THE St. Louis Speakeasy
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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2012 2:50 pm GMT 
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((I made a glorious OOC.))

If honesty was to reign, she could never claim to have been a lover of bigger bodies of water and their mysterious depths. Be it rivers, lakes or seas, they rather frightened her with their dark, impenetrable worlds far beyond the reach of her eyes and knowledge. Slithery sea-weed and sharp-toothed fish and the simple fact that you didn’t know what was below you. In smaller, calmer waters she could feel that fear as a slight thrill provided she was in a boat sizeable enough to keep her safe while actually swimming was impossible. On a ship the size of the one she was currently onboard; there was hardly even a thrill though. The waves were so far beneath her that even if she looked down at them they felt distant enough to not pose a threat.

Not to say that you would Find Veronika Falck hanging over the railing voluntarily. It was not even an option however, even if the young lady had been so inclined, as she was now blocked —together with her view of the approaching statue of a woman with her hand lifted, grasping that iconic torch— by a sizable man and a stick-like female. This view of their backs and backsides did not impress the blonde, young woman in the slightest, and she crossed her arms in annoyance. Letting out a sigh she instead focused her blue eyes on what she could see above the head of a young boy who seemed much more eager to explore the water below than she was.

New York was literally and figuratively a world away from Stockholm. It was so new, the buildings bigger and taller compared to what she had grown up with. English had surrounded her on the journey over and still every time someone addressed her as “miss” or “ma’am” she found herself confused and startled. Even more so when her damned uncle and aunt started discussing what would be more appropriate for them to be called, all those lords, ladies, sirs, counts, countesses…

Veronika hardly even cared for the titles of the nobles she’d grown up around in Sweden, and here it felt as though it mattered less. America wasn’t like Europe, they were a republic, like France of course but at the same time America still felt less old fashioned than France had. But perhaps that was simply her own imagination, her own feeling of the entirety of Europe being old despite the many changes that this new century was bringing. Perhaps it was simply the fact that now, there would be no chance of escaping her uncle and aunt as there had been in France. “There will be no more of that gallivanting!” she had been told rather clearly, and now her chaperones were holding the reigns of her economy. An allowance gave her freedom, but not enough to travel to a different city should it be needed, and no opportunity to live on her own.

She could of course never tell her aunt and uncle that the “gallivanting” she’d been occupied with had been a serious affair. After her brother Magnus had stopped answering her letters she had decided to travel to Paris to find him. This had only carried her towards Bayeux and a close friend of his who had told her Magnus was en route to America. With determination inherited from her father and shared with her brother, Veronika simply set her sights on the new continent, with the simple explanation that she wanted to explore more. Her parents weren’t happy about it, but as always they couldn’t deny their little princess anything.

What she hadn’t counted on was the sudden epiphany that her aunt would have regarding distant relatives. Her inner archive of family trees had roots reaching all over the world it seemed, and when she had searched them far enough—past second cousins and that widowed sister’s new husband and alike— like a persistent mole, it turned out they had relatives in St. Louis who were more than glad to offer them a place to stay.

Veronika had never heard from these relatives, had no idea who they were or even in which way they were related, the news had simply been dropped in her lap together with the fact that they would now be giving her an allowance. This probably meant that her annoyance at those relatives who were so happy to provide housing was unfairly substantial, but that didn’t mean she was ready to relinquish it yet. Not until she was sure that she could continue on her quest rather than being dragged in to a social game like the one she had left in Sweden; cavalcades of supposedly suitable husbands and dinner parties where she ought to smile kindly and nod.

The wind tugged harder at her dress as the ship stilled and the deck became a flurry of movement with men preparing the landing and letting the passengers off on to solid ground.

“<Come on now, Veronika!>” The Swedish cutting through the buzzing of English stirred her from her own thoughts and she looked over at her aunt, as the older woman hooked her arm around her husband’s. “<We must hurry if we should catch our train.>”

“<I am right behind you, aunt Louise.>” Veronika responded unenthusiastically as she fell in to step with them, only to a second later overtake them and scurry down towards the harbor of New York with her aunt’s calls of walking slowly and minding herself being drowned out by the surroundings. Already the new and to her exotic pulse of the big city pushed fresh energy in to the young woman’s veins and she felt her hope being revived. She wasn’t as far away as it had felt on the ship. A train trip later and she could begin her detective-work again, could find her brother.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 9:48 pm GMT 
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Hundreds of miles from New York City, Ansel Vanderberg sighed and meditatively stroked his taxidermied giraffe. He had spent the morning in his study, and had in fact planned on spending all day in there, until Dharmini chased him out and insisted he make himself presentable. Reluctantly, he had washed up, shaved, and put on a fresh suit. Now, forbidden from retreating back into the study, he had taken instead to skulking around the sitting room which housed his proudest display of taxidermy yet. The giraffe also served as a silent companion of sorts, for the times when human society was simply too much to bear. Every now and then Dharmini would pass through the room, her long dark braid swinging behind her, and he would cast a resentful glance at her from the corner of his eye, without breaking his moody silence.

