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Halflight => HALFLIGHT: Hiding In The Half Light => The Grounds => Topic started by: Existentially Odd on January 11, 2012, 11:25:38 AM

Title: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 11, 2012, 11:25:38 AM
(continued from 'Island Tour' (

He was awake, dressed and in position slightly before the sun started streaking the sky with any colour.  The air was fresh and invigorating; he stood in his black tunic and tight pants with his usual left thigh knife and left hip dagger scabbards on, wishing that he could change form.  The wolf in him objected to the thicker-soled boots he was wearing, to the restriction of clothing when the air was so crisp and fresh.  He'd have preferred to be running free on four paws now that he smelled the promise in the air but he resisted the urge.  Standing with his back to the forest, his senses singing, he folded his arms across his chest and watched for Samuel.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 11, 2012, 12:03:23 PM
Samuel wasn't late by anybody's standards, for he'd left the main building before the sun had come up.  He'd taken his time approaching the place where Aarik waited, however, detouring to look at a few of the nearby squat buildings thoughtfully before making his way over.  He spotted Aarik even though the other was well camouflaged by the shade of the trees.

He went directly to him, and let him know exactly what he wanted his tour to be comprised of.

"I want to visit the labs first, and you can show me what you've been working on," he said, and smiled winningly.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 11, 2012, 12:20:10 PM
Aarik simply blinked for a moment, thinking how Samuel seemed to be constantly surprising him.  There was something to be said for that but it was still continually disconcerting.  Unsettling.

"I... thought you wanted to see the island," he protested mildly, his right shoulder dipping to indicate the foliage behind him.  He'd been looking forward to an early run through the forest, plus he had no way of accessing the labs just then.  He was given the very great privilege of getting the key to the labs at night, but he had to pre-arrange the getting of it from a high apprentice or one of the masters (typically, the master was usually much more willing to part with their key than any of the high apprentices, who enjoyed lording their power over him) and he always returned it dutifully when he was done.

"I can't get into the labs until the first tutors open them for the morning's lessons.  Unless I break in.  But that's frowned upon," he grinned, wondering if Samuel had a plan b.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 11, 2012, 01:10:35 PM
"The labs are on the island," Samuel countered good-naturedly, but the quality of his smile had changed, and it was fading into an expression of speculation.  He was surprised to hear that Aarik didn't have his own key to the labs, for all the bragging and knowledge he claimed to have.  Surely a top student (or a graduate) would have access to the labs?  How else would they research and expand on their skills if not given the opportunity to enter the labs and try things out for themselves?

"I'm very good with locks," Samuel informed Aarik, still with his light tone, though he wasn't taking no for an answer.  "I've never met one that wasn't persuaded to let me in."
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 11, 2012, 01:18:35 PM
The corner of Aarik's mouth lifted in a smirk as he contemplated Samuel's assertion that he could break into the labs.  He was, unfortunately, quite interested in seeing the new student at work and even though it was wrong to break into the labs, their tour would be quick.  It was extremely unlikely that anyone would know and if they did... he'd sell it as a training or testing exercise that he'd challenged Samuel with.

"If you insist," he murmured and set off in the direction of the free-standing lab building.  It wasn't connected to the main compound because of the dangers housed within.  Buildings that could explode were best kept at a distance, so it wouldn't take them long to get there.  He eyed Samuel as they walked.  "Do you have tools?"
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 11, 2012, 01:50:19 PM
Samuel nodded, his focus on the squat building they were approaching.  Once there, he followed Aarik to the door that was the best to gain unnoticed entry.  He knelt down at the lock, which was really just a bar padlocked into place.  The padlock was a standard thing, though smaller than he was expecting.  He reached beneath his tunic, felt around for the place where he'd stashed his lock picks, and pulled them out, keeping one between clenched teeth while he held the lock in one hand and inserted the thin wire using two fingers with the other.

He removed the second tool from his teeth, which looked like a narrow wire also, though it hooked at the end.  He scraped it along the below the first tool, feeling it latch onto the tumblers that expected the teeth of a key to slot into place, and with a single tug outward, the tumblers fell into place and the padlock clicked open.  Samuel didn't take time to give Aarik a smug expression; he merely put his lockpicks away and pulled the small padlock off the bar, shifted the metal bar sideways, and pulled the door open.

