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Kalmuli

Teller's Respite

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When you traveled amongst stars, how often did you end up staying in one place? This was a common question amongst the well traveled. Kalmuli was no exception to this extensive pondering. Then once she had come to Valucre, she had found a place to place roots down and start to grow a presence there. The Marquis had given her a brief tour of the area some time ago and she was entranced by the falls. The crispness of the air, the beautiful sound of the white noise...This was a good place to settle down for a while and relax. It wasn't long until the Terrace had been built with local labor and some of her own magic. It soon became a manor worth talking about with it's gardens, view of the falls and Chapel that hovered over their edge. Kalmuli had made sure everything was as etherial as possible to the mortal eye.

 

Once some furniture had been built, pillows stuffed and tapestries woven with local fables, Kalmuli was left with quite the attractive vacation home...and a lucrative business. The Bloody Seer's influence would spread. So would hers once the people started coming in looking for ways to beat the 'system' that was fate. Of course, she could only do minor things for them. Anything that were things like 'conquer death' or 'everlasting such and such'? Too risky. Even she had boundaries. 

 

The first morning after her home had finished being decorated, beds coated with the finest, softest of fabrics, Kalmuli rested. Her room was in a far corner above the floral terrace that looked over the falls with a small balcony of it's own. She slept on her stomach, undisturbed until there was a heavy groan of the dark wood doors and the gritty footsteps of the one servant she had in the whole estate. A stone golem she appropriately called 'Happy' for the smoothly carved smiley face she made in the smooth face of it. It let her at least have something to look at other than just stone and an green aristocratic suit it walked around in. It had orders and helped with the upkeep of the manor when instructed. It lacked curiosity and thus her treasures were protected from wandering eyes. The clink of china tinkled on the bed, a stony finger giving her a poke. Kalmuli groaned. "Five more minutes..."She mumbled, only to get another poke.

 

It was enough to wake her up and get her to sit up to enjoy a tray of breakfast foods. It was difficult to train the golem in breakfast foods of the local area unless Kalmuli knew of it herself. Though, that meant Happy tended to make foods from her homeland. The smell made her ache with nostalgia. Happy left, his body grinding with his movements as he left her alone to eat. There was also a list of names, crudely written by it of people who had been permitted to enter the manor for her services. It hadn't been long for the local community, desperate despots who were looking for a means to end some unfortunate fate. Kalmuli ate breakfast with the refinement of a lady half awake. After breakfast, Happy returned to collect the dishes and dressed herself in robes of emerald and black. She had let her hair grow slightly, the cut bobbing around her face as she headed down to the first level to her 'meeting room' which was a low table, a series of pillows and fine drapery. A moroccan style lamp glowed ominously above them and another elegantly carved metal lantern held a relaxing incense. People tended to be more honest when they experienced two emotions...fear and pleasure.

 

Her first client this morning was a humble woman. Someone Kalmuli didn't peg as desperate. "Welcome...I'm sure you've been made aware of what the payment is for my services..."Kalmuli cooed, adjusting to reclined against a pile of pillows.

 

The woman didn't seem so sure she was ready to part with something of this magnitude. "I'm fully aware, Fortune Teller...I'm just not sure how to give it to you. Those instructions were very vague."

 

Kalmuli leaned forward, reaching into her robes and pulling out a small wooden spindle. She set it on the table. The woman looked flabbergasted at such a simple device. "Let me put it this way...Imagine everything that you are is like the little itty bitty threads of a piece of cloth. The threads are what make up who you are...the color of your hair, how things taste to you, weather you take a left or a right at the fork in the road. Your history. Your essence...My payment is simply a thread of that essence. A part of you...your life...that you are willing to give up to make sure that something happens be it for you or for someone else."She explained, picking up the ancient spindle again. "Now...you just need to tell me what you're giving me and what it's for..."

 

Ah the pensive look...

 

They always gave that. It was look she was all too familiar with when it came to the choices they were about to make. It always made her curious of what it was for exactly. The woman wrung her hands in her apron. "My...husband and I....We've been wed for a short time...We run a small restaurant you see, a bakery. Yet, business has not been going well. My husband feels like his food isn't as great as it could be and we're losing business because of it. He saved me from a rather rough life...I just want his creativity back. To be able to create the foods that people fell in love with when we started it and let us retire when we're old."The woman explained.

 

"So...this is about making sure that the business stays afloat. Money...How boring..."Kalmuli sighed.

 

"B-Boring?! This is my family's livelihood!"The woman stuttered. There went the humble facade. 

 

"So what will you give me in exchange for helping you build your wealth so you and your hubby can retire in peace? My thread of patience is wearing thin..."She insisted, sitting back against the  pillows with a half-lidded and bored expression.

 

The woman sat there, angry. Which made people careless...Kalmuli knew she'd give up something she'd regret. Yet, after a few moments of silence, she seemed to be more determined and calmed herself down. "I...want to give you my heart. It's what I put into everything I do. It's what I devote to my son, my husband...My heart."She said, putting a hand to her chest.

 

Kalmuli leaned forward, now more intrigued. "Your heart? Now you've piqued my interest. You're telling me...that you want to know if your business is successful by giving up your absolute loving devotion to your own family? For a restaurant. For your husband's creativity...Huh..."She mused. That was quite the thing to give up...yet she made her choice. The woman couldn't back out now.

 

Kalmuli picked up the spindle, balancing it on it's point and giving it a spin like a top. The woman stared. There was a soft glow emitting from the woman's chest. A thin wisp of vapor started flowing from it, wrapping around the spindle and starting to form a red ball of thread. Heart threads were obvious by their deep red color. The color of passion. Kalmuli brought her hands around the glowing red spindle, keeping it spinning until she had collected what was owed. The woman wouldn't feel it immediately, but soon as she got home she would. As for the deal...It would have to wait. She wasn't overly eager to hop right on it considering she had more clients coming in after the woman left. Happy entered the meeting room with a small sack, giving it to Kalmuli.