Today's foul mood was the direct result of a particular imposition on the part of Ansel's family—the worst, in fact, since they'd sent him away from New York to this godawful backwater. There were days when he didn't mind St. Louis, if only because it distanced him from his siblings and the sort of society “their kind of people” were supposed to enjoy. What rankled, though, was the fact that someone in New York (Edmund, probably; this move had a certain sadism to it which reflected Edmund's touch) had had the gumption to offer up Ansel's home, as though it were a bed and breakfast, to some distant relatives on his mother's side whom he'd never even heard of.

It wasn't the first time his siblings had subjected him to unwanted social obligations, nor would it be the last. No, what truly grated on his nerves and sensibilities was the fact that he'd been in the process of planning a trip to the jungles of Central America—a trip which would now have to be postponed indefinitely. In planning his expedition, he had found himself already halfway caught up in the world of heat and rain, Mayan ruins and pictographs, jaguars and snakes and butterflies. Being jerked abruptly out of that world was like a rude awakening from an especially vivid and enticing dream.

“What am I supposed to do with these people?” he had whined to Dharmini earlier that afternoon when she'd come to roust him from his study. “Lord only knows whether they speak a word of English.”

“<So they're foreigners. I thought you liked that sort of thing,>” she pointed out, with an edge in her voice.

Ansel waved her away, secretly dismayed by the lack of sympathy in her tone. “Sweden. Sweden is boring. And besides,” he added, “<I have nothing in common with those people.>”

“<Those people,>” she repeated with a dismissive snort. She shook her head as she crossed the room to pull open the curtains, sending hot afternoon sunlight spilling into the dark, musty study. Ansel grimaced, but made no move to stop her. “<Family is family,>” Dharmini added, addressing him over her shoulder as she paused in the doorway. “<Your quarrel is with Edmund and Claire. So, please, don't take it out on the poor girl.>” And before he could answer, she had gone, leaving him alone to watch the dust motes float through the golden sunbeams of midday.

Now as he languished in his study, leaning his head against the flank of the stuffed giraffe, he felt nothing but weary emptiness and a faint but growing sense of dread. A glance at his pocket watch told him that their train would be arriving at the St. Louis station in a matter of minutes. He'd sent Rinchen with the car to pick them up. A dark look from Dharmini had confirmed what he'd already known was true: that he should have gone to pick them up himself. He was sick of Dharmini's meaningful glances, though, and absolutely fed up with her guilt trips. He had no obligation to those people; he was already offering them his home which, he thought, ought to be more than enough.

The only twinge of guilt he felt was for shunting his unwanted relatives off on Rinchen, though this was offset by the obvious pleasure Rinchen derived from driving anywhere. Besides, if his relatives couldn't handle the appearance of a pot-bellied Mongolian to chauffeur them home from the train station, then they wouldn't last a week living here in his home.

And that would suit Ansel just fine.

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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 11:23 am GMT 
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No, a potbellied Mongolian was not was Louise and Harald Prytz had expected, or desired to encounter. Especially not when he came in the role of their chauffeur. At first they had refused to even believe it much less allowed him to take their bags and follow him to the car. It was only through Veronika’s refusal to not go with Rinchen which had prompted the older woman and man to come along. For the sole purpose of protecting their current ward. It wasn’t until they stepped out of the car in front of Ansel’s house that they exhaled and admitted that yes, they were here and they were alive and in one piece. All in Swedish.

The train ride had been no more pleasant than the drive, even if Veronika had done her best to try and engage in conversation with Rinchen rather than having to keep talking to her uncle and aunt. This wasn’t made a lot easier by their constant interference, which was something she found had plagued the entire train ride. As with their current chauffeur, her attempts at conversing with those she met had been ended rather abruptly as soon as she had been noticed. Harald and Louise both seemed convinced that anyone who was not European was downright dangerous as this protective behavior had been fairly distant in France.

