Old December 12, 2010, 12:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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A Study in Crimson [Noe Please]

TS: 1st Cycle of Immanis, in the Season of Winter, Era XVII PF

Vanderlou rarely indulged, but for some reason he couldn't get over the taste of this Secyclion delicacy they called the Gyro. Despite being similar to most roasted dishes he'd tried before, the spices and bittersweet tang of this pita-wrapped delight stirred the glutton inside him and he was having his third one for the afternoon, the last one today, he decided. Even if he was reasonably fit and still enjoyed the impossible metabolism that came with being young he didn't like being compelled to do anything, he was a creature who exercised moderation and prudence so being forced to submit to primal urges was a completely new thing for him.

After finishing his meal, he leaned back on the chair, looked at the window and noted the gathering darkness. How many brightenings had it been? Perhaps Noe had forgotten all about their arrangement, perhaps something else came up that demanded her attention and he had been left alone to do what he pleased with his free time.

Still, he had to wonder why he had taken such a casual offer so seriously when he did. Perhaps it was just the mood, or the fact that he had enjoyed Noe's company. She was, after all a mysterious lady and Vanderlou rather liked the company of such girls - though not always the danger that accompanied them.
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Old December 26, 2010, 01:03 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Winter in Secyclion was without a doubt milder than the biting cold of Jaedaxia. Snow only rarely frosted the white limestone mansions of the Red Isle and the thick sheets of ice which plagued the Arium ports were all but unknown. Even so, foolhardy mainlanders seduced by visions of tropical paradise quickly found themselves with a bad cold or, worse, a case of pneumonia. The Esh’lahier elf knew better—long winters spent walking the icy fog of Nexus Prime was more winter than any soul had need to suffer. Her maid’s uniform was thicker, though not longer, than during the long autumn. A thick black scarf was wound tight around her neck, and her pale hands hidden within a pair of black leather gloves lined with velvet-soft rabbit’s fur.

She walked briskly through the streets of Secyclion from the Arthro Galanos to the center of the Toichos Kikkimos and the Traveler’s Lodge. It was unusual for the Esh’lahier elf to be late, and even more unusual for her to meet a friend. The Common word, she understood, meant something different than clan-mate and bond-mate in the flowing, graceful tongue of the N’danosh clanspeople. Something so broad, something freed from the fragile and tenuous web of social relations spread across the desert dunes like a spider’s web. A gloved hand waved from the door to Vanderlou before Noe picked her way across the crowded tavern floor.

“Good evening, kyrio.” Her speech was formal as ever, though if he looked closely the half-elf could see the ghost of a smile on her lips. Some things, however, didn’t change. The hilt of her elfish longknife was clearly visible jutting from the small of her back. “Did you have a safe journey from Jaedaxia? I’ve heard the talk at the docks about great storm scattering the trade-fleets not two cycles ago.”

“I apologize for being late, kyrio. My master was looking for me this morning.”
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Old December 26, 2010, 08:23 PM   #3 (permalink)
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"A pleasant evening to you as well Kyria," he stood up almost immediately, hastily moving to her side of the table to pull out the chair he had reserved for her use a few candlemarks earlier. "Please take a seat."

As soon as the maid occupied the chair in front of his, he would do the same, treating her with a pleasant smile that carried well into his eyes. "Still as cautious as ever, I see." he eyed her dagger for awhile but quickly suppressed anymore thoughts about how Noe employed it.

"I didn't make the trip by boat." he told her, leaving the girl with the question of exactly how he made his way to the island. "Though the storm did force me to take stops on the way here."

"Well I hope your master doesn't mind that I'm borrowing you tonight." he teased, his innocent smile morphing into an strangely becoming smirk. "If it isn't your day off, we could reschedule. I won't be leaving the island anytime soon, in fact I'm trying to get myself a permanent residence here, though I hope things at the aedile don't take too long to settle."

