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No title.
(2014-03-24 - 2014-03-27)
No description.
Zerum Zerum had, for all intents and purposes, decided that one of the surefire ways to expand his ability to siphon memories or to hijack others' consciousnesses, it would have to involve dark magic of some kind. His shadowmancy skills were limited at the time, but he knew that Rakassa had an extensive information network that might enable him to connect with other sources who knew of those who were versed in the ways of black sorcery.

The drow didn't have to go back too far into some of the files in Vector, to which he'd been given limited access for the time being, to learn about an incredibly recent incident involving the rescue of Vohstras, Cadence, and one Morgan Alabaste. Rakassa had personally been dispatched to foil the schemes of a very well-known outlaw who'd eluded Vector for some time, who went by the name of 'Rohy', so, following the emancipation of the hostages, the Admiral graciously extended to the victims a complementary stay in the medical ward so that they could all recover from their ordeal. This was well-publicized, since it served to brag on the naval general's reputation-- naturally, she took all the credit, and anyone else involved in the rescue were downplayed when it came down to attention afforded by the Vector media. It was also said that she personally visited some of the victims in the hospital to make certain that they were granted nothing but the highest quality of doctoring during their stays; did she hold conversations with them about their religious beliefs, their careers, and their families, as a way of offering a good bedside-manner?

None could truly say, but one thing was clear.... She was known for extracting information even where it seemed where there was none, and it was almost as if she could squeeze blood from a stone. This was precisely why Zerum had sought an audience with /her/, instead of some lower-ranked peon. So it was that the dark elf entered her chamber boldly, as he'd been given permission to do, albeit only during certain hours, in the vein of doing some extracting of his own. Dark knights /were/ good at draining health from others, so, why not information, too?
Rakassa Looking up from a decent glass of wine, Rakassa lightly frowns. She's already have way to being well and truly pickled. The fact that someone is disturbing her is usually grounds for yelling, threats, and maybe a thrown object or two. No, right now, she's regretting ever giving Zerum permission to come in on a whim.

"What is it?" No hellos, no pleasantries. She's not going to waste time on someone /not/ currently attending to her needs. This is business, after all. She does at least kick out a chair, though, followed by a glass of wine. An admiral has to at least pretend to have manners and respect for her fellow person.
Zerum The dark elf came in, hoping to be received with a minimal amount of cordiality, but when Rakassa abruptly demands to know what it is he wants, he shakes his head, and wags his finger disapprovingly, "Now, now, for someone who I didn't retaliate against after the stunt you pulled with that camera of yours, you should extend a little more warmth, don't you agree?" This was, in every sense of the word, a facectious stab at how generous he was hypothetically being despite Rakassa's perversity, when the fact was that he knew very well she received no satisfaction from the photograph she took; all cameras contained metal, and Valos had detected the device long before she'd plucked it from her pocket. Needless to say, when he started to get the idea that she was going to use it, since she'd already squandered a minute leering at him, Zerum was ready to disrupt its functionality by the time she'd gotten the thing lined up with her eyes, and pushed the button-- ultimately, the admiral ended up with a blurry image that didn't do Zerum any justice, which didn't even account for the fact that the quality was so poor that he couldn't've been identified at all.

Programs similar to photoshop existed, alas... if it had to be heavily edited, wouldn't it have been just as useful to start from scratch using a standard picture? Zerum can feign ignorance all day long, if the accusations start up. He throws back his hand dismissingly, and gets straight to the point, since Rakassa wasn't interested in digression, "I just got back from the Thunder Plains, and brought with me a generous sample of the metal of which the towers used to ground the lightning are comprised. In the process of doing this, I sustained considerable damage, and ended up owing somebody a favor who came along and healed me. I succeeded where Captain Vohstras Egress could not, so..... now I've come to collect." And indeed, many folks could travel through the Thunder Plains while getting moderately burnt if they were fast or hardy, but who would have /dared/ to actually haul around a hunk of metal that weighed in the hundred-something-pound realm, while meandering through that death-trap?

