Reprise

Nothing like the opera for bizarre reunions.

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
User avatar
Tom Cooke
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 20
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν.
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Graf
Contact:

Tue Apr 16, 2019 7:53 pm



aeterna theatre, uptown
evening on the 12th of intas, 2719
O, vorsvas,” intoned a woman on stage, her short, bulky form draped in black. Cold light gleamed in the ivory tangled in her dark braids; her chest rose and fell with each breath, her bare shoulders proudly squared. One hand was pressed flat against her sternum. More words tumbled and flew from her mouth like the winter wind as she addressed the audience; she swept the amphitheatre with her dark eyes, her calm, unreadable face.

A few paces off knelt another actor in black, a man with greying hair pulled in a neat bun. His fingers were curled around the hilt of a dagger, and his other hand covered his face in what appeared to be a subtle and masculine expression of grief.

Tom Cooke didn’t know what the fuck was going on.

He didn’t even know what language they were speaking, and it was too late to ask now. Besides, he was far more interested in the show that was going on in the audience: wealthy, important folks milling about, whispering and chattering in their cliques, occasionally flitting from box to box like bees touring flowers. A ways across the theatre, a little lower down, he could clearly see an entourage of important-looking toffins gathered round a seated figure swaddled in heavy furs and blankets. He even saw a few faces he recognized from earlier that month, and he tried to keep track of them, commit them to memory.

That, at least, felt useful, though he couldn’t say he was enjoying the evening otherwise.

This whole outing had been Incumbent Alcide Perreault’s idea, but at present, he wasn’t known to be the finest host. He hadn’t been married to Marie a year, and they were already hissing and fussing at each other like stray cats begrudgingly sharing the same alleyway. Half an hour ago, she’d idly pointed out the leading man, a slim Hoxian baritone with a distinctive cast of features, and said some words in his favor; as far as Tom could tell, it’d fired up old Alcide, and Marie still wasn’t hearing the end of it. At this point, she’d cut across him to point out something or other about some Rochester woman, but they were speaking in hushed tones, and Tom caught about every third word.

Some ways behind Perreault, all the way in the back, sat a Judge Nicholas Swindlehurste, though you wouldn’t have known him from a theatrical prop. He must’ve been older than time, and he kept drifting off, his wrinkled hands folded in his lap. Unfortunately, he had the unsettling habit of sleeping with his eyes open, and Tom kept glancing over to see him staring through half-lidded eyes, lips moving slightly as if he were working through his thoughts. Occasionally, a loud noise would rouse him to startled wakefulness, but he’d drop off almost immediately after.

Closest to Tom and Diana were Cassian and Verity Warwick. Cassian was roughly Anatole’s age, a well-respected advocate in Vienda and (evidently) an old friend from Brunnhold. If Tom had harbored any worries about this, Verity soon assuaged them; Cassian couldn’t get a word in edgeways, and had, in fact, begun to look a little ill. So he’d nodded attentively, hummed the requisite toffin laughs at Mrs. Warwick’s juicy bits of gossip, and let Diana lead the way.

That was just as well, because it was the seventh member of their little party that bothered Tom the most. He knew Corwynn, of course – Corinth Wynngate III, as they called him Uptown – but not like this, and he reckoned they hadn’t left off their last meeting on the most normal of terms. He didn’t quite know how to deal with the King’s taxman anymore, not in this context, not with both of them in on Tom’s little secret. Not with both of them in on so many secrets. It was surreal, being here, being who he was now, seeing a familiar face from a different world.

He tried to ignore it, but his mind kept drifting away from Verity’s chatter, drifting toward the towheaded gunman. Nevertheless, he was torn from his reverie by the sound of shuffling and coughs, a whispered apology – he glanced over to see Warwick headed swiftly toward the exit, face slack and pale. Verity stood and began to follow him, but a lingering glance at Diana told Tom he’d missed something important.

When he turned to her, she was tight-lipped, a hand on each knee. Her eyes were on the departing Warwicks; they flicked to Tom’s face, studied it for a tense, wordless moment, and then moved toward the stage. She moved as if to stand, then stopped, sitting on the edge of her seat.

“Er – my dear—” He leaned over and placed a tentative hand on her wrist.

(It felt bizarre and wrong. He wanted to get away.)

“My dear,” he continued, feeling strangely like an actor himself, “are you quite…?”

“I’m fine.” She patted the top of his hand, then slipped her own arm out from underneath it. Though it was clear she tried to keep it in check, her field seemed to balk at the thought of touching his; the perceptive mona, usually so elegant and smooth, avoided his frayed edges as if disgusted by them. She offered him a smile – one smile after another, always that perfect smile – and then folded her hands in her lap.

“Do you want to leave, too?”

Diana glanced down, frowning. “Yes. I’m afraid I’m beginning to feel a bit faint, myself.”

“Well – of course, we can…”

“No!” she replied quickly, reaching out and patting his knee. She might’ve meant for it to be an affectionate gesture, but the way Tom saw it, she looked like a woman touching a big, ugly fly: it was a fast, light motion, as if she were worried that she’d catch something from him. In response, he shifted away from her, and her eyes softened. “No, it’s just – I’m really not feeling well, and I’d like to go home alone. The Warwicks already offered to take me.”

