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* Plot Information for Dharo

The intrigue that drives, and plagues, the Territory of Dharo has built and destroyed empires throughout the Territory; and everyone is eager for political power. The reign of Rheava Evesham has been challenged by these power struggles and even more so by the undercutting of power in her Court. The game of politics had bred the need for Spies within the Territory and they have become the backbone of the Queen's reign.
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Author Topic: Reassembly  (Read 133 times)

Description: Rhiannon

Offline Tanner Langston

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Reassembly
« on: Jul 27, 17, 10:54:24 PM »
Once Tanner had made his home in a run-down boarding-house in the southern slums of Coventry. He had been born there, grown up there. It had been a familiar place, familiar streets. He could have counted out the specific number of cobblestones between the shite little house and the tavern where he often took his meals. Could've walked those streets with his eyes closed, turned each corner without a single misstep. He could've, but he never did, and then he'd moved at Rhiannon's insistence--

He jerked his thoughts away from her. Course-correcting. Tanner set the calligrapher's pen aside, tipped at an angle so the ink would dry correctly in the nib. It hurt to abuse his tools like that, but the new Nharkavan steward abused his tools like that, so he had to do it.

--He'd moved to the flat on Bowery Street, but hadn't stayed long. It wasn't a good fit. That was what he'd told the landlord once the initial ninety-day contract was up. He needed someplace else. And that someplace else was on a quiet little side-street, far from the hustle and bustle of Coventry proper, but close enough that he never felt the need to go and check and make sure the city was just as terrifying as he remembered, because he was still there. His neighbors were all landen or Jewelless Blood. They were happy enough to let him be if he let them be, and he was.

The first floor of the building where he lived was brick, and played host to a bakery that made fine desserts in a style imported so long ago that neither the proprietor nor the apprentices remembered the name of the Territory from which their floaty little puff deserts had come. The upper floors (there were two) were white and pale brown and half-timbered, a word he remembered because he'd once forged a set of real estate deeds for an unscrupulous man. A half-timbered home designed by Lord Wurthing in the year 102 after Witch's Purge, signed to and so on. Just So.

Tanner was the only resident of the upper two floors. He shared the walls perpendicular to the street with the townhouses on either side of him, but he was a quiet person, and bothered no one. They were quiet people, too. The younger son of the Jewelless family that lived to the left fetched Tanner's groceries for a few coppers a week, but never came further than Tanner's door. They didn't bother him. He was a strange one, but he didn't bother anyone, so who cared?

He leaned forward over the heavy paper before him, brushing aside some remaining shards of his Green Jewel. In his state of focus, he didn't realize it was there, or what it was he had just brushed onto the floor. Much of the rest of the apartment was dusty. From the outside, it looked quite unoccupied. Perhaps even abandoned.

But it was quiet, and he bothered no one.

Offline Rhiannon Devine

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #1 on: Jul 30, 17, 04:45:49 AM »
Rhiannon had more on her agenda than she could possibly accomplish and all of it was a priority. The problem when everything is important is that nothing really can be. She was carefully combing through the coded messages that had come pouring in from all over Dharo, but she had yet to learn anything that would lead her to Silara or the people responsible for taking her. She had done everything she could from her position without taking greater risk and she had failed. She needed to take further action, but that meant acting in ways that would make Dirk suspicious.

She had spent long years earning and re-earning his trust, always proving herself worthy, but the reality was she was more than what he feared. Not only was she secretly bound to the very Queen he despised and blamed for tearing him and Alora apart, she was the Spy Master, collecting secrets and trading in treachery. Still, her mask was woven of her own vulnerabilities, so filled with truth the lies were no more than laugh lines or softly spreading crow's feet. Dirk loved the softness of the witch who was so different than his Queen, the meek seamstress who had found her way into his heart and his fierce protection. She had built a life that heavily involved him and his dark shadow, James. The three of them were often seen together, Dirk, his witch, and his best friend. The trio were a fixture at Court, one that had grown increasingly steady as the years had passed.

