[Closed] Necessary Mitigations

An intimate meeting to discuss the repercussions of Dorhaven, and a plan that invites tension among the troops.

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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Raksha
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Thu Jun 13, 2019 8:32 am

5th Hamis, 2719
BOOK & BELL| AFTER DARK
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“It’s a terrible idea.” Alyssa said flatly, looking at Jon with hard blue eyes and a frown, arms crossed and dark hair pulled away from her pale face. The AAF veteran sighed, rubbing his face with his hand and shaking his head, turning one glittering black eye on the galdor that stood with them in the small basement under the Book & Bell.

“It might be, but I think it’s all we have to play at the moment.” He said softly, leaning on his hand as his elbow came to rest on his knee. The Assassin looked away with a curse, glancing at the galdor with a narrowing of her gaze, before storming away to bang on the trap door that led up to behind the bar. Turning to lean nonchalantly against a barrel of mead, the woman tsked.

“Says the golly. I could have taken Azmus out of the picture months ago, but he promised us a payoff if we just waited. What pay off? The death of hundreds of men, women and children at the hands of corrupt galdori? Or the blame being thrown at the Resistance, with people genuinely believing it?” The magical being that stood in the darkness sighed, pulling his warm burgendy jacket closer and tucking his hands into his pockets.

“I assure you Miss Pierre, the time is rapidly approaching. We need this to let their guard down. Then, and only then, do we stand a chance.” The Wisp crossed her arms, leaving any further conversation on the dusty floor.

Above them, Stu stood behind the bar, wiping mugs clean and drawing drinks for his patrons. His large nose was at a slight angle, not quite healing correctly since the torture he endured at the gaol. His dark eyes scanned the room, and his large frame seemed to hold a sense of fight that hadn’t been there before. At the bang on the door under his feet, the human looked to Ginny and nodded. Across the tavern, the red haired teenager nodded back, putting down drinks at their respective tables and weaving her way through the crowd.

“I believe there’s a cool drink o’ water waitin’ f’ye at the bar.” The wick said quietly as she reached one of the patrons, a girl with raven hair and steel blue eyes, the moment so quick Ginny was already moving away to the other tables. She collected various plates and mugs along the way, pausing by another woman with raven curled hair and eyes like a pool of desire.

“At the bar. Cool drink o’ water f’ ye. Ask th’ big guy there.” The words were barely a breath as she glided past the woman.

Both women would have received messages the day prior. A summons left in their homes, though no one had entered to their knowledge. A simple note written in a simple hand that merely said Book and Bell. Tomorrow night. They would know what it was..

Sliding up to the bar, the short witch put down her tray and wiped her hands on her apron, looking at the sturdy man who stood there.

“Ent safe doin’ this right now Stu. There’s uncles everywhere.” Her green eyes flicked to the door and back again, as though she half expected a Seveten to burst in on their chrove and eat everyone there. The man grunted and looked down at his mugs.

“Ain’t our place to question him Ginny. Just our place to follow him. He’ll get us through, he always does.” The red head scowled, taking a few of the full mugs waiting on the bench and smacking them down too hard on her tray.

“After everythin’ ye still put ye faith in him. After everythin’ that happened.” She growled, muttering to herself as she moved away to serve the rest of the patrons.

word count: 677
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Caina Rose
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:53 pm

Book and Bell • Anaxas/Vienda
on the 5th of Hamis, 2719 • after dark
Unfortunately, the Book and Bell didn’t have any books. The first time she’d been called to the bar, via handwritten note tucked away in her rented room, she’d had different expectations of the place. Windows so stained that you couldn’t see through them were her first warning that this building wasn’t what she’d thought it was. And watching the bartender throw some drunk out the door… that was a surprise.

After Caina had gotten over her initial shock at the state of the place, she soon settled in. She’d been in worse taverns, hung out with shadier people. And most of these people could call her a friend, even if they didn’t know her real name. Caina was lucky that not many of the bar’s inhabitants asked questions- that was likely part of the reason that the Resistance conducted many meetings here.

And that’s what tonight was about. Just like that first time, and many times afterwards, Caina had received a note. An exact carbon copy of those that had come before it. This time, however, she didn’t waste an hour interrogating the owner of the inn, only crumpled the paper up and tossed it into the fire. It was likely that the Wisp had another mission for her- things had been relatively silent these days. Caina had been surprised to hear about Dorhaven, and she hoped that an explanation awaited her.

