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Played by Offline rallidae [PM] Posts: 66 — Threads: 6
Signos: 1,010
Day Court Scholar
Male [He/Him/His] // 6 [Year 498 Summer] // 17 hh // Hth: 8 — Atk: 12 — Exp: 20 // Active Magic: Dream Illusion // Bonded: N/A
#1

[for reference, this thread is set weeks before Caine returns to Solterra and Raum launches the final phase of his reign.]



tear me to pieces
skin to bone.

“C
ome now, another!” hiccuped the ruddy-cheeked boy draped across the peeling tavern table. The remnants of a now bone dry pitcher of amber liquor—ale, if Caine remembered correctly; or had that been the last one?—dribbled down the slope of his whiskery chin.

“Gods. Get up, Ru,” grunted Lorne, a Denoctian-born but Solterran-sworn spy, as he slammed his goblet down just shy of Rudolph’s bloodshot eyes. Leaned precariously against the legs of a toppled chair. “It’s late... time for us to go. Morning patrols tomorrow, ‘member?” 

Caine laughed as he slid his own empty goblet across the splintered table towards Lorne’s. With enough force to ensure they clinked, like tinkling chandeliers. Crystal to crystal. 

Saints, they were drunk. 

“Lay off him, Lorne,” he said, with a curling smile. He surveyed the man’s stained blue livery, left pocket embroidered with the coat of arms of a Denoctian noble house, with contempt. Why he hadn’t changed out of it before heading to the Boar’s Head with the rest of Raum’s Denocte-sent spy crew was beyond him. “You and Ru patrolled this morning. Do you think the good captain would’ve let you two drink yourselves to death if you had patrols tomorrow?”

“Shit,” Lorne said, groaning in relief as he flopped back down onto the shuddering bench. The floorboards shrieked their dissent. “You’re right.” 

A given, Caine clucked. He hadn’t drank the obscene amounts they had, for one. And for two, he thought, batting a strand of ink-black hair away from his eyes, he knew the weekly patrol schedules better than the scribes who penned them. Better than the king who decreed them.

The dark oak beams crisscrossing the ceiling spun cartwheels above him as Caine pushed himself off the lip of the table. Let hang his heavy head, loosened hair skimming the floorboards, to stifle the roar of his ale-deadened brain. 

“Leaving already, Caine?” Rudolph chirped, before breaking into a peal of high-pitched laughter as a man at the table next to them doubled over and hurled into a refuse bucket. 

Stifling a gag, Caine threw an irritated glance towards the young spy’s sprawled form. Watery blue eyes like crescent moons stared out of the disembodied head hanging backwards over the edge of the wood. He’s going to fall, Caine thought, and he’s going to break his neck.

Not that he cared. Shrugging, he reached towards the coat rack—a fancy term for a row of five nails horribly crooked in the wall—for his shadow cloak, missing it twice (damned cloak) before pulling it down on his third try and throwing it theatrically over his shoulders. 

“I have business,” he said, to Rudolph’s lolling head. ‘Business’ being the one word among them that, once invoked, was never challenged. Besides their tenuously shared allegiance, they weren’t privy to each other’s specific assignments—a spy’s secrets were his lifeblood, and they would have to drink themselves to Death’s door before any of them forgot it.  “Don’t forget about that morning patrol, dear Ru.”

He stepped through the exit to a backdrop of uproarious laughter, the stench of regurgitated alcohol, sweat-stained livery, and mold-eaten wood chasing him off into the sickenly lively Denoctian night.

---

An ache pounded a drumbeat inside Caine’s temples as he walked bleary eyed through the bustling, incense-choked streets. No matter how hard he willed it away, there the ache was. Pounding, sounding, grounding.

A dog-sized rat gnawed on the ankle bone of a cat skeleton in the long shadows of an alley, wedged between a closed shop and an abandoned cottage. Frowning, Caine kicked a pebble at it and watched as it bounced against the rat’s fatty pelt. It hissed furiously at him before scurrying away, ankle bone prize clamped between its teeth. 

“A rat eating a cat,” he whispered, appalled, to no one. The rat was gone. He was alone. Always—

Alone.

He leaned his head against the cool, weathered sandstone of the shop’s outer wall. Wished for his head to quiet, yet relieved the incessant drumbeat ache drowned out the suffocating silence.

Brows scrunched against rock as Caine tried to remember how he’d been dragged to the weekly tavern crawl. Avoided it for weeks he had, procuring a name of another spy to serve as his sacrifice whenever he’d been asked. The ghost king had plenty of spies, and Caine had never thought it wouldn’t have been plenty enough. 

Until the day (today) his hat had run out of names, and his mouth had run dry of excuses. The secret-starved spies had started to doubt his camaraderie. Did he think himself above them? They were avoided and hissed at by their people, by their own mothers. They wouldn’t stand to be avoided (and hissed at) by one of their own.

And one of their own, he was. 

