[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

Devotees of Syroa and Audrae meet.

Stronghold of education and learning, this fortress is in one of the coldest areas of Idalos and home to many knowledge seekers in a variety of disciplines. However, unknown to most, below the city are those who suffer for the sake of science. While all are welcome, not everyone will be treated as they expect.

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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)
Ymiden 63, arc 712


The relief at the relative warmth of the cycle was efficiently offset by the cold attitudes of the citizens of Viden towards a naer. Linika had expected this, as far as training could prepare one for such, but it still stung her to have such assumption of ill-intent attached to her every endeavor. It was only the fact that, deep-down, she knew they were right that allowed her to shrug it off most of the time.

She took every opportunity she had to remind these people that she had left under the disgrace of exile. It was a delicate balance of protest she needed to achieve. She did not want to appear to be over emphasizing this point, or it would lose its impact. But it was equally important to convince these people that she should not be assumed to be an agent of an enemy Immortal. Only then could she truly have any hope of successfully sabotaging whatever it was going on here.

It certainly seemed as though the latter found swifter purchase in the impressions of these Videnese than the former. She faced this discrimination stoically though, letting the "injustice" fuel her determination to succeed at her mission. The irrelevant fact that she WAS an agent of Audrae needed to be ignored within her own mind. She needed to embrace the image of abused innocence. And while she was, for the most part, able to compartmentalize the instances of abuse, and go off feigning an effort to suppress tears over her "undeserved suffering"; she secretly reveled in it, finding justification for her mission with every barbed word.

It was an odd weakness in her emotional armor though, that the more loathsome, filthy or unattractive an insult-slinger was, the harder she found it to avoid reacting in anger instead of feigned emotional distress. This trial featured one such derelict, stumbling fat and drunk from a doorway to a tavern normally populated by a better class of hostility. It was possible that she felt "raised up" by having upper class citizens hurl bile at her; as if even the best members of this society felt threatened by her. When a pig like the unzipped slob before her now sputtered abuse at her, she burned in her heart of hearts to skin the miserable wretch alive. Didn't she deserve a superior source of abuse?

And this one would just not let up. She tried to do the best thing for her mission - the thing that would not bring undue notice her way - and walk away, but the vomit-stenched wad of quivering blubber decided to follow her. She could only assume that he needed this to "raise himself up". She found herself fondling the handle of her dagger, as she subconsciously let it slip from her sleeve to silently encourage her intentions, as she led the fat bastard toward a narrow alley...
Last edited by Linika on Fri Jul 07, 2017 4:18 am, edited 3 times in total. word count: 508
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

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Viden was not the same city anymore. Once, almost two and a half centuries before, it had been his home. He had lived and worked there, he had loved and then lost everything that he had ever held dear due to what had seemed like nothing more than an Immortal’s whims to him, but it might as well have been a foreign place now. He recognized some of the houses and the streets, but the citizens of Viden were all strangers to him now, and the Eidisi who had once respected him treated him just like any other human. He was barely worthy of their attention. Nobody remembered him anymore, and his contributions to the Academy seemed to have been forgotten a long time ago.

He had come to Viden some time prior to work on a research project of his, a potion for the treatment of anaphylaxis and cardiac arrest. He was currently masquerading as a foreign scholar, although he had briefly considered revealing that he was the son of an Immortal and that he had been there before, before any of those haughty Eidisi had been alive, despite the inherent risk. He found their behaviour to be highly illogical, childish and counter-productive. They could have accomplished so much more if they had welcomed those visitors that sometimes came from far away to learn from them with open arms and took advantage of their talents. Theirs could have become the greatest nation in Idalos.

But instead they produced dictionaries that lacked essential word classes to keep the strangers in their midst from learning the Ancient Language and make sure that they sounded like fools when they tried to make themselves and their ideas heard. That kind of treatment would not deter him though. He would see his project to success, no matter what kind of obstacles they put in his path. His creation would revolutionize the field of medicine.

