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Old September 14, 2015, 10:11 AM   #1 (permalink)
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[Port Alyx - Morning Star Inn] Words in the Shadows (Adynirach)

early darkening sometime in summer XXII

A young woman in a flowing lilac dress walked up to The Morning Star Inn one summer darkening, clutching a letter in her hand. The guards standing at the door glanced at her attire, clean hair, and smattering of gold bangles, and nodded politely as she passed. (Qiara had taken extra care to cover the one bloodstain on her dress with a careful positioning of her hands.)

She crossed the lobby and took a seat at the bar in the tavern room. The candles were lit and a violinist and flutist were playing a lovely duet by the unlit fireplace. There were a few couples and one big group just sitting down for pracenda. Qiara swallowed, suddenly nervous. Maybe because this was her first adjuration request in several months, or maybe because only a few cycles ago she'd been forced to steal fruit from the street market just to get something to eat. If this gig didn't pay, she might find herself playing pickpocket one more time. Not many people wanted to associate themselves with adjurators, and Qiara didn't have what her father would have politely called "a real job," which made things tough.

She ordered a glass of the house white wine (which cost more silver than she'd spent all cycle), ignored the raised eyebrows from the extremely haughty-looking bartender, and read the short letter one more time.

Quote:
Saw your posting. Would like to contact my sister.
Qiara folded the letter, tucked it into her dress pocket, and sipped her wine while watching the growing crowd from under her dark eyelashes. Which one of them, she wondered, had written her this note?
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Old September 17, 2015, 01:25 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Adyn was a nocturnal creature, and was wide awake by the time the suns were beginning to set. Unfortunately, he was a mere visitor to Port Alyxandrya, and didn't have a stable source of employment while he was here - at least not any longer. For once, he wasn't deep in his cups just yet, and was seated alone with a single copper spinning idly between his fingers, brooding on the fact that he had no other engagements. It was this boredom that got him thinking too much, this place that got him remembering family long lost. Surely he was a desperate, angsty soul seeking closure for eras of anger and regret... but perhaps he was also a fool for believing that this was the way to go about it.

At least, being good at what he knew, he had a particular talent for observation. He had caught a glimpse of the lilac as the woman had entered, had briefly skimmed her features. Aside from noting her evident attractiveness, he had paid her little more heed than that and had retreated back to his thoughts. The coin continued to loop through his fingers. Darkly, he recalled just how much his sister had loved music much like that which played for them now, how she had even played the violin herself.

He pondered getting some fresh air, but as he made to catch a glimpse of the door, he caught sight of the piece of parchment the lilac woman was folding away. He looked down before she looked up again, then considered leaving again. He had never been the type to care for the arcane, and had never taken adjurators seriously before. He was truly ready to accept the fact that his grief was driving him out of his fething mind. Surely this escapade of his would only serve to make things worse.

His chest rose, paused, then fell as he released a sigh. The coin stopped spinning.

"I'll pay for the lady's drinks," he murmured as the woman's server passed his table. Should she look his way, he'd offer a slight flick of the fingers - a casual wave in greeting.
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Old September 20, 2015, 08:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Qiara had just finished her glass of wine and was reaching for her coinpurse when the server told her that it had already been paid for. She glanced over her shoulder and saw a dark-haired young man waving subtly at her from a table across the room. What a pleasant surprise. She ordered a second glass, then carried it over to where Adyn sat.

"Thanks for the drink." She raised her glass to toast him, keeping her tone light but not irreverent. Calling on the dead was no laughing matter.

After she'd had a sip, she looked up at Adyn to examine him more closely. You could often tell a lot about a person just by the way they presented and held themselves, and she was sure he'd been watching her for at least a moment or two. Perhaps he had noticed the stain on the bodice of her dress, or how the tip of her index finger seemed redder than the others, as if repeatedly dipped in something dark. And there was a roughness to the way she held her chin and sat not quite comfortably in her chair, something he might recognize as one who had been on and off the streets, and in the company of questionable fellows.

She took a break from drinking, instead tracing the rim of the delicate glass with a fingertip. "I'm Qiara. You want to tell me about your request?"
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Old September 23, 2015, 01:32 PM   #4 (permalink)
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The woman's observations likely told her a lot about the solemn-looking male. He was slightly slumped in his chair. Although his head often hung a bit when his attention was occupied, he was unafraid to meet her gaze when speaking with her directly. His blue eyes scanned the surroundings intermittently in a very careful manner, and while his black hair seemed cared for, it had become slightly unkempt from the many times he had run his hand through it that day. He was garbed plainly, but cleanly, despite the fact that his collared tunic was layered with a vest that had seen a few eras of wear. He sat still and collected, yet every now and then his fingers twitched slightly, and there were shadows beneath his eyes indicative of restless nights. A slight scruff had begun to grow in at his jawline.

