[IRP] Visitor from the Vale

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Raef
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[IRP] Visitor from the Vale

Post by Raef »

In the infinite purview of space and time, nothing could be more dangerous than tearing a rift between realms. Entire existences could be wiped out in moments of error. Portals, orderly constructs of knowledge, enginuity and might were the catalysts that joined two realms safely.

Before one such portal, protected by the most decorated guard in the Vale, stood a solitary being. His eyes, seemingly dancing with the light of countless cosmos, mentally prepared himself to step forth from his home on mission give to him by the Lord of the High Vale, King Vaelen.

Protect the Princess and bring forth her potential.

The High Sidhe whispered something and the grass seemed to dance as if there was a gentle breeze yet none was present. Power welled and the portal began to activate, building in momentum with colors of blue and red until a blinding white light engulfed the being, pulling him through the rift.

In transit between realms, a great gravitational anomaly pushed against the rifts tunnel, causing fractures in the fabric of space, like broken glass, power buzzed along their broken edges.

The being, now a mote of energy, felt its essence being cut and pulled, threatening to spew it out into the vast coldness of the endless void, to perish in the nothingness. With a mighty heave if it's will and burning its own life force, the mote corrected course while struggling for existence.

Somewhere in Fenia a tear ripped itself horizontal and spat out a bloodied and battered being. His once platinum hair matted with his own blood, handsome face marked by pain and anguish as he focused internally to heal the damaged caused by the transit.

After some time, too long, Raef Vael'darion, High Magus of the High Vale, High Sidhe and Lord of the Lower Vale finally opened his eyes which dimmed considerably but still held the depths of the cosmos.

He had lost the majority of his power trying to survive. He was only at level 1. It would take time for him to recover he grimaced.

Painfully drawing on his well of power, he casts a glamor on himself. Hiding the tell take signs of his heritage. His hair shortened and darkend to a dark brown, his ears tapered off and rounded and his eyes shifted to resemble that of a human.

Raef frowned as he took in his surroundings. First, he would locate the Princess and while he did, ponder how what could have had such power as to effect a stable portal.

There was a mystery afoot.

So with determination, he took his first step in the new world.
Last edited by Raef on Fri Jun 10, 2022 5:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Lord Raef Vael'darion, Baron of Greyford, High Sidhe of the Summer Realm & Loyal Citizen of Fenia
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Nikola
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

Post by Nikola »

"What do you mean he's gone?" the Countess asked, a note of incredulity in her voice. "Gone as in, out to market and will be back soon? Or gone as in, absconded and won't be back?"

The housekeeper flinched, unsure whether to fear for her own job or not. "Gone as in not coming back, my Lady," she answered, wringing her hands in distress. "Him and the head housekeeper, too. He received your letter instructing him to have things ready for your review, announced it to the staff and the next morning they were both just ... gone." She glanced nervously up at the Countess, fearing she would be held responsible for what had happened, but hurried to tell the rest of what she knew. "When we realized they were both gone, we checked their rooms and they were empty, the wardrobes were empty, the bureau drawers were empty. They aren't coming back, my Lady. We didn't know. Had no reason to suspect, but it was too late to warn you as according to the letter, which was the only thing he left behind, you were already on your way here." After this revelation she fell silent, awaiting her new mistress's reaction. She needed this job, but her future seemed uncertain to her now.

Nikola frowned, pacing back and forth as her mind tried to make sense of what had happened and figure out why. She stopped pacing when she realized that the poor housekeeper seemed terrified. Taking a deep breath, she settled her own nerves and gave the woman what she hoped was an encouraging smile.
"I'm sorry, Bianca. I don't blame you, please know that. Thank you for telling me what you know. I ..." she sighed. "I will figure out what must be done. In the meantime, round up the rest of the staff and have them assemble in the main hall in about half an hour. I need a little time to prepare, then I would like to meet everyone who is left, and we will decide from there what needs to be done."

