There’s activity in Vesper that’s for sure. The rumours that the Senate are building an army have been confirmed by way of the large body that’s training on the edge of the city. Psychics, Mages and Fighters are all learning to fight, and fight together. It’s been rough and there’s been more than one ‘cloud of dust’ rise from the encampment in the weeks this has been happening.
Not everyone has been recruited though – there’s still the need for regular patrols and not everyone has the temperament or skills for a fight. Some … might just be too new to town to realise their services might be useful.
Slaine McClellan is out in the city heading towards to Clothier Z to seek out a tailor who, rumour has it, has some interesting connections with Dogwood and possibly even the underground. Don’t ask how the little redhead knows that. She’d gone by way of the training camp, looking in on Hezqak and is just leaving it now, avoiding supply vehicles and others who are coming and going.
Leopold falls into the too new to town position. Yet the Academy is where the sphinx has found himself drawn too. Magic draws to magic. The curious creature comes into the town today with the intent to ask questions about all the noise and bustle. And perhaps to borrow a few books if he can. He studiously ignores reactions of those about him that gawk or seem to fear him.
Miss Frizz is passenging in Slaine’s coat pocket, as it’s truly the safest and fastest way to get anywhere outside of Grans. She’s standing up inside said pocket currently, nose and paws over the top hem, watching everything in fascination as they travel. Hezqak was … very toothy. She pretty much hid from him the whole time.
Who would possibly try recruiting a lowly clothier for military functions? Why, the very thought! Varos has been successful in remaining enlisted for such things, either by careful timing or a few strings pulled, or he simply can’t possibly offer much aside from uniform designs. However the tension of the city for its active military preparations has been up considerably, although other threats and problems have not quite been forgotten. Well, thankfully the threats have since quieted, but there are still things to be done.
Of course, there’s always business. It’s amazing how hard times can be and yet one can always depend on the wealthy to make such frivolous expenditures. The street Varos emerges from is not by way of his shop, but from the residences of the more renowned and all their overflowing glory. Some people, after all, can’t be bothered to make their way to a shop, even Downtown, because they have other matters to tend to, but they can certainly try and make time for a housecall! If Varos had eyes, he would have rolled them well out of his head for the times he’s heard the excuse.
His clothing isn’t fancy, but it still marks the work for which his shop is so renowned for, sharp lines, interesting panels, and for all that it’s mostly blacks and dark greys, it’s not boring. And despite his half mask being the brightest thing on him, its pewter finish and violet eye-slits compliment well.
He makes his way along, expertly dodging and slipping past people, you know the sort, those who don’t realize they’re being an obstacle as they stop for some reason or another in the middle of the street. All in all he seems in good spirits at least, humming as he makes way, although he does lift his head as his senses glean a few interesting things once he nears the gate-side.
“Are ye sure you don’ wan’ to join up, Miss Frizz?” Slaine chuckles, glancing down at the mouses twitching nose. “Ye’ve more skill then some of them psychics and ye can hide well.” The little Mystic is dressed in travelling leathers that have definitely seen better days, her red hair flashing as the crowd swirls around her.
Spying Varos as he makes his way through the crowd, Half Pint veers in his direction “Hey, Mister Jenek. I was comin’ to find ye…” she calls out, walking right in front of the Sphinx as she catches the tailor attention.
It will be a miracle if she isn’t trampled.
The sphinx is a large creature but not so large that he can not stop in time to avoid running over the familiar red headed Slaine. His wings open and beat a couple times, tail lashing to counter the forward momentum of his walk.
He starts to snarl but then refrains, then noting who it is. “Good day. I suppose. I give greeting to you whom I have met before.”
<~ I squish really well too, Miss Slaine. If this were my home and I weren’t so tiny compared to everyone, I probably would. ~>
Then Slaine swerves to say hello to someone and Frizz sees the Sphinx about to run them over. Just as the large creature rears back to stop himself, she squeaks in alarm and ‘shoves’ him back at the same time. You know, to make sure she doesn’t get squished.