"Oh yes, before I forget." he mimed towards a waitress behind Noe and she quickly approached them with a covered tray that she carefully placed between the two friends. "A present, it has been some time since our last meeting so..." he said, lifting the bowl-shaped cover to reveal a beautiful arrangement of lilies. "I'm guessing you're not fond of transitory gifts. I had given a girl flowers who thought like that once, but let me assure you, there isn't any hidden meaning behind the flowers." he leaned back in his chair, visibly relaxing at her company.

"Do you want to have supper now or... Are you willing to take a walk outside, the last time we spoke you mentioned a few places to see and since the last time I visited the city I'd only stayed at the docks I'm more or less curious to know what Secyclion has to offer."
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Old December 28, 2010, 09:28 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Noe regarded the arrangement of white lilies with an inscrutable expression equal parts confusion and consternation. She held the expression for a long, almost comical moment; white eyebrows arched in coquettish surprise. A gloved hand rose to her lips, her white teeth tugging gently at the tip of the glove before pale fingers slid easily out of the warm fur embrace. “Well,” the Esh’lahier maid said finally after dropping the glove into her lap. “They’re beautiful, yes, but what am I supposed to do with them? Eat them?”

It wasn’t nearly as far-fetched as it sounded. Flowers, delicate and beautiful as they were, blossomed only rarely in the deserts of N’danosh. Spring brought sudden bursts of rain carried on high clouds from great northern ocean. They burst with great ferocity, like an overblown balloon suddenly punctured by one of Noe’s throwing knives. Lightning was a danger on the barren, flat sands. Flash floods more so, easily washing away whole clans trapped in narrow ravines. But when the rains had spent their fury, the desert burst into life. Barren dunes were painted with dazzling strokes of color. She would run with the other children through nature’s bounty, picking the edible pedals that sprouted from the desert sand.

But it never lasted. In a tenday, the desert winds would reclaim the garden of miracles, and Noe’s clan would resume their eternal trek to nowhere.

“Still, I shan’t imagine I’ll see many more flowers this winter.” She gave Vanderlou a crooked smile before picking up the arrangement of lilies. It was a movement more akin to a maid hefting a pail of hot water (though a very light pail of hot water) than anything overtly romantic. They did smell quite good; the floral scent filling the air between them. “So I’ll accept them with thanks, kyrio. I’ve not forgotten our dinner—I think a walk about Secyclion sounds good. In time, of course. When you’re ready.”
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Old December 29, 2010, 12:16 PM   #5 (permalink)
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The half-vagaran's astonishment was mirrored in his face the moment Noe proposed the ridiculous idea of consuming the floral arrangement before her. This emotion was short-lived however as it was quickly replaced with amusement. "Forgive me," he said while holding back a bout of chuckles which would have been rude. "I was under impression that offering flowers to maidens was a universal practice. T'was a little short-sighted of me to think it would be the same in N'danosh."

"Let me explain what flowers are all about in this kingdom," he'd have to make it brief and concise if he didn't want to bore her. "When a man presents a maiden with flowers, it's supposed to imply that he has some fondness for the lady in question. The trend these brightenings however changes things, instead of merely showing appreciation the act of giving flowers now represents an attempt at winning the lady's favor. So yes, to put it bluntly and to make things clear, I like you Noe. But I am not courting you, nor am I after bedding you. I've seen enough men try their luck femme fatale's and those never end pretty." he grinned sheepishly after making such a bold statement. Still, Noe was a strange girl so that demanded special considerations from him, all of which were easily given.

"Ready as I'll ever be," he assured her, even going as far as to tap the rapier sheathed on his belt. "I'm not sure about you however, if you're a little hungry I can order you something, is there anything you might want? Perhaps wine or brandy to sate your thirst?" regardless of her choice, he would be quick to make the request to the nearest waitress so that they could leave sooner.

Once out the door, Vanderlou would cross his arms and lean against a lampost giving Noe a look of inquiry. "So where do we go? Do you have a place in mind or are we going to be walking aimlessly, either way, I would be satisfied with just your company."

