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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
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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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Tue Jun 11, 2019 1:33 pm

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

"Our time together in awareness of each other is limited before we must return to the Cycle. No one should be too busy for those they've been given the privilege of calling family." Ezre spoke softly without thinking of the esoteric nature of his opinions, dark eyes narrowing for a moment at how easily Madeleine made excuses for Angelique, for perhaps other members of her family as well. Perhaps she missed them. The Hoxian missed his relatives, too, but when he was home, he never lacked for their company or contact.

The boy didn't think much on the weight of his judgment nor the forcefulness of his method of getting to the point of conversation. He was not one to overstuff his interactions or skirt around particular issues, and while it seemed as those Miss Gosselin didn't quite catch on to his accusation about her sister or at least refused to believe it, perhaps it was for the best.

She asked how he felt about his time here as a student and he actually paused, thoughtful for a moment, dark eyes distant and then coming into focus on her face again, meeting her gaze,

"Brunnhold's unrivaled academic status among the Six Kingdoms is well-founded and I find their meticulous historical collections both here and in the Crypts beneath the Church of the Moon to be very impressive. Am I entirely enjoying myself being so far from home? No. Not always. But it's not as unpleasant as that admission sounds." Ezre was honest, and his answer to her perhaps hopefully innocuous question was met with a reply that seemed to aptly summarize both his excitement and his disappointment all at once. He chose not to discuss his opinions on Anaxi as a people, on Brunnhold students and the weaknesses in character he perceived, nor on the political state of the Kingdom itself.

"Frekstat is much smaller and perhaps more humble by comparison, though I would dispute the claim that its academics are at all inferior. It felt much more intimate and close-knit, but I believe that my culture has a different sense of community than in Anaxas." The Hoxian added with a warm hint of pride in the otherwise unemotional tone of their voice, "And I will agree that the thought of Mugroba's heat intimidates me as well, which is why I chose to spend the next few years here first, acclimating. Hox is a very cold Kingdom."

They both talked as they climbed the stairs to the second floor of the Library, Ezre glancing over the railing at the tall stacks and smattering of students below, so many of their heads ginger. The tall windows let in very warm, gorgeous light, and he appreciated the very different style of Anaxi architecture. The lilt of his accent was strong for a Hoxian, often emphasizing the consonants far more than most of his foreign peers and softening H-sounds and F-sounds, "My homeland is known for Static Conversation, but I appreciate those who are willing to understand the way Vita works in order to become better Physical sorcerers. Even if that's never been an interest of mine."

He stepped aside in time to allow another student to pass by them both, burdened by very impressively large tomes, pausing at the top of the stairs when Madeleine pointed out the direction of the nine hundreds stacks,

"Frekstat also requires students to declare their focus, though I feel as though the foundation classes here are a little less—how do I say it?—rigorous. I would say that Hox has a much more open-ended last few years of study, while Anaxas seems very strict about shoving students into a career focus." Whether that was a better method of organization or study, Ezre couldn't necessarily pass his judgment. He hovered, unsure of how to dismiss himself or whether he needed to at all.

He nodded in the direction of her book, deciding to make more small talk because he wasn't entirely in a hurry to no longer have conversational company. Ezre was homesick, after all, which meant companionship of any kind was far better than sitting alone in silence, even if Madeleine wasn't Hoxian and probably couldn't entirely understand him anyway,

"Where I come from in Hox—Kzecka—the knowledge of those who came before us is considered valuable and given the utmost respect, even when new discoveries are made afterward, no one can deny honor to those who laid the foundations for such progress. Sometimes, there is still insight in their different methods of thinking." His mother was, of course, proof of that, as were other raen. Older ones, anyway. New beings like Tom did not have the stores of wisdom that a century brought to the mind, and yet the boy hadn't hesitated to offer what he could,

"This Kingdom seems too keen for progress, but only because there is little guilt about stepping on the backs of others to reach higher—anyway, I—" He paused again, obviously considering his words for longer than most would have thought really necessary, attempting to find the correct approach to the invitation he made in order to not sound awkward or desperate, in order to make a simple offer instead,

"—I will probably remain up here as it is less crowded than the lower floor of the library—"

His words could have been misconstrued as dismissive given the lack of any specific emotion behind them, but Ezre's delicate features warmed into a smile even as he tilted his head in the direction of his decimal system destination,

"—if you don't want to sit at a table alone, that is."
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Madeleine Gosselin
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Wed Jun 12, 2019 6:07 am

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719
The Library
No one should be too busy for those they’ve been given the privilege of calling family. Ezre’s words were soft, and his eyes narrowed at Madeleine as he spoke. The words reached somewhere into her heart and squeezed, painfully, and she was left feeling defensive, smile dimming as it had when he spoke about Angelique’s regard (or lack thereof) of Madeleine. Madeleine bit her lip, not quite sure what to say. Her grandmother had never been too busy for Madeleine; otherwise, she couldn’t think of many times when her parents, her sister, her brothers weren’t too busy for her.