She’d entered the bar tonight, ordered a drink, and sat alone near the back of the room, barely touching her glass as she listened to the usual noise that flooded the street every time someone opened the door. A few fights were started, but they never went too far- the other patrons would generally separate the two and calm them down before anything actually began. No one wanted to attract the attention of the Seventen, for one reason or another. They’d come in, use the fight as an excuse, and tear the place apart looking for signs of the Resistance. Caina doubted they’d find anything, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

Stu had given her a nod when she walked in, but ultimately ignored her for a good portion of the night. They weren’t too friendly with each other (Caina wasn’t really friendly with anyone), but there was a respect there. Almost a house passed before Caina recognized a face across the bar: that galdor-look alike who she’d met at the Market. Well, maybe that was why she’d been called. They’d taken Caina’s advice. It warmed her heart, a little- knowing that her superiors trusted her. It meant that she was doing a good job, that she was worth something. Else she’d likely be floating down the river with the rest of the trash.

If the girl recognized Caina, she was ignoring her. Which was good, made everything less conspicuous. Caina turned her gaze away, to the closest, drunkest looking man. Might as well have some fun.

She beckoned him over, and the man came quickly. Caina had no interest in him, but was always looking for the chance to practice. And he was either too drunk to recognize a predator when he saw one, or it turned him on. She grabbed him by the collar, one hand going to his hair to pull him close. The man was so interested in kissing her, he didn’t even notice when her right hand reached for his ass, swiping what few gold coins he hadn’t spent on liquor.

Caina pushed him away as she heard Ginny’s voice in her ear.
“Mujo ma,”
She replied quietly, polite enough to talk in the girl’s own language. She brutally shoved the man away- he fell on the ground, too disoriented to notice his wallet retreating into Caina’s pocket. She turned and moved quickly to the bar, her face burning as though she’d been humiliated. A girl that had just been kissed a little too roughly, by a man much older than her.
“I heard you’ve got a cool drink of water?”
Caina asked Stu, wiping a hand across her lips to remove any trace of the man she’d just robbed.
word count: 790
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Ava Weaver
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Sat Jun 29, 2019 3:45 pm

After Dark, 5th Hamis, 2719
The Book and Bell, The Dives
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“Closing up early, Ms. Weaver?” The man across the street looked up as Ava stepped out of her shop, half-rising off the chair on his front porch.

Ava turned the key in the lock, stepping back to check that all her lights were off, all windows closed - even the small one that led into her studio upstairs. The curtains that hid the display at night were drawn, the small sign tucked in front of them turned to closed.

“Yes, Mr. Brickman,” Ava turned to the older widower who lived across the street - in his late forties, with a creased careworn face. She smiled at him, hands folding in front of her. “It’s a lovely night, isn’t it?”

“Lovely,” Mr. Brickman, apparently having reached a decision with himself, stood up fully from the chair. “Ah - Ms. Weaver - I don’t mean to presume but - it isn’t safe in the streets these days, not after - I’d like to escort you, wherever it is you’re heading.”

“That is so kind of you, Mr. Brickman,” Ava’s smile deepened. ”But I couldn’t possibly trouble you so.”

Mr. Brickman squared his still-broad shoulders, pulling his hat off his head and clasping it to his chest. “No madam,” he shook his head. “It’s no trouble at all. I couldn’t - couldn’t forgive myself if I let you out alone tonight. Nobody knows when those resistance folks might strike again.”

“Well - I,” Ava let a shiver run through her at his words about the resistance, her gaze lowering to the street.

“I didn’t mean to upset you, Ms. Weaver,” Mr. Brickman said. “It’s a hard subject, to be sure. But we can’t fool ourselves anymore about what those folk are capable of.”

“You’re very wise,” Ava smiled at him. ”I’d be most grateful for an escort.”

“Good,” Mr. Brickman cleared his throat and took the steps down two at a time. He started to move as if to offer her his arm; Ava shifted, somehow, in a way that he couldn’t quite name, and he found that the impulse seemed to die in his chest.

“And where are you headed, Ms. Weaver?” He asked instead.

“Not far,” Ava promised. ”A friend and I are meeting to look at some dress samples for her, at a tailor’s.”