Even more importantly, who /could/ have done something like that, short of the likes of a supremely-talented warlock that was capable of heaving cumbersome loads while also deflecting the incoming barrages of voltaic matter, for the simple price of being allowed to ask a few questions? No, not even Rakassa's 'favorite' vassal could have done this deed, and maybe Zerum didn't excel at absolutely everything in the same fields as the frosty Mtek, but because of his unique ability to magnetize metal, this was a task for which he was well-suited. As part of their deal, Valos had fulfilled one of the chores that had been assigned to him, and it spoke volumes for his greediness, that he was extremely prompt in having the debt paid instead of giving Rakassa a sliver of time to just sit back and enjoy the artifact, instead of having to worry about being nagged by the tax-man!
Rakassa "I'm not interested in games right now." Apparently, the woman's in a bad mood, and is clearly not willing to play ball. "Let's get down to business." She presses.

Then, there's mention of payment. She'll of course first confirm with one of her underlings via a linkshell that it's actually been received, before leaning back. Chatter chatter. She takes her time here in confirming it. Oh yes, she's going to double check. No one short of the Emperor makes her work on the time of others.

"...Alright, looks like you're not lying. Not a bad job I suppose. Could've been a bit more prompt."

Tilting her head this way and that, she ponders. "Alright. What's your asking price?"
Zerum The dark elf rolls his eyes, "Seems that when it's convenient for /you/, that you expect others to eagerly cooperate and play /your/ games, but when you get a taste of your own medicine....." He shugs, helplessly, deciding not to make a massive fiasco, by charitably refraining from finishing his sentence. Zerum had patiently stagnated in limbo while Rakassa confirmed that the package had been delivered as promised, and he snaps his fingers, to demonstrate pride in his achievement, "I could've walked up to the first tower I saw, ripped out a measly fistful of its exterior, before returning..... But I went beyond the call of duty. I examined every single one of those shoddy poles, and once I felt the strongest presence of concentration of the mystery metal that was contained in those things, I tore a yeti-sized piece, then dragged it all the way to Vector."

He rests his thumb underneath his chin in a thinking posture, "....I think I'm entitled to at least a few leads, not just one." With that, he points demandingly at Rakassa, in a manner that shows confidence and determination, something that practically nobody in all of the imperial nation would do to the admiral, showing that he had no plans of backing down even mildly, "I'm going to have some names before I leave this room. And I want at least a few clues as to where Miss Alabaste was last seen, even if it was from some time ago. If I'm to evolve in my field, then I need to seek out persons who have a grasp of dark magics; I don't care if some of the names you give me are no more substantial than mere rumors suggesting the existence of said individuals, but I want something to work with, because sometimes even phantoms can be touched." As abrasive as he was, the truth was, Zerum was still far less rotten than Rakassa at his core, but he was every bit as fiery, which could be seen in how he refused to budge on getting adequate funding for his work.
Rakassa Once again, Rakassa neatly takes refuge in her wine, not at all taking the bait Zerum lays out. She swallows a majority of the glass, before kicking up her booted feet. Nope, this one isn't going to show a shred of decency here.

At least, until it comes to payment. She actively smiles. "Finally. Someone with a spine." She actually sounds impressed.

"If you need the elf, investigate the Church of Glabados. As for magicians...mmm. One moment."

She touches her ear, and has a whispered conversation with one of her flunkies. Normally, it'd be Queegma, but the kappa's away. No, instead, she's quietly relayed some information that she already well knows by now.

"A name is all I have. 'Seith'. One of my informants say he's known as a user of dark powers. Don't know anything else, though. Payment enough?" Slowly, she grins.

