[M] Playing with Fire (Tom)

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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Drezda Ecks
Posts: 115
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:10 pm
Topics: 17
Race: Galdor
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Writer: Maximus
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Fri Jun 28, 2019 6:23 pm

Intas 18, 2719 | Mid-afternoon
Drez's Home
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The Hoxian considered her guest quietly. He said he hadn't meant to laugh at her, hadn't meant to cause offence and it was so... odd to see Anatole Vauquelin almost falling over himself to excuse his behaviour. Oh yes, he clearly had his own convictions and beliefs but he was far more personable and genuinely concerned than she remembered.

He's not the man you knew, Drezda, how many times...

The diplomat didn't know how many times she'd have to remind herself that the galdor in her parlour was a veritable stranger in spite of his all too familiar face. How long before she could see him as him without seeing him, the Anatole of before? Maybe if she closed her eyes... But no, the voice was still his even if it was changed, the way he spoke not quite as it had been. His choice of words was different and there was nothing like a snigger behind it.

The Incumbent had always been a smarmy bastard, saying all the right things but never meaning them, never really paying attention to them when there was a woman to be ogled. This one gave a damn and wanted to explain and justify.

If she kept thinking of pre-backlash Anatole and post-backlash Anatole as two different people than the young woman might very well tie her own mental processes in knots but how could she not? The differences were so vast, it was like... saying herself and Diaxio (that clocking bitch!) were the same person because they looked similar, their Hoxian similarities enough to make them identical. This was a new Anatole, a very different one and she almost wished that she had another name for him. Maybe the old one could be Incumbent Vauquelin and the new one Anatole. Yes, that might be easier. She'd never been familiar with him before so this first name basis thing was quite new.

She'd given Anatole plenty to think about and given herself plenty to dwell upon as well, mainly because she hadn't thought about some of these matters for some time. The Cycle and repercussions of choices, all manner of things that her mother had muttered to herself when she'd finally confronted her properly about Tsia. Originally, Ksjita had said that Tsia's "death" was her fault but so much more detail had come out of her when Drezda had finally gotten her to admit to her younger sibling's passivity. But even then so much of what she'd said hadn't made sense. So much said about not doing her duty, not being a vessel as she should have been and how it was her own selfishness that had done it. Hungry ghosts needed to be fed.

Her mother came out with some very odd things sometimes but then she was originally Hexxos and a poetess as well so it made sense that she was a mixture of morbid and weirdly dramatic. Still she'd rubbed off on her daughter in peculiar ways, not moulding her thinking in a large way but still having some influence as in this case. The ripple effect, the matter of Cyclic causality was something she'd gotten from Ksjta and it was oddly satisfying to watch Anatole place a finger in his cup, presumably creating a visual of it for himself. The woman gave a curt nod at his mention of the Six Kingdoms.

Yes, it was very strange to think that the action of one could ripple quite so far but in theory it was possible. Everything was connected. An odd series of events had brought them together in this moment after all so why was anything on a grander scale strange?

"We worship the Circle but we also believe in connectivity. We aren't... we aren't Vitanists but I suppose we look at things a bit different than most galdori," she explained, the mention of the other, largely human religion hushed and almost taboo from her mouth. She knew that there were similarities but... they weren't the same.

Lips pursed, brows furrowed, she listened to him speak so passionately about his desire for culpability. It made her uncomfortable, raven-haired woman fidgeting. She'd done some nasty things in her time, she wasn't innocent but she wouldn't want to do something that made others suffer, especially those who in no way deserved it.

The lower races didn't count. They were... well, they weren't innocent. Some were like children, some like beasts. In Anaxas, they were theoretically kept underfoot for their own good but in Hox their way was better; just keep them at arm's length. They didn't make them suffer, they weren't bad to them. It was more... galdori suffering that she was concerned about.

"Would you really want- Would you really want your descendants to suffer? I suppose you might never know them but..." she trailed off, watching him closely, onyx eyes fixated on him. They widened considerably at the mention of the phasmonia and the oddly... specific ghost.

Her brow rose, managing a dry almost deadpan tone in spite of her clear surprise as she asked, "Know one personally, do you?" She managed a smile, lips thin and twitching - nervous.

Quite specific.

