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8 Aug 2010
Sienne, Begnion
Late Summer, 747
Sienne University of Magical Arts

OOC Thread

When Basil Offray had been approached with an offer to chair the Sienne University of Magical Arts Spellwriting Competition in 747, he had been very pleased, though not, strictly speaking, very surprised. He had really been a shoo-in for the decision for some time, given his extensive and well-regarded work on spell mechanics and his several authoritative publications—not to mention that Basil himself had one year been a winner of the Pinetti.[1][2] Basil suspected that it was due to his more controversial theological positions that he had not been selected long ago. The administration was, as always, concerned about appearances—but that was to be expected, Basil supposed.

There had been some grumblings about the decision, of course. Professor Hawkes of the Conrad Mage's Academy in Percipus had observed that for the past six years the winners of the Pinetti had been mages associated with the Begnion academia—including four Sienne University alumni—and had written: "Is Basil Offray, a professor whose emphasis on theory and classroom mechanics goes so far as to exclude actual casting entirely from his syllabus, really what the Pinetti needs, if SUMA wishes to extend a hand down from the ivory tower of Begnion's intelligentsia?" Basil, however, went unfazed by Hawkes's populism and insinuation of bias. The selection process for the Pinetti was done with the utmost rigor—if academic spellwrights were more frequently selected, it was only because they had written better spells. Was it so strange to presume that those mages with formal training in the practice of spellcraft might be superior at it?

The judges had reviewed some hundreds of entries, judged their quality, shared them amongst themselves for further review, and slowly whittled down the list to a list of thirty. These mages had then been invited to Sienne where, that day, the judges were calling upon the finalists to personally perform their entries. The rules of the competition stipulated that the judges should not come to a formal decision on the winner until after they had viewed all the performances, but the performances themselves did not affect the entrants' scores—it was the spellwriting that was being judged, after all, not the proficiency with casting—and in practice the judges already knew the winner coming into performance day. For this reason, the awards ceremony at which the winner was announced had come to be scheduled just the day after the performances. This year, however, the judges were still debating amongst a few entries, and so as they waited for "Madune, Erur" to appear before them they were all arguing over the finer points of each entry. They would need to hand down a decision the next evening.

The panel of five judges sat at a long table set up in the grass of a side yard adjacent to the Anima Department. It was hot out, and the professors were all sweating profusely in their heavy red gowns and fezzes. The table was stacked high with various tomes and scrolls—the spells of the entrants, the pages of which were being rustled constantly by the gently blowing breeze. In the middle of the table sat the Chair, Basil, and from left to right the four other judges, whom the chair personally selected: Professors Leavis,[3] Tate,[4] Cerletti, and Bini.[5] The only other living things in sight were a handful of pigs penned up a few feet from the judges' table, for the use of the competitors. The other entrants had been instructed to wait in the atrium of the Anima Department building, so as to preserve the privacy of the performances—many entrants wished to protect their compositions from intellectual theft.

The judges were all leaning toward each other, debating in not-so-hushed whispers, when Erur appeared.

[1] His entry had been the spell "Coulomb," and at that time the awards ceremony had begun shifting away from an emphasis on mastery of classical composition techniques to more modern experimental spells.

[2] It was frowned upon for past winners of the award to enter later competitions, and the few times that a spellwright had broken this unspoken rule they had not even been shortlisted. Staying true to the tradition, Basil had never entered the competition again after his win—which meant, of course, that there was no way of determining how many other times he might have won.

[3] A professor of theory from the light department who had argued in his essay "On the Academic and Light Magic" that solar spells had been vital to the development of modern secular spell mechanics, and had marked the reclamation of the school of magic by the academia.

[4] A professor of dark magic composition who had developed a theoretical means of long-distance communication through the use of illusion magic, and who, like Basil, was a Pinetti winner.

[5] Two professors—of anima and dark magic, respectively—who had co-written the treatise "On Mana and the Workings of Lightning Spells, Concerning the Effects of Lightning Magic on Organic Material" and together developed the experimental spell "E.C.T.," a copy of which Basil himself possessed for testing purposes.