Spinxes aren’t quite a common sight even in Vesper, so the sight of one, perhaps to some degree enhanced by the sight and imagination of those around who witness Leopold, are enough to draw Varos’ attention. He slows to a stop, his head turned where he determines the creature to be, and while curious that he can so easily glean from the sphinx’s sight, he also notices a familiar face.
It’s just as Slaine calls out to him that Varos turns to ‘look’ in her direction, hand lifting in warning. He breathes a sigh of relief when the creature at least is more aware of his surroundings than the approaching mystic. No…wait, there’s something else too.
“-heh! Is that so, Miss McClellan?” he laughs, dispelling the moment of anxiety. “Such timing, then.” There’s a smirk at that. He turns his head towards the sphinx, brows arching behind his visor as it speaks. “Ah, an acquaintance of yours?”
“Ye need to come out with me more often, Miss Frizz. Ye’ll see how being squishy and goin’ up agains’ bigger things ain’ really thi—-” Slaine’s words cut off as Leopold’s shadow falls on her causing her to flinch and turn in surprise.
The images that Varos gets are probably enhanced by Slaine’s own view. The tiny, 5′ nothing Mystic peering up at the behemoth that she just walked in front of. “Uh. Sorry,” she winces as Frizz does her thing, not that she can detect it, she just see’s the results. “And hello. Leopold, wasn’ it?” beat “See what I mean, Miss Frizz?”
Heart racing a bit, it takes Half Pint a moment to settle before she turns to face the goggled tailor. “It was, yeah. This is Leopold and this… she indicates the mouse in her pocket, is Miss Suss Frizzbee. This is Mister Jenek.” She gestures a bit to move the group out of the walkway. “What are ye doin’ here, Leopold?”
There is a soft grunt at the end of Leopolds winged dance. A plastering of fur to his skin as a invisible force presses against him and he takes another step back. Eyes narrow for the briefest of moments and he looks around for sings of danger that might accompany that push. He has yet to place the push to the small mouse.
He reseats his wings in their correct position and gives a bow-like nod of his head to both Mister Jenek and Suss. There is a brow raised at the mouse but no disbelief spoken. This world is much too strange to doubt the mouse is a person. “The magics called to me. I am confused as to what need there is for armies and warfare. I came to investigate.”
Suss mentally whews when Leopold is able to stop without stomping on Slaine, and she responds to his bow with a wave of one little hand. And then she disappears into Slaine’s pocket momentarily, because standing up the way she does gets tiring after a little bit. Her hind legs weren’t really designed to do that on the long term. But them she clambers out of the pocket, aiming to get onto Slaine’s shoulder where she can see and chat with the others more easily.
<~ That was scary, Miss Slaine. I don’t like having to do that. ~>
“My, but you do have such interesting friends,” Varos comments, grinning. It’s mostly to mask his slight discomfort at having to adjust between the immediate ‘eyes of the mind,’ as it is. He’s having to deal with three very different perspectives of himself and wavering between them all is almost nauseating. He tries to let his focus home more in on Slaine, given her vantage point is the closest of level to his own, compared to the others.
“A pleasure, all,” he continues, nodding his head at the sphinx and then at Slaine, or rather her pocketed- and now shoulder passenger. A mind-speaking rodent! How droll!
“Well, Vesper being a great draw for magic users and home to The Academy of Esoteric Arts, I would not think it a surprise at all that magic called you here, Mister Leopold. As for the armies… Rumors are that there may be an impending threat of some kind. Numbers of soulless being gathered.” He shrugs. “Not very pleasant to hear.”
Slaine shivers a little as Frizz’s whiskers brush against her neck “Careful now, Miss Frizz, or I might shrug ye off.” she chuckles and looks at the group.
“The magics called to ye, Leopold? That wouldn’ be hard but if ye’re thinkin’ of tryin’ the Academy, ye’ll need somethin’ to get ye in. They aren’ open to jus’ anyone.” Slaine frowns. “Ye need to be a student, have something to offer or know someone. What were hopin’ to find there?”
Giving Leopold a slightly blank look as he asks about the armies, she has to shake herself a bit. “There are soulless, yes. As Mister Jenek says. I happen to know there’s a big army of them up in Richmond. The Senate is hopin’ to combat it. If ye’re lookin’ for work,” she looks to the Sphinx, “I think they would happy to have ye.”
