Fable - Ask Forgotten Treasures

Vyx'aria

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It was the dead of night when Vyx chose to make her way towards the city of Elbion. Like with Vel Anir, she was operating alone, doing this to satisfy her own curiosities more than anything. A group of soldiers would attract attention, but one drow wandering around would go largely unnoticed.

Mages from all over Arethil came to Elbion, and she knew that at most others would raise an eyebrow at a drow within the city. Though there was inherent distrust towards drow, they hadn’t done anything overtly problematic for many generations. Most humans nowadays hadn’t even seen a drow and wouldn’t know the bloody past the elves had.

Vyx had hopped onto a trading cart, paying the driver a few coins to ride into the city. He asked many questions about her kind, most of which she ignored. The fact that men spoke out of turn on the surface was still something she was adjusting to.

It was well past midnight when the drow general decided to venture out towards her destination. The college was well guarded, but she was here for a very specific item. It was a weapon that had been forged by the elves at Fal’Addas and used to banish the drow into the Underrealm. Legend said that it was housed at the college and Vyx sought to reclaim it for her people.

Nimble on her feet, she quickly made her way towards the back walls that guarded the college. There was an entrance there guarded by a man that was having a hard time staying awake. Vyx kept a respectable distance for now, staying within the shadows as she thought of the best way to remove him.
 

Istra Lejeune

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Elbion College
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"Professor Lejeune," said the Maester.

"Yes?"

"Do you know where Professor Montefort is? He's late."

Istra shook her head. "Right now? No. I may only assume that he is at home. He left early from our enchanting session, complaining of feeling ill."

The Maester made a quizzical face. "Why would he not simply see someone from the Restorative disciplines?"

Before Istra could answer, another Professor behind her called out, "Because he hates my fucking guts."

A few chuckles and outright laughs from around the room. Istra was not one of them. The Maester raised his hand in a bid for quiet and sighed and said, "Very well. We shall have to conduct the Test without him."

Someone else behind her, mumbling in a mirthful way, "Well that's convenient for Monty, isn't it."

Istra volunteered her hand and stated, "I will assume Professor Montefort's responsibilities."

"Excellent," said the Maester, "thank you, Professor Lejeune. Now then, Professors, you have your assignments. Let us conduct the Test swiftly and reconvene back here as soon as possible. I'm sure you would all rather not to have a stay of your good night's rest."

* * * * *​

The Warding and Enchantments Test. Or simply, "the Test."

Istra enjoyed her supper at the Lejeune Estate and spoke briefly with her mother and then returned to the College after sundown for it. As did the other Professors involved in the detail. The lateness of the hour ensured a minimum of activity around the College campus--this preferred for a variety of reasons.

Naturally, Istra assented to participate in the Test whenever she was asked. It served her well to know the intricacies of the College's various defenses, to be instructed in their proper function and maintenance--all the better to subvert them if and when a time for it so arose. The Test provided the perfect cover for this: probing about the College would duly arouse suspicions otherwise. Not only that, but it was one of the explicit purposes of the Test to recharge and--fittingly--test the wards and enchantments in new and creative ways. Seeing how they could be broken, surreptitiously, for example. She could leave these weaknesses and vulnerabilities in place, or alter them slightly to suit her needs. Yes, the perfect cover.

Professor Montefort's illness was an actual unplanned opportunity. Rare, those, and worth capitalizing upon. This promised to be a fruitful night, inspecting two whole sections of the College and their magical defenses, cataloguing them for potential Speculatore exploitation.

And Professor Montefort's section was that of the rear College walls. The rear courtyard she crossed in mostly the dark, appearing and disappearing in little islands of light from the magical sources mounted on poles. Her eyes did not need them, these magic lamps.

Istra approached the rear wall, nodding to a passing guardsman who was heading toward the back entrance to rouse or perhaps playfully scare his half-asleep comrade.

She touched the stone of the wall and began her work as instructed. The subterfuge would come in due time.

Vyx'aria
 

Ipatiy Kozlov

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Being a grounds keeper of sorts wasn't exactly the ideal job she wanted but it allowed easy access to the college and more importantly the outsides. In addition no one would really question why she would be using a ladder or other gardening tools that had a wide range of 'other' uses.

