Old June 11, 2018, 03:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[Jaedaxia] All Mail Is Blackmail If You Use Enough Ink

Midsummer, Era XXV

Three figures spilled out into the Trillan rain. They huddled for a second. "That didn't go well," said Aernoud Sinclair. He was the architect, a tall lanky human with a slightly drippy nose. The call thudded in the back of his head, letting him know there was another dracon present. "Not well at all," retorted the second of the three men. Alabaster Lockman, the surveyor, a portly fellow with large moustache. In a futile gesture he cleaned his glasses and put them back on, the rain catching them just as quickly.

"No," said the third man, Harold Petrel. The lawyer, a squat balding man wearing a hat that protected his own glasses from the rain. Between the three of them they were the team sent by CMN to negotiate the necessary property rights needed for an expansion to Trilla. Alabaster struck a match and lit a pipe, shielding it as best he could from the downpour. The other two considered their options for a second.

"Plan B," the words came from Petrel, but the other two nodded. Without another word, they all split off into three different directions.



* * *

By the time he got back to Jaedaxia, messages had already been sent to the appropriate parties, letting them know to expect him. As such a carriage was waiting at the docks and delivered him to the mansion of his boss, the elusive president de Aquinas. Harold Petrel took a brief second to check if anyone was watching and then he unlocked the door, stepping inside he did a careful hopscotch on the floorboards, moving from one to another in an exact, geometrical pattern. There was a slight creaking as the various traps set around the house slowly wound down and disarmed themselves.

He walked down a corridor that pulsed with heat and took a left up a flight of stairs. This was where Adrian de Aquinas lived, up here there was definitely less alchemical equipment trying to take over the space. This place was too large a place for only one person and it was easy to tell, here there were many rooms that were empty and probably would remain vacant for a very long time. Nonetheless he made his way to an austere bedroom, a bed that hardly had a mattress in it at all served as the centrepiece and there were a few other pieces of interest here. But this was a room where one slept, not a room where one spent time.

He walked right through it into a small, walk in cupboard sporting a selection of different clothes intended for someone a fair bit taller than Petrel. Each one of them sporting the red and the alchemical insignia of professor Aquinas. Not one of them interested the erstwhile lawyer. He picked the last jacket and twisted the toggle it was hanging on slightly.

Without so much as a creak the back door of the cupboard opened up into a much larger room. There were no windows in here. Light came from alchemical lamps that dangled from the ceiling. As Petrel stepped inside his face started bubbling. Bone ground against bone in a painstaking change. Clothes lay like discarded pieces of exoskeleton behind him as he half crawled, half collapsed inside. Changing shape was difficult at best, but it was always painful.

Half an hour later, a new man arose. Taller. Balder. He looked at his nails with disapproval for a second, and they shrunk back into his body. All around him in this room was everything he needed. The walls were adorned with huge portraits of rulers and nobility past and present. Clothes hung everywhere, for all manner of heights and sizes, for all manner of races and bodies. He looked into one of the many mirrors for a second. Not satisfied the paunch grew slightly, and his eyes set themselves slightly deeper in his face.

He took a new set of clothes off the hanger. Nice, but not nobility or merchant rich. A set that said he had a wealthy master, but wasn't actually in the money himself. He covered his hands with a pair of black gloves. The clothes didn't quite fit, he was a little too wide over the shoulders. With a grunt he concentrated and his shoulders dug in slightly until he was satisfied with the fit.

This was not the kind of business he could send Adrian de Aquinas out to do, nor would Harold Petrel do the job, Hawke was a little too hot, Rufus Flycatcher was entirely the wrong type for this, Merimax Goldfinch had potential, but no, he needed someone else. "Plover," he said, his voice a little deeper than usual, still a little unsteady from the transformation. "Caspian Plover."

The suit he had picked was lined with a series of small potion vials, should he need to get into something. Still, for now he was just out to gather information. It all started right here in Jaedaxia. If he was to find something that would convince the Baron to change his mind, he would need to start here. Tugging on a black jacket Plover left the confines of the Aquinas estate under the cover of darkness.

Champroi had always been a gem blooded house and they had gone underground during that idiot Moonstar's attempt at banning arcana in Jaedaxia. Of course, it had not lasted, nothing that idiotic would have been allowed to stand. Still, that meant going looking for mages. The alchemist was not the greatest fan of mages, not by a long shot. Too much power, not enough good sense. There had been several of them that had hidden in Jaedaxia Beneath when all this was going on.

