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A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani)

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1 A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 9:52 pm

[Continued from Sneaky Shopping.]

Eleint 8th, night.

Ka'Ri had promised to meet Sithani back at Veshti Selmer's house in order to change for their evening outing. She has just enough time after shopping with Ellowyn to dash back to the Sun District, ignoring the looks she receives from the upper-crust inhabitants in their carriages as she hurries along the streets on foot in her clerk's disguise.

When she reaches the stately manor house, however, she's startled to find the mistress of the home--Veshti Selmer--waiting for her in entrance hall. "Oh, good, there you are," the red-headed elven lady says, her voice the firm command of one accustomed to having her way. "I told Sunrise I needed to take your measurements for the party. Come, dear, this way please."
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2 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:16 pm

Ka'Ri is confused. Veshti is acting like they had established plans, but this had not been the plan for this evening. In fact, she had been very careful to be specific about when she was free. Typical nob, acting like my time belongs to her by right. Still, wouldn't be right to be rude after she had been so willing to designate her space for meetings and didn't seem to be upset about her using the bathroom earlier to prepare.


"Um... I believe we had scheduled that for the 10th, ma'am. I had previous plans for this evening with a compatriot who was to meet me here."
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3 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:20 pm

"Your compatriot isn't here yet," Veshti points out reasonably, "and this won't take long. The sooner it's over and done, the less we leave up to chance. There's also the fact that Luther sent a message urging me to move up the date," she adds with a sigh, turning to climb the stairs. "Something about having found the missing Xiloscient and wanting to bring him along to the party in order to keep Immeral on his toes. Which I approve of in theory, but in practice means I have to amend all my invitations."
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4 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:24 pm

"Oh," Ka'Ri says, her voice slightly tinged with relief. It was an emergency change of plans due to real events and not a nob's whim. That made her feel a lot better.

"Absolutely, happy to help. When were we moving it up to, tomorrow?" If so, she'd have to move around the mission with Glen, but based on what Veshti was saying, that might be best pushed back anyways so she'd get a chance to get a head's up on who to focus on when tracking.
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5 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 10:33 pm

"That's his hope," she agrees. "We'll have to see. I can't work miracles, even when it's for a good cause. I need to get you fitted and we must go over your persona as my newest 'ward'. If everything goes swimmingly--and if I pay the seamstress thrice-rates--then we might be able to make it on the 9th."

She sighs and leads Ka'Ri into a suite of lavish rooms which must be her own personal lodgings here in the manor. "Alright, dear, turn and let me see you in the light. How old are you? Just over one hundred, I should guess? Have you family in town?"
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6 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:01 pm

Ka'Ri follows along, but balks heavily at Veshti's question. She knows what's true to her heart, but she suspects that's not what Veshti means. She stays mute a while longer as dark thoughts roll through her.

She tries to keep her breath steady. This was a truth she would have happily kept locked up forever, but it was one she likely needed lest she not have asked like that.

Ka'Ri's voice is shaky and choked as she responds as deliberately and calmly as she can manage. "I am Af Osprem, the crew of the Osprem are my family. I have a larger name I was born to in the city, but trust me that they would not recognize me for who I am. They... never did. Besides, I can disguise my hair and body as needed, so I am very much able to be whatever and whoever you need."
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7 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:08 pm

Veshti raises a single arch eyebrow. "Families are always complicated," she agrees, and something in her tone suggests a deeper understanding than Ka'Ri might expect from this woman.

Sighing, she draws a measuring line from her desk and begins taking Ka'Ri's numbers, working with more experience than Ka'Ri would have expected from someone born to wealth. "Normally I would try to keep you as close to your natural features as possible," Veshti says, "as you're going to have enough lies to keep straight already. But Luther seems to think you may have reason to desire Immeral not remember your face?"
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8 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:13 pm

Ka'Ri lets out a laugh. "Ma'am, I am a pirate, I am very good at lies and playing pretend. The other things I am good at is why I have been selected to come along on this particular mission. Believe me, a drunken borefest for nobs is not my idea of a good time..."

Ka'Ri realizes with a start what she just implied. "Er... I'm sorry, I meant no offense. I'm sure your nob balls are much more exciting than most."
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9 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:19 pm

Veshti can't help but snort as she continues working. "I can't tell if you're aware that word means 'penis', dear," she says with a freshly arched eyebrow and a look of amusement. "I urge you never to use it again, unless you happen to be fond of such things. I myself am not. Raise your arms, please."
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10 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:24 pm

Ka'Ri dwells on Veshti's observation. Eh, a fitting enough meaning for a nob, they truly were the unwanted dicks of the city.

