Bury Me Face Down

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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Niccolette Ibutatu
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Mon Aug 05, 2019 9:53 pm

Evening, 16 Hamis 2719
The Pawley's Lawn, Uptown, Vienda
Niccolette was aware of Pawley saying something else off to the side, his bright voice a sharp contrast to the dull roar of the rain. She could feel the water sliding over her, sinking into the fabric of her dress, weighing her head down. It streaked over her face like tears, catching in her eyelashes, and Niccolette blinked the droplets away.

To duel outside was, she thought, an interesting choice. Despite herself, she had watched Ekain walk across the grass, had watched him walk as slowly as he needed to in order to do it steadily. If she understood, somehow, somewhere deep inside, Niccolette let it stay buried there; she had no need for compassion, not here and now.

Niccolette’s eyes dropped to Ekain’s leg. In a true fight, she thought, that would be how she would begin. It would be a quick and easy cast to weaken the already weak limb further. She could not tell quite what was wrong with it, but it was clear his balance was poor; she could damage a muscle in the thigh or hip and send him crashing to the ground. From the stiffness of his walk, she imagined she could cut a tendon as easily as she could breathe; they looked desperately strained. In a true fight, no holds barred, she would take his leg in a way that would not heal easy; she would let him know what he had done without hesitation.

But this was a duel.

It was a coward’s move to take his balance. There were ways of it even without grievous injury – but then the effect was cheap embarrassment, nothing more. It was always risky to rely on the pain of something like a weakened muscle, or the embarrassment of falling, to be sufficient to keep someone from casting. No, Niccolette thought, bringing him down would be as bad as starting with a pain or nausea spell, a cheap and childish move. Gia deserved better; the mona deserved better; the honor of the duel, such as it was, deserved better.

Niccolette lifted her eyes back to Ekain’s face. She wondered if he had seen her look down; she hoped he had. She hoped he expected her to target his leg; she hoped it made him afraid. She inclined her head, ever so slightly, as he spoke, and watched the glistening arc of the coin through the rain. The dark side flashed up, and Niccolette took a deep, steady breath.

The Bastian returned Ekain’s bow, low and deep. Her wet hair trickled over her shoulders, dripping towards the ground, and when Niccolette straightened up it was half over her shoulders, curling against her front. She lifted one hand, and ran her fingers through it, pushing it back up off her face, water splashing off it against her hand.

If she had ever been aware of the crowded masses huddled on the porch, Niccolette did not see them now. Never had she cared about the audience while dueling; her attention was focused on Ekain. She did not look at the murmurs from the crowd off to the side – she did not look even at a gasping shout of her name, for all that she knew it for Francoise’s voice. Everything she had was here, in this moment, dripping wet around her, pumping through her veins, moving in and out of her lungs; there was no focus left for anything else.

Distant lightning flashed through the sky, and Niccolette counted the seconds – one, two, three, four – until the thunder boomed and echoed, chasing it to them.

Then she began to cast.

Niccolette did not know what Ekain’s background was. She had caprised the faintest sense of living mona in his field; she doubted he could counter her spells, with so little power, but he might try. It was always wise, in a duel, to use more obscure spells, although that assumed, of course, one was capable of pulling them off. If your opponent had never before heard the spell, they had almost no chance of countering it. Even if, she thought, Ekain had heard this spell before – it would never have been like this.


This spell was deceptively simple; it was a spell to heighten feeling against the skin, rooted in a long tradition of nervous spells. Niccolette knew variants of it that were used for highly different purposes, and had used them herself; but as she cast this one, as she wove it into the air around her, she cast it so that the slightest pressure on the skin would be excruciatingly painful, would stimulate all the pain centers of the brain. She cast it, knowing full well the falling rain would soak them both; that each droplet, pressing against Ekain’s face, would feel like agony, that even the gentle press of his heavy clothing against his skin would hurt, as would the grip of his hand on his cane. If the spell was successful, she knew, the pain would be too much for him to gather himself and cast – not to mention that even the movement of his tongue in his mouth, every brush of it against his teeth, would hurt too.

Niccolette adjusted her homing, and the heavy energy of the spell streamed in the air around her, washing forward and soaking into Ekain as thoroughly as the rain had. It was a technical and challenging cast, but there was no sign of the difficulty of it in her smooth, even voice, the confident, harsh monite that burst forth from her – not in her etheric field, which bloomed bright and powerful in the rainy air.

He had chosen this site for reasons of his own, Niccolette thought as she curled her spell and ended her first turn; she hoped he would soon regret it.

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Pain heightening nervous spell: SidekickBOTToday at 2:52 PM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (3) = 3
word count: 1020

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Ekain Da Huane
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Fri Aug 09, 2019 11:19 pm

the pawleys lawn • uptown
evening on the 16th of hamis, year 2719
Ekain had wondered – truly wondered – if Niccolette had planned to start with his leg. Of course, he had not begun wondering when he felt her eyes on it; it had been a consideration from the very start, from the moment the tip of his cane had touched the lawn, from, perhaps, the moment he had suggested that they duel.