There didn’t seem to really be any response she could make, or any explanation she could give. Surely Hoxians also had important things to do, work and studying and social events. Perhaps not; perhaps in Hox they had time to sit around and be together and talk about things. Madeleine didn’t know. But it wasn’t like that there, and she knew it. The strangest part of it all was that she felt like Ezre’s words were an attack, and she wanted badly to defend her family against them, but she didn’t know how. It didn’t seem like there were any words she could find that were equal to the task.

“I – I don’t know,” Madeleine managed, finally, a half-hearted answer at best.

Madeleine transparently avoided anything that touched on home or different senses of community, feeling a little skittish on the subject. “Oh, yes, I read about the Spondola Mountains!” She said, enthusiastically. “For geography class. Some of them are covered in snow all year round, aren’t they? It must be terribly cold. Even when it snows here only a little – well, it’s nice at first, isn’t it? It’s so pretty and white, but then it gets a bit – um – it’s not so nice when it’s melting.”

“Kzecka,” Madeleine did her best to repeat the word, bright-eyed and enthusiastic. She largely failed, stuttering over unfamiliar combinations of sounds, but her effort was obvious. “Oh, but progress is -” Ezre stopped and changed the subject, and Madeleine trailed off as well, following his conversational lead, wide-eyed.

Madeleine nodded a little when Ezre said he’d stay up here, taking a half-step back away to give him the space she thought he’d ask for – and, then, to her surprise, he invited her to sit with him. Or, at least, Madeleine thought he did. She went over the words again in her head, carefully double checking, and that meant a long heartbeat of awkward silence as Madeline tried desperately to avoid accepting an invitation that hadn’t actually been given.

His patience would be rewarded, as hers had been. Madeleine’s smile was even brighter than it had been downstairs, her face lighting up. “Oh! Yes, I – I’ll – I’ll stay up here, then! That would be nice, I – thank you!” Madeleine actually giggled, happy and relaxed once more, new tension drained yet again from her shoulders. The faintly pinched look had come back with the discussion of her family, but it fled easily once more.

“I’ll just – go find my book and come back?” Madeleine suggested. She glanced around; there was a table not far between the eight hundreds and nine hundreds stacks, and she took a few quick steps over, setting the treatise down on it, looking up at Ezre. “Is this – would you want to sit here?” Madeleine was more than happy to move if not, but if he agreed she would leave the treatise there and dash off towards the eight hundreds, still gripping the bit of paper with her references on it. As she went, she looked back at Ezre once, then twice, as if slightly unsure whether he would actually stick around.

Madeleine made her way into the eight hundreds stacks, still smiling brightly. She looked around, admiring all the old books, and traced her gaze along the various numbers with a little hum of happiness, lifting up on her toes and twirling around once in the middle of the aisle, her uniform skirt spinning out around her and her already messy hair giving up further on its bun. She was giggling again when she stopped, although very quietly so as not to disturb any other students who might be nearby.

A little further down, and she found it – on the very top shelf. Madeleine wrinkled her nose, stepping back as far as she could go to find the right book, bound in a blue hard cover, Conchobhair written along the spine. Jumping, Madeleine could only just reach the bottom with her fingertips. She tried to pull at it, feebly, but it didn’t move. She glanced around. Ezre wasn’t any taller than she was, not really, so she didn’t think it would be much good to ask him for help. The upper level was quieter, and she hadn’t seen any other students around so far; no one was conveniently nearby in the aisle.

Pursuing knowledge was a noble use, wasn’t it? Madeleine stared solemnly at the book, and decided that it was, it definitely was, and the mona would be happy to help her learn more about them. Surely the mona approved of – um – what had Ezre called it? Ch-checka?

Madeleine took a deep breath, and invoked the solemn words of the pull spell, asking the mona to bring the book off the shelf.

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SidekickBOTToday at 12:58 PM
@moralhazard: 1d6 = (4) = 4

The book shuddered, and then slid, wobbling, backwards off the shelf and fell messily, the spine thudding into Madeleine’s shoulder with a quiet thump. She managed, just barely, to get her arms around it, keeping it from hitting the ground. Madeleine stood, holding the treatise, a large dusty smear on her shoulder of her uniform and another on her cheek, and beamed, feeling lighter than air.

Happily, clutching the new treatise in both hands, Madeleine made her way back out of the eight hundreds stack to the table. She set the new book down, carefully, next to the older one, and brushed her shoulder off, utterly ignorant of the smear of dust on her cheek. Madeleine took her notebook out of her bag, setting it down on the table, and settled down into the chair, brushing her skirt over her legs and happily tucking in to her new book, brownish-red hair bent over the yellowed pages.