“<You never know where they’re from.>” Harald had tried to explain to her, as though she was a child being taught to not talk to strangers, which she in his eyes were. “<Most of America was made up by those who didn’t… fit in to Europe.>”

“<Uncle Harald, many Swedes travelled to America and still do,>” she had tried to argue. “<Not to mention that the first settlers came to America hundreds of years ago, and people have—>“

“<Oh don’t start with those… socialistic ramblings now, Veronika!>” Louise had complained, causing the colour to rise in her niece’s face due to something unrelated to the warmth of summer. “<We are different. There are classes in society, it is ridiculous to think that we are all equal!>”

In her own unobtrusive and far from aggressive way Veronika had to disagree and share her own view on such matters, but had soon faced a temporary defeat. Her family was not very willing to take in her views as anything but ignorant and rebellious musings of a young girl, even if Veronika at 24 years old saw herself as very much a woman and not a girl anymore. At more inopportune moments she would be called “too old” rather than young, but not when it came to her opinions. Now, she reserved those opinions for those that cared to listen, instead of those who simply argued them, who —like her aunt— claimed that a society firmly clinging to the different classes was a functioning society.

But boredom, having her opinions waved away and a rather acute feeling of being a prisoner in their compartment were things she had taught herself to cope with fairly well. Something which she was finding increasingly hard to fight off was the pressing heat. Unused to the humidity which came with the pressing heat of this foreign summer, Veronika found herself walking around flushed, fanning herself and drinking more water than she could ever have imagined could be needed. It was slightly better now that she was no longer trapped in the train, but still she couldn’t quite escape the feeling that whatever fluids were inside her skull were boiling as she was helped out of the car and onto the yard in front of the house.

You could hardly call her striking. She was perhaps a touch over what you would consider average height, with the sun-kissed blonde hair carefully tucked and twisted in to a hairstyle more conservative than those of a flapper. The way she smoothed out the skirt of her blue dress showed that she would perhaps have wished it was a touch longer, which together with her hair made it easy to assume that she was perhaps not as modern in her thinking as a flapper either; at least not when it came to appearances.

She stood with a straight back, her posture clearly ingrained after many years of constant reminders to not slouch. With the straight cut of the dress it was easy to see that she had a slim frame which was slightly rectangular, or elongated. Together with her open, oval face it landed her a fairly ordinary appearance rather than what you would call beautiful. Had she not been wearing the expensive dress which caused her such discomfort, it would have been hard to tell that she actually belonged to the same family as the luxuriously dressed and “of course we belong here” pair in front of her.

If you bothered, you could also sense the impatience which she was skillfully obscuring in proper conduct. In her head, she was already up on her room, switching in to a dress she liked better and excusing herself from the company. It wasn’t that she was indifferent or disinterested in her new surroundings and the new people around her, as much as she at present didn’t feel as though she had the time to take the interest. She hadn’t seen anything (aside from the exotic driver) which was enough to break her focus from her own, secret mission. Just another big house, in which she expected nothing but another boring relative to call “cousin” or “uncle” or whathaveyou even if they were not related as such.

“<Well this is a fine house.>” Harald noted in a terribly pleased manner as he offered an arm to each of the women in his company and then tried to cover that up as Veronika pretended not to notice it, instead brushing a strand of loose hair from her face.

“<Well, I hope that its owner will at least come and greet us.>” Louise murmured unhappily as she put her arm around her husband’s. “<He really ought to have come picked us up. That driver could’ve been a criminal—>”

“<Aunt!>” Veronika cut in with a frown. “<He was very nice to us. And I’m sure Mr. Vanderberg is… terribly busy.>”

And that would suit Veronika just fine.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 3:06 am GMT 
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From the window of his study, Ansel saw the car rolling up the long gravel drive which separated his house from the lane leading into downtown St. Louis. It was then that Akku appeared at his shoulder. The young man was no tidier than usual, though Ansel couldn't muster the energy to care, much less feel upset about this fact.

"The car's in the drive," Akku announced unnecessarily. "They'll be here any minute."

"So they will," Ansel concurred glumly. He straightened his tie, suppressing a grimace as he turned to face the younger man. "Remind me--their names?"

"They're your family. You should know." There was something almost accusatory in the boy's tone.

They're your family, too, thought Ansel bleakly, though he said nothing of the sort.

After a moment, Akku relented with a sigh. "Harald Prytz, Louise Prytz, Veronika Falck. Veronika is the niece."

A boyish smile split across the proprietor's face as he clapped Akku lightly on the shoulder. "Knew I could count on you." The smile was short-lived, though, as the car came to a stop in the circular drive outside the front gate. Ansel let his hand fall to his coat, from whence he removed a small metal flask, taking a hasty swig. By the time he'd capped it and put it away, Akku was already rolling his eyes in unconcealed disdain as he beat a hasty retreat. Ansel was left alone.

