Title: Officially Piratical
Description: Dengeld Castle, Day 0
Sephiroth - March 27, 2011 01:52 AM (GMT)
Location: Araun's Office, Dengeld Castle
Time: Day 0, late evening
Characters: Araun, Vuelo, Rocia should she want to join
[Continued from "Smiling On the Job".]
Araun's office was situated east of the throne room, on the second floor of the castle. Outside was a corridor, as well as a landing for the staircase that spiralled up from one of the hall's antechambers.
The office had two doors; one in the east wall, which led to his private quarters, and one in the south wall, that led to the corridor outside. The rest of the furnishings comprised two bookcase against the east wall; a low table against that supported various bric-a-brac (including an ancient globe, supposedly showing the entire world); two chairs and a stool for guests, arrayed in front of the desk; Araun's own stool behind the desk; and a brazier to the right of the desk as one entered. On the north wall were three lancet windows, also tightly shuttered.
The strategist was currently seated on his stool -- or rather a backless chair, complete with armrests -- playing a chess match against himself. Besides the board, there was an inkwell with a stopper in it, and that was all.
Araun wondered if Vuelo liked chess. He somehow doubted it; the fellow seemed a bit too impatient. Not enough to ruin his performance as an assassin (or a mole), but not the kind to devote his mind to analysis and planning.
The Aegyl was just settling into the end-game when he heard footsteps in the corridor outside. Concentration broken, he looked up, smile flickering onto his face. Then it fled, as he went back to calculating his next move until the door opened.
((Yeah, I figure you can just play the guards. Bangaa and Elf, remember.~))
Kuja - March 27, 2011 08:53 PM (GMT)
"Right this way, don't keep him waiting," The elf guard took post on one side of the door, seeming uncertain as to whether he should enter before, after, or not at all.
Vuelo gave a polite, if not unnerving, smile to the elf before extending it to the Bangaa as he brought the door open. The assassin took a moment to observe the room for exits and points of restriction. It was nothing spectacular or even remotely satisfying as a place to do business. Still, there was one thing in the room that was both a comfort and an expected luxury. There was no avoiding the cliche of a chessboard in the quarters of a strategist or a government leader. Though, in this case, Vuelo was willing to assume it actually came under some use - rather than housing a "half done" game that would never finish.
"A game of wit being played alone?" Vuelo commented on the situation as he marched over to take a seat across from the sole player. The heaviness of his new, knee-length leather boots were something to get accustomed to, but the flow of his movements remained fluid. Comfortably taking his seat, Vuelo itched and scratched absently at the rest of his new garments. A rough woolen shirt, open down the front, which he had taken liberty of ripping the sleeves off of. It offset the violet, silk pants he wore in the most awkward way possible, but something needed to match his water-soaked scarf which he refused to take off.
"Either you have twice the wit, or no wit at all," Vuelo waited for the Aegyl to take a move, curious as to whether he could manage to jump in. Chess definitely wasn't his favorite game to play, but he had done it before on military assignments. Perhaps it was rats trying to grow into men, but the infantry of Krystal had a certain desire and knack for the game.
Sephiroth - March 27, 2011 09:27 PM (GMT)
Araun's mouth quirked a moment at the man's comment, but then he shrugged it off with an amused "Hm." We shall see, my cocky young assassin. He set his fingers on a black rook, and shifted it over to the white king's file. "Check," he said, looking at Vuelo with dancing eyes. For the black pieces were facing the Aegyl, and the white his guest.
He looked back at the board. "I would offer to let you join, but it is over for white," he said. "Mate in one turn -- three if black slips now." He reached over and tipped the white king to its side.
"But I must apologise," he continued, as if to dismiss the game while he settled back on his seat. "I did not think it would take so long -- or that you would be so quick." His gaze slid to the dripping scarf. Curious. But he looked back Vuelo's face with comment. "Now, back to business. You asked my name; it is Araun." He dipped his head in a sitting bow.