It wasn't that she didn't believe in ghosts. She didn't necessarily believe them either though. It was an odd grey area that was a mixture of superstition and uncanny possibility. She squirmed a little more. "I'm... Well, I've not spent as much time with the dead as my mother. I'm not... well, I don't visit phasmonia often. I also don't have-"

She cut off abruptly, teeth catching her lip.

She'd almost said that she didn't have any family that had died. Officially, that wasn't true. Officially, Tsia was dead but in reality... well, Drezda knew that she was in Frecksat. She hadn't seen her while she was there but she knew she was there. She knew that her little sister wasn't dead.

Her gaze dropped, the barest wobble in her lip before she took a deep breath in and exhaled it. She laughed, a slightly bitter sound but self-deprecating as well.

"You don't know what you're talking about? Look at the path of conversation I've dragged us down and that's not exactly relevant to- Well, it doesn't seem pertinent, it's not. Circle strike me, I've invited you over for the most uncomfortable and morbid conversation ever, haven't I?"

The laugh came again, neatly trimmed nails picking at imaginary lint on the skirt of her dress as she looked down. "I don't know, Anatole. I don't know which it's meant to follow. It's the kind of thing that my mother could probably answer. I think she's written quite a lot of poetry about souls and death and that but I've only read a little, I don't really- It isn't really my thing and I can't read most of it anyway because it's in Deftung. She's good at it, I'll grant you that, I have a book of her poetry somewhere if you want an insight into Hoxian religion but matters of the soul? Those... aren't something I have answers for. I couldn't even begin..."

She trailed off with a sigh, shaking her head.

"Honestly, I don't want to talk about it either," Drezda explained, gaze flicking up, fixing on the Incumbent's face. "Your headache though, can I... is there anything I can do? Is it... is it because of..."

Don't presume it's a hangover, Drezda. You've seen him drink a little over eagerly but that was one time. He's not you. He isn't...

"I get headaches sometimes and... well, it's a bit strange but I find that... alcohol... sometimes helps. Sometimes. If you wanted to try that," she offered huskily, her own mouth suddenly seeming unbelievably parched at the mere mention of it, tongue seeking to wet newly dry lips, trying to find any moisture anywhere. Her face warmed but she didn't think the blush would show through, hoped it wouldn't.

"I know it's early yet but... it'd be medicinal."
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word count: 1430

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Tom Cooke
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
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Writer: Graf
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Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:37 pm

Drezda’s Home Uptown Vienda
during the afternoon of the 18th of intas, 2719
Would you really want your descendants to suffer? Tom drained off the last of his tea, the porcelain clattering as the cup jarred slightly against the saucer. The question surprised him, and he couldn’t hide the subtle tremor in his hands. The dregs were stronger; the aftertaste clung, almost antiseptic. He hadn’t thought it was a question of wanting anybody to suffer. “I don’t,” he replied, studying her face. “Of course not. But they’d suffer anyway; it’d just be a question of who caused it. And if I knew I was to blame, and I could do something—”

He broke off, falling silent. If he hadn’t known any better, he’d’ve thought that twitch of her lip had been anxious. Through all this moony talk of ghosts and the Cycle, she’d been remarkably composed; still, there was more in that subtle expression, more in the way she bit her lip, than there was in her words. For a few seconds, there was something like concern – and then, subtler, maybe even hurt – written in the lines of Anatole’s face. Then he looked toward the crackling embers in the hearth, chewing the inside of his gum and turning over what she’d said in his head.

As she backpedaled gracefully, apologetically, he turned to her again. “Ah, hell. It’s my fault we went off on this moony train of thought,” he said, raising a thin hand, “all this – ghosts and – I don’t know why I brought it up. I don’t spend much time in ghost towns, myself, and I can’t say I know any ghosts, unless you count – well.” His smile was embarrassed. “Sometimes I feel a bit like a ghost. Maybe that’s the cause for all this morbid rubbish, or maybe I’m just going mad in my age. But I’d…”

The mention of her mother’s poetry brought a spark to his eyes; Tom scooted forward a little in his seat, restless, setting his empty teacup on the side table.

“…I’d love that.” His voice was eager. “Matters of the soul, or Hoxian religion, or – I don’t speak Deftung, and I can’t say I know much about poetry, but – I’d be grateful to read it. What there is of it I can read.” He inclined his head, coloring a little. She’d be oblivious to the particular double-meaning of his words, he knew. When even Estuan script was a struggle, Deftung’d be a lost cause. Still, he was getting better, and he couldn’t see the harm. He could read whatever was in translation.

