Break the Darkness

Kaeleer => Scelt => Narshe Province => Topic started by: Gavin Berkeley on February 19, 2016, 11:58:00 PM

Title: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on February 19, 2016, 11:58:00 PM
Though he was still adjusting to the life and schedule of being Master of the Guard of a Province, Gavin still tried to find time to get out of the castle and continue his search for his sister. Gathering information had become easier with the rank he held; anything he asked was sure to get an almost immediate response, and as a part of the Province Court, it would not have been altogether odd to find him in various parts of the Province.

This time, he'd wandered further afield than he had thus far, making his way on the Winds to a medium-sized town (in Narshe's standards, in any case) in the middle of the Province. Compared to other towns he'd been in, he would have called this one small, but even the Province Seat would have hardly counted as a large town on the mainland of Kaeleer. The town he'd landed himself in would have very nearly fit inside the palace grounds of the Court he'd grown up in.

Gavin held his cloak shut a little more tightly as he began to look around at the buildings lining the streets. At least the sun was out, though it did little to warm the day. It was rare, he'd found, that it was sunny and clear in the winter. No matter how pleasant it looked outside, the air in Narshe was more likely to be sharp and cold.

There were a few brave souls out and about on the streets, though they seemed to be scurrying from one place to the next, their breath visible in small puffs that emitted from their hoods and quickly dissipated.

Calling into his free hand the portrait he had had made of what he thought his sister would look like now, he ducked into the one small general store that the town had after one of the figures.

The store was dimly lit, and there wasn't much in the way of goods out for display or for sale. A few more people stood huddled in a group, and the figure he'd followed in made for them, lowering his hood as he approached.

"Excuse me," Gavin said, his voice just loud enough to get their attention. When they'd looked over and a few raised their eyebrows, he approached and held up the portrait. "Have any of you seen a young woman who... looks sort of like this?"

They shook their heads.

"I see. Thank you." He turned back to the door, and greeted the cold again.

The next few places he looked were much the same; the few huddled pairs and small groups of people scattered about the town, some in small shops, others huddled around small bonfires they'd made in the open. It had been something of a shot in the dark, in any case. As he'd made his way around town, the wind had begun to pick up, and almost unnoticed, clouds began to creep in on the sun.

Finally, he made his way around to the town's inn. Steeling himself for the latest round of disappointment, he pushed open the door, and looked around the room. Where to start? There was a table of old men nearer to the fire that was looking thin, a few younger couples, a handful of chattering ladies, and the occasional individual at their own table. The innkeeper was probably the logical place to start, and then work from there...
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on February 22, 2016, 09:08:14 AM
It had been a long day. Days? Alene wasn't quite certain anymore: she vaguely recalled sleeping at some point, but then, she had also recalled a nightmare and it had fortified her resolve to delay sleep again for as long as she could. Despite the muzziness on certain components of life, the woman's acuity still couldn't be cast into doubt. There was something alertly attentive about her pale eyes, something assessing as she measured each person in turn.

They were all discarded from her estimation, though. They weren't what she was looking for. Looking for? Was she meant to be looking for something? The Black Widow Healer bit the inside of her cheek - hard. She could taste the copper in her mouth: it gave rise to an unsettling nauseous sensation but that, at least, Alene could choke back.

The witch took a moment to regain her composure. The dimness of the inn's first floor was offset by the more inconsistent firelight, supplemented by a handful of lamps around the perimeter. It was a comfortably dusky gloom within which the woman could let her eyes glaze as she stared at nothing in particular: she was too busy looking inward, reflecting on the? The dream? the Tangled Web? For a moment, Alene trembled, the fragile grasp between what might have been imagined and what was very tangibly real, slipping. The bright copper taste of blood on her tongue brought her back. The vision. It had to have been a vision.

Nets, searching, seeking, criss-crossing this way and that but every time that it seemed something - something, something important - was nearly caught, the tethers snagged, the twine tore. The lee-lines were anchored into something, something that should have been strong enough to keep them together, the Gray, but every time, it came up missing.

She could have delved deeper. She should have - what it was that was ensnaring the net, that was tearing the fabric apart, what the search was for, but she hadn't. Couldn't. Wouldn't?

With a blink, the glassiness of her expression dissipated. Alene came back to herself, the muted tones of conversation washing over her. "- Caoran's Master of the Guard," a woman's voice murmured. There had been a gasp of-? Shock? Exclamation? Alene couldn't quite ascertain which. "The Province Court - " another male continued and her attention was lost again: what was someone from Fiorsli doing here?

The witch's senses were extended cautiously. At the level of the Green - but more? The images from her vision flickered through her memory, and Alene carefully reached out along the level of the Gray: it should have been an instantly tangible thing, but it seemed that the Prince had preferred not to make a statement.

Someone jostled into the table that had provided such an excellent source of eavesdropping. "Looking for someone, y'know. A woman," a new male voice added: he made himself sound to be an authority on the subject. The witch at the table sighed and Alene paused to consider if she found his statement trustworthy enough: was he simply trying to seem informed? Her pale gaze assessed the Prince for a moment before she let her eyes return to the flickering nature of the firelight.

*You will not find her here*
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on February 22, 2016, 04:06:17 PM
The innkeeper had shaken his head, a hard look in his eye. He'd asked why Gavin was looking for her, and the hard look had softened when he'd told the man she was missing. The rest of the details, Gavin didn't need to disclose, and to his relief the innkeeper didn't try to pry. There were others around that had listened to the exchange, and Gavin had turned to a few of them and shown them the picture, but with the same result he had gotten to date. A thoughtful look and a shake of the head, sometimes with an apology attached.

What he didn't expect was the sudden whisper at the level of the Gray.

His head whipped up, looking around for the source as a small probe sweeping the area of the building, finding the source of the Gray much closer than he'd thought. He hadn't noticed the dark hum when he'd entered, or if he had his mind was elsewhere and had dismissed it as a strange echo of his own Jewels. Indeed, the other Gray was also a Birthright Green.

He picked out the woman across the room; both the Gray and the Green could only have come from one other person, as there was nothing below a Rose Birthright in the room. The psychic probe had immediately narrowed down his search to the table where a lone figure sat looking to the fire.

Confusion and surprise masked again, Gavin politely extricated himself from his current conversation, which was less than helpful anyway. He wound his way through the myriad of table and chairs that were mostly unoccupied on his way to the woman's table.

As he approached, one piece of the confusion he'd felt eased a touch with the realization of "Black Widow" settling into the back of his mind. He hadn't known many Black Widows, but he had always respected them and their Craft, and had never found a personal reason (besides that of some common sense) to fear them without cause. He stopped in front of the table, finding another impression of "Healer" along with Black Widow.

Carefully, he laid out the poster in front of the woman, and watched her carefully. There was a particularly harsh rattling of the windows as another blast of wind hit the side of the building.

"What do you mean, I won't find her here?" he asked quietly, trying to keep his voice low enough that not many others would hear. Not that every ear in the place wouldn't be looking for gossip fodder. "What do you know?"
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on February 22, 2016, 04:21:24 PM
Quiet murmuring from the table alongside her was enough to keep Alene awash in information: they made no effort to conceal their topic of conversation (the Province Court's Master of the Guard, specifically, and what it was that he thought to find in this town). A lover, one suggested. A wife? proposed another. They all agreed, whomever it was that he was looking for had to have been important.