If there was something embarrassing in the history of the Champroi family, these missing years seemed like a good place to start. For now he started with a simple plan, a small alchemical light and two flight potions. One to get him up there, one to get him down. When the university of arcane sciences had returned it had been as a floating castle, they had later moved down because getting up and down there had been something of a pain.

Caspian drunk his potion. It was not a pain for him. Although expending a potion on getting up there was a pain. These things were not cheap. Still, he floated up there under the cover of darkness. All he needed to do was switch on his goggles, they told him the truth of things, and hopefully tell him if anyone had left any concealed traps around the place. All he had to do was find a ledger, maybe the Champroi rooms, something to give him a direction to start prying into.
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Old June 14, 2018, 05:26 PM   #2 (permalink)
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What was the saying? Nothing worth having comes easy? Thwarted as he had been in Trilla, the not-at-all-dead dracon had retreated to Jaedaxia to lick his wounds activate the back up plan. Which, in the dark of the night, seemed to be breaking into the University of Arcane Science to see what he could discover of the Champroi dynasty.

No longer floating above the city of Jaedaxia, the University was still an impressive building. A great dome of coloured glass, tall spires reaching skyward. Enough to make it a daunting proposition to approach for those untested.There was a slight luminescence emanating from the building, as if to prove its arcane credentials, now its glory days of aerial suspension were over. And of course, the Champrois, gem blooded as they were, had long affiliation with the place. In fact, Rowan Champroi had been teaching there for some eras now. Perhaps Mr Plover might find what he needed in the man’s office?

It was a bold plan, even for one as accomplished as the dracon. Those in possession of talents did like to use them after all, and what a fine opportunity for showing off to their fellow practitioners, rigging the campus with a variety of arcane alarms, each an attempt to outdo their colleagues’ last efforts.

But, it wasn’t as if Caspian Plover had just plunged into this unthinking, no. He chose not to enter through the front door, nor even by the ground floor. But, because he was cunning, he instead ascended through alchemical means to a window on one of the tall spires. It was sensible, for one was less likely to be concerned about break-ins so far above ground, and as such the window was left ajar. Perfect. And of course he was wearing those truth goggles, which would alert him to anything being deliberately disguised.

What could possibly go wrong?
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Old June 15, 2018, 04:52 PM   #3 (permalink)
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A lot of things could go wrong.

Still, he was not interested in the magical laboratories, the research archives, the classrooms, the cells, the vaults or anything that was of high importance. So theoretically, he should be able to avoid the most extensive security. All he needed was a little bit of luck.

The alchemist did not like relying on luck.

For now he slipped from shadow to shadow, hovering over the floor to avoid making any unnecessary noise. If he was lucky there would be a large bronze sign saying Champroi but he did not expect such luck. Most likely he would need to find some kind of ledger to find out what dorm room they had been cooped up in during their hidden years.

So for now it was a question of listening carefully at the doors, and waiting for an opening. He did not expect to run into anyone, but complications tended to happen and the alchemist would prefer not to deal. This was the opening gambit, he would prefer not to have things go south at this stage.
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Old June 24, 2018, 04:26 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Had the alchemist not yet invented a potion for luck? What an oversight. A shame really, for if he had, perhaps he would have been lucky enough to avoid the painful blast of force energy that shocked up his arm as he reached for that window. He might have made a more elegant entrance that the ungracious tumble too.

But, he had made it inside.

And, once he had gathered his wits about him once more, he resumed his hovering, passing soundlessly over the carpeted floor. He had entered into one of the four towers that flanked the great dome in the centre of the University, and the room he was in now appeared to be an office of sorts. There were scrolls of parchment piled high on a desk, and bookshelves filled with all sorts of oddities backed up against the curved walls. The single door led out into a hallway, lit infrequently by candles in sconces, but lined with doors. A little investigation revealed it seemed to be a corridor of staff offices. Perhaps he was in luck after all?

But then, there was rather a few of them. It was at the third door that he had stopped to listen at that the alchemist heard voices, low and urgent and having what could have been disagreement.

“ I just don’t believe it is something that should be kept here Solomon.” a voice was protesting, only for another, less agitated one to reply.