Regardless, she was showing him, he thought, that she was considering it. More than anything else in the world, Ekain hated the stare that pretended it was not a stare: he hated that glance-away which suggested, by the flutter of its eyelashes or the faint, embarrassed purse of the lips, something akin to an apology. To stare was to make a choice, if you possessed restraint. To scratch the nagging itch of an idle urge and then apologize for it, one’s embarrassment naked on one’s face, was the action of a child or a fool.

Niccolette Ibutatu, however, had permitted him to see her eyes on him. More than that, she had suggested to him, with that intentional look, that she knew what she could do to him, and that she was not above it.

The smile on his face crept wider.

In all fairness, of course – let her take his balance, let her make him slip in the mud, and let her see what happened afterward. If she were actually going to do it, it would be distasteful; he would not even need to argue the point. But he did not think she would, not here, not when she had given him the arena and the tier to choose. He thought it more likely that Niccolette would want to win even on his terms.

So he watched her as her lips began to move, listened to the invocation pour from her, soft underneath the hissing of the rain. He watched and listened and felt as her field shifted etheric, and he wondered what those burning-bright living mona could do.

He had never heard this spell before. The feeling was subtle, at first – it made him uncomfortable, and then it seared. For all his practiced composure, it was all he could do not to gasp aloud. The bastly glow of his field shrank, a pulse of red shifting through it, the mona stirring, warming. He let out the smallest of choked noises in his throat, nostrils flaring as he drew in a breath that felt like a stream of white fire.

Everything was pain. It was not the sort of pain he often felt, the bruised ache of clenched muscles, though his left leg was now as tense as it had ever been; he nearly lost his balance, unable to bear the heavy blanket of wet cloth against his skin. The handle of his cane pressed into the skin of his palm as if it were the edge of a knife, as if it were capable of drawing blood. The snare of braids at his scalp felt impossibly heavy, stinging as if someone had knotted their fingers in it and pulled; he felt a tangle of wet hair plastered against his forehead burning like a fresh scar. And the patter of rain against his skin! Each droplet became a screaming streak.

There was nowhere to turn. He tried to summon the Monite for a counterspell into his mind, but it would not come. He had studied the living conversation briefly, and he knew of spells that affected nerves, but he had only known them to be used for anesthetic purposes; he had never thought…

The rushing of his blood in his ears nearly drowned out all thought, but he registered, in some animal part of his mind, that his lower right side was not in pain. It was the most curious feeling. He seized on it; he tried to focus on his right leg, his right hip, where he could feel only the wet fabric, the deepening soak of the rain, strangely flat contrasted with the tingling fire of the rest of his body.

He had always found it a nuisance. He seldom noticed it, but he recalled very well – even still, even to this day – how the Huane physician had told him to remind himself to check throughout the day, to keep in mind that even the deepest of cuts there would not hurt as it should. He could feel touch, he wanted to argue: how could pain be so different? The chill of the wind, the heat of a fire? The nerves themselves were not dead, and yet –

It was not enough for Ekain to regain all of his focus, but he thought, hoped, he could cast. He heard the curl of Niccolette’s spell as from the bottom of a glass bottle, and he could not count the seconds. He feared that if he could not counter this somehow, though, even if he wasted his turn, he might be wrecked for the duration of the duel.

He opened his mouth, the invocation clear in his mind. The touch of his teeth to his tongue and his tongue to his lips was nearly unbearable. When he called upon the mona, he feared that he would slur his words, and he could not hear his own soft voice over the static of the rain and his own agony. But he forged onward, beseeched the mona around him to shape a shield. He recited a simple barrier spell.

Ekain’s skin still tingled from the remembrance of the droplets, and his clothing still burned heavy against his frame, but he had some relief; the rain pattered against his barrier and slid away.

When he felt the upkeep of her spell begin to ebb, he curled his own with an exhausted breath. He knew that while he had not forfeited his turn, his opponent was in the lead. He did not permit himself to sag, though every muscle and heavy bone in his body begged for it; he held himself utterly straight. He stared at Niccolette across from him, mouth a flat line, pink eyes hooded and unreadable.

He flexed his field outward, caprising hers, but it was no longer as bastly as it had been.
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Casting despite the nerve spell:
SidekickBOTLast Tuesday at 10:43 PM
@ Graf: 1d6 = (3) = 3
Barrier:
SidekickBOTToday at 11:04 PM
@ Graf: 1d6 = (3) = 3
word count: 1110
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Niccolette Ibutatu
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Sat Aug 10, 2019 10:46 am

Evening, 16 Hamis 2719
The Pawley's Lawn, Uptown, Vienda
Niccolette watched through the curtain of falling rain as the spell sank into Ekain. It started as she was still casting; even with only the faint lights of the lanterns she could see the skin drawing tight over his face, could see something like a choked grasp. He did not scream, and for a moment Niccolette wondered what it would take - how much pain he could endure.

But it was not that kind of duel. Pain without shock, without damage - still, Niccolette thought, grudgingly, there were many who might have screamed.

Niccolette curled her spell, and the Gioran standing opposite her was left shaking beneath the rain. A faint flicker of red hummed through his field, ghostly in the yellow pools of light. She felt the seconds tick by with each drop of rain splattering against her face, but she didn’t dare look away. Pawley would call out if he had missed his turn - it was the only speaking that was allowed to interrupt the duel.

