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Old September 11, 2018, 08:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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[Countryside] Taking apart, putting together (indefinite and Talindra please)

Autumn, Era XXV Post Fractum

The Bald Hen was a tiny inn some small distance from the gates of Ziel Aerca. All in all it seemed destined to fail as a business, unless it somehow generated enough custom from local highwaymen to eek out a small existence. Too close to the city for travelers to need it to pass the night on their journey, and too far for access to city custom, the location seemed strategically picked for poor patronage.

The Inn was built in the restored shell of an abandoned farm house, and seemed huddled in upon itself despite the expansive open spaces around it. The common room held only two tables, large round affairs with seating for 8 persons apiece. Malicia sat at one of these, having made her somewhat groggy way down the creaking ancient staircase some few candlemarks before midday. She was not a morning person.

An old man puttered about behind the bar, wiping things with a rag that seemed unlikely to accumulate more dirt than it deposited. He seemed disinclined to notice his customer, so Malicia cleared her throat and then spoke up:

"Inn person. Bring me...whatever horrible stuff you serve for breakfast. I have business to attend to so your tip depends on your alacrity."

The man made a peevish face, pausing to consider if he knew what the word "alacrity" meant, then without a word disappeared through a door into the kitchen.

Today Malicia’s business would take her out into the wooded areas, so she wore her ankle length overcoat and tophat against the chill. Sitting beside her on the table were a pair of goggles and a basket of moderate size.

Last edited by Malicia Waxwode; September 11, 2018 at 08:16 PM.
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Old September 12, 2018, 11:36 AM   #2 (permalink)
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As the days grew colder, the elfess found it increasingly difficult to seek shelter along the border of cities. Up until the beginning of the season, she didn't trust inns or taverns to keep her safe from those which sought to take her down. However, it seemed as though the option was dwindling away so she would have to make a choice. Risk the chance of getting sick or having her small creature freeze, or try and dart between taverns in the hopes that would be enough?

With Niko in the picture, the decision was simple.

For the past few darkenings, she had taken shelter within the apartment gifted to her by the Governor in Ziel. However, the idea was to dance between locations so she decided to try something new and stay at the 'Bald Hen.' Judging by the lack of customers, it wasn't a very popular establishment.

Perfect.

Other than the usual nightmares, her stay wasn't too terrible. The beds were decent as was the room itself in size and accommodations. Little Niko had spent the first few candlemarks investigating the room so he must have enjoyed it too. Once she was up and dressed, the two of them made their way down for a morning meal. The nimrban was still quite sleepy so he settled for curling up on her shoulder, watching with a half-lit gaze at all of the interesting people and things in the main tavern itself.

She set her backpack down on the stool beside her before taking a seat, trying to give a bit of distance between she and the other woman who shared the space. Despite this, she couldn't help but let her gaze wander as she waited patiently for the bartender to return so that she could order a small meal for the road. It was an unusual outfit, by her understanding, but one that she quite enjoyed. The woman looked as if she were an alchemist or a professor, quite fancy and elegant.

Best not to openly say that, however, for she was terrible with conversation. Not to mention she had sort of crawled out of bed thinking that she was the only guest so her auburn hair still had floating strands and her form-fitting black pants had a hole or two in the knee area. Her tawny blouse was decent! But that truly didn't make up for everything else.

Off to a great start this brightening.
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Old September 12, 2018, 04:38 PM   #3 (permalink)
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As the red haired elf took her seat, Malicia opened her basket and removed a thin booklet, which she set before her on the table. The booklet was quite crude in manufacture, and in fact Malicia had made it herself by stacking a slim pile of her notes interspersed with botanical sketches she had purchased, bordering them fore and aft with rectangles of sturdy leather, and binding them all together by creating nail holes along the spine and lacing through these holes with twine. On the front she had written “Notes on Biologically Active Fungi” in her careful flowing hand, the words having become somewhat fuzzy as the ink absorbed outward into the leather.

