Walking shadows

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Leon Valentin

  • Inactive Character
  • Warlord Priest
  • Shalador Terreille
    6 Posts    0 marks
Walking shadows
« on: November 06, 2018, 10:35:11 AM »

Leon wondered if they traced their bloodlines. How often would they bisect with those in Shalador? Askavi’s territory queen had family in the northern provinces. He’d dragged that tomb out of the archives and tucked it into his cabinet to look over at his leisure, and to compare it. The others he knew less about. People from Hayll and Dena Nehele, some completely unknown entities.

A few that could he considered enemies.

He tucked himself into a corner and watched them. Book spread across his thighs, a small notepad lain over whatever page he was not currently reading. His pen scratched quietly when the conversation was at its loudest, stilling during the lulls so no one would catch him at it. As many notes about the people he glimpsed as the words he was reading.

Sometimes he forgot to look up at all. Too enthralled in the past to remember the present. Brought back only because the feel of the place was different. Outsiders. Gathering in the palace and the city surrounding to attend the ball. To make friends and trade agreements. To sniff at secrets and hopefully to do no harm.

Somewhere the strident tones of the queen’s sister made him flinch, shoulders ducking him closer to his book. He would have to be dead before seeking that one for treatment. Too brusque and harsh, small as she was. Flipping the page, Leon tipped his head back, eyes wandering the wide room beneath sleepy eyelids. Maybe a nap. Or a walk. It wouldn’t do to be caught out in his bed in the middle of the day. Snapping the book closed over his notepad, Leon tucked it beneath his arm and rose from his chair, like a shadow departing a corner to become a man.

Vigot Thidrandisson

    White to Rose
  • Warlord
  • Played By:

    Steward to the Territory Queen
    Glacia Kaeleer
    9 Posts    30 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2018, 12:12:11 AM »
Maybe Vigot had been a little premature in deciding he could do part of the mingling by himself. It wasn't that he didn't like the people, or that he wasn't interested in the conversations that were happening. He'd even been engaging politely with a handful of them, although maybe he had been partially hiding behind a glass of something sweet and not nearly strong enough to smooth out his socially awkward edges.

There were just quite a few more people than he'd prepared himself for, and he could feel his words drying up like so much brittle winter grass.

It'd seemed an easy enough task, sitting among the delegation that had come across from Glacia, surrounded by people he was familiar with. Or at least people who didn't take his straightforward responses to their questions with affront or confusion. He'd come in layers, unwilling to shed too much around people he wasn't even acquaintances with, and when someone had asked why he'd been in a sweater that was 'almost unseasonal', apparently "I'd been cold", wasn't an acceptable response.

He had been cold. And now there were cooling spells cast on his sweater to keep him that way in a climate that was markedly warmer than what Vi was used to. There was little doubt that he'd eventually acclimate, but just then Vigot was thankful not only for the manufactured chill but for the borderline casual hems of his sleeves. He could hide the activity of his hands in his layers and no one would be the wiser. It was only his ability to fiddle with the fabric that kept him from reaching from where his Rose rested below his collar bones.

As it was, Vi had been edging out of the way of the bulk of the mingling people for the better part of ten minutes, angling toward a corner of the room that was occupied by both chairs and an artful arrangement of shadows. It wasn't until he was closer that he realized those shadows made a man, and then that man was standing, and Vigot found himself simultaneously closer than he thought he was and right in the way of the easiest path away from the corner without edging past the crowd.

"Apologies." he murmured, stepping back and bowing. "I didn't see you." He should have, probably, but it wasn't something he was going to linger on. He edged a little closer to the wall when another servant with a tray of glasses breezed by. Maybe if he tried hard enough he could vanish himself into the wallpaper and get a moment to breathe.

@dergon

Leon Valentin

  • Inactive Character
  • Warlord Priest
  • Shalador Terreille
    6 Posts    0 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #2 on: November 18, 2018, 07:55:49 AM »

Leon found himself sharing breathes with another man upon standing. Air mingling in the small space between their bodies as the other apologized and Leon considered briefly returning to his seat; too close to embracing the stranger to simply stand there or move forward. His eyebrows ticked upward a fraction, turning in toward each other in surprise.

”That is alright, lord.” The shared caste hung heavy in the growing space between them. Bows dipping them each into the pool as Leon returned the gesture. Protocol was in high demand at the palace these days. Too many foreign tempers to take any risks. ”No harm done. I hope I did not startled you.” Leon leaned away from the servant, though his nose followed the tray hungrily. He plucked two glasses from it with a shy thread of craft and drew them near.