Besides that a many containers offered the ideal place to hold certain more specialized tools for breaking an entering. Whats more today would be a prime time to do some spying, a little eves dropping alerting Ipatiy to a certain test. The full details were still unknown but if gut instinct was anything to go by such an opportunity couldn't be passed up.

Donned in her usual attire the maid wandered through the courtyard, grasping her tools from today's earlier tasks. Herself soon passing a guard she assumed to be heading towards the entrance, easily catching his attention. "Ah Miss Kozlov, finishing up work? sure staying back late, everyone else has already gone home". He replied in a slightly amused voice.

"Well, if I stay at the college past a certain hour the administration has to pay me over time, I'd never miss out on a chance to earn a little bit more for only an hour or so". "Besides some of the other staff here do quite a lack luster job when it comes to keeping things tidy, can't have them ruining my reputation".

"Well don't stay too late, anyways, I best get to my own job". With a quick wave the guard left her behind, Ipatiy quickly looking around before ducking back into one of the nearby bushes. Her plan? wait for one of the professors to conduct this 'test' and see what it was about. Hopefully it wasn't something involving a lot of magic, she wasn't particularly skilled in that area.

Luck would appear to be on her side today as but a minute later a women who appeared to be a professor passed. Said women quickly going about some sort of action against the wall, Ipatiy's sapphire gaze lingering on the women's hand, trying to discern what they were doing.

Vyx'aria
Istra Lejeune
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx was drawing out a dagger to make short work of the guard when she heard others approaching. With a curse, she ducked back out of sight as a woman in a maid outfit (of course to Vyx the clothing looked like an odd costume) came around. Her body language immediately made her appear suspicious and out of place.

Before she could do anything, another woman walked over and began to inspect the walls. Vyx eyed the mage curiously, but she had another matter to attend to first. The elf moved like a shadow, making her way towards the bushes behind which the maid hid.

A swift dagger came to rest near the woman’s neck, Vyx’s crimson eyes glowing eerily in the dark, “What’re you doing?” She asked with a whisper. It was clear the elf had no intention to actually kill, but would strike out in self defense if needed. Depending on the maid’s answer, perhaps they were here for the same thing.

Istra Lejeune Ipatiy Kozlov
 

Ipatiy Kozlov

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"... well crap, this is quite unexpected". Raising her hands to show they were empty she stood still, eyes glancing to the side a little but alas the maid was unable to catch a glimpse of who was behind.

For someone to sneak up on her, they certainly had a good amount of skill, to an extent Iptay was impressed even if she was not slightly pissed off at the women with a knife against her neck. Still, even in this situation the maid didn't really react at all, just rolling her eyes and giving an exasperated sigh.

"I could ask you the same thing, I know for a fact you are not a guard here, you don't seem to be an assassin either, a thief perhaps"? As she was being 'interrogated' her eyes didn't leave the professor toying around with the wall. Hopefully she could obtain some useful information and with time her assailant would depart without leaving anything life threatening injuries.

Istra Lejeune
Vyx'aria
 
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Istra Lejeune

Speculatore
Elbion College
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Small bits of lightning jumped from one finger to another on the hand that touched the stone wall. And she could both sense and see the enchantment in the stones working accordingly, warding off a significant portion the impact (however meager it originally was) of her magic.

Not that these defenses had done much good against Maho Sparhawk when he attacked and destroyed a considerable percentage of the main College building. Concerning, that. From the Empire out in the west, he was supposed to be. From the lands her parents and their parents before them hailed. Perhaps it went back further than that--not that she would know.

The Order of Speculatores had been preparing for a while to engage in operations within the Empire, such as they were being neighbors with Elbion and the territories within its grasp. The situation was...tenuous, at best. As much as she would rather continue her work within the College for the Merchant Council, Istra thought increasingly so that the brewing threat of the Empire warranted her service more--especially if the Maho incident was in fact sponsored either tacitly or expressly by their so-called "God-Emperor."

