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Author Topic: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)  (Read 146 times)

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Offline Kingfisher

Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« on: February 06, 2018, 09:38:30 AM »

Serendipity was indeed a land of magic, and nowhere was this more clear than it was in the royal capital.  People affiliated with the city's colleges could practice their arts openly, without fear; merchants sold trinkets they claimed were enchanted; even some of the architecture seemed impossible, unless it was somehow reinforced with some kind of spellwork.

For Alexis, it all had seemed so odd, seeing such things expressed honestly and openly.  She had grown up in Connlaoth, raised to believe that magic was a wicked thing, destined to be stamped out by the might of Angsar.  She had outgrown such nonsense but old habits die hard, as they say.

She had come to the city in search of information.  Mordecaism, while rare, was seen as a gift in her homeland, was beginning to prove inconvenient.  She was the only Adhara in her company, but recruited mages under her command proved painfully hampered by her power.  She hoped that the libraries of Arca would helper to perhaps reign in her abilities; or perhaps at least find an objective perspective that could lead her in the right direction...

Whenever she went anywhere in this country, she had to be accompanied by a pair of her subordinates.  It made her stand out, but that seemed better than to risk interfering with other peoples magic.  Dale and Russ, they were called: Russ was  clad in his black and red doublet with a braid of coppery hair falling to his neck, Dale was shaved bald, had olive skin and draped a cloak over his left shoulder.  Loyally, they bullied their way down the middle of the street, opening a path for the mercenary.  A necessary evil, sadly.

At the moment, they stood about three meters ahead and behind her, marking the range of her curse as she entered one of the more mundane libraries in the city.  Alexis now stood amidst rows and rows of books on magic.  Mordecaism had long since stopped being a "Gift from God" for her so this seemed the best place to find...something... to put her own powers in check.  That was her hope as she skimmed through the volumes of texts before her.

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2018, 03:25:10 PM »
Arca. It had been many years since he'd been here. And that last visit had not been in a corporeal form- a pity, there was something to the air, the smell, the feeling of the city that he would have missed.

But he was no here simply to sight-see, at least not exactly. While his cottage in Hyoite was perfect for its solitude, that was also the one major drawback of his chosen home; if he wanted to experience anything new, he had quite a long distance to travel.  So, in lieu of setting off as some sort of gung-ho adventurer, he'd chosen a library.

The best way to travel, in his opinion.

And Serendipity had always had a special place in his heart, the light, the color, the life, the people...not to mention their obsession with learning. Really, if he was going to spend a few days surrounded by books he couldn't have picked a better city.

And it seemed he was not the only one interested in this rather out-of-the-way building; Joseph felt the mordecai the moment she entered the library, and he chanced a sideways glance up in her direction. They were two of only a handful of patrons, it wasn't so odd that her appearance drew his attention. Not to mention that of her entourage.

He sighed and lowered his eyes back to his book, attempting to ignore the air of "soldier" that radiated from the three of them.

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #2 on: February 06, 2018, 04:41:05 PM »
Almost a half hour and no luck.  Alexis was growing frustrated.  She had come in, looking for research on Mordecai and nothing seemed to be going her way.  Whatever Serenian reasearchers knew about Mordecai, it was not in this section.  She did not want to believe that Serenians did not seek to understand such a power as could nullify magic, but such assumptions begged the question: if Mordecaism was not magic what was it?

Giving the books an irritable "tut," she turned away and noticed a peculiar man at a table.  If someone had asked her, she would not have been able to tell them why she noticed him.  He was, after all, quite ordinary looking as far as she could tell.  But something about him drew her in.  Years of suspicion gave her an answer she only half believed; magic.  And if his, aura was magic, it seemed to ignore her condition.  I seemed impossible, and on some level, she did not believe it...but for every rule, there was an exception.

Cautiously, she approached the man, her mail skirt jingling with each step, waving off her men as she did.  "I'm sorry to bother you," she said.  "I am having trouble finding a particular book and I haven't seen a librarian all day."

