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Kilvaer
That One Guy
26 years old
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Namibia
Born Aug-7-1992
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Kilvaer

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3 Jun 2010
Thelman, Seliora, Begnion
Late Summer 747

Gravel crunched under Peyton's boots as she made her way through the derelict of Thelman, surveying the old buildings that had fallen into disrepair. It had only been a few years but already the long-abandoned homes were failing under their roofs, their walls hideous like jack-o-lanterns with gaping holed teeth where bricks once stood. It was a depressing place. She clicked her pen and began to check off the form she was issued, evaluating the damage of the town.

A day prior, Peyton was contacted by Judith to make an appraisal of the Thelman estates. Count Caius Jorgen—a name Peyton knew all too well—had expressed interest in revivifying the settlement as a commercial outpost, and considering the substantial returns he'd receive for his investment by the significant businesses who first proposed the idea, Peyton begrudgingly would have thought him a fool to turn it down—even with so much history buried here. She was incensed at the count's eagerness to bury this place under shining new buildings, as if the people whose lives he cost never existed. Wiping out the ruins of Thelman just as greedily and carelessly as he wiped out its people. The bureaucrat hardly thought he even remembered what he did to these people, or more bitterly, she imagined he remembered exactly what he did, and that this new utopia would hide Thelman from his conscience and from the knowledge of others.

And even as Peyton reviled the count with each gritty step on rubble and overgrowth, she also remembered poignantly how she had helped destroy this humble town, and how, today, in this instant, she was filling out a form assessing the damages of her irresponsibility—twice serving the interests of this man she never met but hated. It's my job, she assuaged herself, taking note of the dilapidation of the small church's rooftop. Years ago she bloodied this place, and now, sacred as it was with the blood of so many innocents she never knew, Peyton was helping to conceal any consequences—any justice—that may come to the guilty. Even her, she mused sadly.

"Ahh, Peyton," she sighed, looking at her old ruin. She didn't say anything else for a long while. Just stood there, looking blankly at nothing.
17 May 2010
Discussion

When the dust cleared and Old Magdo's mangled body was visible at the bottom of the crevasse, piled grotesquely among several rocks, there was a moment of awed silence that was followed with weeks of excited uproar in the clean, polished cafés among the finely-dressed and well-spoken who hadn't the faintest clue as to Old Magdo's ultimate sacrifice in providing them with the subject to their Sunday coffee chat.

"Did you hear about the discovery in Grann?" said A.

"The catacombs found in that quarry?" said B.

"They're saying it's Zunanman," said A.

"Really?" said B.

"Wow, that's really something," said C.

"Isn't it?" said A, lifting her cup with the tips of her fingers and sipping slowly, delighting in her compatriots' utter fascination with her and everything she had to say. "Guess who's leading the expedition."

B and C exchanged glances.

Their confusion and wonder thrilled A, she setting her cup down with all the elegance of the Apostle, bringing the news of the Goddess Herself. Bridging her hands under her chin, she whispered dramatically, "The apostate—that Offray fellow."

B and C squealed with relish. "I read one of his books," then quickly clarified, "—just to see what Ashera's enemies were saying, of course. You know."

Her friends' suspicious stares cooled gradually. Then A confided mischievously that she, too, had read one of them, earning the substantial sigh of relief from B. Only C remained incorrupt, lips pursed at her fellows' dark curiosities.

"I heard a man died, there," said B.

"Eh, who cares?"

/ / / / / / /

Jara, Grann Desert, Begnion
—Early Summer, 747


The sand in her boot, prevailing in its exasperating presence, was tipped by the sole back onto Grann's fine, warm desert landscape as Peyton grievously looked over the digsite from the shade of the encampment. Laguz and other tanned-skinned peasants entered and exited the creeping, dusty hole in the bottom of the Jara quarry. They lugged pickaxes and shovels and dislodged rocks between them, kicking up clouds of rock dust and sand around them as they noisily worked.

Peyton took a sip of water—unpleasantly at room-temperature, which in the desert was greater than your average room—and glared at nothing in particular. The Stewards' Rangers of the area were quite on top of things—if a bit casual, to Peyton's distaste—and she was happy to have competent troopers at her command. No, not her command. Godric's. That hairy, informal brute that was inexplicably surpassed her in the hierarchy of the Central Army military. Godric. She wasn't even sure he had a last name, or was intelligible enough to know it himself. He just scrawled that two-syllable name and burped, or some other atrocious thing. Peyton's disgust overwhelmed her ability to remember what exactly occurred in their first meeting, though she did note with some enmity that his handshake was too firm, and that the Lieutenant would do well to improve on his formal salutation customs. She considered suggesting a public speaking instructional class to him, where such things were trained, but decided to withhold it as a very bizarre method of expressing spite.

"Caddy—I mean, Second Lieutenant Travers!"

She glowered with terrible hostility at the soldier.

"The way's been cleared," he explained, a bit embarrassedly.

"Thank you, Private." He saluted, then skipped away to the laughter of his fellow servicemen. Ingrate.

Two days prior, Professor Basil Offray's study team of students and researchers descended into the caverns—before the stabilizing woodwork was properly installed to reduce the chances of cave-ins, said the foreman of the dig site, who, being perpetually half-drunk was less than a reliable source and already cited for workplace intoxication. Unexpectedly, the entrance tunnel into the subterranean corridor unearthed collapsed, causing the underground team to be isolated from the surface. Diggers had been commissioned to open the hole while Basil and his company—condition unknown—most likely, knowing Basil, migrated from the entryway and began to collect samples, or make etchings of wall-carvings, or whatever it was that they did. Peyton was only ever invited to one archaeological trip with the Professor, and she was tasked with recording inventory because their usual guy suffered a minor heat stroke and was resting. Weeks of planning...

While the diggers hacked at the boulders that blocked the way, Lieutenant Godric and Second Lieutenant Peyton were dispatched to oversee the operation and to lead the rescue team, as the affair was finally decided to be dangerous enough to require seasoned officers. And, luckily for Peyton, her involvement as an officer was not interrupted by "higher commands", and she happily and readily donned the cardinal uniform of her rank, adjusted her hair to suit the dark red cap, and was quite ready to join the file. Of course, there was a moment of professional expectations clashing unceremoniously with Godric, and one sore hand and a day later, Peyton was taking critical notes on the efficiency of the excavation crew for her review of their company's dependability for future projects.

"Lieutenant Godric," she addressed, then rephrased bitterly, "Commander." She straightened her shoulders. "The entrance point into the underground zone has been cleared. I believe Professor Offray and his group may have moved from location and further penetrated the cata—please don't touch that—and further penetrated the catacombs. I suggest we take a small team after them so as not to risk exciting the environment—I said don't touch that!—the environment from possibly collapsing again. Many passages in the tunnels may already be blocked from past seismic events or the recent cave-in, so it would be best to travel lightly.

"Consensus, Commander?"

It felt good to be doing her job again.
14 May 2010
The Thing That Should Not Be (theme)
aka Underground RP


An extensive network of catacombs is discovered in the stone quarry of Jara in Grann, flaring interest from all around as it has been dated to Pre-Deluge era—meaning the startlingly preserved mausoleum is a construct of the extinct Zunanma. An expedition is organized by the Sienne University of Magical Arts, helmed by controversialist Basil Offray, to investigate the tunnels, but an unexplained phenomenon results in a cave-in, isolating the student excavators from the surface. Responding quickly, the Central Army compiles a rescue team and prepares to enter the lost world...


Notes:
  • This RP takes place in Early Summer of 747.
  • All enemies are to be assumed to be at or below the level of the PC.
  • Posting order is loose and flexible; each round should have at least one post from each participant, or more should it be appropriate.
ParticipantsA Kilvy/Eli® production.
Music credits to Gogol Bordello, an awesome band.
10 May 2010
The first time Peyton ever heard her Spirit was the age of fifteen.

The sounds of deft scribbling were a near-constant since Peyton became a boarder at Barroghs. The young adolescent was religious in her book-keeping, constantly checking and re-checking and adding and making conjectures for the entirety of her time working. The minimum of her requirements was always completed long before the day's work time had ended, and so she purposely spaced out the workload to minimize on her idle time. Peyton abhorred having nothing to do, and hated to waste time.

