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Author Topic: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]  (Read 974 times)

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Offline CaeliTopic starter

Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« on: March 07, 2009, 09:09:40 PM »
The gods-cursed rain could make even the sunniest day seem miserably gloomy.

Since the region surrounding the capital of Fahrain had been engulfed in snow for the past week, an unusual cold had settled in the air from the drifts of unspoiled white, combining into some unlucky, chilling mess.

Normally, Reira wouldn't particularly care. She loved the snow and ice, and rather than huddle up inside hoping the chill would pass quickly, she was more often the type to run outside and dance, stepping lightly over the unmarred, beautifully smooth surface of the snow like some ethereal fairy. Snow didn't normally fall here, unlike up in the northern mountains, so this rare treat was exactly that - a treat.

Or it would have been, under normal conditions.

Unfortunately, Reira had had to sludge through the uncertain, volatile weather patterns of the past week, riding an important missive from the Master Mage to the port city of Myste, which had been struck by a deadly epidemic. The resident healer and mage had died; since it was suspected that magic was the root cause of the disease, only a trusted, powerful mage could be trusted to scout out the situation and report back to the Master Mage and His Majesty.

Rain, hail, and sleet, on top of snow; it made walking a downright hell (if hell was a frozen wasteland) and riding almost as much trouble. With her magic, it had been much easier for Reira... but there'd been no way to get the wet out of her clothes, not without a fire going. And no fire seemed able to start in the constant, gods-blasted damp.

Still, it was just snow; even if Reira was wet and miserable and her teeth were chattering, she was so cold, water (and thus snow) was still her element, and it probably made her journey several times shorter and comparatively much less miserable than if she'd been a person who hadn't the Gift.

After stabling Helios and giving him a good rub-down and a large pile of oats and hay, Reira stepped inside the main house. It was rather regrettable - her boots would need a thorough cleaning before she could use them again, and her clothing (among them her favorite set of mage's robes) would never be the same again. But at least she was back home: she might finally be able to feel warm again.

Kastadel was going to owe her big for doing this "little errand" for him.

"Master Mage! You better not be out attempting to seduce the Flower District's best again!" Reira finally shouted from the front hall, scowling when she saw no sign of her teacher anywhere. The toe of her right boot clicked impatiently against the floor as she looked around, wondering if he was off chasing some big-breasted, big-haired, silly doxy again.

And she'd told him exactly when she would be back, too.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2009, 02:23:22 PM by Caeli »

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #1 on: March 28, 2009, 11:37:54 AM »
All was silent in the great hall of Melfyridor save the tapping of the boot of its most powerful water mage. Its ceilings towered above the dark marble pillars that stood in rows along the chamber. Ordinarily students bustled about the room to other passages of the keep while visiting magical dignitaries and scholars would await the master mage’s council. But silence occupied this space now.

The lights were dim save only a few of the torches which were scattered along the sides. In their faint blue light, cobwebs lit along the pillars that once shined in majestic dark beauty. Some of the books that lined the shelves along the walls were scattered on the floor, and scrolls with various quills lay strewn about the tables.

The fireplace had old ashes in it and above it, etched in wood over the mantle read An Organized Life is a Fruitful One.

After what seemed an eternity of silence, the east doors opened and a thin, wiry initiate slinked into the hall. He wore the traditional green robes of the alchemists but they looked like they hadn’t been washed in days. His face was smooth and he looked young, but his eyes were sly as if nothing of what he said was exactly the complete truth.

Seeing Reira he stopped for a moment, then adjusted himself and slowly walked forward putting on his finest diplomats face.

“Why look what the storm brought,” he grinned with very white teeth. “It’s good to see you Reira. Do you remember me?” He covered his hands within his robes and continued. “I’m Corvus of the Kurakai. We were summoned here by Kastadel himself.”

As he approached her, he stopped and changed his look to worry. His facial muscles seemed too practiced as if they didn’t show the conflict in his heart, or the complexity of real emotion.

His dark eyes pierced at her with an unfixed gaze as he spoke in a low whisper, “The master is not well but he asked me to relate a message to you should you arrive.”

He walked to the side of her for a moment and looked around the dark and damp hall. “Such a tragedy of late, that this hall should come to this.”