Ekain’s mouth opened; his lips began to move. For all that they stood close enough that she could nearly feel his field, Niccolette could not understand him; it sent a crawling feeling over her skin, the wet fabric of her dress suddenly itchy. His voice was high, too high, the heavy patter of the rain too loud, and although she strained, she did not know what he was casting. Another flash of lightning, a distant crack of thunder, drowned him out entirely.

His lips were still moving, but now a barrier was forming above him, a shimmering haze of energy in the air - a shield from the rain. Niccolette did not relax her guard; she did not think most capable of dual-casting under the effects of a nerve spell, but there was nothing worse than being caught unexpected. Nothing came towards her; no creeping flare of energy, no faint tingle of sensation. If Ekain had done something else, she could not sense it.

Niccolette let go of the last of her upkeep of her spell, and she saw Ekain’s lips stop moving, saw the barrier dissipate as he stared across the lawn at her. Niccolette felt a bone deep rush of satisfaction. There was no distraction in it; she knew well this was not over. But she was still strong, that feeling promised her. She had cast, she had called the mona to herself and together they had brought him the first taste of conquest.

But Niccolette was already moving to her next spell. She was already speaking as she felt Ekain’s field flex, still powerful, against her etheric one. She pulsed back against him - it hardly even required a thought - and continued to cast, eyes locked on the Gioran.

A second tier duel. As a living conversationalist, that meant there were two broad ways open to her: spells that caused temporary pain or spells that caused temporary incapacitation. But pain was always risky, and Ekain had already proven himself capable of handling the spell she had cast, of pushing through it to cast his own. She hoped it had cost him.

Niccolette wove words of monite through the air. A control spell, this time, though there were many ways of control. Students liked the idea of taking over the control system of the body, of making another person into a puppet. Niccolette had seen such tricks done - and she had also seen them fail. It was flashy and brilliant if you could make an opponent cover their mouth with their own hand, and it was utterly clockstopping when you failed. Moving the arm took subtle control of many more muscles than young duelists dreamed; the shoulder alone had eight. Even a true paralysis spell was almost simpler, although it required much more raw power.

But the lower jaw was a fascinating part of the body. There were only four muscles that controlled it, the muscles of mastication, with one of each on each side of the head; Niccolette could still see the diagrams in her book. Speech, naturally, required more - the tongue came to mind - but the muscles of the tongue were quite strong, one’s brain well used to subtle movements and deliberate control. Control spells over the tongue were often temperamental - not to mention the number of counterspells that existed. Niccolette, for a duel, liked the jaw.

Niccolette’s spell reached into Ekain - not a complex one requiring subtle control over the entire body, or even something powerful and brute force that would up all his muscles - but a small, almost simple spell. It sank deep between into his cheeks and jaw, stimulating and controlling the function of two of the muscles connected to his lower jaw - locking Ekain’s jaw shut and keeping him, in short, from being able to open his mouth.

Niccolette cast the spell, curled it, and held. She could not upkeep the spell indefinitely, but she fully intended to hold it through the too-short duration of Ekain’s turn. Her eyes met his again, and now she smiled.

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Jaw muscle control spell: SidekickBOTLast Friday at 8:56 PM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (6) = 6
word count: 894
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Ekain Da Huane
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 3:00 pm

the pawleys lawn • uptown
evening on the 16th of hamis, year 2719
It had cost him.

Ekain was not a first form, but he was also utterly unprepared for a duel. He had never dueled professionally, and even at Brunnhold, he had never dueled on the lawn; he had only gone there for two years, after all, and there had hardly been time. The Temple’s dueling culture was not quite the same as Brunnhold’s, but in Gior, as a youth, Ekain had possessed few friends and even fewer enemies. The world of dueling was wholly alien to him, and aside from etiquette – with which he was acquainted only at the surface – he did not precisely know how to conduct himself.

Of course, he had known this would be the case from the moment he had goaded her into challenging him. He had not known why he had done it then, and now, it was too late to ask himself; there was no point in casting oneself back and questioning a decision that had been made in a moment that no longer existed, in a moment that had been so charged with emotions he could not parse or process that only that act could appease the entirety of his soul. He had acted within the bounds of reason and honor, and to rethink his course of action now would only shame him.

He also, naturally, planned to win. There was no point in planning otherwise. Conquest did not demand of him that he do his best; conquest demanded that he succeed. Therefore, he had put himself in the unfortunate position of needing to win a game he had never played.

This was becoming increasingly clear to him.

His barrier spell had been a simple one, and it had bolstered his confidence, but Niccolette’s first move had wrung him out with pain. He leaned more heavily on his cane, and strain crackled through his field, the mona shivering with it, like cloth stretched too tautly. As he awaited her next move, the curl of his last spell still lingering on his tongue, tingling with the pain it had brought him, he forced himself to keep his frame upright.

Ekain heard her underneath the hiss of the rain on the grass, over the murmur of the galdori on the terrace, but he could not make out the words she shaped; only some of them were familiar to him, and they were addressed to mona with whom he had seldom conversed.