And now she had to be very, very careful not to jeopardize all the work she had done, not to mention her own heart, by being more hands on within her spy network than she had been since Rheava's pregnancy. It seemed Silara would always be the reason she was willing to risk everything she had so carefully crafted. Silara. Rheava. Dharo. Her entire life was woven through with the sacrifices she had made for each. Her mother, her Red Jewel, Vance.

Tanner.

Tanner had slipped through her fingers when she had refused to break things off with Dirk. She had reasoned with him, reassured him, tried to calm him. But in the end, none of that changed that he saw Dirk Ryder as part of her death, and he could not love her and survive, not if she was willing to risk her life and his sanity for her Queen and their Territory.

She had tried to keep track of him, but it was even more difficult now than before. He refused to see her, only worked for her still because she used couriers. She knew approaching him now would not be any different. But it had to be. It can't, and it has to. A constant impossibility of her life.

Rhiannon needed Tanner if she was to find Silara. There was no one better. Or there hadn't been. Recently she had noticed subtle errors in his work, things even a trained eye would miss but it was not perfect and that meant it was not Tanner. She didn't know what to expect when she saw him again, the rift between them having stretched out for far too long. But she needed to find out.

She pressed a small, pale hand against his door for a long moment, finding her breath, flooding her body with courage she did not feel. Her fingers curled into a fist and she knocked, flooding the doorway with the feel of her. She would not hide from him, rather she would let him feel her before he even made it all the way to the door. She waited, knocking again if he didn't answer, not leaving until he opened the door and came face to face with the woman he once considered the most precious thing in his life.



Offline Tanner Langston

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #2 on: Jul 30, 17, 05:00:45 AM »
And like that, with the brush of knuckles against wood, the quiet was shattered. All of the peace and tranquility, all of the focus, flew away, leaving Tanner wide-eyed and gaping at the heavy Nharkavan paper, the sudden distraction a destruction. His thoughts splintered and scattered, birds before prey, roaches exposed to light. His hands seized, arrhythmic and faintly painful, and then the fit was over, and he knew the cold sweat dripping down his temples for what it was, the taste of blood in his mouth for more than just its component parts.

His eyes, wide and dark and gaping, flicked to the shattered pieces of his Green. With a breath that was too loud and that burned going down, he reinforced his skin-tight Opal shield, pouring power into it. No one came to the flat above the bakery; no one knocked at his door. The Darkness instilled a different tremor in every hand and a different yarn in each skein, and no hand had been directed to the warm brown wood of Tanner Langston's apartment in a very long time.

He closed his mouth. It was dry, like a rotten hangover. Tanner rose to his feet, feeling flooding down from his thighs. How long had he been sitting there? He could smell ashes from the fire. It was summer, but he needed the ash for his work. There was an order for papers for an inheritance once stolen to be stolen back, and the Prince who had written the true will had used this type of wood burned in this sort of way. It all smelled of smoke. A bead of sweat ran down his spine.

He closed his mouth. It was dry, like he hadn't drunk anything in months. When had he stood up? Why had he left his desk? The sun was up, the day was in full swing. The light from the candles burning hurt his head terribly, and no one knocked on his door. He probed the presence outside his door. A bead of sweat ran down his spine.

He closed his mouth, and went to the door, and pressed a hand to it.

"Who is it," he asked, his voice rusty from disuse. His tongue was a foreign creature within his mouth, uncomfortable. He thought about tearing it out, the dry old thing. The blood would quench his thirst, if nothing else. Fingers probed at his lips, which wouldn't open. He came back to himself at another knock. "Who is it?" Was he speaking the common tongue? After his head had cracked open, after all the wits spilled out, he'd spoken in tongues. That was a long time ago.

So many things were so long ago.

