Arc 716, 55th trial of Vhalar
It had been several trials since she had last seen Nightshade, and her thoughts were driving her crazy.
To begin, she had confirmed that it was, in fact possible for her to learn new faces and bodies, within the two races she had already learned. The mannerisms were harder to come by, but that wasn't the important part. The important part was that she could steal peoples faces.
She was sure that given enough time she could completely steal someone's identity- learn enough of their habits and mannerisms, learn how to change her voice and who knows what she could do.
Needless to say, she wouldn't need to be worried about any more guards coming looking for her if she did work for the Cauldron.
But first, she needed to find someone she could stare at without being hauled off by those same guards for stalking.
Her best bet was to find someone older. They were less likely to be paying attention to the stuff around them, and would be much easier to watch. Plus, there was no way for someone to connect her to an ancient crone when she used the form. Hair colour could be dyed, makeup applied to change age a little bit, but truly looking like you were decades older than you were? Now that would be useful.
She spun on the stool, watching the walls wiz by as she slowly hatched her plan. She had often seen artists hired by the rich and famous to paint their likeness, but she had no talent at that, and she hadn't made a name for herself regardless.
But what if she took the same idea, and reversed it? She could find a painter's set and hire someone to pose for her under the guise of practice. The model would never have to see the horrible painting she was sure to make.
All the spinning was beginning to make her dizzy, and she jerked to a halt, the room spinning around her as she teetered on the stool. She closed her eyes, breathing deeply as she waited for it to pass. At long last she stood and grabbed her mirror cloak, turning it grey and tucking it securely around her shoulders as she darted out the shop door.
It was now noon, and Alex had finally found a willing model. She had known that anonymity was key, so she had made sure no one would recognize her. Some spattered paint across her hands, some loose hairs from her braid and a satchel of painting supplies thrown over her shoulder completed her disguise. She even spoke differently, for all the good it seemed to do.
The woman who now sat opposite her in Alex's house looked nearly eighty, though she claimed she wasn't a day over sixty-five.
She thought, though wisely she kept her mouth shut. Despite usually being able to convince people to lend her a hand, no one would even look at her twice when she offered to paint them free of charge. They probably thought it was a scam, but their dismissal still stung a little.
She returned her focus to the woman. They had returned to her house, and she had offered the woman drinks and food. It wasn't anything fancy, but it seemed to put the woman at ease. She was now sitting at the window, gazing upwards towards the sun as she prattled on.
"And then Johnathan, well he's always been a bit of the black sheep of the family you see, and he decided that he'd..."
Alex nodded, blocking out the sound of her voice. She had talked since they met, heroically continuing the one-sided conversation with ease.
Eyeing the woman's ring, she shook her head. How does her husband handle it?
She shook her head and turned her attention back to the blank canvas in front of her. Some quick thinking had led to Alex staining the tips of her fingers and covering the table with unfinished eagles purchased from another artist. The deception was complete, and she was confident the woman wouldn't notice.
The canvas in front of her, however, was not going to be so easy to fake. She quickly spattered some tan paint across the canvas, blurring the line between reality and imagination as she created an extremely odd-looking replica of the woman. She was hardly an accomplished painter, but this was something she could do.
That task done, she was free to pay attention to the woman.
She started with the hands- they were the least likely to be noticed, should something go wrong. The lady's hands were wrinkled, gnarled things, curled up on themselves with arthritis.
The veins stood out in sharp contrast to the paper-thin skin that covered them, and the knuckles seemed comically large when compared to the thinness of her fingers. They were enigmatic; hands of extremes. They appeared almost brittle, yet the strength they had when the lady held onto Alex while walking through the streets rivaled Alex's own grip.
She breathed slowly, in... out... in... out
Eventually the sounds of the woman's voice dimmed, and Alex's mind cleared. Careful to change slowly, she let her hands go shapeless, heating up quickly. It took all she had not to cry out as they melted, blessed coolness following shortly afterwards.
The first time shifting into someone, or something, new seemed to be the worst, as if she had to heat up more than usual to make herself malleable enough. She let go of the trance and looked down, ignoring the rushing in her ears.
The liver-spotted hands that stared back at her were not her own. A smile broke across her face as she held them up and stared at them curiously. She could move them freely, despite how they looked, but she slowly opened and closed them a few times, acting as if they had arthritis. The illusion helped sell the fake movement, but it wasn't the most realistic. Definitely room for improvement.
"What are you doing over there, girlie? Is my painting done already?" The woman's question broke Alex's fascination, and she turned quickly to look at her "client".
"No ma'am, just stretching the fingers. Could you look out the window with a blank look on please? I'm working on a new style, and I'm going to need you to do several emotions."
The rushing in her ears faded as she calmed herself, the meditative trance coming easier the more she practiced. Back as fully Alex, she began focusing on the woman's face. Alex had thought it through and had worn a hood, partially obscuring her face. That, plus the fact that the woman was staring directly into the sun meant she wasn't likely to be spotted as she focused in on the woman's face.