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Voldemort

To Lose A Star

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Arthur sat with his legs folded underneath him in a lotus position, resting atop a grey canvas ground cloth and underneath the shade of a similarly colored tarp. It didn't block out the sun for darkness always fell upon Yh'mi (a fact that the mage was only starting to get used to after a few days in Inns'th), but rather that some sort of makeshift shelter afforded the alchemist a modicum of privacy among the camps that made up a majority of the small settlement. As long as the black mage kept his tarp in a C-wedge as opposed to a lean-to, the various strangers around him wouldn't make the assumption that he was a merchant, or presume that he was willing to share his supplies with others.

Arthur was lost in thought, his fiery eyes scanning over his outstretched (yet incomplete) bedroll and the plethora of items that were sprawled across its surface. It was all of his equipment for the coming foray into the untamed wilds of Yh'mi. His sword, Bogatyr, was laid lengthwise across the bedroll, its wicked black blade blending in with the shadows. Next to it was the mage's wizard staff, a long pole of ash with a poleaxe head affixed to one end and a sharp point on the other. Similarly, Arthur's bedroll temporarily housed tools like his hatchet and curved saw, his assortment of cordage of various lengths, food wrapped in ensorcelled paper of preservation, his armor, two sheathed knives, his sizable rucksack laid empty, his cookware (a small pot and frying pan), mess kit, extra clothes, the tent pegs that weren't already in use, fifty feet of rope, a lantern, wax candles, two waterskins, his harness and pouches, supply of magical and alchemical reagents, other miscellaneous items (like his alchemy equipment), and over a dozen bundles of small sticks tied together with cordage. The mage collected the sticks personally outside of Inns'th, knowing that there wouldn't be any way to light a campfire otherwise for much of the journey south, and knowing that there was deadly need for illumination in Yh'mi.

Even for those like Arthur who could see perfectly in the darkness.

"How long do you think we'll have to wait?" the mage asked his leshen friend with an amused grin, carving a new spoon with one of his knives as his eyes glanced down a distinct piece of parchment. Though it seemed like Arthur wanted to ward away guests, they were actually expecting some unknown employer. The mage and Cabbage had spent their first couple of days gathering information and getting a lay of the land. Today, however, they'd been pointed to the bulletin board and Arthur was drawn to a particular posted note. An anonymous poster was seeking companions to travel to the Whitewoods in search of a runaway sorcerer and a stolen lantern on behalf of the Order of the White Hand. And while the job itself was interesting, what had piqued Arthur's difference had nothing to do with the note itself. Underneath the writing, a magic circle was carefully drawn onto the parchment and the paper seemed to hum minutely with arcane energy. The alchemist took the notice and walked straight back to his and Cabbage's camp, as he knew well that their potential employer could track them via a simple sympathetic binding.

"Hopefully soon, I'm running out of things to carve and dead wood to carve with," Arthur added with a low chuckle, focused on shaving away unnecessary parts of his new spoon.

@Akako Akari @Spooky Mittens @Fierach

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The faint orange glow cast upon dark canvas walls trembled as if an invisible force disturbed the small flame of a single candle. It was disconcerting how dark it was. It was always so dark here. Even the place of nightmares had sunlight on occasion, but here, in Inns'th, it was impossible even to know what time it was. For all anyone knew, it could be the middle of the day or the middle of the night at any given time. 

She had no idea what time it was as she hunched over a piece of paper, ink brush in hand. A small well with black ink was off to her side while she neatly painted various shapes within a circle. The thick scent of smoke filled the small space as incense and herbs burned. Undisturbed by the aroma, the woman continued her work, mumbling an incantation low on her breath, the arcane words were but a whisper that was swallowed by the darkness. Her left hand loosely cupped a blue calcite stone and on a dark smudge of dried blood marred creamy skin from her index finger to her palm yet there was no injury.

There was a low hum as her energy localized within her tent, and the spell was completed. Opening her eyes, the woman looked at her handiwork for the first time upon completion. Lips upturned into a hint of a smile, and she tore the sheet in half before neatly folding one side and tucking it into the top of her corset. Flipping the other half over, the woman wrote a note seeking assistance on a venture beyond The Wall.  She afforded no information as to who she was or where to find her. The right individual(s) would undoubtedly pluck the page from the board. 

A few days later, the piece of parchment was indeed taken from the bulletin, and the sympathetic binding pulled her to them. From behind the alchemist, a petite figure garbed in black with a hood pulled over their head approached. Her face was hidden beneath the shadows of her cloak, and there was a strange item clutched against her chest. From afar, it looked like a little girl, but up close, it seemed far more sinister. A porcelain doll dressed in a grey colored frock with a ghostly white face and dark blue eyes was held almost lovingly. It was dirty, this doll, and her eyes appeared almost human and seemed to follow one's movement. Her lips were dark, nearly black in appearance, and her hair was dirty and matted in placed while others retained their luster. 

