Post by Steinerman on Feb 23, 2010 16:58:14 GMT -5
It had taken Joe almost a day and half to weave his way into Minervum, the odd magical barriers surrounding the city made it difficult to enter for the most part. But he was one of the few Valtheran scouts who'd been able to master it.
Now, dressed in well-made, yet common clothing. He made his way into the Library, his assignment clear.
With a smile and a handshake he passed the guardpost easily enough. And from there he sauntered casually over to the nearest Librarian.
Another smile, combined with his dazzling emerald eyes charmed the woman long enough to gain the information he was seeking. The books he was sent to find were on the fifth floor.
Joe hid a grimace as the librarian mentioned off-hand that he would need to fill out a form to access this information. He'd been afraid of that. His cover-story was good, but he was unsure if it would stand up to the intense scrutiny of Stamarian security forces.
He carefully hid his worries from the Librarian, and thanked her graciously for her help. With his casual demeanor still in place he walked slowly to the booth holding form and pencil, and leaned against a pillar to fill out the necessary paperwork.
It wasn't often that he came to Minervum, and he was only sent on exceptionally important missions to this city. If his true identity was uncovered, and the Stamarians found out that a Valtheran infiltrator had made it into their territory...he suppressed a shudder, best not to think about the consequences.
Post by sentranicia on Feb 23, 2010 17:38:09 GMT -5
The city was busy today. People carrying large bundles of goods from store to store filled the streets, leaving little room for a small horse to carry its rider to her destination. The young mare's ears flickered this way and that, carefully taking in the entirety of the scene around her. Each step was gingerly taken, leaving a soft clopping sound behind on the cobblestone road. The rider atop the young mare sat unconcernedly smiling around at the people as they passed by in either direction, her long hair softening her features into a sweet and innocent appearance.
Appealing as always, she was dressed in a short black skirt, knee high white boots, and a purple shirt with long sleeves that left her shoulders bare and simply draped down to her arms. Her hair fell down around her waist, contrasting with her deep green riding cloak. Riding side-saddle with incredible skill, she was a thing of beauty as she made her way toward the library.
When she finally arrived at her destination, she quickly tied her horse at the post, slipped her a sugar cube, and briskly walked inside, leaving her cloak neatly tucked inside one of her saddlebags. The library was as warm as the air outside, leaving the young woman with a gentle smile on her face as she enjoyed the temperature. It had been a while since she'd experienced such warmth. Her travels had taken her to colder parts of the world. But now she was back to sell her findings and visit her sister.
Stepping up to the desk where the librarian was handing a young man a form to fill out, she grinned and held up a small silver bag full of old books, "I've brought you some more old books." She set them down on the table, "I know you've probably got some newer copies, but you can't beat the old stuff." Her voice was sweet and melodic, just the right pitch and quiet as the falling snow.
The librarian smiled back, "It's always nice to have things like these in our collection, Zandara. In fact it looks like this one is an older version of what that young man is looking for. I'll give you five gold a piece for them if you'd like." Zandara nodded and turned around as the woman walked away to retrieve her money. Leaning back against the desk, she looked around.
Post by Steinerman on Feb 23, 2010 19:53:39 GMT -5
Joe quickly filled out the form, noticing as he did so that a young girl had walked into the Library, apparently intent upon selling a bag full of books.
He paid the girl no mind, (who really was strikingly beautiful) until he overheard the Librarian mention a young man, with a start he realized the man was referencing him.
Calm down, you fool. He thought, keeping his expression neutral and focused on the form in his hand. They don't know who you are, the man's just being helpful. With a shock he realized there might be a way to get the book without going through the proper channels.
He put the form down, and started walking towards the girl with the book. She seemed pleasant, no, that wasn't the right word. Sweet, gentle, those were more like what he saw. He mentally added innocent and mild to the list, his usual feigned swagger wouldn't work.
Immediately Joe switched tactics, changing his gait to a slower, thoughtful pace. He reached into his pocket and found the reading glasses he kept there as part of the disguise. With a nervous smile, he approached the young woman.
"Excuse me, miss?" he questioned, his entire posture nervously awkward, "I happen to be a collector of books, and if I'm not mistaken, that book is very old, possibly even a first addition. Perhaps you'd consider selling it to me, instead of the Library?"