She raises her arms in obedience. Part of her flashes back to endless fittings her parents put her through for suit after suit she'd loathed. It was no more comfortable but at least there was a fancy dress at the end of it. If she was allowed to keep it afterwards, that would be a fair few coin to add to the survival fund.
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11 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Thu Aug 09, 2018 11:34 pm

Veshti continues working in relaxed silence, pausing only to jot down numbers on a sheet nearby. She frowns once when measuring Ka'Ri about the bust, but doesn't say anything until she finishes. Then she moves to a plush couch and gestures for Ka'Ri to join her--there is room on the couch beside her or in a chair opposite a low tea table where two glasses sit with a decanter of watered wine.

"Midnight blue, I think," she decides, studying Ka'Ri's complexion. "If you're going to be sneaking around, we'll want a color that works in your favor. Midnight blue dress, black hair, dark eyes. Dancing slippers for your feet; you'll feel every blade of grass, I'm sorry to say, but there's nothing quieter when you're trying not to make a noise. Speaking of, I'll have the seamstress use a silk that won't rustle. None of that crinkly nonsense for a sneak job."

Taking a sip of wine, she hesitates. "Your bust is padded, isn't it, dear? You're not my first ward who wasn't naturally endowed. Luther asked me to send over a gender validation belt for the Xiloscient boy to try on, so I went through my wardrobe earlier. I have more than one, as it turns out."
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12 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:25 pm

I heard that wrong, I must have heard that wrong. Ka'Ri blinks for a second as her brain tries to second-guess Veshti's words, but no amount of effort changed facts and her hearing was too good to disbelieve the words.

The second thing that went through her was a brief flash of rage. She had agonized over the decision to let go of her belt. It tormented her in every mirrored reflection and act of dressing. But it had been necessary to save the crew. She knew that.

And to get it in the first place... her crew had given up a good chunk of a haul to purchase it. It was a major event and here this rich nob had a closet full of them as if they were extra fish to be handed out before they rot.

It was a cold unfairness of the world. But that anger she knew was just the last spark of her dignity, her protection against the vulnerability that was so much stronger and powerful and brushed away those feeble emotions like scooners in a storm.

Ka'Ri opened her mouth to speak, but tears were the only thing to come out of her. She tried to make sounds but there was nothing. This was a thing she had mourned, assumed to be lost forever, a distant memory of a past that had died with the plague, never to be seen again. Proof that she was slowly dying in the last place she ever wanted to be.

And now here it was being dangled in front of her. Even if it was for one night, the whims of a rich woman, flush off the ill-gotten gains of a city who would never see the products of their labor, it was something her body and mind craved more than life itself.

She messily mouthed out an attempt at thanks, before slumping to her knees and breaking. Letting out the barred emotions she never wanted to dump on anyone.
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13 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:33 pm

Veshti quietly and swiftly sets her glass aside and moves to kneel beside and put her arms around the younger woman, letting her cry and breathe without rushing her.

"I understand," she murmurs, holding the girl. "Not as well as some, but better than you might think." She laughs softly, bitterness tracing her voice. "My parents didn't see me, either. But to the nine hells with that, hmm?" She tips Ka'Ri's chin up and smiles at her. "We make our own paths."
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14 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:38 pm

It takes a bit for Ka'Ri to get back a hold of herself. It feels good to cry and let things out. Karl was right about that after all.

When she's able to speak without tripping over her words into sobs, she responds slowly and with genuine acclaim. "I suppose we do. I don't know how I could thank you for being willing to loan me that. Even if it's only for a night, I can't say how much that means to me. To have that feeling back..."
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15 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Fri Aug 10, 2018 8:44 pm

Veshti smiles and one eyebrow lifts very slightly. "Why would I need back an extra belt?" she asks in a gentle tone. "You can have it, dear, if you want it. Provided," she adds, her tone turning a touch sharper and more matronly, "you don't sell it."

Studying Ka'Ri's face, she smiles ruefully. "Believe it or not, I remember what it's like to be desperate and hungry," she murmurs in a wry tone. "If it comes to that, come see me first and we'll work something out. Deal?"
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16 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sat Aug 11, 2018 2:39 pm

You can have it.

The words echo in Ka'Ri's rattled psyche. She pinched herself surreptitiously to confirm she hadn't slipped into some vivid trance when she hadn't been paying attention.

She wanted to scream yes, to promise whatever to go back to no longer hating herself every time she caught her eye in the mirror, but a deeper shame overpowered her.