Bianca curtsied and fled the room, leaving the Countess of Fenshire alone in the study that her former steward had used. She wished TK was here to help her sort out the mess that the steward had left for her, but the trip that would have had them visit this estate nearly a year ago had been cut short by a summons from Vaelen. Not long after she had returned from the Summer Vale, TK had gone, and he had yet to return. She had waited to make this trip, hoping to continue last year’s journey, but she could not put it off any longer. So, she had brought young Ben and Iris to help her ensure that the estate was being managed properly. Her steward was to have done the inspection of the household staff while Ben would be inspecting the stables and other areas that served, or would be needed to serve, the horses and other animals of the estate.

Nikola was planning to simply review the books with the steward of this estate, not try to decipher the ledgers that he had left. She had only just learned of his departure when she arrived and found the entire household in an upheaval. She sat heavily into the chair behind the large wooden desk and propped her elbows on the desktop, massaging her temples as she tried to think of what would need to be done.

That was how Iris found her some time later when she knocked on the open door of the study.
“My Lady,” she addressed her formally which she rarely did when they were back at Firestorm Manor. “The staff are gathering as you instructed,” she informed her mistress. Nikola looked up and sighed. "Thank you, Iris. Tell me what you have learned so far." Iris sat across the desk from NIkola and filled her in on what she had been able to discover during her brief review of the house and its staff. Nikola's face became graver with each detail. How could things have gotten so bad without her knowing about it?

When Iris finished her report, she sighed and then with a look of grim determination, she rose and strode toward the door.
“I guess it’s time to find out what we are up against.” Iris nodded and trailed behind her mistress as they both headed for the main hall of the castle.
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Raef
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

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Huffing and puffing, chest heaving with each breath he greedily sucked in, face reddening in effort. The human looking man persevered as he tried to get it up but it remained impotent!

"Come on! Just a little...almost...there....ahh...."

Raef wheezed and then boom! An underwhelming spurt of power shot spat out of his magic well and onto the surface of the bowel of soup, changing the murky brown to a shimmering mirror of colours and pictures. Best he could do under the circumstances really.

The human looking sidhe flopped back against the wooden chair he sat on, in his spartan rented room in a run down inn, within the city of Fenia. His clear eyes studied the pictures while he wiped perspiration from his brow at the efforts of keeping the spell active with his now diminished meridians. From the scrying, he located the princess by her aura, the rough estimate only, but it was something. Although his control still was masterful, he now had the power output of a fledgling sorcerer and it was taxing to the extreme on his mind and body.

Releasing the image, he slumped over the bowl with a groan, feeling like he was going to be sick.

"May Vaelen smite you...", he grumbled, thinking of the culprits that had used an artifact to destabilize his entry between realms.

He had not known how they got it, or who they were, but he knew the power signature used. Someone was playing with powers they did not comprehend.

Sighing, Raef forced himself to finish his soup and got up on weak legs before making his way to the wash basin to clean up. After which he donned the gear he had purchased with the few coin he had left and left the lodging in the direction of his princesses last location.

Some time later, some exchanging of his last coin and a few pointed questions, led him to a place.

"She is here.", he whispered. Not sensing her with magic, because he had none right now, but more a gut feel.

With a loud knock, he announced himself as the door opened.

"Salutations. I am Raef Thriftborn, Steward, Category Master. I heard via tavern talk that the Mistress of the house is in need of a replacement rather urgently. May I come in?", he asked in a measured tone, stoic expression while holding out a parchment with his credentials (forged and seal of course)
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Nikola
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

Post by Nikola »

The address to the staff had been gone pretty much as she had expected. The staff had seemed confused and unsure, wary of their new mistress. She had sought to assure them that so long as they did their jobs and did not follow in the former steward’s footsteps, their positions would be secure. However, she had warned them that bad behaviour would not be tolerated just as jobs well done would be rewarded. She had then promoted Bianca on the spot to head housekeeper and sent Ben out to spread the news that a new steward was needed at Fenshire Castle.

That was a week ago and she and Iris had spent hours pouring over the ledgers the former steward had left behind. They appeared to be in order, but reality did not seem to match the figures in the ledger. That was until Iris used her magic to discover a hidden compartment under the floorboard in the steward’s old quarters. That ledger showed a different tale, the results of which more closely matched the reality they had discovered. What he had not squandered, he had apparently embezzled for himself, leaving barely enough with the money minders to cover the basic expenses of the estate. After meeting with the money minders, she had withdrawn what was left and brought it back to the estate, suspicious that someone there might have been helping the steward fix the books to cover his tracks. She had never understood the need for money minders, having done all her own money management until Iris had joined her household. Even now, Iris still would go over the ledgers with her so that she kept an active finger on the pulse of her estates.