"Oh and before you answer this question, I have another, why the dagger." his brow rose ever so slightly. "Is the crime rate in Secyclion high?"
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Old January 2, 2011, 02:13 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Noe regarded Vanderlou with a singularly blank expression as the half-elf explained, however awkwardly, the history and general social context surrounding a bequest of flowers. The Esh’lahier elf could remember a time in her life when she’d cared for such things—the heady rush at seeing a lover’s face, the joy of love (or mayhap it was just lust?). Another part of her life abandoned in the spirit-filled trap; something else which held only a dim, flickering light to the Thirst. Vanderlou would never know that, of course, and Noe would never tell. “I’ve drunk my fill for the brightening,” the Esh’lahier maid replied briskly as she rose to her feet and wiggled her hand back into the warm leather glove. “Best be on our way, then.”

Fewer citizens walked the streets of Secyclion in the winter. Trade and piracy—the traditional engines of Secyclion are economy—waned with the arrival of the brisk winter winds. Gone was the many-colored bounty of the warm Eunesian Isles, banished into the fantasies of all but the richest citizens for the remainder of the winter. Noe lead the young Jaedaxian gentleman through the winding streets of the Toichos Kikkimos choosing the wide avenues and steep climbs which gave the best view of the Red Cliffs as they descended toward the tangle of the Neos Megalis.

“There’s a café in the Neos Megalis called the Café Parampolos. They serve a sort of coffee stronger and thicker than on the mainland.” Not five months in Secyclion and Noe was already picking up Eunesian habits. It was a useful habit for an immigrant girl. She took another few steps before answering Vanderlou’s other question. “If you’re afraid of an urchin stealing your wallet, kyrio, you shan’t scare him away with only a dagger.”

They reached the coffee shop as the fat sun illuminated the Tower of Sighs; the great architectural linchpin of the flooded quarter’s transit network illuminated against the fat half-sun. Noe took a seat by the window, placing the bouquet of lilies at the center of the table. She pulled her glove off one at a time again, always using her teeth so as to leave a hand free.

A red-headed waitress—easily towering over the small Esh’lahier maid—wove her way around the crowded tables to the new patrons. “How romantic, kyria and kyrio, to bring your own flowers! Welcome to the Café Parampolos!” Rosette Frost smiled broadly at her newest customers. Strangers were rare amongst the clientele, particularly with its strong association with the now-deposed Rakrya. “We’ve a fresh shipment of beans from Arakmat today. Strong and bitter, I’ll have you know. It’ll put a spring in your steps.”

“A cappuccino.” Noe smiled back at the waitress. “And one of your mother’s apple tarts, if you please.”
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Old January 2, 2011, 09:16 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The half-elf admired the view Noe was giving him of the city. Truly, there were advantages to being guided by a local than wasting his time discovering the city's sights by himself - or perhaps it was just the company of a attractive girl making the walk all the more pleasant.

"I suppose intimidation can only go so far." he agreed.

Vanderlou was pleasantly surprised to find Noe taking him to a coffee shop that not only seemed to serve quality beverages, but also had a gorgeous waitress serving them. When Noe spoke first, he immediately noticed the smile she offered the waitress. He'd only seen the maid smile a few times, but she'd never given him anything beyond a subdued one, if not a crooked one. Did people know her as something else other than the mysterious dagger-wielding maiden he'd thought her out to be here in her home town?

"I'm afraid she doesn't feel the same way towards me as I do her however." Vanderlou sighed dramatically feigning a sudden look of interest at Noe that bordered on lovestruck. The waitress nodded softly, seeming to empathize with the love-struck youth. "I'll have the same as she's having thank you."

Vanderlou waved at the retreating waitress even as she mouthed the words 'Hang in there.'

As soon as the waitress was out of sight Vanderlou slipped out of his easy-going facade and relaxed in his chair and closed his eyes. "You don't bring company here normally, do you." he smirked, drumming his fingers lightly on the table. "Are you close with that girl? You seemed awfully familiar earlier."

"Its a lovely tower," Vanderlou's gaze lingered on the Tower of Sighs before it settled back to Noe. "Have you ever been at the top of it before?"

