Author Topic: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors  (Read 1320 times)

Smoke and Mirrors

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Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« on: June 02, 2021, 04:27:53 PM »

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Stella Seifert
Mistress of Misdirection, Lady of Léger de Main, the Marvelous Magicienne
b. 752 - d. 777

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2021, 05:14:04 PM »
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The number 'seven' was a lucky number for most people, but not for me.

It was on my seventh birthday that my mother passed away. She was a dreamer, and she encouraged me to be a dreamer.

"Dream big, Stella. Reach for the stars, Stella."

My father had his dreams crushed by his father, back when he was just a boy. That meant, since he wasn't the sort to remarry and I was his only child, my own dreams were trampled underfoot.

I dreamt of leaving Ludendorf behind, of escaping this miserable country. No more snow, no more rain, no more mud. No more greys, blacks, and brown. I wanted to escape to a world of color and imagination, a place where my child-like sense of fascination and curiosity could be cultivated and thrive. It was foolishness.

My father had a low tolerance for foolishness. He was a serious man, a man of austere rigidity. He made clocks; more specifically, pocket-watches. It showed. He was obsessed with time, obsessed with punctuality - others' punctuality and his own. If he could work out my own heartbeat to be as though a metronome, with each pulse to be as though a marching soldier taking one foot in front of the other in perfect synchronicity? Well, he would.

Overtime, I gave up the idea of escaping this snowy, open air prison that I found myself in. I did, however, make certain to rattle the invisible bars on occasion. Maybe I would cop an apple from that domineering shrew Ursula, perhaps I would slip my hand into the Ol' Man Ludwig's coat - not to take anything valuable, but just to see if he noticed me doing it. I did get caught every now and again, but that was part of the point: I wanted my father's attention, to have him know I was rebelling against him, in however small a fashion.

I did get it, in the end. He wanted to get elected to the Ludendorf's town council, the Schultebott, but my reputation as a troublemaker ultimately stained his own. He was, naturally, furious with me. Usually, the abuse he heaped upon me was merely verbal, but this being a special occasion...  well, suffice it to say, he needed to buy himself a new cane the following day.

He came up with a rather ingenious plan for how to deal with me, though. He intended to turn me into someone's housewife. Of course, I put on a rather dazzling show for each of my would-be husbands, causing them to believe that I wasn't worth the trouble. Soon, I had developed a reputation for being not only a troublemaker, but as a lunatic or an ill-tempered virago, take your pick.

Eventually, of course, I gave ground in some ways. Over the years of having it hammered into my head time and again that I was the daughter of a watchmaker, I took up the trade myself. Much to my surprise, I got good at it. I became quite adept when it came to tinkering and machinery in general, and some small part of me came to enjoy figuring out how things worked. I'd take them apart, look over the parts that made up the whole, and put them back together. Desperate for a change of scenery from the dull routine I had come to know and loathe in Ludendorf, I elected to accompany some trappers in a trip up the Sleeping Beast.

What fascinated me were the traps and how they worked. Beaver traps, bear traps, large traps, small traps; they were all unique puzzles, waiting to be solved. I reached for the bait they left inside a bear trap... and with lightning-quick reflexes, I grabbed the bait before its jaws closed shut around my hand. The trappers I was with saw what I had did and were utterly baffled. "Why, by the Great Clockwork, would I do something so stupid and place myself in such great risk?!", they exclaimed.

They didn't let me accompany them on any future trips. They told my father and, naturally, he gave me a harsh reprimand. Neither my father nor the trappers could ever understand why I did it... but I hope that you can.

It was in that moment that Stella Seifert was born again.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2021, 11:26:47 PM by Smoke and Mirrors »

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #2 on: June 03, 2021, 01:47:55 PM »
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He had set up a small booth in the middle of the town square. He was an older man; he certainly didn't seem like much. He caught my eye, however, because neither he nor that little booth he constructed belonged in this town. They didn't even belong in this country. He shuffled a deck, his eye catching mine as figures move past, either paying him no heed or curling their lips to sneer.

"Come here, girl, let me show you a trick."

I humored the man, deciding to indulge in this little distraction whilst he cut the deck. It was, after all, a departure from the miserable rote that had repeated itself for years upon years.

