained with gamblin’ and tradin’ tales with the Regulars as once it was know’d by the ranks that we’d be workin’ t’gether rather than opposed and it didn’t appear that there was any grudges nursed from the previous night’s thrashin’. The invalid upstairs even made an appearance and seemed to be on the mend which was right cheerful news – particularly t’him that had been laid low. I offered, out of the kindness of my heart mind ye, to boil up another batch of tonic t’which the commandant readily volunteered his men but said that he was feelin’ so much the better that he didn’t need it so’s I obliged with the innkeeper’s wife’s gracious assistance. Fer those of you keepin’ track of such thin’s, paprika, cinnamon and anise is possibly one of the most vile combinations known t’mankind but boiled in flat ale and filtered through cloth pulled off of a green cheese it’ll taste even worse.

By midday the wind had died down to mostly nothin’ and the clouds had disappeared with it t’bother someplace down further south and we were able to provision up fer the trek back to the gobbos hidey hole knowin’ that they wouldn’t be goin’ so far as a foot out the door with half a foot of snow on the ground. The good weather looked t’hold fer at least a few days so says Captain Trocero that if the day next dawned clear it’d be as good a time as any t’head out. Agreed I and Arcelli seemed to think as I did that the weather would hold fer a bit which would be required as the Regulars we’d confiscated were infantry and would have to slog it all the way there and back which would be none too quick goin’ but was what it was. One thin’ I didn’t expect when the weather warmed was how many of the fine citizens of Ebete trooped into the inn t’hear about the brawl and the hobs and the next sojourn of the intrepid Regulars as well as damnable near every song I know and a few I didn’t but made my way through anyways. I even managed to have a few coins of appreciation pitched in my general direction as well as a few rounds paid fer by the good folks so’s I actually came out a copper or two ahead on the day which is always welcome and though I’ve no idea how the boys fared in their gamblin’, I dinnae hear any grousin’ so’s I’m guessin’ it wasn’t too awful bad.
Session: Game Two Bizatch! ...or Get in that Hole! - Friday, Jul 08 2011 from 7:30 PM to 1:30 AM
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Tags: Downtime