Last Edit: Feb 23, 2010 19:54:04 GMT -5 by Steinerman
Post by sentranicia on Feb 25, 2010 14:18:34 GMT -5
Turning her face quickly toward the voice directed at her, Zandara smiled at the young man as he approached. His voice met her ears a mite shakily but the nervous smile on her face reassured her slightly. She smiled a bit broader and nodded, “Oh, I suppose. You were looking for this one, correct?” She turned her back on him and picked up the book, running her fingers over the cover before turning back and looking back at him, “How much would you offer me for it?” She looked him over, wondering for a moment what someone like him was doing here. It wasn’t often that she saw a man of his age with silver hair. She assumed he must be from somewhere else.
Keeping this in the back of her mind, she looked down at the book. The cover was old and worn, the leather tearing ever so slightly at the corners from age and use. It was clear that someone had dearly loved the book. She gingerly ran her hands down the spine, flipping the book open to a center page and breathing in the sickly sweet smell of old ink and parchment. The page she had turned to was dappled with tear drops, the salt turning the ink slightly green. She sighed, a tiny smile still upon her face, “I am trying to raise money for my sister. She’s disabled and living in a home at the age of 28. I have to pay for it because no one else can or will. Please, Sir. I need at least the 5 gold that the library offers me.”
Post by Steinerman on Feb 25, 2010 14:41:19 GMT -5
Joe continued with his nervous personality, wiping non-existent sweat off his brow to play for time. An intact copy of the genealogy of the Taron Magi was worth it's weight in gold to the Valtheran military intelligence. But, while not a giant sum of money, he rarely carried such a sum of coin with him.
He mentally thought to how much he had in his wallet...yes, he had enough, barely. Well, he thought sadly, looks like I won't be eating for a few days. And then, with the nervous smile still in place, praying she hadn't noticed the look of dismay that had flashed across his features, he reached into his wallet and (not wishing to seem cheap) pulled out eight gold coins.
"Will this do?" he asked politely of the girl. Please take the money, he pleaded silently. Going hungry for a few days was troubling, but well worth the price of the book he was seeking.
Last Edit: Feb 25, 2010 18:41:55 GMT -5 by Steinerman
Post by sentranicia on Mar 1, 2010 17:22:14 GMT -5
Blinking quietly, Dara watched the man pull several gold coins from his wallet. Counting them silently to herself, she shook her head, "You can keep three of those. I really only need the five that I was offered here." She picked out five coins from his hand and quickly stuffed them into her pocket, folding his fingers shyly over the remaining three. Giving him a sweet and girly smile, she spoke again, "So why are you looking for that book? It must be important to you, otherwise you wouldn't go through the trouble of that form. Most people take on look at it and walk out the door." She laughed briefly with a cute tone. Her voice was melodic and sweet, her full appearance and stance projecting a quiet innocence.
She looked him over, noticing his slightly concerned look and tone but putting it off. A lot of guys tended to get nervous talking to her. She thought it was funny, really, and she liked to toy with them a little before letting them go. Gently, always, and never enough to hurt them. She turned her face downward slightly, seeing his face only just and pretending to scratch her forehead. In the quietest voice she could muster and in the lowest possible sense she muttered, "Fear." It wouldn't be an overwhelming feeling. Just enough to keep him on his toes as long as she was looking at him. She looked back at him, waiting for the look in his eyes to change.
Every one of Joe's senses told him to freeze, that something was wrong, though he couldn't put his finger on it. His eyes darted around, searching hurriedly for danger, or a target, an enemy to fight.
His gaze quickly came to rest on the girl in front of him, clutching the book. For an instant his training kicked in, telling him to incapacitate her and take the book, then get out. With a grimace, and using all of his considerable willpower, he shut down his reaction to the fear that had seeped into him.
he glanced down quickly, slowly putting three of the gold coins back. Buying time for his eyes to calm down, as he was almost positive they'd lost their composure, he prayed silently that his cover had remained reasonably intact. That she still saw a nervous young man trying to buy a book, and not an edgy spy looking for a target.
Odd,He thought to himself, I was edgy before, but nothing I saw should have caused that reaction, He glanced back up, sure that his emerald eyes still held some of the fear they'd shown before he'd been able to control his reaction.