"I am going to deal out cards, and you tell me when I should stop."

I watch him hawkishly, letting him deal out eight cards.

"Stop."

The Jack of Diamonds.


"Good, remember that card and slip it anywhere within the deck."

I was not about to make it easy for him; I slipped it in near to the bottom.

Another cut of the deck. A strip, still another cut. A riffle. My eyes do not leave his hands.

The man wears a smirk as he produces a card - it is the Jack of Diamonds.


"Is this your card?"

It was a puzzle just like any other, one that I simply had to have the answer to.

"How did you do that?"


"A magician doesn't give away his secrets. He doesn't ever reveal how the trick is performed."

"I want to know."

"Well, I am not telling you. It takes away the mystique and the mystery surrounding the trick; once you know how it's done, it ceases to be magical."

"I'll give you two hundred gluttons if you tell me. I cannot imagine you've had many people impressed with what you're doing, here in Ludendorf. I'll be the most money you'll have made all day. Just tell me how it's done."

A pause. A sigh.


"Fine, then. I'll teach you how to force a card. You see, you thought you had control over which card you were picking. I was dealing out cards and I told you to say 'stop'. I did not let you deal, however. Instead, I granted you the illusion of choice. You did not choose the Jack of Diamonds - I did. You likely did not even realize that I cut the deck as you approached."

"What about the shuffling?"

"What about it?"

He moved much slower with his hands, then, cutting the deck again. Stripping it once more. Another riffle. At this point, I realized his finger was slid part-way into the deck, keeping track of the card's place within it at all times. He noticed that I caught on to what he was doing, and he smiled.

"Teach me another."


"I don't think so."

"I can make it worth your while."

"No, I believe I am finished here..."

He moved around, seeming as though preparing to pack up his little booth.

"Come on, it isn't as though you do real magic, it's all just tricks. Why won't you teach me?"


"You stupid girl. You're just like the rest of your idiotic countrymen with their heads in the sand. They're not all just tricks. Magic is real..."

"If it's real, then show me..."

"I told you, I'm finished."

"Another two hundred gluttons."

"You don't have that mu-..."

"I do. Now show me."

"... Not here."

He urged me into follow him up into his room at the Breaking Wave. What he showed me, then, defied explanation. I sought a reasonable rationale for what I was seeing, and found none. This was one puzzle that I could not solve, and the fact that I could not solve it ate away at me like a cancer. With this man's departure from Ludendorf came my own.

I did not even bother to leave a note for my father, telling him that I left.

The great vanishing act.




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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #3 on: June 09, 2021, 09:01:18 PM »
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I've learned a lot in my travels with Vennard. The two most important things I've learned, of course, is never to trust what you see and to misdirect and deceive what others would see.

Let's talk a bit about the first thing.

Throughout the Core, we are raised to believe that honesty is always the best policy. We are raised to believe that, so we foolishly offer our trust to those whom we believe were raised the same way. We are conditioned to trust our fellow man, to take their words at face-value, to believe they are honest and fair in their dealings. Even we skeptically-minded Lamordians are susceptible to this, especially when believing trickery is afoot runs counter to our sensibilities. After all, every learned and rational mind in my homeland would routinely parrot that "the simplest explanation is typically the correct one" and act accordingly.

We do not easily fall for superstition; however, that does not mean we do not fall victim to cheats, swindlers, and dishonest men. On the contrary, our inability to accept that that perhaps there isn't a ready explanation for everything and that we maybe haven't all the answers turns us into a bunch of rubes, in certain situations.

There are people out there who will take advantage of you, if they're given the chance. To them, you're just another mark, another meal ticket. A certain 'medium' we encountered in Mordent comes to mind. She would organize 'séances' to try and get wealthy merchants back in touch with their dead relatives, cynically taking advantage of their pain and grief to make money. To do it for entertainment's sake was one thing, to exploit others' tragedy was something entirely different and it filled me with revulsion. I decided to attend one of these 'séances' of hers, one that I knew would be well-attended.

I was worried I might not get called upon, but towards the end, I got lucky.

"You there, with the black hair and the feathered hat! Come on up."

I did as directed. Lights flicker as she lets her hands rest just above an utterly mundane crystal ball.