“But that’s sort of why I was seekin’ ye out, Mister Varos. We understan’ that the Harvesters, those who are creating the soulless, are plannin’ an ambush of a Vesper caravan and makin’ it look like Dogwood did it.” beat “I was wonderin’ if ye might have heard anythin’ from ye’re Dogwood contacts.” And of course, his underground ones – but Slaine doesn’t know he has them really, she’s just heard rumours – and even if she did, she wouldn’t expose that here.
This world still confounds him with it’s magical things that aren’t magical. It’s technology. It’s politics. And many of it’s creatures are new. Thus this bevy of information does little to reign in the curious nature of the sphinx. “I am a caster of magics. Perhaps they would allow me to join them. I shall inquire. And I hope to find things which I do not already know. Learning about as many things as possible.” He settles his read down to sit, tail curling about his paws.
<~ Sorry, Miss Slaine. ~> Honestly, if she could find a way to passenge on shoulders without making people uneasy, she would in a heartbeat. Once she’s settled though, she’s fine. She looks at Varos curiously, not realizing that he doesn’t see things the way most mammals do. <~ Soulless? Why does that sound bad? ~>
His brand of sight isn’t exactly something that Varos has come to publicize. The less people know, the better, and the more of an edge for himself. These are things that have been drilled into him as a child, things he adheres to even now.
“An army of them…” he murmurs, frowning. Well that’s just great, especially considering he means to make a trip out there some time. Shaking his head, the young clothier folds his arms as if staving off a shiver.
“Learning is always good, especially if you are new to this place.” He grins briefly at Leopold, that expression turning slightly grim as he adjusts the angle of his head towards the little mouse. “As it should, I imagine. Souls are what make sentient folks such as ourselves, well, ‘us.’ You take that away, you’re left with just a husk. And it seems that those bodies are being controlled by an external force- that’s…what happened back in the marketplace some months ago, wasn’t it?” he asks, tilting his head at Slaine. It was the only incident where he’d directly witnessed an attack, anyway.
His face is politely blank as the red-haired mystic makes mention of why she’d come out to look for him before he frowns, looking appropriately appalled by what she does have to impart. “That…does not sound good at all. Who’s ‘we’ and is anything being done about it?” It certainly doesn’t sound like information to be withheld! His expression, while still more of a frown, takes on a more thoughtful air as he lifts a hand, stroking his chin.
“You hear a lot if you know where to listen, Miss McClellan,” he says. “People come and go, through shop, through city, and more often than not, they like to talk. How troublesome, hm? I’ve heard a certain duchess of Dogwood’s southern lands has been gathering forces, likely in response to Vesper’s sudden military mobilization. I suppose that’s only fair, given the history between the cities…”
He seems to still be thinking about things as he relays this, perhaps having more to say, perhaps not.
“I’m sure they will.” Slaine murmurs to Leopold, moving to stand next to now the ‘relaxed’ creature. She’s likely only as tall as his head and it probably looks slightly comical. “Otherwise, the Academy migh’ be interested in what ye have to offer. I’d … um … well, maybe I’d wait a little though. The Harvesters, those that are takin’ the souls, have managed to get a foothold there.”
“As Mister Jenek says, again, Miss Frizz, take the soul and there’s only the living husk left and from what I’ve been seein’ the Harvesters use them as fodder. What we don’ know, at least not really, is what they’re usin’ the souls for. But we know they’re worshipers of an Old One – one that wasn’ imprisoned with the others many years ago.”
Leopold and Frizz might know of the Old Ones.
“We, Mister Varos, are small group that have been asked to investigate it. A few of my friends and acquaintances. Ye know Vargr, he’s helpin’ with this and Elpida, the Gorgon among some of them.”
The news that the Duchess is massing her troops has Slaine chewing on her bottom lip. “We thought they would do this and we’re tryin’ to arrange a meetin’ with Dogwood to explain what’s happenin’, we’re jus’ no’ sure they’ll believe us.”