Jotting down the last quantities of her calculations of the last year's expenditures, Peyton suddenly snapped up and looked around her. She heard weak, sordid whimper.

"Hello?"

She went back to work.

/ / / / / / /

Age nineteen, Peyton was walking with purpose down the tailors street with banking statements from Kloves. She passed by a store window where a strong-jawed woman was fixing the hem of a display model's dress. Young Peyton froze, hearing a short gasp that was loud enough to be at her ear. She looked around, looking up and at both ends of the street. She looked queerly at the storefront and the intensity of her stare caused the seamstress to snarl reciprocally.

/ / / / / / /

Peyton?—

The woman snapped bolt-right in her bed with startling speed, eyes wide as though they hadn't been closed for the past six hours. Her mouth was a thin, terrifying line. It was two months since the shop window.

There was a terrified squeal, and nothing more. She didn't sleep for two days.

/ / / / / / /

She flipped the page, absorbing the text of her book—Voices in Your Head?—with the precision of a champion archer. It was her third read-through of it, and she was determined to decrypt the sounds she kept hearing. Some days it was a murmur, a soft snoring sound, a squeak of terror, or grotesque purring—typically in the presence of conventionally attractive females, of whom Peyton could not comprehend (they weren't that pretty).

Her finger ran down the thick of the page of Chapter IX—Spirit Charmers—section I.IV on "invoking the spirit in you." She removed her slip-on shoe, crossing her naked leg at the ankle on her opposite knee. The strange glyph she'd acquired from the Wise Men's ritual years before was still an enigma to her. Her sketches of it did not match any of the samples the book offered, yet it didn't strike her as that of a Branded. Peyton was sure she was pure beorc.

Her hand gently rubbed the marked foot, feeling the soft of her skin and how the blemish didn't stand out at all to her fingers. Experimentally, she lightly brushed the tips of her fingers on the ball of her foot, drawing them over the marking. There was a giggle.

Emboldened, Peyton continued to tickle her foot, stroking it rapidly with her digits. The inner laughter increased, bubbling like a pot of steaming water. She was hearing pleas for her to cease. Peyton grabbed a feather, swirling its tail maliciously on the flat of her foot. The laughter was hysterical.

P-please! Please! Stop that! Ha-ha! Stop!"

"Who are you?" Peyton shrieked, scrubbing the feather torturously over her heel. "What do you want from me!" She ceased her ministrations.

The wild giggling slowly subsided now that the pot was off the heat. Peyton allowed it some breath, counting the minutes.

"Are you ready to talk, Anomaly?"

Yes... came the delayed whisper.

"What are you and what are you doing in my head?" A few moments passed, and Peyton threateningly moved her fingers to hover over her foot.

I'm nobody! I'm just a...whatchamacallit!

"A Spirit?"

Y-yeah!

Peyton grimaced, bobbing her foot with pensive irritation. So the Wise Men of Venslan had bound a Ley Line aberration to her person after all. She thought, then, that since she was a Spirit Charmer, all of her exercises in magical proficiency were distorted by this entity's influence—meaning every result accredited to her in exams and rankings were unintentionally skewered due to her unfair advantage. Her lips thinned, eyes hardening with a native sense of duty.

She returned to her book, flipping back to the table of contents and skimmed down the index.

Um... Miss Peyton?

"What."

What are you doing?... it asked shyly.

"Why so chatty now after so many years, hm?"

Well, um... um...

"Tst," she said turning the page. "I'm looking for the appropriate section detailing how to remove you. It should be under It's Not You, It's Me where the solvent formulas are for schizophrenics."

There was a low moan of fear.

Peyton sighed, bobbing her foot. "What?"

...Do I have to go?

"Yes."

Why?

"You are an unnaturally occurring energy symbiote with acquired intelligence that has no place in my body. Besides, you are very annoying."

It whimpered.

Page 213. Peyton began to flip the pages.

W-wait!

"What is it now?"

I... I thought, Iunno... maybe we could hang out, or something...

Peyton's page-flipping stopped immediately, and she began staring incredulously at nothing in particular. Several scornful responses raced through her mind, but each paled to reflect her intense revulsion at the Spirit's suggestion.

"What, may I ask, would we do? You have no physical body. You are, by definition, immaterial, and you are quite insignificantly a part of me, so any extended activities of companionship that we share would be omnipresent, uneventful, and boring.

"I trust you would agree that such a relationship would be pointless."

Mm... it mumbled sadly.

"Well pickles."

What?

"The book."

What's it say?

"Don't tell me you're illiterate, too."

I'm not used to reading much, and when I do it's usually in... well, 'Ancient' I suppose. Can you translate it...?

"No. It says 'There is no known method to successfully segregate a Spirit from its Charmer at this time.' Modern science, fah."

So does that—

"Yes. Now shut up." That was the first night Peyton ever drank, and the last time she would ever be drunk.

/ / / / / /

You can call me Rufus.

"What?" Peyton perked up from her anima theory mid-term. A student beside her vindictively Shh'd her, and Peyton glared at the cieling.

Rufus.

"Why would I call you anything?" she whispered. "Let alone that horrid thing."

Everybody needs a name.

"You are not an everyb—" Shh! Peyton lowered her voice again. "You are not an everybody!"

They were silent for a while, Peyton returning to her test and the Spirit returning to whatever it was it did. After contemplating the same question for the past fifteen minutes, Peyton whispered harshly, "Why Rufus?"

It's a nice name...

"It's ridiculous. Rufus is a stupid name—"

The booming voice came just as quickly as the sudden flame on Peyton's head, causing her to leap up and frantically pat at her smoking bun. "No talking!"

Professor Offray discredited her dissertation after class.

/ / / / / /

Peeeeeeeeeeeyton.

"What?" Peyton snarled, her grip on her pen tightening dangerously.

I'm loooooonely.

"What the heck do you have to be lonely about? You're permanently affixed to me. You're never lonely. Now quiet, I have survey polls to answer for Judith."

A little while later:

Peeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeyton.

She started to breath methodically to calm herself, her fingers drumming vexedly on her clipboard. "Yes?"

I want a girlfriend... Rufus moaned.

"What the heck do you want me to do?"

Find one...

"Absolutely not! Who knows what kind of laws there are against—that! I know for one there are regulations against guardians purposely arranging relationships for persons whose care they have been charged with! I... don't exactly know how a Spirit factors into that whole legality, but I don't really care." Immediately, Peyton was assailed with the obstinate wondering about the technicality.

You're thinking about it, aren't you?

"Quiet!" Peyton buried herself in her clipboard, slashing at the consensus bubbles with decisive strikes of her pen. A little bit later, she muttered bitterly, "I'll ask Judith."

Peyton now referred to the Spirit as Rufus.
28 Mar 2010
Authority: Click Here To Show/Hide This Text


Name: Peyton Travers
Nation: Begnion
Age (in 745): 29
Affinity: Earth
Race: Beorc

Class and Level: Sage level 20/1
Weapon Levels: Anima B / Light D

Appearance:
Positively average, much to her discontent, Peyton could fit into any crowd if it weren't for her uniform. Standing at 5'5" with a handsome, cocoa-colored complexion, Peyton holds herself with intimidatingly imperial posture. Her face, pretty but plain as paper, is heart shaped but angular, with sharp features that suit her personality synonymously. Her eyes, a light, dull brown flecked with blue, have an authoritarian edge to them, almost monarchial in insipid boredom and objection. Peyton's hair, a dark, mahogany hue, is accustomed to the fashionable bun she is partial to for its professional flair.

Her figure is modest, despairingly in lack of bodacious curves and a buxom breast. Her midriff and limbs have a sweep of noticeable muscle, toned diligently from her training in the Central Army and kept in peak condition thanks to a daily exercise routine to maintain her physique should she ever be demanded to have use for it.

