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Name Your Price

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It’d been so long. The once-fine redwood doors of her parents’ old storefront stood tall under the boards that held them shut, draped haphazardly in ragged cloth tarps. Large, weathered windows that had gone years without a good shine framed the blocked entryway with emptiness. Cyntara was poised mid-stride in the dead center of the market, having caught sight of the building out of the corner of her eye as she walked through downtown. It stopped the tiefling in her tracks, and for a moment she forgot why she had come back to Blairville at all. 

A reminder of the now shoved its way past her.

“Out of the way,” a passerby chided.

Cyntara wove through the foot traffic to the front doors of the place, ducking into its alcove entryway and out of the sun. Gently, she raised the back of her hand to the old sign above the covered doors, brushing away the dust from its wood-carved lettering: Marvelous Moveables, Inc., her parents’ first permanent storefront. They’d traveled on the road for years before finally deciding to settle in someplace, and Blairville had seemed to fit the bill for a while. 

But not forever.

Tara carefully pulled back a tarp to reveal the ornate door panels beneath, its subtle beauty now tarnished with the scar of a less gracious post: EVICTION NOTICE. She sighed, turning to glance out at Gypsy Market from the shade of the alcove. Merchants chanted and roared over their wares from across the way. They laughed and shouted as they haggled with their customers in a timeless song of trade. Their children danced by the center fountain under the afternoon sun, squeals of youthful excitement pulling Cyntara back to another time. 

I still don’t get it. They’d have fit right in.

A light breeze danced with the small paper she’d forgotten about in her hand. It tapped against her knuckles, asking for attention. 

“Well,” She shrugged off the brunt of her nostalgia and lifted the paper to reread it, ”...anyway.”

*    *


It wasn’t terribly difficult to find the place. Tara glanced down at the paper in her hand as she stood facing an unassuming, lone doorway. It was placed neatly between two storefronts, boasting little but its sterile, cold-metal frame. She approached the windowless door and gave it a light knock.

At its center, a small peep hole slid open to reveal a set of bright, golden eyes.

“State your business.”

“I’m looking for Bolbe Torguen? In response to his notice.”

Without a word, the tiny window slid shut and the door clicked open to reveal a stately looking man, thin and tall, dressed finely from head to toe. She guessed servant, perhaps butler.

“Please come in.”

The tiefling looked to her right and then left, noting what little attention the surrounding townsfolk gave to her exchange. With a shrug, she entered the door as it gently closed behind her.

“This way, please.”

Entering the doorway, the space around them opened up into a classy, well-kept foyer. Tara felt guilty walking on its carpets with her dirty boots, that she certainly forgot to tap clean upon entry. Ornate furniture and decor lined every wallspace available, and Cyntara couldn’t help but eye every one she passed. 

“Is Mr.Torguen a collector, perhaps?” she asked.

“He does often collect things, yes.”

“Anything specific?”

The butler lead her to a second room filled with brightly colored seating, surrounded by several porcelain statues of oversized, perfectly articulated beetles and praying mantes. They seemed to sparkle under the lighting, all accented with gemmed eyes of varying color. Such a sight distracted Tara enough for her to forget she’d even asked the man a question.

“Please wait here. Bolbe will speak will all of you once everyone has arrived.”

Tara took a seat on one of the couches, pulling her satchel into her lap.

“How many more do you anticipate?”

“Just a few.”

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Posted (edited)

As is the way of servants, the man extracted himself from the room expertly, quiet and unobtrusive, as another knock announced an arrival. This one quick and sharp, with a full row of knuckles behind it. A moment passed. Enough time for an exchange of words and, perhaps, even a pleasantry or two, but then the servant reappeared.

A half step behind him, the newcomer waited.

Lotl found himself shepherded into the room with a gesture. The servant, discomforted, then excused himself once more. His unease hid itself behind a carefully constructed air of indifference, but Lotl saw it—felt it, even. Not through a natural gift, but as a symptom of the city’s sickness. An infection untreated. One that would never be treated willingly. Lotl, whose nature and existence was fluid, found himself being pulled along an unrelenting current, as inevitable as that of the river that wound its way through the city. 