He was close to finding a solution. He had identified the substance that he needed. It was produced in the adrenal glands of the Lotharro, although he had also discovered plants that had similar, albeit weaker properties. All he needed to do was to come up with a way to isolate it now without killing the source and attracting the attention of the authorities in the process. His creation would save lives, not end them, at least not most of the time.

He was just on his way back to the room he had rented at an inn – he had spent the trial in the Atheneum, reading – when he saw her, the Naerikk that he had occasionally encountered in the hallways of the Academy. There was something strange about the way that she moved away from the fat man that had hurled insults at her but a moment before. It was almost as if she were trying to get him to follow her. For a moment the Mortalborn thought that he had seen the shimmer of steel, but perhaps he was simply imagining things.

Still, the scene was unusual enough that it warranted further investigation. He stopped in a doorway for a moment so that he would not be seen. It would not do if the Naerikk found a supposed colleague spying on her. He needed more information before he could possibly confront her and use the situation to his advantage. He needed to become a different person, a stranger with no connection to the Academy. He needed to take advantage of the gifts that Syroa had given to him.

Black hair turned brown, his skin lightened and his blue eyes darkened. In the end he was still human – he was not confident in his ability to pretend to be a different race yet – but there was nothing about him that was reminiscent of the son of Ziell anymore. His transformation complete, he continued to watch the Naerikk from some distance away. Would she kill the man or simply teach him a lesson – or had he misinterpreted the situation at hand completely?
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

The alley grew steadily nearer, and the fat pig tailing her there was still fiddling with his zipper. Linika did not have to bother with imagining the innuendo that could be connected to his actions; he was more than happy to offer them without her requests.

The hilt of her dagger felt cool and reassuring to her, an extension of her body; the body her would-be lover continued to demean with his liquor-slurred suggestions that she desired him, ached for him, couldn't handle him, needed him...It went on and on, getting more and more intimate and insultingly presumptuous as it did. His voice grew louder, his slobbering needing to be overpowered by volume.

Linika paused. The fool would draw attention if he continued to have to bolster his self-confidence this way. She would have no way to give this wretch the "intimacy" he deserved if there were witnesses. But just stopping as she had got him encouraged enough to stagger forward a few more steps...Then a few more. He needed just bit more enticing. She cocked her head just a little, looking out from under the rich waves of black hair with 'the look that lets men know'.

It may have looked to him like she was caressing the curves of her own hip. It was what they both wanted him to believe. Linika did not truly have to fake the look in her eyes. It was a lust that made them shine, an anticipation, a yearning for a climax, the length of steel in her hand the means of release. She would give this stinking slob all the penetration he would ever need to experience for the rest of his life.

It worked beautifully, he shut his mouth and held his pants closed, hurrying toward the alley as he looked around himself to be sure no one was watching. Linika was not about to trust his skill at observation, especially with his focus becoming obviously centered around his lower abdomen and not his eyes. She backed into the alley, fiddling with a button or two of her own as she slipped into the dark gap.

"S'bout time you come around, girly... get it? Come around?" he chuckled, clearly convincing himself that his tongue was pure silver. Linika stopped listening, subtly pulling her arms behind her to prompt the opposite reaction this created up front. Even as the slob's eyes focused on her chest, his hands ready to close upon the offered curves, her hand readied the blade for an hilt-deep slam into his back.

But even as her arm tensed, there was movement at the end of the alley. Nothing direct; just the hint of the movement of a shadow. Just a temporary diminishing of the degree of darkness between a few items stacked there. The fat molester did not stop though, his hands completed the first stage of their mission, taking rough hold of things Linika had not ever meant him to have memory of.

His excited breaths became a coughing gasp as her fist nearly met his spine through his pummeled stomach, and he doubled over, red-faced. Linika wanted more than anything to plant her blade in the back of his skull, but she was certain now there was witness hiding in the dark. She took advantage of the fat man's face being at the same level as her knee, and sent him bloodied and black-eyed into the grime.