”Would you like one?” He offered, unable to capture both without dropping his book, he let the extra hover awkwardly in the air. ”And my seat? I was just headed outside for some air.” And some peace. A break from all the mingling bodies and eddying power. He thought it might be more of less uncomfortable for a man wearing a Rose. There was a very peculiar feel the his psychic scent, but Leon did not probe deeply, not wishing to offend.

”It is a very nice spot for people watching, if that is you preference.” He pointed to it with the spine of his book as much as his finger, the cushion fluffing back up now that his weight no longer compressed it. Book and fingers tucked against his ribs once more, Leon began sidling toward the door, eyes darting from kind of companion to the room to make sure no one was coming to drag him off somewhere. It happened on occasion. Just enough to make him fear its occurrence.

Vigot Thidrandisson

    White to Rose
  • Warlord
  • Played By:

    Steward to the Territory Queen
    Glacia Kaeleer
    9 Posts    30 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #3 on: November 20, 2018, 09:10:45 PM »
Vigot's eyes tracked the floating drinks, slipping away and then back up. It felt like the noise was turning from distinct words into the crush of snow between boots, undefined and heavy. "You did," Vigot murmured, attention coming back together. "But it's not your fault." Far be it for him to blame someone else on his own attention being too far diverted from what was literally right in front of him.

He smiled a little at the courtesy. "I suppose. Thank you," The glass was cool in his hands, fingers wary of the fragility of the glass. He felt off kilter, clumsy, and would rather be too secure than end up spilling it on himself or the carpet. Or the stranger. Sipped lightly, weighing his options.

A place to people watch? Vigot eyed the chair, then the crowd, then the drink in his hands. He couldn't deny the appeal of it, to a degree. It would be worth it to blend into the furniture and let his nerves settle, avoid the crowd as much as he could while still watching the interpersonal by-play, the eddies of personal boundaries and politics informing social interaction.

And yet...

Vi turned cautiously hopeful eyes toward the stranger, one corner of his moth ticking up. "Maybe you could point me in the direction of fresh air as well? I find the crowd," he scrunched his nose, "very present." That was a tactful way to put it. He didn't want to go wandering around the grounds unsupervised, but it would take much more than the polite drinks they were serving here to smooth away the rough edge of anxiety that threatened to snap his jaw shut like a trap. One person, even one as dark as the lord before him, would be easier to handle than the crowd.

He shook himself a little then, realizing his folly. "And I've been remiss in my etiquette twice over." Tilting forward, not quite so low as a bow, he gave, "Vigot Thidrandisson, Steward to Lady Heartsbane, of the Court of Meols, Glacia."

Leon Valentin

  • Inactive Character
  • Warlord Priest
  • Shalador Terreille
    6 Posts    0 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2018, 06:14:08 AM »

”You are kind to say so.” A very polite lie. It was poor manners, and dangerous, to slide from shadow to sight. Leon would have to remember to be more careful, more obvious, while strangers roamed the palace halls. Blood tempers were a delicate thing, one Leon suspected was linked to lineage, just as it was found in horses or hounds. But in beasts they called it temperament.

”You are welcome. The Lady Araceli stocks and excellent wine cellar.” The jewel of Shalador. Leon slept in her house sometimes, and haunted her archives, but he knew very little about the territory queen personally. Her bloodlines said a lot, however. With a smile for his ill at ease companion, Leon tipped his glass and shifted his book. Somewhere beyond them a chair sang against the floor. Leon’s eyes flicked toward the sound in case trouble brewed. But there was no shouting. Or bleeding.

He laughed.

”Present. Yes, that is a good word for it.” Attention diverted back. Leon nodded and turned his shoulders toward the door. ”That way.” Voice pitched low as if he were whispering a dire secret. The crowd was very present. And some were very dark. They would be a territory of sore barriers when this was over, Leon was quite certain. Glass protected by the palm of his hand, he returned the almost bow, startled from his reverie by the formal introduction.

”Priest Leon Valentin. I’m an archivist at the temple.” He lead them toward the promised door, and then out of it, into the evening air which was heavy with the scent of flowers. Twilight turned the vegetation a deep green, inky and almost black against the lengthening shadows. It stole some of the color from the blooms but none of the potency from their scent. ”Glacia is very far away.” He commented in the way of people who do not often leave home and never travel far.

”Are you enjoying Shalador?” They were very different places, Leon thought. Though his only real knowledge of Glacia was mostly based on rumor rather than study.

