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Civility, Worth Its Weight in Gold

Wed Jul 11, 2018 2:56 am

Mayor Treadwell, at the Meeting House.

Master Treadwell, the toymaker. He has a shop, that way.

Treadwell; he's your man. Just returned yesterday.

A morning spent asking questions steered her in the direction of one individual in particular, and yet she still felt as if she was missing some vital clue, a hint of something in the words of others. Some smiled at the question with genuine warmth, only too happy to direct her to the man they clearly held in high esteem due to his character, his actions or both. Others exchanged looks with one another or lofted a brow before answering with tongue in cheek, gauging her reaction to see whether or not she would pick up on the unspoken inside joke.

To her great frustration, she had not.

"What manner of official possesses time enough to oversee the affairs of both an entire town and a novelty shoppe in the same sitting?" she muttered darkly, navigating the crowd that flowed like clashing streams along main street. The morning sun, herald of the punishing Summer heat that would only become more oppressive as the day wore on, was at that moment only the span of one hand above the roof of the Meeting House, where she would insist on seeing him--not in a toy shop. This was business, and she would not conduct hers while surrounded with frivolous, colorful trinkets intended for children.

She carried a a chaste looking portfolio with her, two cuts of rosy cedar that were bound by a sturdy leather cord wound about them three times and knotted by precise fingers. Between those wooden planes were documents of every sort that would be presented one after another to make her case, should the mayor need further convincing than the payment that would be offered. And she desperately hoped that he was a learned man--not out of arrogance or contempt, but out of a desire to expedite the matter at hand. She had never before overseen the exchange of money on such a grand scale as this promised to be, and it made her fingers itch and her throat sweat beneath her starched collar.

The lantern burned and swayed upon its chain as she came to a halt before the front entrance of the building that certainly looked official enough, at least in the context of Myrken's overall style. It was nothing like the grand Hall of Commerce and Concerns in Fonte, of course, where the citizenry formed lines out the doors of the ground floor of that towering structure, waiting impatiently to lobby complaints about everything from trade routes to the capital being compromised by marauding bandits to the desire for more elegant waterfowl to be placed within the Garden of Fountains in Central Park. Although separate lines were formed according to one's status within the myriad echelons of Dornan society, the actual division of priorities given to each matter was mired by the sort of bureaucracy that only the most talented lawyer could understand.

But there was no winding line. No cane-carrying gentlemen in impeccable coats or top hats, no fan-wielding ladies draped in furs with taxidermied birds or floral arrangements affixed to their heads. The door opened to reveal a simple-but-furnished lobby that was...comfortable, she supposed. A far cry from luxurious, but, she scolded herself, more than enough for discussing a transaction.

"I would speak with the mayor." she said without flourish or pomp to an aid seated at a desk near the doorway, who might have wondered what such an austere looking woman, dressed as she was in that no-nonsense black habit stitched with gold along the hemline and cuffs, would need to discuss with a man like Aloisius Treadwell.

Re: Civility, Worth Its Weight in Gold

Thu Jul 12, 2018 4:17 pm

"The Lord Steward? That-a-way." A thumb is hitched over a shoulder, and then said thumb's owner rises to show the visitor past the chairs and table adorning the meetinghouse's floor into a back hall. The door to the office in question is cracked to allow ventilation, as are the windows within, and, there, reviewing some manner of figures in charts in a book and carefully updating them with small tick marks, is the fat old fellow she seeks, wormed close to his desk in a rocking chair sized for his ample self. Unlike the black habit on the new arrival, the seated gentleman is a touch more colorful, wearing a burgundy velvet robe with a large golden medallion gleaming from under the voluminous white bush of a beard.

Beady eyes squint and stare over the top of the eyeglasses slipped low on the bulbous shnozz, and, with quill set aside and hands gripping the edge of the desk to help the great girthed gent grunt to his feet, his belly upsetting the delicate positioning of book on desk and bumping it back a few inches.

