As the time passed and the city began to recover, a motley crew of individuals found themselves--almost
inexplicably--drawn together. Crow was one such individual and perhaps more than any other, he had paid attention to each new member and exactly how they were brought into the group. With each he noted some unifying aspect. These were all humans like Yvette. Humans a step beyond.
The slightest of smiles played across his lips.’How very peculiar,’
he thought, but he mentioned nothing to his new companions. Instead, he merely suggested they find a better place to talk, perhaps somewhere more private. Gently, giving Yvette some cues here and there, he guided them to a particular location near the center of the city. Though it was with the convenience of magic that they traversed the distance, rather than by vehicle or foot.
Stepping onto the sidewalk and rounding a corner they’d come upon an unassuming building. However, at the door, Crow provided identification for himself--vouching for those with him--before the door was opened and they were admitted inside.
Just past the entry was a lobby and while there was a receptionist, he waved them off and led them deeper into the building. Eventually after a few turns and the opening of a door, they would enter a rather large and ornate room. It was decorated with the finest upholstery and furniture, though it was mostly sensible and modern. There were plenty of places to sit and rather oddly, a fireplace that was already on. There was a mini-bar in one corner that appeared to be stocked with all manner of drinks, not all of them alcoholic.“Sit anywhere reasonable,”
he said casually, “...and feel free to drink. Just ask if it’s from the top shelf. Those are...special.”
That said he found his second favorite spot and sat down in the soft seat, lounging back into it, hands folded neatly in his lap.In Nabri's mind, using one's feet or a vehicle to travel was utterly barbaric. A primitive analogue of movement for a primitive people - and he was certainly of the opinion that all of the individuals in the little liaison they had cobbled together were better than that. Crow's navigation through the Maze of Shadows was superb--he expected no less--but upon arrival the fact that there was no obnoxious poofing noise startled him noticeably. It took him mere seconds to rectify this by teleporting himself a few feet to the side and creating an extra loud poof.
Unintentionally, it sounded vaguely similar to an explosion, and he took a second to consider it before remembering Solhavre and apologising profusely to everyone in the area with the beginnings of a smirk upon his face.
As Crow showed his ID to the doorman, vouching for the other members of their impromptu gathering, Nabri in particular took a second to flip through his mental catalogue of IDs and summoned one labeled "The Archytas Club", showing that to the doorman who nodded in recognition of his membership within the exclusive club. Indeed, a club could not truly be considered exclusive unless Nabriales was a part of it. Nabri actually visited very few of the illustrious establishments that he was a member of, but this club in particular was one he had sent various go-betweens and messengers to in his somewhat extended dealings with Crow in the past. Indeed, information had made Crow strong in the past century or two that he'd been active within Ominar; Nabri had kept an eye on his network of influence out of curiosity, and even for one as experienced as him in matters of subtlety and espionage the extent of his presence in Ominar was hard to read.
With a wave of his hand, he summoned his favourite chair and a bottle of expensive champagne--along with substantially more expensive vis crystal champagne flutes--appeared on the table (sans vaguely offensive poofing noise) they had gathered around, filled to an appropriate level.
"No offence, hon, but I don't think the quality of beverage here is quite up to my standards."
Taking a sip from the flute in his hand, Nabriales elected to begin the conversation:
"I suppose the question on everyone's lips is simple, hmm? Who--or what--made that explosion? I have never seen vis of that magnitude and concentration, and I have certainly never seen a being capable of such a feat."
As the group arrived at the club, Yvette’s eyes trailed over each individual. Especially her mother. As they walked into the building, she nodded to the bouncer, and receptionist both. She had met both of them the first time she’d been there 3 and a half years ago. She said nothing as they were taken to an all too familiar room. Once they were inside, and Crow sat down, she found a perch herself across the table from him, her legs crossed one over the other. She needn’t be barraged with yet more questions about what she and Crow were doing together.
As Nabri spoke, Yvette reached for a small glass of what appeared to be raspberry moscato, and took a delicate sip. “Likewise.” Her voice was curt, but gentle even as she took another sip of her drink. Once more, her sienna eyes trailed across the faces of each individual in the room, her pale white locks shifting slightly with imperceptible movements that she made. “Crow,”
She addressed her compatriot, setting her glass on a coaster on the table. “Could this have been caused by a Licentia? Or do you think it might’ve been something else?”
Waiting for his response, she glanced at her mother, meeting her eyes calmly. “What about you, Mother? Have you seen anything like this before?”