Before he could ask another question the waitress had returned with their orders, beaming at the pair in an innocent, good-natured way. Vanderlou had always found himself attracted to extremes, it was either the bright warm and friendly ones or the mysterious, if not dangerous maidens - and he was sitting across two at the moment, and that considerably brightened his afternoon.
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Old January 3, 2011, 10:45 AM   #8 (permalink)
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How was she supposed to feel towards him? Annoyance flickered across Noe’s face for the briefest of instants; her crystal blue eyes hard as Arium steel. She could tell him, of course. Truth came easily to the Esh’lahier elf. The Thirst was simple in abstract: to drink, to take her fill. But its embodiments were legion, the precise means of satisfaction always different though the ends of her Thirst was always the same. And even if she knew, even if she could know, the maid was not in the habit of spilling her deepest secrets to friendly Jaedaxian gentlemen. So she settled for burying her face in her palms in mock embarrassment, watching through spread fingers until the waitress had departed.

“My master’s work often brings me to the Neos Megalis late at night. I’ll visit the Café when my eyelids grow too heavy for sleep. They stay open deep into the night.” Noe rested her head on her palm as she spoke, her other hand tracing a formless patter on the well-worn top of the coffee top. Her annoyance had faded away, replaced by a coquettish pout as she followed Vanderlou’s gaze to the top of the Tower of Sighs. “Not more than thrice and always at night. Mayhap tomorrow morning we can return when the morning market op—“

Her sentence was interrupted by a shrill shriek from the second floor of the establishment. It certainly bore all the hallmarks of a proper Damsel in Distress™ complete with a faint thud. A handful of young gentleman rose to their feet and rushed up the stairway, shouting to Celestina to bring some water and a strong glass of cognac. They reappeared moments later, carrying a well dressed young gentleman gingerly down the stairwell. Men, evidently, could scream like little girls given the proper motivation.

And motivation he had. As Celestine waved a cellar of smelling salts under the unfortunate gentleman’s nose, her daughter descended the stairs with a decidedly green tinge to her sunkissed skin. The redhead, however, was made of sterner stuff. “Francis is dead.” In her hand, she held a handkerchief with spots of blood. “Someone’s butchered him.”

Noe shifted in her seat, cocking her head to the side and watching the flurry of movement with a ghost of a smile. Her finger continued to trace her drawing on the table.
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Old January 3, 2011, 02:13 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Vanderlou ceased drumming his fingers at the sound of that scream, his hand instinctively dropping to the hilt of his rapier - though the look on his face remained neutral. It was a defensive mechanism that suited him far more than shock or surprise. Hopefully, Noe wouldn't notice and conclude that he was a trigger-happy sort. He disdained fighting, but violence reared its head at such regular intervals in his life that he'd come to accept it.

"I suppose with that, we won't be getting our coffee anymore." Vanderlou released his hand on the hilt of his weapon and hung his head back, moving it from side to side and from front to back to elicit a popping noise. "Pity, I was looking forward to the apple tart you mentioned earlier."

"Do you want to go elsewhere? Or do you want to see how this thing unfolds." Personally, he had no trouble with that plan himself. He'd already witnessed the Jaedaxian Protectorat in action and it was probably going to be enlightening to witness how the Eunesian arm of the law conducted their own investigations.

"I wonder, does this kind of thing happen often here..." judging by response of almost every other soul in the cafe it was obvious that was hardly the case. "I suppose it doesn't, then again you come from N'danosh, I suppose you've long since been desensitized to death." which could invite the question of why Vanderlou didn't seem as alarmed as everyone else, he certainly wasn't raised in the cruel desert of in the war-stricken lands of Sheria.
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Old January 4, 2011, 08:53 PM   #10 (permalink)
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The Aelyrian Empire must be a cruel place if Vanderlou could so easily suppose his Esh’lahier friend desensitized to death. She was familiar with the event, yes, her master’s commandments leaving no choice in the matter. (As if it was something so simple as obedience, but that was a matter for another time altogether.) Each time one of her clanfolk perished, the little girl had felt the fresh, searing grief anew. Her father’s death at the end of a hangman’s rope still haunted her dreams; his purple, swollen tongue jutting from between bloodied teeth. She’d seen death herself once, gazed long and deep at the great, silent abyss.