Kuja - March 27, 2011 09:40 PM (GMT)
"A fitting name, I would guess," Vuelo commented emptily as his eyes fell onto the small bow presented. What an interesting gesture to give someone who has come into your home uninvited. Without an ounce of courtesy or hesitation Vuelo carefully brought the white king back upon his feet. The main problem he had with Chess was its reliance on very two-dimensional strategy. Perhaps it was the dragoon training that insisted a third element, but it seemed a fools game to think in a simpler reality than his own. The concept of chess was similar to fighting however, in the roots of how to win.
"I don't often meet a lot of people, so I'd have no fancy in what a proper name should be." Vuelo seemed intent on the board for a moment before he absently tipped the white king back over.
"I make a much better tool than a conversationalist," Vuelo crossed his arms and focused his gaze on Araun, "The tool of your queen, if she is willing to put me to use."
Sephiroth - March 28, 2011 01:18 AM (GMT)
Araun raised an eyebrow. "Fitting enough." Nobody had ever commented on his name before. He wondered about it, then decided to take the man's explanation. For what's worth.
The reference to the queen brought forth a small laugh. Araun didn't know if the irony was intended, but the chess set was right there. And, indeed, Rocia was aptly symbolised by the queen. Powerful, but not in control. Not really. Though Araun could never take Dengeld away from her -- if he had wanted, which he didn't.
"Rocia will likely not notice you, unless you want to sail on her ship." His mouth quirked again. "Or do something extraordinary." He could see this youth doing all sorts of things extraordinarily badly. But, there was that air about him -- he might do the things that counted extraordinarily well. "Hm. But in the meantime, I will be the one to decide if you are a good tool.
"So, tell me: you mentioned sanctuary. Did the tame wolves have more teeth than you expected?" He reached out for took his fan from where it had been lying alongside the chess board and the row of captured white pieces. For now he held it lay, resting the feathers on his left hand. It gave him a strange sense of satisfaction to stroke the plumage: the phoenix was a mighty bird, some said divine, but now its power lay trapped in the hands of a far humbler bird. His way, maybe, of asserting brains over brawn.
Kuja - March 28, 2011 02:02 AM (GMT)
"I have killed a lot of men, more than I can count, no where near a battlefield. The gravity of my crimes, only crimes because of the absence of war, seemed inescapable at first. The rumors of my existence spread for a time in the more settled lands and my handler abandoned me," Vuelo mentioned lightly, never losing his snake-like smile. If anyone actually had information on the work he had done until now as a black operative then he probably would be abandoned by the Marquis. As direct and flashy as some people might describe his methods, he was still an enigma in the most honest sense.
"No teeth, just tails to be tucked between their legs," Vuelo's smile faded away as he began to examine the fan Araun was playing. It was a very unique weapon, and most certainly a weapon at that. It was not the first time that Vuelo had heard of mystics using fans or other strange weapons to augment their magical prowess. It was an amazing hint as to the abilities Araun wielded, actually. Why did it seem that the strategists were all mages of some sort?
Sephiroth - March 30, 2011 01:56 PM (GMT)
"I see." I've never heard of an assassin named Vuelo Eterno. Or of one that uses a spear, for that matter. Despite his doubts, Araun's smile did not waver. "Yet you ran from them in the end, did you not? Or should I say fly?"
He raised the fan to his chest, and began lightly moving it, as he had in the audience hall. "Tell me, Vuelo, what is your style? Most assassins choose ninjutsu, but I have never known a ninja to wield a spear."
Kuja - March 30, 2011 08:59 PM (GMT)
"I'm direct in the most indirect way possible. At least, that is how my methods have been described before. Ninjutsu and magic makes something simple, like death, into something mystical and complicated." Vuelo looked around the room for a while, his stagnant expression hiding his desire to leave. There was nothing incredibly useful to gain from this interrogator anymore, and revealing his secrets wasn't supposed to be on the menu. Honestly, Vuelo thought as he turned back to Araun, it would be much easier to manage if he would've been intercepted by the queen somehow.