She thought of this as she began to try a few different kinds of Alteration magic on the stone wall. Attempting to soften or heat up or liquefy the stone.

She did not yet notice that there was somewhere off to her side two individuals caught in a quiet conflict behind the cover of the manicured bushes.

Vyx'aria Ipatiy Kozlov
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx had to admire the woman’s ability to stay calm in such a situation. And because she was a woman, the drow had even more patience for those of her kind. She flipped the dagger back over in her palm so the blade no longer pressed against the maid.

“What if I am a thief?” Her gaze left the maid and moved over to rest on the mage. Vyx watched with curiosity as she attempted a few things, her own patience growing thin. The drow glanced around and didn’t spot any other ways in. She had briefly considered trying to scale the building, but she doubted she would get far.

“Does she know what she’s doing?” She couldn’t help but ask aloud. If the maid was suspiciously hiding in the bushes, chances were that she was up to no good as well. If the maid got in her way, Vyx would make short work of silencing her. For now, however, there could be benefits to outnumbering a college mage.

Ipatiy Kozlov Istra Lejeune
 

Ipatiy Kozlov

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The women behind her was quick to the point, she had to give her credit there, then again this was the first time she had been held hostage in such a manner. "Well, my job is to just clean, they don'y pay me to deal with intruders". Not that she was incapable of doing such more that Ipatiy had opted to keep her skills and experience in that area secret from the college administration

"If you want answers about miss professor there don't ask me, I just tidy things up most of the time, though it has got me wondering too". It was supposedly and official test from what she had overheard but something felt... off about the mages action. She couldn't quite put a finger on it but it just seemed to be taking a little longer then expected, almost as if the test was but a ploy... but for what?

Vyx'aria Istra Lejeune
 
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Istra Lejeune

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Elbion College
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Istra waited for the patrol of a guard to pass. Made pointless busywork that perhaps might have looked impressive to mostly mundane man by performing the same small-scale lightning spell, albeit in different ways. Each time the stone wall and its enchantment responded properly.

She waited for the guard crossing by behind her to be well and truly on his route and then gone. Tried some more of her Alteration magic on the wall. Hm. Promising, when she Altered the stone for it to gain a rigid crystalline structure--the protective enchantment did not seem to translate well to this new internal arrangement of the stone. Of this she made a mental note as her spell faded and the stone morphed back to its regular form.

That section of the wall done, Istra turned and started to walk through the rear courtyard and moved toward the next section of wall to test. Thought as she did back to supper and her talk with her mother. How she was yet again urging her to at least consider seeing Lord Stannis Mejeure; yet again trying to coax her to spend time with a man whom Istra knew for a fact to be utterly daft, little more than a "yes-man" to his father. She found that blind allegiance Stannis held for his father to be supremely contemptuous--like a form of submission. In Stannis she saw a version of herself with regard to her own father, a version that she had through a spark of defiance narrowly avoided. She could see that version of herself and she loathed it with a passion.

It was not hate that which produced this aforementioned spark. Not hate, but a deep desire for her relationship with her father to be different. More amicable. Better. With adulthood and independence her father's boot had merely been lifted from her neck, but its imprint remained and the sole was not so far removed from the skin.

Istra walked through the rear courtyard and approached the manicured bushes behind which both Vyx'aria and Ipatiy were hidden, eyes which might have seen them downcast by these thoughts taking precedence in her mind over the mostly routine motions of the Test.

She passed through a gap in the bushes. Mere paces from the other two women.

Vyx'aria Ipatiy Kozlov
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx considered the woman’s answers to her questions. After a few seconds, the elf decided that the maid was harmless and mostly irrelevant. As she thought about her predicament, an irrelevant person was exactly what was needed for the situation.

“I think we can gain some mutual benefits here,” Vyx said as she watched the mage continue working, “If she finds a way inside, can you distract her so I can slip in? In return I will get for you whatever you desire from within” She wasn’t often in the habit of working with others, especially those of the surface, but this was too good of an opportunity to pass up. Of course, if the maid refused, Vyx would do this on her own.

And probably try to kill the maid because she would have known too much.