In less time than it took for Rinchen to help his passengers out of the car and finish unloading their bags, Ansel had rinsed out his mouth to hide the smell of brandy, and descended the stairs, coming to stand just inside the closed front door. He took one last deep breath and ran a hand over his hair, assuring himself that it was combed neatly back. Then, bracing himself, he pulled open the grand front door and started down the steps towards the relatives he wished would go away and leave him alone.

In spite of all Ansel's internal misgivings, it must be said that he made a good first impression. He was well dressed in a tailored gray suit, freshly pressed, and a crisp white collar, paired with a tie of muted green silk which closely matched the color of his eyes. His shoes were polished, likewise his cufflinks; he was clean shaven and lightly tan, and his teeth were fairly white and reasonably straight. And as he walked towards them, extending his hand to shake that of Harald, and take those of Louise and Veronika in a gentlemanly fashion, there was an undeniable elegance about him which seemed to radiate dignity. In spite of all his shortcomings, Ansel's high class upbringing had drilled into him a particular poise which no amount of social awkwardness could wholly obscure.

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"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 2:17 pm GMT 
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“Ah, Mr. Vanderberg!” Harald greeted the younger man the moment the doors swung open to reveal Ansel. Smiling widely, the Swede with his shock-white but full head of hair shook Ansel’s hand firmly, before introducing the ladies in his company. “I am Harald, and this would be my wife Louise. A pleasure to finally be here.”

“A pleasure.” Louise said pleasantly but in a clearly more reserved manner as she smiled faintly. Both her and Harald’s English were heavily affected by their Swedish, even if his was marginally better. Them having a son currently travelling back and forth between London and Gothenburg was the sole reason for their language knowledge, but at least it was better than nothing even if the grammar was still suffering when it came to more complex sentences, together with the pronunciation.

“And of course, this is Veronika, our niece.” The man added, almost as though she was a little bit of an afterthought. He earned himself a look from Veronika, and had she been a more rebellious young woman she might have bothered to point out that she was the reason they were here in the first place. As she wasn’t, she simply turned her focus to Ansel, taking his hand and taking him in for the first time.

He was younger than she had expected by nearly twenty years, which spoke slightly in his favour, even if he seemed as stiff as her aunt. He was another handsome man in good clothes with good manners and good posture, just like she was most likely just another not quite stunning girl in a pretty dress wanting an “adventure” to him. As it ought to be.

“Mr. Vanderberg.” Veronika greeted with a slight smile, her manners —like her aunt’s— were slightly more withdrawn, even if there wasn’t a barrier clearly put up between her and the person she was talking to as there was with the older woman in their company. Veronika was a friend of efficiency and preferred to avoid making things complicated and messy when greeting someone. She didn’t like to prolong the chit-chatting and the small talking unnecessarily unless personalities ended up matching and you could talk properly. Not to mention that the mere presence of Harald and Louise dampened her spirits.

“It would be lovely to see you home,” she added to her greeting. Her English was less severely tinted with Swedish, but only to make room for a slightly rounded edge which brought your thoughts towards French. She’d grown up learning both languages side by side (rather than French and German as she had simply refused to ever take a German word in her mouth), but her French was much more fluent than her English still. “But it has been a very long journey and perhaps we should all take the time to freshen up a bit beforehand?”

Even if she had taken command of what their next move would be, it had been subtle and reasonable enough that Harald and Louise readily accepted it.

“Oh yes. I am sure that we could all benefit from clothes-changing.” Harald agreed. “It has indeed been a terribly long journey. We can have more proper introductions later!“

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 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2012 5:22 am GMT 
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"Of course," Ansel replied, trying not to sound overly excited at the prospect of even a temporary reprieve. "Your rooms are on the third floor. If you'd like, I can take you there now, and I'll send Rinchen up with your bags once he's put away the car."

Without waiting long enough to hear whether they approved of this plan or not, Ansel turned on his heel and started for the front doors. The front drive and surrounding lawns were obviously well-maintained, as was the elegant house. Though the doors looked unremarkable from a distance, it would become clear as they entered that the edge of each door sported a subtle pattern of intricate arabesques, made of a mixture of carved and inlaid wood. Likewise, the handles, door knocker, and hinges were made of finely worked metal. The patterns these bore were a blend of floral and geometrical, heavily evocative of the Middle East.

Once inside, Ansel started up the stairs without even glancing around. Of course, it was a fair bet that after a while the sight within would become commonplace, but for a first-time visitor the decor was somewhat startling.