Shaking his head, he looked back at her. “Go to the southern island of Mazadryn and seek out Varien Moracryn. You are to continue your studies with him.”

As he walked back towards the doors he gave her a dark look, "Go and do not concern the Master with this any longer."
« Last Edit: March 28, 2009, 11:43:10 AM by Kurzyk »

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #2 on: March 31, 2009, 01:28:57 AM »
She was just about finished with waiting when the creaking sound of a door opening shifted Reira's attention to her right. It was a frown that was on her face, when she saw someone who was most definitely not Kastadel standing there... and walking towards her.

It took some effort to keep her nose from wrinkling in distaste. An alchemist? Kastadel hated alchemists. He called them scientific hacks who attempted to replicate magic, with mixed results. Of course there were the occasional successes... but most times, their skills fell far short of what any sorcerer or apprentice could do with their own power.

And this one seemed like one of the fusty older ones. He looked... shifty. Not to be trusted. And when Corvus of the Kurakai, as the man introduced himself, informed her that Kastadel had summoned them... and that her master was unwell... Reira's eyes narrowed.

"Unfortunately, I don't believe I've ever had the pleasure of meeting you," she said in clipped tones, each word dropping like a shard of ice. "And I answer to no one but my master. You will let me see him."

Without waiting for another response Reira strode to the east door, her own blue eyes staring piercingly at the intruder in Master Kastadel's home. Her home. It had only been a one, two weeks - what had happened to send this hall into such a state of disrepair, and made her master unable to even come greet her?

"And I will not take orders from you, alchemist. I answer only to Master Kastdel - and as his only student, he would hardly consider me a nuisance, or something of concern. Tell me where he is."

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2009, 10:22:14 AM »
Her words stung and like a serpent he slowly coiled around and stepped towards her. His fair skin, smooth from the smoke of his potion brewing, shimmered in the blue light.

“So sure are you, that your cool words would find comfort on an hour such as this?” His voice slithered as his dark eyes pierced at her with an agony and deception.

Stepping closer, his face only a breath from hers he admired her beauty. The frown lines cracked as he continued, “Such beauty to be caught within the eyes of one so cold. Why must these matters concern you so?”

A smile cracked across his darkened lips like the dawn on the day of a tornado. It had been so long since he had stood in the presence of a female. It shook him as he gazed upon her, “If it pleases you… you could stay with me before your journey.”

His hand emerged from his robes and reached for her hair. His heart shook as it drew nearer and longed to run his withered fingers through it.

“I could teach you many things child,” he said with a smooth reptilian tone.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 10:24:02 AM by Kurzyk »

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2009, 07:49:44 PM »
Her piercing eyes, as pale as ice, narrowed as he stepped towards her. But she was no wilting lily, to bow down towards any man who thought she 'needed a firmer rein'. Most of them learned that she wasn't merely some intractable horse who would obey if only someone with a hard enough hand tried to break her.

"I am sure. I have lived with Master Kastadel for over a decade," she managed to say without scowling. Who did this man think he was? Her keeper? That if he stepped close to try to intimidate her, she would back off?

Her smile was as warm as the northern mountains would be during a wintertime blizzard. "These matters concern me because he is my family. Now if you will step aside-"

Reira attempted to walk past the man; he only moved closer, and she halted when he did not give way, her eyes further narrowing at the cold lust in his eyes. It was just her luck, to be confronted by someone so... primal. He must be the type to think that young females were his to be 'taught', as it were.

"I think not, Corvus," Reira remarked coolly, staring him down even though he had a few inches on her. She deliberately left out the cordial Master that usually preceded any prestigious position - she would be damned if he thought she possessed even an ounce of respect for him. She slapped his hand away before he could even touch her, then pulled out a handkerchief and wiped where her skin had come in contact with him, as if to wipe away a disease or bit of dirt.

"I would rather do many more worthwhile things with my time. Now step aside."

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2009, 09:07:44 AM »
Startled, he stepped back. Pointing his finger towards her, his pale smooth face shook in anger.

“Impudent child,” he seethed. “Were you one of my students, you would be shackled in the dungeon, with its rats as your companions, for that mouth.”

The air of the room was thick with tension. The alchemy master was unaccustomed to such disrespect.