"I sense.. great pain, in your past. Great loss."

A pretty standard technique when performing a cold reading. Who hasn't known great pain or loss, in some form or fashion? What does that even mean? The answer is largely interpretive and the person you're reading, in their desperation, will usually be more than eager to fill in the blanks if it means they'll receive a chance at closure. I lied and told her that my father passed away.

"Yes.. yes, I can see him.. he tells me.. he tells me that his chest hurts..."

That certainly seems rather specific... but it's not. The chest can mean something wrong with the lungs or the heart. A host of maladies prey upon either one of those two things. One of our neighbors, a man who was a physician, happened to tell me that once.

"He tells me.. he tells me he misses his daughter so much.. but also tells me that he loves you. He loves you dearly."

Now I had her right where I wanted her.

"Where was he buried?"

"Sorry... ?"

"It is a relatively simple question. If you've a direct link with the afterlife, it should prove no issue for you to ask him."

"I-.. I'm sorry, it seems my connection to the beyond is starting to fade..."

"My father's not dead. He's quite alive, and you are a fraud and a cheat, taking advantage of grieving widows and bereaving men. You should be ashamed of yourself."

Murmurs were heard amidst the audience; my wrist was snatched by Vennard, and he led me off the stage around the same time a small mob climbed on. Suddenly, boos and jeers were heard as the 'medium' bolted. A self-satisfied smile of smugness played on my lips. It didn't leave until long after we left the sleepy country of Mordent behind.


« Last Edit: June 25, 2021, 05:16:38 AM by Smoke and Mirrors »

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2021, 06:53:59 PM »
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Why would a magician ever need to know about pneumatic systems? Let's just say that a number of your favorite magic tricks do not involve any magic at all; they do, however, require considerable knowledge of engineering. No, I am not going to tell you which ones. I will give you a hint, however: they're usually the ones involving large props.

It was through the development of these props that I managed to create a modest improvement to a rather dated weapon, though one that still sees use throughout much of the Core: the crossbow. An exhausting and tedious action - that is, the turning of a crank to cock the crossbow and ready it to fire - has been reduced to a simple button-press. In spite of this, it fires with a draw-weight of eighty pounds.

Don't worry, my little novelty is unlikely to replace the state-of-the-art firearms manufactured in my homeland and elsewhere. Furthermore, I am not an inventor.

I am a magician.

~ ✠ ~


I saw the medium again in my dreams. The same one I called a fraud when we were doing shows in Mordent. Was I wrong in the assertion I had made? Was she truly gifted and I just did not see it?

... or maybe this is merely my own vivid imagination running wild, inventing and creating terrors from nothing? Seeing phantoms and ghosts from the shadows of full coatracks?

The medium cursed my name and told me in a spite-filled voice that my future was carved in stone. I asked her what she meant by that; my voice was full of practiced skepticism, but there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach, my gut finding itself tied up in knots from which there was no easy escape.

She led me to a headstone with my name on it; the year of my death etched into its cold, grey surface. Next year.

The grave was dug, though deeper than it or any grave ever needed to be.

I was shoved by an unseen force into it. Before I could even collect myself and attempt to climb out, dirt was being shoveled on top of me. First by only one, but more joined in. I began to choke; I tried to look for something I could grab onto, but every time I tilted my head upwards, another shovel-full of dirt was poured over me. Every time I tried to fumble blindly for a rock or a root that I could grasp, it failed to support my weight.

THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS THERE IS NO ESCAPE FROM THIS


Panic overtook me. I cried out for help. I cried out for someone to come and save me. I begged those attempting to bury me alive to stop, bargaining piteously for my life.

Nothing but silence met me. In time, all I could do was suffocate and then wake up from my night terror, buried underneath a layer of sweat and residual fear. I tried to comfort myself, tried to assure myself that it was all just a dream. I tried to tell myself that none of it was real. To this very moment, I am unsure if what I told myself was the truth or but a white lie not dissimilar from the many I tell the masses day after day.
 

