Marjoram and the Mageroyal [CLOSED]

12 posts / 0 new
Last post
Samanthiel
Samanthiel's picture
Administrator
Offline
Joined: 2011/09/17
Marjoram and the Mageroyal [CLOSED]

Dr. Yardley stands outside of the Mageroyal Society's building in Ironforge, her violet battlemender's gown pressed and cleaned, skirts whispering above her dainty boots. In her gloved hand she holds a scrap of paper with the address; in the crook of her left arm is her violet leather satchel, stamped with the White Sigil's crescent and a black imprint of a swan. She squints up at the building's windows -- any passersby might fancy her lost, or trying to deduce if she's come to the right place.

In actuality, Dr. Yardley is trying to remember if she powdered her nose before she left her own Ironforge home, if she turned the stove off, if her partner Antonius Aurric will be home early today and will he make sure to feed Victor the cat? She struggles to recall if she ordered more tubing for the Quel'Talan's blood bank, if there's a Pancake Night this Thursday, if she's checked the Wounded list on Operation: Shieldwall's board in the Dwarven District, if Sgatha Jacobs is up for promotion, if she remembered to --

Dr. Yardley is thinking of everything, and, quite frankly, it's too early in the morning for it.

She shakes her head, lowers the scrap of paper, and moves towards the building's front door. She looks for a bell to ring, a place to knock, some fixture to signal her arrival. Once she finds it, Agnes takes in a deep breath and pushes to enter the Mageroyal Society's main office. 

"Hallo?" 

Vandrysse
Vandrysse's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011/11/16

The large building occupied by the Mageroyal Society was a combination of Dwarven design and Gilnean charm. The foyer opened up into the receptionist’s area, tastefully decorated with darkwood furniture and dominated by an antique desk. Its surface was covered in neatly organized stacks of paper; in the right corner, enough space had been reserved for a Pandaren knick-knack (a carved quillen in bold colors of red, black, white and gold) and a coffee mug that held a strange plant – it was a succulent of some type, shaped like a small rosette, its thick green petals edged with bright pink. Vandrysse was behind the desk, thoughtfully chewing on the end of a pencil while trying to figure out paperwork.

Today was proving to be hectic. Not for the first time she found herself grateful that they’d finally managed to hire an assistant(s) – she had to send Ms. Davenko to the alchemist’s to acquire more glassware, and Davenko's crow, Delacroix, was handy for delivering messages around Ironforge. That left Vandrysse with the task of answering a number of inquiries and ordering up lists of potential lecture topics and expedition locations.

At the “Hallo?,” Vandrysse looked up and felt her stomach knot as she immediately recognized the voice’s owner – Dr. Agnes Yardley was standing in their office. She was careful to wear a neutral expression despite the fact she was overwhelmed by a surge of nervous excitement. Dr. Thorley held the White Sigil in high regard, as did Vandrysse - they both respected the Sigil’s work and Holy Light she was standing right here SAY SOMETHING.

Instead of panicking, Vandrysse calmly stood up, smoothing down the long brown silk dress that she wore.

“Dr. Yardley, what a pleasant surprise!” There was a light drawl to her voice, most certainly not Gilnean; her smile was genuine and pleasant. She stepped out from behind the desk and offered a respectful bow, then quickly clasped her hands behind her back so as to hide the left hand and its missing ring finger.

“I do hope the day finds you well. If you’re looking for Dr. Thorley, ma’am, I do believe he’s in his office – I can fetch his assistant to let him know you’re here.”

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”

Samanthiel
Samanthiel's picture
Administrator
Offline
Joined: 2011/09/17

"Thank you, Miss Dyce," began Agnes, smiling immediately upon Vandrysse's greeting. She shuffled forward, skirts rustling like plumage as she bowed her head. Agnes' voice was low, not as fluty and crisp as it was in public. In fact, it almost sounded scratchy, too earthy for parlor talk. "Thank you, but I was rather hoping perhaps I could speak to you, actually."