She opened the book and stared at the first page, which was a carefully drawn image of a mushroom, apparently lost in thought. A moment passed, and then she looked up suddenly, as if feeling Talindra’s gaze upon her. A small wooden bowl sat in the middle of the table, which had at one time contained a coarse salt which some diners pleased to sprinkle on their food, but which had not been refilled in some time. She picked this bowl up, and threw it so that it hit the kitchen door solidly and then fell to the floor with a clatter.

“Innsperson!” She called. “You have another customer!”

Turning to Talindra, she added “I am having a philosophical dispute with this Innskeep on the topic of ‘Manners’ and how failure to adhere to their simple principles can lead to a cascade of growing unpleasantness in one’s life. It started when I objected to his overuse of the term “outlandish” and things have not improved since. Still, I persevere. That is an interesting creature you have with you, and I confess I’ve never seen the like. What sort of animal is it, provided that I may ask.”

The kitchen door swung open and the old man’s face scowled out of it. “Knock that off you scoundrel!” Frowning at Talindra, he continued in an only slightly less grouchy tone. “Yes? What do you want?”
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Old September 15, 2018, 10:45 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Tali blinked. That was unexpected.

One moment, she was in the midst of gaining an idea about the book that had been set on the table. The next? Bowl against a door as the woman in question shouted.

It took a moment for the elfess to recover, but she managed a soft chuckle after noticing that the lovely lady was speaking to her about the innkeeper’s lack of manners. “That can be a challenge, at times. Though I’ve never seen someone handle it with such an elegant tongue. Usually it’s riddled with swears and slurs.” Another giggle toward her own attempt at a joke before continuing. “Oh, Niko? He’s a Nimrban, sort of like a cat monkey. Curious little beast, but I love him anyway.”

The ball of shadow fur, being of the nature that Tali described, finished off his meal before inching closer to the woman. Hmm. They were talking so...friend? Pets?

Tali glanced up at the grumpy bartender, unappreciative of his rude demeanor. However, she wasn’t one to start anything so she kept her irritation to herself. “Just some water and bread, please.” A beat. “If that’s not too much trouble. I can see that you’re very busy.” Well! So much for keeping out a sarcastic tongue!
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Old September 18, 2018, 12:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Fascinated by the Nimrban, Malicia fished around in her pockets for something to interest him. Using her fingers she selected something without any sharp bits to it, and came out with a short length of bright red ribbon. This she shook for the Nimrban, it’s bright color flashing in the dim lighting of the Inn.

“Niko? Would you like to try a ribbon dance for us? Sometimes I have nuts with me, but alas not this brightening.”

Malicia looked up from the Nimrban and gave Tali an appraising look over. Nodding towards the backpack propped up next to the table she said “So, are you a resident of this place of just passing through? I’ve come up here in search of certain fungi, and if you know the area perhaps you could advise me. The name is Malicia, by the way.”

Before long, the door to the kitchen opened and a pot boy emerged, carrying with him a tray that contained Tali’s bread and water, and a plate eggs and fried potatoes for Malicia.
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Old September 21, 2018, 03:44 PM   #6 (permalink)
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What. Is. That?

Niko blinked, his widened pumpkin gaze staring at the unusual object. Oh! It moved! Again! He reached out a hesitant paw and....smack!

...that was fun.

Smack, smack, smack!


And off he went! Wherever the ribbon would go, so would he in an attempt to capture it. Anytime that it got caught in his talons, he would lick it before letting it go just so he could try again. This was more fun than chasing his tail! He chittered in delight.

Meanwhile, the women took it upon themselves to engage in a bit of casual conversation. Tali offered up a warm smile, bowing toward her new companion. "I have a home here, but I don't stay often. I tend to travel a lot. However, I'm an alchemist as well so perhaps together we can find this fungi that you're searching for! I'm Tali, it's nice to meet you." It was strange not to use her fake name as often anymore. What was once a safeguard became simply for missions rather than trying to make friends.

Was that what she was trying to do? She supposed that she was.

"How about you, Malicia? Do you live nearby or was the fungi your only interest for being in the area?" She reached over and took a bite of her bread, maintaining a smile.
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Old September 25, 2018, 01:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Malicia found herself enjoying the energetic creature immensely, and it was with some reluctance that she finally put down the bit of ribbon.