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #3 on: February 06, 2018, 06:08:56 PM »
Joseph raised his head to eye her over the top of his book, then flicked his gaze to her hovering guards.

"I'm afraid I'm likely no more familiar with the layout of this building than you," he said softly, exerting a bit of effort to keep the deep thrum of power out of his voice. He hadn't actually spoken with a human in some time. Offering a smile, he added, "But I'd be happy to help you search. As far as I am aware there are no librarians here, this section of the city is woefully understaffed." A few charms to prevent the books from being removed from the building seemed to be the best the staff could do.

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2018, 02:08:30 PM »
Letting out a sigh, Alexis admited, "I was afraid of that."  Looking back to the man, she tried to explain.  "Maybe you can help me.  I don't know if it's a subject that is particularly well studied but I was looking for literature on Mordecai.  Particularly ways to limit or even supress their power."  She neglected to mention why she sought such information, unaware that her new acquaintance knew what she was already.

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2018, 02:41:56 PM »
His eyebrows raised. Interesting... "Well, mordecai aren't typically celebrated in Serendipity the way they are in Connlaoth, or even Essyrn- but let's see what we can find, shall we?"

He stood from the table he'd been seated at, carefully marking his place in his book and leaving it on the table.

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2018, 07:00:23 PM »
"I figured w-they weren't too popular."  Alexis knew that her attempt to cover her slip was probably a waste of time.  If he were as smart as he looked, he would have caught her and understood what she had almost said.  "That's why I figured to try here first."  Admittedly, it had its uses, but when she could not look into a medical tent for fear of killing her own men...

Joining the man, Alexis tried to explain.  "I came in assuming Mordecaism was just another school of magic, but that seems to be incorrect.  Maybe if I had an idea what it actually was, I might know what shelf to even start on."  Every great quest had to begin somewhere.  The mercenary turned to look at the books in an adjacent case.

All the while, the pair of guards continued to wander, supporting their commander in any way they could...

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2018, 07:40:25 AM »
Joseph frowned and looked sidelong at the woman as he nodded to nearby shelf. "Forgive the assumption, but you're Connlaothian?" He huffed a bit and rolled his eyes- of course he knew exactly what she was, where she came from, but it wouldn't do to let her know that just yet. "Far be it from me to judge how people choose to live...but even if your lot decided to vilify magic, one would at least think they'd do a better job of educating people on it."

But of course they wouldn't, because that would mean admitting that magic was a natural phenomenon, not an evil they had to stamp out. And that would set their whole belief system rocking out of orbit.

Ignorance truly was the most dangerous weapon a government could weild.

With another shake of his head, Joseph explained, "Mordecaism is in fact the opposite of magic, the absence of it- just as there is really no such thing as hot and cold, but rather the transfer of energy into or out of an object. You can think of mages and mordecai in a similar way." He paused at a shelf and pulled down a rather thick, dusty volume.

"Start here." He handed the book to her with a smile. "Basic magical theory. If you can gain a better understanding of that, I imagine your search will become easier."

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2018, 08:06:08 PM »
Alexis chuckled.  "That obvious, huh?" she joked.  She was so visibly Connlaothian, she was almost certain the entire city hated her on principal alone.  Almost.  "Though I would appreciate you not calling them 'my lot.'"  In spite of her words, the mercenary did not sound offended.  Truth was, she agreed with the man: Connlaoth had reduced reality to nothing more than childish superstition, damning itself in the process...

When the man moved onto his brief lecture on magic and Mordecai, she paused as she thought about his words.  Connlaothians were scientifically backwards: they still believed that fire was an element, a physical substance that people often felt as heat.   A young blacksmith had once tried to explain the problem with this theory during a sales pitch but at the time, she had not been interested.  No, though, things were already falling into place.

So lost in thought, Alexis almost missed the book her new associate was offering her.  She quickly accepted the tome.  "Thanks.  I suppose I have my work cut out for me."  The woman, who had never read anything about magic aside from trash and propaganda, find she was excited to read an objective take on magic.  She turned to hurry toward a table, then paused.  Looking back to the man, Alexis asked, "If I have any trouble understanding anything...may I ask you for help?"  She was, after all, nearly a lifetime behind in her education.