“Oh. Did they? Well, that’s fine, but being honest, I’d like to—” He broke off. A muscle jumped in Diana’s jaw. It wasn’t a look of anger, exactly, but Tom knew it well enough by now; he knew it meant he’d slipped, used some turn of phrase that Anatole wouldn’t have. In a hurry to redeem himself, he went on, “I mean to say – I would hate for you to spend the evening by yourself, Di.”

“Oh, no, my love, I wouldn’t inconvenience you.” Seeming to muster up her courage, she took one of his hands in both of hers. Her fingers felt bony and chill underneath the silk of her gloves. She met Tom’s eye and smiled sadly. “Please, do stay out – enjoy yourself, Anatole. Will you do that for me?”

“But you’ll be leaving for Hesse in—”

He broke off again. Her eyes seemed to say, Exactly. Behind her, a woman’s shape at the entrance of the box waved a plump arm and called, “Diana?”

She pressed his hand and turned, gathering up her skirts as she maneuvered her way past the other seats and up to Verity. The two women hovered there a moment, back-lit so that their faces were unreadable; Verity leaned to whisper something in Diana’s ear, and Diana shook her head brusquely. Then they were gone, leaving him deeply conscious of the empty seats around him.

That left the five of them. Swindlehurste was, as usual, lost in some dream; across the box, Perreault and his wife were still engaged in their squabble. Tom took a deep breath, shooting an uncomfortable glance at the blond galdor a few paces off, and shifted in his seat. Being honest, he didn’t know the etiquette for this shit, no matter how many times Diana had explained it to him; Swindlehurste was dead, the Perreaults were bent on being difficult, and he hated all these toffins, anyway. He was a hair’s breadth from getting up and leaving, but he’d no idea where he’d go. With that bird in the roost, he certainly didn’t want to go home, and none of the usual drinking holes appealed to him.

He drummed his fingers a little agitatedly on the table, then took another sip of brandy. It must’ve gone down the wrong pipe, because he spluttered, throat burning, and had to thump his chest and cough awkwardly.
word count: 1498

User avatar
Corwynn
Posts: 113
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:03 am
Topics: 7
Location: Ol' Rose
Race: Galdor
: The Taxman
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Muse
Contact:

Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:13 pm

​​12th of Intas, 2719
​​AETERNA THEATRE
Sometime in the EVENING
​​
​​To say that Corwynn was glad to have not been invited to Silas Hawke's rather grand meeting of the minds here in Vienda a week ago would have been a gross misunderstanding, but to say that he was instead disappointed would have been just as inaccurate an assumption. Truth be told, the blond gunman wasn't entirely sure how to feel about the gathering, his hard-earned paranoia seething uncomfortably in the back of his mind at the thought of so many powerful men assembled in the same room, all of them with different opinions and far different goals than his chosen King of the Underworld.

At least, he assumed their goals were different even if their opinions were not. Circle forbid that Magister Devlin and High Judge Azmus ever find themselves on the same side of any coin! All of Vita might crumble at the very thought.

Hawke wanted to secure his economic stranglehold for another year, that much the older galdor knew. He wanted to make sure he wouldn't end up with a Seventen-shaped knife in his gut somewhere on the streets of the Rose. He wanted to make sure the Resistance wasn't any less of a distraction than it always had been. He wanted to pick the minds of those he considered not simply his competition in the world of power and prestige in the Kingdom of Anaxas, but also those he considered his peers. The sly wick had given himself his honorific, and while he didn't bow before the galdori who called themselves better than he was, he certainly had no qualms taunting them with the outrageous concept that he was their equal.

And they hated it.

Deliciously so.

Tolerating his existence, condoning the Vein and his trade dictatorship, helplessly allowing him to continue gripping the very testicles of the Anaxi economy, Corwynn had heard far more than he really felt necessary about the meeting and all of it had quite frankly left a sour taste in his mouth.

A sour taste that this third glass of whiskey was just not washing away.

Godsdamnit. Something didn't sit well and it gnawed at him. Silas wasn't talking and he wasn't about to go asking.

But, at Hawke's request, here he was babysitting the Incumbent. Or Tom. Whichever he really was. As if the man was in any more danger than the dying wisp of a Queen. Corwynn had admittedly left their last reunion more than just a little flustered and confused, perhaps even a little scared, but he'd also admittedly spent some actual time attempting to research the phenomenon (because that was the kind of creature he really was). He'd come up with very little, although possession wasn't out of the question. It just seemed so damn unlikely.

Or too likely. He'd stopped there.

There wasn't enough whiskey for all of this at once, especially because the Perreaults' weren't the most exciting of accompaniment to the theatre, especially when they were fighting with each other over an opera that was otherwise rather exquisite. That said, the older galdor had absoclockinglutely no complaints about Marie's level of excitement the night before, considering what an insatiable creature she was out of her clothing in his bed in his otherwise rather obviously unoccupied family mansion outside of Uptown.

Perhaps that was what all the fuss was about.

Oops.

Oh well.

It wasn't as if Alcide had a clocking clue what to do with the body of his young wife. Someone had to take care of necessities. So he did. It was totally worth the relationship kerfluffle he was currently casually observing without a care in all of Vita.

Leaning over the balcony to let his crystalline gaze study the crowds that milled about far below the bundled form of his Kingdom's Queen from beneath the murky last dregs of gold in his tumbler, Corwynn let the chatter wind it's way down behind him, the flutter of irritation in everyone's fields letting the Bad Brother know he wasn't at all welcome to the conversation. He lived enough of a life full of gossip and hearsay that he sure as Imaan's etherial toys glowed didn't need to step into more here in the Aeterna. Tilting his head at Anatole’s voice, he chewed the inside of his cheek with curiosity.