Was it right to let herself have such a luxury when her crewmates were still fighting for life? Didn't she owe them her sacrifice for all they had done for her growing up? Even if they didn't ask... even if Captain Caroline wouldn't have wanted her to... even if...

Ka'Ri looked back at Veshti, her face full of emotion and her struggle to keep it under control. Who would it serve to deny yourself this? Your other belt is probably long gone. And the crew gave up so much to give you it. Your sacrifice is still real even if a nob with more money than is reasonable is willing to indulge in the charities such people were drawn to.

Though, based on Veshti's words, she might have to review her previous reading of her as a nob, as it seemed she had had her experiences of the street and reality as well.

Who does it serve?


Would Karl, Captain Caroline, or Toph really want her to pass up something she wanted more than anything? Even if they were sick?

But the money. We could support them so long on this.


Yeah, but was that really as pressing as it was? Like, yes, the rents were high, but she had already turned over the majority of her advance to the crew and that alone had been a windfall big enough to sustain them months. And what Veshti was offering? A chance to work for a nob client who actually understood what it meant to be poor? It was a good deal for a thief, something at least worth thinking about.

And she seemed keen enough to know if she showed up to a future meeting without her belt, which could put Thimb, or rather everyone in a lot of danger and a loss of a potential safe place to plot.

You can't.


A last vestige of her guilt crashed against her hull as she steadied herself and sailed true. Above all these things, she didn't know if she had the heart to let another belt slip through her fingers. Not after remembering how awful life had been without it.

"I would not sell it," she promised to Veshti and there was truth to that statement. She did not think she could bear to sell another one... trade it for her old one maybe if Qiao had been daft enough to hold onto it out of sentimentality, but no, she didn't think she could bear to sell it, not again.

"And I'll keep your future job offer in mind. I'm currently engaged, but once this mission is over, I may have need for a certain type of employment again."

"I... thank you," she said after it all, but it still felt inadequate after such a large gesture. Veshti was owed something else. Something worth more than money. Her trust.

"I was born to the Llellewyns. I was their... I was their son and heir and seen only in terms of my utility as such. I do... I do not care to use that name or title again however." She clammed up, another wave of emotion crashing into her, but she hoped Veshti would understand the purpose and meaning of this gesture. And how hard it was for Ka'Ri to give it.
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17 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sat Aug 11, 2018 4:22 pm

Something in the sharp lines of the woman's face softens. "The Llellewyns. I do not know them, except from afar, but have never held them in high opinion," she says, giving Ka'Ri one more gentle squeeze.

Straightening, she helps Ka'Ri to stand and brushes her hair back from her face. "I was born in forests far to the northwest, into a community where women are property and men are tyrants. I escaped as soon as I was able and found my way to Brilight where I worked as a courtesan--first on the streets, then in the brothels, and then as a kept woman for one of the richest men in town. Everything I own, everything you see here, I earned on my back." Her smile turns wry. "In case you're the sort to be bothered by that--but I hope you will not be. Come, dear."

Leading her to the bedroom, she gestures to a thin satin belt which lies on the bed next to an identical one. "This is one of the more recent models, designed to be worn under the clothes next to the skin. It's light and comfortable and shouldn't restrain your movements. I'll leave you to change and then we'll take your measurements again."
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18 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sat Aug 11, 2018 8:34 pm

CW: Eating disorder? Description of body parts, dysphoria

Ka'Ri stared at the belt for a long time. It was thinner than her old belt, almost to the point of worrying she could rip it (she would definitely have to ask Veshti about its adaptability to a hard living lifestyle, but she had no doubt that Veshti was correct about it being more comfortable than her last belt.

She looked around the room. It was fancy, designed to emulate the stylings of a nob, but looking at it more deeply, she could see the intentional artifice to it, the knowledge that it was as much of a joke as it needed to be. It made her feel more comfortable.

What made her feel less comfortable was the giant mirrors resting in the room. In them, she could see every imperfection, every sign of a boyhood she spent her life running away from, exaggerated in horrific detail. And now she was going to get naked in front of them.

She steeled herself, shut her eyes and removed her clothes. The feeling of the air on her skin was alienating, awful. She took three deep breaths and opened her eyes. The sight that greeted her was... odd. She hated that body so often in the mirror, but fully nude, there was something else there.

It was skinny... too skinny. Her ribs were far too pronounced. There were the parts that she hated, but they seemed... alien. Like they didn't belong to her at all. And in a way they didn't. She had said goodbye to this body a long time before but had never given it a proper funeral. She decided then and there to alter her plans for this evening. To say goodbye to this hard-worn stranger once and for all.