"I've come up from Port Alyxandrya to hunt mushrooms. I would ever so much appreciate your company and perhaps even advice. I am only the barest sort of meager Alchemist myself, still groping about in the dark."

She slid the crude booklet over for Tali to view.

"I haven't any specific goals for what I'm trying to make here. Rather, I have this list of mushrooms which are known to have various effects on human consumers, many of them baleful. I hope to assemble a goodly supply of several kinds of these fungi and perform a series of extractions, distillations, and decoctions and see if any of them are in any way useful or interesting. I am hoping that in some cases the toxic effects are the result of several different fungal essences working in concert, and that by separating them I can discover something new."

As she spoke, she surreptitiously sized Tali up. How interesting that she had a home in the area, but had chosen to sleep in a rather dreadful inn instead. Such things spoke of trouble, but then Malicia had seen trouble from many different vantage points.
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Old September 29, 2018, 05:24 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Oh, the ribbon wasn't moving anymore? Time to launch a full-blown attack! Niko pounced on the target, rolling as he kept it within his grasp. Eventually, he ended up on his back with his legs and arms toying around with the soft fabric but making certain not to damage it. He didn't like breaking toys!

Meanwhile, Malicia and Tali seemed to hit it off! The elfess glanced down at the booklet that had moved into her sight. The elfess was new to the alchemical field as well for she didn't know that there were so many variations of mushrooms! Her eyes lit up in excitement as she scrolled through the pages, reading thoroughly to make sure every bit of knowledge was absorbed. After a few minutes, she returned the item to its owner and brought along with it a warm smile. "I would be honored to accompany you, if you'll have me. This sounds like it would be quite beneficial and we could learn a bit from each other. The only teacher I've truly had on the subject was an older woman who didn't warn me about side effects so everything became walnuts." She chuckled, but at the time it was far from being funny.

It sucked, actually. Quite a bit. But she learned from it, so if nothing else the woman could declare it a learning experience and move on. Though she might never look at walnuts the same again...

With their plan set out, Tali offered up some coin onto the counter so that she could cover her own meal as well as her new friends. There was a bit of a tip in there for the gentleman, but not much. After all, he had been quite rude to them. Whenever her new companion was ready, so was she!

...well, after she untangled Niko from the ribbon.
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Old October 1, 2018, 12:45 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Malicia idly reached over and gave the ribbon a few more jiggles as the Nimrban lay on its back with the ribbon above.

"I have had a number of unusual experiences of the sort you mention. In fact, I remember my alchemy teacher primarily as a rather unpleasant sack of potatoes with pitchforks for arms. It is likely that this is not his, or perhaps her, true aspect."

She raised one eyebrow at her companions paying of her bill, but did not object. She was rather uncomfortably poor, which is what had brought her to such a place in the first place.

"Thank you for your generosity. Next time you must allow me to treat."

She disappeared momentarily up to her room where her things were ready to go, then appeared again, pack on her back. While gathering her stuff, she adjusted her stiletto so that it hung on the outside of her coat. One never knew what one might find in a forest.
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Old October 1, 2018, 04:37 PM   #10 (permalink)
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It was resolved! They were to go into the forest and hopefully not die while picking out choice ingredients that an alchemist might find interest in.

As Talindra graciously made sure to pay for anything, and they left the tavern, they were left with a number of choices. There were plenty of places in a forest where one could search for materials. Take, for instance, the humble tree: there were those that grew upon its bark, those that could be found near the roots, those can could be found in its branches, and so on and so forth.

Fungi, in particular, could be found in many places. And, well, was it just going to be a matter of wandering around and picking up anything that they found, or were they going to be specifically targeting any places in particular? It was a bright and sunny day today, perfect picking weather. Probably.
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Old October 3, 2018, 01:23 PM   #11 (permalink)
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It's alive once more! Niko chirped in delight, swatting at the ribbon as it danced before his widened gaze.

The fact that such side effects were a common occurrence wasn't very comforting, but Tali refused to let on. It was a part of the trade which she decided to devote her life to so she might as well accept that it won't be easy. Or rather, not to have sharp objects within range when collecting ingredients. Just in case.