A loud knock interrupted her thoughts and she glanced over at Iris.
“Were we expecting someone today?” she asked. Iris shook her head and rose to her feet, heading out of the study to answer the door.
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

Post by Iris »

Bianca got to the door before Iris was halfway across the foyer, pulling it open to reveal a dark-haired man stating his profession as steward and offering his services. Bianca must have sensed her presence as the woman turned and glanced at Iris as if for permission to allow him entrance. Iris nodded and waited for the man to enter, sizing him up as he stepped through the door. He appeared human, but there was an aura of power about him that suggested he was not what he appeared. The aura felt vaguely familiar, but she could not quite put her finger on why. She greeted the man in a professional tone.

“I am Iris, Steward for the Lady Fenshire. Indeed, we are looking for a new steward for this estate,” she stated, her eyes searching to discover who he really was. “Come on in and I will take you to the Lady herself.” She turned on her heel and began to walk back toward the study where Nikola had remained, expecting the man to follow her. There were many questions she wanted to ask, but better to wait until Nikola was included so they would only have to ask them once.

Upon reaching the study, Iris stood just inside the door and announced him. “My Lady, this is Raef Thriftborn, come to apply for the open steward position.” Motioning for Raef to enter, she introduced her lady to him. “This is the Countess Nikola Ballintyne of Fenshire and the Lady of this estate.”
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

Post by Nikola »

Grateful for a distraction, Nikola set the ledgers aside along with the plans she was documenting for the estate and smiled warmly at the young man. Although "young" might be a relative term, she considered, as she realized that although he appeared to be in his early 30's to possibly 40's, his eyes held a depth of wisdom in them that told of far more years experience than his apparent age would suggest. She invited him to take a seat and nodded for Iris to shut the door before taking her seat. "As Iris has informed you, I am Nikola Ballintyne and am currently Countess of Fenshire. This castle came with the estate," she said, sweeping one hand around the room. "It seems the former steward enriched himself at the estate's expense and we are still sorting through the paperwork," she informed him, indicating the pile of ledgers and parchments piled on one side of the desk. "You claim to have experience as a steward. What can you bring to the table?" she asked, leaning back casually to observe his response.
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Raef
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

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As he was led it by the current Steward, Irish, Raef studied her from behind as he was led down the hall, his brow creasing momentarily as his usual human clear gray eyes seemed to shimmer, like light catching a window, for a moment then was normal again. Raef stumbled slightly but corrected his posture. Just that little bit of power caused him immense weakness. But he was able to see a glimmer of something about the woman. A aura of some sort.

His thoughts were brought back into the present when he was brought before the lady of the estate. She was blond, human looking and had mesmerizing eyes.

Raef bowed at the perfect angle, posture prestige as he greeted the Countess. When they were alone, he remained standing and responded to her query in a calm, measured voice, face stoic yet respectful.

"Forgive my impertinance, Countess Fernshire, but your name and deeds are well known. This is why I have presented myself before you today, so that I may offer my expertise to you and grow with you as you, yourself will undoubtedly grow.", he said adding a bit of healthy ambition to his spiel.

"You ask of what I may bring to the table and that is much, if you would excuse the lack of humility this one time? I served a Seneschal for a greater estate and directed the management of land, crop and livestock productivity and manorial finances, as well as often times, with the Lords permission, oversee village judicial affairs on his behalf. I also so managed the household and staff, offering a personable presence and dealing with anti-social behaviors or poor performance.", he explained, pulling out a very authentally forged letter of introduction from this fabricated lord.

"My curriculum vitae for your perusal, at your leisure, my Lady.", he says and offers the letter.