"Mmph," comes the breathless wheeze from lungs overworked with summer heat and decades of smoking from pipes like the one lying on its side extinguished to the left of the book of numbers and names--a census, it seems. "Hullo, hm hm, madam! I am Lord Steward Aloisius Treadwell, mmph, and, well, what, erm, what might I be able to do for you?"

Fleshy left hand wiggles to the exorbitantly cushioned chair opposite his rocker.

"Sit if you like."

Re: Civility, Worth Its Weight in Gold

Fri Jul 13, 2018 3:55 am

Elrin found herself wondering how long it would take to grow accustomed to the informality of Myrken's people and their dealings as she was irreverently lead to a back office, the door of which was slightly ajar. Sounds issued from within that vertical strip of the unknown: the scratch of a freshly sharpened quill, the brush of parchment-on-parchment, and what she could only compare to a light breeze gusting through treetop leaves, rising and falling in a steady rhythm.

The aide, his objective reached, showcased the door with a flap of his hand that more-or-less said Wow, would you look at that? So easy to find, and you still bothered me before turning on his heel and returning the way they had come without a word. That manner of casual dismissal of her station would have played out much differently in Dornant--the man would have been dragged outside and made to kneel in the middle of a crowded street before her proffered lantern, to recite a supplication to Goddess learned in his childhood, asking her (and Her) forgiveness while the heat of the flame inches from his nose coaxed beads of sweat from his forehead and parched his wide eyes. Onlookers in Fonte adored this sort of spectacle, this public shaming that reduced a person to a groveling wretch for all to see, and so often the clergy within the Illuminated Faith aimed to wield that perverse interest as they would any other weapon, often to great effect.

But there was no one present to witness any punishment she might administer in that silent hallway, with the exception of the man who sat a few yards away in his office, and she highly doubted she would be given a warm reception were she to make an example of his employee out of foreign custom. More importantly, the aide would not understand why he was being forced to apologize, and that, at least in Elrin's mind, was of paramount importance when correcting others. She was a guide, not a schoolmarm.

So, instead, she gathered her thoughts, summoning all of the bearing and authority that was associated with her title as an Illuminatrix and delivering two sharp knocks to door, pushing it open and entering the room without waiting for an invitation, intent on establishing the idea that she was not to be trifled with before any words were exchanged. She felt the familiar confidence, the self-assuredness, that went hand-in-hand with doing Goddess's work begin to unfurl in her chest, fancying herself ready to face the world itself as the man behind the desk was revealed to her.

One would think Mayor Treadwell had thrown a bucket of water in her face, the way her preparedness sputtered out in an instant.

She was shocked, frankly, unable to fathom the creature that sat behind the desk. Every inch of him was expansive, rotund, gratuitous excess. A mass of flesh and white hair that mocked the human--is this a human being?--form in a way that she had never imagined possible. She knew a prelate within the church, Dellinea, who looked much like the overstuffed furniture her guests reclined upon while working their way through the never-ending courses of her famous dinner parties, but even Dellinea remained within the realm of realistic proportions despite her appallingly ravenous appetite for fatty cuts of meat and sweet red wine. This was something else entirely.

The flame whipped about in a lively dance within the confines of the lantern, curling madly as the mayor embarked on the arduous journey from seated to standing, something she might have considered a remarkable feat worthy of praise if her jaw had not turned to stone, her tongue as heavy and lifeless as an ingot of steel. She still held the handle of the door in her left hand, clutched in numb fingers--I can turn and leave--when he spoke, an introduction broken into pieces by frequent pauses to resupply his abused and overworked lungs. His words were met with an unblinking stare.

An amiable creature despite his monstrous appearance, he offered her a seat. She glanced hesitantly at the chair he indicated, mind blank, and back up the length of his pudgy arm to those jovial eyes which peeked out from above the frame of his spectacles. There was a long and awkward silence before she realized that she had to do something, be it step further within the room or flee through the doorway, and she swallowed thickly. Slowly, with the outward appearance of being at ease, she closed the door behind her before traversing the room atop wooden legs, stiff beneath her skirts. She ran the very tip of her tongue over her dry lips, keeping her eyes on the desk rather than the man behind it.