As he opened his mouth to speak again, the empty torch containers near the entrance to Master Kastadel’s chambers slowly lit a soft blue. A kind and wise voice emanated from the emerging colors, as a tall elderly man in flowing purple robes stepped forward.

“As it is, she is not.” He said with the look of a father calmly breaking up a family feud.

His face was old, with cracks in his skin from the passage of time, and held a long white mustache and beard. The elder mages of the age on occasion have suggested he shave it because of the stereotype. But he often remarked that he found it quite distinguishable. ‘A mage’s hair is a symbol of them, and carries distinction.’ This followed with a wink and a smile.

Despite his age, which none have been able to accurately guess, his eyes were fierce and reflected a sharp power which seemed to shimmer in the air around him. Rumors have circulated over the years from the village folk regarding his origins. Some say that he wasn't born, but molded from energy. The legend of his arrival from a lightning storm has been passed down through the generations. Of course his response to this was usually a wink and a light-hearted joke. He loved to play up the mystery.

Slowly stepping as if walking on clouds, he outstretched his arms and smiled at the sight of her.

“Reira, it’s wonderful of you to come.”

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2009, 02:06:18 AM »
"Well, I'll have you know that even if I were your student, and you even had the temerity to lock me up in your dungeon, I'd do something to make you regret ever knowing who I was-"

Her tirade was stopped by Kastadel's firm, but quite murmur. When she felt his presence, both from the magic as from his person, Reira took a deep breath, calming herself before turning a wan smile to her teacher, with the ever-deep bow that she favored only to the king, the prince, and him.

"Master Kastadel! I'm glad to see you are well." Without even a second glance at Corvus, as if he were not even worth her sight, she stepped into Kastadel's embrace with a gurgle of laughter, not caring overmuch that her wet clothes were staining his robes a darker hue. "I finished the assignment you gave me, but it's been dreadful weather on the ride back. Bucketfuls and bucketfuls of snow and sleet and hail - you wouldn't believe it!" She rambled a little bit about how even the birds had gone into hibernation, and how there was not a soul who would brave the open country because of the weather conditions - little things, from which Corvus would not be able to know what it was she had been sent to do.

"I'd heard that you were sick?" She asked lightly, finally taking a step back and brushing some ice from his robes. "Are you better? What did the herbalists and the healers say?"

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #7 on: July 07, 2009, 01:04:50 AM »
The look on Corvus' face to her words was akin to a twisted knot. Contorted to show the contempt and disdain that much of the Kurakai held for the Mages, his face had now all but dropped the feigned, practiced look of diplomacy.

Kastadel's words calmed him though, and as the Master stepped forward, he slunk to the side and listened.

The room shimmered with life as Kastadel embraced her. He felt so fondly of his students, and would impart all he had for them to succeed. She was his brightest and most powerful, and despite her youth, he had hope.

As she spoke he calmly listened and held the spark of mischief from showing in his eyes. He knew of her mistrust of Corvus. These were times to be careful where trust was placed.

"Ahh yes I see, I see," he nodded and stroked his beard. Playing along, he pretended to be interested in the migratory patterns of the Yellow Winged Wilawuk and what cloud patterns were best for beginning the farming cycle.

When she was finished, he smiled and looked at Corvus, "The Kurakai have sent their finest to assist us." Turning back to her, "Not to worry Reira, I am fine."

His eyes sparkled but there was a hint of sadness in them; something undefinable. Much of his life was a mystery even to the closest of his students. All that they knew were what he chose to reveal, and at this moment he was being very careful.

"Corvus, please notify the others I will join them shortly." He smiled with a calm and diplomatic tone.

With that, the head Alchemist of the Kurakai, studied them both for a moment, then feigned a reverent bow before exiting the room. The massive doors to the inner chambers closed behind him.

Turning to Reira, Kastadel's tone changed dramatically. With piercing eyes, he laid his hand on her shoulder, "We haven't much time. So listen carefully."

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #8 on: July 10, 2009, 06:17:50 AM »
When Kastadel turned to her, Reira frowned, relieved but suddenly concerned. This was the man she remembered as her teacher - but obviously, something was very wrong, if he had felt it necessary to wait until Corvus was out of earshot and out of the room before he could speak frankly with her. That meant things in the capital had gotten worse, not better, in the time she'd gone... and it also meant that the Alchemists had some position of power now, that they hadn't held before.

