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such shaping fantasies;

 

[ Coth: Ópera ston Aéra ]

 

There is nothing more to be said about the matter of the documents, and so Míra simply nods at Wally’s statement and sends for her secretary stationed in Coth to draw up the papers. Cleo is a tiny mouse of a girl, slight and willowy, but she has the makings of a genius, whiz-head on those scrawny shoulders. As a furious paper storm brews in the far corner of the room, Míra shifts her attention to the draconian leaning against the windowsill, wonders what exactly is going on in that scale-covered brain of his.

Wally begins to speak again, laying out the foundation of his plans for his troupe and the opera house itself when their eyes meet and catch on each other, and—

It rather comes all of a sudden to her, like a matchstick strike to a flame, that despite the primordial form of the man before her, there within the animalistic body, housed by scaly walls and slitted windows lies a mind that works beyond the capacity of most. It’s a realization that rather humbles her, if anything.

"The secret to a well-told lie, which is basically all acting and plays and entertainment are right? Is to be specific, and to be sincere."

Míra smiles at that, gaze twinkling with knowing mirth; there are many ways to lie, but she quite likes this elucidation as well. Why else would she be in the realm of cultural, artistic pursuits if not for this very reason, this very secret held by those who wear masks for a living and get paid for it?

"Is there anything you can tell me about the people of Coth I can use as emotional ammo?"

Her gaze skitters across the desk, eyebrows scrunched up in thought as she considers the question. “I suppose I haven’t been here too long to consider myself well-versed with the people of Coth, but I imagine they would enjoy something more, let’s say—adventurous. Bold, daring, the core of fantasy,” Míra muses, eyes growing unfocused as she collects her thoughts, focus pointed towards the imaginative endeavor. “Or perhaps something that relates to their religion or their history; as deeply attached as the people are to each other and to their god, they might appreciate something that celebrates such devotion.”

 


 

@supernal @jaistlyn @Grimmholt

 

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[Coth: The Tavern, after sunset]

 “We are people, just like they are. Equally good, equally bad?”

 Another illuminating statement on the bard’s concept of herself was tucked away with another mote of concern. Did she ever once consider herself to be a person? Yet before Ioreth could grant her an affirmation and tease more information from Odille, the atmosphere in the tavern tightened with tension. Conversion and the clatter of spoons scraping against bowls and mugs slamming down on the table vanished. In the vacuum of sudden silence, Mark’s confrontation with the newcomer fills the void.

 A snarl---”creature?”---, a shove, and she observed with a gaze like stone as the young man staggered backwards, his hood revealing the coppery tint of his hair.

 It was as if something within Odille shattered at the sight of his scarlet hair. She moved with the instinct of a frightened animal, clawing its way out of danger’s grasp though all Ioreth saw was an arrogant man in a serf’s hooded cloak approaching them with a sneer of hatred.

 How easy it is to snap a hare’s neck. Ioreth thought of a hunt in Coth's forests, of the way a hare’s heart clattered against its frail ribs, its muscles twitching beneath its red tinged pelt, ensnared in a trap, the unspoken prayer she recited when life left its lungs. At least a hare earned her gratitude.

 This man, though? The moment he pushed past her to grab Odille’s arm as though he were claiming the girl he earned her disgust.

 Without touching the red headed man, Ioreth inserted herself between Odille and his grasping hands after the girl’s thrashing caused him to stumble back and knelt in the thrush, hay and dirt staining her knees. Shadows pulsed around her and twisted into a smoky haze of a barrier that sliced off the man’s access to Odille. Ioreth ignored him entirely; ignored his outcries, his warnings, and his demands. As far as she was concerned, he was nothing but dust beneath her heel.

 The poor girl’s wailings did nothing to assuage that opinion. “What did he do to you, little bird?” she murmured in her own tongue, the question lilting like a lullaby. A cool hand was lightly placed upon Odille’s forehead, her thumb pressing gently on the space between her eyes with the hum of violet-white light. Wake up, it said, a spell meant to soothe the pain of Odille’s racing heart. There is no trap. You are not caught. “Odille, focus. Should I take you to the back of the inn?”