Vigot Thidrandisson

    White to Rose
  • Warlord
  • Played By:

    Steward to the Territory Queen
    Glacia Kaeleer
    9 Posts    30 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #5 on: December 11, 2018, 11:10:41 PM »
"Indeed," Vigot was not much a wine man, victim of his father's unfortunately indiscriminate palate. What Vi liked was a much shorter list than what he didn't, and he was pleased that there was only a slight edge of the bitterness he found so off-putting in most alcohols. It'd be a dangerous if he indulged too much as the night wore on.

Vigot had suffered all kinds of terrible flavors while his siblings and cousins learned to cook, and the bitterness of a little wine was definitely not enough to keep him out of his cups. Distancing himself from the hawk-eyed servers was likely a wise choice.

Walking through the door and outside was a welcome relief, and it felt like the air in Vi's lungs was already fresher. Even if the lingering psychic scents of the gathering felt knit into his sweater. The hand not cradling the glass moved up to touch the collar of his sweater, resisting the urge to pull it away from his throat and instead brushing his knuckles over his collar bones. Hopefully it didn't look as awkward as he felt.

"A priest and an archivist," he said, curious. It seemed an obvious pairing when presented to him, but Vi couldn't remember any priest or priestess ever also expressing an involvement with history as part of their work. "Work or passion first?"

Far away indeed. Before coming as part of the delegation he hadn't traveled farther than his families small hunting cabin. He hoped it didn't show. "Mm." The distance seemed equally very large and very small, like, if he wanted to, he could just  "So far. It's different, being in a city without walls." And snow, and all the buildings were built differently, and -- the list was extensive, surely. "Not so many layers, I've found." Not that anyone would be able to tell with him. He smiled a little at his own awkwardness, fingers of his free hand fidgeting with the hem of his sleeve.

Leon Valentin

  • Inactive Character
  • Warlord Priest
  • Shalador Terreille
    6 Posts    0 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #6 on: December 21, 2018, 06:32:39 AM »

They stood together on the steps a moment. Each breathing in the evening in a different way. Leon looked at his companion over the rim of his glass, glance cutting sideways in curiosity. He seemed no more relaxed to Leon, but what were such things between strangers? All guesswork and conjecture. Or sneaking probes, but Leon did not wish to unsettle the Glacian anymore by tasting the feel the scent of his psyche.

”I am lucky in that it is both.” Humbled because Leon knew it was not always so for many, he bowed his head as he spoke of it. ”In my spare time I take notation on Shalador bloodlines.” He admitted with some enthusiasm, glass circling the air in front of him, as if it could encompass and draw all of Shalador to him for study. ”Do you have such things in Glacia?” It was very much what Leon wished to know, and could be shy in the asking no longer, not with such a perfect opening.

He was quiet and musing as Vigot spoke. Eyes darting to the thick walls of twisting branch and budding leaf that circled the palace. Maybe not stone walls, but walls none the less. The difference was more subtle than that though, Leon was sure. His drink twirled in his hand. ”What are the walls for? To keep in or keep out?” He could imagine no place in Shalador being so imprisoned. Nature was natural.

”Layers?” Leon looked the visitor over again nodding, smiling through a soft laugh. ”Ah, I see.” He had never worn anything more than a nice suite, and even then, very rarely. This was more like a bundling. ”You will find noon most unpleasant in that, my friend.” He didn’t know how the man stood it now. The evening was cool, but by no means crisp. Glacians, Leon decided, must have a different sort of blood.

Vigot Thidrandisson

    White to Rose
  • Warlord
  • Played By:

    Steward to the Territory Queen
    Glacia Kaeleer
    9 Posts    30 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2019, 11:02:25 PM »
That was interesting. Vigot turned more toward Leon, intrigued. His enthusiasm was something Vi found comforting, too. Always easier to speak to people who liked what they were speaking about. Also meant less talking he had to do, in general.

"In a way." He thought, although maybe more an oral history of marriages than anything else. "Families stay together more, I think. Living together." How best to explain grandmother's hands and his cadre of aunts and uncles, in and out over the years he'd been in the sick house. Or a father, tender but more of a friend. Comfortable, easy. Big. "Best tracked through our mothers." He switched his drink from one hand to the other, using his right to shove up the sleeve of his sweater. The dark lines of his sister's names curved over his skin, and he traced his youngest sister's name absently.

"Children of my mother. Our father may have others." Very likely did, although Vi had never cared to find out. It'd never mattered. He'd grown up surrounded by cousins and friends. It wasn't something that had warranted too much worry when he was young. Maybe if he decided to marry anyone from his home city they would check lineages.