 

"In this sack are the three things you'll need. A blank book. A wooden spoon. Medicine. The blank book is enchanted...if your husband writes down a recipe, it will figure out what it needs to be the best. The spoon is blessed to help create an enticing aroma to bring people in. The medicine is for your husband. It will heal the wound time's made and over time, he won't need the book or the spoon. He'll be creating new dishes on his own. Have him drink the powder in a hot brew at night in the kitchen."She explained and the woman, zombie-like, gave slow nods and left. Kalmuli knew that these things would help bring the woman the wealth she sought for the family. Of course, the fact that she would no longer feel the love for her family was a harsh enough price to pay for something so...human a want.

 

Kalmuli sat alone in her meeting room, holding the spindle of red thread in her hands and quietly placed in a box under a pillow with others spindles of other colors.

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The next client was a middle-aged man that was starting to show signs of graying. He carried something wrapped in cloth and sat down stiffly on one of the cushions around the table. Kalmuli raised an eyebrow when he placed the package on the table and unwrapped it to reveal a pie. Rhubarb and strawberry it smelled like. She tilted her head a little, raising an eyebrow. "I do not accept bribes."She said, but the man put his hands up innocently.

 

"It's no bribe, Madame Teller...It's a gift from my wife. To thank you for doing this for us."He explained, Kalmuli slipping her nail into the metal tin it sat in, dragging it over and getting a closer whiff of it. She brushed her hair back and pushed the pie to the side.

 

"Your wife has my thanks. I'll have it with my tea later."She said, sitting back and pulling out another spindle from her sleeve, putting it on the table.

 

Down to business.

 

Kalmuli rested her elbows on the table. She stared at him, wondering just what he was to give up and why. "Now....why have you come to see me...A strong man like yourself should have no enemies, no problems..."She said, running her fingers over the wooden spindle with a half-lidded gaze. "But you did say 'us'...Tell me what is your desire and I may grant it."

 

The man sat up a little more upright. The closer Kalmuli examined him, the more she could see that he was more heavily scarred than he seemed. The carried himself like one with power...a law man? She listened to what she had to say. "My wife...For a while now, she's been very ill. I made that pie with her just so she wouldn't exhaust herself. We've seen every healer and doctor within the continent, but there seems to be no way to cure it. We found a doctor in this town, but every time she sees him, she gets worse before she even gets better. This morning, she could hardly walk, hardly breathe."The man explained. "I fear...that her doctor is trying to kill her...and I want to find out the cause of all of it."

 

"So you want me to look into the past for you and find out what's happening to your wife?"Kalmuli asked to confirm it.

 

"Yes...I just want to save her. Punish those who hurt her."The man spoke through clenched teeth. 

 

Kalmuli reached over the table, offering her hand for him to take. She brushed her other hand over his, giving it a reassuring squeeze.  "I can see that if they are allowed to continue, your wife will be fated to die. An intervention will save her, but what are you willing to give up?"She inquired. Kalmuli released his hands, reaching off to the side to another box. She retrieved a glass orb. Granted, she didn't need to use it but for all the mysticism that was part of the mystery of being the Fortune Teller on the Hill. Kalmuli set the glass orb on a clawed rest on the table, placing her hands around it loosely. The man looked eager but she wouldn't start until she received his payment.

 

"I...Know the rumors. You accept something precious....more valuable than gold. I want to give you my sense of Justice. I was a law man...I helped the town many times and kept the crimes low until my wife became ill. Then I retired to care for her."He offered. Kalmuli was intrigued. Sitting back against the cushions, she rubbed her chin.

 

"Justice...that is not something I'm usually paid with."She muttered. Her eyes landed on the pie...a pie that he and his wife made together, even when she was grossly ill. Kalmuli huffed and sat up. "I will give you a discount...a kindness for giving me such a gift made with the loving hands of you and your wife...I will accept your sense of Justice, but only a 1/4th of it. That will contain your sense of justice of petty crimes and small thievery. Orphans stealing apples and such...but I want your bravery too. Just a bit, it will tie in with your justice well. It's a rare blend and a better payment for what I'm going to do."She said.

 

The man grew more eager and nodded. Kalmuli reached over to the spindle, spinning it around like a top. From the man's chest released a blue wisp mingled with yellow that wrapped and blended itself around the spindle to form a marbled ball of light that swirled blue and yellow. The man rubbed his chest where the lights had come out, looking to the glass orb. Kalmuli set the spindle to the side and placed her hands over the orb again. It started to glow, swirling lazily around until it showed what the man was looking for.

 

Buried into the man's past, the doctor had been someone that he had sent to prison before. A con man trying to sell medicine that made people more ill. Eventually after going to prison, he studied to become a proper medicine man and gained a reputation under a new identity. When the law man came looking for help for his wife...the doctor took his revenge knowing he was making the wife's disease...a cancer it looked like...far worse. The growth was spreading from her lungs to her esophagus. That explained the difficulty breathing. In addition, the toxins from the cancer itself were causing the difficulties with walking...talking...basic motor functions. Kalmuli frowned...this doctor had to be stopped. The fact that she herself had been one in the past...to destroy or harm a patient under the creedo was a crime. Kalmuli tutted, the image from the orb disappearing. The man was red in the face...furious!

 

Kalmuli knew an angry man would do desperate things...but she reached over and pat his hand. "Justice will be served...but not by you. Your wife is who needs the most help right now to reverse the damage that was done to her body."She said just as her golem Happy was making his way into the meeting room with a wooden box. "Inside that box are four syringes filled with the medicine that will save your wife. She will be in a little bit of pain but the disease that ails her will disappear. A shot every week of this remaining month. As for the man who caused this...His fate's in my hands now. He'll be punished for his crimes according the the laws of the universe...and believe me...they are the harshest, most unforgiving laws."

 

The man looked to her, the lacquer box in his hands and a deep furrow to his scarred brow. Kalmuli patted his hand again. "How...will he be punished?"He asked.

 

"How does a man die when faced with a disease that doesn't let him walk or breathe? He will receive all the pain he caused your wife until he dies...And there will be no medicine man that can help him. He was the only one that could cure it properly if revenge hadn't been the first thing on his mind...."Kalmuli tutted, slipping the spindle off the table and putting it in the box with the others. Another addition to her collection. Getting up with the man, she walked him out of the meeting room and to her front door. "Your fate is in good hands...Take good care of your wife."