@LikelyMissFortune

Edited by KittyvonCupcake

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 “What did he do to you, little bird?”

Though she did not understand, the tone was soothing. It calmed her heart, easing it away, just enough for her to be able to breathe- again. 

Still, panic ran hot in her gut, threatening to split her in half if they even so much a moved. But, slowly, she notices a ripple- a violet tint separating her from angry hair, and accusatory, flaming eyes.

“Odille, focus. Should I take you to the back of the inn?”

The kind elf asks once more, Odille gazes at her, almost daze- she should be scared, of the anger roiling in her eyes, in the stance she adopts. It ripples in her muscles, but it likely isn't directed at Odille, so she shakes her head.

"Heathen!" Someone screeched, an odd voice, trying to sound masculine when fear ate away and cracked the very foundation of his words. 

Even Odille could tell this much. 

"Do you not see this? Do you not see how the creatures gather and pray to their dark gods." He clamored on, the Elf withdrew, backing herself up against the wall. She couldn't breathe, nor could she see, tears blurring her view- leaving scorching, shameful paths down her cheeks. "Why do you live with these creatures? God has made us their superiors! Are you people blind?"

Billy maneuvered around the table, eyes trained on the creature he would've used to gain that ten acre land her Father had promised; once he's had the unpleasant business of having a pup with her first. Then, he would've ended her miserable, evil existence. 

"They're like Chattle! Like the Cows and Pigs and are eve worse than the Goats, their tiny brains can only plot against us." He slobbered some more, spittle flying from a small, wet mouth. "Like Goats! only worse."

A mercy, no suffering, not much of it.

Then, the bitch ran, escaping him even as they pursued her. Having somehow enchanted and stolen a horse, an evil creature Rothbart should've gotten rid of in infancy.

"It's a thief," he declared, sneering at that terrified expression. Good, she should be terrified. He had a lot in mind for her, when they get back- it'd be too easy to just kill her. 

"Ask her! She's a thief and a liar!"

@KittyvonCupcake

Edited by LikelyMissFortune

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[CoTH]

It had come to pass that that fateful night did end.  Two months prior you'd have found The Green Knight baring his thorns against a band of brigands who sought to take the town for all it's riches (not that it had much anyway).  In his efforts to prevent a young boy from getting himself killed, Tirkas found his way to a small flaming cottage, only to watch as Ruska threw himself within to save a girl.

Helena was her name, and she had been the focus of the boy's affection to his ultimate detriment.  She survived the ordeal, but he did not.  This was a point of shame for the elf, because his goal that evening hadn't been to fight anyone.  It had been to see the boy and his love to safety.  Instead he was left with a simple reminder that the folly of youth must be tampered with the wisdom of age, lest it snuff itself out.

Tirkas erected a small monument, in the manner of his people, to the deceased boy Ruska.  A sapling, srouted and encouraged with Tirkas' druidic magic, stood atop the site where the boy had been buried.  An object of personal value had been embedded in the tree trunk, where it would eventually be consumed by the growing wood over time.  A rough, unshapen piece of emerald.  This had been a prize that Tirkas and Ruska had competed against eachother to recieve.  This seemed a fitting use for it.  For a time, the grass around this grave would always seem to grow a little bit greener.

In the mornings, it wasn't unusual for Tirkas to visit this site and reflect on his deeds the previous day.  He sought to keep himself along a narrow path laid before him by god, and that required discipline.  Reminding himself of his failures was only the first step.  Today was a bit different, though.  Tirkas had been given a new task, one which he still didn't grasp the full gravity of.  He was supposed to recruit someone in the village, an outsider like himself.

Tirkas had been told of his new calling some days ago, but still he had yet to actually approach the individual in question.  The only information given to him about this man was that he was strong, and that he might be receptive to god's light in the coming days.  Ultimately, The God of the Green Flame would not force someone into his worship, they had to submit willingly, so this task was one of the very most sacred in Tirkas' view.  He was being trusted with the immortal soul of another.

By about mid morning, Tirkas had finished his morning meditations.  He was done ruminating on his task, and today he felt he understood it well enough to proceed.