Due to circumstances, Peyton rarely adorns her armor because of the time detriment required in putting it on and taking it off, which makes her work with the bureaucracy harder to carry out in full war regalia. Because of the periodic assignments sent to her almost daily, Peyton has slipped into a resigned policy of "Why bother?" and usually prepares herself in simply her maneuverable military suit; a dark red cap, scarlet uniform, black pants, and black boots. Recently, however, she's received a new black uniform, stylized for her unique position as the Senate's pet, which she's been expected to wear on occasion.

In her leisure, Peyton has developed a fancy of wearing turtlenecks to be less imposing, or sometimes wears her uniform for the opposite effect. Her liking towards sweaters is out of the hope that it'd distract from her body, a factor she has some shame in. One of her favorite accessories as of late is a wardrobe of argyle vests, a supplement that hasn't helped much in her getting any notice from her superiors.

Peyton can almost always be seen carrying a clipboard which she uses for business as well as keeping her condensed tomes on hand.

Personality:
Strictly by-the-book, literal and lacking in creative intuition of her own, Peyton finds herself to be hated by pretty much everyone—even the people she works for. While it affects her somewhat—especially the concealed name calling—she maintains her stoic personality. In truth, Peyton hates her work as a bureaucrat. It distresses her and bores her terribly. But, she carries out her work without complaint or compromise, justifying herself in saying that she's good at the job and will do it to the best of her ability.

Peyton is very dry and humorless, working on a strictly bureaucratic style of ethics and operation in any kind of activity that makes her almost unbearable to work with. She is disciplined and dutiful and always wants to show off her prowess to her supervisors—within the respectable boundaries of the assignment. She is highly critical of herself and her subordinates in reports—much to their displeasure—as she often highlights everyone's mistakes with the umbrella and condemnatory terms alloted to her, such as "Showed irrational judgment in the field of duty" for pitching a tent that detracted from the overall effectiveness of their encampment's tactical arrangement.

Of religion, Peyton is understandably ambivalent. Coming from a particularly unfortunate past with religiously devout people, Peyton has some significant reservations against such powerful "prophets" such as the Apostle and a government whose legislation is curbed by doctrinal maxims and bronze age canon. On the other hand, the young woman has respect for the Asherist prevalence on the idea of Order and discipline, and while she doesn't agree with the theist principle on which the various expressions of self-restraint and self-control are attributed, she does commend the effort. On the subject of Ashera Herself, Peyton is dubious, entertaining a healthy handful of doubt while being equally receptive to the opposing sides. In the end, she doesn't think much about the supernatural and the afterlife, needing no miraculous reasons to justify the world around her. Though, Peyton admits that she isn't as impartial as she lets on; the rigorous, complex designs of science that she was introduced to in the University has become something of an old flame of the young woman.

She also suffers from time to time paranoia of having an inferiority complex, catching herself unconsciously evaluating herself against other people, especially other women, which invariably depresses her with the accumulated reduction in her own value. Often she mulls on the fact that she's never been anything more than a representative her whole life. She delivered for Barroghs, worked for Kloves, was the successor of Kloves, worked for the Empire, works for Judith, and in an insightful niche she finds that her extended services to the Empire imposes her to represent the system of government itself. The one time she was ever in portrayal was in her childhood, and that ended disastrously with others' trickery and deception. The second time was when she attempted her own independent profession as a financial consultant, and the phantoms of insufficiency plagued her all throughout. Peyton has begun to assess—with the little understanding she has of psychology, though she does believe she could be excellent at it if she tried—that she is simply afraid of being autonomous and that her being so subservient to the demands of coexistent powers gives her a puerile sense of security. By being a liaison of something more solid and impressive, she is empowered by that trust placed in her by someone else, fearing the responsibilities that might come of making mistakes or errors of judgment on her own volition. Nothing can go wrong if I follow the rules. Nothing can go wrong if I act on another's behalf.

Peyton is, much to her consternation, deployed as a litigator on the behalf of the Senate for the majority of her time. She is considered one of the top executors of Begnion's civil administration, commonly tasked with assignments of presenting subpoenas, collecting or delivering documents for public record (such as administration of immigrants) and accompanying messengers as a legal witness of their successful delivery—just as usually, Peyton is asked to secretly compile a work review of those she works with to submit to her superiors. Among the military and central Begnion, Peyton is called Caduceus, or Caddy, because she is basically nothing but a tool and messenger of a twisting, arbitrary system that confuses itself around a basic, consummate principle. The added golf connotation has made the disparaging nickname available to her less sophisticated colleagues in the military, enthused by playfully, and accurately, affronting her as a 'lackey'.

Biography:
Peyton was born to a convivial rancher in a rather shady trade town known as Venslan and his susceptible and pious wife, who was piteously enchanted by all sorts of people. Peyton, the fifth child among four brothers, was quite frankly dissatisfied with her life. The peasantry her family enjoyed aggravated her, believing that where you placed in the world was what made a person significant. By admiring the luxurious opulence and ordered lifestyle of the wealthier merchants in Venslan, Peyton cultured herself to the prosperous behavior of the elite. Peyton dreamed of one day becoming a noble herself, living without the need for worries and frivolous wanderings of thought. The slovenly customs of her siblings and parents appalled her, and for her sanity's sake she opted to personally manage the house's chores in an effort to institute a bearable standard of living. She kept everything impeccable with her meticulous upkeep, even with the poor quality of their possessions, and would often curtail or improve her mother's endeavors, earning her various reprimands for "undermining authority" and being an overall brat. But Peyton endured the chastisements as she did all she could to make her home acceptable. She even taught herself how to read and write in one of her programs for self-improvement, and would keep a stringent schedule that correlated her needs for hygiene, exercise, healthy meals, housekeeping, and a diverse curriculum for personal refinement.

The young girl kept to herself for the majority of her childhood, aside from the community invocations she was made to take part in (proceedings Peyton now suggests contributed greatly to her spellcasting vocals). Of friends, she had none, but that fact didn't bother her much. She enjoyed her independence, but there were times where she thoroughly longed for some of the trivial companionship she kept hearing about. However, she never attempted to integrate herself because of two deterrents; she knew she didn't fit in with the other girls, and as she grew older she became much more conscious of her body. She was dissatisfied with her face, with her large nose and beady, insect eyes, frustrated at the obstinately flat chest, and dejectedly concerned that she was too skinny or too fat. The tempering of these insecurities with recurrent self-depreciation and lack of any positive reinforcement led Peyton to isolate herself indefinitely from her peers.

Venslan was located in the northern cusp of Salmo, and in the town there were a small coterie of elderly men known as "the wise men" who presided over the town as the de facto ruling class. Self-proclaimed mediums of all things spiritual, the wise men governed the public and sometimes private lives of the people, guiding them with clerical foundations and witty sagacious axioms, and being sustained by a monthly tithe of food paid by every family to their holy clerics. They lived as hermits in a mountain cave where they meditated and offered prose of wisdom to those who came to hear it. The amount of influence they held over their followers was staggering; one of their edicts enforced a patriarchal trend on society, resigning women to house work and the will of their husbands; on another occasion, the wise men demanded of a father to punish his son for having suggested that they were frauds: he complied without question. The wise men did much to instill superstition and paranoia in Venslan, and would frequently exile dissenters, mainstream Asherists or even demand social and economical embargoes against opposing towns. Many families were divided by their command, with pilgrims seeking the answers they claimed to have and exiles who denied their self-serving Truth. In reality, the wise men were unscrupulous charlatans who used their acumen to beguile the townsfolk. They were well-versed in magic which they used to reinforce their claims, using their abilities to perform miracles and to impress the people who had never seen such astounding feats. After decades of succinct sermonizing, they had fooled themselves into believing their own divinity and preached from their own deluded hearts.

Daily Peyton became further dispirited with her own capabilities, becoming jealous of those around her. At a holiday festival in Venslan, Peyton became particularly intrigued in the wise men's magical abilities. She knew that if she could learn magic she could do anything she wanted.