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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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Mon Jun 24, 2019 4:11 pm

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

"Hox isn't a very warm place, no, despite sharing the Steppes with Mugroba. Kzecka has a very brief spring and even more fleeting summer, but there is snow more often than there is any heat." Ezre repeated the name of his isolated, library-filled temple home not to correct Madeleine in its pronunciation so much as to allow her to hear the parts she was mostly getting right about the awkward series of consonants. He might have even smiled a little, offering encouragement, because he'd realized that perhaps the younger student struggled to read him in his lack of obvious, emotive communication.

It was not an uncommon struggle here in the Kingdom of Anaxas as a Hoxian native, but for the most part, the dark-haired boy had managed to make a few friends. There were plenty of other peers who had no interest in attempting to see past the cultural differences, but Ezre was the type who patiently and calmly walked them to the Lawn whenever he felt it as a matter of personal honor.

His small, delicate smile became a curious smirk when it appeared young Madeleine had opinions about progress and Anaxi methodologies, but he changed the subject too quickly to hear them. Whether it was purposeful or not was a clever mystery and the older student gave no hints either way through the mask of his rhakor. She agreed to sit with him and he nodded at her suggestion instead of wasting more words over such casual arrangements, turning to go meander through the Geography section in order to find the titles that had stood out to him.

He wasn't even here to study, to be fair, and that sort of emotional weakness would have been embarrassing had he not been caught in the act of skipping Formal Dinner to begin with. Ezre was aware that a Demerit was most likely going to go on his record, but he couldn't bring himself to feel at all concerned as his tattooed fingers traced over leather and gilded spines, dark eyes flitting over titles.

One.

Two.

Three.

Four books on the landscape and untamed beauty of Hox, piled high in the small-framed galdor's arms. He rest his chin against the musty cover of the top book he carried to steady it all, closing his eyes for a moment and breathing deeply the familiar smell of old paper, waxed leather, and so much ink. Kzecka was more than just a home to the Hexxos, but also a sacred place full of the largest religious library in the Six Kingdoms. He'd grown up around literature, psalms and proverbs, and crumbling spiritual texts. There in the stacks, just for a brief moment, Ezre traveled the long distance home, the scents triggering memories and filling his senses with visions of his unique but not entirely idyllic childhood.

He could see Vroh Guar on the horizon at sunset. He could see the dancing of the northern lights, trails of the passage of the gods, in the night sky so full of stars. He could feel the chill of frigid air in Hoxian winter, stealing his breath. He remembered every room of his home in the shadow of the library. He heard his mother's old Deftung songs. He smelled his father's cooking—

The dark-haired boy opened his eyes again and was immediately disappointed to find himself still staring at the nine hundred stacks in the library of Brunnhold. Blinking slowly, the heat of tears stung the edges of his eyes but he did not have the hands free to furiously wipe at his face, jaw clenching against the leather of a book cover. Ezre gathered himself again, but it was with a reluctance—no one needed to see the depths of his homesickness, no one needed to be burdened with his weaknesses.

Exhaling slowly, he made his way back to the table he'd volunteered to share with the young Miss Gosselin, seeing the girl already seated with her book. His field announced his presence instead of his voice with a gentle flex, the older student making his way around the table to set his books down opposite her. Shrugging off his satchel and settling into his chair without a word, he did his best not to draw attention to the moisture on his face which he finally wiped away with the smooth palms of tattooed hands as nonchalantly as possible.

Glancing over at Madelein, he let one of his hands linger by his cheek and repeated the motion of brushing something away from his delicate features, clearing his throat as if to imply she might have something on her face, choosing to make very innocuous small talk in hopes of further deflecting any focus upon himself,

"Was Conchobhair's tome difficult to find?"

Ezre reached for the first book of his pile and set it in front of him, inked fingers running over the gilded title before he opened it and began to meander through the pages with his thumb, glancing at picture plates of etchings as if looking for a particular location in Hox to gaze upon.
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Madeleine Gosselin
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Tue Jun 25, 2019 10:44 am

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719
The Library
Che-checka was his home, Madeleine realized abruptly, with a hot flush of embarrassment that swept through her field and over her cheeks and down the back of her neck. She had thought it – some other word, something meaning honoring one’s ancestors. Had he known? Was that why he had said it again, so carefully? Ezre was smiling at her again, but Madeleine couldn’t tell why, couldn’t tell if it was encouragement or amusement. It didn’t matter, in the end, because he still wanted to sit together.

Madeleine was already well into Conchobhair’s earlier book by the time Ezre’s field brushed her own, a delicate flex that managed to let her know he was there without disturbing her. Madeleine knew it was terribly rude, but she was halfway through a fascinating paragraph already, and she thought she would just finish it, just finish this one thought, before she looked up. Her own field was alive and vibrant, the excitement she felt flickering through it, strengthening the rough, heavy feeling her physical spells had left in it, maybe a little stronger than before after her pull spell.