Now all he had to do was find the guy.

Tirkas understood he worked with the guard, so that was where he would start.  The guardhouse.

@Fennis Ursai

 

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  [Coth: the Tavern, after sunset]

  The mightier Odille’s unwelcome visitation from the past attempted to sound, the harder Ioreth had to grapple with the urge to laugh. It was one thing to be called a heathen—an accurate assessment, truly, in god’s chosen village—but to be compared to a goat? She rose to her feet and allowed the barrier to drop, granting the man one sidelong glance before she readjusted the furs around her shoulders. 

  “Many of us here are liars and thieves, boy, myself included.” Once more, the red headed man was dismissed as she turned to address the tavern’s patrons, each onlooker illustrating varying portraits of concern and bafflement. “The good Father has granted us forgiveness, though, has he not?” Her question coaxed a few nods and murmurs of assent. She smiled her cold, sharp smile at Billy. “Yet here you are, harassing one of god’s people and twisting god’s word to suit your own delusions. I made a pledge to the Father to record and protect your god’s message. Nowhere have I heard mention of the superiority of mankind over elvish folk, unless you claim to know something more than god’s chosen.”

  Grumbles of disdain rumbled in the room, the remnants of confusion shifting towards displeasure. Ioreth’s hand drifted to the small of her back and grasped the handle of a hunting dagger she kept sheathed at her belt, her thoughts shifting from hares to goats.

  “The good Father may forgive you for terrorizing a member of his parish and for using the word of god in a perverse manner, but he is not here.” With a flash of silver and a movement like a viper striking prey, Ioreth sliced off a fistful of Billy’s copper hair and returned her dagger to its resting place. “am here, instead, and it is not my duty to forgive.” Strands of red peeked out from the grasp of her slender fingers. She held up her hand to idly study the way the sheen of his hair seized and reflected the nearby candlelight’s glow. Touch me, hissed the arch of her back and the tilt of her head, and you shall burn. 

  “Odille,” she purred, “can you show me where the kitchen is?” Billy’s hair was stashed away in one of her belt’s pouches, settling in with spare nibs for her pen and an engraved ring. Her journal and tome were gathered up and nestled into the crook of her arm, and she leaned in towards the subject of her enmity to softly snarl, “It would be wise to leave now.”

@LikelyMissFortune

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[ Coth: Ópera ston Aéra ]

 

It smelled of newly lacquered wood and baked pastries. Dash sat in one of the wooden chairs in the outdoor theatre and lifted his legs to the back of the seat in the next row. He leaned back on his hands leisurely. “Hmph. Not a bad stage, for such a small town. Somewhat of a waste, actually. Can they even fill’er up for the show?” The actor gazed at the stage and imagined himself up there, wowing a rather sparse audience. Not very impressive, actually. Why did Walmart choose this backwards town for their next show? The Silver Screen was growing, and needed more high-profile locations to propel them further into the limelight. Though, for their new screen production, Coth was the perfect place to get some shots of country life. Maybe that’s what they’d do. Maybe he’ll even bring it up to Wally, if he remembered to.

If there was one thing he was looking forward to, it was teaching that girl - Thea. She was different from the other girls who swooned over him, and he was intrigued. There was also her actor friend who rubbed him the wrong way. He would have some fun showing him who the better actor was. Dash swung his legs down from the chair, planted them firmly on the ground and rubbed his hands together.

It was time to start work. 

@supernal @vielle @Grimmholt

Edited by jaistlyn

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The mood of the room changed with the every vile word that dripped from the creature; a strange thing with horrendous, heathen symbols etched into it's skin. Billy grimaced at every word, wishing now that he had harkened to the Tavern owner's words when they found that mare mare dead.

Let her go.

Let her go? Never.

How could he face the village if he left now.

"You liar." He couldn't help but hiss, hurling the word at her as he would stone- and a knife was drawn from his back. "How can we trust your ilk with putting down God's words accurately you slatt--" His words were cute off when the Silver one drew her blade, lunging forward to grasp his head. 

Billy couldn't help the guttural scream that left him when the thought of his life perishing before one of their blades crossed his mind. He fell to his knees, embarrassed if nothing else- the laughter of the tavern folk ringing in his ears. 