Knowing they would never accept her as a student, Peyton disguised herself in boys' clothing (a la brothers' closets, neatly folded by Peyton herself) and studied the aggressive nature of her siblings, taking notes and practicing in her spare time. When she was confident enough, Peyton made her way up the mountain slope and came to the fashionably adorned cave that radiated with the smell of musk and ancient occupants. The young "boy" entreated the wizened elders to teach him their knowledge of the magical arts, promising to be as dedicated and obedient as was asked of him. The wise men easily saw through Peyton's ruse, but they played along, humoring the child's belief that she had fooled them. The wise men agreed to teach her to toy with her, enthused by the prospect of properly humbling the girl. In the beginning they entertained themselves by making her do menial chores around their abode, washing the stone floors, emptying pots and incense burners, beating the dust from their carpets, and tending to their personal care, such as cleaning, cooking, and, at times, therapeutic massages—a task that revolted her, given the withered and sagging physiques of her tutors.

Peyton was perfectly obsequious, diligently enduring the sages' humiliating labors each day. One day, finally exasperated of being a servant, Peyton asked when they would begin teaching her how to use magic. One of the sages rapped her on the head with one of their walking canes for her insolence, and then began a scathing tirade against her before being interrupted by one of the others. The interloper furtively remarked that their disciple was indeed ready to learn the magical arts.

The wise men first explained how to use magic, in theory. Then, after weeks of lecture, they decided it was time to see her disappoint. To their profound shock and her satisfaction, she successfully spun the coriander seeds without touching them. They huddled speechless over her, gaping ludicrously at the orbiting seeds. A wavering groan crackled feebly in the silence, and, following, one of the clique slumped forward, dead. A lengthy funereal observance consumed the rest of the week and the living wise men, while they eulogized the unfortunate loss of one of their ken, also conspired all sorts of new strategies to finally outdo Peyton. They persisted with their game, invigorated underlies of requital for their companion's demise; it was personal.

They would give her tasks, often complemented with belittling gauges of her potential at managing it, and waited for her to fail. But she didn't. Each assignment became increasingly more difficult, the wise men becoming increasingly more desperate and frustrated. Peyton learned much from the duplicitous sages, oblivious to their ulterior motives, and magnified her faculties with every trial set before her.

The wise men's distress was intolerable. They couldn't understand how the pathetic girl had been able to adapt to each of their unfaithful lessons and bemoaned her overwhelming successes. In urgent need of a victory, they concluded that she wouldn't possibly be able to master the next lesson for her: Charming a Spirit.

After completing her chores at home, Peyton came to the wise men's hospice and was surprised to see that they were outfitted with musical instruments. They explained that they were going to be teaching her a new type of magic, something only the most special and proficient of prodigies were entitled to. It was an inauguration of sorts that required ceremonial constituents, and the scheming elders were enthusiastically committed to making Peyton's defeat as stately as possible.

Peyton was dubious of her masters' sincerity, but complied with their ritualistic tutorial. The wise men led her to the top of the mountain via an old goat path, telling her to kneel over a shallow indentation in the rock that had filled with rainwater and a few small, silvery fish that swam inside it. Doing as she was told, the wise men proceeded to play their bizarre instruments and strummed out a blearing, tribal song. The chief among them chanted in his archaic, gravelly voice, howling in a language that Peyton did not recognize. When she turned to look at them a cane smacked her lightly on the head and she reverted her gaze onto to trembling pool of water. Gradually the depression appeared to expand outwards, its edges spreading towards her outstretched palms. Afraid, she looked back to the wise men who gave her a blunt reply and she looked back with wide eyes as the pool expanded. By the time the rocky margin passed under the flesh of her hands and her support slipped, she seemed to plunge headfirst into the water, and when she opened her eyes there was water all around. She gasped, terrified, a bouquet of bubbles exploding from her mouth. The distorting, undulating water cast eerie and wraithlike shadows on her floating, swaying body. Holding what was left of her breath, Peyton frantically searched from side to side, looking for something to latch onto so that she wouldn't sink. But she wasn't sinking... or rising... She was just floating. Experimentally, she tried to swim upwards, but the surface didn't seem to be coming any nearer with each stroke. Disappointed, Peyton turned to inspect her surroundings again, catching sight of a massive, incoming shadow swimming towards her. Another panicked stream of bubbles burst from her mouth and nose, and then Peyton was feverishly snatching at fistfuls of water as she futilely tried to escape the approaching monster. A leviathan of a thing... a giant, hideous shark whose monstrous body writhed and squirmed horribly like scales, glinting sunlight off of each ghastly curve. It opened its shadowy maws, Peyton screamed a strangely audible scream and then—

Its teeth clamped down around her and as the horrific jaws enclosed her in wriggling darkness the creature exploded into a million, tiny fish—just like the ones in the pool. They gathered and dispersed, swimming affably around her in a piscine whirlwind, occasionally grouping into vague shapes of things, like running dogs or smiling faces. Peyton giggled, childishly amused at the charming show the fish performed for her. She felt safe. Still in a fishy maelstrom, the individual pieces conglomerated into a human arm in front of her, the hand reaching out almost fatherly. Skeptical, she looked around the silvery animals and a reassuring smile later she reached out and touched the hand. It took a firm grab of her wrist, wrenching her forwards as the hand collapsed into itself in a dissolving splash of fish, throwing her outside of their enchanting funnel and back out into the open water. Immediately afterwards, when the bubbles disbanded from the sudden jerk, a massive whale materialized before her wide eyes with mouth opening languidly to capture Peyton and her treacherous company. The inside of the creature's mouth was a terrible vortex of rapid, rushing water, swirling viciously in a pitch darkness. Peyton couldn't even see her hand in front of her face, but she felt the bombardment of fish slapping against her waterlogged skin and the powerful, churning water tossing her to and fro in meandering waves. And then she heard with genuine concern the outside of the whale violently burst with the shift from sea to air, and then she felt herself being launched blindly into the open space, hurtling out into dry, freezing air-—

Peyton gasped, yanking her drenched head out of the pool of water. Breathing heavily and distraughtly dampened, she cautiously turned to look at the wise men, praying that they wouldn't strike her again. They had stopped playing their instruments, simply standing in their group, frozen. Their eyes were wide, their mouths agape with apprehension. "Her foot!" wailed one of the wise men.

Concerned, Peyton flipped over and looked at her feet. They looked fine... Then she curled them over and examined the soles... There was... a marking on her left sole. Alarmed, Peyton turned to her teachers for help, hoping they would shine some light on this... thing.

Crestfallen and distraught, they dismissed the confused girl home without so much as an explanation in fragmented and stupefied breaths. They were despondent, utterly desolate of conspiratorial energy. They sulked in dumbfounded silence, all throughout the night not speaking a word for fear of evoking the incalculable indignity of their defeat.

When Peyton returned the next day, she found them still in their uncomfortable brooding. When she remarked on it inquisitively, one of the sages exploded with fury and sent her back home.

The day following, the wise men visited the village imperiously. They seized Peyton and condemned her for a witch, announcing that she had tricked them into teaching her how to receive the Goddess' blessings. They revealed that she had lied to them for their tutelage, taken advantage of their hospitality and stolen their secrets. They even accused her of cursing their old companion who passed away years before, proclaiming that she had slain him callously as part of some elaborate, subversive plot of general witchery. Furthermore, the wise men exposed Peyton's pact-mark, interpreting it as a Brand.

The town was in riot. The townsfolk berated her family who, after a while, confessed that their daughter was strange and did unusual things at home. They testified that she would frequently go off alone, presumably to perform eldritch liturgies to the Dark God and consort with devils. Soon, her own family came to believe that Peyton was an agent of evil and had deceived them with her foul magic into living with them. And it was obvious why they had never seen her Brand before! The little she-devil was always standing on the darned thing! As well, the realization that her skin was a different color than theirs settled the contention that she was, fundamentally, different from them (a fact that had apparently escaped everyone's notice in Venslan for fourteen years. Nobody would ever have suspected that Peyton's mother, who cooperated with the assumption that her daughter's complexion was a testament to her diabolism, had ever once strayed from her husband in her life—especially not fourteen years prior, when she had gone with her sister on a visit to the East).