Vi's eyes followed his companion's toward the closest garden wall. Curious to see something growing in what he was used to seeing both much larger and covered in snow. Cold enough to pull at one's skin, if one was dumb enough or dared to press exposed flesh to it. "Out, mostly. Wolves and snow cats can make easy game of a child left unattended." Few had he seen or treated that had survived such attacks. The farming villages had healer's particularly handy in healing animal wounds. "Sometimes bears." But rarer still, that.

He smiled slightly, used to the brand of look that Leon sent him. Even some of the Glacian party had looked at him askance when he'd come out in a spelled sweater. Likely he would pare down to something lighter the longer he stayed, but. More a matter of comfort, just then, and liking the ability to hide. Feeling a sliver of his tension ease out at "my friend", Vi took a sip of his drink and confided, "A tactful application of cooling spells does wonders." And it was unlikely he wouldn't be able to heal whatever damage the heat might do to him.

Leon Valentin

  • Inactive Character
  • Warlord Priest
  • Shalador Terreille
    6 Posts    0 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #8 on: January 24, 2019, 06:16:48 AM »

”In the same house?” Leon questioned curiously. His eyebrows made a faint pucker between them. Not so different, then. Close families sharing knowledge, looking out for one another. Even in here in the palace, their queen kept her family close. ”Mothers are very important.” He laughed, thinking of his own. It is what she would want him to say, even if it was really grandmothers who rules the family.

Interest piqued he came a little nearer. Drink held close to his body so he did not bump or spill on his companion. Half surprised to find skin and not another layer beneath the sleeve he pulled up. Name written on his flesh in ink. ”You will never escape them now.” His smile made the skin beneath his eyes puffy. ”I have three myself.” Leon leaned away again, free hand brushing his hair back.

”Others not with your mother?” That was interesting indeed. Though not all marriages lasted forever, with so many children, Leon would have thought it a long one. ”Did he take another wife?” He pried without meaning to. Mouth drifting with his thoughts. It made lineages complicated when that happened. Branches within branches. Better everyone stick to one mate to keep things tidy.

”Bears.” Leon whispered, squinting at the foliage and sipping his drink. As if he could summon an animal he had never seen from the bushes themselves. Just to know. Wolves. Snow cats. Bears. They were very large he knew, and slept in the winter. One would think they slept always in Glacia then. A dangerous place then. Dangerous and cold. Maybe one day he would see it, though his curiosity did not extend to his feet.

”Very clever.” Laughing at Vigot’s confession, Leon gestured them down the wide stairs. ”Come, sit!” He lead the way, perching on a particular step. From there they could see the small fountain, witchlights fed into the bottom highlighting the small silver fish that darted in the water. It was his favorite place. They only ever lit the fountain for parties, and the steps were wide enough to make mostly comfortable seats.

”I have never seen these fish anywhere else, and I have yet to get the secret of their origin from anyone.” He had asked few directly of course. Instead delving into old trade agreements in his spare time. Of course, Leon had also done very little fishing in his life, so he looked through books on those as well. ”I have found our library to be very lacking in volumes about fish species. Mostly it covers those that should be avoided or how to treat their various stings and bites if they are not.” Healer business really.

A well trained servant came out to serve them. As observant as Leon himself, clever probes finding missing guests on the steps. A mixed tray of drinks and hors devours balanced in his hand. Leon looked over his shoulder and nearly waved him away before thinking better of it. ”Just leave the tray, thank you, and we should be well tended.” And left in peace.

Vigot Thidrandisson

    White to Rose
  • Warlord
  • Played By:

    Steward to the Territory Queen
    Glacia Kaeleer
    9 Posts    30 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2019, 02:45:53 AM »
He hummed in agreement, nodding. "Many generations live together." His sisters, his mother, his father, at least four aunts and uncles, cousins, grandparents. Constant children underfoot, and always chatter.

He beamed at the appraisal of his tattoos. If there was anyone Vi would not want freedom from, it was his sisters.

However, Vigot shook his head."They are still married. Sometimes a body desires another without the heart changing. And they share." His parents hadn't been notably promiscuous with either other couples or individuals, but he'd seen enough. And there was enough difference between him and his sisters that debating who one's alternate father might be had been a bit of a game when they were younger. Like spotting animal tracks or seeing who could gut a fish the fastest.

Heat rose in his cheeks at the praise, and he followed Leon gamely down to stairs, buzzing with pleasure at himself and at the alcohol in his veins. There was no discernible difference between one step and the next to Vigot, but he sat anyway, following Leon's attention to the pond and the silver fish there. They weren't something he'd seen in Glacia, and their flickering bodies made interesting shadows against the witchlights.
"Some of the fish in Glacia do have teeth," Vi supplied, gazing at them. The shadows and the water were fascinating. "Always good to know what bit you." He flexed a hand, thinking back to a dozen nicks and cuts, different blades meaning just little changes in mending.