"Keep working like you did today, and /maybe/ you'll get paid like a real mercenary."
Zerum Valos groans, pinching the bridge of his nose as though warding off a headache, "Need I remind you that I'm a dark knight, and not a prophet? I can only get things accomplished as quickly as I get handed the orders. I have no way of knowing in advance what you want from me, and there's always a slight delay before I get started, because I don't like to just go jumping off cliffs blindly, with but a scant /hope/ that there may be a fifty percent chance of an outcropping or two that'd break my fall." He scratches his head, and it sways side to side for a moment as he thinks, "Beyond that, I fathom that you've given me enough to handle, for now, if due to the fact that tracking down two separate people will take a good amount of time; with my luck, they're on opposite ends of the World of Ruin."

He cackles defiantly, but not in a bellowing fashion, as a maniacal individual would do who gets overwhelmed by their feelings; like other dark elves of his blood-line, he was diluted in that sense, "....Paid like a real mercenary?" Zerum frowns faintly, "With ears like those, one would think you'd be a great listener. I don't want to be paid like a real mercenary, because real mercenaries have no direction in life. They chase their own tails endlessly, with no comprehension of their inability to satisfy their impulses using temporary solutions, such as confections, liquor, and sex." Well.... that's nice, he just insulted everything that made Rakassa's life worth living, but the chances were, he didn't do it intentionally, he has no idea that she's another hedonist who lives hand-to-mouth, hoping to gratify herself with indulgences of the flesh.

Haughty, and thinking himself transcendant of the frailties of standard sapient ideology, Zerum must have been leaving a bad taste in Rakassa's mouth already.... not that she wasn't arrogant, and of the belief that she was above others, as well-- but here, the drow went and actually defined /why/ he felt his ambitions were more idealistic. Rakassa usually just used violence to convince others she was right and that they were wrong, so there may have been a chance that certain dark elves' words had actually stung her like no words from any other she'd encountered, before. Welcome to the personality of the erudite; they're superior, they know it, -AND- they /will/ validate their claims. Nothing deflates another's ego more than being shown up, if they actually have an ego..... but with how much Rakassa bragged, was that ever in doubt?
Rakassa The woman herself laughs a bit. "Just pray they don't end up in another world entirely~" Sing-songs the elf tauntingly. Clearly the man has enough on his plate indeed, but Rakassa can't help but rib him a bit.

"Mmm. Not very proactive, are you? Oh well. I only need a decent lap dog." Shrug.

Her eyes go wide just a moment as her lifestyle is neatly prodded. Anger rises up...and cools. A smile comes to her face, and she leans over the table after setting her feet down, seduction in her eyes even as there's poison. To lay with her is to lay with a snake.

"...No direction? Pleasure, my dear Zerum, is direction in and of itself. It fuels ambition, greed, desire.../everything/! The want for a better life, less pain, enjoyment, love, lust! It's the underpinnings of any society. People are just too stubborn to admit it."
Zerum Zerum points at Rakassa, critically, "If it ends up that every time you give me a lead and they turn out to not be in this world, or any reachable ones, then you may find yourself in another world, too.... so you better do some praying, too." He growls, disliking Rakassa's propensity towards trying to daunt his quest, which was already anything but an easy one. He sees the anger escalate, before it sinks back down, mayhap implying that she had a retort in mind to the dark elf's argument, so Valos steels himself in case she says something even remotely brilliant, against which he'd need to exert some labor to counter. Soon enough, she goes into a miniature tangent about how her drive for euphoria and that of others gives them the initiative they need to function, but first, he corrects her, wagging his finger, "Lord Valos, or Mister Valos will do fine, thank you.... we may be allies, but we're not even close to having a personal relationship."

The drow folds his arms over his chest, "They're devoid of direction because they're no more competent than any mindless, drooling beast that becomes hungry, who responds by immediately going off to use the same old trick to fix the problem without realizing that the problem will simply arise all over again a few hours later!" He scoffs, "Your idea of direction is as developed as the predispostion of a magnet to move towards or away from whatever polarity is influencing it in that very moment. Is that the extent of your vision? To be a slave to your own components?"

