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Ezre skips Formal Dinner and accepts his risk of a demerit for the decision.

Anaxas' oldest and most prestigious University of Sorcery, the de facto cultural capital of the kingdom and a city in its own right.
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Ezre Vks
Posts: 73
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
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Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
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Writer: Muse
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Wed May 29, 2019 9:54 am

The Library
Dinner Hour on the 19th of Bethas, 2719
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Ezre was not where he should have been. He was not dressed in formal attire: the expected high collar of an Anaxi suit he should have been wearing would have been adorned with a red tie. Instead, he was not dressed in uniform at all; the loose, flowing layers of traditional Hoxian clothing kept him comfortable in the growing warmth of Bethas. While most of his peers were still dressed to keep warm, the student born in the heart of the Spondola Mountains already found spring to be quite toasty.

He'd waited in his room, fasting and meditating, until the bells rang out across campus that the dinner hour had begun. He'd heard his classmates file out into the dorm room hall and shuffle their way downstairs into the evening, all ninth year students expected to be in the Banquet Hall at formal dinner tonight to sit amongst their professors and to talk politics as was the hottest of topics this time of year.

Ezre was homesick.

He'd hid it well, truly. An admirable Hoxian whose rhakor was enviable, he'd kept his longing to be away from the bustle of Brunnhold with its high-strung, overly emotional students and its noisy, crowded Stacks from everyone for well over an entire year now. He'd held it all in, squirreled it away in the dark places of his being, buried it in silence and studies. But meeting Tom just a week ago had really brought everything writhing back to the surface.

Ezre missed his family. He missed Lreya, his mother.

Once he was sure everyone was settled in their seats, once he knew everyone would notice his was empty, he slipped quietly from his room and out into the twilit campus. The ruddy glow of electric lampposts and phosphor lights cast lovely shadows and the Hoxian's soft-soled sandals made very little noise as he carefully made his way along the less-trafficked trails and sidewalks, slipping between buildings and making his way toward the Library.

Rosie Opkins would know him, unfortunately. As one of the few Hoxians in Anaxas, in Brunnhold proper, he wasn't easy to forget. They'd already spoken so much at length about scrying that either she was quite convinced he'd been flirting with her or she pitied him for his odd theories. Ezre wasn't sure which. But she knew him to be a ninth form and she knew what day today was, surely. He didn't even have a study pass.

He just had the gnawing desire to pour over a few spectographic books about the landscape of Hox and daydream about home for an hour or two. He just wanted to find a couple of theory books and distract his longing mind from both the strange hum of Tom's field and the warm calm of his mother's that the not-Incumbent's state of being made him miss.

Lilanee would notice his absence. They'd sat together at red ties since school began in Intas. It meant she'd make sure he wasn't ill later.

He had no interest in lying. He just didn't want to be crammed in a brightly lit room full of gossip and Anaxi cuisine. He wanted quiet. He wanted peace.

So, like a shadow, the Hexxos acolyte drifted into the Library, head down but moving as if he had every right to be there.

"Mister Vks." Rosie waggled fingers at him before he'd made it five steps past her desk, her eyes made far larger than necessary by the specific curvature of her glasses as well as the strength of her kohl-drawn decorations, "Aren't you in the wrong place?"

Ezre didn't balk. He didn't frown. He didn't make excuses. Stopping and turning, he looked at the older red head and nodded, "Yes, Ms. Opkins—"

"Rosie."

"Yes, Rosie. I needed a bit of space tonight." There was no point coming up with any elaboration. Dark eyes met green ones and the Hoxian shifted from one foot to the other, ready to move if she told him to leave, "Sometimes Red Ties are overwhelming in their expectations of my personality, let alone my study schedule."

"Mmmreally? If you say so. Do you have a study pass? Are you ill?"

"No."

"I'm going to have to report you. Missing Formal Dinner without an approved excuse is a demerit. I'm sure of it. Are you sure that's something you want on your record, Ezre?"

