The Salon: Anyway, Here's Wonderwall
Jan. 2, 2019, noon
Arx - Ward of the Compact - The Empirical - The Salon
Comments and Log
This evening the Empircal's interior is well lit by lanterns, candles, and a cozy fire in a small fireplace in strategically (and carefully) chosen locations to bring the greatest sense of illumination to the interior. Soft music can be heard, though it remains muffled as though it was heard through a wall or the ceiling above. Marquis Hadrian Mazetti sits among a number of tables and chairs, a glass of brandy held in a cupped hand, and he considers the Empirical in contemplative silence.
It could be pouring rain, it still beats snow. Sunshine in April? Something to be blessed by. Nuala eases into the salon in relatively good spirits. Quiet spirits, then. Her tenebrous appearance owes to wearing too much dark armor. But a glimpse of bright greenish-blue silk is a consolation since cloaks a re purely optional. She breezes into the Empirical, the sway of motion accentuating the bounce of her dark hair. Everything taken in with a swift glance, she will sooner or later focus for a moment on Hadrian. The marquis receives a dip of her head. "Greetings." Oh, there's an accent in there - pure Torean, muddled by a lea... northern overtone.
The sound of a voice causes Hadrian to turn ever so slightly in his chair to get a good look at the arrival. He lifts his glass of brandy in silent acknowledgment before he drains the last of the snifter and sets it to the tabletop. He draws himself up from his seat and approaches Nuala with a bright smile and effects a polite bow before he gestures her to the tables. "Welcome!" he says with a cheerfully bright tone and lifts a hand to the room itself, "To the Empircal. Please make yourself comfortable and...", he begins to laugh a soft and easy sound as his harlequin eyes bound throughout the interior of the Salon's meeting room, "...we'll get started, as it seems we'll not being drawing a crowd. Which is perfectly acceptable. A nice quiet discussion about walls! Riveting stuff!"
Hadrian soon moves to reclaim his seat where one long leg folds over the other at the knee, the booted foot beginning to tap out some rhythm or another to some unheard song. It would seem that he is eager to discuss something as ordinary as walls, because he launches right into it, "For centuries walls have protected our Compact. Whether our individual holdings in our so-called fortress cities or Arx itself," he says with a hand that lifts to indicate the world beyond the Empirical, "A basic fortification in the eyes of many, something which we regularly take for granted."
Tall, monochrome, the two key attributes applying to Nuala are not changed much as she heads for a table. Hadrian makes returning the good mood easy for the somewhat taciturn woman. Still, when he bows, she pauses for just a moment to bring her hands together. "The hospitality is very much welcome." Her heavily wavy hair falls over her face; she brushes a lock aside. After taking a survey of anyone else coming, she settles into a chair comfortably. "Walls are rather riveting. Or riveted. I have no doubt you'll nail down a few theories for me." She stretches out slightly, the design of her corselet not allowing for much slouching anyway. The problem with armor, it tends to keep its shape and that of the soft-bodied warriors inside it.
Once Hadrian starts to speak, she goes quiet. The white-haired bard following her in brings over a glass and settles in at Nuala's shoulder, attentive too. For this, the princess barely pays heed. She nods at the importance of the fortifications noted.
Did someone say free food? Here comes Adora, stomping her way in and looking around to see who is here. Turns out not that many people, which makes this a little awkward, but she heads for whatever looks like it might be edible and free so she can pile it up on a plate and shove a bunch in her mouth. She chews awhile, listening to the first couple of things said about walls, "Roofers definitely like them," is her helpful contribution.
"I will admit that I can claim to be no expert on walls, though life is a pursuit of learning so I can find no better way to learn than to spend it in learning with others," Hadrian remarks with a good natured chuckle. A stocky man in stately attire with a shaved head, Master Luigi, steps forward to refill the snifter with a murky red fluid. Hadrian offers a thankful dip of his chin in regard to Luigi, just before Luigi slips away to return to discussing some matter or another with a group of others seated at the bar. Hadrian's attention turns aside to regard Adora. The comment made results in a sensible chuckle let loose from the throat of the Marquis-Consort as he nods along toward Adora, "Too right. They're vital for sound structural integrity".
