The peace that formerly reigned in Terra Nova has eroded, now little more than a memory. War ravages the continent. Disputes divide kingdoms; ideals divide families. The quest for power consumes absolutely and indiscriminately. None are immune to its allure.
Who will rise and who will fall? Only time—and ambition—will tell.
Established the "Tag Staff" discord channel for helping update the site.
2 month character creation hold for all existing members begins 6/5/2023.
We wanted to give a huge shoutout to Bugstomper! We have always promoted the idea of going with the flow of a plot, not taking things personally OOC, and moving forward as we adapt to new IC happenings. When her character, Rhedara, was removed from the military and then lost an important romance plot, Bugstomper took it all in graceful strides and showed us how things are meant to unfold in such circumstances. Thank you Bugstomper for your example and general awesomeness!
The first week was the hardest. Evander, not a creature capable of deep feeling, retreated inward. He became a phantom, haunting the halls of the Blackwood estate with very little direction in his work. But, after the meeting confirming Cyrus’s disappearance, Evander put his machine-like mind to work.
Cyrus was gone. Perhaps he would return, but grieving his absence was illogical. It was a distraction that did not serve the purposes of the Blackwood family. So, Evander tucked the matter away and focused on other things.
One of those things was the continued preservation of the Blackwood legacy. Evander resolved that the best way to maintain order was to consolidate power. Though he was a Blackwood through and through, his siblings were slowly becoming the only ones he trusted. Anyone else was too risky.
There were, however, a few exceptions.
Evander summoned Calanthe to his study, a room in the lower levels of the Blackwood estate, adjacent to his workshop. His workshop was not a place for children, which is what he considered Calanthe to be. His projects were secret and often unsavory and were best kept on a need-to-know basis.
It was unusual for someone who had not earned the name Blackwood to be allowed entry into the estate, but these were indeed extraordinary times. Evander wasn’t about to risk having a conversation of any importance outside the halls of his own home.
Post by Calanthe Beckett on May 19, 2022 14:14:54 GMT -5
Calanthe had thrown herself into anything and everything. Extra time studying, asking the ambassador to train her further, and making combat training a little more important. She needed to be ready to fight. Ready to rescue. Ready to find her father. There were lots of enchantments about finding people, some more complicated than others, often involving blood which was sort of a sticking point.
She had been in the middle of some training exercises when a slave came at the request of her uncle to bring her to the Blackwood estate. His office had always been strictly off limits when visiting the estate, her father had made that very clear. So while she still got the hebejebes from Evander at times, her curiosity was over-powering. He was the only one possibly smarter than her father, and maybe he had plans.
Strolling up to the door the slave stopped at she took a breath and knocked. "Uncle Vander?"
Evander lifted his eyes from the scroll on his desk when Calanthe knocked. If he was capable of feeling such a thing, Evander would feel nervous. He and Calanthe had never interacted on a one-on-one basis. Perhaps conversations in the midst of family affairs, but never anything like this. But, there was a first time for everything.
“Enter,” Evander replied, standing. If Calanthe did enter, Evander would take a stab at smiling, though it ended up being nothing more than a small upturn in his lips devoid of warmth. “Please, have a seat.”
Post by Calanthe Beckett on May 31, 2022 22:30:52 GMT -5
At her uncle's response Calanthe took a deep breath, pushing herself forward with the door. Her eyes immediately darted all over the forbidden place, curios as ever. Her and Pietro had often made guesses, mostly jokes, but they had all been a bit too grand and imaginative to land.
As she approached the desk her eyes finally landed on her uncle, the attempt of a reassuring look something that was impossible not to smile at. But as she sat the bright look started to fade, not entirely though. "Thank you. Was there something you needed?" She figured it was important, and probably something to do with her father? But she could never get a read on her uncle.
The question sat in the air between them a long moment before Evander spoke. During that time, he looked at Calanthe, studying her with a blank-eyed stare. When he did speak, his tone was equally as flat. He had tried to inject as much care into it as he could, but it simply wasn’t his way.
“You do not know me, Calanthe, nor I, you. I must admit, I did not see my being your uncle to be relevant to you or me. But now I know I was wrong.” Evander’s expression was one of clinical detachment as he folded his hands on the desk. “You and I lost Cryus in a way that neither Calliope nor Keion will ever understand. For them, he was a brother. For you and I, he was an anchor. Now, without him, you and I must navigate these uncharted waters.”
Grief. Grief on a stormy sea without a captain.
There was another pause, one of contemplation, before Evander continued. “It is my understanding that you have shown interest in following your aunt's footsteps. I believe that is a waste of your potential. To that end, I’d like to take you on as my apprentice.”