Once everything had settled, he emptied his whiskey and left the glass on the rim of their booth as if it had always belonged there, pouring himself into the plush, empty seat next to the Incumbent he knew far too well, tossing his legs casually over the arm of the opposite so that he was forced to nestle unnecessarily close to the other galdor's shoulder, offering him a firm pat on the arm while he coughed, ignoring the buzzing gnats of his own scattered aura as if it was just the most natural thing in the world,

"I don't even know how those toffins can sing in Deftung, honestly, what with all the clocking consonants. It's like that Gioran musical that breezed through a few years ago that was so full of vowels you didn't know if it was an orgy or a performance to music—" Corinth Wynngate III didn't even bother to keep his voice down, the gravely baritone of his coy observation audible by the other bodies occupying their shared booth, "—only this is decidedly the opposite. Worse, really. What you truly need to experience is an imbali opera in Mugrobi. Everyone may claim that Estuan is the perfect language, but, damn it all, I disagree."

Clearly, he wasn't in the mood for etiquette either this evening, strung out on a few too many days than he liked in Vienda and already tired of rubbing elbows with a bunch of stuck-up politicians instead of rubbing other bits with their spouses,

"That said, this opera is rather brilliant." Corwynn felt the need to offer redemption to the piece he'd just insulted, arching a fair brow as someone singing below hit a very beautiful, lingering vibrato at some particular sub-plot's climax, "For a people who don't enjoy sharing emotion publically, their forms of creative expression will usually rip your heart out with a song like these ones and then quietly watch you die while staring at it with the softest of smiles."

He grinned, wicked as ever, before sighing and settling into his seat, smirking at the back of Alcide's head while catching a subtle, curious glance from his obviously thoroughly fed up wife. Gods, was there any difference between Vienda and the Harbor besides the mix of monsters?

"Do you need to chase that woman of yours home, To-er—Auntie? She seems a little uptight, sir. Been slacking in your duties. Damn politicians."
word count: 1207
User avatar
Tom Cooke
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 20
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν.
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Graf
Contact:

Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:47 pm



aeterna theatre, uptown
evening on the 12th of intas, 2719
He’d just about finished choking on his Twemlaugh when the blond galdor came over, though Corwynn had caught him a bit flushed and teary in one eye. With an effort, he straightened and shifted in his seat, crossing his legs and smoothing down his waistcoat. Again, he’d felt the taxman’s heavy physical field before he’d seen him. He didn’t think he’d ever get used to the feeling that went with that, either, the way the mona in his own field, doetoed and wild as it was, reacted to the approach of another’s.

After he’d set his snifter on the little table nearby, hand momentarily shaky, he gave the approaching galdor his undivided attention.

“Mr. Wynngate. My apologies – we haven’t yet had the pleasure of speaking this evening. How rude of me.” When he settled into the seat beside him, fluid and carefree as a cat, Tom stayed still, though he shot a brief glance to the hand that patted his arm. He offered Corwynn his most vapid smile, as if he hadn’t even heard the man compare Gioran opera to an orgy. What the hell is he doing?

He’d had a feeling that the King’s taxman wasn’t just here to enjoy the company of their lovely mutual acquaintances. (By those glances of Marie’s, Tom reckoned he’d already enjoyed some of the company, because of course he had.) That motley meeting of the minds earlier in Intas had been jarring at best, though since then, as before, he’d kept his head down and done nothing but what little his King asked of him. Even so, you could’ve sliced through the tension in Uptown Vienda like warm butter, and Vauquelin’s circles were no exception. He was still wondering at his host’s private connections, wondering what eyes were on him.

But what was this – this nonchalant, mocking attitude? This – Corwynn lounging at his shoulder – was a change from their last meeting; although he couldn’t say it was an unwelcome one, he couldn’t seem to account for it. Did he think he’d already brushed away the ghosts of that evening in the Lantern? Did he think he’d found some rational way to account for it? Seeing him sitting there, as perfect a portrait of the Incumbent as if it’d been painted and hung on a wall – seeing him like this, had he dismissed Cooke’s specter altogether, chosen to ignore it? But he wasn’t treating him like he would’ve treated Vauquelin, either. He was treating him in much the same way as he always had.

How was he supposed to act around this? Damn, but he was so tired.

“Imbali opera, huh? Fancy. I’ll have to take your word for it.” He tapped a fingernail agitatedly against the rim of his snifter, squinting down at the stage. Tom wasn’t feeling much in the mood for etiquette, either. In fact, he’d had his fill of it the moment Diana had walked out. Hell, he’d had his fill of it since his— well, he’d lost track of just how much brandy he’d had. A reasonable amount, he thought. Not too much. Just enough to make his head pleasantly thick. But it was getting harder and harder to play the role, and it was getting even harder to care. “I could listen to somebody sing in Mugrobi all day. But, uh, I’ll admit, all this, uh—”

Tom sucked in air between his teeth, shrugged. Gestured out at the stage, the sweeping, shadowy round, the other boxes, with his snifter – and nearly spilled a little brandy with the motion.