He had screamed, worse than what he dreamt he would've made her squeel.

Probably another trick from the hateful, spiteful little beings. Towering mightily over him, as though they were taunting him to catch them off gourd, it was all he could hear in the hollow of his mind. 

To make them humble, to make them realize their place in the world.

They were worse than nothing.

Perhaps then, the taller, more outlandish creature moved to help his runaway bride up; uttered a few small words, softly, to her. Which seemed to calm her, rejuvenated, Odille looked as though she were getting ideas from the humiliation cast on him by that loathsome creature.

So, when she did move, as per a request; snarled by that slattern- Billy took the opportunity to lunge at her ankles. His dinner knife gleaming menacingly in the firelight.

@KittyvonCupcake

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"The religion angle."

Wally considered it, eyes continuing to probe Coth.

"It can play real nice to the right kind of crowd. I think you're right and we got that here, but ain't one of their major figures alive still, and living here? We'd have to work real close with them and I gotta tell you, it don't take much before someone starts thinking they're a playwright and telling us what to do rather than just answering our questions about what it's all about."

He threw up a few cons to the idea but had not entirely dismissed it. Perhaps it didn't need to be entirely evangelical – they could weave a few significant symbols throughout the milieu, significant to the learned but inobtrusive when it came to the overarching story, perhaps even threw in a few juicy quotes or parables from their holy book.

If inspiration failed to strike his writers while they were immersed in the culture, then the standard operating procedure would be to go with what they had which might fit the bill, whatever story all of the actors knew good enough to pull off. The stage was small, and new, and situated in a podunk; there was only so much wrong they could do.

But . . . there was potential here to do a lot more here than simply fail small. They could, for example, fail spectacularly.

"They got a book or scrolls or something?"

(OOC: End individual, so no need to respond unless you really want to! Plan on posting with Wally, or another char, again around where Dash is on my next turn. See you there?!)

@vielle @jaistlyn @Grimmholt

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[ Ioreth's Cabin, after Sunset] 

Myth entered the cabin, her arms around Dorian's neck. It wasn't a large place, but if felt homey, and it smelt like herbs and smoke. Dorian was much too large to be inside the front room, but Mythandriel didn't want her outside, especially with whatever hung that deer up on the door still outside. She slowly led the Elk deeper into the home, loving the feeling of the fire that roared in the fireplace, with dried herbs hanging from the mantle. It's been quite a while since she's been inside a home like this. It felt so warm. She liked it quite a bit. Now that she was safe inside her cousins home, she felt the pain in her feet. She removed her arms from Dorian's neck, and reached down to remove the boots that were basically just scraps of hide at this point. As she pulled off her footwear, gravel escaped through the many holes in the soles, and she picked tiny rocks out from between her toes. 

She inspected the bottom on her feet, and she winced at the sight. They were cracked and bleeding, her skin dry and worn. Once her barefeet touched the wooden floors, she turned them onto the sides, so that her soles didn't touch the ground. Dorian however, was very intrigued by being inside. She was sticking her nose in pots, sniffling plants, her curious sniffer making sure it covered every surface. 

"Hey, don't eat any of those. Ioreth is being very generous letting us sleep here. We don't want to already outstay our welcome." Myth scolded gently, and the Elk just snorted, letting her know that she had heard her. Myth giggled at this response, and patted the Elk's bottom gently as she looked around. She walked around the living area, looking at the stove and kitchen ware closely. She grabbed a frying pan, and turned it over in her hands. What sort of thing was this? She walked over to the oven, and opened the door, and peered inside. What was this thing used for? She shook her head as she shut the door to the oven, and turned her back to see Dorian settling in front of the fire, taking up a lot of the space on one of the rugs Ioreth had on the floor. Myth walked over to the elk, and reached into one of her pouches that she had around her waist. She grabbed some bandages, and started wrapping them around one of Dorian's ankles. 