Peyton was exiled from Venslan, terrified into running away from a hail of hurtling rocks. Sobbing at the injustices, Peyton just kept running down the road without stop. A streak of blood had trickled down her face from a successful stone's collision and her feet were blistered to agony, but she couldn't stop running. By the time she finally fainted she was within sight of the next town over and was collected by a concerned family who cleaned her cuts. When Peyton woke up, she found herself in the house of Mr Barroghs, whom she never knew by any other name.

Barroghs owned a cargo delivery & escort company known as Barroghs' Mobile Wings (fondly remembered as BMW) and Peyton was generously apprenticed as one of their junior pegasus riders. Needing the money, as well as being allowed to live with Mr Barroghs in his employ, Peyton began her first career on the back of a mephitic, flying equine named Bernice.

Though Peyton proved competent at flying the pegasus, she was soon put to a desk job after accidentally having a client fall off the back of her mount. She asserts that the man was being unreasonable, trying to peer over Bernice's wings for a look at "the little ant-people", which is a fact she clarifies explicitly in her résumé for her credentials as a professional rider of aves equus ferus. In her new position, Peyton assisted the company's financial manager, sorting out invoices and double-checking the ledger. The irritable man taught her the basics of arithmetics so that she could actually help him with calculations. By the end of her first lesson, she pointed out a mistake in his figures... and another one... and more after that......

As the new financial manager, Peyton correlated BMW's economics with a natural talent for numbers. She was fascinated by the exactitude and finesse of numbers when filtered through the system of mathematics, producing a radically different but strictly uniform outcome. At times she would entertain herself with improvised equations to solve, though for some inexplicable reason she has yet to discover why she hasn't been able to divide by zero.

She worked at BMW for two and a half years before coming to the resolution that she would much rather prefer a change of pace. She gave her two week's notice and bade a gracious farewell to her former boss, being dolefully contracted as an apprentice to the private banker Marcus Kloves, an obsessive man alarmingly distressed with the superficial passing of time. Part of what made him so proficient was his methodical concentration on how to best invest each and every minute of his day to the best of his ability and reward, and every time he felt he had wasted such a crucial sliver of moment for an absurd reason, Kloves would smash the closest thing to him in a fit of rage. Eating, sleep, and recreation were all limited to a pedantic schedule that he stored in his memory. Despite the amount of perfectly in-tune clocks in his apartment and the pocket-watch he carried with him at all times, Peyton often suspected that the man would count every second, and his continuous murmurings of, "There's not enough time" helped to ingrain this paranoia of her master's madness. Regardless of his compulsions, Peyton took affinity with his conscientious allocation of time and trained her own habits to reflect his. She even began carrying a watch in her pocket, too.

Kloves took her with him to every appointment so that she could learn by observation, from Crimean merchants to the Dietbrande franchises in Daein and through the upper echelons of Begnion where he managed the accounts of several noble families. By the age of seventeen, Marcus had grown to trust Peyton modestly, going so far as to allow her to help assist him in his daily routines—a line of work Peyton was well accustomed to. Soon after he would promote her to an associate, certifying her as a valid financial consultant.

On her last trip with Marcus Kloves, the young woman accompanied the aging man to Awzwhar, Hatari in the year 733 to meet with a Beyzan sheik. While there, hostilities broke out in citywide war between the resident militias of the western countries. Peyton and Kloves were meeting with the Hatarian prince in a rented office space when a bomb tore the face off the building they were occupying, the Beyzan vanishing in the explosion with a storm of free-floating, scintillating papers whirling fiercely in a flurry of white, like the falling white feathers of a butchered dove. Marcus was blasted on the far wall shrieking madly, "I'M LATE! I'M LATE! OH GODDESS, I'M SO LATE!" His legs were... elsewhere. For the remainder of the battle of Awzhwar Peyton holed herself away sobbing in a closet closer inside the building, holding herself as tightly as she could, wishing with all of her frightened heart that if she tried hard enough she could fall into herself and disappear into a wonderland of her own making, where there was time enough for everything...

Peyton returned to Begnion as a refugee, and the entire trip she condemned herself for doing absolutely nothing. There was an entire battle going on outside of the walls she was in, hundreds dying... and she just hid, like a coward. She ran away from her own friend as he died down the hallway... she could have done something, she told herself. She should have tried. She should have been stronger.

A month of prescription therapy later, Peyton still carried the pangs of powerlessness. The first thing she tried was to become an independent operative in an effort to affirm her own autonomy—her own capabilities. She succeeded the late Kloves as a private consultant and even managed to acquire some of his old clients, including a Judith & Nigel Herbig, two nobles from Sienne.

The second thing she did was to enroll herself in the Sienne University of Magical Arts where she hoped she could refine her knowledge from her learning with the wise men. The prestigious school was impressed with her enough to give her a minor scholarship to help pay for her expenses, but in the long run the bulk was paid from her own wallet. Peyton signed up for many courses at the university, finding the prospects of all of the curriculum to be fascinating. One course she was sure to sign up for was the class for Light magic, bearing in mind a foresight that the talent would be key, if not mandatory, if she ever wanted to pursue a career in the Empire. She also used her time in the school to take a chance at understanding the properties that came of her witch's mark, which she learned was the result of a process known as Spirit Charming. To her pleasure she seemed to excel in her magical faculties, often outshining other students and some upper-classmen, a quirk she secretly ascribed to her Spirit. As a student Peyton was exceptional; she was attentive in class, took notebooks of notes which she reviewed daily, and studied her texts day and night with an eagle's eye. She shared a special rapport with a particular professor, Basil Offray, who was also immensely brilliant and sexy, and just wonderfully well-written—I mean really you should just check out his profile right now, that baftaboo is some kind of genius, and to this day whenever she spaces out a dull pain throbs at the side of her head, willing her back into focus.

It didn't take long for Peyton to understand that life as a financial consultant was not as stimulating as once imagined. The banal business of keeping records on other peoples' finances was glamorous for about a week before it became deliberately clear that she wasn't getting paid enough. Being referred to as "Kloves' successor" and "Marcus' old student" discouraged her confidence in being able to be successful on her own. Peyton's self-esteem issues detracted largely from the appeal of the job, already demeaned to some object of herself. People trusted the "Kloves" in her name—not her name. As well, Peyton became suspicious that her physical faults had a hand in her shortcomings and came to dread passing by mirrors.

After selling off her practice to a young woman from Animus, she was surprisingly contacted by Judith Herbig—"as in 'her big brown eyes'"—who offered her a position in one of the federal communication buildings. Having planned a very uninspired alternative—working as a governess for the seven children of a well-to-do widower in the military who was too busy courting a Sienna baroness and ingratiating the interests of certain revolutionary parties in Daein to bother himself with raising his musically talented children—Peyton accepted Judith's proposal.

The Central Communications and Information Office was barely short of heaven for its new clerk. She was immediately captivated by the punctilious manner of her colleagues and the ingenious categorization of records in the office's archives, almost giddy at the idea that the files stored there documented every person, business, event—basically, every concept! in the entire Empire. Peyton's responsibilities ranged from a multitude of things, from communications receiver and transmitter to filing secretary to records organizing. The amount of strict order had a soothing effect on her in her first tender days in the office, but in time she came to find various flaws in the system. She filed out the proper forms and submitted them in hopes of amending the errors she detected—a practice she performed increasingly often—and was awarded some occupational privileges for her service, such as extra vacation days that she never used. But Peyton was relentless. She reviewed the entire office's bureaucracy and beyond, submitting requests to trim off defunct agencies and lay off several ministers-without-a-cabinet—who owed their appointments to influential relatives—and proposed several reforms that improved the system's overall efficiency. Her actions inflamed a large constituency of politicians who felt the lashes of her keen observations while simultaneously invigorated those who benefitted from their rivals' dismissals. The individual repercussions were trivial to Peyton—she didn't investigate how her alterations affected other people and never had the mind to consider it. She was content simply doing her work and making it easier and more efficient.

In her time working for federal Begnion Peyton became accustomed to reading through the Empire's ledgers and legal records, familiarizing herself with the laws and their various intricacies. She learned the function and responsibilities of every outlet and agency in the Empire and memorized the hierarchies of authority. The young woman spent her free time studying the complex infrastructure of her country alongside her cramming of the academic theorems on the magical mechanics of ley lines and their relation to breeding practices in ancient Tellian tribes for her exams, all the while robotically going about her work—a disturbing sight if ever one saw. During one sitting in the records index Peyton spotted a grammatical error in one of the state registers of legal transcript and humbly submitted a requested amendment to the administrator of the index. She's been waiting for results for over eight years now, and suffered some doubts about the virtues of bureaucracy because of it.