The maid would only have moments to respond before the mage came over towards them. Vyx grabbed the maid and dragged her down beside her into a low crouch, concealing them both. To Vyx’s surprise, the gesture wasn’t needed as the mage was seemingly lost within her own mind.

The drow quietly began to follow behind the woman. She was hoping the maid would do her part in being an annoying distraction if the mage managed to clear a path inside.

Ipatiy Kozlov Istra Lejeune
 

Ipatiy Kozlov

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If anyone had looked into Ipatiy's eyes at that moment they would see a silver glint at the drows 'deal'. Let the thief in, let them steal stuff, get a small object for personal use and if anyone asks just tell them you were 'incapacitated' by an intruder.

She saw this as a absolute win with next to no risk on her part and if things became more complicated she could kind of tell the truth that the intruder 'forced' her to do it under the pretense of death. After all most maids would probably be scared half to death if some stranger pushed a knife to their neck.

"Then it is a deal, try to steal something that can be sold easily with little hassle or has some nice practical use will you". She whispered, following after the drow, her own movements quiet and calm, clearly she wasn't an ordinary maid, though her attacker probably figured as much already.

Popping out from the bushes she quickly made her way behind the women, "ah excuse me professor, do you have a second"?

Vyx'aria Istra Lejeune
 
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Istra Lejeune

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Elbion College
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There were times when one's body and one's mind were operating in almost two distinct planes. The body anchored in the physical world, going about the motions of one's current task with an autonomous ease, and the mind whisked away by the lofty whims of thought, a neverending procession that often times ended far from where it started.

This was one of those times.

So Istra, not expecting much in the way of company out by the bushes and the section of wall beyond, flinched when she heard the voice behind her. She turned around, faced the maid, let out a small sigh and said, "You frightened me."

She waved her hand, as if dismissing said fright or heading off any apology that could perhaps follow because of it.

And she decided that a small indulgence would not harm anything--hardly a setback in the Test and her own prying. To the maid she said, "Yes. I am able to spare you a moment. What is it?"

Ipatiy Kozlov Vyx'aria
 
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Vyx'aria

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Vyx had to resist the urge to scoff at the maid’s audacity to name the kind of item she wanted stolen. The drow’s face was devoid of emotion and didn’t divulge whether she agreed or not. Crimson eyes watched as the maid went ahead and worked to intercept the mage, and the drow couldn’t help but be impressed.

While the women were talking, Vyx moved like a cat, slinking through the shadows and moving closer. The drow would have to bank on the maid finding a way for them to get in. Perhaps asking for a tour? Did that even make sense at this hour? Vyx was starting to feel more anxious by the second.

The hand on her dagger tightened, and she wondered if it weren’t a better option to just try and off them both...

Ipatiy Kozlov Istra Lejeune
 

Ipatiy Kozlov

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The flinch from the professor was quite odd, she wasn't exactly trying to be silent, perhaps they had been to engrossed in their work to expect other around here. Regardless said professor being unaware of her surroundings made her sudden appearance seem more normal.

"I apologies, it wasn't my intention to scare you in anyway". There was some truth in the matter, but the little mishap gave her a little more time to stall before asking a question. "I noticed that you and a few other staff were conducting tests around about this time and was pondering if I was to clean up early and vacate the area less disturb your work".

Her eyes glancing slightly to the wall where Istra had been dabbling not a few moments ago. "My knowledge of magic is limited mainly to congregation and summoning, as such I didn't want to accidentally cause any issues for you or the other professors when completing my rounds today".

Vyx'aria
Istra Lejeune
 
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Istra Lejeune

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Elbion College
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Istra listened to the maid's concerns. With a small wave of her hand dismissed them. Said, "You need not trouble yourself with the thought that you might disturb our work. Finish your rounds as you normally would. And do report any anomalies you might encounter to one of the Professors."

Istra half turned, said as something of an afterthought, "Have a pleasant night," and completed her turn.

Started walking toward the section of wall behind the row of manicured bushes. Intent on continuing her Test of the wall's wards. Her back to the woman she knew was there and to the woman she did not know was there.

Vyx'aria Ipatiy Kozlov