Zerum grins, "You bigwigs who run nations always talk about ruling the world, but none of you can even govern the whims of your own bodies, or minds.... so what good is owning the world, when you don't even own yourself?" He laughs..... this time, a /real/ laugh, a condescending, conceited, and as cocksure as one could possibly be, yet.... it still wasn't terribly loud-- positively-charged sounds, especially emotional ones, were the root of his undoing, and this is why music effected him so thoroughly.
Rakassa Rakassa only rolls her eyes as she's corrected initially. Here, she puts her feet right back on the table. Seems she's not willing to play ball when it comes to politeness. She's the employer here, on her soil. She'll be damned if she follows the whims of some croney.

"Same old trick? Poor, ignorant soul. If you lust enough, desire enough, and have enough coin? There are pleasures you couldn't even /dream/ of. I'll be the first to admit I'm a hedonist. I don't claim to cling to some ideal...aside from Emperor and country of course." She has to pay /some/ lip service.

"A life without pleasure isn't worth living. That's what I believe. That's why I work so damn hard, so I can afford to enjoy my life. Other than that? I don't give a hound's tail about 'ruling the world' or 'governing'. I'm an Admiral. Heh. Even /that/ gives me ways of having a good time." She's squarely in the sadist territory, after all, and seeing the light slip from someone has its own joys.

"Leave the ideals and rulership to my betters. I'll reap the profits as I may right here."
Zerum Cooperation wasn't a strongpoint of Rakassa's, but in Zerum's line of work, it was expected to that turbulence needed to be tackled, at intervals. It was plausible that her delusions of grandeur would leave her exposed to ideological attack, but the woman could always shrink back into her shell and start spouting nonsensical diatribes if she didn't have actual arguments with intellectual weight to them-- that happened to be a typical response from those who had nary a substantial recourse, from what Valos had seen in his lifetime!!

"There may be pleasures I could not dream of, but they will be pleasures you won't have, if you don't strive to be second-to-none. So pine away for what will always be out of your reach, then, and watch as others delight in what the world has to offer, while you settle for cheap knock-offs of what they inherit." He smirks, proudly; could she truly disagree that if she was willing to be a doormat to the emperor, that she would be able to revel equally in the same tokens that brought him comfort? How could one who was lower, hope to be equal? Mathematically, that was an impossibility, and if there was one thing Zerum knew, the mechanics of the coding behind all reality could not be refuted, with any true gravity. "There you go. You yourself just admitted it. You /work/ so d*mn hard.... and you always will sweat, because you are blue-collar, underneath all the fronts you adopt of greatness, which is precisely why...."

His teeth show as his smile widens to a massive degree, " will continue to leave ideals to your betters.... people such as myself...." Well. Unless she had a good comeback to that one, the dark elf was sure that he'd just hung her with her own rope; this is where he suspected she would tire of debating, and insist he stop dawdling, so as to put his money where his mouth was, by going out to achieve some of the things he asserted that he would accomplish. It wouldn't change the fact that her confession defined her as one of the 'worker-class', but it would at least get the uppity blue-skinned blue-blood out of her hair!

There was one ace in her hole that she wished to use, but most likely much to her dismay, was something that was unuseable because of confidentiality issues-- she was a Shadow Lord. That gave her access to more resources than what she had as an admiral in exclusion. It must have burned inside to know that she could have pulled that out of her hat, but knowing that if she did, the consequences would be dire; one thing Rakassa was notorious for disliking, if anything, was holding her tongue.... alas, even gods and demons sometimes must eat a slice of humble pie. Mayhap the sole thing to comfort her in what could be disputable as a moment of defeat, was that she could one day toss aside her mask and reveal all that she was, thus enabling her to turn the tables on her conquistador, and relish the most delicious dish ever known to man, or demonkind..... revenge!
Rakassa Rakassa starts to roll her eyes...up until the point where he mentions that he's her better. Hands slam into the table, shaking the very wood as she stands up. She glares over the table. "...You filthy little elf git! You never have been, and never will be my equal, nevermind my 'better'. You're a foreigner, an outsider, and arrogant besides! Know your place, mercenary! What armies do /you/ lead?" Indeed, in Vector, she's miles above the man.