He went on, “I suppose you’ll have to excuse me for my, uh – what are we going to call it – less-than-cultured upbringing? But none of this shit really gets a response out of me. People moving around on a stage all dignified, singing, whatever. I don’t understand it.” A half-stifled snort. Lowering his voice, he leaned closer to the other galdor. “You know, Estuan, Mugrobi, Deftung… I’d give anything for a Falling Stone performance, or – I don’t know. You don’t hear a lot of Tek up here.”

He sounded comfortable with Anatole’s basso voice, a marked difference from last Achtus’ unsteady, too-high rasp; he’d picked up the accent, too, though the cadence was all Tom. It was almost as if the voice couldn’t decide to whom it belonged, Uptown orator or Old Rose criminal, and it had settled for some bizarre compromise.

When Corwynn brought up Diana, Tom was midway through another sip of brandy, and the boldness of it made him snort and dissolve into another round of coughing. Fucking Auntie? He set his glass down swiftly and pulled out Anatole’s embroidered handkerchief, stifling his hacking as best he could this time and swabbing a little spilt brandy from his hands. When he tucked it away, he turned to look Corwynn in the face.

“My wife is feeling ill, Mr. Wynngate, though I thank you for your concern.” He lifted his chin, frowning deeply. “She’s retired home, where rest, I should say, will do her wonders. Why, I happen to have been quite ill myself recently, and look at me now. All better, eh?” He studied those clear blue eyes with a hint of a wry smile, then turned back toward the stage.

His brow furrowed. One of the actors was lying flat on his back on the stage, one arm splayed out at his side, his robes a pool of dark silk leaking out around him like blood. The hilt of the prop dagger was a few inches from his limp fingers. His eyes were shut and his face was slack, but Tom, so used to this sight, was watching his chest rise and fall.

Tom shifted in his seat, fiddling with a cuff-link. His eyes kept wandering away from the stage, toward the Queen’s box. All those faces, some unfamiliar, some all too newly-familiar.

“Hell,” he muttered sidelong to Corwynn, “the real show isn’t on the stage, is it?”
word count: 1082
User avatar
Corwynn
Posts: 113
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:03 am
Topics: 7
Location: Ol' Rose
Race: Galdor
: The Taxman
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Muse
Contact:

Thu Apr 25, 2019 4:16 pm

​​12th of Intas, 2719
​​AETERNA THEATRE
Sometime in the EVENING
​​
​​Out in public view, there was no room for making any public mistakes. The mask of Corinth Wynngate III was thicker than most, perhaps a few extra layers of paper, flammable and imperfect but as impeccably well-groomed as the blond galdor who wore it. Here in the theatre, sitting so close to a man who claimed to no longer be the politician he appeared to be but instead simply someone wearing the delicate Incumbent like another mask, the Bad Brother was forced to maintain some level of decorum he wouldn't have otherwise bothered with in the Harbor.

That didn't mean he had to entirely behave, however, and so he said what he wanted and sat however he damn well pleased while forced to endure the buzzing gnat-like sensation of not-Anatole's field, a feeling that would have turned his stomach had he not fortified his insides with just enough alcohol to make himself totally immune,

"You've had others vying for your attention. No offense taken." Corwynn smirked coyly at the unnecessary apology, segueing into obscure foreign art forms that he considered far more entertaining than this Deftung rendition of a play set to music with so much clocking singing, only to laugh at the suggestion of Tek sung on stage for all of galdorkind to see—

"Good Lady, I'd pay to see that happen." He chortled, squinting back down at the stage as if he even wanted to make out the faces below. Perhaps he knew a few of the performers, but not because he'd entertained them here in the Aeterna, "I've heard there's some performances on Surwood Isle that put any opera to shame, and I'm sure a few of those are in Tek. That said, the High Judge wants to raze that place to the silty roots, so who knows how long that wick festival will continue? Our kind aren't invited, anyway."

He shrugged, but it was almost an unnecessary gesture,

"Ill or not, you've kept your hands to yourself, haven't you? Maybe a bit too much, eh? I can tell. Do I need to get you out of here and find you something more to your tastes instead?" Wicked creature that he was, the blond galdor grinned without a hint of innocence from over the rim of his glass before emptying it and setting it down, using the motion to sit up a bit, to slide his legs back downward to cross one over the other and rake his now-free whole hand through blond curls, "It's not like we need to be here for any other reason than to save a little face, anyway. I've got better uses for my face than saving it this way."

Corwynn watched the death on stage with just as much calloused experience as his neighbor, blue eyes flicking upward as Marie and Alcide gasped, one after the other, in off-cadence surprise to theatrically-enhanced, murder with musical accompaniment. He did his level best to contain his laughter, the edges of his eyes wrinkling just so and his sea-worn features warming with the sounds he kept inside the salty cavity of his chest. At Tom's words, he let his crystalline gaze drift toward the Queen again, buried in her blankets, looking like a porcelain puppet instead of anyone actually alive.

Ignoring the feelings those thoughts stirred up in his dark mind given his strange company, given the man who claimed to be both alive and dead at the same time, inhabiting a body that wasn't his and attempting to live his life in some unexplainable form of amnesia or something far worse than he could entirely imagine in the form of undeath, the blond gunman sighed instead, dropping the volume of his voice and tilting his head just that much closer to make up for it, "Rumor has it she won't make it through the year at this rate, but I'm sure some of our more Kingdom-minded friends have already put some provisions in place. Erseholes like ol'Willie Azmus are most likely overflowing with plans, eh? Of course he is. When the Symvouli turns and her body is cold, Anaxas is going to be in some serious shit."

