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(Society): Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Ah, it appears I am quite at a loss to advise our young friend, nothing I propose is good enough." (Society): You say, "Our young friend, Lady Jamilah?" (Society): Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "You know, Lady Grey, the handsome young fellow basically living in our laboratory." (Society): You say, "Ah yes, scrounging for cake with his rather charming bat sitting in our rafters." (Society): Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "I must note he has not gained a single pound for all that and is quite the exemplary viscanti specimen." (Society): Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Ahem. So I hear, of course, told by the many ladies visiting the laboratory just to donate blood till there is naught in their veins." (Society): You say, "I've donated more than a pint or so each year." (Society): Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "For the cause, of course?" (Society): You say, "Indeed. Yet, what seems to be the trouble my Lady? Shall I see if he is alright?" (Society): Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Please do join us in the parlour, Lady Grey. Headmistress, if you would as well." *movement* A baronial wisteria-blue parlour. The piquant smells of earl-grey tea with lavender, robust wines, and tobacco, permeate through this vivacious oval-shaped chamber, where its arched windows to the south are thrown wide to allow in the lazy noonday sun or the dusk in the arid evening. Wallpaper of a periwinkle shade with subtle stripes of satin and matte dove gray finish contrasts the creamy ivory of the large mantle where a gold grate conceals the draft of the chimney's flue on the north wall. Ornamenting the mantle is a large rounded-arch mirror which reflects the interior with mercurial snatches of reflections and burnished light. Muslin tasselled curtains of a white-lemon shade frame the windows as well as the two double doors embellished with iron that lead to the conservatory. There are 2 mahogany chairs of golden orchids here. A chessboard constructed from metal and semiprecious gemstones stands here upon a dove-grey marble plinth. A long tassel of golden threads hangs by the mantle. Harmonising with its surroundings, an elegant Bombard! board stands here, awaiting players. Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue poses here, tapping her folded fan against her lips as she murmurs demurely to herself. Fidgeting almost constantly, Edwin d'Vanecu is here. You see exits leading northeast, southeast, and west. The hands on a mottled bloodstone watch read about half past ten o'clock in the morning. . Striding through a dim spot of morning light, you say, "Good morning, Lady Jamilah." Her slow smile radiant as she turns it to Edwin. "And you, my dear Master d'Vanceu." You caress the thoughts of Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals as you whisper, "Won't you join us Lady n'Kylbar?" Edwin d'Vanecu is in the middle of speaking as you enters, his back to the door. "That will not work either!" he bemoans. Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue rises from one of the exquisite gilt couches gracefully and dips into a curtsey before you. "Lady Grey," she offers politely before sitting herself down. Edwin d'Vanecu springs from one of the mahogany chair fast enough to trip over himself. "Lady Grey!" he exclaims more in surprise than greeting. Edwin d'Vanecu clears his throat. Attempting that again, with composure, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Lady Grey." Vatul emits a soft noise of acknowledgment. Her pale hands lift as she nods to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue, lowering her cowl with a slithering drop of fabric. "It appears that the Headmistress is indisposed, I did hope she would join us," she remarks smoothly. *super secret costume change* Looking from one woman to the next, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Join us?" A hint of iron in her pleasant voice, you say, "Quite so. I believe you owe us an explanation for all this ruckus." Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue is sitting quite comfortably on the couch, an amused smirk at her lips. "Now now, darling," she reprimands Edwin, "You did not think I will put up with your naysaying endlessly all on my own?" Exotic, heady fragrances of pungent cinnamon and myrrh tickle your senses, mixing with a slick, oily aroma. [ENTER KAILANNA] Kailanna inclines her head politely to those around her. Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "My apologies for the late arrival. Good day everyone." Vatul sashays just beyond Edwin d'Vanceu's reach and remains there, she drags a hand through the sides of her unwoven raven locks. She stops, and gazes most expectantly at the youth before nodding toward Kailanna. You remark to Kailanna, "Good day, Headmistress. A pleasure to see you as always." Edwin d'Vanecu looks aghast and clearly uncomfortable to be the focus of the scene. His eyes dart this way and that, seeking to escape the situation somewhat. He pauses at Kailanna's arrival and turns on Jamilah, "And the Headmistress too?!" he whines in a hurt voice. Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue offers a throaty murmur of 'mhm' in response, amusement flickering in her eyes. Kailanna clasps her hands behind her back, regarding the young man. "I trust my presence does not bring distress?" Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "I am quite pleased to see you, Headmistress. I have clearly failed our young friend here, perhaps where I fail, others will succeed." Kailanna tilts her head and listens intently to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue. [PROBE EDWIN] His orange eyes darting this way and that in constant wonderment, the assistant is a relatively young viscanti man, made younger still by his anxious energy. A pronounced but proportioned nose, thin and quick to smile lips, sunset-hued skin, and high cheekbones mark him as boyishly attractive. His wavy black hair has been artistically tousled backwards while the sides have been partly shaved, left longer on top and progressively shorter near his ears, one of which bears three small golden hoops. He is dressed in well-fitting black trousers with comfortable black shoes, a high-quality slate grey shirt, a loosely hanging black tie, and a white lab coat which, if it had ever been pressed, has forgotten what all of that was about. A few leather bracelets cuff one of his wrists, carnelian-wrought prayer beads threaded amongst them almost in afterthought. Edwin d'Vanecu is quite powerful. He is loyal to the Grand Dominion of Magnagora. You cannot see what Edwin d'Vanecu is holding. It has the following aliases: edwin, d'vanecu, viscanti. Edwin d'Vanecu's sunset-hued skin is closer in hue to a bloody sunset now. He runs a hand through his hair, tousling it up idly. He still looks like a cornered animal but bows in a most gentlemanly fashion to both ladies. "Would you please be seated," he offers. The elegant chords of chamber music reach your ears from nearby, the rich notes each stately and crisp. Kailanna sits herself down on a mahogany chair of golden orchids and makes herself comfortable. At the behest of the young scientist, Vatul glides toward one of the solitary orchid and mahogany chairs. She leans back against it as she sits, fingers upon the edges of the arms. Smoothing her skirts with a practised flick, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "And such manners as well. I trust there is nothing amiss?" Clearly enjoying the discomfort it brings Edwin, Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Quite the most dramatic thing has happened, Headmistress. And it will take three ladies of the Society to set it to rights. After they have gotten the whole story out of the man and dissected it for laughs, of course." Resting her chin on her palm with an amused smile, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "Well, I do so adore a good dissection." Edwin d'Vanecu folds his arms in front of him protectively, a scowl on his brow as he eyes Jamilah before, inadvertantly, escaping her bold stare back. Her twilight eyes dancing like embers, you say, "Yes, we shall hear of it. Scalpel and all." Slowly, enjoying every second, Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "You see, my ladies, Edwin here has beseeched my help in deciding on the right gift to win back his ah lady friend." Vatul's features remain untouched by the relish of the voices in the parlour. "A lady," she poses, with a rather monotone tone. Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "If you would explain the whole thing, Edwin?" Leaning forwards, Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Though more importantly, have you heard any of those rumours before? About Edwin's lady love?" Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue's eyes sparkle with amusement at Edwin d'Vanecu. You say, "I am afraid it is something I've yet to hear whispers of, though perhaps the Headmistress may know of such rumours." Smiling faintly, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "Oh, I am certain I could not say. Perhaps a young woman working elsewhere in the city? Possibly with a similar scientific mien?" Edwin d'Vanecu gives a horrified gasp. Edwin d'Vanecu exclaims, "But we agreed not to broadcast it to others!" Something stirs within the corner of your eye and as you turn, an infinite blackness looms just a few steps ahead, framed by an neigh invisible border. Before you can even grasp what your gaze has set upon, the image flickers and disappears, leaving everything as it was. Edwin d'Vanecu says, "How... how?" Chuckling softly, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Oh, not to worry dear. Little passes through these streets that does not reach me. Ancient nobles tend to forego food and subsist on rumours and gossip." You have emoted: Vatul cocks her head to one side, staring off into the distance as if some stray thought had caught her eye. Edwin's voice recaptures her attention, yet her expression is one of an unknown discomfort. The electrifying shimmer of arcane magics fills the air, accompanied by structured High Magic chanting from nearby. Folding her hands in her lap, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Though I must say, I find it hard to believe you have trouble keeping her attention. You are not painful to look upon and, more importantly, you are well bred. What seems to be the matter?" With an absent cadence, you say, "If any beauty has caught his eye more than his own, I would wonder who it was. It is a shame I have not acquired him, myself." Edwin d'Vanecu slumps into a free chair disheartened. "It's about our research methodologies," he confesses. [ENTER KALNID] Kalnid bows respectfully to you. You incline your head politely to Kalnid. You say, "It appears a crowd has been drawn. Good evening, Biomancer." Musing, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Mm, now that is an interesting point of disagreement." Kailanna inclines her head politely to Kalnid. Biomancer Kalnid says, "Don't mind me, I simply heard tell our assistant might be finding encouragement." Edwin d'Vanecu fidgets with his hands as he speaks, looking somewhere off to the side, the bloody sunset still on his cheeks. "Vittoria and I..." he begins but pauses, saying the name aloud for the first time. He looks to Kalnid and makes a giving up gesture and nods cordially, motioning for him to be seated. Kalnid sits himself down on a mahogany chair of golden orchids and makes himself comfortable. Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Kalnid, "Indeed, I imagine our young friend will be much reassured with another man about. We have him rather surrounded as it is." Stretching his arms with a crackling sort of noise, Kalnid looks expectantly towards the young man. Slowly, relieving the story as he speaks, going faster then slower, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "We have studied together, we have planned a whole life together. We were to be betrothed soon. But she... she is a scholar, but a scientist too for Nil's sake. Shouldn't she get it? Science and the ritual of the arcane, its traditions, are two different things. I thought she understood that." Kalnid frowns, eyebrows creasing below his bandages. Vatul circles her fingers idly along the arms of her chair, engrossed in the story with the same darkened gaze. Agitated now, half shouting as if he's arguing with someone, Edwin d'Vanecu exclaims, "No, she clearly doesn't. What a poor quality for a scientist to have. But no, she is an amazing scientist, such a sharp mind. But no, Edwin, don't treat Necromancy that way. It's unbecoming! You will anger the Demon Lords!" Biomancer Kalnid says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "If I may interject - just for a moment - Are you familiar with the Balach Institute?" Exhaling half his anger, surprised, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Of course." Biomancer Kalnid says, "Project Soulforge in particular?" You glance askance at Kalnid. Steepling his fingers, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Of course?" Gesturing at the air, Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Well we won't help the man that way unless we're suggesting he dig up a Holy Celestine Project to woo the lass." With practiced words, Biomancer Kalnid says, "Soulforge relied - relies, I suppose - heavily on a modification of transmological principles with soulless energies." You remark to Edwin d'Vanecu, "What of Necromancy? You have been experimenting beyond your menial work here?" Edwin d'Vanecu takes a moment to consider. "She wouldn't mind some research notes as a gift," he thinks out loud to himself. Biomancer Kalnid says, "I shouldn't have to lead you by the nose to arrive at the last art from that. Which is to say, you're right." Vatul brings a hooked finger to her chin, her eyes moving toward Kalnid in some realisation of his words before she nods. With a hint of a smile, Biomancer Kalnid says, "Not that correctness is necessarily a virtue in your current aim." Waving a dismissive hand, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Elementary, I do not see your point." The acrid stench of burning ozone permeates the air as the great engines of industry and planar science march ever forward. Interjecting, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "To clarify the issue, it sounds as though the point of disagreement is that you believe science and magic should not mix, while she would prefer to blend the two?" Kalnid pauses, just a moment. "Possibly I've preempted myself." You say, "Possibly." You say, "Though I believe there is more to his tale than just the disagreement at its core." Shaking his head, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Biomancer, do not teach a Necromancer how to make wights. This is the sort of thing my grandfather assumed I knew for a fact already at the age of 8. That is not her issue at all! She understands the concept, we studied together like I said. She just... she just will not have it that I will not observe the rituals and traditions and ceremonies of Necromancy in order to experiment with it. I do not have to." You lift your eyebrow slightly, curious. Waving a dismissive hand, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "To be unique, revered, praised and valued, of course the Demon Lords require us to observe ritual. They bestow the gift upon us, Magnagorans. We do not have the skills of Urlach or Elder Malmydia. Again elementary Necromancy by by grandfather's standards." Edwin d'Vanecu exclaims, "She will not stand that I insult the Demon Lords by not doing so while I experiment. It is a waste of time, I tell her, to hallow the ritual ground and bend over backwards before I raise the dead!" You say, "By grandfather, you are referring to...?" She tilts her head severely. "There are pacts with your soul to be made, you have not observed even those?" Shifting and rumbling underfoot, the earth itself trembles in the grasp of vast Geomantic powers. Confused, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Why, Grandfather Seritul of course." Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Ah, I misinterpreted then. She believes in the purity of ritual, while you prefer to experiment more fluidly?" You say, "You call him...antiquated. That seems a rather harsh thing, when it is those rituals that have brought us thus far. Though, I wonder how you have been raising the dead, then?" With a sigh, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "She would have me light candles and draw ritual circles anytime I want to get a wight to experiment on." Using his tongue and the roof of his mouth, Kalnid makes a quiet clicking noise. Edwin d'Vanecu exclaims to Kalnid, "Do you see? Do you see the futility? Such a foolish woman!" You say, "I have often traveled to Lord Seritul for his blessings. The nature of ritual is to focus your own power. Have you found a different focus, to fix such on?" Biomancer Kalnid says, "Do you know if the concern is strictly one of ritual, or ultimately one of devotion?" Thoughtfully, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Yes, well, I can see the problem then. Ritual certainly does have its place, but such things are hardly necessary constantly. Experimentation needs flexibility or we will never progress forward." Vatul's jaw clenches at Edwin d'Vanecu 's remark as she rises slowly. "You will address Lady Vittoria with the respect she is due. Ritual has its place, and a discussion can be made without undue displeasure, upon your own part, and mine," she states. With a sigh, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "I think... I think perhaps both. She couldn't make up her mind. We argued for months. Each fight with new problems and tactics and at the end we didn't really know who said what." Biomancer Kalnid says to you, "Deep breaths. Not the Duke's seat, here." With the hint of a smirk, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Well, if neither of you can remember the position you took, and you are now simply arguing for the sake of it, the solution is quite simple. Tell her you were wrong and apologize." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "I respect her! I would want nothing more to put it behind us." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "I... want to approach her again. I thought a gift would be good to have but I cannot decide what it should be." Pointedly, you say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "How have you been raising the dead without ritual focus?" Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Which is where we were at before I lost patience with him shooting down every idea." The ghost of a smile passes fleetingly across Kailanna's lips as she glances at Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue. Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Transfer of energy of course? The bare necessities suffice." Vatul waves a hand at Kalnid before resuming her seat, ankles crossing demurely. Biomancer Kalnid says to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue, "Did you consider his own corpse? I understand that's historically well-received." The beautiful yet mournful, stirring notes of a violin solo reach you, at first a molto crescendo to a subtle intensity before being joined by a second, and then a third, eventually fading from your hearing entirely. Wistfully, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "I did kill my wife as part of the Supreme Master's great ritual to empower the Bulwark. It was quite romantic." Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue exclaims, "My, how dark, I love it!" Edwin d'Vanecu scowls miserably at Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue. You say, "Is he not already a corpse? He is at the prime of death, for being so young a man." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Let's maybe try for something I can actually obtain for her?" Ruminating, you say, "My own husband would vomit trinkets and gems, and bestow them to me in necklaces. Though he was quite unusual for a trill, after all." Musing, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "The best gift should have some meaning. Ideally something relevant to the initial discussion. Something with both ritual and scientific significance?" Kalnid yawns, something small and black escaping. "I don't see what you dislike about the last idea, you already have all the materials. But if you insist." Edwin d'Vanecu opens his mouth as if to say something, but pauses. Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Ritual implements perhaps?" You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Something that is both a blend of science and ritual but, a ritual that is more of a necessity rather than elaborate." You nod your head at Kailanna. Exhaling loudly, in a whiny voice, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "But whaaaat?" Biomancer Kalnid says, "Oh- What's Madame d'Lardick's work been these days? I'm afraid we rather fell out of touch after the bit with the batforms finished up." Kailanna nods her head at Kalnid, showing her acceptance. You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Perhaps we should inquire as to her most recent research." Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "Perhaps something that she would find useful to her current work would be ideal." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Won't that be too pointed? And then I show up with just the thing?" Biomancer Kalnid says to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue, "I begin to see the source of your disruption." You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Pardon, Edwin. But have you been seeing something out of the ordinary of late? A flicker past your periphery, perhaps?" Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue makes a face at Kalnid and rolls her eyes comically. Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "You would have to go a bit more elaborate of course, show her some thought was put into it, not simply going down to the market and finding supplies. But you would want something of actual use more than something with solely symbolic value. She may look at your gift occasionally, and then forget about it quickly. However, if she is reminded of your gift every time she uses it..." You say, "Then she shall be reminded of you alone, as a positive point in her research protocols." You nod your head at Kailanna, showing your acceptance. Arching an eyebrow, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "A few flickers and dimming of eyeshift, but today's poison day so my body is still adjusting to the dosage." With a dismissive wave, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "You know how it is, assassins." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Something elaborate and personal you say..." Edwin d'Vanecu ponders the situation. Biomancer Kalnid murmurs, "Bodies are both of those things." The ghost of a smile passes fleetingly across Kailanna's lips. You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Immunity is necessary. But I have experienced something rather odd, and it wasn't merely because of the poison wine or lip stain I wear on occasion." You remark, "I almost had a visceral experience..." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "What about a new bow for her viola?" Using his tongue and the roof of his mouth, Kalnid makes a quiet clicking noise. Edwin d'Vanecu says, "She doesn't play much anymore, not since she begun her scholarly career." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "But she loves to." Biomancer Kalnid says, "My experience with musicians is that they place some significance on choosing their own tools." You remark, "I'm afraid so." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "A poem perhaps? One of those new collections, I saw something on snakes." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "She is an ecologist." With a slight wince, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Best avoid poetry unless you write it yourself. And even then, best to be absolutely certain it is good first." Biomancer Kalnid says, "Can you compose? Gifting another's poetry is... that, yes." You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "I do think it should be a gift that resounds and resolves the conflicting issue. Why are you so fearful of us perhaps inquiring as to her recent research?" Edwin d'Vanecu says, "A new research journal? Cover with High Magic symbolism?" Edwin d'Vanecu exclaims to you, "Because she will see right through that if I show up with the right thing soon after. I want to go to her as soon as possible. Now!" Biomancer Kalnid says, "See right through that to what, exactly? Your good intentions?" Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Now now, a scientist should understand patience is a virtue. Do it correctly before you do it quickly. None of us are dying of old age in Magnagora." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "It not being sincere, orchestraed for maximum effect. She threw that in my face once." You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Well, perhaps she would enjoy a new creature to study?" Edwin d'Vanecu says to Kailanna, "I may have... already invited her out for tea." Kalnid seems to suddenly have something caught in his throat. Vatul's lips faintly coil upwards, glancing over to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue. Her eyes widen slightly as if in solidarity. You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Well then, it must be from your heart. And not something orchestrated for maximum effect. Do you care for Lady Vittoria?" With a sigh, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Where can I get a new interesting creature on short notice?" You glance askance at Kalnid. Absently, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "Not to mention the last time we gave her a new and interesting creature, they murderously erupted from the bowels of the city to rampage across the Basin." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Of course, I do." Coughing subsiding, Biomancer Kalnid says, "Pardon, something-likely just a guest." Biomancer Kalnid says, "Have you considered making one?" Edwin d'Vanecu glances askance. Raising an eyebrow, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Kalnid, "A necromantically animated lab assistant perhaps?" Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Yes but I prefer my creations without sentience, she with." The Drums of the Dead begin to thump, their pounding and erratic beats raising a black mist that hangs eerily over the Glomdoring Forest. You say, "Perhaps with your new necromancy, prove to her that it may honour the Demon Lords in some fashion. Perhaps she is concerned for the safety of your soul as well." Mechanical clankings rumble from deep beneath the ground, as though some great clockwork engine lay beneath your feet. Biomancer Kalnid says to Kailanna, "That degree of intelligence is... difficult, particularly with short notice. I was thinking somewhat smaller." You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Has she ever had a childhood pet, or perhaps..." She looks about, pondering. "What about Percy?" Edwin d'Vanecu stands up from the chair and starts to pace nervously, "We are meant to be meeting soon, there isn't enough time for such things!" He stuffs his hands into the pockets of his trousers and kicks at the ground in exasperation, "Would that I have thought to buy something before I set up the meeting. It didn't even occur to me." Looking aghast, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "P-Percy? Give her Percy?" Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Well, if time draws short, we cut back to the main issue. If she feels you are insincere, it should be a gift that proves otherwise." Edwin d'Vanecu exhales and inhales quickly, his mind racing. He paces this way and that. "But Percy..." he starts but then smiles nervously, "Is just a bat of course." Using his tongue and the roof of his mouth, Kalnid makes a quiet clicking noise. Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Nothing really special about him." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Just sits there." You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "You said that she prefers that with sentience. Is there not more to a creature that just its existence alone?" Biomancer Kalnid says, "Giving away one's pet - do forgive me if I assume wrong - is not a fantastic look. Even done sincerely." Edwin d'Vanecu folds his arms at his chest, hands nervously fidgeting tucked by his elbows. "Mhm, mhm, mhm," he repeats himself, lips drawn in, head nodding, "Of course, sincere, sentient, just a bat." You say to Kalnid, "It is something that could be shared between two persons." She notes the uncertain shuffling of the young d'Vanecu. "He is -not- just a bat?" Vatul looks to Edwin d'Vanecu. Point blank, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "He is totally a bat." Kailanna gives a trillingly melodic laugh. Edwin d'Vanecu says, "So of course, why wouldn't I want to part with him." Kalnid's mouth twitches but remains closed. Nodding his head to himself, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Well, yes, then, I'm giving... theeee bat." Vatul chuckles softly. "I don't believe this," she remarks to herself. Edwin d'Vanecu says, "I am not attached to him or anything." Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Will you be hand delivering the blood samples from now on, or has that experiment reached its end?" You say to Edwin d'Vanecu, "That is quite a white lie. You've fed him fruit, and I've watched you." Offended, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Marla would have me over her knee if I didn't make sure he was fed." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Lady Snaikka has not been reviewing the samples in the while, she left them in my care." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "Okay then, the bat. Yes. And..." With a slight lift of her eyes, you say, "Of course, yes. That is why you appear so distraught." Biomancer Kalnid murmurs to you, "Failure is also among the Five's teachings. Painful lessons are better remembered." You say to Kailanna, "Unless you have a more understanding gift idea?" Vatul quietly nods to Kalnid. At the darkest hour, the silence is deafening as no Bell-Tower rings in the distance to celebrate midnight over Magnagora. The feeling of discomfort is tangible as you find yourself straining for something that should be there, but is suddenly and desperately missing. Edwin d'Vanecu he glances at the faces and hesitates a moment. "Would you go with me?" he finally asks fast, "Be at the teahouse at another table? She wouldn't know and you would be able to see how she reacts, maybe I'm reading her wrong." Edwin d'Vanecu says, "We'll sit far away." You have emoted: Vatul draws a fan from her sleeve, gently snapping it open as she nods to Edwin d'Vanecu. "Discretion. Of course," she says. You say to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue, "Shall you join our table as well?" With a faint smile, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "Well, why not. It has been a rather slow day, and I could use a bit of tea." Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Oh, I'm there, I wouldn't miss -this- for the world." Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "Shall we go get a table?" You nod solemnly. Edwin d'Vanecu nods nervously, his hands straightening out his clothes. Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "I suppose it would be the thing to do, yes." Kailanna gets up off a mahogany chair of golden orchids. Edwin d'Vanecu says, "I will... see you there. I have to go prepare." With a flourish of his arm, Edwin d'Vanecu bows deeply. Edwin d'Vanecu saunters away to the northeast. Biomancer Kalnid says, "Youth. What a distant thing." The ghost of a smile passes fleetingly across your lips. Chuckling, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Kalnid, "Oh yes, I hardly remember it. Perhaps that is why watching it is so much more entertaining." Biomancer Kalnid says, "Shall we find our table?" Kalnid gets up off a mahogany chair of golden orchids. Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Kalnid, "We shall indeed." [MOVEMENT to the teahouse] A tastefully appointed tearoom. The interior of this teahouse is sizable, intended to provide a comfortable and tasteful social environment. The floor has been constructed of boards, waxed and polished to a sheen, highlighting the natural grain of the wood. The lower half of the walls are panelled to match and above this, a dark fabric has been used in broad drapes over narrow shuttered windows, keeping the thick smog without from penetrating into the room. Small, screened alcoves are set against the far wall, each holding a low table surrounded by plush divans and scattered pillows. Over the arched doorway are miniature carvings, each one carved to represent the notable families of Magnagora. Gleaming with golden threads, a comfortable couch nested with black brocade pillows rests here. There are 4 twilight-hued wingback chairs here. A viscanti guard in formal uniform stands here, hands behind his back. Rakkan, the Crowned Jackal sits here, watching disdainfully. Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue poses here, tapping her folded fan against her lips as she murmurs demurely to herself. Biomancer Kalnid is here. He wields a chilling symbol of despair in his right hand. Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals stands here amid a teeming pool of viscid carmine blood. She wields the Choir of Anguish in her left hand and a disciplinarian's long-handled flaying whip in her right. You see exits leading down and out. Vatul quietly strides to the farthest table, and draws some silken screens about for the alcove. Glancing about, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "Well then, best to pick something out of the way, but with a good view. We would not want to miss the show." You say to Kailanna, "Shall this suit?" Easing himself into the alcove, Biomancer Kalnid says, "I suspect sound will suffice for much of it." Sitting in a smooth motion and leaning back against the seat, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "Oh, there may be some screeching and flying about as well." Kailanna sits herself down on a twilight-hued wingback chair and makes herself comfortable. Perching on a chair as she lights a candle on the table, you say, "We shall see." You sit yourself down on a twilight-hued wingback chair and make yourself comfortable. Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue settles down comfortably. "Oh this will be the perfect view. We have to look busy! Teas for the table!" she directs the last at the serving woman. A serving woman in a prim uniform appears bearing a latticework vermeil tray with a handful of teacups gleaming within, steam curling into the air as she passes. She sets the tray upon the table, curtseys and withdraws to the kitchens. You take an opulent teacup of sunset hues from a latticework vermeil tray. Grasping a cup from near the teapot, you say, "This is acceptable. Ah, and timely." Kalnid takes an opulent teacup of sunset hues from a latticework vermeil tray. Kailanna takes an opulent teacup of sunset hues from a latticework vermeil tray. An opened door sends billows of morning mist and the scent of fresh smog to drift upon the air. A short viscanti woman appears, a neutral look on her face. She looks around at the various patrons but does not make eye contact with anyone in particular, she seems to be looking for someone instead. [PROBE VITTORIA] Despite her diminutive figure and bland appearance, Vittoria d'Lardick is anything but forgettable. Pale eyes blaze with curiosity from a homely face with a hooked nose, their mint-green hue startling against a sepia-coloured skin. Chestnut hair, straight and thin, has been gathered into a messy bun on top of her head, the whole arrangement tight enough to support the pencil tucked behind her ear. Though her attire suggests a reserved personality - a black gown overlaid with dark blue tulle, long- sleeved and with a tight round collar - the viscanti is filled with a restless energy and her eyes frequently wander and lips twitch with the hint of a smile reserved for the mysteries of her own thoughts. Vittoria d'Lardick looks to be crushingly strong. Kailanna idly sips from her cup, not looking up as the door opens. Kalnid cups the clay between his hands, cloth rustling as it brushes against. The hands on a mottled bloodstone watch read about half past seven o'clock in the morning. Vittoria d'Lardick strides confidently towards one of the free tables on the other side of the room, a collection of books in hand. She settles herself in and gestures for tea to be brought. "Strong Pu'Earth Tea," drifts your way over the murmur as she talks to the serving woman who shakes her head and eplies something in return. They settle on the order and the serving woman leaves. Vatul pleasantly stares out to the window as the last of the dawn fades the nearby street lamps. Her tea steams, as she puts one sugar cube in her tea. Vittoria d'Lardick's mint green eyes are now scanning the patrons but she does not seem to be paying that much attention to what she sees, she looks nervous. Her fingers are drumming on the books just as her order arrives. You take a drink of black tea from an opulent teacup of sunset hues. Your blood surges as the black tea enters your system. Almost too long passes when the door opens again, the chill of the morn now faded and the smell of industry intensified. A young man enters with what appears to be a bat on his shoulder. He looks somewhat out of breath but quickly composes himself. The hands on a mottled bloodstone watch read about half past nine o'clock in the morning. Edwin d'Vanecu locates Vittoria quickly and makes her way towards her. He takes her hand, which she permits but remains sitting, and kisses it. Edwin d'Vanecu signals for the serving woman to approach but Vittoria gently pushes his arm down. He sits down and does not order. Vatul attempts to strike up a conversation with Kalnid concerning some 'underwater biome,' though the words are just as faint as the other din in the teahouse. Edwin d'Vanecu has eyes only for Vittoria, he does not glance towards your table, does not even try to locate it. The bat on his shoulder appears remarkably well-behaved and sits quietly. Kalnid murmurs something inaudible about blood algae and filtration concerns. Vittoria d'Lardick folds her arms at the table and leans forwards, eyebrows arched, eyes on Edwin. She says something, a quick matter of fact question. Kailanna sips black tea from an opulent teacup of sunset hues. Edwin d'Vanecu brightens up and sets his hands on the table. He appears to want to reach for her hands but thinks better of it. He answers slowly and calmly, bites his lip, and then continues earnestly. You see him more from the back so cannot quite see his face to read his lips even if you tried. The general roar of conversation from the other tables makes it impossible to hear what Vittoria replies but above the murmur something akin to "Well, have you actually..." and the rest is cut off but she looks interested and eager for his response. Edwin d'Vanecu nods his head eagerly and seems to be replying, his moves from the angle you see them are moving at least. The little bat squeaks at his shoulder and he gestures to him. "Percival," rings crystal clear over the general murmur. Vatul nods disparagingly, though her head tilts slightly out of the screen. As she does, she adjusts it. Edwin d'Vanecu urges the bat towards Vittoria and it does, flitting over from his shoulder to hers. You don't hear it but she laughs and rubs the bat's head. She then sobers up and asks another question. Edwin replies. It goes on for a while but somewhere in the conversation the tone seems to shift. He looks down onto his hands as he talks, rather than at her. You take a drink of black tea from an opulent teacup of sunset hues. Your blood surges as the black tea enters your system. Vittoria d'Lardick taps one of her books on the table while she makes a point. "I don't see the difference," floats over the crowd, then something more and finally, "Haven't changed" reaches you. Edwin d'Vanecu raises his hands defensively, he gestures while he explains quickly, head bowed. His whole body language reads supplication but what he is saying is clearly either not getting through or too little, too late. The beautiful yet mournful, stirring notes of a violin solo reach you, at first a molto crescendo to a subtle intensity before being joined by a second, and then a third, eventually fading from your hearing entirely. Vatul pauses her tea spoon mid-stir, adding another