 

Then he left.

 

Kalmuli stood in her manor's doorway alone, watching as he traveled down the hill back to town.

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Rejection....

Hah...

"Hah...haha.."

Kalmuli's voice, in a half-hearted laugh echoed through her empty respite. As much as she was used to it, this rejection stung. To feel like she wouldn't equate to some wide-eyed doll...well...it was quite hilarious. She had gotten what she wanted from her travels but she needed this sense of peace that her respite gave her. Her sanctuary on the hill where all sounds were muffled by the sounds of the falls and the empty halls. She threw her travel bag to her golem butler Rocky, wiping her face of sweat and salt. Everything felt so stifling. Her chest ached and she started removing her clothes as she moved throughout the respite. Her Fortune Teller's business had been closed while she traveled but her feet padded over letters begging her for help. Begging her for a solution she had no heart to read. No heart to bring it.

Her bare, tanned body made it's way through the empty halls up the stairs to a deep bath fed with warm water that the falls generated as it pushed the wheels of her generator in the cliff. Her hand nearly broke the tap when she pushed it over and filled the near pool-sized bathtub. That was one of the things she wanted when she remodeled the place to her liking: A big bath that you could practically swim in. The room filled quickly with steam and her body slipped into it, feeling the scalding hot water run over her grimy skin. She sunk to the bottom, fulling soaking until she needed to come up for air, running her fingers through her now soaked hair. The sounds of heavy stone feet arrived with towels. It's the one thing she adored about Rocky is that with their consciousness tied to her, he knew what she wanted. As the stone hands set the towels on a bench and also brought over several bottles of wine, opening them and setting them on the bath's edge. Three wouldn't be nearly enough but it would leave her with a pleasant tingle. Kalmuli scrubbed herself with her tinctures and soaps so she could soak the rest of the time. 

The first bottle she drained quickly, wiping her mouth of the maroon-colored fluid and setting the empty bottle on the side. It wet her tongue but she still felt terribly, terribly empty. Yet, she would not cry. She stopped crying eons ago. The tear ducts no longer leaked and she bathed in bitterness. She was filled more with anger and despair. A calm sort of loneliness. As soon as she let her thoughts and the first bottle settle, she cradled the second one to her chest. The cold, fermented brew iced her throat and cooled her head. The glass bottle, dark green in color, she pressed to her forehead, using it like a cold pack for the slowly building tension bundling at the front of her head. Maybe it was build-up from having stopped crying? She tried to make herself do it but she couldn't. Dry as a bone.

"Rocky, bring me those letters...I need a distraction."She said, waving her butler off to do such. 

A few minutes later, Kalmuli found herself with a neat basket full of letters from clients. Drying her hands, she soaked her lower torso while she opened letters.

Husband dying.

Wife dying.

Businesses dying.

Dreams dying.

Hope...building by the end of the letter and the signing of a name. 

Selfishness, all of it and at the same time unselfish for what they were willing to give up. 

Kalmuli took another swig of wine, going through more letters. None of them were personal...all business. She felt burning at the back of her eyes. No letter from the snake. No letter from the winged Time-Lord...or the Devil. Ah the devil...She felt the tension in her head build and she tossed the letters away, sinking in the bath with more wine. Kalmuli felt a deep...terrible loneliness that she had been fighting to fill and now only, filled it to the brim with wine. Kalmuli wanted to cry...oh how she wanted to cry! She wanted to scream and destroy things and let her hands feel the crunch of bones and cartilage grind under her too strong of a hand!

The second bottle was gone...

She moved onto the third.

It moved through her float like a fish in water, drinking it down and throwing the glass bottle away, letting it clatter at Rocky's feet. She dragged herself out of the tub, raking her fingers over the mosaic floor and pulling herself over to the towels...and a robe that was far too big for her but she enjoyed the feeling of being wrapped in plush comfort. Her fingers clumsily fussed with the ties and she threw the towel on her head, twisting and binding it to keep it away from her face. She wobbled...

Ah...the wine...it was hitting her now. Her body and soul no longer hurt and the gloss had formed over her eyes. Kalmuli shuffled away from the bathroom, disappearing down empty halls to her chambers. Her numbingly cold chambers..."Rocky...fire..."She said, her voice so drugged down and exhausted. Her golem...the most loyal of creations she had ever made, created a fire to warm her while she slipped into bed, letting the many pillows envelop her like the earth.

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Kalmuli's head was dreamless but she could still sense what was going on around her. She would get flashes of images of events going on in other timelines. Sigil. San Yara. The Keep. Herselves were everywhere and she often found herself stretched too far. She could feel the salt air, smell the freshly tilled earth and wretched from the destruction and rot of the city. There was no peace even in her sleep other than being enveloped in the plush feel of cushions and her bathrobe. Rocky, always stayed near-by when she slept until something told him to go take care of something. He returned with a pitcher of water, carefully pouring her a glass so when she woke moments later, she could drink it down and go back to sleep. Kalmuli shoved the wet towel off of her head and dragged more pillows around her in her sunken pit of a bed. The feeling of nesting brought her more comfort. When she woke, she didn't move. Her eyes would refocus on the silk brocade of one of the pillows, her fingers playing idly with one of the tassels. She didn't want to move from the fetal position that she curled up in and gods forbid if someone dragged her from it. She would kick and scream at them, beat them bloody and crawl back into her pit like a selfishly warm serpent. Her chest flashed with pain at the thought and she burried her face deeper into the pillows.

Snakes.

Feathers.

Leather and Sulfur.

None of these things had pleasant meaning anymore.

The Travelers had left. The Devil was encompassed in his own world of a woman who was bound by responsibility. 

The only constant she had was Rocky. Rocky whom she made to make sure she didn't crash too hard. Who kept her home clean. Who folded her clothes, watered the plants and did everything around the Respite. A loyal golem bound to her will. She felt a stony finger brush her hair, knowing that when her ears were too hot that it was miserable. She laid there, the golem brushing her hair until it felt like it she wasn't hot anymore and then refilled her water glass. Rocky lowly walked away to go make something small to eat and Kalmuli finally moved if only to shift her position to a new one and drag a heavy blanket over her.