“Oh,” Mr. Brickman shifted. “Well I’m sure I don’t know much about - uh - such things. But I’ll walk you to the door all the same.”

“You’re too kind,” Ava lowered her eyes again. They were walking now, Mr. Brickman half awkwardly holding his hat. Ava walked as if much of her focus was needed to avoid the puddles that lay on the uneven street even during a dry night, stepping carefully and delicately to avoid dragging her skirts through the water.

“I wouldn’t normally intrude, Ms. Weaver,” Mr. Brickman said abruptly. “But I just couldn’t - couldn’t allow -“

”Of course,” Ava said, softly. ”Please, it’s - it’s simply too frightening for me. The last days have been so difficult.”

“Of course, of course,” Mr. Brickman swallowed, hard. “I just - a woman such as you, alone - I mean to say, since my wife passed -“

Ava looked up at him, dark eyes wide and soft, rimmed with kohl.

Mr. Brickman found that he had lost his courage. He mumbled something about the weather and the rest of the walk passed largely in silence, with only the occasional exchange of pleasant, light conversation.

“Thank you again, Mr. Brickman,” Ava lingered at the entrance to the tailor’s shop, smiling at him.

“My pleasure, madam,” Mr. Brickman seemed to realize he was still holding his hat, and awkwardly jammed it back into his head. “Any time. I - Have a lovely night.”

“You as well,” Ava inclined her head and stepped into the tailor’s shop. She made polite conversation about an order a client of both of theirs had placed until Mr. Brickman was well out of sight, bid the tailor well, and went back out into the street. She walked calmly over to the Book and Bell, dark gray cloak covering her thick curly dark hair.

Ava wore a simple enough brown dress beneath her cloak, flawlessly tailored, with wide sleeves that gaped slightly at the wrist, a high scoop neck, with the fabric over her chest tucked over to create some texture before it closed to her narrow waist. The dress fell nearly straight, with the slightest of points and the front and back. It was a simple style, deeply human, but the fabric was high-quality, and Ava’s olive skin still seemed to glow against the cloth.

A gust of cool night air swept the shop as Ava entered, the note telling her to come here long since burned to ash. She made her way to a seat, sliding her hood back as she stepped inside; nothing drew more attention than someone who looked like they wished to avoid it. Before long she had a drink in hand, which she sipped at very occasionally, leaving the faintest stain of lip color on the glass. Ava didn’t acknowledge Ginny except with a flicker of warmth in her eyes as the wick swept past her.

She didn’t acknowledge Caina Rose either, for all that Ava couldn’t help but notice her after what had passed between them in Loshis. For tonight, Ava would act as if there was nothing there; she had every confidence that Caina would as well. Personal business would remain personal, not be dragged into these more important matters.

After a suitable amount of time had passed, careful not to overlap with Caina to avoid anyone catching what might be a repeated phrase, Ava rose. She delicately smoothed her skirt with a light flick of her hand, and crossed the bar to the counter with a smile. “The wine is a little too much for me, I’m afraid,” she said. ”Perhaps a cool drink of water?”

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Raksha
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Tue Jul 09, 2019 7:54 am