It wasn't entirely fishing—Corwynn had no interest in requiring the man next to him to share things he hadn't been privy to, things not even Hawke had deigned him in the need to know—but there was a questioning undertone to his words that couldn't entirely be denied. An insatiable curiosity he couldn't entirely keep under control, even here.

"No one's going to make an opera out of that. No one sane, anyway."

He could imagine it, really. He'd seen what the change of power had done to other Kingdoms in his lifetime, but truly, Anaxas was perhaps the most volatile it'd been in decades. The sense of responsibility being the center of the Six Kingdoms' government even for ten clocking years had been the glue that had held his homeland together, but he was more than just a little nervous about what would happen when that was all washed away and handed, new and fresh, to somewhere else.

Circle help them all.

"Deftung really does make everything sound so godsbedamned morbid—are we sneaking out of here at intermission? Say yes."
word count: 960
User avatar
Tom Cooke
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 20
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν.
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Graf
Contact:

Mon Apr 29, 2019 5:18 pm



aeterna theatre, uptown
evening on the 12th of intas, 2719
Surwood. Tom smiled faintly, eyes still on the queen’s box. “I might’ve gone, once. We talked about it—” What constituted that we was unspoken, self-explanatory; at any rate, it would’ve been, had it been Cooke speaking. He broke off, looking vexed. With a sigh, he let the back of his head rest against the chair.

At the mention of the High Judge, his eyes narrowed. He’d barely known that name until a couple of months ago, and then, he’d only known it as a word – High Judge Azmus, a handful of noises toffins made with their mouths when they wanted to refer to the man behind the man (the golly behind the golly), a shadow of a person with one hand on the Queen’s shoulder and the other reaching for something higher. Anybody that high up hadn’t seemed real to Tom; up there, it was just a big old game of Kingdoms, bloodless and strange. He’d seen Azmus’ face now, though. He’d seen the man behind the purge, and Corwynn’s idle who knows made his heart sink.

Whenever those clocking lunatics – even Silas Hawke – moved a piece on the board, death followed in a swath. It wasn’t like breaking a debtor’s kneecaps; it wasn’t anything like anything Tom had been privy to in life. He hadn’t been the man you involved in that business. Now, he was.

He didn’t much like it.

More words from his chatty companion – mention of his tastes – made him glance over sharply, roused from his reverie. Tom frowned, and then the look on the blond gunman’s weathered face as he emptied his glass made him frown even deeper. He didn’t like that look any more than he’d liked it in life. Ah, well – some things never changed. It was better than the look he’d given him at the Lantern, at least. This was the Corwynn he knew, ramscott field and sun-bleached curls and easy manner, and he couldn’t say it wasn’t welcome. He didn’t have to look happy about it, though.

“Wynngate, you…” Fucking toft. “Fiend. Damn it, I don’t know.” His eyes wandered back out to the stage, where an older woman and a younger man, both draped in black, were trilling at each other in Deftung; everybody’s favorite corpse was still lying there, as if they’d meant for him to get off the stage by now but he’d decided to take a nap instead. Based on the way the music was coming to some kind of climax, all trembling strings and pained vibrato, he reckoned the intermission would be sooner than later. He couldn’t argue with Corwynn. All this toffin nonsense was suffocating him.

The other galdor’s flippant words had irritated Tom, though, more than he’d have liked to admit. He chewed the inside of his lip. Not that it was any of the taxman’s business, but it had been awhile – a damn long while. Every time he thought about it, though, he felt like he was going to float out of his head and drift off like smoke. It didn’t help that the suggestion brought hama meandering into his thoughts, smelling like lavender and patchouli, and as sure as he knew he was dead, he knew he’d never have his hama back. Tom did well to hide his discomfort; the expression on his face was nonchalant, but where his hand rested on the arm of his chair, balled into a fist, the knuckles were white as bone.

Still, he could’ve done with a drink that wasn’t twemlaugh. A drink in a different place.

And now his companion seemed compulsively curious – poking at that raw nerve, yet again making him think of what he’d just had a hand in.

As the other galdor leaned closer to him, he grit his teeth, left eye twitching. “I’d make an opera out of it,” he replied slowly, as soon as Corwynn had done speaking. “Better yet, a play in Tek.” He seemed to be searching the shadowy boxes for a face, his eyes suddenly cold. It was the look he’d always gotten in life when some insult had stoked the fire, when things were about to get out of hand. But then his face relaxed into something almost like a tired smile.

“I’m sure they’re planning away,” he replied, instead of whatever he’d been about to say. “Who can say? These days, I can’t say I’m sure of anything at all, least of all anything that’s happening in those circles. I’m just another incumbent.” A shrug. “I’ll be interested to see how things play out over the next few months, though. Damned interested. What with Loshis coming up, I can’t imagine it’ll be uneventful; I’m sure our friends are already hard at work, hey? And all that paperwork. I can hardly wait.”

Finally, the soaring soprano fell silent. The last vestiges of her voice dug into Tom’s ears like a needle.