OOC: Click Here To Show/Hide This Text
I'll have everyone take turns coming in and performing their spells, which will of course be your chance to unveil the spell you're entering in the competition. The people who aren't performing are milling about in the big impressive front atrium of the department building. Once everyone's performed we'll start social rounds.
1 Aug 2010
Kyrene peered out the window of the Blue Feather General Store, judging to the best of her ability just how late Aisha was by the position of the sun in the sky. The fox was supposed to be in an hour after Kyrene opened up shop, and that was some three hours ago. She would have some explaining to do when she arrived. Kyrene sighed. Business was slow that morning; it was nothing Kyrene couldn't handle herself, anyway. She then turned her eye on the spice rack in the corner of the shop. It was looking a little light—too many bare spots after the mischievous-looking young man stopped by to get ready his "dinner for three." Kyrene headed into the back, located a crate of spices, and spent several minutes rummaging through its haphazardly-organized contents for a jar of rosemary, basil, licorice—buried at the bottom.
25 Jul 2010
The Composition and Ritual of High Magic

Late in the summer of each year, the Sienne University of Magical Arts announces the winner of its annual spellwriting competition—the recipient of the Sienne University of Magical Arts Award for Distinguished Spellwrights (commonly, and puzzlingly, known in spellwriting circles as the "Pinetti"). SUMA makes it a goal to reach out to talented spellwrights who may not be affiliated with the academic community—and as it is an international competition, many of the entrants are from outside Begnion. While the award comes with a cash prize, more important to many of the entrants is the prestige and recognition that the Pinetti brings its winner.

The selection process is lengthy. The university begins accepting submissions—which may be brought to the university in person or sent by courier—in the spring, and many of the most dedicated participants begin drafting their submissions as early as the preceding year's competition. The panel of judges takes several months to review each submission by hand and produce a shortlist of candidates who are then invited to personally perform their spells for the judges in Sienne and attend the awards ceremony the next day. It is not technically required that an entrant travel to Sienne to perform their spell—it is merely a formality—but no spellwriter who did not has ever won the award.

There are, however, other requirements. The spell must be written on parchment or a similar material, preferably in a spellbook format—though this is not required. The spell must have a demonstrable use in combat, although the spell need not be violent in effect. The spell must be in one of the traditional three schools: anima, light, or dark. Staves and summons are not eligible for consideration.

This year, the esteemed magical theorist Basil Offray has been chosen to chair the committee that selects the winner. The shortlist for the competition has been released, and Basil and the other judges are ready to receive the competitors' performances—but with so many people gathered at the university, it is very easy for shadier characters to infiltrate the campus...

  • This RP takes place in late summer, 747.
  • Each participant will need to actually design a new spell using the weapon system for their character's entry in the competition. At the end of the RP I will select that entry that I feel is the most creative and makes best use of the weapon system as the winner of the competition. Your character must be able to perform the spell, and the spell must be at least C rank to be considered—beyond that, however, weapon level will not influence my decision. There won't be any need to submit your spell until the RP begins.
  • Obviously, this RP is for magic-users only. I'd like characters who are fairly well-leveled, but the requirements are not strict. Characters with at least a C weapon rank should be fine. You can assume that every opponent you engage, unless otherwise specified, has a level just slightly below your own.
  • Please be sure you can post fairly quickly and reliably.
  • There will be no posting order or "rounds" of posting. Post whenever you feel it appropriate.
  • If I get enough applicants that I can afford to be selective, I will. Members would be considered based on what they could contribute to the plot and how they would fit in with the rest of the cast; rejection would not mean that I hate you, or think you suck, or something. I will try to give priority to SUMA-affiliated characters.
Signups are now closed.

11 Jul 2010
Nevassa, Daein
One week before the commencement of Operation Charging Bull

OOC Thread

OOC: Click Here To Show/Hide This Text
The following was a joint post with SoloWing, with a cameo appearance from Lara.

It was an unseasonably chilly night, even for Nevassa, and as Wilhelm Immelmann von Märchen slowly but purposefully walked the streets of the capital his mouth mirrored the city's towering smokestacks, giving off little visible puffs of steam that slowly dissipated in the night air. A pale moon hung far overhead, obscured by the haze that hung over Nevassa's industrial district. The streets were quiet and empty, for unless you had a very good reason to be out at night you were sure to be stopped by the guards. But von Märchen possessed every authorization to walk the streets as he pleased. And he was beyond suspicion anyway—he was the highest-ranking officer in the Schönehimmel. The only man in Tellius who could give him an order was King Daein himself. There was no doubt that von Märchen's loyalty had been proven thoroughly, and was simply unquestionable.