Offline Rhiannon Devine

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #3 on: Jul 30, 17, 05:17:11 AM »
She couldn't say how much time passed while she stood in the hallway outside of the room she knew Tanner inhabited. Even now she could sense him, feel the sharp tang of his Opal, the same depth as her Birthright but so very different from the sense she held of her own. She knew he was there, the same way she had known how to ease his fits before, anger mixing with terror as inseparable as his specially crafted inks used for his masterful forgeries.

Her fingers straightened, rubbing patterns into the wood as if some long forgotten sigil could summon the male she sought if she just found the right pattern. His voice came and relief and terror both poured over her body, leaving the tiny soft hairs at the back of her neck standing. For a moment the overly verbose witch was speechless, unable to even shape the syllables of her own name. She found his first, his name like a prayer on her tongue.

"Tanner." It stood alone, his name, her voice, the perfect combination of what they had once been. Never lovers, but something even closer to Tanner if that was possible, if close to Tanner was ever possible. "Tanner." She spoke it again, as if repeating it would grant the word power, as if she could force her way through time to find the Prince who had once held her and screamed at her all in one breath.

"It's Rhiannon," she said finally, the word redundant considering the swell of her Craft seeping under his door, coating the wood in her scent and her essence, refusing to yield until he opened the door or her Craft swallowed it and cleared her path. "I need to speak to you. Please let me in." She would ask nicely, but if he refused her this time, she would break the privacy she had been carefully holding for him all this time and pass through the warm wood, entering his space of her own accord if he refused to grant her entry.

Rhiannon hoped it didn't come to that. Tanner had always been protective of his space and she had always been respectful. But this was more than just a request, no matter what had passed between them.



Offline Tanner Langston

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #4 on: Jul 30, 17, 05:29:23 AM »
Rhiannon.

He closed his mouth, ran his dry tongue over his dry lips. "Who is that," he said, and there was something querulous and awful and old in his voice. He let his head thunk against the door. He could feel her psychic presence, her Opal. It was different to what it had been. His stare caught on pieces of Green glinting on the ground. He didn't know it for what it was. It was scattered across the floor, as far away as the sky or the stars or the black spaces between them. He didn't know where the shards came from. How long they had been there. They were as pieces of colored glass, and he had many to account for.

But he knew that voice, even if he didn't remember the name. He remembered that voice had betrayed him. He remembered that voice dragged him out into the world that he didn't trust anymore. There was something in the voice now, something lonely and trembling, something that didn't belong. He felt the Opal power leak under the door. It didn't occur to him to shield it, to stop it. He watched the power flow, eyes wide open and staring down like he watched the first trickles of a century flood.

Then he opened the door.

The woman on the other side was unfamiliar to him. He blinked, twice. He closed his mouth. He tasted blood. "I don't know you," he said. It was truth. Was she replacing Jacob? No. She wore the Opal. None of the families around him wore Jewels. He lived quietly, and they left him alone. He bothered no one. He did his work and he paid his rent and there was no call for anyone to bother him back when he did no bother in the first place. "You're familiar, but I don't know you."

It puzzled him that he knew her power but not her face. That seemed unlikely. It seemed unrealistic. He didn't like it. But he knew that this unfamiliar person would want privacy for her dealings. It itched at him, in his mind, pulling more threads of Opal to wrap around his body like a shield. He closed the door behind her. He took a sharp breath through his teeth. There. The worst part was over. She was inside. Was this how women felt the first time a cock penetrated them? Invaded. A foreign body where it didn't belong.

"Underwater," he said. His gaze caught on his desk. He spotted a letter, and he said, "Oh, the spy master. Rhiannon."

It hadn't yet clicked.

Offline Rhiannon Devine

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #5 on: Jul 31, 17, 11:19:04 PM »
Rhiannon stepped inside the apartment when Tanner opened the door, closing it behind her. She stayed near the wall, giving him the space that she knew he would need from her. There had been a time when she had felt welcome to violate Tanner's personal bubble, to even go so far as to hug him, but years had slipped through her fingers. How long had it been since she had seen him? Five years? More? Less? She was unsure, and not just about that. Being here at all was... uncertain. But she needed to end their silence, and Tanner was certainly not coming to her.