"My record is only for this lifetime. It won't follow me into the next. And, really, it's only for my time here in Brunnhold, brief as it will be." The dark-haired young man didn't smile and there was absolutely no sarcasm in his tone of voice. He stood simply before the librarian's desk, feeling the fields of other students pass by him even as his was as bold as ever.

"Wha—well, yes, but. That's hardly the point. Fine." Rosie was already writing, glancing up to glare at him once or twice.
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Madeleine Gosselin
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Wed May 29, 2019 12:07 pm

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719 | The Library
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The bells had rung for dinner a little while ago. Madeleine had only just managed to get her skirts arranged over the chair she was sitting in; it wasn’t easy to tuck one’s legs up beneath the not-very-wide green skirts of the uniform, but Madeleine had a good deal of practice. In her sixth term at Brunnhold, she could tuck her legs beneath her skirt onto the chair, feet peeking off over the edge so the soles of her boots didn’t touch the chair itself, and drape the skirt over her legs and the chair itself. Overall, it was very comfortable, quite modest, and the wrinkles weren’t anything that the passives couldn’t easily smooth out of the skirts.

The maneuver had gotten more difficult in the last few terms; getting taller was really a terrible burden. It used to be that she could sit down, lift her legs up, plop her skirt over them, and be done. Now, she had to readjust two or three times in a single study session. The difficulty of it all meant that, having gotten comfortable, Madeleine wasn’t about to get up for anything as unimportant as eating. Not when there was reading to be done.

So, as the bells stopped ringing, the galdor looked back down at the book in her lap, and flipped to the next page. It was a truly wonderful book, one that had been mentioned in one of her classes on physical conversation – not a true grimoire, but a treatise on the theory of gravity spells, written by some long-dead galdor who had clearly been quite old when he tackled the topic, if his prose was anything to go by. Madeleine didn’t mind, really; old people had lots of interesting things to say, and it was worth wading through the odd sentences structures. There was a lot she didn’t really understand, and she found herself rereading some pages two or even three times, trying to make sense of the points the author was making.

He had referenced another treatise – maybe an earlier one? After a particularly unsatisfying attempt at one of the later chapters, Madeleine decided, it might be worth trying to find the earlier book as well. It was with considerable reluctance that the galdor wriggled her legs off the chair and stood. Her skirt was rumpled and creased where it had been bent over the edge of the chair, and Madeleine tugged at it, a bit feebly, then decided it wasn’t really worth the effort. At some point her hair had been in a bun, but it seemed to now be sagging over her shoulder, and there were bits and pieces flung out across her face. She could fix it later, Madeleine decided. She slung her small satchel over her shoulder, clasped the treatise to her chest, and marched across the library towards the front desk.

The library was always beautiful, but Madeleine thought it was particularly beautiful now. It was late afternoon now, nearly sunset, and that meant that light was streaming in through the windows, slanted and golden, making the particles of book dust dance. Madeleine glanced up at the counter and, seeing no one around, stopped to admire them, head tilted up, a little smile curving over her face. Someone coughed nearby, and Madeleine hastily tucked her head back down, adjusted the grimoire in her arms, and kept moving.

Except – now there was someone standing in front of the scrying desk.

Not very patiently, Madeleine hopped into line behind him, shifting from foot to foot. He was a Hoxian, she was fairly sure; he wore strange-looking loose robes and sandals. Madeleine wasn’t quite sure about sandals, in truth; it seemed very scandalous to have part of one’s feet exposed, just – out in the open all the time. She leaned slightly to the side, and peeked curiously down at his feet. Were those – lines? What were they doing there? Or was it only the sandals?

Madeleine was so preoccupied that it was a few moments before the subject of the conversation sank in. He had missed formal dinner? Madeleine took a half-step back, as if worried that such rule-breaking might be contagious, gaze fixed on the raven-black hair at eye level. He wasn’t any taller than she was! Could he really be a ninth former? And a boy at that? At least he was getting a demerit, which was only right and proper, but he didn’t seem at all sorry!