Across the hooded figured shoulder was evidence of a haversack. Whoever it was, was prepared to travel. It could easily be assumed that this stranger was the potential employer, and that was only punctuated when she came around the tarp and to pause just outside of it. The person was silent for a moment, then she ducked down to look inside the makeshift tent. Then, a feminine voice came from beneath the hood. 

"I believe you have something that belongs to me," she said, her voice low and smooth. Using her right hand, the woman procured the other half of the parchment from beneath the corset and showed the folded piece. 

 

@Voldemort @Spooky Mittens @Fierach

Edited by Akako Akari

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Cabbage was a simple creature.  He enjoyed the finer things in life, such as nice damp soil, properly pH balanced nutrients, and the *sun*, which seemed to be wholly absent in this forsaken landscape.

He conserved his energy by simply planting himself wherever his companion plopped him down, burying his tiny root arms and legs deep into the ground and taking what any onlooker might mistake for a nap.  He bundled himself up in his own leaves, actually mimicking the tent structure that Arthur had made.

When his companion spoke Cabbage barely stirred, but he replied all the same.  "Eh behbeh, ebeh".  A simple creature indeed.  His language was, for all intents and purposes, vocalized emotive beeps.  He didn't speak a language per se, but he spoke in feelings and sensations.  After some time with the creature, Arthur would probably be able to suss out that what Cabbage meant was As long as you don't carve me into anything, who cares?  Again, simple creature.

It wouldn't be until the arrival of a third entity that Cabbage acted.  She poked her head into the tent, and Cabbage immediately started shifting his leaves about, forming a canopy of leavy greens that made him look like a little merchant setting his wares out on a blanket.  In fact, one leaf laid out in front of him, and he opened his unassuming slotted cabbage mouth.  Three tiny stalks stuck out with three huge berries, one for each stalk, and plopped onto the leaf.

Cabbage then went "Beh HEH".  Arthur would understand this to mean he wanted Flesh Wench to buy one of his berries.  Even though Cabbage really had no concept of money.

@Voldemort @Akako Akari

Edited by Spooky Mittens

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"I wouldn't dream of it, friend," Arthur replied with an amused chuckle, continuing to carve the dry wood in his grasp into the shape of a spoon as he spared his sight momentarily to offer his tree-like companion an honest grin. It had taken some time for the mutant to learn the leshen's ways, but he was quickly becoming quite adept at understanding Cabbage's 'words.' "But I don't intend to wait here ages for an employer either. There's much nicer and quieter places to lounge around. I'll go as far as to say that Inns'th isn't even in my top fifty places to pitch a tarp...."

The mage wanted to continue in his instructive tone; however, he found himself distracted when his sharp senses picked up the arrival of a newcomer. The smell of the woman's perfume and the sound of her footsteps differentiated her from the many who walked past his tarp, his fiery eyes peered underneath the slanted roof of his shelter and settling on the woman's boots as she stood outside. When she finally crouched at the entrance, Arthur was watching her with an almost expectant look, holding his knife in a steady grasp while he awaited the newcomer to explain her sudden presence.

Arthur gave a crooked smile at the woman's words, reclining back onto the ground cloth in a restful manner as he continued to carve his spoon. The mutant gestured towards his half of the note atop his flattened bedroll, pointing at the sheet of parchment with his chin. "If it belongs to you, then perhaps you should keep it safely in your care at all times. As it was posted on the jobs' board, I felt within my rights in taking it until either I tracked you down, or you saved me the trouble.

"My name is Arthur Uskglass," the mage introduced himself, speaking directly to the woman even as his attentions were set on completing his spoon. "The little one is named Cabbage. We're package deal. him and I, so please oblige his entrepreneurial spirit." Arthur spared a glance towards the leshen, his talk of 'entrepreneurship' clearly referring to the sudden growth of berries upon the creature's body. The mutant paused for a few seconds before clarifying, "He's offering a trade." 

@Akako Akari @Spooky Mittens @Fierach

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Initially, the woman's eyes scanned over the objects sprawled across the man's bedroll then to his cabbage companion. There were items on the man's bedroll; she was intimately familiar with having worked with them in the past and others that were unfamiliar. The cabbage was an oddity that even the witch had yet to encounter. She regarded him longer, glancing at the berries he presented to her, then back to him, and then finally to the man as he spoke. 

While he spoke, she tucked the torn piece of parchment back into her top before pulling back the hood of her cloak to reveal her alabaster skin, light green eyes, and pink locks that were pulled back and away from her face, save a few stray curls and her bangs. 

"Iona Saxe," she cut in before he could introduce his leafy friend. Her gaze averted to him when he did. "A pleasure," she drawled toward the personified salad. 