For Frizz and Leopold, she adds, “Seventy odd years ago, Vesper and Dogwood went to war. Kalastia, the Dragon that founded this city, mustered The Thirty and anyone she could on the border in the only big ‘battle’ … rather than risk the destruction of Dogwood, the King sued for peace instead. But now, those of Dogwood don’ trust us. Can’ say I blame ’em.”
“Do ye hear anythin’ else, Mister Jenek?”
Suss sits and listens quietly, as she’s only heard snippets of lore from people passing through Grans. It’s honestly all rather fascinating to her. She can’t help it, though. She also looks up at Leopold curiously. He’s… unlike anything she’s ever seen before.
Leopold listens with intent. The mention of the Old Ones brings his brows down in a thunderous look. “So the Old Ones are here as well? That is gravely unfortunate.” He heaves a sigh and shakes his maned head. “I will assist where and how I can against these Soulless. I find this world too interesting to leave quite yet and this place has been welcoming in it’s own way.” He spies the little mouse eyeing him and grins in a human fashion.
“Ah! Mister Vargr, yes- I remember him. I’m surprised he’s not with you today- you two seem glued to each other for all the times I’ve seen you, he’d be in your company,” Varos grins. He nods a little, his smile tugging up crookedly.
“Just because you don’t expect to be believed, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted. Unfortunately I think the timing may not be any better on your side. It probably would have been more worthwhile to have spoken with Dogwood before Vesper began amassing more military, but I suppose that would have been done if the information had been discovered sooner.”
Politics, politics. Always such a mess. He’s never had much love for it.
“But you’re right, relations have already been strained between the cities. I’d imagine anything done or said would be met with suspicion from either side.”
As Leopold speaks, Varos sways just slightly as he shifts his footing, his senses having slipped to glimpse everything from a higher point out of the sphinx’s sight, if just for a moment. Clearing his throat, he turns his head and senses back towards Slaine again.
“There’s been talk about shipments, military-grade, heading for the same area of Dogwood. I heard a few transporters mention as much at a bar the other night.” His fingers pull at his chin as he thinks, a frown creasing his lips again.
“I think the Old Ones touch on many places, Leopold.” Slaine says quietly. “When this all started, Vargr, Aliana and I had to travel to another world to get information. From a Centaur who is some kind of priest of theirs. They’ve been imprisoned, but this one, Nxla, The Cold and The Darkness avoided it somehow.” She shrugs “What do ye know of the Old Ones, might I ask?”
Raising a finger to gently stroke Frizz, trying to reassure the little mouse that all is well. “Maybe I should get ye to go information gatherin’, Miss Frizz. People aren’ likely to look at ye twice and ye can hide in many places.”
“We’ve been tryin’ to get the meetin’ for many weeks, Mister Jenek. Well, one of the Armsmen has. Dogwood doesn’ seem to be very receptive to it. And that was before the army started massing.” beat “Vargr has his own things to do. We jus’ work together and fate seemed to throw us together a lot.” Truth be told, Aiden Frost (aka Vargr) wasn’ aware of Slaine’s reputation and was happy to work with her and she trusted him to protect her.
“Ye think it’s the same shipment of goods we’re talkin’ abou’? Anything on them … being appropriated?”
The sphinx gives an all too human shrug of his lion shoulders. “Stories and whispers from my world. There are horror stories about them. About the world when they were awake upon it and how we never wanted to wake them again. If this Nxla is one of them…there is much to fear. The sacrifices made to get them to their resting place was almost the end of our world.”
Miss Frizz actually arches her back a little at Slaine’s reassuring gesture. <~ I suppose I could try, Miss Slaine. I just… ~> She sidles a little and hides her face under the redhead’s collar. Her next telepathic comment is quiet and sheepish. <~ Shoes kind of scare me. ~>
Varos listens politely. Information is always a nice thing to have, and if Slaine’s been part of the group that’s been directly investigating things, it’s likely as pure as one can hope for without having been there yourself. Perhaps it’s old, perhaps already known, but having the information at all is never something you can ever go wrong with. Not that whatever they might truly be dealing with sounds any good, if Leopold’s input is not to be scoffed at.