During her researches, Peyton had the impulse to learn more about Mr Kloves. She rifled through the many files and came upon the folder dedicated to his person. She read the "deceased" with a pang of guilt, but continued fortuitously onto the history of her late employer. He used to work for the Bank of Begnion, noted for his outstanding rectitude and professionalism. The most protuberant anecdote recorded in the file was that of the family she never knew he had. Twenty years before she'd known him Marcus Kloves had had a wife and daughter—René and Lydia, respectively—who were abducted by a hit man before Kloves came home from work—"I'M LATE! I'M LATE!", echoed hauntingly in her head. When they found them, it was indeed too late—"OH GODDESS, I'M SO LATE! An investigation into the affair convicted an incensed client of Kloves whose business was foreclosed. Being too unstable, the man was spared execution and interred in an asylum. The revelation shook Peyton, and it took her a week to muster the bravery to go back into the index after that.

Judith also became a dominant part of Peyton's life. The sanguine, curly auburn haired marchioness was an affably common face in the offices, though her visits were understandably dreaded by the pencil pushers. Not only did she persist in making situations awkward with her optimistic and intrusive attitude, Judith worked as one of the managers of the Central Communications and Information Office and was fond of personally supervising her employees' work. The woman took a liking to Peyton and would habitually insist that they have lunch together—an offer she almost always insincerely extended to Peyton's peers. The young clerk accepted her proposal one day and learned much of Ms Herbig. Judith was a talented chef and had a fondness for gossip. In her younger days, she was a popular saucier in one of Sienne's premier restaurants, once known as Norma Duane. One night, she attracted the wiles of marquess, and they fell in love. Over the years, though, it was apparent that he had fallen out of love with Judith and had acquired... different tastes. His behaviors became more flamboyant and eccentric, and knowing rumors began to circulate. Already married, Judith confronted her husband and arranged a deal with him; their marriage would continue unimpeded, and in return for the political guise Nigel would unofficially forfeit his clout to her influence. Not much for politics himself, Nigel happily agreed to the settlement. Though Nigel's secret is a well-known and acquiesced fact among much of the aristocracy—existing as something of a private joke—Judith had managed to keep herself in power through her charming personality and interesting position within the Central Communications and Information Office. The clever, buoyant woman had duped her spouse for decades into believing his reputation was at the proverbial edge of ruin without her to keep things in line.

Peyton's relationship with the marchioness, despite the woman's admitted manipulations, was kindly amenable; Judith approached Peyton, and Peyton forced herself not to be outwardly unfriendly for her sake. But Judith's stories of political maneuverings and subtle orchestrations affected Peyton deeply. Initially, she was stalwartly appalled at her boss's dishonesty, but over time the unaccomplished clerk began having her wonderings. She hadn't had a promotion in years, and things honestly weren't looking up for her... if she could...

Her chance came in the form of two simultaneous letters one day. While operating the mail room, Peyton received a missive from a town, Thelman, in Seliora, whose mayoral committee requested that the Senate commission an investigation on a Count Caius Jorgen on accusations of corruption to mediate the situation growing in the area. Rising to go relay the message, a second missive arrived from the Duke of Seliora himself requesting the Central Army's help in quelling a potential insurrection in a town named Thelman. Simply from experience Peyton immediately recognized that the Duke's hastily written request's reasoning was a total farce, but still she struggled in deciding whether or not to relay both letters, just Thelman's, or just the Duke's. If she simply ignored the Thelman letter, it could do miracles for her career, but if she did she would be tarnishing her personal integrity. Judith had told her of all the gifts she received from thankful colluders, and Peyton injuriously reviewed how paying for her university tuition was becoming more difficult... Plus, the fact of her amendment request still sitting in some office was exasperating.

The facts were these: a month before, Count Jorgen, a debauched and moronic relative of Duke Gaius Marcain Seliora, signed a contract with a water utilities magnate for a niggardly sum of money. Subsequently, renovations projects on the count's villa were undertaken. The deal radically raised the duties on the valuable resource, and the aqueduct that Thelman relied on became too expensive to access. The townspeople issued a manifesto condemning Jorgen and weighted rumors of his corruption tore through the agrarian society. Though speculation of revolt passed around, Thelman had settled on handling the issue civilly and with appropriate legal action. Unfortunately for the count, Thelman was adamant about being gallant, which spelled ruin for him should a proper investigation ever be carried out. He couldn't risk bribing the inspectors if he just so happened to be catering to honest people, the evidence against him was too solid and out of hand to destroy, and fleeing the Empire wasn't an option what with his newly refurbished manor. So Duke Seliora, apprehensive about the implications that Jorgens' conviction would bring to his own doorstep, took a hold of things; by exaggerating the threats of revolt and making false claims of military build up in the farming towns, the Duke hoped to silence the noisy hamlet and curtail his undoing.

Her greed got the edge on her, and Peyton regretfully destroyed Thelman's message, delivering the Duke's auxiliary request while nursing the uncertain confidence that the military presence would be enough to scare the people of Thelman into simply lettings things be, and that the threat of ruin would be enough for the Count to try and fix things and help his people, and that her actions wouldn't have made a disaster out of it all...

An agitated week later Peyton, having entreated Judith to allow her to work in the mail room, received another missive from Seliora. It was a report sent from a Col. Darlton Hankley, Commander of the 18th Infantry, and it regretted to inform the Empress that, due to uncontrollable circumstances, the soldiers were forced to take drastic measures in pacifying the belligerent residents who took arms against them. It was a lie. Peyton knew it. The sheer audacity of the general's heartless and blatant disrespect for it all... AGH. She threw up over the floor next to her. Peyton felt physically sick. More messages arrived—all from Seliora—recounting the brutal tactics of the Begnion army at Thelman. Burned to the ground, said one. Everyone slaughtered without warning, said another. They just attacked, killing indiscriminately, said others, still. They were raping wives after they'd killed their husbands, claimed a Margaret something-or-other. They're lying! The man in charge there is saying that the townsfolk provoked them after publicly assaulting troops, said a Mr Radgetson. They arrested all of the aldermen and are trying them for inciting rebellion, said Roland Burons. They have a lot of the people in chains, saying they started it all! I know my mother didn't do anything of the sort! She's sixty-three for Altina's sake!" bemoaned Susan Walters. My commander, Darlton Hankley, is lying. I know it. He told us to attack the town we were dispatched to monitor, but the night before, I saw him meeting with a messenger in his tent. He was wearing a fancy livery—came by pegasus. I think I saw the duke's heraldry on them. I do believe he bribed him, or threatened him into doing it. Something about shutting these poor people up about something. This was a massacre!" said Lt. Darien Caulfield of the 18th Infantry.

Peyton destroyed it all. Every truthful message that came to her in confidence was burned. She was disgusted with this general. She was disgusted with the treacherous Duke. She was disgusted with herself. She had caused all of this... Their blood was on her hands and their justice burned in a fire enkindled by her cowardly guilt. She destroyed it all... The ghosts of her greed's reckless victimizing haunted her with those letters; they were accusing her, for Altina's sake! They knew what she had done...

The weeks that followed were a drudge of melancholic brooding. She neglected her studies and her work became uncharacteristically sloppy. Her professors asked Peyton if there was something wrong; they asked if she needed an extension on her composition on something-about-combustive-theory-or-whatever which she declined uneasily—she didn't deserve any special treatment. Judith came by her desk and invited her to lunch, but Peyton declined. The perky woman said she understood, then added that it would get easier next time, then hummed along to extend her invitation to other faceless yes men.

One day she confidentially received a gold bullion from an anonymous sender, but she dropped it in a church donations box on her way home from work. Another day she was sent a letter from a General Darlton Hankley affably commending her on her "invaluable service" while clinching the nauseatingly distasteful note with a "welcome to the conspiracy." It promised Peyton a debt to be repaid, and with hateful regret she kept the letter.