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #5 on: July 01, 2021, 08:53:59 AM »
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Enter the Skeptic (also sometimes known as the Cynic), stage left. She monologues before her captive audience of one, coldly commenting on the improbability of all I have seen and borne witness to, here in Barovia. Vampires. Werewolves. Specters and ghosts and shadows. These are creatures of folklore, without any real basis in reality. If not that, they are figments of another’s imagination, carefully crafted illusions made to dance to some unseen puppeteers’ tune.

The way she saw things, you would not believe the average bystander if they told you about all these fictions, so why would you believe the words of others, even if they are your friends or people you trust? As for what you think you saw with your own two eyes? Well, you should know better than to trust those by now, Stella, don’t you agree?

This place is pulling tricks on you, letting your imagination run too wild. It needs to be reined in. Just because you know what is possible, just because you have glanced beyond the veil, does not mean that ALL things are possible. Rein that wild imagination in, for the sake of your own sanity.

Exit the Skeptic, stage left. Enter the Dreamer, stage right.



Like her sister, she gives a soliloquy. She urges me to accept what I have seen, to recognize that it is as real as anything else. If magic is real, it follows logically that other supernatural entities are real. Perhaps they can be explained in time, but for now they are what they are. There is no weakness to be had in making this concession, but there is a danger to be had in not making it.

It is not as though you are not wrong in suspecting that a ghost running amok might involve a man behind the curtain. Your talents allow you to see a side to things that others might overlook. Why wouldn’t a man with the knowledge you possess perhaps masquerade as a creature of the night for power’s sake, to wield fear as a cudgel over an already overly superstitious people? It’s something to consider, and yet…

You should also consider the possibility that it is a werewolf, that it is a vampire. It’s foolish to deny what is standing right in front of you, and yet you are doing exactly that because the thought of these things actually being real, being ever-present, terrifies you and rightfully so. You wish to retreat to a world where these are but fictions and fable, but that’s not the world we live in, Stella. That’s not the world YOU live in.

You need to gird yourself. You need to be prepared for when you may stand against these things. That creature in the sewers was certainly no fiction. You felt its teeth in your shoulderblade, you heard it tear through sinew and bone. It wasn’t just some oversized rat.

IT TALKED. IT WORE CLOTHES.

Do not delude yourself, Stella. Listen to the Skeptic sometimes, but also listen to me. It was by following me that you are who you are today. If it weren’t for me, you’d still be making watches.

Exit the Dreamer, stage right. Darkness falls upon the stage, and then the curtains are drawn. A third presence made itself known, but this one did not speak. It did not know how to, but it also did not need to. It was instinct, fight-or-flight. My heart started pounding, and my body became wholly electric.

I awoke from my dreams, panting and shaking once again.

« Last Edit: July 01, 2021, 09:43:08 PM by Smoke and Mirrors »

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2021, 07:09:11 AM »
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I close my eyes and I find myself in a dense jungle. The sounds of monkeys howling and almost-certainly poisonous frogs ribbiting fills the air. I do not know how I have a machete, but I do, and I use it to cut away the thick brush and vines from my path. I begin to hear a low hiss from behind me, and then a sibilant voice.

"Well, don't you look ssssssimply delicioussssssssz."

I turn around sharply and see a massive snake, an anaconda. Its scales were a curious green tinged with blue, with large flecks of gold scattered throughout. Paralyzed with fear, the machete I held fell right out of my grasp onto the ground. There is no time to pick it back up. The Skeptic and the Dreamer were elsewhere; all that I heard were the voices of the basal ganglia and the adrenal gland. Both were screaming at me to get out of there.

It was too late. Its tail curled around my leg and I quickly found it pulled out from under me. I could feel myself being dragged backwards.


"Going ssssssssomewhere?"

I try to grasp onto a thick root, but it is wet and my hands slide right off. I am dragged further back. It releases my leg, though only for a moment as it slithers around me and moves to constrict me entirely.

"Nervoussssssz? I thought you were a great escape artisszt. This should be eassssssy for you."

He is right. It should be. I work to try and wriggle free of the creature's mass, but it continues to hold me fast. No matter what I do, I cannot slip out of its vise-like grip on me.

"What'ssssz wrong? Can't perform under pressssssssure?"

