[P] in reality life is a series of brutal raptures
The Feasting Hall
The night began with an announcement that was, in some ways, not entirely unexpected. Knowing that their leaders had secured a legacy meant that Salsola's future leadership was determined. While being the children of leaders alone did not mean that children would be fit for such positions, this had been how Salsola had done things since the beginning. A daughter of Elphaba Revlis and O'Riley Eternity would one day be crowned Boss-Queen, either when her parents passed on or when she took this title by force.

Not terribly concerned with the future, Tattersall instead focused on enjoying the night. Saturnalia was one of the few events where debauchery and extravagance was allowed – and he had not indulged to any extreme since the royal wedding.

Thinking of that night, he looked for Rosemary. Though they remained friends and enjoyed each others company, a careful distance had been established between them. It was both a matter of respect and of caution. Though Tate did not know enough about the young woman to fully understand the complexities of her blood family and what striking out apart from them meant for her, he was not about to use his position to influence her in any matter. Not that he imagined she would be so easily swayed – she hadn't cared about his rank or his House all that much, and did not strike him as an opportunist.

Not like some folks.

He hadn't originally thought this of Mogis Meloy – truthfully, he hadn't thought much of Mogis at all. They had met when Mogis was still an Associate and beginning to find his footing in the pack. They had sailed together before, looking for a ghost. Since then, he had only seen the man in passing. As he understood it, Mogis had felt a calling towards the spiritual realm. Though the details of this remained amorphous (as was common with witches), Tate imagined it was something his mother and sisters would be handling.

It surprised him, therefore, when Morgana began bringing Mogis up again. Eventually, her purpose became more clear to her son. Mogis was interested in Angora, and from the way Morgana began to whisper her vitriol, not yet favored by the Acolyte. Her reasoning for approaching her son in this way was equally transparent – Tattersall would be able to approach the situation in a way which kept his parents out of it. Whether this was for Angora or Mogis' benefit the young Henchman knew not. He was a dutiful soldier and son, however, and agreed to keep an eye out during the night.

Things had, luckily, remained rather calm (considering). Loud voices carried throughout the feasting hall, drinks were poured and shared, and occasionally faces would disappear into the darkness. Some returned, but not all did.

Mogis was clever enough not to be too open with his displays, and indeed, he did not bother Angora much at all.

When they danced, though, Tate watched carefully. He realized at that moment what his mother had wanted to avoid – even something which seemed so innocent carried weight. What would the others who watched think of the display? Would they read more into it? Partially inebriated as he was, Tattersall began to overthink the matter.

The song ended and Angora disappeared into the crowd (most likely with one of her little girlfriends), leaving Mogis alone.

Tate approached him easily enough. He felt pleasantly buzzed and smelled of alcohol, but his eyes were sharp and hawkish when they set upon the man. The goblet in his hand was half-empty.

“Enjoying yourself?” The young Henchman asked, and smiled in a way that showed his teeth.

Backdated to the night of Saturnalia.
[+ 615]
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The night unfurled pleasingly enough. These parties -- pageants in any sense of the word -- could be often construed as tiresome, particularly to one with more humble comforts. It was important to maintain appearances; to be seen in one's finest attire, goblet in hand with a comfortable, confident smile upon one's countenance. It was an exhausting illusion to project in perpetuity. However, Mogis was a strange sort. He reveled in every opportunity, and on nights like this, opportunity was everywhere, so long as one was willing to look.


He had enjoyed one before and had found it to be the night of all nights. This breakdown of strongly held social norms in favor of a true celebration intrigued him. A night to enjoy one's underlying nature -- or rather, it appeared to be such on paper, but Mogis was not fool enough to indulge in an unsightly way. Eyes were always watching. Making judgments. Keeping score.

He danced with Angora. Mogis deemed their time together polite enough for this undeniably public setting; a single song was shared between them before partners went their separate ways. He would find other partners in time to assuage the assumptions of any onlookers, but in this instant, Mogis drifted toward a table of drinks.

Pouring himself a goblet of wine, the warden's eyes wandered over the feasting hall -- settling briefly upon his former partner to only be interrupted by Tatersall's approach.

Mogis cleared his throat. 

"Of course Henchman," Mogis spoke coolly, eyes narrowing with an inquisitive slant. There was a sharpness to Tatersall, but the smell of drink seeped from him. "Saturnalia is a special night, is it not?" A comfortable smirk played along his face and he took a breath. "-- but you would know this." Though Tattersall walked a different path than he, Mogis could not deny his proximity to the witch Morgana. He was of Revlis blood. 

Mogis raised his goblet and took a celebratory dram.

"Tell me then Lord Valentine," he went on, "to what do I enjoy the pleasure of your company?"