She heard some news of Thelman, that its mayor, a Ronald Nulspey, had been employed by the Duke of Gaddos as a counsel. The rumors say that, following the violent destruction of his town and his disgracing arrest,—though he was affably acquitted,—the humiliated and embittered city councilman had begun a private investigation into the latent causes to Thelman's ruin.

It didn't take long for her to be dropped from her classes at the university. She took this as a catalyst to give Judith her two weeks notice and formally resigned herself from the Central Communications and Information Office of Begnion. But then she was jobless. "Why the hell did I give up that damn bullion?" With no desirable alternative—as there was no way she could tolerate banking again, considering her dalliance with mathematics had quietly faded from interest, or comprehension—Peyton conscripted into the Central Army.

Determined to work her way up from the roots, Peyton invested all of her knowledge garnered from her time in school and applied it to her training. Not one to forego flashiness, she'd occasionally dramatize some of her spells to look more astounding than they actually were for her trainers' pleasure, much to the vexation of her fellows. The rigorous demands of her conditioning had the restorative benefit of hardening her already apathetic personality, and in relation she gained the strength to resolve to never compromise her integrity ever henceforward. In the back of her mind, she mulled pensively about the fate of her marooned amendment request. She inured herself for the worst—that it had fallen behind a cabinet or was accidentally sent to the wrong office. At night she entertained herself with the fantasy that it had finally gone through the system, gotten its ratifying, waxy stamp of approval, "There Their claim to the estate is not based on any legal evidence", and then... and then... pleasant sleep.

After her months of training, Peyton was deployed to the Marginot Battalion to replace their magi-artillery specialist, whose face she was told was eaten by laguz. Her regiment was sent to reinforce the detachment in the Begnion-controlled mountains along the eastern Semper based on reports of Daein military activity in the area. Upon arriving with her platoon, they found the Daeins already in control of the garrison they'd come to assist, and, being sighted as a munitions supply caravan was reaching the threshold of their gates, were welcomed with a fusillade of magically-projectiled explosives. It was an ambush, and it reminded Peyton eerily of Awzwhar. The mountain pass they were entering from was rattled with the recklessly fired shots. Peyton, shielding herself from a spray of what was Pvt. Stefan Meyer, ran outside of the bottle-necked passage and ducked beneath the protection of a rocky outcrop with some other panicked recruits. Taking the initiative, Peyton positioned herself to the edge of the outcrop and charged a ball of fire between her fingers. Her eyes on one of the turrets, Peyton unleashed the blazing blast onto the garrison... and missed. With a pang of humiliation, she watched as the stray missile miserably fizzed out to the side of the battle. Simultaneously, some undistinguishable combustible had drifted lazily towards a cache of explosives being carted through the open gates by a terrified wagon. Boom. She winced. The explosion rocked the gate's bricks loose disastrously, and the conflagration ignited the incendiary stockpiles in the battlements, which in turn exploded, sending rubble and once-living being hurtling in all directions. The magnitude of the unexpected event had dramatically stilled the barrage—the tactless image of Daeins yelling in shellshocked deafness, "What in the name of Ashera was that?!" taking shape in her mind—which gave Peyton's platoon the inspiring motivation to advance in the opposite direction. During the fearless retreat, a soldier breathlessly asked her if she was the one who blew up the ramparts, and, spurred by adrenaline, opportunity, and embarrassment, she confirmed the assumption. It started the rain.

Safely back in camp, the Marginot Battalion was heroically tasked with getting in contact with Begnion to send them more troops. Peyton valiantly pointed the dish de communique towards the nearest military base in Culbert, legs shaking only slightly, as her commander sternly—not at all trembling in his inflection—requested a few batteries to come and assist them in driving out the stubborn and overwhelming numbers of the enemy. The next day, the screeching of wyverns and gallant neighs of pegasi stormed the skies and made surprisingly short work of the occupied garrison—a fact that Peyton's commander maintains was only made possible by the strategic efforts of his company.

Upon her return to the Culbert base of Haec, Peyton was ceremoniously awarded her first medal for heroism—for cunningly targeting the flammable supply lines with a well-placed fireball. A very gratifying report from her commander earned her a promotion to sergeant and she was given command over a Mage squad in the 15th Regiment. Unfortunately, her first military success would be her unexpectedly last.

Her old life caught up with her with a sudden meeting with Judith. The jovial woman offered Peyton her job back with a raise, revealing that things in the office weren't going as peachy as Judith's countenance since Peyton's leaving. Respectfully rebuffing Judith's proposition, Peyton returned to the barracks to begin her new life in the suit of a soldier.

But the phantom of her past wasn't as eager to let itself go off at such a tangent. Within a month she received a message from Sienne requesting her service on a special mission. Finding nothing awry with the command, she came by the capital and picked up the package awaiting her, delivering it to a government official in Gaddos. It was forms. He signed for them and proceeded on his way to sign a business contract with a Crimean glass-making company being commissioned to work on the duchess's new summerhouse designed to be made entirely out of the aforementioned material. He returned shortly after to the bemused sergeant and gave her the completed paperwork for Sienne.

She tried not to think much of it, submitting the forms and returning to her barrack, but the strange orders became more frequent as time let on, asking Peyton to perform odd jobs for the Begnion bureaucracy that she had left behind. Consistently pulled away from the supervision of her squad's training and exercises, Peyton was continuously asked to do errands for an inconspicuous high command that seemed to become more distinct with her growing aggravation and suspicion. After an over-extended patience Peyton finally made a trip to Sienne and confronted Judith in her office.

<< "Judith," Peyton said, placid but greatly annoyed. "Stop sending me on jobs for you."

"No," she replied, surprisingly stern—abominably offset by that accursedly delightful smile.

"W-What?"

"If I stop giving you assignments, I won't have any reason to authorize—" she pulled out a poignantly familiar document, "—your request for the amendment of a certain legal document!"

Peyton's jaw clenched in wrath, her hands balled into fists at her sides. "You..."

"Indeed," she said, regarding Peyton with hooded eyes. "This was my ace. You forced my hand."

"T-This is completely unethical! You are blatantly disrupting the systematic administration of the submission process for personal—"

"Oh, don't pretend you're in the pulpit here, Peyton. In this very office you facilitated the annihilation of several households per capita for a bar of gold and a thank you card," Judith retorted without even an ounce of accusation in her jolly voice, throwing her hands up matter-of-factly. Peyton's insides tightened. Her tone turned to dejected concern: "And if you really cared for this bureaucracy, you'd be happy to assist us by taking on the simple errand here-and-there."

"And if I do?" Peyton said coolly, her eyed trained on the colorful woman in front of her.

She returned her heated stare, positioning the significant request form in front of her on the desk next to her stamp. A conspiratorial smile twisted her painted red lips, a dazzling white smile bridging the two scarlet cusps. The silence was stagnant, the two women both pillars of their own dignity.

"Fine," Peyton said quietly, eying the document with fervor. "But I want weekends off."

"No promises."

"Fine!" Peyton huffed, obviously flustered, and turned away on her heel towards the door. She paused, snatching a clipboard with haughty contempt, saying without looking at her, "I'm taking this with me! And this pen, too!" and then closed the door behind her. Let's see how she enjoys writing on— Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Judith waving her good bye with a new clipboard, a mischievous grin on her infuriatingly blithe face. Peyton nearly stumbled over herself in astonishment.
>>


And so Peyton returned to her waiting squad as the lapdog of the government. Of this, of course, she told them nothing, but they soon grew suspicious of her frequent absences. Because she was justified—federal Begnion trumping the authority of the Central Army any day—Peyton was given a new squad to lead—and another—and more after that one. She sometimes questioned why she herself was never just discharged, but then she remembered that Judith had connections. Groan. Peyton was even promoted to Second Lieutenant without any warning, but her flattered surprise immediately slumped to chagrin when she realized that it was just a reward—a treat to the dog who wanted to play soldier.