The entrance hall was large and spacious, with a high ceiling. The main hallway led straight down the center. On either side of it were the curving staircases leading up to the second and third floors. The elegantly carved dark wood of the stairs and bannister had been highly polished. The floor was covered in sumptuously woven Persian carpets in hues of crimson, black, blue and gold. The walls of the entrance hall were covered in large tribal masks made of dark wood, the same shade as the stairs, and the walls themselves were draped in tapestries covered by vaguely Indian designs. Mounted on the wall, beside each ascending staircase, were displays of impressive animal heads, masterfully stuffed and preserved; a rhinoceros, a large water buffalo, various exotic breeds of antelope with huge, twisting horns that swept back from their heads.

The third floor rooms were not particularly large, though their windows did look down over the swath of grounds and gardens on either side of the house. The slant of the ceiling was visible here, as they were located just beneath the peak of the roof, and while the angle was not so severe as to prevent an adult man from standing or walking around in the rooms, the windows had been built as gables to accommodate the line of the roof. Dharmini had tidied them and made the beds in anticipation of guests, with Veronika's room across the hall from her aunt and uncle's.

What made the rooms particularly remarkable was their contents. Evidently unused to having visitors, Ansel had devoted these spaces to temporary storage, of sorts. Most of the flat surfaces were filled with little woven balls and baskets in widely varying styles, fragile-looking snakeskins wrapped in soft tissue paper or displayed under glass, pieces of brightly colored cloth, a small collection of origami paper foldings, large smooth sea shells, animal pelts, painted fans, bronze bells in varying sizes and designs, statuettes, pottery, and a slightly unnerving number of small- to medium-sized taxidermied animals.

These specimens ranged from a black tamarin monkey, mounted as though in mid-leap, to a ring-tailed coatimundi which appeared to be burrowing into the stand to which it was fastened; from a silky American marten, coiled around part of a dead tree trunk, to a rangy-looking juvenile gray wolf small enough to be propped up in a corner next to some carved spears and larger vases. Some of these stuffed beasts were in better condition than others. All, however, seemed to regard the visitors with glittering, glassy false eyes, as black as jet.

Judging from Ansel's nonchalant manner, however, he would have been surprised to hear his guests claim that the taxidermied bestiary unsettled them in any way. In fact, he gave no indicator that this was at all out of the ordinary.

"Don't worry about the mess," he remarked as the four of them stood back to survey the visitors' new lodgings. "These things will all be cleared out by the time you're ready to sleep tonight. ...In the meantime, though, I would respectfully ask that you don't touch or rearrange these things. Many of them are on their way to museum collections, and it's best that they stay museum quality."

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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 1:17 pm GMT 
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”You are quite the hunter!” Harald had remarked in a fairly impressed voice as they had ascended the stairs, eyes jumping between the rugs on the floor, the dark wood of the banisters and up on to the walls and the items adorning them. It wasn’t unheard of in Sweden that people went to hunt in Africa or Asia and on occasion brought home a trophy. Or quite simply went there, bought a trophy and bragged about it while being entirely unable to name the animal’s kind because they had in fact not held the gun or cared enough to learn the animal’s name. But a collection like Ansel’s was something that even Harald and Louise hadn’t seen before. The sheer amount, coupled with their unusual looks and the otherwise fairly exotic décor had them slightly taken aback, and in Harald’s case, impressed.

While she regarded the animals with some interest, Veronika wasn’t giving in to the same blinking surprise that the others couldn’t —or more likely, wouldn’t— keep from their face. She had seen a few of the animals displayed in zoos, and knew enough to realize that they were from quite different places of the world even if she could most likely not name that many of them if she was asked.

“You must have travelled a lot.” She noted in that muted way, thinking more of the places where the animals came from rather than the animals themselves.

The impressed manner of the older couple in the company and the hint of newfound respect towards Ansel, rather quickly fizzled out when they reached the rooms however. Louise’s lips tightened a little, and even if she didn’t say anything outright you could tell that this was not what she had expected either, just like she hadn’t expected a quite so exotic driver to come pick them up. Harald did a better job of disguising his surprise and displeasure.

“… Well, I’m sure it will all be sorted out just fine.” He responded slightly haltingly while attempting a smile at the same time as his niece had to suppress one. It was rather amusing to see her uncle and aunt jump from one emotion to the other like this, first the annoyance of them not being met at the train station to the impressiveness of the house which made Ansel grow a bit in their eyes. And then this. Veronika couldn’t have cared less even if the animals and other specimens were to stay in the room even after she was supposed to sleep. She was used to having the eyes of portraits, sculptures and stuffed animals looking at her and it didn’t spook her any longer (though she wouldn’t mind it when that wolf had moved out). Besides, her intention was to not spend much time in her room anyway. At the back of her mind she did wonder however, whether Ansel was simply clueless to how this would look to his guests, them being stored away together with things awaiting shipment, or if he was consciously doing this to toy with them.