Ezre cleared his throat, and Madeleine looked up wide-eyed to see him brushing at his cheek. Reflexively, Madeleine lifted her hand to her own cheek, and pulled it away to see – Madeleine’s cheeks flamed a vigorous red, again, and she brushed hastily at her cheek, rubbing at it with her fingers until the skin over her cheekbone was reddened from the pressure. She opened her mouth to ask if she’d gotten it, and then she was too embarrassed to finish the question. After a moment of painful internal deliberation, with a little wince, she brushed a clean part of her sleeve against it. More dust came off, and Madeleine wondered just how much there was. A second brush was clean, though, and Madeleine switched her focus to try to rub the dust off her sleeve. Her attempts seemed to only make it worse, and after a moment she gave up. The passives would deal with it.

“No, not at all,” Madeleine hadn’t expected Ezre to want to talk, but she was happy he did. She lifted the book up, propping it on the table to show him the spine with a bright smile, and shifting to show him the words ‘Pulling Gravity’ on the front. She plopped the book back down with a heavy thump. It was much easier to read than ‘Defying Gravity’ had been, both because it was more focused and because Conchobhair didn’t seem to have been quite as rambling in the earlier work.

“Defying Gravity is a more – um – comprehensive work?” Madeleine’s voice rose at the end of the sentence, a little lift that turned the statement into a question. “It’s where he really lays out all his theories. But I think maybe he got the idea while he was writing Pulling Gravity, or else he had it already. It just focuses more narrowly on the part of gravity that’s about pulling. It’s just pulling, mass and distance. Well – pulling is the gravitational constant, really. I suppose they didn’t call it that then. What he discusses in Pulling Gravity is just the idea that you can ask the mona to manipulate the gravitational constant instead of the mass. He theorizes that for certain objects – fragile ones, especially – that might be easier for purposes of backlash. He says his own experiments show it, and I think he has…” Madeleine flipped through the book, ignoring the dust that flew into the air to settle on her hair and clothing, “yes, he has some spells later that he says demonstrate the principle.” She turned back to where she’d been, still glowing with enthusiasm. “He says prove, actually, but now we wouldn’t say anything so strong, but I think it will be very suggestive.”

“Then, in Defying Gravity, he extends that to considering when to use which spells for all sorts of things,” Madeleine said, brightly. “It’s not as applied. He really tests his theories in Pulling Gravity. He mentioned that in Defying Gravity, and so I thought I’d – I’d like to…” she trailed off, worriedly, remembering that Ezre had said he wasn’t interested in Physical sorcery, at all. Madeleine swallowed, hard, and looked back down at the book.

“Anyway it’s – very interesting,” Madeleine finished, softly, curling back into herself before Ezre's eyes.

Madeleine took a little breath, letting it out shakily. “Did you – did you find what you wanted?” She looked back up at Ezre, at his little pile of books. Her eyes caught, curiously, on the tattoos on his fingers, but she didn’t ask, even though she wanted to. It seemed terribly improper to comment on someone else’s skin, once Madeleine really thought about it.

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Ezre Vks
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: better with the dead
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Fri Jun 28, 2019 3:39 pm

The Library
Dinner Hour on the 19th of Bethas, 2719
Ezre's mostly emotionless visage hardly faltered while Madeleine attempted to wipe her face, while she blushed and appeared to be horribly flustered when she discovered there was far more dust from the old tome than she'd ever expected there on her cheek. He'd just pointed it out so she could be rid of it, not to embarrass her, and it seemed as though he'd succeeded in the opposite of both judging by the color that rose to her features and the smear she spread both on her sleeve and the rest of her cheek. Luckily, the whole process was over quickly and it seemed as though she'd not at all noticed the moisture of tears that clung to his thick, dark lashes or burned at the edges of his dark eyes.

Good.

The Hoxian asked out of politeness more than out of a desire to make conversation, but it seemed as though his simple question opened a door he'd not intended to walk into. He nodded when Madeleine answered him about the ease of finding her book and then looked back down to his own, tattooed fingers tracing over one of the etchings of a map of his homeland, the image plate possessing little labeled circles of all the major galdori cities and towns in the Kingdom, many of them nestled in the Spondola Mountains. He didn't even look up when she began talking about the works of Conchobhair, comparing the two books she had of his in her possession.

He turned a page. He skimmed the table of contents and turned another page. Then another. And then a few more. She was discussing theories on gravity and physics. He was skimming old, musty pages with descriptions of villages and townships he all knew by name, eager to read the word Kzecka and see the opinions of some galdor from eighty years ago just to help assuage the homesickness that gnawed at his insides like a hungry ghost. She'd said something about backlash and he felt the breeze of her flipping pages tickle his hands, causing him to look up for just the briefest of moments, palms coming to rest on the table on either side of his book, tattoos in full view, a single line of both disappearing into the soft linen hems of his sleeves along his wrists.

