A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

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 #31903  by Jodie Watts
Jodie had been instructed to show the new steward some of the processes here at Iver Hall. This was perhaps a good task in itself as it wasn't particularly dangerous, but Jodie also knew why she was picked. As the Mistress' primary spy, she was actually being tasks to sleuth; to investigate as much as possible about this woman through innocent means. Of course, Jodie did want to see the best in people, and wouldn't judge too quickly but...in the end, she knew her purpose.

Stepping up to the steward's door, she gave a light knock before opening it up and entering. She glanced around slightly before looking to the blonde.

"Miss Vale? I'm Jodie Watts; I was told by Mistress Iver to come and make sure you're settled. How is everything so far?" She spoke, rather formally.
 #31909  by Vivianne Vale
Vivianne was in the middle of organizing books and notebooks onto a wooden bookshelf in her room when she heard the knock on the door. They were mostly books on plants, their care and applications, and potions. In the half-empty box on the floor next to her were more of the same, plus some cookbooks. When Jodie walked in, Viv was holding a copy of ‘Winogrand’s Wondrous Water Plants, which she then placed onto the appropriate spot on the shelf.

“Oh — so you’re Jodie!” Viv was not being nearly as formal. “I’m Vivianne, nice to meet you! I’m just finishing up my unpacking. The room’s great. Got a perfect south-facing window!” She gestured over to the sunny window. Sitting on the windowsill was a potted plant with bright red flowers and rather sharp teeth. This was, of course, her ‘pet’ fanged geranium.

Curled up in a ball on the end of her bed was her more normal pet, a large, fuzzy, orange and white tabby cat named Basil. He was blinking lazily at Jodie, obviously woken from a nap. The room didn’t have any other surprises. The clothes she had brought were already in the closet, some pictures of friends and family were scattered on the writing desk, and there was an unopened box on the floor next to her bed.
 #31918  by Jodie Watts
"Oh, wow..." Jodie spoke, glancing around as she stepped into the room. That flower looked fairly scary, as did the mass of books. But something that did seem to lighten the unnerved feeling was the large cat. Astrid rarely let other pets into her home, but Jodie supposed that cats were far more tolerable than any more dogs - Nathan really did like his hounds. Did they even have names? Did he care? At this point, Iver Hall was becoming an animal farm; Astrid being her main contributor with her mass of snakes and several horses.

"Yes, Mrs Iver clearly treated you well with this one." Jodie commented. Yes...it took a long time before Jodie was gifted a nicer room, but apparently this steward got a nice room immediately. Or maybe it was that all the rooms at Iver Hall were nice. Lundstrom Manor really did have a class system for the stewards, and they knew how valued they were depending on where they were housed.

Stepped further in, Jodie smiled a little at the cat, and then looked to Vivianne. "So how are you finding it so far? Hopefully the Mistress hasn't been too intense yet; she can - er - get a little...well, you know. But it's likely due to a probation period, I'm sure." She grimaced. "Well...sort of. She can still be a little intense to Simon and I..."
 #31962  by Vivianne Vale
“I’m lucky they agreed to a room with a bookcase and desk! It makes it a little cramped in here, but it’ll help me with my work.” Vivianne grabbed the next book out of the box, A Compendium of Common Poisons and Their Antidotes. She still needed to find out what potions supplies were available, and where she should brew the requested poison. Did Jodie have more information? However, Viv also didn’t know who knew about it, and she rather didn’t want her tongue cut off.

“That’s Basil.” Viv introduced, noticing Jodie’s smile. “He’s friendly, unless you’re a garden gnome!” Basil was her gardening partner, and made short work of pests. He greeted Jodie with a meow, followed by a yawn as he stretched out his front legs. Viv continued unpacking the last books from the box as she listened to Jodie.

“She seems, uh, very particular.” Viv gave a nervous laugh. “And persuasive. The Master seems a bit more relaxed, but I only met him for a moment. But this place? It’s beautiful. I can’t wait to see more of the grounds!”
 #31968  by Jodie Watts
Jodie stepped further into the room, and soon eased herself in enough to stroke the top of basil's head softly. She smiled at the little ginger cat; it wasn't often that there were nice animals in Iver Hall. The dogs were used primarily for security, the horses were apparently picky about who they liked, and the snakes...ugh. The snakes were nothing but slithery spies for Astrid. Jodie had never considered Parselmouth to be a particularly beneficial ability, but apparently Astrid was making it very clear that it had uses.