She studied him. He hadn't bathed, or shaved, in days at least. His hair was oily and sticking every which way. He had ink smeared across his cheek, and what appeared to be either a deep red ink or blood dried on his shirt. His fingers were red and raw. And the bags beneath his eyes were so dark and pronounced she honestly wondered if he had slept a single night since she last saw him.

At first, she thought he was just fucking with her, pretending not to know her. It would be one more way he could hurt her, in his child like way of lashing out. If he didn't see her, she didn't exist. If he pretended not to know her, he wouldn't have to deal with the painful chasm that stretched between them. She couldn't quite blame him. In Tanner's eyes, she would rather risk her life than be there for him. She had been his only constant. And thinking that, she realized that he wasn't pretending. She had been his only constant. What had happened to his mind when she wasn't there to help steel the foundation?

And all of a sudden, it hit her. What was missing from the dirty, ill kept apartment. As far as she could feel there was Opal. Her Opal. Tanner's Opal. But where was his Green? Where was the dark scent that she associated so strongly with him? What had...

Her eyes caught the shimmering shards on the floor. Her mind refused to accept what she was seeing. No. NO. He could not have. Not like this. Not because she...

"Oh, Tanner," she said, her fear and caution momentarily swept aside as she walked purposefully into his apartment and scooped up the the pieces of his shattered Green Jewel in her hand. She cradled them carefully, like one would a small, scared animal. She didn't need to probe them to know they were dead and no longer capable of holding a reservoir of Craft. She could see it, the way the light dulled as it fell against them.

She turned toward him, offering the pieces of Jewel to the man who had once wielded their power. "I'm so sorry." Rhiannon knew intimately what it was to be broken of her Offering and she was much more sane than Tanner had ever been.

So many sacrifices. All for Dharo. She had never wanted Tanner to be one of them.   



Offline Tanner Langston

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #6 on: Jul 31, 17, 11:54:35 PM »
Rhiannon the spymaster stayed across the room from him. That was alright. Tanner didn't like having another person in his home. There hadn't been one since he had shut the door behind the landlord. The room was dim, as it often was when he wasn't actively working. He hadn't been. He'd been waiting for the ink to dry in the pen on his desk so he could mimic using a poorly cared for nib. He hadn't even cleaned the light wax covering off the nib. The man who he was forging work for never would have thought of that, but Tanner did. Tanner was ever hyperaware of everything around him. For instance, he knew that the woman in his home was upset. Maybe she was just uncomfortable. His apartment was a mess; he had days where all he wanted to do was clean, but not recently, not in... he didn't know. He wasn't so good at time. If he wasn't so obsessed with the work, if he did anything else but the work, he would likely never manage to hit his deadlines. But it was for the work that he sacrificed all of this time, all of this space. For the work.

The room was dim, because Tanner's head hurt very much anymore when the lights were very bright, and very bright was a matter of perspective. For him, more than the few flickering candles was too bright. Even this sometimes hurt his head. Some long-lost, once-dormant part of him worried that the spymaster would be unhappy. That she would be worried. She was upset, but what for? It was probably just the mess.

He looked at the shards of Green in her hand. There was no recognition in his face. His expression was empty of anything, even reproach. "What is that?" He knew how she knew his name now. Rhiannon the spymaster commissioned work from him. "I can't reassemble that," he told her, reaching out to take a piece of it. "It's in too many pieces. Maybe a jeweler can help you." His eyelids flickered shut, a half-aborted blink. "Sorry." He said it like aristo ladies tossed out used handkerchiefs.

With a frown, he rolled the shard of Green between his fingers. "This is... this was mine, wasn't it," he said. "I think... I think I've lost something very important... Something."

He looked at her. "Do you know what it was?"