Madeleine shifted, slightly, gripped the grimoire tightly against her chest, and summoned all her courage.

"Excuse me," she said, staring intently at the back of the Hoxian’s head. Her voice was quiet, as proper for the library, but very insistent. "But - you see - You really shouldn’t miss formal dinner. It’s very important." It had to be important; it was required!
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Ezre Vks
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Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
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Writer: Muse
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Thu May 30, 2019 12:00 pm

The Library
Dinner Hour on the 19th of Bethas, 2719

The Hoxian stood and watched as Rosie wrote him up for discovering him in the Library instead of attending his Formal Dinner, dark eyes following her flourished pen strokes across the page, not avoiding her glare as she glanced up at him once. Twice. What would appear to anyone else as nonchalance and lack of care was simply a surface of calm, Ezre beneath the rhakor mask he wore so well only slightly worried that he would be actually formally reprimanded, that he would have to speak to Headmistress Ophelia herself or, at the very least, his professor, Madame Exudus.

He would have to be honest, admitting to how he missed the quietude of the mountains and the lack of such persistent formalities in Freckstadt.

His conflicting thoughts were interrupted not by Miss Opkins shoving a paper in his direction but a young voice from behind him, the heavy brush of Static and Physical mona in her field rough against his own esoteric Clairvoyant-laden one in a way that alerted him to her presence before she spoke, a student younger than himself choosing to remind him of how important Formal Dinner was here in Brunnhold.

Rosie snorted, nodding firmly, "She's right, you know."

Ezre hummed in response, turning slightly to glance at the Anaxi girl still in her green school uniform, "I didn't say it wasn't important. I simply said I had no desire to attend. Do you ever find yourself simply not wanting to do something—like minding your own business?"

The librarian gasped, perhaps not expecting such a retort from the otherwise completely calm Hoxian. His expression didn't falter, still collected and almost sincere, and while his tone of voice wasn't at all biting or insulting, the words spoke for themselves, didn't they?

"Listening to the gossip of my peers seemed like a waste of time when I'd rather be studying—"

"If one of your professors decides to grant you a study pass in retrospect—even if you don't deserve it, Ezre—then you have a chance to avoid this demerit. I'm advising you to head to Formal Dinner, but it's up to you to refuse."

"I will remain in the Library. I appreciate your persistence, however." The boy offered a smile, tattooed fingers reaching for the duplicate paper she'd folded to offer him, Rosie taking responsibility for turning in the actual report herself, obviously, to make sure it was received in the correct hands.

With that, Ezre stepped aside to allow the youth behind him to step forward toward the librarian's desk, assuming she had other business besides simply admonishing what she saw has his poor behavior. He didn't wander off right away, either, pausing to tuck the paper away in his satchel instead.
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Madeleine Gosselin
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Thu May 30, 2019 8:25 pm

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719 | The Library
The Hoxian turned to look back at her. Madeleine could feel his field against hers, a brush of strangeness that she recognized as Clairvoyant, but somehow - different. She couldn’t quite understand how. Maybe it was just the frown on his face, or the way his too-dark eyes seemed to sweep over and dismiss her. Madeleine felt a curling of fear in her stomach even before he spoke.

Madeleine flinched, taking a half step back as if he’d struck her. She tried to meet his eyes a moment longer, but she couldn’t bear it, and she dropped her gaze to the floor. She wished she could think of something to say, something clever and biting which would prove that
she was right and he was wrong, but her mind felt like a slippery blank.

He kept going, cold and brutal, and Madeleine looked back up, suddenly angry, aware of a hot red blush spreading over her cheeks and to the back of her neck. It was one thing to insult her, but how dare he speak that way about the ninth formers!

Rosie cut in, and Madeleine looked down again, upset and grateful for the reprieve. Of course, now that the other two were talking she could think; now she could think of a dozen perfect things she might have said. The Hoxian took his demerit and stepped away, still close to the desk.