It was a quiet hum in the background as Alene watched the tongues of flame flicker and throw light in sporadic bursts. Her attention was more ensnared by the psychic probe - it was a delicate touch, but not subtle enough to hide from another Gray. Instead of erecting a hard wall for the probe to ricochet off of, the Black Widow Healer allowed the light touch. He had questions, after all. He had things he was looking for.

So did she.

Except no Province Court's Master of the Guard could find what she was looking for - Gray Jewel or no. Sensing his approach, Alene fought desperately to rein her mind into some semblance of order, of something that might parallel reality. Dreams were visions. Tangled Webs. The future and the past were eerie, dissonant layers over the present but they were real. She was not mad. No. No. None of that now, Alene thought, swallowing compulsively. An echo of copper residue was all that lingered from the bite to her cheek but it was enough.

Only when paper rustled and the Prince lay his poster down on the table did Alene's attention settle completely on him. Her pale stare was unblinking for the longest moment, a disconcerting assessment to the male's question.

"You won't find her here."

It was a softly spoken reiteration of what her thread to him had stated once. There was no bite of temper, just an absent sense of stating a fact.

"I know," Alene repeated, "that you will not find her here." She blinked again and the witch's eyes came into sharper focus, a clearer line of sight. Looking up at the male, her expression was impassive: to suggest that she needed to explain how she knew seemed absurd, to her. Explaining was a messy, tedious affair, anyway.

Although people always seemed to want it, all the same. "Nets and snags and holes."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on February 22, 2016, 06:44:24 PM
Gavin's brow furrowed at the response. He had gotten next to no new information out of his questions. Then again, dealing with Black Widows, it was almost expected that there would be some level of obfuscation to contend with; Black Widows were not exactly known for being entirely forth-coming with their answers and explanations.

Gavin gestured to the portrait on the table again.

"Have you seen this girl?" he asked more plainly. "Please. If you've seen her, in visions or otherwise, if you know where she might be, tell me."

He didn't know if he was likely to get much further with his entreaties, but was the first answer other than "no" that he had gotten, and he was willing to pursue it just a little bit further. Of course, it was still early in his search, and he would have been surprised to find a concrete lead so soon. At the best, he was grasping at straws, in any case.

Patience, he told himself. Patience, and a good amount of luck. The rumor he had followed back to Scelt had originated in one of the towns not far from the Province Seat, and it had been one of the first places he had gone to check. Of course, the witnesses, if they could be called it, were uncertain at best and downright ridiculous at worst.

There was almost nothing to go on but that a young woman roughly matching Corri's description and Jewels had been seen in the area. It shouldn't have been notable, except for that she had a peculiar tattoo that had made her - a stranger in a small town - stick out more than she would have otherwise. She'd said that she was Sceltan, but her accent and her mannerisms had screamed of the mainland, the locals had told Gavin.

It was a wonder that the news had reached back to him at all, but by some happy chance, one of the merchants who traded in Scelt and the Territory he'd spent much more of his life in had heard the rumor and remembered Gavin himself. The story of the Gray-Jeweled Prince's missing sister, friend to the Queen's daughter, was one of the sad tales that was brought up on occasion when conversations turned to "what ifs." He'd nearly gotten used to it by the time he'd left.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on February 22, 2016, 11:22:29 PM
Alene’s eyes followed the Prince’s gesticulations. He was pointing at the poster but Alene didn’t need to look at it to know her answer. Still, there was a certain degree of respect that necessitated a response: the witch looked at the portrait. As she had expected, the face that stared out from it was an unfamiliar one.

She shook her head.

It was a small gesture. She hadn’t wanted to give any more fodder to the table nearby, but from the sudden hushed whispers off to the side, it was a lost cause. For a moment, Alene almost seemed like she was going to take it. With the fire before her and the dim, inconsistent light, there was nothing that felt like it required a pressing need for silence.. for privacy.

But then the images from the Tangled Web flickered through her mind again. It was enough.

An aural shield, backed by the Gray, went up in a matter of seconds. Alene’s lucid gaze rested back on the Prince, as she fought to keep a hold of the threads of thought that all ran in tangled skeins in her mind. It was.. agonizingly hard, but something tolled sharply in her mind. This was important. It was important, and she had to stay present. In the present.

“Not her,” Alene replied at last. “Not a where. Not a who.” She settled back into the chair, bringing the drapes of cloth from her cloak more closely about her. “Nets. Lee-lines. Snags and holes.”

And everything laced with the power of the Gray. It wasn’t hers, she realized. Initially she thought that it might have been her. What net was she setting - or set to be entrapped in. But now, it made sense. In the blink of an eye, perspective had recalibrated everything and the masculine touch in the vision had been integrated more seamlessly. This. This made sense. This was whole.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on February 23, 2016, 02:45:53 PM
Gavin's shoulder slumped slightly as the Gray-Jeweled woman shook her head ever so slightly. It would have been too much to ask to have something that specific. He drew in a steadying breath, and set his mind to the next question again.

The shield that came to life around the two dark-Jeweled individuals set them apart from the rest of the room enough to have a more private conversation. A glance away from the Black Widow told him that the others in the room, including the ones who had been listening to them, hadn't noticed anything. Once the two of started speaking, and the others found they couldn't hear, however, they would realize.

The woman's words were still very confusing, and Gavin shook his head. He pulled out another chair from the table and carefully sat down. It seemed as though this conversation might take a while...

"I'm sorry," he started. "I don't think I follow. Not a where? Not a who?"

Not that it was entirely unexpected to have a Black Widow's words be as obtuse as they were. He'd just hoped that in asking a clarifying question that perhaps the answers would also become a little more clear.

He glanced around again, the other table had realized that there was a barrier between them and their gossip, now, and were looking disappointed. Gavin frowned at them, and they pretended that they'd never been trying to listen in the first place.

Looking back at the Black Widow, he explained a little more. "This woman is my sister. Any information at this point would be a boon."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on February 23, 2016, 03:06:26 PM
For a moment, Alene fought the urge to - to what? To leave? To excuse herself from this highly uncomfortable encounter that she had invited in the first place? The instinct was ruthlessly repressed in a quick, nasty mental battle that left her feeling somewhat shaky. Already engaging in an interpretation of Craft that left her unsteady, to have to combat herself so heatedly to even remain - here, remain sitting, remain staring up at the Prince with a passive expression that still did nothing to hide the clarity of sight, although her focus drifted between the present and something internal as easily as she breathed.

"Tangled Webs," the dual caste witch began quietly, "don't often show... specifics. It isn't that it shows a picture of reality." In many ways, Alene thought that might be worse. Already, fighting the sense of deja vu was overwhelming. If visions paralleled reality, she would never know waking from dreaming.

For a moment, the Gray Jeweled female struggled. "You won't find her here."

Her teeth worried the inside of her cheek, evoking a sting. Ah. Yes. She had bitten it earlier, although the sting was enough to help her focus her thoughts. Reality. Tangled Webs. A.. sister?