“ Are our stores not already filled with things far more reactive? Calm yourself Rowan. I wouldn’t do anything that would place anyone at risk. If you don’t like the idea of it near you then that’s something you will have just have to get used to. Now, if you don't mind, I shall return to my work, lest it is not done before the suns arise. Goodnight, Professor”

It was a dismissal, that was clear, and it left the alchemist with a few scant moments to find himself somewhere to hide. The corridor was just that, a long passageway lined with doors, with no nooks and crannies that one might slip into. And the uninvited eavesdropper could hear the clearing of a throat and then footsteps approaching the door.
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Old June 25, 2018, 04:36 PM   #5 (permalink)
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His arm still smarted from that shock. He had not been expecting defences on the windows up here. The list of people who could either fly or climb up here was severely limited. Then again, faeries. Might be a pest repellant.

He worked his hand through the motions, getting feeling back into it and then ducking back in towards the wall as he heard the voices. Rowan? The missing Champroi then.

If he was in his office that meant that he needed a way out of here. The alchemist wrangled a potion out of his jacket with his good hand. The vials were marked in absolutely no way, the alchemist knew the contents by its place in his jacket, the colour of the contents, and the small marks nicked in the glass. He did not need to see the contents of this vial though, he knew it by heart.

Darian downed the invisibility potion and faded from sight. The fact that there was a Champroi here meant he was likely in the right place, but he would prefer to be elsewhere if the man decided to spend too much time here.
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Old July 11, 2018, 02:23 PM   #6 (permalink)
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These potion things were useful indeed. For once the alchemist became aware that he was about to be compromised, it was but a slieight of hand to locate and uncork another vial, and this time he slipped seamlessly from sight, just as the door he had been lurking outside was pulled open abruptly, only for a dark haired man, a little shy of thirty, to step out into the corridor. Pale, with a complexion that suggested he spent more time pouring over books by lamplight that by toiling under the three suns, the male paused with his hand wrapped around the brass handle of the office door, throwing a last remark over his shoulder.

“ I wonder, Solomon, if you would be so dismissive if it were my cousins making this request?”

He did not wait to hear an answer, but instead shut the door with a slight bang and strode quickly down the corridor , away from the office he’d just left, muttering to himself as he went, his agitation clear in his somewhat jerky gate and in the hand that swept through the foppish hair.

The alchemist, lurking as he was under the influence of the invisibility potion, had a decision to make. Did he follow the Champroi who had stumbled right into his path? Or root around a little more where he was?
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Old July 17, 2018, 01:20 PM   #7 (permalink)
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He stopped just before the door hit him square in the face. That had been a little closer than he preferred. No matter. This place was clearly not the Champroi's office, and with its occupant in place there was not much for the alchemist to do around here. As soon as this... Solomon was not actively paying attention to the door, the alchemist made his break for it. Closing the door quietly behind him.

Darian had not expected ending up this close. Still, with no real reason to stick around the alchemist drifted down the hallway chasing after the wayward Champroi. His eyes drifted to the side as he did so, keeping an eye on plaques and similar as he passed. His interest in this one was largely coincidental, mostly he was keeping an eye out for offices and other rooms belonging to the Champroi. Plaques. Always useful.

Even once he caught up to the Champroi he kept his eye out. The alchemist was here to find something, not interrogate someone. Interrogation would be way too easy to trace back to him.
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Old August 1, 2018, 03:58 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Of course the wonderful thing about being invisible is that the Champroi in question had no idea he was being followed, so helpfully led the alchemist straight to his office. Rowan was still agitated when he got fumbled in his pocket for a key and pushed it into the lock, and then waved his hand over the door a couple of times, suggesting physical locks were not all that were in place.

The man disappeared inside briefly but did not linger, he just collected a stack of books and then was back in the corridor again, this time having to juggle his armful of tomes at the same time as shutting up after himself. There was a muttered curse and a thump as the task proved too much, but then the Professor had locked the door and presumably reset whatever other wards there were around his office.

It was late, and he wanted to sleep and he had a tiresome class of first years early the next brightening, so Rowan Champroi gathered up the fallen books and strode off, non the wiser to the spectator that watched him go.

It would seem Darian had his opportunity, if only he could get inside.
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Old August 2, 2018, 06:17 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Wards.

Typical.

Wards were extremely complicated to set up with arcana, and they always insisted on doing it anyway. Because why would anything be uncomplicated? He could breach the door, no problem. Locks were not a problem. The alchemist had constructed enough of them to know them inside and out, opening a lock was not a problem. Some kind of magical trap?