5th Hamis, 2719
BOOK & BELL| AFTER DARK
Stu looked at the girl that approached the bar, sucking on his teeth and shooting a disapproving gaze at the man who was left flabbergasted on the floor, face darkening as though he had all good intentions of coming around the bar to throw him out on his ear.
​​
​​ “Aye, though the drought is long my water is cold.” He replied cryptically, moving to nod at Ginny. The red haired wick approached, looking around briefly before taking Caina’s arm and leading her away behind the bar. Stamping on a spot in the floor, she moved back as the door underfoot opened.
​​
​​ “We keep the water in th’ cellar chip. Tis cooler there.” She said, gesturing the woman inside. As Caina would enter, Alyssa glanced at her and offered a short nod of acknowledgement. She trusted Caina, something a significant number of others could not claim, having worked with the girl to help mold her to what she was today. Not to mention the events of Loshis. Some bonds were formed in most curious ways. Serro crossed his arms, leaning back on the wall, and the galdori offered the woman a strained half smile.
​​
​​Ava was next, her entrance just as simple as Caina’s. There was no fanfare for the two women, and it was undeniably crowded in the cellar, however for now it would do. The noise of the tavern was enough to hide quiet voices from any who would look for them.
​​
​​ ”Thankyou for coming.” Jon said in a low rumble, lacing his fingers together and moving to rest elbows on knees. Alyssa settled beside him, arms crossed, whilst the galdor stood awkwardly in the room like a sore thumb. Taking a deep breath, the leader of the Resistance began.
​​
​​ “As you all should know, Dorhaven wasn’t our work. Just like Rookwen, those bloody golly bastards have sold their lies and their kindness, in a strategic attempt to turn the freefolk against us. I am in a position now where even the humans of Anaxas have doubt, enough doubt that they wouldn’t follow should we move to avenge our fallen brothers and sisters.” Frowning, he brushed his thumbs over his lips.
​​
​​ “And after what happened in Loshis, the time has come to put our cards on the table. To stand up and say ‘no more injustice.’ We need to find a way to bring the people back to us, a way to unite them…and Mister Ceres has one.” The dark haired assassin all but glared at the galdor, his face shrouded in darkness and the high collar of his jacket. The man shifted slightly, his field carefully tucked close.
​​
​​ “Well galdor, tell them what you told us.” Alyssa said in quiet distaste, as though she was barely containing the urge to plunge a dagger through his chest. Clearing his throat, Ceres nodded sharply.
​​
​​ “There’s a girl, she could be in her late teens by now. Maybe older. She’s in Old Rose at present, though I have it on good word that there’s plans to shift her again given all the tension that’s going on. She’s well watched, monitored on her comings and goings, who she knows and what she says.” The assassin raised her eyebrow and shrugged.
​​
​​ “I’ve heard this part. Hawke monitors plenty of people in his little kingdom. What’s so special about one girl?” Jon sat back, exhaling slowly.
​​
​​ “It’s not Hawke watching her Alyssa.” The brunette threw her hands up, moving away from the wall to frown directly at her leader.
​​
​​ “And that is precisely why this is a bad idea. According to this ersehole, this girl is some second coming of Alioe in the scheme of things. But to get to her you want to do something so stupid even I don’t—” The AAF veteran stood suddenly, hovering over the shorter woman with one dark eye glaring into her face.
​​
​​ “You don’t get a say here Alyssa. This is for the good of all of our lost comrades. For those who went down at Dorhaven, at Rookwen.” Blinking, holding her ground for a moment, the blue eyed woman finally lowered her gaze and stepped back. Turning to face Caina and Ava, Serro ran a hand over his grey stubbled face.
​​
​​ “We need to….aquire…this girl, by any means necessary. Myself and Ceres will organise a distraction, one that’s large enough to draw the eyes of everyone that matters. That’s where you two come in.” Gesturing at the dark haired women, the human moved to search his pocket for a hip flask, taking a swig and wincing.
​​
​​ ”You’ll head to Old Rose with Alyssa, and collect the girl. She’s in The Night Blossom. Dark hair, cut short, freckles, green eyes. Get her, get out and hide her till further instruction.” His eyes flicked to Caina.
​​
​​ “Hatcher, we need to be sure she gets out alive.” Turning them on Ava, the old soldier gestured at her.
​​
​​ “That’s why I’m asking Silk to accompany you. Not only do we need your help hiding the girl, but we need someone who isn’t going to scare her. For this all to work she needs to see we are not the enemy.”

word count: 914
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Caina Rose
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Fri Jul 12, 2019 9:01 pm

The Book and Bell • Anaxas/Vienda
on the 5th of Hamis, 2719 • during the night
C aina went willingly, letting Ginny grab her arm and pull her around the bar. No one spared her another look as she disappeared under the floorboards, nodding a greeting in return to Alyssa, her shoulders softening just a little at the sight of the other women. Caina knew that, as long as the Wisp was there, she’d be… well, safe wasn’t the best word for it. And if there was a word for how she felt, Caina didn’t know it. She trusted the other woman, that was enough. Her wounds from the party the month prior had healed, but the scars would remain for many years.

Caina stopped at the bottom of the stairs, head jolting up to stare across the room at the galdor wrapped in shadow- like a dog catching a scent. She’d noticed the field, an almost heavy essence in the cramped cellar. She looked between The Wisp and Serro, not bothering to hide her confusion as she took the last step onto the dirt floor.
“What’s going on here?”
It was almost a demand, but there was a hesitation there- she would never go against either one of her allies, and didn’t want her confusion to be mistaken for disrespect. She had never seen a galdor at the Book and Bell, and Caina responded to his smile with a snarl.