Now he looked at Aarik, to see if he would precede Samuel inside.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 11, 2012, 03:08:24 PM
Samuel's timing was certainly not that of someone new to lockpicking; Aarik mentally timed him and wondered whether he'd be able to do a better job.  They seemed on par, scarily.  When he was looked at, he did enter the building first, ensuring that the lock was brought in and the door closed behind them before he led Samuel through.  The laboratory building consisted of four classrooms in each corner of the long rectangular building, connected by corridors and huddled around central supplies, office and preparatory work areas.

Aarik worked in one of the preparatory areas - usually reserved for tutors, masters and high apprentices, but a concession was made for him.  It was little more than a glorified walk-in pantry with a work bench all the way around it - two stools were tucked beneath the work bench - and three all-round shelves following the same pattern above the bench.  An air vent was set into the roof and a long, thin window was set above the topmost shelf in the building's outer wall but these were the only sources of air and light in the trumped-up cupboard.  It rarely bothered Aarik, for there were lamps set upon the bench that he could light and he did that first of all, so Samuel could see what was going on.

He kept his work on the first shelf, in a corner at the back of the room.  It consisted of a bunch of chests, vials, powder containers and a rather thick sheath of bound notes, ink vials and a few quills but it was all packed up neatly because he would never have left anything out.  He walked to the bench at the end of the space, turned around and leaned his ass against the work bench behind him, casually gripping the edges of it either side of his hips as he looked at Samuel.  "This is where I work, by myself," he introduced.  "My stuff's up here," he indicated with a tilt of his head.  "How much do you want to know about it?  I have a... few projects on the go," he smiled serenely.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 12, 2012, 03:26:43 PM
As soon as he entered, he assessed his surroundings.  A second exit was through the main door, which they hadn't come through, choosing the padlock-barred side door instead.  The smell was what accosted him immediately, and he'd been looking forward to working in here.  He'd been rather affronted to be told that the first year students wouldn't be accessing the laboratories until winter, which meant Samuel had at least four months to wait.  This tour had been very appealing, and his mind had calculated quickly which three things he'd most wanted to access.  He'd narrowed it down to two for this morning, but would pester Aarik (if they had time) to continue their tour later tonight.

"Show me what you're working on," he indicated immediately, for he'd expected Aarik to invest in his own self-pride enough to mention his own work.  He'd figured the apprentice was likely working on poisons, for what else would a graduate from the Academy work on?  He was keen now, and not concerned about hiding it.  He didn't need or want to hide his apparent interest in Aarik's work, for it could only be complimentary.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 12, 2012, 03:48:48 PM
Aarik snorted.  "What I'm working on is locked up in my room and spread around the island - I'm not stupid enough to leave the important stuff here, in one place, where any fool can break in and access it," he said pointedly, his lips lifting in a smirk though his eyes were twinkling playfully.  "These are my raw ingredients.  My main project at the moment involves extrapolating truth serum into a mind control potion, like those Veneficus asses claim can only be done with magic," he explained scornfully.

He fell quiet momentarily, looking Samuel over and thinking about how, the night before, he was inspired to ponder what sort of substances could be delivered during a kiss, if there would be any way to protect him and affect his victim only.  He thought better of sharing that with his very clever touring partner, though.

"Personally, I think potions and poisons are far more effective than magic anyway," he declared, shrugging one shoulder and standing up, off the bench.  "Do you want me to show you how to mix something up?" he offered.  "A love potion, perhaps?"  He managed to hide his smile behind a mild expression as he indicated his raw ingredients stock pile.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 12, 2012, 04:49:01 PM
"I'm not interested in love," he said curtly, unable to hide his disappointment at the fact Aarik had no poisons handy.  He was interested in the mind control concoction, but because it wasn't yet formulated, it had no use for him.  "I hate to admit, the only poisonous substances I know of are the ones that occur naturally, such as nightshade, apple seeds or berries from a privet bush."  He shrugged, for he'd already made a few handy toxins from such, but he was certain he could learn much more from the Academy.  "What about paralytics?"

He wandered around as he spoke, making it appear that he was curious about what every student table held, and neared the storage cupboard, peering into it as he asked his question.  "I wouldn't mind making one of those."

He figured Aarik would be happier not showing him how to mix up a poison.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 12, 2012, 09:22:59 PM
Aarik watched Samuel pace and casually discuss paralytics - not your everyday dawn topic of conversation, to be sure, but the new student was almost offhanded enough to be believable.  "That's a very advanced creation you're talking... you haven't got the theory behind you for that - and I won't even mention the various methods of delivery you'd have to choose between.  You can buy them, of course, already made, but they're expensive and what would you need it for anyway?"