Excusing herself with her head ducked to hide the hint of a smile, she walked in to the room which was supposed to be hers, closing the door securely behind her. She could hear Harald and Louise doing the same across the hall, and she let out a breath of relief at finally being free of their presence.

Looking around the room, she let out a soft laugh to herself. She had seen busy rooms before, or so she thought, but this one took the prize. Despite being told not to, she walked over to the wolf, leaning down a bit too look it in the eye and stroke its back once.

“<If he doesn’t keep his promise of moving you out I might need to have you turned against the wall tonight.>” She told it in Swedish, patting its nose with an index finger before straightening up. Walking over to the bed she sank down on I with a sigh. As much as the resting and freshening up part had been an excuse to get away, she could feel that laying down was actually rather tempting, but when she did she rather quickly ended up being claimed by the sleep she had found herself lacking the past few days. So by the time her bags were being brought up a few minutes later she was fast asleep, remaining that way until the door closed again.

Sitting up with a start she noticed the trunk at the end of her bed, and she hurriedly got up in her still slightly sleepy state, reminded of what her original plan had been with going up here. A curse crossed her mind as she realized that her hair was now reminiscent of a bird’s nest and would need to be let down before she could leave. It wasn’t long before her dress had been changed in to something rather more casual, and her slightly past shoulder-length hair had been let out a little even if she still kept it in a loose bun. Not exactly what her aunt would have liked to see her in, but she wanted to get out before they did.

Pushing the door open she paused, listening for any sign of her uncle and aunt being on their way out. They were talking lowly and she couldn’t quite hear what it was they were saying, but they were sounding rather grouchy which only made her shake her head. Quietly she shut her door and started down the hall, and then down the stairs. In truth, she wasn’t in a desperate need to pick up her search for Magnus straight away, tired as she was. But she needed to get away from the Prytzes, they made her feel like an unfortunate piece of luggage which they sadly had to carry themselves, even if she was the reason they were here.

At the bottom of the staircase, back in the entrance hall she hesitated. Looking around she bit her lip before deciding to try the doors between the stairs, across from the grand front doors.

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 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2012 7:28 pm GMT 
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The inner doors were thick and heavy, but as she pushed them open, she would be rewarded with an unobstructed view of the atrium.

It was a large, square room, brightly light; an upwards glance would reveal why. The roof was a glass dome, which let in natural light, and allowed a glimpse of the blue sky through its lightly frosted panes. But the most noteworthy feature of the room was the tall, expansive gilded cage in the center of the room, filled with lush tropical greenery and brilliant flowers. Inside the cage was a small flock of exquisite birds, their feathers glimmering in shades of red, blue, yellow and green. Their chatter filled the echoing space, though the sound was more akin to a squawking, honking racket than any sort of sweet song.

The noise might explain why the wooden doors were so thick.

It also helped to explain why the third storey, despite the elegance of its furnishings, had a cramped air about it--and not just because of the bric-a-brac cluttering their rooms. The third floor was built only on the front end of the house, while the back had been modified--presumably by Ansel Vanderberg--to accommodate the aviary in which Veronika now stood.

It was warm in here, more so than the rest of the house. The skylight gave it the atmosphere of a greenhouse, both for the sake of the plants and of the birds among them. Plants and birds alike were tropical in origin, and needed this climate to thrive.

A number of other doors led out of the atrium. To the left and right were broad double doors of dark, polished wood, identical to the ones through which Veronika had entered. Farther down the walls, two smaller doors were visible, leading out to both sides of the house. And while the end of the chamber was mostly obscured by the enormous birdcage at its center, by craning her neck or taking a step or two to one side, Veronika would be able to see a pair of glass French doors, almost like a large window, which opened out onto a veranda. Beyond it was a large expanse of green lawn, a few small cottages and outbuildings, and sprawling gardens, though these were obscured by the copses of trees which bordered the lawn.

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 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2012 12:22 pm GMT 
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The young woman first shied back at the surprising sound. Wide-eyed she dared to step in to the room to allow the door to close after realizing that the door was most likely best kept shut to keep the sound contained.

"Fantastiskt..." she spoke lowly to herself, her voice nearly lost in the sounds of the birds even if it too managed to reach far enough to be heard just above it. A fantastic thing it was indeed, to someone who had never seen anything like it before. She had seen many a fine ball-, dining- and sitting-room in her days, but this type of architecture in a house was unlike anything else. A greehouse, a museum, or the type of place you might encounter at a park or a zoo. It was not something she would have expected, even from a man with such exotic tastes as Mr. Vanderberg. Approaching the cage she gingerly set her hand to the bars, trying to spot all the different birds which flitted between the unusual plants or sat on branches peering down at her as though she was the curiosity. The smile which parted her lips was impossible to hold back while she circled the cage.