"Direct combat fares much better, and allows me to function on a normal battlefield as a soldier," Vuelo adjusted his wet scarf a little. It was a habit he had begun to develop on purpose, to make him seem more human and approachable, "Though I prefer to be in the air. The victims and spectators might call it flight, but it is really just good jumping."
Vuelo tilted his head a little, resting it in the palm of his left hand. There was definitely more to his technique than just jumping, but the fundamentals of Dragoon training were there. Not that he felt the need to expose more opportunity to his future targets just for the sake of conversation, "My style, simply put, is being effective."
Sephiroth - March 31, 2011 03:59 AM (GMT)
"Direct in the most indirect way possible." Araun closed his eyes, quite content to let Vuelo see he thought his phrasing ridiculous. He did, however, extract one salient point from the man's puffing. He opened his eyes, his smile diminishing until it was just a musing remnant.
"So, you're a Dragoon. Would you happen to be part Esper? Or perhaps one of your effects possesses the Wind element." Very few people were so parochial as to mistake a normal Dragoon's Jump for flight, no matter how impressive. It would be something to make note of. It was also possible that Vuelo was a fully-fledged dragoon, thoguh had he been Araun would have expected one so set on self-display to have flaunted his wyvern.
Of course, concealing the full extent of his abilities would be consistent with a mole. Araun still allowed for that theory, but he viewed it as even more unlikely than he had. His story rang true with his character, and Araun could well believe that not even Krystal and Arretium could stomach his particular blend of obvious villainy and arrogance.
Kuja - March 31, 2011 06:59 AM (GMT)
"Only the person I serve has the right to know my abilities, I'd think." Vuelo shifted his head to the other hand, not particularly affected by Araun's physical responses. He could feel himself being burdened by the continuance of conversation, and his fingers were itching for this espionage thing to be over. Yet, sadly, Vuelo could be stationed here for months before the Marquis managed to send word that the assignment was over. If every minute with this Aegyl felt like an hour, imagine the length of time spent in just a month here.
"Perhaps you could permit me to see the actual authority around here now? While I find your inspection to be very entertaining," Vuelo adjusted his scarf again, this time to ease his thoughts a little. The worst thing he could probably do would be to challenge Araun's importance or entertainment value. The Aegyl might very well rile himself back into conversation, "I came here to see the queen, after all. Call me impatient, but I'd like to be down for the night soon."
Vuelo flashed his snake-like smile one last time, "The journey here was a long one, after all."
Sephiroth - March 31, 2011 07:14 AM (GMT)
Vuelo was doomed to disappointment if he expected Araun to change his attitude. Well, maybe his smile grew a bit a more. And he did laugh, lighter but longer than before. "If Rocia were here, don't you think she would have seen you by now?" he asked. "Not that it matters; you will be working for me as often as for her, if not more so. The queen has little use for assassins, subtle or otherwise.
"So," he continued mildly, "the sooner you answer my questions, the sooner you can go to sleep."
Kuja - March 31, 2011 11:55 PM (GMT)
"I imagine if she wasn't, you'd have prepared a little more defense for yourself." Vuelo remembered people sighing in situations like this. Sighing was something of an oddity to read at first, but the first time he saw someone sigh was when his mother died. He remembered, with utmost clarity, standing over her with a sword in his hands. At the time he thought she sighed in defeat, but it had become obvious from his inheritance that it was a sigh of pride in a son. Perhaps that was why he found the sigh something of a curiosity, and a difficulty to perform properly.
"If I were to strike you down now this keep would surely fall to chaos without her. Perhaps you hide me from her attention so that you can..." Vuelo sneezed, cursing his mortal weakness to the worse of weather. He brushed some hair that had moved into his eyes during the event and continued, "Perhaps you are a traitor, is my point."