"Adyn," he responded, shifting through an inner vest pocket for something before realizing the pocket was empty. "My sister was killed by Xet here in the city some time ago. Or so I was told. I had not seen her for many, many eras before she died. Is that what you do? Reconnect people? Offer closure?"

Briefly, he felt guilty for having pursued this without his brother Elliot around. If anything, the younger man had loved Aria as much as Adyn had. Something about this particular meeting, however, embarrassed the rogue. He could not explain why, exactly. Did this make him feel weak? Stupid? He supposed he did care what Elliot thought of him, in the end, and he had turned to something he had often scoffed at in his earlier years. Perhaps there was more to it than that, but it was too late for those regrets.

For now... this would be a personal journey. Perhaps if there was a next time, Elliot would be there, too.
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Old September 28, 2015, 10:26 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Qiara nodded. "Yes, that's the idea. I am sorry for your loss." Her voice carried the weight of sincerity. Who hadn't lost someone to the Xet or some skirmish in the past couple of eras? Qiara supposed that her father was lucky to have died of a bad heart and not something more monstrous. Briefly, she thought of Liam, a solitary figure hanging from a rafter in some hovel in Frigid River... but now was not the time to dwell on her own sad memories.

The fact that Adyn's sister had died in Port Alyxandrya would make Qiara's job a lot easier. She wondered how many other lost souls were clinging to the cities that the Xet had attacked, seeking one last goodbye with their living loved ones.

She broke eye contact to trace strange shapes on the table's surface. Her wine glass was half empty now. "I have to tell you that it doesn't always work out the way people want it to. That last conversation, I mean. Sometimes I get clients seeking peace and finality, and that last meeting just brings up more questions. All I do is call on the spirits. I can't help what they have to say." Would Adyn take whatever his sister had to say to him, good or bad?

oocDo you want me to look for a mod for us? Or you can, if you'd like to give them background info about your sister.
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Old September 30, 2015, 09:00 AM   #6 (permalink)
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oocI can open a matchmaker, since the thread was my request.

"Mm." The response was quiet, devoid of emotion, even disbelieving. But everyone had lost someone, he supposed, and he wasn't about to dismiss her condolences completely.

Still, her final words made him visibly wince. It was as if she had brought his fears to the surface and laid them bare. Could he take what his sister had to say, even if it was filled with anger and lacking in forgiveness?

He sighed. His fingers moved, betraying the agitation in his heart.

"I understand," he said finally. "Whatever happens, I won't hold you accountable for it."
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Old October 10, 2015, 01:11 PM   #7 (permalink)
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oocSorry about the delay.

She nodded when he said he understood, though sometimes folks couldn't live up to their brave words when faced with ghosts from their pasts.

"Okay, practical questions first. One: do you know where she lived here in the city, or do you know who we could ask? Two: do you happen to have anything that belonged to her?" Anything that could strengthen the tie between the physical world and the spirit realm would make Qiara's work much easier. Sometimes it was something as small as a hair ribbon or a beloved coat. Other times it had been a favored dagger or staff. But Aydyn hadn't seen his sister in many eras, so perhaps he wasn't going to be able to provide Qiara with these tools.

She turned her attention to his sister's last location. She had been in Aslangrad, not Port Alyxandrya, during the Xet attacks. But surely someone in the city would be able to tell her where the action had taken place. She was hesitant about trying to conduct the ceremony in such a public place - not only for her own sake, for the authorities were sure to be called if she started practicing adjuration in broad daylight; but because if she opened a connection to the spirits in a place where so much blood had been spilled, there was no telling who could come through along with the specific person she meant to call.
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Old October 12, 2015, 07:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Adyn pondered Qiara's questions for a moment. "I know where she lived when we were growing up. I think she married and moved out after I had left, though, and I don't know where that could have been."

He seemed to hesitate before answering the second. But after a moment, he reached beneath his shirt and withdrew a round pendant on a thin silver chain, removing it from around his neck before showing it to her in the palm of his hand. The pendant was gold in color, perhaps half an inch in diameter, the image of a rose etched delicately onto its surface.

"I don't know how recent of a belonging you're hoping for, but she gave this to me when we were young. It was a family crest of sorts." His family hadn't been nobility, just a part of wealthy circles. The rose had been a part of their lineage for some time, and the necklace had been made for Aria the day she was brought into the family. When Adyn had been pushed away after his father's death, Aria had given it to him, a gesture that she would always see him as her brother, her family, no matter what.

He felt, oddly, more vulnerable than ever with the necklace out in the open, displayed before a stranger. It had become a part of him that he had kept sheltered from the world, had never removed since the day he and Aria had parted.

He hoped he wouldn't regret this.
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Old October 18, 2015, 12:32 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Qiara looked at the pendant and nodded. She didn't touch or it yet - she'd let Adyn take it back and tuck it underneath his shirt again. "That should suit us nicely. Anything with a strong emotional bond behind it usually does."