Convinced that he was unconscious, she dropped her facade and became shadow, melding in with the shadows dominating the alley.
Last edited by Linika on Fri May 19, 2017 3:42 am, edited 2 times in total. word count: 611
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

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Every time that the Naerikk stopped, the Mortalborn stopped as well and hid in a doorway or flattened his body against a wall although his disguise offered him a certain degree of protection. The man that he currently portrayed didn’t exist. Nobody knew him, there were no records of him anywhere, and there was no name to go with the face that he currently wore. But if she noticed that she was being followed, he realized, she might decide not to go through with her plan, and he needed to know more about her. Perhaps, he thought, there was more than just information to be gained from that encounter. Perhaps she was a potential ally.

As he stood there, in the darkness and tried to ignore the cold that slowly seemed to seep into every part of his body, as he listened to the nonsense that the fat man spouted it occurred to him that there had been a time when he would have abstained from such things. There had been a time when he would only have confronted her in order to hand her over to the authorities so that the city would be safe from her for even people such as that despicable drunkard deserved to live. Now though he knew better. Helping such lowly beings would be a waste of time and energy. They didn’t serve any purpose, they only took up space and had nothing to offer, quite unlike the Naerikk.

Her acting skills were commendable, the looks she gave him, the way she caressed her body. Just as he had anticipated the drunkard accepted the lure. He didn’t think twice about following a stranger into a dark alley, didn’t think twice about the fact that women such as her normally wouldn’t give a man like him the time of the day. Mortal men, Doran thought with some contempt, had a tendency to be naïve and gullible, especially when facing a woman and a bit of naked flesh.

He came closer, slowly and carefully, and hid behind a few items that were stacked at the end of the alley from where he would hopefully be able to watch her better. It was just then that the drunkard grabbed her, but he didn’t intervene. He was not some sort of knight in shining armor that couldn’t stand the sight of a woman being hurt. Besides, she looked more than capable of handling herself. He simply continued to quietly watch her. For a moment he was convinced that she would stab her victim, that she would put a blade in his back or his chest, but instead she beat him up and left.

It was then that he began to wonder if she had realized that she was being watched. Maybe he had been discovered. Stealth, he realized, was not his forte. He was a scientist and, occasionally, a swordsman but not a thief that snuck around at night despite his Domain. There was nothing that could be done about it now. He rose to his feet again. For a moment he considered finishing her work, but then he came to the conclusion that the drunkard could be left where he was. If he was anything like the rest of his kind he would be loath to admit that he had been hurt by a woman.

He left his hiding place just as the Naerikk seemed to disappear and become one with the shadows. His hand went to the hilt of his blade, just in case. He made no effort to hide his presence anymore as he followed her. He had seen enough now. Apparently, he thought as he followed her out of the alley, they had more in common than he had thought.

“Daughter of Audrae”, he spoke to the shadow, softly, but still loudly enough that she would be able to hear him. “Do they know who you really serve?” If she turned around she would find herself facing a human male that looked utterly unremarkable, but a moment later there was a flash of crimson in those dark eyes, and his face seemed to change, and he seemed to grow taller. He seemed to become more. “I think we need to talk.”
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

The words struck Linika more profoundly than she would ever have expected. 'Daughter of Audrae'. It nearly brought a tear to her eye. How she longed to encompass that claim again. Even though her exile was only a front for her mission, it still stung deeply when she'd run into Naers on her way north. The contempt they'd heaped on her was far worse than anything these Videnese had managed to spew out. That was from equals, not the envy-based sniping these crusty-blue freaks tried to run her down with.

Admittedly, the relentlessness of it got to her eventually, but she missed the warrior camaraderie of her sisterhood. But these homesick reveries swiftly vanished as she saw this stranger go through subtle bodily shifts. He asked the darkness if they knew who she served. She was not honestly aware of what power he was wielding, or if it derived from one of the Immortals, like the natural shadow form she was employing right now.

