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No title.
(2014-03-28 - 2014-03-28)
No description.
Zerum People who were of a higher class did not as often frequent places like taverns or lodges; yes, they did enjoy alcohol like their brethren, yet, wine-sampling was their standard place of inebriation, or places that served high-end liquors. Another place for the nobility in particular, especially the intellectual types, were at book-signings, inside of libraries. Being an individual who was a dark knight part of the time, yet a scholar the other portion of his life, as a seeker of wisdoms, Zerum Valos had elbowed his way into getting a small booth at a library where he had been granted a place to promote his own book, that he was offering with the accompaniment of his John-Hancock.

His was a more obscure title that had to do with a fusion between the dark arts as well as ethics, which left most folks a little uncomfortable, since shadowmancy was a subject that upstanding citizenry feared, to a degree, or felt was too corrupt for them. Providence shone on him because he happened to have a few contacts within the church, otherwise he might not have been allowed to attend at all.... but, since there had been other loayl dark knights within the order of Glabados in the past(namely Gafgarion), and because he /was/ of noble-birth.... they handwaved the fact that he was vending a genre that was a little bit more macabre than the kind of 'pleasant' stuff that constituted the main theme of the book-signing.

Right now, he was sitting at his desk with just a single patron asking a few queries about his title, at which point that individual purchased a copy, then meandered off to another section of the facility.... ergo, he had plenty of time to spare for anyone whose interest might have been at least remotely piqued by the themes of horror mixed with spirituality; this mayn't have guaranteed a sale, but he'd do his best to try and enlighten prospective subscribers as to what his tome was all about, so that they could at least /consider/ investing in it!
Ophelia Unfortunately, not all members of the 'elite' upperclass are the sorts to delve into literature at every convenience. Most are merely parasites or spoiled children of wealthy parents who's vices tend towards the more lurid and showy side of things and quite often their ability to read at all stems from little more than a petty desire to have one more item on the list of reasons why they can look down upon the illiterate masses of common folk. They might keep up on the odd manuscript or two that makes itself famous among the upper circles so that they aren't left looking entirely foolish when the time for small talk comes about but those that truly have interest in the art of literature are often too busy putting their wisdom to use to spend time time on such minor engagements as book signings.

When she was but a young girl Ophelia would have been a member of the former crowd herself, far too interested in honing her skills at swordplay or flirting with the local noblemen to waste a perfectly good day with her nose in a book. However, in the decades that have followed since she was turned, the young vampire has come to appreciate the value of knowledge. Whereas she only had to deal with the occasional duel for sleighting some overly sensitive noble's honor or chase off would-be apprentices coveting the secrets of her father's art while living at home, there have been very few moments she can recall since that fateful day where something /hasn't/ been trying to kill her.

Keeping abreast of the local lore seemed like a good idea considering her line of work and so Ophelia is something of a regular at the local library, a fact which many find quite stunning considering her frivoulous and autocratic personality. Today is something different, however. The atmosphere since the murder of a local priest has been quite tense among the already uptight religious zealots that populate Mullonde, which has evaporated what little mirth she is usually able to squeeze from the clergy completely.

Devoid of her usual array of armaments, save for the vampiric blade resting in its beautifully laquered sheathe, Ophelia stalks through the towering walls of wooden shelves that fill the library with an obvious look of boredom about her. She pauses every now and then to eye the unusual volume of visitors that have flooded the front of the establishment thanks to the book signing but no one of interest stands out to her until her eyes to come rest on the lone man sitting off to one side.

It's almost comical how much effort people seem to be going through to avoid approaching him which only makes her even more curious. Putting on a smile, Ophelia stalks directly up to the desk where Zerum has set up his display and grabs one of the books from his pile, flipping open the cover to glance at the title.

"Well, now I understand why you're sitting all alone."
Zerum It was true that book-signings were sometimes ways to waste time, and one could write them off as a way to fritter away hours when true wisdom could be applied to the world, but, on the other hand, few things in the world were one-directional in terms of their usefulness, being either all bad, or all good. Book signings were also opportunities for people to gain an audience with persons who were established writers, as a means of stimulating conversations that could further enlighten.... for at least in Zerum's mind, all knowledge was of potential value, simply by virtue of being yet another device through which one could try to manipulate the world around them. This was what he had tried so adamantly to convey to Rakassa, before she dismissed him as a philosophical rambler whose head was in the clouds.

