Keep Your Secrets

The capital city of Anaxas and the seat of the government.
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Ava Weaver
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Sat Jun 08, 2019 4:38 pm

Early Afternoon, 21 Bethas, 2719
Woven Delights, Painted Ladies
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"We should be able to get some of that velvet by next week,” Ava promised, smiling. She stood behind the counter at the back of the store, hands folded over one another on the top of it. Long, full sleeves fell nearly to her wrists, the dark olive green trimmed with a stripe of white and pink floral fabric. Her thick curly hair tumbled over one shoulder, dark locks glowing against the slender column of her neck. It was early afternoon, but her make-up still looked fresh, both the pale pink lipstick and thick black eyeliner.

“Thank you, Miss Weaver,” the young human woman who stood on the other side of the counter was smiling brightly. She adjusted the half-sleeping child on her hip; his head flopped against her shoulder, sticky thumb sliding out of his mouth. Her other arm held a paper-wrapped parcel tied with string carefully against her waist.

“My pleasure, Mrs. Smith,” Ava replied, still smiling. “Please give your mother my best.”

“Of course,” Mrs. Smith adjusted the little boy, smiled again, and turned to make her way out of the shop.

Ava brushed a few scraps of fabric from the counter, setting the heavy scissors back into one of the clever drawers beneath and sliding it shut with a soft click. She glanced around the shop, then made her way out from behind the desk towards one of the fabric-filled shelves lining the walls. The hem of her dress swished back and forth, the toe of small black slippers just visible as she walked. The dress was simple enough, but well made, the long full sleeves gathering into close shoulders, olive fabric crossed at the front to the waist, edged there with the same floral fabric as the wrists. A green sash held the dress there, and it curved out beneath before falling straight down to nearly kiss the floor.

Ava carefully re-adjusted the bit of fabric sticking out, tugging the errant curl of fabric up before smoothing the cloth against its roll. Carefully, very carefully, she didn’t look back at the door next to the counter. Instead, she strode slowly and carefully around the perimeter of the shop, checking not, perhaps, each bolt of fabric, but many of them, occupying herself with brushing bits of dust from the shelves with a small handkerchief.

The door at the back of the shop opened. Ava glanced back over her shoulder and smiled. “Alioe’s blessings to you,” she said, voice light and cheerful, watching the figure leave the shop with a nod to her.

Ava took a few more moments, tucking the dust cloth away, then opened the door herself, leaving it just barely ajar behind her in case the entrance bell might ring. The back room was much more comfortable than the front, with two lovely upholstered couches, soft and comfortable with heavy pillows, fabrics draped over the walls to create a welcoming environment, and a small table. There were currently two cups of tea on it, half-drunk, the remaining tea tepid now.

“A fresh cup of tea, dear?” Ava smiled down at Caina. She scooped up one of the small porcelain cups, black-lacquered nails a stark contrast to the cup and set it down on the small tray she’d brought them into the room with, followed by the second. Ava didn’t wait for an answer, crossing the room and disappearing behind one of the long sheets of fabric hanging from the wall. A moment later, the soft sounds of her feet on the stairs could be heard, and she disappeared upstairs.

It was only a few moments before she returned, carrying the small tray again, with two cups again, steam curling from the top of both. She set the tray down on the table before Caina, and stepped to the door leading into the shop, looking out for a moment to check that no one else had come in. Once satisfied, she turned back to Caina, looking down at her.

“May I join you?” Ava smiled again, a soft, even expression, standing by the couch with her hands gently folded over her front. Ava wasn’t sure she would have called Caina a friend. She had seen the other woman around in the How enough times to have accepted Caina’s request to hold a meeting in the back of the shop. It wasn’t so unusual; it wasn’t something she was always able to accommodate, but Caina’s meeting had been planned for a typically quiet day and time, and so Ava had been glad to accept.