She slid along the darkness in the corners of the alley to come up behind him. "Do they know who you serve? Are you fool enough to tell them?" she stood tall in the alley, naked to surprise him if he chose to turn and face her. A naked woman was always good to give a man pause in whatever action he had planned to perform. Even if he did not, she played it safe and slipped back into shadow form again to return to her original location

She was not sure if his transformation was magic or divine in origin. She knew that there was a form of magic that allowed body shifting, but she had always heard of dramatic shifts. This was so subtle, but that proved nothing. She had no ward or attunement to allow her to detect whether it was or not. She could only trust her instinct. it was as much his comment about serving someone that made her think he was a devotee of an Immortal as well.

But that only meant he may be intent on killing her. A grin lit her shadowed features. Somehow that thought only made her more willing to come forth. She had just demonstrated that she could have just had his vulnerable back. And he must surely have seen her dagger. She squirmed back into fully clothed, fully embodied, illusion form, and stepped into the center of the alley, motioning to the unconscious form in the mud before her.

"So you have something you'd like to discuss? Very well. And are we going to share our discussion with whale-boy here? If not, you are risking being seen with me, and having the stigma of being seen associating with a naer. If so...well, I'll be less inclined to be very forthcoming." An angle occurred to her. "Nice trick by the way. So how long have you been devoted?" The use of the last word could apply to either being devoted to an Immortal, or a domain of magic. She wanted him to think she already knew his secret.
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

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He didn’t flinch as he heard her voice behind him, although a part of him was surprised, but calmly turned to face her, one hand still at the hilt of his sword in case the situation got out of control. As he realized that she was naked, he raised an eyebrow, but there was no other sign that the sight in front of him didn’t leave him entirely unaffected. He certainly didn’t leer at her and started to drool like the man that was no lying unconscious in the alley. He had lived for centuries and was above such foolish behaviour.

“Some things are better left untold”, he replied as she asked him if they knew who he served. The tone of his voice was cool, and he met her gaze without hesitation. His encounters with Naerikk had been somewhat limited so far. He did not know what exactly it was that enabled her to become one with the shadows, if that was her true form or some sort of magic given to her by Audrae herself. For a moment he even considered the possibility that she might be like him, that she had powers similar to his own.

“There are some things that those people wouldn’t understand”, he continued, referring to the Eidisi. Their narrow-minded views held them back in his opinion and kept them from reaching true greatness. He had only met one in all the time that had been different, but Beira, the woman that he had once loved, had eventually turned out to be an Yludih. She had been wearing a mask as much as he, as much as the Naerikk in front of him.

He furrowed his brow as she slipped back into shadow form for a few moments, mildly irritated. What did she want to tell him with that? Did she want to show off, tell him how great she was? Intimidate him? He briefly considered showing her what he was capable off – he could have made her blood boil and pried her deepest secrets from her, and there would have been little that she would have been able to do about it – but no, he would not engage in such childish behaviour.

“A whale serves more of a purpose than this man here”, he replied somewhat dryly as she spoke about her victim. The nickname she had given him was in his opinion somewhat lacking, despite certain similarities in size. “Let’s go. It’s unlikely that he will remember what happened, considering his inebriation.” The man practically reeked of alcohol. “As for the stigma of associating with you, the mere fact that I’m human makes me an outsider in certain parts of this city. We both already carry a stigma.” The lie easily left his lips. Some things were, as he had concluded before, better left untold, and thus Linika was unlikely to ever find out that the man in front of her was as inhuman as she was or perhaps even more so.

“Since before I came to Viden”, he replied as she asked him how long he had been devoted. He had no problem sharing that piece of information with her, although he would not mention the name of the Immortal that had marked him yet. “If you put your dagger away”, he said and cast a meaningful glance at her weapon. In a normal fight he would likely have defeated her within trills. “I will sheathe my sword again. We will be of more use to each other alive. Those that we serve have a common goal.”