Ezre waited out the younger student's enthusiasm, smiling patiently. He could have asked her additional questions, but admittedly, he weighed the consequences of furthering conversation about a subject he wasn't knowledgeable about and chose to just listen. It wasn't disinteresting, not really, and while Madeleine seemed to dismiss some of the galdor's work because of how old his writing was, the Hexxos acolyte agreed with her that his theories most likely still had something to offer modern students such as herself and her peers.

Unlike conversation with Lilanee, which despite his use of fewer words he could keep up with because he was usually involved in the subject matter, whether it be anthropology or anatomy or archeology, physics and physical conversation held little of his attention and so much of the young Anaxi girl's words were simply heard and not entirely processed.

She returned the favor of asking him something, and Ezre watched her settle into her chair. Her bright gaze wandered to his hands and he almost instinctually shifted his fingers, not attempting to hide from her while he turned another page in his book,

"Short of an instantaneous trip back to Hox, zjai, these books will have to do." It was simple honesty, really, and while it was delivered with a very acceptable even tone of voice, the thick Deftung accent of his holding firmly onto consonants, it was also perhaps unexpectedly revealing. He was homesick, but he wasn't about to say such a thing with such directness in front of a stranger, "I was not actually looking for any books in particular, but I've heard good things about this printmaker and her renditions of landscapes of the Six Kingdoms—"

He pointed to the signature at the bottom of the image plate that dominated both pages of the book he'd opened: Ari'a Urtgud, "—she's a Hessean, if I recall, and she personally attempts to travel to all the places she illustrates. These images of Hox are—" The dark-haired boy paused, his rhakor faltering just enough to allow a slight waver in his voice, a hint of what could only be described as sadness, but none of it appeared on his face, "—are very well-crafted."

Turning a few pages with his thumb, he turned the book around to allow Madeline to see an illustration of Kzecka's Great Library, sighing almost wistfully before speaking again, "This was one of my favorite places from home. It is said we have some of the oldest religious books in all of the Ten Kingdoms, and—oh."

He ran tattooed fingers over the detailed drawing of simple architecture of wood and stone as well as the rows of books and scrolls, then, suddenly aware of his enthusiasm, he set the book back down quietly and turned it back toward himself with an expression of almost-chagrin settling on his face, "You are studying. I will let you get back to your research. I just came here for myself, actually."

Concerned that he'd overstepped his boundaries, Ezre nodded curtly and glanced back down to the pages of his book, clearing his throat to add one more comment, wanting to acknowledge that he noticed Madeleine's attention to his hands and wanting to make sure that there was no confusion, "Speaking of religion, the markings on my hands are related to my upbringing. Just in case you were curious."

Calm as always on the outside while memories of home churned through his mind, selfishly attempting to make more conversation while carefully disguising it behind his quiet demeanor, the Hoxian didn't even look up to see the reaction his directness may have caused.
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Madeleine Gosselin
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Sat Jun 29, 2019 2:03 am

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719
The Library
Madeleine wasn’t sure if she had made a mistake or not. Ezre was still smiling, and he answered her question without hesitating. She still had a feeling in her stomach like she’d done something wrong, but - well - it felt that way a lot. All the same she thought she had better not talk about gravity anymore.

Madeleine swallowed down her doubts and listened attentively to Ezre explain about the book, the prints, his odd fingers smoothing the pages. If his voice quivered she missed it; the little galdor could hardly pick up on the feelings of her own kind, let alone someone with Ezre’s (admittedly imperfect, but still superior) level of control.

“Ohhhh...” Madeleine leaned forward to stare at the drawing of the library, openly admiring. Ezre pulled it back abruptly, and Madeleine flinched, not understanding. Maybe he didn’t want to share it with her? That was all right, Madeleine told herself. Some things were personal. She liked libraries; she would have liked to know more about it. It wasn’t as nice as the Library at Brunnhold, naturally. It couldn’t be. But perhaps they had some nice collections, maybe specialized things. Madeleine could allow that quite easily.

“I -“ Madeleine paused, torn between Conchobhair and Ezre’s book, wanting to ask, not quite sure if he was trying to say that he didn’t want her at the table, not anymore, or if he was only trying not to disturb her. He wasn’t smiling anymore. She didn’t know what to say, so she didn’t say anything.

The comment about the marks on Ezre’s hands felt like it came out of nowhere. Madeleine went through a hot rush of emotions, all of which were displayed on her face and rushed through her field: bright curiosity, swiftly suppressed by embarrassment, and then confusion, mingled with a little sadness.

Madeleine had decided that she was certainly not allowed to ask about Ezre’s hands. It did seem terribly inappropriate, after all. If he had brought it up - Madeleine hesitated. Was it appropriate for him to bring it up? She thought so but she wasn’t sure. Maybe she should tell him it might not be? He was Hoxian, after all; he might not know. But Madeleine wasn’t sure and she thought it would be even worse to tell him the wrong thing. Madeleine took a shaky little breath, but she felt sure she shouldn’t say anything.