Madeleine stepped forward, setting the volume down. She half-turned, one small hand resting on the book. He hadn’t gone; it wasn’t too late. She hadn’t missed her chance, not this time, not fully, and she had thought it what she wanted to say, what she should have said right away. The words seemed to be burning a hole in her stomach, and then they were climbing up into her throat and lodging there, and all she had to do was open her mouth -

"Responsibilities don’t go away based on feelings," Madeleine said, looking over at the Hoxian. In her head, she had managed a cold and uncaring tone, all the better to indicate how superior she and her logic were to - him. Out loud, her voice did this horrid quivering thing, and to her absolute horror she could feel heat building behind her eyes, as if she might cry.

Frantically Madeleine dropped her gaze back to the book, turning away from the Hoxian and focusing her attention on the tome until the feeling of heat seemed to dissipate a little. "I’m sorry, Miss Opkins," Madeleine looked back up at the older student, not quite sure why she was apologizing but unable to help it. "“I just - might I request your help finding another book?" Rosie had shown her where to find the treatise sitting between them not long earlier. Madeleine wanted to be polite, but she didn’t feel too bad asking; Rosie was always very nice to her.
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Ezre Vks
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Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2019 11:02 am
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Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
Race: Galdor
: better with the dead
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Writer: Muse
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Thu May 30, 2019 9:10 pm

The Library
Dinner Hour on the 19th of Bethas, 2719

He'd upset the balance of this moment's zkratasthe oneness of all things. He felt it in the shift of Miss Opkins' field. He felt it in the glare of the younger student against the back of his neck. He heard it in the tone of her voice, especially, when he accepted his fate and stepped to let the girl have her turn and ask assistance.

Why he'd paused and hovered, he could not say, but the words stung more than they should have and Ezre frowned, the delicate line of his lips curling downward and the normal resting stoicism on his face was washed away with the flicker of genuine emotion. Jaw clenched and his dark eyes darted downward, skipping over her uniform to stare at the floor while he bobbed his head in a very curt bow, the equally dark locks of his hair, mostly pulled back in a high topknot, swaying in the motion.

Looking back up again, his expression had returned to something less pained and far more neutral, but his voice was so quiet that it was obvious he struggled to contain himself in the proper, expected manner of his people,

"That statement is not untrue, Miss."

There. She could have that. Honesty was the best choice when living in community with others, his sense of saatrivillage culture impressively strong after growing up in the tightly knit religious city of Kzecka, so very far away in Hox.

He waited for her to make her request, tattooed fingers linking together behind his back, posture enviable, before he cleared his throat, deciding the only way to bring peace to the situation was to continue with telling the truth—truth he had skirted around with wary caution when Rosie Opkins had called him out so swiftly and boldly, much to his very weakness-revealing chagrin,

"If you must know, I'm experiencing a bit of tuax'esh—homesickness—and I didn't desire the company of others. I understand there is no permission slip for such a situation that any of my professors can sign, so I must accept the consequences of my very personal choice." There. He cleared the air with such a revealing statement, unable to help the color that rose to his cheeks—shame at such openness with strangers, shame for allowing himself to be so quickly entangled in emotions, shame at what he saw as personal failure, "This demerit is deserved for my weakness."

Ezre nodded as if affirming such a statement to himself, glancing to Rosie Opkins and then to the younger girl before he turned on his sandaled heel and began to walk away into the large, airy first floor sitting area of the library, leaving the women alone. The boy made a purposeful path to the card catalog, opening one of the many drawers and beginning to thumb through the entire geography section in his quest for very specific titles and subjects.

"Well." Rosie blinked, surprised and unsure of what to say, "Isn't that about the saddest thing I've heard a Hoxian say in my whole life." The librarian chuckled, clearly sympathetic but also confused, every long, drawn out blink of her heavily made up eyes sparkling with a hint of rather gaudy for a galdor glitter,

"No need to apologize to me, Miss Gosselin. What is it that I can assist you with?"
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Madeleine Gosselin
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Fri May 31, 2019 9:21 am

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719 | The Library
Madeleine had intended to keep her attention on the book; she had very much wanted to keep her attention on the book. But she couldn’t help peeking sideways, and so she saw the Hoxian frown and look down as tensely as she had moments ago, then give a slight bow.