I am made furious by the snake's continuous mocking and I redouble my efforts. I try to create leverage against my captor and yet time and again, it proves insufficient. I feel my intense pain in my chest as the humongous serpent squeezes itself around my torso, likely breaking at least a few ribs of mine in the process.

Its tail wraps around my head, smothering me. The corners of my eyes grow dark. My face turns blue. I cannot struggle any longer, I lack any and all energy to fight back. Why does this snake's scales feel like wool?

As the darkness closes in and threatens to swallow me whole, I hear the snake's voice one last time, cutting through the void like a knife.


"Dissssssappointing. I expected more of a fight from you. A sssssssshame. I sssssssuppose you weren't half as good asz you thought. Couldn't find Vennard, couldn't ssssssave your friend. Couldn't even esssssscape when it mattered most, could you? You faker. You fraud."

An old crone can be heard cackling cruelly, off in the distance. I am roused by this, my body once again covered in all the tell-tale marks of distress and terror.



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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2021, 09:23:20 AM »
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Port-a-Lucine, a city full of glitz and glamour, of loquacious and long-form lies.

I am exactly where I want to be.

I am finally in a place that feels like “home”.

It is far from perfect, of course. A few people took umbrage with how I dressed in public, or made claims that others would take umbrage; hardly matters which, honestly. Sure, they’re what I wear when performing, but I am always performing! It’s fine, really. Once I am famous here, I can run through the street stark naked if I want.

Paradoxically, Labelle seemed to think my outfit too tame. I might need to show some décolletage and some leg. Hopefully it’s enough. I need everything surrounding this performance tomorrow evening to go perfectly and without any hitches. Will this other girl have what it takes? Hard to say, but I have a good feeling about her. Several good feelings, in fact.

Speaking of “good feelings”, I wish Dieter were here. Do I miss him, specifically? Not particularly, but I do miss all the drugs he snuck away with from his father’s apothecary. He was quite the chemist himself, mixing up all manner of exciting concoctions for me to try.

I need me a new chemist.



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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #8 on: August 28, 2021, 07:07:48 AM »
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Dear Father,

I'm certain that word has reached you by now, concerning where I've been all this time and what I've been doing. I wish you could see me now. I wish you could come to one of my shows here in Port-a-Lucine. Not because I want you to see how far I've come and be proud of me. I know you won't be. I know you'll hate me for who and what I've become and try to see me transformed back into the meek and servile daughter you once knew. I know you'll try and convince me to come back towards the workshop and toil for you as I once did.

I want to see here because I want you to see what I've managed to become without you. I want you to see how successful I've become, I want you to hear the applause and cries of adulation that I receive with every show. I want you to meet my stage assistant, with whom I have become smitten with. I want you to see a fraction of the world I've managed to unlock, a world that you would have scoffed at and considered frivolity and nonsense.

I want you to know that the family's legacy lies with me now, and not with your wretched clocks.

~ Stella Seifert


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It was necessary.

Was it, though? Think of how much you two have been through together.

He'll kill again. At this point, he has next to nothing to lose.

Pulling the trigger made you just like him.

Not true. I am trying to save lives.

If you were actually trying to save lives, you would have involved yourself in this far earlier. Instead, you chose not to act. You chose not to intervene back when this could have been stopped.

It's easier to see everything clearly, in hindsight. What matters is I'm trying to do something now.

Doing what, exactly?

I don't know.

Your vanishing act didn't work, and because of that, because you are reminded that it did not work, you feel guilty... and so that's why you're trying to 'do something'. It's all performative. It's all a show.

Shut up! Just... shut up!



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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2021, 11:51:16 AM »
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It is high time I scoured the resources that I have available to me. Not just for his sake, but for my own benefit. The more powerful I become, the greater my understanding of the many mysteries that surround and envelope us, the more I'll be able to help people. The tome I was given will serve as a tremendous resource in the fight ahead of us, but there will be a multitude of other threats that I shall surely need to contend with in both the near and distant future.

I must see myself properly armed.

Going to start first with "Sources de Puissance", author unknown.



"[...] Passing into the Near Ethereal, or the "Other Side" as it is commonly known in countries such as Mordent, can prove a frightening experience to the uninitiated. Many point towards the resonance produced by spirits of various strengths upon the Near Ethereal as evidence of the peril to be found in the leap from our world to this coterminous one, but Hazlani scholars write of creatures known as 'ghost-eaters', bipedal blue or purple-skinned reptilian creatures with three mandibles near its maw.