Alene's expression morphed into something quietly somber. Looking longer at the portrait now, she took in the features. It was a fair likeness of a woman, she thought, and she could see the similarities to the man in front of her. She brought her hands into her lap as she inhaled slowly through her nose.

"I'm sorry." A pause, and an exhale. "You won't find her here. I can't tell you more than that. Your nets - nets anchored by you, set by you, however you choose to envision it - they'll come up empty here. Torn wide on snags, torn open and whatever you might have caught, found.. it's gone. I don't know if it was ever here. But I know you won't find her here."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on February 23, 2016, 03:35:06 PM
The intricacies of a Black Widow's Craft was known to few but the covens themselves, especially those secrets of the Tangled Webs. While Gavin had known that it wasn't so much like looking into the future and seeing what was going to happen, that it required some interpretation, the fact that it was rarely specific at all was new information.

Again the repeated phrase that he wouldn't find Corri there. He'd gotten that much already. Unfortunately, that seemed to be the only thing he'd gotten. It was all Gavin could do to not keep insisting on getting more information.

Some sort of change came over the Black Widow, something very small, and she looked more closely at the portrait in front of her. The artist Gavin had found to do the portrait had done a very good job, managing to capture the similarities between the siblings and still make her look slightly other. Corri had always had a little bit more of a mainland look to her, through her father. The small portrait Gavin had of her had helped immensely, he thought. The Prince leaned forward imperceptibly as she did, hoping to catch a flicker of recognition or even momentary bemusement.

Gavin sighed at the Black Widow's pronouncement. The idea of nets and holes at least made sense, finally. The metaphor was a simple one. The phrase "I don't know if it was ever here" stuck in his mind, however. Even the idea that his nets were torn on snags didn't seem to bother him quite so much as the one that his entire search was founded on nothing.

"By here, do you mean this town in particular? The district? The Province?" With the Gray, there was no telling how wide a range a Black Widow's vision could be.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on February 23, 2016, 03:55:13 PM
It took all of Alene's not insignificant self control to curb the spike of frustration that shot through her as the male's line of questioning remained singularly focused. A snarl, a hiss, a flash of temper, all of those options were choked back behind an expression that remained quietly sympathetic. Loss. A man could lose his entire life chasing something he had left behind, or that had left him behind, or that had been taken or given or freely - no. No.

Leashing her mind took a measure of strength that Alene hadn't known she possessed. To do it without pricking her nails into her palm, to bite her lip or her cheek, to ground herself in reality in a physical fashion that distinguished it from a realm entirely separate: that, that surprised her most of all. Releasing the edge of the table, the Black Widow Healer settled back into her chair as she studied the Gray Jeweled Prince.

Relentless. Stern. Determined. And yet...

"Narshe Province's Master of the Guard would know wiser than I, but to lose someone so dear in days when that dear to us can be held against us by another side. You think it shrewd to search so openly?"
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on February 23, 2016, 04:19:23 PM
For a moment, Gavin was stunned. The Black Widow's words took a moment to really sink in, and when they had, he couldn't quite believe what it was she had told him. There was no hint of a veiled threat, merely words that in the voice of another could sound like one; Black Widows may have threatened when they needed to, but in this case, it would have been a ridiculous one.

While there was certainly truth to the Black Widow's words, Gavin was just as happy to not heed them. True, the Territory was slowly falling into what looked to be another civil war, the likes of which had not been seen in generations. True, the politics and intrigues of the Blood Courts would use whatever they could find without a moment of remorse if it meant they could get what they wanted. True, his sister was dear to him. True, he was searching openly for her.

But he hadn't asked to get wrapped up in Court politics, on the Province level or the Territory level. He had taken up the offer once it had been given, but his search for his sister had been what had brought him to the Territory in the first place. Without that, he would never have met Aderyn, and would never have gotten mixed up in all of this.

"I'll search how I please, thank you," Gavin said quietly. "If I don't do it now, I might not get another chance. And I'm not playing games in politics. I'm done with that."

He might have said something else, but the door to the inn flew open, and was quickly shut again as another newcomer entered. The snow, which had been barely falling earlier, was whipping around in a frenzy now.

"Getting difficult to see, out there," Gavin heard the newcomer say. "Looks like it might be a blizzard until later in the evening."

Gavin frowned, and inwardly sighed. Just what he needed.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on February 23, 2016, 10:43:07 PM
Reality was a cold, harsh mistress and it was one that Alene typically cherished more willingly than she was doing in that moment. It flooded into her mind with the expression that the Master of the Guard had on his features as she spoke. Incredulity flickered over her face. How could he have been surprised by it? How could he be so - ! For a moment, it was the Gray Jeweled witch’s turn to have a bemused expression on her face.

For a moment, her clear eyes settled on the male a fraction longer. She would have cast her gaze to the fire instead of having to regard the male as her own thoughts raced and spun around each other, spinning out of control, but then - then the door slammed open, the wind seizing it and wresting it from the grasp of the male who had blundered into the inn, his words cheerfully informative in a way that the woman might have sworn over if -


“Mother Night,” Alene hissed, a spark of irritation rising in her breast. Nothing about this cursed place was going to be convenient. Nothing about this forsaken Territory would be obliging. That much was clear. Convoluted visions, confusing politics, and thick-headed males.

Resigning herself to the reality that, barring madness or desperation, she was going nowhere in the nearest of futures, she crossed her arms over her chest as her attention drifted back to the Prince. They were both trapped by the weather. They were both ensnared - no torn nets, no snags, no holes, no escape, only whitewhitewhite, only snow and weather and chance and hours and - no.

This time, it really did take effort to bite back a curse learnt in the corner of a smithy. Inhaling slowly, Alene’s right hand settled around her left wrist. With the fingers tucked against her abdomen and the cloak covering it, the nails bit white crescents into the skin. A sting. A pinch. A pain, a reality.

“You think you can say you aren’t a game on a larger chessboard?” Her voice was quieter again, returning to the passive placidity that she had first spoken with. “It was set long before your life was put into motion. And whether you play willingly or not, you remain a piece on the board others would delight in removing, ensnaring, hobbling. What good do you a Queen, a Province, or a Sister, then?”
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on February 28, 2016, 02:02:57 PM
There was some small comfort in the fact that the Black Widow also seemed annoyed with the weather, at least in the sense that it wasn't just Gavin who was feeling that way. He had no desire to be stuck in the small town for longer than he needed to be. But even getting to one of the Gray Winds would require him to walk to nearly the town's edge. Putting that problem aside for the moment was the only thing that he could do. There was little anyone could do to control the weather.

Still frowning a bit, Gavin turned his attention back to the bewildering Black Widow. He was going to need as much of his mind concentrating on the conversation if the rest of the answers he got were as unspecific as the ones he'd gotten already. Perhaps having a little more time for the conversation wasn't entirely a bad thing.

A chessboard seemed to be an apt metaphor for the ever-changing politics of Scelt, and of the Blood in general. He shook his head, knowing that he could not count himself lucky enough to be a piece that had been already taken off the board. He had accepted a position in a Province Court; that was more than enough to irrevocably place him into the game. Even just wearing the Gray was enough for him to be counted as a piece, regardless of whether he was affiliated with a Court or not.