“Often here? I shan’t imagine so.” Noe stretched and yawned, a series of soft pops and snaps audible to the half-elf as the bones in her lithe body settled properly. She gave a soft sigh of contentment before noticing that the foppish dandy (which was an entirely unfair designation) slowly stir into wakefulness. Her next words were spoken at a whisper, too soft for any other to hear over the commotion. “But the patrons and lodgers here are marked by their sympathies for the Rakrya. No prefect will investigate their case. The city elders would sooner see them all hung.”

“it’s terrible, just terrible!” The declaration came from the recently revived young man fortified by a stiff drink of brandy. “Francis was afraid for cycles, but this? This?

He only barely managed to vomit into the wooden bucket thoughtfully provided for his use.

Cries of murder and oaths of revenge filled the café; the young radicals of a long-dead cause all too eager see the law done when no lawman would take their case.

“I like a good mystery, you know?” Noe leaned closer to Vanderlou, a coquettish smile on her lips. “And my master has an abiding interest in the strange. You’re a detective, aren’t you? Shan’t you take a look at least?”
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Old January 5, 2011, 04:49 PM   #11 (permalink)
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"I could take a look, but then I'd get hanged if I actually solved the case using the methods I normally employ..." he regarded the entire affair with mild interest, but if Noe was looking forward to seeing him unravel a murder mystery, then who was he to deny the girl her entertainment. He pushed himself away from the table and stepped out of the chair, glided towards Noe where he offered her his arm. "Noe, remember when I told you that I could speak in the tongue of the dead?"

He searched her face for any hint of disapproval. As strange as the girl seemed, he couldn't assume that she was as law abiding as he was - which didn't amount to much at all.

"What if that were true." it would certainly explain his stellar success rate, for a detective without any experience or special training under his belt he did manage to perform too well. "I understand your master may have that kind of interest, judging from how you paint it, but what of you?"

Regardless of the answer, or if she accepted his proffered arm he would move towards the stairs, to the girl who'd announced the murder and perhaps acquire her cooperation. "Excuse me!" he would shout, hoping his voice would carry over the loud cries of the cafe's patrons. "I'm a detective from the mainland, if its not a problem with anyone perhaps I can lend my services."

"Its always easier to crack a case the warmer the trail is - and considering that he victim has only just died there's a good chance I can still pursue the perpetrator." at this point, he wondered if he had overstepped his bounds. Perhaps these people didn't need help, or perhaps his assistance was far from welcome. Vanderlou swallowed hard, hoping that he wouldn't get kicked out of the cafe for meddling.
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Old January 10, 2011, 07:36 PM   #12 (permalink)
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The Esh’lahier maid gave Vanderlou a half-smile; a coquettish, almost teasing expression with which the half-elf was by now quite familiar with seeing. This smile, however, was different. Beneath the merely physical lurked the hints of malevolent interest and a smoldering thirst. And lest the warlock get the wrong idea, there was nothing remotely romantic about her expression. It belonged upon the face of a wolf carefully regarding a lamb with a broken leg—and certainly not upon the rarified beauty that Vanderlou no doubt dreamed of meeting. If he survived that long, anyways. There was something that Noe wanted from him, something that had piqued her interest. “I’ve an interest.” A finger traced a pale scar on her left cheek. An interest indeed. “And these folk shan’t run to the prefects. Half of them are mages—a quarter served the Rakyra. They’d be lucky if they weren’t burned at the stake for practicing the dark arts.”

She took the proffered hand, lightly resting her arm upon his. The ghost of her true self had vanished again beneath the mask of a maid; a look of concerned interest replacing the look of unfettered interest. It did, perhaps, help with Vanderlou’s introduction to the hot-blooded young revolutionaries to be seen with a servant. Even one as strange as Noe.