sugar cube. She refutes his points vaguely about filtration, though her focus is elsewhere. Kalnid sips black tea from an opulent teacup of sunset hues. Vittoria d'Lardick slams down her teacup, tea splattering in tiny droplets. "I do not care," reaches you louder now, "You don't choose when to apply it and when not to. The Demon Lords do. Later is too late, not after you are done. It should be -always-!" Vittoria d'Lardick gets up to leave, the bat still perched on her shoulder, forgotten in the middle of the argument. Edwin gets up to stop her, reaches out for her arm. When he arrests her, she pauses, anger seemingly spent. Edwin d'Vanecu looks at Vittoria earnestly. You don't hear it but as you can see his face now clearly the words are quite easy to read, "I still love you, Vittoria," he offers, each word said slowly so it sinks in. That seems to have been the wrong thing to say, as Vittoria d'Lardick's anger is a cold vehement fury now. She breaks out of his hold and retorts coldly, "You have no heart to love with, Edwin d'Vanecu." And she storms out of teahouse, bat in tow. Edwin d'Vanecu does not move, he looks crushed at first, then confused and disbelieving. He sits back down at the table, alone, and cups her teacup in his hands. Softly, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "Mm, well. It seems the initial disagreement was more important than the gift afterall. Though she did seem to appreciate the bat." A serving woman shows up from the kitchen and delivers the bill to Edwin's table. He doesn't look up, just nods aimlessly. You say, "Gifts only forgive so much. I believe she is indeed unwilling to move upon the subject, unless he changes his mind concerning the idea of genuine ritual." Biomancer Kalnid murmurs, "So much for not caring about the argument's meat, mm?" You say to Kalnid, "Master d'Vanecu has much to reflect on. He's heard our counsel concerning what could possibly be a way to combine ritual and science together, and perform Necromancy in a way that appeases her. Or...He may live with this mistake. It is his choice." Edwin d'Vanecu raises from the table. He turns to leave but then remembers something. He looks around at the patrons and notices your table behind one of the screens. He averts his gaze quickly, not even blushing just looking defeated. He rallies and adjusts his clothing before he approaches. Biomancer Kalnid says to you, "He'll live with it either way. Well, no, there's one alternative, but he doesn't seem quite the type to-Ah." Quietly, his voice shaking a little, Edwin d'Vanecu says, "I didn't... I didn't want to lie. I offered... concessions. Not enough." Gesturing to an empty chair, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "Have a seat, dear. A pity, it seemed to be going so well." Edwin d'Vanecu his eyes cannot meet any of yours, a forced half smile is on his face as he tries to keep it together. "Thank you, thank you for your help but I... I'm sorry but I would rather be alone for the moment. Could we speak another time?" Nodding plaintively, you say, "Of course. Contact us when applicable." To nobody in particular, Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "That was not as entertaining to watch as I thought it would be." With a faint smile, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Edwin d'Vanecu, "None of us are very difficult to find." With a flourish of his arm, Edwin d'Vanecu bows deeply. Kalnid offers his teacup, slightly stained, to Edwin d'Vanecu. Edwin d'Vanecu turns around and makes it for the door, leaving the teahouse loveless and batless. Giving a slight nod of agreement, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue, "Indeed, Lady. I rather prefer either success or a spectacular show of failure. This was rather morose." Kalnid shrugs and drains the cup himself. Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says, "I thought there would be more screaming and maybe embarassing secrets being aired. Like maybe he has three tails." Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue's eyes sparkle with amusement. Biomancer Kalnid says to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue, "Have you ever considered writing dramas?" Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "I rather expected the bat to explode into a swarm of corpseflies, actually. Or perhaps a pair of smaller bats." You say to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue, "It was rather unpleasant. Though I thought there was more to our dear Edwin's Percival than that." Biomancer Kalnid murmurs, "Batfurcation." Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue exclaims, "Oh no, I watch dramas here at the teahouse, unfolding before my very eyes. It is quite entertaining and requires no input and no effort!" Wincing and rubbing the bridge of her nose, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "That was quite painful, Biomancer. Thank you." Biomancer Kalnid says, "I aim to please." You say to Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue, "Wouldn't you be more comfortable in our salon?" Musing, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says, "A pity the girl is so mired in Biomancer Kalnid says to Kailanna, "Do at least hear her opinion from her own mouth before condemning it. I'm unsure how reliable of a source our friend was, given his state." - At the darkest hour, the silence is deafening as no Bell-Tower rings in the distance to celebrate midnight over Magnagora. The feeling of discomfort is tangible as you find yourself straining for something that should be there, but is suddenly and desperately missing. Lady Jamilah, the Iron Virtue says to you, "I definitely would be... long as I can still go out every so often and watch my favourite dramas and scandals here." With a slight nod of concession, Headmistress Kailanna n'Kylbar, Matriarch of Jackals says to Kalnid, "A fair point, yes."