There were a half-dozen places in Nevassa where his meeting with "Talon" might be that night, and the abandoned warehouse would be the fourth von Märchen tried. He could never be quite sure where she would be waiting, and this was the system that best ensured Talon's safety. He rounded a corner, approached the entrance of the warehouse, and tried the front door. It was unlocked. Talon must already be inside. The marshal went through the door, closed it quietly behind him, and then turned to face the warehouse's pitch-dark interior. He slowly elevated his arms, so that it could be plainly seen that he was not carrying any large weapons, but he did not say a word. Talon would approach him.

Now that her guest was here, there wasn't much point in keeping him waiting. Lara let gravity carry her from the rafters as she lightly dropped to the ground. Hopefully, the sound would go unnoticed in the night. If not, it wouldn't matter too much.

"You have something for me?" Lara let her words bounce off the walls. She took a step forward, letting just enough of the dim, moonlight hit her to give Wilhelm a general direction.

Von Märchen nodded, and slowly lowered his arms. Straight to business. "I assume you know of the recent raid on the Bulle des Volk headquarters, in Asilbed?" he asked.

"It's been trumpeted too much for me not to." Lara nodded slowly, knowing the motion wouldn't be seen. "What does that have to do with me? We've no connection to them."

"When we raided their headquarters, we didn't find many rebels, contrary to the reports of the papers," von Märchen said, "and the ones who were there weren't very high up. What we did find, however, was a sizable stockpile of explosives. Interrogations revealed that the Bulle des Volk had obtained them through a partnership with a Hatarian smuggling ring. And that the leaders of the group had fled to Culbert, where their smuggling partners were active. The explosives we found were, apparently, just the tip of the iceberg—the larger store was in Culbert. The rebels plan to use the explosives in a terrorist attack in Nevassa. The targets are not strictly military. And if the intel is correct, they are rapidly becoming ready to launch this attack."

Lara's face twisted to accommodate for a frown. She didn't like the direction that this was going and decided to say so: "Why are you telling me this?"

Von Märchen continued: "King Hinzvark has ordered a covert military operation to dispose of these rebels. Go in, eliminate the rebels, procure their weapons, and get out. The king plans to pay off the local nobility to turn a blind eye—if all goes according to plan, the Empress will never even know. At the insistence of the king—and myself—I have been selected to lead this operation. I'm telling you all this because, if you order me to, I could make sure the operation does not succeed. The rebels could escape, and their attack be carried out. Would this be in the Resistance's interest at all?"

Truth be told, there would be a slight benefit to that operation surviving. The more divided the regime's attention was, the more likely the Resistance was to survive. But trading innocents for their lives was something that would never sit right with her. Ever.

"We have no affiliation because we'd never condone their methods." The explanation was simple enough. "Don't let them escape, take them down as hard as you can."

Von Märchen nodded invisibly. "As you wish. The operation will commence in six days. If you don't hear anything about it, then I'll have succeeded."

"Then we'll pray you do." Despite the need for this route and annihilation, Lara couldn't help but realize that she'd just condemned a group of people to their death. It was not a feeling she liked.


High above the Sempar Sea
Summer, 747
The break of dawn

In all, there were nineteen of them. Nine Streikwaffe units, carrying on the backs of their wyverns nine Feuerwehr soldiers, and Klaviermarschall von Märchen flying at the head of the formation. These were elite men, the best of the best. The Streikwaffe units had been hand-picked by von Märchen himself. The mission was a matter of Daein's national security, and no expense could be spared to ensure it succeeded. Each man wore a look of steely determination. The wyvern's flapped their wings steadily, moving with a speed that stressed physiological limits. Far below passed the dark waters of the Sempar Sea. The sun had not yet risen.