"That's alright! I was happy to offer," Tali replied with a warm smile. With everything settled, she scooped up her furry beast and held him in the palm of her hands. Her expression transitioned into that of a sheepish grin. "You'll get your ribbon back, I promise."

Ooh! Held by mom! He purred, content and still rather eager to play with his new friend. Swat, swat!

Off they went! Tali led the way into the forest, her copper gaze wandering in search of any ingredients that they spotted along the way. As they strolled, she decided to continue her attempts at small talk. "So! What got you interested in alchemy?"

Smooth as sandpaper.
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Old October 5, 2018, 12:34 AM   #12 (permalink)
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The sun beat down and the day was fine, and all in all Malicia was more happy to be alive than not. Such was not always the case, but this brightening she was an optimist and felt hopeful that nothing horrible would happen before lunch.

Malicia, not knowing the area particularly, was happy to have someone leading the way.

"I'm not sure I can say exactly what got me interested in Alchemy. I've always been curious in the most virulent sort of way. I suppose it seems to me that if I understand how things work then perhaps they won't you know, knife me in a metaphorical dark alley if that makes any sense. Then too, Alchemy seems like is a good way to create something new, something no one has seen before."

As she walked, she looked idly about for a decent walking stick. It seemed likely she would soon have to poke around in leaves and or muck, and it might be nice to have such a thing.

"Without being a fungus expert, I am thinking that the best sort of place would be dampish and perhaps overgrown, with lots of rotting wood to feed the mushrooms. I am thinking that most biologically active mushrooms will live on the forest floor, my reasoning being that halfway up a tree there are fewer creatures a fungus needs to defend itself against."

She walked a bit in silence before venturing further comment.

"So what of yourself? Where do you do your alchemying and what sort of projects are you working on? always assuming I am allowed to ask."
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Old October 6, 2018, 02:35 AM   #13 (permalink)
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It didn't take long for Malicia to happen upon a nice looking stick on the ground. A bit long, but it could easily be fashioned into something that could support her on her little gathering mission here.

A bit of discussion was had as they made their way into the forest. It seemed like randomly stumbling about until they ran into something would be the way to go. If they were unlucky, they'd wander about all day and find nothing!

Well, they weren't quite so unlucky. From behind a bush came a quiet wheezing sound, and a little yellow plume seemed to emanate out from under it, as if somebody had shaken the pollen from a tree. Just... from a bush instead.
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Old October 10, 2018, 04:13 PM   #14 (permalink)
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In comparison to her new companion, Tali felt as if she were the same size as a bug. She certainly had an interest in alchemy, had even dabbed in it a bit with the hag back in Port. However, she didn't have any sort of set-up or lab that she could practice in. She just sort of did it wherever her and her smaller companion wound up!

Perhaps, once things settled down, she could look into that. For now, she gave a firm nod and kept a lookout for potential ingredients. "I was sort of the same way, to be honest. I'm not sure what drew me to the idea of alchemy, but I've quite enjoyed what I've managed to do thus far." She flashed a sheepish grin in the direction of Malicia. "I'm just sort of a free-range alchemist, I suppose."

Poof! Yellow puff of smoke emanated from one of the bushes that her friend had poked. Tali set Niko down onto the ground, under strict orders not to leave, before pulling out a mask that she had gotten from her desert adventure. With that and a spare cloth to try and pick up the foreign substance, Tali inched closer to have a look at what they had found.
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Old October 10, 2018, 11:29 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Malicia swung her stick experimentally in the way that a small child might. A good stick had basic human appeal that transcended the ages.

And then there it was, a bush wheezing yellow dust. Malicia frowned somewhat, despite what seemed to be good luck.

“Let us go in carefully,” she said, urging Talindra to restraint.

“Hello there, denizen of the bush! We have come searching for fungus.”

She followed this declaration with a careful prodding with her stick, passing through the bush at what she felt was greater than mushroom height be likely to poke any smallish creatures that might be wheezing in simulation of a puff mushroom. Only after performing this manuever would she join Talindra in trying to see what it was they had found.
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