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2018, 08:30:35 PM »
Of course, my apologies. Joseph smiled as he watched her move to a seat, then positively beamed when she asked for his help. Id be delighted, man. He nodded to her politely, bowing forward just a bit at the waist.

It seemed that somehow hed fallen exactly into the sort of situation hed been looking for: a chance to perhaps teach a mortal, and learn from her in turn.

And there was something about this woman that intrigued him beyond the norm. Something about her that reminded him of something...someone ... But he couldnt place what.

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #10 on: February 09, 2018, 05:58:36 PM »
Alexis was careful not to snag her sword on the chair as she took her seat.  She supposed this should have been the book to start with in the first place.  Mordecai were clearly tied to magic so to understand them, it should have been obvious to study magic theory.  It was with that in mind that the mercenary began to read.

She found she liked the way the text was written.  For most Connlaothians, magic was this mysterious, foreign...thing.  That deep down, magic was not natural and could not be understood.  Serenians challanged this.  For them, magic was the study of nature.

Her men were starting to make her anxious.  Looking up, Alexis said, "You two can sit down."  The mercenaries traded looks before they found their way to unoccupied places.  This was perhaps one of the more inconvenient aspects of being a Mordecai.  She had to be accompanied by two goons wherever she went to avoid damaging other spells.  She hoped that a better handle on what she was might lead to a solution.

As Alexis finished the book's first chapter.  Turning, she tried to test her understanding of the work.  "So mages produce mana inside their body...and that is what fuels magic?  So a mordecai...absorbs mana?"  She gave the pages another glance, rereading a section.  "Er, no, most magic is mana?  Some?"  She turned a page forward, pained by how clueless she felt.  Magic, it seemed was a much more complex beast than scripture had said...and maybe in some cases, "magic" was not even magic...

...Alexis was getting a headache...

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #11 on: February 09, 2018, 06:23:32 PM »
Joseph chuckled as she spoke up, lifting his attention from his own book he'd returned to while she read. "That's essentially the basic theory, yes," he said with a smile and a small nod. "Although I'm not sure mordecaism can be said to absorb mana, precisely. More...nullifies it. It is still there, it is just unable to be channeled into magical energy."

He tilted his head at the woman. "Does that make sense? Here, show me what you've read- forgive me, but you still sound a bit confused."

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #12 on: February 11, 2018, 05:16:30 PM »
At the teacher's request, Alexis showed the man where she was: the end of the first chapter.  The mercenary was a bit anxious.  She was more accustomed to troop numbers and battle strategy.  Studying magic like a first year academy student was not an ideal pastime.  Still, she knew it was the only way to achieve any real grasp of her own power.

"Sorry," she said, admitting, "I can be a bit impatient when I want something."  Alexis admitted it was a shortcoming of hers and  she did what she could to keep it in check but it was always a struggle to keep from getting ahead of herself.  Where was Micheal when she needed him...?

"Actually," Alexis mused aloud as she scanned the last page of the chapter.  "I might have misinterpreted what mana was."  She had been working from the theory that magic was a purely natural phenomenon, and therefore mana was purely natural as well.  "But if magic is simply the supernatural interacting with the natural; mordecai would be natural interacting with the supernatural..."  She trailed off, not realizing she had been thinking out loud.

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #13 on: February 11, 2018, 05:25:40 PM »
The ex-angel nodded as he sat back in his chair. "That's certainly one way of thinking of it, yes. Tell me, how would you definite magic? Not mana, not spells or alchemy or what-have-you, just...magic. In its purest form, how would you define it?"

He would admit he was curious to hear her answer, head tilted slightly to the side as he watched her placidly.

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2018, 03:47:23 PM »
"I," Alexis began before pausing.  Had she been asked at the start of her military career, she would have recited Connlaothian doctrine; that magic was an unnatural phenomenon that made people weak, a curse that lead the world toward destruction, a blight on mankind that had to be stamped out.  That was years ago now; it felt more like a lifetime ago.