Word Count - 346
Somewhere out in the crowd, the Lord of Discord remained king for the night. Egregore had been an unusual choice, but one made to recognize his achievements. To climb as high as he had in a year, to bring his whole family into the fold, and then to expand it with children who would be recognized as true Salsolans were deeds worthy of praise. The crown he wore tonight bore no true power, and historically, had been worn by lessers – but tonight the Prizmov patriarch was recognized and allowed to delight and amuse la Familia with whatever demands crossed his mind.

Tattersall's humor had cooled. He had been tasked with something unpleasant on a night that should have been one of pure fun. It would have been more enjoyable to drink, play cards, and enjoy pleasant company. Maybe he could have convinced Rosemary to come back with him and visit Fromage. With Morrow away, the house was emptier than usual. Maybe she'd spend the night, even if all they did was talk...

But no, now he had to deal with this.

“It is special,” he agreed. “All the magic stuff is done with, so all that remains is the party. Your kind of thing, isn't it? You still playing those games?” Mogis had invited him to a night of play many seasons ago, when they were both still adolescents. As their paths had diverged, so had the company they kept. New demands of their time had further driven this wedge between the two men. Even though Mogis was a student of Tattersall's mother, they had never really had reason to associate more than they did (which had, admittedly, become very little).  The last time they had really spent time together was looking for that ghost.

There was one thing about Mogis that Tate hadn't forgotten – he was shrewd. Even now, the conjuror was looking at him with suspicion. The time and distance between them had become too great for Tattersall's approach to be anything but purposeful.

“You looked lonely,” he answered. The smile on his face thinned. “At least for the moment, anyway.”

[+ 359]
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Mogis sighed. Had it truly been so long? Tatersall had once graced his gaming table in its infancy, but clearly another path had pulled him away -- nevertheless, Mogis did not take him for the gaming sort. 

"Ah -- yes," Mogis replied, an excitable and syrupy sweet singsong alight in his voice. It was easy enough to dance through these pleasantries; more difficult still was parsing the young lord Valentine's intent. "Every fortnight, barring no greater event of course." With a flourish of his hand, Mogis gestured about the feasting hall before taking another dram of tart, dark wine.

 "It's a shame though," Mogis went on, eyes narrowing. "It's been some time since you've joined us.

A pregnant pause followed, and Mogis bit his lip, hesitating before adding a polite, "The invitation still stands.

Mogis was no fool. Bold, yes. Willing to make risky moves, perhaps. However, Mogis was not stupid. Tatersall veiled his intentions with loose niceties, but Mogis saw this for what it was. "Lonely..." Mogis repeated this farce as his gaze rested curiously on Tatersall's pointed expression. It waste of time -- a waste of a properly good wine -- to dance around intentions with poorly constructed lies.

Mogis's voice fell hushed and his face turned stern. The last thing he wanted was the cause a scene, but this -- whatever this was -- needed to be defused.

"Perhaps... perhaps we should speak in private. Like gentlemen."

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“My duties keep me busy,” Tate said. He did not bring up his injury, which had brought on a nightmarish few weeks of recovery, though the long scar on his leg was visible if one looked.

His role in Salsola was one obvious to the whole. Brocade was no longer the Director, but his son was rising to fill the space in the Shield carved out by family legacy. With his mother now named Acolyte, and his sisters stagnating, the pressure of his House once again fell upon Tattersall's shoulders. He felt this keenly every single time he spoke with his parents. Morgana especially seemed determined that these demands were not outrageous, but in-line with who he was supposed to be.

Was that why she had sicced him, like a guard dog, on his peer?

Mogis wasn't stupid. Mogis realized all too quickly that their conversation was not about games or camaraderie.

That made Tate wonder if the magician had already done something worthy of his inquisition and scorn. There had been another girl, a year or so ago, who had been keeping company with the man...

Tattersall remained where he was. If this was a conversation that demanded privacy, it surely meant that some taboo had been breached. Exposing it out in the open was all the better. Beyond that, in the haze brought on by his inebriation, he was uncertain if stepping outside would be a welcome thing. He was not inclined to violence as a whole, but it was a part of him, and always had been. Besides, he wanted to ensure that his mother was able to see that he was handling things like she had asked. (She was somewhere in the crowd, though he could no longer see her.)

Mogis wanted isolation, for one reason or another, and Tate was unwilling to provide him an easy escape.

“I've heard you've taken a liking to my little sister.”

[+ 3]
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"I see."

So that was it. He had hoped to play a more subtle hand, but something somewhere along the chain must have slipped.

Plea for privacy falling upon deaf ears, Mogis bit his lip as Tattersall stood steadfast at the table. So be it, Mogis thought, still believing himself to retain some semblance of the rhetorical high-ground. After all, no impropriety had been committed. He was not foolish enough to do so -- selfish as he could often be. A risk to Angora's reputation, the social standing that Mogis so often coveted, was a risk too to himself. The Revlis line was not some middling family with potential, but a well established entity, so ingrained within the fabric of Salsola itself that one could deem them synonymous. It changed everything about his approach.