All the same, there was another little curl of fear in her stomach again when he looked back up and began to speak. What he said wasn’t what she had expected. Even though she was right - she was! - Madeleine had thought he would argue, would say it didn’t matter or it wasn’t his responsibility or something dismissive and cutting. She could only imagine what one of the twins would have said if she had confronted them like this. But instead he agreed that she was right, in a voice so quiet she had to strain to hear him, a considerable change from his earlier confidence.

Of course Madeleine had known she was right, but, somehow, hearing him admit it didn’t feel as good as she might have expected. Worse, a few moments later he began again, explaining with a blush on his cheeks that he was homesick. Madeleine stared at him, any pretense of focusing on the treatise utterly gone. The color on her cheeks rose again to match his, this time in reflected embarrassment rather than anger. He nodded once and then he walked away, leaving Madeleine with a soft squirming feeling in the pit of her stomach that she knew to be guilt.

"I-" Madeleine turned to Rosie, eyes wide. She wasn’t sure what to say to the older student’s remark, and so she just looked down at the book cover again, as though it might be possible to find a retreat there from the awkwardness of the situation. And it was, for a few moments at least, when Rosie asked how she could help her.

"Oh," Madeleine said, taking a deep breath. "I wanted to find another work by Professor Conchobhair, an earlier one, please. I believe the name is Pulling Gravity: A Concise Discussion of Inter-Object Relationships and Manipulations Thereof. Could I ask you to please scry for whether it’s in the library and where it might be?"

Madeleine left the desk with a little piece of paper in her hand with the shelf reference, carrying the treatise she had started with against her chest once more. Conchobhair’s later work hadn’t restricted itself to the pulling relationship between things; he had plenty to say about the force of gravity more generally, with a special emphasis on mass. But he kept referring obliquely to points Madeleine didn’t understand in the earlier work. She was sure if she could just skim it, it would start to make sense.

The Hoxian was standing at the card catalogue. Madeleine fixed her eyes on the shelves past him. She walked, determined not to look, and she didn’t. It didn’t count if it was only from the corner of her eye, did it? Madeleine had just gotten to the point where in another step, maybe two, he wouldn’t even be a black blur in her peripheral vision when she caved and stopped.

"I’m sorry," it was Madeleine’s turn to keep her voice soft; she really didn’t want to call any more attention to them than she already had. She half-turned to look at the Hoxian - were there lines on his hands too? Why? What were they for? - and plunged on, with a feeling like she had tripped and was falling down in words. "It must be hard to-" Madeleine managed to stop herself, feeling even more like an idiot. Who was she to tell him that what he was doing was hard? "I’m sorry," she repeated, lamely, and pulled her gaze back to the shelves, making her escape towards them.

After two steps, Madeleine stopped, squeezed her eyes shut, opened them again, turned back and asked in a barely-audible voice. "Can I help?" He would tell her she could help by leaving him alone; Madeleine was sure of it. But that was all right. She was ready for it, she hoped, and at least she would have tried.
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Ezre Vks
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Location: Brunnhold, Anaxas
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: better with the dead
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Fri May 31, 2019 1:26 pm

The Library
Dinner Hour on the 19th of Bethas, 2719

Ezre thumbed through the catalogue sections on geography, searching for what Brunnhold had to offer about his homeland. Perhaps he was specifically hoping for books that included illustrations and spectography plates of the rugged, frigid landscape of Hox, but the truth was it didn't really matter. A majestic view of the glorious Vroh Guar would have been quite uplifting to his spirits, but even some sub-par etchings of Frecksat would have been a comfort.