But hot-blooded young revolutionaries would be hot-blooded young revolutionaries. An argument immediately broke out; friends of the perished debating at length the wisdom of sharing their trials and oppressions with a stranger. Others questioned the fortuitous appearance of a detective, and still others pointed out that, at least, a private detective could be trusted to work for their coin and not the powers-that-be.

It was Celestine who finally broke the impasse. The beau of the Café Parampolos—even years after her self-imposed exile had begun—was still a force to be reckoned with. Brandy and strong coffee enough to mollify the arguing friends of the now-deceased, and her red-headed daughter quickly summoned to bring the pair upstairs.

“It’s just in there.” Rosette spoke through a laced handkerchief—one of the men downstairs’, and sprayed with perfume—over her mouth. The smell of death was strong already.

Noe ventured into the room first; her small nose wrinkling at the smell. She would need a good bath tonight; a long soak followed by a good scrubbing with a sponge. The room was dimly lit by the light of the setting sun; upstairs windows covered with a fine layer of dust and grime. It was the sort of room starving young artists rented to write their seminal work or die trying. The furniture was sparse and simple—a writing desk covered in papers, a chest full of clothing, an un-made bed, and a coat rack. The body was sprawled on the floor as if it had tumbled out of bed. Francis was tangled in the bed sheet as if he’d been surprised whist asleep. His chest cavity had been torn open; what was now mere offal spilled across the bed and the floor.

His face seemed almost surprised.

“What now?” Noe closed the door behind them, securing the half-dozen locks that barred the door from the inside. “I shan’t have seen a detective work before.”
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Old January 10, 2011, 10:09 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Vanderlou would ask Rosette for every nugget of information she could offer about the victim before he and Noe climbed upstairs. After entering the room he'd relax, preparing his mind for the task ahead.

"I'm not most detectives," he raised a suspicious brow at the need to secure all six locks in place but then again, Noe saved him the trouble of locking the door himself. "For one thing I cheat."

The adjurator looked at the papers, wondering if Francis had written a few things about his murderer in his last moments. At the very least, the papers might shed some light on why someone wanted Francis dead. After inspecting everything save the corpse, Vanderlou finally knelt near the bed. "Gruesome, but not the worst I've seen."

"Normally I would have to create a raising circle, but time is of the essence and I don't have nearly enough salt." he untangled the bedsheets, carefully looking at the corpse's mutilated body for anything beyond the ordinary maniacal homicide. Had he been stolen from? Had he been murdered in his sleep? Was he about to sleep with someone only to get slaughtered by that very same person? The possibilities were endless and he couldn't take his time going through trial and error. He would have to reverse engineer the formula from the solution once more. Vanderlou once again covered the corpse's face and body before preparing some salt.

"Noe, stand here - and if you can fold your skirt, or I don't know, keep it from fanning out it would help me a lot." he tapped the floor in front of him even as he began to form the circle. "I'll create a protective barrier big enough for the both of us - do not step out of the circle - crossing it breaks the magic, if you do I'll have a much harder time if things go awry." if she complied and approached him he would instruct her to turn around with a gesture so they could stand back to back as he finished drawing the circle, if she would comply was entirely up to her. Before he closed the circle, he whispered a few choice words in an incomprehensible, almost snake-like language and a gust of wind flew out from Vanderlou, settling around the room, picking up paper and dust. Then he sealed the circle protecting the two of them in the immediate future.

Vanderlou inhaled a deep breath before begging the chant that would bring back the dead. "Francis," the rest of the name was distorted as Vanderlou slipped into the strange tongue he'd grown accustomed to "I summon you from the river of the dead, I bring you back to give you justice should you be found deserving. Appear before us now in the form you wore yesterbrightening by the power of Ioannes and Jalat, I command you."

Shadow and crimson light played over the corpse of Francis and a man who resembled the corpse, though in far better shape and oddly translucent appeared before them. "Who attacked you Francis? And by Ioaness, you will tell me the truth." he couldn't say killed, no, not when he had just died and might have had difficulty understanding what had happened to him - but invoking Ioaness' power was a subtle way of forcing honest out of the ghost. "I'm an investigator and I need to know what's going on."

