Private Tales Light At the End of the Tunnel

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Maric

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The trip, as Maric had predicted, went rather quickly after that.

One stop in a quiet little village with a night spent in a tavern that might as well just have been a families home, and then on the road once more. It was evening by the time they arrived in Selucia properly, and the sounds and smells of the cities wafted over the road and towards the carriage.

Music could already be heard playing, and the smells of food seemed to drown out any other sort of unpleasant smells.

Selucia itself was a city built of limestone. A soft and sunny rock that gave an air of warmth to the buildings in their surroundings. Dozens and dozens of street vendors filled the sides of the streets, selling everything from carpets to food and wine.

Minstrels seemed to be on every corner, and as one looked through the streets they found not a single beggar.

As they entered the city without gates, Maric was explaining another concept of magic. Seemingly unaware they had nearly arrived. "As a rule, one should never be entirely sure they can predict magic. At least not when trying new things. Repetition is key to understanding your own power, but when trying to do new things it is extremely important to tread carefully."

A lesson he had learned himself.
 

Ciana

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As usual, Ciana was paying Maric with her full attention as he imparted his knowledge to her. "Such as with attracting bolts of lightening and hoping for the best?.." her lips twisted in amusement and she nodded.. She would certainly tread more carefully next time.

She had been about to say more when the carriage came to an abrupt halt, the driver barking his disapproval at a small group of children who'd run across the road in front of them. Ciana near slid onto the floor, though just managed to catch herself and parted the window drapes to look outside.

Her gaze widened at the sight and rose to follow the rising city. "We're here!" she smiled as the carriage slowly began to trundle on through the market streets. Her smile faltered slightly as she watched children play and clusters of people chatted and laughed in the glorious sunshine. Soon, she would be able to do such things. She was getting better, but the sun was still far too strong and she hadn't yet got a handle on dispelling enough energy safely for her to wander in such weather.

Ciana let the drape fall closed once more and she sighed deeply, offering a small smile to Maric. "It looks as beautiful as you described.."
 
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Maric

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"Ah, but you see, I had more than just a theory there to go on." Maric countered, smiling rather wide.

He had known that would work. At least, mostly. Ciana's power was truly remarkable, and when they had stepped out into the storm it was a great opportunity. Every now and again even the most fervent rules had to be broken.

It was the only way to make progress. But, in order to break them one had to learn the rules first. "It is quite the city."

Maric said with a nod.

"Alive in ways many others aren't." As he spoke the carriage continued, eventually pulling through the rest of the city until they stopped. "I'll be right back."

He assured Ciana. "Just making arrangements."

The Professor added, carefully opening the door and slipping out of the carriage. Leaving Ciana alone to her thoughts.
 

Ciana

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"Oh.. Alright." Ciana offered with a small smile as he stepped out.

She huffed then, allowing herself to express a little of her own impatience and frustration whilst in her own company. Ciana didn't like to complain. Her mother had ensured that she ever be grateful for all that she had, and she was, but she couldn't help but want just a little more. When she'd been as sick as she had been, she'd have traded anything to be well again and to enjoy such simplicities as stepping out into the daylight.

Almost there. Soon she would have it, if she continued to learn and work. It wasn't something that could be rushed, for the safety of herself and others, but it was just another piece of freedom she was so eager to take.

Ciana chewed on her lip restlessly, staring at the shaft of light that spilled in through the small gap in the drapes. Curiously, she reached to pull back the thick, dark fabric a little more, and settled her hand on the carriage window and closed her eyes, focusing on the sun's energy as her body consumed it.
 
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Maric

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It did not take too long for Maric to return, ten or fifteen minutes at most. A soft knock rapped against the door of the carriage, not hard enough to shake the wood. "Ciana."

The Professor called.

"You can come out on this side." He called to her. An awning had been brought out from the front of the hotel, velvet canvas draped over a dozen or so poles which stretched all the way to the carriage door.