Needless to say, not many were interested in having a debate with Lord Valos on this day, so whether he was intuitive or ignorant.... one could only guess! Ophelia carried herself in a manner that exuded negativity uncharacteristic of most of the others in the room, although this wasn't to say that in their own way, the remaining customers weren't somehow rotten, since many of the aristocratic folk had a self-righteous mode of mind, but hers was more engulfing... as though, to say that she was simply absorbing the light itself around her-- which presumably caused the patrons to evade her every bit as much as Valos, in spite of the fact that Ophelia was much less intimidating in terms of size.... her more insidious nature must've compensated for the absence of physical abundance that was intrinsic to the drow. Although he couldn't exactly put his finger on why, in a conscious sense, he somehow had this hunch that Ophelia might've had a favorable chance of approaching his table when contrasted against the likelihood of others doing so, and this estimation was given purchase when the prediction realized itself! Those with strong moral fiber, who were few in number, had demonstrated an appetite for knowledge in an egalitarian way by having provided Zerum a chance to give his pitch, but many of these fellows found his stance a little disagreeable, even if they were too mannerly to say anything blatantly condemning towards his masterpiece.

In the end, Ophelia was probably correct in asserting that she understood why the stygian noble was a solitary figure amongst the masses, but while they may have shared some similarities pertaining to the type of forces they wielded, perchance they had a different take on the logistics of the world? That would be yet to be seen, if she engaged him on the topic of his title.... but if they conversed about other themes, that might've proven just as intruiging to Zerum Valos; the bottom line was that someone was curious in his work, so it was time to see if he could indoctrinate them in some fashion, even if they didn't end up buying his book today, it was entirely plausible that they'd accept a business card and mail-order on the morrow! "To understand that, you'd have to have a working knowledge of both the atmospheric entities that surround me, as well as the subject matter of my wares.... the latter of which are undoubtedly obvious." He stands, and gives a minute bow to her, as he figures is the custom, "....Sir Zerum Valos, at your service... or Mister, if you prefer that."
Ophelia Ophelia snaps the book shut after the introduction and sets it back on the pile in a casually dismissive manner. "Never heard of you," she says, letting the boredom she's feeling seep into her tone of voice. The young woman turns away and takes a seat on the corner of his desk, crossing her legs as she leans backwards to rest her hands on its wooden surface in a lazy posture.

"Ophelia Rosai Lovett, in case you were unaware that this face went with the reputation. Your choice of venues upon which to peddle philosophies is quite poor, you know. The established order tends to frown on secular dogma."
Zerum Zerum raises an eyebrow as she mentions that she's never heard of him, but his eyelids lazily droop as he decides that it isn't horribly important whether or not his reputation preceded him.... he could either work behind the curtains, or on the center-stage, nevertheless-- so long as his ambitions came to fruition, it was of little consequence if people knew /him/, for he was preoccupied with the notion of knowing /them/. It's plain to see that she's either bored, or putting on an act to convey apathy in an attempt to ruffle his feathers, so as to spur him to 'proving his worth', but in either case.... that's precisely what he needs to do, if he expects to make a sale, so he'll have to leap through her hoops for awhile. Given how many people have found his text alluring, he has absolutely nothing better to do!

Tapping his finger against his chin amusedly by her admonishment, he met her riposte head-on, and countered, "Quite poor, you say.... But preaching to the choir involves scarcely an ounce of real wit, and nary a chance of drastic conversion in mentality. The true test of mettle is when a wolf attacks a flock of sheep whilst encumbered by a sheep-dog with spiked-collars in tenfold." The dark elf shrugs, "So it depends on what my goal is...." He doesn't really correct her on her misassumption that his book was utterly secular, since it was actually rooted in some of the monastic teachings he'd obtained while studying under Gidarch Valos, but if he came out and declared publicly that some of his sentiments had a religious basis that was /not/ Glabadosian, in a non-ambiguous way, then he'd be asking to have Ophelia take him into custody, which she was probably capable of doing, firstly, because she could easily call for reinforcements on a whim, and secondly, unbeknowst to Zerum..... because the sword he had was a lot less extravagant than hers, and without his armor, he was at a severe disadvantage, courtesy of the fact that some of his abilities were derived from it! No.... he's not going to argue about such a small technicality, not in the middle of Zealot-Central.