It would be funny, to the observer, to watch the little motions that pass between two women meeting. When Vandrysse smoothed her gown, Agnes touched the curls at her own ear, sweeping them back. When Vandrysse folded her hands behind her back, Agnes crossed her gloved wrists and primly rested her hands at her waist. The veneer of formality was shiny, strong, almost like a wall between them -- but above the wall Agnes' green eyes were square on the woman who ran the Mageroyal Society. She had spared small glances to the decor, the lighting, the room itself -- but now her attention was focused. 

Agnes was nervous. Loathe to admit it, yes, but nervous.

"I feel like we've been rather formal about our encounters, given how a lot of them have been in public," she said, articulating each word in her crisp Capitol accent. "I had rather hoped we might be able to speak a little informally about the matters that unite our organisations." Agnes gestured with a hand. "Colleague to colleague, perhaps. D'you -- have time for that this morning?"

"I always cry when The Color Purple comes on."
[ A ] Agnes, Sarah, Eunista
[ H ] Maridyn

Vandrysse
Vandrysse's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011/11/16

A brief – very brief – hint of surprise lit up Vandrysse’s cinnamon eyes. Dr. Yardley wanted to see her? She quickly tamped the emotion down as she listened to the woman explain herself, yet still found herself wondering what she could possibly offer in the way of information. Curious ...

The priestess’ expression visibly softened at the end. “Why, of course I have time for that, Dr. Yardley. Please, sit down.” Vandrysse indicated one of the two chairs in front of the receptionist’s desk; she had picked them out herself especially because of the incredibly plush dark red cushioning.

“Would you care for some tea, ma’am? Dr. Thorley is quite the aficionado and we keep a good stock here.” She couldn’t help but smile a little at that, thinking of the even larger collection at home that competed with her coffee stockpile. "We also have coffee, if you're so inclined, and water ..." Best not to mention the wine and brandy, at least not at this time of day.

As a second thought, Vandrysse quickly added, "And ma'am, if you're comfortable in doing so, you're welcome to call me Vandy."

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”

Samanthiel
Samanthiel's picture
Administrator
Offline
Joined: 2011/09/17

Agnes looked down at the cushions. The color reminded her of cherry syrup, plum cordial, wine --

Too early in the morning to be wanting a drink of that kind, Agnes thought, resisting the urge to shake her head. "Tea would be lovely, madam, I'm sore to say I haven't had enough time this morning to take a proper cup, so I was a bit parched. I appreciate your hospitality immensely." Agnes smiled, freckled cheeks and green eyes going sleek with the expression. Even when sincere, Agnes' smile always looked too wan. 

She sat herself down, resting her satchel at her feet.

"Vandy, is it?" she remarked, placing a gloved hand casually on the edge of the receptionist's desk. "Well, of course then -- and you may call me Agnes." The woman leaned back in the chair, her posture less stiff. "I have been awfully remiss in coming by personally to speak with you, Light knows it's been a busy time. But the workings of your scholarly society fascinate me. There are all manner of subjects I wish to know more about -- that the Sigil would wish to know more about -- but there are a few in particular I think have a specific urgency. So, I knew I needed to make time." Her eyes swiveled up from their slow scan of the room's decor, eventually following Vandrysse. "I'm a woman in search of answers. This seemed like the right place to come for them." 

"I always cry when The Color Purple comes on."
[ A ] Agnes, Sarah, Eunista
[ H ] Maridyn

Vandrysse
Vandrysse's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011/11/16

Vandrysse’s formal – if not slightly nervous – behavior changed at those last words. It was like watching a veil being lifted, only to reveal a sliding panel underneath, as her mood spoke more of attentive compassion.

“To be fair, we’ve been remiss in finding time for you and the Sigil as well. Seems everyone’s schedules have been uncooperative as of late.” Vandrysse’s small smile was honest. “I’ll do my best to answer any questions you have, Agnes.” The name felt awkward on her tongue, speaking it was akin to having the king insist on being called Varian.