Remembering she'd asked as question, he gave a nervous laugh and replied, "Oo-oh...that. My Uncle wanted some information on the family lines of the Taron Magi. He wasn't able to come here, so I came in his place to pick up some information. He was really quite insistent about it, if I didn't come back with the information, he'd be extremely disappointed."
He ended with an easy smile, slowly letting himself appear more at home talking to her. She really is quite pretty, He thought with an inwards smile. Hopefully she'd believe him, as he hadn't really told a lie at all. Just replaced "Valtheran Military" with "uncle."
"How about you?" He questioned, hoping to distract her from his somewhat odd behavior moments before. "Do you come here often? To sell books?"
Last Edit: Mar 1, 2010 20:12:43 GMT -5 by Steinerman
Post by sentranicia on Mar 6, 2010 10:32:25 GMT -5
Her eyes stayed locked on him, keeping the intensity of the fear as light as she could. It was interesting to watch, how something in his eyes only magnified rather than came to be of its own. She tipped her head slightly. He had been worried about something beforehand. This, she decided, was cause to be careful. She wondered for a moment if that book sale had been what he needed, but then he spoke, cutting off her thoughts. She peered at him for a moment, then dropped her eyes, breaking her spell and letting the fear leave the man in front of her.
His question did not surprise her really so much as she thought it strange. He had what he wanted, and if it was so urgent, why was he making small talk? She smiled shyly to camouflage her confusion, her already adorable grin lifting even higher on her rosy cheeks, "I sell my findings at a lot of places here in the city, but I only sell my books to this library. I'm an adventurer of sorts you see, and I try to find artifacts and other items to sell to museums and such. That way I can make money for myself and also for the care of my sister."
She tipped her head slightly to the side, "But I do spend a lot of time here when I'm in town. Books are the best way to get maps and clues to my next journey." She giggled slightly, "I'm surprised really that some military unit hasn't tried to take me for their own use. Much of what I find is ancient weaponry that they would very much like to have. I'm not well loved by them." Outwardly, the comment sounded innocent enough, her voice sweet and gentle, her eyes glowing with amusement, but inwardly her motives were different. If this man was a danger to her, and it was because of that book, the only reason he would want it was for the military of an opposing country. Likely Valthera. If it was for that purpose that he was seeking the book, he certainly would not leave without trying to take her with him. If it was for his uncle, that comment would earn her nothing more than a smile and maybe a chuckle.
But she had to be careful. Soldiers were skilled in the art of trickery. She thought for a moment, her eyes looking over him, that tiny smile still clinging to her features, "Though I can't say that I wouldn't appreciate a soldier's protection..." That would get him surely if he were a soldier. Men were prone to protecting women that needed it, especially those with her level of aesthetic pleasure. But the rest was out of her hands. His actions would decide her next move.
He listened attentively as she answered his question, the fear slowly seeping away from him. But her words, innocent enough, seemed to be directed at something.
Oh...not good. He thought as he began to see what she was getting at. She must have seen something to tip her off, something about his odd behavior had her thinking he was a spy. She was trying to bait him, it seemed. Telling him about her work.
Ancient weapons? Command would love to talk to this girl..., but he quickly dismissed that thought. Kidnapping her was out of the question, he hadn't come prepared for such a mission, and frankly, he liked her too much to try and kidnap her.
And then she spoke once again, interrupting his thoughts, saying something about needing protection.
And in a flash, he'd gone into protection mode, like he'd used to do for his sister, Val, when she was hurt or troubled. His smile dropped all nervousness and became utterly sincere, and before he could stop himself, he asked "Protection? Is something the matter?"
Idiot! He thought furiously to himself. She's testing you, and you just confirmed her worst fears. Without taking his eyes off her, he quietly remembered how many guards were in the area. The book he held was important, and there were ways to get it out of the city even if he was caught. But...She doesn't seem ready to call the guards yet. Play it safe, be as nice as you have too. See if you can keep her talking for a few moments. Maybe convince her you're not a spy.
If he could have, he'd have rolled his eyes at that last thought, by now she most likely was positive of what he was, and all because of that stupid flash of panic moments before. Unless she was an exceptionally kindhearted girl, she'd be calling the guards in mere moments, and he'd most likely get a quick trip to an executioner's block.