His tone was just as studiously casual, though he knew Samuel would realise he was surprised and digging for more information.  Would the lowly student take his question as a polite scolding for be so bold as to pretend he could mix up an advanced serum just with Aarik's direction, or was there something more to it?  It felt that either might be a possibility, though he couldn't fathom the latter reasoning.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 12, 2012, 09:31:48 PM
"Because I'm bored!" Samuel replied huffily, not liking the demands Aarik's questioning placed on him.  "It doesn't have to be a paralytic, I just thought those would be easier than actual poisons.  Why don't you just smirk at my ignorance?  It's not like you've been stuck here in this stupid school while I've been accomplishing daily missions, or anything," he finished, glaring at Aarik because he hadn't liked the lofty way the other had addressed him.  It was beginning to wear thin.  He turned the corner and disappeared, this time not necessarily making a pretense of it, but he didn't go for anything - slipping something into his uniform would be obvious and clumsy.

He could read labels, though.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 12, 2012, 10:27:25 PM
Aarik allowed a small frown at Samuel's retreating back as he blew out the lamp he'd lit and set off after him, planning on catching up with him but not necessarily interfering.  The display of emotion was interesting but probably not genuine - and if not, why not?  Even more interesting.

The junction area between the four classrooms contained short hallways and crossways leading to a myriad of tutor offices, smaller preparation rooms like Aarik's work area and even a staff eating area.  There were supplies closets (all locked) standing in some hallways or sometimes they took up an entire work room (earning a labelled door for the trouble) and Samuel seemed intent on sticking his head into every nook and cranny, peering at all of it (if it opened) but saying nothing.  Aarik allowed it, for his leash was necessarily loose, when he was doing his damndest to impress the recruit and advance his own career.

"You think the school's stupid?" he prompted mildly as he followed behind the other man, his arms linked behind his back.  He wondered if he was pushing Samuel too hard to switch houses, or if it was simply that he wasn't cut out for the workings of another institution when one had already shaped him (and, truthfully, Aarik was still fascinated by the concept of switching loyalties in such a manner). Either way, the guy didn't seem happy as he stalked through the shadowy inner sanctum of the laboratories.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 12, 2012, 10:31:38 PM
"No," he barked back, not letting himself be sidetracked from looking around.  He paused when he found a door that barred everyone from entry, and wished he hadn't strung Aarik here along with him.

What was it with the apprentice and all his questions?  The interview was over, damnit.

He moved on, reaching out to spin bottles around in order to identify their labels, if they weren't immediately obvious.  He'd stumbled into an area where every powder and liquid seemed to be purple, interestingly enough.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 12, 2012, 10:37:28 PM
"You just called it stupid," Aarik countered, noting that the emotional responses still seemed to be happening.

"Don't knock those together too hard, by the way - unless you'd like to start the day with a literal bang," he joked, though his expression was still carrying a look of mild interest rather than amusement as he eyed off the ingredients Samuel seemed to be interested in looking at.  He really knew nothing of handling chemicals by the way he was so flippant about it.  He'd never been burned enough to gain the respect he ought to be showing to any compound - just in case - Aarik supposed.

He decided to try another tactic.  "Why are you bored?"  He avoided asking how paralytics or poison could liven up Samuel's interest, for that answer was very obvious.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 12, 2012, 10:47:11 PM
Samuel ignored the warning for two reasons.  The first was because he wasn't knocking anything together, he was merely spinning bottles to see their labelled contents (and wondering why anybody would put them away so carelessly that they had to be spun in the first place for identification, especially when this was a student's locale), and the second was due to the fact Aarik seemed so rigid that it was unlikely Samuel would be able to progress further with him.  Contacts in a place like this could come in handy, but as far as he could see, Aarik was going to be a short-term catalyst for what was needed to advance Samuel on his way.

"Why do you insist on asking me questions?" Samuel replied, though with a great deal less emotion in his response than he'd previously shown.  He was already calming, though was still irked with Aarik's penchant for questioning everything.  "I've had a long enough look now, let's go to the--"

He stopped talking and listened intently.  He couldn't even say what had him wary in the first place, but then there was a repeat of the sound - a very gentle sound of steps on grass, close to the laboratory front door, the one they hadn't come though.

He very quickly headed for the side exit, as quietly as he could without sacrificing speed.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 13, 2012, 01:23:52 AM
Aarik heard it when Samuel did and, lips pressed together grimly, he hastened after the younger student.  His mind raced as his feet did, wondering why someone would come to the labs so early but presuming it was a teacher of some sort wanting to set up for a class - very early indeed.  As long as they were quiet and could replace the lock on the other exit, though, he was confident that their transgression wouldn't be noted.