Evander waited, still watching with dark, flat eyes.
Post by Calanthe Beckett on Jun 3, 2022 21:34:34 GMT -5
Playing with the edge of her sleeve, Calanthe listened to what Uncle Evander had to say. She had never understood the relationship between her father and uncle. Then again there was a lot of things she clearly didn't know. Like how her father had been off in Neveremere for ages, and there was clearly so much more they didn't even talk about during the meeting. But she wanted to know. It had been gnawing at her ever since the meeting, wanting to become the Blackwood she always wanted to be.
As her Uncle paused Calanthe swallowed the lump in her throat, looking directly at her uncle. "How long will it take?" The question hung in the air with too much meaning to be specific. When would the pit in her stomach fade? Would it ever feel like the ground wasn't ripped out from under you when you woke up? Could you ever truly move on when there wasn't a body?
Still his next words surprised her. With anyone else she might have thought it was a joke, or just some way to make her feel better. But that wasn't Uncle Evander, he wouldn't do things like that. "Why me?" But as the words left her mouth more questions popped into her head. "And what would I really be apprenticing anyways?" She'd always looked up to her aunt, and she wasn't sold, but as usual, she was interested. Curious and full of questions.
I don’t know. Words that Evander seldom thought and uttered less. There were few answers that couldn’t be pulled from the sophisticated machinery of his mind. But in this matter, he found himself quite without bearing. Evander tried once again for softness but to little success. Perhaps his performance would get better with practice.
“You are your father’s daughter,” Evander said matter-of-factly as if that statement alone were enough to answer whatever lingering doubts the girl might have. The second question was a little more complicated, one that Evander took a long moment to turn over before he responded.
Evander didn’t think of his silences as long or uncomfortable - though, in fact, they were. Cyrus has become used to them over the years, and perhaps Calanthe would too.
Without answering, Evander reached into his desk and pulled out a long rolled piece of parchment. He lay it flat on the desk and invited Calanthe to look. What she would see was a meticulously and artfully detailed blueprint for a small metal spider, the size of a tick. The drawing indicated that it would be able to crawl into the ear of any person and allow the possessor of the paired earpiece to eavesdrop on their conversations.
"This is a preliminary design." Evander crossed his arms and sat back in his chair. "What are its shortcomings?"
He had no expectation that Calanthe would answer his question with anything specific, he was simply curious.
Post by Calanthe Beckett on Jun 9, 2022 18:36:01 GMT -5
Calanthe was a bit surprised to hear those words from her uncle. But it probably wasn't all that surprising considering it was a question without much of an answer. Theoretical in nature and certainly not practical by any means, but that didn't mean she wanted the answer any less. Needed it really, especially to focus.
Nodding her head slowly she smiled, not so much at the attempt at a smile but his words. She didn't spend a lot of time around him, and he wasn't quite as terrifying as she had imagined now that they were sitting here taking. Maybe it was because he was trying to comfort her, but either way she wasn't shifting uncomfortably in her chair anymore. Her shoulders had straightened, and she looked more liker herself, and she hoped like her father.
As Evander passed over the piece of parchment, Calanthe accepted it with a curious look. It was extremely interesting, and the design work itself was meticulous. The fact that this was just a preliminary design showed she would have a lot to learn under her uncle. Not that she was making any decisions yet, but her curiosity was more the piqued her interest.
And so she studied it as asked. Calanthe wondered what the range would be like, couldn't be that much considering the simplicity of the design. Could it latch onto the ear, or could it be easily dislodged. All thoughts that flitted through her head as her eyes roved the design. Looking up at her uncle she had to start somewhere she supposed. "While the size is small as to not be seen it can also make it more destructible. The range, as well would need some improvement which would be easier if it was larger. Small is good, but too small can make it useless." She looked up, not with a questioning look but a serious one, she loved this, learning and trying had always been her favorite thing.
Evander’s lip pulled into a smile. It was slight, almost non-existent, but for him, he might as well have been beaming. He was a man of loyalty, not affection. Even his connection to his siblings had never been one of warmth. But with Calanthe, maybe he could try to pick up where Cyrus left off; a last act of service to his lost brother.
“Those were my questions as well. When I showed these plans to your father, I expected the same. But you know what he said?” Evander’s fingers ran across the designs as if the secret to Cyrus’s disappearance lay somewhere between the lines, “He said that words are only a fraction of the picture. Without the other senses, you’re looking at the world through a pinhole.” His fingers lingered for a moment before he folded them together on the desk, looking at Calanthe.