"What's happened while I was gone?" Reira asked softly, her eyes widening at the urgency in her teacher's eyes. "Why was I told that you were ill, and abed - and why does Corvus now come here, as if he holds the right to order me around?" Anger filled her voice then, anger and indignation at how he had spoken towards her. "I am the only student of the King's Archmage; the only people who have the right to order me around are you, and His Majesty."

About to ask more, she bit her lip, trying to calm herself. "What has happened? What's changed? Did you send me away knowing that things would become like this, when I could have been of some help to you?" Her voice shook with worry, and anger; she couldn't believe that Kastadel might not have had some inkling that things might become as bad as this - whatever had happened in her absence. He was trying to protect her again.

"What are those self-styled hack alchemists doing here?"

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #9 on: August 02, 2009, 11:13:38 AM »
Flooded with her questions, he calmly raised his hand and smiled. Her energy was a marvel and something he admired.

The light in the room slowly faded to a low blue engulfed in shadow as the expression on his face shifted.

"These are dark times my dear Reira. The deaths in Myste do not fall lightly on the ears of the King who now suspects conspiracy." He paused. "At the moment his eye is turned on us."

He turned and faced the darkened hall with a frown. "I've sent the students away until this storm has passed. Melfyridor is no longer safe."

With a look of restrained frustration, he looked down at the stone floor lightly illuminated by the soft blue glow of the torches by the Masters chambers. "Corvus, was the King's idea. He felt that the Kurakai working with the Mages could help find the cure and cause of this epidemic. As such we are attempting to do so. Although I suspect Corvus' intentions."

Shaking his head and sighing, he remembered the cheer and strength the great hall once had. It pained him to see it in such shadow.

Catching himself he turned to her with a warm smile and placed his hand on her shoulder, "Tell me, other than migratory patterns and cloud formations, what did you discover?"
« Last Edit: August 02, 2009, 11:18:27 AM by Kurzyk »

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2009, 04:09:51 PM »
Reira inhaled, closing her eyes and smelling the familiar scent of herbs, mint, and magic from Kastadel's tower. She ignored the painful reminder of the Kurakai's presence - an acrid, sour smell that didn't seem to belong in a place of living things and magic. But even with that feeling of "wrongness" present, she could sense the decades, centuries of magic that filled every crevice of this place, creating the perfect environment for students and mages to work their craft.

It calmed her, to be back here, especially when she had discovered what she had in Myste.

"The disease did not begin unnaturally, but the mutations and abnormalities that I found when I examined and healed the townspeople could not have come about without magical help." Reira swallowed, her throat tight with foreboding and her belly sick with unease. "From what I could tell, the epidemic likely began as the winter plague. After healing it in several-dozen people and examining those who came in contact and died from the disease..."

Again, the dread welled up in her eyes. Reira shook her head slightly to clear her uncertainty and her unwillingness to admit what seemed like evil, and then continued. "Somebody tampered with the disease and made it something that killed, Master Kastadel."

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2009, 11:56:16 AM »
He listened as a frown wore on the blue light that flickered against his face.

"Very interesting. It is as I feared." He thought for a moment and looked at her, examining her with fierce scrutiny. He always thought of her as a daughter and with great care. She was his finest student, loyal, dedicated and brilliant beyond her years. If anyone was capable it was she.

"Reira, are you familiar with Varien Moracryn? He resides on the isle of Mazadryn. He was once a student of mine." He stopped and looked at a faded mark in one of the great tapestries that hung on the wall near them.

"Go to him. This is not only for your safety." Stepping close he whispered in a tone that could stop a funeral march. "You may not have heard, but the King's youngest son has recently fallen ill. We believe it to be the disease you describe that afflicted Myste."

Looking around his shoulder, his eyes reflected immense worry and concern. "The Kurakai believe that it was a chemical compound from Ginsum, an herb only found on Mazadryn, that may have been what was used. We don't know how it was transmitted, but we suspect Varien."