Then, he felt the air around him shift, and he felt the smallest muscles in his jaw tighten and lock as if in a spasm. It reminded him of the sensation in his leg. A faint, disgruntled expression flickered across his face, a nerve underneath his cheekbone twitching, the muscles just barely tensing in something akin to a wince. Then, smoothing his expression, he tried to open his mouth, and found that he could not. His teeth were clenched together rather tightly.

This did not surprise him. He knew what she had asked of the mona, roughly, the moment he felt it settle into his jaw. Tightening his grip on his cane, he lifted his other hand, touching the side of his face. Underneath the skin, slick and cold, he could feel the tension. It held, even as she curled the spell and the absence of her voice was filled up by the rain.

He knew how to ask the living mona to counteract such an effect; he had learned to do it for his leg, and he thought that he might have done it now, if he could have spoken. But if he could have spoken, the effort would have been pointless. On the other hand, he thought, he was a skilled enough physical conversationalist that he might cast an electricity spell with only a gesture; he thought that he might sign to the mona, ask them to send a current through the affected muscles, as he might have done to ease the spasm in his leg. But no, he thought. She was holding his jaw shut, even now. Not even that could give him the strength to open his mouth.

A precious few moments and he would lose his turn. He had no choice. It was a clever piece of work, and as Niccolette smiled through the rain at him, he smiled back at her – a broad smile, a smile that crinkled in the edges of his eyes, a smile that lined his smooth face. It was a strange, wicked smile.

From across the lawn, he heard Pawley call, voice thick with amusement: “Heye Da Huane has forfeit his turn!” The Huane in question merely flexed his field.
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word count: 824
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Niccolette Ibutatu
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 4:06 pm

Evening, 16 Hamis 2719
The Pawley's Lawn, Uptown, Vienda
Niccolette held the spell; she focused on the upkeep, as she couldn’t quite focus on the smile. The effort was more than she had expected. It ought to have been simple; she had held far more complex spells much longer, but it was hard to keep her mind on it. The rain was cold, miserably cold, and her field wasn’t hot enough to warm her; her dress was heavy, the weight of it pulling her down, long since soaked through.

Distantly, she saw Ekain touch his cheek with his long fingers. Niccolette knew she ought to mark it – ought to think about it – but she couldn’t quite bring her mind to it.

How much wine had she drank? Niccolette wanted to shake her head. She couldn’t remember. Two glasses? Half – the glass she had been thrown had been nearly half-empty. Two and a half? Or had it been three? The evening felt like a whirl of light and sound and tastes; she couldn’t hold the spell and reach back into her memory at once. Her whole body was shaking; cold, she thought. It was the cold. She was cold. The light was shimmering through the raindrops, sparkling and spinning; lightning flashed, distant, and thunder cracked, and Niccolette counted the seconds between. Closer, she thought; the storm was coming closer.

Was she still smiling? Niccolette nearly lifted her own hand to touch her face before she caught herself, before she stopped the motion cold. She was tired – she was so tired, the Bastian thought, fuzzily. For a moment, she just wanted to go home; more than anything, she wanted to go to sleep. No – no, that wasn’t right. More than anything she wanted go to sleep in Uzoji’s arms. Her eyes drifted away from the Gioran, towards the crowd. If she looked – if she looked at Enofe the right way in the slanted rain, she could nearly pretend – but he was frowning, he was frowning and Uzoji would have been -

Ekain had been smiling.

That wasn’t right.

Niccolette pulled herself back into the moment, her chest rising and falling, breath coming hard and fast. Her gaze snapped back to her opponent. He shouldn’t be smiling, she thought. He shouldn’t be smiling like that; he looked – pleased. Her head was throbbing; each drop of rain felt as if it echoed through her, and Niccolette wondered if she might have backlashed without realizing it.

Pawley’s voice echoed and Niccolette released the upkeep with a choked gasp, the faintest inhalation in of breath. She gripped her dress with her hands, trying to find herself again, and she felt Ekain’s field flex against hers, press at her. The duel. Yes. Niccolette wasn’t so quick this time. Pawley had called out that Ekain had forfeited; she needed to cast. She needed to do – something.

Niccolette licked her lips; her mouth felt dry and tight, for all that sheets of water were rolling over her. She pressed her hand to her face, the other still buried in the folds of her dress, shuddered, and drew herself up. She pushed her hair back off her face. How many seconds had passed? It didn’t matter; Pawley had not called out; her turn was not forfeited. She couldn’t think clearly, but that was all right; there were enough spells she knew without that.

Niccolette had let go of Ekain’s jaw, but there was still the tongue. It wasn’t ideal – it wasn’t ideal – but she could cast, and she would cast, and she would do something to him. This was a spell she had memorized long ago – a spell she had used again and again, against opponents who had meant to kill her. She could cast it against one pompous, overgrown Gioran – one self-righteous, clockstopping ersehole, a man who had the audacity to smile at her as she held his jaw shut – a man who seemed to feel no shame, no guilt, no remorse. By her fearful symmetry, Niccolette promised herself – he would. If she could not make him regret what he had done to Gia, then she would make him regret goading her, here and now; she would make him regret not walking away dripping in wine.