She glanced up at Vivianne, smiling lightly.

"Well...yes, I suppose Mister Iver can be a little aloof but..." She grimaced. "Don't trust it too much. Not that I have anything against him; I work for the two of them equally...but with him? Everything is a game. He's likely feeling you out first, figuring out what makes you tick, trying to subtly get you to like him before he starts asking favours. Mrs Iver is clearly going in for the kill with claiming you as her property, especially after what happened in the Dominican Republic."

Realising that Vivianne wouldn't know, Jodie sat down, glancing at the door before speaking in hushed tones.

"At Levi and Ana's wedding," She began, referring to Nathan's business partner and his new wife. "Astrid made a threat of divorce after finding something out. Nathan snapped and staged a coop; he hid their child away, instructed his security to block her from the home, instructed me to follow his commands or he would punish me, and then used the Imperious Curse on Mrs Iver's most loyal follower, Simon. He knew he would never obey his orders without it..."

She sniffed.

"They seem to have resolved it but there's still a tension in the air. Everyone can feel it."
 #31999  by Vivianne Vale
Basil started purring at Jodie’s touch, obviously enjoying the attention. Whenever Jodie stopped petting, he would bump his forehead against her arm, demanding more. Vivianne chuckled at this. He was such a persistent and spoiled ball of fuzz.

“Dominican Republic?” Vivianne repeated with a raised eyebrow. She leaned forward to better hear Jodie’s words, curious. Divorce threats, retaliation, and...

“Imp—” she began startled before lowering her voice, “Imperious curse??” That was definitely illegal, although she shouldn’t have been surprised with the activities Astrid seemed to be involved in. Of course Nathan would also be participating in shady things. Still, Viv gazed at Basil nervously. Her goal had been to work for the rich to gain access to awesome gardens, but it seemed like she had fallen into something much more dangerous.
 #32000  by Jodie Watts
Jodie adhered to Basil's demands, stroking him softly, enjoying the idea that she was bringing comfort to another animal.

"Yes...exactly. Obviously, I wouldn't be telling you this if I didn't know you was under contract to keep it to yourself. But I feel it's vital you understand the situation you're currently in." She looked to Vivianne.

"I can't tell you which one to align with. Right now, I would recommend obeying Mrs Iver's orders and remaining professional for Mister Iver. He will be less likely to strike so quickly, I think, unless prompted. But you can likely get in his good graces if you speak to him about his plants." She nodded to the one on the windowsill. "After all...that's how Viola got close to him.But Mrs Iver hates her so maybe don't imitate so closely?"
 #32007  by Vivianne Vale
"Yeah, no, I definitely want to keep my tongue. Not gonna repeat a thing." she responded vehemently. "Sounds safer to just stay happily neutral rather than side with anyone! I want to stay in one piece..." Vivianne let out an exasperated sigh before mumbling to herself "Think of the gardens. Greenhouses and gardens..." Gotta keep her eye on the prize.

"Uh, well I'll talk to anyone about plants so hopefully the Mistress doesn't mind that. I can't resist the topic," Viv admitted with a grin. "The name Viola sounds familiar. I think she might've mentioned it?"
 #32011  by Jodie Watts
Jodie smiled a little.

"I'm the same about music. I'm a Jazz singer, but over the years, I've had to rein myself back from making a fool of myself or getting in trouble." She explained, shrugged as she did.

"Yeah, she might have. It's a whole thing. Viola York was Mister Iver's potioneer; she would invent stuff for him, work with him, test things others had dared not to. In exchange, he offered her his protection from people she'd wronged seeking revenge. She fell in love with him, they slept together, and then she tried to betray him out of fear of losing power..."

She rolled her eyes.

"Her cousin, Mister Iver's second, convinced him to forgive Viola as she was 'out of her mind' or whatever lie he made up. A little while later, she was engaged to Mister Iver's cousin, Gavin...but she actually ended up marrying Aidan Rogan, an outcast of the Iver family. Pretty sure Mister Iver did this to have more control over their family and to make the Mistress happy since she hates Viola. Even more so now that Viola has a baby..."

She realised there was a lot to follow but...there was a lot for Vivianne to be aware of as not to make enemies so quickly.