Like a well-oiled team, he got the lock ready while Samuel opened the door, rehearsing mentally how he would close the portal quietly, rebolt and re-lock it as smoothly as possible once they were outside.  Unfortunately, as soon as they stepped out beneath the pink-streaked sky all his plans fell away as he saw that they were not alone.  And they'd been caught red-handed; he still held the picked lock in his hands.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 13, 2012, 06:26:34 AM
There were two Eruditio masters there, including Aarik's own - Jandah.  Another was coming around the corner away from the front doors so silently that the warning of footfalls upon grass had obvioulsy been engineered for them to hear.  The Confuto masters were always deathly quiet, even if they were walking on gravel.

"We didn't just rely on the dustings," the other Eruditio master, Roanne, declared grimly, eyeing the padlock in Aarik's hands before glancing at Jandah for his reaction.  "Sometimes it's a necessary evil to rely on the security enchantments of Veneficus."  She looked back to glare at Aarik, her gaze barely flickering to the first year, Samuel, who she knew well.  All Eruditio masters were familiar with him, and his bizarredly poor choice of house.

The Confuto master said nothing, merely standing to one side.  Neither student was from his house, so he felt there was nothing to say.

Samuel let Aarik do the talking for both of them, given his position.  If he was addressed directly, then he would respond, but the masters were both from Aarik's house and outwardly more interested in his opinion.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Existentially Odd on January 14, 2012, 06:26:03 PM
Aarik decided to start out with what was mostly the truth.  "I was showing Samuel through the lab."

"Without permission," Roanne stated flatly.

"It was a... spontaneous decision," Aarik countered, smiling pleasantly at his masters despite the fear inside him.  "We caused no harm, merely looked around."

Jandah's expression was troubled.  "Why not wait until later, then?"

Aarik switched his concentration to the man he hoped would sponsor him to High Apprenticeship sometime within the next year, nerves tightening the skin around his mouth even though he continued to smile.  Jandah would likely be able to read his discomfort in his face, for they spent a great deal of time together.  He was not the ideal match for Aarik, as far as masters went, but he was the one who had no High Apprentice to serve him and Aarik wished for that position almost more than he wished for his next breath.  They didn't share a vocational interest but Jandah certainly understood his love of cheistry; he was a teacher, after all, and the one who loaned his key to Aarik whenever he asked.  He could only hope that that trusted position hadn't been changed when they'd broken into the labs.

"Because Samuel solved one of my puzzles and wanted his prize - a tour of the island - this morning. I wanted to see how well he could pick a lock so I let him.  You know I'd never do anything harmful to the labs but I believe he's better than a first year and wasted in Libramen so... we looked around.  I was hoping to impress him," Aarik said, tossing the lock to Jandah, who caught it smoothly.  His almost-mumble and regretful tone were convincing enough.  "I'm planning on seeing the Grand Master in a few hours, to discuss Samuel's conversion to Eruditio," Aarik announced, his head held high.  "He's willing, as long as the Grand Masters discuss it."

Both Eruditio masters looked surprised, doubtful and possibly even a little angry as he made this announcement, but Aarik had nothing to hide.  It was his only reasoning for going through with the break-in, after all.  Jandah's attention shifted to the first year at his side.  "Presumptuous," he muttered, shaking his head briefly before looking back at Aarik.  "Well, that won't be happening now.  You're both confined to your quarters for the break in.  Two days.  There may be more, if the Veneficus masters wish to recoup the trouble of re-setting their enchantments.  Go."

Janda's tone didn't brook argument, even though it had been uttered calmly - almost boredly.  Aarik set off towards his quarters immediately, back teeth tapping his agitation with every step.
Title: Re: Island Tour Part II
Post by: Trillian on January 15, 2012, 06:29:22 AM
Samuel lingered for a moment longer after Aarik had already taken his first few steps, considering different outcomes if he said something to the masters now.  By the time Aarik had taken three away, Samuel followed with his eyes downcast, portraying shame when he was really feeling resignation.  So the plan had not gone well.  He should've asked to see the docks first.  The laboratory had proven itself to be not only a waste of time but detrimental to his cause.

He hoped one of his masters from Libramen would notice he was missing from classes the next day and remove him from penance.  After receiving a meagre meal delivered to his door by a level nine student from his house after dinner time, he knew he would have to serve out his time.  At least he share a room with three other Libramen students to speak with, and even though he didn't speak with them, he preferred that he had their company.