When Drezda spoke again, his brow furrowed. Because of—? She was edging around something like you’d doetoe a porven field. He frowned slightly, wondering if she was referring to his infamous monic blunder. There was genuine concern in her voice, though, and he’d opened his mouth to reply, waving a hand as if to wave away her worries—

The faux-nonchalant look drained off his face; his eyes widened, and he stared at her, blinking. Then he shifted in his seat and cleared his throat. You get headaches sometimes. Tom thought about it. He thought about her crying, drunk, outside Madden’s house. A strange, uncomfortable feeling tugged at him. It was the feeling of having a kindred spirit.

His first instinct was to play it off, to laugh and ask her if she was asking him if he wanted to get a drink. It’d’ve been easy, smooth as silk, and it was what he’d’ve done if he were himself. But he wasn’t himself; he was Anatole Vauquelin, and he had a history. More to the point, this was Drezda Ecks, and jokes never fell quite the way he wanted them to with her. What had always worked, though, was honesty.

“It’s twenty-three o’clock somewhere,” he said with a faint, sad smile. He knit his fingers in front of him, hesitating. “I’d – love to get a drink. If you’ve got any more of that Rodriguez, or – if you’d rather it be in public” – the words had weight; he didn’t have to explain why, given his host’s track record – “we could pay a visit to the Tiger.”
Last edited by Tom Cooke on Wed Jul 10, 2019 2:11 pm, edited 1 time in total. word count: 764
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Drezda Ecks
Posts: 115
Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2018 12:10 pm
Topics: 17
Race: Galdor
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: [url=http:/fullurl/]Plot Notes[/url]
Writer: Maximus
Contact:

Wed Jul 10, 2019 12:05 pm

Intas 18, 2719 | Mid-afternoon
Drez's Home
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Image
It really was a morbid line of conversation that they'd both found themselves in but perhaps that said a lot about the state of mind of both the galdori. Not for the first time, she found that feeling of connection, a tendril of kinship that ran so unexpectedly between them and she didn't know what to do with it. How readily they had trotted down this path together, grimly content in their mutual morbidity. It certainly hadn't been something done with delight - a wholly inappropriate description - but there had definitely been some eagerness there. What odd creatures they were. Drezda could understand it in herself. She had a dark turn of mind as it was, liable to dwell on the macabre in relation to herself and of course, her mother originally came from an order that dealt with death. She knew where she came from but... what about Anatole? What on Vita made him so keen to follow the torturous twists that her thoughts took?

And then he came out with it: he felt like a ghost.

The Hoxian's head tilted, onyx eyes regarding him impassively; the widening that gave away her true emotion was subtle. It was a very odd thing to say and yet... she could understand what he meant. To float through life, strangely detached from what was going on around you, largely unseen or unnoticed by others or failing to be seen in the ways that counted. She knew what it was like to have people fail to see you. Additionally, the young woman had received reproachful looks because she still existed. Why was she still around when Tsia wasn't? That was the way Ksjta had always seemed to look at her. Ghosts weren't meant to exist, they simply continued to linger where they honestly weren't wanted. She'd left Hox because of it and encountered something similar here; it was peculiar how her existence could cause so much resentment and distaste and sometimes even exasperation.

Did Anatole feel as if he wasn't supposed to be here?

She felt unsettled by the analogy and for her connection to it, her kinship with him. This really was the oddest of times. The idea that she could get along with Anatole Vauquelin was curious in itself but that she could consider him an ally or, even more extraordinary, that she could consider him a potential friend was beyond ludicrous.

You don't have friends, you idiot! You aren't someone who's meant to have friends. He isn't going to be your friend! she chided herself.

But if this wasn't the possible beginnings of friendship then what was it?

Why would anyone want to be friends with you?

A muscle twitched below her left eye as she struggled to keep herself composed while ignoring her own internal derision. The Hoxian needed to continue talking, needed to avoid dwelling in her own thoughts but it was so difficult; a few seconds in her mind was enough to shatter her inside and there was so many moments of quiet in an interaction.

There was that flow of understanding between them again though, looks exchanged that were full of knowing but neither held confidence; it was clear that each was awkward and perhaps ashamed about the talk of alcohol. The mention of the Paper Tiger made the young woman wince, an indicator which she failed to mask entirely.

