A recap of the roleplay start to Helitana, a lady and a solar.
The paths to Nexus are always busy. The immense city demands trade from all corners of creation and it comes by road and river all hours of the day and night. Yet, despite this constant use there is a legend of a tea house that can be found on the ways to Nexus.
It can be found besides a small river dock or at the curve of a road where a hill hides it from sight until the last moment. It is always shrouded in fog, whether weary travellers find it by the afternoon call of silver bells or by the light of the single paper lantern that hangs from it'seaves by night.
The building is made of beautiful white marble, adorned with deep mahogany wood to offset the brightness of the stone. Gold inlays adorn every surface, their craftsmanship exquisitely offset by the warm light thrown by the bankedfired and lanterns to be found throughout the building.
The place is never crowded, few people having the rare honour of passing through it's doors to enjoy the fare prepared by it's gleaming metal servants and elegant mortals. However, in recent months there has been more business; where once a mortal would be waited on alone in the empty building, now there can always be found a few guests in the main room and throughout the area..
Wherever you are in the building, one of your mortal servants comes to you and bows deeply. She's a young and beautiful woman, clad in flowing robes and made up beautifully. "My lady Helitana, there is a guest here who is asking for you personally." she says, trying to hide her interest and concern. Few people know the servants who live here, and even fewer know of your residence.
Helitana was in the backroom of the teahouse. Well, one of the backrooms. More precisely, the one where she could try and practice new blends, new checks, and quite possibly, new poisons... Though it wasn't what she worked on this time.
Turning as her worker came to her, she stood up. She was reasonably tall, roughly the height of her worker, except that she was wearing Okobos with something like four inches of height, while the owner of the place was barefoot. She was draped in clean, white garments wrapped harmoniously around her shape, had a relatively neutral expression, with a nice albeit a bit cold-looking face, and her hair were tied rather loosely, with the help of two pointy needles, some strands hanging long behind her back.
Smiling at the woman, she asked: "What kind of guest ?" looking at her in the eyes.
The private room is lined with several long tables set up with all those things that could be needed to prepare new blends of incense, textures of cosmetics or chemical effects on the body. Cupboards with ingredients line one wall and tools the other.
The girl, under your direct gaze, lets her gaze drop demurely and folds her hands together in a submissive manner as she answers, "My lady, I do not know. She is no merchant, coming in alone as she is. Nor is she a musician, unless perhaps she sings, for she brings nothing with her besides a small satchel and a long dagger at her side."
"Should I tell her that you are busy?" she adds after this summary. She remains still under your view, calm and well trained as she waits your decision.
Without much hesitation, the owner of the teahouse shook her head slowly, before sayong: "No, that won't be necessary. Just tell that person that I will be ready in the time she will need to enjoy this." Turning her back on her employee,Helitana gave her then a little cup, with some finely minced red-ish leaves. Precising a little, she told her: "The "other workers" do not know for sure yet, so remember this for me. Mildly hot water only, and, one small hourglass' time before serving. Get a small spoonful of it. And tell that this is a present from the direction of course. Will you ?"
Without waiting for the answer, so obvious it was in her mind, the solar then proceeded to walk further back in the room, and climbed a ladder, leading to a trapdoor, and directly into her personal room. There, she proceeded to arrange her looks a bit more, her hair particularily, and put on wooden sandals. She then proceeded to come down the stairway, at the time she assumed it took for someone to take the last sip of her tea, then marching slowly towards the person most likely to be the one.
Once close enough to that woman, she simply asked in a soft-spoken and polite tone: "Is this new blend fitting to your tastes, honorable patron ?"
As you hand the cup of tea leaves over, the young woman takes it carefully in both hands and bows to you, her robes moving gently with the motion. As you turn away, she bows her head and remains so until you have left the room.
As you enter the main room, there are a handful of guests at the tables dotting the area. Here and there, servants both magical and living discretely serve your patrons, clearing away cups and bringing more out as needed.
The tables were in two distinct sets. On one side of the room, the high tables, round in shapes, surrounded with sturdy yet confortable chairs, and, at the angles, a couch or two there and there. In the rest, square small tables were surrounded by serries of elaborate embrodied cushions. The motifs were either abstract, despicting a circle with a dot within it in golden thread, representing a single lantern in white thread, or, with a mix of both, showing a swan.
The only woman sitting by herself is young and relaxed, sitting at her table alone with her legs tucked to one side and leaning on one arm rather than cross-legged or on her knees. At her table is a small pot and cup, the cup empty but for a few dregs left in the bottom.
Her hair is thick and coloured like gold, worn in a tousled mess without decoration or binding. A lock hangs in front of her face while the rest is pushed back behind her ears. She wears a white vest that fits tightly to her slim curves and is tucked into leather leggings of deep scarlet which in turn are tucked into knee-high boots of steel reinforced black leather. Her forearms are protected by bracers of the same style, black leather set with metal. Besides her lies a long coat of the same rich material and colour as her leggings.
She is listening to the music with her eyes closed as you approach, a little smile of delight on her face. When you speak, though, she opens her eyes to reveal deep blue eyes, so dark as to almost be black, and turns her head to regard you without sitting up. Her gaze is relaxed, luxurious and her smile widens in warmth at seeing you. "It was deeply pleasing, honourable lady." she says, voice swift and just slightly accented.