He didn’t want to go back to the castle. Back to the castle, back to Raum, back to lies and duplicity and tiptoeing on a frozen lake, covered with a skin of ice. Where one sudden move, one heavy step, and—

A muffled rustle underfoot pulled Caine’s attention to the ground. A crinkled parchment corner was speared into a miniature dune of sand; his enchanted map had fallen out from the shallow pocket of his cloak. “Saints,” he muttered, as he picked it up and shook the sand off—how careless! what if he’d lost it?—until, overcome by a sudden urge, he froze in his dusting, rolled the map open, and pressed it flat against the bumpy wall.

Searched for a certain name above a certain dot.

[ FIA ] he found at last, head swimming as he traced the dot. Eyes narrowing as he yanked the parchment closer while willing furiously for the letters to stay still

He’d had a little too much to drink, he admitted, because surely the Resistance leader wasn’t in… Denocte? He looked at his own black dot, [ CAINE ]. Looked back at hers, and counted the squares of grid between them under his breath to make sure.
 
Five squares he counted. Five blocks away. A laugh bubbled out his throat. A passing merchant stared questioningly at him, mumbled something about “Denocte... going to the dogs,” before hurrying his hooves away. 

How brightly fate shined when you were drunk.

“Audierunt autem umbrae.” He sighed as the familiar coldness, numbness, nothingness, seeped into his bones. 

May the shadows obey me.

---

He was puzzling how best to approach her, when silver flashed through the door across the street. He stifled the urge to duck back into the alley—he was nothing more than shadow, now.

For all intents and purposes, Verona really did have new information to hand over. If his map hadn’t dropped from his pocket, if he hadn’t searched for Fia’s dot and found it in Denocte, if he hadn’t summoned his shadows around him, Caine would’ve been on his way to a quiet booth on the edges of the markets where one black raven waited to carry his message.

No longer needed now, he thought with a smile. The Raven of Vectaeryn, he’d been named. Tonight, a Verona-donned Raven he would be. Paper rustled in his grip as he sealed the envelope closed, signed it with a swirling capital V. (Pen and ink were the two other things besides the enchanted map lining the shallow pockets of his cloak.) Pushed it back into said pocket, and swept silently across the street. Tripped a bit in the middle, over an especially wide pavement crack, but who could see?

Creeping up to the half-open window, he adjusted his cloak with a final tug, rid his voice of his polished Solterran accent (the ‘r’s curled to native perfection), and knocked two knocks on the glass.

If Fia looked over, she would see nothing but shadow. So to help the girl out, he said, high-bred Taeryn accent dripping like ale-laced honey: 

“My dearest Fia. How wonderful for you to visit Denocte.” He leaned closer to the window and laid his burning cheek to the cool stone. “As you were in town, I thought I'd deliver my next letter personally.”


{ @Seraphina "speaks" notes: here's my humble offering for your pile of 40 threads ;__; }









WE LIVE IN THE FLICKER
but darkness was here yesterday

♠︎ ♤ ♠︎

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Played by Offline Jeanne [PM] Posts: 319 — Threads: 55
Signos: 3,500
Day Court Outcast
Female [She/Her/Hers] // Immortal [Year 498 Spring] // 16 hh // Hth: 17 — Atk: 23 — Exp: 66 // Active Magic: Greater Telekinesis // Bonded: Ereshkigal (Demonic Vulture)
#2

☼ S E R A P H I N A ☼

on Tuesday - you wake - walk the back stairs to find a bird
half dead and thrashing - stunned by its own purpose


It is some ungodly hour of the night, and, to her chagrin, the once-queen of Solterra is holed up restlessly in an almost impossibly suspicious Denoctian inn, pacing.

The blood king was surprisingly competent for a man who’d failed to assassinate two queens and hadn’t noticed a rebellion brewing right under his nose; he had eyes everywhere. Since she was already in the area, she’d decided to stay in Denocte for a night or two longer, to see if she could flush out any of his spies and followers. She hadn’t spent much time in the night kingdom, and, though it wasn’t entirely because of the location, she felt ill at ease so much as lingering in Denocte’s labyrinthian back-alleys and rolling hills. Her accent was a difficult thing to disguise, and her general lack of familiarity with the Night Kingdom did her few favors in her efforts to navigate its underbelly. (It was hardly safe work, and she was hardly in a safe position; if she were merely visiting Denocte, she would have likely stayed with one of the Denoctians she knew, but that would do her little good in her search for Raum’s people.) Still – power spoke for something, as did her unyielding temperament.

Besides – she likes to think that this rebellion has improved her understanding of shadier, more unsavory dealings. Even if she isn’t altogether sure that’s a good thing.

Her armor lies in a pile in the corner of the room, accompanied by Alshamtueur and her arrow. The dull lamp-light emphasizes the silver gleam of her coat; she might as well be a metal carving, a girl-shaped trinket rather than a girl. (Of course, no carving would carry a knot of scars on her cheek.) The shadows linger awkwardly in the concaves of her ribs, making her look far hungrier than she feels, and they further emphasize the sleepless hollows under her eyes, the gaunt angles of her cheeks. She supposes it is for the best. No one will pay her much mind if she masquerades as a Solterran refugee – she certainly looks the part.