But he'd grown up within the Blood's Courts. Not Scelt's, true, but even if the players changed it wasn't all that different. He had seen the game played for most of his life, he had played the game for a time himself.

"If others wish to see me as a chess piece, that's up to them," he said. "But it's not my game. All I know is that I don't want to regret giving up what may be the one chance I have at finding my sister."

Everything else he wanted to say would have been redundant. In truth, he didn't know what good any of it would do, but it didn't matter. Not really, anyway. In searching for his sister, he had found his Queen. In finding his Queen, he had found a Province, something to protect again. Perhaps it was selfish to ask for more than that, which had already made him feel more like a semblance of his old self and who he wanted to be. Yet he could not help but ask. He could not help but search.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on March 10, 2016, 01:01:29 AM
“Snags. Holes, tears.” Nets dragging against a current that carried them away, twisted and tangled, that destroyed the threads and the fibers and caught nothing but detritus unintended and the murky depths that would - no. This time it was the Black Widow Healer’s tongue that was sharply bitten.


“So you’ll die a piece on someone else’s board rather than on a game of your own. It doesn’t really matter if you agree to the game or not once you’re on the board. Dead is dead.”

Alene curled her fingers around the edge of the table. Wind rattled the shutters over the windows and she sensed that the winter storm blowing into the small town in Narshe would only free them once it had run its course. Had seen to its own ends. She sighed. Enviable - a trajectory, a goal, a purpose, and then to be undissuaded from the purpose at hand.

It wasn’t tangled threads and winding webs that clung or disintegrated or gleamed on the very edge of her subconscious, pulling at her awareness, she knew, it was something she knew but the words, the meaning, the purpose, the interpretation dissolved as her fingertips made to grasp for it every time.

Mother Night.

The witch inhaled slowly through her nose. Firewood. Smoke. The scent of the tavern’s dinner meal from earlier. A biting scent from ales and ciders. The reality she was in. Not nets. Not Tangled Webs. A tavern, with a male, and a blizzard. But it overlayed against a different reality and ended up being so much more.

Alene rubbed her eyes, fighting the clawing tension that threatened to set a throbbing ache in her head. He had purpose. But was he at a cross-purpose with himself?

“Dead is dead, Prince. Your net has holes, now, is unravelling and snagging but if you died it would be gone entirely which seems completely at odds with what you seem to want. You have an odd way of going about your ends.”
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on March 10, 2016, 05:03:15 PM
Gavin took a deep breath and let it out in a huff. The Black Widow was making no more sense now than she had been in the beginning of their conversation. Gavin's mind just didn't, couldn't, comprehend the leaps of logic and some of the metaphors she was dealing in. The chess made sense. He was still iffy on the nets and holes and all the rest. There were plenty of ways those metaphors could be taken, and without any more context, he was lost.

The Prince really was unsure of what point the Black Widow was driving at.

"I know that," Gavin grumbled. "Dead is dead, believe me, I know. Others can use me as a chess piece all they want, but I will do what I can and do what I must. It's gotten me far enough."

The Black Widow's attention seemed to waver, though to what, Gavin didn't know. It gave him moments to try and recenter his thoughts, though. Were all Black Widows like this, or was it just this one, he wondered.

And yet, there was that same, elusive point that the Black Widow seemed so insistent upon pressing. Gavin didn't understand, no matter which way he set his mind to attacking the statements. Resigning himself to perpetual confusion for the rest of the conversation, the Prince sighed. Hopefully the blizzard outside would be short.

"I have no plans on dying anytime soon. Not that it's something I can necessarily control," he admitted. "It's not perfect, it's not logical, but I can't sit still. I can't stand feeling like I'm doing nothing."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on March 10, 2016, 06:06:28 PM
Alene wondered if it was a common feeling: to want to reach over and shake the male. It might rattle sense into his brain. On the other hand, it might open up the door to assorted threats of throttling, which she was less fond of. It had been years: years, and a Gray Jewel, and a dual caste witch, did much to dissuade casual threats. Even ones meant fondly.

Glaring again at the windows, she sighed. Blizzards. “Not far enough.”

It was an absent minded correction. The weather outside the door was getting worse, and it was clear that not even stubborn determination would be enough to get her out of this establishment. Kicking her boots off under the table, the woman brought her stockinged feet up to the chair. Shifting, curling them underneath her, the length of her dress’s hem was enough to fall over her feet and her legs as she leaned back again, resettled for the moment.

Her attention fell back to the male. “If you’re looking still, if you’re still not finding, it hasn’t gotten you far enough. Not what you want.”

Alene’s hands settled to the edge of the table, her fingers curling around the wood there. It was a physical anchor, one that didn’t require sharpness or blood or grief or - her jaw tightened. None of that. Not tonight. Not now. She sighed, heavily.

“Nets. Your search, but every time, you get…stopped. Holes. Everything you do has a reaction. You came here and got stopped by a blizzard - a snag, and maybe that’s why you wouldn’t find her here, or maybe she was never here to begin with.”
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on March 10, 2016, 09:37:36 PM
Gavin tried to just... sit. He tried. He tried as hard as he could to just let his brain do the work, and puzzle out what in the world the Black Widow was talking about. Oh, he understood bits and pieces, but still that main point eluded him. It was like... no, it wasn't like she was speaking in riddles, she was speaking in riddles. Or at least metaphors. For a moment, Gavin wished that he'd spent more time fishing, that he might understand it a little better.

The Prince shoved his growing annoyance down as fas as he could in order to try and think... straight? In loops and circles and swirls? Despite that the Black Widow had been repeating herself for nearly the entirety of their conversation, it still felt like the words were jumbled and nonsensical. Like every new reply was woven back into the others in an intricate knot.

Now he was the one thinking in metaphors, and it was starting to make his head spin.

Leaning his elbows on the table, he let his face rest in his hands for a moment and massaged his temples. As if that would help. Would that he was so fortunate that his headache could be cured by that.

"Look," Gavin said, eyes closed and still rubbing his temples. "Can we just... forget the nets and the holes for a moment. Please. I don't know what you see, how... far you can see, or anything like that. Whatever you are trying to warn me about, thank you. I admit I'm still lost, but thank you. I'll try to remember it anyway."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on March 14, 2016, 01:17:57 AM
She knew that she wasn’t the only one who was frustrated, but the fact that it was because she simply couldn’t grasp the right words.. They slipped away from her, and the more that she fought to hold onto them, the more quickly the right thing to say disintegrated under her touch. Alene could see the irony in it. What she was chiding the Prince - trying, anyway - about was the same thing that she was doing.

To a degree, at any rate. She leaned back with a sigh. Letting go of the table with her right hand, she let it settle under the sleeve of the cloak that she hadn’t bothered taking off when she came into the inn. Absently, she thought that perhaps she might do so now.

It was clear that she would be here for hours longer.

As she mused over the situation, her fingers traced the network of scars that wrapped their way up her forearms. The illusion spell, backed with the Grey, concealed the marks but did little to disguise the texture. It was something she had never worried about before. Would it be worth doing? Was it a concern that she should have? Why was touch such an integral thing? Where had that development ha - no.

Alene blinked, willing her mind into the present. Sparks kicked out from the fire and smoke flavored the air. She sighed. Maybe once she could escape this place and feel the bite of the winter weather on her face again it would be less challenging to keep her grasp on her mind. The harder she had to fight for it though, the more willfully it slipped the leash.