"Viola found out she was pregnant fairly later, and she ended up having the baby before Mrs Iver had hers...something the Mistress was not happy about. Even more...Viola had a son. Mrs Iver had a daughter...and Merlin, she is desperate for a son."
 #32048  by Vivianne Vale
Vivianne’s curiosity faded into exasperation as she listened to the saga. Aristocrats and their confusing family relationships! She tried to keep track of everything and she at least got the gist of it. Nathan cheated(?) on Astrid with Viola. Viola dated lots of people and ended up marrying Astrid’s brother-in-law, and dared to have a baby first. And for some reason that matters, even though Viola married the family outcast?? Something like that. Aristocrats were obviously too obsessed with birth order and tradition.

“Oof, they can’t keep things simple, can they?” Vivianne raised her right handsome her temple and massaged it. “That’s definitely not something I want to get in the middle of. Any other bombs I should know about? The Mistress- does she really follow through on rewards?”
 #32088  by Jodie Watts
Jodie leaned back a little, thinking.

"Any other bombs? Errr...The Mistress hates the head of Security, so ended up taking over a group of murderers-turned-assassins called The Kingdom. It was once run by the famous serial killer Anthony Dane who was imprisoned here, but he's recently escaped...I don't know to where." She knew where, but Vivianne didn't need to know. "But she now makes those choices. Just be careful of any of the members of that - they're killers."

She took a breath.

"Rewards? Usually. She likes making a statement, especially grand ones, Will likely do it more to make a point to someone else, such as rewarding Simon highly to get back at Mr Iver who hates him. "
 #32097  by Vivianne Vale
Escaped serial killer was not on the list of things Vivianne expected, let alone an assassin group! If Astrid had a team of trained killers then why did she want her to make a poison anyway? Why assign it to the newbie steward? Maybe it was some kind of test, but Viv still found it strange to trust a the new girl with sensitive information on illegal activities.

Then again, if Vivianne did blab everything to the first auror she met, Astrid apparently had assassins to neutralize her. Or she'd cut off her tongue. Or use forbidden curses??? This was all a bit much for her. Vivianne began pacing across the room.

"Oh, Basil! What have I gotten into? I just want to work with plants! Just all the plants! Cute plants, dangerous plants, expensive plants, rare plants, not necessarily legal plants... Okay, okay. I guess someone with all those plants would be involved in at least a little shady business. But this..." She looked over at Jodie hopefully. "You don't suppose I could just lock myself in the greenhouse?"
 #32102  by Jodie Watts
"You could, but you'd be dragged out pretty quickly." Jodie mused. She pressed her lips together, looking up at the other girl as she paced. "I thought the same about singing. I won't lie to you; Mrs Iver has truly made my dreams come true. But she has also made my life a living nightmare, and now that I'm here, there's no way out of this circle. I will never have another normal job again - I either work here or somewhere equally as shady. At least here I know people, trust people, and know the rewards are good."

She sighed.

"Your contract ends in a month right? I suggest you high-tail it out after that. Stay any longer and she'll dig her fingers into you. The plants might not be worth it..."
 #32115  by Vivianne Vale
There was a part of her that was actually tempted to still try and hide away in the greenhouse! But Jodie did have a point - her contract was only for a month! Surely she’d be able to find a less shady employer after that. Viv could just promise not to tell anyone about their activities and get away from here. Unless of course she changed her mind but that would be crazy, wouldn’t it?

“Yeah... yes, a month isn’t too long. I can make it through this!” Viv stretched her arms, halted, and glanced at her bookshelf. Right, if she was going to do this then she needed to get a start on that poison.

“I dunno if she told you, but Mrs. Iver asked me to make her a potion.” Viv was intent on leaving out what kind of potion, unless Jodie already knew. “Where do I get the ingredients? I think she was gonna get me in contact with a merchant?” Time to focus on something other than the potential craziness she was being pulled into. Because brewing a poison (plus antidote!) wasn’t crazy - it was an academic endeavor, right? Just pretend it wasn’t going to be used.
 #32128  by Jodie Watts
Jodie nodded.

"Well, she didn't tell me the details, but I could read between the lines. It's the first test, I think." Jodie said simply, once again stroking the cat as it purred. It was nice to have a non-scary animal around the Iver Hall - far more enjoyable than those vicious snakes!

"She will likely put you in contact with Florian Dahl. He's the owner of Dahl's Creatures & Curios in Schwarzwald Market in Germany. He seems to be traveling all over the place, but likes England; he's a fairly nice guy. I've met him before. Kind of a charmer but I think that's just his way." She shrugged. "He doesn't ask many questions, and has dealt with the Ivers and Clearys for years now, so nothing will take him off guard. Will probably talk to you about plants too."