Then I am glad" She remains standing up, not far from her. She gives her a nod.* "So. You wanted to speak to me ? Is that the kind of discussion that can be done here, or do you prefer we move on to a place with more privacy ?"
With a wry grin, the woman slides to her feet. The playful expression disappears as she assumes a serious posture and spreads her hands, palms up. "Lady Helitana, I am Last Ray, and I bid you greetings. I believe that what I have to say would best be shared just between us and would be grateful for an audience in private."
"Oh, I am no lady, Last Ray. Just a simple tea brewer." she said, with a smirk, as she then walked towards the stairway. Without a word, she climbed it, and pushed a double door, leading to a private salon. There was two tables, one, rectangular, in the middle, looking like a reunion table, strict, and the other, near a corner, large and low, with cushions all around. there was also a sofa, some paintings on the walls, and several bookshelves. Feeling that this would not be a mere chitchat, Helitana took place, in one of the chair of the long, high table, and pointed a chair not far from hers. "So, what is it you want to require from my humble self ?"
Pausing to kneel and take up her coat and the satchel revealed to by lying beneath it, she moves with a swift and light footed grace to follow after you. She sets the coat down on the nearest surface besides the door along with her satchel, though she tarries long enough to take a scrollcase from the latter. Sliding into the seat you indicated, she gives a brief laugh and shakes her head, hair swinging in the motion. "I can address you as no less, for t'would be insult to your position both as mistress of this house and of Creation." She meets your eyes with her own, searching and intent for a moment, even as her fingers deftly open the scroll case and draw from it a sheet of creamy parchment, expensive and well crafted. Laying this upon the table, she lets just her fingertips pin it in place.
Remaining unphased, as much as possible; "You will have, whoever you are, to force yourself in public. I guess now we are here, you could call me any way you want in the limits of the respect. Though that shouldn't be a problem... Anyway." *leans towards the parchment, looking at its contents.
"Perhaps once we are better acquainted you will grant me, again the right to call you friend and Helitana both." she says, smile playful and just a little mischevious. She rolls the sheet towards you a fraction, letting it unfold partly as a result. When fully revealed, the central image on the sheet is that of your caste, crafted of a golden ink that glistens as if still wet. In elegant script down the right hand side is your name and a series of titles. "I have come to help you and yours, lady Helitana. Clouds are gathering and change the world has not seen since the Great Contagion are coming. I fear that without you, those changes will be even less kind than that great disaster."
"If your words are most likely clear to you, Last Ray, they are but riddles to me..." *She proceeded to cup her chin thoughtfuly, looking attentively at the contents of the parchment. "Whoever wrote this seems quite confident in the abilities I have. I am not quite versed in my own nature though, so it is more... Confusing than helpful for now. But, I am pretty sure you will help me clarify it. First things first. Who wrote this ?" *She took back a straighter stance on her seat, looking at Last Ray.
Leaving the scroll for your attentions, Last Ray lifts her hand to brush her hair back. She appears relaxed and at ease, as though sharing company in a home or the company of friends. Looking at some of the paintings, she turns the question aside for a moment by asking, "These are very beautiful. Were they here when you took up residence or have you since had them brought here?"
After your answer, she looks back to you as her smile fades and she looks more serious again. "Though it may seem all the world is against you, there are those who still know the right of things. That was written by two people, one a god of Yu Shan and the other a..." and here she pauses a moment, "friend. I cannot say more without endangering either."
"I brought them here. Some remains of the decoration from... My home before this one. There were tapestries too, but they seemed too fancy for that room..." Looking at them for a moment, and then, back to the scroll. "I see. So it appears I have some allies from times long gone... Good. Because it seems the task ahead is a great one. One I cannot simply let slip, even with my own agenda. But, two questions remain. First, where do you stand, Last Ray ? And second, where should I start, if you have an idea ?" She leaves a finger drifting over the golden ink.
When you touch the ink, there is a brief but noticeable shimmer as of a light shone across it. For her part, the woman opposite you gives a shrug of one shoulder as she sits on the edge of the seat of her chair. "The world is like a flower, once in full bloom and now withering. I want to see it in all it's glory, the way it was and should be." At your last question, though, she lifts her hands from the table and spreads them. "Do as you are... your very nature demands the world respond." She laughs softly and then holds up the scrollcase. "For my part, though... I will try and find others like you."
"I see..." A sentence seemingly heavy with sense. "Do you wish for me to accompany you ? That might help the reunion." she says, rolling the scroll back.
She seems pleased and surprised by the offer, but nontheless shakes her head. "I can move swiftly and without trace, but I could not extend the same safety to you, lady Helitana. I do thank you for the offer, but instead I would ask your leave to direct them here, to this wonderful establishment that offers both safety and a central location."
"I see... Whoever could be operating against myself couldn't find it here, unless they looked specificaly for me, or you, right ? But fine. I will make preparations to welcome other people. To recognize they are the ones without... Flashing." *she rubs her forehead briefly* "Tell them to say to me that "The heat of the tea can melt the winter's snow"
After a brief and infectious laugh, Last Ray nods. "I will pass that along." After this introduction, she sits and talks with you for a little while about more simple things, teas, alcohols and spices from the surrounding area and further afield. One thing seems clear from her experiences, she has travelled far.