"Get out of my office, and get back to work. I don't pay you to sling insults at me. Next time you run off the mouth like that to me, you're spending a week rotting in jail. And I'll be sure there's not a hint of metal within a mile of you!" He's definitely rustled her hair here.
Zerum Zerum flaps his wrist dismissively, evidently unimpressed with her threats, as she calls him a snob, which is something he's heard a plethora of instances in the past; it might've even been true, but he didn't care, since he felt it was well founded. Of course, when she asks a question, as if to solidify her stance on being superior to him, in regards to leading an army, the dark elf yawns a little, "What armies do I lead? A better question is, what armies do I /need/?" He starts to walk towards the door, since he can already tell that the woman is tired of his prattling, besides the fact that she couldn't really decry his words that effectively, in an academic sense, "I'm sure you've heard the tale of 'The Leafer And The Kappa', back in your world?" He looks over his shoulder at her, "It speaks of a lagomorph that lives a fast-paced life, rushing ahead to win a race, while the slow-moving, but tenacious turtloid moves steadily, even though it rapidly loses ground to the rabbit.

Eventually, though, the Leafer thinks, in its pomposity, that it cannot ever lose, because it has so many resources at its disposal.... mainly, a lot of speed, and a much better start than the Kappa had." He shrugs his shoulders, "Turns out, though, that because the rabbit gets swallowed up in its own sense of sense, that it comes to a halt, while the tortoise-man bypasses it, eventually giving it the chance to win the race." The dark knight points accusingly at Rakassa, "You have armies /now/, and you have a better start than I do. But you will reach a stopping point, because you freely admitted without persuasion from my end, that you're content to stay beneath others in this life, complacent to enjoy the feeble, temporal delectables that keep you from reaching self-actualization." He hooks a thumb at himself, after that, "I, the tortoise, currently have no armies, and paltry finances, which could be comparable to being the one getting off to a slow start..... but here is something you may not have known....." Or maybe she did, and if she did, the reminder of such would've most likely eaten away at her upon having it brought up, "My race lives a very long time.... longer than you, human! And besides /that/? We've been known to auto-resurrect. Once you die, you will either become dust, or end up having to owe Hades in order to return to the land of the living, by making some pitiful bargain in which you'll be under his sway! Myself?"

He flicks his head back, causing his braid to swing towards his back, "I will be subject to no liabilities if I come back, which means I will rack up no debts." At this point, she commands him to evacuate, which he's in the process of doing, for fear, although not much of it, of being stuffed into some box for a week or so, "....If there won't be a hint of metal within a mile of me, that's naught but an assurance, Miss Rakassa..... because that will mean that /YOU/ will not be there!" Standing in the doorway, facing her, he issues one final taunt, ".....I've seen how you've studied me, and even now, the fact that I make your blood boil as you stand helplessly to bend me to your will, it just makes me all the more appetizing to you to make into one of your conquests.... That picture you tried to take? I'm pretty sure I can guess why you took it.... but as you know, the moment you're close to me, I'll but strain my mind to deprive you of the metals in your body, denying you not just myself.... but YOURSELF. You talk of me never knowing pleasures? Well.... I am one you shall never have!" The drow pivots on his heels, and exits, allowing the door to close behind him, quietly.
Rakassa Slowly, the 'leafer' of the pair stands. Already incensed, she visibly trembles in fury. "THEN GET OUT YOU DAMN TURTLE BEFORE I DEVOUR YOU!" Screams the admiral, several guards down the hallway wincing. Yup, they're soon to have /very/ bad days. Nevermind how Queegma'll be treated when he's back!

Then she's being taunted with death, and the possibility of making a deal with that bastard Hades. /Another/ deal. It's at this point that the wine glass goes zipping past Zerum's head out into the hallway as he moves to leave, smashing into the back of one of the guard's heads.

"DON'T YOU DARE! YOU'LL NEVER GET TO MY LEVEL!" Shouts the woman, clearly in no more mood for rational discussion.

This scene contained 14 poses. The players who were present were: Rakassa, Zerum