"I've heard of your name, yes. Upon coming to this place, it'd be hard for someone to fail to become acquainted with your notoriety for.... assertiveness, I imagine." He chooses his words carefully-- calling her violent, while true, might've been a form of effrontery, which he wished to avoid. It's at this point that his body suddenly vibrates at the most faint of levels, when he feels resonation with something emanating from her-- most likely the demonic saber she held, alas.... just because he sensed that /something/ was amiss, was not a free ticket to the discernment of what that thing was!
Ophelia A smirk plays across the woman's face, though Zerum cannot see it at present with her back to the elf. She can hear the racing of his heart as clearly as drums playing in her ears, speculating it's either from excitement at being approached by a beautiful woman or nervousness from knowing that one of the religion's most ruthless enforcers has taken an interest in his work. Or maybe he just wants to talk.

Regardless, every time the man hesistates to pick and choose his words in a diplomatic fashion sends a wave of pleasure through her body. It is intoxicating to have such power that even strangers know to watch their step around her. Bullying the clergy isn't much fun when they get worked up over the smallest things.

"So is it wit you wish to peddle then? Come to shower the poor unenlightened masses with the truth's of which only you are privy? You're certainly going to be... /popular/, around here." She puts emphasis on the word with a knowing grin.
Zerum In all fairness, Zerum's heart-rate was probably operating at approximately one-hundred and ten to fifteen beats per minute, which was a modicum over the standard, but maybe not outright panicked, if for two separate reasons....! For starters, he was in the middle of the lion's den, with one of the most fearsome of the pride hovering in his midst, and second, because now her dark aura, or that of some object on her person had found its way onto his radar; so there was a mixture of fear and excitement alike. On the other hand, his proclivity towards semantic obsession was already becoming renowned in Vector, so he wouldn't have dared advertise himself so boldly in Mullonde if he felt he wasn't up to the challenge. Lord Valos was not ashamed of the anxiety innate to his existence, for fear was a gift.... it was what drove one to do any number of things in the world-- the fear of expiration, or of pain, were the primary attributes which kept passionate sapients intact, and caused lazy, or apathetic husks of living matter to embrace their ultimate end, instead of utilizing exertion in order to stay alive.

Nothing continued to exist, in some capacity, if it put forth no effort to exist, therefore, any such thing would fear nonexistence in totality; the dark elf was not defiant towards his core programming, but while he 'consciously' recognized that he was uncomfortable with Ophelia in his presence, at the very least, his mindfulness enabled him to maintain a middling calmness(comparatively) in the presence of an otherwise impossibly formidable foe with a predisposition towards bloodlust, which to his credit.... put him miles ahead of most people, who trembled at just /hearing/ her name, let alone being in her company. Beyond that, he didn't want to die over a simple book-signing, so it wasn't as though he was going to vehemently oppose Ophelia at this juncture, whether or not he'd shown that he could be plenty mouthy towards mortifyingly dangerous beings on their own turf. "Acuity of mind is not something I merely wish to render; it is also something I wish to glean."

He raises his voice ever so subtly as he proceeds with his thoughts, "I always /pray/ that I shall be sent one who is capable of refuting what I say, in the vein of perfecting my own views, were they might be blemished." The dark knight folds his arms over his chest, having deliberately included the word 'pray' to help solidify the notion that he might be at least a pinch faithful in the higher powers, unlike many a dark knight, or Morrighan Alazne herself, who'd come into the employ of the church, through considerable corruption. Was it a massive testimonial verifying that he wasn't a heretic? No.... But at least there are some witnesses who heard him use the word 'pray', in case he lands himself into trouble. Either Ophelia has an impressive sway over Zerum, he enjoys the game of politicking, or a blend of both. But then, Valos sighs, nonchalantly, "...Regrettably, my popularity will have to be short-lived, since my stay here is likely to end, soon. I have many duties which impose transience on my lifestyle." He chuckles at Ophelia as she mocks the fact that he's going to have a smooth ride while in Mullonde; touche!
Ophelia Ah, the joys of being in a position of power among a group of fanatically devout sheep. She's going to miss this luxury once her master's eternal quest to root out darkness demands they move elsewhere. More often than not, she ends up posing as some dirty adventurer or travelling peddler. Far less glamourous disguises to be sure.

"It is taking every ounce of self control to contain the utter shock at the revelation that one such as yourself, who carries the torch of knowledge before him as a shield, would be forced to suffer such an ignoble fate as to wander the earth bereft of friend or comfort."