Sighing, the clothier shrugs. “Stubbornness will be the death of us all,” he says, smirking a little. “So on the offhand that talks fail before even beginning, you hope to head things off at the pass before we’re all at war again? I find that a fair enough solution.”
While not quite nodding, Varos doesn’t think he’d dismiss the possibility as Slaine suggests. “…it could be. How recently have you found out about such plans? The timing is troubling. I believe they haven’t left yet, and the lips of drunks do flail more loosely. Perhaps I can find them at the bar again.” He almost grins impishly with this suggestion, as though the prospect of playing spy might be exciting. And maybe for a clothier, it would be.
“A day or so, no more.” Slaine answers Varos whilst casting a look to the Sphinx. “Call it The Cold and The Darkness, I used it’s name with hesitation but names have power and it doesn’ need more power here. And that’s our concern as well.”
“Shoes can be scary, Miss Frizz. But there are beams in the ceilings and walls to hide in. Ye migh’ jus’ need to think a little laterally.” It’s amusing that the little red head can’t read or write, but she’s certainly got a vocabulary.
“Yes an’ no, Mister Jenek. About headin’ it off. The Harvesters are, we understan’, goin’ to use this to attack the Senate buildin’ and make it look like Dogwood did it. All it will take is one voice in the Senate to rile things up and Vesper and Dogwood will be distracted.” They might wonder, why a Senator would do such a thing when there are bigger things afoot. “But it’s new information, like I said, a couple of days old. The timin’ is very convenient don’ ye think? I’m no’ sure ye should put ye’self in such danger, though…” she glances to the mouse on her shoulder. Perhaps the two of them might work together? Maybe the Sphinx could help as well.
Miss Frizz turns to regard Varos again some more. Does he seem the sort to be okay with a mouse on his shoulder? Maybe. She inches to the outer edge of Slaine’s shoulder closest to the oddly-visored man, eyeing him curiously. <~ Should we maybe try? ~>
It’s thoroughly amusing hearing Slaine give suggestions to a mouse on how to mouse. Varos hides a chuckle behind his hand. Right, serious business.
“That….sounds hardly surprising, but true enough,” he sighs. More points to politics. Yay. Not that he can honestly say that those he caters to can be any better, but at the very least, in some ways they’re more honest in that they’ll do anything to preserve their own skins.
“Shouldn’t they be concerned about more pressing matters? One might wonder what goes on in those halls.” Varos lowers his head as he thinks again. Not too long ago, this information. Fresh as one can hope, but not as fresh as could be. Well, it’s something, and when pieced with everything else, it makes the information even more worthwhile.
“Danger? I’d just be going for a drink. There are always concerns depending on the place, and at least you know to be prepared for, I don’t know, something. It’s not like being attacked in your own shop.” There’s the faintest scowl at that- he ….might still be a touch bitter about that.
He follows the redhead’s glance at her mousey companion, smiling crookedly. “I would say go for it. Any time lost figuring out otherwise seems most critical.” He’s…not so certain that bringing along a large sphinx would be very wise though. People and a mouse are nothing new in a bar. A sphinx…. Well, that’s like walking in with one’s pet elephant.
Slaine catches the amusement and peers at Varos. She was being earnest when she made that suggestion.
Leopold gets up and starts to wander in the direction of the Academy “If ye need an introduction, Leopold, I’d be happy to try.” Slaine has an … interesting … relationship with the Academy.
“That’s a good question, Mister Jenek an’ I would think they should be but some of them, migh’ have vested interests, shall we say.” She really hopes he can read between the lines, because she doesn’t want to say it aloud – not here.
“If ye wan’ to Miss Frizz, between the two of ye, I’m sure ye’ll find out more. It’s very important we stop this. We don’ wan’ to be fightin’ a war and the Harvesters at the same time.”
<~ I do want to help, ~> Suss offers. <~ I guess I just don’t see how I’d be able to do anything in a place so… ~> Vast? Unfamiliar? Anti-rodent? All of the above? But, maybe if she’s there with Mister Jenek, they can the two of them make a difference.
At least she wouldn’t have to worry about scullery people with brooms taking exception to her presence.
