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CasualCrisis

The After Party

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The mutant arched his dark eyebrows with curiosity as he watched Isabella depart down the hallway towards her bedroom. She hadn’t responded to his words and permission to follow hadn’t been granted to the mage. And yet, Arthur felt it within his bones that his hostess wanted him to follow her. After all, why would she have offered the invitation in the first place? And why was she so quiet and coy as she exited the sitting room? Arthur grinned to himself, following after the dark-haired woman though he maintained some level of distance. He didn’t want to force Isabella’s hand by pushing his luck and catching up with the woman, especially if she eventually sought to bar his entry in another teasing gesture. Arthur also didn’t want to give the impression of desperation. There was nothing more pathetic than desperation and so Arthur walked casually in Isabella’s wake, watching with an amused smirk when the woman disappeared beyond her bedroom door but not before leaving it slightly ajar for the mutant. 

Arthur had never received such a coy invitation; the rate of his heartbeat increasing with the mage’s growing excitement. For a moment, he smiled genuinely, gladdened by the clear improvements in Isabella’s health and mood. It felt good to be needed and felt even greater to see someone under his care steadily recovering from their traumas. Feeling at ease, the mutant traveled the rest of the distance that remained between he and the door, following the beacon of light as he gently pushed his way inside. Arthur was greeted by a flash of pale flesh, his animalistic eyes watching admiringly as Isabella slipped a silky robe over her beautiful frame. His slow walk and the thoughts that raced through his head had afforded the woman enough time to disrobe without his prying eyes. It was just as well. Isabella was working fast, curating a little performance for Arthur’s eyes only, and it would have been rude to not accept his role as the sole member of the audience. 

Smirking at the doorway, the black mage leaned his broad shoulder against the frame of the door. His gaze met Isabella’s own when she finally regarded him with an unreadable look. The woman was playing quite the game and Arthur was starting to get the feeling that he’d fallen into Isabella’s trap. The idea only excited the mage further, his body subtly shaking with his usual mix of elation and anxiety. Much like poor Icarus, Arthur enjoyed flying closer and closer to the sun. He wondered what would happen if he kept pursuing the mysterious woman. Would us wings melt away? Would he plummet from on high? 

“You wound me,” Arthur laughed, pressing his free hand to his heart in mock-insult. He played it cool or tried anyways. Underneath his mask of joviality, the mage felt utterly ridiculous in his hotel robe and t-shirt and underwear. It wasn’t cool at all. “I’m not that incorrigible.” 

To make his point, the mutant closed the bedroom door and walked across the room, sitting himself on the chair she’d slung her robe from. Arthur adjusted himself comfortably in his seat and laid his day bag and scroll on the ground. He watched smugly as Isabella departed into the bathroom, and immediately began to rifle through his bag when the woman disappeared from sight. His fingers curled around the familiar leather-binding of his grimoire, retrieving the spellbook from its canvas prison. As Isabella showered, the black mage poured over his grimoire, flipping to the section on fleshcrafting and other grotesqueries, and began the tedious work of memorizing the spells he would need to treat Isabella’s image problem. Normally, he would have used magic from that family of spells to change his appearance if he wished to pass by unnoticed. Or, more viciously, he would have utilized fleshcraft to bind together the lips of an enemy mage, preventing them from calling forth their own arcane might. For Isabella’s purposes, Arthur’s magic would suffice. Whispering the correct Names, the black mage could bend Isabella’s very flesh to his will. 

As his hostess stepped out of the bathroom, Arthur’s head swam with a multitude of arcane formulae. The familiar runes crossed his vision in a dizzying array; his spells (or the concepts therein) were practically alive within the mage’s body. The individual Names pestered the mutant, tempting the black mage to say their Names and in doing so set them free. Whether for good or ill, it mattered not to the very forces of nature. In that moment, it would seem like Arthur was distracted in his occult trance. He heard Isabella bid him to make her scars disappear, and his eyes immediately rolled back into place to regard the woman fully.

The mage arched his eyebrows curiously once more, watching Isabella closely as she pulled apart the sash that held her silken robe together. It fell to her feet and Arthur abruptly recalled where he was. This was a show, curated by his hostess. So coy before, only to shed her modesty now. She could have argued ease of access, but he was certain they could have reached each of her scars in sections as they teach in physick courses. If she was just being daring in an effort to begin a relationship, it would have been an innocent enough gesture as well. However, Arthur was beginning to feel that Isabella’s actions, from hiking up her dress in the sitting room to standing before him undressed in her bedroom, were calculated. Too calculated. He didn’t know for what but Arthur had the distinct feeling that Isabella was trying to string him along. 

Arthur played along, continuing to play his role as sole spectator. 

“Is this what you meant when you said you wanted to repay me?” the mutant whispered with a chuckle, walking the distance in short order before seizing the woman by the chin, straightening out her body with a gentle guiding motion. He lifted his free hand and flashed a series of mudras, lightning flashing in his eyes as the spells begged to be released. “They’ll be a memory when I’m done.” 

Arthur opened his mouth and began to cast spell after spell, transfiguration after transfiguration. An unknown tongue sprang from the mage’s lips, tendrils of smoke lightly slithered passed his mouth as his tongue burned infernally. As he did so, he continued holding her delicate jaw with one hand while the other explored her flesh. Wherever he touched, Isabella’s flesh vibrated pleasantly as otherwise uninjured muscles relaxed and tension loosened in her joints. When he touched scar tissue, the area spasmed as it joined her unmarried skin molded together at the seams until nothing remained but flawless pale skin. The mutant healed the wounds on her legs, finding cuts on her hips, waist and lower back. He rotated Isabella around as needed, applying his ensorcelled hand to any area that needed it and any area the mage saw fit to explore idly with calloused digits. 

“You’re brand new,” Arthur finally announced, backing away a step as he released the woman. His head glanced sidelong as if he wanted to stare straight through the wall. His beastly hearing picked up the arrival of Gustavo and the doctor. 

“Good timing, your assistant is here,” the mage grabbed his things and made for the bedroom door. “I’ll see your doctor now. But I’ll be back in a few.”

He invited himself back to her bedroom, giving Isabella only a moment to reply before he departed.

The doctor and Gustavo found Arthur seated in the sitting room. Donning a pair of sweat pants that Isabella’s assistant acquired, the mage was finally able to remove his ridiculous hotel bath robe and gave himself unto the doctor’s care. The mage received his blood transfusion and took the short course of antibiotics that the physician offered. Before long, the doctor departed and soon after Gustavo retired after a drink and a curt conversation. 

When Arthur was alone, he made his way down the hallway again, quietly dumping his things in the guest room that Gustavo had indicated. The assistant had prepared the room himself while the doctor treated him. Too bad his efforts were for not. Arthur turned the corner, furtively closed his door, and made his way to the furthest point of the hall where Isabella awaited.

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