Ava didn’t know what Caina’s meeting had been about; she had not asked, and she did not intend to now. Caina had the right to her secrets and using Ava’s shop gave Ava no claim to them. That said, since the meeting had been rather clandestine, Ava imagined Caina would intend to wait a little bit before leaving the shop, and there seemed to her no point in doing so without tea – and, if she wanted it, perhaps, a bit of company.

word count: 892

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Caina Rose
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Joined: Fri May 31, 2019 6:10 pm
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Mon Jun 10, 2019 11:01 pm

Woven Delights • Anaxas/Vienda
on the 21st of Bethas, 2719 • Early Afternoon
Caina’s father had been lost to her ten years ago. She’d been an official part of the Resistance for seven, but had spent most of that time trying to find her father’s killer. Ten years, and she hadn’t had a single lead. But that all changed a week ago, when one of Caina’s contacts had asked to meet her. She’d been quick to find a meeting place, a Resistance member who operated a fabric shop often used it for meetings- but she’d had no idea what the actual meeting would be about. It wasn’t safe to send a message, so she’d spent the past week waiting. And then the day came. Caina entered as a normal patron, even though she had access to the shop’s more ‘restricted’ entrance.
The shop was almost too dark, the bolts of fabric seemingly soaking up any sunlight that fell through the windows. It made the entire place seem peaceful, free from the burdens of the world. Caina never felt safe anymore, but this place brought her damn clocking close. The proprieter, a woman just a smidge taller than Caina, had shown her to the backroom, made tea, and immediately left. The young assassin was grateful- Ava looked achingly similar to Caina’s mother, a woman that, in her daughter’s opinion, deserved to be forgotten by every living soul. She wouldn’t be surprised if the dirt of Vita itself refused to swallow the woman, and wished that she never be reborn as worshipers of the Circle thought. Caina wanted to personally rip her mother’s soul into tiny pieces until no force could stitch them back together.

Anyway. Because of the resemblance, Caina had originally been reluctant to trust this ‘soldier’ of their war, but asking the right questions of the right people proved that she was a woman that could be trusted. For now. So she accepted the tea, with an excessively polite smile on her face, and thanked the woman as she left.

Looking back, Caina thought that maybe she should have recognized the woman’s figure as a sign from Vita, preparing her for what was about to happen. Because with thoughts of her mother drifting idly through her head, Caina met her contact. And she heard the news.

There were rumors, finally making their way to the ears of Anaxas after they had travelled such a great distance. Rumors of people acting strangely, out of their minds. Like zombies. And rumors that there’s a galdor behind it all, with an eyepatch over his left eye. Caina doesn’t write this down, locking the information away in the tiny part of her brain that keeps memories of her childhood from infecting the rest of her mind. Her contact doesn’t know what she wants with this information, doesn’t understand the significance, but they depart soon afterwards, not stupid enough to stay for long. Caina’s hands have begun to dance on the edge of her teacup, and she’s tense like she just received bad news, even if that’s not technically the case.

She only got a few moments to herself before Ava returned, but it was with the god’s blessing that she didn’t wait for Caina to respond to her questions, simply taking the tray and disappearing as quickly as she had come. Caina took the allotted time- tea making could be anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes- and tried to calm down, smoothing out her rough-sewn and, frankly, really old skirt. It was covered in dirt that would likely never come out, and for a moment, the assassin felt bad about potentially dirtying this woman’s couches. They were very, very comfortable, just the right amount of over stuffed, and the pillows were perfectly worn for relaxing against. If it wasn’t for the clean air and good atmosphere, someone might’ve mistaken this for an opium den.

Ava returned, carrying two fresh cups of tea, and Caina was fine. She was fine. Her face was once again devoid of emotion, and she now sat up straight, not bothering to pretend to be comfortable with Ava’s presence. The woman was another Resistance member, surely she wouldn’t take it to heart.

“If you’d like.”
The reply was short, but not rude. She’d really rather not be outside right now, still unsure that her legs would actually support her. And in her few years, she’d found there was only one cure for that.