A narrow gap between the awning and the carriage was covered by the Professor himself. A large umbrella clutched in one hand.

"It turns out..." Maric said as he waited for her. "The people here are quite accommodating."

If you paid them enough anyway.
 
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Ciana

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Ciana near jumped out of her skirts at the knock on the carriage, as though she'd been caught doing something she shouldn't have been. The skin of the hand she'd held up into the light was scalding to the touch, she realised, as the cushion she set it down upon started to smoke.

"Oh dear.." she winced, and quickly patted it with her other hand before any flame could form.

"Ah.. yes.. Thank you Professor." she chuckled sheepishly, ensuring she kept that hand to herself as she reached to take the crook of his arm with the other. "How kind!"

"This is quite lovely" she commented as she stepped into the cosy foyer and smiled politely to the man who greeted them.

"Good day My Lady. I've ensured the drapes are closed, I hope you will find your room to your comfort." he smiled, looking at Ciana curiously.. "Will you be joining us for dinner?" he asked, looking between the two.
 
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Maric

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The foyer of the hotel had been made as dark as possible. Curtains pulled, candles snuffed out. Everyone inside could still see, but after the hefty purse of gold Maric had offered they had been more than willing to make accommodations.

All without asking questions. "We'll be having Dinner sent up to the suite."

Maric explained.

It would be easier to do that than snuff out the light in an entire restaurant. They only had so much money, and some of it would need to be saved for later. Their journey by ship would already cost some small fortune, but Maric was determined to make it comfortable.

"Of course sir, very good. If you please come this way."​

The man gestured, and quickly lead Ciana and Maric to the far side of the building. There what looked to be a troll stood, a dopey smile on his face as he leaned against what appeared to be a giant crankwheel. As they walked forward a door was pulled open, revealing a small room large enough for five people.

"Step inside please."​

Maric frowned, but stepped inside followed quickly by Ciana.

The door was slid shut, and then suddenly the room began to move as the troll outside cranked the wheel. A surprisingly smooth shift as they rose from the ground. "Marvelous..."

He mused quietly as they were lifted through the floors of the hotel.
 

Ciana

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Ciana was rather intrigued by everything in this strange little place, most particularly the sight of a troll whom she smiled at with a polite "Hello there." as she stepped into the odd little room with a look of puzzlement at Maric.

A sudden bolt of tension rushed through her as the room began to rise and she gasped, her head tilting back as she watched the chains above lift them through the floors..

"Quite clever indeed!" she beamed. "How lazy we shall all become when there is little more need for stairs." she chuckled as the gate opened once more and they were led along to their suite. Other than a few flickering candles, the light had been snuffed from this room too, though there was enough light to see by and it appeared quite comfortable.

"Thank you, Sir." Ciana smiled warmly to the man who had led the way. There were three doors in the cosy sitting room, two of which were bedrooms and the other a bathing chamber, for which Ciana sighed gratefully.
 
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Maric

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Maric pulled out another golden coin from the pouch at his belt, pressing it into the mans hands and whispering a word of thanks.

The attendant bowed deeply, mentioning something about calling if they required more before quickly slinking away. For a few moments the Professor stayed quiet, slowly panning his gaze over the contents of the suite.

"Perhaps a bit more than we need." He commented slowly.

"But." Maric cut into himself almost immediately. "Sometimes a taste of luxury can be kind, especially after spending the night in a cave."

It was important to make oneself some allowances after all, and it wasn't as though the expense would send either of them into the poor house.

The rest of their journey would not be kind, so they would take advantage now. "I will find us a ship in the morning."

Maric said as he set his things down onto one of the nearby tables.

"What do you think?" The professor asked. "A perfectly pleasant place to spend a night or two, no?"
 

Ciana

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"Oh yes. It's quite lovely, but don't worry.. I won't get too comfortable." she chuckled. "And I will most certainly not take a hot bath for granted."