Niccolette began to chant, another flow of monite streaming from her mouth. Her field flexed back against Ekain’s, pulsing – late, and not as powerful as before, but there, nonetheless there. Hazy energy flooded the air around her and streamed between his lips this time, seeking to numb his tongue completely, to cut off any sense of feeling, to leave it heavy and awkward in his mouth.

Niccolette curled the spell. She didn’t know how long it would last; she couldn’t focus to hold it. She stared across the field at Ekain, one hand still gripping her dress, her chest rising and falling beneath the heavy, pouring rain. Conquest, Niccolette thought, the thought pulsing hard against the numbness that threatened to swamp her. She needed to focus on conquest – she needed to – focus.

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Tongue numbing spell: SidekickBOTToday at 12:15 PM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (2) = 2
word count: 896
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Ekain Da Huane
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Thu Aug 15, 2019 1:28 pm

the pawleys lawn • uptown
evening on the 16th of hamis, year 2719
Ekain had missed his last turn. He continued smiling for as long as he felt the living mona hold those muscles in his jaw fast; he could not permit himself to do otherwise, not until he felt the tension ebb, like the passing of a spasm. He resisted the urge to reach up and massage his jaw. He did not even work it, or open his mouth. Instead, he forced himself to relax the muscles slowly, carefully, until he could hold his face as he usually did, smooth and blank; he unclenched his teeth as if it had been a decision to clench them in the first place, and now he was relaxing of his own accord.

He had missed his turn, and now Niccolette’s mouth was moving again. He heard her voice over the rain, weaving more monite. Another living spell.

The spasm in his leg was already the worst it had been today, and he felt more tired than he would have admitted. He balked at the thought of another piece of living spellwork, another clause to lock a muscle or set a nerve on fire. Still, he met her gaze as steadily as she met his, and when he felt the stream slip between his lips, he wondered.


roll 1
SidekickBOTLast Tuesday at 5:38 PM
@ Graf: 1d6 = (5) = 5

He felt a numbness, a thickness, in his tongue. Curious. Her expression was somewhat hazy in the rain, but something in it was scattered, he felt; he wondered for the first time how long she could keep that anger burning. He wondered, even, how much she had had to drink. She curled the spell, and his tongue remained numb and weak, but even now, he felt the sensation fading. He felt a prickling. It was uncomfortable, but it was not disabling.

Still, he knew that he would need to be careful. When one spoke to the mona, one spoke clearly. To ask a favor of them with the thick-tongued slur of a drunk or a fool was to face the possibility of backlash, even if asked with the noblest of intentions. She might have intended for him to miss his turn, but it seemed more likely that she wished him to underestimate the spell and cast confidently, recklessly, so that his tongue would slip on those precious words and betray him.

Therefore, he proceeded with caution.

He addressed the mona as clearly as he could. At first, he felt as if he spoke through a mouthful of cotton, or a loose gag. He held himself straight, straight – his spine like iron – and he leaned into the spell with his lips and his jaw and his teeth, tired as they all were. It still prickled, still felt thick as if wrapped in gauze, but he focused on the most minute movements of his tongue.


roll 2
SidekickBOTLast Tuesday at 5:50 PM
@ Graf: 1d6 = (3) = 3

The invocation was slightly slushy, and he felt the uncertainty in the hum of the mona, the discomfort in their response. It was an unfamiliar feeling. Ekain had never backlashed; he felt the pricklings of fear at the nape of his neck and tried to banish them. He had never suffered backlash, and he would not today.

He was careful. It was a simple amplification spell. As a physical conversationalist, he knew that even the grey, quiet lawn was a garden of sounds: the hiss of rain on the grass, each tap-tapping droplet on the lanterns’ covers, each patter on Niccolette’s shoulders and loose hair, created sound waves that could be manipulated. A physical caster at the elementary level might, in a duel, choose to create a sound wave from scratch and use it to knock her opponent off of their feet – but Ekain knew that one did not need to create anything to deafen one’s adversary. The clay was already present in even the smallest sounds of nature.

As he cast, he kept his head up and his shoulders back. His field was sigiled, hot; the rain in his ramscott’s range steamed. He did not bother to meet her flex this time, focused on moving his tongue and lips and teeth en harmonie.

He focused his entreaties on the physical mona within five or six feet of Niccolette. Slowly, somewhat reluctantly, they responded, but the spell was complete. Rather than hissing on the grass around her, the rain roared, deafening-loud; each tap of water on her shoulders, each slither of rain through her hair – the closer to her ears, the better – would be a screaming lance of sound. Even if she could cast through the pain, it was Ekain’s hope that she could not raise her voice enough to hear herself speak.

He sidled through a simple change clause, then, weaving in a soundwave barrier to muffle the amplified noise outside of the spell's radius. The area around her still emitted a strange roar, like a distant waterfall.