Fandaniel's entrance to the club was largely lackluster. She moved stiffly, clearly out of her social depth, and stuck closely to Yvette. As Nabriales created that obnoxious
poofing noise she audibly heaved out a sound so laced with disapproval it could only be described as a disgusted noise.
She resisted the urge to punch him squarely in the jaw and simply walked past him into the club, paying absolutely no heed to the doorman. He gave her that stern look that any doorman gives a perceived undesirable
and she returned a withering glare that invited him to try and stop her from entering. Seeing sense (and the full plate armour that she wore), he did not press the issue and simply allowed her passage under Crow's orders.
As she joined everyone in the room, she took a seat and dragged it closer to Yvette than either of them felt comfortable with, and fixed her with her best motherly stare for a few seconds before taking a glass of champagne and necking it, then taking Yvette's glass of champagne and holding it awkwardly. As Nabriales described the explosion, her expression softened and sombered--thinking about Solhavre--before returning to its usual stony and dour state. At Yvette's behest, she spoke up:
"Never. It broke my antimagic shield--something no spell I have ever encountered has done." She added, having very little else to say on the matter and motioning for the next individual to speak up.
A brief, palpable moment of silence passed. Conspicuously absent was the tiny slip of a girl, nary a hair nor hide of her fuzzy little head to be seen.
Naomi was--on this rare occasion--late.
When silence took control over the room, attention was passed not to the next person, but the burblings behind the door. ”What? No. I can’t just… Hand them off. They’re attached to my ostium. If I drop them, they’re going to hit the ground like a ton of bricks. No--what? Identification? Do I look like I have the pockets to carry around stuff I didn’t know I’d need? Move your butt.”
An obnoxiously loud CLICK-CLUNK
followed as the door’s simple tumbler lock busted open under the measured torque of a single gauntlet.”Hey, you can’t do that--””I don’t know how to tell you this, but I already did.”
The door swung open, revealing a disconcerted bouncer and a tiny fox-featured girl in the gateway. ”I’m with them. Sorry about the lock! Someone will fix it, eventually, and it’ll have exactly nothing to do with me.”
Nao stated matter-of-factly, brushing past the guard and closing the now-broken door behind her. It chose not to remain closed. Now unable to properly shut, it creaked slowly back open, leaving the same guard staring helplessly at the whirlwind of activity that had just transpired. Naomi, thankfully, was nothing without her cleverness. Pulling a book from a nearby shelf, she quickly placed the almanac in the arc of the door’s swing, like a makeshift doorstop.”So I have good news, great news, terrible news, and bad news.
“Good news is that my bird is fed. Great news is that I now know that I can break locks with a good old-fashioned twist.
Terrible news is that I have zero idea what the hell that explosion was, and neither do the Chayi.”
Naomi held up her white, leather-bound journal, fraught with notes and dog-ears. ”A couple thousand years of written research on runes has shown diddly.”
She placed the book upon a coffee table near the center of the circle, seating herself nearby.”...And the bad news is that I’m internet famous. I… Might have waltzed through a licentia protest on my way home. And… I have spent the past hour deleting my social media presence. The number of throwaway email addresses I have at this point is unbelievably fucked. Also, I broke their door, so someone might have to cough up for that.”
Naomi reclined in her seat, Aldous and George taking up sentry upon either side of her, as they always did.
Reaching into one of her dress pockets--it was a thing that could hardly be called a coat--she produced her smartphone, quickly tapping away as she quickly found the evidence that she’d accrued.”Has someone already thrown out the “licentia” card? Because if so, I’m deeply unimpressed. I’ve been talking to a lot of licenti, and watching the ‘net for posts. The sentiments about the… What are we calling this? Bombing?”
Naomi’s gaze flitted back up to meet the group, now making unimpeded eye contact. ”Point is, licentia on a broad scale aren’t pissed at the prae because they support the bombing. They’re pissed because the prae seem to be blaming them wholesale. Have any of you seen the hashtag that’s trending? Because, hoo, boy, you would be impressed. Hashtag-Sol-Hav-Prae. Great pun. Awful rhetoric.”
Nao waggled her phone to punctuate her point, offering a knowing look to the group as a whole.”So that being said, the coastline’s doing better already but things are still completely tits-up. How is everyone else doing today? Because I could use a drink or five. We’re dealing with vis usage on a pretty unimaginable scale, here. I can only hope that this was a small group of people that caused this, because any one person with this kind of power would be…
Well, they’d be on a kill list for at least one reason. This is bad fucking news we’re talking about.”
Naomi’s sober tone underlined the gravity of the situation, her countenance surprisingly grim for its innocent shape.
She took a deep breath as her phone sunk back into her pocket. ”Tell me someone here knows something that I don’t.”