She could hear the bustling streets outside and gave a small smile as she looked at the thick drapes. "It seems like a wonderful city. Perhaps I can revisit the markets one day.." she shrugged.

"How long shall I expect to be at sea, Professor?" she asked a little anxiously. She didn't do too well on boats, and at least this room was spacious enough not to feel too cooped up, she couldn't imagine being condemned to a small, rocking cabin during the hours of sunlight.
 
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Maric

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"I am sure, one day you will be able to go wherever you please." Maric smiled, glad that he could offer Ciana at least some comfort. Her magic made it difficult, but their journey so far had not been entirely unpleasant and he was glad for that. He hoped for more of the same in the coming days.

"A week, perhaps two if the winds are unkind." Not many people knew where their destination lay, but Maric was confident he would be able to find a Captain will to see them there.

Coin always did work the best with such things.

"AlthHaven sits at the foot of the Spine." He explained. "Directly beneath the end of the mountain range."

There it was safely nestled against the cliffs, protected both by nature as well as...other means. "Have you ever been on a ship before?"

He asked, slowly walking over towards the table in the middle of the suite.
 

Ciana

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Ciana smiled at his reassurance, never failing to take comfort in it. He had a way of settling her with his sincerity. She stepped away from the window, leaving only a small sliver of light to spill through the gap in the drapes, her fingertips dancing through it and the thrum of energy it gave.

"I have heard many stories of the Spine. Some wondrous, some terrifying, but each exciting." she smiled as she looked up at him.

"I have, My father used to take my mother and I on trips when I was a girl. I always grew sick at sea.." she gave him a look of apology. "I don't suppose there's a spell to settle queasy stomachs in your repertoire?" she chuckled quietly and flopped herself into a large armchair just as the door knocked.
 

Maric

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Maric chuckled. "A common problem."

Especially for those who did not live near the sea.

"Unfortunately, no." The Professor answered with a soft smile, taking in a deep breath before he began yet another small lesson. "Amusingly enough, there are many...small things in life that magic has yet to solve."

Maric had always wondered if that was because of lack of research, or because the smaller problems were often the most difficult. "We can create mountains, tear down entire cities, but seasickness? The common cold?"

He shook his head.

"No cure, I'm afraid. At least not with magic." As he continued there was a rap at the door. His head turned, and he moved towards the entrance of their suite. "But I know a potion, I can have it made tomorrow at the apothecary."

Fingers wrapped around the handle, pulling the door open as even as he spoke.
 

Ciana

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Ciana's shoulders rose and fell in a sigh.. "I'm sure I can handle a little nausea in the name of adventure, I don't wish to put you to trouble.." she smiled, her attention turning to the door as he opened it.

The man in the doorway smiled and dipped his chin, a large tray balanced on his palms. "Your meal Mi'Lord, Mi'Lady." he announced, and wandered in to set the food and drinks down on the table with a bow before making his way back to the door.

"Oh, Thank you!" The meal was quite lavish. Roast duck with some sort of berries, potatoes and vegetables as well as a fine bottle of wine.
 
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Maric

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After days on end of road rations the meal was practically a feast for the likes of them. There was no doubt in the professors mind that it would probably be one of the last of such a meal before they embarked on the last leg of their journey.

The food upon ships was normally not much better than could be found in a roadside tavern.

Though he decided not to impart that particular knowledge on Ciana. Some things were better left as a surprise. "Food, I have often found, is the greatest comfort one can find."

Maric said as he returned to the table.

"A way to be home without actually being there." A soft smile touched his face. "Though with a home like mine was, it would be a journey all over the world."

He said with a chuckle.
 

Ciana

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"Oh I quite agree." she chuckled quietly as she poured them both some of the wine. "Especially sweet foods, though if I had my own way I'd have grown fat long ago.. Our cook, Agatha, her honey and lemon cakes were devilish." she smiled..