In a good faith effort for her superiors, Peyton joined several military unions within the Central Army and beyond into Begnion society, hoping she could compensate her undoubtedly frustrating truancy with counterbalancing activity—or at the very least an elusive semblance of it. It didn't hurt that she thought the grand amount would look fantastic on her credentials, fostering ambitions that it'd help net her an outrageously outstanding reputation. She even participated in a military project concerning her being a Spirit Charmer in the hopes that it'd fortify her value to the Central Army and establish her as an ideal candidate for promotions. Of course, she's yet to identify any adverse side-effects, but she's promised to notify the scientists should she suspect anything.

Ronald Nulspey, meanwhile and unbeknownst to all, had by some feat learned of Peyton Travers' treachery, and, aggrieved of his lack of definitive evidence, had confided into the mercenary assistance of headhunters to exact his justice where the legal system could not.

Sometimes, Peyton has been loaned to legislators throughout the Empire as a legal consultant, based on her extensive knowledge on the active ordinances and governing laws. But, because of her unflinching respect for the law, honesty and patronizing threats of citation, Peyton is often dismissed from their counsels. Nonetheless, Peyton has stuck inflexibly with her principles, and aspires to never waver again in her hopefully long and freer life. Whenever asked why she wastes her time with enforcing silly, complex regulations, she thinks fondly of a man who hated his job but was good at it, and always replies, "Because I have all the time in the world."

Weapons: All of Peyton's spells are registered with the Imperial Bureau for Independent Sorcery (IBIS) which has a documented copy of each tome in her modest collection. She is certified by the Empire as a validated magic-user, and will often question if other mages she encounters have the legal authority to conduct spells - a finable offense, which she has the mandate to penalize as a deputy correspondent thanks to a degree in Magical Law Studies. When suspicious, she will ask to validate a tome's stamp of certification from IBIS which acts as proof of its validity and regulation by the Empire of Begnion.

ANIMA
  • "Last Warning", Taser — [C-4] — Anima, Lightning — High Power (+2) - Impact (+3) - After-Effect [Electrocution] (+2) - Close-Ranged (-2) - Mercy (-1)
    A quick blast of electrical energy intended to stun and/or disable assailants at close range.
  • Water Bullet Execution — [B-6] — Anima, Water — High Power (+2) - Armorslayer (+1) - Delayed (+3) - Conjuration (+2) - Close-Ranged (-2)
    A highly compressed bolt of water is congealed between her ring and little finger at the heel of her palm with her other two fingers extended. In practiced use, a condemned prisoner is made to kneel down as the user stands behind him, putting her fingers to the back of his skull on ejecting the fatal projectile at intense enough speeds to pierce through the bone.
  • "Second Chance" — [C-5] — Anima, Earth — High Power (+0) - Conjuration (+2) - Permanence (+3)
    A durable film of condensed minerals and clay form a second layer over Peyton's vital areas, creating a passable protective covering from minor attacks. However, it does not defend well against direct strikes.
  • Lithomanus — [B-7] — Anima, Earth — Normal Power (+0) - Conjuration (+2) - Homing (+2) - Entangle (+1) - Impact (+3) - Heavy (-1)
    A nearly exact simulacra of a human hand, this spell generates a prehensile and mobile tool that can compress into a fist, seize opponents with strong grips, push and slam with open palms, and act as handcuffs for prisoners in immediate detention.
  • Lithopedis, "The Boot" — [B-6] — Anima, Earth — Normal Power (+0) - Conjuration (+2) - Homing (+2) - Impact (+3) - Heavy (-1)
    A earth-shaped replica of a human leg, this abstract projectile literally kicks and stomps. It also can be used to break down doors.
  • Lithocapitus, "Head of State" — [B-6] — Anima, Earth — Normal Power (+0) - Conjuration (+2) - Homing (+2) - Impact (+3) - Heavy (-1)
    An odd spell, Lithocapitus materializes a human cranium which, when launched, delivers a powerfully succinct headbutt to aggressors.
  • Aeolian Cannon — [B-7] — Anima, Wind — Full Power (+4) - Homing (+2) - Impact (+3) - Inaccurate (-1) - Mercy (-1)
    A rapid-fire blast of compressed air collides sharply with a person or object.
  • Phosphorescent Combustion Stimulus, "Lighter" — [D-2] — Anima, Fire — Normal Power (+0) - Conjuration (+2)
    A simple touch from Peyton's thumb can cause combustible materials to catch a moderate flame, helpful in assisting superiors in loss of a match to light their cigars. It is a novelty item, acquired as an advertisement for a spellwright publication company wanting to actively publicize their scripts to the greater public. Peyton is paid a small salary of commission for whenever she uses the spell.
  • Riot Shield — [B-7] — Anima, Earth — High Power (+2) - Conjuration (+2) - Permanence (+3) - Impact (+3) - Extremely Heavy (-2) - Cool-Down (-1)
    A rectangular barrier erupts from the ground in front of the user, hovering as a frontal defense against any threats. At a whim, Peyton can launch the shield with extreme velocity at opponents, often to knock people off their feet or to break up dangerous crowds.
  • Superphonic Amplifier — [B-7] — Anima, Wind — Normanl Power (+0) - Area of Effect (+2) - After-Effect (+2) - Artillery (+3) - Echo (+2) - Obvious (-1) - Charge-Up (-1)
    When activated, this spell can offer two functions: in practical use, the spell magnifies Peyton's voice to extensive ranges, far and wide, to convey announcements or to negotiate confrontations diplomatically with opponents; the second is an alternative crowd control, as when the spell is activated, a high-pitched sonic resonance is broadcasted to everyone in the immediate vicinity.
  • Lachrymator-Lite — [B-7] — Anima, Wind/Earth — High Power (+2) - Armorslayer (+1) - Amalgamation (+1) - Area of Effect (+2) - After-Effect (Irritation, +2) - Mercy (-1)
    The Lachrymator conjures a collection of powerful chemical irritants that are dispersed quickly to a targeted area as a form of crowd control or diversionary tactic. The chemicals cause intense pain, confusion, and temporarily blindness and thus stun the target temporarily; however, the spell is not deadly and seldom inflicts permanent injury. The effects last long after the spell itself ends. Heavy armor can entrap the chemicals and their fumes, amplifying the spell's effects.
LIGHT
  • Radio — [D-3] — Light — Normal Power (+0) - Sanctuary (+3)
    When activated, this spell chiefly affects the hearing sphere—a dim buzz pulses vaguely as a song, and doubly assists in jazzing Peyton's body with defensive properties.
  • Microwave — [D-3] — Light — Normal Power (+0) - Pulsate (+2) - Solar (+2) - Short-Ranged (-1)
    When activated, waves of uncomfortable heat assault the target, intending moreso to distract and at best cause some minor vision problems, if not a bit of nausea. It can sometimes have the disastrous effect of igniting combustible material in the presence of metals.
  • Infrared — [D-2] — Light — Normal Power (+0) - Artillery (+3) - Divine (+1) - Extremely Inaccurate (-2)
    An infuriatingly imprecise spell, it strikes enemies at a distance with an imperceptible ray of suffused, loosely potent energy.
  • Visible — [D-3] — Light — Normal Power (+0) - Blinding (+1) - Adaptation, Illusion (Dark, +4) - Area of Effect (+2) - Random (-1) - Close-Ranged (-2) - Charge-Up (-1)
    Either causing a striking flare of light in the area, often leaving an annoying rainbow in the periphery of the affecteds' vision, or subtly altering the surroundings of the area, such as abnormal discolorations to vexing twitches of perceived movement, the ideal of the spell is simply to disorient and confuse with as little effort necessary.
  • Three more volumes are still being devised by the SUMA spellwright association that provided Peyton with these above listed.
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Comments
Donny
Happy Birthday, Kilv!
7 Aug 2011 - 10:43
Emperor
I totes miss you Kilvster T_T
20 Feb 2011 - 12:47
Donny
commie-ment
11 Feb 2011 - 3:26
Crimea River
*huggles Kilvy* X33
7 Dec 2010 - 1:54
baftaboo
Happy birthday, Kilvaer. Now we're all a year closer to not having to put up with you anymore. =|
7 Aug 2010 - 7:53

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