[GOTHIC/ECHO] Scene 3: Rook's Introduction

edited October 2009 in In-Game
Vermillion was becoming impatient with Rook.

"I won't listen to this, I will not." Vermillion turns from the adept and raises his hood further against the shower that had sprung up.

"You're worse than your mother was. More persistent than this bloody rain that's plagued us the last weeks."

Maybe Rook had given up only for a brief respite, but for now she offered little resistance as Vermillion went on. She didn't generally talk as much in Barlowe Heath. It unsettled her the same way it did many others. It was likely why Vermillion had them meet here this time, over a league from the spires of Meridian. Unlike the old Watchers of her namesake, the birds out here had no voice and as little mind. Many of them had their eyes put out. Some said the Scourge did it for sport.

"It's been more than a year now. Just because the path you say Axelrod advised for you turned out badly for the mission does not mean he is penumbra. Bonesmen ambush our kind. You know this."

"He is among the our most trusted of our factors. If Gnosis were penumbra we would have all been shattered long before now. If anything, he'll probably be a Councilman before long." Vermillion looks about warily. He is sweating.

"Look at me, I'm so agitated with you I can scarcely guard our congress from possible listeners."

Vermillion pulls back his hood and runs his fingers through what remains of his hair. "He's so deep into our enemies' trust, most of the adepts at your level don't even know he's with us. You probably wouldn't even know if it were not for your mother."

Vermillion allows the ashened rain to fall on his face and draws close to Rook so she can see his serious aspect. "You need to return to your business at the manor and do the tasks we put before you until we feel we can trust you with more serious endeavors, not question your brother in the fight. Do I make myself plain? Be of use."


  • Rook struggles to keep her countenance as plain as a doll's, but her feelings are made clear by the set of her lips and her narrowed eyes. She clenches her fists tightly within the folds of her fuliginous cloak and attempts to master the tide of frustration that rises within. Vermillion is right, as always, in the calculating and political manner that her superiors always are, but her heart will not be satisfied with merely being "of use". She knows they do not have much time before her absence is noted, but she must try one last time to make sense of her current situation...

    "Of use? What use am I, so far from the City? The Council's orders are little better than a riddle - 'Be watchful', but for what? 'Give aid where it is needed,' but to whom? Why am I not in Smudgetown completing my map, or in Retreat reforging my Sigil?"

    Her voice catches as her thoughts stray to the real question which has haunted her this past year, a question she gives voice to now if the presence of a trusted friend...

    "Brother...is this punishment from the Council for the failure of our mission all those months ago, or does it come from She who judges my heart? What have I done wrong that I must lose so much? Even the Lesser Mysteries are elusive to me now..."

    Rook looks down, unable to meet her compatriot's gaze, awaiting explanation...or judgement.
  • edited November 2009
    At Rook's distress and at her change from the awkward subject of Gnosis, Vermillion's face softens a bit.

    "Little bird... you are not being punished, not by the Council nor by me. Your work now is less dangerous, certainly. That part is mostly my decision. But your work is still important to our cause."

    Vermillion ambles over beneath a nearby grave willow and motions to Rook to join him a bit out of the wind and wet.

    "Why you do not feel Her wings enfolding you I cannot answer. That is a Mystery hidden from me as well. But I will tell you this: I believe it is you who judges your heart most sternly. Your gifts will return in time, and I hold it is your own inquest that diminishes them. Her Ways are open to you if you will only look."
  • Rook nods contritely and whispers softly in the Old Tongue, "Goddess willing, let it be so", her words falling into the old call-and-response mode of speech practiced in the cloister where she grew up. She sighs despite herself, lead briefly through the halls of memory by the measured beat of Vermillion's voice. In this age when so many of her brothers and sisters have flown to their final rest, Vermillion is her only touchstone to her old life.