Hadrian's attention drifts toward Nuala again, though lingers at a point that permits him to look freely from Adora to Nuala on a whim, "Yet some of them are more special than others or so I've been told. Some of them have histories unto themselves, besides the fact that they provide fortification to our cities or even foreign cities". Hadrian takes up his snifter of cherry brandy, but does not drink from it immediately. He takes a breath, allowing the aroma of the drink to creep into his senses, and then his gaze slips back to regard Nuala and Adora again, "The construction of some of these walls that still stand to this day are beyond the means of ourselves to recreate... for now. It's been said that if Arx were to expand beyond its walls, that the expansion would be vulnerable because they would not be of the same quality as those which were originally erected. Then there is the so-called 'Wall Raisings' that are rumored to have taken place beyond our shores.."
Adora shrugs a shoulder and eyes Hadrian, "The only reason we can't recreate walls is because some asshole in the past wanted to keep her trade secrets to herself. Which is admirable, yeah? I certainly don't share how I go about doing my work. If I did, I'd be out of it pretty quickly. Or are you insinuating that the walls are magical." She looks for a minute like she'd spit off to the side but remembers they're not out on the street and instead has a bite of a pickle, "Seems to be all anyone's talking about these days. Magic this and magic that and unless magic can magic up a feast every night, the average person just doesn't fucking care."
A messenger arrives, delivering a message to Nuala before departing.
The sip of a drink brought to Nuala's mouth silences her in part. She is content to listen, to learn. The careful regard over wine settles in between Adora and Hadrian. That movement to bring the glass up where she can sip is slow and timed. "Are there any walls that old in the Compact outside Arx? And are all the walls of Arx made of old?" she asks, thoughtful. Wall Raisings brings a lift to her eyebrows. Unfortunately barn raisings are utterly unfamiliar. "Could use compounds we no longer have to make, too. Mortar of a special kind resistant to weather, materials we lack."
"Funny that you bring up magic," Hadrian answers back to Adora with a soft shrug of his shoulders, "because I couldn't tell you whether there is some magic involved in the walls of Arx or any other set of walls around Arvum". He offers an apologetic smile, likely as a result of not having all the answers, but continues on with a glance back to Nuala, "Precisely. It may not be some ancient hero or architect being miserly or greedy with their knowledge. It could be the simple fact of lost arts, mundane or otherwise," Hadrian explains with a slow roll of his shoulders in a shallow shrug. He considers Adora and Nuala both, though his attention drifts toward the latter primarily, "The so-called wall raisings though seem a different thing altogether. *If* they are true, *if* the account is factual. Allegedly there is a journal entry belonging to one Prince Cerdic the Sunset Wanderer. In it he makes mention of a foreign empire and...", his mouth twitches ever so slightly with some manner of amusement, "...their conflict with a recent acquaintance of the Compact's. An Undying Empire, also called Jadairal. These 'wall raisings' were, in accordance with the writing, performed through human sacrifice and blood. All with the express purpose of raising massive walls, red as blood. A fantastical tale? One can only imagine so."
"Sounds like a real waste of effort," Adora says, not seeming to pay as much attention to the conversation as she is to the food. "And it probably smelled terrible. But I'd not take my history lessons from someone named the Sunset Wanderer. It sounds like a bard." And from her flat, dismissive tone, they ought not to be trusted.
"Walls made by blood and sacrifice." Nuala repeats the one fragment mostly into her glass. While she muses, Alizarin - a bard - shoots a look at Adora. "May be we cannot recreate them for the cost. Not being willing to pay that much." Her fingertip taps against the side of her wine glass. Now is as good a time as any to drink deep of it. "So a large wall comes up to protect this foreign empire. A wall the size of a country? A city?"