Kalmuli hid under the blankets, letting herself try to relax. 

No...there wasn't going to be much relaxing.

Kalmuli sighed heavily, sitting up and drinking down the glass of water, slinking back under the covers. The bed missed another body...and she longed for companionship even with the burn of rejection still lingering. Kalmuli had a private mission in life that she didn't reveal to many...that the need for a companion, one who would live through eternity so she would be only so often alone. She buried her face into a pillow, groaning and shaking.

How was something so simple so hard?

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It had been three day since she got back to her respite and three days since her last bath. Rocky had cared for her, brought her food and whatever letters had been dropped off and she managed to get back into the rhythm of things, albeit slowly. Everything to her felt like dead weight. When she was finally able to accept clients, sending mass letters out to the village below, she was unenthusiastic. She listened to their needs, half-heartedly fixing it and receiving her payment. The line shrunk down until it was just a few that she quickly got through and closed business for the day. She retreated from her receiving room to her second favorite place at the respite. The Falls Balcony. It was surrounded with a rainbow of flowers that filled the balcony with their floral smell and the freshwater smell of the falls themselves. She could listen to the white noise while enveloped in the smell and in this negative space she could let her mind settle down. The sting she would get over eventually.

Though for her an eventually could be an eternity.

Rocky brought her tea and small sandwiches to settle her stomach. It was starting to just fall into the later afternoon as the sky mingled with richer colors and the balcony was bathed in a new rainbow. Kalmuli nibbled on her food and sipped her tea with the light of the evening on her face and changing her hair from white to a neon orange. From here she couldn't hear the village or the call of the night creatures coming for a drink.

Kalmuli looked down to the final sandwich, taking it and shoving it quickly in her mouth to wash it down with tea.

The night was still young and even chamomile tea and cucumber sandwiches wouldn't be able to satisfy the emptiness and the agony inside her own head.

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The sudden appearance of the Red-haired man at her doorstep had sent her senses into overdrive. She stared up at him…and for the first time in a long time, felt truly frightened that her past was coming back to haunt her. Kalmuli hadn’t expected Byrn to show up at her Weland respite…in fact, he shouldn’t have shown up at all. There was only one moment in time that had allowed them to meet face to face only once before this.

Flashback…

Kalmuli had been summoned by the Feaorne family unexpectedly…and it had been by the Goddess Re’yah who if she hadn’t pulled Lian from the mirrors, she would have never been given this chance to roam the universe. The only reason she had been asked to come was to find out why, for a woman who had lived for ages, suddenly passed in her sleep and asked in her will not to be revived. There had been a lot of crying and screaming. Kalmuli kept her mask on…her face unmoving and uncaring toward the children who cried in the same room as her corpse. When it was time for the funeral, she showed her real face…only after the mourners had left and the graveyard of the royals was empty. Or so she thought. There was one other person there, someone she hadn’t expected and he saw her…

The red-haired man who had cared for her in a past life. He could have been a father figure for her had hers died early but she was the closest thing to a best friend she ever had if not more. When he saw her, saw her face, he had almost crushed her when he embraced her. There had been yelling, crying and they had gotten into a fist fight that they found themselves almost evenly matched in physical strength. It was only thing that made her respect him enough to give him her name.

“Kalmuli. Just that.”

Beat up, he still smiled. 

“I’ll call you just that then…you’ll have to tell me who you really are…”He insisted, like he was going to really see her again.

“You won’t see me again…so I guess you’ll never know.”She sighed before raising her hood and walking off with a bit of a limp.

Present…

Kalmuli would have thrown the door in his face but his hand stopped the heavy oak door from moving. Her strength seemed to leave her when she was afraid…Kalmuli backed away, covering her face. “It took me a long time to find you…don’t turn away now.”He pleaded with her. Byrn opened the door wider, stepping inside and closing it behind him, kneeling so they were eye to eye. He couldn’t see her face, but could see that her ears were burning.

“I told you…you won’t see me again…why? And how?”She asked him, looking at him like she was nearly on the brink of tears. She didn’t cry…but seeing him, someone she missed…it was like someone was twisting the knife in her back. Kalmuli crumbled and all she felt was the heat of his arm and his chest in her face. Suddenly she was being swept up into his arms like a child.

“Where’s your sitting room?”He asked, Kalmuli managing to point to a side room with two ornately carved wooden doors. Byrn carried her over, easing her into a cushioned high backed chair, slipping a stool under her feet.

“For a woman who put me through a stone wall, to see you almost faint is kind of amusing…”He spoke calmly to her, letting her get her wits back together. Byrn would settle himself on the floor beside her, looking up at her with eyes that reminded her of raw emeralds. They had always looked so kind but now…they shone with an intrigue she had never seen before. 

“Hyuck it up…I wasn’t expecting for someone to find me…let alone track me all the way to Valucre.”Kalmuli sighed.

“It took quite a bit…but someone had heard of you in Sigil…and then there were the business cards. It took me a while to find a portal…and then even longer to find a residence…you definitely don’t stay in one place too long.”Byrn frowned. 

“I don’t like stalkers following me from whole other worlds.”She answered flatly.

“You forget that I was a mercenary before I became the family guardian…”Byrn tilted his head. His long locks of red hair tumbled from out of his cloak, falling in curls and waves along his shoulder. “Tracking people was sort of a thing back then…”

“I think you’ve managed to outdo yourself tracking me all the way here…”Kalmuli muttered.

“I do have a reward in mind…”He leaned in a little, his eyes gleaming with a light she witnessed when he was up to something.

Kalmuli leaned to the side of her chair, staring at him half-lidded. She knew what he wanted. The story. The story she only told a few people in her vast existence. Kalmuli would sigh, easing back into her chair and reaching a hand out. Her hand sought out his hair, pushing it forward to let it rest on her lap. Her fingers sought out his scalp, scratching it a little until she heard the tell-tale rumbling from his throat and chest when he was pleased. 