He gestured for her to walk with him if she dared. “Did she send you here?” he asked. He was relying on guesswork as much as she was. While humans were a common occurrence in Viden, Naerikk were few and far between. Of course, he considered, it was entirely possible that she had come for the same reason that he had – to learn – but then again, from what little he knew the Naerikk weren’t exactly a peaceful race of scholars.
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

She paused before responding; a look of mildly annoyed skepticism at his suggestion that being human in any way brought the same level of antagonism from the blue-skinned locals that being a naer did. But his subsequent comments, strongly indicating a connection to an Immortal, gave her enough satisfaction to offset it. 'So, a follower...AND one that he says has a common goal. This smacks of Syroa.'

She would not claim to be learned in the lore of many other Immortals, Great mother Audrae being more than sufficient to grace her life with the strength and resolve any warrior needed. But it was only prudent to know which of the remainders were to be considered allies or enemies. At this time, Syroa was held as an ally. There were few others, so it was as certain as could be that this was who this "breeder" meant.

She considered him just a moment longer; a tactic commonly performed to establish who it was that everyone else was waiting on, then gave a facial shrug and sheathed her knife back up her sleeve. He gestured to join him for a walk and she complied, always aware of the protocols of seeming neither too eager nor too hesitant. They left the alley abreast. She missed a step in surprise at the brazen quality of his next question.

Catching herself before she displayed any revealing emotions, she scoffed a light chuckle, "Were I sent here by the Great Mother, what cause would I have to announce it to a stranger? My history is well documented here already, though belief in its veracity seems somewhat slow in the uptake by the noble authorities here. Were you to check the dossier I am certain exists on me, you would find that I was exiled from Augiery for killing a sister."

Linika wondered how this human would take her use of the word "sister". To the nearikk, they were all sisters under the Great Mother. She did not say it was a blood sibling. But she wondered if he would take it so. "My party was attacked by heathens from Athart, and to allow escape from superior numbers, I had to concoct an impromptu "plague" vessel with local toxins. She was already seriously wounded, very likely to die. So I did her what I still hold to be an honor, and filled her blood with pandemic death, which she unleashed as she stumbled her dying steps into their filthy ranks. We escaped slavery, and she was the means. I still hold her memory in the highest honor. But Augiery did not hold mine in the same way."

She did not look at him, her eyes steeling over with determination to show no emotion. It was, of course, a calculated gesture, intended to be noticed. But she hoped to make it seem as if her feelings had been stung by her exile; itself a gesture intended as a cover story for her infiltration. But the animosity of fellow naer she encountered on her way north was no act. Only a select few knew her exile was false. And she had to bear the contempt of any sister she encountered now as part of her mission.

She took a deep breath and turned her head slightly his way without making actual eye contact, "So, what history is to be found here regarding you, if I may be equally intrusive to ask?" Just a hint of a vindictive grin lit her face at the word.
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

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Doran didn’t say anything as she drew the correct conclusion – that the Immortal that he was devoted to was Syroa – but he inclined his head a fraction. He had never one to speak when it was not absolutely necessary. He simply stood there calmly and considered her as she considered him. As she agreed to put her knife away, he sheathed his sword. He did not depend on it. There were other things that he could do in case the situation got out of control, things that she likely couldn’t even begin to guess.

The expression on her face revealed as little as his own would likely reveal to her, but the things she said and how she said then, the way she held herself, that blatant display of her power spoke volumes about her character. She seemed strangely hesitant to answer his question for a moment only to immediately proceed to tell him what had brought her to Viden. He found that kind of behaviour to be somewhat illogical.

As she spoke of her history already being well documented, he nodded before he pointed out, “Documents rarely speak the whole truth. I’d rather hear the story from the source.” The revelation that she had been exiled for killing a sister did not shock him as much as she likely expected – there were some of his own relatives that he wanted to see dead - although he did raise an eyebrow and briefly wonder if it had been a blood sibling or merely another Naerikk.