Offline Rhiannon Devine

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #7 on: Aug 03, 17, 09:06:49 PM »
Rhiannon's heart cracked open in a wash on grief laced pain. She had known Tanner wasn't okay. His work showed it, even if his actions didn't. She had never known him to be anything but meticulous, exacting, refusing to settle for anything but perfection. It had caused him to drive himself too hard too often, but it had also made him the best at his craft and absolutely indespensible. Tanner had always danced along the edge of the Twisted Kingdom, but this... this was beyond anything she had expected.

She should have come sooner. Silently she cursed herself for staying away so long, for allowing herself to be distracted. He had made his boundaries clear and she had tried to respect them. And it had cost him his Jewel.

"No," she said softly. "No, you can't put this back together." She watched as he rolled the shard of Green Jewel between his fingers, as memory flickered across his features, still too far away to grasp onto fully. "Yes, this was yours, Tanner." She waited and watched, radiating warmth and comfort if he was open to feeling her Craft.

"Do you know what it was?"

Her heart cracked open further, a wrenching pain in her chest. "I do. Would you like me to tell you?"

He studied her for a moment before asking, "How do you know?"

Rhiannon took a deep breath before answering. "Because a long time ago, I lost something important, too." She carefully shifted his broken Jewel into her left hand, leaving her right empty. She called in the shattered shards of her Red Jewel and allowed them to fill her palm. She held both hands out for him to see and examine, an act of trust so deep she could have never offered it to anyone but Tanner.



Offline Tanner Langston

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #8 on: Aug 16, 17, 03:07:13 AM »
Tanner watched her. Her voice was an odd mix of calming and not. He wanted to shout but he wanted to bury his face in her shoulder, he needed to touch her and wanted her to stay far away. Something in his forehead twinged, like fingernails scraping against his shattered psychic barriers. Digging into the cracks: Tanner are you there? He thought he could remember...

It was foggy but it was there. Tanner stopped rolling the shard of green glass between his thumb and forefinger. He remembered... he remembered fog, that was why the memory was foggy. Darkness and fog and a glint of blue-gold rolling among it. He blinked, the tremor in his hands surfacing again, the shard of Green falling to the floor, catching in the gap between floorboards and glinting at him, all the wrong color. He looked at the red shards in Rhiannon the spymaster's hands and remembered another time her hands had been red and filled with shards. You promised me, he had said. You promised you would be safe! And burning pain in his hand, his hand with the strange circular scar, and the clinking of things dropping into glass.

His Jewel. That's the thing he had lost. Like Rhiannon had lost hers. He remembered the word on the street, the contract they were putting out, the red-haired girl and her sisters and her mother. And his own mother, falling, always falling, forever falling in his memory. He'd fallen too, into the fog and the dark and the far-off firefly glimmer. Like the blue flash off the river when he sat on the banks when he was younger, right when the sun went down, right as the stars started to glint awake. He'd lost his jewel in the darkness and now he wore only the pale blue one. He became aware of the suffocating heat in the room. Tanner looked towards the window over his desk. It was shuttered, tied shut with cheap yarn. He held out a hand to use his Craft to untie it, and the wood cracked at the force of it, and he threw the shutter open even though it hurt and opened the window and gasped in the fresh air, eyes clenched tight shut.

It was gone. Too late, too late, too late, he'd lost his Green and hadn't even noticed it. Too late, too late, too late...

He couldn't breathe.

Offline Rhiannon Devine

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #9 on: Aug 16, 17, 05:04:09 AM »
Watching realization set over Tanner was more painful than she could have imagined. Had she been wrong? Was it a kindness to allow him to remain in the foggy haze of the lost path he walked, where he didn't have to face the magnitude of his loss? No. She couldn't allow him to remain there, even if it did ease the ache that she saw growing within his frame.