"Tell me more of your life growing up, whilst we eat?"
 
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Maric

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Maric smiled for a few moments, letting himself and Ciana revel within the memories.

His expression tightening ever so softly as she asked more of his life growing up. For a moment he seemed to stew, as if thinking, and then Maric began to speak. "I was born in Alliria."

The Professor explained.

"My father was a merchant, my mother the daughter of a foreign noble. I had a good life." He would not tell her about the evil side of it. The parts that he would not share with a single soul. Who his mother had really been, what she had been. "Alliria is a melting pot, the greatest in the world."

A smile touched his face again. "You can find food, people, things from every culture."

Wonder touched his eyes.

"I was always curious, and Allirira allowed me to sate my curiosity." Maric smiled. "I spent weeks and weeks of my time running from one obsession to another."

He explained. "One week I would see a Kjosi Fighting Axe and my life would be utterly consumed with understanding it's innate magics. The next I would find a Tyrian blood pendant and want to know all about it."

A chuckle escaped him. "I always wanted to know more, it was never enough."
 
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Ciana

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Maric never had any trouble holding Ciana's attention. She hung on to every word he spoke with intrigue. He had lived a truly wonderful life, and she found it difficult not to be at least a little jealous of it. But she was here, now, on her own adventure and who knew where her new life would take her.

"I think we have much in common as far as our curiosity is concerned.." she chuckled. "I wish to know everything too. I've read all of the books that I could, but they were all very... insular? I wanted to know about the wider world and the magic in it, but there were no such books back home. I've never heard of Kjosi fighting axes or Tyrian blood pendants, and it frustrates me that I've wasted so much time when I could have been learning... It angers me that I almost lost my chance of doing anything at all." she sighed.

"My life will be far shorter than yours.. But whilst I am here I want to make the most of it." she nodded firmly.
 
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Maric

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Maric smiled softly.

He wanted to tell her that perhaps her life would not be so short after all, that magic was a pathway to many things most thought impossible. But putting such thoughts in her head so early felt almost wrong. No, such things were to be discovered.

Found. Not brought. "That is the correct attitude to have, Ciana."

"You cannot change the past, or what was done before."
As much as many had tried. Even the most powerful magics could not turn back the wheels of time. The very universe would become unwound. "But you can control your future."

The Professor told her with a smile. "You alone can choose what to do with it."

"You'll have plenty of time to understand."
Maric continued. "Trust me."
 
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Ciana

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She enjoyed her meal whilst chatting to the professor, and when her wine was finished she excused herself to sink into a hot bath and into some fresh clothes. The thin sliver of light that sneaked into the room between her drapes had dimmed to the coppery glow of sunset, and Ciana carefully peaked outside. The streets still bustled even as the market stalls were packing up and trundling off home. Clusters of friends and couples wandered in and out of taverns and restaurants, the faint sound of music piquing her curiosity.

Ciana drummed her fingertips on the windowsill in thought. She hadn't heard anything from the next room in some time, and wondered whether the Professor was reading, or sleeping.. Either way, she didn't wish to disturb him, and some fresh air surely couldn't do her any harm.. A short walk, that was all..

She pulled on her coat and knotted her hair into an elegant bun, a few stray tresses falling about her face. Her steps were light as she crossed the lounge, and the door opened and closed with nothing more than a very quiet click as she left the room.
 
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Ennio

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Maric was sleeping.

After all he expected no great danger, and he most certainly did not expect Ciana to sneak out of the room. To his mind she would never do something so dangerous, even if she did crave the freedom that the outside world might now tempt her with more and more.

So when the door clicked shut, the Professor did not wake, and he did not follow Ciana out the door.

What she would quickly find was a silent Hotel greeting her. Nothing and no one moved within the darkness of the night. The light within the hall were dimmed so as to not disturb the guests, but once she made her way into the gardens outside she would find streets actually more illuminated than the halls she had left.