I will have what I came for.

"Tha--" she started, fingers moving to alight on her throat as a surprisingly high-pitched syllable issued forth. She tried again, clearing her throat as her cheeks colored. "Thank you."

Normally, she would insist on standing when offered a seat during such an encounter, as much to prove that she could as to renounce material comfort and hold herself to a higher standard. In this case, her knees gave her little choice in the matter as they essentially surrendered and deposited her into the plush chair behind her. She stared at the desk and the stacks of books, charts and maps upon it for a moment longer, the cedar portfolio balanced squarely on her lap, the silver chain on her wrist draped over the arm of the chair to where the lantern sat, quietly observing the proceedings, having calmed since she had first opened the door.

"Mayor Treadwell," she said, more steadily than before, forcing herself to look him in the eye, "I am Sister Elrin of Mershe, Illuminatrix within the Church of Dornant. I have come to Myrken on behalf of his Holiness, Pontiff Raleigh III, to spread the message of the Illuminated Faith to the good people of the Amysinian Province, in hopes that they too will welcome the light of Lumistè into their hearts."

A pretty speech said in a pleasing tone, utterly rehearsed and obviously so. A pinprick of frustration over the clockwork nature of her own words pulsed in the back of her mind. She pressed on, attempting to sound more natural, less like she was reading a public notice aloud.

"I have in hand a number of documents detailing the nature of the work that I wish to accomplish during my stay in Myrken, an amount of time which is still unclear to me at this point." She lifted the portfolio a few inches from her knees in indication. "Within you will find writs of approval signed by the pontiff and the members of his council that validate my representation of the church, as well as legal documentation defining the terms of the included promissory notes which are intended for the purchase of land in Myrken", she inhaled, "upon which I fondly desire to construct a house of worship."

As she spoke, she regained a modicum of the confidence she had felt before, and she visibly relaxed, the initial shock of the other's appearance fading by the second. This was a man, whatever his form, and he was the gatekeeper to the only course of action that would see the church constructed.

"I would very much like to discuss the details." she said, offering him the portfolio across the desk, "And of course, answer any questions you might have."

Re: Civility, Worth Its Weight in Gold

Fri Jul 13, 2018 9:57 am

Back into cushioned rocking chair does Treadwell slump, back and knees and seat a-squeak as he settles, listening carefully to the words being spoken to his lightly twitchy, wiggly ears. Years spent as an actor and a politician have long since trained him to pick up on what people say and what people mean. The words a house of worship catch his interest, of course, and, as this Sister Elrin sits and explains and hands over documents, he reaches over to take the information in question.

"I think, Sister, that we can find some place within the borders of the Wood, very likely somewhere in or around the town, mmph mmph, where we can house your faithful, hm. I should think we can, hrm, even locate it far enough away from the other churches in town, mmph, so as not to risk any concerns. We try to do that as much as possible, you see, hm hm. I would not have worship leading to problems."

Pages are carefully unfolded and pulled close to the old man's nose and the glasses nearly hanging off it. A pudgy pointer rights the spectacles in question, and he takes a few moments to read.

"I know a little of the basics of your church, Sister, from my own reasons and studies, hm hm."

Extinguished pipe is propped in-between teeth and lips, there to hang, even if empty, from the side of his jaw, resting against jowl and fluffy white beard.

"To speak truth, mmph, most of the folks in Myrkentown and the rest of the Wood follow, at least in the simplest terms, what is known locally as the One True Faith. Some, of course, mmph, are more devoted; there is a good reason that the Chapel of Saint Iona is Myrkentown's largest house of worship at present, hrm hrm." Treadwell pauses here to puff at a few breaths, still squintily studying promises of payment.

"A few, hm, follow instead the teachings of the Church of Tubbius." Pudgy fingers here scritch-scratch absently at the great stomach under the burgundy robe. "That last group is, ironically enough, rather slim in numbers despite the emphasis on growth and size."

Treadwell grunts and nods, here, setting the documents back on the desk. "We should be able to find your faith somewhere in, around, or just outside the town, mmph mmph. What manner of location, mmph, would suit your needs best, hm?"

Re: Civility, Worth Its Weight in Gold

Mon Jul 16, 2018 11:04 am

She refrained from sighing in grateful relief when the mayor assured her that in all likelihood, the deal would be made. Myrken would have its gold once all of the pertinent documents had been reviewed, signed and exchanged, and she would have her church. The swell of warmth in her chest did, however, manifest as an entirely genuine smile that softened some of the sharper features of the Illuminatrix and hinted at the woman behind the mask, lovely despite the modesty she wore like plate armour.

It was gone as quickly as it came when Treadwell resumed speaking, this time in broad strokes concerning the religious practices already observed in Myrken.

"Yes." she said, a hollow word that hung between them like smoke might curl through the air from the well of his pipe, had it been lit. "I too have a vested interest in religious studies, particularly those of foreign peoples. An ambassador of Goddess should be informed of whom she is to break bread with. That said, I fear that most of what I have read concerning the One True Faith, and what little is known of the Tubbian Faith, was authored by the hands of my own, and as such, suffers from an overly-familiar flavour."

She watched him openly from where she sat, meeting the subtle implication that she might incite conflict with a steely gaze. "I will admit a certain curiosity to witnessing these exotic beliefs firsthand, as my own faith has provided me with the answers that shall sustain me in this life and the next. I would welcome those of any faith, excepting practitioners of wicked crafts, to join me within the walls of the church once it is built, and share their beliefs, that we might foster a greater mutual understanding. And should the ideals of said beliefs resonate, all's the better."

She made no indication that there would be an issue should they fail to, and she was content to leave it at that lest she begin peppering her responses with half-truths. Or worse yet, give the man a chance to misinterpret her zeal as hostility.

"What manner of location, mmph, would suit your needs best, hm?" he asked, his reading concluded for the time being. Back to business, then, it would seem.

"I find the relatively detached nature of the Southbank Common quite pleasant." she replied, smoothing her hands across the soot-colored fabric covering her thighs, flattening the wrinkles that had arisen during her descent to the chair. "I had the opportunity to experience it for myself en route to the Fireside Inn, where I will be staying in the foreseeable future, at least until the construction is complete. The separation from the town itself in no small part due to the river lends the place a certain tranquility that I believe will benefit my parish. And though I do not make a habit of romanticizing, I imagine that a literal departure from the woes and vices of their daily lives within the walls will be welcome relief when they cross the South bridge to join their brothers and sisters in prayer within the church."

"But," she added quickly, pointedly, "I would seek a place apart from the Broken Dagger. 'tis not my desire to turn away stumbling drunks or those with malicious intent in the dead of night should they seek to disturb my flock. Theirs would be a harsh penance indeed."

Re: Civility, Worth Its Weight in Gold

Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:59 pm

"And that is quite understandable, indeed, my dear Sister! I am quite certain we can arrange something to that effect, hm hm!"

Treadwell nods, here, his neck a-squeak with the motion, and grins wide. Out comes the pipe that has merely sat between teeth and lips, unlit, set again on the desk.

"And what shall you do for the present, hm? Today and tonight, I mean, while I look over everything and see what I can manage here. You are more than welcome, mmph, to join me as a guest for a meal, if you like, either here--we have plenty in the kitchen and stores, hm hm, and a table out front--or elsewhere, mmph. Surely an evening's supper, hm, even with the head of one of those other faiths, hrm hrm, is not out of the question? We do not even have to, mmph, make it about comparing your Church of Dornant and my Church of Tubbius, hm. You, err, do eat sometimes, I should hope, madam?"