    "You are ever the Keeper of Mysteries," she says, looking up with a mischevious smile, "dispensing wisdom to those in need of it, whether they wish to heed it or not."
  • Vermillion stifles a smile. "I remember before you were even a wing you stole the sacramental water to try to heal one of the carrier chicks that had fallen sick with ash. All the curates were furious, but your mother convinced most of us that it was a worthy experiment and that your intent outweighed the application and so forestalled any punishment."

    The curate moves back further against the willow. "I know you'll heed me in the important things, Rook. And that when you don't at least your heart will be in the right…"

    Vermillion shakes his head as though he too is thinking of those who've gone to their rest.

    "But surely things at the manor aren't all as bad as that? The Lady treats you well, you've said, and you're earning her trust? Some of our severest foes are courting her. When she finally assents to marry one of them it must be you who she takes with her to the new household. You must make that certain."

    Vermillion folds his hands before him. "You've access to books and a willing pupil in her nephew? Why must you be so earnest to map the alleys of Smudgetown, and the night alleys at that?"
  • "The Lady is not a harsh mistress by any means, though I must say she is as fickle and changeable as our enemy sometimes. Every day a different suitor, each lavishing her with gifts more extravagant than the last. She toys with their affections and discards them just as readily. I dare say, though, that her revels will be ended soon. She is already well past the accepted period of mourning, and some of the suitors do not drop their pursuit so readily. Lord Insiadis, for one, has become a regular caller."

    Rook frowns, "While I confess to have little pity for a woman who courts such dangerous company, I would not wish a marriage to Insiadis on anyone."

    "As for Smudgetown, surely you have heard the rumors? Even this far from the city whispers reach me through coachmen and attendants - children in Smudgetown are being Taken. The old entries to Shadow there have shifted since the fire, and new roads and ways are being built even as we speak. Some dark design is playing out there, and I fear that if we do not make sense of the situation there now, it will be too late."

    Rook looks away from her old teacher, casting her gaze across the heath to where she knows - beyond the mist - lie the walls of Meridian.

    "Master, as you say I will follow the will of my betters in the important things for now, but when next I am within the walls of the City I fear I must follow my heart. What use is our cause if we cannot protect the innocent from danger?"
  • edited October 2009
    "I have heard. Yes, it is both sickening and worrisome. And for more than the natural reasons. We will put someone to the task if we are able."

    Vermillion sees the look on Rook's face and and sighs a little. "You're aware, no doubt of the holiday tomorrow. The Lady would doubtless grant you leave to go to the city were you to ask."

    He begins to fish for something.

    "Do not ask. You should be available to her every need to ensure yourself in her affections. And if you do ask, do not go to Smudgetown. It is too dangerous."

    Vermillion produces a small leather booklet and a rune stylus, protecting both from the weather.

    "However. If you do ask and you do go to tide, and you do then go to Smudgetown," he mumbles, "do not go alone."

    Finished scribing, he rips a page from the booklet. An intricate symbol glowing faintly, half-map, half-name and half-compass appears on the scrap as he presses it into Rook's anxious hand.

    "Here is one who knows Smudgetown and its dangers as well as any, and this would allow you to find him were you to set aside my cautions."
  • Rook takes the paper from the curate with barely restrained excitement and conceals it within her cloak, protecting it from the rain. Later, away from prying eyes she will transfer the sigil to her own Map of the city, where it will scrawl and scribe it's own way across the page until - Goddess willing - the named is found and the sigil fades. In the meantime...

    "I will not disappoint you, teacher. The Council's purpose will be fulfilled," says Rook, though she does not expand further on just how it will be fulfilled.

    Across the heath, a bell begins to toll. Guests are arriving at the Manor, and all servants must be in attendance. She clasps the curate's hand in a rare moment of familiarity.

    "I must go...may She protect you and enfold her in her wings, until the day we all fly."
  • Vermillion looks down at their joined hands. Is that rain on his face?

    He turns away from her, suddenly absorbed by some detail in the bark of the willow.

    "Until the day we all fly. Be safe, little bird."
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