If the ghost proved violent, a snap of the adjurator's fingers would have his familiar converge upon the ghost of Francis, trapping him in invisible chains of air - not that Francis could generate more power than a Motus 2 ghost at best.
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Old January 13, 2011, 07:28 PM   #14 (permalink)
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The facts of Francis’ arrival in Secyclion and his subsequent adventures known to Café Parampolos amounted to precious little. Honesty was not a virtue for a member of a deposed government; ministers passing themselves off as minor officials to evade retribution and minor officials passing themselves off as ministers (or at least a more exalted position) to enhance their reputation among their fellow expatriates. It quickly became clear that Francis was likely not his real name—few taverns asked to see Imperial Visa while registering guests. He’d claimed to be following the trail of an old friend and superior, an old mage known amongst the coffeehouse revolutionaries as Shrike. He’d disappeared after the collapse of the Rakrya surrounded by a flurry of rumors mostly involving insanity. But it had been a time of chaos and turmoil—what hadn’t been surrounded by rumor then?

Noe pulled her skirt tight around her with her left hand, standing close to Vanderlou to ensure that no scrap of silk ventured out of the circle. So close, as a matter of fact, that the Esh’lahier maid was almost leaning on the half-elven adjurator. He could feel the light shiver of anticipation running through his companion as she waited with clear anticipation for—whatever it was that adjurators did. She’d no idea, to be perfectly honest, but she did approve of cheating. The world was not a fair thing—why should she?

Francis’ spirit writhed and twisted in the bounds of Vanderlou’s invisible familiars; his mouth snapping open and shut like a fish thrown upon dry land and gasping for air. His arms grappled with his stomach, scrabbling against ghostly flesh as if trying desperately and futilely to push his entrails back into his body. Long minutes passed before he responded to the adjurator’s command. His empty eyes focused first on Vanderlou and then on Noe, his gaze flickering in confusion between the two before settling on Vanderlou.

“I didn’t see who attacked me.” His response was a wail imbued with deep frustration and raise. “The room was dark, darker than it had any right to be even on a winter night.”

His words faded away into mumbles and cries.

“I was supposed to meet her though. Oh! Won’t you tell her what’s happened to me? She’ll be in danger too. Her name was—is—Judith. She’s a nurse. She helped me ease Shrike’s last days.”
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Old January 20, 2011, 11:23 AM   #15 (permalink)
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It was a poor lead, but given the circumstance there was little else to follow. Evidence around them could've been tampered, true he could turn over each and every shred of fabric to filter out truth from fiction. He could also observe the tell-tale patterns of blood and determine the direction from where the strike had been made - even the weapon of choice in this murder but he had given him a name and suggested that the woman might be next in line of these series of murders - if they were going to pursue this trail it would be ideal to bring someone along to support their claims but... No, he wouldnt be able to work his tricks with an audience watching his every move.

"And where is Judith residing at the moment? What time and where were you planning to see her?" time was of the essence, if he played his cards right he could save a life. Francis' life might have been forfeit but there was still a life to be saved here.

He whispered something unintelligible that wasn't meant for Noe's ears. As close as she was there was certainly no way she couldn't have heard him, but understanding his cryptic serpentine dialogue was impossible. In moments, a rush of cold air and the rusting sound of something - a broom of all things - out the window brought a small smile of satisfaction on Vanderlou's lips.

"I just asked the man how he died, he didn't know the method or the perpetrator but he gave me a lead. I'll send him back if you don't have any questions of your own, then once we're done we have to unlock the doors and hurry." if she did Vanderlou would be quick to translate them and as soon as she was finished he would quickly send him away with a promise that he would try to save Judith. This would appease the ghost and would sever a powerful bond tying him to this realm.

Hopefully the people downstairs wouldn't give them trouble, they were on a strict timetable and if need be he would use his usual means of travel - the flying broom to ferry his person and Noe's to wherever they needed to be - with her directions of course.
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