“I’ll fetch the tea, I’ll be right back.” On closer inspection, the desk truly was filled with benign paperwork, save for a wrinkled scrap of paper slipping free from a stack that simply read, “Thanks mom!” The kitchen was in the next room over, and Vandryse set about preparing a tray. While her taste for the drink had appreciatively grown over the past year, it still woefully paled in comparison to that of a true connoisseur. All she knew was how Ellister preferred black tea at the right temperature and strength. The tea set was Pandaren antique, the squat pot made from white porcelain and decorated with brilliant blue lines outlining cranes and bamboo. Along with the sugar and milk containers, Vandrysse added a small plate with three of her fresh baked blueberry scones that everyone seemed to love.

Upon returning, Vandrysse managed to place the tray in the sole empty space of the desk, with an indication that Dr. Yardley should help herself first (she wasn’t sure if she was playing the social etiquette game right, and could only be as polite as she knew how). Allowing the doctor to take her time, she sat down, her demeanor transitioning yet again: compassion armed with confidence as the priestess mantle slid on.

“No matter what people like to talk about, I always remind them that I hold their words in strictest confidence. I take these matters seriously.” She smiled pleasantly.

“Now, what’s on your mind?”

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”

Samanthiel
Samanthiel's picture
Administrator
Offline
Joined: 2011/09/17

Agnes had the look of someone hoping to interrupt a long conversation with a blurted confession. Sure enough, when Vandrysse sat back down, she had an answer for the woman.

"Shadow."

Simple as that. And with practiced caution, Agnes went about fixing herself a cup of tea. She poured it from the teapot, added a splash of milk, doled out -- after brief consideration -- a spoonful of sugar, and took a scone. Crumbs seemed not to perturb her. Agnes took a sip of tea.

"Shadow magic, that is. The craft of the Shadow. As they sometimes call it," she said, teacup halfway to her mouth, "the left hand of the Light. I am without instructor or advisor, given that Marius has retired and likely would remain in the mental state of retirement if he returned to assist us. I wish not to burden him, and I consider the majority of my influences on the subject before now to be too unstable." She leveled her green eyes with Vandrysse. "I am looking for someone with knowledge, but also domain. Restraint. Poise." Finally she took a bite of the scone. It took her a moment to wash it down with tea, as if the words were still intent on blurting themselves out before anything else went down her throat.

"You were the first to come to mind." 

"I always cry when The Color Purple comes on."
[ A ] Agnes, Sarah, Eunista
[ H ] Maridyn

Vandrysse
Vandrysse's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011/11/16

Vandrysse was careful to keep a neutral mask in place, though a sense of excitement coursed through her. Why?, she wanted to ask, despite the fact that Agnes had already stated such. The question was kept to herself. Instead, she quickly ran down the short list of her own personal experiences and lack of a mentor, save for a certain sweater-wearing gray man that she really never had a chance to know before he passed on. These things ran through her mind while she prepared her own cup of tea, adding a bit of milk while wishing it was brandy.

“An interesting subject, to be sure.” She didn’t drink her tea just yet. “It is exceedingly difficult to find a mentor, not helped by the fact that there is no central teaching for it. I also find that – at least amongst humans – there is a mindset that pits Shadow against Light, rather than viewing it as a dichotomy.” Vandrysse paused, looking thoughtful. “The latter is how I’ve viewed it, anyway. One cannot exist without the other, and either in the extreme is very dangerous.”

That was it - her views on the Shadow - in a nutshell. No hemming and hawing or denying it, no judging, just an easy transition into the topic as if they were talking about anything else. Vandrysse did finally take a sip of tea, and after slowly placing the cup down, offered the doctor a pleasant smile.

“Did you have any particular questions or concerns?”

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”

Samanthiel
Samanthiel's picture
Administrator
Offline
Joined: 2011/09/17

Agnes' relief was visible the moment Vandrysse uttered the word "dichotomy." Her shoulders relaxed, and she stirred her tea.

"If you make inquiries within the Church," Agnes began, "you'll find that there are sanctioned teachers for the craft. But they take so few students -- and most of the students they do take are acolytes since a young age. The common person can't get the information they usually need from the Church itself, mostly because it's ... well, such a guarded topic." She sipped her tea. "Which I think is influenced by the danger, as well as its recent abuses." She spared speaking on Benedictus. The notion of his betrayal was too sour for conversation that was going as well as theirs. 