"Good girl Dorian." She cooed gently. She felt horrible about having the creature pull that cart with a sprained ankle. It'd be best if she stayed off of it for a few days, and having it bound should help her heal quicker. She tied the bandages off, and kissed the elk's forehead, letting her get cozy in front of the fire as she went off to explore the rest of the cabin. There were only two more rooms. A door was cracked open, so she didn't feel too guilty about peeking inside. 

There was a large bed set up against the wall, and it was neatly made, but the rest of the room however, was a disaster. There were clothes strewn about everywhere, crumpled papers, and piles upon piles of books took up most of the space. There were empty wine bottles placed upon the top of a dresser, and unopened ones sitting by the bed. There was a horrendously tangled pile of necklaces hanging on a hook, and what was supposed to be a wine glass filled with pebbles and broken rings just sitting in the middle of the floor. She blinked, and then shut the door. She didn't want to look in there anymore, it gave her anxiety. 

There was one last room, and as she reached for the handle, she noticed a dim light from underneath the door, and saw some shadows dance across the light, and she immediately withdrew her hand. There was no need to disturb that room, whatever her cousin had in there, was not for her eyes. Mythandriel's eyes were heavy, and she brought up her hand to attempt to rub the sleepiness away from them, but was unsuccessful. She was very tired. She walked back out towards the living area, and saw that Dorian was already asleep, and Myth smiled softly. She grabbed a crotcheted blanket off an armchair, and went to crawl beside the Elk. Dorian woke for a moment and drug Myth close to her, by gently yanking her hair. Myth chuckled at this, and Dorian wrapped herself around the elf, and Myth draped the blanket over them both. Mythandriel's head settled in Dorian's neck fur, breathing in the musky scent of  her dear friend. It wasn't long before she drifted off to sleep, her weary and beaten feet poking out from under the blanket. 

@KittyvonCupcake

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 [Coth: the Tavern, after sunset]

  Violet and shadows and the twilight of stars too far to glimpse through the haze of the sky’s protective veil—this is what once more separated Billy from what he thought to be his. All it required was little nudge of push to the small of Odille’s back to provide enough space for another barrier, though there was a stark difference between the two. Before, whispers of night were woven for Odille’s protection.

  Now, Ioreth remained on Billy’s side of the wall.

  The candlelight nearby them went out. Billy dropped his knife and Ioreth placed one foot on its handle, both a precaution and a taunt.

  “You skitter on the floor like an insect.” While Odille caught a glimpse of the predator that lurked beneath the scholar, she had not witnessed the haughty loathing, the disgust, nor the calm and quiet hunger. And it was perhaps a blessing that the girl could not see in the dark as well her distant nocturnal brethren, for the ink stains on Ioreth’s fingertips appeared eerie in the sudden gloom. “And you try to attack a meek young girl while her back is turned.”

  Guided by her boot, the knife slid further out of his reach. “Go crawl back to your home.” A light kick pushed it through the fading wall of her barrier, and she reached back into the pouch of her belt with Billy’s hair. A clipping of copper gave an unearthly pulse in her hand and there was an ache, a sensation of warning that would have twinged in Billy’s bones. What she had in mind would have been easier with a vial of his blood, yet Ioreth had the inclination of what was an acceptable tradition amongst her people would have been frowned upon amongst the Cothites. It would have to be hair and the hope that proper supplies could be found in the kitchen and the rubbish heap out back.

  “I grow weary of your bleating,” she remarked, a light stress placed upon the final word. Her eyes met the glowering looks of men that frequented the tavern, fond of Odille’s songs, the barkeep’s, and a blacksmith’s. She looped her tattooed arm through Odille’s, less of a gesture to demonstrate familiarity than as a way to propel the bard away from the young man before the last remnants of his shredded pride urge him to perform another stupid task. “Should you forget where the door lies,” she smirked over her shoulder, “there are men here that can assist you with finding it.”

@LikelyMissFortune

  

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such shaping fantasies;

 

[ Coth: Ópera ston Aéra ]

 

Forget about paving a way for Jude Sinclair to return to the stage. If he refuses to stop doing that annoying tickling thing with that stupid blade of grass, he is going home, talent be damned.