Though the crowd was much thinner, people were still milling about. Some with drink in hand, others simply chatting. No one seemed criminal, though she had yet to peek into the darker alleyways.

As she made her way Ciana would find most buildings on the street seemed to have some sort of light on them, all save for one.

Strangely enough the building seemed an Inn, a sign hanging from the front of it. Oddly the door hung open, all the way to the wall, and a sign on the back of it read;

'yes we're open, but all of our candles seemed to have gone out'

 
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Ciana

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Women didn't generally walk the streets alone unless they were working them. By the looks of Ciana, she certainly wasn't a working girl, but nobody really paid her any heed and so she was given no reason to feel unsafe as she wandered.

She came to a stop outside the inn, the strange sign catching her eye. Her brow furrowed at the notice, re-reading it three times to ensure her understanding. Surely, if candles went out, they would be re-lit, rather than sitting in darkness...

"Curious.." she murmured to herself with a quiet chuckle. It was as though the place beckoned to her, as though it understood her aversion to light and welcomed her in. She looked over her shoulder as people wandered on by the inn without much notice, and she chewed on her lip as she mustered the courage to open the door and peek inside.
 
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Ennio

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"I swear to Kress and the high aeons." Ennio said, leaning over one of the many tables in the common room of the Last Chance Inn. In his hand was a small striker, below it a candle that seemingly would not light no matter how much he tried.

"This is worse than the time you brought us to the Naga lands!" Ennio complained, though by the tone of his voice it was clear that he wasn't truly upset, more speaking to someone in jest. "I swear at least then we had cus-"

As if suddenly realizing something, Ennio whirled around to face Ciana as she peeked into the common room.

"Ah!" He said, darting across the room almost instantly and practically sweeping Ciana inside. "Please, come in come in!"

The Innkeep said, waving to the girl with a wide beaming smile that could barely be seen through the dim light within the tavern. "The candles don't seem to be lighting, nor the lanterns, probably something with the humidity!"

Ennio excused, entirely ignoring that apparently no other tavern had the same problem. "But I assure you we are most certainly open!"

"What can I get you?"
He asked. "Anteluvian Brandy? Mallian Rum? Tyrian Whisky? Oh! I know, how about a starberry cocktail? Delicious things, made with...well starberries."
 
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Ciana

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Ciana near leapt from her skin when the man in the dark whirled to face her.. "Oh-- Well, thank you." she said with a nervous laugh as she was beckoned inside. She could see well enough, though she was far more used to the darkness than most.

"How..strange." Ciana answered his predicament over his lack of light with confusion, though it couldn't possibly be a coincidence. She took a seat and cast him a bright smile, finding his jubilant manner quite enjoyable to behold.

Her head tilted.. "Star berries?" she asked with a chuckle.. "That sounds intriguing. Thank you, uh Mister?.." she inquired and peered around the dark room, noting that she was the only one here and wondering who he had been talking to when she'd arrived, though she wouldn't be so rude as to ask should he simply be a little special.
 
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Ennio

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"Isn't it?" Ennio said with a shrug, as though he really did have absolutely no idea what was going on.

"Please." He began. "You call me, Ennio!"

A bright smile touched his face as he suddenly swept away from the table and seemingly disappeared behind the bar. His form seeming to dip below the counter as though there were an entire staircase there. "Innkeeper of the Last Chance...expert barman...and..."

Popping back up, Ennio smiled, suddenly holding a tray that seemed to contain an impossibly wide array of ingredients.

"The best friend anyone could ever have." He said with a wink, then quickly slipped back over the bar. "What brings you to my little tavern on a night such as this, if I may ask?"

Ennio said as he moved back towards the table in front of Ciana. Placing the tray down where she would be able to see what was upon it; A glass, a mixer, several bottles of what appeared to be alcohol and syrups, and then a bowl of strangely shaped bright pink fruits.
 
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