To make the journey and not run the risk of being trapped on the Near Ethereal permanently, one must prepare the following spell components: an ounce of ground bocan eye, a mushroom native to the forsaken lands of Forlorn, a vial full of ectoplasm, and a silver key with a thread tied to the end of it. With these components, the door will open and it will stay open [...] "




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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #10 on: September 05, 2021, 11:15:14 AM »



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How she behaved unnerved me far more than I was willing to let on. Was I gazing into the future, this morning? Was I looking at who I would one day become? Would it leave just as strong a mark upon me? Will there come a day where I am asked about the battle soon to come and the mere recollection of it all sees me made distraught?

All the answers I get only succeed in producing more questions from me. How can I call myself learned, how can I call myself powerful, when I remain ignorant about so much? There seems to be so little that I adequately grasp and understand. It feel like but a child again.

Even so, I press onwards... perhaps towards my doom, and yet if I choose not to act, I will feel forever a coward who shied away from doing what she knew was right, because of the risk involved.


"[...] as I pen the final page of this treatise, I feel a great weariness settle across my shoulders. It has taken far greater effort to create than any of my previous works, yet much less has been achieved. I feel empty. Still, I must believe that if not for my tragic error, the battle with Drigor would have gone differently. It is the only comfort I have as I stand over the raw earth of my friends' graves [...] "


Perhaps she is right. She and her compatriots failed. Dr. van Richten and his friends failed. Why, then, in my hubris, do I think that I can somehow succeed where they did not?




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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2021, 08:19:29 AM »
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I cannot get that lifeless, empty stare of hers out of my head. It seemed accusatory to me. You did this.

I did this.

I slurped down my coffee, yet it did nothing to smother the guilt that tied my guts in knots. If anything, the knots tightened themselves and I felt my anxiety compound upon it.

I retreat from the café, leaving a half-empty cup of coffee, and make my way unseen into the city’s neglected bowels, into an abandoned home smelling of rot and broken dreams. I produce a vial of crimson liquid from my coat, removing the stopper and guzzling its contents. I lose myself for a time in that blissful, sedated feeling and in the pleasant visions that play before my eyes. I was the one in need of a distraction now, I was the one needing to be fooled.

What all has transpired of late has weighed heavily on me, the death of the drug addict most of all, but in time? All would be made right. The pain and guilt would be washed away, replaced instead with its warmth and the visions.

Needle will mend me...



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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #12 on: September 19, 2021, 08:25:35 AM »
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It was his face. I so desperately wanted to believe it was really him. I wanted to place my trust in him, to stay and catch up, to believe that I hadn't failed him.

How did it know about Vennard? How did it know what he looked like? Why did it let me go?

What designs could it possibly have that would involve me?

I am anxious and afraid. I long for that peppery taste to touch my lips again and for me to be claimed by oblivion and be allowed to rest there, if just for a while...



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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #13 on: September 26, 2021, 09:55:41 PM »
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I finally fall asleep in my chair, struggling to get comfortable, self-medicating with Richemuloise herbediable and cherries of the triple-distilled variety. I eventually fall asleep in spite of my limbic system shouting and screaming for me to stay awake.

I find myself in a hallway made from thick panes of glass, crimson liquid sloshing about on the other side of them. My mouth felt as though it were on fire, my throat tightening as words tried to come out; instead, I could only wheeze. I see the silhouettes of massive sea-creatures floating about in the blood-red substance flanking me on either side. Sharks, the kraken of myth.. things that defy categorization... and then, my focus returns to the end of the hallway.

I see her. Desperate for her embrace, I rush towards her, hoping that she has answers and that she can bring an end to this nightmare. The hallway stretches out, becoming ever longer; soon, I cannot see the end of the hallway, and I cannot see her. I see only darkness. Suddenly, I see a crack form in the glass and it begins to spread out quickly like a massive spiderweb. I hear laughter.