Caina reached over and took a cup of tea, blowing on it softly before taking a sip.
“I will arrange to have money sent to you, as a reward for your secrecy.”
It was as close as the girl would get to saying thank you.
“You may write it in your ledgers as payment for goods.”
The woman likely knew how to launder money, most human businesses did, but Caina wouldn’t assume anything. She crossed her legs underneath her, and the shopkeeper might have noticed that the girl wasn’t wearing any shoes, only a moderately thick fabric wrapped around her arches. She relaxed, just a little, as the tea warmed her stomach, and leaned back against those delightfully soft pillows.

word count: 969
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Ava Weaver
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Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:17 am
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Tue Jun 11, 2019 12:52 am

Early Afternoon, 21 Bethas, 2719
Woven Delights, Painted Ladies
Caina had not told Ava her name. That was common enough in the circles they both moved in; it was more unusual, in fact, for Ava to use her day job so publicly in the service of the Resistance and its members. Anyone who used the meeting room, anyone who stayed in her hiding place, would be able to betray her to the Seventeen. Yet there was an exchange of vulnerability there as well, for to be in her shop, her home, was to open themselves up to her. In any case, Ava was willing to take the risk. She could serve best in the open, and she would trust in her public front as long as she could.

But Ava knew Caina nonetheless. Caina looked different than she had in Old Rose Harbor. Ava hadn’t recognized her the first time she’d see her in the How, and perhaps not the second either. Eventually, however, she had known her, though there was little left of the girl she had once been, and what remained had hardened into a shell around her. Well. She was human, after all. They both were, and Ava was much less recognizable than Caina, these days. She hadn’t asked if Caina recognized her; to do so would be to give away her own recognition, and the fact that there was something to recognize. But Ava would be very surprised indeed if Caina knew her. Ava would be surprised if anyone from the old days, in Old Rose Harbor, could recognize her now.

Whatever the meeting had been, it was clear that it had affected Caina, and deeply. Her hands had been shaking, and tension rippled from her entire body, seeping almost visibly into the air. By the time Ava returned with the fresh tea, having boiled the water upstairs, measured out the precious leaves, and carefully allowed them time to steep in the pot, Caina was still again, outwardly calm. She accepted Ava’s offer of company, although without any particular display of pleasure or, really, any other obvious emotion.

Ava smoothed her skirt out beneath her and perched on the couch. She picked up the second of the cups, holding it loosely above her lap, soft wisps of steam curling off into the air, studying Caina still. The offer of money made Ava smile again, her eyes flickering over Caina’s skirt, clumsily hand-sewn and made of a fabric that would have looked worn even when it was new, down to the thick fabric wrapped around the arches of her feet, quiet and rough. The two made an odd contrast, sitting together on the couch; Caina’s features weren’t so different than Ava’s own, but otherwise they had very little in common.

Ava had no doubt that if Caina was more than capable of sending the money she had offered, and she did not believe that the younger woman would have made the offer otherwise. Ava was perfectly capable of fudging her books as well, although no flicker of annoyance crossed her face at Caina’s suggestion on how to do so. Unsurprisingly, Ava had done it before, and would likely do it again, so long as the Resistance found her shop a useful place to pass messages. It wasn’t that money was unwelcome either; Ava’s business wasn’t so successful that she would mind a bit of extra cash flow. And yet… instinct, perhaps, steered Ava in another direction.

“It is kind of you to offer,” Ava didn’t blow on her tea, studying the surface of it then setting it back down on the table to let it cool on its own. Her hands came together in her lap, one resting on the other, automatically adjusting so that the wide sleeves of the dress draped neatly over one another, the white and pink trim vibrant against the green. She was settled comfortably against the couch, back straight and shoulders square without giving the impression of tension. “But the use of this place is not something I sell,” Ava smiled at Caina.

“All the same, if you did wish to give me something in return…” Ava picked up the tea again, cooler now, with a few faint wisps still blowing off into the air. She still didn’t drink it, dark eyes flickering across the room then back to Caina. “Perhaps you’ll let me ask a favor, some time in the future?” She smiled at Caina. “I don’t mean to sound mysterious – there isn’t anything I need at the moment. But, if some need does arise, would you let me ask you if you are able to help?”

word count: 818
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Caina Rose
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Joined: Fri May 31, 2019 6:10 pm
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Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:02 pm

Woven Delights • Anaxas/Vienda
on the 21st of Bethas, 2719 • during the afternoon
The young assassin watched, tensing minutely as Ava’s gaze moved down to her clothes. She felt nervous, like the shopkeep would berate her for the state of the skirt. Breathe, Caina. She thought to herself, though the words that echoed in her head sounded disturbingly like her father’s. Caina tucked her feet underneath her skirt, hiding them from view. It was impossible to tell if this was intentional or not. Inwardly, Caina was counting the seconds until it was safe to leave. It would take the contact approximately 240 seconds (3 minutes) to get a block or so away, drawing the attention of any Seventen officers who might be watching. Caina had another 3 minutes to leave the building, assuming that her contact had been caught and the reason for their time spent in the fabric shop was beaten out of them.