Mogis took a breath. A facade of a quiet calm remained upon his face despite feeling so under the spotlight in this very moment. He remembered his first time on the stage. All the eyes watching, waiting -- for a mistake.

"Tatersall Valentine --" Mogis spoke after a tentative beat, keeping his voice low under the din of the crowd. "My first friend in the Thistle Kingdom." His brow furrowed with lines of disappointment. Mogis had been fond of Tatersall, though he was not foolish enough to think that he saw him as a friend in the same way as he regarded one like Morrow. In fact, Mogis wondered then if anyone saw him as a genuine friend. He didn't have an answer.

"It saddens me that you think me some common scoundrel."

He lifted his goblet to his lips, finishing its contents.

"Angora is a lovely young woman. She is as intelligent as she is beautiful -- and she'll one day wed a lucky man... or woman, should she choose," he reasoned. She was an adult now. Autonomous and capable of making her own decisions. However, being a brother himself, Mogis could almost empathize with Tattersall's concern on an instinctual level, though it was severely dampened by Mogis's lack of fondness for his own sisters.

"-- but, would it be so awful if she chose me?"

Word Count - ---
[Image: springforth.png]  Spring Forth, Words! [Passing Score] - anchored adj. : dependent on chance; uncertain.
What sort of spell had Morgana Revlis cast upon her son?

He would not answer even if he could. The greater loyalty to his kin ought weighed all other bonds. Salsola would always be Family, but the nuclear core from which he had sprung demanded even more.

The yellow-eyed man watched as Mogis' face went through a series of changes. Even now, when he spoke, there was still so much about him that was familiar. They were friends, or had been friendly. His mother had invited the young man over often enough, or allowed him to stay. She invested energy into him, and Tate had liked having another boy around. Morrow had begun to get all moody and strange around then, after he came back from whatever that secret mission had been.

They had never talked about it, but they never talked about the war either.

Sometimes, the assassin lurked in dark shadows still, and haunted the places that Tattersall went.

Even here, surrounded by the buzz of company and the warm glow of torchlight, there was no telling what was really out there. He wasn't the only one who realized this, he was sure. Many other people came to this meal armed, as if expecting violence somewhere along the way.

Right now, Mogis Meloy was in a precarious social situation. Perhaps he too should have thought to arm himself, but it was too late for that now. He had shown his hand too early, and Morgana Revlis saw reason to counter his move thoroughly. If he had allowed himself more time to learn how to play games, Tattersall might have realized that she was using him with every intention of revealing herself. How could she not, when this approach was so brazen?

Even so, the young magician's words had an effect. The Apprentice looked him up and down, as if he had not seen him before. When his eyes finally returned to Mogis' narrow face and questioning gaze, he wondered exactly what it was his so-called friend had been doing all this time.

“If you are my friend,” he said. “Then listen to what I am telling you now. My little sister is still finding her way. Don't try and lead her off of it. Don't crowd her too much, all right?”

He spared a glance towards the hall. Had Angora slipped off with her little girlfriend? Would she, as others had, perhaps take a woman as her mate? Or, as his proposal suggested, did Mogis believe that there was a greater spark between them?

When he could not find her, Tate turned his attention back to the Warden. He lowered his voice when he spoke next.

“I don't think it would be so awful, no, but if you truly wish to be my brother than take my advice: back off. You have time, and could make more of yourself,” he suggested. “Things could change by then.”

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A mess -- somewhere, in all of this, something had broken down. Whether he had been too bold, or if Angora had broached this perilous subject with Morgana prematurely, it didn't matter now. A door had shut. He felt snubbed, insulted, under the harsh weight of Tattersall's scrutinizing eye, but despite the ugly elements of his nature boiling underneath his skin, Mogis hid well enough behind the familiar mask of geniality.

He loosed a breath, casting his gaze toward the other celebrants as he set his empty goblet aside. He wondered if any of the others had taken notice of this brief, yet pointed, conversation. Tattersall's whispered warning was for him alone. After all, Mogis did not desire to maneuver more than necessary. 

"Understood," came Mogis's short reply. Tattersall's warning had been keenly heard, but Mogis could not keep himself from weighing the remaining viable paths forward. Strategies needed to change. Of course, he was no stranger to keeping secrets -- to lying. A spider worked best in the shadows anyway. 

This, however, was neither the time or place to make fine adjustments. It was better to save face and move on.

Mogis straightened, clearing his throat. "Come then! Now isn't the time for this dour talk." It was Saturnalia; a rare outlet of debauchery. Mogis was convinced, should the serious atmosphere between them persist, it would only draw undo attention. He needed to end this. Sooner rather than later. "Lets drink and put this behind us, shall we?"


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