Ava’s entrance spared the group from any tension, mostly because Caina was too busy thinking about Ava, and their meeting in Loshis. That had, Caina realized, been a busy month for her.

As Jon Serro began to speak, Caina almost leapt to attention and focused on him, all thoughts of her past stricken from her head.

She was pleased to see The Wisp treat this ‘Ceres’ with similar disrespect- there was a reason they got along so well. But she tensed as Serro stood, well aware of what he could do. She really, really didn’t want to make him angry. Caina had only met him once or twice before this, so she wasn’t entirely certain what he might do in a fit of anger.

Caina nodded as Serro spoke to them both. She knew vaguely of the Night Blossom, having never stepped foot inside or near the premises. She nodded sharply as he addressed her, mind already spinning with what she should pack, and plans for when they arrived. Likely they’d want to hide her in a How, somewhere in the city.

Bringing Ava… that was smart. Caina knew what she looked like, and Ava was the exact opposite of that.

She took a little step forward.
“Sir, if I may… who is this girl? Why is she so important? I don’t understand how a child could help us.”

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Ava Weaver
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Sat Jul 13, 2019 9:44 pm

After Dark, 5th Hamis, 2719
The Book and Bell, The Dives
Ava descended the stairs carefully, her skirt lifted up ever so slightly in one hand, a polite, neutral smile on her face. There was a split second pause when she saw the unfamiliar face, the galdor in the cellar with them, and then Ava kept moving, and her smile never faltered. She stepped delicately onto the dirt floor, releasing her skirt and brushing it with one hand so it fell straight; it was hot with them all crammed close in the cellar, but Ava kept out of the range of the galdor’s field, tucked her hands beneath her cloak, and focused her attention on Jon Serro when he began to speak.

With the crimes of Dorhaven laid at the feet of the resistance – and Ava knew how well that had worked, from the gossip she had attentively listened to these last days in the Painted Ladies – Serro wanted something new, a bold stroke that would unite the people back to them, to the resistance.

But for it to come from a galdor?

Ava’s face gave nothing away; the polite smile on her features was as fixed as a mask might have been. Whatever was behind it, whatever she thought or felt – nothing showed but a pleasant friendliness. If something in her gaze was a fraction colder when she looked at the galdor, it wasn’t anything that could be described, not half so obvious as the anger on Caina and Alyssa’s faces. But she felt it – concern, somewhere in her chest, and a faint burning anger.

A girl in her late teens, maybe older, in Old Rose Harbor. Why should they trust his word? Who was it watching her, if not Hawke? Ava lifted both eyebrows, lightly, at the news that this girl was what they called ‘some second coming of Alioe,’ skeptical of the whole idea of the Circle. Alyssa’s concerns became clear after a moment, and Ava couldn’t help but share them. Why would Ceres – why would any galdor – throw in with the Resistance? How could Jon possibly trust him enough to go ahead on his intelligence, with his plan – how could something like the second coming of Alioe possibly be verified?

The Night Blossom, dark hair cut short, freckles, green eyes. Get her out and hide her.

Ava nodded in response to her instructions, looking at Serro with her dark eyes, and smiled a little more. Caina had questions; Ava accepted them as important, but she wouldn’t have asked them herself. She didn’t need that information for what she’d been asked to do; she didn’t need any information to trust Serro enough to go ahead with it. She might doubt, she might question, but those thoughts stayed private, locked behind the mask of her face. Whatever Serro’s reasons, whatever his justifications, Ava would obey him.

Ava was thinking ahead too, although likely not like Caina or Alyssa might be. Ava hadn’t heard of the Night Blossom, and had very little idea what it might be. She wouldn't have said she was excited to travel to Old Rose Harbor, but she knew she could put those thoughts aside. No, what Ava thought about was that there was a girl, trapped somewhere, watched closely, unfree. Did she like being a prisoner, or did she chafe at it, as Ava once had? Ava thought – not about the wiseness of Serro’s choices, not about how they would approach the place or get inside or keep the girl alive - but about how best to approach her, what to do, what to say. Ava thought about how to get the girl to trust her, when they might only have a few short minutes to get her out.

“I have a different question,” Ava said, quietly, looking from Serro to the galdor - Ceres - and back. “What is her name?”

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