Listening closely as the others spoke up, Casaeri found his thoughts dragged inexplicably to his time in Torqueo. He recalled beings of inconsiderable power. Particularly a licenti lord who he had not seen for a very...very long time. He intended not to for awhile yet. He wished those gathered had more to offer, though even the smallest tidbits of information could assist him in puzzling through the conundrum that the catastrophic blast had left in its wake.
Mind drifting faintly, he found his perception latching onto what he could only describe as a mildly amusing scuffle back at the entrance to the building. At hearing the late arrival of another guest--and her brief struggle with security--he couldn’t help but allow the smallest of smiles tug at the edges of his lips. It was times like these that he was glad that he was what he was...rather than truly being the human that his visage implied. Glancing towards the door from the corner of his eye as Nao entered the room, he took note of the two giant constructs that floated alongside her.’Intriguing.’
His gaze turning away, he listened, waiting for her to finish before adding anything further. Absently he channeled a measure of his vis through the unseen and oft undetected maze of shadows. On the other end of the maze, far across the city, another Casaeri formed and went about contacting a vast number of contacts. It was time to do some digging.
Attention shifting back to his primary form, Crow briefly turned his attention to Yvette, “Could one have done this? Certainly. Is it plausible? Hardly. Besides, the vis is all wrong,”
he shook his head and took up one of Nabri’s crystal glasses, holding it up to the light to observe.“If that weren’t enough, the likelihood of a licentia sufficiently powerful to create such a destructive blast being in Medius without us knowing is...well, let’s just call it incredibly low.”
He cast his eyes over those assembled and, with a mildly apologetic smile, continued. “Most of those licentia who could do this, simply would not. They would have to be monumentally old to have accrued such vast power and most of such licentia are...less than fond of humans, not to mention sparse in their numbers. That or they’d be apathetic to your kind, let alone the prae. Human or prae politicking is simply not the concern of many of our kind--at least among those who do not dwell among you that is.”
He shook his head and lowered the glass, standing to walk over to the minibar. Without looking back at them he began fetching a few bottles, two of which had been halfway drained already.“Yvette, would you care for a drink?”
He paused then set down one of the bottles and turned to look at Nao, “Ah and what strikes your fancy, madam?”
There was a casualness to his voice that lent itself to flirtation, but it would be clear that he was merely being a gentleman.
Yvette watched her mother as she pulled her chair uncomfortably close, and very blatantly put a reasonable amount of space between them by pushing her own seat with her vis. As her mother spoke, she listened intently, only slightly surprised that the explosion had broken through her anti-magic shield. After several moments of silence, the woman leaned back in her chair, her eyes closed in thought.
It was then that a commotion began outside, and she glanced towards the door just as it was being slammed open. She watched silently as another of her cousins entered the room and took a seat. As Naomi spoke about the things she’d seen throughout the day a small lizard-like licentia appeared on Yvette’s shoulder, chirping happily. Absently, she stroked the creature’s fur, and it made its way down her arm into her lap where it then curled up.
When Crow began to speak, Yvette glanced at him, taking in his words calmly. He rebuffed her thought, but it occurred to her that his reasoning didn’t quite make sense. “How do you know that it’s different? We all felt it, there was no feasible way to tell what, or who that vis originated from.”
As she spoke, her fingers trailed gently along the scales of the licentia in her lap, bringing her mind to the thought of Torqueo. At the thought, she smiled faintly, her mind drifting to an imperceptibly strong licentia that she had met years before Crow.
As Crow rose from his seat, Yvette glanced up at him again, her eyes following him as he offered her a drink. “Something sweet, if you wouldn’t mind.”
Her voice was soft as she responded, the effects of the memory leaving her sounding more warm than she usually did.
Sophia was quietly sitting in the corner of the room, having not spoken for the entirety of the meeting thus far, her bright blue eyes simply roving over the group as they spoke.“Of course,”
Crow said with a faint smile, turning his attention away from them. However, before he managed a response to her query, Nabriales spoke up."Resources are being dedicated to understanding what happened. I am conducting my own research when possible, and a close friend of mine is conducting his own far more thorough research! The thing that's bothering me is that your explanations for why a Licentia is likely not responsible make complete sense - I can't imagine any reason why a Licentia capable of such destruction wouldn't just come here and take the fight directly to its source if they were so inclined? Any Licentia powerful enough to do this would not come to Medius at all if they could help it, and they would want to end their business here equally as quickly... So it wasn't a Licentia! If not, what was it? What other beings could feasibly perform such a fear?" Nabriales interjected, seemingly fatigued by the notion of figuring out what was going on.
