Conversations with a Raven

Caldyr flits from rooftop to rooftop, watching for followers. Sara silently makes her way towards the place she sleeps at what passes for night in the Neath. First, however, is a necessary side trip, not too far off from the Spire-Emporium she calls home - her Premises at the Bazaar. Caldyr perches himself upon her shoulder as she fishes the right key out of a pocket.

Inside the place looks rather barren, meeting only the minimal furniture requirements and not much decoration. This is fine - no one lives here, or remembers much of their visits. Only a single path is open, the rest of the rooms being securely locked. There is just one who knows what lies beyond these doorways, or where the keys to unlock them hide. The white raven perches himself upon a seat, waiting silently. Sara progresses down the solitary path available to her.

The end of the hall leads to a moderately more decorated room, a little small in size. Inside is a bookcase, filled with various volumes of an academic nature. There is also a desk, containing various office supplies. While there is a carpet investigating underneath it would yield no results. Nothing lies behind the bookcase, and the desk hides no secrets. Sara lights a candle and waits. Soon the sound of mechanisms reaches her ear. She looks in their direction, and the far wall slides down most of the way, the remainder being easy to step over. Behind lies a door, with a vague hint of irrigo playing at its dark edges. She tests it - alas, locked. Fortunately, Caldyr soon arrives with the key. He ceremoniously places it upon the floor, leaving just as swiftly as he arrived.

Beyond the door and through the irrigo veils is a private shrine. Here is the place of forgotten Rites, forgotten Memories, burned Paperwork. The meeting and its location is forgotten. The information provided only just prior to the meeting is forgotten. The card stating &quotit is time&quot consigned to a small flame, its ashes gathered up and placed in her bag to be dealt with later. Sara leaves the room in a slight haze of familiar confusion. She then acts upon the one bit of information she is allowed, moving the bookcase to the side to spy a small hole in what remains of the false wall. She uses this to slide it back upwards until she can do so by merely pushing upwards against it, stopping when she hears it click into place.

Sara returns the key to Caldyr when she encounters him in the dark hallway. She continues onward, not looking to see where Caldyr hides it. They leave the premises together, Caldyr resuming his duty as lookout.

&quotSo what did I learn?&quot asks Sara, now that the two were back to the safety of the Bazaar. She empties the contents of her bag, inspecting them curiously. There’s little point; anything that would be related has been lost. She is not allowed to know the full story.

&quotNothing of importance,&quot spoke Caldyr in response, perched nearby.

Sara tilts her head, puzzled. Nothing? How odd. &quotHm. So is there a plan?&quot

Caldyr nods cheerfully. Ah, something nice, then. &quotWe are going to start a fundraiser to help the needy of Flowerdene.&quot

&quotHuh, that’s…a bit out of the ordinary. Who am I working for, again?&quot Realizing what she said, Sara makes a face and shakes her head. &quotSorry, dumb question. So, Flowerdene, huh? Well, can’t deny that they are some of the neediest. Church work, I guess. The Great Game might be a decent source of funds too, if I contact the right peo- what’s this?&quot Caldyr had passed a transcribed message to her. &quotA big conflict in Spite?&quot

The raven nods. &quotYou should seek information in one of the places listed. Be sure to also ask who within Flowerdene needs the most help, and what supplies they require.&quot

&quotOh, okay.&quot She looks the note over, memorizing the addresses. &quotSo that’s it, right? Charity work due to this vague conflict on the horizon?&quot Caldyr nods, and moves to his perch to rest for the night.

Sara mulls the matter over in her mind as she gets ready to settle down herself. While the charity work is a nice little change of pace she can’t help being nervous. What is about to happen, and on what scale? Sleep takes her away neither swiftly nor soundly.

edited by Sara Hysaro on 11/5/2017

“You could have told me it was a detective’s office.” An irritated voice voices her complaints almost as soon as she enters to her home. The target of her frustrations perches himself upon the sofa. “It would have made things far less awkward.”

“You were the one who chose that location, and chose to walk through the door even after seeing the sign.” Caldyr gives Sara an amused look, not paying the harsh tone any mind.