“Stop it,” Thea growls, swiping at the intruding green thing hovering mere inches from the curve of her ear, attached to a masculine hand she might soon bite off, if it doesn’t stop any time soon. “Can’t you see I’m writing? Go find someone else to annoy, idiot.”

As she shifts her gaze back to the papers strewn about on the wood of a little corner of the stage, half-filled with her chicken scrawl detailing some story ideas that had come to her on the journey to Coth, Jude leans over and peers down at the writing she has done so far, his expression caught between indifference and boredom. “This is for the play?”

“Yes, and I would appreciate it if you’d just stick your nose somewhere else and not in my very-much-unfinished work, alright?”

Jude responds with a shrug, moving away to settle down somewhere a bit farther away, watching the workmen hammer down some fixtures onto the stage with a critical gaze. It annoys her, how artful he can make the position of Casually Sprawled appear, as if he had stepped off an aristocratic party and had subsequently rolled onto the floor of an outdoor stage out in what seems to be the middle of the wilderness.

It’s quite idyllic out here, Thea thinks, gazing out at the rolling hills and rampant greenery stretching out to the horizon. A far cry from the glitzy, urban establishments they had frequented before their involvement with the Silver Spoons, but altogether fitting, if this is to be the starting point of their eventual long road to fame—or in Jude’s case, back to fame, rather.

After a while, Thea notices Dash getting to his feet somewhere in the vicinity of the chairs in the audience. “Hey, Mr. Williams,” she calls out, sticking a hand in the air and waving wildly to catch the blonde’s attention, before wordlessly beckoning him forward to the stage. Something in Jude’s gaze flickers at the sight of the man, but he otherwise rolls over without further comment, lying on his back and closing his eyes as he warms himself in the sun like a particularly lethargic cat.

 


 

@supernal @jaistlyn @Grimmholt

 

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Odille does not quite like the look on Billy's face.

It's contortions are made hideous with the a blush the rivals his hair in its rudiness, he had almost sliced her feet off. There was a barrier, between her and him, and she had tears in her eyes. It wasn't clear whether it was from shock or relief. Or the kindness that Ioreth had so readily show a stranger. One that had stalked the woman for months, at that.

Her thoughts were jumbled, to the point she isn't quite sure what to do until Ioreth loops her arm around Odille's and they make their way through the kitchen.

"... That's Billy." She started, her voice catching as she witnesses Mark, hauling Billy up by his arm. The man looked os frightened, almost like Odille was of him. 

There were so many eyes on her.

Her thoughts left her, and all she could think of was the face of the inn keep- hatred and disgust swirling in them.

Odille had ruined it again. She had caused trouble, and now, this was her punishment. 

She forces her gaze onto the floor after that, one foot in front of the other- embarrassed, guilty and ashamed at herself. She should've just remained in the little farm, with Bess and the other cows. Be treated almost like them.

No Father, I won't marry Billy. 

Stumbling into the kitchen, she almost crumples. It was warm, too warm, perhaps-and she almost crumples to the floor; panic ebbing, leaving despair and sickness in its wake.

"I'm so sorry for that, Elf Ioreth. I am so sorry."

She isn't able to hold out for long. 

@KittyvonCupcake

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  Whatever events occurred that within the main body of the tavern ceased to be of Ioreth’s concerns the moment they crossed the threshold of the kitchen. She basked in the warmth radiating from the formidable stone oven used for the tavern’s endless supply of heavenly baked bread. Flour flecked the butcher block counters. Bags of potatoes leaned in the corner with sacks of flour on the shelf above. A broom leaned against a barrel of apples. Dried herbs hung from the ceiling, bunches of tied rosemary and cascading braids of garlic silent and ready to be gathered for the next meal. A bundle of carrots, long and thin, claimed counter space by a single winter rose, a gift for the scullery maid that was currently gaping at Ioreth and Odille, her freshly washed pot abandoned to the floor with clunk.

  “Dilly, are you—“

  Ioreth cut her off with a sweep of her and rattle of the silver bracelets around her wrist. “Out,” she said, sparing no attention towards the rosy cheeked girl as she rifled through the collection of dried herbs and eyed a freshly killed pheasant ready to be butchered. A toe, perhaps? Or the eye? The maid found it best to slip out through the back door, parting with a sympathetic smile at Odille and another questioning glance at the lady elf now sniffing through the salted meats. 