He sighed and ran his hand along his head. "Such a willful boy. I remember the talent that flowed through him, but his insistence on disobeying rules..."
He shook his head. "I scarcely believe he would be so foolish, but we must be sure."

Then in a moment that blackened the clouds over the pale moonlight that cast through the open windows, it seemed all life stopped in the great hall. The torches flickered but seemed to move slower and in an odd rhythm that danced in unison to a distant shadow.

He rested his hand on her shoulder and leaned in close. "I will not be among us forever. There will come a time when this burden will rest on you Reira."

He smiled and for a brief moment the light on his neck showed a faded green, sickly and striking. Turning his head to cover it with his beard, "Go to Varien under the guise of learning from him. In his arrogance he'll never suspect that you are there to investigate."

Offline CaeliTopic starter

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #12 on: December 29, 2009, 08:56:38 AM »
The only reaction she gave to the name of his former student was a mildly amused raised eyebrow. "You never speak of him, sir. What you have mentioned, leads me to believe that he is no better than a common womanizer with fewer morals than a thief, the difference only being that he has magic that could make firecrackers dance if he got into a temper." She spoke the words with the ease of familiarity; obviously, Kastadel had mentioned this former student of his more than once, though not in the most glowing of terms. Still, even Reira could see that he cared about Varien - if only in a roundabout, gruff way.

The mention of ginsum, however, wiped the amusement from her lips. "Ginsum?" It was a precious herb - valued by healers for its strong medicinal properties, but equally valued by those who served darker interests for the powerful poisons and toxins. Kastadel had only ever mentioned the name of the herb once, but the occasion had stuck fast in Reira's memory, because he had been scared a ghostly white by her curiosity of an unlabeled bottle in one of his private workrooms almost a dozen years past. She'd been only six at the time, unable to discern why this bottle among others had no label, and had taken pains to pull over a stool and open the jar to sniff at the contents, and see if she could not figure it out.

After a thorough, angry scolding driven half by fear, she'd taken care never to wander into his workrooms without his approval.

Reira looked ahead. If this involved ginsum, it had to be serious... especially if the alchemists believed Kastadel to be involved, so much so that they poisoned him (nothing they said would convince her otherwise) with their concoctions and watched him in his own home. The King would not distrust Kastadel - but it was not too difficult to believe that some of his courtiers, eager to find a traitor among his most trusted, might stoop so low to frame the old man...

"I will go on the morrow. Sleep easy, Master Kastadel," Reira murmured, kissing him affectionately on the cheek before making her way upstairs, each footstep uncommonly loud in the silent tower. She could hear the echoes of her progress up the stairs - as well as the soft, ghostly shuffle of footsteps behind, as someone followed her to her room.

Offline Kurzyk

Re: Of Fire and Frost [Kurzyk & Caeli]
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2010, 08:13:02 PM »
Darkness tilted the glow of the hall, until only the moonlight faded through high windows, casting long shadows across the floor. The few remaining mages fell asleep in their respective rooms, libraries and wherever else sleep found them. For even in a castle under seige, sleep came to the weary.

Kastadel heard her stomp up the stairs. With a chuckle he remembered that sound and how it used to irritate some of the fussier mages, causing a few to drop their books in grumbles. His eyes wandered around his room to the doorway.

"Yes Corvus?"

The slumped figure leaning against the archway stepped into the light of the room. Beady eyes looked at the great wizard then turned down in shifty distraction.

"Do you think it wise to send ... her?" His voice was oily, like the skin of a snake about to shed. "I mean after all, she's..."

"... someone I trust implicitly, Corvus." He interrupted with a smile. "The hour is late. Best we get our rest. We have much to do at day break."

With a sigh and a slow nod the alchemist turned and walked from the Master's chambers. Stopping in the hallway he thought for a moment, grinned and looked up. She would be close to sleep soon... perfect.

Turning towards the student's staircase, he heard her far up ahead. Quickly he crept, stepping each foot as carefully as he could and staying in the shadows. With any luck it just might work and with Kastadel showing the sickness, he would be weary ... and wouldn't know.

Her room was near he thought and decided to stay a little bit back and very still until it was time to act. As she reached her room, he stayed in the shadows, watched and waited.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2010, 09:10:07 PM by Kurzyk »