Transferring to the Anaxi university so late in his studies had not only been encouraged by his parents, but fully supported by his extended family and at least one Hexxos elder. The suggestion that there were unique perspectives to be gained and otherwise inaccessible information to be studied, both about the magical focus of his choice as well as about the Cycle, death, and spirituality in Vita. It was just too bad Brunnhold was in the Kingdom of Anaxas which was almost an entire season away by currently available travel methods.

He was memorizing a couple of call numbers and attempting to remember what section of the vast library he'd have to wander off to when the now-familiar sensation of so much weight of the universe in the form of monic particles trickled into his own extrasensory awareness and his dark eyes glanced up from dusty edges of thick paper, tattooed finger curling to hold back the long stack from toppling onto the one card he'd been about to look at,

"It's not your fault—my feelings are my own." Ezre's tone wasn't harsh or offended but his lingering Deftung accent was unmistakably pronounced when there were enough consonants, making his words sharper than Estuan. He shifted slightly on his feet when she stumbled over a sentence she didn't seem to want to finish. He'd have replied to the assumption—was it hard to be so far from home? was it hard to be a foreigner in Brunnhold culture? was it hard to simply exist?—but the younger Anaxi simply apologized again and attempted to slip away into the stacks of books and away from his person.

He swallowed his words, aware that they'd have been better unspoken anyway, and glanced back down to the card his fingers held in place.

"I'm sure you have your own agenda here in the library, do you not? I'm simply satiating my wish to be home by searching out some geography books to look at in a quiet corner." Her question was completely unexpected as she returned yet again, and this time the Hoxian didn't look back up right away. Did she feel guilt or shame? Did it matter? She really didn't need to feel either as he'd not been particularly hurt in any purposeful way. Ezre looked at the spine of the book she was clutching—Conchobhair was the author—and then finally met her blue-eyed gaze,

"I didn't spend my formative years here at Brunnhold and so have not experienced the foundational classes necessary to make me entirely familiar with the library's catalogue system. If you'd really like to be of assistance—though it isn't at all a necessary gesture as I require no apologies—then perhaps you can tell me where the nine hundreds' stacks are? Is it this floor or another?" He offered the hint of a smile, closing the drawer he had been looking in as if satisfied with his memorized selections and straightened, palms smoothing over his lightweight wool sweater that hung loosely off of his delicate frame,

"My name is Ezre Vks. In case today's date didn't give anything away, I'm in ninth form. We clearly don't share a focus," The Hoxian added by way of introducing himself, caprising her field with the most unobtrusive of flexes from his own. He was aware that his surname was embarrassingly difficult for non-native Deftung speakers, and so he simply shifted the attention away from himself, "but what form have you entered this year?"

He obviously wasn't disturbed by her previous admonishment, nor was he actually as shy as his soft spoken nature implied.
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Madeleine Gosselin
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Fri May 31, 2019 5:13 pm

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719 | The Library
Madeleine’s shoulders hunched a little at the Hoxian’s initial response. It had been polite, but it had been a poilte dismissal; she couldn’t think of any other way to interpret it. For all she had thought she was prepared for it, Madeleine still felt a little bit as if something had gotten lodged in her throat. She didn’t respond aloud, just nodded faintly in response to his question of whether she had something else to do in the library. She clutched the treatise tighter against her chest and looked down again, then back up. Madeleine couldn’t have said what she was looking for, but she was more than ready to leave him alone; it felt like she was digging herself further and further into a hole with every word.

And then, abruptly, he met her gaze and started talking. Madeleine looked at him, blue eyes widening steadily as he went on. Her whole posture changed as he kept talking, her shoulders went from hunched and rounded to pulled back, her spine straightening out; when not crouching over a book as if it was a shield that might keep (potentially) mean words from cutting her she had posture nearly as good as his. Her face, which had been drawn and slightly pinched, relaxed along with her posture, and she smiled back at him, returning the faint smile he’d given her with considerably more force.

"Oh, they’re on the second floor!" Madeleine said, happily, brushing past his insistence that she need not help as if it hadn't even been voiced. "I can show you? I mean, I’m going nearby anyway, my book is in the eight hundreds’ stack so I – I mean – it wouldn’t be any trouble, really."