She drained her wine. "Let's go see your childhood home, then. I can try to call on her there, or maybe we can find someone in the neighborhood who knows where she moved to. Gossip and careful questioning will get you a long way in this city." When Aydn was ready, Qiara would follow him out of the tavern and into the darkening streets.
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Old October 20, 2015, 12:25 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The relief was evident in Adyn's face as he tucked the necklace away. For someone who spent his life snitching valuables, he sure didn't know how to hide the importance of this one, much to his shame. At the woman's advice that they move along, he gratefully stood. The atmosphere in here was becoming a little suffocating, truth be told.

"My brother and I visited the home not too long ago," he admitted. "The current owner wasn't certain where she had gone, but my father and sister were both prominent figures in the community, and if any neighbors are still around, surely they'd have an inkling of where she might have gone."

It was a stretch, perhaps, but it was something. So off they'd go, in search of his place of origin. It was a large and older-styled home on the corner of a wealthier neighborhood - not a mansion, exactly, but a sizeable place only a figure with good coin could afford. It was no longer in the hands of the Thorne family, however, and for that reason Adyn went so far as the streets but no further. It was not his home any longer, and all he could do was gaze upon it with bitterness, reminded of all the years he had lost.

He kept his eyes out for anyone he might have recognized, or anyone who seemed to live in the neighborhood and were venturing their way back home. Given that he no longer fit in this leg of the neighborhood, however, it was possible he'd garner more suspicion than a willingness to assist. It was worth a try, however.
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Old October 20, 2015, 01:31 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Adniyrach managed to find the house itself relatively easy. Time hadn't completely eroded his memories of the city yet, and even with the damage the Xet had wrought in the attack the layout of the streets remained mostly the same. The home itself seemed unharmed as well. Those locations that had been closest to the docks were the ones that had suffered the most in the attack.

There were plenty of people meandering about, but it was hard to tell who was passing by and who actually lived in the area. Eventually, though, Adynirach would notice somebody he thought he recognized. Wasn't that old woman somebody who had lived a few houses down? The... hm. The cat lady. She seemed to be wandering back from the markets, laden with food.

For her cats.
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Old October 21, 2015, 01:53 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Oh, ugh. It was that weird cat lady. Adyn frowned. That many cats always made peoples' houses smell, in his experience, and he and Aria had often stayed clear of hers when they were younger. Not that he hadn't smelled worse now that he had lived his life on the streets for some time.

"Er, excuse me..." What was her name again? He trotted a bit to catch up with her, offering to help her with her cargo. "I used to live in the neighborhood - in that house over there." He pointed at the great big looming hunk of nostalgia. "I remember you. Miss, uh...?"

He glanced over at Qiara, knowing that she had at least seen his admission of where his home was located. If anything, they had that at least.
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Old October 21, 2015, 03:40 PM   #13 (permalink)
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A name floated to the top of his mind. Ehhhh... Miss Blair? Something like that. Yeah.

She peered at him, smelling distinctly of... er, a lot of cats. To say the least. Adynirach remembered what he'd heard about the last time he'd needed to care about her. For all her eccentricities and the way she dressed (in tattered and patched up clothes) she lived in a rather upscale looking place and seemed to have plenty of money. A rich widow gone nutty? A criminal lord using her craziness as a front? Nobody really knew what she was up to.

"You the boy, then?" she said with a sniff. "Had a sister, yes? Mother remarried? Been a while since you've been around. Or has it? Memory's not what it used to be. "
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Old October 22, 2015, 11:15 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Qiara liked cats, but there was something about people who kept a lot of them that always made her want to step back a little bit. She nodded encouragingly when Adyn glanced at her. This woman was certainly a likely source of information if she'd lived in the neighborhood when he and his sister were children.

While they were talking, she remained within earshot but glanced around the street, up at the front of Adyn's old house, and at the houses across from it and next to it. She was looking for two things: anything out of place or unusual; and any spying faces at windows that might look suspiciously at two people skulking around the house. Adyn mentioned that the house had a new owner, so Qiara might have to conduct her business in the back yard, or else find a way in without alerting the current resident.
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Old October 23, 2015, 03:40 PM   #15 (permalink)
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So she did remember him. Despite the fact that she hadn't offered her name, the recollection of it was there, faintly, in his mind. He was starting to remember her, too.

"Yeah. That's me." It was hard not to be glum about the memories, but it was turning out that he was just a glum sort of guy. "No, you're right. It's been a long, long while. Too long."

He glanced over his shoulder towards the house, then back to Miss Blair. "I was hoping you could help, actually. I wasn't able to come back to see my sister after she was married. Do you happen to know where she moved to after that? She never did say in her letters. I suppose there wasn't a need to. But we lost touch and I'm just trying to..."

How to describe it?

"...retrace her steps."
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