“Scratches aren't going to make me forget.”Byrn sighed contently.

“I know. I’ve always known. I just want to settle in for story time…”She said, petting his hair.

Kalmuli told him the long story of how she came to be. The story of being forced into the mirror’s…Re’yah’s attempt to rescue that had caused the split timeline. Kalar’s ultimate appearance that pulled her from the void, the make-over…the lessons…the losses. Kalmuli must have gone on for hours when it only really lasted just one. Byrn didn’t jerk himself away in horror…he just lay his head on her lap, accepting scratches and purring.

Kalmuli waited for the questions to come…about why she didn’t try to go back to her family and continue on with life…but they didn’t come. Just his deep, soothing voice that had calmed her many times saying “I’m sorry you were alone for so long…”

It was like a dam broke behind her eyes, Kalmuli’s eyes filling so much they burned sorely and she covered her face. Her body shuddered, trying to curl into a fetal position in her chair but she couldn't lift her legs. Byrn shifted his head, moving and gathering her back into his arms, holding her on the floor while she cried and soaked his tunic with tears and mucus. Kalmuli let the weight of eons fall from her eyes, Byrn holding and rocking her tenderly just as he had done before. She had never cried in front of Kalar…never in front of Bravot…no one could ever get her too but this big, gentle dragon that held her so tightly she felt swaddled. Kalmuli  cried until she felt like the well in her head had been tapped out, sitting in his lap with her dressed spread across his lap and the floor.

“Feel better?” He whispered to her. 

“I feel like a log…a very wet, sodden log…but I do…”She said, pushing herself away but finding his hand pull her back down onto his lap.

“No…stay…just like this.”He purred to her…Kalmuli bit her lip, stuck on what to do. Push him away, give herself space to recollect herself? Stay…let her sink back into old comforts…her body didn't want to move much further. She sunk into his body heat and into his lap, relaxing into a lull.

After several moments of silence, Kalmuli looked up to him, reaching up and threading her fingers through some of his hair, playing with the end of one curl. “What is it that you want of me other than a story, Byrn? You can’t keep chasing me through portals and worlds hoping to drag me back to Fal’lain…”She frowned.

Byrn folded his arms around her, settling his chin on top of her head. Kalmuli raised her eyebrow. “I’m not going to drag you back…but…what I want was something I couldn’t ask for millennia…It’s not something I could exactly mention to the family.”He muttered, watching as her fingers coiled around his hair in spirals of red and ivory. 

He paused, tilting his head to rest his cheek on top of her head. “I…want to be with you. I want to be close…I couldn’t get that while Lian was alive. I was too much of a coward…too afraid of any repercussions.”He said and she could feel his cheeks burning. He was embarrassed to talk about it. “I know you're not her…you’re different for sure…but I didn't even feel it with her. I feel it with you…”

“Feel what? Love?”She said, her tone sounding more harsh than she meant it to be. “I can’t fall in love…”

“No…but all I know is that it’s I want to be happy with you. Be it love…be it just plain lust…Kalmuli…I want to know a happiness with you.”He whispered calmly to her. 

Kalmuli bit her lip…but she understood. There was something that she could sense and read from him that let her know he was telling the truth. There was a little love, a little lust…but in general, Byrn had been just as alone as she had been for a long time. After Lily…he didn’t find another mate. Nor really an intimate relationship but he was a man even while he was a dragon. He was still lonely…and he was going to live a long time being lonely. 

Kalmuli reached up, scratching his scalp as she thought about it….it wasn’t a bad idea. Kalmuli was missing something in her existence and maybe this was it…just someone who at the same time needed her, she needed him to fill that emptiness. Kalmuli let out a long, slow sigh. “Alright…I have a few conditions. We absolutely cannot cross paths with anyone we know…none of the Feaorne family. Some people here in Valucre are fine…I’m sure none of them are aware of you but Ian is in Predator’s Keep…we stick to here and Patia for now…”She stated, laying down the ground rules. “And you have to go back to Fal’lain…you can’t live with me.”

“I’m aware of that…someone has to keep everyone level-headed in Fal’lain…but how often can we meet?”Byrn asked and she could feel his heart fluttering on her back.

“I’ll give you something that will let you know…it’s a charm. It’ll let you know when it’s safe to be around…It’s up to you to figure out the excuses to use to come to Valucre…but while you’re here, you can stay here in this place. There’s plenty of rooms.”Kalmuli said, making a flourishing gesture to her home. Her body bounced when he let out a short, curt laugh.

“Well…I may only use just one.”His breath tickled her ear. Kalmuli bit her lip, turning her head to reach her hand into his hair, pulling him down for a sulfur-laced kiss as they fell to the floor in the first of many joinings.

Edited by Kalmuli

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There is a complex series of events that led up to a certain Swordmage finding his way into Weland, and then more specifically the Teller's Respite. Tales of woe and wonder, suspense and near death, bubbling laughter and hearty merriment. Or perhaps, the man simply has an awful habit of wandering off at random and happening upon the most peculiar of places and people. Whatever the case, Avvercus Voxinium flew along the cliffs towards the beautiful villa with dust on his boots, wind in his robes, and a gaze that appreciated what he was taking in. Whoever lived here had an eye for location and plenty of funds, as well as an aesthetic taste the mage couldn't disagree with.

With a seeming lack of regard for personal property, he floated over towards the terrace with seemingly no means of locomotion. No wings, elemental propulsion. Just simple levitation. A balcony overhanging the roaring falls contained a beautiful garden that was attracting his attention. He knew this smell, one he'd not detected elsewhere on Valucre. Rumor had it he could find them here in Weland, but so far he had failed to find a merchant carrying them. A rare delicacy it seemed to the mage, though he was unaware he'd simply been unlucky and by chance had not found what he searched for. He searched of course, for some star fruit.

His boots touched down on the rails and he took the final step that had him committing a crime. The swordmage walked with his hands behind his back and leisurely made his way around. Herbs, fruit, flowers with medicinal purposes, the garden was lovely and completely practical. The man was beginning to wonder what kind of person the owner of this place was. A cranky old man that had it built with splendor while young, and now only saw merit in things that served a purpose? No surely not. Still, it was fun to muse on these things. It was a habit ingrained through the centuries spent traveling.