As the curtains drew together, Tom muttered, just loud enough for Corwynn to hear, “Dze. All right.” With an effort, he pushed himself up out of his chair, sighing. “I need a drink. Well, more to drink. I think the Incumbent and his wife’re too busy to notice anyway, no thanks to you. Pick someplace that’s not Uptown; I’m sick of toffin talk.”
word count: 970
User avatar
Corwynn
Posts: 113
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:03 am
Topics: 7
Location: Ol' Rose
Race: Galdor
: The Taxman
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Muse
Contact:

Thu May 09, 2019 4:51 pm

​​12th of Intas, 2719
​​AETERNA THEATRE
Sometime in the EVENING
​​
​​Corwynn played no favorites—not in body nor in race—and while he clearly had no shame teasing Anatole's familiar shape about where Tom's equally familiar desires had once laid between the sheets, the blond gunman probably would have bedded the politician if he'd asked. Without even batting an eye, honestly. It would have been an experience, after all, and one he could've said he had before he finally took that bullet that was waiting for him. Somewhere. Just waiting to end him.

It'd been a simple offer, the offer of a drink. Far more simple than sex. Maybe.

The other galdor (or whatever he was now) didn't have to take it. Not really. But at the same time, it was obvious the Taxman knew he would. This was why the damn gunman was so fucking good at cards, too—

"Just another Incumbent. Chroveshit." Corwynn hissed the words and his emphasis on the last collection of sounds was just loud enough for Marie to glance over her shoulder at him, to narrow her pretty eyes at him and blush furiously at the sight of him. He had the nerve to wink instead of mouth any apologies, the grin that creased its way into his salt-worn features deepening into something more wicked than necessary. She tittered and returned to berating Alcide about some dress or some piece of furniture or whatever the Circle newlyweds chose to bicker about.

The blond galdor had no clocking clue and he was glad for it. If anything, his company had been the cause of far more domestic disputes than he'd ever fathom anyway,

"Have you been practicing your signature, Auntie?" Gods, he really was a plumb bastard, the rumble of amusement still rolling about in his broad for a galdor chest, shifting in his seat as if to make good on his promises, quietly taking the other man's nervous rambling as more agreement than objection, "All those politicians in the same place. This year's going to be a mess because the handover's going to take place, and you know those damn beautiful Mugs aren't ready. Not a one of them."

Thumbing his nose with his less whole hand at the accusation that he was at fault for any marital stress, puckered scar there where his trigger finger used to be making the whole motion look far more exaggerated than it needed to be, he poured himself out of his seat and into a stand, stretching and not even bothering to bid good night to his host and hostess who were very animatedly still arguing instead of at all paying attention to the opera below. He'd fulfilled a need that Alcide obviously couldn't. He wasn't clocking sorry. It was the least he could do, really, showing a young woman what her body was capable of, when she'd been raised not knowing. It was up to her to show her husband in kind, which, obviously, she sure hadn't.

Enlightenment always had a price, didn't it?

Pale blue eyes glanced back down at the black-clad Hoxians, with their beautiful, ceremonially braided hair and husky, consonant-filled voices. Others in bright colors—brighter than any others yet introduced—and in glittering headdresses filtered on the stage from both sides, their voices raised in a chant. Ten of them, all some assumed characterization of the Circle gods themselves that was probably close to blasphemous had Hox not been considered such a damn spiritual Kingdom, there to sing their judgements, Naulas there to escort the dead soul into the Afterlife personally as if he deserved it somehow, the goddess of death's antlers bright and gleaming.

What a mockery.

Would She come for this Kingdom's beloved Queen soon, too? Alioe forbid that day, honestly. Anaxas was enough of a mess.

"I don't drink in Uptown anyway. Begads, who do you take me for?" Corwynn smirked, slipping out of the booth and into the dampened quiet of the theatre hall with its expensive carpet and gilded wallpaper, leading the way through the dimly lit semi-circle and toward the stairs, relaxing with a slow exhale through his teeth as if getting away from all of those other politicians was exactly what he'd wanted all along, with or without Tom's company.

"I know the Toy Lantern's more your style." The blond galdor all but purred, eager to get outside and into the still-brisk Intas air, eager to brush off the stale, stuffy fields of his own kind and their even more stale, stuffy conversations. He wasn't even afraid to take the man back to the place of his confession, hardly daunted. Or so it seemed. Corwynn was no one if not an enviable actor when the situation called for it—he'd faked a galdori life, he'd faked a pirate's life, he'd faked a life of opulent contentment and dangerous safety for so long ... what was one more role in life? Not meant for the stage, no, more meant for the bedroom or the back alley with the butt of his pistol, but he wore his masks well enough, fashionable and calm. Ice and some snow still clung to the cobblestones, though the chill no longer daunted the old pirate who'd weathered plenty of seasons of exposure out at sea, not like the idea that perhaps the other man he was agreeing to take out for a drink wasn't the man his face said he was anymore.

Ghosts and memories. Gods, wasn't that more than either of them deserved?

"So long as you don't have a curfew, of course, Incumbent."

Not that he cared, really, but his tone almost implied he'd tuck the other man back in bed himself. He laughed, his warm breath a cloud of all the worst intentions, uncaring about how the deep noise turned a couple of fashionable heads out under the phosphor lanterns on the fanciest streets in all of Uptown, the theatre district such a clocking snobfest. Corwynn was eager to get them out of Uptown entirely, making sure to hail a cab for the express purpose of doing so.
word count: 1096
User avatar
Tom Cooke
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 20
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν.
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Graf
Contact:

Sat May 11, 2019 2:06 pm



on the way to the dives
evening on the 12th of intas, 2719
Corwynn might’ve been joking, but Tom had, in fact, been practicing Anatole’s signature. He’d been practicing a whole hell of a lot of other things, too, now that he’d given that Spencer kov his word that he’d be present when the Vyrdag convened the month after next. If he had to sit through trade agreements and sign papers, he reckoned he’d better at least understand what it all meant for the bigger picture. At the end of the day, Cooke was no politician, but he’d always been one to listen between the lines; determined to put his literacy to use, he’d decided to start reading between them, too. Ghoul or traitor or freak of nature, he intended to be of use somehow.