His hands shook, a shard of green falling to the flow. Rhiannon wanted to pick it up, wanted to stoop and sweep it into her hand protectively, to gather all of the pieces of him that had shattered into fragments of his soul and hold them close to her heart. Could she heal what he endured? For all of her skill as a tailor, a designer, and a spy master, she held no ability to heal the body or mind. But for Tanner, before, her presence had been enough to help keep him rooted here in the physical world, to support his Chalice from deep cracks that would threaten the all of him.

And now? Now he had broken his Green and cut himself off from the depth of the Abyss he had been able to reach before, and it seemed like, if this moment was to be any indication of the severity of that realization, that he had done it somewhere along the line without even realizing what he'd done. Was that why his work had suffered so? Because he was trying to pull on Craft he no longer possessed? Or was he lost between this Realm and the Twisted Kingdom, dancing along the edge thin as a knife's blade, his balance in constant threat of being lost eternal?

The shutters tore open with the rise of unsure Opal Craft, Rhiannon instinctively shielding them both just in case his efforts would cause sharp splinters or nails to fly in their direction. She watched him, his body gasping for air. She knew that feeling. She woke up with it as often as not, her lungs fighting even in her sleep to draw a deep enough breath to fill her body. More than once she had woken up in bed gasping when she was not alone. Luckily for her, Dirk was a heavy sleeper. Unluckily for her, James was not. At least the times he stayed with them were infrequent enough that she hoped he wasn't aware of the depth of her night terrors. He was already protective. She didn't want to draw even more from the second Warlord Prince who seemed determined to keep her safe.

Rhiannon released the shields again as soon as the threat was gone, if there ever was a such a time with Tanner, and she walked to stand next to him at the window. She vanished the shards of her Red Jewel from her palm and slipped her hand into his. She didn't know if he would accept such a gesture, or if he would yank violently away, but she was going to try.

"I stayed alive, Tanner," she said, looking out the window at his side, not attempting to meet his eyes. "I'm so sorry I wasn't here for you. That I hurt you. But I kept my promise. I'm still here. I stayed alive." 



Offline Tanner Langston

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Re: Reassembly
« Reply #10 on: Aug 17, 17, 03:43:40 AM »
Rhiannon's hand in his, fellow-feeling, sympathy bitter as peach pits on the back of his tongue. Cut open the peach pit and boil the meat and you'll have a clever poison. Burn the outsides, crush them, add to them the juice from crushed leaves, and you'll have a very expensive ink. Dark brown and smelling faintly of fruit. Sometimes he accidentally licked the nib of a quill with the peach-pit ink. Not enough to kill him, but enough to cause problems. It always passed, though, like clouds over a river, like water about the bow of the ship. He'd always had the Work.

His fingers tightened around Rhiannon's. Too tight. He didn't seem to realize. His heart was pounding in his chest, deafening him. He kept his eyes tight shut. Peach-pit ink. Fruit ink. It was all ink in the end, or it wasn't ink at all. Even then. Ink from flesh-fat. Ground up bone as setting powder. What was a peach pit but the bones of fruit? Where one bone would do why wouldn't another? Like the Jewel shards that had spilled across his apartment. Why did it have to be that Jewel? Why hadn't he kept it safer?

"I saw someone in a dream," he said. "She was beautiful. I wanted her." Tanner had never admitted to wanting anyone. Once, he had told Rhiannon he needed her, but that was a different animal, as strange as bone was to peach pits. He found he could focus now, her Opal psychic scent pervading the space, giving him a momentary wall to lean against, something to grasp onto, her hand in his. "I saw her in the dark fog and I wasn't afraid of it anymore. I was always afraid of it before I saw her but I saw her and there was a light like fireflies, and I reached for her and..."

And he'd reached too far, too fast. He wasn't a Black Widow. But he'd wanted that woman, wanted to pull her close and keep her safe inside his chest. Like the pit of the peach and the poisonous meat inside. "And I broke," he said, his words simple like a child's. "She was too far. I broke.

"I told you to stay safe and I didn't."

 

 

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