"You see," continued the doctor, "I'm -- progressing with it. Slowly. It's taken me a year or so to -- get to where I am now. But I have questions about ... the forms, the spells, the energy. The things that can be done with it. And so I wanted to begin with the question of the Shadowfiend, and its uses. How it works, how it's -- summoned."

Agnes exhaled, looking over her teacup at Vandrysse. "Anything about it, really."

"I always cry when The Color Purple comes on."
[ A ] Agnes, Sarah, Eunista
[ H ] Maridyn

Vandrysse
Vandrysse's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011/11/16

Vandrysse carefully listened to Agnes, at the same time weighing the doctor’s character against how much personal information she should reveal. Suffice to say, given how much respect she already held, it didn’t take Vandrysse long to decide how honest she should be. She slowly drew her finger across the desk’s edge, nodding at the last comment.

 

“Before I get into this, I want to be up front with you: it was never my intent to follow this path. I had always imagined myself becoming some kind of … Lightmender, wielding miracles with my hands. Things just didn’t work out that way.” Her words lacked the bitterness one might expect.

“You speak of slow progression - it’s taken a long time for me to reach the state of acceptance that I’m currently at.” Vandrysse’s sudden smile was wicked. “I sank to the lowest of lows, but despite that, I was afforded a glimpse of what I could aspire to be, if I dared pursue it. I’m going to be spending the rest of this lifetime trying to understand it all.” Her right eyebrow had even arched a little bit, as if she were letting Agnes in on a secret with many layers … and just like that, the expression was gone, transitioning into something more neutral.

Perhaps it was for the best, because Vandrysse dove right into the topic at hand.

“I was taught that there is another dimension – a realm of shadows. It is very much like this world, but it is also more. It’s the plane where the shades dwell, the place where the dead call home. Some of us – whether we realize it or not – have a natural connection. Others must strive to build that connection. Regardless, it’s not a place to visit if you’re not willing to confront your own darkness first. The shadowfiends are manifestations of the energy that resides there.”

Vandrysse slowly exhaled. “Much of the power that the Shadow holds is up here.” She tapped at the side of her head. “And the mind … our minds, rather … have a unique way of communicating with us, they have our own language. I can’t say that I necessarily ‘summon’ a shadowfiend, in a traditional sense. It’s more like opening a door. Opening a door and allowing it to come … inside-out, if that makes sense?”

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”

Samanthiel
Samanthiel's picture
Administrator
Offline
Joined: 2011/09/17

Manifestations of the energy that resides there.

What could Agnes say? There was her answer -- there was more instruction than she'd expected to receive in any book. For quite some time, the notion of a Shadowfiend (and what made it fiendish) had nipped at her thoughts. She remembered an early lesson where her tutor had encouraged her to close your eyes, imagine your deepest darkness. Agnes had done so and something hideous had risen from a corner -- something with an elongated neck, snapping craw and beating limbs. The memory disturbed her; a shiver ran across her shoulders as she clutched her teacup. 

"Is there some kind of trigger?" she asked gently, her green eyes betraying the tone of her voice. Now she was truly the student; if she'd had a ledger, it might be covered in notes. "Does it have some mechanism that ... makes it manifest in this realm?"

"I always cry when The Color Purple comes on."
[ A ] Agnes, Sarah, Eunista
[ H ] Maridyn

Vandrysse
Vandrysse's picture
Offline
Joined: 2011/11/16

Vandrysse’s tone lowered, as if speaking about the very thing would summon it. “I’ve found that certain emotional states help … encourage it. Fear, certainly. Anger seems to work just as well.” A finger tapped against the desk as she thought.

“Have you ever noticed that when you’re frightened, or become suddenly upset … there is a very vibrant energy attached to the emotion. It’s something deep rooted, even primal, that reaches into your gut.” It struck her that the Curse had a similar bearing on her. “If you can learn how to recognize that energy, and seize it, it makes summoning the shadowfiend easier.”

She quietly laughed, wearing a pleasant enough expression. “Depending on the person, it sometimes pays to cultivate a constant ready state. Easier for someone like me, at least – I tend to be rather angry most of the time.”

“The depth of darkness to which you can descend and still live is an exact measure of the height to which you can aspire to reach.”