Sephiroth - April 1, 2011 12:14 AM (GMT)
Defense? Araun wondered. His smile faded for a moment. From what? Then he put it back in place. Either the man simply didn't understand what a mage was capable of, or else the spear was just a bluff and he had hidden weapons about him. The Aegyl doubted that the guards had searched him (or watche dhim change), so the latter was a real possibility. However, if the boy had wanted him dead and had the skills to do it, he could have struck already without so much chatter.
Araun raised his fan, shielding his face from the sneeze. He did not need to catch a cold from the Hume. He lowered it to reveal a more genuine smile: amused, once more, by Vuelo's absurd assertion.
"Perhaps I am," he agreed, blandly amicable. "Regardless, you have yet to answer my questions. Indeed, your sudden shyness about your abilities makes me wonder if you really ahve any at all."
Kuja - April 1, 2011 12:36 AM (GMT)
"Doubting my abilities does not make them any less real or deadly. To do so just as an attempt to goad someone would be a foolish thing to do. After all I let your guards bring me in here, strip me of my weapon, and watch my every move. Though even these eyes of mine are more attentive than theirs." Vuelo smiled just wider than normal, showing some of his teeth. This Aegyl was persistent, but he did have the advantage of area and weapon. Perhaps Vuelo should have been a monk like his father, as he couldn't help but think how useful it would be to be effective without weapons.
Still, his father fell to the same blade as his mother; certainly spears were a better choice. Vuelo shrugged his shoulders, hoping it would express a forfeit, "I can control the wind to augment my natural abilities. Making strikes swifter, making jumps longer, or even attacking from a distance."
"Not nearly as destructive as fire perhaps," Vuelo glanced at the fan Araun had used to shield himself earlier, "but I make due."
Sephiroth - April 1, 2011 01:10 AM (GMT)
"Mm." Araun could say the same about doubting his loyalty, but it was not all that important. What might he have been trying to goad me into, though? He was tempted to ask that, but decided to refrain. There would be time to explore that later.
He shook his head as he saw the glance. Lifted the fan again, towards Vuelo as if offering it for examination, he asked, "Do you recognise it? I understand it was once quite famous. A gift, so they say, from a foreign power to the Emperors of old." He resumed fanning himself with it. "As you see, I have put its power to a better use. As I will yours. You have not entirely answered my question, Vuelo Eterno, but it is late, and you are cold and tired. We can continue our discussion tomorrow."
He stood up, and called to the corridor. "Cirgon! Tarmak!" The door opened, and the Bangaa stuck his snout in. "Escort Master Vuelo back to his room. It will be his quarters from now on." He favoured the assassin with a very satisfied smile. "Welcome to Dengeld." The outlines of the shutters were suddenly displayed in bright white as an explosion fo thunder tore through the room. Once the echoes had diminished Araun continued, unperturbed, "I trust you will find what you seek. In the meantime, have a very god night."
"Come along, shorteh," ordered the Bangaa curtly, standing back out of the doorway.
Kuja - April 1, 2011 07:55 AM (GMT)
"Thank you for giving me leave. Perhaps we can discuss more tomorrow, over breakfast," Vuelo gave a small bow to Araun, despite his words lacking honesty. There was no thanks deserved and no desire to continue their discussion. However, if it meant that he could obtain some manner of food, the situation could at least be tolerable, "I appreciate you giving me accommodations for the night."
Vuelo turned his back on the Aegyl, feeling uncertain on whether he really should. Strategists were about as moral as the usual assassin; a blade to the spine would be no surprise. Yet, it seemed, there was enough security in his mission so far not to worry too heavily. He would just make sure to secure his room before sleeping, to prevent break ins as well as unwelcome "hospitality." Most men enjoyed free women, but Vuelo could honestly say he enjoyed his health more. Not that he expected such luxuries from a nearly barbaric fortification as this.
"Let us go then," Vuelo flashed a wide, thin smile to the Bangaa. The smile persisted as he slowly opened his left eye wide enough to reveal its almost lifeless cold, "If I get anymore restless you may just turn up missing."