Showing only a little weariness in the sag of his shoulders and the faint lines above his brow, he curled his spell in as soft a voice as he had ever used. He focused on the upkeep, on holding it in his mind, but he feared even his discipline would not hold.
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Niccolette Ibutatu
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Thu Aug 15, 2019 2:41 pm

Evening, 16 Hamis 2719
The Pawley's Lawn, Uptown, Vienda
Niccolette watched Ekain, watched carefully. She couldn’t hold the upkeep of the spell, but she could hold her gaze on the Gioran. She wondered if he would attempt it; she had known plenty too afraid to cast with a tongue even recovering from numbness. She watched his lips part – watched his mouth begin to move, slowly, the motions almost exaggerated. She couldn’t hear the soft whisper of his voice over the roar of the rain; she couldn’t do more than just to understand that he was speaking. She felt his field etheric against her own, heavy with physical mona.

Would she have known the spell, if she had heard him? Would she have been able to gather her wits for a counterspell? Niccolette didn’t know. Her mind was drifting again; his spell was building, and there was no chance, Niccolette thought – there was no chance he would not cast on her. She tried to relax her body, to prepare for sensation, pain; she couldn’t bring herself to try and imagine what he might do, and she knew it would not help anyway.

The sound of the rain against the grass was so loud. Niccolette shook her head, a faint jerk of it; she could hear the slushing of her hair against her ears. It had never been so loud before, it had never – the water hitting her shoulders sounded like drumming, she thought, vaguely. Why was it so loud? Why was it –

It took a long time for her mind to catch up, too long. Much too long. His spell. Niccolette shuddered again; each drop of rain was amplified, too far amplified, and it lanced through her, throbbing and painful. She gasped for breath, and even that noise felt unbearably loud. Could she cast? Could she bear the sound of her own words? Could she be sure she was saying what her mind thought she was? Every drop of rain splashing against her shoulders seemed to splinter her thoughts. Niccolette swore she could hear the trickling of the rain down her sodden dress.

She had to make the decision quickly, Niccolette knew. His lips had stopped moving – his cast had stopped, it was her turn. Niccolette licked her lips, thinking, drawing the scattered pieces of herself together through the pain. It hurt – it hurt badly, but she had amplified her own hearing before. Never so raw, never so painful, but – if she were to cast, Niccolette decided, it would need to be a short, easy spell. The rules of dueling were simple; she only needed to affect him to score a point. A push or pull spell? She had told herself she wouldn’t take his balance, but – it wasn’t elegant – it was messy and pathetic – but perhaps she could manage a few syllables, better than she could manage to last out the duel.

The temptation to clap her hands over her ears was almost overwhelming. Niccolette gritted her teeth, jaw tight. It would be a mistake; the sound and pressure it would create might deafen her. She grasped the soaked folds of her dress in both hands and gripped, holding tight, resisting the urge, and tried to bring her mind to bear on monite.

Out of the corner of her eyes, Niccolette saw a distant flash of lightning.

The Bastian knew – she knew, then, what was coming.

Niccolette squeezed her eyes shut, and counted the spaces between. One – two – three –

The burst of thunder echoed through her like a knife. Niccolette felt a sharp burst of pain in her ear; the whole world went dizzy around her, and she lost her balance on the wet grass, dropping to her knees. She shuddered, doubling forward, curling up almost on the ground, half-catching herself with her hands, digging her fingers into the lawn. She knew she was sobbing; tears rolled out of her eyes alongside the rain streaming down her skin. She couldn’t have screamed; she would have heard.

A ruptured eardrum, the living conversationalist thought, when a few seconds had passed and she could think again. An injury anyone who spent time in airships knew about, because a weakness in the eardrum could be exacerbated by a sharp drop or climb – common, also, if a foreign object found in the ear, or even from an ear infection. Symptoms included sudden sharp pain – drainage from the ear – buzzing – hearing loss – dizziness -

Pawley was calling out over the rain, his voice echoing through her head: “Ms. Ibutatu has forfeit her turn!”

One side, Niccolette thought vaguely, she could only hear him on one side. The rain too; the noise Ekain had created around her was muffled on the other side, only a faint distant buzzing in her ear. Of course. It made sense. Niccolette shuddered. She needed to get up – she needed to get up and face him. She needed to face him, even if she couldn’t get up. She lifted her gaze from the grass, dizzily, staring at the Gioran, and at least managed to push herself up to kneeling, rocking back and forth slightly against the grass. She couldn’t stand; she wasn’t sure if she would be able to even if the spell stopped.

He would cast again.

The Bastian gritted her teeth – and her field flared around her, pulsing, red-shifting through its full extent, the color glowing beneath the rain. Her face was a make-up smeared mess, hair wet and bedraggled, something strange tickling from her ear down her cheek. Heat rose up in the air around her; steam hissed, the noise a painful scrape against her nerves, and Niccolette felt the water rising from her dress and skin. She wiped her nose on her hand, took a deep breath – she didn’t know when she had started crying or when she had stopped – and stared at Ekain Da Huane, as if daring him to do his worst.

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Roll to cast despite amplification spell: SidekickBOTToday at 10:40 AM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (1) = 1
word count: 1039
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Ekain Da Huane
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Fri Aug 16, 2019 1:21 pm

the pawleys lawn • uptown
evening on the 16th of hamis, year 2719
The thunder was not terribly close. When he saw the sky flicker with pale light – picking out shadows on the rolling clouds, for a brief moment – he counted the seconds out, lips moving silently. One, two, three...