He had half expected to hear some sort of gruesome story about her committing cold-blooded murder, but what she told him instead almost made him reconsider that initial assessment he had made of her character. He would likely have done the same had he been in her situation – if she had indeed told him the truth. He looked at her intently for a moment. He noticed how she seemed to avoid his gaze and how hurt she seemed to be. Was her pain real or just an act? He knew better than to take the word of a woman he had met in a dark alley at face value.

“So you are a poisoner and likely have some experience in the field of medicine as well”, he remarked. The fact that she had concocted an impromptu plague had piqued his interest. It was a sign that she was quite skilled. He had occasionally experimented with poison as well, although his work had mostly been focused on single targets so far. “Tell me, which toxins did you use and how did you make sure that she would pass the plague on to enough of your enemies to make a difference?”

As she called what he had done intrusive he couldn’t help but be amused. If he had really meant to be intrusive, he would have pointed his sword at her and made sure that she didn’t try to run while he invaded her mind. Even now the temptation to find out if she had been telling him everything was there, even though he would suffer from a headache for the rest of the night if he did it.

“I’m afraid I cannot offer such a spectacular story”, he replied calmly as she asked him about his history. “If you ask around, you will likely find out that I’m a visiting scholar from Rynmere, a doctor and an alchemist who has come here in order to research as well as acquire a few reagents.”

That was a lie as much as her story had been a lie or at least not the whole truth. It was entirely possible that there still existed dossiers about him from the time when he had first come to Viden centuries before, and although he had used a different name back then, there were some details that would likely seem somewhat familiar.
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

Linika considered the man before her. He was clearly not a fool. His own reference to the unreliability of documentation proved that. Paper testimonials had their uses, but they were hardly absolute in their ability to prove anything. The fact was, chemical analysis was far more accurate in establishing things. But even they then relied on the word of the chemist to speak the truth.

Linika considered such matters as interrogation as being viable proof. A father who is watching his young daughter being put to the question is likely to be truthful to spare her further pain. The man asked her for additional details of the mission that had led to her exile. It rankled somewhat, but she could not blame him. She hesitated nonetheless. Not so much from any emotional pain as from a quick moment to consider how such confessions could backlash on her.

But this was not Athart, and he was certainly no slave raider. The chance of Syroa giving two hoots about actions committed against that human faction within that avriel town were remote at best. She shrugged mentally, actually feeling just a bit of thrill at the chance to show off her affinity for herbal toxins. "Did I say it was a plant? If so, I misspoke. It was a fungus, similar to the ghost mushroom; I could tell by the grainy surface of the stalk and the two-tone spore color beneath the cap."

She said this with the tone of one who assumes that her listeners are fully aware of these facts. "But the color and sculpting of the cap's surface were consistent with the Tea-Bower, which will give qualities of the affected host mycelium, when being, in part, bolstered by the dead body of some animal. So I reasoned that using the naerikk 'Red Tide' toxin, itself a blood thinning agent, AND one which every naerikk carries with them - let that be a warning to you - along with the binding reagent recently gathered from the web of a certain species of spider on that peninsula. I flash blended the binder with the thinner, and then before it cured, I shook a quantity of the mushrooms' spores into the mix, along with some of her blood."

He was listening, there was no doubt. But it looked to her as if he was not quite making the connection. "The quality of thinning the blood, from the 'Red Tide', tried to bind to the currently lacking animal quality, trying to be found by the blended Tea-Bower spores. Normally this takes considerable time, but faced with reduced resistance to cellular intrusion due to the blood thinning agent, it fused with this property and perpetuated its own production, due to the nature of competitive fungal spore reproduction. All it needed then was a body to spread in. And already having fixed on her blood, I simply cut a secondary artery and fashioned a bulb-gravity injector to introduce it to her bloodstream. She knew what I was doing, but I was never able to convince the tribunal at Augiery of this. I suppose they did not believe I could be so lucky to have encountered all those reagents in such close proximity, and must have planned her murder all along."