Avvercus' long silver-gray braid bounced against his back when he stopped, staring with longing at his long quested for snack. A ripe, plump star fruit that called to him with glee. His already outstretched hand stopped, and was pulled back to rest against his hip.

"Hmm...this would be stealing, wouldn't it?" He muttered out loud, only now starting to realize he was already committing a crime simply by standing there without permission.

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Kalmuli had closed up her shop for a while to give her mind and body a time to rest from dealing with customers who, in her current state, were more of a nuisance. It had been a long time coming to rest at her respite, isolated up on the hill with the falls. Her beautiful, beautiful home...which was currently being investigated by a stranger though she didn't know it yet. Her stone butler had greeted her with a big breakfast in bed as a welcome home and around lunch time she had managed to pull herself out of the big fluffy bed she curled up in to head downstairs. Gliding around her home in sheer-cloth clothes, the feel of the slight nip in her open air home woke her up and the cleaner air refreshed her lungs and skin. 

This was home.

"You know this calls for a cocktail...."She pondered to herself, gliding down a flight of stairs on the top floor to make her way down to the second floor where her favorite spot was. "The starfruit should be ripe about now...Rocky, prepare some liquor."She spoke to an alcove in a wall where another stone butler stood waiting for directions. It moved, making its way to her lounge room while she went downstairs to harvest the fruit herself. As she descended the sounds of the falls grew a little louder but mingled with it she heard a man's voice.

Kalmuli stood at the bottom of the stairs on the second floor, looking to the tall glass doors that lead outside to her treasured garden that housed a variety of both common and rare flora. She could see a male standing there in front of her beloved starfruit tree, eyeing it. A heavy frown crossed her lips. Kalmuli had not been expecting guests. Moving toward the glass doors, her sweeping sheer nightgown and robe billowed behind her like a swathing cloak of green silk. 

"It's incredibly impolite to waltz into someone's garden without permission....especially MY garden."She chided at him, standing with a completely nonplussed expression of irritation. "Either you're a very good climber or I'm going to have to clip some wings if you have them hidden boy. Back away from the starfruit tree and no one gets thrown off the balcony."

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"My apologies. Your home was an alluring sight and the smell of star fruit was simply too tempting ." the man replied with an almost innocent smile and a flirtatious tone while subtly examining the owner of the home he was invading. He put one hand on his hip and the other gestured casually.

"That doesn't mean you tresspass despite all that."The elf glared at him, setting her hands on her hips.

"True, true. The thought had just occurred to me, actually. I could leave now, or do something to express my apologies. What would you prefer?"

Kalmuli thought on it, placing a thoughtful hand on her chin. "I could use another help around the house."She mused. "Alright boy...Pick a couple of starfruit and follow me inside. You're going to be my bartender."

Taking a hint, the swordmage put one hand to his chest and gave a small bow. "As you wish, Mistress" he replied with a small chuckle before obliging. It seemed he'd be getting what he sought after all. Picking the fruit with care, he followed behind his 'mistress' as she led the way inside

Kalmuli rolled her eyes. "Don't be smug." She scoffed and lead him indoors. On the second floor across the way from the garden was a large lounge area. It was huge enough that it could have been its own restaurant but more importantly, she was directing him to a bar that had one of her golem butlers pouring liquor into a pitcher. "Join Rocky behind the counter, slice up the fruit and put it in the pitcher."She instructed. "I'll be on the balcony. You'll bring me that pitcher and a glass with ice. I'm having an afternoon cocktail while the weather is nice."

"I'll be just a moment then" he piped, immediately moving with the deft grace of a master swordsman to join the golem behind her bar. The home was lovely. But...was it not too spacious for a single person? If she lived here alone...well,that simply seemed far too lonely. "Hello, Rocky " Avvercus grinned, giving the golem a pat as he passed it. This was some fairly advanced magic. It was rare to see a golem precise enough to pour drinks. With a flourish of the wrist, he summoned a black and white knife and swiftly diced the star fruit, a pang of longing echoing within. Oh little star fruit, how yummy you would have been. He walked back around the counter, and the diced fruit and pitcher followed, levitating by way of basic telekinesis. He lifted the lid, allowed the fruit to fly in, and quickly wrote a small magic rune mid air with some mana gathered at the tip of his index finger. That too was put into the pitcher. The rune glowed slightly before shattering into shards of pure ice. Grabbing the pitcher himself, the bartender gave it a vigorous shake. He crossed the threshold onto the balcony with pitcher in hand and approached the waiting lady. "Your bartender's name this fine day is Avvercus. Here is your cocktail, miss...? " Avvercus announced with a happy demeanor. As he spoke, he snapped a finger, causing a crystal goblet to appear in his open hand, pouring the drink and offering it with a slightly tilted head and a questioning smile.

Kalmuli lounged out on the balcony, stretching out on a chaise lounger outside in the garden. It was the perfect spot. Once in a while a breeze would catch the mist of the fall, sending a rainbow over her garden. She stretched and then flinched when the cool water brushed her legs. Kalmuli sat up when she heard the boy come back with her pitcher. Crossing her legs, she looked up at him and accepted the goblet, taking a sip. The starfruit left a sweet fruity taste and dyed the clear liquor yellow like a lemonade. "Avvercus...A fine name for a trespassor."She took a longer drink. "Very nice. Kalmuli approves. Pull up a seat Avvercus, you've worked off your grievences."