It's her laughter. Coming from behind me. I look over my shoulder and see her running towards me, curved blade drawn. I try to outpace her, but I cannot. She incants, her eyes full of a malice that is both familiar and not; an explosion rushes forward, enveloping me and immolating me, just as the dam breaks and I am lost in that scarlet sea...

I wake up, forehead covered in sweat and I stare into the mirror of the vanity in front of me, dark circles around my eyes. For a brief moment, I think I see my own reflection sneer back at me.



Smoke and Mirrors

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2021, 10:23:00 AM »



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"[...] "Words of power" are immensely powerful compulsions that are managed through a single mere utterance. It does not matter if the subject hears you speak them, they are compelled to do as the word directs them. In the case of what is commonly referred to as "Power Word: Stun", the subject in question is rendered completely helpless, their bodies overwhelmed by a magically-induced shock. Even the most resilient of minds cannot resist what words of power command of them, though the body, if hardy enough, can force the unconscious mind to reject this command.

There are no somatic components to this spell, only verbal. Of course, for the spell to work as intended, the word of power must be spoken and enunciated clearly. Any mispronouncing of the word of power and the spell will fizzle, or worse [...] "






Smoke and Mirrors

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2021, 05:11:37 PM »
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This show has gone on for long enough. It’s now time for the closer and the stakes couldn’t be higher.

Either we prevail or all whom I love and care about will perish, one by one.

It’s time to die, Xiromuuth.



Smoke and Mirrors

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #16 on: October 26, 2021, 04:10:40 PM »
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The fiend is dead, even if not by my hand. My father is safe. She is safe. The nightmare is over.

I should be happy, or at the very least content.

I'm not, though. Is there something wrong with me? I feel like I should be.

This is what I want, right?


They're manacles and fetters, Stella. Same as all others, even if the links the chains are made from seem lustrous. That shine will fade in time, and all that will be left is rusting metal.

You've said many times to many people that you're not the sort to get tied down... and yet that is exactly what is happening here. Break free.



Smoke and Mirrors

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2021, 10:07:50 AM »

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A lot has changed since last I ruminated like this and yet a lot has stayed the same. Have I, though? Have I stayed the same?

I thought for a long time I was inured to the mockery of others, unable to be phased by their regular verbal salvos about me and my chosen profession. However, it seems there are chinks in my armor and arrows have gotten through.

How many of them applaud for me, and then later speak ill of me amongst their friends? How many of them honestly see me as that rear end in a top hat does? That constant, irritating feeling of doubt about myself comes and goes these days, like an itch inside my own head that I cannot hope to scratch away. The bottle does not help. Flesh and its pleasures do not help. I find resentment building inside of me, and with it dark thoughts that couldn't be my own... and yet they are...



You should show them, Stella. Show them what you're really capable of. You are brilliant beyond measure, far smarter than most of them. They won't respect you as an entertainer.. but if you were not so afraid of using your own talents, you could earn it through other ways. You could crush their simple minds with but a word and a wave of your finger. You could bend them to your will with but a gesture and a command. You could weave nightmares for them, nightmares from which there would be no waking. You could make them FEAR you...


« Last Edit: December 23, 2021, 05:28:40 PM by Smoke and Mirrors »

Smoke and Mirrors

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Re: Stella Seifert - Smoke and Mirrors
« Reply #18 on: December 23, 2021, 05:51:42 PM »
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Escape Attempt #1: Ripped off the skirt from the zarong I was wearing and tried to fashion it into a crude rope, one I could use to climb out of the pit I was being kept in. I found myself spotted by someone and was moved to a cell or, perhaps more accurately, a room for testing and experimentation on unwilling subjects.

Escape Attempt #2: I managed to shunt myself into the Border Ethereal, phasing myself through the restraints that held me to this wooden post. I had hoped one of them would come into the room; that would have made lifting the key from one of them an easy task. They didn't take the bait. I managed to counterspell one of my captors as they attempted to subdue me, but they moved out of my sight and suddenly I was overwhelmed by magical force and then with clouds of noxious gas. They shackled me back to the post, tightening them so they now cut into my wrists. My body is wracked by pain caused by blow and spell alike, and yet I cannot give up. I will not give up. I will soon make another attempt...

... and another... and another... and another... and another... and another... and another... and another... and another... and another...