Watching the Prince rub at his temples, the Black Widow Healer cocked her head to the side. “Very well.”

At least it would remove the incessant press of jumbled words that made perfect sense until they were actually spoken. Tension was evident in Prince Berkeley: she wondered how much of it was because of her own ambiguity.

After a moment of silence, Alene couldn’t repress instinct any longer. “Are you unwell?”
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on March 14, 2016, 10:02:22 PM
Gavin tried to ignore the headache that had been slowly creeping up on him from talking in circles too much. Rubbing his temples was helping a little bit, but his mind was still trying to piece together all the possible meanings of what the Black Widow had meant. It was, he decided, an impossible task. If not even the Gray-Jeweled Black Widow herself could tell him what her words meant, there was little chance that he was going to be able to understand it.

"Thank you," he breathed, as she acquiesced to drop the conversation that had caused him the headache. The rest of his breath left him in a soft whoosh and he dropped his hands back down to the table. Threading his fingers together, he glanced back over at the Black Widow.

He blinked at her, uncertainly. Until that point he had been watching her, but not looking all that closely at her expressions. He wasn't sure he could have articulated just what her expression was, in any case. The Prince was used to dealing with the various masks of nonchalance and careful neutrality that were common in the Courts, but this was something different. This was... well, he wasn't sure.

"Sorry?" he said, unsure if he'd heard her question correctly. "I'm... uh..."

He didn't think he was unwell. Unless the headache could be counted as such, he would have said he was feeling just fine. Tired, yes. Stressed, yes. Mentally drained, absolutely. But unwell?

"I'm fine, thank you," he settled on. Then, remembering his manners, continued, "Apologies, Lady. My name is Gavin Berkeley, Master of the Guard for Province Queen Aderyn Llewellyn of Narshe."

The feel of the title after his name was still odd; he wasn't quite used to hearing it yet, especially not from his own lips. He could have just as easily left it off, he supposed, in a setting like this. Perhaps it was how his mind had decided to try and put him back on even ground, though there was no real need for it. Maybe he wasn't as well as he thought. He would have time to figure it out, however, with the blizzard coming through...
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on March 29, 2016, 10:07:35 AM
Alene tilted her head at the Prince. He seemed uncertain about the nature of her question - or, on reflection, as he struggled for words, the actual answer. Her brow wrinkled lightly as she frowned. How hard of a query was it? She blinked: apparently it was more complicated than she realized. Although she would allow that there were a number of things she didn't always realize. Or understand. Or manage to put together, and words themselves were often a chief culprit of such frustrations because if she could just make it make sense then they could understand and the comprehension wouldn't be an issue and it wouldn't be jumbled together and - ...

"You seem uncertain of your answer," the witch commented after a moment. Her voice was absent. Alene was far afield, busier fighting the tangled skeins of her own thought process (tentatively threaded through the conversation).

After a steadying breath, her eyes turned to the shutters of the tavern. They rattled with a particularly enthusiastic gust of wind. Beyond the panes of glass, she was certain the world was in a very particular form of chaos but within the room, it was warm and, she supposed, welcome. To most. Being stuck in a tavern was quite possibly the very last thing that the Black Widow Healer had wanted to deal with. Or at least, made the top section of the list.

Stilling her hands - each clasped loosely around the opposing forearm - the witch blinked again at the Prince. She was bemused this time. "I...know?"

At least, she thought she knew. She had known - but had she known before, and the tavern itself only confirmed a suspicion? Or was it something she had known? Or simply the whispers at the questions he asked as they reached her before she did?

"Well. Not your full name," Alene settled after a moment. A pause. "Oh. Ah," a pause as she blinked. There was Protocol for situations like these - but... "I'm honored to make your acquaintance, Prince Berkeley."

And she might have left it there until her own rather bemused thoughts caught up with her. "Oh," she exclaimed more feelingly this time, under her breath. Right. "I'm Alene MacKenna."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on April 08, 2016, 05:15:29 PM
Well, Gavin was already back to being confused. He was getting used to people knowing who he was now; there weren't many Gray-Jeweled Princes in that corner of Scelt, and as Master of the Guard he was getting quite a lot of attention, anyway. That she said she knew who he was, then, was not the confusing part. It was how she said it that made him confused.

At least there was still some small bit of Protocol to fall back into in order to hide it. Protocol was useful in so many ways, and while Gavin had gotten used to some of the aspects of hiding behind it, there were more things that he was appreciating in an entirely different way now that he was in a higher position in the Court. There were more things that he was understanding that he'd heard over the years from those higher up the chain from him, as well.

The Prince fixed a polite smile on his face as the Black Widow introduced herself, and made something approaching a bow while sitting.

He cleared his throat. "Well, now that introductions are out of the way..."

Had there not been a blizzard outside, he would have excused himself to continue searching. In his current predicament, however, it was either converse with the locals, or continue to engage with the other dark-Jeweled individual. The latter was marginally more appealing at that moment.

"I am interested in what a Gray-Jeweled Black Widow would be doing out here," he started, the smile becoming a little more genuine. "It couldn't be that you're here just to tell me I'm looking in all the wrong places."

With how circular her answers had been, however, Gavin could easily believe that was exactly the case. Logic, on the other hand, told him it couldn't.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on April 11, 2016, 09:52:18 AM

As far as she could tell, the Master of the Guard seemed to be as at a loss as Alene had found herself. Although, the witch thought, it wasn't that she didn't know what she wanted to say. He simply didn't seem to.. understand it.

The shutters rattled again and Alene glanced to the side to watch. The firelight cast shadows along the wall, the thrum of conversation outside the aural shield that she had set having lowered in the minutes since the Prince had seated himself. It seemed they were as resigned as she to wait out the night. Drawing her arms against her, the woman's eyes dropped to where one hand's fingers clasped loosely about her wrist. There was no concealment of the darkened nails, where the pressed lightly into the skin of her forearm.

Secrets. That wasn't the secret. No need to hide that - or the other really, her mind chided. Not those things. Those were alright. But what was concealed needed to stay there, and it was as if a list ticked through her mind with every bump her fingers found over her skin.

Where - why - how. Now? Who for? But why? But the reason - but the way?

Finding that she had taken her lower lip between her teeth as she had thought, Alene tried to relax. Tried to bring herself into the present. Tried to answer the question that he had asked, tried to find the words - Mother Night, damn the words.

"I needed to be here," she replied at last. The tone of voice was matter of fact - and she knew, already, how painfully inadequate the reason was. "There's something - it's just..." Alene broke off, meeting his eyes for the first time in what felt like an eternity. How long had she been in her own mind? "I needed to be here."

And then she blinked, the internal tension shattering in a second. Tilting her head  at him, the witch found herself appraising one, Gavin Berkeley, Master of the Guard of Narshe Province with vague bemusement.


A pause. "Gray-Jeweled Black Widow Healer."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on May 13, 2016, 07:33:30 PM
The Black Widow's answer did leave something to be desired, though Gavin had finally found it within himself to not comment on it. He even managed not to sigh. He would just accept it and move on with the conversation.