"Anyway, every bit of her blood became a rapidly producing, deadly toxin which did not kill her right away, due to its own rampant reproduction preventing the lethal build up in her actual organs at the usual rate. She stumbled into their ranks, already bleeding profusely, her blood now acting as spores to spread the toxin. I suppose it could have truly become a pandemic if one of those infected soldiers had made it back to Athart. Sadly, I can only assume that the smarter ones cut down their poisoned fellows with bows, and burned the bodies, to avoid joining them."

She found herself grinning broadly at the recollection. She resumed her disciplinary stoicism immediately. "Well, there are certainly reagents to be found here. The fact is, they are often similar in nature to those found in the extreme south, as it gets quite cold there too. That alone will cause the creation of similar functionality of organisms. But the geography creates such separation that I doubt they are any truly related subspecies of flora here as there. I hope to find some though. I truly believe I can benefit the apothecary efforts at the academy or infirmary. I mean, to develop a counter to a toxin, you first have to have the toxin to work with. But I think it's going to take some real slick moves to get me inside that place. In the meantime they've got me digging ditches in the ice."

She rolled her eyes at the foolishness of letting such skill go to waste... "Unless you've got some connections, or scandal, or blackmail or something. I don't suppose either of us are likely to be very popular here, hmmm?"
Last edited by Linika on Sun Mar 05, 2017 3:22 am, edited 1 time in total. word count: 842
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- Poison -

"Shelf Life'...What an ironically contradictory concept."
- Linika Amarinthine -
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Doran
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Race: Mortal Born
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[memory] Eyes to See (Doran)

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“I apologize”, the Mortalborn spoke calmly. “I merely assumed such as I mostly work with plants myself.” He made a mental note to research the ghost mushroom and maybe acquire a few exemplars himself. As she mentioned something called “Red Tide” that every one of her kind carried with her, he raised an eyebrow. At first he assumed that the Naerikk produced the toxin within their own bodies, but then he came to the conclusion that it was most likely not the case, otherwise she would simply have poisoned the drunkard rather than beating him up.

“There is no need to warn me or threaten me, Naerikk”, he informed her and narrowed his eyes. “I already told you that I harbour no hostile intentions towards you or any others of your kind.” As he said that, he wondered if Syroa’s blessing gave him an increased resistance to toxins and how his body would have reacted to her creation. Since he had not been ill since he had been marked and tended to recover from injuries much faster than before, it was possible, maybe even likely that he would have survived where her victims had died. He had no interest in testing his theory and provoking her at the moment though as there was more to be gained from a halfway civil conversation.

“This Red Tide”, he slowly said and looked at her, aware that she might refuse to share that particular information with him – unless he offered her something in return. “What is it derived from?” He was impressed, almost against this will. If what she had told him was true and she hadn’t been exaggerating, then there was even more to be gained from associating with her than he had thought at first.

“I don’t know of any scandals that we could use to our advantage, and most of my connections are in Rynmere where I come from”, he admitted freely and raised a hand, a sign that he didn't want her to speak yet. He wasn't finished yet. “But we don’t need either of those things. It would be much more beneficial if we just created our own scandal, controlled all aspects of it and picked our target. I assume you remember what I did when we met? I can be whoever you want me to be.”

He spoke in a matter-of-fact tone and entirely without arrogance. Syroa’s blessing seemed to have turned him into some sort of shapeshifter, an unexpected, but not unwelcome development. Most of his transformations showed signs of reversal after only a few breaks, but a few breaks were more than enough for what he had in mind.

“It should be easy for you to gain access to that place after we are done”, he continued. He didn’t grin or roll his eyes like she did – he found such behaviour foolish and somewhat childish for the most part – but there was a shimmer of something in his eyes now. “And perhaps we could continue our conversation when you have what you want. As I told you, I’m an alchemist – and I’m also skilled in chemistry. I’m very interested in hearing more about the substances that you work with.”

“What do you say, Naerikk?”
word count: 559

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