Then - could she ask more? She was so curious it almost hurt. Speaking of religion - his upbringing - it was like two halves of different sentences, and try as she might, Madeleine couldn’t put them together. Her stomach hurt. Ezre probably just wanted to look at his book. It probably still wasn’t appropriate to ask about his hands, even if he had mentioned them - and why had he mentioned them? Had he seen her looking at them? Another hot rush of embarrassment spiked in her face and field as Madeleine realized, very late, that he must have; it was the only thing that made sense for why he would bring it up - because she had been staring and she had embarrassed him.

Madeleine looked down at her book, slowly, starting to turn from the page she’d been on, small hands resting on it. No, she thought, she shouldn’t ask. It wasn’t polite, and she didn’t think Ezre wanted her to either. She should be a proper galdor, like her sister was, and she should politely not talk about inappropriate things. Just thinking about what Angelique would say about this conversation made Madeleine feel a little dizzy.

Her eyes flickered up again, to his hands, then back down to the book. She finished turning the page, but she couldn’t concentrate on the words on the top of the next page; it felt like they were written in some strange foreign language, Deftung maybe, instead of Estuan.

“What do you mean?” It felt like somebody else saying the words, but it was her. Madeleine’s cheeks were bright red, but she had looked up at Ezre and asked, quite clearly. After a moment, she faltered, then, softer and more hesitant, continued. “I didn’t - understand,” embarrassment again, and her gaze dropped back to the meaningless words at the top of her page.

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Ezre Vks
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: better with the dead
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Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:13 pm

The Library
Dinner Hour on the 19th of Bethas, 2719
The Hoxian had not meant to dismiss or offend the younger Anaxi, instead far too concerned that he was burdening her with his homesickness. He felt the ripple of surprise in her field and seeing the flicker of indecision on her face. Communicating with those who didn't understand his well-practiced rhakor could be difficult, he knew, for so many simply misinterpreted him as rude or disinterested or worse. He bit his lip, returning to flipping through the pages.

He couldn't help it, however, and he brought up the tattoos on his hands many stared at but only a few actually asked about. Madeleine was blushing when she looked up at him, and he reminded himself that this Kingdom's sense of propriety was so very different from his own,

"You did not ask the question out loud, no. But it is not a rude one, should you have. I would not have been offended. Here in Anaxas, you have the Everine. They serve Alioe and the other gods of the Circle. In Hox, we have several religious groups, one of which carries out other spiritual duties such as preparation of the dead and comforting of grieving families instead of focusing on the worship of Bash and the Circle. I grew up among those people: the Hexxos." He spread his hands out on the pages, palms downward, fingers splayed over the image of the library from his home, allowing the girl an entirely unobstructed and shameless view of every line inked beneath his golden skin. It would be obvious that the tattoos disappeared beneath both sleeves—a single line ran up each wrist and traveled only the gods knew where else over his person to finally end in similar patterns on his feet.

"My parents are both—my mother—" He struggled to find the right words to say, unable to decide how to present information that the young girl in front of him had neither asked for nor needed to hear. The dark-haired boy blinked, embarrassed at his need to talk about anything at all, but stayed still, "—my family has a history of involvement in the Hexxos, and I have not deviated from that tradition."

It was a simple enough answer, though the long history was perhaps quite the understatement considering what his mother, Lreya, was and everything his father, Tuhir, knew.

Considering what he himself knew.

Ezre watched Madeleine's face carefully, somewhat relieved that those not from his kingdom were, quite frankly, so easy to read. He didn't always understand Anaxi boundaries, but he felt as though he'd perhaps overstepped them. He slowly slid his hands away and turned his book around again, a bit of hesitation obvious in the motion as if he was afraid he was pressing too far, being too friendly, or sharing too much of himself with a stranger who didn't care or didn't want to know.

Turning a few pages away from the Library, there were more drawings of Kzecka: thatch-roofed homes on rocky mountainsides, soaring stone temples, and several people in flowing clothing, two of which had been drawn with similar tattoos on their hands as the Hoxian boy in front of the younger student, "See?"
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Madeleine Gosselin
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Joined: Sun May 26, 2019 3:54 pm
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Race: Galdor
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Mon Jul 08, 2019 11:13 pm

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719
The Library
Madeleine cringed visibly when Ezre began with what she thought was meant to be reassuring. She wanted desperately to correct him - of course it was a rude question! It was good that he wouldn’t have been offended, but those were not at all the same. One could, of course, graciously choose not to be offended by a rude question, but that didn’t make the question itself any less rude. Perhaps such things weren’t rude in Hox, but Madeleine was really starting to feel as if she needed to tell Ezre that it was rude here in Anaxas. What if he asked someone about their body? Madeleine shuddered a little just to think about it, embarrassment flickering through her field again.