"If I may be so bold, I would be happy to resolve the book keeping issues and get the estate back in line within the week as evidence of my capability, if you so wish, my Lady?", he suggests amicably.
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Nikola
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

Post by Nikola »

The Countess exchanged a look with Iris when the gentleman chose to stand instead of sit as requested. but she gave him a warm smile and dismissed it as a peculiarity of the man. If he did join her staff, perhaps he would lighten up once he became more comfortable in his surroundings. His attempt to cater to her self pride made the corner of her mouth quirk up a little in amusement, and she very carefully did not look at Iris this time. He obviously did not know her, even though he may have heard of her. She listened to his recitation of past accomplishments and responsibilities and took the letter when he offered it, glancing over it briefly before looking back up as he offered to get the estate back in line within a week to demonstrate his abilities.

"A week?" she repeated in surprise. "Even if I do not hire you on the spot?" she asked for clarification. She did look at Iris this time and found her steward giving the man an odd look, like she was trying to figure out where she knew him from. Looking back down at the ledgers, a ray of hope, or at least the possibility of a potential hope looked back at her. She glanced back at the letter he had given to her. The name of the Seneschal in whose service Raef had been was unfamiliar to her. She thought she knew most, if not all, of the Fenian nobility, so perhaps this Lord was from outside Fenia's borders. The letter did not specify where the man lived, nor why Raef had left his service. Perhaps a tour of the estate would allow the man to relax a little, maybe even let down his guard, so she could get to know the Raef behind the mask. For it seemed he was wearing a mask of some sort, the kind that hides a man's heart to keep it safe, or to prevent others from learning the truth of him.

"Before any decision is made on either side," she said as she backed her chair away from the desk and stood to her feet, "I would like for you to see the entire estate you would be responsible for," she offered. "Have you a horse?" she asked, still considering just how much of the estate to show him before she made her decision.
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Raef
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

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Raef smiled graciously and bowed.

"A week will be enough to prove my sincerely to serve, your Ladyship. No renumeration will be necessary until you are satisfied with my performance.", he said with a smile in a calm, confident and slightly arrogant in his ability, kind of way that most stewards seem to don.

The offer to view the estates was welcomed also, it would give him more time with her, his princess.

"I would be honoured by your Ladyships time to show me the estates. I do not have a horse sadly, ma' am. Might I impose on your stables for the outing?", he enquires formally while his eyes took her in, tried to read her though the painful mana senses he could use currently but got nothing in his weakened state. He looked a bit pale as he reached in his pocket to pull out a handkerchief and blot his forehead which formed a sheen of perspiration.

"Forgive me, the weather is a bit warm...", he said lamely in way of an excuse.
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Nikola
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Re: [IRP] Visitor from the Vale

Post by Nikola »

Nikola glanced at Iris, but her steward was still giving Raef a considering look. Iris’ face bore no hint of what she might be thinking, or that she was thinking much at all, but Nikola knew that look. She had felt a whisper of something, she was not sure what, but her power had reacted in alarm at the unfamiliar touch. Iris had probed her often enough when checking on her physical condition for her power to recognize that, but it had not recognized this. Her eyes trailed from Iris to Raef, the only other person in the room. Had it come from him? When he pulled out a handkerchief to blot his sweating brow, she kept her expression neutral, but wondered about that. The day was not unseasonably hot, so either he was nervous about something, or perhaps there was more to it than met the eye. She would need to have a private word with Iris to see whether she sensed anything or if it may have been her imagination.

“Certainly, we have a couple of extra horses in the stables. Iris, please have someone send for Ben and have him saddle Starr and two other horses,” she said and kept a level gaze on her steward as she started to protest. “I want you to accompany us, Iris,” she said and gave her a look that told the older woman that her presence was not optional. She would need Iris’ keen eye and elven wisdom on this, if nothing else, to convince her that she was merely imagining things.

She smiled at the gentleman, allowing a look of concern to cross her face.
“Are you alright, Mister Thriftborn?” she asked casually as Iris exited the room to flag down a servant. There were more servants here than at Firestorm Manor, but then the castle was also far larger than was her private home, and so there seemed to nearly always be someone nearby. As they continued to speak, she led him out of the study and a short walk down the hall to the entry foyer where they would wait for Iris to join them before exiting to the front porch to wait for Ben to bring the horses around. "Bianca," she flagged down the head housekeeper as she passed by. "Please bring our guest a glass of chilled spiced wine," she ordered and Bianca curtsied and scurried off to the kitchens. Turning back to Raef, she hesitated. "I assume you will drink spiced wine?" she asked belatedly.
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