A conversation that, it seemed, was conspiring to continually go to unexpected places. He blinked as his mind processed the information he had just been given. He looked closer at the woman across the table from him, as if that would somehow reveal something previously unseen.

With the small revelation of Black Widow Healer, whatever little oddities he had picked up on earlier fell into place. He hadn't quite noticed the scent of Healer behind that of Black Widow, but now that he was looking for it, it was there and they was unmistakably linked. He felt a little embarrassed for not having noticed; he spent how much time with a Healer Queen and didn't recognize the secondary scent of another dual caste Healer?

"Oh," was all he could say for a minute.

Accept it and move on, he told himself. Just like the other stuff. Usually, an unexpected revelation wouldn't throw the Prince so much, but after feeling like he'd been chasing the conversation in circles, his mind was already... off.

Eventually, he cleared his throat. "I take it that you're not originally from this... village, Lady MacKenna. Despite whatever you needed to be here for, I can't imagine there's much else to do here. Perhaps once you've found what you needed to be here for, you'll come to Caorán? It's bound to be more interesting than a small village like this."

Despite that he had become much more familiar with such small villages, Gavin had grown up in Courts and cities and didn't know if he would ever be able to find the slow pace of the countryside as relaxing as others seemed to find it.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on August 08, 2016, 12:04:17 PM
He was, Alene concluded, a very baffling creature. Were all males so peculiar? Or perhaps it was just the weather that had put him out of sorts. Did he not like taverns? What was it that he was looking for? Oh, yes, to some degree the witch could already have presented an answer for that query but what did he really want? Why did he want it?

And why, she wondered, did he want information on such an unprompted topic as villages?


For a moment, a helpless expression merged with features set in frustration. This was pedestrian conversation that everyone seemed to know, adhere to. It was a script but no one had ever bothered to teach the narrative to the Black Widow Healer.

He was being polite, and it was enough to set her floundering.

She found her gaze focusing on something other than the Prince. A shower of sparks kicked up with the popping of a log. From behind the spells that concealed their own conversation, a brief uproar of raucous laughter indicated that other individuals had been more cheerful about their entrapment than the pair of Gray Jeweled individuals seated at their own table. Ale and wine were flowing freely, overtaking the scent of food that the establishment had run out of perhaps an hour prior.

"Glacia's winters are colder than this." Wind set the walls to shuddering again. "I suppose it's the mountains. There's no coast to keep the climate more temperate. Although I'm coming to understand that snow isn't altogether uncommon for at least parts of this Territory."

Alene's attention abruptly refocused on the Master of the Guard. They didn't have food. Or drinks. And if they were going to have to wait - perhaps for hours into the night, at which point travel was pointless anyway - then..?

She searched for the words. "Would you care for a drink?" An assessing eye weighed the bar counter itself, the glasses behind it, the merriment of the Warlord who managed things quite adeptly. A flicker of humor twisted itself into her smile. "I don't suppose I'll have much luck finding tea, but I'm open to being surprised."


"Interesting is a peculiar word to use. Do you like things to be interesting, Prince?" Alene considered it for a moment. "I'm from Glacia. And I'm here for something but it isn't time for it to be happening yet." Her expression seemed attentive. "Do you suppose Caoran is a nice sort of interesting?"
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on August 19, 2016, 06:04:52 PM
Small talk wasn't necessarily what Gavin preferred, but it did offer a convenient way to retreat from the confusion of the previous conversation and let him recover his wits. At first, he wasn't sure if the Black Widow would respond. All the Black Widows he'd met had been a little off in their own worlds, but this one seemed especially so.

When she did respond, it was comfortably normal. The Prince nodded.

"This is apparently quite normal, more's the pity, I suppose. I wouldn't have minded if the Province didn't see snow for a few more months." Snow was better as a novelty, in Gavin's opinion; while the cold and wet was survivable for months on end, it was not his favorite.

The question of drinks was another hint at normality, despite being unexpected. The Prince's expression softened, almost becoming a smile. "Something warm to drink in this weather sounds lovely."

Modifying the aural shields that he had sent up around them what seemed like ages ago, he called over one of the servers who had been meandering through the room. While there was little (if any) food to be had, there was plenty of drink. Thankfully for Gavin, they had coffee.

Gavin hadn't considered whether Caorán was a nice sort of interesting. He hadn't even really thought about what a "nice sort of interesting" was. It was different than what he was used to, and yet somehow still felt more and more normal. He wasn't sure if he would ever feel entirely comfortable, but it was already much easier to reconcile the Territory of his birth as a new place to call home.

Lady MacKenna's comment that what she was in Scelt for was not happening yet had piqued his interest, but the previous conversation was still too fresh in his mind to even begin trying to approach the subject. It wasn't his business anyway, he told himself.

"It depends on what you mean by 'interesting,' I suppose," the Prince replied. "Caorán is very different than where I spent most of my life, so in that sense it is interesting. I've traveled through Glacia briefly; it's different than there, too. From all that I've seen, I suppose you could call it a... nice sort of interesting."

The city, the Province in general, was a bit insular and often standoffish to outsiders, but beyond that it was warm and close, like a family. Like a small town, with all of its good points and bad.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on December 19, 2016, 12:16:52 PM
Alene sighed.

She had been right: there wasn't any tea to be found. Her brows pursed as she regarded the coffee in front of her. The dark color had been morphed into something lighter with the sugar and cream that had been added. Cautiously sipping at it, the witch felt her features fight to contort into a grimace: if it wasn't bitter, was it still coffee?

Who knew. It still wasn't what she would consider good.

"You have little luck in that regard, from my understanding. Although maybe the snow is the reason it will work. Or maybe it's the reason it won't." The woman shrugged. "Who's to say?"

Although at least it was warm, she thought, as she put the cup down on the table again. Glancing across the table, Alene studied Gavin. He seemed to be enjoying his, at any rate.

Someone should, the Black Widow Healer concluded as her mind wandered. Dregs of cream not fully mixed in dragged in spirals across the surface of her drink. It almost spiderwebbed out from rim to rim, bringing to mind her Tangled Webs. There was no pattern, though. No steps to progress through, to follow the lattice down, but no dissonance from a pattern to draw attention to something that needed to be seen.

Alene blinked, gaze coming into sharper focus. Maybe they were right. Maybe she was crazy, and maybe coffee was just coffee and dreams were just dreams, and snow was snow, and chance was just that: random happenstance set up from completely unaffected variables that had no meaning.

But then the Gray Prince spoke of travel and different places and her mind lurched, pieces falling away underfoot as memory clawed its way up into her consciousness and she wasn't crazy and dreams were not dreams, and chance was never completely isolated.

"I think you'll find something in Scelt," Alene remarked at last. Her eyes were bright in the dim light, gleaming with something that couldn't completely be accredited to the sparking fire in the hearth. "Something is here for you. You match. Interesting, in the same way. A different-interesting."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on December 19, 2016, 09:06:37 PM
Gavin felt a little sorry for the Black Widow as she tried her coffee. Perhaps he ought to tell her that there was tea back at the Province Seat, he thought. Knowing his luck, though, she would insist that they go there right then and there. He could put off saying anything for a while. There was a small part of him that wondered what his Queen would make of the other woman, and another small part that was very hesitant at the idea of the two of them meeting at all.