The worst part of it was that what Ezre was saying was so - so - so interesting. And Madeleine couldn’t summon the will to pretend the polite disinterest she was sure would be appropriate here. She felt as if she was failing at being a proper galdor, yet again. Her parents would be so ashamed if they knew and yet -

“Hexxos,” Madeleine repeated the unfamiliar word, eyes bright entirely of their own volition, smiling at Ezre despite herself. A whole religious sect focused on the dead. Well, no wonder he was so strange! Madeleine was glad Ezre had come to Brunnhold. Thinking too much about the dead couldn’t be good for a person.

Madeleine studied the proffered hands curiously, a little unable to help herself once more. She had never seen anything like his tattoos, not really, and they were fascinating. Madeleine wondered how they got into the skin - magic? - and whether it hurt, like a scar. Her gaze lingered on the spot where they vanished into his sleeves for half a second, and then pulled away with a faint sense of franticness. Madeleine felt a surge of pure fear that he would see and - push up his sleeves or something terrible like that.

“How do you prepare the dead? Do you - touch them?” Madeleine asked, wide-eyed. “The dead? With your hands? Or is it with the mona’s help?” Comforting grieving families struck Madeleine as very noble, because even though of course she believed in the Circle, Madeleine had still been very sad when her grandmother died. She didn’t think she had been comforted, and she wasn’t entirely sure how such comforting would work, exactly, but it sounded very pleasant. Madeleine was sure she would have liked it, even if it seemed a bit - intimate, getting involved in someone else’s family at a moment like that.

He explained that it was something of a family tradition, and Madeleine nodded, understanding. She knew all about wanting to make one’s family proud; she was glad Ezre seemed to be better at it than she was. “It sounds,” Madeleine shifted, frowning a little, “very - important?” She tried. The word felt wrong, but she couldn’t bring herself to take it back and try again, looking down in embarrassment again.

Ezre turned the book around and slid it forward, and Madeleine’s spirits lifted once more. “Oh!” Madeleine said, delightedly, admiring the little figures. “Oh, yes, they’re just like yours! Is this - K - K -“ the little galdor peeked up at him, swallowed hard, and tried desperately. “Kzeckas?”

Madeleine would accept whatever criticism of her pronunciation came (she expected it to be considerable) with a faint pulse of shame, but push forward through it. “It looks lovely,” she offered bravely. “Do you really live in - those?” She giggled a little at the huts, finding them quaint and pastoral.

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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 Jul 12, 2019 10:36 am

The Library
Dinner Hour on the 19th of Bethas, 2719
The Hoxian had not lived in Anaxas long enough to distinguish every minute detail of Anaxi responses to his reserved personality, but so many of them were much more negative and pessimistic than he would have expected from a people who wore their intellectual achievements like laurels for all the other kingdoms to see. Their emotional intelligence was far inferior to his own, in his not so humble opinion, and despite his awareness that Madeleine was at least two years his junior, her looks of confusion and discomfort were discouraging. As much as he wanted to say that he was able to entirely read his peers, Ezre was often overwhelmed by their differences.

He'd perhaps moved the book too quickly, assumed she'd rather be studying, instead of allowed for a moment of sharing between them. He'd made an assumption and it had bothered the girl, but he could not take back his own actions now.

When he shifted the subject in an attempt to make amends, he only confused her further, it seemed. Their different opinions on propriety and conversational allowances clearly making a strange situation more awkward. The Hoxian shifted in his seat and did his best to present himself in a more approachable fashion, though he had no idea what that should even be like for Madeleine at this point, if it was at all possible.

"Of course you must touch a body to prepare it." Ezre failed in his attempt to be personable immediately, most certainly just given the subject matter, as his dark eyebrows raised and his dark eyes widened and his delicate lips warmed into an amused smile, "Everyone deserves as much care in death as they did in life. How a body is readied for burial depends on the culture. Here in Anaxas, a galdor is washed and perfumed, clothed in an outfit of the families' choosing with whatever mementos they wish to leave with them, wrapped carefully in specially-prepared linens and interred in a quiet ceremony by the Everine. Magic is largely unnecessary."

He chose not to continue with a lengthy comparison of the burial practices of the other five Kingdoms, quite sure such intricate details would most likely either be incredibly boring or rather disturbing to someone not interested or accustomed to it all as he was. Instead, he shrugged at her declaration that his decision to carry on his family traditions was important—it was, but for completely different reasons, "I have never had aspirations otherwise. I am an only child and simply felt it was my duty—do you have the privilege of choice in your career and future because you have siblings? I have always wondered about large families."

Ezre was genuine in his curiosity, the question revealing his sheltered, isolated upbringing as well as his self-imposed distance from a deeper understanding of Anaxi culture.