  The click of the door brought Ioreth away from venison and back to the bard. 

  Odille appeared as though she may vomit, cry, faint, or some combination of the three. A deep ache cracked through her apology, one that made Ioreth put down the butcher’s knife on the counter and come closer to her side.

  “Why apologize for that...” No insult in the common tongue adequately surmised her feelings for Billy, causing her to delve into her own language. “That asal’a har iffrin.”

  Loosely translated, it referred to Billy as an accursed flea from the seven hells. Even without a foundational knowledge in Duendaic insults, the way it was spat out expressed her sentiment in a sufficient fashion. 

  “What is there to be sorry for? What happened with Billy was his choice, not yours. He is the one that filled his mind with shit, not you.” Once more, Billy’s hair was pulled from its pouch. Ioreth pressed it into Odille’s hand. “Let me give you a choice: do you want me to ensure that he can never try to harm you again?”

@LikelyMissFortune  

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There's a sweet, familiar voice- the lightness so jarring from dark event that had transpired, just outside.

Odille could very well have cried out at that, at the familiar rosy face, gaping at both Ioreth and Odille. Her's was the first truly charitable faces he saw in Coth, Spade was her name and was the first to try and coax Odille out of her shell. As she does now, abandoning a pot that was scorched black, in a daze, she picks up the disconcerting scent of some sort of burnt meat and fat. Spade was always so careless with making sure things didn't boil over and burn, Odille had stayed up, wordlessly helping the maid out- what a sweet, careless girl she was. 

She didn't want to leave Spade, she didn't want Spade to leave her.

"Out." Ioreth commanded, and she was, out. 

Slipping, wordlessly behind a back door, a smile aimed at Odille- worry marked her far older than what cold reddened cheeks betrayed her as.

The worry was, perhaps, not misplaced. Ioreth rummaged through the inn's kitchens in a way that it reminded her of the foxes that would steal into her Father's hen house. In the morning there would be blood, and at worst Odille wouldn't be let out for weeks. There was always trouble after that, and she winced, thinking of the pitiful, pathetic person Billy had been reduced to.

All because of Ioreth, all because of an elf.

Perhaps, they were not an ill-omen after all.

Still, the turbulence in her belly would not be quelled so easily by revelations; Odille would've heaved onto the ground were it not for the sinking feeling that if she did make it onto the ground, she'd bury herself right in the kitchen before anything could be done about it. 

The clatter of a dropped butcher's knife heralded Ioreth's approach, welcome now. It was so welcome. How had Odille stayed away from one of her own for so long? The urge to disappear beneath the earth vanished, and she stood a little steadier. Her shoulders a little less hunched, and her hands were no longer digging into rough hewn sleeves. God when had she done that?

A choice was presented, by Ioreth, and a clump of ginger hair made wince- a scream trapped forcefully in her throat. She wouldn't cry, not for Billy or Rothbart, not again. So much had been gained, she could not return and she knew he'd return had he any choice in the matter. 

Surely, he'd succeed in dragging her back eventually.

"Yes," She said, finally, but there was a surety in her voice that had been lacking for so long.

@KittyvonCupcake

Edited by LikelyMissFortune

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[Coth: The Tavern, evening]  

The closest that Ioreth ever came to praise was this: the upturned corners of her mouth, the way one hand dragged a fingertip across her tattooed bottom lip and chin before it tapped twice against the side of her jaw, the appraising look as her eyes swept over Odille and seemed to find something satisfactory within her. It could be better, that sphinx’s smile said, but it is a decent beginning. To coddle, she felt, was to weaken. Though she offered no outward affirmation beyond a silent and shallow nod, she seemed pleased with Odille’s choice.

  “I need three bunches of rosemary and a bowl of salt. Could you find that for me, valea?”