His own coffee had been dosed with a liberal pour of cream, turning it a slightly lighter shade than the near-black it had been. It was on the edge of too strong for his tastes, but did help to distract him from the cold. He let the heat of the cup seep into his hands and warm his fingers.

The Prince could feel the woman across from him occasionally studying him as he sipped at his coffee. It felt like a very small itch, noticeable but ultimately able to be ignored. The moment the itch was gone, he found his own gaze going to study her. That she was an odd one was the only conclusion he could come to. He almost thought that he could see when she was looking at something else that only she was aware of; he quickly backed away from that thought, not wanting to dwell too much on what Black Widows could see that the rest of them could not.

When she mentioned finding something, something that matched, Gavin's expression softened into an amused smile. There were a few things that the statement could have meant, but there was only one that stood out in his mind.

"I've already found plenty in Scelt," he said. "And not at all what I went searching for. I don't think I need to be a Black Widow to figure out what you mean, this time."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on December 20, 2016, 12:39:33 PM
Peering down at her mug, it was only a matter of seconds to destroy the spider web of cream that had latticed its way across the surface of her coffee: Alene delicately dragged the tip of her index finger over the top of the drink, swirling the lighter color into the rest of the drink. After she had done so, the witch glanced back up. The Prince seemed amused.

Well. It was a far cry better than frustrated.

"That's the thing about searching," the woman continued after a moment's silence. It became clear that Prince Berkeley had no intention of continuing his speech. "You find what you find but it's not necessarily what you were looking for but you find that, too, except not when you seek it."

Alene's tone was nearly pragmatic and it made sense, in a way. At least, as much as anything else the obfuscating female had said in the time that they had been seated together.

She cupped her palms against the ceramic of the mug. Warmth seeped into her skin, a bite against a chill that not even the number of people in the room or the hearths kept stoked and lively could quite eliminate. As the shutters rattled from the wind screeching outside and a draft of winter seemed to breathe its way into the establishment every flame inside seemed to flicker brighter for a heartbeat.

After they had dimmed once more, leaving eyes struggling to readjust to the loss of illumination, Alene was seen to have fallen still. Her palms loosely cupped the inside of the opposite forearm, both of which rested motionlessly on the table. She might have become a statue rather than the living, breathing creature that she must have been.

Except - except.

The witch was fighting to remain as present as she could, the cold wind livening and the warm mug soothing and the cracks of the wood as it sparked startling. The Darkness was less abrupt, less jarring, an alluring drag into truth and answers and dreams and futures and if she just stayed still and let her mind quiet and her Craft - no.

Not now, Alene thought curtly, fingers abruptly tightening around her forearms.

"She wasn't looking and found what she needed because of it.." A pause as humor brightened Alene's expression. "Or in spite of it. Perhaps against her own desires. Your Lady's path is never the smoothly paved, is it."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on December 20, 2016, 05:11:31 PM
Once the Black Widow spoke again, Gavin found his mind chasing her words again. It was, perhaps, inevitable. He shook his head, still with an expression of amusement and mumbled, "And now you're talking in circles again. I can't keep up."

There was some part of it that made sense, or that sounded like it ought to make sense, but the moment Gavin tried to put his finger on what it was it vanished. He was reminded of something that the Healer he had been an escort to had said to him once. She'd told him that "things had a habit of turning up in unexpected places, and it was only when you were looking at something else that you noticed them." It wasn't quite the same as what Alene had said, but there was a similar feeling to it.

Gavin took another long sip of coffee, collecting his thoughts again. Yes, he had certainly not been looking for what he'd found, could never have predicted it. He wouldn't do anything differently if he had to make the choice again -- the piece of him that had suddenly felt more securely in place, the feeling of rightness, knowing those now had made sure of it. But he still wished that there was more satisfaction in his other search.

Gavin drew his cloak a little more closely around him as the chill from outside seemed to creep back in. The shields around the two dark-Jeweled individuals didn't manage to keep that out. As an afterthought, Gavin warmed the air around the table just enough to feel comfortable again.

The Prince tilted his head a little as he watched Alene. Her gaze was far away again, which Gavin was beginning to understand was just how the woman was. He studied her, curious.

At her words, Gavin paled a little. He had to admit that his first meeting with Aderyn had not gone as either of them had planned, but to think that it had all been against her wishes was jarring. Troubling. No matter how much she had needed him.

"No," he replied slowly. "I don't believe that her path has ever been smoothly paved, even when she had the chance for it to be."

Once again, he thought that perhaps he ought to try and bring the Black Widow back with him for Aderyn to meet. Perhaps the Healer Queen could make more sense out of what the woman was saying. And Darkness knew that they could use every ally they could get.
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on December 21, 2016, 09:32:39 AM
Frustration was a white hot sensation threading through her veins. It wasn't often that she was told flat-out that someone couldn't understand. Although it was still less of a sting than watching someone shift uneasily, slowly extricating themselves from a conversation at the nearest opportunity. She was.. difficult. Alene knew that. But not being understood, that - that was a feeling she would wish on no one.

A bright jolt of pain stroked through her consciousness and the Black Widow Healer reflexively eased the grasp she had tightened on her forearm. The sharp prick of a nail had grazed skin in such a way as to draw her out of her own mind.

It always did. A finger traced the uneven, pebbled skin; left roughened by scars.

"You sat there," Alene began, words less certain than they had been in the entire conversation. "It was one choice of many. But you sat there, so someone else didn't, and we are having this conversation instead of any other you might have had if you sat somewhere else." The witch carefully brought her hands away from her arms. Lacing her fingers together, she shoved them both into her lap as she leaned forward.

She inhaled slowly through her nose. Exhaling in the same way, she continued.

"If you.. make choices to look for something, sometimes you find yourself farthest from it. But when you don't look, your choices, your future comes to overlap with what you wish to seek." A quicksilver smile, her eyes intent on his. "Search for a witch, find a Queen instead. Search for a Queen, find a war."

A smile, knowing and familiar in a way that perhaps it shouldn't have been.

"Look for sovereignty, find a Master of the Guard."

Alene blinked though, when it seemed that she might have continued. The cadence of her words, which had begun as a slow, careful choice, had picked up cadence as she found herself more certain of what she was speaking of. Glimmers of insight from what she had seen, but then the.. rationality that she knew to be true. Finding the words to convey those to him. Searching was very different from finding.

Her head tilted to the side as her brows furrowed. "Although sometimes something is an actual answer that was looked for, but comes in a very different way than expected."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on December 21, 2016, 11:24:25 PM
Gavin was surprised when Alene began to explain herself further. Was saying that he didn't understand all it took? Somehow he felt that this time was different. Whatever the reason for it, her explanation did clarify a few things despite that she seemed to be more unsure of her words.

The Prince nodded along with Alene's words. Halfway through, the reasoning started to make less sense again. Still, he nodded and followed along until it began to make sense once more. Perhaps if he didn't think about it, then it would start to make sense. Or at least, marginally more sense. He wasn't really sure what to think anymore, not when it came to Alene, anyway.

At the mention of war, his congenial expression faltered for a moment, and his eyes dropped down.