She couldn't help but wonder what kind of man it was they were really staying with. Surely he was some type of professor or alike, why else would one have this kind of collection of not only items and dead animals, but also live ones? This thought did wake a hope in Veronika that perhaps living here wouldn't be quite as horrible as she had first imagined, as there was a possibility that a well educated man might behave differently than a simply rich and eccentric businessman might.

Taking her eyes from the cage Veronika looked between the doors before deciding to continue in the direction of the great outdoors even if she gladly would have stayed by the cage longer. But she craved fresh air, and everyone was likely more interested in staying inside at this hour of the day, including the owner of the house, or at least that was what she assumed. Setting out for the French doors, she opened them quietly to slip out.

Stepping out on to the veranda she hurried forward to the opening in the railing, breathing in the warm air and already feeling the flush return to her face. Looking the veranda up and down, and then the lawn and its paths. Coming to the perhaps slightly too quick conclusion that they were empty she didn't pause for a second with reaching down and slipping her feet out of her shoes. The warm wood of the veranda crept in to the soles of her aching feet through the fabric of her stockings, bringing up memories of warm Swedish summers, when they would travel north and she could sneak out at night to enjoy a bit of the midnightsun on their veranda. But even if the warm, wooden floor of this veranda felt similar, the air was different. In Sweden it was crisp, here it was thick and in her mind oppressive.

She closed here eyes and leaned slightly against the railing whilc she pinched her toes with a relieved sigh. They made cracking sounds after being trapped in the same shoes for so long. The shoes were in fact another gift from her aunt, bought in Paris, and they were actually a bit too small for Veronika, even if her aunt claimed them to be a perfect fit.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:23 pm GMT 
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A door opened down at the other end of the long veranda and a young man stepped out. In his hands he held a tray with a few bowls balanced on it. He noticed Veronika immediately, though he said nothing and made no move to approach her. His face was round, despite his angular cheekbones, his eyes narrow and dark, his nose pointed. His skin was a light copper shade, his black hair coarse and messy, his clothes informal and a little worn.

He eyed Veronika with an expression somewhere between disinterest and suspicion. After a few seconds had passed, he broke the silence.

"Are you trying to sneak out?"

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 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 12:58 am GMT 
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Jävlar.

Veronika smiled a bit to herself as she let her head fall back, the sun reaching down over her face and neck. Despite her feeling on the verge of too warm, she did enjoy the sun. turned around with a start at the sound of the voice, her eyes quickly coming to meet the young man's. Taking in his appearance with practiced swiftness it was easy to tell that he was another part of the staff of the house. This meant that she was, in accordance with most social codes of conduct, not really obliged to answer him, but she hardly ever did only what she was obliged to. She couldn't really see a point in being rude even if this young man had asked a rather... Frank question.

She wasn't really obliged to start putting on her shoes again, but she still did and in a hurry too. You couldn't stand around barefoot in company, especially not when there was a risk that the company might tell their employer. People all too often assumed at those working around a house were deaf, blind and mute.

"Just stretching my legs," she managed to replied in an atleast fairly composed manner, somehow trying to make returning her feet to the too small shoes a discreet and graceful affair before she straightened up properly. "you're only sneaking if you're actively trying to hide going out."

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:08 am GMT 
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"You seemed a little jumpy, is all," he replied with an apathetic shrug. Balancing the tray in one hand, he sat down. The veranda was only raised a few inches off the grass lawn. By angling himself diagonally, he managed to lean his back against one of the supporting wooden poles, while resting one leg on the smooth boards of the porch and the other on the neatly trimmed grass of the lawn. Veronika would have ample opportunity to note that the young man was also barefoot.

Whatever her aunt and uncle may have thought about the Mongolian butler, there was no denying the fact that he had confirmed to every social protocol with elegance and dignity. The fact of the matter was that Rinchen delighted in perfecting the rituals of the upper echelons, in spite of the fact that Ansel's small household staff thrust him into the roles of both butler and chauffeur.

With this young man, however, there was no trace of the butler's dignified docility. Either he was wholly ignorant of convention, or he took a perverse pleasure in flouting it deliberately. He stretched out his legs, flexing his bare toes, and began to eat the contents of the tray which were evidently his meal. He ate with his hands, tearing pieces off a broad, thin slice of buttery flatbread, which he then dipped into the bowl. This held a sort of yellow-orange soup or curry with unidentified lumps floating in it--probably some kind of meat or vegetables. He took large bites, eating fast, though he somehow managed to avoid spilling anything on his clothing. As he chewed, he scrutinized Veronika with a straightforward look and unimpressed expression.