"Kalmuli...A fine name for a women willing to humor trespassers." Avvercus did as he was offered and pulled a nearby chair so that it was parallel with his hostess'. "I hope you don't mind if I also slip into something more comfortable. It'd be a shame not to experience this wonderful weather." he mentioned before snapping his fingers. His entire visage blurred heavily for an instant, and when it faded he was left wearing a black silk button down shirt, which was left open to reveal his torso, perfectly cultivated for the swordsmans lith and agile approach to life. He also wore black silk shorts and was left barefoot. He pulled his long braid over his shoulder as he sat and lounged much the same way Kalmuli did. He let out a content sigh as the waterfall blessed the both of them with a refreshing spray of water. He looked over to the beautiful women that invited him to relax. "Your golem is impressive. I take it you are something of an accomplished magic user? "

Kalmuli smirked and rose a hand to adjust her silk robe and push her hair out of her face. "Of course not. This is a holiday house. Make yourself comfortable."She insisted. As much as she could probably have throttled him for tresspassing, she wasn't here to put the domme on someone. It was a time for her to relax and recover. Kalmuli eyed his braid, wondering how far it went down his back. Kalmuli tilted her head in wonder but glanced at him at the mention of her golem, Rocky. "Very much so. I run a multi-planar mage school. My students apprentice at Healing Houses all over the multiverses. I'm on a vacation at the moment after dealing with a travesty."She sighed, picking up the goblet again for another drink. "Rocky is one of ten Rockies that I have here. Being around too many people makes too much noise. Like a shrill violin...but Rocky? He keeps the place tidy for me. He would have made the Starfruit Cocktail too but he cuts them too large. Human hands work better."She explained, making off-hand gestures to her home and to her drink that was already starting to reach the bottom of the goblet. "So what brings you to Weland? Surely you're not here to steal Starfruit out of my Healer's Garden?"

"I thought you had an air about you of a traveler. This planet seems to attract our kind, haha" Avvercus chuckled. "Fate certainly works in strange ways. I wasn't expecting to meet another multi-planar magic user today, over something so silly as star fruit." he said, looking into her eyes after letting his unmasked gaze lazily trail over her body. "I'm on valucre at the behest of the Goddess of Fate. As for weland... I'm afraid I really am here just for star fruit haha." he explained casually. It wasn't often he met someone that he could speak casually with about such things. He played with his braid offhandedly, spinning the last couple inches of it in a circle. "I don't have anything as impressive as a school, but I do take magic students on from time to time at my whim. As well, I belong to an order that has schools across the multiverse that teach martial arts to those with poor fates. This braid is a symbol that I will be the next master when the current one steps down... Or I defeat her. I don't think the former will ever happen haha" he chatted away. Avvercus grabbed the pitcher and refilled his companion's glass. She was definitely an older immortal if she was so casual about the current situation and her state of dress. He also poured himself a glass and shivered in delight after taking a sip. "Ahhh. Star Fruit is my favorite flavor. So, what do you like to do to relax? That's what vacation is all about after all" he smiled. He was getting away with murder here and they both knew it

Kalmuli rolled the glass around, swirling the contents around and looking up at him. He was someone like her...which in her field, finding someone so much like you was like finding a certain kind of needle in a pile of needles. You didn't know someone was a Traveler until they started talking. "Goddess of Fate...must be nice to be a pet. I'm a Weaver under the Patae Fata...I make sure worlds like Valucre stay intact and the stories continue."She explained, taking a sip and letting the goblet rest on her knee. "I have an heir to my fortunes as well...though she will not step into it until my passing...which may be never if I can keep up a track record of not getting killed."She sighed. "Only one who understands the Fates can kill someone like me...sucks for everyone else the moment I get back up on my feet." Kalmuli looked down at her glass, slipping her fingers inside and pulling out a slice of starfruit, sucking on it. "It's nice but I prefer the Frost Berries of my original homeland. They're like minty blueberries."She smiled in nostalgia. Her eyes wandered up to the sky, humming in thought. "Nothing tame mind you...But relaxing on the balcony is one. Hunting and festivals are another. Though my personal hobbies tend to lean toward the darker side. Nothing I would openly discuss with a stranger but who knows..."

"A pet, huh...I suppose that's an apt way to put it. You repair the chains and I link them. I suppose that makes us colleagues, doesn't it? Instruments of Fate. Not a bad role in life I'd say." Avvercus mused, raising his glass in salute before taking a long draught. "I may understand the fates, but you need not worry about me. I'd not lightly turn my blade on someone so beautiful and powerful." he continued, mimicking the elf by extracting a piece of fruit from his drink to chew on. He thought back to hunts on his homeworld of Vulaer and the word relaxing didn't associate with them at all. Monster hunting was the only kind that usually happened there.

"Ho ho, you've got my interest. I suppose I'll have to work on upgrading from 'stranger' to associate. I've already moved up from 'tresspasser' so maybe the prospects aren't too bleak. Thank you for sharing this lovely home with me. To be honest...I need a vacation as well. I have been on the move constantly for...too long." he spoke with a grateful tone. This was far more than he deserved after the way they had met. After draining his first glass, the man sat up to fill it a second time. He looked at Kalmuli and a thought struck him.

"I'd like to thank you properly. Would you like a massage? Ki flow is part of my martial art, and it makes for glorious muscle relaxation." he offered honestly. Sure, laying his hands on such soft looking skin would be wonderful, but he genuinely wanted to provide her with a service as well.

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Kalmuli raised a white eyebrow, finishing her slice of starfruit and chewing it, skin and all. He was an unusual one. Most of her kind that she knew always ended up trying to kill each other somehow...but they would have to wait it out and see. Kalmuli smiled coyly. "Who knows...Granted, we should both know but I don't like looking into my own future unless it's necessary."She shrugged. 

Tilting her head, she muse and set her drink aside. "Well, you went from Trespasser to Bartender to House Guest I suppose. It's a better jump from Trespasser to Dead Trespasser. "She chuckled. "I don't get guests often. Maybe customers for my Fortune Telling work but it's not the same. Customers will try to bribe me, house guests do not."

Kalmuli would rise, bringing her hand to the silk ties of her robe, slipping it off and setting it on the foot of the lounger. There were hooks that kept the back upright that she lifted and leaned it down so it was flat. "I do something similar in my work in the Healing Houses I own. Though, we call it more along the lines of mana instead of ki."She beamed, easing down onto the lounger face down though sitting up on her arms. Kalmuli would click her fingers, the heavy steps of a stone golem echoed through the house, another Rocky appearing with a glass bottle of green-colored oil. "Feel free to use it. It's my concoction for my own purposes. Helps the mana flow from the healer to the recipient easily. Almost like being coated in a blanket of it."