Steam rose off the coffee, swirling in the air and dissipating quickly. Gavin watched the patterns it made as he wrestled with his own thoughts for a moment. The war, inevitable at this point, was almost always at the back of his mind. When its voice became too loud, it drudged up pieces from his past that were always difficult to put to rest.

He forced a bit of a smile as she mentioned his post, but there was no real heart in it. There was still a part of him that felt like it wasn't real. Being in the Guard, that was nothing new, but to be Master... it was a privilege he still felt that he hadn't earned.

Almost desperate for something to delay any response he ought to make, Gavin took a long sip of coffee. The taste, not cut much by the addition of cream, grounded him again, dragging his mind back to the present and nothing else.

"I think 'different than expected' sums up most of my time in Scelt rather nicely," Gavin said, a note of his usual humor making its way back into his tone. He sighed. Was anything ever going to go as he expected in his life anymore?

He glanced back over at Alene.

"Thank you," he added. "For clarifying."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on May 06, 2018, 01:42:17 AM
“Scelt,” Alene felt compelled to amend. “Scelt is different than expected.”

There was something about this Territory, Alene thought. It was jarring, something tangible she should have been able to grasp, an itch she knew where to scratch but just.. couldn’t get a grasp on. It was a line that didn’t line up, a circle with a wibble just overt enough to ruin the symmetry and require amending, but impossible to find the aberration. It set her teeth on edge, fingers running over ridged hash marks that fell in perfect parallels.

Another pop of the wood in the fireplace, although it was burning lower now. Behind the shields beyond the pair of Grays, the room was quieting. People slumping down at their tables to settle in for the long night ahead, to wait for daylight, to wait for the hours of spells and craft and productivity in clearing the weight of snow that hedged them in. It was a breath before the flurry of activity, stillness in the darkness and gloom against the tomorrow they knew would come.

But what about the tomorrow beyond? Or the one beyond that? Would that manage to offer a thread, a skein of yarn, a new Tangled Web with a clearer picture of what this Territory was about?

Flinching slightly at the flare of brightness, her glassy-clear eyes turned back to the Prince. A not-surprise surprise.

“Clarity’s an illusion anyway,” Alene grumbled after a moment’s pause, her stare jarringly unblinking for a moment longer before it turned back to the table. “Thinking it’s understood, familiar, clear-cut.” A bubble of laughter rose unexpectedly from her throat. “It makes fools of us all.”

She tried another sip of the coffee, not disguising the wrinkle of her nose at the taste this time. Replacing the mug to the top of the table, the witch let her hands cup the ceramic as she resolved not to venture further attempts at the beverage in the future. Experience reminded her every time it wasn’t worthwhile, but optimism hazarded a second guess every time.

Alene fell to stillness again as a chord reverberated back at her inside memory, drawing her back to his earlier comment.

“A good different? Or a bad one?”
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on May 06, 2018, 07:28:53 PM
The witch's remarks on clarity suddenly made him wish that he had a little less of it. A strong drink wouldn't do much to take the edge off without a lot of it, but part of him wished for it anyway. Ah, to be able to let his mind rest a bit. She did have a point, however. Thinking that one could see the way clearly was often folly.

Her laughter brought a bit of levity to the conversation, and he let himself relax another fraction. No use sitting straight as a rod if he was going to be stuck here until the storm was over. Surely no one could begrudge him a few moments respite.

The coffee wasn't... good, per se, but it was far from the worst he'd had. And it was warm, which he appreciated. He took another drink before he responded to the question.

"I don't know if it's good or bad, just... different," he began. "Although perhaps that's because my expectations are based on things half-remembered, and I don't know if they're just something I made up or not. It's been a very long time..."

His impressions of Scelt from when he was younger were just that: impressions. There were a few memories that were clearer, but for the most part he only remembered how the place felt. He couldn't have found any place specific if he'd been asked, certainly. Narshe was, he now knew, a rather different place than the coastal town he had been born in, as well. Coming back to Scelt... he hadn't thought about how it might have changed, because he hadn't expected to have anything to compare it to in the first place.

It hadn't been so much a homecoming as it had been following a trail somewhere new. Sure, some of the places, the architecture, the people looked a little familiar, like he'd happened across a place he'd previously seen in a dream. But there was no knowledge of the place aside from what he had learned as an adult.

He sighed. "I suppose it's mostly a good different. Things have worked out better than I'd imagined in a few ways."
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Alene MacKenna on May 07, 2018, 12:27:43 AM
Alene had given up on drinking the coffee. The fragrance of the beverage, and the heat as it seeped through the ceramic to the palms pressed tightly against it, were both soothing. It had the added bonus of forcing her to keep her hands still. In the back of her mind, the witch felt the nagging sense of unease, a shuddery tripping of jangling nerves down her spine. It made her itch, want to dig her nails into her palm, chase the wisps away until she could sit in clarity and light once more.

Instead, she relied on the sharp cut of the scent of coffee to chase away lingering thoughts. It wasn’t as familiar a mechanism, but it worked well enough.

“Memories are different,” she commented absently, observing as the last swirls of cream faded into a uniform hue.

The smell of the coffee and Prince Berkeley’s commentary were both doing a laudable attempt at clawing into her awareness, forcing her to stay in the present. Memories, indeed.

“Not different..” It was an attempt to amend the awkward repetitiousness of echoing his own answer back at him. “Just,” Alene struggled to thread the thoughts into sequence. “Memory is.. different. The things we remember that we think as truth, that aren’t. And then truth compared feels…wrong?”

Wrong was a good word for it. Her fingers tightened reflexively on the drink. Absently, Alene wondered if it were possible to crack the vessel without the use of craft. Under the fractured unease of her grasp, would it give way?

Instead of testing her curiosity, the witch let her hands drop again to the table’s edge. Scarred wood was a textural distraction against the pads of her fingers. Nicks and scratches and dents from lifetimes of use told stories. Well worn. Well used. Well lived.

Inquisitively, Alene looked up: “Than you had imagined?”
Title: Re: Storm and Fire
Post by: Gavin Berkeley on May 07, 2018, 01:15:46 AM
For a moment, Gavin wondered if he had suddenly fallen asleep, or gotten very drunk. The Black Widow was making sense. Sense that he could follow, anyway. But no, the world was the same as it had been only a moment before. Whatever change he had felt was probably just his imagination, and he would be back to being confused any moment.

Perhaps it was only that her words had nearly echoed his own thoughts in some ways. He vaguely nodded, looking down at his drink.

"Exactly," he agreed. "I honestly don't know if some of the things I think I remember were real at all. It was all a very long time ago."

It would have been a different story to compare his memories of the Courts he had grown up in with their realities; he knew he had a very different view of it, both being a child and being close to the inner Circles. But Scelt...

Alene's inquiry interrupted his thoughts, for which he was a little glad. Being stuck in a snowstorm was all well and good, but if he got melancholy, as well, it would be a very long night indeed.

He shrugged a bit. "As I said, I came here looking for my sister. I had thought that I would be making my way around the Territory on my own, hoping that I would be able to follow her trail." His expression became a faraway smile for a moment. "Obviously, that didn't happen, but it was certainly a... happy coincidence, I suppose. So yes. Better than imagined, if only because my imagination was rather... grim, I suppose."