"No, I don't think a public venue is necessary. It isn't worth it and uh... more people probably wouldn't help your headache," the diplomat interjected quickly, licking her lips as she tried to slow herself down to prevent unmistakable panic from arising on her features.

"But yes, I can call Cora, I'm sure that there's more... more... Rodriguez..." she stuttered out, words slowing to a veritable slur as her mind caught up with her mouth as she was in the act of rising. The single adjective that she'd chosen to parrot suddenly looming large in her head.

More.

Dark eyes flitted from side to side, unseeing as she ran through the implications internally. For moments, she stood still, paused in the act of going to summon her servant but she resumed movement again, slow as she headed for the cord that would ring the bell.

He knew that she had whisky and where there was some, there was likely to be more and if he'd seen the cup that Cora had given her... but he also knew the type. Admittedly, Rodriguez was a popular sort, considered a superior brand and it made sense that a woman of her class would have alcohol of such a calibre but he couldn't have seen the contents of her cup from where he sat. The tea things had been before her, she'd had the better view and yet-

Cora had been bloody quick to give her the beverage and then there had been that quick exchange between the housekeeper and the politician. What had Cora said? Something about adding something to cut the taste!

Sneaky bitch! She'd given him whisky in his tea too and she'd obviously anticipated that it'd go over as well with him as it had with Drezda. Had she known that Anatole needed it? How had she known and her mistress hadn't? Damn her and her knowing eyes!

She tugged the bell cord vehemently, certain to have set a bell ringing with greater violence than was strictly necessary although it was unheard here in the parlour. She moved to resume her seat, dropping into it with less grace than before.

"I can read and understand a bit more Deftung than I can speak but overall, I know little of it myself. I wouldn't attempt to read poetry in it; it can be tricky enough to grasp meanings in Estuan. But if you're truly interested..." she explained, eager to get away from the subject of alcohol so she wouldn't have to think about how her ageing human servant was more observant than she.

She arched her brows, only partially affecting intrigue in his apparently genuine interest. A poetic soul. Circle preserve her, she hoped that she wasn't going to have another adoring fan of her mother's with which to contend. That was one of the nice things about being in Anaxas: most people didn't have a notion who she was. It had been difficult to be a person in her own right in her home kingdom, Drezda had frequently been recognised because of who she was related to rather than due to her own merits.

"I only have her poetry in translation. She does the translations herself so they're as accurate as you can get them in Estuan and... well, she also sends me poetry in letters but those are- I mean, those aren't meant-" she broke off, biting her lip. Obviously, she wasn't going to hand over her private correspondence with her mother for him to peruse, even if all of those letters combined had more poetry in them than the book she knew was lying around somewhere. And most of that poetry had never been published; her mother wrote many poems that never fell under the eager eyes of her admirers. It was more than that though, she had simply written them, a casual thing that was as easy for her to do as signing her name at the end of her missives. It was Drezda's poetry and hers alone, not likely to be reproduced ever again. Perhaps that was why none of her mother's letters ever ended up in the fire at the height of its blaze like the other letters that went into it - entirely accidentally of course!

"If it's of interest to you, the book I give you then I... could have the other poems I have copied. I have... well, I have a few hundred unique ones I believe? She's quite prolific, I've known her to write several a day. She claims that the words come to her in dreams sometimes."

Cora entered the room, cleaner in appearance than before.

"You called, mistress?" she announced, moving to the table to gather the tea things without being bid to do so.

"Yes, Cora. We've decided that some more whisky would be appropriate. Rodriguez. We have some, don't we, Cora?" the diplomat inquired, a subtle edge to her voice, her gaze fixed on the face of the human. The housekeeper being in range, she allowed her field to flex, letting the monic aura ripple outwards to lap powerfully against the older woman.

The human gave the impression that she hadn't noticed, as if she didn't know that she'd been caught. She tilted her head to the side, gaze rolling up thoughtfully.

"Rodriguez, hm... Why... yes, I think we do have some, mistress," the woman proclaimed brightly, her expression one of honest remembrance. Drezda couldn't prevent the beginning of a scowl. "I'll fetch some presently."

The housekeeper balanced the tray, moving off to collect Anatole's cup.

"Oh and Cora?"

Even with her back to her mistress, she saw the subtle stiffening of the woman's frame before she turned, simple expectation on her features.

"See if you can find that book of poetry that my mother sent me... oh, it must be two years ago now. Maybe Rosmilda can dig it up while you attend to drinks."