Kalmuli would reach up to the thin straps of her nightgown, shifting it down so it was about around her hips and laid back down with her head on her arms. "Start thanking me...Thank me around the shoulders and lower back mostly."She instructed. "Who knows, you may become an assistant should be become fast friends."

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The swordmage didn't even try to hide the fact he was staring. Rather, he rested his chin on one hand and observed as one might a fine art gallery while Kalmuli readied herself. The drink was unexpectedly strong, and had a taste that hid the fact rather well. The ability to hold his liquor was not something the Acolyte of Fate was known for, and already he felt emboldened and lacking in...inhibitions. He accepted the bottle from the golem, who then wondered off to perform some other task. How useful Rocky was. Perhaps Avvercus should look into making a construct some time.

The 5'9 man straddled his hostess, sitting on the back of her thighs and examining the bottle and the liquid inside.

"I can work with mana as well. That happens to be more my specialty, actually." he said while tugging the line of her gown down just a little bit further to prevent any oil from getting on it. He attached a rune to the glass that heat the contents up to a comfortable temperature and began to dribble it on her supple flesh in measured doses. He set the bottle aside and rubbed his hands together before spreading the liquid across her back and shoulders.

"Ohhh, this is nice. Certainly, this helps the mana flow wonderfully. And...your skin is nice and soft as well. You take good care of yourself I see" he said, flirting a little more than before. Dextrous fingers danced across her shoulders, poking and prodding the muscle beneath with skill. He swirled his mana into her as well, using the flow to relax both her body and spirit.

"You really are tense. Tell me about something that makes you happy. Let's put your mind at ease as well." He whispered into her ear softly while leaning forward and putting more weight into massaging her shoulders and letting his breath tickle the tip of her ear. He leaned back and slid his hand down towards her lower back, brushing the tips against the sides of her swollen breast by accident as he did so. It was an honest mistake, and not a difficult one to make with how large they were.

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Kalmuli sat up little when her gown was moved and he sat on the back of her thighs, easing back into a relaxed pose with her cheek resting across her arms. The warmed oil melted into her back, causing a small, relaxed groan to slip through her throat. Kalmuli let herself relax, slipping out a few sighs. Once in a while she would feel the tail end of his braid tickle her back a little and it was all too tempting to grab it like a frisky feline. "Mmhm...Mmm..."She muttered. "Myeah...self care is a hobby of mine I value highly...In our line of work, taking care of yourself after a stressful time is important."

When he hit a particularly tense spot on her shoulder, she let out a low groan, sinking her face deeper into the skin of her arms, relaxing as the mana and oil melted it away. Tilting her head so she had her cheek on her forearm, Kalmuli hummed again. "What makes me happy..."She mused, her ear flicking at his breath on her ear much like how a cat's ear reacted to being teased. "Mmm...Deep blue seas...high places like cliffs..."She listed, rolling her head back to it's original position. "Fresh, untouched snow..."

Fingers brushed against her breast, making her shift a little though with their size it was hard to really cover them up . Kalmuli sighed. "Ah...The touch of a skilled lover...Not having to take control all the time..."She listed on, her arms moving around so she could sneakily reach up to her shoulder when he was close to her again, seizing the end of his braid and running her fingers. "Ah...long silky hair too. I love the feel of it through my fingers..."

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The one known as Avvercus was an experienced man. Sword, spell, deligation...love. Even so, the squirming, moaning elf beneath his touch was proving too much for his professional capacity to withstand. He worked his magic into her lower back, adjusting to her reactions, picking at each knot until he no longer got a satisfying noise to come out of her. He pressed his thumbs into her back and worked his hands back up, leaning forward again when he got to her shoulders.

Then, she grabbed the braid.

On reaction, the silver-grey haired man let out a moan of his own and trembled slightly as his chest fell to meet her bare skin. He took a deep breath and lifted his head back up to whisper in her ear yet again.

"That's dangerous, Kalmuli. I feel like you're asking me to provide you with some of those happy things. Does that mean I've got enough points to..." he cooed seductively into her ear, his switch completely flipped. He paused mid-sentence to wrap his mouth around the the tip of her ear and nibble on it ever so gently. "...upgrade to associate? Or maybe friend? Perhaps...lover?"

The alcohol swam through the lightweights system by now, sending a nice comfortable buzz into his head. The mood was set and an invitation had practically been given. The two travelers were quickly becoming associated. Perhaps more than one might consider normal...

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Kalmuli moaned and whimpered the more his hands worked until her body locked up when he wrapped his lips around her ear, nibbling away. She bit her lip, pushing up against him. "Now, now...let's not get that complicated..."She whispered to him. "Bed buddies would be more appropriate."

Kalmuli would release his braid, letting it drop onto her shoulder and pushing the top part of her body upwards so she was craned up, looking over at him with a heated look. "Now...do you want to show me what your Goddess of Fate has blessed you with?"

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The two shared a fun, casual moment under the sun in the garden. Quite an intimate way to get to know one another to be certain, but both were laid back individuals that were more than comfortable playing around with strangers. Regardless, they proved to be fairly compatible with one another, and a kinship of a sort was struck. The actual massage would have continued, but the two were a bit...messy.

And so, Avvercus found himself chest deep in what many would call a swimming pool, rather than a bath. Marble pillars lined the walls of the room, which was filled with a thin mist that smelled of chamomile. Avvercus sat between Kalmuli's legs and leaned back against her impressive chest. She was washing his hair, scrubbing at the scalp in the most blissful way one could imagine and playing with his unbraided locks. The two were as relaxed as can be.

"Ah, heavenly. You are wonderful at this, Kalmuli." he said with a voice that was clearly pleased. He gave her left thigh an appreciative pat and stared out the balcony opening to the cloudless blue sky beyond. Today was a great day. His buzz the drink from earlier had instilled was continued to go strong, and he had a beautiful women attending to him. How could it not be?

"Would you like to braid it for me when we are done bathing?"

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