The mockery in her tone makes it pretty clear that she's thinking the exact opposite. Ophelia slides off the table and turns to face the knight once more, leveling a thin-lipped smirk down at him through half-lidded eyes.

"Mayhaps you've enough time to share with me what it is you expect to 'glean' from the faithful chosen that have gathered under the banner of our Lord... and perhaps I shall 'render' my wisdom unto you."
Zerum It is when Ophelia suggests she's flabbergasted at the prospect of Zerum being nigh-friendless, that he adorns the slighest of frowns.... not something noticeable to the untrained eye, but mayhap someone thoroughly versed in picking up on hairline cues would see it for what it was; aside from that, the unpracticed individual would simply observe his expression remaining unchanging. A small reminder that he's with few allies alerts him inwardly to the fact that he's got few clients so far.... not zero in quantity, but few enough to indicate that his information wasn't as profound as he would like to believe, unless he was just unfortunate in the kinds of people he'd encountered. But when she inquires on what he expects to siphon from the humble people of Mullonde, he scratches the side of his forehead, signifying his genuine attentiveness to the question administered, since he takes her more seriously than she's evidently taking him, "....I've already told one person that I'm no master of the prophecy, but I don't mind relaying this again to another."

The dark elf grins, "I have no idea what lies in store as far as refinement, so this is something of a gamble. I was hoping to locate a specific member of your organization during my visit, but I wager she's been too busy or absent, due to the fact that I've been able to set up some kind of contact. I plan to visit another time to get ahold of her..... however....." He then squints at her a smidgen, as he issues his next statement, "....On the topic of popularity, it is rumored that you have quite a following. Some say that you're an achiever of magnificent feats, and others gravitate more to the end of the mystified end of the spectrum, in their ponderings of the behaviors you've been known to exhibit at times, that, to them..... seem a little peculiar." Zerum reclines, and folds his arms behind his head, "Mind you, I don't claim to really put too much stock into things too heavily until I've done an examination on a personal level, and.... for all I know, it could be that these people talk of 'dark radiances' simply because you /might/ happen to carry on your person an artifact of questionable malignancy."

After this postulation, he follows up, "I wouldn't want to blame you for having any sort of innate perversity that is part of your very being, and when it would be far more respectful to surmise that you might have a Blood-Sword on you, or something of that nature..... Why, if I did the former, that could be construed as some sort of accusation, and, blasphemy just isn't my style." Shortly thereafter, he drums his fingers against his cheek as his eyes shift upward in thought, "I would say though, as one versed in the dark arts, I can't help but feel that.... somewhere in this room, it feels like something might be releasing the kinds of energies that I've felt when amongst necromancers, and the like. This isn't to say I'd want to interview them as a means of endorsing some sort of foul religious infidelity that might be part of their calling, but I'm -always- on the lookout for those who have a skill-set in the same family as my own...."
Ophelia Ophelia's eyes slide the rest of the way closed as the dark elf drones on and on, one hand going to rest on her hip and the other on the hilt of her sword. The motion is not aggressive, merely habit, but it may be misconstrued as such. When it finally looks like he's actually gotten to the point, she lets out a long exasperated sigh.

"Tell me, have the long days spent wandering upon the lonely roads driven you to seek comfort in the sound of thine own voice?," she asks, completely ignoring the irony of the statement.

The talk of dark powers, while perhaps expected considering his book, seems to have cast a pall over the previous busy atmosphere. Several of the more devout visitors make religious signs in the air while many others simply leave for fear of being caught up in a disagreement between a well known Inquisitor and someone foolish enough to bandy rumors and ill suggestions about her nature directly to her face.

Ever so slowly, the woman's eyes slide sideways to peer down at the annoyingly relaxed posture Zerum seems to be enjoying after practically announcing to the world that there might be something insidious lurking beneath the skin.

"You play a dangerous game, wanderer. If you think that clever wordplay shall shield you from the dire consequences of slighting my honor and the divine providence to which I have sworn my service..."

Her thumb flicks upwards against the square crossguard of the blade at her side, revealing an inch or two of pristine shimmering steel to the air. Faint wisps of energy pulsate about the metal, shimmering a dull crimson like the pulsing of blood.