He watched Niccolette, his face slack and blank but for a gleam of curiosity in his eye. He was still holding the upkeep of the amplification spell, but his grasp on the muffle was beginning to slip. Would the thunder breach it? He leaned forward ever so slightly on his cane, watching her closely through hooded eyes.

It was soft, like the susurrus of rock shifting overhead. If not for the muffle of the rain, it might have reminded him of the Chamber of Echoes; he had gone there a few times to spectate student duels. He could feel it, just barely, in the earth beneath his feet, vibrations shivering through the air, bouncing off the rain. The crowd on the terrace was quiet, but a handful of galdori had caught the implications of that sound: like the thunder, a hushed gasp scattered through the gathered people.

She dropped almost immediately, face a twist of pain. Rain had already slicked her face, but Ekain thought he saw her eyes swell with tears. He could see her breath hitching with sobs, too quiet to be heard over the roar. He straightened, lifted his chin. He did not flex his field or let it brim bastly; he did not need to.

Of course, he could not have held the spell forever. He let it peter out with a long exhale, this time visibly exhausted. His own face was streaked with rain, otherwise droplets of cold sweat might have marked his pale brow.

The muffled roar grew quiet, and then Pawley’s voice: “Ms. Ibutatu has forfeit her turn!”

This time, Ekain did not permit himself to smile. His face remained blank and still as Niccolette brought her head up, dragged her gaze to meet his. He merely looked at her – looked over her. His glance flicked over her head, her shoulders. Had there been a strange tilt to her head, for just a moment? He tilted his own slightly, continuing to study her.

He expected her to stand, or at least attempt to do so. It took him aback. More feelings he could not place bubbled up in him; he did not try to push them down, but he did not try to understand them. One of them solidified. A whisper of red shifted through his field.

Why was she not standing up?

Ignoring the strain in his shoulders and the stiffness of his leg – the slight tremble of his cane’s tip in the mud – he opened his mouth and began to cast again. Exhaustion had not wrung all the discipline from his proud bones, and he knew not to cast in anger: he tried to stay himself. He shaped the invocation with a faint smile on his lips, with a voice even softer than the rain. He tried to calm himself, to carry himself all the way through the simple spell he meant to cast without losing hold of his temper.


Roll
SidekickBOTYesterday at 2:46 PM
@ Graf: 1d6 = (3) = 3

And it was a simple spell. Absently, Ekain recalled his stay at Brunnhold in early Loshis. The thought of selectively altering gravitational pull had itched at his mind ever since, despite the seedayar’s embarrassing behavior. Such a thing might even have been useful in a duel like this, if it had been possible, but today was not the day to experiment. No – Ekain took himself through the motions of a simple, but powerful, gravity spell, focused on the entirety of Niccolette’s body.

That feather-soft rumble of thunder had brought her to her knees, and she refused to stand. So: he asked the physical mona to give her bones, her flesh, the weight of the euohey. Tightening his grip on his cane, driving it down into the mud until his arms trembled with the effort, he brought his will to bear. It was a simple spell, but he bore down on it.

No grievous injury, he reminded himself. No bending or breaking of bones. He merely meant to make her feel so heavy, so tired, that she would sink further down into the mud, if she did not have the strength to resist. He meant to make her jaw feel too heavy to move, to make her tongue an anchor in her mouth, to make her feel as heavy as a sleeper.

He curled the spell, sagging visibly, but again, held onto the upkeep for as long as he could.
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Niccolette Ibutatu
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Fri Aug 16, 2019 2:01 pm

Evening, 16 Hamis 2719
The Pawley's Lawn, Uptown, Vienda
Ekain Da Huane had curled the spell. In the absence of it, for a moment, Niccolette was terrified she had lost her hearing entirely. The fear thrummed through her, and she smoothed the red-shift from her field, breathing hard - refusing to let a single trace of the yellow out, refusing to let him or anyone see or feel the faintest trace of it.

But - no.

The world was all silence on one side, only an odd painful buzzing echoing in her ear. On the other, she could hear; she could hear the gentle shushing of the rain, soft and easy now, could hear her own labored breaths, catching soft in her throat.

Niccolette still could not stand; she thought it might be possible, but she could not bring herself to it. She felt dizzy just thinking of it, and the world seemed to sway around her through the grass.

Niccolette focused what she could of her gaze on Ekain Da Huane’s face, and she saw his lips begin to move. This time, Niccolette was too drained for fear; she did not tense, she did not flinch, and she knew the sudden steady pressure, the heaviness in her limbs for what it was - his spell.

Niccolette shuddered; her shoulders slumped beneath the weight of it. There was a wet squelching beneath her, and the slight Bastian sank deeper into the wet grass, already trodden to muddiness by the pressure of her feet, the heat of her field. For a moment, she wondered what he had done - if he had asked the earth itself to rise up and claim her, if he meant to bury her alive.

At least, Niccolette thought, at least there would be a body. At least there was something left of her to bury. For a moment she thought it would be almost a blessing. Not for her, an explosion in the air or the waters of the Tincta Basta. Let her be buried here, beneath the Viendan grass. Niccolette tried to lift her hand to wipe at her eyes, and found the effort almost impossible.