At the mention of the Mugrobi Symvouli cycle, he’d lifted an eyebrow but said nothing, only affording the galdor a brief glance. He couldn’t quite wrap his head around it, being honest. The import, the scale – the breadth of the consequences. And what might Wynngate know that he didn’t?

As he followed Corwynn out into the echoing hush of the hall, he thought about it. His eyes swept over the deep red of the carpet – like rubies or blood – with its tangle of gold vines; the chandelier overhead dripped glittering glass in the shadows. At intervals, polished mirrors in gilt frames flanked the hall, and Tom caught glimpses of the two of them as they passed at a clip: he met Vauquelin’s eye and then looked away, keeping his gaze pinned ahead of him. Beside him, he heard Corwynn hiss his relief through his teeth. The back of his neck still prickled; he’d be holding his breath until they got to the street.

When they hit the bracing air, he felt better. “Thank the Lady,” he muttered under his breath, though he turned his collar up against the chill breeze and bounced on his heels, shivering. A little louder, he replied, “The Lantern’s no Dove, but I suppose it’s close enough. I’ve heard there’s a spoke musician that’s been playing there the past couple of twos – Falling Stone, if I’m not mistaken. Better than whatever the hell that was.” A passing lady shot a glance at him from beneath her feathered hat; he made a face at her and she looked quickly away, bustling off in her ruffled, asymmetrical dress.

He snorted.

Watching Corwynn hail the cab, he wondered at the galdor’s intentions – not for the first time, of course. You never knew, it’d always seemed to Tom, if Corwynn was aiming to kill you or take you to bed or neither. Or both. They all seemed to look the same on the King’s taxman, and that was worrisome.

Climbing into the cabriolet, he fumbled, wincing at a twinge in his hip. He’d be glad when this godsdamn winter started to thaw, though he couldn’t say he was looking forward to all that rain, either. The past Ophus had been colder, fouler, and stranger than any he’d ever had in the Rose. As he settled into the seat, they set off, the carriage wheels hissing through the slush. He looked out the window at his side, watching the frozen fountains and snow-dusted hedge-rows rattle past. Steadily, the roads got bumpier and narrower.

It was a little while before he spoke, glancing over at the gunman. The faint light of passing street-lamps wasn’t enough to get a read on his expression, the chiseled angles of his face casting deep shadows; still, Tom reckoned it didn’t matter much, because it was hard enough to read Corwynn in broad daylight. Who knew what was going on under that shock of gold curls?

“What’s this about, Corwynn?” he asked in a low voice, slipping fluidly back into his old accent. “We get out of this cab an’ I ain’t gonna say another damn word about it. But I don’t think you came on this pretty little outing just ’cause you wanted to have a drink with a ghost – in the Lantern, of all places.” He crossed his legs and frowned deeply. In the corner of his eye, he could see familiar streets; they weren’t too far from the place, by his reckoning.

“A man just likes to know where he stands.”
word count: 784
User avatar
Corwynn
Posts: 113
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2018 10:03 am
Topics: 7
Location: Ol' Rose
Race: Galdor
: The Taxman
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Muse
Contact:

Sun May 12, 2019 9:47 am

​​12th of Intas, 2719
​​AETERNA THEATRE
Sometime in the EVENING
​​
​​"The Lantern has its own charm, and I don't begrudge it that. I just fucking hate the whole city, not just a street corner here and there." The blond galdor smirked, shaking his head and making sure he held the door open for the other man, that he offered to assist the Incumbent into the taxi like any proper gentleman in the company of a politician would.

It was the right thing to do—something the Bad Brother wasn't well known for except here in Vienda, really. Taking it upon himself to tell the kid in charge where they were going, rolling his eyes at the boy's surprise and making sure to overpay him so that there was no unnecessary conversation, the blond gunman was aware he'd asked the cab to take them from the theatre district to the Dives.

His smile didn't falter as he settled into the seat opposite of Anatole, stretching his arms across the back of the cab and crossing his feet at the ankles. He looked like some tired feline, not drunk enough to sleep but too drunk to exist entirely in a state of clarity,

"This? Fuck if I know." A fair eyebrow arched and it would have been easy to get the feeling that he was offended by the question, Corwynn letting out a groan as he seemed to melt further into the rumbling little vehicle, blue eyes wandering over the older shape in front of him, the galdor that had once been familiar and was now strangely familiar in a different way. He sighed, tousling his curls with one hand,

"I've always got to have a plan, eh? And if I don't?"

Sea-worn hand drifted down over his face before he reached to trace fingers over the window, condensation having already formed from their body heat against the Bethas chill, "It's not like I've forgotten our last conversation in the Lantern, but, truth be told, I've brushed close enough with death recently to put a little thought into your, uh, revelations. Just a little, though—I've had other shit on my mind. Being back here just sort of reminded me, but, really, I was thinking we'd probably have some cheap drinks, you'd tell me about that damn meeting I wasn't invited to, and then I'd send you home before that wife of yours missed you. Unless, of course, you had better ideas? I'm always game for better ideas."