The woman stepped fully into the tent and lowered herself to peer at the berries offered to her. "To be fair, that was entirely the point, and it seems like you were probably already aware of that Mr. Uskglass," Iona spoke without glancing at him, instead, examining the produce at hand and wondering if she could use them for any spell work or healing. "Tabitha, would you mind fetching my paper please from the nice man?"

It was odd. Who was Tabitha? There certainly wasn't anyone else in the tent aside from the three of them. 

From Iona's arms, the doll stirred. She blinked once, then slowly crawled out of the witch's embrace. The porcelain figure unfolded and stood, looking at Arthur for a long moment, her glassy blue eyes watching him as if she was trying to see into his soul. Then her lips began to tilt into a devastating macabre grin. It should have looked innocent, friendly even, but there was something unbalanced and terrifying about Tabitha's smile. Almost as if she was planning a game that would only be fun to her and fatal to anyone else. 

"I'm afraid the lighting isn't quite good enough for me to make out what it is you're attempting to market to me, so it will have to wait until we are in a well-lit area," Iona reasoned with Cabbage as Tabitha hobbled closer to the mage. 

"Mr. Uskglass, I am in need of assistance. I have been trying to go to the other side of the wall for quite some time, and finally, the Order requested assistance in locating someone on the other side. It was ill-advised for a woman to go alone... misogynists," the last word was but a murmur, "...so I require assistance. From what I gather it pays handsomely, and I am willing to forfeit some of my earnings to assuage you and your... friend."

Iona turned her cheek and glanced at the magus again. 

 

@Voldemort @Spooky Mittens @Fierach

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She spoke of things that Cabbage really didn't understand.  Then again, his crunchy cabbage brain wasn't exactly the best suited thing to think with.  He didn't pay much heed to the doll or the magic, but she did say that she needed more light to assess Cabbage's wares.

So he stayed quiet for a few moments, concentrating the sugars in his leaves into his core.  There, he used his own kind of magic, transmuting the sugars into a phosphorescent compound which flowed into the berries and caused them to shine like fireflies.

"Hebeh, beh beh."

He finally peeped as the flesh wench finished speaking.  If she glanced over she would see three glowing green baubles swinging about in front of Cabbage.

@Akako Akari @Voldemort @Fierach

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“I’m sure the pleasure is all mine,” Arthur yawned whilst managing to stay cordial, getting entirely too comfortable as he laid back. His head pressed against the bundle of his thick robes, lowering his knife and newly constructed spoon, and watched the pink-haired newcomer when she ducked under the tarp’s roof and entered the tent proper. His fiery eyes, a wolffish orange, studied Iona closely. To say the least, the witch was a curious one indeed, and the mutant couldn’t say his interest wasn’t piqued. “Guilty as charged,” Arthur admitted, sitting up suddenly as he folded his legs underneath him in an effortless lotus position. “I appreciate your style though. Anyone could have plucked that job off the board, obviously, but that tiny bit of your resonance and the two-part binding made it impossible to miss for someone like me.”

The mage leaned back, resting on his palms by the time he finished speaking. Arthur furrowed his brows in confusion when the witch spoke to someone that wasn’t in the tent. However, his eyes went wide with surprise and awe when he realized that Tabitha had been with them the entire time. “Amazing magic,” Arthur exclaimed excitedly, watching the doll closely as it approached. The mutant grabbed his half of the parchment and held it out towards the creepy doll. He didn’t particularly enjoy the look that the eerie familiar was giving him, but the mage had met the gaze of far more fearsome things to be afraid. Rather, he watched Tabitha with mounting interest. “What’s her story? How did you come by a familiar like this?” 

At that point, Arthur wanted to forgo business-talk. His love for the Art being enough to derail any talk of work in favor of a discussion about the many nuances of magic. Especially that doll. However, it seemed that Iona had no intentions of straying off topic, not for long anyways. “I imagine that it’s ill-advised for anyone to exit the walls alone. Woman or otherwise,” Arthur replied, noting the pause before referring to Cabbage as his friend. His gaze turned towards the Leshen, lights exuding from the berries that hung from its leaves. “Friend is an apt description, yes, and those are Goodberries that he’s trying to trade with you. They’ll prove useful while we’re exploring Yh’mi. And yes, that means we’re taking the job. Do you want me to pack up now or are you looking to get some rest before we head out?”

@Akako Akari @Spooky Mittens

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Iona shrugged noncommittally in response to Arthur's question about her familiar. It wasn't something she told anyone. The story of Tabitha was an incredibly personal one. As a matter of fact, there was much about Iona that was unknown because she made it a habit to never broach to the topic and to redirect the conversation to avoid discussing herself. 

"That's what I understand. Had The Order allowed it, I would have gone on my own." She said as she redirected her gaze to Cabbage. 

"How much for them?" 

Then she looked at Arthur again. "We're leaving now. I dislike wasting time." 

Then Iona busied herself opening her robe just enough to fish out her coin purse. Meanwhile, Tabitha climbed back into her master's lap before becoming lifeless again. 

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