She paces back and forth in front of the sofa, arms crossed. “Well, I was hardly going to go over to her office in Veilgarden just to discover that it was even less appropriate for discussing these sorts of things.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about it. I’d not send you blindly into a situation where you could catastrophically fail.” Sara rolls her eyes. “What did you discover?”

Her frustrations vented, Sara sits down upon the sofa. She displays the newspaper article detailing Eli’s trial. “Besides this? Not much. She mostly just talked about poverty and charity. Fair enough, I suppose.”

Caldyr hops over to gaze upon the paper, nodding. “Yes, that would be most apparently relevant to your interests. It would be alarming if she didn’t center her conversation on the fundraiser.”

She gives the newspaper another glance, growing agitated in anticipation of her next task. “I’ll need to speak to Eli.”

“Now that is something that can catastrophically fail.”

“Tell me about it. I know I’ve spoken to him before, but I’m certainly not looking forward to speaking to an insurgence leader on what will have to be a location of his choosing to keep him from being alarmed. I know it’s just charity work, but he’s gotta be living in my world right now.” She sighs, and lies down, legs hanging over the arm of the sofa. “I don’t suppose you could arrange a meeting?”

Caldyr stretches his wings, looking around the room. “I could, but it would be unwise. In any case I won’t have to - he keeps his location advertised. You need only go to the gate and request to speak to him about the fundraiser.”

Sara groans, placing a hand on her forehead. Great. “Actually, about that fundraiser. The detective suggested using the money to make some long lasting improvement to the community. Thoughts?”

“A nice idea.” Caldyr cocks his head, thinking it over. “It would have to be a side project, not a replacement for the supply drive. Something you are doing for the sake of doing something nice. Do you wish to spend time and energy on charity work for its own sake?”

A long pause. “…it would give the world something to remember of me, should I fail.”

“Only while the city lasts.” Caldyr reminds her. “London won’t last forever, and once it ends there won’t be anyone to remember this kind act. I ask again - do you wish to do charity work for its own sake?”

Sara sits up, thinking on it. How much longer does London have to go? Not long if the whole city gets wrapped up in revolt. This might buy some time, perhaps, though she doubts she needs to be concerned about the next city’s fall. After a little while of thought she smiles. “No. But perhaps I can have some fun with it.”

Caldyr nods slightly, with a distant look in his eyes. “There are worse motivations.”

That matter settled, Sara stands up and walks over to her desk, taking out a map of London she had made herself a few years back. Caldyr flies over to her, pointing out the exact location. While the prospect of going into an insurgent’s base is terrifying, there was no helping it. She leaves for Flowerdene tomorrow.

The knight takes the rook, only a scant few pieces left on the board; Caldyr tilts his head in thought, expression inscrutable as he contemplates his next move. Sara watches him for a moment, eager to see if she fell into a cunning trap. Apparently not - he continues to study the board. Sara rises from her chair to stretch her legs, knowing it could be a while before the raven comes to a decision. He barely notices.

Her thoughts turn swiftly back to her trip, eager to be off from this city to enjoy a much needed respite from London’s stresses. The Unterzee is just as wrought with perils, but at least they’re usually different. She draws back the curtain to look over the city. Did it seem different than usual? Though nothing was plainly evident, Sara couldn’t shake that feeling. Even Caldyr turned to look through the window, though his thoughts were still on the game.

&quotBrrr.&quot She crosses her arms, feeling a sudden chill. Did a migratory swarm of Frost-Moths pass over the Bazaar? She certainly couldn’t see any. Perhaps it’s merely a symptom of the Neath’s pseudo-seasons. She elects to put the kettle on, suddenly aware of her thirst. &quotTea?&quot

No reply. Must still be in the game. She sets two mugs down on the counter just in case; he shouldn’t be too much longer. Thoughts edge up beside her, tickling her mind - scouting for weaknesses. Did the room seem brighter? Back into the dining room. The light - it dazzles, its seductive lure capturing all attention. Game? What Game? All there is is UN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN THE SUN TH

Sara blinks. The light has faded. The two look at each other, muddled thoughts preventing conversation for the moment. There is a pen and some parchment upon the board; the pieces scattered across the floor. How much time has passed? What was written, and for whom?

A flare of light.

edited by Sara Hysaro on 11/5/2017