With that, Treadwell huffily-puffily hefts himself back to his feet again, soon laying hand on walking cane and other hand on his great belly, bouncing lightly with the rising as he steadies himself on his feet.

"What could I fix for you, Sister, if you would be a guest so gracious, mmph mmph?"

Re: Civility, Worth Its Weight in Gold

Thu Jul 19, 2018 7:42 am

As Treadwell inquired about her plans in the moment, he made casual mention of his position within his respective church, and Elrin could practically hear the musical accompaniment that framed the steps of their dance fade into nothingness before returning as something new, something more lively and insistent. The imagined punch of a harpsichord indicated that their slow waltz had shifted into a minuet, the most socially refined way in which two animals might circle one another, their eyes locked as they kept a tantalizing distance between themselves without ever straying too far.

It was a dance that was all too familiar to her, one that filled her with confidence and distaste.

"You, err, do eat sometimes, I should hope, madam?" he squeaked in that disarming voice of his.

"Less than some." she replied in a neutral tone, a touch quickly, biting her tongue before anything decidedly offensive could issue from lips so rosy that she had once been accused--falsely--of staining them with pomade by a superior. She straightened in her seat, giving careful consideration to what action should be taken at that point, the fingers of her right hand straying to toy idly with the silver links of chain that were draped across the arm of the chair.

An invitation to dine. No doubt upon a veritable feast that must have been standard fare for the mayor, judging by his girth, at a table dressed in white cloth that caught the fallen crumbs of freshly baked loaves carelessly bitten and the stray droplets of wine enjoyed to excess, smeared with the prints of fingers dripping with the grease of succulent fowl flesh until it was so thoroughly stained that it mocked the purity of its original coloration. The sin of Gluttony, on his part.

But...

The chance to learn more of those faiths which she would be competing with to save the souls of Myrken. The opportunity to gain a better understanding, and therefore more equal footing, by asking seemingly innocuous questions sprinkled throughout the course(s?) of the meal while at the same time, playing the part of this "gracious guest". A part of her chastised this thinking, reminding her that she already had what she had come for and that a polite refusal followed by an apology and a swift exit from the Meetinghouse was in order. Another part, a larger and more demanding part, insisted that she remain where she was and seize what answers she might during this rare meeting with such an open and accommodating individual, an occasion that may very well elude her in days to come. The sin of Greed, on mine.

"The journey overseas was overlong, a departure from the comforts of my home in Fonte. Comforts whose absence I became increasingly aware of each day I spent in the midst of grey waves." Her words were slow, thoughtful, turning the idea over and over on her tongue before pushing forward. "It has been some time since I enjoyed a meal which caters to taste as well as nourishment."

She stood with him, the smile returning, a gentle thing. "I would be delighted to join you for a meal, Mayor Treadwell. Anything you might suggest would be wonderful, as I am eager to sample what delicacies Myrken might have to offer. And there is no cause to shy away from such topics as religion; as I said before, I am a student as much as a teacher. I welcome the chance to learn more of your faith."

Let us dine with sin, then. For the greater good.

Re: Civility, Worth Its Weight in Gold

Thu Jul 19, 2018 4:44 pm

"Splendid! Though, err, well, mmph, 'Mayor' is a little more than is necessary for a mere bit of supper, hm hm?" Shoulders shrug as Treadwell huffs past to the door, cane in his left hand. "'Aloisius' will suffice, if you wish; if you do not, mmph, well, 'Mayor' or 'Lord Steward' or what you wish will do!"

Door opens, and through it he wobbles, favoring that left leg of his as he plods out.

"It should not require me very much time, mmph, to find us something small, eh? Seat yourself where you like out front, hm, and I will join you soon enough with something or other!"

Away from the office Treadwell then shuffles, a burgundy-velveted ball rolling up the hall. Sister Elrin is left behind, free to examine what she wishes, to follow her host, or to make for the meetinghouse main room with its table and chairs.
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