"Then you are woefully mistaken."
Zerum The dark elf observes as his correspondant becomes more fatigued by the minute, as he proceeds to talk of various topics that are apparently of interest to him, until the point at which she disparages his manner of speech. It's at this point that he pokes the table with his index finger, as though making a point, "....I seek comfort in the fact that I cater to my own notion of what I fathom to be an adequate degree of clarification, when speaking. One could say two words, and one could recite an encyclopedia on a whim; what's verbose and what's not is a judgement call." He shrugs, and pulls his finger back, "To tune to which I dance is the one of my choosing; not the one expected of me by others!"

He smiles confidently, rapidly becoming unimpressed with Ophelia as she flings one insult after another, without offering much real data for him to chew on-- she was known for ferocity of body, but he'd hoped she was also fearsome in her compulsions towards the pursuit of academic fields! Maybe he was just catching her on a bad day. Starting to already ease into the conversation, he raises a brow and sits a little more straight in his chair when she starts to brandish the beginnings of a weapon, to which he shakes his head, "Hmmm. As you've pointed out.... I'm just a meager wanderer, what do I know of people who are more than they seem?" Zerum neatly stacks the book Ophelia had earlier gathered, back onto the pile, as other inhabitants begin to vanish from the scene, "I never once slighted your honor. I was repeating what I heard /OTHERS/ tell me, which means you should really be keeping a lid on what your citizens are whispering about, for... evidently they have misled poor innocent me.... And on that note...."

The dark knight looks from side to side, as though suspicious of his environment, " may also be entirely possible that I no longer feel that presence of necrosis which I'd announced seconds ago, maybe.... which'd mean that the real fiend who'd been secrely lurking amongst us, who is trying to subvert the faithful, has heard my words and taken flight, to elude your impeccable scrutiny, and possibly, their due justice!" He points at her, "Everyone already knows I'm a dark knight, so whatever I may have felt, if I'm indeed no longer feeling it, then surely is, or was not of my ownership. You'd best be along, Miss Lovett.... you've got a defiler to detain, and I've got books to sell, yes?" The dark elf winks, "But, since it's obviously not /you/ who may have caused this foreboding dark tingling that I seemed to have felt.... which by the by, nobody whose perceptibility is not contained within my mind can really verify... I'd be /glad/ to have a rendezvous with you in the future, when you aren't chasing down evildoers!"
Ophelia "Tch."

After glaring rather balefully at the dark knight while he continued to rant despite her rather obvious annoyance at his long winded speeches, Ophelia slides her sword back into its sheathe with a sharp click. She isn't fooled for an instant by the gambit that Zerum plays; after all, she would know better than anyone what said source of necromancy is. But, with atleast a dozen people watching their conversation, she cannot afford to give that away nor appear to be lax in her duties.

"Your concern for the safeguarding of my faith is most 'touching'," she sneers at him. "As thanks for your service, I give you until sundown to see to it that you and your sacriligious books have vacated this sanctuary of the faithful or the sense of foreboding you shall experience next shall not vanish so quickly."

Ophelia turns on her heels and stalks out of the library, her angry glare replaced with a smug grin in a flash. Let's see him sell those books of his now that one of the faith's most well known Inquisitors has just publicly decried it as heresy. Perhaps that shall inspire him not to anger the wrong people in the future. Confident she got the last laugh, the Inquisitor makes her exit and goes about looking for someone she can pin some blame on.
Zerum Was it a loss, or was it more akin to being almost in the proximity a draw? Indeed, Zerum would lose some sales from this particular title, for the time being, unless he could get a mandate from higher up, somehow-- but contradicting the credibility of Ophelia was not something that the bureaucrats would risk just for the sake of appeasing some stranger to their lands, even if he was in the good graces of Bishop Emerald.... to a very minuscule degree, with minuscule being the key word; he didn't have nearly the weight that some of other foreigners had attained recently. The bottom line was, Valos was not going to be setting up a table until he wrote another title that had yet to be marked as heretical, but that could take months, or even years.

On the other hand, there had been some profit-- he confirmed that Ophelia had deserved all the mystique she'd been ascribed by others, for whether she was an otherworldly creature or not, it couldn't be argued that her weapon was potent. Just possessing a supernatural blade was enigmatic, and surely hinted at more than that, even if Zerum knew she'd deny it to her dying(or the vampiric equivalent of) breath. He couldn't rightly tell if Ophelia would be up to meeting him voluntarily at another juncture, or not, but even though the dark elf had yet to come to appreciate the pretty face of the humanoid, it would be dubious if one said he didn't appreciate her other assets!

This scene contained 13 poses. The players who were present were: Ophelia, Zerum