Still – her hair is unbraided, and, with little else to knead out her persistent anxiety, she finally brushed it out at some point during the hours that she’s been awake. (She has been halfway tempted to shave it off, lately, or at least to trim it, but the memory of Viceroy doing it for her has stopped her, if only as an act of defiance against a dead man.) In the absence of proper management, it has grown even longer than usual, nearly falling to her hooves. She’s going to have to trim it. Possibly not now, when she doesn’t have anything to use but Alshamtueur and dull lamp light, but-

There comes the sound of a knock from the window; it is halfway open. Summers in Denocte are stuffy and humid, and the room is hardly well-ventilated.

She freezes and turns towards the window. She is met by nothing but darkness.

However, before she could dismiss it as nothing but the night wind or her imagination, both of which were apt to play tricks on her, a voice floats through the open window. She cannot pinpoint its source, beyond right outside of her window, and she cannot pinpoint its owner, beyond vaguely familiar and aware of who she is, or at least who she is pretending to be. Her brow furrows. She opens her mouth, and then she closes it.

She fumbles for an appropriate answer – or any kind of answer, really. His accent is faintly familiar, and his voice somehow even more familiar, but she can’t piece together exactly who she thinks that it should belong to. (It comes out silky-sweet and smooth, though slightly slurred. Where has she heard that pronunciation before? It makes her think of someone, or multiple someones, but the thing that bothers her more than the familiarity of the voice itself is the familiarity of the accent, which is not quite like any of the courts’.) Her head tilts. She stares, her mind grasping for the arrow in her scarf, which lies in a spool in the corner of the room. She doesn’t do anything with it; she doesn’t even pull it out of its sleeve. However, she has it in her (metaphorical) grasp, and that is reassurance enough for her, for she knows how little effort it takes to put it through someone’s skull.

(Of course, she cannot actually see his skull to put an arrow through it, which, she thinks, could pose a problem. Then again, if he’d had any kind of malevolent reason to visit her room in the middle of the night, she doubts that he would have given her any forewarning; she has dealt with enough assassins to know that they prefer to work cleanly and quietly, and it is rather difficult to do either if you are caught in the act.)

Finally, she opts for a reluctant, stilted, “…Verona?” because she can’t think of anyone else who’d be sending her letters – that she doesn’t happen to know personally. (And, though she chooses to avoid it, she can’t think of anyone else who would be brazen enough to refer to her as his “dearest Fia.”) Seraphina takes a step or two closer to the window, her eyes narrowing to two-tone slits as she stares out of the foggy glass and into the Denoctian streets. Nothing. Nothing.

But she has a feeling that he is close. It doesn’t take seeing him to know; his voice definitely came from just outside of the (barely cracked) window, and she is fairly sure that she can see his breath fogging up the window.

And, after taking a few hesitant steps towards the window, Seraphina is abruptly hit with the scent of alcohol. She stares at the window, her eyes narrowing fractionally.

Should she be concerned that he can find her in the middle of the night in Denocte while rather inhibited by, judging by the slur to his voice and the fact that she can smell it from inside the room, more than a few drinks?

She should definitely be concerned about that.

That and the fact that she can’t see him at all – even as she presses the window a bit further open, a tentative gesture at best, Seraphina cannot make out any form in the persistent blackness of the street outside. She might as well be speaking to a disembodied voice. Or – there might have been the vague impression of a form, but it is so well hidden in the shadows that Seraphina cannot discern any identifying characteristics. Some kind of magic or enchantment, she assumes, which is likely quite useful for a spy (or whatever he’s supposed to be).

She doesn’t know where to look, so she stares at where she thinks he – might – be and hopes that there is still enough distance between herself and the window (or that his vision has been impaired by the alcohol) so that he cannot quite tell if she is looking in the wrong direction. “How did you find me here?” How did you find me in the first place? is perhaps the more important question, but it isn’t one that she asks, because she doubts he’ll tell her the answer even if she does.

(His letters had come from nowhere, with no indication of how or why he knew her – but, of course, Seraphina knows better than to look a gift horse in the mouth. His information has always been reliable, so she does not so much as try to pry too deeply into his affairs…suspicious as he is. She hasn’t wanted to risk losing his support.)

Her brow arches, and she waits. There is still some space between herself and the window, just in case she has miscalculated – but she thinks that she can trace his presence, to some extent, if only because his breathing is fogging up the window.






tags | @Caine
notes | I was not at all expecting to reply to this tonight, but happy...end of finals period?

"speech"




@







I'M IN A ROOM MADE OUT OF MIRRORS
and there's no way to escape the violence of a girl against herself


please tag Sera! contact is encouraged, short of violence




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