That was much more of a problem.

Mechanical traps were hardly much of a problem. A few occasional blunders aside, the alchemist had done pretty well in getting rid of such things. Even so, he was on the clock here. This invisibility would not last forever. Flight would end before that.

The alchemist racked his brains to see what he could remember of Rowan. Cousin. Sorcerer. Not as much in the limelight as his more famous cousins. He was a secondary target at best, but the alchemist could not afford to look a gift horse in the mouth.

So, some kind of sorcery ward. That meant it likely responded to motion. Such as trying to pick the lock or open the door. If the window he had tried to enter earlier was anything to go by, there was likely something of a similar nature on the window so going outside was out.

The alchemist could see roughly twenty-three different ways to get into the room. The problem was doing so with a degree of subtlety. Getting around the wards was not difficult, getting around them without anyone noticing? Decidedly more difficult. Bringing down a wall was not exactly the height of subtlety.

As the Champroi collected the last of his books the alchemist came to a conclusion. He marked the location of the offices in his head, and decided on following the nobleman instead. If need be he could find his way back, the offices would still be there, wards intact. Better to evaluate his options for now and follow this human back to his lodgings.

The alchemist would try to stay a little more on top of things this time and pay attention to what the human was doing. Perhaps he might be able to sneak in before the human closed the door, it would remove the need for getting around any more annoying wards.
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Old August 20, 2018, 05:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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If information was what the alchemist was seeking, then it was no less likely to reside in Rowan Champroi’s home than in his office, so it did not seem a terrible plan.

The man left the hallowed centre of learning that was the Academy of Arcane Science and greeted a coachman who opened the door of a small laundalette carriage and let the nobleman climb inside.

Still cloaked in his invisibility, the alchemist had the opportunity to step up onto the footman's rest at the back of the carriage before the driver clicked his tongue and they were moving, rumbling through the quietened streets.

Unsurprisingly, the route led to one of the nicer areas in the Quartier de Sud, for whatever misfortune had befallen the Champrois family in recent eras, it had not swept away the foundations of wealth that underpinned their house. And Rowan Champroi, lesser known though he may be, still wore that name.

The double doors of the house were opened in anticipation by a uniformed butler, light from the interior spilling out over the stone steps that the man ascended, before he handed off the stack of books he still clutched and spoke.

“Good evening, Francois. Please put these in the study, and then I’ll take a drink and some supper in the snug, thank you.”

The butler gave a nod, adjusting the books in his grasp before he went to close the heavy wooden door, giving the alchemist the chance to slip through and into the entrance hall.

“Very good, monsieur. There was a letter delivered today...from the Islands. Shall I bring that through to you also?”

Rowan merely waved a hand in agreement and after shedding his cloak, made his way through into a room to the left, leaving the unseen interloper with the butler.

With a small sniff of disapproval, the man set down the books on a slender table that sat by the door,. There were a couple of pieces of correspondence there too, nestled upon a silver tray. Francois picked up the discarded cloak ,shaking it out before he moved off to hang it in the closet that sat at the back of the hallway. He returned then to collect the books, intending to add them to the numerous others that cluttered up the study and made it impossible to dust.

Not that the master of the house cared a jot for such things, Francois thought grumpily. And why would he when he could just retire to the snug and sup on whiskey and the vittels that would be brought to him? He was still muttering in Jaedaxian when he disappeared around the corner, leaving the alchemist alone.
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Old September 13, 2018, 04:24 PM   #11 (permalink)
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The alchemist slipped unseen between the man and his servant. Taking in the interior of the place. He had been here once before. Some party or other had been held here. The alchemist was not part of the in crowd in Jaedaxia by any means and he did not often attend parties. Even so he had enough of a mystique built up around him as a miserly alchemist that he did occasionally get invited to parties by people, often hoping that he would let slip the secrets of transmuting gold or some such nonsense.

No such luck. The alchemist had not attended that party either. But he had delivered the letter declining the invitation in person. For a given value of in person, of course. One of the many guises he adapted had done the job nicely.

This was not where he had expected to end up when he started following the Rowan. He had hoped the man would have had quarters hidden away somewhere in the university, still it was not as if this was a complete waste. This was the family home of the Champroi, it would have been next on his list of places to visit anyway. The only reason he had started at the university was because he believed the best chance of finding something suitable for blackmail would have been where they had hid out during the time mages had been banned in Jaedaxia.