An elemental after a certain persuasion, Lotl’s body sought to conform to the dominant elements, and, where his passage through the nearby mountains left him with an unyielding black stone for flesh and a strength to match, it was now an ashen brown, mottled green, with the look and feel of tree bark about it. And in exchange for his strength…

Melancholy wafted through the room, drawing Lotl’s eye to the sole other occupant. Other emotions boiled around him, not those of the woman’s, but past things felt and memories made, ingrained in the fabric of not just the lounge but in the land the lounge had been built upon, long before there was a Mr. Torguen and his estate.

Lotl inclined his head and introduced himself. His tongue moved clumsy and dull, and his voice came as a barely human rasp. Wind through some oak's old hollow. Lotl slinked over to a nearby seat, its cushion too plush for his tastes to be comfortable, and sat, neatly folding his hands in his lap.

Edited by Paroxysm

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A rather odd request it was, and mysterious to boot, but Artemis couldn't complain. A touch of secrecy was something she found interesting, though Ashir, her familiar, insisted on taking the lead. She was perfectly capable. Her blindness didn't impede her that much when she could sense most of her surroundings, particularly people. However, he was overprotective, and she couldn't knock that trait out of him no matter what she said.

She noticed him come to a halt, presumably in front of a door, and the cool shade of the building washed over her as she reached out to knock. Ashir stood on his hind legs, standing up against the door, inspecting and sniffing it out of caution. Almost immediately, it opened. Artemis stared blankly-or rather, blindly-at the man standing there just as he ushered her in. She did her best to get a feel for the hallway she entered into, but apart from the people here she couldn't sense much; they were all clustered in one room, except for who she assumed was the butler or servant of the house, as well as another person further away. Perhaps their employer to-be?

Ashir nudged up against her leg, and out of the blue her dark, blank vision sprang into colour and life. Certainly colour. The bright, assorted items and decor around the entire room made her wish slightly that he hadn't showed her what he was seeing. Even with a cat's colourblind and dull-coloured vision it was clear to Artemis that this was home to a rich man. A very rich man indeed, one who could likely find professionals for whatever work he needed doing.

What exactly did a rich man need a blind witch for?

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Her fingers are itchy, and it’s not because of the mosquitoes.

Birdy trails behind the butler as they move down the hallway, looking about her surroundings with wide-eyed awe and no small amount of kleptomaniac hunger. It won’t reflect kindly on her relationship with their host if she were to steal anything, however, and so she forms fists out of her hands to control her urges, gluing her gaze to the servant’s back as they move into the waiting room.

Despite some notable evidence to the contrary, she seems like nothing more than a little girl who’s been gallivanting around the forest without her mother’s permission: twigs caught in her tangled and wild locks, speckled leaves and mud forming dappled patterns against her legs like an abstract painting. Well, she can’t really do anything about those, not in any way that might work the way she wishes it to, so in the spirit of formality, Birdy opts to adjust the leather headband against her blonde hair just so, arrange the folds of her white dress to cover the worst of the dirt on her. 

In truth, perhaps the veneer is required; perhaps the disguise is necessary. She’ll never get to do anything she wants without it.

The butler leads her into the room where everyone else had been waiting, and for a moment, her attention is caught by the large statues of insects. How strange, those, but she is not one to judge on another’s taste in interior decor, especially not the man who might provide her a job today. Birdy plunks herself down onto an empty couch and studies the other people seated. They are all terribly tall and terribly, terribly stoic as most adults are, and no no no, that just won’t do.

“Hello, everyone,” Birdy chirps, a sunshine grin splitting her rosy cheeks as she greets them. “How do you all do? Am I the last one to come? I like your scary horns,” she waves at the tiefling, “and your skin—it’s just like mine, see?," she points out to the man with tree bark flesh,” and your fluffy cat!” She finishes with a pointed finger at the familiar seated at the other woman’s feet.

Edited by vielle

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