So he waited patiently for an answer to his foolish question, contemplating exactly how to salvage the mess as he did so.
Post by sentranicia on Mar 10, 2010 21:06:00 GMT -5
((I'm really sorry. I've been studying for my SAT this Saturday so I've been a little busy. Finally got some time in though. Hope it's good enough. =P ))
Dara let a knowing smile slide onto her lips as she gazed at him. He'd taken her bait, bought into her sneaking. She pondered for a moment, blinking gently at the man she had revealed as an enemy soldier. She remembered quickly what the book he held was about and realized why he wanted it so badly, "Your uncle, huh?" She giggled quietly, "I think I know him." The man's eyes were filled with a nervousness she had not placed in his heart, but also something else. She peered at him for a moment, the ever-present smile still upon her lips.
"You'd like me to meet your 'uncle' wouldn't you?" She tipped her head to the side, her question sincere and curious, her voice soft and kind, "I suppose if you thought he might be able to pay me for my work I would consider it." She looked down at the book, "The pages you're holding are only a piece of what I have to offer." She rubbed her arm slightly, crossing her legs where she stood, her shilouette changing dramatically from just that small shift.
She placed her hand on the worn leather cover, very close to his, the ring on her left hand shimmering in the light of the library. Her skin brushed his as she ran her fingers over the textured bindings and engraved letters. It was an important book, one that could easily aid the army in doing serious damage to any country they wished it upon.
The sudden sound of coins hitting wood startled her and she pulled her hand back sharply with a squeak of surprise. Turning with a smile she looked up at the librarian, "Thank you very much, Miss." Pushing her hand into the small red pouch she pulled five gold coins out and handed them back to her, "This man is buying one of the books. You may keep it's worth in gold." Taking the red pouch and putting it deep in her pocket, she turned back to the young man in front of her, "I have a horse outside, if you'd like to go somewhere more private to discuss this. I imagine you're not very comfortable speaking about matters here."
That sweet smile never left her face as she scanned over his. There was something about him that she couldn't place. Something in him had changed when she mentioned the desire for protection. Something had become almost...instinctively different. "Oh, and, to answer your question...There's always danger when you work the way I do."
((Bah, no worries. No harm done in me waiting, I suppose I should be studying for my SAT too And yes, your post is excellent. Hope mine is okay))
Joe's senses went into overdrive as she casually brushed his hand with hers. Part of him, the gentle, kind part, wanted to get to know her better. But the hardened soldier inside was screaming at him to run, to get away, that she was most likely a Stamarian spy, or assassin.
He quashed those suspicious feelings at once, knowing they'd only hurt him for the time being. Odds are good she's just trying to relax you, before she screams for the guards. He thought sadly as the slight contact between their hands ended. Play along for now, get outside. Get away.
His voice dropped all nervousness, and the cooler, calm tone he usually used when not on missions made an appearance. "I'm sorry," He said with a sincere smile, "Where are my manners? We've been talking for several minutes, and I never offered my name."
He slowly extended his free hand, as gently and carefully as possible, as if afraid too hard a touch would shatter the beautiful girl in front of him. "My name is Joe. And I can assure you, ma'am. I have no intention of taking you to see my uncle, unless you truly wish to meet him. He's an old, proud man, not very fond of Stamarians, truth be told. But maybe you're right, would you like to continue our conversation someplace...more private? And maybe the beautiful lady would find it within her to tell me her name?
If I'm gonna get caught, might as well get her name before I do. He thought with a inwardly sarcastic tone. Another time, another place. Friendship might have been possible, she seems a nice girl, with a sister to care for. But remember, Joe. She's Stamarian, and you're Valtheran, when has that ever worked out?
His sincere, gentle smile remained in place, even reaching the remote heights of his emerald eyes, giving them a soft gleam as he waited for a reply, or a shout of warning for the guards.
Post by sentranicia on Mar 11, 2010 21:28:42 GMT -5
((Just fine, friend. I do enjoy your writing.))