Letting out a sigh, Alexis looked at the man.  "I don't know.  You've already heard my stumbling attemtps at finding that answer but that's all I have: guesswork and conjecture."  Sitting back, the mercenary commander pressed the heels of her hands against her brow, massaging it.  Then she gave a bitter laugh.  "Maybe magic is just some nonsense that nobody understand, and this-"  Alexis flipped the text closed in her frustration.  "-is by some idiot who knew as much about magic as I do."

Alexis felt a little guilty over her outburst.  This man did not deserve that, he seemed to be genuinely helpful.  She did not show her remorse, though.

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2018, 08:31:53 AM »
Joseph's expression softened. Rather than offended, he seemed simply concerned.

His Lady had always said that humanity must be free to make their own mistakes. In large part he agreed with her- but some were clearly in need of guidance, and he did not see how a little nudge this way or that way could ultimately be an evil.

"I wouldn't go quite that far," he aid softly, opening the book back to the page she'd left off on with unerring accuracy, not even bothering to look. "However, you've touched close to the heart of something that has plagued academics for generations: namely, there is no true definition of magic." He smiled a little sheepishly. "I'm afraid that was a trick question."

Shifting a little closer so he could better see the text, he added, "Magic is a fundamentally ever-changing force. That's just the nature of it. And no two mage's powers are ever quite the same, which makes attempting to define the phenomena rather arduous and near impossible." He shrugged. "To be honest I believe that is why it make so many people uncomfortable- it is difficult to feel safe around something when one cannot even put a name to it."

He suddenly paused, then chuckled. "Ah- forgive me. Speaking of names, I don't believe I ever asked your. Please do forgive my oversight."

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2018, 08:35:08 PM »
The mercenary was quite content to listen to the man as he lectured.  She was, after all, looking to learn, finding out what she needed to try and avoid breaking magic that did not need to be broken.  As he finished speaking, she smirked.  "Isn't it customary to introduce yourself before you ask for someone's name?"  She seemed to only be playing though.  The woman quickly held out her hand in greeting.  "I'm Alexis Mandel."

Alexis wanted to touch further on something her newfound teacher had said.  "If all these different instances of magic, how exactly does mordecaism affect so many of them?"

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2018, 11:27:02 AM »
"Well, that brings us back to the beginning of the discussion." He smiled again and tilted his head at her slightly. "Mana. Mordecaism blocks a mage's ability to connect with that well of power within themselves- think of it as acting like a barrier between the magic and interacting with the world around it." He shrugged. "That's why occasionally a mage will be able to counteract a mordecai's field, if only briefly. They can...fight through the barrier."

Another shrug and he leaned back in his chair. "Which is why demonic and divine energies cannot be subdued by a mordecai- they do not rely on mana in the same way."

Offline Kingfisher

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #18 on: February 15, 2018, 01:52:52 PM »
Alexis found herself nodding along with the teacher's words.  Much of what he said made a certain amount of sense.  And hearing that some mages could indeed work through the block gave the mercenary a vague hope that there might be a way to overwhelm mordecaism.  But there was still the topic specific to her...

"What about stopping a spell that has already been cast?" she asked.  "Adharism goes beyond just the casting of magic.  If a Mordecai blocks the mage from one side of the relationship, would, say, a White Lily be targeting the mana more directly?"  Alexis had almost slipped again.  She had basically admitted to being a Mordecai already and the man seemed to not have much problem with her yet.  In Serendipity, an Adhara would be more akin to a natural disaster and admiting to being one...the mercenary simply wanted to avoid that.

Offline DragonSong

Re: Stranger Danger (DragonSong)
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2018, 06:36:57 PM »
He smiled slightly and tilted his head. "Now you ask questions that scholars have spent years debating," he chuckled. "Yes, some believe that Adharism not only muffles mana, as it were, but rather completely snuffs it out, it whatever form it may happen to take, not just latent potential."

Joseph shrugged and rubbed the back of his neck, stretching slightly. "I truly could not tell you if that is fact or not. There is much theory and little proven science in regards to that particular ability."