That same hand pulled the cool edge of Craft to his fingertips at the sudden appearance of a servant, drawing up tight as a coil while he watched them deposit the tray and leave. He relaxed when the footsteps faded, and reached only to refill his glass. "Why are you so fascinated by them? What can be learned of fish?" Surely no person could swim like them, although maybe they could learn to hold their breath. And there were those Glacians who liked to submerge themselves in the water where the ice was thin. Lots of treating for frostbite and chills, then.

Leon Valentin

  • Inactive Character
  • Warlord Priest
  • Shalador Terreille
    6 Posts    0 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2019, 08:25:24 AM »

Leon nodded. ”That sounds appropriate for a cold climate. More body heat to keep the house warm.” It would also make tracking their bloodlines a simple task, with so many of them in one place. Especially if they all tattooed their siblings on their bodies like this one did.

Leaning back, Leon drank to hide his surprise. It did not settle well in his throat. A bubble bobbing downward and bursting in his stomach. He smothered a cough in his hand. ”Share?” He rubbed his thumb knuckle against his chin, and the rim of his glass along his lip. He had not heard of married couples sharing before. Infidelity, certainly, but not sharing. ”Sounds like a complication when tracing lineages.” He sighed and drank again.

Together they made their way down the steps and took a set on one of them. It was quiet. The hum of the ball barely heard through the heavy doors of the palace. Mostly it was the sound of the light breeze through the garden and the burble of the fountain. ”I think most of the fish in Shalador have teeth.” He laughed. ”Indeed it is. Especially when it can kill you otherwise.” He had done too much useless reading. Knew that the treatment for one bite could kill for another but had no ability to put the knowledge to use.

The servant came, and went. Vigot growing from relaxed to tense and back again. Leon did not press the reason and pretended to not even notice.

”Just to know, I suppose. I cannot think of any other reason.” He shrugged and helped himself to some of the food left out on the tray. Some nameless paste on a cracker, topped with the curling tail of a prawn. Leon ate it in one bite, eyes drifting accusingly toward the fountain. ”I cannot say what can be learned from them. But they have no name or origin and it bothers me when I look at them.” He explained after swallowing. He licked his lips clean and shrugged.

”We have tales, you know, of ayacayia.” He glanced slyly at his companion and smiled. ”Fish that are half man. Or men that are half fish.” He teased.

Vigot Thidrandisson

    White to Rose
  • Warlord
  • Played By:

    Steward to the Territory Queen
    Glacia Kaeleer
    9 Posts    30 marks
Re: Walking shadows
« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2019, 11:14:55 PM »
Vigot laughed, feeling lighter. Maybe he aught to pull back on the drinking, but it felt good to ease into being sociable. It was liberating, and he knew he'd be teased about it by the delegation if he told them, but he was forming inter-territory friendships. Being able to speak complex sentences without stuttering over them would help. "There's not so much travel as to muddle blood. Our elders always know." Everything, constantly, all the damn time. Vi's direct grandmother and not-so-direct aunts and uncles were tremendous meddlers. "I imagine family likes to meddle in matchmaking here, too."

He That made him blink and then squint down at the fish with speculative attention, curious. What little teeth they must have then. "Well," he said, affecting the type of mock solemnity one can only have when teasing, "I will do my best not to let you fall to fish this night." He patted Leon's shoulder, a touch of healing Craft across his palm to make his meaning clear. Vigot was sure he could heal some fish bites.

"You sound like one of my sisters, all of full of questions. Always learning." Vigot had gotten comfortable with healing, and his hobbies were hobbies -- he didn't pursue them with the same passion that his sisters tended to hunt their entertainment, and he felt it was likely the same with Leon. Stewarding was taxing enough, Vi had grown to prefer pastimes that let him not think.

Maybe the drink was getting to him, because that was a word he hadn't heard before. Was that a word? "Ayacayia?" he repeated, knowing he mangled it and not feeling too terrible about it. How many vowels did that have? What would one even look like? One could be half Shaladorian and half Glacian, after all, and it wasn't something that would be definitively noticeable. He shuddered at the idea of a flesh colored fish man, all unblinking eyes and lipless mouths. And the teeth, eugh, Darkness. He downed a cracker and then half his glass when his mouth proved too dry to swallow. "And what is that?"
 

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