Zandara smiled warmly up at the soldier as he spoke, his words somewhat less nervous, but only just. As he offered his hand and name, she obliged him and reached her own hand out. Looking him directly in the eye, she grasped and shook his hand firmly, letting her skin linger on his for a moment before releasing the gesture, "Zandara. Dara, if it strikes your fancy. I know of a small bar if you would like to travel there. I don't recall there being many customers, though the food and drink are just fine. Or if you would prefer, there are many garden parks we could choose from."
She picked up the edges of her small skirt, lifting it ever so slightly and bowing low in a curtsy, "I would be pleased to take you wherever you would like by my horse's stride."
Standing straight once more, Dara looked up at Joe with a gentle smile on her face. She wondered if the Valtheran army could offer her any better price for her work, so she could afford better arrangements for her dear sibling. She would be sure to ask.
Dara raised a hand to her shoulder, crossing her arm across her body. She let her thumb flick against the hollow her throat for just a moment before resting in the gentle curve of her collarbone. The bare skin over her shoulders was warm and soft, something she was quite used to showing off. Somehow, speaking to this man, she was only slightly more comfortable with it. She cocked her head, looking at him with a soft grin. He was a kind man.
She'd have to be careful.
Last Edit: Mar 11, 2010 21:29:11 GMT -5 by sentranicia
he delicately, almost reluctantly let go of her hand, "Zandara," He spoke softly, trying out the name. He inclined his head slightly in a nod, "A beautiful name, and just a hint of mystery to boot." he ended with a soft grin.
"I've been to this city a few times, but I'm afraid I don't know the bar you speak of. I'm not usually one for new things, but this bar intrigues me."
Plus...if this is a trap, might as well die inside where it's warm. The darker, sarcastic part of him thought vehemently. He wasn't entirely sure of Zandara's motives yet, but she hadn't turned him in. And seemed willing to talk, with just a hint of cooperation and...something else. It felt odd, but some of her movements and gestures seemed almost...seductive, in nature.
At this point his sarcastic side found it necessary to point out Ha! Like you'd know if a girl was trying to be sexy or not. When was your last date? oh right...never. He mentally shook himself, he doubted that it was her intention to appear that way to him, maybe that was how she always acted, he hadn't known her long enough to be sure.
His smile remained in place, (he found her presence comfortable, disarming.) "You say you have a horse, and you know this city better than I. I am at your mercy, Zandara, lead onwards." He said softly, inclining his head politely and bowing ever-so-slightly in response to her curtsy.
Post by sentranicia on Mar 12, 2010 13:46:09 GMT -5
Her eyes followed his lips' movement as he spoke, taking in the words he spoke carefully. Ah, the bar it was. She smiled at him then, blinking softly in consent. She was hungry anyway, and if she could get him drinking it might get him talking more freely, which certainly wouldn't hurt her situation. Zandara lowered her eyes to his feet, scanning up to take in his whole body. He was about an inch taller than her, but he didn't look much heavier. There was a long scar on his face that intrigued her. Perhaps he had come by it by simple soldier work, but certainly it had been a painful injury.
His comment almost made her laugh, but she suppressed it carefully with a fuller smile than the one she had been wearing before, "That you are, friend. Please. Come." She gestured for him to follow and started outside. There, she smiled as her horse greeted her with a whinny and swishing white tail. She stepped over to the huge animal and reached into her pocket, pulling another sugar cube and feeding it lovingly to the stallion.
"This is Whisper. My best friend and comrade." She smiled at the horse, "Be nice to him, Whisper. He's not going to hurt me." The horse snorted and sighed and Zandara laughed, stepping to the side and putting on her riding cloak, and mounting gracefully. She turned to Joe and offered him her hand. He'd have to ride behind her in the saddle. She smiled broadly down at him. This could be very interesting.
Post by Steinerman on Mar 12, 2010 14:10:31 GMT -5
Joe paused awkwardly. He'd never been comfortable around women to begin with, and now that he wasn't really playacting at being anyone but himself, his usual awkward step and tied tongue seemed to be ready for an appearance.
He paused as she mounted the horse, obviously he'd have to ride behind her. Right...this'd be the time you mention to your possible walking death warrant that 'oh yeah, where do I hold on?' Brilliant idea, moron. He thought angrily to himself.
"Uh.." He began, "This is going to sound stupid, but where do I ride?" He finished lamely, his cheeks reddening slightly.