After a moment, having swallowed his present mouthful of food, he asked her bluntly, "Do you actually like your family? Your aunt and uncle, I mean. Or are you just putting up with them til you can get away?"

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is a spider-child
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:02 am GMT 
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With her own feet aching like they were it felt almost like a mockery from the young man that he so casually sat himself down and stretched out his legs and those bare feet. When he began to eat, Veronika had already begun to consider leaving, disinterested in encroaching on the man's break (even if she had never met a member of any household staff who behaved quite so carelessly as to start eating their lunch in front of her, and with their hands at that) and keen on saving herself from an awkward situation.

"Excuse me?" she responded, her eyebrows raising at the question before she turned away a little to lean slightly against another of the supporting pole and looked out over the lawn as though she had no intention of answering such a horrible question.

'Disrespectful' was the first word which popped in to her head regarding this young man, even if some part of her gladly accepted his manners as simply honest. It quickly removed that sensation of talking to a doll, which she sometimes couldn't escape when around family and their friends. Dolls, actors, puppets, all directing each other and pulling each others' strings this way and that and smiling through dinners no one wanted to be at anyway. She was well aware that she was just the same, smiling pleasantly at Mr. Vanderberg and saying it was wonderful to be here when she didn't think so, but she liked to think that her awareness of this excused her somewhat at the very least.

Looking over at him briefly, giving him a slight up-and-down before actually letting out a soft laugh, returning her eyes to the garden. "I'm not bothering to hide it that much, but no one has called me out on it yet. They're a necessary evil, though I expect you to be a gentleman and don't spread that around too wildly." she then said while taking a step out on to the grass.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Wed Jul 25, 2012 6:55 pm GMT 
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"Of course," he replied.

Although his expression did not change, he watched her step off the veranda, taking in the way the sun shimmered in her blond hair. The lightest hair in their household had always been Ansel's, that colorless brown shade which bleached a dirty blond after a few weeks of intense sun. The servants were uniformly possessed of black hair, or hair so dark brown that it might as well have been black. Few had ever been old enough to have gray or white hair. Edmund, in New York, had strawberry-blond hair, and his Austrian wife was even paler. Claire was a brunette, her hair a few shades darker than Ansel's. But he'd never seen much of them. For the most part, the members of Ansel Vanderberg's household--like Ansel himself--preferred to keep to themselves.

As such, he couldn't help but feel a little intrigued by her light hair, and the golden light which seemed to dance across it when she turned her head. It was idle curiosity though, nothing more. Within the isolated enclave of this house, this yard, this property, it was people like Veronika who were exotic curiosities. For most of the young man's life, the opposite had been true.

"I wouldn't want to spoil your appetite for dinner, but you can have some if you want." He indicated the tray with a wave of his hand. "Our cook is really excellent, and this is probably less boring than what she'll be serving you lot at dinner."

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 Post subject: Re: Columbus [dvorak]
PostPosted: Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:37 am GMT 
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Veronika had to put more weight on her toes when out on the softer ground to not sink her heels in to the soil, which hardly made the shoes any more comfortable than they were. She lifted her eyes back to him at the offer, with a expression which seemed to waver between confused and thoughtful as they flicked between his eyes and the food offered.

"But it's your food." she said. The words themselves might have made you think that the meaning truly was "why would I eat the staffs' food" but the tone suggested that she was simply a bit startled at the suggestion that he wanted to share it with her. Being brought up the way she had, sharing had never really been a big part of their lives. While the children playing amongst the workers of the sawmill up north frequently got told to share nicely with the others and with siblings, Veronika had simply been told "you have your own, you don't need another". A tantrum later everyone had agreed that yes, perhaps she did need another.

It was probably just dumb luck that Veronika managed to teach herself the value in sharing, not just toys but also sharing experiences, respect and opinions with eachother, especially if you didn't agree with one another. It was how you learned and it meant you took part rather than just float above it. The sharing of food was perhaps not something you got philosophical about, but it was something that didn't typically happen in her world, that someone just offered to share a meal with her; especially not the same one as they were eating from with their bare hands.

Despite her words, Veronika picked her way across the short distance of lawn in between them, still giving him that look. "You don't have any cutlery?" she then asked casting a brief look up and down the veranda. She didn't really find it too scandalous that she would try some of the food, but she had a rather strong feeling that others might and it would be a shame if they had to suddenly make an appearance.

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