The blond galdor grinned, wicked but distracted, always an innuendo but still full of a healthy dose of caution compared to his usual predatory bravado. Corwynn watched Uptown disappear, the darker, less lit streets of the Dives a noticeable change.

Honesty always tasted so strange, but the flavor wasn't an unpleasant one every time. The blond gunman seemed wearier than usual once out of the theatre, once he could take off the mask of propriety he had to wear around proper versions of galdorkind. He sank into the seat a little more, his shoulders drooped, and his fine features were much more haggard in the darkness of their shared transportation. He loosened a button here, a cuff there, the motions of his body revealing he simply wasn't good at sitting still.

"I can't say your, uh, predicament hasn't fucked with my mind a bit since Achtus, but if I'm going to drink in Vienda, I'd rather it be with a mostly familiar face."

The cab began to slow and the Taxman stretched like some restless animal, sitting up and preparing to unfold himself from his seat to open the door once it stopped, to pass coins over to the kid and let the Incumbent exit with a wave of his handsomer, five-fingered hand,

"Do you even really know where you stand yet, Incumbent, with rainy season right on your heels?"

word count: 709
User avatar
Tom Cooke
Posts: 116
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 20
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: Ψυχάριον εἶ βαστάζον νεκρόν.
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Graf
Contact:

Wed May 15, 2019 9:50 pm



the toy lantern
evening on the 12th of intas, 2719
Clocking impeccable, that’s what he was in Vienda – the portrait of a gentleman, if a little scarred and sun-weathered ’round the edges. Wasn’t often, Tom thought, you got to see somebody in a different light like this, in a different place, from the angle of being a different person. Bizarre enough to have the older galdor help him into the cab all respectful-like; bizarre enough to see Corwynn in Uptown Vienda to begin with. And now, as they settled in, Tom watched him, slumped languidly in the shadows. Weary and restless. He’d never noticed how bad the King’s taxman was at sitting still.

Bizarre enough, all this.

As the carriage rattled to a halt, he looked at the other galdor for a long moment and then lifted an eyebrow. “Ah, well. Buy me a drink an’ we’ll see.” His expression was as sour and tired as usual, but his lip twitched briefly in something almost like a smirk. “But I’m afraid you’re gonna be disappointed. If you didn’t get invited, it’s ’cause you’re more useful alive than dead of boredom. I just about croaked, myself. Hell, I’ll give you the scoop, though—”

Tom scooted toward the open doors and pushed himself up out of his seat. Before he exited the cab, he leaned forward to a conspiratorial distance, lowering his voice near to a whisper.

“—everybody was hungover, an’ we talked about trade agreements.

He got down from the cab with some effort, spitting a curse under his breath in the damp chill and pulling his coat tighter around him. A low drumbeat drifted out into the winter street; muffled by the wind, a woman’s faltering melismata climbed and twisted up around it, trilling like a bird. Tom could hear the distant sound of clattering, chattering, and paroxysms of laughter. Out here, though, the sound of the wind hurrying through the streets, rattling shutters and whistling around streetlamps, was louder. The blurry lights of the Lantern drew him like a hungry ghost to a warm body.

Inside, he handed off his coat with some hesitation; seemed like he could never get the chill out of his bones these days. As they stepped into the dim, smoky space, Tom called, “Far’ye, Petra?”

A passing server looked over, expression sparking with recognition. She was a tall wick, her long, pale face – inked on one side with a tangle of vines – fringed with thick black hair. She smiled, but it was a little strained; as Tom moved into range, the mona in her glamour seemed to cling closer about her, in no hurry to brush with the frayed edges of his porven field. “Well enough, mujo ma,” she replied, a faintly-accented rasp. “Be with the two of ye in a bit.”

Petra paused in her step, meeting Corwynn’s eye with what might’ve been recognition, though it was hard to read her face.

Tom inclined his head. “Mujo ma.” As she bustled off with her tray, he took a moment to look toward the stage. He didn’t recognize the performers; by the looks of them, they were spokes, colorfully-dressed. He’d been wrong, though: the singer was a heavyset man with a zither in his arms. His airy falsetto seemed to float on all the smoke and lanternlight.

Weaving his way around scattered tables and chairs, cushions littered with shisha smokers, Tom set off – intentionally or otherwise – toward the table they’d shared the last time they’d had the misfortune of drinking together here.

Tom sank into a chair with a grunt of effort, shifting uncomfortably. He seemed to wilt, diminutive and tired. “I’d say you got the more interesting job, speakin’ of brushes with death,” he said after a moment. “I’m dyin’ to hear about what’s been goin’ on in the dear Rose since I been gone. Heard old Shepherd finally kicked the can, for one, an’, uh—” He studied the gunman’s face. “Some laoso business in Ophus, eh?”

He leaned over on the arm of the chair, propping his head up and peering over at his companion through narrowed eyes.

“And being honest, no. I’m barely surer of where I stand than I was last time we met here, and I sure as hell ain’t ready for rainy season.” A wry smile crept onto his face. “If this” – he gestured loosely at himself with a hand – “is fuckin’ with your head, imagine what it’s doin’ to mine. Don’t think too hard about it, is what I’d recommend.”
word count: 813
Post Reply Previous topicNext topic

Return to “Vienda”

  • Information
  • Who is online

    Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests