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Clementine

POSTED: Sat Dec 14, 2019 1:59 am

Optime | Garden; early afternoon (+401)


The day felt warmer than usual, though, Argive attributed this to the lack of wind and the uninterrupted rays of sunlight that beat down against the dark colors of his clothes. It might have made for a good time to schedule a long-distance hunt, maybe even a good day to wash clothes, or any other outdoor activity that could benefit from the calm, sunny weather. For Argive though, he had decided to pay a visit to the Kingdom’s garden.

Most of the herbs and crops had been collected before the first good freeze of the season, however, there were a few that had been left; the ones that were hardy enough to survive the bitterly cold months of winter. It was his intention to check up on these few plants that remained. After all, as resistant to the cold as some were, they were not completely impervious to it. There were certain measures that needed to be taken and upkeep to maintain if the plants were to remain alive and fresh rather than hung to dry out in storage.

The thick shrubs of lavender were the first of these to inspect. The plant was apparently a favored one for those traveling beyond the Kingdom’s borders, used to disguise a Salsolan’s scent. Aside from its scent and calming effects though, it was something that could be used in medicine too. It had a variety of uses, which made the plant a valuable resource to keep alive.

Argive knelt before one of the plants, claws delicately untying the twine that had been used to fasten the burlap sack to the shrub. Burlap helped shield the lavender from the bitter, icy winds, but, unlike something like leather, it was breathable and didn’t sweat or retain moisture. The sack removed, Argive inspected the shrub thoroughly, searching for any signs of accumulated ice or frost on the individual stocks. Lavender was particular about moisture, after all, and the presence of such would mean an early death to the plant.

Thankfully, there was nothing alarming to be found on the shrub, and Argive covered it with the sack once more. With a cursory glance at the mulch around the lavender’s base, he rose to his feet before moving onto the next plant.

His ears flickered at the sound of approaching footfalls, and his sharp, yellow-green eyes shifted towards the source.

Argive Hemlock

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POSTED: Sat Dec 14, 2019 2:38 am

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Salsola’s Garden was one of the few places she’d discovered where Indra was not keen to follow her; why this was, she didn’t know, nor did she particularly care to ask. It was a momentary reprieve from maternal expectations, and that was all that mattered to the budding Salcedo.

Never mind that it never seemed to matter how high she climbed nor how fast, the Winters woman always expected more. More than willing to oblige, Clementine was always preparing for her next outing, the next trade, the next rung on the ladder. One day this would become tiring, always looking up, anticipation long exhausted.

The alternative was more concerning; there might be a day where she woke up and there was no next step.

She smelled another before she saw them, a man she’d never met or – to her knowledge – even passed, and this was a curiosity she could not rightfully ignore. It wasn’t duty that propelled her forward, for she had only the vaguest sense of what that entailed, but an overbearing sense of entitlement, a desire to know simply for the sake of the thing. Her assessing, wandering gaze found many plants both known and unknown, landed on a few she used herself, and finally alighted upon a stranger.

He looked like an Eternity.

It was strange to think, she thought, but he did. It was probably his eyes, that shade of yellow-green she’d heard so much about that it seemed familiar despite never having met some of its most famous bearers. Salsola’s Regent ventured out no more, and her daughter, Indra’s mother, had disappeared from this place.

Have you found anything interesting, senhor? She wondered aloud, stepping close enough that she could see even the most infinitesimal reactions in his face, his hands, but not so close that it might be considered rude.

It occurred to her then that he might be new, one step through the door, and it made her smile for a reason she could not explain.



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POSTED: Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:09 pm

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It was a woman that had found him. She was colored in soft, reddish hues, was accented by darker, vibrant ones across her cheeks, ears, and blaze on her nose. Her hair was a long, rich auburn. Red certainly seemed like an uncommon color in the Kingdom, and, curiously, seemed to only be, truly, found amongst the women. She looked young, perhaps less than two years old, but her mauve-colored eyes were sharp and intelligent, defying whatever initial assumptions one might have from a cursory glance.

Argive stood out of respect to whatever rank she might have held. Only one red head was beneath him, and this certainly wasn’t the one Sanguine had described in his teachings.

A foreign word rolled off her tongue, however, it didn’t sound terribly derogatory given her tone. He couldn’t be sure though. For all he knew, she could have just endearingly called him a peasant or dog. He decided to pay it little mind for now, as there were other more important matters to attend to first.

“I have not,” he replied as he turned to face her fully. “But that’s how I’d prefer it. I’d rather work with fresh herbs to heal a wound than grinding up dried ones into a paste.”

He offered her a fox-like smile then. “I’m rather new to the Kingdom, and I don’t believe I have met your acquaintance? I am Associate Argive Hemlock, sponsored by Sanguine Valentine.”

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POSTED: Sat Dec 14, 2019 12:35 pm

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In truth, he might’ve been anybody, someone whose presence escaped her for months, or a new recruit. She was sure, so terribly sure, that if he had been here for more than a month or two she would have noticed someone poking around in the gardens, introducing themselves every time they met someone knew. It was the unavoidable snare of Salsola; someone was always watching.

You’ll probably be interested in our curandero job, then, Said the Salcedo, thinking briefly about how ill-equipped they all were if some illness should come sweeping through the ranks. Such a thing was not unheard of, but it wasn’t something she thought about often. His easy smile reminded her of her own, and she considered this before adding onto her previous statement. or maybe boticario, which deals more with plants and creation.

To be quite honest, she didn’t see why it was necessary to split hairs – healer and apothecary seemed nearly indistinguishable to her – but it had not been her decision, and anyway, maybe it wasn’t only healing that intrigued him. Many considered her a trader only, which was not wrong necessarily, but her interests encompassed more than that.

We haven’t met, Argive Hemlock, She confirmed with a slight, polite bob of her head, testing his name, ensuring she said it properly. Some newcomers had such strange names, after all. I’m Clementine Salcedo, one of two Merchant Apprentices here in Salsola.

It bothered her a little that Julius was also counted among the apprentices; what had he done lately? What would he do for them in the future?

Argive’s sponsor, however, was someone she knew. Not well, of course, as such things were terribly difficult in a pack that hinged on secrecy and exploitation, but she considered him as something more than an acquaintance. He might even step up where his siblings had stepped down, filling the void where her two friends had disappeared.

How have you found Sanguine’s tutelage? She almost left it at that, and then continued. Has he told you about the Last Supper? Saturnalia, which is coming up? The Cotona ritual?



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POSTED: Sun Dec 15, 2019 9:15 pm

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Jobs. They were an interesting concept for Argive. They were professions that one could hold within the Kingdom. Only those that had proven their skills could be granted the prestige of the formal title, however. For whatever reason, they all held foreign words for names. He believed Sanguine had said that it had something to do with tradition carried from the Kingdom’s early days.

He nodded all the same, accepting the suggestions the pretty young woman gave him. “Thank you for the advice. I’ll be sure to look more into them.” Mentally, he made note to ask his sponsor what each entailed when he saw the young man next. Still in his trial phase, Argive knew that he would have to prove his loyalty to the Kingdom and show an understanding of its culture first before he could work towards greater things. This didn’t mean he couldn’t look beyond his current, lowly rank, however.

She eventually introduced herself, and he raised his brows with mild interest. “You look quite young for such a high rank. You must be very skilled in your trade,” he surmised. The other Merchant Apprentice that he’d met, Julius, had been young as well, though, he had still looked older than the redhead before him, had been a little more prickly too.

Clementine asked more questions of him, seeming curious of how much he knew about Salsolan culture, or, perhaps, she was simply trying to gauge how long he had been with the Kingdom. It had been a couple of months since he had been accepted by the Erilaz, however, seeing as she had never seen him, nor him, her, it might have been reasonable to assume that she, as an esteemed Apprentice, had been busy with other duties, maybe even outside of the Kingdom. She seemed too talkative to be of the lives-under-a-rock sort.

“Warden Sanguine has shown to be a reputable wealth of knowledge thus far,” he decided. The young Valentine had yet to give him cause to doubt the information he gave him, and Argive doubted that Sanguine would attempt to trick or pull the wool over his eyes either; not when Sanguine’s own reputation could be hurt as well since they were Ward and Sponsor.

Argive shifted his weight. “He has yet to mention that last one you said though. The Cotona ritual?” He canted his head slightly, wondering if the Merchant Apprentice cared to elaborate, or if she had merely meant to pick his brain with its mention.

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POSTED: Fri Dec 20, 2019 4:33 pm

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For clarity's sake, Clem does not think Argive is petulant, but maybe wishes he was. ;]

Though she could not imagine he had meant it this way, she abstracted his words and their inflection into something that put her in mind of an eye-rolling child when he spoke of asking his sponsor — Sanguine, who would make a good mentor, she thought — about the jobs she mentioned and it made her smile a little, even if it was of the secretive sort that did not quite reach her eyes.

Whatever the truth, she preferred her little piece of fiction. Salsola’s laws were rigorous, and respected was generally owed rather than earned by the upper echelons. The Merchant Apprentice would’ve liked to see more boldness in their new recruits, if only because they would remind her of herself. Even as a child, she had pushed the limits of what she thought Elphaba might tolerate, always careful to tiptoe back over to safety when it proved too much.

Sometimes she’d even thought the young Queen enjoyed her brashness. It wasn’t often, she thought, that anyone dared to behave brashly in the presence of the Mafiosi, and anyway, such things were tolerable, charming even, in Salsolan children. Cowering, spineless behavior was for Outsiders.

I am, She confirmed when Argive assumed correctly that she had done and seen much to rise to her station at such an age. for the moment I am the pack’s only mercante — that’s our word for merchant — and that has allowed me the freedom to move freely not only beyond our borders, but into a role worth coveting.

Clementine did not mention the possibility that nepotism had probably played a small role in her success here, seeing no reason to diminish her own abilities.

By-and-large it appeared as if Sanguine’s tutelage was effective. Nothing she said seemed to surprise the green-eyed Hemlock man, save for one thing. It didn’t surprise her, exactly; to her knowledge, there was only one person still capable of giving the mark to members, and it had been a long time coming. There were even periods of time wherein the Hand of Eris was only a dream one might aspire to.

The Cotona ritual, She began, sounding for all the world as if she were reciting some piece of literature from memory. is the process of being marked with the Hand of Eris. When Salsola was formed, Eris Eternity was Sirius’ Auxiliary; even today, to be marked with the Hand is a sign of loyalty.

The authority in her voice felt foreign, but she gave no sign of this, having started down this path the day she'd consented to be tutored by the Boss.



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POSTED: Sat Dec 21, 2019 2:03 pm

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xDD

She smiled a little at his response to her suggestions, though, there was an emptiness to it. A lack of true sincerity, perhaps; one made out of gesture rather than true feelings. The subtle thing was interesting to see unfold, and something that he wondered might have helped her with her status or duties for the Kingdom. A more oblivious soul might have missed it, might have merrily accepted the smile as a smile and blissfully carried on in their ignorance.

The Apprentice confirmed her level of skills without modesty, revealing further of one of the jobs she held as well. She provided its translation this time—unnecessary given how similar the words were to one another, but, he was grateful all the same—and the added perks the role allowed her. He nodded approvingly to her choice to pursue such a role and rank within the pack. “Bountiful trading possibilities was one of the things that struck my interest in the Kingdom,” he mentioned, “I imagine that you must help attribute quite a bit to the Kingdom’s wealth? Come spring, perhaps I could bother you for your expertise and experience with the market in the area?”

His word were meant to flatter her ego, however, there was also a sincerity to them. If she was as good as her rank would suggest, he would have been a fool to not seek out her expertise. As a merchant, surely, she would know the area and the traders that frequented around it. If he wanted more herbs and materials to work and experiment with, knowing someone that was skilled in the art of bartering for a good deal and an eye for quality would certainly make things easier.

Connections were everything in this world.

When the subject shifted to that of the Cotona ritual, Argive did well to give her his full attention. It was an interesting concept, this Hand of Eris. He supposed, secretive as thee pack was, having the mark might help them identify each other in a setting beyond the Kingdom’s borders. If a member from the Portland group were to meet with one of the main Kingdom, the mark would hold more substance than one’s word. Anyone could claim to be of Salsola if they were a good enough liar, after all.

“That sounds quite clever,” he remarked. His brows furrowed then, “What does it look like? How is it given?” Was it a tattoo? A trinket? An item with it branded or embroidered on it? Argive couldn’t recall seeing anything obviously distinguishable amongst the varying members he’d interacted with thus far.

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POSTED: Sat Dec 21, 2019 9:52 pm

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Irritation, rare that it was in her, sprang across her face like a live wire; a poor trait in a trader, one would think. Most of her strong emotions — and the negative ones, too — were reserved for fellow Salsolan’s she’d found; there was no use letting emotions get the better of her with lesser creatures, those Outsiders, but protected by thorns and thistles, she gave herself free reign.

Flattery, false or real, bothered her. She supposed it had been because of her youth, once upon a time, when the voice of her elders rang with indulgence. In many ways she was a vain young woman, thinking herself pretty, talented, and likable, but she had in more ways than one worked hard for this title, this job, this recognition.

She did not like having these things thrown in her face.

No, you cannot bother me, The Apprentice cherry-picked his words, rifling through them like a vagrant. but when Salsola prospers, we all prosper, and if you require it I will help you in your endeavors because of that.

Thoughtfully, she considered raking him over the coals a bit more, and then shook her head ever-so-slightly. Histrionics would benefit no one, and it was not so large a mistake in the end. Anyone else, she thought, would have been flattered that he’d even bothered.

More to the point, she wondered why spring was his specified time of year; looking to the herbs and plants around them, she suspected it had something to do with them. Perhaps he was looking to become Salsola’s next profumiere. He didn’t look the part, exactly, but then again, many things were not what they seemed here.

With a muttered may I interspersed into her movements, she found a small twig nearby and invaded his personal space, scratching out with some difficulty a vague shape resembling the Hand of Eris in the cold but not-quite-frozen ground. Today’s weather was warmer than usual, and this benefited them both.

Most members apply it through scars, Symre’s father was one, a bear of a man living in the fort. some get it tattooed if they can find someone capable enough. In the past we've had members who specialized in it, but not anymore.

Indra was one of those; she had tattoos from the base of her spine right up to its finial, and they all had some secret meaning.

Clem had asked her once if they were magic.



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POSTED: Tue Jan 07, 2020 2:34 am

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Sorry for the wait! Hope I gave you enough to reply to! I tried to think of questions that someone who’s never heard of this might ask/be genuinely curious about x3

Testy, he thought with a raised twitch of a brow. Perhaps he had been wrong to believe this one and the other Merchant Apprentice had been any different from one another. Maybe it was their age that made them so quick to attack? Maybe it had something to do with their respective Houses and the expectations and pressures placed on them? Perhaps it was their rank, or maybe it was his own as an Associate still?

Whatever the reason though, Argive had made a mental note to not cross the two Apprentices for the time being. From his experience thus far with either, it seemed they were not keen to be bothered by someone like himself unless they instigated things first. So, for now, going to the Quartermaster, Helena, for whatever supplies or trade inquiries he had would have to suffice lest he wished to be snapped at.

Regardless of her apparent offense to a particular word of his though, she seemed to simmer enough to continue their conversation without resorting to a tantrum or lecture. “I shall keep that in mind,” he replied neutrally, humbly accepting the answer he had received anyways. With any luck, his lack of furthering that particular line of conversation would allow the Salcedo’s sudden irritation with him to settle for the time being.