Their target was the Jaffar Corporation's regional headquarters in the duchy seat of Culbert. Based on information from a Feuerwehr agent that was stationed there, von Märchen had coordinated with the Feuerwehr Todchef to devise a plan of attack. The Streikwaffe would carry the Feuerwehr units to the front of the building, where the Feuerwehr would enter through the main lobby. The Streikwaffe would then fly to a roof entrance used for cargo drop-offs, and enter from there. The two groups would sweep through the building, arrest or kill all the Bulle des Volk rebels, then procure the explosives, which would be transported via wyvern back to Daein. The mission's internal code name—Operation Charging Bull—was apt. There was no delicacy in this job. They were busting in and counting on the element of surprise to allow them to overwhelm the rebels, despite the small number of soldiers. It would be noisy, and messy, and moreover it was all happening in the daylight, because there was no way for the wyvern units to navigate to the target in the darkness of night. This was problematic, because of the mission's secrecy concerns.

Since the assassination of Duke Culbert the region had descended into political chaos, and there was no clear central authority. King Hinzvark had determined that there was no time, however, to follow diplomatic protocol and petition the Empress herself for permission to enter the country. Ostensibly, Daein believed they had obtained valid authorization from one Lord Jowiki to carry out the operation, but von Märchen—and King Hinzvark himself—knew well that the noble had no such authority. In reality, Daein's military presence in Culbert was a violation of Begnion's national sovereignty, and if the Empress found out things would quickly become bad for the operation, and for Daein. Thus, the entire operation had been organized in the utmost secrecy. Funds had been provided to a Feuerwehr agent who had dispersed them liberally among the local nobility—their men should not trouble them. Still, the operation had been organized in utmost haste. There were too many things that could go wrong, none of which Daein could afford. Up ahead, the waves broke against the Begnion coastline. Once the men crossed it, there would be no turning back.

OOC: Click Here To Show/Hide This Text
Yay it's up. Establishment round gogo; Shuuda, if you could have Emir be in the lobby of the building for some reason at the end of your post, that will help me out quite a bit. The action is going to get underway here very shortly; with my next post, in fact. Hystrix, if you could catch me on AIM next chance you get, that'd be swell. Have fun, everyone!
26 Jun 2010
Sienne, Begnion
Summer, 747
The Capital City—The Arts District
Late afternoon

OOC Thread

Don had decided that painting had brought him personal fulfillment to a greater degree than mercenary work ever could. When he originally submitted his painting to the art fair committee, it had been an offhanded thing, an afterthought. Why not, he figured. It was strange, then, that when he received the letter from the committee informing him that the painting had been accepted, he felt an inner pride building up within him that he could not remember feeling for many years—a feeling akin, perhaps, to that of the time he left his first ever kill as a mercenary slowly bleeding to death in a grassy plain. And there wasn't even any pay. After his adventures in Thistlehaven, however, Don had not been hurting for money. He had quite a nest egg saved up, in fact. Perhaps he could even move into the city...

Don's painting was mounted on the outside wall of a large theatre. A temporary awning had been built over this wall, to protect the paintings hung there from the elements. A plaque under Don's painting read: "Untitled #14. Don Friedemann." Fourteen different paintings had been submitted to the committee without titles, and to differentiate them to the patrons, the committee had decided to number them: "Untitled #1," "Untitled #2," etc. Don's was selected to be number fourteen. The other thirteen "Untitled" painters were part of an avant-garde artistic movement in Sienne that opposed titles on ideological grounds, declaring that "all art ought to speak for itself, on its own terms." Don didn't get into all that. His painting actually had a title—it was "Brigand Slowly Bleeding to Death in a Grassy Plain." He'd just forgotten to include it with his submission.

Don turned away from his painting. Everywhere you looked, people were walking to and fro, examining the artwork that lined every wall in the district. Many of the paintings put Don's to shame, but he didn't worry about that. He was never going to be a master. He just liked looking at the nice artwork. Some of the paintings he just didn't understand, though. In one painting a man with the legs and neck of a giraffe was eating from the leaves of a tree which, as you travelled down the trunk, became a slender young woman. He didn't know what the painting was supposed to be about, but the giraffe subhuman made him uncomfortable.

Don walked on. He was hoping to meet some interesting people to talk to. They could strike up a conversation and, perhaps, he could even get their opinion on his painting.
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