“I need a second set of eyes. I don’t see things the way others do, which can be both a blessing and a curse.” Evander tilted back in his chair. “And in exchange, I’ll teach you what I know. So long as you can keep secret the what and how.”
Evander’s work was not like that of other enchanters. His methods were severe, but the results were impeccable.
Post by Calanthe Beckett on Jun 16, 2022 20:19:47 GMT -5
Listening to her uncle, her smile turned melancholy. Of course her uncle had come up with the bigger picture. It was always something she had admired, and clearly she wasn't anywhere close yet. But hearing her uncle had thought of the same things as her? Now that was interesting although maybe only unexpected because she didn't know him all that well. "Right, only one sense. He really knows so much." Present tense. She refused to accept he was gone, no body meant there was still a chance.
Calanthe looked at her uncle, taking in everything he was telling her. Considering how much she enjoyed watching and observing it seemed like a simple ask. It made sense as well though, clearly him and her father had been close. And now he needed someone else, and while she couldn't hope to be her father anytime soon, she could do what Evander asked.
"I'll be your eyes, and I can keep anything a secret. Especially if it means gaining knowledge." She wasn't totally sure what she would be learning, or even if it was a good idea. But she wanted to know more, had to know more. Especially if she was ever going to become the woman she wanted to be. "When do we start?"
The use of the present tense was noted and appreciated. Cyrus wasn’t a lost cause - not yet. Evander believed in his brother enough to give him the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps this was all part of some plan none of them were clever enough to uncover. Evander didn’t believe it but trying made Cyrus’s loss easier to bear.
“Now,” Evander said, standing. Unceremoniously, he’d lead them to his workshop. When he lay his hand against it, it opened of its own accord. He went inside, beckoning Calanthe to follow. What Calanthe would see was a well-organized but packed workshop, full of inventions and experiments - here, there, and everywhere. Some were instruments with unspeakable uses, ones developed for interrogations of the most gruesome kind. Others were for surveillance, others for war, and others still with purposes Evander had yet to determine.
There was one thing, however, that would draw Calanthe’s attention above all else. A slave lay on the table, draped with a cloth, barely breathing.
Post by Calanthe Beckett on Jun 22, 2022 21:02:35 GMT -5
Calanthe's eyes widened in excitement at the mention of starting right away. Part of her had hoped that would be the answer, while another was slightly worried about what she was getting into. Her father had made it clear that her uncles work place was out of bounds. She wasn't to go anywhere near the place, and here she was going further in.
Following Evander into the the workshop she held her breath while she looked around. It was exciting, her eyes flew over the workshop, covering every inch left to right. Her eyes skipped over the slave for a second before she did a double-take and looked with curiosity, taking a few steps forward before looking at Evander with a raised eyebrow.
"Will this be part of the training?" Her voice had an edge of hopefulness, but mostly interest. She knew that enchantments could be stronger with human souls, and that was incredibly fascinating to think about. Not once did a thought about if the loss of a human life would be worth it crossed her mind. They were slaves of Arynn Frey for a reason.
Evander was, so far, hopeful. He followed her to the table, looking down at the slave without feeling, certainly without remorse. The rhythmic rise and fall of the slave’s chest was the only clue that it was still alive; a vessel to be emptied.
“Law and order are what separates Arynn Frey from the chaos of other kingdoms. But as with all things, there are exceptions to be made.” Evander turned to his shelf, taking up an empty crystal and holding it out to Calanthe. “Blackwoods are the exception. So, the sooner you can embrace that you are exceptional, the better.”
Post by Calanthe Beckett on Jun 26, 2022 19:56:18 GMT -5
Completing her walk to the table with her uncle beside her, Calanthe stared down at the slave on the table. It was fascinating really, especially since every instructor warned against it. Well more than just warned. Forbidden in fact, but she wasn't about to get into those semantics now. Not when she could make her enchantments more powerful.
As her Uncle spoke she nodded along, and then took the crystal. Looking between the crystal, her uncle and the slave she only paused a second before gripped it tightly in her hand. "Tell me how then. I assume it's different?" There had to be rather specific work due to its complicated nature? And the young future Blackwood was intent on starting the learning process now.
Evander took up a scroll from the shelf and slid it towards Calanthe. It would be familiar, yet strange: a twist on the soul-harvesting enchantments she was used to.
“Not terribly different,” Evander replied dryly, watching Calanthe with interest, “It just requires a little more might than others.” He nodded towards the body, encouraging Calanthe on. He had to know what she was made of. Evander wasn’t going to waste his time on a little girl afraid of getting her hands dirty.