The topic regarding the Cotona ritual seemed to be an easier one to navigate through. She encroached on his space, and he let her have it with little care. Clementine drew him out a rather simple-looking symbol comprised of straight lines. He wondered if the mark’s founder had anything in mind when they created it. Was it meant to actually represent something? Or perhaps something intended to be abstract?

He hummed with interest as the Apprentice explained that the mark was something physically applied to one’s own flesh. Unlike a trinket that could be thrown away or a patch on one’s clothing that could be ripped off, a scar or tattoo were permanent. Argive had more experience with scars than he did with works of dyes or inks applied to one’s skin, and he knew only a few ways for a scar to take that would make something so honorable worthwhile. None would have been entirely pleasant for the recipient either.

A mark of loyalty it certainly would have been indeed.

“Does the ritual have to be carried out by a particular individual?” A decedent of this Eris Eternity person? A special task and title maybe bestowed upon someone by the Queen herself? Clementine had said that the pack was lacking in someone who specialized in the art, was this perhaps why?

Argive held his chin thoughtfully as he considered the subject matter more. “Do you have to be of a certain rank before you can partake in it? Or is it something you have to earn and be proven for?”

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POSTED: Fri Jan 10, 2020 1:12 am

No worries! I can reply to almost anything. (;

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The moments — like this one — in which she found herself deviating from the carefully constructed path she’d designed for herself were regrettable indeed. Rare moments in which she lost her temper revealed that despite all of her natural charisma and charm, there were factors beyond her control; she and the other Merchant Apprentice were both of a comparable age, which led one to wonder what exactly it was they both possessed to have vaulted themselves into such esteemed ranks so swiftly.

A simple answer was easiest, and likely the most precise: ambition. It devoured them, but it shut out their ‘enemies’, too. Clementine worked for the greatness of Salsola and held its ideals in high esteem, but one could not say with any degree of certainty that she’d done this for altruistic reasons. It was for her, for her family, that she had done this.

Respect was earned, not given.

In this way there were some glaring discrepancies between rank and esteem. Her own mother, a mere Tradesman and therefore of a lower status than some newcomers, was allowed certain things no others were due to her family; Elphaba turned a blind eye to some of her less egregious dealings and ignored what small social faux passes she could because it was easier than the alternative. Even today, for fear of the repercussions, Clem rarely tried to pull rank on the older woman.

Flattery is unnecessary, Clementine informed the relative stranger, her face relaxing after a long moment of contemplation. Salsola’s diplomats differed from others on the sole basis that they were, by virtue of their pack’s insurmountable wealth, always negotiating from a position of strength. This allowed for some personality traits one might otherwise consider questionable, she thought. I haven’t come this far just to have an Associate placate me like I’m some ill-tempered bambina.

It was almost an apology, this brief explanation for her irritation.

More to the point, she listened as he asked his questions about the Hand of Eris, his curiosity about their culture and customs acting as a far more soothing balm to her frustrations that mere words ever would be. They were intelligent, inquisitive questions, the sort only a clever man could ask. Clearly, he had come to the right place.

It doesn’t have to be carried out by any particular person, She shrugged her shoulders. though traditionally it has been done by a member of the Sanctus faction in the past, or someone who holds the segno or segna job. They are the same word, really, Pausing here briefly, she looked away, to the plants, the dirt. there’s some difference between the gender of the words. If we were both to hold the job, you would be a segno, and I would be a segna.

Not that she thought this would be likely. She already held one job, and the other was one she considered to be well within her grasp.

Anyone skilled enough in any of the applications — scarification or tattooing, usually — could theoretically do it, though they’d have to be ranked within the Familia first. An Associate, She nodded toward him, smiling a little. likely wouldn’t have a firm enough grasp on our cultures and customs yet to do such a thing.

Laughing abruptly, something had clearly occurred to her.

And it’s permanent, so you can see why mistakes can’t be made.



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