His last name didn’t strike Madeleine as a word so much as an incomprehensible burst of consonants. That was a bit difficult – Madeleine was always more comfortable referring to older students by their last names, but she would try if she had to, she would. Ezre, at least, wasn’t too difficult, and Madeleine did her best to fix the name in her mind. It would be so terribly rude to forget it.

"This way," Madeleine took half a step back. Even her steps had changed, with a light, lithe bounce to them now that she wasn’t (as) weighed down by feelings of inadequacy and remorse. As crowded as the first floor of the library was, the balcony where the nine hundreds and eight hundreds were stored was even more cluttered, and so it was best to move about the lower floor, and go up the nearest stair. Madeleine walked half-turned, glancing behind her periodically but mostly keeping her focus on Ezre, as if she might somehow lose track of him if she looked away too long.

"Actually," Madeleine continued, "My brother and sister are in ninth form. My sister, Angelique – Angelique Gosselin – her focus is perceptive conversation. Do you know her?" She smiled at Ezre again, neatly dodging a chair pulled slightly out into the aisle with a graceful little skip sideways. "How long have you been here at Brunnhold?"
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Ezre Vks
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: better with the dead
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Sun Jun 09, 2019 11:36 pm

The Library
Dinner Hour on the 19th of Bethas, 2719

The Hoxian was far better at reading the emotions of others than he was at expressing his own, if only because he'd been exposed to so many different displays of blatant feelings in the year or so he'd been in Anaxas at all. In his homeland, such expressive behavior was saved for private moments among just friends or family or other intimate relations, not for full public view. Not everyone needed to broadcast the internal workings of their hearts, and yet his dark eyes didn't miss how Madeleine felt he'd dismissed her, how his dismissal had not been the sort of affirmation she'd been seeking in his reaction.

His delicate lips turned upward into a gentler smile as if to reassure her and then he reminded himself that it was his responsibility in this moment to make conversation. While he didn't exactly feel as though he needed assistance, it dawned on him that perhaps it was Miss Gosselin who needed the company without knowing how to ask or even being aware of it herself.

"I'll follow you if you know the way, yes. Thank you." Ezre nodded, though it wasn't overly eager so much as polite, turning more in her direction and adjusting the satchel over his shoulder with tattooed fingers curling around the faded, well-worn leather strap. The younger student took a step back and began to lead them both, though she continued with conversation instead of silence,

"Boh—" The dark-eyed boy made a noise of disapproval, suddenly connecting Madeleine's surname with other faces who shared it, "—my elective classes are all in Perceptive Conversation. Zjai—yes—I know the older Miss Gosselin. Your sister Angelique is, uh—"

What was the polite and balanced way to express his annoyance with Angelique in his Perceptive classes? How did he say that he could already tell this younger Gosselin and her elder sister were not cut from the same weave of cloth? Was there a way to disguise his impolite disdain for her competitive cruelty in his tone?

"—singularly focused on her position as top of the class. She has not once mentioned you, which I have come to understand is an Anaxi way of revealing dislike for someone. Is it forward of me to assume that you two are not close?"

Ezre had no siblings and while he had an admirable extended family of cousins and other relatives, he'd never known the kind of complex relationships other students seem to have in their sibling dynamics. Perhaps his assumption would be seen as overstepping the sorts of boundaries strangers made with each other, but the Hoxian followed along with quiet footsteps, tucking in the chair so that it was flush against the table when Madeleine nearly backed into it and side-stepping obstacles a few heartbeats sooner than necessary in the hopes of giving the young woman a hint of what to avoid when she wasn't looking,

"Me? Oh. Since the beginning of eighth form. I transferred from Frekstat to finish my studies, but I hope to do my post-grauduate work in Mugroba." The dark-eyed boy was looking at stacks as they went by them, glancing at their numbers as they made their way toward the stairs. Without directly asking Madeleine's age form, he added an obvious question at the end of his answer, quite close enough to be able to differentiate all of the subtleties of the other student's field, "Have you declared your focus?"
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Madeleine Gosselin
Posts: 66
Joined: Sun May 26, 2019 3:54 pm
Topics: 7
Race: Galdor
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: moralhazard
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Mon Jun 10, 2019 5:59 am