Hadrian's gaze slides sidelong to regard Adora, his eyes drift to her collected meal, and then a faint smile begins to trickle across his features before he offers a faint shrug of his shoulders, "One shouldn't permit prejudices from clouding their eyes and mind to potential truths. It's sets oneself up for failure. An open mind to the world will promote far greater personal growth". Hadrian's attention remains on Adora for a moment, his smile still clearly visible, and then his attention drifts back to Nuala. He nods once toward the speaker of the question and he answers it from memory without a moment of hesitation, "It was described as being miles wide, as far as the eye could see. It sprang up in an instant, upon a geyser of blood, and the height of it was simply described as 'vast'. A broad, tall blood red wall, sprang from the necks of slain prisoners of war and captured agents of Jadairal. If it's true? Then it is a very unsettling thing and wholly unnatural, but when it comes to a discussion about a subject such as walls? Interesting, from a purely academic standpoint. Though by no means am I suggesting that anyone seek to conduct blood magic or similar foul rituals," Hadrian both reassures and warns with a lift of his hands to accentuate his words.
Then his attention drifts back to Adora, then to Nuala, and he asks with a tilt of his head and a soft chuckle, "I am so very sorry. I've failed one tenant of basic politeness and now I must seek to remedy that... may I ask each of your names?"
The description of a blood wall is taken in stride. Nuala looks down into her glass involuntarily. Red wine as innocent and harmless as any vintage. She breathes out slowly and lowers the glass. It rests in the crook of her fingers, dangling there like a lush. "Nuala," she says, without tacking on a surname. "Sword-dancer." The sword in question is sheathed and bound, strapped to her back. Not particularly exciting as it is. Alizarin at her side mouths, "Princess." A good thing she is not seen doing so or she might get an elbow.
"Should we worry that Jadairal's agents will do the same thing here?" Her duskstone eyes narrow in thought. "What goes up comes down. They might be a tactical concern. Theoretically. But then a great wave might rise up and swamp them, equally theoretically."
"Adora," Adora says, stuffing a pickle in her mouth and giving Nuala a glower since she tacked on so much stuff. "I don't dance. Carpenter? Whatever, you're out of pickles." She points out as if this fact is just as important as any anyone is raising about blood walls. "Theoretically, when will more get here?"
Nuala's words earn a tilt of Hadrian's head as though he were trying to place some recalled name, without vocally going through the song and dance of announcing that the name possessed some familiarity. Judging by the twitch of his eyebrows, he remembered. A sudden grin sparks to life, animating his sharp features as he chuckles, "A sword-dancer, hm? Seems everyone is a dancer with their weapon of choice these days, your highness". He pauses to hear out the question regarding Jadairal, though his attention drifts back to Adora at the mention of pickles and their absence while he answers, "My understand is that it was not those from Jadairal that raised the wall. It was their enemy, this Weijin Empire and its Jade Eternal Army, or some such".
A hand lifts and Luigi swings into action; which is to say that he steps quietly over and leans forward to place his head near to Hadrian's shoulder. A quiet exchange is made with a quiet snicker from Hadrian as Luigi withdraws to the bar. The Marquis' attention shifts back to Adora though and he inclines his chin with open curiosity, "A carpenter? Indeed? Are you looking for apprentices by chance? If so I may have some manner of business that we could discuss at some point."
Hadrian adds after a moment, "And, of course, I am Hadrian Mazetti. Marquis of House Mazetti and Moderator of the Salon. A pleasure to meet you, Adora and Princess Nuala."
"The sword teaches me faster than a Whisper," replies Nuala. She nods to the glare shot at her, seeming to be unruffled by Adora's displeasure. Could be all the abundance of food around. No need to resource scavenge or starve here. Her heel rests upon the ground and she rolls her foot from side to side. "I step wrong on a sword, I learn not to do it again." Practicality in a tall, tenebrous package. She chuckles and returns to sipping her wine. A salute made with the glass honours the man's name and rank easily enough. "What more do you know of Weijin? Their reasons might convene any risk to us. It's still a point of good storytelling either way. So, are there any other walls or is this the most famed?"
"Are they annoying and would someone pay me double to take them if they were?" Adora asks. As talk drifts to places she's never really heard of, she hunts around for more condiments. "Bell Bookcases and Cabinets is my place. Just southish of the market. I've never tried to teach anyone anything, but I could try assuming the price was right."