He turned the book back in her direction and traced inked fingers over the drawings of his home. While she most certainly couldn't sense any longing in his lingering touch or in the calm mask of his field, the dark-haired boy truly missed home and might have wished the pictures were more satisfying. They only stirred a deeper longing instead of soothed it and the sensation was uncomfortable, hidden as it was behind the hint of a smile, "Zjai—yes—the people of Kzecka could be called far more simple than cosmopolitan Viendans here in Anaxas or even other Hoxian people in Frecks. It is most unfortunate there are no interior drawings as the exteriors make my home look far more rustic than it actually is. Our level of technological advancement is on par with the rest of Hox, though we may purposefully eschew some unnecessary comforts in favor of a more devotional lifestyle."

The dark-haired boy fell quiet for a moment, looking down at the book before glancing up at the younger student, "I did not mean to take up your study time, so hopefully I have not imposed myself too much—though it was you who felt it important to make sure I receive a demerit for not observing Formal Dinner this evening—but to be transparent with a stranger, I have missed my home and often find the social expectations of Brunnhold student life to be far too demanding."

It was uncomfortable honesty and while Ezre was not at all angry for Madeleine's decision to call him out in front of Rosie, to object to his small rebellion against rules he found ridiculous anyway, he felt the need to share his reasons in the hopes that next time, perhaps around another student, she may have more empathy.
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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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Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:21 pm

Dinner Hour, 19th Bethas, 2719
The Library
Madeleine blushed faintly at – she couldn’t say, exactly. Maybe it was something in Ezre’s tone, or maybe it was just the subject matter (touching dead people!), but either way her face was red and she felt very embarrassed, even if she wasn’t exactly sure why. She agreed with Ezre that the dead did deserve respect, of course, and she wasn’t exactly sure either why he explained to her how a body was prepared in Anaxas; Madeleine had chosen a memento for her grandmother, had stood alone at the Everine’s ceremony. Her gaze dropped a little at the memory.

“I…” Madeleine shifted a little in her seat, blinking at Ezre, hesitant, not exactly sure how to answer the question. “I suppose?” She offered. “My family doesn’t have a, um, business exactly. Angelique wants to go into politics like they are, but I…” Madeleine was quiet, not sure how to express that she was fairly sure her parents thought she would embarrass them whatever she did, and particularly in politics, that they wouldn’t – want her to –

“I do want to make them proud,” Madeleine almost whispered, looking up at Ezre then down at the table, at her books and notes and messy sleeves, “but I don’t – I don’t know what my duty is.” Her shoulders hunched up a little more. She felt equally ashamed of the content and the fact of the admission, both the truth of it and that she had shared it with a near stranger; she regretted the words almost before they left her mouth.

The book was a thoroughly welcome distraction, and Madeleine grinned at Ezre’s explanation, missing any potential subtext around unnecessary comforts and what that might imply about Hox, Brunnhold, or any other sort of lifestyle, mostly just relieved that the inside of the huts wasn’t – well – just huts. She didn’t know what else to say though, and a little hush fell over the table again.

When Ezre spoke again, though, the smile on Madeleine’s face dimmed, and she withdrew a little again, swallowing hard. Something – disappointment, maybe, shame again – flickered through her field and across her face, and Madeleine made a gesture like a nod, hands coming off the table and folding together in her lap, her whole body just sort of pulling away from Ezre, more or less as far as she could go without actually getting up or fully moving.

“You – didn’t,” Madeleine tried, cautiously, not hopeful. She didn’t look at Ezre again. She had apologized, hadn’t she? Madeleine had thought – she didn’t think he had been angry, he had said before – what had he said? Madeleine swallowed, hard, but she couldn’t remember exactly, and now she was afraid that she had misunderstood, maybe just that, maybe all of it. The social expectations of Brunnhold – did he mean her? He had offered to sit together! He had wanted to, Madeleine had thought he - that maybe they - that he had enjoyed - but now she felt, miserably, that what had felt like a nice conversation to her had probably been torture to him.

“I liked hearing about your home,” Madeleine said, finally. She still didn’t look at him, not more than a quick flicker of her eyes up and then down again. With conscious effort, Madeleine began the raw, painful process of stripping her emotions from her field. She brought them back under control in her chest, to sit in a hard ball beneath her breastbone, secret and shameful. “Thank you for – sharing. I’m sorry,” again, she thought to herself, but didn’t say. “I should study, now.”

Quietly, still not looking at Ezre, Madeleine drew Conchobhair’s earlier book over to herself and stared intently at it, careful to keep it on the table between them, almost as if it might protect her. For the first few moments, it was hard; her eyes seemed to want to read the same words more than once and skip others for no particular reason. There was a really terrible moment when it was hard to read because her vision was a little wet and blurry, but Madeleine pushed through that, blinked it away, and kept going.

It was an interesting book, though, it really was, and in a few paragraphs Madeleine could focus on it again. She took out her notebook, jotting down a few equations and notes, and kept reading, much happier lost in her book than trying to make conversation, much happier thinking about the wonderful, mysterious force of gravity than how hard it was to make conversation. The knot in her chest didn’t quite go away, but it did loosen, just a little. At least Conchobhair, Madeleine thought miserably, she mostly understood.


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