She listened politely as the woman declined the offer of money- interesting, considering this economic climate. It was the little things that told the assassin about a person- from just one sentence, Caina knew that this woman hadn’t joined the Resistance for money or power, which some did. It also let Caina know that she wouldn’t be easily bribed by the Seventen. These two facts were quickly endearing Caina to the older girl. This was likely the reason that Caina didn’t hesitate, agreeing to Ava’s proposition.


“I assume that you know how to contact me. You’ve done me a great service, and I will gladly repay it.”

She took a drink of the tea, not sipping it like someone more refined might. The time had reached an end, and she didn’t want to waste her drink. But still, Caina was reluctant to leave. She enjoyed the girl’s company- she hadn’t expected to. Now, she had a choice to make. Caina could leave before the imagined Seventen officers broke down the door, or she could take a risk and just… sit. Enjoy someone’s company that she wasn’t trying to trick or harm in any way. It was rare, these days.
word count: 409
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Ava Weaver
Posts: 22
Joined: Fri Jun 07, 2019 11:17 am
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Writer: moralhazard
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Sat Jun 15, 2019 4:22 pm

Early Afternoon, 21 Bethas, 2719
Woven Delights, Painted Ladies
"Thank you,” Ava smiled at Caina, and, finally, a soft sip of her tea. The liquid was cool enough to drink easily now, but not too close to room temperature. She had long since mastered the art of taking a small sip without slurping or gulping, and her throat barely moved as she swallowed. She held the cup delicately on her lap again, the porcelain still warm in her hand.

Ava did know how to contact the other woman, and she knew enough about Caina to surmise that she should wait until she had something important, something physical. She was glad Caina had agreed, and yet – even if she had refused, Ava wouldn’t have regretted declining the offer of money. Principles were difficult to eat, but life was hard without them.

Caina fairly gulped her tea, and Ava rather expected her to leave. To her surprise, even once she’d swallowed the younger woman stayed seated on the couch. Ava was quiet, thoughtful for a moment. Whatever had happened in this room had shocked the other woman; that was clear. It wasn’t so hard to imagine she needed a few more moments to gather herself.

“Would you like to look at some fabrics?” Ava offered. Her gaze didn’t drop to Caina’s skirt again, and there was no judgment in her voice or eyes. The soft, shopkeeper smile slid away, though, and Ava grinned instead, a fuller expression that seemed to shine through her eyes, almost conspiratorial. “I would be happy to bring some samples back here, if you would like.” Ava lifted her tea to her lips again, taking another small, delicate sip.

Ava didn’t bother to spell out that it would be good cover for Caina; if anyone did come in, she would be just another customer, no more and no less. If she left the shop with a parcel of fabric – if she did like to purchase anything – then no one would question her disguise. Ava, at least, had always found the act of looking at different fabrics soothing. She doubted Caina did, but at the least it would be a distraction. She wouldn’t take offense if the younger woman declined, or if she wanted to look and then leave without buying anything; that was typical enough for a shopkeeper.

Caina Rose. Ava was sure now that Caina didn’t recognize her; there was no glimmer of recognition in her eyes, nothing to indicate that she was anything more to Ava than a fellow member of the Resistance. And, perhaps, in truth, she wasn’t. Caina had never been her friend as a child; she had been Ava’s cousin’s friend, and Ava the older child sometimes tasked with watching them, sometimes convinced to join in their fun. And yet Caina had spent a fair amount of time with them, and Ava had known her easily enough, if not immediately.

All the same, Ava said nothing of it, gave no indication that she knew the other woman’s true name. That would meant too many explanations, explanations Ava hoped she might never need to give. Those who mattered knew, and to the rest – there were things that simply couldn’t be explained, and, truly, Ava had no desire to try. She doubted Caina wanted to discuss it either; she had no reason to believe that the young woman’s path from Old Rose Harbor to Vienda had been any less fraught than Ava’s own. They were human, after all.

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word count: 622
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