  There were simpler ways to teach a predatory individual a lesson. There were brutal tactics, shattered knee caps and broken fingers. Ioreth thought grimly of the way her brother would remove a tooth from the bounties he was hired to fetch—a warning, a trophy, and a mark all wrapped into one. There were social based efforts, like public shaming and humiliation, yet she feared this would only convince a man like Billy that he was ever more justified in his possessiveness towards Odille and hatred towards elves. It was a story with an unhappy ending. 

  What would Constans do? Ioreth wondered as she moved away from Odille to inspect a wooden bowl left behind on the counter. Talk to him? Beseech him to the see the truth? She ran her finger along the remnants of grease still clinging to the inside of the bowl and frowned. It may have worked, yet Billy may have had enough matter vibrating within that thick ginger skull to manipulate the priest’s good heart into believing that forgiveness redeemed him before he slinked back to Odille’s quarters and attacked her in her sleep. No, it was best to handle this her way.

  And her way involved transforming Billy into a goat. 

  Theoretically, it was possible to take elements from origin curses of lycanthropy and basic transmutation to cast a hex of this nature, yet it admittedly was outside of Ioreth’s usual area of expertise. Plants were easier to alter. A human was touch more complex.

  Ioreth let out a steady sigh, checked the fire still crackling cheerfully in its fireplace, and turned her head towards Odille. “Stay inside,” she said, “and keep anyone else out of the kitchen.” She grabbed the empty bowl and glided over to the kitchen’s back entrance, steeling herself for both the cold and the task that drew her outside. 

  It was a quiet night, clear and crisp in the moonlit frost. The tavern had regained its contented buzzing, still audible outside its thick walls, and Ioreth’s footsteps crunched in the packed crust of snow. She was not the only creature to stir in the winter night; a barn owl with a mouse in its talons gave out a hoot, and there was the distinct sound of cloved hooves digging through the tavern’s compost heap in the back.

  This particular goat belonged to no man and was quite clear about the nature of his independence. Any ill-advised attempts to pet his coarse white hair were met with an ominous deep rumble from his throat before he attempted to slam his horns into your belly. He would appear in the night to trample one half of a Cothite’s flower garden and eat one half of their vegetable garden, somehow impervious to any traps laid in place or fences erected to keep him out. He once had menaced Sonia the baker for three days because she refused to yield over a freshly baked loaf of herb bread. He also liked to eat paper.

  Ioreth approached him with a cautious intent. One hand carried the bowl, and the other went to her hunting knife as she crept forward, tensed like a mountain lion seeking its prey. Despite her efforts, despite her smell obscured by the pile of rotting vegetation, the goat knew she was there. He knew. He lifted his head and watched her impassively through the horizontal slits of his golden eyes, wholly unimpressed with her. Get on with it already, he seemed to say, flicking his ear as he grunted out a meh. She drew close enough to rest a hand on his bony shoulders and scratch the side of his neck. I hate you, said his flat maaahhh. 

  “Sorry, goat,” murmured the elf as her knife met his throat and his blood was collected into the bowl. She stroked his forehead and held him steady as life left the cantankerous old animal. With a glance at the steam rising from the bowl’s crimson contents, it became clear that perhaps it would be best to conceal the goat’s remains somewhere out of sight from the Cothites. The forest would be a proper place a creature with no man-given name, to be granted back to the wilderness and her hungry children. It would have to happen later, though. For now, Ioreth only had the time to lay the goat’s body down by his favorite heap of decomposing garbage. She cleaned her blade in the snow and used the skirt of her dress to wipe it dry before sheathing it once more.

  Odille may have understood Billy’s fear of dark elvish gods when Ioreth returned from the depths of a winter night with a bowlful of warm blood and a predatory intensity. The smile she gave the bard was not the soft one of Lady-Scholar Ioreth. It had a mischief intermingled with a grim resolution. It was the way fae smiled before they left behind a changeling child in exchange for a human babe. 

  “I am going to turn Billy into a goat,” she purred, setting the bowl of blood down onto the counter. She found the salt Odille fetched and began to create a triangle on the floor with two large and one small circular vertices. The blood was placed in the smaller circle, and rosemary lined one of the larger. “When you feel he has learned his lesson,”—or when Constans has a fit—“I can change him back. Would you pass me his hair, please?”

@LikelyMissFortune

  

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