"Oh certainly, mistress! I'd imagine that she'd know just where it is."

Before she had a chance to read more into that comment and ask for an explanation, the servant was gone.
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word count: 1658
User avatar
Tom Cooke
Posts: 190
Joined: Fri Dec 21, 2018 3:15 pm
Topics: 26
Location: Vienda, but also hell
Race: Raen
: "disturbingly unheimlich individual"
Character Sheet: Character Sheet
Post Templates: Post Templates
Plot Notes: Plot Notes
Writer: Graf
Contact:

Sat Jul 13, 2019 5:09 pm

Drezda’s Home Uptown Vienda
during the afternoon of the 18th of intas, 2719
There was hurt there, and plenty of it. Drezda had a good handle on her expressions, but Tom’d never been a bad hand at reading people; with her, it was the little things, the way a nerve jumped below her eye, the way she bit her lip. He didn’t know much about Uptown respectability, but he knew well enough the shame that went with drinking too much and then regretting it, and then doing it all over again, and then regretting it again. The way it left imprints on places. Although it surprised him that she trusted him enough to drink with him in private, he had a feeling it had more to do with that shame than it did anything else.

So he inclined his head wordlessly, grateful for himself, too. The press of all those golly fields against his would’ve been hell, and he didn’t fancy a return to that place after his last visit in early Intas. An imprint of a different sort, but an imprint nonetheless.

As she went to ring the bell, she shifted the conversation back to her mother’s poetry, but it didn’t seem a more comfortable topic. At the mention of Ksjta’s private letters, he even raised a hand, opening his mouth to say something – something about how she didn’t have to share what wasn’t meant for a stranger’s eyes, something about how those were hers and not anybody else’s. He stayed silent as she went on, though, lowering his hand, caught off-guard. “In dreams?” he echoed softly.

Before he could say aught else, Cora – this time, he remembered her name – came back in. Tom sat quietly during the exchange, fingers knit over his knee, glance flicking demurely between mistress and servant. The edge in Drezda’s voice wasn’t lost on him; nor was the practiced nonchalance of all Cora’s responses, ignorant as you like, just short of whistling innocently. Damn him, but he’d run his mouth again, he thought. He hoped he hadn’t gotten Cora into any trouble, but based on her devil-may-care attitude, he wasn’t too concerned. As she collected his cup, he offered her a friendly smile.

When the door clicked shut behind her, he turned back to Drezda. “I’ve never heard of poetry coming to somebody in dreams. Most of mine wouldn’t be much good for poetry, but I suppose it’s all in the interpretation.” He studied Drezda as she sat across from him, a contemplative look on his face. He wasn’t sure what else to say; he wasn’t sure what he could say.

After awhile, Cora came back in, tray this time more lightly laden with a couple of tumblers and a handle of Rodriguez. “Here we are,” said Tom, brightening and sitting up a little in his seat. As she deposited her burden on the table between them, he caught another smile, and smiled in return. She poured a little to start them off, and Tom took his glass gratefully, swirling it and taking a slow sip.

Even after she left, he sat still and silent at the edge of his seat, shutting his eyes briefly and enjoying the faint woody smell – the dry, smoky aftertaste, the way it still tingled in his throat. Hadn’t been able to afford this shit very often in life, so it put him in mind of special times, the nights he’d gotten to spend at home with hama. He couldn’t’ve told you the difference between a red from last year and something that’d been bottled during the War of the Book, but he knew his whisky as well as a tallyboy from the Rose could. There were things you drank to get drunk, and then there was this. The line always blurred eventually, but he never forgot to savor that first drink.

Now he leaned back in his seat a little, nursing his glass in his lap. Even here, in what should’ve, by all rights, been enemy territory, the whisky was comforting. He took another drink for good measure, praying it’d start to ward off his headache soon. He couldn’t help that it was putting him in a better mood, but everything in his head was telling him to keep his wits about him; after all, this could’ve been part of her plan. Still, he reasoned that it wasn’t as if he’d get a bit squiffy and spill everything – he knew himself well enough to know that – and it was a pina manna late to get up and leave now. Might as well enjoy it.

The thought of making the most of the situation emboldened him. He swirled his glass idly. “What do you think of them? Personally, if it’s not too much to ask. I didn’t know you liked poetry.” He smiled wryly. “Then again, I didn’t know I liked poetry until recently. Full of surprises, aren’t we?”
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