"A matter to discuss later," Hadrian assures Adora with a faint smile which draws easily across his sharp features. A gloved hand lifts and rakes his cold black hair from his forehead, brushing it back before it settles into place, some of it falling forward and aside all over again. Hadrian's attention shifts aside with the return of Luigi, along with Mario to accompany them. Each carries a large jar which contain pickles and each jar is offered over to Adora, while Hadrian explains with a nod, "And kapow. Pickles. Take them with you when you go".
Hadrian's brilliant green eyes turn back to Nuala while his free hand moves to rest atop the arm of his chair where his fingers spread out so that his hand may stand upon his fingertips. He taps at the wood of his chair's arm and then offers a faint shake of his head, regretfully, "I don't know anything more of this Weijin culture. I don't even know if there is more to learn of it. All that I know of is this story, whether fact or fiction, about a great red wall. Though to call it the most famous? I think that is purely subjective. Some would argue that the walls of Arx, Death's own city, are the most famous. Others would say that the walls of Sanctum or Bastion or The Telmarch or some other is the most famous. But is this Weijin wall one of note? Yes, absolutely. Especially when one considers the story behind its creation."
Hadrian clears his throat as he shifts himself forward and his gaze slips sidelong to regard both Nuala and Adora again, his brows twitching upward with a question slipping from his lips, "If you, either of you, would like some notes to review? I can see to it that Master Luigi has them in your hands within the next week or two?"
The selling of carpentry skills is interesting enough. Not something that Nuala gets to hear much of, so she turns her bright eyes over to Adora again. "They're good bookshelves." Her movements carry through as she sits back in the chair, finding some spot that is a little upright than the demanding press of the leather armor requires her to be. She cannot simply unspool herself and sprawl like she owns the place, which she certainly does not. "Weijin. Jade Army. That's not the first time I have heard of a place or..." The words cut off as she shakes her head, probably looking for different words. The questions come away. "Do we know if the Telmar wall acted the same way? Isn't it red, too?" This much is wrested from memory. She ought to know, being a northerner. But that Lycene accent suggests an allergy to snow perhaps.
"Notes would be excellent, if you can."
And with that, Hadrian secures Adora's attendance at every Salon event from now until the end of the time. The jars are greedily grabbed and shoved into a bag she just happens to have on her for moments like this. "Sure, whatever," she replies to Hadrian with a shrug, "Though famous walls are just the ones you have to get through first. Magic, carpentry, smithing, whatever, someone fucking builds it. And someone knows how to get past it. Magic blood wall goes up? Might as well dig under it. Also, ladders." She offers, stuffing handfuls of stuff into her bag since it seems that they're wrapping up. "Keeping people out never works. Neither does keeping people in. One way or another, someone wants something bad enough they're going to find a way to get it. Put walls, locks, dogs, and other people in their way, it won't matter. It'll just make it take longer." When Nuala comments on the bookshelves she nods, "Of course they are. I'm the best carpenter in all of Arvum. I do beds too. War tables, for those that want to plan for wall invasions or fend them off."
A flash of amusement slides across Hadrian's features again, something which Adora says clearly amusing him. He nods once before his attention drifts back to the point between the pair of visitors to the Salon, "Yet sieges happen. If it were as simple as climbing over or digging under, sieges would rarely occur. Arx itself has been besieged and that siege broken, in recent years. Walls are a fantastic fortification," Hadrian nods, though his next words do at least give some credit to Adora's point of view, "but they should never be relied upon as infallible or a sole means of defense."
The Marquis' attention shifts to Adora, then to Nuala and his distinct grin slowly begins to fade and his brow furrows. He seems to fall in upon his own thoughts, considering the question presented by Nuala. After a moment he offers a faint shake of his head, clearly indicating his own ignorance, "I'm... really not sure. I've never saw the Telmarch's wall in person and direction mentions of it, specifically its color, are eluding me. So maybe? I don't know. I'm sorry," he offers his apology likely for his ignorance on the color of a wall in Arvum itself.
He silences himself with a sip from the cherry brandy cradled adoringly within one hand, while his booted foot continues to bounce out its own little rhythm to an unheard song, "I'll be in touch, Adora, to discuss these matters of great carpentry and the Group. Plus, I may stop by some time to peruse your wares."
Hadrian's focus then shifts back to Nuala and he seems to return once again to considering the last question asked by Princess Nuala.
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