The mystic has some interesting connections of her own, it seems. Varos realizes that may as well go unsaid for what Slaine’s already hinted, perhaps unintentionally, by having been personally involved in investigations. Then again, it’s no great secret that she’s on good terms with Kailastia, given the times the dragon has been seen meeting with her in public.
He nods, of all people, knowing that you never can be too careful with what you said, where.
“I think you’d at least be easier to direct than any regular mice,” he smiles, looking at the Frizz again. “It would be easier for you to keep out of sight, but also get closer to hear and witness things we might not be able to. And as Miss McClellan suggested earlier, you wouldn’t be restricted to the ground.”
Stepping back a little, head turning as though to watch the sphinx lumber off, Varos addresses both Slaine and Suss when he speaks again. “It’s too early yet, but we can meet at the Mermaid later,” he says, certain Slaine knows the tavern he speaks of.
“Best ye two do it alone…” Slaine gives Frizz and Varos a smile, relieved she hasn’t had to say any more. She would be worried if she knew the direction of Varos’ thoughts in relation to Kailastia.
“I’m sure she will be…” Half Pint touches Frizz again and nods herself. “I’m sure ye both will combine ye’re skills to best effect. I know the place, I’ll give ye directions, Miss Frizz or maybe get someone to give ye a lift.” beat “We can meet when ye’re done there, somewhere else to discuss what ye’ve found.”
Blowing out a breath, the red head looks around the forum “If there’s nothin’ else, I should be gettin’ on. I’ve … got to speak with Gran.”
The Mermaid? That sounds … interesting. She’s never heard that word before. <~ Should I maybe go with Mister Jenek now, Miss Slaine? That might be simpler. ~> She can, after all, just passenge along in a pocket and nap until it’s time to be sneaky and spy-y and stuff. She regards Varos again curiously. <~ Why do you wear the … face covering? ~>
Slaine best not be surprised if he asks again later. One can’t help but be curious after you’ve said such things as that, after all!
“I don’t know if there’s anything else in regards to such things, at least,” Varos replies, shrugging. He grins at the two, unfolding his arms to extend a hand towards the mouse astride Slaine’s shoulder. “If it’s no trouble, I’m sure your company wouldn’t be minded, Miss…Frizzbee, was it? I’ve got a new commission to prepare at the shop, but it’s no unusual habit of mine to stop by a bar come the evening.”
He regards the mouse again upon her question, laughing, genuinely amused. “Because fashion is strange, and let’s just say I have somewhat sensitive eyes,” he smiles.
And they say that Slaine is curious! The redhead chuckles at the question and moves her shoulder to let Frizz disembark and join Varos.
At least the tailor hasn’t taken offense.
“Excellen’. Thank ye, Mister Jenek. I’ll join ye later, at ye’re shop?” And if Varos asks her again, she might well answer.
Once she has the response from Varos, Half Pint turns with wave and heads off.
Suss steps lightly off of Slaine’s shoulder and onto Varos’ extended hand. She moves cautiously for a moment, then crosses over to the sleeve of his garment and makes quick, agile work of reaching his shoulder. <~ Eye coverings are good if your eyes are sensitive, ~> is her declaration after she gets a better look at said eye coverings.
<~ What’s a commission? ~> she’s asking of the tailor as Slaine steps away. <~ Maybe I can help? ~>
For a moment Varos hesitates to respond, distracted by the sudden shift of perspective as his senses brush upon the mouse’s again. Egads, his nose looks huge from that angle!
“Hm? Ah, yes. Please do,” he replies to Slaine, smiling as he gives a wave. Then he begins to turn, carefully, he reminds himself, due to his new passenger.
“Quite so, Miss Frizzbee, quite so,” he chuckles. “A commission of this sort of task one might be given in exchange for payment for services rendered. In this particular line of work, we’ve been asked to make someone a new set of clothing.” Smiling lopsidedly, he wonders. “Have you ever sewn things before…?”
Slaine and Miss Frizz come across the path of a familiar sphinx on their way to seek out Varos in hopes that he might have heard anything interesting out of Dogwood.
May 27, 2410
Dragon's Gate, Vesper