No, Niccolette thought, slowly understanding. Not a manipulation of the earth - a manipulation of her. He had made her heavy. She tried to move - tried to fight it - and the effort sent a dizzying spike of pain through her head, sharp and nauseating.

Niccolette doubled forward, gasping for breath. It didn’t help; she didn’t think she could straighten up. Do not vomit, she told herself, squeezing her eyes shut. Do not vomit - do not - the pressure change, she knew - combined with the burst eardrum, the weakening of the other, the pressure of the gravity spell -

Niccolette thought, idly, that her hearing might never recover.

There was no focus left for monite; every drop of what little was left in her was needed to hold through the nausea. She was hunched over on the ground now, shaking. Her hands crossed over her stomach, gripping her sides tightly, small white things just visible from the side, fingers digging heavy into her skin. She pressed as close as she could to the ground, head bowed, and rode out the waves of nausea sweeping through her, rode them out - and held the vomit back, held through the sharp acidic taste in her mouth, held through the miserable throbbing pain in her ear.

“Ms. Ibutatu has forfeit her turn!” Pawley called out, excitement still brightening his voice.

One more, Niccolette thought, still not quite able to look up - she was not sure of the damage even the slightest movement might do, not sure what damage had already been done - not sure if she could lift her head even if she tried to - one more forfeit, and she would lose.

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Roll to cast despite gravity spell: SidekickBOTToday at 10:39 AM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (1) = 1
Last edited by Niccolette Ibutatu on Fri Aug 16, 2019 10:59 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 673
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Ekain Da Huane
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Fri Aug 16, 2019 3:40 pm

the pawleys lawn • uptown
evening on the 16th of hamis, year 2719
One more forfeit.

Ekain was disappointed. After the curl of his spell, he had done his best to hold onto its effects, to continue feeling that tugging connection on his ley lines. It had been, he thought, a most unimpressive effort on his part. He was growing tired, and he knew this.

He peered across at Niccolette through the sheaf of rain. She was still sinking into the mud, he thought; her limbs were still heavy. She had tried to raise up once, he thought, and failed, and now her arms were crossed over her stomach, her thin, pale fingers digging in on either side. She could not even look up at him. Or chose not to, perhaps.

Perhaps, he thought, this was simply too much. He did not think he had caused her injury – at any rate, not of the grievous variety. Still, his pale glance flicked over her, studying the lines of her arms, her legs underneath her. Lingering on the nape of her neck, a particular concern with this sort of spell. Nothing seemed amiss, however. He had hardly asked the mona to bury her, for all that she sank into the lawn, her dress sullied with grime.

Disappointed. This time, Ekain could not bring himself to smile. When Pawley called out the end of her turn, not even an ounce of satisfaction flickered across his face. This time, he frowned, and it was a frown that left lines on either side of his mouth. It was a deep, genuine frown, even as he let go of his upkeep, even as he felt the physical mona that held her down disperse.

He kept frowning down at Niccolette, expecting her to look up at him. Expecting anything. He let a few seconds pass, dripping by dangerously, hanging onto a faint feeling inside him that was akin to hope. Or anticipation. Or –

She tried to lift her head, and she could not. He thought he saw her suppress a gag. She could not lift her head, which meant she could not look him in the eye.

His ramscott red-shifted, but he was too tired to flex. Instead, he shifted his weight, bracing himself against his cane, and began to speak again.

It would have been fitting, he thought, to use this as an opportunity to slide in one last offensive spell, to win another point. It would have evened out their scores, and if she were able to fight him this time, he would at least have levelled the field. Nevertheless, the idea was somehow distasteful to him. He could feel a dozen pairs of prying eyes on the terrace; he had heard the excitement in Pawley’s voice. The eyes on him, de – that pleased him. But something about all of it filled him with disgust.

The pair of eyes that he wanted on him was downcast.

Well, he thought. If she refused to meet his eye now, it would be her last chance. Whenever she chose to look back up at him, she would be fortunate to locate him at all.


Roll
SidekickBOTToday at 2:06 PM
@ Graf: 1d6 = (2) = 2

But an invisibility spell was a complex one, even at the intermediate level. Ekain’s focus had never been light. As he spoke to the mona, weaving each piece together, selecting which rays of light, which reflections, to divert, he found it difficult to focus on all of them at once. Furthermore, the rain, rather than helping him, complicated matters. Each droplet was another moving piece – another shifting mirror he would need to divert, another bit of motion he would need to hide in order to hide himself.

It looked impressive, it was true. It sent a ripple of gasps through the crowd, and he knew from the sound that he had hid himself. He hoped, too, that the rain between them, that the nausea and pain that he had caused her, would obfuscate her vision. He had a lot of hopes, and the uncertainty displeased him.

He curled his spell, soft voice falling silent. He held onto the upkeep, but there were so many moving parts. Careful to move quietly – muffled by the carpet of damp grass, the soft mud – he took two steps back, two steps to the right, then another few steps around, around, clockwise. Slow, careful not to slip. Then he stood still, a few feet from where he had stood before, holding the bent light around him, watching Niccolette.

Still, the idea had been unbearably tempting. To win, now that he had held her down, without even lifting a proverbial hand to her, without touching a hair on her head. It was too tempting, perhaps.
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