He stopped for a second. The butler had said a letter. There was more than one letter on that tray. The alchemist had time to get back to Jaedaxia, so it made sense that a letter might have followed him. It was unlikely to hold anything of interest, unless they sent some very incriminating information over. Unlikely. With a slight shake of his head the alchemist discarded the possibility.

No matter. If he had learned anything it was that there were two things that inevitably lead to the kind of information he was after. One was money. The other? Well, much as it disgusted the alchemist. It was time to find the bedrooms. Staying as quiet as he could the alchemist headed for the bannister, surely they would be somewhere upstairs.
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Old September 24, 2018, 01:34 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Of course. Not like letters ever contained anything important. If one were being existential, perhaps such an opinion might lead one to question what the point was, in letters, or any other sort of attempt at long distance communication, when it could be so easily ignored.

As it was, the alchemist’s urges took him away from the hallway, saw him steal up the carpeted stairwell, whilst the rather stern faced portraiture watched him go. There was a suspect squeak from the fourth stair, but to the intruder’s relief, it did not proceed any sign of investigation.

And so the invisibility cloaked man reached the galleried landing with little to no ado. Oil lanterns provided ample light to see by and illuminated a richly decorated space, four glossy walnut doors leading off into who-knows-what rooms. Perhaps if the alchemist had not been so antisocial he might have had chance to recce the location at a party or something, prior to this illicit snooping expedition. But if it were bedrooms the alchemist sought, then he was in luck, for the first door proved the portal to the master suite.

This room was dark, only a little moonslight spilling through the window and what seeped in from the hall to give outlines to the furniture within. Bed, side tables, a vast wardrobe. All of these could be made out, but not a lot more.
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Old September 27, 2018, 03:19 PM   #13 (permalink)
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He slipped through the house like a phantom. The alchemist was used to eyes gliding uselessly over him as they tried to see where he was. That slight glassiness that came when they saw someone who was clearly not there and their brain tried to cope by doubling up on its insistence that he was not there.

Invisibility potions were not easy to manufacture, a single one could easily pay a labourer's wages for a month. More. They had their uses and while the alchemist did not enjoy spending money without cause. He had plenty of cause right now.

The alchemist stopped at the bed and sighed. This was likely going to be entirely foul. He tugged on the fingers of his glove, the tight leather leaving his hand bare for once. He spent a second peering at the naked hand. The way skin moved still disgusted him, the way it looked someone had plucked out all the scales. There was business to be done here though and there were other reasons for Darian to keep his hands hidden than mere disgust. What appeared to be a tattoo of an ouroboros stretched from the inside of his palm to his wrist.

The old crone had said that he too would gain his scars in time. How right she was.

in the alchemist's experience if one wanted to find something worth blackmailing someone with there were two places one should look. One way was to follow the money, to find out what they spent money on that they should not be. The other was to find out what disgusting human vices they had pursued that they should not.

The alchemist touched the bed and by the grace of Orod let its past flow into his mind.
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Old October 2, 2018, 03:04 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The palm of the alchemist came to rest upon the linens that dressed the bed, fine, high thread count here. If he were a discerning man he might be able to read enough from the small detail to make some judgements about the owner of said bed. But, the intruder was blessed with another gift, and at his touch he was inundated with information pertaining to the recent history of the bed he touched.

Only, well, it was a bed. And beds did not do very much, other than sit around and wait to be slept in. There was no flavour of intrigue in the messages he received, more a suggestion that Rowan Champroi lived a somewhat lonely existence, and that the housekeeper was fastidious about changing the bedding. Every Solaria and Aslanica without fail. Thank Aetheria for small mercies.

But nothing that would provide the alchemist with the ammunition he required to persuade Baron Champroi to reconsider his rejection. Nothing he could glean from the bed at least. But as the alchemist had moved toward the bed to lay his hand upon, his toe had scuffed against something, and it had skittered a little way under the bed. Perhaps that was where Rowan Champroi kept his secrets.
__________________
Grim & Your Mum :Cal can't possibly be all that prissy, seeing as he's going around propositioning people :<
Cal: ONE TIME
Hoskuld & Walt:...and he was drunk.
charybdis >> grim :And crying.
Hoskuld & Walt :...and it was a weird time.
CIR
Secrets
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