Nothing particularly made sense about the event at all - and when he thought about it, that was exceedingly strange. Surely Aismael and her cohorts should have said something about it by now? She was not the type of individual to allow the God-Queen's authority (and by extension her authority) to be challenged - and yet there was nothing from the Spire but a bitter chill in the air. If he didn't know better, Nabriales half expected her to know something about what was going on and the reason that she hadn't revealed it thus far was something particularly damning. Of course, this was all wild conjecture, but it would be a particularly good time to begin investigating the prae. He made a mental note to gather the most influential members of the Resistance and begin planning their operations in earnest.
"If none of us know anything, all that remains is for us is to... find out, I guess! Unfortunately, there's not a lot of finding out that I can do here, so I'll be joining my colleague in the lab. Let's get drinks later, though!" Nabri smiled, before obnoxiously poofing himself out of the room (along with his crystal flutes) and getting himself ready to go to the lab. He couldn't remember whether or not today was a come-to-the-lab-dressed-as-a-dragon day, so he decided to bring a shapeshifting potion with him to be prepared. Preparation was key.
Nodding his head to Nabri before he departed, Casaeri headed back to his chair, delivering the requested drinks on his way. Sitting down once more he took a sip from his own glass before setting it down and folding his hands across his lap. “Well, Yvette, I had not entirely intended to speak of it, but I managed to acquire... mmm samples of the vis from ground zero,”
he shrugged and met her eyes, his gaze speaking of things to explain in greater detail later before he cast his gaze elsewhere.
Through his mind rushed possibilities and consequences. How would this affect business? At the thought one corner of his lips turned down almost imperceptibly. Yvette would likely be the only one to notice. Perhaps he ought to turn his mind to helping those he could...and discovering who knew what regarding the incident.“Unless anyone has anything further to add, I do believe that the lot of us have things we could be doing to further our own ends and perhaps discover the reason behind what, for all intents, appears to be an unprovoked attack. Anyone?”
He drank again, his eyes glancing between those present as he did so.
Yvette silently acknowledged Crow’s glance, and then set to drinking from the glass that he had set in front of her. It was clear she didn’t have anything else to add.”I have two things to say, actually. First:”
Without even finishing her statement, Naomi rose to her feet, walking straight over to the minibar--Crow’s prior offer was met with a raised finger in his direction, as if halting his reaction for a moment. ”I would never ask anyone to make what I’m about to make for me. I want all of you to judge me as I do this, because it is incredibly important.”
The drink began innocently enough. Peach schnapps. Really, really
cheap peach schnapps.
This would become the running theme of the hellish concoction that began to take place inside the mug. Three parts peach schnapps, certainly. One part vodka--an okay choice, perhaps not the best.
Then, she moved to the fridge, pulling out an orange soda. She made eventual eye contact with every single person in the room as she poured two parts of the syrupy-sweet fizzy drink into her hellcup, as if daring them to respond.
Naomi immediately took a swig, pinkie customarily extended. ”Second,”
she continued, completely unphased by the high fructose catastrophe that she’d just imbibed,”I think it’s a fair bit more important to start spreading information as soon as possible. You say pretty resolutely that the vis is ‘all off,’ comma, ‘man,’ as in ‘the man’ because this ‘that sounded super hippie’ joke is getting way too far away from me and hshit did I put too much vodka in this?”
Naomi looked at the bottle she’d just blind-poured into the cup.
She cracked a wry grin as her ears lay a little flatter with each passing moment. ”Heeeee. That was a mistake. Okay, so uh… Yeah. You’re sure that the vis was off, right? Well, sensational media ain’tn’t going to be following your tale, mate. Inquiring minds gotta know, right? So here’s the thing we’re going to need to do. Hey, Tall, Dark, and Poofy, you have unnecessary amounts of funds and an accountant with some personal problems, right? How much would it take to get some vis professionals on the air, already voir-dire-and-fine to go, making some points that paint licentia a little prettier?”
Naomi’s hand gestures grew wider and wider as the sentence sprinted further and further away from her, to the point that--finally--Aldous smacked a stool clean into the wall. ”Hhhhfuck. I’ll clean that up. No--nope! He’ll clean that up. He looks like he wants to clean that up!”
She looked to the bouncer, who was shaking his head more and more furiously as her finger directed itself towards him.”Oh yeah speaking of, I have a third thing, uh…”
Naomi downed the rest of the glass, like a true adult-to-be trying to seem like an adult while having never once heard the words “alcohol” and “restraint” in the same statement.”Who’s taking me home?”