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719 | The Library
Madeleine had noticed the strange lines on his feet, beneath the sandals, and now, with his fingers wrapped around the strap of his satchel, she could see them clearly there as well. Her eyes dropped noticeably to his fingers, widened a little, then looked back up to his face. She was curious, very curious, but not more curious than she was about whether he knew Angelique.

And he did!

Madeleine perked up a little more when Ezre answered in the affirmative. She waited, face open and bright, for Ezre to find the words to describe what he thought of her sister, and nodded enthusiastically when he described Angelique as focused on being at the top of the class. Angelique was very smart, and she was the top of her class, and she worked hard to stay there; to Madeleine, that was the only possible interpretation of Ezre’s words. Perhaps someone more insightful might have read the subtle undertones to his words, but they passed Madeleine by entirely.

“Oh,” Madeleine dimmed, slightly, when he kept talking. It wasn’t like it was a surprise that Angelique didn’t mention her. Honestly, in a secret corner of her heart, it was a relief; as much as she wished that her older sister liked her better, she was aware of the sort of things Angelique might say if… if she talked about Madeleine at all. So, really, it was probably for the best. “Um. I suppose it’s – well – she’s very busy,” Madeleine offered. “We don’t – have very much time together.”

It was a little forward to have said such a thing, Madeleine thought, but she didn’t quite feel up to correcting Ezre. It was easier, much easier, to change the subject, and Ezre’s time at Brunnhold was much nicer to talk about. He had been here a little over a year then. “Do you like Brunnhold?” Madeleine asked, smiling. There was, to her mind, only one possible answer, but she thought she would ask anyway. “I don’t – really know anything about Frekstat,” The word was at least recognizable as the same one Ezre had said, and Madeleine was trying so hard it probably hurt a little bit. “It must be very different. And Mugroba too! I think it’s very hot there, that’s what everyone says.” That, and they walked around with barely any clothing on at all; it was really shocking. But, of course, Madeleine couldn’t say such a thing to a boy.

“Oh, yes, just this year,” Madeleine said happily in response to Ezre's question about her focus. “Physical conversation, and some static also,” she was still mostly walking backwards, and she hefted the book a little, turning the tome so Ezre could see the title written across the front, ‘Defying Gravity’ in large and sort of spikey cursive, with a smaller, largely illegible subscript beneath. “This is from class – well – my professor mentioned it in class. Professor Conchobhair had some fascinating ideas on gravity spells, even if it’s a bit old-fashioned. They were exciting and new when he wrote them, I think? Although now I suppose since loads of people have read it, there’s newer thinking but I just – wanted to read the originals. It’s really nice being in the – um – the more specialized classes. I’m not sure, if – were your studies organized the same way in - um - before?”

Madeleine glanced behind her once more and came to a stop at the edge of the stairs, waiting for a moment as a student scrambled down them with two heavy-looking books. She turned to go up and almost skipped up the stairs, boot-heeled steps light, delicate and surprisingly quick, with a dancer’s easy economy of movement. She turned back again at the top of the stairs for Ezre, waiting cheerfully.

“The nine hundreds are just here,” Madeleine explained once he had rejoined her, looking over her shoulder at the bookshelves there, then back at Ezre. It was oddly disappointing, somehow, to have reached their destination. She was sure Ezre would want to go find the books he’d been looking for now, and not to bother with talking to her anymore. Madeleine took a half-step back, clearing the way for him, swallowing a little. She didn’t want him to feel like he had to rush away, though, so she didn’t say anything to conclude just yet, holding out a faint tendril of hope that – maybe – he would want to talk more, even if Conchobhair was calling, and Madeleine really ought to go find her book.

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