She took the belt and tied it in the old familiar way around her waist. And through it she felt her old body returned. Her facial features softening, rounding, her adam's apple retreating, her breasts growing back into their old familiar shape, and that unwanted accoutrement receding away.

There I am, hello again, she thought to the mirror, watching tears fall down her reflection's face. She stood different, happier, comfortable, still lacking the confidence of her cis peers, but notably there.

She rubbed her eyes until the figure stopped swimming. She had mourned this beautiful self, assumed she was lost at sea forever, but that would never be true again.

She exhaled, made a promise to herself to stop letting herself skip so many meals and redressed. Ready to face Veshti again.

She never thought she'd be able to think of a person in a house like this as anything other than a nob, but there had been a shift in her thinking. She couldn't make nob and Veshti meet again. She wasn't quite family, but she was someone to be respected. A dockfriend, perhaps.

Whatever it was, she was grateful for this gift and this self returned.

She pushed open the doors, and on this self was a genuine full smile.
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19 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sat Aug 11, 2018 10:40 pm

Veshti looks up from her desk where she is writing on lush, expensive paper--invitations for the party, no doubt, or instructions for the seamstress--and smiles at Ka'Ri. "Ready?" she asks, reaching for her measuring tape again. She doesn't say more than that, but her companionable silence is comfortable rather than strained; the woman does not seem to be one of more words than she feels is necessary.
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20 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:42 am

"Definitely," Ka'Ri replied, stepping back up to the measuring spot. "Sorry for the delays," she added with a cheeky edge. Veshti had earned a lot of loyalty tonight, not that she'd say all that up front. She'd get time to demonstrate it later.
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21 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:48 am

Veshti grins and begins to work again, jotting down numbers as before. "Well, we've got colors decided," she says as she works. "Now let's talk cover story. I'm thinking very strongly about making you a distant cousin from Jewelness, whose parents have sent on a trial run as my newest ward. That way, gods forfend, if you are caught doing anything untoward, I can just banish you back to your parents and we never need to use that identity again."

She shakes her head. "I should hope that anything you're caught doing won't be drastic enough that legal remedies would need pursuing but even if you were, Jewelness extradition is so tedious that simply sending you home would be easier than going through the courts. Provided you don't stab a man or anything drastic, dear."
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22 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sun Aug 12, 2018 12:57 am

"Drat, there goes my dinner plans," she says with intentional dead-pan.

With a more serious air, she continues. "That makes sense, though I certainly intend not to get caught. Do you know much about the layout of the place or the security arrangements?"

(OOC, also, what would Ka'Ri know of Jewelness social conventions)
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23 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sun Aug 12, 2018 2:53 pm

[OOC: Probably not a lot, if she hasn't been there recently and doesn't keep up on noble traditions and manners--which I'm assuming she doesn't, given her contempt for nobles in general. Veshti can and will bring her up to speed, but we may handwave some of that so I don't have to make up a lot of Miss Manners minutiae.]

"Luther sent over the drawings which were filed with the city when permits were issued to build the house," Veshti says, moving to show her several large dusty blueprints of the first and second floors. "These are clearly bedrooms, which means these are the rooms which will most likely have been purposed as a study, or a music room, or the like. Several places to try, I'm afraid, but better than stumbling around at random."

"As for security," she adds, shaking her head. "No, I don't know what to expect. It would be strange for him to keep guards posted within the house, but some people do anyway. I think you're more likely to run into a servant, however, and you won't have a good reason for wandering the second floor opening doors."
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24 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sun Aug 12, 2018 3:28 pm

"Ah, perfect."

Ka'Ri scans over the documents committing them to memory, reconstructing out of the flat floor layouts, a 3D approximation of the estate and possible entryways and movement points. She would of course have to fill in with light levels when she was there, and of course there was the possibility of secret rooms and all the other weird nob shit people got to, but it was a very solid base to go off of.

"So I'm going to guess we make a grand entrance, glad hand, and I can slip off at some point and go rattling drawers and dodging the infuriatingly underpaid. What's the time crunch we are looking at?"
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25 Re: A Fitting Question (Ka'Ri, Sithani) on Sun Aug 12, 2018 6:52 pm

Veshti taps her fingers thoughtfully. "Sunrise can probably sing as long as we need her to," she points out, "and the party doesn't need to end quickly. The bigger limitation, I think, will be how long you can plausibly be 'lost' looking for the bathroom."

Then she blinks and laughs, a wicked gleam in her eye. "How would you feel, my dear niece, about shamelessly screwing the help?" she asks with a giggle. "There was that one elven man in your group who had a nice face. What was his name? I am absolutely certain I have a butler's uniform that will fit him. Can he move quietly, do you think?"
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